Time once again for another review of another musical week in time. Today, we visit the American Top 40 program for the week ending July 30, 1977.
Coming soon, as promised, is a doozy of a list from 1979 .... however I wanted to present one which contains far more good songs than bad. 1977 actually wasn't that bad a year in pop music. But while '77 was good musically, it wasn't a very good year for me school-wise, either 6th grade or 7th. Thankfully, the Summer more than made up for it. Summertime 1977 was an idyllic island, and there were so many great songs playing on the radio. And around this time, we were on a big family vacation out west, where I saw the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, and took a brief day-long jog into Mexico while stopped over in El Paso.
1977 was also the year I discovered American Top 40. It was the beginning of the year, during a post-Christmas visit to the grandparents' in Birmingham. WSGN aired it Sunday nights, and - to my delight - a station nearby Tupelo (WKOR "The Big 98" in Starkville, Miss.) picked up AT40 at the beginning of the Summer.
Without further delay, here we go:
40) FLOAT ON / The Floaters
1977 was a benchmark year for black music. Disco had already begun making its mark (and let the record show that it was us honkies who f'ed up disco), garden-variety "soul" music was still going strong, and funk was – well, funk was funk. Never out of season.
But there are always exceptions to the rule, and this is one of ‘em. It's a nice soul ballad, music-wise, but the lyrics are another matter:
Aquarius, and my name is Talmadge. And I like a woman who is twisted. With a real warped sense of humor. Who's a real smart-ass. A woman who cooks up a mean streak and can love me like no other. If this is you .... then here's what I want you to do: Take my haaaaaaand .... let me take youuuuu, to lovvvvvve laaaaaaand ....
You can get STDs just from listening to this.
The writer of "Float On", I understand, also developed those tacky chrome ‘babe' silhouettes seen on the grilles of 18-wheelers.
39) CHRISTINE SIXTEEN / KISS
This was one I'd forgotten about. KISS was more or less ‘just there' on my musical plate. I liked ‘em okay, but wasn't ga-ga about the group as my brother was. In other words, I never considered joining KISS Army ... despite Uncle Gene saying "I Want You (So Does My Tongue)"
Gene Simmons, incidentally, could be standing here in Effingham County, Georgia, face west and stick out his tongue ... and touch Bolivar S. in Hot Springs, Ark.
38) SLIDE / Slave
37) STRAWBERRY LETTER 23 / Brothers Johnson
Two songs I was ga-ga over in the summer of ‘77. "Slide" was – and is – a fantastic soul/rock blend, to the point where more than once I came this close to actually playing it on my old classic rock show back in Alabama.
"Strawberry Letter 23" was a quaint little neo-psychedelic soul hit. I loved that trippy middle bridge, especially on the LP version where it had a few more bars.
36) SLOW DANCIN' (SWAYIN' TO THE MUSIC) / Johnny Rivers
One word: nice. A very sweet ballad that doesn't come close to reaching for the pink packets.
35) WAY DOWN / Elvis Presley
The last chart hit by The King before his 'killer B.M.' just weeks later. It was a bit spooky to hear it, knowing of this fact ... and especially to hear Casey referring to Elvis in the present tense. I love the ending here .... he goes deeper than anyone has ever gone before.
It must've been the drugs.
34) REMEMBER THE DAYS OF THE OLD SCHOOLYARD / Cat Stevens
33) ARIEL / Dean Friedman
It took six notches before we reached any songs I can't stand. Not too shabby. I'd forgotten about the Cat Stevens song (by ‘77, his better days were way past him), and fortunately one doesn't hear "Ariel" much either. I hated that song in 1977, and I hate it in 2006. I especially revile that "Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!" part in the song's hook. Very cringeworthy. Moving right along....
32) ON AND ON / Stephen Bishop
We didn't learn much through this song except that in Jamaica they've got lots of pretty women. They'll steal your money and break your heart. Big deal – so do women from the east part of Jonesboro, Ark.
In any case, it's a pretty decent song.
