In the wake of uprisings in the Arab world of late, I thought it might be interesting to feature one of the quintessential protest tunes from the late ‘60s as our Wednesday one hit wonder. Today’s selection is from a band named for its keyboardist Andy “Thunderclap” Newman.
The group was created by Pete Townshend and Who producer Kit Lambert to provide a vehicle for The Who’s chauffeur John “Speedy” Keen. Keen sang lead and played drums and guitar. The trio was rounded out by Jimmy McCullough who later was with Paul McCartney and Wings. McCullough was the bands primary guitarist.
Townshend played bass on the recordings under the pseudonym of Bijou Drains and does an excellent job on “Something in the Air” as the guitar and bass lines are in my opinion what make this song. Townshend also arranged the strings. For live dates, Jim Pitman-Avery was brought into play bass and Jimmy McCullough’s older brother handled the drumming so that Keen could concentrate on vocals.
Keen wrote “Something in the Air” for the film “The Magic Christian,” but it also appeared in “Easy Rider,” “The Strawberry Statement,” “Kingpin,” “Almost Famous,” “The Dish,” and “The Girl Next Door.” While the tune was a number one hit in the UK, it only peaked at #25 in the US in 1969. With its extensive use in movies, TV episodes, and commercials, “Something in the Air” has made up for its lack of performance on the Billboard charts. The single appears on the band’s LP “Hollywood Dream.”