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BIG Jay's BIG Week In Pop Music History

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January 30th, 2015


THE

BIG

SINGLES


For the

 

Chart-Week ENDING

 

February 4, 1967


HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘67:

 

No. 5 (LW 9) “KIND OF A DRAG”

The Buckinghams USA860

No. 4 (LW 2) “TELL IT LIKE IT IS”

Aaron Neville  PAR-LO101

No. 3 (LW 3) “SNOOPY VS. THE RED BARON”  

The Royal Guardsmen LAURIE3366

No. 2 (LW 4) “GEORGY GIRL” 

The Seekers CAPITOL5756

No.1

Pop

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

 

“I’M A BELIEVER”

The Monkees

COLGEMS RECORDS1002

 

The Neil Diamond mini-masterpiece “I’m A Believer” was the second single to top the Pop singles chart for the act the Monkees on Colgems Records. It was still comfortably sitting in the pinnacle position of the Hot 100 Singles chart, for this, the sixth of seven ultimate survey-phases on a national scale. Neil Diamond likely could have retired on the royalties from this song alone. “I’m A Believer” was picked by the production machine that ran The Monkees to be their second single. It ended up not only being the last number one song of 1966 (and for the next six weeks in ’67) but it would be the biggest selling-single of the entire year of ’67. Released on Colgems Records, “I’m A Believer” was yet another track recorded completely by session musicians (L.A.’s so-called “Wrecking Crew”) with only the band members’ voices being used. The lead voice on the single was Mickey Dolenz (one-time morning radio personality on CBS-FM) who also sang lead on their first single, “Last Train To Clarksville.” This new number one song was the feature track on the Monkees’ second LP, More Of The Monkees. That album would top the LP chart for 18 weeks from February through June of ’67 while their debut LP The Monkees was still on top when this new single reached the top of the Hot 100. Here is the slightly sped-up official video of the track “I’m A Believer.” 

The ‘B’ side of that single was actually a decent rock & roll song called “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” written by producers, singers and songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Here’s the Monkees interpretation from More Of The Monkees.

“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” was, in reality, a remake of a Paul Revere & the Raiders album track released in May of 1966. Here is the Paul Revere & the Raiders earlier version of the Monkees hit B side for comparison purposes.

The Monkees version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” is considered one of their best tracks. The Monkees’ adaptation of “I’m A Believer” was produced and arranged by Jeff Barry. In reality, the Pre-Fab Four (as they were known) didn’t play one note on these recordings; but that practice was common during this era, and I believe unfairly used to be derisive to these four fellows. The instrumentation was performed by the so-called “Wrecking Crew”—L.A. studio musicians for-hire. Diamond had initially recommended “I’m A Believer” to the Connecticut group the Fifth Estate as a follow up to their novelty hit “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead.” But unfortunately for them, while laying the track to tape, it remained an album track for that one-hit wonder group. Whoa…your Big Jay comes through with another Record Pig piece of rareness. Here’s the Fifth Estate’s version of “I’m A Believer.”

Diamond did record the song himself. Here’s Neil’s original version of “I’m A Believer.”

Now that you’ve overdosed on both sides of the single, “I’m A Believer” was remade in 2001 by the group Smash Mouth and used in the animated film Shrek—reaching No. 25 on the Hot 100.

 


EASY LISTENING SINGLES CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘67

No.1

POP STANDARD

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 2)

“MY CUP RUNNETH OVER”

Ed Ames


RCA VICTOR RECORDS – 9002 

Actors Mary Martin and Robert Preston starred in the Robert Merrick Broadway production of I Do, I Do in New York City for a year and a half from December, 1966 through June 1968. Both mega-stars had a deal where they were replaced during matinee performances by Carol Lawrence and Gordon McCrea. The music from I Do, I Do was written by Tom Jones…no, not THAT Tom Jones, but a lyricist famous for The Fantasticks and other plays. A composer, Harvey Schmidt, whom he had met while going to the University of Austin (Texas) wrote the music for I Do, I Do and every other show Jones wrote. The standout song from the play was “My Cup Runneth Over” sung by Preston on-stage and for the Broadway soundtrack LP on RCA Victor. But it was another RCA Victor artist who had the hit record with the song. Ed Ames (one of the famous Ames Brothers) who had also previously recorded another Jones/Schmidt song called “Try To Remember” from their Broadway show The Fantasticks, did a cover version of “My Cup Runneth Over” and scored his only Top 10 Hot 100 single (No. 8) and this week’s No. 1 song on the Easy Listening Singles chart. This was the first survey-period of a four-week stay at the peak position of this chart. I Do, I Do was relatively inexpensive to operate, as the entire production took place in a bedroom with the two characters. Robert Preston won a Tony® Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, while Martin was nominated for Actress in the same category. The play was also nominated in several other categories. Here’s a version of “My Cup Runneth Over” performed for a TV special several years later sung by Ames with a full orchestra.

