Electric Boogaloo

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(Pictured: the Pointer Sisters at the American Music Awards in January 1985.)

Following up on a post about the American Top 40 show from September 1, 1984, that date was the single most exciting day of my radio career: the day we switched the soft-rock FM station to Top 40. So many songs, inside the Top 40 and out of it, can still bring back that day and the days thereafter, because that’s one of the things songs can do. Here’s some of what was below the Top 40 on that date.

41. “I’m So Excited”/Pointer Sisters
71. “Jump (For My Love)”/Pointer Sisters

Four Pointer Sisters singles were released in 1984, and every one of them smokes: these two plus “Automatic,” which preceded them, and “Neutron Dance,” which followed them and ran the chart into 1985. “I’m So Excited” was on its second go-round; it had made #30 in 1982, but this remix would go all the way into the Top 10.

43. “Infatuation”/Rod Stewart
46. “Some Guys Have All the Luck”/Rod Stewart
Rod’s full strutting cocksman mode, as on “Infatuation,” is insufferable. “Some Guys Have All the Luck” is far more charming and relatable, but if I had my druthers I’d rather listen to “Mandolin Wind” again.

55. “Breakin’ . . . There’s No Stoppin’ Us”/Ollie and Jerry
95. “99 1/2″/Carole Lynn Townes
Ollie and Jerry had taken the title song from the movie Breakin’ to #1 on the dance chart and to #9 on the Hot 100 while “99 1/2” peaked at #77 on the big chart. Breakin’ isn’t as well-remembered now as the parody-worthy title of its sequel: Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

56. “On the Dark Side”/John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. Any resemblance to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was probably not coincidental, from Cafferty’s echo-drenched soul shout to the presence in the band of a large, amiable sax player named Michael “Tunes” Antunes. I have mentioned that I got to interview Cafferty before a show in my small Illinois town; I also did a pre-concert phone interview with Antunes, who surprised me by coming off as a regular guy, at a time when I assumed that most rock musicians were not.

58. “The More You Live, the More You Love”/A Flock of Seagulls. I was, in general, left cold by the English bands that proliferated in the early days of MTV’s dominance. Previous singles by A Flock of Seagulls had done nothing for me until “The More You Live” came along. As I wrote in 2009, “It’s the one I’ve never been able to get out of my head. The lead guitar has a haunting urgency that’s clearly conveying something we’d better pay attention to.”

54. “The Last Time I Made Love”/Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
73. “Hold Me”/Teddy Pendergrass and Whitney Houston
Choose your flavor of tender, oh-so-80s R&B duet. “Hold Me” was the first hit Whitney Houston ever sang on, the summer before she released her debut album and ascended into the stratosphere. “The Last Time I Made Love” opens with a great soul-music line: “The first time I made love it wasn’t love at all.”

60. “The Only Flame in Town”/Elvis Costello and the Attractions. I have friends who are genuinely pained by the fact that I just don’t get Elvis Costello. The charm of what he’s doing eludes me. I respect his critical reputation and his body of work that spans nearly 50 years now, but I’d rather listen to quite literally anybody else.

83. “10-9-8″/Face to Face. On the morning of my radio station’s format change, I aired a series of countdown promos: “seven hours to go,” “six hours to go,” and so on, showcasing the hot hits we would be playing after we threw the switch at noon. But we were locked into a sequence provided by the company that syndicated our music, and so the first current-rotation song we played a few minutes after noon was “10-9-8.” It wasn’t exactly “Ghostbusters” or “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

85. “On the Wings of a Nightingale”/Everly Brothers. Written by Paul McCartney and in its first week on the Hot 100, “On the Wings of a Nightingale” would peak at #50 in a 12-week run, although it made #9 on the adult-contempoary chart and even got a little country airplay.

96. “The Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll”/Huey Lewis and the News. This was the first song we played on the new format. It was never going to be anything else.

Programming Announcement: Tomorrow, another edition of The Sidepiece, my intermittent newsletter repository for stuff not relevant to the gist of this blog, will likely end up in your spam filter. Sign up here if you think it’s something you need. 

Rock and Roll Never Forgets, But I Do

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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.

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.

Got It and Gone

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(Pictured: soul singer Margie Joseph in 1973.)

