(Pictured: Freda Payne sings on Top of the Pops in 1970.)
After recapping an AT40 show, we usually explore the next 60 positions on the chart in search of records that are notable, interesting, historic, or weird. For this edition of the feature, I’m tempted to simply reproduce the entire Bottom 60 from June 5, 1971, and say, “See?”
47. “Don’t Pull Your Love”/Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds
58. “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again”/Fortunes
62. “Take Me Home Country Roads”/John Denver and Fat City
64. “Mr. Big Stuff”/Jean Knight
77. “Sooner or Later”/Grass Roots
80. “You’ve Got a Friend”/James Taylor
88. “Signs”/Five Man Electrical Band
See? All of these would eventually make the Top 10, and they stand 50 years later as the distilled essence of that AM-radio summer.
48. “High Time We Went”-“Black Eyed Blues”/Joe Cocker. I have dug “High Time We Went” forever, but until this morning I had no idea what the precise lyrics are.
49. “13 Questions”/Seatrain. This California band of constantly shifting membership contained, at one point or another, veterans of the Blues Project, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and Earth Opera. “13 Questions” is on their second album, titled Seatrain after their debut had been called Sea Train, and was produced by George Martin.
59. “Melting Pot”/Booker T and the MGs. This is the last week on the Hot 100 for the last hit single by Booker T and the MGs.
60. “Tarkio Road”/Brewer and Shipley
76. “Get It On”/Chase
84. “Never Ending Song of Love”/Delaney and Bonnie
I did not list these under “See?” because they feel like they’re a cut below that level for most people, although to me they’re as indelibly stamped.
66. “Bring the Boys Home”/Freda Payne. Although white singers did plenty of famous antiwar songs, the ones by Black performers, especially by 1970 or so, carry extra weight, considering that Black and poor communities were most heavily affected by the Vietnam-era draft. “Bring the Boys Home” is one of the strongest antiwar sentiments ever to make it big on AM radio.
72. “Hot Love”/T. Rex. I bought nothing but 45s from 1971 until the end of 1973, but why I bought what I bought is a mystery to me now. “Hot Love,” for example: WLS charted it for only three weeks and it peaked at #24, but I heard it enough and dug it enough to lay down my 95 cents. Later, I’d buy “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” too.
78. “Done Too Soon”-“I Am I Said”/Neil Diamond. Radio stations that turned over “I Am I Said” in favor of “Done Too Soon” got a “We Didn’t Start the Fire”-style list of prominent names, concluding with a slow verse that’s kinda moving:
And each one there had one thing to share
They had sweated beneath the same sun
Looked up in wonder at the same moon
And wept when it was all done
For bein’ done too soon
87. “Walk Away”/James Gang. In its day, on the singles chart, “Walk Away” would peak at #51. A decade later, it would be in the classic-rock radio canon.
89. “If Not for You”/Olivia Newton-John. The first hit of her career, in its second week on the chart.
91. “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong”/Gladys Knight and the Pips. With several arrangers and producers getting credit on the If I Were Your Woman album, it’s not easy to tell who’s responsible for the great sound of “I Don’t Want to Do Wrong,” but master arranger David Van De Pitte and underrated producer Clay McMurray are among those credited, so they’re a safe bet.
92. “Love Means (You Never Have to Say You’re Sorry)”/Sounds of Sunshine. Inspired by Jenny’s famous line from the movie Love Story but not otherwise related to the film, “Love Means” went to #5 on Billboard‘s Easy Listening chart, spent a single week (July 31, 1971) on the Hot 100, and was two weeks on the WLS chart. The Sounds of Sunshine, three closely harmonizing California brothers, were frequently mistaken for the Lettermen, who recorded their own version of “Love Means” in 1972 because of course they did.
95. “I’ve Found Someone of My Own”/Free Movement. This record was the longest-charting Hot 100 hit of 1971, 26 weeks—five of which came in May and June before it dropped out for a couple of weeks. It came back in July and eventually made it to #5.
96. “Mandrill”/Mandrill. Homework assignment for the readership: other songs that have the same name as the band that recorded them.
Fifty years ago this month, the fifth grade was over and summer had come—a summer that would sound different to me than any one before.