Today I'm doing (with reason) a little switch- leading off with the Almost But Not Quite feature. It's been a few weeks since we've had a eligible candidate here, and this week we have three. Chicago peaked at #11 ( but made the top ten on Billboard) and drops to 29 this week with Make Me Smile. This was their first major hit, but even this story makes a twist. You see, Beginnings had been released prior to this and failed to chart. Then comes Make Me Smile, with a b-side of Color My World. Color would come back as a top ten 2-sided hit in a year or two, with the a-side to that one being... Beginnings. Scratches head and moves on. Next up was Neil Diamond's African ode, Soolaimon, which peaked at 24 and now slips to 36. And finally we have the reason we're doing this in this order- Remember the Gentry's entry with Cinnamon Girl? You know, the band that included wrestler-come-composer Jimmy Hart? It peaked at 45, and drops to 55 this week.
So why does that rate first billing? Because the original by Neil Young and Crazy Horse comes in to the hot 100 this week at #97. Also entering this week are 12 other debuts, including Stevie Wonder's Signed Sealed Delivered (I'm Yours) at 79, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's Kent State tribute Ohio at 76, and BJ Thomas' I Just Can't Help Believing at 73.
Ya want more birthdays? Turning 35 we have the Emotions' Best Of My Love, and one of my all-time favorites, ELO's Telephone Line. Turning 40 were Jim Croce's You Don't Mess Around With Jim and Sailcat's Motorcycle Mama. Turning 45 were three classics- the Hollies' Carrie-Anne, Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit, and Procul Harem's Whiter Shade Of Pale, along with one of my favorites, the Tremoloes' cover of the Four Seasons' track Silence Is Golden. and finally, turning 50 like me is Ray Stevens' Ahab The Arab. Blow out the candles...
Next up is an unusual look-back-at-the-past feature. Cal Stewart had three #1s and 26 top tens from 1901-21 as a comedic storyteller. Born in 1856, he grew up in Vaudeville on the east coast and as a wit-and wisdom guy bridged the gap between Mark Twain and Will Rogers, both of whom he had met in his career. He developed the character of Uncle Joe Weatherby, a resident of Punkin Center in New England, and his friends and relations. Almost all of his recordings were featuring Uncle Joe, including the #1s Uncle Joe And The Huskin' Bee Dance (1901) and Uncle Joe On An Automobile (1903), as well as: Uncle Joe On A Trip To Boston; ... And The Insurance Company; and Uncle Joe's Troubles In A Hotel. A total of over 20 Uncle Joe records in all, including The Wedding Of Uncle Joe And Aunt Nancy Smith, which first hit #7 in '05 and updated hit #4 a couple years later. Several of the era's stars, especially ones we've already featured like Byron Harlan and Billy Murray, played parts on the Uncle Joe bits. His first wife played Aunt Nancy on some, and later Ada Jones (who we featured last week) took over the part. Unlike Ada, though, he generally avoided the "coon song", having recorded only one- the non-charting A Possum Supper At The Darktown Church, that was covered (also non-charting) by Harlan. He later married a younger lady named Rossini (her first name) who was from Tipton, Indiana, and there he moved towards the end of his career. He died of a brain tumor in December of 1919, and was buried in Tipton. He had two posthumous hits: Uncle Joe Takes The Census (#14, 1920) and Uncle Joe Buys A Victrola (#9, 1921). With all the characters he invented, you might call him the era's Red Skelton.
The big mover was Mark Lindsay's Silver Bird, climbing 23 spots to #43. And the big dropper... ah, the big dropper.
The song was called Friends, by a band called Feather. Towards the end of my search, I actually got to listen to it, and it was reminiscent of early Poco. It had peaked at 76, and drops 20 to #96 this week. And there the story might have ended, but I got stubborn because I could find virtually nothing on them. Then I stumbled upon the fact that they had been with White Whale records, which was the Turtles label. Flo and Eddie's bunch were the only names on the label, though.
Eventually I found a list of composers- Barry Collings, Steve Woodward, Roger White, Merel Brigante, and Larry Sims. I began to check each one individually. The first bite I got was on Brigante, a drummer. Brigante had been a part of the original Loggins and Messina band, along with Sims. He would go on to join the later iterations of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (after they shortened it to the Dirt Band and did An American Dream), and thus was the drummer on Steve Martin's King Tut- because the "Toot-Uncommons" were actually the Dirt Band. I was having little further luck until I actually found a picture of the band...
Oh, uhm, also dropping 20, to #32, is former top dog Cecilia.
Our Where Are They Now #50 this week is occupied by Marvin Gaye, who holds the spot with The End Of Our Road. This is the second time in 21 weeks that Marvin has sat here, and - being dead- has not accomplished much in the interim. So I scooted up to 49, wher we find Brook Benton with Don't It Make You Want To Go Home. He did this song with the Dixie Flyers, who we heard about (or heard little about) a few weeks back when they hit the 40 with Aretha Franklin on Spirit In The Dark. Two things leap out on this one. First, Benton, like Marvin, is sadly deceased, and has been since 1988. Second, the song was a cover of the original from the year before by Joe South And The Believers- which Laurie purchased the 45, after an exhaustive search, at Smoky's Record Shop. Not only have I also featured Joe on WATN, but the only thing I could find about the Believers was that their drummer was Joe's brother Tommy- whose suicide in 1971 would lead to Joe's self-imposed exile.
At the risk of yet another long story, we hit the top 40 debuts. Coming in at 40 is the song Are You Ready by Pacific Gas And Electric, climbing 15 spots. PG&E was another story unto itself. Guitarist Glen Schwartz had just come over from the James Gang, where he was replaced by a young lad named Joe Walsh. Joe Lala would join the band as a drummer later on- he was currently a founding member of top tenner Blues Image. Frank Cook was the original drummer for Canned Heat, but was replaced by them after they were busted in Denver for drug possession and before they hit it big with Going Up The Country. He mainly wanted to manage PG&E, but his involvement got ended by a motorcycle accident. PG&E also had a couple other claims to fame. One was the fact of their being a multiracial band led to a riot at one of their shows in Raleigh, NC; and they did the soundtrack to a movie called Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moone, starring Liza Minelli.
As if the stories aren't sticky enough already, moving from 41 to 37 is a former WATN featuree, Tommy James and the Shondells' Come To Me. And the high debut is Crosby Stills Nash and Young (again) with Teach Your Children, moving 10 to 33.
Three songs enter the top 10, three drop out. Falling are Up Around The Bend (6 to 24), Love On A 2-Way Street (8 to 22), and Daughter of Darkness (10 to 12).
Blasting its way into the top ten from 26 to 10 are Three Dog Night with Mama Told Me (Not To Come).
Just ahead of them, Joe Lala and Blues Image leap from 17 to 9 with Ride Captain Ride.
Former top dog, Ray Stevens' Everything Is Beautiful, drops from 3 to 8.
Melanie and the Edwin Hawkins Singers climb from 13 to 7 with Lay Down (Candles In The Rain).
Vanity Faire moves up a notch to 6 with Hitchin' A Ride.
Joe Cocker holds at 5 with The Letter.
The Jackson 5 move 5 spots to #4 with The Love You Save.
Rare Earth pounds up a notch to 3 with Get Ready.
Susan Jacks and the Poppy Family remain at #2 with Which Way You Going Billy?
|Another contestant for next year's Time Machine Beauty Contest.|
Annnnd, at Numero Uno for the second week, the Beatles and The Long And Winding Road!
That's it for this ride. Tune in Saturday for the eighties countdown!