On my old blog, I used to listen to Casey Kasem’s old AT40 countdowns and then blog them. This is a representative example of those posts. I make no promises that the links still work.
Here we are in the week ending March 24, 1973.
What’s going on?
* Marvin Gaye, a few years removed from “What’s Goin’ On,” cuts the title track of his upcoming album “Let’s Get It On” in Los Angeles.
* Denny McLain is still a major-league baseball player, but only for a few more days.
He will be released by Atlanta on March 26, ending his big-league career.
Just five years earlier, he won 31 games for Detroit; just four years earlier, he led the American League in wins.
In his future are prison spells for drug trafficking, embezzlement and racketeering, though no one knows that in March 1973.
* Rock fans across the U.S. are going out to buy copies of Pink Floyd’s latest album, “Dark Side of the Moon,” released on March 17.
There is not yet any record of anyone listening to the album while watching “The Wizard of Oz.”
* Barbara Hair of Delray Beach, Fla., urges other women in her area to boycott meat during the first week of April due to its rising cost.
Hair tells the Delray Beach News-Journal she was inspired by news reports of meat boycotts in California.
The Hair family had been eating at least four days’ worth of beef a week, but Barbara Hair plans to introduce more nuts and wheat germ into the family diet, the paper reports.
The same issue of the News-Journal reports that T-bone steak is selling for $1.59 a pound and beef brisket for $1.29 a pound at the local Pantry Pride supermarket.
* Bobby Darin’s guests on the eighth episode of his NBC-TV show include Dusty Springfield and Sid Caesar.
Darin, who has roughly nine months to live, sings “Help Me Make It Through The Night” and “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.”
* The cover of Time magazine features sleepy-eyed immunologist Robert Good, along with the optimistic headline “Toward Control of Cancer.”
Inside the magazine is a review of the concert movie “Wattstax” (“The music is mostly mediocre.”)
* Five guards are held prisoner during a riot at a state prison in Moundsville, W. Va.
* The Grateful Dead wrap up a series of shows at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
The Long Island run is the Dead’s first gigs since the passing of original member Ron “Pig Pen” McKernan on March 8.
* A five-month-old male fetus in Rochester, New York, is roughly the size of a large banana.
Thirty-seven years later, he will follow an entertaining conversation on Twitter in which someone asks, “Why is the size of a child in the womb always compared to some item of food?”
On that lip-smacking note, here’s your tasty Top 40, with tartar sauce on the side and favourites in bold:
No. 40, debut: A “hillbilly from New England,” Casey says: Jud Strunk with “Daisy A Day.”
I have only the faintest memory of what this sounds like … I vaguely remember banjos.
(I am trying to cleanse my brainpan free of any remaining knowledge of this song with repeated applications of Aerosmith’s “Sight For Sore Eyes.” Disco-coke-metal. Like Colt .45, it does the trick.)
No. 39, debut: Chi-Lites, “A Letter To Myself.”
Yet another of those long introductory voice-overs … and when they finally drop the thing into first gear and start rolling it forward, it never quite catches, I don’t think.
No. 38: The “troubador from Philly,” Casey says: Jim Croce up one with “One Less Set Of Footsteps.”
“One less pair of jeans on your door”?
I never thought I was too particular … but I always looked for a chair, at least.
(Is the narrator of this song dating the chick from “Norwegian Wood”?)
For some reason, I like the line, “If that’s the way you want it, then that’s the way I want it more.”
He picked up a little attitude in Philly, I guess.
No. 37: Fourth week on, Diana Ross with the cod-jazz of “Good Morning Heartache.”
I liked it OK.
Don’t much like that florid piano part, though — it sounds like somebody pretending to play what they think is jazz.
No. 36: Judy Collins, “Cook With Honey.”
Hells to the yeah, I bolded this.
This song to me is redolent of hippie communes, and baking dark loaves of bread with big chunks of grain in it, and center-parted hair, and peasant dresses, and sunshine through oaks and maples.
I think most of the hippie movement had kinda boiled away by March of ’73 … but in places like Colorado and Vermont, there were still the hardcore, socked away in the woods … and this was what they listened to, when there was power to run the record player.
