Two For Tuesday: Al Wilson and Blues Image

Looking at the list of songs that reached the Top Ten during my high school years, I see a lot of artists that made it just once. They might have had several other hits before and after the period from June 1970 to September 1974, but only one in the period. I’ll devote this week’s Friday 5×2 to some of the more successful ones, but today I want to cover two songs that were among my favorites.

Al Wilson had a minor hit in 1968 with “The Snake,” which reached #27 on the pop chart and #32 on the R&B chart that year, then worked in relative obscurity until 1973, when “Show and Tell” reached #1 on the Pop chart, #10 on the R&B chart, and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

The other is “Ride, Captain, Ride,” by Florida-based Blues Image, a band that bbroke up shortly after the song was released. The members went their separate ways and worked with Iron Butterfly, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Steppenwolf, Alice Cooper, and Three Dog Night. This single was released in April 1970 from their third and last album, Red, White, and Blues Image, reached the Top Ten in June, and spent five weeks there, peaking at #4.

Al Wilson and Blues Image, your Two for Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Two For Tuesday: Apollo 100 and Hot Butter

As I mentioned the other day, I plan on doing bands from my high school days through the end of August, at which time I’ll move on to a new theme. (If you have any ideas for a new theme, by all means, I’m open to suggestions.) I’ll count down the five acts that were most popular in August, but for this post and the next, I want to feature a couple of “one-hit wonders” that I especially liked.

One of them is Apollo 100. They were a British instrumental band led by multi-instrumentalist Tom Parker who had one hit in 1972, “Joy,” a rendering of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring.” It spent four weeks in the Top Ten, peaking at #6.

The other is Hot Butter, led by keyboardist Stan Free. They had a novelty hit in 1972 with “Popcorn,” a synthpop song which displayed the capabilities of the Moog Synthesizer. It was a cover of composer Gershon Kingsley’s 1969 song. It spent four weeks in the Top Ten, peaking at #9.

Neither Apollo 100 nor Hot Butter lasted very long. Apollo 100 broke up in 1973 after having released two albums, while Hot Butter released five albums and lasted through 1978. They recorded some good music, much of which is available on YouTube.

Apollo 100 and Hot Butter, your Two for Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

Two for Tuesday: The Partridge Family (High School Days)

Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. The next group on my list is The Partridge Family, which placed three songs in the Top Ten and spent a total of eighteen weeks there.

The Partridge Family on TV included Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce, Suzanne Crough, and Jeremy Gelbwax (who was replaced by Brian Forster after the first season) in addition to Shirley Jones and her stepson, David Cassidy. On the records, it was just Shirley and David in the studio with session musicians (I would guess one or more members of the Wrecking Crew accompanied them).

By far, the band’s most-popular record was “I Think I Love You,” which entered the Top Ten in November 1970 and spent eleven weeks there, peaking at #1 and selling about five million records.

Their followup record was “Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted,” which reached the Top Ten in March 1971 and spent six weeks there, reaching #6. A side note: this was the record that was playing on WOWO-AM in Fort Wayne, Indiana the day someone sent the wrong message across the Emergency Broadcast System and put the nation on high alert (listen here).

The Partridge Family was very popular among the “tween” set during the early Seventies, which didn’t sit well with David Cassidy, who felt stifled by his teen idol status. He appeared naked on the cover of Rolling Stone in an effort to shake his squeaky-clean image. The show lasted four years on television, and the Partridges released 9 albums in that pertiod of time. Recently, David announced he was in the early stages of dementia.

The Partridge Family, your Two for Tuesday, July 11, 2017.

Encore Presentation: Two For Tuesday: Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops

This was my second-ever Two for Tuesday, from July 3, 2012

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the United States, and what could be more American than Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra playing two marches by John Philip Sousa?

The song many people (including me) associate the most with Fiedler is Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Fiedler started the tradition of a Fourth of July Concert with fireworks on the Charles River Esplanade, and always ended the concert with it. After his death in 1979, John Williams, who took over as director of the Boston Pops, ended his first concert with the tune, vacating the conductor’s podium in his honor.

John Philip Sousa was the director of the United States Marine Corps band, and wrote “Semper Fidelis” as their official march. I include it here because “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful) is not only the motto of the Marines, but of the Holton family.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow countrymen, and Happy 4th of July to everyone else!

Two For Tuesday: Gilbert O’Sullivan (High School Days)

I thought I had written about Raymond Edward “Gilbert” O’Sullivan before this, but evidently I hadn’t.

Gilbert O’Sullivan had three songs that reached the Top Ten, and they spent a total of 21 weeks there. He was generally more popular in the UK and his native Ireland. His biggest hit was his first, “Alone Again (Naturally),” which hit the Top Ten in July 1972 and spent six non-consecutive weeks at #1. It was barely edged out by Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” as the #1 record of the year. There’s an interesting video on YouTube where he tells the true story behind the lyrics. Basically, none of the things that happened in the song happened to him.

O’Sullivan’s follow-up song, “Clair,” peaked at #2 later that year, spending seven weeks in the Top Ten in December and on into January 1973. Clair was the daughter of Gilbert’s producer and owner of MAM Records, Gordon Mills. More on him in a minute.

Gilbert had one more Top Ten hit in the US, “Get Down,” which reached #7 and spent two weeks in the Top Ten. Sales fell off after that, and in the mid-Seventies he discovered that the recording contract he had with MAM Records and Gordon Mills benefitted Mills much more than him. He sued and endured a protracted legal battle. In 1982 the court found in his favor and awarded him £7 million. He continues to record and perform, being especially popular in Japan.

Gilbert O’Sullivan, your Two for Tuesday, July 4, 2017.