It’s One Hit Wonder Day today—a day for celebrating performers who hit the charts but one time and never again. And at this blog we’re celebrating performers who just made it. Earlier this week, we wrote about 13 records that records spent a single week on the Hot 100 in the anchor position and then fell out again, barely leaving a footprint on the sands of history. But there’s another, rarer achievement: peaking at Number 100 and holding the position for more than one week. Between 1955 and 1986, only six records managed the feat.
“Listen Here”/Brian Auger & the Trinity (2 weeks, from 10/10/70). That the prodigiously talented and creative Auger missed the American charts in the 60s is one of the bigger failures of mass taste from those days—his version of “This Wheel’s on Fire,” recorded with Julie Driscoll, got a little airplay in 1968 without denting Billboard. By the 1970s, he’d moved into funk and fusion almost exclusively. If you’re a fan of the B3 or the Fender Rhodes, his stuff is not to be missed. “Listen Here” was cut down to 3:34 from a 9:22 original, and I’m guessing it didn’t lose much—the long version is mostly improvisations on the same big riff.
“Don’t Ever Take Away My Freedom”/Peter Yarrow (2 weeks, from 4/8/72). Recorded after Peter, Paul and Mary had split, this song was strong enough (or Yarrow, or his label, had enough influence) to get Yarrow the opportunity to sing it on American Bandstand in May 1972.
“Hello Stranger”/Fire and Rain (3 weeks, from 6/30/73). This is a version of the song that had been a hit for Barbara Lewis in 1963 and would be a hit again for Yvonne Elliman in 1977. Fire and Rain was a husband-and-wife duo, Manny Freiser and Patti McCarron; Manny performed in the 80s under the name Ian Messenger. More here.
“Dance Little Lady Dance”/Danny White (2 weeks, from 2/26/77). This is apparently a cover of a song that was a big hit in Britain in 1976 for Tina Charles. White, from New Orleans, was a former member of Huey Piano Smith and the Clowns. When you Google this record, it turns up on several aerobic dance compilations.
“For Elise”/The Philharmonics (2 weeks, from 3/12/77). From an album called The Masters in Philadelphia, this is a disco version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise. It’s not exactly a surprise that somebody would try such a thing, given the success of Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” only a few months before. The album also features Brahms’ Lullaby, which is given a mid-tempo R&B swing, and the 1812 Overture with some reggae touches that must be heard to be believed. While the album seems to have no connection with Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia hit factory, this stuff sounds like it could have been from there, and I’ll wager some of the same musicians were involved.
“Discomania”/The Lovers (2 weeks, from 5/14/77). If you got a horse, you ride it: the same team who created and produced the Ritchie Family and scored with “The Best Disco in Town” late in 1976 tried it again with “Discomania,” which is another medley of disco songs. Apart from that, there’s little comparison. Although the medley numbers are well chosen, as they were on “The Best Disco in Town,” “Discomania” is saddled with an annoying main theme in which the singers don’t sing so much as yelp, and you probably won’t be able to endure the whole six minutes at the link above.
(Parenthetical observation: From 1978 until 1986, the end of the period we’re studying, no records peaked at Number 100, for a single week or otherwise. Perhaps this points to a change in chart methodology. Similarly, that no record peaked at Number 100 for more than one week before 1970 might also point to a change in methodology at that time. Someone who’s even more geeky for record charts than I—and until I started writing this blog, I didn’t know such people existed, but they do—might be able to say for sure.)
Here endeth our observance of One Hit Wonder Week. We’ll revisit the topic again on some future day, however, because that’s what we do around here.
Recommended Reading: A blog that’s new to me, 30 Days Out, has been writing about the Warner Brothers Loss Leaders, the series of two-buck-apiece samplers that are still taking up a lot of space on my shelves. Today’s post features Supergroup, the one I played more than any other. Over at The Vinyl District, Jon previews a new book about Casablanca Records that looks like a must-read.