Posts Tagged ‘Earth Wind & Fire’

Another One On The Shelf

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

The mail carrier dropped off another reference book by chart maven Joel Whitburn this week: Billboard #1s, 1950-1991.

The book lists the No. 1 records on the magazine’s various charts for each week. For instance, in the edition published the first Saturday of September 1953, the day on which I made my debut, the magazine’s various No. 1 records were:

“Vaya Con Dios” by Les Paul and Mary Ford on the pop best-seller and jukebox charts.
“No Other Love” by Perry Como on the pop disk jockey chart.
“Crying In The Chapel” by the Orioles on the R&B best seller and jukebox charts.
“A Dear John Letter” by Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky on the country best-seller chart.
“It’s Been So Long” by Webb Pierce on the country disk jockey chart.
“Hey, Joe” by Carl Smith on the country jukebox chart.

I’ve heard only two of those: “Vaya Con Dios” and “Crying In The Chapel.” I’ll have to spend some time at YouTube for the others. But in the meantime, let’s look at another week, say the first week of June 1971, when I graduated from high school. By that time, the magazine had four singles charts and three album charts. The No. 1 records on the various charts were:

“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones on the Hot 100.
“Want Ads” by the Honey Cone on the R&B chart.
“You’re My Man” by Lynn Anderson on the country chart.
“Rainy Days & Mondays” by the Carpenters on the easy listening chart.
Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones on the pop album chart.
Maybe Tomorrow by the Jackson 5 on the R&B album chart.
Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson on the country album chart.

Those are more familiar, obviously, than the No. 1s from the 1953 charts. I don’t know the Anderson single, nor am I familiar with her album or the album from the Jackson 5.

We’ll look at one more list today, the No. 1 records from the first week of December 1977, which was my first full week as a reporter at the Monticello Times:

“You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone on the Hot 100.
“Serpentine Fire” by Earth, Wind & Fire on the R&B chart.
“Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton on the country chart.
“How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees on the easy listening chart.
Simple Dreams by Linda Ronstadt on the pop album chart.
Rose Royce II/In Full Bloom by Rose Royce on the R&B album chart.
Elvis In Concert by Elvis Presley on the country album chart.

I know all the singles, as might be expected. I had the LP of the Ronstadt album and it’s on the digital shelves. I’ve never owned the Rose Royce or Elvis albums although there’s a little bit of Rose Royce and a lot of Elvis on the digital shelves. (Oddly, I do not find a listing for an album titled Rose Royce II. The group’s second album was In Full Bloom, so maybe it was an informal title used somewhere. I dunno.)

As for a tune for today, I checked, and Earth, Wind & Fire has been featured here only three times in thirteen-plus years, so here’s “Serpentine Fire.” (This is the track from the album All ’N’ All. From what I can see at Discogs, the single was nine seconds shorter.)

‘September’

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

I’m kinda not here today. So it’s hard to appreciate that we’re three days into my favorite seven weeks of the year: September and the first three weeks of October. But whatever it is that’s got me today will pass.

In the meantime, here’s the official video for Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” which hit the charts in late 1978 and went to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart, No. 8 in the Hot 100 and No. 41 on the Adult Contemporary chart early in 1979.

Saturday Single No. 314

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Time, as occasionally happens here, is short this morning. A few tasks laid aside for the end of the week and for the end of the season call me. And I think the Texas Gal – who will spend the day studying – has a brief errand or two to add to my list.

So, to keep domestic harmony intact (and to maximize my chances of watching both the Minnesota Gophers’ and Oregon Ducks’ football games today), I’ve rummaged through the fifty or so songs on the mp3 shelves that have something to do with Saturday.

And I found a pleasantly funky outing from Earth, Wind & Fire. As a single, “Saturday Nite” went to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 4 on the Billboard R&B chart around the time that 1976 changed into 1977. The album version of “Saturday Nite” from Spirit runs a little longer and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Back In Seventh Grade For A Moment

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

There are several records from the mid-1960s that – no matter where I am or what I am doing – grab me by the shoulders and drop me back in the hallways of South Junior High School here in St. Cloud. They do so just long enough for me to say “Oh yeah,” as I recall some little snippet or another of junior high life. And then I come back to wherever I was.

One of those records is the Yardbirds’ second-biggest hit, “Heart Full Of Soul,” which was at No. 14 on the chart – two weeks away from its peak at No. 9 – the day I walked through the doors at South to begin seventh grade. And unless I’ve missed one, “Heart Full Of Soul” is the only record from seventh grade that puts me back in those hallways. There are others – maybe four or five – that take me back to South, as I said above – but they were popular when I was in eighth and ninth grades.

So what comes back when I think of walking the halls of South with a heart full of soul? I remember – as I wrote about once – playing the character of Faversham Lightly, Jr., in the school play in spring. I recall spelling bees in English class, my absolute mechanical incompetence in shop and being tabbed to help other kids with their current events questions in social studies. I remember several crushes, none of which came to anything more than a wounded heart. And in the spring, I got a five-stitch scar at the corner of my mouth.

That was the day I stepped on a kid’s foot as I got on a school bus. It was March 31, 1966, and I was heading over to my friend Brad’s house after school. We were going to hang around with his little brother, talk about James Bond and model cars and stuff, and then Mom was going to come pick me up. Since Brad no longer lived on the East Side, that meant taking a different bus than I normally did. And as Brad and I got on the bus, I accidently stepped on another seventh-grader’s foot. And his friend took offense.

