Hello Hooray!! We've reached the Merry Christmas edition of Time machine, and this is a week for believing, a big week for the King (at least in our story), and the week I tell the soon to be famous Fly Away story. Let's ho-ho-go!!!
8 debuts in the hot 100 this week, and I knew 1/2 of them! Coming in at 85 is the classic by Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody. With their timing just a hair off, we find the ubiquitous Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with December 1963 (Oh What A Night) at 84. Oh well, I guess the song does say, LATE December. If you are a fan of Art Garfunkel at all, you should check out his album Breakaway. The Title track, my favorite of his solo efforts, debuts at 79 this week. And at 77 Rufus featuring the lovely ...er, voice of Chaka Khan, hits with Sweet Thing. One thing I was going to note is at #88 is a song I noticed coming in a month ago, called For A Dancer by Prelude. Now if you remember Prelude at all, you remember their a capella version of Neil Young's After The Gold Rush. This, however, was so Peter Paul and Mary-like in the clip I listened to that I had to check and see if it was the same act. I'll have to fit this in with a handful of early 70's soft folk acts like Batdorf and Rodney to put on my Pandora station, Scrappy Radio.
Another thing that I wasn't going to note but will anyway, is that Feelings has yet again arrested its fall. In its 29th week on the charts, it slips only 2 to 49. By contrast the big dropper, falling 34 notches to 67, is Venus And Mars/Rock Show by Wings. As per usual, we'll see the big gainer in the top 40 debuts. Also, I see no good candidate for the almost but not quite this week; although I saw that the Pointer Sisters peaked last week at 51 and go down slowly to 54 with a song called, appropriately enough, Going Down Slowly. I can't make this stuff up.
Our looks at the tops on other years' charts takes us into the 6's this week. 1996 had already seen the crash and burn of the old Cashbox chart by this week, but on Billboard the top dog was Toni Braxton's Un-Break My Heart, which was in week 3 of an 11 week run. In 1986 Wang Chung was on top with Everybody Have Fun Tonight. This song always reminds me of the night on Letterman's monologue when he announced that Connie Chung and Maury Povich were going to try artificial insemination, leading him to observe, "This gives new meaning to the phrase, 'Everybody wang Chung tonight.' " One year from our current position in the timestream, we find Leo Sayer at #1 with You Make Me Feel Like Dancing- a song that never did the same for me. The top dog this week in 1966 was the Monkees I'm A Believer, which was in the second of an 8-week run. In 1956 the top song this week was Singing the Blues by Guy Mitchell. Mitchell, a pop vocalist who had 9 top tens including 2 #1s (Heartaches By The Number in '59 was the other), was born Albert George Cernik. He was given his stage name by Mitch Miller, who allegedly said, " My name is Mitchell, and you seem like a nice guy, so..." Singing The Blues spent 5 weeks on top in 1956/7, and two in the UK. Only thing is, in Jolly Ol', the 2 weeks were separated by Tommy Steele's version of the very same song. In the meantime, Marty Robbins was charting a country version that held the top country spot for 13 weeks.
4 new top fortys. Up 2 to 40 is a song I believe I mentioned at its debut a few weeks back, BTO's Down To The Line. Up 14 to #39 is the George Baker Selection's Paloma Blanca, a song later made infamous on commercials by Slim Whitman. From 56 to 38 comes the moaning groanings of Donna Summer and Love To Love You Baby. And our big jumper, from 48 to 22, is Paul Simon and 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.
Our album countdown features 3 one-and-dones, in the weeks of April 21- May 5th, 1973. First up was the Alice Cooper band with Billion Dollar Babies. The name was a reference to their sudden unexpected success, and the singles included Elected (26), Hello Hooray (35), No More Mr. Nice Guy (25), and the title track (57). Then Came one of the great albums of all time- Pink Floyds Dark Side Of The Moon. This monster album is claimed to be the 3rd largest-selling album of all time, behind Michael Jackson's Thriller and AC/DC's Back In Black. It remained on the Billboard top 200 albums list till 1988- a total of 741 weeks ( a little humility for YOU, Morris Albert). Never a big singles band, it did include their first American chart hit, Money (13), along with the dreamy Us And Them (101). In fact, the only two top 100 hits in the USA for this legendary band were Money and the #1 Another Brick In The Wall; however, they were much more successful on the mainstream rock chart established thereafter, with 8 top tens there including the #1's Learning To Fly (my favorite), On The Turning Away, and Keep Talking.
Dark Side then yielded to Elvis Presley. He taped a live special from Hawaii on Jan. 14th, 1973, called Aloha From Hawaii which was beamed into 40 countries and seen by 1.5 billion viewers. Of course that was the week of Super Bowl VII in the USA, so American audiences didn't get to see it until April 4th on NBC. The show pulled 50% of the US audience, and is still the biggest ratings pulled by a solo performer. It was also the only film produced by the King himself; and the album resulting, Aloha From Hawaii:Via Satellite, was his last #1. All proceeds from the concert, including Elvis buying his own $1,000 ticket, went to the Kui Lee Cancer center. The album yielded one single, a cover of James Taylor's Steamroller Blues (17).
Two songs enter the top ten, 2 fall out. the droppers are Fly Robin Fly, from 4 to 13; and Sky High, from 5 to 15. Kinda ironic, considering the titles, eh?
Rather than interrupt the countdown in medias res, I'll go next to the Fly Away Story. This was the late fall of our 8th grade year at dear old St. Louis Besancon Catholic School, and we had just went through a traumatic teacher change. 7th and 8th were now in the hands of one Herman Paul Stork, a nice guy for a bearded, warmed over hippie type. He had a lot of patience with the jokesters from our classes (and there were many), as befits a man with such a... er, unusual name. One night, he got permission (I'll never understand how) from Nuns and parents to take us to see the movie All The President's Men, a flick that began my lifelong disgust with Woodward and Bernstein. You that have seen this, all I can say is that the nuns OBVIOUSLY didn't screen it first. In any event, he took us to Pizza Hut afterwards- a Pizza Hut which had, of all things, a jukebox.
Descending upon it, we saw it had our subject song; and yours truly devised an excellent plan. About 4 or 5 songs in, we heard the opening guitar chords and in the midst of conversation, our eyes all met. When John Denver hit the chorus, the 20-some of us as one looked straight at Mr. Stork and as loud as we could, sang, "FLY AWAY". We laughed, he turned his usual shade of red, the restaurant looked at us all confused, and a good time was had by all.
Holding at #10 for a third week are the O'Jays with I Love Music. Fly Away joins us at #9, up 4. Moving from 11 to 8 this week is Sweet with Fox On The Run; KC and the Sunshine Band drop from 3 to 7 with That's The way I Like It. The Ohio Players wake from their week's slumber and resume climbing , up 3 to #6 with Love Rollercoaster. Last week's top dog, Let's Do It Again by the Staple Singers, drops all the way to 5. It is followed by three straight songs that move up 4 big notches- Convoy by CW McCall, from 8 to 4; Diana Ross' Theme From Mahogany, from 7 to 3; and Barry Manilow's I Write The Songs, from 6 to 2. Which Means that this week's #1 song- and the last for 1975, as this is the chart dated 12-27-75- is....
The Bay City Rollers with S-A-TUR-DAY- NIGHT!!
That's it from sunny Honolulu (yeah, right). See you next week in a brand new show!