Let’s Move Before They Raise the Parking Rate

For the last 10 months or so, we’ve been digging into the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 to learn more about the acts who scored but one chart hit, one chart position at a time. We’re continuing with Number 92, which has consumed plenty of our time so far, and we won’t be done even when this post is through. (Find the whole series here.)

“What’s Your Name”/Andy & David Williams (6/29/74, four weeks). It shouldn’t have taken The Partridge Family TV series to make stars of Andy and David Williams. They were nephews of singer Andy Williams and fixtures on his TV specials, and had already made at least one album under the tutelage of Partridge Family producer Wes Farrell before being cast in a final-season episode of the show. But that appearance gave them enough of a boost to chart “What’s Your Name,” even though it was neither the song they sang on the show nor the kind of thing they would record in later years—music sometimes compared to Bruce Hornsby or REM.

“(Everybody Wants to Find a) Bluebird”/Randy Edelman (3/29/75, four weeks). Edelman has scored plenty of films and TV shows over the years, but during the mid-70s he was a cult singing star in Britain, and recorded several albums of singer/songwriter pop backed by top session musicians. (Among the songs he wrote: Barry Manilow’s hit “Weekend in New England.”) “Bluebird” is just catchy enough so that you can imagine it on the radio, but not catchy enough so that you’re surprised it didn’t chart very high.

“All Right Now”/Lea Roberts (4/19/75, three weeks). Roberts was from Dayton, Ohio, and made a couple of albums in the mid 1970s and one more in the early 80s. She recorded a version of “Laughter in the Rain” that was released as a single before Neil Sedaka’s. When hers started to get noticed, Sedaka rushed out his own version—which is vastly inferior to Lea’s—and blew her off the radio. I will not say her version of “All Right Now” is better than the original by Free, but you can listen to it just as loud, and I recommend that you do.

“What Time of Day”/Billy Thunderkloud (7/12/75, three weeks). If I told you that the full name of this group was Billy Thunderkloud and the Chieftones, you would guess that they were Indians, and you’d be right. If I told you their album was called Off the Reservation, you might not be surprised. “What Time of Day” was a modest hit on the American country charts and in Canada, the group’s home country. If you share my general aversion to children’s choruses, click the link at your own risk.

After the jump: a late 70s smorgasbord of disco, R&B, singer/songwriter pop, and new wave—and a couple of mp3s.

“Love Bug”/Bumble Bee Unlimited (1/8/77, five weeks). The disco tide washed in loads of producer-driven creations played and sung by anonymous performers. In the case of “Love Bug,” the anonymous singers seem to have been on helium. The 45 was cut down to 2:30 from the seven-minute original, and thank goodness.

“Good Thing Man”/Frank Lucas (7/2/77, three weeks). This was the first release for the record label ICA, founded by Al Bell after the implosion of Stax. Various web citations say “Good Thing Man” sold a million copies, and ever after, Frank Lucas has called himself “the Good Thing Man.”

“It Ain’t Love”/Tom Powers (11/5/77, five weeks). There’s precious little information to be found about Tom Powers. One source says he’s from Detroit; another says he eventually landed in Phoenix. “It Ain’t Love” puts me in mind of England Dan and John Ford Coley or Dan Hill, at least until the horns kick in.

“Miss Broadway”/Belle Epoque (4/1/78, four weeks). Belle Epoque was a French trio who did a Eurodisco version of Los Bravos’ “Black Is Black.” They followed it with “Miss Broadway,” on which the singers do not so much sing as harangue. It hits a pretty good groove, though, and was a substantial hit on the dance charts.

“Back in My Arms Again”/Genya Ravan (8/26/78, three weeks). Genya and her parents barely escaped the Nazis at the end of World War II, when she was just a baby. She kicked around the music business as a girl, eventually forming Ten Wheel Drive, a jazz/rock band inspired by Blood Sweat and Tears, which lasted from 1969 to 1972. After a string of solo albums, Genya’s 1978 album Urban Desire was her commercial breakthrough. “Back in My Arms Again” is a Supremes cover, a mix of scorching guitars and Joplinesque vocals, and was a bit much for pop radio in the summer of ’78.

Next time, whenever that is: We spend more time in the 80s than in any other installment of this series, with more TV stars making records, and more Canadians.

“Laughter in the Rain”/Lea Roberts (out of print)
“All Right Now”/Lea Roberts (buy mp3 here)

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8 responses

  1. Thanks, Jim, for the introduction to Lea Roberts. Her voice reminds me a bit of Odia Coates from the Paul Anka mid-70s songs as well as the grittier side of Phoebe Snow. Neat to hear some cool versions of familiar songs.

  2. A solid gold pluck from obscurity is what Genya Ravan is. Let me tell you that her album “…And I Mean It” is rocker bliss. Had the FM hit “Junkman” and also has “Petal To The Metal” and the eloquent “I Won’t Sleep On The Wetspot No More”. Good ol’ bar-room rock and roll. Highly recommended.

  3. Genya was “Goldie” of “Goldie and the Gingerbreads” one of the many “first” all-girl rock and roll bands.

    When I was a kid and All Right Now was actually on the charts (as opposed to being one of the most over-played classic rock songs ever) I thought he sang, “let’s move before they raise the f***ing rent” and wondered how they got that on the radio.

    1. @Porky: That’s right! And as such, she has a cameo role in “Girl of the Year,” one of the finest things Tom Wolfe ever wrote (preserved for immortality in the “Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” essay collection.)
      Mick Jagger’s in it too.

  4. Genya’s pretty active on Facebook, and she recently released a new CD, “Undercover.” Haven’t heard it yet, but I’ve read some good things about it. Thanks for the Lea Roberts and for the warning about the children’s chorus on “What Time of Day.”

    1. Give “Undercover…” a spin. Genya feels it’s one of her best. (Available on Itunes.)

  5. WOW! another grat one I never heard is Lea Roberts. She obviously deserved a better fate.

  6. Hey, Jim…I’ve been reading the DitB blogs for the past two nights and you’re starting to fuel an obsession on the order of our mutual acquaintance Mr. Steed’s Wednesday morning jaunts over at Popdose. I vote that you keep the series going all the way up to #41…heck, cover the whole chart if you wish. I can only think of two pole-position one-hitters offhand, but they’re two of my fave records of their respective eras and I’d like to read your takes. (I won’t reveal what they are in case you decide to go whole hog.)

    One technicality…Andy & David Williams did have another charting single, billed as The Williams Brothers: “Can’t Cry Hard Enough”, #42 in the spring of ’92 (and another favorite of mine). I’ll let you make the final call, but if you keep them in, I expect to see Kissing the Pink and KTP treated as separate entities. ;) Thanks again for keeping me entertained.

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