American Top 40 PastBlast, 3/12/83: Steel Breeze, “Dreamin’ Is Easy”

When I refer to my “charting years,” I’m talking about the 6/5/76 through 10/2/82 AT40 shows, the period during which I produced (with a few weeks’ exception in Sept/Oct of 1976 and Nov/Dec of 1977) a (relatively) carefully written piece of paper with each week’s countdown. It actually took a few more months after October of 1982 before I truly gave up listening and writing down the songs, though.

In my stack of unfiled 70s/80s pop music-related materials are several sheets of notebook paper with the skinny. They start with the 9/25 countdown–apparently I took the time to transfer two weeks’ worth of notes to make my final ‘official’ charts. Here are three of them:

The one on the left has the 10/30 list, with information about 11/6 and 11/13 alongside (I wonder now what I was taping–and I see there are some chemistry calculations, too). The middle one has all of December, including info about 12/25, which was preempted by the first half of the year-ender (I presume I went to Recordland at the Florence Mall for that–old habits died slowly). The right sheet is a tiny bit interesting in that it’s for 1/15/83, with info about the previous week encoded.

I’d forgotten that I’d kept this up for so long–I have complete records up through 1/22. After missing part of 1/29 and the next two weeks completely, there’s one final entry:

It’s 2/19/83, with the numbers from 2/26 too. My recollection is that the show was being broadcast on Sunday mornings at this point. You can see that’s someone else’s handwriting on #29-#25. A couple of days ago, I showed this picture to James, my roommate–he confirmed my suspicions that I’d enlisted his aid, perhaps while I went down the hall to take a shower. He told me he has vague memories of being asked to help and feeling slightly fearful of making an error. You did just fine, man!

The song at #39 on the above sheet, “Dreamin’ Is Easy,” by Sacramento’s very own Steel Breeze, was one I liked fairly well at the time. It was in the middle of a three-week run at its peak of #30 by the 3/12 show rolled around. Several years later, I remembered it enough to want to snag a used copy of the 45 as part of a decently large haul. I’ll easily take it over “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” these days.

One other note about this show: it was Neil Diamond’s last week ever in the Top 40.

Another Round of Jan/Feb Charts

I’ve been waiting for another critical mass of shows from the charting years to get selected by Premiere before doing another of these posts; we’ve now reached that point. This one begins with the eighth week in a row for the one-two punch of ON-J and Foreigner.

Hello/Goodbye: First go-rounds on this chart for one-hit wonders Eddie Schwartz and Bertie Higgins.

As for my faves, it’s a rare instance of two non-Top 40 hits scaling the heights:

Both “Lunatic Fringe” and “Magic Power” got a lot of play on WEBN, Cincy’s primary AOR station, and I couldn’t really get enough of either. Red Rider is at their peak, while Triumph would nudge one spot higher.

Next, it’s early February 1977. WSAI moved AT40 from Sunday night to Sunday morning with this show, meaning I’d have to get my fix some other way. Fortunately, this was right around the time I discovered WLAP-AM in Lexington was running it on Saturday evenings.

Hello/Goodbye: It’s both for the Henhouse Five Plus Too, as this was their only week on the show (I was a mite high on “In the Mood,” wouldn’t you say?); even if you count it as a Ray Stevens single, it’s still a see-you-later. And we’re getting formally introduced to Kansas.

On to the two shows rebroadcast this past weekend. My wife and I came close to barfing over the Paul Anka LDD, but I’m sorry that I missed the other one forty years ago: the excellent “Just You and I” by Melissa Manchester (the backstory for the dedication wasn’t half-bad, either). Went one-for-two on picks; I like that Streisand piece fairly well, and “Flirtin’ with Disaster” was definitely a fave in my social circle. That song from “Two Years Ago” will be surfacing again momentarily.

Hello/Goodbye: Ray, Goodman and Brown don’t really count as a hello, since they’d hit three times previously as the Moments. We are bidding farewell to late, great John Stewart, however.

Lastly, a show of personal significance. By this time I had been regularly tuning into WLAP-AM for about a year.

Forty-two years ago tonight was the first time I stuck a tape recorder in front of my radio to record a show. A big chunk of it is on this beauty of a tape:

I have two 90-minute and one 60-minute Certrons (the 60-minute has orange bands instead of blue). That evening I stopped recording after #11; what tape remained was used three months later, on the 5/20/78 show (in a coincidence, “Our Love” was #35 on that countdown, too).

