Friday, December 11, 1970

John Lennon released Plastic Ono Band: December 11, 1970

Originally posted December 11, 2012.

image from spinner.com


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Mother (1/9/71; #43 US) / Hold On / I Found Out / Working Class Hero / Isolation / Remember / Love (11/21/82; #41 UK) / Well Well Well / Look at Me / God / My Mummy’s Dead

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 2.0 world

Peak: 6 US, 11 UK

Rating:


Review: For his first official solo record, John Lennon serves “an unflinching document of bare-bones despair” TL in “an often painful, soul-baring musical therapy session.” PR He “created a harrowing set of unflinchingly personal songs, laying out all of his fears and angers for everyone to hear.” AMG On “rock & roll’s most self-revelatory recording,” RS500 he purges “just about everything there is to purge” DBW as he “charts his loss of faith in his parents, country, friends, fans, and idols,” AMG “including his own former band (‘I don’t believe in Beatles,’ he sings in God).” RS500 “It was a revolutionary record – never before had a record been so explicitly introspective, and very few records made absolutely no concession to the audience’s expectations, daring the listeners to meet all the artist’s demands.” AMG

God

“Which isn’t to say that the record is unlistenable.” AMG “It is ultimately life-affirming.” AMG “Few albums are ever as harrowing, difficult, and rewarding.” AMG “Always direct, hard-hitting and tender by turns, almost every track here is a gem.” DBW Lennon delivers “harrowing confessionals (Isolation),” JA and “deals with childhood loss in Mother,” RS500 but “there’s also room for a fragile sense of possibility (see Hold On).” RS500

Mother

“This is the ultimate in underproduced, but brilliantly written rock.” JA These “stark, minimally-arranged songs” DBW were “recorded with a bare-bones trio [Ringo Starr on drums, Klaus Voorman on bass] and majestically produced by Phil Spector” TL “in the most uncharacteristically minimal way imaginable.” JA Spector “resists the temptation to swamp the songs in saccharine-sweet strings and ethereal choirs, opting instead for a sparse, intimate sound which kept John’s emotionally draining confessional sharply in focus.” PR The album “in its echo-drenched, garage-rock crudity, is years ahead of punk.” RS500

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In addition, Lennon’s “still-underrated singing stands with rock’s finest.” TL and “his melodies remain strong and memorable, which actually intensifies the pain and rage of the songs.” AMG His “writing was never sharper.” TL

Working Class Hero

Lennon also “milks every style he knew to the hilt;” JA “songs range from tough rock & rollers to piano-based ballads and spare folk songs.” TL He delivers “nihilistic protest songs (the masterful Working Class Hero, I Found Out),” JA “raging proto-punk” (Well Well Well), TL and “elegant, understated love songs” (Look at Me, Love). JAPlastic Ono Band continues to be an incredibly moving listening experience” AZ which is “essential for anyone with even a passing interest in Lennon’s work” JA and “a must-own for any rock fan.” AZ

Love


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Saturday, November 28, 1970

11/28/1970: George Harrison charts with “My Sweet Lord”

image from fansshare.com


George Harrison “My Sweet Lord”


Writer(s): George Harrison (see lyrics here)

First charted: 11/28/1970

Peak: 14, 10 AC, 16 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.9 UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): 3.0 Video Airplay (in millions): 6.0


Review: While George Harrison’s songwriting talents were overshadowed during his stint with the Beatles by bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney, TB-122 he was the first to have a hit as an ex-Beatle. RS500 That song, “My Sweet Lord,” was nearly given away – and it was later claimed to have never belonged to Harrison in the first place.

Harrison originally gave the song to Billy Preston, who was due to release a single of the song in September 1970. When it was withdrawn, Harrison released his own version. BR1-286 Harrison had wanted to write an uplifting song and turned to the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Happy Day” for inspiration. Wary of committing to a specific religious belief, HL-59 Harrison came up with what he called “a simple idea of how to do a Western pop equivalent of a mantra, which repeats holy names over and over again.’” HL-59

The result was a “hook…as catchy as anything he ever came up with in The Beatles.” BBC However, publishers of the 1963 Chiffons’ hit “He’s So Fine” felt like the hook wasn’t Harrison’s to use and sued him for copyright infringement. BBC A March 6, 1971 article in Billboard magazine confirmed that Harrison’s royalties had been halted worldwide until the case was settled. BR1-286

It wasn’t until 1976 BBC that a judge ruled that George was innocent of stealing KL-168-9 but was guilty of “unconscious plagiarism.” BBC Bright Tunes music got more than a half million dollars from the settlement. SF George has responded saying, “I still don’t understand how the courts aren’t filled with similar cases…as 99 per cent of popular music is reminiscent of something or other.” HL-59


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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


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Friday, November 27, 1970

George Harrison released All Things Must Pass: November 27, 1970

Originally posted November 27, 2011.



