Archive for the ‘Survey Digging’ Category

Gazing Out My Window

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

I got to thinking this morning about June 1973, recalling that by the time the month’s second week rolled around, I’d likely settled into my summer routine on the campus of St. Cloud State:

In the mornings, I’d spend four hours wandering around campus with about three other fellows employed by the Learning Resources Center (the library, in the vernacular), lugging cases filled with cleaning supplies and projection lamps. We’d spend about a week in each classroom building, moving from room to room and doing maintenance on projectors, noting as well which pieces of equipment needed more care than we could provide.

In the afternoons, I’d head to the Education Building and be a janitor for four hours, vacuuming, sweeping, washing blackboards and whiteboards, emptying trash and doing all the other things that janitors do.

The two half-time jobs were increasing the balance of my savings account nicely, so that in September I could add my funds to the vastly larger sum my parents were contributing to my college year in Denmark. In June, that September departure still felt a little distant, though I increasingly found myself gazing out my bedroom window during the nighttime hours, wondering what I would find in Denmark and how it would all feel. As it turned out, very little of my nocturnal imaginings came close to the Danish reality.

As I sat at the window during those nighttime reveries, I’d have my clock radio playing low, probably tuned to WLS out of Chicago. As it happens, the collection at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive has a copy of the station’s Solid Rock Music survey released on June 11, 1973, forty-six years ago today. Here’s the top ten there:

“My Love” by Paul McCartney
“Pillow Talk” by Sylvia
“Daniel” by Elton John
“Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group
“I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” by Barry White
“Hocus Pocus” by Focus
“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” by George Harrison
“Playground In My Mind” by Clint Holmes
“One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” by the Spinners
“Right Place, Wrong Time” by Dr. John

The only one of those I don’t recall hearing as frequently as its position might indicate is the record by Sylvia. And the only one of those I would never want to hear again is the record by Clint Holmes. (I disliked “Playground In My Mind” from the moment I heard it, and I disliked it even more after there had been a self-made disaster in my life involving a girl named Cindy.)

The other eight, I liked, although the yodeling in “Hocus Pocus” had a short shelf life.

I should note the presence of “Right Place, Wrong Time” by the recently departed Dr. John. I loved the record, just as I came to love the bulk of the good doctor’s work through the years. (There were a few albums and tracks over the years that left me wanting, but only a few.) And I was lucky enough to see Dr. John in 1989 as a member of the first iteration of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. So the news of his passing last week was another grief-bearing reminder that time is getting short – short for my generation, yes, but even more so for the generation that preceded us and brought us our music. I won’t write much about him after this, as I’ve read too many tributes in the past few days to separate my thoughts from the things I’ve read, but I’m doing the second-best thing a music lover and writer can do: I’ve put Mac Rebennack’s work on heavy rotation here this week.

Back to WLS’ Solid Rock Music from forty-six years ago today and a few other favorite singles from the time:

No. 16: “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City
No. 18: “Shambala” by Three Dog Night
No. 27: “Diamond Girl” by Seals & Crofts
No. 31: “Natural High” by Bloodstone

And we’ll close with the record that was at No. 13 on WLS that long-ago week, a record by another now-departed performer who was also on stage with Ringo Starr in 1989. Here’s “Will It Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston.

Saturday Single No. 643

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

I mentioned KDWB’s survey from June 2, 1969, in yesterday’s post, noting that it did not fit my needs for a May 31 survey. For today, it does just fine. Here, according to the Heavy Hit List, is what was popular at the beginning of the summer of ’69 on the Twin Cities station that provided the soundtrack for pretty much every kid I knew.

(As I’ve noted before, I was not yet a committed listener, but I nevertheless heard KDWB pretty much everywhere I went in those days, except for the rec room in our basement.)

