Don’s Top 10 from this week in 1978
Back…back…back into time, to the height of the disco era, with the Jersey hit singles from Monday, November 27, 1978, yet only five of this week's top 10 singles are disco. You'll hear me play them in order, 10 to 1, on New Jersey 101.5 late Saturday night/early Sunday morning starting just after midnight.
“I Just Wanna Stop” by Gino Vannelli
(#9 last week) I've always liked this song. Great blue-eyed soul, sort of like “Wildflower” or “She's Gone”. In the ya-gotta-keep-trying-department, Gino, down to his last pennies, handed Herb Alpert his demo tape outside his locked mansion gate in California in 1973. Herb liked it so much he signed Gino to A&M!
“Ready To Take A Chance Again” by Barry Manilow
(#8 last week) Co-produced by former lead singer of the Archies, Ron Dante. Music from the Goldie Hawn/Chevy Chase movie “Foul Play”. The song was featured in the opening credits/scene, with Goldie driving along the California coast (I want to hop on a plane & do that myself again! Love that drive). Goldie even hums a few bars of the song, & & then quickly passes a very familiar looking hitchhiker.
“YMCA” by the Village People
(#17 last week) First week in the top 10, where it would stay for an incredible 18 straight weeks through March 26, & then have an amazing afterlife, played in sports stadiums, parades & fondly remembered even by people who didn't like disco back in '78-'79. Amazing how things considered so controversial back in the day can become so tame with the passage of time.
“How Much I Feel” by Ambrosia
(#12 last week) They don't make ballads like they used to, with sweeping instrumentation. And this song has such emotion! Like Gino Vannelli, this Southern California band also auditioned for Herb Alpert & A&M Records, but they passed. Even though their three biggest hit singles had an “adult contemporary” sound, Ambrosia was really a progressive-rock group. The hits probably hurt their long-term career.
“One Nation Under A Groove” by Funkadelic
(#13 last week) New Jersey's own master of the funk, the amazing George Clinton, who was on the survey earlier in '78 with Parliament & “Flashlight” returns with basically the same musicians, under a different name. He hit the top 10 locally as far back as 1967 with “(I Wanna) Testify” (known then as The Parliaments) & into the '80s with “Atomic Dog”. A whacked-out musical genius!
“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond
(#14 last week) Paul Simon, in his induction speech for Neil Diamond at the 2011 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony, wondered why it took so long, then said, maybe it was because of this song! And Neil, bless his heart, said, if you don't like my musical choices, you can go to h—. This song was originally recorded separately by Barbara & Neil. A Louisville DJ, Gary Guthrie, decided to splice them together & created magic. Yes, the song WAS then recorded with both of them together in the studio.
“Hot Child In The City” by Nick Gilder
(#3 last week) Born in London but raised in Vancouver, one-hit wonder Gilder hooked up with super-producer Mike Chapman (“Little Willy”, “Ballroom Blitz”, “Kiss You All Over”, “Stumblin' In”, “Mickey”) for this ode to the wasted life of a streetwise lolita.
“Le Freak” by Chic
(#15 last week) Above, I referred to the incredible 18 weeks in the top 10 by “YMCA”. What kept that 3 million selling monster hit out of #1, which it surely would have been at any other time? This funky jam, which became the biggest selling single in Atlantic Records history with over 4 million copies sold. It actually spent “only” 16 weeks in the Jersey top 10.
“You Needed Me” by Anne Murray
(#2 last week) The first time Murray tried to sing this song, she couldn't get through it, because she got so choked up. She knew it would be a smash.
“MacArthur Park” by Donna Summer
(#1 last week; 3rd week at #1) One of the most exciting cold endings to a hit song EVER! I always turn it up loud. Donna's first national #1 single, but her second local #1, following “Last Dance”, which hit the top here in the summer of '78. This remake of Richard Harris's unlikely 1968 #2 smash brought the great 60's songwriter Jimmy Webb back to the public eye. What exactly did he mean by leaving the cake out in the rain? Webb said it was a metaphor for a love affair ending. BTW, the love affair he wrote about was with a lady named Susan Ronstadt. Yep, Linda's cousin.