Tag Archives: 10cc

Bad Things in Threes, Again

The Grim Reaper must be into numerology.

But now he has an assistant. Jack Kevorkian, occasionally called “Doctor Death” because of his years of commitment to physician-assisted suicide, died Friday at the age of 83. Ironically, no one helped him; it was a combination of kidney failure and thrombosis (clot-related ailments). An odd pop tangent is that Kevorkian’s lawyer was Geoffrey Feiger, brother of the late Doug Fieger of The Knack. Their courtroom battles – Kevorkian was never convicted when Fieger was his lawyer – are the basis for the movie You Don’t Know Jack. (Don’t confuse that with this).

James Arness, legendary as Marshall Dillon on Gunsmoke, finally rode off into the sunset on Friday after 88 years on this dusty trail. Gunsmoke aired for twenty years and 635 episodes and made Arness a household name. The series, and the character, still finish high upon any list of the best in television history. Like his friend John Wayne, Arness was an imposing authority figure, although reserved and artistic in his private life. Many also know that his brother was the late Peter Graves.

And if Friday wasn’t already bad enough, Andrew Gold died after a heart attack at the too-young age of 59. Gold had hits in the 80s with “Lonely Boy” and “Thank You For Being A Friend“, as well as the theme from Mad About You, “Final Frontier“. But in my haven of liner notes, he was better known for being embedded in the SoCal scene where Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles and Jackson Browne were all over each other’s albums. Like J.D. Souther – to whom he bore a slight resemblance – he didn’t often get the front-line credit for his effort, but was an integral and dynamic contributor to a generation of music.

Less is usually said about his later career, when projects like Wax UK and The Fraternal Order Of The All gave him vehicles for his love of Beatles and Beach Boys song structure and melodies. Copy Cat was a covers album featuring ten Beatles tracks, Green Day, Elton John and even covers of his own songs. A great talent who will be missed.

Video: “Lonely Boy

Leave a comment

Filed under Editorials, Film/TV, Music

T.G.I.F. – Ten More Rocktober Chart Toppers

Since it’s Rocktober, I thought I’d revisit the charts.

A couple of weeks back I revisited the number one songs for the first week in October from 1963-1972, a classic era for AM Radio. Almost without exception those songs are still resonant today. Maybe it’s a result of when you hear music in your life, but when radio formatting became so formulaic and segregated, the impact of chart toppers just died for me. But when every artist fought to climb the same hill…man, that was some list of great songs.

So here are Ten More Rocktober Chart Toppers – the Number One hits from the third week of October during my Wonder Years.

1963 Sugar Shack (Jimmy Gilmer) – An unexpected hit and year-end chart-topper even though it only had one more week at the top than The Singing Nun. Recorded at Norman Perry Studios, just like Buddy Holly.

1964Do Wah Diddy (Manfred Mann) – A Jeff Barry / Ellie Greenwich classic, this was prime Brit Invasion Manfred Mann long before the Earth Band and their Bruce Springsteen covers.

1965Yesterday (The Beatles) – Really just Paul McCartney and a string quartet, of course. Still listed as the most covered song in pop history.

1966Reach Out, I’ll Be There (The Four Tops) – Stone cold classic with a great Levi Stubbs vocal. Michael Jackson (at Berry Gordy‘s request) used a line from it in the 1970 song below.

1967To Sir With Love (Lulu) Another song that wound up as the top single of the year on many charts thanks to the hit movie. Didn’t realize until today that The Mindbenders were the backing band (two of whom would form 10cc not long afterwards).

1968) Hey Jude (The Beatles) – Well, since we covered this last time – it was a nine week run at the top of the charts, you know – let’s highlight the flip side (and a much better song, IMHO) – Revolution. Their only other #1 hit that year was Hello/Goodbye ( the first two weeks of January).

1969I Can’t Get Next To You (The Temptations) – David Ruffin gets a lot of credit but if you ever doubted that Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks were just as good, this song will fix that. .

1970) I’ll Be There (The Jackson 5)  – After three straight bubblegum hits, The Jackson 5 won over a whole new audience with this ballad. Maybe Jermaine Jackson‘s best vocal, ever.

1971) Maggie May (Rod Stewart) – Another song that dominated the charts for the month, but like the Beatles’ single it was a two-sided hit. The flip was his dynamic cover of Tim Hardin‘s Reason To Believe.

1972) My Ding-A-Ling (Chuck Berry) – Sad but true: this was Chuck Berry‘s only #1 hit single. I think you should instead pick up The Great Twenty-Eight, a wonderful collection that gives Chuck his due.

1 Comment

Filed under Editorials, Music, Reviews

Blast From The Past: City Boy

Talk about your unknown classics? Try this one!

Talk about your unknown classics? Try this one!

City Boy is on that list of bands that woulda/shoulda/coulda been way bigger than they were, but for some reason only touched the high bar for a brief period of time. They combined impeccable vocals and vocal harmony with inventive arrangements and first-rate musicianship, and reaped the benefit of having multiple songwriters in the band. Their one bonafide hit single, “”, was from their fourth album Book Early, and while it was stuffed with great tunes it didn’t hold favor over time. Their next two albums sailed under the wavelength of everyone except their fans and remain underrated albums to this day.

Young Men Gone West, their third release, was probably the album that floated closest to a commercial pop sound; I’m still stunned that there weren’t multiple hits jumping off the record. It’s a loosely threaded concept album about a bad journey baja way, written with an enormous sense of humor.

City Boy was unusual for the time in that Steve Broughton and Lol Mason both sang lead vocals, although Broughton also played guitar. It wasn’t odd to see them trading lead and background vocals simply as dual front men, and the arrangements dabbled in jazz, soul and even prog as well as pop and rock. The high falsetto harmonies and intricate vocal parts brought them comparisons to Queen, Supertramp and 10cc, recent post-mortem comments cite Jellyfish and Def Leppard, among others. Compliments all. Multi-instrumentalist Max Thomas also pitched in with songwriting and vocals and producer Mutt Lange worked his magic. City Boy indeed forged these elements into something of their own.

“She’s Got Style” and “I’ve Been Spun” (the latter contains several brilliant turns of phrase) are short sharp pop songs, while the rockers among us cue up “Dear Jean” and “Bad For Business” ; both boast monster guitar work from Mike Slamer. (The former makes me pull out the air guitar to this day.) The rest blend a parade of sounds so that song-to-song it sounds fresh, various tempos and styles evenly distributed in perfect array.

After four albums on Mercury they moved to Atlantic for two more, then finally to Vertigo for the last one, It’s Personal. By then the band was a quartet and most fans (read: me) were unaware it existed until it was too late. And another great one bit the dust. The first six albums are commercially available, reissued by Reniassance Records; the seventh only if you hunt and peck on Al Gore’s Internet if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Young Men Gone West” is available alone or as part of a 2-fer with Book Early, although the 2-fer is out of print and expensive on the used market. But if you don’t know the band, don’t stop here ! You will be richly rewarded by checking out their vastly underrated catalogue.

city boy patch

City Boy wiki.

City Boy homepage. Lyrics, clips, bio, etc. thanks to a great fan.

Wolfgang’s Vault members can stream a live show here.

And no, don’t confuse them with this guy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Features and Interviews, Music, Reviews