When Brad and I got off the bus, so did Foot and Friend, and they blocked our way to Brad’s house. They were a little larger and more athletic that we were. I shrugged and said I was sorry for stepping on Foot’s foot. That wasn’t enough, and they moved closer, crowding Brad and me. I kicked one of them in the shin – not hard, just a “Get the hell out of my way” tap. And Foot’s Friend launched a kick to my face, cutting me just outside the left corner of my mouth. As the blood flowed, Foot and Friend fled.

I called my mom from Brad’s, and she took me to the doctor, who closed the wound with five stitches. I don’t know if Mom called the school, but early the next day, I was called down to the office, and the assistant principal – the guy in charge of discipline – asked me who did it. I told him, acknowledging my “get the hell out of my way” kick as part of the confrontation. The kid who kicked me was called in, we both got a lecture and we were told to shake hands. And that was that.

Except . . .

There is a German word, schadenfreude, defined by Wikipedia as “pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.” If I’ve even indulged in schadenfreude, it’s generally been on the innocent level of being a sports fan. I love to see Ohio State’s football team lose, and the same holds true for the University of North Dakota’s hockey team. And the Dallas Cowboys. For things in the everyday world, however, I’ve generally not delighted in the misfortunes of others.

But sometime after my stitches came out, Foot’s Friend came to school with two silver teeth where his upper incisors should have been. The tale spread that he and Foot had been messing around with a tent in one of their backyards and some kind of chase had ensued. Foot’s Friend had tripped over a tent rope and had his front teeth knocked out by a tent peg. He’d have the silver teeth until adulthood, when he’d get permanent replacements. I never said anything to anyone, but I admit that I was quietly pleased.

Then sometime during my college days, about ten years after all those things took place, I was wandering through the bar called the Grand Mantel on a Saturday afternoon. I happened to see Foot’s Friend sitting alone at a table. I nodded and waved – it had been a long time since seventh grade – and he waved back and motioned to a chair. I sat down, noticing that he was drinking a beer with a straw. “How you doing?” I asked as I settled myself at the table.

“Not so good,” he said through clenched teeth. “I broke my jaw in a fight, and it’s wired shut for another month.”

We talked for a few more minutes, and then I moved on, once more quietly pleased and feeling only the tiniest bit guilty about it.

A Six-Pack from the Ultimate Jukebox, No. 16
“Heart Full of Soul” by the Yardbirds, Epic 9823 [1965]
“Incense & Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Uni 55018 [1967]
“On The Way Home” by the Buffalo Springfield from Last Time Around [1968]
“Get Together” by the Youngbloods, RCA Victor 9752 [1969]
“Hold Your Head Up” by Argent from All Together Now [1972]
“September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, ARC 19854 [1978]

I mentioned records from eighth and ninth grade that plop me back at South? “Incense & Peppermints” is one of those. I’m on the edge of the gym, watching the girls as they dance away the last minutes of lunch hour. One of the dancers is wearing a silver skirt – short for the time – along with silver boots and chartreuse hose. The song – which spent one week at No. 1 – plays on, and we guys watch. Now, more than forty years later, “Incense & Peppermints” is one of those records that can loop in my head as a persistent earworm, and it sometimes takes an act of will to turn it off. Nevertheless, I still like the song – atmospheric and a little spooky yet – a great deal.

I have no contemporary memory of Buffalo Springfield’s “On The Way Home.” It was the lead track on Last Time Around, an album put together as the band was fragmenting, according to All-Music Guide. But I first heard it, as far as I know, in the autumn of 1972, when a copy of Retrospective, a Buffalo Springfield anthology, came to my house from my record club. The song closes the first side of Retrospective, and the driving music, the bittersweet lyric and the “woo-ooo” that opens the record all got my attention. Even now, having delved into the Springfield’s diverse – if slender – catalog over the years, I think that “On The Way Home” is the best thing that talented but short-lived band ever recorded.

I’m not sure whether this actually happened or whether it’s a construct from several sources, but it’s an evening in late September or early October 1969. I’m propped up on my bed, pillows behind me, reading. The only light in the room is the lamp on my nightstand, pointed at my book. Just a few feet away, the windows are open, and the sounds of an early autumn evening come through the screens: leaves about to fall rustle in a light breeze; the footfalls and laughter of kids heading home echo in the quiet of Eighth Street; a car makes its way down Kilian Boulevard, tires whirring on pavement; from the southeast comes the rumble of a train approaching the nearby crossing, its horn cutting through the twilight. And from my old RCA radio on the nightstand, I hear the Youngbloods’ “Get Together,” and it remains for me an autumnal song if ever there was one. (The record was originally released in1967, when it went to No. 67; it was re-released in 1969 and went to No. 5.)

As a member of the Zombies, Rod Argent wrote – and helped record – some of the best songs of the British Invasion. Two of the Zombie’s three hits – “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There” – came from his pen entirely, and he co-wrote the third hit, “Time of the Season,” with his bandmates. In 1972, Argent had a hit with a track from his self-titled band’s first album. With its swirling, thumping sound, Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” might not have been in the same league with those earlier compositions and records, but it wasn’t far off. An edit of the album track was released as a single and went to No. 5 during the summer of 1972; the album All Together Now went to No. 23 that fall. In the spring of 1973, I saw Argent in concert when the band opened for the Doobie Brothers in St. Paul, and “Hold Your Head Up” had turned into a long jam that went on for nearly twenty minutes.

There are no associations for me with Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” I only vaguely remember hearing it on the radio. But it’s lively and it shows off the group’s talents well, I think. And there’s nothing wrong with sliding a record in the jukebox just because it sounds good. They don’t all have to carry a story. “September” went to No. 8 (No. 1 on the R&B chart) during the winter of 1978-79.