Soul man

After a couple of weeks stranded on Earth, attending to the small matter of making a living, it is a relief to again board the Planet Vinyl shuttle and land … well, it’s a place called Topanga, and we are in the company of a funky 1970s TV cop.

S&HDavid Soul was one half of Starsky and Hutch, the immensely popular cop show. I never got to watch it – my parents were a bit eccentric, and we didn’t have a TV in the 1970s – but I remember Starsky and Hutch pencil cases had serious street cred at primary school. Back then, I was too embarrassed to ask which one was which – and now I don’t care. At any rate, David Soul is the guy with blond hair, and he was also a musician.

David was a Chicago boy, born in 1943. His family name was Solberg, and truncated for the stage he entered the performing arts. He once appeared on a television variety show, wearing a mask. The reason, he explained to the audience: “My name is David Soul, and I want to be known for my music”.

Fair to say he failed in this ambition – he will forever be associated in popular memory with squealing tyres and shootouts – but he did enjoy real success in music. I remember one of his hits, “Silver Lady”, which was a UK number 1 in 1977. That was a sentimental ballad, as is the A-side to this release, but Soul could range more widely.

soul topangaThis track is called “Topanga”, which is, I discovered, a real place. It is a small town which is quite close to Los Angeles, but inside the Santa Monica Mountains nature reserve. This combination (handy to Hollywood, spared the smog) made it a popular place for artists. At different times Topanga has been home to, or at least a rural bolt hole for, Stephen Stills, Mick Fleetwood, Marvin Gaye, the Morrisons Jim and Van, Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Woody Guthrie, and a Warner’s back-catalogue of others.

The song is lyrically modest – just praising Topanga as a pleasant place to live, really – but it is a nice piece of country-rock, strongly arranged and performed.

  • Artist: David Soul
  • Single title: Going In With My Eyes Open
  • Track: B-side “Topanga”
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm
  • Label: Private Stock
  • Catalogue: PVT-11416
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1976

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