Saturday, October 29, 2011

This Week's Review -- October 27, 1979

There were six new singles debuting in this week's Billboard Hot 100, with three making the Top 40. Also, two of those would peak in 1980, both reaching the same #18 position. Although disco was considered to be dying at the time, it didn't stop two of the songs from charting. Another song is a funk classic that has provided an entire generation of hip hop and rap artists with samples. A former member of Poco shows up, as does a duo who would go on to become one of the biggest acts of the next decade. As for another duo, they would soon split, with one half moving on to country music.

Among the archive of past Billboard  issues over at Google Books is the October 27, 1979 edition. The full Hot 100 can be found on Page 92. An article on page 20 mentions that a group was fighting against an effort to get rid of the brass-lined doors at the Brill Building (It seems to have worked, as the doors are still there today). A sociologist on page 6 gives his dissertation about how the Disco juggernaut screwed up the music business.

England Dan & John Ford Coley - "What Can I Do With This Broken Heart" What Can I Do With This Broken Heart - Dr. Heckle & Mr. Jive

(Debuted #78, Peaked #50, 6 Weeks on chart)

It's a shame that "What Can I Do With This Broken Heart" missed the Top 40. It's too good a song to be forgotten. Yes, it fits the overall format laid down in the duo's previous hits, but doesn't come across as derivative. Instead, it follows the path that the earlier hit "Love is the Answer" pointed out. However, the slight disco sheen in the background accompaniment may have detracted from the overall composition, but it was a solid song.

For all intents and purposes, this was the end of the line for the duo. There was one more low-charting single in the new decade and a movie soundtrack (Just Tell Me You Love Me) but that was quickly forgotten. By then, "England" Dan was recording as a solo artist and added his last name (Seals) to his record before dropping the "England" part altogether.

Isaac Hayes - "Don't Let Go" Don't Let Go - The Best of Isaac Hayes: The Polydor Years

(Debuted #81, Peaked #18, 20 Weeks on chart)

Nobody was going to tell Isaac Hayes that Disco was dead. In a way, it was ironic that an artist who was so influential in the early direction of disco wasn't able to enjoy many hit singles during the genre's heyday. Then, when he finally got the chance to show a wider audience the way he could lay down a dance groove, the sound was dropping from prominence.

Just as Hayes had done a decade earlier, he turned to a song from the past. "Don't Let Go" was a remake of the 1957 Roy Hamilton hit but had been given an extreme makeover. The words were the same, but delivered in a totally different style. Using his trademark smooth, low delivery that sound like he's trying to seduce, he lets his female backing chorus handle the song title in a breathy manner. It was his best shot at a disco hit, and was good enough to break through the barrier many listeners had set up against the genre by late 1979.

Funkadelic - "(Not Just) Knee Deep (Part 1)" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #82, Peaked #77, 4 Weeks on chart)

The YouTube video above contains the 15-minute version of "(Not Just) Knee Deep" from the LP Uncle Jam Wants You but the single version was edited down to fit on two sides of the record. The record's A-side was heavily abridged and clocked in at four and a half minutes. Although its pop chart life was short, it would rise to #1 on the R&B chart.

Featuring the regular P-Funk stars (George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Michael Hampton, et. al.), the song also featured the talents of former Spinners singer Phillippe Wynn and ex-Ohio Players keyboard player "Junie" Morrison.

With its classic funk groove and distinctive vocals, "(Not Just) Knee Deep" has been sampled by several hip hop and rap artists over the years. The most obvious of these is De La Soul's "Me, Myself & I" from 1989, but the sample has found itself into the work of Tone Loc, LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer, The Black Eyed Peas and Bobby Brown.

Cory Daye - "Pow Wow" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #84, Peaked #76, 3 Weeks on chart)

(Warning: there is a word written in the YouTube video above that can be considered offensive. If you're watching it at work or around kids, it might be a good idea to hide it as it plays.)

"Pow Wow" was the first hit for Cory Daye, but not her first time her voice graced a hit single. She was a former singer in Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, where she was the voice behind "Cherchez La Femme." While "Pow Wow" was a solid and fun disco single that really needs to be heard if you're into the style, the backlash that sent disco underground as the 1970s came to an end also affected the song even more than the American Indian imagery of the tune (complete with war cries).

In the 1980s, Daye would sing backup for Kid Creole & the Cocoanuts, which was headed by former bandmates August Darnell and Coati Mundi.

Richie Furay - "I Still Have Dreams" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #85, Peaked #39, 10 Weeks on chart)

Richie Furay was a former member of Buffalo Springfield, Poco and The Souther Hillman Furay Band, and eventually moved toward Christian rock after his religious conversion in the mid 1970s. Despite the religious outlook of his personal life, he assured his label that his music would avoid the preachiness that often follows that new direction. One of those forward-looking and inspirational tunes was "I Still Have Dreams," which briefly returned him to the Top 40 one last time before devoting his time to his family and church.

"I Still Have Dreams" sounds like it could have fit right in on a Poco album. It shows the country-rock influence of the band's earlier records, mixed with a slicker late-70s production quality.

Daryl Hall and John Oates - "Wait For Me" Wait for Me - X-Static

(Debuted #87, Peaked #18, 18 Weeks on chart)

After getting some attention in the mid 1970s with tunes such as "Sara Smile," "She's Gone" and "Rich Girl," Daryl Hall and John Oates went through a "down" period that seemed like a waning before their early 1980s resurgence that eclipsed everything they had done before it. In essence, the period was marked by the duo trying to find its sound, rather than simply coming up with more variations of their hits. In the end, it worked; but the years between 1977 and 1980 were rather lean hit-wise.

One other factor that helped their success was two "missing" pieces: guitarist G.E. Smith and bass player Tom "T-Bone" Wolk. I find it to be little coincidence that the duo's biggest hits came with those two musicians supporting them. Smith was already on board beginning with X-Static (the LP that includes "Wait For Me"), and Wolk was still a couple of years away.

