This is like it says above part six of the 1977 Hideaway 100. It marks the halfway point in our countdown. There are two main dilemmas when making such a list as this:
- what songs to place in the hopper to begin with and what songs to leave in and what songs to take out
- how to rank the songs from least favorite to most favorite
The list is as definitive as it can be for today - I've made my decisions and I'll stand by them until I make my next list of favorite songs from 1977 to supersede this one. For past lists of this scale and magnitude, I used a simple rule to quickly eliminate many songs right off the bat: one song per artist. The problem with that is I may have very well liked say three Bay City Rollers songs much more than two songs by other artists but because of that arbitrary rule, two of the Rollers tracks were tossed. I scrapped that one track per artist rule out this time around but the list is still not truly comprehensive nor wholly representative of all of my favorite songs from 1977. Known omissions include album cuts not released as singles like the full-length 6:06 glory of Alan Parsons Project's "I Robot" (though it was released intact as B-Side of "Don't Let It Show" 45) as well as timeless, brilliant singles like Bowie's ""Heroes"" or Elvis Costello's "Alison" that failed to chart here in the States. And then there are the songs like Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" and Joe Tex's "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)", that I have overlooked for yet a third time in piecing together this infernal list. It ain't an exact science and for those of you who demand a refund, the line forms to the right. The rest of you, please enjoy the continuing countdown as we feature numbers 50-41 today.
My beautiful partner in crime over the last four decades was a huge fan of The Alan Parsons Project even before we first met in 1983. When we finally joined our record collections in 1987, she brought six of their albums into the marriage while I only offered up two. The three albums that neither one of us had bothered to buy yet were their first three albums: Pyramid (1978), Tales Of Mystery & Imagination (1976) and I Robot (1977). Anyone working in stereo sales from the late Seventies up through the mid-Eighties or so knows the I Robot album intimately as it was (probably) frequently used as a demonstration album to show off high-fidelity (the highest quality fidelity) speakers and high-powered amps. Just ask Ron Johnson, Buck Swope or Ken Kessler. Heck, Buck will even sell you the TK421 modification, giving you three or four more quads per channel and twice the bass. The epic serpentine instrumental title track that opens the album gives way to "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You" which rocks and grooves like no other Parsons track before or since with vocalist Lenny Zakatek adding a soulful rock performance to the prog-rock proceedings featuring the band Pilot (as in "Magic") handling bass, guitar and drums. "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You", with Parsons polished studio sheen perfected, managed to sound fresh and vibrant even on the monaural AM band. Then, I heard it coming out of a stereo store in the mall one day, with clearly audible and distinctive left and right channels, as I was ordering a small bag of Karmelkorn at the kiosk right out front. Barely into my teens at the time, "I Robot" and "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You" blew me away. I got a slightly less intense thrill the first time I listened to the high-resolution files of the album a few years back and I still enjoy cranking it up while my baby attends yoga or is otherwise out of the blast zone. "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You" missed the Top 20 on WLS, landing at number 21. It finished lower in the trades, hitting 36 in Billboard, 35 in Record World and 27 in Cashbox. Oh, and the wife and I picked up those three albums that were missing from our Alan Parsons Project collection in one fell swoop within the first couple of years of our marriage in a great 3 for $10 Sale at Zip's.
With the clarity of forty years of hindsight, I now realize what a kum ba yah-kinda song "Daybreak" is but as a not overtly masculine eleven-year-old kid this showstopper was my jam and to this day if I happen to hear it within say an hour or so of dragging myself out of bed I consider it to be a great day underway. I've mentioned before what an incredible streak Manilow was on in the mid-to-late Seventies (I wonder how many offers for a TV variety series did the guy turned down?) and though the true Fanilows stuck around long after, I was out after 1978's Even Now album or more specifically the song "Ready To Take A Chance Again" from the film Foul Play and I'll tell you the simple reason why: Dad stopped buying Barry Manilow albums! He had bought or ordered, either on purpose or accidentally by not sending in his monthly selection card, every Manilow long player from 1974's Barry Manilow II through Even Now and while he didn't get the Foul Play soundtrack he did pick up the "Ready To Take A Chance Again" 45 so I was set. Then he stopped cold turkey. I picked up the slack a bit by ordering Manilow's Greatest Hits double album when I joined RCA Music Club as a twelve-year-old for my first Manilow album and Side One of Record One is still my favorite Barry Manilow album side and you know what song closes it out? This live version of "Daybreak"! Manilow must have had a huge fan base in the Chicago area as he notched a dozen consecutive Top 10s on WLS's Forty-fives chart including this live version of "Daybreak" at number 8. The song peaked at number 21 in Cashbox, 23 in Billboard and 27 in Record World.
