I took a look yesterday at the Billboard Hot 100 that was released this week in 1975, and since yesterday’s date – 9/24 – added up to thirty-three, I took a close look at No. 33. It turned out to be “Do It Any Way You Wanna” by the People’s Choice, a Philadelphia-based R&B dance group.
The funky boogie chant went to No. 11, the best performance of the three Hot 100 hits for People’s Choice. (“I Likes To Do It” went to No. 38 in 1971, and “Nursery Rhymes [Part I]” went to No. 93 in 1976.) And I thought I should see how many titles on the digital shelves start with the words “do it.”
There are twenty-four of them. The simple “Do It” shows up three times at the top of the alphabetical list: Once in 1971 from Aphrodite’s Child, the Greek progressive rock band of the late 1960s and early 1970s, once in 1969 from the Doors, and once in 1972 from Jesse Winchester. At the other end of the alphabetical listing we find “Do It, Fluid,” a 1974 offering by the Blackbyrds. None of those four grip me very hard.
Sorting the tracks by year, we follow a path from Richard “Groove” Holmes’ “Do It My Way” from 1962 to Keb Mo’s “Do It Right” from 2014. Both of those are pretty good, but if we have to choose one, we’ll listen to Holmes’ track:
The most frequent title is “Do It Again,” which shows up five times. I have two copies of the Beach Boys’ “Do It Again,” one tagged as a single and the other tagged as coming from the album 20/20. I’m not sure there’s any difference. I also have Steely Dan’s 1972 track “Do It Again,” Richie Havens’ 1976 cover of the Steely Dan tune, and a passable 1996 country tune with that title by singer Lari White.
Beyond those, here’s the “do it” harvest:
“Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied)” by B.T. Express, 1976.
“Do It All Over Again” by J. Vincent Edwards, 1970
“Do It For Mother” by Whistler, 1971
“Do It Good” by Bill Withers, 1971
“Do It In The Name Of Love” by Candi Staton, 1972
“Do It In The Rain” by Buster Benton, 1977
“Do It Just For Me” by Genya Ravan, 1978
“Do It Now” by Bessie Banks, 1963
“Do It Now” by Ingrid Michaelson, 2012
“Do It Right” by Bobby Womack & Peace, 1972
“Do It To ’Em” by the Big Town Boys, 1968
“Do It To Me” by the South Side Movement, 1975
There are some good ones among the twelve tracks in that last list. (There are also some that leave me cold.) Here’s one of the good ones, chosen for no reason other than that I like it: “Do It In The Name Of Love” by Candi Staton from her self-titled 1972 album.
A couple of years ago, while playing around with the CD burning software here in the EITW studios, I put together a CD of tunes that have touched me deeply over the years, most of them love songs of one form or another. A good number of the twenty or so tunes on the CD can be attached in my memory to one specific woman or girl; some of them can’t. (The last two tunes on the CD belong to the Texas Gal: “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House and “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. I’m not sure how I missed Darden Smith’s “Loving Arms.”)
One of the tunes on that CD that isn’t attached to a specific young lady is “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” by Diana Ross & The Supremes and the Temptations, a No. 2 hit in early 1969 (No. 2 on the R&B chart as well). I was still some months away from being a devoted Top 40 listener, but I know I heard “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” from radios around me often enough for the record to get inside me and certainly enough for me to wonder how it would feel to feel that way and to be so assured that the object of one’s affection could be won over.
The song was written in 1966 by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Jerry Ross, one of those things that Gamble and Huff came up with, as my pal jb says in a recent post at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, “before they were Gamble and Huff.” The first to record the song, according to SecondHandSongs, was Dee Dee Warwick. Her version, released in late 1966, went to No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 13 on the R&B chart.
Versions from 1967 by Jerry Butler and Madeline Bell also pre-dated the Supremes/Temptations version. Butler’s version did not chart; I don’t know that I’ve heard it although I may have it on one or more of the two hundred or so anthology LPs that have never been indexed. Bell’s version went to No. 26 on the pop chart and to No. 32 on the R&B chart. I like it better than Warwick’s but not nearly as well as I do the Supremes/Temptations’ cover, which is not surprising; it seems that the first version of a song we hear frequently is the version that stays with us.
