Can You Handle It?

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(Pictured: Charlie Rich sings on the 1978 TV special The Phenomenon of Benji, which is a real thing that happened.)

Thanks to all for weighing in on my thesis about the blandness of the spring of 1974 and what it says about the changing face of radio pop as the long 1960s came to a close. Let me add, based on your comments, that I don’t have anything against “Come and Get Your Love.” Its proximity to less interesting stuff on the radio in that season has colored it a little for me, that’s all. Also, you like the Diana Ross/Marvin Gaye “My Mistake” a lot more than I do; Motown’s early-70s pairings of established superstars seem to me like a cash grab and not in any way organic.

Here’s what else was on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of May 4, 1974. See anything you like?

45. “Eres Tu”/Mocedades
46. “Sundown”/Gordon Lightfoot
“Eres Tu,” which had been a Top-10 hit, is more bland spring-of-’74 pop. But the future #1 “Sundown” is a sign that the summer of 1974 is going to be way more interesting.

47. “Jet”/Paul McCartney and Wings
49. “Rock Around the Clock”/Bill Haley and the Comets
52. “Star Baby”/Guess Who
77. “La Grange”/ZZ Top
83. “If You Want to Get to Heaven”/Ozark Mountain Daredevils
84. “Teenage Love Affair”/Rick Derringer
97. “Already Gone”/Eagles
The rock ‘n’ roll on this Hot 100 is outside the Top 40. “Jet” and “Star Baby” are on their way down; the rest are moving up. “Rock Around the Clock” was on the chart due to the success of the TV show Happy Days, about which I’ll say more next week.

55. “Chameleon”/Herbie Hancock. Here’s the funkiest thing on the Hot 100 in this week, which is sayin’ something since James Brown’s “The Payback” and “Jungle Boogie” are on the list, too. “Chameleon” would make #42, vastly higher than the much-better-remembered “Rockit,” which made it only to #71 in 1983.

56. “Dance With the Devil”/Cozy Powell. Take some of Sandy Nelson’s “Teen Beat,” shake it up with “Rock and Roll Part 2,” add some surf guitar, shanghai a choir from someplace, and you end up with “Dance With the Devil.” It peaked on the Hot 100 during the week of April 27 at #49.

57. “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”/Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods
96. “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”/Paper Lace
Paper Lace had the big hit in the UK; Bo Donaldson would have it in the States. But Paper Lace would have their own monster American smash before too long.

67. “There Won’t Be Anymore”/Charlie Rich
80. “I Don’t See Me in Your Eyes Anymore”/Charlie Rich
Add these to “A Very Special Love Song,” which was still in the Top 40, to make three Charlie Rich hits on the Hot 100 in the same week. These two were on RCA, which was releasing old product from its vaults to compete with his more recent recordings on Epic.

81. “(I’m a) YoYo Man”/Rick Cunha. Google the phrase “yo yo craze” and you will find that every decade from the 50s to the 90s had one, until screen-based entertainment conquered all. “(I’m a) YoYo Man” somehow made #61 despite not doing anything for 2:46.

82. “One Chain Don’t Make No Prison”/Four Tops. The Tops scored several hits on ABC Dunhill after leaving Motown, and I can’t help but wonder how much hotter “One Chain Don’t Make No Prison” would have been with the Funk Brothers burnin’ behind them. As it was, it would peak at #41.

84. “Save the Last Dance for Me”/DeFranco Family. After the #3 hit “Heartbeat It’s a Lovebeat” and “Abracadabra,” which peaked at #32 on the Hot 100 (but #5 on WLS), the DeFrancos would get to #18 with this smooth Drifters cover.

87. “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”/Frank Sinatra. Guess which Jim Croce song Frank Sinatra would turn into a hit, and “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” is fairly far down the list. Yet it made #84 on the Hot 100 and #31 on adult contemporary despite being dreadful.

88. “The Air That I Breathe”/Hollies
89. “Be Thankful for What You Got”/William deVaughn
One of these will end up the most gorgeous record of the summer. “The Air That I Breathe” is woozy and perfect; as I have reminded you before, the Tom Moulton mix of “Be Thankful for What You Got” should be our National Anthem.

91. “Can You Handle It”/Graham Central Station. One of the more popular pieces I ever wrote at this website was inspired by the cover of a Warner Brothers Loss Leaders promotional compilation: “it was the only picture of breasts I could keep in my room at home without repercussions”. One of the songs on the album was “Can You Handle It,” an easy-rollin’ groove I dug from the first time I heard it, and one I continue to enjoy all these years later.

6 thoughts on “Can You Handle It?

  1. mikehagerty

    February through September of 1974 was the only period in my career where I worked for a straight-ahead Top 40 station, KSLY in San Luis Obispo. My station before that was block programmed, the stations after were Adult Contemporary (in those days, Top 40 minus the five or six hardest songs that week).

    I was music director at KSLY and I am still not sure whether, if we had played the rock songs more and the pop/novelty less, it would have made any difference in terms of the songs’ overall popularity. I think we were in a moment where, whether we had intel to back it up or not, the real rock fans had found FM, and those of us playing Top 40 on AM were increasingly dealing with an audience of teenage girls and their mothers.

  2. Wesley

    “If You Want to Get to Heaven” did remarkably well on the pop chart at the time given the second line in its chorus using the word “hell,” which alone probably banned it from some stations playing it (it peaked at #25). As for what I like, “Jet,” “The Air That I Breathe” and “Be Thankful for What You’ve Got” are all superior. Oh, and of course I can’t forget “Rock Around the Clock,” more enjoyable to my ears than much of the rest listed here.

    And thanks for your explanations regarding “Come and Get Your Love” and “My Mistake,” jb, although they weren’t necessary. Frankly, if we all agreed on everything musically, I’d be worried we all have become bots rather than human beings. A few differing opinions are always good to note, in my differing opinion.

  3. mackdaddyg

    “Also, you like the Diana Ross/Marvin Gaye “My Mistake” a lot more than I do; Motown’s early-70s pairings of established superstars seem to me like a cash grab and not in any way organic.”

    Cash grab? Probably. Not organic? Sure. It looks like a majority of their vocals for the album were recorded at separate times (meaning they weren’t in the studio at the same time) and in a way it sounds like it.

    Motown’s magic for me fades as the seventies move along. They were still putting out top notch stuff, but it just isn’t as magical to me. “My Mistake” caught me off guard because it’s a lovely tune and even though they weren’t near each other at all when they laid down their vocals, Mr. Gaye and Ms. Ross sound terrific. When you don’t expect to hear something like that, it really makes an impression. That’s my excuse, anyway.

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