It’s May 18th, 1970, and for once I can breathe a sigh of relief, as no major disasters happened on this date- unless you count the birth of Tina Fey.
Welcome to a Full Moon Time Machine, where a very tame group of teasers include a hot 100 with 101 songs- and why; the good and bad of Christian rock; and I find yet another of the world’s stupidest songs. Climb in, and let’s see what trouble we can get into…
Despite a whopping 17 hot 100 debuts, I’m only mentioning five of them- and one is just because of the timing. You see, a song called That Same Old Feeling hit the 100 this week by two very different artists. The higher debut was by the Fortunes, who did a very similar job on their much bigger hit Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again. The other was by a group called Pickettywitch. This was an English group fronted by a lady by the name of Polly Brown (or Browne, depending).
Pickettywitch came in at 88, and in Laurie’s and my humble opinion, was far superior. Check it out yourself here. Also debuting at 77 are the Pipkins featuring Tony Burrows (who is also in the count with Edison Lighthouse and White Plains) with Gimme Dat Ding; and Bobby Sherman at 62 with Hey Mr. Sun. Oh, and there is one more hot 100 debut- but it’s also a TOP 40 debut, so we’ll get to it later.
Oh, this would be a good time to thank everybody for their birthday wishes, because it makes a seamless segue into the birthday songs for this week. 1977, 35 years ago this week, these songs debuted: The Eagles’ Life In The Fast Lane (you know summer’s coming fast when…); Boston’s Peace Of Mind; ABBA’s Knowing Me Knowing You; Shaun Cassidy’s Da Doo Ron Ron; and Supertramp’s Give A Little Bit. Turning 40 this week are America’s I Need You and Day By Day from the Godspell cast. Turning 45 are Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes On You, Every Mother’s Son with Come On Down To My Boat, Spanky and Our Gang’s Sunday Will Never Be The Same, and the 5th Estate with Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead.
Oh, and one more- I saw this one on the bottom of the debut pile 55 years ago this week. I have previewed this, and the curiosity of the name is far superior to the song itself. It was called Ring Tang Ding Dong… subtitled I Am The Japanese Sandman. The Cellos, an all-black doo-wop group who I can find nothing further about. As for the song itself, it sounds much like you’d expect from late fifties African Americans trying to sound Japanese. Though it made- just barely- the top 60 on Cashbox, it peaked on Billboard at #62. As one of the commenters on Youtube said, “Racism never sounded so catchy.” (Of course, he probably never heard The Whistling Coon.)
Our big mover for the second straight week, and with a 16 notch jump for the second straight week, are The Chairmen Of The Board with (You’ve Got Me) Dangling On A String, landing at #54. The big dropper- again for the second straight week (doo DOO doo DOO… I know it’s not a full moon again yet), are the Supremes, falling 18 spots to 63 As opposed to 31 last week) with Up The Ladder To The Roof.
Our Where Are They Now at #50 this week is Baby Hold On by the Grass Roots. The Grass Roots were a series of bands picked out by producer P.F. Sloan and writer Steve Barri. This pair had penned such hits as A Must To Avoid for Herman’s Hermits and Johnny Rivers’ Secret Agent Man, and decided to create a band to play their songs. Rather than building one from scratch, they looked down the roster of bands that would fit their sound. It was the third such band, originally called 13th Floor, that became the nucleus for what we knew as the Grass Roots. This band was originally a four piece outfit. Creed Bratton was a guitarist/vocalist, and if the name sounds familiar to fans of NBC’s The Office, it’s because Creed Bratton, Quality Assurance Officer, was –and is- Creed Bratton the member of the Grass Roots. Yes the man on the show is basically playing himself. Drummer Rick Coonce was an on and off member the rest of the band’s history, and recently retired after 27 years working as a Child Protection Agent in Canada. Warren Entner, keyboardist best known for the “1, 2, 3, 4” countdown before the chorus on Live For Today, became a promoter for metal bands such as Quiet Riot and Rage Against The Machine. Vocalist/guitarist Rob Grill left the band in the early 80’s to go solo, opening for Fleetwood Mac on the Tusk tour, before returning to buy up the GR name and restarting the band along with later member Dennis Provisor. Grill put out a new line up nearly every year until a bad fall led to a coma from which he died in July of last year. He was preceded by five months by Coonce, who passed of heart failure in February. Sloan, who among his other credits was the Falsetto on Jan and Dean’s Little Old Lady From Pasadena, is still in production, while Barri became one of those dreaded A&R men; among his signings were Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods.
How about top 40 debuts now? El Chicano moves up 7 to 40 with Viva Tirada (basically “Go, Bullfighter”, I believe). The high debut in this week’s hot 100 comes in at #38- and how many of you guessed it might be the Beatles with The Long And Winding Road? Shooting up 14 to #37 are Melanie, backed by the Edwin Hawkins Singers with Lay Down (Candles In The Rain). Tony Burrows comes into the top 40 with White Plains and My Baby Loves Loving, up 6 to 36. Rising 11 to #35 is Neil Diamond with Soolaimon (An African Trilogy). And the high debut this week, up 7 to #34, Glen Campbell with his cover of Oh Happy Day, first done by the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Is it just me, or is it a small world today?
