Just A Song Before I Go By Crosby, Stills & Nash (Atlantic, 1977)

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When Crosby, Stills and Nash took the stage at Woodstock in August of 1969, would anyone have guessed that it would be 8 more years before trio recorded an album together? Sure they released the landmark, Deja Vu in early 1970, but that was with Neil Young touring them into a quartet. And any time you add Neil to a drink, it’s stronger and darker. Besides CSN won the new artist Grammy in 1969, not CSNY. People wanted to sway and smile to Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, not be filled with fear and paranoia with Ohio.

All kidding aside, CSN was in a great position to conquer the folk rock world and instead splintered in many subsets – Crosby-Nash, Stills-Young, Stills, Manassass. And David Crosby was embarked on a drug-fueled lifestyle that would only come to light in the early 80s. These guys just needed to get together before it was too late and chill. Which is what they did in 1977 with the CSN LP and its lead off track, Just A Song Before I Go. They even posed on a boat for the album cover, just to let you it was smooth sailing from here on out (of course, it was anything, but).

This 45, written by Graham Nash, has to be one of the saddest to ever hit the Top 10. It makes Along Again (Naturally) come off like Disco Duck. I always found it to be a heartbreaking song and thankfully it ends just after 2 minutes, even though they pack a lot in that 2 minutes –  a couple of choruses, verse and 2 guitar solos.

Maybe hearing it connects me to something deeper in my life, someone who left who didn’t come back, either physically or emotionally. I still have this image of hearing the song as a backdrop to an early morning, when it’s cold and still dark out, but you’re trying to get ready for the day in spite of wanting to stay and keep warm.

I think the reason why it became CSN’s biggest hit, outside of fans welcoming them back, is the fact that we all leave or get left by someone or something at some point in our lives. And regardless of which party feels the hurt more, it’s never easy to say goodbye, but truly the pain is in the fear of permanence that goodbye represents. After 35 years of living with this song I’ve only recently found out why it was written – a dare. Graham had some time to kill before he went to the airport and back on tour, so he sat down at the piano and quickly wrote about the next hour of his life at that point, literally. Graham’s packed his suitcase, gonna be taken to the airport, go through security and fly United (the friendly skies, I assume. Of course if he’s traveling twice the speed of sound, maybe he booked his ticket on Yeager Air)

I listened to it again with this knowledge and it still has this melancholy sadness that hits me deeply. Maybe Graham had tons of emotions that he needed to write down and record. Maybe he was saying farewell to happiness or so long to a friend. Maybe he was writing about what happened in 1970 when the group fell apart. All I know is that he needed Stills & Crosby back with him so that he could say goodbye once again.

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Black Betty by Ram Jam (Epic, 1977)

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Imagine you had an older brother and/or sister growing up in the early 70s or maybe you truly did. It’s 1973 and you’re 12-year-old self is riding around with them in their shiny black Firebird with Led Zeppelin’s Houses of The Holy 8 track in the dash, the V8 motor struggling to overcome Jimmy Page’s guitar crunches during The Ocean. You sit back and think, ‘man when I can drive, I’m gonna burn rubber and crank some tunes’.

Flash forward to 1977. You got a brand spanking new driver’s license, your parent’s beat-up Dodge Dart and an empty 8-track player just waiting to be abused. You drive to your local mall, run into Record World and look for the hottest band with the hottest song. As you walk through the parking lot unwrapping your latest purchase, you push that clunky piece of plastic into the player, start the engine and take off down the street to the clanging of a gong a four on the floor bass drum, screeching guitar chords and “whoah-oh black betty, bam-a-lam, whoah-oh, black betty, bam-a-lam…”. Not exactly Dancing Days, but hey you can call Ram Jam you’re very own. Who’s Ram Jam, you ask? Exactly my point. I’m not even sure if Ram Jam knows who Ram Jam is, what a Black Betty is or why I need to even write about them in the first place, but I will.

