Saturday, December 30, 1972

Will the Circle Be Unbroken charted

First posted 11/21/2008; updated 9/27/2019.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Charted: Dec. 30, 1972

Peak: #68 US

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: country

Quotable: “An all-star country project that worked and transcended its country and rock origins.” – Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

RA = Roy Acuff, MC = Maybelle Carter, VC = Vassar Clements, JM = Jimmy Martin, BBO = Bashful Brother Oswald, ES = Earl Scruggs, MT = Merle Travis, DW = Doc Watson

Disc 1:

  1. Grand Ole Opry Song [w/ JM] (Hylo Brown) [2:59] (8/4/73, #97 CW)
  2. Keep on the Sunny Side [w/ MC, DW, and ES] ( Ada Blenkhorn/J. Howard Entwisle/A.P. Carter/Gary Garett) [3:35]
  3. Nashville Blues [w/ ES] (Earl Scruggs) [3:10]
  4. You Are My Flower [w/ ES] (A.P. Carter) [3:35]
  5. The Precious Jewel [w/ RA] (Roy Acuff) [3:30]
  6. Dark As a Dungeon [w/ MT] (Merle Travis) [2:45]
  7. Tennessee Stud [w/ DW] (Jimmie Driftwood) [4:22]
  8. Black Mountain Rag [w/ DW] (traditional) [2:10]
  9. Wreck on the Highway [w/ RA] (Dorsey Dixon) [3:24]
  10. The End of the World [w/ ES] (Fred Rose) [3:53]
  11. I Saw the Light [w/ RA, ES, DW, VC, & JM] () [Hank Williams] (11/27/71, #56 CW)
  12. Sunny Side of the Mountain [w/ JM & VC] (Bryon Gregory/Harry McAuliffe) [2:14]
  13. Nine Pound Hammer [w/ MT] (Merle Travis) [2:14]
  14. Losin’ You Might Be the Best Thing Yet [w/ JM] (Edria A. Humphrey/Jimmy Martin) [2:44]
  15. Honky Tonkin’ (Hank Williams) [2:19]
  16. You Don’t Know My Mind [w/ JM] (Jimmie Skinner) [2:45]
  17. My Walkin’ Shoes [w/ JM] (Jimmy Martin/Paul Williams) [2:02]

Disc 2:

  1. Lonesome Fiddle Blues [w/ VC] (Vassar Clements) [2:41]
  2. Cannonball Rag [w/ MT] (Kennedy Jones/Merle Travis) [1:15]
  3. Avalanche (Millie Clements) [2:50]
  4. Flint Hill Special [w/ ES] (Earl Scruggs) [2:12]
  5. Togary Mountain (Walter McEuen) [2:25]
  6. Earl’s Breakdown [w/ ES] (Earl Scruggs) [2:34]
  7. Orange Blossom Special [w/ VC] (Ervin T. Rouse) [2:14]
  8. Wabash Cannonball [w/ ES] (A.P. Carter) [2:00]
  9. Lost Highway (Leon Payne) [3:37]
  10. Doc Watson & Merle Travis First Meeting (Dialogue) [1:52]
  11. Way Downtown [w/ DW] (traditional/Doc Watson) [3:30]
  12. Down Yonder [w/ DW and VC] (L. Wolfe Gilbert/arranged by Doc Watson) [1:48]
  13. Pins and Needles in My Heart [w/ RA] (Floyd Jenkins) []
  14. Honky Tonk Blues (Hank Williams) [2:22]
  15. Sailin’ on to Hawaii [w/ BBO & ES] (Beecher Kirby) [2:00]
  16. I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes [w/ MC, ES, MT, and VC] (A.P. Carter) [4:25]
  17. I Am a Pilgrim [w/ MT] (traditional) [2:55]
  18. Wildwood Flower [w/ MC and ES] (3:34) []
  19. Soldier’s Joy [w/ ES] (John McEuen/Earl Scruggs) [2:05]
  20. Will the Circle Be Unbroken [w/ MC, ES, MT, JM, VC, RA] (A.P. Carter) [4:50]
  21. Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell) [2:19]


“With all due respect to the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, it took the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with this album to come up with a merger of rock and country music that worked for both sides and everyone involved.” AMG “Previously known for their country-rock and jug band music,” NRR the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “was a young…band with a hippie look;” WK Roy Acuff described them as “a bunch of long-haired West Coast boys.” AZ

