American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/10/87: The Other Ones, “Holiday”

There is a very large yet finite number of ways that English words can be combined to form song titles (though one could make a strong argument that the combinations songwriters select aren’t always sensical). Thus, over time one might expect there to be multiple hits having the same title but different lyrics. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but back in the early 80s, the most frequently occurring title for songs reaching the Top 40 since 1955 was “Call Me”–I’d guess “Hold On” or something else has overtaken it by now.

I got to thinking about repeat titles after looking over the first few songs played on the 10/10/87 show, as two of the debut tunes have titles making at least their second trip to the Top 40 (and aren’t remakes, of course). After a little research on the Ultimate Music Database, I could count five such rock-era song titles on this show (no promises I didn’t overlook something). Here’s a quick rundown, including info about the titles’ previous tours of duty:

“Here I Go Again.” Whitesnake, with a little help from the late Tawny Kitaen, is sitting at #1. But the title appeared first on a #37 hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles in October 1969. (Plenty of Smokey-related action on this show: “When Smokey Sings” is at #20, and the man himself has “One Heartbeat” at #14.)

“Carrie.” Europe is way up there as well, at its peak of #3. Back in the spring of 1980, Cliff Richard had a haunting song of the same name reach #34.

“Victim of Love.” The other three duplicate titles on this show didn’t get anywhere near the rarified air of the Top 10. Bryan Adams is the victim this time, stuck at #32; almost eight years earlier, Elton John had managed to climb only one spot higher than that.

“Holiday.” The Australian-German sextet known as the Other Ones embarks on their one and only trip to the forty, starting at #36; they’d peak at #29 the following week. No slight to Smokey, but this title has the most star power behind its previous incarnations: both the Bee Gees (November 1967) and Madonna (January/February 1984) reached #16 on their own “Holiday.”

“Notorious.” Loverboy’s at #39 and was destined to advance only one position. Duran Duran had been on less than a year earlier with the biggest–by far–of the earlier hits, having gotten to #2 in January.

I’m not overly inclined to do much research to see if five recycled titles is high or low; logic dictates that the number of such titles should increase over time. Just as a sanity check, though, I checked out the chart from one year later. The 10/8/88 chart has–I believe–six such titles (“I’ll Always Love You,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Fallen Angel,” “True Love,” “Chains of Love,” and “Desire”)–and a seventh, “It Takes Two,” is at #41 and would join them the following week. Unlike what happened a year earlier, three of those ’88 titles date back to the ’50s.

The Aussies in the Other Ones were two brothers and a sister (the female was a twin of the younger male); they all had made their way to Berlin by 1984. Earlier in 1987, they’d hit the U.S. charts with the #53 “We Are What We Are.” (I heard it a few times back then; listening to it again now, it’s better than I remembered.) “Holiday” made a much more favorable–and lasting–impression, even if it also disappeared pretty quickly. In 1992 I ripped it from a CD in Greg’s collection to a mixtape.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/9/82: Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Southern Cross”

I’m often aware of the date when it rolls around each October, but this year it was more front and center in my mind than usual, likely because it was on Thursday.

She and I had met back in May over dinner, seated at the same table with our parents, another family, and a college administrator, the three high school seniors recipients of a generous scholarship. Come fall, we had chemistry together and were both in the Tuesday afternoon lab, assigned adjacent stations. We began hanging out some at lunch and dinner and otherwise, and on a Thursday evening about a month after classes started, acknowledged our mutual interest in each other. It was the first serious dating experience for both of us.

The other night I was rummaging through my bin of 80s correspondence for letters from my college roommate and came across a thank-you note she had written me just a few days before we started dating. (The previous Saturday I had driven her to a nearby cross-country meet where my sister and some of her HS friends were running.) I flipped the note over and noticed that the paper on the back was a little thinner in the upper left corner—I must have placed a square of adhesive there and stuck it to the wall of my dorm room. When I opened it, on the face opposite her handwriting and under a small circle of clear contact paper, there was a four-leaf clover. I’m certain that hadn’t come with the note, but I can’t remember for the life of me now how it came to be placed there. I’m guessing I’d come across it that autumn and considered it a portent.

That wasn’t the only change in my life at the time. The weekend immediately following was the first that I didn’t make a formal accounting of the songs on AT40 in six years. I still have notes that extend into early March of 1983, but none of them were ever converted into a chart.

