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CHART ATTACK! #46: 8/29/70

So last week in the comments, Amy asked if I ever hit up any charts from the ’70s.  As I mentioned, I don’t often because I’m more familiar with songs from the ’80s, and that makes for easier (quicker) writing.  I didn’t have much more time this week, but I figured I’d give it a shot – so here we go, attackin’ the charts from August 29, 1970!

10. 25 Or 6 To 4 – Chicago  Amazon iTunes
9. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Diana Ross
  Amazon iTunes
8. (If You Let Me Make Love To You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You? – Ronnie Dyson  Amazon
7. Patches – Clarence Carter  Amazon iTunes
6. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours – Stevie Wonder  Amazon iTunes
5. Spill The Wine – Eric Burdon and War  Amazon iTunes
4. In The Summer Time – Mungo Jerry  Amazon iTunes
3. (They Long To Be) Close To You – Carpenters  Amazon iTunes
2. Make It With You – Bread  Amazon iTunes
1. War – Edwin Starr  Amazon iTunes

10. 25 Or 6 To 4 – Chicago

You have to understand: I was born in 1977. The Chicago I know is from the David Foster era. Therefore, I’ve never had this experience:

Radio DJ: …and here’s the latest single from Chicago!
Jason: Holy shit, this song ROCKS!

I don’t really know what "25 or 6 to 4" is about.  I’ve heard the theories.  I know that, according to Robert Lamm, it doesn’t have any real meaning, it’s just about trying to write a song, and something about the time being 3:34 or 3:35 AM.  I don’t believe it, but I don’t care too much, either.  This song isn’t about lyrics.  This song is about horns.  That’s all.  I’m sure you guys all know that Chicago pulled a Mardones and re-made the song in ’86.  Read all about it over with our good friend CAPTAIN VIDEO!

9. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Diana Ross

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about this song, so let me take a look at…holy shit, Ashford and Simpson wrote this??  See, this is why I don’t cover the ’70s; I just wind up looking like a schmuck for all the stuff I don’t know.  I mean, I didn’t know that Marvin Gaye did the song first, and Ross actually covered it first while she was in The Supremes (as a duet with The Temptations) before creating her own unique version, complete with spoken word, that eventually hit #1 and earned a Grammy nomination.  No, all I thought beforehand was "why does it take her a full two minutes and thirty seconds to actually say the phase "ain’t no mountain high enough?"

8. (If You Let Me Make Love To You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You? – Ronnie Dyson (download)

Earlier this week, I was on vacation up in the Adirondack mountains with my folks. I started scanning this chart and couldn’t believe this title. Upon saying it out loud, my father responded with "I know what that’s like," and upon playing the song, my mother started doing some weird hula dance. This is why I will never talk with them about CHART ATTACK! ever again.

When I first heard it though, I was extremely surprised to hear a woman’s voice. What kind of woman is in a situation where she’s expressing this type of sentiment? Then I was even more surprised to find out that Ronnie Dyson actually is a guy! He just sounds like a lady! This is worse than Jermaine Stewart! (Okay, not really.)

I’m still not convinced.

I think it’s fair to say that, unfortunately, many people have forgotten about Ronnie Dyson. The dude doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, for crying out loud. (How the hell am I supposed to write without Wikipedia?) So here’s what I can tell you: Dyson’s career launched in the late ’60s when, at the age of 20, he originated the role of Ron in Hair on Broadway. He also performed in a musical entitled Salvation that didn’t go very far; however, he was able to take this song, from Salvation, to the Top 10. It peaked here at #8. While some of the lyrics are actually quite pretty, I’m having a hard time getting past the title. It’s just…awkward. And Dyson made a career out of uncomfortable titles like these; other songs include "One Man Band (Plays All Alone)," "Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely," "All Over Your Face" (cough) and – my absolute favorite – "The More You Do It (The More I Like It Done to Me)." Sadly, Dyson died of a heart attack in 1990. Now I feel bad about all of my above jokes. But I maintain that he doesn’t sound or look like a dude.

7. Patches – Clarence Carter (download)

Up until this week, I knew one Clarence Carter song and one song only: "Strokin’." My old officemate introduced it to me.  I knew of some other song titles, including "It’s A Man Down There," "Back Door Santa" (introduced to me via Foxy), "G Spot," and "Why Do I Stay Here (And Take This Shit from You)," which I’ve never heard but is already my favoritest song in the world.  So I thought that Clarence Carter was only a dirty singer like Millie Jackson (NSFW Amazon link), Rudy Ray Moore (also NSFW Amazon link) or Amy Grant.  But no, turns out that before he went blue, he was actually a real soul singer.  And he’s blind, too.  You learn something new every day.  (And since I’m not actually talking about "Patches" yet, I’ll ask: why the hell was "Strokin’" not a hit?)

"Patches" – a cover of a Chairmen Of The Board tune from the same year – is an interesting song, a tale of a son who loses a father and is forced to be the grown-up of the family.  His nickname is Patches, which really messes with me because my aunt (same aunt who hates my potty mouth) had a dog named Patches.  So I’m half thinking of the dog, and half thinking of Forrest Gump.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s the accent, or the sad, sad half-spoken story.  Either way, Carter took "Patches" to #4.

6. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours – Stevie Wonder

As much as I adore this song, I can’t focus on it for too long, because Stevie Wonder was 20 years old when he released this single and that just depresses me.  At 20, Stevie already had nine Top 10 hits under his belt, and he was clearly just getting started.  "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours" was the first single to feature Wonder’s production, as well as his female concubines backing vocalists Wonderlove, and marked his very first Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song.  Unfortunately, Wonder lost…to "Patches" by Clarence Carter.  It’s the blind beating the blind!  (groan)

I just listened to this song for the umpteenth time, and like just about every Stevie Wonder song recorded between 1970 and 1976, it just never loses any of its joy for me.

5. Spill The Wine – Eric Burdon and War

This is what happens when you take too many drugs.  And when the country’s taking too many drugs along with you, it’s okay to never actually change chords in the entire song.

4. In The Summertime – Mungo Jerry

I had Mungo once. However, I applied some ointment and it cleared right up. I’m also disappointed to find out that Mungo Jerry is not a person, but a group. Because there’s this dirty guy who hangs out by the subway, flapping his arms and trying to sing, and if you had told me Mungo Jerry was a person, I’d swear that he was now living in Queens and greeting me every day as I get off the N train.

I had no idea I knew this song, but I do have a passing familiarity with it, and I’m betting that some of you have some specific memories attached to this song. I’m sure some of our readers in Europe may know more about Mungo Jerry, as they were a British band and had a number of hits in the UK. However, they’re officially a one-hit wonder here; "In The Summertime," which sold millions of copies and reached #3, was their only song to reach the Top 100.

I guess I don’t get the appeal of this song. Idiotic lyrics, the same riff over and over again…maybe it’s because I’m not stoned or having an orgy out on the front lawn.  I guess it’s no worse than "Mambo #5" or one of those typical novelty songs.  If you’re a Mungo Jerry fan, by all means, join MungoMania.

Ain’t it trippy?


3. (They Long To Be) Close To You – Carpenters

No snark applied to this song, my friends. I think it’s one of the most simple, sweet songs in the world, and I am frequently reduced to a bucket o’ mush when I hear it.  If I had to make any criticisms, it’s that I’ve always felt that most of this instrumentation was unnecessary.  Karen Carpenter, a piano, maybe a bit of flute.  Anybody know if that mix exists somewhere?

By the way, you can thank Herb Alpert for this one.  The Carpenters were asked to perform a medley of Burt Bacharach songs (with the man himself) for a benefit performance.  Alpert suggested to Richard Carpenter that they include this song in the medley, which, despite being recorded by Richard Chamberlain and Dionne Warwick, was relatively unknown.  The song didn’t make it into the medley, but the duo did record the song shortly after, which became their first gold record, a #1 for a month, and the winner of a 1971 Grammy for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus.

Here’s a video of the Carpenters performing the song live in Holland, 1974.  I sat pretty much transfixed during this performance.  And not just because Richard Carpenter’s bow tie is mere seconds away from engulfing most of the audience.


2. Make It With You – Bread

Crossroads seem to come and go…wait, this isn’t "Melissa?"  Whoops.  Moving on.  It’s almost Mellow Gold, isn’t it?  You gotta give David Gates credit: he says it right there in the lyrics: "and if you’re wondering what this all is leading to, I wanna make it with you."  That’s candor for you!  We’ll be covering some Bread in future Mellow Gold entries, so I’ll wait on most of my thoughts regarding David Gates; I’ll just say outright that this man knew exactly what to say to get laid.  Can you believe that this is Bread’s only #1 hit?

1. War – Edwin Starr (download)

Incidentally, this is the fourth cover to appear on this week’s Attack – "War," written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, was originally recorded by The Temptations, included on their Psychedelic Shack album earlier in 1970.  "War" wasn’t a single, but quickly became the most popular song on the album, due to public dissent over Vietnam – and fans wrote to Motown asking the label to release "War" as a single.  The Temptations quickly backpedaled, afraid of what the release of such a single might do to their fanbase.  Way to stand up for what you believe in, guys!  Motown agreed (for variou$ rea$on$), and Whitfield was furious.  Finally, Motown agreed to release the single so long as it could be re-recorded by a – shall we say – less lucrative artist.  Starr, already a Motown artist with a #6 under his belt, volunteered, and Whitfield took the opportunity to put some cojones behind the song.  There’s really no comparison between the two – while the Temptations version rocks in its own right, it’s no match for Starr’s fierce, funky version.  Here, compare!

The Temptations – War (download)

Here’s some video of Edwin Starr lip-syncing to "War."  It’s a little grainy, but I found it fascinating anyway: for starters, I had never seen Starr before, and I admit to being a little surprised how much he smiles throughout the performance.  I think he’s thinking, "I’m gonna be rich!"


Whew!  Listening to all this stuff I didn’t immediately know by heart was relatively exhausting – but I’d say that, overall, this was a pretty good week – wouldn’t you?  Those of you who were there when this stuff was piping through the radio – I’d love to hear from you.  See you next week for another CHART ATTACK!

  • "Spill the Wine" has a great groove, with that cool woodwind.  I don’t know how else to explain it."Close to You" came up on my mp3 player today in my continuing Seventies Song Survival project.  ("Patches" and "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" have already been eliminated.) Even for the Carpenters, who were great, "Close to You" is gorgeous from start to finish.  Pretty sure it’s going to end up in my top 100 of the 1970s.

  • Whoa, looks like I made hash of that link somehow.

  • S’okay, I cleaned it up.  Always good to hear from you.

  • Dw Dunphy

    Ronnie Dyson = Kid (CLAP) Dy-No-Mite!! Clarence Carter? I thought "Strokin’" was by Conway Twitty. "In The Crappytime". I hate this song. It’s as irritating as kidney stones.

  • amy777

    nice chart attack, esp. since i requested it!  yay!  although i get it’s easier to write about songs you have a personal attachment to…
    does anyone else think that the guy blowing into the bottle during the mungo jerry song probably needed an oxygen tank by the end of the song???

  • jb

    Welcome to my side of the street, everybody. A lot of these songs go back to the beginning of time for me, from when I first started listening to the radio.

  • I thought about that as I was writing, actually…

  • bill cassara

    I was in Junior High (middle school to most of you) in 1970.  It somehow seems that Close to You is a much more current song than Patches.  I don’t know why.    Spill The Wine was a great song the first 3,000 times I heard it, but it gets old. 

  • Dw Dunphy

    I think the reason "Close To You" is so much newer than "Patches" is because it constantly has a second life, a third life, a fourth life. When you hear it, you may think of many things, like Karen Carpenter’s voice, that thick "whaaaaaa!" harmony, its unofficial status as Homer & Marge Simpson’s ‘song’ and, of course, Ben Stiller’s balls caught in a zipper. But "Patches"? All I think is, "My, how depressing"…

  • Twostepcub

    Ronnie Dyson or Ronnie Devoe (from New Edition)….the same man! LOL all kidding aside thanks for delving into the 70s…I don’t feel so old anymore.2sc

  • Eli

    Bread is coming soon to the Mines? Might I humbly suggest/request “Aubrey”, possibly my favorite Mellow Gold tyoone of all time?

  • Family Guy puts Ain’t No Mountain High Enough in its rightful place on the soundtrack of every "female cast, one’s gonna die" movie.

  • Outstanding week from an outstanding year. Amen, JB. Imagine being 13 and having your head shaped by all this. I was. It explains a lot.

  • Going back to #45, I think you need to stop doing that near your dog.

  • Gawd, I feel older than dirt! This chart is from the week before I started my senior year of high school. Some good stuff here, although I can do without the Ronnie Dyson, and "Patches" is inferior Clarence Carter (find the stuff he recorded at Muscle Shoals in the Sixties). The Chicago track is a great one, as is "War." A good post!

  • Elaine

    I love the education this site provides.  I’d never heard of Ronnie Dyson or "Patches" before today.  (All I can say is wow.)  Sounds like Clarence Carter is the David Allan Coe of r&b.

  • Eli

    Oh my god. I have a Mellow Gold request that I feel very passionately about… Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonite”. (his misspelling) It’s playing over the radio in a burrito shop in Massachusetts right now, and my girlfriend said, “Hey! It’s Mellow Gold!” I’m so proud of the ol’ gal.

  • Jason, you had me cracking up at your mom’s "weird hula dance" story!  LOL  .. talk about TMI…wisely, you dropped the subject!  :)
    And I have to agree with previous commenters, lots of music-ed going on here.  I had not heard of Ronnie Dyson or Clarence or Mungo before. 
    You’ve got a great blog here, Jason.  Kudos to you and happy blogoversiary. 

  • Lest we forget that "In The Summertime" recommends that we "have a drink, have a drive."  What would MADD have said about that had they existed at the time?