"Wait For Me" was written by Daryl Hall, and while it brought them their first Top 40 hit of the new decade, their breakthrough would come much later in the year in the form of their next LP Voices.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This Week's Review -- October 21, 1972

This week's review is another one that will require extra time to read all the way through. There were 16 new singles listed in the Billboard Hot 100 this week, and seven of them worked their way into the Top 40. Additionally, four would get into the Top 10. Any list of 16 songs is bound to show some diversity, and this is no exception. A hit by America that recalls California shows up on the list, as well as a song by Albert Hammond about trying to make it in the same state. There was a Presidential election a few weeks away, which inspired a "break-in" novelty record. Isaac Hayes does a TV soundtrack theme and The Osmonds do a single that flies in the face of their "bubblegum" image. New songs appear by Melanie, Harry Chapin, and Tower of Power that have a different vibe to them, as well as a Sammy Davis, Jr. song that sounds exactly like "The Candy Man" did. The Supremes do a song from Pippin, Joe Simon does a song that will be a bigger hit later on and The Raiders try to appeal to their promotion guys.

The October 21, 1972 edition of Billboard is missing from the archive at Google Books, so I'll once again offer a shameless plug for my other music-related blog 80s Music Mayhem. Last week, the focus was music from 1983 and many of the songs I featured were ones that missed the Top 40 altogether. One was a TV theme that many may not have even realized was a single. If you're a fan of 80s music as well, check it out.

America - "Ventura Highway" Ventura Highway - Homecoming

(Debuted #63, Peaked #8, 12 Weeks on chart)

America's third straight Top 10 hit is one that I can definitely relate to. In the lyrics, a man finds himself in a snow-covered area and really wishes he was somewhere warmer. As a kid who grew up in northern New York -- where we certainly had a lot of white stuff and freezing cold every winter --  I remember being ready for the day I could find myself in a location where hard winters were little more than a memory.

"Ventura Highway" was written by Dewey Bunnell, who also sings the lead vocals. As a military brat, he did his share of moving around. One year, he was living in Omaha, Nebraska and remembered being in California several years before that. The images in the song came from those memories.

One of the more memorable features of the song is the way the two acoustic guitars harmonize in the intro. Also, the lyrics "Alligator lizards in the air" have made some listeners wonder what the heck Bunnell may have been smoking when he wrote the words, but I always assumed he was describing a cloud formation.

Albert Hammond - "It Never Rains In Southern California" It Never Rains In Southern California - It Never Rains In Southern California

(Debuted #65, Peaked #5, 16 Weeks on chart)

There's a story in the lyrics of "It Never Rains in Southern California." A man heads to Hollywood in search for fame and fortune but finds neither. Instead, he gets rejection as he tries to get his big break (a common result, as my friends there have told me). At the same time, he's dealing with homesickness, which doesn't help his feelings of inadequacy at all. In the song, the title is soon followed by the rest of the saying: "It pours. Man, it pours."

Albert Hammond was born in London during World War II after his parents evacuated Gibraltar when the Germans approached. They returned after the war and Hammond grew up there. Before charting in the U.S. as a singer, Hammond wrote material that charted for others, including Leapy Lee's "Little Arrows" and the Top 10 Pipkins hit "Gimme Dat Ding." "It Never Rains in Southern California" would be his biggest American hit as a singer, but he continued to chart minor hits as a solo artist through the decade and continued writing hit singles well into the 1990s.

Isaac Hayes - "Theme From The Men"

(Debuted #73, Peaked #38, 9 Weeks on chart)

"Theme From The Men" is a song that sounds like it would be perfect in one of those prototypical 1970s chase scenes. Not just the ones involving cars, but the ones where an antagonist is getting away on foot as well. Not surprisingly, it was composed as the theme to a TV series.

The Men wasn't a show in the stricter sense we know today; rather, it was a rotating slot of three different shows (Assignment Vienna, Jigsaw and The Delphi Bureau) with a common thread of having a single individual who was able to get his job done with little outside help. The series didn't prove to be popular and was canceled before the 1972-'73 TV season was over.

Despite that, the theme is a great example of 1970s soundtrack work.

The Delegates - "Convention '72" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #80, Peaked #8, 8 Weeks on chart)

As you may have guessed from the title and the name of the artist, "Convention '72" was a politically-themed record. Using the "break-in" style that was pioneered by Dickie Goodman, there was probably some confusion that Goodman had actually been behind the record even though his distinctive voice was nowhere to be heard on it. Instead, it was a bit done by Pittsburgh-area DJ Bob DeCarlo with a couple of record company executives to cash in on the election cycle.

Using the guise of a joint convention between both parties, the record features bits of other hit singles as "responses" to questions posed by reporters. While the newsmen were given altered names -- Walter Klondike, David Stinkley, Larry Reasoning -- the politicians were public figures and weren't afforded the same courtesy.

"Convention '72" is a glimpse into political discourse in 1972, even if it is a little long at five minutes. Plus, the coming election would give the single a short run on the chart. Finally, calling it a "break-in" record is pretty funny, considering what happened with Watergate that year.

Donny Hathaway - "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know - A Donny Hathaway Collection

(Debuted #87, Peaked #60, 6 Weeks on chart)

It's tough to review a Donny Hathaway song without focusing on his tragic story. Instead, I'll offer a suggestion that if you (or someone you know) exhibits signs of mental illness, get help. There is no longer the same stigma attached to it as there once was, and treatment is often sensible. While taking your own life -- as Hathaway did -- is often seen as the "easy way out," it's still a burden your loved ones will deal with and agonize over for the rest of their lives. I'm seeing that with a good friend of mine whose 20-year old son killed himself over the summer. His questions can only be answered by one person, who's no longer able to explain what he was going through. No matter what we say about being there for him, there is no way to bring back what he really wants: his son.

Somehow, "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" is appropriate here. Even after I've gone in a different tangent. My friend has been saying that ever since that tragic day that changed him forever. Hathaway's family likely said it, too. So please get help if you think you're at the end of your rope and that nobody cares. Because you're wrong.

Melanie - "Together Alone" Together Alone - Beautiful People: The Greatest Hits of Melanie

(Debuted #88, Peaked #86, 4 Weeks on chart)

Melanie's career had its share of highlights, with an appearance at Woodstock and a resulting Top 10 song about that experience called "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" that showed depth. At one time, she even had three songs in the Top 40 at the same time. Unfortunately, one of those songs was "Brand New Key," a smash hit that also sunk her credibility.

In 1972, she came up with an album called Stoneground Words, a record that showed her maturity, but the double entendre of "Brand New Key" would overshadow the sincerity of that entire LP. "Together Alone" was the first track, a song about two people preparing to walk through life together. It's a little slow but that helps set the mood of the song. Melanie's music has often been something of an acquired taste, so those who aren't already open to her message likely wouldn't care to hear it.

