Saturday Single No. 382

As March opens its books today, it feels a lot like February out there. Well, it’s going to, of course, but this February – this entire winter – has been brutal. We’re tired of it. We want July. So here at EITW, we’re going to have July. Sort of.

I’m going to take today’s date – 3/1 – and turn it into No. 31, and then see what record was No. 31 on the Billboard chart on July 1 in four separate years. We’ll start with 1967, when there was a Hot 100 released on July 1, and then move ahead, jumping first two years, then one, and then two again, so we end up on July 1, 1972, another date when Billboard released a chart. From those four records, then, we’ll choose a single. We’ll also, as we customarily do, check out the No. 1 records along the way.

Our starting point of July 1, 1967, brings us the Bar-Kays’ instrumental work-out “Soul Finger,” sitting at No. 31 on its way to No. 17 (No. 3 R&B). Sadly, four of the six Bar-Kays on the record did not survive the year: They were killed in December when the plane carrying them and Otis Redding crashed into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin. Trumpeter Ben Cauley survived the crash, and bass player James Alexander was not on the plane. The group was re-formed and went on to have more hits, but none charted as high as did “Soul Finger.”

Sitting at No. 1 on July 1, 1967, was “Windy” by the Association.

As July began in 1969, the No. 31 slot was occupied by the Dells’ medley, “I Can Sing A Rainbow/Love Is Blue,” which was on its way to No. 22 (No. 5 R&B). It was the eleventh record in or near the Hot 100 for the group from Harvey, Illinois; twenty more would come before the string ran out in 1984. On the R&B chart, the group would notch thirty-four Top 40 hits. Their biggest records by far were “Stay In My Corner” and “Oh, What A Night,” which both went to No. 10 on the pop chart and to No. 1 on the R&B chart.

The No, 1 record as July began in 1969 was “Love Theme from ‘Romeo and Juliet’” by Henry Mancini & His Orchestra.

Three Dog Night’s “Joy To The World” was sitting at No. 31 as July began in 1971, making its way back down the chart after a six-week stay at No. 1. It was already the fifth Top Ten hit for the Los Angeles group, and the second No. 1; “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” had been No. 1 for two weeks in 1970. The group would add six more Top Ten hits into 1974 and get one more No. 1 hit from “Black and White” in 1972. I should note that it’s a good thing Three Dog Night pops up here on occasion; it’s one of the Texas Gal’s two favorite groups (along with the Doobie Brothers).

Sitting at No. 1 as July 1971 rolled around was Carole King’s “It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move,” parked on top for the third of an eventual five weeks.

And we hit Philly soul as we get to July 1, 1972, with Love Unlimited sitting at No. 31 with the ultra-romantic “Walkin’ In The Rain With The One I Love.” The record, featuring Barry White’s voice on the telephone, was on the way down the chart after peaking at No. 14. It was the first, and most successful, of five hits in or near the Hot 100 for the trio of women from San Pedro, California. The record went to No. 6 on the R&B chart.

The No. 1 record on July 1, 1972, was Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue.”

So we have three soul/R&B records and a pop monument to choose from today. I’m weary of “Joy To The World” and not impressed by the Dells’ medley. And that leaves us to choose between brisk and funky on the one hand and lush and romantic on the other. It’s hard to go wrong either way, but I’m going to go with lush and romantic today.

Here’s Love Unlimited and “Walkin’ In The Rain With The One I Love,” today’s Saturday Single.


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