American Top 40 PastBlast, 11/24/79: Cheap Trick, “Dream Police”

On the first weekend of January 2007, Premiere Networks began offering remastered AT40s from the 1970s to terrestrial radio stations (it was 1/31/76, for the record). This past weekend, 11/24/79–the last regular Casey-voiced countdown from that 9.5 year span–was finally re-played. It had been the only remaining such show for two years, ever since 12/1/79 had been rebroadcast toward the end of 2020. Obsessive AT40-philes (raises hand, I suppose) can perhaps breathe a little easier now that they’re all out there.

(It’s not a surprise that the last shows to see the light of day were from 1979. Premiere initially was unsure what to do with 70s countdowns between 10/7/78 and 12/22/79, after AT40 had become a four-hour affair. They didn’t offer any up from that block until November 2010, and even then it was only the last three hours. The first hour began being provided as optional about 18 months later, and to do this day only a few stations will play it–I can imagine the pain it could be for stations to deal with the variable length. Many thanks go to Matt, who has compiled and curated the history of the series’ offerings in a thread on the AT40 Fun & Games site.)

As for the special shows consisting of all or mostly pre-70s songs, my guess is those aren’t likely ever to be wheeled out. The same is largely true for guest-hosted shows, though a couple have been offered as bonuses in recent years following the passing of said guest host (Dick Clark, Mark Elliott). I’ve been tuning in now (again) for more than a decade; while I haven’t heard them all yet, I’m among the many who are grateful for all those who’ve labored over this project, particularly Shannon Lynn. I joke with my wife that should I ever get dementia she’ll have to endure my blathering on about the Top 40 and the songs of my youth–I suspect that all these weekends since 2012 I’ve been spending in Casey’s company have only increased that likelihood?

I’m one of the few people I know who isn’t a big fan of Cheap Trick’s breakthrough single, the at Budokan version of “I Want You to Want Me.” (I mean, it’s not bad–it just never captivated me.) The lead single/title song from the studio album that followed, though? That’s absolutely the stuff, my fave song of theirs to this day. I didn’t know “Surrender” at the time, so I wasn’t aware of how “Dream Police” echoes it to a decent extent. But the energy, the strings, the three 3/4 measures inserted in the driving instrumental toward the end–I can’t get enough of it. They really should have had more hits.

Casey introduced “Dream Police” on the 11/24/79 show (its last week on, at its peak of #26) by connecting it to Orwell’s 1984 (though he didn’t use the term “thought police”).

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