Butterflies and Evergreens

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(Pictured: Dolly Parton, 1974.)

Instead of the usual look at the Bottom 60 of the Hot 100 that follows an American Top 40 post, I’m gonna go back to a chart I’ve wanted to revisit for a while: the Cash Box Looking Ahead chart, more-or-less equivalent to Billboard‘s Bubbling Under. Both are fine sources of the sort of obscure records we like around here, but Cash Box often seems to cast a wider net. Here’s some of what was on Looking Ahead during the week of November 2, 1974.

103. “Love Is Like a Butterfly”/Dolly Parton. Dolly hit #1 on the Billboard and Cash Box country charts three times in 1974: “Jolene” in January, “I Will Always Love You” in June, and “Love Is Like a Butterfly” in November. A fourth single with her old partner Porter Wagoner, “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me,” was also #1 during 1974, but only in Billboard.

105. “Voodoo Magic”/Rhodes Kids
124. “Careful Man”/John Edwards
The Rhodes Kids were on the GRC label; John Edwards was on Aware. Both labels were run by one Michael Thevis who, at one time, controlled 40 percent of the legal and black-market pornography market in the United States, an enterprise worth $100 million. (The record labels were legitimate businesses used to launder money; before the whole thing collapsed, GRC would score one gigantic hit: “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns.) The Rhodes Kids, a seven-member family group discovered by Thevis, claimed to have no knowledge of his porn connections, and to have severed their connections with him when they found out. With and without him, they played Vegas, did TV including American Bandstand, and enjoyed some modest success until the late 70s, when the oldest kids decided to go to college instead. There’s more about the Rhodes Kids here. Edwards was in the Spinners from 1977 to 2000, and he’s on their hit versions of “Working My Way Back to You” and “Cupid.” There’s a good overview of Thevis’ career here.

106. “Please Mr. Postman”/Pat Boone Family. Well knock me over with a feather. There is no reason to believe this version of “Please Mr. Postman” would be any good at all, but it kind of is. It catches more of the Marvelettes’ soul than the Carpenters did.

107. “Walking in the Wind”/Traffic
119. “Train Kept A Rollin'”/Aerosmith
125. “Sally Can’t Dance”/Lou Reed
At this time, Looking Ahead and Bubbling Under were sales charts. (Only later did Billboard start incorporating airplay into its big chart calculations.) These songs were far more likely to be heard by, and be of interest to, album fans than buyers of singles. So just how many 45s of each did the record labels have to move in order to make this chart? It couldn’t have been very many.

110. “He Did Me Wrong, But He Did It Right”/Patti Dahlstrom. As it happens, one of the leading experts on the career of Patti Dahlstrom is part of our little circle of nerds, so I refer you to whiteray at Echoes in the Wind.

112. “Evergreen”/Booker T. In 1974, Stax Records had yet to collapse, but Booker T. Jones was already gone. He moved to California and signed with Epic to release Evergreen, which one website calls “a laid-back roots album . . . far from the greasy soul-funk sound of the MGs.” Nevertheless, the instrumental “Evergreen” has that unmistakable Booker T. feel.

115. “Shoe Shoe Shine”/Dynamic Superiors. “Shoe Shoe Shine” not only appears at #115 on the Looking Ahead chart, it’s also at #99 on the regular Cash Box chart in this same week. (Proofreading and fact-checking are hard, a truth proven again and again over the 16-year history of the website you are reading.) The Dynamic Superiors were a Washington, DC-based group on Motown, fronted by Tony Washington, an openly gay man in a time before such a thing became widely accepted. His story and the story of the group, which is mighty interesting, is here.

122. “Roses Are Red My Love”/Wednesday. This group was big in Canada, where their cover of the death-rock classic “Last Kiss” went to #2. It was #34 in the States (in Billboard), but a smash in Chicago, where WLS charted it at #1 for a week in March 1974. The group went back to the well less successfully with “Teen Angel” that summer. “Roses Are Red My Love,” the old Bobby Vinton hit, was their last shot in America.

123. “My Eyes Adored You”/Frankie Valli. In its first week on the Looking Ahead chart, “My Eyes Adored You” would make #1 in both Cash Box and Billboard in the spring of 1975.

2 thoughts on “Butterflies and Evergreens

  1. Wesley

    “He Did Me Wrong, But He Did It Right” was covered by Bobbie Gentry, whose interesting story you’ve covered here previously, JB. And I had no idea that the Bobby Vinton revival in 1974 extended to a Canadian group covering “Roses Are Red My Love.” Fascinating.

  2. I’ve been out of the loop for a number of reasons, so I am late getting here, but thank you for the nod about my work about Patti Dahlstrom. She’s still one of my favorite lesser-knowns (as well as a friend).

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