Mar 202009

Last night I watched two DVDs of Midnight Special performances with Townsman Sethro. We skipped some performances, like Seals and Crofts, and concentrated on rocking artists that might provide insights into cool drum fills and rock faces. Along with the Edgar Winter Band performance that Townspeople are currently analyzing, highlights for discussion included Linda Rondstadt doing “You’re No Good,” which we’ve discussed previously in the Halls of Rock; The Guess Who struggling mightily to perform “American Woman,” the custom-made lucite drums of Billy Preston’s drummer; a busty Marc Bolan and T.Rex, all coked out of their minds; and a smokin’ hot Debbie Harry and Clem Burke with Blondie, the two of them providing all the heavy lifting in that band, as was always the case.

Some day we may have to analyze the Guess Who performance separately. Both Burton Cummings and the porn soloing faces of the lead guitarist are rich in talking points.

But that’s not the moment you’ve been waiting for; that’s not the single song that marked all that could possibly suck in the second half of the ’70s.

As we scrolled through the menu on these DVDs, I suggested we skip the following band, but Sethro thought there might be something there. There surely was something there.

Before we view this stunning clip, you might recall Townsman cdm’s recent thoughts on Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein”:

The 70’s are a contender for the most interesting decade in rock in my book, but that song is a catalog of everything bad about 70s rock. (pop-prog leanings, cheesy synths, self-indulgence manifesting itself in a very uninteresting way, songs that go on too long, albinos, etc)

As I said to him, he makes a lot of sense, but I thought there was one song that – short of albinoism – covered all that cdm mentioned and then some, failing to deliver in any way on just about any of the “leanings” and indulgences he outlined. I would argue that this is the heart of darkness moment foreshadowing the worst of ’70s rock:


  21 Responses to “The Single Song That Marked All That Could Possibly Suck in the Second Half of the ’70s”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    By the way, does the backing singer on the left in that T.Rex video answer the question, What if Yoko Ono were black?

  2. BigSteve

    I’m pretty sure that’s future Kink Jim Rodford on basstar with Argent.

    The T. Rex clip is so sad. This is just 73? How did he sink so low so quickly? There really should be a strict limit imposed on the number of tambourines used at one time with a rock band, and I could never condone tambourine on guitar violence.

    Dig the Look dichotomy in the Guess Who — Burton Cummings and the guitarist on the right in their clean 70s suits, and the other three going for a CFL player as rock dude Look.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    Yeah, when Seth and I were watching the T.Rex clip, I figured it was from 1976. Seth checked the box and we were surprised by the date of the performance. I agree with what you say about the abusive use of tambourines, but how’s you like the whip? We thought that was a relative highlight in this performance.

    We also dug the Look dichotomy of Cummings and the lead guitarist. That Cummings is sporting a monster porn ‘stache.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Cummings looks like a young Chickenfrank in a John Travolta suit.

    I don’t mind that Argent number so much.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    For me, the Argent tune has all the pomposity, prog leanings, and other indulgences of later ’70s FM arena-rock fodder without delivering on any of it. For all the song’s the prog and hard rock leanings, for instance, there’s a dearth of both impressive noodling and outright rocking. I don’t know, to me the song portends completely useless ’70s rock, like Boston’s second album.

  6. BigSteve

    I think I agree with hvb that this song is not so bad. The single version is apparently edited, so maybe the album version (at 6:18) would be more annoying. I like the Hammond organ growl, the rhythm is mildly interesting, and I actually like the simple positive message in the lyrics:

    And if it’s bad
    Don’t let it get you down, you can take it
    And if it hurts
    Don’t let them see you cry, you can take it

    Hold your head up, hold your head up
    Hold your head up, hold your head high

    I wish I could write like that.

    Argent did much worse, giving the world God Gave Rock & Roll To You. In checking to see if they ever did anything else of interest I saw that their second album has a song called Cast Your Spell Uranus. That’s got to hurt.

  7. HVB, That’s not a very nice thing to say about Mr. Chicken. I think Cummings looks like a younger version of the guy on PBS who does those little astronomy update things that pop up occasionally between programs. I don’t know if that’s just a regional thing, but if anyone knows what I’m talking about, feel free to back me up.