Instead of following up an American Top 40 post by looking at the Billboard Bottom 60, let’s look instead at the Cash Box Looking Ahead chart for the week of July 17, 1971, which is like Billboard‘s Bubbling Under chart.

1. “Crazy Love”/Helen Reddy. “Crazy Love,” Reddy’s followup to “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” is Van Morrison’s song.

2. “And When She Smiles”/The Wildweeds. The Carpenters sang this song as early as 1971 as “And When He Smiles,” but the version by the Wildweeds, a band from Connecticut, is the original.

8. “Make It With You”/Ralfi Pagan. Pagan’s falsetto version of “Make It With You,” which had been a #1 hit by Bread a year before, maybe ain’t for everybody, but it got Pagan onto Soul Train and boosted his career as one of the top Latin artists of the early 70s. In 1978, he was murdered under mysterious circumstances while touring in Colombia. The crime was never solved.

9. “That Other Woman Got My Man and Gone”/Margie Joseph.  If “That Other Woman Got My Man and Gone” puts you in mind of Johnnie Taylor’s “Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone,” that was probably the idea.

16. “Leave My Man (Woman) Alone”/Raelettes. In which Ray Charles’ backup singers gender-switch one of his songs. “Leave My Man (Woman) Alone” is advice you’d be wise to take.

17. “Breezin'”/Gabor Szabo and Bobby Womack. Although “Breezin'” was more famously recorded in 1976 by George Benson, this “Breezin'” is the OG.

20. “Good Enough to Be Your Wife”/Jeannie C. Riley. If Carly Simon’s contemporaneous “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” is about the ambivalence many young women felt about being expected to fit into society’s expectations about marriage and domesticity circa 1971, “Good Enough to Be Your Wife” expresses a dissenting view. Jeannie C’s man says marriage doesn’t fit his way of life, but she says (paraphrasing), you want the milk, honey, you best buy the cow.

21. “Near You”/Boz Scaggs. Boz was already on his way to stardom in the San Francisco Bay area by 1971. “Near You” would fit right in with his stuff from the late 70s and early 80s, a period that Boz now refers to as “the Hollywood years.”

22. “Candy Apple Red”/R. Dean Taylor. After throwing shots with the police in a doomed attempt to escape a murder charge in “Indiana Wants Me,” R. Dean Taylor commits suicide over a lost love in “Candy Apple Red.” In a church. His last words are, “Someone please pray for me on Sunday,” and the record goes to the fade with a bit of the Lord’s Prayer. What the hell, R. Dean?

23. “Hymn 43″/Jethro Tull. “Hymm 43” seems like such a weird choice for a single. It’s hard to imagine on it AM radio alongside the likes of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” and “Draggin’ the Line.”

25. “I Want to Take You Higher”/Kool and the Gang. As long as the original exists, you don’t really need this version of “I Want to Take You Higher,” but it’s fine.

26. “Where Evil Grows”/Poppy Family
27. “K-Jee”/Nite-Liters
28. “Do You Know What I Mean”/Lee Michaels
30. “Where You Lead”/Barbra Streisand
A handful of singles on this week’s Looking Ahead charts would scrape onto various Top 40s and bigtime radio stations. “Do You Know What I Mean” would end up the biggest. “Where Evil Grows” deserved to be bigger. I have for many years fanboy’d over “Where You Lead.” And “K-Jee” is straight-up disco, years before the word came into widespread use.

29. “Call Me Up in Dreamland”/Van Morrison. After the success of “Domino” and “Blue Money” from His Band and the Street Choir, “Call Me Up in Dreamland” was a stiff. It’s got a great chorus, but the verses are lacking and Morrison’s tenor sax is kind of old-timey.

Sometimes I worry A) that I should do better at keeping up with current music trends strictly because playing that music on the radio is my job now and B) that I am missing out on new stuff that’s good and worthwhile. But I remember that there are hundreds and hundreds of good, worthwhile, and/or interesting records from the preceding 130 years or so that I haven’t heard yet. Then I stop worrying and listen to them instead.

Programming Note: A while back, a reader asked a question I am happy to answer. But my answer is going to be a Sidepiece post, for reasons I will enumerate there. It will go out over the weekend. If you’re not a subscriber yet, the Sidepiece is free and worth the price. Find out about it and sign up here.