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BIG Jay's BIG Week In Pop Music History

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January 16th, 2015


THE

BIG

SINGLES

For the

Chart-Week ENDING

January 23, 1965


HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

THIS WEEK IN ‘65:

 

No. 5 (LW 1) “COME SEE ABOUT ME”

The Supremes MOTOWN1068

No. 4 (LW 2) “I FEEL FINE”

The Beatles CAPITOL5327

No. 3 (LW 3) “LOVE POTION NUMBER 9”  

The Searchers KAPP27

No. 2 (LW 5) “YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVIN’ FEELING” 

The Righteous Brothers PHILLES124

 

No.1

Pop

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 4)

 

“DOWNTOWN”

Petula Clark

WARNER BROTHERS RECORDS5494

 

The No. 1 song this week on the Hot 100 Singles chart potentially could have been called “Mid-Town.” Here’s why. Composer/producer/orchestra-leader Tony Hatch was in New York City and thought that Broadway (in Times Square where he was walking) was ‘downtown’ in Manhattan, and (as he claims) the song just came to him. In the U.K., the word downtown means the poor-side-of-town, but Hatch adapted it to depict mid-town Manhattan in its entire lit-up splendor as a metaphor for being all alone. Petula Clark says the song has a tinge of melancholy in the lyrics, as the person in the song is only “downtown” for a short time, and must return to her normal life soon thereafter. The single was in its first of two weeks at the top of the Hot 100 chart during this survey-phase in ’65.

Hatch had already worked with Clark for a short time, and was approached to produce Petula Clark’s next session by her usual producer. Tony ended up putting together the song of her (and his) career, “Downtown.” Clark had been doing mostly French and Italian songs in those languages, and had to be convinced to sing in English—even though she was from the British Isles! Her thinking was she was doing just fine with the other languages for her singing career on the continent. Tony Hatch hadn’t completed the song when Petula picked it to record after he played her the melody in her Paris home. Hatch hastily finished it up just before the recording session was scheduled in the fall of ’64. He had intended “Downtown” for the American R&B group the Drifters, but when Clark pushed to put it on tape, that idea was squelched. Petula was already a star in Europe, and had been a child radio and recording star in her native Wales; morphing easily into early television in the late ‘40s. When “Downtown” broke wide-open in the states, Clark was already 32 years-old; a good ten-years older than most of the British Invasion acts coming to America. The producers of New York-based The Ed Sullivan Show desperately wanted her on the program, but Petula was on tour just as the song was nearing No. 1 in the U.S. She finally showed up on the “really big shoe” to promote the song that was already in the top spot in America. One of the musicians on this ‘middle-of-the-road’ recorded track was Jimmy Page; later know as the guitar wizard of rock legends Led Zeppelin. Clark was the first British performer to win a Grammy® with this cut for Best Rock & Roll Recording; which is almost laughable by what truly is Rock & Roll in hindsight. “Downtown” is also in the Grammy® Hall of Fame. The 82 year-old Petula Sally Olwen Clark is still performing.

 

POP STANDARD SINGLES CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘65

No.1

POP STANDARD

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 2)


“WILLOW WEEP FOR ME”

Chad & Jeremy

WORLD ARTISTS RECORDS – 1034

Chad & Jeremy had the biggest hit of the week on the Pop Standards Singles chart in ’65 with a remake of a 1932 song, “Willow Weep For Me” on World Artists Records. Chad Stewart and Jeremy Clyde took a then almost 33 year-old song and modernized the often-recorded ditty. Chad & Jeremy (real names David Stewart Chadwick and Michael Thomas Jeremy Clyde) were a duo from England, often derided because they had a similar sound to another English duo Peter & Gordon. But Chad & Jeremy had seven Top 40 hits over the course of two years in the U.S., including: “Yesterday’s Gone” (No. 21 in America but their ONLY hit—a minor one at that—in their native Britain) “A Summer Song,” (No. 7) “If I Loved You,” (No. 23) “Before And After,” (No. 17) and two others. Chad & Jeremy made guest appearances on mid-‘60s sit-coms The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Patty Duke Show; in addition to playing themselves on two episodes of the campy 1966 TV program Batman. They were also being groomed for a spin-off of the hit TV comedy/western show Laredo, but after that guest shot, it never materialized. Here’s this week’s No. 1 Pop Standards Singles chart song (No. 15 on the Hot 100) “Willow Weep For Me,” and you’ll notice that UNLIKE Peter & Gordon, Chad & Jeremy usually didn’t harmonize, especially on this song. The tune was on top of this chart for just one week. 

