August 2015

220px-Pilot_-_Pilot#6 – Pilot – “Magic” – (1974)

What a happy song. This was Pilot’s biggest hit in the U.S. (they were from Scotland and had another big hit in the U.K.). It still received airplay in the U.S. here and there and is perfect for commercials and movies. It hit #5 in the U.S. and comes from a fabulously titled album: From the Album of the Same Name

220px-Queen_Sheer_Heart_Attack#7 – Queen – “Killer Queen” – (1974)

This song by Queen, lyrically, is one of magnificence. Freddie Mercury wrote the lyrics before the music and you can tell that there is definite cohesion among the lyrics and the music was beautifully crafted to fill the gaps. It didn’t make the top 10 in the U.S. (#12) but it stands of one of Queen’s top tracks.

220px-Three_Dog_Night_-_Cyan#8 – Three Dog Night – “Shambala” – (1973)

“Shambala” is one of Three Dog Night’s most fun songs and it came out in 1973 (dammit!). “Shambala” refers to an El Dorado-like mythical place that can be found in Tibetan Buddhism. I guess it’s like Shangri-La. Three Dog Night’s version of this song hit #3 on the Hot 100 (B.W. Stevenson released a version at the exact same time, but it was not as successful).

220px-Light_Of_Worlds1974#9 – Kool & The Gang – “Summer Madness” – (1974)

If you ask me, this is the best Kool & The Gang song. It’s jazzy, funky, and soulful all at the same time – and it sounds like something that could’ve been released in 1983. It’s completely relaxing in a throwback kind of way and that synth is so smooth. This was the highest charting single from this album, peaking at #35.

Rock_Your_Baby#10 – George McRae – “Rock Your Baby” – (1974)

Catchy, catchy disco. This #1 hit was by far the biggest for McRae, even though it was written by K.C. & The Sunshine Band (which you can totally hear it you listen to it). This song was the inspiration for two other giant hits: ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.” How about that, K.C. & The Sunshine Band influencing John Lennon. 

Give+It+To+The+People+giveittothepeople#11 – The Righteous Brothers – “Rock and Roll Heaven” – (1974)

This song is actually a cover. It was originally done by Climax but the Righteous Brothers took it to #3 in the U.S. The song is about deceased rock stars and how heaven must have “one hell of a band.” They mention Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Jim Croce, Otis Redding, and Bobby Darin. It’s catchy. And interesting. And creepy: “there’s a spotlight waiting no matter who you are…” implying that the grim reaper is sitting in wait so you can sing for him when he gets you.

220px-The_Eagles_-_On_the_Border#12 – Eagles – “Best Of My Love” – (1974)

Here’s a Hot 100 #1 single from the Eagles. It has a very soft country rock sound and is a slow dance classic. It was actually the group’s first #1 single and the biggest hit from On the Border

220px-Barry_White_Cant_Get_Enough#13 – Barry White – “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” – (1974)

Barry White had the most soulful voice in the 1970s. It sort of defines that era of soul and disco. Especially when paired with such a funky beat like this. When you hear this song you can just picture people spinning on roller skates below a disco ball. It was a #1 for White and one of his biggest hits – not to mention it’s pretty much his signature song. The other thing about it is the title, which is very long. A lot of Barry White song titles are this way… sort of a near-sentence. In fact, take any sentence and add “, babe” to the end of it and you’ve just generated a Barry White single!

Holiday_album_cover#14 – America – “Lonely People” – (1974)

Even though the song is called “Lonely People”, which sounds depressing, the song is kind of an upper if you listen to the lyrics. It’s about not giving up. In fact, the song was written as a counter to the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” – which is not a happy song. It peaked at #5 on the Hot 100.

220px-I_Can_Stand_a_Little_Rain#15 – Joe Cocker – “You Are So Beautiful” – (1974)

Co-written by Billy Preston, this song was a big hit for Joe Cocker (even though he didn’t write it). It peaked at #5 on the Hot 100. There’s just something great about a love song sung by someone with such a gruff voice, especially when backed with such a nice, soft piano.

Rags_to_Rufus#16 – Rufus & Chaka Khan – “Tell Me Something Good” – (1974)

This song is funky as hell. It was written by Stevie Wonder and excellently recorded by Chicago-based mixed-race funk band Rufus and released on the somewhat-funnily named Rags to Rufus in 1974. Like Diana Ross and Frankie Valli, Chaka Khan was sometimes credited apart from the band in which she was a member. The single for this song was released as by ‘Rufus and Chaka Khan.’ It reached #3 on the Hot 100.

220px-SweetDesolationBoulevardOriginal#17 – The Sweet – “The Ballroom Blitz” – (1974)

There’s some weirdness around the dates on this song, for sure. First just listen to it and think that this song was popular in 1973 and how much of a punk sound it has – years before punk became huge. The Sweet was from the U.K. and this single was released in late ’73 in Europe and the album came out in ’74. But in the U.S., neither was released until 1975. This was a top five hit in the U.S. and was featured prominently in Wayne’s World and whenever I hear it I do the head bob that Wayne and Garth do during the song.

220px-Wovoka_(album)_cover#18 – Redbone – “Come and Get Your Love” – (1973)

“Come and Get Your Love” was the biggest hit and signature song of Redbone, a band from L.A. whose members were of either Native American or Mexican descent. This song peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 in 1974 (even though the album came out at the end of 1973). My favorite story about this band is that there was a group touring under the name “Redbone” actually booking shows and performing at small venues that wasn’t this band at all. But because no one really knew what they looked like, they were able to get away with it.