1977 summed up in one photograph by Dynamite magazine, the preferred reading for grade school kids in the know!
Last weekend we went shopping which included a trip to the record store to shop for $3.00 CDs, one of my favorite things to do. While in there looking for rarities I came across something I haven't seen anywhere in my searches: Shaun Cassidy's Greatest Hits. I only wanted one song off it, a lost treasure from my childhood. "Da Doo Ron Ron". This dopey remake was recorded when Cassidy was starring on one of my favorite programs, The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries. Parker Stevenson. Shaun Cassidy. Pamela Sue Martin. A power trio for the ages! Solvin' mysteries and rockin' out at the end of the program to this song.
I took a look back and made a Top 10 list of my favorite songs of my younger days and found out two things. The first I knew, I was a huge Michael Jackson fan. A kid who could sing and dance like that...it's sad what he would become later, but back then he was hands down the most talented kid in the world. The second I just figured out, I liked anyone related to Shirley Jones. That's one magic woman there. Which leads into kicking off my list.
10. The Partridge Family "I Think I Love You"
Rule #1 of childhood - I wanted that bus! That awesome psychedelic multicolored school bus that was modified into the touring vehicle. I had two Partridge Family records, including one that looked like the bus. And the opening with that great song and the birds hatching from the eggs? Classic. And after seeing pictures from back then, I may have worn that Partridge Family outfit at one point. Velvety vest and puffy white shirt. I don't even think it was influenced by the tv show, it was just the style at the time. Seinfeld would have been proud. By the way, I recommend viewing the clip of the song if only to see the Partridge Family play a Power Of Women rally where they win over the hippies and haters with their song of love.
9. Olivia Newton-John "Have You Never Been Mellow"
There was something soothing about the 70's sounds of the Australian blonde. I used to play this song on the record a lot. I honestly don't even know how I got the record. Was it one of my parents records? Anyway, this song always takes me back to playing with toys in my room. Hot Wheels rule! Oh, and I was too young to really appreciate that she was, in the lingo of the day, a super fine fox.
8. Glen Campbell "Rhinestone Cowboy"
Years before Robert Redford was The Electric Cowboy, Glen Campbell saddled up for a glittery ride as the Rhinestone Cowboy. Maybe I did like these songs and that's how I got them, the hook has stuck in my head for most of my life. "Like a Rhine-Stone Cow-Boy" and the strings go Duhhh-Duh. This is a song I got into from watching tv, taken from an age when kids still wanted to be cowboys. Hard to believe now, there was a time where a guy could dress in a white cowboy get up and ride a horse without coming off cheesy. The 70's was such a simpler time.
7. Shaun Cassidy "Da Doo Ron Ron"
Cassidy's remake of a 60's pop hit boosted his role as a teen idol over Parker Stevenson. The music isn't too different from other teen idol jams of the day, Leif Garrett and his ilk. Musically, it was interesting how the doo wop leanings of the original were transformed into a sort of 70's surf rock. Nice memories of watching tv and reading Dynamite magazine to catch up with the important happenings of life.
6. Michael Jackson "Rockin Robin"
The same song Megan Joy butchered on American Idol this year (caw,caw), Jackson's Got To Be There record had a lot of covers. I also remember "Ain't No Sunshine" from this record too (what, did American Idol use this whole record as a template this season? Kris Allen played "Sunshine" twice). My personal idol in childhood, MJ could do no wrong.
5. Captain and Tennille "Love Will Keep Us Together"
The dynamic duo of 70's pop, the Captain and his Tennille was all over tv back in the day. I wasn't a fan of the Captain, he always looked creepy with his sailor outfits on dry land. Tennille I was OK with, even when she would show up trying to act on Fantasy Island. This song and I think they did "Muskrat Love" were staples on tv and radio. That jaunty piano bit always grabs me. Interesting how boy / girl combos were the thing back then. There were The Carpenters, Sonny and Cher, Donny and Marie...you don't see that kind of thing anymore. A reminder of a more innocent time.
4. Meco "Star Wars Theme"
John Williams is without a shout of a doubt the greatest classical composer of my lifetime in my opinion. The themes for movies that man comes up with have embedded themselves into the national consciousness in a way that no other piece of classical music has since the days of Mozart. Even in the 90's, the best part of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was that kick ass song Williams wrote. Anyway, in the 70's the only way to improve on greatness was to add a disco beat and laser gun sounds. Fortunately Meco was around to figure that out and give us a tape of this stuff. I played this tape constantly as a kid because I was totally obsessed with Star Wars. If it wasn't for Meco, I probably would have picked "A Fifth Of Beethoven" from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
3. Elton John "Benny and the Jets"
One of the first pieces of music I can remember liking was "Benny and the Jets". I would literally think of jet fighters flying when I heard this song, because when you're a kid pretending your hand is a jet plane is really cool. And he always had the flashiest outfits, didn't he dress like Donald Duck once?
2. John Travolta "Grease Lightning"
I was a huge fan of Grease in 1978 and that went with emulating the stand out moment of Danny Zuko, "Grease Lightning". I liked the fast beat and fired up singing particularly the "Go Go" parts. This car is automatic, it's systematic, it's hyydro-matic. It's Grease Lighning! It's also funny, when I saw Grease on video a decade later I realized this (and a lot of other Grease songs) were pretty nasty. "You know that ain't no shit and we'll be gettin' lots of tit, Grease Lightning!" Actual lyrics from the song, no lie. By the way, after seeing that VH1 rehab show it's hard to see Jeff Conway do all that running, dancing and singing and believe it's the same person.
1. The Jackson 5 "ABC"
The only thing better than Michael Jackson by himself was when he was performing with his brothers. Those choreographed spins in multicolored outfits were mesmerizing. And whoever wrote this song "A-B-C, easy as 1-2-3" is a freakin' genius. Talk about aiming for your target audience. One of my strongest childhood memories is taking a Jackson 5 record to school in a brown paper bag for show and tell. And I used to live for that Scooby Doo episode where the Jacksons and Osmonds team up to solve the mystery.
And that's my top 10. If I had more room I would include the Bee Gee's "Tragedy", Foreigner's "Hot Blooded", The Osmonds "One Bad Apple" and KISS's "Rock And Roll All Nite". And the scariest rock star of them all, Donny Most Ralph Malph as the KISS like superstar in that episode of CHiPs. You don't remember that one you say? Well, here's a clip of the episode right now!