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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Step into my time machine week twenty-two

Man, we got a lotta bad mojo this week, guys. Gangstas, destruction, bands falling apart, murder, rejected records- and a new number one. Follow if you dare.

12 songs debut in the hot 100 this week, only two do I immediately recognize. Keep in mind though, that a lot of songs I don't recognize make the top 40 and higher. Nonetheless, this week the ones I know are two: Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez (and if you don't recognize this one, find and listen to it.)at 95 ; and Linda Ronstadt's excellent cover of Martha and the Vandellas' Heat Wave all the way up at 77. The big dropper was a bit of a competition this week, with the former top dog Jive Talkin' winning with a 43-notch fall to 70. Our big jumper we'll see in the top 40.

First special is the next five of my personal favorites of the 70's. We are at 45 this week, which is Marvin Gaye's Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology). I think this and his What's Going On are among the most haunting songs of all time. 44 is Top Of The World by the Carpenters, which due to its association with a certain girl I knew was my all time fave from 1974-6. 43 brings us to Carole King's magnificent album Tapestry, and its unreleased title track.

"As I watched in sorrow, there suddenly appeared/A figure gray and ghostly beneath a flowing beard/In times of deepest darkness, I've seen him dressed in black/Now my tapestry's unravelling; he's come to take me back/He's came to take me back..."

42 is the Beatles (who will feature prominently later on) with The Long And Winding Road (which will also feature prominently). Finally, 41 needs no further introduction than it's had the last 10 weeks- Love Will Keep Us Together.

5 songs come down airplay alley this week: up 2 to 40 is Money by Gladys Knight And The Pips- a song among those I didn't know, but is basically For The Love Of Money by the O'Jays in a different song; up 8 to 39 is Art Garfunkel's remake of I Only Have Eyes For You; up 5 to 36 is Leon Russell's Lady Blue; up 10 to 34 is another song I didn't know, Esther Phillip's first top 40 since 1962, the disco hit What A Difference A Day Makes; and at 22, up thirty spots- yes, the week's big jumper- in just its second week in the hot 100, Lyin' Eyes by the Eagles.

The tops of other years feature takes us through the 5's this week. I guess you can attach my comments about 1994's #1 last week to 1995's #1 this week- Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio. 1985 this week had Dire Straits at #1 with Money For Nothing, which was pretty much the song of the summer in a year that I listened to more country than rock. 1975 will be at the end of the post, natch- no peeking! 1965 this week was headlined by Barry McGuire's Eve Of Destruction. You can say that was a failed prophecy- but sit down, listen to the words and think about how narrowly we escaped that dark destiny. I still get chills to this song.

McGuire also mentioned that "Eve of Destruction" was recorded in one take on a Thursday morning (from words scrawled on a crumpled piece of paper), and he got a call from the record company at 7:00 the following Monday morning, telling him to turn on the radio - his song was playing. The recording includes an "ahhh" where McGuire couldn't read the words.


Finally, the number one song of 1955 this week was Mitch Miller and his Orchestra with the semi-legendary Yellow Rose Of Texas. Our almost but not quite this week is America's Daisy Jane. It moves up 1 to 27 this week; it will drop 1 back to 28 next week as it begins its descent. I wish I could have found a cute little story to put in for this song; the best I can do is that writer Gary Beckley's son, Matthew, has toured with Katy Perry, best known for getting booted off of Sesame Street this week.

Four join the top 10 this week, four drop out. The unlucky fallers are: Could It Be Magic, which peaked at 7 and falls to 23; former top dog Fallin' In Love, tumbling from 8 t0 29; Fight The Power, goin' dooowwwn from 9 to 31 after peaking at 6; and Feel like Makin' Love, sliding from 10 to 32.

Now, on to the messy soap opera of the number one albums of the 70's. We start on my 8th birthday (May 16) when Deja Vu by Crosby Stills Nash And Young hits the top for 1 week. This powerful album (which, yes, I own) not only had the chart hits Our House (#30), Teach Your Children (16), and Woodstock (11), but AOR hits Carry On (my favorite), Helpless, Everybody I Love You, Almost Cut My Hair, and the title track. And here's where the story gets messy, as in the messy breakup of the Beatles. Abby Road, the last recorded Beatles' album, had already started it's downhill run when Let It Be was released. This album was originally recorded as Get Back, and the would-be title track and its b-side, Don't Let Me Down, had already hit 1/35 before Abbey Road came out. But there were creative problems with the mixing by Glyn Johns, and after months of squabbling, it was shelved and Abbey Road got released instead. Eventually, the remixing job was given to music's favorite convict, Phil Spector. I'll let Wikipaedia tell the story from here.

