Muskrat Love by Captain & Tennille (A&M, 1976)


Daryl “Captain” Dragon recently passed away. As a duo with Toni Tennille, they racked up 9 Top 40 songs between 1975-1980, 7 were Top Ten hits, 2 were #1. They created smiley upbeat keyboard-driven pop songs and some mellow key-party ballads during a cynically and uncertain economic post-Watergate economy. But the song that they are remembered most for is Muskrat Love. It didn’t have to be that way. Many feel that this song is a crime against humanity. If you were alive in 1976 then you are implicit in this crime. Let’s list the other suspects:

Willis Alan Ramsey – This song was written and recorded by Ramsey in 1972, under its original title Muskrat Candlelight. I don’t definitively know what inspired him to write this, but I assume he was high as shit watching a Deputy Dawg cartoon marathon and just happened to have a guitar in his hand. Take a listen:

OK not bad for a post-hippie singer-songwriter campfire jingle-jangle about a couple of freaky water rodents, probably a backlash from of all those Jesus is Love mu-mu wearing wannabes Willis encountered at those Dallas, Texas open mic nights. He has had his songs covered by Waylon Jennings, Jimmy Buffet and Widespread Panic to name a few and he’s still going today so the song could have stayed quiet with him as an album track and all would have been fine. That takes me to my next suspects:

America – These guys were on a roll with a string of hits – A Horse With No Name, I Need You, Ventura Highway. They must have been getting pretty cocky with their success because they heard Willis’ song and thought, “Hey that’s good. But it’s missing some that Beckley-Peek-Bunnell three-part harmony magic.” (spoiler alert – it wasn’t) Retitled Muskrat Love, America released it as the first single from their album, Hat Trick and it tanked. They should have seen this as divine intervention.

In order to save their career, they had to bring in the guy who produced Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road. Had America not recorded this at all, the following suspect would have never heard it playing on the radio:

Toni Tennille – I’m not going to pick on Toni too much. She was a fine singer and the only honorary “Beach Girl” in the Beach Boys. She just had a momentary lapse of reason when she heard this and said to her partner Daryl, “We should add this into our nightclub setlist.” This was in 1973, so it’s her fault for not picking from the other classics and standards already written from the past decades. I guess I can understand that as they climbed the ladder to pop stardom they wanted something in their act to stick out. But someone should have stopped this, such as:

The Crowd at the Smokehouse Restaurant in Encino, CA – This was where Toni & Daryl perfected their nightclub act. I don’t know what C&T’s live version of Muskrat sounded like, but for anyone who clapped after they performed it, you are all enablers. This was their cry for help and you ignored it. Which brings me to:

Daryl Dragon – At any time, he could have said “Fuck this. I’m not recording this shit.”  throwing an E-Mu synth at the wall to emphasize his point. Or maybe Toni had a Svengali-like hold on him where if she touched him on the shoulder, it rendered him speechless.


It’s also possible that he couldn’t take it anymore – the idiotic vanilla variety show, the stupid itchy captain’s hat, the bulldogs shitting everywhere – and he just snapped and said, ” You wanna get crazy? Let’s get crazy. How about I take my Mini-Moog and make it sound like the muskrats are bangin’ in a storm drain? Then we’ll press the 45s so that sound loops over and over as the record fades but the sound never ends. HAHAHAHAHA!” [cue lightning strike]

Again it could have been just forgotten as an album cut. They had already released 2 hit singles. Why not just leave it alone? Which leads to me to my final subject:

Herb Alpert – This is all his fault. He had the winning touchdown in his hands and dropped it, so to speak. He had a chance to change the song’s trajectory forever, so direct your ire at him.

Thinking that Muskrat Candlelight had a good melody but some dumb ass lyrics, Herb wrote new words to the song, changed the title to Sun Down and had his wife Lani Hall record and release it.

Why was this not a hit? It was on A&M Records. Herb, that’s your label. Whatever happened to payola? No need to grow a conscience now. Finish the job. Don’t you think we all wish we could go back in time and disrupt the night that got Hitler’s mom got pregnant with him?

