Archive for the ‘Chart Digging’ Category

12/02/2021

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

Take a look at today’s palindromic date: 12/02/2021. One can’t just ignore it, but on the other side, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.

As I ponder that, I’m wondering how often such a perfect palindrome occurs on the calendar. Last year, we passed by 02/02/2020, and I think that the last time before that would have been 11/02/2011. That’s using U.S. notation, of course, with the month coming first; in those places where the date comes first – making today’s date 02/12/2021 and not at all significant —palindromes are a little more likely as they’d come, in this century, anyway, in years whose last digit is 0, 1 and 2. February 20, 2002, would have been 20/02/2002; February 10 the year before would have been 10/02/2001.

So that’s kind of neat. But what to do with it? Games With Numbers, obviously, but how?

Well, during the years I’m most interested in, Billboard released a Hot 100 on December 2 – 12/02 – in 1967, 1972 and 1978. We dabble in 1972 a lot, probably more than any other years except the three years that preceded it, and there’s more interest here in 1967 than there is in 1978. But I think we’ll look at the Nos. 20 and 21 records on this date for all three years.

So, what were the No. 20 and 21 records on this date in 1967? Sitting at No 20 on this date fifty-four years ago was the Bee Gees’ “(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts,” and parked underneath it was Vicki Carr’s “It Must Be Him.” The Bee Gees’ record was on its way up the chart and would peak at No. 11. “It Must Be Him” was on its way down after peaking at No. 3 on the Hot 100 and spending three weeks at No. 1 on the chart then called Easy Listening.

Let’s go to 1972. Perched at No. 20 fifty-one years ago was a country crossover, Donna Fargo’s “Funny Face,” and just below that was “Convention ’72” by the Delegates, a comedy cut-in record that wasn’t particularly funny. “Funny Face” would peak at No. 5 on both the Hot 100 and the Easy Listening chart and was No. 1 for three weeks on the country chart. “Convention ’72” was on its way down the chart after peaking at No. 8.

On this date in 1978, the No. 20 record was “Sweet Life” by Paul Davis, while the spot just below was occupied by “Don’t Want To Live Without It” by Pablo Cruise. Davis’ record would go just a little higher and peak at No. 17 and would peak at No. 7 on the Easy Listening chart, while the Pablo Cruise record would go no higher in the Hot 100.

Five of those six were familiar to me; I had to go the RealPlayer to remind myself of the Pablo Cruise record, but I still don’t remember it. Certainly the most successful among them was Donna Fargo’s, but it’s not really my thing. I’m pretty sure none of the six has been mentioned very often here, but the records by Carr, Davis and the Bee Gees are fine records, and I suppose that if I recalled ever hearing the Pablo Cruise record, it would be fine, too.

But I waded through the archives to check on “(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts,” and I learned that I have mentioned the record only once in the nearly fifteen years I’ve been cobbling things together here, and that was in a listing of a radio station’s top five. I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned either the Davis record or the Carr record any more than once each, but . . . well, here’s “(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts.”

No. 52 Fifty-Two Years Ago

Friday, November 19th, 2021

It’s time for a game of Symmetry. Today, we’ll head into the last third of November 1969, when I was still learning about Top 40 radio, and check out which record was sitting at No. 52 fifty-two years ago this week.

We’ll be looking at the Billboard Hot 100 from the November 22, 1969, edition, but before we head to the middle portions of the chart, we’ll take a look at the Top Ten:

“Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension
“Take A Letter Maria” by R.B. Greaves
“Something” by the Beatles
“And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“Smile A Little Smile For Me” by the Flying Machine
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Come Together” by the Beatles
“Yester-me, Yester-You, Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley
“I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations

Wow. After that harvest, I kept scrolling down the Hot 100, wondering when I’d find a record that I didn’t care for or at least was unsure about. Down past Smith’s “Baby It’s You.” Past “Sugar, Sugar.” Past “Eli’s Coming.” Past “Tracy” and “Holly Holy.” And then I hit No. 30, Dionne Warwick’s cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” which I don’t recall.

