I had built this playlist a couple of weeks ago, thinking I’d use it on New Year’s, then decided not to use it. So, let’s give it a listen today.
On January 1, 1969, WLS Radio in Chicago released their year-end survey for 1968, also known as “The Big 89 for 1968.” Here are the top ten songs from that survey.
- The Rolling Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” It’s hard to believe that this song is over 50 years old. Nationally, this only made it to #50 for the year.
- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, “Fire” It doesn’t surprise me this was #9 for the year. Nationally, it only reached #39.
- Marvin Gaye, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” This is amazing: this song only got to #88 on the Hot 100 for the year. It’s a Motown classic and has been covered many times. What can I say?
- Mary Hopkin, “Those Were The Days” Mary Hopkin was one of the first artists to record on The Beatles’ Apple Records, and I’ve heard some accounts that say she was the first act that wasn’t The Beatles. A cover of Paul McCartney’s song from the *Magical Mystery Tour* album. Only reached #30 nationally.
- Ohio Express, “Yummy Yummy Yummy” Bubblegum music did quite well in Chicago, much to everyone’s chagrin, and this was one of the first songs of the genre. Nationally, it reached #38.
- Herb Alpert, “This Guy’s In Love With You” Nationally, this reached #7, so we weren’t entirely crazy.
- Jeannie C. Riley, “Harper Valley PTA” Country songs were still making it on pop radio in 1968, and this song inspired a 1978 movie and a 1981 TV series, both of which starred the lovely Barbara Eden. Nationally it rose to #11 for the year.
- Bobby Goldsboro, “Honey” A bit sappy, but I liked it and could play it on the guitar. Wasn’t until many years later I realized it was about suicide. This was also the #3 song nationally.
- Paul Mauriat, “Love Is Blue” This was a huge hit for M. Mauriat and remains a beautiful song. There was only one record that did better than it, both in Chicago and nationally, and it was…
- The Beatles, “Hey Jude/Revolution” In Chicago, this was a two-sided single where both sides were considered to reach #1. Nationally, “Hey Jude” topped the list while “Revolution” only made it to #78. Nevertheless, because I prefer “Revolution,” that’s what’s in the playlist. You can find “Hey Jude” here.
And that’s the Friday 5×2 for January 12, 2018.
Well, here we are at the end of the Seventies in our survey of one-hit wonders. I had intended on continuing through the Eighties, then looked at the songs and realized I couldn’t remember that many. In short, we’re at the end. And the crowd roars its approval…
- Nicolette Larson, “Lotta Love” Nicolette had a great voice and was quite lovely, as you can see, so it was a surprise to learn she only had the one pop hit, which reached #8 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. She had a hit in 1986 with “That’s How You Know Love’s Right” with Steve Wariner that reached #9 on the Country chart. She married Russ Kunkel, drummer for The Section (James Taylor’s backup band) in 1990 and had one child with him, then died in 1999.
- Bobby Caldwell, “What You Won’t Do For Love” A tune that still receives considerable airplay on smooth jazz stations, it was Bobby’s only pop hit, reaching #9 on the Hot 100, #6 on the R&B chart, and #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
- Randy VanWarmer, “Just When I Needed You Most” Randy’s one big hit was this one, which reached #4 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. He wrote several songs for The Oak Ridge Boys, including their #1 hit, “I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes.” Randy passed awway in 2004 of leukemia.
- David Naughton, “Makin’ It” David Naughton started out doing Dr Pepper commercials (“I’m a Pepper, you’re a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, wouldn’tcha like to be a Pepper, too?”) then landed a role on the short-lived sitcom Makin’ It (lasted all of nine episodes). The theme song entered the Top 40 two months after the show was canceled, and peaked at #5.
- Nick Lowe, “Cruel To Be Kind” Nick Lowe is a highly successful singer, songwriter, and producer in the UK, but had limited success in the US. This song reached #12 and was his only US hit.
- The Buggles, “Video Killed The Radio Star” The Buggles were a New Wave band that were led by bassist and vocalist Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes. The song only reached #40 in the US but was #1 in much of the rest of the world, and is best remembered as the first music video played on the nascent MTV Network in 1982. Downes left the band to help Steve Howe form the band Asia the day they were due to go into the studio to record their second album.
- Anita Ward, “Ring My Bell” Despite Steve Dahl’s declaration that disco was dead, it was still a force in 1979. Anita Ward was a schoolteacher in Tennessee when she signed with TK Records. The owner of the label, Frederick Knight, had written this as a teen song about talking on the telephone, and Ms. Ward was reluctant to do it. They rewrote the lyrics to be more (ahem) “adult,” and she recorded it. It reached #1 in the US, Canada, and the UK, and was her only hit.
- Nigel Olsson, Dancin’ Shoes” Elton John’s longtime drummer had recorded a number of singles since 1971, but this was the first and only one to reach the Top 20. It peaked at #18 on the Hot 100 and #8 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
- Tycoon, “Such A Woman” New York City-based Tycoon recorded two albums for Arista Records, and released this as their one and only single. It reached #26.
