Top 5: Left Behind

There’s an interesting survey over at ARSA from Norfolk, Virginia, dated March 7, 1972. It shows the top 30 singles “as featured on All Hit Music WNOR” and the “Tidewater’s Top Albums, as featured 24 hours a day on WNOR-FM.” The hits you’d expect to find on both charts from 40 years ago this spring are there and at the top—Neil Young, America, Paul Simon, Yes, Nilsson—but we are, as usual, more interested in the obscurities further down, especially on the album chart.

14. Lay It All Out/Barry Mann. The great songwriter (with Cynthia Weil) sang a hit in 1961, “Who Put the Bomp.” This album featured a couple of the most famous Mann/Weil songs, “On Broadway” and a folkish version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” The Allmusic.com review of the album suggests that it was a missed opportunity for Mann to capitalize on the early 70s singer/songwriter movement. Hear the very good “Too Many Mondays” here.

15. It’s Been a Long Time Comin’/Street Christians. In November 1971, Billboard said, “Another group, seemingly in the Jesus rock streak of recording, the Street Christians style is different.” But not too different: Billboard said that several of their songs “are in the current superstar tradition,” whatever that is. “It is the unique sound of this group that FM and Top 40 listeners will enjoy. Sales will follow.” Perhaps, but not enough to chart. Hear “It’s Been a Long Time Comin’” here.

Parenthetical aside: In the early 1970s, the hippies of the 60s gave up saving the world and turned inward to save themselves. The “Jesus movement” even reached into my relatively staid hometown Methodist church. Several members got into the whole charismatic, speaking-in-tongues bit; for years thereafter, when the house went quiet, I wondered if the Rapture had occurred. (I just assumed that I would be Left Behind.) At some point around 1972, our church held a revival week, featuring a number of speakers from around the country. I clutched my copy of The Living Bible and went to the youth-oriented sessions. The most vivid memory that remains after 40 years is of the young girl—late teens, early 20s, maybe—who led one of the sessions. She told us, with a celestial light gleaming in her eye, that she thought it would be really cool to die, because then she could see what heaven would be like. That seemed to my 12-year-old self like the words of someone who was missing the entire point of living. No wonder I was getting Left Behind.

20. Big Screen, Little Screen/Henry Mancini. I have no idea what this is doing here, although it features a version of “Theme from Shaft” and TV themes including All in the Family, Ironside, The Tonight Show, and the NBC Mystery Movie.

22. Hallway Symphony/Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds. The first HJF&R album featured “Don’t Pull Your Love” and “Annabella.” Hallway Symphony, the second, is full of easy-going pop numbers, none as memorable as those two, and its laid-back vibe borders on sleepy. It has a version of “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I’ve Got” recorded before the Four Tops hit with theirs—both groups were on ABC, and the writers of “Ain’t No Woman,” Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, had written “Don’t Pull Your Love.” There’s also a medley of  “Bridge Over Troubled Water and “You’ve Got a Friend.” Hallway Symphony‘s lack of success got the group dropped by its label.

And one from the singles chart:

30. “When the Bell Rings”/Newport News. Since Newport News, Virginia, is part of the Tidewater region, these guys were probably local. The song, co-written by Austin Roberts (“Something’s Wrong With Me,” “Rocky”), was also recorded by the Gene Simmons/Paul Stanley pre-KISS band Wicked Lester. Oddly enough, the unreleased Wicked Lester album also includes two songs from Barry Mann’s Lay It All Out.

If that’s not the appropriate place to end this post, there is none.

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5 responses

  1. I’ve never heard H, J, F and Reynolds’ version of “Ain’t No Woman” but I can imagine the only thing that kept it from being a hit was that Levi Stubbs wasn’t singing on their version.

  2. Hamilton, JF & Reynolds broke up following the lack of success of ‘Hallway Symphony’ and its sole single, “One Good Woman” and Tommy Reynolds’ subsequent departure. (Reynolds was in Shango *prior* to HJF & R, contrary to Wikipedia.)

    Dunhill wasn’t entirely done with the act at that point. Here’s the quote from the label’s promo picture sleeve for Danny Hamilton & Spoondrift’s “Don’t Wait Up For Me Tonight,” released in August, 1972:

    “This is Danny Hamilton. Danny is the former lead singer of Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds. He’s just formed a new group called Spoondrift. You’ll be hearing a lot more of them on their forthcoming album, but for now here’s their single. We think it’s a smash!”

    It wasn’t, of course; the single didn’t make any of Billboard’s charts and the promised album never materialized. But it doesn’t deserve its obscurity. “Don’t Wait Up” was another top-notch Lambert-Potter composition, with the usual HJF&R Steve Barri production and Jimmie Haskell strings and horn arrangement. It was also probably three years ahead of its time, foreshadowing the mellow success the reconstituted HJF&R/D found in 1975.

    The Friends Of Distinction also had a pretty good version of “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got) which surfaced a week or two after the Tops’ single release (RCA buried it on the B-side of the FOD’s cover of Alan O’Day’s “Easy Evil,” issued that March.)

    1. I expect that most amongst the readership know that HJF&R would return to the charts in ’75 with “Fallin’ in Love,” and probably also know that Alan Dennison replaced Reynolds, but the group didn’t change its name. Also from that period came the superb “Winners and Losers,” which I listened to three or four times in a row the other day while writing this post.

  3. apparently some group members were also in the T-Bones (No Matter What Shape). Here they are in “Nightmare in Wax” with bikini-ed go-go girls dancing to their lame Gary Lewis sound-a-like….

    Yep JB those two later 70′s cuts are great; hearing them takes me back to that time like few other songs can.

  4. Holy crap that Newport News track is great!

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