Saturday Single No. 309

Well, we’ll play some Games With Numbers this morning in hopes of finding a reasonably good Saturday tune. We’ll take today’s date – 9/29 – and turn that into 38, and then take a look at the No. 38 records during the last days of six Septembers long past. And from those six, we should find at least one good record. We’ll start in 1961.

And right off the bat we run into one of the most recognizable jazz records ever to hit the Billboard Hot 100: “Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The single was pulled (well, not quite; see Yah Shure’s comment below) from the quartet’s 1959 album Time Out, which All Music Guide calls “Brubeck’s defining masterpiece” and “one of the most rhythmically innovative albums in jazz history, the first to consciously explore time signatures outside of the standard 4/4 beat or 3/4 waltz time.” With Brubeck’s piano and Paul Desmond’s sax leading the way, “Take Five” is still a marvel if a listener can get past the over-familiarity. The record was on its way to No. 25, the first of four records Brubeck would place in or near the Hot 100 between 1961 and 1964 (three with his quartet and one with Louis Armstrong).

As September 1964 ended and October began, the No. 38 record was the first charting single by a man who – despite thirteen charting or near-charting records from 1964 to 1969 – would become better known as a producer who developed one of the most distinctive sounds of the 1970s. Willie Mitchell’s “20-75” was on its way to No. 31; his only better-performing single would be “Soul Serenade,” which went to No. 23 in 1968. In the Seventies, of course, Mitchell was the main force behind Hi Records and the signature sound that boosted Al Green, Ann Peebles and so many more performers.

Three years later, the No. 38 spot on the chart was occupied by a great record in a traditional pop style that was on its way to No. 4 on the pop chart and to No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. “It Must Be Him” would be, by far, the most successful record for Vicki Carr, who was born Florencia Martinez Cardona in El Paso, Texas. Carr’s first chart presence had been a cover of the Crystals’ hit “He’s A Rebel,” which had bubbled under at No. 115 in 1962. After “It Must Be Him,” she’d reach the Top 40 a couple more times and put eight records in or near the Hot 100, but nothing would ever do as well or be as good as 1967’s “It Must Be Him.”

What was Bread’s greatest record? Many folks whose opinions I respect opt for the shimmering and beautiful “If.” I’ve read arguments for “Diary” or “Aubrey,” and I think a case might be made – acknowledging personal bias – for “It Don’t Matter To Me.” All of those are worthy candidates from a catalog filled with lovely tunes and great records. But I wonder if the group’s first hit, “Make It With You,” might not be better than all of them, simply because it was the first and because it was the group’s only No. 1 hit. The first time I heard the record on KDWB – I was working in the pit at the state trap shoot during the summer of 1970 – I knew in an instant that I’d never heard anything quite like it. And as September ended that year, “Make It With You” was at No. 38 and was making its way back down the chart.

Three years later, the blues show up, as B.B. King’s “To Know You Is To Love You” was at its peak position at No. 38 thirty-nine years ago today. The record was evidently an edit (it could also be another take or another mix) of the eight-minute title track jam on King’s 1973 album, To Know You Is To Love You. Written by Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright, the record was the thirty-ninth of an eventual forty-seven records King would place in or near the Hot 100 between 1957 and 1989. The record went to No. 12 on the R&B chart.

The film American Graffiti, released in 1973, was maybe the most visible of the various triggers that touched off a mid-1970s period of pop culture nostalgia for the 1950s (not withstanding the fact that the film was set in 1962). Among the beneficiaries of that trend was the group Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids, who performed in the movie as Herbie and the Heartbeats, covering “At The Hop” and “Louie, Louie” and adding the original composition “She’s So Fine.” The group then had some chart success, putting four singles in or near the Hot 100 from early 1974 into the autumn of 1976. That latter season was when “Did You Boogie (With Your Baby)” – featuring spoken interludes from Wolfman Jack – went to No. 29. During the last days of September, the record was at No. 38, heading north.

So those are our candidates this morning, and I really like five of the six, and even the sixth – the Flash Cadillac tune – is fun. Narrowing this down to one record is tough. But as often happens in these precincts, the blues trump the entire deck. I couldn’t find the single version of the B.B. King record, but the album version will more than meet our needs this morning. Based on the album credits, I’m guessing that Stevie Wonder is on keys with the Memphis Horns joining in on “To Know You Is To Love You,” today’s Saturday Single.

(Modified slightly after first posting.)

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2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 309”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    Good ones, all. First I’ve ever heard the B.B. King record; the music director at my college station must’ve passed on it at the time.

    I tried many years ago to edit the Brubeck “Take Five” single from the stereo ‘Time Out’ CD track before quickly realizing that it couldn’t be done. The mono 45 was an entirely different take, made specifically for single release.

  2. porky says:

    Bread was really great and NOT a guilty pleasure to me. Earlier this year I found the 45 of “Dismal Day” and had never heard it. Really good but didn’t have “hit” stamped on it like their others.

    CIRCA ’74 the “Mother Freedom” riff rivaled that of “Smoke on the Water” as what a teenager would strum trying out a guitar in a music store.

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