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Why it doesn’t suck: Music from the seventies I

This new series is inspired by another blog where writers Wes Clark and Bob Hargus just list out a raft of seventies songs that “suck”, with some subjective criteria included, not to mention the odd bit of commentary. Among those listed are, of course, the music we all think about when we think of tacky songs of that period: a good chunk of ABBA, “Feelings” by Morris Albert, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (I once saw this single nailed to a pillar in front of a Toronto used record store on Yonge Street, south of Bloor — rotate that!), Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch”, and most things found in any K-Tel catalogue.

You probably expect me to list those things, along with the predictable tut-tutting of what we all listened to, and how it makes us feel foolish. But you know what? I won’t. And that’s because what passes for a monster musical hit these days is worse than the worst seventies song. Yes, there are exceptions, there are always exceptions, but there are many good reasons that songs these days suck so much, mostly having to do with the changes in the music industry. It seems to me, that in an attempt to become a predictable source of revenue to its shareholders, the hit songs of today have to sound like previously existing hit songs. Punk rock also saved the major labels a load of money in not having to book so much studio time so that the band could get its act together. This was because not rehearsing or even checking to see if their instruments are in tune is the whole point of punk rock.┬áBut as music fans started to understand the political statement behind being a punk, they probably started to discover that they can take control of their lives and improve their communities without needing to listen to such shitty music while they’re doing it. It also doesn’t seem quite as necessary as it used to be to dye your hair purple, wear a mohawk, or stick a clothes pin through your nostril to rebel against vanity and fashion. Although, that kind of fashion idiocy has been replaced by another form of fashion idiocy, inspired by Rap and Hip-Hop. I have already previously commented on the similarities in tastes in clothing and how it is worn, to that of rednecks. What goes around comes around.

So, for my first instalment in this series, I present to you my reasons for why Diana Ross, and “Touch Me In the Morning”, does not suck. I think this song is actually a good song, foremost because of the fact that it is better than any torch song or ballad sung these days. But even on its own merit, it is classic motown, and the song reached number 1 and charted on Billboard for nearly 6 months. Most motown artists worked through the sixties making hit records, but it wasn’t until the seventies that the craft of artists like Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, The Supremes, and Marvin Gaye was perfected, and we heard the best motown could offer. The part I like best in this song is the beginning, as it builds up. When it does build up, I imagine that people might say it sounds too much like disco. But remember, this was 1973, and disco did not become big until much later. Maybe disco was trying to sound too much like Diana Ross.

[mp3t track=”Diana_Ross_-_Touch_Me_In_The_Morning.mp3″]

 

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crappy album covers Popular Music

Crappy Album Covers #123 — Nature Photos

Album_Cover_Crap_168_showandtelmusic_com

The Willy Wall Trio is a group of musicians whose soft brand of jazz seems to have an appeal with many sites on the internet. I have seen titles from this album in compilations and from people reviewing the record. One of the tracks, “Cha Cha 89” does not place this record in 1989 for me, but the Winnebago motorhome depicted here places this record not much later than 1969:

[mp3t track=”http://sj.foodsci.info/wp-content/uploads/misc_media/Willy_Wall_-_Cha-Cha-89.mp3″]

It is quite good, if you like jazz. Two other tracks are “Movin & Groovin” and “Snowfall”. Many have categorized this as “lounge music”, and I would agree, but there is a strong thread of jazz to the music.

Movin’ & Groovin’:

[mp3t track=”Willy_Wall_-_Movin_n_Groovin.mp3″]

Snowfall:

[mp3t track=”Willy_Wall_-_Snowfall.mp3″]

Album_Cover_Crap_180_Flickr If you are in trouble, don’t care what it is, Billy Swan can help. The song has made it to K-Tel infamy, thereby commercializing and commodifying yet another song about human compassion in the 70s. You can’t blame that on Swan, though.

This Missouri native had his start hanging out with Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters in the early 60s, and later on, writing tunes with fellow Missouri native Jospeph Henry Burnette, or “T-Bone Burnette” as he is known.

One can only hope that no swans were harmed in the making of this album cover.