Friday, March 25, 2011

We Had Joy, We Had Fun


Book off the shelf time again. Today's more or less random grab is WE HAD JOY, WE HAD FUN a 1994 book apparently based on author Barry Scott's radio series, THE LOST 45's...which I don't think played in my part of the world at all.

The seventies were a unique time in music. Seventies hit records can inspire nostalgia like nothing else to those of us who were there but it's had to listen to them and pronounce them to be all that good today. Looking back with open eyes Scott and his interview/article subjects seem to recognize that for the most part.

It is a fun and nostalgic book without blinders and even the artists I didn't care for are interesting to read about. So which artists are we talking about here?

Terry Jacks and the Poppy Family--As SUSAN Jacks and the Poppy Family, I bought their hit 1970 record, "Which Way You Goin', Billy?" even though it kind of annoyed me at the time. On his own, though, brother Terry a few years later came out with SEASONS IN THE SUN, a deep, profound, catchy and dreadfully depressing song that all us kids thought was amazing!

Albert Hammond-the guy that did "It Never Rains in California" which still gets regular airplay on oldies channels.

Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods--This was a local group here in the Cincinnati area that made it surprisingly big covering the Paper Lace song, "Billy, Don't Be a Hero." In fact, Bo had the hot version in the US and Paper Lace had to wait for their US number one with "The Night Chicago Died." Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods became popular enough to get their own variety TV show briefly and today are still performing.

Tony DeFranco and the DeFranco Family--Family or no family, let's face it--as performers the DeFrancos were Osmond wannabes. I pretty much ignored them back then but caught my wife boppin' to 'em on YouTube recently.

Shaun Cassidy--I think David was more talented musically as well as a better actor but I've grown to admire Shaun as an intelligent TV producer over the years. Still don't like his music.

Rupert Holmes--Hardly forgotten, Holmes expanded into television, novel-writing and Broadway and is these days considered quite the valuable songwriter along the lines of Randy Newman.

Jim Stafford--His countrified novelty songs like "Wildwood Weed" and "My Girl Bill" were a hoot back then and he had a memorable stint as a TV variety host, also. Since then, he's been a mainstay of the Branson theater movement.

Leo Sayer--Always reminded me of Richard Simmons as a singer. For many years, the local public library here had three Leo Sayer CD's but no Beatles. Go figure. Not a favorite.

Gilbert O' Sullivan--Another singer with depressing songs and big bouncy hair, he lightened up a bit in time and his great Irish-tinged and echoed voice made him fun to listen to no matter what.

The Bay City Rollers--Internationally probably the best example of manufactured pop, these young Scottish guys never really hit that big in the US in spite of extensive TV appearances, their own brief series and one of the catchiest songs of all time in "Saturday Night."

Barry White--The voice. Need we say more?

Tony Orlando & Dawn--The very first group I ever saw in concert. Lots of catchy singles, the best variety series of the seventies and NOBODY could ever work a crowd as effortlessly as Tony. His mental well-being necessitated the group's sudden 1977 break-up but he's still out there. Telma Hopkins went on to a successful acting career while Joyce Vincent Wilson returned to session work.

Bobby Sherman--As big as they come at the beginning of the decade, boys wanted to be him and girls just wanted him...even if most were too young to have a clue as to why. Two TV series, a string of hit records and concert appearances and now he's a trivia question. Justin Bieber take note and invest wisely while you can.

Helen Reddy--Her feminist anthem, "I Am Woman," hit at the exact right time. Her many later hits were less assertive and her beautiful, Australian accented voice doesn't deserve to be as forgotten as it is. I actually bought her Greatest Hits album.

The Bee Gees--Ultimately, their disco-style music defined the decade but to say it defined the group itself is so unfair. They started in Australia as children and were already well-established before the Beatles, to whom their early music was compared. Their unique brotherly harmonies transcend the Disco era and it's terrible that their career suffered because of their era of greatest success.

The Captain and Tennille--She the bright-eyed, Southern and loud singer, he the cap-wearing, silent musician and straight man. No reason it should have worked other than their talent. Her voice was exquisite. Their variety TV series was fun but not really a good fit for the duo. Later she became a talk show hostess.

Sonny and Cher--In this case, their variety series defined them. They had been around for a decade since Sonny decided to play Svengali to teenage Cher. In the sixties they were both the ultimate hippie couple and yet a parody of same. TV made them amazingly hip, cool and yet mainstream. It even git their records back on the charts. Their momentum was hardly even hurt when their marriage broke up as--after separate TV series failed-- the network paid them to reunite...for the sake of the ratings! Cher went on to become an award winning actress and solo performer (as well as a gay icon) while Sonny--a closet conservative all along--ended up in Congress.

Olivia Newton-John--Australians were big in the seventies and this one was so beautiful and had such a sweet voice that the hits just kept on coming. An attempt at an acting career landed her only one major role but it was the iconic lead in GREASE.

KC & the Sunshine Band--It was loud and had a big beat. It was pop disco at its most mainstream. You either loved it or hated it. I hated it.

The Partridge Family--Monkees-style sitcom about a musical family with Monkees-style real hit records...and they were good ones! As far as I know the rest of the family never appeared on the recordings at all--just David Cassidy and his real-life stepmom, Shirley Jones...and even then Shirley only sang back-up except for a couple cuts on the Christmas album. The series was funny, the music was good. If only it all hadn't screwed up Danny Bonaduce so much.

The Osmonds--They'd been around a while as a sort of Mormon version of the Lettermen but little Donny made the girls' hearts throb and the rest of the brothers were allowed to rock...and when they were good, they were great!

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