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BIG Jay's BIG Week In Pop Music History

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September 5th, 2014




THE

BIG

SINGLES

 

For the Chart-Week ENDING

 September 11, 1965

HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

THIS WEEK IN ’65:

No. 5 (LW 3) “CALIFORNIA GIRLS”

The Beach BoysCapitol5464

No. 4 (LW 7) “YOU WERE ON MY MIND”

We Five  A&M770

No. 3 (LW 9) “EVE OF DESTRUCTION”  

Barry McGuire Dunhill4009

No. 2 (LW 2) “LIKE A ROLLING STONE” 

 Bob Dylan Columbia43346

No.1

Pop 45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“HELP!”

The Beatles

Capitol Records5476

In colour! Yeah, that’s how they spell it in the Mother-Country. The film called HELP! may not have been as good as A Hard Day’s Night, but it certainly didn’t diminish the Beatlemania that continued to sweep the world in 1965. The colorful island of New Providence in the Bahamas was picked to film the warm-weather portions of the film due to tax purposes; as England had a very high rate of income levies. Nobody in the cast or crew complained, as it was in February of ’65 when filming began. The Beatles and film team, along with journalists and radio personalities, stayed in the Caribbean due to the filming for just over two weeks. The movie Help! was a take-off on the James Bond-type of films at the time. The song “Help!” was in week-two of a three-consecutive survey-period run at No. 1 on the Hot 100 Singles chart, and is featured here in a live version by the Fabs.

Once back in England, the entourage headed for the cold climate of Austria where they stayed for six days in order to shoot other outdoor scenes, including skiing and tobogganing. They finished the film at Twickenham Film Studios in a suburb of London, along with a few other remote locations around the city. The movie’s first working-title was Beatles 2; then Ringo Starr recommended Eight Arms To Hold You. In fact, that title showed up on a single released before the movie called “Ticket To Ride.” If you look at your Capitol single, it plainly says in parenthesis, (From the United Artists film Eight Arms To Hold You) underneath the title and writing credits. John Lennon has reported to have said he didn’t want to write a song with another long title like when he and Paul McCartney composed the song “A Hard Day’s Night” for example. So, having to almost force-write, the tune called “Help!” was a plea for just that by Lennon, who was having a spell of insecurity after the tremendous success of the Beatles over the last two years.

 

EASY LISTENING SINGLES CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘65

No.1

Easy Listening 45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“YOU WERE ON MY MIND”

We Five

A&M Records – 770

The nation’s biggest Easy Listening Singles chart record was from the San Francisco Folk/Rock group, We Five with “You Were On My Mind” on the A&M Records label. This rendition was a cover version (among many worldwide) of the Ian & Sylvia original, recorded in 1964 (the year they were married) for their LP called Northern Journey on Vanguard Records. The Canada native’s version was more in the folk vein, as Ian Tyson and his then wife Sylvia were in that sphere at the time they recorded it. It was Sylvia who wrote this song. They divorced and split as a team in ’75. We Five’s remake version of “You Were On My Mind” was in the very timely Folk/Rock style, largely begun by Bob Dylan and inadvertently by Simon & Garfunkel, the Byrds and a few other acts. “You Were On My Mind” reached No. 3 on the Hot 100 Singles chart and was in the second of an ultimate five consecutive weeks in the top spot on Easy Listening Singles chart. Here’s one of the biggest stars of the 20th Century, Fred Astaire, introducing them on TV’s Hollywood Palace on October 2, 1965.

