Archive for the ‘1969’ Category

Saturday Single No. 662

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

All right, it’s time for some Games With Numbers. We’re going to take today’s date – 10-12-19 – and turn that into 41, and then we’re going to check out the records at No. 41 on few Billboard Hot 100s from this week over the years to find a tune to feature this morning. Since we’re fifty years out from 1969 – a year favored greatly here – we’ll head to October of that year and then move five years away in both directions for a couple of other years as targets: 1964 and 1974.

As we generally do when we play these games, we’ll check out the No. 1 and No. 2 records from those weeks along the way.

We’ll start in 1964. The record sitting at No. 41 in a chart released fifty-five years ago this week was “I Like It,” the fourth charting record for the Merseyside group of Gerry & The Pacemakers.

Two of the group’s singles had reached the Billboard Top Ten earlier in the year: “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” had gone to No. 4 during the first weeks of summer, and “How Do You Do It” had reached No. 9 during the first week of September. Oddly, the same week that “How Do You Do It” (b/w “You’ll Never Walk Alone”) entered the Hot 100, so did the group’s “I’m The One,” which had “How Do You Do It” as its B-side.

That seems strange, and I’ll need someone wiser than I in the ways of record companies to explain. In any case, “I’m The One” stiffed at No. 82, leaving “I Like It” as the follow-up to that odd set of releases. Actually a re-release of a 1963 single that did not chart, “I Like It” went to No. 17.

It’s an okay record, but then, the only thing I ever loved by Gerry & The Pacemakers was “Ferry Cross The Mersey,” which I heard a fair amount at home in early 1965 because my sister bought the record. So “I Like It” seems a little pale to me.

Sitting at No. 1 and No. 2 in the Hot 100 released October 10, 1964 were, respectively, “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann.

Five years later, the record at No. 41 was one that I’ve written about before: “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” by Joe South. In a meditation on how music reflects the desire to return to a better time and/or place, I wrote:

Joe South’s 1969 lament, “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home,” mourned the changes brought to his home place – and by extension, the entire south – by the so-called progress of that decade, which replaced orchards with offices and meadows with malls (and the orchards and meadows continue to disappear to this day, of course, not just in the south but all across the country).

The era during which Joe South sang – those volatile years from, say, 1965 to 1975 – was one of displacement for a lot of folks. Many of those who were displaced, of course, had not one bit of use for rock or soul or any of their relatives; they instead found their solace in gospel music or in the country stylings of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and their contemporaries. But the sense of longing wasn’t limited by genre. It’s not an accident that one of the better singles of the Beatles, the best group of the time – or any time, for that matter – told us all to get back to where we once belonged. We all wanted to go home.

Oddly enough, for a record of such subtle power during a time of confusing change, “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” did not make the Top 40. It peaked right where it sat fifty years ago yesterday, at No. 41.

Parked at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, during that week were “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies and “Jean” by Oliver.

Five years after that, at October 1974 hit the one-third point, the record at No. 41 was a profession of faith and a prayer for endurance that crossed over from the country chart and provided its singer with her only pop hit. Marilyn Sellars (who turns out to have been born in the college town of Northfield, Minnesota) put a couple of records into the Country Top 40 in the mid-1970s.

The one we’re concerned with today is “One Day At A Time,” which, forty-five years ago today, was a week past its pop peak at No. 37. Written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson, “One Day At A Time” peaked on the country chart at No. 19. For the record, Sellars’ other country hit, a plaint of lost love titled “He’s Everywhere,” went to No. 39 in early 1975.

Sitting at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, during this week in 1974 were “I Honestly Love You” by Olivia Newton-John and “Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston.

So, given those three to consider, there’s not much question about which direction we’ll go this morning. Almost by default, Joe South’s “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 660

Saturday, September 28th, 2019

Rummaging about in the archives this morning, I came across this piece from December 2007. It’s a meditation on words that I thought I’d resurrect – edited slightly – this Saturday morning:

I remember reading a piece – likely in the newspaper – about a linguistics professor who had taken it upon himself to determine the most beautiful word in the English language. I don’t recall when I read that, nor do I remember which university was involved, but I do recall that the professor concluded that the most beautiful word in the language was “cellar door.

