Before we step into the machine this week, let me assure everyone that this machine is not a Yak-42, a plane so unsafe it has been banned in the EU- like the one Lokomotiv died on. It is not due to be taken out of service on October 1st after 18 years of use. It did not just have an engine replaced last month, and is not loaded with low-quality fuel that may have caused the crash in Yaroslavl. The structure is sound, because it is sound; the engine is good, because it is in your soul; and the fuel is high quality, because it is your imagination. And unlike fragile humans, music will never die. This is the Time Machine, surging forward in defiance of the passing years, and we WILL reach our destination.
We kick off this week with a measly 7 debuts, but three of these go on to be huge hits- at 92, Boston and More Than A Feeling from their monster debut album (still one of the best rock albums of all time); at 91, The Commodores with Just To Be Close To You (" For a moment baby, for a moment baby, for a moment baby for the sugar sugar sugar yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah" man, that made the whole song for me); and at 90, the Spinners and The Rubberband Man. When this song came out, about the only places you could get the lyrics (or approximations thereof was in Hit Parader and its sister magazine, Song Hits. I bought an issue just to try to figure out just what the hell he says in the second verse. It was at the bottom of the page, and only got to the opening line of said verse, "Once I went to hear him play in a club outside of town." When I turned the page- there was no more, that was it!! Both magazines were that way. Thank you very much for stopping a couple of lines BEFORE the part I couldn't understand. They had some other famous mistakes in that rag, too. Still, it beat arguing with my nieces about whether Dan Seals was saying, "I'm not talking 'bout MY LINEN" in Really Love To See You Tonight. Anyway, happy 35th birthday to those three. Among the other songs with birthdays this week are yet another tune from the movie High Society, True Love (in which Bing Crosby did the singing, Grace Kelley got a cameo at the end and co-credit on the label) which turns 55 this week. Also we have Ray Charles' Hit The Road Jack turning 50 this week; the Count Five's Psychotic Reaction, the Left Banke's Walk Away Renee, and Bob Dylan's Just Like A Woman turning 45, and two songs hitting the 40 mark- Coven's theme from Billy Jack, One Tin Soldier; and especially for Laurie, the Osmonds' Yo-Yo. I don't know if y'all remember that, but I do know she does. Blow out the candles...
I thought for sure last night our big mover was going to be in the top forty -we had a song move up 31 spots to get in- but another one beat it out. A song that was about two women, neither of whose names were the one in the song; it was a last minute addition to an album that 3/4ths of the band members did not want on the album; it was recorded without any of the members of the band other than the singer even being on the recording; and was the b-side of the record when it got released! Some of you old fogeys probably knew this from the first clue- we're talking about the two sided hit Beth/Detroit Rock City by Kiss, which moved up 32 to land at #55 this week. The big dropper is Aretha Franklin and the Heavyweights with Something He Can Feel, slipping 21 to #66.
I will admit to serious struggling with the upcoming six degrees segment; but I'll kinda make up for it with one of the songs here in our look at the #1s of other years. We are in the 1s this week, and in 1991 we have that poster child for "abandoning rock to sell out and record big selling schmaltzy ballads", Bryan Adams, with (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. Another such ballad was on top this week in 1981- we were in the midst of the 9 week run at the top for Lionel Ritchie (yes, youngsters, Nicole's dad) and Diana Ross with Endless Love. In 1971, another sighting of Aretha and the Heavyweights with Spanish Harlem (which peaked at #2 on Billboard); and a funny story about the #1 this week in 1961. The song was the folk adaptation of the gospel song Michael Row The Boat Ashore, simply called Michael, by the Highwaymen. I think we've hit the story before how this band once sued Waylon, Willie, Johnny, and Kris over the use of the Highwaymen name. In point of fact, the dynamite first lp by this quartet simply billed them by name; the sobriquet "Highwaymen" came about because nobody wanted to go through the process of naming them all all the time (you see I haven't), and from the first single from the lp, called Highwayman. This tune was written by Jimmy Webb, whom I had a research encounter with just the other day. You see, we had just listened to Richard Harris' opus MacArthur Park, and I wanted to once and for all see just WTF he was singing about. Turns out the song was written by Webb (who had pitched it to the Association- which I thought might have been pretty cool- and they rejected it.) as he was going through a breakup with his girlfriend Susan- that's Susan Ronstadt, cousin of Linda, who also inspired Webb's By The Time I Get To Phoenix, which Glen Campbell scored with. Weird, wild stuff! And before we forget to put it in, the top dog this week in 1951 was Because Of You by Tony Bennett, backed as usual by Percy Faith's orchestra- Bennett's first chart single and first #1.
