Tale of the Tape

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(Pictured: record producer Mickie Most in 1975 with a Teac A-3300 tape machine, once a fixture in radio stations and recording studios.)

If you visit the American Top 40 archive at Charis Music Group, you can see the original cue sheets for the shows from the very first one in 1970 to the end of Casey’s run and beyond. For the earliest shows, you see something even more interesting—the rundown sheets used to plan and execute the show. The one for the show dated October 30, 1971, has handwritten calculations of the show’s running time. It also includes master log sheets, which indicate that each hour of the program was delivered on two reels of tape, with the audio on each tape preceded by a series of tones to help radio stations calibrate the output of the tape machines on which the show would play.

Syndicated shows that were delivered on tape often had to be returned to the syndicator so that the tapes could be reused. If that seems a little bit crazy, it probably was, although we didn’t think much about it back then. In an analog world, sound quality was as good as we could make it, and that didn’t necessarily mean it was pristine. Shows like American Top 40 were high-speed duplicates—they were not mastered in real time—and that meant a certain loss of audio quality. And while there were certainly methods of quality control to make sure damaged tapes weren’t reused, it was not unheard-of for a station to receive a copy of a syndicated show that had a splice in the tape, or a distortion from a slightly stretched tape.

At some point in the 70s, it became feasible for shows such as AT40 to be pressed on to vinyl discs. These often had calibration tones, and some shows were lock-banded, meaning that at the end of each segment, the needle would not advance to the next segment without being manually moved.

(In my personal library, I had a vinyl copy of some old show with calibration tones, and I used it to set levels on my cassette deck before making mix tapes. There are people reading this post right now who are nodding and thinking, “Yup, I did that.”)

It was not until the turn of the 90s that it became common for shows to be delivered on CD, although vinyl and even tape delivery continued, depending on what the syndicator chose to do. Today, shows are delivered via an audio server; for American Top 40, you log onto a password-protected website and download it. Some shows are even delivered automatically, directly to whatever automation system a station is using, at a predetermined time.

But back to the handwritten rundown sheets: one of the endearing things about the early days of AT40 was that it was basically a live radio show captured on tape. If Casey flubbed his last line of a segment, they’d go back and record the entire segment, which meant sitting through the records and revoicing the other lines too. (This maybe explains some of the oddball errors and near-mistakes that slip through: “aw hell, it ain’t that bad, leave it in.”) The on-the-fly nature of the early shows is also seen in the handwritten notes on the rundown sheets. They were up against the clock every hour. On 10/30/71 and other shows, rundown sheets have one title scratched out and replaced with another, either for purposes of time or for some other spur-of-the-moment reason.

And there’s also this: during the first year or two of AT40, Casey would sometimes play a track from the #1 album of the week. During the week of October 30, 1971, it was John Lennon’s Imagine. Based on the rundown sheet, it looks like the AT40 staff didn’t decide what cut to play from Imagine until they’d started taping the show. They may have picked “Oh My Love” because it was the right length to help fill out the first hour.

(However they chose it, “Oh My Love,” which credits George Harrison on guitar, is the deepest cut I’ve ever heard on AT40.)

We’ve heard from AT40 staffers who say that at the time, they weren’t thinking about any of the minuscule stuff we notice here—they were just making a radio show. I’ve said myself that the shows were never intended to be examined on a molecular level. But, as you know from your own obsessions, nuts and bolts can take on an incredible fascination. So it is with the most popular syndicated radio music show of all time, and nerds such as we.

Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

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There’s nothing intrinsically special about round numbers. We are the ones who assign significance to 10, 20, 50, or 100 that we don’t give to 9, 22, 49, or 101. We find round numbers aesthetically pleasing, and so they make attractive denominations for the days of our lives. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I enjoyed listening to the American Top 40 show from September 4, 1971, more this past week than I might have a year ago, or a year from now.

Casey notes that there are eight new songs on the show, but his audience doesn’t get to hear all of them. What I mean is that nearly every song in the first hour is either edited or faded early. I suspect this was done in 1971 and not by his modern-day producers because he needs to get 13 songs in, and one of them is the full 6:10 of Tom Clay’s “What the World Needs Now/Abraham Martin and John,” the novelty rage of the summer. I’ve mentioned it before; it’s made up of news clips from the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK, backed with music and including the voice of a little girl who is unable to define terms like segregation, bigotry, and prejudice. Clay was a Los Angeles DJ who produced “What the World Needs Now” for his local show on KGBS, but after Motown made it the first 45 release on its new West Coast imprint Mowest, it blasted into the national Top 10. It scratched some national itch in the summer of 1971 and then disappeared from the radio as fast as it had come. And it’s a long, tedious listen today.

