Archive for the ‘What’s At No. 100?’ Category

No. 46 Forty-Six Years Ago

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

We’re going to fire up the Symmetry machine this morning and jump back to the third week of May in 1974. Why then? Because it was during that week – on May 21, to be precise – that I returned to Minnesota after my college year in Denmark. I don’t think I’ve ever looked to see what was atop the Billboard Hot 100 at the time (And if I have, it was evidently so long ago that another look won’t hurt.)

Here’s the Top Fifteen as of May 18, 1974, three days before our St. Cloud State contingent got onto a Finnair jet in Copenhagen to come home.

“The Streak” by Ray Stevens
“Dancing Machine” by the Jackson 5
“The Entertainer” by Marvin Hamlisch
“The Loco-Motion” by Grand Funk
“The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night
“Bennie & The Jets” by Elton John
“Band On The Run” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Midnight At The Oasis” by Maria Muldaur
“(I’ve Been) Searching So Long” by Chicago
“You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics
“TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” by MFSB feat. The Three Degrees
“I Won’t Last A Day Without You” by the Carpenters
“Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield
“Help Me” by Joni Mitchell
“Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” by the Main Ingredient

Let’s take these five at a time. The top five has three sure station-turners (assuming one would ever hear them on an oldies station while in the car these days): the singles by Stevens, Grand Funk and Three Dog Night. None of Stevens’ work has aged well in this corner of the universe; “The Loco-Motion” shows Grand Funk at its sludgiest and most boring; and “The Show Must Go On” just feels silly, not nearly up to the level of Three Dog Night’s work from the years 1969 to 1971.

That leaves two of those five: “Dancing Machine” and “The Entertainer.” They aren’t gems, but hearing them once in a while is fine.

The next five are a different matter altogether. Any of those can pop into my ear anytime they want, even the Chicago, despite some of the things I’ve said about the band’s mid-Seventies work. My favorite among those would be “Midnight At The Oasis,” which was the fuse for my fascination with Muldaur’s oeuvre: Between vinyl and CD, I have six of her albums; those albums and more make up the more than 200 tracks from Muldaur on the digital shelves.

The bottom five of the list above is not quite as stellar: I don’t mind the Carpenters’ single, but it’s not something I seek out; and I cannot recall the last time I heard the “Tubular Bells” single. I do recall listening to Oldfield’s Tubular Bells album on occasional Sunday mornings in Missouri as I read newspapers from Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago and New York. The album is probably still here – and both sides of the single are likely on the digital shelves – but I don’t really go looking for any of it.

On the other hand, “TSOP,” “Help Me,” and “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” are welcome here any time at all.

So let’s use our usual measuring stick on those fifteen. How many of them are among the 3,900-some tracks on my iPod and thus are among my day-to-day listening? Well none of the top five are there, and four of the second five are, all except the Stylistics’ single. Two of the bottom five – the Mitchell and Main Ingredient tracks – are there, and “TSOP” should be.

So all in all, that’s not a bad Top Fifteen.

And now to our other business. What was at No. 46 forty-six years ago? Well, these things sometimes happen, as we land on a record that I didn’t like then and I still don’t like: John Denver’s “Sunshine On My Shoulders.” The record was on its way back down the chart after peaking at No. 1 at the end of March. At least I wasn’t around when the record was in heavy rotation on the radio. Here it is:

What’s At No. 100? (January 1965)

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

I thought that today we’d venture fifty-five years back and look at the Billboard Hot 100 from the last week of January 1965, checking out the Top Ten and then dropping down to the last spot in the chart.

Here’s the Top Ten:

“Downtown” by Petula Clark
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers
“The Name Game” by Shirley Ellis
“Love Potion Number Nine” by the Searchers
“Hold What You’ve Got” by Joe Tex
“How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” by Marvin Gaye
“This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“Come See About Me” by the Supremes
“Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun)” by Del Shannon
“All Day And All Of The Night” by the Kinks

Well, I was eleven and in sixth grade when these records ruled, and there are only three of those ten that I can say with certainty I remember from the time: “Downtown” was pervasive; whether one liked it or derided it, you knew the hook. “This Diamond Ring” for some reason wended its way into my memory. I still like both of those. And I recall “The Name Game,” which I detest. I suppose I heard “Greg, Greg, Popeg . . .” once too often (though I have no direct memory of the event).

