Beginnings – Chicago
There are some songs that should speak for themselves and this would be a prime example. In January of 1973 I picked Chicago’s “Beginnings” as my 3rd most favorite song of the 5 years between 1968 and 1972 and I would still rank it in my top 10 songs of the rock era. Off the original Chicago Transit Authority LP, it’s album version was a wonderful 7 minutes and 55 seconds long with a great percussion and horn center. The 3 minute and 14 second single edit that was the second single from the album failed to chart but it was re-released in 1971 with “Colour My World”, the single reached #7. Robert Lamm wrote the song and sings the lead on it. Terry Kath plays the distinctive guitar on the recording.
For years I campaigned for Chicago to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Two years ago that dream became a reality. The group who put a horn section in the forefront, leaders along with Blood, Sweat & Tears (the performers on one of the two songs I placed ahead of this on my list mentioned above), and Lighthouse, in the use of the horns.
One more video of a live version recorded for Soundstage in 2003
Midnight Confessions – The Grass Roots
The Grass Roots were originally a concept band that grew into a great group. Between 1967 and 1972, The Grass Roots set a record for being on the Billboard charts for 307 straight weeks. This one is their highest charting song and a classic from 1968. I was 15 when this was a hit and it’s one of those soul-searching songs that captured my fancy back then. Another of the American bands (San Francisco) that stood against the British Invasion.
In 1965 P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri went looking for a band that would fit their needs to cash in on the rock folk movement. The first song was “Where Were You When I Needed You” and the first group was hired, The Beaudins out of San Francisco, they were followed by The Robbs out of Wisconsin before the nucleus of the Grass Roots centered on The 13th Floor, a band from Los Angeles. More The Wrecking Crew than the band members themselves, the group had their first hit in “Let’s Live For Today”, After “Things I Should Have Said”, they released ‘Midnight Confessions”, a song written by Lou T. Josie for the band he managed, The Ever-Green Blues. The Grass Roots version would peak at #5 and spend 5 weeks in the Top 10 in October and November 1968. Their next three songs were covers that most people don’t realize that they weren’t original to the group including “Lovin’ Things”, a song that had been a UK hit for The Marmalade prior to the Grass Roots success with it.
I’ll close this post with the original single from The Ever-Green Blues, not a lot different except for the lack of horns.
South City Midnight Lady – The Doobie Brothers
Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers had a great many hits (13 Top 30 hits) and there are some great songs in that group but as I age (gracefully, I hope), this one has become my favorite Doobie song. An album cut from “The Captain and Me”, and the flip side of “You Belong To Me”, which only reached # 79 in July of 1983, the wistfulness of this song is wonderful. Enjoy!
Without Your Love – Roger Daltrey
Who (no pun intended) would have thought that Roger Daltrey would have been the voice to render one of the best love songs of the Rock & Roll era (IMHO). The world doesn’t quite agree with me on this one, it only reached #20 on the Billboard charts in 1980 and landed at #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart. There similarities in the melody and accompaniment to Justin Hayward’s “Forever Autumn”. Daltrey formed the Who and was the lead singer, one of the best stage performers of his time, yet he often took back stage to Pete Townsend as the group’s leader. Later he had a mediocre solo career, and dabbled in acting as well. Here is Roger Daltrey asking the musical question “Where would I be without your love”
I don’t remember knowing it was Roger Daltrey that sang this song when I first heard it, but I would venture to say this would be very high in the pantheon of songs in my Love Song Hall of Fame.
“You can show me the way
And give me a sunny day
What does it mean without your love?
And if I could travel far
If I could touch the stars
Where would I be without your love?
And if I ever wander away too far
You come looking for me with, open arms
I could forget my home,
Feel like a rolling stone
But who would I be without your love?
And what does it mean without your love?
Where would I be?”
Face In The Crowd/Reminiscing – Little River Band
Australia’s Little River Band produced some great music over it’s run – Cool Change, Reminiscing, Lonesome Loser, Night Owl, just to name a few. This song was originally on their “No Reins” LP in 1986 and it’s always been my favorite LRB song. The angst and wistfulness of the lyrics and the changes in tempo make this a great song. Released as a single in the States in July of 1986 but never charted. Written by original band member Graeham Goble, who also wrote the band’s best known hit “Reminiscing”, one of the 58 songs he wrote that have gotten airplay in the States. Here’s what Goble had to say about writing “Reminiscing”:
“I loved watching old black and white movies, and I always also loved the music of Glenn Miller and Cole Porter, that whole era of writing, and it was my attempt to write a song to depict the romantic era. It came out very quickly, I wrote it in about half an hour. Even though a lot of people think it sounds complicated, on the guitar it’s very simple to play. It nearly never got recorded – when the time came to record it, the keyboard player I wanted to use, Peter Jones, was out of town, so we cut the band track with a different keyboard player. It didn’t work. A few days later when we tried it again with a different keyboard player, again it didn’t work, and the band was losing interest in the song. Just before the album was finished, Peter Jones came back into town, the band and I had an argument because I wanted to give Reminiscing a third chance. Peter played on it, we cut it, and finished it, and sent the album to Capitol. Capitol said that they couldn’t hear any singles on the album, and didn’t know what to release. Five weeks later, someone at Capitol’s New York office said ‘You’re all crazy, Reminiscing is a smash.’ Capitol put it out, and it just immediately caught on fire, and became our highest chart hit.”
