Very Special and Also Finished

Something like 14 months ago, I wrote an innocuous post on the one-hit wonders whose only claim to fame peaked at Number 100 in Billboard in the years between 1955 and 1986. Then I decided to tackle the Number 99s, and a series was born. I didn’t think it would take this long, but with this post, we reach the end of it, with the last installment of the songs to peak at Number 90.

“Roxy Roller”/Sweeney Todd (8/21/76, three weeks). I started researching this song last week and ended up with an entire post, which you can read here, if you haven’t done so already.

“Save Me”/Donna McDaniel (7/16/77, five weeks). Merrilee Rush (famous for “Angel of the Morning” in the 60s) took “Save Me” to Number 54 the same week Donna McDaniel’s version hit Number 90, and Louise Mandrell scored a Top-10 hit on the country charts with it in 1983. It seems also to have been recorded by English songbird Clodagh Rodgers, who may have done it first. But of Donna McDaniel herself, we know nothing.

“Stay Awhile”/Continental Miniatures (5/20/78, three weeks). The band is supposedly named after some Italian TV show, and the song is an update of a Dusty Springfield hit from the mid 1960s. They seem to have clubbed around Los Angeles for a while in the late 70s, although why they keep turning up in punk-rock databases when they sound like standard-issue 70s radio pop, I don’t know.

“I Love Women”/Jim Hurt (10/25/80, four weeks). Jim Hurt was a contract songwriter in Nashville whose best-known song is probably one he co-wrote, “Love in the First Degree,” a country hit and pop crossover for Alabama. In Dave Steed’s series at Popdose about the bottom of the charts in the 80s, Dave called “I Love Women” “soulful and quite playful”—it puts me in mind of a more caffeinated Dr. Hook, myself—but you be the judge, below.

“Very Special”/Debra Laws (9/5/81, five weeks). Debra Laws is the sister of jazz players Hubert Laws and Ronnie Laws, and she sang on many of their projects, as well as doing backup work for a number of other artists in sessions and on the road. She apparently sued Jennifer Lopez, unsuccessfully, for unauthorized sampling of “Very Special” in 2003.

“Taxi”/J. Blackfoot (3/24/84, five weeks). The Soul Children were a minor group at Stax, scoring a handful of hits between the mid  60s and the mid 70s, most famous among them “Hearsay” and their lone Top-40 hit, “I’ll Be the Other Woman.” J. Blackfoot (given name John Colbert) was a member of the group; his first experience recording music came while doing time in prison. He was lead singer with the reconstituted Bar-Kays after the plane crash that killed Otis Redding, and when Isaac Hayes and David Porter were putting together the Soul Children, he was invited to join. “Taxi” is a smooth soul record that sounds more like 1967 than it does 1984.

“Don’t Do Me”/Randy Bell (7/14/84, three weeks). At the age of 24, the photogenic Randy Bell of Denver, Colorado, got a record deal with Epic. He viewed himself as a serious musician, but Epic saw him as teen-idol material and marketed him as such. That wasn’t the right move, given that “Don’t Do Me” is mid-80s radio rock in the Loverboy/Aldo Nova/Donnie Iris pocket.

“Am I Forgiven”/Isle of Man (8/16/86, four weeks). With its own radio-ready mid-80s sound, “Am I Forgiven” is allegedly a Christian-rock number, although it’s hard to tell precisely what the words are since the lead singer’s accent is so thick. I am guessing Isle of Man was from Spain or Italy. Or maybe the Isle of Man itself, although I doubt it. I know they’re from somewhere.

And that’s a wrap, not merely on the one-hit wonders to peak at Number 90, but the whole Down in the Bottom series covering Numbers 100 through 90. However, I think we’ll revisit the series at least one more time in the coming weeks, whenever I get around to it—I’ve got some final thoughts, comments, and mp3s to share.

“I Love Women”/Jim Hurt (out of print)
“Don’t Do Me”/Randy Bell (out of print)

2 thoughts on “Very Special and Also Finished

  1. Oh, this ain’t even near over, pal. Know why? If you continue into the 80s, you get to talk about this. Don’t say you don’t wanna.

    And if that can’t convince you, thanks at least for taking us this far. I owe that scratchy Bob McGilpin LP in my collection to you.

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