The music history books are vast and full of interesting bits of knowledge. “Big” Jay Sorensen gives you a recap of the biggest and most interesting music news from the week; something from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
This week Big Jay remembers some of the biggest soundtracks and musicals from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s: Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, the groundbreaking soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever and the GRAMMY nominated Against All Odds.
It was week one (of an eventual 13-week run) in 1969 for the original cast soundtrack to Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. The play revolves around young people in New York’s Greenwich Village who were dropping out of society and dodging the draft, having roots planted as early as 1964, when actors James Rado and Gerome Ragni were hearing stories about kids being kicked out of school for letting their hair grow long.
The show’s producer Eric Blau put the play’s writers in touch with a Canadian songwriter, Galt MacDermot, who began penning several melodies. The show opened Off-Broadway at the then new Public Theater in Manhattan’s East Village on October 17, 1967, moving to the Cheetah discotheque in December. The show went though many changes after that run before moving to Broadway at the Biltmore Theater located at 261 West 47th Street. Other theaters had refused to have the musical in their buildings due to the nudity and drug use added to the show by the time it reopened on April 29, 1968. The original Broadway production ran for four years and 1,750 performances, closing on July 1, 1972. Many future celebrities performed in the musical during that time, including actress Diane Keaton and singers Melba Moore, Ronnie Dyson, Robin McNamara, Beverly Bremers, Barry McGuire, Vicki Sue Robinson and Meat Loaf.
While the Off-Broadway soundtrack was released in 1967, the new Broadway version was released in 1968. There were several remakes from the production that became hits, including the medley “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” by the Fifth Dimension, “Easy To Be Hard” by Three Dog Night, another medley by the Happenings called “Where Do I Go/Be In/Hare Krishna,” “Good Morning Starshine” by Oliver (real name William Oliver Swofford) and the title track “Hair” by the family group The Cowsills. The show was nominated for two Tony Awards in 1968 and the soundtrack won a GRAMMY for Best Score from an Original Show Album for the year 1969, selling over three million copies.
Do you know what Bee Gees song was on the double-album soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever, but was cut from the movie? And do you know the hit song that was in the film but not on the record? I’ll tell you in a moment.
24 weeks at number one — that’s a long stretch of time for a collection of songs by various artists to reach the peak of the album charts in America. This week in 1978, the soundtrack was in its 15th of an eventual 24 at the top. The song “Night Fever” was in the seventh of eight consecutive weeks on top of the Pop singles chart.
The Bee Gees didn’t know they were going to be making the music they had recorded for a movie. They had cut some songs for a new album after their live album, Here at Last… Bee Gees… Live, was mixed and ready for sale in 1977. Those new songs included: “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Night Fever,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “More Than A Woman” and their own version of “If I Can’t Have You.” That last song was given to Hawaiian-native Yvonne Elliman to record. Also, the song “Emotion” was written and was given to Samantha Sang; it was to be included in the film but was cut, as was “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away” (later given to their little brother Andy) and a song called “Warm Ride” — all recorded by the Bee Gees. Both women had hits with the Gibbs songs.
The soundtrack won a GRAMMY for Album of the Year, and has since sold well over 15 million copies, and is second in sales to the The Bodyguard soundtrack from Whitney Houston in the US. Worldwide, the soundtrack has sold well over 20 million copies. The Gibb Brothers’ album (with other artists) is in the National Recording Registry in the US Library of Congress. Those other artists and songwriters hit pay-dirt by having their work included as well; songs by Walter Murphy, Tavares, the Trammps, KC & The Sunshine Band, MFSB, Kool & the Gang and instrumental incidental music credited to David Shire all shared in the windfall.
The song cut from the film but put on the soundtrack album was “Jive Talkin’” by the Bee Gees; their first foray into the land of R&B, or what would be called disco music. That song was originally on their album called Main Course in 1975. Also, “You Should Be Dancing” from the LP Children Of The World was included for good measure. The song left off the soundtrack but included in the film was “Disco Duck” by DJ Rick Dees.
This week’s number one song in America in 1984 was yet another written for a movie. After reviewing the roster of Atlantic Records artists (the label winning the rights to the soundtrack album), director Taylor Hackford wanted nobody but Phil Collins to write and perform the title track for the film Against All Odds, starring Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges, James Woods, Alex Karas, and screen legend Richard Whitmark. The movie was based on the 1947 film Out Of The Past, one of the greatest film noirs ever, starring Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas and femme fatale Jane Greer, who made a cameo appearance in the latter.
The recording gave Collins a GRAMMY Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and an additional nomination for Song of the Year. The tune “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” recieved a nomination for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. It was also Collins’s first number one solo hit in American; the first of seven. As a member of Genesis, Collins had numerous hit songs, but only one reached the peak of the Pop singles chart; “Invisible Touch” in 1986.
The piano and string sections of the song were recorded and supervised by arranger/producer Arif Mardin, with Collins recording his drum track and vocals in another location. The soundtrack featured original music by jazz/pop-fusion guitarist Larry Carlton, with contributions from former Genesis member Peter Gabriel, then current member Mike Rutherford, Stevie Nicks, the group Big Country and Kid Creole & The Coconuts.
The album received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special. The soundtrack reached number 12 on the Pop album chart with Collins’s song the only single released.
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