Archive for the ‘Survey Digging’ Category

One Survey Dig: February 1972

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

For the past couple years, I’ve been deeply involved in the music program at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship here in St. Cloud. Along with joining the other musicians in leading the weekly congregants in music from our service book and in performing popular music, I’ve offered quite a few of my own compositions.

Almost all of my work that I’ve sung at the fellowship has been quite old, most from the late 1980s and early 1990s, things I wrote and then tucked away for whatever use I might find for them someday. That was the case this week, as I performed a tune of mine titled “Come To Me” for our annual Valentine’s Day program. It’s a song I wrote in Columbia, Missouri, in December 1990 and never performed anywhere until this week. And thinking about that performance in the past few days, I’ve come to two conclusions:

First, if I want to keep performing original work that my audience at the fellowship has never heard before, I’ll need to resume writing songs; I’m rapidly running through my catalog.

Second: I’ve realized that one of the turning points of my life came in early 1972, when I took my first course in music theory at St. Cloud State.

By that time, I’d been playing piano (on my second go-round) for a couple of years and had been writing poetry/lyrics for about the same amount of time. I’d also been playing guitar for about a year, and I’d tried to use my nascent skills there to write music for my lyrics, but all I’d really been doing was stringing together generally random chords. That hadn’t worked well, and the theory I was learning taught me why, as I began to understand how chordal patterns helped song structures work. That understanding grew as I took four more classes in music theory, exhausting St. Cloud State’s offerings.

Now, not much of what I wrote during the next couple of years has aged well (and that includes pieces, generally singer-songwriter stuff, written for the last week of each theory class), but the stuff I wrote after I started my theory courses at least had coherent musical structures. And that change began in the early months of 1972.

So in the spirit of learning about something new, I thought I’d see if there were any records I’d either never heard or didn’t recall hearing on the record survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB during this week in 1972.

Here’s the top five, all of which – as you might guess – are very familiar:

“Joy” by Apollo 100
“Without You” by Nilsson
“Don’t Say You Don’t Remember” by Beverly Bremers
“Hurting Each Other” by the Carpenters
“Precious and Few” by Climax

All of those are decent records fondly recalled, but as we head down to the lower portions of the survey – thirty-six records long, in a reversed representation of the station’s frequency of 630 – there are good records that are less familiar. And sitting in spot No. 33, new to the survey during this week in 1972, was a Grass Roots record that I likely heard somewhere, sometime, but one that I do not recall hearing until this morning: “Glory Bound.”

The record has all the merits of the Grass Roots’ peak stuff from earlier years, including the 1970-71 trio of “Temptation Eyes,” “Sooner Or Later” and “Two Divided By Love,” but the band’s moment was pretty much over. The record peaked on KDWB three weeks later at No. 11; in the Billboard Hot 100, it got up to No. 34.

Saturday Single No. 456

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

My search feature told me this morning that among the Billboard Hot 100 charts that have been released over the years on July 25, one of them fell in 1970. I glanced at it, knowing as I did that every record near the top would likely be familiar, tunes I would have heard on KDWB (or on WJON or WLS after dark).

And I thought, “Why not just look at the KDWB survey instead?” So I stopped off at the Oldies Loon website and pulled up the station’s survey for July 27, 1970. (The survey is here.) And every record was more than familiar until I got right near the bottom of the survey, where Glen Campbell’s “Everything A Man Could Need” didn’t ring any bells. I checked it out on YouTube, was reminded that the full title was “Everything A Man Could Ever Need,” and then remembered hearing it and not being very impressed. Neither were the rest of KDWB’s listeners, as the record made it only as high as No. 28 on the station’s weekly surveys over a four-week run.*

So with a survey full of memories – as I’ve noted many times, the summer of 1970 was one of the best radio seasons of my life – what do I do this morning? I thought about playing some games with today’s date, and did a quick scan of the records that would be involved, those at Nos. 7, 15, 22, 25 and 32. And then I went back to No. 25, Bob Dylan’s “Wigwam.”