Here’s the top ten from that Heavy Hit List:

“Get Back” by the Beatles
“Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy
“Grazing In The Grass” by Friends Of Distinction
“These Eyes” by the Guess Who
“Happy Heart” by Andy Williams
“More Today Than Yesterday” by the Spiral Starecase
“Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers
“Let Me” by Paul Revere & The Raiders
“The River Is Wide” by the Grass Roots
“Lodi/Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Let Me” was marked as new to the survey, and it’s a record I do not remember by title. The same is true of the Andy Williams record. The other nine records are very familiar and very much liked.

Of course, ten seconds into listening to both “Let Me” and “Happy Heart,” I know the records. I am, however, ambivalent about both of them. If I were to rank the eleven records above, they’d come in at the bottom of the pack. And their popularity on KDWB exceeded by a fair amount their success nationwide: “Let Me” peaked at No. 20 in the Billboard Hot 100, and “Happy Heart” went to No. 22.

So how would I rank the other nine? Well, I’m not going to sort through all of them, but I think the top three would be the records by the Friends Of Distinction, the Grass Roots and the Edwin Hawkins Singers, with “Get Back” sitting in fourth place.

And I clearly remember listening intently to “Grazing In The Grass” with Rick, with both of us working hard (and failing) to replicate the chatterbox vocals on the break:

I can dig it, he can dig it, she can dig it,
We can dig it, they can dig it, you can dig it
Oh, let’s dig it. Can you dig it, baby?

So for that reason – and for the fact that it’s a great record that went to No. 3 on the Hot 100 and to No. 5 on the Billboard R&B chart – “Grazing In The Grass” by the Friends Of Distinction is today’s Saturday Single.

Survey Digging: May 31, 1969

Friday, May 31st, 2019

It’s time for a visit to the Airheads Radio Survey Archive to check out what folks were listening to around the country fifty years ago, as May 1969 drew to a close. We’ll check out the No. 31 record at four stations and note the No. 1 and No. 2 records as well.

We’ll start in New York City with the Music Power Survey at WABC. Parked in the No. 31 slot in the survey was “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker & The Aces. The first portion of the second sentence of the Wikipedia entry on the record sums up my memory of the single: “Although few could understand all the lyrics . . .” I recall straining my ears to figure out what the song was about and not really succeeding for years. Wikipedia goes on to note, “the single was the first UK reggae number one and among the first to reach the US top ten (peaking at number 9). It combined the Rastafarian religion with rude boy concerns, to make what has been described as a ‘timeless masterpiece that knew no boundaries’.”

(The “rude boy” culture in Jamaica, another Wikipedia entry points out, correlates roughly with what’s called “gangsta” culture in the U.S.)

Sitting at No. 2 at WABC fifty years ago was “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, while the No. 1 record was the Beatles’ “Get Back.”

We’ll head south along the East Coast and make a stop in Miami, where we’ll take a look at the Fabulous 56 Survey from WQAM. The No. 31 record there as May 1969 came to a close was “Goodbye” by Mary Hopkin. The song was written by Paul McCartney (though credited, as was the arrangement at the time, to John Lennon as well). McCartney also produced the recording, adding bass, an acoustic guitar solo and the somewhat odd acoustic guitar introduction. I recall liking the record, which makes sense as it’s kind of a sappy and sad love song, and anyone who’s read this blog more than once knows that’s one of my soft spots. The record peaked at No. 13 in the Billboard Hot 100 and went to No. 6 on the magazine’s easy listening chart.

The No. 2 record on the Fabulous 56 was the Guess Who’s “These Eyes” and the Beatles’ “Get Back” and its flip, “Don’t Let Me Down,” were listed as a double No. 1.

Our next stop is in Tucson, Arizona, home of KTKT and its mundanely named “Top Forty.” The No. 31 record in that part of the southwest on May 31, 1969, was “Pinball Wizard” by the Who. The centerpiece in the group’s rock opera Tommy, the record – full of slashing acoustic guitars and suspended chords (among my favorite sounds) – doesn’t sound nearly as loud or disruptive to me now as it did fifty years ago. I know I didn’t hear it a lot back then, but I sought it out about a year later when I came across the piano arrangement for the song and began to work on it at the keyboard. I got pretty good at it, but it never sounded as cool on the piano as it does on the Who’s guitars, so I let it go. The record went to 19 on the Hot 100.

