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CHART ATTACK! #47: 9/4/76

It’s time for another one of our guest CHART ATTACK! posts – and I’m truly psyched to feature a Top 10 rundown from none other than Beau Dure, the man behind Mostly Modern Media.  It was about two years ago when Mike turned me on to Beau’s writing, and I’ve been addicted ever since.  I especially love his live-blogging adventures, and he’s convinced me that I must absolutely see Blue Man Group when they tour again.  Beau requested I throw him something from ’76, and the man chose wisely.  Away we go!

I love the ’70s, and not in the sense that VH1 loves them as fodder for alleged humor by alleged humorists such as The Modern Humorist and Mo Rocca. I love them because I was alive for most of them, and that tended to shape my musical sensibility.

Sure, I went through a grand awakening when my middle-school years coincided with my purchase of a boombox and our cable company giving me my MTV. But like all kids, before I could run on my own, I walked holding my parents’ hands. I heard Beatles and Bob Dylan records. I didn’t buy anything of my own until Blondie’s "Eat to the Beat," but music was a constant presence in our house. In the old station wagon, I stared out the back, looking up at the stars and listening to "Blinded by the Light" and "Moonlight Feels Right," wondering "what the hell does any of this stuff mean?"

So as Marty DiBergi said about music to which you could not actually boogie, let’s boogie. Sept. 4, 1976 …

10.  This Masquerade – George Benson
  Amazon iTunes
9.  Lowdown – Boz Scaggs  Amazon iTunes
8.  Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Elton John & Kiki Dee  Amazon iTunes
7.  A Fifth of Beethoven – Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band  Amazon iTunes
6.  Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry  Amazon iTunes
5.  (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty – KC & The Sunshine Band  Amazon iTunes
4.  I’d Really Love To See You Tonight – England Dan & John Ford Coley  Amazon iTunes
3.  Let ‘Em In – Wings  Amazon iTunes
2.  You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine – Lou Rawls  Amazon iTunes
1.  You Should Be Dancing – Bee Gees  Amazon

10.  This Masquerade – George Benson (download)

This was the one song I couldn’t place when Jason sent me the list. It sprang back into my head within a few seconds, though I’d never put "George Benson," "This Masquerade" and the trademark guitar-doubling-vocal treatment together in one thought. Like everyone else, "George Benson" is mapped to two items in my head … "On Broadway" and "smooth jazz."

Yet this, not middle-school "jazz" band favorite "On Broadway," was Benson’s breakthrough, taking the Grammy for Record of the Year. The Wikipedians tell us it was the first song to top the pop, jazz and R&B charts. The rock charts apparently were preoccupied with … well, something.

Benson won a few more Grammys over the next few years, then endured a 23-year drought until taking TWO in 2006. Some sort of collaboration with Al Jarreau and Jill Scott.

Jason thinks this sounds a bit like Stevie Wonder. I think it sounds like Jamiroquai.

9.  Lowdown – Boz Scaggs

 I think Boz Scaggs and I had the same English teacher. That’s the only reason I know he started playing music with Steve Miller.

 But while Miller had decades of hit songs with lyrics fresh from the "I don’t know — I just needed a three-syllable word" school, Scaggs had basically five good years, starting and peaking here. The album "Silk Degrees" hit #2 on the main chart and #6 on "Black Albums," which is a bit of a surprise since neither Scaggs nor the album is black. (Source: AllMusic. The #1 Black Album of all time, of course, is "Smell the Glove.")

"Lowdown" is Scaggs’ only Top 10 hit — "Lido Shuffle," also from "Silk Degrees," stalled at #11 — making it all the way to #3. You may not recognize the name, but you know the groove, supplied by the Toto rhythm section of Jeff Porcaro and David Hungate. This bizarre performance clip will remind you.

The groove is gold, the tune is complex and cool. Check the video and the tab for:

– Vague blues-style cautionary lyrics, which Scaggs scats over the chords

– Intro: Em9, A13 (flute enters third time). The instrumental break has chords that look like a cat walked across the keyboard. Seriously, F#m7-5/C?? WTF#??

This — and Benson’s tune — were smooth jazz before it degenerated into Kenny G, taking the musical complexity of jazz and putting it in a pop format. We should have more music like this.

And yet if you enter "Lowdown" in Wikipedia, you get some old Chicago song.