SecondHandSongs lists twenty additional versions since the Supremes and the Temptations recorded their cover of the song; there are additional versions listed (and available) at Amazon and other emporia, I’m sure. The list at SHS includes some expected names: Gladys Knight & The Pips, the Chi-Lites in 1969, Candi Staton (with Dave Crawford) in 1978, B.J. Thomas, the Lettermen, Michael McDonald and Nancy Wilson, to name a few. There are some unfamiliar names, too: Shane Richie, Lucy Hale and Mica Paris are three of them. (I imagine I should perhaps know those names, but there’s too much music out there for even one seriously addicted man to hear.)
The song also attracted some of the easy listening crowd. An indifferent cover by Paul Mauriat showed up quickly this morning on YouTube, and a few pages back, there was a 1969 cover of the tune by Peter Nero. That one I liked quite a lot:
Last Saturday, after I shared Ella Washington’s cover of “He Called Me Baby” as a Saturday Single, a reader named Larry provided a link to Candi Staton’s superb cover of the Harlan Howard song, which Staton recorded at Rick Hall’s Fame studios in Muscle Shoals. I’d heard it before, but it never hurts at all to hear it again. In 1971, it went to No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 9 on the R&B chart.
That might be the definitive version of the song; its country roots are clearly audible beneath the R&B. The opposite – R&B audible beneath the country – is what I hear when I listen to the Harlan Howard original, which Second Hand Songs says was released in September 1961. In 1963, Bobby Bare did an up-tempo version of the song, and Skeeter Davis and Patsy Cline covered it as well; Cline’s version went to No. 23 on the country chart a year later, after her death.
Two other versions made the country Top 40: Carl Smith had one of his sixty-nine hits on the country Top 40 when his cover of “She Called Me Baby” went to No. 32 in 1965, and Charlie Rich’s cover went to No. 1 on the country chart and to No. 47 on the pop chart in 1974:
There are a few other covers listed at Second Hand Songs and a few more listed as well in the catalog at Amazon: Ernest Tubb, Ferlin Husky, Billy Swann, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Waylon Jennings, Glenn Campbell, Nancy Wilson and Jessi Colter are the names I recognize; there are many I don’t recognize, which tells me the song continues to be vital.
As usual, when I look at covers, this is in no way a comprehensive listing; these are the versions I either already had in my mp3 files or found by stumbling through a few websites. And we’ll close today with a version I found during that stumbling: Jeannie Newman’s 1967 cover on the Memphis-based Goldwax label. I’ve read that Newman was about the closest to a country artist that R&B-centered Goldwax had on its roster, and her take on “He Called Me Baby” tends to support that.
And so we come to “Six” as the March of the Integers goes on. The RealPlayer sifts through more than 66,000 mp3s and brings back 176 of them, leaving us the task of sorting out the chaff from those results.
All the songs with “sixteen” in their titles have to go, including Joe Clay’s 1956 rockabilly romp, “Sixteen Chicks,” country singer Lacy J. Dalton’s 1982 tribute to perseverance, “Sixteenth Avenue” and several versions of “Sweet Little Sixteen.” The same holds true for songs with “sixty” in their titles, including two versions of Elton John’s “Sixty Years On” – one from the studio and one from his live 11-17-70 set – as well as Billy Ward & The Dominoes’ “Sixty Minute Man” from 1951.
A cluster of tracks by some groups have to be set aside as well: That includes single tracks by the Deep Six, the Electric Six, the Six Mile Chase, the Soul Brothers Six, the Sound of Six as well as the gloriously titled “Rub A Little Boogie” by Duke Bayou & His Mystic Six. We also have to set aside a couple of albums each by Sixpence None the Richer and the New Colony Six. And then, everything but the title tune from B.B. King’s 1985 album Six Silver Strings goes by the wayside, as does all of Steeleye Span’s 1974 album Now We Are Six and the 1973 opus by Rick Wakeman, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. But we’re still left with enough titles to put together a nice six-record set.
The most successful, and maybe the best of the bunch, is one I’ve written about before: “Six Days on the Road” by Dave Dudley. Recorded in Minneapolis’ Kay Bank Studios in March 1963, “Six Days” spent two weeks at No. 2 on the country chart and went to No. 32 on the pop chart. The record, wrote Dave Marsh in 1989, had “about as much impact as any hit of the early sixties – it spawned a whole genre of truck driving songs that are not only the closest contemporary equivalent of the cowboy ballads of yore but have produced some of the best country records of the past thirty years.”