31) BLACK BETTY / Ram Jam
In the words of that great philosopher Eric Cartman: KICK-ASS!!! Probably cooks with more gas than any other song on this list. Long live rock 'n' roll, even if done by one-hit wonders.
30) GOT TO GIVE IT UP (PART I) / Marvin Gaye
Not among my favorites in the MG repertoire, but that's only by comparison. His life was in a bit of a shambles around this time, when he was engaged in an ugly divorce, the judge ordered the entire royalties from his next album be given to his ex. That album – called Here, My Dear – was full of biting songs, so vicious that his ex wife went back to court to sue Gaye for invasion of privacy.
29) SMOKE FROM A DISTANT FIRE / Sanford-Townsend Band
Two guys from Montgomery, Ala. who made it big, then it was back to the Eastern Bypass Holiday Inn with ‘em. All jokes aside, SFADF evokes all the magic of a 1977 Summer day.
28) ROCKY (GONNA FLY NOW) / Bill Conti
Didn't like the movie. Didn't like the song. Thank goodness I go by a pseudonym here, ‘cuz Sly Stallone might find out where I live and come beat me up.
27) HOW MUCH LOVE? / Leo Sayer
Lost in the shuffle when compared with his bigger hits, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" (blech!) and "When I Need You." (ditto)
26) TELEPHONE LINE / Electric Light Orchestra
I'm hanging up now.
25) GIVE A LITTLE BIT / Supertramp
From what is perhaps my favorite of their albums, Even in the Quietest Moments. Give me that title track any ol' day.
24) TELEPHONE MAN / Meri Wilson
"Can you believe thaaaat??" If you start tracing the lineage of all the blonde jokes you see and hear these days, you'll find most of ‘em lead to this general vicinity. My father-in-law has been a telephone man for more than 40 years, so as you might imagine, the song was a big family joke.
Meri settled in Americus, Ga. (curiously, not too far from my FIL's home of Albany), and, sadly, she died in a car accident about three years ago. Meri's car was creamed by a BellSouth truck.
Just kidding about that last part.
23) IT'S SAD TO BELONG / England Dan & John Ford Coley
It's sad to have this record belong to my collection. So it doesn't.
22) DON'T STOP / Fleetwood Mac
Ruined both in 1980 (see Pink Lady post below) and in 1992. I was no fan of George Herbert Walker Bush, Esq., Preppy Rich Guy President, and was ecstatic to see his butt defeated. It was a mixed joy, as I was no fan of the guy who beat him, Bill "Blue Dresses, Beware!" Clinton.
21) JET AIRLINER / Steve Miller Band
Gimme some of those funky KICKS going down in the city. Oh, you want "funky s(BLEEP)t"? Sorry, this is from the 45.
20) BARRACUDA / Heart
Early sampling – the bass riff is straight from Led Zeppelin's "Achille's Last Stand"! A really neat cosmic coincidence here: the name of my wife's middle school swim team was the Bainbridge Barracudas. And Casey was doing his hourly ‘station salutes' over the intro to "Barracuda" ... one of the stations he mentioned was in Bainbridge, Ga.
19) HANDYMAN / James Taylor
"Handyman" without a falsetto is like "Layla" without amplified instruments ....... or "Don't Fear the Reaper" without cowbell.
18) YOU'RE MY WORLD / Helen Reddy
Helen Reddy? Or Ready for Hell?
17) JUST A SONG BEFORE I GO / Crosby, Stills & Nash
A song with old baggage (not romantic), something I could not stand to listen to for a long time. I'd prefer any of the other songs on this album, CSN. "Shadow Captain" .... "Fair Game" ... or the underrated "Run From Tears."
16) ANGEL IN YOUR ARMS / Hot
No thanks, I'll take a Seraphim.
15) UNDERCOVER ANGEL / Alan O'Day
I can take it or leave it. Several years after UA, he came back and recorded an album containing one of the most amusing ditties of 1980: "Skinny Girls."
14) KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU / Abba
ABBA = Always Brings Binging on Antacids.
