Top 5: Gonna Come Back Around

It’s the first day of October. Regular readers of this pondwater will find today’s post entirely predictable.

Here’s a set of call letters dozens of stations wish they had: WHOT, which have been in Youngstown, Ohio, since 1955, and still are. Those calls are not the only entity associated with Youngstown for a good long time—morning man A. C. McCullough has been on WHOT since at least 1970, and the “A.C. and Kelly” morning show has been on the air since 1989. But we’re interested in the week of September 27, 1976, and five songs from the WHOT Hot 30.

2. “Lowdown”/Boz Scaggs (holding at 2). Still one of the songs that is most evocative to me of the fall of ’76, despite the fact that it first charted in May and first peaked early in September. Just the other night I watched the Saturday Night Live episode from September 25, 1976, on which Boz performed “Lowdown,” and it’s one of the greatest musical performances I’ve ever seen on SNL, but then again, I’m a fan.

14. “I Only Want to Be With You”/Bay City Rollers (up from 18). It’s the eternal fate of bubblegum: to be considered sappy and disposable in its time, and only later to be recognized for its artistry. A long lineage is audible in the Rollers’ mid-70s singles, incorporating Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, the hook-laden singles of Tony Burrows, and a little glam-rock flash. “I Only Want to Be With You” is also highly evocative of its time to me, for reasons having nothing to do with how it sounds.

25. “Nadia’s Theme”/Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin Jr. (debut). Earlier in the summer, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci did something no one had ever done before—at the Montreal Olympics, she scored perfect 10s on the uneven parallel bars. ABC set her performances to music, backing them with a song originally titled “Cotton’s Dream,” which started as a piece of incidental music in a 1971 film, but had been more famously used since 1973 as the theme for the CBS soap The Young and the Restless. On the strength of all this exposure, “Nadia’s Theme” became an off-the-wall Top 10 hit.

28. “It’s OK”/Beach Boys (down from 25). The Beach Boys had their best year in a long time in 1976, and August was their best month of that year. The smash single “Rock and Roll Music” returned them to the Top 10 for the first time since 1966, and their first album of all-new material in three years, 15 Big Ones, produced by Brian Wilson, hit the Top 10 on the album chart. Also in August, they starred in an NBC-TV special called It’s OK with guest stars Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. “It’s OK” is just OK, missing the spark of energy that might lifted it beyond the ordinary.

30. “Cumba Luigi for President”/Paisano Quartet (debut). A Youngstown group recorded on the Tammy label, based in Youngstown, undoubtedly topical given the ongoing Ford/Carter battle for the presidency. Beyond that, however, I know nothing.

Will we return to October 1976 before October 2010 is through? Was Lincoln a car?

“Lowdown” (live)/Boz Scaggs (From a bootleg that’s tagged “Live Silk 1976,” which means it could be from the oft-bootlegged show at the Roxy in West Hollywood on April 7, 1976—but maybe not. From the crowd reaction to “Lowdown,” perhaps this recording is from later in the year, after the song was on the radio. In any case, it captures a vibe similar to the SNL performance.) (buy Boz here)

2 responses

  1. At least “It’s OK” had Roy Wood and one of the other fellas from Wizzard doing the sax and BV’s…

  2. WestBerkeleyFlats | Reply

    Do you ever check out Ben Fong-Torres’s idiosyncratic radio column for the SF Chronicle? Here’s his piece on a fellow Wisconsin farm kid / turned DJ:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/10/03/PKC21FHE1J.DTL&type=entertainment

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