Brownsville Station. Cub Koda and company are best known for their pro lung cancer anthem “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” which made it to #3 in 1973 and was covered by Motley Crue in 1985, becoming that band’s first Top 40 hit. The Ann Arbor boogie boys snuck back into the Top 40 in 1974 with the rather pedestrian “Kings of the Party,” which hit #31. Sadly, Dr. Demento could only boost “The Martian Boogie” to #59 on the Top 100 in 1977.
Blackfoot. RIckey Medlocke of Blackfoot grew up in Jacksonville with Lynyrd Skynyrd and played with that band for a brief time in early 1970s. Blackfoot’s 1979 album Strikes eventually went platinum, giving the band their two Top 40 Hits “Highway Song” (#26) and “Train Train” (#38) (the latter written by Medlocke’s grandfather, Shorty). By the mid-90s, Medlocke was out of music business, with his main income derived from his lawn mowing service. He was saved by his childhood friends and has been a member of Skynyrd since 1996. He still owns the rights to the Blackfoot name and recently assembled a band to tour under that name. “Train Train” is the only song that was ever covered by both Dolly Parton and Warrant.
Chilliwack. Chilliwack formed in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1964 and scored six Top Ten songs in Canada. In the U.S., they snuck their soft rock into the Top 40 in 1981 with “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” (#22) and “I Believe” in 1983 (#33). I was at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Vancouver last summer and a Chlliwack 8-track tape was on display. Nothing makes you feel more spry than seeing an item from your youth as a museum artifact.
Exile. Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn made their mark in the music business writing catchy pop songs for Sweet and Suzi Quatro, but also penned “Kiss You All Over” for Exile and “Mickey” for Toni Basil. “Kiss You All Over” spent four weeks at #1 on the charts; the follow up single, “You Thrill Me,” spent one week at #40. Exile were retooled for the country market and scored ten #1 country songs during the 1980s.
Jethro Tull. Ian Anderson’s troop was much more of an album act/theatrical experience than a singles band; you weren’t going to get songs about greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes on Casey Kasem’s list. “Living in the Past” reached #11 in 1972 (three years after it was recorded) and “Bungle in the Jungle” hit #12 in 1974. Living in the past has been profitable for Anderson, he spent last year performing 1972’s Thick As a Brick album in its entirety.
Los Lobos. Los Lobos have collected three Grammys and have been toured/recorded for three decades receiving substantial critical acclaim. However, their only pop success came from the La Bamba soundtrack – “Come On, Let’s Go” reached #21 on the charts and “La Bamba” went to #1.
Looking Glass. Jersey boys Looking Glass went to #1 with “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” in 1972, later causing Barry Manilow to change his breakthrough hit’s name from “Brandy” to “Mandy.” In 1973 the band replicated their slinky groove, pushing “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne” into the Top 40 at #33. Josie Cotton did a cover version of “Jimmy” that outshines the original.
Ratt. Ratt’s “Round and Round” was one of the better melodic hard rock songs of the era, reaching #12 in 1984. “Lay It Down” spent one week at #40 in 1985, which must have been someone at Billboard doing a favor for Atlantic Records. Drummer Bobby Blotzer was blessed with one of the best names in thud rock history.
Stealers Wheel. A Quentin Tarantino fave, “Stuck in the Middle With You” was one of the best Dylan imitations of the ‘70s and made it to #6 in 1973. The much less impressive “Star” hit #29 in 1974. Gerry Rafferty would later go on to bigger fame with “Baker Street” and sadly passed away in 2011 after years of alcohol abuse.
The Tubes. With musical pipe bombs like “White Punks on Dope” and “Don’t Touch Me There,” The Tubes weren’t exactly aiming for the pop mainstream in the mid-1970s. The band signed with Capitol Records in 1981 and were remade for the masses. “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore” made #35 in 1981, it sounds like a song by the Alan Parsons Project with less personality. “She’s a Beauty,” written by Fee Waybill of The Tubes with industry heavyweights David Foster and Steve Lukather hit #10 in 1983. Sometimes success is better than artistic control. You can look inside another world. You get to talk to a pretty girl.
playlist after playlist pushing the same handful on songs
sweet soul music
“All Night Parking” is so great it causes us to overestimate the album
This ain’t rap music, this straight literature
“an anthem for all the ones that have experienced getting manipulated,”
An abysmal top ten as we reach for the end of the year
a smooth and cagey sound
Azealia Banks has two nights at The Novo
lost all working class crdentials