15 March 2006

The Spirit (?) of '76 - PART 1 of 2

I guess it's time to do up another of these. Come back with me to October 9, 1976. A couple of things happened -- John Lennon turned 36, and a newspaper comrade in Kansas City turned 7.

And Casey Kasem was getting ready to lay out yet another edition of American Top 40:

40) THIS ONE'S FOR YOU / Barry Manilow [DEBUT]
If only the first line of this song had been a premonition: "This one'll never sell...."

Some people respect Barry Manilow's contributions to music, especially those in the jazz and ‘singer/standard' idioms ... people like my friend Birdman .... however, while I do offer a nod to such albums as 2:00 A.M. Paradise CafĂ©, I just cannot think of Barely Manenough without his pop singles coming to mind ... the Ron Dante throw-in-the-kitchen-sink productions which made Jim Steinman put down his console in solemn defeat. Some I can tolerate ... "Mandy" isn't THAT bad, I grant you .... but when I think about "Daybreak", "I Write the Songs" and ... [sudden churning of gastric area] ... "Copacabana", it makes me want to hurl a precision cold-cock in his direction. If for nothing else, ruining State Farm commercials since 1972!

39) DO YOU FEEL LIKE WE DO / Peter Frampton [DEBUT]
From the best live album of all time, Frampton Comes Alive. The album cut nudges 11 glorious minutes; this was the 45 edit, of course.

A lot of songs seem to have been cut, or at least faded out early -- the songs were getting longer by ‘76, and AT40 was still just three hours long. It wouldn't expand to four hours until 1978 — and at the same time adding the infamous "Long Distance Dedication"

Down, Snuggles!

38) YOU ARE MY STARSHIP / Norman Connors
A not-too-shabby R&B single, and one I'd completely forgotten about. Which leads me to wonder: If she's my starship, why won't she take me to her bridge??

(One of the station salutes Casey gives out this hour is for "Radio Elan" in Tehran. Truly a relic of history, as Iran was still ruled by the Shah, one of our biggest allies. Somehow I don't think AT40 was heard in that neck of the woods after the Ayatollah took over.....)

37) JUST TO BE CLOSE TO YOU / The Commodores [DEBUT]
One word: sweet.

36) LIKE A SAD SONG / John Denver
Generally speaking, I loathe most John Denver hit singles. When I hear his voice, I think of that controversial Monty Python bit, "Farewell to John Denver." THIS one, though, slipped through the cracks of my memory; I honestly don't remember this single. But I like it. It's a very good acoustic ballad, calling to mind JD's work in the ‘60s with the Chad Mitchell Trio. I guess John Denver's okay just so long as I can I forget his 1975 piece of horse phlegm "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" ever existed.

35) THE RUBBER BAND MAN / The Spinners
Like it or not (I don't, particularly), it's endured to become a ‘70s warhorse. This is like Star Wars ... never liked the movie, but I respect it for the classic it is.

Featuring cameo backing vocals by one Wolfman Jack. One time I heard the song, followed by a commercial for Propa-Oxy-Stri-Clean-Dex-Asil, or one of those other acne medications, voiced by ... Wolfman Jack. Kiss her "in the back row of the movie show" ... it's dark, so you won't be able to be grossed out by her zits. Just don't miss her mouth, otherwise you might get a taste of all that Clearasil and foundation she put on to hide her Pizza Hut face.

I've got a great idea for a parody of this song .... stay tuned .... (yes, I'm talking to you, Bolivar)

32) MUSKRAT LOVE / Captain & Tennille [DEBUT]
The highest-debuting record on this list. One word: WHY??!!??!! Did some people have a fetish for watching wetland rodents passionately reproducing the species? Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam. "In the hammock we can see a gator / We'll pretend that he's Parson Burr / He'll say ‘are you married', we'll say "[unintelligible muskrat noises, like those heard on the song]"

Before the end of the record, they're married. But I heard they divorced in 1988 .... Somewhere is an acetate of The Captain & Tennille singing, "She Got the Backyard, I Got the Shaft"

31) THE BEST DISCO IN TOWN / The Ritchie Family
"It's the place / Where hip people meet / Hey! Hey!"

1976 was the year disco exploded onto the music scene like a zit not treated with Propa-Oxy-Stri-Clean-Dex-Asil. But at this point disco hadn't yet reached the point of self-parody. This sounds like it was uprooted from October 1979 and plopped onto this week's list. What's worse, it would go on to peak at ... #17!

People BOUGHT this record (where's The Jukebox From Hades when we need it??!!)

30) GET THE FUNK OUTTA MY FACE / The Brothers Johnson
I highly imagine this hit the 40 far more due to record sales than airplay. Think about it: some people got their knickers in a knot over the recent pop song "Don't Funk With My Heart" -- so much so that a ‘cleansed' version was recorded with the name "Don't Mess With My Heart."

It's now 2006. But this, however, was 1976. Double-entendres could fly on Match Game ‘76, but this was not television ... and Gene Rayburn, Brett Somers, and Charles Nelson Gaily weren't anywhere to be found, either!

29) IT'S OKAY / The Beach Boys
I don't think the same could be said for Brian Wilson along about this time.

28) NADIA'S THEME / Barry DeVorzon & Perry Botkin, Jr.
"Stay tuned for your local news, followed by As the World Turns, next over most of these CBS stations." How this song got airplay on a top-40 station baffles me. But also proves that the format truly was a little of everything when I was growing up, you young whippersnappers!!

