Top 5: Can’t Get It Out of My Head

(Briefly edited since first being posted.)

In the winter of 1975, I am a freshman in high school, a longhaired geek who is also equipment manager of the wrestling team and a member of the library club. I am close to failing advanced algebra—in all my years of schooling, it’s the first class outside of physical education in which I have profoundly struggled. I fancy myself a writer. But what matters most about me in this season is that I do not merely listen to the radio anymore—it has become something like an extension of myself, although it might be more correct to say that I am an extension of it. Every moment I can, I’m listening. I bounce back and forth between Chicago’s WCFL (the great rival of WLS, at a time when the rivalry was at its peak) and Z104, an automated FM Top 40 station from Madison. I already know that radio is what I want to do with my life—I’ve known it for years. And here’s some of what the radio is playing, according to the Cash Box chart dated February 8, 1975:

1. “Boogie on Reggae Woman”/Stevie Wonder (up from 2). A different sort of groove for Stevie, but plenty deep nevertheless. I don’t know where the following video came from, but it’s interesting, celebrating the growing presence of women in the workplace, on the athletic field, and elsewhere—while still managing to be just a wee bit sexist.

(May I say here that I hate hate hate those white titles YouTube has started putting on every embedded video?)

10. “Doctor’s Orders”/Carol Douglas (up from 11). Although Carol scored a couple of minor pop hits after “Doctor’s Orders,” more of her later success came on the club charts. This was a dancefloor monster, too, and why not? It jumps out of the speakers from the first millisecond, and the guys on rhythm guitar and hi-hat cymbal deserve some kind of reward for devotion to duty. Next to “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel,” this is my favorite disco song.

11. “Get Dancin’, Part 1″/Disco Tex and the Sex-o-Lettes (up from 13). Possibly the most demented record to hit the Top 40 since the bubblegum oddity “Quick Joey Small” back in the 60s, “Get Dancin'” was not so much a disco record as a disco parody, but even more than that, it was an old-school R&B showtune, with Sir Monti Rock III campin’ it up out front. Although the hit version is called “Part 1,” it seems be an edit of the longer album version. If I’m recalling correctly, there was also a 45 with half of the album version on one side (a true Part 1) and half on the other.

28. “Can’t Get it Out of My Head”/ELO (up from 30). We all know a few songs that are guaranteed to soothe our souls in times of trouble. This is one of mine. It was the first thing I’d ever heard by the Electric Light Orchestra. (No, wait—“Roll Over Beethoven” was before that.) Here’s a video performance from Dutch TV in the mid 70s, with Jeff Lynne rockin’ the white guy afro.

45. “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You”/Sugarloaf (up from 51). This is the semi-true story of Sugarloaf’s attempts to get signed by CBS Records. The first touchtone in the song is an unlisted CBS Records phone number; the second is a public number for the White House. It’s another great song with which to start a radio show—which is a list I’ve got to make officially someday. And, oddly enough, it also reminds me of my first kiss, but that’s a story for another day.

Also: We’re up 10 spots this month in the Wikio music-blog rankings, to Number 70. (I am becoming mildly embarrassed by how much I look forward to the first of the month to see how we’re doing.)  This week at WNEW.com, I wrote about the musical Hair, and will profile Pete Seeger tomorrow. And I’m on Facebook, so come on by and be my friend. If you don’t think I’ll recognize your name, be sure to tell me who you are. Coming Monday: a bit more about Tommy James.

“Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You”/Sugarloaf (buy it here)

3 thoughts on “Top 5: Can’t Get It Out of My Head

  1. TCW

    In the winter of ’74-75 I was a senior in high school and bounced between those same three stations. Although for some reason, WCFL’s signal into little Brodhead, Wisconsin, wasn’t too stellar. Somewhere in my cassette collection I have a recording of Z-104 from December 1974, just after they switched formats. The Drake-Chenault “rock and roll” format was incredibly cheesy by today’s standards, but we ate it up at the time.

    During my senior year, my HS friend Tom, who is still working in radio somewhere in Colorado, and I once made an after-school trip to Madison for a tour of the WTSO/WZEE facility on Tokay Boulevard. The live jock on WTSO (whose name may have been Andy something?) did a brief live interview with Tom for some reason that I don’t remember, and we scored a couple of Z-104 sweatshirts which we proudly wore to school the next day.

    I had forgotten all this until I read your blog entry. Thanks for the memory jog.

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