[Wikipedia notes: According to country music historian Bill Malone, “Six Days on the Road” was not the first truck driving song; Malone credits “Truck Driver’s Blues” by Cliff Bruner, released in 1940, with that distinction. “Nor is it necessarily the best,” said Malone, citing songs such as “Truck Drivin’ Man” by Terry Fell and “White Line Fever” by Merle Haggard and the Strangers as songs that “would certainly rival it.” However, “Six Days,” Malone continued, “set off a vogue for such songs” that continued for many years. “The trucking songs coincided with country music’s growing identification as working man’s music in the 1960s,” he said. Dudley “strikingly captures the sense of boredom, danger and swaggering masculinity that often accompanies long-distance truck driving. His macho interpretation, with its rock-and-roll overtones, is perfect for the song.”]
When Ringo Starr and producer Richard Perry put together the ex-Beatle’s 1973 release Ringo, the other three ex-Beatles stopped by at various times to offer songs and some help in the studio. Paul and Linda McCartney offered the song “Six O’Clock” and hung around to record background vocals, while Paul wrote the arrangement for the strings and flutes and then sat down at both the piano and the synthesizer, adding a solo on the latter that hangs around in one’s ears long after the very catchy track is over.
The Association was a pretty mellow group (occasionally moving, as Bruce Eder of All-Music Guide notes, “into psychedelia and, much more rarely, into a harder, almost garage-punk vein”), so when “Six Man Band” starts coming out of the speakers, those few bars of growling guitars that follow the light percussion opening make one take note. Soon enough, the record mellows, but those guitars keep popping up, alternating with the stacked vocal harmonies. The record label credits the group as producers, but that only shows how much the Association learned from Curt Boettcher. The record, detailing in vague allusions the joys and hassles of being on the road, hit the Billboard Hot 100 in late August 1968 but only got as high as No. 47.
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart are perhaps better known as songwriters – their credits include “Pretty Little Angel Eyes,” “Come A Little Bit Closer” and much of the Monkees’ catalog – than as performers. But between 1962 and 1969, they put ten singles in or near the Hot 100 (and Hart had a solo single bubble under at No. 110 in 1980). The best-known of the duo’s records is no doubt “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite,” which went to No. 8 in February 1968. They’re of interest today because the romantic lament “Six + Six” showed up as the B-side to “We’re All Going To The Same Place,” which bubbled under the chart for one week at No. 123 in November 1968.
All I know about the Apostles, I learned at the blog Funky Sixteen Corners, which is where my pal Larry spins his records. Back in 2006, Larry noted that all he knew about the superb instrumental “Six Pack” was that it was from 1969 (and he could have added that it was released on Kapp, a fact made obvious by the label scan). He said, “Despite any religious connotations of the name Apostles, I’m betting that they weren’t following anyone spiritually besides the Meters. It starts out with a funky – but not overly exciting – bass line, so as the record begins you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, ‘I expect this 45 to provide an acceptable level of funk, but little else.’ Then, a few short seconds later, the guitar player drops in with some of the wildest, bell-bottomed, crazy-legged fatback guitar and knocks the whole thing for a loop.” Not quite a year later, a reader by the name of John Rogger left Larry a note: “[I]’m glad to see that someone other than myself likes the records my father produced! ‘Six Pack’ was a great hit for him, but the bigger hit was ‘Soulful’ on the first album he released with the band. . . . If you’re able to find it, listen to it. It’s a great song. It actually sold more than “Six Pack” did. . . .Thanks for finding stuff on my dad. It makes me happy since he wasn’t able to continue his dream and legacy due to the war. I still play his songs on the radio station I work at. It’s fun times for me. . . . The Apostles was a rock and roll band formed from the Renegades that my dad was in charge of in the ’60s in St. Louis. He did a lot back then for music. Now he does real estate. Go figure!”
