The Friday 5×2: WPAG, Ann Arbor, Michigan, On This Date In 1970

Today we drop in on Ann Arbor, Michigan, where a couple of people who comment here (KSBeth and Ed Thierbach, and I’m sure there are more) live, as does the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), to visit WPAG (AM 1050), which is now sports talker WTKA. At the time, they appear to have been simulcasting on WPAG-FM (now WQKL, “ann arbor’s 107one,” playing “Quality Music From Then & Now”). The article at The Blogger’s Best Friend ™ talks about WPAG as a middle-of-the-road station as of 1970, but the survey we’ll look at today, from November 16, 1970 (the “Scene ’70 Sound Survey”), is definitely a Top 40 one.

I think you’ll notice a lot of overlap between this survey and others we’ve done from this time in 1970, but there are a few new ones (at least to me) that should make it interesting.

  1. Neil Diamond, “He Ain’t Heavy … He’s My Brother” Known mostly for singing his own songs, here Neil Diamond covers a song written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell that had been a hit for The Hollies the year before. It was his followup to “Cracklin’ Rosie,” and it only reached #20 nationally. I don’t even recall that it ever played in Chicago…
  2. Wilson Pickett, “Get Me Back On Time, Engine No. 9” Another I wasn’t familiar with, it was from the 1970 album Wilson Pickett in Philadelphia, on which he recorded songs by Gamble and Huff. It hit #3 on the R&B chart and #14 on the Hot 100. Didn’t make the chart at WLS or WCFL, but no doubt did well at WVON and WGRT.
  3. Joe Cocker, “Cry Me A River” Julie London, of course, had the big hit with this in 1956, but Joe added his own special touch and had a #11 hit with this nationwide. From the live album (and subsequent movie) Mad Dogs And Englishmen, recounting Joe’s wild tour with Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge and others.
  4. The Guess Who, “Share The Land” Title track from their 1970 album, it reached #2 nationally.
  5. Carpenters, “We’ve Only Just Begun” Written by Paul Williams as a jingle for Crocker Bank, it became a huge hit for Karen and Richard (#2 US, #1 US AC, #1 Canada) and is to this day heard at weddings.
  6. Sugarloaf, “Green Eyed Lady” A song I always enjoyed playing, this is the single version. It reached #3 in the US and #1 in Canada.
  7. The Kinks, “Lola” A controversial song, not so much for the subject matter as for the use of “Coca-Cola” in the first line of the song. (It was changed to “cherry cola” on many Top 40 stations.) It reached #9 in the US and #2 in Canada.
  8. The First Edition, “Heed The Call” From their 1970 album Tell It All Brother, this only reached #33 in the US but made it to #6 in Canada. It did really well in Ann Arbor; maybe kids heard it on a Canadian station (Ann Arbor’s not far from Windsor, Ontario) and started calling WPAG requesting it?
  9. The Jackson 5, “I’ll Be There” This was the Jacksons’ fourth #1 in a row. What else is there to say?
  10. Free, “All Right Now” Rolling Stone calls Free “Hard Rock Pioneers” and ranks lead singer Paul Rodgers #55 on their list of “Greatest Lead Singer of All Time” and guitarist Paul Kossoff #51 on its “Greatest Guitar Players of All Time.” Here in the US, this was their only hit, reaching #6 nationally, but doing well in individual markets.

And that’s the Friday 5×2 for November 16, 2018.

15 thoughts on “The Friday 5×2: WPAG, Ann Arbor, Michigan, On This Date In 1970

    1. It’s really interesting to see the difference in Top 10’s across the country. I don’t remember several of them, either (Neil Diamond, Otis Redding, The First Edition). When I saw that Neil had covered “He Ain’t Heavy…” I assumed that he had written it.

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    1. “Tap Root Manuscript” also had “Soolaimon” on it. That’s another favorite that got some airplay in Chicago, though not as much as “Cracklin’ Rosie” or any song after it.

      The Guess Who were a lot like Creedence in that just about everything they did was good. I had their Best of collection and “Road Food,” and played the grooves off both. Their stuff is easy to play on guitar, too.

      “All Right Now” was so popular in Chicago that eventually you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing it. That’s when you switch stations, only the other station might also be playing it…

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