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

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.

What’s At No. 100? (1-23-1971)

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from January 23, 1971, forty-eight years ago today:

“Knock Three Times” by Dawn
“My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity” by George Harrison
“One Less Bell To Answer” by the 5th Dimension
“Lonely Days” by the Bee Gees
“Black Magic Woman” by Santana
“Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand
“Groove Me” by King Floyd
“Your Song” by Elton John
“Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson
“It’s Impossible” by Perry Como

Back then, as a high school senior, I liked almost all of these, some more than others. My faves among them were those by George Harrison, the Bee Gees, Elton John and the 5th Dimension. Those all merited an increase in volume when they came on the radio (although I don’t recall hearing “Isn’t It A Pity” on the air very often if at all).

I also liked the Santana and the Streisand singles, and I liked “Groove Me,” even though I thought it was a little weird, what with the grunting and all. And then there was “Knock Three Times.” I wrote some years ago about the decision that the St. Cloud Tech administration made as school resumed in September 1970 to relabel the cold lunch room as the Multi-Purpose Room and to install a jukebox. As I noted:

That was a move that I think the authorities eventually regretted, certainly by the second time Dawn’s No. 1 hit “Knock Three Times” drew the attention of some student’s quarter . . . When Tony Orlando and his crew told us to “knock three times,” feet stomped on the floor and books slammed on the table. “Twice on the pipe” drew the same reaction.

So, I liked the anarchy the record spawned, and I knew it had a great hook (even before I knew the term “hook”), but for some reason, it was still a little off-putting, kind of like Tony Orlando’s mustache.

What about “Rose Garden”? Well, the record was okay, but I was confused by the fact that about the same time the record began getting airplay, my sister was reading a book titled I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Was there a connection? Almost fifty years later, I don’t know. I have a vague memory of reading a piece in which songwriter Joe South refers to the book – a 1964 semi-autobiographical novel about a young woman’s struggle with mental illness – in connection with his song.

In that interview, did South acknowledge the book’s title as inspiration for a hook? Or maybe he said that the book’s existence is why the song title was changed. It was first recorded in 1967 by Billy Joe Royal as “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” but most subsequent recordings, including South’s and Lynn Anderson’s – were released as simply “Rose Garden.” I don’t know.

That leaves “It’s Impossible,” a record that was just too sappy, even for a kid who loved easy listening.

So that was then. How about now? Well, ten of those eleven are in the iPod. The only one that’s not there is the Perry Como single, which means that off-putting or not, “Knock Three Times” still has a place at the table (more by reason of nostalgia than quality, I guess).

And, as usual, we’re going to drop to the very bottom of that long-ago Hot 100 and see what we find.

When we play this game, most of the time we get a single that’s just okay. We’ve gotten some dreck. And now and then, we find a gem. Today, happily, is one of the gem days as we come across the first single by the Allman Brothers Band to reach the Hot 100: the Dickey Betts-penned “Revival (Love Is Everywhere).” The record was in its third week in the Hot 100, having peaked at No. 92. It would be gone a week later.

What’s At No. 100? (1-15-1972)

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Here’s the Billboard Hot 100 for January 15, 1972, forty-seven years ago today:

“American Pie (Parts 1 & 2)” by Don McLean
“Brand New Key” by Melanie
“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
“Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards
“Family Affair” by Sly & The Family Stone
“Scorpio” by Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band
“I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” by the New Seekers
“Got To Be There” by Michael Jackson
“Hey Girl/I Knew You When” by Donny Osmond
“Clean Up Woman” by Betty Wright

So what did I think about those eleven records back then, when I was just into my second quarter of college? Well, I liked “American Pie,” but generally heard the album track, not the bifurcated version on 45, which – if I remember things rightly – didn’t cover the entire track anyway. (I think our pal Yah Shure once detailed for us the history of the single vs. the album track, but I’m too lazy this early afternoon to go find that comment.)

I also liked “Let’s Stay Together,” even before hearing it during a sweet afternoon with a young lady a few weeks after this chart came out. And I kind of liked the Melanie single – with its winking naughtiness – and the Jonathan Edwards record. I was okay with the New Seekers record, too, although these days, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” is Don Draper.