They wanted “to tie together two generations of musicians.” WK “The idea seemed nearly as foreign as Martians setting down in Tennessee, but the Dirt Band were Colorado hippies steeped in the genre, so there was no disputing the authenticity of the music, or its earthy appeal.” AZ “With the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band serving as catalyst and intersecting point for all of the talent involved,” AMG the album “was an all-star country project that worked (and transcended its country and rock origins).” AMG

The project, named after an Ada R. Habershon song famously re-arranged by A.P. Carter, “brought together a stellar group of musical giants of country music” NRR who were “much older and more famous from the forties, fifties and sixties, primarily as old-time country and bluegrass players.” WK Among them were Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, Vassar Clements, Jimmy Martin, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis, and Doc Watson. They “had become known to their generation through the Grand Ole Opry. However, with the rise of rock-and-roll, the emergence of the commercial country’s slick ‘Nashville Sound,’ and changing tastes in music, their popularity had waned somewhat from their glory years.” WK The result was “an unprecedented collaboration” NRR that “introduced acoustic country music to a new generation of audiences and revived the careers of several of the guest performers.” NRR

“The recordings, made in Nashville, showcased traditional songs and country music classics.” NRR “Aside from the sheer joy of the performances (listen to Jimmy Martin’s ‘whoop’ on Sunny Side of the Mountain), there's great fun in hearing Roy Acuff give the boys a lesson in doing a song right the first time (and using the word hell before launching into a religious number). And Mother Maybelle wafts through like a benevolent ghost, or at least a patron saint.” AZ

“This was the first real country album that a lot of rock listeners under the age of 30 ever heard. Thus, it opened up pathways and dialogue in all directions, across several generations and cultural barriers; the dialogue between Doc Watson and Merle Travis alone was almost worth the price of admission.” AMG

“Every track on the album was recorded on the first or second take straight to two-track masters, so the takes are raw and unprocessed. Additionally, another tape ran continuously throughout the entire week-long recording session, and captured the dialog between the players. On the final album many of the tracks begin with the musicians discussing how to do the song or who should come in where, and provides a rare insight into the workmanship and approach that these highly-regarded musicians used to make their music, and how they decided to work together.” WK

“This was also one of rock’s very few multi-disc sets to be fully justified in its length and content; at a time when unnecessary double-LPs were all the rage, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and company gave a triple album that, if anything, left audiences asking for more.” AMG The band answered the call with Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 2 and Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 3. They “are not as widely acclaimed as the first,” WK although the Country Music Association did award Vol. 2 as Album of the Year in 1989.

“The Grand Ole Opry Song”
This “set the tone for the album, showing that this band – for all of their origins in rock and popular music – was willing to meet country music on its terms, rather than as a vehicle for embellishment as rock music.” AMG

“Keep on the Sunny Side”
Written in 1899 by Ada Blenkhorn and J. Howard Entwisle, it was popularized by the Carter Family through a 1928 recording.

“You Are My Flower”
The Carter Family recorded it in 1939. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs took it to #12 on the country charts in 1964.

“Dark As a Dungeon”
Written by Merle Travis in 1946, this song about being a coal miner in a shaft mine gained popularity when Johnny Cash featured it on his live At Folsom Prison album. NPR selected the original version as one of the most important 300 American works of the 21st century.

“Tennessee Stud”
In 1959, Jimmie Driftwood wrote and recorded this song about a man and his horse and their travels. Eddy Arnold had a top five country hit with it that same year. Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Chris LeDoux, and Jerry Reed also recorded the song.

“Black Mountain Rag”
This 1964 song by Doc Watson was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2006.

“Wreck on the Highway”
Dorsey Dixon wrote this now-classic bluegrass song about a fatal car crash in 1937. Five years later, Roy Acuff & His Smoky Mountain Boys recorded what became the best-known version. The husband-and-wife duo of Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper had a top-ten country hit with it in 1961. It was also recorded by Hank Locklin, the Louvin Bothers, and as a duet between George Jones and Gene Pitney.

“The End of the Road”
Jimmie Davis, Sons of the Pioneers, Red Foley, and Les Paul with Mary Ford recorded the song in 1941, 1957, 1961, and 1962 respectively.

“I Saw the Light”
Hank Williams wrote this country gospel song in April 1947, but didn’t release it until September 1948. In the interim, Clyde Grubb and Roy Acuff released versions of it. Chet Atkins with Jerry Reed, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash with Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, Floyd Cramer, Crystal Gayle, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson with Leon Russell, Aaron Neville, Earl Scruggs, and Ernest Tubb also covered the song. The version on Will the Circle Be Unbroken was an all-star jam featuring Acuff, Scruggs, Watson, Clements, and Martin. It was the first single from the album.