This song almost never saw the light of day. “Willow Weep For Me” was written by Ann Ronnel (real name Ann Rosenblatt) after she supposedly fondly remembered a willow tree on the campus of Radcliffe College, a women’s college in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But here’s where the story of the original song gets juicy. There are some reports that claim she was originally turned down in getting the song published—some claim it was because it was written by a female and that it was, “Too complex” for a woman to have composed it. Other accounts say she didn’t write it at all, as it was published by George Gershwin, and written as a gift to her, as they were allegedly romantically entangled at the time. Another source says Gershwin published the song only because Ronell had been turned down by other music publishing houses. Another thing against it becoming published at all was the fact that Ronell dedicated it TO Gershwin—a no-no at the time on Tin Pan Alley. Whatever version is accurate, there’s no doubt that it was a hit song for the ages. But it actually took time to be considered a standard. The first revival of the song happened in 1950 when Stan Kenton recorded it. Frank Sinatra did a rendition, as did several other artists; including Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery who won a Grammy® in 1969 for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Small Group. Ronell WAS an accomplished songwriter, who later co-wrote other memorable songs like: “Baby’s Birthday Party,” “Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf” for Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs, and “Rain On The Roof” from 1931 (not to be confused with the Lovin’ Spoonful song of the same name in the ‘60s) along with scores for later Broadway musicals and Hollywood films.

 

**NOTE:

There was no HOT R&B SIDES Chart this week in ‘65, as Billboard Magazine stopped reporting this listing from November of ’63 through January of ’65. In its place, I have chosen the Cashbox Magazine R&B Singles chart to portray the biggest R&B single this week in ’65. This was the FINAL week that Billboard did not report a separate R&B Singles listing.

 

CASHBOX

R&B SINGLES CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘65

No.1

CASHBOX R&B

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)


“HOLD WHAT YOU’VE GOT”

Joe Tex

DIAL RECORDS – 4001

This was the last week that Billboard didn’t report different Pop and R&B singles listings. They had ended the practice in late 1963, believing that so many R&B records were blending into the mainstream; they didn’t NEED a separate chart. But, market demands made the magazine editors and publishers change their minds. So for this final week, the biggest R&B hit on the Cashbox Magazine chart was “Hold What You’ve Got” by Joe Tex. The song did reach No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Tex wrote the song and included “Hold What You’ve Got” on his LP similarly named Hold On To What You’ve Got on Dial Records.

Joe Tex’s real name was Joseph Arrington, Jr., and indeed was from Rogers, Texas; thus the stage name Tex. He first received a recording contract ten years before having this, his first hit song after winning an amateur talent contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1954. The former Gospel singer converted to the Muslim faith and changed his name to Joseph Hazziez shortly after having the biggest hit of his career, “I Gotcha,” a million-selling single that reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 in ’72. His last hit was also sold over one million copies; “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)” his only record on Epic Records. 27 other chart hits were all on the Dial label. Joe Tex died of a heart-attack at age 49 in 1982.  

 

THE

BIG

ALBUMS

 For the

Chart-Week ENDING

January 23, 1965

TOP LPs

CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘65:

No. 1

Pop

LP

(Last Week No. 1)

BEATLES ‘65

The Beatles

CAPITOL RECORDST-2228

This was the third of an ultimate nine weeks as the prime Pop album in America on the Top LPs chart for the Beatles, with Beatles ’65 on Capitol Records. It was another Capitol hatchet job, as eight selections were from the British original album Beatles For Sale. Capitol held back another six tracks so they could make yet another butchered album called Beatles VI, seven months later. “I’ll Be Back” came from the British LP A Hard Day’s Night, with the single “I Feel Fine” backed with “She’s A Woman” included on Beatles ’65 in the midst of a crap-load of reverberation that wasn’t on the original, because Capitol was only given a mono dub to use in America. That blunder made us THINK that was the way George Martin and the Fab Four intended those two tracks to sound. Years later, when we heard the echo/reverb-less tracks of both songs, did we realize we were not only deceived by Capitol in ‘65, but also repulsed by the gimmickry involved in their feeble attempt at making a mono recording sound like stereo in their haste to get Beatles product to market. Regardless, Beatles ’65 was the biggest selling NON-soundtrack album of the year. Three of the tracks could easily have been singles: “No Reply,” “I’m A Loser” and “I’ll Be Back.” I chose this tribute to John Lennon featuring “I’ll Be Back.” It’s a bit eerie, but explains a few things we didn’t know when he was assassinated.

