I bring this up because our target date, May 24th, 1971, was the day that a commuter bus carrying 43 people took a wrong turn at the Panama Canal and plunged in- literally. 38 people died in the latest event of bus disasters. Just two weeks before 30 people died as a bus plunged off a cliff in South Korea, and the same day another 30 died when two Mexican buses hit head on, with another 30 injuries. It also wasn't a good day in Mexico for weather- cat 2 Hurricane Agatha did what most Pacific Hurricanes don't and slammed into the Mexican coast near Playa Azul. Half the village was blown away, and the area lost a lot of crops- 15% of the year's coconut crop, 60% of mangos, and all their bananas.
Before I go to the crass level of spotlighting the song Yes, We Have No Bananas, let me say hello, and welcome to this week's Time Machine. This week, six degrees takes us from the ocean to the highway; the fabulous introduction to our really big stage of Dr. Jeckell and the Hydes (who?); a where are they now that doesn't even exist; and Bill Haley and his Comets on the lookback! Plus, a birthday year that I really wish we could go back to, with 6 songs that include two Billboard #1s and three from my own chart from back in the day. So lets go, summer's coming and the time is right...
The hot 100 debuts (which I forgot to count) were an odd mishmash that included one song I knew well- Joe Walsh and the James Gang with Walk Away at 97. But there were some other somewhat worth noting items I found. The high debut at 52 is Tom Jones with Puppet Man; at 93, a team-up we've mentioned before- Shaun "Stoney" Murphy and our boy Meat Loaf with their single What You See Is What You Get (which is not the same as a soon-to-be-charting single of similar name by the Dramatics). At 96 we find Mozart's Symphony Number 40 in G Minor K.550, 1st Movement (no lie) by a gentleman named Waldo de los Rios. Waldo was known for "poppifying" classical music. This particular tune is coming of a European engagement where it hit #1 in Holland and top ten in several other nations. The Argentine born arranger is also known to us for another reason. Remember a few short months ago when Miguel Rios had his top ten hit with Beethoven's Ode To Joy? Waldo arranged and conducted that performance. Sadly, he was a man plagued by depression who committed suicide 6 years later at the young age of 43.
Our birthday songs are now becoming the songs that will be the songs of summer- one of the years we check in particular. Turning 30, we have the Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This, Billy Idol's White Wedding, the Human League's (Keep Feeling) Fascination, and Dave Edmunds with Slipping Away, a rather odd mixture of his vocals and Jeff Lynne's production and backing talents so that it is rather reminiscent of a Travelling Willburys outtake. Turning thirty-five is one of the best six-song birthday groups we ever had. The Rolling Stones' Miss You, which hit #1 nationally and on my old chart (as well as being a common karaoke pick for me); Frankie Valli's Grease theme (also a BB #1); Toby Beau's big hit My Angel Baby (#1 on mine); Jefferson Starship's Runaway (which I think just missed my #1); Evelyn "Champagne" King with Shame ( I believe top 5 in both); and Pablo Cruise's Love Will Find A Way (big #1 on mine).
At the 40 year mark we have Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water. Turning 45, we have the Cowsills with Indian Lake (which was a scene Laurie and I did make, sans little one- at least the one in Ohio), along with Tiny Tim's timeless classic Tip-Toe Through The Tulips.
|Right there! That's Indian Lake!|
Say, 45- that reminds me of our 45 at 45 feature, and this week in 1968 the #45 song came from the 1910 Fruitgum Company- called May I Take A Giant Step (Into Your Heart). The band's founder was one Frank Jeckell, and thus their original name was Dr. Jeckell and the Hydes, which neither fit the music nor the target audience. Riding the bubble gum wave, they hit top five three times: Simon Says; 1-2-3 Red Light; and Indian Giver. This one peaked at 63 on BB, and 45 was its top on Cashbox. They are still out there touring today...
...even if they're a little the worse for wear. Aren't we all!
Our big mover was Carole King with It's Too Late, jumping 25 spots to #59; we have a tie for biggest dropper. One of them just got the almost but not quite shoutout last week- the Buoys with Timothy, dropping 28 to #41. The other, after peaking at a surprisingly low #52, falls to 80- Derek and the Dominoes with Layla.
Our new Where Are They Now landing strip is #51, and here we find a band that didn't actually exist, with a song that did. The song was She's Not Just Another Woman, and you'll find it as the 8th track on the lp Somebody's Been Sleeping by 100 Proof Aged In Soul. The single, however, you'll find was done by a band called 8th Day. Confused? Well, apparently DJs discovered the album track and began playing it just as the title cut was on its way into the top ten. The record company reasoned (if you can call it that) that if they released it under another name, it wouldn't eat into the sales of the Somebody's Been Sleeping single. So they released it under the name 8th Day- even changing the writing credit, since everyone knew that 100 Proof Aged In Soul worked for the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland writing team. When the song hit, they just had to do a sequel; so they released a non-lp single called You've Got To Crawl (Before You Walk). When that also cracked the top 30, the company decided to make a real "8th Day" band. But alas, they were no 100 Proof Aged In Soul, and two lps lived and died unnoticed.
