Archive for the ‘Games With Numbers’ Category

Saturday Single No. 645

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

It’s time for Games With Numbers!

We’re going to take the numerals from today’s date – 6/15/19 – and add them together to get 40. Then we’re going to look at four Billboard Hot 100s from the mid-point of June and see what we find at No. 40. We’ll use the chart in each year closest to June 15, and along the way, we’ll note the No. 1 and No. 2 records of those weeks. I think we’ll start in 1966 and jump three years at a time, hitting 1969, 1972 and 1975 along the way.

And we start with a country crossover lament: “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me” by Eddy Arnold. He was, of course, one of the giants of post-World War II country, putting 128 records into the Billboard country chart between 1945 and 1982, with twenty-eight of them reaching No. 1. He had twenty-nine records chart on the Hot 100; his highest ranking record there was 1965’s “Make The World Go Away,” which got to No. 6. As to “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me,” it would go no higher than the No. 40 spot where we found it on the June 18, 1966, chart. On the country chart, it got to No. 2, and it went to No. 9 on the magazine’s easy listening chart. It’s a pretty record, but it doesn’t scratch any itches for me.

Parked at No. 1 during mid-June 1966 was “Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones, while the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind” was at No. 2.

Off we go to mid-June in 1969, and we find ourselves a chewy piece of bubblegum: The No. 40 record on June 14, 1969, was “Special Delivery” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. The Fruitgum Company wasn’t really a band, of course; it was a revolving group of players brought together by producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz to back lead singer Joey Levine, who also sang lead on records for Ohio Express, Crazy Elephant and Reunion (and maybe more, I suppose). By the time June 1969 rolled around, the Fruitgum Company had put three singles into the Top Ten: “Simon Says,” “1, 2, 3, Red Light,” and “Indian Giver.” But the group’s brand of bubblegum had lost it flavor, it seems, as “Special Delivery” would stall at No. 38. The group had only two more singles reach the Hot 100, one reaching No. 57 and the other bubbling under at No. 118. “Special Delivery” is catchy, of course, but nothing much, except I do love the saxophone intros.

The No. 1 record as the middle of June 1969 approached was “Get Back” by the Beatles with Billy Preston; sitting at No. 2 was “Love Theme From ‘Romeo & Juliet’” by Henry Mancini and his orchestra.

Next up is 1972, and the record that sat at No. 40 in the Hot 100 released on June 17 was the mournful plaint (with a few power moments mixed in) of “All The King’s Horses” by Aretha Franklin. There’s no point in digging too deeply into the astounding numbers; it’s enough to say that “All The King’s Horses” was the fifty-fourth single Franklin had put in or near the Hot 100, with another thirty-four to come. The record was on its way to No. 26; it went to No. 7 (along with its B-side, “April Fools”) on the magazine’s R&B chart. I like it, but the shift from plaintive to powerful along the way disorients me; maybe it’s supposed to, but I find it distracting.

Sitting atop the Hot 100 at mid-June 1972 was “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr., and “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers was at No. 2.

And as we reach our final stop of 1975, we find ourselves a sweet ballad, Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue.” It was the first of an eventual eleven Hot 100 hits for Manchester, with two more bubbling under. It was on its way to No. 6, and it spent two weeks at the top of the magazine’s easy listening chart. And it’s a potent earworm: Just reading the title off the chart this morning, I hear in my head, “Whatever it is, it’ll keep ’til the morning . . .” And it brings back in full the summer of ’75, a great season in the middle of one of the most potent years of my life.

The No. 1 record in the Hot 100 released June 14, 1975, was America’s “Sister Golden Hair.” Parked at No. 2 was “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain & Tenille.

So, as we look for a single for this mid-June Saturday, I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the first three candidates we found. I was on the verge of offering up “Special Delivery” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company simply because it was bubblegum, which doesn’t get a lot of play here. But the instant the first words of “Midnight Blue” sailed into my head, I was lost. And a quick check of the archives tells me that I’ve mentioned the record only twice in twelve-and-a-half years (has it truly been that long?) and have never posted it here.

