Posts Tagged ‘Impressions’

‘From Nowhere Through A Caravan . . .’

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

I took a glance this morning at what I was likely hearing on the radio fifty years ago, checking out the “6+30” from the Twin Cities’ KDWB from November 23, 1970, and found no real surprises.

The No. 1 record was “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family, a record I suspected of having bubblegum tendencies at the time but which I now admire as being a great piece of craft (as well as being the trigger for several memories that have become far less bitter and far more sweet with the passage of half a century.)

Sitting at No. 2 was Brian Hyland’s “Gypsy Woman,” a record I remember well without putting any real heft on it, which means that no young lady danced around a campfire for me during that long ago November (or any other time, to be honest). It was an okay record:

Hyland’s record would go no higher at KDWB. In the Billboard Hot 100, it would get to No. 3. What I didn’t know at the time, of course, was that it was a cover of the Impressions’ 1961 original, a record that went to No. 20 on the Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the magazine’s R&B chart. It was, also, a better version of the song:

The website Second Hand Songs lists thirty-four other versions of the song, ranging from a cover by Major Lance in 1964 to a 2017 version by the Isley Brothers and Santana on an album titled Power Of Peace. In between came versions by a lot of folks whose names I recognize as well as by folks unknown to me. I checked out versions by Ry Cooder, Bobby Womack, Santana, Bruce Springsteen and more and was unmoved.

The only cover I heard that I really liked was the version by Santana and the Isleys, an atmospheric take on the song:

What’s At No. 68?

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

I can’t resist today’s date: 8/20/2020. So we’re going to play Games With Numbers and turn those numerals into sixty-eight, and then we’ll check what was at No. 68 in the Billboard Hot 100 on this date during the seven years that make up my sweet spot, the years 1969 through 1975.

So, during the third week of August 1969, when the No. 1 record was “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones, what was parked at No. 68? Well, it’s a record I don’t think I’ve ever heard: “I Do” by the Moments. The R&B trio from Hackensack, New Jersey, was eight months away from breaking through with the sweet “Love On A Two-Way Street,” and “I Do” went only to No. 62 in the Hot 100 (and to No. 10 on the Billboard R&B chart). Listening this morning, it sounds shrill.

A year later, the third week of the eighth month of 1970 found Bread’s “Make It With You” at No. 1. Our target spot down the chart was occupied by a short version of one of my favorite tracks from that summer fifty years ago: A cover of Neil Young’s “Down By The River” by drummer Buddy Miles & The Freedom Express. The link is to the single version, which I don’t recall hearing; Rick and I heard the album track – a much better piece of work – on WJON during late evenings in his screen porch that season. We’ve caught the record at its peak; it would go no higher than No. 68.

Sitting at No. 1 forty-nine years ago this week was the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.” The No. 68 record during that week in 1971 was one of the two hits I recall from my college years to feature a banjo solo: “Sweet City Woman” by the Stampeders, a trio from Calgary, Alberta. (“Dueling Banjos” from the movie Deliverance is the other I recall; there are likely more.) The Stampeders’ record went to No. 8 in the Hot 100 and to No. 5 in the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. And you know, you can do lots worse than love and tenderness and macaroons.

On to 1972, when the No. 1 record as August 20 went past was “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by the Looking Glass (and its mention brings back radio memories as Rick, Gary and I drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba). As we drove, we likely also heard the A-side of the single at No. 68 that week: “Burning Love/It’s A Matter Of Time” by Elvis Presley. (I don’t know that I’d ever heard the B-side until today.) “Burning Love” was Presley’s last big hit in the Hot 100, as it peaked at No. 2. (He would still have Top Ten hits on the Easy Listening and Country charts.) On the Billboard Easy Listening chart, the record – with “It’s A Matter Of Time” listed as the A-side, according to Joel Whitburn’s top adult songs book – went to No. 9.

