Archive for the 'Chart Attack!' Category

Mellow Gold, Chart Attack And Others…at Popdose

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

It occurred to me this morning that there may be some people following jasonhare.com who either haven’t jumped on the Popdose train or may have missed my posts over there. As I mentioned earlier, the majority of my musical content will now be featured at Popdose, but when I do post an article, I’ll try to post an update here with a specific URL for you. In the future, you’ll be able to click on my author page at Popdose, and automatically pull up any articles I’ve written. For now, though:

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold: Come join us as we make fun of smug ol’ Paul Anka!

CHART ATTACK: 2/7/87: More than you ever wanted to know about Billy Vera!

Songs For The Dumped: Come find out why getting dumped on my ass reminds me of Ann-Margret writhing in baked beans.

Enjoy!

CHART ATTACK! #49: 11/26/88

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

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Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Due to my hectic holiday schedule, this post comes a few days early. Hope you’re all preparing to stuff your faces silly with food and drink and then pass out. (Does that only happen to me?) This Thanksgiving, I’m especially thankful to all of you who still come back and read my crap, despite my erratic posting schedule. And how do I thank you? By presenting you with a not-so-classic Top 10 from November 26, 1988!

10. The Loco-Motion – Kylie Minogue Amazon
9. Giving You The Best That I Got – Anita Baker Amazon iTunes
8. Wild, Wild West – The Escape Club Amazon iTunes
7. I Don’t Want Your Love – Duran Duran Amazon iTunes
6. Look Away – Chicago Amazon iTunes
5. Kissing A Fool – George Michael Amazon iTunes
4. How Can I Fall? – Breathe Amazon
3. Desire – U2 Amazon iTunes
2. Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby) – Will To Power Amazon iTunes
1. Bad Medicine – Bon Jovi Amazon iTunes

Let me guess: you’re already feeling like you ate too much turkey, right?

10. The Loco-Motion – Kylie Minogue

We discussed “The Loco-Motion” back in Chart Attack! #4. There’s not much more to be said about this song, so I’ll go ahead and reiterate that Minogue is just short of an institution in Australia and other parts of Europe, and still can’t get arrested here. My gym has a Kylie fetish, though, and their overhead music system plays four of her recent singles over and over again: “Come Into My World,” “Slow,” “Red Blooded Woman,” and “I Believe In You.” You’ve heard none of them (unless you also go to my gym), but what I find interesting is that they’re all great dance songs that sound drastically different from one another.

Okay, I thought of something to say about this stupid song. It’s notable for being one of the few singles to make the Top Five three times (Little Eva in 1972, Grand Funk Railroad in 1974, and Minogue here in ’88). Also, even though the instructions for doing The Loco-Motion are spelled out in the song, I still don’t know how to do it. Something about jumping up and jumping back? Does that really make this dance clear to everyone? Did Goffin and King really write this? Jesus.

9. Giving You The Best That I Got – Anita Baker

What the hell happened to Anita Baker? Where did she go? I can fully understand – and explain – why many of the top artists of 1988 are no longer on the charts. But Anita Baker had solid songs, and a beautiful, soulful voice. Okay, she got a little whiny at times, but that was no reason to exile her, was it? (Who am I talking to?) Well, I did so some research and it turns out whomever I’m talking to did not exile Anita Baker. Baker chose to take a break for a couple of years. She also had a baby, dealt with the death of her parents, and had a messy lawsuit due to some faulty recording equipment she rented. She hasn’t released a record since 2005, and she has no official webpage. So once again, I ask: what the hell happened to Anita Baker?

My favorite part of this song when she sings the line “I’d bet everything on my wedding ring,” and then briefly moans down two octaves. It’s at that moment where I always think, “holy shit, Anita Baker’s a dude!”

(Note: I just re-listened, and she doesn’t really sing that low. But as you can imagine, when I sing it, I go from Anita to Billy Dee in two seconds flat.)

8. Wild, Wild West – The Escape Club

Another track we discussed back in Chart Attack! #4. I don’t think I’ve actually thought about the song since then. I did go back to my childhood record collection to see if I could find the 12″, but I think maybe I gave it away for an issue of Playboy or something. I’m still waiting for one of you to confirm the altering of the line “Ronnie’s got a new gun” after Bush was elected to office, by the way.

7. I Don’t Want Your Love – Duran Duran Duranduran

Yeah, I thought that was a typo in my Billboard chart book, but apparently the band billed themselves as “Duranduran” on their releases during this period. I have no clue why, but I do know some actors who, when they weren’t making any progress, would change their last names to seem fresh and new to agents. I’m just saying.

