Onward we trudge with the list of one-hit wonders whose only Billboard chart hit peaked at Number 91. We will do some rockin’ in this installment, and precious little cringing, for a change.
“Don’t Pat Me on the Back and Call Me Brother”/KaSandra (12/21/68, two weeks on chart). After striking out with my own research, I had to call on the Stepfather of Soul, a longtime friend of this blog, for help on this one. He says that KaSandra was the alter ego of John W. Anderson, who cut several albums of politically conscious/inspirational material in the early 70s for a Stax subsidiary, and was an MC at the Wattstax concert produced by Stax in 1972. Before that, he co-wrote “Ain’t Nothin’ You Can Do,” famously recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland and Van Morrison. “Don’t Pat Me on the Back and Call Me Brother” is a soulful sermon on the need for real brotherhood instead of the fake variety.
“Alright in the City”/Dunn & McCashen (11/7/70, two weeks). In 1969, Don Dunn and Tony McCashen made an album called Mobius that featured Kenny Loggins on guitar and included “Hitchcock Railway,” a song later covered by Joe Cocker, among others, and “Lydia Purple,” which shows up on a few garage-psych compilations today. Their next album, Dunn & McCashen, was, according to an review in the October 24, 1970, edition of Billboard, was “one of the most important albums of the year.” In retrospect, perhaps Billboard got it wrong. The review also said: “‘Alright in the City’ is a heavy, gutsy, progressive rock item.'” (In 1970, “progressive” didn’t mean what it would come to mean in just a few years—spacey and symphonic—it just meant, well, heavy and gutsy.)
“There it Goes Again”/Barbara & the Uniques (1/9/71, three weeks). A trio of Barbara and Gwen Livsey and Doris Lindsey, Barbara and the Uniques cut “There It Goes Again” in Chicago. It was written and produced by Eugene Record, lead singer of the Chi-Lites, and was a fairly significant hit on the R&B chart. Although the trio recorded other material, this was the last thing they did that made much of an impact anywhere.
“Solo”/Billie Sans (9/25/71, four weeks). Here’s another fairly anonymous artist and tune. It was released on the Invictus label owned by Holland/Dozier/Holland, and it must have faked out a few radio stations who expected it to be that label’s brand of soul. In fact, it’s extremely lightweight early 70s radio pop (Billboard called it “an infectious Top 40 bubblegum swinger”), licensed from a producer in Houston. It made Number 14 in Saginaw, Michigan, so Sans had that going for him (him?), which is nice.
“She’s All I Got”/Johnny Paycheck (12/18/71, two weeks). I can’t hear “She’s All I Got” without thinking of my parents playing their favorite country station on the big console stereo in the living room. Johnny Paycheck (given name Donald Lytle) scored 11 Top-Ten country hits between 1966 and 1978; “She’s All I Got” rose to Number Two; the legendary “Take This Job and Shove It” (Nunber One in 1977) was the only one of his songs that did any better.
On the flip, the geek-fest continues, with a couple of mp3s.
“Son of My Father”/Chicory (3/18/72, three weeks). They were known as Chicory Tip in the UK, and their version of “Son of My Father” was a Number-One single over there. In the States, it was far outperformed by Giorgio, whose version reached Number 46—Giorgio Moroder, that is, later to be famed as a producer for Donna Summer. He had recorded the song in Italian originally, but after Chicory got its version out, he recut it in English. In the end, it’s a distinction without a difference—the Chicory and Moroder versions are almost alike, although Moroder’s is better produced.
“Buzzy Brown”/Tim Davis (9/30/72, three weeks). Here’s a guy I should know better, apparently. He was a native of Janesville, Wisconsin, a drummer, and part of the University of Wisconsin circle that included Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs, and Ben Sidran. He joined the Steve Miller Band in 1967 and remained a member until 1970. After that, he released a couple of solo albums, including Pipe Dream in 1972, which included “Buzzy Brown,” a story told in steel guitar, more recited than sung. Davis died in 1988 at age 44.
“Deteriorata”/National Lampoon (11/4/72, four weeks). Possibly the best known of all the Number 91s today, this is the inevitable parody of Les Crane’s “Desiderata,” which had reached the Top 10 late in 1971. The original “Desiderata” was taken from the poster that graced a million dorm rooms and hippie apartments: “You are a child of the universe/You have the right to be here,” etc. With words by Tony Hendra and music by Christopher Guest, “Deteriorata” is performed by Norman Rose, likely a familiar voice due to his lifetime of voiceover work.
“Stop, Wait & Listen”/Circus (3/17/73, four weeks). From the fertile scene in Ohio that produced the James Gang, the Raspberries, and others, Circus won all kinds of popularity polls in Cleveland during the early 70s. They had a glitter-band look, but at one point in the mid 1970s, their repertoire was “about 70 percent Allman Brothers tunes,” according to one member. Their lone album is decent 70s pop-rock, although I don’t think “Stop, Wait & Listen” is anywhere close to the best thing on it; the band’s second single, “Feels So Right,” kills it.
We could call the next installment “Cash-In Theater,” in which pop-culture opportunism repeatedly meets the capitalist impulse, resulting in some of the most craptacular records of the 1970s. So don’t fail not to miss it.