That ’70s song, Vols. 27 and 28

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.


Filed under July 2010, Sounds

7 responses to “That ’70s song, Vols. 27 and 28

  1. I miss the radio sometimes. It’s weird being old enough to have seen the paradigm shift more than once.

  2. “Puppet Man”. Most likely my favorite. Still have it on my playlist and turn it up each and every time it burrows itself up.

  3. In addition to my above reply – I seem to remember (and I’m positive about this) that “Puppet Man” was played on a detective TV show sometime in the 70’s. The 5th were on the show also. Maybe one of the lesser known shows like Cannon? Anyone?

  4. JLS

    Yes, the song needs NOW at the end. Laura wrote it that way and it fits into the whole story.

  5. Tough call on which 5th Dimenson album is the best to put on the shelves/turntable. I lean toward “Age of Aquarius” mostly because it was the first one I had and because of the title track. And I’ve had about all of “One Less Bell” as I need. “Save The Country” is a fine track, though. (And I still like the hits from all of those Burrows “groups” you mention. Funny, though: I recall that I always used to get Edison Lighthouse’s and White Plains’ hits confused. For good reason, I guess.)

  6. Ok, a week after starting to look for it (not that it’s exciting news anyway), I found that Puppet Man performed by the 5th Dimension was included in an episode of “It Takes A Thief” back in the 70’s.

    Everyone stop holding your breath now.

  7. Talk about trippy art, thanks for helping relive the golden years.

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