There were only two years between Notorious and Big Thing, but – and this could be just my own interpretation – the Duran Duran that returned in 1988 was a different beast altogether – no longer a teenybopper band, but not yet defined as anything else. I still don’t know how to define them, between their acoustic sound of 1993 and whatever it is they’re doing now with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. (I haven’t heard the tracks but the whole thing kind of reeks of desperation to me.) I do like this track, though, and sadly, I think this is yet another one where I owned either the 45 or the cassette single. (Or, inexplicably, both.) I eventually purchased Big Thing as well, and realized I should have just stuck with the single.

6. Look Away – Chicago

Yeah! Take that, Peter Cetera! And you too, David Foster! Chicago, on their second Ceteraless album (don’t you agree that one of their releases should have actually been called Ceteraless?), did away with Foster’s production in favor of hiring Ron Nevison for the job. Prior to working with Chicago, Nevison produced albums by Heart (in their big hair phase) and Ozzy Osbourne. Normally I’d be mocking him to shit, but I have nothing but respect for the man who started out his career as Chief Engineer on Quadrophenia. In any case, Nevison helped Chicago prove that, albeit for a brief period, they could find commercial success without the Cetera/Foster team: “Look Away” topped the charts for two weeks, and also reached #1 on the AC chart.

Regardless of its success, I know how you feel about it. It sucks. It’s a dumb power ballad, and it doesn’t feature any horns, and even worse, it was written by Diane Warren. I’ve learned to cope with this by pretending it has absolutely nothing to do with the Chicago of old. In fact, here’s a fun exercise: envision it as a Damn Yankees song, and imagine the look on Ted Nugent’s face.

5. Kissing A Fool – George Michael

“Excuse me, Mr. Michael? Would you mind just farting into this microphone? I’m pretty sure we can get it to #1 within the month.”

Okay, that’s not exactly true, but I really wanted to write that line. “Kissing A Fool” was the last and worst-performing single from Faith, but everything is relative: this means that the song only hit #5 on the Hot 100 (it reached #1 on AC). The four singles preceding it had all topped the charts, and “I Want Your Sex” was #2. So we can’t really fault George Michael, can we? In addition, “Kissing A Fool” was an untraditional single release, eschewing his previously-popular dance singles for a traditional, laid-back jazz number. Can you tell I’m, like, really defensive about George Michael? Additionally, “Kissing A Fool” is one of my all-time favorite songs of his, mainly because of the quality of the vocal: this was one of the few songs at the time where he really explored his lower register. (After discovering marijuana, Michael decided to explore said register just about all the time, and since at least 1996, it’s been a snooze-fest.)

4. How Can I Fall? – Breathe (download)

Wimpy. Sappy. Schmaltzy.

No, I’m not using these adjectives to describe “How Can I Fall.” I’m using them to describe me, the overly-sensitive little kid who owned the 45 of this song. I still think it’s pretty, actually, though I have no idea what they’re actually singing about. I like it better than “Hands to Heaven,” which was just a little too ethereal for me, but not as much as “Don’t Tell Me Lies,” and yes, this means I vividly remember all of Breathe’s Top 10 hits for the year.

Here’s the video. It’s pretty boring, honestly. I like the ’80s clothes, the fact there isn’t one person in the video that isn’t using serious hair product, and that the “bad guy” of the video seemingly goes to smack his girlfriend after losing a pretty serious game of stickball.

3. Desire – U2

I’ve spoken previously about my feelings on U2: they’re an overrated band, and every time I listen to them, I find it hard to get through more than 45 seconds of any given song. “Desire” is no different. Three chords repeated ad nauseum, and some mediocre harmonica playing. Why U2 felt the need to mimc Bo Diddley, I’ll never know. I’d take anything off of Zooropa anytime over this shamelessly derivative crap.

2. Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby) – Will To Power (download)

Pity all you poor, naive fools who heard either “Baby, I Love Your Way” or “Freebird” for the very first time in this terrible medley! Oh wait, that was me. Yes, that’s right: I hadn’t heard “Freebird” and hadn’t even heard of Peter Frampton until after I heard this song.