First of all, that’s two words. (It could be that the professor was considering sets of words.) Second, although the two words together do have a nice sound, words are more than sounds. Maybe as a linguist, one can separate the sound of the word from the meaning of the word, but as a writer, I can’t. And “cellar door” isn’t going to make the cut.

So what are the most beautiful words in the language? After all, if I’m going to quibble about someone else’s judgment, I’d better have some idea of my own, right? Well, I don’t have a Top Ten list, but I do have a couple of words. I think “home” and “tomorrow” top the ranks of English words.

Home, as poet Robert Frost noted, is our last refuge: the place where, when you go there, they have to let you in. We all need such a place. In fact, I don’t think it’s at all far-fetched to say that, whatever else we do with our lives, our main business here is seeking and creating a better refuge, a better place, a better home. In terms of pure sound, it’s a rather plain word, but its meaning makes “home” the sound of belonging somewhere. When we don’t have that, we ache, and when we find it, we are healed. How much better can one word be?

“Tomorrow” comes close. For someone as attuned to the past and as intrigued by memoir and memory as I am, it’s odd in a way that I didn’t select “yesterday” as one of my top two words. But as much as any of us might ponder yesterday and its lessons, we know all about it. And “tomorrow” brings the promise that things can change, that we can use yesterday’s lessons to make things better as they come to us.

Thinking about tomorrow is an act of optimism, it seems, maybe even an act of courage, even if all one is doing is putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

To accompany that, I sorted the 70,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer and looked for those with “tomorrow” in their titles. And a tune from my old favorites Brewer & Shipley caught my ear. “Too Soon Tomorrow” is more plaintive than hopeful, perhaps, but I think it still fits here today. It’s from the duo’s 1969 album, Weeds, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 50, Fifty Years Ago (September 1969)

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Around here, we like our game of Symmetry. It gives us an excuse to dig into old Billboard charts and listen to old records (as if we ever lack for reasons to do either of those things anyway). So we’re going to lean on the idea again today, heading back to mid-September of 1969, fifty years ago.

It was the beginning of my junior year of high school, right around the time I got my first Beatles album in almost five years (Abbey Road, on a cassette my sister brought home from the mall), right around the time I began standing on the sidelines of the football field as a manager for the St. Cloud Tech Tigers, and right around the time I first noticed the new violinist in the high school orchestra (whose tale I told long ago).

The RCA radio newly installed in my bedroom was tuned during the early evening to WJON across the tracks and to Chicago’s WLS when I went to bed. And as I listened, I began to learn about music – and things about that music – that my peers had known for, oh, at least five years.

As always, we’ll stop first at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Here was the Top Ten as of September 20, 1969:

“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones
“Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash
“Easy To Be Hard” by Three Dog Night
“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” by Tom Jones
“Get Together” by the Youngbloods
“Jean” by Oliver
“Little Woman” by Bobby Sherman
“I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations

Now, that’s forty minutes or so of radio bliss. The only one of those that doesn’t immediate play clearly in the radio of my head is the Tom Jones single, a re-release – as we discussed a little more than a month ago – of a 1967 single. The other nine make up a solid vein of AM gold for me.

And I am not at all surprised to find all nine of those records among the 3,900-some on the iPod and thus a part of my current playlist. I talk often about times that were formative for me; given my passion for music, those first months of Top 40 listening fifty years ago were just that.

But let’s go find our target for today, the single parked at No. 50 on the Hot 100 fifty years ago this week. And we come across a record by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles originally released as a B-side: “Here I Go Again.” It would peak at No. 37.

