We’re back with hour #3 on the American Top 40 countdown from May 12th, 1979.
And Casey introduces this decagon of funk as coming from Philadelphia, the home of liberty, cream cheese, and the hoagie, named after Hoagy Carmichael. The last one is debatable, and the cream cheese was actually created in update New York. The band is actually from Trenton, NJ but signed with Philadelphia International for the first album back in 1976. Their first big hit on the Salsoul label will top the R&B & Disco Top 100 charts. In the Top 40, it’s resting at its peak. And, oh, what a jam it is.
De La Soul put that intro to good use in this track from 1991.
GQ was the band from the roughest area in the US (South Bronx) that signed with the only record company that showed up (Arista) to their basement audition. The story leaves out that these guys had already cut a few singles for Vigor and charted on the R&B charts with a song called Zone, which peaked at #92. This band was tight and, had companies not dramatically shifted away from Disco within a year, this quartet might have had a longer career. As it stands, this is the first of two Top 20 hits from the group and one of my favorite Disco songs from that era.
Fun Fact: Bass player Keith “Sabu” Crier was the uncle of future New Jack singer Keith Sweat.
There’s an exercise in Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People where you’re asked to write your own eulogy. The idea is, to know where you’re going, you need to start at the end and name the things you want to accomplish. I always had trouble with that exercise. Recently I’ve been creating a playlist on Spotify for my loved ones to play at a party when I die. But if all else fails, just play Breakfast In America back to front, and my spirit will be happy.
This song takes the air out of the whole show. I wouldn’t blame anyone if they turned it off or fell asleep. That said, White people needed their sad ballad fix back then, which is why it will hit #4 on the Pop charts and #1 on AC charts. It will even make the UK Top 10.
Thankfully George comes in and shows us how it’s done. Casey mentions that he had been retired for a few years, but the near-fatal crash of Formula One drive, Niki Lauda, inspired him to write songs again. I have never heard that story before. And in George’s autobiography, I, Me, Mine, published one year later, he says he wrote this out of frustrations about a leaky roof. Either way, this is easily my favorite solo hit of his, and it always makes me feel good when I hear it. This will be as high as it will go.
Fun Fact; The drummer on this song is Andy Newmark. Next year he will play on John Lennon’s Double Fantasy album.
Here’s a tune by a Montreal pianist recorded and released in 1974, but it bombed. See, we already had Marvin Hamlisch that year, and the rule is one pianist per year. So Frank had to wait it out five more years, politely as Canadians do, until a track like this stuck out so much that it could be a hit. It falls from its height of #3 down twelve notches this week. I feel bad for all of the young girls who got a music box with this tune in it that Christmas.
Now it’s the second and final LDD, and it’s an unusual one as the young boy from Ohio wrote it sends the song out to himself. It seems that he got braces and the hell that he gets from friends feels like fire. So he requests that Casey play the song Fire by Pointer Sisters for him. Why does it seem like this kid grew up to be a politician?
Here’s another former #1 single and the only Pop hit for this D.C.-born singer. It’s a cover of the Eddie Floyd 1966 classic, and it’s the fourth of five cover songs in the countdown. No diss to Amii, but this is one of my least favorite Disco songs, mostly because of the gregarious production.
Casey introduces Orleans by talking about Woodstock, which happened ten years previous, and Woodstock 79, which was discussed but never happened. [The debacle known as Woodstock 50 is a fascinating story.] The band had actually split after John Hall left in 1977. But slowly, the Hoppen brothers gathered a few new players and released their first Hall-less album, Forever, in 1979 that featured this big hit two spots away from its peak. Unfortunately, their label Infinity went under, and that siphoned most of the gas out of the tank.
Now Casey plays the 90th #1 song of the decade, You’re Sixteen by Ringo Starr, a cover of Johnny Burnette’s 1960 Top 10. But Ringo’s version had an ace in the hole – Paul McCartney doing a kazoo-like solo.
Fun Fact: Billy Ocean’s 1988 #1 smash, Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car, gets its title from a line in You’re Sixteen.
You may not know the original version of this song written by Todd Rundgren and released on Utopia’s Oops Wrong Planet in 1977. Seals and Coley rescue it from obscurity with a heartfelt performance and sax licks by Ernie Watts that pushed it all the way up to #10. It will be their last Top 40 hit. Ironically their final album, Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive features two songs that will become hits for other artists – Broken Hearted Me for Anne Murray and What’s Forever For by Michael Martin Murphey. Something about giveth and taketh away…
Do you love Boogie Child? Well, here’s the Gibb brothers’ 79 update and the final of six #1 songs in a row and easily their most forgotten. I love all their stuff, and Spirits Having Flown is one of their best albums. But I feel this hit the top purely on momentum. It will break up Donna Summer’s three-week #1 run with Hot Stuff in just a few weeks. Also, if you do this at karaoke, you’re a superstar!
I thought Feist did a great job covering this one back in 2004.
The numbers get smaller. The hits get bigger—ten more to go in the next post.