Encore Performances: July 27, 1974: Havin’ my baby.

If the sodding Internet won’t work, I can always trot out one from the archives. From the old blog, August 2009:

For some reason, XM has been hitting the middle of the decade heavily in their recent AT40 rebroadcasts.
I haven’t heard a 1979 since I don’t know when.
(That’s not an entirely negative thing, I suppose, given the kinds of records that were hitting then.)

Anyway, here we have the second-to-last countdown of the Nixon Administration.
Of course my favourites will be in bold — though I gotta warn you, there won’t be that many.

No. 40: The oldest song on the countdown and a former Number One: McCartney and Wings with “Band On The Run.”
Wonder if this was the last hit single on the Apple label?
(No, actually. The invaluable ARSA site reminds me that Apple artists continued to make the charts throughout 1975.)

No. 39: Another ex-Number One playing out the string: “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods.
I still don’t get this one.

No. 38, debut: “Rub It In” by Billy “Crash” Craddock.
Somewhere, a hitless Jimmy Buffett was wishing he wrote this OK honky-tonk tune about the lubricious possibilities of suntan lotion; and any number of future good-time country stars were picking up a few tips.

No. 37: Casey comments on the “weird” and “bizarre” phenomenon of artists continuing to score hits after their deaths.
(Apparently Jim Reeves, dead a full decade, was still scoring on the country charts in 1974.)

Anyway, the song at 37 – “Workin’ At The Car Wash Blues” — gave Jim Croce more posthumous hits (five) than he had while he was alive (four.)
It’s a pretty minor song, really; there must have been a healthy dose of sentiment involved in this one scraping the Forty.
Great line about telling the boss you’re a genius, and the boss saying, “We’ve got all that we can use.”
Did Jim Croce ever work in corporate America?

No. 36: “Hang On In There,” Johnny Bristol. Narrowly avoids the curse of the spoken-word intro — it’s more like sprechgesang.

No. 35: “Come Monday,” Jimmy Buffett.
Whoops. I take back what I said up there about “hitless” — not being a Parrothead, I’d forgotten about this one.
Maudlin, lugubrious country with whining steel guitar and lonesome lyrics about spending “four days in a brown LA haze.”
He’s more likeable when he puts on the Hawaiian shirt.

No. 34: Paul Anka and Odia Coates, “Havin’ My Baby.”
You’re a woman in love and I’m glad it ain’t me carrying the load. Hey, wanna get me a beer on your way through the kitchen?

No. 33: “Hollywood Swinging,” Kool and the Gang. OK funk, and a nice change after three ballads in a row.

No. 32: The first hit by Donny and Marie, ‘I’m Leavin’ It All Up To You.”
Fresh-faced schlock that could have been played on Lawrence Welk.
Casey notes that this is the fifth different act from the Osmond family to chart — the others were Donny, Marie, Jimmy and the Osmonds.

No. 31: Helen Reddy, “You and Me Against The World.”
Were I a single parent, or the child of one, this might resonate with me.
I’m not, and it doesn’t.
I don’t care for the spoken-word intro and ending, either, just as a general rule.
Nice reference to how clowns creep out little kids, though — someone gets it.

No. 30: Andy Kim, “Rock Me Gently.” Soon to be a Number One near you.
I love the way this totally cops Neil Diamond, even down to the phrasings and enunciations like “sweet suh-ren-dah.”
Even better than the real thing.

No. 29: “You Won’t See Me,” Anne Murray. This has a nicer bass line than I have previously admitted. I can still do without it.

No. 28: Grand Funk, “Shinin’ On.” Casey notes that this was produced by Todd Rundgren, who added entirely too much echo to the vox.
I wonder if the relatively low placement of this single was what led GFR to break ranks with Rundgren.

Incidentally, the very first CD I ever bought was Grand Funk’s 1975 live album “Caught In The Act,” and the version of “Shinin’ On” on that record really pops … much more energy than the studio version.
“We are space-age sailors / We all have our failures.”

No. 27: Olivia Newton-John, “If You Love Me Let Me Know.”
For the record, I’m listening to Foster Sylvers’ “Misdemeanor” on YouTube as I type this. That really is a knockout, that one.

