Don’s Top 10 From March 3, 1976
Back…back…back into time, to the bicentennial year. It’s Wednesday, March 3, 1976, & here are the local top 10 singles.
"You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate
(#7 last week) At the time, this seemed like just another slightly cheesy disco record. But it's endured, due to its funkiness. Springsteen's even been known to jam with this in concert!
"I Write The Songs" by Barry Manilow
(#4 last week) According to Clive Davis's new autobigography, Barry had to be dragged kicking & screaming to record this. He thought of HIMSELF as a singer-songwriter, but Arista head Davis called him "an entertainer". So Barry reluctantly recorded this, actually written by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. Best move he ever made.
"Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright
(#39 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.
"Take It To The Limit" by The Eagles
(#12 last week) Interestingly, there is no vintage video of the song on youtube or anywhere on the internet. I don't know whether that's on purpose. I think it's because the Eagles severely limited their television appearances at the height of their fame. This was much more common in the 70s. TV was considered uncool by many rock acts; plus, why give away any of your live show for free? That was the thinking.
"Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" by Neil Sedaka
(#6 last week) One of the rare times an artist has remade his own song in a different style & had it be a big hit twice. Neil's uptempo original topped the national chart in the summer of 1962. The commercial single of this slow remake actually opens with a snippet of the faster original. Unusual.
"December 1963 (Oh What A Night)" by The 4 Seasons
(#8 last week) 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.
"Love Machine, Part 1" by The Miracles
(#3 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........
"50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon
(#1 last week) How did I not know this? Backing vocals here are by three very well-known ladies: Patti Austin, Valerie Simpson & Phoebe Snow. Simon says (!) that "50 Ways...." "was just a fluke hit that I slipped into by accident".
"All By Myself" by Eric Carmen
(#5 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.
"Theme From SWAT" by Rhythm Heritage
(#2 last week; 1st week at #1) If you watch this video, you will see how the kids on "Bandstand" attempted to dance to this not-really-a-dance-song. 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.