Welcome to the almost halfway point in the 1977 Hideaway 100 where I've been counting down my favorite singles that charted in 1977. I've cited my major sources of musical intake in 1977 as Dad's vinyl and eight-track tape collection, my own budding collection (I bought more 45s in 1977 and 1978 than any other years), my little sister's Shaun Cassidy collection (he'll make one more appearance here before all is said and done), the illustrious jukebox in Cow Talk Steakhouse located between Navasota and Anderson, Texas, and radio stations WLS and WLRW. What I've yet to mention were all the television shows that featured musical performances in 1977, shows like Saturday Night Live, The Muppet Show, The Porter Wagoner Show, American Bandstand, Soul Train, Sha Na Na, Hee Haw!, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, The Midnight Special, and the prime time variety shows like Donny & Marie, The Sonny & Cher Show, Captain & Tennille, The Jacksons, Starland Vocal Band, The Keane Brothers, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr, and The Tony Orlando & Dawn Rainbow Hour. Then there were the syndicated weekday shows hosted by Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore and Merv Griffin. Please let me know in the comments if I left any shows that featured musical performances out that were on the air in 1977. Now on with the countdown and numbers 60-51:
"Brick House" positively kills from the Look-Ma-I-used-the-whole-kit drum intro to the funky bass line to them horny horns and the "Shake It Down Shake It Down Now" break. As someone who only knew the group's slow jams, it was a revelation - I would have sooner believed it was the Average White Band than the Commodores. (Earlier funky efforts like "Machine Gun" and "Slippery When Wet" wouldn't make it to my deprived ears until a few years later.) It would be another decade or so before I discovered there was a twelve-inch mix of "Brick House" which to my ears sounded even better than the original single/album cut which topped out at number 21 on WLS, number 9 in Record World, number 6 in Cashbox, and number 5 in Billboard.
The opening blast of drum, synth, and guitar set the tone and then Lou Gramm gave us The Voice. An absolute gem even by the lo-fidelity of AM radio, "Feels Like The First Time" is about as perfect a debut single as any rock group has ever released; it's self-referential, maybe inadvertently but I doubt it as Mick Jones has always known exactly what he's doing. They would get grief later on as a faceless corporate rock group but nearly twenty Gold and Platinum records tell you all you need to know about how popular Foreigner would become and I was a fan since Day One though they lost me just before they lost Lou. "Feels Like The First Time" was a Top 10 hit across the board, reaching number 9 in Record World, number 5 in Cashbox, number 4 in Billboard and number 3 on WLS.
Maybe I've shared this story before and I apologize because it's a long one but here it is again: Dad got orders to report to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona by September 1, 1981. I had just finished my first year of high school earlier that year and was very vocal in my disapproval of the impending move as we had lived in Rantoul, Illinois for five years, the longest we had lived anywhere up to that point and I had friends and potential girlfriends. Once a month or so at lunchtime, my friends and I would actually run down the street about a block and a half to Garcia Brothers Pizza for a Gutbuster Slice and small soda for $2. They had a jukebox and it was there one day in late 1980 or early 1981 when I went to play "I'm Your Boogie Man" (an older favorite from 1977 I was probably surprised to see) that I somehow accidentally selected the single's B-Side, a new to me song called "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" which immediately caught my ear. On our next trip to Garcia's, I intentionally went to play that song but the jukebox played "I'm Your Boogie Man" instead which led me to believe the single had been loaded incorrectly. Anyway, now that I wanted it I couldn't find the single anywhere to buy as it was three years old. And then I forget about it in the chaos of the move. We left Rantoul in mid-August 1981 as the folks had planned a 10 day roundabout trip to Tucson that would take us down to Orlando for Disney World and then over to New Orleans which was more of a destination for the folks than me and my sister before visiting grandparents in Navasota, Texas and then catch the I-10 straight to Tucson. While in New Orleans, Dad and I found a little record shop that had records stacked all over the place with no discernable order, no alphabetical one at least. I found a stack of 45s and began flipping through them, coming across the distinctive TK label sleeve a couple of times before finding one that had "I'm Your Boogie Man" peeking through the cutout. I plucked it from the stack and flipped it over and there it was "Wrap Your Arms Around Me". I also found and bought my very first KISS album, Dynasty, which has the song "I Was Made For Lovin' You", a favorite song from a couple years prior that I could also never find the 45 for. And that's the story of how I went seventeen hundred miles from home to find two of my favorite records of all-time. When I finally get a vintage jukebox for The Hideaway, the 45 of "I'm Your Boogie Man" b/w "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" will most certainly be on it. I might even load it wrong. On WLS, "I'm Your Boogie Man" was held out of the Number One spot by the song that will appear up at number 4 on the 1977 Hideaway 100. It was a Number One single in Billboard, Cashbox and Record World.
