Welcome to the lucky number seven(th) part of the 1977 Hideaway 100, one guy's rambling recount of his one hundred favorite singles released in the calendar year 1977. And while I make a big to-do of calling out each single's chart placement in Billboard, Cashbox, Record World and WLS, their respective positions have no bearing on this list. I tend to writes 'em like I wanna reads 'em: bold info graphics, Spotify links to listen to the music and writing that is both heartfelt and doesn't take it itself too seriously. It's not my first round-up and run down, though it may seem like it at times. Clicking HERE will take you to a page of years and links to explore, comment and critique, including the previous parts of the 1977 Hideaway 100. (Spoiler Alert: the song upcoming at number 9 on the 1977 Hideaway 100 previously appeared on the list of 1978 Soft Rock 45s.) Bottom line: I just want to express my love and always personal relationship with the music. I started HERC's Hideaway to share with my kids, my wife, and my folks. The fact that you're reading The Hideaway is just gravy on the chicken-fried steak of life. Sharing is caring, right? Today I'm sharing songs 40-31 representing Country, Pop, Rock, Disco, and Blues.
Thanks to Dad, I grew up on the music of Glen Campbell. But Dad did not keep up with Campbell's recorded output between 1971-1974 as he was in Nam and any new material could not touch his classic output of 1967-1969. Campbell was a constant presence on television, though, hosting his own musical variety show, appearing on everyone else's musical variety show and as well as hosting awards shows. Then suddenly in 1975, Campbell was back on Top 40 radio with "Rhinestone Cowboy" - Dad bought the album of the same name and I bought the 45. Then Campbell hit again with "Southern Nights" in the Spring of 1977 and once again I bought the 45 and Dad purchased the album of the same name. Millions of other fans, both newly minted as well as dyed-in-the-wool, did the exact same thing as the album and single both achieved Gold status for selling half a million copies each. Campbell has said in interviews that the lyrical imagery, inspired by songwriter Allan Touissaint's original about visiting his grandparents in rural Louisiana, struck a chord with his own upbringing in rural Arkansas. My own upbringing was more small town than rural and Tucson, Arizona (pop. 530,706), where I've thrived for the past 36 years is the largest city I've ever lived in. I spent nearly all of my Summers up through 1981 in small towns like Navasota, Texas (pop. 6789), Pineville, Missouri (pop. 787), and Gurdon, Arkansas (pop. 2137). "Southern Nights" will always remind me of when the lightning bugs came out or traveling down dirt roads with a canopy of trees so thick it barely let the moonlight shine through. And, like every other song we ever shared - and we shared a lot - during our forty-nine years together, it will forever remind me of Dad. On WLS, "Southern Nights" was a Number One song just like "Rhinestone Cowboy" before it. The song was also Number One in Record World, Cashbox and Billboard just as "Rhinestone Cowboy" had been.
It may come of something of a surprise but I discovered the music of Steve Miller not through Dad or the radio but an anonymous neighbor who lived in a house I passed by daily walking to and from Maplewood Elementary School, located just off Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, IL. Such were the times in the late Seventies that unlike every other gate allowing Base entry, the large school gate had no military police. Or adults of any kind. The school custodian (we always called them custodians though I know some call them janitors) would unlock the gate half an hour before the first tardy bell then come back out and lock it fifteen minutes after. Sometimes, after school, the gate would not be unlocked by the time we were dismissed and a dozen or more of us would gather around until the custodian (or sometimes the vice principal) came out with that big jailer's key ring and unlocked it. I do know from experience that it was only unlocked once after school was out before being locked again and if you missed it, you had to go to the office and try to call your folks for a ride. Though both of my parents worked, Dad could usually get away from his job as a flight instructor/simulator technician to come get me and run me home. Our house was maybe a half mile from the school gate and you could plainly see it from our back yard. While taking that short walk home one afternoon, I could hear music coming from one of the houses, particularly from a basement window so I ducked behind a tree and listened to a few songs until I saw my sister walk by and I had to beat her home. We did not walk together. Ever. Though we do now sometimes. As I would later figure out, what I heard was the first few tracks on Side One of Steve Miller's Fly Like An Eagle album. "Swingtown" is from the follow-up album Book Of Dreams and was the third single released from it. It was the fifth Steve Miller single in a row I bought and the lowest charting of the bunch on WLS where it barely cracked the Forty-fives chart at number 38. "Swingtown" finished at number 17 in Billboard, 16 in Record World and 13 in Cashbox. To his credit, Dad jumped on board the Steve Miller with Greatest Hits 1974-78, one of the greatest "greatest hits" albums of all time, which opens with the 45 edit of "Swingtown"!
