Let’s Do It Again

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: Paul Simon on stage in December 1975.)

Several years ago, I referred to the week of January 10, 1976, as “one of the half-dozen most 70s weeks of the 70s”. I discovered that I have in my archives the American Top 40 show from that week, which I have somehow never written about. So here we go.

40. “Slow Ride”/Foghat
39. “Golden Years”/David Bowie
38. “Theme From S.W.A.T.“/Rhythm Heritage
37. “Paloma Blanca”/George Baker Selection
36. “Squeeze Box”/The Who
“One of the half-dozen most 70s weeks of the 70s”. QED. I could quit right now.

35. “Let’s Live Together”/Road Apples. Casey says this band is from Beloit, Wisconsin, which is about an hour south on I-90 from Madison, although there’s not a single citation on the Internet that confirms it. By 1976, they were based in Cambridge, Massachsetts, and a popular local act: “Let’s Live Together” hit #1 in Boston, Providence, and Pawtucket. (Bakersfield, California, too.) It’s technically a debut on American Top 40, but this is its third week in the top 40 of the Hot 100. Twelve songs entered the 40 over the two holiday weeks on which Casey did his year-end show.)

Casey answers several letters in the first hour of the show. One about the soundtrack with the longest run on the album chart reveals that the four longest-running soundtracks were all from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. Questions about whether there has ever been a week in which all of the Top 10 were by female artists, and another about whether there has ever been a week with no debuts within the Top 40, are disposed of with a single word: no.

Over the course of the show, Casey welcomes 10 new stations to the AT40 family. By the end of 1976, the show would be on over 350 stations coast to coast and around the world.

29. “Fly Robin Fly”/Silver Convention
24. “Winners and Losers”/Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds
21. “Over My Head”/Fleetwood Mac
18. “Evil Woman”/Electric Light Orchestra
17. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”/Paul Simon
13. “Singasong”/Earth Wind and Fire
6. “Fox on the Run”/Sweet
One of these is the best song on the show. My fondness for “Fly Robin Fly” and “Winners and Losers” borders on the irrational. With “Over My Head,” Fleetwood Mac started a chart run that would keep them somewhere in the Hot 100 for most of the next two years. “Evil Woman” and “Singasong” (one word, as it was styled on some early copies) still get radio play today. “50 Ways” was up from #34 the week before and would hit #1, in one of the great cosmic jokes, during Valentine’s week. And it occurs to me that nothing else sounds quite like “Fox on the Run.”

19. “Let’s Do It Again”/Staple Singers
5. “Saturday Night”/Bay City Rollers
These songs each hit #1 while Casey was doing the top 100 of 1975, on December 27 and January 3. (I wrote about that show in 2014: part 1 here, part 2 here.) He quotes reports in the Soviet press saying that the Rollers’ music “is designed, like all drugs, to stupefy people,” and that Rollermania is “more hysterical, more maniacal” than that inspired by the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. The Rollers’ manager responded by threatening to have the band march on Moscow. Well played, sir.

16. “Fly Away”/John Denver
15. “Rock and Roll All Nite”/KISS
A massive train wreck, without a commercial break or even a jingle between them.

12. “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)”/Glen Campbell. Casey reminds us that for 1975, Campbell had the #1 song of the year on the country chart and #2 on the pop chart, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” “Country Boy” peaked at #11 pop and #3 country during its chart run and was Billboard‘s #100 hit of 1976, but I’m betting that if there’s one song in the top half of this Top 40 that you don’t know, this is it.

4. “Love Rollercoaster”/Ohio Players
3. “Theme From Mahogany“/Diana Ross
2. “I Write the Songs”/Barry Manilow
These were all in the same spot as the previous week. “Love Rollercoaster” was in its third week at #4. It would stay #4 for one more week before going to #3 and then to #1 on January 31.

1. “Convoy”/C. W. McCall. With so little chart action at the top over the holidays, seeing “Convoy” vault from #6 to #1 is another indication of just how hot a record it was as 1976 began. I’ve written about it a lot over the years as a example of textbook storytelling technique, but here, it locks down the basic premise of this post: that the week of January 10, 1976, was as purely 1970s as the 1970s ever got. Oddball records and timeless classics, superstars and one-shots, they’re all here.

(Note to patrons: a new Sidepiece, with commentary on Wednesday’s events in Washington, went out yesterday. Check your spam filter. To receive future editions, sign up here.)

