On June 15, 1970, a group of brave Russian "refusniks" (mainly Jews whose requests to emigrate had been refused) walked cautiously towards their twin-engine plane at the Smolnoye airport near Lenningrad. These fifteen "wedding party" travelers included recently released dissident Eduard Kuznetsov and a former air force pilot named ( of all things) Mark Dymshits. They were planning to hijack the plane on liftoff and flee to Sweden. The MVD met them on the tarmac and arrested the lot. All were convicted, Kuznetsov and Dymshits sentenced to death. Fortunately for them, a hue and cry went up worldwide and they ended up getting 15 years. The others got anywhere from 15 to 4 years. The Kuznetsov-Dymshits affair was a springboard to further attempts, both at loosening Soviet emmigration policies and other attempts at hijackings. The moral of the story- do you really want to ride with a dym shit flying the plane?
Welcome to this week's Time Machine. This week, we'll have a new top dog, six degrees will once again show that all roads lead to the Beach Boys, we get a look at the baseball career of Otis Nixon (huh?), a top forty debut by a character from Tom Terrific (sorta), we celebrate a birthday with Suzy and the Red Stripes (?), and we revisit The Whistling Coon- and find out why that was just the tip of the iceberg. Put your tray in the upright position, secure your seat belt, pass the complimentary peanuts, and let's go!
12 songs debut in the hot 100, and we'll note 5 of them. Coming in at 98 is Ronnie Dyson with his one big hit, If You Let Me Make Love To You (Why Can't I Touch You?)- another entrant in the BJ Thomas School of absurdly long titles. At 89 is Bread with Make It With You. Coming in at 87 was the follow up to the top dog Venus by Shocking Blue, a tune called Long And Lonesome Road. The Carpenters make their first big mark on the charts, coming in at 81 with (They Long To Be) Close To You. And finally, at 67 is Mark Lindsay of the Raiders with Silver Bird (which later became a popular Yamaha motorcycle commercial theme).
Those songs turn 42 today. Now it's time for the other birthday songs this week. Turning 30 this week are Air Supply's Even The Nights Are Better, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Scorpions with No One Like You. Hitting 35 this week are James Taylor's cover of Sam Cooke's Handy Man, Stephen Bishop's On And On, and a tune called Seaside Woman by Suzy and the Red Stripes- who were actually Wings with Linda McCartney singing lead. Linda came up with the pseudonym from "a fantastic version of Suzy Q" done in Jamaica, and the Red Stripes were named after that nation's favorite beer. Turning 40 this week were Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again Naturally, and the Hollies' Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress). Turning 50 are Dee Dee Sharp's Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes) and Pat Boone's Speedy Gonzales, a popular tune at our work in our first years at K-Ville. Blow out the candles...
The holder of the grandpa chair this week is also our biggest dropper. Spirit In The Sky spends its 17th week on the chart at #70, a 29-notch drop. The big mover is in the top 40.
Candi Staton pulls into the #50 slot with Sweet Feeling, making her the Where Are They Now focus this week. Candi had her big secular hit in 1976 with Young Hearts Run Free; and as we learned during the Robin Gibb Wake, she hit #5 in the UK with a cover of the Bee Gees' Nights On Broadway. In 1982 she turned back to her gospel roots, setting up a music ministry with then-hubby #3 John Sussewell, the drummer for Ashford and Simpson. It wouldn't be until 2006 that she again did a secular lp (though she did guest shots on some other acts' projects), a disc called His Hands. Her marriage record was a real name dropper; her second husband was Clarenece Carter (Patches, Strokin'), who actually discovered her in the very late sixties. Her fourth is former major leaguer Otis Nixon, who was sixteen years in the big leagues, most notably with the Yankees and Braves, and totalled 620 stolen bases, 16th on the all-time list. She was inducted in the Christian Music Hall Of Fame in 2007 , and has had a show called New Direction on Trinity Broadcasting since 2006.