I listened to the tapes for these (partial) shows a number of times during the high school years. Certain things came back to me while hearing the February show again this past weekend: being told that TP and the Heartbreakers were regarded as one of the best new bands in years; Casey saying they’d look up how many Sam Cooke remakes had charted recently as “(What a) Wonderful World” ended; the question about triple albums hitting #1.

Other memories are particular to the tape itself. My tape player had a small knob on top that you could toggle to pause during recording–this allowed me to avoid recording commercials without hitting stop. But my reaction time was a little slow when the show would come back, so there are several instances of hearing only “…Forty” at the beginning of segments. Also: WLAP-AM was a CBS affiliate at the time. Near the start of the second hour, someone in the studio accidentally fired up a blurb for the CBS Radio Mystery Theater; we get a speaker’s sinister intonations naming the show and a few seconds of a creaking door on top of “Happy Anniversary” before whoever goofed catches their mistake. It’s going to be awhile again now before I’ll hear that song in my head the normal way.

Hello/Goodbye: Waving howdy to Petty and company (the third time in this post we’ve got a song peaking at #40), and so long to War.

AT40’s Top 100 of 1976, Part 2

Now it’s Sunday, 1/2/77. The New Year has started off much colder and snowier than normal, and it’s only going to get worse. On just one day across the whole of January–the 26th–will temps in the Cincinnati area inch above freezing; on three successive nights in the middle of the month, overnight lows will be -20° F or lower. (Perhaps that’s not too impressive to readers in the northern tier of states, Canada, or Scandinavia, but it’s the only time I’ve experienced anything of the kind.) School is scheduled to start back the next day, but we don’t go until Tuesday, the 4th. That day, I’ll learn that two of my more popular classmates have broken up with each other (ah, the joys and perils of 7th grade romance). After that, a barrage of snow and frigid temps; the next time we’ll all enter the hallowed halls of Walton-Verona High School will be four weeks later, on 2/1.

But I couldn’t know what the rest of the month held in store as I listened to Casey tell me all about the top 50 hits from 11/75-11/76.

The one thing I distinctly recall from listening to the show that night was Casey saying that if any of the songs from this year were to become a classic, it would be the one that clocked in at #13. Like so many of his predictions, it’s fair to say that didn’t actually come to pass.

AT40’s Top 100 of 1985

The last time I listened in full to a countdown during the classic AT40 era was the weekend of January 4-5, 1986, when Casey laid the Top 100 of 1985 on us all. It was the third time that they’d released the year-end show as a single, eight-hour extravaganza. I’m sure I was tuned in to WKRQ, Q102. In my head, I see myself listening to Dad’s stereo system in the basement of our house in Florence. It would have been the tail end of winter break during my senior year in college. Even though it’d been over three years since I’d written things down carefully on a weekly basis, I was still frequenting the right record stores in Lexington often enough to have a decent idea about peak Hot 100 positions for most of the hits of 85.

As you see, it’s the barest of records, song titles only, on the back of what looks to be a page torn from one of my course notebooks; the front consists of the kind of mark you make when you’re trying to see if a pen works and seven four-digit numbers whose significance, assuming there ever was one, is long gone. I’d taken considerably more care with the 83 and 84 year-enders.

Perhaps the biggest surprise that weekend was hearing “Out of Touch,” “I Feel for You,” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” so high in the Top 10. I’d recalled that these songs had all done reasonably well on the end-of-84 show (#25 for Chaka Khan, #13 for Wham!, and #12 for Hall and Oates). All had peaked in December, previously a precarious time when it comes to doing well in year-end rankings. Clearly the methodology used had evolved so that: a) the qualifying period extended much closer to the end of the calendar year than it had in the mid-to-late 70s, allowing those three even to have placed in 84; and b) they gave credit for a song’s full run on the chart, rather than only that which occurred in the official time frame (I’ve read on the AT40 Fun and Games message board that 85 was the first year that the whole run got credited for songs peaking after the beginning of the period, which I believe was mid-November).

Looking at it again now, I see some amusing back-to-backs: Julian Lennon at #78 and #77, the two ‘Night’ songs at #33 and #32, and especially Teena Marie and Billy Ocean at #29 and #28.

