Posts Tagged ‘Who [The]’

Survey Digging: May 31, 1969

Friday, May 31st, 2019

It’s time for a visit to the Airheads Radio Survey Archive to check out what folks were listening to around the country fifty years ago, as May 1969 drew to a close. We’ll check out the No. 31 record at four stations and note the No. 1 and No. 2 records as well.

We’ll start in New York City with the Music Power Survey at WABC. Parked in the No. 31 slot in the survey was “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker & The Aces. The first portion of the second sentence of the Wikipedia entry on the record sums up my memory of the single: “Although few could understand all the lyrics . . .” I recall straining my ears to figure out what the song was about and not really succeeding for years. Wikipedia goes on to note, “the single was the first UK reggae number one and among the first to reach the US top ten (peaking at number 9). It combined the Rastafarian religion with rude boy concerns, to make what has been described as a ‘timeless masterpiece that knew no boundaries’.”

(The “rude boy” culture in Jamaica, another Wikipedia entry points out, correlates roughly with what’s called “gangsta” culture in the U.S.)

Sitting at No. 2 at WABC fifty years ago was “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, while the No. 1 record was the Beatles’ “Get Back.”

We’ll head south along the East Coast and make a stop in Miami, where we’ll take a look at the Fabulous 56 Survey from WQAM. The No. 31 record there as May 1969 came to a close was “Goodbye” by Mary Hopkin. The song was written by Paul McCartney (though credited, as was the arrangement at the time, to John Lennon as well). McCartney also produced the recording, adding bass, an acoustic guitar solo and the somewhat odd acoustic guitar introduction. I recall liking the record, which makes sense as it’s kind of a sappy and sad love song, and anyone who’s read this blog more than once knows that’s one of my soft spots. The record peaked at No. 13 in the Billboard Hot 100 and went to No. 6 on the magazine’s easy listening chart.

The No. 2 record on the Fabulous 56 was the Guess Who’s “These Eyes” and the Beatles’ “Get Back” and its flip, “Don’t Let Me Down,” were listed as a double No. 1.

Our next stop is in Tucson, Arizona, home of KTKT and its mundanely named “Top Forty.” The No. 31 record in that part of the southwest on May 31, 1969, was “Pinball Wizard” by the Who. The centerpiece in the group’s rock opera Tommy, the record – full of slashing acoustic guitars and suspended chords (among my favorite sounds) – doesn’t sound nearly as loud or disruptive to me now as it did fifty years ago. I know I didn’t hear it a lot back then, but I sought it out about a year later when I came across the piano arrangement for the song and began to work on it at the keyboard. I got pretty good at it, but it never sounded as cool on the piano as it does on the Who’s guitars, so I let it go. The record went to 19 on the Hot 100.

Sitting at No. 2 on KTKT fifty years ago was, again, “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, and the station’s No. 1 record was “Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet” by Henry Mancini.

I was going to end this trip in the Twin Cities, but WDGY’s survey only goes to No. 30, and KDWB didn’t release a 6+30 Survey until June 2. So we’ll finish our excursion with the Entertainment Survey from WLTH in Gary, Indiana. The No. 31 record there fifty years ago today was a favorite of mine: “Where’s The Playground Susie” by Glen Campbell. I wrote some years ago about discovering the song on a live Campbell recording given to me in a box of cassettes: “[W]hen I heard Campbell’s live performance of what was another [Jimmy] Webb gem, the sweep of its melody, the sadness and confusion in its words and the playground metaphor all made me sit up and take notice.” The record went to No. 26 on the Hot 100, to No. 10 on the easy listening chart and to No. 28 on the country chart.

The No. 2 record at WLTH fifty years ago was, as in New York and Tucson, “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, and – as in Miami – the No. 1 spot was the double-sided “Get Back/Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles.

(As it happens, I could not have pulled any information from a June 2, 1969, edition of KDWB’s 6+30. The station did not begin calling its survey the 6+30 until the end of June in 1969. Before then, the station’s survey was called the Heavy Hit List. It had other names earlier than that, I know. Perhaps someday I will sort them all out. Note added June 1, 2019.)

Going Random Through The Eighties

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Last week, I took a six-tune random walk through the Seventies. Today, with my creativity evidently in a waning rather than a waxing phase, it seems like a good idea to do the same with a decade I tend to ignore: the Eighties. There are about 4,500 tunes from that decade in the RealPlayer, so let’s see where we end up.