Candi Staton has showed up here a few times, most recently in September, when her “Never In Public” caught my ear. This morning, it was her “Six Nights and a Day” that got my attention. The track showed up in 1974 on the album Candi, Staton’s first release on Warner Brothers after leaving the Muscle Shoals-based Fame label. Warner Brothers released “Six Days and a Night” as a single (Warner Bros. 8112 b/w “We Can Work It Out”) in 1975, but it didn’t show up in either the Hot 100 or the R&B Top 40. I seem to say this every time I run across one of Staton’s R&B sides, but it’s true: The record deserved better.
Just like anyone else who shares the odd hobby of digging around in old record charts and the reference books that catalog them, every now and then I find a record that deserved a better fate. Usually, my judgment runs along the lines of “That should’ve made the Top 40” or even “Why wasn’t that a Top Ten record?”
But on rare occasion, I hear for the first time a record that languished in the bottom of the chart and wonder why it didn’t go to No. 1. That’s a heavy burden to lay on any record, especially one that bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for just two weeks, both spent at No. 124. From the first bar to the last, however, that’s what I was thinking this morning as I listened to Candi Staton’s “Never In Public,” which was in its second week among the Billboard bubblers on September 27, 1969, forty-three years ago today.
Maybe it’s the Muscle Shoals thing: Regular readers know that much of the music that came out of Rick Hall’s studio – “Never In Public” was released on Hall’s Fame label – and the Swampers’ Muscle Shoals Sound Studio tends to grab my collar and shake me all around. Maybe it’s my regard for Staton, who rises higher in my personal rankings every time I dig a little deeper into the stellar R&B she recorded from 1969 into the mid-1980s. (As much as I respect her gospel work from that point on, it doesn’t move me nearly as much.)
Why didn’t “Never In Public” do better? Dunno. Maybe it was the lack of a wider audience for deep southern soul/R&B at the time, although it seems to me that radio formats – and Top 40 listeners’ tastes – were about as elastic during the late 1960s as they ever have been. The record got a little more respect on the R&B chart, where it went to No. 22.
Whatever the reason for my admiration for it, and whatever the reason for its lack of success, as soon as “Never In Public” started coming out of my speakers this morning, I knew it was a gem that had been buried deep, and I was glad to have found it.
It’s one of the world’s great sporting events: Starting this morning and lasting through the final game July 11 at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, the quadrennial competition of the World Cup will take over much of the world’s attention.
In most of the world, of course, the sport is called “football.” We have our own version of football here, thanks, and when we think of it, we call the world’s beautiful game “soccer.” And we do think of it more and more these days with burgeoning youth and school programs, and a growing interest in professional soccer. There are many here who love the game, many more than there used to be, oh, thirty-some years ago.
Still, the predictions of some folks from thirty-some years ago have not come true. We were told that soccer would become the sport of all sports for us here in the United States, that our interest in baseball and our silly version of football would fade away and we could join the rest of the world at the grown-ups’ table.
It hasn’t quite worked that way, and I don’t think it ever will. As I noted above, however, there’s far more interest in soccer here than there used to be. There are, I suppose, many reasons, and a few – by no means all of them – come to mind:
First, we have the changing demographics of the United States, with more and more residents over the past thirty years coming to this country from the rest of the world – especially, I think, Latin America and Africa – and bringing their soccer balls with them.
Second, I see the search by parents for an autumnal athletic activity for their children that is less brutal than American football.
Third – and this one may be sketchy – in the past thirty years, there’s been a greater interest among Americans in genealogy, in knowing who our ancestors were and where they came from; along with that has come an interest in the cultures our ancestors left behind, and in almost all of those cultures, soccer is the major sport. I think that’s piqued our interests.
Fourth, the Internet has made it far easier than ever before for folks here in America to learn about the game, its history and its current state. It’s easy enough now for me to be a casual follower of the German Bundesliga, where I track the fortunes of the team called Werder Bremen, chosen because the city of Bremen lies within a hundred miles or so of Ostfriesland, the area that was home to two of my German ancestors who left there for the United States during the Nineteenth Century.
So the pundits of thirty years ago were partly right: Soccer here in the U.S. is a far more popular sport now than it was then. And coincidentally, considering the events taking place half a world away beginning today, it was thirty-four years ago this week that I saw Brazilian legend Pelé play a North American Soccer League (NASL) game at Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium. Pelé was a member of the league’s New York Cosmos – later known simply as Cosmos – and led his team against the Minnesota Kicks on the sun-drenched evening of June 9, 1976.