Debuting at #36 on the show that kicked off this new era (and sailing toward a #18 peak) was “Southern Cross,” the second single from CS&N’s Daylight Again. My recollection is that the summer’s “Wasted on the Way” was a song she particularly liked; I had a more favorable reaction to this follow-up.

We lasted as a couple for fifteen months. We were compatible in many respects, and I could recount to you several ways in which she’s had a lasting, positive impact on me. In the end, though, my immaturity doomed us. It’s one thing to look back and acknowledge you had a lot of growing to do; it’s another entirely to understand that someone else had to pay that cost as well.

That note is the only item remaining from the letters we exchanged over breaks while dating–I’d tossed them all sometime before I left home for grad school. I imagine the note had been separate from the rest.

Obviously, I didn’t fail all the time, and failing certainly wasn’t the easiest thing to do. However, at ages 18 and 19, it was all too easy.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/6/79: Jennifer Warnes, “I Know a Heartache When I See One”

About two-and-a-half years ago, I did a post on trivia associated with the songs and artists on an April 1974 show. It was fun enough, so I’m going to take another whack at that sort of thing, this time on this weekend’s featured 10/6/79 countdown. I’ll repeat some categories I used then but introduce a few new ones, as well.

Song with the longest AT40 run: M, “Pop Muzik,” 20 weeks

Song with the shortest AT40 run: Mary MacGregor, “Good Friend,” 2 weeks

Acts in their final week ever on AT40:
Chic, Maxine Nightengale, Maureen McGovern

One-hit wonders:
Ian Gomm, France Joli, Moon Martin, Patrick Hernandez, Sniff ‘n the Tears, Nick Lowe, M

Two-hit wonders:
MacGregor^, Nightengale^, McGovern^, Bonnie Pointer
(^ = second appearance)

Other acts making their final AT40 appearance:
Bob Dylan (ignoring his turn in U.S.A. for Africa), K.C. and the Sunshine Band (though not for K.C. himself), Michael Johnson, Wings (looks to me it was just McCartney after this), Lobo, Gerry Rafferty

Acts with more than five years since their previous AT40 appearance:
McGovern, Herb Alpert, Robert John (Dionne Warwick was at #3 with the Sprinners on the 10/5/74 chart)

Act with more than five years until his next AT40 appearance:
Robert Palmer

Acts who wrote another song on the show besides their own:
Gomm (co-wrote “Cruel to Be Kind” with Lowe), Martin (wrote “Bad Case of Lovin’ You”)
[Note: Ashford & Simpson were at #41 and would be on the 10/13/79 show–they wrote “The Boss.”]

Acts with a #40-peaking song in their future:
Stephanie Mills (a duet with Teddy Pendergrass), Diana Ross, Pointer, Donna Summer

Acts with a #1 duet in their future:
Jennifer Warnes, Kenny Rogers, Ross, Summer, Michael Jackson (McCartney, Michael McDonald, and Lionel Richie are on the show with their groups; Barbra Streisand had just fallen off)

Warnes, McCartney, and (I guess) Jackson all had two duets make it to the top in the 80s, but only Warnes took home Grammy hardware–both times, even–for her collaborations. I wasn’t a huge fan of either duet, but found other songs of hers more to my taste. In grad school I picked up Famous Blue Raincoat, her collection of Leonard Cohen songs, not long after it came out in late 1986. And I certainly liked her two 70s AC/country/pop solo hits, particularly “I Know a Heartache When I See One,” which is sitting at #33 this week, heading toward its destiny of topping out at #19 a month later. It’s great to sing along with; maybe I should put it on my karaoke to-do list. Wikipedia informs me that we’re hearing Andrew Gold on backup vocals–I should have sussed that out a long time ago.



One-Hit Wonderama

So, it’s once again National One-Hit Wonder Day. I know it’s a hotly-discussed matter as to what constitutes an act being a one-hit wonder; for the purposes of today’s post, I’m taking the slightly liberal position that it means an act had a single Top 40 hit in Billboard.* I’m noting the occasion by lifting up a song from each of the seven years I was actively paying attention to American Top 40 in late September. To qualify for selection, the song:
–had to be on the Hot 100 during the week containing 9/25;
–hasn’t been previously featured in a PastBlast post here on the blog.

