Hi everybody! I’m still exhausted from the CHART ATTACK! podcast — so let’s give it up for another guest writer! Dw. Dunphy needs no introduction — certainly you know him from his Dw. Dunphy On… series, Chartburn and numerous other posts here on Popdose. He’s thoughtful and always entertaining — and this week’s post is no different. Rock it, Dunphy! – JH
June 12th, 1976 is a pretty strange week in pop music, not only for what managed to get on the Top 10, but for what surrounded it. In short order, you had future classics floating in the Top 40 like Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon,” Peter Frampton’s “Show Me The Way” and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town,” as well as perennial favorites like Seals And Crofts’ “Get Closer” and The Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It To The Streets,” freshly injected with 40 cc’s of McD. Oh, and Eric Carmen continued to pillage the musical corpse of Sergei Rachmaninoff with “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.”
What actually landed in the top ten is another story. You have odd covers, old favorites, lost classics and a couple of songs tailor made for your suicide soundtrack. You could rock, groove, dance, get mellow, get really mellow, depressed and angry all in the span of less than an hour. Of course, you’ll also experience that same bi-polarity by reading this CHART ATTACK!, so let’s get moody with June 12, 1976!
10. Fool to Cry — The Rolling Stones Amazon iTunes
9. More, More, More (Pt. 1) — Andrea True Connection Amazon iTunes
8. Shop Around — Captain & Tennille Amazon iTunes
7. Sara Smile — Daryl Hall & John Oates Amazon iTunes
6. Shannon — Henry Gross Amazon iTunes
5. Happy Days — Pratt & McClain Amazon iTunes
4. Love Hangover — Diana Ross Amazon iTunes
3. Misty Blue — Dorothy Moore Amazon iTunes
2. Get Up and Boogie (That’s Right) — Silver Convention Amazon iTunes
1. Silly Love Songs — Wings Amazon iTunes
10. Fool to Cry — The Rolling Stones
The Stones were ginormous in the 1970s. It cannot be stressed enough that, in the absence of that pesky Liverpuddlian band, The Glimmer Twins really wrestled the spotlight all to themselves. So it comes as a great shock to me that I had to look up “Fool To Cry” to remind me what song it actually was! “Start Me Up”? No problem. “Miss You?” Got that. “Emotional Rescue?” Got that too. “Fool To Cry?” WTF?
It’s a decent enough song and I recalled it immediately once it started but, in all honesty, it’s not the strongest Stones tune out there, what with Mick Jagger doing that falsetto thing moaning, “Daddy, you’re a fool to cry.” I suspect that it wound up in the top ten simply through the force of presence that was the Stones juggernaut of the time; that or the constant rumors that this would be the last Stones album due to Mick and Keith Richards’ fighting. Get ’em now because there will be no more Stones ever again! Imagine the rest of the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s without them!
Hmm â€¦ maybe â€¦!
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9. More, More, More (Pt. 1) — Andrea True Connection
It’s not nice to hate. Hatred is such an ugly, horrible, pointless kind of aaaaarrrgggghhh, I HATE THIS SONG. I HATE IT! If metal music is supposed to pump you up before a football game or a war, this song — this stupid, breathy disco mess — will likely turn you into a bloodthirsty, nihilistic killing machine. I once thought it was the worst Blondie song ever (this isn’t Blondie? – JH), but my apologies must be offered to Debbie Harry. Even though Andrea True sounds a little like Harry, to my knowledge, Harry wasn’t a prominent porn star prior to her singing career and didn’t lapse back into porn afterward. The song list of the album More, More, More gives as much away with tunes entitled (and I crap you not), “Fill Me Up” and “Keep it Up Longer.” Future tunes like “Open Up Baby,” “Makin’ Music For Money” and “Still Goin’ Down” don’t help.
Andrea True Connection is clinching proof that cocaine was rampant in the disco scene of the mid-seventies. You’d have to be high off your ass to actually enjoy this.