Ames had been trained in classical and operatic music studies at the Boston Latin School in the 1930s. He and three of his brothers formed a quartet, and performed in Massachusetts. They were signed to Decca Records in the late ‘40s, and had success in the early ‘50s with songs like “Rag Mop” and “Sentimental Me.” They switched to RCA Victor in the late ‘50s and continued to have hits like “The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane,” and “You, You, You.” The brothers decided to break up in the early ‘60s, with Ed Ames (real name Edmund Dante Urick) studying acting in New York, and starring in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, as well as The Fantasticks and Carnival. Due to his certain ‘look,’ Ames played a Native-American in the Broadway production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest with Kirk Douglas. Add to that, Ames played another Native-American character named Mingo on the TV show Daniel Boone starring Fess Parker. But it is possible that Ed Ames is BEST known for his tomahawk throwing incident on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. During an appearance at 30 Rock, Ames showed his throwing prowess and hit a drawn target of a cowboy right smack dab in the groin with the handle sticking up; ensuring the audience and Carson to have one of the longest and decadent laughs in TV history. Here is that incident in all of its glory, complete with one of the best knock-it-out-of-the-park punch-lines in history by Carson.  

Ames is still alive at age 87.

 

TOP SELLING R&B SINGLES CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘67

No.1

R&B

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)


“TELL IT LIKE IT IS”

Aaron Neville

PAR-LO RECORDS – 101

At a time when Motown usually ruled the charts or when Stax Records gave them a run for their money and Atlantic Records was at its soul-music zenith, it was a tiny independent record label from New Orleans that had the biggest R&B single of the first six weeks of 1967. It also became a nearly two million-selling Pop single that just missed the top spot on that chart—which caused the company that released it go belly-up because it was TOO big. In 1966, New Orleans journeyman singer Aaron Neville was approached by arranger and writer George Davis, session musician/liquor salesman Alvin “Red” Tyler and a school teacher named Warren Parker, cohorts in a new music production company called Par-Lo Enterprises. Lee Diamond (a friend of Davis) had a title for a song with a hook, “Tell It Like It Is.” Davis concurred, but because Diamond was imprisoned before he could pen lyrics, Davis himself completed the song. Neville recorded the track at J&M studio in New Orleans. This was the last of five back-to-back weeks as the prime 45 RPM on the Top Selling R&B Singles chart. It reached No. 2 on the Hot 100, prevented from the No. 1 spot by “I’m A Believer” from the Monkees. (**See above.)

After it got a local buzz around New Orleans, the recording of “Tell It Like It Is” was taken to New York record companies to shop around. Not one was interested. So, they pressed it themselves only to find that the more they shipped, too many free copies were given away to distributors negating proceeds from sales. Par-Lo hurried an album out in cooperation with Dover Records as the dispenser, but the two companies over-extended themselves, and swiftly went bankrupt with the I.R.S. seizing all. Aaron Neville says he never received the entire royalties due from his first taste of fame, despite the record being a million-selling 45 RPM. A follow-up single called “She Took Me For A Ride” was a total flop reaching the lowly No. 92 on the Hot 100. There was still life in the song “Tell It Like It Is,” as it was re-made into a single from the Canadian-based group Heart in late 1980, and was their biggest hit (No. 8) while they were on Epic Records and their highest charting single (up to that point) since reaching No. 9 with their first Top 10 hit “Magic Man” back in ’76. Here’s the Heart version of “Tell It Like It Is” for comparison purposes.

Aaron Neville would have to wait until 1989 to have another hit song as a duet with Linda Ronstadt called “Don’t Know Much” a Grammy® winning No. 2 million-selling single on the Hot 100. Neville’s New Orleans home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina; forcing him to evacuate to Memphis and then to Nashville for a time. He’s now back in New Orleans. Aaron has been inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame.