- Herman Brood, “Saturdaynight” Dutch artist and rocker Brood typified the “live fast, die young” lifestyle. This was his only Top 40 hit in the US, and it only reached #35. It was from his second studio album, 1978’s Shpritsz, considered by many to be the fourth-best Dutch album of all time.
And that is your Friday 5×2 for January 5, 2018.
So, we’re almost at the end of the Seventies. 1978 was the year I graduated from college (BBA, Loyola University Chicago), got married, and started working for a living. In fact, I had two jobs, my first lasting all of six months. I seem to have a better recollection of the music from this year, and there were some iconic songs, and a few that went on to become hits for other artists. Here are ten of them.
- Randy Newman, “Short People” We had a bridesmaid in our wedding who was all of 4’11” tall who hated this song. Interesting that Randy Newman is considered a one-hit wonder, considering the number of songs he’s written that were hits for other artists. This was a #1 hit when we got married.
- Johnny Paycheck, “Take This Job And Shove It” Jonathon Brandmeier, who was a radio personality in Chicago, had a weekly feature called the “Shove-It Line” on Fridays, where people who were fed up with the week would call in and tell their bosses where they could stick their jobs. Usually the last person was someone who was celebrating their last day on the job. I was tempted to call in for more than a couple of jobs. This was a #1 hit on the Country charts in the US and Canada, his only #1 in a career that started in the Sixties.
- Steve Martin & The Toot Uncommon, “King Tut” A real classic. This is the performance from Saturday Night Live that had Mary and I gasping for air, we were laughing so hard. That’s Lou Marini, former saxophonist for Blood, Sweat & Tears and The Blues Brothers Band, emerging from the sarcophagus for his solo. (I’m not sure that’s the “sarcophagus,” but it sounds better than “mummy case.”) Reached #14 on the Hot 100.
- Exile, “Kiss You All Over” Exile reached #1 for four weeks in October, their only success on the pop charts. They moved on to country music in the Eighties after two follow-up singles failed to reach the Top 20.
- Nick Gilder, “Hot Child In The City” This was Nick Gilder’s only Top 20 hit in the US, though he reached #1 in his native Canada with “Roxy Roller” in 1976. The song was featured in the 1984 movie Angel (“honor student by day – hooker by night!”), one of my guilty pleasures (it was actually pretty good), from which the clips that comprise the video were taken.
- John Paul Young, “Love Is In The Air” Scottish-born Australian pop singer Young had his one taste of international success with this, which went to #7 in the US. I think of this video whenever I hear it, because you can hear it starting at 1:15. Worth it to watch if only to see how far we’ve come in computer graphics in the last 35 years.
- Alicia Bridges, “I Love The Nightlife” I’m breaking my own “no disco!” rule for this one, mostly because I remember this SCTV sketch (you can hear Eugene Levy-as-Perry Como’s version at 1:00). Alicia reached #2 with this and had further success on the dance chart.
- Patti Smith Group, “Because The Night” Reached #17 in June, helping sales of her Easter album and giving her second thoughts about retiring. The song was written by Bruce Springsteen and later covered by 10,000 Maniacs in 1993 for an episode of MTV Unplugged, the version I remenber best.
- Walter Egan, “Magnet And Steel” Walter was backed by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on his one Top 20 hit, which spent 22 weeks on the chart and went as high as #8.
- LeBlanc & Carr, “Falling” Lenny LeBlanc had been in a band with Pete Carr, who was a producer and session guitarist in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Carr convinced LeBlanc to join him, and they recorded three singles together, including this, which reached #8. They were evidently bumped from the flight that killed several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, after whih LeBlanc became a born-again Christian and started recording Christian-themed music. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember hearing this one.
And that’s your Friday 5×2 for December 29, 2017. Happy New Year!
Moving on through the Seventies, we reach 1977. I’ll be honest, I don’t recognize some of the songs here. By ’77, I was too busy to listen to a whole lot of music: I was gearing up to finish school in December, I was hip-deep in making wedding arrangements, and didn’t bring my stereo with me to the dorm, because it was too much of a hassle. But I did manage to catch a lot of radio, I just wasn’t listening very hard.
- Ram Jam, “Black Betty” “Black Betty” was originally recorded by the band Starstruck, of which Bill Bartlett (formerly of The Lemon Pipers, of “Green Tambourine” fame) was a member. The record was a regional hit and caught the attention of producers, who created Ram Jam to record it and eleven other songs. Their record reached #18 on the Hot 100 and #14 on the Cash Box 100. Ram Jam then faded into obscurity.
- Sanford-Townsend Band, “Smoke From A Distant Fire” This is one I have to admit I don’t remember, even though it went to #9. Ed Sanford and Johnny Townsend were session keyboardists from Alabama who recorded an album in 1976, from which this was taken. Future records by the duo were nowhere near as successful, though they have had success as songwriters: they wrote the Loggins & Messina song “Peacemaker” with Kenny Loggins, and Sanford co-wrote “I Keep Forgettin'” with Michael McDonald.
- David Dundas, “Jeans On” Another song I don’t remember. Dundas charted at #17 in the US with this, as well as reaching #4 in his native UK and #1 in Germany.
