And So It Goes

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(Pictured: Linda Ronstadt with Aaron Neville, 1990.)

I was a bit surprised by my visceral negative reaction to the hits from August 4, 1990, earlier this week, although it fits with a half-assed theory of mine. It has always seemed to me that by 1990, pop culture had grown more tolerant of vulgarity than ever before. The change wasn’t evolution as much as a distinct click of the ratchet. All of a sudden, 2 Live Crew is acceptable for radio play; “Tic Tac Toe” refers to girls with “their legs across my shoulders” and brags about “making the bed squeak”; “Poison” is about a girl the singers have gang-banged; “Hanky Panky” is explicitly about rough sex. And it’s not just on the radio: Andrew Dice Clay (see below) becomes a star, and Married With Children obsesses over bodily functions. It would take somebody smarter than me to elucidate precisely why it happened when it did and what it meant.

So here’s some of the Bottom 60, with an asterisk.

49. “Do You Remember”/Phil Collins
62. “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven”/Phil Collins

In the mid-80s, I was in Top 40 radio when the Phil Collins album No Jacket Required produced four giant singles and stayed on the air for a solid year. The album . . . But Seriously (sweet mama I hate that ellipsis) seemed just as big when I got into AC radio in 1990. There were five singles and we played ’em all. The only one I care to hear now, however, is “Do You Remember.”

53. “Oh Girl”/Paul Young. The summer of 1990 was a good one for whoever was collecting royalties on the Chi-Lites’ catalog, between MC Hammer’s “Have You Seen Her” and this faithful “Oh Girl.”

69. “Club at the End of the Street”/Elton John. Elton’s album Sleeping With the Past is a tribute to 60s soul. It produced three solid singles, “Healing Hands,” “Sacrifice,” and this, which, if it’s remembered at all, may be for its animated video.

Now, the asterisk: that’s all I could manage to care about from the Hot 100. So I went over to the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary chart for the same week, where I found more stuff I was actually playing on the radio in the summer of 1990. (Positions are from the AC chart.)

5. “Take It to Heart”/Michael McDonald
21. “Skies the Limit”/Fleetwood Mac

As I wrote earlier this year, the pop and adult-contemporary charts tracked each other pretty closely for the better part of 20 years, until they didn’t anymore. “Take It to Heart” had made #98 on the Hot 100 in June during a two-week run on the Hot 100. “Skies the Limit” never made it at all.

20. “And So It Goes”/Billy Joel.  According to Wikipedia (so who the hell knows), “And So It Goes” is written in iambic tetrameter, and it has only a couple of rhyming lines. It is also a momentum-killer on the radio. It did not make the Hot 100 until October and got to #37.

29. “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”/Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville
41. “Adios”/Linda Ronstadt
Although she didn’t do much big Top 40 business after 1982, Linda remained a major hitmaker throughout the 80s, thanks to her standards albums with Nelson Riddle and the Trio albums with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind contained her last two big singles, “Don’t Know Much” and “All My Life,” plus the two songs mentioned here. Her career was not over in 1990, however. She would make eight (!) more solo albums, her last one coming in 2004.

34. “Sea Cruise”/Dion. In the pop-culture swamp that was 1990, Andrew Dice Clay’s vile, unfunny stand-up act and repulsive Brooklyn dude-bro persona didn’t stop him from becoming a star. He played the title character in 1990’s Golden Raspberry Worst Picture winner The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, the soundtrack of which contained Dion’s version of “Sea Cruise.” It did not make the Hot 100.

(Digression: Dion, who turned 81 last month, released a new album earlier this summer called Blues With Friends. The friends include Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa, and Sonny Landreth. I haven’t heard all of it, but what I have heard is terrific.)

I had started working for an AC station in little Clinton, Iowa, in early 1990, because they had a job open and I needed one. I don’t regret taking the job, or the nearly four years I spent there. What I do regret is the tendency I had back then to let things happen to me instead of making them happen. But I’m not getting into that any further today.

Hot Stuff and Good Vibrations

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(Pictured: Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin on stage in 1976.)

