Posts Tagged ‘Poco’

Saturday Single No. 652

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Top 40 didn’t always thrill me, as those who’ve been regular readers here know well, so looking at the Billboard Hot 100s from those years doesn’t seem to work when I’m looking around for a topic.

But, I wondered early this morning, what about the Adult Contemporary chart? That’s where KSTP-FM, the station that the Other Half and I listened to most evenings at home, had its niche. And quite often on those long ago evenings, one or the other of us would turn a page in a book or a magazine and say, “Good music tonight.” And the other would murmur an assent.

The station – which called itself KS-95 – used as its tag phrase in the early 1980s something like “The hits of the Sixties, the Seventies and today.” These days that would be a pleasant place to park my radio dial. So lets’ take a look at the AC Top Ten from the first week of August 1979 and see how it would sound today:

“Lead Me On” by Maxine Nightingale
“Morning Dance” by Spyro Gyra
“Mama Can’t Buy You Love” by Elton John
“Shadows In The Moonlight” by Anne Murray
“The Main Event/Fight” by Barbra Streisand
“I’ll Never Love This Way Again” by Dionne Warwick
“Different Worlds” by Maureen McGovern
“Heart Of The Night” by Poco
“When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman” by Dr. Hook
“Suspicions” by Eddie Rabbit

Well, this might not have been that good an idea. Many of those titles ring faint bells at best, and most of those I recall clearly would not inspire a murmur of “Good music tonight.” Time to head to YouTube.

Having refreshed my memory, those ten records wouldn’t have been as dismal a stretch as I first thought, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as good as I hoped. I don’t remember fondly the records by Maxine Nightingale, Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick or Dr. Hook, and I’m not that sure about the Eddie Rabbit single. As it happens, the only one of those five that I find among the 78,000 tracks in the main digital archive is “Suspicions,” and its low bit rate tells me that I grabbed it early in my excavations of the ’Net when I was not being at all particular. I’ll have to listen to it again and see what I think.

How about the others? Four of them are okay, but the only record I really like there is “Heart Of The Night,” which turns out to be the only one of that bunch that’s on the digital shelves here. (It’s also the only one of those ten that’s in my current listening on the iPod.)

As it happens, “Heart Of The Night” has been mentioned here only once in these twelve years, and that was in passing. That’s a little surprising. It went to No 20 in the Billboard Hot 100, and forty years ago this week, it was at No. 8 on the AC chart, heading down after peaking at No. 5.

I imagine that those who celebrate Poco for its country rock of the late 1960s and early 1970s find “Heart Of The Night” to be a weak reminder of what the band once was. It’s true that it’s neither very adventurous nor really very country-ish (beyond some twang in the guitars). But it’s a lovely record and its first lines set a tone that – even if I have almost entirely ignored the record in this space – I still find affecting:

In the heart of the night
In the cool Southern rain
There’s a full moon in sight
Shining down on the Pontchartrain

And it’s today’s Saturday Single:

Chart Digging: Late October 1975

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

It’s been a gorgeous autumn around here: Warm days for the most part, followed by clear cool nights; our comings and goings have taken place – until just the past two weeks or so – under a vibrant canopy of brown, red and gold leaves. The colors this fall were the best we’ve seen in these parts in at least ten years. There’s a scientific explanation for that, something about rainfall and temperature ranges in spring, and that’s good to know, I guess. But that kind of rational assessment strikes me as something to think about during the long winter to come, not while even a remnant of the fall colors still glows.

And there are yet remnants: I saw a few stubborn maple trees still blazing redly as I was out on an errand the other day. On our lot, we have mostly bare trees; and since the lawn guy came with his mower and chopped the thick blanket of leaves into tiny pieces, I don’t even have the autumnal satisfaction of kicking my way through fallen leaves during my daily trek to the mailbox. Having the leaves chopped, however, means that we won’t have to rake soggy and moldy leaves from the lawn next spring, as we did this year. There are trade-offs in life.

One of those trade-offs, as I wrote a year ago, is that – like the other seasons – autumn is temporary: “It will end this year almost certainly as it has other years, in a four-week slice of rain and gloom and bitter wind.”

