We now continue our look at the U.S. top-10 hits of the 1970s, with artists and groups beginning with the letter M. But first, a recommendation regarding retro TV.
Sherwood Schwartz is best known as the creator of two very successful TV shows, the farcical Gilligan's Island and the family values-oriented Brady Bunch, both unloved by the critics but absolutely adored by the public. The public adoration is indicated by both shows' popularity in syndication— the post-Gilligan's Island shows (two animated series, and three reunion movies) and post-Brady Bunch productions (the disastrous Brady Bunch Variety Hour which had no involvement by Schwartz, the successful reunion specials, the unsuccessful attempts at new series, two very funny big-screen movies with new casts and tongue-in-cheek and risqué material, another made-for-TV movie, a musical streamed in 2020 and a TV movie about the show, amongst other productions).
Schwartz, who passed away at the age of 94 in 2011, wrote two revelatory and delightful books about his experiences with both shows. His Inside Gilligan's Island book makes you wonder how his sanity survived the behind the scenes machinations at CBS to destroy the show and/or dislodge Sherwood from his producer position. His Brady Brady Brady book is especially notable for the behind-the-scenes battles with Robert Reed, who played Mike Brady. Reed's overall discontent extended to desiring realism in the scripts, to the extent that he would consult tomes to confirm whether strawberries had any odour while being cooked, because he was supposed to utter the line "it smells like strawberry heaven in here.")
Both books, while showing how the TV sausage is made in excruciating detail, are also filled with wonderful examples of Schwartz's gentle, wry sense of humour, even while describing nervewracking situations. You can especially detect he had a wonderful marriage with a wife who shared that sense of humour.
I especially recommend the series of interviews, all available on YouTube, of Schwartz's interviews with the Archive of American Television, where you can hear and see his wry humour and listen to these entertaining stories.
And now back to the M list:
• Joni Mitchell — Help Me: Mitchell, born in Alberta, is rightly recognized as one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, and her Blue album is especially highly acclaimed. Her one top-10, Help Me, is one of her most commercial-sounding songs, as is the other fair-sized hit from the Court and Spark album, Free Man in Paris, written about record label executive David Geffen. I'm surprised the latter song only hit #22 on the charts.
Mocedades — Eres Tu (Touch the Wind): I heard this 1974 Spanish-language hit in the day, and always found it wonderfuly kitschy. But the way the vocalist sings "wooowoowoo" always irritated me, as if there wasn't enough effort in really nailing the take. The same thing irritates about Sonny and Cher's otherwise great version of the song Leave Me Be — the concluding "whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa" by both of them sounds lackluster.
The Moments- Love On a Two Way Street: The kind of early 1970s soul that I really like, but at least initially, the mixes of this song on LPs and CDs were really wonky.
The Moody Blues- Nights in White Satin: A wonderful, stirring symphonic hit, and unique in that a song originally released in 1967 (when it only hit #103) became a big hit in 1972 (when it hit #2).
Dorothy Moore - Misty Blue: I loved this song in the day — at the time, I had no idea it was a country standard of sorts. Moore transformed this song into one of the last songs in the "deep soul" genre to magnificent effect.
Van Morrison- Domino: A rousing hit and a deserved top-10, although the title track of his Moondance album is more popular amongst people I know. Of course, Van has been in the news these days, along with Eric Clapton, for releasing an anti-COVID lockdown song.
Mouth & MacNeal- How Do You Do: A very frothy early 1970s hit with a cartoonish male lead and a very flower-childish female lead, both Dutch but singing in English. Their TV performances, on YouTube, have to be seen to be believed — one of them, because of the woman's choice of wardrobe, is not exactly suitable for children.