We’re back with the next ten songs from the AT40 countdown from the week of May 12th, 1979. But before we hear #30, Casey resolves his teased story of the singer who was plucked from the streets and became a star. It was Gary U.S. Bonds, who had tallied seven Top 40 hits, including Quarter To Three, which hit #1 in 1961. His music inspired legions of fans, including Bruce Springsteen, who would produce and write a #11 comeback hit for Gary in 1981 called This Little Girl.
Now on with the countdown…
Here’s the seventh debut of the week from the brother of Michael Lee Smith, leader of the band Starz who appeared in the Top 40 in the Spring of 1977 with Cherry Baby. Rex had made his Broadway debut in Grease the year before and was asked to star in a made-for-TV movie. Sooner Or Later, which aired on March 25th, 1979, is a creepy piece of manufactured teen drama, where Rex, a 23-year-old who was married to a Playboy bunny, played a 17-year-old who dates a 13-year-old, who pretends to be a 16-year-old, played by Denise Miller who was really that age. It spawned this dramatic ballad co-written by the guy who wrote the theme to Sesame Street and will reach #10.
To counterbalance the swell of disco in 1978, pop radio started to program some solid upbeat pop-rock records into the mix. Luckily for them, there were many good ones, such as Hot Child In the City, Baker Street, and Love Is Like Oxygen. Some of these tunes are forgotten because they weren’t necessarily a part of any movement, just good music for the times. [I think this is why Baker Street gets lumped into Yacht Rock.] This single from the New York septet’s Mutt Lange-produced debut has definitely been lost in the shuffle. It will climb up three more spots.
Fun Fact: Sax player Mark Rivera will join Billy Joel’s band during the An Innocent Man sessions.
Bad Benson scatted his way up to #18 with an L.T.D. cover. This slice of disco jazz is the first single on the countdown on its way down, ten big notches.
Casey then challenges the audience to a mini-quiz: Which member of the Beatles uses a stage name? Then he gives us three choices to choose, of which one is Richard Starkey. I’m sure it’s tough to come up with fun tidbits weekly, but these writers were working on fumes this week. Oddly, two other solo Beatles are on the charts this week.
This is the week’s highest debut, moving up from #53 in its third week on the Hot 100. It’s the first of two Sledge sister jams on the countdown and the first of three Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards productions. Only Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff kept it out of the top spot. But we know it went #1 in Pittsburgh that year.
Foxy is not a one-hit-wonder, at least not as much as you’d like them to be. There’s something about this Miami’s band sound that reminds me of the trashier side of Disco. At least the guitar in this song doesn’t sound like it’s throwing up as it does on Get Off. Five more ticks are all this single will rise.
Casey teases another story about how New York was regarded as a shithole in the 70s until Disco saved it. Hahaha, good one.
Once Livvy showed up in her skin-tight leather and red Candies at the end of Grease, she was never the same. Her new album, Totally Hot, played on her tougher image and nabbed her a #3 hit with the slinky A Little More Love. This follow-up has some disco vibes, but it’s straight-up pop-rock. It moves up ten spots on its way to a #11 zenith. Casey also mentions that she is one of seven female soloists in the countdown. That’s way better than saying, girly singers.
Casey elaborates on how disco saved New York with not much evidence to support it. He mentions that it gave a lot of folks civic pride. Did that come straight from the chamber of Commerce or Ed Koch?
One of the most famous B-sides in history slides down eleven spaces after a three-week run at the top in March. It’s the longest active song in the Top 40, standing at seventeen weeks. [It will drop ut next week.] I would frequently hear my Mom singing this song and expected to hear that I’d splitting weekends with my parents. Otherwise, this is a glorious piece of disco perfection.
Also, do not try to resuscitate someone to this song.
In precisely two months from now, Disco demolition night will be held at Comiskey Park in Chicago. I truly believe that had ad agencies not shoved disco everything down our throats in a short window of time, the music would have continued to peacefully co-exist. If you don’t believe me, look at New Wave and then freestyle, hip-hop, house, trance, electropop. Or hell, look at the charts today. It’s what we always come back to.
That’s all to say that there was plenty of rock music still getting Pop airplay, such as Bad Company, one of nineteen groups on the countdown. Even though this track will only reach #13, the 45 will sell a million copies. The band won’t have another hit until 1991’s If You Needed Somebody.
Casey steps away from the charts and digs into the AT40 archives to play the eighty-ninth #1 from the 70s, Show And Tell by Al Wilson.
After a Disco shuckatoom, we’re back.
This is one of five songs in the countdown that has hit #1 already, which it did four weeks ago. It scores a 100 on the Yachstki scale, and it’s where the Doobie bounce originated. It will win a Grammy for Record and Song of the Year. For me, the beauty of this song is all about Michael McDonald’s phrasing and melody. Never has an anxiety-ridden song about a break-up felt so soothing.
21. Styx – Renegade
Here’s the Chicago quintet who’s enjoying their Top 40 hit move up two notches on its way to #16. This was the second single from their eighth album, Pieces Of Eight, and it was written and sung by guitarist Tommy Shaw. He even takes a rare solo. And if you are a Brewers fan, you know your relief pitcher is coming in if they play this song.
We’re halfway through the countdown, and Casey teases us with a story about a band who auditioned iht debasement in one of the roughest parts of the country. And the only record company that showed up signed them. Can you guess who that was? We’ll have details, next post.