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


Friday, May 20, 2011

Step into my time machine week fifty-six

Good morning, my friends, and welcome to a special end-of-school edition of time machine, in which we will do a school top ten! Also, a song that's been recorded over 500 times, and an album that has gone platinum 29 times!  And, what do Jerry Helper from Dick Van Dyke, Della Street from Perry Mason, and football star Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch have in common?  All that and more, just ahead.

In coming up with the perfect school songs for the purpose, I discovered that there are a lot of good songs touching on the subject out there, even when you take George Michael's whine-fest Teacher and throw it as far away as possible.  Some that did not make the cut were alternative hits Jeremy by Pearl Jam and Popular by Nada Surf; Teacher Teacher by .38 Special and Bob Seger's Understanding from the Teachers soundtrack; controversial subjects Society's Child by Janis Ian and Don't Stand So Close To Me by the Police; and the more college-flavored My Old School by Steely Dan.  (BTW I'd love to do a college list if I could come up with a few non- Steely Dan entrants...)  Any way, let's kick off the school top ten:

10. Smokin' In The Boy's Room- Brownsville Station: A #3 hit for the band, remade not only by Motley Crue, but (translated into Hebrew) by T-Slam, apparently one of the big acts in Israel in the 70s and 80s.
9. To Sir With Love- Lulu: From the Sidney Poitier movie, Lulu was backed on this #1 hit by the Mindbenders, who you know from their songs The Game Of Love and Groovy Kind Of Love.
8.Playground In My Mind- Clint Holmes: The one-time announcer for Joan Rivers' short lived talk show, Clint hit #2 with this song, featuring the producer's son as "Michael".

We have a short list of 6 debuts in the hot 100 this week, and I mention 3 of 'em. Foghat busts onto the charts at 95 with Fool For The City; Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band orchestrate their way in at 88 with A Fifth Of Beethoven; and Candi Staton comes in at 81 with the bittersweet Young Hearts, Run Free.
Steve Miller runs off with our big mover- Take The Money And Run moves from 71 to 50.  The big dropper is the rare song that we haven't mentioned otherwise- Paul Anka with Anytime (I'll Be There).  A sad, sweet ballad that was really more meant for the fifties than 1976, Anytime drops from 61 to 83, after peaking at 50 a few weeks back.

Speaking of peaking, the Heyettes have evidently peaked at 66 with The Fonz Song.  Burn this one to cd and play it at loud volumes for your neighbors, Bob G.

7. Charlie Brown- the Coasters: Coming out when the Peanuts character was 9 years old (real time), this #2 hit apparently had only the vaguest of ties to the good ol' Charlie Brown we all know and love.  The phrase "Daddio" was evidently lifted from the movie High School Confidential, whose theme by Jerry Lee Lewis was another considered-but-missed-the-cut tune.
6. Carrie-Anne- the Hollies: A #9 hit, co-written by Graham Nash.

Our look at the #1 albums of the 70s continues to close in on our main countdown.  We are up to January of 1976, and for three weeks, the 17th through the 31st, the top album was Gratitude by Earth Wind And Fire.  This double album contained Sun Goddess (44), Can't Hide Love (39), and the #5 Sing A Song, as well as- curiously- at least two songs from their last lp, That's The Way Of The World- the top dog Shining Star and a ballad that was a fan favorite, Reasons.
They were followed by Bob Dylan and Desire.  Lasting 5 weeks at the top from February 7th to March 6th, this was his first album with his own hand picked band, the Rolling Thunder Revue and contained the previously featured here on TM song Hurricane.  It also had controversy with the song Joey, an 11-minute, somewhat sympathetic look at murdered Mafioso Joey Gallo.
Then we hit one of the biggest selling albums of all time- Eagles Greatest Hits, 1971-75.  This album sold 29 million in the USA alone (one of them mine) and 44 million worldwide.  It was the first album, on February 24th, to be certified platinum- a distinction it earned 29 times; only Michael Jackson's Thriller has that many platinums.  Every track with one exception was a top 40 hit (the exception, a real scratch my head thing, was the #64 Tequila Sunrise); 5 were top tens, and two were top dogs.  GH was #1 from March 13th to April third, and again on April 17th.  This was one of the first two albums I owned, the other being Boston's debut album (which is another one almost everyone had).

5. Wonderful World- Sam Cooke: Another example of a classic song that charted low (#12) but outlasted the other songs of its time.  In tribute to Cooke after his passing, Herman's Hermits took their cover to #4.
4. School Days- Chuck Berry:  Ring Ring goes the bell!! A #3 for Berry, and subsequently copied on No Particular Place To Go.

