Encore Performances: March 13, 1971: I’ll try my best to make everything succeed.

My trick bag is still empty so I’ll bring out something that ran in March 2011 on the old blog.

No sooner do I declare 1971 my least favorite year of the Seventies than Casey Kasem (or, rather, Sirius/XM) takes me right back there.
Well, what the hell, it’s always a fun ride.

Here’s what was going on the week ending March 13, 1971:

* The Allman Brothers record shows at the Fillmore East for a live album that will become a foundation document of what a jam-band live album is supposed to sound like.

* Also in New York City, Joe Frazier deals Muhammad Ali his first professional loss in the “Fight of the Century.”

* The cover of Time magazine features a mock-needlepoint illustration of a story titled “Suburbia: A Myth Challenged.
The magazine, which put James Taylor on its cover just two weeks before, devotes its music coverage this week to the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Big Band and a host of reissues of classical recordings.

* “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which has only a few months to live, hosts an“Armed Forces Music Festival” featuring military fife-and-drum groups; a barbershop quartet from the Air Force; the U.S. Army Drill Team; and a cameo appearance by General William Westmoreland.

* Prominent deaths this week include two names from the sepia-toned past — TV pioneer and all-around inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, and silent film star Harold Lloyd.

* Also dying is former Boston Braves pitcher Bill James, one of the great one-year wonders in baseball history.
In 1914, his second season in the bigs, the 22-year-old James went 26-7 with a 1.90 ERA for the upset World Series champion Braves.
He capped his year by throwing a two-hit shutout at the Philadelphia A’s in Game 2 of the World Series, then pitching two innings of hitless relief to win Game 3.
James would play only 15 games in the big leagues after 1914, recording only five more wins.

* “THX 1138,” director George Lucas’ first feature-length film, is released.

* Suzy Furlong of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, writes to the Cedar Rapids Gazette to protest the pre-empting of regular TV programming by a broadcast of the state girls’ basketball tournament.
Mrs. Furlong adds that the sport is “totally boring to watch,” and says that she would never allow her daughter to participate in “such a ridiculously un-feminine sport.”

* The twelfth issue of National Lampoon features Michael O’Donoghue’s oft-reproduced essay “How To Write Good,” as well as “The Mantovani Strain,” a hilarious-sounding parody of “The Andromeda Strain” that, regrettably, has not been so often reproduced.

There would be more than a little of the Mantovani Strain infecting this week’s countdown … but here it is, with the occasional favourite in bold ’cause we’re not total cranks:

No. 40, debut: James Brown, “Soul Power.”
Casey executes a little fancy footwork in his talkup, leaving room for the Godfather to interject “Huh!” in between words.
Nicely done.

As for the song, well, it’s got the Collins brothers and Fred Wesley, so it has to be at least moderately killer.

No. 39, debut: “One Toke Over The Line,” Brewer & Shipley. Another classic example of two back-to-back AT40 hits that were almost certainly never played back-to-back by anyone but Casey.
I like the way B&S’s voices work together; too bad they had even less to say than America.

No. 38, debut: Fifth Dimension, “Love’s Lines, Angles and Rhymes.”
I actually kinda warmed to this, particularly the Marilyn McCoo lead vocal.
Can’t get past all that nonsense about “touching the fibers / of feelings inside you,” though.
As Pedro Bell put it: “Too much concept.”

No. 37: For the good folks rockin’ out with WKNX in Saginaw, Michigan, it’s Rufus Thomas with “Do the Push and Pull (Part 1).”
This is really thirty seconds of song stuffed into a three-minute bag, I’m afraid.

No. 36, debut: Paul McCartney, “Another Day.”
I always kinda wrote this off based on its verse, which I find trivial and kind of annoying.
Listened a little harder this time, and I have to admit the bridge section (“so sad”) is spicier and more interesting, lyrically and musically, than the verse.
But of course, two days after hearing the countdown, the verse is the part I remember.
Go know.

And hey, Macca, how come the main chick’s path to happiness is defined by finding and keeping the right man?
Couldn’t she find fulfillment working as Anna Wintour’s assistant or something?

