Don’s Top 10 From March 23, 1976
Back into the mists of time for the local top 10 singles from Tuesday, March 23, 1976.
“Dream On” by Aerosmith
(#16 last week) A 1973 album rock radio favorite became a top 40 radio fave here in 1976 (although Boston’s top 40s played it in ’73). Stephen Tyler says that this was the only song on the band’s first album where he used his “real” voice. He was insecure about how his voice sounded on tape, so for the other songs, he tried to sing a bit lower and sound more like soul artists, such as James Brown.
“Love Machine, Part 1″ by The Miracles
(#8 last week) Surprisingly, this did better on the pop chart than the R&B chart. It was remade twice, first by Thelma Houston in 1979 (a hit in Asia) & by Wham! in 1983. As a DJ, I admit, I always love talking up the intro.. Hoooooo YEAH!
“Money Honey” by The Bay City Rollers
(#10 last week) The tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh surprised many by rocking a lot harder for their American followup to “Saturday Night”. Remember their much-hyped appearance on Howard Cosell’s new variety show? Howard fancied himself the next Ed Sullivan. For a few weeks.
“Theme From S.W.A.T.” by Rhythm Heritage
(#3 last week) Rhythm Heritage was a studio band (among the musicians playing on this: Ray Parker Jr. & Toto’s Jeff Porcaro) put together by producers Steve Barri & Michael Omartian. Barri had been spurred on by his six-year old son, who kept asking daddy if there was a record of the “S.W.A.T.” theme. BTW, the original theme was written by Barry DeVorzon, who ironically would hit big as an artist with another TV instrumental just months later, “Nadia’s Theme (The Young & The Restless)”. And Barri had prior experience with TV themes: he co-wrote “Secret Agent Man” in 1966, a smash for Johnny Rivers.
“Lonely Night (Angel Face)” by The Captain & Tennille
(#9 last week) What do you do when you’re the non-singing half of Captain & Tennille & you have to lip-synch on “Bandstand”? Not much if you’re Daryl “The Captain” Dragon, except half-heartedly mime playing his instruments. He got his nickname from Mike Love of the Beach Boys, for whom he’d served as touring keyboardist for a number of years. Really obscure trivia: He got his start in the music business playing in the same group in 1962 as future “Express Yourself” hitmaker Charles Wright.
“Sweet Thing” by Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan
(#5 last week) I forgot how sexy Chaka was in the 70s, as this vintage “Soul Train” appearance proves. And even slow jams were funkier then, you know? Mary J. Blige remade this in 1992.
“Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright
(#6 last week) People have the impression that Gary Wright was British, but Wright was a Jersey boy, born & raised in Cresskill, & went to Tenafly high School. He was a child actor in the 1950s, co-starring on Broadway with Florence Henderson in “Fanny”. The term “Dream Weaver” was first brought to prominence by John Lennon in his 1970 song “God”, with the phrase referring to himself as the “dream weaver” of the 60s, now breaking away from all the baggage associated with his fame. Wright has had other Beatles connections. He played keyboards on George Harrison’s masterpiece triple-album “All Things Must Pass”, & he’s been on several of the Ringo Starr All-Starr Band tours.
“All By Myself” by Eric Carmen
(#2 last week) A reworking of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2. I admit, this drastic style-change for the former leader of the Raspberries, a group I adored, left me kind of cold in 1976, but I appreciate it more now. Celene Dion’s cover was a big hit in 1997.
“Disco Lady” by Johnnie Taylor
(#4 last week) From the album “Eargasm”. The first single to be certified platinum (a new RIAA designation in 1976), this was also Taylor’s first single for Columbia, after his longtime label Stax went bankrupt. Guest stars on the song, included members of Parliament-Funkadelic like Bootsy Collins & Bernie Worrell, & Dawn’s Telma Hopkins.
“December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)” by The 4 Seasons
(#1 last week; 3rd week at #1) This was the biggest selling single of the 4 Seasons career, pretty incredible for a band most people associate with the 60s. Oh, there were FIVE Seasons at this point. The lead vocals were handled by Gerry Polci, & former Critters leader Don Ciccone was on bass. It was a new group, except for Frankie Valli & Bob Gaudio, who co-wrote this with his soon-to-be-wife, Judy Parker. It was originally called “December, 1933″ & was about the end of Prohibition! When Valli was underwhelmed, Gaudio & Parker locked themselves in a room until they came up with a classic. A dance remix of this original recording took the band back to the top 10 in 1994.