Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles, Part 6
When I was a kid, singles were the best way to get into music – that is, music that wasn’t interrupted on the radio by some golden throat in love with his own voice. I kind of remember having some singles with the price tag still attached to the paper sleeve; those were 50 cents but I more clearly remember paying about 68 cents for a single in the late 1960s-early 1970s. And the first single I ever bought with my own money? “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, in 1966.
OK, here’s an old one: Procol Harum had a giant hit in 1967 with “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and they followed it up the same year with “Homburg,” a song that not coincidentally sounded a lot like its predecessor. The followup did reasonably well, and although neither “Whiter Shade” nor “Homburg” were originally on the British version of Procol Harum’s first album (“Whiter Shade” was included on the U.S. version), they now appear on the CD release.
Jumping into the 1970s, we encounter the singer-songwriter duo Brewer and Shipley. Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley are perhaps best known for “One Toke Over The Line” from their 1970 album Tarkio, but they had a handful of followup hits including “Shake Off The Demon,” the title tune from their 1971 album.
Although he also performed in a duo, Paul Simon was his group’s songwriter. So when he broke up his successful union with Arthur Garfunkel, Simon issued the much-acclaimed solo debut Paul Simon in 1972. “Mother and Child Reunion” and “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard” were substantial hits but the third single “Duncan,” not so much.
People knew Leon Russell as a performer who led the “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour for Joe Cocker, or as a session musician who played on Phil Spector sessions and on records by pretty much anyone who recorded in Los Angeles in the 1960s. He also cut albums – with Marc Benno as the Asylum Choir, and solo. Leon’s third solo LP Carney, from 1972, was the first to contain a hit single, “Tight Rope,” which climbed all the way to No. 2 on the U.S. charts. The B-side of that single was “This Masquerade,” which has been covered by the Carpenters, Helen Reddy and many others … but surprise – today let’s rock to “Tight Rope.”
And finally, let’s jump ahead a few years to 1980 where we find Rocky Burnette. The son of rock and roll pioneer Johnny Burnette, Rocky cut a solo LP in 1979 but scored with a followup single, “Tired Of Toein’ The Line,” in 1980. The song climbed into the U.S. Top 10 and tied Johnny Burnette’s “You’re Sixteen” as the highest-charting single by a member of the Burnette family.