16 thoughts on “Let’s Do It Again

  1. I don’t remember what label the Road Apples were on, but their promotion people worked their tails off on that record. It may not have been a top ten hit, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

    Best song on the show? Probably “Singasong”. I could be convinced it’s “Over My Head”, but only if it’s the 45 promo mix.

    The Rollers weren’t as bad as their rep became. At least that’s my take if I listen without prejudice to “Saturday Night”.

    I am nowhere near a John Denver fan, but I will forever love “Fly Away” just for Olivia’s counter-melody.

    “Convoy” was the hit. “Wolf Creek Pass” was the better (and far funnier) record.

  2. >>and another about whether there has ever been a week with no debuts within the Top 40, are >>disposed of with a single word: no.

    You have me curious now: Did that ever happen? I’m guessing that during some January in the 70’s or 80’s, when new releases typically slowed down, that it might have.

    1. Casey said no as of January 1976. Whether it’s happened since I don’t know. I kind of doubt it, but somebody with a more easily searchable database (and a better work ethic than mine) would be the one to figure it out.

    2. I don’t think this happened in the ‘70s or ‘80s, though later as AT40 ceased to be based on the Hot 100, I think it happened in the ‘90s. Later in ‘76, it got close — the week of Aug. 28, Red Sovine’s “Teddy Bear” squeaked in for one week at No. 40 and was the week’s only debut. In 1987, the Cure did the same trick with “Just Like Heaven,” getting in for a week in the lead-off spot as the week’s sole debut.

      1. Totally by accident, I found a Cash Box chart from 1/7/78 that reported no debuts in the Top 100. It wasn’t a frozen chart (Cash Box started doing that in January 79). I don’t find anything similar in the few years around 1978.

  3. Scott Paton

    “Country Boy (You’ve Got Your Feet in L.A.)” is one of my Glen Campbell favorites. I thought writer/producers Dennis Lambert & Brian Potter crafted a clever sequel to “Rhinestone Cowboy,” the flipside of the former’s story, finding that yearned-for success to be somewhat hollow.

    The one song on this list that conjures zero memory of having heard it (but must have) is the Road Apples’ “Let’s Live Together.” Yet a quick search reveals that the song is here in my archive. Love those surprises!

  4. mackdaddyg

    I’ll also profess my love for “Country Boy.” I’ve loved it since it was released 45 years ago. With Glen’s singing, and that stellar arrangement and playing, that’s just about as perfect as a record can get.

  5. porky

    Lambert and Potter-sheesh, those guys were involved in some GREAT stuff.

    A buddy I played in bands with shouldn’t have liked The Rollers but saw them at the Illinois State Fair at their peak and still talks of it today, the energy, the whole scene. (An aside, I share the last name with both Scott on this forum and the Rollers’ manager, a fellow called Tam who was quite disgraceful).

    I love how Glen’s voice raises near the end (you got you FEET in L.A…..). Also a consumer tip, check out the flip-side of “Country Boy” called “Record Collector’s Dream,” with a pub-rock-like chorus. Love it.

  6. I got my copy of “Let’s Live Together” from “The Lost 45’s of the 70’s & 80’s, Volume Two” CD, but I always like putting the original album name and artwork of songs in my Itunes file. As far as I could find, the Road Apples never put out an album. Reunion (“Life Is A Rock But The Radio Rolled Me”) is another group that only left a single behind.

  7. Wesley

    The four longest running soundtracks by Rodgers and Hammerstein had to be South Pacific, Oklahoma, The King and I and The Sound of Music, right? Or did Flower Drum Song somehow pull off a surprise?

    And thanks again for a great job of writing in Sidepiece this week. It’s been very interesting but unsurprising this week noting how quiet my Trumpanzee friends have been on Facebook.

    1. mikehagerty

      Seconded. Sidepiece was tremendous this week, JB. And, like Wesley, I’m noting radio silence from the usual suspects on my FB feed, with the exception of the ones who are so desperate that they’ll photoshop a molotov cocktail into Nancy Pelosi’s hand in place of a gavel.

      1. I am hopeful that the over-the-top awfulness of Wednesday will peel off some of the Trumpers, whose support for the man does not extend to revolution. I am fearful (and certain) that more than enough will remain to support whatever might happen next. The Department of Defense does not seem like an entirely honest player in this (note their memo that refers to Wednesday’s events as “First Amendment protests”), and while the top generals have indicated that they won’t participate in any sort of fuckery, there are certainly people below the top echelons who would, especially if it meant they would get to be in the top echelons afterward.

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