Saturday Single No. 368

We’re going to look around in the early years of my sweet spot today, digging into the Billboard Hot 100 from 1969 through 1971. We’ll be checking the No. 11, No. 30 and No. 100 records on November 30 in those years, looking for something that catches the ear. Along the way, we’ll check the No. 1 record just for fun.

We’ll start with the chart from 1969; as the last day of November that year was a Sunday, the next chart was from December 6, so that’s where we go. The No. 11 record that week was one of my favorites at the time, one I’ve mentioned here many times: “Backfield in Motion” by Mel & Tim, on its way to No 10. Sitting at No. 30 was the Guess Who’s “Undun,” falling back down the list after peaking a week earlier at No. 22.

Filling the very bottom of the Hot 100 as November turned to December that long-ago year was “Camel Back,” an instrumental by the California group A. B. Shky, a record that earns a place in Billboard lore by spending exactly one week in the lowest rung of the chart – in this case at No. 100 – and then going away. And the No. 1 record as November ended in 1969 was Steam’s immortal “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”

In 1970, November 30 was covered by a chart released December 5, and on that day, the No. 11 record was the two-sided “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me/Patch It Up” by Elvis Presley. I recall hearing the first side a lot; I doubt I’d heard “Patch It Up” until this morning. I prefer it to the other side, but then I never much cared for “You Don’t Have To Say  . . .” The two-headed record was in its second week at No. 11 and would begin to fall down the chart in the next week. Sitting at No. 30 that week was one of my favorites, Joe Cocker’s live version of “Cry Me A River” from his Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, heading down the chart after peaking at No. 11.

At the bottom of the chart was Redbone’s “Maggie,” which would climb to No. 80; a re-release in mid-1971 would find the record peaking at No. 45. And the No. 1 record as November turned to December in 1970 was “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family.

A year later, in 1971, the last day of November was still covered in the first chart of December – December 5 – and sitting at No. 11 was Sonny & Cher’s “All I Ever Need Is You,” which was on its way to No. 7. At No. 30, we find “One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)” by Coven, a record that had peaked at No. 26 a week earlier and was beginning its slide down the chart.

Filling the lowest rung on the Hot 100 as November turned to December in 1971 was “Daisy Mae” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, a record that would climb to No. 41. And the No. 1 record that week was Sly & The Family Stone’s “Family Affair.”

Well, there’s a lot of familiar stuff in those spots during those specific weeks, and quite a few records that I’ve liked for a long time. But choosing any of those old friends seems a little too easy.

So we’re going to sit down and listen to “Camel Back” by A. B. Skhy. In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn notes that the group came from San Francisco, but the notes at the video I found this morning indicate a significant Wisconsin background for the group, and Wikipedia in fact says that the group began in Milwaukee during the late 1960s as New Blues. Once in California and playing as A. B. Skhy, the original lineup – along with a seven-piece horn section, according to William Ruhlmann of All Music Guide– recorded one self-titled album for MGM and released the one single, which was written by the group’s keyboard player, Howard Wales. (After some personnel changes, the group recorded and released a second album in 1970.)

All of that – the Upper Midwest connection, the single hitting the lowest rung of the Hot 100 for just one week, the utter funkiness of the record, and the fact that the group’s keyboard player was the song’s writer – makes this an easy choice: A. B. Skhy’s “Camel Back” is today’s Saturday Single.


One Response to “Saturday Single No. 368”

  1. porky says:

    I hate the Grateful Dead but Wales and Garcia did a record I actually like called “Hooteroll?.”

    My Milwaukee friends all remembered this tune. The first :50 sounds like theme music for a wacky 70’s sitcom.

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