 

THE

BIG

ALBUMS


 For the Chart-Week

ENDING

February 4, 1967

 

TOP LPs

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘67:

No. 1

Pop

LP

(Last Week No. 1)


THE MONKEES

The Monkees


 COLGEMS RECORDS101

If you said, “(Theme From) The Monkees” as the answer to the question, “What song was inspired by “Catch Us If You Can” by Dave Clark Five, you’d be correct. When the producers of the upcoming TV series featuring a fictitious group called the Monkees needed a theme song, songwriters Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart and Jack Keller used that DC5 track as a guide. Of course, the Monkees were loosely based on another British group—namely the Beatles and particularly imagining the film, A Hard Day’s Night.  Dave Clark Five’s film from ‘65 Having A Wild Weekend or sometimes known as Catch Us If You Can may have played a minor role. But frankly, the Marx Brothers may have played an even bigger role in the original concept by producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for a musical act being portrayed in a comedy role on TV if you consider the absurdity of the plots. Back to the music of the Monkees and their debut album (which was in last of 13 consecutive weeks as the leading long-player on the Top LPs chart this week in ‘67) certainly took the spotlight away from the Beatles...for a while. When the TV show debuted on September 12, 1966, their first 45 RPM release “Last Train To Clarksville” was already released and hit the Hot 100 for the week ending on September 10th. The song eventually sat in the No. 1 slot on the Hot 100 for just one week, but the mania had already begun. The LP called The Monkees was released in the U.S. and Canada on October 10, 1966. The single “Last Train To Clarksville” was backed with a song called “Take A Giant Step.” That single was the only 45 RPM taken from that debut LP. We’ve all heard “Last Train To Clarksville” featuring Micky Dolenz a thousand times. So, let’s flip it over and play “Take A Giant Step” from the debut album The Monkees! Producers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart got the production nod on the B side of the single as well, but this time they were able to tap into the songwriting pens of Gerry Goffin and Carol King, courtesy of Don Kirshner, the musical leader (but not for long as he’d be gone by February) of the Monkees’ project.

Note the ‘Mr. Clean’ guy doing the Twist in this video. That alone should indicate that THIS song was almost psychedelic in nature; complete with many mind-altering little segments included in the film clip from the show. Another song, “(Theme From) The Monkees” might as well have been a single from this LP, as it was played every week on the TV show, and still remains one of the most recognizable television show themes in the history of the medium. All told, the Monkees had 11 Top 40 hits—make that 12 if you included their 1986 record called “That Was Then, This Is Now” that reached No. 20 during one of their reunions. They also had some clunker singles as well from 1968 through 1970. Actually, it was just TWO Monkees on that ’86 recording; Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork. But lo and behold, on the B side of that ’86 single was the original 1966 recording of “(Theme From) The Monkees.” There were many songs that could have been singles from the Monkees in my estimation, including: “Mary, Mary” “She” and my favorite (a Neil Diamond song) “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) with the lead vocal of Davy Jones. After his death in 2012, Mike Nesmith returned to the ‘group’ for limited touring purposes.

 

TOP SELLING

R&B

 LPs CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘67

No. 1

R&B

LP

(Last Week No. 2)

 

FOUR TOPS LIVE

Four Tops

MOTOWN RECORDS – 654

Four Tops Live was only No. 1 on the Top Selling R&B LPs listing for a sole week during this survey-phase in 1967. The album was notable for being the first released evidence of a future studio album track and B side of one of their future A side singles “7 Rooms Of Gloom” with the track “I’ll Turn To Stone.” In fact, the studio single “7 Rooms Of Gloom” wasn’t released until April of ’67 with “I’ll Turn To Stone (the studio version) on the flip-side, reaching the chart by itself in July of ’67. They had both been recorded in the studio for a future album called Four Tops Reach Out, released in July of ’67. “I’ll Turn To Stone” is one of those songs that absolutely should have been flipped over and made the A side in my estimation. Because I love the record so much, I’m featuring it in its studio form here, just in case you’ve never heard it. Just TRY not to enjoy this Holland-Dozier-Holland (along with R. Dean Taylor) thumper that also featured the backing vocals of the female trio known as the Andantes and the Hitsville, U.S.A. studio cats, the Funk Brothers.

