Archive for the ‘Chart Digging’ Category

‘I Would Be In Love (Anyway)’

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Here’s what the top ten looked like on the Billboard Easy Listening chart fifty years ago this week, the first week of April in 1970, one of my best-remembered years for music:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Easy Come Easy Go” by Bobby Sherman
“Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley
“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“Temma Harbour” by Mary Hopkin
“I Would Be In Love (Anyway)” by Frank Sinatra
“Rainy Night In Georgia” by Brook Benton
“Long Lonesome Highway” by Michael Parks
“All I Have To Do Is Dream” by Bobbie Gentry & Glenn Campbell
“Brighton Hill” by Jackie DeShannon

Well, six of those I know well, and I clearly remember five of them – the top four and the Brook Benton single – coming out of my old RCA radio during spring evenings in my room. The Gentry/Campbell duet is not as memorable, though I know I heard it.

“Temma Harbour” is one I don’t recall from fifty years ago; I don’t believe I heard it until about ten years ago when I was tipped to it in a comment here by reader David Lenander. I have vague memories of the Michael Parks record, but those memories don’t say “1970” in any way, which tells me I rarely heard it then. And the DeShannon record rings no bells at all, even though I can tell from the visual in the YouTube video that for years, the LP from which it came was in the vinyl stacks.

And then there’s the Sinatra record:

If I lived the past over, saw today from yesterday
I would be in love anyway
If I knew that you’d leave me, if I knew you wouldn’t stay
I would be in love anyway

Sometimes I think, think about before
Sometime I think, if I knew then what I know now
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

Though you’ll never be with me, and there are no words to say
I’ll still be in love anyway

If I knew then what I know now,
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

If I knew then what I know now
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

The single came from Sinatra’s Watertown album, a work I mentioned thirteen years ago:

Watertown [is] a song cycle that’s one of the more idiosyncratic recordings of Sinatra’s long career. The songs on Watertown came from Bob Gaudio – writer of many of the Four Seasons’ hits – and Jake Holmes, the singer-songwriter/folk-rocker who was also the composer of “Dazed & Confused,” which Led Zeppelin appropriated as its own work. The album is, as All-Music Guide notes, Sinatra’s “most explicit attempt at rock-oriented pop.” It’s also a rather depressing piece of work, as the mood throughout is one of unrelieved (and unrelievable) sadness.

And as I listened to “I Would Be In Love (Anyway)” this morning, I recognized the tale Sinatra was telling. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I spent some time in that same bleak emotional place. Eventually (and thankfully), I moved on.

I remember frequently seeing the LP in cutout bins in the early 1970s and in the “Sinatra” bins at used record stores in the 1990s. Even though my buying in the 1990s was pretty indiscriminate, for some reason I never brought Watertown home with me. Somewhere along the line, I acquired a digital copy of the album from which I made the above judgment that its mood “is one of unrelieved (and unrelievable) sadness.” I may take time to again listen closely to the album one of these days, but I’m not sure I need the downer.

As to “I Would Be In Love (Anyway),” it peaked on the Easy Listening chart at No. 4 but got only to No. 88 on the Hot 100. Watertown went to No. 101 on the magazine’s album chart.

Hunkering Down

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Well, we’re pretty much self-isolating, as we should. I was out yesterday for a brief time, picked up two prescriptions at the pharmacy drive-through, then got a pick-up order at the grocery store. The order wasn’t quite right, so I had to go into the store to straighten it out and then go into another store to get the soap powder for the dishwasher that the first store was out of.

Both stores had relatively little traffic, and the shelves were beginning to look bare in some spots: Canned soup, instant potatoes and potato box mixes, cereals, and, of course, paper products. In the store where I did my actual shopping, eggs were plentiful but customers were limited to two dozen. As well as getting the soap powder, I filled some minor gaps in our supplies and headed home.

And today, I’ll head out to the podiatrist for my regular six-week visit, being very careful about surfaces and aware of the people around me. The receptionist said they’ve expanded the seating area of the lobby to provide more distance between people. I’m still a bit nervous about it, but I thought I should go while I can. And then home again for the rest of the day.