Having spent two posts on the American Top 40 show from July 17, 1976, it’s time to look at the Bottom 60 songs on the Hot 100 for that date. But here’s a spoiler alert before we begin. I mentioned last week that there were two summer-of-76 shows missing from my collection that I have now acquired. One was the July 17 show; the other is the show dated August 7, only three weeks later. I’ll be writing about that show during the first part of August. To keep from repeating myself any more than I already do, I’ve chosen to write about Bottom 60 songs from the July 17 chart that won’t be on the August 7 show.

41. “Framed”/Cheech and Chong. These gentlemen made the Billboard Top 40 three times with “Basketball Jones,” “Sister Mary Elephant,” and “Earache My Eye,” and they just missed at #41 two other times. “Framed” is technically a cover of the Leiber and Stoller song of the same name, but with some new lyrics. As Kurt Blumenau discovered, “Framed” was #1 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, for the week of July 17. (Their other single to peak at #41 was “Bloat On,” their parody of the Floaters’ “Float On,” early in 1978.)

49. “Hot Stuff”-“Fool to Cry”/Rolling Stones. During the week of June 19, this record, then listed as “Fool to Cry”-“Hot Stuff” sat at #21 on the Hot 100. The next week, listed as “Hot Stuff”-“Fool to Cry,” it fell to #63. From there, it began climbing again, going to #59 and #53 before hitting #49 in this week. Next week, it will fall to #96, then bounce to #89, and be gone entirely from the chart dated August 7, 1976.

51. “Roots, Rock, Reggae”/Bob Marley and the Wailers. Marley’s album Rastaman Vibration was an enormous hit in 1976, going to #8 on the Billboard album chart. “Roots, Rock, Reggae” would spend three of its six weeks on the Hot 100 at #51.

58. “Good Vibrations”/Todd Rundgren.  As remarkable as it was to have the Beach Boys (“Rock and Roll Music”) and Beatles (“Got to Get You Into My Life”) back in the Top 40 during the summer of 1976,  “Good Vibrations” was there too, for three weeks. Rundgren’s album Faithful was intended as a tribute to 60s rock, but the covers on the first side are not covers as much as they are note-for-note recreations of songs by the Beach Boys, Beatles, Yardbirds, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.

74. “Hell Cat”/Bellamy Brothers
78. “Gotta Be the One”/Maxine Nightingale
These two artists had ridden the Top 40 together to #1 and #2 back in the spring with “Let Your Love Flow” and “Right Back Where We Started From,” but neither’s followup had the power to do it again. It would be 1979 before either act got back into the pop Top 40.

88. “Ode to Billie Joe”/Bobbie Gentry. The 1967 hit was in its first week back on the charts on July 17, 1976, thanks to the success of a theatrical movie based on it. A new recording of the old song, also by Gentry, would chart in two weeks.

91. “Hey Shirley (This Is Squirrely)”/Shirley and Squirrely. Over the years, I have written about several records inspired by the CB craze. I have always forgotten to mention “Hey Shirley,” but that’s OK because it’s awful. (America’s thirst for speeded-up rodent voices once seemed inexhaustible.) “Hey Shirley” made #28 on the country chart in a five-week run and #48 on the Hot 100.

93. “You to Me Are Everything”/The Real Thing
94. “You to Me Are Everything”/Broadway
The Real Thing version of “You to Me Are Everything” was a #1 hit in the UK in June 1976 and it’s fantastic, but its impact in the States was blunted by competing versions. And it wasn’t just the group Broadway to do it. On July 31, 1976, a third version of “You to Me Are Everything” would chart, by a group called Revelation, produced by Freddie Perrin and sounding almost exactly like the Real Thing’s recording. The Real Thing would get to #64; Broadway would peak at #86 and Revelation at #98.

Programming Note: This would, in a normal year, be opening day of the Green County Fair in my hometown of Monroe, Wisconsin. I did a podcast episode earlier this year about the fair and the farm I grew up on. It was accidentally yanked from Soundcloud a while back, but I’ve reposted it today. If you didn’t hear it then, you can listen now, at that link or at the usual spots. 

