Friday, July 8, 2011
Step into my time machine week sixty-three
It's July 7th, 1976. Dick Williams has just managed the California Angels to a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Indians, one of the few bright spots in a dismal year. Nolan Ryan pitched a five-hitter, struck out 10 and Bobby Bonds hit his 10 th home run in the first for all the runs he'd need. The win put the Angels at a dismal 35-49, and Williams was twelve games away from being relieved of duty in Anaheim after three losing campaigns- the first three losing seasons of his career. In fact, he took 4 different clubs into the postseason, incuding two stormy World Series wins with the Oakland A's, and the Angels and Seattle were the only teams he never won with. On July 7th, this great manager passed away. This man is my favorite all-time manager, and I hope I'm on his team in heaven. The best quote about him, one I doubt you'll hear anywhere else, came in 1972 from former player Ron Clark- just before he got traded to Milwaukee after committing a stupid error at second base.
"Williams is a great baseball man, " Clark told a reporter, "but he sure keeps assholes tight around here."
One day further into 1976, and it's time once again for Time Machine. This week, we learn the price of talking about Todd Rundgren, see another chapter in "A&R men are idiots" from 1962, and connect the Starland Vocal band with everything from Jumbo lump crab cake sandwiches to the BeeGees. Get ready to Take The Money And Run!!
10 debuts on the top 100 this week, and after doing this for over a year, it dawns on me that in naming these songs, we are celebrating their 35th birthdays! So before I get to them, let's look elsewhere on the birthday parade. Celebrating 45th birthdays this week are: the Stones' Mother's Little Helper; the Happenings' See You In September; and the Spoonful's Summer In The City. Celebrating their 40th are: the Who's Won't Be Fooled Again; Chicago's Color My World; and (especially for Laurie, who I know will remember this one) Bread's Mother Freedom. The three we feature from today's countdown are: coming in at 99, Heart and Magic Man; at 84, my all time favorite War tune, Summer; and at 74, KC and the Sunshine Band with a song I enjoyed on the old Midnight Special show with the Wolfman, Shake Your Booty.
We just about missed out on the big mover in this section, as the BeeGees leap from 65 to 41, 24 spots, with You Should Be Dancing. The big dropper, 22 notches from 30 to 52, is Happy Days.
Last week, I said that there was so much information on Todd Rundgren that I could have done two Where Are They Nows. Well, it's a good thing, because his rendition of Good Vibrations stalls at the magic number forty-nine this week, so he's up again. This time, I'll look at the guys in his many bands.
First, he was in Nazz, a group who had a minor hit with Open My Eyes (and thanks to Bobby G. for sending me that link; I believe I have that tune on my Pandora station). Todd left Nazz after their second album, cleverly titled Nazz Nazz, but the band soldiered on a little while with Robert "Stewky" Antoni as lead vocal. In 2006, Antoni put a new Nazz lineup together and went on tour, proving once again what's old is new again.
Next came Runt, which was Todd plus the Sales boys, Hunt and Tony. Hunt, a drummer, has been in a million things, including the Iggy Pop song Lust For Life, which one listen to will make you say, "Oh, yeah, that was on that cruise line's commercials a few years back." DUM-DUM-DUM, DUM-DUM-DE-DUM-DUM. Tony has also been around; besides pairing with his brother and David Bowie in the band Tin Machine (Bowie's attempt to wash the commercialness of Let's Dance off his image), he was also among other things in a band called Checquered Past. CP was noteworthy mainly for the members of the group: Michael Des Barres, who was also MacGyver's nemesis Murdoc and the lead singer for Scum Of The Earth on WKRP In Cincinnatti; Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols; and as typical with Rundgren stories, Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison of Blondie.
Bringing us to his most successful band, Utopia. There were several versions of Utopia- the 1974 version reunited January 29th and 30th of this year to do a benefit to pay keyboardist Moogy Klingman's cancer bills. The most enduring version was the 1975-1986 lineup. Kasim Sulton we've mentioned before in the New Cars; he tours with Todd and was the singer on their one top forty hit, Set Me Free. Willie Wilson was the Senior Composer and Musical Designer for NBC Universal from 1999-2005, and is still in the TV end of things. Robert Powell, protege of Robert Moog (who invented the Moog synthesizer), took a break from music for several years to recover from a condition called Repetitive Strain Injury; he is still putting out keyboard albums. And there you have Todd Rundgren, part two.