There's a lesson to be taken away from this: when you're trying to build up a reputation as a serious artist, a one-shot novelty hit with a sexual double meaning might cause people to pay less attention to your later work regardless of its sincerity.

Harry Chapin - "Sunday Morning Sunshine" Sunday Morning Sunshine - Sniper & Other Love Songs

(Debuted #89, Peaked #75, 6 Weeks on chart)

One thing for certain with a Harry Chapin song is that it will tell a story. In "Sunday Morning Sunshine," he takes the persona of a man who feels the need to get away and see the world, but he's drawn back to home by a woman's love. The "Sunday morning sunshine" in the title is the antidote to his "Monday morning rain" and the reason he feels compelled to return to her.

It's not nearly as memorable as "Taxi" was or compelling as WOLD," which explains its low peak position. However, "Sunday Morning Sunshine" also leaves out the sometimes grating manner Chapin exhibits in those hits. In the end, it's a very pleasant folk-based tune and will be well-received by fans of his.

The Osmonds - "Crazy Horses" Crazy Horses (Original) - Osmondmania! Osmond Family Greatest Hits

(Debuted #90, Peaked #14, 12 Weeks on chart)

I was born too late to experience "Osmondmania" when it first swept the country. As a result, I've really never gotten around to hearing much of their material, and what I've paid attention to was colored by the later material Donny and Marie did, as well as the bubblegum label handed to the brothers after their biggest hit "One Bad Apple."

In short, I wasn't expecting "Crazy Horses" when I first heard it a few years back. The song is a solid rocker, complete with what can only be described as an unsettling keyboard wail, gruff backing vocals on the chorus and a brass section barrage. While it's not exactly what I'd expect from The Osmonds, I'm guessing that any other act handling this song would have gotten a different look from critics.

One thing I do notice, though: Donny Osmond isn't singing on this song. The vocals are done by Alan, with Merrill coming in just before the chorus.

Al Green - "You Ought To Be With Me" You Ought to Be With Me - Call Me

(Debuted #91, Peaked #3, 15 Weeks on chart)

Al Green was at the peak of his game late in 1972. "You Ought to Be With Me" would be his fourth Top 10 pop hit in the year and his third #1 R&B single. While his smooth delivery of the song could arguably be considered quite close to a "formulaic" manner, it was a formula that was definitely working for him.

Al the elements you'd expect in an Al Green song are here: the solid Memphis brass section, Green's method of singing that got the ladies in the right mood, the polished production. Call it going back to the well, but it sounds great.

Mouth and McNeil - "Hey, You Love" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #92, Peaked #87, 3 Weeks on chart)

The followup to "How Do You Do" isn't going to make anybody forget the earlier hit. Actually, in Europe, "Hey, You Love" was released first but wasn't issued in the U.S. until after "How Do You Do" was a surprise hit in the Summer of '72. After its disappointing showing, the duo never returned to the American chart again despite more success in their native Holland.

Tower of Power - "Down To The Nightclub" Down to the Nightclub - The Very Best of Tower of Power: The Warner Years

(Debuted #94, Peaked #66, 8 Weeks on chart)

"Down to the Nightclub" uses Tower of Power's signature horn section and funky rhythms, but there are some times where they sound a lot like Rare Earth vocally. It was a track from the groups Bump City LP, and the words "Bump City" are interjected into the lyrics. Rick Stevens handles the lead vocal, as Lenny Williams had not yet joined the band at the time.

The YouTube video above has a 1976 live version, with a different lineup of the band.

Joe Simon - "Misty Blue" Misty Blue (Original) - Joe Simon Selected Hits Vol. 1

(Debuted #95, Peaked #91, 5 Weeks on chart)

"Misty Blue" is best-known for its version by Dorothy Moore, but it was written a decade earlier as a country song. Originally meant for Brenda Lee, she turned it down and it was recorded both by Wilma Burgess and Eddy Arnold in 1966. Joe Simon was the first R&B artist to chart with it.

Simon was noted as a "country soul" performer early in his career, so the tune was well-suited to his talent. However, the rendition Dorothy Moore turned in four years later made many forget his own, even though he was the artists who likely laid the groundwork for her single.

Sammy Davis Jr. with the Mike Curb Congregation - "The People Tree" The People Tree - Mr. Bojangles

(Debuted #96, Peaked #92, 5 Weeks on chart)

Sammy Davis, Jr. received a great deal of flak for his version of "The Candy Man." It was the biggest hit of his career, took him to #1 on the pop chart and reiterated his position as one of the most popular entertainers. However, the song was foisted on him by his record company (MGM) and its head Mike Curb and Davis had to grudgingly accept the fact that the song would become a signature tune.

As a result of the goodwill (and the river of cash that flowed in) because of that song, MGM brought in "Candy Man" songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for his next album Portrait of Sammy Davis, Jr. and had The Mike Curb Congregation provide the backing vocals as they had for the hit song. The followup single was "The People Tree," a song about brotherhood that sounded a lot like "The Candy Man" did.

Fortunately for those who felt "The Candy Man" was a waste of Davis's incredible talent, the followup stiffed and he wasn't forced to bring out retreads of the song by his label anymore.

The Raiders - "Song Seller" Song Seller - The Legend of Paul Revere

(Debuted #98, Peaked #96, 3 Weeks on chart)

"Song Seller" was another try at sustaining the momentum The Raiders picked up from "Indian Reservation." Rather than appealing to DJs as other groups might have, they directly asked their A&R people "can you help me get this record played?" Ironically, their own record company's song sellers didn't promote the band as much as they did acts like The Blue Oyster Cult and Aerosmith and the song never managed to get out of the lower reaches of the pop chart.

There were changes on the horizon for The Raiders. Guitarist Freddy Weller, who'd been recording country music as a solo artist, and drummer Mike Smith left the band for the second time. Before long, the group was being relegated to the "oldies circuit" that eventually led to singer Mark Lindsay's departure. Later, Lindsay became something of a "song seller" himself, working as an executive for the United Artists record label.

Dennis Yost and the Classics IV - "What Am I Crying For" What Am I Crying For - A New Horizon

(Debuted #99, Peaked #39, 13 Weeks on chart)

"What Am I Crying For" was the last of the Top 40 hits by The Classics IV, after a string of hits in the late 1960s. This time around, Dennis Yost had been given top billing, which often portends that the cohesive group concept was falling apart. Soon afterward, the group soon splintered, with several members forming The Atlanta Rhythm Section in 1974 even as Yost was still touring under the band's name with different musicians.

