Hello colleagues of this online radio, once again, through my articles, I am showing you the comings and goings of our idol. Always having as a point of reference the pages of that kind of musical bible that is Billboard. We will also see what were the styles and music that in 1974 occupied the top positions in sales, and what social events were happening in the United States.
Regarding Elvis, and as he was becoming more and more frequent, his releases were increasingly rare, since he was very reluctant to set foot in a studio, practically focusing on his live performances, something that “El Coronel” was in charge of. that he signed contracts in which he looked solely and exclusively for his interests and for the collection that he would have at the end of the tours.
I trust that, once again, the reading will be interesting for you, and do not forget that we will have an appointment again on this Elvis Radio 24h website very soon. While the occasion arrives, do me a favor: be happy.
Cesar Valle (Torrelavega – Spain)
ELVIS IN 1974
1974 will be the first year of Elvis after his separation from Priscilla, after 6 years of marriage. His spirits were rather low, but in any case he continued with his maelstrom of concerts and with an increasingly delicate state of health. Elvis continued without a moment of rest due to the numerous contracts that The Colonel signed, without taking into account the health of his pupil, who cared little for him, only focused on satisfying his lucrative spirit.
On the musical side, Elvis was still living off the rents from his recordings at Stax studios. With this material, 3 singles were published, a Long Play, “Good Times“, and the rest of what appeared that year would be completed with the compilation “A Legendary Performer” and a live recording in his city: “As Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis“.
In May of that year, specifically on the 11th, after a concert at the Forum in Los Angeles, the members of Led Zeppelin decided to go meet Elvis, who would invite them to his “suite”. The meeting would last a couple of hours, during which they sang and talked in a very relaxed atmosphere. Elvis acknowledged that the only song he knew by the British band was “Stairway To Heaven.” In this encounter, Robert Plant couldn’t help but do an Elvis impression by singing “Love Me”, causing Elvis to laugh.
In 1974 Elvis’ fondness for weapons had become almost unhealthy, and one of the new customs was to destroy televisions with bullets when one of his most hated singers appeared on them, such as Mel Tormé or the “crooner” Robert Goulet, and especially when Karl Malden appeared in the series “The streets of San Francisco“, not because he hated the actor, but because his character was called Mike Stone, like the karate teacher who had taken Priscilla away.
Another Elvis hobby that had skyrocketed in recent years was Karate, as had happened to half the world thanks to the Bruce Lee movies, and the Kung Fu series starring David Carradine. Elvis wanted to make a documentary, he asked for help from his friend Jerry Schilling, who had an acquaintance who was a screenwriter, but the meeting was a failure. Finally, it would be Ed Parker who would manage to capture Elvis’s interest in making a documentary about discipline. To do this, both organized several tournaments that would be used in the film. Finally, a disillusioned Elvis canceled the project on December 24.
The singer was in free fall, his health was so deteriorated that The Colonel had to admit that, according to reports from Doctor Elías Ghanem, he would not be able to perform in Las Vegas until January. The end was drawing near inexorably.
EL BILLBOARD EN 1974
Already in the previous chapter dedicated to 1973 we saw a small preview of what was going to be this year, in which the clear dominators were those groups and singers that were related to the so-called “Philadelphia Sound”, which would be the seed of what then the sound “Disco” will be born
This style of music was a clear evolution of the Soul that had been made at Motown, or on the Atlantic label. For this, string sections, violins and cellos, wind instruments were used, and greater importance was given to arrangers and producers over the performers themselves (someone defined this genre as “Soul with a bow tie”). Television programs like Soul Train or places as mythical as the Studio 54 nightclub in New York, and producers like Kenny Gamble, Vincent Montana or Barry White, contributed to the greatest glory of this sound.
Thus, within this genre we will have great winners such as Barry White, who would manage to be number 1 twice with the song “Love Theme”, from a parallel project to his solo career called Love Unlimited Orchestra; and also solo with “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby”.