27) YOU ARE THE WOMAN / Firefall
Seraphim, I saw your face and that's the last I've seen of my heart. Honey, would you mind letting me see it just for old times' sake? I haven't see the ol' ticker in nearly eight years!

26) ONE LOVE IN MY LIFE / Diana Ross
In Diana's case, that would have to be herself.

25) SUMMER / War
I think this would have to be my favorite song on this entire list. How could one not like this record?

Ewwwwwwwww. I'll say it again = ABBA stands for Always Brings Binging on Antacids.

23) LOVE SO RIGHT / The Bee Gees
Its only merit is that it's not nearly as terrible as "Muskrat Love" or "Fernando." Perspective can be a powerful tool, yes?

22) WITH YOUR LOVE / Jefferson Starship
Vocalized by Marty Ballad — er, I mean Balin. ("Hearrrrrrrts can breaaaaaaaaak, and never mend togetherrrr" [cringe]) No disrespect intended here, though. I love this song.

If a Skipper and a Professor were on board, would the passengers and crew have survived? Are there uncharted desert isles in Lake Superior? But would the castaways have been eaten alive by a band of savage native Yoopers?

And what if it were a casino boat?

Part 2 to follow soon.

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge Coast To Coast


bolivar said...

You want it - you got it...

40. "This One's for You" / BARRY MANILOW

Sorry, Barry, I don't want it.

39. "Do You Feel Like We Do" / PETER FRAMPTON

Oh Talmadge, we could really start a debate here! Great song, great album... NOT, I repeat NOT, the greatest live album of all time. I'll do a future post of my favorite live albums of all time.

38. "You Are My Starship" / NORMAN CONNORS

No I am not. I am the "Starship Trooper"!

37. "Just to be Close to You" / COMMODORES

Jesus, that Lionel Richie influence again... (see Chicago at #5)

36. "Like a Sad Song" / JOHN DENVER

Just like with Neil Diamond, the critics are just too hard on John Denver. Yes, "Country Boy" is a terrible song. Yes, he put out his share of crap as well. But he is a really good singer/songwriter that has written some of the greatest songs of all time: "Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Calypso", "Rocky Mountain High", "This Old Guitar", and so on. "Sad Song" is OK in my opinion.

35. "Rubberband Man" / SPINNERS

I like this song. Not a bad disco song. Phillipe Wynne (sp?) was one of the great soul singers that left us way too soon.

34. "Did You Boogie With Your Baby" / FLASH CADILLAC

I don't think I have heard this one. I know Flash Cadillac was in "American Graffiti", and that's all.

33. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" / ELTON JOHN

I shudder to think what Tal's parody may be, but I have been warned. Anyway, good duet, and it beats anything Elton did on his "Duets" album. Which, if I am not mistaken, Kiki's part on that album was done by Rupaul. Excuse me while I puke.

32. "Muskrat Love" - CAPTAIN & TENNILLE

Terrible song, originally done by a decent band - America! The only good thing to say about this song is that it inspired the hilarious "Hamster Love" by Big Daddy a year later.

31. "Best Disco in Town" / RITCHIE FAMILY

I don't remember this one either. Must not have been that good.

30. "Get the Funk Outta My Face" / BROTHERS JOHNSON

Cool song I had forgotten about. The Brothers were pretty good, the only problem is being in EW&F's shadow. Hell, I'll take them both.

29. "It's Okay" / THE BEACH BOYS

You're screwed up in the head, your father is the dictator type, you've done too much acid, your drummer hung out with Charles Manson, your bandmate Mike Love got obsessed in meditation, you've worked with Daryl Dragon (see Captain & Tennille above)... but it's okay, right? WRONG.

28. "Nadia's Theme" / DEVORZON & BOTKIN

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the... OOPS, wrong soap opera! By the way, uh, this song sucks, to quote Butthead. Heh Heh.

27. "You Are the Woman" / FIREFALL

Made up of second-rate members of Spirit (Mark Andes) and the Burritos (Rick Roberts). Still, this song is OK, but their 15 minutes expired pretty quick.

26. "One Love in My Life" / DIANA ROSS

Herself. By far, the most overrated female soul singer of all time. She had more good songs in her 10 years with the Supremes than in the 36 years as a solo artist. And even at that, a Supremes anthology is all you need.

25. "Summer" / WAR

Great song from a great band.

24. "Fernando" / ABBA

Once again, I like this song. Not my favorite ABBA song, but still, a good pop song.

23. "Love So Right" / BEE GEES

The "Main Course" album is a great pop album that dabbled in that great Miami sound (see KC & Sunshine Band). This is where they took it too far.

22. "With Your Love" / JEFFERSON STARSHIP

The Airplane/Starship is a perfect example of artists that faced a curse that has afflicted a lot of the greats: early peak, long & depressing deterioration. The peak was from 1967-1969. The deterioration was from 1970-1991. 2 year peak, 21 year deterioration. What's wrong with this picture? The bottom line is that this band didn't know when to give it up until no one would sign them anymore. By the way, this song sucked.

21. "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" / GORDON LIGHTFOOT

Great, great song. One of my favorites on this list.

In the words of Johnny Carson, "more to come..."

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