Welcome to a very special episode of Time Machine (actually not all that special, but I do have a special treat), the lid lifter on the 1977 season! This week, we have singing dogs in the birthdays and singing chickens in the movers and droppers; a #1s of yesteryear featuring a “I didn’t know he could sing” act; the connection that leads from a somber Elton John to the wild and wacky antics of Aerosmith; a new butt in the grandpa chair (or two); Two songs race for the top at blinding speed; and more positive proof that nobody wants to share a birthday with Jesus.
But first, let me introduce the New Years special. I got to thinking (since this week’s NEW #1 manages it), how many songs led off the new year with their first week at #1? Truth is, half of the #1 songs from 1950 to 1977 (28 years, leave yer shoes on) managed the feat. So I ranked them according to weeks at #1, and with a little personal editing, came up with the top ten (or so) songs that christened the new year with their first week at #1!. To lead things off, here is the eighth place tie on the list:
#8 (tie)- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Jimmy Boyd, 1953. The oldest of the lot. Man, you give a guy milk and cookies…
(tie)- Wonderland By Night, Bert Kaempfert Orchestra, 1961. A recent member of the Great Sixties Countdown, a wonderful trumpet solo that was one o’ me mama’s favorites.
(tie)- There I’ve Said It Again, Bobby Vinton, 1964. Another of mom’s faves, from her all time best guy.
(tie)- Got To Be There, Michael Jackson, 1972. Young Michael really gets a chance to shine here.
(tie)- Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), Helen Reddy, 1974. A recent member of the seventies countdown.
(tie)- Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Elton John, 1975. Sure don’t hear this as much as the Beatles’ original, do you?
(tie)- I Write The Songs, Barry Manilow, 1976. And that’s the start of this countdown.
And on to the start of this week’s countdown. Nobody wants their birthday next to Christmas- you usually get combined presents. And so too songs, apparently. 4 songs hit the hot 100 this week, and only one of them noteworthy- a song that will spend all of the second month of 1977 at #1 on my own top ten list that I would start in a couple weeks- 10cc with The Things We Do For Love, coming in at 82. It was a little busier for those turning 40 this week- Rod Stewart and the Faces with Stay With Me; Apollo 100’s Joy; Joe Cocker’s Feelin’ Alright; and an act with a similar vocal style to Joe (boy, am I gonna get it for that one!), the debut of the Singing Dogs’ version of Jingle Bells. Turning 45 is Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles and Gimme Some Lovin’ by Spencer Davis’ Group. And two 50th birthdays, one famous, one just for Laurie. Gene Chandler’s Duke Of Earl turns 50, as does Jimmy Dean’s spoken word-letter to Russia, Dear Ivan. Blow out the candles…
#6 (tie)- REDACTED- you’ll just have to wait till we hit #1 this week.
#6(tie)- You’re So Vain, Carly Simon, 1973, two weeks at #1. You probably thought this countdown’s about you..
The big dropper this week was the Little River Band’s It’s A Long Way There, falling 40 to just catch hold at 98. The big mover was the Henhouse Five Plus Too with In The Mood, clucking it's way to a 15-spot climb to 79.
This week, we had another repeater at #49, but that’s okay. Because, since I picked 49 because of my age, so let’s just move the magic number to 50. Here we find Al Stewart’s Year Of The Cat.
Cat was the first of 5 chart hits for Al, but not the end of his story. Noted for his Historical songs (and if you haven’t youtubed Palace Of Versailles yet like I told you WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???), he has released 7 studio lps and 23 live discs since Midnight Rocks in the early 80’s. The most recent of the studio records is 2008’s Sparks Of An Ancient Fire (which has been on my Amazon wish list for two years now), and he recently sang a duet with Albert Hammond on his re-recording of It Never Rains In Southern California on Albert’s 2010 Legend lp. Apparently he’s a bit chincy on bio data, all I could find was he married in the mid nineties and the couple and their 2 daughters live in Marin County, California.
#4 (tie)- Why, Frankie Avalon, 1960, 3 weeks at #1. I’m guessing he sang this to Annette.
#4(tie)- I Feel Fine, The Beatles, 1965, 3 weeks. One of two on the list for the Fab Foursome.
