(Pictured: the Soul Clan. L to R: Ben E. King, Joe Tex, Don Covay, Wilson Pickett, and Solomon Burke.)
The Cash Box Archives are a fabulous resource for chart nerds. They disappeared from the interwebs for a time, but they’ve been back for a while now and are even better. They now include pop, country, and R&B/soul charts going back to late 1944 (I wrote about the first pop chart last fall) through the magazine’s demise in 1996. It’s vastly superior to anything you can get online from Billboard, and its only rival is the ARSA database of local radio charts.
The revised site includes listings for what Cash Box called “Looking Ahead,” equivalent to Billboard‘s Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart. So let’s poke around various late-July dates from bygone years to see what we can see.
July 29, 1961: this chart has a couple of songs that would endure a little bit (Barry Mann’s “Who Put the Bomp,” Dick and Dee Dee’s “The Mountain’s High”), a country smash (“Tender Years” by George Jones), big stars with forgotten hits (Ray Charles, the Miracles, Gene Pitney), the first appearance of a future star (Tony Orlando) and some deep weirdness. Chicago DJ Dick Biondi discovered an old rockabilly-ish song called “There’s a Fungus Among Us,” had it recut by a Chicago group called Hugh Barrett and the Victors, and turned it into a promotion. (The story is here.) “Song of the Nairobi Trio” by the Fortune Tellers is a version of the music Ernie Kovacs used for a famous recurring bit on his TV shows.
July 30, 1968: at #1 on the chart is “Soul Meeting” by the Soul Clan, a supergroup with a mind-boggling lineup: originally Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Don Covay, and Joe Tex. Before the group could record, Redding died (replaced by Arthur Conley) and Pickett left (replaced by Ben E. King). The latter lineup eventually made an album, each member recording his part separately, pieced together by Covay. The group had plans to be not just a recording act but a collective engaged in building an autonomous black business empire. But Atlantic Records was not interested in empire building, “Soul Meeting” foundered, and eventually the Soul Clan did too, although its legacy lives on. This 2017 story from the Oxford American tells the tale.
July 25, 1970: this chart (which is down to 40 positions from 50) contains several records we’ve mentioned here in the past, by Ten Wheel Drive, the Rattles, Elephant’s Memory, and Jim Campbell, as well as two that got entire posts, “Mill Valley” and “Wonder Could I Live There Anymore.” Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan, whose unlikely smash “Tennessee Birdwalk” has been a twisted favorite around here since always, were back on the chart with “Humphrey the Camel,” which is similarly bent, was another big country hit if not such a big pop crossover this time, and kinda racist.
July 29, 1972: now a 35-position chart, this one has some famous songs (“Rock Me on the Water,” “Delta Dawn,” “Garden Party, “Misty Blue,” “Walk on By”), 75 percent of Crosby Stills Nash and Young (“Southbound Train” and “Rock and Roll Crazies”) and a not-terrible cover of the Bee Gees “I.O.I.O” by Butch Patrick. Yup, Eddie Munster.
July 28, 1973: this chart (which is down to 30 positions and numbers them from #101 to #130, a change from earlier practice) is headed by Steely Dan’s “Show Biz Kids” and “Rock and Roll Heaven” by the group Climax, famed for “Precious and Few.” Their version predates the Righteous Brothers by a year, but is not remotely as good. The chart also includes “The Answer” by Connie Francis, subtitled “Should I Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree?”, which I invite you to listen to for as long as you can stand it. Same with “Old Betsy Goes Boing Boing Boing” by the Hummers, which was inspired by a Mazda commercial of the time.
July 27, 1976: the chart is down to 20 positions now. There are a couple of pretty good country-pop records on it: “Rocky Mountain Music” by Eddie Rabbitt and “Stranger” by Johnny Duncan, plus T. G. Sheppard’s cover of “Solitary Man,” all of which were country chart-toppers that summer. And any chart with “Kid Charlemagne” and “Cherry Bomb” is OK with me.
By the summer of 1977, the Looking Ahead chart was pared to 10 positions. It began to appear intermittently starting in 1979, later shrinking to three entries before being dropped entirely in 1982 and resurrected in 1990. Because we thirst after the kind of obscurities found thereon, we’ll probably dip back into it at some future time.
10 thoughts on “Boing Boing Boing”
One of my favorite Robert W. Morgan lines: “Dick and Deedee on KHJ. The Mountain’s High…..in the privacy of its own range.”