Will To Power was formed by Bob Rosenberg, a Miami-based DJ who was well-known for his on-air remixes and medleys. I have not been able to obtain confirmation that Rosenberg was stoned out of his gourd when he decided to mix these two songs together. Still, Rosenberg, along with Dr. J (not that Dr. J) and Suzi Carr, brought this medley to #1 for a week in December. Their previous release, “Dreamin’,” only reached #50 on the Billboard Hot 100, but was a popular regional hit, especially in the South Florida area, where it was the #1 song of 1987. (And yes, unsurprisingly, Rosenberg – the only constant member of the group – released “Dreamin’ (Again)” in 2005.) If “Dreamin’” doesn’t ring any bells (or, sadly, only rings your Vanessa Williams bell), take a listen to a clip. I barely listened to dance radio in the mid-’80s and I instantly recognized the song. You may also remember Will To Power from their cover of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love,” yet another song that had not hit my radar until after I heard the cover version. (See? You ask me to write, and then I embarrass you like this. One day, you will learn.)

Will To Power obtained their name from Nietzsche’s debut album famous concept. This becomes even more perplexing when you actually see a photo of Bob Rosenberg.

I love the “(Free Baby)” in the title. What the hell is the point of that? “Just so you know, I’m not only clever enough to put the two songs together, but I can put their titles together, too.” (flexes muscles, brushes long, Fabio-esque mane)

1. Bad Medicine – Bon Jovi

I can Bon Jovi-bash with the best of ‘em, but you’ll find nothing but love in my heart for “Bad Medicine.” Let’s face it: it’s fun, it’s rocking, and it successfully served its purpose as the fantastic lead-off single to New Jersey, at a time when all eyes were on the band to match the success of Slippery When Wet. If I recall correctly, the band had invited a whole bunch of kids into the recording studio after all potential tracks were completed, and asked them to pick the best songs for inclusion on the album. First thought: the kids know how to rock! Way to go, kids! Second thought: who are the little shits that chose “Ride Cowboy Ride” and “Love For Sale,” and is it too late to maybe bludgeon them?

Remember the video for “Bad Medicine?” Well, either way, you’re stuck watching it now! Behold: Bon Jovi in their late-80s, big-hair, shoulder-padded (I’m looking at you, Sambora) glory!

I really like this video. For starters, it has Sam Kinison. Secondly, it features tons of shots of their fans. I haven’t been to a Bon Jovi concert since maybe 2000, but I can tell you that their fans still dress like this, right down to the mullets. There aren’t as many shots of the guys, though, which is odd, because keyboardist David Bryan is a flaming homosexual. (Not true.)

There you go – another mediocre Top 10! So if you’re really looking to be thankful, be thankful that these songs aren’t on the 2007 charts. But speaking of the 2007 charts…if you’re interested in those, perhaps you should check out a column by our buddy Jefito over at Bullz-Eye called Billboarding. (To answer your next question: he’s working on coming back soon.) Thanks so much for reading, and see you again soon (promise) for another CHART ATTACK!

CHART ATTACK! #48: 10/8/77

Friday, October 5th, 2007

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You see? You see? I told you I wasn’t gone forever! Well, if I’m going to make you wait a couple of weeks for a new Friday post, I might as well give you what you want and head back to the ’70s. (I hope to eventually make you regret this.) Let’s get right to attacking October 8, 1977!

10. I Just Want To Be Your Everything – Andy Gibb Amazon iTunes
9. Brick House – Commodores Amazon iTunes
8. Cold As Ice – Foreigner Amazon iTunes
7. Boogie Nights – Heatwave Amazon iTunes
6. Best Of My Love – Emotions Amazon iTunes
5. That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll – Shaun Cassidy Amazon iTunes
4. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon Amazon iTunes
3. You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone Amazon iTunes
2. Keep It Comin’ Love – KC & The Sunshine Band Amazon iTunes
1. Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band – Meco Amazon iTunes

10. I Just Want To Be Your Everything – Andy Gibb

I reiterate what I said previously: screw Andy Gibb. I mean, did this guy do anything without Barry’s help? This is a freaking Bee Gees song. Just like “Shadow Dancing,” “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and the rest of his nine hits to make the Top 40. Actually, that’s not completely fair; I think he had a hand in writing maybe two of them. But I still say screw Andy Gibb for using Barry’s songs to buy more cocaine. I’ve tried to think of at least one thing that Andy has over Barry, but all I could come up with is that I don’t think the Bee Gees ever appeared on a television special with ABBA and Olivia Newton-John.

Right? Aren’t you having a hard time figuring out whether it’s awful or awesome?

9. Brick House – Commodores

Now we’re talking! Yes! I don’t know what I can say about the awesomeness of “Brick House” – one of those songs that, for me, will never be overplayed – except that Songfacts has some interesting facts about the tune, including the one that’s included on a million hit songs: the “this was the last song written for the album, we swear we weren’t even going to put it on there” line. (Although if William King’s wife really did write the lyrics and leave them on his chest while he was sleeping, like some kind of Funk Santa Claus, that’s awesome.)