- Mary MacGregor, “Torn Between Two Lovers” Mary first gained attention as a backup singer for Peter Yarrow (the Peter of Peter, Paul and Mary). This was the title track from her 19765 album, and it reached #1 on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. She later said she hated the song, which is about a married woman having an affair. She had limited success on the AC chart after that.
- Thelma Houston, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” Thelma reached #1 with this song on the Hot 100, R&B and Dance charts with this one, and earned the Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance. She has had a couple more hits on the R&B and Dance charts, but this was her only top 20 hit.
- David Soul, “Don’t Give Up On Us” The “Hutch” portion of the hit TV series Starsky & Hutch found the time to record a self-titled album in 1976, from which this was taken. It reached #1 in both the US and UK in 1977. He’s had a couple more hits in the UK and is now a British citizen.
- William Bell, “Tryin’ To Love Two” Bell had already been a veteran of the R&B charts since 1961, but this was his one crossover hit, reaching #10. Another I wasn’t familiar with.
- Alan O’Day, “Undercover Angel” Alan is better known as a songwriter, having written Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby” and The Righteous Brothers’ “Rock & Roll Heaven,” but he scored a #1 hit with this. He moved on to scoring TV series in the Eighties.
- The Floaters, “Float On” There are some songs you just remember, and this is one of them for me, mostly because of the singers announcing their Zodiac sign at the beginning of the long version of this as well as at the beginning of each verse. This is the shorter single version, which reached #2 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart.
- Meri Wilson, “Telephone Man” Singer and model Meri Wilson was known for her novelty songs that featured double-entendre lyrics. Dr. Demento played this song on his weekly show and it became a surprise hit, reaching #18 and earning Gold status. It was a back-to-back hit with ELO’s “Telephone Line” for two non-consecutive weeks over the summer.
And that’s your Friday 5×2 for December 22, 2017.
So far, I’ve done my level best not to include any disco in these lists. This time, though, I was caught between having to do two TV themes (I’m doing one) and “Junk Food Junkie,” throwing in a song or two I don’t recall (and still don’t after hearing them), or doing a couple of disco tunes, and chose the third option. Still, there are some real favorites of mine here.
- Elvin Bishop Group, “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” Bishop was an original member of The Butterfield Blues Band and played with them through 1967’s The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw. He returned to his native Texas and started doing country as well as blues. This was the only hit for them, which peaked at #3.
- Starbuck, “Moonlight Feels Right” You already know how much I love this song, so I’ll just mention that it reached #3 in 1976.
- Thin Lizzy, “The Boys Are Back In Town” This Irish hard-rock band had already reached #1 in their native Ireland and #6 in the UK with their first single, a rock version of the pub song “Whiskey In The Jar,” but this was the only song to crack the Top 20 in the US, peaking at #12.
- Henry Gross, “Shannon” Originally a member of Sha Na Na, Henry left in 1970 to concentrate on singing and sonwgwriting. He wrote this song to commemorate the passing of Brian Wilson’s Irish Setter, Shannon. It reached #6 on the Hot 100, #5 on the Cash Box survey, and #1 in Canada and New Zealand, but only got to #32 in the UK.
- Starland Vocal Band, “Afternoon Delight” This quartet from Washington, DC reached #1 with this song and parlayed it into a six-week variety show on CBS during the summer of 1977. Two of the members, Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, wrote “I Guess He’d Rather Be In Colorado” and later co-wrote “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with John Denver.
- Keith Carradine, “I’m Easy” From the 1975 Robert Altman film Nashville, it won the 1976 Oscar for Best Original Song, the only one the movie won (it was nominated for five Academy Awards). It reached #17 on the Hot 100 and earned Carradine a Golden Globe.
- Bellamy Brothers, “Let Your Love Flow” A country duo from Darby, Florida, this was their only crossover hit, which reached #1 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart, as well as #21 on the Country chart. In 1979, they reached #1 on the Country chart with “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me” and had a few other Country #1’s in the Eighties.
- The Wing And A Prayer Fife And Drum Corps, “Baby Face” As I recall, this song had reached the Top 20 in every decade beginning in the Twenties when this disco version came out. This song was the reason our first cat, Kismet, was called Kittyface, because I used to carry her around the house singing “Kittyface, you’ve got the cutest little Kittyface” to her. She wasn’t thrilled.
- Cyndi Grecco, “Making Our Dreams Come True” Both the theme songs from Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley reached the Top 20 in 1976. This is the theme from the latter, just because I like it better. It only reached #25. One comment about the song was that it was better than the show. That’s a little harsh…
- Andrea True Connection, “More, More, More (Part 1)” Former porn actress Andrea True used the money she earned in Jamaica doing commercials for a real estate company, which she couldn’t bring into the US because the US imposed sanctions due to the election of a pro-Castro president, to record the demo of this song. By that time she had tired of making adult films, saying she’d rather work as a waitress or a typist than make another one. The song reached #4 on the Hot 100, and a followup single, “N. Y., You Got Me Dancing” reached #27 the following year.
And that’s your Friday 5×2 for December 15, 2017.