Okay, maybe it was funnier in 1968.
Year ago, I had an email conversation with the late Alan O’Day, co-writer of “Rock & Roll Heaven.” He mentioned the Climax version to me, so I found the single and bought it, which is how it ended up on YouTube. And it is very inferior to the RB’s version. (O’Day noted that the Brothers and their producers made a few changes to the lyrics. I could never determine if that annoyed him or not; I got the sense, from the tone of his emails, that it did, though he clearly said he was fine with it. Songwriter royalties no doubt smooth out such feelings.)
Love Alan’s work, “Easy Evil” the “hit song” that never was, covered by lots of folks.
Was discussing the late Emitt Rhodes with my son, talking one-man records, which brought to mind “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” by Todd Rundgren, and here it is in the July 29, 1972 Cash Box. Fabulous song.
Forgive my ignorance, but are access to the Record World charts controlled by Joel Whitburn and thus not readily available on the internet either? I don’t blame the guy for making money off them if he’s got the rights, but if so, this is 2020. Charge a user’s fee and let us access the old charts online that way.
It’s amazing how many times Billboard, Cash Box and Record World all differed as to what was the number one record of the week, not to mention those records at other positions on their charts. In fact, between trying to calculate double-sided hits and estimating how much to weigh airplay and jukebox picks, it may be more impressive whenever we had some agreement between the three charts.
When the Cash Box archives disappeared, I presumed it was because Whitburn had obtained the rights to them and was going to publish books based on them. Which he has, although the archives are back online regardless. Regarding what’s up with online access to Record World, I don’t know.
I think you got it right in the last sentence, Wesley. Differing methodologies. I’ve forgotten most of what I knew at one point about Record World, but Cash Box factored in jukebox play, which guaranteed a different outcome (in most cases) from Billboard.
If I can trust the publication dates on Amazon, it looks like Whitburn hasn’t published a new book in about four years—there are very few new copies of any available and used prices are through the roof ($140.01 for the one used copy of “Top Pop Singles 1955-2015”).
Joel turns 81 in November. The era of the “Whitburn Book” may be ending. I recently tripped over this site, which offers most of the chart data for $5.00 a month (six month minimum). No idea whether this is one lawsuit from oblivion or the thing we’ll all be using from now on:
Whitburn still publishes a few new titles each year, including somewhat regular updates of what must be his biggest sellers (Top Pop Singles and Hot Country Songs), see recordresearch.com . Their press runs are smaller than in the past, which may account for the perceived scarcity on the secondary sellers markets.
As Aaron said, Joel and the Record Research crew are still putting out new books. Why anyone would consider shelling out $140.01 for a used copy of an older edition of Top Pop Singles makes no sense, when the best one of all is very much in print, for $60 less than that. I recently sent RR’s Paul Haney a thank-you note on another forum for the work he did on Top Pop Singles 1955-2018, which I’d ordered for the pre-publication discount rate from their website.
This tome is not only packed with information, it’s great exercise, too, since it weighs in at over six-and-a-half pounds. I’d initially filed it an arm’s reach away on the bookshelf, until moving it to a spot next to the turntable, because I was using it so frequently. Not only does it include all Billboard pop positions (Hot 100 + bubbling under), it also notes #1 hits on other charts:Music Vendor/Record World, Cash Box. Radio & Records and the U.K. Hall Of Fame songs, with rankings, are in there, too.
Then there’s my favorite part: the non-Hot 100, non-bubbling listings: territorial and regional breakouts, plus “classic non-Hot 100 songs.” Examples of the latter: ABBA’s include “Gimme! Gimme Gimme!”, “Happy New Year”, “I Have A Dream”, and others, and ZZ Top’s “Concrete And Steel”, “Got Me Under Pressure” and “Viva Las Vegas”, plus more.
Paul said it’s as big of a book as they’re able to physically publish, which means some of the breakout listings and such may have to be eliminated in future editions. So if that is the kind of stuff you live for, this is the one to get:
The Comparison Book 1954-1982 is also great, since it shows every BB, MV/RW and CB listing during those years. Also recommended: Radio & Records Top Pop Hits 1973-2009.
Paul says Record Research is down to primarily two full-time people: himself and Joel Whitburn. Joel’s wife, Fran, was very seriously injured in a boating accident a couple of years ago, so Paul does most of the research these days. He even provided a tour of his brand-new office recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1LmbHvBk7U
YahShure: Thanks for the update!