Ok maybe it’s not the same thing, but I’m also not letting Herb off the hook, because which record label allowed C&T to release Muskrat as the 3rd single from Song Of Joy, hmm? That’s right. A&M Records. You had the power to stop it again Herb, but you let it happen. We all just bought the Pet Rock. You knew we were vulnerable. How could you?

I like to imagine a world without Muskrat Love.  Everything would be different. Maybe Captain & Tennille would have taken more risks in the 80s and had some New Wave-styled hits and Metropolis-inspired videos on MTV. Maybe Kurt Cobain asks Daryl to produce In Utero and he sits in with Kurt and a newly reunited Nirvana on the album’s 20th-anniversary tour. Maybe they discover a musician named Richard Hall and change his name to Moby, who in turn inducts them into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as the ‘Godparents’ of modern EDM, followed by a 7-minute electronic version of Love Will Keep Us Together with Daft Punk and Sheryl Crow, Daryl’s 3rd wife. The polar ice caps stop melting and CO2 emissions are at their lowest recorded levels. No one has ever heard of Columbine High School outside of Colorado and this post ceases to exist because I’m too busy curing cancer. That’s the world I want to live in.

Bonus: In 1975 Neil Sedaka hits #1 with Laughter in the Rain on Rocket Records, owned by Elton John who sings backup on Neil Sedaka‘s Bad Blood which is replaced at #1 by Island Girl from Elton John whose #2 song Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me featured backing vocals from Toni Tennille, who with the Captain hit #1 with Love Will Keep Us Together while I’m Not In Love was in the Top 10 by 10cc, who played on the original recording of Love Will Keep Us Together by Neil Sedaka.

OK here it is if you wanna hear it:



Saturday Night by Bay City Rollers (Arista, 1976)


In the late 70s, Saturday night was acquiring a huge reputation for itself. It spawned two variety shows in 1975 – Saturday Night Live and Saturday Night Live with Howard CosellSaturday Night Fever – a little indie movie that took over 1978 with one of the biggest soundtracks of all time and of course the pop song, Saturday Night from the Scottish band, The Bay City Rollers, which hit #1 in early 1976. [The group actually performed Saturday Night on Saturday Night Live on a Saturday night.]

My 70s Saturday nights were a constant struggle to see how much TV I could watch and for how long, especially as I got older. I knew I didn’t have much leeway with the parents. But if they decided to go out dancing, meet friends, attend key parties, whatever, I knew I could work our babysitter, Loretta, over for a few extra hours. I loved those Saturdays when I knew my folks were going out. That meant I could pick out any TV dinner I wanted when we went shopping at Pathmark. Jolly Rogers made my favorite ones with the most variety and the best dessert. Man, I’d be thinking about that all day. Oh, the power of the aluminum-flavored Salisbury steak and apple cobbler. What I should have focused on was figuring out how to watch Saturday Night Live. I knew I could push through the Love Boat, but I just could never make it past the Fantasy Island opening credits. And if Loretta’s boyfriend snuck over, I might not even glimpse Julie’s mug through the porthole. But I digress….

Saturday Night by the Bay City Rollers was actually written, recorded and released in the UK in 1973 and bombed. The Rollers replaced their lead singer with Les McKeown and within a few months, Rollermania took over. They had 6 straight Top hits, and two of them hit #1 just before they made their debut in the US with Saturday Night. Ironically, it never charted in England, while it became their biggest hit here in the States. Do we dig the weekend more than the Brits? Are we a sucker for chants or any song that requires spelling?

The Rollers got huge and folks wore tartan knickers in their honor. Thankfully that didn’t last long and they soon imploded, although they kept releasing albums into the early 80s and even hosted a Saturday morning show in 1978 called The Krofft Superstar Hour, 2 years too late. I still watched it like anyone who comes upon a car accident. But by then it was over and Rod Stewart kindly asked for his Scottish plaid back, so he could ask folks if they though he was sexy….

