Songs from 1970

The Dave Edmunds classic, ‘I Hear You Knockin” was No.1 in the UK on this day in 1970, ending a great run of fine tunes to claim the nation’s top spot. As you may recall, I gasped in amazement in discussing Summer songs back in the, er, summer and duly listed the chart-topping singles which followed Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the Summertime’. To mimic Sinatra, Frank; Shatner, William; and Simpson, Homer (OK, not quite Homer, he was singing about beer), it was a very good year.

This was Australia’s: ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Musically and creatively, 1970 was indeed a very good year. Syd Barrett released not only his first, but also his second, solo album (The Madcap Laughs, followed by Barrett). Black Sabbath and Atomic Rooster did likewise, managing to fill two LPs. Those were the days, eh? In an unintentional but quite perfect segue (I was, of course, thinking of the Mary Hopkins number), Paul McCartney released his more typically- (eponymously-) titled debut; John Lennon had John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band; and Ringo Starr, Sentimental Journey (with its pleasing sleeve, overlooked previously, to my great shame). The best of them all, though: George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass – which was actually his third solo effort.

What fine albums the year offered. Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Led Zeppelin III; The Who, Live at Leeds; Deep Purple, In Rock; James Brown, Sex Machine; Cat Stevens, Tea for the Tillerman; Neil Young, After the Gold Rush; David Bowie, The Man Who Sold The World… The list goes on.

From Pink Floyd came Atom Heart Mother.

It was the year of the Isle of Wight Festival, with Who, Hendrix, Havens and nobody else I can recall whose name starts with a ‘H’ sound (you actually remember Howl?). Also performing at the legendary event were The Doors, Free, Jethro Tull, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Donovan. Some line-up, I’ll say.

Sadly, there would be no future brilliance from Janis Joplin, as she died from a possible heroin overdose in Los Angeles in October at the tender age of 27. (The 27 Club, as some of us were discussing recently, filling the chatroom with gloom, but I like to think it makes a nice change from food and the weather.) There would be no more Beatles beyond Let It Be, which for many was accepted as an even greater tragedy. Simon & Garfunkel released their final, multiple Grammy award-winning album together too: the superb Bridge Over Troubled Water. All very sad.

Here are ten of my favourites from 1970 (many of them album tracks, rather than the more obvious single releases), starting with Badfinger, Pride of Swansea, whose tortured leader, Peter Ham, would later share 27 Club membership:

– Badfinger, ‘Come and Get It’
– Syd Barrett, ‘No Good Trying’
– Brook Benton, ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’
– Black Sabbath, ‘N.I.B.’
– James Gang, ‘Ashes, the Rain and I’
– B.B. King, ‘The Thrill Is Gone’
– The Kinks, ‘Apeman’
– Marmalade, ‘Rainbow’
– Quicksilver Messenger Service, ‘Long Haired Lady’
– Rare Earth, ‘Get Ready’

I look forward to reading yours; there are so many to choose from, so many forgotten gems to be reminded of. The chatroom doors will be thrown open with wild abandon tomorrow – that’s Tuesday – from 3pm (UK), should you care to join me in further discussion of the many sounds of 1970, the weather or food.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour's official blog, The Blog ('Features' previously being its rather naff title), affectionately - or lazily - shortened to 'FEd'.

60 thoughts on “Songs from 1970”

  1. Hmm, I was 13 years old. FM was a dream to me then as it did not exist at my house. For me that’s the year of the amazin’ one hit wonders and…

    Sly and the Family Stone – Thank You (Sly is so underrated and I don’t know why)
    CCR – Up Around The Bend Long As I Can See The Light (I’m a fool for B-sides)
    John Lennon/Yoko Ono – Instant Karma
    Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
    The Guess Who – American Woman/No Sugar Tonight (why is there no love for The Guess Who?)

    Now I’ll look at the list of one hit wonders and sigh. There were some brilliant ones. Brilliant.

    1. Love The Guess Who. 🙂

      Was Canned Wheat released in 1969 or 1970? I’m thinking there were two albums from them also in 1970 (American Woman being the other).

    2. FEd,

      I had to check, but the two 1970 albums were American Woman and Share the Land, which is the album ‘Hang On To Your Life’ and ‘Hand Me Down World’ are on.

      Canned Wheat was released in 1969.

  2. I like a lot too The Thrill Is Gone (and I had the pleasure to hear it live not long ago, in a concert presented by the King itself in Argentina), and Atom Heart Mother. That song is my favourite of the album (some people prefer Summer ’68).