That brings us to Where Are They Now, and at #49 this week is James Taylor with Shower The People. Now James has been through a lot in his many years of stardom, so we have to forgive him his communistic associations- his ties to Moveon.org, his association with the John Kerry campaign and the Dixie Chicks debacle, and his buddy buddy friendship with the current resident of the White House. Last year he was more productively employed on the Troubadour Reunion tour with Carole King and his old band. He is living in the wilds of western Massachusetts with his current wife Caroline, and their children Henry and Rufus. (not to pick on Sweet Baby James here- any more than I have- but the kid's names struck a chord with me. An old friend of mine's parents used to have a funny dog named Henry; Laurie's niece used to have a dingo named Rufus. That's what ran into my mind as I typed this.)
Before I run off to the top 40 debuts, Frampton Comes Alive! returns to the top of the album chart this week- adding to the 5 non-continuous weeks it has totalled since it first got up there WAAAAY back on April 10th. Also, More More More, adds to its weeks in the grandpa (or grandma, whatever) chair at 26 weeks and counting.
Coming into airplay alley this week are 5 tunes, starting with that song that jumped 31 notches- the Bay City Rollers, with the old Dusty Springfield song I Only Wanna Be With You. At 39, up 3, is a song you've already seen a video of- Henry Gross' Springtime Mama. Up six is another one of those songs I (kinda) recognized once I played it- the Ohio Players with Who'd She Coo? at 38. Then jumping 13 to land at 33 is Steve Miller with Rock'n Me. Finally, leaping 18 to enter the 40 at #30 is the aforementioned Linda Ronstadt with That'll Be The Day.
Two songs come into the top ten, but the funny thing is I only bothered to write down one of the two that fell out. No harm done. The two that fall are Let 'Em In (6 to 17) and Afternoon Delight (at last, 9 to 22).
Since the six degrees victim is actually up near the top for a change, let's get on with the top ten. At 10, up a single spot, are Tavares with Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel. Up 3 to #9 is Cliff Richard with Devil Woman. Lou Rawls retreats to #8, down 4, with You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine. Also backing down is former top dog Don't Go Breaking My Heart, also dropping 4 to #7. Walter Murphy's A Fifth Of Beethoven moves up 2 to #6. Boz Skaggs slams up the count to #5, a 5 notch climb for Lowdown.
The aforementioned Really Love To See You Tonight, not talking about the linen of Dan Seals or John Ford Coley, slip up one notch from #5 to #4. KC and the Sunshine Band, heralding things to come, march up 4 to #3 with Shake Your Booty. Which brings us to our six degrees at last.
The Bee Gees slip from the top spot to #2 this week with You Should Be Dancing. While I found several interesting factoids about this song ( such as it being the first #1 for them with the Barry Gibb falsetto, which was discovered by Arif Mardin) I had trouble getting a coherent six degrees. I ended up with a couple of trains, though, going through their band.
Lead guitarist was Allan Kendall, who once belonged to a band called Toe Fat. Their claim to fame was in having two future members of Uriah Heep, lead guitar/keyboard Ken Hensley (who Kendall replaced when he left to form Heep) and drummer Lee Kenslake. These two, in turn, were former members of a band called the Gods, whose claim to fame- besides the two future members of Heep- were the other members of the band- Greg Lake of ELP, and John Glascock, who would go on to play with Jethro Tull.
The other string starts at drummer Joe Lala. Joe was also the drummer for Blues Image, who had the big hit Ride Captain Ride. That song was written by guitarist Mike Pinder (who based it on 73 keys on their piano, "and it wrote itself from there"). Pinder, among other things, was guitarist for Alice Cooper on the albums Special Forces and Zipper Catches Skin- the latter being famous for being one of two lps that Alice cannot remember recording due to alcoholic amnesia.
And that brings us to our new top dog this week:
That's a wrap, kids. Thanks for coming along, tune in tomorrow for the sixties countdown, and right back here next week!