Saturday Single No. 249

So it’s the first Saturday in August, and the Texas Gal is busy in the kitchen making bread and butter pickles. (Last week it was dill pickles, and they’re mighty tasty; I’ll likely be writing some about our gardening results in the coming week.)

But as she pickles, I quandary: Late last evening, I came upon a reference to a great cover version of a hit song, a seemingly unlikely combination of singer and song, and it turned out to be a track I had tucked into the LP stacks. So I cleaned the record and made an mp3, and it’s sitting there. I’m tempted to present it this morning. But after some thought, I’m going to leave it on the shelves for next week, when I’ll explore cover versions of that particular song and present the one I found last evening.

That leaves me with no clear idea this morning for a Saturday tune. So I’m going to use a familiar tool and convert the date – August 6 – to 8/6 and then to 86, and we’ll run through some Billboard charts and see what was at No. 86 on August 6 over the years. We’ll start this in 1960 and move forward three years at a time. For context and for fun, we’ll also look at which record was No. 1 during those weeks.

As August moved into its second week in 1960, the No. 86 record – having peaked at No. 40 – was Paul Anka’s “I Love You In The Same Old Way.” Given Anka’s extensive catalog, I expected a slow gooey ballad when I clicked the link, but there’s kind of a ragtime/Dixieland swing to the song. It’s the kind of thing I would have liked back in 1960, but from where I listen now, I don’t think that Anka pulls off that kind of swing very well. At the same time as Anka’s record was at No. 86, the No. 1 record was one that even a six-year-old knew: Brian Hyland’s “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini.”

The Blenders were an R&B vocal group from Chicago, says Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles. The quintet – two guy and three gals at the time of their only charting single (assuming Goldie Coates to be a gal) – evidently evolved from a 1950s group that Answers.com says recorded a record titled “Don’t Play Around With Love.” An alternate take, says Answers.com, had the group singing the chorus as “Don’t f**k around with love” and creating a side that disc jockeys would hoard for their parties even if they couldn’t play it on the air. I have my doubts about the linkage between those Blenders and the Chicago quintet – I’m not sure why, and I may be wrong, but the linkage just doesn’t feel right – but anyway, in early August of 1963, the quintet was at No. 86 with “Daughter,” a nifty doo-wop/R&B record sung in the voice of a mother advising her daughter to “leave those boys alone” and get to doing her chores. The record was on its way to a peak of No. 61. At the same time, the top spot on the chart was held by “Fingertips – Pt. 2,” the first of three weeks at No. 1 for Little Stevie Wonder’s first hit.

In the spring of 1966, the Chiffons had reached No. 10 with the luminous “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” (which showed up as a Saturday Single not all that long ago). Just three months later, their “Out Of This World” was sitting at No. 86 in its first week on the chart. A pretty good girl-group single with a classic Brill Building sound, “Out Of This World” would rise only to No. 67. After that, the Chiffons – who in 1963 had reached No. 1 with “He’s So Fine” and No. 3 with “One Fine Day” – would have one more single reach the chart at No. 85, and another bubble under the Hot 100. By the end of 1966, they were gone from the chart for good. At the top of the Hot 100, the Troggs’ “Wild Thing” was in its second week at No. 1. (“Wild Thing” was also recently featured as a Saturday Single. I seem to be spending a fair amount of time in 1966 these days.)

The Blue Marble was the second album by the somewhat baroque sunshine pop group Sagittarius, produced by Gary Usher and featuring members – according to All-Music Guide – of the group Millennium, including performer and producer Curt Boettcher. The opener to the album was the group’s take on “In My Room,” a song co-written by Usher and the Beach Boys Brian Wilson. The Beach Boys’ version of the tune had gone to No. 23 in 1963, but Sagittarius’ version was sitting at No. 86 as the second week of August approached in 1969, and it would go no higher. At the same time as Sagittarius’ single peaked, Zager & Evans’ “In The Year 2525” was at No. 1 for the fifth week of a six-week run.

Paul Simon’s “America” is a sturdy song, and it had to be for Yes’ 1972 cover version to work as well as it does. I’ve only heard the ten-minute version that showed up on the 1975 compilation Yesterdays and not the 1972 single edit, whose label lists a running time of 4:06. One of the versions – the longer one, I think, but I’m not sure – also showed up on an Atlantic sampler. (I’ll have to hunt down the single version; I sense an Ebay visit coming on.) Anyway, the single edit was at No. 86 during this week in 1972, heading for a peak position at No. 46. Sitting on top of the chart during that same week was Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally),” in the third-week of a six-week stay at No. 1.

From the prog-rock whirl of Yes to the MOR pop of Helen Reddy is a leap, but that’s the jump we make as we head into 1975, a far less adventurous year than was 1972. As August wound through its second week in 1975, Reddy’s “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” was our No. 86 record, heading for a peak of No. 8 (and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart). A decent pop song, the record was Reddy’s sixth and final Top Ten hit (though she’d reach the Top 40 three more times in the next couple of years and the Hot 100 four more times after that into 1981). At the same time as Reddy’s tune was beginning its climb, the top spot on the Billboard chart was occupied by the Bee Gees’ “Jive Talkin’,” in the first of two weeks it would sit at No. 1.

Well, out of those six No. 86 records, which one do we single out this morning? (This afternoon, actually, as I have written the morning away.) The Reddy is overfamiliar, I don’t have the Yes single, and the Sagittarius entry is a little too sweet. Going back further, I’ve never really liked anything Paul Anka did (though, as I acknowledged, I would have like the arrangement of “I Love You In The Same Old Way” when I was six). And the Chiffons have been feted here not all that long ago.

That leaves the Blenders, but that’s okay. When I first heard the tune this morning, I kind of thought it would end up being my choice. So here’s “Daughter,” today’s Saturday Single:

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