(**WARNING: Some details may NOT be safe for work, or for the squeamish from the Doctor who tried to save his life describing the ordeal.**)

Notably, two songs written by Beatles hero Carl Perkins were included on Beatles ’65. “Honey Don’t” featured Ringo Starr on vocals, and “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby” was sung by George Harrison. I asked Perkins years later how he felt when they included those two songs in their recorded repertoire. Perkins told me, “They helped me pay the mortgage!” Two other non-Lennon/McCartney tracks were included, with “Rock And Roll Music” written and originally recorded in 1957 by Chuck Berry and “Mr. Moonlight” written by Roy Lee Johnson and recorded first by Dr. Feelgood and the Interns (featuring Piano Red a/k/a Willie Lee Perryman) in 1962. The first remake version of that song was from the Liverpool beat-group the Merseybeats a year later; with the Beatles recording the song in October of ’64 and including it on their British LP Beatles For Sale.    

 

**NOTE:

There was no HOT R&B LPs Chart this week in ‘65, as Billboard Magazine did not debut a Rhythm & Blues album listing until the week ending January 30, 1965.  I cannot obtain any other R&B LP listing from any other national source, without spending a near fortune.  If YOU have access to copies of either Cashbox or Record World R&B LP charts (if there were any) from before January of ’65, please get in touch with me at BigJay@BigJaySorensen.com Thanks! And BE BIG!

 

 

THE

BIG

SINGLES

For the

Chart-Week ENDING

January 24, 1976

HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

THIS WEEK IN ‘76:

 

No. 5 (LW 6) “I LOVE MUSIC (Part 1)”

The O’Jays PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL3577

No. 4 (LW 7) “LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY”

Donna Summer OASIS401

No. 3 (LW 4) “LOVE ROLLERCOASTER”  

The Ohio Players MERCURY73734

No. 2 (LW 1) “I WRITE THE SONGS” 

Barry Manilow ARISTA0157

No.1

Pop

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 2)

 

“THEME FROM MAHOGANY

(DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO)”

Diana Ross

MOTOWN RECORDS1377F

 

 

Diana Ross had a spotty stop & go-type of solo singing career during the first few years after she departed the Supremes. But this week in ’76, the DIVA had her third solo No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 Singles chart for just this sole survey-phase with “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” on Motown Records. In Diana’s case, it was either have a No. 1 song, or languish beyond the Top 10 on the Pop chart. This release was from the film Mahogany, starring Ms. Ross with Billy Dee Williams, along with Jean-Pierre Aumont and Anthony Perkins. Berry Gordy, Jr., Motown’s leader, gave songwriter Michael Masser the task of composing music for Diana’s latest vehicle, the film Mahogany; a tale about a fashion creator Tracy Chambers who desired to be a model, willing to ruin her interactions with loved-ones in order to do well. Masser rose to the occasion after watching the film with no audio so he could watch how the characters interacted—and only then was he able to write the music to fit the scenes. In the case of this week’s No. 1 song, Masser was joined by legendary lyricist Gerry Goffin.

During the week “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” was at the pinnacle of the popdom, the Oscar® nominating committee declined to give the song a slot to win the statue for Best Original Song; a slight that was felt through not only Hollywood but the music business upper echelon. After much derision and music industry backlash, the Oscar® folks re-convened and fixed their mistake. The song ended up losing the eventual Academy Award® to Keith Carradine’s song from the film Nashville called “I’m Easy.” But Berry Gordy succeeded in making Diana Ross at least a B actress who was able to sustain her star-status as a singer for over another decade of hit-making even after she left his web.