“I’ll Turn To Stone” was one of the eight Holland-Dozier-Holland compositions and productions from Four Tops, including a live version of “You Can’t Hurry Love” made famous by the Supremes in ‘66. The other tracks included schmaltzy Middle-of-the-Road songs and even a show tune thrown in, as Berry Gordy, Jr. thought the group would appeal to adult audiences—both black and white—with the inclusion of those ‘good music’ interpretations in a live setting. The LP Four Tops Live was recorded at what was tagged “The Nightclub of the Young”—the Upper Deck of the Roostertail, a prominent night club in Detroit, Michigan, still open to this day. The album was taped on the opening night of what was called “Motown Mondays” at the club. The long-player itself was released in November of ’66. Press clippings covering that first night claimed before the second show was over, the Everly Brothers, the Supremes and Marvin Gaye got on stage for an unbelievable finish with Four Tops. The upstairs of the main dining room of the building became the Upper Deck at the Roostertail, featuring a dressing room under the stage. The club at 100 Marquette Drive was the idea of twin brothers Tom and Jerry Schoenith. The MC of the show was influential disc jockey-turned record company executive Russ Regan from Detroit radio station WKNR—“Keener Radio.” According to Regan, those ‘Motown Monday’ nights only lasted a month or two, but some incredible talent entertained from that stage. Four Tops included Levi Stubbs, Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Lawrence Payton and Abdul “Duke” Fakir. “Duke” is the only surviving member of the vocal quartet. Four Tops entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 while they were all alive. They also have a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award under their belts.  

 

 

THE

BIG

SINGLES

For the

 

Chart-Week ENDING

 

February 4, 1978


HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

THIS WEEK IN ‘78:

 

No. 5 (LW 10) “(LOVE IS) THICKER THAN WATER”

Andy Gibb RSO883

No. 4 (LW 6) “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS” / “WE WILL ROCK YOU”

Queen ELEKTRA45441

No. 3 (LW 1) “BABY COME BACK”  

Player RSO879

No. 2 (LW 2) “SHORT PEOPLE” 

Randy Newman WARNER BROTHERS8492

No.1

Pop

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 3)

 

“STAYIN’ ALIVE”

Bee Gees

RSO RECORDS885

 

Robert Stigwood, the guy who signed Bee Gees to his label, RSO Records, wanted the Gibb brothers to record a very long dance track called “Saturday Night, Saturday Night.” Instead, they recorded a track the siblings called “Stayin’ Alive.” Stigwood was really irritated, as he envisioned his new movie to have the “Saturday Night” title. The brothers Gibb said that title was dumb. Basically it was a take it or we will use it for our own project on part of Bee Gees. Stigwood decided to go with it and three other songs they wrote for inclusion in the film that eventually was titled Saturday Night Fever. Stigwood almost got his way regardless. “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” used the same drum tracks. “Night Fever,” (recorded first) had used the drumming of Dennis Bryon whose mum had died during the session. The group tried a drum machine to reproduce the sound and tried other drummers, only to finally make use of a tape loop of Bryon’s drumming added to the track of “Stayin’ Alive”—only slowed down a bit. The drummer never took part in live playing on “Stayin’ Alive.” Listen to the drums the next time you hear both songs and you’ll hear it’s the same exact beat!

RSO Records held down the No. 1 slot on the Hot 100 Singles chart during every week so far in 1978. In fact, the record company had a grand total of 29 of the 51 survey-phases in ’78! And the streak went back into 1977 with “How Deep Is Your Love” the first single from Saturday Night Fever. From the week ending on December 24, 1977 until the survey-period ending on May 13th of that year, RSO held down the No. 1 position on the Hot 100—for a total of 21 consecutive weeks. They’d have eight more weeks after that streak ended JUST in ’78 alone. During this period starting with “How Deep Is Your Love,” the streak included (in order) “Baby Come Back” by Player, this week’s new chart-topper “Stayin’ Alive,” followed by “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” by Andy Gibb, “Night Fever” by Bee Gees and lastly “If I Can’t Have You” from Yvonne Elliman, another Gibb Brothers’ composition. Later in the year, RSO had “You’re The One That I Want” featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newtown-John from the motion picture Grease, “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb hit the heights in addition to the title track from the film “Grease” from Frankie Valli also written by Barry Gibb reach the zenith.

