Five For Friday: Top 5 Instrumentals from the ’70’s

The number of instrumentals that reached the charts in the ’70’s dropped off steeply from the number in the ’60’s, going from 544 down to 184. And a lot of those were disco songs, as you’re about to see. Here are the Top 5 as determined by the Top 100 website.

#5 – Walter Murphy, "A Fifth Of Beethoven": Composer/keyboardist/songwriter/producer Murphy gained notoriety with this disco arrangement of First Movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. It reached #1 in the US and Canada and finished the year as the tenth most-popular song in 1976, and was featured in the movie Saturday Night Fever.

#4 – Meco, "Star Wars Theme": Domenico Monardo, who used the stage name Meco, did this "space disco" arrangement of John Williams’s "Theme from Star Wars." It’s from the 1977 album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, on which Meco does disco versions of other songs from the movie’s soundtrack. The song reached #1 on the Hot 100 and the album reached #13. Both went platinum.

#3 – MFSB featuring The Three Degrees, "TSOP": My topic next week will center around instrumentals that feature vocals, where the human voice is treated as another instrument. In this case, the human voices belong to the lovely ladies known as The Three Degrees, who had a hit with the record "When Will I See You Again." MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother) were the house band at Philadelphia International Records, who recorded this as a theme song for TV’s Soul Train. Don Cornelius, host and producer of Soul Train, refused to allow Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff (authors of the song) to make any reference to the show when they recorded this as a single, leading to the title "TSOP" ("The Sound of Philadelphia"). It reached #1 on the Hot 100 in 1974, the first TV theme to do so, as well as the first disco song to do so.

#2 – Herb Alpert, "Rise": The only non-disco song to make this list. It was written by Andy Armer and Randy "Badazz" Alpert and was the title track to Herb’s 1979 album. It reached #1 on the Hot 100, making Herb the first (and maybe only) artist to have a #1 with both an instrumental and a vocal (1968’s "This Guy’s In Love With You").

#1 – The Silver Convention, "Fly Robin Fly": This was the third single from the German disco group The Silver Convention’s 1975 debut album Save Me. It reached #1 in early 1976, making The Silver Convention the first German artist to have a #1 in the US. It won the 1976 Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance.

And that’s Five For Friday for June 4, 2021.

16 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Top 5 Instrumentals from the ’70’s

  1. Hi John – oh I’ll love listening to these … the Beethoven one is a favourite … thanks for reminding us – enjoy the weekend – Hilary

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  2. Oh goodness…Fly Robin Fly I remember that one…it was played alot. When I saw what you were presenting…I thought for sure Frankenstein would be there.

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  3. Don’t remember that Herb Alpert one at all. But the others are all familiar! Not a disco fan even though I loved to dance and didn’t mind dancing to it. No soul as Bob would say. 🙂

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  4. Woah…Disco Fever! Bring out the clogs, bell bottomed pants, shiny polyester shirts and ponchos! Yuck, there is a reason 70s is considered one of the worst for fashion. Anyway, I was never a fan of the Beethoven disco. nor that horrible Star Wars one either but I can dig the TSOP!. The last 3 I can boogie down to and fondly remember The Love Boat, Disco Fever and other funky town music.

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  5. The first one to come to my mind when I saw the topic was Chuck Mangione’s ‘Feel So Good’

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    1. That was down at #19, and it was also the first one I thought of. Herb an Chuck were a couple of the first “smooth jazz” artists, though it was a couple of years before that got popular, when George Benson and Kenny G got popular as well and New Age music debuted.

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