Let’s get the celebration started. I’ll note chart position during the week of National One-Hit Wonder Day, as well as where and when the song peaked.

1976: John Valenti, “Anything You Want” (#63; peaked at #37 on 11/6)
WSAI in Cincinnati promoted this song a decent amount in the late summer, but had dropped it from their playlist well before it appeared on AT40. Seems fitting to pick Valenti today, since it sure feels he’s doing his best to sound like Stevie Wonder.

1977: Paul Nicholas, “Heaven on the 7th Floor” (#24; peaked at #6 for three weeks beginning 11/26)
Only song in this list for which I bought the 45 in real time. A shame of sorts it didn’t top out one position lower. I still like it, but somehow I don’t think it was his appearance in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that relegated him to OHW status.

1978: John Paul Young, “Love Is in the Air” (#9, peaked at #7 for two weeks starting 10/14)
Young comes the closest to not being in this post, having hit #42 in early 1976 with “Yesterday’s Hero.” That song, as well as “Love Is in the Air,” were written by former Easybeats George Young and Harry Vanda.

1979: Lauren Wood, “Please Don’t Leave” (#70, peaked at #24 for two weeks starting 11/24)
Some smooth West Coast groovin’ here, complete with Michael McDonald crooning alongside. Additional success wasn’t for lack of trying: members of Toto and Little Feat, as well as Patrick Simmons, contributed to her album.

1980: Amy Holland, “How Do I Survive” (#28, peaked at #22 for two weeks starting 10/11)
Continuing on a bit of a theme: McDonald not only sings backup again, he also produced Holland’s debut album and has been her husband since 1983.

1981: Balance, “Breaking Away” (#22, its peak for two weeks starting 9/26)
This wasn’t singer Peppy Castro’s only Top 40 appearance–he’d been in Blues Magoos in 1967 when they scored with “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet.” By the early 80s, he’d traded psychedelia in for something, well, peppier.

1982: Jennifer Holliday, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” (#94, peaked at #22 for three weeks starting 8/28)
Our third #22 OHW in a row. I was making an effort to pick tunes that hadn’t already fallen off their high point on the chart, but surprisingly, all five songs on the 9/25/82 chart that fit that bill have already had their moment to shine in this space (the acts are Tané Cain, Sylvia, Toni Basil, Rush, and Moving Pictures). Holliday’s star turn in the Broadway hit Dreamgirls therefore gets the nod.

Here’s to singular success (by one definition, anyway).

*At least as of the end of 2002; I’m using Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 as my source.

What Did You Hope To Learn About Here?

There’s an American Top 40-related message board I usually visit a few times each week, in part to find out which 70s and 80s shows are going to be offered by Premiere over the coming week or two, in part to learn from the folks who post there (as in other portions of my life, I tend to lurk). The great preponderance of the community is male, and from what I can tell, age-wise I’m somewhere in the middle–most of them seem to be between roughly 45 and 65. This isn’t news if you pay attention to the commercials that Premiere runs each week–we Casey-philes are clearly an aging bunch.

I stopped listening to AT40 sometime in the second half of my first year of college, late winter 1983. Despite that, I stayed fairly on top of the pop music scene for another four or so years, so I’m glad I have the opportunity now to hear those mid-80s shows (I confess I’m not normally all that interested in the 1988 offerings). Many of the younger people on the message board paid attention to AT40 (and other countdown shows) a lot longer than I did; one fellow in particular is a veritable fount of knowledge when it comes to the Radio & Records CHR chart (which was used on Casey’s Top 40 and the late 90s reboot of AT40), at least up to the end of the 20th century.

I’m going on about this because this past holiday weekend, Premiere offered as a bonus the 9/5/98 American Top 40 from Casey’s second run. Curiosity got the better of me. Through the message board I was able to find a station in North Carolina playing it on Monday afternoon (though I missed the first four songs). It was plenty interesting to note differences with–and similarities to–the shows from the years I know pretty well now.

First, Casey definitely sounds older. In September 1998, he was 66 years old, eligible to draw Social Security. The vitality is still there–mostly–yet the toll of the years is making itself known. Hearing him announce “Flagpole Sitta” and “Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)” felt a little incongruous.