Back in the summer of 1970, I knew very little about Bob Dylan. I knew about “Lay Lady Lay” from the summer of 1969. I knew about “Blowin’ In The Wind.” I knew he was one of the big trees in the forest of folk and rock and pop music. I didn’t really know why.

But I loved the wordless “Wigwam,” which peaked at KDWB at No. 23 a couple of weeks later (and made it to No. 41 in the Hot 100). I know now, of course, that it came from Self Portrait, the ramshackle album that left most critics and fans baffled and annoyed at best. I know now a lot more about Bob Dylan. There are numerous albums of his that I admire more and enjoy more than I do Self Portrait. There are Dylan songs and Dylan recordings that I admire more than I do “Wigwam.”

But I still love the record, just like I did back in 1970. Because of that, and because it’s not ever been mentioned even once over the course of about 1,800 posts here, Bob Dylan’s “Wigwam” is today’s Saturday Single.

* “Everything A Man Could Ever Need,” from the movie Norwood, wasn’t a big hit nationally, either, making it only to No. 52 in the Hot 100. The record did get to No. 5 on the Billboard country chart and to No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Saturday Single No. 454

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

I thought we’d dig into one radio survey this morning, so I went to the Airheads Radio Survey Archive and sorted out all the surveys from July 11 over the years, a trove of surveys stretching from 1958 to 1998 and from radio stations in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to York, Pennsylvania, alphabetically and to Burbank, California, geographically.

My plan was to find a survey that was issued by a station in an intriguing city during a year I like, but after nosing around, I thought that the first city in the list might be what I needed. A quick check of the files told me that I’ve never looked at a survey from Atlantic City, and the survey in question is from 1969, so there you go! The station was WMID, and it didn’t have a nifty name for its survey as many stations do, but at the bottom of the thirty-record survey, a note said that among the sources for the rankings were “WMID Boss Line requests.”

We’ll consider six records as candidates for this morning’s feature, based on combining the integers in today’s date: 7-11-15, and we’ll look, too, just for fun at the top and bottom records in the survey.

Anchoring the thirty records in the WMID survey forty-six years ago was Jerry Butler’s “Moody Woman,” while parked in the top spot was “My Pledge Of Love” by the Joe Jeffrey Group, both decent bits of R&B, but our business is with some of the records in the survey’s interior:

No. 26: “In The Ghetto” by Elvis Presley
No. 22: “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker & The Aces
No. 18: “See” by the Rascals
No. 15: “Grazing In The Grass” by the Friends of Distinction
No. 11: “Color Him Father” by the Winstons
No.   7: “Let Me” by Paul Revere & The Raiders

Without listening this morning, I recall only three of those records from my high school days, and only one of them fondly: I’m still weary of “In The Ghetto,” and “Israelites” never grabbed me, even though the two records ended up at Nos. 3 and 9 respectively in the Billboard Hot 100. I do still like the Friends of Distinction’s “Grazing,” which peaked at No. 3 in the Hot 100.

“Color Him Father” (which we touched on briefly when we discussed the Winstons’ “Love Of The Common People” a few months ago) is not a record I remember at all from that time, even though surveys from KDWB in the Twin Cities show it ranking at least as high as No. 5 and it went to No. 7 in the Hot 100. It’s a fine record, but it doesn’t grab me.

What about “Let Me” by Paul Revere & The Raiders and “See” by the Rascals? Well, having found and listened to “Let Me” this morning, I remember hearing it the radio, though not often, and I recall the screamed “Na-na! Na-na! Na-na! Na-na!” after the fake-out fade, which kind of ruined the record for me back then (and still does).

As for “See,” well, I imagine I heard it on the radio, as KDWB’s surveys online show it ranking as high as No. 8. And since it went to No. 27 in the Hot 100, I imagine I heard it live a little more than a year later when the Rascals played at St. Cloud State. But I don’t remember it at all. I dig it this morning, though, as much for the Dylanisms (intentional or not) of the lead vocal (Felix Cavaliere, I assume) as for the driving raucousness that makes it sound very much like 1969 sounded in some corners.

And that’s all enough to make “See” by the Rascals today’s Saturday Single.

