Songwriter Bill Danoff has had one hell of a career: he directly influenced the success of country rock and wrote two huge smash hits that were an integral part of the 1970's soundscape. As part of the late '60s Washington, DC folk scene, Danoff and his then-wife Taffy Nivert formed an obscure band called Fat City, which released two odd and eclectic albums. They were also early supporters of Emmylou Harris, years before her fateful encounter with country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons. In 1971 Bill & Taffy co-wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads," which became a huge hit for folk-rock icon John Denver and became frequent collaborators with the rising superstar. After releasing a couple of unsuccessful albums as "Bill & Taffy," they took stock of their own limited star potential, hired a couple of glamorous singers and relaunched themselves as The Starland Vocal Band, immediately scoring a chart-topping hit with "Afternoon Delight," which was such a big success if earned them a short-lived prime-time variety show on CBS-TV. They never came close to matching their initial success, and the band broke up after a few albums, but recording that one song was enough to cement them in the holy firmament of 'Seventies cheese. Here's a quick look at Danoff's work...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Starland Vocal Band "Afternoon Delight" (Collectables, 1995)

Discography - Albums

Fat City "Reincarnation" (ABC, 1969) (LP)

Fat City "Welcome To Fat City" (Paramount, 1971) (LP)

Bill & Taffy "Pass It On" (RCA, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Blume, Bill Danoff & Taffy Danoff)

In all honesty, this is a pretty terrible album -- a super-duper self-indulgent, starry-eyed, spaced-out philosophizing/navel-gazing folk-pop-psychedelic smorgabord, with amiable warbling and poetic intoning. Folks who dig early '70s self-indulgence may find this to be pretty groovy, but it's more of an over-inflated LA studiofest than a groundbreaking country-rock outing, certainly there are no pop gems on a par with "Take Me Home, Country Roads," although to be fair, it does have its moments. Guitarist Larry Carlton is one of several notable studio musicians on here, adding some hot licks, particularly on the funky "She Won't Let Me Fly Away," one of the album's highlights. Other musicans include folkie Carolyn Hester on background vocals, jazz singer Al Jarreau doing something called "vocal flutes," sessionman Hal Blaine on drums, while for more country-oriented material, Byron Berline plays banjo and fiddle on one song, "Some Sweet Day."

Bill & Taffy "Aces" (RCA, 1974) (LP)

Starland Vocal Band "Starland Vocal Band" (Windsong, 1976)

Starland Vocal Band "Rear View Mirror" (Windsong, 1977) (LP)

Starland Vocal Band "Late Nite Radio" (Windsong, 1978) (LP)

Starland Vocal Band "4 X 4" (Windsong, 1980) (LP)

Starland Vocal Band "Christmas At Home" (Windsong, 1980) (LP)

Bill Danoff "Souvenir" (Watch Your Head, 1990)

Bill Danoff "I Guess He'd Rather Be In Colorado" (2002)

Bill Danoff "Blasted In The Basement" (2007)


Hick Music Index

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