(Aside #1: Kasem was almost an exact contemporary of my father–he was ten months younger than Dad, and his death in June 2014 came only 6.5 months after Dad’s. Back in the 70s it didn’t remotely occur to me that the two were pretty much at the same points in their lives.)

In 1998 I was 34. Many of the songs on this show–mostly the R&B, rap, and boy-band tracks aimed at a somewhat younger audience–weren’t familiar. That said, three of my favorite songs for the year were played in the third hour: “Torn,” “The Way,” and “One Week.”

(Aside #2: I’d lost much of my sense of connecting music to events in my life by this point, but I actually know what I was doing on Labor Day weekend 1998. Martha and I traveled up to Champaign-Urbana for a mini-reunion with my officemates and their spouses. Paul and Sue still lived there, and we spent much of our time hanging out in their family room.

Sports was on the TV in the background. On Saturday, Sammy Sosa hit his 58th homer, while Mark McGwire notched his 60th–this was the year both of them shattered Roger Maris’s record. Sunday was opening weekend for the NFL and my fantasy football team. 1998 was the only year I won my league, and I learned that weekend how wise I’d been to draft the Seattle Seahawks defense.)

I didn’t care for the updated jingles and bumpers, which were pretty tuneless. In fact, it was hard to discern any kind of musical theme overall–each hour just seemed to start with Casey talking up the next song in the show. As in the mid-to-late 80s, there were stories that had nothing to do with the music (for instance, Casey told about Dizzy Dean when Fastball’s turn came up). One sign of the times–online dating–played a key role in two of the ever-maudlin Long Distance Dedications. On the positive side, I’ll grant it was very good they were using the Radio & Records chart, since Billboard was still three months away from including songs not released as singles on the Hot 100. As a result, we rightly got to hear the top two pop songs for the year, “Torn” and “Iris.”

I’m 100% glad I had the chance to listen to this show–seriously, when was the last time I heard “Hooch,” from Everything? However, it’s not clear how frequently I’d listen were these to become a semi-regular thing; there’s just not enough nostalgia for the late 90s in my bloodstream, I guess.

For the curious, the #1 song 23 years ago was the Diane Warren-penned, Steven Tyler-crooned “I Wouldn’t Want to Miss a Thing,” from the Armageddon soundtrack. For a song feature, though, we’re going two spots lower. Honestly, I never really got why Matchbox Twenty blew up. The songwriting’s only so-so at best, and it’s not like Rob Thomas has golden pipes, either. Nonetheless, the chorus of “Real World” isn’t bad, and the song is plenty fun and catchy if you don’t listen too closely to what’s going on in the verses. Besides, I think most of us could use less hassle these days.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 8/28/82: Asia, “Only Time Will Tell”

When I was much younger, I made a few attempts at maintaining a diary, none of which ultimately took hold for all that long. The first began in the summer of 1975, at the tender age of 11–quite a bit of that focused on the status of my baseball card collection, with only a little devoted to what was going on inside me at the time. Two later efforts had a better mix of reporting on current events and looking inward (or at least I think so). One of those occurred at the midpoint of my junior year in college; I wrote about that a couple of years ago. The other had taken place (mostly) in August and September of 1982, just before and immediately after I’d flown the nest to begin life at Transy on 9/4. Those weeks are almost certainly the most closely chronicled of my life, though that hardly means they make for compelling reading. Nonetheless, you get a brief synopsis of some of what I elected to record for posterity at the end of that August.

–We had returned from a family vacation to Myrtle Beach on Sunday, the 22nd, and my sister started her senior year of high school just two days later. I visited my school (at least) twice between 8/24 and 8/31;

–I mentioned going shopping for stuff to take with me to college on four occasions, including the desk pad/calendar I wrote about last fall;

–“Making the rounds” to see high school friends one last time was a common refrain, and several close ones receive specific mention (and visits);

–I went golfing with Dad a couple of times–he was still scoring better than I was. A couple of bowling outings with my good friend Tony happened, too;

–What about my AT40 habit? Well, that got a shout-out, on 8/24. I wasn’t taking as much time to listen to the show at this point, relying on Recordland’s posting of the Hot 100 instead:

Funny thing is, I didn’t record those predictions on the 8/21 chart.

