April 12th, 1971, dawns. Stevie Wonder's lp Where I'm Coming From, his testimony to Berry Gordy about what he'll do once he is no longer stifled, is released today. Other than that, Shannen Doherty was born today...
Welcome to this week's Time Machine, and despite the paucity of subject matter in the lead in, we have a pretty good show for you today. Oh, and not much of a where are they now, either. But I have a mess of birthday songs, a top 40 debut that meshes pina coladas and cannibalism (sort of), a lookback on somebody you've actually heard of, the Partridge Family hit that almost wasn't, and a video for your perusal (wow, that's two weeks running!). Follow along as Tilting At Windmills begins its second millennium!
This week in 1971, 9 songs hit the hot 100 for the first time. One of them, at 78, is the Honey Cone with Want Ads. The other, at 91, is this little gem:
Ah, the Guess Who. So, on we go to this week's birthday songs. Turning thirty this week, two of my favorites- Men At Work's Overkill, and the Tubes' She's A Beauty- along with Lionel Ritchie's My Love (which will be ironic in a couple of lines). Lighting 35 candles are Andy Gibb's Shadow Dancing, Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street, Carly Simon (who'll also come up again) with the Michael McDonald comp You Belong To Me, and one of the best summer songs of all time, Heatwave's The Grooveline. Turning 40 is another tune called My Love- a far superior record by Paul McCartney and Wings- along with Dr. John and Right Place, Wrong Time. Coming in at 45 years old this week, Dionne Warwick's Do You Know The Way To San Jose and Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing by Tammi Terrell and her partner (who'll be coming up later), Marvin Gaye. Finally, turning 55 is David Seville (of Alvin and the Chipmunks fame) with his first novelty hit, Witch Doctor. Blow out the candles...
Our big mover upwards this week will become the second (and last) top 40 hit for Brenda and the Tabulations- Right On The Tip Of My Tongue, rising 23 spots to #64. The big dropper was recent top dog One Bad Apple, falling 24 to #46.
The late Perry Como, who recently got a lookback feature, pulled into the magic Where Are They Now spot this week with I Think Of You, so no WATN this week. In its place we have... wait, we already did Shannen Doherty's birthday. Guess we're out of luck this week!
Oh, I know, I'll move the lookback feature here. This week in the year 1959, the biggest mover in the top 40 went from 90 all the way to 38, on it's way to petering out at 16. It was called Take A Message To Mary, and was sung by the Everly Brothers. Now believe me, growing up around my mom, there were three acts you had to like- Andy Williams, Ricky Nelson, and Phil and Don. As young singer-songwriters they were more or less discovered by family friend (theirs, not ours) Chet Atkins, who in the fullness of time got them introduced to manager Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose publishing and Archie Bleyer of Cadence Records. Archie liked their writing, and threw in a recording deal to get them. The first single for Cadence was Bye Bye Love, and they never looked back. That song, believe it or not, had been rejected by 30 different acts- including Elvis Presley. Their success grew, and they toured with Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Phil was one of Buddy's pall bearers the day the music was buried; Don, inconsolable, didn't even venture out to the funeral.
The brothers switched from Cadence to Warner Brothers in 1960, christening their new partnership with Cathy's Clown. By 1962, they had raked in $35 million in record sales- but then it went south. They had a "falling out" with Wesley Rose, and as a result lost the writing talents of those responsible for most of their hits (who were under contract to Acuff-Rose)- including themselves. By the time things got settled, they'd lost the public's ear. They broke up in 1973- and reportedly spoke to each other only once in the next decade, and that at their father's funeral. They got back together in 1983, and though their last studio lp was in 1989, they still perform together- sometimes with Don's son Edan, and sometimes just Don and Edan.
We have an unusual story leading off our look at the top 40 debuts. Up ten to #39 are a group called the Buoys, with a song called Timothy. Now they were being promoted to Scepter Records by Ruppert Holmes, he of later Pina Colada fame. The best deal he could work was a one-single deal- but Scepter wasn't going to promote it. Now Ruppert had an idea that had seemed to work well in the 60's- get the song banned on radio, so the kids would buy it. So what he did was write a song about three miners trapped in a cave in, and how two of them ate the other one to survive. The tune was catchy enough that it began to play on the radio, and as it got more requests, DJs and radio stations- and Scepter Records- figured out what it was about (as it wasn't expressly mentioned that it was cannibalism- "My stomach was full as it could be/And nobody ever got around to finding Timothy"). Scepter, sweating out a major backlash, told radio execs that Timothy was a mule, but Holmes would have none of that. Long story short, it made the top 20, but the notoriety pretty much made the Buoys a one-hit wonder.
ALLLLLso debuting this week: The WATN from a couple weeks ago, Smoky and the Miracles' I Don't Blame You At All (presumably not sung to the other two guys in the mine), climbs 9 to #38; The Fuzz, a female trio led by one Sheila Young, climb 7 to #37 with I Love You For All Seasons; in fact, the next two also go up 7 notches, with Ray Charles at 36 with Don't Change On Me and Dawn's I Play And Sing at 35. But our highest debut, up 19 spots to #29, belongs to Bread with If.
Hmm... I guess that brings us to the "two songs enter the top ten, two fall out" stage. Those droppers are For All We Know (7 to 16) and Oye Como Va (10 to 14).
Janis Joplin's posthumous hit Me And Bobby McGee tumbles 6 to #10 this week.
A Pair of Beatles move up one each into the next to slots. The first is Paul with Another Day at 8.
The second is George at #7 with What Is Life.
Ike and Tina slip a spot to #6 with Proud Mary.
Leapfrogging (so to speak) 13 spots to #5, Three Dog Night with Joy To The World.
And next up, our six degrees victim.
Falling from top dog to #4 this week, the Partridge Family's Doesn't Somebody Want To Be Wanted almost never got recorded. David Cassidy hated the song (especially the spoken word part- which, while I love the song, agree with him on that), and refused to do it. Taping of the show had to be stopped while execs both from the record company and Screen Gems pleaded with him. He finally relented, though begging them not to release it. Anyway, to the six degrees part: one of the co-writers was Wes Farrell, among whose credits were a pair of songs on the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack. These two were performed by a band called Elephant's Memory, which as you might recall from another six degrees were John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band for a time. One of the members of this Greenwich Village group's members ( for six months) was a lady vocalist named Carly Simon (see, I told you she'd be back! Now where's Marvin...?). After this stint she came out with her self titled debut, which contained That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be (AKA mom and dad have a loveless marriage, so I'll just live with them while avoiding marriage myself.). This was on of a couple of songs every album that she co-wrote with a friend named Jacob Brackman. Who? Well, he was a Harvard graduate, hired by Newsweek as a reporter (for six months, again), then moving on to the New Yorker, then becoming a film critic for Esquire, where he was gainfully employed when he met Carly in 1968 when they were both Camp Counselors at a campground in the Berkshires. He also lent a hand with other hits like Haven't Got Time For The Pain, in addition to having a hand in some fairly successful musicals.
This week, it's two and three trading spots, with one former top dog- Tom Jones' She's A Lady- slipping to 3, and another- the Temptations' Just My Imagination- climbing again this week for the second in a row after its tumble from the top, coming in at 2.
Which means the new # 1 this week is....
That's 1,001 in the books- 152 of them weekly Time Machine posts! So I guess see you in 48 weeks for another big milestone- or next week for more mundane fun.