Like a lot of fans, my introduction to Rod Stweart came via the Every Picture Tells A Story eight-track tape. Or perhaps you heard it on vinyl first; there's a subtle difference in the track listing between the formats not to mention the big KA- CHUNK! sound the eight-track makes in the middle of "I Know (I'm Losing You)". But the results are always the same: you come away a big Rod Stewart fan. And then you either loved him til this day or you dropped him cold turkey when "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" hit. I'm of the former group, the obviously better looking and more intelligent group, because although there have been some missteps and downright awful songs in his career since then, the good handily outweighs the bad and "You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" is a good one, one I've only come to appreciate more and more through the years with my best girl. As a naive child, I probably lumped this one in with "Tonight's The Night" as a love song though now I realize the two songs have two very different sentiments. As he had done with every Stewart album since Every Picture Tells a Story, Dad bought Foot Loose & Fancy Free on eight-track though his favorite track among the ten on the album was the red-hot rocker that opened the album, "Hot Legs". "You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" peaked at number 4 in Billboard and Record World but climbed to number 3 in Cashbox and on WLS.
This turbocharged, pedal to the metal blues with seemingly nonsensical lyrics was very alluring for children. (Bam-ba-lam!) I snatched it on 45 ASAP. (Bam-ba-lam!) Later came to find out that the album version was a minute and a half longer than the 2:32 single version. (Bam-ba-lam!) Thirty years later, the formula repeated itself (somewhat) when I first heard Clutch's "Electric Worry", still, one of my Kenny Powers-level pump up songs a decade later. (Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!) "Black Betty" climbed up to number 2 on WLS but settled at number 18 in Billboard, number 14 in Cashbox and number 13 in Record World. (Vaminos! Vaminos!)
Along with "Black Betty", another song I could imagine myself blasting as I drove down the highway back when I was eleven is "Life In The Fast Lane" by dem Eagles. We'd debate the meaning of the lyrics in the school cafeteria at lunch time: "Terminally pretty means she could kill you with a stare like Medusa" which was wrong on a couple of levels but we had overactive imaginations. "Life In The Fast Lane" is a doozy of a track, a narrative propelled by some tight little bit of country, little bit rock n roll riffs - it's not that hard to imagine Waylon Jennings covering it at a slower pace in his storyteller's voice or a modern bluegrass outfit amping up the energy a bit with a banjo, a fiddle, and a mandolin. The single wasn't released until late Spring or early Summer 1977 but Hotel California had been in our house since Dad brought it home after Christmas 1976 so I knew all of the songs really well - I think "New Kid In Town" was the only song I heard on the radio before hearing it on the album. "Life In The Fast Lane" sped to number 16 in Record World, number 11 in both Billboard and Cashbox but raced to number 8 on WLS.
Even people who didn't like the movie Star Wars liked Meco's "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" though a lot of Star Wars fans who take things way too seriously hated it. A long, long time ago, I probably would have been able to name all the members of the Cantina Band, the instruments they played, the name of the songs they played and the band's real name but I'm just not that into it anymore. And I was into all things Star Trek before that. And then all things Battlestar Galactica - the original series in 1978 and 1979. Now, I just know enough to get by and explain things to my wife if she asks. As much as I enjoy hearing the single version, the twelve-inch version from the "album" Music Inspired by Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, with all the different characters represented by their musical leitmotifs. Meco would hit the Top 40 a few more times with his takes on movie themes new ("Close Encounters Of The Third Kind") and old ("The Wizard Of Oz") before tapping out with a "Pop Goes the Movies" medley in the great Medley Invasion of 1980-1982. "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" made it up to number 2 on WLS's Forty-fives though they listed it as "Star Wars (Disco Version)" on their printed surveys for the duration of its twenty-two-week run I believe. The song was Number One in Billboard, Cashbox and Record World.
