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Volume 7 Of Chuck Small’s “Who Sings It ?“

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If you’ve stuck with me so far but are still wondering:

“Just how many volumes of this did he have?

(Imani and Olivia, sleuthing it out, as they do.)

Here’s your answer: We’re two-thirds through, with three sets to go.

What I found when I was digitizing my vinyl collection was that the 1970s had a lot of hits by artists who otherwise labored in obscurity.

  • Sometimes it was because they were a one-hit wonder. (And as I’ve noted, sometimes those “hits” weren’t ever counted down on AT40.)
  • Sometimes, it was because they made their names in the worlds of R&B, jazz, rock or country and had one or two fleeting moments in the pop spotlight.
  • And sometimes, they were quite well known in the background but not so much in their own right as hitmakers.

Such is the case with the performers kicking off Volume Seven.

Anyone who listened to most of Phil Collins’ 1980s smashes, or some of Huey Lewis and the News’ hits will recognize the name Tower of Power. The group’s horn section rivals those of Chicago or Earth, Wind & Fire for tops in the business.

  • Their Top 20 “So Very Hard to Go” from 1973 was the closest they came to their own smash.
  • Marvin Hamlisch, whose take on the work of Scott Joplin, “The Entertainer,” became a left-field Top 10 hit, was far better known as an orchestra leader and producer for artists such as Barbra Streisand.
  • John Sebastian, known in the ’70s for his No. 1 theme to ABC’s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter,” was better known for his work with the Lovin’ Spoonful in the 1960s.
  • The same could be said for Burton Cummings: 1977’s “Stand Tall” provided a solo hit for a man known for his work with the Guess Who.

Of all the artists in this set, the one with the oddest tale may well be Coven.

For the movie Billy Jack, this Chicago-based group recorded a version of “One Tin Soldier,” a Lambert-Potter composition originally done by the Canadian group Original Caste. Coven’s version hit No. 26 in late 1971.

Here’s where it gets odd:

Whether because of lingering anti-war sentiment in late 1973/early 1974 or simply just because the group recorded a new version in 1973, Chicago’s AM Top 40 stations jumped all over “One Tin Soldier.”

It went to No. 1 on both WCFL and WLS in late 1973/early 1974. That popularity fueled a re-release of the 1971 recording back up to No. 73 on the Hot 100 (several months after the re-recorded version hit No. 79).

Confused? Join the club. I didn’t follow AT40 or Billboard until late 1974, and I could not understand why “One Tin Soldier” wasn’t in the Top 20 of the year. When I learned that Coven’s only appearance with the song came a few years earlier, I couldn’t believe it.

Here’s the YouTube link for “One Tin Soldier”:

Spotify has the Original Caste’s version. The only songs they have by Coven have titles more thematically in keeping with a group of that name.

The other YouTube-only song this time belongs to the Hudson Brothers. Their “Rendezvous” was a chart blip in the fall of 1975:

Here’s the Spotify playlist for Volume Seven:

Your turn!

What ones do you love? What ones do you hate?

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Chuck Small

Journalist-turned-high school counselor. Happily ensconced in Raleigh, N.C., with hubby of 31 years (9 legal).

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LinkCrawford
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January 23, 2024 8:19 am

There are worse pictures you could have chosen for Herbie Mann, mt58. Thank you for your charity.

I really learned to love “The Entertainer” as a kid because of Marvin Hamlisch’s version. Just heard it 3 days ago, too.

One of my happy discoveries from spending time at the mothership during the virtual 70s was that disco medley by Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band. I love that song!

mt58
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January 23, 2024 8:52 am
Reply to  LinkCrawford

The tnocs stylebook says that when an author is referencing singles, we use images of the 45, picture sleeve, cassette, CD-single, etc.

Of course, sometimes rules are made to be broken…

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LinkCrawford
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January 23, 2024 8:57 am
Reply to  mt58

Oh boy

mt58
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January 23, 2024 12:21 pm
Reply to  LinkCrawford

Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Dr. B’s Savannah Band are two of the three major projects created by August Darnell.

Here’s a record by the third. It’s a perfect example of what was going on with Club and dance music in 1978, and features a rare and uncharacteristically controversial storyline. It’s considered a seminal disco classic.

https://youtu.be/1BQTlEJ7j5M?si=Ew60hgnk1aNE8TIL

lovethisconcept
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January 23, 2024 12:32 pm
Reply to  mt58

TIL that there was a connection between Kid Creole and Dr. Buzzard. This makes me inordinately happy. Kid Creole has been a favorite since I first heard Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places many years ago, and I am excited to learn that they were connected to Dr. Buzzard.
Now I must hunt up some more Machine.

mt58
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January 23, 2024 1:02 pm

As is often the case with a controversial lyric, there were some people who didn’t understand that this was not an endorsement of intolerance, but an indictment. It was very unusual and a distinct departure from the usual disco libretto.