There is nothing in the digital stacks with “COVID” in the title, of course. There are, on the other hand, several tracks with “nineteen” in their titles: “The Two Nineteen” by Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Day, “John Nineteen Forty-One” (the closing track to the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar), “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” by Paul McCartney & Wings, “Nineteen Something” by Mark Willis, and five versions of the blues tune “She’s Nineteen Years Old.” Not much joy there.

So I thought I’d look at the Billboard charts from the years I call my sweet spot, 1969-75, and, playing some Games With Numbers, see what was at No. 19 during the third week of March in those years. With any luck, we’ll find something decent to listen to this morning. Here we go.

1969: “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose” by James Brown
1970: “Call Me/Son Of A Preacher Man” by Aretha Franklin
1971: “(Theme From) ‘Love Story’” by Henry Mancini, His Orchestra and Chorus
1972: “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember” by Beverly Bremers
1973: “Do You Want To Dance” by Bette Midler
1974: “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” by Aretha Franklin
1975: “I Am Love (Parts 1 & 2)” by the Jackson 5

Well, that’s an interesting mix. I respect James Brown more than I listen to him, and Aretha’s double-sided single doesn’t grab me this morning. I know we’ve offered the Mancini, Bremers and Midler singles before (maybe some time ago, but still). And I’m going to ignore the Jackson 5 record because a quick search tells me that not only have I never posted “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do),” I’ve never – in more than thirteen years of blogging – even mentioned the record.

There’s a reason for that neglect. Given that it was on the radio in early 1974, the record falls into the list of those that I did not hear at the time, being in Denmark and beyond the reach of Top 40. I learned about it through my digging into Aretha during the late 1980s and via whatever play it got on oldies stations, and I like it a lot.

In mid-March 1974, the record was on its way down the chart, having peaked in the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 3 at the end of February. It spent a week at No. 1 on the magazine’s R&B chart and went to No. 33 on the Easy Listening chart.

And finally, it shows up here.

No. 45, Forty-Five Years Ago

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Dropping into 1975 for a game of Symmetry this morning, I have absolutely no idea what we’ll find, but I’ll likely know it well. (I think so, at least. It would be fun, though, for our excavation to find something utterly new. I’ll settle, though, for not lame.)

Here were the top ten records in the Billboard Hot 100 during the week that February turned into March in 1975:

“Best Of My Love” by the Eagles
“Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton-John
“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers
“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
“Some Kind Of Wonderful” by Grand Funk
“Lonely People” by America
“Pick Up The Pieces” by the Average White Band
“Lady Marmalade (Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi)” by LaBelle
“Nightingale” by Carole King
“Lady” by Styx

Eight of those rated on the plus side in 1975; I never cared much for the Grand Funk or Styx singles. In fact, nothing I ever heard from Styx ever clicked with me although I never dug too deeply into the band’s work. Grand Funk? Well, I liked “Closer To Home” and “Bad Time” – the latter of which takes me back viscerally to New Year’s Eve 1974 – and liked “We’re An American Band” when I finally heard it long after its release. But “Some Kind Of Wonderful” left me cold.

As to the other eight in that mix, the best is the LaBelle single; it was the only one of those ten to make it into my long-age Ultimate Jukebox, and, of course, it’s one of the 3,900-some tracks currently in the iPod, which is how I measure current relevance.

Which of the other nine in that aged top ten are still in my current listening? Well, five of them. Missing are the records by Grand Funk, the Average White Band, America, and Styx. (And the absence of “Lonely People” surprises me just a hair, but I don’t think I’ll bother to add it.)

Our other business, of course, lies lower down in that chart, and at No. 45 we find an up-tempo piece of funk that I must have heard before: “Once You Get Started” by Rufus (featuring Chaka Kahn) is actually on the digital shelves here, having arrived as part of the album Rufusized. And the record reminds me of the question once posed here: When was the first usage of the phrase “party hearty”? I dabbled with that question in a post in 2012, but “Once You Get Started” was not one of the records I considered. (I think “Do It, Fluid” by the Blackbyrds was likely recorded earlier than “Once You Get Started,” but I do not know, and I will leave the question for others to research in more depth.”)

