Get the 45

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At some point during April 1975, I kissed a girl for the first time. As I wrote in 2010, “It was not a hormonally driven assault on a somewhat-willing target; it was, in fact, as magical as you’d like your first kiss to be.” I hope it’s because my memory is full and not failing, but the American Top 40 show from April 12, 1975, doesn’t bring that time back quite as vividly as I’d like it to. But memories aside, there was some interesting stuff on the show.

39. “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You”/Sugarloaf
38. “Autobahn”/Kraftwerk
There has never been anything else that sounds quite like either one of these records.

31. “Tangled Up in Blue”/Bob Dylan
30. “Stand by Me”/John Lennon
Not bad, 1975. Not bad at all. The speedy wordplay of “Tangled Up in Blue” is a little incongruous amidst the pop tunes, but the record always sounds good no matter when you hear it. Meanwhile, Lennon sounds desperate for connection and support, which at the time he recorded “Stand by Me,” he might have been.

25. “The Bertha Butt Boogie (Part 1)”/Jimmy Castor Bunch. Me, 2015: “To make sense of “The Bertha Butt Boogie,” it helps to know a little about the universe Jimmy Castor created on his earlier records, lest his references to the Butt Sisters, Leroy, and the Troglodyte leave you baffled. Or you can just surrender to the absolutely ferocious groove and not worry about it.”

23. “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)”/Tony Orlando and Dawn. This is a remake of Jerry Butler’s “He Will Break Your Heart,” renamed, Casey says, because producer Hank Medress kept calling it “He Don’t Love You” and finally got permission from the publisher to change it. I have a theory that certain songs are helped by the time of the year in which they appear; this would have felt different had it hit in a season other than springtime. And I love the way it starts—so much so that on the radio, I won’t talk over the first five seconds of it.

22. “Satin Soul”/Love Unlimited Orchestra. ABC Sports used “Satin Soul” as a theme for its golf coverage back in the middle of the 70s. One fine night in college, a couple of us used it on a fake golf broadcast we made up, in which various classmates were playing in a tournament and having various misadventures on the course. That tape must be out there somewhere, although I don’t think I have it.

14. “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”/Freddy Fender. This song, which had gone #1 country in March, would spend three weeks at #2 on the Hot 100 in May before hitting #1 at the end of the month, and somebody smarter than me will have to explain its crossover appeal.

13. “Harry Truman”/Chicago. Casey tells the story of President Truman’s 1950 dust-up with a music critic who panned a public performance by Truman’s daughter, and quotes from the letter Truman wrote to the critic as “Someday I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, and a lot of beefsteak for black eyes.” Casey leaves off the last part of that sentence, however: “and perhaps a supporter below!”

12. “Supernatural Thing (Part 1)”/Ben E. King. Introducing King’s first big chart hit since 1963, Casey says it’s one of four “comeback records” this week, but doesn’t elaborate. So let me guess on the other three. Two of the comeback artists must be Frankie Valli (“My Eyes Adored You” #27), who hadn’t been in the Top 40 since 1967, and Shirley and Company (“Shame Shame Shame,” #35); as part of Shirley and Lee, Shirley Goodman hit big in 1956 with “Let the Good Times Roll.” Best candidate for the third one is B. J. Thomas ( “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” #6), who had been absent from the Top 40 since 1972.

3. “The No No Song”-“Snookeroo”/Ringo Starr. “The No No Song” is pretty much what people expected from the funny Beatle by this time. Why “Snookeroo” took off as the flipside, I don’t know. Squeamishness about playing the A-side, which mentions marijuana and cocaine? “Snookeroo” was custom-written for Ringo by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, with Elton on piano and doing the opening count-off, but there’s absolutely nothing to it.

1. “Philadelphia Freedom”/Elton John. The chart action on “Philadelphia Freedom” is pretty interesting. It went 53-35-11-3-2 before its two weeks at #1 in April. Then it went 2-4-7-11-15 before returning to the Top 10 for two weeks in June, about the time the Captain Fantastic album came out. Maybe that’s because it wasn’t on the album, and people discovered that if they wanted it, they had to go get the 45.

12 responses

  1. I believe the real reason for Philadelphia Freedom’s sudden “resurgence” was Elton’s appearance on Soul Train.

  2. I sorta figured from the headline, we’d get into the 45 vs the LP, which, on this list, makes some sense. “Autobahn” was heavily edited from the album version, and Columbia sped up “Tangled Up In Blue” for the single.

    I am also at a loss to explain or understand how Freddy Fender ended up on Top 40 radio—not once, but twice.

  3. John Gallagher | Reply

    Years ago, I did a recreation of the promo 45 short version of “Tangled Up In Blue” which is not only sped up like the longer 45 version but has edits as well. The promo runs 3:27.

  4. My memory from that Spring is a little spotty, between working full-time, taking a full load of classes at the University and being Music Director at the campus station. I delegated some of the album reviewing to my eventual successor, who’d grown up on prog and metal, not top-40. Upon listening to the ‘Blood On The Tracks’ LP we’d been serviced, he said, “I don’t know who this is on side one, but it sure isn’t Dylan.”

