Saturday, April 30, 2011

This Week's Review -- April 30, 1977

Ten new singles debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Three eventually placed into the Top 40, with one getting as high as the Top 10 list. There's a definite variety of music: Steve Miller with a solid rocker, Manfred Mann with another Springsteen tune, a remake by Helen Reddy that was targeted to the adult crowd, a Paul Anka song about infidelity, a ballad from Alice Cooper and a few songs that rode the disco wave that was coming strong by 1977.

Google Books has an archive of past issues of Billboard magazine, including the April 30, 1977 edition. The full Hot 100 list can be found on page 106. Page 6 has a story about a new record store in Los Angeles that focused on punk and new wave music. Although the term "new wave" would take on some evolutionary changes as its artists explored new territory, this may have been one of the first times it was mentioned in Billboard. Page 22 has an interview with radio PD Buzz Bennett in which he explains the "burn factor" caused by playing hit songs too frequently.

Wolfgang's Vault

The Steve Miller Band - "Jet Airliner" Jet Airliner (Remastered) - Jet Airliner - Single

(Debuted #71, Peaked #8, 18 Weeks on chart)

Musicians do an awful lot of traveling, so it's a frequent topic that songwriters tend to touch on from time to time. In addition to songs about being away from home, the various methods of travel get mentioned as well: planes, trains, buses and automobiles. Thus, "Jet Airliner" is a song that appeals to a musician like Steve Miller who tours frequently.

Despite being commonly associated with Miller, he wasn't the writer who put the words on paper. Instead, Paul Pena was the author. Pena had recorded it in 1973 but record label trouble kept it from being released. Eventually, the song was played for Steve Miller, who placed it on his Book of Dreams LP.

"Jet Airliner" isn't exactly a "radio-friendly" album cut. In the final verse, there's a line that says, "I don't want to get up in that funky shit goin' down in the city." The single version substitutes the word "kicks" for the offending word. That version also edits the opening guitar solo, which lasted more than a minute on the album version, and eliminates a few audible deep breaths that can be heard before certain lines. The YouTube video above features the LP cut, with the long guitar intro, extra breathing and salty language.

Chilliwack - "Fly At Night" Fly At Night - Chilliwack: Greatest Hits

(Debuted #76, Peaked #75, 6 Weeks on chart)

Chilliwack was a Canadian band based in Vancouver. Though quite popular in their home country, they didn't get many chances to hit the U.S. charts at all. Even when they had, the results had been disappointing, never getting into the top half of the chart of staying aroung very long. They had to wait until another decade before they finally hit the Top 40 -- 1981's catchy "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)" -- before the band took an extended hiatus.

"Fly at Night" was written by guitarist/vocalist Bill Henderson. At points, it sounds like Neil Young is singing, especially during the opening vocals before the band steps in and speeds up the tempo. Despite the poor showing on the U.S. pop chart, "Fly at Night" went Top 10 in their home country, for their biggest hit there until "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)" finally gave them a #1 hit.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - "Spirit in the Night" Spirits In the Night - The Best of Manfred Mann's Earth Band

(Debuted #77, Peaked #40, 8 Weeks on chart)

There is some confusion regarding this song. Manfred Mann's Earth Band recorded two separate versions, each with a different singer. The first was actually titled "Spirits in the Night" with Mick Rodgers, and had been a #97 hit in 1976. However, when Chris Thompson took over lead vocals, they did another take and returned its title to the original "Spirit in the Night" that Bruce Springsteen gave it.

Written by Bruce Springsteen, "Spirit in the Night" was one of the two final songs (along with "Blinded By the Light") he added to his Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey LP. It's a neat coincidence that both would later become hits for Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The song was a typical Springsteen topic: restless kids looking to have some fun while they were still young. While it mentions Route 88 (a real road in New Jersey), the story about a place in "Greasy Lake" is an embellishment, since there is no place in teh state with that name.

Alice Cooper - "You and Me" You and Me - Lace & Whiskey

(Debuted #80, Peaked #9, 21 Weeks on chart)

Despite his legacy as a hard rock icon who resorted to sometimes shocking theatrics in his concerts, Vincent Furnier had a really soft side too. However, by 1977 it was likely beginning to irritate even his staunchest fans: "Only Women Bleed" in '75 and "I Never Cry" the next year were both low-key productions, so "You and Me" followed in their tempos for '77. Although it became the biggest Alice Cooper hit since 1972's anthem "School's Out," it was becoming evident that the man who had been using theatrics to add shock value to his concerts was getting mellower in his advancing age. In what may be considered a sign of the Apocalypse by some, he even sang the song on an episode of The Muppet Show.

However, the softer sound was masking some demons Cooper himself was dealing with. He was beginning to lose a battle with alcohol that began affecting his live shows (something "I Never Cry" alluded to) and would soon check himself into a hospital to help deal with the issues plaguing him. Since a soft Alice Cooper is a lot better than once that's been permanently silenced, the ballads probably seem better in retrospect than they ma have been received when they first came out.

Helen Reddy - "You're My World" You're My World - Ear Candy

(Debuted #83, Peaked #18, 22 Weeks on chart)

 Helen Reddy was one of the more consistent hitmakers of the 1970s. On the Billboard Hot 100, she took three singles to #1 and 15 into the Top 40, while taking eight singles to the top of the Adult Contemporary charts. "You're My World" would be the final pop Top 40 single for her career.

"You're My World" was originally called "Il Mio Mondo" and sung by its composer, Umberto Bindi. Translated into English, it was a worldwide hit in 1964 by Cilla Black. It would be recorded by several artists afterward, but didn't return to the U.S. Top 40 until Helen Reddy took it on. It's been said that Elvis Presley kept a copy of Black's single in his personal jukebox at Graceland and jammed with the Beatles on the song when they visited him in 1965.

Reddy's version stays fairly true to the one Black released. She makes full use of her vocal abilities, but it really wasn't an improvement on a song that was largely familiar to her audience, nor was it anything she hadn't done already on one of her albums. As a swan song, though -- even if it wasn't exactly intended to be one -- it wasn't bad.