–A recurring theme is dithering over what to do about the girl I was kinda sorta dating at the time. We’d met at FBLA Leadership Camp the previous summer, and after a few weeks of calling her after school started back, I’d let things drop (she lived just a couple of counties over from me, which fortunately meant the calls were local). We’d reconnected at the Regional and State FBLA Conferences in the spring, and at the latter, I’d been there to offer some comfort after she lost the election for State Treasurer–she was a year behind me in school. The phone calls resumed, and we’d gone on a date or two over the summer.

But I was about to embark on a new adventure, and she would still be in high school sixty-plus miles away… At first I considered driving to see her over the last weekend of August to “talk it over,” then it got pushed back to the middle of the week, and finally…nothing happened. At one point I did consider how she might be feeling about things, how my apparent lack of interest in seeing her before I left might be playing.

The first encounter with the term “supergroup” I can recall came in the spring of 1982, when Asia blasted on the scene. Even if I wasn’t that into prog rock growing up, I certainly knew about King Crimson, Yes, and ELP (yeah, the Buggles, too). I’m virtually certain my sister had purchased Asia while “Heat of the Moment” was riding high on the charts, though I don’t remember it getting played much while I was around. By this final weekend before the start of my next phase, second single “Only Time Will Tell” had advanced to #24. It would be at its peak of #17 on my final chart in early October.

She and I exchanged a couple of letters after I got to college. In the last one I sent, probably in mid-to-late October, I made not-so-casual mention of my new female friend. The whole thing was clearly far from my finest moment. She was never anything but nice to me, and even if that hadn’t been the case, she was undeserving of shabby treatment. I guess I can only hope that she wasn’t as bitter as John Wetton.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 8/16/86: The Blow Monkeys, “Digging Your Scene”

The vast majority of my college’s incoming class showed up Thursday morning to move in and begin being oriented to a whole new phase of their lives (first-years playing in fall sports such as football, soccer, and volleyball had trickled in over the past week or two). It’s been a few years since I’d pitched in to help new students and their families transport belongings from vehicle to dorm room, but two days ago I spent around 75 minutes in a steady rain doing just that. We have a very large group this year, possibly the biggest in the school’s history (certainly the largest out of the thirty groups who’ve entered during my time); an offer of free tuition to graduates from this county and three others is the reason behind our growth spurt this year and last. With the sudden uptick in enrollment will come a bit of a strain on resources, as many departments on campus have been downsized over the last decade after an almost as precipitous a drop in number of students hit us ten years ago. On the other hand, it’ll be great to use up excess capacity where it still exists, while on the other other hand, I know I’m glad we were able to hire a new mathematics faculty member for this year. Classes start Monday, and of course we’re doing it in-person again (masks required in indoor public spaces for at least the first three weeks). Sickness and quarantine among the student body will assuredly be a part of the landscape, but one can hope the percentage of vaccinated folks on campus trends upward quickly.

I’ve been on a college campus every fall since I was 18 years old, and seeing the new faces this time of year can make me think back to when I struck out from home. As it happens, this weekend and next, Premiere is featuring 80s shows from the two years I began new educational adventures. First up, a countdown from about a week or so before I departed for the math grad program at the University of Illinois. While I wasn’t the completely green 18-year-old of four years earlier, in some ways this was the bigger leap into the abyss–four or so hours away from the parental units, knowing absolutely no one in my new environs. I wasn’t scared, though looking back, I didn’t remotely understand how much I didn’t know about my chosen area of study or what it would take to succeed at the next level.

By August of 1986 I had begun a slow drift away from paying attention to the pop chart scene. There are a few songs on the 8/16/86 show I know now mainly from listening to these rebroadcasts: “Man Size Love” from Klymaxx, “One Step Closer to You,” by Gavin Christopher, and Madonna wannabe Regina’s “Baby Love.” But listening to the show this morning sure was a pleasant way to spend four hours, taking me back to that liminal period between my KY and IL early-20s lives.

Because I’m a list-maker at heart, I’m sharing what I think are the three best and three worst songs on this show. The lowlights come first.

#38. David Lee Roth, “Yankee Rose”
Possesses none of the joy or humor of DLR’s work with Van Halen or his EP Crazy from the Heat. And the intro to the video is cruel and awful in almost uncountably many ways.

#39. Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson, “Friends and Lovers”
My sister was a huge Days of Our Lives fan throughout the 80s, so I was well aware of Loring’s turn as Liz Chandler. Amy bought this single sometime over the summer, as well, giving me plenty of opportunity to loathe it. Just one of many 80s ballad duets that never did much for me.

