Friday, August 5, 2011
Step into my time machine week sixty-seven
At Time Machine, we go back 35 years to the pop charts of this week in 1976- a week in which Legionnaire's disease was first being discovered in the unexplained death of 29 conventioneers, and a day in which Big Ben would have a catastrophic failure, not telling the time again in London for nine long months. However, time would keep moving, and we are left to look back, and mine is a musical look back. This week, We not only get a new top dog, we get a bunch of birthdays, a very unusual chart record held by Domingo Samudio, and a twisty-turny six degrees that winds around not only the Almost But Not Quite feature, but Charles Manson as well. Strap in, kids, and keep yer arms inside the vehicle!
We had 6 hot 100 debuts this week, but despite some very familiar names, only one of our birthday songs get the nod, and it too will tie into the Almost But Not Quite shoutout- Chicago's If You Leave Me Now, at #76. As we wish this song a happy 35th, here are some other songs celebrating birthdays this week:
Turning 40 this week: Donny Osmond's Go Away Little Girl; the Partridge Family's I Woke Up In Love this Morning; Stevie Wonder's If You Really Love Me; Joan Baez's The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down; Lee Michael's Do You Know What I Mean; and The Moody Blues with The Story In Your Eyes, which is one of their most underrated songs.
I've been thinking about our fortune
And I've decided that we're really not to blame
For the love that's deep inside us now
Is still the same
And the sounds we make together
Is the music to the story in your eyes
It's been shining down upon me now
Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away
We're part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day
But I'm frightened for your children
That the life that we are living is in vain
And the sunshine we've been waiting for
Will turn to rain
When the final line is over
And It's certain that the curtain's gonna fall
I can hide inside your sweet sweet love
For ever more
Celebrating 45th birthdays this week are the double sided cut from Pet Sounds, Wouldn't It Be Nice/God Only Knows, perhaps the Beach Boys greatest effort; and Jr. Walker and the All-Stars version of How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).
And on the hook for 50 years are: Barry Mann's Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp-She-Bomp); and the classic melody Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight? by Lonnie Donnegin and the Skiffle Group. "Blow out the candles..."
The big mover this week is Orleans' Still The One, which rises 18 spots to 43; the big dropper is Never Gonna Fall In Love Again, slipping 11 to 59, and Last Child, which falls the same to 32. And Sara Smile stubbornly hangs on to the Grandpa chair, having fallen only from 44 to 48 in the last four weeks to run its total to 26 weeks on the chart.
This week's look at the top dogs of other years is up to the sixes once again, which means that next week the 1990's entry will be off the Billboard chart. For you newbies, this chart data is from Cashbox (because cashbox doesn't cost 17 bucks a month to look at), and they stopped publishing in 1996. Anywho, the #1 song this week in '96 was Toni Braxton's You're Making Me High/Let It Flow; in 1986 it was former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel with Sledgehammer; 1976 was **** WAIT TILL WE GET UP THERE!! ***. The number one in 1966 was Domingo Samudio (AKA Sam The Sham) and the Pharoah's Lil' Red Riding Hood, which brings up a curious record that Sam held. It was with their first hit, Wooly Booly. Despite peaking at #2, Wooly Booly went on to be Billboard's top song for the year in 1965- a feat that wouldn't be matched for another 35 years. And the top dog this week in 1956 was the Platters' version of My Prayer- a song that Glenn Miller took to #2 and the Ink Spots to #3 waaaay back in 1939.
Next we come to #49, which is our Where Are They Now segment. And in true Rundgren-esque fashion, we have a Michael McDonald composition here for the second straight week. This time, though, it's the Doobie Brothers' sliding Taking It To The Streets.The Doobies are still touring today, 41 years after Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston founded the band. Along the way, four members have joined Dan Peek in rock and roll heaven- founder Dave Shogren (1999), Keith Knudsen (2005), and later members Bobby LaKind (2004) and Cornelius Bumpus (2004). The membership has fluctuated over the years, including a 1987 reunion tour to raise money for veterans that brought all iterations of the group together and on some songs featured 2 lead singers, 4 lead guitarists, and 4 drummers (but were running short on bass guitarists, apparently!). Besides Tom and Patrick, today's lineup included Michael Hossack (joined 1971), John McFee(1979), Skylark(1995), Guy Allanson (1998), Marc Russo (1998), and Ed Toth (2005). John Cowan, a 1993 inductee, is filling in for Skylark who's recovering from a stroke, and McDonald occasionally makes special guest appearances.