So here, from the summer of 1975, is Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 631

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

We took a brief look earlier this week at the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1971 – No. 48 Forty-Eight Years Ago – winding up with a very familiar and very loved record, Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over The Line,” as our feature. This morning, we’re going to look at the first week of March 1971 at the Twin Cities’ KDWB.

Here’s the Top Ten in the station’s 6+30 for March 1 of that year, forty-eight years ago yesterday:

“D.O.A.” by Bloodrock
“One Bad Apple” by the Osmonds
“She’s A Lady” by Tom Jones
“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Sweet Mary” by Wadsworth Mansion
“Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
“For All We Know” by the Carpenters
“Watching Scotty Grow” by Bobby Goldsboro
“Mama’s Pearl” by the Jackson 5

Well, that’s a wide-ranging ten. I love the Lightfoot, the Creedence and “Sweet Mary.” I like “For All We Know” and “One Bad Apple.” I’m a little better than okay with “Mr. Bojangles” and “She’s A Lady.” ‘Mama’s Pearl” means nothing to me, either way. I dislike “D.O.A.” And I detest the Goldsboro record with the kind of fervor I feel for “Seasons In The Sun.”

But we’re going to go random, playing games with numbers and making today’s date – 3/2/19 – into 24 and see what was at No. 24 in that first 6-30 of March 1971.

And we come up with a B.J. Thomas record whose title sparks no memories: “No Love At All.” And of course, as the first chords of the record come up at YouTube, I recognize them, and as the song plays on, I remember hearing it and liking it as a seventeen-year-old who was pretty damned lonely. “Even the sad love is better than no love at all,” Thomas told me from my old RCA radio.

But from the perspective of forty-eight years, taking in my experiences and those of many friends with lots of loves, I’m not sure I can buy anymore all of what the song is selling:

Read in the paper nearly day
People breakin’ up and just walkin’ away from love and that’s wrong
That’s so wrong

A happy little home comes up for sale
Because two fools have tried and failed to get along
And you know that’s wrong

A man hurts a woman and a woman hurts a man
When neither one of them will love and understand
And take it with a grain of salt

Oh, now believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad love is better than no love at all
Got to believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And any kind of love is better than no love at all

No love at all is a poor old man
Standin’ on the corner with his hat in his hand
And no place to go, he’s feelin’ low

No love at all is a child in the street
Dodgin’ traffic and beggin’ to eat on a tenement row
And that’s a long row to hoe

No love at all is a troubled young girl
Standin’ on a bridge at the end of the world
And it’s a pretty short fall

Now people believe me
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad love is better than no love at all
Got to believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And any kind of love is better than no love at all

Oh, you got to believe me
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad is better than no love at all

It all depends, I guess, on how one defines “bad love,” and it seems to me there are some scenarios in there that are best moved past. But I guess that just as one shouldn’t expect one’s therapist to sing like a recording artist, one shouldn’t expect a singer to provide entirely useful counseling.

“No Love At All” peaked at No. 10 on KDWB three weeks later. In Billboard, the record peaked at No. 16. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 629

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

We’re going to head over the Airhead Radio Survey Archives today and play some Games With Numbers. We’re going to find four surveys from widely differing geographic areas, and then we’ll take today’s date – 2/16/19 – and turn that into 37. And we’ll see what’s at No. 37 on those four surveys. One of those four records will be today’s Saturday Single.

Along the way, we’ll check out – as we generally do – the No. 1 record on those surveys. As for the year, I think we’ll go forty-five years back and see what was on the air in February 1974.

We’ll start on the West Coast, checking out the Pop Sound of Southern California, as offered by KOLA of San Bernardino. Sitting at No. 37 forty-five years ago today was “Pepper Box” by the Peppers. The Peppers were, says Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, a “pop instrumental studio duo from Paris,” with Mat Camison on synths and Pierre Dahan on drums.

