Today on a very non-special Time Machine:
-Yet another unusually-named debut;
-Elvis has a birthday;
-Cheech And Chong go Up In Smoke;
-a couple of quick stops into cool jazz;
-and in a biiiig streeeetch, we connect Eternity's Children (who?) to Carl Wilson, using Liberace to get there.
All this plus Where Are You Now, Carly Simon? (Answer: Never Been Gone.) Oh, and at the top, what's old is new again.
Climb in, and buckle up so we don't get pulled over (it is the end of the month) and let's go!
We crack things open with a ten-debut week on the hot 100. Four are songs we all know (?); but the first one makes it solely on it's rather unusual name. At 97, we have one Michael Franks with a soft-jazz number called Popsicle Toes. This is a neat little fun song that I scratch my head was ever released as a single, much less ever hit the charts, but if you need a smile or a little chuckle today, youtube it up. At 92 comes the hardest working man in show business, the late Mr. James Brown, with Get Up Offa That Thing. Just a notch ahead at 92 is the classic Don't Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Up ahead at 83 lies James Taylor with Shower The People ( a song I would probably rate much higher on my list except for the guilt I feel in not taking its advice). And way up at 71 is Jefferson Starship from the album Spitfire with With Your Love. Happy thirty fifth birthday to you all! Celebrating 40th birthdays today are Aretha and the Heavyweights' version of Spanish Harlem; Blood Sweat And tears' Go Down Gamblin'; and Canada's Stampeders with Sweet City Woman. Hitting 45 today are Wicked Wilson Pickett's Land Of 1,000 Dances and Jr. Walker and the All-Stars' original of How Sweet It Is(To Be Loved By You). The Platters' I'll Never Smile Again turns 50 today; and it's the big double-nickel for the King and Hound Dog. "Blow out the candles...."
Our big dropper is a "song" that peaked at 46 2 weeks ago- Cheech and Chong, from the movie Up In Smoke, with Framed. It falls 19 to #69 this week. Not their first or last foray into the charts- in fact, they made the top 40 4 times: Santa Claus And His Old Lady (3), Basketball Jones (15), Earache My Eye (9), and Sister Mary Elephant (SHUDDUP!) (24). The big mover was Boz Skaggs' Lowdown, up 16 spots to #50.
A glance at the top songs of other years takes us to the 5s. 1995 is a repeat honoree: Waterfalls by TLC. 1985's top dog this week was Everytime You Go Away by Paul Young (which, as I learned, is not the same Paul Young as the late vocalist for Mike + The Mechanics- silly me). Last year, we were toasting the Eagles with One Of These Nights; in 1965, it was the Stones and Satisfaction. And in 1955, we had another repeat honoree- Bill Haley and his Comets, in week 4 of their 7 week reign with Rock Around The Clock.
All of which brings us to #49 this week- Carly Simon's version of a Michael McDonald song that the Doobies would take into the top forty, It Keeps You Runnin'. Carly has been active forever, but unless you personally follow her (or any artist from this era) its hard to know it. The music biz has changed so much. Acts like Carly get lost in the shuffle without sex scandals on TMZ and remade songs appearing on Glee. In fact, this was frustrating Carly, who blamed her record company for not promoting a recent album. Her son, Ben Taylor, advised her to channel that energy into a new album. And so in 2009 she released Never Been Gone, filled with acoustic covers of old hits such as The Right Thing To Do, You Belong To Me, That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be, Coming Around Again, Anticipation, and of course You're So Vain (which I sampled last night and found very good, especially the guitar intro.) If you're an old Carly fan, check it out.
Just before we hit the top 40, a shoutout to Almost But Not Quite, I Need To Be In Love by the Carpenters. Co-written by Richard, this song was Karen's favorite of all the songs they ever recorded, and was their 14th #1 on the Easy Listening chart- far and away the most of any act. Though it peaked at 25 on Billboard and 35 here (slipping to 39 this week), It became the theme to a Japanese show in 1995 and on re-release hit #5 on their chart.
Movement into the top 40 is nearly stagnant once again this week. Mama Mia re-enters at 38 (after dropping out last week), and the only true debut is Fleetwood Mac's Say You Love Me, up 7 to #35.
You better sit down- we have a NEW #1 album this week! It was Breezin', George Benson's first foray into a more mainstream sound. In addition to the title track (an instrumental I'm sure you'll recognize if you youtube it), there were five other tracks- all long jams of George's jazz guitar playing, including the 8-minute version of his Grammy winning This Masquerade and a Jose Feliciano track called Affirmation.
Three songs enter the top ten, three fall out. Dropping are the Boys Are Back In Town, from 10 to 26; More More More, from 8 to 22; and I'll Be Good To You, from 7 to 14.
Coming in at ten was a song that seems like it might have been a better subject for 6 degrees than the one the Broccoli gods gave me- Get Closer by Seals And Crofts. The back up singer, as I mentioned before, is Carolyn Willis, who (I didn't mention before) was a member of the Honey Cone ( remember Want Ads?), along with lead singer Edna Wright, who was the sister of another former honoree on the #1s of other years feature, Darlene Love. The boys and their girl move up 2 to #10. Queen pauses at 9 for a second week with You're My Best Friend. Zooming up 7 to #8 are Wings and Let 'Em In. Elton John and his cohort Kiki Dee break 6 spots to #7 with Don't Go Breakin' My Heart. Gary Wright slips 3 to #6 with Love Is Alive. John Travolta is stuck at 5 again with Let Her In. The Beatles climb to #4 with Got To Get You Into My Life.
And that brings us to our #3 song- the highest that is both without the bullet and not having been 6-degreed previously. That would be Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck, who though not a true one-hit wonder, was close enough to make this tough on me. Starbuck was basically the baby of vocalist and keyboard guy Bruce Blackman and marimba player Bo Wagner. Blackman was a founder of the "sunshine pop" band Eternity's Children, who had a minor (read: non top 40) hit with Mrs. Bluebird (which is also worth a listen if you're so inclined) back in 1968. Wagner actually joined EC after Blackman left; and after they did a duo thing for a brief time, Wagner spent some time as Liberace's road manager. Liberace in this time period was exploring the TV end of things; in addition to his command performance as a villain and his brother on the old Batman TV show, he also did a cameo with Desi Arnaz Jr. on Here's Lucy. Desi Jr. had been in a mid-sixties band with Dean Martin's late son Dino and friend Billy Hinsche called Dino, Desi , and Billy (catchy, no?) who had a hit with I'm A Fool (#17). Billy was the Beach Boys connection- he toured with them for a while, and his sister married Carl Wilson. And there you have it: Starbuck to Bo Wagner to Liberace to Desi Arnaz Jr to Billy Hinsche to Carl Wilson. Moonlight edges up a notch to #3.
Carl's family poses dockside, left to right: Billy Hinsche and his sister Annie Wilson-Karges (Carl's first wife), Britta Wilson (Justyn's wife), and Carl's sons Justyn and Jonah Wilson.
Which means that we have two former top dogs left. Kiss And Say Goodbye (of which we have a Spanish version playing at work) slips back to the runner up spot after 2 weeks at #1. Which means, back for a return engagement as top dog....
Starland Vocal Band with Afternoon Delight!!!
Allrightie then! It's a wrap for this week, see you next time!