There must be something wrong with me.
It is sunny, scarcely a cloud in the sky, and 85 degrees on this summer day in Wisconsin. I am sitting inside, listening to music and writing.
It isn’t all that different from the summer of 1970, when I would sit inside — probably on gorgeous days just like today — and listen to the rock, pop, soul, R&B, country and easy listening tunes that poured out of my Panasonic AM/FM radio.
That summer, plenty of sunny pop goodness poured out of that radio. In the middle of July 1970, two such songs neatly wrapped a message for the times inside compositions that blended pop and gospel.
“United We Stand,” Brotherhood of Man, from “United We Stand,” 1970. It’s out of print. The tune is available on “Brotherhood of Man: Golden Classics,” a 1994 CD release.
Though widely interpreted otherwise with the Vietnam War raging at the time, this is a love song, and one from England at that.
The lead singer is Tony Burrows. He also was the lead singer in Edison Lighthouse, White Plains and the Pipkins, all studio groups that scored hits in 1970. Believe it or not, that got him banned by the BBC. Burrows explains in the August 2010 issue of Mojo magazine:
“The producer (of ‘Top of the Pops’) said, ‘Word has come from above that you’re not to be used any more. People are beginning to think it’s a con.’ They banned me from ‘Top of the Pops.’ I was not played by the BBC for two years.”
“Save the Country,” the 5th Dimension, from “Portrait,” 1970. It’s out of print but is available on this 2-on-1 CD along with “Love’s, Lines, Angles and Rhymes” from 1971.
This is another of the great songs written by Laura Nyro and turned into a hit by the 5th Dimension. That said, I’ve always thought it would have been stronger had it ended 4 seconds sooner. Does it really need that “Now!” on the end?
If you want only one studio LP from the 5th Dimension, this might be the one. Five of its eight cuts were released as singles, including “Puppet Man” and “One Less Bell To Answer.” There also are fine covers of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright” and the Rascals’ “People Got To Be Free.”
The Leroy Neiman painting on the cover is just icing on the cake.