Anyway, “Once You Get Started” kicks and might itself be elevated to the iPod. Back in 1975, it went to No. 10 on the Hot 100 and to No. 4 in the Billboard R&B chart.

Saturday Single No. 676

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

It’s not a nice round number, but we’re going to back fifty-three years today, to February of 1967. I was thirteen, and it was about this time that I had my tonsils out and spent about a week home from school. I remember eating a fair amount of ice cream and sipping a good quantity of broth, sometimes beef, sometimes chicken.

And I recall lugging our brown and gold AM radio from the kitchen up to my room every morning after Dad had headed off to work. I’d park it on my bedside table and read while Minneapolis’ WCCO offered its combination of talk and middle-of-the-road music. When Arthur Godfrey’s show came on at 10 a.m., I’d retune the radio to KDWB, one of the Twin Cities’ Top 40 stations, and listen to records that I didn’t really know or appreciate yet. When I knew Godfrey was done for the day, I’d head back to WCCO where the middle of the road welcomed me again.

I was an easy listening kid.

So what was in the Billboard Easy Listening top ten during the second week of February 1967? Take a look:

“My Cup Runneth Over” by Ed Ames
“Music To Watch Girls By” by the Bob Crewe Generation
“Wish Me A Rainbow” by the Gunter Kallmann Chorus
“Lady” by Jack Jones
“All” by James Darren
“Sweet Maria” by the Billy Vaughn Singers
“Georgy Girl” by the Seekers
“I’ll Take Care Of Your Cares” by Frankie Laine
“Sunrise, Sunset” by Roger Williams
“What Makes It Happen” by Tony Bennett

I recall without prompting the records by Ames, the Bob Crewe Generation, the Seekers and Williams. (I’ll note here that seeing the Ames single listed here reminds me of a piece by my pal jb at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. It remains the best thing I’ve ever read about “My Cup Runneth Over.”)

The others? Well, we’re going to make a visit to YouTube to see if some melodies jog my memory.

I don’t recall and truly do not like “Wish Me A Rainbow,” which came from the film This Property Is Condemned, the title of which is only vaguely familiar to me. Nor does the Jack Jones record click for me (though I like it a little).

The James Darren record, though, sounds familiar, and it’s something that I would have liked as a thirteen-year-old: romantic with a pretty instrumental arrangement and lush voices in the background. (The video I checked out shows the cover of the LP from which “All” came, and I’m amused to see from the cover that Darren also recorded “Georgy Girl,” “Lady,” and “My Cup Runneth Over.”)

I have about sixty tracks by Vaughn on the digital shelves, but “Sweet Maria” is not one of them, but it sounds familiar, so who knows? And I have no memory of the records by Laine or Bennett, although I do like them, along with most of this top ten. Taken together, they sound exactly like what my 1967 sounded like.

But let’s play some Games With Numbers, taking today’s date 2-8-20 and making that into 30, and then look at the No. 30 record on that long-ago Easy Listening chart. And we find “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” by Jane Morgan, who was an occasional presence on both the Easy Listening chart (from 1965 to 1968) and the Hot 100 (from 1956 to 1967).

“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” would go no higher on the Easy Listening chart during a nine-week stay, and it was the last record Morgan placed in or near the Hot 100, as it bubbled under at No. 121. It’s an okay record, but it’s not at all familiar and I doubt I’d have liked it in 1967, but that’s the way things go. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

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.

Default Mode

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

I’m hardly here this morning. The head cold I managed to pick up at Urgent Care Saturday is settling in nicely, and I wore myself out with several essential chores yesterday. So I’m going to default to seeking out today’s date – January 23 – in the RealPlayer. We’ll see what we get. (A reminder: I likely have recording dates for maybe five percent of the tracks in the program.)

And our search brings us fourteen tracks. The tunes range temporally from “It’s Moving Day,” recorded by Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers on January 23, 1930, to the Temptations’ “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” which was laid down on January 23, 1964.