When I saw the B-52’s around 1980, Kid Creole was the opening act. They did a Creolesque version of “ There But For The Grace of God,” and it was terrific.

cappiethedog
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January 25, 2024 12:38 am
Reply to  mt58

“Endicott” is an all-time fave. But, oof. The title of that album hasn’t aged well at all.

Aaron3000
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January 25, 2024 12:33 pm
Reply to  LinkCrawford

That’s “Oh mann”, thank you very much.

lovethisconcept
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January 23, 2024 12:23 pm
Reply to  mt58

Oof.

rollerboogie
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rollerboogie
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January 23, 2024 1:05 pm
Reply to  mt58

Speechless

Edith G
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Edith G
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January 23, 2024 1:51 pm
Reply to  mt58

Doctor my eyes! 🫣

Zeusaphone
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January 23, 2024 8:24 am

I remember watching the Hudson Brothers TV show on Saturday mornings.

“The Entertainer” was the first song I taught myself to play on the piano.

Virgindog
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January 23, 2024 10:01 am
Reply to  Zeusaphone

Didn’t they have a nighttime summer replacement series, too?

Zeusaphone
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January 23, 2024 11:17 am
Reply to  Virgindog

If they did I never saw it

mt58
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January 23, 2024 11:58 am
Reply to  cstolliver

I’ll activate the bat signal.

Ozmoe
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January 23, 2024 3:19 pm
Reply to  mt58

The Hudson Brothers had both a 1974 nighttime summer series and a 1974-75 Saturday morning show, followed a few years later by their immortal syndicated series Bonkers. So much effort expended, yet apart from this and the Paul McCartneyesque “So You Are a Star,” they had no other hits to their name.

mt58
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January 23, 2024 4:31 pm
Reply to  Ozmoe

Great job. And nice cape!

Virgindog
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January 23, 2024 11:53 am
Reply to  Virgindog

Aha! From Wikipedia: “They garnered fame as teen idols in the 1970s after their primetime series debuted as a summer replacement for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1974. The resulting popularity led to their Saturday-morning half-hour sketch comedy series for CBS, The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show, which ran from 1974 to 1975”

mt58
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January 23, 2024 12:00 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

“ The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show” is a cute title for a Saturday morning kid show. And as a bonus, it’s evocative of a Japanese variety or game show transliteration.

rollerboogie
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January 23, 2024 1:21 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

but the Bat signal…

Virgindog
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January 23, 2024 10:31 am

This is a mixed bag but there are some real winners here. William DeVaughn, The Tymes, John Sebastian, and Kiki Dee top my list, but I had completely forgotten some of these. Fancy’s “Wild Thing?” I don’t think I’ve heard that since 1974. Likewise, the Herbie Mann and Hudson Brothers songs. And I’m quite sure I’ve never heard 5,000 Volts or Norman Connors. Interesting list, Chuck.

JJ Live At Leeds
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January 23, 2024 12:21 pm

There’s a lot of what is that let alone who sang that today. There’s 5 I definitely know, all the way from the sublime (William DeVaughn) to the Terry Jacks.

Then there’s the acts I know but not for those songs; Kiki Dee, The Tymes (their UK #1 was Ms Grace), John Sebastian and Al Martino (as any self respecting British chart trivia nerd will know – the very first UK #1 in 1952).

And then a whole lot of names I don’t know; whether the artist or the song. Looking forward to listening to find out if I recognise any.

lovethisconcept
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January 23, 2024 12:39 pm

So many memories here:

  1. Always happy to be reminded of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band. I think that I loved them just for being named Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band.
  2. I remember the song by Coven, and I almost remember the original movie that it came from. “Billy Jack” was the first movie that I ever “saw” at a drive-in theater, may they rest in peace.
  3. Loved “The Entertainer” and the movie it came from. Paul and Robert were a great team.
  4. I remember Tower of Power, but the one song of theirs that I remember most was “Only So Much Oil in the Ground” because it came out about the time that I was becoming a devoted environmentalist.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GORzhOH3NMs

rollerboogie
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January 23, 2024 1:17 pm

Some good ones here, and at least one that I passionately hate, but I plan to work that into an article in the future, so we’ll sidestep that for now.

My little sister and I had a habit of “borrowing” my older siblings 45s and wearing them out on our tiny record player. One such 45 was One Tin Soldier. I knew it backwards and forwards and loved it.