It’s a dreamy tune, perfect for a slow dance. And Smokey’s lyrics, well, as he did so many times, he knew exactly what so many of us were feeling in those days:

Saw you there and your laughter seemed to fill the air
A scent like perfume from your lovely hair
I said that I do adore

My heart said to me, don’t walk head on into misery
Hey, with your eyes wide open can’t you see?
A hurt’s in store just like before

Oh ho ho, but here I go again walking into love
Here I go again never thinking of
The danger that might exist
Disregarding all of this just for you

I ignore the detour sign
I won’t stop until you’re mine
I’m past the point of no return

Girl, you walk by and I said to me, myself and I
Now we’ve got to give it one more try
I know somehow the time is now, right now

Oh whoa, here I go again walking into love
Here I go again walking into love

Here I go, here I go
Here I go, here I go again

It’s probably just as well that I never heard the record fifty years ago.

What’s At No. 100? (August 1969)

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

It was in August 1969, as I’ve noted before, that I went down to the basement one evening and adopted my grandfather’s old RCA radio, which had been sitting on a shelf near my dad’s workbench, mostly unused, for some time. (As I think about it this morning, the radio might not actually have been that old: I vaguely recall that Grandpa had won it in a contest or something and didn’t need it, so he gave it to us, and it went on the shelf in the basement, obviously waiting for me to need it.)

I was just becoming interested in pop/rock radio in August 1969, so I asked if I could bring the brown and white radio up to my room. Dad had another radio by his workbench (always tuned to the country sounds of WVAL in nearby Sauk Rapids), so the RCA became mine.

So, as August 2019 nears its end, I thought we’d play What’s At No. 100, taking a look at the Billboard Hot 100 from the last week of August fifty years ago. But since we looked a 1969 Top Ten the other week when considering Woodstock Weekend, we’ll do things a bit differently this time. We’ll look at the records at No. 10, No. 20, and so on until we get to No. 100. Most of the records we chance on, I assume, will be familiar; some may not. (The number in parentheses at the end of each entry is its peak in the Hot 100.)

No. 10: “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James & The Shondells (No. 2)
No. 20: “Workin’ On a Groovy Thing”: by the 5th Dimension (No. 20)
No. 30: “I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations (No. 1)
No. 40: “It’s Getting Better” by Mama Cass (No. 30)
No. 50: “Simple Song Of Freedom: by Tim Hardin (No. 50)
No. 60: “Lowdown Popcorn” by James Brown (No. 41)
No. 70: “Ease Back” by the Meters (No. 61)
No. 80: “You, I” by the Rugbys (No. 24)
No. 90: “I Want You To Know” by the New Colony Six (No. 65)

The first four of those are familiar, of course, with the 5th Dimension single being more familiar back then from my having the album than from radio play. I noted the other week that I had to go to YouTube to refresh my memory of the Mama Cass single.

The lower five of that list, though, are fuzzy shading to blank. I doubt that I’ve ever heard the Tim Hardin single until today, although I’ve heard covers of the tune by Bob Darin and by the Voices Of East Harlem. I’ve also likely never heard “Lowdown Popcorn” or “Ease Back” until today, which is a result of my digital shelves having not nearly music from James Brown or the Meters. Too much music, too little time.

The Rugbys’ fuzz-charged single is vaguely familiar only because I came upon it not quite ten years ago when I dug into a WDGY survey from September 1969, and “I Want You To Know” is, again, only vaguely familiar.

So that didn’t go so well. But what’s at the bottom of the chart, right at No. 100? Well, we find a piece of funky blues from B.B. King, “Get Off My Back Woman.” That one is on the digital shelves here although I’m not at all certain where I found it. And it was received by listeners about the way most of his singles were received: It peaked at No. 74 on the Hot 100 and went to No. 32 – a little lower than I would have guessed – on the magazine’s R&B chart. (In just a few months, though, King would release the biggest hit of his career, “The Thrill Is Gone,” which went to No. 15 on the Hot 100.)

Chart success or not, “Get Off My Back Woman” is exactly what you want a B.B. King record to be: funky, melodic and plaintive.

