Saturday Single No. 558

Looking for inspiration this morning, I took a glance at the top ten albums in the Billboard 200 from September 24, 1977, forty years ago this week:

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Star Wars soundtrack
Moody Blue by Elvis Presley
JT by James Taylor
Shaun Cassidy by Shaun Cassidy
Commodores by the Commodores
CSN by Crosby, Stills & Nash
Foreigner by Foreigner
Going For The One by Yes
The Floaters by the Floaters

We were slowly moving into a time when what was popular was no longer what I wanted to hear. Only three of those albums – the Fleetwood Mac, the James Taylor, and the Star Wars soundtrack – ever made it onto the vinyl stacks.

But there were no surprises as I scanned my way down the list this morning, at least until the very end. The Floaters? Who in the hell were the Floaters? As I limped to the shelf where I keep my reference books, I surmised that the Floaters were likely an R&B group, as it wasn’t rare for an R&B act do well nationally but get little exposure or airplay in the St. Cloud of the late 1970s. Or maybe there had been airplay, but I wasn’t paying attention.

And I was right. The Floaters – as maybe most of those who stop by here already know – were an R&B group, hailing from Detroit. The self-titled album that was No. 10 forty years ago was their first; they recorded three more albums in the next four years, according to Discogs, the last with, evidently, a female vocalist named Shu-Ga. Their single history goes back to 1965, when they released a record – “Down By The Seashore” – with Kenny Gamble before he was Kenny Gamble. It didn’t chart, and it wasn’t until 1976 that the Floaters were heard from again, with “I’m So Glad I Took My Time” released as a non-charting single ahead of its being included on The Floaters.

So there’s all of that (and more, if I wanted to go through every single the Floaters released), but our interest is that debut album, the one that peaked at No. 10, because it did sprout one massive single: “Float On.”

The single topped the Billboard R&B chart for six weeks during a seventeen-week run that started during the summer of 1977. Over on the Hot 100, “Float On” peaked with a two-week stay at No. 2, blocked from the top spot by first, Andy Gibb’s “I Just Want To Be Your Everything,” and then, the Emotions’ “Best Of My Love.”

The single is not quite my deal; having each member of the group introducing himself to some imaginary lady is, to me, lame. But the chorus hangs with me, and anyway, when I discover a smash hit forty years late, I sort of feel as if I need to acknowledge it. That means that the Floaters’ “Float On” is today’s Saturday Single.

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2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 558”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    This was still a couple weeks before I joined the sales staff at WJON, so I don’t really recall whether or not the station aired “Float On.” But I’d venture the chances were pretty good that it did get spins, because the station did play Cheech & Chong’s “Bloat On” for a few weeks after I had climbed aboard.

    On the other hand, I don’t specifically recall seeing “Float On” in the station’s flashback 45s library. It might’ve never tested or sold particularly well in St. Cloud, which I wouldn’t have found surprising. Your assessment that a lot of R&B didn’t fare well in St. Cloud is spot-on; WJON’s internal call-out and sales research consistently showed the same results. That was also true for Minneapolis-St. Paul throughout the ’60s and ’70s.

    And I know what you mean about

  2. Yah Shure says:

    Whoops! Forgot to finish that last thought:

    I know what you mean about what was popular no longer being what you wanted to hear. I know our friend jb would beg to differ (boy, *would* he), but 1976 was the year when I began to notice that I was losing my enthusiasm for much of what was making the most impact on the charts.

    The defining moment came in 1977, when “Undercover Angel” came out, and I remember thinking, “this is SO lame.” The salvation for me was keeping a foot in the door at my college station those two years. There was still plenty of great stuff coming out, but it was becoming increasingly harder to hear it on the top-40 stations. The more muscular hits were gradually being nudged aside for the likes of “Sad Eyes.”

    I mentioned my waning fondness for the hits we played during the late ’70s to my former WJON cohort, Jay, a few months ago and he felt the same.

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