In the Air

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(Pictured: ELO performs “Mr. Blue Sky,” 1978.)

After the post earlier this week about the AT40 show from July 15, 1978, here’s the inevitable Bottom 60—songs on their way on to and off of Casey’s show, and plenty that never got there at all.

46. “Shame”/Evelyn “Champagne” King
52. “Boogie Oogie Oogie”/A Taste of Honey
56. “Macho Man”/Village People
76. “I Love the Nightlife”/Alicia Bridges
The disco train was rolling and some iconic records were aboard.

47. “I Need to Know”/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. “Breakdown” had spent a single week at #40 in February; “I Need to Know” would eventually peak at #41. “Listen to Her Heart” would get to #59 in the fall. After all that scratching at the door of the big chart, Petty would finally kick the door down in December 1979 with “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

49. “Mr. Blue Sky”/Electric Light Orchestra. I have never thought of it as a favorite album, but whenever ELO’s Out of the Blue comes up on shuffle or in the car, I find myself thinking, “Damn, this is great.” Also great: the 45 edit of “Mr. Blue Sky,” which omits the long ending and works a lot better as a result. It was available, at least for a while, on blue vinyl.

62. “Hot Child in the City”/Nick Gilder
64. “Just What I Needed”/Cars
72. “Kiss You All Over”/Exile
I associate these records (and several others on this chart, to be sure) with my first semester in college. I didn’t know it in the summer, but in December, “Hot Child in the City” would be one of the first songs I would ever play on the radio.

73. “An Everlasting Love”/Andy Gibb. It seems absurd that Gibb’s “Shadow Dancing” kept “Baker Street” at #2 for six weeks, but taken on its own, “Shadow Dancing” is a pretty good radio record, and so is “An Everlasting Love.”

78. “Love Is in the Air”/John Paul Young
79. “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)”/Chris Rea
There has never been anything else that sounds quite like these two records. “Love Is in the Air” repeats the same couple of ideas for several minutes to good effect, and the Disco Purrfection remix goes to another plane of existence entirely. It’s a shame that Rea’s album Whatever Happened to Benny Santini, produced by Gus Dudgeon, is officially out of print, because it’s really good, and “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)” is a record I never get tired of.

80. “I Can’t Wait Any Longer”/Bill Anderson. I’m glad to have a reason to write a little appreciation of Bill Anderson, who is one of the most likeable performers ever to come out of Nashville. Starting in 1960, Anderson hit consistently for nearly 20 years. His biggest country hits came back-to-back in 1962 and 1963, “Mama Sang a Song” and “Still,” each of which spent seven weeks at #1. “Still” went to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1963. Between 1966 and 1974 he hit #1 or #2 country 12 times with songs that emphasized his soft-spoken style and frequently, clever wordplay. The latter is the major appeal of “My Life (Throw It Away If I Want To),” a #1 hit from 1969; “Quits,” which went to #3 in 1971; and “Sometimes,” an adulterous duet with Mary Lou Turner that was his last #1 country hit in 1976. “I Can’t Wait Any Longer,” with its big proto-disco beat and lustful lyric, was his final major country hit and pop crossover. In the late 70s, Anderson became a ubiquitous TV personality, appearing on Match Game and doing a three-year run on One Life to Live. He also hosted TV game, talk, and variety shows in the 80s, 90s, and the new millennium, and he’s still working today, at the age of 81.

97. “Roll With the Changes”/REO Speedwagon
98. “He’s So Fine”/Jane Olivor
99. “Trans-Europe Express”/Kraftwerk
100. “Shaker Song”/Spyro Gyra
More music, better variety: a heartland rock rager that became a classic-rock standard, a New York cabaret singer covering the Chiffons, and a pair of instrumental pioneers, one in electronic music and the other in smooth jazz. All four were on their way out of the Hot 100 in this week.

Experiences with the music can color our perception of the music. We can’t always tell if we like it or dislike it on the basis of what’s in the grooves, or because of the associations we have with it: who we were with and what we were doing while it was on the radio. I have that problem—if it’s a problem—with 1976, and I wonder if 1978, or at least the summer of 1978, isn’t the same way.

One thought on “In the Air

  1. Wesley

    All your summaries of AT40 and Bottom 60 are quite enjoyable, JB, but this one is just exceptional. Agree 100% with what you’ve written here. Only thing I can think to add is that “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)” should’ve made the top 10, IMO.

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