The record is two-and-a-half minutes of not very inspired wheedling melody backed with a basic rhythm track. It probably seemed revolutionary in 1974. The record was new that week to KOLA’s survey, and in about three weeks it would make its way into the Billboard chart, peaking at No. 76 on the Hot 100. It was the Peppers’ only record to reach the Hot 100. (The title triggered a memory, so I checked the archives: “Pepper Box” was mentioned here about five years ago when I spent some time checking out a survey from March 1974 at KUPK of Garden City, Kansas.)

The No. 1 record forty-five years ago at KOLA was Terry Jacks’ “Seasons In The Sun.”

We’ll head to the mountains for our next stop, digging into the weekly survey at Denver’s KTLK, where the No. 37 rung was taken up by “Jungle Boogie” by Kool & The Gang, which is familiar, I would imagine, to anyone who hangs around this joint. The record had just entered KTLK’s survey that week.

Nationally, “Jungle Boogie” would, of course, be one of Kool & The Gang’s biggest hits, grunting its way to No. 4 in the Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart.

The No. 1 record at KTLK forty-five years ago this week was also “Seasons In The Sun.”

We’ll head a long ways southeast from Denver and check out “South Florida’s Top Selling Music” as compiled by WQAM of Miami. The No. 37 record there forty-five years ago today was “I Love” by country artists Tom T. Hall. The saccharine list of the things that Hall loves – including little fuzzy pups, bourbon in a glass, honest open smiles, tomatoes on the vine “and you” – was in its first week on the WQAM survey.

Nationally, “I Love” went to No. 12 on the Hot 100, No. 2 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart and spent two weeks at No. 1 on the magazine’s country chart.

Then No. 1 record at MQAM forty-five years ago was “Love’s Theme” by the Love Unlimited Orchestra.

We finish our journey with a stop at WCFL in Chicago, where the Super CFL Survey showed Elton John’s “Bennie & The Jets” holding down spot No. 37 in its first week on the survey. The record, of course, went to No. 1 on the Hot 100.

And the No. 1 record at WCFL during that long-ago week was Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were.”

So our choices come down to “I Love,” “Bennie & The Jets,” “Jungle Boogie” or “Pepper Box.” The gods of randomness have disappointed us this time. So we’ll go with rarity. Here’s “Pepper Box” by the Peppers, today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 628

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

Since we’ve been in a Games With Numbers groove lately, I thought we’d continue that and do a random thing with a Billboard Hot 100 that was released on a February 9. The first one we came across in our folder here was from 1959, sixty years ago today.

The No. 1 record from that chart was Lloyd Price’s “Stagger Lee,” a good one without a doubt. But in keeping with the games we’ve been playing lately, we’re going to see what was at No. 60 sixty years ago today.

And we find, as we did a few weeks ago, Conway Twitty, this time with “The Story Of My Love.” The record, the third that Twitty would place in the Hot 100, was on its way up and would eventually peak at No. 28. As we noted in our post a few weeks ago, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Twitty was a regular presence on the pop charts and shifted to a focus on country music around 1962 (although he had a few records cross over after that date).

The record’s all right, but not much more than that. I don’t care for the introduction, and after that it’s just kind of okay. But for good or ill, “The Story Of My Love” by Conway Twitty is today’s Saturday Single.

‘Breathless’

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

A little more than a month ago, while digging into tracks recorded on November 24, I noted a difficulty in tracking the performance of “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover” as recorded on November 24, 1941, by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra. I wrote, “My reference library has a historical gap in it; Pop Memories gets me to 1940, and [Joel] Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles picks things up in 1955. For the fifteen years in between, I’m on my own.”

Pop HitsWell, I am on my own no longer. One of the Christmas gift the Texas Gal gave me this week was Joel Whitburn’s Billboard Pop Hits, subtitled Singles & Albums 1940-1954. That means I now have the tools necessary to make mistakes about music throughout the Twentieth Century.

I’ve not yet spent a lot of time digging into the book. The holiday and household chores it delayed have kept me busy. But I plan to spend some time paging through and browsing later today. For now, I think I’m going to play some Games With Numbers. I’ll take today’s date – 12/27/18 – and go to Page 57 in the book. I’ll find the twelfth listed record, and we’ll see if we get lucky. (If the twelfth listed record is not available at YouTube, we’ll move to the eighteenth and see how that goes.)

