ALBUM CHART HISTORY
Researched and written by Sharon Mawer
1970 was dominated by the album, Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, number one for 24 weeks out of the 52. They'd had success before, even a previous number one album with Bookends, but nothing like this. Bridge entered the chart in mid February, spent 13 weeks at no.1, holding off at no.2 the soundtracks to Paint Your Wagon and Easy Rider, Paul McCartney's debut solo album and Andy Williams Greatest Hits, although this album would return to top the chart for 5 weeks in December and into 1971. Bridge was Simon & Garfunkel's final studio album together spending a total of 34 weeks at the top, and it featured a variety of styles from the epic ballads The Boxer and the powerful, gospel influenced title track along with fun harmony pop songs Keep The Customer Satisfied, Baby Driver and Cecelia, mixed with Latin American and Caribbean influenced tracks El Condor Paso and Why Don't You Write Me. During the course of recording the album, the duo grew further and further apart and this was to be their final recording together, although they did re-unite years later for concerts and a few other projects.
Both Paint Your Wagon and Easy Rider soundtracks were among the top 5 sellers of the year. The former being an updated film of a stage musical by Lerner and Loewe starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood as a couple of gold prospectors in California who both fall for the same woman and had the dubious distinction of featuring both actors singing on the soundtrack, neither of whom were noted previously for their previous musical ability, however a single of Lee's Wandrin Star was released and was a chart topping single. Easy Rider was a surprise box office hit in the summer of 1969, a film about a couple of hippies who ride their motorcycles across Southwest USA to attend Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans and their adventures along the way. The most famous track on the soundtrack was the Steppenwolf hit Born To Be Wild, but it also featured songs by Jimi Hendrix, Byrds and Roger McGuinn and would have had The Band's The Weight except for licensing problems and the album featured a cover version by the band called Smith instead.
Paul McCartney recorded his first solo album at his studio home, playing nearly all of the instruments himself, none of the tracks becoming major hits but quite a few achieving cult status over the years, Every Night, Maybe I'm Amazed and The Lovely Linda among them and the album also included a fair number of instrumentals including Valentine Day, Hot As Sun Glasses, Momma Miss America and Singalong Junk. McCartney, like his fellow Beatles, had begun to explore creative avenues away from the band during the late 1960s but whereas they had released experimental records, especially in the case of Lennon with his Unfinished music albums, McCartney concentrated on writing and producing material for other pop acts, notably Badfinger and Mary Hopkin.
Andy Williams-Greatest Hits, a perfect present for the older generation at Christmas, had been released in April, but didn't top the chart until December, by which time it had become one of the top 10 selling albums of 1970. Williams had begun his career as early as 1944 appearing as a backing singer on Bing Crosby's Swinging On A Star and went solo in 1952, achieving his only no.1 single with his very first hit in 1957, Butterfly, not featured on this greatest hits album again due to licensing problems.
Bridge returned to no.1 for 4 weeks in June, denying The Nice a week at the top with their classical progressive rock album Five Bridges and a further 5 weeks in July and August stopping at no.2 the Elvis Presley live album On Stage and Free's Fire And Water. The Nice Five Bridges was their second top 10 album and was a heavy intermingling of synthesizer, electric guitar and a full orchestra which was getting closer to classical music than progressive rock. Split into five sections, some instrumental, others vocal and numbered 1st Bridge to 5th Bridge and was a showcase for both the orchestration and Keith Emerson's keyboard playing. Elvis Presley-On Stage was a live album of recordings made at the International Hotel in Las Vegas in February featuring mostly cover versions of recent hits, Release Me, Sweet Caroline, Hey Jude and Proud Mary, as well as live versions of his own hits Suspicious Minds and In The Ghetto and it did also introduce his own The Wonder Of You which as a live recording was a number one single for 6 weeks in the summer. An album that Elvis fans would have loved, but would have bypassed non Elvis fans totally. Free were formed in 1968 by Paul Kossoff, Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke and Andy Fraser and played at the same blues clubs in London as Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull. Fire And Water was their first chart album, although the band had previously released Tons Of Sobs and the eponymous Free, neither reaching the chart at all. Fire And Water ended with the no.2 single All Right Now, re-released several times since 1970 as well as similar rock tracks with heavy guitar riffs, Mr Big and the title track and slow blues tracks Oh I Wept, Remember and Don't Say You Love Me.
