Joel Goldenberg: The 1970s top-10 hits review part 14

Rita Coolidge performing We're All Alone on a 1978 TV appearance.

Before we resume our survey of the top-10 hits of the 1970s, another update on the continued efforts to ensure the release of the completed Feel Flows box set of Beach Boys session outtakes from between 1969 and 1971.

Beach Boys insider Howie Edelson, who has provided necessarily limited updates on the delayed set that he has helped put together, has provided a further, tantalizing update to members of the Smiley Smile Beach Boys forum:

"The amount of unreleased and alternate material assembled is major — beautiful work from ALL members of the group," he wrote. "Everyone shines on this thing. It's Abbey Road-Beach Boys — and would ABSOLUTELY be lauded for being just that."

Edelson added that the collected material includes 25 minutes of songs that were planned for drummer Dennis Wilson's 1971 first solo album — which actually came out with all different songs in 1977.

"To lose that would truly be a sin (and, obviously, a colossal sales deterrent)," the insider wrote. "I know from my liner [notes] alone — drawing from both new interviews and others culled from chats with the band on this material over the past 15 years — the story of this era breathes new life into the brand. Knowing from you all what EVERYBODY wants from this collection — I really can't see how this set could be improved, if altered."

Two points on this. Some fans have taken this as a sign that whoever is holding up the box wants a change in its song lineup. And the Dennis Wilson outtakes and rarities that have actually been released from this era — Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Live Again), Fourth of July (sung by Carl Wilson), the Lady/Sound of Free stand alone single, demonstrate what a major talent and deeply emotional artist Dennis Wilson was. His deterioration due to drugs and alcohol and drowning death in 1983 was an utter tragedy.

This box set really needs to come out. Please sign one of the petitions calling for its release.

And now back to the top-10s of the 1970s.

Rita Coolidge: This artist's two top-10s were an all-too laid back (as in '70s-ized) version of the usually exciting Jackie Wilson song (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher and her version of the already laid back Boz Scaggs yacht-rock classic We're All Alone. The latter was a favourite of mine when I heard it on the radio many times during a trip to Florida in late 1977. I still like her version, but her vocal sounds like it was recorded in a deep well.

Alice Cooper: I pretty much shied away from Alice Cooper for the same reason I shied away from Kiss during their peak in the 1970s — the scary (for a kid) images they projected, in Cooper's case through make-up and his "violent" stage show. I now like Cooper's material— not nearly as much as Kiss's, though — and my positive feelings about him solidified when I actually saw him in concert at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida several years ago. The stage shtick was fun and harmless, and Cooper is not only a consummate performer in his hard rock genre, but you can tell he really appreciates his fans. His two 1970s top-10s are from two very distinct periods in his career, School's Out is still a well-loved rebellious anthem for students everywhere, and You and Me was when he softened things up, and is a song I first heard on a K-Tel album. Unsurprisingly, the critics don't like his softer late-1970s material, but that latter song is rather pleasant to me.

Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose: This soul family group had two top-10s. The first, Treat Her Like A Lady, is good enough; but It's Too Late To Turn Back Now, is a gorgeous, stone-cold classic that I remember hearing as a kid, which of course makes me lean toward that song between the two. In fact, I had thought Treat Her Like A Lady was a relatively weak follow-up to the bigger (by one chart position, #3 to #2) hit, but it came out first.

Next time: Creedence Clearwater Revival and others.

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