It's Top 20 time here on the 1977 Hideaway 100 and, if you're like me, you are more than ready for this thing to be over. Now that the end is in sight, I'm a little giddy. It's been a lot of fun listening to 45s and LPs from 1977, reading issues of Song Hits and Rolling Stone from 1977 and listening to American Top 40 shows (SHUCKATOOM!) from 1977. Tangentially related to the 1977 Hideaway 100 project has been watching a steady diet of films that were released in 1977 including:
- Slap Shot
- Smokey and The Bandit
- The Spy Who Loved Me
- Annie Hall
- The Kentucky Fried Movie
- High Anxiety
- Oh, God!
- The Gauntlet
- Black Sunday
- Bad News Bears in Breaking Training
- Grand Theft Auto
- Saturday Night Fever
- Star Wars
And I'm hoping to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the floor to ceiling, wall to wall XD screen at my local Cinemark Theater around Labor Day. I also started then abandoned about a half a dozen other titles anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes in. But we ain't here to talk cinema - we here for numbers 20-11 of the 1977 Hideaway 100.
The first time I heard "How Deep Is Your Love" was maybe a week before Halloween 1977. I do not recall what my costume was that year or even if I went trick or treating. I know I was Evel Knievel a couple of times and a football player another year. And The Incredible Hulk, too. Knievel and Hulk were those plastic masks that came in a box with a costume. The harmonies of the Brothers Gibb are something special and "How Deep Is Your Love" is a magnificent example of their special chemistry. Hearing it in glorious FM stereo on American Top 40 with all of the song's lush instrumentation and smooth vocals on full display kind of ruined hearing it on WLS for me. I really didn't want to like the song but it wore me down after just a few listens. At that point in time, the song stood on its own merits as there was no context - my folks took us to see Saturday Night Fever around New Year's 1978 (Mom apparently thought it was rated PG) and Dad drove us off base into town immediately afterward to Pamida, I think, leaving Mom and us in the running Chevelle while he ran inside and picked up the soundtrack album. By that time, "Stayin' Alive" was racing up the charts maybe just having cracked the Top 40 itself while "How Deep Is Your Love" had ended Debby Boone's record-setting ten-week reign at Number One in Billboard. "How Deep Is Your Love" was also Number One on WLS and in Cashbox though it only made it to number 2 in Record World.
My infatuation with the Sylvers lasted for three singles ("Boogie Fever", "Hot Line" and "High School Dance"), two albums: Showcase (1975) and Something Special (1976) and just under a hundred television appearances performing those three songs. The eight-member group of siblings (five brothers, three sisters) fascinated younger me to no end with their high energy. I may have exaggerated the number of televised performances the group made but not by much as they were everywhere though sometimes they would appear without one of their sisters. During the brief three-year period I was their #1 Fan in Rantoul, Illinois, The Sylvers appeared on The Sonny & Cher Show, Soul Train (several times), The Rich Little Show, Donny & Marie, The Mac Davis Show, The Captain & Tennille, American Bandstand (several times) and The Midnight Special among others. "High School Dance" is my favorite of the three songs I mentioned earlier and I was fortunate enough to find the single mere days before I left for the Summer as it was my favorite song at the time and due to this quirk in timing, it might very well be my least played 45. One of the last Ronco compilation albums Dad bought was called Superstars! (1978) which has "High School Dance" on it with maybe five or six of my other favorite songs from 1977. Was actually thinking about submitting a request to Pete "DJDiscoCat" Sears last year to work his magnificent Disco Purrfection magic on "High School Dance" when he surprised me with just such a mix in March 2016. On WLS, "Boogie Fever" and " Hot Line" had topped out at numbers 2 and 1, respectively; "High School Dance" peaked at number 17. In Billboard, it also peaked at 17. It was number 13 in Cashbox and number 11 in Record World.