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8. Shop Around — Captain & Tennille
Admitting to not minding this cover of the Smokey Robinson & the Miracles staple is like admitting that broccoli, when doused with a little cheese, isn’t that bad. Darryl Dragon, aka The Captain, throws a little Moog edge onto his keyboard to keep it from sounding like a lame Las Vegas revue, and so long as Toni Tennille isn’t singing about rats having sex, you can just barely get by. I’m not saying this will make you forget that Smokey was/is one of the best singers of all time, but while it’s on, you’re not likely to pray for death.
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7. Sara Smile — Daryl Hall & John Oates (download)
Before reinventing themselves as a pop/lite-new-wave hit machine, Hall & Oates did credible, very likeable Philly “blue-eyed” soul. And even though hardcore cynicism wants to carve into the sentimentality of “She’s Gone” or “Sara Smile” like a chainsaw, how could you? It’s just too good to hate, isn’t it?
In a Pitchfork interview from last year, Daryl Hall basically jammed it to John Oates by inferring he did all the heavy lifting while Oates merely provided the moustache. That may be true because it is a quite impressive moustache (admit it!). Nevertheless, Hall’s more recent retreat into soul territory sounds nowhere near as effortless as this, leading one to wonder if in fact Oates did add just a little more than facial hair to the mix.
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6. Shannon — Henry Gross
Like many people, I don’t remember this song so much as I remember the chorus. With Gross’ falsetto (what is with all the high-singers this week?!) floating over a bed of Beach Boys-esque harmony, it’s hard not to remember it. It’s actually quite beautiful and you really have no idea what the song is about, other than it is about some girl named Shannon. But it’s not about a girl named Shannon. It’s about a dog named Shannon. And it’s not about Henry Gross’ dog Shannon because Gross never had a dog named Shannon. Are you still with me?
The Beach Boys sound ties into the fact that Shannon was Carl Wilson’s Irish Setter and, for some weird reason, Gross was compelled to eulogize as Wilson’s proxy. Fine. Okay. Highly sensitive, but we’ll let it go. What we can’t let go is that the verses are so testicle-shrivelingly wimpy that you’d wish the ghost of Shannon would have returned from Doggie Heaven to bite Gross in the ass. Jason described the wussjestic wusstacularity of the song in a previous Mellow Gold outing, which is highly suggested reading.
Oh, and in case you wanted to cement the song’s meaning in your brain, here is someone’s homemade video full of frolicking canines. Just forget that this tune is about a dead dog and you’ll be fine.
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â€¦And if you need something to cleanse the bathos, try pork.
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5. Happy Days — Pratt & McClain
It’s hard to believe a sitcom theme song could be a Top 10 hit in these times where songs are hits first and co-opted as themes later. It’s even harder to believe that people would take the Happy Days theme song to their hearts so thoroughly that they’d buy the song and play it as entertainment.
It is what it is: an extended version of the show’s theme, a faux ’50s bop that mysteriously drops in the ’60s-appropriate term “groovin’.” I’d go ask some age-appropriate folks if the term is accurate for the period, but it’s raining outside and my socks are so warm and fuzzy, so I’ll just suspend my disbelief. Still, I cannot picture 1970s America driving around in their busted, rusted Novas (or worse, lime green Gremlins!), hearing the Happy Days theme on the AM radio and cranking it up while making “Oh, yeah! Rockin’!” gestures.
I blame Red Dye #5 ingestion for the national lack of discernment. After all, it wouldn’t be long before John Sebastian’s theme from Welcome Back, Kotter would be duking it out for the top ten.
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4. Love Hangover — Diana Ross
Don’t forget that the mid-1970s was also the hotbed of the funk movement, from Parliament/Funkadelic, The Ohio Players, vintage Kool & the Gang and even Stevie Wonder laying down a dirty, stanky groove. In that context, Diana Ross singing “Love Hangover” isn’t all that strange. It actually starts like your standard Ross tune with a Motown soundtrack ballad sort of feel, strings gently tucked into the fold, and then, as if illustrating the harsh effects of a hangover, bonk, here comes the tempo shift, the bassline and some PG-rated moaning
By this time in my life, I was not capable of handling drastic musical shifts. I was a young, malleable tot who had an innate sense of how a song was to go: a continuous tempo, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. That’s how it always worked and that’s how it was gonna stay. Then Queen released “Bohemian Rhapsody” and immediately freaked the choads out of me. My sister took great delight in waiting for me to be contented and then, suddenly, shouting “Mama Mia, Mama Mia!!” at me. I was not prepared to be afraid of music.
