Posts Tagged ‘David Castle’

‘Eight’

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The integers march again . . .

Sorting the 67,000-some mp3s on the digital shelves for the word “eight” brings up 194 titles, most of which we cannot use. Anything about a freight train goes by the wayside, as does Nanci Griffith’s “White Freight Liner.” The entire output of a 1970s band named Jackson Heights is crossed off our list, as is Michel Legrand’s soundtrack to the 1970 film Wuthering Heights.

And we also have to discard twenty-nine versions of the Robbie Robertson song, “The Weight.”

Still, we’re left with enough tunes to be able to pick and choose a little bit, starting with one of eight versions – how appropriate! – of the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High.” The one I settled on is a 1969 cover of the tune from the Canadian band Lighthouse. Still two years away from having a hit with “One Fine Morning” – it went to No. 24 in 1971 – the band covered the Roger McGuinn song on its first, self-titled album, and an edit was released as a single. As far as I can tell, Lighthouse’s take on “Eight Miles High” never showed up on any chart anywhere although I’m not sure about Canada. Nor am I certain the video to which I’ve linked is the single. I think it is. In any case, it’s a decent enough cover but nothing amazing.

The Walkabouts’ “Train Leaves at Eight” is the title track of an album released in 2000 by the sometimes dark but always intriguing Seattle band. The album serves as a tour of European music, and “Train Leaves at Eight” takes the listener to Greece: The song was written by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and came from Ta Laika, or The Popular Songs, a project Theodorakis and Greek poet Manos Eleftheriou completed in 1967 but which went unreleased after a military coup in Greece that year. The work was released in 1975 after the military government fell.

David Castle’s 1977 single “Ten to Eight” was the first single released on the Parachute label and went to No. 68 (No. 45 on the AC chart). That was the first of two times Castle broke into the Billboard Hot 100: “The Loneliest Man on the Moon” went to No. 89 in early 1978. Both singles were pulled from Castle’s 1977 album Castle in the Sky. Castle’s website says a third single, “All I Ever Wanna Be Is Yours,” made the Easy Listening chart, but I can find nothing about the record in Joel Whitburn’s Top Adult Songs. “Ten to Eight” was originally recorded by Helen Reddy and released on her 1975 album No Way to Treat a Lady, leaving Castle in the well-populated but nevertheless interesting position of covering his own song.

Steve Goodman’s “Eight Ball Blues,” is not a blues at all, at least in its musical construction. Pulled from his self-titled 1971 album, it’s nevertheless the plaint of a man who wishes he and life were different and does so with regret: “I wish I had the common sense to be satisfied with me.” And the chorus tells us a bit more:

Is this the part where I came in?
I’ve heard this song before.
Had a couple too many
But I think I can find the door.
And I do not know your name, my friend
But I’ve seen that face before.
Well, I saw it in the jail house
And I saw in the war,
And I saw it my mirror,
Well, just a couple of times before.

This was 1971, and the war was in a place called Vietnam, but it could just as well be 2013 and places called Iraq and Afghanistan.

O.V. Wright came out of the gospel music circuit before going secular in the mid-1960s, eventually ending up in the 1970s with Willie Mitchell at Hi Records in Memphis. That’s maybe where Wright did his best work, but his mid-1960s singles for Backbeat are superb. “Eight Men, Four Women” from 1967 is likely the most atmospheric. It went to No. 4 on the R&B chart – one of eight singles Wright placed in the R&B Top 40 between 1965 and 1974 – and to No. 80 on the pop chart.

On its third album, 1990’s A Different Kind of Weather, the English trio Dream Academy included a tune called “Twelve Eight Angel.” A year later, the group released its final single before disbanding. That single was “Angel of Mercy,” and from what I can tell, the single was simply “Twelve Eight Angel” renamed. The single failed to chart, and the band called it quits. Dream Academy is best-known, of course, for the shimmering “Life in a Northern Town,” which went to No. 7 in 1986. (Those sharp of ear might notice the voice of the single’s producer, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, in the background during the instrumental break.)

