Posted in 1970's Albums

The Delfonics – The Delfonics (1970)

Bell Records SBLL 137

Soul music is a big part of my record collection, and lately when visiting vinyl fares I’ve picked up quite a few classic singles and albums including many purchases just based on a name or record label. Bell Records in the early 1970’s housed some of the best exponents of soul vocal harmony groups, many from the USA who did made a breakthrough into the UK.

This album typifies what I mean.

I bought this in 2016 for £4 at a vinyl fare at Wolverhampton based on it had a classic hit single, I knew the name of the group, and it was on Bell Records. Although it didn’t chart in the UK (US #61 Hot 100, #4 R&B Chart) it was recorded late 1969 early 1970 and this eponymous named album was released in the UK whilst they were signed to Philly Groove label in the USA.

Formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1965 and originally known as the Four Gents, the Delfonics classic lineup featured:  William Hart (born January 17, 1945, Washington, D.C.), Wilbert Hart (born October 19, 1947, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Randy Cain (born Herbert Randal Cain III May 2, 1945, Philadelphia; died April 9, 2009, Maple Shade Township, New Jersey).

Side 1

Side 1 starts with the classic single release “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), a UK #22 and US #10 hit, winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. Produced by Thom Bell it has a familiar sound like other contemporary groups such as The Chi-Lites, Drifters, Stylistics and Detroit Spinners. “Funny Feeling” is a more funky feeling almost Motown/Northern Soul sound with high lead falsetto vocals and harmonies. “When You Get Right Down To It” slows the tempo down and could be mistaken for a Sytlistics track, there is the full orchestra of strings and brass. Written by Barry Mann who was a part of the successful songwriting partnership with his wife, Cynthia Weil. Some of his classics include “You’ve lost That loving Feeling” and also “Saturday Night At The Movies” for the Drifters. “Baby I Love You” takes us back to the style of “Didn’t I” but each line of the verses delivered in a staccato style. Side 1 finishes with a fantastic mainly Instrumental track called “Delfonics Theme (How Could You)”. On first listen you could feel its crying out for lyrics, but actually this has everything, Drums, Strings, Brass, Organ, and the orchestra takes you on a journey and right at the end the Delfonics suddenly add a small vocal to fade out.

Side 2

Side 2 starts with “Trying To Make A Fool Of Me” Very uptempo and has a more soul/pop feel but still has the classic falsetto vocals, and lead seems to switch between all group members. “Down Is Up, Up is Down”, is a classic Northern Soul sound and I can see everyone up on the dance floor for this one. “Over and Over” is an attempt at a ballad and well executed. “Think About Me” has a more pop sound. “I Gave To You” finishes the album. Almost 6 minutes of pure vocal gymnastics. A last dance song. The album as a whole is worth my risk of choosing on the basis of one track.

Back of sleeve

 

 

The writing credits are mainly Thom Bell and vocalist William Hart, who on two tracks is the sole writer and of course the one Barry Mann track.

The Delfonics line up began to change as of 1971 when Randy Cain left and set up the group Blue Magic much in the same vain as the Stylistics. By 1975 because of various changes including Thom Bell moving to produce other artists the hits seemed to dry up and there were two versions of the Delfonics at the same time.

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Posted in 1970's Albums

Parallel Lines – Blondie (1978)

m7428o
Chrysalis Records CDL  1192

This album has been played many times.

I never get tired listening to any of the tracks. Without doubt in my top five records of all time. A mixture of punk elements, rock, pop and their first move into a synth disco song. 12 tracks produced solely by Australian Mike Chapman, known as a writer and producer with Nicky Chinn and at the forefront of British pop with a distinctive sound called Chinnichap in the 1970’s. 

