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Encore Performances: June 19, 1976: The small screen.

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A little under the weather. Will churn out some fresh copy soon, but in the meantime, there’s this. From the old blog, June 2009.

Yup. Casey spins ‘em, I blog ‘em, with favorites in bold.
And now, the usual snide, shallow commentary on the Top 40 hits in the land for the week ending June 19, 1976.
That’s right, folks, don’t touch that dial:

No. 40, debut: “Rock n’ Roll Music,” The Beach Boys.
Normally I would be inclined to automatically bold-face anything by the Beach Boys — especially their first hit in several years.
But really, this cover just kinda farts along, with precious little rock’n’roll energy.
The stompy, primitive drums (which are “primitive” in a poorly played way, not “primitive” in a raw, primal, exciting way) just have to be Dennis Wilson.

No. 39: “Mamma Mia,” ABBA. Before THAT MOVIE came out, I would have accepted this as a pleasant if overly mannered slice of semi-novelty Swede-pop.
But now … nnnnnhhhhhh.
(Do Swedes really say “mamma mia?” Does anybody nowadays? Has the expression “mamma mia” gone the way of the nickname “Dutch”?)

No. 38, fifteenth week on the chart: “Get Right Back,” Maxine Nightingale.
I love this song — not quite enough to bold it, but I love it.
It is to clap tracks what the mythical Gene Frenkle and Bruce Dickinson are to cowbell.

No. 37: “I’m Easy,” Keith Carradine.
Casey points out that this song from the movie “Nashville” bombed upon its release in ’75, but caught on after Carradine performed it on the Oscars telecast.
(This is just the first of many ways in which TV will figure into today’s countdown.)

Laid-back and open-shirted as it is, this is a damned good song by the standards of actor-singers. I much prefer this to the efforts of actors from my hit-radio generation, like Bruce Willis, Don Johnson or Patrick Swayze.

No. 36, debut: “Turn The Beat Around,” Vickie Sue Robinson. As one disco one-hit wonder (Maxine Nightingale) was about to slide off the charts, another one was on the rise.
OK, they both probably managed to slide another tune in at No. 38 or something, but to me, they’re one-hit wonders.
I like Maxine better.

No. 35: “Save Your Kisses For Me,” the Brotherhood of Man. A weird, out-of-place slice of 1971-style bubblegum, complete with jaunty rhythm and rinky-dink horns.
Not for me.

No. 34: Believe it or not, I flat-out missed whatever was at Number 34. Sorry, folks. I’ve let you down. I’ll try not to do it again.

No. 33: “Tear The Roof Off The Sucker,” Parliament. The “Mothership Connection” album, from which this comes, was one of my first connections to funk music, back around freshman year of high school. I’ll always have a fondness for it.

Casey answers a listener’s question about whether songs have ever fallen out of the Top 10 and then gone back in. The most extreme example: BTO’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” went from No. 1 to No. 12 to No. 34 and back to No. 8 in consecutive weeks.

No. 32: Cyndi Grecco, “Makin’ Our Dreams Come True,” otherwise known as the theme to “Laverne and Shirley.”
This one still sounds great, even with a sax solo and a key change stuck in to embiggen it to single-length.
The rhythmic switch behind the words “There ain’t nothin’ we won’t try / Never heard the word ‘impossible’ ” is the single best (and subtlest) use of the baion since Phil Spector.

Casey makes a tease he must have been dreaming of since 1970: Coming up, the return of the Beatles!

No. 31: “Let Her In,” John Travolta. See comment on No. 37.

No. 30: “Today’s the Day,” America. With a bit of gravel in the grammar: “You’re the most brightest star that lights my way.”

No. 29, debut: The Beatles, “Got To Get You Into My Life.” I forget why they saw fit to release McCartney’s ode to marijuana as a single 10 years after the fact.
But they did, and the people of this great country still had enough taste left to make it a substantial hit.

After the song, Casey says with an almost visible gleam in his eye: “Can you believe it? The Beatles and the Beach Boys back on the chart in the same week?”
Bless ya, Case — this is your reward for all those weeks you had to put up with “Seasons in the Sun” and “The Lord’s Prayer” and “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.”

No. 28: “That’s Where the Happy People Go,” the Trammps.
What makes the Trammps not one-hit wonders? Well, this.
Kind of the same chugging drum rhythm as “Disco Inferno,” and of course the lead singer has the same readily identifiable timbre.
This is not as good as “Inferno,” but it does have a marvelous refrain: “The disco / That’s where the happy people go.”
(What did you expect? Burger King?)

No. 27: “You’re My Best Friend,” Queen.

No. 26: “Get Closer,” Seals and Crofts. Casey announces this is one of five duos on the charts this week … so when the female voice comes in, my wife asks hesitantly: “So Seals was the woman, and Crofts was the man?”
No, dear … Casey is misleading you; this is really more like a trio, albeit uncredited.

I somewhat enjoy this song, though it has its shortcomings — for instance, the second verse just sort of arrives.

No. 25: “Boogie Fever,” the Sylvers.

No. 24: “Welcome Back,” John Sebastian. Two former No. Ones, back to back at 24 and 25.
I like this one better.
In fact, I would probably vote for this as the best TV-theme-turned-hit-single of all time, even if its cheerful, ambling folkie groove in no way conjures up the gritty Brooklyn milieu of Gabe Kotter and the Sweathogs.

Unlike other TV themes, this one doesn’t sound like it was artificially lengthened — there’s no forced key change that reminds you that you usually hear a compressed 30-second version.

No. 23: “Rhiannon,” Fleetwood Mac.
Yeah. I bolded a Fleetwood Mac song. Bite me.
I happen to like the groove on this song — the electric piano and the Mac rhythm section (who have always tended toward the subtle) create a good atmosphere for Stevie Nicks’ tales of bedknobs and broomsticks.

No. 22: “The Boys are Back In Town,” Thin Lizzy. I never cared much for this; they can sell it to as many lad-movies and beer commercials as they want.

No. 21: “Fool to Cry,” Rolling Stones.
I said to my wife, “There’s a reason the classic-rock stations play ‘Miss You’ twice an hour but will never play this.”
Maybe it’s the way Bill Wyman’s bass burps unbecomingly up in the mix, or maybe it’s the limp, watery guitar playing.
I still insist that “Moonlight Mile” and “Beast of Burden” are the only two ballads that this bunch have ever really nailed.

No. 20: “Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow,” Rhythm Heritage. Otherwise known as the theme from “Baretta,” a show I don’t think I’ve ever seen all the way through.
The third TV theme in this week’s countdown.

No. 19: “Take the Money and Run,” Steve Miller Band.

No. 18: “Moonlight Feels Right,” Starbuck. Yacht-rock (literally) at its finest.
Scoff that, Jimmy Buffett.

No. 17: “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again,” Eric Carmen.
I have all sorts of love for Eric, but really, this is way too Manilowish.

No. 16: “I Want You,” Marvin Gaye. Maybe the first Marvin Gaye song I genuinely like, even if it is a little unbalanced: It kinda stays in one place for a minute, and then the chord changes start going by at, like, two per measure.

No. 15: “Movin’,” the Brass Construction. Nice Bernie Worrell-ish synth playing. I kinda gently lukewarmly like it.

No. 14: “Takin’ It To The Streets,” the Doobie Brothers. I hate corporate rock’n’roll bands that sing about “the streets.”

No. 13: Gary Wright, “Love Is Alive.” Was this guy the Howard Jones of the ’70s — kind of a one-man show surrounded by keyboards?
This one’s better than “Dream Weaver.” In fact I almost bolded it. But not quite.

No. 12: “Kiss and Say Goodbye,” the Manhattans. Starts with a spoken-word voice-over, and if you’ve been paying attention, you know what the house rule on those is.

No. 11: Pratt and McClain, “Happy Days.” Yup, the fourth TV theme on this week’s countdown.
I haven’t seen an episode of “Happy Days” in donkey’s years, though I sure used to see a lot of it growing up.
Wonder what Tom Bosley’s up to now? And Erin Moran?
Oh, yeah, the song … the song is forgettable.

Casey plays a damn fine AT40 Extra: BB King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” from 1969. This blows that Pratt and McClain stuff right out the door.

No. 10: “I’ll Be Good To You,” the Brothers Johnson. Mellow ballad, and absolutely nothing like you’d imagine the record sounded like if you only saw the single sleeve.

No. 9, up from 33 two weeks ago and No. 25 last week, and on its way to Number One: “Afternoon Delight,” Starland Vocal Band.
Wonder if the guy and his Mississippi-born chick on the boat in “Moonlight Feels Right” had this playing on their AM transistor radio while they, uh, hiked the Appalachian Trail?

No. 8: “More, More, More,” the Andrea True Connection. We don’t get enough porn stars scoring Top 40 hits any more.
This is pretty sloppy if you listen — there’s a trumpet player who can’t quite get to what’s written, and an unfunky drum drop that happens at the absolutely most noticeable and distracting spot.
(Did they hire Dennis Wilson?)

No. 7: “Shop Around,” Captain and Tennille. Gotta have a cheesy cover every week and this one’s it; worse even than the one at No. 40.

No. 6: “Shannon,” Henry Gross. Didn’t listen. Isn’t this the one about a dog that drowns or something?
Hey, I didn’t watch “Marley and Me” either.

No. 5: “Sara Smile,” Hall and Oates. Not their best tune but Daryl Hall’s voice is always a pleasure.

No. 4: “Love Hangover,” Diana Ross.
Yet another song with a flaw I find endlessly annoying:
When Miss Ross yells “Hang-o-ver!” at that point when the tempo speeds up, is it just me, or is she at least half a tone flat?
I bet the lust-crazed, sunscreen-streaked couple on the yacht liked it when this one came on too.

No. 3: “Misty Blue,” Dorothy Moore. I didn’t listen to it, and in fact, I can’t find the melody in my head — I keep trying to think of it but I keep coming up with “Moody Blue” instead.
No matter; we’re almost done.

No. 2: “Get Up and Boogie,” Silver Convention. No idea why this one got any higher than, say, No. 22.

No. 1 for, I think, the fourth non-consecutive week: “Silly Love Songs,” Wings.
This song is an absolute triumph for McCartney — the moment where he packaged his entire philosophy into one perfect, catchy, not-a-note-or-instrument-out-of-place arrangement.
(Also, rather than combining song fragments into one tune, he actually bothered to sit down and write himself a whole song. It paid off.)
I can still hear it coming over the radio (AM-only, natch) in my parents’ big Plymouth Satellite on long car trips.
I wonder what John Lennon thought when this came over his radio in the Dakota.

Encore Performances: March 18, 1978: All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.

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From the old blog, March 2011.

So here we are in an America positively saturated with Gibb-love — so much so that Casey would have been justified in calling his countdown “Sunday Morning Fever.”

What’s going on in the week ending March 18, 1978?

* Gifted actor John Cazale dies of cancer at 42.
Seventies film fans, who have already seen him in four Oscar-nominated movies, will get a final chance to see his work when “The Deer Hunter” is released in December.

* Jill Clayburgh hosts “Saturday Night Live.” Eddie Money is the musical guest.

* People meeting with or speaking by phone with President Carter this week include actor Kirk Douglas; Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan; Wayne Corpening, mayor of Winston-Salem, N.C.; former President Ford; and Sen. John Anderson, who will make a quixotic bid to replace Carter in 1980.

* Time magazine’s cover features a special report on a topic still of interest to right-wingers today: Socialism.
Inside the magazine is a feature on Warren Zevon titled “Tales from the Neon Netherworld.”

* Teen Beat magazine features cover teases including “Why The Bay City Rollers Had To Leave Scotland!,” “Leif Garrett’s Deepest Secrets,” “Shaun Confesses: It’s True – I Can’t Be True To One Girl” and “Is Parker Stevenson Too Old To Be A Hardy Boy? Vote!”

* Rock fans in the Los Angeles area who score tickets to the California Jam II concert get all the music they can hold, courtesy of Santana, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Mahogany Rush, Dave Mason, Foreigner, Heart, Bob Welch and Rubicon.

