Top 5: Nobody You Ever Heard Of

Back in the day, down in St. Louis, KADI and KSHE duked it out for rock radio supremacy. There’s a survey at ARSA from KADI dated January 8, 1971, charting the week’s top albums. It’s topped by Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Pendulum, out three weeks and zooming to #1 from #13. Other big stars of 1971 are represented, including the Kinks, Ten Years After, John Lennon, and Van Morrison, and several famous albums are, too: All Things Must Pass, Jesus Christ Superstar, Abraxas, Tumbleweed Connection. But what jumps out are the titles and artists that are utterly unknown today. Such as:

6. Homer/Various Artists (up from 17). Homer was a low-budget Canadian coming-of-age flick set in Wisconsin, and it sank pretty much without a trace upon its release in the fall of 1970. Somehow, the producers rounded up an A-list soundtrack with songs by the Byrds, the Buffalo Springfield, Cream, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and Led Zeppelin. Because we believe in bringing you incredible entertainment value, you can watch the whole movie right here.

16. World’s End/Andwella (first week on). An Irish band starring nobody you ever heard of. All evidence points to these guys having played proggy psychedelia with a liberal sprinkling of both folk-rock touches and heavy blues riffs, plus the kitchen sink. There’s quite a number of Andwella tracks at YouTube, including “Hold On to Your Mind,” which isn’t bad.

29. Biff Rose/Biff Rose (first week on). New Orleans-born folksinger who went to New York City in the early 60s, where he became what he called “an acceptable middle-class hippie” with a wife and kid. He landed a job on a TV variety show, where his writing partner was a guy named George Carlin. His humorous songs eventually got him onto the Tonight Show, where he appeared a dozen times. By 1973 or so, he was struggling again, although his songs were eventually recorded by acts as divergent as John Denver and David Bowie—and in fact he’s considered by some to be a major influence on Bowie’s early career. Rose’s most famous song is probably “Buzz the Fuzz,” which appeared on his first album in 1968. (More about Rose here.)

32. Stranded/Edwards Hand (first week on). The group is two guys—Rod Edwards and Roger Hand—whose first album was produced by George Martin at a time when he otherwise worked exclusively with the Beatles. Stranded was their second, and features British session veteran Clem Cattini and future King Crimson and Asia member John Wetton. Because this is 1971 we’re talking about, the album contains two lengthy multi-part suites. A part of one of them is called “Revolution’s Death Man!,” which would have been considered heavy in both senses of the word back then.

39. A Pause in the Disaster/Conception Corporation (first week on). A comedy group along the lines of Firesign Theater, Conception Corporation’s densely layered theater-of-the-mind recordings would have gone over well on album-oriented “underground” rock stations. The group included Second City alumni Murphy Dunne and Ira Miller. Conception Corporation’s career on records ran out of gas—so to speak—when its label underwent a financial reorganization spurred in part by the oil crisis of the early 70s and, presumably, the cost of making vinyl. “Searchin’” is a Cheech-and-Chongesque bit that’s probably funnier after you spark up a couple, and that was probably the idea.

In one of those coincidences that happen all the time when you research the obscure corners of the Internet long enough and thoroughly enough, the man who owned KADI in 1971, St. Louis radio hall-of-famer Richard Miller, died just days ago, right after Christmas, at age 81.

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2 responses

  1. There’s a really awful vocal note in the middle of that ANDWELLA song, but otherwise not a bad little track. Reminds me some of the Faces. I wonder if all of that percussion nonsense in the background is a result of the success of Steam?

  2. Ah yes, Murphy Dunne, forever known to me as That Guy In The Blues Brothers Who Wasn’t Paul Shaffer.

    (The coverage of Duck Dunn’s death last year generally failed to mention that a Murph and the Magictones reunion tour was now totally off the table.)

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