Six of the other seven, I’ve learned about over the years. The one exception, the one record I had to seek out today to see if it were familiar, is “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun).” It turns out to be on the digital shelves, and it’s not an awful record, but it’s not at all familiar, except for the sound of the cheesy organ solo.

So, using as our measuring stick the 3,900-odd tracks in the iPod, do any of those records matter today?

It turns out that four of them do: “Downtown,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “This Diamond Ring,” and “Come See About Me.” And I don’t see that I’d add any of the other six to the device.

But what about our other business here? When we drop to the bottom of the Hot 100 from the last week of January 1965, what do we find?

Well, we find a version of a favorite tune that I did not know about until this morning: “Goldfinger” by Jack La Forge, His Piano & Orchestra. The record was in its first week on the chart, and it would hang around for another four weeks, peaking at No. 96 (and reaching No. 20 on the magazine’s easy listening chart).

It was the only charting record for LaForge, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. His entry at discogs.com lists eighteen singles, most of them on the Regina label. Joel Whitburn tells us in the 2009 edition of Top Pop Singles that LaForge was born in 1924 in Manhattan. Neither Whitburn nor discogs list a death date, and a little bit of digging this morning yielded nothing. The man would be ninety-five today.

It’s a decent easy listening version of the song.

What’s At No. 100? (December 1969)

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

We’re back after a week filled with snow, a holiday and more snow. We probably got eleven or so inches of snow here, though the official count for the city showed less. And the two storms were sandwiched around Thanksgiving; we made our customary trip to Maple Grove, fifty miles away, and celebrated with my sister, her husband and their son.

And all we’re going to accomplish in this corner today is a brief post looking back again at the late autumn of 1969, checking out the Billboard Hot 100 from around this time during that season, looking at the Top Ten and then dropping down to the bottom of the chart.

The Top Ten fifty years ago this week was:

“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Come Together/Something” by the Beatles
“Take A Letter Maria” by R.B. Greaves
“Down On The Corner/Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension
“Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder
“Some Day We’ll Be Together” by the Supremes
“Eli’s Coming” by Three Dog Night

Well, wow. That’s fifty minutes of living in a country long gone but still present. I’ve probably written, sometimes at length, about all twelve of those records singly – certainly about most of them – but seeing them stacked like 45s in sequence leaves me, well, wordless. I remember how I felt back then – the only record from that time that would make this stack more potent would be Lou Christie’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine”* – but trying to put that into words this morning is a task I cannot accomplish.

And that’s a reminder that back then – fifty years ago – a lot of my life ran through music, mostly through the radio but increasingly through LPs and cassettes as well: I had the Beatles’ two singles and the Blood, Sweat & Tears record on tapes and the 5th Dimension single on an LP. I was listening to the same music as my peers, and that was new to me. The autumn of my junior year was, in most ways, a fine time.

And as if I need confirmation that those records mattered to me and still do, every one of those twelve singles has a place among the 3,900 or so tracks in the iPod.

But what of our other business today? What do we find lurking on the lowest rung of the Hot 100 from fifty years ago this week? We find a rarity, a record that spent one week at No. 100 and then went away forever: “Camel Back” by a group called A.B. Skhy. And as it happens, we’ve dabbled in this Hot 100 before, about six years ago. Here’s what I wrote about A.B. Skhy and “Camel Back” then:

In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn notes that the group came from San Francisco, but the notes at the video I found this morning indicate a significant Wisconsin background for the group, and Wikipedia in fact says that the group began in Milwaukee during the late 1960s as New Blues. Once in California and playing as A. B. Skhy, the original lineup – along with a seven-piece horn section, according to William Ruhlmann of All Music Guide – recorded one self-titled album for MGM and released the one single, which was written by the group’s keyboard player, Howard Wales. (After some personnel changes, the group recorded and released a second album in 1970.)

