From the old blog, November 2010.
Yeah, it took me a bunch of weeks to get around to this one; and it might or might not have been worth it.
But I haven’t blogged a countdown in a while, so here we are.
A little history for the week ending Nov. 5, 1977:
* Time magazine’s cover story discusses the “War on Terrorism,” with a picture of a hijacked Lufthansa plane.
Inside are stories about energy conservation, radioactive sludge left over from fuel processing, and epidemics of arson.
Meanwhile, Maurice Lucas of the Portland Trail Blazers glowers from the cover of Sports Illustrated.
And Donny and Marie appear on the cover of People magazine, with a caption noting that 18-year-old Marie has “sexed up her TV image.”
(In the picture, the teenage sexpot wears an L.L. Bean-approved plaid blouse. Not exactly Miley Cyrus territory.)
* Swing bandleader and hydroplane boat-racing champion Guy Lombardo dies on Long Island at age 75.
Elsewhere in New York state, a young boy turns exactly four years and four months old on the day Lombardo dies.
When he grows up, Lombardo will seem as much a sepia-toned icon of an older generation as Eddie Cantor.
In the young lad’s era, New Year’s Eve will belong to Dick Clark.
* Campaigning is wrapping up for municipal elections to be held Nov. 8 all over the country.
Polls (correctly) show Ed Koch with a solid lead over Mario Cuomo and Roy Goodman in the race to become New York City’s next mayor.
Another significant race happens in San Francisco, where voters will elect Harvey Milk as the first openly gay elected official in any major U.S. city.
* There is no “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 5. Charles Grodin hosts the Oct. 29 “Saturday Night Live” with Paul Simon as musical guest.
Notable events include a guest appearance by Art Garfunkel and the introduction of Gilda Radner’s Roseanne Roseannadanna character.
* Ground beef (not less than 75 percent lean, and ground fresh several times daily) is 69 cents a pound at Ken’s IGA in Hawarden, Iowa.
* With the baseball season over, a new crop of players are declared free agents. Big names who start shopping for a 1978 contract include Lyman Bostock, Dave Kingman, Doc Medich and Richie Zisk.
* The expansion Seattle Seahawks, who have won only three times in their first 20 games, lay a 56-17 licking on the Buffalo Bills.
Seahawks wideout Steve Largent catches four passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
(Seventeen years later to the week, Largent will be elected to the U.S. Congress.)
On the countdown, Casey notes that this is the first time in 23 weeks that Andy Gibb’s “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” is not on the Forty.
What is on the Forty?
These tunes — with favourites in bold as always.
No. 40: Debuting with what Casey calls “what may well be the most unusual hit of their career,” the Carpenters with “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.”
(Naw, Case. You think this is unusual?)
This was a Number One hit in Ireland a couple of weeks later, Wiki sez. Gotta love that.
This song is also notable as the mysterious Klaatu‘s closest brush with the pop mainstream (they wrote it.)
No. 39, debut: England Dan and John Ford Coley, “Gone Too Far.” This is the first time I’ve ever been listening to a single and wishing I was hearing “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” instead.
No. 38, debut: Leo Sayer, “Thunder In My Heart.” Another song I’d totally forgotten existed. Featuring big strings, unconvincing drama and some out-of-place gravel in wee Leo’s voice.
No. 37: For the good folks listening to WLSD in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, it’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” another breezy foredeck adventure from Jimmy Buffett.
My wife points out that every Jimmy Buffett song she knows involves a significant reference to food and drink; and indeed, one need look no further than the first verse here.
No. 36, debut: James Taylor, “Your Smiling Face,” prefaced with a story from Casey about how JT’s mom once got stung 100 times on the face by bees.
More faded-jeans breeziness, only from the Vineyard rather than Key West, and scented with beach plums rather than fried conch.
No. 35, debut: Paul Simon, “Slip Slidin’ Away.” Argh — the soft-singin’ poets laureate of Key West, Martha’s Vineyard and Manhattan all in a row.