The first hour has some spectacular 1971 flavor: well-remembered hits like Carole King’s “So Far Away” and Tommy James’ “Draggin’ the Line”; oddballs like the Guess Who’s “Rain Dance” (which features the enigmatic line, “I’m still sittin’ with my next-door neighbor sayin’, ‘Where’d you get the gun, John?'”), Bobby Russell’s domestic novelty “Saturday Morning Confusion,” and “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep”; plus a couple of records that should be better-remembered than they are: the Jackson Five’s “Maybe Tomorrow” and the Moody Blues’ “The Story in Your Eyes.”

The second hour has another long song to fit in, Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May,” with a label time of 5:15. Casey gets the whole thing on, likely because it’s the hottest record of the week, up to #19 from #36 the week before. Also in the second hour: former #1 hits “Indian Reservation” and “You’ve Got a Friend,” George Harrison’s highly topical “Bangla Desh,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

There are some weird little oddments in this show. There’s a 1971 network commercial for American Top 40’s Double Dozen, a compilation of 50s and 60s hits with liner notes by Casey, sold by mail order. It was heavily promoted on the show during the summer of 1971, although the spots, which sometimes appeared outside of the normal break structure, are usually cut from the modern-day repeats. Also, coming up short at the end of the second hour, Casey chooses to repeat the titles of the eight new songs from the first hour, which he’s already recapped once before.

There’s another one of those incredible AM radio streaks at the end of the second hour and into the third, starting with “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Maggie May” back to back, and then:

18. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”/Joan Baez
17. “Stick-Up”/Honey Cone
16. “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”/CCR
15. “Beginnings”/Chicago
14. “Riders on the Storm”/Doors
13. “Mercy Mercy Me”/Marvin Gaye
12. “Mr. Big Stuff”/Jean Knight
11. “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”/Dramatics
10. “I Just Want to Celebrate”/Rare Earth
9. “Liar”/Three Dog Night
8. “Signs”/Five Man Electrical Band
7. “Take Me Home Country Roads”/John Denver

6. “Ain’t No Sunshine”/Bill Withers
Either “Mercy Mercy Me” or the astounding “Stick-Up” is the best thing here, but taken altogether, this is why you turned the radio on in the summer of 1971, and a good reason to do it today. Donny Osmond’s future #1 “Go Away Little Girl” is at #5; it’s awful, but all things considered that summer, it was never not going to end up a smash. Without it, the streak goes all the way:

4. “Spanish Harlem”/Aretha Franklin
3. “Smiling Faces Sometimes”/Undisputed Truth
2. “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”/Bee Gees
1. “Uncle Albert-Admiral Halsey”/Paul and Linda McCartney
“Go Away Little Girl” will commit the grave injustice of keeping “Spanish Harlem” at #2, although Aretha will make #1 in many cities. Meanwhile, “Uncle Albert” jumps to #1 from #12 the previous week in only its third week on the chart, taking out the Bee Gees after four weeks at the top.

Your mileage may vary, but it occurs to me that a Top 20 with only one certified clunker puts the week of September 4, 1971, into the discussion of best weeks ever.

There Goes My Baby

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(Pictured: Tina Turner in 1984.)

The mid-80s are Casey Kasem’s Imperial Period. American Top 40 is on hundreds of radio stations coast to coast and around the world, and Casey possesses The Most Famous Voice in America, even if, in his early 50s, he sometimes sounds like a friendly but out-of-touch dad trying to relate to his teenage daughter by telling her something he read in a magazine. Here’s some of what he was telling about on the show from September 1, 1984.

37. “There Goes My Baby”/Donna Summer
33. “I Just Called to Say I Love You”/Stevie Wonder
Casey does a feature on the Drifters’ “There Goes My Baby,” the first record of the rock ‘n’ roll era with strings, and he talks about Stevie’s 1973 car wreck and coma. Each of them is fine although they both go on too long, and they come awfully close together. Casey plays only nine songs in the first hour of the show.

