American Top 40 PastBlast, 9/11/76: Ohio Players, “Who’d She Coo”

In the fall of 77, my 8th grade English teacher passed out a small, bound booklet with around fifty blank 5.5″ by 8.5″ pages to everyone in the class. The assignment: assemble a “creative notebook.” We were to come up with ten articles on topics of our choosing, enliven them with illustrations or photos, and decorate the cover as we saw fit. My awesome title: The Past, Present, and Future of William Richard Harris. Included are a one-page sci-fi story, an editorial (“Students Should Eat Their Lunch!”), a diatribe on “What I Would Do To Improve the World” (apparently, I would crack down on pollution yet encourage energy companies to drill for more oil to avert an energy crisis), a reflective piece on “How I Look To Others,” and an ode to My Favorite Person, my father. (I didn’t ignore the rest of the family–the notebook was dedicated to Mom, Sis, and our dog Friskie.)

My AT40 obsession is on display in other articles. “Life of an American Top 40 Song” provides a week-by-week accounting of the path Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” took as it climbed to and fell from its #8 peak earlier in 77. “What I Hope To Be Doing 10 Years From Now” is, well, let me just show you the first paragraph:

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The things 13-year-olds write…

Finally, there was “The Top 40 Coincidences,” which spells out in detail the two times I found new AT40 stations just as WSAI in Cincinnati was changing its schedule. The first was the weekend of 9/11/76: early that Sunday morning, I heard Casey announcing “Who’d She Coo” at #20 as I flipped my trusty transistor radio past WAKY, a well-known AM station in Louisville. I scribbled the titles down in the same little spiral notebook I’d used to track The National Album Countdown during the summer, at least through #11 (I could get the Top 10 out of the Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer). It was good to have found another option for catching some of the show, and it got even better later than evening, when it became apparent that WSAI had discontinued AT40. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t hear full shows or resume chart-keeping until 10/16, when WSAI brought Kasem back. There exists a half-hearted accounting of the portion of the 9/11 show I did hear:

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(For the sake of completeness: the second ‘coincidence’ occurred in early February 77, when WSAI moved the show from evening to morning on Sundays, in conflict with church attendance. The following Saturday night, I found AT40 on WLAP-AM in Lexington–perhaps that explains my interest in future employment there.)

I knew the Ohio Players, out of Dayton, best for “Love Rollercoaster,” their #1 hit from earlier in 76. Like so many others, I was aware at the time of the false rumor that the scream one hears about halfway through was that of a woman being murdered in the studio during recording. The groovy, funky “Who’d She Coo” was the eighth and would be the final song of theirs to make the countdown. It wound up climbing just a couple of spots higher from where I heard it that September Sunday morning.

6/17/78, 6/30/79, and 7/10/76 Charts (With Bonus)

All the recent rebroadcasts from the latter half of the 70s mean I have more charts to share.

First, 6/17/78, which took place during our DC/VA vacation that summer. I presume I got the info from Recordland at the Florence Mall, perhaps right before we left town, and simply jotted down the bare facts quickly. The 7/24 and 8/1 charts are similarly perfunctory (8/1? The week of the updated Top Acts of the 70s show? More on that below).

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Next, 6/30/79. This is the week I shook up the presentation of my 79 charts, moving all the extra songs to the bottom of the page, though I attempted to indicate when each was played. Missed on that Village People pick (“Go West” stalled at #45).

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For some reason, I had no interest in keeping records of special countdowns (save year-enders)–I was strictly a Billboard chart guy. A visit to Recordland became de rigueur on those weeks when Casey wasn’t doing his regular thing. As an example, here’s 7/7/79, the weekend of the Top 40 Hits of the Disco Era. It’s the usual chart with just the top five songs from the special noted. I guess I listened to special shows when I could, but there’s virtually nothing in my files about them.

(Gotta love my attempt at spelling Sharona.)

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I have Q102’s charts from the Mondays following both the rebroadcast 78 and 79 shows. (I wrote about their 6/26/78 chart last year). With respect to 79, gotta say I’m somewhat chagrined seeing Rex Smith at #2. They certainly weren’t leaders at all on “Ring My Bell,” “Bad Girls,” or “Makin’ It,” and note that “Love You Inside Out” is nowhere to be seen–maybe these are signs of the backlash brewing?