* Meanwhile, an L.A. rock band has a hard time far from home: The Beach Boys perform a series of subpar concerts in Australia, during which Carl and Dennis Wilson are visibly and audibly drunk.

* The San Francisco Giants trade seven players and $300,000 in cash to the Oakland Athletics for Vida Blue, who gives the Giants a couple of pretty good but not great years.
Then again, the A’s don’t get a lot of use out of most of the guys they acquire, either.

I’m not sure how much use I got from extended portions of this AT40 countdown. But here we go again, with favourites in bold:

No. 40, debut: Chuck Mangione, “Feels So Good.”
Casey suggests this is the first AT40 hit to feature the flugelhorn as a lead instrument, which could well be.
This one also features a particularly sweet guitar solo, for lovers of six-string fireworks.
It will be the second-hottest guitar solo of the countdown … we’ll get to Numero Uno in due time.

No. 39, debut: For the folks digging WBBB in Burlington, N.C., it’s Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway with “The Closer I Get To You.”
(Only two debuts this week; the rest of it, you’ve all heard before.)
Soft soul … perhaps a little bit oversoft, like that one strawberry you find at the bottom of the box that’s all mashed down on the bottom side.

No. 38: Up two, Enchantment with “It’s You That I Need.”
Bland gossamer soul, very redolent of its period … there will be much more where this comes from.

No. 37: “The new group Van Halen,” Casey says, in their second week on the charts with “You Really Got Me.”
Never been a VH fan.
I guess that breakdown with Diamond Dave gasping and coughing like someone’s tickling his colon with a feather was their idea of “putting their own stamp on the song.”

No. 36: Down 10, Queen with “We Are The Champions.”
Like that lead vocal and Brian May’s distinctively toned licks, as always.

No. 35: In its twenty-fourth week on the charts, the Bee Gees with “How Deep Is Your Love.”
Casey mentions that in 1959, the band gave $400 to its fans so they would buy up all their records in the shops, to convince Sydney radio stations to play the song on the air.
Now, Casey says, stations fight to be first on the air with Bee Gees tunes.
(Was that really true? I’m imagining a station in some backwater place like Syracuse boasting, “We’ve got the Bee Gees first!”)

No. 34: Up two, Andrew Gold with “Thank You For Being A Friend.”
Ah, you’ve misread my intentions, Andrew.
It will be your final mistake.

No. 33: Rod Stewart with the recycled Stones of “Hot Legs.”

No. 32: Down an astonishing 21 spots, Steely Dan with “Peg.”
(America, how could you forsake the Dan?)
Now this is the best guitar solo of the week, backed up with a bravura bass performance from Chuck Rainey.

No. 31: A guy who recently won an R&B Grammy, Lou Rawls with “Lady Love.”
More gossamer, set apart only by the unique resonance of Rawls’ marvelous pipes.

No. 30: Gene Cotton, “Before My Heart Finds Out.”
Distinctly Van Warmerish … though “You woke me from a dream about you” is a pretty good opening gambit.

No. 29: ELO, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman.” As good as their brand of pop got, which was pretty good indeed.
Not sure why you’d go searching on a one-way street, though.
Up three.

No. 28: Up two, and Number One on the soul charts, Parliament with “Flash Light.”
A marvelous antidote to all that silky-smooth soul business lower down. This one reels and grooves and chortles and rollicks and sounds like some sort of strobe-lit space par-tay.
Great deep synth-bass from Bernie Worrell, too.

No. 27: Stargard with a former Soul Number One, “Which Way Is Up.”
At the time this countdown aired, the three female members of Stargard were just waiting for their performance as Lucy and the Diamonds in the upcoming “Sgt. Pepper’s” movie to rocket them into cross-platform stardom.

No. 26: Up 13, England Dan and John Ford Coley with “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye” (which Casey keeps referring to without the final “Again.”)
Anodyne.
I tell ya, “Flash Light” sits among the surrounding songs like a hash brownie on a tray of Girl Scout cookies.

No. 25: For the folks digging out to the sound of WYSL in Buffalo, New York, it’s Jackson Browne up 12 with “Runnin’ On Empty.”
I like Jax just fine when he plays terse, propulsive rock n’ roll … it’s hard to gaze into your navel when you’re doing 70.
Also, few songwriters have found better metaphors for aging than the transition from “runnin’ wild” to “running behind.”
Add some slicing, spot-on steel guitar from David Lindley, and we gots us a winner.

No. 24: Ex-high school cheerleader David Gates with “Goodbye Girl.” Alas, my developing mancrush on D. Gates is not enough to lift this soggy celluloid artifact into bold status.
But there’s still hope … goodbye doesn’t mean forever, after all.

No. 23: Kansas, “Dust In The Wind.”
“Carry On Wayward Son” is what really gets my inner 16-year-old stoked … but this is a lovely song.
Not as profound as it was probably meant to be, but memorable and effectively arranged.

No. 22: Bob Welch, “Ebony Eyes.” Pretty OK; tuneful; I wouldn’t have turned the dial back in ’78.
Next?

No. 21: Up two, Heatwave with “Always and Forever.” Sticky and mellow as maple syrup. Not as tasty, though.

No. 20: In its seventh week, Rita Coolidge going over all Ronstadt with “The Way You Do The Things You Do.”
Totally unnecessary.
But how’d she look in roller skates?

No. 19: Raydio, “Jack and Jill.”
Oh, that Jill, “never bothering to phone.”
This is embarrassingly lame.

No. 18: Natalie Cole, “Our Love.” Running out of stuff to say about records like this.
By this time in 1978, I would have turned the radio off.

No. 17: The Flying Garfunkel Brothers with their exquisitely emasculated all-star version of “What A Wonderful World.”
Soft and pillowy and too damn mellow.
Not that I would have expected “Carry On Wayward Son” out of this bunch, of course.

No. 16: Little River Band, “Happy Anniversary.”
By this time in 1978, I would have bought a Japanese guitar at a pawnshop and started a punk band.

No. 15: Up two, “Falling” by LeBlanc and Carr.
My spleen is being crushed by thousands of tons of pure smoove.
Kinda sad it took two guys to do what Stephen Bishop did all by himself.

No. 14: Yvonne Elliman, “If I Can’t Have You.”
Energy and drama — two things that have been in short supply lately — suddenly burst forth.
Welcome arrivals.

When I was a junior in HS, I was ferrying my girlfriend and a friend of hers someplace, like out to a movie or something.
I put in my tape of the SNF soundtrack and this came on.
“My mom listens to stuff like this,” my girlfriend’s friend said, audibly wrinkling her nose.
(Someday I will write an epic, man-slaying post about the travails and troubles of being a funk and disco fan in 1990 America. But not today. I gotta outlast this countdown before it crushes my spleen.)

No. 13: Lynyrd Skynyrd crunching through “What’s Your Name?”

You know what? Rock guitars, attitude, groove, a couple of good lines, and Ronnie Van Zant’s delivery add up to a bold.
Lynyrd Skynyrd crunching through “What’s Your Name?”

On a more serious note, I wonder whether the surviving members of Skynyrd were out of traction by March of ’78.
It must be a savage form of torture to be recovering from multiple broken limbs, still depressed and mourning the deaths of your professional brothers, and still hear your song on the radio twice an hour.

No. 12: ABBA, “Name of the Game.”
Love the mysterioso swing of that opening section.

No. 11: For the listeners of WMBO in Middleport, Ohio, it’s Jay Ferguson with “Thunder Island.”
(Is that Ferguson’s running buddy Joe Walsh on slide guitar?)
Dave Barry made fun of this one in one of his books, which only goes to show that Dave Barry can be a honkin’ big hack when he wants to.

No. 10: Billy Joel, “Just The Way You Are.”
Come back and save us, Dean Friedman. All is forgiven.

No. 9: “Dance Dance Dance (Yowzah, Yowzah, Yowzah)” by Chic. Rumbustious coke-fueled fun, though not as much so as “Good Times.”

BTW, this week’s crave-song is officially “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” which I’ve been listening to continuously for a good 35 minutes now.

No. 8: Dan Hill, “Sometimes When We Touch.”
But other times when they touch, nothing happens.
Or there’s a little spark, like you get from skidding your feet over the shag carpet.
Strange.

A big blood-rare hunk of emotion, down five.

No. 7: Paul Davis, “I Go Crazy.”
Early on, when Mr. Davis delivers himself of the line “They say old lovers can be good friends,” you just know this song’s gonna slip a thin blade into one of your ventricles and slowly turn it.

No. 6: Barry Manilow up four with the kids’-songy “Can’t Smile Without You.”
Casey predicts that this one could be headed to Number One.
He is mistaken.

Trivia fact I learned from Wiki: Not only did the Carpenters record this one first, it was the B-side of “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.”
Hmmm, wonder if that one’s on YouTube …

No. 5: Andy Gibb, “Love Is Thicker Than Water.”
I actually found myself singing this repeatedly in the kitchen today, which is a sure sign that the bourbon’s soaking directly into my cerebellum.
Nice slide guitar chorale — seems to be a good week for that, if nothing else.

No. 4: Speaking of bourbon-soaked, it’s Eric Clapton, “Lay Down Sally.”
A welcome trip to bumpa-chicka Johnny Cash-land.
Also, the only record in this week’s Top Five that is completely unaffiliated with the Gibb family.

No. 3: Samantha Sang, “Emotion.”

No. 2: Up four after going down six the week before, the Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive.”
Crisp, tight, perfect, era-defining funk.

No. 1: Speaking of defining an era, Casey says no artist has held the top 1 and 2 spots since the Beatles in 1964.
Until this week:
The Bee Gees, “Night Fever.”

The Gibbs also tie Elton John for most Number Ones of the Seventies, with six. Remarkably, they would cop three more Number Ones before the decade was out.

“They have the sound of 1978 going for them, and maybe even the sound of the decade,” Casey says, admiringly.
That latter suggestion is open to argument — Gamble and Huff might have an issue with that, for instance — but no arguing here:
This countdown would have been much better if the Gibbs had produced, written and/or performed about 25 additional songs.

A remarkable chart achievement, and much deserved.

Encore Performances: Jan. 7, 1978: Don’t go changin’ to try to please me.

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From the old blog, January 2010.

Let’s get right into it, with my favourites in bold:

No. 40, debut: Steely Dan, “Peg.”
If you’ve never seen it, there’s a great video on YouTube in which Becker and Fagen talk about the making of this song. They even play some of the rejected guitar solos played by well-known studio guitarists.
I don’t even mind the fact that Michael McDonald is in it.
Check it out.

No. 39: Donny and Marie, covering the Righteous Brothers’ “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration.”
This reminded me of the SNL skit from the early ’80s (I think Julia Louis-Dreyfus was in it) in which D&M leap upon each other in mid-song and start snogging.

I suppose it’s kind of remarkable that teen idol Donny was still charting in any way, shape or form in 1978; that’s a longer shelf life than most.
Still, I can live without the song.

No. 38: The defunct Lynyrd Skynyrd debuting with “What’s Your Name.”
Still trying to decide whether the namedrop of “Boise, Idaho” represents a true story; Ronnie Van Zant’s commitment to America’s small cities (no way was he gonna set it in Baltimore); or just an easy rhyme.

No. 37: Samantha Sang debuting with “Emotion,” which is essentially a Bee Gees single, produced and written by the brothers (or maybe just Barry and Robin; I don’t remember.)
I didn’t listen to the whole thing but it sounded like the Gibbs pretty much took over on the chorus.

Prefaced with a story about how Barry Gibb, hearing a Samantha Sang record for the first time, called her up at 2 am and offered to cut a record for her.
When I heard her start singing, it was no surprise — she sounds like the missing Gibb sister.

No. 36: For the folks listening to WINE in Danbury, Connecticut, it’s “Swingtown,” by the Steve Miller Band, down 19 slots.
(“He’s nothing without his band,” I once heard a record-store clerk say.)
I like this more than most post-1970 Miller, though it’s still pretty disposable.

Miller would release one further single (“Jungle Love”) before taking four years off.