This song has been featured on a million soundtracks, and although my life was forever changed (and not for the better) when I heard the Muppets sing it during Muppets From Space, I think the most interesting use of the song would be the collaboration between Rob Zombie, Trina (?) and Lionel Richie on the soundtrack for Zombie’s House Of 1000 Corpses. Here it is. You’re welcome.

Rob Zombie, Lionel Richie and Trina – Brick House 2003 (download)

I can’t exactly figure out why Richie agreed to this (especially since he wasn’t the lead singer – or writer of the song), but it’s actually not that bad. I wouldn’t listen to it at work, though. Quite a few orgasm sounds. Aunt Mary, if you’re reading this, don’t download this song. There are orgasm sounds.

8. Cold As Ice – Foreigner

It’s hard to argue with early Foreigner, especially when their first album yielded kick-ass rock singles like this one, “Feels Like The First Time” and “Long, Long Way From Home.” They still had another 7 years of rocking before they fully grew breasts. Some people take longer to develop than others.

Here’s a great performance from 1981, back before Lou Gramm ate the other members of the band. I wish I could sing like this. Then I could be a rock star, instead of ripping on rock stars on some stupid website.

7. Boogie Nights – HeatwaveWow. I have never heard this song before. Ever. I don’t know how that happened. In fact, of the three Top 40 hits by Heatwave, the only one I know is “Always And Forever,” which didn’t do as well as “Boogie Nights” or “The Groove Line” (which I also had never heard before today). In any case, back to this song. I kind of love it. Funky, with a rock twist, with some great vocals all around. “Boogie Nights” was the group’s first single, and its highest charting.

The most interesting thing I can think to tell you about Heatwave right now is that Rod Temperton was one of the keyboardists. Rod either wrote or co-wrote a string of awesome songs for Michael Jackson, including “Rock With You,” “Thriller” and “Baby Be Mine” (one of the best off of Thriller, and totally underrated). Oh, he also had a hand in writing “Yah Mo Be There,” “Sweet Freedom,” and “Baby Come To Me,” which wasn’t McD but just as easily could have been McD. And here’s the most surprising thing about Rod Temperton.

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WHITE!

6. Best Of My Love – Emotions (download)

Is it possible to hear this song without booty shaking? Especially that fantastic opening? Love this song. I especially loved its prominence in the opening scene of Boogie Nights. Emotions originally consisted of Hutchinson sisters Jeanette, Wanda and Sheila, and the group had a number of R&B hits (as well as a few minor Hot 100 hits) starting in the late ’60s. However, it wasn’t until they teamed up with Earth, Wind & Fire frontman Maurice White that their career took off: White co-wrote and produced “Best Of My Love,” which spent five weeks at the top of the charts. They never replicated their 1977 success, although they came close in their credited collaboration with EWF, “Boogie Wonderland,” in 1979. Jeanette eventually left the group, having had a baby with, um, Philip Bailey of EWF (cue “Easy Lover” joke), but another Hutchinson sister, Pamela, replaced her. Emotions are still around, performing occasionally, and I’m imagining they’re probably pretty pissed that these guys got their domain name.

You know who loves Emotions? Mariah Carey. Her song “Dreamlover” samples one of their early hits (“Blind Alley”) and you can hear “Best Of My Love” all over her appropriately-titled, um, “Emotions.”

5. That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll – Shaun Cassidy

Who the hell elected somebody from the Cassidy family to tell us anything about rock n’ roll? This is bullshit. I hate this song. Hate the drums, hate the cheesy piano, hate the Brady Bunch-esque backing vocals. Hate the fact that he stole this song and “Hey Deanie” from Eric Carmen and made them into hits, while poor Eric Carmen was sitting around without a hit until “Hungry Eyes.” I do like one thing about this song: it’s under three minutes long.

Screw Shaun Cassidy. Screw him and Andy Gibb. Long live Rod Temperton. Here’s a YouTube of the song if you haven’t heard it. Everybody scream!


4. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon

Of course, this was the theme song to the Bond flick The Spy That Loved Me, and was the first of the Bond songs to feature a different title than the movie. I have to admit that I’ve never seen the majority of the Bond movies (you don’t have to lecture me, Jessica does it all the time), so I’m pretty sure my first exposure to this song was via a commercial. (Hangs head.)

I imagine it was pretty uncool to like this song from, oh, about 1985 until 1995, when Radiohead covered it. I can’t be certain, but this very well may be the first time a rock band has covered anything by Marvin Hamlisch.