The 45 edit of "Jet Airliner" gets right down to business, telling the universal tale of a man regrettably leaving his loved ones to make his way in the world. (Similar themes on songs number 72 and 74 here on the 1977 Hideaway 100.) This is the second of three Steve Miller songs that will appear in this countdown and third of five Steve Miller 45's I scooped up in 1976-1977. I got no problem with the 45 edit even though it lops fifty seconds off the album version and only features the very last note from the intro track "Threshold". No problem at all. "The Joker" gave Miller an identity crisis and he reemerged as the once and future Space Cowboy riding into the Top 40 six times in less than a year and a half, dealing his trippy, spacey blues on first Fly Like An Eagle and then Book Of Dreams in quick succession. If music is my drug and I've admitted as much, then The Steve Miller Band is the really, really good stuff you break out for special occasions and almost never share. "Jet Airliner" landed at number 8 in Billboard, number 7 on WLS and in Record World but flew all the way up to number 3 in Cashbox.
Because we never talked about ELO that I can recall other than their two Fifties-inspired tracks ("Hold On Tight" and "Rock 'N' Roll Is King") from the early Eighties, I cannot say why Dad had the 1976 compilation Olé ELO. Maybe he liked their take on "Roll Over Beethoven" as Berry's original had always been a favorite of his. I just pulled that album and the one right next to it alphabetically, On The Third Day, two of the three ELO albums I inherited when Dad decided he was all in on CDs, cassettes, and mp3s in 2006 and sent me his turntable and entire vinyl album collection. Both ELO albums bear CRC markings - code for Columbia Record Club - which might explain why he had them both in his collection. Dad had a bad habit of not sending his monthly selection cards back in on time. I believe with all of my heart that it was unintentional and he simply misplaced or forgot about them. Dad's bad habit was a boon for a music fan like me though I had no idea that someday his albums would be my albums. I'd say three out of four albums in the collection of several hundred that I inherited from him have markings indicating they were from either the Columbia or RCA music clubs. The third ELO album I inherited from Dad was ELO's Greatest Hits (1979) and it is just about as flawless as a greatest hits album can be though, as my friend Mark pointed out, if it had "Do Ya" on it, it would be even better. "Do Ya" was another one of those tracks that sounded tailor made for AM broadcast and it was no doubt due to the Mono mix available on the promo only 45. I would love to have a compilation of ELO's promo only Mono single edits, from "10538 Overture" up through "Shine A Little Love". I count sixteen of them. Is there anyone out there that can make that happen? "Do Ya" peaked at 25 in Record World, 24 in Billboard and on WLS but cracked the Top 20 in Cashbox, rising all the way up to number 16.
Pablo Cruise's "Whatcha Gonna Do" is a blast of sunshine that stood out from the rest of the selections in the Cow Talk jukebox in the Summer of 1977. As I remember it, the jukebox in 1977 was split about 50/50 between country songs and Top 40 pop/rock/soul records that were changed out every couple of weeks. The two different voices handling the lead vocals caught my ear immediately and that guitar solo is something else. Really liked the group's colorful logo on the black background too. It wasn't until much later that I discovered a) the longer album version and b) the even longer promo only disco version. Still love that original 45 edit though. "Whatcha Gonna Do" peaked at number 3 in Cashbox, number 5 in Record World and number 6 in both Billboard and on WLS.
I really, really love the groove of "Couldn't Get It Right" and wish I had a high-quality lossless rip of the promo only 45 mono mix, more than likely the version WLS was playing back in 1977. In the last three years or so, I've been spending a lot of time auditioning Bluetooth and Wifi enabled speakers from manufacturers like Bose, Hitachi, Harmon Kardon, Sony, and Sonos for friends and family. My personal favorite of the bunch thus far has been the Marshall Acton which combines great sound, badass looks and, at the time I bought it at Costco last year, a ridiculously low price. Recent Mono remasters and releases from The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones sound positively divine playing through the Acton and have got me wishing more Mono mixes were available from Seventies acts. There might be a niche market for an enterprising label issuing K-Tel-style compilation albums featuring the mono mixes we used to hear on AM radio. Or not. As soon as I can scrape together some extra scratch, I'm gonna take my mono 45 wish list down to PDQ Records and spend some quality time with their Wall of 45s - click on the link to watch the slide show which includes images of their extensive collection of 45s. Of course, my Mono mix fixation could be entirely misguided and as soon as I bring one of the 45s home, slap it on the turntable and drop the needle, I could be severely disappointed. We'll see. "Couldn't Get It Right" got to number 9 in Record World, number 7 in Cashbox, number 4 on WLS and number 3 in Billboard.