As the first triple album issued by a solo artist, WK All Things Must Pass shredded George Harrison’s reputation as “the quiet Beatle,” proving that he had plenty to say. Originally the album was packed as two LPs for the vinyl release and then a third album, called Apple Jam, collected informal jams which Harrison led with accompaniment by some of his famous musician friends. This latter material makes for the albums only “significant flaw: the jams… are entirely dispensable, and have probably only been played once or twice by most of the listeners that own this record.” RU

However, in all other ways this is “a very moving work” RU that is, “Without a doubt, Harrison’s…best.” RU “Harrison crafted material that managed the rare feat of conveying spiritual mysticism without sacrificing his gifts for melody and grand, sweeping arrangements. Enhanced by Phil Spector’s lush orchestral production, and Harrison’s own superb slide guitar, nearly every song is excellent: Awaiting on You All, Beware of Darkness, the Dylan collaboration I’d Have You Anytime, Isn’t It a Pity, and the hit singles My Sweet Lord and What Is Life are just a few of the highlights.” RU

Harrison had accumulated songs from as far back as 1966. WK In 1968, Harrison crafted more songs when he visited Bob Dylan and The Band in Woodstock, New York. “I’d Have You Anytime,” co-written with Dylan, came out of this period. Harrison would also tackle a Dylan cover, If Not for You, a result of Harrison’s participation in Dylan’s starting sessions for the 1970 album New Morning. WK

During the Beatles’ 1969 Get Back sessions (work that would eventually become 1970’s final Beatles’ album, Let It Be), Harrison introduced early versions of the title track, Let It Down, and Window, Window. Harrison also wrote Wah-Wah during this tense period in which he temporarily departed from the Beatles. WK

While touring with Delaney & Bonnie in late 1969, Harrison began writing “My Sweet Lord.” Delaney & Bonnie’s backing group would also become an important entity to Harrison as he would use them on All Things. WK That collective included Eric Clapton, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, and Jim Gordon – who would all participate in the Clapton-led Derek & the Dominos project.

The album would start coming together between August and September of 1970. Harrison enlisted Phil Spector, who worked on the Beatles’ Let It Be album, to give the album “a heavy and reverb-oriented sound,” WK although Harrison would later regret the decision, saying in the press kit for the album’s 30th anniversary reissue that it resulted in “too much echo.” WK




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Saturday, November 21, 1970

11/21/1970: Elton John charts with “Your Song”

image from youtube.com


Elton John “Your Song”


Writer(s): Elton John, Bernie Taupin (see lyrics here)

Released: 10/26/1970, First charted: 11/21/1970

Peak: 8 US, 9 AC, 7 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.18 UK, 0.18 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): 7.0 Video Airplay (in millions): 138.9


Review: Elton John established himself as one of the legendary singers in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, fed by a steady diet of lyrics supplied by Bernie Taupin in one of the great musical partnerships. The two met by chance when both responded to a talent ad placed by Liberty Records in New Musical Express. TB-123 The label wasn’t overly impressed with either of them individually, but saw potential in pairing them. They hit it off immediately “and one of pop’s most enduring collaborations was born.” BBC

As is common with successful artists, the pair’s first hit was the one that become their most beloved. BBC Taupin was all of seventeen when he crafted the words over a breakfast of scrambled eggs at Elton’s mother’s house. TB-123 Still, it took four years before the song became a hit. BBC In the meantime, Elton released three albums and five singles. TB-123 “Your Song,” released in conjunction with John’s second U.S. visit, TB-123 finally gave them their breakthrough and “put Elton John on the map.” CR-827

The song is built around “Elton’s uncomplicated music” BBC and “Taupin’s unpretentious lyrics,” BBC which, in this case, were “unusually direct.” CR-827 The “hugely romantic, everyman love song” MC is “playfully self referential, deliberately awkward, mock inarticulate.” MC No one but an awkward teenager, who as Taupin said, “had never got laid in his life,” BBC could have captured the striking innocence behind the song. BBC While Taupin insisted that the song wasn’t directed at anyone particularly, Elton has maintained that one of Bernie’s old girlfriends was the inspiration. RS500

Producer Gus Dudgeon and string arranger Paul Buckmeister also deserve some credit for the song. They were able to give the song “a lush soundscape that was neither saccharine middle-of-the-road nor too avant-garde.” CR-827


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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


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Nov. 21, 1970: Jesus Christ Superstar studio album released

First posted October 10, 2011. Last updated September 4, 2018.

