3 Eternal Classic Rock One-Hit Wonders

The genre of classic rock is full of big name bands. Indeed, from Led Zeppelin to Pink Floyd to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and many more, classic rock has no shortage of marquee monikers. But that doesn’t mean every group that put out a classic rock hit is one for the ages.

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Along the way, there have been plenty of groups that have recorded indelible classic rock offerings that have not since ended up in the Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Here below, we wanted to explore three such tracks. A trio of tunes from bands that have contributed to music history, even if history doesn’t totally remember them. These are three eternal classic rock one-hit wonders.

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“Black Betty” by Ram Jam from Ram Jam (1977)

A buzzing blues rock number, this song from Ram Jam is based on the work song that’s often credited to Lead Belly, which itself originates back to 1939. As for the electrified version by Ram Jam, the New York City-born rock group cut their rendition for their self-titled 1977 album. Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” earned popularity more recently thanks to the 2001 Johnny Depp film Blow and subsequent other pop-culture inclusions. And while Ram Jam didn’t boast any other big hits, this song remains an essential part of the classic rock zeitgeist. On it, lead vocalist Bill Bartlett sings,

Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Black Betty had a child, bam-ba-lam
The damn thing gone wild, bam-ba-lam
Said it weren’t none of mine, bam-ba-lam
The damn thing gone blind, bam-ba-lam
I said oh, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam
Whoa, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam

“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell from Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (1981)

Originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, this song was made a hit more recently by British group Soft Cell, which brought its synth sounds and gang vocals to the track. The song spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 as part of the era known as the Second British Invasion. On the offering, lead vocalist Marc Almond talks about love gone bad, singing,

Sometimes I feel I’ve got to
Run away, I’ve got to
Get away from the pain you drive into the heart of me
The love we share
Seems to go nowhere
And I’ve lost my light
For I toss and turn, I can’t sleep at night

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I’ll run from you
This tainted love you’ve given
I give you all a boy could give you
Take my tears and that’s not nearly all
Tainted love (oh)
Tainted love

“I Melt with You” by Modern English from After the Snow (1982)

This acoustic-driven song is about the feeling that time can stop when you’re in love. Since it’s release and early success, the song has lived on thanks to its new wave aesthetic and its catchy, hooky chorus. Some songs from certain decades just live on and this is a supreme example, an early 1980s hit. On the offering, lead vocalist Robbie Grey shows off his vocal range, hitting high notes and traversing in some lower registers, singing,

Moving forwards, using all my breath
Making love to you was never second best
I saw the world thrashing all around your face
Never really knowing it was always mesh and lace

I’ll stop the world and melt with you
You’ve seen the difference and it’s getting better all the time
There’s nothing you and I won’t do
I’ll stop the world and melt with you

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Photo from screenshot of “Black Betty” music video

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