Paul Anka - My Best Friend's Wife My Best Friend's Wife - The Best of the United Artists Years (1973-1977)

(Debuted #89, Peaked #80, 2 Weeks on chart)

Click Here to Listen

Those who tend to judge a book by its cover won't need much time to know what this song is about. Yes, the song's title suggests adultery, and Anka doesn't disappoint in that regard. He also doesn't stray far from the musical style he used for most of the decade, either. It's just funny to point out that the guy who famously hit with "(You're) Having My Baby" just three years before has focused his attention on another woman. To be fair, nothing in the lyrics indicate whether that wife is still around; however, a guy who's messing around with a married woman is probably not thinking too much of his own spouse even if she's still in the picture.

Some "best friend," though. There's an unwritten code that male friends have that includes not getting involved like that (at least without permission)...and the narrator knows he's crossed that line: "if it ends, I lose two friends." But there he is, stopping over to see her between four and five in the afternoon.

Peter Gabriel - "Solsbury Hill" Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel 1: Car (Remastered)

(Debuted #90, Peaked #68, 5 Weeks on chart)

The first solo hit for the former Genesis frontman -- actually, it can be called a definitive debut single because Genesis never scored any Hot 100 hits until after Phil Collins took vocal duties -- is purportedly an explanation of why he stepped away from the band. It's also been claimed the song is about a religious awakening, since religious imagery is a big part of the lyrics.

Although "Solsbury Hill" missed the Top 40, it is still one of Gabriel's better-known solo tunes. An interesting arrangement on the song has additional instruments added with each verse, taking a simple guitar intro to a complex orchestral arrangement. It showed some of the musical style he would use for the next two decades, a mix of experimental material and contrasting sounds from anywhere it the world Gabriel thought it would work within the framework of the composition.

Carrie Lucas - "I Gotta Keep Dancin'" I Gotta Keep Dancin' (Keep Smiling) - Carrie Lucas: Greatest Hits

(Debuted #94, Peaked #64, 8 Weeks on chart)

Early in 1977, the disco phenomenon was still a rising tide. It wouldn't be long before a parade of uptempo songs with "Dancing" inserted somewhere in the title would appear, but occasionally an interesting lyric would pop up in a disco song before the popularity Saturday Night Fever gave the genre signaled that the tide was also going to drag in the debris cast out to sea in earlier tides.

With Carrie Lucas's debut hit, the title was only half of the complete thought: "I gotta keep dancing to keep from breaking apart." Rather than just doing a song about dancing, the lyrics mention an old flame entering the club. Not only is she dancing because it gives her a release from the worries of her regular life, but it's also helping to get over a heartbreak. That's not something that got mentioned that often in a disco song.

"I Gotta Keep Dancin'" was a song from Lucas's debut LP Simply Carrie.It would later be reworked for her 1980 single "I Gotta Keep Dancin' (Keep Smilin')," which charted on the disco survey but missed the Hot 100 entirely.

The Hues Corporation - "I Caught Your Act" (Not available on iTunes)

(Debuted #96, Peaked #92, 2 Weeks on chart)

Originally named as a pun on the company owned and founded by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes -- in fact, their record company rejected their first version of the name, Children of Howard Hughes --  Hues Corporation is best known for its #1 single "Rock the Boat" from 1974. A handful of hit singles followed, with "I Caught Your Act" being the last one.

Since some "experts" give "Rock the Boat" the credit for the first disco #1 single (thereby overlooking Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Love's Theme"), it is hardly a surprise that "I Caught Your Act" is an uptempo number. It's not bad, even if it does have several musical gimmicks in the orchestration and a lack of the R&B feel that made their biggest hit so memorable to listeners. It's just that by 1977, their music no longer stood out among the rising tide of disco music that was flowing into record stores, on the radio and inside jukeboxes.

Current - "Theme From Rocky (Gonna Fly Now)" (Not available on iTunes)

(Debuted #98, Peaked #94, 3 Weeks on chart)

At the time Current's version of the theme from the film Rocky was listed on the Hot 100, there were three versions in all on the survey. The other two -- Bill Conti's original score and Maynard Ferguson's jazz translation -- were making their way into the Top 40. However, there was one other version that had beaten all of those into the Billboard pop chart, one by Rhythm Heritage. Each one had its own distinct sound.

The song was quite stirring, and was identified with a very famous scene of Sylvester Stallone running through the Philadelphia streets while training for his fight with Apollo Creed, ending at the top of the City Hall steps. The association with the film sometimes blurs the fact that it's a well-orchestrated piece of music.

However, the Current version sounds like it was quickly made to capitalize on the success of the film. It comes across as a song that was programmed as fast as the synthesizer could be set up.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

This Week's Review -- April 25, 1970

There were thirteen new singles on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, including a double-sided single and two that were returning after previously dropping off the chart. Three of those singles made their way into the Top 40 and two into the Top 10. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Diana Ross and The Four Tops are probably the best known artists, but many of the tunes that stalled short of the Top 40 are definitely worth a listen as well. A song that was written by a future Vice President of the United States is included, as are three songs that are given a gospel-influenced backing vocal arrangement. Freda Payne's signature song is here, as is James Taylor's (except it wasn't Taylor's recording). A couple of examples of early funk are on display as are R&B and bubblegum. A novelty song pokes fun at poor white trash. Finally, a song that was inspired by sight at Woodstock becomes an anthem for the person who performed there.

Among the past issues of Billboard available at the Google Books archive, the April 25, 1970 edition is missing. In its absence, I'll point out that there are tabs at the top of this blog (just under the 8-track image) have each year listed from 1970-'79. Clicking those tabs will bring a list of songs featured on this blog from each year, with links to the reviews. The list is updated soon after each new entry. So, if you have a favorite year, you can always click on that and know exactly which songs will be featured.

Classic Concerts

Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Up Around The Bend" Up Around the Bend - Cosmo's Factory (40th Anniversary Edition) [Remastered] b/w "Run Through The Jungle" Run Through the Jungle - Cosmo's Factory (40th Anniversary Edition) [Remastered]

(Debuted #48, Peaked #4, 11 Weeks on chart)

Fortunately, YouTube allows me to feature the record's B-side as well:

Both sides appeared on Cosmo's Factory, the group's best-charting LP. Thanks to having nearly unlimited exposure through oldies radio (in the case of "Bend") and classic rock radio (for "Jungle"), both are also well-known tunes. Just as singles should, each side has a unique flavor to it.

