High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Me Likey the 70s! Part 1



(& OLDER)...


Disco might have been the dominant musical trend of the 1970s but there was plenty
of great music produced in other categories during the so-called me decade. I'd like you to hear some of my favorites.


 Mountain men Felix Pappalardi and Leslie West  

The antithesis of disco, the Long Island hard rock band Mountain is credited as one of the forerunners of heavy metal. The band had its origins in the Vagrants, a blue eyed soul band inspired by the Rascals. My first exposure to the Vagrants was their 1967 East Coast hit "Respect," a killer cover of the Otis Redding/Aretha Franklin hit. I discovered the track decades ago on the epic garage rock compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968.

"Respect" - Vagrants (June 1967, uncharted) 

Super sized singer/songwriter/guitarist Leslie West, nicknamed The Fattest Fingers in Rock N' Roll, left the Vagrants to form a new band called Mountain. Mountain included, on bass guitar, the late Felix Pappalardi, a classically trained musician who had produced for the Vagrants as well as for the British psych-blues rock band Cream. Rounding out the titanic trio was drummer N.D. Smart. Mountain scored their biggest hit in 1970 with the #21 charting rocker "Mississippi Queen." My favorite Mountain performance is "Never in My Life," another track from their Climbing album.

Mountain had stones. Boulders might be a better word.
With lyrics that included:

When I wake up in the morning
You make me feel so good
Bringing me the cider whiskey
Feel a bit lonely too... 

"Never in My Life" was a macho, two-fisted, no apologies, no holds barred, no prisoners sonic avalanche that, once and for all, put the heavy in hard rock!

"Never in My Life" - Mountain (March 1970, 
uncharted track from album Climbing!

Leslie West was a very large man back in the day. He looked like a double serving of Meat Loaf. Both West and goth rock legend Meat Loaf are diabetic. In June of 2011 Leslie West needed to have his swollen leg amputated to save his life. Rock on, Leslie!


In the 1970s Ann Peebles was the reigning queen of R&B/soul at Hi Records and Al Green was king. Infidelity was a common theme in Ann's recording catalog. "Breaking Up Somebody's Home," the third biggest hit of her career, is my Pick to Click for this gifted thrush. The buttery smooth Hi horn section alone is worth the price of admission. Add Ann's sultry voice to the mix and you've got a southern soul sizzler!

"Breaking Up Somebody's Home" 
- Ann Peebles (March 1972, highest chart 
position #83 Hot 100, #13 R&B) 


"Hocus Pocus" cast its magic spell on me the very first time I heard it. The recording is a wacky, hallucinatory instrumental jam performed by Focus, a Dutch prog-rock/art-rock band from Amsterdam. The inventive recording has something for everybody: heavy guitar riffs, neo-classical organ, demented alpine yodeling, rapid-fire muppet gibberish uttered over a polka beat, an angelic falsetto, a manic flute solo in an echo chamber, an accordion solo, dubbed-in stadium applause, even whistling! On the full length album track the mayhem lasts nearly seven minutes! "Hocus Pocus" is infectious insanity, a studio masterpiece. The All Music Guide describes it as “the most inspired bit of looniness to come out of the prog rock era.” Originally released in 1971 on the Focus album Moving Waves, "Hocus Pocus" became a surprise top 10 hit on the American chart in the spring of 1973 - quite an unusual feat for a Dutch recording act. Best of all, "Hocus Pocus" still sounds fresh to me today. (Gee, I never thought I could love a record with yodeling on it!)

"Hocus Pocus" - Focus (March 1973, highest 
chart position #9 


In September of 1979 I went to see Sister Sledge on the Grandstand at the York Fair in a show that included the latest incarnation of Peaches and Herb. As expected the North Philly sister act performed "We Are Family," a disco song that had topped the charts a couple months earlier.
As I recall the girls also sang "He's the Greatest Dancer"
a top 10 hit from the spring of that year along with their
new release "Lost in Music."

I don't remember them singing "Mama Never Told Me," an obscure killer bee recorded in 1973 and originally released
on a 45 with "The Weatherman." Neither side of the single charted but "Mama Never Told Me" became an underground club hit and two years later reached the top 20 on the UK Singles chart. The extended mix of "Mama Never Told Me" was one of the tracks on my favorite dance music album
of the 70s, the heavily Phillyfied Disco-Trek.