Ram Jam was a band formed out of necessity rather than a struggling band trying to make it. Guitarist Bill Bartlett, who egged us on to watch him play his Green Tambourine in 1968 as a member of the Lemon Pipers, had formed a new band with 2 other former band members called Starstruck, not be confused with Starbuck. Between personnel changes and a lack of momentum to get a recording contract, Bill decided to play around with the Leadbelly song, Black Betty. He thought a one-minute long would be a good remake especially if you added some hard rock guitars to a disco drum beat. Not thinking much more about it, he recorded it with his band mates and released it locally. It was actually a nice regional hit around Ohio and Jim was pleased.

That’s when Jerry Kasenetz & Jeff Katz, pop producers who were considered the purveyors of the Bubblegum sound of the late 60s, picked up on it. They invited Jim to New York, tweaked it a bit and re-released it nationally on the Epic Records label. Not only did it become a surprise Top 20 hit in the US, peaking at #18 on Labor Day weekend 1977, it was a bigger hit in England and Australia where it climbed into the Top 10. So the guts in Starstruck should have been ecstatic, right? Only if we’re not talking about the record industry, who decided the Ram Jam should be Bill Bartlett and a stable of New York musicians. I call it the Alan Dennison effect.

Maybe they thought the playing on the track was sub par. They may have a point as the recording is stiffer than a starched Arrow shirt at the North Pole. Listen to that drum solo. This guy makes Carmine Appice come off like Steve Gadd. He can barely keep up with everyone. And the 45 edit doesn’t do him any favors, since they cut out the little honkytonk jam section and left in the licks that wouldn’t cut it in an 8th-grade battle of the bands. But I digress….

The song, while definitely inane, probably benefited from the controversy of the lyrics, which were openly boycotted by the NAACP, even though they were written more than 40 years earlier. This song was originally made popular in the 30’s being sung by convicts in State prison farms. It may have been lost altogether had not John & Alan Lomax recorded a version in the field a prison in Sugar Land, Texas. Leadbelly recorded his version in 1939 and was credited from there on and out as the songwriter. Many have debated what or who Black Betty was: a musket, whiskey, a slave whip or even a motorcycle. When sung by Ram Jam, it could’ve been anything from a prostitute to heroin. Nowadays it’s just used to artificially pump up the crowd at sporting events. Except for that one dude way down in Alabam’, windows down, Dodge Dart kickin’ out gravel down a dusty country road til it can’t bam-a-lam no more.

I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You by Alan Parsons Project (Arista, 1977)

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Alan Parsons had a well-known pedigree in the early 70s. He had worked at Abbey Road studios as an engineer working the Beatles’ Let It Be and Abbey Road LPs. But it was his work with Pink Floyd, first on Atom Heart Mother in 1970 and then on Dark Side of The Moon in 1973, which raised his status as an engineer legend. He also received his first Grammy nomination for Best Engineered album. He would begin producing as well as engineering starting with the English band, Pilot which had a Top hit in 1975, Magic. Alan would engineer the first two Ambrosia LPs, getting 2 more Grammy nods. But all of this was a warm for a different ‘project’ he had in mind.

In 1976 took himself off the market and focused on the Alan Parsons Project, a group which would release 11 albums of prog-pop, each one a themed after a specific concept. [Alan did produce Al Stewart’s Year Of The Cat & Time Passages, but otherwise, it was all about APP]. His 2nd album, I Robot, was based on science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov’s first 2 books of his Robot series, The Caves of Steel and the Naked Sun, as well as his short stories, I, Robot, exploring a world that was slowly becoming more dependent on technology.

The first single was I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You which gave us the feelings from the robot’s point of view, comparing himself to the human, saying in effect, you may be better than me, you may be smarter than me, but I don’t want to be you. Every time I hear this track, I’m surprised it never rose higher than #36 on the charts. Backed by the members of Pilot, singer Lenny Zakatek, who would also sing of later APP hits gives a soulful reading over a dark, chunky disco beat. With its ominous Rhodes chords slinking in and then sliding the song out, you would never hear this in a disco, but you may hear in the background of a bar scene on Baretta. Then again it may make you wanna dance the robot.

