(WNEW link at the bottom is fixed.)
Here’s a most interesting survey from CJOM in Windsor, Ontario, from 35 years ago this week. CJOM was an album-rock station, and apparently a commercial station despite its position in the non-commercial part of the dial. (Or doesn’t that restriction apply in Canada?) Check the flip-side of the survey and you’ll see an ad for “commercial-free Sundays,” which strikes me as both A) a fabulously good promotional idea and B) a great way to make the best of an underperforming sales department. Here are five more things worth noting about the survey:
1. The album listing isn’t numbered, although Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies is shown first. That album was about to go to Number One on the American album charts, and would be the biggest chart hit of Cooper’s career. It spawned three Top 40 hits: “Elected,” “Hello Hooray,” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” although the latter is the only one I remember hearing much on AM stations. There’s a bunch of Alice Cooper video from 1973 at YouTube—the links above will take you there.
2. CJOM was playing several albums that spawned hit singles that spring in addition to Billion Dollar Babies: Dark Side of the Moon (“Money”), They Only Come Out at Night (“Frankenstein”), The Captain and Me (“Long Train Running”) Houses of the Holy (“D’yer Mak’er”), Electric Light Orchestra II (“Roll Over Beethoven”) and Focus III (“Hocus Pocus”). The station was, as album-rockers tended to be back then, willing to play anything they thought their audience might be interested in, from the Mahavishnu Orchestra to Seals and Crofts.
3. Jerry Lee Lewis had been recording country music for much of the 1960s before teaming with several British rockers on The Session, including Procol Harum’s Matthew Fisher, Peter Frampton, Alvin Lee, Rory Gallagher, and Kenney Jones. Most of the songs were remakes of 50s chestnuts; a version of the early R&B number “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” was on its way to Number 41 that spring.
4. Classic-rock and oldies radio have boiled Procol Harum’s entire career down to “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Conquistador,” but back in the day, they were a hugely important album-rock act with other signature songs, including “Shine on Brightly” “Homburg,” and “A Salty Dog.” Grand Hotel was recorded while the band was riding high on their live album with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the biggest hit they ever had. Grand Hotel was greeted with plenty of fanfare, especially in prog-rock circles. Although it didn’t contain a hit single, it was Procol’s second-biggest album next to the live one. Here’s a 2007 live performance of the title song.
5. On the subject of progressive rock, Rick Wakeman’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII was the first of three highly successful albums Wakeman would release in the mid 70s. I wouldn’t discover it until my personal prog-rock phase, and after I’d become a fan of the two albums that followed it (Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table), and back then, Henry VIII was my least favorite of the three. It sounds a lot better to me today, far less pretentious than the other two. Here’s Wakeman, rockin’ his trademark long hair and sequins, playing excerpts from the album interspersed with other well-known tunes and a full ration of prog-rock showmanship with Yes at what must have been Christmastime 1973.
Also: I’ve got a new post up at WNEW called “A Rock-and-Roll Reading List.” Do me a favor and go read it, then add your own favorite rock books in the comments. (I could use the traffic.) And since I haven’t posted any mp3s here for almost a week now, look for some Forgotten 45s either over the weekend or on Monday.