Three songs enter the top 40. At 38, up 7, are the ever-rowdy boys of Foghat with Drivin’ Wheel. At 35, up nine, is Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band with Night Moves. “Started hummin’ a song from 1962… ain’t it funny how the night moves… when you just don’t seem to have as much to lose… strange how the night moves… with Autumn closin’ in…” AHEM. Moving up 8 to #34 this week, the song that will spend the first month of 1977 at #1 on the newly minted Martin top ten, Barry Manilow’s Weekend In New England.
Looking into the #1s in yesteryear this week, I saw someone I never knew sang- Fred Astaire. Fred would probably have said, “That’s because I can’t,” from what I’ve read, but he did have a #1 song on this week twice. The first was 1932’s Night And Day. A Cole Porter tune (referenced in Little River Band’s Reminiscing- “and that Porter tune [Night and day…] Made us dance across the room…”), it was in the stage and screen versions of The Gay Divorcee, which marked his first performance without sister Adele and first with Ginger Rodgers. The second was the non-vocal Nice Work If You Can Get It, in which he danced and played the drums(including with his feet), backed by the Leo Reisman Orchestra, from the movie A Damsel In Distress in 1937. While I won’t say his voice was exactly enchanting, watching him dance to those songs was absolutely amazing. In a day where “that dude can dance” is multi-reality-show cheap, that dude, when dancing MEANT something, could DANCE.
#2 (tie)- We Can Work It Out, The Beatles, 1966, 4 weeks at #1. Can’t say that either of the Beatles’ tunes are among my favorites, but even a bad Beatles song is usually pretty good.
#2 (tie)- The Twist, Chubby Checker, 1962, 4 weeks. Come on, baby…
Three songs go into the top ten, three go out. Living Thing falls from 10 to 12; Rubberband Man snaps back from 4 to 13; and Love So Right drops from 6 to 18.
Oh, and before I forget, She’s Gone is gone, and the new tenants of the grandpa chair, at 21 weeks apiece, are Firefall’s You Are The Woman (currently at 32) and Steve Miller’s former top dog Rock’n Me (at 43).
Debuting at #10, up one, are the Sylvers with Hot Line. Standing not-so-tall this week is Burton Cummings with Stand Tall dropping 4 to #9. That song that you love to listen to the Chik-fil-a cows dance to, Brick’s Dazz, climbs one to #8. And that brings us to six degrees with Elton John.
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word was from the double lp Blue Moves, a more somber record for Sir Elton. Among the acts to pitch in here were a pair of brother horn players- Sax playing Michael and trumpeteer Randy Breckler. The Breckler boys had been around a while at this point. Randy was a founding member of Blood Sweat And Tears on the classic debut lp Child Is Father To The Man. Both had been on a ton of jazz projects, their own bands Dream and Breckler Brothers, as well as rock and roll offerings such as Blue Oyster Cult’s Agents Of Fortune. They also were both featured on the AOR hits by Aerosmith, Same Old Story and Train Kept A’Rolling. Both these were on their Get Your Wings lp, which gave them their first top 40 hit with Sweet Emotion. They then released Same Old Story, which failed to chart, so they reached back in the back of tricks to re-release Dream On, which was on their debut album and flamed out at #59 in ‘73. Let loose again in 1976, it hit #6, so they tried the trick again. Walk This Way was off the Toys In The Attic album, and did not chart the first time. They re-released it a few weeks back, Time Machine time, and this time it is at #15 on this week’s list.
Mr. Humperdink moves a notch up to #6 with After The Loving. Now comes the two songs bent on making a mockery of proper procedure. Stevie Wonder blasts his way up 9 to #5 with I Wish; Rose Royce does likewise to #4 with Car Wash (a song also currently doing the commercial circuit). Rod Stewart continues to hang around, Tonight’s The Night slipping but one to #3. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing also slips to #2. That leaves me with the New #1, and the redacted-tied for #6 song in our special countdown…
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis with You Don’t Have To Be A Star!!!!
And now, We here at TM are proud to present the top of our special countdown… drum roll please….
#1- At The Hop, Danny And The Juniors, 1958, 5 weeks at #1!!!!
Feel free to add the harmony chorus here, my friends. See you New Years Eve for the seventies countdown, and then right back here in 2012… or 1977, if you prefer.