This was Blondie‘s third album release and from gigging in the punk clubs of New York, 1978 saw them with 2 top ten singles and a top ten album in the UK and when Parallel Lines hit the shops,

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Side A – Singles included Picture This and Hanging on the Telephone.

it took them on an almighty global pop experience. The album opens with what was the albums 2nd single release “Hanging on the telephone” which peaked at #5 on a 12 week run on the UK single chart, and top 20 in 3 European territories. “One Way Or Another” written by Debbie Harry and Nigel Harrison, rasps it way along as if in a hurry. Track 3, which was the lead single from the album is “Picture This” a piece of rock / pop about what appears to be lost love which reached #12 for an 11 week run on the UK chart. It also made the top 20 in Ireland and Sweden. “Fade Away And Radiate” is one of my favourite tracks. It’s a slower rock ballad, with a reggae beat ending. Guitar on this was played by Robert Fripp, husband of British Punk Rock singer and actress Toyah Willcox. “Pretty Baby” is an uplifting  pop song, and  includes a spoken word passage by Debbie Harry , with the other band members vocals over the top. Side A finishes with

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Side B – Singles include Sunday Girl and the International #1 best seller Heart of Glass

“I know But I Don’t Know” written by Frank Infante  and sees the use of the bass and drums which are clearly heard.

Side B starts with “11:59” written by Jimmy Destri. The lyrics evoke a dark place and time. “Will Anything Happen” total commercial punk rock at its best. Moving on to “Sunday Girl” written by Chris Stein was the 4th and final single release from the album, a big pop hit across the world reaching #1 in the UK for 3 weeks in a 13 week chart run, at the time a second #1 in a row. I have a 12 inch version with the B-side duplicated by being sung completely in French.

“Heart of Glass” is the track that gave Blondie their first taste of US chart success, ironically with a synth pop song, peaking at #1. It also made number one in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, several European territories and for the first time the UK with 4 weeks at the top in its 15 weeks on the chart. The album version contains the word “ass” in one line when

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Back Cover

part repeating it from earlier in the song, which was edited in the UK single version thus passing the unhappy BBC Radio censors. “I’m Gonna Love You Too”, is a Buddy Holly cover version. “Just Go Away” closes the record another rock/pop song.

The British public took Debbie Harry (Vocals), Chris Stein (Guitars), Nigel Harrison (Bass Guitar), Frank Infante (Guitar), Jimmy Destri (Keyboards) and Clem Burke (Drums) to their hearts.

The album reached #1, was certified platinum and stayed at the top for 4 weeks enjoying an incredible 114 weeks on the UK chart.  In the US Billboard Album chart sales took it to #6. It also hit the top ten in several countries peaking at #2 in Australia.

The album was recorded in New York and mixed in Kentucky, and the cover art attributed to Edo. As of 2008 sales worldwide have reached 20 million copies and recently I saw a brand new vinyl pressing on sale in my home town.

Posted in 1970's Albums

Waterloo – ABBA (1974)

Epic Records EPC 80179

Every year Europe is brought together by music in the form of the Eurovision Song Contest. On May 23rd 2015 the 60th contest will take place in Austria. In 1974 a Swedish group by the name of ABBA appeared in Brighton, England and won with a pop song which after over 40 years is still regarded as one of the contests best songs ever – Waterloo.

The Band members were Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvæus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.

During late 1973 and early 1974 ABBA recorded some songs for their second studio album and considered a couple of these for being put forward for the Swedish heats of the Eurovision Song Contest, finally selecting Waterloo which ultimately won. This album was released around Europe, but really wasn’t successful in the UK limping to #28 with just a 2 week run on the chart. This early album contains some very good work and often overshadowed by their later offerings.

