Good morning, and welcome to another trip on the Time Machine. This week, we visit the real estate agent to the stars, see what Steve Miller's been up to, and hit the most well connected six degrees ever. Plus, a couple of videos for your enjoyment! But first, a bit of serious business.
As I mentioned yesterday, I want to take a look at two great songwriters who passed on Tuesday. Nick Ashford was half of the songwriting/performing duo of Ashford and (wife Valerie) Simpson. The pair became a big name when Motown paired them up with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. In addition to writing their big hits including Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (both of which have been featured on my Great Sixties Countdown on Saturdays), they wrote scores of others, including Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman. They hit pop success themselves in the late seventies and early 80's with Found A Cure (#36 pop/#2 R&B) and Solid (#12 pop/#1 R&B).
Jerry Lieber was the lyrics half of the partnership of Lieber/(Mike) Stoller that dominated music in the fifties. Just a small sampling of their hits include Elvis's #1s Hound Dog and Jailhouse Rock; the Coasters' Yakety Yak and Charlie Brown; Wilbert Harrison's #1 Kansas City; and the Drifters' On Broadway, along with something we'd be featuring later on normally, the #1 song this week in 1959- There Goes My Baby. They also collaberated on Ben E. King's modification of an old gospel song into the classic Stand By Me, which did tours of duty in the top ten in both the fifties and the eighties. The duo also did a lot of production work, topping that off with Stealer's Wheel's Stuck In The Middle With You. Ashford was 70, Lieber 78.
We get nine debuts this week, of which I'm mentioning four. Kiss rockets on to the hot 100 at 94 this week in 1976 with Detroit Rock City. Starbuck's follow up to the top ten Moonlight Feels Right, called I Got To Know, comes in at 89. All you ABBA nuts out there, Fernando debuts this week at 86. And a Beach Boys song I honestly hadn't heard until now (Mostly thanks to the critical indifference that kept most of their songs down) comes in at #80- take a listen to It's OK.
Was that not great? Screw the critics, the Boys were the BEST American band ever.
Other birthdays this week include: hitting 40 years old, two of the best female vocals of all time- Carole King's So Far Away, and Karen Carpenter's Superstar. Celebrating their 45th are the Association's Cherish and 96 Tears by ? and the Mysterians. Hitting the big 5-0 is the double sided #1 by the King, Little Sister/ (Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame. And hitting the double nickel this week is a song from that doo-wop collection I mentioned last week, the Five Satins' version of In The Still Of The Night. Blow out the candles...
The big mover yet again this week is Disco Duck by Rick Dees, moving 20 to land at #50. Not much downward movement this week; a tie for ten notches down between Seals and Crofts' Get Closer (14-24) and the Carpenters' I Need To Be In Love (51-61).
Bringing us to our #49 Where Are They Now Segment, and the winner is Steve Miller's Take The Money And Run. After a hiatus from recording of 17 years, the band was brought back together to record a pair of albums- the first was Bingo! which was released in June of last year. An album of blues covers, it included a song co-written by Jimmy Vaughn (the late Stevie Ray's brother) called Hey Yeah, along with a remake of BB King's Rock Me Baby. The other was called Let Your Hair Down (and Laurie stumbled onto this album's cover last week in a rather dubious listing of the worst album jackets of all time), released in April of this year. Steve is married to his 3rd wife, Kim, and has homes in Ketchum, ID and Friday Harbor, WA. When he isn't there, he's at USC, teaching in the Thornton School of Music's popular music and music industry programs.
Moving swiftly, we take a look at the newbies in the top 40 this week. Coming in at 38, up 4, is Lady Flash with Street Singin'. Old timers to the genre recognize this name as Barry Manilow's backup singers, and the song was written, produced, and arrainged by Barry (and sounds very much like something the girls might do mid-concert while the Main Man took a break). Coming in at 35, up six, are the powerful horns of Earth Wind And Fire with Getaway. And the highest debut, finally getting its day in the sun on its second try, is Daryl Hall and John Oates' classic from Abandoned Luncheonette, She's Gone. It jumps 15 to land at #30.
