Category Archives: Hall & Oates

Today’s Top 5: April 9, 1977

Where has the time gone?! It seems just like yesterday that I was a studious sixth-grader (yes, that’s me to the left) successfully navigating the rigors of academia at Loller Middle School, the first of the Hatboro-Horsham school district’s two middle schools (6th-7th grades; 8th-9th grades). I was on my way to achieving the Honor Roll yet again on this day 40 years ago, and would continue to do so until 8th or 9th grade, when I ran into problems with math. X plus Y equals what?!

According to my old report card, my homeroom teacher was Miss Goldeman – but, sad to say, I have no memories of her beyond a vague feeling that she may have been an art teacher. In fact, I have few in-school memories of any kind from that spring. I do remember a fire drill that found us kids lined up outside on a dreary day for what seemed like forever, but it could well have been the previous fall or sometime during the next school year; regardless, it turned out that it wasn’t a fire drill but a locker search. (The only thing they would have found in mine: gum.) I watched far too much TV, and read and collected pro wrestling magazines.

One book that I read around this time: The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins, about a Nazi plot to kidnap Winston Churchill. I remember that because I decided I wanted to read it after seeing the film of the same name, which was released in the States on April 2nd.

In the wider world wider: Jimmy Carter was president. Unemployment was high at 7.2 percent, but on a downward slope; and inflation was unseemly, too, at 7.0 percent. No president deserves acclaim or blame for the economy three months into their first term, of course; their policies have yet to be implemented, and even if they have, it takes time for those changes to reverberate beyond the bureaucracy. So I’ll save my criticisms of Carter for another day.

As I write, the temperature outside is 69.6 degrees, the sun is out and few clouds dot the blue, blue sky. It’s a beautiful day. This day in 1977, a Saturday, wasn’t quite as nice: though the sun was out, the high peaked at a mere 48 degrees. The low was 25. We likely visited one or both sets of grandparents, or the great-aunts & uncle, as that’s what we did most weekends.

In the sports world, the Flyers, who racked up a 48-16-16 record during the regular season, were two days away from beginning their first-round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’d lose the first two games before winning four straight, but were then swept in the next round by the Boston Bruins. The 76ers, in the penultimate game of their season, defeated the Washington Bullets 125-93, improving their record to 50-31; they’d make their way to the NBA Finals—and lose to the Portland Trailblazers. The other team in town, the Phillies, began their season with a 4-3 lose to the Montreal Expos.

Anyway, enough of the preamble. Here’s today’s Top 5: April 9, 1977 (via Weekly Top 40)

1) Abba – “Dancing Queen.” Debuting at No 1 is this dollop of unadulterated pop, which some folks hate with a passion. Not me, though. It never fails to put me in a good mood.

2) David Soul – “Don’t Give Up On Us.” The No. 2 song of the week is this kitschy number from the actor better known as Richard “Hutch” Hutchinson on Starsky & Hutch. Along with Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” it was often a featured song on TV commercials for love-themed compilation LPs during the late ‘70s.

3) Thelma Houston – “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” Clocking in at No. 3: this disco tune from Ms. Houston, which would top out at No. 1 in a few weeks and earn her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance.

4) Hall & Oates – “Rich Girl.” Falling from No. 1 to No. 4 is this classic from the blue-eyed soul duo, who met while students at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1967.

5) Glen Campbell – “Southern Nights.” Years ago, in my TV GUIDE days, I interviewed Campbell (via phone) for a Nashville Network special that he was in – and he was nothing but nice. Super nice, actually. He even sang snippets of different songs to me, including Bob Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay.” Of this song, this week it jumped from No. 9 to No. 5 and was on its way to No. 1.

And two bonuses:

6) The Steve Miller Band – “Fly Like an Eagle.” I don’t believe I ever bought anything by Steve Miller. I never felt the need. Not because his songs weren’t catchy or good, but because they were played so often on Philly radio stations that I came to know them like the back of my hand. Of this song: Having already hit No. 2 a month a change earlier, this week it held steady at No. 13 for a second week.

7) Rod Stewart – “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” The No. 22 song this week is this classic, which many folks, nowadays, consider a Sheryl Crow song. And while I love her version, I can’t help but to shriek a little inside when she’s credited for the Cat Stevens-penned tune, which was a U.K. hit for P.P. Arnold in 1967 and, a decade later, a sizable hit for Rod Stewart in the U.S.

