Category: music on tv 1971

neon-rains-gifs:

Carole King, 1971

Aretha Franklin, “Rock Steady” on The Flip Wilson Show, aired January 20, 1972. 

Released as a single in February 1971, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the Soul Singles chart, this Aretha-penned track gets a blazing new life just 4 days before the release of the astounding Young, Gifted and Black LP. Not only have you never heard this song like this before, you may never have heard Aretha like this before: pedal to the metal and soaring, even by her own elevated standards. 

It’s also inspiring to see the Queen of Soul, “Natural Woman” resplendent in natural hair and an African-inspired gown in this pivotal TV appearance, as detailed in Rickey Vincent’s Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers’ Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. 

Aretha herself said, “I believe that the black revolution certainly forced me and the majority of black people to begin taking a second look at ourselves. It wasn’t that we were all ashamed of our ourselves, we merely started appreciating our natural selves…you know, falling in love with ourselves just as we are. We found that we had far more to be proud of.

“I must say that mine was a very personal evolution – an evolution of the me in myself. […] I know I’ve improved my overall look and sound, they’re much better. And I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in myself.” 

(More here, although note that Vincent is off on the date of this broadcast, which I verified here. A great read nonetheless.)

This is the sound of Aretha’s newfound confidence, my friends, with one of 1971′s greatest singles taken to new heights. “Rock steady, baby – that’s what I feel now. Let’s call this song exactly what it is!” 

TURN IT UP!

Tina Turner, Proud Mary, 1971. If you’re here for an Ike & Tina soul ballad, hit play and enjoy yourself for the next minute and 55 seconds, at which point Tina blows it to smithereens. 

If you’re here for Tina, skip ahead to about 1:40 to catch your breath for a couple of seconds before Tina takes it away.

Tina’s rendition reached its peak in March 1971, exactly two years after Creedence Clearwater Revival’s original version reached its peak, winning the Grammy for 1971′s Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group. 

In fact, Solomon Burke recorded a cover before Ike & Tina did, very soulful of course, very worth your while to track down, but also very much in line with John Fogerty’s original performance. As Burke recalled later, though, “The greatest thing I ever did was tell Ike Turner, ‘Hey man, you should get on this record… I think you and Tina could tear this thing up.’”

The wisdom of Solomon is right again! Tina’s performance simply obliterates everything in its path.

Mick Jagger, “Brown Sugar,” Top of the Pops, 1971

eltonhjohn:

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

DAVID CASSIDY & THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY MEET RICHARD PRYOR, LOUIS GOSSETT JR, and “THE BLACK PANTHERS” in “SOUL CLUB” (aired January 29, 1971)

Sure, The Partridge Family was a single-camera comedy with a laugh track, mostly aimed at kids, a barely plausible framework on which to hang some flimsy pop songs – but it never shied away from a variety of social issues, including women’s rights and racial justice.

My favorite episode was “Soul Club”, which first aired in January 1971. It featured one of the show’s better songs, “Bandala”, and a few other things that merit some additional context. 

“Soul Club” also featured RICHARD PRYOR and LOU GOSSETT (as he was credited)!! It was in fact a back-door pilot intended to kick off a series with the two of them that sadly never came to pass.

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Gaze upon Richard and Lou, and think about ABC trying to launch a sitcom for them out of The Partridge Family. Yikes! I’m sorry we never got to see that, but I’m glad we got to see this.

The pair played brothers who had intended to book The Temptations into their inner city Detroit social club (the titular “Soul Club”), only to have the white, white, oh so white, Partridge Family roll up instead.

The Temptations concert had been the brothers’ last hope to save their club. They’d gotten in deep to a loan shark, and were counting on The Temptations to deliver a big payday.

It was immediately apparent that the Partridges weren’t going to be able to help them – ah, until they actually DID help. Heartwarming hilarity ensued as the Partridges played a street fair benefit show. 

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Along the way to saving the day (which they did), Danny Partridge is made an honorary member of “The Afro-American Cultural Society,” a thinly-veiled and highly favorable representation of the Black Panthers.

In fact, when you look this episode up yourself – and you should – many accounts report that the episode DID feature the Black Panthers. (For a start, try Googling “Partridge Family Black Panthers.”)

Even without the actual Black Panthers, a number of scholarly sources have nevertheless cited the “Soul Club” episode as a pivotal moment in American cultural history. That part is absolutely true. This was among the first wholly positive depictions of militant black pride in mainstream media, maybe even the first, and it was A Big Deal. 

After all, these were days when J. Edgar Hoover denounced the Black Panther Free Breakfast Program as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States of America” – not the Black Panthers in general, but free breakfast in particular. 

The Partridge Family, instead, literally normalized the idea of people of color being PEOPLE – parents, kids, volunteer firefighters, musicians – who were politically engaged in improving their communities, a much different picture than the prevailing stereotype of communities of color as bomb-throwers bent on race war.

I didn’t need the perspective of history to tell me that this was a big deal. Watching on that Friday night in 1971, I could FEEL that it was a big deal. 