Chart Digging: October 15, 1977

Friday, October 15th, 2010

As the month of October hit its midway point in 1977, I thought I’d found myself a pretty good gig. I was doing public relations work and some other tasks for the St. Cloud regional office of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, a federal program that matched job seekers to positions in both the private and public sectors and also provided job skills training.

The public relations portion of my job was the more important and more interesting. I’d started in early September, and by the time mid-October came around, I was getting two routine news releases a week to the newspapers and radio stations in our area, and about once a week, I’d send out something softer, a feature story about our operations. I’d arranged for the radio production classes at St. Cloud State to produce public service announcements that we could take to area radio stations, and I was working with my counterpart at the CETA office in the northern town of Detroit Lakes to have our respective office directors be guests on a public affairs program at the television station in Alexandria, a station whose signal reached most of the homes in our four-county area and most of the homes in the service area of the Detroit Lakes office.

Public relations might not have been what I had planned to order from life’s menu, but since that’s what I had been served, I thought I might as well enjoy the meal.

Personally, things were fine, too. I was still living in the lake cabin about ten miles southeast of St. Cloud. My girlfriend had lived there with me during September, but at the start of October, she’d headed into St. Cloud after finding a gal who needed a roommate. I was going to have to do the same very soon; the cabin had no heat or hot water, and once November arrived, I was pretty sure the space heater would begin to lose its battle with the outside chill. So I was looking.

And sometime in mid-October – right about this time thirty-three years ago – I took a drive to visit the weekly newspapers in our coverage area that lay south of St. Cloud. I took along a general feature story about what a new arrival to our office and our program would experience. It was my third day over a two-week period that I’d spent on the road, trying to visit all the newspaper offices in the four counties we served. I had about eight newspapers left to visit, so I headed out early that day, stopping first at Kimball to visit the only Stearns County paper on that day’s route. From there, I headed into Wright County.

It was a gorgeous fall day, with the temperature rising to about sixty degrees as I drove. The leaves had turned and were still mostly on the trees, and I quite enjoyed myself as I made my way from town to town: Annandale, Maple Lake, Buffalo, Cokato, Howard Lake, Delano, St. Michael and onward.

Near the end of the afternoon, I made my way into Monticello. It wasn’t the first time I’d been in the little town just thirty miles from St. Cloud, but it was, I think, the first time I’d ever stopped there. At a gas station, I got directions to the newspaper office, drove up and parked. It was a modern building, the first I’d seen that day during a tour of weekly papers housed in old storefronts. The front half of the building was home to an office products store, with the newspaper’s offices in the back half.

I walked to the counter at the mid-point of the building, introduced myself to the woman there and asked to speak to the editor. A blond, bearded man a little older than I was came around the corner from a workspace, and I introduced myself, explained my job and my errand that day, and handed him a copy of the piece I’d crafted at my desk in St. Cloud. He skimmed it and said, “Looks good. I think we can use it.” He shook my hand, saying that I’d stopped by on one of the busy days of the week – it must have been Tuesday – and then he disappeared around the corner.

And I got back in my car and headed back to my federally funded desk in St. Cloud, having not a clue that in a little more than six weeks, I’d walk through that door to become a reporter for the Monticello Times and that the bearded blond man I’d just met would be the best boss I ever had and a friend for the rest of my life.

So what was I hearing on the radio as I drove through Wright County that day? Here’s the Top Ten from Billboard for the week ending October 15, 1977, thirty-three years ago today:

“You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone
“Keep It Comin’ Love” by K.C. & The Sunshine Band
“Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon
“That’s Rock ’N’ Roll” by Shaun Cassidy
“‘Star Wars’ Theme/Cantina Band (Medley)” by Meco
“Boogie Nights” by Heatwave
“Cold As Ice” by Foreigner
“Brick House” by the Commodores
“I Feel Love/Can’t We Just Sit Down” by Donna Summer
“I Just Want To Be Your Everything” by Andy Gibb.