#40. Peter Cetera, “Glory of Love”
Who knows why some (many) ballads turn me off? I disliked this one from the first listen. And yes, I did see The Karate Kid II that summer.

As for the good stuff…

#3. Belinda Carlisle, “Mad About You”
This placement may be in part residual from my Go-Go’s fandom, but I did pick the 45 up in real time. A classy, intelligent, upbeat love song.

#2. The Blow Monkeys, “Digging Your Scene”
I wouldn’t have placed this nearly so high 35 years ago, but “Digging Your Scene” has really grown on me in recent years–it just gets better with each listen. At the time it completely slipped by me that “So sad to see you fade away” and “I know I’ll die” were references to AIDS and its victims. This was its last week on the show, at #36, having reached #14 a couple of weeks earlier.

#1. Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer”
The song and video of that summer, possibly my top song for the entire year. I bought So on cassette then and listened to it quite a bit for a while.

The Blow Monkeys never made another impression on the U.S scene, though they tallied a dozen or so hits in their native UK over the course of the 80s. On this show, Casey mentioned that vocalist Dr. Robert says that if the whole music thing doesn’t work out in the end, he might just open a record store. I suppose that was never necessary; the band split between 1990 and 2007, but they’ve recorded regularly since getting back together.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/19/80: Change, “A Lover’s Holiday”

Because of you-know-what, the number 40 occupies an outsized portion of my mental landscape. I’ve noted before the thrill of anticipation in those first years of listening to Casey, not knowing how the show would commence–would it be a song I hadn’t heard before, something on its way down managing to hang on for one more week, or the same tune that had led off the previous week? I perhaps paid slightly greater attention to the subsequent fortunes of debuts in the opening slot, and of course noticed those occasions when a song dropped off after a single week of glory.

When I learned that this week’s 80s offering from Premiere was to be 7/19/80, I thought I remembered that it is the show when “A Lover’s Holiday,” from the Italian/American studio group Change, came on at #40 and then disappeared the following week. Change had three other songs hit the Hot 100 over the next couple of years, but never again made the show. This got me wondering: of the acts across the classic Casey AT40 era (7/70-8/88) with a single Top 40 hit, how many had their song peak at #40? And how many of those lasted on the show for only one week?

To investigate, I used two sources: my own charts and the website Ultimate Music Database. I was breezing through pages–both paper and virtual–pretty quickly, so I’m hoping there are no errors of omission or commission. (In the process, I noticed a couple of things that could be jumping-off points for future posts: a) there were more songs than I expected whose first and last weeks on the show were spent at #40, and b) several artists seemed to have a real knack for hitting #40 on their way up the chart.) The answers to the questions above? I count nine, with eight of them one-week wonders; as we’ll see below, I’m going to grant partial credit to three more, though.

These are the nine, in chronological order:

1. Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke, “Resurrection Shuffle” (8/7/71)
Somehow it’s taken me almost fifty years to get to know this burner. Just like Ben Folds Five almost a quarter-century later, these Brits were a keyboard-bass-drums trio.

2. Ten Years After, “I’d Love to Change the World” (11/20 and 11/27/71)
Another song from a UK blues-rock group, it’s the only one that lasted two weeks at #40. I did hear this one a fair amount growing up, and have always dug it.

3. Gunhill Road, “Back When My Hair Was Short” (6/2/73)
A favorite from the moment I discovered it on the K-Tel album Fantastic. Most likely song here to become an earworm.

4. Red Sovine, “Teddy Bear” (8/28/76)
One of these pieces is not like the others…

5. New England, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” (6/16/79)
Guess where these guys were from? Their debut LP was co-produced by Paul Stanley of Kiss; they lasted two more albums before hitting Splitsville.

6. The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star” (12/15/79)
I gotta believe this is the best-known song in this list, and probably the one I like most, too.

7. Change, “A Lover’s Holiday” (7/19/80)
A pretty sweet jam–maybe it would have been a much bigger pop hit had it come out 12-15 months earlier? As it was, it was part of a medley that wound up as the #1 dance track of 1980. He’s not heard here, but Luther Vandross contributed vocals to several cuts on the album it came from, The Glow of Love.

