SEALS & CROFTS
In 1973, Warner Brothers released DIAMOND GIRL, the album which established the height of their success. The title song reached #6 on the charts in July of 1973 and was followed by "We May Never Pass This Way Again." Also receiving airplay was "Ruby Jean and Billie Lee," a moving song they wrote to their wives. Another staple from their concerts was "Standing On a Mountaintop." The album also includes the mystical "Nine Houses," a very compelling and complicated piece that demonstrates their instrumental prowess. Jim also shows his versatility in the rocking saxophone solo, "Wisdom."
"Oh Ruby Jean, last night I dreamed I was running somewhere beyond the stars.
I called out to you and you answered softly.
You are the rich brown earth and I'm the flowers that grow."
Ruby Jean and Billie Lee
Warner Brothers repackaged the first two albums and released SEALS & CROFTS I AND II, making those fine but rare albums available to their new audience.
"First there was an ocean, an ordinary street.
Then suddenly a mountain began to show its peak.
Remember back unto the day when 20 thousand taught.
This is it get off your knees look what your hands have wrought.
Let them sleep, don't bother let 'em sleep.
Maids of heaven will surely weep.
Let them go, don't bother let 'em go.
Come tomorrow they will know."
The sixth album, released in 1974, was the controversial UNBORN CHILD. Written shortly after Roe v. Wade, Seals & Crofts expressed their pro-life position in the title song (and a liner note quotes their prophet: "In the rose garden of changeless splendor, a flower hath begun to bloom..."), which charted as a hit and created a huge dilemma for radio stations. Some stations banned it and others played it repeatedly. The follow up hit was "King of Nothing," an excellent song Jim wrote years earlier. It reached no. 6 on the charts. UNBORN CHILD demonstrated some advanced production for its time, and the duo had some strong songs, such as "Ledges," "Desert People," and the touching "Windflowers." "Follow Me" was initially planned as a movie theme. But the album did not sell nearly as well as DIAMOND GIRL. "Unborn Child" was later left off the Greatest Hits album.
"If I could rule I'd dance my cares away.
Find romance every day.
I wouldn't have to listen to this poor fool say
I'm the King... of Nothing."
King of Nothing
In 1975, they released I'LL PLAY FOR YOU. The song charted high and was followed by the minor hit, "Castles In the Sand." Jimmy wrote an outstanding song for his father, "Wayland the Rabbit." That song aside, I'LL PLAY FOR YOU marked a shift to formula after years of strong, original albums. Their tours continued to be well attended, but the title song was an annoying hit to many.
"Today as I walked 'long beside him, I said 'Dad why do you look so sad?'
He turned as he stood by the doorway, he said 'Things are not like they used to be.'
I smiled as if I could teach him. I said 'Dad, it's mercy in disguise.'
Once you told of a little white rabbit.
And you said that the owl would never have been so gentle,
And God is so kind."
Wayland the Rabbit
A collection of GREATEST HITS was released in 1975. Jimmy and Dash look bemused on their double platinum album. While the album is a good introduction to their best material, it is unfortunate that it and SUMMER BREEZE are the only albums available on cd (except for a rare and probably illegal Japanese pressing of DIAMOND GIRL). Tracks on this compilation are:
"When I Meet Them," from YEAR OF SUNDAY
"Diamond Girl," from DIAMOND GIRL
"Hummingbird," from SUMMER BREEZE
"Castles In the Sand," from I'LL PLAY FOR YOU
"East of Ginger Trees," from SUMMER BREEZE
"I'll Play For You," from I'LL PLAY FOR YOU
"Ruby Jean and Billie Lee," from DIAMOND GIRL
"King of Nothing," from UNBORN CHILD
"Summer Breeze," from SUMMER BREEZE
"We May Never Pass This Way (Again)," from DIAMOND GIRL
Seals & Crofts had a strong return to the charts with the song GET CLOSER, from the 1976 album. Carolyn Willis sang the bridge and it peaked at #6 in July of that year. The 26 week hit affirmed the duo's position in mainstream pop. "Million Dollar Horse" (which has an unusual, unexpected origin) and Parker McGee's "Goodbye Old Buddies" are brightly polished. "Passing Thing" shows some highly inventive shifts in style. "Sweet Green Fields" was sampled a few years ago for the Busta Rhymes rap hit, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See." Around this time, the duo contributed background vocals to the Dunn & Rubini album, Diggin' It; Jim is credited with producing the debut album of Deardurff & Joseph, and playing guitar and fiddle on England Dan & John Ford Coley's Nights Are Forever.In 1976, Seals and Crofts also financed a Guatemalan relief fund and donated the use of their 240 Convair turboprop for relief efforts.
"Looking through the eyes of truth I see faith and love and youth
and all else dries up like the dew, my fear is gone.
The grain of hope has grown. Now I'll be running, laughing playing
in the sweet green fields of belonging to someone."
Sweet Green Fields
Warner Brothers then released a live album. Seals & Crofts were joined by the singer Carolyn Willis for the summer tour and the result was SUDAN VILLAGE, which revived the early title song. The song "Baby I'll Give It To You" had some airplay from this album and briefly charted. This album captures a fine jam session in "Thunderfoot," co-written with noted jazz session man Hampton Hawes, and the hoe-down routine that S & C regularly performed at shows.
"Tell your people to rejoice,
Sudan Village we love you.
Soon the world will hear your voice Sudan Village, we love you.
Calling: We are brothers!"
In 1976, Seals & Crofts were also featured on the cover of Warner Brother's promotional compilation, Supergroups. The record had "Get Closer" and was one of six WB anthologies known to include S & C tunes. Since the late 60's, the "loss leader" records featured a mix of hits, obscure album cuts and occasionally had unreleased material by WB artists. All of the S & C songs on these albums were previously released. For a list, click here. In addition, Seals & Crofts became part of an odd tribute to Woody Guthrie in that year called "We Ain't Down Yet!" The album was produced by Cream Records, Inc., and then reproduced on cd in 1996 by Demon Records Ltd., in Middlesex, England. It prominently indicates Woody Guthrie music is "played & sung by Woody's friends : Arlo Guthrie, Seals & Crofts, Hoyt Axton, Pete Yarrow, Doug Dillard, John Hartford, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and others." Indeed, several of these artists cover Woody Guthrie classics such as "Deportee" and "So Long, It's Been Good To Know You." However, S & C is only heard to contribute a few spoken sentences from Bahá'í scripture on the last composition, "The Cricket Song." After a strange monologue written by someone called The Prophet Singer, there is a hodgepodge of sound bites that includes Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, then Jimmy reads: "Be calm, be strong, be grateful / And become a lamp full of light / Let the darkness of sorrows be annihilated / and that the sun of everlasting joy arise from the dawning place of heart and soul, shining brightly." Dash recites, "These are the superior men of whatever race, creed or color they may be."
Some unreleased songs from 1976 include "Look Out For That Moose," "Giddy Up Mother," "It's Alright To Cry," "Jaimie," "Radils Madams," "The Miss You Song" and "Holland."
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