Sitting at No. 2 on KTKT fifty years ago was, again, “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, and the station’s No. 1 record was “Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet” by Henry Mancini.

I was going to end this trip in the Twin Cities, but WDGY’s survey only goes to No. 30, and KDWB didn’t release a 6+30 Survey until June 2. So we’ll finish our excursion with the Entertainment Survey from WLTH in Gary, Indiana. The No. 31 record there fifty years ago today was a favorite of mine: “Where’s The Playground Susie” by Glen Campbell. I wrote some years ago about discovering the song on a live Campbell recording given to me in a box of cassettes: “[W]hen I heard Campbell’s live performance of what was another [Jimmy] Webb gem, the sweep of its melody, the sadness and confusion in its words and the playground metaphor all made me sit up and take notice.” The record went to No. 26 on the Hot 100, to No. 10 on the easy listening chart and to No. 28 on the country chart.

The No. 2 record at WLTH fifty years ago was, as in New York and Tucson, “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, and – as in Miami – the No. 1 spot was the double-sided “Get Back/Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles.

(As it happens, I could not have pulled any information from a June 2, 1969, edition of KDWB’s 6+30. The station did not begin calling its survey the 6+30 until the end of June in 1969. Before then, the station’s survey was called the Heavy Hit List. It had other names earlier than that, I know. Perhaps someday I will sort them all out. Note added June 1, 2019.)

Memphis, 50 Years Ago

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Okay, so what were they listening to in Memphis fifty years ago today? Let’s take a look at the “Now 30” offered by WHBQ on April 23, 1969. Here’s the Top Ten:

“Sweet Cherry Wine” by Tommy James & The Shondells
“It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers
“Mama Soul” by the Soul Survivors
“Hawaii Five-O” by the Ventures
“Chokin’ Kind” by Joe Simon
“Time Is Tight” by Booker T & The MG’s
“These Eyes” by the Guess Who
“Will You Be Staying After Sunday” by the Peppermint Rainbow
“Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy
“It’s Only Love” by B.J. Thomas

That’s not entirely familiar to me, which is rare for a 1969 chart. I don’t recall ever hearing “Mama Soul” or “Chokin’ Kind” until today. In the case of “Mama Soul,” that’s maybe not surprising, as it only bubbled under at No. 115 in Billboard, and the odds of hearing it on the northern end of the Mississippi River were likely slender; at the time, I was not a committed listener.

I’m a little more startled at not recalling the Joe Simon record. It went to No. 13 in the Hot 100 (and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart). If I’d heard it back then, I think I would have liked it. (The same holds true for “Mama Soul.”) But I took a look at Oldiesloon, and “Chokin’ Kind” doesn’t seem to have made it into any of the surveys from KDWB out of the Twin Cities, so my chances weren’t good there, either.

The third record of those ten that didn’t spark any memories as I scanned the list was the B.J. Thomas. I listened to it, and I vaguely remember hearing it but not being impressed.

Otherwise, heading down the “Now 30,” I noticed with some interest three covers: “The Letter” by the Arbors at No. 13, “I Shall Be Released” by the Box Tops at No. 25, and “She’s Not There” by the Road at No. 26. I think I’ve talked about the first two over the years, so let’s take a look at the third of those.

The Road was a quintet from Buffalo, New York, and the group’s cover of the Zombies’ 1964 record was its only charting hit, bubbling under the Hot 100 for three weeks and peaking at No. 114. The record made the Top Ten in a number of cities, peaking at No. 3 at WRKO in Boston and CJKL in Kirkland Lake, Ontario (about 350 miles north of Toronto) and going to No. 2 at KYNO in Fresno, KTIL in Tillamook, Oregon, and – unsurprisingly – WNIA in Buffalo.

