FORGOTTEN MUSIC #97: BILLBOARD #1s: THE 70s [2-CD Set]

The 1970s was one of my happiest decades. I started my teaching career, I left that for Madison, Wisconsin to work on a PhD. I loved the music of the Seventies as well as many of the books and movies of that decade. And I married Diane.

Just because a song is a Number One hit on BILLBOARD, that doesn’t guarantee the quality of the work. I found a few clunkers among the Billboard #1s: The ’70s 30 songs. While I love “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey, I’m much less fond of “You Made Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer. Do you remember these songs? Do you see any favorites here? GRADE: B+

TRACK LIST:
Disc: 1
1. What A Fool Believes — The Doobie Brothers
2. December 1963 (Oh, What A Night) — The Four Seasons
3. Crocodile Rock — Elton John
4. You’re So Vain — Carly Simon
5. Midnight Train To Georgia — Gladys Knight & The Pips
6. Lean On Me — Bill Withers
7. Then Came You — Dionne Warwick and Spinners
8. Pick Up The Pieces — Average White Band
9. Let’s Get It On — Marvin Gaye
10. Reunited — Peaches & Herb
11. Make It With You — Bread
12. Oh Girl — Chi-Lites
13. I Can See Clearly Now — Johnny Nash
14. Welcome Back — John Sebastian
15. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head — B.J. Thomas
Disc: 2
1. Good Times — Chic
2. Bad Girls — Donna Summer
3. Boogie Oogie Oogie — A Taste Of Honey
4. Shining Star — Earth, Wind & Fire
5. Me And Mrs. Jones — Billy Paul
6. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough — Diana Ross
7. Let’s Stay Together — Al Green
8. Rich Girl — Hall & Oates
9. If You Leave Me Now — Chicago
10. Babe — Styx
11. Love Train — The O’Jays
12. Three Times A Lady — Commodores
13. Without You — Nilsson
14. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing — Leo Sayer
15. Heart Of Glass — Blondie

30 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN MUSIC #97: BILLBOARD #1s: THE 70s [2-CD Set]

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Hate more of these than like any. Detest A Taste of Honey. They actually beat out Elvis Costello for best new artist Grammy. He’s still here, where are they? Also detest Styx, Leo Sayer, Bread and the song by the Four Seasons. Most of the rest are pretty dull. The few exceptions, Hall & Oates, Bill Withers, Nilsson and Blondie. Overall I would give this a D+. And Boogie Oogie Oogie? I could never like a song with that title.

    Reply
  2. Jerry House

    As a card carrying old fart, I am firmly convinced that the 70s marked the beginning of the decline of good music. As the decade progressed the quality of the songs did not. BOOGIE OOGIE OOGIE could never match the musical perfection that is YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY I GOT LOVE IN MY TUMMY. Ptah!

    And stay off my lawn!

    Reply
  3. Michael Padgett

    The lesson here is don’t judge a decade by its most popular songs. I do remember most, but not all, of these songs, and even like some, but not many, of them. The name A Taste of Honey sounds vaguely familiar but I don’t recall ever hearing “Boogie Oogie Oogie” and am not much inclined to look for it. The Seventies really was a great decade for music, but aside from Blondie there’s little indication of the musical revolution that was going on in NYC. So Blondie will have to hold the place for such greats as Patti Smith, New York Dolls, Television, and many, many more.

    Reply
    1. Steve Oerkfitz

      I agree the 70’s gave us New York Dolls, The Ramones, Patti Smith, Television, Blondie, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, The Clash, David Bowie, Elvis Costello and many more.

      Reply
    2. george Post author

      Michael, you’re right about the popular tastes in music changing over time. Many of these groups with a Number One hit vanished soon after their brief success.

      Reply
  4. Deb

    It will come as no surprise that Disco Dolly Deb knows every single song on this compilation—although not all of them are in my pantheon. In fact, I don’t think every artist here (even my favorites) is represented by their best 1970s work: Blondie, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Donna Summer, Hall & Oates, The Doobie Brothers, and Carly Simon all had better songs, imho.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Deb, I agree many artists produced better songs, but these are the hits the Market (in terms of sales) judged were the best. Another reason not to always trust the Market.

      Reply
  5. wolf

    Imho a strange mixture – also many second rate songs by first rate musicians.
    My favourites:
    Chicago, Elton John, Carly Simon, Marvin Gaye.

    PS and a bit OT:
    My favourite Chicago song is “Low Down” – it describes my current feeling and maybe that of many Americans …
    On the positive side there is “I’m a man” written by Steve Winwood in 1966 when he was just 18 years old …

    Reply
  6. Jeff Meyerson

    Of course I remember them. One I’ve always hated was Diana (Happy Birthday today) Ross’s version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” not a patch on the great original version by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell. Also dislike “Good Times” by Chic. It’s no “Le Freak.” Right, Deb? (We saw Chic & Nile Rodgers open for Earth, WInd & Fire at Madison Square Garden in 2017.)

