The Friday 5×2: WAEB, 790 AM Allentown, PA, Top 10 For 1971

It’s always fun to look at the Top 100 hits for an entire year. In the heyday of Top 40 in the ’60’s and ’70’s, practically every station in the country would produce a composite list of the top hits they had played that year. Usually it was 100, although sometimes the station would try to work something unique into the year-end list (for example, WLS in Chicago called itself the “Big 89” because they were at 890 AM, so they’d come up with the top 89 hits).

I found a year-end list from WAEB in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania (their survey says that the AEB stands for “Allentown, Easton, and Bethlehem,” the three largest towns in that part of the country) from 1971. Comparing that list to the year-end Hot 100, there were some similarities, but, as was usually the case, many more differences. Here is WAEB’s year-end Top 10 for 1971.

  1. Murray Head, “Superstar” from Jesus Christ, Superstar, which had been released in September 1970. Nationally, the song ended the year at #26. Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Knock Three Times” was the yearend #10 nationally.
  2. Joan Baez, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” Joan’s cover of The Band’s song was #9 in the Lehigh Valley, but only #20 nationwide, where The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination” was #9.
  3. Isaac Hayes, “Theme From Shaft This bad mother ended the year in Allentown much higher than nationally (#89). Billboard had John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” at #8.
  4. Cher, “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves” Cher did much better in the valley than she did everywhere else: this came in at #39 nationally. 14-year-old Donny Osmond’s cover of Steve Lawrence’s “Go Away, Little Girl” was Billboard‘s #7.
  5. Five Man Electrical Band, “Signs” I never understood the appeal of this song. Everyone seemed to like it better than I did. Certainly WAEB’s listeners liked it better than the rest of the country, where it placed at #24. Who came in at #6 nationally?
  6. Paul Revere & The Raiders, “Indian Reservation” That’s who. The Bee Gees, in their pre-disco days (it was pre-disco for everyone, come to think of it), with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” were #5 nationally.
  7. The Osmonds, “One Bad Apple” I think was done by the original five while little bro Jimmy and the lovely Marie sat on the sidelines. From this point forward, WAEB and Billboard agree.
  8. Carole King, “It’s Too Late” From Carole’s Tapestry album, which achieved RIAA’s Diamond status for having sold 10 million copies in the US and 25 million copies worldwide. That’s a hell of a lot of vinyl.
  9. Rod Stewart, “Maggie May” Rod the Mod had moved on from his days with The Jeff Beck Group and was fronting the band Faces (formerly The Small Faces), where he hit the big time with his album Every Picture Tells A Story, which ultimately went Platinum.
  10. Three Dog Night, “Joy To The World” It would figure that my least-favorite Three Dog Night song would prove to be their all-time best-seller. Hoyt Axton (my birthday twin) wrote the song to demonstrate the melody (Jeremiah was originally a prophet), and when the song was offered to Three Dog Night, Danny Hutton and Cory Wells said “no way.” Chuck Negron was able to convince the others to do it anyway. And the rest, as they say, is history.

And that’s The Friday 5×2 for October 25, 2019.

19 thoughts on “The Friday 5×2: WAEB, 790 AM Allentown, PA, Top 10 For 1971

  1. I have a powerful good memory from around 1970 or 71 of walking around the neighborhood with girlfriends at 10 pm (It must’ve been a sleepover) singing 3DN’s Joy to the World at the top of our lungs. We were having so much fun. Then someone yelled from their house telling us to shut up. I can see how that could make someone not like the song much, especially if he was trying to sleep. Sorry.

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  2. Wowza! I love this selection of songs, John. “Liar” is my fav 3DN song and “Signs” was an impactful song during my era. Rules and regulations were questioned at that time and the anti-establishment didn’t like being told right from wrong. Signs stating restrictions were thought to be an intrusion of individuality.

    Here’s the link which provides more info about the “Signs” –
    https://www.songfacts.com/facts/five-man-electrical-band/signs

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    1. Maybe it was that “Signs” was one of those meaningful and relevant songs that made me dislike it… šŸ¤£ Or maybe it was that I was a 15-year-old boy and everything fit into one of two categories, “great” and “sucks”…

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        1. By ’77 Chicago had at least a dozen rock stations on FM, but WABC’s sister station WLS was still going strong. Fidelity was better on FM and the music was better, but WLS was still king.

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  3. I line up pretty close to Allentown, even though it was on the other side of a big state from me in 1971. That said, I totally agree with you on the Three Dog Night song. I loved the group, but that song…just no.

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    1. Hoyt Axton wrote it almost as a joke, and I gather that Chuck Negron was the only one who wanted to do it. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the songs they did. But, it sold, and beat songs like “One,” “Eli’s Coming,” “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” and “Out In The Country,” which might be my favorite 3DN song. Go figure.

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