No. 35: “Burning Bridges,” Mike Curb Congregation.
I know people of otherwise sound taste who enjoyed this one in ’71; I don’t see it myself.
Never been a big fan of choirs, for one thing.

(I am reminded of a great line from Robert Christgau, who wrote that Funkadelic “made the Ohio Players look like the Mike Curb Congregation.”)

No. 34: Johnnie Taylor, “Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone.”
A dark, repetitive backstabber that apparently has its roots in a U.S. Army marching chant, which I didn’t know until Chris Stufflestreet at’70s Music Mayhem wrote about it. (RIP, Chris.)

No. 33: Cat Stevens, “Wild World.”
Just about bolded this one; as obnoxious as some of the words are, I like the music.
(“Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear” is not the tenderest farewell I’ve ever heard.)

This was later covered in my teenage years, circa 1990, by some worthless poodlehead band or another.
Mr. Big, maybe?

No. 32, debut: B.J. Thomas, “No Love At All.”
Reminds me of the Velvets’ “Some Kinda Love,” which goes a step beyond Thomas’ assertion that “any kind of love is better than no love at all” and posits that “no kinds of love are better than others.”

As for the claim that even bad love is better than no love, that makes me think of people slapping each other around.
I gotta stop trying to read meaning and significance into these three-minute pop singles.

No. 31: Francis Lai, “Theme From ‘Love Story.’ ” Not even my favourite version of this. But the good news is, I’ve got two more to choose from.

No. 30: Aretha, “You’re All I Need To Get By.”
Starts slow but gets better as both Aretha and the band build steam.

No. 29: A song written 200 years ago by a slave trader, Casey says in a reverent hush:
“Amazing Grace” by Judy Collins.

No. 28: Van Morrison, “Blue Money.”
An agreeable front-room bash-around, featuring a special appearance by the trumpeter from down the pub.

No. 27: Bobby Goldsboro, “Watching Scotty Grow.”

No. 26: Down six, Dave Edmunds with the sparse, distilled boogie of “I Hear You Knockin’.”
That single piano chord is an inspired pop touch — the kind of thing that makes a good record.

No. 25: Santana with the distinctly loungey “Oye Como Va.” Nice enough solo from Carlos, though.

No. 24: Up eight, Chicago with “Free.”
Drummer Danny Seraphine, who studied for a time with bebop drummer Jo Jones, rips himself off a piece here.
Always loved the guitar-and-drum sparring on this one.
Not sure what got into our otherwise laid-back heroes on this one … perhaps, in Jim Bouton-speak, their greenies kicked in.

No. 23: Andy Williams with the theme from “Love Story” again.
My wife and I looked at each other at the start and crooned, “Wheeeeere doooo I begiiiiin?
Then we fell silent.
And I looked into her eyes and said, “Love means never having to know the words.”

No. 22: Lynn Anderson, “Rose Garden.”

No. 21: “Knock Three Times,” Dawn. Fifteenth week on.
This is almost starting to grow on me, though I still say the lyrical hook is a little bit gimmicky for my taste.

No. 20: Grass Roots, “Temptation Eyes.”
Pretty good chorus; and it does capture at least some of that teenage feeling of being messed-up in love with someone who’s jerking you around.
Not that I’d really know, never having been in such a relationship; but anyhow.

No. 19: “What Is Life?,” George Harrison.
Satisfying pop-rock that the thousand-ton weight of Phil Spector cannot derail.
Also a song that works just as well without the whiff of Krishna floating around it … I actually found it possible to listen to the chorus and think it was about a her, rather than a Him.

No. 18: Up 11 spots, Marvin Gaye with “What’s Going On.” Not quite in the mood for this, I guess.

No. 17: For the kiddies in the pizzerias and roller rinks of Manchester, New Hampshire, listening in on WKBR, it’s Wilson Pickett with “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You.”
Swinging gold from Philly, with subtle Hammond organ and tasty guitar.
I imagine it made even March in New Hampshire seem warmer and brighter for three minutes.

I had no idea there was a hit country version of this a couple years later. Relive the Nashville-tinged glory here.