That’s true, except . . . I think we each choose our seasons of memory, and mine is autumn. Not every sweet memory of my life took place in those months, but it sometimes seems to me that all my memories – whether they’re of events that took place in the white chill of January, the greening of May, the hazy blue of August or the copper light of October – are autumnal. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t think so.

I do know that I spend far less time these days in my interior autumn than I did in the past. The life around me now is far more interesting, challenging and rewarding than it used to be. And I would not change that. But much of that interior autumn came from autumns in the exterior world, and those defining seasons will be with me until the moment – and one would hope the moment will come only after many more autumns have passed –  when my soul enters that long tunnel and moves toward that bright light.

One of those defining autumns that I carry inside is, without doubt, the autumn of 1975. I’ve written about that season several times (here and here are two of those posts, for those interested), and I think I’ve told that season’s tale sufficiently. But I noticed this morning that I’ve evidently never done one of my chart digging posts about that autumn’s music. I found that fact surprising, and even more, I found it welcome, as it means I’m doing something new here.

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten for the last week of October 1975:

“Bad Blood” by Neil Sedaka
“Calypso/I’m Sorry” by John Denver
“Miracles” by Jefferson Starship
“Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles
“They Just Can’t Stop It (The Games People Play)” by the Spinners
“Feelings” by Morris Albert
“Who Loves You” by the Four Seasons
“Island Girl” by Elton John
“Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet
“It Only Takes A Minute” by Tavares

Well, there’s only one entirely awful record there: “Feelings.” I wasn’t crazy about the Sweet record but I didn’t hate it, and even the John Denver is only half-bad to me: I disliked “I’m Sorry” but I could put up with “Calypso.” I don’t know that I ever heard “It Only Takes A Minute,” so I listened to it this morning, but it rang no bells. “They Just Can’t Stop It” is a great record that I often forget about, and most of the rest is good listening. And then there’s “Miracles,” one of my eternal favorites.

Heading south in the Billboard Hot 100 from there, we pull up at No. 60, where we find “To Each His Own” by Faith, Hope & Charity. Described by Joel Whitburn as an R&B-dance vocal trio from Tampa, Florida, FH&C had two records in the Hot 100 in 1970 and then didn’t come back for more than five years, when “To Each His Own” became their best-performing record, peaking at No. 50 (and spending a week on top of the R&B chart). It sounds – unsurprisingly, I guess – like a lot of other R&B from 1974-75. (My ears hear a lot of the Three Degrees in the track.) I doubt that I ever heard it, but I like it a lot. Several versions are available at YouTube: The album track, an extended single, and the version I linked to, which I think is the single edit. Not quite a year later, FH&C showed up on the charts one more time, with a single that bubbled under for one week.

I’ve never listened much to Poco, the country rock group that included – among others – former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina, but I’ve always liked what I’ve heard. That holds true for “Keep On Tryin’,” which was sitting at No. 61 during the last week of October in 1975. As it happened, “Keep On Tryin’” was the fourth Poco single to reach the chart, and it peaked at No. 50, the highest a Poco record had been at the time. The group would see “Crazy Love” go to No. 17 in 1979 although by then, Rusty Young – if I read Joel Whitburn’s notes correctly in Top Pop Singles – was the group’s sole remaining original member. Poco would wind up with a total of seventeen records in or near the Hot 100, with two more of them reaching the Top 20: “Heart Of The Night” went to No. 20 in 1979 and “Call It Love” went to No. 18 in 1989.

Another group I’ve not sought out much but whose music I’ve enjoyed when I run across it is the Pointer Sisters, who had thirty-one records in or near the Hot 100 from 1973 through 1987. (The sisters also placed twenty-one records in the R&B Top 40; one record – “Fairytale” – went to No. 37 on the country chart in 1974 and earned the sisters a Grammy for Country Vocal Group Performance.) Thirty-six years ago this week, it was the funky and infectious “How Long (Betcha’ Got A Chick On The Side)” that was sitting at No. 76, having peaked at No. 20 three weeks earlier. The record also spent two weeks atop the R&B chart, and it’s one of those that – should I ever hear it in the kitchen – would tempt me to indulge in my own version of dance. I need to get more Pointer Sisters’ stuff in my library.

