Joel Goldenberg: The 1970s top-10 hits review part 15

Marie Osmond and Mac Davis.

And now we resume our survey of the top-10 hits of the 1970s, in alphabetic order artists-wise:

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Probably the most successful singles band of the late 1960s and 1970s, and the most successful rock 'n roll (not rock) revivalists. Their late 1960s hits (Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Green River, Down on the Corner) were the band at their peak artistically. Travelin' Band was a Little Richard cop, and other top-10s were the excellent Up Around the Bend, Lookin' Out My Back Door, Have You Ever Seen the Rain (written by John Fogerty as a signpost for the coming breakup of the band) and Sweet Hitch-Hiker. But these very good songs feel a bit more sour when you read of the bad relations between band members and between the group and their record company Fantasy behind the scenes, as painfully chronicled in Fogerty's autobiography.

Jim Croce: Speaking of painful, that's the feeling one gets when listening to his hits, not because of quality (on the contrary, they're excellent, from the rollicking Bad Bad Leroy Brown, to the defiant You Don't Mess Around With Jim and the exceptionally poignant and prophetic Time in a Bottle) but because of his tragic 1973 plane crash following a concert and at the height of his popularity, and just when he was vowing to get off the road. Tragedy always colours one's feelings towards songs. The night of the tragedy was especially poignant — Croce and his band had been followed to the airport by a group of fans, and they had a nice talk before the plane took off and crashed almost immediately. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown can not just be thought as rollicking any more.

Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young): CSNY should have had many top-10 hits, but I can't see them editing something as great as Suite: Judy Blue Eyes down to 45 RPM length. Their rocking anthemic version of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock came close at #11, and Teach Your Children (#16) was very pop-friendly. But their one top-10 (without Neil Young) was the excellent Just A Song Before I Go, which ends all too soon — it's only just over two minutes long.

Burton Cummings: I first heard Cummings' one (American) top-10 solo hit (outside the Guess Who) over the speakers at the old Classy store in Snowdon while trying on suits in preparation for my bar-mitzvah, and immediately loved its intensity ballad-wise. And, of course, the ballad was a complete 180 from his rockier, bluesier material for the Guess Who. The man has a hell of a voice, and he deserved to have more American top-10s, especially I'm Scared (which only hit #61) and I Will Play A Rhapsody (which didn't hit the hot 100).

And now we start with artists and groups beginning with the letter D:

Daddy Dewdrop: If only music was still as wild, wooly and free-wheeling as this group's one top-tenner Chick-A Boom (Don't Ya Jes' Love It). Quintessential hippie rock.

Charlie Daniels Band: Of course, the very recently deceased country artist is best known for the extremely propulsive The Devil Went Down to Georgia with its wonderful fiddle parts, but the earlier Uneasy Rider is a fun tale of a hippie dealing with Southern rednecks.

Mac Davis: (Isn't it strange how three successive entries are related in some way?) Of course, this country artist is also even more recently deceased. His own output was despised by critics, but Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me and Stop and Smell the Roses are pleasant enough listening and (despite the children's choir) I like (If You Add) All the Love in the World (#54). But his most well-liked contribution was his songwriting, including some great Elvis songs, the funky A Little Less Conversation, and the ballads In the Ghetto, Memories and Don't Cry Daddy, all recorded during Presley's comeback period in 1968-69.

Next time: Paul Davis and others.

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