"Up Around the Bend" is driven by a great John Fogerty guitar riff that is as much a part of the song as his manic reading of the lyrics.

As for "Run Through the Jungle," many have assumed it was about Vietnam. Given the fact that previous songs like "Fortunate Son" directly mentioned the War and the fact that the jungle imagery definitely fits the location, that would be a good guess. However, Fogerty has stated in interviews that he was trying to channel an early blues musician. The sound is pure swamp rock, about the best the band laid down.

"Run Through the Jungle" would later be involved in a lawsuit. After John Fogerty's solo hit "The Old Man Down the Road" went into the Top 40 in 1985, former manager/record label head Saul Zaentz sued him because it was quite similar in sound and style to "Jungle." While Zaentz owned the rights to all of Creedence Clearwater Revival's material, it was odd to have a songwriter accused of plagiarizing himself.

Diana Ross - "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)" Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand) - Diana Ross (1970)

(Debuted #49, Peaked #20, 9 Weeks on chart)

Newly separated from the Supremes, Diana Ross's first solo single was a gospel-tinged plea for brotherhood (or sisterhood, depending on your perspective) written and produced by Nikolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. While "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" would be better remembered since it went to #1, it's sometimes forgotten that it wasn't Miss Ross's first solo single.

It would also begin a streak that lasted throughout the decade for Diana Ross: her solo singles either went to #1 or missed the pop Top 10 entirely. Interestingly, for a performer who had so publicly branched off from the group that made her a star, the female backing singers on the track sure sound suspiciously like they could have been Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong. Complicating matters a bit, The Supremes also covered "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand" with The Four Tops. Although that version wasn't issued as a single, it is still sometimes confused with Ross's rendition.

Lulu with The Dixie Flyers - "Hum A Song (From Your Heart)" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #74, Peaked #54, 6 Weeks on chart)

Click Here to Listen

Best known for her #1 hit "To Sir With Love" in 1967, Lulu has managed to get a small handful of American hits over the years. On "Hum a Song," she's joined by The Dixie Flyers, a Atlantic session group that also appeared on hit singles by Aretha Franklin and Dee Dee Warwick. For the fans who were familiar with Lulu's orchestral-backed sound from her bigger hits, "Hum a Song" may come as a surprise. It's a funky little number, with a clavinet and vocal interplay.

The new direction didn't help her, though. It was also the second and last of Lulu's American pop hits from the 1970s.

Guy Drake - "Welfare Cadillac" (Original not available on iTunes)

(Debuted #80, Peaked #71, 5 Weeks on chart)

Getting a second chance after reaching #63 on a previous run beginning in January '71, "Welfare Cadillac" was a song that might be considered a novelty. I said "might" because I haven't figured out whether the lyrics are done in jest or as some twisted commentary. Basically, the narrator of the song is commenting on how he always has a brand new Cadillac even tough he's collecting government assistance. He doesn't own anything else -- his house is a tar-paper shack, his wife and ten children sometimes need to sleep in the car to keep warm -- and thinks people who have to work for what they have are fools.

I'm guessing some people thought a dry recitation of poor white trash was humorous enough to allow "Welfare Cadillac" to chart twice, but I don't really think it's all that funny. Maybe that kind of humor hasn't aged well. However, had the race of the person been changed, the song would be held out today as a relic of how backwards people were in the early 1970s.

Melanie with the Edwin Hawkins Singers - "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" Lay Down (Candles In the Rain) - Beautiful People: The Greatest Hits of Melanie

(Debuted #89, Peaked #6, 17 Weeks on chart)

In 1969, Melanie Safka was a 22 year-old singer who took the stage at the Woodstock festival. Her set was scheduled late on the first day of the festival (August 15) and it had become dark by the time she took the stage. According to legend, at one point during her performance she looked out and saw several concertgoers had lit candles. Seeing the light against what was a sea of humanity inspired her to write a song, and "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" was the result.

While "Lay Down" is usually considered to be a "hippie"-type song due to its backstory, imagery and performer, it was done with a gospel-flavored accompaniment by The Edwin Hawkins Singers. The mixture actually sounds natural, although it's up to the listener to determine whether the gospel part was a conscious effort to mix styles or suggest that Woodstock was something of an analogy to a religious event.

R.B. Greaves - "Fire And Rain" (Not available on iTunes)

(Debuted #90, Peaked #82, 3 Weeks on chart)

Back in September, I covered another version of this song (done by Johnny Rivers) and mentioned that James Taylor was actually the third artist to chart with what is generally considered one of his signature tunes. The first appearance in the Hot 100 of "Fire and Rain" was by R.B. Greaves,who's best known for the 1969 hit "Take a Letter Maria." That said, his take on "Fire and Rain" isn't too far removed from Taylor's rendition even as he adds a small dash of soul to the mix.

There's plenty written on the Internet about Taylor's reasons for writing "Fire and Rain," including some conflicting accounts from Taylor himself over the years. I'm not going to rehash them here. However, it's worth pointing out that sometimes a different voice can give a different vibe to a familiar song. With JT's version, he's recounting something deeply personal to him. R.B. Greaves is interpreting the words without that same experience.

Freda Payne - "Band Of Gold" Band of Gold - Freda Payne: Greatest Hits

(Debuted #93, Peaked #3, 20 Weeks on chart)

"Band of Gold" was a major breakthrough for Freda Payne, hitting #3 in the U.S. and topping the British charts. It kick-started her career but defined it as well.  And there's the problem: no matter what she did after that hit, she was going to be compared -- fairly or otherwise -- to that song from that point forward.

Most reviews focus on the story of the new bride sleeping in separate beds with her husband on their honeymoon, but the music backing her up was as much a part of the success. Despite the sad nature of the lyrics, the musicians play like their lives depended on it. Since Payne was signed to Invictus, label owners Holland/Dozier/Holland had some of their former Motown friends lay down session work on the side for a little extra pay. As a result, several members of the Funk Brothers (including Dennis Coffey) were present in the studio. Also on hand was a teenaged Ray Parker, Jr., who took the lead guitar, and Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson, before they were tapped to be part of Dawn.Vincent Bell (who had a 1970 Top 40 hit with "Airport Love Theme") provided the sitar. With that much star power behind her, it's little wonder the song became a hit.

