Joel Goldenberg: The 1970s top-10 hits review part 25

The Jacksons performing their 1976 hit Enjoy Yourself.

We now resume our alphabetical survey of the U.S. top-10 hits of the 1970s, our last for 2020:

• Hot Chocolate - Emma, You Sexy Thing, Every 1's A Winner: One of the best British groups of the 1970s,  danceable edgy soul with a sinewy guitar sound — Emma was a portrait of a woman who doesn't achieve her ambitions and takes her own life.

• Thelma Houston- Don't Leave Me This Way: In my mind, the best disco song of all time, consistently exciting and propulsive.

• Hues Corporation-Rock the Boat: Pleasing sort-of early disco, a definite earworm.

• Engelbert Humperdinck - After the Lovin': Unlike most critics, I really like many of Engelbert's immaculately recorded and performed 1960s hits, especially Winter World of Love — his one 1970s hit is very, very 1970s, I can visualize the open neck men's shirts, gold chains and roaring fireplace at the ski lodge.

• Brian Hyland- Gypsy Woman: No (posthumous) offence, Curtis Mayfield, but I prefer this nicely atmospheric Del Shannon-produced (and only mono-mixed) version to your fine original by the Impressions.

And now the I list.

• Janis Ian-At Seventeen: This song about alienation is so gorgeously sung that Janis Ian should have had many more hits in the 1970s and beyond.

• Ides of March- Vehicle: A 1970 hit that I first heard as a bumper for radio shows — seems to me a bit like a faster Blood, Sweat and Tears with a similarly gruff vocalist.

• Luther Ingram- If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right): A superb 1972 hit (mostly available only in mono, strangely) about infidelity, but I prefer the lushly produced and more dramatic Millie Jackson 1974 version.

• The Isley Brothers - That Lady, Fight the Power: The former is a joyous rhythm and blues raver, and the latter is a defiant song and one of the first big hits to have a profanity (BS in its full wording) — it's a precursor to politically-oriented rap.

And now the J list:

• Terry Jacks-Seasons in the Sun: Very wispy where the original was sarcastic — Jacks actually produced an (inferior) version with the Beach Boys with more of the original French lyrics — this will probably be released on the upcoming Feel Flows Beach boys box set

• Jermaine Jackson- Daddy's Home: I like the doo-wop original better, much better.

• Michael Jackson- Got To Be There, Rockin' Robin, Ben, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Rock with You: The first of these hits was probably his best of the decade with his child's voice, the second is a lively revival of the Bobby Day original, the third is very polarizing, with many hating the ode to a rat, and the latter two are rhythmic masterpieces from what I think remains Michael's best solo album — Off the Wall.

• The Jackson 5-I Want You Back (which hit at the tail end of 1969 but which I'm counting as a 1970 hit), ABC, The Love You Save, I'll Be There, Mama's Pearl, Never Can Say Goodbye, Sugar Daddy, Dancing Machine: Unbelievably, the group had seven top 10s in a two-year period, and the latter was an early disco fluke at a time when the hits were drying up for the group, but then...

• The Jacksons: ... the group moved from Motown Records (Jermaine remained for a while) to Epic, and progressed to masterful, mature disco-tinged rhythm and blues hits like Enjoy Yourself and Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground), as well as Show You The Way To Go (#28).

• The Jaggerz-The Rapper: Fun and funky, and apprently the group name has no connection to Mick Jagger, and was named after a "jagger bush," another term for a thorny bush.

• Tommy James-Draggin' the Line: Quite a groove.

• Jefferson Starship-Miracles, Count On Me: Very pleasant pop, a little like Fleetwood Mac when Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham joined. (A few entries back, I mentioned that the Isley Brothers' Fight the Power was one of the first hits to feature a profanity — the full version of Miracles has an even more explicit lyric that did not make it to the single edit, understandably.)

Next time: Jigsaw and others.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.