Don’s Top 10 for February 26, 1979
Back…back…back into time once again, as my “Time Machine” revs up for Monday, February 26, 1979. Disco was at it's absolute commercial peak, with 9 of the top 10, so I've thrown in a few pop-rock countdown extras. I'll play them starting just after midnight late Saturday night on New Jersey 101.5.
“Shake Your Groove Thing” by Peaches & Herb
(#12 last week) The 60s soul duo returns to the survey after a 10-year absence. Same Herb, new Peaches! Herbert Fame (legal name: Feemster) quit show biz for law enforcement in 1970, becoming a Washington D.C. police officer, but went back to music in 1976. Van McCoy helped him find his new “Peaches”, Linda Greene. In 1986, Fame once again quit show biz, going to work for the U.S. Marshalls Service as a deputized court security officer for the U.S. Court Of Appeals. Even though he won a big back royalty case & could have retired, Herb continued to work at both jobs.
“Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)” by Bell & James
(#13 last week) I'm sorry I didn't watch “The X Factor” in the fall of 2011. If I did, I would have seen LeRoy Bell, one half of this duo, as a contestant! And he didn't win? Yikes. The guy's been in the biz for decades.
“I Don’t Know If It’s Right” by Evelyn “Champagne” King
(#7 last week) One of the great rags-to-riches stories of pop music. King was employed as a cleaning woman at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia & was overheard singing while cleaning the bathrooms by a producer. He volunteered to mentor her, & that led to an RCA recording contract. Speaking of recordings, after an 18 year break, she released a new album in 2007, & a single in 2011.
“Fire” by The Pointer Sisters
(#6 last week) Damn, what a killer song! Maybe the best Springsteen cover EVER. Still sounds as fresh in 2012 as 1979. Sadly, the Pointer Sisters have had a lot of tragedy & discord in their family. Here's hoping for better days for one of the first families of music.
“Tragedy” by The Bee Gees
(#22 last week) Disco was king in early 1979, & these guys were kings of disco in 1979, although I don't think they wanted the crown. It ultimately hindered their career. “Tragedy” was originally written for the “Sgt. Pepper” movie, but was not used there.
“Le Freak” by Chic
(#4 last week) A former #1 hit, now on the way down, slowly. Before Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards came up with the concept for Chic, they called themselves “Allah & The Knife-Wielding Punks” & played new wave music! FYI, the female singers here are Alfa Anderson & Luci Martin. They were NOT on Chic's previous hit, “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowzah, Yowzah, Yowzah)”. That was sung by Norma Jean Wright.
“Heaven Knows” by Donna Summer with Brooklyn Dreams
(#10 last week) OK, let me clear up the decades-long confusion. Brooklyn Dreams was a 3-man group, which included keyboardist Bruce Sudano (formerly with Alive “N” Kickin', who hit big with “Tighter, Tighter”) & lead vocalist Joe “Bean” Esposito. That's who is singing with Donna on this hit, not her future husband, Bruce (they're still married & now grandparents, living near Nashville). If you've ever seen the 1978 movie “American Hot Wax”, Brooklyn Dreams played the group “Professor La Plano & The Planotones”. Interestingly, on the Brooklyn Dreams album, Esposito & Summer reversed roles, with each doing the other's part.
“Y.M.C.A.” by The Village People
(#3 last week) 18 incredible weeks in the top 10 for the song that wouldn't die. In the summer of 1979, I was between radio jobs, & was working as a messenger in Manhattan. One day on Wall Street, I walked right into the set of “Can't Stop The Music” & saw the Village People, in full regalia, strutting down the sidewalk! The director, Nancy Walker (yep, the “Bounty” lady), was right behind, with a megaphone! Wish I had a camera with me. I didn't see producer Allan Carr & his flowing caftan……
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
(#2 last week) Jersey girl Gloria & the ultimate declaration of personal independence. As with many classics, it started as the “B” side of the single (the original “A” was a cover of the worldwide hit by Clout, “Substitute”).
“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” by Rod Stewart
(#1 last week; 2nd week at #1) Wow, did rock critics & longtime fans go nuts, roasting Rod for “selling out” by “going disco”. But SOMEONE must have liked this song! It was Stewart's all-time biggest selling single.