In March 1970, as Phil Spector was concurrently mixing the Let It Be album, McCartney(the new solo album by Paul) was completed.
The other Beatles realised that McCartney could conflict with the impending release of the Let It Be album and film.
Ringo Starr, whose own first album was almost ready for release, was sent to ask McCartney to delay his solo debut. McCartney later commented, "They eventually sent Ringo round to my house at Cavendish with a message: 'We want you to put your release date back, it's for the good of the group', and all of this sort of shit. He was giving me the party line; they just made him come round, so I did something I'd never done before or since: I told him to get out. I had to do something like that in order to assert myself because I was just sinking. I was getting pummeled about the head, in my mind anyway."

On 10 April, after intense disputes with Phil Spector over the final results of the long-delayed Let It Be album, McCartney snapped and publicly announced his departure from the Beatles.

The upshot comes as McCartney became the fifth #1 of the decade, topping the chart for 3 weeks, despite having no single (Maybe I'm Amazed would be released live a few years later) and containing almost 13 minutes of instrumentals. Let It Be, the remade "Get Back" (sans Don't Let Me Down and a short cover of Save The Last Dance For Me) then road the top for 4 weeks, ending on the week of the fourth of July. Fireworks, anyone? Let It Be contained the much covered Across The Universe, along with the previously released #1 Get Back and the subsequently released #1's Let It Be and the controversial Long And Winding Road.

In the spring of 1970, Lennon and the Beatles' manager, Allen Klein, turned over the recordings to Phil Spector with the hope of salvaging an album, which was then titled Let It Be.
Spector made various changes to the songs, but his most dramatic embellishments would occur on 1 April 1970, when he turned his attention to "The Long and Winding Road". At Abbey Road Studios, he recorded the orchestral and choir accompaniment for the song. The only member of the Beatles present was Starr. Already known for his eccentric behaviour in the studio, Spector was in a peculiar mood that day, as balance engineer Pete Bown recalled: "He wanted tape echo on everything, he had to take a different pill every half hour and had his bodyguard with him constantly. He was on the point of throwing a wobbly, saying 'I want to hear this, I want to hear that. I must have this, I must have that.'" Bown and the orchestra eventually became so annoyed by Spector's behaviour that the orchestra refused to play any further, and at one point, Bown left for home, forcing Spector to telephone him and persuade him into coming back after Starr had told Spector to calm down.Finally, Spector succeeded in remixing "The Long and Winding Road", using 18 violins, four violas, four cellos, three trumpets, three trombones, two guitars, and a choir of 14 womenThe orchestra was scored and conducted by Richard Hewson, who would later work with McCartney on his album, Thrillington.This lush orchestral treatment was in direct contrast to the Beatles' stated intentions for a "real" recording when they began work on Get Back.
When McCartney first heard the Spector version of the song, he was outraged. Nine days after Spector overdubbed "The Long and Winding Road", McCartney announced The Beatles' breakup. On 14 April, he sent a sharply worded letter to Apple Records business manager Allen Klein, demanding that the added instrumentation be reduced, the harp part eliminated, and "Don't ever do it again."These requests went unheeded, and the Spector version was included on the album.

Apparently, Paul envisioned the song as something like Ray Charles would do, with only a piano and no other accompaniment. I think it is the best Beatles song of all time. Go figure.

Okay, I've got all the ancillary stuff done, let's get to the main event. Leaping 7 notches to 10 is a song that had its official name change mid-climb: the Spinners with Games People Play (or, if you prefer, They Just Can't Stop It [Games People Play]); I'm thinking this was done to avert a lawsuit from Joe South and his song of the same name. Moving in after a 3 spot climb to 9 is Orleans with Dance With Me. Helen Reddy joins the club, up three to 8 with Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady; and Dickie Goodman laughs his way from 18 to 7 with Mr. Jaws. Freddy Fender holds at 6 with Wasted Days And Wasted Nights; Glen Campbell trots down 2 to #5 with former top dog Rhinestone Cowboy. Last week's top Dog, Janis Ian's At Seventeen, drops three to #4; climbing two to take the cowboy's spot is John Denver's I'm Sorry. David Geddes runs up to #2 with Run Joey Run, up 2. Making the new top dog...

David Bowie with Fame Fame Fame Fame. ... Fame!

Whew, that's it for this trip... see you next time...!

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