Category Archives: 18 With A Bullet

18 With A Bullet: Horse With No Name by America

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, April 2022

Selected 70s hits from across the pond

If like me you thought ‘Horse With No Name’ must have been written under a star-kissed New Mexico sky by a young troubadour then you’d only be half right.

It was actually written in a London bedsit and recorded at the home of Arthur Brown (yes, him of “Fire, I’ll take you to burn“) by Dewey Bunnell who was one third of a trio who imaginatively called themselves America because they were the sons of American servicemen stationed in Britain.

By 1971, the band still in their teens, had already released their debut album without much success and were packed off to Arthur Browns home-studio in Dorset by Warner Brothers with the brief to come up with a hit single.

Inspired by Salvador Dali paintings of surrealist deserts and fuelled with memories of growing up as airforce brats on military bases in Arizona and New Mexico. Early versions of the track were titled ‘Desert Song’ with Bunnell realising that the desert symbolised the tranquility he was searching for whilst the horse represented the means to reach this tranquility.

Released in December 1971, the song dovetailed perfectly with the singer-songwriter vibe of the time, which no doubt helped it to race up the UK charts, early January 72.

On the back of the songs European success, the bands debut album was re-issued to include the single and by March of that year, both the single and the album had reached the respective number one spots in the US charts, catapulting them to instant fame.


So far so good, but this rookie band and their mellow ‘soft-rock’ anthem would hit a few speed bumps along the way to the top of the charts.

On initial hearing, a large majority of people thought they were actually listening to Neil Young and when they realised it was a bunch of rookies mimicking their idol it resulted in a backlash from Neil’s loyal army of fans.
As fate would have it when the song eventually did get to number one, the record it knocked off the top perch was, you’ve guessed it, Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’.
(get it up ye Neil!)

Neil and his followers were far from happy that he’d been trumped by these young imposters, but to be fair, Bunnell never hid his admiration for Young and admitted that he’d always been a big influence on the band.

Apart from the accusation of plagiarism, the band also had to fend off allegations that the song contained sinister undertones, namely that the ‘Horse’ in the song, was a (not so subtle) reference to heroin.
Accused of promoting narcotics, radio stations in Kansas banned the song due to this misplaced reasoning.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, at a time when Bob Dylan’s verbal dexterity was the benchmark for troubadours, the band came under fire from critics and fellow artists alike… (step forward Randy Newman), for the simplistic nature of the songs lyrics…..

There were plants and birds and rocks and things

In his defence Bunnell explained that he was a teenager when he wrote the song in a mates bedsit and it was completed in under two hours as the lyrics and melody just came to him, as if he’d awakened from a dream.

Before starting this piece I wasn’t aware of any cover versions of note until I discovered that Michael Jackson had sampled the main acoustic riff from the song for a track released posthumously, called ‘A Place With No Name’.

It’s actually worth a listen, the trademark MJ grunts and yelps combined with the original two-chord backing track shouldn’t really work, and maybe they don’t, but it’s an interesting coming together.

Michael Jackson
Janet Jackson

This of course wasn’t the first time a Jackson family member had sampled a track by the band.
Janet Jackson also sampled America and their song ‘Ventura Highway‘ several years earlier on her platinum hit – ‘Someone To Call My Lover

No wonder Dewey Bunnell is worth a few quid!

Like a lot of classic 70s songs the popularity of ‘Horse With No Name’ has endured and finds new audiences with every generation.

As a recent example, who can forget the viral video of the young Amsterdam couple interpreting the song in their own way during the recent lockdown….

18 With A Bullet – She’s Gone by Hall & Oates

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, April 2022

Selected 70s hits from across the pond

She’s Gone by Daryl Hall & John Oates

I can remember the first time I heard this song….

It was on an overnight coach journey from Glasgow to Blackpool for the September weekend in 1974. The lights on the coach were dimmed and the sax solo and wah-wah guitar seeped into my consciousness as I was entering that transitional stage from wakefulness to sleep

I went to buy the single as soon as I could but on the advice of the record store I ended up buying the album, ‘Abandoned Luncheonette,’ as it featured an unedited version of the song.

That turned out to be one of my smarter decision as it’s still a favourite to this day.

Despite high hopes the single and album sank without trace and Hall & Oates disappeared from the scene.
You can’t keep a good duo down however, and they came storming back in 76 with a stunning blue-eyed soul classic called ‘Sara Smile’ which would become a mega hit for them in the US.

On the back of this new found success, ‘She’s Gone’ was dusted down and re-released, and started to get the airplay and credit it deserved, becoming their next big hit.

