Followers of Fashion

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(Pictured: Billy Casper, 1966 U.S. Open champion, lines up a putt.)

The world turns a day at a time, and before too long, 50 years have gone by. But the week of June 18, 1966, is a week that has, in a sense, never really ended.

From top to bottom, the Billboard Top 40 contained an astounding bounty of music, and to listen to the radio in that week—in that summer, in that year—must have been remarkable, and hard to turn off. The top four songs held their positions from the previous week: “Paint It, Black,” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?,” “I Am a Rock,” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.” “Monday Monday” had just dropped out of the Top 10. Also on its way down: Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and #23” Also in the Top 20 were hits by the Four Seasons (“Opus 17”), the Beatles (“Paperback Writer”), the Animals (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), and James Brown (“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”). The highest-debuting record of the week within the 40 was “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Great soul stars were everywhere: Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, Sam and Dave, the Supremes, the Temptations. The week also sparkled with indelible singles by less famous acts: “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” by the Chiffons, “Red Rubber Ball” by the Cyrkle, “Oh How Happy” by Shades of Blue, “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” by the Swingin’ Medallions, and the Standells’ “Dirty Water.”

(The bottom of that week’s Top 40 contains three songs from our One Week in the 40 list—each placed within the Top 40 for a single week. The Kinks’ “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” jumped from #41 to #36 for the week before falling back to #44 the next week. At #39 was “S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (The Letter Song)” by Joe Tex, and at #40 sat “The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me” by country star Eddy Arnold.

Elsewhere that week:

Sunday, June 19, was Father’s Day. Ed Wynn, whose career as a comedian ran from vaudeville to television, and whose son, Keenan Wynn, also became a prominent actor, died at age 79. Many dads watched the U.S. Open golf tournament, where Billy Casper come from seven strokes behind over the last nine holes to catch Arnold Palmer and force an 18-hole playoff for the championship. On Monday the 20th, Casper won the playoff by four shots. Five doubleheaders were played in the majors on Sunday; only six games were played on Monday. The Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants led their leagues as the week began.

The week before, the Supreme Court had ruled that police must read suspects their rights before questioning them. On Monday, the House of Representatives sent the Freedom of Information Act to President Johnson on a 307-0 vote. (Johnson, who would have preferred to keep much non-classified information secret, reluctantly signed the bill on the Fourth of July.) Later in the week, the Senate cast a unanimous vote for a package of new regulations for automobile safety, mandating that all new cars be equipped with seat belts, shoulder belts, rear-view mirrors, hazard lights, door locks, and other safety features beginning with the 1968 model year. The Organization of American States voted to withdraw peacekeeping troops from the Dominican Republic. Johnson had sent about 22,000 American soldiers to the Dominican Republic the year before to intervene in the country’s civil war, in hopes of stopping a Communist takeover.

The constitutional rights of the accused, the right of citizens to know what their government is doing in their name, to what extent the government has a duty to protect the health and safety of citizens, the proper way to project American power abroad—we have never really stopped discussing those issues. Much as we have never stopped listening to the songs that soundtracked them a half-century ago.

Shine On

Let’s pick up the trail of One Week in the 40, with more songs that spent a single week in Billboard‘s Top 40. The end is in sight.

Before Jim Stafford went to #3 with “Spiders and Snakes,” he charted with “Swamp Witch,” which has to do with snakes and other stuff you probably don’t want somebody to put down your back. Stafford’s bayou tale hit #39 for the week of July 14, 1973.

After “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Bette Midler’s “Friends” (which is not the song from the Elton John movie score) reached #40 in a 10-week chart run, peaking during the week of November 10, 1973. The B-side, a version of the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love” was listed for two weeks. Both were produced by the not-yet-famous Barry Manilow.

I do not hate “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods like so many people do, and the Heywoods’ “Who Do You Think You Are” is in fact awesome. Their third 1974 hit, “The Heartbreak Kid,” more generic than either of the other two, made #39 for the week of December 14.

Your mileage may vary with some of these songs. What sounds good to me might not move you at all, and vice versa. “Dance Wit’ Me” by Rufus, their followup to the Top-5 hit “Sweet Thing,” doesn’t seem to do anything for four minutes. But it did enough for enough people to reach #39 for the week of June 12, 1976.

After the Top-10 hits “Pick Up the Pieces” and “Cut the Cake,” the Average White Band’s next three singles all barely squeaked into the Top 40 despite being pretty good. “Queen of My Soul,” the last of the three, reached #40 during the week of October 16, 1976. (Soul Train performance and interview here.)