Also within this genre are the number 1 band MFSB with “More The Sound Of Philadelphia”, the Hues Corporation trio and their “Rock The Boat”, or Dionne Warwick and The Spinners who topped the list with “Then Come You”
Other artists who had great repercussions within this style were The Three Degrees with “When I Will See You Again”, which reached number 2 (Tarantino would include it on the soundtrack of the movie Kill Bill Vol.2) and Teddy Pendergrass with “Bad Luck”.
But not everything was Philadelphia sound in the country of stars and stripes. On the dance floors, people moved under the mirror ball and the Xeno-Flash lights to the rhythm of Carl Douglas and “Kung Fu Fighting” or George Macrae and “Rock You Baby” (song composed by Henry White Casey and Richard Finch, who years later would form a group that would achieve world fame in dance music, KC and The Sunshine Band).
More numbers 1. As it could not be less, as in previous years, the ExBeatles also enjoyed the taste of success. Paul McCartney came out on top with “Band On The Run”; John Lennon, with the invaluable collaboration of his friend Elton John on choirs and keyboards, would do it with “Whatever Gets You The NIght”; and finally, Ringo Starr, with a version of Johnny Burnette’s classic, “You’re Sixteen”, and the help of his friend McCartney on guitar, would also be a success.
Continuing this review to 1974 we find greats of Country music, such as John Denver with “Annie Song”, who would repeat success with “Sunshine On My Shoulders”; Gordon Lightfoot with “Sundown”, Ray Stevens with “The Streak”, or Billy Swan with “I Can Help” (a song that Elvis would cover in 1975 for his album “Today“).
We also have classics of the time like Olivia Newton John and “I Honestly Love You”, Elton John and “Bennie and The Jets”, Barbra Streisand with “The Way We Are”, which would be one of the songs that would occupy the most time in 1974 the first place, with 3 weeks, just like an old glory, the Canadian composer Paul Anka, accompanied by Odia Coates with “You’re Having My Baby”.
More examples of old glories that continue in the gap, like Cher and her hit “Dark Lady”, or Stevie Wonder with “You Haven’t Done Nothing”, with the Jackson Five on chorus.
Another black performer who also had her date with success in 1974 was Roberta Flack with “Feel Like Make Love.” But apart from the previously mentioned Philadelphia sound, another style, both of music and philosophy of life, was beginning to be introduced. It was Reggae, which had already established itself in England thanks to the large Jamaican community that lived there. Massive recognition came with a Bob Marley composition, “I Shot The Sheriff”, with which Eric Clapton would touch musical heaven.
Folk roots performers also had a good year. Jim Croce and his song “Time A Bottle”, the Canadian composer Terry Jacks with “Seasons On The Sun”, or Harry Chapin and his “Cats In The Craddle”. It wasn’t a bad year for the groups either, with the Steve Miller Band and its “The Joker”, Paper Lace with “The Night Chicago Died” and Bachman-Turner Overdrive with “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” managing to top the Billboard charts.
The New Yorkers of Grand Funk and their electro-funk were successful with a version of the classic “The Locomotion”, and Blue Swede would do the same with a version of a song composed by Mark James for B.J. Thomas (two of the main culprits in Elvis’s revival at the end of the 60’s). The theme was “Hooked On A Feeling”, which Quentin Tarantino would later use as part of the “Reservoir Dogs” soundtrack, bringing it back to the fore.
There were also other solo artists who had their moment of glory, such as the black singer Al Wilson and his “Show And Tall”, Andy Kim with “Rock Me Gently”, the keyboardist Billy Preston (who continued to take advantage of his relationship in the past with The Beatles) with “Nothing From Nothing” and, finally, the Australian actress and singer Helen Reddy would reach the top with “Angie Baby”.
A very varied year and with many alternatives, although if there was a great winner, it was the Philadelphia sound, which would continue to be popular even next year, before its fall in the mid-70s, laying the foundations so that in a future the so-called “Disco” sound will emerge. But that, dear friends, is already part of another exciting and wonderful history of music.
Information provided by Cesar Valle (Torrelavega – Spain)
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