8. Rainbow, “Stone Cold” (6/19/82)
Ritchie Blackmore’s band in between iterations of Deep Purple. Lots of blokes shuffled through Rainbow’s lineup over the years; Ronnie James Dio, Cozy Powell, and Tony Carey were already gone by the time Straight Between the Eyes was released. Roger Glover was back together with Blackmore at this point, though, maybe making a DP reunion all the more inevitable.

9. The Communards, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (3/7/87)
Jimmy Somerville, late of Bronski Beat, teamed up with pianist Richard Coles and had a monster hit in the UK with this cover of Thelma Houston’s #1 song from a decade earlier. (Another possible task for inquiring minds is researching if any other covers of chart-toppers only made it to #40.)

As for the honorable mentions…I found three acts that conceivably could have qualified above, but, following the suggestion of The CD Project, were rejected because they weren’t listed as a separate act in my copy of Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles 1955-2002. Nonetheless, I want to acknowledge their consideration.

–Henhouse Five Plus Too, “In the Mood” (2/5/77)
We all know this bunch of cluckers was really just Ray Stevens all dressed up in feathers.
–Sonny Charles, “Put It in a Magazine” (1/22 and 1/29/83)
Charles is grouped in my Whitburn with the Checkmates, Ltd. Some singles credit just the band, others promote ‘Checkmates, Ltd. featuring Sonny Charles’, and the label on “Black Pearl,” their #13 hit from 1969, says they’re ‘Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd.’ He was strictly solo in the 80s, however.
–Joyce Kennedy (duet with Jeffrey Osborne), “The Last Time I Made Love” (10/6 and 10/13/84)
Kennedy apparently doesn’t merit her own entry in Whitburn (this song is listed under Osborne’s), though the band for which she sang, Mother’s Finest, had a couple of singles chart in the mid-70s. I know that editorial decisions must be made, but I will note that L.T.D. has its songs listed separately from those of Osborne…

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/19/76: ‘Fin Lizzie’, “The Boys Are Back in Town”

The third weekend of June 1976 was the second time I wrote down the songs being played on AT40. As well-documented here many a time previously, my first chart is from the 6/5/76 show; the next week, I missed the first seven songs due to attendance at a Cincinnati Reds doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals. For some reason I elected not to make a formal record of that week’s top 33 (or if I did, it got lost along the way). In many ways, then, it’s really the 6/19 show that began the solidifying of the ritual/practice/obsession I’d carry with me for six-plus more years.

Rather than wait another couple of weeks to show you in a Charts post what I recorded on that Sunday evening from WSAI, here it is in all its battered, tattered glory:

The notation of circles for debuts, asterisks for risers, underscores for fallers, overscores for the songs staying put, and predictions for the following week had begun with the 6/5 chart–I guess I was ready for stats-keeping from the get-go, even if most of that disappeared by October. Note also that I’d fully internalized ‘notches’ already, as well.

What stands out to me now, though, are the errors wrought by a twelve-year-old listening to a possibly crackly AM signal.
–Well, the signal wasn’t responsible for getting the year wrong;
–Casey didn’t give the title for #40 before playing it. Apparently I made my best guess while Mike Love crooned and did my best to correct things on the outro;
–I believe the same thing happened with #37;
–This would have been the first time I heard “Turn the Beat Around.” Could not discern ‘Vicki Sue’ that day; you can see I ultimately settled on ‘Casey.’ I figured it out by the following week’s show;
–I considered myself a very good speller back in the day, but apparently ‘rhythm’ was befuddling;
–Apparently I hadn’t fully grasped the titles of the Eric Carmen and Doobie Brothers pieces, making the former into a semi-remake of the Bacharach/David classic and the latter sound even more like a call to action. ‘It’ got added on the 6/26 chart, while ‘Gonna’ had to wait until 7/10;
–And then there was the name of the band singing “The Boys Are Back in Town.” I’d gotten fooled by Casey’s pronunciation of ‘Thin’ two weeks earlier, and it’d be another month before it got corrected. Phil Lynott and company would climb as high as #12 before the end of July. It’s now one of my very favorites from those first months I was keeping close tabs on the ebb and flow of the chart performances of pop 45s, an almost perfect summer song. Who wants to head down with me to Dino’s?

(I covered some of this three years ago, when I posted pictures of my 6/26/76 chart.)