End of the Line

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(Pictured: Charlie T. and Lucky Wilbury.)

After listening to the Shadoe Stevens-hosted American Top 40 show from April 8, 1989, it’s now time to see what was outside the Top 40 in that same week.

42. “Soldier of Love”/Donny Osmond. I am not sure anybody foresaw the 1989 Donny Osmond comeback; he hadn’t charted since 1977, and he hadn’t made the Top 10 since “The Twelfth of Never” in 1973. But “Soldier of Love” would go all the way to #2 on the Hot 100. The video, featuring leather-clad, lip-curling Donny intercut with hot babes dancing, is most of the 80s in four minutes.

47. “Wind Beneath My Wings”/Bette Midler. This song was hugely popular for several years after its 1989 run to #1, a period during which The Mrs. and I were wedding-reception DJs. We enjoyed it a lot; the guy who owned the equipment did the setting-up and the tearing-down, so all we had to do was show up and run the party. I felt like we were pretty good at it; my radio background made me conscious of the need to actually put on a show, instead of just segueing songs one after the other, which is what I often hear when I’m attending a DJ’d party today. But back in that day, “Wind Beneath My Wings” was a popular choice for father/daughter dances, during which Dad, reared on sock-hop music from the 60s and 70s, tried to sway along with his girl at a tempo too lugubrious for dancing. Bette’s version is the most famous, but neither the first nor the best; it should not surprise you that Lou Rawls did it very well.

54. “Let the River Run”/Carly Simon. In the early 00s, the software company I worked for adopted “Let the River Run” as some kind of anthem, and I believe they even paid Carly Simon to appear at a corporate event, or in videos, or something. I don’t remember the details. By the time that happened, I had ceased to care about anything that wasn’t my immediate responsibility, and very little about much of that.

58. “Hearts on Fire”/Steve Winwood. The Roll With It album hit #1 in the States, and the title song was a #1 single. But apart from “Roll With It” and “Don’t You Know What the Night Can Do,” the rest of the album is a blur. The songs all sound pretty much the same to me, and whenever it pops up on shuffle, I’m usually ready for it to be over long before it’s over.

62. “It’s Only Love”/Simply Red. This band’s American singles discography is feast-or-famine. They hit the Hot 100 seven times betwen 1986 and 1992. Two of those went to #1: “Holding Back the Years” in 1986 and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” in 1989. Three other singles stalled in the 20s, and two, including “It’s Only Love,” missed the Top 40 altogether.

87. “Come Out Fighting”/Easterhouse. This band had some success in England, but by the time “Come Out Fighting” was released in the States, its original lineup was down to the lead singer alone. The song would spend four weeks on the chart, peaking at #84 despite being pretty good.

88. “Baby Baby”/Eighth Wonder. This British group was more successful in continental Europe and Japan than in either their homeland or the United States. “Cross My Heart” had run to #56 in 16 weeks on the Hot 100 earlier in 1989; “Baby Baby” would peak at #84. Both of them sound more like Madonna than Madonna.

91. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”/Figures on a Beach. I was today years old when I learned about the existence of this cover of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive original. I think I was a marginally happier person when I didn’t know about it.

95. “End of the Line”/Traveling Wilburys. This and Roy Orbison’s “You Got It” up at #12 are outliers on this chart, throwing back to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and the stars who built it. The balance of the hits of April 8, 1989, put a listener in 2020 much more in mind of pop music’s future than its past. I didn’t hear most of it at the time it was popular. I would learn about it in retrospect when I got out of elevator music and back into mainstream adult contemporary in 1990, but I didn’t love much of it.

The Way Up

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(Pictured: Stevie Nicks in ’86.)

During the week of February 22, 1986, the Philippines’ People Power Revolution forced President Ferdinand Marcos from office in favor of Corazon Aquino. Also that week, future professional basketball player Rajan Rondo was born and hockey star Jacques Plante died. At the end of the week, Swedish prime minister Olof Palme was assassinated, a murder that remains unsolved today. Return with us now to that week to see what was happening below the Top 40 featured in a recent American Top 40 post.

