(Pictured: Rod Stewart in the studio, 1979.)
Here’s a look inside Billboard magazine for the week of February 24, 1979.
—In Bowling Green, Ohio, music store Schoolkids Records has launched a new program. Owner Thom Abbott says, “I try to deliver records like pizzas—within 30 minutes after the order is phoned in.” Abbott’s target customers are the students at Bowling Green State University. “The store-to-door gambit isn’t as decadent as it appears,” Billboard says. “Usually Bowling Green winters are so fierce that only musical die-hards battle the icy stretches between the campus’ main dorm complex and the record stores.” Customers pay a buck or two over the in-store price per delivered album, but Abbott offers a price break for orders of two or three albums.
—Toto’s first single, “Hold the Line,” is at #98 on the Hot 100 this week, its 21st week on the chart. A review of the band’s February 8 club debut at the Roxy in Los Angeles is highly complimentary of the group’s musicianship, as befits a group of LA’s top session cats, but it doesn’t compliment much else. Ed Harrison writes, “None of Toto’s songs have any guts, all lacking that certain depth that separates them from the countless other songs churned out each year. Fortunately, ‘Hold the Line’ has such an engaging melody, coupled with multiple lyrical and instrumental hooks, that radio programmers couldn’t help but take notice. The remainder of Toto’s material is average, relying on intentional commercial devices and trite lyrics.” Harrison concludes by saying, “Until the band grows, which it does show potential to do, it will remain only a lightweight outfit with marginal depth, despite any success it achieves.”
—A full-page display ad touts a contest sponsored by A&M Records, the grand prize of which is a $20,000 customized Styx van, “loaded inside and out,” with the band’s logo on the hood and album covers painted on the sides. (See it on page 18 of the PDF at the link above.) Other prizes include Toshiba 5310 Beta-format video units, $1500 home stereo systems, Styx tour jackets, and Styx picture discs. The contest is apparently aimed at retailers and not consumers.
—Among the top-grossing bills currently on tour: Rose Royce with the Bar Kays, Michael Henderson, and Evelyn “Champagne” King; Steve Martin with Steve Goodman; the tripartite Parliament, Funkadelic, and Brides of Funkenstein; Heart with Firefall; and the J. Geils Band with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. (Note from the present: sweet mama that last one would have been one hell of a show.) Heart is also doing some dates backed by Wet Willie. Santana is on the road with a couple of different openers, Sad Café and Seawind.
(Further note from the present: Sad Café, which featured future Mike and the Mechanics singer Paul Young, who is not the “Every Time You Go Away” Paul Young, was just ending a seven-week chart run in this week with “Run Home Girl,” a generic light-pop single. My college radio station had been playing the vastly different and far-better “Strange Little Girl.”)
—Bob James’ Touchdown is #1 on the Jazz LPs chart. “Bustin’ Loose” by Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers is #1 on Hot Soul Singles. C’est Chic is atop the Soul LPs chart. C’est Chic was recently repackaged for release in the UK as Tres Chic, with a new cover and the addition of two earlier Chic hits, “Dance Dance Dance” and “Everybody Dance,” but Atlantic Records apparently did so without the consent of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. For that reason, the album has been withdrawn.
—Eddie Rabbitt’s “Every Which Way But Loose,” from the Clint Eastwood movie of the same name, is #1 on Hot Country Singles. The Gambler by Kenny Rogers is #1 on Hot Country LPs. “I Just Fall in Love Again” by Anne Murray is #1 on Easy Listening.
—Rod Stewart and the Bee Gees are dominating the main singles and album charts. “Do You Think I’m Sexy” is #1 on the Hot 100 for a third week, and “Tragedy” is #6, up from #19 last week after debuting on the Hot 100 at #29 the week before. Stewart’s album Blondes Have More Fun is #1 on Top LPs and Tape, but the Bee Gees’ Spirits Having Flown is up to #2 after debuting last week at #4.
Forty years ago this week, I was only a few weeks removed from my first real live radio shift the past December. I had a regular gig on the campus radio station, but all was not entirely rosy there. That story will appear here on Friday.