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Ozmoe’s Hottest Debuts Vs. Biggest Movers: Part 3 -1970-1975

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Welcome to the third go-around!

Pitting the Top Three Hottest Debuts, (or ‘HD’…)

… Against the same number of Biggest Movers, (or ‘BM,’) each year on Billboard’s Hot 100!

I rank every HD and BM from 1 (worst) to 10 (best) and add up the scores to determine a winner. When ties in the number of contenders occur, I count the higher score among the two that tied.

The series is tied 6-6!

So, it’s time to go through the mid-1970s and see where things shake out now…

1970

  • The Beatles – “Let It Be”(entered at 6, peaked at 1)
  • The Beatles– The Long and Winding Road” (entered at 35, peaked at 1)
  • The Jackson Five – “I’ll Be There” (entered at 40, peaked at 1)
  • George Harrison – “My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It a Pity” (jumped 72-13, peaked at 1)
  • The Temptations – “Psychedelic Shack” (jumped 95-38, peaked at 7)
  • Elvis Presley – “Kentucky Rain” (jumped 96-40, peaked at 16)
  • “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road” are both elegiac tributes to what the Beatles had accomplished as the group broke up. I don’t have a problem with the production flourishes Phil Spector added to “The Long and Winding Road.” In fact, I find it appropriate.
  • Just as inspiring in another way is “I’ll Be There,” which showed the world Michael Jackson and his brothers could deliver a moving ballad with more heartfelt commitment than most singers double or triple their age.
  • Leaving aside its plagiarism lawsuit, “My Sweet Lord” is easygoing and endearing and worthy of a score of 9. But I rarely hear its flip side, “Isn’t It a Pity,” and for good reason: The long and somewhat plodding tune brings down George’s average by two notches.
  • “Psychedelic Shack” is a groovy rave but not one necessarily associated with the group’s greatest work. Indeed, it’s omitted from the stage musical about the group, Ain’t Too Proud.
  • As for Elvis: he showed that given the right material like the evocative “Kentucky Rain,” he was still the King of Rock and Roll. One of his all-time best.

HD Scores: “Let It Be”9 + “The Long and Winding Road”9 + “Z”10 = 28

BM Scores: “My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It a Pity”7 + “Psychedelic Shack”8 + “Kentucky Rain”10 = 25

Winner: Highest Debuts


1971

  • John Lennon – “Imagine”(entered at 20, peaked at 3)
  • The Rolling Stones Brown Sugar” (entered at 40, peaked at 1)
  • C Company Featuring Terry Nelson – “Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley” (entered at 41, peaked at 37)
  • Michael Jackson – “Got to Be There” (jumped 89-39, peaked at 4)
  • The Carpenters– “For All We Know” (jumped 87-39, peaked at 3)
  • David Cassidy – “Cherish” (jumped 87-40, peaked at 9)
  • “Imagine” is an enduring poetic ode to idealism set to music. It’s the hit defining how John Lennon lived, which makes it somber yet inspirational.
  • “Brown Sugar” always struck me as a great rock tune until I read the lyrics. Its misogynism and racism may have been fitting the Stones’ image in 1971, but now it’s just repellent. An A for music and an F for lyrics averages out to a medium score. 
  • “Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley” was a million seller that got scant airplay and deservedly so. Like an earlier entry in this series, “Dear John” by Jimmy Dean, it’s a spoken word record backed by a countrified version of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    Here, it’s to defend Officer William Calley, convicted of murdering innocent civilians as part of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1968. The song simplifies and dismisses the case of a man who later acknowledged having committed the heinous crimes while attacking those who protested the war. It’s one of the most morally disgusting songs to make the top 40. 
  • “Got to Be There” shows the remarkable vocal poise and dexterity Michael Jackson already had even entering his teens. A compelling listening experience to me each time.
  • As hits sung by the Carpenters that can be used in weddings, “For All We Know” is lesser than (They Long to Be) Close to You and We’ve Only Just Begun. But Karen’s vocals and Richard’s production work make the best out of a so-so composition.
  • David Cassidy had said that producer Wes Farrell forced him to record a remake of The Association’s 1966 hit “Cherish.” He does sound like he’s overenunciating at gunpoint at times. Farrell’s loud instrumental mix hurts the record’s mellowness too.

