Only Rock n Roll 19751979 #1 Radio Hits
1995: OPCD-1686 JCI JCD-3150
The Average White Band
The Doobie Brothers
Blue Öyster Cult
England Dan & John Ford Coley
The Bellamy Brothers
KC & The Sunshine Band
The Staple Singers
I have a small bunch of best-of-70s-radio-hits CDs in my collection, and this ones a good opportunity for me to explain why that is.
There are two reasons, and the first is simple nostalgia: these are the songs I heard playing on the radio when I was a pre-teen, for the most part they evoke memories of specific places and settings, and I find it interesting to revisit that territory sometimes, even if (and perhaps because) most of my pre-pubescent life is a distant blur to me now.
The second is similar but deeper: I sometimes like to travel through my memories backstreets and watch, as an outsider or time-traveller, what I heard then in the context of what Ive heard and learned since those days. To recognize the music that I noticed at the time is an interesting experience: some of its crap (most, actually), but there are certain recordings that struck me at the time even though I didnt know I was struck by them, I just took them for granted but enjoyed them in particular. When I ponder those latter songs now, Im fascinated by both them and my then self, but mostly by the music.
Linda Ronstadts cover of Youre No Good is an excellent example. It was a radio hit because of its performer and its rock strength, but structurally it went about a minute beyond radio-hit territory and in its extended outro it left the realm of rock and strode enigmatically into the shadowland of doubt, a psychological darkness without resolution. I think this was probably what Helen Reddy was trying to do with the end of Angie Baby, but that track ended with too handy a pop-hook fadeout; Youre No Good, however, continues the drama of uncertainty and betrayal onto the threshhold of darker depths and leaves the listener profoundly unsettled and introspective. I love it.
On top of all that, Youre No Good is gorgeous, production-wise: the vocal harmonies are tragic-angelic, the throb of the wah-wah effects adds to the brooding tone, and of course theres Ronstadts singularly fine delivery of the songs lyrics and melody, ranging from contrite near-mumble to raging wail. I especially love the dark, thoughtful permutations of the electric piano in the outro, as the darkness of doubt and restless self-analysis climaxes and redoubles through to the end with nuances of regret conveyed by the murmured string lines .
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.