Right Time Of The Night by Jennifer Warnes (Arista, 1977)

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Quick trivia question: Which artist has sang on the most number of songs to win an Academy Award for Best Original song? That’s right, Jennifer Warnes with 3 (It Goes Like It Goes, Up Where We Belong, (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life). And although she doesn’t have any of that hardware on her mantel, I’m sure she’s quite satisfied knowing it was her performance that put the song over the top and got those writers their award. In fact I’m sure Jennifer is pleased to have the career she’s had. Many singers don’t have a #1 song to boast about: she has two. And it only took her 10 years to have her first hit single, which she parlayed into another 10 years of success.

Jennifer got her start in music working in the LA folk scene in the mid-to-late 60s, making connections with musicians like Jose Feliciano and a comedy show writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. After a short stint as a background singer on said show, she got a record contract with Parrot and put out 2 albums in the late 60s to little fanfare. It was during the turn of the decade when she met singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen and began singing back up on tours and albums for him. Another album came and went in 1972 and Jennifer waited for the next opportunity.

That came in 1976 via Clive Davis who was now running Arista Records, which was owing much of their success to emergence of soft rock balladeers, such as Barry Manilow and Melissa Manchester. Jennifer worked her mellow alto into a solid LP ready for release. But Clive didn’t hear any hits and yada, yada, yada….you know where this story is going. A last minute addition to Jennifer’s Arista debut came in the form of a song written by Peter McCann and recorded by a pre-fame John Travolta 4 years earlier. The lyrics Peter wrote were deemed a little too masculine. So lines like:

We’ll go drinkin’ in some heavy bar
I’ll take you night ridin’ in my chevy car
When it’s me and you baby
We could think of somethin’ to do

were changed to the more feminine:

No use cryin’ when the shadows fall
Night bird’s callin’, and he says it all
You and me baby
We could think of somethin’ to do

OK, let’s compare the two. The guy version assumes that the couple is gonna get drunk, drive to a remote spot and get it on. Yes, it’s the guy’s suggestion, but it sounds like they may have had this plan before. Why couldn’t Jennifer couldn’t sing those lyrics? She’s already coming on to the guy and telling him the time is right to make love.

The lady’s version starts off with a denial of tears. Ok, who’s tears are you talking about? If someone in this equation is bawling, then it’s definitely not the right time for, um, balling. And what other night bird is there except an owl? And if he’s chirping Who? Who?, what exactly is he trying to say? Or maybe he’s just crunching on a Tootsie Pop.

Regardless I think the original lyrics were fine and more in tune with this song’s country leanings. Rock that pedal steel…Weeeee-oooooh! In fact Jennifer took this 45 into the Country Top 20 as well as Top 10 Pop and #1 Adult Contemporary and secured her place as one of the Whitest songs to bump uglies to. Know anyone who was conceived in early May 1977 aka the right time?

Heaven On The 7th Floor by Paul Nicholas (RSO, 1977)

When I was younger, and I had the rare chance of being allowed to have a can of soda, I always made sure that it counted. That’s why I always chose Welch’s Grape soda. No Coke, no Pepsi. Just the sweet taste of crisp Concord grape corn syrup with that tart fizzy finish. I loved it so much that I would get into the habit of burping up whatever I just gulped down to get one last taste and make sure I didn’t miss anything. That’s what Paul Nicholas’ Heaven On The 7th Floor reminds of, those few unpopped bubbles of sugary carbon dioxide rather than that first blast of goodness. Or to use another food analogy, this song is like a Rice Krispie – a quick pop, then it turns to mush, and disappears.

