(Pictured: Black Sabbath. Not your standard AM radio fare.)
I recently wrote about the AT40 show for the week of December 5, 1970. Here’s some stuff from the rest of the Billboard chart that week, not just the Bottom 60 but a 20-position Bubbling Under chart too.
41. “Pay to the Piper”/Chairmen of the Board
45. “River Deep Mountain High”/Supremes and Four Tops
46. “Groove Me”/King Floyd
48. “Border Song”/Aretha Franklin
59. “If I Were Your Woman”/Gladys Knight and the Pips
63. “If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going to Go”/Curtis Mayfield
This is but a fraction of the soul superstars and notable songs on this chart. Also appearing: B. B. King, Ray Charles, Clarence Carter, Johnnie Taylor, Bobby “Blue” Bland, David and Jimmy Ruffin, O. V. Wright, the Moments, the Intruders, and Al Green.
44. “Immigrant Song”/Led Zeppelin
69. “Mr. Bojangles”/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
70. “Amos Moses”/Jerry Reed
71. “Your Song'”/Elton John
81. “Lonely Days”/Bee Gees
In my earlier post about the 12/5/70 AT40 show, I wrote that I loved the way the music sounded on WLS. These songs sounded great in that environment, too. “Immigrant Song” was amazing in that environment.
67. “Rose Garden”/Lynn Anderson. “Rose Garden” was a modern-day extra provided to AT40 affiliates with the 12/5/70 show. The extras are often songs that the oldies, classic hits, and AC stations that typically carry AT40 repeats might otherwise be playing, but “Rose Garden,” despite eventually making #3, seems like an exception.
76. “Paranoid”/Black Sabbath. I love that this was a hit in the same week as “I Think I Love You” and “Knock Three Times” by Dawn. It was actually #1 at WCOL in Columbus, Ohio, at the end of November, sharing the Top 10 with the Partridge Family, Smokey Robinson, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Elvis—and also “Fresh Air” by Quicksilver Messenger Service. “Paranoid” made the Top 10 in Denver, Winnipeg, and Norfolk, Virginia. And in Erie, Pennsylvania, too, but not until March 1971.
68. “Morning”/Jim Ed Brown
91. “Coal Miner’s Daughter”/Loretta Lynn
93. “Where Have All the Heroes Gone”/Bill Anderson
101. “Fifteen Years Ago”/Conway Twitty
102. “I Can’t Believe That You’ve Stopped Loving Me”/Charley Pride
111. “I Wouldn’t Live in New York City (If They Gave Me the Whole Dang Town)”/Buck Owens
112. “I’m Alright”/Lynn Anderson
115. “Flesh and Blood”/Johnny Cash
116. “The Wonders You Perform”/Tammy Wynette
Country crossovers to the Hot 100 were a thing in 1970 just as they are now. (Fun fact: “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which would hit #1 on the Billboard country chart on December 19, peaked at #83 a week later.) “I Wouldn’t Live in New York City” is a 1970 version of the 2022 conservative trope about cities being dangerous hellholes no decent person would live in or visit. It likely didn’t offend anybody who actually lived in NYC, however, because the only country radio stations in the metro area in 1970 were in Hackensack, New Jersey, and Mineola, New York. The city didn’t get one of its own until WHN started playing country in 1973.
95. “Lady Love”/The Klowns. After the success of made-for-TV acts like the Monkees and the Archies, Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus tried to manufacture a similar act. They called upon bubblegum god Jeff Barry, who dug a few songs out of his closet, hired some studio musicians, and birthed the Klowns. The Klowns who appeared on the album cover were not the people who performed on the album; they were actors, among them Barry Bostwick, later of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame. Those actors appeared in a Klowns TV special in November 1970, which guest-starred Sammy Davis Jr. and Jerry Lewis. Nothing came of either the TV show or the album, although “Lady Love” lasted two weeks at #95.
120. “Down to the Wire”/Yellow Hand. This band, whoever they were, had friends in high places. Six of the 10 songs on their lone album were by Stephen Stills and/or Neil Young, apparently written for the Buffalo Springfield but never officially released by them. This is the only week on the Bubbling Under chart for “Down to the Wire.” It has 12 listings at ARSA, ten from KIMN in Denver.
The same Norfolk station that charted “Paranoid” in the Top 10, WNOR, had also charted Yellow Hand, on a list that included other oddball singles such as Procol Harum’s “Whiskey Train,” “What Now America” by Lee Michaels, and “Catch the Man on the Rise” by the Sir Douglas Quintet, as well as “Up and Down” by Two Monsters, which is from The Sesame Street Book and Record, the 1970 original cast album that also inflicted “Rubber Duckie” on the world.
I don’t know if WNOR was a good radio station in 1970, but it had to be an interesting one.