AT40’s Top 100 of 1976, Part 1

…or should I say, the Top 80?

Toward the end of 76, WSAI–1360 on your AM dial in Cincinnati back then, as I’ve noted before–was broadcasting American Top 40 at 8pm on Sunday evenings. Let me take you back to the day after Christmas of that almost-concluded bicentennial year. I’m fairly pumped, as Casey has been teasing AT40‘s year-end countdown of the Top 100 Songs of 1976 for a few weeks. I’ve even taken a few moments to prep two full pages, front and back, for the recording of history as it happens. As I often do, I’ve commandeered the kitchen table; perhaps I’ve got my charts on hand, just in case they can provide anything useful. And maybe I’m a little antsy, so I tune into WSAI a little after 7:30. Playing is “Getaway,” from Earth, Wind and Fire; as it fades out, Casey informs me that the #12 hit from October is checking in at #80 for the year. A mix of confusion and irritation quickly sets in. Apparently I’ve missed the announcements that the folks at WSAI have given over the last week or so saying they’ll be starting the four-hour special show at 6pm?

Anyway, here’s what I heard and wrote down that night, now just over forty-three years in the past. You can be sure I didn’t miss the start of the show the following weekend.

It’s quite possible this night was the first time I really paid attention to both “Wake Up Everybody” and “I Love Music.”

As you can see, I stapled the two pages together, likely very soon after the second half of the show played. Obviously I was really into record label info, even filling in some I didn’t know in real time after the fact. Since I’d only started listening in late winter and charting in June, peak position wasn’t always known to me.

If you want to know the first twenty songs of the show, you can check out the cue sheets here. It would be over thirty years before I’d learn what they were.

The Top 50 will appear next Saturday.

Oodles of Late-Year Charts

November featured several rebroadcasts from my charting years; I decided to hold off another write-up until the end of the year, since I didn’t expect many more in December. But now that they’re all done…

First, it’s 11/13/76. The paper was originally a bluish-green, though it’s faded some over the years. As I think I’ve noted before, my phone’s camera doesn’t do colors justice when it comes to many of my charts, though.

Looks like I initially tried to make it Opposite Day with the England Dan/John Ford Coley title…

Hello/Goodbye: If you look a week or two back or forward you’ll find plenty, but there are no acts in their first or last week ever on this chart.

Stuff from 81, 80, and 78 on the flip (added: and 79!):

Continue reading “Oodles of Late-Year Charts”

10/15/77, 10/30/82, and 11/11/78 Charts

As noted on Tuesday, I allowed myself to get derailed in my chart-keeping for the remainder of 77 when I broke my wrist on 11/5. Three weeks earlier, I’d switched to putting all 40 songs on a single page for the first time–those three charts became essentially a prototype for what I did through all of 78.

Don’t know why I wasn’t up on the name of Donna’s album (I Remember Yesterday). Apparently I decided that ten lines was too much space for the Top 10 to consume when I got back to organized charting at the beginning of 78–I clearly needed some space for extras, etc.

New potential ongoing feature: Hello/Goodbye, in which we check for acts either in their first or final week ever on AT40. No hellos on this one, but we are saying goodbye to Ted Nugent as a solo act–he’d be back in thirteen years as lead axeman for Damn Yankees.

If we’re at the end of 82, then all I have is to share is my own personal ranking of the hits of the day:

Several holdovers that had already fallen off of the real 40: Randy Meisner, Kim Wilde, .38 Special, and Billy Idol. Usually a big ON-J fan, but “Heart Attack” is probably the song of hers I like least. Frey was just about to knock his former Eagle buddy off his perch.

Lastly, this past weekend’s 78 show:

I’m amused that I first thought Joel’s new single was called “High Life.” I sure wish I hadn’t crammed all the extras and #1’s of the 70s into those tiny boxes–clearly, I had plenty of room! Missing is the LDD from the 4th hour: “Easy.”

This show is Donna Summer’s first turn ever at #1–over the following thirteen months, she’d accumulate twelve more weeks in that spot.

Hello/Goodbye: Seven songs are about to depart, but only John Paul Young would never return. And even though its members had played on various hits to this point, we’re getting Toto as an entity unto itself for the first time.