"Band of Gold" was written by Edyth Wayne (generally believed to be a pseudonym for Holland/Dozier/Holland) and future Parliament sideman Ron Dunbar. However, it's been associated with Payne ever since it was placed in heavy rotation on the radio.

Jesse Anderson - "I Got A Problem" (Not available on iTunes)

(Debuted #95, Peaked #95, 2 Weeks on chart)

Here's what Jesse Anderson calls a "problem": he has to keep a balancing act between his girlfriend and his wife. Sounds like he didn't think it was much of a problem when he began playing the field...but these things have a way of blowing up in a big hurry once certain people find out about it.

"I Got a Problem" was the only pop hit for soul artist Jesse Anderson, a Chicago-based funk/soul musician. There isn't a lot of info to be found about Anderson to be found out there, but it seems he didn't record a lot of singles. The flip side of "Problem" was "Mighty Mighty," a song written and produced by Curtis mayfield.

The Street People - "Thank You Girl" (Not available on iTunes)

(Debuted #96, Peaked #96, 2 Weeks on chart)

Click Here to Listen

The Street People was intended to be a project with Ron Dante, but his involvement with The Archies precluded him from any outside ventures. As a result, young singer Rupert Holmes would be brought in to finish the project. "Thank You Girl" was the group's last chart hit, and fell off after only two weeks. Holmes, of course, would appear again later in the decade as a solo artist.

"Thank You Girl" should not be confused with the song the Beatles made in 1963. It's a different song altogether, done in a bubblegum style. It wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Tommy James & the Shondells album or in one of those chase sequences in Scooby Doo.

Oliver - "Angelica" (Not available on iTunes)

(Debuted #97, Peaked #97, 2 Weeks on chart)

After a single week at #100 and falling off the Hot 100, "Angelica" was getting a second chance. It didn't get much of a boost, though, and was gone for good after two more weeks.

William Swofford used his middle name professionally and scored three Top 40 pop hits in 1969, including a hit version of "Good Morning Starshine" from the play Hair. However, he wasn't happy with the full-blown productions he was given that were designed to show off his vocal range; he preferred more folky arrangements. When "Angelica" flopped in 1970 his career went into a tailspin. By 1971, he parted ways with producer Bob Crewe over musical direction and began using his real name to distance himself from his previous musical persona. He was out of the music business by the end of the decade and died from cancer in February 2000.

Bobby Womack - "More Than I Can Stand" More Than I Can Stand - Anthology: Bobby Womack

(Debuted #98, Peaked #90, 2 Weeks on chart)

In 1970, Bobby Womack was still a few years away from getting some decent hits, but had already been a veteran session musician for a decade. Beginning as a young protege of Sam Cooke in a group called The Valentinos with his brothers and then touring on a bill with James Brown, Womack wrote songs as he toiled in the trenches. One early hit was "Lookin' For a Love," which Womack later recorded as a solo cut and was also an early J. Geils Band hit. Another Valentinos song, "It's All Over Now," would become The Rolling Stones' first #1 single in the U.K. 

When Cooke died, Womack married his widow and squandered his good name in the R&B community. As the 60s wore on, he worked hard as a guitarist, both in the studio and as a touring musician. By the late part of the decade, he was beginning to get some action with his singles again. All the time, he continued to write a series of hits for Wilson Pickett and worked toward striking out on his own. By the time he recorded "More Than I Can Stand," he was still working towards that end. The song is a nice slice of R&B, a smooth melody that is easily accessible.

The Four Tops - "It's All In The Game" It's All In the Game - Essential Collection: Four Tops

(Debuted #99, Peaked #24, 13 Weeks on chart)

I've mentioned here before that I grew up listening to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 on the weekends. In fact, I still listen to repeat performances today (Check the list on the right side of this blog to find out when they play...Internet feeds are great when they let you hear a radio station from anywhere). Among the little nuggets of trivial information Casey planted in the young mind of this future blogger involved the song "It's All in the Game": it was written by a future Vice President of the United States.

That's a rather simple explanation, though. Yes, Charles Gates Dawes composed the msuic in 1911 as "Melody in A Major," but the words weren't added to the song until 1951, after Dawes had served as Calvin Coolidge's second-in-command. In fact, Dawes passed away in 1951 and probably never heard his tune with the words added. The song would be recorded by Tommy Edwards in 1958 and went to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Four Tops would revive Edwards' song, but by 1970 it had become more of a standard that had been laid down dozens of times. Their version was done in their own style but still faithful to Edwards' rendition. It would go on to reach the pop Top 40 but also top 10 on the soul chart as well as in the U.K.

The Fabulous Counts - "Get Down People" (Not available on iTunes)

(Debuted #100, Peaked #88, 4 Weeks on chart)

"Get Down People" was the only pop listing for a Detroit-based band The Fabulous Counts and a nice example of early funk before it was morphed during the 1970s. Featuring an extended organ solo by singer Moses Cates and a guitar solo by Leroy Emanuel (who is introduced by his first name before letting his fingers tell their story), the song is an example of an artifact that is often overlooked due to its obscure nature.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This Week's Review -- April 17, 1971

There were eight new singles debuting on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, with three getting into the Top 40 and two Top 10 hits. The songs includes first appearances for one of the biggest singer/songwriters of the era and a blue-eyed soul man from Texas, as well as a final entry for a former member of The Monkees. Aretha Franklin puts a gospel spin on a recent smash, while a Canadian band hits with a two-sided hit. A white Motown artist tries to get a mini-drama up the charts, a Baltimore soul group tries a mellow approach and a country artist tells a story about leaving a failed love.

Among the archive of past Billboard issues at Google Books is the April 17, 1971 edition. The full Hot 100 list can be found on Page 56. Page 3 has a couple of articles about the interest in a song called "The Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley," issued just after that Army officer's conviction for the My Lai incident in Vietnam. Stores couldn't keep the single in stock, radio stations were torn about playing it, and a cover version by Tex Ritter was being canceled by Columbia. An editorial on Page 6 announces the passing of composer Igor Stravinsky. Finally, Page 8 mentions that the American Top 40 radio program had gone international after picking up stations in four new countries. However, the article spells Casey Kasem's last name as "Kasom."