The group’s lead singer was Beverly Bivens. She was recommended to the ensemble by act the Association’s organizer Terry Kirkman, who was dating Beverly’s sister at the time. We Five’s founder Mike Stewart (the brother of John Stewart who wrote “Daydream Believer” remade by the Monkees, and his own hit song “Gold,” a No. 5 Pop hit in ’79) grabbed her for his new act. They were initially called the Mike Stewart Quintet, but switched to We Five after being ‘discovered’ by Herb Alpert at a club in San Francisco. He signed them to his A&M Records label. I have this LP in my collection, and it was quite good. We Five just didn’t move past the Folk/Rock sound that evolved quickly into other genres, curtailing their career as an act. One reviewer called Us Five, “The bridge between Peter, Paul & Mary and The Mamas and the Papas,” an apt description. In fact, they were the first so-called ‘Electric’ band to come out of the San Francisco music scene, predating Jefferson Airplane and others. They were so hot in late ’65; they were invited to sing (in their style) several Coca-Cola jingles. We Five’s version of the “You Were On My Mind” was not the adaptation that was a hit in the U.K. That gift was given to Crispian St. Peters; who’s only U.S. hit on any consequence was the No. 4 Pop hit, “The Pied Piper.” However; in 1967, St. Peters’ cover-version did rise to No. 36 on the Hot 100 Singles chart here in America. Singer Bivens and the group had parted ways just before the release of their second album, stalling any forward momentum they had with “You Were On My Mind.”

 

TOP SELLING

R&B SINGLES CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘65

No.1 

R&B 45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“PAPAS GOT A BRAND NEW BAG Part 1”

James Brown

And the Famous Flames

King Records – 5999

He was the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business, Mr. “Please Please Please,” the King of Soul, Soul Brother Number One, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, the Inventor of Funk, the Minister of the New Super-Heavy Funk, the Original Disco Man, the Grandfather of Hip-Hop and a charter member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. James Brown and the Famous Flames topped the Top Selling R&B Singles chart this week with his landmark recording, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag Part 1” on King Records. This record was the result of an unprecedented new contract with the label, allowing Brown complete artistic control of his sound. The song was also his biggest Pop chart hit to that date, reaching No. 8 on the Hot 100, which is exactly what he fought for. His NEXT hit was even bigger; a monster Pop and R&B hit (No. 1 R&B and No. 3 Pop) “I Got You (I Feel Good.)” Your Biggest Jay has the fortunate experience to have met James Brown twice, and I have an autographed copy of “I Got You (I Feel Good)” in mint condition, thank you. Here are “Papa” and “I Got You” in medley-form on the Ed Sullivan Show in color!

For single release, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag Part 1” was sped up and pitched up a half step with ‘slap-back’ echo to make it explode out of the radio and record player speakers. The 45 RPM was in the fifth of eight back-to-back weeks at the crest of the Top Selling R&B Singles survey this week in ’65. This very important record won a Grammy® for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording, beating out one of the most enduring songs of the ‘60s, “My Girl” from the Temptations, another Motown act Jr. Walker & the All-Stars for “Shotgun,” Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour,” and even Sam Cooke’s “Shake” released 12 days after he was killed on December 11, 1964; taken from his last recording session on November 22nd of that year. James Brown died a legend on Christmas day 2006.

THE

BIG

ALBUMS

For the Chart-Week ENDING

September 11, 1965

TOP LPs

CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘65:

No. 1

Pop LP

HELP!

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Beatles

Capitol Records2386

 

The American release of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Help! (on August 12, 1965—a week after the Help! LP came out in the U.K.) was the survey-leader on the Top LPs chart this week in ’65, for the first of nine consecutive analysis-periods. The Capitol Records release was not the same as the U.K. version, which wasn’t truly a soundtrack, although it did contain all of the songs in the movie and more. The U.S. version only included the songs: “Help,” “The Night Before,” “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” “I Need You,” “Another Girl,” “Ticket To Ride” (a previously released single) and “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.” That song is featured here from the film.

The rest of the U.S. soundtrack was filled with score music, conducted and written by Ken Thorne plus instrumentals of Lennon/McCartney compositions, with a distinct James Bond movies sound. All of the original Beatles songs were produced by George Martin, and engineered by Norman “Hurricane” Smith. This album sold just over three million copies in the U.S., a paltry amount by some of their other albums’ standards. The front photograph by Robert Freeman featured the boys holding semaphore flags, thought to spell-out the letter H-E-L-P; when in truth, that didn’t look right to the man with the camera. He picked the picture featuring the Beatles spelling-out the letters N-V-U-J. The U.K’s version was different, spelling it N-U-J-V. Got all that? The original British version was originally released on Compact Disc in America in 1987, and has seen two other re-mastered versions hit the marketplace since then.  