43. “Goodbye Is Forever”/Arcadia. How many different Duran Duran spinoffs were there, anyway? And does anybody remember any of them now?

44. “No Easy Way Out”/Robert Tepper. The original cue sheet for the 2/22/86 AT40 show includes the text of promos Casey voiced to run the week before it aired. Two of the four promos mention potential new songs on the chart, name-checking Tepper and “No Easy Way Out,” a weird choice given that nobody outside of his family would have had the slightest idea who Robert Tepper was at that moment. “No Easy Way Out” was from the Rocky IV soundtrack, which had two singles on the chart already, “Burning Heart” by Survivor (at #9 in this week) and “Living in America” by James Brown (at #5). (The “No Easy Way Out” video wasn’t intended to be funny in 1986, but it’s hilarious now.)

51. “The Super Bowl Shuffle”/Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew. This is down from its chart peak of #41 the week before. There are only 11 listings for the song at ARSA, all but one from Chicago. WLS had the song at #1 for the week before the Super Bowl in January; their FM sister, Z95, listed it at #1 for four weeks in January and February and two more weeks in the Top 10 after that. My station’s programming syndicator never added it, but I seem to recall that we got a promo copy somehow—or maybe I went to the record store and bought it. We were in Illinois and a plurality of the students at the local state university were from the Chicago area, so we had to play it.

52. “Kiss”/Prince and the Revolution
60. “I Can’t Wait”/Stevie Nicks
These are the two highest debuts of the week. “Kiss” would hit #1. “I Can’t Wait” would eventually top out at #16, and its shiny 80s production makes it sound as dated as ragtime.

56. “Live Is Life”/Opus. “Live Is Life” is a triumph for catchy-but-brain-dead simplicity.

57. “Addicted to Love”/Robert Palmer
79. “Your Love”/The Outfield
80. “Something About You”/Level 42
95. “What Have You Done for Me Lately”/Janet Jackson
Some big, iconic hits, on the way up.

61. “Somewhere”/Barbra Streisand. On the 2/22/86 AT40, Casey took note of a new entry in the Book of Records. With The Broadway Album, Barbra had set a new record for longest time between #1 albums—22 years—breaking a mark Frank Sinatra had held since 1966.

67. “Caravan of Love”/Isley Jasper Isley
71. “Secret”/OMD
There’s a whole list of records that got on my station for only a few weeks but never entirely left my head. OMD released two of them in 1986: “Secret” and “Forever (Live and Die).” “Caravan of Love,” meanwhile, is completely in the pocket for 1986 but a nice throwback to the glory days of soul music at the same time.

75. “The Power of Love”/Jennifer Rush. A number of people have opened up the firehose on this song, including Celine Dion (who took it to #1 in 1994), Air Supply, and Laura Branigan. But this is the original, which was #1 in the UK and many other countries around the world in 1985. It would get to #57 on the Hot 100.

77. “Lying”/Peter Frampton. “Lying” was Frampton’s first Hot 100 hit since “I Can’t Stand It No More” in 1979, and would be his last one to date, although he would make what Billboard now calls its Mainstream Rock chart as late as 1994.

Thanks to social media, I have recently reconnected with my partner on the morning radio show I was doing in 1986. After I left the station at the end of the year, Mitch continued his career as a news reporter for a few years, but he eventually got out of radio and is now a teacher, author, and coach in his home state of Michigan. We were thrown into a partnership by circumstance, but we were both willing to make it work, and by the summer of 1986, we would develop some chemistry, which we did on our own, because we got no coaching or critique from anybody.

I don’t have any tapes of our show, which is almost certainly a good thing.

The Fun

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(Pictured: Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.)

After looking at the American Top 40 show from the week of February 21, 1976, here’s our usual dive into what was below the Top 40 in that same week.

