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(Pictured: Magic Dick of the J. Geils Band, on stage in 1977.)
My summer of 1977 was defined by two big things: I had two jobs and eventually lost them both (one I quit, one just sort of fizzled out), and my girlfriend spent a month in Europe while I pined for her at home (a trip I should have been on, and one I passed up for reasons that seem stupid to me now). There were other things, like softball and a family vacation and hanging out with the guys, but the details are all gone in the haze.
I had intended to use what I can still recall to write one of those wistfully philosophical essays of mine, looking back through the lens of Top 40 music to say Something Important about the summer of 1977, or the summer of 2021, or something. But when I tried to write it, there was nothing there. So you get this rundown of what else was on the Hot 100 below the Top 40 during the week of August 20, 1977, instead.
41. “It Was Almost Like a Song”/Ronnie Milsap
57. “Knowing Me, Knowing You”/ABBA
While she and I were very happy in August 1977, it wasn’t long before metaphors started ganging up on us.
42. “A Real Mother for Ya”/Johnny Guitar Watson. Most of the local chart action on “A Real Mother for Ya” came from R&B stations, but Top 40 station WKTQ in Pittsburgh charted it in the same Top 10 with James Taylor and Andy Gibb. Watson, a long-established blues star and the original Gangster of Love, performed quite literally up until his death in 1996, suffering a fatal heart attack on stage in Japan.
43. “Star Wars Theme- Cantina Band”/Meco
110. “Star Wars Theme”/Dave Matthews
Choose your flavor to enjoy alongside the London Symphony Orchestra version at #21 in this week: disco thump or brassy beat with a guitar solo out of nowhere. (Do I really have to say it’s not that Dave Matthews? Work with me, people.)
44. “Nobody Does It Better”/Carly Simon
49. “Jungle Love”/Steve Miller Band
51. “Boogie Nights”/Heatwave
52. “I Feel Love”/Donna Summer
59. “Cat Scratch Fever”/Ted Nugent
68. “Help Is on Its Way”/Little River Band
73. “Just Remember I Love You”/Firefall
80. “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”/Crystal Gayle
Several songs that would dominate the radio until Christmas were lining up outside in the August heat.
46. “The Greatest Love of All”/George Benson. “The Greatest Love of All” was originally heard in the 1977 movie biography of Muhammad Ali, The Greatest. In 1986, Whitney Houston would blow America’s doors off with it; bombastic as it is, her version is better.
47. “Way Down”-“Pledging My Love”/Elvis Presley. Elvis died on Tuesday, August 16, and the 8/20/77 American Top 40 show aired with only the briefest mention of him (“Way Down” was the current #1 country hit). The timing of his death didn’t allow enough time for AT40 to send a special segment to affiliates, like the one sent after John Lennon’s Monday night murder in 1980.
48. “Rock and Roll Never Forgets”/Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Failing to make the Top 40 (it peaked at #41 the week before) didn’t keep “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” from becoming one of Seger’s most-frequently-played radio songs over the next couple of decades.
75. “Down the Hall”/Four Seasons. After their successful run of hits in late 1975 and 1976, the Seasons tried to keep their disco/nostalgia hybrid roll going with the album Helicon. If you can find any obvious radio hook in “Down the Hall,” you’re ahead of me.
83. “You’re the Only One”/Geils. From the album Monkey Island, which was credited simply to Geils, and the last J. Geils Band album for Atlantic Records. “You’re the Only One” is an uncharacteristic soft rocker featuring Magic Dick getting his Stevie Wonder on and Seth Justman playing lovely keyboards.
87. “Can’t You See”/Marshall Tucker Band. “Heard It in a Love Song” had been a big hit earlier in 1977, but as time went on, “Can’t You See” became much more famous. When Sirius/XM counted down the top 100 songs of the classic-rock era a few years ago, it was something like #5.
92. “My Cherie Amour”/Soul Train Gang. This was a studio group put together by Soul Train impresario Don Cornelius and partner Dick Griffey. Their album was produced by Simon Soussan, once credited by none other than Casey Kasem as the world’s foremost authority on disco. One member of the Gang, Gerald Brown, would join Shalamar, but leave before their mainstream success around the turn of the 80s. Their version of “My Cherie Amour” is inoffensive, but ultimately unnecessary.
“Inoffensive, but ultimately unnecessary.” That’s not a bad slogan for this website, actually.