Save $20-$40 on XM Radios

Aretha Franklin - "Bridge Over Troubled Water" Bridge Over Troubled Water (Live at Fillmore West, San Francisco, February 5, 1971) - Aretha Franklin: Live at Fillmore West

(Debuted #57, Peaked #6, 12 Weeks on chart)

Aretha Franklin is a songwriter, but she's also known for being able to interpret material written by others. As the daughter of a minister, her gospel background was incredibly helpful in doing a version of a song that had already been a huge hit the previous year for Simon & Garfunkel. It is fully immersed in gospel, with an organ, piano and a chorus singing behind her.

While the lyrics were born out of Paul Simon's feelings about the sometimes tempestuous partnership he had with Art Garfunkel, the images are easily seen through a gospel prism. After all, Christians have an affinity for water metaphors: baptism, the story of Jesus walking on the water, the manner preachers often discuss using water to extinguish the fires of Hell. If the waters are too rapid to wade across, a symbolic bridge built on faith can help believers cross them safely.

And seen through that gospel veneer, Aretha nails it. Aside from its Top 10 pop position on the pop chart, her rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was a #1 R&B tune and won a Grammy.

The Guess Who - "Albert Flasher" Albert Flasher (Single Version) - The Best of the Guess Who b/w "Broken" Broken - The Best of the Guess Who

(Debuted #85, Peaked #29, 13 Weeks on chart)

Since this was a double-seded single, the video below features the song on the other (not necessarily the B...more on that in a minute) side:

This was an unusual single for the Canadian band, as it wasn't associated with an LP. Perhaps it was tossed out to radio stations as an appetizer as the group dealt with membership changes and other issues before a new album could appear. While The Guess Who often varied their music style, both sides of this single were straightforward tunes based in rock with "Albert Flasher" paced more quickly.

When the single originally appeared on the Hot 100, "Broken" was originally listed as the A-side. However, "Albert Flasher" was preferred by listeners and DJs and soon was listed as the A-side for the remainder of its chart run. Both songs are now available on the CD release of The Best of the Guess Who, but that album's 1971 vinyl version didn't include them. For many years, that single was the only place most fans could acquire either song for their collections.

R. Dean Taylor - "Gotta See Jane" Gotta See Jane - The Complete Motown Singles - Vol. 8: 1968

(Debuted #86, Peaked #67, 4 Weeks on chart)

R. Dean Taylor will be remembered by some for writing The Supremes' song "Love Child" or for being among a small handful of white artists on the Motown label. Above all else, he'll be remembered for a blast of 1970s melodrama known as "Indiana Wants Me" (reviewed here last September). Though he listed a few hits after that one, none managed to be nearly as memorable. As a result, Taylor is lumped in with One-Hit wonders of the era.

"Gotta See Jane" was one of Taylor's attempted followup singles, and even had a few similarities to "Indiana": sound effects to punctuate the story, a dramatic string section and a sense that the narrator is in a big hurry to get away. This time, however, he's trying to get back to the world he once left behind instead of running to avoid the consequences of his actions. This time, instead of a three-minute mini-drama, "Gotta See Jane" features a disjointed sound, with a constant drumbeat, a bass line that souns like a rapid heartbeat and sudden guitar riffs heightening the sense that nothing -- not a hard pouring rain, nor any stoplights, not even the laws of physics if possible -- can be allowed to impede this man from getting back to what he once felt was normal. In short, he went off to join the rat race and lost in spectacular fashion.

Boz Scaggs - "We Were Always Sweethearts" We Were Always Sweethearts - My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology (1969-1997)

(Debuted #89, Peaked #61, 6 Weeks on chart)

Although "We Were Always Sweethearts" was the first Hot 100 single of Boz Scaggs' career, he had been busy for several years before that. His career began in 1959, when Scaggs was a high school student in Dallas. One of his early bandmates was Steve Miller; the two would play again several times through the years, through college and even in an original lineup of Miller's band.
Leading off his LP Moments, "We Were Always Sweethearts" is an early sample of Scaggs' brand of blue-eyed soul before it took on a more slickly-produced sheen later in the decade. He sounds like he's inspired as much by Van Morrison as he was by soul artists.

Michael Nesmith and the First National Band - "Nevada Fighter" Nevada Fighter - Nevada Fighter

(Debuted #94, Peaked #70, 4 Weeks on chart)

Michael Nesmith's third and final post-Monkees hit was originally called "Apology" when he wrote it. Apparently, that was before he wrote the final words, because it's not anywhere in the lyrics. Instead, "Nevada Fighter" was a song that showed Nesmith's country influence, a harder-edged brand of C&W that focused more on the "Western" than it did on the "Country," and definitely a more hardscrabble version of country than was finding its way to that format's stations at the time.
Shortly after the song sank without a trace from the memory of most listeners, Nesmith disbanded his First National Band and debuted The Second National Band. Unfortunatley, his new group generated no followup hits on Billboard's pop chart. Eventually, he would go on to become a pioneer in the field of music video, and at a time when that was about to break open wide.

While "Nevada Fighter" is perhaps my least favorite of Nesmith's three "solo" projects, that's not to say it doesn't have merit. It's interesting, though, that he is often seen as a country-rock influence, yet The Byrds, Poco and Gram Parsons seem to get the main credit. "Nevada Fighter" is a reminder that there were others as well.

Carly Simon - "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be - Carly Simon

(Debuted #98, Peaked #10, 17 Weeks on chart)

The video above is from a 1972 concert in Central Park. Check out the short cut to George Harrison talking with Art Garfunkel before she starts singing.

If I were writing this blog during my teenage years, I'd have told you that I found this song long, slow and depressing. It was the aural equivalent of being forced to go and visit with an elderly relative. Time has eased my opinion about it, as I have learned from my own experience. Also, those elderly relatives have passed on, and the childlike feeling of boring conversation over topics that didn't interest me have been replaced by a selfish wish that I would get one more chance to have that talk and somehow make it right.