Loopy and Sesame Street-ish and … aw, man, are those ocarinas?
I give it ninety-five. It’s got a good beat and you can bake wholesomely to it.
(Read “bake” any way you want.)
No. 35: Alice Cooper, finding a marvelous ready-made cover in “Hello Hooray.”
I am amused to learn from Wiki that Judy Collins — yeah, her again — recorded this song.
Seems much more suited to, say, Lady Gaga.
No. 34: Up three, Aretha with “Master of Puppets” … er, “Eyes.”
A minor pleasure is a pleasure nonetheless.
No. 33: Barbara Mason, “Give Me Your Love.”
Curtis Mayfield’s original is better. For one thing, the overlapping Masons give me a headache.
No. 32: Sweet, “Little Willy.”
Not for me, thanks.
A minor pleasure is … well, sometimes a minor pleasure is too minor to be worth indulging in.
No. 31: Up one for the good burghers listening to KMEL in Wenatchee, Washington, it’s Bill Withers with “Kissing My Love.”
Nice thick wah-wah … now we’re cookin’ with honey!
This reminds me pleasantly of Stevie, more so than some of Withers’ other songs.
No. 30: Helen Reddy, “Peaceful.” Yes, I guess it is.
I once had a homemade cassette tape on which “Sight For Sore Eyes” cut out at the 1:40 mark, when the tape ended. Even today, whenever I hear the song, I expect it to cut out at that point.
No. 29, debut!: Donny Osmond, “The Twelfth of Never.”
I had the really unpleasant image of this being played as the first dance at a shotgun wedding of two 16-year-olds.
I need to invest in better bourbon.
No. 28: “Rocky Mountain High,” John Denver.
This one often makes me think of Boston (the city, not the band), which you’d think would be enough to earn it a bold face.
However, I am a cruel bitch.
No. 27: An ex-Number One, Elton John with “Crocodile Rock.”
Casey says it “moves down to No. 13.”
(How did he manage to make errors like that?)
We go from one wordless vocal chorus to another …
No. 26, debut!!!: War, “Cisco Kid.”
I love the lumpy Latin groove, not to mention the all-for-one-and-one-for-all choruses of “Aye-ya-yaaaaaaa.”
It should be pointed out that, in the first 15 songs this week, we have tasted samples of Latino funk (War); hippie-folk capering (J. Collins); dramatic hard rock (A. Cooper); glam (E. John and L. Willy); teen pap (D. Osmond); “jazz” (D. Ross) and soul (A. Franklin.)
That’s a pretty nice mix.
No. 25: “Do You Want To Dance?,” Bette Midler.
I like this, me.
I might even have to switch away from “Sight For Sore Eyes” for a minute to listen to it.
Whoop! The studio version ain’t on YouTube.
No. 24: “Stir It Up,” Johnny Nash.
Where was Bob Marley in March ’73? He hadn’t yet performed with the Wailers in America; he wouldn’t do that for the first time until July.
Hard to evaluate this version objectively after I’ve been brain-saturated with the Wailers’ take.
I know I don’t care for the flutes, though.
No. 23: “Big City Miss Ruth Ann,” Gallery.
No. 22: “Masterpiece,” Temptations. The beginning of this sounds like a movie soundtrack — I’m guessing to a scene in which someone is burgling an apartment.
Norman Whitfield drowned these guys in long-vamp songs for a while, it seems … where the hell’s the bridge?
No. 21: “Hummingbird,” Seals and Crofts. This is an OK song until the drums come in.
No. 20: Swear to God, they didn’t play this on the rebroadcast. Or, just maybe, it got stuck together with “Hummingbird,” and when we skipped the rest of “Hummingbird,” we missed this one too. But I’m still not sure they played it. The wife and I went back and forth several times looking for it.
Anyhow, it was David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” which I would bold, except for the fact that Bowie had gone on to make considerably better music since this one was recorded.
No. 19: “Tie A Yellow Ribbon…,” Dawn. Made a hit, no doubt, by all those Uhmurican housewives whose ol’ men were doing hard time for knocking over liquor stores.