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Lastly, we’ve got this amusing 7/10/76 chart. It was the week after the special show that featured the #1 songs from the past forty Independence Days. There was no Recordland for me to consult yet–the mall wouldn’t open for another couple of months–so I’m speculating about the previous week’s position in the “NOTCHES” column in many cases. The “Prediction* for this week” column was a one-time deal: it appears I was attempting to extrapolate two weeks’ worth of movement from the 6/27 chart. Fun stuff there, including two listings for “Rock and Roll Music” and thinking “Takin’ It to the Streets” would be in the top 10 when in reality it wasn’t even on the show any more. Based on what we see, I can’t say I blame my twelve-year-old self for electing not to list any predictions made beyond #12.

Some quick observations: 1) We’ve got another “Fin Lizzie” sighting–that got fixed the following week; 2) I distinctly remember hearing the Zeppelin extra in real time, as well as Casey reporting it as being the loudest song ever recorded; 3) Clearly I couldn’t parse “England Dan and John Ford Coley” on either side of its being played at the start of the show. I wouldn’t get either “Ford” or “Coley” right until the 8/21 show, either. For the moment, I’ll leave you in suspense as to what the varied manglings were.

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Late May/Early June Chart Omnibus

Premiere has been flooding the airwaves these last few weeks with shows from my charting years. Let’s take a quick look at the four most recently played (yet another is scheduled for this weekend), along with some other odds and ends.

First up, 5/30/81:

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Even though I like the Photoglo song plenty, that’s a pretty weak set of debut songs.

As for my own rankings:

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That’s a super-solid top 11, depending on how you feel about Stars on 45, but having T. G. Sheppard get so high makes me cringe now (I think I had “I Loved ’em Every One” climb up to #9). I clearly had trouble fitting John O’Banion’s song in the space allotted.

It’s been a while since I showed what Q102 was playing back then, so here’s something from as close to this 81 countdown as I have:

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Gotta say this is mighty non-adventurous. I distinctly remember them playing that Styx LP medley all the time.

Much more over the fold, with stuff from 76, 77, and 82.

Continue reading “Late May/Early June Chart Omnibus”

The National Album Countdown

Forty-three years ago today, I wrote down my first American Top 40 chart. The show was broadcast from 6-9pm on Sunday evenings on WSAI out of Cincinnati, 1360 on your AM dial. It became close to ritual, at least for the next three months, to set aside that block of time with a sheet of notebook paper and a radio of some sort close by. Committing the songs to paper meant wanting to listen through to the end of the show (though the Cincinnati Enquirer usually published the top ten of several Billboard charts in its Sunday edition).  I didn’t necessarily switch the radio off immediately after Casey implored me to “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars,” and soon I realized that WSAI followed AT40 with another three-hour syndicated show, the National Album Countdown. It reported on the top 30 albums of the week (though I don’t recall the data source—it wasn’t Billboard). The show generally featured album cuts, not singles.

I listened to the NAC with decent regularity through July and August of 76, taking notes in a spiral memo notebook, at least until I got too tired (I was twelve, and apparently midnight was too late to stay up, even in the summer). Naturally, I still have the notebook. Looks like I have parts of four countdowns from that summer.

First, 7/11 and 7/18:

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Note how I botched the names of both the Scaggs and Beck LPs (those Beck cuts sure didn’t sound live!). I have more written down for these July shows on the backs of the pages (through #7 for 7/11 and #12 for 7/18), but you get the idea.

Next, 8/8 and an undated show—very likely 8/15:

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This is all I have for both of these shows.

WSAI took AT40 off the air after the 9/4/76 show. An outcry from listeners led them to bring it back in mid-October, albeit at 8pm. No idea what happened with the National Album Countdown during or after, except that for some odd reason there is one complete NAC list, from 10/17:

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Earlier album title issues fixed!

I don’t know that I ever heard another NAC after this, and I didn’t think much about the show over the next three-plus decades. But I didn’t completely forget, either. In early 2014, I tried to harness the power of the Internet to see what I could find out about it. There was surprisingly little; the show seems to have gone fully down the memory hole. The most, and best, information I discovered came from an 2010 article on Jim Bartlett’s blog. Probably the biggest thing I (re-)learned was the name of the show’s host: Humble Harve Miller—for years and years, I’d mistakenly thought it had been Robert W. Morgan.

(I briefly related last July how that Internet search turned out to be perhaps the first step toward this blog’s creation.)