Yost had been called the originator of the "Southern Soft Rock" sound because of the way he used emotion in his voice as he sang. This quality can clearly be heard in "What Am I Crying For." Sadly, Yost passed away in 2008 from respiratory failure, two years after sustaining brain trauma during a fall down a flight of stairs.

The Supremes - "I Guess I'll Miss The Man" I Guess I'll Miss the Man - The Supremes: The '70s Anthology

(Debuted #100, Peaked #85, 7 Weeks on chart)

"I Guess I'll Miss the Man" was a song from the show Pippin, which also produced the Jackson 5 single "Corner of the Sky." With Jean Terrell taking the lead duties, it was done in a style that would be more understated even while it sounded like it could have been a great version if Diana Ross was still with the group. However, like much of Terrell's material with the group, it was overlooked despite its inner beauty and the song wasn't much of a hit on the pop chart. It was a modest adult contemporary hit ( reaching #17) and didn't chart at all on the R&B survey.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This Week's Review -- October 12, 1974

There were a lucky 13 singles making their debut in the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Seven of them made their way into the Top 40, with one that rose all the way to #1. That chart-topper was one of those songs from the 1970s that tends to be polarizing, a song that is pointed out as an example by those who both love and hate the era's music. Once again, the songs here draw from several different influences, which might come as a surprise to those who like to ridicule the era's music. Several songs have soul and funk roots, some are rock-derived. Two songs are really interesting: one is a song about alcoholism that was penned by Gil Scot-Heron and another is a Paul Davis tale of a rodeo cowboy who's too proud to see that he's past his prime.

Google Books has a large archive of past Billboard issues, including the October 12, 1974 edition. The full Hot 100 list can be found on Page 52. There is a large section of the issue devoted to U.K.-based producer Mickie Most to celebrate his 10th anniversary as a record label head. An article beginning on Page 3 explains that several record executives were concerned over battles between different versions of the same song impacting sales. That's interesting, since that had been an issue they had been fighting for decades before 1974. A review of Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album on Page 50 has the following warning for retailers: "Be careful on in-store play." You think?

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The Hues Corporation "Rockin' Soul" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #63, Peaked #18, 12 Weeks on chart)

Not feeling any need to (ahem) rock the boat, The Hues Corporation followed up their #1 smash with a song that wasn't too far removed from it stylistically. "Rockin' Soul" was the lead single from the group's first LP after their out-of-left field hit. While it was likely meant to capitalize on the success of "Rock the Boat," it reached #18 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B chart. Those were respectable numbers but not as great as expected.

As a result, the band had no further hit singles except for one last low-charting song called "I Caught Your Act" in 1977. By then, the group that was credited for one of the earliest disco hits had long been surpassed by the same acts for which they'd opened the door.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - "Battle of New Orleans" Battle of New Orleans - Stars & Stripes Forever

(Debuted #78, Peaked #72, 4 Weeks on chart)

"The Battle of New Orleans" is probably best-known as a song that Johnny Horton took to #1 in 1959, but the song was around for several years before that. The words had been written by Jimmie Driftwood in the 1940s. He was a teacher who used music to get his students interested in history. He took a traditional fiddle tune called "The 8th of January" (the date of the battle) and wrote lyrics around them.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's version was a slowed-down rendition, done in a more subdued style than the boisterous nature of Horton's hit. The military-style drums and cadences are gone, replaced by bagpipes at the fade. It was a cut from the LP Stars & Stripes Forever, which delved pretty deeply into Americana and ended up being the band's highest-charting album.

George McCrae - "I Get Lifted" I Get Lifted - Rock You Baby

(Debuted #80, Peaked #37, 9 Weeks on chart)

As JB said in the blog The Hits Just Keep On Comin', "I Get Lifted" prevented George and Gwen McCrae from earning the title of husband-and-wife One Hit Wonders. That's if you take only the Top 40 into account, though, George McCrae racked up three other chart singles that failed to get beyond #50.

If this song sounds a lot like some of the early work of KC & the Sunshine Band, there's good reason. Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch both lent their talents behind the console on this song, just as they did for much of McCrae's work for T.K. Records. In fact, the breathing you hear at various parts of the song sound like they were the inspiration of the "uh huh, uh-huh" refrain in "That's the Way (I Like It)" from the following year.

It's an entirely different vibe than "Rock Your Baby" gave off, but one that deserves a listen.

Fancy - "Touch Me" Touch Me - Wild Thing / Turns You On

(Debuted #87, Peaked #19, 10 Weeks on chart)

I discovered this song on an old K-Tel record the older sister of one of my friends gave me. I was a teenager at the time, and its lack of any subtlety certainly made an immediate impact on me. The record didn't come with any pictures of the band and it would be years before I ever saw one, but at that time it seemed that any woman who could purr like that would get my attention, regardless of what she looked like.

Fancy was set up as a one-off studio group by British producer Mike Hurst, but their debut single "Wild Thing" was such a big hit that the arrangement was made more permanent. However, the vocalist from that single (former Penthouse pet Helen Caunt) was replaced for the group's debut album by Annie Kavanaugh, who handles the lead on "Touch Me." Kavanaugh was able to replicate the sultry style of the earlier hit over the guitar breaks in the background, but the sound was likely seen as an effort to strike while the iron was hot and ended up being the last chart single for the group.

Paper Lace - "The Black-Eyed Boys" The Black-Eyed Boys - Their Very Best - EP

(Debuted #,88 Peaked #41, 9 Weeks on chart)

Paper Lace's followup to "The Night Chicago Died" was a song that went in a different direction from the period pieces their first two chart singles offered. It was a fun song about a motorcycle gang that was also a band. It will definitely sound different to those who might peg the group by their #1 hit, but "The Black-Eyed Boys" is a fun song that sounds like it was written to be sung in a pub somewhere in England.

It just missed the Top 40. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be their final hit in the U.S.

Steely Dan - "Pretzel Logic" Pretzel Logic - Pretzel Logic (Reissue)

(Debuted #89, Peaked #57, 5 Weeks on chart)

At the time Steely Dan released its third LP Pretzel Logic, it was still a band in nature rather than a studio comglomeration. The album was a lot more complex than their previous ones were, which pointed to the group's future direction. It would be considered one of their best recordings.