We know from Toni Tennille’s memoir that her relationship with the Captain wasn’t always so great, and it’s my half-assed belief that you can hear it in some of their songs. On “Love Will Keep Us Together,” she tells him that all the other women in the world will eventually lose interest in him. On “Lonely Night,” she calls him “little man.” On “You Never Done It Like That,” she praises his sexual prowess as if it surprises her and calls him “little man” again. On “You Need a Woman Tonight,” she tells him what he needs, with nary a question about what he thinks his needs might be. OK, I may be stretching a bit on the last one. “You Need a Woman Tonight” hit #40 for the week of January 27, 1979.

Any similarity between “A Lover’s Holiday” by Change and the sound of Chic is probably not coincidental. Session musicians recorded the instrumental tracks for Change records in Italy, then shipped them to New York, where the vocals were added by session singers. Luther Vandross sang lead on some and background on others, but he’s not on “A Lover’s Holiday,” which peaked at #40 during the week of July 19, 1980.

R&B groups with large numbers of members, along the lines of Earth Wind and Fire, the Ohio Players, and the Commodores, were a big deal for a while. L.T.D., with lead singer Jeffrey Osborne a couple of years away from a solo career, hit #40 with “Shine On” during the week of January 31, 1981. Con Funk Shun scored the second of two Top 40 hits with “Too Tight,” which sounds like a Commodores outtake and reached #40 for the week of February 28, 1981.

Andy Gibb’s first three singles all hit #1; his next five did no worse than #15. But he fell off a cliff pretty quickly after that. “Me (Without You)” reached #40 for the week of April 11, 1981. It’s a ballad that should have done big business in that bland year—at least until the last minute or so, when Andy kicks it into power-ballad overdrive, which doesn’t suit him at all. He would chart just once more after that—his oddball collaboration with Victoria Principal on “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” in the fall of 1981.

Narada Michael Walden would produce some of the biggest hits of the 80s for Whitney Houston (and others), but one of his first projects was teenage R&B singer Stacy Lattisaw, who was 13 when she charted with “Let Me Be Your Angel” in 1980. “Miracles,” a ballad that easy to imagine Whitney singing, hit #40 for the week of October 22, 1983.

We have but three songs remaining on this list—all of which spent their single week in the 40 during the same week. Watch for them in a future installment.

In Church

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Since back before Christmas, we have been looking at and listening to songs that spent a single week within Billboard‘s Top 40 between 1964 and 1986. Let’s hit this latest batch in chronological order.

Billy Vera’s “At This Moment” became a left-field smash in 1986, but Vera was a veteran of the music wars by then—and the story of his 1960s collaboration with Judy Clay is actually pretty interesting. Vera and Clay were the first interracial duo to record for a major label (thanks to Jerry Wexler and Atlantic), but late in 1967, when it came time to promote their first single on TV, network executives were reluctant to put them on. They feared a racist backlash at the sight of a white man and a black woman singing to each other about an adulterous love affair, especially given that Clay was pregnant at the time, by her jazz-musician husband. So there was no Ed Sullivan/Hollywood Palace/Kraft Music Hall appearance for them, and “Storybook Children” stalled at #54. Their second effort, “Country Girl–City Man,” squeaked to #36 for the week of March 23, 1968.

A lot of great music came from black and white musicians working together in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, who wrote and/or played on some of the most magnificent records of the 20th century at Muscle Shoals and elsewhere, wrote “I Met Her in Church” for the Box Tops, who made #37 with it for the week of October 12, 1968.

(Digression: Record mogul Sam Phillips was a native of Florence, Alabama, just up the road from Muscle Shoals. I recently read Peter Guralnick’s biography of Phillips, which I can halfway recommend. Halfway, because the stuff you want to read about—the opening of Memphis Recording Service, the discoveries of Howlin’ Wolf and Elvis, the founding of Sun, and the explosive early careers of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis—is covered in the first part of the book and is largely over by 1963. Phillips lived until 2003, and the story of his last 40 years is the story of a man trying to figure out what to do after changing the world.)

Barbra Streisand’s “People,” which hit in 1964, is one of the most famous of all MOR hits. The Tymes, famed for the 1963 #1 hit “So Much in Love” (and in the 70s, the fabulous “You Little Trustmaker”), squeaked an up-to-date soul version of “People” to #39 for the week of December 28, 1968.