 

EASY LISTENING SINGLES

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘78

 

No.1

Easy Listening

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 3)


“DESIREE”

Neil Diamond

COLUMBIA RECORDS3-10657

The first single release from Neil Diamond’s latest LP I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight was “Desiree” on Columbia Records. It had been featured on a Diamond TV special of the same name seen just weeks before entering the record charts. It was No. 1 for just this week on the Easy Listening Singles chart. The track reached No. 16 on the Hot 100 Singles list. Bob Gaudio of the 4 Seasons’ fame produced this track along with the rest of the LP. “Desiree” was listed as the 25th biggest hit of 1978 on the Easy Listening Singles chart at year’s end. Here’s a live version of “Desiree.”

The song “Desiree” was reportedly written at Neil Diamond’s beach house with some, “Ocean vibes” in it. Neil said it was, as he put it, “To me a great groove, a cookin’ record.” Another track from the album I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight became a monster hit, but only after his vocal was combined with that of Barbra Streisand on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” later a No. 1 record. That TV special featuring Neil Diamond, was broadcast on November 17, 1977. Here is that show in its entirety; including his solo version of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and some last minute changes on the lyrics shown being made; a special treat from your very own Big Jay. Enjoy!

Bob Gaudio was the recording producer on the TV special as well.

 

HOT SOUL SINGLES

CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘78

No.1

Soul

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 3)


THEME SONG FROM “WHICH WAY IS UP”

Stargard

 

MCA RECORDS40825

Here comes Norman Whitfield with yet another hit song written for a movie with (the correct title—and how it appeared on the record label) Theme Song From “Which Way Is Up” on MCA Records from the all-female funk band, Stargard. He had written the motion picture score to Car Wash, including the title track just a year before this was the No. 1 song on the Hot Soul Singles register. This was the first of two successive weeks as the prime song on that chart. The song was the main theme from the Richard Prior movie Which Way Is Up?  That film was a remake of an Italian film called The Seduction of Mimi, released in ’72. The record just squeaked up to the No. 21 slot on the Hot 100. The B side of the single charted as well called “Disco Rufus.” These were the only two appearances of the group Stargard on the Hot 100. Stargard did have another Top 10 Soul hit called “What Are You Waitin’ For” also written by Norman Whitfield from an album of the same name. But here’s the Theme From “Which Way Is Up” from Stargard.

Stargard, made up of original members Janice Williams, Rochelle Runnells and Debra Anderson, had appeared in the disasterous film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band starring Bee Gees as the fictitious group the Diamonds, where they performed “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” with a woman named Dianne Steinberg who played the part of the character Lucy. Prior played three characters in the film Which Way Is Up?—the orange picker with a wife AND a girlfriend, his own father and a reverend who gets the orange picker’s wife impregnated. The film also starred Lonette McKee, perhaps best known for her role in the original version of the film Sparkle in 1976 and the wife of Jackie Robinson in the Broadway production of The First. McKee won a Tony® nomination for her portrayal of Judy in Showboat on Broadway; the first African-American to play the role. She is now sharing her acting knowledge at Centenary College of New Jersey, where she provides her skills as an adjunct professor in the Theater Arts department.

 

THE

BIG

ALBUMS


 For the Chart-Week

ENDING

February 4, 1978

TOP LPs & TAPE

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘78:

No. 1

Pop

LP

(Last Week No. 1)


The Original Movie Soundtrack SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Various Artists


RSO RECORDS2-4001

This is the third week of what would eventually become a 24-week odyssey as the primary album on the Top LPs & Tape chart for The Original Soundtrack Saturday Night Fever on RSO Records. By far this two-album set would become the leading album of the year in ’78. The assortment had become No. 1 in the middle of January of ’78 and didn’t yield the solid gold spot until the week of the Fourth of July! This survey-period’s No. 1 Hot 100 Singles chart-leader was “Stayin’ Alive” in its first of four weeks at the crest. (**See above.) Interestingly, there are TWO versions of “More Than A Woman” on the soundtrack. On side A of the double-album, Bee Gees did their version and the band Tavares also did their rendition for side B. Bee Gees didn’t release their performance as a single, but Tavares did on their Capitol Records label. The Tavares 45 RPM reached No. 25 on the Hot 100. The B side of this week’s No. 1 song “Stayin’ Alive” was the Gibbs’ version of “If I Can’t Have You” which would be a future No. 1 for Yvonne Elliman, a former backing singer for Eric Clapton and who played the part of Mary Magdalene on the Rock Opera Soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar. Now, Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” B side; with their interpretation of “If I Can’t Have You,” markedly different from the hit by Elliman.