The other names in the brief list include Lead Belly, Artie Shaw, Howlin’ Wolf, Louis Jordan, Muddy Waters, Nat King Cole, Claude King, Ann Cole, Tony Bennett, and a few that are not as recognizable.

And it comes to mind that we don’t often listen to Nat King Cole around here. Nothing wrong with the music; it just tends to get pushed to the back of the shelf by other stuff. So we’ll pull him forward today. Here’s “Can’t I?” with Cole accompanied by Billy May & His Orchestra. It was recorded on this date in 1953, peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard airplay chart (going nearly as high on the sales and juke box charts), and went to No. 7 on the magazine’s R&B jukebox chart (if I’m reading the data correctly).

It’s a nice piece.

‘How Can I Go On Living . . .’

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Since we dabbled around the other day in the Billboard 200 album chart from mid-January 1972, I thought we’d stay in that same time period and check out the magazine’s easy listening chart, the chart now called Adult Contemporary. Here are the top fifteen records from that chart as of January 15, 1972:

“American Pie” by Don McLean
“Cherish” by David Cassidy
“It’s One Of Those Nights (Yes Love)” by the Partridge Family
“Anticipation” by Carly Simon
“I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” by the Hillside Singers
“Without You” by Nilsson
“The Harder I Try (The Bluer I Get)” by the Free Movement
“Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards
“An Old Fashioned Love Song” by Three Dog Night
“All I Ever Need Is You” by Sonny & Cher
“Joy” by Apollo 100
“500 Miles” by Heaven Bound with Tony Scott
“My Boy” by Richard Harris
“Friends With You” by John Denver
“Brand New Key” by Melanie

Well, at least three of those ring no bells for me by title, which is a little odd, considering that 1972 falls smack in the middle of what I call my sweet spot. I don’t recall the singles by the Partridge Family, the Free Movement, or John Denver. The Heaven Bound single is ringing faint bells; I have a hunch it’s shown up in this space before. And a quick bit of research shows that I spent a couple of posts in 2012 digging into the single and other versions of the Hedy West song “500 Miles.”

As to the other three, after a quick trip to YouTube, I find I do not recall the Partridge Family or Free Movement records at all, though they’re pretty good singles. And after a reminder, I do recall the John Denver record without pleasure.

And of the other eleven, how many of them matter today? I don’t really dislike any of them; I suppose I have the least affection for the Sonny & Cher record, but it doesn’t make me ill. So let’s take a look at the iPod and see how many of those eleven records are among the 3,900-some that make up my day-to-day listening.

Well, in the device we find the singles by McLean, Simon, Nilsson, Edwards, Three Dog Night and Apollo 100. And none of those really surprise me. After all, as I noted above, 1972 falls right in the middle of my sweet spot. Since I got my own corner of the ’Net in 2010, I’ve written about 1972 and its music 150 times (including today). The only years that have shown up here more frequently are 1972’s immediate predecessors: 1969 (178 times), 1970 (196 times) and 1971 (167 times). (The total number of posts, for what it’s worth, is 1,508, including today.)

All of that tells me something that is likely self-evident: I am a product of those years when my tastes were formed. So, I think, are we all. Our listening (and viewing and reading) habits may expand and modify, but they all build on the foundations of our youths.

As an example, I know a fair amount about the blues, its history and its variants, but I got there by going backwards from (among others) Eric Clapton and the early Rolling Stones. It’s probably not a stretch to say that my interest in the blues was seeded in large part by hearing the Stones’ “Love In Vain” and “You Gotta Move” and Cream’s “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” in 1971 and 1972 (though those seeds took years to sprout).

Well, I ramble. To get back to the fifteen records above, of those that are in my iPod, only two speak to me on a deeper level: the Nilsson and Carly Simon records, the first because a friend of mine used to sing it as I played piano and the second because of a day that came fifteen years later. So I thought I’d look at the remaining twenty-five records in that long-ago easy listening chart and see if any of those spoke to me.

And I find at No. 24 Beverly Bremers’ “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember,” a record I’ve mentioned only a few times over the years, which is a little odd, as it’s a lovely exercise in sorrow, sentiment and nostalgia (all among my major weaknesses) with a killer hook. The record peaked on the easy listening chart at No. 5 and went to No. 15 on the Hot 100.