ABBA followed up the light-hearted "Dancing Queen" with the dramatic and somewhat confusing "Knowing Me, Knowing You" which just flat out sounded great. The dramatic instrumental backing and soaring guitar riff equaled the dramatic verses and head-scratching chorus (ah-haaah!) but for me, the money line is that second line in the opening verse where the mood shifts: "Walking through an empty house/tears in my eyes" equals chills! And as dramatic as the music is, that goofy chorus is an earworm, lasting long after reading this sentence. As it was released in the Summer of 1977, I probably never heard it on WLS or even the Cow Talk jukebox - do you really think a jukebox located in the heart of Texas, located in a steak house adjacent to a livestock auction barn, is gonna have a record, any record by ABBA? I'm fairly certain my first exposure to the song was on the previously mentioned Solid Gold (Ronco) much later in 1977 or early 1978. I may have gotten the album for Christmas or maybe Dad bought it for himself but either way, the album was in the house and I was digging on it. "Knowing Me, Knowing You" was number 15 in Record World, number 14 in Billboard, number 11 in Cashbox and even without me, the song rose to number 5 on WLS.
Shortly after the movie, Rocky, debuted in theaters with an original soundtrack by Bill Conti in late 1976, at least two other artists rushed into recording studios to record their own takes on Conti's instant classic "Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)". And while versions by Rhythm Heritage and Maynard Ferguson (among others) may have been released as singles and charted ahead of the original, the public wanted the authentic product only and when it was finally released in at the end of February 1977, we, us and them gobbled it up, driving it onto and up the charts. Casey Kasem first played it the week of May 7 as the song burst into the Top 40 up at number 29. The following week, it leaped another eight spots to land just outside the Top 20. The next week "Gonna Fly Now" flew into the Top 10 at number 7 and over the next six weeks it climbed up exactly one spot, going 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 before topping the Hot 100 for one week on the chart dated July 2, 1977. My parents had taken us to see the film either shortly before or shortly after the Academy Awards in March(?) so I knew the song. Dad ended up buying the soundtrack album and I got the 45 just after my eleventh birthday which was around the time I first heard it on Double-You El Es where the song peaked at Number One even before it did the same on both Billboard and Cashbox. In Record World, "Gonna Fly Now" landed at number 4.
Anyone else read Ken Caillat's 2012 book Making Rumours featuring all sorts of technical background on the recording of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours in 1976? I thoroughly enjoyed it. I began listening to the album more frequently while reading and even after finishing the book, as it dug its hooks back into me. Then in 2013, Warner Brothers and Fleetwood Mac dropped a digital-only Super Deluxe version of the album including high-resolution files and my thirty-five-year love affair with one of the greatest albums ever recorded was rekindled. As a kid in 1977, I heard the album a lot as Dad was an early adopter so as the singles appeared on WLS, I was more than ready for them. As I've experienced life, I've co-opted many of the songs from Rumours as personal mantras and "Don't Stop" is the song that keeps me optimistic about the future. If I were to recast this list of my 100 favorite singles from 1977 right now, "Don't Stop" would surely rank higher - there can't be more than fifty other songs I care about more, right? "Don't Stop" did stop at number 8 on WLS, number 3 in both Record World and Billboard but went straight to the top of Cashbox's Top 100 singles chart where it stayed for seven straight... days!