HD Scores: “Imagine” 10 + “Brown Sugar”5 + “Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley”1 = 16

BM Scores: “Got to Be There” 9  + “For All We Know”6 + “Cherish”3 = 18

Winner: Biggest Movers


1972

  • Al Green – “Look What You Done for Me”(entered at 44, peaked at 10)
  • The Rolling Stones Tumbling Dice” (entered at 50, peaked at 7)
  • Bread – “Sweet Surrender” (entered at 55, peaked at 10)
  • Wings – “Hi Hi Hi (jumped 100-42, peaked at 10)
  • Ringo Starr “Back Off Boogaloo” (jumped 88-42, peaked at 9)
  • The Chi-Lites – “Oh Girl” (jumped 80-35, peaked at 1)
  • Reportedly Al Green complained to his producer Al Mitchell not long after “Look What You Done for Me” that the latter was making his songs sound the same. I concur. It’s a production clearly meant to emulate “Let’s Stay Together” with little new to add in the lyrics and instrumentation. But Green does sound smooth despite it all.
  • “Tumbling Dice” has the Stones firing on all cylinders throughout, with clever lyrics, tight jamming and one of Mick Jagger’s best vocal performances ever.
  • “Sweet Surrender” is a lesser slice of Bread’s standard light rock that doesn’t have much excitement except for the bridge.
  • “Hi Hi Hi” probably got some attention because it’s really meaning High High High. Or maybe that held it back from hitting the top, I don’t know. It’s not a classic rocker due to some dubious lyrics, but pretty strong nonetheless thanks to Paul McCartney’s vocals and top work by participating musicians.
  • “Back Off Boogaloo” has even odder lyrics than “Hi Hi Hi.” Ringo often sounds buried in the mix, but despite these flaws producer Richard Perry makes it somewhat fun to hear.
  • Beating both ex-Beatles are the Chi-Lites: in the one of the most gorgeous and sincere sounding love ballads of the 1970s. 

HD Scores: “Look What You Done for Me” 6 + “Tumbling Dice”10 + “Sweet Surrender” 4 = 20

BM Scores: “Hi Hi Hi”7 + “Back Off Boogaloo” 6 + “Oh Girl” 9 = 22

Winner: Biggest Movers


1973

  • Roberta Flack – “Killing Me Softly With His Song” (entered at 54, peaked at 1)
  • The Moody Blues – “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band) (entered at 58, peaked at 12)
  • George Harrison – “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” (entered at 59, peaked at 1)
  • Maureen McGovern – “The Morning After(jumped 86-42, peaked at 1)
  • Elton John – “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” (jumped 74-34, peaked at 12)
  • Jim Croce – “I Got a Name” (jumped 76-40, peaked at 10)
  • “Killing Me Softly With His Song” still kills me every time I hear it, from start to finish. It’s Roberta Flack’s finest hour.
  • “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band) proves the Moody Blues can rock out strong when they want to do so. Good lyrics too.
  • “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” is lesser George Harrison. But that’s better than most other artists, and there’s nothing glaringly wrong with it.
  • “The Morning After” is one of the worst winners of the Oscar for Best Song ever. Rather stunning how this gloopy concoction became a hit after its win, and rather telling that it doesn’t get a full presentation in the movie it’s in, The Poseidon Adventure.
  • “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” shows Elton John in fun fighting form all right. One of his best 1970s rockers.
  • The huge leap for “I Got a Name” is attributable to the sudden death of Jim Croce. But the record has more than sentimentality going for it. It’s a great self-worth song and a worthy tribute to its originator.

HD Scores: “Killing Me Softly With His Song”10 + “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)”8 + “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”  – 7 = 25

BM Scores: “The Morning After”3 + “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” – 8 + “I Got a Name” – 8 = 19

Winner: Highest Debuts


1974

  • The Ohio Players – “Skin Tight(entered at 45, peaked at 13)
  • Elton John – Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (entered at 48, peaked at 1)
  • Dionne Warwicke and the Spinners – “Then Came You (entered at 51, peaked at 1)
  • Barry White – “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” (entered at 51, peaked at 1)
  • The Rolling Stones – “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)” (jumped 79-34, peaked at 16)
  • Stevie Wonder – “You Haven’t Done Nothing” (jumped 93-41, peaked at 1)
  • Elvis Presley – “Promised Land(jumped 86-48, peaked at 14)
  • Skin Tight” is funky and fun, although a little too repetitious for my taste at points.
  • As a remake, Elton makes Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds a distinctive variation, but not quite up to his other hits. It’s more interesting to analyze than hear, in my opinion. 
  • “Then Came You” was about the only good thing for Dionne Warwick when she added an “e” to her surname, hoping it would give her more success. It didn’t, and she didn’t get another chart hit until she dropped it in 1979. It’s a great collaboration with the Spinners and merits an 8 only because both acts had even better hits.
  • But Barry White edges them out here slightly with what may be his signature tune. It allows him all the vocal nuances he can and does apply for a great end result.
  • “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)” is the type of rock number other bands aspire to do when they ape the Rolling Stones. But few have the panache at every level to carry this off and make it a success the way Mick Jagger and the rest do here.
  • “You Haven’t Done Nothing” is my least favorite Stevie Wonder number one of the 1970s, sounding somewhat like a Superstition retread, but acceptable despite that tendency.
  • And to my surprise, “Promised Land” shows that Elvis still had top vocal chops with the right material. I know many critics would prefer Chuck Berry’s original, but Elvis more than holds his own with this version.