TOP SELLING R&B LPs

CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘65

No. 1 

R&B LP

(Last Week No. 2)

THE IN CROWD

Ramsey Lewis Trio

Argo Records – 757

The LP called The In Crowd by Ramsey Lewis Trio was released on two different record labels. That happened because Chess Records in Chicago started Argo, with the intent of using it as a Jazz label and due to an overwhelming amount of material coming out of the Chess Studios in the Windy City. Argo was founded in 1955, and it lasted about 10 years, because the Chess folks found out there was another Argo Records in the U.K. and switched the U.S. label to Cadet, yet another subsidiary of Chess. The Ramsey Lewis Trio consisted of the namesake on piano, Eldee Young (who died in Thailand in 2007) on bass and cello, plus Isaac “Red” Holt on drums. Those last two formed Red-Holt Unlimited after just one more LP with Lewis. That new group featured Don Walker on the 88’s and they had a hit with yet another new pianist named Ken Chaney with “Soulful Strut” in 1968. And if that song sounded familiar, it was the backing-track for a song by Chicago soul singer Barbara Acklin just few months later called “Am I The Same Girl,” an R&B hit. She had a Pop hit called “Love Makes A Woman” earlier in ’68. Add to that, Acklin’s vocal version of “Soulful Strut”—“Am I The Same Girl” was remade by the group Swing Out Sister in 1992. The Ramsey Lewis Trio album I’m featuring here called The In Crowd was recorded live at a club called The Bohemian Caverns on Eleventh Street, N.W. in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 14 and 15, 1965—the second live album they recorded there. The album was in the first of an ultimate 12 non-consecutive weeks as the biggest album on the Top Selling Soul LPs chart. Here’s the entire long version of the title track from the album. The single was substantially edited for airplay on Top 40 radio.  

The song “The In-Crowd” was written by a guy named Billy Page, the brother of the very talented arranger, Gene Page who later went on to acclaim working with many artists including Barry White on many of his major hits. The song “The In Crowd” was known already by Top 40 and R&B stations due to the vocal version by the late Dobie Gray of “Drift Away”-fame. His version entered the charts earlier in ’65, gaining the No. 13 slot on the Hot 100 and listed as “The “In” Crowd” on the small Charger Records label that only released 14 singles and went out of business. As an added treat, here’s Dobie Gray’s version.

 

THE

BIG

SINGLES

For the Chart-Week ENDING

September 11, 1971

HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

THIS WEEK IN ‘71:

No. 5 (LW 1) “UNCLE ALBERT / ADMIRAL HALSEY”

Paul & Linda McCartney Apple1837

No. 4 (LW 6) “AIN’T NO SUNSHINE”

Bill Withers Sussex – 219

No. 3 (LW 3) “SMILING FACES SOMETIME”

The Undisputed Truth Gordy7180

No. 2 (LW 4)“SPANISH HARLEM”

Aretha Franklin Atlantic2817

No.1

Pop 45 RPM

(Last Week No. 5)

 

“GO AWAY LITTLE GIRL”

Donny Osmond

MGM Records14285

A good pedigree here, as the recently departed Gerry Goffin along with his then wife Carole King wrote “Go Away Little Girl”—a hit three different times by three different artists on the Hot 100 Singles chart. The first time around, it was recorded by Steve Lawrence (No. 1 in 1963) on Columbia Records, his first outing for a new label, and his only Pop chart-topper and only million-selling single.  Then it was a decent sized hit by The Happenings (No. 12 in 1966) on the B. T. Puppy label. Finally, for Donny Osmond, it was the top tune this week in ’71 on MGM. Osmond was still a member of The Osmonds and was just 13 when he recorded his version of “Go Away Little Girl.” Donny’s adaptation was in the first of three straight weeks as the biggest hit in the land. Listen to the mania that was Donny Osmond.