Apart from the live Elvis album and Bridge Over Troubled Water, no other no.1 albums spawned no.1 singles during 1970, unless one includes the compilation Motown Chartbusters Volume 3, the fifth best seller of the year, spending just one week at the top immediately before Bridge took over. This was the latest in the line of packaged albums by Motown and broke away from the policy of volume two which shied away from bigger hits in order to promote the lesser known tracks on the label. Volume three featured the number one single, Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine as well as the hit versions of I'm Gonna Make You Love Me, My Cherie Amour, This Old Heart Of Mine, I'll Pick A Rose For My Rose, Dancing In The Street, For Once In My Life, Get Ready, Behind A Painted Smile and Tracks Of My Tears, all top 10 hits. Volume 4, also a number one album in October, marked the label's 10th anniversary and featured the hit versions of I Want You Back, The Onion Song, I Can't Help Myself, Up The Ladder To The Roof, Too Busy Thinking Bout My Baby, Yesterme Yesteryou Yesterday, ABC, Never Had A Dream Come True and Farewell Is A Lonely Sound, again all top 10 singles, nine on one LP following the ten on Volume 3.
Another no.1 album with no.1 singles on it was the Rolling Stones live Get Yer Ya Yas Out, recorded during their US tour in 1969, featuring Honky Tonk Woman and Jumpin Jack Flash and other live songs from the Beggars Banquet/Let It Bleed albums. The number one albums that came closest to spawning a singles chart topper were the Beatles Let It Be and Moody Blues Question Of Balance featuring the no.2 hits Let It Be and Question respectively.
Let It Be was not the Beatles final album, but was the last of the studio albums to reach the charts. Produced by Phil Spector amidst acrimonious and only occasional get togethers by the band, it was originally scheduled to be titled Get Back after one of its tracks and a single released over a year before the album finally came out due to all the members of the Beatles being unhappy with the project. It also included the tracks Across The Universe and the Beatles final US chart topper, The Long And Winding Road. The Moody Blues spent three weeks at the top with Question Of Balance, their fifth chart album, in the summer of 1970. This was the group's first attempt to break away from the psychedelic sound they had been associated with, to a harder rock sound, using the Mellotron less than on previous albums and relying more on conventional guitars. How Is It We Are Here, however, was a track that showed they had not left the psychedelic blues behind totally. And The Tide Rushes In and Melancholy Man were both big orchestrated ballads and Don't You Feel Small and The Tortoise And The Hare were mellow mid paced songs.
At the other end of the scale there were four no.1 albums that didn't have any hit singles of any sort at all, two by Led Zeppelin at either end of the year, Led Zeppelin 2 and 3, although they made a policy of not releasing singles, as at this time did Pink Floyd with Atom Heart Mother and Bob Dylan with New Morning, his final no.1 album of 6 in total. Led Zeppelin 2 one of the standard heavy rock albums of all time, the stand out track being Whole Lotta Love, but the album was filled with classic blues riffs, featured on The Lemon Song and Bring It On Home, mostly borrowed directly from their heroes Howlin Wolf and Willie Dixon. Led Zeppelin 2 was the second biggest album of 1970. By the time of their third album, there was a more acoustic, folk foundation on tracks such as Gallows Pole, That's The Way, Hats Off To Roy Harper and Bron Y Aur Stomp (named after the mountain retreat in Wales where the track was recorded), although the album had its share of out and out rockers like Immigrant Song, Out On The Tiles and Celebration Day.
Atom Heart Mother was Pink Floyd's first number one album, the title track taking up the entire side one of the album, split into six joined sub-tracks with titles such as Fathers Shout, Breast Milky and Mother Fore, a 23 minute instrumental piece, apart from the choral singing, which moved them firmly into prog rock territory. The shorter songs on side two included the Roger Waters ballad If, David Gilmour's Fat Old Sun and the not so short, twelve minute instrumental, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, complete with breakfast cooking sound effects.
