Moving on through the Seventies, we reach 1977. I’ll be honest, I don’t recognize some of the songs here. By ’77, I was too busy to listen to a whole lot of music: I was gearing up to finish school in December, I was hip-deep in making wedding arrangements, and didn’t bring my stereo with me to the dorm, because it was too much of a hassle. But I did manage to catch a lot of radio, I just wasn’t listening very hard.
- Ram Jam, “Black Betty” “Black Betty” was originally recorded by the band Starstruck, of which Bill Bartlett (formerly of The Lemon Pipers, of “Green Tambourine” fame) was a member. The record was a regional hit and caught the attention of producers, who created Ram Jam to record it and eleven other songs. Their record reached #18 on the Hot 100 and #14 on the Cash Box 100. Ram Jam then faded into obscurity.
- Sanford-Townsend Band, “Smoke From A Distant Fire” This is one I have to admit I don’t remember, even though it went to #9. Ed Sanford and Johnny Townsend were session keyboardists from Alabama who recorded an album in 1976, from which this was taken. Future records by the duo were nowhere near as successful, though they have had success as songwriters: they wrote the Loggins & Messina song “Peacemaker” with Kenny Loggins, and Sanford co-wrote “I Keep Forgettin'” with Michael McDonald.
- David Dundas, “Jeans On” Another song I don’t remember. Dundas charted at #17 in the US with this, as well as reaching #4 in his native UK and #1 in Germany.
- Mary MacGregor, “Torn Between Two Lovers” Mary first gained attention as a backup singer for Peter Yarrow (the Peter of Peter, Paul and Mary). This was the title track from her 19765 album, and it reached #1 on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. She later said she hated the song, which is about a married woman having an affair. She had limited success on the AC chart after that.
- Thelma Houston, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” Thelma reached #1 with this song on the Hot 100, R&B and Dance charts with this one, and earned the Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance. She has had a couple more hits on the R&B and Dance charts, but this was her only top 20 hit.
- David Soul, “Don’t Give Up On Us” The “Hutch” portion of the hit TV series Starsky & Hutch found the time to record a self-titled album in 1976, from which this was taken. It reached #1 in both the US and UK in 1977. He’s had a couple more hits in the UK and is now a British citizen.
- William Bell, “Tryin’ To Love Two” Bell had already been a veteran of the R&B charts since 1961, but this was his one crossover hit, reaching #10. Another I wasn’t familiar with.
- Alan O’Day, “Undercover Angel” Alan is better known as a songwriter, having written Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby” and The Righteous Brothers’ “Rock & Roll Heaven,” but he scored a #1 hit with this. He moved on to scoring TV series in the Eighties.
- The Floaters, “Float On” There are some songs you just remember, and this is one of them for me, mostly because of the singers announcing their Zodiac sign at the beginning of the long version of this as well as at the beginning of each verse. This is the shorter single version, which reached #2 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart.
- Meri Wilson, “Telephone Man” Singer and model Meri Wilson was known for her novelty songs that featured double-entendre lyrics. Dr. Demento played this song on his weekly show and it became a surprise hit, reaching #18 and earning Gold status. It was a back-to-back hit with ELO’s “Telephone Line” for two non-consecutive weeks over the summer.
And that’s your Friday 5×2 for December 22, 2017.