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Any Major Hits from 1971

 

To me the sound of 1971 is fun and sunshine, mostly because when you are 4-5 years old, most memories are fun and sunshine (and snow, when snow is fun). I had elder siblings, so I’m sure I’ll have heard many of the songs featured here back 50 years ago, though of those, my only clear memory is of Danyel Gerard’s Butterfly, Never Ending Song Of Love (but in The New Seekers’ facile cover of the Bonnie & Delaney original), and Sweet’s Co-Co. And still, this mix evokes, to me, the feel of 1971. Which of course is the effect I’m trying to achieve here, rather than compiling a “Best of 1971” compilations — that would turn out as bit differently, though some tracks might feature on such a list, too.

There are many other songs not on this mix which I remember very well from back then: Middle of the Road’s Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, Soulful Dynamics’ Saah-Saah-Kumba-Kumba, Springwater’s mournful instrumental I Will Return (and its vocal version in German by Michael Holm), Dawn’s Knock Three Times, Clodagh Rodgers’ Jack In The Box, Middle of the Road’s Soley Soley, several versions of Mamy Blue, a number of schlager hits… and Peret’s Europe-wide novelty hit Borriquito, which is so impossibly catchy, I’ll add it as a bonus track.

It must be noted that 1971 was a better year for albums than it was for singles — and what a year for LPs it was! But the charts were great fun in their diversity and, certainly in the UK, some incongruity. In schlager-centric West-Germany, crooner Roy Black and hard rockers Black Sabbath peacefully coexisted in the charts. In the UK, American crooners Perry Como and Andy Williams (with his Home Lovin’ Man providing relief from the sexual liberation of the era) had huge hits amid a bit of a reggae craze and the incipient glam phase. The UK charts saw some good stuff at #1  — T. Rex, Slade, Diana Ross, The Tams. But the year began with a terrible rocking-chair novelty hit called Grandad by Clive Dunne at #1, and ended with a preposterous novelty song by Benny Hill at the top. I suppose fans of the TV series Dad’s Army and skirt-chasing comedy loved it. Suffice it to say, Benny Hill is not my bag of humour.

In Germany, Danyel Gerard’s Butterfly (not the English recording on this mix but the superior original arrangement, with German lyrics) spent 14 consecutive weeks at #1. That was knocked off the top by The Sweet with Co-Co, who reigned for six weeks before they got knocked off the charts by a rehatched Butterfly. The Sweet regained #1 for a week, but were then dumped by Peret and his Borriquito song for two weeks. Then Mamy Blue was at the top for ten weeks. When the Germans liked something, they clearly couldn’t let go of it. Butterfly was a huge hit throughout Europe. In the UK it stalled at #11; in the US at #76. I blame the inferior English arrangement. To see Gerard without beard and hat in the 1960s, check out this video with cool Paris street scene footage.

The US charts were much saner, but they became a bit bizarre for a bit when Vice-President Spyro Agnew — that unimpeachable beacon of probity — demonstrated how hip he was to the happening hit parades and condemned one song here for representing the acute dangers of the counterculture. I suppose country rockers Brewer & Shipley were quite happy for the publicity their song One Toke Over The Line received from the other wing of the White House.

 

French singer Danyel Gerard, whose Butterfly spent 14 consecutive weeks at #1 in West-Germany

 

For some the bands here, 1971 was a time of swansongs, or close to it. The Move, here with their UK #11 hit Tonight, would fold in 1972, when Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne (who shared the lead vocals on Tonight) and Bev Bevan went on to found the Electric Lights Orchestra.

For Ashton, Gardner & Dyke the chart action was over after their transatlantic hit (which was covered by, of course, Tom Jones), the only single of theirs to chart. They’d split in 1972.

Badfinger had one more hit in the UK — but none with their most famous song Without You, which would become a huge hit for Harry Nilsson in 1972. The sad story of that song, which led to at least one suicide, is told in brief in The Originals – 1970s Vol. 1.

John Kongos had two UK #4 hits in 1971, and nothing else. 1971 was a good year for him: apart from his own hits, two of his songs, Won’t You Join Me und Will You Follow Me were huge hits in German for Israeli singer Daliah Lavi as Oh, wann kommst du und Willst du mit mir geh’n.

The Five Man Electrical Band followed their US #3 hit Signs with another Top 30 song, but they never reached even that height anymore until they split in 1975. They did have a bunch of hits in their native Canada.

The soul band Free Movement only ever released one album and four singles. One might say that a Us Top 5 hit is not a bad strike rate.

Other acts would go on to huge things, such as T.Rex, Sweet and Slade. For The Sweet, Co-Co was the breakthrough; after two disappointing chart-placings they’d rack up seven consecutive UK Top 10 singles. Slade also broke through with their second hit. Chart-topper Coz I Luv You was followed by 11 consecutive Top 5 singles (five of them #1s). T.Rex would have nine more consecutive Top 10 hits, to add to the track here and on the 1970 mix.

Finally, if you feel the tracks by US soul bands The Fantastics, Johnny Johnson & The Bandwagon and English pop group The Fortunes have a similar sound, you may be right. All three tracks were written by the songwriting team of Tony Macaulay, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway (as was Home Lovin’ Man, the Andy Williams hit mentioned earlier).

If you dig the feel of 1971, take a look at the collection of posters from West-Germany’s Bravo magazine in 1971 (other years are available, too). And two previous mixes of hits from as particular year are available: 1970 and 1944.

The mix is timed to be in CD-R (or double LP) length and includes home-stomped covers. The text above is included in an illustrated PDF booklet (including the charts from June 1971). PW in comments.

1. Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – Resurrection Shuffl
2. John Kongos – He’s Gonna Step On You Again
3. Slade – Coz I Luv You
4. Badfinger – No Matter What
5. Five Man Electrical Band – Signs
6. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Treat Her Like A Lady
7. The Jackson 5 – Mama’s Pearl
8. The Fantastics – Something Old Something New
9. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Don’t Pull Your Love
10. Delaney & Bonnie & Friends – Never Ending Song Of Love
11. Lobo – Me And You And A Dog Named Boo
12. Brewer & Shipley – One Toke Over The Line
13. The Move – Tonight
14. Free – My Brother Jake
15. T. Rex – Hot Love
16. The Sweet – Co-Co
17. Mungo Jerry – Lady Rose
18. Johnny Johnson & His Bandwagon – (Blame It) On The Pony Express
19. The Fortunes – Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again
20. The Free Movement – I’ve Found Someone Of My Own
21. Cher – Gypsys, Tramps And Thieves
22. Georgie Fame & Alan Price – Rosetta
23. Tony Christie – I Did What I Did For Maria
24. Danyel Gerard – Butterfly (English Version)
Bonus Tracks:
Danyel Gerard – Butterfly (French Original)
Peret – Borriquito

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  1. amdwhah
    May 11th, 2021 at 10:44 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

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