I don’t recall ever hearing either of the Donny Osmond sides. If so, I would have cringed. Nor am I sure if – in 1972 – I’d ever heard Freddie Scott’s original version of “Hey Girl” or Billy Joe Royal’s version of “I Knew You When,” which charted in 1963 and 1965, respectively. (Royal’s record was a cover of Wade Flemons’ 1964 original.)

As to the other records in that Top Ten, I didn’t care about them then. I’ve changed my mind on a couple: “Family Affair” and “Clean Up Woman” are in my iPod along with the records by Don McLean, Al Green, Jonathan Edwards and the New Seekers. I know that “Scorpio” scratches an itch for some of my friends, but it doesn’t do anything for me. And the Melanie single no longer appeals (although thinking about it as I write, I can hear it clearly in my head).

With that done, let’s dive to the bottom of that 1972 Hot 100, and there we find the last charting single for Freda Payne, best remembered for “Band Of Gold” (No. 3 in 1970) and for “Bring The Boys Home” (No. 12 in 1971). “The Road We Didn’t Take” is a decent soul ballad, produced by the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland for their Invictus label. But it pretty much went nowhere, spending two weeks at No. 100 and then disappearing.

What’s At No. 100? (January 1967)

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from the first week of 1967, released on January 7 of that year:

“I’m A Believer” by the Monkees
“Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen
“Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville
“Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band
“Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra
“That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra
“Good Thing” by Paul Revere & The Raiders
“Words of Love” by The Mamas & The Papas
“Standing In The Shadows Of Love” by the Four Tops
“Mellow Yellow” by Donovan

That’s an okay thirty minutes or so of listening, sort of, but some of it would not stand up under the frequent repetition of Top 40 radio. The novelty of the Snoopy record would wear off real quickly, I think. And the novelty of “Winchester Cathedral,” did wear off rapidly on New Year’s Eve 1966, when one of Rick’s sisters and her friends played the record over and over and over as the girls celebrated the New Year just down the hall from Rick and me.

Back then, being an MOR kid, I liked the Frank Sinatra record more than the others, although the angst in the Four Tops’ record – carried by not only the vocal but by the foreboding backing provided by the Funk Brothers – got through to me even at the age of thirteen. I don’t think any of the others really mattered to me back then.

Now? Well, let’s look at the iPod. The records by the Monkees, the New Vaudeville Band, Nancy Sinatra, Paul Revere & The Raiders (with the addendum “featuring Mark Lindsay”), the Four Tops, and Donovan are among the 3,900 or so that make up my current favorite listening.

The most surprising inclusion there is “Mellow Yellow.” During my college days, I spent a quarter working two hours a day in the old library, where the art department would move in a few years. The weavers had set up temporary quarters there, and my job was to sweep yarn from the floors once a day and clean the bathrooms once a week. One of the weavers had brought a record player, and her favorite album was Donovan’s Mellow Yellow. By the end of spring quarter 1972, when that assignment ended, I was very weary of the song. But I guess that after more than forty years, if it only comes around once every 3,900 tracks, I’m okay with it.

Should any of the other four from that Top Ten be added to my current listening? Well, I’m thinking about “That’s Life.” (And since the iPod is charging, I added the track as I wrote.) As to the other three, the Snoopy record can be ignored, there are better versions of “Words Of Love” out there, and the Neville record was never one of my favorites.

And now to our other business of the day: diving to the bottom of that long-ago Hot 100. And at No. 100 we find one of the huge country hits of 1967, perhaps the biggest. Jack Greene’s “There Goes My Everything” got to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart on December 24, 1966, and stayed there through January 1967. On the pop side, it entered the Hot 100 during the week we’re examining and stayed in the chart for six weeks, peaking at No. 65.

Greene wasn’t the first to record the song; Ferlin Husky had recorded it in 1965 and released it as a track on his 1966 album I Could Sing All Night Long. Greene came next, and according to Second Hand Songs, more than one hundred versions have followed (including at least one in Estonian). The most memorable of those is likely Engelbert Humperdinck’s, which went to No. 20 on the Hot 100 during the summer of 1967. And looking at the country charts, Elvis Presley’s cover went to No. 9 in 1971. But Greene’s cover was the first to hit either of the charts, and here it is:

What’s At No. 100? (12-20-75)

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Here are the top ten records from the Billboard Hot 100 from December 20, 1975, forty-three years ago today:

“That’s The Way (I Like It)” by K.C. & The Sunshine Band.
“Let’s Do It Again” by the Staple Singers
“Fly, Robin, Fly” by the Silver Convention
“Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers
“Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players
“Theme from ‘Mahogany’” by Diana Ross
“Sky High” by Jigsaw
“I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow
“Fox On The Run” by Sweet
“Nights On Broadway” by the Bee Gees

Our first note here is that for reasons of spacing, I’ve trimmed the title of the Diana Ross single, leaving off its parenthetical “(Do You Know Where You’re Going To).”

