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


Friday, January 7, 2011

Step into my time machine week thirty-seven

This was kind of a blah week for TM, but I'm going to attempt to spice it up with the tyrannical Berry Gordy, the piano tuner who became a famous rock band, the high speed story of Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.,a first time in Time Machine event in the top ten, and the continuing story of the Beatles knocking each other about. Confused? Good, then I have a chance...

Only 10 debuts this week, and the most memorable of them are Bruce Springsteen's autobiographical Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out at 83 and Gary Wright (who'll get another shout out later) with his iconic Dream Weaver at 92. Our big movers include the fictitious Cledus Maggert (another recurring theme today) whose White Knight rises at a below-the-speed-limit 16 notches to 67, and big dropper Island Girl, which sinks to 71, a 25-spot fall. Also tumbling this week is Feelings, dropping from 45 to 68. This most unwilling of movers is now at 31 weeks; second place is Jigsaw's Sky High at 19 weeks.

Our almost but not quite is "a little lower", as War might say. Fire On The Mountain has been floating around the lower end for 11 weeks now, and spends its second and last week at 55 today. This nifty song about the life of prospecting for gold comes to us from a band who took their name from the doorkey to the warehouse in which they first began practicing- a name that belonged to the piano tuner who rented the building before them, Marshall Tucker. The Marshall Tucker Band became country rock legends despite indifferent commercial success. Their biggest hit, Heard It In A Love Song, peaked at 14 pop and 51 country. This song peaked at 38 on the Billboard charts, but here its time is done.

Only three newbies in airplay alley this week. Up 5 to 39 is David Bowie with Golden Years (don't you wonder why they don't use this song on retirement home commercials? Well, maybe not...). Helen Reddy and her bully management team move up 4 to 37 with Somewhere In The Night. And making the biggest leap, from 47 to 33, are our old friends from Rhythm Heritage and the Theme From SWAT.

Our countdown of the #1 albums of the 70s has reached the summer of 1973, where McCartney and Wings' Red Rose Speedway, which knocked the Beatles' "Blue Album" out of #1, is in turn knocked out by George Harrison's Living In The Material World. On top for 5 weeks in June and July, this lp contained the single Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth), which did Paul the double-dirty of also knocking his single My Love out of the top spot. Living In The Material World exited in late July for another album that would spend 5 weeks on top, though not consecutively- Chicago VI. This lp, which would spend 3 weeks at the top, drop to 2, and resume the top spot for two more weeks, featured two singles. Just You 'N' Me (#4) was written, as was many of their songs, by trombonist James Penkow, who wrote it for his girlfriend after a spat; when they were engaged shortly thereafter, the wedding invites were their pictures embossed onto the song's cover sheet. The second hit was Feelin' Stronger Every Day (#10). In between the two trips to the top for Chicago sat Jethro Tull, who took the top slot on August 18th with A Passion Play. Like Thick As A Brick, Passion was basically a 1-song album. Unlike Brick, it got bad reviews and went as quickly as it came.

For the first time since we've been doing TM, no songs come into the top ten- thus, no songs fall out. Funny how what works.

We're in the 9s once again in our look at the #1s of other years. In 1999, R. Kelly and Celine Dion team up for I'm Your Angel- not sure here which one was the angel. 1989 had, on it's frozen chart for this week, Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorns. In 1979, Chic was in the 5th of its 7 weeks with Le Freak; In 1969 came the strange story of I Heard It Through The Grapevine. It was first given to Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, but Berry Gordy thought it "unreleasable". Co-writer Norman Whitfield then reworked it a bit and had Marvin Gaye record it for his album The Moods Of Marvin Gaye, but Gordy really had something up his butt about this song. It sat unreleased while Whitfield reworked it yet again for Gladys Knight and the Pips. Intentionally attempting to do it in a "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" style to "outfunk Aretha Franklin", Whitfield got Gordy to release it this time, though he put none of Motown's legendary might behind it. Even so, it became a hit, reaching #1 in November of '67 on the R&B chart, and kept out of the top spot by Daydream Believer on the pop chart. Whitfield was still convinced that he had another hit with Marvin's version, but Berry refused to give Marvin a hit with it when Gladys had just got one. Whitfield managed to get Gaye's recording put onto the new album In The Groove; and while the Gordy selected single from the album foundered, deejays put such a demand upon Motown to release Grapevine that Gordy had to relent, and Marvin as a result was in his 4th of 5 weeks at the top this week in 1969.

In 1959, we find Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., who'd spent almost all of his last $200 to buy a machine that one could vary recording speed on. With this machine, he'd had one hit already earlier the year before with Witch Doctor; now, he would take his voice, this machine, and the names of three record executives to crate the fictitious rodent band Alvin and the Chipmunks. Labelling himself David Seville, he recorded The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) which held the #1 spot for 4 holiday weeks. It was his son, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., who would later have a hit with the album Chipmunk Punk (from which I remember Rock104 playing their covers of Queen's Another One Bites The Dust, Tom Petty's Refugee, and my favorite, Billy Joel's You May Be Right).

Everyone's here in the top ten from last week, they're just re-arranged. At ten, down from 4, are the Bay City Rollers with Saturday Night. David Ruffin is the first of 6 in a row to move up one notch; he takes #9 with Walk Away From Love. The O'Jays are at 8 with I Love Music; Hot Chocolate is 7 with You Sexy Thing. John Denver is at 6 with Fly Away; Sweet climbs to 5 with Fox On The Run. The Love Rollercoaster stops at 4 for the Ohio Players; Barry Manilow drops from 1 to 3 with I write the songs. Now I remember that the WMEE list at the time didn't have I Write The Songs fall until 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover was there to replace it. But Paul Simon's still piddling around in the mid-teens here, so that's not gonna happen. Manilow hung at the top a LOT longer in Fort Wayne. Convoy resumes the pattern moving up 1 notch to #2. That means our #1 this week, from a movie directed by Berry Gordy (after he fired the original director, go figure), isssss.....

Diana Ross, with the Theme From Mahogany- Do You Know Where You're Going To!!!!

I know where I'm going to- to make me some lunch! See ya next week!

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