It’s got a trippy, very ’69-ish, introduction, but once the record gets going, it’s not all that different from the Zombies’ version. But it’s a decent listen, and it’s likely the only thing the Road ever did that got attention in Kirkland Lake.

‘I’ll Try Something New . . .’

Friday, March 29th, 2019

As I’ve noted before, my teenage Top 40 listening came by way of three radio stations: KDWB in the Twin Cities, WLS in Chicago (almost entirely as I was falling asleep) and St. Cloud’s WJON. The Twin Cities’ other major Top 40 station, WDGY was pretty much unknown to those of us in St. Cloud because of its signal direction, except when we wandered past its mobile studio during a trip to the state fair.

I’m sure there wasn’t a lot of difference in their playlists, but every once in a while, I like to go to the WDGY page at Oldiesloon and check out one of the WDGY surveys. And it happens that the station released one fifty years ago today, on March 29, 1969. Here’s the Top Ten from that week’s Star Survey:

“You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” by the 5th Dimension
“Dizzy” by Tommy Roe
“Time Of The Season” by the Zombies
“Indian Giver” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company
“Hot Smoke & Sasafrass” by Bubble Puppy
“Galveston” by Glen Campbell
“Only The Strong Survive” by Jerry Butler
“Rock Me” by Steppenwolf
“Baby, Baby, Don’t Cry” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Almost all of that is stuff that I would have known by osmosis, by having the sounds around me even if I didn’t pay them much attention. I don’t recall “Baby, Baby Don’t Cry,” and I’m not sure about the Jerry Butler record; I may have heard it then, but I know it better now from Elvis Presley’s cover from the 1969 Memphis sessions.

I like pretty much everything in that forty or so minutes of listening, and “Galveston,” “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In,” “Time Of The Seasons” and the BS&T single are still favorites. I remain unmoved by Tommy Roe, though “Dizzy” is the best of his hits.

We’ll cap off this brief excursion by dropping down to No. 30 at the bottom of that long-ago WDGY survey, where we find “I’ll Try Something New” by Diana Ross & The Supremes and the Temptations. The single was the second pulled from the album the two groups had recorded in 1968 in connection with a television special, and it did all right, reaching No. 25 in the Billboard Hot 100 (and going to No. 8 on the magazine’s R&B chart).

I don’t recall it from fifty years ago, and in fact, I don’t recall it all, despite its presence on the Supremes hits CD on the shelves here. It’s good, but it’s not “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.”

Saturday Single No. 631

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

We took a brief look earlier this week at the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1971 – No. 48 Forty-Eight Years Ago – winding up with a very familiar and very loved record, Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over The Line,” as our feature. This morning, we’re going to look at the first week of March 1971 at the Twin Cities’ KDWB.

Here’s the Top Ten in the station’s 6+30 for March 1 of that year, forty-eight years ago yesterday:

“D.O.A.” by Bloodrock
“One Bad Apple” by the Osmonds
“She’s A Lady” by Tom Jones
“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Sweet Mary” by Wadsworth Mansion
“Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
“For All We Know” by the Carpenters
“Watching Scotty Grow” by Bobby Goldsboro
“Mama’s Pearl” by the Jackson 5

Well, that’s a wide-ranging ten. I love the Lightfoot, the Creedence and “Sweet Mary.” I like “For All We Know” and “One Bad Apple.” I’m a little better than okay with “Mr. Bojangles” and “She’s A Lady.” ‘Mama’s Pearl” means nothing to me, either way. I dislike “D.O.A.” And I detest the Goldsboro record with the kind of fervor I feel for “Seasons In The Sun.”

But we’re going to go random, playing games with numbers and making today’s date – 3/2/19 – into 24 and see what was at No. 24 in that first 6-30 of March 1971.

