This is it! The topper-most of the popper-most, the final ten percent of the 1977 Hideaway 100 - the last ten songs in our slow and steady climb up from number 100. How about a quick review of the previous ninety songs?
Thanks for coming along on the journey. On your mark, get set, GO!
Ah, "The Things We Do For Love". A very unique sounding track among the other songs on the radio when I first heard it back in early 1977 so of course I had to have it. Miles away from the previous year's "I'm Not In Love", the only other 10cc song I knew at the time. I was still ten years old in early 1977 and more than a few months away from having my first "girlfriend" as a sixth-grader that fall. I don't remember girls being any sort of issue at all in fifth grade - we played chase on the playground, competed to get the better grades in class and that was it. Thematically, an older me would come to view "The Things We Do For Love" as an ancillary to Percy Sledge's devastatingly definitive thesis on the subject "When A Man Loves A Woman", a laundry list of the sacrifices we make and foolish behaviour we feel compelled to do in the name of love. Whereas Percy highlights the pain of such actions with a downbeat track, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman wrap them up in an upbeat, easy-to-sing-along-with package. And though it sounds like maybe a dozen voices in the background vocals, it's just Stewart and Gouldman over-dubbed and multi-tracked to infinity and beyond. (At least when they did "I'm Not in Love" they had Godley & Creme lending their voices as well.) "The Things We Do For Love" later appeared on two K-Tel compilations from 1977 currently enjoying their semi-retirement on The Vinyl Wall behind me: Stars and The Pure Gold Collection. As I would have expected from hearing it constantly (and it really has a great introduction), "The Things We Do For Love" was a Number One song on WLS's Forty-fives chart for two weeks - the final week of March and the first week of April. The song's lyrics are actually printed on the back of that April survey; Vol. 19, No. 26 for those of you playing along at home. The song peaked at number 3 in Record World, 4 in Cashbox and 5 in Billboard.
I've never made any apologies for my love affair with "You Light Up My Life" and apparently I wasn't alone back then as it set a record for spending ten weeks at Number One on the Hot 100 from October 15, 1977, through December 17, 1977, and holding off four different songs that surely would have topped the chart otherwise:
- KC & the Sunshine Band - "Keep It Comin' Love"
- Carly Simon - "Nobody Does It Better"
- Heatwave - "Boogie Nights"
- Crystal Gayle - "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue"
Over on WLS, "You Light Up My Life" rose higher, faster and burned out quicker, spending just seven weeks atop the Forty-fives chart from October 8, 1977, through November 19, 1977. The song's lyrics appear on that first survey listed - Vol. 17, No 53. I related the story of how Boone's sanctioned cover competed against and ultimately relegated the official soundtrack release to the cutout bin HERE if you're interested in such things. In 1979, Bette Midler released "The Rose", another song that affected me the same way that "You Light Up My Life" does and those two tracks will be forever linked deep within the synapses of my mind. (Rihanna's equally beautiful "Stay" has joined those two songs from the Seventies to form a trio of glorious piano-based ballads that never fail to heighten my level of emotional sensitivity.) "You Light Up My Life" likewise topped the singles charts in Cashbox and Record World.
"Ooh Child", a cover version of the Five Stairsteps original, was the only single released from Valerie Carter's debut solo album, the beautifully fragile and delicately gorgeous Just A Stone's Throw Away. But none of that matters. The album got universally positive reviews, little to no airplay and barely made it to number 182 on Billboard's Top LPs and Tapes chart in an all too brief five-week stay. "Ooh Child" spent five weeks Bubbling Under The Hot 100, topping out at number 103 for one week in April. In 1979, director Jonathan Kaplan used Carter's "Ooh Child" as the closing track for his film Over The Edge after failing to secure the rights to his more obvious first choice, The Who's "Baba O'Riley". The movie's soundtrack album features four tracks from Cheap Trick, two from The Cars and one each from Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Little Feat and the Ramones. Closing out the album just like the film was Valerie Carter's "Ooh Child". I watched Over The Edge one night in the basement on HBO and fell in love with the soundtrack, especially that closing song but could never find the soundtrack in stores - no one had heard of it. In 1980 or maybe 1981, I found a Canadian pressing of the soundtrack on cassette in the cut-out bin of a Venture store and bought it on the spot. I later found vinyl copies of both Just a Stone's Throw Away and Over The Edge in other cut-out bins while later picking up the former on CD. I ended up making my own CD-R of the Over The Edge soundtrack, putting "Baba O'Riley" as the opening track and keeping the rest of the tracklisting in order. "Ooh Child" has since become my go-to calming soothing it's alright it's okay song. I love it a thousand fold more today than yesterday and I'll probably love it twice as much tomorrow. I envy those reading this who have never heard Valerie Carter's "Ooh Child" and cannot recommend it highly enough.
