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.

Monday’s Music Moves Me: Top Five from WCFL Chicago, 10/3/1968

Another freebie week… hmmm… well, back to Oldiesloon for another dive into the past, to give you the top five songs on WCFL’s chart on this day in 1968.

#5: Little Green Apples – O. C. Smith O. C.’s biggest hit, it reached #2 on the Hot 100 and netted him a Grammy for Song of the Year. Something I just learned: he was Count Basie’s vocalist from 1961 to 1965.

#4: Midnight Confessions – The Grass Roots These guys were on the charts almost continuously from 1966 to 1975. This one reached #5 nationally, on both the Billboard and Cash Box surveys.

#3: Shapes of Things to Come – Max Frost and The Troopers This Barry Mann/Cynthia Weill song was written for the movie Wild In The Streets, where it was sung by Christopher Jones, who played the fictitious Max Frost. The song proved to be a hit, meaning Jones and a bunch of session musicians hit the studio and recorded an album.

#2: Hey Jude/Revolution – The Beatles This was a two-sided hit for The Fabs, though “Hey Jude” was considered the A side, because people love it so, for whatever reason. It’s a three-minute song stuffed into seven minutes. Roughly half of it is “na na na nanana na, nanana na, hey Jude.” So I’m giving you the other side.

#1: Fire – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown The proper way to play this is to turn it up until the walls shake and put it on infinite repeat. This is one of those sngs you either love or hate. Enough people loved it to make it #2 on the Hot 100, and as you can see, it was especially popular in Chicago, at least on this date in 1968.

And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for October 3, 2016.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Stacy, Cathy, and Naila Moon, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


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The Friday Five: Top 5 from WCFL, September 6, 1975

Today is my brother Patrick’s birthday! Happy birthday, Pat!

Both WLS and WCFL were issuing their surveys on Saturday in 1975, so this Top Five from WCFL was from the Saturday before he was born, because it was closer, and because, if you turn the number 6 over, it’s 9. Again, thanks to the folks at Oldiesloon for archiving the surveys and making them available for the world to see.

#5: At Seventeen – Janis Ian Janis was on her way to becoming a one-hit wonder when it seemed she’d never have another hit after “Society’s Child,” which had caused quite a ruckus when it came out due to its subject matter, i.e. interracial romance. So this song, about teenage cruelty, came as a surprise to a lot of us. It reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Cash Box and Adult Contemporary charts. It reached #2 by the end of September, as high as it went in Chicago.

#4: Someone Saved My Life Tonight – Elton John This song had been #1 the week before and was falling fast. Nationally, it went as high as #4. This was the only single off his 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

#3: Tush – ZZ Top Some raunchy blues-rock for the survey, this went as high as #2 locally, #20 nationally.

#2: Fallin’ In Love – Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds By the time this was recorded, Tommy Reynolds had left the group and was replaced by Alan Dennison, but they kept the name because their new label, Playboy Records, asked them to. This reached #1 both nationally and locally.

#1: Rhinestone Cowboy – Glen Campbell Title track from his 1975 album, this hit #1 in both the US and Canada. Glen’s still hanging in there, I guess.

WCFL abruptly switched formats from Top 40 to “beautiful music” in March 1976. I understand that they day they made the change, they unceremoniously dumped their Top 40 record library on the sidewalk in front of Marina City, where their offices and studios were located. At least they didn’t throw the records into the Chicago River…

Anyway, that’s The Friday Five for September 9, 2016. Happy birthday, Pat!