Category: 1971 single

“Black Dog / Misty Mountain Hop” single from 1…

“Black Dog / Misty Mountain Hop” single from 1971’s Led Zeppelin IV, Italian release.

Aretha Franklin and Dr. John, 1971, via Dr. Jo…

Aretha Franklin and Dr. John, 1971, via Dr. John’s Facebook page.

The Doctor guested on a couple of Aretha’s 1971 singles, notably playing percussion on “Rock Steady” (released in February; I wrote about that here), and playing keyboards on Aretha’s cover of “Spanish Harlem”, a July 1971 single that became the opening track of Aretha’s Greatest Hits, released that September. It

spent three weeks at #1 on the US soul charts and two weeks at #2 on the Pop chart on the way to selling over 1 million copies.

(btw, the b-side referenced here, “Lean On Me”, isn’t a cover of the song that Bill Withers hadn’t written yet, of course, but rather the 1970 Vivian Reed original, a fantastic track, one of Aretha’s most powerful performances – but no Dr. John means that I’ll save it for another day.)

George Harrison’s demo for Ringo’s 1971 hit “I…

George Harrison’s demo for Ringo’s 1971 hit “It Don’t Come Easy”

Ringo co-wrote the song with George, who also produced this, added background vocals, and played bass and the wonderful guitar that’s so integral to this song’s success.

It’s quite ragged, but this version is AWESOME. There are no horns, and with fewer layers of overdubs, you can really hear backup vocals. George’s guitar is also truly sweet in this version – easily the equal of anything he played on All Things Must Pass. There’s even a bonus “Hare Krishna” chant in the middle!

Play this NOW, thank me later.

The Doors, “Love Her Madly,” March 1971, the m…

The Doors, “Love Her Madly,” March 1971, the month before its appearance on LA Woman. (German release) 

John Lennon & Yoko Ono: both sides of Powe…

John Lennon & Yoko Ono: both sides of Power To The People, a non-album single released March 22, 1971.

The Original! The Move’s 1971 banger, “Do Ya!”…

The Original! The Move’s 1971 banger, “Do Ya!”

You’ve heard the 1976 hit version from The Electric Light Orchestra, a pop classic by any measure – but this stripped-down 1971 version by The Move SLAMS! It’s obviously the same song of course, but it really sounds beamed in from another dimension as peeling back all the layers reveals the downright weirdness at its heart. 

(Seriously, one of the weirdest songs ever to become a hit.)

Presumably you’ve already hit play and heard the biggest difference between this and the 1976 ELO version: that one had an orchestra and choir, and this one is just composer Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, and drummer Bev Bevan BANGING. Although Jeff wrote it, the song’s original title was named for a spontaneous outburst of Roy Wood’s at the end of the song, “Look Out Baby There’s A Plane A-Comin’”. (Yes, that was the original title! I think “Do Ya” works better tho.)

(Tom Petty later told Jeff that he thought “Look out baby there’s a planet coming” was one of the coolest lyrics he’d ever heard, and was disappointed to learn the proper words.)

Although the song had been a staple in ELO’s live sets, they didn’t get around to recording it until 1976, after Todd Rundgren’s cover on Another Live became something of a hit itself in 1975 (with Todd repaying a favor to Jeff, who’d regularly been performing Todd’s early Nazz track “Open Your Eyes”). 

In fact, it was this original version’s complete lack of orchestration that landed the song with The Move rather than ELO. (Both Message From The Country and ELO’s debut were recorded more or less simultaneously, with the more orchestral tracks naturally landing with ELO.) 

Recorded December 19, 1971, and released as the B-side to “California Man”, it failed to chart in the UK, and in 1972, barely cracked the US Top 100, landing at #98. Its days as a chart-topper were yet to come.

I do love ELO’s 1976 version, and the 1975 version by Todd Rundgren’s Utopia (which I’ll discuss in full another day) might even be my favorite, but there’s something special and irreplaceable about the original “Do Ya” from 1971.

Turn this tf up, play it again, and let me know what you think!

James Taylor & Carly Simon, “You Can Close…

James Taylor & Carly Simon, “You Can Close Your Eyes” (1977) 

Originally released on James’ 1971 album Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon, “You Can Close Your Eyes” has been covered dozens of times, most notably by Linda Ronstadt in 1974. James has also performed it with Carole King and Bonnie Raitt among others over the years, and one of his 3 live duets with Joni Mitchell (a 1970 John Peel session) has rightly become virtually canonical.

But this is the one that’s been missing from your life. Recorded at James and Carly’s Martha’s Vineyard home in 1977, the best part of this performance may be the privilege of watching Carly Simon’s face light up when she sings. You’ve never seen anything quite like it. Even though they’ve invited us into their home to witness it, it still feels almost too intimate to bear.

There are no bad versions of this song by anyone, but this one is something special.

George Harrison and Bob Dylan rehearsing “If N…

George Harrison and Bob Dylan rehearsing “If Not For You” before the Sunday afternoon show of the Concerts for Bangladesh, Sunday, August 1, 1971. It’s messy, but adorable.

Like The Beatles, Bob Dylan had quit touring in 1966. Unlike The Beatles, and apart from  a 1969 TV performance with Johnny Cash, and an appearance with The Band at the Isle of Wight, Bob had all but disappeared. While he was generally up for lending a hand to George’s effort, he wasn’t sure what to sing, and was even less sure if he was going to be able to pull himself together to even show up at the appointed hour. When George introduced him that afternoon, he was by no means certain that Bob would actually walk out. 

While they were working out which songs to perform together, “If Not For You” was an obvious place to start. A lovely tune that Bob introduced on New Morning almost exactly a year earlier (August 12, 1970), George covered it on his own album All Things Must Pass, which was the #1 album in the US for the first 7 weeks of 1971, and for the months of February and March 1971 in the UK

Neither Bob nor George released “If Not For You” as a single, but in May 1971, it was the debut single for 22 year old Olivia Newton-John. Based on George’s arrangement rather than Bob’s, it reached #7 in the UK, and in the US, #25 on the Billboard Hot 200, and eight weeks straight at #1 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart! 

(Yes, I bought it. Yes, I still love it. Yes, I will post it later.)

Our boys passed on performing this for the big show(s), but this rehearsal is an enduring reminder that beyond being two of the all-time giants of popular music, and rock gods, they were also both just so incredibly fucking adorable.

David Bowie, “Queen Bitch” (from 1971′s Hunky …

David Bowie, “Queen Bitch” (from 1971′s Hunky Dory) broadcast February 8, 1972 on Old Grey Whistle Test

eltonhjohn:

eltonhjohn:

Elton John performing ‘Your Song’ on Top Of The Pops, 1971.