    Besides those two, I have to mention “Layla”, of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, and “Let it Be”, from The Beatles (that I also hear it in a live concert of Paul McCartney a couple weeks ago).

    Many of the best songs of all time come from that decade.

    Best Regards from Argentina.

    1. Best wishes to you, Hernan.

      Lucky you, seeing both B.B. and Macca. Did you enjoy Paul McCartney? I saw him in Cardiff in the summer. He was absolutely fantastic. ‘Live and Let Die’ stands out for me in particular.

  3. Good choice Fed. I loved CCR. My 2nd band I played with were a tribute to them We, if I may say, were called The Poor Boys. Sound familiar to a song?

    I would love to see footage of a particular song, one of my faves called, Ramble Tamble. Very rare if any.

    Atom Heart to me is a great album, David didn’t think so. Maybe, because of the live presentation during that tour? Only David can really answer that one.

    Thanks!

  4. 1970 WAS a very good year. I have almost all of the albums you mention and love the artists, although I don’t know Brook Benton and, heck, I live in Georgia. Maybe he was singing about a rainy night in [formerly Soviet] Georgia? 😛

    Hi, FEd. And hi to everybody. I’ve been trapped under a heavy bookcase for the last couple of years. Didn’t you hear me yelling?

    Becky

  5. – ‘Child In Time’, Deep Purple
    – ‘Immigrant Song’, Led Zeppelin
    – ‘Working Class Hero’, John Lennon
    – ‘Layla’, Derek And The Dominos
    – ‘Fat Old Sun’, Pink Floyd
    – ‘Crumbling Land’, Pink Floyd
    – ‘All Right Now’, Free
    – ‘Road House Blues’, The Doors
    – ‘L’Aigle Noir’, Barbara
    ‘Avec Le Temps’, Léo Ferré – Such magnificent sadness…

    1. Ian Gillan’s voice is wonderful in ‘Sweet Child in Time’ especially on the ‘Deep Purple – Live in Japan’ version.

  6. What a phenomenal year. So much to choose from!

    – Syd Barrett: Dominoes
    – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young “Our House”
    – Creedence Clearwater Revival “Ramble Tamble”
    – Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song”
    – Black Sabbath “Paranoid”
    – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles “Tears of a Clown”

    …and from outside the “Anglosphere”:

    – Fabrizio de André: “Il pescatore”
    – Barbara: “L’aigle noir”
    – Lucio Battisti: “Emozioni”

    The highlight, the heartstopping moments of that year were, without a doubt, listening to “Atom Heart Mother” for the first time. Unforgettable. It came out in winter. I was a boarder in a nun’s school in Rome we had to wait for “Saturday off for good behaviour”, it was so cold and the plastic covering the LP was wet with rain. I shared the purchase with a close friend to have enough pocket money and we ran back to school to hide in a closet to listen for hours and hours. AHM changed the way I related to music. During the summer term I got caught listening to it but the nun said it was OK because she thought it was classical music! :))

    Thank you David, Rick, Nick and Roger.

    Bella xo

  7. The year of the guitar, when, thanks to the evolution of electronics and amplification, the instrument established itself as lead and expressive as we learnt to know it.

    My favourites for a desert island:

    Fat Old Sun – Pink Floyd
    Layla – Derek & The Dominoes
    Almost Cut My Hair – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
    Southern Man – Neil Young
    To Cry You A Song – Jethro Tull
    Time And A Word – Yes
    N.I.B. – Black Sabbath

  8. Hard to believe 1970 was FORTY years ago. Unbelievable!!

    The entirety of Black Sabbath’s first album is among my favorites, but particularly the song Black Sabbath. For me, that is their alltime best effort as a band. I dislike much of what came after.

    Yes’ sophomore effort “Time And A Word” is also very good, from a band that had not yet found its voice. Much of any band’s prize gems are from periods where they are finding their voice, as is the case with Pink Floyd in the years around 1970, after Syd but before “Meddle.” David says that in those years the band had no direction. My take on this is that it took time for PF to find themselves as a band. “Time And A Word” contains material that Yes would have rejected later on.

    The Beatles’ “Let It Be” was recorded in 1969 but released in 1970. “Across the Universe” can be read as a song about writing. Words do sometimes come seemingly from out of nowhere, as though my writing already exists somewhere else and is coming to Earth via my pen. That doesn’t change my world.

    The Neil Young album “After The Gold Rush” brought together his hard-rock side and his folk-rock side. Where artists like Bruce Springsteen reach out to new audiences via a different style of music, Young has successfully played many styles of music for the same audience. Whether it is country, folk, rock or pop, Young always brings his unique sensibilities to the fore, so that his sound is always clearly recognizable as Neil Young.

