by Jeff Fiedler
Common Thread is a regular feature on thegreatalbums.com in which we offer up mini-reviews of a small (and often very diverse) assortment of albums that all have one specific shared trait; that "common thread" can vary from column to column.
I Think, Therefore I Am, R. Dean Taylor (1970, Rare Earth)
This Canadian singer-songwriter had a Top Five hit right off the bat upon signing to the short-lived Motown pop/rock-oriented subsidiary Rare Earth (also home to the rock band of the same name), thanks to his infectious ballad “Indiana Wants Me,” and never hit the Top 40 again. But what you may not realize about Taylor is that he already had a history with Motown prior to signing with Rare Earth and had co-written a surprising number of R&B hits for the label, including the Temptations’ “All I Need” and the Supremes’ Number One hit “Love Child” and “I’m Livin’ in Shame.”
Teegarden & Van Winkle, Teegarden & Van Winkle (1970, Westbound)
This Oklahoma duo reached #22 with this album’s single “God, Love and Rock & Roll” and split in 1973 after failing to come up with a successful follow-up to their lone hit. But David Teegarden would resurface at the end of the ‘70s as the drummer for Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band, helming the kit on such blockbuster albums as Stranger in Town, Against the Wind, and the live disc Nine Tonight.
All Together Now, Argent (1972, Epic)
This wildly underappreciated heavy rock band has just one Top 40 hit to its name, but it’s a legendary one: the ominous, organ-drenched Top Five smash “Hold Your Head Up,” the unedited six-minute version of which is every bit as much as of a knockout as the much more concise radio edit. Although the band never had another American hit, it’s not the only composition of theirs that you would recognize: Kiss would later cover “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” on their album Revenge (and for the soundtrack of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey), while Three Dog Night would reach the Top Ten with a cover of “Liar.” Neither was this band the only claim to fame for its four original members: band founder and keyboardist Rod Argent had scored a string of hits in the ‘60s (“She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” “Time of the Season”) as a member of The Zombies, drummer Bob Henrit would later score a Top 40 hit with the band Charlie (“It’s Inevitable”), and both Henrit and bassist Jim Rodford would go on to play with The Kinks in the ‘80s. Guitarist Russ Ballard had the most successful post-Argent career of anyone, writing such hits as America’s “You Can Do Magic,” Frida’s “I Know There’s Something Going On,” Agnetha Faltskog’s “Can’t Shake Loose,” Santana’s “Winning,” Hot Chocolate’s “So You Win Again,” and Ace Frehley’s “New York Groove.”
Climax featuring Sonny Geraci, Climax (1972, Rocky Road)
Technically, Climax is a one-hit-wonder, but there are quite a few equally big hits indirectly connected to them. Their biggest hit, of course, is the syrupy ballad “Precious and Few,” which made it all the way to #3 and remains one of the quintessential soft-rock songs of the early ‘70s. But what few people realize about the band is that they actually recorded the original version of “Rock and Roll Heaven,” which the Righteous Brothers would score a massive comeback hit with in 1974 and likewise reached #3. And the band’s lead singer, Sonny Geraci, had already reached the Top 40 on four separate occasions as the frontman for the ‘60s rock band the Outsiders, best remembered for their Top Five smash “Time Won’t Let Me” and their deliriously fun Top Twenty-charting cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Respectable.”
Flash, Flash (1972, Capitol)
This short-lived prog-rock band isn’t nearly as well-known as most other bands of its ilk, but unlike, say, the much better-known King Crimson, Flash can actually claim to have had a hit single: “Small Beginnings” made it to #29. Though the outfit split after its third album, 1973’s Out of Our Hands, Peter Banks – the original guitarist for Yes prior to Steve Howe’s tenure with the band – would go on to better things: he’d even reach the Top Five in 1983 as the keyboardist for the band After the Fire, who broke big with their cover of Austrian rapper Falco’s “Der Kommissar.” [Banks isn’t the band’s only connection to Yes – the legendary band’s original keyboardist, Tony Kaye, also contributed prominently to this self-titled debut and was mistakenly even credited as a full band member!]
Jo Jo Gunne, Jo Jo Gunne (1972, Asylum)
In a way, it’s fitting that this underrated band is a one-hit wonder: they’re an offshoot of another one-hit-wonder. Keyboardist/vocalist Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes had already played together in the ‘60s band Spirit, who had a one-off Top 40 hit with “I Got a Line on You.” This self-titled debut from their new band gave them a hit right away with the #27-peaking “Run Run Run,” but the band’s commercial fortunes gradually dwindled with each successive disc, and they called it a day in 1975. But Ferguson would briefly become a solo star in the late ‘70s, scoring a Top Ten hit in “Thunder Island” and a second Top 40 hit with “Shakedown Cruise,” while Andes would spend the remainder of the ‘70s as the bassist for the wildly-successful soft-rock band Firefall (“You Are the Woman,” “Strange Way,” “Just Remember I Love You”) and later become the bassist for Heart, just in time to enjoy the band’s surprising mid-‘80s comeback success with the Number One singles “These Dreams” and “Alone” and the hit albums Heart, Bad Animals, and Brigade.