Saturday Single No. 370

It’s time once again to dip into one of the least-used books on my music reference shelf: Joel Whitburn’s Billboard Top 10 Album Charts. As the weekly charts in the book only go to No 10, things will be not quite as unpredictable as when we dig into the weekly singles charts, but with luck we’ll find an album that provides us with a nice track for a Saturday morning

The book starts with 1964’s charts, so we’ll by default start there. We’ll be looking at the mid-December albums in the No. 10 slots, moving ahead two years at a time until we hit December 1970. We’ll also note which albums were No. 1 during those weeks. So, let’s go to the charts.

Sitting at No. 10 on the chart released on December 12, 1964, was Something New by the Beatles. The album was another one of those Capitol cobble jobs, offering eleven tracks pulled from various sources, including five tracks that had been in the movie A Hard Day’s Night. I got my copy of the album from Rick in October 1971, when he was clearing off his LP shelves to make space – I assume – for Gram Parsons, Poco and the latter-day Byrds. As I was still working on a complete Beatles collection, that was fine with me. I was a bit baffled and amused that Something New included “Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand,” the Beatles’ German version of “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” The album has peaked earlier in the year, spending nine weeks at No. 2.

Sitting at No. 1 in mid-December 1964 was an album I’ve never heard or considered hearing: Beach Boys Concert.

Two years later, in the chart released on December 10, 1966, the No. 10 LP was another album I’ve never heard (although I’ve heard parts of it along the way): Lou Rawls’ Soulin’. From what I can tell, only one single from the album hit the charts, but that single, “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” did very well, going to No. 3 in the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 1 on the magazine’s R&B chart. I have a fair amount of Rawls’ later work on vinyl, on CD and in digital form, but I probably need to dig past the hits on his early albums. Soulin’ had peaked at No. 7 in November 1966.

The No. 1 album during mid-December 1966 was The Monkees, the first album by the group created for TV that turned out some superb single and, I’ve read, great albums. That’s another album I’ve never heard, and it’s one I maybe should.

As December reached its midpoint in 1968, the No. 10 album was the Chambers Brothers’ The Time Has Come, a sprawling album anchored by the trippy eleven-minute “Time Has Come Today.” The album, made up of several covers and some inspired funkifed and psychedelicized originals, had been released more than a year earlier, in November 1967, but an edited single of “Time Has Come Today” had gone to No. 11 in the early autumn of 1968, and that, evidently, boosted sales enough for the album to climb the chart and peak at No. 4 in November 1968. Do I have the album? Yes, in both vinyl and digital formats. Do I know it well? No, but every time a track from the album pops up in random rotation, I tell myself I need to burn the album to a CD and listen to it over and over.

The No. 1 album as 1969 sat two weeks away was Cheap Thrills by Big Brother & The Holding Company, an album I have and enjoy in small doses. (If I want a heavy dose of Janis, I listen to Pearl.)

Our last stop this morning is the chart from December 12, 1970, when the No. 10 album – on its way to No. 1 – was the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, a work that’s been in the vinyl stacks here since sometime during the summer of 1971. And it’s a work that I rarely think about, although I was reminded of it the other day when the Seventies channel on our cable system offered Helen Reddy’s cover of Yvonne Elliman’s “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” as I dozed on the couch. Did that make me want to go listen to the whole thing? No, because I listened often enough to JCS in 1971 and 1972 that I don’t think I can find anything new in it. More than any other album I can think of offhand,* Jesus Christ Superstar, with its gentle hippie Christianity, is a relic of its time.

Sitting at No. 1 in mid-December 1970 was Santana’s Abraxas, an album I know and like very well.

So we have four albums from which to select a track this morning. We’ll pass on Jesus Christ Superstar and on Something New (although I was tempted for a moment with the thought of “Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand”). That leaves us Lou Rawls or the Chambers Brothers. I clicked through a few tracks from both of the mentioned albums this morning, and in the midst of a lot of good music, I found one that grabbed me hard. That’s why “Uptown” by the Chambers Brothers is today’s Saturday Single.

*Well, perhaps the Rolling Stones’ 1967 headtrip, Their Satanic Majesties Request, is as firmly lodged in its time, too. And I suppose there might be others, but the fact remains that Jesus Christ Superstar does not translate at all well in 2013.

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2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 370”

  1. That Uuuuhhhh at the end of Time has come today is classic!

  2. Steve E. says:

    The first four Monkees albums are must-haves. They are full of songs that could have been hit singles. The fifth, sixth (the “Head” soundtrack) and seventh albums are also worth having, although the percentage of great songs isn’t as high. And I admit that I still love “JCS” all these decades later. I try to listen to it at least once a year, and I’m not religious in the slightest.

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