Revised slightly after first posting.

‘It’s Good News Week . . .’

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

All right, it’s January 8, 1966, a Saturday. I was twelve, my sister was fifteen, and who knows what we might have been doing that day. But it’s a good bet that sometime during the day – quite likely after lunch – my sister and I ended up with dishwashing duty.

When we took care of the dishes in those days, my sister would tune the kitchen radio to 630, KDWB, to hear what the world of Top 40 sounded like while she washed and I dried. I would have greeted the radio tuning with a shrug, not really caring about Top 40 yet but nevertheless hearing enough of it around me that I would know the major hits of the time.

So what might we have heard on KDWB as we did the dishes that Saturday forty-nine years gone? Well, certainly stuff from the top of the station’s Fabulous Forty Survey released that day. The top single was “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles, followed by Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence.” No surprises there.

Then, at No. 3, we find “The Little Girl I Once Knew” by the Beach Boys, which was clearly better regarded in the Twin Cities than it was nationally, as it got to only No. 20 in the Billboard Hot 100. I imagine I’ve heard it one time or another over the years, but it’s not a record I remember. But then, as I’ve likely said here before, I’ve never been much of a Beach Boys fan, so it’s not unthinkable that “The Little Girl I Once Knew” might have slipped past unnoticed. As I listen this morning, I mentally shrug and think, “Yeah, it’s the Beach Boys. What next?”

And that’s where things might have gotten interesting in the kitchen and definitely get interesting nearly fifty years later, now that comparing surveys and charts and similar listings takes up some of my time. Sitting at No. 4 in the Fabulous Forty was a record I do not recall by a group whose name I thought might have been a joke: “It’s Good News Week” by the Hedgehoppers Anonymous.

It’s good news week
Someone’s dropped a bomb somewhere
Contaminating atmosphere
And blackening the sky

It’s good news week
Someone’s found a way to give
The rotting dead a will to live
Go on and never die

Have you heard the news
What did it say?
Who’s won that race?
What’s the weather like today?

It’s good news week
Families shake the need for gold
By stimulating birth control
We’re wanting less to eat

Lots of blood in Asia now
They’ve butchered off the sacred cow
They’ve got a lot to eat.

It’s good news week
Doctors finding many ways
Of wrapping brains on metal trays
To keep us from the heat

Bleak, surreal and utterly cheerful in its presentation, the record didn’t do nearly as well nationally as it did on KDWB, peaking in the Hot 100 at No. 48. And it wasn’t just KDWB; the record was No. 3 that week on WDGY, the Twin Cities’ other main Top 40 station. (It had peaked at No. 3 a week earlier at KDWB.)

Nor was it just the Twin Cities. In Chicago, “It’s Good News Week” went to No. 3 on WLS and No. 5 on WCFL. It went to No. 4 on CJCA in Edmonton, Alberta, and there are surveys at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive from a smattering of stations that show the record in the top ten.

It’s likely worth noting that the highest ranking found for the Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ single in any of the surveys at ARSA is the No. 1 slot on Radio London, a ship-based renegade station broadcasting to the United Kingdom from international waters. The record also went to No. 2 on the similarly based Radio Caroline South. As the Hedgehoppers Anonymous were from England, that makes a little sense.

But the record’s reception in the Twin Cities (and Chicago) seems odd. Just one of those things that happen, I guess. And if we ever heard the record during that hypothetical (but very likely) dishwashing session, I’m sure I would never have remembered it.

Addendum: I suppose I should note here in passing that “It’s Good News Week” was written and produced for the Hedgehoppers Anonymous by Jonathan King, who had a hit with “Everyone’s Gone To The Moon” in 1965 and who was convicted in 2001 of sexually abusing teenage boys during the 1980s.

Thanks to regular reader and friend Yah Shure for reminding me that the lyrics in the video did not match the lyrics found on the Net. I simply forgot to change them. As to why the lyrics were different, see Yah Shure’s note below.