That was six years ago, and that’s long enough for the record to have a second listen here. Here’s “Camel Back” by A.B. Skhy:

*It turns out that Christie’s record had left the Hot 100 after the November 8 chart.

What’s At No. 100? (November 19, 1977)

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

Of all the Billboard pop charts released on November 19 over the years – based on a quick glance this morning (meaning I might have missed something) – none falls into my sweet spot, into the time between the summer of 1969 and the beginning of 1976. The closest are the Hot 100s that were released in 1966 and 1977.

I was thirteen and in eighth grade at the time the first one of those came out and twenty-four, living in the little burg of Sauk Rapids and working for a government agency in St. Cloud at the time of the second. And the data tell me that we’ve dabbled in 1966 eighty-five times since February 2010 and in 1977 only forty-eight times. So we’ll look at the Hot 100 from November 19, 1977, forty-two years ago today, and play our game of “What’s At No. 100?”

First of all, here’s the Top Ten:

“You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone
“Boogie Nights” by Heatwave
“Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” by Crystal Gayle
“It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Beside Me” by Barry White
“Baby, What A Big Surprise” by Chicago
“How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees
“Heaven On The 7th Floor” by Paul Davis
“We’re All Alone” by Rita Coolidge
“Blue Bayou” by Linda Ronstadt
“Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon

Listening this morning, I don’t recall the Barry White record at all, and the only reason I recognize “Boogie Nights” is because I sought out the Heatwave album Too Hot To Handle in the late 1990s when Chazz Nelson – Prince’s cousin – recommended it to me. (Most of Chazz’s tips were on target; that one wasn’t.) The rest of those, I remember well. Too well, in a few cases.

I liked five from that list mid-November 1977, when my radio listening was pretty much limited to drive time to and from work and a little bit of time in the evening puttering in my rented room in Sauk Rapids (unless I joined the other guys in the house in the living room for an evening of television). No doubt, I heard all of them except the White and the Heatwave more often after I moved to Monticello in just a week and spent more time in the car driving from one reporting assignment to another.

Anyway, the five records I liked were those by Crystal Gayle, the Bee Gees, Rita Coolidge, Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon. The Paul Davis and Chicago records I can take or leave these days, and I heard “You Light Up My Life” often enough back then to never need to hear it again. (It shows up on the digital shelves only as a cover by Ferrante & Teicher.)

How many of those records matter today? Well, of the five I liked back in the late 1970s, four show up in my current listening on the iPod. The one that’s missing is Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better.” I think it will stay that way.

So let’s look at our other business today and check out the record at No. 100 in that Hot 100 from forty-two years ago today. Well, it’s a record I’ve almost certainly never heard from a group that’s only been mentioned twice here in the more than twelve years I’ve been throwing stuff at the walls: “Georgia Rhythm” by the Atlanta Rhythm Section.

ARS was, of course, a group that evolved from a cluster of Georgia studio musicians. Their biggest hits were “So Into You” (No. 7 in 1977) and “Imaginary Lover” (No. 7 in 1978). Three of their albums came home with me during my vinyl madness period in 1999 and 2000, but the only thing that’s ever made its way to the digital shelves is the 1974 single “Angel.” I’m not at all sure how it got there.

So here’s “Georgia Rhythm.” It’s not bad, kind of reminds me of a smoother Larry Jon Wilson, which I guess makes some sense. It didn’t do well on the chart, peaking at No. 68.

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.

What’s At No. 100? (June 1974)

Friday, June 21st, 2019

So we’re going to look today at the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 that came out as June 1974 hit the three-quarter mark and see what there is to listen to. But first, as we do with these exercises, we’re going to look at the Top Ten from that time and see if any of those records still have a shelf life around here.

Here’s the Top Ten from the Hot 100 released June 22, 1974, forty-five years ago tomorrow:

“Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” by Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods
“You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics
“Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot
“The Streak” by Ray Stevens
“Be Thankful For What You Got” by William DeVaughn
“Band On The Run” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“If You Love Me (Let Me Know)” by Olivia Newton-John
“Dancing Machine” by the Jackson 5
“Hollywood Swinging” by Kool & The Gang
“The Entertainer” by Marvin Hamlisch

Well, seven out of those ten would make some good listening, back then and even today. Two of them I’ll dismiss from class early: The story-song of “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” didn’t do much for me in 1974 and still doesn’t today. It’s benign, though, unlike the Ray Stevens record, which I dislike greatly.

