The black-and-white snapshot

My "Boston" record from 1976.

As noted yesterday on Facebook …

Boston’s debut album was released on yesterday’s date in 1976 — Aug. 25, 1976. I bought my copy at Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau not long after yesterday’s date in 1976.

Other records I bought in 1976:

  • The Alan Parsons Project’s “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”
  • The Eagles’ “Hotel California”
  • “The Best of George Harrison”
  • The J. Geils Band’s “Live/Blow Your Face Out”
  • Jackson Browne’s “The Pretender”
  • KISS’ “Destroyer”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “One More From The Road”
  • Poco’s “Rose of Cimarron”
  • Stanley Clarke’s “School Days”
  • Synergy’s “Sequencer”
  • “Wings Over America”

I also bought records by Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, Kansas, Ted Nugent, Rainbow and ZZ Top in 1976, but I no longer have them.

Now, though, I look at those records and it’s a bit unsettling. Save for Stanley Clarke, where are the artists of color?

It is a snapshot of my life in 1976. Most of what I bought is what was on the radio in 1976, broadcast to a predominately white audience in central Wisconsin. Sure, there were songs by artists of color on the radio and played in the clubs, and I dug a fair number of them, but I don’t recall a lot of demand for soul, R&B and disco records. I clearly wasn’t demanding them.

I was 18, then 19, in 1976. I knew exactly one black person, a guy named Clarence Jenkins, a friend of a friend. He lived in an apartment above one of the downtown movie theaters. We went to the same two-year University of Wisconsin campus in Wausau. I didn’t know Clarence well at all.

I’d always liked soul and R&B music. I was introduced to it by WLS radio out of Chicago and WOKY out of Milwaukee before I was in my teens. But my knowledge of soul and R&B music was shallow, rarely going beyond the Top 40.

Fast forward to today. Much of my record digging over the last 15 or so years has been for ’60s and ’70s soul and R&B music that I either heard but overlooked back then or had never heard. These are some records from 1976 that I’ve since acquired. Most fall into the Heard But Overlooked Back Then category.

  • Eddie Kendricks’ “Goin Up In Smoke”
  • Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “All Their Greatest Hits”
  • MFSB’s “Summertime”
  • Rhythm Heritage’s self-titled debut LP
  • Rose Royce’s “Car Wash” soundtrack
  • The Salsoul Orchestra’s “Nice ‘N’ Naasty”
  • The Spinners’ “Happiness Is Being With The Spinners” and “It’s A Shame”
  • Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In The Key Of Life”
  • Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn The Beat Around” 12-inch single
  • War’s “Greatest Hits”
  • “Phillybusters, Vol. IV,” a compilation of Philadelphia International singles

And, no, these records aren’t all that adventurous even now. But it is progress, and a work in progress.

Eddie Kendricks Goin' Up In Smoke LP

“Goin’ Up In Smoke,” Eddie Kendricks, from “Goin’ Up In Smoke,” 1976.

Phillybusters, Vol. IV

“No Tell Motel,” Don Covay, from “Phillybusters, Vol. IV,” 1976.

Although this song isn’t from 1976 — it’s from a year earlier — it’s also on that “Phillybusters” comp from 1976. It’s a perfect mashup, a perfect illustration of what I’d heard on the radio and what I had not.

“I’m Not In Love,” Dee Dee Sharp, covering 10cc.

 

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Filed under August 2019, Sounds

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