Feel Flows freed, the 1970s top-10 hits review Part 46

Donna Summer performing Love to Love You Baby in a 1970s TV appearance.

We now resume our look at the U.S. top-10 hits of the 1970s, with artists and groups beginning with the letter S. But first, another major Beach Boys update:

It finally happened. The Beach Boys, Capitol Records and Universal Music have finally officially announced the upcoming release of the much-anticipated box set Feel Flows, a chronicle of the 1969 to 1971 sessions that produced material for singles, the Sunflower and Surf's Up albums, a never-released Dennis Wilson solo album and a few songs for what became the Carl and the Passions-So Tough album.

(Update: According to Beach Boys insider, the release date has been pushed to Aug. 27 from July 23.)

The set, as has been the trend in recent years for deluxe collections, will be available in various formats — LPs, a 2-CD sampler and the full 5-CD set that includes 2019 remasters of the Sunflower and Surf's Up albums, live versions over the years of songs from that era, dissections (backing tracks and background vocals, alternate takes, a capella versions) of the released songs, and an enticing collection of officially (some previously bootlegged) unreleased material.

Among the latter are the much bootlegged original version of Big Sur, which was reworked drastically for the 1972 Holland album; a version of the much-loved 'Til I Die with alternate lyrics, the aforementioned Dennis Wilson tracks; a snippet of an version of the Beatles' You Never Give Me Your Money, the bizarre and interesting Halloween track My Solution, and (not a favourite of mine) a version of Seasons in the Sun produced by Canadian Terry Jacks, four years before Jacks had his own hit with the song.

When news broke last year that the box set was delayed, with no reason given, rumours started to fly. Now, the latest hypothesis is that the delay was due to the process leading up to the Beach Boys selling a controlling interest of their music, brand and rights to Irving Azoff's Iconic Artists Group.

But of course, we're past that drama now. Some great, revelatory music is on the way.

And now, back to the top-10:

Donna Summer - Love to Love You Baby, I Feel Love, Last Dance, MacArthur Park, Heaven Knows (with Brooklyn Dreams), Hot Stuff, Bad Girls, Dim All The Lights, No More Tears (Enough is Enough) (with Barbra Streisand): If one could chronicle the best songs of the disco era, it would include one shots like Don't Leave Me This Way by Thelma Houston, Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton, several others and the late 1970s output of the Bee Gees, Chic and Donna Summer, whose bigger than life voice and songs produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte gave artistic merit to the genre. Summer's songs varied from the ultra sexual Love to Love You Baby, the very impressively propulsive I Feel Love and the brash remake of the 1968 Richard Harris Jimmy Webb-written MacArthur Park, to the (accurately compared to the Rolling Stones by critics) disco-rock of the hits emanating from the 2-LP Bad Girls album. It's just too bad Summer's superb remake of Barry Manilow's Could it Be Magic, given a wonderful and even emotional arrangement, only hit #52.

Supertramp - The Logical Song, Take the Long Way Home: While this British band's Crime of the Century album was kind of their version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon as a classic rock mainstay (my favourite song from this band, Hide in Your Shell, is from that album and wasn't even a hit), Breakfast in America was kind of like a greatest hits collection — very, very commercial. I even remember the time I first heard The Logical Song on the radio, driving with my family on Montreal's Autoroute 13, heading to Autoroute 40 on the way to the Fairview mall in Pointe Claire. At first, I thought it was a gritty-voiced woman singing (like Bonnie Tyler and It's A Heartache). I loved the song from start to finish, with its perfect pop sense and interesting musical changes.

The Supremes- Up the Ladder to the Roof, Stoned Love: As you can see, Diana Ross's name is not a part of the group's name here. By this time, she had launched her solo career. The early songs released by the newly reconstituted group were superb, but — from what I've read — a conflict between Motown label head Berry Gordy and new lead singer Jean Terrell meant the label wasn't going to give the group a maximum promotional push, and it didn't help that Gordy was romantically linked to Ross. Funnily enough, very early on, the new Supremes were more successful chartwise than Ross, but the latter dominated for the rest of the decade, particularly from 1973 (Touch Me in the Morning) on.

Billy Swan - I Can Help: A fun, goofy, rockabilly revivalist song covered to quite good effect by Elvis Presley.

Sweet - Little Willy, Ballroom Blitz, Fox On the Run, Love Is Like Oxygen: Except for David Bowie, the most successful 1970s glam musical entity chartwise, with a collection of Beatlesesque, anthemic, utterly memorable hits, particularly my favourite, the pounding Fox On the Run.

The Sylvers- Boogie Fever, Hot Line: A mixture of the Jackson 5 and bubblegum music.

Sylvia- Pillow Talk: Over the top sex song with rather poor sound fidelity.

Next time: The top-10 of groups and artists starting with the letter T.

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