I don’t think I’ve ever before come across a chart where I know well and truly like all of the top twenty and then the next nine as well. Well, I was sixteen during that long-ago season, and my old RCA – Grampa’s old radio – was one of my best friends.

As it happened, I had three of those top ten singles at home: “Wedding Bell Blues” was on the Age of Aquarius LP I obtained in late October or early November, and I had a cassette of Abbey Road, covering the two Beatles tracks.

As effusive as I am about that Top Ten, it’s worth checking to see it any of them have come along with me over the last fifty-two years. And as I suspected, every one of those ten is in my iPod and thus a part of my day-to-day listening. That’s not surprising, given that – between this site and the archives site – there are only two years to which I’ve paid more attention than 1969. Again, unsurprisingly, they’re 1970 and 1971.

So, I can only conclude that I’m held hostage by the music of my youth.

But let’s dip just a little bit deeper into that Hot 100 from November 22, 1969, and see which record was sitting in our Symmetry spot, No. 52. And we come across a record from a group that I never gave much attention: “Time Machine” by Grand Funk Railroad. I knew more about the group in the mid-1970s, what with “Bad Time” and “We’re An American Band,” but I was never really interested, not even during the days of vinyl madness in the 1990s: I’ve never owned any of the group’s albums.

And I doubt that I heard “Time Machine” on either KDWB from the Cities or WJON down across the tracks: The record spent eleven weeks in the Hot 100, peaking only at No. 48. Would I have liked it if I’d heard it? Maybe. I don’t care for the intro, but the body of the record has a decent groove.

Saturday Single No. 753

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

Having looked yesterday at the Top Ten from the Billboard Hot 100 from fifty years ago this week, we may as well take a look at the Top Ten from that week’s album chart:

Tapestry by Carole King
Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by the Moody Blues
Who’s Next
Ram
by Paul & Linda McCartney
Carpenters
Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon
by James Taylor
Shaft (Soundtrack) by Isaac Hayes
Master Of Reality by Black Sabbath
What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

That’s a great Top Ten. There are at least five in there that I’d call essential Seventies albums, those by King, Stewart, the Who, Hayes and Gaye. And four of the others aren’t that far behind. (I’m not certain about the Black Sabbath album simply because it’s in a genre in which I have no expertise at all. Anyone who wants can leave a comment assessing it.)

The earliest any of those came into my life was Ram, which I got as a high school graduation present. And I’ve owned eight of those ten as LPs, everything except the Black Sabbath and James Taylor albums. Then, between CDs and digital files, I have everything on that list except Master Of Reality.

It’s interesting that Rod Stewart shows up here today. Earlier this week, the Texas Gal and I were driving home from some errand when Stewart’s “Gasoline Alley” came on the radio. I’m not as familiar with the track, or with the 1970 album that’s its namesake, as I am with other portions of Stewart’s early solo work, but I recognized it immediately and I was struck by what seemed its sloppiness: guitars going every which way, the bass and percussion seemingly working off a different sheet. I should go back and listen to the entire album, I guess, but I think I’d hear the same thing.

And that contrasts with what I hear when I listen to Every Picture Tells A Story from 1971. Stewart produced both albums, but it seems that during the time between them, he learned some restraint. I’m not saying that every track on the later album was painstakingly precise, but the rowdiness that gives Gasoline Alley its somewhat ramshackle air is gone.

I dunno, maybe I’m hearing things that aren’t there. But anyway, here’s “Seems Like A Long Time” from Every Picture Tells A Story, a cover of a tune that was originally recorded by Brewer & Shipley. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Another Night, Another Day . . .’

Friday, September 17th, 2021

We’re playing “Symmetry” this morning, checking out the No. 50 record in the Billboard Hot 100 from fifty years ago this week.

As usual, we’ll start the game with a look at that week’s Top Ten. There are no surprises.

