That’s Rock and Roll

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(Pictured: Shaun Cassidy meets the people in the summer of 1977.)

Now, on with the annotated countdown of the Top 56 songs of 1977, as compiled by WIND in Chicago.

24.  “Lonely Boy”/Andrew Gold. A lot of baby boomers blame their parents for stuff their parents don’t even—or can’t even—know they did. “Lonely Boy” may be the single greatest artifact of this runaway narcissism.

23.  “Theme from Rocky”/Bill Conti. I once called the vocal line on this record “stiff and white and weird.” Could probably apply to the whole thing.

22.  “That’s Rock and Roll”/Shaun Cassidy. One Saturday on my radio station’s Facebook page, I posted a picture of Shaun Cassidy nipped from an old local radio survey the week he played a concert here in 1977, and asked the question, “Were any of you there?” It became one of the most popular posts the station’s ever done.

21.  “Nobody Does It Better”/Carly Simon. Has gone further down the memory hole than almost every song on this survey. You just don’t hear it anywhere anymore.

20.  “Fly Like An Eagle”/Steve Miller Band. Discuss: “Fly Like an Eagle” is a better record with the “Space Intro” included, but “Jet Airliner” is better without its electronic intro, “Threshold.”

19. “Theme From A Star Is Born”/Barbra Streisand. Like lovely snowflakes falling.

18.  “Do You Wanna Make Love”/Peter McCann. McCann’s career was pretty much made by one song—“Right Time of the Night” by Jennifer Warnes, a songwriting credit that got McCann his own record deal, which resulted in a single that made WIND’s best-of-77 where the superior “Right Time” didn’t.

17.  “Dancing Queen”/ABBA. This song was #1 on the Hot 100 for only a week, but 100 years from now, it’s likely to be the only song from 1977 anybody remembers.

16.  “When I Need You”/Leo Sayer. The high-pitched emoting of “When I Need You” is the best thing Leo Sayer ever did by many miles, tiptoeing right up to the edge of too much without going over. But maybe just for me.

15.  “Weekend in New England”/Barry Manilow. [listens and remembers something] [long pause] Mmmmm . . . . I’m sorry, you were saying?

14.  “Higher and Higher”/Rita Coolidge. It was a Chicago radio thing for DJs to occasionally talk after playing a jingle. I maintain that a DJ could justifiably talk after Rita’s cold opening on this record, although I’ve never done it myself.

13.  “Best of My Love”/Emotions. Sounds better to me now than it did then.

12.  “Southern Nights”/Glen Campbell. As I hoped for David Bowie after his death, I hope Glen Campbell had some inkling, while he was alive, of just how beloved he was.

11. “Da Doo Ron Ron”/Shaun Cassidy. In one of the very first posts at this blog back in 2004, I told the world how much I like this record, and I still do.

10.  “Rich Girl”/Hall and Oates. What I am pretty sure is the most-commented-upon post in the history of this blog, back in 2012, was inspired in part by the reluctance of certain radio stations to air the word “bitch” in “Rich Girl.”

9./8.  “Sir Duke”/Stevie Wonder and “The Things We Do for Love”/10cc. What has made these records enjoyable for 40 years is their 180-proof, no-apologies joyfulness.

7.  “Torn Between Two Lovers”/Mary Macgregor. Even 40 years ago, there was a sense of “This is one of the top songs in the country? This? Really?”

6.  “Star Wars Theme-Cantina Band”/Meco. This is the only part of the Star Wars universe I have ever been interested in.

5.  “Blinded by the Light”/Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. This song frequently reminds me of a frozen, pre-dawn Saturday morning bus ride to a high-school wrestling tournament I didn’t want to attend, knowing it would be 18 hours before we got home.

4.  “Hot Line”/Sylvers. A monster in Chicago. I don’t know where WIND ranked it during its chart run, but WLS had it at #1 for two weeks in February.

3.  “I Just Want to Be Your Everything”/Andy Gibb. Not just four weeks at #1 and four months in the Top 10, but nine straight weeks in the top three of the Hot 100.

2.  “Undercover Angel”/Alan O’Day. O’Day wrote three of the 1970s’ biggest love-it-or-hate-it hits: “Undercover Angel,” the Righteous Brothers’ “Rock and Roll Heaven,” and Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby,” as well as Cher’s fabulous “Train of Thought.”

1. “You Light Up My Life”/Debby Boone. Inevitable.

I wrote this post last December, intending to put it up around New Year’s, but I never did. I can’t remember why now, as it doesn’t seem to suck any more than the usual run of stuff around here. Hope you enjoyed it. 

4 thoughts on “That’s Rock and Roll

  1. Back in 1977, there was a local, ultra conservative A/C AM station that played a, I presume for 1976, custom edit of “Tonight’s The Night” from Rod Stewart that elminated the whole “…upstairs before the night’s too old.”

    In 1977, I was still hanging out at radio stations after 3 years, hoping they’d hire a 16 or 17 year old DJ. I was hanging out at said AM station, the then WRIE, and remember I saw a small reel from WWWE in Cleveland (then a music station) that contained a very well done custom edit of “Rich Girl” that substituted “you’re a rich girl” for “it’s a bitch girl.” All I remember it was edited creatively and would love a copy as a collector’s item. Anyone know who their production director or music director was in early 1977 who might have created it at WWWE?

  2. Hooks and Harmony

    Wow – too many good ones here to mention. Let me say that I first knew of “That’s Rock n Roll” and “Hey Deanie” from Shaun Cassidy, not Eric Carmen. Rita Coolidge’s “Higher and Higher” is sublime. And you’re right – “Nobody Does It Better” is a lost classic.

  3. porky

    re: Alan O’Day. I recently heard “Angie Baby” and wondered what it was that propelled it to number one, then thought: If a radio and its effect on the titular subject was not in this song, would it have been a hit?

    Also in the car recently goofing along with “Gonna Fly Now” I substituted bomp, bomp bomps ala Jan and Dean ( like “Tennessee”) during the melody and by golly it works! If retro-fitted 80’s songs done 50’s style sounds interesting, check out Big Daddy who made some hilarious records in that vein.

  4. Wesley

    “Torn Between Two Lovers” not only topped the Billboard Hot 100, it was one of the top 10 songs of the year, plus #1 adult contemporary and even #3 country (huh?). It even inspired a 1979 TV-movie of the same name that used it as its theme. It’s now one of those songs that even the most rabid of oldies stations rarely plays apart from its appearances on American Top 40 reruns.

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