No. 35: Former Top Ten hit: Rita Coolidge, “We’re All Alone.”
Written by Boz Scaggs, of course, who performed his own, distinctly Muppetish version on “Silk Degrees” (a Number One album in Buffalo!)
I actually kinda like hearing this song, like, once every two or three years.

No. 34: Wings, “Girls’ School.” Status Quo as done by the McCartneys. Not to be confused, of course, with the similarly titled Britny Fox song, which I actually think was better in its unashamedly trashy way.

No. 33: Odyssey, “Native New Yorker.” Nice theme song for a New York rebounding from near-bankruptcy. Not being a New Yorker, it doesn’t really grab me, though.

EXTRA: Casey introduces a band that spends its free time visiting hospitals and orphanages, and that gave Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley a matched pair of white doves as a symbol of peace:
War, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”
I like a lot of early War just fine, but as I’ve said, I can’t get to the proto-ska goofiness of this one.

No. 32: Babys, “Isn’t It Time?” The adolescent pain in John Waite’s voice, the moody piano chords and the opening swell of strings all made me think of the “Twilight” movies, which are my current standard of sheeplike teenage devotion.

No. 31: Santa Esmerelda, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” Schlock.

No. 30: Kansas, fronted by former window washer Steve Walsh, with “Point of Know Return.”
Too much fancy stepping … as if the band’s manager or moms or chaperones or something were drawing in the reins (“OK, we let you rock on “Carry On Wayward Son;” now it’s time for something more refined and musicianly.“)

No. 29: Neil Diamond’s tale of knockin’ boots for the first time, “Desiree.”
Love how he became a man “at the hands of a girl twice his age” … when I hear the phrase “at the hands of,” I usually think of one person killing another.
Doesn’t really connote tenderness, does it?
I also love how “she came to me” … the perennial nerd’s fantasy that the girl/woman initiates contact, just like in “Go All The Way,” where the chick, not the narrator, whispers the title phrase.

No. 28: Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive,” up 11. Yes, there was a time when this song wasn’t a disco cliche, but a hot up-and-coming hit that anyone who heard it just knew was bound for the Top Ten and probably Number One.
Is there anyone in America who remembers where they were when they first heard “Stayin’ Alive”?

No. 27: Diana Ross, “Gettin’ Ready.” The beginning is agreeably jazzy; the rest is forgettable.

Casey mentions that a year ago, the chart was packed with disco records, but now there are “just a handful.”
Keeping the disco flame alive at No. 26: Chic with the gimmicky (if well-produced) “Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah).”

No. 25: Up 15 in only its second week on the Forty, Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch.”
Yuck — speaking of the Twilight movies, here’s a song with enough inarticulate earnestness to choke a Clydesdale.
I, of course, will always think of it as Secraterri and Scott’s theme song, as mentioned in the Jan. 24, 1978, entry. (The comment in blue was added recently.)

Oh, yeah, if I’ve never mentioned it: This woman who grew up in the Seattle area in the 1970s has transcribed and posted her ’70s and ’80s diaries online at secraterri.com. There’s a hefty bit of exhibitionism involved there, of course; but I found it fascinating, not having lived through the Seventies as an adult, to read the daily details of what an average person was doing and thinking about back then. Plus, she sometimes mentions what music she was listening to, which ties in nicely to this whole pop-music thing.
Anyway, back to the countdown:

No. 24: Bay City Rollers with the sappy, forgettable “The Way I Feel Tonight.”

No. 23: Andy Gibb’s followup to the biggest single of 1977 is up nine spots: “Love Is Thicker Than Water.”
That weird, oddly phrased, wanna-be cerebral beginning (“Love is … higherthanamountain … loveis, thickerthanwater.”) always throws me.

No. 22: No one ever went broke playing to the ghoulish sentimentalism of the American public: Elvis Presley singing “My Way.”
This version was apparently recorded in 1977. It doesn’t sound as thoroughly horrible as other Elvis stuff I’ve heard from his last year, but it does have a weird glazed quality to it, especially when he slides from note to note.
I felt like I was watching a corpse, listening to that one; even thinking about it makes me want to go wash off.

(1978, of course, would give birth to an even stranger version of the song. It would go Top Ten in the UK but not chart over here.)

No. 21: Paul Davis, “I Go Crazy,” on its way up. Another of those songs I used to hear incessantly on the radio station from Syracuse that played at my family’s cottage in the Finger Lakes in the summers.

No. 20: ELO, “Turn To Stone.” Even more forced and tinny and canned-sounding than usual; this lacks the sound and openness and charm of, say, “Livin’ Thing.”

No. 19: Earth, Wind and Fire, “Serpentine Fire.” Last time I heard this I slagged it; and that first verse where they hang on the one chord still goes on too long.
But this time around I appreciated the popping bass of the underrated Verdine White; and I like the simple, ecstatic chorus of “Oh yeah”‘s.
Still didn’t bold it, though.

No. 18: Billy Joel, “Just The Way You Are.”
Rather than say anything about this patronizing crap, I’ll mention that the Grateful Dead (who were nowhere near the Forty this week) played a pair of concerts on Jan. 7 and 8, 1978, that included no Jerry Garcia vocals due to severe laryngitis — the only time the Dead ever did that.
You can hear the first show here.

No. 17: Randy Newman, “Short People.” For the first verse I loathed this song; during the bridge I started feeling like I was figuring out what the Joke/Ironic Concept was … then I went back to loathing.
Now that Randy Newman is a megabillionaire from scoring all those Disney/Pixar movies, he probably looks back at this and shudders and says, “Sheesh. The things you had to do to score a buck before Pixar came along.”

No. 16: Crystal Gayle, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”

No. 15: Linda Ronstadt, “It’s So Easy.” I almost kinda liked this a little bit — maybe because I remember it being in a commercial for something. (What were those commercials? Anyone remember?)
For some reason, I got more of the sunny SoCal vibe out of this one than I usually get from her songs, which appealed to me, it being 20 friggin’ degrees here in Dutch Country.
Anyway.

No. 14: Another remake: Leif Garrett with “Runaround Sue.”
Hey, tell me something:
When Casey plays a few bars of an original song before playing the remake, is he doing it because he has a soft spot for nostalgia? Or is he doing it to show up the blandness, soullessness and lack of energy in the remake?

No. 13: Queen, “We Are The Champions.” Better than what surrounds it, but it doesn’t usually hit my monkey nerve.

No. 12: High Inergy, “four girls from Pasadena, California,” with “You Can’t Turn Me Off (In The Middle of Turning Me On.)
Sorry, girls. In a decade that produced more great Top Forty sex songs than any other, this lightweight bit of non-soul just doesn’t cut the mustard.

No. 11: “Come Sail Away,” Styx.
When I was a teenager, I was looking at Styx’s “The Grand Illusion” album in a cutout bin, and the credits for “Come Sail Away” included a credit for James Young for “ARP ODYSSEY.”
At first I thought it was cool that the synth portion of the song had this cool little name – the Odyssey – and that the other guys in the band were giving special credit to their bandmate for taking them on this trip.
And then I found out that the ARP Odyssey was just the name of a keyboard … and somehow the whole thing seemed a lot less cool.

AT40 trivia question: Casey tells a listener that the soundtrack album that spent the most time on the charts — 287 weeks! — was “Oklahoma.”
Then he points out that the young female lead of “Oklahoma,” Shirley Jones, later got married and had a son named …

No. 10: … Shaun Cassidy, “Hey Deanie.”
I’ve never actually known anyone called Deanie. I assume it was a diminutive of Deanna or Deanne, which were enjoying their peak of popularity in the ’60s and ’70s.

(OK, Wiki tells me that Eric Carmen wrote the song — how could I tell, without knowing, that Eric Carmen wrote that song? — after seeing Natalie Wood portraying a character called Deanie in “Splendor in the Grass.” A professor of mine once told me that no actor or actress had been so perfectly named as Natalie Wood. But I digress.)

No. 9: Rod Stewart, “You’re In My Heart.” Didn’t he say he wrote this for “three women and two football teams,” or something like that?

No. 8: Bob Welch, “Sentimental Lady.” I prefer the Fleetwood Mac version from the “Bare Trees” LP; but back then, Fleetwood Mac wasn’t getting no hit singles no way nohow.

(Which reminds me: Casey says that “Rumours” is the Number One album in the US for the thirtieth straight week … even though, not to spoil anything, there aren’t any singles from it on the Top Forty this week. That’s kinda remarkable, or at least noteworthy, I think.)

No. 7: Paul Simon (with a Garfunkel name-drop), “Slip Slidin’ Away.”
I’m not a fan … I think “The nearer your destination, the more you’re slip-slidin’ away” belongs in the same bucket of meaningless non-profundity as Steve Miller’s “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.”

Or maybe Paul just meant to subtly invoke Zeno’s dichotomy paradox in a jealous effort to prove that Art wasn’t the smart one of the duo.
I dunno.

No. 6: “Here’s one of those records they’ll be talking about for years,” Casey says, his voice glowing:
“You Light Up My Life,” by Debby Boone, just starting on its way down after 10 weeks (I think) at Number One and a week at Number Two.

I actually listened to a good chunk of this song; I don’t like it per se, but I don’t find it as offensive as people who had to suffer through it in 1977 seem to find it.
There are worse songs out there.

No. 5: Dolly Parton, “Here You Come Again.” A former Country Number One despite the fact there’s barely an ounce of country in it.
(This week’s Country Number One: “Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck. Wonder whether that one cracked the Forty? Wiki sayeth not.)

No. 4: LTD, “Back in Love Again.” I know there’s not much to set this apart from any number of other semi-funky singles from the Seventies.
I just like the hooks and the vox.
What can I say?

No. 3: Linda Ronstadt, “Blue Bayou.”

No. 2: Player, “Baby Come Back.” Up four notches for a band formed in 1976; their rise this high on the charts so quickly must have had music journalists writing ledes like, “Player is a band we’ll be hearing about for years and years.”

No. 1: The song that knocked Debby Boone out of Number One and continued a record-setting series of Number One hits from movies (six in the prior year alone):
The Bee Gees, “How Deep Is Your Love.”

(According to Wiki, “Saturday Night Fever” premiered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 1977; the PG version would be issued in March 1978. Presumably people were still going to theaters to see it in the first week of 1978. I’ve never seen that movie in a theater. Would love to sometime — preferably a grungy suburban multiplex of the type that are being torn down right and left to make room for theaters with stadium seating and overpriced chardonnay. But, eternally, I digress.)

Encore Performances: Dec. 15, 1979: Someone’s gonna tell you lies, cut you down to size.

From the old blog, December 2009. People seem to like these.

The Seventies lurched to a close, as all decades do — indeed, as the one we are in is doing as I type.
And this was the stuff on the radio.

(With favourites in bold as always.)

No. 40, debut: “A bit of social commentary,” Casey says, from a wanky group of bespectacled limeys:
“Video Killed The Radio Star,” by the Buggles.

I’ve always hated this song. Too camp, too precious — just listen to the way Trevor Horn pronounces words like “sym-pho-nee.”
These guys ended up merging with that most definitive of ’70s dinosaurs, Yes, less than a year later — proof that they were not the forward-looking savants that their hit record would suggest.

No. 39, debut: “I Still Have Dreams” by Richie Furay.
“Shakey,” Jimmy McDonough’s antic biography of Neil Young, posits Furay (who later became a minister) as one of the few genuinely good guys in rock n’ roll, and apparently one of the very few good guys who ever crossed Neil’s path.
Unfortunately, this is good-guy rock’n’roll, with its polite Fender Rhodes backdrop … and while it didn’t finish last, it doesn’t get many points, either.

No. 38: “Deja Vu,” Dionne Warwick. Definitive quiet-storm fodder, and really, not all bad for what it is. I could listen to this twice.

No. 37: Fleetwood Mac, “Tusk” — “one of the most unusual hits to be created by a major act in quite a while,” Casey declares.
That scrambly drum break in the middle annoys me, and I get a minor whiff of self-conscious hey-aren’t-we-weird? from this song. But by and large, the hooks are just fine.

Essay question: How much differently would the song (or the album) have performed had it been called “Beak”?