The reason for telling all this now? Humble Harve passed away on Monday; jb has written a very good summary of Miller’s, er, unusual life arc, which you can find here.

Digging around YouTube last night led me to discover audio (voice-overs only) of the 7/13/74 American Top 40 show that Miller guest-hosted. Hearing his deep, sonorous voice immediately transported me through time and space, back to my tiny bedroom in Walton. The window is open, a box fan blowing on me. I’m cupping a transistor radio to my ear with a little blue 33-cent spiral notebook at my side, lying in the lower bunk of my stacked beds, scribbling stuff down until I conk out.

 

On Saturday, there’ll be another moment from my summer of 76.

5/3/80 and 5/19/79 Charts

First, the May 80 show that was supplied by Premiere and also played by the VJs on SXM’s 80s on 8 earlier this month.

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A reminder about my code: the three numbers to the left of chart position are, in order, # of weeks on show to date, last week’s spot, and prediction for next week. It’s been a while since I checked on how my predictions fared. Not overly well here–I’m counting eight correct, with several off by one or two and some big misses on the songs I thought would hang out one more week but turned out to fall off the chart. I was ready to defenestrate “Call Me” but it still had three more weeks to go at the top; its successor is sitting all the way down at #24 on this show.

Next, what I thought about those tunes:

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Even though I thought Chris Cross was heading for #1 in the real world, he’s stalling out for me. The Pretenders will start a four-week run at the top starting the next time. Utopia had just hit #2. I’ve been seeing some dissing “With You I’m Born Again” over the last week or so in other posts about this show, but I always found it pretty and emotionally stirring. I can withstand your alternative opinions about the matter.

On the half of the chart I’m not showing you, two songs that didn’t visit Casey-land are hanging out. “The Spirit of Radio” was very much a favorite at this moment and is sitting at #35. I was also digging on Warren Zevon’s “A Certain Girl” quite a bit–it’s #47. Neither one got much higher, belying my actual level of affection for them. Over the next couple of years, there would eventually be songs that never made AT40 that reached my personal Top 10.

And finally, this past weekend’s 79 show:

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A little better on the prediction front this time–12, I think? Still wrong about a change at #1, though…

Obviously I listened to this show forty years ago but didn’t remember either the LDD or Livingston Taylor stories as I heard it on Sunday. I found the Streisand request moving enough: 82-year-old man in the Atlanta area recovering from a stroke dedicated the song to a high school sweetheart who’d visited him a couple of years earlier and took him out on a lark, to dinner and a movie (A Star Is Born, naturally). The writer noted that he hadn’t heard from her since the holidays; those listening in our house wondered if she’d fallen ill herself.

3/24/79, 4/16/77, and 4/17/82 Charts

Time to shake off the dust from my chart binders and see what’s in there that’s been rebroadcast over the last month.  First up, something grease-stained from 79:

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This is the chart from which I lifted a pic of the Streisand extra back in January–the first time I can recall hearing “Stoney End.”

In Artists’ Names Follies: A Continuing Series, I get too cute with Chuck Brown’s band, can’t figure out Giorgio’s surname, treat the singers of “He’s the Greatest Dancer” as if they were named like the Brothers Johnson, and haven’t yet sussed there was a second ‘s’ in Nigel’s last name. Writing “Colby” at this point in time is ridiculous; and Susie?

 

Next is 77:

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I was known to try to imitate the Kiss logo from time to time.

Spring 77 was one of the periods with a series of songs never made available digitally, thwarting my efforts to have a complete e-collection of the Top 40 hits from June 76-May 86. The biggest offender was “Disco Lucy,” which was on AT40 for 7 weeks; it overlapped with Ambrosia’s “Magical Mystery Tour” earlier in April and Stallion’s “Old Fashioned Boy (You’re the One),” which debuted on the following show.

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Meaningless trivia alert! This one is an oddity among my spring 77 charts: it’s the only one from April or May on white paper. All the others are green or yellow.

Before we get to 82, here’s what I found intriguing then:

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Huey and Co. are in their fourth week of five at the top. I meant it when I said that LeRoux was a favorite at the time! That ranking for Rod is a tad embarrassing. Vangelis (!), Rick, and Tommy have future #1 songs. “We Got the Beat” only reached #11–it’s turned out to be one of my less favorite songs on Beauty and the Beat. I’ve got Prism and the Cars making noise they didn’t IRL (“Since You’re Gone” reached #7). Biggest regret now is having “Find Another Fool” never cracking my top 25 (fer gawdsakes, putting “Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk” ahead of it is borderline-criminal).

