Thursday, December 31, 1970

This month: Bob Marley & the Wailers released Soul Rebels

Soul Rebels

Bob Marley


Released: December 1970


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: reggae


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Soul Rebel (12/70, --)
  2. Try Me
  3. It’s Alright
  4. No Sympathy
  5. My Cup (1970, --)
  6. Soul Almighty
  7. Rebel’s Hop
  8. Corner Stone
  9. 400 Years
  10. No Water
  11. Reaction
  12. My Sympathy


Total Running Time: 33:09

Rating:

3.237 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)

About the Album:

“Originally issued in 1970, Soul Rebels was the first album credited to Bob Marley & the Wailers, and it was also the band's first full-length collaboration with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, for whom they had already recorded a string of fairly successful singles.” AZ

“Working with the newly configured Upsetters band, Marley and crew delivered a strange and wonderful set of early reggae that at times plays fast and loose with the already established conventions of the genre — on My Cup the beat sounds inside out, while It's Alright sounds like a slightly Jamaicanized version of Motown soul. Other songs, such as the beautifully harmonized Try Me, show their deep roots in rocksteady.” AZ

“One of the most arresting tracks on the album is the Bunny Wailer composition Four Hundred Years, on which Wailer unburdens himself of some of his typically dread pronouncements in his rich, chesty voice.” AZ


Notes: Tracks 1-11 are all featured on Rasta Revolution as well. That collection also includes “Mr. Brown” and “Duppy Conqueror,” the latter of which is also on Burnin’. The Sanctuary/Trojan 2002 reissue adds 10 bonus tracks: “Dreamland” (2 versions), “Dracula,” “Zig Zag,” “Jah Is Mighty,” “Brand New Second Hand” (2 versions), “Downpresser” and alternate versions of “Soul Rebel” and “My Cup.”

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 3/26/2008; updated 5/6/2021.

Saturday, December 26, 1970

George Harrison hit #1 with “My Sweet Lord”

My Sweet Lord

George Harrison

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


First Charted: November 28, 1970


Peak: 14 US, 14 CB, 13 HR, 10 AC, 1 CL, 16 UK, 14 CN, 18 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.94 UK, 10.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 124.1 video, 280.84 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

While George Harrison’s songwriting talents were overshadowed during his stint with the Beatles by bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney, TB 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. BR 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 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

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. BR

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


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for George Harrison
  • DMDB page for parent album All Things Must Pass
  • BBC BBC Radio 2 (2004). “Sold on Song Top 100
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 286.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 59.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 122.

Last updated 4/28/2021.

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

Buy at Amazon

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


Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):


Friday, November 27, 1970

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

First posted 11/27/2011; updated 12/29/2019.

All Things Must Pass

George Harrison


Buy Here:


Released: November 27, 1970


Charted: December 19, 1970


Peak: 17 US, 18 UK, 19 CN, 18 AU


Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 0.1 UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rock


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. I’d Have You Anytime (Harrison, Bob Dylan) [2:56]
  2. My Sweet Lord [4:38] (11/28/70, 14 US, 14 CB, 13 HR, 10 AC, 16 UK, 14 CN, 18 AU
  3. Wah-Wah [5:35]
  4. Isn’t It a Pity (Version One) [7:10] (11/28/70, 46 CB, 15 CN)
  5. What Is Life [4:22] (2/20/71, 10 US, 7 CB, 10 HR, 31 AC, 3 CN)
  6. If Not for You (Dylan) [3:29]
  7. Behind That Locked Door [3:05]
  8. Let It Down [4:57]
  9. Run of the Mill [2:49]
  10. Beware of Darkness [3:48]
  11. Apple Scruffs [3:04]
  12. Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) [3:48]
  13. Awaiting on You All [2:45]
  14. All Things Must Pass [3:44]
  15. I Dig Love [4:55]
  16. Art of Dying [3:37]
  17. Isn’t It a Pity (Version Two) [4:45]
  18. Hear Me Lord [5:46]
  19. Out of the Blue (Harrison, Al Aronowitz, Clapton, Gordon, Bobby Keys, Jim Price, Radle, Whitlock, Gary Wright) [11:14]
  20. It’s Johnny’s Birthday (Harrison, Bill Martin, Phil Coulter, Mal Evans, Eddie Klein) [0:49]
  21. Plug Me In (Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon, Dave Mason, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock) [3:18]
  22. I Remember Jeep (Harrison, Ginger Baker, Billy Preston, Klauss Voormann) [8:07]
  23. Thanks for the Pepperoni [5:31]

All songs written by George Harrison unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 105:59


The Players:

  • George Harrison (vocals, guitar, other instruments)
  • Eric Clapton, Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland, Peter Frampton, Dave Mason (guitar)
  • Gary Wright, Billy Preston, Bobby Whitlock, Tony Ashton, Gary Brooker (piano, organ)
  • Jim Gordon, Ringo Starr, Alan White, Mike Gibbins, Mal Evans, Ginger Baker (drums, percussion)
  • Carl Radle, Klaus Voorman (bass)
  • Jim Price, Bobby Keys (horns/sax)
  • Pete Drake (pedal steel guitar)
  • John Barham (orchestral arrangements, choral arrangement, harmonium, vibraphone)
  • Eddie Klein (backing vocals)