Surprisingly, this record knocked Paul & Linda McCartney from the top position with “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” after just one week at No. 1. The future Dancing With The Stars champion recorded his version of “Go Away Little Girl” at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama under the watchful eye of producer Rick Hall, who also arranged the horns for the track at the legendary studio along with trumpet player Harrison Callaway, Jr. a member of the Fame Gang; the Fame Studios in-house band, and later member of the Muscle Shoals Horns. MGM Records was sold to Polygram’s Polydor label the following year, and retained the use of that name for 10 years, only to later get rid of the trademark. The movie company MGM was able to reclaim the rights to the record label’s name in the late ‘90s.   

EASY LISTENING SINGLES CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘71

 

No.1

Easy Listening 45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“THE NIGHT THEY DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN”

Joan Baez

Vanguard Records – 35138

 

This week’s list-leader on the Easy Listening Singles chart was from folky Joan Baez on the Vanguard Records label with a remake of the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The J. Robbie Robertson tune was first performed by the Band on their second album simply called The Band (also called The Brown Album by some) released in September of 1969. “Dixie” was also the B side to their mid-sized hit single “Up On Cripple Creek.” The Joan Baez version has slightly different lyrics, as she said she learned the song by listening to the Band’s LP and simply misheard some of the words! Here’s Joan on The Midnight Special TV program.

Baez’s single was her biggest charting hit record, and was in the second of five back-to-back survey-periods at the pinnacle of the Easy Listening Singles listing. Her version of the song was from her last album (a double LP set) with Vanguard Records called Blessed Are… recorded in Nashville. The album reached No. 11 on the Top LPs chart, and included some of Nashville’s top session musicians including the legendary drummer Kenny Buttrey who died in 2004, along with Bluegrass/Country guitarist Norman Blake, who played with Elvis Presley during the last 11 years of the King’s life and Charlie McCoy on harmonica. McCoy was hired by Chet Atkins for many of his productions through the years and played on hundreds of recordings. 

 

BEST SELLING SOUL SINGLES CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘71

No.1

Soul 45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)


“SPANISH HARLEM”

Aretha Franklin

Atlantic Records2817

This is my favorite Aretha Franklin track, and it topped the Best Selling Soul Singles chart this week in ’71 on Atlantic Records. The remake of “Spanish Harlem” written by two record industry stalwarts Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector (two Caucasian guys) and produced by Leiber and his partner Mike Stoller for Ben E. King in 1960 (No. 10 Pop) on Atco Records also reached the No. 2 position on the Hot 100 Singles chart for two weeks for Aretha on the mother-label Atlantic. It became the “Queen of Soul’s’ 11th million-selling 45 RPM release. “Spanish Harlem” also reached No. 5 on the Easy Listening Singles chart. This was her 11th chart-topping R&B single. Back to the original for a moment; did you know that those are the Drifters on the background on King’s original record? It was set as a Drifters release, but Leiber & Stoller wanted to push Ben E. King as a solo act, thus the record label featured his name, launching his solo vocation. If King’s version wasn’t perfect enough—the right-rockin’ Lady Ree gave it new meaning and a whole lotta soul.

It’s Big Jay Record Pig Music Trivia© time. Do you know who played the organ on Lady Soul’s version of “Spanish Harlem?” If you guessed Dr. John a/k/a ‘The Night Tripper and/or Mac Rebennack; you’d be correct. He was joined by some crack studio cats like Chuck Rainy on bass guitar (one time musician with The King Curtis All-Stars who opened for the Beatles on their second U.S. concert tour) and was a mainstay of Steely Dan for many years. That’s Donny Hathaway on electric piano. On guitar was Cornell Dupree and the Spanish guitar was played by Don Arnone. Also, drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie was on the track who was Aretha’s musical director from 1970 through 1975. Aretha’s sisters Erma and Carolyn Franklin with her group the Sweethearts of Soul were on background vocals. The single was not on a regular studio album. It was held back from Franklin’s Young, Gifted And Black LP, but was included on the album Aretha’s Greatest Hits (not to be confused with Aretha’s Gold from ’69) released in early September of ’71, just as “Spanish Harlem” was at its peak.