And we come up with a B.J. Thomas record whose title sparks no memories: “No Love At All.” And of course, as the first chords of the record come up at YouTube, I recognize them, and as the song plays on, I remember hearing it and liking it as a seventeen-year-old who was pretty damned lonely. “Even the sad love is better than no love at all,” Thomas told me from my old RCA radio.

But from the perspective of forty-eight years, taking in my experiences and those of many friends with lots of loves, I’m not sure I can buy anymore all of what the song is selling:

Read in the paper nearly day
People breakin’ up and just walkin’ away from love and that’s wrong
That’s so wrong

A happy little home comes up for sale
Because two fools have tried and failed to get along
And you know that’s wrong

A man hurts a woman and a woman hurts a man
When neither one of them will love and understand
And take it with a grain of salt

Oh, now believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad love is better than no love at all
Got to believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And any kind of love is better than no love at all

No love at all is a poor old man
Standin’ on the corner with his hat in his hand
And no place to go, he’s feelin’ low

No love at all is a child in the street
Dodgin’ traffic and beggin’ to eat on a tenement row
And that’s a long row to hoe

No love at all is a troubled young girl
Standin’ on a bridge at the end of the world
And it’s a pretty short fall

Now people believe me
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad love is better than no love at all
Got to believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And any kind of love is better than no love at all

Oh, you got to believe me
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad is better than no love at all

It all depends, I guess, on how one defines “bad love,” and it seems to me there are some scenarios in there that are best moved past. But I guess that just as one shouldn’t expect one’s therapist to sing like a recording artist, one shouldn’t expect a singer to provide entirely useful counseling.

“No Love At All” peaked at No. 10 on KDWB three weeks later. In Billboard, the record peaked at No. 16. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 629

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

We’re going to head over the Airhead Radio Survey Archives today and play some Games With Numbers. We’re going to find four surveys from widely differing geographic areas, and then we’ll take today’s date – 2/16/19 – and turn that into 37. And we’ll see what’s at No. 37 on those four surveys. One of those four records will be today’s Saturday Single.

Along the way, we’ll check out – as we generally do – the No. 1 record on those surveys. As for the year, I think we’ll go forty-five years back and see what was on the air in February 1974.

We’ll start on the West Coast, checking out the Pop Sound of Southern California, as offered by KOLA of San Bernardino. Sitting at No. 37 forty-five years ago today was “Pepper Box” by the Peppers. The Peppers were, says Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, a “pop instrumental studio duo from Paris,” with Mat Camison on synths and Pierre Dahan on drums.

The record is two-and-a-half minutes of not very inspired wheedling melody backed with a basic rhythm track. It probably seemed revolutionary in 1974. The record was new that week to KOLA’s survey, and in about three weeks it would make its way into the Billboard chart, peaking at No. 76 on the Hot 100. It was the Peppers’ only record to reach the Hot 100. (The title triggered a memory, so I checked the archives: “Pepper Box” was mentioned here about five years ago when I spent some time checking out a survey from March 1974 at KUPK of Garden City, Kansas.)

The No. 1 record forty-five years ago at KOLA was Terry Jacks’ “Seasons In The Sun.”

We’ll head to the mountains for our next stop, digging into the weekly survey at Denver’s KTLK, where the No. 37 rung was taken up by “Jungle Boogie” by Kool & The Gang, which is familiar, I would imagine, to anyone who hangs around this joint. The record had just entered KTLK’s survey that week.

Nationally, “Jungle Boogie” would, of course, be one of Kool & The Gang’s biggest hits, grunting its way to No. 4 in the Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart.

The No. 1 record at KTLK forty-five years ago this week was also “Seasons In The Sun.”

We’ll head a long ways southeast from Denver and check out “South Florida’s Top Selling Music” as compiled by WQAM of Miami. The No. 37 record there forty-five years ago today was “I Love” by country artists Tom T. Hall. The saccharine list of the things that Hall loves – including little fuzzy pups, bourbon in a glass, honest open smiles, tomatoes on the vine “and you” – was in its first week on the WQAM survey.