No. 18: “Daddy’s Home,” Jermaine Jax.
No. 17: “Dead Skunk,” Loudon Wainwright III. No novelty songs, thanks.
No. 16: Vicki Lawrence, “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.”
Somewhere in Georgia, a ghost in a long black veil cries over Andy Wolloe’s bones.
No. 15: Bread, “Aubrey.” This is growing on me, this.
It still doesn’t reach the level of the next song, though:
No. 14: Spinners, “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love.”
Like Santa Claus, Thom Bell reaches once again into his sack of exquisite and brings out a winner.
Is the mention of “I’ll Be Around” the deftest lyrical reference any Top 40 act has ever made to another of its own hits?
I welcome other examples — as surely some exist — in the comments.
No. 13: Up three, Al Green with “Call Me (Come Back Home.)”
Title track to a marvelous album I haven’t heard in too long.
Great production here — everything (esp. the organ and guitar) are sort of set at a slow boil.
And that line near the end where Green jumps in and doubles himself on one word — “And somebody’s doin’ you wrong” — is delectably understated.
No. 12: For the folks digging WKEE in Huntington, W. Va., it’s the Moody Blues with “I’m Just A Singer… .”
I still think this has a sodden, Mike Curb-ish sound, like six earnest Limeys singing together in one of those big showers like they have (had?) in high-school locker rooms.
(Did you know anybody, back in the day, who would actually shower in the company of other boys? I think the swim team were the only ones at my HS who would do it. I’d rather go home scuzzy.)
No. 11: Carpenters, “Sing.”
I still associate this with “Sesame Street.”
Or, to beat the life out of that Bono/”Rattle and Hum” riff I use in, like, every third post:
“This is a song that Karen and Richard Carpenter stole from Cookie Monster, and we’re gonna steal it back.”
No. 10: The Four Tops, “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got.)”
This one’s so good, I was hoping they’d cut it in Philly; but no such luck.
Wiki, meanwhile, tells me this one was first cut by MST3K’s favourite quintet, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds.
(This was on an album that also featured a song called “Like Monday Follows Sunday,” which makes me think, uncomfortably, of Rebecca Black.)
No. 9: Stylistics, “Break Up to Make Up.”
Not as great as some of their others, but it tells a story … and haven’t we all known couples like this?
No. 8: Anne Murray, “Danny’s Song.”
Would I rather hear “Danny’s Song” or “Daniel”?
Actually, I’d rather have Danny Torrance come after me screeching, “REDRUM!”
No. 7: Down five, “Dueling Banjos.”
From the number-one album in the country.
For three weeks.
People loved this so much, they were willing to shell out in large numbers for the nine or ten other tracks tacked onto it?
(Banjoist Eric Weissberg would follow this up with an album called “Rural Free Delivery,” which peaked at No. 196.)
No. 6: Dr. Hook, “Cover of the Rolling Stone.”
Anyone who can take the piss out of country-rock, he-man guitar solos and Jann Wenner, all at the same time, has my backing.
Plus, they sound like Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
(Or vice versa, I suppose.)
No. 5: Edward Bear, “Last Song.” Seems to me this should have peaked around No. 31 or so.
No. 4: Gladys Knight and the Pips, “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First to Say Goodbye).”
Yeah, the soul records are really propping this countdown up.
(Wiki tells me that country singer Bob Luman had a big hit with this around the same time; I’m gonna have to YouTube that.)
No. 3: “Also Sprach Zarathusra,” Deodato.
An inspired bit of tomfoolery from some mystic place where Munich and Memphis meet.
Casey helpfully mentions that the Berlin Philharmonic hit No. 90 with this in 1970.
Somehow, I don’t think they had the popping congas, or the mellow electric piano, or the rolling groove.
No. 2: A former Number One for four weeks, Roberta Flack with “Killing Me Softly.”
Oh, the suspense … will Number One be another killer soul song, or another lightweight piece of honky pop?
No. 1: … and good triumphs over evil:
The O’Jays, “Love Train.”
Suffused with joy, spirit and forward momentum.