Sunday, April 9, 2017

AT40, April 23, 1977 [Part 1 of 4]

Let's travel back 40 years and take a look at the American Top 40 for April 23, 1977 track by track:

At the time, each episode was a 3 hour show. In the intro, Casey mentions that "we have six new songs in the survey this week, and two of them are the highest-debuting songs so far in 1977," then it's straight into the countdown:

#40: "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)" by Joe Tex.  Casey never mentions the parenthetical portion of the title and, too be honest, you can just imagine the sort of social media outrage should such a song be released in today's climate. Of course, Joe Tex was never one for political correctness. Regardless, this is a catchy disco tune about a woman who knocks down poor Joe Tex when she wants to "get on down." This tune was debuting on the chart this week; it would go on to spend 10 weeks on AT40 and peak at #12 on June 11. This would be the last of Tex's nine Top 40 appearances, dating back to 1965.

#39: "Old Fashioned Boy (You're the One)" by Stallion.  Another debut single, this thing isn't sure if it wants to be pop, soul, country crossover, or rock. And it somehow ended up on the Casablanca label? As a result, it's immediately forgettable. This single, the only Top 40 appearance by this group, would peak the next week at #37 before dropping off the charts.

#38: "I Like Dreamin'" by Kenny Nolan. If you can't hear this song in your head just by reading the title, you're at the wrong blog; it's a classic soft rock single complete with strings, harps, female background singers, etc. This was the last of the song's twenty weeks on AT40, having peaked at #3 on March 12. Casey mentions that it is this week's biggest dropping record, falling 15 "notches" from #23 the previous week.

#37: "Whodunnit" by Tavares. Despite the novelty intro, this song is far from my favorite by the group. Nonetheless, it peaked at #22 on AT40 (June 24) and hit #1 on the R&B chart (May 21). This was the debut week for the song; it would spend seven weeks in the Top 40. Between the years 1973-82, Tavares would place 9 songs in the Top 40, including their final hit "A Penny for Your Thoughts" written and produced by the aforementioned Kenny Nolan (see #38).

#36: "Got to Give It Up, Pt. 1" by Marvin Gaye. Casey prefaces this debut single by listing all the hits Gaye had with four different female partners (Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Tammi Terrell, & Diana Ross). Then he plays Part 2 of the single (the b-side), not Part 1. A travesty! This single is a no-doubt-stone-cold classic with a groove that's still being plagiarized almost 40 years later. It would go on to hit #1 on June 25 as well as spending 5 weeks atop the R&B chart. It would be the 39th of 40 Top 40 hits for Gaye.

Casey tells us that AT40 can be heard on great radio stations like WQSM, KOYE, and 5MU.

#35: "Uptown Festival" by Shalamar.  Casey calls this "a Motown tribute" but it sounds more like "Hooked on Motown" in that it's a series of Motown hits set to a relentless disco beat. We're treated to a medley of
  • Going to a Go-Go
  • I Can't Help Myself
  • Uptight
  • Stop! In the Name of Love
  • It's the Same Old Song
It's not great, but it did score the group its first of four Top 40 hits. This one would spend 8 weeks on AT40, peaking at #25 on June 4.

#34: "Heard It In A Love Song" by The Marshall Tucker Band. I don't particularly care for this tune yet I know all the words because it was played frequently on the AM station I was listening to at the time. Even with only two Top 40 singles, the group is still touring and comes through my neck of the woods at least once a year. I was ten years old when this hit the charts and remember it as one of the first songs I ever sang along with while attempting an impersonation of the singer's voice - a practice that continues to this day (if you ever ride in a vehicle with me, consider this your only warning). The song would spend 13 weeks on the chart, peaking at #14 on June 11.

Listener question: "Of those artists who have recorded remakes of their own prior hits, who has had the biggest hit with such a remake?" Casey teases a two-way tie, details coming up. Place your wagers.

#33: "Hello Stranger" by Yvonne Elliman. Casey proclaims this song as one of his favorites and I concur. It's a remake of a 1963 Barbara Lewis song. Lewis hit #3 in 1963 while Elliman could only manage #15 in nine weeks in the Top 40. It did spend 4 weeks atop the Adult Contemporary chart, however. I normally don't enjoy rote covers, but I'll make an exception in this case. To my ears, Elliman is an underrated artist who should have had many more than just five Top 40 hits.

Answer to above question: The Ventures with "Walk Don't Run" and Neil Sedaka with "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" both peaked at #8 with their remakes. Unfortunately, Casey doesn't have time to play either tune.

#32: "Sometimes" by Facts of Life. This group and album have already been featured on this blog as a part of our Chart Scraper series. At the time, I described this tune as a good down-and-dirty Southern soul tune and I stand by that description. I like the thing, but it could only manage a peak of #31 in four weeks in the Top 40. It would be the trio's only Top 40 single.

#31: "Dancing Man" by Q. I've already featured this song with this post (spoiler alert: I gave it a grade of C+, which now seems a little low). The group's only Top 40 hit, it spent 7 weeks on AT40, peaking at #23 on May 14. Casey barely plays two minutes of the thing.

AT40 non sequitur
: Casey spends a couple of minutes explaining "Alan Freed and his Cleveland Arena Fiasco," focusing on the event's counterfeit tickets and the riot that ensued.

Billboard, April 23, 1977, p.  92

More to come...

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