Posts Tagged ‘Tom Jones’

One Survey Dig

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

I have a physical therapy appointment this morning – I’m working on getting the muscles in my back into better shape following my surgery – so I’m here only briefly. But I do have time to dip into a 1969 survey from the Twin Cities’ station KDWB to see what we can find.

We’ll play Games With Numbers and take today’s date – 8/7/19 – and turn it into 34, and see what we find at No. 34 of the station’s 6+30 survey released during the second week of August in 1969. As we normally do, we’ll take a look at the top few records in the survey before dropping to its lower levels.

The top five records at KDWB that week were:

“Pain” by the Mystics
“Baby I Love You” by Andy Kim
“Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones
“It’s Getting Better” by Mama Cass
“My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder

Four-fifths of that group makes a great set of listening. “Pain,” of course, is one of my all-time favorite records, partly because of the recording itself, which I loved as a junior in high school, and partly because I went years without hearing it until I found a copy of it at a record show in the 1990s, and then went a few more years beyond that before finding my own copy of it in an antique shop in the small town of Royalton, Minnesota. (I’ve told the story of the record and of my find in posts gathered here and here.)

As to the other four of KDWB’s top five that week, I like three. The Mama Cass single, well, from a brief listen this morning, I know it and remember hearing it, but I am not all that fond of it. It’s worth noting that for whatever reason, it was favored much more in the Twin Cities than it was nationally, where it peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Baby I Love You” might be a better memory than a record, but Kim’s cover of the Ronettes’ 1963 hit – kind of a sub-Spector production from Jeff Barry (one of the writers of song with Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector) – was decent listening. Not as good as the Ronettes’ version when I finally got there, but it did sound good coming out of the speakers.

And there’s not much to say about “Honky Tonk Women” or “My Cherie Amour” except that they’re great records.

So what lies below? What do we find at KDWB’s No. 34 fifty years ago?

Well, we stumble for the third time in less than a month into Tom Jones, this time with “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.” The record was new to the survey; it would peak at No. 13 in early October. (Data from both Oldiesloon and the Airheads Radio Survey Archive.)

This was the record’s second release. It had gone out in 1967 and stalled at No. 49 on the Hot 100. The 1969 re-release did much better, going to No. 6 (and to No. 1 for one week on the Billboard Easy Listening chart).

It’s a decent record, and I’m a little surprised that it didn’t dent the Country Top 40. I don’t recall hearing it, but it’s a pleasant listen on a Wednesday morning fifty years later.

From Henry Mancini To MFSB

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Among the least used books in my musical reference library is Joel Whitburn’s Billboard Top 10 Album Charts, and I’m not entirely sure why. Back in 2008, when I was doing a monthly look at music and events of 1968, I used the book for most of those posts, tracking albums through the year. Since then, however, I’ve rarely pulled it off the shelf.

I think it’s because the book has few surprises. I might not know right offhand what the No. 10 album was during the first week of April in 1970, but when I see that it was Willy and the Poorboys by Creedence Clearwater Revival, I think, “Yeah, that make sense.” Digging in a Top Ten list is not like digging in the Hot 100, where unknown gems reside in the lower depths.

But an occasional dip into the book might be fun, so I thought I’d take a look at the Top Tens from the first week of a few Aprils past. The book begins with Billboard magazine’s first comprehensive album chart in August 1963, so the first April in the book is from 1964. Here’s the Top Ten from April 4 of that year:

Meet the Beatles by the Beatles
Introducing . . . the Beatles by the Beatles
Honey in the Horn by Al Hirt
Hello Dolly! by the Original Cast
The Third Album by Barbra Streisand
In The Wind by Peter, Paul & Mary
Yesterday’s Love Songs/Today’s Blues by Nancy Wilson
There! I’ve Said It Again by Bobby Vinton
Peter, Paul & Mary by Peter, Paul & Mary
Charade (original soundtrack) by Henry Mancini

The second album on that list is the famous Vee-Jay album, now a valuable collector’s item, especially in stereo, with prices for a near-mint copy reaching as high as $40,000, according to the “Ask ‘Mr. Music’” feature at DigitalDreamDoor.com.  But according to Wikipedia, nearly every circulating copy of the record – and this is especially true for those labeled as stereo – is a counterfeit. That includes the copy that sits on my shelf. Oh, well.

As to that Top Ten itself, it shows the shift underway from middle of the road tunes, show tunes and soundtracks to rock and pop. I have half of those albums on the shelves – the Beatles, Al Hirt and Peter, Paul & Mary – and I’m a little bit interested in hearing the Nancy Wilson record.

As to the others, neither Hello Dolly! nor the Streisand or Vinton records interest me, but being a soundtrack geek, I like Mancini’s work for Charade a lot, especially the title tune. A single release of the title tune had gone to No. 36 earlier in 1964, and the soundtrack album peaked at No. 6 a week later.

Let’s jump ahead five years to the Top Ten albums from the first week of April 1969:

Wichita Lineman by Glenn Campbell
Blood, Sweat & Tears by Blood, Sweat & Tears
Ball by Iron Butterfly
Goodbye by Cream
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly
Donovan’s Greatest Hits by Donovan
Greatest Hits by the Association
Cloud Nine by the Temptations
Help Yourself by Tom Jones
Bayou Country by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Yes, there was a time when Iron Butterfly ruled the land. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard Ball, but I think I had a copy of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida at one time, and I know I had a copy of the group’s live album. Lots of folks did. Whatever Iron Butterfly I had on vinyl, though, I sold long ago. (I do have digital files of the seventeen minute album version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and the single edit as well as the group’s 1970 album, Metamorphosis, which isn’t bad.)

As to the rest, it’s a decent set of records, and they all have a place in my stacks except for the Tom Jones album. I do recall the title track, “Help Yourself,” which went to No. 35 on the singles chart. The album peaked at No. 5.

And we’ll jump another five years to the first week of April 1974:

John Denver’s Greatest Hits by John Denver
Band on the Run by Paul McCartney & Wings
Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell
Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield
The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand
Love Is The Message by MFSB
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
Rhapsody in White by the Love Unlimited Orchestra
Hotcakes by Carly Simon
The Sting (original soundtrack) by Marvin Hamlisch

Boy, that’s a jumble of stuff. The soundtrack to The Sting was notable for its resurrection of the music of Scott Joplin, and two more of those albums were connected with movies: The title track of the Streisand album was also the title track of the movie in which she starred with Robert Redford, and excerpts from Oldfield’s side-long suites were used in The Exorcist.

Beyond that, folks looking for classic albums could find two, perhaps three here: Band on the Run and Court and Spark are great records, and some will make the argument for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but I’m not sure I’d be persuaded. As long-time readers might anticipate, I’m ambivalent about the John Denver album, and singles are all I really need of MFSB, the Love Unlimited Orchestra and Carly Simon.

Thinking about the way things sound, however, it comes to mind that nothing sounds to me more like 1974 than almost anything from Court and Spark, which peaked at No. 2. We’ll close this brief exercise with the title track.