I'm thinking I first heard "Isn't It Time" in mind melting stereo on WLRW during American Top 40. And I bought the 45 the following week at the Base Exchange or as we called it, the BX. (The Base grocery store was called the Commissary and the Base police were called the MPs but that's about all the jargon I recall from my days as an Air Force brat.) So I bought "Isn't It Time" home, took it up to my room, shut the door and threw it on the Soundesign turntable, setting it up for automatically repeated plays somehow - there must have been a lever, a button or a switch. So I'm listening to it, loving it on my own little personal stereo system while not playing it above the previously agreed upon limit of 4 on the volume slider, when Dad bursts into the room, slides the volume down to zero and says something along the lines of "There are too many songs you haven't heard yet to be playing the same song over and over again" and leaves. Maybe he had a hard day, a hard week or just didn't like "Isn't It Time". I don't know. From then on out, I did most of my repeat listening with headphones on so as not to incur his wrath. With all due respect to my Dad, the man who deserves most of the credit for turning me onto music in the first place, I still binge to this day. I love the quiet/loud build-up of "Isn't It Time" and the dramatic tension it creates in the song before the chorus comes along and provides relief and it builds all over again. They'd repeat the formula in 1978 with "Every Time I Think Of You" not surprisingly also composed by Conrad and Kennedy. (Ray Kennedy's self-titled David Foster produced 1980 album on Maurice White's ARC imprint features his own version of "Isn't It Time". It was also released as the B-Side of the album's first single "Just For The Moment".) The Baby's "Isn't It Time" peaked at number 8 on WLS and in Cashbox, number 11 in Record World and number 13 in Billboard.
I've been critical of the saxophone on other songs but man oh man I love the sax on "Smoke From A Distant Fire". The whole track is funky smooth with a jazzy feel and soulful vocals so it comes as no surprise it was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Never did pick up the 45 but I have clean, well-cared for copies of all three of the band's albums thanks to a great find just a few years back. "Smoke From A Distant Fire" also appears on two of my K-Tel albums from 1978: Starburst and Super Star Collection. This song always puts me in a good mood despite the "Lyin' Eyes" lyrics and I'm a fan of John Townsend's vocals and Ed Sanford's 'stache. "Smoke From A Distant Fire" peaked at number 9 in Billboard and Cashbox while reaching number 13 in Record World. On WLS, it topped out at number 20 during a twelve-week stay on the Forty-fives chart.
My brief history of "Swayin' To The Music (Slow Dancin')" can be found HERE as part of Summer In Stereo, an epic countdown of My 100 Favorite Summer Songs of All-Time presented over one hundred consecutive days during the Summer of 2014. "Swayin' To The Music (Slow Dancin')" is one of our favorite slow jams in these parts along with the song at number 3. In 2017, the song's writer and original performer (as part of The Funky Kings) Jack Tempchin released Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Songs Of Jack Tempchin, an album of his greatest hits, all newly recorded including several duets. In a fitting albeit unplanned tribute to the 1977 Hideaway 100, Tempchin chose lovely Rita Coolidge(!) to duet with him on "Slow Dancing" with nothing but a piano backing their two well-aged voices. Good stuff. Rivers' "Swayin' To The Music (Slow Dancin')" swayed up to number 11 in Record World, number 10 in Billboard, number 7 on WLS and number 6 in Cashbox.