“Brother Louie” by the Stories sat atop the Hot 100 as the third week of August 1973 ended and the fourth week began. Down at our target slot that week was the title track from Alice Cooper’s current album, “Billion Dollar Babies.” I admit that I’ve listened to very little of Cooper’s work over the years, and in 1973, I was, I guess, pointedly ignoring it as gauche or something. The record had guest vocals from Donovan, but still disappointed, peaking at No. 57, considerably lower than Cooper’s last few singles.

Perched at No. 1 as the third week of August 1974 passed was “(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka and Odia Coates. Hoping for better, we drop down to our target at No. 68 and find “Finally Got Myself Together (I’m a Changed Man)” by the Impressions, a record I do not recall and honestly doubt that I’ve ever heard until today. It’s a sweet soul/R&B side, underlaid with the social awareness that ran through much of Curtis Mayfield’s work. The record peaked at No. 17 in the Hot 100 and spent two weeks on top of the Billboard R&B chart.

Forty-five years ago this week, as August 1975 spooled out, the No. 1 record was “Fallin’ In Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. Sixty-seven spots further down the chart, we find, again, the Impressions, this time with “Sooner Or Later,” a tale of romantic consequences told with an irresistible groove. The record went no higher on the Hot 100, but went to No. 3 on the R&B chart.

Saturday Single No. 362

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

It’s a gloomy Saturday, overcast and sullen outside. My ailing elbow aches, and my head is plugged with an autumn cold.

But all that’s okay. Things are good here under the oaks. Just two days ago, the Texas Gal got her first job as a paralegal.

About five years ago, she decided to go back to school. She was in purchasing, where she’d been for about thirty years, and that included working on contracts for her employer, an international scrapbook supplies firm. Intrigued by the workings of the legal world, she decided to pursue a degree in paralegal studies.

Most of her coursework the last five years has been online, and it’s been a long road. After taking classes every quarter for the first year, she decided that she’d take summers off so she could tend to her garden and tend to herself. The quarters rolled past, and the classes went by – Constitutional law, real estate law, legal research, office management and more – until last spring, when she found herself needing only an internship to complete the degree.

And during last spring, the scrapbook firm went into its second bankruptcy in only a few years and laid off a large chunk of its workforce, including the Texas Gal. Luckily, the state of Minnesota has several programs for displaced workers, including one that allows workers to go to school for retraining while drawing unemployment. The Texas Gal qualified. We trimmed our budget a bit, she completed her internship in August at Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance in downtown St. Cloud, and at the end of September, she received her second bachelor’s degree. (She got the first in Texas a while back.)

After her internship was completed, the folks at the legal aid center asked her to do some part-time work while one of their paralegals was on a leave, and she spent most of September and October doing that, at the same time applying for a new paralegal position the center was creating. She started as a full-time permanent employee yesterday.

I’m proud of her.

So here are the Impressions from 1964, and although the lyrics aren’t entirely congruent with my feelings for the Texas Gal – I don’t worry about her stepping out on me – “I’m So Proud” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 355

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

August closes its books today, and that carries some resonance here, a sense of significance that only the ending of two of the other twelve months – October and December – share. I’ve written about all three of those month-endings before, and although I’ll no doubt indulge myself in an autumn-based piece or two sometime in the next two months, we’ll find something else to do today.

So we’ll return to one of the games we often play around here, using today’s date and digging back into some editions of the Billboard Hot 100 released around the end of August. In other words, we’ll see what records sat at No. 31 as August ended in six different years. And from those six records, we’ll find one to listen to on this sunny late summer morning.

We’ll start in 1957 and first jump five years, then four years and so on, ending our journey in 1972. Why 1957? Well, because there was a Hot 100 released on August 31 that year. (As we check the No. 31 records, we’ll also, as we generally do, note the records that were No. 1.) So here we go:

One of the things I enjoy when I look back at the charts of the late 1950s is that so many musical styles pop up, and the Hot 100 fro, August 31, 1957, is no exception. There are records from all over the musical map: “Tammy” by Debbie Reynolds was No. 1, and the Top Ten also included records from Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, the Coasters, Russ Hamilton and Nat King Cole. Sitting down at No. 31, we find “Around The World” by Mantovani & His Orchestra, an ultra-romantic presentation of the theme to the award-winning 1956 film, Around The World In Eighty Days. The record, one of six that Mantovani would place in or near the Hot 100, would peak at No. 12.

