Don’s Top 10 From March 24, 1974
Back into time once again, with the local hit singles from Sunday, March 24, 1974.
“Jet” by Paul McCartney & Wings
(#9 last week) The “Band On The Run” album, generally regarded as McCartney’s best post-Beatles work, was mainly recorded in Lagos, Nigeria. But the band saved this power-pop gem for the EMI Studios in London. If you collect vinyl singles & have one of the first copies with “Mamunia” on the flip, that’s probably worth something, because it was quickly replaced with “Let Me Roll It”. So, what or who was “Jet”? It was thought that Sir Paul owned a Labrador retriever with that name, but McCartney, in a 2010 interview, said that it was a PONY named Jet that the song was named for.
“Eres Tu (Touch The Wind)” by Mocedades
(#10 last week) This, believe it or not, is the only national top 10 hit ever on the American chart to be sung entirely in Spanish. There have been five artists, Mocedades among them, from Spain to have had American top 10 hits. The others? Los Bravos, Julio Iglesias, Enrique Iglesias & Los Del Rio. The “B” side was called “Touch The Wind”, but the song was not translated literally into English. A whole new set of lyrics were written. “Eres Tu” came in 2nd place in the 1973 Eurovision Song contest, sort of a World Cup Of Soccer for songs, represented by countries. It got a huge worldwide audience every year, except in the U.S. I’ve always loved this beautiful song! It’s the vocals AND the sweeping instrumentation. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore…..
“TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” by MFSB featuring The Three Degrees
(#13 last week) The second of (I think) four, count ’em, four, themes to TV’s “Soul Train” during the show’s run (my favorite was actually the very funky first one). Strangely, Don Cornelius, the creator and host of Soul Train, refused to allow any references to the name of the TV series when the single was released, requiring songwriters Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff to adopt the alternate title for the release. Cornelius would later admit that not allowing the single to be named “Soul Train” was a major mistake on his part.
“Rock On” by David Essex
(#8 last week) What an unusual song! It sounded like nothing else on the radio in 1974. It still stands out. It lyrically is an homage to the late 50s, & that’s because this is a moviesong, from the closing credits of “That’ll Be The Day”, a little-remembered British movie that Essex starred in about the rags-to-riches story of a rocker named Jim MacLain, along with Ringo Starr & Adam Faith, two guys who know about that subject. David Essex may have been a one-hit wonder here, but not in the U.K., where he had starred on stage in “The Fantasticks” & “Godspell” before his movie & music careers took off. Other hits followed there, but not here. The spookiness of this record remains.
“Hooked On A Feeling” by Blue Swede
(#12 last week) A straightforward, “normal” hit for B.J. Thomas in 1969, this was first remade by Brit Jonathan King in 1971, adding ooga chaka jungle chants similar to, but not exactly the same as a 1960 hit by Johnny Preston, “Running Bear”. King described it as “a reggae rhythm by male voices”. It was a moderate hit in the U.K. And now, in 1974, the Swedish group Blue Swede revives King’s gonzo version, not B.J.’s original arrangement.
“Mockingbird” by Carly Simon & James Taylor
(#5 last week) A brother & sister (Charlie & Inez Foxx) took this adaption of a children’s song (“Hush Little Baby”) into the top 10 in 1963, & now a husband-and-wife team do the same in ’74. On the recording, you can hear Dr. John on keyboards, Robbie Robertson (The Band) on rhythm guitar & Michael Brecker on tenor sax. It was done for Carly’s album “Hotcakes”, but it was James who remembered the original & suggested they record it.
“Boogie Down” by Eddie Kendricks
(#3 last week) It surprises me when I can’t find stuff on youtube. I can’t find either the single version of this, or a Kendricks TV appearance doing it. Talk about a killer followup to the #1 smash “Keep On Truckin”! “Boogie Down” was almost as exciting, with an unusual-for-the-time long second half that was really distinctive musically.
“Sunshine On My Shoulders” by John Denver
(#6 last week) This smash, which made Denver a superstar, was originally the B-side of one of his earlier songs, “I’d Rather Be a Cowboy.” John Denver made people happy with his songs. He helped people like my mom, who was a big fan suffering from cancer, feel better. I’ll never forget that, or John.
“Dark Lady” by Cher
(#2 last week) Have any rappers ever listened to the lyrics of this? It is NASTY! Suprisingly, it was written by the keyboardist of surf-rockers The Ventures, John Durrell. Cher’s then-producer Snuff Garrett read Durrell’s words & asked for a rewrite, making sure everyone got killed! There was also a cartoon video made for the song.
“Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks
(#1 last week; 4th week at #1) Terry Jacks had been a member of The Poppy Family, who hit big in 1970 with “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” (Terry’s then-wife Susan sang lead). “Seasons In The Sun” has a fascinating history. It was written in 1961 by French composer Jacques Brel as “Le Moribond” (“The Dying Man”). Rod McKuen, the famed poet, wrote English lyrics that the Kingston Trio recorded in 1964. After both the Poppy Family & the Jacks’ marriage broke up, Terry was hired by the Beach Boys for session work. He remembered the Kingston Trio recording & suggested the Beach Boys cut it. They did, but decided not to release it, & mourning a pal who had unexpectedly died, Jacks recorded it. But the finished tape then sat on his shelf for over a year. When a newspaper delivery boy heard Terry playing the tape one day & told him how much he loved it, Terry decided to release the single himself on his own label. It became a Canadian smash, & Bell Records bought the master for the U.S. It was a #1 hit here, too, & probably the most polarizing song of 1974, a year filled with such songs.