Looking Ahead To 1970

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Well, not that it’s a trenchant insight or anything, but the past keeps getting further away from us. For example, stuff that happened in 1990 – a year that still seems recent – now took place thirty years ago. My students from that year at Stephens College, a women’s college in Missouri, are now mostly in their early fifties, many of them likely grandparents. And yet, they remain in their early twenties in my memory.

Then there’s the year of 1970, long a benchmark for me – for both music and life – which suddenly (or so it seems) lies a half-century in the past. But its music – and the music of the years on either side of it, from about 1965 to 1975 – still seems vital to me (and to millions of others, too, based on the things I see and hear in the groves of popular culture).

So I guess we’ll keep digging here – Odd and Pop and I – into the music and times of my youth. And what better way to continue doing that than to look at what the year of 1970 would eventually bring as, we tuned our radios fifty years ago this week.

Here are the top ten records of 1970, as offered by Joel Whitburn in A Century Of Pop Music:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison
“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“War” by Edwin Starr
“American Woman” by the Guess Who
“Let It Be” by the Beatles

No surprises there.

But the list reminds me of lying on the sofa at home on January 1, 1971, listening and taking notes as the Twin Cities’ KDWB was counting down its own top hits of 1970. At Nos. 1 and 3 were “Bridge” and “Let It Be.” (And I’m not sure of the order of those two, as the piece of paper on which I took my notes has years ago gone its own way.) But at No. 2, I remember for certain, was the Partridge Family record, and I remember as well rolling my eyes in consternation.

Fifty years later, I’d be unconsterned, if that’s a word. “I Think I Love You” is, as I’ve realized over the years, a great record, so it was no surprise to see it the top ten in Whitburn’s book. (And it’s a record that’s provided me with a more vivid memory than have either “Bridge” or “Let It Be,” a memory I’ve related here before.)

So what do we listen to today? Usually, I’d find the No. 50 record from a year that’s now fifty years in the past, but Whitburn’s book only lists the top forty records of the year. So I think we’ll sort out by time the 4,183 records from 1970 in the RealPlayer, set the cursor in the middle and click ten times.

And we get José Feliciano covering the Beatles, taking on “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.” It’s from his 1970 album Fireworks, which I used to hear across the street at Rick’s.

Tenth record added after first posting.

The Moody Blues’ Seventies: Part 2

Friday, December 27th, 2019

Casting my memory’s net back to the summer and fall of 1971, I vaguely recall conversation among my pal Rick and his friends and among my friends at St. Cloud State about the Moody Blues’ 1971 album, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. There was talk before the album came out about what seemed to be an odd title. There was talk when the album came out about the striking cover art. What I don’t recall is talk about the content of the album.

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour(The title comes from the mnemonic used by music students in Britain to memorize the lines of the treble clef – E-G-B-D-F – with the word “favour” taking on the British spelling. Here in the U.S., our mnemonic is slightly different: Every Good Boy Does Fine. As to the art work, well, it’s displayed here, and perhaps it’s a little less striking after nearly fifty years.)

As to the content, the music and lyrics, the Moody Blues were, as usual, ambitious. Says Graeme Edge in the liner notes to 1997 CD release of the album, “We decided we would write the history of music” in the opening track, “Procession,” which fades in to what seems to be the chirping of insects and makes its way to obviously computerized sounds (Mellotron or Moog, I don’t know) and then wind before we get the chanted word “Desolation!” followed by raindrops and “Creation!” Then come drums and “Communication!” followed by grunts, chants, sitar, a somewhat Baroque melody on flute and harpsichord, an organ wandering around, a brief orchestral interlude, and then electric guitars leading into what is no doubt the album’s best-known track, “The Story In Your Eyes.”

It’s not as bombastic as the spoken word intros of the group’s late 1960s albums, but it doesn’t age well, either. Some of my fellow freshmen at St. Cloud State during the autumn of 1971 thought, however, that it was profound. The same three introductory words – desolation, creation, and communications – show up with numerous other “tion” and sound-alike words (“degradation,” “humiliation,” and “salvation” among them) – in the lumbering chorus to “One More Time To Live” on what was the first track of the album’s second side in its LP configuration. They work there, but only a little better.

