I know what you’re thinking: isn’t Popdose closed for the season?Â What the hell is CHART ATTACK! doing here?Â You raise a good point, but today’s post is here for two reasons.Â First, I scheduled this CHART ATTACK! well over a year ago, before Popdose was even hatched, and second, today’s chart is by our good friend (and talented writer) David Eastman.Â And we all owe a big debt of gratitude to David Eastman.Â You wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for him.
You see, it was back in September ’07 when our fearless leader Jefito had his website, well, pwned.Â His web hosting company went under, and took all of Jeff’s hard work with him.Â Jeff wasn’t so sure he ever wanted to bother doing a personal website again.Â I wrote a post about it, and in the comments, Mr. Eastman wrote the following:
I humbly submit that Jeff and Jason join forces, divvy up the work, and rely on a growing cadre of eager submitters to build J-blog v. 2.0.
Jeff could be the editor and do whatever features he pleased, Jason could do Mellow Gold and post McD. pictures, and the rest of us could kick in other flotsam on a regular basis to help them build the bestest blog ever. It’d be like Voltron!
Well, it didn’t exactly happen just like that, but Jeff and I took David’s suggestion to heart, and a few months later, Popdose was born.Â So this holiday season, when you’re either reflecting on how thankful you are for Popdose or cursing us for the Mellowmas dreck we’re putting you through, remember that it’s pretty much because of David.
On that note, enjoy one final CHART ATTACK! for 2008 and we’ll see you in the new year.Â Take it away, David!Â — JH
1977 was a monster. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was named top single of the previous 25 years. Punk spewed forth in the form of the Damned, the Clash, the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Billy Joel planted his flag with The Stranger; Steely Dan gave us Aja; Fleetwood Mac unleashed a little collection known as Rumors. The Police, Van Halen, the Cars and Devo all signed their first record contracts. Led Zeppelin and the Supremes, meanwhile, performed their last US concerts. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane went down. Studio 54 went up. And Elvis Presley, the King of it all, died on his porcelain throne.
Yeah, ’77 was huge. But man, speaking of toilets …
Ha-ha, I kid, of course! The pop charts of ’77 were as good as the greater rock scene; bedecked in gems the likes of which we’ve ha-ha-ha-ha, I kid you again! A lot of this stuff sucked. Not all of it, but a lot of it. Really, there must have been something in the water that year. (Note: the obvious Jonestown joke would not be operative for another 11 months.) That said, most of these songs have long been lurking on my iPod, so you can’t trust me for anything but hypocrisy. Hey, speaking of awkward segues, let’s talk about the week of December 5, 1977:
10.Â (Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again — L.T.D. Amazon iTunes
9.Â It’s So Easy — Linda Ronstadt Amazon iTunes
8.Â Boogie Nights — Heatwave Amazon iTunes
7.Â We’re All Alone — Rita Coolidge Amazon iTunes
6.Â Heaven on the 7th Floor — Paul Nicholas Amazon
5.Â Blue Bayou — Linda Ronstadt Amazon iTunes
4.Â Baby, What a Big Surprise — Chicago Amazon iTunes
3.Â How Deep is Your Love — Bee Gees Amazon iTunes
2.Â Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue — Crystal Gayle Amazon iTunes
1.Â You Light Up My Life — Debby Boone Amazon iTunes
10. (Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again –- L.T.D.
L.T.D. was formed in 1968 by two former members of Sam & Dave’s backing group. Within a year they were fronted by drummer/vocalist Jeffrey “Wings of Love” Osborne. This song, the band’s second top 40 hit, was penned by Messrs. Zane Gray and Len Ron Hanks, who would later write hits for Tavares (“Never Knew Love Like This Before”) and Will Smith (“Da Butta”).
Hahahahahaha! I kid a third time! Wait, no I don’t. There really is a song called “Da Butta” by Will Smith. Damn. Well, in any event, L.T.D.’s little slice o’ funk is pleasant enough, and the echoes of Stax in the track start our Attack off pretty strong. Move to the groove with this Soul Train appearance, starring the USC Marching Band and 12 bolts of shiny red fabric:
9. It’s So Easy –- Linda Ronstadt
Wherein our heroine belts out a jingle for Swiffer. Done.
8. Boogie Nights –- Heatwave
Two Americans, two Brits, a Spaniard, a Czech and a Jamaican walk into a recording booth. Ba-zing! No joke here, though –- what they walk out with is “Boogie Nights,” the first single off their first album and an eventual platinum-selling #2 hit. Is it disco? Yes. Is it funk? Maybe. Is it R&B? A little. Most importantly, though, it’s the first chart appearance of one Mr. Rod Temperton. Temperton! Whom avid Popdosers will recognize as the man behind “Thriller,” “Rock with You,” “Yah Mo B There,” “Give Me the Night,” “Sweet Freedom,” and Can I Stop Now?