Don’t forget that Soul Train was still 9 months away from national syndication, and there were few shows on TV at the time featuring any characters of color. (There were two black leads on Room 222 airing the same night as The Partridge Family, and Flip Wilson’s variety show, and on a weekly basis, that was about it in 1971.)

As a result, this may have been the largest collection of black people that most of white America had ever seen in one place, and they were dancing. And trying to improve their community, and otherwise, going about their day’s business. Maybe we didn’t need the FBI crawling all over these communities like we’d been told. Maybe, thought white Americans like me, just maybe, it was enough to support them where we could, and otherwise just let them be, because they’re just trying to make a better life for themselves, same as me. Their advancement is certainly not at my expense.

This was a radical, radical concept at the time. Kinda still is. Again.

None of which would matter in the context of a show about a singing musical family if there wasn’t a great song somewhere in there. And there is: “Bandala,” one of the best in the show’s entire run.

Kind of a kick – members of the Afro-American Cultural Society are shown serving as the song’s string and horn sections! This might have been the only time in the show’s run that it acknowledged that the plethora of sounds that we’re hearing couldn’t possibly have been coming only from the Partridges themselves. 

(Music nerd note: the actual sounds of The Partridge Family’s instruments provided courtesy of The Wrecking Crew! Most often in the form of Hal Blaine on drums, Joe Osborn on bass, and Larry Knechtel on keyboards, including the harpsichord on the Partridges’ ur-hits “I Think I Love You” and “C’mon Get Happy”.)

Wait for Pryor and Gossett to show up around the 2-minute mark in this clip, “giving five” to each other in a variety of creative ways, some involving hip bumps. Yes indeed, friends. Hip bumps.

There are obviously far more than the usual number of nits to pick with an episode like this, but that’s for another time. (Or for your replies. Feel free. It is problematic, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a cultural watershed of its era.) 

In the meantime, I hope you can enjoy the clip above for what it is, a terrific David Cassidy vocal on a nifty pop tune, with some endearing moments in the episode as a whole, featuring a colossal (if in retrospect, gratefully) missed opportunity for Pryor & Gossett, but its very ambitious heart in the right place.

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George Harrison on The Dick Cavett Show on ABC, aired November 23, 1971.

spiritof1976:

Shocking Blue

Shocking Blue’s “Shocking You” (1971), featuring Mariska Veres

“We’re shocking you until you turn to blue
We’re shocking you see what we’re gonna do”

Aretha Franklin, “Rock Steady” on The Flip Wilson Show, aired January 20, 1972. 

Released as a single in February 1971, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the Soul Singles chart, this Aretha-penned track gets a blazing new life just 4 days before the release of the astounding Young, Gifted and Black LP. Not only have you never heard this song like this before, you may never have heard Aretha like this before: pedal to the metal and soaring, even by her own elevated standards. 

It’s also inspiring to see the Queen of Soul, “Natural Woman” resplendent in natural hair and an African-inspired gown in this pivotal TV appearance, as detailed in Rickey Vincent’s Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers’ Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. 

Aretha herself said, “I believe that the black revolution certainly forced me and the majority of black people to begin taking a second look at ourselves. It wasn’t that we were all ashamed of our ourselves, we merely started appreciating our natural selves…you know, falling in love with ourselves just as we are. We found that we had far more to be proud of.

“I must say that mine was a very personal evolution – an evolution of the me in myself. […] I know I’ve improved my overall look and sound, they’re much better. And I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in myself.” 

(More here, although note that Vincent is off on the date of this broadcast, which I verified here. A great read nonetheless.)

This is the sound of Aretha’s newfound confidence, my friends, with one of 1971′s greatest singles taken to new heights. “Rock steady, baby – that’s what I feel now. Let’s call this song exactly what it is!” 

TURN IT UP!

Aretha Franklin, “Rock Steady” on The Flip Wilson Show, aired January 20, 1972. 

Released as a single in February 1971, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the Soul Singles chart, this Aretha-penned track gets a blazing new life just 4 days before the release of the astounding Young, Gifted and Black LP. Not only have you never heard this song like this before, you may never have heard Aretha like this before: pedal to the metal and soaring, even by her own elevated standards. 

It’s also inspiring to see the Queen of Soul, “Natural Woman” resplendent in natural hair and an African-inspired gown in this pivotal TV appearance, as detailed in Rickey Vincent’s Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers’ Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. 

Aretha herself said, “I believe that the black revolution certainly forced me and the majority of black people to begin taking a second look at ourselves. It wasn’t that we were all ashamed of our ourselves, we merely started appreciating our natural selves…you know, falling in love with ourselves just as we are. We found that we had far more to be proud of.

“I must say that mine was a very personal evolution – an evolution of the me in myself. […] I know I’ve improved my overall look and sound, they’re much better. And I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in myself.” 

(More here, although note that Vincent is off on the date of this broadcast, which I verified here. A great read nonetheless.)

This is the sound of Aretha’s newfound confidence, my friends, with one of 1971′s greatest singles taken to new heights. “Rock steady, baby – that’s what I feel now. Let’s call this song exactly what it is!” 

TURN IT UP!