HD Scores: “Skin Tight” – 6 + “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – 7 + “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” – 9 = 22

BM Scores: “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)”8 + “You Haven’t Done Nothing”7 + “Promised Land”9 = 24

Winner: Biggest Movers


1975

  • David Geddes – “The Last Game of the Season (The Blind Man in the Bleachers)” (entered at 44, peaked at 18)
  • Sweet – “Fox on the Run (entered at 47, peaked at 5)
  • Barry Manilow – I Write the Songs” (entered at 48, peaked at 1)
  • C.W. McCall – “Convoy(jumped 82-29, peaked at 1)
  • The Captain and Tennille – “The Way I Want to Touch You(jumped 80-33, peaked at 4)
  • “B.T. Express – “Express” (jumped 85-42, peaked at 4)
  • It amazes me: In a year with major releases by Elton John, Paul McCartney, John Denver and more, the biggest newcomer was David Geddes’ follow-up to his horrendous Number 4 hit “Run Joey Run.” And it may be even worse than that one.
  • A sightless father diligently attends every football game of his son’s team, even though the boy never gets on the field.

    Then, during the team’s final contest, the child gets into the lineup, and he and his team win. As he celebrates, he notices that his father wasn’t in the stands. His coach informs him that sadly his dad had died, but don’t worry.

    Daddy was finally able to see him play, looking down from heaven.

AAARRGGGGHHHH!!!

  • “I Write the Songs” isn’t much better. This schmaltzy ballad has overwrought lyrics and music. Manilow’s vocals are fine though. The energetic singalong Fox on the Run saves this set from scoring a tally in the single digits.
  • When he was doing the year-end countdown for American Top 40 in 1976 (which actually started surveying songs from November 1975), Casey Kasem called “Convoy” a novelty tune along with “Disco Duck.” It’s better than that, but I wouldn’t go as far as one writer who called it a country classic either.
  • “The Way I Want to Touch You” is pretty sensuous for 1975. And the production and Tennille’s vocals are listenable enough, albeit more laidback than I’d like.
  • As for “Express:” Its midtempo funk-disco sound is pleasant if not outstanding, so I’ll give it a somewhat enthusiastic whistle.

HD Scores: “The Last Game of the Season (The Blind Man in the Bleachers)” – 1 + “Fox on the Run” – 9 + “I Write the Songs” 3 = 13

BM Scores: “Convoy”7 + “The Way I Want to Touch You”6 + “Express” – 6 = 19 

Winner: Biggest Movers

Next time: We finish up the 1970s and go into the 1980s.

If you thought these entries were an odd mix?

Get ready for even more strangeness ahead!

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cstolliver
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June 12, 2024 5:44 am

Whoo! I can’t disagree with your observations even if I might quibble about particular scores. The Geddes song isn’t offensive to me (as the Lt. Calley song was) so I’d probably give it a 3. But, yes, not a shining moment from 1975.

And while I like “The Morning After,” I can easily see why others might not. “The Poseidon Adventure” was a fitting launchpad for this song.

To me, “I Got a Name” is a 10 and Croce’s best, ironic in that he didn’t write it but gave a performance that made it sound completely his composition.

I look forward to the next installment as we hit the disco years!

Last edited 1 month ago by Chuck Small
Virgindog
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June 12, 2024 9:40 am

Nice work, Ozmoe! 

I loved “Brown Sugar.” Still do, but when I finally deciphered the lyrics years later, I found them repellant. I think a lot of us had that experience. The guitar part is one of Keith Richards’ finest moments. The lyrics are one of Mick Jagger’s worst.

I remember the My Lai massacre but have no memory of the “Lt. Calley” song, and I’m not going to listen to it now. Not only do I not want it in my head, I don’t want to give the songwriters a click.

If I remember correctly, “Hi Hi Hi” was banned because it’s about drugs but Paul McCartney said it’s actually about sex. Maybe he was just being flippant. He does that.

