July 17, 2018
Starland Vocal Band
There was, perhaps, no other song from the 1970’s which could sum up the true shlockiness of that era of music than the record which was number one on the Billboard 100 for two weeks in mid-July 1976. That song: Afternoon Delight.
By the middle of the decade, the Beatles were in the rear-view mirror and the hard rock of the late sixties and early seventies had given way to bubblegum and pop. And could there be any better symbols than two sugary treats to describe this song by a group called The Starland Vocal Band?
For those unfamiliar with the tune, here are a part of the lyrics:
Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight
Gonna grab some Afternoon Delight
My motto’s always been “When it’s right, it’s right.”
Why wait until the middle of a cold, dark night?
When everything’s a little clearer in the light of day?
And we know the night is always gonna be here anyway?
Thinkin ’bout you’s working up my appetite
Lookin’ forward to a little Afternoon Delight
Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite
And the thought of rubbin’ you is getting so exciting
Skyrockets in flight!
Actually, I’ll stop there. Truly, how many clichés can be stuffed into one song?
In the world of music, Afternoon Delight is what’s known as a ‘One Hit Wonder.’ Although the musicians who made up the group had some success before and after their big song, it was Afternoon Delight which catapulted them to a brief moment of fame.
From the Infallible Wikipedia:
“The group began as Fat City, a husband/wife duo of Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert.
Danoff and Nivert co-wrote the song ‘I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado’ and then, with John Denver, ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads‘ which became a hit single in 1971. The duo recorded two albums as Fat City, and two more as Bill & Taffy, all released from 1969-1974. In the mid 1970s, Starland Vocal Band was formed and subsequently signed to Denver’s label Windsong Records.
Starland Vocal Band was also composed of Jon Carroll (keyboards, guitar, vocals) and Margot Chapman (vocals). Carroll and Chapman married after meeting as members of the group, but later divorced. Their son Ben Carroll is also a musician.
The group’s debut album was the self-titled Starland Vocal Band and included ‘Afternoon Delight’. The song was a US #1 hit and the album also charted. They were nominated for four Grammy Awards and won two: Best Arrangement for Voices and Best New Artist. The song also reached #18 in the UK. The follow-up album, Rear View Mirror, did not fare as well, with 13 weeks on the Billboard 200 and a peak of #104.
The band hosted a variety show, The Starland Vocal Band Show, that ran on CBS for six weeks in the summer of 1977. David Letterman was a writer and regular on the show, which also featured Mark Russell, Jeff Altman, and Proctor and Bergman. April Kelly was a writer for the series.
The band broke up in 1981, unable to match their previous success. Danoff and Nivert divorced shortly afterward. Each of the band members went on to a solo career.
In 1998 the Starland Vocal Band reunited for a few concerts, often featuring the children of the four original members as vocalists. In 2007, they appeared on a 1970s special on the New Jersey Network (NJN), singing ‘Afternoon Delight’.
In 2010 Billboard named ‘Afternoon Delight’ the 20th sexiest song of all time.”
At the time, the lyrics were a little bit shocking, especially to the parents of younger Baby Boomers who had pretty much lost control of their children by then. We, thinking we were hip and edgy, embraced the song with a wink and knowing nod because, well, our generation invented it, after all. What could our parents possibly know?
Recently a high school friend of mine posted something about singing the song Muskrat Love at a Karoake bar. This prompted a brief Facebook discussion as to which song from the 1970’s was the worst. As you all know (and if you don’t, go back and read my post about the Cap’n and Tennile. ) I’ve already called out a couple of schlocky songs from the 1970’s.
This song is on my list of the worst of worst. Be sure to nominate yours but only after listening to Afternoon Delight for a few moments of sugary guilt. Insulin may be needed when you are done.