Sunday, October 5, 2008

Top of the Charts

As you may have noticed, I know an awful lot about crappy pop songs, a lot more than is probably healthy. Still, every time I listen to one of those old American Top Fortys from the 1970s, I learn many things. Today I heard part of one from September of 1973, and I gleaned the following:

* Looking Glass, which seemed like the consummate one-hit wonder after "Brandy" hit Number One in the summer of '72, followed it up with another Top Forty hit the next year with "Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne." It wasn't very good.

* "In the Midnight Hour," the old Wilson Pickett hit, re-entered the charts in a cheesy soft-rock version recorded by a group called Cross Country in 1973. You've probably never heard of Cross Country, but they were the same group as the Tokens, the vocalists who took "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" to Number One back in 1962.

Mostly, I was reminded of how wonderfully eclectic Top Forty radio was back in 1973. Down in the upper Thrties, we had the following run of hits:

"Heartbeat - It's a Lovebeat," by the DeFranco Family
"To Know You Is to Love You," by B.B. King
"I've Got So Much to Give," by Barry White
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door," by Dr. Bob Dylan (Casey's intro described a college dropout who went on to become the youngest person ever given an honorary doctorate by Princeton University)

Who wouldn't listen to a radio station like that?


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't listen to that station ...
The songs you mention might be eclectic, but as you admit, many of them are also not very good.

"Knockin' On Heaven's Door" would be dismissed as lightweight and mawkish in any other songwriter's hands.

On the other hand, since I started listening to old AT40s from the '70s, I have heard several that included B.B. King.
I didn't realize he scored that many times besides "The Thrill Is Gone."
That's kinda cool.

T. Nawrocki said...

B.B. King had five other Top Forty hits besides "The Thrill Is Gone," but the biggest of them topped out at Number 28.

Volly said...

I'm slightly surprised not to see any Helen Reddy on your list. You could not get away from anytime between 1972 and 1975.

Also, when you mention The Tokens being reincarnated as Cross Country, it reminds me of C.W. McCall of "Convoy" fame, who is perhaps better (or at least more recently) known as Mannheim Steamroller.

I love pop music. My dad was a jukebox repairman. His job was to put the records in and take the money out, and he always had a trunkful of 45's. It was our family's "deep dark secret," because anytime I told anyone what Dad did, they'd want to be my instant pal. I stopped trusting my classmates by 8th grade. :)

By the time I was in my 30s I had over 800 45's. However, by that time, they weren't pressing much vinyl anymore and we didn't even have a turntable. I took all the records stored downstairs and gave them to a co-worker. No regrets. It's enough just to hear the songs occasionally on oldies radio (and read your blog).