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3. You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone

This song was everywhere for quite a few months. The week after this one, it reached #1, where it remained until Christmas Eve, when the Bee Gees (not Andy, screw that guy) took over. “You Light Up My Life” spent 10 weeks at the top, which at the time was quite a feat: only Elvis was in front of her, with an 11-week streak. The song won boatloads of awards: a Grammy and Oscar for Best Song (awarded to the song’s composer, Joseph Brooks), and a Best New Artist Grammy for Boone. The song was written for the movie of the same name, also directed by Brooks, which received horrible reviews. Thankfully for Boone, however, her version wasn’t featured in the movie. The movie version was sung by Kacey Cisyk. Poor Kacey. Her version peaked at #80 and was credited to “Original Cast.” She didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. Andy Gibb did, but not her.

What say you, Chart Attackers? Will anyone admit to liking this song? It wound up being the #1 song of the entire decade, but I have yet to hear anybody say anything positive about it. Even Brooks was a bit pissed about this version, seeing as Boone came out and told everyone that the “you” in the song was, for her, God. I was reading the Songfacts entry for this song, and came across this fantastic bit:

A man I know has been a DJ for about thirty years. He says that this is the one and only song that nobody ever requests. This song is like Nazism in Germany: It swept the country for a time, but afterward no one would ever admit to having anything to do with it.

Daaaaaamn. Harsh. And yet all I can do is wish I had written it first.

2. Keep It Comin’ Love – KC & The Sunshine Band

“I’m Your Boogie Man” is “Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty)” is “Keep It Comin’ Love” is “Get Down Tonight” is…you get the point. In fact, the only popular KC song that sounds different than the others is “Please Don’t Go,” and as we pointed out back in December, that song sucks.

(That above paragraph is taken from Chart Attack! #32. I just blatantly copied what worked last time and decided to pass it off as something new. Seemed appropriate.)

1. Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band – Meco (download)

Okay, I’ll come clean: this is really the only reason I picked this chart for this week. And why the hell not? This song combines two of the biggest events of the year, other than the day of my birth: disco and Star Wars. Two great tastes that…well, maybe I shouldn’t finish that sentence.

Let’s talk about Meco for a bit, though, because I highly doubt we’ll be talking about him on here again. Born Dominic Monardo but nicknamed Meco by, I don’t know, people, grew up playing the trombone like his dear ol’ dad, but like all trombonists, felt the need to give the ol’ middle finger to the world and follow his own path. Like the path of disco. Meco had his first taste of success with his co-production of Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye,” co-produced by Tony Bongiovi. (Yes. Jon Bon Jovi is his second cousin. Moving on.) His life was changed when Star Wars was released. According to The MECO Fan Page, Meco “alledges (sic) to have seen it four times more on the second day and more through the weekend.” I include this quote because I love that even the MECO Fan Page thinks Meco is full of shit.

Meco had this great idea for a Star Wars disco medley, and although Neil Bogart at Casablanca Records originally told him to suck it, the Star Wars grosses $omehow per$uaded him to change hi$ mind. “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” was released on the most awesomest album title ever, Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk.

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While we’re on the subject of awesomeness, here’s a picture of Meco.

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Kinda gives Hamlisch a run for his money, huh? All he needs is a weird lollipop on his lapel.

Anyway, “Star Wars/Cantina Theme” was a ridiculous success. Lounge lizards and unemployed dweebs couldn’t get enough of it. According to Wiki, and you should know right now that I am too lazy to fact-check this, the song is the biggest-selling instrumental single in the history of recorded music, as well as the only instrumental single ever to go platinum. How this beat out “Rise,” I’ll never know.

Meco went on to record disco versions of other scores, such as the themes from The Wizard Of Oz, Superman, and Star Trek. In 1982 he co-produced Kenny G’s debut solo album, and this is why Meco just beat out Andy Gibb for this week’s CHART ATTACK! D-Bag.

Enjoy this version of “Star Wars/Cantina Theme” (that’s an order, people!) and for you really crazy enthusiasts, I offer you the 12″ Disco Mix, clocking in at damn near sixteen minutes. It’s 14.5 MB, so everybody download one at a time. Thanks!

Meco – Star Wars/Cantina Theme (12″ Disco Mix) (download)

And that’ll do it for this week! Hey, thanks for sticking around. Slowing down the site a little bit allows me to spend more time on these songs. Jury’s still out on whether that’s a good thing. See you again soon for another edition of CHART ATTACK!

CHART ATTACK! #47: 9/4/76

Friday, September 7th, 2007

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."

(Silence)

"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!

CHART ATTACK! #46: 8/29/70

Friday, August 31st, 2007


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!