Dad loved this album, Uncle Sam loved this album and so consequently I love this album. It has never left my regular rotation since I first ordered my own copy of Hotel California from Columbia House circa 1980 as part of my long-lost list of Every Album A Student from the Class of 1984 Should Own. (Feel free to chime in with your own submissions in the Comments below.) We received a reading list at the end of the eighth grade so I thought why not a listening list? The "Hotel California" 45 runs 6:08 according to the label while the album version is listed at 6:31 though I really don't hear a difference and it just doesn't seem worth it to time each one. We used to have a classic rock radio station here in Tucson on the dial at 104.1 KKHG - The Hog - in the mid-Nineties. There was a brief write-up in the paper about it coming and playing up the uniqueness of the station's ownership group as they were all female. I tuned in on the announced Friday and was greeted by "Hotel California" for the whole day. The next day "Stairway To Heaven" was added to the mix and the two songs alternated all day long. On Sunday, "Free Bird" joined the other two songs completing the classic rock holy trinity. When my alarm went off at 6:00 AM that Monday, I was expecting to hear one of those three tunes and was not disappointed as it was the tail end of "Hotel California". Then there was a station ID, the first I'd heard all weekend, and the opening of "Born To Be Wild". By the time I got out of the shower, another song was playing and then I heard a DJ and I guess the promotion was over. "Hotel California" hit number 3 on WLS's Forty-fives chart in May 1977. It peaked at Number One in Billboard, Cashbox and Record World.
It blows my mind that Smokey and the Bandit hit theaters the same weekend as Star Wars - Memorial Day Weekend 1977. If memory serves they were the two movies playing at the two screen theater in town that weekend and many weekends to come. Our family actually went to see Smokey and the Bandit that Friday night but it was sold out so we saw Star Wars instead and caught The Bandit the next morning. And it still boggles my mind that while the classical theme to Star Wars rightfully flew up the charts, "East Bound And Down", the unofficial theme from Smokey and the Bandit couldn't break onto any chart that didn't say Country Singles at the top. I don't recall ever hearing that song on the radio at all until hearing it on The Roadhouse or Outhouse or Outlaw or some such station on Sirius before we swore off the radio for good more or less when we got iPods. (And you can bet your sweet bippy that "East Bound And Down" was one of the first songs on my iPod.) Great driving song, though you may experience a heavy foot while listening. I do have a faint memory of hearing "East Bound And Down" on the Cow Talk Jukebox late in the Summer of 1977 though it might be more wishful thinking than something that actually happened. Not even my beloved WLS played the song - at least not while I was listening.
The Hutchinson Sisters aka Emotions can throw down some great harmony, their sweet voices complementing one another like only sisters can. And though they had been recording since the late Sixties beginning with two albums for the legendary Volt label, it wasn't until they switched labels and Maurice White signed on to produce them that they scored their second Top 40 hit on the Pop chart: "Best of My Love". Featuring White's brothers Verdine and Fred locking down the rhythm on bass and drums respectively and the much-vaunted EWF Horns brightening up the track to the point it literally leaps out of the speaker and blinds you with all of its funky goodness. This is a great song to wake up to every morning. Or start your movie with. Unsurprisingly, "Best Of My Love" was Number One in Record World, Cashbox, Billboard and on WLS.
Dad was named after his father (as am I), who left his wife and infant son shortly after returning from his service as a tank driver in World War II. The eighteen-year old woman who would become my Grandma quickly found another WWII veteran, also a former tank driver, to marry and within seven short years, Dad had two brothers, two sisters, and a new last name. His youngest brother, Sam, was coincidentally born on Dad's ninth birthday and continued to tease him his whole life that he was the best birthday gift (Dad) ever had. My Uncle Sam was eleven years old when I was born and I spent more time with him than any of my other aunts or uncles while growing up. He was almost like the big brother I never had. He dressed cool, talked cool, walked cool, had great taste in music, great taste in women and great taste in cars. Almost every Summer I spent in Navasota, Texas, Sam was there, sleeping in a bed down the hall. He took me to the movies and even gave me a couple of great-paying character-building jobs for a few summers, first as a sand blaster and then as a fence builder. Uncle Sam listened exclusively to eight-track tapes - he had a yellow Weltron Space Ball eight-track deck on his dresser and every car he ever owned, from the baby blue 1973 Gran Torino he shared with Aunt Judy to his burgundy 1976 Cutlass Supreme and his silver 1981 Camaro, had an eight-track deck in it. It was in that Cutlass that I first heard "Barracuda" early in the Summer of 1977 when Uncle Sam took the shrink wrap off his newly purchased Little Queen tape, removed the cardboard sleeve and threw it out his open window (this was well before Don't Mess With Texas $500 fine for littering), slammed the tape into the deck and cranked the volume. When I came back to Rantoul at Summer's end, WLS was playing the crap out of "Barracuda" and I'm pretty sure my Dad ending up getting Little Queen on vinyl a short time later as he was a Heart fan from Dreamboat Annie. I know I didn't buy a copy of my own until after we moved to Tucson in 1981. Still love "Barracuda" especially at high-resolution and near-max volume (20 on a 25 scale) with windows down in The Blueberry. The drums flat-out gallop, the guitar just snarls while Ann and I sing our freakin' lungs out. "Barracuda" clawed its way up to number 11 in Billboard and Record World, 10 in Cashbox and 6 on WLS.