Dad was a really big Roy Orbison fan and the songs Orbison recorded and released in 1960-1964 left a lifetime impression on the teenager who would later become my father just a couple of years later. During his second tour in Vietnam in 1970, Dad fell in love with the music and the visage of Linda Ronstadt. In 1977, those two loves Orbison and Ronstadt collided in the most wonderful fashion when she covered his "Blue Bayou" and no one was more excited about it than Dad. While I appreciate Orbison's original, the background singers come out of the background too often for my tastes. Ronstadt's refreshing take kept her voice front and center as it should be with Don Henley coming through on the high end of the vocals that join her at the 2:06 mark for some sweet harmonies. The marimba, mandolin and steel guitar give the tune some true bayou seasoning and also helped propel it up the Country and Easy Listening charts as well as the Pop charts. I know it's a sad song but it mellows me out like nothing else. "Blue Bayou" sailed in at number 3 in both Billboard and Record World while topping out at number 2 in Cashbox where it was held out of the top spot by the number 20 song on the 1977 Hideaway 100. On the shores of Lake Michigan on Chicago's WLS, "Blue Bayou" docked at number 7.
Speaking of songs that mellow this ol' boy out, next up we have Lionel and the boys talking about "Easy" like Sunday morning. The ballads are what brought me to the Commodores and "Easy" is one of the smoothest in the bunch, another fine example of Richie's songwriting abilities. My favorite part comes when Lionel says "oooh" and the squiggly synth solo comes in. My least favorite part is the droning background vocals on the chorus. "Easy" had a hard time on the WLS weekly survey, barely cracking the Top 30 at number 27 while easily making it to number 4 in both Cashbox and Billboard and number 5 in Record World.
When "Cold As Ice" Foreigner's second single from their self-titled debut album appeared on WLS's Forty-fives chart for the first time for the week ending August 20, 1977, down at number 45, their first single was still sliding down the survey at number 36. The following week, the two singles passed one another as "Cold As Ice" continued its climb and "Feels Like The First Time" had its last hurrah before falling off the chart altogether. As much as I like "Feels Like The First Time" and I really do like it a lot, "Cold As Ice" has more of an attitude, that all-knowing experience ("I've seen it before...") of someone who has lost a love or two himself. None of this meant much to the sixth-grade me that dug this tune back in 1977. The song just sounded cool coming out of the speaker with that little piano riff and the brief drum breaks serving as punctuation while Lou Gramm's snarled with anger and hurt. Ultimately, "Cold As Ice" did not equal the chart position of "Feels Like The First Time", coming in at number 6 on WLS and in Billboard. It was number 10 in Cashbox and number 7 in Record World.
Snarling braggadocio has always been Gene Simmons shtick and all his songs are basically the same. I guess even eleven-year-old boys have no better sense than to wanna be like the larger than life characters in KISS and none was larger than "The Demon" Simmons portrayed. (Or does The Demon portray Gene?) "Calling Dr. Love" is typical KISS misogyny but man oh man is it fun to sing along with. Singing it out loud just now reminded me of the very first skit on the first episode of Key & Peele's late great television series, where K&P were commiserating with one another and sharing stories about standing up to their wives but doing it as quietly and as far away from said wives as they could so they wouldn't be heard and suffer the wrath of the wives. Like I should be singing the song under my breath or at least out of earshot of the women in my life. But then again, Dr. Pepper used this song in one of their commercials to sell
diabetes soda so it is not only offensive but hazardous to your health. And so so good. "Calling Dr. Love" made it to number 5 on WLS, number 10 in Cashbox, number 15 in Record World and number 16 in Billboard.