Beyond that, this is a very mixed bag. By this time in 1975, I was in the third week of interning at a Twin Cities television station, so on workdays, my radio listening was minimal: morning and afternoon drive time and perhaps in the evening if my roommate – a school portrait photographer who worked the northwestern portion of the Twin Cities – and I could agree on a station. He liked the harder-edged album rock of KQRS, while I preferred the softer adult contemporary sounds of KSTP-FM or WCCO-FM. We usually just watched television on weekday evenings.

So some of those records in that Top Ten, I didn’t know as well. As an example, the chart I’m looking at shows “Fox On The Run” as having been in the Hot 100 for six weeks. For the last three of those weeks, my listening was limited; for the first three of those weeks, the record was climbing the chart and I wouldn’t have heard it very often. And, as it turns out, that’s my least favorite record among those ten. I didn’t care about it then, and I don’t care about it now.

Beyond “Fox,” three other records in that Top Ten didn’t matter to me back then, even though I had heard them fairly frequently: “Saturday Night,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “I Write The Songs.” (I think that lots of folks then and now look at the Manilow single as one of the worst of all time. I don’t. I thought then and think now that the record’s idea was interesting but its lyrics were clumsy. And I can think of many singles that I dislike a great deal more.)

The other six records, though, I liked pretty well, even the early disco of Silver Convention and K.C. & The Sunshine Band. Both of them are worthy of current day listening (as measured by being in the 3,900 or so tracks on my iPod). The Silver Convention record is a potent reminder of a beautiful (and important) autumn. It’s a little monotonous, but a listen now and then is fine. The same goes for “That’s The Way (I Like It).”

The final four records – those by Diana Ross, Jigsaw, the Staple Singers and the Bee Gees – are also among the 3,900 in the iPod and they’re going to stay there. They are not only reminders of that sweet time in my life, but they’re great records as well.

But enough about that. Let’s drop deeper in that long-ago chart and see what resides on the very last rung.

And we find a record from an early rock & roll star who became a huge country star. He’s been mentioned here just four times and never featured over the course of nearly twelve years and about 2,200 posts. Parked at No. 100 forty-three years ago today was “Don’t Cry Joni” by Conway Twitty. The record – featuring Twitty’s daughter, Joni Lee – would spend another six weeks in the Hot 100, climbing to No. 63. As might be expected, it did appreciably better on the magazine’s country chart, peaking at No. 4.

Interestingly, it was the last time Twitty would put a single into the Hot 100 (or its Bubbling Under addendum). During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Twitty had been a regular presence on the pop chart, putting sixteen singles in or near the chart, with three of them hitting the Top Ten. Unquestionably, his greatest success had been “It’s Only Make Believe,” which spent two weeks at No. 1 in November 1958.

And then there was a second act. After “Portrait Of A Fool” stalled at No. 98 in early 1962, Twitty was gone from the pop chart for more than eight years. During that time, says Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, Twitty switched his focus from rock & roll to country. (Whitburn dates the shift to 1965.) The country hits began to pile up (forty of them going to No. 1 between 1968 and 1986, if I counted correctly), and some crossed over to the pop chart.

From the summer of 1970 (“Hello Darlin’,” No. 1 country, No. 60 pop) into early 1976, when “Don’t Cry Joni” went to No. 63, Twitty put nine more records into the Hot 100. The best performing of those was “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” which went to No. 22 (No. 1 country) in 1973.

But what about “Don’t Cry Joni”? That is how we got here. Well, it’s a pretty little first-person record about Jimmy and the younger girl who lives next door, Joni. The tale – about the choices the two make – is predictable, the backing is monotonous, and Twitty’s daughter, Joni Lee, doesn’t have a strong enough voice for her part. It’s interesting, I guess, but in the end not much more than a trifle.