Category Archives: American Bottom 60

Speak Softly

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(Pictured: Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall in The Godfather.)

I recently wrote about the very entertaining American Top 40 show from the week of May 6, 1972. Here’s what’s interesting from among the other 60 songs on the Hot 100 in that same week.

41. “Taurus”/Dennis Coffey. Coffey’s “Scorpio” had been a Top-10 hit early in the year. “Taurus,” which is in its first week out of the Top 40, is a rager, three minutes of fiery guitar and pounding percussion, and a ferocious groove. And another one of my 45s.

42. “Pool of Bad Luck”/Joe Simon
44. “Ask Me What You Want”/Millie Jackson

46. “Hearsay”/The Soul Children
Will say again: anybody who dismisses the music of the 1970s as vapid and/or cheesy has to account for the glorious soul music that was still being made during the first half of the decade. Of these three, only Millie Jackson would make it onto American Top 40. But “Hearsay” is classic Stax, gritty and great—as is the music of the Soul Children in general.

45. “Love Theme From The Godfather (Speak Softly Love)”Andy Williams
74. “Love Theme From The Godfather“/Carlo Savina
86. “Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)”/Al Martino
Earlier this spring I wrote about the massive movie success of Love Story, and the three versions of the theme that rode the charts at the same time in 1971. One year later, the massive movie success of the moment was The Godfather, which premiered in late March and was #1 at the box office for 11 out of the next 12 weeks. Andy Williams had the biggest hit version of “Love Story,” and his “Speak Softly Love” would become the biggest hit of the Godfather themes—but it would make only #34, where “Love Story” had gone to #9.

48. “Let’s Stay Together”/Isaac Hayes
49. “Do Your Thing”/Isaac Hayes
Two separate singles that had charted about a month apart find themselves together on this chart, “Let’s Stay Together” at its peak and “Do Your Thing” on the way down. Hayes had been the talk of the Academy Awards earlier in the spring, performing his Oscar-winning “Theme From Shaft” in a vest of chain mail.

52. “You Are the One”/Sugar Bears. The Sugar Bears were a studio group assembled to sell Post Super Sugar Crisp cereal, but as was common in the bubblegum era, their songs were made far better than they had to be. Those performing on Sugar Bears records included former First Edition member Mike Settle and pre-stardom Kim Carnes. If you do not get the appeal of “You Are the One,” I don’t think we’re compatible, and perhaps we should start seeing other people.

55. “Chantilly Lace”/Jerry Lee Lewis. After a decade in the wilderness thanks largely to the scandal over his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, Lewis roared back to stardom in country music in 1968. I am not wild about his version of “Chantilly Lace,” which sounds like it was knocked off in one relatively indifferent take, but it went to #1 on the Billboard country chart.

59. “Old Man”/Neil Young. The former #1 “Heart of Gold” was still up at #22 in this week. “Old Man” would make it only to #31. If I were forced to pick a favorite Neil Young song, “Old Man” would probably be it, although I bought the 45 of “Heart of Gold” in the spring of ’72.

67. “Song Sung Blue”/Neil Diamond
72. “Someday Never Comes”/Creedence Clearwater Revival
77. “Automatically Sunshine”/Supremes
80. “Rocket Man”/Elton John
These were the top four debut singles on the Hot 100 in that week; “Song Sung Blue” and “Someday Never Comes” were offered to affiliates as extras during the recent nationwide repeat of the 5/6/72 show. “Song Sung Blue” would go to #1 and “Rocket Man” would reach #6; “Someday Never Comes,” the last Creedence single to chart, hit #25; “Automatically Sunshine,” written by Smokey Robinson, made #37. The Diana Ross-less Supremes wouldn’t make the Top 40 again until 1976 (for a single week), and that would be the last time.

68. “Telegram Sam”/T. Rex
69. “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool”/Jimmy Osmond
70. “Changes”/David Bowie
Only one of these records is going to make the Top 40, and it is “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool” because there is no God and we can’t have nice things. Bowie would actually miss it twice, getting as close as #41 in 1975, when “Changes” was re-released.