“Sunny Side of the Mountain”
Hank “The Singing Ranger” first recorded the song in 1944. Later versions were recorded by Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Lester Flatt, Jimmy Martin, Johnny Paycheck, the Stanley Brothers.

“Nine-Pound Hammer”
The song share verses with “Take This Hammer,” a prison/railroad work song which dates back to a 1915 manuscript by Newman Ivey White. In the 1920s. Most versions of the song also contain references to legendary spike driver John Henry. The first version of “Nine-Pound Hammer” dates to 1925 when folklorist Dorothy Scarborough transcribed it in her book On the Trail of Negro Folk Songs. Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters made the first commercial recording of the song. Mississippi John Hurt recorded his version of “John Henry” in 1928 and the Lomaxes famous field recordings include several variations of the song. Lead Belly recorded it as “Take This Hammer” in 1940 and Merle Travis recorded it in 1946 as “Nine Pound Hammer Is Too Heavy,” adapting it to be about coal mining.

“Honky Tonkin’”
Hank Williams wrote and recorded the song in 1947 and had a #14 country hit with it. In 1982, his son, Hank Williams Jr., took it to #1. Waylon Jennings, Sissy Spaceck, The The, and Townes Van Zandt have also recorded the song.

“Orange Blossom Special”
Ervin T. Rouse wrote this song about the passenger train of the same name in 1938 and recorded it with Gordon Rouse a year later. The song, which has been called “the fiddle player’s national anthem,” was popularized by Bill Monroe in 1942 and was a #3 hit for Johnny Cash in 1965. It was also recorded by Chet Atkins, Charlie Daniels, Doug Kershaw, Charlie McCoy, and Billy Vaughn.

“Wabash Cannonball”
This train song originated in 1888, but was claimed by A.P. Carter when it entered the public domain in 1928. His group, the Carter Family, recorded it in 1932. Roy Acuff released it in 1938 and it hit #12 on the pop charts. Acuff’s version is in the Grammy Hall of Fame and National Recording Registry.

“Lost Highway”
Leon Payne wrote and recorded the song in 1948, but it was Hank Williams version which became popular, hitting #12 on the country charts. Don Gibson also had a minor hit with the song in 1967.

“Down Yonder”
Written in 1921, this became a top-ten song for the Peerless Quartet and Ernest Hare with Billy Jones. In 1934, Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers brought it back to the top 10 as an instrumental bluegrass song. In 1951, the song was revived again with a top-five version by Del Wood followed by top-20 versions by Joe “Fingers” Carr, Freddy Martin, Ethele Smith, Champ Butler, and Lawrence “Piano” Cook. In the UK, Johnny & the Hurricanes took their version to the top 10. Willie Nelson revisted the song just a few years later on his classic Red Headed Stranger album.

“Pins and Needles in My Heart”
Bob Atcher first charted with this song in 1943, taking it to #19 on the pop charts.

“Honky Tonk Blues”
Hank Williams wrote the song in 1951 and took it to #2 on the country charts the next year.

“I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes”
The Carter Family had a top-ten pop hit with their 1929 version. Gene Autry took it to #3 on the country charts in 1944.

“I Am a Pilgrim”
This traditional song first appeared as a hym in the 1860s. The Norfolk Jubilee Quarte recorded it in 1924. It was also recorded by the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet (1939), Merle Travis (1947), Bill Monroe (1958), and Doc Watson with Merle Watson (1970).

“Wildwood Flower”
The Carter Family took the song to #3 on the pop charts in 1928. Hank Thompson recorded the song with Merle Travis in 1955 and had a top-five country hit with it.

“Soldier’s Joy”
This song, dating back as early as the 1760s, is one of the top ten most-played old time fiddle tunes. Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers recorded it in 1929 and Hawshaw Hawkins hit #15 on the country charts with the song in 1959.

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken”
This hymn by Ada R. Habershon and Charles H. Gabriel focused on the death, funeral, and mourning of the narrator’s mother. A.P. Carter adapted the song and The Carter Family recorded it in 1935. Their version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Multiple versions of the song have been recorded by Roy Acuff, Gregg Allman, Joan Baez, The Band, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Monroe, and The Staple Singers.