As I may have mentioned before, I am an only child... except for my little sister, who came along a little over three years after I did and though we were both born in Air Force Base Hospitals in Texas, we were born nearly four hundred miles apart. Although Andrew Gold's "Lonely Boy" got my attention with its cowbell and syncopated piano opening, I gradually came to realize the lyrics kinda sorta expressed the resentment I felt toward my sister even at the ripe old age of eleven. I like to joke with my counselor that the song was my first therapy session. I bought the 45 shortly after first hearing it on WLS, where it rose to number 2. "Lonely Boy" went to number 3 in Cashbox, number 6 in Record World and number 7 in Billboard.
Nowhere is Hall & Oates reverence for Philly Soul more apparent than in the song that opens their album Bigger Than The Both Of Us: "Back Together Again". Oates wrote it and handles most of the vocals and it is my all-time favorite song by the duo bar none. There is a 45 issued in RCA's Gold Standard reissue campaign that features "Rich Girl" on one side and "Back Together Again" on the flip. I only mention this because that single would also make my dream jukebox. It might have been a little too soulful, a little too Philly-sounding for WLS as it only made it to number 32 on their Forty-fives chart. According to ARSA, the student radio station at Eastern Montana College in Billings, Montana, KEMC had "Back Together Again" as their Number One 45 for the month of June 1977. It peaked at number 28 in Billboard and Record World but made it to number 25 in Cashbox.
Eric Carmen hasn't fared too well thus far in the 1977 Hideaway 100. That all changes right here and now with "She Did It". Maybe it's the Beach Boys sounding backing vocals featuring Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. Or maybe it's the way Carmen sings the song like a smitten missionary spreading the gospel of his love instead of His Love. Maybe it's the music, which sounds of the time yet has a throwback quality to it as well. I loved this song for weeks in the Fall of 1977. Took me much longer to find the 45 than I would have liked but it was so worth it. Later got the song on K-Tel's Music Magic album as well. I wish I had a great story to go along with this great song but I don't. I loved it from the first time I heard it, bought it as soon as I saw it and still enjoy listening to it in 2017. "She Did It" peaked at number 27 in Record World, number 23 in Billboard, number 15 in Cashbox and number 6 on WLS, Chi-ca-go.
The very first draft of the 1977 Hideaway 100 had three songs from The Bay City Rollers: "Dedication", "The Way I Feel Tonight" and "You Made Me Believe In Magic". The second draft started off with the same three though "Dedication", my least favorite of the three, was tossed to make room for some songs I had forgotten about. But as that list 2.0 grew unwieldy and contained more than 100 songs so I scrapped it altogether and started a third version of the list from the ground up. "The Way I Feel Tonight" was the last song cut to get the list down to 100 songs so I guess you could call it number 101 but at that point, the songs hadn't been ranked yet. "You Made Me Believe In Magic" was the Rollers entry into the Disco Derby and it fits the part as Les swoons then croons while strings and horns weave pop magic on a scale - and please correct me if I am wrong on this - that hasn't been heard since Jigsaw's "Sky High". You may not have a third favorite Bay City Rollers song (or even a first favorite) but "You Made Me Believe In Magic" is mine, right behind "Money Honey" and "Rock and Roll Love Letter". As much as I used to hear it on WLS, I would have guessed it was Number One hit but it peaked in the runner-up slot behind a song we'll feature in the final part of our countdown as we feature the Top 10. And speaking of Top 10, "You Made Me Believe in Magic" was a Top 10 hit across the board in the trades, going number 10 in Billboard, number 9 in Record World and number 7 in Cashbox.