Then there’s “Hollywood Swinging,” a title I do not recognize. And listening to the track this morning rings only very faint bells. My Top 40 listening at the time would have come from the Twin Cities’ KDWB in the daytime (though that was limited), from St. Cloud’s WJON in the early evening and from, well, who knows what later in the evening. I could not find a KDWB survey from the week in question, but one released ten days later, on July 1, 1974, finds the single absent. So I might have heard it in 1974, but if I did, it obviously didn’t matter to me.

The other seven, though, I liked. How much? Well, four of them – those by Lightfoot, McCartney & Wings, Newton-John, and the Stylistics – are among the 3,900 tracks in the iPod, which gives them some kind of stature around here. The other three? Well, I’ve featured the DeVaughn single here at least once, and I don’t wince when the other two show up.

Actually, at the time this Hot 100 came out, I wasn’t listening to a lot of Top 40, except maybe in the evening. I was pretty much confined to home, recovering from a mysterious lung ailment that set in a week after I got home from Denmark, and my days were spent mostly on the green couch in the basement rec room, getting reacquainted with my album collection and going through the piles of Time and Sports Illustrated that my dad had set aside for me while I was gone. So the fact that four of those ten are still in my queue is pretty good, I think.

But what of our other business with the Hot 100 from June 22, 1974? What lies at the very bottom of that list?

Well, it’s a piece of funk from Smokey Robinson titled “It’s Her Turn To Live,” on its way off the chart after peaking at No. 82 and reaching No. 29 on the Billboard R&B chart. I doubt I’ve ever heard it until this morning, but it’s pretty good. Here it is:

What’s At No. 100? (March 1975)

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

We’re going to look today at the record that sat at No. 100 in the Billboard Hot 100 as the Ides of March fell in 1975. But first, here’s the magazine’s Top Ten as of March 15, 1975, forty-four years ago tomorrow:

“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers
“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
“Lady Marmalade (Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi)” by Lady Marmalade
“Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton-John
“Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton
“Lady” by Styx
“Lonely People” by America
“Express” by B.T. Express
“I Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” by the Electric Light Orchestra
“Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” by Sugarloaf/Jerry Corbetta

Well, that’s a jumble. I mentioned my affection the other day for the Frankie Valli record, and the Lady Marmalade record was in my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox. I liked “Black Water,” probably giving it a few spins on the juke box at St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center. The same is true for the Riperton single.

I found the Newton-John record pleasant and unoffensive, as was “Lonely People.” “I Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” was – and remains – an earworm of great magnitude; I don’t dislike it, but once I hear it, I hear it for the next twelve hours or so.

“Don’t Call Us . . .” was a gimmick I did not like, and I have never, ever liked anything by Styx. I just don’t like the sound of the band. Finally, I do not recall “Express” at all, and having listened to it this morning, all I can do is shrug and say, “Yeah, that sounds like a slice of 1975.”

So how many of those are in my current listening (based on the 3,900-some tracks in the iPod)? Five of them: The top three and the entries by America, because of a later association, not my 1975 reaction to the tune, and, surprisingly, ELO. (It’s still an earworm.) I might add “Have You Never Been Mellow” to the mix.

And now, let’s answer the question at the top of the post. Heading to the bottom of the Hot 100, we find a Joe Walsh single that I doubt that I have heard until this morning: “Turn To Stone.” It’s certainly not familiar.

(I have to admit that when I saw the title, I wondered about the ELO record of the same title. Whoever transcribed the many years’ worth of Hot 100s to Notepad made a few errors along the way. But, as many out there knew already, this is an entirely different record.)

And it’s one I wish I’d heard (or heard more frequently than I did) forty-four years ago. It’s got power, it’s serious (as opposed to a lot of Walsh’s winking solo work), and – according to Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles – it’s got Eagles Don Henley, Glen Frey and Randy Meisner on backing vocals.

