Sorry – leg injury put me out of writing commission for a bit, and then work. I’ll try to catch up.
Robin Trower, “Caledonia,” #82, 1/8/77
When I create my Superhits CDs (from which I write these reviews), I’m pretty familiar with about 70 percent of the songs, maybe more. Of the songs I’m not familiar with, there’s usually a reason – they’re generally generic or typical of the era. This one was a happy surprise. I’d heard of Robin Trower before – he started out in the folk/blues band Procol Harum before going out on his own in the early 1970s, at which point he turned to more of a pure blues sound – but most American stations weren’t playing his music in the late 1970s, not even AOR. This is an outstanding piece of blues, somewhat derivative of Jimi Hendrix, but less heavy and more British. (I’m not sure why I think it’s more British – maybe they took a break for tea and crumpets while recording – but just go with me on this.) Trower doesn’t sing (bass player James Dewan has the honors), but it’s a unique sound for a power trio. This was Trower’s only American chart hit, although he did rack up four gold albums, including the parent record for this song, Long Misty Days. Trower is still recording (his latest album, Where Are You Going To, came out last year), and he toured the United States earlier this year. (Unfortunately, I found out the day I wrote this his Chicago appearance had been the night before.)
David LaFlamme, “White Bird,” #89, 1/8/77
On the other hand. David LaFlamme was one of the founders of the 1960s-era hippie band It’s a Beautiful Day, whom I only knew because their final bassist, Bud Cockrell, became the first of several bass players for Pablo Cruise (a band very much unlike It’s a Beautiful Day). Anyway, they broke up around 1974, and LaFlamme went on his own, remaking the band’s “White Bird,” which was one of their signature songs. He’s performed under this name, the It’s a Beautiful Day band name for reunions, and his given name, Gary Posie (he’s also been a symphony orchestra violinist) since then.
Bumble Bee Unlimited, “Love Bug,” #92, 1/8/77
Gimmicky disco was typical of this era (after Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” hit #1, the genre slowly ambled downhill until Saturday Night Fever revived it), and this was no exception. The band appears to have been five men and one woman, and this was their one and only American chart hit – although I found an article claiming “Lady Bug” (yes, it was one of those bands with little but cutesy plays on their name) was a classic release from the following year. There’s a picture of a similar five-piece band on Google with the name Ricky Williams & Night Flight that may have been a predecessor or successor group, but when I Googled the band name, I only got former NFL running back Ricky Williams, whose night flights were mostly weed-based.
Walter Jackson, “Feelings,” #93, 1/8/77
You know, I’ve always thought Morris Albert’s hit song from this era wasn’t lugubrious enough, and should be slowed down further to really have an impact. That aside, Jackson’s story is far more interesting than this soul ballad version of the song. He had polio as a child, and used crutches his entire life (a YouTube video of him performing his 1965 single “Welcome Home” on Dick Clark’s program Where the Action Is shows him sitting down in the upper deck of an auditorium). It looks like he charted at least six songs on Billboard’s Hot 100, mostly in the 1960s for OKeh Records, but none of them made it past #83 (it looks like he did better on the R&B charts). He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1983, but many of his records are still available for download.
Starz, “She’s Just a Fallen Angel,” #95, 1/8/77
Leo Sayer, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” #1, 1/15/77
Foghat, “Drivin’ Wheel,” #34, 1/15/77
Stevie Wonder, “I Wish,” #1, 1/22/77
Engelbert Humperdinck, “After the Lovin’,” #8, 1/22/77
Queen, “Somebody to Love,” #13, 1/22/77
Linda Ronstadt, “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,” #42, 1/22/77
Donna Summer, “Spring Affair,” #58, 1/22/77
Paul Anka, “Happier,” #60, 1/22/77
L.A. Jets, “Prisoner (Captured by Your Eyes),” #86, 1/22/77
Six-member rock band fronted by Karen Lawrence, which made them a bit of a rarity in the world of 1970s hard rock. They made one self-titled album for RCA in 1976, from which this single was issued. It’s now out of print and unavailable for download, so this “video” (and any others like it) are about all that’s around. Lawrence would work with a few other bands full time (1994, Karen Lawrence and The Pinz, Blues by Nature) and as a guest artist (she’s on Aerosmith’s song “Get It Up,” and worked with Jeff Beck as well). Lawrence also wrote this song, which was repurposed as the theme for the 1978 film The Eyes of Laura Mars, sung by Barbra Streisand. Note: not to be confused with 1980s teen-pop band The Jets, despite Amazon’s attempts to the contrary. The one and only video (with an unreleased version) cannot be embedded, but you can find it here.
Cher, “Pirate,” #93, 1/22/77
Rose Royce, “Car Wash,” #1, 1/29/77
Brick, “Dazz,” #3, 1/29/77