In what might have been the worst-kept secret in Chicago, WCFL Radio switched from rock and pop music to a “beautiful music” format on March 15, 1976. It had been the #2 AM rock station in Chicago and was losing audience both to WLS and to the panoply of FM rock stations that had been springing up all through the Seventies, and the Chicago Federation of Labor, which owned the station, decided that they didn’t want to operate a rock station, anyway. They issued the last survey of their rock days on February 21, roughly three weeks before the big change. Here’s the Top 10 from that survey.
- Rhythm Heritage, “Theme from SWAT” Composed for the 1975 TV series by Barry DeVorzon, it was recorded by Rhythm Heritage and appeared on their debut album Disco-fied. It reached #1 nationwide on February 28; it had jumped all the way to #10 from #18 on the Super CFL survey, where it remains. A modified version of the song is used for the reboot, starring Shemar Moore; as with all of the other reboots curently on CBS, the theme songs and character names are all that’s the same.
- The Who, “Squeeze Box” From The Who By Numbers, this is a song about a woman who plays the accordion. Any other interpretation is just wrong. (Yeah, right…) Up from #14 the week before.
- Fleetwood Mac, “Over My Head” The first time I heard this was Fleetwood Mac, I had a hard time accepting it. To me, Fleetwood Mac was Peter Green’s guitar and British blues at its finest. This just made no sense. Anyway, this announced the metamorphosis of FM into a more pop-oriented ensemble, and the new sound was well-received. Up from #9 the week before.
- Bee Gees, “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” The song didn’t ring a bell with me, and after playing it I can honestly say I don’t remember it. It had jumped from #10 the previous week, so how I missed it is a mystery.
- Eric Carmen, “All By Myself” From Carmen’s self-titled debut album, it’s based on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 in C minor, and the chorus was lifted from Carmen’s “Let’s Pretend,” which he composed and recorded with The Cranberries in 1972. I didn’t find a shorter version, but given CFL’s tendency to record a 45 RPM record at 48 RPM, and assuming my math is correct, the song ran for half a minute less there. Up from #11 the week before.
- Kiss, “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night” Kiss’s popularity was at a peak in the mid-70’s despite the fact that it was generally agreed that “they suck.” This was headed down CFL’s chart from #2 the week before.
- Electric Light Orchestra, “Evil Woman” This was ELO’s first big hit, from their album Face The Music. It was written by band leader and future Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne and hadn’t moved from #4 the week before.
- The Four Seasons, “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)” From their Who Loves You album, this was written by keyboard player Bob Gaudio and sung by Gary Polci. Up from #6 the week before.
- Neil Sedaka, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” This is the slower and bluesier version of the song that I got the impression few people enjoyed as much as the 1962 version, which starts this out. Up from #3 the previous week.
- Paul Simon, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” Remaining in the top position from the week before is this from Paul’s Still Crazy After All These Years.
WCFL’s spot on the AM dial (1000 kHz) is now held by sports-talk station WSCR (“The Score”). The call letters are owned by a religious broadcaster in Morris, Illinois which acts as a repeater station for one in Champaign. The spirit of the old station lives on thanks to WCFLChicago.com, operated by JR Russ.
And that’s your Friday 5×2 for February 9, 2018.