We land on a 1942 record credited to Shep Fields & His New Music: “Breathless.” The record was the first with that credits. Until then, Fields’ reed-heavy music had been credited to Shep Fields & His Rippling Rhythm Orchestra.

Fields, who was born in 1910 in Brooklyn, formed his own band in 1929, and starting in 1936, was a fixture in the charts for the next four years, charting thirty-six records between 1936 and 1943. Seven of those records went to No. 1, with the most successful being 1939’s “South Of The Border (Down Mexico Way),” which stayed on top of the chart for five weeks.

“Breathless,” the tune we landed on today, came near the end of Fields’ run on the charts. It wasn’t a national hit; the information in Billboard Pop Hits says that “Breathless” spent one week at No. 17 on the magazine’s Midwestern Best Sellers chart. Beyond that, perhaps the most interesting thing about “Breathless” is that – as Whitburn notes – the vocal was performed by Ken Curtis, who twenty-some years later would achieve fame by portraying the character Festus on the television show Gunsmoke.

Here’s “Breathless.”

Saturday Single No. 621

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

It’s time for Games With Numbers!

We’re going to take today’s date – 12/22/18 – and add those numbers together in four ways to get 30, 34, 40 and 52, and then armed with those integers, take a look at a Billboard Hot 100 that was released on a December 22. We’ll check out the records at those positions and choose ourselves a Saturday Single. (As is our wont when we do these things, we’ll note the No. 1 record of the week.)

During the spread of years we’re generally interested in, we have four Hot 100s to choose from, released in 1958, 1962, 1973 and 1979. Although we’ve visited them occasionally, the two on the ends of that list don’t interest me this morning. And we do a lot of playing in the early Seventies. So we’re going to take a look at 1962, starting from the lowest ranked record and moving up.

Right off, we come to a name that’s been rare around here: Bobby Rydell, whose record “The Cha-Cha-Cha” is sitting at No. 52. A quick search shows that there have been only four posts where his name has popped up and only one post where his music has been shared; that was a look at the Twist craze in the spring of 1962, and the record we listened to then was a duet by Rydell and Twistmaster Chubby Checker (placed together because their labels, Cameo and Parkway, were sister firms). Rydell is an exemplar of a type of artist I don’t much care for, the teen idol. I lump him with Fabian, Bobby Vee and a bunch of others that labels found in the years between Clear Lake and Liverpool. (Other eras had their teen idols, to be sure. Leif Garrett, anyone?) He wasn’t the worst of them; nor was he the best. In our December 22 chart, “The Cha-Cha-Cha” was on its way down from No. 10, and it’s a pretty feeble piece of work.

So we move up twelve places to No. 40 and find ourselves listening to “Monsters’ Holiday” by Bobby (Boris) Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers, a Christmas-themed sequel to “Monster Mash,” which had spent two weeks at No. 1 in October. “Holiday” went to No. 30, and we’ll leave it sit there.

A trifle distressed, we move up six steps and find more Christmas joy, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” by the 4 Seasons, heading up the chart to an eventual peak at No. 23. Admission: I am not a fan of holiday music unless it was produced by Phil Spector, sung by Darlene Love, written/adapted from folk songs by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, or has a big honking saxophone solo by Clarence Clemons. And there are some tunes that don’t survive Frankie Valli’s falsetto. So the 4 Seasons record leaves me colder than December in Moscow. At least it’s less than two minuntes long.

So as we ascend to the last of our numbers in play, I am despondent. And we find redemption at No. 30 in “He’s A Rebel,” one of the little symphonies for kids constructed with regularity in the early 1960s by Phil Spector, an admittedly evil genius. Sung by the Blossoms (with Darlene Love taking the lead) but credited by Spector to the Crystals, “He’s A Rebel” is one of Spector’s greatest records, with the Wrecking Crew – including Steve Douglas, who contributed the sax solo – and the Blossoms at the tops of their games. The record was on its way down the chart after spending two weeks at No. 1, and is probably the best thing we could have heard anywhere this morning.

