Welcome to chapter two of the 1977 Hideaway 100, a countdown of my favorite songs from that year. Just a quick note about the lyrical excerpts above each song: They represent my favorite parts of the song and may be edited. Today, we're counting down numbers 90-81.
"Way Down" and Moody Blue were falling way down on the charts when Elvis took his final curtain call but then proceeded to race back up. I noticed Elvis's singing voice sounded different than it had in the past but didn't really care because the hook of the song for me was the bass voice of J.D. Sumner singing "Way down" and "Way on down" at the end of the chorus. The song got bunches of plays on the Cow Talk jukebox in the Summer of 1978 as his loyal subjects continued to mourn and grieve their beloved King. The poignant B-Side, a cover of Johnny Ace's own posthumously released hit "Pledging My Love" also got more than a few spins. Billboard lacked a Catalog Albums chart then and the chart rules and guidelines of the time kept Elvis records from dominating the charts the way Michael Jackson and later Prince did after the surprise endings to their recording careers. "Way Down" was one of thirty Number Ones on the constantly churning Country chart in 1977 and made it to number 18 in Billboard, number 25 in Cashbox and number 10 in Record World. WLS apparently did not add the song to their playlist.
Though my mind is fuzzy, I wanna say that this song was the talk of school one Monday in late May as we fifth-graders excitedly discussed "Do You Wanna Make Love" after hearing it individually yet en masse during the previous day's broadcast of American Top 40. "Did you hear what he said?" was the most frequently asked question as our undeveloped minds grasped that "make love" was the equivalent of "the sex" that was still such an elusive mystery to us. I surreptitiously purchased the single that June, only showing my folks the single's B-Side "Right Time Of The Night" which had been a hit for Jennifer Warnes earlier in the year. I've always enjoyed the way McCann's delivery becomes more impassioned and urgent as he goes through the verses and hits the chorus. "Do You Wanna Make Love" made it to number 4 on WLS, 5 in Billboard, 7 in Record World and 9 in Cashbox.
Very few artists rose or fell as far as quickly as Peter Frampton did in 1976, 1977 and 1978. His Frampton Comes Alive! set the multi-platinum standard in live double albums and delivered him to superstardom after four solo albums. His follow-up album didn't stand a chance yet the title track "I'm In You" became his biggest-selling highest-charting single while the album only sold a small fraction of his previous album despite going Platinum. Then in 1978, he filmed Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, was in a horrific auto accident and no one has heard from him since. (Of course, I kid - he's still touring and recording.) I liked this pretty song a lot though many of my classmates made fun of the lyrics. Peter's guitar work is up to par in a brief solo as well. Another relaxing track for me. "I'm In You" sounded fantastic on WLS (a rare compliment) where it climbed up to number 2 behind Alan O'Day's "Undercover Angel", a song which will appear eventually here on the 1977 Hideaway 100. "I'm In You" was number 3 in Record World, 2 in Billboard and Number One in Cashbox.
Stephen Bishop's "On And On" is more of a favorite now than it was in 1977 and I like listening to it on sunny days though it's not really a sunny song. It's a tale of heartbreak though it avoids the self-pity and wraps it in an island-tinged rhythm telling the stories of three couples going through breakups. The lyrical subject matter didn't keep "On And On" from going to number 5 in Cashbox, 8 on WLS, 10 in Record World and 11 in Billboard.
"We Just Disagree" never really made much of an impression on me until I was in my thirties partly because the shimmering twelve-string guitar was more than likely lost in the muddy AM mix coming through my radio as I listened to WLS. Another break-up song though much more personal than observational than this time around with harmony vocals ironically singing about the disharmony in a relationship as the two protagonists come to terms with their changing roles. This was all over the eleven-year-old me's head which was more than likely the main reason I never got it. "We Just Disagree" peaked at number 25 on WLS, 21 in Record World, 15 in Cashbox and 12 in Billboard.