This week’s look back at the #1s of the past brought me to a song from 1916 called Hello, Hawaii, How Are You, by the Intriguingly named Prince’s Orchestra. No, not that Prince, he was –42 at the time. This band, which recorded under several variations of the name, was the child of Charles Adams Prince, an early band leader who specialized in their take on old standards. Among them were perhaps the first recording of St. Louis Blues, The Star Spangled Banner (#1, 1916), It’s A Long Long Way To Tipperary (#2, 1915), and Alexander’s Ragtime Band (#3, 1912). In fact, they come in #22 of all time on the MusicVF list of all time chart acts from the US of A and the UK since 1900. They racked up 78 top 40 hits, all but one in the top ten, and 3 #1s (the other one was Ballin’ The Jack in 1914, which was a dance step, oh dirty minds).
I hadn’t noticed MVF’s chart until last night, and found that many of our featurees on this segment are on the top 50, including Paul Whiteman (#3), Billy Murray (#9), Al Jolson (#12), and Rudy Vallee (#32). Not to say that more modern acts aren’t on the list, like Elvis (#2 to Bing Crosby), Madonna (#5), the Beatles (#11), Michael Jackson (#14), Elton John (#19), and the Stones (#20). I’ll be having some fun with this at a later date.
Three songs enter the top ten, three fall out- and for some full-moon reason, two of them drop to the same spot. Despite a complete numbering from 1 to 100, we had two droppers land, somehow, at #12- the former #4 Let It Be and the former #5 Something’s Burning. The third dropper is Love Or Let Me Be Lonely, from 8 to 14.
Holding at 10 is Bobbi Martin with For The Love Of Him. Leaping 7 to #9 is Ray Stevens with Everything Is Beautiful (except my typing right now. Thank God for backspace!) Up one spot to #8 is Marmalade with Reflections Of My Life. Up 5 spots to #7 is Simon And Garfunkel with Cecilia. And holding at 6 is, appropriately, our six degrees victim.
The Ides Of March, with Vehicle at #6 this week, were led by Jim Peterik, who most everyone by now knows went on to found Survivor (the band, not the show!). But what not everyone knew was that around the same time he was writing or co-writing most of the big hits by southern rockers .38 Special. That list included Rockin’ Into The Night, Hold On Loosely. Wild Eyed Southern Boys, Caught Up In You, and Fantasy Girl. Everyone also knows that the band was co-founded by Lynryrd Skynyrd sibling Donnie Van Zant. His major partner in this was lead singer Don Barnes, who left the band in 1989 to record a solo album. The album, Ride The Storm, sadly got shelved when the record company got sold. One of the session players on the lp was one Dann Huff, who had years before formed the Christian band White Heart with his brother David and vocalist Steve Green. The demo for their first lp bounced around a while before promoted by Christian Contemporary artist and producer Chris Christian. The album sold a quarter-million discs; but rock wasn’t Steve Green’s gig, as any of you familiar with this powerful singer knows. He went solo, and has racked up 13 #1 songs on the CC charts.
His replacement in the group was Scott Douglas- but three years later he was arrested- first for aggravated sexual battery, and later the charges were changed to statutory rape. According to Mathiesen (Scott’s real last name) and his wife, the encounters occurred with the full consent of two girls aged 11 and 13 who lived near him. He was also convicted of a third incident (which he claims never took place) as part of a plea bargain arrangement. None of these acts ever took place in connection with any White Heart activities, however. He was released in the mid-90’s, had to register as a violent sexual offender, and went home to try and rebuild his family.
"Scott fell due to pride," said his wife of nine years at the time. "In a way, he had never been humbled before the Lord. He grew up in the church, so he had never been saved out of a lot of 'bad stuff. He lived his Christian life by his own strength. He had a real problem with lust, and he remained very weak because he was fighting it on his own strength. That was the weak place where Satan could really attack. We could see the Holy Spirit really moving in concerts. A lot of power was beginning to come out, and that's when Satan began to attack on all fronts." Showing once again, the hard way- Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. (Story pieces published in Cross Rhythms, June 1st, 1991.)
Blasting its way up 8 spots to #5 are CCR with Up Around The Bend. Tyrone Davis climbs 3 to #4 with Turn Back The Hands Of Time. The Jackson Five hang on at #3 once again with ABC. And Norman Greenbaum slips from the pinnacle to #2 with Spirit In The Sky. All of which gives us a new number one song. May I present to you-
The Guess Who with American Woman!!!
For you all, it’s 9 AM Friday, but for me its 10 PM Thursday. So have a good tomorrow, and be back here Saturday for the eighties countdown!