The Friday 5×2: WDNG, Anniston, AL, 2/7/1976

I’ve mentioned before that the reason I do this is to play songs that were big hits on some radio station’s weekly survey that have somehow fallen through the cracks and are no longer heard. I found this survey yesterday for a station in Alabama, WDNG AM 1450 in Anniston, and there were songs on it that I never heard. I figure if I haven’t, you probably haven’t either, so here we go.

  1. Janis Ian, “In The Winter” The followup to the previous year’s #3 hit didn’t do anywhere near as well, not even charting on the Hot 100 and only getting to #97 on the Cash Box survey. Folks in Anniston clearly disagreed.
  2. Helen Reddy, “Somewhere In The Night” This was Helen’s followup to “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” and it made #19 nationwide, though I can’t recall it being played in Chicago.
  3. The Four Seasons, “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night!) A song sung by drummer Gary Polci for a change, with Frankie Valli singing backup. This was a big hit for them, reaching #1 in the US, Canada and the UK.
  4. Art Garfunkel, “Break Away” The followup to his cover of “I Only Have Eyes For You” reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart but barely cracked the Top 40 (#39). He got the hint and, after a three-year hiatus, went back to doing ’50’s covers.
  5. Paul Simon, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” Here cones Rhymin’ Simon, besting his erstwhile singing buddy again. This went to #1 in the US and Canada.
  6. The Bee Gees, “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” This went to #2 in Canada and #12 in the US, and to be honest I don’t remember hearing it before today. I think I would have remembered a song named “Fanny.”
  7. Hagood Hardy, “The Homecoming” A beautiful song that many YouTube commenters said they would like to have played at their funeral. Hardy reached #14 in his adopted home Canada and #6 on the Easy Listening chart in the US, but just missed placing in the Top 40 on the Hot 100 (#41). Clearly the people of Anniston saw differently.
  8. Nazareth, “Love Hurts” A cover of the 1960 song written by Boudleaux Bryant and sung by The Everly Brothers. Reached #1 in Canada and #8 in the US.
  9. Cledus Maggard & The Citizens Band, “The White Knight” Get your ears on, buddy! As you might have guessed from the name of the band, this is a CB song. It reached #1 on the Country chart and #19 in the US overall.
  10. Barry White, “Let The Music Play” This went to #4 on the R&B chart and #32 on the Hot 100 for the big guy.

WDNG-AM has adopted a news-talk format, while WDNG-FM (“My 95”) plays an adult contemporary format, as does its sister station WFHK.

And that’s The Friday 5×2 for February 8, 2019.

The Friday 5×2: The Last WCFL Survey, February 1976

In what might have been the worst-kept secret in Chicago, WCFL Radio switched from rock and pop music to a “beautiful music” format on March 15, 1976. It had been the #2 AM rock station in Chicago and was losing audience both to WLS and to the panoply of FM rock stations that had been springing up all through the Seventies, and the Chicago Federation of Labor, which owned the station, decided that they didn’t want to operate a rock station, anyway. They issued the last survey of their rock days on February 21, roughly three weeks before the big change. Here’s the Top 10 from that survey.

  1. Rhythm Heritage, “Theme from SWAT” Composed for the 1975 TV series by Barry DeVorzon, it was recorded by Rhythm Heritage and appeared on their debut album Disco-fied. It reached #1 nationwide on February 28; it had jumped all the way to #10 from #18 on the Super CFL survey, where it remains. A modified version of the song is used for the reboot, starring Shemar Moore; as with all of the other reboots curently on CBS, the theme songs and character names are all that’s the same.
  2. The Who, “Squeeze Box” From The Who By Numbers, this is a song about a woman who plays the accordion. Any other interpretation is just wrong. (Yeah, right…) Up from #14 the week before.
  3. Fleetwood Mac, “Over My Head” The first time I heard this was Fleetwood Mac, I had a hard time accepting it. To me, Fleetwood Mac was Peter Green’s guitar and British blues at its finest. This just made no sense. Anyway, this announced the metamorphosis of FM into a more pop-oriented ensemble, and the new sound was well-received. Up from #9 the week before.
  4. Bee Gees, “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” The song didn’t ring a bell with me, and after playing it I can honestly say I don’t remember it. It had jumped from #10 the previous week, so how I missed it is a mystery.
  5. Eric Carmen, “All By Myself” From Carmen’s self-titled debut album, it’s based on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 in C minor, and the chorus was lifted from Carmen’s “Let’s Pretend,” which he composed and recorded with The Cranberries in 1972. I didn’t find a shorter version, but given CFL’s tendency to record a 45 RPM record at 48 RPM, and assuming my math is correct, the song ran for half a minute less there. Up from #11 the week before.
  6. Kiss, “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night” Kiss’s popularity was at a peak in the mid-70’s despite the fact that it was generally agreed that “they suck.” This was headed down CFL’s chart from #2 the week before.
  7. Electric Light Orchestra, “Evil Woman” This was ELO’s first big hit, from their album Face The Music. It was written by band leader and future Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne and hadn’t moved from #4 the week before.
  8. The Four Seasons, “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)” From their Who Loves You album, this was written by keyboard player Bob Gaudio and sung by Gary Polci. Up from #6 the week before.
  9. Neil Sedaka, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” This is the slower and bluesier version of the song that I got the impression few people enjoyed as much as the 1962 version, which starts this out. Up from #3 the previous week.
  10. Paul Simon, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” Remaining in the top position from the week before is this from Paul’s Still Crazy After All These Years.

