(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 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.
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