The songs with an upbeat rhythm from Saturday Night Fever were written by the Gibb brothers, but not particularly written for the movie as some thought. And they weren’t done exclusively with the “disco” theme in mind. They had merely added more rhythm to some of their tracks begun in France at the Château d'Hérouville as they had done with “Jive Talkin’” and “Nights On Broadway” previously. The Bee Gees new tracks for the double album were finished in Miami.  RSO stands for Robert Stigwood Organisation (correct British spelling) run by Stigwood (a former associate of Brian Epstein the Beatles manager) who also managed the Gibbs and others and who would dissolve the label in the early ‘80s. The cow on the label’s logo was resultant of a paper-mâché item, as a symbol of good physical condition and good fortune. Stigwood told his graphic artist to merely add the letters RSO within the bull cow and that became their logo. This label’s eight year tenure was one of the most thriving labels of the era. The awards were many for this soundtrack album; plus the set was put into the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress in 2013. I’m wagering that your vinyl or 8-track copy is somewhere in your parent’s basement.  

 

HOT SOUL LPs

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘78:

No. 1

Soul

LP

(Last Week No. 1)

ALL ‘N ALL

Earth, Wind & Fire

COLUMBIA RECORDS34905

All ‘N All was sitting atop the Hot Soul LPs chart this week in ’78; the eighth of an ultimate nine consecutive survey-phases. Earth, Wind & Fire’s eighth studio album sold over three million copies with good reason. There was a cohesiveness that had not previously been fully attained by the large outfit, led by Maurice White. Some of the success has been attributed to White wishing to move beyond just singles, and All ‘N All was a conscious attempt at putting together a wholly pleasing album experience. In the liner notes, White noted that he and the band had been in Argentina and Brazil for about a month, and were blown away by the progressive funk of Banda Black Rio and the arty tunes of Milton Nascimento. So, when they returned to the U.S., many of his band members co-wrote songs that embraced undulating samba and chants they heard at Carnival, and, “Integrated elements of Brazilian rhythm into the Earth, Wind & Fire lockstep funk.” Each song on the record were connected by White with a series of interludes, built on the African thumb piano known as Kalimba in some parts of that continent, and street percussion. The logo Kalimba was trademarked and used as a part of the group’s design above the group’s name. The word kalimba had been used as early as 1974 with a song called “Kalimba Story.” The first single from All ‘N All was the track “Serpentine Fire” that peaked at 13 on the Hot 100 and was currently still on the chart. It had been then No. 1 song on the Hot Soul Singles listing from the middle of November until the last day of the year in ’77 for a total of seven back-to-back weeks. This was the named the biggest Hot Soul Singles chart song of 1977. Check out the pyramid motif, used for the cover of the album, drawn by Japanese artist Shusei Nagaoka.   

It turns out the phrase “Serpentine Fire” is a euphemism for sex-drive or sexual impulse. I’ll keep that in mind next time I hear it. Just released in ‘78, the second single was “Fantasy,” a fabulous record; reaching only No. 32 on the Hot 100 but a respectable No. 12 on the Hot Soul chart. The inspiration for “Fantasy” was reported to be the film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. “Fantasy” received a Grammy® nomination for Best R&B Song; losing to “Last Dance” by Donna Summer.

Other standout tracks from All ‘N All was the brass-filled “Love’s Holiday” and the Grammy® Award winning track “Runnin’”—a winner for Best R&B Instrumental. The album itself was the recipient of a Grammy® for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus. 

 

BIG

SINGLES


For the

Chart-Week Ending

February 5, 1983


HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

 

THIS WEEK IN ’83:

No. 5 (LW 9) “SHAME ON THE MOON”

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band CAPITOL – 5187

No. 4 (LW 7) “BABY COME TO ME”

Patti Austin with James Ingram QUEST50036

No. 3 (LW 3 ) “SEXUAL HEALING”

Marvin Gaye COLUMBIA – 03302

No. 2 (LW 1) “DOWN UNDER”

Men At Work COLUMBIA – 03303

 

No.1

Pop

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 2)

 

“AFRICA”

Toto

COLUMBIA RECORDS03335

 

Did you notice the word kalimba above in the story about Earth, Wind & Fire’s LP All ‘N All from ’78? Good. Because the band Toto used the same instrument (an African thumb piano also known as mbira and other regional names) as part of the mix for this week in ‘83’s No. 1 song on the Hot 100 Singles chart, “Africa” on Columbia Records. This was the third single from the LP Toto IV. The song was written by the group’s founding member’s keyboardist David Paich and drummer Jeff Porcaro, after David had seen a late-night documentary on the plight of some people in Africa. So the composition comes from an American’s point of view regarding the strife that so many Africans were enduring and wanting to help them. Some things never change if you look at current events in 2015. “Africa” was in the No. 1 slot for just a sole week, replacing a song about another continent—Australia with the song “Down Under” by Men At Work. That 45 RPM would return to the top again, replacing “Africa’s” one-week stand.