Before I forget, our new grandpa song is Andrea True's More More More in its 24th week; and the #1 album remains Frampton Comes Alive!
We're at the "9s" in our look at the #1s of other years this week, as you might have assumed by the mention at the beginning of There Goes My Baby. 1999 was topped by Christina Aguillera's Genie In A Bottle; 1989 by Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting. 1979's top dog this week was My Sharona by the Knack, and this song has a true story behind it. The guitar groove and drum part were come up with years before by the band's future drummer, Berton Averre, and played for future lead singer Doug Fieger. Fieger couldn't come up with lyrics for it though, and it was shelved, until Fieger fell in love. Her name was Sharona Alperin, and when Doug looked at her, he heard music- specifically, the groove and drum lick Averre had played for him. That's actually Sharona Alperin on the single sleeve- she became a big band booster- and she has gone on to become a real estate agent for Sothebys International, realtors to celebrities. Here's Sharona then...
One song into the top ten this week, one falls out. The Beatles slide from 9 to 11 with Got To Get You Into My Life.
Our six degrees victim this week, the highest no-bullet not previously featured, takes us out of the top ten for the first time. George Benson sits at #12, up one notch with This Masquerade. Now, I'm not going to quite get six degrees here, but what it lacks, step #4 will make up for.
This Masquerade was written by veteran session man and singer Leon Russell, who released it as the b-side of his 1971 hit Tightrope. Leon has played with damn near everyone over the years, and was involved in the Great Superstar Controversy a while back. Among Leon's early credits was keyboards on Gary Lewis and the Playboys' giant hit This Diamond Ring. In fact, none of the Playboys actually played on this song, and Gary's voice is only there in heavily modified form. Joining Leon on bass guitar was a lady I had never heard of- or so I thought- by the name of Carol Kaye.
Carol was not just another session musician. In fact, she's probably the most famous musician you've never heard of. When I got to reading the songs she played on, my jaw dropped. She played on songs as obscure as Love's Andmoregan, and as ubiquitous as the Monkees' I'm A Believer, as pop as the Grass Roots' Midnight Confessions and non-pop as Tennessee Ernie Ford's Sixteen Tons. She was Brian Wilson's bass player of choice, featured on songs like California Girls, Sloop John B, and Help Me Rhonda, with album credit on the greatest album of all time, Pet Sounds. She played with Simon and Garfunkel on their hits, for example, Homeward Bound, and Scarborough Fair. She was bassist on the Raiders' Indian Reservation, Elvis' Suspicious Minds, Barbara Streisand's The Way We Were, the Lettermen's Going Out Of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off You, and both Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell.
In addition, she played 12-string guitar on Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention's Freak Out! lp, and wrote a book on how to play the bass. Her tutoring credits include Jeff Porcaro of Toto and a guy who got mentioned a few times here a while back, Tony Sales (small world, isn't it?)
And if this ain't enough, let me give you a PARTIAL list of the TV themes she's played on: Cannon; The Streets Of San Francisco; Mission:Impossible; M*A*S*H; Kojack; Get Smart; Hogan's Heroes; The Love Boat; and The Cosby Show. WHEW!
And now, almost as an afterthought, the top ten. At 10, down 3, are the Manhattans with former top dog Kiss And Say Goodbye. At #9, up one, is Walter Murphy's Big Apple Band with A Fifth Of Beethoven. #8, coming into the ten from #11, KC And The Sunshine Band with Shake Your Booty. Afternoon Delight finally abandons the upper regions, dropping 4 to #7. England Dan and John Ford Coley climb 2 to #6 with I'd Really Love To See You Tonight. Lou Rawls edges up one to #5 with You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine. Also up one are Wild Cherry's Play That Funky Music at 4 and the Bee Gees' You Should Be Dancing at #3. The dynamic duo of Elton John and Kiki Dee slip from the top to #2 with Don't Go Breaking My Heart. Which means we have a familiar face behind our new #1 song:
Finally for a special treat, I thought I'd throw in some of that great Steve Miller from Bingo! Enjoy, and till next week...