32. “Panama”/Van Halen
26. “We’re Not Gonna Take It”/Twisted Sister
Exhibits A and B for what can happen when people take pop music too seriously. Twisted Sister wasn’t going to single-handedly corrupt American youth no matter what the Parents Music Resource Council claimed. Meanwhile, David Lee Roth’s hilariously stupid monologue in the middle of “Panama” (“I can barely see the road from the heat comin’ off”) makes me think that Van Halen was basically a novelty act that happened to include a generationally great guitarist. It’s as if Charlie Parker played in the Spike Jones Orchestra.

30. “Torture”/Jacksons
29. “Dancing in the Dark”/Bruce Springsteen

22. “Cover Me”/Bruce Springsteen
20. “Dynamite”/Jermaine Jackson
18. “State of Shock”/Jacksons
8. “Let’s Go Crazy”/Prince
5. “When Doves Cry”/Prince

Casey notes that three acts have two songs on the survey, crediting Jermaine for his return to the Jacksons on “Torture.” (He’s not on “State of Shock.”)

25. “Sad Songs (Say So Much)”/Elton John. Casey says Elton has hit the Top 40 for 15 consecutive years since 1970, trailing only Elvis, who did it for 22 years. Elton’s streak would eventually reach 30.

24. “Sexy Girl”/Glenn Frey. A man should not call a grown woman a girl, unless she’s his daughter. So that’s one strike against this record. And if Frey’s girl really is a girl, under the age of 18, that’s strike two. Strike three is repeating the phrase “sexy girl” maybe 50 times (estimate) in three minutes as if he were doing aversion therapy.

LDD: “Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)”/Joey Scarbury. Casey takes nearly two minutes to read a letter from a 17-year-old boy about four older women he used to work with at a toy store. The letter implies that they helped him grow up; unfortunately, it doesn’t say that they turned him into a man. Now that would be a letter worth reading.

17. “Rock Me Tonite”/Billy Squier
14. “Drive”/Cars
11. “The Warrior”/Scandal
10. “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again”/Peabo Bryson
One of these is the best record on the show, if it isn’t “Sad Songs (Say So Much),” or the one of the top two songs below.

13. “Lights Out”/Peter Wolf. Casey introduces this by correcting his previous week’s list of solo acts whose names are also animal names (“from Adam Ant to Eddie Rabbitt,” he says, which is making me cringe even without hearing it) to include Ronnie Dove.

9. “If This Is It”/Huey Lewis and the News. Which baseball fan Casey introduces by telling that Lewis and band sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the recent major league all-star game, and helpfully reports that the National League won the game 3-1.

7. “Sunglasses at Night/Corey Hart. Which Casey introduces with a story about aspiring songwriter Hart losing $200 while seated next to Carly Simon at a blackjack table. He hoped to sell her one of his songs. She hoped he was a better songwriter than blackjack player.

LDD: “Heartlight”/Neil Diamond. From a schoolteacher to her little brother, who was befriended by late New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, although what that’s got to do with the letter beyond name-dropping I couldn’t tell. A complete waste of time.

4. “Ghostbusters”/Ray Parker Jr. Down to #4 after three weeks at #1. Ghostbusters was still #2 at the box office after a whole summer in theaters, and the only people who hadn’t seen it by Labor Day weekend were either in monasteries, nursing homes, or jail.

2. “Missing You”/John Waite
1. “What’s Love Got to Do With It”/Tina Turner
Thirty-seven years on, I’m still playing “What’s Love Got to Do With It” on my radio shows maybe twice a week. When 80s music finally starts falling out of style, these two records, perfect in every way, will be among the last to go.

At the Edge of the Universe

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Continuing with our 1977 theme this week, here’s a look inside the American Top 40 show from the week of August 20, 1977.

40. “That’s Rock and Roll”/Shaun Cassidy
28. “Da Doo Ron Ron”/Shaun Cassidy
“Da Doo Ron Ron” is a fabulous update of the Phil Spector Wall of Sound by producer Michael Lloyd. “That’s Rock and Roll” is not even a half-inch deep.

38. “Hard Rock Café”/Carole King. Carole King was only 35 when she recorded this, but fashions had changed so much since she last charted early in 1975 that she and her song both sound geriatric.

37. “It’s a Crazy World”/Mac McAnally. If you remember “It’s a Crazy World,” which is about as 70s as the 70s got, we should probably have lunch sometime.

