Chart Digging: November 10, 1973

The ill health theme of the past few weeks continues: The Texas Gal will attend a couple of meetings by phone from home this morning and then spend her second day dealing with autumn crud, a malady being passed around her office (and around numerous other offices in St. Cloud, according to reports from friends and acquaintances). I’m in a little better shape than that, which is good, as it means that someone in the house can make sandwiches. In the meantime, we cope.

One of my ways of coping, of course, is to dig into music, and three names caught my attention while I was passing the time by scanning the Billboard Hot 100 for this date in 1973:

When writing about Jimmy Durante about eight weeks ago, I referred to Canadian performer Ian Thomas and his 1976 tune “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash.” His name popped up again today as I scanned the Hot 100 from November 10, 1973: “Painted Ladies” was sitting at No. 80 on its way to No. 34. This is one of those Top 40 hits I had to learn about after the fact because I was out of the country when it was on the radio. It’s become a mild favorite in the past few years, and I think that’s mainly because it sounds a lot like the records the group America was putting into the charts at the time. In Canada, Thomas has had a fair amount of chart success, both on his own and with several groups. That success includes “Painted Ladies,” which went to No. 4 on the RPM 100 – the main Canadian pop chart – and to No. 5 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart. On this side of the border, however, “Painted Ladies” marked Thomas’ only appearance in the Hot 100.

Another name that kind of jumped out at me from the November 10, 1973, chart was that of Johnny Mathis, as I’d been listening to a bit of Mathis’ work yesterday: his 1959 album Open Fire, Two Guitars and his stellar 1977 cover of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.” His 1973 entry on the charts – “I’m Coming Home” – wasn’t near as memorable as 1977’s “Night and Day,” but I still find a quiet charm in the track. Thirty-eight years ago today, “I’m Coming Home” was at its peak of No. 75, but the record spent a week on top of the Adult Contemporary chart. It was the forty-seventh of an eventual fifty-three hits in or near the Hot 100 for Mathis, a run that included two No. 1 hits: “Chances Are” in 1957 and “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” with Deniece Williams in 1978.

The third name that drew my eyes was that of Nino Tempo. He and his sister, April Stevens, had a No. 1 hit in 1963 with their cover of “Deep Purple,” a song written in 1923 by Peter DeRose that became a big band standard after Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1938. As a duo, Tempo and Stevens had fifteen other records in or near the Hot 100 between 1962 and 1973. In the autumn of 1973, however, Stevens evidently wasn’t involved when “Sister James” – credited to Nino Tempo and 5th Ave. Sax – was on the charts. A nifty, slightly funky record, “Sister James” was sitting at No. 74 after peaking at No. 53 during the last week of October. It was the last time Tempo made the charts; Stevens – billed only as “April” – would reach No. 93 with “Wake Up And Love Me” during the summer of 1974.

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One Response to “Chart Digging: November 10, 1973”

  1. porky says:

    another fan of “Painted Ladies.” I could wiki this and find out but I swear that Ian Thomas is the brother of Dave who was in SCTV; they look alike if nothing else and are both Canadian.

    I love the Mathis tune. It was in rotation when I worked at an easy listening station in the late 70’s but I recalled it from hearing it on a station my dad listened to when it was a hit. I’m certain it was during one of his visits following our folks’ divorce so that must be what makes it connect more with me.

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