As always, we note the No. 1 record, and fifty-six years ago today, that was the Tornadoes’ “Telstar.” We approve.

Given the four to choose from, we have an easy choice. Actually, out of the thousands and thousands of possibilities that float through here, we’d almost always have an easy choice; there aren’t many records I would choose over “He’s A Rebel.” (No, it didn’t make my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox, but it is among the 3,900 or so on the iPod.) So let’s just listen again (and again) to “He’s A Rebel by the Crystals (Blossoms!), today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 605

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Well, as I opened my Word file this morning and typed in today’s date, I noticed that August 18, 2018 scans out to 8-18-18, and if there were ever a date begging for Games With Numbers, today’s is one of them.

So we’re going to take those numbers and turn them into Nos. 8, 18, 26, 36 and 44 and then visit a Billboard Hot 100 to see what treasures or dross we might find. The question is, what year? I think we’ll take the largest of those numbers and head back forty-four years to August of 1974. I spent that month working halftime in the cataloging department of the St. Cloud State Learning Resources Center and killing time, hanging around with my friends at The Table and waiting for school to resume and for my friends from the Denmark program to come back to St. Cloud. So what do we find as we dip into the Hot 100 from the third week of August 1974?

Heading to our lowest searching point first, we find Mac Davis singing about “One Hell Of A Woman.” The record, heading to a peak at No. 11, would be Davis’ first Top 40 hit since 1972, when “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” spent three weeks at No. 1. I’ve evidently not thought much about “One Hell Of A Woman,” as it’s not on the digital shelves (though couple of other Davis tracks are), but listening to it this morning, it’s a decent piece of Seventies pop, better musically than lyrically. As I look at that Hot 100 from August of 1974, I notice that by the time Davis’ record got to No. 44, it had already been in the chart for twenty-two weeks. That seems like a long time to get to that point. (The only other record that had been in the Hot 100 longer that week was the Stylistics’ “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” which, in its twenty-three weeks on the chart, had spent two weeks at No. 2 and was at No. 93, slowly making its way out of the chart.)

We move up eight spots to No. 36, where we find Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” making its way to a peak of No. 8. Some years ago, I wrote:

I don’t have a lot to say about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” except to note two things about the record that went to No. 8 in 1974: First, the ambiguous second verse that seems to have defended Alabama Governor George Wallace doesn’t actually do so, according to a 1975 interview with the late Ronnie Van Zant, co-writer of the song. Second, I think the current Alabama license plate is just perfect:


I’m not entirely certain, but it appears, sadly, as if that plate is no longer available.

We jump ten spots to No. 26, where Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothin,” buoyed by doo-wop vocals from the Jackson 5, is heading toward No. 1. The record, says Wikipedia, “was one of [Wonder’s] angriest political statements and was aimed squarely at President Richard Nixon, who resigned two days after the record’s release.” Although there were numerous criminal and political reasons for Nixon’s resignation, it’s fun to indulge in a revisionist fantasy that has Nixon combing the AM band late at night, hearing Wonder’s thumping and funky put-down coming through the ether, and realizing, “Damn, if I’ve lost Stevie Wonder, I’ve lost the nation. I’d better call it quits.”

Speaking of thumping, moving up to No. 18, we find “Wild Thing” as offered by the English group Fancy. The record wasn’t a major departure from the Troggs’ original version, which went to No. 1 in 1966. Well, the breathy vocals of Helen Caunt and that twee little synth solo were different. Otherwise, the record plodded along as it headed toward a peak at No. 14. It was one of two U.S. hits for Fancy; “Touch Me” went to No. 19 during the first week of December 1974. (As I dug into Fancy’s work at YouTube, I noticed with some amusement that one video poster called Fancy a “[b]argain bin band that still had some talent on board.”)