The album's title track is a mix of random images, with a verse that expressed the desire to travel with a minstrel tour around the South, another that mentioned meeting Napoleon and one that had somebody making fun of a pair of shoes. Interviews with Donald Fagen have revealed that he was thinking of time travel when he wrote the song, but the minstrel shows fly in the face of his well-known distaste of touring and the style critique could have been applied to 1970s fashion in general. In this case, it's likely better to pay more attention to the groove than the lyrics.

Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan - "You Got the Love" You Got the Love - Rags to Rufus (feat. Chaka Khan)

(Debuted #90, Peaked #11, 16 Weeks on chart)

On the heels of "Tell Me Something Good," Rufus followed it with "You Got the Love," which proved the initial hit was no fluke. A song with a funk undercurrent and a memorable turn by singer Chaka Khan, "You Got the Love" would reach #1 on the R&B chart and peak just outside the pop Top 10.

"You Got the Love" was co-written by Chaka Khan and Ray Parker, Jr. It begins with a guitar line that sounds like it could have been Parker's, but the liner notes credit Al Ciner for the licks. The song was the first to credit the group as "Rufus featuring Chaka Khan" rather than simply as Rufus, in order to recognize the increased attention her vocals brought the group since joining in 1972.

The New Birth - "I Wash My Hands Of The Whole Damn Deal (Part 1)" I Wash My Hands of the Whole Damn Deal, Pt. 1 - The Very Best of The New Birth

(Debuted #91, Peaked #88, 3 Weeks on chart)

The New Birth was originally founded by producer Harvey Fuqua as a vocal complement to
 his instrumental band The Nite-Liters. Eventually, the two bands merged, along with the group Love, Peace & Happiness to form a new group, which took The New Birth's name.

"I Wash My Hands of the Whole Damn Deal" featured a kicking guitar line, solid brass section and a funky bass line, but its title would soon prove proficient when the group broke with Fuqua in 1975. Though they would have a quick rebound with "Dream Merchant" the next year, the band was heading toward its ultimate fate.

Gladys Knight and the Pips - "I Feel a Song (In My Heart)" I Feel a Song (In My Heart) - Love Finds Its Own Way - The Best of Gladys Knight & The Pips

(Debuted #92, Peaked #21, 17 Weeks on chart)

Before getting into this song, let me point out something in the YouTube video above. While it's not uncommon for a video to be playing a record as it spins on the turntable, not every video has a cat hanging around and watching it spin.

"I Feel a Song (In My Heart)" was the first cut and title song for the third LP Gladys Knight & the Pips recorded for the Buddah  label. Co-written by producer Tony Camillo, the song had originally appeared in 1971 from Sandra Richardson, and was a B-side for The Persuaders the next year. Starting off sounding it was part of a film soundtrack, Knights vocal sets the pace early and the Pips soon jump in to back her up.

The song only reached #21 on the pop chart, but would hit the #1 position on the R&B survey.

Brother To Brother - "In The Bottle" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #93, Peaked #46, 7 Weeks on chart)

Gil Scot-Heron passed away earlier this year. While he was definitely an acquired taste musically, he had no trouble with vocalizing what he felt needed to be said. In that sense, he was an American original. One of the songs he wrote was "In the Bottle," a song about alcoholism and how it doesn't discriminate against anybody.

Scot-Heron wasn't a member of Brother To Brother, though. Michael Burton of St. Louis founded the group with a trio of studio musicians. "In the Bottle" would be their only listing on the pop chart and the first of three hits on the R&B survey.  It missed the pop Top 40 but reached #9 R&B. Using a flute as the main instrument in the song, the group did a great job on the song and deserved a better chance than the one it received.

Carl Douglas - "Kung Fu Fighting" Kung Fu Fighting - The Soul of the Kung Fu Fighter

(Debuted #94, Peaked #1, 18 Weeks on chart)

A blog that focuses on the music of the 1970s is going to hit some of the more polarizing singles of the decade eventually, and this is definitely one of those.

This song is pretty well-known. In fact, it's one of those songs that is held up by those who love 1970s music as an example, and pointed out by just as many who don't. There was an interest in martial arts during the decade, fueled by Bruce Lee movies and the TV show Kung Fu, so it was only a matter of time before somebody came up with a song that had people dancing around like they are in the video above, where there are two guys in the back who appear to be making moves on each other. Viewed through that prism, the song can be seen as a novelty; however, the song's ascension to the #1 position made it a part of the 1970s culture, for better or worse.

Not surprisingly, it started out as a B-side. Carl Douglas was hired by U.K.-based producer Biddu to sing a song called "I Want to Give You My Everything" and Douglas offered the song as a quick thing that would fill out the other side of the single. It was recorded in the last ten minutes before the session was over. The record company felt it was a better song and released it as a single with an entirely different song on the flip side.

Needless to say, "Kung Fu Fighting" has overshadowed everything else Carl Douglas has recorded. The Jamaica-born, U.K.-reared singer only had one more chart single in the States. Not surprisingly, it was a different take on his big hit, but listeners declined his call to "Dance the Kung Fu."

Sammy Johns - "Early Morning Love" Early Morning Love - Sammy Johns

(Debuted #95, Peaked #68, 8 Weeks on chart)

For those of you who've been told that the music of years past was somehow more "pure" than the ones that play on the morning today, I present this song, which is about a man asking for sex when he wakes up in the morning. In a way, the song exemplifies that way a guy can get a girl simply by being able to play a guitar, but this song certainly doesn't skirt the issue of why he's playing it.

"Early Morning Love" was Sammy Johns' first chart single. At the time, he was a singer/songwriter based out of Atlanta. It didn't end up giving him much exposure, but the followup "Chevy Van" certainly did. The success was short and Sammy eventually moved on to writing material for soundtracks and other artists, notably in the country genre. His later hits included John Conlee's "Common Man" and Waylon Jennings' "America."

Paul Davis - "Ride 'em Cowboy" Ride 'em Cowboy - Paul Davis: Greatest Hits

(Debuted #98, Peaked #23, 18 Weeks on chart)

Former major league pitcher Jim Bouton said in his book Ball Four that he had spent so much time gripping the ball that he never realized until it was too late that it was actually the other way around. That is something that happens in a lot of areas in life, and "Ride 'em Cowboy" switches that to the rodeo circuit. The story in the song has an experienced cowboy who's well past his prime but still trying to keep up with the youngsters. He's feeling the pains that come with his age, the ladies are no longer paying attention to him and he's getting fewer chances to show he can still ride. The effect of age isn't only affecting him, either; even the one horse who was once too wild for him to break is blind and giving rides to the kids.