WCFL’s spot on the AM dial (1000 kHz) is now held by sports-talk station WSCR (“The Score”). The call letters are owned by a religious broadcaster in Morris, Illinois which acts as a repeater station for one in Champaign. The spirit of the old station lives on thanks to WCFLChicago.com, operated by JR Russ.

And that’s your Friday 5×2 for February 9, 2018.

The Friday 5×2: One-Hit Wonders From 1976

So far, I’ve done my level best not to include any disco in these lists. This time, though, I was caught between having to do two TV themes (I’m doing one) and “Junk Food Junkie,” throwing in a song or two I don’t recall (and still don’t after hearing them), or doing a couple of disco tunes, and chose the third option. Still, there are some real favorites of mine here.

  1. Elvin Bishop Group, “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” Bishop was an original member of The Butterfield Blues Band and played with them through 1967’s The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw. He returned to his native Texas and started doing country as well as blues. This was the only hit for them, which peaked at #3.
  2. Starbuck, “Moonlight Feels Right” You already know how much I love this song, so I’ll just mention that it reached #3 in 1976.
  3. Thin Lizzy, “The Boys Are Back In Town” This Irish hard-rock band had already reached #1 in their native Ireland and #6 in the UK with their first single, a rock version of the pub song “Whiskey In The Jar,” but this was the only song to crack the Top 20 in the US, peaking at #12.
  4. Henry Gross, “Shannon” Originally a member of Sha Na Na, Henry left in 1970 to concentrate on singing and sonwgwriting. He wrote this song to commemorate the passing of Brian Wilson’s Irish Setter, Shannon. It reached #6 on the Hot 100, #5 on the Cash Box survey, and #1 in Canada and New Zealand, but only got to #32 in the UK.
  5. Starland Vocal Band, “Afternoon Delight” This quartet from Washington, DC reached #1 with this song and parlayed it into a six-week variety show on CBS during the summer of 1977. Two of the members, Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, wrote “I Guess He’d Rather Be In Colorado” and later co-wrote “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with John Denver.
  6. Keith Carradine, “I’m Easy” From the 1975 Robert Altman film Nashville, it won the 1976 Oscar for Best Original Song, the only one the movie won (it was nominated for five Academy Awards). It reached #17 on the Hot 100 and earned Carradine a Golden Globe.
  7. Bellamy Brothers, “Let Your Love Flow” A country duo from Darby, Florida, this was their only crossover hit, which reached #1 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart, as well as #21 on the Country chart. In 1979, they reached #1 on the Country chart with “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me” and had a few other Country #1’s in the Eighties.
  8. The Wing And A Prayer Fife And Drum Corps, “Baby Face” As I recall, this song had reached the Top 20 in every decade beginning in the Twenties when this disco version came out. This song was the reason our first cat, Kismet, was called Kittyface, because I used to carry her around the house singing “Kittyface, you’ve got the cutest little Kittyface” to her. She wasn’t thrilled.
  9. Cyndi Grecco, “Making Our Dreams Come True” Both the theme songs from Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley reached the Top 20 in 1976. This is the theme from the latter, just because I like it better. It only reached #25. One comment about the song was that it was better than the show. That’s a little harsh…
  10. Andrea True Connection, “More, More, More (Part 1)” Former porn actress Andrea True used the money she earned in Jamaica doing commercials for a real estate company, which she couldn’t bring into the US because the US imposed sanctions due to the election of a pro-Castro president, to record the demo of this song. By that time she had tired of making adult films, saying she’d rather work as a waitress or a typist than make another one. The song reached #4 on the Hot 100, and a followup single, “N. Y., You Got Me Dancing” reached #27 the following year.