“Go Away, Little Girl” by Donny Osmond
“Spanish Harlem” by Aretha Franklin
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
“Maggie May/Reason To Believe” by Rod Stewart
“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney
“Smiling Faces Sometimes” by the Undisputed Truth
“I Just Want To Celebrate” by Rare Earth
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Joan Baez
“How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” by the Bee Gees
“Whatcha See Is What Cha Get” by the Dramatics

Well, except for the records by Osmond and Baez, that’s some decent listening. “Go Away, Little Girl” is at least a little icky these days no matter who sings it (and no matter how noble the intentions of the character the singer is channeling) but having a thirteen-year-old boy sing it is just weird. But that’s today’s mores, and I guess few people were thinking that way fifty years ago.

As to the Baez, my frustration with the record starts with – as I think I’ve noted before – her mis-singing the lyrics. I’ve heard or read somewhere that Baez’ people got the lyrics over the phone from Robbie Robertson’s people or publisher and mis-heard some of them, thus turning “Stoneman’s cavalry” into “so much cavalry” and Robert E. Lee into the steamboat-to-be.

But I’ve realized that the main reason I dislike Baez’ version of the song is that she pulls all the emotional weight out of it. She treats it as she did many old folk songs during the beginning of her career, as if it were a fragile flower needing her protection. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a song of grief, and the singer needs to offer it as if the events it chronicles matter to him or her, as does Levon Helm of The Band.

(As I mentioned almost in passing in a post from a year ago, I’m still sorting out how I feel about “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and other cultural pieces that would undoubtedly offend some folks.)

Other than that, the nine records remaining of the eleven listed above range from inspired to pleasantly remembered. The best one there is either “Spanish Harlem” or “Maggie May,” and I won’t argue with anyone who chooses one over the other.

Oddly, only about half of the records I like from that list are in the iPod and thus in my day-to-day listening. I’ll have to add the records by the Undisputed Truth, the McCartneys, the Bee Gees and the Dramatics. It’s strange that I missed so many of those.

And now to our main business, the No. 50 record in that Hot 100 released fifty years ago yesterday. It turns out to be a ballad by Engelbert Humperdinck, some of whose stuff I’ve liked over the years and some of whose stuff I have little time for. I’d never heard “Another Time, Another Place” before:

Her candles flicker in the fading light
I sit alone and watch that lonely night
I see you everywhere and I try desperately to hide

Another time, another place, I see that old familiar face
And I try hard to catch your eye
Another road, another mile, I see that old familiar smile
But you’ll be with somebody new
Another night, another day, I’ll see you standing in my way
I’ll stop and say “Hello, my friend”
Another place, another time, you’ll tell me you’ve been doing fine
And walk away from me once more.


I try to run away from sad regrets
The bitter wine won’t help me to forget
That I locked up my heart and threw away the precious key

Another time, another place, I see that old familiar face
And I try hard to catch your eye
Another road, another mile, I see that old familiar smile
But you’ll be with somebody new
Another night, another day, I’ll see you standing in my way
I’ll stop and say “Hello, my friend”
Another place, another time, you’ll tell me you’ve been doing fine
And walk away from me once more.

Another night, another day, I’ll see you standing in my way
I’ll stop and say “Hello, my friend”
Another place, another time, you’ll tell me you’ve been doing fine
And walk away from me once more.

A couple of years earlier, still in my easy listening and soundtrack days, I probably would have liked that one a lot. Maybe I would have, anyway. But the brassy backing and Humperdinck’s over-singing were a long distance from what I was listening to during my first days of college.

The record peaked at No. 43 on the Hot 100 and got to No. 5 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.

On The Nines

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Well, it’s September 9, or 9/9, and the part of me that loves Games With Numbers can’t possibly ignore that. So we’re going to look at three near bottom-dwellers in three Billboard Hot 100s released on or near today’s date, each separated by nine years.

We’ll start in my lodestone year of 1970, the one year of my life when I listened, delighted and dutifully, to Top 40 music all year long, and then go back to 1961, when I had no idea that anything as cool at the Hot 100 existed. And we’ll complete our excursion with a look at 1979, a year when the Hot 100’s coolness quotient was – in my life, anyway – rapidly fading.

