A Tangerine, Hot Biscuits, and Some Funk of Your Own

After my radio show on Saturday night, the Casey Kasem rerun was from February 14, 1976. Damn right I live-blogged it, at least until I fell asleep on the couch.

40. “Tangerine”/Salsoul Orchestra. Disco records from 1975 and 1976 have a distinct charm. The beat has yet to become mindless; the R&B/showband roots of the music are still audible. The Salsoul Orchestra was made up of players from MFSB, including Salsoul conductor Vince Montana Jr., so there you go.

36. “Only Sixteen”/Dr. Hook. I always think of a former radio colleague of mine whenever I hear this. He used to sing it thusly: “She was too fat to fall in love / And I was too drunk to know.”

34. “Dream On”/Aerosmith. In its first week back on the chart since a 1973 run. The single version of this, which you never hear anymore, beats the hell out of the full-length one.

33. “Bohemian Rhapsody”/Queen. I adored this record from the first time I heard it, in the way you do only when you’re 16. I’ve heard it too many times since to care whether I hear it again, but it remains a remarkable feat of creativity and performance.

Between Barry White’s “Let the Music Play” and “Sweet Thing” by Rufus, Casey does a feature on Enrico Caruso’s “Vesta la guibba,” which was the first million-seller back in 1906. It does not bring the funk.

30. “Deep Purple”/Donny & Marie Osmond. I find this weirdly charming, the wheezing chorus of harmonicas, the vigorously whacked drums, and Marie’s dreamy/stoned spoken verse.

Big-ass train wreck to end the first hour: “Junk Food Junkie” by Larry Groce followed by Foghat’s “Slow Ride.”

26. “Tracks of My Tears”/Linda Ronstadt. Casey notes that there are six remakes in the countdown this week. It’s not cool to like this one, but I do, particularly the lovely steel guitar that takes it out.

25. “The White Knight”/Cledus Maggard. The winter of 1976 was the height of the CB craze, and there are two CB records on the show. (“Convoy” is the other one.) “The White Knight” was the #1 country song in the nation this week. Inspirational lyric: “On the list of the ten best things in life / Your CB’s gotta rate right around number four / ‘Course beavers, hot biscuits, and Merle Haggard come one, two, three.”

In 1973, nine female artists or groups with female lead singers (we’re lookin’ at you, Gladys Knight & the Pips) hit #1, an all-time record. I am not particularly compelled by this statistic, but it did break up what would have been another epic train wreck, for #24 is David Bowie’s “Golden Years.”

21. “Lonely Night (Angel Face)”/Captain and Tennille. Casey almost cracks himself up while telling a story about the Captain and Tennille’s wedding, then introduces the song, which I like much better now than I did in 1976. While Toni is unsubtly declaming the lyric, there’s all kinds of interesting stuff going on behind her.

20. “Baby Face”/Wing and a Prayer Fife and Drum Corps. It was the 70s. We couldn’t help ourselves.

17. “Grow Some Funk of Your Own”/Elton John. Casey says Elton is “headed for another big #1.” No he wasn’t. This was a double-sided hit, backed by “I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford).” I like ‘em both, but if they give you the feeling that Elton and Bernie were starting to try a little bit too hard, you’re not alone.

16. “Squeeze Box”/The Who. I am the only person I know who likes this song.

15. “Wake Up Everybody”/Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Nicely introduced by Casey, who talks about how it’s a former #1 soul song and then says, “it’s called . . .” and gets out of the way for Teddy Pendergrass to sing the title line.

14. “All By Myself”/Eric Carmen. I am getting very sleepy, and it’s not just the lateness of the hour. This record seems to take forever to play. Just as Paul McCartney needed John Lennon to cut his most syrupy impulses, Carmen needed the other Raspberriesssszzzzzzzzzzz

Yesterday morning, I looked up the remaining 13 records, which contain some highly pleasurable Top 40 nuggets, including “Evil Woman,” (#10) another definitive example of ELO’s art, and Neil Sedaka’s ballad version of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” (#9) which is the way the song should have been done in the first place. Although Casey introduced the show by saying “there’s a lotta action” on the chart, the top 8 are mostly unchanged from the previous week, and the top 3 are exactly the same: “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate, “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer, and at #1 on Valentine’s Day 1976, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon.

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14 responses

  1. I listened to the same show Saturday morning on KOOL-FM. Hearing Eric Carmen reminded me of my high school band trip to St. Louis in the mid-70s when we played at Six Flags Over Mid-America. Carmen was perfoming there and it didn’t cost me a dime to see him.

  2. The first time I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody,” my roommate and I looked at each other and thought it was a joke. It’s not on my Top 400 or so, but damned if I don’t know all the words and frills (and sing them when it hits the radio, as long as no one else is around). I’m much happier with the Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes single, and “Baby Face” takes me back to a nice place, so that’s okay, too, You and spinetingler are on your own with “Squeeze Box.”