Five songs debut on the top 40 this week.  Up six to 40 are the Bay City Rollers with Rock And Roll Love Letter.  Despite 9 UK top 40s including 2 #1's to this point, this was only their third of 6 top 40's in the USA.  At 39, up 4, is Rufus with a catchy tune that somehow I didn't remember, Dance Wit Me. This is the fifth of their ten top 40s.  At 38 is the ninth of sixteen top 40s for the Doobie Brothers, and the first with new singer Michael McDonald, Takin' It To The Streets, climbing ten spots to get there.  Leaping 15 notches to 36 are the Manhattans with the second of their three hits, and what would become their biggest: Kiss And Say Goodbye.  A friend of mine used to invoke the spoken word line "This has got to be the saddest day of my life" whenever things went wrong at work, to which I would add the "wah wah" harmony.  And finally at 33, up 8, is Gary Wright's follow up to Dream Weaver, Love Is Alive; this was the second of three top 40's he would score.

3. Be True To Your School- the Beach Boys:  How could I leave this off?  I'm talking about the Endless Summer version; I could live without the Honeys' cheerleading and the On Wisconsin riff.

The tour of #1s of other years is in the 5s this week.  In 1995 this week the #1 song was Dionne Ferris' I Know, once again a catchy tune I didn't remember.  Which makes ironic the top dog this week in 1985, Simple Minds' Don't You Forget About Me.  Last year at this time, you might recall that Earth Wind And Fire was at #1 with the aforementioned Shining Star.  In 1965, we once again run into Herman's Hermits with Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter.  And once again, it's in the fifties that the fun starts.  If you check Billboard for this week, you'd likely be somewhere during the reign of Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White by Perez Prado; but not so on Cashbox, where they combined competing versions of the same song into one entry.  And the song I'm referencing here is one of the most recorded of all time, with in excess of 500 different acts taking a stab at it.  This song is Unchained Melody, which was written as the theme for a movie called Unchained.  Based on the book Prisoners Are People by former prison supervisor Kenyon J. Scudder, the story was about a prisoner torn between his desire to just serve his sentence and longing for his family that made him attempt escape.  The movie starred Elroy "Crazy Legs " Hirsch as the conflicted lead; and Jerry Paris (from the Dick Van Dyke show, where he was Rob Petrie's neighbor Jerry Helper) and Barbara Hale (who played Perry Mason's right hand Della Street) also starred.  Now to the song: three major versions were out at the same time.  The best selling was the Les Baxter Orchestra's version which Billboard peaked at #2; Al Hibbler's take was at #3, and Roy Hamilton got to #6.  All of which meant that the song took over for Bill Hayes' Ballad of Davy Crockett and ran 7 weeks at Cashbox's top spot, until knocked off by Rock Around The Clock.

Collection of notes:  Dream On continues in the Grandpa chair; it slips 7 to 56 in its 32nd week.  Our almost but not quite this week goes to Kiss with Shout It Out Loud, peaking at 24 last week and slipping to 25 this time.  And, one song into the top ten, one goes out.  The dropper is Show Me The Way, from 5 to 13. 

The top ten kicks off this week with Barry Manilow slipping into the top ten with the title track from his lp Tryin' To Get The Feeling, up one spot from 11.  Boogie Fever falls under the weight of all those Sylvers, dropping from 2 to 9. Dorothy Moore moves up one to #8 with Misty Blue.  Pratt and MacClain move up one as well with Happy Days at #7. Silver Convention gets up and boogies 4 notches to #6 with- say it- Get Up And Boogie. At 5, up 1 spot, is Henry Gross and Shannon.  Diana Ross makes a strong three notches to 4 with Love Hangover.  The Elvin Bishop Band scoots up to 3, another one spot move, with Fooled Around And Fell In Love.  At #2 this week is Wings with Silly Love Songs.  And at #1 for the second week, and at #2 in our school song countdown, John Sebastian with Welcome Back.

And that leaves us with the number one on our end of the school year countdown- and tell me, could it have been anything else?

                                               1. School's Out-Alice Cooper

Inspired when Alice was asked what the best three minutes of his life were.  He thought of two three-minute periods- the opening of presents on Christmas morning, and the anticipation of the final bell of the school year.  If we could capture that feeling, he mused, that would make a great song.  And so it did.

That's it for another week, kids.  Have a good weekend and be unchained!

1 comment:

  1. CWM:
    Now that really takes me back to those days when we couldn;t WIAT to get out for the summer...adn then as soon as we did, we started fretting about WHEN we all had to go back.

    I'll tell 'ya, we always tried to squeeze twenty FIVE hours into a day...and everything we did never was against any law, or got us arrested.
    (wonder how we managed to do THAT?)
    Excellent list...nicely done.

    Stay safe up there.