Saturday Single No. 654

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

So, Woodstock. Fifty years ago. What was I doing?

Well, on at least one of those days, I mowed the lawn. I’m guessing it was Friday or Saturday. I know that I’d seen on the news the evening before a story about the massive traffic jam caused by hippies invading a small town in upstate New York as they headed to a music festival.

I recall thinking about the story as I pushed our orange power mower back and forth across the lawn on the south side of the house. I also seem to recall having one of our transistor radios in my pocket, using an earphone to drown out the roar of the mower. (Actually, probably both of our transistor radios were in use, one in each front pocket, as one radio alone would not insulate me from the mower’s roar.)

And I recall vaguely thinking it would be nice to be in upstate New York among the invading hippies, but then, I would rather have been a lot of places that morning besides mowing the lawn.

Of course, the folks heading to the Woodstock festival weren’t all hippies. Some were, but most, I’d guess, were just college kids out for a weekend of music in the country. But we simplify things, and the news report I’d seen the night before, well, it blamed the traffic jam and resultant gridlock and confusion on the hippies (again, if I recall things correctly).

So what was I listening to that morning? Likely the Twin Cities’ KDWB, but since we took a look at a KDWB survey a little over a week ago, I see no point in going there. Instead, I stopped this morning at Airheads Radio Survey Archive and dug up a survey from fifty years ago from New York’s WABC. I figure that as the invaders in their cars and VW microbuses headed for Bethel, New York, most of them came through the New York City area. And most would have had the radio on, many of them tuned to WABC.

Here’s the top ten from WABC’s unnamed survey from August 16, 1969, fifty years ago yesterday:

“Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James & The Shondells
“Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones
“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
“In The Year 2525” by Zager & Evans
“My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder
“Baby I Love You” by Andy Kim
“A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash
“Put A Little Love In Your Heart” by Jackie DeShannon
“What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” by Junior Walker & The All Stars
“My Pledge Of Love” by the Joe Jeffrey Group

That’s a decent forty minutes of listening. Many will complain that it’s ruined by the Zager & Evans single, but I’ve always liked it.

Normally, I’d dive to the bottom of the survey and look at the stuff there. But the information at ARSA about WABC’s Woodstock weekend survey is incomplete; the lower stuff isn’t all there. So we’re going to listen to WABC’s No. 1 record, “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” No doubt the invading hippies heard it plenty as they made their ways as close as they could to Bethel.

And in more than twelve years, it seems it’s never been featured here. So here’s Tommy James & The Shondells’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.

One Survey Dig

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

I have a physical therapy appointment this morning – I’m working on getting the muscles in my back into better shape following my surgery – so I’m here only briefly. But I do have time to dip into a 1969 survey from the Twin Cities’ station KDWB to see what we can find.

We’ll play Games With Numbers and take today’s date – 8/7/19 – and turn it into 34, and see what we find at No. 34 of the station’s 6+30 survey released during the second week of August in 1969. As we normally do, we’ll take a look at the top few records in the survey before dropping to its lower levels.

The top five records at KDWB that week were:

“Pain” by the Mystics
“Baby I Love You” by Andy Kim
“Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones
“It’s Getting Better” by Mama Cass
“My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder

Four-fifths of that group makes a great set of listening. “Pain,” of course, is one of my all-time favorite records, partly because of the recording itself, which I loved as a junior in high school, and partly because I went years without hearing it until I found a copy of it at a record show in the 1990s, and then went a few more years beyond that before finding my own copy of it in an antique shop in the small town of Royalton, Minnesota. (I’ve told the story of the record and of my find in posts gathered here and here.)

As to the other four of KDWB’s top five that week, I like three. The Mama Cass single, well, from a brief listen this morning, I know it and remember hearing it, but I am not all that fond of it. It’s worth noting that for whatever reason, it was favored much more in the Twin Cities than it was nationally, where it peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Baby I Love You” might be a better memory than a record, but Kim’s cover of the Ronettes’ 1963 hit – kind of a sub-Spector production from Jeff Barry (one of the writers of song with Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector) – was decent listening. Not as good as the Ronettes’ version when I finally got there, but it did sound good coming out of the speakers.