Saturday Single No. 426

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

We’re going to play some games with numbers and dig into some fifty-year old surveys this morning in search of a Saturday tune. The Airheads Radio Survey Archive offers seven surveys released on January 3, 1965, so we’re going to take a look at four of them. We’ll take today’s date – 1/3/15 – and turn that into No. 13 and No. 15, and see what we find.

We’ll also, as we customarily do, check out the No. 1 record on each survey simply for context.

We’ll start in the Midwest with the “Silver Dollar Music Survey” from Milwaukee’s WRIT. Sitting at No. 13 fifty years ago today was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers, an epic record that would top the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks a month later. And parked at No. 15 in Milwaukee was “Let’s Lock The Door (And Throw Away The Key)” by Jay & The Americans, a single that, as far as I know, I’ve not heard until this morning. It did go to No. 11 in Billboard, but that only goes to show that making the Top 20 is no guarantee of oldies radio immortality.

The No. 1 record at WRIT fifty years ago was the Beatles’ two-sided “I Feel Fine/She’s A Woman.”

From Wisconsin, we’ll head east and make a stop in Columbus, Ohio, where we’ll check out the hot tunes on WCOL’s “Hit Line Survey” from the first week in January 1965. The No. 13 record there was “Give Him A Great Big Kiss” by the Shangri-Las, a lively bit of girl group joy with a bit of teenage theater between verses. It went to No. 18 nationally, which was kind of a bring-down after “Leader Of The Pack” went to No. 1 in late 1964. Sitting at No. 15 in Columbus was Gerry & The Pacemakers’ “I’ll Be There,” another record that I’ve never heard before this morning. A sweet pledge of loyalty to a departing lover, the record went to No. 14 in Billboard.

Sitting atop the “Hit Line Survey” at WCOL fifty years ago today was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”

From Ohio we head to Newport News, Virginia, where WGH releases its “Original Official Top Thirty,” which includes at No. 13 Del Shannon’s “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun).” Blessed with a great organ break and Shannon’s unearthly wails at the end, the record would go to No. 9 in the Hot 100. Sitting at No. 15 in Newport News that week fifty years ago was the Animals’ “Boom Boom,” in which Eric Burdon and his pals take on John Lee Hooker and, almost inevitably, come up wanting. The record stalled at No. 43 in Billboard.

Perched at No. 1 in WGH’s “Original Official Top Thirty” fifty years ago was “Mr. Lonely” by Bobby Vinton.

From the East Coast we jump to the West Coast and the “Top Sixty Tune-Dex” offered by Los Angeles’ KRLA. At No. 13, we find “Willow Weep For Me” by Chad & Jeremy, a soft rock duo from England. Squishy by even Chad & Jeremy standards, “Willow” would peak at No. 15 in Billboard. And at No. 15, we find British MOR singers Matt Monro with “Walk Away,” a song telling a lover to move on for her own good. It went to No. 23 in Billboard.

The No. 1 record on the “Top Sixty Tune-Dex” fifty years ago today was, as it was in Columbus, the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”

Well, with the No. 13s and the No. 15s, we have a wide range of records to consider for our Saturday morning listening. Most of them are relatively unfamiliar to me, which only serves to show that there is a limit to how much back-filling can take place. As 1965 began, I was eleven, and I was still four to five years away from digging deeply into the Top 40 and a good twenty years away from beginning any serious effort to know and understand what came before 1969.

In any case, we have some intriguing choices for our Saturday morning listening, and I think we’ll go with a cool organ break followed by unearthly wails and make Del Shannon’s “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun)” today’s Saturday Single.

‘New Jersey’

Friday, September 12th, 2014

About England Dan & John Ford Coley . . .

The last time we saw the soft rock duo in these parts was a little more than a year ago with a brief mention in a rundown of records of the summer of 1976; there have been a couple of other mentions, too, since their “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” helped close our Ultimate Jukebox series almost four years ago. (As well as being a good record, “I’d Really Love . . .” was the biggest hit the pair had, reaching No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the magazine’s Adult Contemporary chart.)