The story – literally – began for me about six months earlier, when I was in the middle of my internship for the sports department of WTCN, an independent television station in the Twin Cities. One morning, my boss called me into his office and we had a long discussion about soccer. A NASL team in Denver – the Dynamos – had been bought by some Twin Cities businessmen and was coming to Minnesota. Why didn’t I get in touch with the team’s president and see if he could come in for an interview, and while I was at it, why not finds some members of the Twin Cities soccer community and get some reactions? There might even, he said, be a multi-part series in it.
A digression: There have been, in the thirty-four years since 1976, many lame nicknames bestowed on professional athletic teams in the U.S. None, not even the Orlando Magic or the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, have been as lame as the Minnesota Kicks. (Well, the Minnesota Fighting Pike of the Arena Football League come close.) And the team’s colors of orange and light blue? Well, it was the 1970s. (I believe that’s the Kicks’ Ace Ntsoelengoe in the orange and blue to the right.)
As I worked on my assignment, I never did find much of a soccer community in the Twin Cities. It was there, no doubt, but my reporting skills and contacts in the Twin Cities were both lacking at the time. I did, however, beat the rest of the Twin Cities sports media on one part of the story. Jack Crocker, the president of the Minnesota Kicks, agreed to meet me at the TV station for an interview. We talked for about twenty minutes – this was a few years before the days of reliable video tape, so it was recorded on 16mm film by one of the station’s cinematographers – about all aspects of the Kicks’ arrival in Minnesota, from the chances to have a competitive team to the prospects of the franchise succeeding as a business.
One of the larger news stories during the NASL off-season had been that of Pelé agreeing to play for the Cosmos. And as my conversation with Jack Crocker neared its end, I asked if the team’s schedule had been set yet. It had, he said, and it would be released in the next month or so. So I asked if by chance, the Cosmos was coming to Minnesota to give us a chance to see Pelé. He grinned. And he said, “I can’t say anything, but I think the smile on my face gives you your answer.”
My interview with Jack Crocker – including that disarming and revealing ending – got into the six-minute sports segment on our news show that evening. It might have even been the lead sports story, but after thirty-four years, I’m not entirely sure. But I am pretty certain that I was the first sports reporter in the Twin Cities to learn – even if it was implicitly – that Pelé and the Cosmos would play the Kicks that summer.
As it happened, for that summer and a few summers to come, Minnesota Kicks games were the cool place to be. The parking lot at the Met was huge, and tailgating was encouraged. The partying crowds were enormous. Still, I was able to get tickets for the Kicks’ game against the Cosmos, and three friends and I took our places among more than 50,000 others folks at the game that evening thirty-four years ago this week; it was the largest crowd to that point in the history of the NASL. I don’t recall the score of the game or even who won. I remember seeing Pelé run up the field, but I don’t know if he scored. But I was there, among a sea of fans wearing orange and light blue.
(The Kicks had a five-year run as a viable franchise, winning some division titles and playing once – that first season of 1976 – in the league’s championship game, where they lost 2-0 to Toronto Metros-Croatia. Starting in the fall of 1979, the team also played as an indoor team for two seasons. After the summer season in 1981, the franchise folded.)
And now, to bring some music into this, here are a few tunes pulled from the deeper portions of the Hot 100 for the week ending June 12, 1976, the week I saw Pelé play football.
Candi Staton’s “Young Hearts Run Free” was at No. 50 and would eventually get to No. 20, as well as to No. 1 on the R&B chart.
Here’s the album single version of the B.T. Express’ “Can’t Stop Groovin’ Now, Wanna Do It Some More.” The single edit was at No. 59 that week and peaked a week later at No. 52.
Crown Heights Affair’s “Foxy Lady” was sitting at No. 70 as of June 12, 1976. The record peaked at No. 49 six weeks later.
Finally, there’s a group listed Fool’s Rain on the Billboard list I have; the group was actually Fool’s Gold, which was Dan Fogelberg’s backing band. The record was “Rain, Oh, Rain,” and it was at No. 80 as of June 12, 1976. It peaked at No. 76 for two weeks as June turned into July.
We’ll see you tomorrow with a Saturday Single.
(Error in history of Minnesota Kicks corrected since first posting; B.T. Express video changed March 28, 2014.)