But it’s still Time Machine, and we do have a new number one, no thanks to Billboard. We also have a mess of classics hitting birthdays; a mess of songs I didn’t know, but in your best interests reviewed; a old days superstar who couldn’t even get a good review from his own record label; a six degrees that features people like the Police, Randy Newman, Eric Burden, and Robin Gibb; and a Where Are They Now that features… Superman?
Great Caesar’s Ghost, let’s get on with this!
Eleven debuts enter the hot hundred this week- but sad to say I knew but one, the high debut at #69- recent WATN featuree Bobby Sherman and Julie Do Ya Love Me.
But a fine crop of birthday songs partially mitigate the low turnout on debuts. Crosby Stills and Nash’s Wasted On The Way turns 30 this week. Turning 35 is Bobby Sherman’s spiritual clone Shaun Cassidy with That’s Rock And Roll, along with Meco’s Star Wars Theme and Help Is On The Way by the Little River Band. Turning 40 are Chicago’s Saturday In The Park, Three Dog Night’s Black And White, and the epitome of serious musicianship, Chuck Berry’s My Ding-A-Ling.
|I'm not playing with HIS ding-a-ling...|
The Beatles turn 45 with All You Need Is Love, and turning 50 this week are Ray Charles’ You Don’t Know Me, Connie Francis’ V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, Tony Bennett’s I Left My Car In San Francisco (right next to the anti-porn screen in the library), Lawrence Welk’s Baby Elephant Walk, and Alley Cat by Bent Fabric, who was actually Danish pianist (believe this one or not) Bent Fabricius-Bjerre. Blow out the candles…
Our old timer spotlight moves into the roaring twenties this week with Ted Lewis and his Band. He started out as a musician, and not a particularly good one- even after he was a star for Victor, they put on their catalogue on one of their tunes, “The sounds as of a dog dying is the clarinet of Ted Lewis.” Nonetheless, he built a 20-year career as “Mr. Entertainment” that racked up 102 top 40s, 74 top tens, and six top dogs. His band’s musical style was described as “ a combination of jazz, hokey comedy, and schmaultzy sentimentality.” We listened to his two top hits, 1932’s In A Shanty In Old Shanty Town, and 1920’s When My Baby Smiles At Me. They combined solid musicianship with Lewis’ almost talk-your-way-through-the-song style for a pair of fun, warm performances. He, like so many others of the era, starred in various films, at least two of them titled after his famous catch phrase (and you were wondering where it came from), “Is everybody happy?” The first, in 1929, was kind of a biopic, with Ted starring as bandleader Ted Todd. The second, in 1943, was an actual biopic with Michael Duane playing Ted and lip-synching over his recordings.
He also ended up in an Abbot and Costello flick. A&C had just scored with their big hit Buck Privates, and were working on the next film, tentatively called Oh, Charlie. But initial screenings found everyone complaining because the Andrews Sisters, who starred in Buck Privates, were no where to be seen. So Oh Charlie got put on the back burner while they filmed You’re In The Army Now. Eventually they changed the sidebar concept of Oh Charlie to include them being waiters who inherit a night club, shot a new beginning and a new ending that involved a set by the Andrews Sisters backed by Ted’s Band, and thus Hold That Ghost (1941) was born. Ted continued performing, notably ending shows with a rendition of Me And My Shadow, up until his death in 1971.
The big mover this week (another one we reviewed) was a great little tune I didn’t remember from Junior Walker and the All-Stars called Do You See My Love (For You Grows), up 31 spots this week to #46. The big dropper was a real battle, with two songs (Rare Earth’s Get Ready and Mountain’s Mississippi Queen) dropping 41 spots- one less than The Long And Winding Road, which took a 42-notch plunge to #63.
Superman as the WATN feature? That’s the name of the song at fifty this week, recorded by the Ides Of March. (Another of the songs we sampled, kind of a knock off of Vehicle replacing “Great God in heaven” with “Great Caesar’s Ghost”.) The Ides had been a Chicago band of local repute until some lineup changes, bringing in a horn section and scoring big with top ten hit Vehicle. This lineup included Trumpeter John Larson, guitar and sometimes-vocal Ray Herr, Larry Millas, Mike Borch, Horn man Chuck Soumer, Bob Bergland, and Jim Peterik. Strains began to divide the band between the two singers, Herr and Peterik, until the break came just after Vehicle slid from the chart:
With an entertaining show such as this, the Ides knew that they were ready to take their show on the road. The itinerary included stops in both Florida and California, but the whole thing was almost aborted when Herr departed suddenly.
