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Retro Redux: Afternoon Delight – A Dual-Purpose Guilty Pleasure

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We all know about "guilty pleasure" songs — tunes that catch your attention (and sometimes make you smile) the first time you hear them. They're tunes that might not be melodies for the ages, but they have a quality that's impossible to ignore. But here's something funny — in rare cases, both the song and its subject matter can be a guilty pleasure.

In the bicentennial year of 1976, such a song appeared and became a huge hit for a previously unknown singing group. Bill Danoff was the guiding force behind the Starland Vocal Band, which also included his wife, Taffy Nivert, and another couple, Jon Carroll and Margot Chapman. The song, which reached number one on the pop charts, was "Afternoon Delight."

The members of the group had already kicked around for a while, and Bill and Taffy had recorded and toured as Fat City or just as Bill and Taffy. They also caught the attention of country star John Denver and co-wrote his hit song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads," eventually signing with his record label. Joining with Jon and Margot, they began appearing as Starland Vocal Band and were on their way.

After the huge record sales and Grammy wins that followed the release of "Afternoon Delight," the group gained a degree of success and even had their own TV show on CBS. (Which also featured David Letterman, relatively unknown at that time.) They had some further successes, but none to match that first mega-hit.

Danoff maintains a nice website about the group and its history, and their delightful song remains behind, a true dual-purpose guilty pleasure.

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  • http://www.thesonginmyheadtoday.blogspot.com Holly Hughes

    Ah, “Afternoon Delight” — this record made the Carpenters and even the Captain and Tennille look like quality acts. It’s instructive every once in awhile, when we start raking over the cheesy acts of today, to remember that even the classic rock era included lapses of taste like this.

    I couldn’t truthfully call it a “guilty pleasure”, though. I cringed when it came on the radio in 1976 — and it came on the radio constantly. I still cringe.