34. “Don’t Worry Baby”/B. J. Thomas. On the original, the Beach Boys sing, “She told me, baby when you race today just take along my love with you.” Thomas changes “race today” to “leave today,” turning it from yet another car song into something universal.

33. “Edge of the Universe”/Bee Gees. “Edge of the Universe” is from the album Here at Last … Bee Gees … Live, recorded during a single Los Angeles concert in December 1976. They generated a fair number of screams from their audience, but nothing like they would eventually do. In 1979, a friend of mine took his little sister to see them here in Madison, and he said the screaming was the single loudest noise he’d ever heard.

Casey does a feature on the most successful married couple in chart history. Not Sonny and Cher or the Captain and Tennille, he says, but Les Paul and Mary Ford, who charted most of their biggest hits in the pre-rock 50s. I suspect they’re still #1, but if they’re not, I’m sure somebody will tell me.

32. “Slide”/Slave. I could never remember if this was “Slide” by Slave or “Slave” by Slide. It had been #1 on the R&B chart, and it’s got enough guitar skronk to appeal to white kids. This is its peak on the Hot 100.

30. “Keep It Comin’ Love”/KC and the Sunshine Band
27. “My Heart Belongs to Me”/Barbra Streisand
26. “You’re My World”/Helen Reddy
25. “On and On”/Stephen Bishop
24. “Swayin’ to the Music”/Johnny Rivers
I spent the first hour of this show thinking how difficult it was to access 17-year-old me, listening to these songs as the summer of 1977 began to turn toward fall. And then came the second hour.

23. “Strawberry Letter 23″/Brothers Johnson
15. “Smoke From a Distant Fire”/Sanford-Townsend BAnd
If we have lunch over our shared memory of Mac McAnally but you tell me you don’t like either of these, I’m sticking you with the check.

22. “Cold as Ice”/Foreigner
17. “Give a Little Bit”/Supertramp
16. “Telephone Line”/Electric Light Orchestra
14. “Barracuda”/Heart
12. “Handy Man”/James Taylor
11. “Don’t Stop”/Fleetwood Mac
9. “You and Me”/Alice Cooper
8. “Just a Song Before I Go”/Crosby Stills and Nash

This chart has its share of goofballs (see next entry) but it’s also loaded with established, respectable rock acts. “Telephone Line” is the best thing on the show, unless it’s “Strawberry Letter 23” or “Smoke From a Distant Fire.”

18. “Telephone Man”/Meri Wilson
13. “Float On”/Floaters
Heaven help the listeners of radio stations that insisted on playing “Telephone Man” every couple of hours like it was the latest Peter Frampton hit. “Float On,” meanwhile, is absurd, but it was the #1 soul song in this week and would eventually get to #2 on the Hot 100.

EXTRA: “Let’s Stay Together”/Al Green. No, wait, maybe this is the best song on the show, the answer to a listener question about the #1 soul song of the 70s so far. “Let’s Stay Together” spent nine weeks at #1 on the soul chart in early 1972. Nothing would equal that mark until 1982: Stevie Wonder’s “That Girl.” Marvin Gaye would do 10 weeks at #1 with “Sexual Healing” starting later that same year.

6. “Whatcha Gonna Do”/Pablo Cruise
5. “Easy”/Commodores
4. “I’m in You”/Peter Frampton

3. “Higher and Higher”/Rita Coolidge
Hot damn, this show sounds so good right here. As I have written before, I am an unapologetic “Higher and Higher” fanboy. Rita and producer Booker T. Jones don’t try to remake Jackie Wilson, and as a result, they make something that is quintessentially 70s and insanely great.

2. “I Just Want to Be Your Everything”/Andy Gibb
1. “Best of My Love”/Emotions
You couldn’t escape these records. For seven straight weeks in August and September, both were in the Top Three. Each of them had two runs, a long one and a short one, at #1. “Best of My Love” is a record I respect more than I like; considering the ubiquity of “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” that summer, opinions about it are irrelevant.

Still more from the summer of 1977 is ahead, so stay tuned. 

I Don’t Need You

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(Pictured: Kim Carnes enjoys a moment backstage in 1981.)

OK, I started live-blogging the AT40 show from August 1, 1981, on Monday, and now I have to finish the job, like it or not.

21. “All Those Years Ago”/George Harrison. Me, last summer: “America loved the idea that Paul and Ringo were backing George on this, and if it portrays a John Lennon that some people didn’t recognize, maybe blame grief for it.”