Let Your Love Flow by The Bellamy Brothers (Warner Bros, 1976)


Imagine having a younger brother who’s a talented musician. He can sing and write songs, and eventually has someone turn one his tunes into a hit. You wish you were that good too. In fact, you want to be a musician just like him, but you don’t really have it in you. Nevertheless, you hang out with him, support him and try to do what you can to stay in the game. Then from out of nowhere, you can get a shot to sing a song and it goes straight to #1. How the hell did this happen, you say to yourself? That’s what Howard Bellamy, a guy who had never stepped foot in a recording studio before, said on May 1st, 1976 when Let Your Love Flow topped the charts. Here’s what happened.

David Bellamy was writing songs in Florida when singer-songwriter Jim Stafford heard one he knew would be better than anything he could come up with. He recorded Spiders and Snakes and took it all the way to #3 in 1974. This prompted David Bellamy to move out to L.A. with brother Howard following him. He hooked up with Phil Gernhard who was Stafford’s manager and producer. He liked to use Neil Diamond’s touring band for recording sessions and thought David could cut a few tracks with them while Diamond was in between gigs. Diamond didn’t hit the road that much back then, which left everyone with a lot of free time of their hands, including the roadies. One roadie, in particular, was a struggling songwriter named Larry Williams who wrote a nice little country-pop ditty called Let Your Love Flow. He played it for Gerhard who offered it to Neil first. Neil probably laughed and told him to fuck off, cracklin’ rosie all over his skull [or simply said, no thank you, kind sir].

Gerhard took it to David Bellamy and said sing this and make me rich, to which David said, ‘you’d rather me sing a song a roadie wrote rather than my own?’ After hearing the recorded results, Gernhard thought it sucked and locked it in the vaults. With Larry Williams’ and David Bellamy’s chance at fame and fortune now on the wane, Larry went back to waiting for Neil Diamond’s next concert at the Greek and David went back to writing and playing for Jim Stafford. Howard needed a job too, so David got him one…as a roadie for Jim Stafford.

Then something fortuitous happened. Stafford was getting ready to tape a live show for a TV special when the weather grew grim. Gathering storm clouds made everyone nervous that the show would have to be canceled, so they told Howard to do some quick sound checks. Gernhard heard Howard’s voice and immediately heard cash registers ringing. Howard has the voice he needed to turn Let Your Love Flow into a hit. Nevermind that Howard wasn’t really a singer or had ever been in a recording studio before. Or that Gene Cotton just recorded and released the first official version a month earlier. Gernhard knew he found the voice he was looking for.

Cut to early 1976. Howard has recorded lead vocals on the track with David singing harmony. Warner Brothers released the 45 under the Bellamy Brothers and 14 weeks after it hit the Hot 100, it knocked Johnnie Taylor’s Disco Lady out of the number one spot. Gene’s version didn’t even chart. The Bellamy Brothers were barely a band. Now they were a bicentennial smash hit. And that’s when everything went south, seemingly. They disappeared as quick as they showed up, only grazing top 40 once more in 1979 with If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me). While the pop charts said don’t let the door hit you in the ass when you leave, country radio let the Bellamy Brothers flow all over the place, racking up 10 Country #1 singles. And all Howard had to do is show up and say, testing 1-2-3…..

And grow that sweet mustache….

Anything You Want by John Valenti (Ariola, 1976)


Back in the early 70s, there were many great horn bands that never had a chance to break through like their contemporaries Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears. One of them was a band called Puzzle who put on 2 LPs on the Motown label. If you had to place them by sound on the horn rock spectrum, they would rest halfway between Chicago and Tower Of Power, a little jazz, a little funk and a whole lot of soul. They probably would be sitting next to The Mob another Windy City group. Unfortunately, Motown did not know what to do with Puzzle and so they broke up after their 2nd LP in 1974. Drummer and lead singer John LaVigni embarked on a solo career, changed his name to John Valenti, for reasons unknown, and proceeded to channel late 60s Stevie Wonder on the swinging proto-disco track, Anything You Want, which hit #37 in November of 1976.

In a year filled with Hall & Oates, Boz Scaggs and a Michael McDonald-led Doobie Brothers all hitting the Top 10 with their blue-eyed soul (do any of them actually have blue eyes?), John’s track should have followed their lead, but instead was leapfrogged by Whiter ballads from England Dan & John Ford Coley. He put out one more LP in 1981 and released both on CD for your WestCoast AOR listening pleasure.