No, really -– can I stop now? Because I could go on. The dude’s a songwriting machine (think ATM). Move to the groove with this vintage TV appearance, starring six awkward guys dressed as Isis, channeling a drunken Blue Man Group:
That’s Rod on keys 27 seconds in, looking for all the world like your eighth-grade social studies teacher.
RANDOM THOUGHT #1 ABOUT THIS SONG: Listen to the breakdown and try not to rap “Fab Five Freddy told me everybody’s fly, D.J. spinning, I said my, my …”
RANDOM THOUGHT #2: Now listen to the chorus (while checking out the lineup) and try to not sing “Benetton! Get that groove, let it take you higher. Benetton! Make it move, set this place on fire.”
7. We’re All Alone -– Rita Coolidge
And so we come to Linda Ronstadt’s second entry this week, this one released under the pseudonym “Rita Coolidge.”
(Ed. Note: Rita Coolidge is not actually Linda Ronstadt.)
Huh. According to that there editor’s note, Rita Coolidge is not actually Linda Ronstadt. In fact, Rita is her own person, with her own career and everything. I suppose I should have known that, given her very public marriage to Kris Kristofferson (see Snipes, Wesley + vampires). Say, while we’re sort of on the subject of vampires, just like Ronstadt’s Buddy Holly cover at #9, this hit was another ditty that just refused to die. It originally appeared as the closing track to Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees.
Let’s see … pretty girl, pantsuit, overworked cover song … you understand my confusion now, yes? But back to the track: The organ here was played by Booker T., bass was the famed Lee Sklar, Dean Parks held down guitar duties, and the piano? Why, that’s none other than Mike Utley! Yeah! I don’t know him either!
BIOGRAPHY ALERT: In addition to Kris Kristofferson, Rita also hooked up with both Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. One hopes not simultaneously.
Here’s Rita backed by woodland MuppetsÂ®:
6. Heaven on the 7th Floor -– Paul Nicholas
Paul Nicholas signed with Robert Stigwood. His first label mates were the band Cream. His second single was written by Pete Townshend; his third was written and produced by David Bowie. He played a psycho killer in the movie Blind Terror, and hooked up with the Who again as creepy Cousin Kevin in Tommy. So what does our man Paul do with all this cred? Well, in 1977, he craps on it Lite Disco style, releasing what should have been the Top 40’s first, last and only ode to sex in a ThyssenKrupp (thanks, Aerosmith, for keeping that dream alive).
Check out the following clip. It’s just the song set to a still image, but oh, what an image it is: the album art to #1 Radio Hits of the ’70s, which might be the only place Rod Stewart and BTO share billing with Teri De Sario, Sammy Davis Jr. and Bobby “Boris” Pickett.
Man, I miss AM radio.
5. Blue Bayou -– Linda Ronstadt
I’m sorry, did I sell Linda Ronstadt short earlier in this write-up? Probably. As Jason wrote to me a while ago, “Lucky you! You get multiple Ronstadts, back when she was hot!” He was right, especially if you like denim flares. But I also get the “big obvious hit covers” Ronstadt, who rode the well worn backs of Holly and now Roy Orbison to success. Look, I know she’s an “interpreter” of other people’s material; I just happen to like my Ronstandt doing tunes with some tread left on ’em. Of course, I also liked her jaunt into new wave, so what do I know?
Actually, I know this: Linda really DID record commercial jingles for a while, my history-challenged Swiffer joke notwithstanding. She even made one with Frank Zappa, for Remington razors. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it on YouTube, or boy, you’d be in for a treat! (Theoretically. I’ve never actually heard it.)
Wandering lazily back, like a river, to “Blue Bayou” … the song comes from Linda’s Simple Dreams album, the cover of which, to Jason’s point, features our chanteuse looking fetching in her slightly-more-than-slightly-revealing kimono. The lyrics are about a bayou or something. Bayou is French for “Crying.”
4. Baby, What a Big Surprise – Chicago (download)
BWABS was Peter Cetera’s only contribution to Chicago XI in the roles of lead singer and songwriter. It was also Chicago’s last hit single with producer James William Guercio and guitarist/vocalist Terry Kath. The former went on to cattle ranching, methane well exploration and forming Country Music Television. The latter went on to shoot himself in a stupid handgun accident. The band, meanwhile, went on to spend a little time in the wilderness, before once again finding chart success with mega producer Terje Fjelde.
But back to BWABS, which is an acronym I made up out of laziness but now hold dear because it’s such fun to say. Carl Wilson sang backup on the track, alongside none other than famed singer/bassist/brother Tim Cetera –- who no doubt angrily clenches his jaw, Peter-style, every time somebody writes the phrase “famed singer/bassist/brother Tim Cetera.” BWABS.