And there’s not much to say about “Honky Tonk Women” or “My Cherie Amour” except that they’re great records.

So what lies below? What do we find at KDWB’s No. 34 fifty years ago?

Well, we stumble for the third time in less than a month into Tom Jones, this time with “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.” The record was new to the survey; it would peak at No. 13 in early October. (Data from both Oldiesloon and the Airheads Radio Survey Archive.)

This was the record’s second release. It had gone out in 1967 and stalled at No. 49 on the Hot 100. The 1969 re-release did much better, going to No. 6 (and to No. 1 for one week on the Billboard Easy Listening chart).

It’s a decent record, and I’m a little surprised that it didn’t dent the Country Top 40. I don’t recall hearing it, but it’s a pleasant listen on a Wednesday morning fifty years later.

‘Truck Stop’

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

So, still hanging around in July 1969, here’s the top ten albums from the Billboard 200 from fifty years ago this week:

Blood, Sweat & Tears
Hair, original cast recording
Romeo & Juliet soundtrack
This Is Tom Jones
The Age Of Aquarius by the 5th Dimension
A Warm Shade Of Ivory by Henry Mancini
Tommy by the Who
Crosby, Stills & Nash
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly
Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan

It’s entirely possible I had a copy of the No. 1 album in the house at the time. I had recently acquired my cassette tape recorder, and soon after I did, my sister came home from her waitressing shift at the mall with a gift for me: a cassette of Blood, Sweat & Tears. It had been on sale somewhere at the mall, and knowing I had no music for my new machine, she stepped up.

It’s an interesting ten, and music from four of them – the BST, the 5th Dimension, the Dylan and the CS&N – still show up on the iPod regularly. Eight of those albums would find their ways into the LP stacks over the years, everything except the Iron Butterfly and Tom Jones albums.

Which did I enjoy the most? Probably either the BST or the CS&N. The least? Most likely Tommy, which I got for my birthday in 1988 and played no more than two or three times until I sold it not quite thirty years later. (In fact, I have only two tracks from the album on the wide-ranging digital shelves, the overture and – for some reason – “Hawker.” I suppose I should get “Pinball Wizard” in there, some day.)

But anyway, let’s drop further down that fifty-year-old chart and take a look at the albums at Nos. 40, 80, 120, 160 and 200.

Parked at No. 40, we find another Tom Jones album, Help Yourself, on its way down the chart after peaking at No. 5. It was his first Top Ten album; he’d have three more in the next year or so, but it contained only one hit single, the title track, which had gone to No. 35 in October 1968. Jones’ larger hit during the late summer of ’69 was a re-release of “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” which had stalled at No. 49 in 1967 but entered the Hot 100 in this last week of July 1969 and went to No. 6.

We find another album on its way down the chart at No. 80: Cream’s Goodbye, which had peaked at No. 2. The last studio album for the bluesy and improvisational rock trio, Goodbye featured the perennial “I’m So Glad,” a live cover of the Mississippi Sheiks’ 1930 recording “Sitting On Top Of The World,” and “Badge,” a minor hit (No. 60 on the Hot 100) co-written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison (although Wikipedia notes that Harrison credits an inebriated Ringo Starr with the line about the swans living in the park).

Having never done this kind of digging into the Billboard 200 before, I’m not sure how obscure an album one might find at No. 120 or lower. For the moment, we’re not worried, as the No. 120 album fifty years ago this week was Crimson & Clover by Tommy James & The Shondells. Home to the group’s last two hits – “Sweet Cherry Wine” went to No. 7 and the album’s title track was No. 2 for two weeks – the album was heading out of the chart after peaking at No. 8. It was the only Top Ten album in the group’s history.