I've often claimed that Paul Davis was horribly underappreciated, a fact that hasn't gotten any better now that he's passed away. The Mississippi native drew from a lot of diverse influences in his songs, and "Ride 'em Cowboy" is definitely from the country side he'd explore deeper later in his career. Needless to say, I recommend taking a listen if you're not familiar with the song.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

This Week's Review -- October 9, 1976

This week's list of first-week hits on the Billboard Hot 100 includes seven singles. There was quite a potent mix of hit material, as four of the songs went into the Top 40 and three of those reached the Top 10. The Top 10 singles were served up by a solo debut by the former lead singer of The Guess Who, a Texas duo who were an "overnight sensation" twelve years in the making and a family act originally from Memphis. One hit started out as a commercial. Even the three songs that missed the Top 40 are worth hearing. One was a big country hit that helped introduce listeners to the original version, one was another family act that was about to get a big hit on their own, and the other was a Gladys Knight performance that really deserves more attention than it received.

Among the archive of Billboard issues over at Google Books is the October 9, 1976 edition. The full Hot 100 list can be found on Page 68. An article on Page 20 tells of an effort by promoter Sid Bernstein to publicly encourage the four ex-Beatles to reunite for one concert, as a way of raising funds for charity. Bernstein was figuring the event could raise over $100 million. Page 40 has an article about the "controversy" over Bobby Bare's "Dropkick Me Jesus," which was being released as a single. Anybody who's actually listened to the song without being offended about a perceived blasphemy would have known it was a straight song asking for divine guidance, but I digress...

Burton Cummings - "Stand Tall" Stand Tall - Burton Cummings

(Debuted #74, Peaked #10, 21 Weeks on chart)

Burton Cummings left The Guess Who in 1975 to embark on a solo career, and his first solo hit was perhaps his finest moment away from the group. "Stand Tall" was a million-seller that went into the Top 10 in America and Burton's native Canada. While Cummings went on to score more hits in both countries, "Stand Tall" was the one that reached the highest peaks.

By the time he wrote the song, Cummings had moved to California and that seems to have influenced his writing style for the song. It's hard to imagine his former group trying to lay the song down. Yes, there was enough bombast in the music, but this was ultimately Cummings' chance to shine. That's a perfect way to start a solo career.

England Dan & John Ford Coley - "Nights Are Forever Without You" Nights Are Forever Without You - Nights Are Forever

(Debuted #76, Peaked #10, 16 Weeks on chart)

It can be said that England Dan and John Ford Coley were at their peak in 1976. After a decade of trying to make it in the music business and releasing three well-recieved but non-charting LPs for A&M, they switched to Big Tree and hit in big with their Nights Are Forever album.

"Nights Are Forever Without You" was the duo's second Top 10 hit. It was written by Parker McGee, who also wrote the first hit "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight." It has a similar vibe as the earlier hit and set the template for many of their futue hits. That's not to say it's not a good tune, but sticking to a similar style for too many singles might make listeners feel they've already heard that song before.

The Sylvers - "Hot Line" Hot Line - Classic Masters

(Debuted #86, Peaked #5, 24 Weeks on chart)

There are several songs throughout the years that use the telephone as a metaphor, but "Hot Line" is more of a song that uses it as a device. It combined with their next hit "High School Dance" to give the family act a firm entrechment in the teen-oriented "bubblegum" sound, a nice way to sell records at the time but would prove tough to break out of later.

The Sylvers continued their association with producer Freddie Perren, who wrote their 1976 #1 hit "Boogie Fever" (and "Hot Line" as well). As one of the hottest producers of the day, that association proved to be a great boost. Since Perren had already worked with The Jackson 5, he was quite in touch with getting great things out of a family combo. "Hot Line" led off the groups Showcase album and was a Top 5 pop and R&B hit.

One thing in the video above: the "performance" of "Hot Line" is taken from two different shows. In the first, there are seven members, where there are eight siblings in the later frames. That's because oldest sister Olympia left the group around this time to start a family.

Gladys Knight and the Pips - "So Sad the Song" So Sad The Song - So Sad The Song

(Debuted #89, Peaked #47, 8 Weeks on chart)

Gladys Knight has one of the best voices of the 1970s, and "So Sad the Song" helps explain why. It's a "fork in the road" song that says it's time to bid farewell to a romance. In fact, the final line of the song sums it up nicely..."So sad the song that says goodbye." It's not a song that has gotten much attention from other artists, which might be an indication of how well Knight nailed it in her rendition. It's a shame the song was overlooked both in its chart run and in the years since.

In "So Sad the Song," the Pips are mixed so far into the background that they're barely perceptible until the end. It's an unusual move for a backing trio that is so integral for Knight's performance; with this song, however, it's somehow appropriate.

David Dundas - "Jeans On" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #90, Peaked #17, 21 Weeks on chart)

If this song sounds like it should be a commercial, there's a good reason. David Dundas originally wrote it as a television jingle for Brutus jeans. When it proved to be catchy, the song was re-recorded as a single-length tune. Due to the BBC's restriction on commercial lyrics, the line "I pull my Brutus jeans on" became "I pull my old blue jeans on." The change helped the song reach #3 on the U.K.'s chart. In the U.S., the commercial wasn't already ingrained in the heads of listeners. As a result, its American success was more limited but still reached a respectable #17. It would also reach #3 in South Africa and top the charts in West Germany.

Dundas had another hit in his homeland, but is a true One-Hit Wonder in the States. He moved on to scoring television and film projects.

The Emotions - "Flowers" Flowers - Love Songs

(Debuted #93, Peaked #87, 4 Weeks on chart)

While "Best of My Love" was a monster hit, it's worth giving a spin to the two songs that preceded it into the Hot 100. In late 1976 and early '77, both sides of a single charted together and separately if three different runs up the chart. One side, "Don't Want to Lose Your Love" would show up a month later, and would pop up again early the next year listed with the original A-Side, "Flowers." The songs deserved their extra chances but none would rise higher than #51.

"Flowers" was the group's first collaboration with Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White. He co-wrote the song with EW&F bandmate Al McKay, and brother Verdine provides the fluid bass line that sets the time as the three Hutchinson sisters sing like angels. Though the song is slower, the harmonies point the way to the style they would use to punctuate "Best of My Love" a year later.