As for the real thing, it’s pretty basic:

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Spring 82 was another stretch with a few vinyl-only (or almost impossible to get digitally at a reasonable price) tunes. The biggest hoser was “The Beatles Movie Medley,” but I couldn’t track that Meco thing down, either. (I mentioned on Twitter recently: what is up with the clap-beat in “Pop Goes to the Movies?” Hard to fathom him going down the Stars On/Hooked On route.)

One interesting tidbit I saw noted on the AT40 Fun and Games message board within the last couple of weeks: Both these 77 and 82 shows feature a debuting medley that includes Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright).”

 

 

 

3/11/78 and 3/14/81 Charts

So, “How Deep Is Your Love” and “I Go Crazy” spent 22 weeks together on AT40 (not including the frozen week after Christmas 77), yet in only one of those–the show previous to that displayed below–were they simultaneously in the Top 10.

Also on last week’s chart, I’d “picked” ELO and Rod to soon surface on the show. This week’s choices both bowed in at #38  on the 3/25 and 4/1 charts, respectively.

Another mild curiosity: the songs at #11, 12, and 13 are all at their peaks.

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I had a lot of enjoyable experiences in the spring of 81, both academic and athletic (the social side, on the other hand, was much quieter). There are quite a few songs from that period that I really, really liked, and the leading edge of that wave is starting to arrive in the upper half on the ol’ Top 50 chart: “Rapture,” “Living in a Fantasy,” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” all had decent helium at this point. “While You See a Chance,” another great one, is lurking at #33. Note Journey’s presence; it was already in its fourth week on my chart. As I mentioned Sunday, it was still three weeks away from being played by Casey. It hadn’t always been the case that Cincy stations would be trying to break songs, but by the early 80s my awareness of newer releases was definitely on the rise.

Cliff Richard is in his second and last week at the top, and Donnie Iris would be taking over for a three-week spin on the next list. Parsons and Benatar are at their peaks. I don’t seem to care for the McClinton, Abba, or Lennon songs nearly so much now as I apparently did then.

One last note: “Skateaway” is sitting at #31 this week; it’d hang out a few more weeks, reaching #28. I’m glad to have ranked it all, but I kinda wish I’d had it go higher…

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On the real 81 countdown:
–two other big faves from Spring 81 are showing up in Johnny Cougar and April Wine (and “Don’t Stop the Music” is plenty groovy, too);
–it’s Firefall’s last week ever on the show (save LDDs of “Just Remember I Love You”);
–two songs I didn’t appreciate enough in real time are here on the first page: “Just the Two of Us” and (especially) “Precious to Me;”
–I missed part of hour one this weekend due to some yard work–I wish I’d heard the letter that led to requesting “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer” as a dedication;
–I’d totally forgotten that Casey played an album cut from Dark Side of the Moon–had a non-single been played on the show since the early 70s, when they regularly featured something from the #1 album of the week?
–I’d also forgotten that “9 to 5” had non-consecutive weeks at #1.

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2/17/79 and 2/20/82 Charts

With two more recent Premiere rebroadcasts from The Charting Years (TM pending), it’s time for another dip into my archives.

 

The 2/17/79 show is a little notable in AT40 history because it was the last one before Casey started recapping Last Week’s Top 3. For at least the next three years, #40 was the fourth song played on the show; as the years passed, time allowed only two, one, or (by the end of the run) zero of the previous top 3 to be played. Kasem always mentioned what had been in those slots at the top of the show, though. The Lesley Gore LDD is a real treat–it took a while to wrap my head around the fact that she was just 33 32 at the time of this show.

This past weekend we were treated to a nice Feb 82 countdown, even if it does have two novelty songs:

 

As was often the case by this point,  I didn’t appear to listen to the tail end of the show–I didn’t know until Sunday that “I Will Survive” had been the second LDD.  Noteworthy #1: Joan Jett’s portentous 21-spot leap. Noteworthy #2: All four debuts were by artists making their first appearance on the show. (How often did that sort of thing happen? Sounds like a mini-research project.) Huey Lewis is the headliner, and the only one who would go on to hit again (unless you count Geddy Lee, who’s pitching in with the hoseheads at #40).