This song should have been sold on the back of a cereal box. But even that would be a slight to those late 60s/early 70s Archies sound-a-like thin 7 inchers, which had more teeth than this. [of course, after 3 mixing bowls full of Trix, what kid had any teeth left anyway.] It was also perfect for AM radio, because there was hardly any bottom end to it to begin with, like Tinkerbell singing lead on Brick House. This should have used in White Cloud toilet paper ads, but it was probably forgotten about within 10 seconds after it was played. I can imagine this being played as the Muzak as you enter the pearly gates, only to realize that it’s on repeat and you’re actually in hell.

Paul Nicholas was and probably is more well-known as an actor, mostly in UK. He looked so much like a baby Peter Frampton, he was cast as his younger brother in the film, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band . [which killed everyone’s career associated with it] From its opening sprightly lil harp brrrrring, you feel like you entered a Dentyne commercial. And the lyrics don’t help or make any sense:

Going up, she said, uh, huh
Just as we had started to climb together
Looking up, I said, ‘Hey, look, umm
Maybe I could see you tonight and she said, never.

OK so we have a song wherein a helpful young woman gets hit on by some nervous dorky loser and immediately shoots him down. Bet he wishes he had some Dentyne.

Thought I was out of luck but ten seconds later
Somehow we got stuck in that elevator, woo

Whereas most people might panic, feel claustrophobic or wonder how they would get out of there, our singer takes this as a stroke of luck to get his bone smooched. Or at least he figures he can’t what we wants with this girl and no one can stop him. Guess they don’t have security cameras in that building yet.

Heaven on the 7th floor
Heaven on the 7th floor
I’ve never been so high before
So don’t you rescue me
Never set me free

Ok, first – this guy is breaking his elevator cherry by hitting 7 floors in a building for the first time and he thinks that qualifies him as a stud? Secondly how exactly is she supposed to not rescue him AND not set him free? Which one, dude? Gotta pick one. It really makes you think this guy is maybe only 12 and it’s the first time he has felt those funny feeling down yonder.


We’re alone, I said, oh yeah
Looks like we could be here all night together
There’s a phone, she said, uh huh
You’d better have us out in five minutes time, whatever

A couple of thoughts here – this woman can’t feel that threatened by this guy otherwise she’d pick up the phone and call the operator, cops, the nearest mental facility…Also how is this guy happy to be stuck in an elevator all night? I’m thinking he’s in his early 20’s and emotionally 12, but might have escaped from a recently abandoned ‘special’ hospital where he asks George to tell him about the rabbits.

Please could you make it ten, I told the operator
I’m having so much fun in this elevator

Yes Lenny, we’re gonna have a house someday.

And as the Muzak played, sooner or later
I knew we’d fall in love in the elevator.

If I was her I’d pick up the phone pronto, before he starts wearing your skin and singing this song.

Cold As Ice by Foreigner (Atlantic, 1977)

In the late 40s/early 50s, Long Island grew and expanded east. William Levitt built one of his famed Levittowns and the rest of the island was built using that paradigm. Further out past Levittown, where my mom was raised, was a burgeoning town founded as th Colony of Modern Times. Renamed Brentwood in the late 1800s, this area’s growth would explode in the 50s and using Levittown’s blueprint would create a utopian neighborhood with everything you need, mirroring the Village Greens.

In the middle of these pine tree laden neighborhoods, a small shopping center was erected. With a supermarket as an anchor, most would also include a pizzeria, laundromat, barber shop, gift store, etc. Our house was located just 2 blocks down the street from a Hills Supermarket with a liquor store, stationary store and barber shop. Light blues, lemon yellows and deco print as far as the eye could see, a place where Lucy and Ethel might shop. I would walk up to the stationary store with my dad and he would let me pick out one candy of my choice when he bought the Sunday Newsday.

As the neighborhood grew, a little strip was built on the other side of the road with a bakery on its corner. You could smell the fresh breads, cookies and cakes as you played on the front lawn. That strip would be brown and black featuring stores with no signs and eventually boards or bars on the windows and anchored by a drug store whose high windows would be covered in ads. Around the corner from the drug store was a block of stores we almost never ventured – a seedy bank, a dirty laundromat and a greasy pizzeria. There would always be loud music playing either from one of those places or a parked Monte Carlo with its doors open. Everyone smoked, everyone looked mean, everyone scared the hell out of me.