The duo popped up again this week with what turned out to be a mystery. It started with a survey from forty-three years ago released by the Twin Cities station KDWB. Most of the records on the survey, dated September 13, 1971, are familiar; if I didn’t hear them on KDWB (and I might not have; the Twin Cities station was falling out of my listening rotation at the time), I heard them on WJON across the railroad tracks or else late at night on Chicago’s WLS.

But at No. 28 in that long-ago survey, wedged between the Stampeders’ “Sweet City Woman” and the Glass Bottle’s “Ain’t Got Time Anymore,” was a record I didn’t know: “New Jersey” by England Dan & John Ford Coley. It startled me to see their names listed during the summer of 1971, five years before they began their four-year run that put nine records into the Hot 100, four of them in the Top Ten. The first thing I did was check Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, which told me that “New Jersey” had bubbled under the Hot 100 for four weeks, peaking at No. 103. (It peaked at No. 22 on KDWB.)

Intrigued, I started to poke around a couple of discography sites. The listings at Discogs told me that “New Jersey” was released as a promo on A&M in 1971, but the catalog number was not the same as the A&M single listed by Whitburn, and the 45 pictured there had a small center hole with the doohickey that could be punched out to make a larger hole, as European 45s do. So that wasn’t the U.S. 45, which isn’t listed at Discogs for some reason. Discogs did tell me that the 1971 self-titled album by ED & JFC had been released in the U.K. on A&M and in Canada on the Pickwick label. Again, there was no listing for a U.S. release. We know via Whitburn (and the KDWB survey) that the single existed, but I began to wonder if A&M here in the States released a single first, wanting to know if listeners were interested in the group before releasing the album, and then did not release the album when the single tanked.

(I also learned at Discogs that ED & JFC had a second album, Fables, released on A&M in 1972 in both the U.S. and the U.K. and that a single from that album, “Simone,” had been a No. 1 hit in Japan and had also done well in France. It turns out that “Simone” is a decent record, but it was evidently never released as a single here in the U.S. [Actually, Discogs’ information is incomplete, which is not surprising: “Simone” was released twice as a single in the U.S., according to our pal Yah Shure – see his note below – but it failed to chart either time.] )

Still unsure if the duo’s first album, the self-titled 1971 effort, had been released here in the U.S., I headed to another of my favorite discography joints, Both Sides Now. The listings there in the A&M section showed England Dan & John Ford Coley with the catalog number of SP 4305, tucked between the Strawbs’ From The Witchwood and a live album by Free. There was, however, an asterisk next to the catalog number, and that lead to a comment that noted that the folks at BSN had never verified the running order of the tracks, so the track titles were listed alphabetically.

That tells me that they’ve never seen the record (or gotten a note from someone who had the correct track order and cared enough to send it in). And I began to wonder if perhaps A&M had assigned the catalog number and had perhaps sent out some promo copies but never officially released the LP. So I began to look for used copies for sale, and at Ebay, it took me five minutes to find two promo copies of SP 4305. But that’s all I found, so I still don’t know if there was a regular U.S. release of the album. I doubt I’ll buy either of the promo LPs. But I may scavenge around to see if I can get hold of the single “New Jersey.” Despite an opening seemingly lifted – with some minor modifications to tempo and rhythm – from Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends,” the ED & JFC single is, to my ears, pretty good. I think I would have liked it if I’d heard it. Maybe I should have listened to KDWB more often back then.

Saturday Single No. 396

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

It’s time to dig into some surveys this morning. Odd, Pop and I are going to rummage through the files at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, checking out surveys from June 7. What year? Well, instead of looking at several surveys from around the U.S. from the same year, we’re going to look at five surveys from different stations from June 7 on five consecutive years. Confusing? Well, it was Odd’s idea, so it’s kind of baffling to me, too.

Anyway, we’re going to play with the numbers as we often do here, taking today’s day – 6/7 – and turning that into 13. Then we’ll add that to 14 (as in 2014) for 27. And that leads us to check out the No. 13 and No. 27 records on the surveys, and, as we generally do, we’ll see what record was No. 1 in our various surveys along the way.