We chance on a favorite album of mine when we get to No. 160, where we find King Curtis’ Instant Groove. It showed up in my collection in 2008, when I bought the vinyl version online because it included Curtis’ version of “The Weight” and because Duane Allman was among its studio musicians. The LP was in decent shape, but a few years later, I added the CD version of the album to my stacks. Back in 1969, the album would go no higher than No. 160. Only two of the eight King Curtis albums that Joel Whitburn lists in Top Pop Albums did better: 1964’s Soul Serenade went to No. 103, and the 1971 album Live At Fillmore West went to No. 54.

And speaking of No. 200, the bottom record in the chart at the end of July 1969 was Truck Stop by Jerry Smith & His Pianos. The record by the Philadelphia-born pianist and songwriter – Whitburn calls him “a prolific session musician” – stalled at No. 200 for two weeks and then fell out of the chart. Two singles from the album showed up in Top Pop Singles: “Truck Stop” went to No. 71 and “Drivin’ Home” bubbled under at No. 125. Whitburn notes that Smith also recorded as Papa Joe’s Music Box; as Cornbread & Jerry, he wrote and sang on the Dixiebelles’ No. 9 hit in 1963, “(Down At) Papa Joe’s.” He also recorded as The Magic Organ, and Street Fair, his 1972 album under that name, went to No. 135 on the Billboard 200.

I was leaning toward posting “Badge” for our listening this morning, especially since I discovered that I’ve not mentioned the track even once during more than twelve years of blogging. But I’m fascinated by the weirdness of our final entry and by the multiple guises under which Jerry Smith recorded. And how often do I get a chance to post honky-tonk piano, anyway? So here’s “Truck Stop” by Jerry Smith & His Pianos, a No. 71 single from the No. 200 album fifty years ago this week.

‘Up To Abergavenny . . .’

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

We may as well hang around in 1969 for a while, so here’s the top ten from the Billboard Easy Listening chart fifty years ago this week:

“Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet” by Henry Mancini
“Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder
“Good Morning Starshine” by Oliver
“Quentin’s Theme” by the Charles Randolph Grean Sound
“Love Me Tonight” by Tom Jones
“Yesterday When I Was Young” by Roy Clark
“Hurt So Bad” by the Lettermen
“With Pen In Hand” by Vicki Carr
“In The Ghetto” by Elvis Presley
“The Days Of Sand & Shovels” by Bobby Vinton

Lots of familiar stuff there. In fact, only two of the records listed there are unfamiliar by title: The Tom Jones and the Bobby Vinton. So, off to YouTube. I vaguely recall the Tom Jones record (noting that it sounds like a lot of his other stuff), and hearing the Vinton record, I recall writing about it about a year ago, when I called it “dreadful.” That judgment still holds.

(Seeing the Elvis record in that top ten, I’m reminded of a comment I saw on Facebook this week at a Sixties group I frequent, asserting that Elvis was done by 1965. I replied that the commenter needed to check out Presley’s Memphis recordings from 1969.)

There’s some decent listening in that top ten (with the exception of the Vinton record). Favorites there include the records by Mancini, Oliver, the Lettermen and Presley, and I like the Vicki Carr record, too.

What do we find of interest in the lower portions of the Easy Listening chart from fifty years ago?

At No. 12, we find Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 covering Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.”

At No. 14 sits Zager & Evans’ “In The Year 2525,” heading to a two-week stay at No. 1 (and a six-week stay at No. 1 on the Hot 100).

At No. 20, Booker T & The MG’s cover Simon & Garfunkel with their version of “Mrs. Robinson.”

And for all of my love of 1960s easy listening, there are more records – a lot of them – that don’t sound at all familiar: “Think Summer” by Ed & Marilyn at No. 25. “Forever” by Mercy at No. 28. “First Hymn From Grand Terrace” by Mark Lindsay at No 30. “The Girl I’ll Never Know” by Frankie Valli at No. 32. “Abergavenny” by Shannon at No. 36.