The Moodies were always – up to 1972, at least – trying to make a statement and craft their music and lyrics to center on a chosen theme. That’s hard to do, which is why writers are often told to forget about theme and message and just tell the story: The theme will shine through the story and the message will be in the tale itself. So, like the group’s previous albums, EGBDF is in several places heavy-handed and obvious.

It has its very good moments, too, however. The one single released from the album, “The Story In Your Eyes” is one of my favorite Moody Blues tracks. Its lyrics are a little preachy, yes, but they’re carried along by one of the group’s most propulsive rock tracks. Released in the U.S. a month after the album was released. “The Story In Your Eyes” went to No 23 in the Billboard Hot 100. (The album went to No. 2 in Billboard.)

I’m not going to go into great detail about the rest of the tracks on the album, except to note that a few do stand out: “After You Came” and “You Can Never Go Home” are well-done, and the closer, “My Song,” is an ambitious statement song collage, much like the closers on the group’s previous albums. How well it works depends on whether you’re . . . well, let me put it this way: I’d like to be as impressed with it today as I was when I was 18, but I’m not. What was moving – if recognizably bombastic – in 1971 is just overkill and the source of pleasant memories in 2019.

And that’s the key there, the memories: Even though I didn’t have my own copy of the album until the late summer of 1977, evidently enough of my friends did, or I heard enough of it on KVSC, the St. Cloud State student radio station, for the album to pull me back into 1971, not as potently as a couple other albums and a few singles and album tracks, but enough so that EGBDF feels like my freshman year of college.

Assessing it as fairly as I can in 2019, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is better than the group’s late 1960s albums, and about as good as 1970’s A Question Of Balance. I’ll give it a B.

Here’s the second-best track on the album, “You Can Never Go Home.” Again, there were often no discernable gaps between the tracks, so the beginning of the song is indistinct.

No. 45 Forty-Five Years Ago

Friday, December 20th, 2019

I thought we’d drop back to the last month of 1974 today for a quick look at the Billboard Hot 100 and a game of Symmetry. Much of the music in the top of the chart, I imagine, will be familiar from the jukebox near The Table in St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center. Here’s the Top Ten from forty-five years ago:

“Cat’s In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin
“Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas
“Angie Baby” by Helen Reddy
“When Will I See You Again” by the Three Degrees
“You’re The First, My Last, My Everything” by Barry White
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by Elton John
“Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)” by Al Green
”Junior’s Farm/Sally G” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“I Can Help” by Billy Swan
“Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied)” by B.T. Express

That’s an okay set, I guess. I had to remind myself about the Al Green single with a trip to YouTube, and the very first strains of the record touched a vein of melancholy, an emotion not in short supply that month. The others are all familiar to varying degrees, but none of them were overly important during that long-ago December (although the Three Degrees single became very important not quite a year later when I was courting the young woman who eventually became the Other Half).

Even at the time, I was tired of the Harry Chapin and Billy Swan singles, and my occasionally faulty memory wants me to think that “Kung Fu Fighting” was a hit in the summer instead of the autumn. Was there a favorite among that bunch of eleven records as December 1974 headed into its last ten days? Well, maybe “Angie Baby,” Reddy’s surreal tale about the crazy radio-loving girl.

And today? How many of them are in the iPod? Only two: “Angie Baby” and “When Will I See You Again.” That says something, I guess.

And how about our work a little lower down, when we drop to No. 45 in that long-ago chart, what do we find?

Well, we find a double-sided single from James Brown, the first side of which – “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” – has the singer testifying about the sad state of the nation, ending with Brown stating, “I need to be the governor. I need to be the governor . . .” On the B-side, “Coldblooded,” he reminds us that “Every trip you got to be hipper than hip!”

The double-sided single didn’t go much further on the pop chart, peaking at No. 44. On the R&B chart, the A-side went to No. 4, so we’ll go with “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” this morning.