I have never been a big fan of all that business about “the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip-slidin’ away.”
It reminds me of that mock-profound Steve Miller “time keeps on slippin’ into the future” bidniss.
I have also noted in the past that the best Paul Simon singles rely on somebody else’s contribution to lend them spark. Apparently no one stepped up for this one; it’s just another mellow Rhodes bath.
No. 34: Paul Davis, “I Go Crazy.” The mellowfest continues, although I consider this one significantly better-written, -sung and -produced than what’s around it.
No. 33: Seals and Crofts, “My Fair Share.”
I liked the first line — “Lost as a child’s first ball” — until I imagined Seals and Crofts sitting dirty and forgotten in the shade underneath a front porch.
No. 32: Styx, “Come Sail Away.”
How long until Styx attain the same sort of cheesy so-lame-they’re-cool status that Journey has?
Dennis DeYoung’s straight-faced dramatic delivery is at least as ripe for irony as Steve Perry’s overheated howl.
No. 31: “Surfin’ USA,” Leif Garrett.
In late ’77, mainstream America was in the last throes of its weren’t-the-Beach-Boys-wonderful? phase.
I’m hoping that’s what accounts for the popularity of this carbon-copy cover.
No. 30: Fleetwood Mac, “You Make Loving Fun.”
Christine McVie’s best? Maybe.
I like the way the swampy boogie of the verses gives way to a soaring harmony-based reverie on the choruses.
From the album that marked its 26th week at Number One this week. It would spend five more weeks at Number One for a total of 31 — tied for third-most ever, and the most for any album released in the Seventies.
You know which album.
No. 29: Linda Ronstadt, “It’s So Easy.” Linda is already growling by the second line of the song, another example of her hit-it-again-it’s-still-breathing approach to pop vocal delivery.
I do find the hooks on this one more pleasing than some of her other stuff, though.
(Not that she wrote said hooks, of course.)
No. 28: Barry Manilow, “Daybreak.” Yet another Manilow single that, in delivery and sonic ambience, sounds like it’s an original cast recording from a Broadway production.
Barry’s ninth Top Forty hit.
No. 27: Down eight spots, Johnny Rivers with “Swayin’ To The Music,” his last Top Ten hit, and a perfectly OK example of gentle late-Seventies gold even if I don’t really like it that much.
No. 26: The Babys bringing the pre-emo urgency with “Isn’t It Time.” The middle parts of this are about as close as this countdown has come to hard rock, which says a fair amount.
No. 25: A “pretty lady,” Casey says, singing an honest-to-God Broadway show tune:
Judy Collins with “Send In The Clowns.”
Wonder how many Broadway songs crossed over to the Forty in the rock era?
Wish I could write in and find out.
No. 24: Peter Frampton, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
Not sure if I should chastise him for covering Stevie Wonder, or congratulate him on having impeccable taste.
Not a patch on the original, anyway.
No. 23: Eric Carmen, “She Did It.”
It’s weird to hear the Beach Boys singing on a song that isn’t irresistible.
Kinda like finding frosting on an English muffin.
If this song wasn’t included in a bad Seventies movie, it should have been.
No. 22: Dave Mason, “We Just Disagree.”
OK, I don’t really like this all that much; I’m bolding it because I think it’s a pretty good song, and I think Mason nails it.
No. 21: Brick, “Dusic.”
Clockwork chromatic funk, but still: This is the first time on this entire countdown I’ve shaken my arse.
No. 20: Ronnie McDowell, “The King Is Gone.”
Acc. to Wiki, McDowell recently released a duet with Bill Medley titled “Lost in Dirty Dancing.”
So kind of him to pay tribute to Patrick Swayze like that.
No. 19: For the folks listening to KTAM in Bryan, Texas, it’s Peter Brown with “Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me?”