8.  Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Elton John & Kiki Dee

Want some painfully awkward video magic? Check out Kiki Dee in this clip …


"Hey! Where’s this guy dragging me? Where am … hey! He’s Elton John! What does he want from me? Oh, should I sing? OK — THINK, Kiki, think! What’s a good reply to ‘don’t go breaking my heart’? Maybe ‘I couldn’t if I tried’? Hey, that’s good! Maybe I’ll dance a little! Oh, he’s pulling me back to the mike — I guess I should sing more. …

"(2:30) What the … did Elton just kiss my overalls? And now what? We’re line-dancing? OK, try to keep up. They’re apparently filming this. But it’ll just be between me and Elton, right?"

So remember this the next time you’re inclined to dis Stevie Wonder or Prince for excessive meddling in his proteges’ careers.

7.  A Fifth of Beethoven – Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band (download)

One classic piece of vinyl sitting somewhere at my dad’s house is "Saturday Night Fiedler." No, that’s not a typo. The cover has Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler in a disco pose, though at his age, that one step forward could easily have been planted in a grave.

By the time I declared myself a music major a decade and change after disco, classical musicians were no longer sitting alongside drummers figuring out new syncopation styles on the hi-hat. That’s a pity, though in a music department that had medieval instruments pouring out of a closet while requiring tympani players (including yours truly) to lug "the big one" between the rehearsal hall and auditorium, we wouldn’t have been able to replicate any of that.

We’ll leave that to the pros. Like Sean Hayes, who did an impressive rendition in his "Saturday Night Live" monologue. Couldn’t find video, but I found one guy who thinks Meco did this song. No, no.  Meco added disco to Star Wars, Star Trek and The Wizard of Oz.

Walter Murphy was a 23-year-old prodigy already working on The Tonight Show at this time. You know him today as the guy who does the terrific songs for Family Guy.  He won an Emmy in 2002 for "You’ve Got a Lot To See," the majestic romp through history Brian sings to the old recluse as he’s talking her out of her house.

6.  Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry

If you’re ever despondent about the relative states of good and evil in today’s world, consider this — when Vanilla Ice ripped off this legitimate classic, Wild Cherry dragged his butt to court and got a nice settlement.

Is it irony that few actual funk songs have funkier hooks than this one?

5.  (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty – KC & The Sunshine Band

Three good things came from this song:

– KC milked a little bit more of out the "That’s the Way I Like It" groove. (Seriously — sing both choruses at the same time — "That’s the way, uh huh, uh shake your booty …") That’ll help pay the 472 members of the Sunshine Band.

– The Frank Zappa album title Sheik Yerbouti

– Conversations that started with "Mom? What’s a booty?"

4.  I’d Really Love To See You Tonight – England Dan & John Ford Coley

The only thing I can add to the Mellow Gold entry is that I always thought that line was "I’m not talking ’bout Meridian." As in Meridian, Miss. Even at that age, I was a geography nerd. And I always pictured England Dan wearing a big hat like the Cat in the Hat, for reasons I can’t recall.

3.  Let ‘Em In – Wings

Sure, everyone agrees music suffered when Lennon’s acerbic wit was no longer a counterbalance to McCartney’s sunny benevolence, and this song proves the point. But isn’t it strange that a band so freaking huge in the ’70s has been completely forgotten? Sure, none of the throngs at Wings concerts circa 1976 were screaming for Denny Laine, but this band has disappeared from the McCartney bio like a key moment in the Nixon White House tapes. (Hey, we’re talking ’70s, aren’t we?)

Wings occasionally rocked. Not here. It’s McCartney’s cabaret/show-tune music with piano and occasional horns, producing interesting but unfortunately bland songs since 1967.

2.  You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine – Lou Rawls

And you’ll never find another vocal hook like this, or another baritone like his. And R&B may never find a better decade than this, though Weird Al has had fun plundering the 21st century catalog for priceless parodies.

Fun AllMusic fact on Rawls: He was pronounced dead after an auto accident with Sam Cooke. He lived another 48 years.

1.  You Should Be Dancing – Bee Gees

Scene: A Duke University classroom, 2030, Prof. Dure’s class on philosophy and music (yes, those were my majors. I am all kinds of useless.)

"And so in a belated response to Kant’s categorical imperative, we turn the philosophers Gibb, also known as the Bee Gees. Their response was what kind of imperative?"