Our first stop is a track from Showdown!, an album released in 1985 by blues veterans Johnny Copeland and Albert Collins and the newcomer (at the time) Robert Cray. Trading guitar solos and vocal takes throughout the album, the three bluesmen put together a set that All-Music Guide calls “scorching.” This morning’s track – “The Dream” – finds Cray taking care of the vocal and Collins adding the solo guitar work.

Then it’s onto a Duke Ellington/Bob Russell tune as interpreted by a Sixties icon for an album that originally wasn’t available in much of the world: “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” was recorded by Paul McCartney for his album Снова в СССP, which was issued in 1988 only in the Soviet Union. According to Wikipedia, McCartney “intended Снова в СССР as present for Soviet fans who were generally unable to obtain his legitimate recordings, often having to make do with copies; they would, for a change, have an album that people in other countries would be unable to obtain.” The Soviet release contained eleven songs at first, with two tracks added for later pressings. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the album was released world-wide in 1991 with one more additional track.

One of the mainstays of my music collection – and this will likely be no surprise – is Gordon Lightfoot. While he didn’t issue albums in the 1980s with the frequency that he did in the previous two decades, his Eighties work includes some of my favorites, especially the1986  album East of Midnight. While the track “Anything For Love” doesn’t top the list of my favorites from that effort – the title track does – it’s still a good effort worth a listen, and it’s our third stop this morning.

Hailing from near Liverpool, China Crisis started as a duo, according to AMG. But when Virgin Records picked up the single “African and White” in 1982, Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon put together a full band. The group never made much headway in the U.S., with only two of their eight albums even making it into the lower half of the Billboard 200 and one single – “Working With Fire and Steel” – reaching No. 27on the Dance Music/Club Play list. But somehow, I came up with a copy of the group’s 1985 album, Flaunt the Imperfection, and “Bigger the Punch I’m Feeling” from that album is where today’s journey finds its fourth stop.

It’s Hard, the 1982 album by the Who, contains one tune that truly grabs me: “Eminence Front.” Other than that, the album – billed as the last by the group at the time and released in conjunction with what was called a final tour – is kind of blah. That album’s “Why Did I Fall for That” is the RealPlayer’s fifth stop this morning. It’s a tune that has always come off to me as an inferior remake of the brilliant “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from the similarly brilliant Who’s Next.

And we come at last to a track from one of the albums I had long included on what I call my hopeless list: Albums I wanted to hear but that I thought were lost for one reason or another. In early 2007, during the first incarnation of this blog, I wrote a bit about the late Tom Jans, mentioning his final album Champion, which was released only in Japan in 1982. Having cobbled together a collection of the rest of Jans’ brief oeuvre, I dug a bit for the album without result and then gave up the quest. But during 2009, fellow blogger Chun Tao at Rare MP3 came up with a copy of Champion, which was as good as I’d hoped it would be. Here’s the magnificently sorrowful “Mother’s Eyes,” the final track on the album.

A Note:
A little more than a year ago, after I landed here at my own place, I began to set up an archive of the posts from Echoes In The Wind during its Blogger and WordPress days. That effort flagged for several reasons, and when I returned to it over the weekend, I decided to start over again. So at Echoes In The Wind Archives, I’m working on reposting material – without any active music links – from early 2007 through January 2010. As I said once before, I’m not sure how much interest there might be in my archives, but the site will eventually allow me to see what I might previously have written (as it did today in the case of Tom Jans).

Saturday Single No. 205

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Back in grade school – probably in fifth grade at Lincoln Elementary – we had a discussion one day on how newspapers work and how reporters do their jobs. It was pretty basic, focusing on the W’s: who, what, when, where and why. As basic as that is, it’s pretty accurate; focus on those five things, with an occasional excursion to look at “how,” and you’ll find your news story on just about anything you run into.

Being a news junkie already at the age of ten – if it was fifth grade, which I think it was – I found the discussion fascinating. I certainly didn’t realize at the time that the five W’s were going to be the foundation of a great deal of my life. But I had a glimmering idea that out of those five questions, the one that would interest me most was “why?”

Frankly, it’s not a question that’s easily answered by basic and immediate reporting. Knowing why something happens usually takes a bit longer to sort out. Sometimes it’s a question never answered. I think of the major news story of that year in fifth grade, maybe the major news story of my childhood. The lead paragraphs of the stories in every newspaper around the U.S. were pretty much the same, something like: “President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed today as he rode in a motorcade through downtown Dallas, Texas.” You’ve got your who, what, when and where right there. There was another “who” to come, as in who did it?  The answer to that, we’ve been told, is Lee Harvey Oswald. (I have my doubts.) But we’re almost forty-seven years gone from that day, and we still don’t know why. Think about that: Nearly a half-century after John Kennedy was killed, we still have no answer for one of the five most basic questions about the event.

