The Forgotten Hits: 70’s Soft Rock 2

Every era and genre of music has songs that were popular in their day, but whose footprints have been washed from the sand over time. Our goal in this series of posts is to resurrect their memory; to help in a small way to reverse the process of the “top tenning” of oldies formats, which reduce hit makers from previous decades to their most popular song or two and then overplay them until you almost loathe an artist you used to enjoy (think “Sweet Caroline” or “Don’t Stop Believin'”).

I’ll be citing the Billboard pop charts for reference. Billboard Hot 100 charts of the 60’s and 70’s were a much more accurate reflection of a song’s popularity, before there were so many other ways for a song to enter the public consciousness (reflected by the number of pop charts Billboard now uses). It was an era when radio ruled–before a car commercial, social music sharing site, or Glee were equally likely ways for a song to break through.

We continue our little tour of the vanished Soft Rock hits of the 70’s, hoping to jog a few pleasant memories…

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BENNY SANTINI LP (VINYL) UK MAGNET 1978

Chris Rea: “Fool (If You Think it’s Over)”

#12 in 1978

Chris Rea was a much more prominent figure at home in England than he ever became in the U.S. Here, he was a true one-hit entity, that hit being 1978’s #12 charting “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)”. Even if you recall the song, I’m guessing you didn’t attach Rea’s name to it.

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Angel Baby

Toby Beau: “My Angel Baby”

#13 in 1978

Toby Beau isn’t a dude, it’s a band from Texas. They were already touring with heavyweights like the Doobie Brothers, Steve Miller Band and Bob Seger when this song became a smash hit. But the lack of a follow-up put a strain on the band that began to tear it apart even before a second album was released. A sad and too familiar tale. This three and a half minutes is the difference between one-hit wonder and band you probably never would have heard of. At least they had their moment.

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Midnight Light

LeBlanc & Carr: “Falling”

#13 in 1978

LeBlanc & Carr. I’ll say that once again: LeBlanc & Carr. Anything? 1977’s “Falling” was their sole foray into the top 40, their three minutes, twelve seconds of fame. Lenny LeBlanc later went into the Contemporary Christian field, sealing their fate as one of many 70’s one-hit wonders no one seems to remember by name. This particular bit of wimpy pop was and is a favorite of mine.

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dialogue LP

Michael Johnson: “This Night Won’t Last Forever”

#19 in 1979

Michael Johnson hit the top twenty twice in the decade of the 70’s. One song will likely be fresher in your memory than the other, although come to think of it I can’t remember the last time I heard either on the radio. Still, the man has his fans, even if programming directors don’t appear to be among them. His out of print hits compilations are priced between 50 and 150 dollars on Amazon.com.

I’m guessing that if you’re old enough, “Bluer Than Blue” (#12 in ’78) is very familiar:

But I bet it’s been a while since “This Night Won’t Last Forever” floated through your transom. Its #19 chart peak doesn’t qualify it for the top ten-only formats of many oldies radio stations, like so many other nice tunes.

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Takin It Easy One on One

Seals & Crofts: “My Fair Share”

#28 in 1977

“You’re the Love”

#18 in 1978

Seals & Crofts made the airwaves a softer, more tuneful place between the years of 1972 and 1976 with such top ten hits as “Summer Breeze”, “Diamond Girl” and “Get Closer”. But a greatest hits collection followed at that point, dooming any subsequent hits to obscurity, a phenomenon I refer to as “premature compilation”. Since their “Greatest Hits” is one of the very few compilations from the days of vinyl that hasn’t to this day been updated and expanded for the CD era, two forgotten Seals & Crofts hits are topic for this post.

“My Fair Share” was the love theme from the Robby Benson movie One On One. (Admit it: you saw it and you loved it. You also dug The Blue Lagoon, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?) Anyway, the song went to number 28 in 1977.

“You’re the Love” was a bit of a disco thing from early 1978, and it made its way to #18 during the height of Saturday Night Fever um, fever. Good strategy? Hard to say: it was the last time Seals & Crofts cracked the top 40. Maybe if they’d come up with a punk single…

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Dowdy Ferry Road

England Dan & John Ford Coley: “Gone Too Far”

#23 in 1977

England Dan & John Ford Coley were kings of mid- to late-’70’s soft-serve pop; they defined the genre–like Bread did the first half of the decade. And for fans of that flavor of music it’s a damn shame that in subsequent years radio effectively made one-hit wonders of them, choosing to give their number two hit, “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” virtually all the spins and ignoring other top 40 hits such as: “Nights Are Forever Without You”, “It’s Sad To Belong”, “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again”, and Todd Rundgren’s “Love is the Answer” (which features a strange John Hiatt cameo at about 2:49, by the way).

But probably the most “forgotten” of their hits is “Gone Too Far”. This one really didn’t survive the decade that gave it to us.

“England” Dan Seals (who passed away of cancer in 2009) was the brother of Jim Seals of Seals & Crofts, and I wish I could say I’d thought through this article thoroughly enough that it’s anything but a coincidence his entry falls below theirs. Dan became a hit country artist in the 80’s, like so many other pop acts of the ’70’s (Exile, the Bellamy Brothers, Michael Johnson, Michael Murphey…)

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SHOPPING BAG LP (VINYL) US BELL 1972

The Partridge Family: “It’s One of Those Nights (Yes Love)”

#20 in 1972

The Partridge Family, if they’re played on radio at all anymore, are represented by the Tony Romeo-penned 1970 pop gem “I Think I Love You”. And that’s really about it. Except it wasn’t. Because if you were there you know that they hit the top 40 more than once (seven times actually) with well-crafted, well-performed, well, okay, bubblegum during the run of their hit TV series. But this bubblegum was performed and arranged by the best session aces in the business–the famed L.A. Wrecking Crew (sorry to disappoint you if you thought that was really Tracy on tambourine and wood block). And even as the Partridge Family TV show lost its ability after a couple of seasons to push singles up the chart, it wasn’t because the singles diminished in quality. In fact, they even evolved somewhat into the more sophisticated adult contemporary sound you hear on “It’s One of Those Nights (Yes Love)”, which was also written by Tony Romeo.

Listen to the interplay of the woodwinds and horns…the “Aaahh” harmonies after each chorus that swell like the “waves upon the shore” of the lyric…and Lori gets the best acoustic guitar tones from that little piano…

Seriously, anything the Wrecking Crew recorded is worth three minutes of a pop fan’s time, even if it’s from a TV show featuring the lead singer equivalent of Captain James T. Kirk.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tommy
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 08:58:14

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    Reply

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