Shaun Cassidy came into our lives the usual way via the radio, TV and so so many magazine covers. My little sister was eight years old in 1977, spent her monies on 16, Tiger Beat, Teen Beat and the like and was absolutely cuckoo for Shaun Cassidy. When she heard he was coming to Chicago, a mere 121-mile drive from our home in Rantoul, she begged our parents for weeks to take her to his concert. They never relented and so on the day of the show, she ran away from home and they let her get a couple blocks down the sidewalk - never out of their sight - before going after her. For me, Cassidy was Joe Hardy the singing boy detective which was my dream job for a while. He sang songs you could clap and sing-along to and, if memory serves, he may well have been the first artist my sister and I both liked. I believe the 45 of "Da Doo Ron Ron" was her first 45 but she is unable to confirm this memory of mine. While a lot of people grow up with an older sibling that introduces them to good music, I borrowed my younger sister's Shaun Cassidy records shortly after she got them before they got too scratched. "Da Do Ron Ron" was a gender reversal of the classic Crystals track with "Bill" becoming "Jill" and walked all the way home to the Number One spot in Billboard, Cashbox, Record World and on WLS.
Ted Nugent was the self-proclaimed Motor City Madman and, like the bands KISS and Rush, pretty much exclusive to the big kids until "Cat Scratch Fever" hit the Top 40 in the Fall of 1977. I was a bit of a Nugent fan and have always thought this track paired well with Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" as they both had kitties in the lyrics, monster riffs, and a swaggering backbeat. Ted lost me as a fan after he appeared on the "Definitely Miami" episode of Miami Vice, going toe to toe with Sonny Crockett and no one was happier than me to watch him die from multiple gunshots. But then his song "Little Miss Dangerous" opened the episode of the same name just three weeks later in January 1986 and I bought the album of the same name that Spring. Back in 1977 though, "Cat Scratch Fever" clawed its way up to 32 on WLS, 30 in Billboard, 21 in Cashbox and 20 in Record World.
Now that I can appreciate such things with an experienced ear and an experienced heart, I regret not being a fan of Rita's back in the Seventies, she's got such a great voice. "We're All Alone" is a fantastic cover of the Boz Scaggs track and I can guarantee you we have not heard the last of Coolidge here on the 1977 Hideaway 100. This track is another one of those peaceful easy feeling tracks that have become so vital in maintaining my sanity. Music is my drug of choice. Unless I am trying to get to sleep and then it's music and melatonin. "We're All Alone" was number 4 in Record World, number 5 in Cashbox and on WLS, and number 7 in Billboard.
If we were to make a list of underrated artists of the Seventies and Eighties, I'd nominate Little River Band on the spot. They could play, they could sing and they wrote magnificent songs like "Help Is On Its Way". It's got a great bassline and that ringing guitar lick grabs my attention as well but it's the lead vocals from Glenn Shorrock as well as the backing harmonies from guitarists Goble and Birtles that seal the deal. Note to self: add more vitamin LRB to daily listening. Just about anything from the three albums they released between 1977 and 1979 will do. "Help Is On Its Way" found relief at number 19 on WLS, 18 in Record World and number 14 in both Cashbox and Billboard.
Jimmy Buffett writes a decent lyric, tells a good story, apparently puts on a great show and has parlayed it all into a spot among the dozen or so richest musicians on the planet, ahead of Ringo, both Jagger & Richards, Springsteen, and Stingsteen. "Margaritaville" is a good song, my second favorite of Buffett's after "Come Monday", though when I sing the lyric above I say there's fruit in the blender because I have a cherry yogurt smoothie every other day for breakfast. Love the rhyme scheme in the song, too: beauty/cutie, oil/boil, blender/render, tattoo/clue, salt/fault, flop/top, etc. He should sell an Official Jimmy Buffett Rhyming Dictionary at his concerts and restaurants. It's another sunny day song for me, another breakup song dressed up in a musical disguise but the coolest thing about it is how the protagonist comes to accept his role in the breakup verse by verse, first by proclaiming it's nobody's fault then saying it could be his fault before resigning himself to the sobering realization that it is indeed his own damn fault. "Margaritaville" sailed up to number 9 in Record World, number 8 on WLS and in Billboard and number 7 in Cashbox.