If you don't like "Sir Duke" we cannot be friends. Seriously. We can even be friends even if you:
- are a smoker/vaper/chewer
- drive a pick-up truck
- are a vegan or vegetarian
- attended Arizona State University
- own a cat
- use a Droid phone
- drink coffee
- are a Steelers, Yankees or Patriots fan
- are an Athiest or Agnostic
- prefer DC to Marvel
- put jelly on your peanut butter sandwich
- or own one or more firearms as is your Second Amendment right
But I draw the line at not liking Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke". The song was Number One on WLS, as well as in Billboard, Cashbox and Record World.
This right here is the stuff. Please give me a few minutes to go see what my special lady is doing and if she can get away for a slow dance while this song plays. I've been wanting to get next to her since I first saw her 34 years ago and fortunately she has reciprocated those feelings for the past 33 years. I'll be right back... Mmm mmm mm. Where was I? Oh yeah. "I Wanna Get Next To You" is a stone cold jam or more specifically a stone cold slow jam for the ages. The lyrical sentiment isn't as endearingly romantic as other high-caliber slow jams like "Always and Forever" or "My Angel Baby" but the music and more importantly Kenny Copeland's impassioned yet vulnerable vocals are what I really like about the song. It doesn't hurt that the song's sync in the Car Wash film is near perfect. "I Wanna Get Next To You" peaked at number 3 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart and number 9 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart. On WLS, the single only made it to number 22 on the Forty-fives chart. "I Wanna Get Next To You" peaked at number 16 in Cashbox, number 10 in Billboard and number 8 in Record World.
"Heaven On The 7th Floor" meant everything to me for a few weeks at the end of 1977. My inability to find the 45 only fueled my obsession with the song but I eventually tracked it down and as usual in such situations, it was not where it belonged, not where it was supposed to be. I love the improbable scenario set forth in the lyrics, the way Nicholas and the background singers put everything they have into their performances and the bubbly disco backing. You know what it reminds me of? The Cowsills singing the theme song to "Love, American Style" to the "Makin' It" beat. One of the greatest episodes ever of American Bandstand aired on Saturday, September 24, 1977, as Debby Boone lip-synced her way through "You Light Up My Life" and then a little later Paul Nicholas came out and pantomimed his way through "Heaven On The 7th Floor". At the time of the airing, the latter song was at number 26 and the former at number 21 on the Hot 100, both on their way up. Just over a month later, on October 29, 1977, Boone and Nicholas would appear on an episode of The Midnight Special hosted by David Soul. By this time, Debby was enjoying her third straight week at Number One and Paul was still working his way up at number 12. Mere days after that show, Nicholas would begin filming his role as Dougie Shears, brother of Billy Shears, portrayed by Peter Frampton, in the film adaptation of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. "Heaven On The 7th Floor" stopped off at number 8 in Record World, number 6 in Billboard, number 5 in Cashbox and number 4 on WLS.
Alan O'Day's "Undercover Angel" is another one of those songs I was singing along to without actually knowing what I was saying though I only heard it a couple times on Casey's American Top 40 before Summer started; to the best of my memory, WLS hadn't even started playing it by then. When I got back to Rantoul that August, WLS was playing the song all the time and it was still on American Top 40. Fortunately, I had earned nearly $100 over the Summer doing odd jobs around Cow Talk and my Grandpa would just give me $5 bills for no reason at all sometimes. So once I decided I wanted a 45, it was usually just a matter of a week or two before I got it. I just needed a ride to the BX or to Pamida or the Market Place Mall in Champaign, which had Musicland and another record store plus Sear's, J.C. Penny's and Bergner's that sold records. I still think the label on the 45 is one of the coolest I've ever seen and while in Vegas about three years ago, I found two more 45s in excellent shape and added them to my collection. By the time I was a teenager a few years later and getting nightly visits from Jaclyn Smith, Lynda Carter, Loni Anderson, Kristy McNichol, Adrienne Barbeau, Donna Summer, Marie Osmond, Valerie Bertinelli, Bo Derek, Racquel Welch and my seventh-grade math teacher, I could relate to some of the song's lyrics. "Undercover Angel" was an unlikely Number One song on WLS and in Cashbox, Record World, and Billboard.