*Indicates highest Billboard chart position
1. You're No Good - Linda Ronstadt
Music and lyrics by Clint Ballard Jr. Jac Music Co., Inc/Edwin H. Morris/US Songs Inc. ASCAP. Capital 3990. Courtesy of Normal Music and Capital Records, Inc. No. 1*
2. Jackie Blue - Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Music and lyrics by Larry Lee and Steve Cash
Lost Cabin Music. BMI, A&M 1654, ® 1974 A&M Records, Inc. Courtesy of A&M Records, Inc, No. 3*
3. That’s The Way (I Like It) - KC and the Sunshine Band
Music and lyrics by Harry Casey and Richard Finch, Sherlyn Publishing Co., Inc. BMI, T.K, 1015 ® 1975 T.K, Records, Courtesy of Rhino Records, Inc. No. 1*
4. Must of Got Lost - J. Geils Band
Music and lyrics by Seth Justman and Peter Wolf, Murray Productions Corp. ASCAP. Atlantic 3214, ® 1974 Atlantic Recording Corp, Produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp, No. 12*
5. Why Can't We Be Friends? - War
Music and lyrics by Sylvester Allen, Harold Ray Brown, Morris Dickerson, Gerald Goldstein, Leroy "Lonnie" Jordan, Lee Oskar Levitin, Charles Miller and Howard Scott. For Out Music Inc. ASCAP. United Artists 629. ® 1975 For Out Productions. Used by permission of A venue Records. No. 6*
6. Sister Golden Hair - America
Music and lyrics by Gerry Beckley. WB Music Corp. ASCAP. Warner 8086. ® 1975 Warner Bros. Records Inc. Produced under license from Warner Bros. Records Inc. No. 1*
7. Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John
Music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Big Pig Music Ltd. ASCAP. MCA 40364. ® 1975 This Record Co .. Ltd. Courtesy of MCA Records. Inc. No. 1*
8. Black Water - The Doobie Brothers
Music and lyrics by Patrick Simmons. Lansdowne Music Publishing/WB Music Corp. ASCAP. Warner 8062. ® 1974 Warner Bros. Records Inc. Produced under license from Warner Bros. Records Inc. No. 1*
9. Love Is A Rose - Linda Ronstadt
Music and lyrics by Neil Young. Silver Fiddle. ASCAP. Asylum 45282. ® 1975 Elektra/Asylum Records. Produced under license from Elektra/ Asylum Records. No. 5*
10. How long - Ace
Music and lyrics by Paul Carrack. Minder Music Ltd. (PRS). Anchor 21000 ® 1974 Minder Records. Licensed by Cavalcade Records T/A Minder Records. No. 3*
11. Dance with Me - Orleans
Music and lyrics by John J. Hall and Johanna Hall. Siren Songs. BMI. Asylum 45261 ® 1975 Elektra/Asylum Records. Produced under license from Elektra/ Asylum Records. No. 6*
12. Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Music and lyrics by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant. Duchess Music Corp. (MCA)/Hustlers.lnc. BMI. MCA 40328. ® 1973 MCA Records. Inc. Courtesy of MCA Records. Inc. No. 19*
13. You Are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
Music and lyrics by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher. Alma Music Corp. ASCAP/Irving Music Inc. BMI. A&M 1641 ® 1974 A&M Records. Inc. Courtesy of A&M Records. Inc. No. 5*
14. Feel Like Makin' Love - Bad Company
Music and lyrics by Michael Ralphs and Paul Rogers. Badco Music Inc. ASCAP. Swan Song 70106 ® 1975 Swan Song Inc. Produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp. No. 10*
15. Lady Marmalade - LaBelle
Music and lyrics by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan. Stone Diamond Music Corp. BMI/Jobete Music Co., Inc./Kenny Nolan Publishing Co. ASCAP. Epic 50048. ® 1974 CBS Records Inc. Produced under license from CBS Special Products, a Service of CBS Records, a Division of CBS Records. Inc. No. 1*
16. Pick Up the Pieces - Average White Band
Music and lyrics by Roger Ball, Malcolm Duncan, Alan Garrie, Robbie Mcintosh, Owen Mcintyre and Jamie Stuart. Alan E. Garrie. ASCAP. Atlantic 3229. ® 1975 Atlantic Recording Corp. Produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp. No. 1*
17. Island Girl - Elton John
Music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Big Pig Music (Adm. by Intersong. USA Inc.)/Leeds Music Corp. ASCAP. MCA 40461. ® 1975 This Record Co., Ltd. Courtesy of MCA Records. Inc. No. 1*
18. Some Kind of Wonderful - Grand Funk
Music and lyrics by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Dandelion Music Co. BMI. Capitol 4002. ® 1974 Capitol Records. Inc. Courtesy of Capitol Records. Inc., under license from CEMA Special Markets. No. 3*
19. The Hustle - Van McCoy
Music and lyrics by Van McCoy. Van McCoy Music/Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. BMI. Avco 4653. ® 1975 Amherst Records. Inc. Courtesy of Amherst Records. Inc. c/o Original Sound Entertainment. No. 1*
