1/11/71: Chicago – Chicago III
In this digital age it hadn’t occurred to me that this was Chicago’s third consecutive double album in two years. Their first three albums! While it contained none of the mega hits they became known for, III reached number two on the Billboard 200. These early Chicago albums – let’s call them the Terry Kath Years – evoke very good childhood memories for me. It wasn’t until college when I was acquainted with some band students who were big fans that I learned just how complex some of these arrangements are. Not your typical rock band.
1/13/71: Poco – Deliverin’
This was Poco’s first live album and third release overall. It’s considered a highlight of their catalog, and was the final Poco album to include Jim Messina, who would soon join forces with Kenny Loggins.
1/14/71: The Temptations – Single: Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
Another Motown gem written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Just My Imagination reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and the Billboard R&B Singles chart. It was also the final Temptations single to feature Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams.
1/16/71: ZZ Top – ZZ Top’s First Album
Texans ZZ Top released their debut album – their bar room stage show with a bit of overdubbing – on the 16th. It was onward and upward from there.
1/20/71 – Questlove turned 50 on the 20th.
1/30/71: Ike & Tina – Single: Proud Mary
CCR’s original version is what I grew up with, but once I heard Ike & Tina’s take the original sounded quite pedestrian. Tina made it her own.
January 1971: B.B. King – Live in Cook County Jail
B.B. King released his legendary Chicago prison performance 50 years ago this month. The set list mostly consisted of warhorses from his career up to then, plus a relatively new song, The Thrill is Gone, which became one of his most popular songs of all. Perhaps most significantly, his performance at the jail put a spotlight on the horrible conditions there, leading to reform. King would go on to perform at over fifty prisons.
January 1971: Mountain – Nantucket Sleighride
Mountain is one of those bands that got lost in the shuffle in my music education growing up. Bands like Cream, Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Deep Purple ruled the heavy rock kingdom as far as I knew. I had no idea how renowned lead guitarist Leslie West was (West passed just shy of Christmas last month). I assumed Mountain was about Mississippi Queen and little else. I was wrong. They released their second album 50 years ago this month, and while some critics felt it sounded a bit too much like their debut, that could be taken as a compliment as well.