“Both Sides Now”
Joni Mitchell wrote it in 1967. Judy Collins had a top 10 pop hit with her recording of it; her versions was also elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

“Originally appearing in 1972 as a three LP album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken was remastered and re-released in 2002 as a two compact disc set,” WK including “four bonus tracks, though only Foggy Mountain Breakdown is a proper song; two of the others [Warming Up for the Opry and Sunny Side] consist of warmups and studio chat, while Remember Me (featuring Doc Watson) is just a fragment.” AMG

Review Source(s):


Friday, November 24, 1972

David Bowie “Ziggy Stardust” released as a B-side

Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie

Writer(s): David Bowie (see lyrics here)

Released: November 24, 1972

Peak: 2 CL, 4 CO, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 53.1 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

David Bowie’s fifth album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, was the one that made him a superstar. He conceived Ziggy Stardust as a bisexual rock star sent to Earth to stave off an impending apocalyptic disaster. Bowie drew inspiration for the character from Vince Taylor. Bowie met the English singer after he’d had a breakdown and thought he was a cross between a god and an alien. WK

The name of the character was inspired by Norman Carl Odam, a performer known as the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Bowie also drew inspiration for the character from American singer Iggy Pop and fashion designer Yamamoto Kansai. WK Bowie based the character’s clothing on the Malcom McDowell character in the film version of A Clockwork Orange as well as William Burroughs book Wild Boys. SF The persona became a huge influence on the development of glam rock with its flamboyant costumes and singers who presented themselves as sexually ambiguous. SF

The song “Ziggy Stardust” was written in early 1971 before Bowie even began recording sessions for the Hunky Dory album which preceded Ziggy. It served as the centerpiece of the album. While the character had been introduced earlier in the album, this song focused on his rise and fall. Ziggy wins over fans, but falls from grace as a result of becoming too conceited and egotistical. Bowie said it was “about the ultimate rock superstar destroy by the fanaticism he creates.” SF

The song wasn’t released as a single, but did appear as the B-side of “The Jean Genie,” the lead single from the follow-up album, Aladdin Sane, which also drew from the Ziggy Stardust persona. A 1972 live version of the song was released as a single in France in 1994 to promote the bootleg album, Santa Monica ‘72.

The goth-rock group Bauhaus recorded the song in 1982 and took it to #15 on the UK charts.


Related Links:

First posted 7/23/2022.

Saturday, October 28, 1972

50 years ago: “Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean” hit #1

Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean

Ed Gallagher & Al Shean

Writer(s): Ed Gallagher, Al Shean (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 28, 1922

Peak: 16 US, 12 GA, 12 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Ziegfeld Follies of 1922 focused on Will Rogers and Gilda Gray. While overall “the musical score was not particularly strong” TY2 it produced the memorable “Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean,” “comedy patter performed by a pair of dialect comedians who had been recruited from vaudeville.” TY2 Each verse of the song was presented as a mini-skit with with the titular men in the song meeting on the street, introducing themselves, telling a story, and ending with a joke. SM The jokes are “typical of the time but also lampoons current fads and events.” WK

That pair were Edward Francis Gallagher (born in 1873 in San Francisco) and Al Shean (born Abraham Elieser Adolph Schönberg in 1873 Dornum, Germany). They teamed up in 1912, split in 1914, and reunited in 1920. They became stars in vaudeville and the musical stage. They broke up again for good in 1925.

They were best known for their song “Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean,” with uncredited lyrics by Brian Foy. WK The song is officially called “Oh! Mister Gallagher and Mister Shean.” On record, it was a doubled-sided disc running over six minutes total. One side was titled “Positively Mr. Gallagher” and the other side called “Absolutely Mr. Shean.” It ran ten verses. SM

Their version reached #1 in 1922, as did another version by Billy Jones & Ernest Hare, although the latter only used two verses of the song. SM It was also recorded by Furman & Nash (#10, 1922), Irving & Jack Kaufman (#12, 1922), and Bing Crosby & Johnny Mercer (#7, 1938). PM Paul Whiteman and Benny Krueger’s orchestras also recorded the song. Al Shean performed the song with Charles Winninger in the movie musical The Great Ziegfeld (1941). Shean did the song again in 1944 with Jack Kenny in Atlantic City. Groucho Marx (Shean’s nephew) and Jackie Gleason performed a version for television in the late 1950s. WK


First posted 1/29/2023.

