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


Friday, December 14, 2012

Time Machine week 46

It's December 14th, 1970.  At first, my bleary brain thought it was November 14th, and I began to do a story about the plane crash that took the lives of the Marshall University football team.  Then I looked at the dial on the wayback machine, and learned it wasn't going to be so easy.  On December 14th, the biggest news was a strike by Polish dockworkers in a handful of Baltic coast cities (of course including Gdansk) when the government then in charge decided to raise the artificially low food prices in order to stimulate the moribund agricultural sector of the economy.  But when you give somebody a cheap deal for so long, and try to take it away, they get pissed off.  (Just wait until someone decides to eliminate Welfare!)  Protests broke out, the army was called in, and a new military government took charge.  But the food price increases were not rescinded- until female textile workers in Lodz went on the warpath in February.  Speculation was that it was just an attempt- and a successful one- to force Władysław Gomułka out of power.

You want us to pay WHAT for kielbasa? Pocałuj mnie w dupę!!

Welcome to Time Machine, as we enter the last three weeks of 1970.  This week,The song that sent Phil Spector around the bend debuts in the top 40, how Frank Sinatra almost became Frankie Satin, the greatest band that ever came out of Winnepeg- Brother (?), and a new top dog. Bonus points if you translate or guess the Polish phrase without using a translater. Climb aboard, as we set sail for DECEMBER of 1970...

Once again, Tom Jones is going to scoff at my music expertise (even though I DID recognize both his and Neil Diamond's songs from last week once I played them) because we have 16 debuts in the hot 100, and I recognize just one- The Carpenters' holiday classic Merry Christmas, Darling, at #75.  And this time of year must not be a good time to release new songs, because the birthday list is a bit light as well.  Turning 30 is a song you might not remember, but I do- Linda Ronstadt's cover of a Joe South song that Billy Joe Royal took to the top 15 in 1965, called I Knew You When. Turning 35 are Jay Ferguson's Thunder Island and Little River Band ( haven't they been in the birthdays a lot lately?) with Happy Anniversary.  Turning 45 is the Lettermen medly Going Out Of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off You and Eric Burden and the Animals with Monterrey.  Rick Nelson's It's Up To You turns 50, and 55 years ago this week, Bobby Helms first charted with Jingle Bell Rock.  Blow out the candles...

The fastest climber on the chart we'll see in the top 40; the big dropper is The First Edition's Heed The Call, which drops 28 spots to 53.  And just like that, we're at #50 and our Where Are They Now feature.

Last week, Minneapolis blues-rock group Crow hit the top 40 with Don't Lay No Boogie On The King Of Rock'n'Roll.  Locally they were known as South 40 until they went national in 1969.  After a strong first album, they began to struggle, and a battle to move to another label disenchanted the group.  Leader and singer Dave Wagner left in 1971, only to do a solo lp for the same label in 1972, called d/b/a Crow.  The band split up the next year, but Wagner built a new Crow with all-new members in 1980.  This group also disbanded after a couple of years, but in 1988 virtually the original band reformed- Wagner, Larry Weigand and "Kink" Middlemist from the first Crow, Jeff Christensen from the 1980-82 version, and Norm Steffan.  This band is still on tour, mainly doing the stuff from the successful 1969-70 albums.

That brings us to our 6 new top 40s this week.  At 40, Perry Como moves up 8 with the 126th of his 127 top 40s, It's Impossible.  Clarence Carter moves 3 to 39 with It's All In Your Mind.  Moving from 47 to 36 is a song with a curious history.  River Deep-Mountain Wide was first recorded by "Ike and Tina Turner" in 1966- the quotes are because it was all Tina-  Ike was paid $20,000 by producer Phil Spector to stay away from the studio.  Spector was trying to craft a masterpiece; Tina said, "I must have sang that song 500,000 times", before Phil was happy.  Unfortunately, he wasn't happy for long, as the single crapped out at #88.  Despite a vastly better showing in the UK (#3), Phil- who was a bit eccentric anyway- really tipped over a bit, becoming a recluse and leading wife Ronnie to divorce him.

I am NOT a nut!!! Could a nut grow hair like this?

From there, a host of artists coverd it- Harry Nilsson, Eric Burden and the Animals, and even the Easybeats (Friday On My Mind)- but the only one to chart was Deep Purple, who made it to #53.  Until this week, when the "duet" by the Supremes and the Four Tops enters the 40 at 36.

Elton John jumps 12 to #34 with Your Song; our big mover of the week, climbing 20 spots to #33, is Led Zep's Immigrant Song.  And the high debut is Van Morrison's Domino, climbing from 44 to 29.