Jesus Christ Superstar (studio/cast/soundtrack)

Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice (composers)

Studio Album Released: Nov. 21, 1970

First Stage Production: October 12, 1971

Cast Album Released: January 8, 1972

Soundtrack Released: June 30, 1973


Sales (in millions):
US: 0.5 sr, 6.0 c, 1.0 s
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 7.5 sr+c+s


Peak:
US: 1 3-sr, 31 c, 21 s
UK: 23 s
Canada: 1 3-sr
Australia: 1 10-a

sr Studio Recording
c Cast Album
s Soundtrack
a 1992 Australian cast

Quotable: --


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks:

  1. Overture
  2. Heaven on Their Minds
  3. What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying
  4. Then We Are Decided s
  5. Everything’s Alright
  6. This Jesus Must Die
  7. Hosanna
  8. Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem
  9. Pilate’s Dream
  10. The Temple
  11. Everything’s Alright sr
  12. I Don’t Know How to Love Him
  13. Damned for All Time/Blood Money
  14. The Last Supper
  15. Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)
  16. The Arrest
  17. Peter’s Denial
  18. Pilate and Christ
  19. King Herod’s Song (Try It and See)
  20. Could We Start Again, Please? s
  21. Judas’ Death
  22. Trial Before Pilate (Including the 39 Lashes)
  23. Superstar
  24. Crucifixion
  25. John Nineteen: Forty-One

Songs followed by sr, c, or s indicate that the song was unique to that version of the album.


Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Superstar (MURRAY HEAD) (1/31/70) #14 US
  • Superstar (ASSEMBLED MULTITUDE) (2/6/71) #95 US
  • I Don’t Know How to Love Him (HELEN REDDY) (2/20/71) #13 US
  • I Don’t Know How to Love Him/Everything’s Alright (THE KIMBERLYS) (3/20/71) #99 US
  • I Don’t Know How to Love Him (YVONNE ELLIMAN) (4/24/71) #28 US
  • Everything’s Alright (YVONNE ELLIMAN) (9/25/71) #92 US

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.

Review:

Jesus Christ Superstar didn’t follow the conventional stage production/cast album/soundtrack format. It started out as a studio album which topped the U.S. charts before being staged in a theatrical context. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, 21, and lyricist Tim Rice, 25, conceived it as a stage work, but when they couldn’t get the funding, they opted “to use an album as the vehicle for introducing the piece.” BE

It “seemed to pick up where the Who’s Tommy…and Hair had left off, and audiences from across the age and cultural spectrum responded. Teenagers who didn’t know from Jesus, opera, or oratorios liked the beat, the hard rock sounds, and the singing and bought the album, as did parents who felt that the record offered a chance to understand some aspects of this youth culture around them, and especially its music – and so did some more forward-thinking clergy and theologians, who saw any opportunity to spread the word about Jesus where it wasn’t previously going as intrinsically good.” BE

The subject matter of Jesus Christ viewed from the point of Judas was “as daring as you could get” WR and “perhaps downright sacrilegious.” BE “It succeeds in all ways.” WR The story focuses on Judas and his “political and interpersonal struggles” WK with Jesus. Judas “is depicted as a conflicted, tragic figure” WK alarmed by Jesus’ lack of planning and “relatively recent claims of his divinity.” WK

“Just as remarkable as its subject matter was the fact that its musical language was full-blown rock music.” BE Hair was “really a pop/show-music pastiche, not rock” WR which distinguished Superstar as a “fairly radical rock/theater hybrid” BE in being the first to “successfully put rock music in a theatrical context.” WR It is also technically an operetta since it is completely sung through without spoken dialogue. WR

“The part of Jesus was sung by Ian Gillan, lead singer of Deep Purple, and that of Judas by Murray Head…The title song, Superstar, sung by Judas, and I Don't Know How to Love Him, sung by Mary Magdalene (Yvonne Elliman) about her relationship with Jesus, were both big hits.” WK