Our last stop as we climb up the Hot 100 from August 24, 1974, is No. 8, where we find Donny and Marie Osmond covering Dale and Grace’s No. 1 hit from 1963, “I’m Leaving It Up To You,” though the Osmonds adjusted the title, making it “I’m Leaving It (All) Up To You.” The record, inoffensive and bland, was heading to a peak at No. 4. It was the first of six Top 40 hits for the brother-and-sister duo; Donny, of course, had a bushel of hits on his own and with his brothers, some of which were pretty decent.

Just because we do this, I should note that the No. 1 record in that August 24, 1974, Hot 100 was the execrable “(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka with Odia Coates.

So we’ve listened to a wide range of stuff this morning, but only one record really grabs me. From its funk and its “Doo-da-wop!” chant to its message, Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothin” resonates, and that’s why it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 602

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

It’s mid-afternoon. We’ve been out running errands (and having a larger-than-necessary lunch), and I’m utterly whacked. But the idea of leaving this Saturday space empty while I’m home distresses me.

So I’m going to open up my file of the Billboard Hot 100 from today’s date forty-five years ago – July 28, 1973 – and play Games With Numbers, turning today’s date, 7/28/18, into 53. Then we’re going to go to that Hot 100 and see what was at No. 53 forty-five years ago today.

And we land on the first charting single by David Gates after the group Bread split up for the first time in 1973. “Clouds” was an edit pulled from the album track “Suite: Clouds, Rain” on Gates’ album First. The single peaked at No 47 during an eight-week stay on the Hot 100 and went to No. 3 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. Gates would have six more singles hit the Hot 100, with the best-performing being 1977’s “Goodbye Girl,” the title song from the movie starring Richard Dreyfuss, which went to No. 15.

The musicians on First are all, for the most part, familiar: Jimmy Getzoff, Jim Gordon, Jim Horn, John Guerin, Larry Carlton, Larry Knechtel, Louie Shelton, Mike Botts, and Russ Kunkel. And of course, “Clouds” – and the rest of the album, for that matter – sounds very much like Bread (so much so that the only video available at YouTube of the single edit of “Clouds” ascribed the track to Bread).

For all that, “Clouds” is a very pretty and rather slight track, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Chart Digging: Four Julys

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

It seems that there were only four times during the years that interest us here that Billboard published on July 25: 1960, 1964, 1970, and 1981. The gaps between years – one remarkably short and another remarkably long – came for two reasons. First, I think that the magazine shifted its publication date from Monday to Saturday, creating the four-year gap between the first two charts we’ll look at; and then, the insertion of Leap Year Day – February 29 – into 1976 shifted days, so that July 25 moved from a Friday in 1975 to a Sunday in 1976.

All of that leads us to confirm an idea hatched here some years ago that anything that happens because of February 29 does nothing but cause trouble. Anyway, we have four instances of a Billboard Hot 100 to examine this morning, and we’re going to play some Games With Numbers, turning today’s date, 7-25, into No. 32 and see what treasures may lie at that spot in those four charts. We’ll also, as we customarily do, check out the No. 1 record for each of those weeks. So let’s get underway:

During this week in 1960, when a six-year-old whiteray was wandering through the summer before second grade, he and his pals were probably unaware of anything on the Hot 100 except perhaps Brian Hyland’s “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini” because the title was fun to sing and it was a little bit daring. I’m not certain what my pals knew beyond that fifty-eight years ago, but I certainly was unaware that “Pennies From Heaven” by the Skyliners was sitting at No. 32.

In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn describes the group from Pittsburgh as a doo-wop outfit, and that certainly held true for 1959’s “Since I Don’t Have You,” but the group’s cover of “Pennies From Heaven” sounds more like Vegas and the Rat Pack than an East Coast serenade from a brownstone’s step. The record had peaked the week earlier at No. 24 and was on its way down the chart. It was the last of three Top 40 hits for the Skyliners, although they kept trying, releasing singles into the late 1970s.

I wasn’t listening to KDWB at the time, of course, but from what I can see at Oldiesloon, “Pennies From Heaven” never reached the station’s survey.

