Joel Goldenberg: The 1970s top-10 hits review part 3

The Bay City Rollers perform Saturday Night on the Top Pop TV show.

Here is the next installment of Retro Roundup's evaluation of the top-10 hits of the Billboard U.S. charts from the 1970s, from artists and groups beginning with the letter B.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive: For me, a list of the three best Canadian rock groups of all time has to include the Guess Who, Stampeders and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, led by former Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman, for timeless songs. While my favourite BTO song is the swinging and oh-so-tightly played Let It Ride, their one top-10 hit (also #1) You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet is a worthy entry, for its musical tension and a bit of a musical cop from The Who's Baba O'Riley.

Bad Company: This British group emanated partially from the group Free, which included vocalist Paul Rodgers. I always felt this group had a bit of a "cold" sound, but the vocal prowess of Rodgers and the riffs in their songs are undeniable, as introduced on their first top-10 hit Can't Get Enough. But my favourite song of theirs is the second top-10 hit, Feel Like Makin' Love, which displays all the best qualities of the group's vocal and riffing power. Anyone who doesn't attempt air guitar to the chorus has to be asleep.

Badfinger: This group should have hit it bigger, what with their Beatle connections via the Apple label and production involvement on their songs by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, but bad management led to commercial decline and the suicide of two of their members. Their three top-10 hits were Beatle-inspired and magnificent. Come And Get It, written and produced by McCartney, was the most simple and direct; No Matter What was glorious harder rock; and the transcendent Day After Day was so good that Joe Jackson was "inspired" by the intro for his own hit Breaking Us In Two. But my favourite hit, Baby Blue (U.S. single mix with more reverb on the opening drums) is, to me, the perfect Badfinger song — great hooks, harmonies and a guitar solo that sounds spontaneous. Unfortunately, it only hit #14.

Joan Baez: Her one top-10 hit, a version of The Band's The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, was nice enough; but she should have had a bigger hit with her intense ode to Bob Dylan, Diamonds and Rust, which she wrote herself. That only reached #35.

The Bay City Rollers: This Scottish group, which for a brief moment hit Beatles-popularity proportions, had three top-10 hits, Saturday Night, Money Honey and You Made Me Believe in Magic. The first of these is fairly enduring, but the group, to me, was the equivalent of cotton candy, nice taste but no substance.

The Beach Boys: This group had a plethora of top-10 hits in the 1960s, but following the collapse of the sessions for the long-unreleased Smile album and the gradual withdrawal of producer Brian Wilson from group activity, their commercial success dipped, although the songs and albums were still great. Then, following the #1 success of the Endless Summer 1960s compilation in 1974, Brian was brought back out to produce again, and the first result was the 15 Big Ones album (1976), which polarizes Beach Boys fans. Some see it as a return to fun music, while others hate Brian's hoarse vocals, the rough production and the presence of many cover versions. I like the album for the most part, and it did produce the group's lone 1970s top-10 hit, their synth-based cover of Chuck Berry's Rock and Roll Music. Just as with the album, some fans hate this song with a passion, but it remained in the group's setlist for decades. There are three mixes of the song — the LP version that is most commonly known, the 45 version that has less synth and sounds drier, and my favourite, the remix on the Made in California box set. That latter version sounds hotter, is longer, and has an excellent Brian Wilson (some say it's his then-wife Marilyn) falsetto backing part that was inexplicably either removed or mixed way down.

Next time: The Beatles and others.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
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.