 EASY LISTENING SINGLES

CHART


THIS WEEK IN ‘76 

No.1

Easy Listening

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“LET IT SHINE / HE AIN’T HEAVY…HE’S MY BROTHER”

Olivia

Newton-John

MCA RECORDS40495

After having five consecutive Top 6 hits, and each a million-selling 45 RPM, Aussie Olivia Newton-John had slipped to No. 13 with a song called “Something Better To Do” on MCA Records. The follow-up to that slightly disappointing single was an even bigger let-down on the Hot 100. “Let It Shine” backed with “He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother” were assigned to share one chart position on the Hot 100 and on the Easy Listening charts; with the two attaining the disappointing No. 30 on the Pop list. But; they did reach No. 1 on the Easy Listening Singles chart for this, the second and concluding week. Originally, “He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother” was considered the A side, but somewhere during its chart-life, the order was reversed with “Let It Shine” being listed first. Perhaps “Let It Shine” was just a little TOO Country for Pop audiences.

The often-recorded song “He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother” made most famous perhaps by the Hollies with their hit version in early 1970 with Reginald Dwight a/k/a Elton John on piano (with another remake that year by Neil Diamond) was sharing the No. 1 slot on the Easy Listening Singles chart this week from Olivia. The song was first recorded by a producer named Kelly Gordon. It was co-written by composer Bobby Scott and Bobby Russell who was dying of cancer when he wrote the lyrics. Here is Olivia on TV’s Midnight Special performing her rendition.

It would take Olivia Newton-John three full years before her star rose again to the levels she originally attained earlier in the ‘70s. That happened with the over two-million-selling single, “You’re The One That I Want” with John Travolta from the film Grease; plus four other million-selling 45 RPM releases. And still, her biggest hit was yet to come in 1981-82 with “Physical” the biggest hit of the entire 1980s.

 

HOT SOUL SINGLES

CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘76

No.1

Soul

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“WAKE UP EVERYBODY

(Part 1)”

Harold Melvin

& the Blue Notes

PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS8-3579

 

The title track “Wake Up Everybody (Part 1)” from the album of the same name, was at the apex of the Hot Soul Singles chart this week in ’76 from Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes on Philadelphia International Records. A trio of songwriters put this warning for people of all races to, “Get their act together.” Those tunesmiths were Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Carstarphen; later a producer, arranger and keyboard player affiliated with the MFSB Orchestra, the musicians backing most of the Philadelphia International stable of vocal performers. Here’s Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes performing on TV’s Soul Train on November 22, 1975.

McFadden and Whitehead had their own African-American anthem of empowerment in 1979 called “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.” Sadly, Whitehead was shot and killed outside of his Philadelphia home while fixing his car. His murder appeared to be a case of mistaken identity (in 2004) but the case has never been solved. And now, back to the music of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff produced “Wake Up Everybody (Part 1)” with Teddy Pendergrass once again at the lead vocal microphone with his gospel-like plea for not only harmony, but to also take responsibility for one’s own actions and, at the same time, to help your neighbors. The entire album track was about 7 ½ minutes long—thus; the “(Part 2)” on the flip side of the single.

 

THE

BIG

ALBUMS

 For the Chart-Week ENDING

January 24, 1976


TOP LPs & TAPE

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘76:


No. 1

Pop

LP

(Last Week No. 1)

GRATITUDE

Earth, Wind & Fire

COLUMBIA RECORDS

33695 & 33696

 

Without a doubt, this band changed the sound of Black Pop music. This week’s top Pop album was a double-album Columbia Records set from Earth, Wind & Fire. The LP Gratitude was in the second of what would become a three-week run at the top of the Pop album chart and also six non-consecutive weeks on the Hot Soul LPs chart; interrupted by the album Wake Up Everybody by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (**see below.) Three of the Gratitude’s four sides were live tracks, with the remaining cuts studio recordings. Two singles were taken from this set; “Can’t Hide Love,” preceded by “Sing A Song” which was a Hot Soul Singles chart No. 1 45 RPM and number five Hot 100 Pop single; peaking on that chart in the first week of February of ’76. “Sing A Song” went on to sell over one million copies by itself. Watch the Soul Train dancers get their groove on with the record.