The song, co-written by the duo was inspired by a New Years Eve date that never happened when John Oates got stood up and returned to his New York apartment alone and despondent, but with an idea for a song.


The resultant track and album was produced by the legendary Atlantic producer, Arif Mardin who’s credits include Aretha Franklyn, The Average White Band, George Benson, Chaka Khan, Carly Simon, Donny Hathaway and The Bee Gees.

If the song deserves high praise then it’s fair to say that the home-made promotional clip they made to support it in 1973 is not in the same league.

To put it in context the video was the duo’s two-finger response to their home town Philadelphia’s version of Top Of The Pops, and a request by them to lip-synch to the song during a live studio performance.

Aggrieved at the thought, Hall & Oates made their excuses, cut the home made video in an afternoon and sent the clip to the show.


On viewing the video the show refused to play it and were so offended by its content that they banned Philly natives, Hall & Oates from ever appearing on the show again, whilst also trying their damnedest to get the song banned from every radio station in Philly.

The video features Hall & Oates, their road manager and Sara Allen, Hall’s girlfriend at the time and the very same Sara from ‘Sara Smile’.

There are a few decent covers of ‘She’s Gone’, including a Lou Rawls version, but the best known is by the American soul/disco band, Tavares who’s version provided them with their big breakthrough hit in 1974.

In fact, when Hall & Oates re-released their original version of ‘She’s Gone’ two years later in 1976, most people complimented them on a great cover of a Tavares song!

Hall and Oates never looked back and would go on to become the most successful duo of all time with six number ones, eclipsing Simon and Garfunkel and the Carpenters.

18 With A Bullet – Midnight At The Oasis by Maria Muldaur

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, April 2022

Some songs are ubiquitous… you’re not even sure where or when you first heard them. They seem to drop out of the ether and once heard you just can’t get them out of your head.

So it is with Maria Muldaur’s sublime ‘Midnight at the Oasis’

I didn’t know much about Muldaur in 1974 apart from the fact that she was a latin beauty, with a distinctive voice and had recorded one of the best singles of the year.

Born in New York as Maria D’Amato, Muldaur was part of the Greenwich Village scene alongside Dylan before her self-titled, debut album was released in 1973 featuring ‘Midnight at the Oasis’

Set in a desert trapping, the song centres on a romantic but playful encounter, where the female protagonist takes the lead….

I’ll be your belly dancer, prancer. And you can be my sheik

Sensual and evocative, Muldaur’s song, alongside those by Barry White, Donna Summer and Marvin Gaye, is (anecdotally) credited as being one of those songs that a lot of 70’s babies were ‘conceived to’.

Beautifully crafted, the musicianship on the track is superb as would be expected from some of the best session musicians of the day, with drummer Jim Gordon, who is credited by Muldaur with coming up with the songs groove, probably being the most heralded.

Gordon’s impressive canon of work includes, Layla with Derek & The Dominoes, My Sweet Lord with George Harrison and Steely Dan’s – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.

Tragically, the drummer is currently in prison, sentenced in 1984 for killing his mother with a hammer and a butchers knife.
Unbeknown at the time, Gordon suffered with acute schizophrenia which wasn’t diagnosed until after his arrest.

Midnight At The Oasis was a top 10 hit in the US for Muldaur in 1974. It also did well in Canada and Australia but only scraped into the top 30 in the UK and would be her only UK hit.
It was one of those classic radio songs that was popular across all formats and crossed over all musical tastes.

Muldaur who went on to release nearly 40 albums also collaborated with The Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and Elvin Bishop whilst touring extensively with the Grateful Dead, as both a support act and a backing vocalist.
Her last album, released in 2021, was a jazz/ragtime album.

There have been several covers of Midnight At The Oasis over the years, the most prominent being the 1994 remake by acid-jazz aficionados Brand New Heavies, which became a bigger hit in the UK than the original.

Reflecting on her breakthrough hit, Muldaur reminisced that Midnight At The Oasis was a last minute addition to her debut album as the producer required ‘one more track’ to complete the session.
So in an ironic twist of fate a track that was basically an afterthought and an ‘album filler’ went on to become Muldaur’s signature tune.

Muldaur now 78, still performs the song live at every show and takes great pride in the fact that no two performances of the song are ever the same.

It’s So Nice To Be Insane – No One Asks You To Explain

By Alan Fairley: Edinburgh, March 2022

Latest in the line of One Hit Wonders from the 1970s is the mystical, thought provoking Angie Baby by Australian songstress Helen Reddy which reached Number 5 in the UK charts back in early 1975.