3. How Deep is Your Love –- Bee Gees
Taken from Saturday Night Fever, the best-selling soundtrack of all time*, “How Deep Is Your Love” was originally intended for record mate Yvonne Elliman. (She got “If I Can’t Have You” instead –- the irony!) The single goes down in history as one of the Brothers Gibb’s two entries in Rolling Stones’ “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
And thus ends the Wikipedia portion of this entry. Now, on to the good stuff.
First, the performance: Just listen to that opening sigh! That’s a full THIRTEEN seconds of non-stop, gossamer Beege, mofos! Studio trickery? I dare say not. No, I suspect some sort of fraternal circular breathing. You know how some twins develop their own language in early childhood? Well, here we have some twins and an older, leonine genius. Whose facial hair alone could weave a melody angels would cry to. So here’s my theory: By genetics or magic, Barry inhales air through his nose, which Robin then exhales through his mouth. Maurice inhales Robin’s note through HIS nose, Barry continues the note, exhaling Robin’s breath, while Maurice exhales Robin’s note, during which the flow of wind softly whistles through Andy’s ears … it’s complicated. I thought of making a chart, but that seemed like a lot of effort. And the joke’s over now.
Now, the controversy: Several years after its release, this song was the subject of a huge copyright case. A Chicago songwriter by the name of Ronald Selle accused the Brothers Gibb of stealing the melody to his masterpiece, “Let it End.” He won the jury’s hearts, because the two songs are a lot alike. Or so I’m told, that is. I -– like most of Western Civilization -– have never heard Selle’s song. And therein lies the reason Selle was overturned by the judge. Hizzoner concluded, in a decision with wide-ranging implications for copyright law and enforcement, that as the Bee Gees had no access to Selle’s song, and Selle could never prove they had ever heard it, there’s no way to posit that the Gibbs had copied the artist. In fewer words, “no access, no infringement.” This is why, these days, all your demos get rejected without a play button being pushed.
Lawyers. They all should let us be.
Here’s a clip, straight from the movie, in which an angry Tony (Al Pacino) sends Fredo (Pony Boy) out to challenge the Warriors to “come out and play”:
* I refuse to recognize the legitimacy of “The Bodyguard.” And you cannot make me. I am legion.
2. Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue -– Crystal Gayle
Crystal Gayle was born Loretta Lynn’s sister. Eventually, she grew into Linda Ronstadt.
This song, a #1 country hit and Grammy winner for Best Female Country Vocal, has special meaning to me, as I was born with one brown eye and one blue eye. I got teased about it a lot growing up, and my classmates and even my friends rejected me often. Then, one day, I was asked to lead our local team in the Iditarod. We won, and suddenly I was a hero. You see, I’m an Alaskan malamute.
I’m sorry, was that lame? Well, it was also a lie. I’m really a Siberian husky. I made the lie -– and the lame, lame joke –- to illustrate a point: When asked about the song in a 2004 CMT interview, Gayle relayed a tale told her by the song’s author, Richard Leigh. In which he said he wrote the song about his blue-and-brown-eyed dog.
Lame! Lame! Lie! Lie! (This would be the point I’m making). No, I rather suspect that Mr. Leigh had graduated with honors from The School Of Country Music That Says You Must Put A Corny Pun About Opposites In Every Song You Write, the same institution that brought us “She Won’t Get Under Me (Til I Get Over You),” “I Broke Down (When We Broke Up),” “She’s Gettin’ Even (While I’m Gettin’ Odd)” and “A Dentist’s Life Is Filling (But Brace Yourself).”
MAMALIAN GENETICS ALERT: White dogs with a single blue eye have a high prevalence of deafness. I leave you to make your own jokes.
1.Â You Light Up My Life -– Debby Boone (download)
I am so conflicted about this song. I know I’m supposed to hate it, with every fiber of my being –- and, likely, and a handful of fibers from yours. After all, this is the soundtrack to Lawrence Welk, the dentist’ office, and the elevator Paul Nicholas shafted in. Plus, it was sung by the daughter of Pat Boone. And just typing “the daughter of Pat Boone” means that, on some level, I have to accept the fact (though not, thank God, the image) of Pat Boone having sex.
It’s treacly. It’s flaccid. It rocks you, at best, like a mild tropical depression. And yet … as the most successful single of the ’70s, it is also part of my childhood. And at the time, I liked it. We sang this song every week in second grade, as part of our Friday morning assemblies. Mao couldn’t top that kind of indoctrination. Worse, my sweet little sister, just four years old at the time, would sing this song at home with all the heart her lungs could muster, the memory of which just melts me. So, here we are: I end this Attack with the worst song on it, and lay bare my soft spot for it.
Still, I can’t help but wonder how much better it might have been had Ronstadt sung it.
Done cackling?Â I’m not, and I’ve been reading and re-reading this entry all week.Â Leave your praise/criticism/mockings in the comments and we’ll see you soon!Â Well done, David! – JH