Side 1

Side 1 opens with the classic title track “Waterloo”, 2:46 of pure catchy pop with a Tenorsax provided by Christer Eklund. Vocals by both girls. The next track is somewhat of an oddity “Sitting In The Palmtree” a sort of calypso style has lead vocals by Björn with the girls providing backing vocals but having a spot of their own up to the bridge. Lots of percussion on this including Congas played by Malando Gassama. On the third track “King Kong Song” Björn and Benny attempt some rock pop, lots of growling and screaming but the vocals shared by all. The spanish titled “Hasta Mañana” brings a lighter pop song with acoustic guitars and plenty of strings with Agnetha taking lead with a song all about breaking up but with the possibility of making up. There is a spoken section in the middle. This was considered for the Eurovision Song Contest. Track 5 is a more funky sound. The bass played by Rutger Gunnarsson runs the entire track holding everything together. A song about a young girl wanting to be with “Fred”, but still at home without independence she feels trapped and wanting to go out and make her own way but restricted by what “My Mama Said”. Great percussion work and electric guitar riff throughout. Lot’s going on vocally with Frida’s voice given more prominence. Track 6 is “Dance (While The Music Still Goes On)” opens with a verse by Agnetha, but first chorus is sung by Björn and Benny, then they all sing together a repeat of the chorus. A second verse leading to a repeated chorus with 2 key changes brings the first side to a close. The Bass is played by Per Sahlberg.

Side 2

Side 2 begins with “Honey Honey” one of the few songs written by Björn and Benny and their manager Stig Anderson to be a hit single without ABBA’s name being on the label. “Honey Honey” was a big European hit for Sweet Dreams where it reached #10 in the UK. Abba’s version is a harmonised piece of pop with Frida and Agnetha taking lead and backing responsibilities, with a spot for Björn and Benny. A nice string arrangement by S.O.Walldoff. Track 2 is my featured video. “Watch Out” is straight out rock. This was the B Side for the single Waterloo, probably the most un Abba song of all time, but one of my favourites because it has a live performance feel about it. Track 3 is pure pop again. Both girls contributing with the vocals. “What About Livingstone” is about trail blazers, an unusual subject, but bubble gum pop at its best. Which brings us to one of the finest ABBA ballads ever. “Gonna Sing You My Lovesong”. Frida takes the lead on this one, the girls harmonise the chorus. The ebbs and flow of this song gets you caught in the story of a what appears to be a man confiding in a woman who in turn then responds by wanting to tell him she could probably offer more than the woman he is agonising about. The fifth song is an unusual one as it’s lead by Benny. Almost Beach Boys in sound (Benny was influenced by them) it is a story about a young boy aged ten being pestered by a similar aged girl. His message was to say “look for a friend of your own” – “Suzy Hang Around”. The album closes with another Eurovision Song Contest entry. In 1973 ABBA attempted to win the Swedish national contest but came third with a Swedish language version of “Ring Ring”.  In 1974 the rules changed to allow an artist to sing in English if they so wished. Today 85% of countries sing in English. Here it is included in English with the lyrics by Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody. Very “Waterloo” in style, and as the title says – give me a call – so – Ring Ring.

Back cover of album with all credits of musicians and writers.

My pressing is probably from early 1977 as it is on the then new “Orange” logo label. All songs were written by Ulvæus and Andersson except Waterloo, Hasta Mañana, Honey Honey and Ring Ring which have an additional writing credit to Stig Anderson. Drums played by Ola Brunkert, Guitars by Janne Schaffer and all held together by the engineering skills of Michael B. Tretow.

At the time Agnetha also had a solo career contract with Cupol Records a swedish part of CBS, and there is a footnote on the cover that reads “Anna by courtesy of CBS-Cupol AB.

The group name on the front cover also has Björn, Benny, Anna, Frida in brackets.

Posted in 1970's Albums

Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield (1973)

BTFRONT
Virgin Records V2001

This is probably the album that got me really interested in music. I know it was a Christmas present because I remember pestering my Mother for it. This isn’t a pressing from its release date in 1973, but I’d say its no later than 1975. After school I attended a couple of the clubs the teachers ran for something to do. Drama was one, and I ended up in a couple of school plays. Another night we were introduced to records. This album had me right from the beginning. It was so different from all the types of music in the singles charts at the time, and I also felt I was learning about instruments from it. It was later on that I discovered what an icon of a record it actually is.

Mike Oldfield was born in Reading, Berkshire, England in 1953. This is his debut album which was recorded when he was 19. It was issued on the brand new “Virgin Records” label launched by Richard Branson.