No. 16: An actor who’s had three TV shows canceled, but gets more and more popular: Bobby Sherman with “Cried Like A Baby.”
I’m now imagining a duet between Bobby Sherman and Wilson Pickett … like “For All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” … or even “Cried Like A Baby.”
Wouldn’t that have been great?

Casey plays an album cut from Janis Joplin’s “Pearl,” the top-selling album in the country.
It’s the instrumental “Buried Alive In The Blues.”
Man, that was a tight band. Why didn’t someone else hire them?

No. 15: Sammi Smith, “Help Me Make It Through The Night.”

No. 14: Wadsworth Mansion, “Sweet Mary.”
OK chorus; a pleasant if apparently misplaced blast of funk; and sufficient cowbell.
Sure, why not.

No. 13: Henry Mancini with the damn theme from “Love Story” again.
Why did America demand this one and Francis Lai’s?

No. 12: “Mr. Bojangles,” Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Always seemed kinda maudlin to me.

No. 11: Jerry Reed, “Amos Moses.” Shit’s getting worse and worse.

No. 10: “If You Could Read My Mind,” Gordon Lightfoot. Down five. The voice is always welcome, no matter what metaphors it’s dishing out about ghosts in chains or whatever.

No. 9: Up six, the Partridge Family with “Doesn’t Anybody Want To Be Wanted?”
A spoken voiceover. O boy!
Sounds like he’s reading it off a piece of paper.
And y’know, going downtown looking for someone who wants to be wanted can get you handcuffed to a park bench if you’re not careful.

No. 8: Up three, Creedence with “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”
So simple, so eloquent, so unforced. These guys (to paraphrase George Costanza) made great singles as if it were a bodily function.

And to top it off, Casey gives us both sides of CCR’s double-sided hit. The other side? “Hey Tonight,” which chugs along like a motorcycle.
Is the Jody who’s gonna get religion all night long the same guy who got your girl and gone about 20 records ago?

No. 7: Up five, Ike and Tina with “Proud Mary.”
They can do it any way they want — easy, rough or in between — as long as Tina’s up front.
(But did they really need to have Ike singing on the intro?)

No. 6: Down four, the Jax 5ive with “Mama’s Pearl.”
An exquisite pop production, and Michael rips it up.
Pretty close.

No. 5: Tom Jones, “She’s A Lady.” Fourth week on and already up to lofty heights.
Saying your little lady is “never in the way” seems like damning with faint praise, but maybe that’s just me.

No. 4: Tempts, “Just My Imagination.”
I hope Berry Gordy went out and bought Motown’s staff arrangers new Lincolns after some of these hits they worked on.

No. 3: Up four, it’s the Carpenters singing “For All We Know” for the folks digging WJTO in Bath, Maine.

No. 2: Casey near-whispers some critical flackery about Janis Joplin’s “whiskey-soaked voice” before playing “Me and Bobby McGee.”

Two ideas for a follow-up:
— While answer songs are usually Cheese City, some folkish troubadour could probably write a good song telling Bobby’s side of the story.

— Someone could write (and indeed, someone probably has) a 500-word post just on Janis’ vocal treatment of the word “McGee.”

And for the fifth week in a row:
No. 1: The Osmonds, “One Bad Apple.”
Almost bolded it — it’s pretty great as bubblegum goes.

Going to bed now.

Encore Performances: Jan. 30, 1971: The higher the price, the nicer the nice.

From the old blog, February 2011. For all I know, this could be the AT40 countdown waiting in the memory of my wife’s satellite radio unit as I type this. Let’s hope not.

So here we are in another of those weeks (Jan. 24-30, 1971) that predates my existence on Earth, and about which I know very little.

Except the following events:

* William G. Wilson dies at 75 in Miami.
Following his death, he is publicly identified as “Bill W.,” one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.
According to legend, Wilson requested whiskey in the final days of his life, and was refused by those around him.

* “The Ed Sullivan Show” features pop singer B.J. Thomas; jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk; comedian Godfrey Cambridge; and Baltimore Colts placekicker Jim O’Brien, who a week before had kicked the winning field goal in Super Bowl V.

