Tag Archives: 1970

The Five Stairsteps – O-o-h Child (1970)

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At about the same time that The Jackson 5 were making waves, the first family of soul, The Five Stairsteps, released the song ‘O-o-h Child’.  The family were Betty and Clarence Burke Sr.’s five children: Alohe Jean, Clarence Jr., James, Dennis and Keni. Maybe it’s just me, but that earworm chorus, the drum rhythm and the singing siren (at roughly a minute in) make me wonder why this disc only sold a million copies. Have a great weekend.

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Black Sabbath – Iron Man (1970)

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Containing one of rock’s greatest guitar riff, ‘Iron Man’ is hard rock personified. Tony Iommi’s riff is slow tempo, mind-blowing and apocalyptic. You won’t like the Iron Man when he’s angry. He featured at the end of the first side of their second album, Paranoid.

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Sixto Rodriguez – Jane S Piddy (1970)

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While George Harrison was knocking out the hits that he’d been holding back, Sixto Rodriguez was recording his talent for tomorrow. Not at all popular in 1970, Rodriguez would be rightly rediscovered 30 years later. ‘Jane S Piddy’ is off the singer-songwriter’s debut album Cold Fact.

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George Harrison – Isn’t It A Pity (1970)

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Coldplay and Chris Martin will always be under represented on this blog, but I’ll give him his dues. When suffering a touch of writers’ block, Martin reached for George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. As he sat at the piano trying to play ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, he accidentally found the chord that became ‘The Scientist’. Fine song that it is, it is a pale imitation.

 

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Led Zeppelin – Friends (1970)

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Led Zeppelin 1970

Another track that sticks out for its disquieting string arrangement is ‘Friends’ off Led Zeppelin III. By 1970 had no shortage of pomp. Having returned from an exhausting tour of the US, the band retreated to Bron-Yr-Aur, a small cottage in the Dyfi Valley. Hats off to John Paul Jones. The bass player took the tranquility of their setting and created a string arrangement that would open a creative door – a precursor to ‘Kashmir’.

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Jorge Ben – Oba, Lá Vem Ela (1970)

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Jorge Ben Jor

Now if there’s a cult instrument that I like even more than the cowbell, it’s the monkey sound of the cuíca drum. Enter Jorge Ben’s ‘Oba, Lá Vem Ela’ off his 1970 pressing Fôrça Bruta. Throw in some sweeping strings and what you have is heaven. Jorge Ben, you are the man.

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Van Morrison – Into The Mystic (1970)

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Van Morrison moondance

If Moondance is the the yang to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks‘ yin, I plump for the shady side every time. But to give the former its due, it’s a bonafide classic and features this undeniable masterpiece. “I want to rock ya gypsy soul!” Have a great week.

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The Doors – Peace Frog (1970)

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The Doors Peace Frog

Like Let It Bleed’s ‘Monkey Man’, The Door’s ‘Peace Frog’ sounds like one of the father species and key attractions in a zoo that would become known as Britpop. It features on the 1970 album Morrison Hotel. Have a great weekend.

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Freda Payne – Band Of Gold (1970)

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Freda Payne

The Motown house band, Funk Brothers, also surreptitiously played on ‘Band of Gold’. The song was written for Freda Payne by legendary Motown songwriters Holland–Dozier–Holland and released on their Invictus label. By 1970, H-D-H had had fallen out with Motown boss Berry Gordy Jr. in grand style over a dispute about royalties. So what were they doing instead? No less than writing and producing the seminal proto disco cut. Have a great weekend.

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Vashti Bunyan – Diamond Day (1970)

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Vashti Bunyan

A low key end to the week – I’m on leave and starting to relax. The hippy, whispery lyrics of Vashti Bunyan’s ‘Diamond Day’ were written at a time when Bunjan’s work had been rejected by the commercial world. Featuring on her debut long player Just Another Diamond Day, the song would become part of commerce itself when providing the backdrop for a T-Mobile Flext advert in the mid-noughties. Have a great weekend.

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Neil Young – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (1970)

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Neil Young again

Off his 1970 album After the Gold Rush, ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ was written for Graham Nash after his split from Joni Mitchell. Nash was Neil Young’s previous bandmate; Mitchell was a colleague who shared the same manager. That intimacy was originally lost on me when introduced to the song through Saint Etienne’s cover 20 years later. Have a great weekend. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The Stooges – Dirt (1970)

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The Stooges

Before the easy of listening of Christmas sets in, I would like to get something more edgy off my chest. First up, ‘Dirt’ by The Stooges. The track is off their 1970 album Fun House, and like much of the rest of the album, this is not a song that you could easily date from initial listen. Producer Don Gallucci recorded Fun House as though it were a live album. The result is raw and abrasive. Iggy spits out his words. This is garage rock; this is proto punk; but Ron Asheton’s hazy guitar solo is also sublimely in tune with its time. You can hear The Doors that so influenced James Osterberg (aka Iggy) and a completely new sound that inspired the likes of MC5, the Ramones and The Damned.

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John Lennon – Mother (1970)

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John Lennon

This is turning into a retrospective week. “Mother, you had me, but I never had you”. The sound of those words are less about the pain of abandonment to me, more the start of Ringo Starr’s drum rhythm. It would influence the music of Tony Visconti and Bowie, and therefore that of Marc Bolan and Ziggy Stardust. Now that’s influence Ringo – I can just hear your echoes on ‘Soul Love’. In 1998, Bowie was still moving to Lennon’s ‘Mother’ and recorded version of the song with Tony Visconti for an unreleased tribute album.

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Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up (1970)

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Curtis Mayfield

I knew The Jam’s cover of ‘Move on Up’ before I ever heard the Curtis Mayfield original. Heresy. (Now that I mention it, I think Paul Weller also introduced me to Tammi Terrell, but that’s another story.) The former frontman of the Impressions featured the song on his ground-breaking debut long player Curtis. This funk classic summons a dance through a combo of mad bongos and a brass riff extraordinaire. Mayfield would never get better – a high bar, nonetheless. Have a great weekend.

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Odetta – Hit Or Miss (1970)

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Odetta

The queen of American folk music, Odetta Holmes, has become ‘hip’ again. The singer-songwriter penned the classic ‘Hit or Miss’, which has been recently used in a TV ad for Southern Comfort. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a view on YouTube. It features an oily, moustachioed, speedo-wearing, middle-aged man walking down the beach. Now that’s sold it you. Odetta’s sublime voice was first introduced to me as a part of the Mojo Club Presents Dancefloor Jazz – a superior series of compilations from the early 1990s. They are also worth seeking out.

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