I like it a lot, and as it ran this morning, I had a vague thought that might seem weird, but the sound of Walsh’s “Turn To Stone” reminded me a lot of some of the tracks on Wishbone Ash’s 1972 album Argus.

“Turn To Stone” didn’t do so well on the charts. By the time we catch up to it at No. 100, it was in its third week in the Hot 100 and had peaked at No. 93. It was re-released in 1979 and bubbled under the Hot 100 for one week at No. 109.

What’s At No. 100? (February 1977)

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

As February turned to March in 1977, I found myself back at St. Cloud State after a three-month absence. In the autumn of 1976, I’d abandoned some post-graduate studies to work full time in a music store. A week after that, I’d lost my job.

I scuffled for two months in a poor economy, getting no nibbles on my attempts to find work in television news. One day I met my dad for coffee at the university.

“Whatever you’re doing,” he said, “it’s not working, so I have two suggestions.” He knew I had some extra credits in mass communications beyond what I’d needed for graduation, so he suggested that I talk to the department chair and see if those credits and some course work could be converted into a minor in print journalism. Even with my training in television, he said, the thing I did best that would bring me a job (and, he hoped, a career) was to write.

Otherwise, he said, I should join the Army.

I like his first suggestion immediately. I liked it even more after his second suggestion. So I met with the department chair, and he and I cobbled together a minor using those extra credits and a couple of courses and some summertime workshops.

I registered for spring quarter about three weeks before the quarter actually began, and that made me eligible for student employment, as Dad knew it would. After a quick meeting with Dad’s colleague who supervised student employment in the Learning Resources Center, I was working twenty hours a week for the rest of winter quarter, full time during quarter break and then ten hours a week after that.

The pay was minimal, but I was still living in the decrepit house on the North Side I’ve mentioned many times before, so my rent and other expenses were low. I took out a small student loan and jumped happily back into campus life, taking classes, working as the arts editor of the University Chronicle, and doing whatever projects I was assigned at the Learning Resources Center, where my years of experience allowed my supervisor to plug me pretty much into any project he had that needed doing.

There was plenty of time, as always, to listen to music. At home, I listened to a variety of FM stations, but the car was AM only, and the bulk of the Top 40 remained familiar. Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from this week in 1977:

“Love Theme From ‘A Star Is Born’ (Evergreen)” by Barbra Streisand
“New Kid In Town/Victim Of Love” by the Eagles
“Fly Like An Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band
“I Like Dreaming” by Kenny Nolan
“Blinded By The Light” by the Manfred Mann Earth Band
“Night Moves” by Bob Seger
“Dancing Queen” by Abba
“Year Of The Cat” by Al Stewart
“Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary MacGregor
“Weekend In New England” by Barry Manilow

First off, I had to remind myself what “Victim Of Love” sounded like, and I had to take a another moment to remember the Manilow record. I recalled that I never liked “Victim of Love” and – sappy and Manilowesque as it is (and those might be the same thing) – I liked “Weekend In New England.”

Of the other nine in that list, there is one that I have always detested and another that I wonder about nowadays. From the first time I heard it, I have had a visceral dislike for the Streisand record, almost on the level of my antipathy for “Seasons In The Sun.” Time has not eased that distaste. Of course, I don’t like a whole lot of anything Streisand has ever recorded; the only work from her on the digital shelves is the album Stoney End and a 1971 cover of Carole King’s “Beautiful” that came my way in one of the mixes put out by the Halfhearted Dude.

The one I wonder about is “Torn Between Two Lovers.” I always thought it inconsequential, the tale of a woman wanting to have it both ways, which kind of summed up what some folks – supposedly lots of folks, according to occasional reports in the news magazines – were doing with relationships in those post-Nixon, pre-AIDS days. Then, after I went online in 2000 and began to frequent music blogs and boards, I learned that “Torn Between Two Lovers” was “Seasons In The Sun” for some folks. I never quite got that level of distaste, but okay. I still kind of like the record, maybe mostly as an artifact of its time.

The rest of those range from just okay to “Hey, let’s play that one five times in a row on the jukebox!” (“Year Of The Cat” and “Night Moves” are in that second category.)