Bob Dylan wasted no time after the comparative failure of Self Portrait despite reaching no.1 for one week in July. Self Portrait was a double album containing left-over tracks, cover versions of hits such as The Boxer, Let It Be Me, Take A Message To Mary and Blue Moon and originals written by Dylan for other acts who performed them much better than he ever did such as Mighty Quinn, made famous by Manfred Mann. So less than four months later, he released New Morning, which topped the chart for one week in November, an album with a variety of styles including 12 tracks all written by Bob Dylan including the pop song If Not For You, jazz influenced If Dogs Run Free, blues on One More Weekend and gospel tinged Sign On The Window and the title track New Morning.
Beginning the year at the top were the Beatles with Abbey Road, as they had done every year since 1964 but would not do so again until 2001. The Beatles spent 8 weeks of 1970 at no.1, 5 with Abbey Road and 3 with Let It Be, a total only bettered by Simon & Garfunkel. With them spending nearly half the year at no.1 and Andy Williams seeing the year out, a no.2 for Tom Jones Live In Las Vegas, and other big albums by Melanie, Shirley Bassey, Herb Alpert, Nana Mouskouri and Pentangle, easy listening or MOR albums were quite a potent force among the best sellers of 1970.
Tom Jones-Live In Las Vegas, featured mostly cover versions I Can't Stop Loving You, Yesterday, Hey Jude and even Twist And Shout, but also several of his own hits Delilah, Its Not Unusual and Help Yourself. Melanie Safka was born in New York in 1947 and her first professional gigs were at small clubs in Greenwich Village in 1967, appropriate for a singer closely associated with flower power. Her first two albums Born To Be and Affectionately, were not commercial successes, but only after an appearance at Woodstock did she write and record the track Lay Down Candles In The Rain as a tribute to the audience at Woodstock, did she finally breakthrough to the album charts and the public heard her song-writing and singing skills on such tracks as What Have They Done To My Song Ma and Leftover Wine which she later turned into a live album at Carnegie Hall, but also her plaintive cover version of the Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday.
Shirley Bassey also covered a major song, Something and recorded an album featuring a whole series of songs not usually associated with her or her style of music including Light My Fire, Spinning Wheel and Easy To Be Hard.
Nana Mouskouri is fluent in Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and of course English which has enabled her to sell albums all over Europe. Mainly her repertoire consisted of jazz standards, famous pop tunes from before the rock era and folk songs from her native Greece. Ioana Mouskouri was born in Crete in 1934 and had been recording since the late 1950s, but her first English language record was not until 1962 in collaboration with Quincy Jones, she recorded an album called The Girl From Greece Sings. By 1969, she had recorded her first album aimed at the British market, Over And Over, followed by The Exquisite Nana Mouskouri, both top 10 albums during 1970. Over And Over featured classic ballads such as Scarborough Fair and First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and also The White Rose Of Athens, a song she had been associated with since her early recording days and also My Friend The Wind which would later become part of a number one EP for another Greek singer, Demis Roussos. The Exquisite Nana Mouskouri included her cover versions of Both Sides Now and The 59th Street Bridge Song and also some French language tracks.
Although Herb Alpert hadn't had many hit singles in the UK, most of them were included on the Greatest Hits this year including Lonely Bull, Spanish Flea and Tijuana Taxi as well as Cabaret, A Taste Of Honey and Hello Dolly. The album peaked at no. 8 and might have done better had it included his biggest single, This Guys In Love With You, but it didn't. Pentangle featuring Jacqui McShee on vocals, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn on guitars, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox on bass and drums were a folk group with overtones of 1960s psychedelia. Their third album and only top 10, Basket Of Light, peaking at no 5 features songs ranging from religious chanting Lyke Wake Dirge to plaintiff ballads The Hunting Song, The Cuckoo and Once I Had A Sweetheart.
Another major genre was heavy rock, two number one albums from Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath's Paranoid, but also top 10 albums from Deep Purple-Deep Purple In Rock, Live Cream, Ten Years After-Cricklewood Green, and Groundhogs-Thank Christ For The Bomb. But in 1970 the distinction between hard rock and the new genre of progressive rock was difficult to determine. Alongside the no.1 Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd were Moody Blues-Question Of Balance mentioned earlier, Jethro Tull's Benefit, Emerson Lake & Palmer's self titled debut album, King Crimson-In The Wake Of Posidon and Blodwyn Pig's second top 10 album Getting To This.
