Joel Goldenberg: The 1970s top-10 hits review Part 40

Neil Sedaka performing Laughter in the Rain.

We now resume our look at the U.S. top-10 hits of the 1970s, with artists and groups beginning with the letter S.

The Sanford/Townsend Band-Smoke From A Distant Fire: Just alright slick yacht rock, from a year of many inferior top-10s (1977).

Samantha Sang-Emotion: Great song and one of the better hits of 1977, but it's pretty much dominated by backing vocalist Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, a group that is experiencing a revival of interest thank to a recent, poignant HBO documentary.

Santana - Black Magic Woman: Most people don't know that this was originally a Fleetwood Mac song (way before Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham joined), from their blues period. This one's better known because of its psychedelic atmosphere and its presence on one of the best known albums of all time, Abraxas. I was surprised to see that the even better known Santana song Oye Como Va only hit #13.

Leo Sayer- Long Tall Glasses, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, When I Need You: A pop genius with one of those 1970s afros and a mix of pop glam and just plain memorable songs.

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown: Supreme yacht rock with unique (not to all tastes) vocalizing.

Seals and Crofts - Summer Breeze, Diamond Girl, Get Closer: Pioneering yacht rock with vocals reminiscent of the lead vocalist of the group the Classics IV. One of my most memorable concert experiences was seeing the Isley Brothers at the Beacon Theatre in New York City performing a version of Summer Breeze with an awe inspiring guitar solo by Ernie Isley. It was my version of seeing Jimi Hendrix in 1967.

John Sebastian- Welcome Back: I was never wild about TV themes (this one for Welcome Back Kotter) becoming big hits. This is pretty good, but I far prefer Sebastian's work with the Lovin' Spoonful.

Neil Sedaka - Laughter in the Rain, Bad Blood, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: One of the biggest comeback stories in pop history. Sedaka was part of the Brill Building group of writers in New York, putting out of-their-time pure teeny pop songs in the early 1960s, including Calendar Girl, the great below-the-surface defiant Breaking Up Is Hard To Do and many others. Then, except for a few songs for the Monkees and others, he was all but hitless in the rock-dominated late 1960s. Sedaka clawed his way back with wonderfully chewy (production-wise) and mature pop. Laughter in the Rain is like a ray of sunshine, Bad Blood (notwithstanding the cutting lyrics) features Elton John and was one of my favourite songs of 1975, and Breaking Up Is Hard To Do is slowed down and effectively mournful. These days, Sedaka does daily mini-concerts from his home, which can be seen on Twitter and YouTube.

Bob Seger - Night Moves, Still the Same: Both are great heartland-type songs, but the fact the emotionally devastating We've Got Tonight only hit #13 is a travesty.

Shalamar - The Second Time Around: Exuberantly sung and sweet in a great way. The disco sound effects don't do the song any harm whatsoever.

Bobby Sherman- Easy Come, Easy Go; Julie Do Ya Love Me: Nice, bouncy, horn-fed production, and very poppy. Also a guilty pleasure.

Silver Convention- Fly, Robin, Fly; Get Up and Boogie: Somewhat robotic but quite effective disco from Germany.

Carly Simon- That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be, You're So Vain, Mockingbird (with James Taylor), Nobody Does It Better, You Belong To Me: The musical equivalent of cinematic romantic dramas (and some comedies). I like the first hit the most for how the music and vocals slink in slowly and dramatically.

Next time: Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel and others.

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