Hitting the top 40 for the first time this week are War with Summer, climbing 4 to 37, and Cliff Richard with Devil Woman, jumping a fast 13 to #30.
We have two honorees on the previously-mentioned Almost But Not Quite this week. First, Chicago's Another Rainy Day In New York City begins its fall from last week's high of 33 to 35. Ironically, the record company had had so many calls for this week's debut, If You Leave Me Now, that they ceased promoting the Rainy Day single and quick-released the other just seven weeks later. The other is Rock'N'Roll Music by the Beach Boys which drops from a peak of 11 to 19 this week. Among the many ironic things we learn about this song today is that Brian Wilson conceived this entire lp (15 Big Ones) to be an oldies compilation. The rest of the band wanted new stuff, and wanted it fast to take advantage of the momentum that Endless Summer had gave them. The result was a half oldies album, which featured not only R&RM but Chapel Of Love, Palisades Park, Blueberry Hill, and In The Still Of The Night. We'll get to more of the irony part when we get to 6 degrees in a bit.
Two songs join the top ten, two drop out. Falling are You're My Best Friend from 9 to 12, and Love Is Alive from 6 to 14. And Breezin' by George Benson remains the top album this week.
Lou Rawls breaks into the top ten at 10 this week, moving up five with You'll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine), yet another graduate of the BJ Thomas school of unnecessarily long titles. Also joining the top 10 this week are the Brothers Gibb with You Should Be Dancing. Seals and Crofts are up 2 spots to 8 with Get Closer. John Travolta drops a pair to 7 with Let Her In. Starbuck slips 3 to #6 with the setting Moonlight Feels Right. At 5, down 3, is the former top dog Kiss And Say Goodbye by the Manhattans. Wings blast up 4 to #4 with Let 'Em In. Which brings us to #3, and our six degrees featuree- Got To Get You Into My Life by the Beatles.
First, let me say that a Beatles six degrees is uniquely challenging, because of the sheer amount of directions you can go. And I sifted through a bunch of them to find this one. The song, originally on the lp Revolver, was to be on a new compilation album Capitol was putting out called (irony) Rock And Roll Music. Without going into the huge amount of headaches with song choices, remixes, and cover art that this album put everyone associated with it through, we go on to find that GTGYIML was actually supposed to be the b-side of the single. The A-side? Helter Skelter. Now that song (from the White Album) was actually about an amusement park ride, but got damned by association with Charles Manson. Not coincidentally, the TV docudrama about Manson, also called Helter Skelter, was in release; and somehow, someone got enough good sense to say, maybe we should push the b-side instead. You see, Manson, or Jesus Christ as he thought himself, had decided that the White album was a coded prophecy by the Beatles indicating that the race-war apocalypse Manson was preaching was about to happen, and that the Beatles were encouraging him to get it started. Now Manson considered himself to have musical talent, and wanted to record an album that would be the trigger for the blacks to rise up, kill all the whites (except the family, who would then come out to lead them since blacks couldn't possibly govern themselves). Into this conveniently drops Dennis Wilson, the drug-addled drummer for the Beach Boys, who gave a ride to 2 female hitchhikers who were members of the family. Manson saw the chance, and had the two get "picked up" again by Wilson a few days later. They talked him into bringing them home to his mansion, which became Manson's foot in the door. Dennis thought he saw some talent in Manson (and he and Terry Melcher actually helped him record a track, originally called Cease To Exist, which got cleaned up, name-changed, and put on a later album.) But soon, the violent nature of Manson got to him and Melcher, and Dennis did what any self-respecting rich hippie would do- he moved out, leaving Manson to do whatever. What he did was leave a note with a bullet with Dennis' maid, which scared Melcher so bad that he broke his lease and moved, the real estate agent then leasing his home to- altogether now- Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. Just to wrap this all up, consider that both Got To Get You Into My Life and Rock'N'Roll Music entered the chart the same week, and peak the same week- on Cashbox, the Beatles hit #3 and the Boys #11. On Billboard, it was the Boys peaking at #5 and the Beatles at #7. Go figure.
One more note about the Beatles. With this song at #3 this is the first time the Beatles had been in the top 3 since the last week of June, 1970, a span of 616 weeks. For some perspective: from 1964 to 1970, the longest that the Beatles had been out of the top 3 is 23 weeks. This happened twice- between Yellow Submarine and Penny Lane, and between Hey Jude and Get Back.
Which at long last brings us to the top two. And with Afternoon Delight dropping out of the top spot for the second time, that means that our new top dog jumps all the way from #7-