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/7/75: Michael Murphey, “Wildfire”

It’s June 10, 2012, a notable day in my son’s life—the day of his baptism. Throughout the spring, he and three other boys have been preparing via a membership class led by our pastor. It’s traditional in our congregation for each person in the class to have an adult sponsor, for conversation and guidance. Ben chose one of my religion colleagues at the college for his sponsor—Ben is good friends with my colleague’s older son. The service goes smoothly, and afterward there are four happy families. Martha’s sister and my mother are also present, and the five of us have a nice lunch out.

It turns out to be a notable day for me as well, the day that parts of my past resurface in the present and go on to shape my future.

My eighty-year-old father isn’t feeling well at all. Two weeks prior, he bailed on flying to Florida with Mom and me to witness my nephew’s high school graduation; he just ate the cost of the ticket. Dad has talked up coming down to Georgetown for the baptism, but as Sunday approaches, he realizes that he wouldn’t be able to endure several hours away from home. In order to minimize my mother’s time away from him, I agree to meet her in Dry Ridge, about midway between us, and ferry her to Georgetown and back.

One of my favorite stations to listen to in the car is WWRW, Rewind 105.5 (“70s and 80s Hits”). I’m aware that old American Top 40 shows from the 70s are being rebroadcast on Sunday mornings, but up until now, I haven’t taken the time to tune in intentionally. Today, though, an opportunity has arisen. I’m at the main intersection of town, heading north, when I flip on the radio. I don’t recognize the song, and I try to guess which pre-1976 year this might be. Casey tells me on the outro that Eddie Kendricks is at #30, with “Shoeshine Boy.” Up next is a cover of “The Way We Were,” by Gladys Knight and the Pips, so that limits the show to either 1974 or 1975. When the Ozark Mountain Daredevils close out the first hour with “Jackie Blue,” all is revealed: I’m listening to 6/7/75.

I meet Mom just as #20 (“Magic,” by Pilot) is playing, and drop her off at the door to the church as Major Harris croons “Love Won’t Let Me Wait.” I learn that Jessi Colter’s “I’m Not Lisa” is #8 as I park the car. Sometime that evening, I root around the internet and find that John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” was the final song Casey spun.

That was the start of what’s now been a nine-year re-connection with AT40, closing in on 50% longer than the span I listened to it growing up. It’s become a weekend ritual once again, and I’ve noted before how much it’s taught me about the music of the early 70s. It’s not clear at all this blog would exist had I not stepped back into that world. I’m amused that it was a show from the first weekend of June, exactly 52 weeks before I started keeping my charts, that kicked things off again. It took a few years to realize there was irony involved, as well.

I listened to 6/7/75 in its entirety yesterday (unlike in 2012). When “Shoeshine Boy” came on, I began reliving the trip to pick up my mother; I knew exactly where I was along the way up when unfamiliar songs from Carly Simon, the Temptations, Tavares, Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes, Seals and Crofts, and Paul Anka all played in a row. The Carpenters, Alice Cooper, Joe Simon, and Average White Band were part of the soundtrack of the return leg. Knowing now how little time my parents had left in 2012, remembering my father’s increasing fragility, thinking about life in the mid-1970s—listening to the middle 90 minutes of the show again was an emotional experience.

Michael Murphey’s “Wildfire” was also a part of that morning nine years ago, sitting at #17. In two weeks, it would jump from #12 to #3, where it would be stymied from further progress by the Captain and Tennille and Linda Ronstadt.

It’s a weekday afternoon, mid-to-late June 1975. Mom and Dad are off attending to things that need to be attended to, and Amy and I are at a farm a few miles outside of Walton, spending time with friends. It belongs to the family of our dentist; their youngest is a boy my age, though he and I don’t go to the same school. One of his sisters, maybe three years older than I, is around, too. Years later, the two of them will jointly take over their father’s practice.

I think we four kids are in a car, likely with their mother, when “Wildfire” comes on the radio. The girl declares it’s one of her current favorites—is it possible that she’s into horses? I like it pretty well, too. The association of the song with the moment will last a lifetime.

These days, the melancholia in “Wildfire” seems to be a foreshadowing of the sheen of sadness I hear and feel when listening to the songs on 1975 shows from later that summer and fall. It’s a sense I didn’t quite realize was present at the time.