It was Carly Simon's solo debut on the pop chart, and quite a way to introduce herself to the world. The lyrics definitely paint a bleak picture, and the sad violin behind her voice only deepens the gloomy feeling. Sensing both inevitability and despair about it, she looks at the possibility of getting married at the same time as she considers the sad state of her own parents' union, the trap her friends seem to be in and the controlling nature of her supposed beloved. In other words, a song about life and choices.

It was quite an introduction. The song solidified her in the singer/songwriter genre, helped showcase her song sylings and helped vault her to become one of the decade's top female writers.

Susan Raye - "L.A. International Airport" L.A. International Airport - 16 Greatest Hits

(Debuted #99, Peaked #54, 9 Weeks on chart)

Songs about leaving have long been a staple of country music. In the case of "L.A. International Airport," the narrator is walking away from a broken relationship by flying away. All the while, the lyrics are telling their story: the cab ride to the airport, the sights in the terminal, the friendly voice of the captain as the plane is in the air. The picture is painted in a staccato fashion, as if the singer is still trying to make sense of what is happening even as she's doing it.

"L.A. International Airport" was originally recorded by David Frizzell in 1970, so the lyrics take on a different spin when delivered by a female singer. The song became Susan Raye's signature hit, even though she had others that were bigger hits on the country chart (this one reached #9 there). It was her only pop hit, though. She retired from the music business in 1986 and became a psychologist.

The Whatnauts - "I'll Erase Away Your Pain" I'll Erase Away Your Pain - Smooth R & B and Classic Soul, Vol. 1

(Debuted #100, Peaked #71, 7 Weeks on chart)

"I'll Erase Away Your Pain" was the biggest pop hit for a soul group based in Baltimore. In 1971, R&B groups were able to get hits without needing slick studio production or resorting to a disco-friendly arrangement, so this song uses the backing strings to provide a lush, romantic atmosphere. At the same time, singer Billy Herndon pleads with a lady -- who may not even know he feels for her -- to get into her good graces.

Kanye West sampled this song as part of "Late" in 2005.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This Week's Review -- April 6, 1974

This week, eight singles debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, and only two were able to reach into the Top 40. Those two songs were performed by soul legends, but the others shouldn't get overlooked. A song by Linda Ronstadt that she already recorded for an earlier album is included, as is a song Todd Rundgren recorded as part of an experimental album. A follow-up single by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes shows the range of Tedd Pendergrass's voice. Two new artist make their only Hot 100 appearance, and one who was quite familiar to listeners shows up as well with a song that may not have been well-suited for him.

Google Books has a large archive of past editions of Billboard; however, the April 6, 1974 edition is not part of it. Instead, I'll mention my other music-related blog, 80s Music Mayhem. It features a new song each weekday, with every week spotlighting a particular year from the decade. Last week's songs were from 1985 but are worth reading if you're a fan of that era and its music.

Wolfgang's Vault - Posters

Stevie Wonder - "Don't You Worry 'bout A Thing" Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing - Innervisions (Reissue)

(Debuted #73, Peaked #16, 15 Weeks on chart)

The live clip above is from an appearance on the old Beat Club from the U.K. It doesn't show the entire song, but is a great historical document showing Stevie Wonder doing the song live at the time it was a current hit.

A lot has been said about melisma lately. That's the name given to the practice of spreading several notes over what should be a single syllable. It's not hard to find it, since many American Idol contestants use it to prove they have soul (even when they don't) and Christina Aguilera employed it as she performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the Super Bowl. As a way of conveying emotion, melisma is fine; as a way of showing off a vocal range or technical proficiency, its meaning often gets lost.

Take Stevie Wonder's performance of "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," for example. In the chorus, he cuts loose with the title and uses about ten syllables to say "thing." That's melisma.

Through much of the 1970s, Stevie Wonder was experimenting with different styles as he cast off the yoke of the material given to him by his handlers at Motown. One of the obvious things used here is a Latin rhythm, complete with maracas. He even starts off the song with a tongue-rolling intro that is similar to what is often heard in Latin music styles. From there, he does a spoken-word "rap" (the 70s slang interpretation, although it may have influenced the rappers that came later) as he's talking to a lady. Then he launches into the main part of his song. Few performers were "on" as well as Stevie Wonder at his peak.

Aretha Franklin - "I'm In Love" I'm In Love - Aretha Franklin: 30 Greatest Hits

(Debuted #78, Peaked #19, 12 Weeks on chart)

"I'm in Love" was originally written by Bobby Womack for Wilson Pickett, but Aretha Franklin decided to use her interpretive skills on it. It works from the female's perspective, especially when a horn section is added to the mix. Starting slow, the song picks up as it goes on, perhaps signifying a process of falling in love (as opposed to the "love at first sight" that often pops up in music). 

At the time, Aretha Franklin had been a consistent visitor to the pop Top 20 for several years. That was soon going to change, as "I'm in Love" was her last trip there until the next decade. From 1974-'77 she had seven Hot 100 singles, but none that would get as high as "I'm in Love" did.

Todd Rundgren - "A Dream Goes On Forever" A Dream Goes On Forever - Todd

(Debuted #85, Peaked #69, 6 Weeks on chart)

In 1973, Todd Rundgren came out with a new LP after the success of "Hello It's Me," a song that took a very long path to hit status: two different versions beginning with his prior group Nazz, and then a year after its inclusion on the Something/Anything? album before making the Billboard Hot 100. Since Rundgren was following the beat of his own drummer, the new album Todd was an experimental piece that allowed him to expand on his interests in the synthesizer and electronic effects. In other words, it wasn't exactly the type of record that was going to produce a lot of hit material, which likely irritated his record company.

Among all the progressive electronic and technical wizardry on the album was "A Dream Goes on Forever," a song that was a soft ballad. The lyrics are a little abstract, but explain that in dreams there are no time limits and therefore go on forever. It ended up being the only song from the album to be given a single release.

