We now resume our look at the U.S. top-10 hits of the 1970s, with artists and groups beginning with the letter R.
Gerry Rafferty- Baker Street: Sax solos in the middle of songs are one the many things I hate about 1980s hits, including those by my favourite group the Beach Boys; as well as the solo on the intro of John Lennon's Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, which sounds like a precursor to the most well known version of the Saturday Night Live theme. But this song, and its sax solo, are sleek, top-notch and an example of greatness at a time (1978) when the quality of pop hits was just starting to improve after a couple of years of decline. Still, I listen more to Rafferty's #12 hit Right Down the Line.
Rare Earth — Get Ready, (I Know) I'm Losing You, I Just Want To Celebrate: The critics didn't like this white Motown band too much, but their bar band takes on the first two Temptations songs are good fun, and the latter is a great rock number. Many years ago, I met the Funk Brothers (the surviving '60s Motown session guys) at a Westmount wedding, and playing with them was Ray Monette, a session player for Motown and the great Hot Wax/Invictus labels, who also joined Rare Earth in 1971, in time for I Just Want To Celebrate. Thus, he was "qualified" to sign my Hitsville USA box set, which covered Motown hits from 1960 to 1971 and has that song.
The Raspberries — Go All The Way: This wonderful group, which combined the best elements of the Beatles, Beach Boys and the Who with exuberant vocals by Eric Carmen, should have had many more hits. This song just leaps out of the speakers from start to finish and is an enduring classic.
Lou Rawls — You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine: Another one of those instances in which an artist has several hits in the 1960s and early 1970s, hits a dry patch, and then charges back with more hits by adapting his/her song to the times. In this case, Rawls, with his most distinctive of smoky vocals, merged his talents with that of the oh-so-hot at the time Gamble-Huff lush Philadelphia Sound.
Redbone - Come and Get Your Love: Oh, that opening bass and drum combination, and then that sitar-like guitar... one of the best musical intros of the 1970s, and the whole song is great as well.
Helen Reddy- I Am Woman, Delta Dawn, Leave Me Alone, You and Me Against the World, Angie Baby, Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady: Of these, I Am Woman has aged the best, not only for its empowerment message (much in vogue today) but because of its punchy chorus and great horn stabs. As for the rest, I far prefer her obscure 1960s single One Way Ticket, which is also punchy and has great horn parts. I wish the sound was better and in stereo, though. The song was first done by Gloria Loring and also covered by Cass Elliott of the Mamas and the Papas. Reddy apparently claimed her version only sold six copies in the U.S., all bought by her mother-in-law. I first heard it, in fake stereo, on a K-Tel album.
Jerry Reed- Amos Moses, When You're Hot, You're Hot: Reed is most famous for the fact Elvis Presley recorded his Guitar Man and U.S. Male, but he also had a distinctive guitar style (which is why Reed played on Elvis's version of Guitar Man — he also inspired the singer to swear a lot more, all in good fun, during recording sessions) and had a wild good ol' boy persona, which dominate his two fun hits. I have to be in a mood to listen to them, though.
Reunion - Life Is A Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me): One of the most enjoyable novelty hits of the 1970s, sung at top speed, probably getting the most words in for the length of a song ever, and name checking loads of artists and record labels while Motown music (the Four Tops' Baby I Need Your Loving) and Sly and the Family Stone vocals (I Want To Take You Higher) play in the background at the same time. A happier history of rock than Don McLean's American Pie.
Next time: Paul Revere and the Raiders and many others.