Monday, January 16, 2017

#1 Albums of 1977: Side-by-Side Charts

Updated from a previous post.

Cash Box
Record World
January 1 Songs in the Key of Life
Stevie Wonder
Songs in the Key of Life
Stevie Wonder
Songs in the Key of Life
Stevie Wonder
January 8 Hotel California
The Eagles
Hotel California
The Eagles
January 15 Hotel California
The Eagles
January 22 Wings Over America
January 29 Songs in the Key of Life
Stevie Wonder
February 5 Hotel California
The Eagles
A Star is Born
A Star is Born
February 12 A Star is Born
February 19
February 16
March 5
March 12
March 19
March 26 Hotel California
The Eagles
Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac
April 2 Rumours
Fleetwood Mac
April 9 Hotel California
The Eagles
Hotel California
The Eagles
April 16 Hotel California
The Eagles
April 23
April 30
May 7
May 14
May 21 Rumours
Fleetwood Mac
May 28 Rumours
Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac
June 4
June 11
June 18
June 25
July 2Live
Barry Manilow
July 9Rumours
Fleetwood Mac
July 16 Live
Barry Manilow
July 23 Rumours
Fleetwood Mac
July 30
August 6
August 13
August 20
August 27
September 3
September 10
September 17
September 24
October 1
October 8
October 15
October 22
October 29
November 5
November 12
November 19
November 26 Simple Dreams
Linda Ronstadt
December 3 Simple Dreams
Linda Ronstadt
December 10
December 17 Rumours
Fleetwood Mac
December 24
December 31
Cash Box
Record World

Monday, January 9, 2017

MFD Random Five #17

In which I click the shuffle icon on the increasingly frustrating iTunes app (no, Apple, I don't want to "connect," I simply want to listen to my files) and listen to the first five songs that pop up from the years 1976-85.

  1. "Rip It Up" by Orange Juice (1983, Polydor)
    I've tried to like this band, but all their songs sound like discarded Haircut 100 demos. I won't skip this one, but I never seek it out, either.

  2. "Save Me" by Queen (1980, Elektra)
    Freddie Mercury owning a Brian May tune - just another day at the office for these guys. I've always considered Queen to be a singles band rather than an album band, but The Game is their one album I can enjoy from top-to-bottom and this fantastic cut is a great way to close out the album.

  3. "Love Ballad" by George Benson (1979, Warner Bros.)
    In which Benson takes a recently charted ballad, puts an up-tempo groove on it and takes the thing to #18 on the pop chart (the LTD original peaked at #20 in 1976). Great tune but I'm blown away by Benson's soloing on this one. Remarkable. I recently read Maurice White's autobiography and he claims Earth, Wind & Fire were offered this song but passed. 

  4. "Copacabana (At the Copa)" by Barry Manilow (1978, Arista)
    If I can trust my memory, Even Now was the first LP I ever purchased. And it was because of this song. I had seen Barry perform it on a TV variety show and was hooked even though his current hit was either "Can't Smile Without You" of "Even Now."

  5. "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" by The Power Station (1985, Capitol/EMI)
    I usually don't carry for straight-ahead cover tunes, but there's something about Tony Thompson's drumming and Robert Palmer's vocals that make this cover work. Bernard Edwards created a very aggressive sound for the time which Palmer would successfully co-opt for a few years.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

#1 Jazz Albums of 1977: Side-by-Side Charts

Painstakingly compiled from primary sources and presented here for purposes of comparison (and because I was curious and am mildly addicted to chart data).

Week Billboard Cash BoxRecord World
Jan 1 Breezin'
George Benson
George Benson
George Benson
Jan 8
Jan 15
Jan 22A Secret Place
Grover Washington, Jr.
Jan 29 A Secret Place
Grover Washington, Jr.
A Secret Place
Grover Washington, Jr.
Feb 5
Feb 12
Feb 19 In Flight
George Benson
In Flight
George Benson
Feb 26In Flight
George Benson
Mar 5
Mar 12
Mar 19
Mar 26
Apr 2
Apr 9
Apr 16 Heavy Weather
Weather Report
Apr 23 In Flight
George Benson
Apr 30 Heavy Weather
Weather Report
May 7
May 14
May 21Heavy Weather
Weather Report
May 28Heavy Weather
Weather Report
June 4
June 11 Conquistador
Maynard Ferguson
Friends and Strangers
Ronnie Laws
June 18 Heavy Weather
Weather Report
June 25 In Flight
George Benson
Free as the Wind
The Crusaders
Free as the Wind
The Crusaders
July 2
July 9Free as the Wind
The Crusaders
July 16
July 23Lifestyle (Living and Loving)
John Klemmer
July 30Free as the Wind
The Crusaders
Aug 6
Aug 13
Aug 20
Aug 27
Sept 3
Sept 10Lifeline
Roy Ayers Ubiquity
Sept 17
Sept 24
Oct 1
Oct 8Nightwings
Stanley Turrentine
Oct 15
Oct 22Nightwings
Stanley Turrentine
Engimatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty
Oct 29 Engimatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty
Nov 5
Nov 12Reach for It
George Duke
Nov 19
Nov 26 Enigmatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty
Feels So Good
Chuck Mangione
Dec 3 Reach for It
George Duke
Dec 10Feels So Good
Chuck Mangione
Dec 17 Heads
Bob James
Dec 24
Dec 31
Week Billboard Cash BoxRecord World

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Joe Jackson - Mike's Murder Soundtrack (1983)

Released: August 30, 1983 (A&M)
Produced by: Joe Jackson
Peak on the US Billboard 200: 64

Side One Side Two
1-2-3-Go (This Town's a Fairground)
Laundromat Monday
Moonlight Theme

 Charted singles: Hot 100

Night and Day was my first Joe Jackson album and I listened to it constantly in late '82/early '83. I was starved for more of the same so I purchased this soundtrack album as soon as I saw it. It reminds me of early morning marching band practices on dew covered football fields not because of the music but because that's what was going on in my life every morning around the time I was listening to this album.  It's no Night and Day but what is? However, it is in the same vein and uses the same musicians as Night and Day and for a musical chameleon like Jackson, that's saying something. And that was good enough for me.