20. Let's Do It Again - The Staple Singers
Music and lyrics by Curtis Mayfield. Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. BMI. Curtom 0109. ® 1975 Warner Bros. Records Inc. Produced under license from Warner Bros. Records Inc. No. 1*
TIME LIFE MUSIC
Chairman, Paul R. Stewart
President: John Hall
Executive Producer: Charles McCardell
Executive Committee: Eric R. Eaton, Marla Hoskins, Fernando Pargas
Series Consultant: Joe Sasfy
Art Director: Robin Bray
Associate Producer: Robert Hull
Art Studio: Nina Bridges
Production Manager: Karen Hill
1975 was produced by Time-Life Music in cooperation with Warner Special Products. Digitally remastered at MCA Recording Studio, North Hollywood, Calif.
The Author: John Morthland has been an associate editor for Rolling Stone and Creem. He has freelanced for virtually every rock magazine published during the last 20 years.
Time-Life wishes to thank William L. Schurk of the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, for providing valuable reference material.
TIME-LIFE MUSIC is a division of Time-life Books Inc. © 1990 Time-Life Books Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A. TlME-L1FE is a trademark of Time Incorporated U.S.A.
Cover art David Willardson.
© 1990 Time-Life Books Inc.
Picture credit: Back panel photo of Lynyrd Skynyrd courtesy Michael Ochs Archives, Venice, Calif.
Manufactured for Time-Life Music by Warner Special Products, a Warner Communications Company.
© 1990 Warner Special Products
WARNER SPECIAL PRODUCTS
No stranger to No. 1 hits, Elton John had a spectacular year in 1975. Two singles released in 1975 went to the top of the charts (as had Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which was released at the end of 1974 but carried over into the next year). Rocket, the label John owned, was thriving, and he was touring in the biggest venues in America. Everything Elton John and his song-writing partner, Bernie Taupin, touched seemed to turn to gold.
Philadelphia Freedom was no exception. John was a big fan of the fledgling World Tennis League and especially of player-coach Billie Jean King's team, the Philadelphia Freedoms. Whenever he could get a day off in the States, John jetted into the City of Brotherly Love to watch the matches. King, then at the peak of her game (and a media darling almost on a level with John), presented him with a custom-made Freedoms warm-up jacket; he paid her back by writing a song for the team, And since it was a Philly team, after all, how better to pay tribute than to bring in former Philly International arranger-producer Thom Bell and duplicate the Ken Gamble and Leon Huff sound that was taking over the charts at the time?
Philadelphia Freedom was released as a novelty single. Its B side had a live version of Elton and John Lennon dueting on I Saw Her Standing There, recorded at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving 1974, John had sung backup on Lennon's Whatever Gets You Thru The Night in 1974, and the ex-Beatle, then in the depths of an extended lost weekend, played guitar under the name Dr. Winston O'Boogie on Elton's version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Following the autobiographical Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, which yielded a No.4 hit in Someone Saved My Life Tonight, John replaced his old rhythm section, expanded his band and entered studios in Colorado (hence the title pun) to cut Rock of the Westies. Like its predecessor, the album entered the Billboard chart at No.1 – they were the first two albums ever to do so. Island Girl then replaced Neil Sedaka's Bad Blood at the top of the singles chart, and the irony was that John had sung backup on Sedaka's hit, which had been released on Rocket.
KC and the Sunshine Band were in the midst of a string of No.1 hits that brought to disco a languorous Florida rhythm inspired by the "junkanoo" (steel-drum) bands of the Bahamas. Thai's The Way (I Like It) was the second chart topper in a row for the nine-man band headed by pianist-singer Harry Casey and bassist Richard Finch, co-writers and co-producers (and the only white members of the group). As in nearly all their tunes, the lyrics of the song consisted of a simple chant. According to Casey, the original version offered little more than a bunch of moaning and groaning over the characteristic whistles, cowbells, steel drums and rhythm section. After speculating about what his mother would think, Casey cleaned up the song for the final take.