    

THE

BIG

ALBUMS

For the Chart-Week ENDING

September 11, 1971

TOP LPs

CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘71:

No. 1

Pop LP

(Last Week No. 1)

TAPESTRY

Carole King

Ode Records77009

The era of the ‘singer/songwriter’ was in full-swing, with King joining the world of lyrics this time, formerly done by her partner and one-time husband Gerry Goffin. They had divorced in 1968, and by 1970, she (unenthusiastically at first) found the nerve to pen words to her own pieces of music. Incongruously perhaps, “It’s Too Late” had the words written by songwriter Toni Stern. The song “It’s Too Late” was designated Record of the Year at the Grammy® Awards, with King also receiving a decoration for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

This week was the 13th of a decisive 15 seven-day survey-periods in the No. 1 spot on the Top LPs chart for the landmark album. Lou Adler produced the LP with several of the songs coming from the pen of Carole King, along with a few selections from supplementary artists; notably James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend.” A trio of songs were co-written by her one-time husband Gerry Goffin and included on the record. With an ensemble called the City, King recorded her new songs with Adler. Tapestry went on to vend over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone. The other exterior of the double A sided 45 RPM was written by King alone, “I Feel The Earth Move”—female sexual drive perhaps explained accurately for the first time on a record by a Pop singer/songwriter. Here’s a live version of “I Feel The Earth Move.”

 

BEST SELLING SOUL LPs

CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘71

No. 1

Soul LP

(Last Week No. 1)

WHAT’S GOING ON

Marvin Gaye

Tamla RecordsTS 310

The hottest Soul album this week in ’71 was what is now considered Marvin Gaye’s masterwork, What’s Going On from the Tamla (Motown) label. This is the eighth of a concluding nine weeks as that chart’s topper. But it nearly didn’t get released. Berry Gordy, Jr. was not joyful with Gaye’s foray into spacey music at the time. This self-produced album was as politically charged with controversial topics as it was a unique concept album with an amalgamation of sounds that other recordings at the time didn’t have; and Marvin fought tooth and nail to get it released, in the end winning the conflict.  Gaye had been a loner for a while after the passing away of his sometime singing partner Tammi Terrell. She died in 1970 of a brain tumor, and Marvin took that loss badly; retreating to drugs, a suicide attempt and even attempted to become a professional football player with the Detroit Lions. Well, that didn’t work out, but he did become pals with a number of members of the team. And guess who showed up as guests on this new album project? Try Lem Barney and Mel Farr, both members of the Lions. They are in the midst of the voices you hear in the background of the first hit from the LP, “What’s Going On” and on “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and others. Initially, Berry didn’t like the album’s title track and intensely tried to talk Gaye out of letting the public see a different representation of the very successful artist. But a Motown decision-maker decided to go over Berry’s head and released the single “What’s Going On” with resplendently good initial sales. Berry re-thought his previous decision and let Marvin do his thing. The world is forever grateful. Here’s the song that had just been the No. 1 Best Selling Soul Single a few weeks back in ’71, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” on Tamla Records.

Many of the so-called ‘Funk Brothers’ musicians were employed on the LP, with help from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra which Gaye had spent many nights listening to at their concert hall. The album reached number six on the Pop album chart, and the song “What’s Going On” got to number two on the Pop singles chart and the biggest Hot Soul single as well. “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” would be the top song on the Soul Singles chart the following week, with “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)” also reached the Pop top-10 and also a number one tune on the Hot Soul singles chart. Gaye thus became the first solo artist to have three top-10 Pop singles from one LP and the first to have three number one songs on the R&B side. After Gaye’s death, the album has been determined to be one of the best albums of the 20th Century by several well-known journals and music critics.