No. 36: “Dim All The Lights,” Donna Summer.
Hey, you Seventies veterans can tell me: During Summer-mania, did every magazine in America put Donna Summer on its cover?
When she was clicking with two or three hits in any given Top 40, were there long think pieces about Donna Summer’s tastes, preferences, politics and theories on religion?
Or was she pretty much dismissed as the largest and mightiest of the new universe of disco droids?

No. 35: ABBA, “Chiquitita.” In his intro, Casey fondly recalls ABBA’s “SOS” as the only double-palindrome in chart history.
That was a better song than this one.

No. 34: “Love Pains,” Yvonne Elliman. Nice use of Coral Electric Sitar. And what does the hook in the chorus remind me of?
(You guys could probably tell me better if I could find a YouTube link for the song. But I can’t.)

No. 33: Foghat, “Third Time Lucky.” Hey, I thought these guys were a beery boogie band. What are they doing throwing around sub-Pablo Cruise mellowisms?
Hope the folks on One-Zed-Cee in Rotorua, New Zealand, enjoyed this one.
‘Cause I didn’t.

AT40 Extra: Counting down the Number One hits of the ’70s, we land in September 1976, with Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music.”
Their follow-up single, “Baby Don’t You Know” (next line: “the honkies got soul”) shows up on precisely two local records charts in the ARSA archive, which says a lot.
I always dug their album cover, though – I can practically taste the cherry.

No. 32: Isaac Hayes, “Don’t Let Go.” Yeah, OK, sure, fine.

No. 31: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Don’t Do Me Like That.” Prefaced by Casey telling a factually incorrect story about how Petty’s band used to be called “Mudcrutches.”
I love the octave bass lines in the bridge of this song — you can’t convince me these guys weren’t making fun of disco.

No. 30: Hall and Oates, bustin’ out for the listeners of Radio Independencia in Montevideo, Uruguay, with “Wait For Me.”
I’d pretty much forgotten about this song, but it ain’t bad — it pretty much sounds like all the other Hall and Oates singles between about 1977 and 1981.
A nice video (linked above) in which H&O and band sing from inside a boom-box couldn’t help this one get any higher than Number 18 … video hadn’t yet killed the radio star in December 1979.

Incidentally, this tune sounds a lot like something Todd Rundgren would have written, and I note the presence of former Rundgren sidemen John Siegler and Ralph Shuckett on the “X-Static” album, which birthed this single.
I don’t meant to imply any kind of correlation — just sayin’, is all.

No. 29: “From Christmas, Arizona, to New Year’s, Nevada,” it’s the Alan Parsons Project with “Damned If I Do.”
OK song, snappy enough.
For some reason, I found it amusing to imagine the song played by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (I think the tune would have held up nicely in their hands.)
Will have to remember the cover-by-other-chart-act device to get me through when other AT40 countdowns start to crawl.

No. 28: John Cougar, “I Need A Lover.” Always liked this song — the unnecessarily complex arrangement, the sound of the instruments, the big guitar flourishes, the wordless vocal chorus, the jackboot outro — though some of that stuff is stripped away in the single edit.
And really, aren’t we all looking for a girl who will thrill us and then go away?

No. 27: Prince, presaging the sound of the ’80s with “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” up all the way from No. 40.
I’m not a massive Prince fan, but I’ll give him this — he’s a better drummer than most one-man bands.

No. 26: “Coward of the County,” Kenny Rogers. Schlock.

No. 25: M, “Pop Muzik.” Less annoying than the Buggles, I’ll give it that; and “Munich” and “music” is an acceptably outside-the-norm rhyme.
The American public must have agreed — this was M’s 17th week on the charts.
I guess they were just paying him back for all those episodes of “Sesame Street” he brought to them.

Wonder how often he got stopped on the street by people wanting to know what James Bond was really like.
“Uh, no. No, that’s Q. I’m M. Now, if you’ll excuse me?”

No. 24: Anne Murray, “Broken Hearted Me.” The title reminds me of the Yardbirds’ “Evil Hearted You,” a wellspring for misogynist garage-punk churners everywhere.
The song reminds me that I’ve still gotta plow through 23 more, and I haven’t bolded any in a while.

No. 23: Kenny Loggins with Michael McDonald … really, do I have to tell you any more, or do you already know we’re knee-deep in krap?

I decided, while listening to Kenny sing, that he really wants to be Daryl Hall, or is in some way a poor man’s version of Daryl Hall, one Oates away from genuine quality.
(For want of an Oates, a career was lost.)

No. 22: Smokey Robinson’s 31st hit, counting the Miracles. “Cruisin’.” Big enough hit but it just didn’t move me.

No. 21: Pablo Cruise their ownselves with “I Want You Tonight.”
The verses on this song brought to mind Huey Lewis and the News, who just a few years later would also march out of the woods of Marin County to produce slick, bloodless pop perfectly suited to their times.
I like Pablo Cruise better.

No. 20: Speaking of Marin, it’s Jefferson Starship with the overblown arena-rock flourishes of “Jane.”
I have always loved Mickey Thomas’ thoroughly cheesy, loungey, unnecessary ad-lib of “hey hey” on the bridge.
(You know, right before the line about “only because you didn’t know better.”)
You can take the man out of the Holiday Inn, but you can’t take the Holiday Inn out of the man.

No. 19: Eagles, “The Long Run.” Up 14, and the title track from the Number One album in the U.S.
This is actually one of the Eagles songs I loathe the least, as enervated as it is.

No. 18: Doctor Hook, “Better Love Next Time.” This is safer than Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home against the Yanks. Man, did these guys sell out.

No. 17: Barry Manilow, “Ships.” Of course I heard it as “Shit” when Casey introduced it. Dr. Freud would have no book with me.

No. 16: “When Yankees meet Redcoats,” Casey says, you get music like “Head Games” by Foreigner.
(He was referring, of course, to the fact that the band included both British and American musicians.)
Dude, farmers bled to death in the fields of Concord and Lexington for this?

No. 15: “Half The Way” by Crystal Gayle.

No. 14: Cliff Richard, “We Don’t Talk Anymore.” Too bad Sir Lord Cliff couldn’t have recorded more songs like this, or the average American might actually know who he was.

No. 13: Casey says, by way of explaining that 11 of this week’s hits are by foreign acts:
“Americans import foreign cars and television sets. We import hit music, too.”
Something about that sentence made me think about hundreds of thousands of Rust Belters being left without work … which didn’t make me very receptive to the next song, “Cool Change” by the Little River Band.

(Every so often I muse about the fact that they used to mass-manufacture television sets in the U.S. It seems so weird to me, like smoking in airports.)

No. 12: “Rock With You,” Michael Jackson. Up 9 for the folks listening to KERN in Bakersfield. Would that everything had stayed as uncomplicated as it seemed in December 1979.

No. 11: Kool and the Gang, “Ladies Night.” This doesn’t offend me as much as some of their later hits would.
(All together now: “Jo-haaaa-naaaaa/ I (pause) love yoooooo….”)
Still not boldworthy, though.

AT40 Extra: Still working our way through the Number Ones of the Seventies, and we get “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees et al.
I’m telling you, everyone who was between the ages of 13 and 30 in America in 1976 deserves a kick up the khyber for making this a Number One.
The line forms on the right.

No. 10, and Lord, does it sting me to use the boldface:
Supertramp, “Take The Long Way Home.”
Normally I loathe all things Supertramp. But this and, OK, “Goodbye Stranger” are pretty good songs; and this is the better of the two because it eliminates the annoying Supertramp Wurlitzer electric piano sound and replaces it with wailing lonesome-train harmonica.
Not to mention they get extra points for the cool album cover of “Breakfast In America.”

No. 9: Eagles, “Heartache Tonight.” Nice fist-into-jaw drum sound on this one.
Lines like “Everybody wants to take a chance, make it come out right” position this song as a shades-wearing, more dangerous!!!!! cousin to Loverboy’s “Working For The Weekend,” which has that same kind of evocatively meaningless drivel about stuff “everybody” is doing.

No. 8: Captain and Tennille, “Do That To Me One More Time.”
No.

No. 7: JD Souther, “You’re Only Lonely.” The thought of a Top Ten tribute to Roy Orbison is kinda sweet, but I can do without the actual song.

No. 6: Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand, “No More Tears.” Casey explains that some pressings of the song are credited to Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer, just to keep equilibrium between two big stars used to getting top billing.

No. 5: For the folks listening to KQED in Albuquerque,  it’s Stevie Wonder with “Send One Your Love,” very thoughtfully refusing to allow the Seventies to expire without one last taste of jazzy, soulful, idiosyncratic groove.
Stevie deserves a medal for his work to keep schlock from completely taking over America in the ’70s like kudzu — and we’ve got just the President to give him one.

No. 4: Rupert Holmes, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song.)” A good old-fashioned story-song with a great twist at the end and a memorable arrangement. Doesn’t even matter that they use the same chords the whole way through.
I think this tune has a lot to recommend it, in a completely non-campy way.

No. 3: KC and the Sunshine Band, “Please Don’t Go.”
I’m sorry, Mr. Casey and Mr. Finch … but if you look at Covenant 12 of the agreement between America and Messrs. Casey and Finch, you will see clearly indicated the words, “no ballads.”
I’m afraid we’ll have to show you to the doors.
Please don’t complain; it’s been a fine, fine ride.
No?

No. 2: Commodores, “Still.”
Casey mentions that the group has had the same six members for the past 10 years. That lineup wouldn’t last.

No. 1 (and no mention of the Beatles, either singularly or together, as far as I heard):
For the second straight week, “Babe” by Styx.
Yuck — the river of Hell, indeed.

Oh, yeah, not that anyone cares, but on Dec. 15, 1979, I was a first-grader counting the days until Christmas break. (It was still quite publicly “Christmas break” in public schools in those days.)
Don’t remember what I got for Xmas that year … sorry.

Encore Performances: Oct. 21, 1972: Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes.

Another repeat performance of one of my American Top 40 breakdowns from the old blog — this one from 40 years ago this week.

Casey introduced this countdown by saying it featured a “surprising” Number One from a man who had waited 17 years to get there.

Of course, I knew what it was immediately, and most of you probably do too.
But my wife couldn’t put her finger on it; and it became an entertaining guessing game throughout the countdown to see who she thought of next.

Before we get to the big surprise and its 39 less successful rivals, here’s the usual look at what was going on the week of Oct. 21, 1972:

* A plane carrying U.S. Reps. Hale Boggs and Nick Begich disappears during a campaign flight from Anchorage to Juneau, Alaska. Neither the plane nor its passengers are ever found.

* Future hip-hop performers Wyclef Jean and Eminem are born on the same day.

* President Nixon makes campaign appearances throughout the country, though he doesn’t really have to, since he holds a more-than-comfortable lead over George McGovern in the presidential race.
Nixon’s stops include an unannounced surprise visit to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and meetings with local Republican officials including County Commissioners Chairman Harry McNichol.
Asked by the local paper what he and the President talked about, McNichol offers the deathless quote: “If I wanted you to know what we talked about, I would have called you.”

* As of Oct. 21, the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland A’s are deadlocked at three games each in a taut World Series. Five of the first six games are decided by only one run, and the seventh game will be too.

* Best-selling books are “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” (fiction) and “I’m OK, You’re OK.” (nonfiction.)
(If I’m not OK, does that make the book fiction?)

* A three-piece fried chicken dinner with fries, cole slaw and roll runs $1.19 at Dixie Lee Fried Chicken in Massena, N.Y.
Elsewhere in Massena, Seaway Volkswagen is advertising the 1973 line of VW buses — available for the first time with automatic transmission.

* Wilt Chamberlain is on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Lori DeWilkens, a first-grader in suburban Chicago, is on the cover of Life magazine, illustrating a story about “The Middle Age Child: 6 to 12.”
A group of NFL quarterbacks, most prominently Joe Namath, make the cover of Time magazine.

And Newsweek puts Marilyn Monroe on its cover under the headline: “Yearning For The Fifties: The Good Old Days” — a sentiment that will not be shared by at least two of the artists in this week’s Top Ten.

So let’s get there, shall we? (With favourites in bold, but you knew that.)

