How do 34-year-old songs by Alice Cooper, Wayne Newton, and Roberta Flack hold up today? Whitney Pastorek gives 'em another listen

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated August 01, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Alice Cooper: RB / Redferns / Retna

This week in ’72: Rating the top 10 singles

Billboard‘s top 10 singles from the week ending Aug. 5, 1972:

10. ”Layla,” Derek & the Dominos
Well. Let’s look past the fact that the opening riff of this song is second only to ”Stairway to Heaven” on the list of ”Guitar Licks Most Frequently Played by an Incompetent Person in a Music Store,” and go ahead and call it one of the best of all time. Infamously written about George Harrison’s wife, ”Layla” is probably the track that confirmed Eric Clapton as a bona fide rock & roll star, and the assist he got from Duane Allman makes the Southerner in me proud. The piano coda is now forever linked with a bunch of dudes getting shot to death in GoodFellas, but to me, it says: jukebox, dive bar, beer sweating on the table, and a pool table someone rigged so it’s free. A

9. ”Long Cool Woman,” the Hollies
Ever wondered how Bryan Adams came up with the beginning of ”Run to You”? Give this track another spin. It has the same dark, rhythmic arpeggios and the same build to the chorus, but sadly (or luckily, I suppose, depending on your perspective), it is not ”Run to You.” Even though they’re the ones responsible for the schlock of ”He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother,” these British Invaders actually do their very best Creedence impersonation here, and for my money, they pull it off. Side note: According to my friends at Wikipedia (anyone else read that New Yorker article on Wikipedia? It kind of scared me), this was also the first song Phish ever played in concert. I am resisting the urge to deduct points for that. B+

8. ”How Do You Do,” Mouth & MacNeal
Ever wondered what it would sound like if Dr. Teeth from The Muppet Show sang a duet with a drunk unicorn? Give this track another spin. Or a first spin, more likely, because I can’t imagine there’s anyone out there still holding on to their Mouth & MacNeal 45s. But I could be wrong. Anyway, this is a very stupid song, where nuh-na, nuh-na seems to be some kind of euphemism for sex, or sex talk, or sex feelings, or maybe the making of a sandwich. I have no idea. Get it away from me. D

7. ”School’s Out,” Alice Cooper
Do you like the rock & roll? Too bad. This is the last of it on this week’s Chart Flashback, and honestly, despite the super-duper memories we all have of this song, I’m not feeling it the way I used to. While some argue that the weird children’s chorus — ”No more pencils/ No more books/ No more teachers’ dirty looks”— was a forerunner of Pink Floyd’s pudding-cravers in ”Another Brick in the Wall,” I just don’t need kids mucking about in my metal. Furthermore, um, Columbine. But my uptight, no-fun attitude is most likely stemming from the fact that I have no innocence. Thanks, school! B-

6. ”Where Is the Love,” Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
Okay, time to reveal the secret behind this week’s countdown: It’s a tribute to my parents’ anniversary! The old cuties got married this week in 1972, and I wanted to see what sorts of pop music they were avoiding at the time. (My parents are symphony musicians, you see, and to them, this is all garbage. I overcame a lot to get where I am today, people. Pity me.) Anyway, if you hear ”Where Is the Love” and think ”Black Eyed Peas,” first of all, STOP THAT, and second, give this sublime, cascading duet a listen and ask yourself, ”Could Fergie ever pull off something this sophisticated?” Let me answer that for you: NO. STOP THAT. B

5. ”Too Late To Turn Back Now,” Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose

Huh? Wha? Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. It’s so hot out, and this song has so many strings, and such lovely, lovely harmonies… why, my eyelids started to flutter, and next thing I knew I was dreaming about bluebirds and rainbows and then I woke up in a pile of drool on my desk…

Dang it! Did that happen again? C

4. ”Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast,” Wayne Newton
With its piano score, soaring backup singers, and the bombastic chorus about absent parenting, this song is like the evil love child of ”Bridge Over Troubled Water” and ”Cat’s in the Cradle.” It’s Wayne Newton, folks. I feel naked listening to him without a cocktail. C

3. ”If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right,” Luther Ingram
And if I ever get a mental picture of my father seducing my mother with this song again, I don’t want to be alive. Ick. Let’s start with the porny wah-wah intro: That is not subtle. Next, let’s discuss Luther’s ever-so-urgent vocals, which seem about half a social taboo away from descending into feral unh! territory: Cold shower, man! But I guess the most important thing I’d like to talk about here is the still-topical issue of marital infidelity. Is the girl in the song wrong to give her love to a married man? Is Luther wrong for trying to hold on to the best thing he ever had? It is my understanding — mind you, I’m single — that the answer is ”Yes, it is wrong,” on both counts. Fierce horn part, though. B

2. ”Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” Looking Glass

Wha? Oh, there I go again, drooling. Okay, it’s time for an honest question: Is it just me, or does most music from the so-called ”Seventies” all sound alike after a while? I mean, I recognize this track has a sprightly beat, and some fun faux-Tower of Power horns, and the doo-doo-doos are catchy as all hell, but I just can’t bring myself to care; in the end, to my whippersnapper of an ear, we might as well just listen to ELO sing ”Livin’ Thing” on repeat and call it a day. B

1. ”Alone Again (Naturally),” Gilbert O’Sullivan
Since this countdown has been a tribute to my parents, I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for getting hitched and popping me out, and dedicate this song to the two of them in hopes that they will never be alone again, naturally. But because this is also kind of a really depressing song — complete with lethargic, double-tracked vocals and a very mopey trumpet in the background there at the end — I would like to get a glass of lemonade (spiked heavily with vodka), go out on my nonexistent back porch, and sit in my nonexistent hammock while pondering the neverending heartbreak and pain that is my life. Some of the rest of you might just associate this song with The Virgin Suicides. Either response is fine. B+