AT40 expanded from three to four hours in October 78. For at least a couple of years before that, they’d resorted to editing down one or more songs each show to make everything fit; singles had simply gotten longer on average as the decade passed. I had definitely noticed the shortened songs at the time—how could you not? My name for the practice back then was cutting, and it made me pretty unhappy when one of my favorites was “cut.” Apparently the hourly commercial load has increased a little from the 70s, as the folks at Premiere have introduced their own edits on many shows for the weekly rebroadcasts (though to be fair, I get the impression they may also sometimes restore songs to their full length).
I wonder how Casey’s staff felt when really long songs charted before the expansion. “Bohemian Rhapsody” went 5:55, and I’ve read that it was never edited during its sixteen week AT40 run over February-May 76. A few months later, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (single length 5:57) landed on the show, on the last weekend of September. Then two weeks later, things got much more challenging when Peter Frampton’s third single from Frampton Comes Alive, “Do You Feel Like We Do” (7:19), popped in at #39. Those songs were together for ten countdowns. Based on a quick examination of the cue sheets (courtesy Charis Music Group), my best guess is that they played Lightfoot in full a little more than half the time, but Frampton got edited every time except for his debut week. Some of it’s that extra minute-twenty, but there’s the whole story-song-vs.-live-track-with-four-minutes-of-guitar-noodling thing going on, too.
There were four occasions (10/23 and the first three weeks of November) when the two songs were played in the same hour of the show, and I’ve checked to see how that was handled. I was curious about one thing in particular: ordinarily in the latter years of the three-hour era, they’d split the songs up 14-13-13 (in some order), but did they do a 14-14-12 on any of those four shows? The answer turns out to be yes—once, on 11/6, when Frampton was #11 and Lightfoot #3. It wouldn’t have surprised me had it happened more than that. (As a kicker, another Queen song, “Somebody To Love” (4:57), joined the show at the beginning of December—these three epics were all on for two weeks.)
“Do You Feel Like We Do” had dropped back from its #10 peak to the second hour, at #15, on this week’s countdown. I’m in the mood to hear the entire 14:15 from the album— to borrow a line from another lengthy live 70s track, how ‘bout you?
P.S.: This is one of the “slow faller” showss I had on my mind a few weeks ago when I looked at rolling averages of numbers of debuts. There are just two new songs here, after only three the previous week. In the first hour of the show, we find “She’s Gone,” “You Are My Starship,” and “A Fifth of Beethoven” all dropping two spots, to #39, #37, and #36, respectively, “Nice ‘n’ Naasty” falling five to #35, and “Play That Funky Music” down seven to #34. It continued the next week; that show’s opening hour would feature fallers dropping two, zero, one, five, seven, and four spots from what we hear this time.