40 Years Ago Today: WLS Music Survey - January 8, 1977

In 1977, January 8th fell on a Saturday. As a ten-year-old fifth-grader at Maplewood Elementary School in Illinois, I more than likely spent that morning watching cartoons because that was what I did back then and though I wasn't able to confirm it, I'm pretty sure we had just finished that all-important first week back to school after Christmas vacation, where we all wore our snazzy new clothes, stealthily brought in our smaller toys to show off while bragging about the bigger toys we may or may not have had at home. One thing I did not have at home was a KISS album. Strictly forbidden by most parents (including my own very progressive and open-minded Mom and Dad), they were, of course, the most popular thing amongst my age group in the Winter of 1977, soon to be eclipsed by Star Wars action figures and Atari/Sears home video game systems. The kids that had high-school age siblings became the most popular kids in school once word got around that they had one or more KISS records in their house(s).
On Billboard's album chart dated January 8, 1977, KISS had four albums in the Top 200, the same amount the Beatles had, with Rock and Roll Over sitting highest at number 15, above all four of those Beatles albums. And though they were playing the ballad "Beth" a lot on WLS (or more accurately I was hearing it a lot when I listened between the hours of 4-8 most days after school), KISS albums occupied three of the positions on the week's Thirty-threes chart in anticipation of the band's show on January 22nd with opener Uriah Heep.
Albums debuting on WLS's Thirty-threes chart that week: Foghat's Night Stiff Shift (1976); Barry Manilow's third album Tryin' To Get The Feeling (1975) and Aerosmith's destined to be classic Toys In The Attic (1975). Your eyes are not deceiving you - two of those albums, originally released in 1975, were entering the WLS chart. Again. The Thirty-threes chart did not debut in its thirty-three position format until December 27, 1975; prior to that date, it was limited to a Top 10.
On December 27, 1975, Tryin' To Get The Feeling debuted on that first Thirty-threes chart and stayed there for a solid thirty-three weeks. Manilow, fresh from a twelve-day stand on Broadway in December 1976 (recorded for his 1977 album Live!) was already on the Thirty-threes chart with This One's For You and on the cusp of a string of upcoming dates at the storied Chicago Auditorium that saw a brief four-week buying frenzy for Tryin' To Get The Feeling in January 1977 before the album once again fell off the chart only to re-chart yet again in mid-March 1977 for a final fifteen week stay.
Toys In The Attic had originally debuted on the Thirty-threes chart back in October 1975 and enjoyed a thirty-seven-week stay, including twenty-two consecutive weeks spent at either number 6, 7 or 8 on the survey during the chart's Top 10 format. The album's resurgence in early 1977 can be linked to the belatedly released "Walk This Way" single climbing the Forty-fives chart at the end of 1976 and into the first few months of 1977.
Quick! Name the three acts that each had a pair of singles on the week's Forty-fives chart. Barry Manilow is there at numbers 43 and 5 followed by the Bay City Rollers at numbers 36 and 31. The third act? Steve Miller with "Fly Like An Eagle" at number 37 and "Rock'N Me" at number 26. I owned one of the Rollers records and the latter Miller platter at the time and my best guess would have me owning an additional ten of the singles on the Forty-fives chart that week. Among the Forty-fives I didn't own were these three, each making their debut that week:
If the Forty-fives chart represented all the records in my favorite jukebox, I'd say that maybe nine or ten of them would get no plays at all from me back then. Those jukebox copies of numbers 3, 4, 13, 14, 25, 28, 33, 41 and 44 would remain in pristine condition and maybe gather a little dust while the other thirty-six records would generate repeated plays.
The flip-side of the week's survey featured the Big 89 of '76 as well as the Top 20 Albums and the listener voted WLS musicradio survey awards for the year including Best Male award winner Barry Manilow, who finished with three singles in the Big 89 and two albums in the Top 20.

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