Joel Goldenberg: The 1970s top-10 hits review part 20

Dave Edmunds singing I Hear You Knocking in concert.

Before we resume our survey of the U.S. top-10 hits, a potentially joyous note and a somewhat disappointing one. First the joyous.

I have long been preoccupied with two issues regarding sound, being able to hear surround sound in my home without hearing complaints from my condo neighbour, and the development of a headphone technology that replicates surround sound and Dolby Atmos vertical surround as coming from speakers. One interesting idea involves a computer chip being inserted into one's head, an Elon Musk proposal called Neuralink.

My preoccupation intensified after a recent shopping trip downtown. I went to Best Buy and tried out two soundbars, the Sonos Beam ($500) and the Sonos Arc ($1,000). The Beam produced fairly convincing virtual surround sound, but the Arc produced such spectacular virtual Dolby Atmos sound that I kept turning my head to confirm whether the movie sounds I heard weren't just coming from elsewhere in the store.

Of course, I wasn't going to get either, they would both prompt complaints from my condo neighbour and are out of my price range. But it intensified my wish for a headphone equivalent.

Hey presto, just days later, I see a report that Israelis, technical marvels that they are, have produced a desktop speaker which radiates stereo and 360 degree sound only to the ears of the listener, and nobody else. This will especially be appealing to gamers and viewers of intense action and sci-fi movies.

The Noveto company's technology, which was demonstrated to an Associated Press reporter very recently, will apparently be tweaked (smaller speaker set-up and more improvements) and be widely available by Christmas 2021. Hopefully, it will be reasonably priced and within my budget. I don't know if the sound will be as powerful as actual speakers, but the technology sounds promising.

Now, the disappointing note. According to informed sources on the Beach Boys Endless Harmony chat board, there will not be a new Beach Boys LP to commemorate the band's 60th anniversary — the album That's Why God Made the Radio marked their 50th. Apparently, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine refused, perhaps because of ongoing issues with co-founder Mike Love, or it could be COVID-related.

On the other hand, the much-anticipated Feel Flows box set release of 1969-71 Beach Boys outtakes appears to be going ahead, but there's no date yet for its release. Rest assured this column will provide updates on that.

And now to the top-10 list:

Dave Edmunds: This British artist has been a purveyor of what is known as pub-rock (kind of like rockabilly) in his native country, and which didn't make huge inroads in the States. But his one top-10 U.S. hit in 1970 was a revival of the Smiley Lewis classic I Hear You Knocking, in which Edmunds' voice is altered to sound very retro. It's charming, but not one of my favourite songs.

Edward Bear: This Toronto group's one U.S. top-10 was the kind of wispy but very catchy Last Song, in '72. It should have been the more rousing, horn-driven You, Me and Mexico from '70, one of my very favourite songs, which only hit #68.

Jonathan Edwards: This Minnesota artist was a one-hit wonder in late 1971 with the intense folkie guitar-driven song Sunshine, which is very likeable and is notable for having quite a narrow stereo mix.

Walter Egan: His one big hit was the bouncy-sounding Magnet and Steel in '78, which was graced with much Fleetwood Mac pixie dust. Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks sang background vocals; Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac producer Richard Dashut co-produced with Egan and Egan has said Nicks was the inspiration for the song.

Electric Light Orchestra: Considering how Electric Light Orchestra's first greatest hits album from 1979 is nearly as perfect as the mega-selling Eagles first greatest hits album, you'd think this Beatles-inspired (as in the symphonic sound of I Am The Walrus) group would have had copious top-10s. Actually, they only had five in the 1970s, and two of them came out too late for that hits LP. Can't Get It Out Of My Head is one of my favourites, although the vocal can be a bit irritating; Evil Woman is rousing, although the distorted drum sound is a bit irritating; Telephone Line is very nice, although singer and producer Jeff Lynne's pronunciation of telephone as "tellyphone" is a bit irritating. The Beatles influence was gradually lessened on Shine a Little Love and Don't Bring Me Down, the latter of which has the lyric "Groos," (for 41 years, I've heard it as B-r-r-uce, but a reader has corrected me) which is, yes, a bit irritating. What is also irritating is that such worthy songs as Strange Magic, Livin' Thing, Turn to Stone, and Sweet Talkin' Woman (all of them on that aforementioned greatest hits LP) didn't hit the top-10, as didn't my current favourite of their '70s song, the propulsive Last Train To London. ELO briefly displayed their Beatle influences again on their great songs for the bomb movie, Xanadu, but that's for an '80s list.

Next time: Yvonne Elliman and others.

(2) comments

ChronoMatt

After reading your comments about ELO, it’s evident that you are easily annoyed.

Pam VA

You give Electric Light Orchestra short shrift. Despite their lack of number ones, they had twenty singles in the American top 40, actually a record without ever having a number one.

"Telly-phone" is a Birmingham accent. Where are you from?

Finally, it's Groos, not Bruce. When audiences heard "Don't Bring Me Down," they misunderstood Groos for Bruce too. The album lyrics say Groos. Go ahead and be irritated by something you're wrong about.

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