"Mama Never Told Me" - Sister Sledge 
(1973, uncharted) 


I was already hooked on the sound of California's Doobie Brothers band from their early 70s hits "Listen to the Music," "Jesus is Just Alright," "Long Train Runnin'," "China Grove" and "Black Water." In 1975 Doobies co-founder Tom Johnston persuaded the band to record a cover of "Take Me in Your Arms," a 60s Motown hit written by Holland-Dozier-Holland, originally sung by Kim Weston and also covered by the Isley Brothers. Johnston was raised on soul music and that made him Dell rat material.  He won me over big time with his impassioned vocal rendition of the Motor City classic.

"Take Me in Your Arms" - Doobie Brothers 
 (June 1975, highest chart position #11) 


Shipped platinum, the record industry's barometer of massive sales success, aptly describes the fortunes of arena rock super group Foreigner. Their first four albums sold like hot cakes and were chock full of commercially appealing, radio friendly rock hits. The band, consisting of three British and three American members was one of the most successful acts of the 1970s and remained popular in the 80s despite changes in personnel and musical style. Foreigner was and still is led by English rock journeyman Mick Jones on guitar and vocals. Jones had been with Spooky Tooth and the Leslie West band after Mountain crumbled. During Foreigner's early hit-making years Jones' American counterpart was lead vocalist Lou Gramm. I have more Foreigner favorites than I can even count including their ballads, but it's their rock anthems that float my boat. Here's Foreigner at their gritty, low-down hard rockin' best: a high charting single extracted from their third album Head Games, "Dirty White Boy."

"Dirty White Boy" - Foreigner
(October 1979, 
highest chart position #12) 

Stay tuned. There's a Part 2 to Me Likey the 70s and it's coming your way soon!

Have a Shady day!


  1. Whoohooo! The 70's! The latter part of that decade is when I first started to become aware of music and explore my own musical tastes. I remember Sister Sledge well and Foreigner was hugely popular where I went to high school. In fact, their current incarnation played a large livestock show and rodeo last year near here. They still sounded great and it really brought back some memories.

    Thank you, good friend Shady, for putting this together and being our guide on such a delightful trip down memory lane this morning!

  2. Hi, Shelly! The pleasure is all mine! I love variety and my tastes are eclectic. I am well aware that I have young readers like you (baby Dell rats) and that's why I'm posting some of my favorite songs of the 70s. I also have a 4-parter on the 80s coming up! Thank you very much for looking and listening, dear friend Shelly, and I hope you have a marvelous day!

  3. Oh Shady! Another great list! Starting out the day with your music is pretty much one of the best ways to start the day! Oh - Foreigner! I almost massaged them when they were in town, and yes I'm being completely serious.

  4. Kristina - That's right - you're a professional massage therapist. You have me very curious about the "almost" part of the story. Massaging Foreigner would have been a "brush with greatness." I'm so glad you came by, Kristina, and so glad you enjoyed some of these clips. Have a wonderful day and please give Wyatt a biscuit for me!

  5. oh my I am digging Ann Peebles. She reminds me a bit of Nikka Costa. I am definitely gonna have to check more of her work out. Thanks for yet another superb music find!

  6. Amber Blue Bird - You got it, my friend! Now that you mention it Ann is similar to Nikka. Check out Ms. Peebles' other recordings on YouTube like her signature song "I Can't Stand the Rain" and "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down." Thanks so much for coming around for a look and a listen, dear Amber, and I'll be seeing you at your place soon!

  7. Hi my dear friend. Hoping you are well over there in Florida. I'm afraid that I hadn't heard of many of the artists featured today, apart from Foreigner (who I loved), The Doobie Brothers and Sister Sledge. It's interesting though to see your take on the 70's.

  8. Love this late 60s/70s music, Shady! Great choices! Really like Respect and Never in My Life. You're right, Mountain "put the heavy in hard rock". Would have liked seeing them in the original Woodstock album. You had a fascinating intro to Hocus Pocus, who could ever imagine yodeling in this song but it seemed nothing was left out! I had almost forgotten about Peebles', Can't Stand the Rain ... something haunting about that it! What great memories revived of The Doobie Brothers. Every song posted a winner, including Hocus Pocus and Dirty White Boy. Oh, BTW ... not familiar with Felix Pappalardi but interesting to learn he was a producer for both the Vagrants and my favorite, Cream. Hurry Shady, anxious for part II!

    (Loud Hand Clapping Sounds!) (Not canned!) ☺

  9. Foreigner and Focus! You're really winning me over with this 70s post! All the fashion trends are 70s inspired so I'm glad you're bringing back the 70s music!

    Emma x

  10. The only song I had heard before was "Respect" and I had heard this version. I'd heard of Ann Peeples, but never heard her and liked her immensely. I vaguely remember Foreigner. I didn't listen to rock in the 70s. I was raising my two little, baby girls. I got back to music in the 80s though, so I should know more of those songs. Looking forward to it.

