1970s 7" Pop Single

Hammond. Not the organ.

What do the following songs all have in common?

  • Leo Sayer: “When I Need You”
  • Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias: “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”
  • Diana Ross: “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”
  • The Pipkins: “Gimme Dat Ting”
  • The Hollies: “The Air That I Breathe”

Along with dozens of other successful songs in all sorts of styles, from the late 1960s through to 2010 or so, they were all either written or co-written by a guy called Albert Hammond. No relation to the Hammond of Hammond Organ fame.

Like a lot of prolific songwriters, Hammond never quite broke through as a major recording artist. If you have heard the name, it would probably be for “It Never Rains in Southern California”, a top ten hit in 1972 which was really his only major personal success. I knew that song, but not the name. One thing I did know: lack of mainstream success and recognition does not mean lack of talent.0072 Hammond 1972 B

Hammond is an accomplished musician and singer, something which comes through even on this sad and battered single. There is second-hand vinyl which has been played and played and so has a lot of wear. Then there is second-hand vinyl which seems to have spent a few months on the floor on the passenger side of my car. This is one of those: it plays, but high fidelity it ain’t.

The A side, “Down by the River” was the sort of not-quite-hit which Hammond had a lot of. It is a nice track – an early environmental anthem, deploring the poisoning of the waterways. It is, as such songs tend to be, a little didactic, but it has a dollop of humour which helps, and it zings along with a rollicking banjo.

Unfortunately, on my copy it sounds like it has just been fished out of a polluted river, and anyway I want to share the B side.

In a way, it is just yet-another-love-song, but I feel there is something special about it. Hammond made his money out of “Gimme Dat Ting” and the like, but on this, the B side of a single which peaked at number 91 on the US charts, even through the scratch, crackle’n’pop, this is the work of a real singer expressing himself.

  • Artist: Albert Hammond
  • Single Title: Down by the River
  • Track: Side B “The Last One to Know”
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm
  • Label: CBS BA 221915
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1972

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