Hold on, I hear you say.

Helen Reddy, a one hit wonder?

What about Delta Dawn? What about I Am Woman? 

Then there’s – Ain’t no Way to Treat a Lady, Leave me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), not to mention You and Me Against the World.

One hit wonder? you’re winding me up, pal.

Well, It’s true that Delta Dawn and I Am Woman were number one hits in the USA while the others mentioned reached the top ten both across the pond and, unsurprisingly, in Reddy’s native Oz but the British charts? – not a sniff, leaving Angie Baby as her sole intrusion into our country’s musical psyche.

And what a spectacular intrusion it was.

Angie Baby was written by Alan O’Day who, despite sounding like he was one of Robin Hood’s merry men, was a successful American musician/songwriter and it centred around the unfulfilled life of a teenage girl who was clearly suffering some form of mental illness, as evidenced by the use of the words ‘touched’ and ‘crazy’ within the lyrics.

Throughout  the song, O’Day touches on subjects like mental health, sexual deviation and female empowerment, all of which were relatively taboo subjects back then, often swept under the carpet  but which are nowadays very much mainstream societal issues.

Angie spends all her spare time shut away in her bedroom, listening to the radio and fantasising about mysterious lovers who come into her room every night and dance with her until her father tells her to switch the music off.

The story takes a sinister twist when a local boy, who had been spying on Angie through her window, takes advantage of the fact that her parents are away by making his way into her room.

Fuelled up with testosterone, its clear that the dirty bugger’s not planning to have a chat with her about the newsworthy events of the day such as the Watergate scandal and the imminent cessation of the Vietnam War.

Nope, Laddo just wants to get his leg over a vulnerable girl but Angie soon cuts him down to size, quite literally as it happens, as she uses the supernatural power of the volume control on the radio to slowly reduce him to virtually nothing before he gets swallowed up by the speaker as Reddy finishes this part of the song with the haunting words ‘never to be found’.

At this stage, the boy’s probably wishing he’d been guided by his head as opposed to any other body part, and whilst everyone else (Angie apart) thinks he’s dead, he’s actually trapped inside her radio and brought out whenever his services are required…. as described in one of the closing lines -‘a crazy girl with a secret lover who keeps her satisfied.’

Maybe it worked out ok for the lad after all.

Surfin’, Soda Pop and Sibelius

Alan Fairley: Edinburgh, March 2022

The Strange Tale of Beach Baby

I’m loving the articles on this site documenting the one hit wonders of the 1970s and would suggest that no such list would be complete without the inclusion of the upbeat, feel good recording of Beach Baby by The First Class which reached number 13 in the UK charts in the summer of 1974.

It was a bouncy little song reflecting various aspects of teenage life in California during that time period, encompassing west coast beach culture, school/college activities and, of course love.

The subject matter demanded a mandatory reference to surfing and it duly obliged with the memorable line ‘surfing was fun, we were out in the sun every day’ – a nice little nod to the Beach Boys whose harmonic vocals the short-lived band tried hard to mimic.

The clumsiness of teenage romance was glorified with ‘remember dancing at the high school hop, the dress I ruined with the soda pop’ and the eventual sadness at the inevitability of having to grow up was illustrated by the melancholy ‘long hot days, blue sea haze, juke box plays but now its fading away….’

With lines such as this, the song must have been written by some cool dude who had spent his adolescence living that particular dream in some exotic Californian location like San Jose, Carmel or Santa Monica, right?

No, actually.

The song was, in fact, penned by unheralded English musician John Carter and his memorably named wife Gillian Shakespeare within the house they shared in the extremely un-Californian south London suburb of East Sheen.

Carter engaged a session singer by the name of Tony Burrows to record the song and, after a lively appearance by a hastily put together band of pretty boys on Top of the Pops, the song hit the charts and became one of 1974’s memorable summer anthems.

The First Class disappeared from the radar never to be seen again but the song helped Burrows establish himself as very much the poster boy of 1970s one hit wonders, having also sung lead vocals on the iconic Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes under the name of Edison Lighthouse as well as the comical Gimme Dat Ding by the Pipkins and another Californian epic Let’s go to San Francisco by the Flowerpot Men.

The story, however, doesn’t end there. One of the early recordings of Beach Baby featured an instrumental coda at the end of the song  from a classical piece written by legendary Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. 

The administrators of the late Sibelius‘ estate filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement and it was eventually agreed that 50% of the song’s profits would be handed over.

Not too many one hit wonders can boast a claim to fame like that.

