One day last week I wrote about the crapfest that was the lower reaches of the Billboard Top 40 for a September week in 1973. As a wee experiment this week, I have taken the Hot 100 from a couple of weeks later—October 6—to see if I can find five interesting and worthwhile records somewhere within, to save the season.
16. “Brother Louie”/Stories (down from 11). I got into a brief exchange with the artist formerly known as Kinky Paprika last week about this song. He says it doesn’t do anything for him. I maintain that it is not only one of the greatest AM-radio records of all time, the call-and-response between the strings and guitar at the end is one of the most awesome AM-radio moments of all time. Trouble is, you can’t hear it on AM anymore. But you will.
33. “Jimmy Loves Mary Anne”/Looking Glass (holding at 33). Wow, this is too easy. Although #33 was as high as “Jimmy” would get on the Hot 100, it went to #2 on WLS, and why not? If you do not dig its essential coolness, particularly the guitar solo, which is run through a Leslie speaker, I don’t think we should see each other anymore.
64. “Outlaw Man”/Eagles (up from 73). Far from being big stars, the Eagles were just another band looking for a hit in the fall of 1973, exactly a year removed from their first Top-10 single (“Witchy Woman”) and about a year away from the next one (“Best of My Love”). Although “Outlaw Man” fits nicely into the concept of the Desperado album, it’s one of the rare Eagles chart singles written entirely by an outsider, singer/songwriter David Blue.
82. “Tonight”/Raspberries (down from 69). In which the band that released “Go All the Way” and the equally hormonal “I Wanna Be With You” completes their great horndog trilogy. Somehow “Tonight” reached only #69 on the Hot 100. How it missed being huge like the other two, I got no idea.
83. “Country Sunshine”/Dottie West (up from 92). Lots of crossover country in the lower reaches of this chart, from Donna Fargo, Ray Price, Tanya Tucker, Johnny Rodriguez, Charlie Rich (“The Most Beautiful Girl,” which would eventually make #1), and Merle Haggard. West had been charting on the country side for a decade by 1973, although her biggest successes would come in the late 70s in several duets with Kenny Rogers. If you think you remember “Country Sunshine,” it might be because it went to #2 on the country chart. However, it’s more likely because of this:
In a twist on the way it happens now, the Coke jingle came first and was turned into a record later.
It’s been a few years since I mentioned an aircheck I received out of the blue from a kind reader one day in 2006. It’s 90 minutes of ass-kickin’ classic Top 40 goodness from the border blaster X-ROCK 80, based across the line from El Paso, Texas, in Juarez, Mexico, as heard on the night of August 23, 1976. With 150,000 watts, X-ROCK-80 blanketed the western United States, and in 1975 it claimed to be the most-listened-to station in the country (despite jocks who, on the night shift at least, were not very good). I have posted excerpts from this aircheck before. Nevertheless, until you hear “Brother Louie” on that skywave from halfway across the country, which makes it sound like some sort of demon about to break out of the radio and eat your face, you haven’t heard it the way it was meant to be heard.
(If you’re interested in hearing the whole X-ROCK 80 aircheck, get in touch.)