 

Today’s Top 5: December 1985 (via Record Magazine)

IMG_0154Thirty years ago this week, I was working full-time hours (or close to them) at my part-time job. Although I attended the Penn State mothership in State College, between semesters – and even a few weekends during the semesters themselves – I punched a literal time clock at the Abraham & Straus department store in the Willow Grove Mall in Willow Grove, Pa.

The big movies, this month, were Rocky IV, Spies Like Us, The Color Purple and Out of Africa. NBC’s Thursday-night lineup of The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Night Court and Hill Street Blues ruled TV – though, for my part, I barely watched anything beyond the Flyers and Miami Vice while at school, and the latter was because a buddy watched it.

I’ve covered this same basic time frame in past Top 5s – Summer 1985, October 1985 and January/February 1986. It was, dare I say, a fun time in my life aside from one not-so-fun fact: I had a cold this week that was getting worse by the hour. The cold did not, however, keep me from my appointed rounds – I selected my Album of the Year, which was Lone Justice’s self-titled debut, as I did (and do) every year.

I also named a runner-up, which is something I rarely did at the time: the Long Ryders’ State of Our Union:

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Anyway, this issue of Record features Bryan Adams on the cover; I didn’t care for his music then, and still don’t care for it now. What excited me the most: a Q&A with Jane Wiedlin, who talks about leaving the Go-Go’s and recording/releasing her solo debut, which came out in October.

Q: Did leaving afflict you with the usual fear and loathing?

A: It was complicated. There was this enormous sense of relief to be out of the horrible things that were happening, but at the same time there was this sense of throwing away years of work, a pretty good income and a certain amount of fame in one fell swoop.

1) Jane Wiedlin – “Blue Kiss.” In the back of the magazine, a review of her debut by one Chris Morris says: “She proves to be a sweet and spunky lead vocalist, and the record boasts a number of strong pop ballads which showcase her vulnerable side – “Blue Kiss,” “I Will Wait for You,” “My Traveling Heart.” The review concludes with: “While the production is occasionally overwrought and some of the song choices are improbable or strained (“Somebody’s Going to Get Into This House” and the awkward protest number “Goodbye Cruel World”), Jane Wiedlin is in the main a touching, perky and likable first bow.”

“Blue Kiss,” the lead single, is a sweet pop confection that, to my ears, sounds like a Go-Go’s outtake; all that’s missing is Belinda Carlisle singing lead. And, if Belinda had sung lead, I’d wager it would’ve made the Top 10 instead of stalling at No. 77.

IMG_01562) 10,000 Maniacs – “Scorpio Rising.” The major-label debut of 10,000 Maniacs, The Wishing Chair, is reviewed in this issue. Critic Ted Drozdowski writes: “10,000 Maniacs are crafty devils, stewing folk, bluegrass and art rock into a style that begs comparison with R.E.M. and Fairport Convention, but carries enough mutant genes to sound daring and original. These western-New York Staters write songs that are wistful, romantic, sometimes elegiac, soaring on fragile melodies and fortified by manic rips of Robert Buck’s guitar.”

3) Hall & Oates with David Ruffin & Eddie Kenricks – “The Way You do the Things You Do/My Girl.” Philly blue-eyed soul meets Motown in this fun track from Hall & Oates’ Live at the Apollo album. The review by James Hunter isn’t super-kind: “The record hints that it’s about Hall and Oates’ connection to soul music, but it’s not. It’s about the best-selling pop duo in history, capable of looking so sharp one minute and utterly vacant the next, turning their live show into the sleekest possible disk. For hardcore fans only, minus the Temps.”

Like I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve never been much of a Hall & Oates fan – I like(d) some of their hits, but never enough to buy anything beyond their Rock ’n’ Soul, Vol. 1, collection. That said, you have to give them their due for sharing their love of Motown.

IMG_01684) Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Touble – “Change It.” Stevie Ray and Soul to Soul, his third album, receive a glowing tribute. “Stevie Ray Vaughan is about nothing but music, which sets Soul to Soul dramatically apart from its cohabitants on the 1985 album charts.” So says writer John Swenson, at any rate. The piece, which includes quotes from the blues guitarist, says this track “combines Vaughan’s best structural playing with the finest vocal he’s ever recorded, and Eric Clapton would undoubtedly be impressed by the way Stevie rewrites Freddie King on his solo.”

5) Marshall Crenshaw – “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee).” Ira Robbins (late of Trouser Press?) says of Crenshaw’s third album, Downtown, “Affecting, unaffected singing supported by sharp, spare rock backing and succinct production make this as fine a record as any he’s made, and the perfect antidote to the synthesized dance-pop so prevalent nowadays.” Perhaps. Perhaps not.