Bill Deal and the Rhondels, an eight-piece band with a horn section, were from New York City, and they made the Hot 100 five times in a little over a year and never made it back. Their first Top 40 hit, “May I,” made #39 for the week of March 15, 1969. There’s a YouTuber who says he’s recreated the all-analog audio processing used at WABC Radio in New York during the 60s and 70s and is reprocessing songs as they were heard back then (although my experts tell me that the reprocessing is not as historically accurate as advertised); the reprocessed “May I” is right here.

It would be the late 70s before the Emotions became a household word, thanks to their #1 hit “Best of My Love” and their collaboration with Earth Wind and Fire on “Boogie Wonderland.” The sweet soul of their first chart hit, “So I Can Love You,” is a lot different from either of those, and it reached #39 for the week of July 19, 1969.

Dyke and the Blazers recorded “Funky Broadway” in 1966, before Wilson Pickett made it a hit. The Buffalo, New York, natives hit the Top 40 twice in 1969. “We Got More Soul” is the better-known of the two (at least to me), hitting #35 in the summer of 1969. Even though “Let a Woman Be a Woman–Let a Man Be a Man” was on the Hot 100 one week longer, it spent only one of those weeks in the Top 40, hitting #36 for the week of November 1, 1969.

Andy Kim is somebody we’re completely nuts about around here, a pop-music genius who’s not recognized as one, as he should be. In September and October of 1969, his collaboration with Jeff Barry, “Sugar Sugar,” recorded by the Archies, spent a month at #1. “Sugar Sugar” was still in the Top 10 when Kim’s “So Good Together” spent the week of November 8, 1969, at #36.

We have at least two installments of this feature left. Maybe three. Stay tuned.

Got to Be Somebody

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(Pictured L to R: three guys who could sing and/or write you some great songs: Joe South, Tommy Roe, and Billy Joe Royal.)

Here’s another edition of One Week in the 40, in which we listen to songs that spent a single week in Billboard‘s Top 40, hence the name. Several of the acts in this edition are famous for one other song, but are not technically one-hit wonders, in some cases because of the songs we’re listening to here.

Bobby Hebb is a fine example. The only song of his most people can name is “Sunny,” which threatened to become a standard after it rose to #2 late in the summer of 1966. But the week “Sunny” fell off the Hot 100, it was replaced by Hebb’s soulful version of the country standard “A Satisfied Mind,” which made it to #39 on November 5, 1966.

The trippy “98.6” by Keith was a Top-10 hit early in 1967. But Keith made it to #37 with the Hollies song “Tell Me to My Face,” a song much beloved at this blog in its version by Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg, on April 15, 1967.

We could easily turn this into a game. I’d say “James and Bobby Purify,” and you’d almost inevitably come back with “I’m Your Puppet,” a #6 hit in the fall of 1966. But the Purify cousins made the Hot 100 eight times in two years and the Top 40 three times in all, with another song peaking at #41. “Wish You Didn’t Have to Go” made #38 for the week of February 25, 1967, but crashed out of the Hot 100 two weeks later.

Do you like this game? Let’s play again. I say “Brenton Wood” and you say . . . “Gimme Little Sign,” most likely, because it was a Top 10 hit in the fall of 1967. A few freaks might come up with “The Oogum Boogum Song,” which contains one of the more pernicious hooks of the 1960s. It reached #34 during the week of June 24, 1967, and was gone from the Hot 100 two weeks later.

(Never mind the not-technically-one-hit-wonders theme; we should probably be doing a crashing-out-of-the-Hot-100 theme instead.)

Let’s jump ahead a few years. Marie Osmond hit the charts a lot with Donny, but can you name a hit she charted under her name alone? I’m thinking of “Paper Roses,” which was a Top-10 hit in the fall of 1973. She’s on our list for “This Is the Way That I Feel,” in which she goes for a soul-diva vibe, with predictable results. It reached #39 for the week of June 4, 1975 1977.

In 1978, “Kiss You All Over” by Exile went to #1. Their followup hit, “You Thrill Me,” is actually a pretty decent record. It reached #40 for the week of February 3, 1979—and then fell out of the Hot 100 entirely, because of course it did.

(Four years later, Exile relaunched as a country act and bagged 10 #1 hits between 1984 and 1987, including the insanely great “Woke Up in Love.”)