As I listen to "Angel In Your Arms" in 2017, it sounds like a track from 1973 or 1974 and more than a little country to me. Both of which are compliments in my book. If asked to name a recording studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, before today I could name the two I knew: FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio; the latter formed by the four musicians known as The Swampers that left the former in 1969 as shown in the wonderful documentary Muscle Shoals. "Angel In Your Arms" and all three albums from the female vocal trio known as Hot were recorded at another Muscle Shoals recording studio, Wishbone Studios, which was surprisingly left out of the Muscle Shoals doc. Several hit albums and singles have been recorded there in the past 41 years, by the likes of the Commodores, Hank Williams Jr., Sweet Kenny Rogers, Jerry Reed, George Strait, The Temptations and Roy Orbison. Admittedly, an angel being a devil was over my head in 1977 though the lyric managed to recall "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" an earlier Cow Talk jukebox staple from Charley Pride that enjoyed a particularly long stint in rotation. "Angel In Your Arms" peaked at number 6 in both Cashbox and Billboard, number 7 on WLS and number 17 in Record World.
My three favorite John Williams movie themes are Jaws, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Star Wars. And back in the Summer of 1977, the Star Wars main title was my jam. I never got into the action figures but I bought the first six issues of the Marvel comic adaptation and the soundtrack album back then. I still have them all today. Through the years, I have also purchased the original three films (Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi) on VHS three times, on DVD three times and now on blu-ray. Though I swore off any new Star Wars movies when they killed off Han Solo at the hands of his own son in the first Disney/Star Wars film. I do not recall "Star Wars (Main Title)" getting much airplay on the radio as it charted during the Summer but I played my soundtrack album a whole heck of a lot. How else was I gonna soundtrack my Micronauts action figure adventures? "Star Wars (Main Title)" was number 10 in Billboard, number 11 on WLS, number 18 in Cashbox and number 20 in Record World.
Because of my childhood misadventures (to save you the details), my memory really isn't as clear as I may make it seem at times. But then there are memories associated with songs like Electric Light Orchestra's "Telephone Line" that instantly take me back to a particular point in time with such blinding speed, vivid clarity, and hyper detail that I can't help but think it's a true and treasured that has survived or even thrived in the face of the trauma that has marred most of my memories before the age of 13. Ready? It's dusk (my favorite time of day), I'm lying on the bed in my room on top of my NFL pre-1976 expansion teams bedspread that my Mom made for me. I am on my stomach, hands holding my chin up, listening to WLS on my Soundesign all-in-one stereo, with my legs bent at ninety degree angle and my stocking feet (is that how you say I had socks on?) in the air. I'm reading an Avengers comic book that features The Vision and the song playing on the radio is "Telephone Line". When I bought a copy of the 45, after starting sixth grade in September 1977, I was excited because it had a picture sleeve. Then when I got it home and took it out of my Musicland bag, I had two surprises: the vinyl was bright green and when I played it the side that said "Telephone Line" played a different song while the B-Side labeled "Poorboy (The Greenwood)" played "Telephone Line". The song placed highest in Cashbox at number 4, connected at number 7 in both Billboard and Record World while disconnecting at number 15 on WLS.
Surely I'm not the only here today who thought "Looks Like We Made It" was a romantic love song before later coming to the realization it wasn't what I thought it was? From 1975-1978, Barry Manilow was unstoppable and pretty much inescapable on the radio with a steady stream of hits. I'd conservatively estimate songs of his appear on about a dozen and a half of the K-Tel and Ronco albums on the Vinyl Wall that were released in that four year period. "Looks Like We Made It" deceives from its very title but one just has to listen - really listen - to the opening line of the lyric to get a bead on what it's really about. Still like it, though. "Looks Like We Made It" made it to Number One in Billboard while making it number 3 on WLS and in both Record World and Cashbox.