Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Jackson’

Chart Digging for No. 52

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Well, having missed May Day once again – this time by intention – I thought we’d open the month by taking a look at the charts on May 2 over a period of years. We’ll start by turning the date of 5/2 into 52, and head back fifty-two years to 1961.

Sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 fifty-two years ago today was Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” in the third week of a four-week stay at the top. Fifty-one places lower down was the second entry ever in the Hot 100 by R&B singer Chuck Jackson, “(It Never Happens) In Real Life.” The record would climb another six spots before peaking at No. 46 (No. 22 on the R&B chart). Jackson is better known, of course for “Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird),” which went to No. 23 on the pop chart and No. 2 on the R&B chart in early 1962. Jackson eventually placed twenty-nine singles in or near the Hot 100, and “(It Never Happens) In Real Life” was one of the good ones.

Three years later, in May 1964, the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” was in its fifth and final week at No. 1. Down in the second half of the Hot 100, the James Brown-produced R&B workout “Baby, Baby, Baby” by Anna King and Bobby Byrd was peaking at No. 52. (It would go to No. 2 on the R&B chart.) Byrd, says Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, was the founder and leader of Brown’s backing group, the Famous Flames, and he’d have six more hits in the Hot 100, five of which would reach the R&B Top 40. King was a singer with the James Brown Revue, and “Baby, Baby, Baby” was her second hit in the Hot 100; it would also be her last, although later in 1964, her “Make Up Your Mind” reached No. 38 on the R&B chart. (Sadly, King’s brilliant 1965 answer song to James Brown, “Mama’s Got A Bag Of Her Own,” failed to chart).

Early May in 1967 found the No. 1 spot occupied for the fourth and final week by “Somethin’ Stupid,” the duet by father and daughter Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Down at No. 52, we find the biggest hit by the Philadelphia R&B group, Brenda & The Tabulations. “Dry Your Eyes” had peaked at No. 22 (No. 8, R&B) and was on its way down the charts. Although the group would place twelve more records in or near the Hot 100 into 1972 (and nine more in the R&B Top 40 into 1977), nothing ever did as well again. And that’s not surprising, as “Dry Your Eyes” is a lovely and sweet soul ballad.

As we hit 1970, we find the Jackson 5’s “ABC” sitting in the No. 1 spot for its second and final week. Sitting at No. 52 that week is a record I’ve never heard of, much less heard, until this morning: “My Wife, The Dancer” by Eddie & Dutch. The novelty record, which tells the tale of a man who learns his wife is – in today’s terminology – an exotic dancer, would go no higher. The team of Eddie Mascari and Erwin “Dutch” Wenzlaff had hit the charts twice in 1958 and 1959, when they were billed as the Mark IV; “(Make With) The Shake” was a rock ’n’ roll workout with a tongue-in-cheek subtext (at least to these ears) that went to No. 69, and “I Got A Wife” was a novelty record that went to No. 24.

In the first week of May in 1973, the No. 1 record was “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” by Dawn featuring Tony Orlando. The wince-inducing record was in the third of an eventual four weeks at No. 1. Things are better – though decidedly in the middle of the road – at No. 52, where Perry Como’s cover of Don McLean’s “And I Love You So” was making its way up the charts, en route to No. 29 on the pop chart and a one-week stay at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It was the fifty-first of fifty-three records the Pennsylvania-born Como would place in or near the Hot 100 between 1954 and 1974.

In early May 1976, the No. 1 spot was held down by “Welcome Back,” John Sebastian’s theme from the TV series Welcome Back Kotter. Near the top of the chart’s second half, we find the truly abysmal “When Love Has Gone Away” by Richard Cocciante, heading back down the chart after peaking at No. 41. As he half-speaks and half-sings the first portion of the record, Cocciante – born in Saigon in 1946 when Vietnam was still a French colony – sounds a little like a Mediterranean Dylan. When he starts screaming after the overwhelming instrumental bridge, well, the only reason I kept listening was to see how bad it could get. How enough people liked this record so that it even sniffed the chart, much less made it to No. 41, is a mystery.

Looking At Lists Again

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

The bookshelves here in my study – I’m thinking of renaming the room “Odd & Pop’s Workshop” and getting a sign for the door, just to confound or amuse our guests – are laden with reference works, as I’ve likely noted here before. And from time to time, I pull one off the shelf and page through it, much as I did with encyclopedias when I was young.

Last evening, for example, I pulled off the shelves the All Music Guide to the Blues, a volume that I’ve owned since 1999 but that I’ve hardly looked at since maybe 2001, when I moved from south Minneapolis to join the Texas Gal in the suburb of Plymouth. What that means, I realized last night, is that I now recognize far more names in that volume than I did twelve years ago. And, having realized that, I’ll be checking the book’s recommendations for additions to my blues library.

