‘Twas the time machine before Christmas, and the news continued quiet. The temperature dropped throughout the day, the wind got things bitter cold, and with barely an inch of snow on the ground, by 9 pm we hit 5 degrees with a wind chill of –10. (Of course, it got into the thirties by the big day, with no further snow.) And within the time machine, we saw the return of an unusual song from a Where Are They Now past, the return of the #49 curse, the King of Jazz (and no, it’s not Louie Armstrong), And we connect Leo Sayer with former pro wrestler Dick The Bruiser! Let’s have at it, shall we?
10 songs debut this week in two groups of five (90-94 and 96-100). The first group featured a returnee- Dickie Lee’s 9,999,999 Tears, which re-enters after peaking at 67 and falling off last week. Thelma Houston’s Don’t Leave Me This Way comes in at 92, and the novelty hit In The Mood by the Henhouse Five (plus Two), in which the vocals were particularly fowl (Tee Hee) comes in at 94. The second group included chick magnet Tom Jones with Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow at 97; and at 99, reggae band Boney M hits with their version of Daddy Cool, which featured on this program a few weeks back on the Little River Band WATN, when a proto-LRB going by the name of Drummond did a chipmunk version of the song.
In addition to the crew turning thirty-five, here are our other birthday songs. Three Dog Night’s Never Been To Spain, War’s Slippin’ Into Darkness, and Climax’s Precious And Few all turn forty this week. Turning 55 is Pat Boone’s Don’t Forbid Me, along with an oddity that turns both 55 and 60. We all know the English folk tune Greensleeves, if for no other reason than the use of it's tune in the carol What Child Is This. Well this week in 1956, the Beverley Sisters entered the (top 50) chart at #37 with Greensleeves- and in 1951, Mitch Miller’s Orchestra came in at #38- thus we have a nearly 500-year-old song turn both 55 and 60 this week!
I forgot about the grandpa chair last week, probably because She’s Gone was still in it. It still is, at least for one more week, but this time it’s also our biggest dropper- falling 31 spots to #79. Our big mover is at 54, up 18- Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle.
Well, we have a problem with the WATN segment, as #49 is occupied for the second time in three weeks by the Beatles Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. As Disco Duck lies above it at #48 (and the last time I went THERE, I got Bill Shatner’s Bohemian Rhapsody), we’ll slide down to the #50 hole, where we find the Bay City Rollers with Yesterday’s Hero.
BCR has been around for a long time, but there are five guys that make up the “classic lineup”. Bass Guitarist Alan Longmuir lives in Scotland with wife Eileen. He’s been in ill health for years, having suffered a heart attack in 1995 and a stroke two years later. His brother Derek was the drummer, and since his retirement in 1981 became a nurse in Edinburgh, where he lives still. For several years he has been fighting allegations of possessing child porn, which he and his family claims was a set-up by an obsessed American fan. Lead guitar Eric Faulkner still tours with his version of the band, Eric Faulkner’s Bay City Rollers. Rhythm Guitarist Stuart “Woody” Wood and wife Denise also live in Edinburgh, where they produce Celtic music, such as Julienne Taylor’s A Heart Within, released this summer. Lead singer Les McKeown has struggled- with drugs (acquitted in 2006 on drug dealing charges); alcohol (he was the subject of UK reality show Rehab, based at an LA clinic); and other things (he recently discussed in an interview his bisexual relationship with manager Tam Paton, who was convicted of gross indecency with a minor boy in 1982 and died two years ago). He lives with his wife Peko in Hackney, England, and tours with Les McKeown’s Legendary Bay City Rollers.
Yet another oddity occurs with the top 40 debuts- two of them, and I didn’t remember either one! I did kinda recognize Tavares’ Don’t Take The Music (coming in at 40, up 3)once I played it; not so Earth Wind And Fire’s Saturday Nite (up 6 to 36).
Two songs enter the top ten, two fall out. Dropping are Muskrat Love (7 to 15) and Nights Are Forever Without You (10 to 19).
Checking in on #1s this week in yesteryear, I saw a name come up over and over in the twenties- one Paul Whiteman. Paul “pops” Whiteman was the most popular bandleader of the 20’s, and by 1934 he had collected some 32 #1 songs. Whiteman was known as the “King of Jazz” by such experts on the subject as Duke Ellington. Jazz traditionalists, though, were put off by his eliminating of the impromptu aspect, carefully arranging every song. In 1926 he hired three up-and-coming vocalists he dubbed the Rhythm Boys- which gave his big break to a rhythm boy named Bing Crosby. Out of those 32 #1s, 6 of them were at #1 this week- 1920’s Whispering (an 11-week #1 with some 700 covers, including being the lead tune on the recent WATN featuree Whispering/Cherchez Le Femme/ Ci Ci Bon by Dr. Buzzard’s outfit) ; 1921’s Say It With Music (5 weeks at #1); 1922’s Three O’Clock In The Morning (8 weeks); 1924’s Somebody Loves Me (5 wks); 1926’s The Birth Of The Blues (4 wks); and 1929’s Great Day (2 weeks).
ELO gets into the top ten as Living Thing moves up one to #10. Brick comes in at 9, up 3, with Dazz. Elton John creeps up a spot to #8 with Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. Mr. Humperdink moves up a notch to #7 with After The Loving. The Bee Gees slip a notch to #6 with Love So Right; Burton Cummings flips spots with them at #5 with Stand Tall. The Spinners lose a spot with Rubberband Man sliding down to 4; Marilyn and Billy take that spot with You Don’t Have To Be A Star at #3. The world trembles as Rod Stewart finally steps down from the top spot, going to #2 with Tonight’s The Night.
Which leaves us the new #1, Leo Sayer’s You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.
This wonderful song that I love SO much was co-written by Vini Poncia, another of those all over the place types who produced the Peter Criss album when Kiss did their four solos. Criss brought him over for the next Kiss album, Dynasty, and Poncia fired Criss for substandard drumming. Criss was replaced by Anton Fig, and you might wonder why that name sounds familiar. Well, he’s the drummer for David Letterman’s house band, led by Paul Schaeffer. Before they moved to CBS with Dave, the ensemble was known as the World’s Most Dangerous Band, a tribute to one of Dave’s (and mine) childhood heroes- the late, great pro wrestler Dick “the Bruiser” Afflis.
And with that, we return to the humdrum life we left behind in 2011. Tune in Saturday for the seventies countdown.