There are two versions to the story surrounding his departure. As Herr told me in 1970, “We were in Florida when I got my draft notice. I had to go back to Chicago to investigate my status with the draft board. The last thing on my mind was playing in a band. About a week later, I get a call from one of the guys saying that I’m kicked out of the band. I was pissed off!!”
Peterik tells it slightly differently. “Ray left us hanging in the middle of the tour. He just up and left without telling any of us. But, we found out that we could get by without him, so nobody ever really got back to him to say he was out for leaving; it was more or less assumed. There were a lot of hard feelings at this point, and it seemed like a better idea to let it pass.” This from the Forgotten Hits blog.
In 1990, the group I listed sans Herr (who changed his name to Ray Scott right after the split) were brought back together by their home town of Berwyn, IL, for a benefit, and Soumer led the way in making it a permanent thing. Peterik was also the leader of Survivor a writer for .38 Special (as we learned on an earlier six degrees) and went on to contribute to this summer’s Beach Boys lp, That’s Why God Made The Radio (and if you don’t have this yet, waddaya waiting for?) while being a part of the still performing band. Herr/Scott died last March (no, not on the 15th) and Larson passed in late September. Soumer retired from the band last year as well, but they are still alive and kicking.
Eight new top 40 tunes come in this week. Pickettywitch’s version of That Same Old Feeling comes in at 40, up one notch. The Assembled Multitude, a set of studio musicians who became the backing band for much of the Philly soul of the early 70s, come in at 39, up 9, with the Overture From The Rock Opera Tommy. Another of the songs we sampled and really liked was Kenny Rogers and the First Edition with Tell It All, Brother, up 9 to #38. One song that I did not sample, mainly because most of his songs make me want to pull my hair out after around 15 seconds, was James Brown’s Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine, leaping 20 to #37. One we did hear and thought okay was Tyrone Davis’ soulful I’ll Be Right Here, once again up 9 spots to 36. The Archies climb 8 to 34 with Sunshine. Last week’s Where Are They Now feature, the Who’s Summertime Blues, leaps from 50 to 33. And jumping 21 spots to #28 is Edwin Starr’s War.
|Sorry, dude, I can't spare the hair!|
Two songs join the top ten, two drop out. Falling are Lay Down (Candles In The Rain), from 5 to 12, and Gimme Dat Ding, from 7 to 11.
Hanging on for dear life, The Jacksons slip from 9 to 10 with The Love You Save.
Alive And Kicking kick their way up 3 spots to #9 with Tighter, Tighter.
Ride Captain Ride sails down 2 spots to #8 for Blues Image.
Leaping 8 big notches to #7 is Stevie Wonder with Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours).
Flip-flopping with Blues Image, The Five Stairsteps move from 8 to 6 with O-ooh Child.
Bread rises (get it?) from 10 to 5 with Make It With You. And that brings us to the six degrees for this week.
Three Dog Night drops from the top to #4 with Mama Told Me (Not To Come).The first #1 song on Casey Kasum’s American Top 40 on July 4th, 1970, It was a Randy Newman composition that was first recorded by the original Animals just before they dissolved in 1966. Set to be a single release in September, the release was cancelled after the breakup (it appeared on what amounted to a Eric Burden solo album later the next year). Burden went on to form a new Animals, and this was the bunch that hit with Monterrey, San Franciscan Nights, and Sky Pilot. By April of 1968 this group was fracturing as well. What was left, including a young Andy Summers later of the Police, recorded one last lp, called Love Is. This double lp included a 7-minute cover of the Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody, (Just picture Burden doing Robin Gibb. Yeah, it’s like that.) as well as Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire (Got a mental image of that last song? Yeah, it’s like that.).
Freda Payne moves up one to #3 with Band Of Gold.
Up one is the Billboard #1 song this week- the Carpenters and (They Want To Be) Close To You.
And this week’s top dog, moving up one……
The Temptations with Ball Of Confusion!!!
Okay, that’s it for this week! Don’t forget the eighties countdown on Saturday.