95. “Questions”/Bang. This record appeared on our Down in the Bottom series back in 2010, thanks to its chart peak of #90. As I wrote, “[T]hen-unknown Bang crashed a show in Orlando on a dare, playing an audition for the promoter around noontime and finding themselves a the bill with Deep Purple and Faces the same night.” A radio station in Fort Lauderdale charted “Questions” as high as #3.

Be Good

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(Note to patrons: this week, there will be a new post at this site every day, as opposed to the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday routine. Don’t get used to it, though.)

The new thing around here is that whenever I write about an American Top 40 show—even the ones I had no intention of writing about when I started listening to them but ended up doing so anyway—I’ll also write about the bottom part of the same chart. So here’s the rest of May 1, 1976.

41. “When Love Has Gone Away”/Richard Cocciante. Several years ago, a kind reader sent me a couple of editions of The National Album Countdown, and I have yet to write about them specifically. We have mentioned the show itself, however, produced and hosted by Humble Harve Miller, which ran starting in 1976 and for several years thereafter. It was the only place on the radio where I ever heard the Italian crooner Richard Cocciante (pronounced ka-SHUN-tay), whose album managed to make the Record World chart Harve used. “When Love Has Gone Away” was at its Hot 100 peak on 5/1/76, and honesty compels me to report that I do not get the appeal.

50. “Falling Apart at the Seams”/Marmalade
81. “Arms of Mary”/Sutherland Brothers and Quiver
Other, lesser hits were far more appealing than “When Love Has Gone Away.” “Falling Apart at the Seams” is nothing but appealing, thanks to writer/producer/bubblegum genius Tony Macaulay, but somehow made it only to #49. “Arms of Mary” would get no higher than this position on the Hot 100; a couple of years later a cover by Chilliwack would get to #68.

55. “It’s Over”/Boz Scaggs. You could probably win money from people by asking them to name all of the A-side singles on Silk Degrees. Most people can get two. It’s a greater accomplishment to name the others. They are (in charting order) “It’s Over,” “Lowdown,” “What Can I Say,” and “Lido Shuffle.” And if someone does that, tell them that another Silk Degrees song, “Georgia,” was an A-side in the UK, Japan, and Brazil.

If you want trivia, my friend, you have come to the right place.

62. “Shop Around”/Captain and Tennille
67. “Rock and Roll Love Letter”/Bay City Rollers
75. “Still Crazy After All These Years”/Paul Simon
78. “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again”/Eric Carmen
85. “Could It Be Magic”/Donna Summer

88. “I’ll Be Good to You”/Brothers Johnson
89. “Better Days”/Melissa Manchester

90. “Dance Wit Me”/Rufus
97. “You Got the Magic”/John Fogerty
98. “Let Her In”/John Travolta
99. “Moonlight Serenade”/Bobby Vinton
Of the 11 new records on the Hot 100 this week, seven would make the Top 40, although “Dance Wit Me” and “Still Crazy” would peak at #39 and #40. The Captain and Tennille, Eric Carmen, the Brothers Johnson, and John Travolta would make the Top 10. “You Got the Magic,” in which John Fogerty takes a stab at dance music, would be his last chart single until his 1984 comeback.

77. “Kiss and Say Goodbye”/Manhattans. The 19-place move this song makes in its third week on the chart is equaled only by Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover,” which made a mighty leap from #29 to #10 in the same week.

79. “Forever Lovers”/Mac Davis. This would get only as high as #76 on the Hot 100, although it would get to #17 on Billboard‘s country chart. To save you three minutes, “Forever Lovers” starts as a couple is getting into bed on their wedding night. He suddenly says, “I forgot to get champagne,” climbs out of the sack to run down to the Kwik Trip, and gets killed by a bus or something. Flash forward many years. An elderly woman checks into the honeymoon suite, puts on the faded negligee she wore that fateful night, lies down on the bed, and dies. “A lifetime’s a short time / When love never ends.”

94. “The Fonz Song”/Heyettes. At various points over the years, I have contended at this website that each of the following people was the biggest star in American culture during 1976: Jimmy Carter, Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych, and the Fonz. Although Fidrych’s joyful demeanor, his eccentricities on the field, and his dominant performances would make him a superstar by July, he didn’t pitch regularly until mid-May. Carter wouldn’t sew up the Democratic presidential nomination until July. So in mid-May at least, the Fonz was The Man. “The Fonz Song,” however, is dreadful. It shows up on 19 surveys at ARSA, and in an affront to good taste even greater than “Forever Lovers,” WGNG in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, took it all the way to #3.