Needless to say, when “Love Hangover” went from Motown anthem to disco opium den, I wasn’t having it. Looking back, I was such a damn wimp.
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â€¦ and in my own Lego animated defense:
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3. Misty Blue – Dorothy Moore (download)
Another song I needed to refresh myself on was “Misty Blue.” Didn’t recall the name of either the artist or the tune, but when it started, oh my God. What an amazing little piece of soul this is! Miss Diana was boldly going where everyone seemingly had gone, but here, Dorothy Moore was looking backward and getting the most out of it.
“Misty Blue” starts out pretty and not very noteworthy, but when that chorus kicks in and Moore hits that “Oh oh, I can’t forget youâ€¦,” you’re finished. It’s not 2008 or 1976 anymore. It’s right back to 1963, as far away from mirror balls as you could ever hope to get when fantastic R&B was just a radio knob away. I can’t say enough about this excellent tune, except â€¦ except â€¦
2. Get Up and Boogie (That’s Right) — Silver Convention (download)
â€¦ Except that it ain’t this! First, watch this hilariously inept lipsync and then we’ll discuss. Pay close attention to the 33-second mark.
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God bless you, 33-second mark. That look at the camera speaks volumes and every volume is entitled, “What fresh hell is this?” Silver Convention, in an attempt to expand upon the lyrical genius that was “Fly Robin, Fly,” now present us with four words instead of three! Six if you include the “band” chanting “that’s right!” They’ve increased their word power! Thank you, Reader’s Digest!
But seriously, this is the reason why the Disco Betrayal of 1979 took place. All three of the singers (or synchers) on stage in the video have a look of terror on their faces as if to say, “If I don’t finish this sham of a performance, Silver Convention will kill me, but if I finish, the audience will kill me.” Not all disco was this blatantly awful, and a good portion of it has been redeemed in subsequent years as being noteworthy, danceable pop. Not this. This is an ipecac smoothie.
(Ed. note: I have to weigh in here. I frickin’ love this song and have no clue why. Try to sing along; I guarantee you that you will chant “that’s right!” in the wrong spot at least once. – JH)
1. Silly Love Songs — Wings
Then, in an immediate reversal of credibility, after bashing the Silver Connection in its empty, PCP laced head, I defend “Silly Love Songs.” What’s wrong with that? I’d like to know!
It’s not “Yesterday.” It’s not even “The Long And Winding Road.” But it’s also not “Let ‘Em In” or that yuletide tumor “Wonderful Christmastime.” (Watch it, buddy – JH) It’s just a silly love song with inexplicable factory noise as an intro and nothing to get hung about (tee hee) . As such, it pretty much sums up what was good about Macca’s lost decade. While never reaching the punchy, rock-centric heights that the Band On The Run album set, “Silly Love Songs” marries an airtight melody to perfect vocals and a feel-good fluff of a lyric. Former bandmate and beloved gadfly John Lennon famously criticized the sentiment and song yet, surprisingly, echoed those uncomplicated notions all through the “Double Fantasy” album — so I suppose, in the end, the love song you make is equal to â€“
Fine. I’m done.
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I just wanted to thank Jason for allowing me to go all Cliff Clavin in yet another forum. I simply love talking because it’s all about me, me, me, but it was nonetheless an all-out blast to Attack on his behalf. Hail Fredonia!’
Thanks, Dunphy, for another great post! Be sure to check out more of his writing here at Popdose — and hey, have you picked up Modernism, his new album yet? Check him out on this new thing called MySpace … and see you in a couple of weeks, when I’ll be writing our next edition of CHART ATTACK!