Nationally, “I Love” went to No. 12 on the Hot 100, No. 2 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart and spent two weeks at No. 1 on the magazine’s country chart.

Then No. 1 record at MQAM forty-five years ago was “Love’s Theme” by the Love Unlimited Orchestra.

We finish our journey with a stop at WCFL in Chicago, where the Super CFL Survey showed Elton John’s “Bennie & The Jets” holding down spot No. 37 in its first week on the survey. The record, of course, went to No. 1 on the Hot 100.

And the No. 1 record at WCFL during that long-ago week was Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were.”

So our choices come down to “I Love,” “Bennie & The Jets,” “Jungle Boogie” or “Pepper Box.” The gods of randomness have disappointed us this time. So we’ll go with rarity. Here’s “Pepper Box” by the Peppers, today’s Saturday Single.

One Survey Dig: 12-7-67

Friday, December 7th, 2018

My plans for playing “What’s At No. 100?” fell through today, as both December 7 charts I looked at came from years that we’ve recently examined: 1968 (earlier this week) and 1974 (a week ago). So I regrouped and asked the search function at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive to give me surveys from December 7, 1967, from which I’d choose one to examine.

I got surveys from Los Angeles, Peterborough (Ontario), New York City, Boston, Orlando, Detroit/Dearborn, St. Louis, Chicago, and Phoenix. So . . . let’s see what shows up among the forty records in the Super Hits at WHOO in Orlando. The top five were:

“(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts” by the Bee Gees
“Hello, Goodbye” by the Beatles
“Daydream Believer” by the Monkees
“Snoopy’s Christmas” by the Royal Guardsmen
“Woman, Woman” by Union Gap feat. Gary Puckett

Not bad, except for the novelty of “Snoopy’s Christmas.” I enjoyed the earlier “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron,” and in fact had a copy of it that I got from Leo Rau, the jukebox jobber who lived across the alley (and the record itself might be in the various boxes where I keep about a hundred 45s). But on an artistic level, I always thought (even from the age of fourteen) that the Royal Guardsmen should have let the matter lie there. But the Royal Guardsmen, along with the writers – George David Weiss and Hugo & Luigi – and the producers at Gernhard Enterprises were, of course, thinking commercially. And they did well with the sequel, spending – if I’m reading the data in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles correctly – five weeks atop the Christmas singles chart.

(Yah Shure, if I’ve got that wrong, please enlighten me.)

Anyway, back to Orlando: The first thing of interest that I note is a record titled “Paper Man” by a group called Noah’s Ark. There’s no information about the group in the Whitburn book. The notes at YouTube tell us that Noah’s Ark hailed from Tampa, Florida, and had three singles released. At Discogs.com, we learn that the first two were on Decca and the final one was on Liberty. “Paper Man” isn’t bad, but its Beatlesque sound is something that thousands of other bands were doing at the time.

One notch down from “Paper Man” we find Wilson Pickett’s two-sided single, “Stag-O-Lee/I’m In Love.” The A-side rocks a little and the B-side sways on the dance floor, but they’re just okay. Unlike the Noah’s Ark single, Pickett’s B-side did make the Billboard charts: “Stag-O-Lee” went to No. 22 (and to No. 13 on the magazine’s R&B chart) and “I’m In Love” reached No. 45 (and No. 4 R&B).

Heading further down on the WHOO Super Hits, we find Ray Charles’ cover of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” at No. 21. It’s good (and I’m tempted to add “of course” to that assessment; I mean, we’re talking ’bout Ray Charles here). Charles’ cover went to No. 25 in the Hot 100 and to No. 9 on the R&B chart.

I’m not sure how often we’ve talked about Dean Martin during these eleven-plus years, but it’s not been often. But there, at No. 36 on the Super Hits survey is Deano with “In The Misty Moonlight.” It sways nicely and gently, rhyming “moonlight” with “firelight,” and Martin’s smooth tones make it work. I likely have heard “In The Misty Moonlight” before, because it went to No. 2 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart (No. 46 on the Hot 100), and easy listening sounds were what I gravitated to back in 1967.