Along the way, as we customarily do with these follies, we’ll check out each chart’s top two records.

First, to 1970. Sitting at No. 99 in the Hot 100 released on September 12, 1970, is a record regarded by many as a classic and one that I’m sure has left many a listener baffled, perhaps, with its cryptic message and stunned with its beauty: “Alone Again Or” by the psychedelic group Love.

The version we find there – and it went no higher – is one we’ve tangled with a few times before. It’s longer than the single version that was released in 1968 after the album Forever Changes came out in 1967. (Both versions are shorter than the version on the album.) Yah Shure, my friend and patient guide to all things chart-related, wrote to me a few years ago, saying, “In my [Joel] Whitburn Pop Annual, the time listed for the 1970 re-do is 2:50. Under the ’68 single’s entry in my Whitburn Bubbling Under chart book, Joel refers to the 1970 #99 release as ‘an enhanced version,’ and that’s what it really is: embellished with additional instrumentation to pack more of a wallop over the airwaves. The difference between it and the original mix is quite apparent.”

Here is a version of the tune that has been labeled “mono single remix” with a seemingly appropriate running time. At discogs, the 1967 original release is said to have a running time of 2:49, while the 1970 rerelease – as Yah Shure noted – runs 2:50. (The 1967 album track runs 3:15.) Is this the right one? I dunno.

Sitting at Nos. 1 and 2 during the second week of September 1970 were, respectively, “War” by Edwin Starr and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross.

Hoping to leave bafflement behind, we head to 1961 and the Hot 100 that was released on September 11 of that year, There, parked at No. 99, we find “Signed, Sealed And Delivered” by Rusty Draper, a countryish waltz that has utterly nothing to do with Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” from 1970.

Draper was a singer/songwriter and guitarist from Kirksville, Missouri (a burg where I’d often stop for a burger or gas during the 1980s as I made my way between Columbia, Missouri, and Monticello or St. Cloud in Minnesota). He had one country hit – “Gambler’s Guitar” went to No. 6 in 1953 – and eleven records that reached the Hot 100 (with another bubbling under). Best-performing of the bunch was “The Shifting, Whispering Sands,” which went to No. 3 in 1955.

The maudlin “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” went to No. 91 and was his next to last entry on the chart.

The records at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, during the second week of September 1961 were “Michael” by the Highwaymen and “Take Good Care Of My Baby” by Bobby Vee.

And now to 1979, and the No. 99 record from the chart released on September 15 of that year: “Baby I Want You,” a piece of light R&B that was the only chart entry from the Funky Communication Committee, a short-lived group that managed to release two albums and three singles in 1979 and 1980.

“Baby I Want You” climbed the chart to No. 47 and did not get into the R&B Top 40. And that’s all I know.

Sitting at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, during the third week of September 1979, were “My Sharona” by the Knack and “After The Love Has Gone” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

No. 55, Fifty-Five Years Ago (June 1966)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

It’s been a couple of years since we looked at a chart from 1966 for any reason, so we’re going to head that direction this morning and then play a game of Symmetry. Here are the top ten records from the Billboard Hot 100 from the third week in June 1966, fifty-five years ago:

“Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones
“Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind” by the Lovin’ Spoonful
“I Am A Rock” by Simon & Garfunkel
“When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge
“Strangers In The Night” by Frank Sinatra
“A Groovy Kind Of Love” by the Mindbenders
“Barefootin’” by Robert Parker
“Green Grass” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“Cool Jerk” by the Capitols
“Red Rubber Ball” by the Cyrkle

As I typed that list, I knew nine of those ten, and a trip to YouTube refreshed my memory of “Green Grass.” How many of those would I have known fifty-five years ago, though?

I was twelve, between seventh and eighth grades, and that might have been the summer that I took summer school courses in cooking and World War II history, or it might have been chemistry and Spanish. And I wasn’t yet very interested in pop music, so any of those records I remember, I remember only because I heard then when I was with my peers and the radio was on, not because I was listening.