The No. 1 record in the Hot 100 fifty-eight years ago today was Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry.” (And in my head, I hear Golden Earring.)

We jump ahead four years to the summer of 1964, when sixth grade (and an intense crush on a young lady who lived about ten blocks south on Kilian Boulevard) was approaching but still out of sight. Parked at No. 32 fifty-four years ago today was the classic “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups, heading toward a three-week stay at No. 1. Do I remember it from then or just from repeated hearings over the years since? I have no idea (and that’s true of many records from before, oh, 1967 or so). Over the next year, the Dixie Cups placed five more records in or near the Hot 100, including the classic “Iko Iko,” which went to No. 20 in 1965. (That record, Whitburn notes, was a reworking of “Jock-O-Mo,” written and recorded in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford & His Cane Cutters.)

At KDWB, “Chapel of Love” peaked at No. 3, parking there for three weeks.

The No. 1 record in the Hot 100 fifty-four summers ago this week was “Rag Doll” by the Four Seasons.

By the summer of 1970, the next time Billboard released a Hot 100 on July 25, I was a dedicated Top 40 listener, so one would expect familiarity at No. 32. And that’s just what we get with “In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry. The record came from a skiffle band from England, with Ray Dorset on vocals, and it was seemingly everywhere that summer, reaching No. 3 in the Hot 100. (It also went to No. 30 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.) But I’m not altogether sure where I heard it, as the record never made the KDWB 6+30 survey, according to the lists at Oldiesloon. Well, no matter where I heard it, it seemed to be everywhere, and the lines “If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal. If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel,” seem now to be awful advice.

As it happens, “In The Summertime” is a perfect one-hit wonder, as the group never had any other records reach the Hot 100 or even bubble under.

(As the note below from faithful reader Yah Shure makes clear, “In The Summertime” did get plenty of air play on KDWB, which is what I recalled. I clearly messed up the search somehow and did not trust my memory and look again. Note added August 7, 2018.)

The No. 1 record in the July 25, 1970, Hot 100 was “(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters.

And from 1970, we jump to July 25, 1981, smack in the middle of one of the six summers I spent as a reporter for the Monticello Times. As I’ve noted many times more than once here, I was listening less and less to Top 40 during those days, first because I had less leisure time and also because I liked what I was hearing less and less. Still, I do remember that week’s No. 32 record, “America” by Neil Diamond.

One of three Top Ten hits from Diamond’s movie The Jazz Singer, “America” had peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100 and spent three weeks on the top of the Adult Contemporary chart. (The other two hits from the movie were “Love On The Rocks,” which went to No. 2, and “Hello Again,” which peaked at No. 6.) Diamond, of course, had a lengthy list of records in the Billboard charts, with the 2009 edition of Top Pop Singles showing fifty-six records in the Hot 100.

There are no 1981 surveys from KDWB at Oldiesloon, nor are there any from WDGY, the Twin Cities’ other Top 40 station.

Sitting at No. 1 thirty-seven years ago today was “The One That You Love” by Air Supply.

Chart Digging: Four Julys

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

It’s time to dig into some Billboard Hot 100s from a few different Julys. We’re going to play some Games With Numbers and turn today’s date – 7/11/18 – into 36, and check out the No. 36 record on four charts, starting in 1976 and heading back four years at a time.

As we customarily do when we play these games, we’ll check out the No. 1 record for those weeks at the same time.

The second week of July 1976 found the country recovering from its Bicentennial celebration, the climax of what seemed at the time to have been about five years of preparation and marketing. If you didn’t have something Bicentennial themed in your house, you were either unpatriotic or worse, a spoilsport. Anyway, just less than a week after the hoopla reached its climax, the No. 36 record in the Hot 100 was a discofied version of one of the greatest and most familiar pieces of classical music: “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band, which was heading up the charts to No. 1. (It would reach No. 10 on the magazine’s R&B chart and No. 13 on what was then called the Easy Listening chart.)