No. 40, debut: “From the Beginning,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Keeping Keith Emerson’s virtuoso flatulence to a minimum was perhaps the best idea Greg Lake has ever had. Enjoy it while he pulled it off.

No. 39, debut: Cashman & West, “American City Suite.” I like the idea of a multi-part pop song about the state of the American city more than I like the actual execution of same, which is sort of sub-Don McLean.

No. 38: David Cassidy trying to sound tough (with lines like “Oooh, you sure can please me,” and plenty of cowbell!) on “Rock Me Baby.”
Wonder if this attempt to grow up was as controversial as teen pop stars’ sexualizations are today.
Probably not.

No. 37, debut: Alice Cooper, “Elected.”
Coop has a wonderful, ragged-edged voice; I love to listen to him howl on this one.
Maybe the last greatest gasp of Alicemania — it wasn’t too much longer that Coop could deliver lines like “You and me together / Young and strong!” with even half a straight face.

No. 36, up 4: The Band, “Don’t Do It.”
Thanks to Tom Nawrocki, I know that both of the Band’s Top 40 hits featured the wry drawl of Levon Helm singing lead.
The members of the horn section on this tune have worked with everyone from Rahsaan Roland Kirk to Hall and Oates. For some of them, I suspect this was their only flirtation with the Top 40.

No. 35: For the folks listening to KCOW in Alliance, Nebraska, it’s a hot slice of Philly: The O’Jays with “Back Stabbers.”
Remarkably, this fell 26 spots from last week.
No matter — it’s still a marvelous expression of paranoia and anguish.
Plus, it grooves.

No. 34: “Summer Breeze,” Seals and Crofts. What was it I was just saying the other day, about how there’s a place in the world for songs about going out on the front porch and putting your feet up?
A song about the joys of coming home that rivals anything produced by any other domestic-minded rock’n’roller.

All this time, my wife is tossing out guesses at Number One. Conway Twitty? Neil Sedaka? Nope.

No. 33: Casey makes his obligatory Beatles reference, mentioning that the next group broke the Beatles’ record for earnings from a single concert.
He says the Beatles earned $189,000 for their Shea Stadium gig in 1965, but this band earned $350,000 for a gig earlier in 1972.
(Incidentally, those sums amount to about $1.27 million and $1.77 million in 2009 dollars, according to the nearest handy online inflation calculator.)

So yeah, it’s Three Dog Night with “Black and White.”
I wonder how many copies this moved south of the Mason-Dixon line? Would be interesting to see a sales breakdown by Casey’s famous “100 record stores.”
(Of course, it must have had plenty of fans down south, seeing as it hit Number One.)

No. 32, up seven: Nilsson, “Spaceman.”
OK, offbeat song, but no “Rocket Man,” I’m afraid.

No. 31: Sam Neely, “Loving You Just Crossed My Mind.” Dusty, Croce-ish singer-songwriter stuff.

No. 30: “I’d Love You to Want Me,” Lobo.
Wiki tells me that Lobo (born Roland Lavoie) played in a band in Florida with Gram Parsons and Jim Stafford.
I can only imagine the arguments they used to have about their material.

No. 29: Joe Cocker, “Midnight Rider.” I had no recollection of this song at all. Nice to have those moments, even after all the Forties I’ve listened to.
I prefer the Allmans’ more mysterioso treatment of this; not to mention that I prickle at Cocker’s insistence on including gospel-chick backing singers on everything he touched.

No. 28: “I’ll Be Around,” the Spinners. Silky and monstrously good.
Number One on the soul chart this week.

No. 27: Helen Reddy, “I Am Woman.” “I know too much to go back and pretend” sounds like a line of dialogue from a B movie. Like maybe this one.

No. 26: Gallery, “I Believe In Music.”
Y’know, there’s no simpler, stupider way to get to No. 26 than to write a song about how much you like music.
Music and love.
*Who* among the radio-owning population of the U.S. doesn’t believe in love and music?

No. 25: Chi Coltrane, “Thunder and Lightning. Brilliant.
You have to bring some serious energy to a record to have it deserve the title “Thunder and Lightning,” and Ms. Coltrane pulls it off.

More guesses at Number One: Frankie Valli? Frankie Avalon? Nope, dear.

No. 24: Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, “Don’t Ever Be Lonely.” I didn’t remember this one much either, but it’s a good sufferin’ soul record.

No. 23: Mel and Tim, “Starting All Over Again.” He got a telegram? What’s that, Mommy?

No. 22: Eagles, “Witchy Woman.” I guess I like the production job on this one — it sounds kinda fog-shrouded and witchy — but that’s about it.

No. 21: A group featuring two beauty queens from California, Casey says — winners of the Miss Bronze California pageant in 1962 and 1963 (and doesn’t that name take you back to a different time?)
The Fifth Dimension, “If I Could Reach You.”

No. 20: Johnny Nash, third week on, with “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Good tune, the bridge especially. I should maybe bold-face it one of these weeks. It just ain’t my favourite compared to what else is around it.

No. 19: Arlo Guthrie, “City of New Orleans.”
Nice cover choice, hippie-kid — though songwriter Steve Goodman gets the credit for the power of observation at work here (“15 cars and 15 restless riders / three conductors and 25 sacks of mail.”)

No. 18: James Brown, “Get on the Good Foot (Part 1).”
It’s JB, flashing the best self-namedrop on the Forty.
Wonder if Casey ever spun Part 2, just to be puckish?
(probably not.)

I hint to my wife that novelty is involved. She thinks of Dickie Goodman. Nope, not him.

No. 17: Doobie Brothers, “Listen To The Music.”
The notoriously upright Casey has no problem saying the word “Doobie.”
Wonder if he bought into that story about “they’re not related, but they do be brothers?”
Not sure what Michael McDonald was doing in October 1972. Arsed if I care, really.

No. 16: Rick Springfield, “Speak To The Sky.” Mild enough to get spun in church youth groups; non-charismatic enough to reach mainstream charts.
I would ask kids what they saw in this record, but the point is probably moot.

No. 15: Donny Osmond, “Why.”
Would be interesting if there were an objective way to compare who was bigger at their peak: Donny or Justin Bieber.
Casey mentions that Donny is living in Santa Monica, California … wonder if that drove America’s 12-year-old girls to the library to look longingly at maps of the Golden State.

I give my wife an oblique hint by grabbing a handful of my crotch. It doesn’t work.

No. 14: Danny O’Keefe, “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues.” Perfectly good record, just not one of my faves.
Y’know, by and large, this is a pretty good countdown … of course, we’re not at Number One yet.

Casey mentions that the staff at some radio station in New Zealand sent him a canoe — yes, a canoe.
Case says it’s parked outside the studio and he’ll take it home at the end of the show.
I imagine him walking down Sunset Boulevard with a wooden boat slung over his shoulder, going home to the front porch like Seals & Crofts.

If I’d been a station manager at the time, I would have been inspired to do some similarly silly stunt to get attention. I imagine Casey saying, with a bemused chuckle:
“I’d like to send a special thanks to WKNP in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for sending me a thousand pounds of potato chips! Of course, I can’t eat ‘em all myself, but they will be distributed to needy families in the Burbank area. And now, on with the countdown.”

And now, on with the countdown:

No. 13: “You Wear It Well,” Rod Stewart. The last great flash of Rod’s 1970-72 glory years?
Also featuring a snazzy namedrop of Jackie Onassis and the classic line, “I don’t object if you call collect.”

(The best rock song ever to reference Jackie O, of course, was Human Sexual Response’s classic “Jackie Onassis,” which had about as much chance of reaching Casey’s purview as a thousand pounds of potato chips. It’s still great. Boston rules. Go listen.)

No. 12: We go from sottish Scottish balladry to inner-city reality with Curtis Mayfield, “Freddie’s Dead.”
From the “Superfly” soundtrack, America’s Number One album, and eternally chilling.

(Casey describes this as the “theme from Superfly.” That ain’t true, is it? I thought the song “Superfly” — you know, “you’re gonna make your fortune by and by” — was the theme from “Superfly.” Of course, I haven’t seen that one in years. Same with “Shaft’s Big Score,” come to think of it. Anyhow.)

No. 11: A man who lives on a “baronial” farm in Oklahoma, complete with home studio, Casey says:
Leon Russell with “Tightrope.”
Maybe the only semi-good pop hit with a circus theme — I like the sour discordant interpolation of the circus music in the middle.

No. 10, down 5: Raspberries, “Go All The Way.” Requires neither comment nor explanation.
My wife — who still has not guessed Number One — points out that when you look up Eric Carmen on iTunes, his name always appears in ALL CAPS.
Don’t ask how she knows that.

No. 9: “Popcorn,” Hot Butter. Somewhere James Brown weeps, realizing that his own stable of “Popcorn” songs fell short of the Top 10, while this song that sonically resembles a primitive Pong machine is snapped up by millions of listeners.

No. 8: A man who hadn’t been in the Top Ten since 1964, Casey says: Rick Nelson with “Garden Party.”
Y’know, at some point, this song would have become Rick Nelson’s past, in a weird refractive way.
Can you imagine him onstage in 1992, singing, “If memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck,” and “Garden Party” itself is a golden oldie?

Of course, maybe he really would have driven a truck.

No. 7: Mac Davis in his 12th week on the 40 with “Don’t Get Hooked On Me.”
A triumph of ego.

No. 6, down from Number One last week: Michael Jackson, “Ben.”
I don’t care if everyone liked this song; I don’t.
It’s just freaky.

No. 5: Moody Blues, “Nights In White Satin.”
“When I hear the flute, it reminds me of people in jerkins, dancing,” my wife says, bursting into giddy laughter. “Perhaps they are in danger of being trod upon by a dwarf.”

No. 4: “Everybody Plays The Fool,” Main Ingredient. OK. Y’know, I haven’t bolded anything in a while.

My wife gets it! She finally guesses the Number One artist, then starts laughing again as she thinks of my hint. I won’t reveal the mystery yet, in case there are non-pop obsessives actually reading this.

No. 3: Elvis, “Burning Love.” My brain is flamin’.
The band carries Elvis across the line on this. He sounds weak and paunchy, investing lines like “flames are now licking my body” with about as much passion as he would in ordering a cheeseburger.
Maybe less, come to think of it.

No. 2 for the second week: Bill Withers, “Use Me.” We need all the spare melodic funk we can get.

And posting his first-ever Number One hit, after 17 years:
Chuck Berry, “My Ding-A-Ling.”
Casey points out that 17 years ago that week, Chuck was in the Top Ten with “Maybellene.”
Interesting.

OK, I’m gonna go play my alma mater.

Encore Performances: Sept. 27, 1975: Baby, when I think about you, I think about love.

Don’t worry — I’m not gonna completely give over this space to re-running my song-by-song AT40 liveblogs from my old blog.

But this one is timely, it being the last week of September and all. Plus it has one of the better ledes I ever wrote on one of these posts. So it comes out of the archives too. Enjoy.

In Stephen King’s novel “‘Salem’s Lot” — my favourite of his lengthy list of books — the last full week of September, 1975, is the week the vampires start to take over the backwoods Maine town of Jerusalem’s Lot.

It was also a week when zombies took over the American Top 40 countdown.

OK, so I exaggerate a little bit. But that week’s Casey-fest was singularly bland, boring and unappealing.
Faced with a choice between another hearing of “Run Joey Run” or a set of fangs to the neck, I would be hard-pressed to decide.

Before we get into the Top 40 (with favourites in bold as always), here’s my usual rundown of what was happening that week. I’ll try to keep it shorter than last time:

* President Ford dodges the second assassination attempt against him in three weeks’ time. Former bookkeeper Sara Jane Moore shoots at him outside a San Francisco hotel and misses.

* “Busing Battle” is the cover story of Time magazine.
A story inside the issue quotes promoter Sid Bernstein comparing Scotland’s Bay City Rollers to the Beatles.

* The Eagles are on the cover of Rolling Stone; the Pittsburgh Steelers’ snarling Mean Joe Greene is on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

* In Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming College and Wilkes College face off in the sixth annual Fez Bowl, a Shriners-sponsored event.

* Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still alive.

* “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is first screened in the U.S.

* Yankees pitcher Lindy McDaniel and Harmon Killebrew of the Royals (yup) make the last appearances of their lengthy careers.
Killebrew goes 1-for-7 in his final three games that week to drop his 1975 batting average to .199.

* The Philadelphia Spectrum arena hosts Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra on Sept. 22; Isaac Hayes on Sept. 26; and a Flyers-Penguins hockey game on Sept. 27.

* Eddie Kendricks, Tavares and Paul Mooney appear on “Soul Train.”

So yeah, on to the 40.

No. 40, debut: “One of the most popular groups around today,” Casey declares:
Eagles, “Lyin’ Eyes.”

No. 39, debut: Average White Band going the ballad route with “If I Ever Lose This Heaven.” This is an OK groove but I like them better when they bring the funk.

No. 38, debut: Following a Beatles namedrop, we get Art Garfunkel with a limp, tremolo-soggy version of “I Only Have Eyes For You.”
No one likes Art like I like Art, but I’m not buying.

No. 37, debut: Jim Stafford, “I Got Stoned and I Missed It.” Couldn’t even bring myself to listen to this one.
Hey, there’s no damn law says I have to sit through these songs.

No. 36: Down 19 spots, the Carpenters, “Solitaire.”

Yes, I bolded the Carpenters.

My folks had a Neil Sedaka album with this song on it when I was a kid, and I’m sort of vestigially fond of it.
The line “Solitaire’s the only game in town” successfully evokes that feeling when it seems like the world is full of faces and you can’t connect to any one of them.

But that’s just me.

No. 35: Esther Phillips, “What A Difference A Day Makes.” The combination of Phillips’ ragged voice and the obligatory disco beat doesn’t work for me.
Hey, how come no one ever thought to have Phillips sing a duet with Roger Chapman of Family?

No. 34: “Tony Orlando and Dawn are really hot!,” Casey enthuses, and then plays “You’re All I Need To Get By.”
As TO&D records go, this one’s OK — none of that rinky-tink novelty edge you get in things like “Knock Three Times” or “Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?”

No. 33: The Number One soul hit this week, “Do It Any Way You Wanna” by the People’s Choice.
This is basically a rhythm track waiting for something to happen … something better than that meager vocal, that is.
There’s a section of this reminds me a little bit of the wordless vocal melody from “Undercover Of The Night,” but that might just be the sound of my mind capsizing under the weight of too many mediocre singles.

No. 32: John Williams, “Jaws.”
This is seriously the best thing so far, and that’s some sad action.

I wondered why all the instrumental movie music I hear seems to sound the same. I think it’s because all the instrumental movie music I know was either written by John Williams, or by someone trying to sound like John Williams.

No. 31: Michael Martin Murphey, “Carolina In The Pines.”
Second-rate John Denver … but Casey does do us the favor of telling us that Murphey is related to one of the 12 founders of Providence, Rhode Island.
So he’s got that going for him.

No. 30: Up 10, the Four Seasons with “Who Loves You (Pretty Baby)” or whatever it’s called.
Nice solid toonful pop. I give it a 95 ’cause I can dance to it.

No. 29: For the listeners of WOKL in Eau Claire, Wis., it’s Leon Russell with “Lady Blue” and another load of tinkly electric piano.
The first few lines of Leon’s vocal were so painful to listen to that I skipped to the next song.

No. 28: “Get Down Tonight,” KC and the Sunshine Band. I probably should have bolded this. Snappy funky pop — or is it poppy funk?

No. 27: Awwwwwww yeah! Finally something I really like: “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship. From the Number One album in the country, “Red Octopus.”
I’ve written before about how I love this song … it’s like bathing in a great warm cologne-scented hot tub overlooking the hills of Marin with a couple of big bombers and a bottle of Courvoisier.
Or something like that.

No. 26: Paul Simon and Phoebe Snow, “Gone At Last.”
Snow smokes him.

As I’ve said before, for all of Paul Simon’s poetic and melodic abilities, it seems like so many of his best records wouldn’t be nearly as good without the contributions of someone else.
Like Phoebe Snow; or the Jamaican musicians who brought “Mother and Child Reunion” to life; or Steve Gadd coming up with the drum pattern for “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover;” or the South African guys (most notably bassist Bagithi Khumalo) on “Graceland.”
Oh, yeah, and Art Freakin’ Garfunkel.

No. 25: Neil Sedaka, “Bad Blood.” Pallid, petulant and bitchy.

No. 24: Austin Roberts, “Rocky.” Featuring the line “Alone until my eighteenth year / We met four springs ago.”
If he was 18, and it was four springs ago, and he left Colorado Springs traveling eastbound at 65 mph and she left Boston heading westbound going 40 mph (damn traffic on the Pike), at what point did they run into each other, and at what force?

No. 23: Casey announces a song that was first a hit for Xavier Cugat in 1943, and he plays a little bit of it, and it’s pretty damn sprightly.
Then he plays the 1975 version of “Brazil” by the Ritchie Family.
Big brassy disco isn’t a bad thing, but now that I’ve heard Xavier Cugat (and I’m listening to it now), I might just like that better.

No. 22: The Osmonds, “The Proud One.” Weak, overproduced Frankie Valli remake. They shoulda covered Xavier Cugat.

No. 21: For the folks digging KFMS in Las Vegas, it’s the Pointer Sisters with “How Long (Betcha Got A Chick On The Side.)”
Funk with rhythm and attitude. Nothing the matter with that, especially this week.

No. 20: America, “Daisy Jane.” Almost bolded this one too. I sort of enjoy how earnest and moody it is.
Nice cello solo.

No. 19: Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds with “Fallin’ in Love.”
This always feels end-of-summery to me. Not sure if that’s an illusion created by the musical arrangement, or whether I think that way b/c I know it was a Number One hit in August of ’75.

No. 18: The Spinners, “Games People Play.” Hooky, soulful, rueful classic from a group with no shortage of classics.
I love the way the Spinners’ bass singer addresses the line “I took my time.”
I also love the way it takes off at the chorus.

No. 17: Yup, three straight bolds — this one for Tavares, with “It Only Takes A Minute.”
The lyrics are painfully inane (like that line about the flu attack putting you on your back for 30 days — what kind of grippe do they get in New Bedford, anyway?)
But the rest of the song eats the lyrics and spits ‘em out.

Will we have four bolds in a row?

No. 16: Morris Albert, “Feelings.”
Nuh-uh.
I still don’t think this is anywhere near the worst single of the ’70s, nor deserving of its status of a pop-culture cliche.

Remember the Pepsi commercial where MC Hammer drinks the Coke instead, and breaks into an off-key rendition of “Feelings”?
Nowadays Hammer’s the punch line.
(Oh, and if you don’t remember that Pepsi commercial? Click here to watch it. G’wan.)

No. 15: Paul Anka and Odia Coates, “I Believe There Is Nothing Stronger Than Our Love.” Beats “Having My Baby,” I s’pose.

No. 14: Dickie Goodman, “Mr. Jaws.”
I don’t listen to novelty records. I don’t care how many people in the fall of 1975 did; I don’t.
I’d rather listen to Hammer sing “Feelings.”

According to ARSA, this was a Number One hit on stations in several markets, including New York City, Cincinnati and Buffalo.
That’s so horribly dreadful, I have to invent a new word to connote my disgust:
Pheeeeeeeeeyauuuuuughhhhhhhhhhh.

Wonder how many copies it sold in Jerusalem’s Lot.

No. 13: Earth Wind & Fire, “That’s The Way Of The World.” Now these guys could work a ballad and the funk.
The chorus sticks in my head for hours, or minutes anyway, and that’s what the game’s all about.

No. 12: Orleans, “Dance With Me.” Bland. The Eagles might have written this, if they liked women.

No. 11: Helen Reddy, “Ain’t No Way To Treat a Lady.”
Reddy’s final Top Ten pop single, barring an unexpected collaboration with Lady Gaga.

No. 10: BadCo, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Nice edgy electric guitar from the delightfully named Mick Ralphs, whose name is a sentence.
Gotta love the sensitive longhairs singing about the “golden dreams of my yesterdays.”

No. 9: Sweet, “Ballroom Blitz.” I love British glam but I’m not gonna bold this ’cause it’s a little too camp for my taste.

No. 8: “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” Freddy Fender.
Mr. Huerta — and most other people who sing this song — do it too damn fast; it should go about half as fast.
Doug Sahm did it right.
You can hear it here.

No. 7: Janis Ian, “At Seventeen.”
Nowadays the ugly outcast kids don’t need to sit around feeling sorry for themselves; they can go start a punk band.
Thank heavens for Johnny Rotten.

No. 6: For the listeners of KOWB in Minneapolis, it’s Barry Manilow and “Could It Be Magic?”
This drips with overwrought drama; they could probably do a good job with it on “Glee.”

No. 5: David Geddes, “Run Joey Run.” Nope.
This was a Number One hit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Shreveport, Louisiana.
The people in Cedar Rapids and Shreveport, united by little else, both wanted to hear this song more than any other in September 1975.
More than “Miracles,” more than “Games People Play,” more than “It Only Takes A Minute.”

That’s some saaaaaaaaad business.

No. 4: Isley Brothers, “Fight The Power.”
Wow — social commentary on the Top Ten!
Who woulda thunk it, in among all those people blitzing ballrooms and makin’ love?

No. 3: Glen Campbell, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” 15 weeks on the countdown.
Pleasant countrypolitan that makes me think of Joe Buck from “Midnight Cowboy” … there was a load of compromisin’ on the road to his horizon, too.

No. 2: David Bowie, “Fame.” The Thin White Duke makes a last-ditch effort to make this countdown seem better than it was.
After teasing his upcoming special on the 40 Biggest Artists of the 1950s, Casey spins a disc by the most intelligent, forward-looking artist of 1975.

And finally, Number One:
“I’m Sorry” by John Denver.

And no, to answer your question, I don’t know who won the 1975 Fez Bowl.

Encore Performances: Sept. 22, 1973: Up all night with Freddy King.

My main man Jim Bartlett recently heard the American Top 40 countdown from the week ending Sept. 22, 1973, and wasn’t too thrilled with it.

I remembered that I’d blogged this one song-by-song a couple of years ago at my old blog. And so — in a spirit not of correction or disagreement, but merely of impish counterpoint — I dug out that review, tightened it up a little and took out a couple four-letter words. Here goes:

Return with us, won’t you, to a distant, different, autumnal America, with Casey Kasem as your guide?

Here’s what was happening in the week ending Sept. 22, 1973:

* Time magazine features a burlesque cartoon hamburger on its cover, teasing a story about McDonald’s.
But the real meat of the week’s news is a story in which Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal threatens hikes in the price of oil as a consequence of America’s support of Israel.
Just a few weeks later, following the start of the Yom Kippur War, the threat would come true, triggering the energy crisis of 1973.

* Musicians Gram Parsons, Jim Croce and Hugo Winterhalter die — Parsons by drugs and alcohol, Croce in a plane crash and Winterhalter of cancer.
Croce’s death triggers new interest in his work. He will posthumously have a No. 1 hit single, and will hold the Nos. 1 and 2 positions on the album charts the following January.
Parsons does not attain the same mainstream interest, but remains a cult artist of great fascination for country-rock types.
Winterhalter remains best-known, then and now, for his 1956 easy-listening hit “Canadian Sunset.

* Americans get to know the fall’s crop of new network television shows, including short-timers like “The New Adventures of Perry Mason,” “Calucci’s Department” and “The Girl with Something Extra.”
The season’s most memorable new shows, “Kojak” and “Happy Days,” will not debut until later on.

* Johnny Unitas makes his debut in the unfamiliar sky-blue-and-yellow garb of the San Diego Chargers after 16 years as a Baltimore Colt.
Unitas’s passing line is a meager 6-for-17 for 55 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions as the Washington Redskins stomp San Diego 38-0.
Unitas rallies to win the following week’s game against Buffalo, but it is his final win as an NFL starting quarterback.