    I put it on the office turntable and dropped the stylus briefly on the first five cuts and didn’t know who it was, either. When “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)” turned out to be cut 6, the mystery wasn’t entirely solved: I knew it was the Buckinghams, but what were they doing on a new album with one hit and five songs I’d never heard before? The answer arrived a couple weeks later, with their double-LP ‘Made In Chicago’ collection.

    So I had to “get the 45” out to dub “Tangled Up In Blue” to cart (the short version.) It wasn’t the only screw-up at CBS’ Terre Haute plant that year: our promo 45 of Michael Murphey’s “Wildfire” played the Carpenters’ stock 45 “This Masquerade” on the stereo-labeled “Wildfire” side and “Please Mr. Postman” on the mono-labeled side. When I dropped by the local CBS promo office shortly thereafter to pick up a couple of stock “Wildfire” 45s, the Epic promo guy told me that there’d been a more embarrassing mixup: a large number of jukebox accounts ended up with copies of Minnie Ripertons’ “Lovin’ You” that actually played the Ohio Players’ “Fire.” That must’ve been fun.

    That Dylan mispressing was a result of someone misreading the matrix number on side one: 33335 (Buckinghams) instead of 33235 (Dylan) and grabbing the wrong side one metal plate. It apparently went out that way only to some college stations.

    Hot on the heels of Elton’s “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” 45-only cracklefest, I had to drop by the local MCA office yet again to pick up a handful of “Philadelphia Freedom” promo 45s, in the hope that at least one of them didn’t sound like it was recorded around a roaring campfire. What a poor excuse for a record manufacturer that company was, at least at their plant in Pinckneyville, IL.

    Freddy Fender? No idea.

    1. MCA was one of the earliest users of recycled vinyl. And, as pretty much everything MCA did in those days, they went cheap. I returned FIVE copies of “Captain Fantastic” before I got one that I thought had acceptable sound.

      One of them played the worst—skipped— even looked kinda strange. After hauling out the magnifying glass, it was obvious that there were bits of something other than vinyl in the grooves. The “recycled” vinyl also included the label from the donor record.

      1. Mike, I may have a couple of those five copies you returned, in a manner of speaking: during one of my visits to the local MCA office, the promo rep handed me a couple of ‘Captain Fantastic’ promotional coasters, which were nothing more than the labels punched from what he said were defective copies of the album. And those had to be from the *better* rejects: at least their labels were properly centered!

        My main issue with MCA wasn’t the use of regrind; it was their poor pressing standards. Improper press cycle times and temperatures, combined with non-fill problems led too often to predictable results: a crackling sound that repeated with each revolution of the record. As bad as the promo 45s could be, the stock copies were usually even worse.

        I generally found that quality control was better at MCA’s Gloversville, NY plant, but the problem for those of us in the middle and western parts of the country was that we rarely ever got product from there. Gloversville and Pinckneyville both pressed promo records, and at least here in Minneapolis, the promo 45s and LPs were mailed from Pinckneyville.

  5. I believe “Snookeroo” is played as often as “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” on most oldies stations today, meaning relegated only to appearances on American Top 40-The 70s shows. Who would’ve thought that after his seventh consecutive top 10 single (and first double-sided one), Ringo Starr wouldn’t be able to crack the top 25 thereafter?

    I recall someone with Chicago once complaining about how some executive idiots at Columbia Records decided to push “Harry Truman” in Japan, apparently unaware that what transpired shortly after he became president in 1945 made his popularity much lower in that country than in America, even 30 years later. As for repeat airplay, I’d put even money this is the least-played top 20 hit by Chicago from the 1970s, and probably just slightly above that of “Snookeroo” and “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.”

    1. “Harry Truman” deserves repeated plays less than any Chicago hit of the Seventies, or at least of the Terry Kath era.

      The song does have one bittersweet distinction: Unless I’ve forgotten something, it was the last Chicago Top 40 hit to be sung by Robert Lamm.
      (I respect Peter Cetera’s popularity but I’ve always loved Lamm’s voice, so I find his loss of the spotlight a little sad.)

      1. John Gallagher

        Harry Truman from Chicago hasn’t even made it to 70s on 7 on SiriusXM. I even checked back to the 2008 playlist compiled by Thomps2525 and not listed.

  6. As a listener of WLS 890 AM I seem to recall both “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” and “Autobahn” had customized versions that referenced the station. Anyone?

    I hadn’t taken the plunge into country yet but usually enjoyed whatever C&W records crossed over into pop, especially Freddy Fender’s hits. He got enough traction to actually place a couple of others, remakes in fact, into the pop Top 40, “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” and “Secret Love.”

    1. A lot of major market stations had versions of “Don’t Call Us” where the touchtones mimicked the station’s jingle.

  7. John Gallagher | Reply

    I was more of a 45 owner vs. LP owner in the early to mid 70s and my only exposure to Autobahn was the hacked up 45 edit.

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