Friday, October 27, 1972

Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book released

Talking Book

Stevie Wonder

Released: October 27, 1972

Peak: 3 US, 13 RB, 16 UK, 12 CN, 34 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.1 UK, 5.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: R&B


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

  1. You Are the Sunshine of My Life [2:58] (3/17/73, 1 US, 1 CB, 1 HR, 1 AC, 3 RB, 8 CL, 7 UK, 5 CN)
  2. Maybe Your Baby [6:51]
  3. You and I (We Can Conquer the World) [4:39]
  4. Tuesday Heartbreak [3:02]
  5. You’ve Got It Bad Girl (Wonder, Yvonne Wright) [4:56]
  6. Superstition [4:26] (11/11/72, 1 US, 1 CB, 1 HR, 38 AC, 1 RB, 4 CL, 11 UK, 6 CN)
  7. Big Brother [3:34]
  8. Blame It on the Sun (Wonder, Syreeta Wright) [3:26]
  9. Lookin’ for Another Love(Wonder, Syreeta Wright) [4:44]
  10. I Believe When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever [4:34]

All songs by Wonder unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 43:31


4.654 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)

Quotable: “In a career full of classics, Talking Book is Stevie’s most perfect album.” – Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time magazine

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Right from the way the title was written in braille on the cover of the album to the shape, placing and suggestions of individual tracks, Talking Book was Stevie Wonder’s most personal album. Talking Book established Wonder as the self-contained singer/songwriter. “When he reached the age of majority, former child prodigy Stevie Wonder renegotiated a contract with Motown Records that granted him creative independence…His first release under these terms, Music of My Mind, demonstrated that Wonder could work as a truly self-contained unit – writing and producing all the songs, and playing virtually all the instruments, entirely alone.” TL

He supported that album with a supporting slot for the Rolling Stones on the U.S. tour in 1972, which gave him a wider audience than ever before and fueled his two singles from Talking Book to the top of the charts. Wonder essentially “secured his position as the reigning genius of his era” TL and “expanded his compositional palate with 1972’s Talking Book to include societal ills as well as tender love songs, and so recorded the first smash album of his career. What had been hinted at on the intriguing project Music of My Mind was here focused into a laser beam of tight songwriting, warm electronic arrangements, and ebullient performances – altogether the most realistic vision of musical personality ever put to wax.” JB

The album kicks off with “a disarmingly simple love song,” JB the “candy-coated pop” TL of “You Are the Sunshine of My Life (but of course, it’s only the composition that’s simple).” JB It would become “one of the most covered (and ‘lounged’) songs ever,” SL-84 which could make it feel “nauseating or naively charming, or even nausteatingly charming.” SL-85

The song also showcased “a rare generosity in someone of Stevie’s star status” SL-84 in that the song’s first few vocal lines are given to singer Jim Gilstrap and backup singer Gloria Barley. The song was actually recorded during Music of My Mind, but held back because it was “deemed unsuitiable for the mood of that album.” SL-84 There was also speculation that the song was held off for awhile since Wonder had entered into a relationship with Barley although still married to Syreeta Wright. SL-85

The “theme of lost love” SL-85 echoes throughout the album, which isn’t surprising consider Wonder and Wright’s marriage dissolved after Wonder returned from the Stones’ tour. “The glorious closer I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be ForeverJB is actually “an optimistic song” SL-86 and a pure revelatory experience. The song also proved its stamina when Mike + the Mechanics covered it for their 1995 album Beggar on a Beach of Gold and it showed up on the High Fidelity soundtrack in 2000.

That and You and I are marked by “soaring exuberance.” TL They “subtly illustrate that the conception of love can be stronger than the reality, while Tuesday Heartbreak speaks simply but powerfully: ‘I wanna be with you when the nighttime comes / I wanna be with you till the daytime comes.’” JB

“Stevie’s not always singing a tender ballad here – in fact, he flits from contentment to mistrust to promise to heartbreak within the course of the first four songs — but he never fails to render each song in the most vivid colors. In stark contrast to his early songs, which were clever but often relied on the Motown template of romantic metaphor, with Talking Book it became clear Stevie Wonder was beginning to speak his mind and use personal history for material (just as Marvin Gaye had with the social protest of 1971’s What’s Going On). The lyrics became less convoluted, while the emotional power gained in intensity.” JB

“The biggest hit from Talking Book wasn’t a love song at all; the funk landmark Superstition urges empowerment instead of hopelessness, set to a grooving beat that made it one of the biggest hits of his career.” JB In fact, it was his first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1963’s “Fingertips (Part 2).” It sported “a completely compulsive groove, a killer clav riff, and a hooky chorus line, all assembled in…an irresistible combustion.” SL-84