I have vague memories of hearing the records by the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, the Lovin’s Spoonful, Percy Sledge and the Cyrkle. And I know I heard the Frank Sinatra single: I was still an easy listening kid, and “Strangers In The Night” topped the Easy Listening chart for seven weeks. I no doubt heard it on WCCO from the Twin Cities and on the two St. Cloud stations, WJON and KFAM. And I liked it, too.

I also liked “I Am A Rock” and “Red Rubber Ball,” as well as “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind,” although the dilemma facing the singer in that tune bemused me. I could not imagine myself in a position of having to make a choice between two willing girls. (I marked that one off on my bucket list not quite ten years later.) On the other hand, even though I knew it fifty-five years ago, I have never really liked “When A Man Loves A Woman,” and I don’t have any idea why that is.

How about now? Do any of those records fit into my day-to-day listening? Let’s look at the iPod. Four of them are there: The records by Sinatra, the Stones, the Cyrkle and the Capitols. That last is a surprise, almost as much of a surprise as the absence of “I Am A Rock.”

Now, to our other business today: Checking out the record that sat at No. 55 in the middle of June 1966. Not unsurprisingly, it’s a record I don’t think I’ve ever heard of, much less heard: “Come Running Back” by Dean Martin. Back then, I knew “Everybody Loves Somebody,” Martin’s No. 1 hit from 1964, and I think I’d heard “Houston” on one of the 45s that I got from Leo Rau, the jukebox jobber who lived across the alley.

But that was the limit of my Dean Martin lore then. In the past few years, I’ve added a hits package to the digital shelves, but I don’t know much of it well except “Volare” and “That’s Amore.” Add “Mambo Italiano” from my cabaret adventures with Lucille and Heather a few years ago, and that’s the extent of my Dean Martin awareness.

“Come Running Back” is an okay record – it’s a mid-Sixties swingin’ and brassy Pack Rat joint – except for the shrillness of the background singers, and since they pretty much start things off, well, that takes off some points right there. Lyrically, it’s pretty simple: She’s gone and he’s saying that if things don’t work out, come on home. Yeah, we’ve found better records on our dives into the charts, but we’ve also found much, much worse.

“Come Running Back” peaked at No. 35 on the Hot 100 and at No. 4 on the Easy Listening chart.

Saturday Single No. 740

Saturday, June 12th, 2021

According to the book Billboard #1s, a Joel Whitburn publication, here were the records at the top of the various charts published in the June 12, 1971 edition, fifty years ago today:

Hot 100: “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
R&B singles: “Want Ads” by the Honey Cone
Country singles: “You’re My Man” by Lynn Anderson
AC singles: “Rainy Days & Mondays” by the Carpenters
Pop albums: Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones
R&B albums: Maybe Tomorrow by the Jackson 5
Country albums: Hag by Merle Haggard

I know three of the four singles well, but only one of the three albums. My knowledge of the artists from that list whose works I do not know well forms a pyramid: I know the Jackson 5’s hits but none of their albums; I know Anderson’s biggest hit, “Rose Garden,” but no more than that; and I know only a sliver of Haggard’s mountain of work: “Mama Tried,” “Okie From Muskogee” and “Pancho & Lefty” are what came to mind.

And I imagine that kind of differential would be the norm no matter what week’s listings I pulled from the Whitburn book.

I got the LP of Sticky Fingers in late 1972, among a batch of albums ordered from a record club, and it went into heavy rotation in the basement rec room that autumn and winter. Along with the singles, “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses,” my favorites were “Moonlight Mile” and “You Gotta Move.” That last song was credited on the LP in 1971 to Mississippi Fred McDowell, which is what I expected, but the credits on the Sticky Fingers CD release add Rev. Gary Davis, which I did not expect.

Davis recorded his version of the tune in 1953, according to Second Hand Songs, and McDowell’s version was not recorded until 1965 (though he no doubt had been performing the song for years before that). But given that recorded versions of the song date to at least 1944, according to SHS, the credit even to McDowell seems questionable. SHS calls the song traditional.

