It's November 4th, 1976. The American people two days ago sang Song Of The South at the voting booth and elected Jimmy Carter; soon we'd be echoing Anthony Newly's performance on today's Mike Douglas show and singing What Kind Of Fool Am I? At least, those of us that weren't singing the theme to the Muppet Show, which hit our shores just about a month ago. Today on TM, we'll be combining Where Are They Now with the week's high debut; find a song that was released recorded at the wrong speed; and not only find the connection between the 5th Dimension and Laura Nyro, but between Hall and Oates and Austin Powers! Let's dive right in...
...with the song that was released accidentally made to play at 39 rpm rather than 45- Styx with Mademoiselle, which debuts this week at 100. Oddly enough, the b-side, the AOR hit Light Up, was recorded correctly. How's that for a difference between album and single? Also coming in this week was the rather obscure Hall and Oates song Do What You Want, Be Who You Are at 96. Now I kinda remember this (as I do many more obscure H&O songs), but the boys quickly learned that perhaps they should avoid using the BJ Thomas school of abnormally long titles after this. Car Wash by Rose Royce also debuted this week at 94. Now read that number dyslexically and you'll see our high debut hits all the way up at #49, which happens to be the magic number for the Where Are They Now segment of our show. That song would be Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word by Elton John
Now we all know that Sir Elton is as busy as anyone in the biz, so I'm just going to leaf through a few highlights. (and no, I'm not posting the "duck picture" again.) You Grammy-addicted kiddies know he sang three duets with Lady Gaga on the 52nd award show, including his masterpiece Your Song. He also was the entertainment at a surprising gala event last summer- Rush Limbaugh's wedding, which supposedly paid a cool million. Only eleven days later, I saluted him for playing a concert in Israel that Elvis Costello and his little sheeple dropped out of because of Israel's treatment of the poor little Palestinians who were doing nothing but minding their own business and killing innocent people with rockets. In September of last year he released an album collaboration with Leon Russell called The Union. This became the highest charting album that Elton had had since Blue Moves (which is, ironically, the lp that Sorry came off of). I listened last night to a cut from that album featuring Neil Young called Gone To Shiloh. If you like historical-themed songs (think The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down), this was a fantastic tune, and you should youtube it. Sir Elton just opened his Million Dollar Piano show in Vegas in September, and on October 8th, played his 3,000th concert.
And congrats to the four 35th birthday songs! We do have two other birthday songs this week- Three Dog Night's Old Fashioned Love Song turns 40, and Simon and Garfunkel's Hazy Shade Of Winter turns 45 this week. Blow out the candles...
For once, I have a "top songs of other years" segment where I even like the 1990's entrant! The years we're up to this week are the 9s, and in 1999 the top song was Smooth by Santana and Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. It was near the beginning of its 12-week reign at the top. 1989 featured Tears For Fears at the top with Sowing the Seeds Of Love, and one can't go wrong with TFF. 1979's #1 this week was Herb Alpert's comeback hit Rise, which made him the first act to have a #1 instrumental AND a #1 vocal (1968's This Guy's In Love With You, which was also his LAST hit before Rise). 1969's top dog this week was the 5th Dimension's Wedding Bell Blues, which was written by Laura Nyro- who had also penned their last big hit, Stoned Soul Picnic. Another song had been released, but was faring piddlingly when djs around the country began playing Wedding Bell Blues, forcing the record company to release it. Did no one ever think to hire djs as A&R men? We might have heard a lot more great songs on the radio that way. Finally, this week in 1959 saw Bobby Darrin and Mack The Knife stroll off after a seven week stint at the top.
Oh, before I forget, the big mover was Hot Line, jumping 28 notches to 60 this week; the big dropper was You Never Find Another Love Like Mine, falling 15 to #67.
Coming into the top 40 this week were three songs. At 35, a nine notch climb was my unknowing love, Yvonne Elliman, with the Barry Gibb-written Love Me. Englebert Humperdink jumps 16 to #34 with After The Loving. And up 10 to #32, speaking of the 5D, is Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis with You Don't Have To Be A Star. And an almost but not quite shoutout this week to m'man Barry Manilow, whose title cut to This One's For You, slips from its peak at 21 last week to 23 this week. "This one'll never sell, they'll never understand..."
That reminds me of how this was one of music's last big periods for me. I had so many favorites climbing the charts right now- Nadia's Theme was at 16, The Rubberband Man at 18, I Never Cry at 24, Stand Tall at 29, Nights Are Forever Without You at 31, Livin' Thing at 54. And a couple more up ahead, one of them the Bee Gees' Love So Right at 11. After The Loving reminds me of how the chill was coming into the air, and Wham Bam Shang A Lang ending its top 40 run reminds me that the warm days were already gone. Another year was dying and you couldn't save it- except through memories, like Time Machine.
2 songs come into the top 10, two go out. Falling were A Fifth Of Beethoven, from 5 to 19, and Magic Man, from 7 to 17.
The first top ten debut this week is ABBA with Fernando, up one to the leadoff spot. Funny, because I had looked to see what was #1 in Australia this week and found a song I didn't know by Bryan Ferry- the only two weeks breaking up a 24 week run by ABBA with Dancing Queen and Money Money Money. Up one to #9 is Kiss' Beth. Coming storming into the top ten at #8, up from 14, is Boston with More Than A Feeling. Blue Oyster Cult edges up 1 to #7 with Don't Fear The Reaper. Which brings us to #6 (and holding) and our six degrees victim.
She's Gone by Hall and Oates, as regular readers know was on its second life on the charts (hence its seat in the grandpa chair this week with 27 weeks on the chart), having reached #60 two years before, and being re-released after not only the success of Sara Smile, but that of Tavares' version of She's Gone, which hit #1 R&B earlier in the year. Again, you regulars know that the song was off the great album Abandoned Luncheonette. What you don't know, perhaps, was that the horn and string arrainger on this disc was a name you've heard before in this very segment- record exec and multi-talent Arif Mardin. Mardin got his big break when he performed for Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillespie during a tour in 1956, which had won him a Quincy Jones Scholarship to the Berklee School Of Music. Here we veer off to see where Quincy himself was just starting, and he got a break in 1964 when he scored a critically acclaimed movie called The Pawnbroker (which starred Rod Steiger and included Morgan Freeman's first - uncredited- movie role). For this movie he came up with, among other tunes, Soul Bossa Nova- which you know better nowadays as the Austin Powers theme.
Back at the countdown, Muskrat Love jumps a surprising 4 to #5. Former top dog If You Leave Me Now by Chicago falls 2 to #4. The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald washes ashore (yeah, I got a million of 'em) at #3 for Gordon Lightfoot, up 1. The Disco Duck dances down out of the top spot to #2 this week, which means we have a new top dog-
Don't forget tomorrow is the penultimate edition of the Great Sixties Countdown, and be back here next time!