What I Listened to in the 70’s: Part I
To anyone who has read a little bit of this blog they certainly can testify that I’m usually all over the board when it comes to what I listen to. I know that a large part of that is certainly the influences of a few select eccentrics who have turned me on to their particular eclectic palate of musical artwork.
But, I do give a lion’s share of the influence to the medium that has long since past – the AM radio. More specifically, the radio of a time gone by before they all seem to zero in on a target range of listeners. I can’t, for the life of me, find a station that will play a soft rock, then a hard rock, then a pop, then a gospel influenced, then a prog rock, then a soul, then a show tune, then a funk beat, then a standard then a … you get the idea.
Stations now play only one genre of music for a narrow range of listeners. And I think we’re the worse for it. Listeners have lost the ability to be influenced by all styles of music and thus only have a small well from which to draw on. Because of this, when they hear the first measured strains of anything that is not within their experience of day to day listening, they tend to rapidly close out, shake their heads no and wrinkle up their nose.
But play for them an early release of something similar to the vein they’re stuck in and they pop up their forehead and ask, “Who’s that?” See, even on their own rabidly defended, obtuse station, they’ll never hear the templates for their music.
Which is why I’m very grateful indeed for the short time I had listening to stations that thrived with diversity. Though the selections I’m posting were by no means the central figure or the prototype of their genres, or even sparkling influences, they were part of the amalgam of the variety that helped shape my thirst for alternative expressions of music.
The wonderfully sultry whisper of physical and emotional love in the bedroom given without the dirty heel of gutter-banality that we find so common and normal today. I don’t believe that Sylvia had another hit, but then again, I always acquiesce to those who are more chart proficient than I am. The flowing strings, the lazy Sunday afternoon atmosphere and the soft snap of the high-hat all combine to make this selection a perfect prelude to soul style seduction.
Side trivia: she offered this to Al Green but he turned it down. She was also co-founder of Sugarhill records, them of Rapper’s Delight fame.
Ooh, I don't wanna see you be no fool
What I'm teachin' you tonight
Boy, you'll never learn it in school, oh, no
So friends who tell me wrong from right
I'll ask to borrow their pants some cold and lonely night
Ooh, hey, baby, let me be
The one who turns you on from A to Z, ha-ha
What you friends all say is fine
But it can't compete with this pillow talk of mine
I found an abbreviated performance version, from Soul Train, on YouTube.
What You Got
Right alongside some of the best rock pop, this will always hold on to me tightly. Effervescent and bright but with a heaping dose of true cracking rock this serves to slice me off a healthy portion of down and dirty pop.
The guitar fills between lines of lyrics and the choppy drum rolls have stuck to my gut long, long after Duke and The Drivers became a trivia answer. And upon repeated listening only solidify them as masterful in my mind. The a-capella portion toward the end (2’40”) reminds me of a pre Black Water. by the Doobie Brothers. Simply – a gem and a song I would have loved to see live at a dive bar!
Maybe it’s the things you do
That keeps me in love with you
It might be just the way you move
You sock it to me in the groove
One thing ‘s plain to see
You rally got a hold on me
What you got – sure looks good!
Never expecting it, I found a clip of Duke and The Drivers performing at the famed Boston Hatch Shell in 1993. Though you have to swallow a fair bit of embarrassing silliness, at about the 4’30” mark is What You Got. I was surprised and quite pleased to hear that they sound exactly the same! Not a small feat for any band!
I do sometimes bemoan the lack of diversity on the radio these days, and I certainly will not be dragged into listening to a genre centric radio station. However, even with PC’s and the availability of countless tracks online I wonder how radio was slowly cornered into a musical landscape devoid of choice.
A few hours after reading what I written above it occurred to me that the genre specific stations are also serving an audience that wants just that – only one type of music that thrills them to core – and I can’t blame them at all. Even I get carried away for a week or two at a time listening to only funk, only pop, only soul or only rock. So, maybe I’m self-debating much ado about nothing.
In any case, the tracks still stand on their own – enjoy!
Sylvia: Pillow Talk (1973)
From: Pillow Talk
Duke and The Drivers: What You Got (1974?)
Addendum: A huge hat’s off to reader Nate C. for hooking me up with the Duke and The Drivers track! I have been looking high and low for this for many moons (see What I’ve Been (Unsuccessfully) Looking For on the right hand column) and outta the blue, comes an email from N.Y.! Thanks Nate. Much appreciated.