So what’s our overall score? Is it Biggest Movers 12, Highest Debuts 6?

Last edited 1 month ago by Bill Bois
JJ Live At Leeds
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June 12, 2024 10:16 am

From the write up I can understand why the Lt Calley and the Blind Man In The Bleachers songs didn’t travel. I’ll pass on taking a closer look.

Gonna have to disagree on some of The Beatles scoring. Isn’t It A Pity is a strong foil to My Sweet Lord, easily the equal of it. While Back Off Boogaloo is my joint favourite solo Ringo (along with I Am The Greatest). It’s an easy 10, even with Ringo’s vocals buried.

Elton’s version of Lucy In The Sky is a something i never wish to hear again in my life. No match for Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.

Psychedelic Shack may not be the go to Temptations song for many but I preferred their pysch-soul socially concious period. Even if it was the writers behind their transition rather than the group.

Noticed a marked drop in the where the highest new entries started their chart runs. Last week there were plenty debuting in the top 10 and 20. Never mind the top 10, most of them this week entered outside the top 40. Any reason why it changed so much?

Virgindog
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June 12, 2024 10:42 am

I agree with your take on “Back Of Boogaloo.” Ringo’s early solo stuff, with the exception of the cringy “You’re Sixteen,” is really good. “Back Off Boogaloo” is an 8, “Photograph” is a 9, “It Don’t Come Easy” is a 10.

cstolliver
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June 12, 2024 10:52 am
Reply to  Virgindog

I agree, though my numbers are a bit different: The 10 goes to Photograph with a 9 for “Easy” and 8 for “Boogaloo.”

cstolliver
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June 12, 2024 10:56 am

I wasn’t a teen yet when Elton’s version of “Lucy” came out and thus wasn’t as schooled in the full Beatles catalog, so I would have given Elton’s “Lucy” a 10 in 1975. Today, I might go with an 8 or 9 (“Philadelphia Freedom” and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” are both better). His “Pinball Wizard” cover from that year was also superb. Too bad that year had to end with the wretched “Island Girl.” (A 1.)

JJ Live At Leeds
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June 12, 2024 12:48 pm
Reply to  cstolliver

Island Girl and Lucy weren’t as big here. There’s plenty of Elton on the radio but I don’t recall either of them getting any airplay. As I wasn’t born til ’76 I heard the Beatles first so Elton’s version only has value as the curio of John Lennon’s involvement. As for Island Girl, pretty sure I’d never even heard it until Tom reviewed it for the #1s.

Heartily agree with the 1 and that Pinball Wizard is superb. He doesn’t do it so much but Elton rocking out like that and on Saturday Night makes for a nice change of pace.

bcm4648
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June 13, 2024 10:54 am

I don’t think “Isn’t It a Pity” is quite on the level of “My Sweet Lord” but I really, really like the B-side. It’s a pretty sly joke to use a string section in a song about pity and that makes me laugh. For me they’re like 10/9.

Pauly Steyreen
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June 12, 2024 11:42 am

Best of the bunch: Barry White, Roberta Flack, “My Sweet Lord” and “Kentucky Rain”. Honorable mention to the iconic trucker song “Convoy” — perhaps only second to (the entire Red Sovine songbook).

Zeusaphone
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June 12, 2024 11:49 am
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

Dave Dudley might have something to say about that!

LinkCrawford
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June 12, 2024 1:10 pm
Reply to  Zeusaphone

Oh, man, “Six Days on the Road” is such a 10/10

JJ Live At Leeds
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June 12, 2024 12:54 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

As Convoy has come up, here’s one that got away from my novelty series. Laurie Lingo is Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis. Watch And weep.

https://youtu.be/d189uP-48sU?feature=shared

Zeusaphone
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June 12, 2024 11:49 am

That Lt. Calley song is gross.

I have to disagree about “Imagine”. It’s Lennon at his most hack, offering trite and silly pandering sung over the most basic piano line ever written. It might have made an interesting “Is It Rock?” entry, since it’s usually considered as such despite having none of the usual characteristics of the genre.

JJ Live At Leeds
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June 12, 2024 1:05 pm
Reply to  Zeusaphone

Imagine is probably the first song that connected me to the Beatles in the early 80s. Up to my teens I’d have scored it highly. Over familiarity and the eulogising of it have turned me off it. I’d rather have the raw emotion of the Plastic Ono Band album.