Casey welcomes one new station this week — the colorfully named WIOU in Kokomo, Indiana. No riffing off the call-sign from Casey.

No. 26, as lightning flashes outside my window: Lamont Dozier, “Fish Ain’t Bitin’.” OK funk with which I was unfamiliar.
Nice “Tricky Dick” lyrical reference in the second verse.
Unfortunately, in the songs-featuring-Richard-Nixon sweepstakes, this one places out of the money (trailing Bowie’s “Young Americans,” Funkadelic’s “Let’s Take It To The Stage” and Chicago’s “Song for Richard And His Friends.”)

No. 25: Three Dog Night, “Sure As I’m Sitting Here.”
Feels like a forced attempt at folksiness: “You get up, you get down / You get lost and then you get found.”

No. 24: Gene Redding, “Disheartened.”
It’s really funny when Casey starts reading the lyrics to a song, and for a moment, you think he’s just talking and doing regular DJ patter.
It’s even funnier when he says things like, “I’m revealing things I never show / There’s just no way my eager arms can say no.”
For a second I wondered what the hell he was talking about and where he was going with it … then I realized he was just reading the lyrics.

No. 23: Rufus, “Tell Me Something Good.” OK, I’m kinda tired of it, but it’s such a great groove.

No. 22: Commodores, “Machine Gun.”
For what it’s worth, keyboardist Milan Williams — who dominates this instrumental with his clavinet and synth — was not part of the Commodores lineup that performed about 15 miles from my house the other night.

No. 21: Elvis Presley, “If You Talk In Your Sleep (Don’t Mention My Name.)”
I didn’t think Elvis was still scoring many hits during this period, but he was … he just wasn’t taking them as high as he used to.
(His last Top Ten hit came two years before this countdown.)
This is an OK song; if it came on the AM radio in my Rambler Rebel I wouldn’t have turned the dial.
“Love is so much sweeter when it’s borrowed.”

During this time period, Casey would sometimes introduce the AT40 member stations by playing their on-air IDs.
We got two good ones in this countdown.
In the days of energy crises: “There’s no fuel like an old fuel. From the coal fields of southern West Virginia, this is WWNR, Beckley.”
“This is WNFL in Green Bay, Wisconsin, serving Packerland on fourteen-four-oh.”

No. 20: Bachman Turner Overdrive, “Takin’ Care of Business.”

No. 19: Wet Willie, “Keep On Smilin’.”

No. 18: Jumping up from No. 35, Jim Stafford with “Wildwood Weed.”
I am loath to admit it … but as country-fried novelty drug songs go, this one ain’t half bad.

No. 17: The Impressions, “Finally Got Myself Together.” Staples Singers-ish loose-limbed funk. Also not half bad.

No. 16: Mac Davis, “One Hell of a Woman.” Last time this showed up on a chart I blogged about its resemblance to Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” so I won’t go over it again.

No. 15: ABBA, “Waterloo.” Up three notches.
Too bad Casey talked over the first “My my.”

Ya know, I wonder what Casey’s fellow DJs thought of his jocking skills — his flow, his anecdotes, etc.
I wonder if they disdained him for working on tape.
“Aw, hell, taping a show is like playing ping-pong with the net down. You haven’t been a DJ until you’ve entertained the Tri-State Region at drive-time with both turntables broken.”

No. 14: Jumping from No. 32, Paper Lace with a future Number One, “The Night Chicago Died.”
According to legend, Richard Daley (the elder) didn’t think much of this song, and I kinda don’t either.

I do find it interesting that the lyrical perspective is explicitly from outside the U.S. (“Back in the USA / Back in the bad old days.”)
Kinda suggests a family that moved to America — say, from Ireland — and then decided to go back to the Auld Sod.
Just as I automatically assume every pop song is being sung to and from someone between the ages of 18 and 28, I just assume as a matter of course they’re being sung by Americans.
Chauvinism, I suppose.

I wonder how many of the teenies who bought this record thought all along it was based on actual events?
(If any of them are reading: It isn’t.)