Black Sabbath was originally a jazz/blues band called Polka Tulk but eventually took their name from a Dennis Wheatley occult novel. Tony Iommi, William Ward, John "Ozzy" Osbourne and Terence "Geezer" Butler released a debut self titled album early in 1970 and a fanbase built by constant live shows, took it into the top 10. Songs such as the title track, NIB, A Bit Of Finger and The Wizard showing an almost obsessive interest in the occult. A debut album that begins with a thunderstorm and eerie church bells on the title track, showed a great deal of confidence. They quickly followed this with a major hit single and the title track of the second album Paranoid, a number one album and a metal classic from day one featuring all time great tracks Iron Man and War Pigs, moving away from the occult into even darker themes of death, nuclear war, mental illness and drug abuse.
Deep Purple formed in 1968 had already enjoyed chart success (but not much) with Concerto For Group And Orchestra, a hybrid of classical pomp and rock with five tracks all longer than 12 minutes and featuring similar themes to The Moody Blues Days Of Future Past or Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother, if one can discern a theme in mostly instrumental improvised jamming. Becoming famed for their multiple changes in line up, several albums had failed altogether, including their debut Shades Of Deep Purple featuring the US hit Hush, the self titled Deep Purple disappeared very quickly as did a fourth album The Book Of Taliesyn but finally they hit the top 10 with Deep Purple In Rock with the new line up of Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover recruited from the psychedelic pop band Episode Six. The album did not feature any hit singles, even though they did not share Led Zeppelin's aversion to releasing them, the hit single Black Night, not one of the tracks, Speed King, Bloodsucker and Flight Of The Rat showing that the band had abandoned the route of prog rock and classical crossover in favour of very heavy and very loud metal although Child In Time showed a degree of subtlety.
Live Cream was basically a live version of the first album Fresh Cream with four tracks appearing on that album and only the fifth, Lawdy Mama a new blues track given a jazz flavour by the band, but unusually for them, lasting less than three minutes, most of the album taken up by two tracks NSU and Sweet Wine, originally both around three minutes long, but transferred in their live versions into songs lasting over 25 minutes between them.
Ten Years After-Cricklewood Green, their fifth and most successful album, featuring their only hit single Love Like A Man was a blues influenced rock album with guitarist Alvin Lee at his fastest, although Year 3000 Blues was a country and western track. A novel album that played at different speeds on either side, 33 rpm on one and 45 on the other. The Groundhogs were named by Tony McPhee after a John Lee Hooker song, and they had three top 10 albums in the early 1970s, the first of which was Thank Christ For The Bomb which hit no.9 the last week of June, although this was their fourth attempt with various line ups, now down to a trio, with Peter Cruickshank remaining from the early albums and now joined by drummer Ken Pustelnik. The album sleeve which was a sepia photo that seemed to be taken from the battlefields of Vietnam, and the theme of many of tracks being anti establishment and anti war including the opening track Strange Town Alienness Of A Community, Soldier Alienness Of A Country and the title track.
On Benefit by Jethro Tull, they totally abandoned their blues roots and made an unashamed folk album with melodic harmonies and acoustic guitar along with Ian Anderson's trademark flute on the tracks Nothing To Say, To Cry You A Song, Inside, Play In Time and Sossity You're A Woman. This was also the third album in a row to have a track with Jeffrey in the title, after Song For Jeffrey and Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square, now came For Michael Collins Jeffrey And Me. They had left the blues sound to the offshoot band Blodwyn Pig, formed by former Jethro Tull member Mick Abrahams, who charted inside the top 10 with their second album during 1970, Getting To This.
Also appearing for the second time in the top 10 were King Crimson with In The Wake Of Poseidon. Having lost two key band members Ian McDonald and Michael Giles and a third member, Greg Lake voicing dissatisfaction with the band's direction and about to join up with Emerson Lake & Palmer, Robert Fripp was the band's only musical force. An 11 minute song Devils Triangle was based on Holst' Mars from The Planet Suite. That aside and the tracks Pictures Of A City, this was a mellower album than the previous years In The Court Of The Crimson King.
