Chart Flashback: Hot 100 Debuts - Forty Years Ago Today

One of the great joys of listening to old episodes of American Top 40 is when a string of hits seems to be in the perfect order or at least all songs that you really love, not a clunker in the bunch.  Everyone has their preferences and my man jb has documented more than a few examples of this rare and beautiful phenomenon on his site The Hits Just Keep On Comin'.  Even rarer are groups of songs outside the Top 40 that are easy to love.  The final chart of 1975, dated 40 years ago today, has several such groups of songs for me, including the entire Top 10.  Pretty sure my favorite song back then was either "Convoy" (#7 on its way to #1 two weeks later) or "Saturday Night" (#2 before becoming the first #1 song of 1976).
Based on my ciphering, I owned nearly a third - maybe 30 - of that week's Hot 100 on 45 but I can't be sure if I owned them all that week or not.  Other interesting chart notes:
  • Between 49 and 57, there are three ride-along songs: "Low Rider" (#49), "Free Ride" (#55) and "Slow Ride" (#57)
  • Two songs about Saturday Night on each end of chart: Bay City Rollers up at #2 and John Fogerty's "Almost Saturday Night" down at #78 in its third week on the chart
  • A total of sixteen songs with the word Love in the title were spread all over the chart, with two in the Top 10 and an additional three making their debut in the bottom quarter of that week's chart

That week's class of chart debuts looked like this:

70Let The Music PlayBarry White3:25
73Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)Bee Gees3:26
77Love Or LeaveSpinners3:28
81Break AwayArt Garfunkel3:35
82Sweet LoveCommodores3:20
85December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)The Four Seasons3:21
86I Cheat The HangmanThe Doobie Brothers6:34
87The White KnightCledus Maggard and the Citizen’s Band3:57
89Love Is The DrugRoxy Music3:58

  • A welcome to the party jam with White's trademark orchestration and rare lovelorn lyrics about being without his lady, "Let The Music Play" got zero airplay on WLS back then so I wasn't aware of it until many years later while amassing my Barry White collection.  I like it now but I doubt nine year old me would have cared for it much.
  • The same would apply to the Bee Gees "Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)" though it was a Top 10 song on WLS.  Didn't care for it much back then but now consider it a favorite.  Still so very hard to imagine the Bee Gees before the whole Saturday Night Fever juggernaut changed things forever.
  • The ultimatum "Love Or Leave" by the Spinners was also a no-show on WLS airwaves in 1975-1976.  Despite a sing-songy melody and some distorted guitar fuzz along with some syntheized beeps and blurps, the song barely limped into the Top 40 while making the Top 10 on the R&B chart even though it was the follow-up to their smash "Games People Play", which also happens to be jb's favorite single of all-time.
  • Art Garfunkel's "Break Away" would have sounded awesome on the FM station WRLW that my parents listened to and for all I know it was played often.  It was not on WLS so it was new to me nearly a decade later when I first heard it at a friend's house.  It is soft rock goodness for sure.
  • Speaking of new to me songs, it was slightly less than a decade after it came out before I heard the full album-length version of "Sweet Love" with Reverend Richie's sermon at the 4:40 mark of the more than six minute song.  Still, the abbreviated single version was more than enough for nine year old me to sing-along to when no one was around having no idea what differentiated sweet love from regular old love.
  • Mom gave me a collection of my report cards this Summer, a couple were missing but otherwise I had my entire scholastic history from 1970-1984, from pre-school at the Little Red School House in Dover, Delaware (where I got a "+" under "Napping") through high school (where I received no judgment on my napping ability which had no doubt had grown immensely over the 13 years since pre-school).  The report cards revealed to me four schools I attended that I had absoluelty no memory of.  As Dad was in the Air Force, we moved frequently and often, the moves interrupted my schooling so there are several years where I attended 2, 3 or even 4 different schools in different states in a single school year.  I had always thought we had moved to Rantoul in the Summer of 1975 and I started at Maplewood Elementary School that fall.  Turns out I didn't start school there until the second quarter.  Short story long, I got a late Christmas/early Birthday gift in January or February 1976 when Mom and Dad took me to Bergner's Department store in Champaign and bought me a Soundesign all-in-one stereo system: AM/FM radio, turntable and eight track.  They also let me pick out one 45 and I went with "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)" which at that time was my favorite song.  It remains the only 45 I have from this group of debuting singles.
  • My Uncle Sam was eleven years older than me and in some ways the big brother I never had.  He was a huge music fan like his brother my Dad and I remember him having the Doobie Brothers Stampede 8-track tape sitting on his dresser, next to his yellow space helmet shaped 8-track player. Also in that particular stack of 8-tracks: Bad Company's Straight Shooter and War's Why Can't We Be Friends?  Never, ever heard "I Cheat the Hangman" on the radio, though.
  • "The White Knight" was another attempt to cash in n the C.B. Radio craze of the mid-Seventies.  My dad installed a new 8-track/C.B. Radio combo in his 1968 Chevelle sometime in 1975-1976.  While I don't remember his handle, I do remember my Texas Grandma's - it was "Red Snapper"  Dad also had this album and now I have it.  I do not recall hearing anywhere other than when Dad was playing it.  In case you were wondering, I did buy the C.W. McCall album Black Bear Road which contained the quintessential C.B. song "Convoy" - it was among my first selections from RCA Music Club.  If you're still wondering, Dad also bought Rod Hart's Breakeroo! album which contained "C.B. Savage", the less of which is said the better:

  • Roxy Music's proto-disco "Love Is The Drug" did get some airplay on WLS but I am as certian as I can possibly be that I first fell in love with the song when I heard it on the episode of America's Top 40 that aired on February 21, 1976 where it leapt up from number 41 to number 37 in its ninth week on the Hot 100.  (To my chagrin, Casey and his producer opted to cover the bottom 50 of 1975's Top 100 Songs on his December 27, 1975 show.)
Here's those songs ended up on the Hot 100:

1December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)The Four Seasons3:21
5Sweet LoveCommodores3:20
12Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)Bee Gees3:26
19The White KnightCledus Maggard and the Citizen’s Band3:57
30Love Is The DrugRoxy Music3:58
32Let The Music PlayBarry White3:25
36Love Or LeaveSpinners3:28
39Break AwayArt Garfunkel3:35
60I Cheat The HangmanThe Doobie Brothers6:34

And here's the Top 10 from December 27, 1975:

1 comment:

  1. "Fanny Be Tender" is also a favorite Bee Gees tune of mine. Then again, I love most of their catalog from the disco era.