We’ll start in 1971 on familiar turf, taking a look at the “Big 6+30” from KDWB in the Twin Cities here in Minnesota. Sitting at No. 13 that week was Lobo’s “Me And You And A Dog Named Boo,” and parked at No. 27 was “I Love You For All Seasons” by the Fuzz. I remember the Lobo single, but not all that fondly, and I do not remember the Fuzz single from that time at all, though I’ve heard it several times during the years that I’ve been writing this blog. Topping the “Big 6+30” during the first week of June 1971 was the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar.”

We’ll jump ahead a year and check in on the “Superhit Survey” from June 7 at Nashville’s WMAK. The No. 13 record that week in 1972 was “Layla” by Derek & The Dominos, during its second release on Atco, and the No. 27 record was the quirky one-hit wonder “How Do You Do?” by the Dutch duo of Mouth & MacNeal. Back in my newspapering days, I wrote a column detailing my favorite records, and “Layla” topped that list. It’s not quite that high these days, but it hasn’t fallen far. As to “How Do You Do,” well, no. Sitting atop the “Superhit Survey” at WMAK that week was Gallery’s “Nice To Be With You.”

We’ll look at the first week of June 1973 from the vantage point of the “Hit 30” at KFIV in Modesto, California. Taking up the No. 13 slot was Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round In Circles,” and sitting at No. 27 is the Carpenter’s “Yesterday Once More.” The Preston record might be the only song I’ve heard live by its original artist three times: When Preston played St. Cloud State in the spring of 1973, when he played a brief opening set for the Rolling Stones in Århus, Denmark, in October 1973, and when he was a member of Ringo’s original All-Starr Band during the summer of 1989. As to the Carpenters, I find myself admiring more and more as the years pass the late Karen Carpenter’s voice and Richard Carpenter’s production work, and if “Yesterday Once More” isn’t one of their best records, it’s still pretty good (and sitting here playing it in my head, I can hear every “shing-a-ling”). Getting back to KFIV, the No. 1 record during the first week of June 1973 was Elton John’s “Daniel.”

A year later on the other side of the country, we take a look at the “Big D Sound Survey” from WDRC in Hartford, Connecticut. The No. 13 record in Hartford during the first week of June 1974 was Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ’Bout A Thing,” and sitting at No. 27 was “I’m The Leader Of The Gang” by Brownsville Station. I tend to forget about “Don’t You Worry . . .” although I groove on it whenever it pops up in random. I don’t forget the Brownsville Station single because I don’t remember it at all. From what I see at ARSA and in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, it didn’t have a huge footprint, so I’m not alarmed that it doesn’t have a place in my memory. The top spot on the June 7, 1974, “Big D Sound Survey” was occupied by Ray Stevens’ “The Streak.”

We’ll close our survey scanning this morning with a look at the imaginatively named “South Florida Weekly Music Survey” from Miami’s WQAM. Parked at No. 13 during the first week of June 1975 was “Long Tall Glasses” by Leo Sayer, and sitting at No. 27 was Paul Anka’s “I Don’t Like To Sleep Alone.” Sadly, I remember both of those. The No. 1 record on the “South Florida Weekly Music Survey” thirty-nine years ago today was Gwen McCrae’s “Rockin’ Chair.”

The best thing here is “Layla,” but given the record’s omnipresence, what’s the point? I’m tempted by the Stevie Wonder record and the Carpenter’s record, but there’s something else going on here this morning. When I do these survey posts, I list the No. 1 records as a sidelight, not as records under consideration as the post’s feature. But today, I’m going to break that informal rule. In something like 1,500 posts, I’ve mentioned Gwen McCrae and her No. 9 hit just once, and I’ve never featured the record, which I loved back in 1975. So here’s Gwen McCrae’s “Rockin’ Chair,” today’s Saturday Single.

Survey Digging: April 29, 1961

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

It’s a rainy day – the third such in a row here in St. Cloud – and there are rumors of snow in the weather forecast. That’s not likely to make me any more enthusiastic about the day. But instead of spending the first portions of the morning moping – there will be time for that type of indulgence later in the day, if I wish – I thought I’d take a look at a long-ago radio station survey from an April 29.

