Starting in 1967, WLS Radio produced a year-end survey, listing the top 89 records from the previous year (since WLS called itself “The Big 89”). Since 1968 is 50 years ago, I thought we might look at their list from that year. I considered building a playlist with all 89 songs on it, but reasoned that no one would bother listening to it, so I kept it at the Top 10, or as you’ll see later, the Top 11 (there was a tie for the #1 spot, but both songs were on one record). You can see the full list here, courtesy of Oldiesloon.
- The Rolling Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” It still surprises me that this song is as old as it is. It sounds like one of their songs from the ’70’s. This came in at #50 on the Hot 100 for 1968, so you can see that musical tastes in Chicago were a whole lot different than the rest of the country.
- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, “Fire” Parents hated this song, at least my mom did. Naturally, that’s why I liked it. Ended the year at #39 nationwide.
- Marvin Gaye, “I Heard It Through The Gravpevine” Marvin’s first #1 record on the Hot 100 as well as the R&B chart and in the UK, it nonetheless failed to chart on the yearend Hot 100 in 1968 and only got to #88 on the 1969 yearend chart.
- Mary Hopkin, “Those Were The Days” One of the first artists to be signed to Apple Records, Mary was produced by Paul McCartney, who had her record one of his songs from the Magical Mystery Tour album. It reached #1 in the UK, Germany and Switzerland as well as on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, but was kept out of the #1 spot on the Hot 100 by The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” It reached #30 on the yearend Hot 100.
- Ohio Express, “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” 1968 was the year when bubblegum music had its big breakout, subjecting us to the 1910 Fruitgum Company and Ohio Express. It came in at #38 on the yearend Hot 100.
- Herb Alpert, “This Guy’s In Love With You” This easy listening tune reached #7 on the yearend Hot 100, marking the first time in this list WLS and Billboard came close to one another.
- Jeannie C. Riley, “Harper Valley PTA” There was still room on the pop charts for country music crossovers in 1968. Jeannie C. Riley’s song about hypocrisy in a small town serves as a reminder about people in glass houses not throwing stones, and led to a short-lived TV series starring the lovely and talented Barbara Eden. Billboard had this finishing the year at #11.
- Bobby Goldsboro, “Honey” The top 3 positions on the WLS Big 89 and the yearend Hot 100 agree, starting with this song about love and loss. I could say much more, but I won’t, other than to say that I kind of like it.
- Paul Mauriat, “Love Is Blue (L’amour Est Bleu)” This song, with lyrics in French, was Luxembourg’s entry into the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest, where it was sung by Greek singer Vicky Leandros (appearing as simply “Vicky”) and placed fourth. French orchestra leader Paul Mauriat recorded this instrumental version and it became the only record recorded by a French artist to reach #1 on the Hot 100.
- The Beatles, “Hey Jude”/”Revolution” Maybe the only song by The Fab Four that I really dislike nevertheless had an amazing year in 1968, and in Chicago its flip side was almost as popular. In the list, the latter precedes the former, so you can cut out during the “na na na nanana na”s.
And that’s The Friday 5×2 for December 28, 2018. If I don’t see you before then, Happy New Year!