Scads of July and August Charts

Catching up on the shows recently played on Premiere for which I have charts…

7/25/81
They last played this show three years ago, right after I started blogging (#37 was the song I featured, both praising and lamenting Steinman’s craft). Hadn’t started posting charts yet, though, so I get to right that wrong. Don’t know how quickly after I wrote this up that the grease stain appeared.

Hello/Goodbye: Even with just two debuts, there’s a newbie: it’s the first time on for Alabama. Eight songs fell off after this week, and half of the acts on the way out never appeared again: Carole Bayer Sager, A Taste of Honey, Climax Blues Band, and Rosanne Cash.

My sun-faded chart:

The Moodies start a four-week run at the top. “Bette Davis Eyes” is in the last of an eight-week stretch in the top three (only one of those had been at #1). Wish I’d ranked “Seven Year Ache” higher (it would peak at #16); it’s one of my absolute faves on this chart now.

7/29/78
Half of the sixteen songs that debuted on either 7/1 or 7/8 have moved into the top 20. Two of ’em are already top 10, but only three more would eventually join the Commodores and Pablo Cruise.

Hello/Goodbye: Last time I did a charts post, we bid adieu to the Village People. This time, it’s bon jour; we’re also seeing Chris Rea for the first time. On the flip side, that’s all for Love & Kisses.

8/6/77
How long did I try to draw an outline of the lower 48 at the top of the first page? I’d started the week prior. It lasted through the end of October; I guess my broken wrist on 11/5 is what sank the practice.

Hello/Goodbye: Both of the debuts come from cagey veterans. On the farewell side of things, we have Cat Stevens, Dean Friedman, and Hot.

Continue reading “Scads of July and August Charts”

AT40’s Book of Records Special

The only 80s American Top 40 that Casey hosted that hasn’t been rebroadcast to date by Premiere was the 7/5/80 Book of Records special (it features plenty of songs from the 50s and 60s). Yesterday, WTOJ, Magic 103.1 in Watertown, NY, played the show as part of its 50th birthday celebration. WTOJ’s programming director Ken Martin has helped engineer the mono-to-stereo conversion of many of the early shows in recent years; he’s also worked on some of the more obscure special shows and gets to play them on his station. As far as I know, this was the first time the 7/5/80 show has been aired again.

It’s also one of the few special shows between 1976 and 1982 I followed closely enough to track what Casey was laying down. The cue sheets at charismusicgroup.com indicate the songs on the show, but if you’re interested in the descriptions of the records they held, well, look no further, though it doesn’t appear I noted all of the drop pieces.

After writing this (but before publication), I stumbled upon My Favorite Decade’s four-part retrospective of the Book of Records show, written up just over three years ago. MFD catches all the drop pieces I missed.

Another Round of May and June Charts

Another two months’ worth of AT40 rebroadcasts have passed, so there are five more of my charts to share, along with a few other odds and ends.

5/16/81: Some fine 60s Archive tunes, sappy LDDs, and the final time I listed all the songs that Stars on 45 sang (it was simply “Medley” from here on out).

Hello/Goodbye: T. G. Sheppard, take a bow. Terri Gibbs, James Taylor, and J. D. Souther, have a seat. (I was a little surprised to find this was it for J. T.)

WKRQ’s list from the following Monday largely shuffled most of the songs on the show, but note they held on to Loverboy, April Wine, Journey, and even Abba longer than most of America had.

I was on to “Just Between You and Me” longer than America was, too, though. “Sweetheart” would have another go at #3 before spending four long weeks in the runner-up spot, locked out forever by the Climax Blues Band.

5/27/78: The 6/3 chart is one of the few I have written in red ink; must have made these predictions right before that show? The Saturday Night Fever reign on the charts is almost done, but Grease is just starting to ramp up.

Hello/Goodbye: Michael Johnson is gracing us with his presence for the first time. I’m sad to report that time was up for Warren Zevon.