I know Kenny Nolan only from “I Like Dreamin’,” the mellow anthem that went to No. 3 in March 1977, so I was intrigued when I saw in Top Pop Singles that Nolan fronted two studio groups: the Eleventh Hour and Firefly. The Eleventh Hour had two singles reach the chart, one in the spring of 1974 and the other during the late summer of 1975. That second single – “Hollywood Hot” – was sitting at No. 59 during the last week of October that year, and it’s a fun piece of studio funk that peaked at No. 55, but “Hey There Little Firefly” by Firefly caught my ear as well this morning. It was sitting at No. 96 during the last week of October 1975, heading to No. 67. I think it’s the flute that pulls me in.

I have no real idea where Parliament ended and Funkadelic began. Whitburn lists the two groups as existing concurrently in one long listing, so I’m not alone in that confusion. And I wonder whether George Clinton – organizer, leader and producer of the two groups – really knows where the line lies between the two. Either way, it was Funkadelic that was on the chart during late October 1975 when the very cool “Better By The Pound” was bubbling under at No. 103. The record would only get to No. 99, not that much lower than most of the singles from Clinton’s two groups had been placing. The best to that point had been Funkadelic’s “I’ll Bet You” in 1969 and Parliament’s “Up For The Down Stroke” in 1974, both of which went to No. 63. In 1967, Clinton’s doo-wop group, the Parliaments, had reached No. 20 with “(I Wanna) Testify,” and by October 1975, Clinton wasn’t that far from reaching the Top 40 again: Parliament’s “Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk)” went to No. 15 during the summer of 1976, and Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under A Groove, Pt. 1” went to No. 28 during the autumn of 1978.

The Mystic Moods Orchestra, says All-Music Guide, was “[o]ne of the choice audio aphrodisiacs of the ’60s and ’70s,” mixing “orchestral pop, environmental sounds, and pioneering recording techniques into a unique musical phenomenon.” The orchestra, created and led by Brad Miller, released albums like 1967’s Mexican Trip, 1970’s Stormy Weekend and 1972’s Love the One You’re With (covering, presumably, Stephen Stills’ hit single). Several singles – credited to simply the Mystic Moods – showed up in the lower levels of the Billboard chart, first on Warner Brothers and then on Sound Bird. During the last week of October 1975, “Honey Trippin’” was bubbling under at No. 108; it would rise to No. 98 before disappearing. Later in 1975, the Mystic Moods’ last appearance on the chart was “Get It While The Gettin’ Is Good.” That last single, which only got as high as No. 109, was credited to Leo & Libra with the Mystic Moods, which sounds just perfect for 1975.

Back To 1970 Once Again

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

A lot of records from 1970 have been explored in this space in the past few months, but it’s been a while – going back to July, actually – since we looked at a chart from that year, which I noted some time ago was my first great music year and the first full year I spent digging into Top 40.

So what was I doing forty years ago as October entered its final fortnight? Well, I finally got my driver’s license, passing the behind-the-wheel test on my fifth try. Nerves had been my nemesis, but knowing that another failure meant retaking driver’s training focused my attention, even if it didn’t really settle my nerves, and I squeaked through.

My afternoons and Friday evenings were spent as head manager for the St. Cloud Tech high school football team, which was struggling through the first season of two high schools in St. Cloud. We had kids on the team who’d never gone out for football before in their lives, and although some of them did quite well, our inexperience showed on the field and in our won-lost record.

Other than that, I filled my time with a number of hobbies: I was deep into making model rockets, shooting them off in the empty field just down the alley from Rick’s house. I was expanding my collection of LPs, still catching up on the Beatles; but I was also savvy enough to be one of the first people among my small group of friends to get a copy of Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. And along with rockets and records, I spent a good deal of my free time pondering a group of sophomore girls, one of whom became, as I told some months ago, the recipient of song lyrics – original and otherwise – printed in purple ink.