That last entry caught my eye, and I headed to Joel Whitburn’s Top Adult Songs and found something odd. “Abergavenny” is listed in the title index, but there is no listing for a performer named “Shannon” in the book. I ducked into Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles and found a cross-reference from “Shannon” to Marty Wilde, an English singer-songwriter whose birth named was Reginald Smith. He’s listed in Top Adult Songs, too (and both entries note that he’s the father of 1980s singer Kim Wilde).

Abergavenny, it turns out, it a Welsh town six miles from Wales’ border with England. The record is, well, a mixture of pop vocal (with slightly surreal lyrics) about a trip to Abergavenny with some oddly pounding percussion in the background and a brass band instrumental in the middle.

It peaked at No. 22 on the Easy Listening chart and went to No. 47 on the Hot 100.

Back In ’72, Part 2

Friday, July 5th, 2019

Having examined the other day what I was listening to on the radio as the summer of ’72 rolled on, I thought I’d take a look at the LP log and see what new tunes had found their way into the cardboard box in the basement rec room on Kilian Boulevard.

New acquisitions in the past year had been:

Stephen Stills
Jesus Christ Superstar
Abbey Road by the Beatles
Something New by the Beatles
13 by the Doors
Aqualung by Jethro Tull
Meet the Beatles
Naturally by Three Dog Night
The Concert For Bangla Desh
Rubber Soul by the Beatles
Greatest Hits, Vol. II, by Bob Dylan
Portrait of the Young Artist by Mark Turnbull
Joe Cocker!
‘Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out!’ by the Rolling Stones
Early Beatles
Yellow Submarine by the Beatles
Clapton At His Best by Eric Clapton
The Beatles Second Album
A Special Path by Becky Severson

Obviously, I was still pulling together my complete collection of the Beatles original albums (which I would finish by the end of August 1972), and those albums got lots of play in the rec room, especially Abbey Road and Rubber Soul. Others that got frequent play were Stephen Stills, Aqualung, Joe Cocker!, Clapton At His Best, and the albums by Dylan, the Doors and the Rolling Stones. (Some records brought home earlier than the summer of 1971 were also in heavy rotation.)

As I noted the other day, Becky Severson’s album was one I likely played only once until I ripped it into mp3s in 2007. Similarly, the Mark Turnbull album most likely got played only once until I ripped one track about ten years ago. Becky’s album is still here; Turnbull’s is not.

So, which of those albums still speak to me?

Well, Abbey Road for certain; I pop it into the car CD player on occasion and most of it is in the iPod. The four early Beatle albums were the American mishmashes pulled from the British albums and stand-alone single releases, all of which I have on CD in differing configurations, so I don’t listen to the American releases as albums anymore. A good number of the tracks from those CDs are in the iPod, as is one from Yellow Submarine.

Stephen Stills remains one of my favorite albums of all time, likely Top Ten, certainly Top 20, and all ten of its tracks are on the iPod.

What else shows up on the iPod? (That’s as good a measure as any of what music matters to me in my day-to-day life.)

Two tracks from Jesus Christ Superstar. Ten of thirteen from the Doors album (and only two other Doors tracks are on the iPod, underlining my contention that the Doors were a great singles band that made mediocre albums). Five tracks from Joe Cocker! None from Aqualung. Seven tracks from The Concert For Bangla Desh. Pretty much everything from the Clapton and Dylan anthologies, which were two of the most influential album acquisitions of my life. Two from the live Stones album. And one from the Three Dog Night album.

That’s about what I would have guessed, though I’m a little surprised by the absence of anything from Aqualung.

Anyway, here’s a track from those 1972-era acquisitions that popped up on the iPod the other day. It’s been mentioned here a couple of times over the past twelve-plus years but never featured. And it’s pretty damned good. Here’s the Beatles’ “Hey Bulldog,” recorded at Abbey Road in February 1968 and released on Yellow Submarine in 1969.

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.