* Despot Idi Amin takes power in a military coup in Uganda.

* The R.A. Moog Co. of Trumansburg, N.Y., ships the 13th through 15th examples of its Model D synthesizer, sometimes called “the first synthesizer for musicians.
Buyers for the keyboards shipped this week include the Ampeg instrument company and engineer Daniel Flickinger.
Later that spring, Model Ds will be shipped to electronic music pioneers Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause.

* Minnesota Vikings star Jim Marshall, Minneapolis newspaper columnist Jim Klobuchar and Hugh Galusha, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, are among a group of snowmobilers stranded in the open by a ferocious snow and wind storm in Montana.
Galusha dies of exposure; the other members of the party are rescued. (Marshall later reports that he burned the money from his wallet to keep warm.)

* The cover of Time magazine is a stark yellow-and-black portrait of the Berrigan brothers, “Rebel Priests.”
Inside is an article called “Beatledammerung,” reviewing John Lennon’s recent expansive interviews with Rolling Stone magazine.

* The New York Mets sign a 19-year-old Puerto Rican outfielder named Benny Ayala to a minor-league deal.
Ayala will go on to play parts of 10 years in the bigs.
In 1982, a young baseball card collector in upstate New York will pull Ayala’s card from a pack and be impressed; the card seems to show the compact violence of a baseball swing better than most cards in his collection.

Nice hack, Benny.

And now the Forty already, with favourites in bold:

No. 40, debut: Little Sister, “Somebody’s Watching You.”
A female singing group, indeed featuring Sly Stone’s little sister; produced by him, also; and resuscitating a Family Stone album track.
Love that phlegmy Sly Stone bass.
And that paranoid chorus: “Somebody’s watching you” — who? To what end?

No. 39: Jackie Moore, “Precious, Precious.” OK, unassuming, loping soul.

No. 38: Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, “Tears of a Clown.”
This is why humans make music.
Times are weird for Motown in ’71 but don’t count ’em out yet.

(How many teens in ’71 understood who Pagliacci was?)

No. 37: Liz Damon’s Orient Express, from Honolulu, with “1900 Yesterday.”
Formerly Number One at Honolulu’s aptly named radio station, KPOI.

Was this the first Hawaiian artist to hit the Forty?
I can think of at least one who’s been more successful — and it’s probably not who you think, unless you’re a pop-music trivia junkie.
(We do get a few of those ’round these parts.)

No. 36: Rufus Thomas, “Push and Pull.” Kind of bland, and not much to it.
But you know what? Pop music — then and now — needs more songs in which the narrator declares, “I got a brand-new dance,” as though that were an important enough proclamation to elbow aside Smokey Robinson for three minutes.

(I am reminded of Wilson Pickett’s “Soul Dance Number Three,” on which the Wicked Pickett announces he has no fewer than three new dances to do for us. Now that’s value for money.)

No. 35: James Brown, “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved.”
Drinking game: Take a shot every time James uses the exclamation “Wait!”
You’ll be doing splits and knee-drops in no time — though you might have a little trouble getting back up.

No. 34: For the folks listening to KIMN in Denver, it’s Redeye with “Games.”
I still insist this sounds like a CSNY cop, though without the self-importance, so they’ve got that going for them.

No. 33, debut: Bread, “Let Your Love Go.”
The usual from Bread — catchy but kinda wimpy.
Hey, anyone out there ever own a Bread LP?
I am starting to think that an entire album of Bread might be packed with enough hooks to redeem all the earnestness.
Am I right?

No. 32: Van Morrison, “Domino.” Ninth week on.
The chorus is essentially nonsense — no declarations of love, or hate, or peace, or war — but it works so well, how often have you ever given it any thought?

No. 31: A guy who commutes from Nashville to El Lay, Jerry Reed with “Amos Moses.”
Country shtick.

No. 30: Down two, Three Dog Night with “One Man Band.” These guys never completely disappoint, and they don’t on this one, but it’s not up with their best.

No. 29: Down 15, “River Deep Mountain High,” Supremes and Four Tops. Didn’t listen; maybe should have.