Much of that pondering came as I listened to my old RCA radio in my room. Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from the week ending October 24, 1970, forty years ago this week:

“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“All Right Now” by Free
“Fire and Rain” by James Taylor
“Candida” by Dawn
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
“Lola” by the Kinks
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross

The first seven of those are stellar. The final three, not so much. I liked “Indiana Wants Me” a lot at the time, and I still like it as an artifact of its time, but it’s aged much less well than the others on that list, with its sirens and police bullhorns. But it was fun at the time. I’ve never much cared for “Lola” or for “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” though.

But there were plenty of records further down the chart that I liked a lot. And looking at the chart this morning, there were plenty of them that I didn’t know all that well.

Mark Lindsay, previously with Paul Revere & The Raiders, had scored two hits earlier in the year: “Arizona” went to No. 10 in the early months of 1970, and “Silver Bird” had reached No. 25 during the summer. During this fourth week of October, his current single, “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind,” was sitting at No. 53. The record, which is a sweet ballad, got as high as No. 44, where it spent two weeks in mid-November, but it got no higher.

 

Sitting at No. 70 during this week in 1970 is a record I know I heard at least once, though I swear I also heard a cover version of the song as well. Jake Holmes released a few well-regarded albums in the 1960s: The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes, A Letter to Katherine December and a self-titled effort. The best known of those is probably the first, as it includes the song “Dazed and Confused,” which was later seemingly appropriated without credit by Led Zeppelin. But the song I remember was from Holmes’ lesser known fourth album, So Close, So Very Far To Go. Forty years ago, “So Close” was at No. 70, and it peaked at No. 49 during the last week of November. Since I found the record at YouTube a couple of weeks ago, I’ve listened to it several times, and although I recall Holmes’ version, I swear I remember another performer singing it, and no, it wasn’t Robert Plant. Is anyone out there aware of who might have covered Jake Holmes’ “So Close”?

It was likely during the autumn of 1970 that I made one of my worst LP purchases of all time, spending five or six bucks for Iron Butterfly Live. The review of the album at All-Music Guide nails it, noting that the album “is noteworthy for its second side, which contains a 20-minute version of ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.’ Even though it’s only three minutes longer than the original version, it’s three times as tedious.” I would have done far better to get a copy of the group’s new album, Metamorphosis, which included a pretty good single. “Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way)” was at No. 82 during this week in 1970; it peaked at No. 66 during the third week of November.

Just a little further down, we find the first record to reach the Billboard charts from one of the first country rock bands. Poco, the foundations of which had emerged from the wreckage of Buffalo Springfield, would have four Top 40 hits from 1979 through 1990, but the group’s best music, most fans would say, came in the first half of the 1970s. “You Better Think Twice,” which was at No. 88 during the week of October 24, 1970, peaked at No. 72 during the third week of November. It should have done far better.

Dipping into the Bubbling Under section of the Billboard Hot 100, we find a great slice of southern soul sitting at No. 105: “Ace of Spades” by O.V. Wright. While he never had a record reach the Top 40, Wright – according to the listings at All-Music Guide, which are sometimes incomplete – had three records reach the Hot 100 and twelve records in the R&B chart between 1965 and 1978. His highest-charting single was “Eight Men, Four Women” – a song about the jury that convicted the narrator of a crime – which went to No. 4 on the R&B chart in 1967. “Ace of Spades” didn’t do quite that well, but it did all right: No. 11 on the R&B chart and No. 54 in the Hot 100.

And closing our search this morning is a one-hit wonder by a group from Los Angeles: “Games” by Redeye. The record was sitting at No. 116 during the fourth week of October 1970; by the fourth week of January 1971, “Games” was at its peak of No. 27. The record was Redeye’s only Top 40 single, though the group did see “Red Eye Blues” get to No. 78 in the Hot 100 later in 1971.

Now that we’re facing our first week since February without an installment of the Ultimate Jukebox, Odd, Pop and I are dealing with the task of finding something else to fill our time and our posting space here. Stop by Thursday and see what we come up with. (We have no clue at the moment what that will be.)

Baseball Report
For those who are interested, this year’s Strat-O-Matic tournament, about which I wrote briefly on Saturday, went to Dan, whose 1998 Atlanta Braves defeated Rick’s 1961 New York Yankees two games to none in the finals. My 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates and 2006 Minnesota Twins both went down in the semifinals.