The Eleventh Hour - "So Good" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #94, Peaked #94, 2 Weeks on chart)

Click here to listen

There isn't a lot of information available about The Eleventh Hour. Reading the information given in Billboard's Hot 100 listing the week it debuted,"So Good" was written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan (who also wrote "My Eyes Adored You" and "Lady Marmalade" together), and Crewe handled the production. Crewe was certainly busy in the mid-1970s, as his name pops up an awful lot in the era as a writer, producer and even a performer. This leads me to assume that the group was a studio band Crewe put together as an outlet for some of the material he couldn't give to another artist. 

Listening to the song, it's not hard to draw a line from The Eleventh Hour to Crewe's most famous collaborators, the Four Seasons. The singer hits a falsetto -- though not as distinctive as Frankie Valli's --and there is some vocal interplay between him and the other singers during the song, like the Seasons sometimes did during their 1960s heyday. Perhaps Crewe felt the song was better in the hands of a different group, or even that the song was a little too funky for the band to lay down.

Creative Source - "Who Is He And What Is He To You" Who is He (And What is He to You)? (Single Edit) - ...And More

(Debuted #97, Peaked #69, 7 Weeks on chart)

Creative Source was a five-member band of L.A. studio veterans managed by Ron Townsend of the Fifth Dimension. They shared the same record company (Sussex) as Bill Withers and gave a soul/funk treatment to one of his compositions, "Who is He and What is He to You." It sounds like it could have been done by The Temptations around the same era. Though it was released in an extended album version and a truncated single-length rendition, both are great listens.

There's no need to explain "Who is He and What is He to You" beyond its obvious implication that the narrator has made a discovery and wants an explanation from his lover. It would be the only pop hit Creative Source would have, and the biggest of four R&B listings. They probably deserved to get a better showing than they did.

Linda Ronstadt - "Silver Threads And Golden Needles" Silver Threads and Golden Needles - Don't Cry Now

(Debuted #98, Peaked #67, 7 Weeks on chart)

Linda Ronstadt -- known for her proclivity for tackling songs from the past -- redoes a song she'd already put on a previous album. "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" was a track on her LP Hand Sown...Home Grown in 1969, and then recorded in a slightly different style for her '73 album Don't Cry Now. Not surprisingly, the song was done in many versions before Ronstadt put her mark on it. Wanda Jackson recorded the original version in 1956, and Jody Miller and The Cowsills charted with the song during the 1960s as well.

It is another of the many songs whose lyrics explain that money doesn't buy happiness, with a woman enduring a marriage of convenience. While the words say she's tired of living a lie, Ronstadt sure seems to be enjoying the fiddles and background singers behind her. Personally, I prefer the version she recorded in 1969 but that's the country fan in me talking.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes - "Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)" Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back) - Black and Blue

(Debuted #99, Peaked #58, 10 Weeks on chart)

While a lot of reflection was done when the news of Teddy Pendergrass's death broke last year, one thing that was brought up was the fact that before the car accident that left him in a wheelchair, he was quite a stage presence. As a child, he became a preacher and learned how to use his voice to its full potential. 

"Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)" features Teddy Pendergrass in full form, from a grunt at the beginning to the fade. The music behind him and the other Blue Notes -- produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff -- is a mix of Latin percussion, a string section and the Philadelphia International house band. As the follow-up to the Top 10 hit "The Love I Lost," it missed the pop Top 40 but reached the R&B Top 10.

Frank Sinatra - "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" Bad, Bad Leroy Brown - Some Nice Things I've Missed

(Debuted #100, Peaked #83, 7 Weeks on chart)

This is an interesting song. And I don't know if I'm saying that as a good thing.

Frank Sinatra -- the guy who famously sang "Chicago (My Kind of Town)" -- sings about a badass from that city. In the hands of Jim Croce, the song worked well because Croce had a talent for going from gentle ballads to reflections on scoundrels from the seedier parts of town without a lot of effort. However, "Ol' Blue Eyes" handles this tune in a similar fashion as much of his Big Band material, which really doesn't work well.

I hate to say that, since Sinatra was truly an American original in his day. However, he really didn't do "modern" stuff well once that era had passed. His take on "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" is probably worthy of the Golden Throat-type compilation CDs, but also serves as an illustration of why Sinatra's hitmaking days were well past in the 1970s. He was still a big draw in Vegas, sure...but he really didn't get the kids to go out and buy his records.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This Week's Review -- April 1, 1978

About six months ago, I made a promise to one of my regular readers (he and his wife read this blog religiously every weekend) that I would lay off the songs from the year 1978 for a while. Around that time, I began looking at the balance of the posts I'd done for each year and noticed that '78 was far ahead of all the other years I cover here. So, I wrote about every other year -- taking care to hit more neglected years like 1971 -- until the rest caught up. Now, it's time to visit 1978 again after half a year away from it.

Sorry, Anthony and Kris. In this case, it's almost fitting to note that the date of this chart is April Fool's Day. That somehow seems appropriate.

Seven new songs debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Four would reach the Top 40 and two would go straight to #1. Interestingly, both #1 hits were duets by artists who'd already had solo success. Among the other songs are a song from Steely Dan's biggest album, a remake of a 1960s British Invasion-era #1 hit, a guitar exercise by Ted Nugent, a dancefloor exercise written and produced by KC and a remake of a song by The Rascals.

The April  1, 1978 edition of Billboard magazine is missing from the archives at Google Books. In its place, I'll once again mention my other music-related blog, 80s Music Mayhem. The post are still winding their way through the 1980s, with all of last week's songs from 1984. Since I turned 12 that year, the entries from the rest of the decade begin taking on more personal topics since that was the time I came of age. If you like that kind of stuff, check it out. New entries appear every weekday.

Where Rock Art lives

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John - "You're the One That I Want"  You're the One That I Want - Grease (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

(Debuted #65, Peaked #1, 24 Weeks on chart)

I was still rather young to pay close attention at the time, but I had a crush on Olivia Newton-John during my adolescent years. I blame it on seeing her in that "bad Sandy" costume toward the end of the film Grease. There's something about seeing the nice girl next door dressed in leather pants to get a young boy's blood flowing.