Gratitude from Earth, Wind & Fire was eventually certified as Triple Platinum by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America.) The ensemble was nominated for a Grammy® Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for the title track from the album, “Gratitude.” In addition, the other standout Earth, Wind & Fire track, “Can't Hide Love” was also Grammy® nominated for Best Arrangement for Voices. “Can’t Hide Love” attained the No. 11 slot at its peak on the Hot Soul Singles register and No. 39 on the Pop single list.

 

HOT SOUL LPs

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘76:

No. 1

Soul

LP

(Last Week No. 1)

WAKE UP EVERYBODY

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL  RECORDS33808

The decision to move Teddy Pendergrass out of the backing band drummers’ seat to the forefront of the vocalist microphone may have been the best decision group founder Harold Melvin ever made. But the LP Wake Up Everybody would be the very last album made by the vocal group with the red-hot Pendergrass in the spotlight before striking out on his own. The album featured “Wake Up Everybody (Parts 1 & 2)” as the initial single (cut down to just “Part 1”—**see above) released in November of ’75, achieving the No. 1 spot on the Hot Soul Singles chart. The next single didn’t fare as well on the Pop side (No. 94 for just a two-week stay on that chart) but did significantly better on the Hot Soul Singles list called “Tell The World How I Feel About ‘Cha Baby.”

The Wake Up Everybody LP was also notable for the inclusion of a future No. 1 Hot 100 hit single by another artist—Thelma Houston—with her interpretation of “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” done equally as passionately by Pendergrass along with the Blue Notes. Houston recorded her major hit adaptation for Tamla (Motown) Records after her producer Hal Davis heard the Blue Notes’ version at a private function. Thelma Houston’s revision sat at the top of the Hot 100 for the week ending on April 23, 1977. Listen to the über-hot Tom Moulton re-mix of the original version by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass.

Group namesake Harold Melvin died in 1997, with Pendergrass passing in 2010.

 

BIG

SINGLES


For the

Chart-Week Ending

January 12, 1981


HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

 

THIS WEEK IN ’81:

 

No. 5 (LW 5) “HUNGRY HEART”

Bruce Springsteen COLUMBIA – 1035

No. 4 (LW 3) “GUILTY”

Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb COLUMBIA – 11390

No. 3 (LW 4 ) “THE TIDE IS HIGH”

Blondie CHRYSALIS – 2465

No. 2 (LW 2) “LOVE ON THE ROCKS”

Neil Diamond CAPITOL – 4939

 

No.1

Pop

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

 

 

“(Just Like) STARTING OVER”

John Lennon 

GEFFEN RECORDS49604

 

This was the last of five straight weeks atop the Hot 100  Singles chart for the 45 RPM Geffen Records release, “(Just Like) Starting Over.” John Lennon had been a ‘house-husband’ for the last five years, but suddenly got the muse to write and record again while on a solo trip to Bermuda. Local boat tours take tourists near the house where John wrote much of his final song material.  The result was the album featuring John along with Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy which featured his first new music in over six years. The words “(Just Like)” were added at the last minute, as Country singer Tammy Wynette had a song released around the same time called “Starting Over.” The track featured John on rhythm guitar, Hugh McCracken and Earl Slick on other guitar work, the drumming of Andy Newmark, percussion from Arthur Jenkins, Tony Levin on bass, George Small on keyboard with various backing vocalists.

(**WARNING! MAY NOT BE SAFE FOR WORK**

Contains nudity and sexual situations.)

When Double Fantasy was first released, the reviews were mixed; but all that changed when John Winston Lennon was murdered in New York City just three weeks after the LP was released. Both the single and LP were number one concurrently on the singles and album charts, with Double Fantasy holding the top spot for eight consecutive weeks. Lennon had been nervous about the release of this new music after being away for so long. Tragically, “(Just Like) Starting Over” was his best-selling solo single. We’ll never know the direction he would have taken for his next projects.