“It’s quite staggering; you don’t realize you’ve written something like that until it happens, until it’s history.”
Here’s To You – Hamilton Camp
“Here’s To You” was released in May of 1968 and spent 5 weeks on the charts only rising to #76. I have always loved this song. The man who wrote and sang it has been a face most of you over the age of 15 have seen on TV, the first time I saw him, he was blown to bits on a Rat Patrol episode, Trekkie’s know him as “Leck”, Lois & Clark fans know him as H.G. Wells. A List of his TV appearances can be found at Hamilton Camp.com
Camp started his entertainment career as a folk singer with Bob Gibson (no, not the great St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher). His songwriting credits include “Pride of Man”best known by Quicksilver Messenger Service,
“You Can Tell The World”, sung by Simon and Garfunkel on their first album “Wednesday Morning- 3 A.M.” This gospel song I have known since I was very young but didn’t know it was a Camp and Gibson composition.
Beside’s his live acting career, he was the voice of many animated characters including Gizmo Duck on Duck Tales and Greedy and Harmony Smurf on The Smurfs and Count Dracula in Scoby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf”
Hamilton passed away in 2005 at age 70.
A Girl Like You – The Young Rascals
I am unabashedly a (Young) Rascals fan and this song is one of the major reasons why. I have often said that Felix, Eddie, Dino and Gene should roll off the tongue just like John, Paul, George and Ringo.
The Young Rascals had their most recognized hit in the Spring of 1967 in “Groovin'”, their follow-up single still remains my favorite song of the rock era. The intro still gets to me and the lyrics were a 14 year old romantic’s dream. Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati co-wrote this masterpiece. The song “only” reached #10 and spent the middle two weeks of August 1967 there. “A Girl Like You” came along at the right time for me and it will always have a special place in my musical journey.
Ain’t Gonna Lie/98.6 – Keith
Ain’t Gonna Lie
It’s time for this afternoon’s “twin spin” 😉 From Keith (James Keefer) from Philadelphia. The first song was Keith’s initial foray onto the charts in 1966, it reached #39 and set up the next one – released in December of 1966 but considered a 1967 hit, “98.6” spent 14 weeks in the top 100, peaking at #7. I have always loved the song, even if it does fit well into the bubblegum mold that would take over a lot of rock & roll commercial music in the late 60’s. Arrested for draft evasion in the middle of a concert tour, Keith managed just two more charting singles before joining Frank Zappa’s touring band in 1973.
Good morning sun I say it’s good to see you shining!
I know my baby brought you to me.
She kissed me yesterday,
I know the silver lining
That’s been with summer running through me
Hey, ninety eight point six,
it’s good to have you back again.
oh, hey, ninety eight point six,
her lovin’ is the medicine that saved me,
Oh, I love my baby.
Hey, everybody on the street:
I see you smilin’,
Must be because I found my baby.
You know she’s got me on some other kind of highway,
I want to go to where it takes me!”
Summer Rain – Johnny Rivers
Another of my favorite artists from the 60’s and 70’s. I wish I’d been in Calais when he came for a concert in circa 2000! 29 charted songs, only “Poor Side of Town” reached #1. Johnny re-invented his sound several times over his career. This was released in November 1967 and spent 10 weeks on the Billboard Top 100, peaking at #14. His follow-up song to this in April of 1968 was “Look To Your Soul”. I always wanted to be a writer and when I wrote down songs that I would like to include in a story about the late sixties, this was one I included that definitely takes me back to that era.
“She stepped out of a rainbow,
Golden hair shining like moonglow.
Warm lips, soft as her soul,
Sitting here by me, now.
She’s here by me.
All summer long we were dancing in the sand,
Everybody just kept on playing,
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
We sailed into the sunset,
Drifting home, caught by a gulf stream.
Never gave a thought for tomorrow,
Let tomorrow be”.
This one of those records that I liked at first but the older I get, the more I love it. The guitar intro gives me goosebumps, just like Bruce Hornsby’s piano intro to “Every Little Kiss”.
Sauvecito – Malo
Sauvecito is easily in my top love songs of the rock era. The melodic latin lines in it never fail to grab me. It’s still one of the few songs that I can feel goosebumps when I hear the opening notes. Malo (Spanish for bad) was a San Francisco based group that included Jorge Santana, Carlos Santana’s brother. The song, Spanish for soft or smooth, reached #18 in 1972. Personally, the song spent two weeks at #1 on my weekly top 15 the weeks of March 19th and 26th, 1972.
I love to find old clips of these groups in their prime, I found this, obviously a live clip that doesn’t quite hold the magic, at least for me, of the studio version, but well worth the watch.