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Side One

Side One opens with a piano section which was featured in the motion picture “The Exorcist”. The music becomes more edgy with electric guitars, organ and then moves to a variation theme. Towards the end of the first side, a master of ceremonies, Viv Stansall, starts to read off the list of instruments. A choral section ends the movement. This includes vocals by Mike Oldfield’s sister Sally Oldfield and Mundy Ellis. I have made a video featuring the ending of side one.

Instruments included are: Grand Piano, Glokenspiel, Farfisa Organ, Bass, Speed, Fuzz, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Taped motor drive amplifier organ chord, Mandolin, Assorted percussion, Flageolet, Honky Tonk, Lowrey Organ and Tubular Bells.

Pentax Digital Camera
Side Two

Side Two carries on from side 1, during the middle it becomes more rock and edgy, then bagpipe sounds enter. The piece then builds and moves into unusual sounds described as Piltdown Man section. It then moves in to a quieter section. The album ends where the composition merges into “Sailor’s Hornpipe” (Trad.) and begins with a mandolin playing at a moderately slow tempo, but quickly mutates into a gradually accented piece with multiple instruments ending with two loud, accented notes.

Instruments included are: Electric, Bass, Acoustic, Speed and Spanish Guitars, Farfisa, Hammond and Lowrey Organs, Piano, Concert Tympani, Guitar sounding like bagpipes, and chorus featuring Sally Oldfield and Mundy Ellis.

On the back sleeve is the following statement “This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment, please hand it into the nearest Police station.”

This album is said to have sold between 15 and 17 million, 2.65 million of these in the UK, 700,000 in Australia, and 500,000 in the US. Tubular Bells topped the charts in both the UK and Australia and made #2 in The Netherlands. In the UK Tubular Bells has charted for an incredible 278 weeks.

Posted in 1970's Albums

The Kick Inside – Kate Bush (1978)

The_Kick_Inside_UK_cover
EMI Records EMC 3223

Kate Bush burst onto the scene with the #1 single “Wuthering Heights”. Born Catherine Bush in Welling, England in 1958, she quickly became known for her very eclectic vocal style and her “arty” videos. She was just 19 years old when the song that launched her career topped the UK chart and then instantly made her a global artist reaching #1 in Australia, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and top 10 in several European Countries.

Pentax Digital Camera
Side 1

Side 1 begins with the haunting “Moving” her now distinctive vocal meanders all over the upper register. This is followed by “The Saxaphone Song” which of course has a great sax solo performed by Alan Skidmore. “Strange Phenomena” speaks about déjà and synchronicity and “Kite” bounces along with a slight reggae beat. My favorite two tracks finish side one, the delicate and sensitive “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” and the classic “Wuthering Heights” the song depicting the Bronte story of Kathy and Heathcliff.

Pentax Digital Camera
Side 2

Side 2 starts with “James And The Cold Gun” one of the rockier tracks of the album. Next is “Feel It” and the pace slows down, a simple song with piano backing. On “Oh To Be In Love” you can hear the mandolin on this track played by her brother Paddy Bush. With L’Amour Looks Something Like You” the mood slows and changes again and her vocal hits some high notes. “Them Heavy People” is a favourite of mine, a quirky almost slow reggae beat. “Room For The Life” a mid tempo pop song and the title track, a ballad, “The Kick Inside” closes the album.

The Album was produced by Andrew Powell. All the Tracks were written by Kate Bush. It reached #3 in the UK and held out a chart position for 66 weeks and was certified as Platinum. I think she is one of the best British songwriters and musicians who after 35 years is still producing quality pieces of music. At the time of writing tickets have gone on sale for her first concert tour since 1979.

