July is dragging. Here in Wisconsin, it’s hot, and when it’s not hot, it’s raining. I think this is what people mean when they talk about the dog days of summer. As for me, I’m low on ideas and short on inspiration, and I’ve got the attention span of a goldfish. The other day I started skipping around the archives at ARSA and found some worthwhile nuggets of trivia to get us into the weekend. Let’s take five of them and call it a post.
WCUE, Akron, OH, July 22, 1978: At Number 28, up from 31, it’s “AM” by Steely Dan. That’s not a typo. I recall reading someplace that a few AM stations, not wanting to promote the competing band, edited in an “a” from some other Donald Fagen vocal to change “FM” to “AM.” If you know more about this, hit us up in the comments and help a brother out.
WBBM-FM, Chicago, July 21, 1973: “Monster Mash” hits Number One. Bobby “Boris” Pickett, who originally recorded the song in 1962, claimed that a radio DJ somewhere in the Midwest played the record on his show one night as an oldie and the phones went berserk. The jock suggested to a friend at a record label that “Monster Mash” was ripe for re-release, and it became not merely the Top 40 rage of the summer of 1973, but one of the decade’s quintessentially weird musical moments. You could understand “Monster Mash” becoming a Top-Ten hit once more if it were in October. But for an obvious Halloween hit to strike in July is just odd.
WRIT, Milwaukee, July 24, 1959: But not unprecedentedly odd. Debuting at Number 34 on this chart (three weeks before it first bubbled under in Billboard) is “The Mummy” by Bob McFadden and Dor. McFadden was a voiceover artist, later to become famous for providing the voice of Milton the Monster on the mid-60s kids’ show, and the voice of Franken Berry in cereal commercials. Dor was future doggerel poet Rod McKuen. According to Wikipedia, McKuen claimed that Bill Haley and the Comets were the band backing him and McFadden on “The Mummy,” but “this has not been confirmed.” I’m guessing it’s not Haley and the Comets on “The Mummy.” They would have been a well-known commodity in 1959, albeit a few years removed from their greatest success. If they’d appeared on “The Mummy,” they likely wouldn’t have done so anonymously. A Comet or two, maybe, but not all of ’em.
B97, New Orleans, July 22, 1980: “Bomb Iran” by Vince Vance and the Valiants moves to Number 5 from Number 10. Vance and the Valiants were a popular New Orleans party band, and they claim that “Bomb Iran” was the most requested song in the country during the summer of 1980. It’s a dashed-off parody of “Barbara Ann” that’s not especially funny, although its popularity during that frustrated, hostage-crisis summer was understandable. The group’s website also calls it a “number-one hit,” which it might have been in a market or two, although this is the song’s only appearance at ARSA. It bubbled under the Hot 100, spending three straight weeks at Number 101 in November 1980.
WRKO, Boston, July 20, 1979: “Hey St. Peter” by Flash and the Pan moves to Number 14 from Number 17, becoming a modest hit in the States two years after its first appearance in Australia. I got an e-mail the other day from longtime reader Miles, who wrote of landing one of the singles on his “most wanted” list recently, and what a rush it is to snare what he calls “a long-lost tune from your past.” Indeed it is, and it’s what I felt when I landed a copy of “Hey St. Peter” a few years back after going nearly 25 years without hearing it.
How about it, crate-diggers and music obsessives? In the comments, tell us about a favorite find of yours.