As usual, the best way to see if I really like a record is to see if it’s one of the 3,900-some tracks in the iPod. So what do we find? Seven of those eleven records are there. Missing are the Streisand, the B-side of the Eagles single, the Steve Miller Band and Manilow. And I think that’s the way it’s going to stay.

But what of our other business today? What was sitting at No. 100 as February turned to March in 1977? Well, it’s a record I have never heard until today: “Dance Little Lady Dance” by Danny White, a New Jersey native described by Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles as a pop-disco singer.

It’s White’s only entry in the Hot 100, and it spent two weeks at No. 100 and then went away. Probably a deserved fate, if for no other reasons than the screams, which seem most painful from the three-minute mark on. Still, I suppose that somewhere, there’s a middle-aged or older couple remembering Danny White’s single as their song. Good for them.

What’s At No. 100? (2-13-1965)

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from this date in 1965, fifty-four years ago today:

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” by the Righteous Brothers
“Downtown” by Petula Clark
“This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“The Name Game” by Shirley Ellis
“My Girl” by the Temptations
“Hold What You’ve Got” by Joe Tex
“All Day And All Of The Night” by the Kinks
“Shake” by Sam Cooke
“The Jolly Green Giant” by the Kingsmen
“I Go To Pieces” by Peter & Gordon

That’s a very mixed bag. First of all, I have to admit that the only way I remember ever hearing Sam Cooke’s “Shake” is because of the absurdism of “Shake it like a bowl of soup.” And until that line came through the speaker today, I didn’t recognize the record. To give another measure of how unfamiliar I have been with “Shake,” it’s not among the 77,000-some tracks on the digital shelves here.

The same holds true for some others in that Top Ten, too. I never liked “The Name Game,” so it’s not here. I’m not sure why “I Fall To Pieces” is absent, as I’ve generally liked the work of Peter & Gordon, and it’s a decent folk-rock single. And I guess I’ve just ignored the silliness of the Kingsmen, even though Minnesota is the home of the Jolly Green Giant. (A fifty-five foot tall statue of the giant stands along U.S. Highway 169 in the city of Blue Earth, Minnesota.)

That’s four records from that Top Ten that are absent from the digital shelves here. That seems like a lot. I’m not going to take the time to find out, but I wonder how many other Top Ten records from the years 1964-1975 are absent from my shelves. I know of one for certain: Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling.” But it’s purposely absent – like “The Name Game” – for reasons of taste, not of lack of thought.

So, will I go find the records by Cooke, Peter & Gordon and the Kingsmen? Probably, but they’re not high priority.

What about the other six in that long-ago Top Ten? Well, I like four of them very much. One has a specific memory: “Downtown” takes me across the street to Rick’s house, hanging around on what was likely a Saturday as his older sister and her friends down the hall played the record over and over. And then, the records by the Righteous Brothers, the Temptations and Gary Lewis & The Playboys are just good records.

What about the records by the Kinks and Joe Tex? Those I can take or leave.

That’s pretty well summed up by what’s in the iPod these days. “Downtown,” “This Diamond Ring,” and “My Girl” are among the 3,900 tracks there. I’ll maybe add “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” one of these days.

Having finished with the Top Ten from fifty-four years ago, we can drop to the bottom of the Hot 100 and see what lies there. And we find “Did You Ever,” one of two records by the Hullaballoos to make the Hot 100.

The Hullaballoos, says Wikipedia, “were created in August 1964, but had been working in the UK for over three years under the name of Ricky Knight and The Crusaders.” They were named, according to Wikipedia, for the English city of Hull, not for the American television program. (At least one of the four members of the group was born in Kingston Upon Hull, a port city whose name is generally shortened to Hull.)