Following his departure from King Crimson, Greg Lake joined with Keith Emerson, formally of The Nice and Carl Palmer who was with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster. Together the three already well known rock stars made a supergroup in the mould of Cream and were the epitome of the genre of prog rock, over the top live performances, solo showcases by each of the band members and even a juggernaut each with their names on the tops to carry their stage equipment. The first album, a top 4 hit in December featured the band's trademark sound right from the start, keyboard dominated instrumentals The Barbarian, Tank and Three Fates vocals and instrumental breaks on Knife Edge and soaring ballads like Lucky Man with Take A Pebble a mixture of all of them.
There were also a lot of jazz or blues influenced rock albums, Creedence Clearwater Revival's Cosmos Factory and Willy And The Poor Boys, Family's Song For Me and Anyway, Canned Heat-Cookbook, Santana's Abraxas, John Mayall's Empty Rooms and the first two albums by Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago. Two Family albums released in 1970, A Song For Me was the heavier of the two, with some tracks bordering on indulgent prog rock, Drowned In Wine and the title track A Song For Me, and others almost folk in style, Stop For The Traffic and Song For Sinking Lovers.This was the most successful Family album, peaking at no.4 and the usual line up was joined by Poli Palmer on flute, perhaps influenced by the success of Jethro Tull. The second album, Anyway was a live album on one side and studio recorded tracks on the other, another mixture of hard rock and psychedelic tracks with some folk thrown in for good measure. All the tracks were written by the band leaders Roger Chapman and John Whitney, except the instrumental Normans which Poli Palmer took a main credit.
Canned Heat's Cookbook was a compilation of the band's hits and featured all three singles to date, On The Road Again, Going Up The Country and the new single Let's Work Together which had just reached no.2.
Santana were the first and most successful band in their genre of Latin rock. They emerged from the psychedelic music scene of San Francisco in the 60s and as they progressed, their sound never lost its distinctive style. Carlos Santana, born in Mexico in 1947 began by playing the blues guitar, originally called his band Santana Blues Band but shortened it in time to record their first album Santana in 1969 during the same month they gained a much wider audience appearing at Woodstock. The second album, Abraxas was considerably more successful, peaking at no.7 and no.1 in the US and featuring the a cover of Fleetwood Mac's Black Magic Woman, the instrumentals Samba Pa Ti and Singing Winds Crying Beasts and yet another cover version made their own Oye Como Va, originally by salsa musician Tito Puente.
John Mayall having by now dispensed with the services of guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor, all of whom had passed through the ranks of the John Mayall Blues Breakers, now with the line-up of Jon Mark, Johnny Almond and Steve Thompson, he released his final top 10 album, Empty Rooms, no.9 for one week in April. Empty Rooms was a mixture of styles from the country guitar track Don't Waste My Time to the folk track Don't Pick A Flower, the jazz influenced Something New and Blues on Waiting For The Right Time and Thinking About My Woman.
Late in 1969, a new band appeared in the chart with the unlikely name of Chicago Transit Authority. By the beginning of the new decade they were in the top 10 and during 1970, they shortened their name to Chicago and achieved a second top 10 album with the self titled Chicago, although this second album later came to be known as Chicago 2. They were formed, not surprisingly in Chicago by reed player Walter Parazaider, trumpeter Lee Loughnane, trombonist James Pankow, guitarist Terry Kath and drummer Danny Seraphine. When The Buckinghams, led by a friend of Parazaider hit no.1 in the US singles chart with Kind Of A Drag featuring a very prominent horn section, it convinced Parazaider that there would be mileage in a rock band using brass instruments, which had not widely been attempted before. They invited another friend, Robert Lamm, an organist to join the band and still known at this time as The Big Thing, they invited yet another band member to join, Peter Cetera. The first album, released after the name change was a double album with the brass instrumentation much to the fore, and included a hit single cover version of Spencer Davis Group's I'm A Man along with other memorable tracks, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, Beginnings and Questions 67 & 68 but there was nearly seven minutes of car crash sounds and screeches on the track Free Form Guitar. After the intervention of the actual Chicago Transit Authority, the band shortened their name simply to the city of their birth. The second album, known simply as Chicago was another double album, the band having more material than they knew what to do with in these early days. Tracks included Colour My World, Make Me Smile and 25 or 6 to 4 was another hit single but although the albums kept on coming thick and fast, the hit singles dried up until a total change of style in the mid 70s.
