Midwestern Jams

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(Pictured: Midwestern rock gods Kevin Cronin and Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon, on stage in 1980.)

Following on from Friday’s post, here’s some of what was below the Top 40 during the week of May 27, 1978.

41. “Follow You, Follow Me”/Genesis. From . . . And Then There Were Three, the first album by the Genesis configuration that transitioned from prog-rock to pop radio. My favorite single of theirs.

52. “Since You Been Gone”/Head East. If you hear “Since You Been Gone” on the radio today, it’s likely to be the 1979 version by Rainbow. Here in the Midwest, we dig the poppier OG by Head East. (But our radio stations play Rainbow more often because of course they do.)

53. “Ça Plane Pour Moi”/Plastic Bertrand. Here in the Midwest, I never heard this on the radio, as it was not a Midwestern sort of jam. It does, however, have quite a backstory.

63. “Roll With the Changes”/REO Speedwagon. I have just listened to “Roll With the Changes,” a classic of the Midwest heartland-rock genre, for the first time in a while and I had forgotten how completely awesome it is. I’m a grown-ass man sitting at my desk playing air guitar and keyboards and singing “keep on rollin'” like I was 18 again. /hits repeat button/

69. “Grease”/Frankie Valli. “You’re the One That I Want” by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta had been to #1 and was #3 in this week; “Grease” was the highest debut on the Hot 100. The movie wouldn’t come out for three weeks yet.

71. “Stayin’ Alive”/Bee Gees. On this week’s AT40 show, Casey mentioned that “Stayin’ Alive” was off the show after 22 weeks, which means it debuted in mid-December 1977.

74. “It’s Late”/Queen. Somebody at Elektra Records deduced that “It’s Late” would be a hit, but I’d like ’em to show their work. This is its peak position.

76. “Miss You”/Rolling Stones. This was the first week on for “Miss You.” The return of the Stones after two years was a big rock ‘n’ roll news story in the summer of 1978, at least for a while.

78. “Hold On to the Night”/Starz. Two members of this band had been in Looking Glass (“Brandy”). They were signed by KISS manager Bill Aucoin and their first two albums were produced by Jack Douglas, who produced Aerosmith’s mid-70s work. They made a living for a while as the eternal opening act, on the bill with everybody, the band that played right after gates opened at the World Series of Rock, or whatever they called those daylong shows at the baseball stadium in your town. (Here’s more about their rise and fall.)

89. “King Tut”/Steve Martin. I have mentioned here before that the Saturday Night Live episode broadcast on April 22, 1978, is the single greatest episode in the show’s history. It’s the show that featured the Czech Brothers, the Blues Brothers, Theodoric of York, Martin and Gilda Radner’s “Dancing in the Dark,” and “send more Chuck Berry.” (Watch it here.) In addition, Martin performed “King Tut” that night, and it became a perfectly timed novelty given the cultural interest in the treasures of Tutankhamen that summer.

93. “Georgia on My Mind”/Willie Nelson. This is the first single from Stardust, Willie’s first Great American Songbook album, produced by Booker T. Jones and recorded in Emmylou Harris’ living room. “Georgia on My Mind” and “Blue Skies” would go #1 country and “All of Me” would make #3, but “Georgia” is the only single that made the Hot 100. (This piece about the making of Stardust is excellent.)

99. “I Go Crazy”/Paul Davis. Down from #95 last week, and in its 40th week on the Hot 100, which was the longest chart run ever at the time. The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” spent 43 weeks in the Top Five, in case you still think there’s any validity in comparing charts from the pre- and post-streaming eras.

100. “Mama Let Him Play”/Doucette. Down from #98 last week, this is a song I’ve written about before. Even though Jerry Doucette was from Canada, “Mama Let Him Play” vibrates on the same wavelength as “Since You Been Gone” and “Roll With the Changes,” and all the Midwestern dudes say “hell yeah.”

101. “(You’re Such a) Fabulous Dancer”/Wha-Koo. Wha-Koo was the sort of superstar (or superstar-adjacent) supergroup record labels loved to risk budget on in the late 70s. It included former members of Steely Dan, Buddy Holly’s Crickets, and Savoy Brown, but the original lineup lasted for just one album. That album, Berkshire, was produced by Ken Caillat, co-producer of Rumours, and goes for the same sort of vibe.

6 thoughts on “Midwestern Jams

  1. Wesley

    The top record store chain in North Carolina in 1978, the much-missed Record Bar, had a clever display at the time where four footprints on the ground, each containing one word from “Follow You, Follow Me,” led to a display of the single and album from Genesis. This is the type of promotion us music old-timers miss seeing in the stores. Should’ve been a top 10 hit rather than stall out at number 23, in my opinion.

    On another note, it’s still mind boggling to me that “Staying Alive,” “You’re the One That I Want” and “Grease” all failed to even get nominated for Best Song by the Academy Awards while non-hits like “The Slipper and the Rose Waltz,” “Someone’s Waiting for You,” “When You’re Loved” and “The Last Time I Felt Like This” filled up the ballots in the late 1970s instead. Of course, today almost all the Best Song winners are songs that never become hits, with the notable exception of “Shallow” by Lady Gaga.

  2. Jake

    Mama Let Him Play and Roll With The Changes still get played on Minneapolis classic rock radio to this day. I heard them so much as a kid in the 80s I assumed that they were top 10 national hits

  3. mikehagerty

    “Follow You Follow Me” was the first Genesis single I could program on Adult Contemporary radio—and did. A wonderful song that should have been bigger, with an into that lent itself to coming out of literally any program element that preceded it, and which sounded like no other song.

    “Ca Plane Pour Moi” got zero airplay in Reno, Nevada, where I was at the time, but if you counted spins on my office turntable and at home as I told friends “You’ve gotta hear this”, it would have been top ten.

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