Their rechristening as the Hullaballoos was, it seems, a cynical move. Here’s what Richie Unterberger of AllMusic had to say about the group:

[T]he Hullaballoos were arguably the most exploitative act of the first wave of the British Invasion. With their wig-like helmets of bleach-blond hair that vied with the Pretty Things and the Stones in length, they had an immediately striking visual presence. Musically it was another matter, for the Hullaballoos were actually not even stars in their homeland, but packaged for U.S. consumption by Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, notorious vice presidents and A&R directors of Roulette Records. Most of their music was written by hack Brill Building songwriters, who were apparently intent on making the band sound as much like Buddy Holly as possible. Indeed, one of their small U.S. hits was a cover of Holly’s “I’m Gonna Love You Too” (the other, “Did You Ever,” was Holly-esque down to the hiccuping vocal). New York hacks may have devised their Buddy Holly-cum-Merseybeat sound – dominated by driving simple guitar chords and drums – in a superficial manner, but it’s catchy and considerably forceful. The Hullaballoos faded almost immediately after a tiny splash in 1965, but that was probably built into the plan from the beginning.

“I’m Gonna Love You Too” had peaked at No. 56 in early January of 1965, and “Did You Ever” stalled at No. 74 in mid-March. The group had one more single show up in Billboard: “Learning the Game” bubbled under for two weeks in May, peaking at No. 121.

Here’s “Did You Ever,” Hollyesque hiccup and all (including little riffs from what sounds like a recorder or an ocarina):

What’s At No. 100? (1-30-1961)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

We’ve been using this particular tool – “What’s At No. 100?” – a fair amount lately for practical reasons: It’s an easy topic to research, generally requiring only one trip to the bookcase across the room, which aids in my convalescence. (I wish there had been a way to configure my portion of the lower level of the condo so that my reference books were near the computer, but it didn’t work out that way.)

Anyway, today, we’re going to stretch our game back to the early days of 1961, a time when I had no idea there was such a thing as the Top 40. Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from January 30, 1961, fifty-eight years ago today:

“Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles
“Calcutta” by Lawrence Welk & His Orchestra
“Exodus” by Ferrante & Teicher
“Wonderland By Night” by Bert Kaempfert
“Shop Around” by the Miracles
“Angel Baby” by Rosie & The Originals
“Calendar Girl” by Neil Sedaka
“Emotions” by Brenda Lee
“Rubber Ball” by Bobby Vee
“Are You Lonesome To-night?” by Elvis Presley

Having decided to venture back to this date in 1961, I wondered how many of the week’s Top Ten I would know. After some thought, I defined “know” as being able to identify the song’s title and the artists in, say, ten seconds. And I’d do better than I expected, being able to meet that benchmark on seven of the above ten.

I’d recognize “Calcutta,” but I’m not sure I’d be able to sort out its title in the required time. (If I got the title, I’d know it was Welk’s work.) I’d have no clue on “Angel Baby.” And I’d recognize Brenda Lee’s voice and be able to make a guess at the title simply from the lyric, but that would be pure luck, as I have no memory of ever hearing the record.

But how many of these would I have heard back in 1961, when I was seven and making my way through second grade? Maybe “Exodus,” as my family had seen the 1960 movie, and I was very aware of the film’s theme. And the Ferrante & Teicher single had gone to No. 2, so – even though it did not reach the Easy Listening chart – I think I could easily have heard it somewhere, perhaps even at home on WCCO. The other nine? I have no idea if I heard them back then.

The second thing we consider when we do these posts, of course, is whether I like these records now, measuring that by their inclusion among the 3,900 or so tracks in the iPod. And a search through the iPod turns up three of those records, the ones by the Shirelles, Ferrante & Teicher, and Bert Kaempfert. Out of the absent seven, I might go find “Calcutta” and “Shop Around.” The other five? Nah.

Now we turn to our other bit of business this morning: What’s at No. 100? And when we drop to the bottom of that long-ago Hot 100, we find one of the historically great R&B groups, the Coasters, with “Wait A Minute.”

The Coasters, of course, had been a reliable presence on both the Top 40 and the R&B chart during the second half of the 1950s. They’d continue to do well on the R&B chart, but as the decade shifted, their records generally peaked in the lower half of the Hot 100. “Wait A Minute” was an exception, peaking at No. 37. (In the spring and summer of 1961, “Little Egypt (Ying-Yang)” would go to No. 23, the last Coasters record to reach the Top 40.)

As to “Wait A Minute,” it’s a pretty good record, and that’s not surprising, given the talent that worked on it: The song was written by Bobby Darin and Don Kirshner, and the record was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.