No. 28: Up eight, Gordon Lightfoot, “If You Could Read My Mind.”
Do drugstores still sell paperback novels?
And d’ya think there was an AM radio somewhere on the Edmund Fitzgerald — like in the galley or someplace — that allowed the crew members to hear this as they went about their work?

No. 27: “Pay To The Piper,” Chairmen of the Board.
Hey, is “be nice to me” in this song basically the equivalent of “sleep with me because I spent money on you”?
(I’m full of questions this week. There are no easy answers on this countdown, m’lud.)

No. 26: “Amazing Grace,” Judy Collins. Misspelled on the original cue sheet as “Amazing Grance.”
No Christianity on my countdowns, thanks, unless it’s served up by Scottish bagpipers.

No. 25: Bobby Goldsboro, “Watching Scotty Grow.” As the father of two young boys, I should probably have some shred of appreciation for this song.
But, no.

No. 24: For the folks listening to KTSA in San Antonio, it’s Chicago with “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”
(Hey, now. I ask the questions on this countdown.)
Early Robert Lamm at his finest.

No. 23: Ray Price, “For The Good Times.”
I keep listening to this, and keep trying to like it, but it ain’t happening.

No. 22: Elvis Presley (who uses karate onstage, Casey tells us), with “I Really Don’t Want To Know.”
Waltz-time country soul; I wrote “pretty nice” at the time, but I can’t barely hear the song in my head now.

No. 21: Supremes, “Stoned Love.”
What would Sly have done with this song?
Down nine.

No. 20: Six weeks on, it’s Runt with “We Gotta Get You A Woman.”
Hard to believe Rundgren would be wearing spangly outfits and playing 30-minute prog-rock suites just three years later.

I’ve never known any Leroys, by the way — except for the small town back home that gave the world Jell-O.
But this song and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” suggests there were a lot more Leroys kicking around in the ’70s.

For the record, the online Baby Name Wizard reports that the name Leroy went from the 53rd most popular American male name in the 1920s, to 133rd in the 1950s, to 251st in the 1970s.
(I’m not linking to it b.c it crashed my browser once, and almost did twice. Sod that.)

No. 19: Diana Ross, “Remember Me.” If it ain’t “Upside Down” or the theme from “Mahogany,” I don’t really wanna hear it that much.

No. 18: Up 13 slots, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with “Mr. Bojangles.”
This has always seemed mawkish to me; maybe I should give it another listen and try to be fairer.

No. 17: Up 5, Rare Earth with “Born To Wander.”
“Ramblin’ Man” did it better.

No. 16: Led Zep, “Immigrant Song.”
Since I always think of Top 40 songs as the soundtracks to people’s lives, I enjoy imagining the berserker howl of “Ah-ah-ahhhhhhhh, ah!” ringing out over dances at a Catholic high school in Paramus, New Jersey.

No. 15: Partridge Family, “I Think I Love You.”
Shirley Jones defines her role as the Linda McCartney of the Partridge Family, chiming in with barely audible “I think I love you”‘s.
Her involvement is so minimal, I wonder why they bothered?

Casey plays an extra: Percy Faith’s “Theme from ‘A Summer Place.'” Hey, this song actually has a bridge and stuff. I had no idea! You go, Percy.

No. 14: Up one, Steve Stills with “Love The One You’re With.” Shallow hippie krap.

No. 13: Nine weeks on, it’s Perry Como with “It’s Impossible.”
It is distinctly possible that I would rather hear this tune than “Love The One You’re With,” though in a perfect world I would hear neither.

No. 12: Santana, “Black Magic Woman.” They never play “Gypsy Queen,” but I’ve ranted about that before.
In the pre-Nicksingham days, this is the closest that either Fleetwood Mac or Peter Green would get to the Forty.
(Shame about Peter Green, by the way. That guy could stone play.)

No. 11: Up two, Gladys Knight and the Pips, “If I Were Your Woman.”
Soulful and yearning.
And the line “You beg her to love you / But me you don’t ask,” in Gladys’ hands, always hits like Benny Ayala’s baseball bat.