 

HOT ADULT CONTEMPORARY TRACKS

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘81

No.1

ADULT CONTEMPORARY

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT”

Eddie Rabbit

ELEKTRA RECORDS47066

The biggest hit on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks list this week in ’81 was from one-time East Orange, New Jersey resident (Brooklyn-born) Eddie Rabbit with his million-selling country-crossover 45, “I Love A Rainy Night” on Elektra Records. This was his second-consecutive million-selling single in a row. His previous hit “Drivin’ My Life Away” from the movie Roadie (starring Meat Loaf) had reached No. 5 on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1980. Both songs were No. 1 on the U.S. Country Singles chart. Mutually, the songs came from his No. 1 Country LP Horizons. “I Love A Rainy Night” would go on to have a two-survey-period run in the No. 1 position on the Hot 100 Pop listing beginning with the week-ending February, 28, 1981, replacing another Country-crossover, “9 To 5” from Dolly Parton. Her record then climbed back up to No. 1 for yet another week; replacing Rabbit’s biggest hit ever. Here’s Eddie Rabbit performing the tune in concert.

“I Love A Rainy Night” was sitting in the peak position of the Hot Adult Contemporary register for this the second of three-consecutive seven-day survey-phases; thus hitting the apex of three different singles charts. The track harkens back to the ‘60s when a young Eddie Rabbit wrote a snippet of the song during, you guessed it, a rainy night. Re-discovering those few repeated lyrics (“I love a rainy night”) he and songwriters David Malloy and Even Stevens completed the song. Rabbit went on to have several more crossover songs on the Pop, Adult Contemporary and Country music charts through 1991. Edward Thomas Rabbit died of lung cancer on May 7, 1998 at the age of 56. The media was not made aware of his death until after he was buried. A consistent hit-maker with is recordings, he wrote hits including “Kentucky Rain” made into a hit by some guy named Elvis Presley.

 

 

HOT SOUL SINGLES CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘81

No.1

Soul

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“CELEBRATION”

Kool & the Gang

DE-LITE RECORDS807


“Celebration” from Kool & the Gang was in the last of six back-to-back weeks at the zenith of the Hot Soul Singles chart, stretching back to the last two weeks of ’79, extending into the first four survey-periods of the new decade. The DE-LITE Records release was the biggest hit in the band’s lengthy history. Hailing from Jersey City, NJ, Robert “Kool” Bell along with his brother Ronald put together an ensemble of multiple musicians initially called the Jazziacs. They realized their bread and butter was toast unless they morphed into a funk outfit. They did that quite successfully starting in 1969, but truly took off in 1973 with a track called “Funky Stuff” attracting attention of club-goers who were looking for some new dance music. I was performing as a DJ in the clubs at the Jersey Shore and I can attest to the fact that when I played “Funky Stuff” the dance floor was quickly filled. Then came two million-selling singles in a row with “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swingin’” both peaking in early 1974. As the funk trend was winding down, they realized they needed to re-think the sound of the group without compromising musicianship. Enter James “J.T.” Taylor as their new lead singer, after three years of having no hit songs. They struck gold right out of the box with the songs “Ladies Night” and “Too Hot.” But their biggest hit was on their next LP called Celebrate!

“Celebration” was just that—a celebration of fun and good times. Hey, even the Blue-Hairs love the song. What wedding hasn’t featured the song (unless the bride & groom want all Grateful Dead music—which happened to me one time in a rented hall—it’s a long story) that usually fills the dance floor? The group had the unenviable task of trying to follow-up “Celebration” with another single. They didn’t pick the right track, as “Jones Vs. Jones” just managed to sneak into the Pop Top 40 at No. 39. “Celebration” remains the biggest hit of the Kool & the Gang stockpile of music…like it or not. I’m sure when the band splits the songwriting royalty checks 11 ways (along with producer Eumir Deodato) they all like it! The song also reached the pinnacle of the Hot 100 Singles chart for a couple of weeks in the first two weeks of February of ’81.



THE

BIG

ALBUMS


 For the Chart-Week ENDING

January 24, 1981


TOP LPs & TAPE

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘81:

No. 1

Pop

LP

(Last Week No. 1)


DOUBLE FANTASY

John Lennon &

Yoko Ono  

GEFFEN RECORDS2001

 

