The Friday 5×2: #11-20 From “The Big 89” of 1968

I was going to run down Wacker Drive to Marina City and talk about the Top 10 for 1968 according to WCFL, Chicago’s other AM Top 40 station at the time, but when I got there, I discovered that there wasn’t a whole lot of difference, as you can see from the table

Song WLS WCFL
The Rolling Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” 10 9
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, “Fire” 9 8
Marvin Gaye, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” 8 7
Mary Hopkin, “Those Were The Days” 7 6
Ohio Express, “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” 6 11
Herb Alpert, “This Guy’s In Love With You” 5 2
Jeannie C. Riley, “Harper Valley PTA” 4 5
Bobby Goldsboro, “Honey” 3 3
Paul Mauriat, “Love Is Blue (L’amour Est Bleu)” 2 1
The Beatles, “Hey Jude”/”Revolution” 1 4

Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to share #11-20 on the WLS list, along with their position on the WCFL list in parentheses. Since the WCFL list is only the Top 30 for their year, if a record didn’t place in their top 30, it’ll be noted as “#–“.

  • #20 (#–): John Fred & The Playboy Band, “Judy In Disguise” The first time John Fred Gourrier heard The Beatles’s “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” he though it was “Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds.” That inspired this song, which was a #1 hit during the year. It was their only song to break into the Top 40.
  • #19 (#23): The Lemon Pipers, “Green Tambourine” Another one-hit wonder, this song is considered the first “bubblegum” song. The Lemon Pipers took it to #1 in the US and Canada and had similar luck in Australia (#2), New Zealand (#3) and the UK (#7).
  • #18 (#20): The Rascals, “People Got To Be Free” The Rascals, known as The Young Rascals until 1968, scored a #1 with this, their second Top 10 record in ’68. It was also their last appearance in the Top 20.
  • #17 (#15): Simon & Garfunkel, “Mrs. Robinson” Included in the soundtrack for The Graduate (1967) starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, and from their fourth album Bookends (1968), this was a #1 hit for them and was the first rock song to win the Grammy for Song of the Year (1969).
  • #16 (#29): The Beatles, “Lady Madonna” Their last song to be released on Parlophone (UK) and Capitol (US), it was recorded before the band left for India. It went to #4 in the US and #1 in the UK.
  • #15 (#–): The American Breed, “Bend Me, Shape Me” The Chicago-based band that ultimately became Rufus reached #5 in the US and #7 in Canada, the only time they reached the Top 20, making them not quite one-hit wonders.
  • #14 (#12): Tommy James & The Shondells, “Mony Mony” The song was inspired by the Mutual of New York (MONY) sign outside Tommy James’s apartment in New York. It reached #1 in the UK, #3 in the US, and #1 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey.
  • #13 (#14): Diana Ross & The Supremes, “Love Child” Title track from their 1968 album, after Diana Ross received top billing and replaced Florence Ballard with Cindy Birdsong. It took just two weeks to reach the Billboard Top 10 and was the song that supplanted “Hey Jude” from the #1 spot.
  • #12 (#13): The Monkees, “Valleri” Yes, that’s the way it’s spelled. A song by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, they wrote it as they were on their way to see Don Kirschner, who they had told that it was done. Session musicians included Louie Shelton, who played the flamenco-esque solo at the beginning.
  • #11 (#24): Hugh Masakela, “Grazing In The Grass” Hugh is known as “The Father of South African Jazz.” This is also a one-hit wonder, as he took this to #1.

And that’s The Friday 5×2 for January 4, 2019.

The Friday 5×2: WCFL, 12/1/73

We did WLS last week, so let’s look at their rivals down Wacker Drive in Marina City. WCFL didn’t start in the rock ‘n’ roll business until late 1965 and got out of it in March 1976, when they went to “beautiful music”. Currently they’re sports-talk station WMVP. The competition between the two stations was pretty fierce during my later grammar school and high school days, but the Chicago Federation of Labor (the CFL in WCFL) had had enough of the Top 40 format and took the station as far from it as they could. Anyway, here’s the “Super CFL Survey” from December 1, 1973.

  1. The DeFranco Family, “Heartbeat, It’s A Love Beat” Because there was always room for one more “family” band. The focus was all on 14-year-old Tony, who was a cover boy for Tiger Beat and other tweenybopper magazines. This was their only national hit.
  2. Billy Preston, “Space Race” The followup to “Will It Go Round In Circles” had Billy reprising his 1971 hit “Outa-Space.” This reached #4 nationally.
  3. Gladys Knight & The Pips, “Midnight Train To Georgia” This had topped WCFL’s survey the week before, so this was a good-sized dropoff. Nevertheless, this was still gold for Gladys & The Pips.
  4. Elton John, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” Making almost as impressive a climb as Gladys and the boys had a drop was the title track from Sir Elton’s 1973 megahit album, which had been at #12 the week prior.
  5. Gilbert O’Sullivan, “Ooh Baby” This is a rockin’ little number that I don’t recall ever hearing. I probably did and promptly forgot it.
  6. Chicago, “Just You ‘n’ Me” From Chicago VI, this followup to “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” did much better nationally than its predecessor, even with the somewhat free-form soprano sax solo by Walter Parazaider toward the end. Maybe because of it.
  7. Carpenters, “Top Of The World” As I think I said back when I profiled Karen and Richard for my Two For Tuesday Series “High School Days,” just about anything they did in the early ’70’s was magic. This was their first national #1 since “Close To You.”
  8. Todd Rundgren, “Hello It’s Me” From his 1972 album Something/Anything?, this is a remake of a song Todd did back in his Nazz days that was almost a hit. This reached #5 nationwide.
  9. Jim Croce, “I Got A Name” Title track from his fifth and final studio album (released the day after his death), this went to #10 nationally.
  10. Ringo Starr, “Photograph” Ringo and his Beatle buddy George Harrison wrote this for his 1973 self-titled album. It rose to #1 on the Hot 100 but only to #8 in the UK.