Just three top 40 debuts this week, but one is a real doozy. One Hit Wonders Crabby Appleton (named for a character in the Tom Terrific cartoon) climb 4 to land at 40 with a tune called Go Back. The Impressions finally hit the 40, moving 9 to 39 with Check Out Your Mind. And flying up 35 notches to #35, the 5 Stairsteps with Oo-oh Child.
Our look back in time to the singers of yesteryear takes us to someone we first met a few months back on the Time Machine Beauty Contest, Miss Ada Jones.Born in Lancashire, England, her family moved to Philly at the age of six (Yep, she's one of yours, Bobby G.). Active in the 1890s as a singer and vaudevillian, she began her singing career in ernest with a career of 1905- 1917 which netted 44 top tens and 3 #1s including one of her most popular hits, The Yama Yama Man, from the musical The Three Twins. Many of her songs had a slightly naughty bent to them, such as Please Come And Play In My Yard (#10, 1905), I Just Can't Make My Eyes Behave (#1, 1907), Wouldn't You Like To Have Me For A Sweetheart (#6, 1908), Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon (#4, 1910), and Is There Anything Else I Can Do For You (#9, 1910). But the song that caught my eye, and sold some three million copies of the sheet music for its writer, was a tune called If The Man In The Moon Was A Coon.
Yes, here we go again.
Ada's hit, which made it to #3 in 1907, was an even worse example of racism than The Whistling Coon we talked about a few weeks back. In fact, "coon songs" had been popular for several years. From 1880 to about 1920, coon songs were all the rage, with 600 examples being published in just the 1890's. After the African-American community responded to the song Every Race Has a Flag But The Coon became a hit in 1920, the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League designed a red, green, and black flag; the genre finally died off soon after.
Two songs enter the top ten; two drop out. Falling out are Cecilia (4 to 12) and American Woman (8 to 19).
Tom Jones holds at #10 for a second week with Daughter Of Darkness.
Blasting up 5 spot to #9 are the Jackson 5 with The Love You Save.
The Moments climb a notch to #8 with Love On A Two-Way Street.
Vanity Faire climbs into the ten at #7, up 4 with Hitchin' A Ride.
CCR slides back 3 to #6 with Up Around The Bend.
Joe Cocker is up another notch to #5 with The Letter.
Rare Earth shoots up 3 to #4 with Get Ready.
And that brings us to our six degrees victim- falling from #1 to #3, Ray Stevens with Everything Is Beautiful.
Incredibly, the first single Ray recorded was a cover of a song we talked about a couple weeks ago- the Cellos' Rang Tang Ding Dong (I Am The Japanese Sandman). His first hit that a sane person might listen to was Jeremiah Peabody's Quick-Dissolving, Fast-Acting, Pleasant-Tasting Green And Purple Pills, a song which holds second place in the category: longest title of all time. The leader in that class is the Stars On 45 Medley by Stars On 45. What, you say? How is that longer? It's eight words SHORTER!!??!! Well, amigos, the actual title of the Medley is Medley PLUS the names of ALL the songs IN the medley. I'm not going through them all...
The medley began when a man named Willem van Kooten, Managing Director of Red Bullet (music) Publishing, noted that at least one of the medleys that were floating around Dutch discotheques at the time had a song chunk that HE owned the rights to. He decided to do a legal version, based on almost all Beatles tunes. He hired three Beatles sound-alikes- Bas Muys as John, Hans Vermueulen as Paul, and Okkie Hugdens as George- and had their producer, one Jaap Eggermont stitch it all together. Now Jaap had spent 1961-70 as the original drummer for Golden Earring ( then the Golden Earrings). And that would mean that GE turned 50 last year, with essentially the same lineup SINCE 1970, a record that other long-lived bands like the Stones and the Beach Boys can't match. However, the Beach Boys are fifty this year, and a grouping as close to the original as you can get without resorting to raising the dead have come out with a new 50th anniversary lp called That's Why God Made The Radio. I'll be getting that as soon as finances permit.
Which leaves us but 2 candidates for the #1 spot. At #2 this week, climbing from #5 last time, the Poppy Family with Which Way You Going, Billy? And that leaves us the NEW # 1...
And that's it for this week's mayhem. Don't call Allstate, come back Saturday for the eighties countdown!