All right, back to the game. I say “Rickie Lee Jones” and you say . . . “Chuck E.’s in Love.” But another track from her debut album, “Young Blood,” hit #40 for the week of September 1, 1979 (and she’d hit the Hot 100 two more times, in 1981 and 1984).

There are a few artists on this list for whom you could probably name two hits, like Jackie DeShannon (“What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart), even though she put 16 onto the Hot 100 between 1963 and 1980. “Love Will Find a Way” was her only other Top 40 hit, reaching #40 on December 6, 1969. With Billy Joe Royal, you might name “Down in the Boondocks” and the great “Cherry Hill Park,” but “I’ve Got to Be Somebody,” written by Joe South, spent the week of January 15, 1966, at #38. And with Rick James, “Super Freak” and “You and I” may come to mind, but maybe not “Cold Blooded,” which was #40 for the week of September 24, 1983. (Abbreviated Soul Train clip here.)

We have a few songs yet to cover, so watch for future installments of this feature.

So Very Happy

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(Pictured: Motown singer Brenda Holloway, in an unconventional shot.)

Since before Christmas, we’ve been listening to records that spent a single week in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 between 1964 and 1986. This installment is starting beyond that time frame, however.

During the week of June 22, 1959, “Tall Cool One” by the Wailers rose to #36 for a single week before dropping out of the 40. Almost exactly five years later, during the week of May 30, 1964, the very same recording of “Tall Cool One” entered the Top 40 for another single week, hitting #38 before dropping out again. So they may not belong here at all—or they may deserve extra-special recognition. Either way, the Wailers occupy their own special niche in music history. Backing a fellow Washington state singer named Rockin’ Robin Roberts, they cut the prototype version of “Louie, Louie” in 1961, and are considered one of the first garage bands.

The Viscounts, an instrumental group from New Jersey, also re-charted an earlier hit to make this list. Early in 1960, they hit #52 with “Harlem Nocturne.” Six years later, the same recording made the Top 40—#39, to be precise, for the week of January 1, 1966.

Another fabled garage band, the Shadows of Knight, recorded a version of “Gloria” that hit #10, far eclipsing the original version by Van Morrison’s group Them. They had four other Hot 100 hits in 1966 alone, but only one made the Top 40 and stayed but a week, “Oh Yeah,” at #39 for the week of July 2, 1966. The Five Americans, a group of Oklahomans who formed officially in Dallas, are also considered a garage band. They hit the Top 40 four times, most famously with “Western Union” in 1967. “Zip Code” hit #36 for the week of September 17, 1967. Zip codes were relatively new back then, and the writer of the song had a little trouble with the concept, referring to the zip code “one double-oh-three six-oh-eleven.” Still, if the Postal Service never tried to turn it into a public-service announcement, they failed at their job.

Dionne Warwick, who charted many, many Burt Bacharach/Hal David songs, took their “Are You There (With Another Girl)” to #39 for the week of January 22, 1966. One week later, Fontella Bass, best known for “Rescue Me,” hit #37 with her followup single, “Recovery.”

“Rescue Me” is the best Motown single not to appear on Motown. Brenda Holloway, who actually did appear on Motown, hit #39 with the original version of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” which she co-wrote, on December 4, 1967. Two weeks later, it would be gone from the Hot 100, and about as quickly, Holloway would be gone from Motown.

Just as Dionne Warwick recorded plenty of Bacharach/David songs, the Fifth Dimension recorded several by Jimmy Webb. After making an indelible smash of “Up Up and Away,” they released Webb’s “Paper Cup,” which describes as Webb’s tribute to the Beatles, seeming to borrow from “Getting Better” and “Penny Lane.” It bounced from #44 to #34 and back to #44 again, reaching its peak for the week of December 9, 1967.

Other adult pop stars are on our list. Dean Martin made it with “Come Running Back,” which made #35 for the week of June 11, 1966. So did Vikki Carr, who followed her #3 smash “It Must Be Him” with “The Lesson,” which hit #34 for the week of January 27, 1968. Petula Clark hit the Top 40 with 15 straight singles between 1965 and 1968. The last one, “Don’t Give Up,” made #37 for the week of August 24, 1968. (“Don’t Give Up” is a song I didn’t know I remembered; it must have gotten a lot of airplay on our hometown radio station and I absorbed it by accident.) Engelbert Humperdinck was a regular visitor to the Top 40 during about the same time; “I’m a Better Man,” another Bacharach/David joint, made #38 for the week of September 27, 1969. All four of these hits made the Top 10 on the Billboard‘s Easy Listening chart; “The Lesson” was #1.