Let Her In by John Travolta (Midland International, 1976)

Teenybopper music may have had its genesis in the 50s. But when the late ’60s turned into the ’70s, it went from being a fad to a full-on marketing machine. Whereas Ricky Nelson may have been targeted at early-to-mid teenage girls, 70’s teen music went for a younger age, usually starting at around 9 or 10, when young girls would hit puberty. That cheap sell may be the only reason that John Travolta’s limp passion-free mope fest, Let Her In, made the Top 10 in 1976. Did they give these away free with bottles of NyQuil?

Travolta was riding high as the breakout character from the sitcom, Welcome Back, Kotter, sharing his dim-witted charm every week as Vinnie Barbarino. The theme song to the show hit #1 earlier that Spring. In fact, it may be the only time that TV theme and a song from a star of that show both were in the Top 40 at the same time, as they were in June of 1976. [Also funny aside, on the week of July 31st. Travolta’s Let Her In was replaced at #10 by the more inclusive Wings hit, Let ‘Em In.]

Travolta was an up and coming stage actor in the early 70s, even starring as a T-Bird on Broadway in Grease. During this time, John was recording singles trying to break into the music business as well. It’s not that John’s voice is bad; it’s not. The material he was recording though was pretty awful. Sometime around 1974, John recorded this song, written by English singer-songwriter, Gary Benson. [I list his name so you can save some tomatoes for him.] This 45 sat in a closet and should have stayed there, were it not for John’s overnight charge into fame. Taking advantage of his new-found popularity and raging pubescent hormones, the song was released and became a Top 10 smash on July 24th, holding Steve Miller‘s Take The Money & Run at #11 and Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town at #12.

Was there really that much babysitting money going around? How does anyone get excited about a wimpy ballad that starts off with ‘I’m different today, hey-hey‘? [I think that line was stolen for The Fall Guy theme…] By the time she gets the message, she’ll be fast asleep. The string arrangement is as inspired as the lyrics. Were these bits of throwaway samples from an unused Hallmark ad? A paralyzed Vulcan could display more emotion than this.

And can you make sense of this?

Gonna open up after so long
With my feet stuck on the ground
And my head against the wall
I’ve been called

That’s an interesting position, John. What exactly were you called for? And where are you letting ‘her’ in?

Watch this awesome video to find out…it’s so wee-yird!

Junk Food Junkie by Larry Groce (Peaceable/ Warner Bros, 1976)

Junk Food Junkie is an excellent artifact of the 70s because it brings up two discussions.

One is the fact that novelty records and novelty record makers are very scarce these days. It seems as though any parodies or songs of humor are left to “morning zoo” DJs, ambitious YouTubers, and Weird Al Yankovic. In fact, Weird Al cornered the market, either because everyone else dropped out. Or it’s because he put a face to these songs by virtue of coming out in the video age. Although with only 3 album releases in the last 12 years, even Al is looking towards other work, such as video directing Ben Folds & the Black Crowes. The music industry has reduced its humor to promoting folks such as Lady GaGa. Are you laughing yet?

But back in the 70s, everyone was looking to shake off the serious sixties, a war-torn country, and a failing economy. That is one of the reasons why Junk Food Junkie hit the Top 10 in 1976. The song was recorded live at McCabe’s at a bar in Santa Monica, CA. It sounds as if it’s the first time most of that audience has heard the song, and their spontaneous laughter reflects that, especially after the 2nd verse, which causes Larry to hold on a bit before launching into the chorus. It’s just Larry and his guitar, probably sitting on a stool telling a funny story about a health nut who’s secretly sneaking junk food. It leads me to my other discussion…

…That the storyline and Larry’s lyrics paint an interesting picture of our eating habits and what we ate in 1976 compared to now. The actual joke is that Larry is making fun of those holier-than-thou types who “jumped on the bandwagon’ of organic food back in the late 60s/early 70s. Of course, we know that we are slowly (and legally) being poisoned by our primary food, so it doesn’t seem silly now, only a matter of survival. But back then, Larry was making fun of the person more than the food. He imagined a hypercritical snob, who puts on one face only to wear another in private, and he used food as the device.