I don’t know how my mom washed our clothes when we were kids. I don’t remember a washer or dryer in our house and I don’t remember visiting that dank laundromat. I do have this scene in my head that may represent an amalgam of memories, of going up there to get a basket of wet clothes to hang on our line. The soundtrack to that memory is Cold As Ice by Foreigner.

That song does not fire an emotion, good or bad in me. It only serves as a spark, a key to a door of a time or scene in my life. And that’s about as much as the song means to me, which is good, because there’s not much there. How Foreigner racked up 8 Top 20 upbeat rock hits between 1977 & 1979, in a time seemingly reserved for disco and ballads, is a question not even 2XL could answer. Cold As Ice in particular with its plodding beat (How did drummer Dennis Elliot go from jazz rock band, If to Head Games? Only his accountant knows.) its hard rock veneer masking a synth pop band stole from the cliché basket as it added new ones. Check out this couplet:

You’re as cold as ice.
You’re willing to sacrifice our love.

You can imagine the clueless high fives going around the room when they wrote that. And check out this lyric, never written by Shakespeare:

You’re digging for gold.
You’re throwing away a fortune in feelings,
But someday you’ll pay.

Dammmmmn! What a goldbrickin’ bitch. You really got her good, guys. Speaking of feelings, Foreigner probably went over so well, because it’s rock devoid of any feelings whatsoever. Mick Jones played the guitar, but can you hum any licks that he ever cam up with? And what’s your favorite solo of his?………..that’s Ok, I can wait. Lou Gramm’s vocals made you think there was something there. But if passion is judged not by what’s on the edges, but by what’s in the middle, this song is a great big ol’ moonpie.

Still whenever I hear it, I can smell the Wisk on the walls.

Fly Like An Eagle by the Steve Miller Band (Capitol, 1977)

If you ever wondered what it was like to be high, but could not or did not want to smoke weed, all you needed to do was listen to Fly Like An Eagle by Steve Miller. This song is not about getting high. It’s about being high. Listen to the song very carefully. It’s seemingly just a little groovy jam. But Steve sets up the experience very well: the guitar riff that acts like the prep of the J or pipe or bong, the strong one note held by the organ as the deep inhale and then bass & organ slide letting it all out. Now sit back for 3 (or more) minutes of ‘flight’ and slip into the future. (Seal completely missed the point of this song and his remake reflects that.)

Steve didn’t always record simple songs. In fact from the days of backing Chuck Berry in the late 60s to his blues early 70s albums, Steve was always about jamming out and letting it go. But that’s not gonna get you far on the pop charts. So as the gangster of love molded a new image of himself to his fans, he started making his songs more radio-ready, to the point that he had his first #1 in 1974, The Joker. He had a tall task in following up his breakthrough LP. But he and his band wrote recorded 2 albums worth of decent material. And rather than release a double LP, Steve decided to release 2 albums separately, more than a year apart. It yielded him 6 Top 40 hits, 4 of which were Top 10s, including another #1, Rock N Me. It’s follow-up nearly matched its peak, but held at #2 while the Theme to A Star Is Born kept Steve from soaring the highest highs. (Steve’s former bandmate, Boz Scaggs had entered the Top 40 at #37 with Lido Shuffle as Eagle hung on to #2.) From what Steve has said in interviews, he polished his songs and kept them short for radio and sales, but left enough space to he could improvise long sets during his shows.

For me, this was a perfect song for running around my backyard, pretending, dreaming, creating movies for myself to star in, as sun flares blinded my eyes, during an usually warm Spring. I did want to fly like an eagle to the sea or wherever the wind would take me. But I was always confused by the verses about feeding the babies who don’t have enough to eat and then ‘shooting’ the children with no shoes on their feet. Why should we shoot them? Maybe it’s not their fault they don’t have no shoes on. Wait, does this mean I can’t run around barefoot? Oh, I see, shoe the children. You see I was only 6. I didn’t know you could use shoe as a verb. Now I know. Although I will admit when I’m in Walmart, I’d like to shoot the parents with no shoes on their children’s feet.

