Tag Archives: 1976

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

Take me to the water

Yesterday was one of those beautiful days on which good memories wash over you.

Good memories of our Aunt Carol, whose life we celebrated. She was 89 when she died a week ago. She was the last of my six aunts.

The good memories come from times spent at family gatherings with our cousins, her four kids. Of all the cousins on Mom’s side of the family, we were closest to them. We all were roughly the same age and they lived closest to us.

Fun fact: Though I always knew Aunt Carol came from a family of skiers, it was fun to see old pictures of her at the local ski hill as part of a women’s ski team and as a ski model, both from the late ’40s or maybe the earliest ’50s.

Yesterday also was one of those gorgeous blue-sky summer days on which seemingly everyone in Wisconsin makes a beeline to the water.

Good memories of that, too, as I drove along the Wisconsin River from Stevens Point north to Wausau, my aunt’s hometown and more or less my hometown. There were tons of people at the taverns along the river, where you can park in the parking lot or at the dock. There were big floats on Lake DuBay, dozens of pontoons and smaller boats tied together for sun-splashed parties.

That took me right back to the mid-’70s, any summer from 1972 to 1977.

On summer days like this, we’d walk out the door and think “OK, where are we going to get into the water today?”

We could go to Yellow Banks, an old swimming hole on a small, lazy river. When it became a park, they gave it some gentrified name that escapes me, but everyone still called it Yellow Banks. Eventually, the powers that be conceded the point, and the park became Yellow Banks Park.

We could go to the Kennedy Park pool or the Rothschild pool. Once in a long while, we’d drive across town to Manmade, which was a small lake that was exactly as advertised.

If our friend Herb had his dad’s car and boat, we’d put in at Bluegill Bay and go water skiing on Lake Wausau. Which was fine until Herb cracked the whip and you wiped out while slaloming, losing your ski and somersaulting on top of the water and coming to rest on top of a boulder that’s just below the surface of the water.

But of all the places we could go, The Dells was the biggest adventure. We’d hop on our bikes and ride 19 miles from my friend’s house to The Dells, some of it on fairly busy back roads. Once there, you’d sit atop the rocks that formed The Dells of the Eau Claire River and watch the daredevils jump into the pool at the base of the rocks.

Here, look. The experience hasn’t changed much since the mid-’70s, although the daredevils back then were pretty much straight-up cannonballers.

Nope, I never did that. Drank a few beers on top of the rocks, but never did that.

It was ..

“Hot Fun,” Stanley Clarke, from “School Days,” 1976.

My friend Emery reminded me of this when he shared it yesterday. I’ve had that record since it came out back then.

Daredevils aside, and truth be told, the vibe of those long-ago summers seemed more like this …

“Summer,” War, from “War’s Greatest Hits,” 1976.

Fun fact: The single was released on my birthday, the day I turned 19 in June 1976.

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Filed under June 2019, Sounds

She slipped away

We were more a small family than co-workers. We were young, all in our 20s, some of us barely in our 20s. There were eight, maybe 12 of us in all.

We’d work like mad at the Grand Avenue Pizza Hut on Friday and Saturday nights, then get together after work to decompress until the wee hours of the morning. Between work and play, we spent a lot of time together. We grew close.

That’s how Susan and I came to be a couple. We’re at upper left in the photo above. It’s from 1976 or 1977.

We were friends first, and then she and I eventually paired off.

Susan didn’t like to go out. I think we had one date that could be called a conventional date. Which was fine. She was more comfortable with joining our Pizza Hut pals at their places or with the two of us hanging out in the living room at her house, watching the late-late Saturday night horror movies.

We were together for a short time. She was the first to realize that we were better as friends than as a couple. So she broke it off. That stung, but we remained friends, still working side by side at the Pizza Hut.

We were tight, our Pizza Hut family. Kerry, the guy with the black hair and mustache on the bottom of the picture, was the wise big brother I never had. Kerry was in his mid-20s, a soft-spoken Navy vet who mentored me — five years younger — on a lot of aspects of life.

Mary, the young woman on the other side of me in that picture, was the spitfire big sister I never had.

I messaged Mary this morning with the news that Susan has died. Complications of ALS, which neither of us knew she had. Gone too soon.

