Posts Tagged ‘Village Soul Choir’

Chart Digging, April 4, 1970

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, the upper portions of the Billboard charts from 1970 hold few surprises. Here’s the Top 10 from the Hot 100 on April 4, 1970, forty-three years ago today:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” by John Ono Lennon
“ABC” by the Jackson 5
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse
“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
“House of the Rising Sun” by Frijid Pink
“The Rapper” by the Jaggerz
“Come and Get It” by Badfinger
“Easy Come, Easy Go” by Bobby Sherman

Not a bad swath of songs: A couple of timeless masterpieces at the top, with a little bit of clunky rock following; a youthful bit of R&B; some great fuzz guitar; a hard-edged cover of an old folk song; and a good helping of light pop and bubblegum with a Paul McCartney tune in the middle. Of course, it’s hard to be objective with these records (and so many more from that time). These were the sounds of my junior year in high school and remain deeply imprinted.

As we’ve found out here numerous times, however, that’s not always the case with records that show up lower in the chart. Given that it’s April 4, we’ll start with No. 44 (which I believe is the only one of today’s six I’ve ever heard before) and then move down eleven records at a time.

Jennifer Tomkins was born on a Sunday.
Her daddy got drunk and left home on a Monday.
Her mother, she died young, when Jenny was seven.
And Jennifer Tomkins went to work at eleven.

So begins the tale of the week’s No. 44 record as told by the Street People, a studio group that included Rupert Holmes, who would hit No. 1 under his own name in late 1979 with “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).” Holmes’ other footnote in pop history is that he wrote “Timothy,” the tale of cannibalism in a caved-in coal mine that the Buoys took to No. 17 in 1971. As for the Street People, their only other charting single was “Thank You Girl,” which went to No. 96 a couple of weeks after “Jennifer Tomkins” fell out of the chart.

The Village Soul Choir, according to Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, was a ten-member interracial group from Queens, New York, that made the Hot 100 just once, in that long-ago spring of 1970. Funky and fun, “The Cat Walk” peaked at No. 55 on April 4 that year (it went to No. 27 on the R&B chart) after being pulled from the group’s seemingly odd album, Soul Sesame Street. According to the listings at Discogs.com, the group had a few other singles released, but none of them charted.

By the spring of 1970, the most recent Top 10 hit by the Classics IV had been the sorrowful “Traces,” which went to No. 2 on both the pop and AC charts in early 1969. Three other records had hit the Hot 100 since then, with “Everyday With You Girl” getting to No. 19. As April began, the group – now billed as Dennis Yost and the Classics IV – had another tale of lost love in the charts, as “The Funniest Thing” was sitting at No. 66, on its way to No. 59 (No. 11, AC). The group would have five more records reach the Hot 100, but only one of them, “What Am I Crying For,” would reach the Top 40, going to No. 39 (No. 7, AC) in late 1972.

The Cuff Links, a studio group featuring the voice of the much-heard Ron Dante, were sitting at No. 77 with “Run, Sally, Run” during the first week of April in 1970. The record, which would move up one more spot, was the third and last by the Cuff Links to reach the Hot 100. The best of those three had been “Tracy,” a delicious piece of bubblegum that had gone to No. 9 (No. 5, AC) in October of 1969. The follow-up, “When Julie Comes Around,” got only to No. 41, and after Dante urged Sally to run, the Cuff Links – even though both follow-ups to “Tracy” reached the AC Top 40 – became unfastened.

The Buffalo Soldiers, says Wikipedia, “originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This nickname was given to the ‘Negro Cavalry’ by the Native American tribes they fought; the term eventually became synonymous with all [four] of the African-American regiments formed in 1866.” In early April 1970, the record “Buffalo Soldier” by the Flamingos was sitting at No. 88, on its way to No. 86 (No. 28, R&B). The tribute to those long-ago soldiers was the last of fourteen charting singles for the group from Chicago that is far-better known for the 1959 doo-wop classic, “I Only Have Eyes For You.”

Being a lover of lush keyboards, 1960s and ’70s instrumental pop and cover songs, I smiled when I saw the names of Ferrante & Teicher at No. 99 in the chart from April 4, 1970. I don’t believe that I ever heard the piano duo’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” coming from the speakers of my radio. It would be surprising if I had, as the record was in the Hot 100 for just one week and moved no higher (though it went to No. 16 on the AC chart). I know, however, that I would have liked it. As little noticed as it was, the record was significant for being the last of fifteen records the duo placed in the Hot 100 between 1960 and 1970; “Exodus” was their high water mark when it went to No. 2 in January 1961. (After “Lay Lady Lay,” Ferrante & Teicher had three more records reach the AC chart into 1972, the most familiar of which would likely be “Love Theme from ‘The Godfather’,” which peaked on that chart at No. 28.)