The Entertainer was required learning when I was taking piano lessons in the 70s and somehow I never forgot how to play it. At a recent funeral, I learned that the deceased was a fan of ragtime about 5 minutes before start time. Sure enough, I still remembered it from those childhood days and was able to play it while they were closing the casket. Some things don’t ever leave you.

Herbie Mann is an excellent flautist and responsible for some of the rock-bottom cheesiest “jazz” every put to wax. The jazz purists in college taught me that I should detest this with all of my heart, but of course, I dig it-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I_30v6sugw

rollerboogie
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January 23, 2024 1:25 pm

Also, Tower of Power got a mention in Tom’s column, being that their song “Down to the Nightclub” was sampled by Fergie’s #1, “London Bridge”.

mt58
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January 23, 2024 2:25 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

In 2016, I got a gig playing guitar in a funk horn band. Tons of TOP, to include “Nightclub.”
The funny thing is, none of the guys were over 30 years old. They just liked the 70s old school music.

stobgopper
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January 23, 2024 4:10 pm
Reply to  mt58

I would have loved to hear your band’s renditions of ‘You’re Still a Young Man’ or, even better, ‘Sparkling in the Sand.’ TOP was awesome, repped Oaktown and the East Bay well, and, as somebody once wrote, were ‘the greatest bar band ever.’ I think that’s a compliment.

mt58
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January 23, 2024 4:38 pm
Reply to  stobgopper

Unfortunately, they didn’t do YSAYM, This is from memory, but I remember:

“Down To The Nightclub”
“So Very Hard To Go
“Only So Much Oil,”
“What Is Hip”
and “You Got To Funkifize.”

Hmm. “Tell me you’re a tribute band without telling me you’re a tribute band…”

Ozmoe
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January 23, 2024 3:31 pm

So Very Hard to Go is in my top 10 of Songs That Made the Hot 100 Without Making The Top 10 (I know, sounds confusing). At the other end, I’m On Fire sounded like some producers wanted to have a hit disco remake of Black is Black without having to pay the fees for that song, so they just knocked it off and hoped for no plagiarism lawsuits. To my knowledge, that ploy worked for them.

Phylum of Alexandria
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January 23, 2024 5:19 pm

Known songs: 5
Known Artists among Known Songs: 0 (unless you give me a point for knowing Scott Joplin as the composer of the Entertainer)
Score: 0%

Winning!

blu_cheez
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January 23, 2024 5:50 pm

I recognize eight of these! EIGHT!! Woo!!

(mt – any chance we’ll get GIF support at some point?)

mt58
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January 23, 2024 7:10 pm
Reply to  blu_cheez

Hmm. Let me have a look for you, Pauly. Will advise.

Pauly Steyreen
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January 23, 2024 6:15 pm

I know “One Tin Soldier” as a song we had to sing at a middle school church camp in Florida. Of course, we had to come up with our own lyrics. Instead of “One tin solider rides away,” we sang “One tin surfer rides a wave.”

Kentuckians trying to pretend we fit in with the local Floridians…

cappiethedog
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January 24, 2024 6:18 pm

Songs I need to check out, because learning about the lost history of music is the best argument for streaming(you weren’t going to buy something you never heard of in the first place): 2,7,8,9,12,15,16,17,21,22.

I just missed the original run for Welcome Back, Kotter, but the NBC affiliate here ran reruns of the Gabe Kaplan classic, along with What’s Happening, Bewitched, and Good Times. Horshack was my favorite Sweathog. Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington, I am learning, had a life before television. Lawrence Hilton Jacobs appears in two Criterion titles: Claudine, Cooley High. Improbably, that’s one more appearance than Vinnie Barbarino: Brian DePalma’s Blow Out. For the second film, I’m rooting for A Civil Action.

cappiethedog
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January 24, 2024 6:19 pm
Reply to  cappiethedog

Ack. I forgot to mention that I like the John Sebastian song a lot.

Aaron3000
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January 25, 2024 12:52 pm

“One Tin Soldier” shares something with Blondie’s “Call Me” and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”, in that all three were movie songs recorded by the group’s lead singer (in this case Jinx Dawson) without the rest of the band, although the band got label credit. Coven (the entire group) did appear on the re-recorded version though.

“Shame, Shame, Shame” is probably my favorite from this set. Known the song for years, but didn’t have the foggiest notion what Shirley & Company looked like until just a few weeks ago when someone did a reaction video to it. “Company” was not what I expected, but dude definitely has some pipes.

Last edited 26 days ago by Aaron3000
sieglinde
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January 27, 2024 11:10 am

Yazz fruit, anyone?

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