  3. If you bought a copy of the “Dream On” 45 in 1976, what you got was the 4:28 LP version, not the original ’73 remixed edit. The ’76 promo 45 included both versions, allowing stations to choose which side to play and to frustrate listeners who wanted to buy the shorter of the two.

    A question came up on the Pat Downey board the other day regarding the length of “Baby Face,” so I dug into my files to find the answer (the DJ 45 fades some twenty seconds before the short side of the commercial 45 does) but a further question about whether the promo was edited further meant that I would actually have to *listen* to the record for the first time since probably ’76. It wasn’t nearly as dreadful as I’d remembered. How’s that for high praise?

  4. Yes, I admit…I like “Squeeze Box,” too. I was really into The Who back in ’76. I even saw the movie version of “Tommy” at the movie theatre in my hometown. All I remember from that was Elton John singing “Pinball Wizard” and Ann-Margaret diving into a pile of beans. No, I don’t plan to see it again anytime soon.
    I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Grow Some Funk of Your Own” by Elton John. School was cancelled because much of Southern Wisconsin was getting pelted with one of the worst ice storms of all time. Power lines snapped because they became coated with an inch of ice. With a portable radio, I listened that day to WACI (“Wacky 92″) out of Freeport, Illinois. I heard the DJ say he was about to play a new song from Elton John and he could hardly wait to play it. I liked what I heard when he played it, so I bought the 45 later that week. I still have it today.

  5. my memory of “Bohemian Rhapsody” involves a regional choir competition (yes, I was a band AND choir geek in HS–Shocking!).

    A local school performed a note-perfect version of BH, not that long after the tune’s run on the charts (it may have even still been on the charts). Don’t know if they worked it up on their own or had a “sanctioned” Hal Leonard score. They even had a guitarist who nailed the solo note-for-note.

    Every kid in attendance went NUTS, whistling, clapping, giving them a standing ovation. Every director harrumphed the performance as not “legitimate, ” “correct,” “in the spirit of these things” etc.

  6. I was in my final semester of high school when this show was done. I certainly agree that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was unlike anything I’d ever heard on Top 40 radio to that time. I liked it immediately. I’m sure if it hadn’t gotten a second life in the early ’90s with “Wayne’s World” we wouldn’t be hearing it in commercials and other places. Still, I always get a kick out of hearing it again. And while “Squeeze Box” is not among my favorite Who songs, I certainly don’t mind hearing it. Finally, you make a great point about the disco records from this time not going on autopilot yet. In fact, possibly my favorite record from 1976 would be coming up in just a few months — “More, More, More.”

    1. Somebody needs to make a western about a guy named Banjo Townshend.

  7. Wow…Okay, I see someone else (actually multiple someones else) likes “Squeeze Box” besides you JB.

    On an album with “Slip Kid,” “Dreaming from the Waist,” “Success Story”, “How Many Friends,” and the transcendent “Blue, Red, and Grey” (possibly Pete’s finest expression what what it felt like to be Pete Freakin’ Townshend), you all are talking about “Squeeze Box” fondly? Where’s the outrage? Where’s the outrage, I say?! (Oh, wait, it’s right here…please imagine me with sheepish look comme Belushi after he smashes Stephen Bishop’s guitar in “Animal House”) – “Sorry….”

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” gets the love, but you know, I’ve always thought “Killer Queen” the greater achievement – both sonically and artistically.

    And we agree so strongly about Carmen needing Wally Bryson, et.al., to temper his diabetes inducing schlager-song tendencies, it’s not worth arguing about…(see what I did there…?) ;-)

    As always, great stuff, JB….

    1. Mini-Mantovani was highjacking Raspberries sessions as far back “I Can Remember” on the debut album. Eight minutes’ worth of… I forget.

      Liberace must’ve been envious.

  8. [...] the inclusion of a sweet 1975 track from the Salsoul Orchestra in Monday’s post by my pal jb at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, I’ve been peeling tangerines for the last day or so. Too bad they’re musical and not real, as [...]

  9. Anyone else get the creeps when Donny & Marie sing to each other ‘sweet lovers we’ll always be’?

    On a different Top 40 broadcast, Casey talks about how ‘Baby Face’ was a hit in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s & now the 70s. And although that song never hit the Top 40 again, the artist BabyFace had hits in the 80s,90s and 00s

  10. Not a big fan of “All By Myself,” but I rather liked most of Eric Carmen’s solo Top 40 stuff … “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again,” “Change of Heart,” “She Did It,” etc. Even “Hungry Eyes” eventually won me over, even though the metaphor initially creeped me out and it felt way out of place on the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack.

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