  9. Only these songs for the moment. 🙂

    Pink Floyd – Summer ’68
    Syd Barrett – Wined and Dined
    Bob Dylan – The Man in Me
    Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan
    The Doors – Roadhouse Blues
    Gentle Giant – Isn’t It Quiet and Cold?
    Donovan – Roots of Oak

    1. Other three.

      King Crimson – In The Wake of Poseidon
      Genesis – Dusk
      John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – Love

    2. Alessandra, you say: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – Love.

      This is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. It is gorgeous. It causes major tears too.

      Well chosen.

  10. The late great Rory Gallagher played at the festival with his band “Taste”… great band who sadly split up shortly after.

  11. 1970 was a good year for music and I would have to say some of my favorites were:

    Cricklewood Green – Ten Years After
    Deja Vu – CSN&Y
    Live at Leeds – The Who
    First Step – The Faces
    The Last Puff – Spooky Tooth
    The J-Giels Band – The J-Giels Band
    A Beard of Stars – T-Rex
    Watt – Ten Years After
    Atom Heart Mother – Pink Floyd

    Take Care, Thomas

  12. … there were some good bands around then. Here are some of my favourite songs:

    Iron Man – Black Sabbath
    Child In Time – Deep Purple
    Mr. Big – Free
    Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
    Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Neil Young
    Fat Old Sun – Pink Floyd
    Dominoes – Syd Barrett

    Per definition the list must remain incomplete. 😉

    Best regards

    Taki

    1. Oh me too. 🙂

      And also, the same day, at KQED TV Studios, ‘Cymbaline’. What a delight.

      It would be wonderful if a DVD of this live performance was released. Mr Gilmour, if you ever were reading… :v

    2. To Michèle:

      Unfortunately, the recording quality is bad. I never saw a better version of that, and I don’t think Mr. Gilmour (or somebody else) has a better version of that video.

      To frank par:

      😛

  13. As a spotty, naive 15 y.o. in 1970, I wouldn’t become aware of the existence of PF for another 3 years. I have to confess to being a Tamla Motown fan back in those days.

    This was the year I purchased my 1st ever album: Bridge Over Troubled Water.

    With the benefit of hindsight, I missed out on some terrific albums released back then. I was slowly awakening to the likes of Led Zepp, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, to name the obvious…

    Eponymous albums abounded in 1970, although not quite enough to complete an A2Z:

    Argent / Atomic Rooster
    Barrett / Black Sabbath / Barclay James Harvest (Produced by the late Norman Smith)
    Chicago / Curtis (Mayfield)
    Diana Ross
    Eric Clapton / Egg / Elton John / Emerson Lake & Palmer
    Funkadelic
    Gentle Giant
    Hawkwind / Humble Pie
    If
    J Geils Band
    Kraftwerk
    Led Zeppelin (III) /Loudon Wainwright III
    McCartney / Mungo Jerry
    N ?
    Osmonds (desperate, I know)
    Patto
    Quatermass
    Ry Cooder
    Supertramp
    T.Rex / Trapeze
    UFO (1)
    V ?
    Wishbone Ash
    X ?
    Y ?
    Z ?

    1. Oh I would like to play, too.

      ‘N’: Neil Diamond (‘Tap Root Manuscript’)
      ‘V’: Van Morrison (‘Moondance’)
      ‘X’: xoxo, Ken 😛
      ‘Y’: Yes (‘Time And A Word’)
      ‘Z’: Mr Zimmerman Robert Allen (‘New Morning’) – Hmm… 😉

      Bien?

  14. Assorted Singles from this year also included:

    All Right Now – Free
    Ball of Confusion – The Temptations
    Cecilia – Simon & Garfunkel
    Daughter of Darkness – Tom Jones
    Everything Is Beautiful – Ray Stevens
    Fire and Rain – James Taylor
    Green Manalishi – Fleetwood Mac
    House Of The Rising Sun – Frijid Pink
    I’ll Be There / I Want You Back – Jackson Five
    Julie, Do Ya Love Me – Bobby Sherman
    Knock Knock, Who’s There? – Mary Hopkin
    Lola – The Kinks
    Mama Told Me Not To Come – Three Dog Night
    Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye – Steam
    Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Neil Young
    Patches – Clarence Carter
    Question – The Moody Blues
    Reach Out and Touch(Somebody’s Hand) – Diana Ross
    Spirit In The Sky – Norman Greenbaum
    The Tears of a Clown – Smokie Robinson & The Miracles
    Up Around The Bend – Creedence Clearwater Revival
    Voodoo Chile – Jimi
    When I’m Dead And Gone – McGuinness Flint
    X ?
    You Can Get It If You Really Want – Desmond Dekker
    Z ?

