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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Time machine week 39

It's October 26, 1970.  Tomorrow, President Richard M. Nixon will sign the Controlled Substances Act, combining all the various anti-drug federal statutes into one omnibus law.  In an ironic aside, Black Sabath will also play their first American concert tomorrow, at Glassboro State College ( now Rowan) in New Jersey.

Welcome to this week's Time Machine.  In a twist, I'm going to do an inverted teaser this week.  So here are the answers we'll be questioning this episode:  the Jackson 5, Johnny Mercer, Yellow River by Christie, Al Capone's birthday party, still touring, 5, one, three, and 17.  Confused?  You won't be if you read on!

We have 11 hot 100 debuts this week, but how many are well known enough to rate a mention? (first question) The answer is, one. And that would be Elvis with his version of the Dusty Springfield hit You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.  So now we can slide right on into the birthday songs for this week.  And this is going to be a light one, as well.  How many birthday songs this week, Chris? (Second question) Well, the answer to that is, 5.

Turning 40 this week, we have Chicago with Dialogue parts 1 and 2, as well as King Harvest with Dancing In The Moonlight.  Turning 45 are Joe Tex's Skinny Legs And All, as well as Cher with You Better Sit Down, Kids.  And turning 55, Buddy Holly with Peggy Sue.  Blow out the candles...

Which already gets us to the big movers.  The fastest climber this week... is in the top 40, you'll just have to wait.  The biggest dropper is also one of my two almost but not quite tributes for the week.  Linda Ronstadt's Long Long Time, her breakthrough hit, falls from a peak of 26 down to 62, a 36-notch drop.  And while we're in the neighborhood, we'll say hello and goodbye to the other one as well:  the James Gang move up a pair to #60 with Funk # 49, but drop off the chart next week.

Which brings us to #50 and the third question- what Where Are They Now song could also be a How High Is It Now?  Answer, Yellow River by Christie, which finally makes a move, up 10 this week to #50 in its 17th week of meandering the lower reaches of the chart. (17 being the answer to question#4, how many weeks has it taken Yellow River to get to # 50?)  Christie was an English band formed around one Jeff Christie.  He was bassist, singer, songwriter, and bottle-washer for the band.  Originally joining him were guitarist Vic Elmes and drummer Mike Blackley.  Mike was the reason Yellow River became a hit; his brother-in-law was in the Tremeloes, and Jeff offered the song to them first.  They recorded the backing track and then changed their minds about recording it.  So they gave the backing track they'd recorded back to Jeff, and he used it on their version.  But while Mike was an excellent studio drummer, he struggled on tour, and was replaced by Paul Fenton, who would go on to do some studio work for T Rex.  Lem Lubin was added about this same time, but neither one stayed long, and by 1972 the original band had split up.  This after only having the one hit here and a follow-up, San Bernadino, which hit the top ten in England.

Jeff continued to field new line-ups into the mid seventies before becoming a solo act.  In the 90s, he re-formed the band with more new members, and was touring with them as late as 2009.  It was this group that entered the UK phase of the 1991 Eurovision song contest with a song called Nothing On This Earth, which placed 6th out of 8 in fan voting.  Elmes, who gained some fame by writing the guitar parts for the first-season Space:1999 TV theme, is also touring with a band called Christie Again.  Felton was contacted with other T Rex members by bongo player Mickey Finn to reform a new touring T Rex, and they are also still on the road (Thus, "still touring" is the answer to, "where are they now?").

Six songs enter the top 40 this week.  Tears Of A Clown leaps 15 spots to #40.  Bobby Bloom joins the party at 39, up 7, with Montego Bay.  At 38, up 3, is Englebert Humperdink with Sweetheart.  Wicked Wilson Pickett climbs 11 to #37 with Engine # 9.  Stevie Wonder hops from 53 to 36 with Heaven Help Us All.  And finally, at #34, and 18-notch climb, the big mover once again is the Partridge Family with I Think I Love You.  In fact, the next question- Just how many times has this song BEEN the big mover?- goes with the answer "3"- it was also the big mover the last two weeks!  Unless this feature ever goes to a top 200, I doubt this record will ever be broken.