    I like the Doobie Brothers, Marvin Gaye, Elton John, EW & F (though as Deb said, not near their best), Chi-Lites (Tony Soprano’s favorite song), Gladys Knight & the Pips, a few others. I must admit that though I disliked “Boogie Oogie Oogie” when it came out, it has grown (somewhat) on me through frequent radio repetition.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I’m with you on the original version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell. It’s the Gold Standard. I’m fascinated by what music people bought in the Seventies. A BILLBOARD Number One hit represented large sales. Today, with digital platforms like Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, YouTube, etc. I have no idea how “sales” are measured today.

      Reply
  7. maggie mason

    I remember most of them and liked not loved many of them. A few favorites there, more for the group than the song mentioned. I disagree with you about Sayer, liked that song. “boogie oogie oogie til you just can’t boogie no more” won’t go down in the lyrics hall of fame.

    Thanks to Jeff, I’ve been listening to scott shannon’s true oldies station and enjoy it. I do wonder at the number of times he’s played oogum boogum.

    Just finished watching Rocket Man (took a while because other than the Sat. Night bit, his early years were difficult to watch). Made me remember how much I’ve always liked his fast paced songs. (I prefer fast songs and dancing, though it’s been years since I did any dancing other than in my home)

    Reply
    1. Jeff Meyerson

      I don’t know if it the same there, Maggie, but they are playing “Come and Get Your Love’ by Redbone now.

      Reply
  8. Patti Abbott

    Not surprisingly to me, a lot of these are unfamiliar. I think I went from knowing every song in the sixties, to knowing far less in the seventies. The ones I know are not among my favorites on the whole.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Patti, strangely the songs on this 2-CD set were all Number One hits…but not the best songs of the Seventies in my opinion. But, they sold a lot of records back in the day…

      Reply
  9. Beth Fedyn

    The ’70s get a bad rap. It wasn’t ALL disco and I actually liked even some of that.
    Lots of good music here.
    In retrospect, it certainly seems like a more innocent time.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Beth, the coronavirus has changed everything. Trump keeps talking about getting back to Normal by Easter Sunday but I think that’s delusional. I have another, larger set of 1970s songs that might be more representative of the decade than this collection of Number One hits.

      Reply
  10. Rick Robinson

    I agree with Beth. There are a lot of songs here I like, and there were a lot of other great albums during that decade. Certainly The Eagles had some terrific music during that time, capped with HOTEL CALIFORNIA. Also, I remember listening to Elton John on my 8-track player while driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. Good times. We mustn’t forget either that though the majority of the Beatles albums came out in the Cities, LET IT BE was released in 1970.

    I much prefer the 70s music to that of the 80s.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Rick, the next FORGOTTEN MUSIC in April will feature some songs from the 1980s. You’re right about the great music of the 1970s.

      Reply
    1. george Post author

      Kent, a lot of people disliked “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.” Yet, it won an Oscar for Best Original Song. Go figure…

      Reply
  11. Deb

    To me, the early-to-mid 1970s were all about my favorite artists’ albums. The usual suspects: CSNY (and their various solo & crossover works), Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, James Taylor, Carly Simon. The later 1970s were much more about Disco, dancing, clubs, and being an adult (I turned 20 in 1977, so that might explain how I view the time divide). There was some really good music in the 1970s, but—although I’m loath to admit it—also some real drek.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Deb, I have several 1970s CD complications to share in the months ahead. As you might suspect, the quality varies from disc to disc.

      Reply
  12. Cap'n Bob Napier

    Around 1975 pop music did a sharp turn and became so much crap! Then came disco! I haven’t listened to the radio since, except for oldies stations! Now, the oldies stations are nearly gone and the few that are left–around here, anyway–only go back to the eighties!

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Bob, it’s the same situation here. Local “Oldies” radio stations play 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s music. If I want to hear music from the 1960s and 1970s, I have to go to Sirius/XM Radio.

      Reply
  13. Kent Morgan

    We have an oldies station here that always played oldies. A couple of years ago they hired a younger station manager who had moved to Canada from England and several of the volutnteer directors moved on around the same time. The format has been changing with more shows focused on themes and the newer music the announcer and I’m guessing the manager likes. I now listen to Sirius/XM in my car and very little radio when I am at home. Yesteday while sorting books in my basement I played a CD of southern music the the OxFord American magazine included with a subscription.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Kent, I’ve been playing music CDs in my basement as I sort through books. I prefer compilations of songs for that task. I found a unique set that I’ll be reviewing on this blog in a couple of months.

      Reply

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