Oh my. I like “Brick House” these days, and “Keep It Comin’ Love” is a nice exercise in nostalgia (though if I had had heard it yesterday, I might have mentally plugged it into early 1976). And the Meco medley would be fun to hear again. (I do not have it, although I do have the group’s deconstruction of the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz.) But I’d be content to never hear any of the other tunes for the rest of my life. Especially “You Light Up My Life,” which was in its first week at No. 1 and would stay there another nine weeks.

But, as usual, there was some interesting stuff lower on the chart.

Earlier in the year, David Soul had hit No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary chart with “Don’t Give Up On Us,” a slightly weepy ballad that I kind of liked. Now, in October, his single “Silver Lady” – which I like quite a bit more – was at No. 52 in its sixth week on the chart. It would get no higher.

 

A little further down the chart, we find a record that would in a few weeks become the first Top Twenty hit by an English group that had reached the Hot 100 once already and would do so a total of eight times between 1977 and 1980. “Isn’t It Time” by the Babys was at No. 69 in mid-October and would peak at No. 13 during the fourth week of December. I’m not sure I thought much of it at the time, but I like it a lot these days.

At No. 75, there’s a record that I’d never heard before this morning and I’m wondering how it managed to not be a hit. It’s “Ten to Eight” by David Castle, and it peaked at No. 68 a week later; three weeks after that, it was gone from the Hot 100. Castle is still recording; his current albums are available at his website. As he notes there, his two 1970s albums for Parachute – Castle In The Sky, which included “Ten to Eight” and Love You Forever – can easily be found for sale on the ’Net.

The band Crawler, says All-Music Guide, was an outgrowth of Paul Kossof’s Back Street Crawler, organized after Kossof’s death in March 1976. Crawler released two albums: 1977’s Crawler and 1978’s Snake, Rattle and Roll. One of the most memorable tracks by the reorganized band was “Stone Cold Sober” from the Crawler album. The track ran 5:38 on the album and a single edit – running 2:55 – was released in the autumn of 1977. By mid-October, the single was at No. 86, in its first week in the Hot 100. The record peaked at No. 65 for two weeks in November. I found the album track at YouTube, and unless the single was horribly edited, it should have done much, much better.

Bill Meredith of All-Music Guide wrote: “Georgia funk rock band Mother’s Finest might appear to be only a blip on the radar screen of rock history, but not to any of the headlining bands they’ve stolen shows from – or any of the audiences who saw it happen.” The group released five albums between 1977 and 1981 with one last album coming in 1989; all six albums made one chart or another, with the best performing being 1978’s Mother Factor, which went to No. 123 on the Billboard 200 and to No. 22 on the R&B album chart. In mid-October 1977, “Baby Love,” a single from the album Another Mother Further, was at No. 100, having peaked a week earlier at No. 58.

The Memphis Horns had been playing sessions since the late 1960s, adding their sound to a stack of classic soul records too tall to count. In 1977, the Horns released Get up and Dance, their fourth album of their own work since 1970. Mixing funk, soul and disco, the Horns invited several guest vocalists to the sessions, including Deniece Williams, D.J. Rogers, Jim Gilstrap and Lani Groves, according to All-Music Guide. The album went to No. 32 on the R&B chart, and three singles from the album hit the R&B chart as well; the best-performing of them was “Just For Your Love,” which went to No. 17.

Afternote:
Having completed my project of the Ultimate Jukebox earlier this week, I wondered if anyone out there would be interested in having a list of the 228 records I wrote about. So I uploaded the Excel file I used to guide me through the project, with most of the entries also listing the YouTube links that I used to illustrate the selections (though some of those links may no longer be valid.) If anyone is interested, the spreadsheet is here.