18 With A Bullet – ‘How Long’ by Ace

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, March 2022

Selected 70s hits from across the pond

How Long by Ace

When I checked my iTunes music library recently, I found to my astonishment that the most played track is a one-hit-wonder from a 70’s pub-rock or blue-eyed soul band, (take your pick) called Ace.
The track is ‘How Long’.

On reflection I shouldn’t have been taken aback.

Firstly – I love the song, it’s timeless
Secondly – It’s got a habit of finding its way onto a lot of my playlists
Thirdly – Unlike many other tracks, I only have one version downloaded, there are no re-mixes, re-edits or remasters, the original version still stands up.

Ace, a British band based in England’s steel town, Sheffield, were formed in 1972 and How Long was their debut single. It would be the bands one and only hit before they fizzled out in 1977.

Taken from the bands eponymous Five a Side album, ‘How Long’ went on to become a massive hit in the US, reaching number 1 on Cashbox in March 1975 whilst scraping into the top 20 in the UK.

Written by Paul Carrack the bands vocalist and keyboard player, most people assume the songs lament is aimed at a cheating spouse but the muse for this particular song was actually the bands bass player, who had been caught moonlighting with a rival band…. The Sutherland Brothers & Quiver – “the friends with their fancy persuasions” in the songs barbed lyrics.

With it’s pulsating bass intro, soulful vocals and tight, rhythmic groove the song was the epitome of ‘Blue-Eyed Soul’, a genre championed at the time by artists like Hall & Oates, the Bee-Gees, Robert Palmer and Boz Scaggs.

Unlike the rest of the band post Ace, Paul Carrack went on to enjoy a successful career both as a solo artist and as a sideman in groups as diverse as Roxy Music, Squeeze, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and most famously with Mike + The Mechanics where he was the lead vocalist on their uber hit – ‘The Living Years’.


A three and a half minute jukebox classic that got plenty of airplay in its day, ‘How Long’ has been covered amongst others by Rod Stewart and Bobby Womack, although perhaps the best cover and the closest to the Motown vibe that Ace were aiming for is a Northern Soul version by JJ Barnes in 1977.


The song is another great example of how the best ‘one hit wonders’ can prevail, maintaining kudos for artists that didn’t achieve all that much in their hey day. It even popped up on one of my sons playlists the other day which brought a big smile to my face.

Carrack is very much alive and kicking, and 48 years after its release, ‘How Long’ is still the pinnacle of his live shows.
He is currently touring Europe as a solo artist and below is a recent short interview with him, where he talks about Ace and their glorious one hit wonder….

18 With A Bullet: selected 70s chart hits from across the pond.

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, March 2022

And where better to start than the song that inspired the series title?

Eighteen With A Bullet by Pete Wingfield

A soulful homage to singers of the doo-wop era, ‘Eighteen With a Bullet’ lived up to its name when it entered the American Billboard HOT 100 charts at number 18 (with a bullet) in 1975.

A hit on both sides of the Atlantic, the protagonist endeavours to woo his love interest with a series of double entendres, using hip music industry lingo to seal the deal.

“Be my A-side, baby, be beside me”

“So let me check your playlist Mama


A lover of soul music, Hampshire born Wingfield was an in-demand session keyboard player who also played live with BB King, The Hollies and Van Morrison.

Spotting his potential, Island Records gave him the opportunity to cut an album in 1975, sadly, it would be the only solo album album Wingfield would release but it spawned this classic track.

After his dalliance as a solo artist Wingfield went on to become a renowned producer and developer of talent, manning the boards for Dexys Midnight Runners debut album, ‘Searching for the Young Soul Rebels’ as well as the ‘Sunshine on Leith’ album for The Proclaimers.

Wingfield worked on numerous projects throughout the 80’s and 90’s including the Paul McCartney ‘Run Devil Run’ album, playing alongside McCartney, Dave Gilmour and Ian Paice.

Wingfield, McCartney, Gilmour & Pace


I confess to having nostalgic memories and a soft spot for this song.

I passed my driving test and got my first car in the summer of 75 and ‘Eighteen With a Bullet’ was part of a treasured mix-tape alongside other 1975 goodies like… Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’, 10cc’s ‘I’m Not in Love’, Bee Gees ‘Jive Talking’ and ‘One of These Nights’ by The Eagles.

Hearing it now still takes me back to that summer and the freedom of being mobile for the first time.

Largely forgotten and rarely mentioned, ‘Eighteen With a Bullet’ made a comeback of sorts when it featured in the 1998 movie soundtrack for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and has more than earned its moniker as a bona fide ‘one hit wonder’