One final thing I’ll note from the WHOO Super Hits from fifty-one years ago today: The Super Hit Album of the Week was listed at “Ravi Shankar at Monterey.” The album’s full title was actually Ravi Shankar At The Monterey International Pop Festival; it went to No. 43 on the Billboard 200. Here’s a clip showing some of Shankar’s performance at the festival, starting with a few scenes away from the stage. I do not know if this performance is on the album.

What’s At No. 100? (October 10, 1970)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Time for another episode of What’s At No. 100? Today’s date – 10/10 – pretty much begged for that, and a quick look at my files of the Billboard Hot 100 showed that during the years we’re pretty much interested in around here, only twice did a Hot 100 get published on October 10.

The first was in 1964, and the second was in 1970. Now, the former of those two years would be a fun year to go digging around in, but the latter, well, anyone who knows me is aware that 1970 is a rich vein of gold in the mine of my memory. But before we go deep into the Hot 100 published forty-eight years ago today – and can it really be that long ago? – let’s look at that week’s Top Ten:

“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Candida” by Dawn
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“All Right Now” by Free
“Julie Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“(I Know) I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth

Now there’s a fine forty minutes or so of late-night listening, perhaps after minimal attention to the demands of my senior-year classes or maybe after a football game. There’s nothing there that would make me move the tuner dial or hit the button in the car in search of better sounds. I did like the B-side of the CCR record better than that A-side, which has always seemed just a little bit silly.

And, as often happens, I’m a little startled to see Sugarloaf’s “Green-Eyed Lady” in 1970. The record always sounds to me – nearly a half-century distant from those radio waves – as if it should fall in 1976, where it would be, for some reason, a companion piece to Lighthouse’s “One Fine Morning.” (It works the other way, too: When “One Fine Morning” pops up in my listening routine, I always think it belongs in 1970, next to the Sugarloaf single, or the longer album track.)

A thought occurred to me as I write this: As my late-night listening in the autumn of my senior year of high school came from WLS in distant Chicago, what did that station have as its Top Ten as October 10 passed by? The answer comes from Oldiesloon:

“Cracklin’ Rosie”
“All Right Now”
“I’ll Be There”
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
“Candida”
“Do What You Want To Do” by Five Flights Up
“Out In The Country” by Three Dog Night
“Looking Out My Back Door”
“(I Know) I’m Losing You”
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me”

Not all that different. Two of the three listed in the WLS Top Ten and not in the Billboard Top Ten are familiar. The Three Dog Night single is a favorite, but I can live without R. Dean Taylor’s hit (although I kind of liked it back then). I didn’t recognize by its title the record by Five Flights Up, but as soon as I heard the chorus this morning, it came back to me. I never heard it much – not surprising, as it only got to No. 37 in the Hot 100. And a quick glance at Oldiesloon makes me think that the record never reached the surveys of either of the Twin Cities’ Top 40 stations, KDWB or WDGY.

We’ll end the Chicago digression and get back to our business here, which is heading toward the bottom of that Hot 100 from  October 10, 1970, and seeing what’s at No. 100. And we run into a tuneful, tough and clanking instrumental by Brian Auger & The Trinity: “Listen Here.”

Not long ago, as our pal jb was visiting St. Cloud and we were driving near the St. Cloud State campus, a track by Auger with vocals by Julie Driscoll came on the car radio courtesy of WXGY in nearby Sauk Rapids. It was, I think, “Season Of The Witch.” (It could have been “Road To Cairo” or “This Wheel’s On Fire.”) And jb, who hangs his blogging hat at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, motioned to the speaker and said something like “This stuff is almost forgotten, and I cannot figure out why!”

Nor can I.