Lead singer Bobby Kimball (real last name Toteaux, which is pronounced Toto) left the band after this album Toto IV. But it was David Paich who sang the lead on “Africa,” the groups’ only No. 1 Pop hit. They came close with another track from Toto IV, “Rosanna” which got stuck in the No. 2 position in 1982 for five straight weeks—prevented from the prime slot by two chart-toppers; “Don’t You Want Me” from Human League and “Eye Of The Tiger” from Survivor. “Rosanna” won a Grammy® for Record of the Year. A third single in between “Rosanna” and “Africa” was called “Make Believe” and stalled at No. 30 on the Hot 100. Never a critics favorite, Toto had 10 years of chart hits, including 10 records that reached the Top 40. Toto’s drummer and co-founder Jeff Porcaro passed away from a heart-attack in 1992 at the age of 38.   

 

 HOT ADULT CONTEMPORARY TRACKS

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘83

 

No.1

ADULT CONTEMPORARY

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)


“BABY COME TO ME”

Patti Austin

(A Duet with James Ingram)

QUEST RECORDS50036


Patti Austin has been singing professionally since the age of five, when she signed a deal with RCA Victor Records. Her dad, Gordon Austin was a trombone player in the Big Band- era. By her late teens and early 20s, Patti Austin became an in-demand session singer for countless artists and advertising jingles. Austin was the female voice on the Frankie Valli smash hit in New York called “Swearin’ To God” back in 1975 written by Bob Crewe and Denny Randell from the Jersey Guy’s album called Close Up. Her 1981 album called Every Home Should Have One, yielded her first Hot 100 hit with title track of that LP. A who’s-who of musicians contributed to that album, including: David Foster, Bob James (famous for performing the theme from TV’s Taxi) Steve Lukather from Toto, percussionist Ralph MacDonald, keyboardist Greg Phillinganes and a host of others. On the No. 1 song this week in ’83 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, Austin invited James Ingram to duet with her on the recording. The song would go on to have two consecutive weeks in the No. 1 place on the Hot 100 Singles list starting next week. But the song needed an appearance on the TV Soap Opera General Hospital to become a nationwide hit. When first released as a single in 1982, “Baby Come To Me” stalled. After it became Luke Spencer’s love theme, the 45 RPM exploded in 1983. All in all, during both chart runs, the song spent a total of 32 weeks on the Hot 100, and was this week’s chart-topping tune on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.

Austin joined on one of James Ingram’s records called “How Can You Keep The Music Playing” written by legendary composer Michel Legrand, along with Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman. That song was nominated for an Oscar® for Best Original Song for 1983. Ingram had a very good debut year back in 1981, as he performed on two hits with Quincy Jones. He was rewarded with a Best New Artist Grammy® nomination, a Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammy® nomination for “Just Once” and the winner of Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the vocalist on Quincy Jones’ record, “One Hundred Ways.” But his career was just beginning, as he went on to huge success on his own and with other artists including Michael McDonald, Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes and others. His only solo No. 1 song on the Hot 100 was in 1990 with a song called “I Don’t Have The Heart.” He reached No. 2 with Linda Ronstadt with “Somewhere Out There” the theme from the film American Tale. In 1990, Ingram participated in another Quincy Jones track called “The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)” which was a No. 5 hit on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, featuring Al B. Sure, El DeBarge and Barry White.   

 

BLACK SINGLES CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘83

No.1

Soul

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 2)


“OUTSTANDING”

The Gap Band

TOTAL EXPERIENCE RECORDS8205


The LP Gap Band IV was the crossover breakthrough album for the Gap Band, yielding three Hot 100 pop hits and scoring massively on the Black Singles chart. First was “Early In The Morning” going to No. 1 on the R&B list, as well as No. 13 on the Disco Tracks/Club Play chart and No. 24 on the Hot 100. That was followed by their perennial hit “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” which was a No. 2 smash on the Black Singles chart, No. 39 on the Disco list and a respectable No. 31 on the Hot 100. The Gap Band had another No. 1 Black Singles chart hit in them with this survey-period’s leader, “Outstanding.” It got to No. 24 on the Disco chart, but unfortunately, the track wasn’t outstanding on the Hot 100; stalling at No. 51. Here they are with lead singer Charlie Wilson in ’83 on American Bandstand with “Outstanding.”