Wherever it came from, it’s a good song. Here it is as the Stones released it on the No. 1 album from fifty years ago. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 50 Fifty Years Ago

Friday, June 4th, 2021

It’s time for another game of Symmetry, checking out the No. 50 record in the Billboard Hot 100 from the first week of 1971, fifty years ago. Along the way, we’ll check out the Top Ten from that week and see how they stacked up then and whether they matter now.

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten released on June 5 of that year, fifty years ago tomorrow:

“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Joy To The World” by Three Dog Night
“Want Ads” by the Honey Cone
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters
“Bridge Over Troubled Water/Brand New Me” by Aretha Franklin
“Sweet and Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Never Can Say Goodbye” by the Jackson 5
“It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move” by Carole King
“Me and You and A Dog Named Boo” by Lobo

Back then, having just graduated from high school and about to start a summer of lawn-mowing, janitoring and floor-cleaning at St. Cloud State, I liked most of those. The Donny Osmond single left me pretty blah, and something about Lobo’s single bothered me. (Maybe it was “the wheatfields of St. Paul” and the farmer from whom the narrator stole eggs. Not the St. Paul I knew.)

And I do not at all recall hearing Aretha’s cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at the time, even though it went to No. 24 on the Twin Cities’ KDWB. (I don’t think I heard that meditative take on Paul Simon’s masterpiece until I sought it out after reading a Dave Marsh piece about it during the early 1990s.) The flipside went unheard until the Nineties as well.

The others, though, would make up a more than pleasant stretch of listening. My favorites among them? The Stones, Ringo, the Carole King A-side and the Carpenters. And not much has changed today. Those four are in my current day-to-day listening in the iPod, along with “Want Ads” and “Joy To The World.” (I maybe should add “I Feel The Earth Move.” We’ll see.)

Now to our other business, checking out the No. 50 record from fifty years ago. And we find a slow and sad piece of soul from an artist who doesn’t show up here very often: “I Cried” by James Brown. There are several videos of the tune at YouTube, and under one of them, a commenter said, “This is how you sing a soul song.” I agree. (The record went no higher in the Hot 100, but it did go to No. 15 on the magazine’s R&B chart.)

What’s At No. 100? (June 1976)

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten records for the first week of June 1976. We’re going to talk about them a little bit and then drop to the bottom of the chart and see what was at No. 100 that week.

“Love Hangover” by Diana Ross
“Silly Love Songs” by Wings
“Get Up And Boogie (That’s Right)” by Silver Convention
“Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore
“Happy Days” by Pratt & McLain
“Shannon” by Henry Gross
“Welcome Back” by John Sebastian
“Sara Smile” by Daryl Hall & John Oates
“Shop Around” by the Captain & Tennille
“Fool To Cry/Hot Stuff” by the Rolling Stones

Boy, forty-five years later, I really like only one of those: Moore’s heart-breaking, lovelorn “Misty Blue.”  As I wrote not quite three years ago:

From the opening piano cascades and Moore’s first “Ooooooooh” through the last “My whole world turns misty blue” three-and-a-half minutes later, this record reminds anyone who hears it exactly how it was, at least once, maybe twice, maybe three times in a lifetime. Anyone who’s truly lived has been in that misty blue world. And it’s a good thing to be reminded of that once in a while.

As for the rest, there are some virtues: “Silly Love Songs” has a world-class bass line, but is really just another McCartney trifle (this time about writing trifles). “Sara Smile” is sweet. “Fool To Cry” has a great Jagger vocal, but I can take or leave the flip side. The Captain & Tennille manage not to offend the Miracles with their cover of “Shop Around.” And silly as it is, “Get Up And Boogie (That’s Right)” was fun as the disco era was dawning.

I didn’t care about “Love Hangover” one way or another (and still don’t), but “Happy Days,” “Shannon,” and “Welcome Back” were all records that make me push the button for another station. (Actually, “Shannon” popped up the other day when I was taking a nap with the cable company’s Seventies channel on in the background. I heard the opening, groaned, rolled over and went back to sleep.)

