Thursday, October 9, 2014

Neil Sedaka, The #92 Artist of the Seventies*

This artist scored his first Top 10 hit with "Oh!  Carol".  He achieved a #1 song in 1962 with "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", and reached the Top 5 with "Next Door To An Angel".  Neil Sedaka also wrote many songs for other artists, including "Who's Sorry Now?" for Connie Francis.

But then, Beatlemania hit, and it drove dozens of artists out of business, because their music was no longer relevant.  When describing the Beatles' effect on his career in the mid-1960s, Sedaka puts it brusquely: "The Beatles—not good!"  From 1964-1966 (the height of Beatlemania), only three of Sedaka's singles made the Hot 100, with #76 the best he could do during that period.

Still, Sedaka continued to write, with his songs recorded by the 5th Dimension ("Workin' On A Groovy Thing"), the Monkees, the Cyrkle and Patti Drew.  In 1966, Sedaka was to represent the United States in classical piano at a Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, the Soviet Union.  But because he was a pop star, the clueless Soviets disqualified him from the competition.

Sedaka played several states in Australia, and began his comeback when the single "Star-Crossed Lovers" made it big there.  When it peaked at #5 in Australia, it was Neil's first charting single anywhere in four years.

In 1971, Sedaka released the album Emergence, then followed it up with Solitaire, recorded with the four future members of 10cc.  Sedaka enjoyed a successful English tour in 1972.  Besides the title song to "Solitaire", which later became a big hit for the Carpenters, Sedaka also wrote "Love Will Keep Us Together", one of The Top Songs of 1975* for the Captain & Tennille, as well as "Lonely Nights (Angel Face)" for the latter duo.

The following year, Sedaka again recorded with the members of 10cc, producing the album The Tra-La Days Are Over on MGM Records.  Sedaka then signed with Polydor to record the album Laughter in the Rain.  But still, he fell short of achieving major success. 
Sedaka then met Elton John, who signed Neil to his new Rocket Records label, and the two plotted Sedaka's comeback.  The album Sedaka's Back in 1974 was a compilation of the three albums he had recorded in the U.K.  The single "Laughter In The Rain" returned Sedaka to the Top 10 for the first time in 13 years, and reached #1.

The follow-up became a #1 Adult song, but with a peak at #22 overall is one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.  This is the great song "The Immigrant". 

There are two other tracks to feature from Sedaka's comeback album, the first of which is "Standing On The Inside".

The single "That's When The Music Takes Me" gave Sedaka a third Top 10 song (at #7) on the Adult chart in the decade.

Working to keep the momentum going, Sedaka released the album The Hungry Years in 1975.  The first single, a duet with Elton John, was a smash hit, landing at #1 for three weeks and selling over one million copies.

Neil's follow-up release was a slowed-down version of his 1962 #1 song "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do".  The ballad did well also, reaching #1 on the Adult chart and achieving a #8 ranking overall.  The song made Sedaka the only artist in history to achieve Top 10 songs with both an original song and a remake of the same song.

In 1976, Sedaka released the third and final album on Rocket Records, Steppin' Out.  The single "Love In The Shadows" raced to #4 on the Adult chart and reached #16 overall.

Sedaka scored a #7 song on the Adult chart with "You Gotta' Make Your Own Sunshine".

Sedaka then signed with Elektra Records, but with a plethora of other top artists (including the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, the Cars, Jackson Browne, and Queen), Sedaka didn't receive the promotion he was afforded at Rocket.  This, combined with the disco craze, led to another downturn in Sedaka's success.

In 1977, Sedaka released the album A Song, which contained the #4 Adult song "Amarillo".

Sedaka would go on to score one more Top 10 Adult Contemporary song in 1980 (outside the scope of this feature), a duet with daughter Dara--"Should've Never Let You Go".

Sedaka's comeback enabled him to register nine hits in the Seventies, with three reaching the Top 10 and two #1 songs.  On the Adult chart, which was becoming more popular as the decade went on, Neil posted nine hits, with seven of those reaching the Top 10 and three #1's.

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