Creedence Clearwater Revival had reached no.20 with their debut chart album Green River, but it was the two follow ups, both released in 1970 which attracted more attention, Willy And The Poor Boys giving them their first top 10 and Cosmos Factory their only number one. The band had formed nearly ten years previously in San Francisco by brothers John & Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. Both the first two albums Creedence Clearwater Revival and Bayou Country had sunk almost without trace, the second one, Bayou Country finally charting as high as no 62 after Green River had brought them to public attention, even though it featured the band's first hit single Proud Mary. Willie And The Poor Boys opened with the track Down On The Corner while Cosmos factory was full of hit singles, Travellin Band, Looking Out My Back Door, Long As I Can See The Light and Up Around The Bend although the band did experiment on this album with an 11 minute cover version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine.
There were a number of live albums in the 1970 charts. As well as the no.1 by the Rolling Stones, there was Tom Jones Live In Las Vegas and Elvis Presley's On Stage both at no.2, another Elvis album From Memphis To Vegas From Vegas To Memphis, recorded live in Las Vegas the previous year and includes Mystery Train, Tiger Man, Johnny B Goode, I Can't Stop Loving You and a seven minute long version of Suspicious Minds, and the Who Live At Leeds at no.3, a six track, 38 minute compilation of their 2 hour gig at the University Refectory in Leeds, including theie version of Summertime Blues. Other live albums released in 1970 included Jimi Hendrix Band Of Gypsies, Live Cream and Johnny Cash At San Quentin at no.4, although the Johnny Cash album had been as high as no.2 the previous year, one of three top 10 albums for Johnny Cash in 1970 along with World Of Johnny Cash and Hello I'm Johnny Cash, the latest in the long line of Decca releases in their mid price "world of" series and a new country/blues album. Also with three albums in the top 10 was Andy Williams, Greatest Hits, Cant Help Falling In Love and The Andy Williams show, a studio album with added applause by the record company as an afterthought to make to it sound like a live album, and Tom Jones with Live In Las Vegas, Tom and I Who Have Nothing, two studio albums filled with covers and MOR standards, including the tracks Love's Been Good To Me, Try A Little Tenderness, What The World Needs Now Is Love, To Love Somebody, I Have Dreamed, Brother Can You Spare A Dime and his hit single from 1970, Daughter Of Darkness.
Not surprisingly 1970 was the one and only appearance of the England World Cup Squad 1970 with World Beaters Sing The World Beaters featuring the no.1 single Back Home. The album reached no.4 although the team could only reach the final eight, knocked out in the quarter finals by West Germany. The album featured the songs Back Home as well as recent hits performed in football team style, Lily The Pink, Sugar Sugar, Puppet On A String, Ob La Di Ob La Da and Congratulations. There are not many copies of this album left in circulation.
After three volumes of Best Of during the previous 4 years, The Beach Boys released Greatest Hits, although to be fair to the band, it was their record label Capitol which actually chose to release this as the band departed for a different record company. Also back in the top 10 for the first time for nine years was The Everly Brothers with Original Greatest Hits. On the final week of the year, Frank Sinatra peaked at no.6 with Greatest Hits Volume 2 which included My Way and Love's Been Good To Me, but other tracks, Yesterday, For Once In My Life, Born Free, Little Green Apples, Both Sides Now and Mrs Robinson were hits for other artists, not Frank Sinatra.
After the demise of the Beatles, both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr released their first solo albums. Also making their debut in 1970 were the previous mentioned Free, Melanie, Chicago Transit Authority, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Black Sabbath, Groundhogs and Nana Mouskouri. Also in the chart for the first time were Joni Mitchell with Ladies Of The Canyon and Frank Zappa's Hot Rats.
