Monday, August 7, 2017

Terry Williams - Blame It on the Night (1980)

 Blame It on the Night
b/w Blame It on the Night (stereo)

Released: never released? (International Artists)
Written by: Robert Byrne & Tom Brasfield
Produced by: Ian Gardiner
Album: none

 U. S. Billboard Charts:
 Adult Contemporary 30

I was looking at Adult Contemporary charts for the summer of 1980 in preparation for a blog post and came across a listing for this song. I couldn't find a copy anywhere save for a YouTube video that seems to have been recorded from a radio broadcast. Nonetheless, I was immediately hooked by the tune and here we are. (For the record, the aforementioned blog post never materialized as I got sidetracked by this tune.)

The artist that recorded this single isn't Terry Williams the British drummer or Terry Williams the trombonist, but Terry Williams the founding member of First Edition.

Williams worked in the country and Christian realms of the music industry, so this sweet soft rocker is an odd outlier. The writers, Byrne and Brasfield, are better known for writing country songs while the producer, Ian Gardiner, is a Canadian bass player who played with Burton Cummings of The Guess Who. So while this is indeed a strange mix of folks, it somehow works. This soft rock single wouldn't be out of place in Rhino's Radio Daze series (real or imagined) or one of Professor Eddy's mixes.

I can't find a record of the musicians on this song, but we're treated to the unusual combination of both harmonica and tenor sax solo lines. All the familiar soft rock tropes are present as well: female background vocals, electric piano, and string pads. Williams' voice reminds me a (very little) bit of Johnny Mathis, but he has some problems with enunciation; first lines: "If God let rum dry, now that your heart's so lair." (Actual lyrics: "You probably learned by now that your heart's a liar.")

I can't find any record (no pun intended) of this thing ever receiving an an official release because all I've ever seen are promotional copies. Even the discogs website currently only lists a promo copy.  I recently found a (relatively) cheap copy of the promo single on eBay, bought it, ripped it, and uploaded it to YouTube. Enjoy below.

So how can a promo single reach the Billboard charts without ever selling any copies? Well, the charts were subject to the whims of editors back then, but it appears that the Adult Contemporary charts in 1980 were based solely on airplay. At least that's my interpretation of the following explanation from Billboard:

Sales based on airplay? Is it just me or does that sentence make no sense? Please advise.

Other versions. First, a tasty Muscle Shoals take from the songwriter himself (which is likely to send me down another rabbit hole), followed by a cover by the Hawaiian group Fabulous Krush.

No comments :

Post a Comment