(No response, as all the kids are busy on Facebook)

"Again, a what imperative?

(One kid finally looks up.) "A disco imperative?"

"Correct. And the disco imperative was well-received at first, but when the citizenry realized dancing was not a substitute for a moral system derived from social norms, they rushed to embrace Ayn Rand’s philosophy."


"Get it? Rush? Ayn Rand? Never mind … on to our comparison of John Stuart Mill and John Cougar Mellencamp …"

You’ve probably guessed I have nothing to say about this song. It’s a decent disco tune with a good bass line, released at a time when the Bee Gees were pretty much printing money. But I didn’t want to end with a shrug.

Thanks to Jason — everyone stop by to see me at Mostly Modern Media (yeah, I know the URL says "music" instead of "media" — I changed my mind but not my URL) or read my soccer stories in America’s largest color newspaper.

What an unbelievable job – give it up for Beau, everybody, for not only stepping in at the last minute but for attackin’ the charts like a champ!  As he mentioned, be sure to add Mostly Modern Media to your must-read list – and we’ll see you all back here next week for another CHART ATTACK!

  • David

    Link to “This Masquerade,” she no work.

    Otherwise, what a treat of a Chart Attack. Great writing, great memories. Thanks.

  • That’s my fault, not Beau’s.  That’s also the first time I’ve ever posted a broken link.  I guess since Jeff’s temporarily gone, somebody has to do it.  It’s fixed now.

  • amy777

    i was in my mom’s womb, about to be born 3 months after this chart attack.  she must’ve put the radio up to her belly, b/c i dig all of this music.  and i know that paul mccartney needed to be reigned in a little bit from his "fanciful" music after the beatles split, but i like the sound of that "let em in". 
    and of course, "you’ll never find another love like mine" is an amazing song.  i agree that the vocal hook is one of a kind.

  • "Lowdown" is an immortal groove, and yeah, that true marriage of silky jazz and pop is a lost art.  Scaggs also wrote "We’re All Alone", a beautiful complex melody, and Rita Coolidge’s version is one of my favorite pop vocals ever.

  • Dw Dunphy

    This chart is a lot like the music department of Best Buy: they stock the artists you like but never the CDs you want. Hey! Stop playing friggin’ Guitar Hero and help a customer out here, dammit! I really like "Lido Shuffle" and am dismayed that "Lowdown" did better. I’ll bet it’s because of the flutes. Same with McCartney who was making quality music at the time, and yet his most commonly remembered tracks from the period are this and the equally annoying "Coming Up". I’ll never forget the day my mom found out that "booty" meant "butt". She was so proud, and we were all so white. So very, very white. And finally, you’re sure Elton John and David Cross aren’t somehow related?

  • jb

    As the fall of 1976 is my favorite season of my favorite year, I do  not deliver the following lightly: I couldn’t have done this better myself. "Play That Funky Music" is one of the essential records of the 70s. It just is, the way the weather Just Is. "Lowdown," too.
    Thanks for putting me behind the wheel of my ’74 Hornet, driving to the football game.

  • Ken

    My absolute fave chart. Having a bad day, year..Run these songs through my MP-3 Player and I’m 9 years old again, it’s post Bi-Centenial Time. I’ve just seen Elton and Kiki on "Wonderama" where I first saw this video. Sunday Morning I hop in My dad’s 1975 Rust Brown AMC Gremlin as we make the early morning rounds in our Queens neighborhood delivering the NY Times  to the sounds of Boz Scaggs, and Lou Rawls.
    School is still a week away as we started later in those days. I have my new text book covers..No crappy paper bags from the A&P..This year I have my own Sweat Hog book covers.
    Fear not of what’s to come..Low will forever be remembered for that great tune…Wild Cherry will never be heard from again..The Lido Shuffle will become a hit in 77…Mccartney’s output will continue to diminish ( I always give him a break though..he was in the beatles.) And the Brothers Gibb are a little more than a year from setting the world on fire!!!
    Wow..One chart ..Music..all those great memories and feelings..
    Thanks for the SMILE!!!

