Horny Season

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(Pictured: this website will never miss opportunities to post contemporary pictures of Emmylou Harris. Here she is in April, three weeks past her 74th birthday.) 

Looking over the Bottom 60 from the week of July 12, 1975, there are lots of songs I’ve written about before. In this post, I will try to write about different songs, or say new things.

50. “Philadelphia Freedom” /Elton John. Just out of the Top 40 in its 19th week on the chart. “Philadelphia Freedom” was billed on the label to the Elton John Band, a billing reinforced by the full-band photo on the front of the 45’s picture sleeve. It was a one-shot deal, however. When “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” from Captain Fantastic became a single, it was billed to Elton only.

57. “Fallin’ in Love”/Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds
67. “Fame”/David Bowie
Two records that couldn’t be more different, and would both reach #1 before the end of the summer.

62. “Got to Get You Into My Life”/Blood Sweat and Tears
63. “That’s the Way of the World”/Earth Wind and Fire
65. “Sneakin’ Up Behind You”/Brecker Brothers
The summer of 1975 was a very horny season. In the Top 40 this week, Paul McCartney’s “Listen to What the Man Said” featured a Dixieland-style saxophone; Major Harris got down with a sexy alto sax and Gwen McCrae got up with a whole horn section; Bazuka and AWB did what they did, and “Disco Queen” knocked down Jericho walls. Earth Wind and Fire’s horn section never sounded better than on “That’s the Way of the World.” It was inevitable that BS&T would cut “Got to Get You Into My Life,” although it’s got far less horn punch than the Beatles had, or Earth Wind and Fire’s version would. Randy Brecker was gone from BS&T by 1975, but he and his brother Michael formed their own jazz/soul/fusion outfit. Their self-titled 1975 debut album was nominated for three Grammys, and two tracks from the album remain at least somewhat familiar, “Sneakin’ Up Behind You” and “Some Skunk Funk.” On any list of Names Most Familiar to Nerds Reading the Credits on the Album Cover, the Brecker Brothers would probably be in the Top 10. Other familiar studio cats on “Sneakin’ Up Behind You” include David Sanborn and Will Lee.

79. “Biggest Parakeets in Town”/Jud Strunk. Jud Strunk’s sappy and sentimental “Daisy a Day” rose to #12 in the spring of 1973 at about the same time he was completing his lone season as a member of the cast of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. His Laugh-In persona was a guy from rural Maine, which he was, although he’d been born in New York state. Coming up, he sang in clubs and performed on Broadway, and he made four country-tinged albums between 1970 and 1977. The last one was titled A Semi-Reformed Tequila Crazed Gypsy Looks Back. In 1981, he had a heart attack while flying a private plane and died at the age of 45. “Biggest Parakeets in Town,” a double-entendre novelty recorded live, has a single word of the lyrics bleeped. Even if you remember the words most frequently bleeped in hits of the 70s, you’ll never guess which one gets it here.

81. “Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)”/Johnny Wakelin and the Kinshasa Band. As an indication of just how culturally significant Muhammad Ali was by 1975, you can hardly do better than “Black Superman.” Nobody ever hit so big with a song about Michael Jordan (although rappers loved to name-check him) and even Joe DiMaggio merited only a single verse in “Mrs. Robinson.”

94. “Get Down Tonight”/KC and the Sunshine Band. In its first week on the Hot 100. I heard this the other day and was impressed by it all over again: it smokes.

99. “Honey Trippin'”/Mystic Moods. Record-store browsers of the 70s would have been quite familiar with the Mystic Moods Orchestra, a studio project that mixed instrumentals with environmental sounds (birds, rain, etc.). Although the Mystic Moods albums were intended originally as a showcase for audiophile recording, their stuff eventually assumed another purpose; as Wikipedia puts it, “these were records to serve as the preamble or accompaniment to sexual intercourse.” However, “Honey Trippin'” chugs along too fast for that (ask your wife), and it does so on a solid electric piano groove.

103. “If I Could Only Win Your Love”/Emmylou Harris. “If I Could Only Win Your Love” is my favorite thing by Emmylou, originally written and recorded by the Louvin Brothers in 1958. Emmylou’s version was her first Top 10 country hit; she would have 19 more in the next 15 years.

6 thoughts on “Horny Season

  1. porky

    I always loved the cool, uniform look of Elton’s band (Dee, Davey, and NIgel) to say nothing of their great playing. Davey’s guitar never quite sounded like a guitar, it had an air of mystery.

    In my opinion adding Ray Cooper was unnecessary; even back then I was purist enough to think it folly to employ a percussionist who didn’t/couldn’t really add much. Conga players were on many a bandstand in the 70’s yet unless your band was Santana it was so much padding.

    1. Alvaro Leos

      Has Elton given a reason he fired Dee and Nigel in 1975? The few references I’ve seen say something vague like “he decided it was time to move on”. Shame he never gave his band a real name like the E Street Band, they’d be much more admired if people though of them as more than a backing band.

  2. Wesley

    Jud Strunk was one of several glaring problems with the last (1972-73) season of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in, a group of 24 shows that had been hidden for more than 40 years after they ended until Time Life released all the series on DVD a few years ago. Part of it had to do with executive producer George Schlatter leaving the show by that time. Paul Keyes, a Nixon admirer whose biggest prior credit was the overblown 1970 John Wayne special Swing Out Sweet Land, took over the helm and let the humor become more pun-oriented and juvenile and stupid. Most of the previous cast except for Rowan and Martin left prior to the season, and Jud was one of the newbies who generated few guffaws despite what the overactive laugh track suggested. His biggest recurring role was as a sportscaster in “Laugh-In Looks at the News,” and his yokel characterization while narrating films was a poor substitute for Alan Sues’ campy host in the same segment for years.

    The use of Daisy a Day on Laugh-In also indicated how far the show had fallen from its original freewheeling concept for comedy variety. Back in its first seasons, viewers got a kick at how Sammy Davis Jr. was eager to sing his new hit I’ve Gotta Be Me on the show, only to wind up suffering indignities such as falling down through a trap door before finishing even a few lines. With Jud, however, they decided to let him do pretty much the whole song, a deadly cornball moment of nearly three minutes on a show known for fast cuts and irreverence. Didn’t really matter anyway. By the time he sang the song on the show, its cancellation by NBC executives was a fait accompli as Laugh-In was finishing far behind its competition of Gunsmoke on CBS and The Rookies on ABC, often in the bottom 10 shows for the week. And as a testament to their non-impact, Strunk and the other cast members who joined the series in the 1972-73 season never had another regular nighttime TV series credit.

    I’ll get off the rant by noting one other interesting thing about Strunk’s Biggest Parakeets in Town: it was one of the few (possible only) entries on the Hot 100 by Motown’s Melodyland Records subsidiary for country artists. Renamed Hitsville due to a threatened lawsuit by a Christian center of the same name, it never really took off, and Motown discontinued the imprint in 1977 after three unsuccessful years.

    1. Wesley

      Agreed. Arguably the best record from a classic group. (Also posting this so no one thinks from the previous post that I’m a thoroughly grouchy man right now.)

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