20. “It’s Now or Never”/John Schneider. There is utterly no reason for this stiff, whitebread version of the Elvis classic to exist.

19. “Sweet Baby”/Stanley Clarke and George Duke. On “Sweet Baby,” two accomplished jazz players who know a little bit about soul and funk can’t muster up either one.

18. “The Stroke”/Billy Squier
17. “Lady (You Bring Me Up)”/Commodores
Squier’s hormonal riffage still amuses the teenage boy in me, and compared to the rest of the show, Lionel Richie sounds like James Brown.

16. “Touch Me When We’re Dancing”/Carpenters
15. “Time”/Alan Parsons Project
14. “Endless Love”/Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
13. “There’s No Getting Over Me”/Ronnie Milsap
But then there’s this. In the past, I have written about the way AT40 will sometimes hit a streak of pure Top 40 pleasure, with one great radio song after another. This is not that. This is a stultifying quarter-hour of radio. This is why MTV had to happen.

12. “Gemini Dream”/Moody Blues. With Long Distance Voyager at #1 on the album chart in this week, Casey introduces “Gemini Dream” with a good bit of trivia: the Moodys are the third group to hit #1 with an album, break up, reform, and then hit #1 with another album, joining the Jefferson Airplane/Starship and the Bee Gees. Surely it’s happened again since.

EXTRA: “I’m a Believer”/Monkees
11. “You Make My Dreams”/Hall and Oates
The best thing on the show is probably “Who’s Crying Now” back at #30, but these are close.

10. “Queen of Hearts”/Juice Newton. “Queen of Hearts” is uptempo without being the remotest bit rock ‘n’ roll, and thereby exactly what pop radio was looking for at this moment in history. Juice scored five big hits in 1981 and 1982 but when fashions changed in 1983, she went swiftly back to playing county fairs.

9. “Hearts”/Marty Balin. Different times: despite being a pure pop record, “Hearts” was one of the top tracks on album-rock radio in the summer of 1981.

LDD: “Love You Like I Never Loved Before”/John O’Banion. Which Debbie dedicates to Mike, a high-school flame. They have both been married and divorced and now they’re in love, she says, even though he is a soldier in West Germany and they haven’t set eyes on each other in 10 years. Good luck, you crazy kids.

8. “Boy From New York City”/Manhattan Transfer. In the last post, I referred to 1981 as “the white tornado.” To wit: “Boy From New York City” is the 38th record on this show so far, counting the extras, and the 32nd credited to white people. It’s like a Republican National Committee meeting up in here.

7. “Bette Davis Eyes”/Kim Carnes. Seventeenth week on the show, nine of them spent at #1. I’m at a loss to fully explain its appeal. I seem to remember that it didn’t stay on radio playlists very long after 1981, but you shouldn’t trust my memory. I don’t.

6. “Slow Hand”/Pointer Sisters. Potentially controversial opinion: this is yacht rock. Take away the Sisters and it’s basically “What a Fool Believes.” [Late edit: wait a sec. “He’s So Shy” is the one that’s yacht rock. “Slow Hand” is something else but I don’t care about it enough to differentiate the two.]

5. “Elvira”/Oak Ridge Boys
4. “I Don’t Need You”/Kenny Rogers
3. “Greatest American Hero Theme (Believe It or Not)”/Joey Scarbury
2. “The One That You Love”/Air Supply
You cannot imagine the horror of living in a world where “Elvira” was on the radio every couple of hours. Thank the gods this show is almost over.

1. “Jessie’s Girl”/Rick Springfield. This sounded better than practically everything else in the summer of 1981, although if this week’s AT40 has taught us anything, that was not an especially high bar to clear.

It’s a familiar theme: by 1981, the jolt that disco gave to pop music in the late 70s had faded away. Mainstream radio pop had retreated into a safe space in which nobody would be challenged. (I’ve seen it linked to the rise of Ronald Reagan and the triumph of backlash politics after the 60s and 70s, but smarter people would have to say.) In any case: a new jolt was needed, and it was coming, starting on one cable system in New Jersey, the same weekend this AT40 aired.

I realize that there are people who feel as warmly about 1981 as I do about 1976 and 1971, and if you are one of them, all I can say is, you do you.

The White Tornado

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(Pictured: the group Alabama hangs out in 1980.)