Laurie:  Three weeks in a row is pretty impressive.
Keith:  Yeah, but I'm bummed.  Dave Edmunds looks more like Chris Martin than me.
This week's look backfeatures piano genius Fats Waller.  Fats, born Thomas Waller, was a jazz piano man and composer who's solo career spanned 1929 to 1942 (he died of pneumonia on tour in '43) and piled up 37 top tens and 6 #1s, including his biggest chart hit, 1937's It's A Sin To Tell A Lie.   However, he's probably best known for his composition Ain't Misbehavin'.  His recording was kinda buried by all the versions that came out that same year of 1929- Leo Reisman's Orchestra took it to #2, his good friend Louie Armstrong to #7, Gene Austin to #9, and Ruth Etting to #16- so he only charted it at #17.  Fifty-seven years later, Hank Williams, Jr., took it to #1 on the country charts.

But the neatest thing I learned about Fats was that one night in 1926, he was kidnapped by gangsters, hustled into a car, and driven to a speakeasy.  Once inside, he was brought to a piano and told at gunpoint  to play.  Turns out the answer to "Why was Fats Waller kidnapped" is that it was Al Capone's birthday party he had been "invited" to play at.  It is said he emerged three days later dead drunk, extremely tired, and thousands of dollars in tips richer.

"Just between us, it's good work if you can get it!"

Three songs enter the top ten, three fall out.  The droppers are Candida (3 to 15), (I Know I'm) Losing You (8 to 18), and Snowbird (10 to 26).

Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma!  They moved it from 11 to 10 for the New Seekers.

Three Dog Night holds at 9 with Out In The Country.

The Kinks dance up 6 to #8 with Lola.

James Taylor moves from 15 to 7 with Fire And Rain.

Sugarloaf moves from 7 to 6 with Green Eyed Lady.

R Dean Taylor sneaks up to 5, up one, with Indiana Wants Me.

Free also comes up one to 4 with All Right Now.

Which brings us to the six degrees contestant.

Cracklin' Rosie, which drops from the top spot to #3, was named for a wine popular with a Canadian first peoples ("native Americans") tribe.  A nickname for a sparkling rosé, the song Neil wrote after he heard about it was off his world-music lp Tap Root Manuscript.  This album contained one song not written by Neil- He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, which the Hollies had a big hit with.  This song was written by Bob Russell (who also penned the lyrics to the old standard Sentimental Journey) and Bobby Scott.  The pair were brought together (in Russell's last dying days) by a songwriter named Johnny Mercer (which is the answer to "How do we connect Neil Diamond to Andy Williams..." oops! Let the cat out of the bag).   Mercer was a composer of an estimated 1,500 songs from early standards such as Hooray For Hollywood, Jeepers Creepers, and Tangerine, to later crooner ballads such as Frank Sinatra's Summer Wind, as well as Days Of Wine And Roses and Moon River for... Andy Williams.

"You can't get away from me THAT easily..."
The Carpenters have built their stairway up to the #2 spot, up 2 with We've Only Just Begun.

And our final question... "Who's the top dog this week?"

The Jackson 5 with I'll Be There!!!!

Remember, check out the MHOF bar at the top and figure out some nominations for next week's show (because frankly, I haven't started to yet)!


  1. MDSAJFOIJUTRLJMGFLKMLK ..... SHARON..JOFIDJLMDSLF.... SHARON!!! That Ozzy show they aired for some time (a lifetime ago) cracked me up whenever he would come in and mummble around and yell Sharon! ha ha.

  2. CWM:
    Nice trip with Mercer and Waller...did not know that about FATS and CAPONE...very interesting.

    If you notice, many of the songs of more recent times seem to climb and fall a LOT more places than those of prior times.
    (a sign of impending ADHD with music?)

    Amazing stuff.

    Keep those hits coming up there.