13 beloved one-hit wonders from the year 1970
You'll love lovin' these sweet songs from Edison Lighthouse, Shocking Blue, the Marmalade and more.
If there ever was a sweet spot for pop music, this might be it. The year 1970 was obviously a transition between two distinctly different eras, the baton pass from the hippie '60s to the disco '70s. The music wafting out of radios at the start of the decade was a breezy blend of what was and what was to come.
Psychedelic melded with soul. Bubblegum carried a bit of fuzz. Here was soft rock you could somehow still dance to. Rhythm and blues became groove and sunshine. After a tumultuous end to the 1960s, there was a bit of a hangover and a golden nostalgic glow to these soothing melodies. The hit songs of the year each offered something for everyone, and in a way became a genre unto themselves.
In other words, this is in many ways the ideal sound of Me Music. You can hear many of these gems on our free online radio stream. Click above to listen now.
1. Alive N' Kickin' - "Tighter, Tighter"
The Brooklyn band epitomized what we were discussing above, as it mixed game-show horns with acid-tinged guitars and candy harmonies.
Image: Roulette Records / Discogs
2. Blues Image - "Ride Captain Ride"
The Tampa-born rockers kept a steady groove in their sailing classic about "73 men" on a boat out of San Francisco. Blood, Sweat & Tears later covered this tune, which regained popularity thanks to the movie Anchorman.
Image: Atlantic Records / Discogs
3. Edison Lighthouse - "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)"
Tony Burrows was the era's secret prince of bubblegum pop. The Brit can take credit for two songs on this list, as he also recorded with White Plains (see below) — not to mention acts like the Pipkins, Brotherhood of Man, the First Class and the Flower Pot Men.
Image: Bell Records / Discogs
4. The Five Stairsteps - "O-o-h Child"
The Chicago soul act placed more than a dozen songs on the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100, but their many minor successes will forever be overshadowed by this brilliant, towering Top 10 hit. The sentimental favorite played an important part in The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, making it a tune for modern times, too.
Image: Buddah Records / Discogs
5. Frijid Pink - "The House of the Rising Sun"
The Detroit quartet fused psychedelia with blues to make a proto–heavy metal with its take on the traditional folk song first made famous by the Animals. That being said, this was scruffy sludge-pop was still cuddly enough to break into the Top 10 in the spring of '70.
Image: Parrot Records / Discogs
6. The Jaggerz - "The Rapper"
Need more cowbell? It's here. On paper, a song called "The Rapper" by "The Jaggerz" seems incredibly modern. But, no, bands were spelling their names in silly ways way back then, too. "The Rapper" in question is not a hip-hop MC, rather a ladies man spewing his lies.
Image: Kama Sutra / Discogs
7. The Marmalade - "Reflections of My Life"
"Take me back to my own home…" It's no wonder that a bittersweet ballad about nostalgia would become an eternal classic for Boomers looking back. The Scottish group scored a handful of big hits in the U.K., but this would be the Marmalade's only tune to, er, spread across America.
Image: Decca / Records
8. Mungo Jerry - "In the Summertime"
The quartet picked up the folksy jugband sound formerly popularized by the Lovin' Spoonful and ran with it. However, despite its Americana sound, this act was from Britain. Leon Redbone would carry on this vibe later in the decade.
Image: Pye Records / Discogs
9. The Poppy Family - "Which Way You Goin', Billy?"
Their honeyed, ABBA-like harmonies coated what was a remarkably sad song. "You are my whole, babe," sang Susan Jacks, the wife of bandmate Terry Jacks, who would later score a massive hit of his own with "Seasons in the Sun." Tabla player Satwant Singh and occassional sitar strummer Craig McCaw gave the act a unique sound — and "poppy" more than one meaning.
Image: Decca / Discogs
10. Shocking Blue - "Venus"
How many people mistook singer Mariska Veres for Cher? The Dutch band dominated most of Earth with "Venus," which would again become a hit for Bananarama in the 1980s.
Image: Penny Farthing / Discogs
11. R. Dean Taylor - "Indiana Wants Me"
Want more proof that 1970 was a high point in blurring lines between genres? Here is a Canadian folk-rocker scoring a smash hit about Indiana for Motown Records. Inspired by Bonnie and Clyde, Taylor added the sounds of police officers to the song's climax.
Image: Tamla Motown / Discogs
12. Vanity Fare - "Hitchin' a Ride"
American audiences gave this U.K. troupe a thumbs up in the spring months of 1970. With a flute riff straight out of Living Island, Vanity Fare were holdovers from the 1960s. When was the last time you hitchhiked, by the way?
Image: Page One / Discogs
13. White Plains - "My Baby Loves Lovin'"
Here is session ace Tony Burrows again, crooning about his baby who "loves lovin'" on a song fit for a Cassidy. The follow-up single? "Lovin' You Baby." We guess you're sensing a theme here.
Image: Deram / Discogs
14. SEE ALSO: 10 FUNKY, FOLKY ONE-HIT WONDERS OF 1971
The hits just kept on comin', thanks to acts like Daddy Dewdrop and Five Man Electrical Band. READ MORE
And Vanity Fare preceded "Hitchin' A Ride" with "Early In The Morning" (a gold record in 1970, peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100).