D.C. Superstar

(I put up an unscheduled post here on Sunday. If you missed it, go there now, or scroll down and come back.)

Here’s the final installment of Billboard one-hit wonders whose only entry on the Hot 100 peaked at Number 94. We got disco, power pop, power ballads, movie songs, and Sammy Hagar, so let’s saddle up and ride.

“Cathedrals”/D. C. LaRue (11/13/76, two weeks on chart.) You would be hard-pressed to find anybody attempting to read more into an extremely fleeting and modest success than D. C. LaRue. According to his website, after the release of “Cathedrals,” LaRue “ruled the underground and avant-garde dance floors of the world.” The site also says that in 1981, G.Q. named LaRue “one of the 6 creative artists who would epitomize ‘success in the decades ahead.’ Little did they know how right they were!!” Right in the sense of being pretty much totally wrong, yeah.

“Theme From Rocky (Gonna Fly Now)”/Current (5/14/77, three weeks). I am not a big fan of the Rocky theme. I get the whole big-and-inspiring thing, and I’m fine with that, but both the Bill Conti version and the Maynard Ferguson version are ruined by that astoundingly lame and poorly sung vocal line, “gonna fly now/something that rhymes with fly now.” So I wasn’t expecting anything when I found another “Gonna Fly Now” by the group Current. It’s a straight-up disco version that replaces the ballsy brasses with synthesizers by Casio, and backs ’em up with wakka-wakka rhythm guitar. In other words, it’s far more 70s-awesome than either the Conti or Ferguson version, or the one by Rhythm Heritage, which also charted.

“All the Kids on the Street”/Hollywood Stars (5/21/77, four weeks). Producer Kim Fowley’s west-coast version of the New York Dolls shared bills with Journey and the Tubes when all of them were unknowns, and were an opening act for the Kinks following the release of the Stars’ eponymous debut album. The group barely outlasted that tour, however, splitting up after their principal songwriter left the band. “All the Kids on the Street” is impeccably produced and tightly played power pop that probably deserved better than Number 94.

“Another Night”/Wilson Brothers (10/13/79, two weeks). Highly obscure Michigan natives Steve and Kelly Wilson made their lone album in Nashville with a bit of help from Steve Lukather, lead guitarist of Toto. He’s not the one cranking that solo on “Another Night,” though. It’s the sort of thoroughly-competent-yet-not-particularly-memorable pop rock that was produced by the tanker-load in the late 70s, which probably helps account for its low profile.

More along this line, plus an mp3, after the jump.

“Scandal”/RCR (4/5/80, two weeks). RCR is for Donna Rhodes, Charles Chalmers, and Sandra Rhodes. Sandra and Donna were sisters, Sandra eventually married Charles, and “Scandal” was co-written by a third member of the family, Perry Rhodes, so RCR was a true family affair. What else it was, I dunno, because I can’t find much about it online. Their album apparently contained both rock songs (which “Scandal” was) and disco-flavored tracks. In other words, your basic 1980 all-things-to-all-people-this-is-why-MTV-had-to-happen record.

“Once a Night”/Jackie English (1/10/81, four weeks). “Once a Night” won the disco category of the amateur division of the 1979 American Song Festival. (Really.) It was co-written by English and Beverly Bremers, who had scored a hit in 1972 with “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember,” so it wasn’t an entirely amateur effort. A year later, it appeared on the soundtrack of the movie Hopscotch, a spy flick starring Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson. The recorded version was produced by Tony Camillo, who had scored a hit with “Dynomite” in 1975 under the name Tony Camillo’s Bazuka.

Hey, these records only got up to Number 94—there’s a certain level of minutiae you’ve got to accept.

“Whiter Shade of Pale”/Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve (5/26/84, two weeks). Hey kids, let’s make a supergroup! Neil Schon of Journey wanted to do something with Sammy Hagar, so he signed up his former Santana bandmate Michael Shrieve on drums, and got bassist Kenny Aaronson, who played with damn near everybody in the 1970s and 1980s, to join up too. They weren’t together long enough to think up a better name, recording their lone album over a 12-day span of live dates in November 1983. A couple of the shows were recorded for broadcast on MTV, and the group toured briefly in California, but then they all went back to their other gigs, never to convene again. “Whiter Shade of Pale” gains points for featuring the least annoying Sammy Hagar vocal ever committed to tape, but apart from that, it’s a generic mid-80s power ballad.

“Sounds of Your Voice”/Jon Butcher Axis (11/30/85, three weeks). This band was quite a big deal in the mid-to-late 80s, getting on MTV, getting a Grammy nomination (for instrumental performance), and scoring hits on the album chart, most notably Along the Axis. Butcher broke up the Axis in 1991, and has done a great deal of TV, movie, and video game scoring ever since. Here’s the video for “Sounds of Your Voice.”

That concludes the list of one-hit wonders who peaked at Number 94. My inclination is to keep going, since these posts are fun to research, so watch for Number 93, appearing eventually. (Find the rest of the posts in this series, down to Number 100, here.)

“All the Kids on the Street”/Hollywood Stars (out of print)

2 thoughts on “D.C. Superstar

  1. A note or two about RCR … Charles Chalmers was a Memphis session man and occasional producer. The story goes that the group was formed when Charles laid down his sax to assist the Rhodes Sisters in providing backup vocals for Al Green’s “Tired of Being Alone,” and that the resulting smash made the trio a top-draw background group (a la The Sweet Inspirations). Sandra’s solo side “Where’s Your Love Been” was included on the comp “Country Got Soul,” and is a great tune.

  2. Yah Shure

    I second the Stepfather’s nod to Sandra Rhodes’ “Where’s Your Love Been.” Played that one many times in the college radio days. I also used to love segueing into “All The Kids On The Street” right after the Donny Osmond reference in Alice Cooper’s “Department Of Youth.”

    The Current “Rocky” was the one I liked the most at the time, but that Casio-cheese-meets-Ferrante-&-Teicher intro sure kills the mood. The 12-inch record on the YouTube clip is a little less cheesy, since it buries the piano a wee bit further in the mix than the 45 did.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.