  11. Thisisme - Do you mean to tell me that you never heard of John Revolta? (LOL) Well, at least you knew roughly half of these artists which is actually a better percentage than in some of my posts of obscure 60s artists. Thank you so much for joining the fun today, dear friend, and I shall see you at Carol's party tomorrow!

    Cindy - Wow, I am very impressed that you know Ann Peebles but then Hi Records was a Memphis label and that might help explain it. You have a knack for liking the songs that I secretly like best and that's a great connection that you and I have. If Cream is a favorite band of yours I have some coming up in a post very soon. Thank you very much for your marvelous comments, dear Cindy. They always make me feel great.

    Emma - I should have known you'd be familiar with Focus. I wish I could have posted the 7-minute version of "Hocus Pocus" but YouTube is clamping down and it's actually getting rather difficult these days to produce a music blog. I am elated to see young people like you and your friends embracing the fashions and the music of the past. I deeply appreciate your visit, my Irish friend. Take care and have a wonderful weekend!

    Belle - It's so cool that you heard the Vagrants' version of "Respect." It was essentially an East Coast regional hit. You brought up an important point. Some people missed the music of certain decades because they were busy raising families or what have you. I consider myself very lucky to have had a career that kept me tuned in to music my whole life. Between marriages I was a bachelor for 13 years and that allowed me the freedom to experience first hand the 70s disco scene and the 80s club dance scene. Having that job at the MTV style music station was also a huge plus. Thank you very much for sampling my songs again today, dear friend Belle!

  12. Hi Tom,
    Thank you for some exciting music to welcome me back to Blogland! I've needed some oldie but goodies to get me going again...!

    Your kind words for me and my Sweetheart were very appreciated and helped perk us both up through some rough waters!

    Play on my on!

  13. I've never really been into 70s era music, especially disco, but I do enjoy Foreigner and the Doobie Brothers.

  14. Sush - Welcome back to the Shady Dell! I've missed your smiling face and playful personality not only here but on your blog and the blogs of our mutual friends. I'm happy to know that your husband is on the mend and your mind is at ease once again. Thank you very much for making time for me, dear Sush, and have a great weekend!

    Ashton - I'm having a terrible disco backlash at the moment. Every couple of years I start to get into it again but liking soon turns to loathing. The Doobies and Foreigner are ideal for cleansing the palate. If you happen to like 80s music more than 70s please stay close because I have a 4-part series of 80s favorites coming soon. Thank you very much for coming over for a visit, dear Ashton, and have a terrific weekend!

  15. Shady - thank you so much for popping over to Carol's party and for voting for me - and your lovely comments, as always! I do appreciate our friendship dear Tom, and I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  16. Thisisme - Thank you, sweet friend! The feeling's mutual. I read your comments over at Carol's and was happy to offer you my coat when you caught a chill out there in the garden. You know that I'd give you the shirt off my back! Thank you for blessing me with another visit, dear Thisisme, and have a safe and happy weekend!

  17. I finished high school and was at university in the 70's and married during the late 70's, so that's the music everyone listened to. As I've said before, I was not into Pop or Rock, Heavy Metal or Disco, but I obviously heard these genres at parties and blaring from everyone's radios in the women's residence in which I was residing at the time.

    For me, the best is reading the wonderful way in which you speak about these different groups. Your passion for music comes through loud and clear and you articulate so well, that at times I find myself quite captivated (spellbound, even) by your unique brand of phraseology. You are a gifted writer, Shady and quite the gentleman!

    I am, therefore, hoping it was not MY peacock that you stabbed to death so ruthlessly at Carol's party? I haven't been able to find him. I know you felt it was your gallant duty, but I must say it rather astounded I've said, you really do seem to be the perfect gentleman! Thisisme was relying heavily on your chivalry, but now it seems you allowed her to dance on the tables? Oh Shady! I can only think you had one two many whiskeys! A hangover from those partying days of yours, perhaps? I do know she has forgiven you, after you offered such high praise of her GAMS from HAMS (I think those were the words you used?)

    Anyway, I'm off now to hunt for my missing peacock! I trust you had an enjoyable weekend and thank you for having made time to visit my part of the world.

  18. Hi, Desiree! It's a tremendous compliment to have you refer to things I've written on other blogs. I love our circle of friends and it's great to see that you have a keen sense of humor just as Thisisme and Carol do. I'm glad my writing style amuses you. I am delighted to have you as a new friend and to have the opportunity to learn about South Africa and see the lovely sights and interesting places in your part of the world. Thank you very much for your visit and kind comments, dear Desiree, and have a marvelous week ahead!


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