* The Yankees have only three more games to play at historic old Yankee Stadium, which will close following the 1973 season for two years of extensive renovations.
But the biggest baseball story in New York — and everywhere else — is the Mets, who have climbed from fourth place to first over the past two weeks in the up-for-grabs National League East.

* Atlanta’s Henry Aaron is closing in on Babe Ruth’s record of 714 homers, which he will reach the following April.
Aaron is not baseball’s home-run leader for the 1973 season, though. As of Sept. 22, that title belongs to his teammate Davey Johnson, who has a remarkable 43 dingers despite never hitting more than 18 in any previous season.
(There were no such things as steroid rumors in 1973; a home run was still a pure and wonderful thing.)

* Helen Dollaghan’s crab-zucchini casserole recipe runs in the Denver Post.

* Kate Jackson, Lloyd Bochner and Cheryl Ladd star in CBS’s made-for-TV movie of the week, “Satan’s School for Girls.”

* The Lewiston, Maine, Evening Journal advertises a “HEAVY! DYNAMITE! FAR OUT!” sale on LPs at local store Grants City.
The top-selling LPs at Grants are Jethro Tull’s “A Passion Play,” “Chicago VI” and Cat Stevens’ “Foreigner.”
LPs with a manufacturer’s list price of $5.98 are being sold at Grants for as little as $2.94.

* The Grateful Dead wrap up an eight-show East Coast run featuring guest horn players Martin Fierro and Joe Ellis.
The innovation is not welcomed by most Deadheads, and this is the only run of shows in the Dead’s long history to feature a regular horn section.

And now, the Top 40 with Casey, with favourites in bold as always:

No. 40: Jax 5ive, “Get It Together.”

No. 39: “In The Midnight Hour,” Cross Country. I think an acoustic guitar-driven cover of “Midnight Hour” could be magic in the hands of Van Morrison. These guys don’t quite make it sing.

No. 38: “To Know You Is To Love You,” BB King. I always enjoy seeing the King of the Blues score on the pop charts. C’mon — 300 gigs a year for 15 or 20 years oughta entitle him to that.
I don’t think the song is astonishingly incredible, though.

No. 37: “Angel,” Aretha Franklin. The one that starts with Aretha going over to visit her sister Carolyn.
Beautiful and soulful like everything Aretha.

No. 36: “Rocky Mountain Way,” Joe Walsh. One of two songs on this countdown I played in a band I was in, back around 2001. I kept coming in too early on the chord change during the talk-box solo.

No. 35: “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style),” The Temptations. Don’t have any notes on this so it must not have floored me.

No. 34: “Ecstasy,” Ohio Players.
Every AT40 countdown has a crave-song — a song I listen to obsessively for hours, if not days, afterward.
Previous countdowns’ crave-songs have ranged from “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody to “Sweet Thing” by Chaka Khan and Rufus.
This is this week’s crave-song.

I love the churchy piano … and the five-bar structure, which makes things just a little different but not too off-kilter …
… and most of all, Junie Morrison’s fervid, feverish lead vocal, which I’m going to guess is at least 50 percent improvised.
(I have trouble imagining the words of this song written out on a page.)

Junie’s voice lives about halfway between Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye, which is a damned nice place to be.
Only about 40 seconds into the song, he sticks a falsetto note that makes every hair I have left stand straight up.
In other singers’ hands, that would be overkill; but in Morrison’s case, he’s just locked in.

No. 33: “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” Chicago.
Gotta love the four-on-the-floor section at the end — a rare example of Chicago (esp. Cetera-fronted Chicago) bursting with energy.
Among their best singles, I’d argue, though “Saturday In The Park” will always be Number One in my heart.

No. 32: “I’ve Got So Much To Give,” Barry White. OK, this bold is mostly out of respect for the big man … that double-time high-hat thing kinda doesn’t do it for me.

No. 31: “Why Me,” Kris Kristofferson. More singer-songwriter self-flagellation, with an extra helping of … Jesus!
Oh boy.

Drinking game: Do a shot of whiskey every time Kris sings the word “Jesus.” You’ll be speaking Welsh in no time.

Elvis used to let his bass singer, J.D. Sumner, sing lead on this one onstage.

No. 30: “Stoned Out Of My Mind,” Chi-Lites, for the good burghers digging WVAM in Altoona, Pa.
Nice propulsive popping groove — time-and-a-half for that tambourine player! — matched to a lyric full of great old-school soul turns of phrase (“When you led me to the water, I drank it / I drank more than I could hold.”)
This could easily have been my crave-song if that meddling Junie Morrison hadn’t interfered.

From where I was, that opening chord sounded a lot like the opening chord of “Grease” … I started singing that descending horn line.
(You know the one.)

Casey doesn’t say the title before the record, but he does after the record.

No. 29: “Ghetto Child,” Spinners. I alternated between being charmed by this song (“I was just a boy punished for a crime that wasn’t mine”) and being put off by that weird phrasing on the chorus.
There’s, like, a bar with six-and-a-half beats in it.

Nice trading vox on this one. It’s a wonderful thang to have a group with multiple talented singers.

No. 28: “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” Conway Twitty. No. 1 country for the fourth straight week.
Not as teeth-gritting as it might have been.
Neil Diamond could probably rock this one nicely.

No. 27: “Get Down,” Gilbert O’Sullivan. “He’ll be visiting the U.S. next month,” Casey says, before and after the song.
What — is he kipping on your couch, Casey?

No. 26: “The Morning After,” Maureen McGovern. Businesslike Hollywood ballad with some pretty good harpsichord. 11 weeks on the chart; ex-Number One.

No. 25: “I Believe In You,” Johnnie Taylor. I continue to swear that this song is altogether too close, musically, to Van Morrison’s “Warm Love.”

Casey reminds us that he has another of those damn “Top 40 Artists of the Rock Era” specials coming up in a few weeks.
“Hope you’ll mark it down,” he says jauntily.
On what? My math folder?

No. 24: “Free Ride,” the Edgar Winter Group. Chunky, catchy, well-turned albeit eventually meaningless pop.
These guys were like a Grade B rock supergroup:
The “They Only Come Out At Night” album features cult guitar ace Ronnie Montrose (Sammy Hagar’s first employer); Dan Hartman of “I Can Dream About You” fame; Rick Derringer producing and guesting; and former Mitch Ryder drummer John “Johnny Bee” Badanjek.

No. 23: “Midnight Train to Georgia,” Gladys Knight and the Pips. I don’t have to speak on this, right?
You know this record is the bomb.
Up 10 notches in its second week.

No. 22, debut: Stones, “Angie.”
I still say “Moonlight Mile” is the best ballad these guys ever turned out; but I will, when pressed, admit a mild fondness for this.
Even though I know Mick Jagger is a poseur, I enjoy his vocal on this one.

No. 21: Doobies, “China Grove.” Can’t tell whether Casey calls this a “cookin’ town” or a “cookin’ sound.” Either works, I guess.
Some nifty touches for an ex-biker band, like the way they shift into half-time for the line “You can even hear the music at night.”

No. 20: “Yes We Can Can,” Pointer Sisters, rockin’ the ears glued to WBSR in Pensacola, Florida.
Stripped-down, uplifting, positive funk, like that formerly produced by …

No. 19: … “If You Want Me To Stay,” Sly and the Family.
10th week on the charts.
I could just listen to the bass line on this — it’s shifty, and funky, and sounds like it was played during a really great jam.
(Even though I know it might have been overdubbed by Sly in between overdubbing the drums and overdubbing the keyboards.)

No. 18: “Theme from Cleopatra Jones,” Joe Simon and the Main Streeters.
This is really two-bit Curtis Mayfield; and Simon’s voice is not up to some of the bellows he demands from it.
I’m just bolding it because ” ‘Theme from Cleopatra Jones’ by Joe Simon and the Main Streeters” absolutely screams early-’70s, more so than any other title and performer credit on any other single.
It’s like the perfect combination.

No. 17: “Live and Let Die,” Wings.
The theme song was the best part of the movie … uh, unless you found Baron Samedi frightening.

I think this is about the best anyone could do if challenged to write a song called “Live and Let Die.”
This is as good as that title gets.

No. 16: “Here I Am (Come And Take Me),” Al Green. Ex-Top Ten record, and absolutely exquisite.

No. 15: Allman Brothers Band, “Ramblin’ Man.”
Any time a band not known for singles produces a three-and-a-half-minute song that fulfills the basic requirements of a single, without compromising the band’s essential spirit, that’s cause for celebration.
And when the band pulls it off in the face of personal tragedy, that’s even bigger.

Dickey Betts’ flat, nasal delivery and his tendency to repeat every guitar lick at least six times are mere quibbles in the face of the Allmans’ triumph.

From the Number One LP in the nation, “Brothers and Sisters.”

No. 14: Eddie Kendricks, “Keep On Truckin’.” The breakdown goes on too long, and what the hell’s up with the gong crash?
Up 16 spots.

No. 13: War, “Gypsy Man.” Ex-Top Ten. They’ve been better and funkier, really.

No. 12: Elton John, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.”
I think I bolded this out of a sense of noblesse oblige; I don’t really buy the notion of Reg and his mates going out on Saturday night for some aggro.

No. 11: “My Maria,” B.W. Stevenson. OK song. Seemed to me like a predecessor of the crisp acoustic-rooted pop we hear today … like, I dunno, Jason Mraz or Sister Hazel or something.

No. 10: “That Lady,” Isley Brothers. Casey tells the story of how the Isleys were discovered on a Greyhound bus.

What’s cooler than having multiple strong vocalists in your band?
Call-and-response.

No. 9: “Touch Me In The Morning,” Diana Ross. Is she contractually required to have a spoken-word voiceover on every single?

No. 8: “Higher Ground,” Stevie Wonder. Up five notches for Stevie’s 15th Top Ten record.
He’s like Aretha — I need only say “Stevie” and the bold is obligatory.

No. 7: “Half-Breed,” Cher. I liked this OK, better than most Cher songs. I found it believable as a slice of life. God knows why, since I didn’t really buy the slice-of-life depicted in …

No. 6: … “Brother Louie,” Stories. The music sets an effective mood, but the story of the “whiter-than-white” guy who “tastes brown sugar” just doesn’t do anything for me.

Maybe ’cause it doesn’t resolve:
Louie falls in love with a black girl; takes her home to his parents; has a ferocious fight; and … what?
Does he throw something off a bridge, or disappear into his girlfriend’s radio, or take out a classified ad looking for a girl who likes pina coladas?
This is the Seventies — the golden age of story-songs — and we, the audience, demand a grabbier ending than that.

No. 5: “Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?,” Dawn. Hope the people listening to WGRQ in Buffalo dug this, ’cause I sure as shit didn’t.

No. 4: “Loves Me Like A Rock,” Paul Simon and the Dixie Hummingbirds. The ‘Birds didn’t get credit on the single, I don’t think, but they get credit in this house.
I read a book about them not long ago, and this song helped them get better gigs, nicer clothes and a new van; so it’s all right with me even if I can’t buy the notion of Paul Simon fronting a gospel group.

No. 3: “Delta Dawn,” Helen Reddy. She set a record the previous week, Casey says, by becoming the sixth solo female artist to hit Number One in a calendar year.

This is my favorite Helen Reddy song, which of course ain’t saying much.
But I heard that a cappella choral intro in my head for several hours a couple of days ago — before that Junie Morrison dude chased it out.

According to Wiki, Bette Midler cut this as a single as well, but when Reddy beat her to release, Midler was forced to put out “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” as her A-side.
Reddy for the win!

Is the downtrodden, scorned, deluded Delta Dawn a metaphor for 1973 America?
Discuss.

No. 2: “We’re An American Band,” Grand Funk Railroad. The other one of the songs I used to play in that band.
I can still see Don Brewer, massive Afro rampant, barking this into a microphone while playing with overdone gestures.
And so can you!

This song would hit Number One the following week, on Mark Farner’s 25th birthday, which probably would have meant more to Mark had he written or sung the song.

And this week’s No. 1:
“Let’s Get It On,” Marvin Gaye. Usually I think this one is overdone, overplayed and overused … but y’know, I was in the mood when I heard it this time.
(In the mood for the song. Pervert.)