Finally, my stuff from 82:

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Aussies rule, with three of the top six; Air Supply and LRB would eventually claim the top two, respectively. Queen/David Bowie, the Go-Gos, and Chilliwack are all still chilling out in the Top 10 despite having already fallen off AT40. That Sheena Easton song is massively underrated–it’s one of her finest. I’m also a bigger fan of the Eddie Schwartz and Genesis tunes than might be evident. (The Harris Top 50 immediately following this one can be found here.)

2/2/80 and 2/11/78 Charts

Premiere has played shows over the last couple of weekends for which I have charts. First, 2/2/80:

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The semi-interesting thing here is the “Two Years Ago” feature at the bottom, just one of the various add-ons I tried out over the years (many of which were quickly abandoned). This was the first week I’d done this particular thing, and it looks like it lasted six weeks. ‘Cause, ya know, it’s important to note what #32 was previously…

While we’re on the topic of 1980, here’s Q102 from this date 39 years ago:

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Interesting mix of songs already off the national chart hanging on (Starship, Foreigner)  and songs they seem to be leading on (Floyd, Ronstadt, Babys). Love that “Romeo’s Tune” was in their top 5. I heard the Molly Hatchet plenty back then, and was a touch surprised it turned out to be a song Casey never played.

It’s the LP Extra that’s got me interested today, though–if I heard Q102 play it back then, well, it didn’t stand out. “Kill the Fire” is the rocker I know and love from Phoenix, but “Wishing on the Moon” is one I’m going to have to revisit on occasion.

And then here’s the 78 chart, one week after Debby Boone graced the show for the final time:

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Speaking of temporary features, it’s looking like “Guess the Mystery Song” is about to bite the dust. Maybe it’s just the radio station I tuned in this past weekend, but I thought the re-mastering of this show was fantastic–the music just sounded so clear. Kudos to Shannon Lynn and Ken Martin!

1/10/81 and 1/29/77 Charts

I generally took special notice of the first chart of the calendar year–perhaps not too surprisingly, it became the time when I made significant changes in layout/presentation. For 81, I abandoned the yellow legal pad I’d used throughout 80 and went sort-of “old school,” putting #40 at the top of the front page like I had in 76 and most of 77. It’s also the first time I numbered countdowns throughout the year (“Week 1”).

 

Here’s what I was digging early that January.

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Last month we saw the first week of Benatar’s run at the top with “Hit Me with Your Best Shot;” now we’ve got its sixth and final week.  “Suddenly” would be on top the next time. How is “Lady” still in the top 10, five weeks later? I was appalled to see it there in the previous Charts post. Cool to see Randy Meisner still chillin’ here, weeks after peaking on Billboard.

I’ve extended this by one more song than I usually do, to show what was hanging out at #26. I was a big fan of “Couldn’t Get It Right” back in the spring of 77, so I definitely took notice when the Climax Blues Band started getting airplay again toward the end of 80. “Gotta Have More Love” had stalled out at #47 on the Hot 100 at the end of December, and was peaking on my own chart right here. You never hear it any more–it’d be cool with me if someone decided to give it some airplay love.

One other non-Top 40 tune was nestled on my chart this week: “Stop This Game,” by Cheap Trick, sitting at #38. That’s another under-appreciated song…

Here’s what Q102 was playing a week later.

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Let’s talk about that song at #35. McGuffey Lane was (is?) an Ohio country-flavored band who by the early 80s had acquired a sizable devoted local following. Q102 played “Long Time Lovin’ You” a ton at the beginning of 81, so much that I could sing along with the chorus when I played it while writing this up, even though I’m sure I haven’t heard it since at least the mid-80s. It actually broke nationally a bit, Bubbling Under at #102 on 1/10/81 and making the Hot 100 on a week later (it would end up peaking at #85). McGuffey Lane had another small hit a year later. Anyone else remember this?

 

Finally, moving on to/back to late January 77:

 

Several oddities here. I love the massive 1977. I didn’t know Gene Cotton’s last name yet, or how to spell Smokie (I got them both right the following week). Apparently I thought Thelma Houston’s first day name (good grief–where’s an editor when you need one?) was Velma (too much Scooby-Doo earlier in the decade, I guess). And there’s the bizarre switch to cursive for the top three.

I wasn’t wrong that there’d be a new #1 the next week, but would never have guessed it’d be Mary MacGregor ascending.