  • Dw Dunphy

    Actually, Ken, I guess I should thank you. I remember 76 and 77, and while I’m sure selective memory has seen to erasing the worst moments, what remains is pretty fine even in spite of my bitching about lesser moments in music history. But things aren’t easy right now and much less fine. More than a few people I know are having more than a few bad days. I’m glad I don’t have children. It’s hard enough to look my nieces straight in the eyes and tell them they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, the way my parents did. Seeing people so uplifted by nothing more than a casual stroll down memory lane is nice. It helps me remember when I believed things so easily. I’m still hitching a ride if I catch McFly and the DeLorean coming my way, but until then, this will do…

  • Dw Dunphy

    Oh, and thank you Beau and Jason.

  • Jhensy

    Being an older fart, I get excited when you do a 70’s chart.
    I recently did a iPod reappraisal of "You Should Be Dancing"… it’s phenomenal. I ran with the ‘disco sucks’ crowd back at the time, but now I have no such biases and can appreciate it for the genius it is. There is SO MUCH going on in that song, and it’s pretty advanced for 1976. It’s almost prog, I shit you not.
    There’s thumping bass, the tightest horns ever, about 18 different percussion things going on, a synth that swoops from headphone to headphone, a great instrumental break with a great lead guitar… check it out again.
    And it took me years to learn that they’re singing "Whatcha doing there you’re layin’ on your back". The Bee Gees really had some indecipherable lyrics.

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  • Ray

    Another fantastic entry, Jason.  Hard to believe that the very same Kiki Dee belted out "I’ve Got The Music In Me" two years earlier… amazing what a funky pair of Garanimals overalls can do!
    One thing’s for sure, they don’t get any smoother than "You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine".  Aside from that and some of his other memorable recordings, I’ll always remember Lou Rawls for what had to be one of his final public performances:  singing the National Anthem before Game 2 of the 2005 World Series; he passed away less than three months later. 

  • I love Boz Scaggs, his stuff takes me back to summer’s at my father’s. Several years ago, a radio station in Seattle – 103.7 KMTT, released one of their “Mountain Music” cd’s with an acoustic, slowed down, live version of “Lowdown” and it was awesome. I would give anything to get my hands on that version.

  • Jodi, Scaggs’ 1999 release "Fade Into Light" has a slowed down version of "Lowdown" – but I think he falls into the smooth jazz trap on that version.

  • BET Jazz (before it disappeared down the rabbit hole and something called BETJ emerged at the other end) used to have Lou Rawls hosting a jazz show. The week he died they ran old clips of him almost continuously. He was one seriously smooth dude.
    Later, the rabbit ate jazz pop and something called smooth jazz emerged out the other end.

  • Great write-up, Beau!  And I loved reading the memories posted in the comments.

    The first album I ever owned was Benson’s Breezin’. I got it for Christmas, on cassette, in 1986.  I still have it, although the first cassette of it wore out, so my second copy of Breezin’, 18 years old at this point, is what remains.  "This Masquerade" is the only song with lyrics on the entire album, but its success took Benson in a new direction, which resulted in two of my favorite songs from childhood, "Give Me the Night" and "Turn Your Love Around."

    Hear hear for "We’re All Alone," Scraps.  Scaggs’s "Breakdown Dead Ahead" is one of my favorite songs ever.  He may have had only a few years at the top, but he didn’t waste any time making quality songs.

    McCartney and Capitol put out a two-disc Wings compilation (which did have solo McCartney songs on it) and an accompanying DVD called Wingspan in 2001, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that Wings has been forgotten.  There are tons of great songs on Wingspan that I’d never heard before.  I highly recommend it.  And let’s not forget that Lennon made his share of solo shit.

    I prefer "Lady Love" to "You’ll Never …," but I can’t deny Lou Rawls was great at what he did.  "A Natural Man" is also a classic by him, although I could’ve done without hearing my asshole ex-neighbor screaming it into a microphone during a solo karaoke session in his apartment.

    "Whatcha doin’ sittin’ on your butt" is what I thought the Bee Gees were singing instead of "layin’ on your back."  Now I know.  I’ve always liked disco, but I was too young in the late ’70s to even know what a "Disco Sucks" bandwagon was.  A lot of great music came out of that era, and if you still don’t like disco, then that means you’re a racist and a homophobe.  Sorry, but it’s a fact. And the only way you can mend your ways is to listen to "Disco Duck" 2,000 times in a row.  (Sorry, but you have to start at the bottom.)

  • I thought they were saying "put it in your butt."

    Still think that, actually.

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