In 1975, disco was in full swing. The most popular dance was the hustle, and journeyman writer-producer Van McCoy jumped on the fad reluctantly. When New York City DJ David Todd tried to talk him into checking out Adam's Apple, a trendy New York club, McCoy sent a friend instead. The friend returned to demonstrate the hustle to McCoy, who was excited to see touch-dancing making a comeback. Though McCoy had already finished his album, he threw together a hustle track in an hour and called the album Disco Baby. The Hustle went on to win a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental and proved to be the only hit for McCoy, who died four years later.
LaBelle's Lady Marmalade, an ode to a Creole prostitute, knocked Frankie Valli's My Eyes Adored You off the top of the charts. But Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan weren't complaining-they'd penned both singles; they became the first writers, other than Lennon-McCartney and Holland-Dozier-Holland, to replace themselves at the No.1 spot. The song had first been recorded in 1974 by the Eleventh Hour, a studio group fronted by Nolan. With its catchy French hook lyric, the song accented both LaBelle's emerging glittery space-age image and New Orleans producer Allen Toussaint's growing reputation as a crossover hit-maker, Pop Staples was reportedly upset about the sexual innuendo behind Let's Do It Again, the Curtis Mayfield title song to a blaxploitation film starring Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier, However, with Mayfield producing and releasing the song on his own label, it became a top-40 hit for the Staple Singers, although they never reached such heights again, War's Why Can't We Be Friends? was the kind of topical black single that nearly disappeared with the advent of disco: its Caribbean accents made the band at least distant cousins to KC and the Sunshine Band.
Meanwhile, the Average White Band (given its name by Bonnie Bramlett when she and they played the Eric Clapton comeback concert at London's Rainbow Theatre in 1973) was proving that Casey, Finch and War's frontman, Lee Oskar, weren't the only funky white boys around, Pick Up the Pieces, which won a Grammy for the Scotsmen, rode disco's coattail even if it owed as much stylistically to the Crusaders and soul music,
The charts also had a distinctly Californian flavor, You're No Good, a 1964 hit for the underrated Chicago (via Mississippi) R & B shouter Betty Everett, launched Linda Ronstadt's new sound, This sound was shaped by Ronstadt's manager/producer Peter Asher and guitarist Andrew Gold, who played most of the instruments on the track when the studio band couldn't get it right, Black Water, a salute to the Mississippi River, was originally the B side of the Doobie Brothers' Another Park, Another Sunday, but its theme and catchy a cappella section soon had southern DJs playing the other side of the single, With Sister Golden Hair, the Beatles' former producer, George Martin, continued to pump life into America's career, which had been sagging until he took over the band's sessions the year before,
Finally, the year saw the successes of a one-hit wonder from England and two bands of American working-class heroes, one northern and one southern, How Long was Ace's only hit, which came out of the British pub-rock scene, Although the song sounds like a paean to lost love, it was actually singer-keyboardist Paul Carrack's bitter message to bassist Terry Comer, who temporarily crippled the group by quitting to work with the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver in 1973, just when things were starting to look up for Ace, Nevertheless, Comer returned to the fold in time to play on this song, Grand Funk Railroad remade Some Kind of Wonderful, a 1967 regional hit for Soul Brothers Six in Detroit. Though it had little impact elsewhere, the original remained so influential in the Motor City that its signature riff was reworked into I Can't Get Next to You, a No. 1 record for the Temptations in 1969, long before Grand Funk of Flint, Michigan, made it into a pop smash themselves.
Free Bird first appeared on Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1973 debut album as a tribute to Southern-rock hero Duane Allman, who had died two years earlier. The song, an ideal jamming vehicle for the band's three-guitar attack, became, in turn, a concert favorite, a belated hit single and a Southern-rock anthem. But in 1977, the unthinkable happened, Ronnie Van Zant, the band's charismatic writer and singer, was killed in a plane crash, along with guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines and manager Dean Kilpatrick, The remaining members dissolved the group, But the Rossington Collins Band was formed in 1980 by four surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The band ended its concerts with an instrumental version of Free Bird that was a stirring tribute to Van Zant and a fond farewell to Southern-rock in general.
- John Morthland