"You're the One That I Want" was the song that ended Grease (if you don't count the closing credits), as the characters all had their happy endings and graduated from high school. Considering the popularity of the film, it's little surprise the song went to #1. John Travolta was at an early height in his career, RSO Records was servicing the single and it was being played all over the radio and jukeboxes. Even at my very young age, I remember hearing it play while we were waiting to sit at a restaurant. But I'm still guessing the sight of Olivia Newton-John in those leather pants had a little to do with this song hitting #1 while "Summer Nights" stalled at #5.

Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams - "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" Too Much, Too Little, Too Late - The Essential Johnny Mathis

(Debuted #69, Peaked #1, 18 Weeks on chart)

Maturity. It's that time in life where you've realized you wasted too much time before on other pursuits. Occasionally, that also includes realizing you've grown apart from somebody you once took a vow to spend the rest of your natural life with. Sometimes, the solution is to use the approach taken in Meat Loaf's "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" -- just wait for the end of time -- but there's also the "no harm, no foul" breakup tactic mentioned in "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late": the kids are on their own, neither one of us wants to carry on, so let's call the whole thing off.

It sounds like a good idea until the lawyers get involved.

The song marked a comeback of sorts for Johnny Mathis. Written by John Vallins of the early 70s group Tin Tin, it was his first Top 40 hit since 1964 and his first #1 single since "Chances Are" in 1957. Deniece Williams had made herself known the previous year with her single "Free."  It was her first #1 single, and the duet worked well enough that Mathis ended up recording several of them after that, with Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight and others.

A followup duet with Williams, a remake of "You're All I Need to Get By," peaked at #47. The two singers later reunited and sang the theme to the TV show Family Ties in the 1980s.

Ted Nugent - "Yank Me, Crank Me" (Get iTunes link)

(Debuted #81, Peaked #58, 7 Weeks on chart)

Click Here to Listen

Ted Nugent owes much of his success to his live shows. The "Motor City Madman" had spent much of the 1970s on tour, building a loyal and rabid audience. However, his singles failed to reach to Top 40 except for "Cat Scratch Fever" despite his capacity concerts. That said, it should be little surprise that Nugent's 1978 live album containing live versions of both old and new material, Double Live Gonzo, ranks with the Cat Scratch Fever LP as his best-selling album (both have been certified triple platinum). "Yank Me, Crank Me" was one of the new songs that appeared on the live LP.

If you like guitar songs, "Yank Me, Crank me" shouldn't disappoint. It's as close to Nugent's live heyday a listener can get without sitting in the crowd and smelling the pungent odor in the air (an irony, as Nugent is a strong anti-drug advocate, among his other outspoken beliefs).

Steely Dan - "Deacon Blues" Deacon Blues - Aja

(Debuted #86, Peaked #19, 16 Weeks on chart)

Steely Dan made a name for itself with rather opaque and abstract lyrics. Its often stream-of-consciousness flow and often nonsensical nature have led many to spend a great deal of time trying to figure out just what in the hell they mean. And I've been one of those people reading lines of words and trying to make sense of them. When it comes to "Deacon Blues," there are a lot of different theories about what the song means -- a man is contemplating suicide, or trying to kick a drug habit, or reflecting on his own bad luck -- but Donald Fagen and Walter Becker did enough lyrics over the years that included a wink in them, it just may be that they strung together some words and said, "let's see what those self-appointed experts say about this." Despite the obtuse lyrics, the song features a standout saxophone performance and draws more than a little from jazz roots.

"Deacon Blues" was a standout track from the band's Aja LP, which would the highest-charting album they had during the 1972-'82 heyday. In it, the Fagen/Becker core called on the talents of a wide array of studio musicians and painstakingly crafted it before letting it hit the streets. Interestingly, none of its singles made it inside the Top 10.

Santa Esmeralda - "The House Of The Rising Sun" House of the Rising Sun - Santa Esmeralda - Hits Anthology

(Debuted #88, Peaked #78, 3 Weeks on chart)

In November 2009, I reviewed "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" on this blog and mentioned that I was a big fan of the extended version of the song. This time around, we have the same group, covering another classic song from The Animals, and doing it in a disco-styled version. This time around, I'm not as impressed with the result, and feel the long version is incredibly overdone.

Santa Esmeralda didn't make any fans of the song forget about The Animals. The problem was that they also didn't make anybody forget their version of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," either. Where "Misunderstood" was originally written for a Latin beat and was well-suited for the arrangement the group's producers gave it, "Rising Sun's" roots were from 1800s American folk music and weren't as easily co-opted. Where The Animals' version was heightened by Eric Burdon's growl and Alan Price's haunting organ, Santa Esmeralda's version retained neither of those elements.

The song appeared as a twelve-minute opus in its album version, which was a very long workout. It barely keeps the listener interested as a three-minute single, twelve minutes is a really long wait for the end.

Angel - "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" Ain't Gonna Eat out My Heart Anymore - White Hot

(Debuted #89, Peaked #44, 8 Weeks on chart)

Angel was a harder-edged group from the Washington, D.C. area that was discovered by KISS's Gene Simmons. Signed to that band's record label Casablanca, Angel contrasted themselves from KISS by wearing all white and sporting an androgynous look. They managed to get a cult following but not enough to attract wide success; "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" would be the closest they ever got to the Top 40.

Originally recorded by the Rascals in 1967, the song was made into a power-pop song before the term was invented. Though disliked by critics at the same time they were loved by their fans, the song is a good preview of some of what was to come in the 1980s, when groups like Bon Jovi, Winger and Skid Row came out with similarly not-quite metal, too-hard-for-pop confections.

Jimmy "Bo" Horne - "Dance Across the Floor" Dance Across the Floor (Full Version) - Hot Plate - Volume 1

(Debuted #90, Peaked #38, 18 Weeks on chart)

If you have good eyes and can see it on the YouTube video above, or happen to have the single to see it, you'll immediately see why this sounds like a lost song by KC & the Sunshine Band. The song was not only issued on KC's record label TK, but written and produced by Casey/Finch as well.

Like KC and company, Jimmy "Bo" Horne was a Miami native. Though the infectious (or grating, depending on your view of 1970s dance music) "Dance Across the Floor" was his only song to reach the pop chart, he had a few other dancefloor hits including "Spank" in 1979 and "Get Happy," which later was a theme song from The Chris Rock Show when it aired on HBO.