I was befriended on a train in Mexico by a man that plied me with Maragaritas and insisted that I put his headphones on so he could play me the greatest song in the universe that would solve all the worlds problems. It was Imagine. He watched me intently for my reaction which didn’t feel unnerving at all. By this point I was over the song but I was several Margaritas in which loosened me up enough to help my acting skills in convincing him of my enthusiasm. I couldn’t tell him what I really thought, I couldnt be responsible for killing the hope and joy in his face.

Phylum of Alexandria
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June 12, 2024 6:21 pm

All he wanted was some truth…

LinkCrawford
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June 12, 2024 1:12 pm
Reply to  Zeusaphone

“Imagine” is complicated. I actually think the song is lovely in its simplicity, not unlike Paul’s “Let ’em In”. The lyrics…well, I give John the benefit of the doubt for proposing an interesting hypothetical thought exercise, even if it comes across holier than thou.

rollerboogie
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June 12, 2024 12:15 pm

Wow, lots here. A few thoughts-

  • My first thought was “what the hell is Psychedelic Shack”? It’s okay, I guess but sounds like a retread of some of their other more notable songs.
  • David Geddes should have never been allowed near a recording studio ever again after “Run Joey Run” and “The Last Game of the Season”. I had no idea of the latter’s existence, and I am going to pretend I still don’t. Man, the first half of the 70s had some real horrid things in the charts.
  • Speaking of which, I will not be listening to “Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley”. I will say that I’m glad you brought it to light, as it stands as a testament to misguided patriotism, of which there continues to be an endless supply in this country.
  • Massive Captain and Tennille fan as a 10 year old and was part of a lip-sync “band’ of kids that would perform at each others’ houses in the neighborhood. “The Way I Want to Touch You” was always on the set list. Yikes.
  • “I Got a Name” has a way better bass line than it ever needed, and I am here for it.

My top 3 choices from today’s list-

  • Fox On the Run
  • I’m Just a Singer…
  • Then Came You
cstolliver
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June 12, 2024 3:16 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Since we didn’t propose “Interstate Love Song” last week for Jon, we didn’t have the chance to discuss what I think are the connections musically between it and “I Got a Name.”

rollerboogie
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June 12, 2024 3:39 pm
Reply to  cstolliver

By all means, discuss! I’m curious.

rollerboogie
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June 12, 2024 4:01 pm
Reply to  cstolliver

Ah, I think I just figured it out. The main guitar line in Interstate Love Song has the same first 7 notes as the descending instrumental line at the end of the chorus of “I’ve Got a Name”. It just popped into my head.

LinkCrawford
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June 12, 2024 1:24 pm

In some ways I have incredible sentimental attachment to songs from this era. Though I was only 0-5 years old, this pop music remained in rotation as I was just gaining an appreciation for music. So songs like “I Got a Name”, “Then Came You”, “The Way That I Want To Touch You”, and “Killing Me Softly…” hold incredible appeal for me.

Elvis was very hit or miss in the 70s…it’s a relief to see a couple of his best hits of the era represented here.

Ozmoe, this compilation really shows how novelties tend to earn very rapid appeal. And then they fall off just as rapidly, often not lingering in the cultural consciousness. I’d never even heard “The Ballad Hymn of Lt. Calley” or “…The Blind Man in the Bleachers”. Fascinating stuff, even if it’s not good.

lovethisconcept
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June 12, 2024 4:21 pm

Wow, some great stuff here. And some really hideous stuff as well. This was middle school-high school for me. There was some great stuff and some really hideous stuff there as well. I remember hating BMITB and Convoy. Just yuk. I remember loving Roberta Flack, The Stones, the Beatles individually and collectively, Elton John, and Jim Croce. I don’t remember hearing the Lt. Calley atrocity at all, and I still haven’t, choosing the same route as VirginDog and refusing to give anyone involved in this any clicks at all.

Appreciate your hard work and research on this series. It’s been a lot of fun so far.

Phylum of Alexandria
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June 12, 2024 6:19 pm

“It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)” is the type of rock number other bands aspire to do when they ape the Rolling Stones. But few have the panache at every level to carry this off and make it a success the way Mick Jagger and the rest do here.

One of those few is definitely The New York Dolls.

Come to think of it, this Stones song came out the year after the Dolls’ debut album. Is it at all possible that Mick was doing David doing Mick on “It’s Only Rock n Roll?”

PS: “Got to Be There” for the win in my book!

rollerboogie
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June 12, 2024 8:00 pm

That is entirely possible.

bcm4648
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June 13, 2024 10:57 am

I had no idea there was a song about Lt. Calley and I won’t be seeking it out. How morally shaky do you have to be to make an effort to write and record a song defending the man responsible for My Lai?

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