[We also lost Kerry too soon, 10 years ago now.]

Susan and I saw each other only once later in life, at our 30-year high school class reunion in 2005. It was awkward. I’d heard she was reluctant to go. We said hi, but she seemed surprised that I would be there. Truth be told, I was surprised she was there. She hadn’t been one for class reunions.

Perhaps they were out of her comfort zone. Susan’s obituary suggests she spent her life after the Pizza Hut much as she spent it with us, more comfortable at home, and with her family. Which, again, is fine.

Susan and I weren’t together long enough to have a song that was ours. But this one was part of the soundtrack provided by the jukebox as we worked together at the Grand Avenue Pizza Hut in Wausau, Wisconsin.

“More Than A Feeling,” Boston, from “Boston,” 1976.

Hearing this song always takes me straight back to that time.

So many people have come and gone / Their faces fade as the years go by

Yet I still recall as I wander on / As clear as the sun in the summer sky

I heard it while working out last night, before I read the news about Susan.

I hide in my music, forget the day / And dream of a girl I used to know

I closed my eyes and she slipped away / She slipped away

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Filed under February 2018

Still not my (trick-or-treat) bag

At the Green Bay Record Convention on Saturday, one of the record diggers asked whether I had any spooky or eerie music. No, sorry. But I did have a suggestion. So here, adapted from a blog post written 10 years ago, is my take on Halloween and my recommendation for that gent.

Halloween is not my thing.

We always went trick-or-treating when we were kids, but we never had the cool costumes. Our parents raised three boys on a rather modest income, so we would get a mask — usually a popular cartoon character — and that would be about it. Just the way it was.

Masks meant a choice of the lesser of two evils: Wear my glasses under the mask and have the mask not fit properly, or go without my glasses and not see anything clearly. I remember going as Superman because it was easy enough to scare up a cape, and you didn’t need a mask. (And you could take the glasses on and off as needed.)

On Halloween 1970, we were visiting my grandmother, so we had to go trick-or-treating in her town that Saturday night. Grandma lived in an old rental house in a rundown neighborhood hard by the railroad tracks in a small central Wisconsin town. We were kids, so we never really noticed. It was just Grandma’s neighborhood.

My brothers and I — we were 13, 11 and 6 — had covered a couple of blocks when we walked up to a low-slung one-story house with a flat roof and a bunch of junk in the yard. It faced the tracks. We rang the doorbell and shouted “Trick or treat!”

After a short while, the door creaked open and a disheveled middle-aged woman peered out. Startled, it took her a couple of moments to comprehend what we were doing there. I was only 13, but somehow, I knew what was going on. She wasn’t expecting anyone.

The woman didn’t say much — maybe “Oh, my” — and then walked away from the door. Through the screen door, we saw her rummaging around a table. She came back to the door and dropped a couple of pennies into each of our bags.

The woman who wasn’t expecting anyone didn’t have anything to give anyone, either. I suppose we kept on trick-or treating that night, but that was it for me. Done forever.

I’ve always wondered whether the kids in that little town just knew — or were told — not to go down to that house. We were visitors, and kids, and didn’t know any better.

Ever since, Halloween has not been my thing.

However, in the spirit of the season, I will confess …

gomeztish.jpg

— I greatly prefer “The Addams Family” over “The Munsters.” Make of that what you will.

— Horror movies? Also not my thing, though I watched enough of them late at night in the mid-’70s. I had a girlfriend who liked them more than she liked me. The ones I enjoyed most had Vincent Price in them. He was cool, as my friend Andrew explained long ago in one of his lovingly crafted Halloween countdown posts over at Armagideon Time.

— I like “The Cask of Amontillado,” an Edgar Allan Poe story in which a man is plied with wine, then sealed behind a brick wall and left to die. I discovered it in high school. Some 20 years later, in 1995, I also dug the “Homicide: Life on the Streets” episode partly based on that story.

“The Cask of Amontillado” also is one of the cuts on the only album I associate with Halloween. It is, of course, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” the first album by the Alan Parsons Project. It’s a prog rock concept album based on Poe’s stories.