It’s followed by Big Brother. With its “overtly political stance” SL-85 it is “the first of his directly critical songs, excoriating politicians who posture to the underclass in order to gain the only thing they really need: votes.” JB

“With Talking Book, Stevie also found a proper balance between making an album entirely by himself and benefiting from the talents of others.” JB “Sax star David Sanborn makes an appearance, as does guitar superstar Jeff Beck, alongside Buzzy Feiten (former guitarist with Paul Butterfield’s band.” SL-85 The latter two “appeared on Lookin’ for Another Pure Love, Beck’s solo especially giving voice to the excruciating process of moving on from a broken relationship.” JB

Elsewhere, Wonder’s “wife Syreeta and her sister Yvonne Wright contributed three great lyrics, and Ray Parker, Jr. came by to record a guitar solo that brings together the lengthy jam Maybe Your Baby.” JB That song showcased heavy use of the synth on basslines. Author Steve Lodder speculates that “Prince was well aware of tracks like ‘Maybe Your Baby’ in his formative years.” SL-86

“Like no other Stevie Wonder LP before it, Talking Book is all of a piece, the first unified statement of his career. It’s certainly an exercise in indulgence but, imitating life, it veers breathtakingly from love to heartbreak and back with barely a pause.” JB “In a career full of classics, Talking Book is Stevie’s most perfect album.” TL

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Stevie Wonder
  • JB John Bush, All Music Guide
  • SL Steve Lodder (2005). Stevie Wonder: A Musical Guide to the Classic Albums. Backbeat Books: San Francisco, CA.
  • TL Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time Magazine’s “All-TIME 100 Albums” (11/13/06)

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 6/20/2008; last updated 8/3/2021.

Saturday, October 21, 1972

Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly hit #1

First posted 4/9/2008; updated 12/2/2020.


Curtis Mayfield

Released: July 11, 1972

Charted: August 26, 1972

Peak: 14 US, 16 RB, 26 UK

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US

Genre: R&B


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

  1. Little Child Runnin’ Wild
  2. Pusherman
  3. Freddie’s Dead (8/12/72, 4 US, 2 RB, sales: ½ million)
  4. Junkie Chase [instrumental]
  5. Give Me Your Love (Love Song)
  6. Eddie You Should Know Better
  7. No Thing on Me (Cocaine Song)
  8. Think [instrumental]
  9. Superfly (11/25/72, 8 US, 5 RB, sales: ½ million)

Total Running Time: 37:05


4.690 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

Quotable: --

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The choice of Curtis Mayfield to score the blaxploitation film Superfly was an inspired one. No other artist in popular music knew so well, and expressed through his music so naturally, the shades of gray inherent in contemporary inner-city life. His debut solo album, 1970’s Curtis, had shown in vivid colors that the ‘60s optimist (author of the civil-rights anthems ‘Keep on Pushing’ and ‘People Get Ready’) had added a layer of subtlety to his material; appearing on the same LP as the positive and issue-oriented ‘Move on Up’ was an apocalyptic piece of brimstone funk titled ‘(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go.’” AMG

“For Superfly, Mayfield wisely avoids celebrating the wheeling-and-dealing themes present in the movie, or exploiting them, instead using each song to focus on a different aspect of what he saw as a plague on America’s streets. He also steers away from explicit moralizing; through his songs, Mayfield simply tells it like it is (for the characters in the film as in real life), with any lessons learned the result of his vibrant storytelling and knack of getting inside the heads of the characters. Freddie’s Dead, one of the album’s signature pieces, tells the story of one of the film’s main casualties, a good-hearted yet weak-willed man caught up in the life of a pusher, and devastatingly portrays the indifference of those who witness or hear about it.” AMG

Pusherman masterfully uses the metaphor of drug dealer as businessman, with the drug game, by extension, just another way to make a living in a tough situation, while the title track equates hustling with gambling (‘The game he plays he plays for keeps/ hustlin’ times and ghetto streets/ tryin’ ta get over’).” AMG

“Ironically, the sound of Superfly positively overwhelmed its lyrical finesse. A melange of deep, dark grooves, trademarked wah-wah guitar, and stinging brass, Superfly ignited an entire genre of music, the blaxploitation soundtrack, and influenced everyone from soul singers to television-music composers for decades to come. It stands alongside Saturday Night Fever and Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols as one of the most vivid touchstones of ‘70s pop music.” AMG

Notes: “The 2001 British reissue includes a 13-track bonus disc filled with several alternate versions and other bonus material.” AMG

Resources and Related Links: