Happy Friday, everybody, and welcome back to another edition of CHART ATTACK! This week’s Top 10 is relatively diverse, with a bunch of artists who stand absolutely no chance of getting anywhere on the charts ever again. There are a few genuinely great songs on this chart, a few I think I’m supposed to hate but don’t, and a few that are seriously terrible. They’re all a part of March 21, 1976!
10.Á‚ Money Honey — Bay City Rollers Amazon iTunes
9. Right Back Where We Started From — Maxine Nightingale Amazon iTunes
8. Let Your Love Flow — Bellamy Brothers Amazon iTunes
7. Dream On — Aerosmith Amazon iTunes
6. Sweet Thing — Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan Amazon iTunes
5. Disco Lady — Johnnie Taylor Amazon iTunes
4. All By Myself — Eric Carmen Amazon iTunes
3. Lonely Night (Angel Face) — Captain & Tennille Amazon iTunes
2. Dream Weaver — Gary Wright Amazon iTunes
1. December 1963 (Oh, What a Night) — The Four Seasons Amazon iTunes
10. Money Honey — Bay City Rollers (download)
So here’s one I think I’m supposed to hate. It’s by the Bay City Rollers, right? Why wouldn’t I mock it? Well, honestly, if I didn’t know this song was by the Bay City Rollers, I wouldn’t have any reason to mock it. I’m not offended by it. The song kind of boogies in a rock-ish way, and I think both the music and harmonies are pretty solid.
The Bay City Rollers are often considered one-hit wonders in America because of “Saturday Night” (and okay, that song does kind of suck), but “Money Honey” reached #9, and the band racked up six songs in the Top 40 between ’75 and ’77.
I don’t know. Take a listen. What do you think?
9. Right Back Where We Started From — Maxine Nightingale
This song is certainly quite popular — everybody knows it — and has a catchy chorus, but I find it unbelievably annoying. It’s mainly a result of the drums and the handclaps: They continue on and on, never stopping for a second, seemingly determined to drive us nowhere in particular but crazy. The song just goes nowhere. Ugh. And it’s possible Maxine Nightingale felt the same way: according to Wikipedia, when approached to record the song, she agreed to do so only if she could release it under a pseudonym. (It wasn’t released under a pseudonym.) It was her biggest hit, peaking at #2, with “Lead Me On” coming in second in 1979. We’ll be talking about that one in a future Mellow Gold post.
I figured out another reason why this song annoys me: it reminds me of Captain & Tennille. And on another note, can you imagine having to sing backing vocals on this song? I think I’d shoot myself.
8. Let Your Love Flow — Bellamy Brothers
I recently heard someone play a fantastic cover of “Let Your Love Flow,” but I can’t remember who it was or when I heard it. All I remember is that they did a fantastic job on the chorus and “bird on a wing” became much more southern — like “bird on a wang.” Written out, that looks awful, but I think you know what I mean. In any case, I have been all over the Internet for two days trying to track down this cover, and I just can’t do it. I’m pissed that I’m going to lose sleep over a Bellamy Brothers cover.
“Let Your Love Flow” is a really great song, and who do we have to thank for it? Roadies. Not just one roadie, either. David Bellamy’s producer, Phil Gernhard, often hired Neil Diamond’s touring band for studio sessions, and one of Diamond’s roadies, Larry Williams, was also an aspiring singer-songwriter. He presented Gernhard with “Let Your Love Flow,” a song clearly written after one too many spins of “Listen to the Music.” David took a stab at recording it, but the results were unimpressive, and the track was shelved.
That’s roadie #1. Roadie #2 was David’s older brother, Howard, who was working as said roadie for one of the producer’s other acts Jim Stafford (“Spiders and Snakes,” covered in CHART ATTACK! 2/23/74). Gernhard heard Howard’s voice and somehow determined that he was the missing ingredient in “Let Your Love Flow.” (I think this part of the story is bullshit, but that’s just me.) Anyhoo, the Bellamy Brothers re-recorded the song, and the rest is history. The track hit #1 for a week in May, and remains the group’s biggest hit. They cracked the Top 40 with “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me,” and no, I’m not making that up, that’s the full title, no parentheses or nothin’. It even reached the top of the country charts in 1979. Shame on them.
The Bellamy Brothers are still around. I’d like to think that their biggest exposure since the late ’70s was in our 2007 Mellowmas coverage, but last year “Let Your Love Flow” was revived for a Barclaycard ad in the UK, and the song became a hit once more. Good for the Bellamy Brothers, but it’s inspired a ridiculous amount of unnecessary remixes. They also released an album called Jesus is Coming, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little disappointed that it wasn’t subtitled …Everybody Look Busy.
Here’s the duo performing on German television in the ’70s. Check out that mustache!
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7. Dream On — Aerosmith
Break out your lighters, Popdosers! And your weed, too! And hell, if you’ve got any coke, might as well do that also. Because who doesn’t love “Dream On”? I know I love it. The keys and strings are beautiful and everyone in the band gives a solid performance. Well, maybe not Steven Tyler. He’s virtually unrecognizable here (there’s a big debate over at Songfacts about whether it’s Tyler or Joe Perry singing this song — it’s definitely Tyler). He’s unrecognizable mainly for two reasons: first, there’s that god-awful vibrato in his voice. Second, there aren’t any disgusting double entendres in the lyrics. When is someone going to tell Steven Tyler that he’s not sexy? He’s creepy! And one day, Tom Hamilton is going to grow a pair and tell him, I just know it.
Wait, I know who doesn’t love this song: Joe Perry. Perry protested the release of the song as a single, as he didn’t want Aerosmith to become known as a “ballad” band. I’m curious what his thoughts are on “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” (“I need to pay for the renovations on my third house.”) The song was initially released in 1973, and though it was popular in their home city of Boston, it only reached #59 on the charts. Re-released in 1976 to capitalize on the success of Toys in the Attic, the song peaked at #6, making it the band’s first Top 10.
I’d like to take a moment of silence to recall all the countless high school bands who have ruined this song — my band included. The first time we rehearsed this song, I sang it and went up into the upper octave at the end, the way Tyler does. The entire band stopped playing. Our bassist — normally a very reserved guy — looked at me and said, completely stone-faced, “Don’t you EVER do that again.”
For no other reason except I like fucking with you guys, here’s Ronnie James Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen covering “Dream On.”
Ronnie James Dio & Yngwie Malmsteen — Dream On (download)
6. Sweet Thing — Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan (download)
I love Chaka Khan. I always feel guilty when I accidentally mix up her and Patti LaBelle in my head, because I hate Patti LaBelle. She sucks bigtime. But Chaka’s awesome, and so is this song. A nice, relaxing groove with a great vocal. Not much more to say about it, except that it peaked at #5 and was covered by Mary J. Blige on her debut album What’s the 411?, reaching #28 in 1992.
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5. Disco Lady — Johnnie Taylor
Supposedly Johnnie Taylor would get all pissed off when people would ask him why his song wasn’t a disco track. “We were just talking about disco,” he’d reply. Well, serves you right for releasing a song called “Disco Lady,” asshole! I wonder if Townshend ran into these problems with “Sister Disco.” Probably not.
Taylor had a number of solid hits in the ’60s while recording for Stax. “Who’s Making Love?” reached #5 in December of 1968, and “I Believe In You (You Believe In Me)” made it to #11 in August of 1973. (Sadly, the awesomely titled “Cheaper to Keep Her” only made it to #15 the same year.) However, “Disco Lady,” recorded and released once Taylor moved to Columbia Records, was clearly his biggest hit: it reached #1 and was actually the first single to ever be certified platinum by the RIAA. It was also the first single to be issued with the sticker “WARNING: NOT TO BE PLAYED WITHOUT FORNICATION.” Have you listened to these lyrics? You’re filthy, Johnnie Taylor.
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4. All By Myself — Eric Carmen
This song has been covered numerous times — most notably by Celine Dion in ’96, resulting in a #4 hit on the Hot 100 — and has been used as a point of parody in a number of movies. The crazy thing about it is that those parodies really aren’t exaggerating the song — it’s incredibly morose. At the moment, I can’t think of another genuinely mopey, self-pitying, depressing song that made it this far on the Top 10. (If you can, though, please share with the rest of the class.) Carmen’s vocal, the fact that the drums actually slow down going into the chorus, and the Áƒ¼ber-long piano interlude in the middle just make this perfect for a compilation called, I don’t know, Songs for Jumping Off a Bridge. Time-Life, are you guys listening? This is a great idea.
Carmen actually stole from two artists when composing “All By Myself”: the first was himself, lifting the chorus from “Let’s Pretend,” a song he wrote while a member of the Raspberries in 1973. The second was Sergei Rachmaninoff. Carmen fashioned the verse from the melody of “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18,” believing (incorrectly) that the song was in the public domain. He didn’t figure out his mistake until after the release, and had to work out a settlement with Rachmaninoff’s estate. All versions of the song now credit both composers.
All these years, I’ve only owned the edited version of the song, which comes in at around 4:20. The original version is a massive 7:13 (what the hell are you trying to do to people, Eric??), although honestly, the piano solo in the middle is quite beautiful. Here’s Carmen performing the song on Burt Sugarman’s The Midnight Special, introduced by Helen Reddy. Enjoy this clip while I quietly cry myself to sleep.
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3. Lonely Night (Angel Face) — Captain & Tennille
Okay, I can kind of tolerate “Love Will Keep Us Together,” but this song is just going too far. It’s irritating to me for a few reasons. For starters, I’m not a huge fan of Tennille’s lounge lizard voice — she sounds like she was born on the lido deck of a cruise ship. And Daryl Dragon sounds like he was born on the same ship, but emerged from a Casio instead of a vagina. His keyboard antics are slightly subdued here, but there are still enough of his trademark flourishes (including those awful bass “huh”s) to truly annoy me. You can hear the similarities between this song and “Love,” which makes sense, as both were written by stupid Neil Sedaka.
2. Dream Weaver — Gary Wright
If you are a Gary Wright fan, then I have great news for you: Popdose will be featuring an interview with the man sometime soon, led by Mojo Flucke and featuring questions from many members of the staff! I did not participate, because I know very little about Gary Wright, and I felt it would be obnoxious to ask him how he kept a straight face while singing the opening lines of this song (“I’ve just closed my eyes again/Climbed aboard the dream weaver train”). I think it’s a valid question, but you don’t get anybody to answer your other questions by asking that one.
So I did a bit of research on “Dream Weaver,” and oddly enough, the Wikipedia entries for both the song and the album (The Dream Weaver) neglect to mention that David Foster is all over this bitch. Terje mentioned it in one of his Into the Ear of Madness posts. As if you couldn’t tell from the record, it’s pretty much all synthesizers and keyboards.
Here’s Wright performing the song last year — and he’s taking it so seriously. God bless him.
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1. December 1963 (Oh, What a Night) — The Four Seasons
Who would’ve thought the Four Seasons would wind up with a #1 hit in 1976, 20 years after their first single? Of course, they were known as the Four Lovers then, and the Four Seasons of 1976 was quite different in lineup than the Four Seasons of the ’50s and ’60s, but still, quite an impressive feat. It wasn’t their only surprise hit, either: “Who Loves You” made its way to #3 in late 1975. “December 1963” was their last true hit on the Billboard charts, although a remixed version of the song made its way to #14 in 1994. The remix was totally unnecessary, by the way — they essentially removed the original drum part, which I’ve always found to be the best part of the song.
The song was written by Four Seasons member/producer Bob Gaudio and his wife Judy Parker, and sung by three members of the group: Frankie Valli, drummer Gerri Polci and bassist Don Ciccone. The original title was “December 1933” and celebrated the repeal of prohibition. Prohibition’s gone, everybody! Oh, what a night! Valli didn’t like the lyrics or much of the original melody, and eventually the song was revised into the version we know today.
I’m not sure when this version was recorded, and it’s not exactly the best version out there, but check out Polci wailing on those drums.
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And that’s it, folks! Thanks for reading — see you in a couple weeks for another Top 10 rundown!