Mr. Oldie Knows
When Chicago Transit Authority signed with Columbia Records, they accumulated enough material and were trying to make a statement. The group wanted to do a double album and the record company freaked out. Cooler heads prevailed. The company decided to charge the two-record set at a single album price and that the group's royalties would be lowered.
CTA recorded their self titled album in only two weeks in January, 1969 and was issued in April. The album was well received by the FM album rockers. One single was issued that fall, a sharply edited version of "Beginnings," sank without a trace. In spite of its initial single success, the album peaked at a respectable #17-not bad for a debut double album. Chicago Transit Authority was ordered to change their name so it was simply shortened to Chicago. In early 1970, they released their second album and had their first hit with "Make Me Smile" (#9-June 1970). Another hit followed with the enigmatic "25 Or 6 To 4" (#4-September 1970). Chicago promptly recorded a third album that was issued in late 1970-yielding two top forty hits with "Free" & "Lowdown". In 1971, by that time, Chicago released "Does Anybody Know What It Is?" from the first album and it peaked at #7 in January, 1971. Those in the Louisville area might recall a version of this tune by Copper & Brass from early 1970. In June 1971, "Beginnings" was reissued-and this time it was a massive hit-peaking at #7 in August. The flip side is a prom favorite-"Color My World", originally the back side of "Make Me Smile"
In June, 1971, Harry Nilsson was in London with record producer Richard Perry. This was his first recording project outside the United States. Before Nilsson stepped foot on English soil, he recorded two songs in Los Angeles. One was an interesting cover of the 1947 blues standard "Early in the Morning", singing and playing the typical twelve bars on an organ. The other was "I'll Never Leave You", which is traditional of his earlier more middle-of-the-road style. That style was soon to change just a bit. From these June sessions came his most successful album "Nilsson Schmillson" which would yield three very stylistically different singles. The first single would be his only Number one hit. Harry was at a party when he heard a song that sounded like John Lennon. Close though. This tune was recorded by the Beatlesque Badfinger for their 1970 album "No Dice". He took the album to his producer and requested that he would record this tune. This song, an unrequited love ballad, "Without You" would top the charts for a month here in America in February, 1972. It would also hit the summit in England for five weeks-and was certified gold. The follow-up single was a far cry from this ballad. The one chord rocker "Jump into the Fire" featuring a bass detuning peaked at a disappointing #27 that April. One more single was issued and that was the quirky "Coconut", another one chord wonder. This did better-peaking at #8 during the summer. "Nilsson Schmillson" was certified gold-and eventually platinum. In early 1972, Nilsson remained in London and did a sequel album "Son Of Schmillson". This proved to be somewhat disappointing, yielding only two singles. The first single was "Spaceman", which some people thought was a rip off of Elton John's "Rocket Man". It peaked at #23 that fall. The other single didn't make the top 40. "Remember (Christmas)" peaked at a miserable #53 around that Holiday. For the record "Remember (Christmas)" has nothing to do with the Holiday. Why it's titled like that is unknown. "Son of Schmillson" peaked at #12 and went gold. However it proved to be the last album with Richard Perry. Why that artist-producer relationship parted, no one knows. His career went into a down slide. Subsequent album such as the John Lennon produced "Pussycats" and his movie with Ringo "Son Of Dracula" met with disappointment.
David Gates the son of a music teacher left Tulsa, Oklahoma for Hollywood and a music career. He initially worked as a music copyist and had his first success as a songwriter with "Popsicles & Icicles". This celebratory love song was a hit for the Murmaids, whose 15 minutes of fame peaked at #3 in early 1964. He worked also with Brian Wilson, Elvis Presley, and Duane Eddy among others. He also arranged Glenn Yarborough's hit "Baby, The Rain Must Fall", a top twenty hit in early 1965. In 1967 he formed Pleasure Faire, which evolved into Bread. Their first single "Dismal Day" was issued in the summer of 1969-but never charted. I recall the song getting spotty airplay in Louisville. A year later, they issued "Make It with You" which debut at #96 in June, 1970. By August, it went to the top-and was certified gold. It was the first of 12 chart singles-and along with the Carpenters-ushered in the soft rock movement. When I did research on the group, Duane Eddy was mentioned as one of the artists that David Gates. David arranged the tracks on Duane's 1963 "Twangin' up a Storm". I use to have that album but lost it many years ago. David also wrote "Saturday's Child" for the Monkees. So between Popsicles & Icicles & Bread, he was staying busy.
Song writer Bob Gaudio was waiting at what he regarded as the slowest changing traffic light in New York. At that intersection were street kids who would wash your car for some pocket money. One was a girl all dressed up in rags who washed his windows. In searching through his wallet, the smallest bill he would fine was a five. He gave her the money and drove on. Looking in his rear view mirror, he could see the girl standing in the middle of the street with this surprised look on her face. This episode inspired the Four Seasons’ next hit that debut this June day in 1964. By the next month "Rag Doll" became the Jersey Boys' fourth number one hit—truly one of the few survivors of the British Invasion. They would go on to have a total of 31 Top 40 hits.