We have six debuts this week in the top 40! At 40, up fourteen, is Tavares with the 4th of their 8 top forties, Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel. One step ahead of them for the second straight week, Wings are at 39 with the 14th of 24 top 40s credited to them, Let 'Em In. At 37, up 6, is the first (and best) of 7 top 40s for George Benson- This Masquerade. At 35, also up six, is the first of 6 for the duo of England Dan And John Ford Coley, I'd Really Love To See You Tonight. Climbing 12 to enter the 40 at 33 is Aretha Franklin with Something He Can Feel. Now, everyone who knows me knows that there are certain acts I just cannot stand. The Doors; Jay and the (f'ing) Americans; Michael (the Antichrist) Bolton. But the top spot I save for Aretha and the Heavyweights (a name I gave her plump backup singers on their performance at the R'N'R HOF). I honestly did try to play this song to see if I remembered it; after half a minute I had to abandon ship or I'd be remembering it in nightmares. Apologies to her fans, but it is, after all, my story. Finally, the top debut- after just two weeks in the hot 100, Elton John (his 19th of 57 top 40s) and Kiki Dee (her second of two) with Don't Go Breaking My Heart, after a 17 notch jump, comes in at 30.
In our look at #1s of other years, we are in the 2s this week. 1992's top dog this week was Mariah Carey's take on I'll Be There. In 1982 it was the Human League's Don't You Want Me- a song that just kept growing on you, and by the time you decided you really did like it, it was #1. In 1972, Cashbox had the Billy Preston instrumental Outta-Space; in 1962 we come to one of my mom's faves, Bobby Vinton's Roses Are Red. Bobby, an aspiring new artist, found this song in the reject pile at Epic records. A&R men, whatcha gonna do? And the 1952 top dog this week is a repeat salutee- Georgia Gibbs with Kiss Of Fire.
One song into the top ten, one out. Our dropper this week is Get Up And Boogie, from 6 to 18.
The newcomer (no surprise if you paid attention to the lead-in), is the Steve Miller Band's Take the Money And Run, up 2 notches. Dropping two to #9 in The Captain And Tennile's Shop Around. Falling three spots to #8 is Dorothy Moore and Misty Blue. John Travolta, riding a crest of lust-filled teenyboppers, climbs 3 to #7 with Let Her In. Starbuck climbs from 8 to six with Moonlight Feels Right. Charging up 4 to #5 is Gary Wright with Love Is Alive. At #4, down two, and for the first time since I started six degrees NOT the highest song sans bullet, Wings and Silly Love Somgs. Holding (ironically enough) at #3 is Andrea True and More More More. The Manhattans rise to 2, up 2, with Kiss And Say Goodbye. Which brings us to our number one song, and our six degrees contestant for the week- Starland Vocal Band, third week at the top, and Afternoon Delight.
Afternoon Delight was conceived by Bill Danoff and his wife Taffy at the Clyde's restaurant in Georgetown, D.C. The name came as they ordered off the midday appetizer menu, which Clyde's called "afternoon delights". The menu consisted of Buffalo wings, crab and artichoke dip, the Clyde's burger (lettuce, tomato, and your choice of swiss, american, muenster, cheddar, or monterrey jack cheese), the chicken sandwich #1, caesar salad, and the jumbo lump crab cake sandwich. Danoff had also written Take Me Home Country Roads, which John Denver made into his signature song, Danoff had never been to West Virginia; in fact, he and Taffy played with the idea of making it "Massachusetts". Massachusetts is of course also the name of a big hit by the Bee Gees, who likewise had never been to Massachusetts (it was written on a boat bound for the Statue of Liberty) but just liked the name. So, we have a song about West Viginia written in the Nation's Capital, a song about Massachusetts written at the Statue of Liberty, and a gold record- for this week's number one song- hanging in the foyer at Clyde's in Georgetown, where you can still order afternoon delights from 4-7 pm.
That's it from time machine. Anybody hungry for a crab cake?