42. “Paloma Blanca”/George Baker Selection
58. “Let Your Love Flow”/Bellamy Brothers
59. “Fly Away”/John Denver and Olivia Newton-John
73. “Since I Fell for You”/Charlie Rich
75. “You’ll Lose a Good Thing”/Freddy Fender
94. “Texas”/Charlie Daniels Band
100. “The Call”/Anne Murray
109. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”/Terry Bradshaw
There’s quite the country smorgasbord here. “Paloma Blanca” would peak at #33 on the Billboard country chart during the week of February 28, and its country chart performance kept it bubbling just outside the Top 40 of the Hot 100 for several weeks after it had run to #26 earlier in the winter. Terry Bradshaw, whose day job was quarterbacking the Pittsburgh Steelers, made three albums between 1976 and 1981. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which you could easily mistake for Glen Campbell, is better than it ought to be. It went to #17 on the Billboard country chart and #91 on the Hot 100. And although Denver, ONJ, Rich, and Fender were important country crossover brand names of the moment and “Let Your Love Flow” would get to #1, their popularity and influence paled in comparison to another group of stars.

47. “Good Hearted Woman”/Waylon and Willie
69. “Remember Me”/Willie Nelson
Willie’s 1975 album Red Headed Stranger and its single “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” (which was originally backed with “Remember Me”) made a superstar of him after more than a decade as a well-kept secret. It also made the Nashville machine realize, after several years of looking the other way, that some of the industry’s more independent-minded artists were bankable after all. There followed the compilation album Wanted! The Outlaws, which featured Jessi Colter (who was Mrs. Waylon Jennings at the time) and Tompall Glaser in addition to Waylon and Willie, and it became a genre-defying smash. Wanted! The Outlaws went to #10 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and was the first country album to be certified platinum after the RIAA created that certification. (It was also one of the first albums of any sort to be issued on CD, according to Wikipedia, so who the hell knows.) “Good Hearted Woman,” which is stomp and yee-haw in the best possible way, did three weeks at #1 on the Billboard country chart and rose to #25 on the Hot 100.

(The 2013 book Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville by Michael Streissguth is strongly recommended if you’re interested in those people or this era.)

64. “Love Me Tonight”/Head East. Former Head East guitarist Mike Somerville, who wrote “Love Me Tonight” and “Never Been Any Reason,” died last week after a long illness. The callous sexism of “Love Me Tonight” is hard to get past—“It really don’t matter what your name is,” the singer says to the groupie he’s about to bed—but its easy-rockin’ vibe is hard to resist.

72. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”/Creedence Clearwater Revival. This is four minutes of the 11-minute original found on Cosmo’s Factory, released as a single to help promote the CCR compilation Chronicle Volume 1. It would peak at #43.

78. “Locomotive Breath”/Jethro Tull. Here’s another reissue of an old song, which contains the line “the all-time winner has got him by the balls.” This wouldn’t fly on some radio stations. I have heard a version that turns it into “got him by the fun,” with a substitution of “fun” from the earlier line, “his woman and his best friend, in bed and having fun.” Points for ingenuity at least.

87. “Scotch on the Rocks”/Band of the Black Watch. In my earlier post about the hits of this week, I mentioned the large amount of novelty cheese in that season, and here’s more of it. We know little about the Band of the Black Watch, except that they were allegedly members of a Scottish military unit. I suspect that what is supposed to sound like bagpipes on “Scotch on the Rocks” isn’t really bagpipes at all, but after all this time I doubt it matters.

Further Recommended Reading: Time Is Tight: My Life, Note by Note by Booker T. Jones. Jones’ memoir jumps from year to year and incident to incident in a way that’s a little off-putting at first, but once you get used to it, the life that emerges is more impressive than the one that is described in the standard histories of Stax and Memphis. It made me feel even more fortunate to have seen Jones play live last summer.

Through a Frosted Window

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(Pictured: Elton John, dressed conservatively by his standards, on Top of the Pops in 1972.)

Last week’s post about the American Top 40 show from December 16, 1972, is followed, as night follows the day, by a post about some of the bottom 60 songs on the chart in that same week.