And these days? I was stunned to find that none of those eleven records was in the iPod, the source of my day-to-day listening. I quickly added “Misty Blue,” and my work there was done. “Silly Love Songs” and “Fool To Cry” might be added later today.

Digging deeper into the Hot 100 from forty-five years ago this week, we’ll stop at No. 100, where we find a record I’ve never heard before: “Touch & Go” by the group Ecstasy, Passion & Pain, featuring Barbara Roy. It’s a dance outing with a decent instrumental backing, but boy, Roy’s vocals are lacking, being by turns strained and uncertain of pitch.

The R&B/dance group came out of New York City, and before adding “featuring Barbara Roy” to the credits, it had one record bubble under and then three entries reach the Hot 100, with “One Beautiful Day” hitting No. 48 in the spring of 1975. “Touch & Go,” the group’s last charting record, moved up to No. 98 the next week and then was gone.

Chart Digging: LPs, May 1971

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Here are the top ten albums in the Billboard 200 from the third week in May 1971, fifty years ago:

4 Way Street by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Jesus Christ Superstar (Original concept album)
Up To Date by the Partridge Family
Pearl by Janis Joplin
Golden Bisquits by Three Dog Night
Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon by James Taylor
Tapestry by Carole King
Tea For The Tillerman by Cat Stevens
Survival by Grand Funk Railroad
Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones

I know eight of those, and I know most of those eight very well. The only mysteries would be the albums by Grand Funk Railroad and the Partridge Family, though I imagine I might recognize some tracks on the latter from radio play at the time.

I had a copy of 4 Way Street for a time; Rick brought it over one evening in 1974 when he was clearing his shelves of stuff that no longer fit into his listening aesthetic. (He was moving quickly into a heavy Poco and Gram Parsons period.) I’d heard 4 Way Street at his place when he got it, and although I liked some of the performances on it – and I was pleased to have the album at a time when I was homebound – I never did find the album to be essential listening.

There were too many ragged performances, and it just wasn’t fun listening. (As I understand it, of course, the band wasn’t really having fun, either). My vinyl copy of the record left here during the big sell-off a few years ago, I’ve never had a CD copy of the album, and only one track from the album – the lovely performance of “The Lee Shore” – is on the digital shelves.

(I’ve heard some of the live collection from the 1974 tour of the quartet, and those performances sound fairly good. I was at one of those shows, and at least on that evening in St. Paul, it seemed like the four men almost liked each other. I might add that album to the collection someday.)

Of the others, the one I know least is likely the James Taylor album. I have it on the digital shelves but nowhere else, and it’s never seemed essential to me. As to Three Dog Night, the Texas Gal’s long-loved copy of Golden Bisquits is still in the vinyl stacks, and somewhere among the CDs we have a newer anthology from the group.

The other five albums – Jesus Christ Superstar and those by Joplin, Stevens, King, and the Rolling Stones – were essential listening to me during my college and early adulthood years with Tea For The Tillerman coming into the mix a little later than the others. During those years, I’d guess that at least one of those first four – Tapestry, Sticky Fingers, Pearl and Jesus Christ Superstar – was on the stereo every week.

Are they still that vital to me? Let’s check the iPod, where we find one track from Jesus Christ Superstar (the title track), four tracks each from the albums by Stevens and the Rolling Stones, six tracks from Pearl, six tracks from Three Dog Night’s Golden Bisquits, and eight tracks from Tapestry.

When this chart came out, I was seventeen, still three-and-a-half months from eighteen. As always, I ask myself: Is my affection for the music of that time because of the joy of memory or for the quality of the music? Well, it’s great music. Of that, I am certain. But the memories of that time – most of them, anyway – are good, too. So as always, I don’t know.

It’s hard to pick a single favorite track from any of those albums. So I’m going to go with a track from the Joplin album that ran through my dreams the other night when I was not sleeping well: “Half Moon,” written by John and Johanna Hall.