No. 13: Golden Earring, “Radar Love.” A strong chart success for the Dutch group, in contrast to the shocking loss of Johan Cruyff & Co. in that month’s World Cup final.
I’d rather watch Cruyff than listen to this.

No. 12: Gladys Knight and the Pips, “On and On.”
This one grows on me the more I hear it. A nice funky change of pace from GKatP’s usual slow jams.

No. 11: Blue Magic, “Sideshow.” A spoken-word intro AND a circus theme. No, and no.

No. 10: Chicago, “Call on Me.”
Wait a minute!
I thought they died.

(OK, I know that joke was cliched back in July 1974, and it’s no fresher today. No matter — I had to make it anyway.)

With this song, trumpet player Lee Loughnane became the fifth member of Chicago to write or co-write a Top Forty hit — the others being Robert Lamm, Peter Cetera, Danny Seraphine and James Pankow.
(Terry Kath never wrote a Top 40 hit, though he sang a couple.)
That’s pretty good bench strength.
The song, meanwhile, goes from No. 27 to No. 23 to No. 10 in its first three weeks.

No. 9: Dave Loggins, “Please Come to Boston.”
I tell ya, the guy keeps asking the chick to move with him and she keeps saying no.
Self-centered biatch.

And y’know, I’ve lived in Boston (albeit not in 1974) and I wanna know: Where in Bosstown can you sell your paintings on the sidewalk?
Sounds just as fictionalized as Paper Lace’s made-up-from-thin-air “east side of Chicago.”

Wiki tells me that Dave Loggins has become a successful songwriter for other artists, including writing theme music that is played during TV broadcasts of the Masters golf tournament.
Whaddya know.

No. 8: “Rock The Boat,” Hues Corporation. One of the best rhythm tracks of all time. On its way down from Number One.
I’d like to think it relinquished the Number One spot out of politeness and a desire to let others share the glory … b/c this one could have stayed Number One until about July 1977 and it would have deserved it.

No. 7: The Hollies, “The Air That I Breathe.”
All I need is Jennifer Eccles and the air that I breathe.

No. 6: Roberta Flack, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” Languid, mellow, summery sex-funk. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

No. 5: “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” Steely Dan.
Becker and Fagen were probably laughing up their sleeves, thinking of their song getting spun at community-center dances.

No. 4: George McCrae, “Rock Your Baby.” Last week’s Number One.
A noble and funky effort, with gurgling drum machine in full effect … but not as completely boss as the record his wife cut the next year.
(Allow me to repeat: Ain’t nothing wrong with languid sex-funk.)

No. 3: Righteous Brothers, “Rock n’ Roll Heaven.”
Knowing that this was a stone’s throw from Number One is kinda like knowing that Spiro Agnew was a stone’s throw from leading our nation.
Of course, he wasn’t in July 1974, but you get my point.

No. 2: Elton John, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.”
I think the title is the best part of this song.
And yet, it topped out at No. 2 in 1974, then came back to hit No. 1 in 1992 (in the duet version with George Michael.)
So I might be in the minority in.re. this song.

Number One on the soul chart this week: “My Thang” by James Brown, who rules OK.
And Number One on the album chart: Elton John’s “Caribou.” Imagine millions of Americans savouring such Elton classics as “Stinker,” “You’re So Static” and the immortal “Solar Prestige a Gammon.”

And Number One on the pop charts for the week ending July 27, 1974:
“Annie’s Song” by John Denver.

I was just thinking about this song last week, when its melody took up residence in my head for three or four days and would not leave.
Much as I hate John Denver, I have to admit he put together a damned good pop ballad.

Incidentally, this song has been variously and hilariously co-opted by English soccer fans. Check it out.
Maybe I can banish it from my head if I think of the lyrics: “Like a night out in Sheffield / Like a greasy chip butty …”

2 thoughts on “Encore Performances: July 27, 1974: Havin’ my baby.

  1. People sell their art on the sidewalk on Newbury Street in Boston. Not outside the fancy galleries or anything, just in random spots on the sidewalk.

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