27 October 2005

Started hummin' a song from 1979

Tonight, we take you back to November of '79.

12.9% APR, with approved credit, was a damned cheap car note. A Chrysler Cordoba, driven brand new off the dealer's lot, would get you about a block from your home before the engine stalled and/or a fender fell off. Ford enlisted a middle school Special Ed class to design its forthcoming compact car, the Tempo.

A new home would set you back about 40 grand. The mortgage interest was more than the principal. Single-digit interest rates had gone the way of the 70 MPH speed limit.

Ahhhhh yes, 1979. A new show called Dukes of Hazzard debuted on CBS. The tube was filled with top-flight viewing like Supertrain, James at 16, and a Summer replacement series known as Pink Lady. Disco, although close to slumping, was still king. People still bought 8-tracks.

You could still wear a leisure suit without anyone batting an eye. Even one in chartreuse.

1979. Your Blogwriter was in 9th grade, entertaining friend and foes alike with his athletic un-prowess - brilliantly displayed each and every morning in P.E. How bad was it? During the volleyball segment, when it came my time to serve, I got that volleyball over the net one time. And the whole class stopped cold and applauded!!

Somebody that year signed my yearbook: "You're pretty funny to watch while playing softball."

And the music? Little better. A recent acquisition of an American Top 40 countdown from November reminded me that my worst year ever in school had a soundtrack to match:

#39) THIS IS IT / Kenny Loggins
After a great career as one-half of Loggins & Messina, a great '70s laid-back/mellow rock duo, Kenny Boy struck out on his own. One of his first hits was 1978's "Whenever I Call You Fiend." -- ummm, I mean "Friend." This follow-up hit - debuting this week at #39 - was further proof that KL was suffering from Peter Cetera's Disease, named after the Chicago lead singer whom, upon discovery of ballads like "If You Leave Me Now", moved a great band away from a brassy rock sound and into a wimpy/schlocky/sappy direction instead.

#37) CONFUSION / Electric Light Orchestra
This was one I'd completely forgotten about. The late '70s were kind to E.L.O.; "Mister Blue Sky", "Don't Bring Me Down" and "Shine a Little Love" were big hits during this period. "Confusion", otoh, pretty much stagnated around the mid 30s. "Confusion" brings back a less-than-perfect time I had at this one Latin Club party.

Yeah, that's what I said. Latin.

#36) DAMNED IF I DO / Alan Parsons Project
Here's one you don't hear much these days. Too bad. It was one of the few truly great songs on the radio in 1979.

Another hot-ta-trot debut that week in November was this'un:
#35) ROCK WITH YOU / Michael Jackson
Not to be confused with the current-day Michael Jackson. This singer was black, male, and actually had a voice suggesting the presence of some testosterone. Oh yeah, and something else, too: A NOSE. The song was on its way to the top, and despite it being a pretty good record (if one forgets what happened later in the singer's life), it reminds me of a hellish unit of P.E.: DISCO DANCING. We learned disco dancing while listening to two songs, over and over, day in and day out, for three whole weeks. This was one of them.

Yeah, that's what I said. Disco dancing.

#34) JANE / Jefferson Starship
My favorite song on this entire top 40. Marked the first big hit of the group after Grace Slick left the band (she'd eventually return). Lead singer here is Mickey Thomas - same guy who lent his vocals to Elvin Bishop's 1977 hit "Fooled Around and Fell In Love."

"Jane" is a reminder that not ALL was bad in 1979. Just that records like this were far outnumbered.

#31) CRUISIN’ / Smokey Robinson
Didn't like this song one bit in 1979. Today, I've grown to appreciate it. Like a good wine, it's gotten better with each passing year. Smooth doesn't even begin to cover it.

#30) HEAD GAMES / Foreigner
Dedicated to The Ice Machine Princess, with heartfelt affection.

#29) I WANT YOU TONIGHT / Pablo Cruise
Liked it okay in 1979. Truly love it in 2005. Pablo Cruise was an unsung presence on the charts in the late '70s. One of their last hits, 1981's "Cool Love", brings a warmth to my heart, recalling the salad days of my first Summer with a driver's license.

#28) DREAMING / Blondie
It had been about a year since Blondie's debut on the charts with "Heart of Glass." "Dreaming" was an underrated piece of pop - a bit ahead of its time, actually; this might've been more at home on a 1983 list.