Back at number 76 on the 1977 Hideaway 100, we featured High Energy's "You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On)" - here at number 44, we have the same sentiment from a male perspective, KC & the Sunshine Band's "Keep It Comin' Love". According to Lisa Wheeler's pre-takeover K-Tel Classics site, KC & the Sunshine Band appeared on more US K-Tel albums than any other act and even from my incomplete collection, that seems to be the incontrovertible truth. "Keep It Comin' Love" appears on four albums in my K-Tel Kollection: Music Machine, Star Power, Disco Fire, and Super Star Collection. It's a great upbeat song and yes, very very repetitive even though nearly a minute was trimmed from the album version for the 45. The single is one of four extracted from the Part 3 album and I believe all eight of the album's tracks appeared on either the A-Side or B-Side of those singles with one single, the aforementioned "I'm Your Boogie Man" b/w "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" charting both sides. "Keep It Comin' Love" was held out of the Number One spot in Billboard, Cashbox, Record World and on WLS, finishing up at number 2 on those pop singles charts.
I won the first two Boston albums in a trivia contest. They were two albums in the five album prize pack that was displayed in the glass trophy case at J. W. Eater Junior High in front of the Principal's Office which was located down the hall from the school's main entrance so that you saw them every morning as you entered the building and then again at lunch as the cafeteria was on the opposite side of the school from the classrooms. You'd see the albums one last time as you left school each afternoon to catch one of the buses parked out front as well. And despite seeing them three times a day for a solid two months and eventually winning the damn things, I still couldn't tell you what those other three albums were. Boston's first album remains an incredible listen to this day but first, there were the singles: "More Than A Feeling", "Long Time" (sans the album intro "Foreplay" on the single) and then "Peace Of Mind", all of which received many many plays on WLS and they all sounded absolutely wonderful. All three 45s run a minute (or more) shorter than their album counterparts but that didn't matter one bit until you actually heard the album in all of its glory. I've been petitioning the label for going on near twenty years for a Super Deluxe Edition of Boston that would gather the demos as well as mono and stereo 45 edits and a live disc. Give Scholz six pages in the set's booklet to espouse his humanitarian, vegetarian and animal rights causes and beliefs, too. "Peace Of Mind" is a kinder, gentler "Take This Job and Shove It" more hippy-dippy (as my Grandma used to say) than confrontational and I love it. My Top 40 brethren? Not so much as it stalled at number 39 in Record World, number 38 in Billboard and number 33 in Cashbox. Over on WLS, "Peace Of Mind" climbed to number 10.
Now here I go again with another track from Rumours. This time, it is the Stevie Nicks track "Dreams". From Mick Fleetwood's opening "rim shot" and cymbal splash right into John McVie's rock steady bass, this is a groove for the ages. Add in Stevie's hauntingly captivating vocals, Lindsey Buckingham's squawking guitar sounds in the background and that gauzy effects-laden solo of his around the two-minute mark all topped by the sweet harmonies of Nicks, Buckingham and Christine McVie on the chorus and you have a great rainy day track - it's right there in the lyrics for Chrissake. Only made it to number 7 on WLS but was a Number One smash across the charts of Billboard, Cashbox and Record World.
I was late to the Andy Gibb party as "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" was another one of those Summer of 1977 songs, hitting the Top 40 the Sunday before the last week of school though I don't recall hearing it until probably right before school started again that Fall, maybe on American Bandstand which I figured out how and when to watch down in Texas though I missed it most Saturday mornings because Saturday mornings were Auction Days at Cow Talk, the busiest day of the week so we'd usually show up at nine in the morning and were lucky to leave before nine at night just as these giant toads started showing up on the sidewalk. That was about eight hours worth of prime jukebox listening time - I did little jobs for quarters like fetch and carry stuff to and from people's trucks or deliver their food while they sat in auction barn - though I'm 99% positive that this song wasn't on the jukebox then. I know it was included on K-Tel's Music Machine along with a poster of Gibb himself. I did get the 45 once I found it as the hottest songs always seemed to elude me for weeks at a time like everything sold out on a Friday (my record shopping was almost exclusively done on Saturdays when I got my allowance) and wasn't restocked until Sunday. The song was absolutely crazy bonkers popular, even crossing over to the Easy Listening and Hot Soul singles charts and spurring a cover version that went Top 20 on the Country chart. As for the Pop singles charts, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" was a Number One song in Cashbox, Record World, Billboard and on WLS.