And that’s your Friday 5×2 for December 15, 2017.

The Top Five Of 1976

2016 is behind us, so let’s go back forty years and see what the Top Five songs were in 1976, according to Billboard. I would go back fifty, to 1966, but we’ve done enough of that year.

NUMBER 5: “Play That Funky Music,” Wild Cherry Their only Top 40 hit.

NUMBER 4: “December 1963 (Oh What A Night),” The Four Seasons Features Gary Polci on vocals, with Frankie Valli singing backup, whicvh is why it doesn’t have that Four Seasons sound. Great song, though.

NUMBER 3: “Disco Lady,” Johnnie Taylor The biggest hit of Johnnie Taylor’s career was this one, followed by “Who’s Makin’ Love (To Your Old Lady).”

NUMBER 2: “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” Elton John and Kiki Dee This song had me asking, “Whatever happened to Kiki Dee?” Wikipedia tells us her last single was in 1993 and that she’s been appearing in musical theater in the West End.

NUMBER 1: “Silly Love Songs,” Wings Many, if not most, of the songs The Beatles played that were composed by Lennon and McCartney featured music by Paul and lyrics by John. When Paul wrote both, the result was nowhere near as satisfying. Still, Paul’s days with Wings were very successful, and this song was one example.

And that’s the Friday Five for January 13, 2017.

The Friday Five: WLS’s Top Five from Independence Day Weekend, 1976

Happy Canada Day, all my Canadian friends! I thought I might do a post featuring Canadian artists, then I remembered that I already had done one for Canadian Thanksgiving, just last October. Then I thought, well, Independence Day weekend, then I remembered that “America” was the theme for this coming Monday’s Music Moves Me, and I didn’t want to spoil that.

Still, I wanted to do something to commemorate the holiday, so back to Oldiesloon I went to look for something specific: the surveys from Independence Day weekend, 1976, because as anyone over the age of, say, 45 remembers that was this nation’s Bicentennial celebration. It was also the weekend my cousin Mary Ann and her husband Mike were married, so happy fortieth anniversary to them! I had thought I might feature the one from WCFL for that weekend, but by that time Super CFL was no more, having switched to “beautiful music” in March of that year.

So here are the top five tunes from Independence Day 1976 according to WLS, who had this to say:

The WLS Musicradio Surveys represent the station’s estimate of current and potential music popularity as reflected in such measures as record sales, juke box play, audience Interviews, listener requests, and national charts.

One thing you might note is that the Top Five didn’t change from the week before, but the songs moved.

#5: “Rock & Roll Love Letter,” The Bay City Rollers I’ll be honest, I didn’t remember this one. Maybe I put it out of my mind. This dropped from #4 a week earlier.

#4: “Boys Are Back In Town,” Thin Lizzy Now this one I remember. It’s one of those songs I liked the first time I heard it, and every time since. This is the slightly-longer album version. This rose from #5 the week before.

#3: “Silly Love Songs,” Wings Paul McCartney’s “Wings” period was not my favorite. His first solo album after The Beatles (1970’s McCartney) was great, and it looked like he was headed in a different direction, but he changed course again and went back to writing “silly love songs.” There’s no doubt Wings was a popular band in the Seventies, though. This was down from #2 the week before.

#2: “Get Up And Boogie,” Silver Convention Up from #3 this week is the only disco tune in the Top Five, which surprises me a little. Disco hit the peak of its popularity in the mid-Seventies. But anyway, Silver Convention was a German Euro Disco band. This was their follow-up hit after “Fly, Robin, Fly.”

#1: “Shop Around,” Captain & Tennille For the second straight week, this cover of a Smokey Robinson tune held the #1 spot.

Interesting note: the following week, “Shop Around” was knocked out of the #1 spot by The Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life,” which had been recorded ten years earlier for 1966’s Revolver and had been included on the 1976 album Rock ‘n’ Roll Music. It had been at #9 for the week ending July 3.

And that’s your Friday Five for July 1, 2016.