Nice of you to ask, but no, not really.
No. 18: Little River Band with “Help Is On Its Way,” an OK if somewhat Foreigner-ish bit of pop from the “Diamantina Cocktail” album.
(Casey explains that a “diamantina cocktail,” in Australia, involves rum, cream and an emu egg. I thought someone was having him on … but Wiki confirms those are, indeed, the ingredients.)
No. 17: Speaking of the devil, it’s Foreigner with “Cold As Ice.”
Three hours once a week, and you know where your favorite dusic is.
No. 16: Five-foot-two, 100-pound Linda Ronstadt again, this time with “Blue Bayou.”
No. 15: KC and The Sunshine Band, dropping out of the Top Ten after seven weeks, with “Keep It Comin’ Love.”
A brainless brassy strut in the finest KC tradition.
But doesn’t the chorus sound like he’s singing, “Keep it common-law, keep it common-law”?
No. 14: Firefall, “Just Remember I Love You.” This is just dying to be covered by the new generation of “country” singers.
No. 13: Rita Coolidge, “We’re All Alone.”
Some unusually melodic writing from Boz Scaggs.
I like it.
No. 12: Meco, “Star Wars Theme.”
This is not the dusic you’re looking for.
I think they should have overdubbed that ever-present light-saber and laser-pistol sound effect on every song on the countdown, just for laughs.
I’m already giggling thinking of “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” overlaid by a nonstop layer of stroob! stroob! stroob!
No. 11: Bee Gees with a future Number One, “How Deep Is Your Love.”
You know the song; there’s not much I need to say about it.
No. 10: Casey announces that the artist at Number 10 will be co-starring with the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton in an upcoming film adaptation of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
And don’t you imagine that sent a frisson of expectant joy through the hearts of teenagers everywhere listening to the countdown?
Anyway, it’s Paul Nicholas with the thoroughly disposable “Heaven On The Seventh Floor.”
No. 9: Chicago, “Baby What A Big Surprise.”
McCartneyish in all the right ways.
Casey quotes trombonist James Pankow as saying that he can go to McDonald’s and not get bothered. Then, Casey says all the original members of the band are millionaires.
Dude, when I make my first million off rock’n’roll, I’m damned if I ever set foot in another Mickey D’s.
Unless it’s Shamrock Shake season, of course.
No. 8: Crystal Gayle, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”
Wonder what’s Number One on the Dusic chart this week?
No. 7: For the folks listening to WKMX in Enterprise, Alabama, it’s Donna Summer with “I Feel Love.”
In which Donna goes to Germany (West, natch) and updates her sound with some chugging motorized Reichdusik.
No. 6: The Number One soul record for pretty much the entire month of October:
Barry White, “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me.”
I was surprised to learn from Wiki that Barry didn’t write this — I thought he wrote all his stuff.
No matter — he slipped off its silky underthings and made it his own.
No. 5: Commodores, “Brick House.” Featuring the twangy vox of drummer Walter Orange; I wonder if Lionel Richie appears on it at all.
This song’s subsequent use in any number of ironic pop-culture settings does not make it any less funky.
No. 4: Shaun Cassidy with “That’s Rock n’ Roll,” written, of course, by Eric Carmen. Yes, fall 1977 was a good time to be Eric Carmen.
It’s gotta be rock’n’roll dusic, if you wanna dance with me.
No. 3: Heatwave with the bland, brainless “Boogie Nights.”
No. 2: “Nobody Does It Better,” Carly Simon.
Remember when I nominated “Live and Let Die” as the best Bond theme?
Well, I was full of it.
This one soars like James Bond flying off the cliff on his skis.
I also like the artful double entendre of “Like heaven above me / The spy who loved me.”
Unfortunately, it would never get to Number One thanks to:
No. 1: “You Light Up My Life,” Debby Boone, in its fourth week at Number One. It would stay there for six more weeks.
What were you thinking, 1977?