By the mid-’70s, Parsons was highly regarded for his work as an engineer on albums by the Beatles, Paul McCartney, the Hollies and Pink Floyd. He then became a producer, then created “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” with Eric Woolfson, who pitched him the idea.

More than 200 musicians played on that 1976 album, which was arranged by Andrew Powell.

You know “The Raven” from that album. It wasn’t the single — that was “(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” — but it became more widely played, and rightly so.

So, for your Halloween listening pleasure … two treats only. No tricks.

“The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the Alan Parsons Project, from “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” 1976.

(Arthur Brown does the wild vocals on the latter.)

My copy is the original vinyl. I haven’t heard the late ’80s CD version, to which Parsons added readings by Orson Welles and extra synthesizers.

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Filed under October 2017, Sounds

The rest of the story

When last we left you, the kid with the red bag was sharing his finds from last weekend’s Green Bay Record Convention.

One of them was this record, which I’ve had since the ’70s.

j geils bloodshot

“It’s on red vinyl!” the kid with the red bag said.

Ooooh, I thought, wish I’d found that. But then I let it go. It was more fun for the kid with the red bag to have that red vinyl.

Fast forward to today, a week later.

I walk into Rock N’ Roll Land, one of our fine indie record stores in Green Bay. I am scarcely two steps in the door before my friend Todd reaches behind the counter and pulls out a record.

“Here you go! I knew I had a copy” he said, smiling gleefully.

bloodshot my red vinyl

Not only did Todd have a copy, but it was one of the dollar records. It has a bad skip or scratch. Doesn’t matter because I already have a good copy, albeit on black vinyl.

Thanks, man. It’s a fun thing to have, a wonderful gesture and much appreciated.

Proof again that you should visit your local record store on Saturday afternoon. You might find a nice record like this.

j geils blow your face out lp

“(Ain’t Nothing But A) House Party,” J. Geils Band, from “Blow Your Face Out,” 1976, one of the greatest of all live records. Also available digitally. It’s the scorching live version of their cover of The Showstoppers’ 1967 hit, first recorded by the J. Geils Band for “Bloodshot.”

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Filed under March 2016, Sounds

For sweet Meadowlark

One of the great joys of growing up in the ’70s was experiencing the last days of free-form FM radio. Even in central Wisconsin, our local top-40 station turned freaky late at night.

After 10 p.m., the WIFC jocks played anything and everything. There were deep album cuts from David Bowie and Uriah Heep followed by mind-blowing cuts from Gil Scott-Heron and the jazz sax player Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

My introduction to Rahsaan Roland Kirk in 1976 was “Theme For The Eulipions,” which was the first cut from an album called “The Return of the 5,000 Lb. Man.” That noirish tune oozes cool over its 9-plus minutes.

After buying that record at Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau, Wisconsin — which was cool enough to stock it — I found a most pleasant surprise.

The album’s second cut is a rollicking cover of “Sweet Georgia Brown” done in a roadhouse style familiar to anyone who knows how the Harlem Globetrotters used the song as their theme.

rahsaanrolandkirk500lbmanlp

“Sweet Georgia Brown,” Rahsaan Roland Kirk, from “The Return of the 5,000 Lb. Man,” 1976. It features Hank Jones on piano and Milt Hinton on bass.

This is for the wonderful Meadowlark Lemon, the Globetrotters star who died Sunday. He was 83.

We watched him countless times on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” By the time I was old enough to take myself to see the Globetrotters in their annual New Year’s Eve game in Milwaukee, Meadowlark had left the team.

Now I kinda wish I’d bought this Meadowlark Lemon funk/soul/disco record when I came across it while digging for records in my friend Jim’s back yard a few years ago. It’s from 1979.

meadowlark lemon my kids

 

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Filed under December 2015, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 2

No requests yet, but the dashboard shows people searching for a certain Philly band’s Christmas music.

So we’ll make that wish come true tonight.

salsoulxmasjolliescd

“Christmas Medley,” the Salsoul Orchestra, from “Christmas Jollies,” 1976.

This is 12 minutes of soul, salsa and dance bliss, putting together “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Jingle Bells,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “The Christmas Song,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “The First Noel” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

You need this at your Christmas party. Don’t get too far away from the mistletoe as you get down to this.

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds