WLS Music Survey - January 13, 1979 (Part Two: The Forty-fives)

According to the yearbook on the shelf, I was 12 years old in January 1979, a proud Bulldog in 7th grade at J.W. Eater Junior High School. I listened to WLS in my room before & after school and WLRW on weekends when Dad blasted it from the basement with the Panasonic receiver/8-track player pictured below.
Dad had much bigger speakers than the ones pictured and lots of extra wire connecting them to the receiver so he could:
  • prop them up in the basement windows to blast the backyard;
  • put them upstairs on the ground floor to blast the kitchen and living room;
  • put them out in the carport or driveway to blast the neighborhood.
The primary attractions of listening to WLRW were 1) it was an FM STEREO station, a whole new way of hearing music at home on the radio for me, and 2) hearing Casey Kasem doing his American Top 40 show every weekend. I'm assuming WLS had a weekly countdown of their Forty-fives but I never heard it or (probably more accurately) I don't remember ever hearing it.
And I have absolutely no recollection of the Big 89 or WLS Musicradio Survey Awards on the station so seeing them printed on the weekly surveys I picked up in stores was always fun. Ballots for the Survey Awards were printed on the backs of the surveys dated December 9 and 16, 1978.
Then, on the back of the survey dated January 13, 1979, the results of The WLS Musicradio Survey Awards for 1978 were published.  I guess you could surmise that the two big winners were the artists involved with the Grease soundtrack and disco music artists, with Billy Joel and Barry Manilow being the odd guys out.
Also on the back of this week's survey was a short Bio feature on the winner of the Best New Male Award, a mere seven years after his first solo album.
The song lyrics printed on the same side of the survey as the Bio and Awards results are by the Bee Gees, winners of the 1978 Best Group Award. The lyrics are from the Number One song on the Big 89 of 1978, "Stayin' Alive". Over on the Forty-fives list from the front of the survey, there are four singles new to the chart this week. Three of them would eventually peak inside the Top 20 while the fourth was making its only appearance on the WLS singles chart. 
Linda Ronstadt had eight consecutive cover songs on the WLS Forty-fives list in the Seventies before scoring a ninth with "Ooh Baby Baby", debuting at number 45 and peaking at number 14 the following month. Debuting just above Ronstadt at number 44 is Captain Sky's "Wonder Worm", a slice of C-Grade P-Funk out of Chicago. This was the Captain's only appearance on the Forty-fives chart but he did make it on Soul Train. Bob Seger came in at number 42 this week with "We've Got Tonite" which would eventually peak inside the Top 20. On the survey, WLS misspelled Tonite as Tonight. Fresh off her stint in Grease, Olivia returned to the recording studio still in her end-of-film transformation as "totally hot" Sandy and recorded her sexiest album to date. "A Little More Love", the first single from the album Totally Hot, debuts on the list of Forty-fives at number 39. Five weeks later, it peaked at number 6.
The biggest falling single on this week's Forty-fives chart drops eight spots from number 26 after peaking at number 6 back in November 1978. The Little River Band would go on to chart three more times in 1979 with "Lady" (#7), "Lonesome Loser" (#6) and "Cool Change" (#24).
The single making the biggest jump this week is Toto's rocking "Hold The Line", rising sixteen places from number 29 to number 13. In three short weeks, the song would top out at number 6. For years I've carried around this memory of this USAF band that came to our elementary school in sixth grade and blew us away with high-energy, spot-on renditions of top hits of the day by Chicago, Foreigner, Heart and "Hold The Line" complete with male & female vocalists, a drummer, a percussionist, and a four-piece horn section. Researching this post I realize I had been misremembering it all these years and that performance actually happened across town at our junior high school in late 1978 or early 1979.
One of four acts with a pair of singles on the Forty-fives list is Donna Summer with "Last Dance" moving up two to number 40 and "Mac Arthur Park" falling one to number 7. Both are edited heavily from their respective album versions, with nearly five minutes cut from "Last Dance" and "Mac Arthur Park", taken from a studio medley that was the More on the album Live And More as was its follow-up single "Heaven Knows", was trimmed down nearly fourteen minutes from that studio medley. (Note that each single was from a different album.)
Foreigner is the second act with a pair of 45s on the station's singles chart this week. "Hot Blooded" drops two to number 27 while "Double Vision" is at number 17, also dropping two places from the survey dated December 30, 1978. Nearly a minute and a half form the album version of "Hot Blooded" is cut off in its single release.
Queen had two singles listed on the survey this week as one as they were played together in a tight segue. For the record-buying public, the songs were on opposite sides of the same 45. "Bicycle Race" and "Fat Bottomed Girls" ("Fat Bottom Girls" on the survey) moved up two positions from number 24 to number 22 this week on their way to peaking next week at number 20. 
The fourth and final act with two singles on the list of Forty-fives is the Village People, who have both of their 45s in the Top 8. "Macho Man" holds at number 8 and "Y.M.C.A." jumps four spots up to number 3 on its way to a peak of number 2 next week. "Macho Man" had topped out at number 3 back in October 1978 so it spent a good portion of its 38 weeks on the chart in the Top 10.
Not to sound like a broken record but the WLS Forty-fives list for the week ending January 13, 1979, is a great set of songs. I did have to look up three songs I was unfamiliar with (#s 28, 37 and 44) but can't report they jogged any memories. What stands out to me are the ballads this week which I failed to fully appreciate at the time as I was all about the rock and the disco. I'd say at least 20 of these songs would be strong candidates for The Ultimate Hideaway Jukebox with another 15 or so runners-up.


1 comment:

  1. Until today, I had no idea what the actual lyrics were to "Stayin' Alive." I always thought we had stuff along the lines of:

    Music loves my friendly walk, I've been kicked around since I was born.


    The New York Times don't make the man.


    Well, I can love and I get high and if I can't give in, I'm willing to try.
    And the wicked panther on my shoes, I'm a dancin' man and I just can't lose.

    Now that I look at them, those lyrics aren't any worse that the actual lyrics.

    Also of note: Village People beating out Journey for Best New Group.