“Listen Here” showed up as a nine minute-plus version on Befour, a 1970 album by Auger and his band. I don’t know if the single is an edit, a shortened remix or an entirely different recording, but here it is. It spent two weeks at No. 100, and was the only record Auger ever got into the Hot 100 (although the previously mentioned “This Wheel’s On Fire” – with vocals by Driscoll – Bubbled Under for four weeks and got to No. 106).

‘Love Just Comes And It Goes . . .’

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Having had some fun last week digging into the bottom portions of a late 1970 summer survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB, I thought I’d move a year further back this week and do the same with a survey from WDGY, the other Twin Cities Top 40 station (which, as I’ve noted, I could not hear in St. Cloud.)

The top five records in the WDGY Star Survey forty-nine years ago today were:

“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan
“Commotion/Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Get Together” by the Youngbloods
“Hurt So Bad” by the Lettermen

That’s a great six records (although the easy listening vibe of “Hurts So Bad” might have put off folks who tuned to WDGY for rock). I’m still, after almost fifty years, not as familiar with “Commotion” as I am with “Green River,” and I doubt I’m the only one.

So what do we find at the bottom of the Star Survey?

“I’d Wait A Million Years” by the Grass Roots
“When I Die” by Mother lode
“That’s The Way Love Is” by Marvin Gaye
“I’m Gonna Make You Mine” by Lou Christie
“Oh What A Night” by the Dells

The notes at Oldiesloon helpfully tell us that the Dells’ record is a remake of the group’s 1956 hit, so that pulls that record from the list of any we might want to examine this morning. And we’ve spent what might be considered an inordinate amount of time over the years examining the pleasant memories and nostalgic pangs brought to the surface by “I’m Gonna Make You Mine.” I also loved the Grass Roots’ single, as their promise to wait to the end of time resonated with my circumstances as my junior year of high school began to take shape.

As to “When I Die” by Motherlode, I truly doubt that I’d ever heard it until sometime after I began to write this blog in early 2007.

I know I heard the Marvin Gaye version earlier than that, but only by about fifteen years. I was driving home late one night during the early 1990s and found myself at a convenience store, pumping gas into my Toyota at about eleven o’clock at night. I was on a main thoroughfare, but one wouldn’t have to venture too far to the north to find a neighborhood of questionable safety, so I was a bit nervous as the gasoline flowed into the tank and the numbers whirled on the pump.

When the pump clicked off, I finished my business and got into the car as quickly as I could. And as as I headed out of the convenience store’s lot and west on Thirty-Fifth Street, I heard a slinky intro of electric piano, bass and muffled drums coming from the car radio, tuned – as was almost always the case – to KTCZ-FM, Cities 97.

Then came a rattlesnake tambourine and finally the vocal: “Ahhhhhhhhh, baby! As the bitter tears fall from your eyes . . .”

“That’s Marvin,” I thought. “But this is nothing I’ve ever heard!”

Three blocks later, I pulled my Toyota into its parking space behind my apartment building and sat in the car, waiting for the end of the record. When it finished, I went inside and took down my copy of Joel Whitburn’s Top 40 Singles from the shelf and verified that Gaye had recorded a song titled “That’s The Way Love Is.” I also learned that it had reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. (A later acquisition tells me that the record spent five weeks at No. 2 on the magazine’s R&B chart.)

I was nearly satisfied. So I picked up the phone and called the late-night deejay at Cities 97, something I’d done a few times when I had a similar question. He answered, and I asked “That was Marvin a few minutes ago, right?”

“Oh, yeah” came the answer.

I have no idea how I missed the record back then, but the surveys collected at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive and at Oldiesloon tell me that the record peaked on WDGY at No. 24 during the last week of September. From what I can tell, the collected KDWB surveys at ARSA are missing the final two weeks of September, but none of the surveys before or after that gap list the record, so if “That’s The Way Love Is” showed up in the KDWB survey, it was for two weeks at most.

So it’s not surprising that I hadn’t heard it back then.