Sunday, May 1, 2016

US Top 20 May 1 1976

To boogie in the 40's was to dance to the latest swing hits by Benny Goodman . By the late 60's and early 70's it meant cranking up some hard rockin' blues from the likes of Savoy Brown or Foghat. But by 1976, the discos had redefined the word to simply mean to dance with joy. Two songs in the Top 20 had "Boogie" in the title. The Sylvers's "Boogie Fever" and The Silver Convention's "Get Up and Boogie", performed here before a German crowd so unenthused you'd guess they were being punished. Maybe they were.

1 2 LET YOUR LOVE FLOW –•– The Bellamy Brothers (Warner Brothers / Curb)-14 2 3 RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM –•– Maxine Nightingale (United Artists)-12
3 4 BOOGIE FEVER –•– The Sylvers (Capitol)-12

4 7 WELCOME BACK –•– John Sebastian (Reprise)-6
5 5 SWEET LOVE –•– The Commodores (Motown)-19
6 1 DISCO LADY –•– Johnnie Taylor (Columbia)-11
7 8 SHOW ME THE WAY –•– Peter Frampton (AM)-11
8 10 FOOLED AROUND AND FELL IN LOVE –•– Elvin Bishop (Capricorn)-9
9 9 BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY –•– Queen (Elektra)-18
10 29 LOVE HANGOVER –•– Diana Ross (Motown)-5  1

11 6 ONLY SIXTEEN –•– Dr. Hook (Capitol)-18
12 24 SILLY LOVE SONGS –•– Wings (Capitol)-4
13 28 GET UP AND BOOGIE (That’s Right) –•– Silver Convention (Midland International)-8
14 18 SHANNON –•– Henry Gross (Lifesong)-10
15 17 I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO –•– Abba (Atlantic)-12
16 14 DECEMBER, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) –•– The Four Seasons (Warner Brothers / Curb)-19
17 19 TRYIN’ TO GET THE FEELING AGAIN –•– Barry Manilow (Arista)-7
18 23 SARA SMILE –•– Daryl Hall and John Oates (RCA)-14
19 22 STRANGE MAGIC –•– The Electric Light Orchestra (United Artists)-8
20 20 LIVIN’ FOR THE WEEKEND –•– The O’Jays (Philadelphia International)-9

Saturday, April 30, 2016

40 Year Itch : Make Way for the Positive Day

   On April 30, 1976 Bob Marley and the Wailers released Rastaman Vibration, the first of Marley's albums to reach the Top 10 in the Billboard 200 chart where it peaked at number 8, thanks in large part to the success of the album's US #51 single "Roots, Rock, Reggae".

   It's always seemed odd to me that the album doesn't share the critical praise of the preceding albums Natty Dread and Live or the ones that immediately followed, Exodus and Kaya. That might be because this is the first Wailers album I ever owned, a cassette I found in a storage attic at my boarding school. The moment I first heard the crystal clear production, the synthesizers and the positive vibes of its opening cut, I was hooked. Rastaman Vibration was my introduction to reggae music and remains one of my ten desert island albums.

  I've only recently learned that the wisdom of the lyrics I've been hearing in "War" comes from a speech by Ethiopian emperor Haile Salassie, believed by many Rastafarians to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Is finally
And permanently
And abandoned
Everywhere is war
Me say war.
 That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say war.

  Not one of these album tracks appears on the best selling greatest hits collection, Legend. I envy every music fan that hasn't heard Rastaman Vibrationan album to be savored in its entirety. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

40 Year Itch : The Boss Visits Graceland

    On April 29, 1976 , after wrapping up his Memphis concert, Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Floyd hung out backstage. (Floyd had come onstage that night to sing "Raise Your Hand", "Knock on Wood" and "Yum Yum, I Want Some " but not "Big Bird"

    But that wasn't the only big Memphis star Springsteen wanted to meet that night. I'll let the Boss tell the rest of the story ( even if he gets the year wrong).

The entire Memphis Concert: 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

40 Year Itch : Black and Blue

   To promote their new album, Black and Blue, released in April of 1976, The Rolling Stones displayed model Anita Russell all tied up ( by  Mick Jagger it turns out!) and sporting bruises with the tagline "I'm Black and Blue from the Rolling Stones - and I love it!"
  Not everybody else loved it...including the intrepid spray can artist who climbed up to the Hollywood billboard below to write "This is a crime against women!". More protests convinced the record company to take the billboard down.
  Anita's comment: "People should have more of a sense of humor."

   The album itself is a mixed bag, recorded with various guitarists who were auditioning in Munich for the Rolling Stones spot that Ronnie Wood would eventually win. The best thing on the entire album might be Canned Heat's Harvey "The Snake" Mandel's distinctive wah wah guitar on the lead off track "Hot Stuff". ( Doesn't Bill Wyman look thrilled to be entering the disco age?)

The second best thing is "Hand of Fate" which sounds like a classic Keef Richards tune, only the lead guitar is played by American session man Wayne Perkins. The third best: anything Billy Preston did.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

40 Year Itch : The Flash in My Head

   In which the angry young Van, whose attitude would inspire Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and every self -named punk in the UK and beyond, takes a few minutes to sing a beautiful song apparently about a fading love. Produced by Nick Lowe and backed by veterans of the pub rock scene, Graham Parker's debut would deservedly win massive critical acclaim. Add up The Village Voice Pazz and Jop critics poll points for this and Heat Treatment, also released in 1976, and Parker would have been beat Stevie Wonder for album of the year! Howlin Wind remains my favorite Graham Parker album even after all these years.

Monday, April 25, 2016

40 Year Itch : Someday a Real Rain Will Come

I have the final say, or I don’t do the music. 
-Bernard Herrmann

   In the first ten seconds of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, you know this is going to be a cab ride through hell. That was the kind of unsettling psychological power composer Bernard Herrmann had. We knew this of course, thanks to his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock ( Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo). Directors could cut pages of dialogue and let Herrmann's music tell the story.

     This was Herrmann's last film. He had died months before the movie came out. Taxi Driver , dedicated to Herrmann, was the top movie of 1976 for five weeks. For any number of reasons, my dad wouldn't let his 12 year old son see it. The film is Scorsese's most disturbing. The paranoid, lonely, isolated Travis Bickle is his most intense character. Herrmann's soundtrack, with its late night jazz sounds and percussion, underscores an atmosphere of menace throughout the movie.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

40 Year Itch : Got Myself Together

   On April 24, 1976 Brass Construction's debut album topped the US R/B album charts, where they would reign for three weeks. Credit B.T. Express producer Jeff Lane and the 8:40 lead off track "Movin" for the Brooklyn funk band's success. A #1 R/B single, "Movin'" also spent four weeks atop what would be known as the disco dance chart. The single is great but the full version ( below) is the way to go.