It's October 21, 1976. Tonight, Johnny Bench will hit 2 HRs, one a three-run shot in the ninth, to lead the Big Red Machine to a 7-2 win over the New York Yankees and a 4 to 0 victory in the World Series. Bench will be named series MVP and Yogi Berra will say, "It got late (in the series) real early." And somewhere in Georgia, less than 2 weeks from the presidential election, Billy Carter will tell an audience that his brother Jimmy is a scotch drinker and "I've never trusted a scotch drinker." Soon we would see why. Today, though, it is a breezy- but DRY- 46 degrees, and the mysterious Martin Time Machine has arrived to look at the pop charts of the day. And the things we'll run into today include birthdays for two of the all time classics, a Where Are They Now that's a lot like a six degrees- and vice versa, the winner of the worst video I've ever seen award, and a new top dog.
We open with the hot hundred debuts this week, and we have what has to be the lowest total I've seen in a year and a half of doing Time Machine- three. And the one that made an impact, celebrating its thirty-fifth birthday, is the fusion hit Dazz (disco-jazz) by Brick, coming in at #89. But this was far from the only song to have a birthday, and two of them are classics. I was going to save one of those classics for a video at the end, but it's only a 45th birthday, so I'll just say congrats to Good Vibrations, which debuted this week in 1966. Other birthdays include Melanie's Brand New Key and the Chi-Lites' Have You Seen Her turning 40, the Hollies' Stop Stop Stop turning 45, and the other classic- Patsy Cline's Crazy- turning 50 this week. Blow out the candles...
The big dropper is also our Grandpa's chair song- Kiss And Say Goodbye stops off for its 27th week at #95, a 38-notch fall. Englebert Humperdink rises 24, the top mover, to 68 with After The Loving.
Our look at the #1s of other years takes us to the sevens this week. In 1997, we were towards the beginning of the 14-week run of Elton John's Candle In The Wind '97. In 10 weeks, we'll be here again. In 1987, ironically from a current events standpoint, Michael Jackson was the top dog with Bad. 1977 saw us amidst the longest 8 weeks of my "musical youth"; Debby Boone was on top for the third of her 8 weeks with You Light Up My Life. In 1967, we kindergartners were grooving to Lulu's To Sir With Love. And in 1957, a song that surprised me because I didn't think it was that old- Johnny Mathis' Chances Are. Unlike Elton John, we won't see him at #1 again for 21 years.
Once again we have a problem at #49's WATN feature, as it is a previous featuree- the Beach Boys with It's OK on the way down. While I was looking through the "It's OK story" for anything salvageable, I found a sax credit for Roy Wood. Being an ELO fan, I said "Roy Wood? Hmmm..." You see, Roy founded the Move a highly successful UK act that morphed into early ELO. After ELO's first lp, Wood and Jeff Lynne decided to part ways, and Wood founded Wizzard. Wizzard, an octet that included a cello, two drummers and two sax players (three each if you consider Roy could- and did- play all those instruments in the studio), had six UK top tens including 2 #1s. Both of these I sampled this morning- a bit odd for American tastes, as was the bassist in the angel wings and roller skates in both videos. Roy moved on to work both solo and in a variety of other projects- Roy Wood's Big Band, Roy Wood's Helicopter Band, and the Wizzo Band, to name a few- but his most enduring hit was a Christmas tune called I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. Hitting #4 in its initial release in 1973 ( the British have a bit of a contest over the top Christmas song every year, I understand), it also made the top 40 at #23 in 1984, #16 in 2007, and 31 in 2008. Roy recently got an honorary doctorate at the U of Derby for lifetime achievement, and has put together Roy Wood's Rock & Roll Band to open for Status Quo for November and December dates in the UK.
Like the hundred, the top 40 has three debuts this week. Up 2 for its cup of coffee at #40 is Starbuck with a cool tune called I Got To Know. Moving up 6 to #38 is bandleader and jazz star drummer Norman Connors, with vocals from Michael Henderson (Miles Davis' bass player for several lps), and the ethereal You Are My Starship. And rocketing from 45 to 28, we have Rod Stewart with Tonight's The Night. That French part at the end was done by then-girlfriend Britt Eklund, whom he say he had to get "pissin' drunk" to do it and was paid not in royalties but a "new frock". I have here the translation, which we all thought was something that we couldn't hear in English back then. Actually, it translates to: "I'm a little scared, what is my mother going to say(to think)? Come a little closer, kiss me. I adore you so very much. Oh, it's him, it's him I love you I love you I love you...." Another illusion shattered.
Three songs enter the top ten, three fall out. Dropping are Lowdown (4 to 14), Devil Woman (5 to 16), and Still The One (6 to 17).
Coming in at 10, up 6, are newly-minted MHOFers the Captain and Tenille with Muskrat Love. At #9, climbing 4, is Blue Oyster Cult with Don't Fear The Reaper. Holding at 8 are the Bay City Rollers with I Only Want To Be With You. Heart climbs 2 to #7 with Magic Man. Hall and Oates edge up 1 to #6 with She's Gone. Rocketing into the ten all the way up at #5, a six notch climb, is Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald. Also rising 6 to #4 is Steve Miller with Rock'n Me. Walter Murphy, who got us started with all that Nude On The Moon stuff, holds at 3 with A Fifth Of Beethoven. Which brings us to #2, our top dog last week, and the worst video of all time, and it's NOT Disco Duck.
Finding a legit six degrees for the duck was nigh unto impossible. No list of musicians on the song could be found, and the voice of the duck, Ken Pruitt, was just a guy that Dees used to work out with. Now Dees' wife, Julie McWhirter, is an Indy native who is a voice actor, having been at various times Kanga from Winnie The Pooh, Baby Smurf, and Sassette. She was also Betty in the ill-fated Flintstones live-action movie. But none of these things moved me forward. In desperation, I went to Dees' web site. He had a list of semi intelligent news articles, and the one that unfortunately- for me- caught my eye was that William Shatner, that musical virtuoso, had done a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody ( a song he claims he'd never heard until a year ago). Figuring I'd survived Nude, I thought I'd survive this as well.
When I posted my review of Nude, Mynx suggested I might need a "cuppa tea and a liedown- or something stronger" to recover. Let me tell you, after THIS one, it's definitely "something stronger". MUCH stronger.
Though I didn't get the sound turned on to get the whole beginning, it starts with a teenage couple watching the night sky on the Hollywood Hills, wishing someone would "send them a sign" about something that I'm not brave enough to go back to find out what. Then Bill Shatner's face appears in the stars (appears smushed up against the stars would be a more apt description), and he begins a semi-spoken word rendition of the song that will make nails down the chalkboard sound like Montovani. Mixed into this is arty-cartoony versions of the zodiac doing various things up to and including background vocals, a guitar crescendo that has star-Bill shooting flaming meteors at downtown LA, and finishes with a few lines of similar treatment of Spirit In The Sky. In the end, the kids find a smoking copy of Bill's new CD, which somehow they do not throw down the hill and run away as fast as they can. All in all, this is a link that you want to e-mail to your worst enemy- but only if they are on a par with Hitler, Bin Laden, and Qaddafyduck. It has real potential for a new torture technique. (and speaking of the late great Qaddaffyduck, he might be hearing this a lot from now on...)
And that gruesome story leaves us only with our new #1- a song that would go on to spend 5 weeks at #1 in Australia, 4 in Holland, and 3 in the UK late in the year. May I present our new top dog:
That's it for this week. And please, let's light a candle that six degrees doesn't turn up anything even more horrible next week!