    RE; T.Rex – OUCH!-“Put down the tambourines, & back away slowly.” The bat-wing costume & whip were nice touches, though. I’ve got a friend who works in the “big time” music biz, in a capacity where he is paid to have “good ears”. Anyway, he told me he couldn’t even get through the live stuff in T.Rex’s “Born to Boogie” DVD, because the guitar was SO out of tune. I thought it was a bit sloppy, but never noticed it being that glaringly out of tune. Guess that’s why he gets paid to do that kinda stuff. And this clip is even worse. Think I’ll stick w/the studio albums. Flo & Eddie do better “female” back-up vocals than the screeching banshee sistahs in this clip.

    As far as Argent goes; I’ll take “Head Held High” by The V.U. any day over this plodding bore. Or just about anything The Zombies did, for that matter.

  8. 2000 Man

    Hey, ya know Hold Your Head Up was actually a pretty welcome diversion on AM radio way back when I was riding a bike with a banana seat.

    Then again, I always liked God Gave Rock N Roll To You, but just because it’s so unashamedly dumb.

  9. Mr. Mod, I don’t know how you meant that “black Yoko Ono” citation but it is a quite apt description. That’s Gloria Jones, whom Marc Bolan left his wife, June Child, for. She is best known for two things. First, she did the original version of the song Tainted Love and, second, she is reviled in Bolan fan circles, as the driver of the car in the accident that killed Bolan. Less well known (at least I didn’t know it until two minutes ago) is that she wrote the Marvin Gaye-Diana Ross hit “My Mistake” and Gladys Knight’s “If I Were Your Woman”.

    With classic songs like those, that’s clearly were the Yoko analogy falls apart!

    The other singer is Sister Pat Hall. Bolan produced and wrote (co-wrote?) an album for her as well as material for Jones. This stuff is pretty interesting (if not necessarily good) as a signpost to the soul direction that Bolan was heading at the time of his death.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    I was wondering if that was Gloria Jones, Al, and hoping that was the case to bolster my analogy. Primarily I was referring to her singing style, the way she hangs over the measures on each chorus. I had no idea she wrote those tasty nuggets!

  11. Mr. Moderator

    I guess I’ve overestimated the influence of “Hold Your Head Up.” You guys aren’t fans of the second Boston record, are you? 🙂

  12. I think Argent are a great example of the Peter Principle applied to rock music: They rose to their own level of incompetence.Or really, it was probably that they were on a different level of competence than the Zombies that made their music so bloated and dumb. By becoming able to realize this music, Rod Argent rose to his own level of incompetence.

  13. The Burton Cummings “star man” is not just regional. I’ve seen him, too.


  14. hrrundivbakshi

    Burton Cummings “Star Man”? Makes him sound like a celestial phenomenon, like the aurora borealis or the Morpha Lights. Which part of the sky holds this constellation — and is Burton a portent of good or evil?

  15. BigSteve

    Burton Cummings is waiting in the sky
    He’d like to come and meet us
    But he thinks he’d blow our minds…

    Let all the children boogie.

  16. dbuskirk

    Gloria Jones’ SHARE MY LOVE album from 1973 is one of the very best 70’s Motown albums, the rare top-to-bottom gem from a female r&b singer of the day. I think her main problem in the clip is that she’s mixed way too high, that is pretty dreadful.

  17. 2000 Man

    How can you tell when Boston’s first album ends and the second one begins? Don’t they both even have the same cover?

  18. Mr. Moderator

    At 2K’s suggestion I searched the web for the Boston album covers and came across this discussion:

    Along with a tidbit about the Boston cover, there’s some other stuff you might find worth a gander.

  19. This song sounds like they were doing a cover of the Doors “Five to One” and the singer decided to freelance.

  20. According to her website, Gloria Jones’ Share My Love album is due out on CD for the first time on March 31. However, amazon uk has no release date for it.

  21. dbuskirk

    AL: According to her website, Gloria Jones’ Share My Love album is due out on CD for the first time on March 31

    I saw that too, I’ll definitely track it down, it even has bonus tracks. I went back and listened to my copy today and there are a couple of “ehhh” tracks on the record but just a couple, and the title track is a should-of-been classic in my book, beautiful restrained string arrangement over congas Jone’s Tina Turner-ish vocals.

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