The success of the studio album opened the door for a stage production. It debuted on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on October 12, 1971. It was met with mixed reviews – even Webber himself criticized it – and closed after 18 months. WK It opened in London in 1972 and ran for eight years, “becoming England's longest-running musical at the time.” WK

In 1973, it was made into a film “directed by Norman Jewison, was shot in Israel and other Middle Eastern locations. Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson were both nominated for 1974 Golden Globe Awards for their portrayals of Jesus and Judas…Though it attracted criticism from some religious groups, the film was generally well received.” WK


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Derek and the Dominos charted with Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs: November 21, 1970

Originally posted November 21, 2012.

image from wcbsfm.cbslocal.com


Chart date: 21 November 1970
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) I Looked Away / Bell Bottom Blues (2/27/71, #78 US) / Keep on Growing / Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out / I Am Yours / Anyday / Key to the Highway/ Tell the Truth / Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad? / Have You Ever Loved a Woman? / Little Wing / It’s Too Late / Layla (3/27/71, #10 US, #4 UK) / Thorn Tree in the Garden

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 0.5 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 16 US, 68 UK

Rating:


Review: By 1970, Eric Clapton had already become a superstar thanks “some of the most stunning, groundbreaking blues-based guitar work of the rock era” PK in stints with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Cream, and Blind Faith. Between that and a solo album, “Clapton’s deification had become such a burden to him…that he felt forced to seek anonymity.” PR Fresh off a tour with Delaney & Bonnie, “a roughshod hippie honky-tonk band,” VH1 he headed back into the studio with their keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, drummer Jim Gordon, and bassist Carl Radle. When Duane Allman signed on as well, the resulting Derek and the Dominos essentially amounted to a supergroup.

Allman’s “spectacular slide guitar pushed Clapton to new heights” AMG and the pair’s “wondrous guitar interplay…backed by a tight (but not showy) backing band” IGN gave Clapton “his greatest album” AMG and made for “one of the all-time classic dual-guitar albums.” VH1 Working with Delaney & Bonnie helped Clapton “reconcile his spiritual connection with the American South that had given birth to Clapton’s beloved blues.” VH1 The Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs album was their only studio recording, but it proved to be “one of the few blues-based classic rock albums which avoids dull predictability or Led Zep-ish testosterone riffs.” PK

Layla

Clapton was going through hell during recording, having fallen in love with Patti Boyd, the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. As a result, “pain drips from the grooves of this seminal record that has something for everyone – hard-driving rockers, stormy blues, wailing solos.” ZS Of course, the standout is the title track with its “stunning opening riff,” ZS but the album also “yielded such memorable classics as…Bell Bottom Blues and the band’s cover of the Jami Hendrix staple Little Wing.” IGN

Bell Bottom Blues

However, a big part of what makes this “such a powerful record is that Clapton, ignoring the traditions that occasionally painted him into a corner, simply tears through these songs with burning, intense emotion. He makes standards like Have You Ever Loved a Woman and Nobody Knows You (When You're Down and Out) into his own, while his collaborations with Bobby Whitlock – including Any Day and Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad? – teem with passion.” AMG


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Friday, September 25, 1970

The Partridge Family debuted on TV: September 25, 1970

Originally posted September 25, 2011.



This American TV sitcom lasted four seasons, running 96 episodes on ABC. The show focused on a widowed mother and her five children embarking on a music career. The show was loosely based on The Cowsills, a music family who’d earned fame in the late ‘60s. The Partridge family focused on a recently widowed mother played by Shirley Jones. Her five children enlist her help to record a pop song. Her ten-year-old son Danny even hires a manager and the family musical group even hit the road for a tour.

Jones’ real-life stepson David Cassidy played Keith, the oldest of the kids. The other Partridges were played by Susan Dey (Laurie), Danny Bonaduce (Danny), Jeremy Gelbwaks (Chris), and Suzanne Crough (Tracy). When Jeremy’s family moved out of the Los Angeles area after the first season, Chris was recast with actor Brian Forster.

The Partridge Family produced eight albums, six of which went gold and three of which went top 10. David Cassidy and Shirley Jones were the only cast members actually featured on the recordings, singing lead and backup respectively. Studio musicians rounded out the group. The group charted nine Hot 100 hits, including the top 10 hits “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” and “I’ll Meet You Halfway”. The group’s debut single, “I Think I Love You”, charted on October 10, 1970 and went to #1. The song was written by Tony Romeo, who had written some of the Cowsills’ hits.




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