Rating:

4.521 out of 5.0 (average of 16 ratings)


Quotable: “Without a doubt, Harrison’s…best.” – Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

With his first solo outing, George Harrison “changed the terms of what an album could be.” PF As the first triple album issued by a solo artist, WK All Things Must Pass “reinforced that the album could be an epic novel for a different sort of age.” PF The album shredded Harrison’s reputation as “the quiet Beatle,” proving that he had plenty to say. As he said on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971, “I had such a lot of songs mounting up that I really wanted to do, but I only got my quota of one or two tunes per album.” PF Pitchfork called it “the heaviest and most consequential Beatles solo album.” PF

Enhanced by Phil Spector’s lush orchestral production, and Harrison’s own superb slide guitar, nearly every song is excellent.” RU This is “a very moving work” RU that is, “without a doubt, Harrison’s…best.” RU Amazon’s Jerry McCulley described it as “Harrison’s unequaled masterpiece.” AZ Peter Doggett, managing editor of Record Collector said that at the start of 1971, Harrison was “arguably the most successful rock star on the planet.” WK His music of the time reflected the spiritual mysticism of Eastern philosophy “without sacrificing his gifts for melody and grand, sweeping arrangements.” RU

Most notable in balancing the spiritual and the commercial is the chart-topping My Sweet Lord. Years later the song would gain notoriety when Harrison was sued for “unconscious plagiarism” because of the song’s similarity to the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” Harrison started writing the song in late 1969, inspired by the top-five gospel single “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins’ Singers. CR At the time he was touring with Delaney & Bonnie. Their backing groug included Eric Clapton, Carl Radle, Boby Whitlock, and Jim Gordon – players who went on to form Derek & the Dominos and play on All Things.

They were just part of the rich assembly of talent featured on the album. Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Dave Mason, Peter Frampton, future Yes drummer Alan White, members of Badfinger, and even a young Phil Collins appear on the album. Harrison’s willingness to share the spotlight reflected how he had “been elbowed out of a room too many times before [and] it seemed, he was staunchly unwilling to do the same to others.” PF Peter Frampton said Harrison “was sort of ego-less,” explaining that “everyone was there because they were great players…no one was treated as a session musician.” CR

Harrison had faced enough rejection as a Beatle, being confined to one or two songs per album. Here, he finally gets to introduce some of those songs. Isn’t It a Pity dated back to the Beatles’ 1966 Revolver album. PF During the Beatles’ 1969 Get Back sessions that eventually become 1970’s final Beatles’ album, Let It Be, Harrison introduced early versions of the Let It Down, Window, Window, and the title track, WK which “now seems like a very prescient admission that the game was almost up.” CR

Some of the songs were also a result of Harrison’s friendship with Bob Dylan. He and Dylan co-wrote I’d Have You Anytime in 1968 when Harrison visited Dylan and the Band in Woodstock, New York. Harrison also tackles 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 There’s also Behind That Locked Door, which Harrison wrote about his friend’s shyness. CR

While there were “dark, tortured undertones” CR to some of the music, there were also “creations that brimmed with real joy: the euphoric What Is Life, I Dig Love, and Awaiting on You All.” CR The latter, with lines like “You don’t need no love-in” and “You don’t need no bed pan” were “a pretty obvious dig at John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and the two infamous weeks they spent in bed, so as to somehow further the cause of peace.” CR

Harrison enlisted famed producer Phil Spector, who worked on the Beatles’ Let It Be, to give the album “a heavy and reverb-oriented sound.” WK Harrison later regretted the decision, saying in the press kit for the album’s 30th anniversary reissue that it resulted in “too much echo” WK and apologizing for the “big production.” AZ As an example of Spector’s production, the “biting Wah-Wah,” PF which Harrison wrote during his temporary departure from the Beatles WK about his “vexed relationship with [Paul] McCartney,” CR is “layered with so many different guitar tracks it feels like three guitar rock songs fighting each other.” PF

Originally the album was packed as two LPs for the vinyl release and then a third album, called Apple Jam, collected informal instrumental 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 They were “the deluxe cuts and alternate takes of their day.” PF


Notes:

The original vinyl release was a triple album. The CD reissue is comprised of two discs. A 30th anniversary reissue added bonus tracks.

Review Sources:

Saturday, November 21, 1970

Elton John charted with “Your Song”

Your Song

Elton John

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


Released: October 26, 1970


First Charted: November 21, 1970


Peak: 8 US, 8 CB, 6 HR, 9 AC, 1 CL, 7 UK, 3 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.6 UK, 2.72 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 7.0 radio, 138.9 video, 422.89 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

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 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 Still, it took four years before the song became a hit. BBC In the meantime, Elton released three albums and five singles. TB “Your Song,” released in conjunction with John’s second U.S. visit, TB finally gave them their breakthrough and “put Elton John on the map.” TC

The song is built around “Elton’s uncomplicated music” BBC and “Taupin’s unpretentious lyrics,” BBC which, in this case, were “unusually direct.” TC 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.” TC


Resources and Related Links:

Last updated 4/24/2021.