Five years later, the top of the Billboard chart is still a bit of a hodge-podge, with the No. 1 record, Tommy Roe’s “Sheila,” being joined by records from, among others, Little Eva, Ray Charles, Claudine Clark, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vinton and Connie Francis. Perched at No. 31 and heading to No. 29 as August ended was “Come On Little Angel” by the Belmonts, a doo-wop trio from the Bronx. The record was the Belmonts’ second Top 40 hit; “Tell Me Why” had gone to No. 18 in 1962. The group had six other records in or near the Hot 100, but none of the others went higher than No. 53.

We jump four years to the end of August 1966, and we find a Top Ten that’s filled with pop rock and R&B and nothing else: “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan holds the top spot, joined in the Top Ten by, among others, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Happenings, the Supremes, the Beatles, Wilson Pickett, Lee Dorsey and Billy Stewart. The No. 31 record that week forty-seven years ago was the Troggs’ “Wild Thing,” an exercise in the seemingly contradictory qualities of both excess and simplicity. The record was tumbling down the chart after two weeks at No. 1. The Troggs would hit the Top Ten not quite two years later when “Love Is All Around” went to No. 7, and they’d have four other records in or near the Hot 100, with the last of them being an odd cover in 1975 of the Beach Boy’s “Good Vibrations” that bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 102.

August 1969 was, as I’ve noted numerous times here, the month when I jumped without reservation into the waters of the Top 40. So the Top Ten as the month ended – and most of the Hot 100 – was part of my everyday life, from the Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Women” at No. 1 through records by, again among others, Johnny Cash, the Youngbloods, the Archies, Jackie DeShannon and Bob Dylan. Checking in at No. 31, we find “Choice Of Colors,” the Impressions’ call to racial harmony, heading back down the chart after peaking at No. 21 (and at No. 1 on the R&B chart). The record was one of an astounding forty-five that the Chicago group – with a changing membership – would put in or near the Hot 100 between 1961 and 1976.

On we go to the end August of 1971, when the No. 1 record was “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” a piece of whimsy from Paul & Linda McCartney that I liked a lot that summer but which I find barely listenable now. Among the artists joining the McCartneys in the Top Ten forty-two years ago this week were the Bee Gees, the Undisputed Truth, Aretha Franklin, Donny Osmond, Bill Withers and the Five Man Electrical Band. Perched at No. 31 was one of my favorites of the time, the Moody Blues’ “The Story In Your Eyes,” which was on its way to No. 23. It was one of twenty-three records the group placed in or near the Hot 100 between 1965 and 1988.

And the end of our journey comes at the end of August 1972, when the No. 1 single (for the fifth of an eventual six weeks) was the inescapable “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan. Joining the Irish singer’s single in the Top Ten were records by the Hollies, Al Green, the Looking Glass, Mac Davis and Jim Croce, among others. And down the chart at No. 31 was a record I featured earlier this month, “Where Is The Love” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, on its way down the chart after peaking at No. 5 (No. 1 on both the R&B and Adult Contemporary charts).

After doing a little digging when “Choice Of Colors” popped up in the 1969 chart this morning, I was startled to realize that I’ve evidently featured the Impressions only three or four times in the six-plus years I’ve been blogging. As it happens, one of those posts did feature “Choice Of Colors” in a Baker’s Dozen, but that was four years ago, which is an eternity in blogtime. And as I listened to that gorgeous single again this morning, I sadly realized that forty-four years after its release, the record is still pertinent to life in the United States. I wish that weren’t so, but it is, so “Choice Of Colors” by the Impressions is today’s Saturday Single.

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