Our lookback feature brings us to Harry James and his Music Makers.  Harry was born into a circus family- and almost died there, as his mother's horse nearly trampled him when he was 6.  He paid his dues in the bands of Ben Pollack and Benny Goodman before striking out on his own in 1938.  From there, he collected 54 top 40 hits until 1953, including 29 top tens and 6 top dogs.  He was a sight-reader, meaning he could read a sheet of music and play without having seen or heard it before.  A common joke was that if a fly landed on his written music, Harry James would play it. His big year was 1942, when he scored 13 hits, eight of them top tens, including the #1s I Had The Craziest Dream and Sleepy Lagoon.  His biggest hit was the next year's I've Heard That Song Before.

His career included being the first "name" band to hire Frank Sinatra- although he tried to get the Chairman of the Board to change his name to "Frankie Satin".  In 1943, he made Betty Grable his second wife, and in 1950 he was the sound behind Kirk Douglas's "playing" in the movie Young Man With A Horn. He died of cancer a few days after his last performance with the band in 1983- 40 years to the day after marrying Betty Grable.  The Band continues on, currently led by Fred Radke.

Harry and Betty...

And the almost but not quite we've all been waiting for- Yellow River slips from 16 to 23 in its 24th week.

Three songs do a rocket job into the top ten this week, so three make like a North Korean long range rocket and fall.  You Don't Have To Say You Love Me drops from 10 to 16, See Me, Feel Me from 8 to 19, and Montego Bay from 6 to 14.

Okay, maybe not THAT bad...

The Jackson Five drop from 4 to 10 with I'll Be There.

Heaven Help Us All holds at 9 for Stevie Wonder.

Rocket number one is Badfinger's No Matter What, up from 22 to 8.

The Presidents remain at 7 with 5-10-15-20(25-30 Years Of Love).

And that brings us to what tried to be a six degrees feature.

The Guess Who drop a notch to #6 with Share The Land, which was also the name of the album.  This lp was prominently featured on their first greatest hits collection, and included the songs Hand Me Down World and Bus Rider- songs that came to the Guess Who from the band Brother.  This trio-Kurt Winter, Bill Wallace, and Vance Schmidt- were together less than six months, but Burton Cummings called them the best band to ever come out of Winnipeg.  Unfortunately, they never recorded, because before they got a record deal, Randy Bachman left the Guess Who, and Winter replaced him.  He brought several Brother songs with him in addition to the two mentioned above, including the top 40 hit Rain Dance and Running Back To Saskatoon.  When Jim Kale later left, Wallace followed Winter into the band.  Cummings said of Schmidt, "If Vance has ever forgiven me, he’s a bigger man than I think I could have been."

Also in the group at that time was drummer Gary Peterson, who eventually would end up with Randy's Bachman Turner Overdrive- but that was kind of a mess as well.  Randy had left the band, keeping the Bachman name, but selling the remaining members- including his brother Robbie- the BTO name and the gear logo.  When he re-formed the band- with Peterson now a member- Robbie walked out over royalty issues, and he and fellow BTOer Blair Thornton sued them over the BTO name and logo and won.  This version also included brother Tim Bachman, who'd been fired from the original band in 1974 for "not being BTO caliber".

BTO- Brothers on The Outs?
Rocket number two is the Fifth Dimension with One Less Bell To Answer, jumping from 13 to 5.

Brian Hyland slips a notch to 4 with Gypsy Woman.

George Harrison lights rocket #3 with My Sweet Lord going from 11 to 3.

The Partridge Family move down a notch to #2 with I Think I Love You. 

And that means that the new top dog this week is...

Smokey and the Miracles with Tears Of A Clown!

Tune in next week, when I'll have a better handle on what month it is (hopefully)! Oh, BTW, the Polish phrase, according to google translate, is the not-surprising....

1 comment:

  1. CWM:
    Having known a few Poles in my day (maypoles and flagpoles excluded), when I saw the word "dupe", I had a hunch...and I was right...LOL.
    (some things you NEVER forget)

    That's a really involved six-degrees...never even HEARD of a band called "Brother".
    Pretty cool tie-in w/The Guess Who and the BTO connection.
    (love both of THOSE bands)

    My Dad really liked Harry James a LOT (we had a few LPs in stereophonic sound) and he often said that Sinatra's "style" was heavily influenced by James' trombone playing.
    When you listen to Frank's EARLY works, you can hear it loud and clear.

    Am I really OLDER than Jingle Bell Rock?

    Fantastic ride this week.
    (Tell Mr. Peabody...he NAILED it!)

    Have a great weekend and stay safe up there in Scrappy-Hollow.