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

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.

2 thoughts on “Encore Performances: June 19, 1976: The small screen.

  1. From my post as the Internet’s leading 1976 obsessive, let me add that the missing #34 is the very fine “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop, and “Got to Get You Into My Life” was a single from the “Rock and Roll Music” Beatles compilation, which came out that summer because, well, nobody knows.

  2. This countdown played on SiriusXM’s 70s on 7 today! I think this may be the countdown with the most TV theme songs ever: “Kotter”, “Baretta”, “Happy Days”, “Laverne and Shirley”

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