Tonight’s the Night All Right

In past years at this blog, our custom has been to see out the old year by looking back at a year-end record chart of some kind. This year, I’m writing about American Top 40 repeats I have been listening to in the car lately. This one is from December 4, 1976, five years to the day after the one I wrote about yesterday. That winter remains a time I am unable to be objective about, so while I listen to these songs, I’m not completely here.

40. “I Wish”/Stevie Wonder. Casey says this is the first single to make its Hot 100 debut within the top 40 since John Lennon’s “Imagine” in October 1971, which is one crazy-good bit of chart trivia.

38. “Whenever I’m Away From You”/John Travolta. Compared to this, “Let Her In” is “Be My Baby.” Watch Travolta lip-sync it on this clip from the Captain and Tennille’s variety show, which is the most 70s thing you’re going to see all day.

36. “Shake Your Rump to the Funk”/Bar-Kays. This disco-funk burner sounds exactly like the Ohio Players and should probably have been a bigger hit. I am tempted to say that the ass reference in the title couldn’t have helped, but KC and the Sunshine’s “Shake Your Booty” had gone to #1 the previous September.

31. “Don’t Fear the Reaper”/Blue Oyster Cult. Introducing this record and again after it ends, Casey says it sounds like “the old Byrds.” Whatever you say, Case.

25. “Do You Feel Like We Do”/Peter Frampton. The song is nearly 14 minutes on the album and over seven on the single, but the AT40 staff cut it to about four, and other than a clunky edit to the very end of the talkbox solo, it’s not bad.

21. “Love Ballad”/LTD and 20. “After the Lovin’”/Engelbert Humperdinck. Choose your flavor of bedroom ballad. I pick Engelbert, for the vivid personal associations I have with it, and don’t you judge me.

17. “The Best Disco in Town”/Ritchie Family. The cheesiest record on the show, and completely delightful.

Casey answers a listener question about whether there’s even been a Top 40 hit that wasn’t a vocal, instrumental, or spoken-word recording. His researchers found two of them: “Oh Susanna” by the Singing Dogs and “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” by Whistling Jack Smith. I find this bit of trivia to be somewhat disappointing, even as I marvel at how much research it must have taken to uncover it in the days before the Internet.

15. “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”/Elton John. In which Elton mopes for four minutes and makes everybody listening want to kill themselves. Rose bloom: off.

9. “Nadia’s Theme”/Barry Devorzon & Perry Botkin Jr. Casey and ABC were business partners, so this is synergy: he tells the story of how an ABC-TV producer plucked this song from the soundtrack of Bless the Beasts and Children thinking it would be perfect for ’76 Olympics gymnastics montages. He does not mention that it had been the theme for the CBS soap The Young and the Restless since 1973.

8. “More Than a Feeling”/Boston. “It’s more than a feeling / When I hear that old song they used to play.” I saw those lines in print recently and it struck me that for 37 years, I have never clearly understood what Brad Delp was singing.

6. “You Don’t Have to Be a Star”/Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. The slickest record to chart since “Don’t Pull Your Love” by Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds five years before, so perfectly produced (by former Motown session man and Stax writer/producer Don Davis) that it couldn’t help but be a smash.

2. “The Rubberband Man”/Spinners. I am pleased to have lived in a time when something so fine could become a monster hit.

1. “Tonight’s the Night”/Rod Stewart. Spending its fourth of eight straight weeks at #1, this would become the longest-running #1 since “Hey Jude” went nine weeks in 1968. I think this was on the radio the first time I ever got to second base. I’ve always liked it, and by “it” I mean second base.

Happy new year, everybody, and thanks as always for your patronage.

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4 responses

  1. I like “Tonight’s the Night” about as well as you like “Taxi.” And I can’t figure out why Travolta would dress like Prince Valiant (as the YouTube poster noted). But hey, it was 1976 heading toward 1977. I don’t know that I loved any of the records you cite back then; now, my favorite is like “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” In any event, as we head toward 2014, we send you good wishes and the hope that we get to enjoy the company of you and The Mrs. (along with a beer or two) sometime during the coming year.

  2. happy new year from San Francisco—I’ve seen the weather report, stay warm!

  3. The world would be a different place, had the Singing Dogs covered Kaiser Bill’s Batman.

    Don’t be too harsh on Casey. “(Dont Fear) The Reaper sounds just like “Mind Gardens” when I forget to change the batteries in my hearing aids, too,

    “Rose bloom: off.” Absolutely perfect, j.b. Best New Year’s wishes from this iceburgh to yours.

  4. My first thought was “that couldn’t possibly be what Brad Delp is singing.” And I realized I also have had no idea what the words are for decades. I thought the word “babe” was in there. And then I thought it was “I think it’s really more than a feeling” instead of “I think I’m dreaming.”

    Wonder how big it could have been with good lyrics. :)

    And a very happy 2014 to you & yours!

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