And that’s The Friday 5×2 for November 30, 2018.

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: Top Ten from WCFL On This Day In 1973

I had a tooth pulled on Wednesday, and while I’m in no pain (apart from the pain of having to eat on the other side of my mouth), I hadn’t given much thought to what I would do today. So I’m falling back on my old faithful, checking with my friends at Oldiesloon and doing a top ten from a survey that came out on this day in the past. This week, I’m looking at WCFL, “Super CFL” as they were called at the time, on this day in 1973. Across the river and down Wacker Drive, WLS also issued a survey on August 18. I’ll tell you what was in their top ten, so you can see the differences.

  • #10: Charlie Daniels, “Uneasy Rider” There are those who consider this a novelty song, but this was the first chart single for Charlie Daniels. WLS had this one at #8; their #10 was Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water.”
  • #9: Electric Light Orchestra, “Roll Over Beethoven” You’ll actually hear the album track here, because ELO is great and this cover of Chuck Berry’s tune is one of their best. It was at #16 on WLS (moving up from #25 the week before); their #9 was Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On, which had shot up from #19 the week before.
  • #8: Carpenters, “Yesterday Once More” A song that exemplifies Karen and Richard’s sound in the early Seventies. This stood at #13 at WLS, down from #10 the week before.
  • #7: Gilbert O’Sullivan, “Get Down” Gil wrote a song to get his dog to sit still and not jump all over him. How successful it was in getting the dog to stop, I don’t know, but the song was one of his minor hits. It was #6 at The Big 89, and Chicago’s “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” was at #7.
  • #6: Wings, “Live And Let Die” Theme song from the film that was Roger Moore’s debut as 007. Roger was too old to play James Bond by this time, but it did all right at the box office and the reviews were okayish. The song was at #4 on the Silver Dollar Survey.
  • #5: Diana Ross, “Touch Me In The Morning” Title track from Diana’s 1973 album that was her second #1 nationwide as a solo artist and 14th overall. Was at #3 at WLS, while Seals & Crofts’s “Diamond Girl” occupied the #5 spot.
  • #4: Chicago, “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” Last song on their sixth album and featured on their first TV special, Chicago In The Rockies.
  • #3: Seals & Crofts, “Diamond Girl” Title track from their 1973 album, and it was a slight excursion into jazz for these folk-rockers.
  • #2: Maureen McGovern, “The Morning After” The love theme from 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, which had won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year. Carol Lynley lip-synced it in the movie (Renee Armand did the actual singing), and Maureen McGovern covered it the following year. It was also the #2 song at WLS this week in 1973.
  • #1: Stories, “Brother Louie” This was #1 at both WLS and WCFL this week. It was done originally by the British R&B band Hot Chocolate earlier that year.

So there you have it, the top ten from the Big 10 Survey for this date in 1973. That’s the Friday 5×2 for August 18, 2017.

Top Five From WCFL On This Date In 1973

Another departure for the Rainbow Bridge today (our Devon Rex, Milton) means I’m feeling a little down, so if it seems like I’m mailing it in, I probably am.

One of my friends in ’73 was the son of the station manager at WCFL, so today’s survey is from that year.

#5: Three Dog Night, “Pieces Of April” Only reached #19 nationally, and I can’t remember hearing this one. This was their song between “Black And White” and “Shambala.”

#4: Jethro Tull, “Living In The Past” Title track from their 1972 compilation album, this originally appeared on 1969’s Stand Up.

#3: Billy Paul, “Me And Mrs. Jones” Billy was another victim of 2016, if you want to look at it that way. He died in April from pancreatic cancer at the age of 81. Love the way he smokes the cigar and sings at the same time.

#2: Timmy Thomas, “Why Can’t We Live Together” Title track from his 1972 album. It was just him, singing, playing organ and programming the drum machine.

#1: Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain” I don’t think Carly has ever really revealed who this song was about. I always heard Mick Jagger, but then I hear Warren Beatty, David Cassidy, and a host of others. She’s said it was about three different men, but hasn’t said who they are, and personally, I don’t care.

And there’s our Friday Five for January 20, 2017.