If I’m counting correctly (always a questionable proposition), we have 28 songs remaining on this list, so future installments of this feature are guaranteed—as much as anything is guaranteed in a world such as this.

Ronnie Who?

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(Pictured: the man in the titular question, identity to be revealed below.)

There are about 150 songs on my One Week in the 40 list; 17 of them are from 1964 and 16 are from 1965. Some of the songs from those years we have discussed in earlier installments. Here are a few more.

Not long ago I stumbled across the 1983 documentary Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound, based on the book of the same name. It’s definitely worth your time to watch, and several groups mentioned in it are on this list. The Chiffons recorded “I Have a Boyfriend,” a Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich song that went to #36 for the week of January 4, 1964. Another Barry/Greenwich composition, “You Should Have Seen the Way He Looked at Me,” recorded by the Dixie Cups, hit #39 during the week of November 21, 1964, and will stick in your head for a long time after you hear it. From Motown, the Marvelettes hit #34 with “I’ll Keep Holding On,” which zoomed from #45 to #34 for the week of July 3, 1965, then dropped back to #55 the next week. Patti Labelle and the Blue Belles took a similarly dizzy ride up and down with their version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which zoomed from #41 to #34 (for the week of February 8, 1964) and back to #43 after that.

Male groups that may inspire glimmers of recognition are on the list as well. The Beau Brummels hit with “Laugh, Laugh” and “Just a Little” in 1965 before “You Tell Me Why” squeaked only to #38 for the week of August 28, 1965. While “Laugh, Laugh” was running the charts, the Newbeats (“Bread and Butter”) hit #40 with “Break Away (From That Boy),” on February 20, 1965. The Strangeloves (“I Want Candy”) made #39 with “Cara-Lin” during the week of October 23, 1965. The YouTuber posting the mono mix of “Cara-Lin” says it stomps the stereo version that’s widely available, and I don’t doubt it.

“Rip Van Winkle” by the Devotions was released three different times before it bubbled up to #36 for the week of April 4, 1964—that fabled week in which the Beatles held down the top 5 positions on the Hot 100. It’s not really a novelty record, although it does include Chipmunk-style effects for some reason. Allan Sherman’s “Crazy Downtown” is a novelty, a parody of Petula Clark’s original, and it made #40 during the week of May 8, 1965.

Some familiar female singers make the list. Barbara Lewis (“Hello Stranger”) hit with “Puppy Love,” which is not the same song Paul Anka made famous. It made #38 for the week of March 14, 1964. Lesley Gore hit the Top 10 with her first four singles (“It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s a Fool,” and “You Don’t Own Me”) and went to #12 with another (“That’s The Way Boys Are”) before squeaking into the 40 with “I Don’t Wanna Be a Loser,” which hit #37 for the week of June 20, 1964—and disappeared from the Hot 100 the very next week.

Male singers whose names may spark glimmers of recognition are on the list, too. Major Lance, best known for “The Monkey Time” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um,” hit #40 with “Come See,” written by Curtis Mayfield, on April 3, 1965. Roy Head, best known for “Treat Her Right,” hit #39 with his followup hit, “Just a Little Bit,” during the week of December 4, 1965.

And then there’s Ronnie Dove. If you get no glimmer of recognition from the name of Ronnie Dove, I’m not surprised. He’s on this list for “Say You,” his first hit, which made #40 for the week of September 26, 1964. It may surprise you to learn that “Say You” was just the beginning for Ronnie Dove. In a little more than two years after “Say You,” Dove hit the Top 40 nine more times, and would rack up a total of 20 Hot 100 singles by the summer of 1969—but none of them made the Top 10. “Right or Wrong,” “One Kiss for Old Times’ Sake,” and “Little Bit of Heaven” all squeezed into the teens and charted on the Hot 100 for at least 10 weeks; “When Liking Turns to Loving” and “Cry” also peaked in the teens. (Find them here if you’re interested.) I’m guessing he’d be #1 on the list of “most Hot 100 hits without making the Top 10,” although somebody with a better work ethic, or a more searchable database, would be able to say for sure. But because his songs never really made it onto oldies radio, you may never have heard any of them.

There’s one last record from 1964 to talk about in this feature, and we’ll get to it in the next installment.