Waylon Jennings - "Can't You See" Can't You See - Are You Ready for the Country

(Debuted #97, Peaked #97, 1 Week on chart)

"Can't You See" was a remake of a song by The Marshall Tucker Band. To some listeners, it appeared that Waylon Jennings' version came first by virtue of being a hit single earlier, but it was on The Marshall Tucker Band's first LP in 1973. Written by that group's singer/guitarist Toy Caldwell, it didn't see a single release by the band until 1977, spurred on by the success of Waylon's take.

A song about the not-so-intoxicating effects of a relationship gone stale and wanting to get away, Waylon's version uses guitars and a piano, leaving out the flute that marked The Marshall Tucker Band's rendition of the song. Despite stalling at #97 in its only week on the pop chart, the song went to #4 on the country chart.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

This Week's Review -- October 1, 1977

This week, this blog has passed the milestone of 1,000 songs reviewed. There were ten new singles on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Of those, four went into the Top 40 and one went all the way to #1. That chart-topper would spend more than 30 weeks on the chart, but interestingly, there were three songs that were gone within two weeks, with another gone the following week. Among the hits was a pure pop confection by Player, a live track by Barry Manilow, an ode to domestic bliss by James Taylor and a formulaic song by England Dan and John Ford Coley. Below the Top 40 this week were songs by a Jazz drummer from New Orleans, a group from the same city, a supergroup who recorded some bigger hits early in the decade, a followup to a #1 hit that was quickly forgotten and a soundtrack song to a forgotten disco film. And then there's a two-minute blast from the past, a 1950s-styled tune that used a guitar hero from that decade.

Google Books has a large archive of past Billboard issues,but the October 1, 1977 edition is missing. Once again, I'll do a quick mention of my other music-related blog, 80s Music Mayhem. Last week's focus was 1980, and three of the five songs I featured there missed the Top 40. Ironically, the one that made it highest up the chart may be the one that's the least familiar. But that's what I do on that blog: I look for great music to feature regardless of how "popular" it may have been then. There's plenty more to read about, check it out each weekday as new entries come up.

Idris Muhammad - "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This (Part 1)" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #80, Peaked #76, 2 Weeks on chart)

The top-debuting song this week didn't stick around for very long. In fact, it rose four places to #76 the next week and then dropped off the chart entirely. That was unusual even in the more volatile chart action early in the 1970s, but by 1977 songs were remaining on the chart longer than at any time in the decade.

Idris Muhammad was born Leo Morris in New Orleans and changed name in 1960s when he converted to Islam. He was a jazz drummer and bandleader, and built quite a studio session for his Turn This Mutha Out LP, which was led off by "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This." Despite the fact that it's a disco-influenced song with its thumping bass and the ever-present clavinet, the improvisational nature of jazz is quite evident here as well. Both Randy and Michael Brecker contribute, as does fusion guitarist Hiram Bullock (who gets in a solo on the record) and future Village People lead singer Ray Simpson helps out on backing vocals.

Barry Manilow - "Daybreak" Daybreak (Live) - Barry Manilow - Live

(Debuted #82, Peaked #23, 10 Weeks on chart)

When I was in college, I did a shift on my campus radio station one semester that ended at 5 in the morning. The station shared a frequency with another that played classical music (which made for an interesting combination), and the last thing I did before leaving the studio was to switch over to the other broadcaster. One night, I decided to end the show by playing the song "Daybreak." Using the studio version on the LP This One's For You, I ended the show and even nailed my backtiming perfectly.

The next day, I stopped at the station's music library and the music director looked at me funny. When I shot him a puzzled look, all he could do was say, "Manilow? Really, man?"

The single version of "Daybreak" was a track from the Barry Manilow Live LP (and not the live show in the video above), which is a more energetic version that captures him interacting with the audience in a way that the original album cut didn't. As a selection that hadn't originally been issued as a single, it was hard to beat "Daybreak" as a promotion for the live album.

The Meters - "Be My Lady" Be My Lady (Single Version) - Funkify Your Life: The Meters Anthology

(Debuted #84, Peaked #78, 2 Weeks on chart)

"Be My Lady" was a second song this week that would disappear quickly after a two-week stay on the Hot 100. Like the Idris Muhammad song mentioned above, it rose in its second week and was then gone. In both cases, neither act would return to the pop chart.

In 1977, The Meters came out with a new album called New Directions, with an arrow painted on the top of an asphalt road on the cover. While that indicated a change in the group's style and overall sound, it ended up being the end of the road for the band. "Be My Lady" would be the final chart single for the New Orleans band before breaking up.

A light song with a funky groove and a brass section, "Be My Lady" has a guitar solo in the instrumental bridge that is accompanied by a George Benson-style "scat." It was an interesting direction the band was heading in (not unlike the one The Isley Brothers would explore in the next decade), so it's a shame the band fell apart when it did.

England Dan and John Ford Coley - "Gone Too Far" Gone Too Far (Single Version) - Dowdy Ferry Road

(Debuted #86, Peaked #23, 14 Weeks on chart)

Before I get into the review of this song, I would be remiss if I missed the chance to point out that the YouTube video above shows a Ronco record playing. For those who grew up in the 1970s, Ronco, K-Tel and to a lesser extent Adam VIII were great ways to get a lot of hits on record cheaply.

"Gone Too Far" is not one of the first tunes that comes to mind when people mention England Dan and John Ford Coley. Despite that fact, it follows the format their other hit singles did: a piano and string-laden opening, Dan Seals's voice (in fact, it sounds a lot like it did in his 80s country hits), overdubbed backing vocals, an ace studio guitarist to highlight th end of certain lines. Needless to say, if you're a fan of teh group, you'll like this song.

At its core, "Gone Too Far" is a song about falling in love without even realizing it. While some might see it as a warning that you'll never know when "The One" pops into your life and can't stop of fate, others may simply dismiss it as 70s-fueled ennui. In any event, it's weird to hear this single on the heels of "It's Sad to Belong," which gave off a completely different vibe altogether.

Robert Gordon with Link Wray - "Red Hot" (Original Not on iTunes)

(Debuted #87, Peaked #83, 3 Weeks on chart)

"Retro" is a tag that applies to something that is new but feels like it should be older.  Today, that can be applied to a song that washes itself in an '80s synth line, or that whistle that seems to pop up in disco music. In the 1970s, the tag would be perfectly applied to "Red Hot," which seemed more like a blast of 1950s rock & roll than anything that Sha Na Na or Flash Cadillac could have laid down.