42. “And You and I (Part 2)”/Yes
58. “Let It Rain”/Eric Clapton
71. “Woman to Woman”-“Midnight Rider”/Joe Cocker
74. “The Jean Genie”/David Bowie
75. “The Relay”/The Who
Just as the top of this week’s chart was full of great soul music, there’s lots of respectable English rock down below (and up at #20 with Jethro Tull and “Living in the Past” as well).

43. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul”/Grand Funk Railroad
67. “Good Time Sally”/Rare Earth
88. “One Way Out”/Allman Brothers Band
Respectable American rock, too.

45. “Why Can’t We Live Together”/Timmy Thomas
48. “Oh Babe What Would You Say”/Hurricane Smith
54. “Dancing in the Moonlight”/King Harvest
62. “The World Is a Ghetto”/War

85. “Cover of the Rolling Stone”/Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
98. “Last Song”/Edward Bear
These songs are strongly associated in my head with the winter of 1973 and one particular image: looking out at the world through a frosted window. It’s not necessarily a school-bus window, although it could be. I heard these songs and other memorable ones every morning as the bus wound its way through the back roads of Clarno and Cadiz townships, WLS playing on the radio.

46. “Crocodile Rock”/Elton John
53. “Rocky Mountain High”/John Denver
A pair of future iconic hits on the way up. Elton was in his second week on the chart on his way to #1, Denver in his fourth on his way to #9.

52. “In Heaven There Is No Beer”/Clean Living. “In Heaven There Is No Beer” is a rock version of a song familiar to those of us who grew up in polka-band country. Back when I was doing a Top 40 morning show, I used to close my Friday shows with it.

63. “You’re a Lady”/Peter Skellern
79. “You’re a Lady”/Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando
Peter Skellern was a British singer and pianist whose success with “You’re a Lady” led to a long career in which he scored TV and radio programs, wrote for the stage, and even created some sacred choral pieces toward the end of his life. “You’re a Lady” was a #3 hit in the UK and reached #50 in the States. The Dawn cover got to #70 on the Hot 100; it was the first single from the Tie a Yellow Ribbon album, the title song of which would create an earthquake in the spring of 1973.

65. “Day and Night”/The Wackers. The liner notes to the Wackers’ album Shredder claim that members of Monty Python were on a Canadian tour and visited the studio while the album (which contains “Day and Night”) was being recorded in Montreal, but the Pythons didn’t tour Canada until 1973, so I dunno. “Day and Night” was a big hit in Canada but this was its Hot 100 peak.

68. “We Need Order”/Chi-Lites. “We Need Order” has the most confusing lyrics you’ll ever come across. I can’t figure out what the point is supposed to be, but it’s the Chi-Lites, so it sounds pretty good.

69. “Special Someone”/Heywoods. The Heywoods were from Cincinnati. They got their big break thanks to the Osmonds, who put them on as an opening act, which led to a record deal. As Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, they would hit #1 with “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” in a couple of years. “Special Someone” had peaked at #64 during the week of December 9, 1972.

72. “Reelin’ and Rockin'”/Chuck Berry. This live version of a song Berry first recorded in 1957 was on The London Chuck Berry Sessions, and was released as the followup to “My Ding-a-Ling.” It’s immeasurably better, but it would have to be.

83. “I Just Want to Make Love to You”/Foghat
87. “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”/Slade
This chart also contains some English rockers not from the A list.

91. “You Can Do Magic”/Limmie and Family Cookin’. A group formed in Canton, Ohio, that was co-produced by Sandy Linzer, best known for a number of co-writing some Four Seasons hits, most famously “Working My Way Back to You.” Lead singer Limmie B. Good was still an adolescent when the group made its lone album, and in an era when pre-pubescent Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson became huge stars, you can’t blame a kid for trying. “You Can Do Magic” was a sizable hit in the UK but got only to #84 on the Hot 100, despite going to #1 at WKWK in Wheeling, West Virginia during Christmas week in 1972.