Joel Goldenberg: The Three Degrees and more

The Three Degrees

We now plow on with the tremendous T list of favourite songs from solo artists and groups:

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The Three Degrees: The lushest of the Philadelphia International stable of artists produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Their biggest hit, When Will I See You Again, is '70s sweet in the best way possible. Take Good Care of Yourself is a hidden gem I happened to hear on an Internet oldies radio station, and loved at first listen.

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Three Dog Night: I have an emotional connection to this group that goes beyond the music. A cousin of mine taught me Joy to the World in the early 1970s, and I saw the group's best lead singer, Chuck Negron (who wrote a very harrowing autobiography) live in New York City. I like most of the group's songs, but especially their raucous version of Harry Nilsson's One, their passionate rendition of Easy To Be Hard (from the show Hair), and their rhythmic rendition of Shambala, which is mysteriously only available in mono and fake stereo despite being recorded in 1973.

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Tiny Tim: His trilling voice and wacky look got on my nerves, but check out the 1968 Beatles Christmas Record, in which he plays a version of Nowhere Man for George Harrison. Bizarre and nice at the same time.

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The Tokens: There's almost no better way to test one's rhythmic falsetto skills than to sing along with this group's 1960 hit in great RCA Living Stereo, The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

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Toto: This group, basically a collection of stellar studio musicians, was not one of my favourites in the early 1980s, when they reigned supreme. But there's no getting around it — Africa and Rosanna are damn good pop songs which will never be outdated, and that's saying something for 1980s tunes. Georgy Porgy, from 1979, is the group at its funkiest, and Hold the Line is the group at its rockingest. Talk about diversity!

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Pete Townshend: Townshend is, of course, the guitarist and main songwriter for The Who, my favourite rock group of all time (the Beach Boys are my favourite pop group of all time). And yet, when I've heard Townshend's very well-produced demos and albums, it sounds like the guy's taste would not include The Who. There's a lot of soft stuff — even the Who demos — and his version of The Real Me from Quadrophenia has a strange rhythmic sound, and is nothing like the final product from The Who. The best of his songs, Let My Love Open the Door, has a Who-like intro with synthesizers, but other than that, it's prime pop.

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The Toys: Their A Lover's Concerto is one of the better Motown imitations, with some classical music popified.

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The Trammps: Of course, this group is most famous for the massive disco hit, Disco Inferno, and that song is indeed nicely propulsive. But their earlier Hold Back the Night is a nice example of light but very melodic 1970s soul.

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The Tremeloes: This British group's version of Silence Is Golden far outshines the original by the American group The Four Seasons, which sounds clunky and awkward in comparison. The Tremeloes version, with wonderful harmonies worthy of the Beach Boys, was also a big hit, deservedly. Only in mono, despite being released in 1967.

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The Troggs: Wild Thing is considered a 1960s rock classic, but whenever it comes up on a playlist, I skip over to the next song. Two reasons — the reedy (mono) sound and the reedy vocals. The softer Love Is All Around (not to be confused with the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song) is more tolerable to my ears.

 

 

 

 

 

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