Thursday, April 13, 2017

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

I'm breaking down the AT40 show of April 23, 1977 track by track. 

So what was I doing around the time of this AT40 episode's broadcast?  I was finishing up 5th grade at Burnet Elementary School in Odessa, Texas. Don't remember too much about that year other than playing tennis, YMCA soccer, and maybe flag football. And listening to the radio. In any case, here's a school photo from '77:

Now, on with the countdown:

#10: "Right Time of the Night" by Jennifer Warnes. A bit too country-ish for my tastes what with all the slide guitar, but this was Warnes' biggest solo hit, reaching #6 in the Top 40, #17 country, and #1 adult contemporary.

Listener question: In the rock era, has any #1 song of the year been by a female solo artist? (A rarity in '77 but commonplace today.) Casey gives three hints:

  • There are three such songs
  • They happened in the years 1967, 1972, & 1974
  • All are from movie soundtracks

"Details coming up..."

Casey reminds us that AT40 is heard around the world on stations like WVAM (Altoona, PA), WPUB (Camden, SC), and Radio Avon (Christchurch, New Zealand).

#9:  "When I Need You" by Leo Sayer. When I was 10, I wasn't much of a fan of ballads - give me my disco and let me dance! - but there was something about this waltz that was different to my ear (sax solo? the fact that my then-unchanged voice matched Sayer's falsetto? who knows?). Plus the harmony vocals are easy enough that I could pick them out at a young age. So this one gets a thumbs up from 10 year old Mark as well as the 50 year old edition.  This single would hit #1 on May 14 and would also top the adult contemporary chart.

#8:  "So Into You" by Atlanta Rhythm Section. A simple blues progression differentiated by the arrangement featuring electric piano and chunky guitar. Laid back and trippy, it was like nothing else on my radio at the time and that fact appealed to a young contrarian like myself. After this week at #8, this song would camp out in the #7 spot for three weeks before dropping out of the Top 10.

Answer to above question:
  1. Lulu - "To Sir With Love" (1967)
  2. Robert Flack - "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (1972)
  3. Barbra Streisand - "The Way We Were" (1974)
Speaking of Barbra...

#7:  "Love Theme from 'A Star Is Born' (Evergreen)" by Barbra Streisand. As a kid, I didn't care much for this one - give me my disco and let me dance! - but now I appreciate it and sing along whenever I hear it. This single had spent three weeks in the top spot in March, but took an unusually long time to drop out of the top 10. Of it's 18 weeks in the Top 40, 13 of those were spent in the top 10. In other words, it had staying power. In related news, I finally watched the movie A Star is Born recently and was unimpressed although I did get excited when the Kristofferson character jumped in a car and the 8 track player was next to the gearshift:

So. Cool.

  "I've Got Love On My Mind" by Natalie Cole. Part smooth ballad, part lounge song, all good. Love the laid back shuffle and then the breakdown just before the 3 minute mark. This song spent 14 weeks in the Top 40 and would peak at #5 the week following this countdown. It also spent 5 weeks atop the R&B charts. You'd think something this smooth would have been an adult contemporary hit but it stalled out at #45 on that chart.

#5:  "The Things We Do For Love" by 10cc.  Casey tells us that of the 40 songs in this week's countdown, 7 are by foreign acts and this is one of them. My fifth grade classmates and I were absolutely nuts about this song. I think the song has plenty of hooks, but the real draw is the ease of sing-ability. I remember purchasing the single as a birthday gift for a girl in my class (I think her name was Gayle but who the hell knows?). Her birthday party was held out of town at the Monahans Sandhills State Park which is as advertised: miles of sand dunes.

But back to 10cc: I like this song as much now as I did then. It spent 14 weeks in the Top 40, peaking right here at #5.

#4:  "Don't Give Up On Us" by David Soul.  Despite the artist's name, this thing is devoid of any soul (too easy?). This earsore with the overpowering string arrangement (and is that an oboe?) had been #1 the week prior. I'm guessing that all the Starsky & Hutch fans were record buyers. This was Soul's only Top 40 hit, but in addition to topping the pop charts, it was #1 on the adult contemporary chart. I can't blame a guy for wanting to cash in on his TV popularity, but I'll take a hard pass on this one. In other words, I WILL give up on us, baby! (I am all over the low-hanging fruit today, huh?)

Before we continue, Casey tells us what's atop the other charts:
Speaking of Eagles...

#3:  "Hotel California" by Eagles. I'll admit that it's a masterpiece, but it's one that I've heard enough for one lifetime (I'm glaring at you, Mr. Classic Rock Radio Station Program Director). It was at #4 the previous week, #3 this week, #2 the following week and finally hit the top spot on May 7. It was the group's tenth Top 40 hit and their fourth #1 single.

#2:  "Southern Nights" by Glen Campbell. My mother was a Glen Campbell fan, so I was no stranger to his showmanship. This single is an odd duck - written by New Orleans R&B legend Allen Toussaint (click here for his highly recommended original 1975 version) but given a country feel complete with banjo. But it all works and more power to them. Like the 10cc song at #5, this one gets bonus points for being easy to sing along with. A huge crossover smash, this topped the pop, country, and adult contemporary charts.

As an intro to the #1 song, Casey shares the story of Thelma Houston and her band, which included an underage musician, playing a venue that served alcohol. They got around the law by having the 19-year-old guitarist sit outside the club in a temporary shack, listening to the monitors via headphones, while his amp was inside the club. Casey calls the solution "brilliant" but that story made me very uncomfortable. Hope that guitarist got paid well for that humiliation.

#1:  "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston. And we end with a bang! Finally some disco! Man-oh-man is this thing good. At the time, I had no idea it was a cover and it really doesn't matter. It's easy to love Teddy Pendergrass singing the thing and yes, I fell in love with it all over again when The Communards covered it in 1986. Ask me to pick a favorite version of those three and I'm not sure I could, but it doesn't get much better than Thelma taking me higher about 2:12 minutes into it. Goosebumps. This disco classic spent 17 weeks in the Top 40, but only this one week in the top spot. It also was #1 on the R&B chart and rightfully #1 on the Disco chart. Approved.

"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

Previously, I've looked at these AT40 episodes track by track:
September 18, 1982
October 24, 1981
July 19, 1980
June 9, 1979

Before playing the #27 track, Casey told us there were 6 disco tracks in this week's countdown, but he doesn't identify them. You sure about that number, Casey? I can make an argument for at least ten disco tunes:

  • "Ain't Gonna Bump No More" (#40)
  • "Whodunnit" (#37)
  • "Got to Give It Up" (#36)
  • "Uptown Festival" (#35)
  • "Dancing Man" (#31)
  • "N.Y. You Got Me Dancing (#27)
  • "Disco Lucy" (#26
  • "Dancing Queen" (#18)
  • "I'm Your Boogie Man" (#17)
  • "Don't Leave Me This Way" (#1)
And possibly "Hello Stranger" (#33)?

1 comment :

  1. But could you match his falsetto on his previous #1 hit "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing?"😀 12 year old me didn't care for the ballads, but 51 year old me likes the whole top 10 except for "Don't Give Up On Us."