Maybe it was that juxtaposition – the assassination of JFK with the classroom discussion of the basic functions of reporting – that shaped me. I don’t know. I’d never put the two together until this morning. But it could very well be that it was those two events that put me on the track of those five basic questions, especially “why?” Once I got into weekly newspapering, it was pleasing to realize that weekly publications can look more closely at the why and how of things than can dailies, which are swept along by immediate happenings.

That’s not to say that dailies don’t do analysis nor that weeklies don’t every once in a while cover a story that requires speed and limits reflection, but the general trend is there. And that suited me, for if one can have a favorite question in life, then I guess my favorite question is “Why?”

That extends to things beyond newspapering and beyond the regular chatter of day-to-day life. I occasionally had colleagues at the various newspapers where I worked who liked the same sort of thought. Late one Thursday afternoon during my years in Monticello, my colleague Bruce and I were sitting at the coffee table, and somehow the conversation wandered to the purpose of life, probably an outgrowth of something less than pleasant that had happened that week. I said something like, “So what’s the use? What is our purpose?”

“I don’t know,” Bruce said. Then he turned to a high school gal who did cleaning and other odd jobs at the paper. “What do you think, Steph? Why are we here?”

“Well,” she said as she dusted off a nearby counter, “I don’t know about you guys, but I work on Thursdays. That’s why I’m here.”

That might be the best answer I’ll ever get. So here’s a six-song trail of “Why,” with the final song in the trail being this morning’s destination:

First comes “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love” by Veronica, a 1963 tune produced by Phil Spector. Also recorded by Sonny & Cher and a garage-rockabilly called the A-Bones that was active in the 1990s, the song gets the full Wall of Sound production for Veronica, who was better known as Ronnie Bennett of the Ronettes and later as Ronnie Spector. I have, appropriately, questions for which I cannot quickly find answers this morning: Is this the same recording that has in later years been identified as a Ronettes’ performance? Or were there two recordings of the song? I don’t know. Either way, the record does not seem to have charted.

Moving on, we run into “Why Can’t You Love Me,” a 1965 Atlantic release from Barbara Lynn. Three years earlier, her “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” went to No. 8 and was No. 1 on the R&B charts for three weeks. Though I can’t be sure, “Why Can’t You Love Me,” a nice slice of mellow R&B on Atlantic, doesn’t seem to have dented the pop chart.

Third in line is “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me” by Bullmoose Jackson & His Buffalo Bearcats, a piece of jump blues/early R&B that was recorded in New York City and released on the King label in 1949. The record, says Wikipedia, was a cover of a tune “that had been successful for Wayne Raney as well as several country and western performers.” It’s a fun track, clearly a relic of a musical era that was vital before I was born.

And we stay in that era but switch genres, with Hank Williams’ “Why Don’t You Love Me,” an MGM release recorded during January 1950 at the Tulane Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The somewhat silly but still plaintive song – “Why don’t you love me like you used to do” – likely made the country chart of the time, but the notes for the CD where I found it are horribly insufficient. All-Music Guide says that the record went to No. 61 on the country chart in 1976, long after Williams’ death; I’m guessing the song was released as a single in connection with the release of a greatest hits album.

We move on to Mickey Newbury and his 1973 performance of “Why You Been Gone So Long” from the album Heaven Help the Child. I’ve written about Newbury at least once, noting his status as a country writer and performer who could easily have crossed over and who also could have been far more famous with a little more luck. On the other hand, I’ve gotten the sense that Newbury preferred a little anonymity, so who knows? From what I can tell, neither “Why You Been Gone So Long” nor Heaven Help the Child made the charts.

And our sixth stop this morning on the chain of whys is the Who’s “Why Did I Fall For That,” a track from the group’s 1982 album It’s Hard. The album made it to No. 8 on the Billboard chart, and five different singles from the record made it to one chart or another. “Why Did I Fall For That” was not among them. Nevertheless, it’s today’s Saturday Single:

The Who – “Why Did I Fall For That” from It’s Hard [1982]

Reader and pal Yah Shure passed on some chart information after I posted this. He noted that, as I suspected, Hank Williams’ “Why Don’t You Love Me” did make the country chart upon its original release in 1950, and that’s an understatement: The MGM release was No. 1 on the country chart for ten weeks. As to Mickey Newbury’s Heaven Help the Child LP, it made it to No. 173 on the Billboard 200. There was, however, no single release of “Why You Been Gone So Long,” as I suspected.