"Sharing the Night Together" from earlier this year is singly responsible for a rash of moral turpitude among young people. Just remember, Czech Brothers, if that girl you 'shared the night together' with looked much better the night before when your BAC was .15 ... pay attention to this song's message!

#26) DREAM POLICE / Cheap Trick
Eating their Dream Doughnuts at the Krispy-Dreme ... ahem .... if you think that joke was bad .... just wait 'till you see what was at #25 this nice Autumny November week in 1979:

This is it. The nucleus within the paramecium of poop that was 1979 top-40. Radio stations PLAYED this. People BOUGHT this record. Just remember, if you're the least bit inclined to reminisce about 1979: This was the year a freakin' marionette FROG climbed this high on the BILLBOARD pop chart. Again: PEOPLE BOUGHT THIS RECORD ! ! !

Miss Piggy, I understand, played banjo. Dr. Teeth produced this while he was on the outs with The Electric Mayhem.

Nothing against Jim Henson (RIP), honest.

#21) GOOD GIRLS DON’T / The Knack
His Sharona, it seems, wasn't.

#20) COOL CHANGE / The Little River Band
Time for a record change.

#19) DO THAT TO ME ONE MORE TIME / The Captain & Tennille
See #20.

#17) LADIES’ NIGHT / Kool & The Gang
...and this was the other disco record we heard over and over, along with Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" every golldurn day during our DISCO DANCING segment.

Yeah, that's what I said. Disco dancing.

#16) RISE / Herb Alpert
Another diamond-in-the-rough for '79: This was the year of Alpert's triumphant return to the chart after a long dry spell. It wasn't exactly whipped cream -- of course, this year of my life was either REDDI-WIP, or KRAMP'S "DAIRY FOAM" WHIPPED CREAM SUBSTITUTE (as featured in The Groove Tube). But give me Alpert and his trumpet over certain amphibians on the list this week.

#15) TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME / Supertramp
And one more diamond: Breakfast In America. Dock 70% of the grade if played without the intro.

#12) ESCAPE (THE PINA COLADA SONG) / Rupert Holmes
I don't like pina coladas. Getting caught in the rain rather underwhelms me. I'm not into yoga. I have half of half a brain. I don't like health food. May I escape, please?

#11) SHIPS / Barry Manilow
Air sickness bags are on the chairbacks in front of you. This was 1979, which meant Barely Manenough was a big name.

#10) POP MUZIK / M
Of course you reMeMber one of the More MeMorable Musical MoMents of 1979. It sounded interesting aMidst all the schitt and few diaMonds in the top 40, but I didn't like it too Much.

#9) TUSK / Fleetwood Mac
Without the Univ. of Southern California Marching Band, this record might've flopped worse than that damned tadpole down there at #25.

#8) SEND ONE YOUR LOVE / Stevie Wonder
Among the sweeter of Stevie's ballads. I like this one.

It was too good to be true -- two great songs in a row in the top 10. I guess this had to make up for it. Now I want some roasted chicken. Not.

#6) PLEASE DON’T GO / KC & The Sunshine Band
Please do. The door's over there...yeah...that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh...

The first release from their swan song, The Long Run - perhaps my favorite of all their albums.

#4) DIM ALL THE LIGHTS / Donna Summer
Complete with 20+ second note. At the risk of bringing Mr. Shagnasty's wrath upon my person, I gotta admit to ... liking this. It was one of Disco Diva Donna's best moments.

#3) STILL / The Commodores

Any questions?

#2) BABE / Styx
See #3. This was ground zero of Dennis DeYoung coming down with the aforementioned Peter Cetera's Disease. This was the beginning of the end of a great Midwest rock 'n' roll band. What is it with rock ballads and their subsequent compromise of testicular matter within the lead singers??!!

And you ready for the #1 hit of the week ending November 24, 1979??

Care to take a guess?

Remember, it IS 1979. That means one thing: DISCO.

I'll pause here while you swig some "Pepto."

Okay ... take a deep breath now. Pinch your nose, and take it like a mature adult.

Number One this week was:
NO MORE TEARS/ENOUGH IS ENOUGH / Barbra Streisand & Donna Summer

There were no tears shed. I go four years into the future (1983) to quote from Martin Briley: "You Ain't Worth the Salt in My Tears."

And Enough Is Enough ... I couldn't have said it better myself.

Back to 2005 wit' us. And ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "So that's what hell looks like" Gleck

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