On August 1, 1981, MTV launched, on a single cable system in New Jersey. It would take a while before MTV gained sufficient critical mass to change music history. Out in the pop world of 1981, the beat went on. Here’s a live-blog of the American Top 40 show that aired around the country that weekend.

Casey starts the show by noting that there are eight new songs in this week. New, yes. Different? I wonder.

40. “You’re My Girl”/Franke and the Knockouts. Franke and the Knockouts’ first hit, “Sweetheart,” remains great. “You’re My Girl” is a song you’ve already heard a million times before you’ve heard it once, and you’ll never need to hear it again.

39. “Really Want to Know You”/Gary Wright. In which Gary Wright sounds postively exhausted.

38. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”/Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This has never done much for me, but at least it’s got some personality.

37. “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore”/Tubes. The band hired super-producer David Foster, and he gave them this generic love ballad that could hardly be by the same band that made “White Punks on Dope” and “Don’t Touch Me There.”

36. “Love on a Two-Way Street”/Stacy Lattisaw. Before playing “Love on a Two-Way Street,” Casey answers a question about songs that stayed the longest in the Top 40 by giving the answer—and then repeating the answer in case we didn’t catch it 10 seconds before. Then, he says, “Debuting this week is that 14-year-old girl Stacy Lattisaw, with her second Top 40 hit on the pop chart called ‘Love on a Two-Way Street.’ Stacy Lattisaw.” FOR GOD’S SAKE MAN YOU JUST TOLD US HER NAME WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SAY IT AGAIN

35. “Feels So Right”/Alabama. Late in 1980, Alabama scored their first two #1 country hits, and sometime that winter, the county fair in my little Wisconsin hometown was able to book them for the grandstand in July. By the time they played, they’d had two more #1s and “Feels So Right” was crossing over to pop. It was the fourth in a streak of 21 consecutive #1 country hits that would last until 1987.

34. “Don’t Give It Up”/Robbie Patton. A “turntable hit” is a song that gets played a lot on the radio without generating many sales. The phrase is obsolete but the concept remains today, especially in country music—radio stations give heavy airplay to certain records that I am convinced no listener actually likes. I also feel that way about the blindingly white “Don’t Give It Up.” It’s hard to imagine that anybody raced out to the record store to buy it, but radio stations liked how it sounded.

LDD: “While You See a Chance”/Steve Winwood. In which Mary, a woman from the Chicago suburbs, makes friends with a train conductor named Bobby, who consoles her with advice after her dream of moving to California falls through: “Life’s not gonna give you anything. You have to make things happen.” Shortly after that, Bobby fell off the train and was squashed against the third rail.

Well, no, I made that last bit up, but if I hadn’t admitted it, would you have doubted me?

33. “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”/Jim Steinman
32. “Double Dutch Bus”/Frankie Smith
“Double Dutch Bus” is rarely mentioned when we discuss the earliest rap records to get traction on the pop charts, and I don’t know if it belongs. But if it’s OK with you, I’d prefer we never speak of it again. Or Jim Steinman either.

EXTRA: “Winchester Cathedral”/New Vaudeville Band. Part of Casey’s series reviewing the #1 songs of the 60s, this is the 154th, from December 1966.

31. “Fire and Ice”/Pat Benatar. I am no Pat Benatar fan, and this isn’t especially good on its own, but it sounds great compared to the rest of this show so far.

30. “Who’s Crying Now”/Journey
29. “A Woman Needs Love”/Ray Parker Jr.
28. “Cool Love”/Pablo Cruise
27. “The Breakup Song”/Greg Kihn Band
Journey and Greg Kihn are the best of this show so far, but even a man with the soul-music cred of Ray Parker Jr. can’t escape the white tornado that is 1981. “Cool Love” doesn’t move me in any direction.

26. “Modern Girl”/Sheena Easton
25. “Medley”/Stars on 45
I’m about ready to tap out here. “Modern Girl” is dreadful. Compared to that, “Medley” is “Stairway to Heaven.”

24. “Don’t Let Him Go”/REO Speedwagon
23. “In the Air Tonight”/Phil Collins
22. “Urgent”/Foreigner
EXTRA: “Good Vibrations”/Beach Boys
Finally, some signs of life. But we’re two hours down and still only up to #22.

Do I want to live-blog the rest of this? Not really. Do you want me to? Well, OK then. Tune in again next time.