Posted in 1970's Albums

Just A Boy – Leo Sayer (1974)

just a front
Warner Brothers Records BS 2836

Leo Sayer is an English singer songwriter born in Shoreham-by-Sea, ussex in 1948. It is recorded that he was discovered by David Courtney who co-managed him along with British Singer / Actor Adam Faith. Faith had several successful hit singles and 4 albums during the early 1960’s.

just a boy back
The Back Cover

Just A Boy was Sayers second album released 9 months after his duet album Silverbird reached #2 in the UK in early 1974. Sayers style on this record I would describe as very quirky but with a hint of blues and reminds me that when you hear his voice there is a unique quality to it. Only two singles were released from it however most of Sayers singles in his career made the top 10 in the UK. The singles released were One Man Band UK #6 and Long Tall Glasses UK #4 US #9

Pentax Digital Camera
Side 1

Side one opens with “Telepath” where the vocals have a strange rasping vibrato style to it. “Train” opens in a soft ballad style but goes into a pop chorus. “Bells of St Marys” is a piano lead and is my favourite track of side 1. Its laid back soft blues where you can pick out the bass and percussion. This is followed by the single “One Man Band”. The final track is “In My Life” a soulful and bluesy vocal due to organ and electric guitar backing.

Pentax Digital Camera
Side 2

Side two opens with “When I came Home This Morning” where his vocal is both sensitive and powerful. A move to country for the second single off the album “Long Tall Glasses”. This is followed by “Another Time” where his vocal rasps in places. Track 4 is “Solo” again his vocal is stamped all over this. The the album finishes with the title track “Giving It All Away” where the title of the album “Just A Boy” forms part of the lyrics. A fantastic classic track, a ballad with emotion and again piano lead.

All songs were written by Leo Sayer and David Courtney. Production by David Courtney and Adam Faith.

The album made it to #4 in the UK charting for 14 weeks and also was a major hit in the US reaching #16.
My copy is actually the US pressing on Warner Brothers. I bought the album in a bargain bin in “Lewis’” Birmingham. The record shop has long gone, but would say I got it in the very early 1980’s

Posted in 1970's Albums

Ensam – Frida (1975)

frida cover
Polar Records POLS 265

Across Europe in 1975 a new Swedish pop band were placing songs highly on the charts following on from their win at the Eurovision Song Contest 1974. ABBA who have gone on to sell over 350 Million records. One of its members Anni-Frid Lyngstad known as Frida, recorded a Swedish language solo album entitled “Ensam”, its English translation being “Alone”. I purchased a copy on its original Swedish label Polar around the early 80’s just as Abba was winding down. This is a cover’s album featuring many popular or well known songs.

Pentax Digital Camera
Side 1

Side 1 opens with a Swedish version of “Fernando” a track Frida re-recorded in English as part of ABBA which went on to be #1 world wide. This is followed by a version of “Young Girl” a UK #1 single for Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. “Som En Sparv” which translates as “Like a sparrow” is a delicately delivered ballad which from the English lyrics is possibly describing a relationship which was once strong, has come to an end with the departing of the partner. The next track is unusual as the original was a country song recorded by Charlie Rich “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” which was co-written by Billy Sherrill who wrote and produced for Tammy Wynette. Liv Pa Mars? is David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” and is a good version. This side ends with another unusual track “Syrtaki”, a traditional sounding Greek Dance song.

Pentax Digital Camera
Side 2

Side 2 opens with a Swedish version of the Italian hit “Vado Via” by Drupi translated as Aldrig Mej. Frida turns her attention to “10cc” who during this time were very popular. Her choice was a version of “Wall Street Shuffle”. Next is one of my personal favorites “Ett liv I Solen” which is an emotional ballad suiting Frida’s vocal range. Roughly the English translation talks of being in the city, constant rain and noise, yearning of a better life by dreaming of the sun and sea breezes. Next is a classic Beach Boys pop song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. The album closes with a very sensitive version of “Send In The Clowns”.

The album was produced by her then partner and soon to be husband Benny Andersson. There are strong powerful vocals on the rockier tracks and delicate handling of the ballads. Frida Ensam was a huge success in Sweden. The original Swedish version of “Fernando” topped the Svensktoppen radio chart for nine weeks and the album topped the album charts for six weeks and spent a total of 38 weeks in the charts.