  • I had the sheet music to "25 or 6 to 4" and I attempted to play it on our antique upright piano that my mom had painted white to match her white and yellow decor. That was twisted and about as 70s as you can get (without the drugs). Don’t shun the 70s–some of the greatest pop melodies and shlockiest hits can be found there. It’s like pop culture spin dry. Love it–thanks.

  • Michael K

    Jason –
    I’m a huge Bread fan and I’m looking forward to seeing them in your future Mellow Gold posts. 

  • Mungo Jerry is every bit as ugly as the Oak Ridge Boys.  Their novelty tune is on par with Hurricane Smith’s "Oh, Babe, What Would You Say."  I also never heard of Mr. Ronnie Dyson or his terrible song.  My friends know Clarence Carter for both his 2 songs.  Frat parties in the ’80s were made better with "Strokin’."
    Do you think someone might’ve said to Karen, "That dress makes you look a little big in the hips.  Maybe drop a few pounds…"?

  • By 1970, my family had moved to Alabama and "Patches" was all over the car radio. I saw Ronnie Dyson on the Merv Griffin show, too. They asked about him starring in "Hair," and he claimed that when everyone started taking their clothes off, he freaked out and spent the scene covered up on the floor, so there’s one mental image I’ve spared you.
    What do you suppose the "dp" in Millie Jackson’s Amazon link stands for.

  • Wasn’t Meat Loaf in the cast of "Hair?"  If so, it all makes sense.

    Did you see some of the song titles from Millie Jackson’s album?  "Hot Wild Unrestricted Crazy Love," "Muffle That Fart," and…"Will You Love Me Tomorrow."  I love it.

  • Millie Jackson is the best. I wish I could get a chance to see her in concert.

  • I hope people don’t confuse Millie Jackson with Minnie Riperton. But I bet Maya Rudolph would get a laugh out of it if they did.

    This really was a great week on the charts; I like seven out of the ten songs here. Sorry, Chicago, Mungo Jerry, and Eric Burdon and War (or WAR, if you prefer), I’m rejecting you, but “Spill the War” as performed by the Isley Brothers is an improvement over the original.

    I’ve Known “Why Can’t I Touch You?” for six years now thanks to those “Soul Hits of the ’70s” CDs I love so much, but I don’t remember any picture of Ronnie Dyson in the CD booklet. That picture you found doesn’t do him any favors. “Why Can’t I Touch You?” (I’ll spare you the parenthetical part of the title, but I like that he has at least two other titles that include parentheticals) is corny in some ways, but it works. The Main Ingredient recorded a great version of “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely,” but I’m not sure who did it first now.

    “Patches” is on one of those “Soul Hits of the ’70s” CDs as well. I remember “Strokin'” from 9th grade as something like a 2 Live Crew song as sung by an old man (it was 1990), so “Patches” was a surprise when I first heard it. This one comes close to being corny, but Carter’s conviction sees it through.

    Good point about Stevie Wonder — let’s not talk about how young he was when he started making effortlessly timeless music. What … a … DICK. A friend of mine went to Wonder’s concert in Chicago on Monday night; he said a guy came up to him during the show while he was dancing and handed him a $100 bill because “your dancing has put so much energy into this experience for me, and I want to thank you for that.” Odd. But my friend took the money.

    “Close to You” is about the only Carpenters song I can stomach, but you’re right, Jason, the instrumentation could stand to be simpler. All I know is, they’re no Fine Young Cannibals. (Hurts, don’t it?)

    I’m seriously contemplating buying a two-disc Bread compilation from 1996 called “Retrospective.” Fifty songs! “Baby I’m-a Want You” is a gorgeous song. So are many of their other hits. Sure, Bread is Carpenters-esque in that early-’70s AM way, but I dig them more for some reason. I didn’t just a few years ago, but my friend Mary likes them so much that I sought out some of their album cuts and understood what she was talking about.

    Apparently “Rush Hour 3” features Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan singing “War” just like in the other two “Rush Hour” movies, except when “Rush Hour 2” came out six years ago America wasn’t waging war in Iraq or Afghanistan yet. Plus “War” isn’t a fun-time sing-along song in the first place, but whatever. I’m not saying it’s not a great song you can sing along to, but the lyrics are pretty dire, as they should be. Oh well, maybe I’m taking this all a little too seriously. I love the story of how Sly Stone had some fun with Norman Whitfield and the Temptations in “Hot Fun in the Summertime” with lines like “I ‘Cloud Nine’ when I want to,” because Whitfield and the Temps adopted Sly and the Family Stone’s sound pretty quickly in the ’60s after “Dance to the Music” became a hit.

    Bring on more ’70s charts!

  • I just noticed that I referred to "Spill the Wine" as "Spill the War."  In other words, "George Bush, you’ve made a mess.  Clean it up."  (Yep, not a typing mistake in any way whatsoever.)