What he unwittingly did was really blow the lid on what was being considered junk food. Sure, none of us were going to McDonald’s back then to get healthy. But also no one was talking about it like it was garbage either. Or that it was even bad for you. In fact, fast-food restaurants such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s gained newfound popularity in the 80s as a convenient way for two-income households to feed their families. But we definitely started to wonder, maybe for the first time, if we were indeed eating garbage.

Ding-Dongs & Twinkies…sure. Pringles…you bet. Back then, those were a treat, weren’t they? Wasn’t it something that we bought once in a while, just like soda. Now soda has its own aisle as well as chips & cookies in our local supermarkets. In fact, natural sodas get more space now in a mainstream market shelf. So do gluten-free options. We labeled in junk food in 1976, then it became part of the fabric of what we eat to the point that we’re starting to take ourselves on macrobiotic trips (whatever that means) and friend Euell Gibbons on Facebook (no page listed). This is really a more extended conversation and probably much better dealt with by documentarians.

We were looking for the next high all through the decade of me. After drugs, we turned to food. After we OD’d on that, we sought comfort from religious groups. When that failed, we started jogging to a runner’s high. And on & on & on. It was never enough. So we laughed at ourselves for how ridiculous we are, for a brief moment, or at least how Mr. Natural was, and we took pity on him.

By the way, if you are scratching your head wondering why Larry Groce’s name seems so familiar, it’s because he started Mountain Stage, a regular feature broadcast on NPR. That’s right. Larry is helping to bring live concerts to all those folks who probably keep their brown rice in a John Keats autographed Grecian urn.

The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy (Mercury, 1976)

Guess who just got back today?
Those wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven’t changed, haven’t much to say
But man, I still think those cats are great

And so begins the only US hit for the Irish band, Thin Lizzy, which made the Top 20 in 1976. Those opening guitar smashes and funky bass licks coupled with that first verse lead off one of the best songs about summer coming around the corner, signaled by the boys coming back to town.

Fronted by the late Phil Lynott who sang, played bass and wrote most of the songs including this one, Thin Lizzy (actually they called themselves Tin Lizzy at first and added the ‘h’ because Irish folks pronounce ‘th’ as ‘t’ anyway) holds a special place in history. It was one of the few rock bands led by a black singer, which was becoming incredibly rare since the days of Little Richard, Chuck Berry & Fats Domino. But rock they did, and it’s become an enduring anthem for soccer teams, war veterans and folks who just want to have fun, get drunk and fight.

In fact, the song has been adopted by so many different groups, its origin and references have been lost on many. Being that it was released in 1976, many thought it had it to do with soldiers returning from Vietnam, the boys, an old-fashioned reference to men in blue. And who was going to tell them otherwise, since this song would have been the nicest gesture they would receive. But alas the song was written about the Quality Street Gang, a group of guys that Phil would take notice of when he was a wee lad in Manchester, England.

The story goes that their record label in the UK, Vertigo, asked the band to write something “more American” to finally breakthrough in the States. This is the track they came up with, and if you listen to their catalog, all they really did was drop their Gaelic imagery and references. Many people consider this song to be a derivative of Springsteen, but I really don’t get that. By 1975, Springsteen’s sound had evolved into a Spectoresque bombast with the over-the-top production with the nonsensical non-sequiturs this side of Dylan (hence he was dubbed the New Dylan). The Boys Are Back In Town is straight ahead in its approach musically & lyrically – let’s drink, let’s fight, let’s rock. Outside of some bars in Asbury Park, has anyone ever turned up Born to Run on the jukebox when they want to party, a song about a “death trap” that “rips your bones from your back.” Don’t believe me? Go to a bar and test this theory out. A real dive bar. Betcha Thin Lizzy is on there.

Until then, play this. And if the boys wanna fight, you better let em…..

Do You Feel Like We Do by Peter Frampton (A&M, 1976)

There’s a throwaway scene in the movie, Reality Bites, in which Ben Stiller & Winona Rider are wrapping up their first date. They’re sitting on the back of Ben’s convertible listening to Peter Frampton’s Baby I Love Your Way. Ben cannot believe that Winona had never heard this song or knew who Frampton was. Ben is aghast. He tells her that everyone had a copy of Frampton Comes Alive and that they shipped in the mail to every household, like samples of Tide.

