We now resume our look at the top-10 hits of the 1970s, with artists and groups beginning with the letters K and L.
Carole King- It's Too Late/I Feel the Earth Move, Sweet Seasons, Jazzman, Nightingale: When I first heard Adele and her intimate ruminations on life and relationships, my first thought was "this is Carole King Jr," but the original, particularly her Tapestry album (50 years old this year) is the best.
Evelyn "Champagne" King- Shame: Two thoughts, King's hit song is giddy disco fun and recorded when she was only 17, and her "middle nickname" (apparently originally Bubbles) was perfect for the disco cuture of the late 1970s.
The Kinks- Lola: This fun hit, maybe (or maybe not) about a transvestite, was a welcome success in 1970, but the American public should have also bestowed hit status on numerous wonderful Kinks songs from 1966 to 1969, and wonderful albums like Face to Face, Something Else, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur.
Kiss- Beth, I Was Made For Lovin' You: Okay, I'm cheating here as I Was Made For Lovin' You only hit #11 in the U.S., but it was #1 on the Canadian RPM chart and a top-10 in several European countries. And I'm tired of hearing that the ballad Beth (co-written by drummer Peter Criss) and the disco-rock— in my opinion, it's more rock than disco) I Was Made For Lovin' You (co-written by lead singer Paul Stanley) are not "real" Kiss songs. As much as Kiss themselves would hate to admit, they are three-dimensional music-wise, not just sex-oriented hard rock. And both are great, timeless songs no matter the genre.
The Knack- My Sharona: Beatle-influenced power pop was a huge genre in the 1970s, and this was its biggest hit. Yes, the lyrics are sleazy, but it's timelessly catchy.
Gladys Knight and the Pips — If I Were Your Woman, Neither One of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye), Midnight Train to Georgia, I've Got To Use My Imagination, Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me, On and On: I love Knight's punchy, yearning voice. Her success in the 1960s and 1970s was completely warranted — however, 1960s wise, I prefer the Ad Libs' version of Giving Up to Knight's original; and 1970s wise, the #11 live medley of The Way We Were/Try to Remember is a little too Vegas sounding.
Jean Knight- Mr. Big Stuff: When I play music outdoors on portable speakers, this tight, funky Stax label song gets the best response.
Kool and the Gang — Jungle Boogie, Hollywood Swinging, Ladies Night: The first two top-10s are from when this group was a great funk-party band, the latter (a work of genius) is from when the group was a great disco-party band.
And now the L list:
Labelle-Lady Marmalade: Tight, funky and spicy.
Nicolette Larson- Lotta Love: It surprised me that critics didn't like her work — maybe they didn't like a Neil Young song transformed into slick "yacht rock," but this 1978 hit has always been a favourite of mine, with just a hint of guilty pleasure.
Vicki Lawrence- The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia: A poppy story song, but it has a lot of holes regarding the overly quick execution of a person wrongly accused of murder. Did this song take place in the present day (1973) or decades earlier?
Next time: Led Zeppelin and others.