It was the only Top 40 hit for Murphy, who had been an arranger for Doc Severinsen and the orchestra for The Tonight Show. (That means there’s only one degree of separation, as folks say, between me and Murphy, as I’ve met Doc Severinsen twice.). Two other releases, “Flight ’76,” based on Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and 1982’s “Themes from E.T. (The Extra-terrestrial),” went to Nos. 44 and 47 respectively. And Murphy’s condensed and discofied take on George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 102 in early 1977.

The No. 1 record during the second week of July 1976 was “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band.

Heading back four years from that puts us in the summer of 1972, when I was working half-time as a janitor and planning a trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba, with my pals Rick and Gary. (The ease with which we crossed from the U.S. into Canada that summer now astounds me. We showed the Canadian officials our driver’s licenses and the hand-written letter my dad had supplied that gave us his permission to take my 1961 Falcon – which Dad technically owned – across the border. Returning to Minnesota a few days later was just as easy. Simpler times.) Anyway, the No. 36 record as our plans for our trip were taking shape was a pairing of song and singer that itself echoed a time a decade earlier that in 1972 seemed much simpler: “Sealed With A Kiss” by Bobby Vinton.

Vinton’s version doesn’t stray far from the feel of Brian Hyland’s 1962 version that went to No. 3, and both are appreciably less mournful – to my ears, anyway – than the non-charting 1960 original by the Four Voices. Vinton’s version was on its way to No. 19 (No. 2, Easy Listening) during the second week of July. It was the thirty-eighth record Vinton had in or near the Hot 100 in a ten year period. He’d add eleven more through 1981 before the hits ran out.

Parked at No. 1 that week in 1972 was Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.”

We’ve dallied a lot in recent months in the memorable year of 1968, but a four-year retreat from 1972 finds us there once again. And – as I’ve noted here many times before – it was likely around this time that I spent four days working at the state trap shoot, getting dirty with tar dust and listening to the radio for eight or so hours each day. Nevertheless, I don’t recall KDWB offering me Wilson Pickett’s “I’m A Midnight Mover” during those four days. It was sitting at No. 36 fifty years ago this week, and if I heard it then, if just didn’t make an impression, which – based on a listening this morning – seems unlikely.

The record peaked at No. 24 on the Hot 100 (and at No. 6 on the R&B chart), one of the forty-three records Pickett placed in or near the Hot 100 between 1963 and 1973 (with forty of his records reaching the R&B Top 40).

The No. 1 record during that week in July 1968 was “This Guy’s In Love With You” by Herb Alpert.

Whatever I may have been doing during in early July 1964, it hasn’t stuck in my memory. I was ten, with sixth grade at Lincoln Elementary on the horizon, and I was probably just finishing up summer school. That might have been the year my summer classmates and I were featured in the Shopping News for building a fake igloo for our studies on Alaska. In any case, I’m sure I spent a lot of time with Rick, both of us lazing away summer days in a way that I’m certain kids these days are not allowed to do. We didn’t really listen to pop music then, but we no doubt heard it when we were around older kids. Still, I would guess that Terry Stafford’s “I’ll Touch A Star” – the No. 36 record fifty-four years ago this week – was something we missed.

The record was Stafford’s follow-up to his No. 3 hit, “Suspicion,” and like that record, it was a bit of traditional pop in a time when the charts were mixing traditional pop and R&B and English hits and surf sounds and light jazz in such a way that listening to a Top 40 station would have been an adventure. “I’ll Touch A Star” peaked at No. 25 (No. 4 Easy Listening, where, surprisingly, “Suspicion” had failed to chart). Stafford had only one more record tickle the Hot 100: “Follow The Rainbow” bubbled under at No. 101 later that summer in 1964. He went on to place a few records in the bottom half of the country Top 40 in the 1970s.

The No. 1 record during the second week of July in 1964 was “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys.

(It’s interesting to note that – based on a little bit of digging – this post marks the first time that I’ve ever featured the music of Terry Stafford, Bobby Vinton or Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band. I’ve mentioned Vinton frequently and Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band a few times. Until today, I’ve never mentioned Terry Stafford over the course of some 2,100 posts.)