Ringo Starr, born Richard Starkey, was the drummer in the Beatles and thus one of the most famous musicians of the 1960s. Though the least prominent member of the quartet, he distinguished himself as a singer of novelty numbers such as Yellow Submarine. After the Beatles split, he released a solo album so far removed from the material he had been performing, with standards of years ago including Night And Day, Whispering Grass, Stardust, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, You Always Hurt The One You Love and even Bye Bye Blackbird.
Frank Zappa began his musical career which has always been impossible to categorise, in 1964 with a local California band The Soul Giants which eventually evolved into The Mothers. They released their first album, a double called Freak Out in 1966 with the band now calling themselves the Mothers Of Invention. The early albums varied in style between a full orchestral work, Lumpy Gravy, to a Doo-Wop/Rock n Roll disc Cruising With Ruben And The Jets. The first chart success occurred in 1970 with the album credited to himself as a solo effort, Hot Rats which was a jazz/rock album with improvised jams on six tracks including Willie The Pimp, Son Of Mr Green Genes and The Gumbo Variations, all clocking in at over nine minutes long. Five of the six tracks, excluding Willie The Pimp were instrumentals and seven of the nine minutes of this track was a guitar jam. Although this was officially a solo album project, it featured some very famous guest appearances by Captain Beefheart, Jean Luc Ponty and Lowell George.
Joni Mitchell evolved from originally being a stylish folk singer songwriter into an artist who over the years has encompassed many styles from jazz to pop and world music. Born in Canada in 1943, Roberta Joan Anderson married the folk singer Chuck Mitchell in the mid 60s. Her first two albums Song To A Seagull and Clouds were not at all successful but the third album Ladies Of The Canyon reached the top 10 featuring the hit single Big Yellow Taxi, commenting humorously on the eco situation and also her own composition Woodstock, not released as a single but covered and taken to no.1 by Matthews Southern Comfort. Joni Mitchell appealed to mainly to unhappy woman with her acoustic guitar or simple piano background under her soaring plaintiff voice.
The mid price chart continued throughout 1970 as a weekly chart. These charts were dominated by MOR artists with re-issued albums, specifically for a mid-price market or with new titles, compiled by their record companies as a taster for more up to date LPs. Jim Reeves spent 29 weeks at no.1, 27 of them with Golden Records and 2 with the Twelve Songs Of Christmas LP, Mantovani hit no.1 with both volumes 1 and 2 of World Of Mantovani, Buddy Holly-Greatest Hits Vol 2, Val Doonican-World Of, Herb Alpert-This Guys In Love With You and Cliff Richard-Live At The Talk Of The Town all topped the chart as did three samplers, Rockbuster, Total Sound and Easy Listening and there were also high charting albums in the mid price section by Rolf Harris, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and The Bachelors.
Record company samplers were doing so well that on the 24th January, they too were given their own chart. Samplers were defined as albums priced between 15/- and 19/11 (75p-99p) if they were specifically aimed to promote full price product. The chart was produced between 24 Jan 1970 - 26 Sep 1970 and there were only four number one albums during this period. Tighten Up Vol 2 which had already been a number one album on the mid price charts in 1969, Fill Your Head With Rock, a double album CBS compilation featuring Chicago, Santana, Spirit, Trees, Al Kooper, Taj Mahal and Johnny Winter. Picnic-A Breath Of Fresh Air on Harvest records, a subsidiary of EMI with tracks from Deep Purple, Barclay James Harvest, Pink Floyd, Kevin Ayres and The Edgar Broughton Band, and finally an Island records sampler entitled Bumpers which featured Traffic, Spooky Tooth, Jethro Tull, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Fotheringay and Clouds. These albums are still highly collectable due to the relatively obscure tracks chosen from artists who would, in some cases go on to dominate the 1970s albums market. However at the end of September, the Samplers chart was discontinued and new titles appeared alongside the mid price albums in their chart.
Another phenomenon that had not showed up in any chart activity until 1970 was the rise of the true budget album. Although the mid price chart had originally been called a budget chart, it still excluded LPs retailing for less than 15/- (75p) and there were a lot of albums produced from the late 1960s onwards with a retail price of 14/6 (72p) or even less. On the 24th of January, the extremely low priced budget albums were also given their own chart. Admittedly, some of the albums were cheap in both price and nature, The Torero Band Lennon & McCartney Tijuana Style, Geoff Love Big Western Movie Themes and the Strings For Pleasure Orchestra Plays Simon & Garfunkel being some examples, but Jim Reeves and The Seekers both topped the new budget charts with Country Side Of Jim Reeves, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, Four And Only Seekers and Roving With The Seekers.
