Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

Battle of the “Spaceship Races”

How interesting that Carole King, the musical part of the Goffin-King songwriting partnership, had been writing hits since the very beginning of the 1960s and yet had not released her first solo album until 1970.  The ad campaign that accompanied King’s debut album – an impressive and endless roll call of early rock standards penned by the legendary tunesmith – provides more than enough ammunition to justify the LP’s title, Writer:

Record World

September 5, 1970

LP cover

Carole King

The album’s kick-off track is, for Carole, a bit of a rocker – “Spaceship Races” – and a determined one at that:

Spaceship Races

Carole King (1971)

LP Musician & Production Credits

Carole King – Piano, Lead Vocals & Backing Vocals
Abigale Haness – Backing Vocals
Delores Hall – Backing Vocals
Joel O’Brien – Drums, Percussion & Vibraphone
Charles Larkey – Electric Bass
Danny Kortchmar – Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar & Congas
James Taylor – Acoustic Guitar
Ralph Schuckett – Organ
John Fischbach – Moog
Mixed by – Gerry Goffin
Arranger – Carole King
Producer – John Fischbach
Recorded at Crystal Sound – Hollywood


Who knew from Carole’s fairly straight-ahead reading that a joyous power pop of a colt could come thundering out of the same gates albeit when jockeyed by Tom Northcott?

Spaceship Races

Tom Northcott (1971)

LP Musician & Production Credits

Tom Northcott – Guitar & Vocals
Eddie Patterson – Guitar
George Ursan – Drums
Kat Hendrikse – Drums
Paul Grant – Drums
Doug Edwards – Bass
Pete McKinnon – Bass
Bob Buckley – Keyboards
Robbie King – Keyboards
Arranged By – Bob Buckley
Produced By – Tom Northcott
Recorded at Studio 3 – Vancouver

Northcott’s more elaborate pop production was likewise the album-opening track on his 1971 album, Upside Downside, on Uni (imprint of MCA) – although a B-side of the single, “Suzanne” (the oft-covered Leonard Cohen classic).  What gives?

Tom Northcott

Northcott (popular in his native Vancouver) recorded 20 sides for Warner Brothers in the mid-to-late 60s and then jumped to MCA’s Uni label for exactly one album – and then nothing more for a long time.


May 1, 1971

“Spaceship Races” reached as high as #61 on RPM’s Top 100 chart


LINK to Power Pop

LINK to Musical Fights

LINK to Cover Version Hall of Fame

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