No. 10: Down four, the very first Barbra Streisand song I have ever liked, “Stoney End.”
Officially this week’s crave-song — I’ve been listening to it continuously as I type this in.

A worthy entry in the full-lunged, piano-driven period genre — descended from Sixties Brill Building pop, but more adult — that I sometimes think of as New York Jewish soul (in deference to practitioners like Laura Nyro, Carole King and, in this case, Barbra.)

Speaking of songwriters descended from the Twelve Tribes, 1971 was also the year that Barbra covered a tune by two unknown New York youngsters named Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
It was merely an album track, alas.

No. 9: Up TWENTY-FIVE places, the Osmonds with “One Bad Apple.”
I probably shouldn’t have bolded this … but I guess it does deserve to walk the same hallowed ground as the first few Jax 5ive singles.

No. 8: Elton John, “Your Song.”
A British news source (I think it was The Scotsman) ran a great headline the day after Elton and his partner announced the birth of their first baby boy:
“And You Can Tell Everybody This Is Your Son.”

Is that an upright bass I hear? Five points for those.

No. 7: Two weeks ago No. 31, last week No. 16: Dave Edmunds, “I Hear You Knockin’.”
Spare and somewhat dour, but I love the twangy, minimalist boogie.
A U.K. Christmas Number One in the days (I think) before that became a massively fought-over honour.

I have a CD of Smiley Lewis stuff, BTW; I like Edmunds’ version better than Smiley’s original, which is pretty firmly in a Fats Domino bag.

No. 6: Number One soul, King Floyd with — UHHHHHH! — “Groove Me.”
Eight years later, almost exactly to the week, the Blues Brothers’ “Briefcase Full of Blues” album — featuring a version of “Groove Me” — hit Number One on the U.S. album charts.
I like the BBs’ version, but I like this one better.

Produced by one of the great names in pop music, Wardell Quezergue, also known as the “Creole Beethoven.”
G’wan: Argue with that.

No. 5: Up four, Lynn Anderson with “Rose Garden.” I wrote something about this but can’t read it. No great loss.

No. 4: For everybody rockin’ the Capital District at WABY in Albany, New York, it’s “One Less Bell to Answer” by the Fifth Dimension.
I somewhat sortakinda slightly like this one, plush and middle-of-the-road as it is.

No. 3: A band that sounds like the Beatles, Casey says: The Bee Gees with “Lonely Days.”
I bet Maurice, Robin and Barry raised champagne glasses and said, “We better celebrate; things might never get this good again.”

No. 2: George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord.” (Casey only plays the A-side this time ’round.)

No. 1: Dawn, “Knock Three Times.”
Clang clang.

Mundane Moments: Young men of the wedding.

My maternal grandpa was a well-meaning but mediocre photographer, skilled at bringing the shutter down a moment too early or late, or in taking pictures of things that were not as quirky or offbeat (or well-lit) as he thought.

I’m going to dredge some of his efforts out of the family scrapbooks where they sit unappreciated, and bring them out for contemplation.

Another installment, then.

Gather ’round, lads. (Click to see larger, at least slightly.)

Top 10 Things the Dude (At Least, I Think He Is) in the Long Blue Coat and Corsage Is Telling the Other Dudes (At Least, I Think They’re Dudes) Gathered Eagerly Around Him At What Appears to Be a Rehearsal Dinner, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, in 1971:

1. “If you play Tapestry backwards, she totally says, ‘I’m in heat for the love of Satan.’ “

2. “Put your hands together just so, hold them up to the light, and — voila! Shadow bunnies!”

3. “If we want to tunnel out of here, there’s no time to waste. You, in the red T-shirt, get busy on the pommel horse. The rest of you, come with me.”

4. “And I said, ‘We’re called The Aristocrats.’ “

5. “So then this chick who looks just like Susan Dey walks up to me and says, ‘You know this party is clothing-optional, don’t you?’ “

6. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.”

7. “We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.”

8. “Whose blouse should I slip this frog down?”

9. “I know you guys all well enough that I can make a confession: I really, really dig Donny Osmond.”

10. “Gee, your hair smells terrific.”