Hope this post was worth 90 minutes of your time.

Encore Performances: July 14, 1979: Lead me on, tease me all night long.

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On my old blog I used to listen to Casey Kasem American Top 40 countdowns and write them up, with commentary of questionable value appended to each song.

In memory of Donna Summer, then, here’s the countdown from the week ending July 14, 1979, as I heard it two summers ago.

A lot of people like to point to the infamous 1979 Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park as an emblem of America’s dissatisfaction with disco.

But, if the rioters in Chicago truly reflected a changing American mood, it took a long time for the wave to actually break, because the American Top 40 countdown for that very week was top-heavy with disco records.
There might have been a lot of people wishing for disco’s demise; but any reports of its death at that point were very much premature.

How do I know? Well, I just sat through the AT40 for the week ending July 14, 1979.
In the words of James Hetfield, it hella sucked.
But because I went to the length of writing it all down, here it is for your delectation, with the occasional favourite song in bold.

So come with me to disco’s last stand:

No. 40: Things lead off with a “dynamite little redhead,” (Casey’s words), Bette Midler with “Married Men.”
Her first hit in five years, and undistinguished disco.

A short clip of Midler singing this song was included in the long musical-guest medley in the “Saturday Night Live” 15th anniversary special in 1990, which I recorded on VHS tape and watched numerous times.
I could name most of the other tunes, but for years, I had no idea what song she was singing.

No. 39, debut: The Bellamy Brothers with “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me?”
Sounds like recycled Jimmy Buffett. I wonder if people at his concerts in 1979 asked him to play it?

No. 38, debut: Eddie Rabbitt, “Suspicions.” In which Mr. Rabbitt applies his weak falsetto to a theme more successfully explored by Dr. Hook in “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman.”
Bloodless.

Long Distance Dedication: “Always and Forever” by Heatwave, dedicated to some teenage army-brat girl who sounds like she doesn’t recognize that her best friend has a lesbian crush on her.

No. 37: For the good folks gettin’ down to WMRK in Selma, Alabama, it’s the Doobie Brothers down nine notches with “Minute by Minute.”
I loathe Michael McDonald but I give him points for a spare arrangement — sounds like there isn’t much more on this record but drums, bass, percussion, Rhodes and one other keyboard.

No. 36: Down 21, it’s Rex Smith singing “You Take My Breath Away,” which sounds like secondhand Manilow.

No. 35: Joe Jackson, “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” — To my view, this, and not “My Sharona,” was the breath of fresh attitude Top 40 radio needed in the summer of 1979.
Of course, given that I wasn’t actually listening to Top 40 radio in the summer of ’79, my opinions are completely revisionist and likely inaccurate.

(I most likely spent the week of July 14, 1979, enjoying whatever books and toys I received for turning six earlier in the month.)

No. 34 and on its way up: Robert John, “Sad Eyes.” Beats “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” I suppose.
As marshmallowy as the handling of a Ford LTD, plus an incongruously distorted guitar solo and a graceless key change.

Personally, I always liked Ford LTDs because I thought their hubcaps looked cool, kinda wreath-like.
I thought weird things.
Maybe still do.

AT40 Extra: Casey counts down the Number One hits of the ’70s. We’re in September 1974 and Andy Kim’s “Rock Me Gently” is rocking us gently. THAT’s what this dismal 1979 countdown needs — some BUBBLEGUM, or maybe a TEEN IDOL. Seriously. At least we’d have us some dumb fun.

No. 33: Wet Willie, “Weekend.” Egregious disco sellout by a journeyman Southern-rock outfit.
Like many of these songs, it is encased in a layer of studio gloss that preserves its awfulness forever, like formaldehyde.

No. 32, and laden with soggy-eyed bathos, and down 18 notches, and on its way out, and thank God for that: “Just When I Needed You Most” by Randy Van Warmer.

No. 31: Maxine Nightingale up six with “Lead Me On.” So bland, so inoffensive, so thoroughly offensive.

No. 30: James Taylor, “Up On The Roof.”
Casey discusses how James credits Carly Simon with steering him away from hard drugs and saving his life, thus allowing him to record banally pappy versions of old hit songs.
Well, OK, Casey didn’t say that; but I bet he thought it.

If this song genuinely meant anything to JT, you can’t hear it in his vocal.

No. 29: For the listeners of WACO in Waco, Texas, the Bee Gees bring “Love You Inside Out.”
Y’know, I notice that a number of Gibb-penned tunes meander a little bit.
They’re not strictly AABA in structure, nor are they intro-verse-verse-chorus-solo-chorus.
Sometimes they’ll veer off into short sections that only show up once.
But no matter what, they always make their way back to the Great Big Chorus.

No. 28: Kansas, “People of the South Wind.” This actually seems to have a little bit of rock energy — just a little bit — compared to what’s around it.
This one loses points with me, perhaps, because I don’t find the phrase “people of the south wind” particularly evocative. Sometimes a song’s value kinda rises and falls to the listener depending on whether that sort of image connects.
(“Deacon Blues” connects with my heart and imagination; “Year of the Cat” does not. Like that.)

No. 27: Anne Murray, “Shadows in the Moonlight.” (Hey, isn’t there a hyphen in the name? There isn’t on Wikipedia.)

Y’know, the loneliest man in America in the summer of 1979 must have been Joey Ramone.
It must have seemed like there was absolutely no commercial hope for music that valued heart and wit above chops.
(There wasn’t, really.)

No. 26: Barbra Streisand rides the disco train with “Fight.”
Now I’m imagining a young chart buff in 1979, one of those kids who sits by the radio writing down the Top 40 every week.
Was he sorely disappointed?
Did he listen to the radio and think, “Y’know, this is all shite, and it gets worse every month, and I could be spending my time doing something productive?”
Or did the young chart buffs of the day find something to connect to in all this dross?

I don’t.

No. 25: “The phenomenal Wings,” Casey says, with the bonanza of forced rhymes that is “Getting Closer.”
Macca shoulda done like Lennon and taken a year or two off to bake bread and change diapers.

No. 24: “Do It or Die,” Atlanta Rhythm Section.
“Once a week and you know where your favorite songs are,” Casey says.
And I reply, “I know where they are, Casey. They’re nowhere. That’s where they bloody well are.”

No. 23: Elton John, “Mama Can’t Buy You Love.” In which Elton drags his coke-addled self to Philadelphia, and Thom Bell props him up long enough to get him into the Top Ten.
A nice Philly strut to the music, but Elton’s kinda sleepwalking here, I’m afraid.

Another AT40 extra from the Number One hits of the Seventies. Olivia Newton-John, “I Honestly Love You.” Honesty is such a lonely word; everyone is so untrue.

No. 22: KISS, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You.”
My wife: “Finally.”
Me: “Something good!”

I don’t care that these clownfaces were slumming; I don’t care that Anton Fig is playing drums because the Catman is too wasted to contribute.
I like this song.
I even listen to it of my own accord from time to time.

No. 21: Poco with their second AT40 hit in nine years, “Heart of the Night.”
This song has no heart and precious little night.

On the other hand, the title fits perfectly — the heart of the night is when people sleep.

No. 20: ABBA, “Does Your Mother Know?” So rare and delightful to hear the plasticine Swedes trash-talk.

Long Distance Dedication: From a transferred minister’s wife to some teenage parishioner she left behind. One of the rare LDDs to feature a good song: Stevie Wonder’s “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,” a song that stomped most everything around it in 1973, and still did six years later.

Hey, what percentage of Long Distance Dedications do you think were actually heard by the person at whom they were aimed?

No. 19: Raydio, “Can’t Change That.” My wife said she always thought Hall and Oates sang this. OK pop-funk that might have been better in their hands.

No. 18: Gerry Rafferty, “Days Gone Down.” Not too bad. Seems to strike a thoughtful note different from the bubbleheaded tone of most of the rest of the countdown.

No. 17: “I Can’t Stand It No More,” Peter Frampton. OK record. Nothing to write home about or play 10-minute talk-box solos over.

No. 16: “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” McFadden and Whitehead. Another shot of Philly. Lyrically empty but nice and propulsive.
(Of course, you could say that about 99 percent of disco records.)

No. 15: Van Halen, “Dance The Night Away.” And people said they sold out when Sammy Hagar joined.
Of course, I’ve had trouble taking VH seriously ever since I saw St. Sanders’ awesome deconstruction of “Jump.”
Seriously — go watch it. If you never come back to this blog post, you won’t have missed anything.

No. 14: Whaddya know, it’s Dr. Hook with “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman.”
This is another of that handful of songs I remember hearing from the AM radio of my folks’ old Plymouth Satellite during long road trips.
That’s probably why I am fonder of it than it really deserves.

No. 13: Up 12, Chic with “Good Times.” Why the bold? I love the riff, and I love the production values, and I love the clams on the half-shell and roller skates!, and I love the whooshing what-the-hell-was-that? introduction.
Which, of course, Casey talked over.

Am mulling the social meaning of the line “Don’t be a drag / Participate.”
Were the ’80s a decade when we stopped listening to the cruise directors, cocooned ourselves in our houses with movies from Blockbuster, and stopped participating?
Discuss.

No. 12: For the listeners of WBGY in Tullahoma, Tennessee, it’s “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, which probably should be bolded because it’s a great production and incredibly catchy, but won’t be because I just don’t enjoy listening to it that much.

One last Number One hit of the ’70s: “Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston, October 1974. Not sure why Billy wasn’t bigger in the disco era; he had all the tools to be.

No. 11: Supertramp, “Logical Song.” Stronger truth-in-advertising laws would have compelled them to call it “Horrible Song.”

No. 10: John Stewart, “Gold.” I debated long and hard (there I go bragging again) about whether I liked this enough to bold it.
I did.
Even though Stevie Nicks kinda steals the record.
Wonder if Tim Bass is still working at that filling station?

No. 9: ELO, “Shine A Little Love.” For some reason, all of Jeff Lynne’s pet licks — the galloping guitar, the swizzling falling-star synth sounds, the falsetto backing vox — seem empty and antiseptic to me this time around.
Usually I lap them up like a cat does milk.

No. 8: Cheap Trick, “I Want You To Want Me.”
How does one go about becoming big in Japan, anyway?
What’s the music industry like over there, and how does one get known and break big?
Is payola legal?
Do they even have their own Casey — or perhaps even several Caseys?

No. 7: For the listeners of KBRE in Cedar City, Utah (where?), it’s David Naughton with “Makin’ It.”
Lockstep boogie.
For some reason, the lyrical braggadocio reminds me of the Old Spice guy. Except he’s actually entertaining.

No. 6: The Emotions and EW&F with “Boogie Wonderland.”

No. 5: Kenny Rogers, “She Believes in Me.” Not even effective as an antidote against disco.

No. 4: Rickie Lee Jones, “Chuck E.’s In Love.” Now, slurry self-referential bohemia, that can help reduce the pain of disco. Take a dose and call me in the morning.

Casey also explains the meaning of the phrase “P.L.P. with me;” it means hanging out. Isn’t that pretty much what bohemians do, unless they’re driving cross-country?

Nice groove, anyway.

No. 3: “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer, whose “Bad Girls” album was the nation’s top seller that week.

No. 2: Last week’s Number One, Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell.”
This is not a song I’ve ever heard much of anybody praise (including me — it’s repetitive and annoyingly girly.) But somebody who liked it in 1979 isn’t letting on now, because it went to the freakin’ top.

And this week’s new Number One: “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer.
That’s right, two of the nation’s top three records.

Y’know, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard much of anyone celebrate that feat, the way they do the Bee Gees’ big run in 1977-78 or the Beatles’ landslide in ’64.
(Of course, I don’t read every blog out there.)
It just seems like if a white and/or male and/or rock performer had two of the top three singles, they would be regularly revered by mainstream writers and the blogosphere alike.
I’ve never gotten that vibe about Donna Summer … if anything, it seems like people are ashamed of her chart reign.

But again, I’m not the membrane through which all public opinion must pass, so maybe people are giving Donna and Georgio Moroder their due and I’m just not hearing it.

Hey mister — beep beep!

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