For more mid-May 1976 flavor, visit this post from 2016. For more about Mark Fidrych, click here.

Do That Again

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(Pictured: Bob Seger, 1980.)

I think I have stumbled into a new feature for this website of mine. American Top 40 represents only part of any given week’s record chart. Billboard ranked 60 other songs each week—more if you count Bubbling Under the Hot 100. Since I’ve written about a couple of those “bottom 60s” already, why not make it a thing?

So: beyond the Top 40 of May 3, 1980, there was this:

43. “It’s Hard to Be Humble”/Mac Davis. In the spring of 1980, I had been doing weekends at KDTH in Dubuque, Iowa, for about a year. “It’s Hard to Be Humble” was a big country hit (#10) and a popular request at KDTH. Radio jocks get sick of hearing most records long before listeners do, but novelties like this one burn out even faster.

53. “Coming Up (live)”/Paul McCartney
54. “Against the Wind”/Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
65. “Little Jeannie”/Elton John
76. “Theme From New York New York“/Frank Sinatra
These were the four optional extras provided to AT40 affiliates with the 5/3/80 show, and the latter three were the highest-debuting singles on the Hot 100 that week. Nobody remembers now (including me, who had to Google it) that New York, New York was a 1977 Martin Scorsese film starring Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro, and that Liza, not Frank, sings the song in the movie.

55. “Solitaire”/Peter McIan
61. “New Romance (It’s a Mystery)”/Spider
The FM side of KDTH, D93, was a Top-40 station programmed by a guy with adventuresome taste in music. He got some gold records for being on certain songs early, but played a lot of stiffs, too. “Solitaire” was in the hot rotation on D93 for many, many weeks in the spring and early summer of 1980. Although it never cracked the Billboard Top 40, it’s pretty good, and it got McIan a spot on American Bandstand. “New Romance” is heavy bordering on lumbering, and far less memorable. Spider lead singer Holly Knight would end up in the Songwriters Hall of Fame after writing hits for Tina Turner, Aerosmith, Pat Benatar and others. Drummer Anton Fig is best-known for being part of Paul Shaffer’s band on David Letterman’s late-night shows, and as a session musician with practically everybody.

68. “Rock Lobster”/B-52s. In the spring of 1980, I was wrapping up my sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and my first semester as program director of the campus radio station, WSUP. While I am sure a lot of college radio stations were on “Rock Lobster” that spring, I don’t recall that we were. We were far more interested in playing the superstars we heard on our favorite “real” radio stations, and not so much in music discovery.

73. “Let Me Be”/Korona. This band was led by Bruce Blackmon of Starbuck, and is sometimes referred to as “Starbuck under another name.” “Let Me Be” isn’t quite as slick as Starbuck’s stuff, and is not quite as good.

84. “Stay in Time”/Off Broadway
85. “It’s Not a Wonder”/Little River Band
87. “Midnight Rendezvous”/Babys
These were all favorites at WSUP as school got close to letting out, and all great records to crank while driving your car on a warm spring day. “Stay in Time” famously rose to #9 at WLS in Chicago during a 19-week run on the station’s chart, far outperforming its Hot 100 numbers, a peak of #51 and seven weeks on. “It’s Not a Wonder,” a live single from the album Backstage Pass, also peaked at #51. “Midnight Rendezvous” was the second smokin’-hot Babys single that spring, following the more successful “Back on My Feet Again,” which was also a college fave.

91. “Three Times in Love”/Tommy James. This was on its way out of the Hot 100 after topping out at #19, and is a record we have dug around here since always.

100. “Borrowed Time”/Styx. I have told this story before, but it’s worth repeating. When my pal Shark and I worked at WXXQ in Freeport, Illinois, in the summer of 1980, he sometimes hung out with me on the night shift, even though he’d have to be back for the morning show at 6AM. Shark adored “Borrowed Time,” and one night he did an acrobatic air-guitar routine while I was playing it. The station was located on a high floor of an office building, and one wall was all windows. When the song ended, the phone rang, and a guy who had been watching from a building across the street asked, “Hey man, when are you gonna do that again?”

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