I had no specific station in mind when I searched at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, so I was pleasantly surprised when the first page of listings offered surveys from April 29, 1961, from both WDGY and KDWB in the Twin Cities. I went with KDWB and its Fabulous Forty. Here’s the station’s Top Ten from fifty-three years ago today:

“Running Scared” by Roy Orbison
“Bumble Boogie” by B. Bumble & The Stingers
“Runaway” by Del Shannon
“Blue Moon” by the Marcels
“Hello Mary Lou” by Ricky Nelson
“I’ve Told Every Little Star” by Linda Scott
“Just Call Me Lonesome” by Eddy Arnold
“Mother-In-Law” by Ernie K-Doe
“Trust In Me” by Etta James
“On The Rebound” by Floyd Cramer

Well, that looks like your average schizophrenic mix from the early 1960s: A little bit of what I would now call country-tinged pop rock, a doo-wop classic, some sweet pop and country, a New Orleans novelty, once very nice R&B ballad and a Nashville-tinged instrumental. Then there’s “Bumble Boogie” by B. Bumble & The Stingers, a group of Los Angeles session men who took Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight Of The Bumblebee” and turned it into a boogie-woogie session that went to No. 27 in the Billboard Hot 100.

Familiar names stud the rest of the KDWB survey, for the most part: Elvis Presley, Steve Lawrence, Arthur Lyman, Brenda Lee, Ferrante & Teicher, Ray Charles, Marty Robbins and the Everly Brothers are the ones that pop out at me. Finding all those folks on the same survey is one more indication of how broad a swath Top 40 cut in those days.

There were a few unfamiliar names in the station’s survey. The Cajun duo named Rusty & Doug and their take on “Louisiana Man” baffled me for a few moments until I realized they were the Kershaw brothers. Their version of Doug’s “Louisiana Man” – which Second Hand Songs says is the first version recorded – is actually pretty good, and it did well on the country chart, reaching No. 10; it bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 104. It eventually reached No. 2 on KDWB, which seems like an anomaly: Of the Top 40 stations whose charts are available at ARSA, the only place where the Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man” did any better was at stations in Houston and San Antonio.

The variety of records listed in that survey from April 29, 1961, makes for some interesting juxtapositions: Adam Wade’s lush “Take Good Care Of Her” at No. 26, just below guitarist Al Caoila’s take on the theme from the TV show Bonanza is one. Another comes at the bottom of the survey, where Presley’s “Surrender” sits at No. 39 and the No. 40 record is Lawrence Welk’s version of the theme from the TV show My Three Sons. It peaked at No. 55 in Billboard.

‘Life’s A Circle After All . . .’

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

I suppose that if I’d been a bigger fan of Pure Prairie League, I’d have heard of Mike Reilly before this morning, but I’ve never paid all that much attention to PPL, at least not enough attention to know the names of the band’s members.

Reilly came to the band in 1972, says Wikipedia, just after the band has finished recording its second album, Bustin’ Out, and he’s been with the band – mostly a touring group now, with only two albums released since 1981 – ever since, with a two-year break from 2006 to 2008 for a liver transplant.

But it’s not Reilly’s membership in Pure Prairie League that brought him to my attention this morning. It was, rather, a 1971 single that caught my eye. Forty-three years ago today – on April 3, 1971 – Reilly’s single, “1927 Kansas City” was in its fourth week in the Billboard Hot 100, sitting at No. 94. It would last another couple of weeks and peak at No. 88.

Until this morning, the record – like Reilly, who wrote the song – had escaped my attention. So had the only covers of the tune I’ve seen mentioned: one by David Soul on his 1976 self-titled debut album and two live versions from the 1990s by Glenn Yarbrough. It turns out that Soul’s 1976 album has been in my stacks since December 1987, and that means I played it once, but his cover of “1927 Kansas City” clearly didn’t impress me.

I’m not sure that I would have given much attention to Reilly’s original had I heard it on my radio in 1971. I almost certainly didn’t hear it. The record didn’t show up in the 1971 surveys from the Twin Cities collected at Oldiesloon (which has every KDWB survey from 1971 and most of those from rival WDGY).