This morning, however, I’m going to dig into the lists in the back portions of three of the Billboard volumes produced by Joel Whitburn. We’ll start with Top Pop Singles. (And I’m still a little chastened by not digging deeply enough into the fine print in Top Pop Singles while writing Tuesday’s post, as documented by the kind note from my friend Yah Shure.)

Among the lists in the back of Top Pop Singles is “The Top 500 Artists.” The opening ten of that list is not at all surprising:

Elvis Presley
The Beatles
Elton John
Madonna
Mariah Carey
Stevie Wonder
Janet Jackson
Michael Jackson
James Brown
The Rolling Stones

But who, I wondered, came in at No. 500? It turns out to be Chuck Jackson, the South Carolina-born R&B singer whose biggest hit came when “Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird)” went to No. 23 in 1962. It was one of twenty-nine records Jackson placed in or near the Hot 100 between 1961 and 1967. But as Jackson was the last artist cited in the Top 500, I thought I’d look for the lowest-charting record in his entry. It turns out to be “Who’s Gonna Pick Up The Pieces,” a B-side (to “I Keep Forgettin’”) that bubbled under for two non-consecutive weeks during August 1962, peaking at No. 119.

From Top Pop Singles, we head to the Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits. There, Whitburn lists the Top 100 artists from 1942 to 2004. And again, there are no real surprises on the top of the list:

James Brown
Aretha Franklin
Louis Jordan
Stevie Wonder
The Temptations
Ray Charles
Marvin Gaye
Fats Domino
Gladys Knight (& The Pips)
The Isley Brothers

On the other end of that Top 100, we find Atlantic Starr, described by Whitburn as an “urban contemporary group” from White Plains, New York. Between 1978 and 1992, Atlantic Starr had twenty singles reach the R&B Top 40, with two of them making it to No. 1: “Always” spent two weeks atop the chart in 1987 (and one week on top of the pop chart), making it the group’s biggest hit, and “My First Love” topped the chart for a week in 1989. The least of the group’s hits in the R&B Top 40 was its last, “Unconditional Love,” which spent two weeks in the chart in 1992 and peaked at No. 38.

Our third stop is the Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits and its listing of the Top 100 artists from 1944 to 2005. As was the case with the first two lists, the Top Ten is unsurprising. (It’s possible, maybe even likely, that George Strait has overtaken Conway Twitty and Johnny Cash for third place in the seven-plus years since the book was compiled.)

Eddy Arnold
George Jones
Johnny Cash
Conway Twitty
George Strait
Merle Haggard
Webb Pierce
Dolly Parton
Buck Owens
Waylon Jennings

On the other end of that country list, we find the mother and daughter team of Naomi and Wynonna Judd, who as the Judds put twenty-four records into the country Top 40 between 1984 and 2000. The duo quit recording regularly in 1991 because of Naomi Judd’s chronic hepatitis, and their final hit – 2000’s “Stuck In Love” – was one of four tunes the duo recorded and released on a bonus CD with Wynonna’s New Day Dawning album. In the 1980s, the Judds had fourteen No. 1 hits on the country chart; 1984’s “Mama, He’s Crazy” was the first of them. Their poorest-performing single in the country Top 40 was 1991’s “John Deere Tractor,” which peaked at No. 29.

Saturday Single No. 328

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Well, we’re gonna get whacked, if the National Weather Service is right. Starting sometime late tonight and lasting through most of tomorrow, a winter storm is expected to drop between eight to twelve inches of snow on Central Minnesota. That’s supposed to be followed a windy Monday. What with the falling snow followed by blowing snow, the weather service says that travel will be difficult from tonight through Monday.

We may not get out of the house tomorrow, and that would be disappointing. We have tickets for a performance tomorrow afternoon of the Harlem Gospel Choir at the Paramount Theatre in downtown St. Cloud. That’s about two miles from here, which isn’t all that far, but if the snow comes as fast as forecasts say it will, our driveway will likely be impassible by mid-afternoon tomorrow.

We’ve talked about taking the city bus, which stops just up the block and around the corner, but I have a sense that if the storm is as bad as anticipated, even the city buses might not be running. And it’s possible, I suppose, that the Harlem Gospel Choir might not even get to St. Cloud. We’ll see. All we can do is wait for tomorrow and the snow.

So since we’re waiting, here’s Chuck Jackson with a hopefully titled tune for a day like today. “Good Things Come To Those Who Wait” bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1965 and early 1966, peaking at No. 105, and it’s today’s Saturday single.