Just a Little More, Baby

This week marks the end of the line for Tales of ’73. The question of just what it was about that year remains mostly unanswered. One thing I did achieve, however, is a greater appreciation for the music of that year. I still wouldn’t rank it with my favorite musical years, but it was better than I remembered. So here’s a year-end music survey from KSTT in Davenport, Iowa. Several Hall-of-Fame radio talents walked through its doors as young men, including Chicago jock Spike O’Dell, Los Angeles DJ and programmer Bobby Rich, and Magic 98 creator Bill Vancil. I’m gonna write about the Top 50, but you can see the whole list of 100 here.

50. “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”/Spinners. You may remember Moira, the unattainable girl I fell in love with when I first got to junior high. I saw her at my class reunion this past summer. I wondered if she would remember me. To my mild surprise, she did.

49. “Ramblin’ Man”/Allman Brothers Band. In a year that seems jumbled and confused, it’s fitting that a proto-jam band would find its way onto the radio with a single that didn’t sound like anything else that year.

48. “Cover of the Rolling Stone”/Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. “I got a freaky old lady name of Cocaine Katy,” and she was on the radio every couple of hours in that less-uptight era.

47. “Smoke on the Water”/Deep Purple. If I’m recalling correctly, a lot of radio stations played the live version, from Made in Japan, while the song was on the charts, and it’s the one you want. The studio version, from Machine Head, tells you the story. The live version puts you in the middle of the fire, although the remastered recording at that link sounds a little dry compared to other versions of it I’ve heard.

46. “Daniel”/Elton John. I’d rank this among my half-dozen favorite Elton songs of all time.

45. “Angie”/Rolling Stones. There are not many Stones songs I like less than “Angie,” but on a close listen earlier this year, it got to me anyway.

44. “Dancing in the Moonlight”/King Harvest. Certain songs on this list make me remember not only who I was in 1973, but who I wanted to be, and the realization, then and now, that I wasn’t ever going to be that other person.

43. “I’m Doin’ Fine Now”/New York City. I am a big fan of Tom Moulton’s remixes of Philly soul classics because who isn’t, and “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” is one of his masterworks.

42. “Neither One of Us”/Gladys Knight and the Pips. Soul music was still going strong in this year.

41. “If You Want Me to Stay”/Sly and the Family Stone. Funk music, too.

40. “Last Song”/Edward Bear. I left the light on for you, Moira.

39. “Daddy’s Home”/Jermaine Jackson. A decent version of a doo-wop classic, albeit a strange choice for a guy who was barely 18 when it was recorded.

38. “Long Train Runnin'”/Doobie Brothers. Should you need to sum up the Doobie Brothers’ pre-Michael McDonald sound in a single song, this is it.

37. “Diamond Girl”/Seals and Crofts. During the first half of the 70s, the best five days every summer were spent at the county fair. This is one of the songs that was on the radio constantly during that week in 1973.

36. “Natural High”/Bloodstone. This song had one of the weirder chart profiles you’ll ever see, spending three straight weeks at #23 on its way out of the Hot 100.

35. “Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose”/Tony Orlando and Dawn. I wrote about this one at Popdose a few years ago: “as subtle as a pie in the face followed by a spritz from a seltzer bottle.”

34. “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby”/Barry White. At some point around the turn of the 70s, I learned about the birds and the bees. My parents gave us a set of books and said, “Read these.” The books were quite good, actually, explaining in non-euphemistic terms exactly how the process worked. But those were the science lessons. Barry White taught about the art.

Look for more in the next installment, which will be on Friday.

6 thoughts on “Just a Little More, Baby

  1. Wesley

    “I’m Doin’ Fine Now,” “If You Want Me to Stay” and “Natural High” deserve greater rotation on oldies stations, if you ask me. As for “Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose,” Tony Orlando and Dawn ought to be grateful stations would add their later records after this hit. I can’t imagine anyone keeping this in rotation after 1973 ended.

  2. Re. “Smoke On The Water”: I thought for years that the last lines (“Whatever it is we get out of this / I know we’ll never forget”) were kind of a weak, weird way to end.
    It didn’t occur to me until recently that, when the band wrote those lines, they were still in the middle of their fix — still stranded in a hotel in Montreux, hastily improvising the LP they owed their label — and they really *didn’t* have any idea how everything was going to shake out.
    All’s well that ends well, I guess.

    I used to love Made In Japan; I dunno as I go for extended jams like I used to, but I should throw it on again sometime anyway.

    Given that I have a passing interest in 1973, I hope you’ll revisit it from time to time anyway, even if fives or zeros won’t be involved next year.

  3. mikehagerty

    They were the best of hits, they were the worst of hits.

    ’73 was the year I graduated high school, and for every great record, there seemed to be an equal polar opposite. “Natural High” and “Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose” are a great example.

    Bloodstone’s extended stay in one spot as it went down the charts may have been continuing sales in stores in African-American neighborhoods. It was #10 pop, but #4 R&B.

    And Tony Orlando & Dawn was almost certainly due to their summer replacement TV show having just launched. It was the second single in a batch of three chart hits spurred by the success of “Tie A Yellow Ribbon (Round the Old Oak Tree)”, but the third—“Who’s In The Strawberry Patch With Sally”, really wasn’t a hit, peaking at #27.

  4. Scott Bennett

    The live version of Smoke on the Water was played extensively in Maine as well. My friend, who is just young enough to have missed its chart run, doesn’t remember the live version at all.

  5. John Gallagher

    1973 was one of my favorite years in music.

    We’re An American Band just explodes out of the radio. In my case, listening to 70s on 7. Sounds as good now as it did then. I almost want to say it really put Grand Funk on the map.

    As a former radio guy and now wedding DJ entertainer, I’ve always preferred the live 45 version of Smoke On The Water, In fact, I have the mono version in my music library. Probably, a fold down.

    As for Half Breed, I go round and round about that song. Yes, it hit #1. Yes, I have it in my music library. But, I’ve pulled it and Dark Lady out and put them both back in my music library more times than I can count.

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