Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles
Riffling through my big sister’s records the other day, I noticed a couple of boxes in the back of her closet. Opening one of the boxes, I discovered some big stacks of 45 singles … yeah! So today let’s drop the spindle on the turntable and slap on a few of her glorious singles. Let’s concentrate today on people known in the 1970s as “singer/songwriters” – performers who turned out to be the best representatives of their own material.
When Bob Welch came into the spotlight, he had some big shoes to fill – in 1971 the American singer/guitarist was invited to join British blues-rockers Fleetwood Mac, replacing guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. With the Mac, Welch cut five albums including 1972’s Bare Trees, which contained his composition “Sentimental Lady.” He quit Fleetwood Mac in 1974, formed the short-lived band Paris and finally went solo in 1977. “Ebony Eyes” was a rockin’ single Welch released that year – it was actually the followup to his Top 10 smash “Sentimental Lady” (re-recorded with some then-current members of Fleetwood Mac: Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham). “Ebony Eyes” was a guitar rocker that reached No. 14 on the U.S. singles charts.
Albert Hammond was a British musician who first made his mark as a songwriter. He co-wrote a number of U.K. hits in the late 1960s-early 1970s including a few that spanned the globe – “Gimme Dat Ding” by the Pipkins (1970) and “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies (1974). It was after he moved to the United States that Hammond became a singer, and he had a big hit in 1972 with “It Never Rains In Southern California.” Hammond followed that up the next year with “The Free Electric Band,” the title song for his second solo LP. The story of a trust fund kid who decided to chuck it all and become a long-haired rock and roller, the song was Hammond’s only chart hit in his native England.
Italian-American singer Dion DiMucci was perhaps best known as greasy Dion, frontman of Dion and the Belmonts from the late 1950s. With the Belmonts, he scored a number of hits in the pre-Beatles years including “A Teenager In Love.” Dion became a solo artist in the early 1960s and had more hits, including the No. 1 “Runaround Sue” in 1961. But by the late 1960s DiMucci was down on his luck and a drug addict. He got clean and got religious however, and when he scored a new record deal his label asked him to record a song written by the same dude who penned “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” (that would be Dick Holler). The song was the aching, socially conscious “Abraham, Martin and John,” which was a major hit that resuscitated Dion’s career (and the only one he had no part in writing). He moved to Warner Bros. in the early 1970s and became part of that label’s stable of singer/songwriters – “Sanctuary” was a 1971 single that failed to even climb into the Top 100.
Gene Cotton was a singer/songwriter from Ohio that worked out of Nashville in the 1970s. He had a number of chart hits including “You’ve Got Me Runnin’ ” (1976) and “You’re A Part Of Me,” a duet with Kim Carnes (1978). “Like A Sunday In Salem” was subtitled “The Amos and Andy Song,” which signified some meaningful lyrics coming – it was about the fearful times in the 1950s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy went on his Commie hunt and ruined a number of lives in the process. Did that tale speak to the times during which it was released? Judge for yourself.
And we wrap it up with the biggest singer/songwriter of all – Carole King. Of course, she was the Brill Building genius who wrote (with her then-husband Gerry Goffin) classics such as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “The Loco-Motion,” “Up On The Roof” and many, many more. After divorcing Goffin and remarrying (and divorcing again), King became a solo singer of her own material. Her second effort, 1971’s Tapestry, featured giant hits “You’ve Got A Friend” and “It’s Too Late” and is one of the best-selling albums of all time. King switched labels in 1977 and her album Simple Things featured as its first single “Hard Rock Cafe,” which was a minor hit.