One way of getting the right sound on the song was the addition of Link Wray, who recorded a groundbreaking guitar song called "Rumble" in 1958. Wray focused on the guitar after catching tuberculosis during his Korea War-era hitch in the Army. He lost a lung and channeled his energies to his instrument. His guitar on "Red Hot" sound like they were borrowed from a 1957-era 45.

It isn't just Wray's fetwork; the piano rocks as hard as if The Killer himself were sitting in the session. For those who say a 1950s-themed song wouldn't be complete without a saxophone solo, one wasn't needed here. Using lingo from the era ("My gal is red hot, your gal ain't doodly squat"), the song was a counterpoint to the sequined jumpsuit-wearing Elvis...whose death just a few weeks before was likely a boost for the song.

Robert Gordon was a rockabilly-influenced singer who had also tried his hand in a punk band before "Red Hot." The fury of punk was something that both helped his delivery of "Red Hot" but also -- ironically -- gave the song some of the attitude of 1950s rock & roll. This wasn't a "safe" sock hop tune, it was a throwback to the time where community leaders thought rockers were little more than juvenile delinquents.

James Taylor - "Your Smiling Face" Your Smiling Face (Live Video) - JT

(Debuted #88, Peaked #20, 17 Weeks on chart)

In 1977, James Taylor left his long-time label Warner Brothers for a long-term deal with Columbia. His first album with the new label was simply called JT and "Your Smiling Face" was the first cut on the record. The album was his best-selling in years.

It's pretty certain the song was written with his then-wife Carly Simon in mind. They were approaching their fifth anniversary at the time and the song expresses his surprise at his domestic bliss. The introspective singer/songwriter vibe of his earlier work had been given more of a pop sheen, and the sparse acoustic accompaniment replaced by a crack studio band. The song is expertly produced, which makes it sound great, but the lyrics send Taylor toward a crooner persona that he didn't have in his early records.

Crosby, Stills and Nash - "Fair Game" Fair Game - CSN

(Debuted #89, Peaked #43, 9 Weeks on chart)

"Fair Game" was the followup to "Just a Song Before I Go," as well as the only 1970s chart single that Crosby, Still & Nash (with or without Neil Young) missed the Top 40 with. As a result, the song gets less exposure than the hits, or even non-single tracks like "Almost Cut My Hair." It was taken from the album CSN, the group's first record of original material in seven years.

Opening with a Spanish-style acoustic guitar intro, "Fair Game" features all the elements you'd expect from the trio: tight vocal harmonies, lyrics that say whatever they feel, Steve Stills' guitar solo, but in the end it really doesn't stand out from their other work, which is likely why it failed to reach the chart positions of their earlier hits.

Player - "Baby Come Back" Baby Come Back - The Best of Player - Baby Come Back

(Debuted #90, Peaked #1, 32 Weeks on chart)

In the early days of this blog (which was nearly three years ago), I had intended to do a series of posts with what I considered to be great songs from the 1970s. Eventually, I hit on the idea of reviewing singles and the other plans simply fell by the wayside. "Baby Come Back" was the fourth song in that feature.

Here's what I wrote about it back then:

It may have been inevitable for Player to come up with one great hit. As a band of L.A. studio musicians, they were in an ideal place to hone their craft at a time when the music business was reaching a commercial peak. They were signed to RSO records at precisely the same time as the label was mining platinum with The Bee Gees and Andy Gibb, not to mention the phenomenal success of the Saturday Night Fever and Grease soundtracks. Not only that, but Player released a single that sounded a lot like a Hall & Oates single just as that duo was getting hot. The stars were perfectly aligned for them in late 1977, and "Baby Come Back was at #1 on Billboard's chart early in 1978.

Speaking of RSO records, they set an amazing record while "Baby Come Back" was charting: Between the week that Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life" fell out of the top slot in December '77 and late May '78 when Wings took "With a Little Luck" to #1, an RSO single held down the pole position every week. Six singles -- four from Saturday Night Fever -- over 21 weeks is a legendary achievement. For a list of every #1 single of the 1970s, check out my site.

"Baby Come Back" is a finely crafted pop tune. Opening with a bass and drum intro that sets up a great reverberated guitar line, the song leads up to a familiar pop topic: boy loses girl (by being "wrong") and misses her greatly. In fact, no matter how much he tries to get over her or puts up a front, she's still emblazoned in his mind. Yes, the same theme has been a thread running through countless pop songs from Elvis to 1990s Boy Bands, but Player did it in a way that made you sing along.

In a nutshell, it may be one of the best pure pop songs of the decade.

Johnnie Taylor - "Disco 9000" Disco 9000 - Rated X-Traordinaire - The Best of Johnnie Taylor

(Debuted #94, Peaked #86, 2 Weeks on chart)

Disco 9000 was a "blaxploitation" film from 1976, and Johnnie Taylor played a small part in the movie. He also did the soundtrack music. After his successful tenure at Stax ended when the label folded, Taylor was one of the many artists to embrace the disco sound that was burgeoning at the time. Immediately, he notched his biggest hit with "Disco Lady," which likely helped him get the Disco 9000 movie score.

The song "Disco 9000" wasn't awful, but might not have been the right song to anchor to a movie. For instance, there was another movie set to come out that centered around a group of kids who go to a disco on the weekends in Brooklyn that would notch the biggest soundtrack in history. While it may not be fair to compare Disco 9000 with Saturday Night Fever, it's worth pointing out that a song like "Stayin' Alive" still brings up visions of John Travolta walking with the paint can. There are no images associated with the song "Disco 9000."

Alan O'Day - "Started Out Dancing, Ended Up Making Love" (Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted #95, Peaked #73, 6 Weeks on chart)

The followup to "Undercover Angel" didn't have the same polarizing effect as its predecessor. In fact, few even realized it was around and it died a quick death on the chart. The title is pretty straightforward, but it begs the question: isn't that why a lot people went to discos in the first place?

Before becoming known as a One-Hit Wonder, Alan O'Day was a songwriter who penned hits such as Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby," Bobby Sherman's "The Drum," Cher's "Train of Thought" and The Righteous Brothers' "Rock and Roll Heaven." After venturing into his own singing career, O'Day seems to have given up on pop music after his big hit faded from view. He left Warner Brothers in 1982 and ventured into television. During the 1980s he wrote music for the show Muppet Babies and has continued making music for kid-focused projects.