Personally, I don’t buy that Winona doesn’t who Frampton is. She would have been 5, so she was alive to witness the mania. They’re trying to show that there’s an age difference between the two, but all that means is that one heard it on the radio and one blasted it on 8-track in their Duster. To say Frampton owned 1976 was an understatement. He came seemingly from out of nowhere to become a superstar – the Mark Fidyrch of rock. Frampton Comes Alive, Peter’s 5th, was an album that did something no one had done before or after. It generated 3 Top 20 singles on the Pop chart, the oddest and least likely was Do You Feel Like We Do. Least likely for two reasons: 1.) It was the 3rd single from an album that practically everyone owned. And for a double LP, it was priced relatively cheap – only $6.98. 2.) [and most important] The song was 14 minutes long. Yes, insert joke here, where a DJ would play it and then drop acid, go to the bathroom, watch a movie, read Moby Dick, etc and finish before it was over.

DYFLWD had to be edited down to fit on a 45, which ended up still being 7 minutes and eighteen seconds, the longest 45 to hit the Top 10. (Hey Jude was 7:11 and I don’t count American Pie because that was broken up over 2 sides. November Rain by Guns N Roses was outside the 45 era, released on CD & cassette, so I don’t count that either.)

The single release makes me scratch my head. Why did they even bother? The track was being played on radio. But back then it couldn’t chart unless there was a single release (just like or un-like Stairway To Heaven). Why cut into the LP profit margin with a $.49 single just to get a 3rd hit? Two were plenty to sell an LP back then. The 45 edit is Frankensteined into a performance that sounds like your needle is constantly skipping from a fun, spirited performance, one that was recorded in Upstate NYafter the live album was recorded and finished. But you see, A&M Records wanted Frampton to really come alive all over two pieces of vinyl. So they stretched it out and added a few tunes, this being one of them and its most classic. But man the 45 was a travesty. I’d like to know how many kids carried around their portable Crossley and plopped this one on.

The original version was on his 2nd LP, Frampton’s Camel and is shorter than the 45 edit. (He had to let Bob Mayo on the keyboards stretch it out…Bob Mayo!). He would end his shows with this tune, which is weird that he originally didn’t end the single LP version of FCA with it. Nevertheless outside of his talkbox riffing, telling us he wants to fuck us as well as his volcanic guitar solo ending which I would bet the house on that Prince his doing his homage to Peter at the end of Let’s Go Crazy, there were the lyrics. Naturally, they sucked.

Well, woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand.
Whose wine? What wine? Where the hell did I dine?

Nice, We learn that Peter’s been RUFied in the first few minutes. And nice dexterity to hold on that wine glass even while sleeping

Must have been a dream. I don’t believe where I’ve been.
Come on, let’s do it again.

Next, we learn that Peter is a glutton for punishment.

My friend got busted, just the other day.
They said, “Don’t walk, don’t walk, don’t walk away.”

Who said don’t walk away? Your friend? His lawyer? The cops? A little help?

Drove him to a taxi, bent the boot, hit the bag.
Had to play some music, wonder why ze blaaah

So it sounds like maybe Peter’s friend got arrested, and Peter broke him out of jail cause he had to play a gig. Or Peter was still under the effect of the wine & pills.

Champagne for breakfast and a Sherman in my hand.
Peached up, peached Ale, never fails.

A good way to cure a hangover – a little Bubbly and a Stogie. The second line is a guess and my Frampton’s Camel LP doesn’t come with a lyric sheet, on which I believe he sings Blue Top, silver tails, never fails. Neither makes a lick of sense, but by now I’m sure you’re used to it.

Must have been a dream I don’t believe where I’ve been.
Come on, let’s do it again.
Do you…you, feel like I do?