Don’t Give Up On Us by David Soul (Private Stock, 1977)

In the 70s we had a handful of actors that branched out into second careers as singers. John Travolta hit the Top 10 in 1976 while acting as a Sweathog on Welcome Back Kotter. Cheryl Ladd hit top 40 in 1978 after replacing Farrah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels. Both of them used their status as a TV star to score pop hits. David Soul did it in reverse. He used his hype as a singer to score a job acting on TV. Which in turn gave him more clout to jumpstart his music career.

David Solberg was a rising folk singer in the mid to late 60s. Of course he needed to change a few things in order to separate himself from the pack. First he changed his name from the lawyer-sounding Solberg to Soul (alas, David never ventured into R&B). Second he started to wear a ski mask. That’s right – a ski mask. David thought he was too handsome to have his music taken seriously, so he covered his pretty face & hair in order for people to focus on his music. Once you’re done laughing, I will continue….cause it worked.

He got picked up by the Merv Griffin Show who had him on countless times billed as the Covered Man singing his songs. Then one episode Merv had the big reveal. David took off his mask and said, ” I am David Soul and want to be known for my singing.” or something to that nature. Well he had to put that on hold because he started to get TV gigs instead, first with a role on Here Comes The Bride and then after many guest episodes and TV movie appearances (The Disappearance of Flight 412 is a classic) he landed the part of Ken Hutchinson on Starsky & Hutch.

The show became very popular quickly so David decided to parlay this new fame into a recording contract with Private Stock record. He cut a LP in 1976, but it was held back by the record company because they didn’t hear any singles. Usually that would be the death knell for an artist, but instead he was hooked up with songwriter Tony Macauley, who already had hits such as Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse and Last Night (I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All) by the 5th dimension. He had a tune in his pocket called Don’t Give Up On US and let David listen to it. The story goes that he heard it on a Thursday, learned and recorded it over that weekend, had it mixed on Monday and was in record stores (in England) by Friday.

The song exploded in the UK and was quickly released in the US and added to David’s debut LP. It hit #1 on both sides of the pond in January of 1977. And it’s easy to see why it was a hit when it was – a soft, white marshmallow ballad that put on your stereo on a cold Winter night, snuggling by the fire with the one you love as you let the swooning strings help you get closer as you try to give it one more shot. And then you read the lyrics….

Don’t give up on us baby, don’t make the wrong seem right
The future isn’t just one night

Uh oh what did you do, David?

It’s written in the moonlight
And painted on the stars, we can’t change ours.

Did you ‘accidentally’ sleep with her friend or her sister? Why else would you be handing her this bullshit. And an ultimatum, to boot. ‘ So no matter what I do, to you, to us, to your friend, we belong together. So get over it.’

Don’t give up on us baby, we’re still worth one more try
I know we put the last one by.

Anyone want to guess what this means? Feels like David might screw up a lot and has to sing this song often.

Just for the rainy evening when maybe stars are few
Don’t give up on us. I know we can still come through

Again, I think he’s just trying to confuse the hell out of her, hoping that she just gives in and takes him back, if he would only shut up.

I nearly lost my head last night, you’ve got a right to stop believing
There’s still a little love left, even so

Ok now we’re getting down to brass tacks. There was an incident. And Davis, quick question – if there’s only a little love left, why shouldn’t she give up on us, meaning you.

Don’t give up on us baby, lord knows we’ve come this far
Can’t we stay the way we are?

The rap ain’t working. David’s getting desperate. He has one more plea. No growth. No love that gets bigger and deeper as the days roll on. Let’s just stay the same. We can pretend that it wasn’t me and your mom that you saw coming out of a Burger Chef bathroom at 2 AM. Will she go for it?