And Reilly’s record seemingly made few surveys anywhere; the data available at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive show only seven stations that listed the record on their surveys: It was listed as either as a pick hit or in the low rankings at stations in New Orleans; Omaha; Indianapolis; Jefferson City, Missouri; and Midland, Texas, but there are no surveys available from those stations for the previous or the following weeks, so we can really draw no conclusions from that. It was listed for at least two weeks and ranked as high as No. 17 at WFAA in Dallas; it was gone the following week. The only complete survey data for the single at ARSA comes from WHB in – where else? – Kansas City, where the record got to No. 23 in an eight-week run.

Is “1927 Kansas City” one of the great lost singles? Probably not. But I found it charming this morning, with a tale and theme that likely would not have mattered to me in 1971 but that speak loudly to me now. (The quality of the audio I found at YouTube is not the best, but I still thought the record worth a listen.)

As friend and regular reader Yah Shure noted below, the audio in the YouTube video I originally posted – the only video of the record that was available – was abysmal. I asked if he had a copy of the record in digital form. He did not, but he was kind enough to spend more time than I would have anticipated digitizing a promo copy of Mike Reilly’s “1927 Kansas City.” And the result is almost a different record, one that I’ve posted below to replace the awful version originally put here. Odd and Pop and I thank you, Yah Shure!

Saturday Single No. 386

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Today’s a good day to poke into a radio station survey from the Airheads Radio Survey Archive in search of a good single. Obviously, we’ll look at a March 29 survey, and we’ll do 1969 just because I want to.

That leads us neatly to a survey from WDGY in the Twin Cities. As I’ve no doubt related before, in St. Cloud in those days we listened to the Twin Cities’ KDWB because WDGY didn’t come in well, if at all (because of its signal strength or direction or both). The only time Rick and I and our pals ever heard WDGY was when we went to the State Fair and might spend a few minutes listening to the music on the speakers outside the station’s fair booth.

Much of the music, of course, was the same as what was on KDWB (and much of it was also played in the evenings on St. Cloud’s WJON just across the railroad tracks), but it still felt odd to have it underlined at the State Fair that that kids in the Twin Cities had more choices than we did up in the Cloud.

So what was it that the Cities kids were listening to on WDGY this week forty-five years ago? The top ten in the station’s “30 Star Survey” were:

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

Only one of those Top Ten records seems to be much out of line with how they rated nationally. The Bubble Puppy record, which eventually went to No. 5 on WDGY, peaked at No. 14 in Billboard. And there are a couple records a little lower down that did better on WDGY than they did in the Hot 100 (although more of the records listed could certainly have done so in the weeks to come):

Brenda Lee’s “Johnny One Time” was at No. 14 on WDGY (and eventually went to No. 12) but peaked at No. 41 in Billboard, and “May I” by Bill Deal & The Rhondels was at No. 29 on WDGY (eventually rising to No. 15) but peaked at No. 39 in the Hot 100.

(All three of the over-performing records from this particular WDGY survey also had a higher profile at the Twin Cities’ KDWB than they did in the Hot 100: According to what I see at the Oldiesloon, “May I” and “Hot Smoke & Sasafrass” peaked at No. 9 on KDWB, and “Johnny One Time” peaked at No. 15.)

And at No. 22 in the WDGY survey, I came across a record I’d never heard before, and that makes selecting a single for this morning very easy. I know, of course, the Box Tops’ No. 1 version of “The Letter” from 1967, and I know the No. 7 version by Joe Cocker with Leon Russell from 1970, but until this morning, I’d not heard the somewhat softer and (in its later portions) rather trippy version of the record by the Arbors, which went to No. 20 in the Hot 100. I featured the group’s “Symphony For Susan” not quite four years ago, but this morning, the quartet’s cover of “The Letter” is today’s Saturday Single.

*The WDGY survey misspelled “sassafras,” but then, so did Bubble Puppy, which spelled the word “sasafrass” in the song’s title.

**There was no performer listed for “Only the Strong Survive” on the WDGY survey, but I think one can safely assume it was the Jerry Butler record.