Goodies from 1982, 1979, and 1980 lie over the fold…

Continue reading “Another Round of May and June Charts”

The Cincinnati AM Rock Radio Blues

After we moved close to Cincinnati in the summer of 1972, our cars’ AM radios, when they weren’t tuned to WLW (700) for Reds’ games, were set to WSAI (1360), through and through a Top 40 station. I was around ten when the music I was hearing began making a stronger impression. I discovered AT40 in the late winter of 1976; by then a transistor radio was an almost constant companion, and WSAI was almost always in my ear. I still recall several of the jocks’ names: most notably Jim Scott, but also John R. W. Whalen, Casey Piotrowski (who put out an album locally in 1975 that captured some of the humor on his shows), Ted McAllister (here’s a 1971 air check of McAllister’s). By early 1978, I had discovered FM radio and Top 40 powerhouse WKRQ. I wasn’t alone in transitioning away from the AM dial. That summer, WSAI began teasing a format change, to begin at 6:00 am on a Monday morning in August. I woke up early to tune in and discover: they were going country. Right or wrong, that was that for me. Top 40 radio on the AM side in Cincy went extinct, at least for the time being, that morning. Except for the Reds and listening to AT40 on WLAP out of Lexington, I pretty much became an FM-only listener.

But I guess I never quite stopped fidgeting with the dial on my portable radio. In the summer of 1982, weeks before I left for college, I found WCLU at 1320, which had at some point become a rock station with maybe a tilt toward breaking hits, especially if they had a New Wave flavor. It’s probably from them that I acquired my love for “Kids in America,” “Words,” and maybe even “Someday, Someway.” They were in on “Who Can It Be Now?” early, and were weeks ahead of the pack on “Rock This Town.” I have to believe WCLU would have been a regular listen for me going forward (even if they were daytime only) had I not moved away in September.

I don’t remember now if I tuned into them much the following summer, but they were still at it–I picked up three of their Top 60 playlists from record stores, one each in May, July, and August 1983. The first is dated thirty-seven years ago today.

There’s a much greater infusion of R&B music here than what I recall from listening in 1982, but I’d listen to this station now in a heartbeat. I imagine I’ll share the other two someday.

How long this format lasted for WCLU, I can’t tell you. The station changed its call letters to WCVG a few years later and made waves in 1988 by becoming the first station in the nation to adopt an all-Elvis format (which lasted a little more than a year). They are now known as The Voice and play a gospel format.

Both WCVG and WSAI have Wikipedia pages that attempt to capture some of their histories, if you’re interested. The station at 1360 once again has call letters WSAI (there’s a long, complicated story there that the Wiki article summarizes decently), but these days they go simply by Fox Sports 1360.

Playing Chart Catch-up

A few things have slipped by me in recent weeks; one was pulling charts of recently-played Premiere rebroadcasts. Making amends now–March and April were busy months for late 70s and early 80s shows, so a warning: this will be long.

There were two shows from 1979 played in this period. First up is 3/3/79:

This was the second show where Casey recapped the Top 3 from the previous week. Gotta say that these days I don’t feel too bad tuning into shows from this period ten minutes late, just to avoid hearing songs twice in four hours. Looks like I initially, accidentally pluralized Herb Fame’s name? Makes me wonder now if any restaurants put “peaches and herbs” on their menu that summer…

Hello/Goodbye: Frank Mills and Eddie Rabbitt take their first turn, while it’s the end of the line for Ian (now Iain) Matthews.

We also had a 1981 show from early March:

I didn’t appreciate “Precious to Me” nearly enough back then; now I’d say that the songs at #30 and #29 are in contention for the best back-to-back pair on a show over the course of the whole year.

Hello/Goodbye: Both Juice and Grover make their first-ever appearance (this is one of the greatest–certainly best-performing– two-debut weeks of the decade). I’d have guessed at first this was it for AC/DC, but they hit again with “Moneytalks” in early 1991. We won’t see the Outlaws again, though.

If it’s early 80s, you know I’ve got my own list, too:

I said much about the music in the spring of 1981 last year, when they played the show after this one, so I won’t repeat myself (except to remind you again that “Ah! Leah!” is fantastic).

Much more on the flip, including goodies from the Cincinnati scene…

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.