    I REALLY should get out more… :v

  15. Well for fear of repetition, I will not list my favourites from 1970 apart from the fact that ‘Atom Heart Mother’ is my second favourite PF album of all time.

    Now I noticed that what has never been posted on here is what our top 5 PF albums of all time are, so I shall list mine now:

    1. Obscured by Clouds
    2. Atom Heart Mother
    3. More
    4. The Division Bell (simply because it reminds me of the pre-Dark Side stuff in a way)
    5. The Final Cut.

    And just to get this out of the way, I will list my top 10 PF songs:

    1. Echoes
    2. Careful with that Axe, Eugene
    3. Cymbaline
    4. Green is the Colour
    5. Dogs
    6. Poles Apart
    7. Sunny Side Up
    8. Julia Dream
    9. One of these Days
    10. When the Tigers Broke Free

    Sorry for going off on a major tangent here, FEd.

  16. Hi FEd and everyone else.

    I want to wish everyone who will be celebrating (like me) tomorrow a very happy Thanksgiving.

    Now for my list… I was a mere 1 year old back then so by the time I heard these for my first time it was well after 1970, however, here go my ten in no particular order:

    Grand Funk Railroad – I’m Your Captain
    The Jackson 5 – I’ll Be There
    The Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane
    Santana – Samba Pa Ti
    Paul McCartney – Maybe I’m Amazed
    Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
    Dave Edmunds – I Hear You Knocking
    The James Gang – Funk #49
    Three Dog Night – Mama Told Me Not To Come
    James Taylor – Fire And Rain

    There were quite a few I would have added as honorable mentions, but decided to stick to your request of only 10 songs.

    1. ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. Of course. Love that.

      I also forgot about The Jackson 5 Christmas Album. (How could I?)

      As the shops are now playing Christmas tunes once more, you’d expect to hear this and this, but no. The one I always hear, never fail, is that bloody jolly Mike Oldfield ditty that makes me want to trip someone up and tread on their bags.

      Give me The Jackson 5 any day.

  17. Apparently the soundtrack from ‘Paint Your Wagon’ was the #4 best selling album of 1970.

    When I was six this was my party-piece.

  18. I was mainly a singles buyer in 1970. Buys that come to mind:

    Mungo Jerry = In the Summertime
    Hotlegs = Neanderthal Man
    Matthews Southern Comfort = Woodstock
    Simon and Garfunkel = Bridge Over Troubled Water
    Bob and Marcia = Young Gifted and Black

    …and…

    England FC = Back Home

    But it was the year of the best World Cup final I have ever seen.

  19. Speaking of “Fat Old Sun”:

    Does anybody know if it is possible to find the “Best of the BBC Rock Hour” version with David’s phenomenal solo recorded in the BBC studios in 1971? (Other than bootleg…) BBC Shop doesn’t have it nor does Amazon.

    Many are hoping all these jewels floating around here and there on the web can somehow be assembled in a dignified way for posterity and present enjoyment.

    Bella

    1. I once heard a version of “Fat Old Sun” from 1971 with an amazing solo from Rick. I think it was from John Peel.

  20. How wonderful those years were, my friends!

    I was 15 years old with a head full of dreams and ears full of music.

    I’ve lived some years of my life in Italy, some in UK and some few around the world but there were no more exciting years like the 70s…

    Nowadays just “that” music and my daughter (17) listens to my same tracks (and something terrible as Lady Gaga or Rihanna).

    Believe me it’s not a glimpse of nostalgia.

    With a hug from Rome
    diana

  21. Do you think David could be persuaded to release a slightly modified version of “Another Brick in the Wall”? I think it would make THE perfect anthem for the “FUND OUR FUTURE” campaign run by the NUS and UCU to save Further and Higher Education from privatisation. I’ve been to 2 demos so far, where I’ve heard it sung and played and I think it’s being taken up more widely across the UK.

    Just a few tweaks to the hook line and PERFECT.

  22. Hi FEd

    Quick question. Are there any Pink Floyd video releases of any of the “Animals Tour” concerts? I was at the Montreal show and I’ll never forget the experience. I know there are a few bootleg partial vids out there but nothing of good quality. I remember distinctly that the Montreal show was set up with a full array of movie type cameras of that era.

    Thanks,
    J

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