Monday, December 16, 2013

Ray Price's early '70s pop chart streak

Ray Price, who we lost today at age 87, was one of early '70s country radio's crossover kings. As the Billboard ads above illustrate, a country artist's ability to chart in multiple genres was something to brag about in an industry eager to bust out of an insular phase. Although there's much more to Price's extraordinary legacy than this, his streak of six pop chart appearances between 1970 and 1973 bear special notice here. The orchestrated countrypolitan sounds that led Price to the pop and easy listening charts during this era may still offend the ears of some hardcore country fans, but there's no denying the interpretive authority of a true master, whatever the genre, when you listen to these:

8/29/70 - "For the Good Times" (Billboard pop #11, country #1)
Written by Kris Kristofferson, produced by Don Law. (These records also stand as memorials to Don Law's final years of prominence.)

3/20/71 - "I Won't Mention It Again" (pop #42, country #3)
Written by Cam Mullins, produced by Don Law. Cam Mullins is the arranger/conductor for all six of these.

8/14/71 - "I'd Rather Be Sorry" (pop #70, country #2)
Written by Kris Kristofferson, produced by Don Law

4/29/72 - "The Lonesomest Lonesome" (pop #109, country #2)
Written by Mac Davis, produced by Don Law

1/6/73 - "She's Got to Be a Saint" (pop #93, counry #1)
Written by Joe Paulini and Mike DiNapoli, produced by Don Law

8/25/73 - "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" (pop #82, country #1)
Written by Jim Weatherly, produced by Don Law. More crossing over: Gladys Knight and the Pips took their version of this song to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1974 and #1 on the soul chart.

(No more Price singles reached the Hot 100 after this, although his country chart success continued until 1982.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Globetrotters - "Gravy" (1970)

Cartoon characters usually had corresponding music business obligations in the early '70s. Hear "Gravy" in action at 4:53. And here's the flipside. Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon actually did participate in background vocals, apparently, while journeyman vocalist/songwriter J.R. Bailey sang lead. No Globetrotter singles cracked the Billboard Hot 100.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Association - " Just About the Same" (1970)

Billboard ad (2/28/70) featuring one of early '70s pop's favorite subjects: children. The single bubbled under at #106 and is a cover version of a 1968 single by the Millennium.

The Association - "Just About the Same" (1970)

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Osmonds with Isaac Hayes in 1974

From a 1974 variety show one-off. The Donny and Marie Show, a late seventies phenomenon, was still two years away...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stylistics sales power

African American pop music in the early '70s was like the month of March, coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. The politically-charged, pulse-raising material that was mostly quarantined to soul radio playlists in 1970 gave way to ballads with broader appeal by 1975. This Stylistics ad from a 1971 Billboard really zeroes in on the metamorphosis, with enough marketing crisscross happening that I'm honestly not sure what the prevailing point is (if there even is one). Let's see...the most luscious sounding balladeers of the early '70s are relaxing in a meadow. Amid a troubled society, they exist in a bubble. But don't write this group off as being out of touch because Black Power (see fist) ultimately drives them, and this association will bring forth more sales for the Stylistics from the perceived soul music base. Or wait, maybe the "sales power" heading is intended to soften or poke fun at Black Power, acknowledging that a new sound, embodied by the Stylistics, is on the horizon. Any of the above interpretations, actually, would fit the spirit of the times just fine.       

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Sweet Fine Happy Lord

In case you're interested, I've posted a timeline and some words about "My Sweet Lord" over at my other blog, Boneyard Media, where I occasionally spin my wheels on the subject of "borrowed tunes."