 

THE

BIG

SINGLES

For the Chart-Week

Ending

September 10, 1983

HOT 100

TOP 5 SINGLES

THIS WEEK IN ‘83:

 

No. 5 (LW 7) “TELL HER ABOUT IT”

Billy Joel Columbia04012

No. 4 (LW 4) “PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ”

Taco RCA13574

No. 3 (LW 6) “THE SAFETY DANCE”

Men Without Hats Backstreet52232

No. 2 (LW 1) “SWEET DREAMS (Are Made Of This)”

The Eurythmics RCA13533

No.1

Pop 45 RPM

(Last Week No. 2)

 

“MANIAC”

Michael Sembello

Casablanca Records812516

 

“Flashdance (What A Feeling)” from Irene Cara had been the No. 1 song in America for six solid back-to-back weeks several weeks ago in ’83, as the movie became a smash hit. Released as another single from the soundtrack, the song “Maniac” by Michael Sembello, produced by Phil Ramone along with the artist, reached the high point of the Hot 100 Singles chart on the listing for this week in ‘83 for the first of a two survey-period stay on top of that listing. Sembello had the track on his own album as well titled Bossa Nova Hotel on Warner Bros. Records.

Michael Sembello was a session musician on dozens of recordings for other artists including Stevie Wonder on his Songs In The Key Of Life album. Wonder found Sembello in Philadelphia. In fact, it was Wonder who told Sembello to change the song from a Country song originally, into a pop/dance recording. Wonder may have had an unaccredited hand in writing the song, as they both said they wrote it while fishing in Louisiana. Paramount Pictures was looking for songs to use in the film; and it was Sembello’s wife who sent the movie folks there a copy of her husband’s song. It was credited as being written by Sembello and Dennis Matkosky a friend of Sembello’s since they met going to school at Temple University in Philly. “Maniac” was nominated for an Oscar® for Music: Original Song—but lost to that OTHER hit from the film, with music by Giorgio Moroder, and lyrics by Keith Forsey and Irene Cara, on “Flashdance (What A Feeling).”

 

ADULT CONTEMPORARY SINGLES CHART THIS WEEK IN ’83:

No.1

 

Adult Contemporary

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)  

“HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LIVE WITHOUT YOU”

Laura Branigan

Atlantic Records89805

This was the second of three back-to-back weeks as the leader of the Adult Contemporary Singles chart for Laura Branigan with “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” on Atlantic Records. The song was written by Michael Bolton and Doug James and reached No. 12 on the Hot 100 Singles chart in ’83. Bolton’s own version of the song became a No. 1 record on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts in 1989 for the gravel-throated singer. The song has been sung in Spanish as well as English by artists all over the world. Here’s a live version of the song.

Released on July 1, 1983, Branigan did NOT support this song with a video as was the practice in the early to mid-‘80s. Instead, she sang the song on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve and on the show Solid Gold. It was featured on Laura Branigan’s LP called Branigan 2 as the second single from the album on Atlantic. Her rendition of “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” was a No. 1 song in Canada on their separate Adult Contemporary chart. Your Biggest Jay had the pleasure of interviewing her for about an hour on one of my radio shows in 1984. She was a charming, almost shy performer; but she DID sit on my lap for a memorable photograph that I will always treasure. Her husband died in 1996 of colon cancer. She had taken a sabbatical from performing to take care of him. Sadly, Branigan passed away in 2004 from an up to that time undiagnosed brain aneurysm in her home.