The angel and the dreamer who sometimes plays a fool.

Not sure who’s who, but we’ll assume that David is the one in la-la land.

Don’t give up on us. I know we can still come through.

Weak. That’s your pitch? Are you staring over her shoulder at someone else while you sing this? How about ‘I drive a Gran Torino.’ or ‘Huggy Bear will hook you up with some dynamite goldfish bowl platforms?’

Take a listen and see if you’d give Hutch a second chance…

I Like Dreamin’ By Kenny Nolan (20th Century, 1977)

Kenny Nolan was writing hit song after hit song in the mid-70s. So he decided to cut out the middle man and have though checks go right into his pocket. In late 1976 he released his first solo LP and a big #3 hit with I Like Dreamin’, a song that was perfect for a prom, wedding, folks playing the Lotto or two young lovebirds sitting by the fire with a glass of Almaden. It was My Eyes Adored You if the singer was in his room alone rather than singing to his lost love.

Ok who are we kidding? It’s about masturbating. Am I right? I like dreamin cause dreamin can make you mine...? Clearly this dude was spending more solo time in his bedroom than down at the Regal Beagle. Too cynical? Maybe. Or maybe it’s his fault cause he doesn’t go all out with his fantasies like some of us do. The best he can come up with is walking along the shores of a beach in St. Thomas. Clearly he just got the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, maybe with the Sylvander sisters or an older one with Cheryl Tiegs. Well, then I can’t blame him. But I wouldn’t just be hand in hand, kissin’ in the sand, living out the scene in From Here To Eternity.

But Ol’ Kenny likes dreamin’, closing my [his] eyes and feeling fine. His words, not mine. Then somehow he dreams progress and sees two little kids with this woman. He knocks up his fantasy in his dreams? What the hell – how about a little honeymoon period at least. Some might call this sweet. I think it’s a bit creepy to start whacking it to cover model and then start thinking about the children you’re gonna have with her. He likes holding you close and touching your skin, even if it’s in my [his]mind.

I don’t see how anyone can listen to this song and not think Kenny is a pervert. Remember this guy wrote Lady Maramalade, so we know he likes prostitutes. Never laid on hand on you, he made Frankie Valli sing. This guy hasn’t had any real relationships, but talks about it all the time. Either he’s 13 or he’s a serial killer.

Listen and you decide:

Couldn’t Get It Right by Climax Blues Band (Sire, 1977)

Ah the good ol’ days – when a record company would let you record a bunch of albums, giving you time to find your breakout hit. It took the Climax Blues Band until their 9th LP (5th with Sire Records) to finally hit the pop charts with Couldn’t Get It Right which hit #3 in early 1977. But by the time that happened, this UK band, formally named the Climax Chicago Blues Band, neither reminded anyone of Chicago and the climax never came. All that was left was the blues.

This song was written, like so many are, by being forced by the record company to write a hit, so they accidentally do. [Wait, that does contradict my opening statement, doesn’t it?] It’s a story that talks about the band on the road and their experiences, especially with New York & L.A. Their comparison of the 2 cities is actually something they did get right. In N.Y. they were a no account fatality and in L.A. they were felt alright, got down, almost drowned and can’t get back they way they used to be. That sounds right for 1977. Even Woody Allen would agree with that one, and did later in the year with Annie Hall.

One nice touch in the song is the vocals. One goes high, the other goes low, especially when he drowwwwwned. [I think Lenny Kravitz built a lot of his vocal style from that note, and of course Curtis Mayfield and Ray Parker Jr.] And you gotta dig that the lead vocalist was also a sax player. The dual vocals, an octave apart, became a distinctive part of the CBB sound. The only other band I can think of that regularly utilized that singing style was Squeeze.

But really I think these guys are being too hard on themselves. What they can’t get right is trying to get through the night. Guys, it’s OK, you can rest – go to sleep. Or is that light you’re looking for, a Motel 6 and you keep missing the exit?