Another major genre was the cover version re-recordings of the hits of the day. As early as 1962, Bill Wellings had come up with the idea of EPs containing several hits of the day, re-recorded by anonymous studio session musicians and singers. He called this first series Top 10 and several of these EPs charted in the EP charts during the mid 1960s. In June 1968, the first in a series of LPs on the Hallmark label under the banner Top Of The Pops was released. This album featured versions of Young Girl, Jennifer Eccles, My Name Is Jack, Blue Eyes Lovin Things and I Can't Let Maggie Go and of course was ineligible for the chart due to its low price. Volume 11 was released in July 1970 and became the first volume to top the chart featuring hits from summer 1970, Spirit In The Sky, Back Home, Yellow River, Question, Cottonfields and Honey Come Back. In September, another long running series was born, MFP's Hot Hits volume 1 which also had up to date tracks from the late summer, In The Summertime, Lola, Neanderthal Man, Groovin With Mr Bloe, Up Around The Bend and Sally. In December Top Of The Pops Volume 13 hit the top featuring Tears Of A Clown, Band Of Gold, You Can Get It If You Really Want It, Montego Bay, Close To You and Me And My Life. Both series also became famous by their cover art which always featured a scantily clad model on the front of the LP sleeve with brightly coloured backgrounds and always a complete track listing, the most important selling point of each album, being as up to date as possible. As a weekly listing, the budget charts only ran until the end of April and then became a monthly chart, compiled on the first week of the month and showing a completely combined list of all albums irrelevant of price.
Back to the main LP charts and appearing for the first time in the top 10 although they had previously charted their debut album lower down, were Crosby Stills Nash & Young-D�j� Vu. David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash got together and concentrated on soft rock albums, unlike the Byrds, Hollies and Buffalo Springfield the bands from where they had come. The debut album featuring the hit Marrakesh Express and a few other harmonious pop songs, Judy Blue Eyes and Long Time Gone. By the time of the second album D�j� Vu, they had added Neil Young to the line-up. D�j� Vu peaked at no.5 in the UK and no.1 in the US. This album included their version of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock and another major radio hit Teach Your Children.
Of the other US chart toppers during 1970, Blood Sweat & Tears 3 peaked at no.14 in the UK but the Soundtrack to the film Woodstock could get no higher than no.35. Other US top five albums from 1970 included The Beatles Hey Jude, a compilation only released in the USA, Sly & Family Stone and The Fifth Dimension Greatest hits (two different albums obviously) Jackson Five Third Album and Grand Funk Railroad Live, all could not find a place at all in the UK charts. The Carpenters Close To You, Joe Cocker Mad Dogs And Englishmen, Jackson Five ABC and Diana Ross presents the Jackson Five, Doors Morrison Hotel, Traffic John Barleycorn Must Die and The Band's Stage Fright all did not do much better, all charting between positions 11 and 23.
Of the artists with no.1 singles during 1970, there was no room at all in the album charts for no fewer than seven of them, Edison Lighthouse, Dana, Norman Greenbaum, Christie, Freda Payne, Dave Edmunds and Smokey Robinson & Miracles. Mungo Jerry, despite having the biggest selling single of the year, could only place their album at no.13.
NUMBER OF TOP 10 ALBUMS - 71
NUMBER OF #1 ALBUMS - 15
Top albums of 1970
1 Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
2 Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II
3 Soundtrack - Easy Rider
4 Soundtrack - Paint Your Wagon
5 Various - Motown Chartbusters Volume 3
6 Beatles - Let It Be
7 Beatles - Abbey Road
8 Andy Williams - Andy Williams Greatest Hits
9 Deep Purple - Deep Purple In Rock
10 Paul McCartney - McCartney
(c) 2007 Text: Sharon Mawer / Contact: Sharon Mawer
(c) 2007 All chart information: The Official UK Charts Company