 

BLACK SINGLES CHART

THIS WEEK IN ’83:

No.1

R&B

45 RPM

(Last Week No. 1)

“COLD BLOODED”

Rick James

Gordy Records1687

The title track from the ‘The King of Punk-Funk’ Rick James’ album Cold Blooded was at the peak of the Black Singles chart this week in ’83 on Gordy Records. “Cold Blooded” was written, produced and arranged by James. This was the second of a six-week run at the top of this chart. The record just squeaked into the Top 40 at No. 40 on the Hot 100 Singles chart. The B side was simply an instrumental version of the track. Here’s a lip-synced TV appearance supporting the single.

Rick James was not a darling of the Pop Hot 100 Singles chart, he never even cracked the Top 10 nationally; but he certainly held court on the Black Singles listing virtually every time he released a record. James had four No. 1 R&B hits, and several Top 10 songs on that survey from 1978 through 1985. Rick James (real name was James Ambrose Johnson, Jr.) was born in Buffalo, NY. He joined the service, but was a deserter; moving to Canada. He joined a rock band called the Mynah Birds that included future superstar Neil Young. He went to prison for a year when he returned to Buffalo, only to retreat to Canada again after his release. Rick James moved to California and signed with the Motown subsidiary Gordy Records and had a very strong run of hits. He had addition issues, and spent more time in prison on California, and then had subsequent health problems and died in 2004 at the age of 56.

 

THE

BIG

ALBUMS

 

For the Chart-Week ENDING

September 10, 1983

TOP POP ALBUMS

CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘83:

No. 1

Pop

LP

(Last Week No. 2)

THRILLER

Michael Jackson  

Epic Records38112

 

This was the album that wouldn’t die. Thriller just kept on comin’ so to speak. It was No. 1 again on the Top LPs & Tape chart for just this week. It’s not like it hadn’t already been at the pinnacle of the Pop listings. And it wasn’t done yet being at the thrown of albums. This survey-period was the 20th of an eventual 37 amazing weeks at No. 1, starting with the week ending on February 26, 1983 and ending over a YEAR later with the week ending April 14, 1984. This survey-period was buoyed by Jackson’s current, and fifth single from the LP called, “Human Nature,” a song Michael wrote and co-produced with Quincy Jones. “Human Nature” showed the soft side of ‘the gloved one’s’ talents with the song reaching No. 7 on the Hot 100 Singles chart and hitting No. 1 on the Black Singles listing.

Epic Records knew what it had with Thriller, and was poised to release yet another single on September 19, 1983 called “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” the sixth out of seven total singles from the set. The only solo single from Thriller to top the Black Singles chart in ’83 was “Billie Jean” earlier that year; although “The Girl Is Mine” a duet with Paul McCartney was No. 1 just before “Billie Jean” dominated that chart for nine consecutive survey-periods. The final single from the LP was released after another duet with Macca called “Say Say Say,” (released on Columbia Records where Sir Paul was then signed) and that was the title track featuring the ultra-cool Vincent Price delivering a monologue and maniacal laugh for “Thriller.” All told, the Thriller album is tied for the title of biggest selling album in the U.S. (virtually tied with Eagles: Their Greatest Hits) with over 29 million certified copies sold each.

 

BLACK ALBUMS CHART

THIS WEEK IN ‘83

No. 1

R&B

LP

(Last Week No. 2)

 

THRILLER

Michael Jackson

Epic Records38112

 

32 non-consecutive weeks so far for Thriller from Michael Jackson on the Black LPs chart in ‘83. The album only had ONE week of an interruption by the Isley Brothers with their album Between The Sheets. The Rick James album called Cold Blooded and then Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down held down the No. 1 spot between the ends of next week through the rest of the year in ’83. But Thriller wasn’t done yet. Nope. After Lionel’s LP Can’t Slow Down actually DID eventually slow down after it too had a long run; Thriller was right back up there again to take its place, with the release of the title track as a single.

“Thriller” the song, was released oddly just after Halloween on November 12, 1983, but it didn’t stop it from reaching No. 4 on the Hot 100 for the weeks ending March 10th through the week ending April 7, 1984. That single sold over two million all by itself from an album that had been out for well over a year! How many copies of the original LP or cassettes did you go through? I had two.

(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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