Wow, that puts us into the top 40 already! The Osmonds led off 5 top 40 debuts with last week's high Hot 100 debut, Double Lovin', coming in at 40, up 16. Chicago climbs ten to enter the 40 for the fifth time with Lowdown. Jerry Reed's rollicking When You're Hot, You're Hot singes it's way up 11 to #36. Another 11-notch climber was the late Janis Joplin with Cry Baby. And heading the list with a 14-spot climb after being so rudely denied last week, the Carpenters at #27 with Rainy Days And Mondays.
I was mentioning almost but not quite-ers a bit ago; this week we find Matthews' Southern Comfort and their version of Woodstock moving up 1 spot to its high water mark of 18.
We go to 1955 for our lookback song, and this song rockets from 44 to 17 this week. It would take it another 6 weeks to hammer the top spot away from Les Baxter's Orchestra and Unchained Melody, but from there it would have a seven-week run at the top that would make it the song that defined music ever since- Bill Haley and his Comets and Rock Around The Clock. A legend that grew slowly from a b-side of a flop single to the theme song of a #1 TV show almost 20 years later ( at which point it re-entered the chart and peaked at 36), this is the song that really put rock'n'roll on the map forever on. The band, at the time, consisted of four stalwarts. Johnny Grande played piano in the studio, but switched to accordion on stage; when the band reunited in 1987 for a Dick Clark tribute to their late leader, Johnny stayed on until his final illness forced him off the stage in 2006. Billy Williamson played steel guitar from when they were known as Bill Haley and the Saddlemen until 1963; the only man besides Haley to ever sing lead on a Comets song, he put his guitar away then and never played again, all the way to his death in 1996. Marshall Lytle replaced one of the original Saddlemen through the glory year of 1955; he left in a salary dispute later that year, and the man he replaced replaced him. But he returned for the reunion, finally retiring in 2009. But before he retired, he and Warren Farren co-wrote this little number:
Bill's story wasn't so pleasant. Constantly plagued by alcohol, he remained touring until 1980, when a German tour was cancelled under mysterious circumstances. Some say (and it was widely reported) that he had an inoperable brain tumor, but his wife and another old friend have both denied that. They say that the drink had started to exact a fearful toll, and he wanted off the road. After an arrest, a court-appointed psychiatrist claimed his brain was producing too much of some adrenaline-like chemical, making him "seem drunk even when he wasn't". He was given medicine, but as soon as he felt better, he went back to drink. It wasn't long before he passed in 1981- the official report claiming "natural causes; probably heart attack".
Three enter the top ten, three drop out. Falling are We Can Work It Out (10 to 30), If (6 to 12), and Stay Awhile (4 to 11).
Ringo Starr makes it all four Beatles with solo top tens, climbing four to #10 with It Don't Come Easy.
Lobo comes in at #9, up 2, with a whole cast of characters- Me And You And A Dog Named
The Honey Cone come in at 8, up 4 spots with Want Ads.
|Because who really wanted to look at Three Dog Night anyway?|
Daddy Dewdrop also moves a notch up with Chick-A-Boom (Don' Yew Jes Luv It).
The lone oddball in a parade of songs moving up one, the Rolling Stones climb 4 with Brown Sugar.
|On the other hand... maybe 3DN wouldn't be so bad...|
And here we have our six degrees victim.
Ocean holds one more time at #3 with Put Your Hand In The Hand, a song written by Gene MacLellan, the man who put Snowbird in the hands of Anne Murray. In fact, she did the first recorded version, which charted at a meager 67 on the US Country charts. Ocean had one alumnus who did something else notable- bassist Jeff Jones, who was a member of rockers Red Rider when they hit in 1980 with this song:
A good sized AOR hit before there was a Mainstream Rock chart, it peaked at 48 here and 20 in their Canadian homeland. Recognize the voice? That is one Tom Cochrane, best known for his #6 hit in 1991, Life Is A Highway...
You know the story by now. At #2 we have the Jackson Five with Never Can Say Goodbye.
And (ONE LAST TIME) the top dog this week...
...Drie Hond Nag met Vreugde aan die Wêreld!!! (told ya to bone up on yer Afrikaans!)
Next time, a new #1 song- I promise!!!