13) EASY / The Commodores
I'd have to say it's my favorite of their songs. I don't think Tuskegee, Alabama's favorite sons made a bad record in the 1970s. The "OOOOOH!!" after the bridge just makes the whole song!
12) YOU MADE ME BELIEVE IN MAGIC / The Bay City Rollers
Not all lightweight teeny-bop bubblegum pop is bad. Really, it isn't. I could do without "S! A! T-U-R! D-A-Y! NIGHT!" — YMMBIM is far better. My opinion, of course, and I have the blog.
11) YOU AND ME / Alice Cooper
The idea of AC mellowing out brings cringes upon many hard-core rockers; however, I can't diss it. Mr. Eddie Hask-–er, I mean Vincent Furnier recorded a trio of really nice ballads in the 1976-78 time frame: "I Never Cry", "How You Gonna See Me Now?", and this rekkid. I like them. So sue me.
10) WHATCHA GONNA DO? / Pablo Cruise
How could it be a late ‘70s chart without Pablo Cruise? They perfected laid-back pop/rock ... and defined the genre in the process.
9) (YOUR LOVE HAS LIFTED ME) HIGHER AND HIGHER / Rita Coolidge
The song takes me back to early Summer, and a trip to Gulf Shores, Ala. A great song to crank up on the beach. Rita took Jackie Wilson's masterpiece and turned it into magic of her own.
Side note: at the time of this countdown, Jackie W. was on his deathbed ... and Casey gave his address for listeners to send well-wishes.
8) MARGARITAVILLE / Jimmy Buffett
The song's flip-flop blew out here; #8 is the highest this classic went. It's a standard any way you slice it, burnt-to-a-crisp or not. While on our honeymoon early in ‘01, Seraphim and I ate at Margaritaville in Key West, Fla. I had – you guessed it – the entree called "Cheeseburger in Paradise." It came with lettuce and tomato (although I care for neither on a burger), Heinz 57 (well, the ketchup if not the steak sauce) and french-fried potatoes. Also had a thick kosher pickle, but .... NO COLD DRAFT BEER! The beer was cold, and I had one, but it was out of a bottle. TPHFFFFFFFT!!! (The burger WAS good, though ... as was our whole trip)
7) DO YOU WANNA MAKE LOVE / Peter McCann
"....or do you just wanna fool around", the song continued. None of the above. How about we f(BLEEP)k like two crazed weasels in a Cuisinart?
My, there went the 'family friendly' rating down the guest room commode.
6) BEST OF MY LOVE / The Emotions
See earlier opinions on how wonderful a year 1977 was for R&B music.
5) DA DOO RON RON / Shaun Cassidy
4) MY HEART BELONGS TO ME / Barbra Streisand
3) LOOKS LIKE WE MADE IT / Barry Manilow
This 1977 countdown is like an otherwise nice, fresh loaf of bread. The above represented a big green patch of mold I just cut out of it.
Shaun spat in Phil Spector's face with that dismantling of what was one of the best 'girl-group' classics of the early ‘60s.
Barbra was just being Barbra.
And Barry just was being ... his self.
2) I'M IN YOU / Peter Frampton
1977 was beddy beddy good to Mr. Frampton. Frampton Comes Alive was the quintessential live album ... and, while the title song is a bit on the smarmy side, the album I'm In You is one of the better LPs of the year. Give me that album's medley of "(I'm a) Road Runner"/"Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" any ol' time.
Be that all as it may, "I'm In You" for me is one whose opening notes alone can unleash all the sweet memories of the Summer of ‘77.
And the #1 hit of July 30, 1977? Put a rubber band around the scrotum, give it a good snap, so you can hit that high note:
1) I JUST WANT TO BE YOUR EVERYTHING / Andy Gibb
Pre-SNF Gibb-esque matter. Like Frampton above, the opening bars of "Everything" bring back the whole experience. Skateboarding and biking around the streets of south Tupelo.
Submitted for your approval, one top 40 list from 1977. Comments? Bring 'em on...
Ciao for niao!
--Talmadge "Waiting for a countdown program hosted by SESAME STREET's The Count" Gleck
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