It's got a couple of strong songs, a couple of good songs, a derivative single, and extended instrumental soundtrack cuts. It's hit-or-miss, mostly enjoyable, and four of the tracks held me over until the next album. So why did this flop after the success of Night and Day?

Rolling Stone, October 13, 1983, p. 11

What a mess. Turns out most of the music on here wasn't even used in the movie. The director recut the movie and had the movie rescored by industry legend John Barry. By the way, I have seen the movie and can't recommend it whatsoever; even the lovely Debra Winger couldn't save that thing.

Rolling Stone, March 15, 1984, p. 15

  • Cosmopolitan:  If the syncopated mallet percussion in the intro isn't immediately identifiable as early '80s Joe Jackson, I don't know what could be. Released as a single in other countries but not the US. Even Jackson's sax solo ain't bad.
  • 1-2-3-Go (This Town's a Fairground):  Filler, but good filler. Joe couldn't think of chorus lyrics so he counts instead. However, the profane lyrics in the second chorus appealed greatly to 17 year old me.
  • Laundromat Monday:  Laid back Latin groove featuring piano and vibraphone. Speaking of vibes, there's a tasty vibe solo at the end of this one and that's not something you hear very often in pop music.
  • Memphis: This is the derivative single I referred to earlier. It's not very good and features what Robert Christgau correctly called a "Booker T. Winwood organ part."  Lyrically, we get "Where the hell is Memphis" as a chorus if that tells you anything. No wonder it flopped.
  • Moonlight: A beautiful ballad featuring piano over electric piano. Gets its groove from Stephen Bishop's "On and On" but takes it to a soaring chorus. Released as single in the Netherlands, apparently.

  • Zémio:  And now we start the instrumental soundtrack side of the album. This track features a bass melody over Latin percussion which is transferred to sax and piano. Like most soundtrack music, it's intentionally monotonous with meandering solos - I count three chords in the whole eleven minute track.
  • Breakdown:  Starts out with creepy synths over a bass drum, then alludes to "Moonlight" before going back to the creepy synths. I don't love it, but can see it being effective soundtrack music. This track was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, losing to George Benson's "Being With You."
  • Moonlight Theme: a shorter, instrumental version of "Moonlight" perfect for your karaoke needs.

  1. Cosmopolitan
  2. Moonlight
  3. Laundromat Monday
  4. 1-2-3-Go (This Town's a Fairground)
  5. Moonlight Theme
  6. Breakdown
  7. Memphis
  8. Zémio

Thursday, December 29, 2016

AT40 Montage of the Number One Singles of 1976

For the last American Top 40 show of 1976 and the first AT40 show of 1977, Casey Kasem counted down the "The Top 100 Hits of 1976." Near the end of each of those two episodes, he presented this montage of every #1 single of 1976:

Casey states that the list ends at Thanksgiving, but Rod Stewart's #1 single "Tonight's the Night" held on to the top spot for the remainder of the calendar year so the montage turns out to be complete. Bonus points for chronological order. Here's the list for ya:

Week Ending Song Artist(s)Year*
January 3 "Saturday Night" Bay City Rollers64
January 10 "Convoy" C.W. McCall57
January 17 "I Write the Songs" Barry Manilow13
January 24 "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" Diana Ross43
January 31 "Love Rollercoaster" Ohio Players30
February 7 "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" Paul Simon8
February 14
February 21
February 28 "Theme from S.W.A.T." Rhythm Heritage29
March 6 "Love Machine (Part 1)" The Miracles7
March 13 "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" The Four Seasons4
March 20
March 27
April 3 "Disco Lady" Johnnie Taylor3
April 10
April 17
April 24
May 1 "Let Your Love Flow" The Bellamy Brothers36
May 8 "Welcome Back" John Sebastian58
May 15 "Boogie Fever" The Sylvers20
May 22 "Silly Love Songs" Wings 1
May 29 "Love Hangover" Diana Ross15
June 5
June 12 "Silly Love Songs" Wings1
June 19
June 26
July 3
July 10 "Afternoon Delight" Starland Vocal Band12
July 17
July 24 "Kiss and Say Goodbye" The Manhattans6
July 31
August 7 "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" Elton John and Kiki Dee2
August 14
August 21
August 28
September 4 "You Should Be Dancing" Bee Gees31
September 11 "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" KC and the Sunshine Band26
September 18 "Play That Funky Music" Wild Cherry5
September 25
October 2
October 9 "A Fifth of Beethoven" Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band10
October 16 "Disco Duck (Part 1)" Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots97
October 23 "If You Leave Me Now" Chicago48
October 30
November 6 "Rock'n Me" Steve Miller Band-
November 13 "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" Rod Stewart-
November 20
November 27
December 4
December 11
December 18
December 25

*Position on the AT40 countdown "The Top 100 Hits of 1976" which was actually tabulated from Billboard charts between the following dates: