Now we resume our look at the top 10 American hits of the 1970s, now with artists and bands starting with the letter T.
BJ Thomas – Can’t help believing, (Hey, won’t you play) Another song hurt someone – I was saddened to learn that Thomas, one of the best singers of the rock era, had recently passed away from a battle with cancer. His many hits were kind and memorable, and in the case of the first hit listed here, picked up by Elvis Presley live in 1970. In fact, one of Thomas’ lower ranked hits (# 45) It’s only love, was also covered by Elvis and is my favorite of all Presley songs. Of course, Thomas is best known for his hits from the late 1960s. Raindrops keep falling on my head, Addicted to a feeling and Eyes of a New York woman, but his hit production from the 1970s is just as solid. Damn, he even mentions Montreal in his hit Mostly.
Timmy Thomas- Why can’t we live together: sad, disturbing and only in mono. The latter is due to the fact that the hit recording was a demo recording that was not originally intended to be released to the public.
The three degrees – TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia), When will I see you again. Philadelphia Sound’s hottest girl group created by the production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The first hit listed here is primarily an instrumental by the MFSB group with backing vocals from the Three Degrees, and is so memorable that it was used as the theme for the TV show. Soul train; and the second hit is probably the sweetest song to emerge from Philadelphia Sound, and also beautifully lush.
Night of the three dogs – Mom told me not to come, Joy to the World, Liar, An old fashioned love song, Never been to Spain, Black and white, Shambala, The show must go on: Probably the most successful singles group of the 1970s, providing a touching and very commercial sound to songs by some of the best songwriters of the time, and some previously obscure singles and album tracks. And I’m always struck by the fact that one of my favorite songs, Shambala from mid-1973, is still officially only available in mono and fake stereo. Maybe the folks at Eric Records, who have released some wonderful mono-stereo convert CD compilations, can take a shot at this song.
Toto – Stay on the line: Of course, this group of super knowledgeable session musicians are best known for their memorable pop Rosanna and Africa from ’82, but Stay on the line is a real rock classic on the guitar and must be listened to.
John Travolta – Let her in, you’re the one I want, on summer nights: The first of those hits was a prime example of the decline in the quality of the Top 10 songs in the late 1970s. Wimpy, and totally at odds with Travolta’s tough Vinnie Barbarino character on the TV show Welcome to Kotter, which you think would like to start a rockabilly revival. On the flip side, the other two hits were previously mentioned and are memorable and exciting duets with co-star Olivia Newton-John from the big movie musical. Fat.
T. Rex-Bang A Gong (Go ahead): Without a doubt, except something by David Bowie, one of the best songs of the glam-rock era, with a nervous and catchy sound.
Andrea True Connection-More more more: Yes, the voice is from a former adult entertainment star of the day, and her voice isn’t that distinctive. But the musical accompaniment of this disco classic, especially the percussive sounds, is pure genius. An extended version of the extraordinary remixer Tom Moulton is also excellent.
Ike and Tina Turner- Proud mary. A version of the Creedence classic that almost surpasses the original, but that has to be seen, not just heard, due to the lively dancing that ensues as the song shifts from an ultra-slow song at explosive speed.
Bonnie Tyler – It’s a heartbreak: A decent song, released during the era of dip-in-top-10 quality, which is best known for Tyler’s vocal resemblance here to Rod Stewart. But its best moment was the guilty success of the 80s, the guilty pleasure of producing on the big screen, massively memorable. Total eclipse of the heart.
Next time: Artists and groups that start with the letters U (there is only one) and V.