The Gap Band must have had some very high payroll, as they were comprised of 17 musicians, not including backing singers! But the main three performers were all brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma—Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson. Charlie went on to have a very successful solo career; even being named “Uncle Charlie” by Snoop Dogg and having nine solo Grammy® Award nominations as well as the Soul Train Icon Award. Charlie Wilson had the No. 1 Urban Adult/R&B song of 2009 with “There Goes My Baby” from the album Uncle Charlie. That song was nominated for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, only to lose to Maxwell for “Pretty Things.”

THE

BIG

ALBUMS


 For the Chart-Week

ENDING

February 5, 1983



TOP LPs & TAPE

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ‘83:

No. 1

Pop

LP

(Last Week No. 1)


BUSINESS AS USUAL

Men At Work  

COLUMBIA RECORDS37978


Everyone knows that 1983 was the year of Michael Jackson. But the year didn’t launch that way. In fact, in the music world, the last couple of months of ’82 into the first several weeks of ’83 were seized by the Australian band, Men At Work. This week, their second single in the U.S., “Down Under,” was the Hot 100 Singles No. 2 song, but would push “Africa” by Toto out of the No. 1 spot next week for one more of four non-consecutive survey-phases. Their LP governed  the U.S. Top 200 Album chart (called Business As Usual on Columbia Records) from the second week in November of ’82, all the way into practically the end of February of ’83—for a total of 15 uninterrupted weeks. The Thriller floodgate would soon open, but Men At Work was the frenzy just prior to Jackson’s ground-shaking LP shattered all records. First, let’s focus on the No. 1 song in America for three weeks prior and next week, “Down Under.” The 45 RPM had a quirky flute floating underneath much of the song played by Greg Ham, along with Colin Hay’s lead vocal. It turned out (many years later via a court case) that the flute riff was copied by the group. The original song featuring the main workings of the flute riff was formerly found in a 1932 Australian piece of music called “Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree.” Memorable title, huh? By the way, a kookaburra is a land bird found in Australia and New Guinea. The children’s song was written by a guy named Marion Sinclair, and contained the familiar flute sounds copied by Ham, included in the tune composed by Colin Hay and group member Ron Strykert (the band’s lead guitar player) “Down Under.” A local court found that it undeniably was copied, but only granted 5 per-cent of royalties to the current owners of the “Kookaburra” song retroactive to 2002, and continuing with any upcoming payments. Colin Hay nevertheless claims they didn’t steal the riff, and that it first showed up during an improvised (and very stoned) jam session that led to the finished creation, and any resemblance was not deliberate. The song “Down Under” had roots as far back as 1978. A side note: Greg Ham was found dead in 2012 not long after a final appeal was denied, and was reportedly dejected over likely being branded for allegedly copying the riff, rather than the eminence of their recordings, live performing and songwriting.

Men At Work’s album Business As Usual also featured the group’s first international No. 1 45, “Who Can It Be Now,” which included a atypical sax solo also performed by Ham. A third song (though not officially released as a single) “Be Good Johnny” did chart as a rock album track in the U.S. The LP has sold over six million copies in the U.S. alone and reportedly almost three times as many globally. The LP was released in Australia six months before being unleashed in America. Men At Work won the Best New Artist Grammy® for the year covering 1983.

 

 

BLACK

ALBUMS

CHART

 

THIS WEEK IN ’83:

No.1

R&B

LP

(Last Week No. 1)

 

THRILLER

Michael Jackson

EPIC RECORDS38112


Thriller was already in the top slot on the Hot Black Albums chart for the second consecutive week of an eventual 37 non-consecutive total weeks for Michael Jackson there. It took the Pop market just a bit longer to get with the game, but clearly, 1983 and certainly part of 1984, would become the banner years for the King of Pop. But here’s the second single from the set, “Billie Jean” currently rapidly climbing every chart imaginable this week in ’83.

I’ll have more about this landmark album in the weeks ahead.

**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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