Velvet Goldmine: Four Unsettling Soft-Rock Obscurities
2) Timothy, "Your Love Rolled Over Me" (from WTNG: Solid Bronze compilation LP, 2012). Not every garage band wanted to be the new Beatles or Stones. Some were shooting for the next America or James Taylor, as is clear from this terrific Numero Group compilation of private pressings and radio sessions. However, the opening track, Timothy Blixseth's "Your Love Rolled Over Me," is no low-budget production. James Burton appears on this track, as does Toto's Jeff Porcaro and an army of L.A. studio musicians. A lot of people put a lot of work into making this sound good. Blixseth does his best Elton John vocals, but his lyrics read like a cult leader's message to his followers. Lines like "We don't need to take the world/We just need to take our lives" could easily be misinterpreted as the last words of a Jim Jones-styled demagogue, as his minions ladle out the poisoned Flavor-Aid.
1) Seals and Crofts, "Unborn Child" (from Unborn Child LP, 1974). Who doesn't remember the pleasant folk and jazz-tinged hits of this Baha'i-following duo? Summer breezes. Jasmine in bloom. Diamond girls who "sure do shine." Desperate pleas urging women not to have abortions. Wait, what?
Oh yes, that happened. About a year after the Supreme Court issued its decision in Roe v. Wade, Seals and Crofts recorded "Unborn Child," a staunchly anti-abortion song. Jim Seals wrote the music; Lana Bogan, their engineer's wife, wrote the lyrics. (Dash Crofts was apparently absent from this songwriting session, perhaps evaluating his employability post-musical career.) Even now, this song is more shocking than anything Alice Cooper or David Bowie released during the same period. Seals and Crofts sing the first verse to the unborn child, who will "never cry, nor will you hear a sweet lullabye ... You're still a-clingin' to the tree of life/but soon you'll be cut off before you get ripe." (You can tell how urgent this plea is; Bogan was too distracted to see that she'd misused the "neither/nor" grammatical rule!) In the second verse, Bogan turned the appeal to the mother herself, begging her to "please bear the pain" and "just let it be." Each verse is followed by a dramatic chorus: "Mama, stop! Turn around, go back, think it over." Seals and Crofts not only released this as a single, but made it the freakin' title track of their sixth album. "Unborn Child" reached Number 66, which is still pretty impressive in an age when abortion was even more contentious than it is now. They didn't have another hit until 1976's "Get Closer."