No, I don’t. I’m not a self-loathing alcoholic. I’m just a sucker who’ll sit through 14 minutes of you telling me how much you are. At least my man jams…

You know the live version. The 45 edit sucks. So enjoy this live performance from the Midnight Special:

Right Back Where We Started From by Maxine Nightingale (United Artists, 1976)

Maxine Nightingale did not like this song. She thought the lyrics were vapid. She thought keyboards were annoying and the handclaps were downright obnoxious. When she finally relented to recording it, it was under the promise that it wouldn’t be released under her own. She also didn’t want any royalties, thinking it was a dumb song that nobody was interested in. But rather that give her a $75 recording fee, her friend and songwriter, Vince Edwards, talked her into taking a back-end royalty cut. To Maxine’s chagrin the 45 bore her name. But to her good luck, the song was an around the world smash, giving the appropriately named Nightingale her signature hit. (and a lot of royalty money)

So why did this song have so much success? Here are my thoughts.

In England, Northern Soul was peaking as a genre. But its playlist of obscure 60s & early 70s soul and funk was beginning to grow stale. So newer releases with that same vibe readily filled that gap on the packed allnighters at the Wigan Casino. Right Back Where We Started From had the feel of a Holland-Dozier-Holland song buried on the B-side of a Motown artist’s LP with Maxine provided a Martha Reeves-styled vocal.

In the U.S. we were riding high, emotionally proud with our approaching Bi-Centennial around the corner and a desire to put our Vietnam-Nixon mistakes behind us. We wanted to dance & party. In came Maxine with a bright poppy hit that we could bounce & clap to. Had Johnnie Taylor’s Disco Lady not held residence at the top spot for a month, this Gold record may have been a bride and not a bridesmaid.

As a kid I always got excited when this song came on the radio. Maybe it was the easy singalong chorus. Maybe it was the handclaps. Handclapping is fun when you’re 5. Maybe it was the retro feel, before anyone knew what that was, that harkened back to a time that had only just passed 8-10 years previous. Standing fresh-faced in the present as a step out of time.

Bonus facts: The bass player from E.L.O plays on this as well as one of their violinists who did the string arrangement.

Got To Get You Into My Life by The Beatles (Capitol, 1976)

It’s hard to write about the Beatles, since almost single move they made has been analyzed over & over again. But here’s one fact I rarely hear. Never has a group that was as big, financially & creatively as well as in popularity, disbanded without getting back together again. Not even an appearance at an awards show or token jam session. I don’t think the 4 Beatles were ever in the same room again after their announced April 1970 breakup. You can’t say that about any band that’s worth a damn. Of course little did they know they would only have a 10-year window. [Wham!, on the other hand, is 25 years and counting…] Which makes this next stat even more impressive: After their split and not counting the Let It Be singles, they went on to have 5 more Top 40 hits, 4 of them Top 20, 2 in the Top 10, their last Top 10 coming 25 years after their divorce.

Every generation seems to rediscover what an incredible recording history they have and how much they influenced in pop music. Heck they kicked off a genre called horn rock, book-ending with the song, Got To Get You Into My Life from 1966’s Revolver. It was the first time the Beatles has used horns on record and Paul assembled 3 trumpets & 2 saxophones to give the song some soulful muscle. It’s Paul at his catchiest, even John Lennon agreed. Not many other folks could write a pop song about their love affair with pot; such is the genius of McCartney.

Where would Chicago or Blood, Sweat & Tears be without this song? In fact both groups used to play this is their sets during the 70s. And as the horn rock genre wound down in the mid 70s, with BS&T, now a group with a revolving door membership and Chicago discovering their inner soft side, the Beatles aka Capitol Records released this 45 from their compilation, Rock & Roll Music. It peaked at #7 during the summer of 76, just as Wings’ Let Em In was getting ready to leapfrog them in the Top 10.

As a young kid growing I never really knew a world where the Beatles didn’t exist. It didn’t matter to me whether they were together or not. I would spend countless hours staring at the cover of Magical Mystery Tour while I Am The Walrus played, intrigued, scared but always wanting more. Hearing this 45 on American Top 40 didn’t seem strange to me. Paul’s voice on this mid-60s track sounded no different than him belting out Band On The Run. None of this situation really hit me until John’s death 5 years later. Until then the Beatles existed along side every other band that was still together and always reigned supreme.