Producer Jack Douglas couldn’t possibly have conceived that the sessions he recorded at New York’s The Record Plant with John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono would be the former Beatle’s swan songs. The LP was released with great fanfare on November 17, 1980. Lennon was gunned down in the entranceway to his Dakota apartment along Central Park West just weeks later. The shock and grief that millions of people worldwide shared when they heard the news was perhaps as powerful as losing a family loved-one or a leader of a country. Lennon’s journey to this place in his life settled him down after what many have described as his “lost weekend” in the early to mid-‘70s with pals Harry Nilsson and gal-pal May Pang. Lennon made up for lost time with Double Fantasy, sharing tracks with Yoko. The first single wasn’t intended to be the signifying track on the LP, but Lennon surmised that it was his way of saying, “I’m baaackkk.” Lennon’s solo career began with a vengeance in 1969 with the release of “Give Peace A Chance” recorded in a Montreal Hotel room with Yoko in bed with several pals around the room. “Cold Turkey” wasn’t exactly a Pop record you could sing-along with. “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” did that trick, produced by Phil Spector. Other painfully real songs followed, including “Mother,” then “Power To The People” and then his solo magnum opus, “Imagine.” I find it amazing that such an amazingly simple song never sold over one-million copies and landed at No. 3 on the Hot 100. His first No. 1 song was “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” a song he never dreamed would hit the heights. But it was his death that unfortunately gave him another No. 1 tune, although posthumously. “(Just Like) Starting Over” was a tribute to Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly with a little Roy Orbison mixed in for good measure. But it’s the next two songs released as singles that perhaps better defined where John Lennon was in his craft. “Woman” was rush-released as the second single from the LP, for his “other half of the sky.” Here’s a demo for “Woman” that you may have never heard with Lennon mapping out the song with just an acoustic guitar.

The next single, “Watching The Wheels” is perhaps the most fascinating of the three singles from the LP, as it describes to perfectly what he was going through during his down time just living life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIB2nkUfeWw

Other Lennon tracks of note on this album were “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” his lullaby to his son Sean. “I’m Losing You” was another Lennon gem from Double Fantasy. The track that John & Yoko were working on the night he was murdered was her vocal track called “Walking On Thin Ice.” I have my copy of the 12-inch single autographed by Yoko when I met her in 1986. She really is a lovely woman—left of center—but lovely. 

 

HOT SOUL LPs CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ’80:

No.1

R&B

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 2)

HOTTER THAN JULY

Stevie Wonder

TAMLA RECORDST8-373M1

 

Some prominent singers did background vocals on Stevie Wonder’s Hotter Than July; the No. 1 album on the Hot Soul LPs chart this week in 1981 on Tamla Records. Those singers included: Michael Jackson, Angela Winbush, two members of the O’Jays, Eddie Levert and Walter Williams, along with Betty Wright (“The Clean Up Woman”) and Stevie’s former wife Syreeta Wright, wife among others. Hotter Than July was enjoying its 10th of what would become 14 continuous weeks in the pinnacle position of the Hot Soul LPs chart; with the chart-run at the crest ending on Valentine’s Day in 1981! Beside the current single recently in  the No. 1 spot on the Hot Soul Singles listing “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” the album featured the next single, “I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It” that reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 and No. 4 on the Hot Soul Singles listing.

“I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It” featured the backing vocals of two members of the Gap Band, siblings Charlie and Ronnie Wilson. A third single from Hotter Than July was called “Lately”—only getting as high as No. 64 on the Hot 100, and No. 29 on the Hot Soul Singles directory. There was a fourth single from Hotter Than July that never reached the Hot 100, but may have more significance for people; “Happy Birthday” which was a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the beginning of Stevie Wonder touting the fact that the Reverend should have a U.S. National Holiday in his honor. He succeeded, as President Ronald Reagan made Martin Luther King Day a yearly occurrence (signed on November 2, 1983) then on the third Thursday of February each year beginning in 1986. It is NOW celebrated on the third MONDAY of February. “Happy Birthday” was a huge hit in the U.K. of all places. Wonder sang the song at the unveiling of the King Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 2011.

**Special thanks to www.ShopRadioCast.com for supplying the photo of the 45 RPM adapter insert.

(Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net -- '60s 45 record image by dan; '70s headphones/vinyl record image by dan; '80s cassette tape image by graur razvan ionut.)

**All chart information is used by permission of Record Research, Inc., from Publisher Joel Whitburn. The original information comes from Billboard Magazine’s various Hot 100 singles, Top 200 albums, and various R & B charts published by Billboard as compiled by Record Research. www.RecordResearch.com

Copyright 2013-2014 by Big Jay Sorensen, Hosted by STCNtech (stcntech.com)
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