The Rock Will Cure Your Ills, Mon

With this installment, we’ll wrap up the one-hit wonders who peaked at Number 91 on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1986. This bit is, as usual, loaded with both forgettable dreck and forgotten gems. And a few familiar names, too.

“Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto”/Philadelphia International All-Stars (8/27/77, four weeks on chart). Long before Band Aid or Live Aid or USA for Africa, the roster of artists at Philadelphia International put their star power together and made a charity single, attempting to give back to the community that had helped make them stars. The single “Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto” features Lou Rawls, Billy Paul, Teddy Pendergrass, Archie Bell, Dee Dee Sharp, a couple of O’Jays, and MFSB; it hit Number Four on the R&B chart. An album of the same name, made up of previously unreleased Philadelphia International tracks, spent nine weeks on the chart that summer. The heyday of Philadelphia soul was nearly over by the summer of 1977, swamped by disco—a fate that is audible on “Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto.”

“When You Feel Love”/Bob McGilpin (9/30/78, five weeks). McGilpin had several hits on the dance charts in the late 70s and early 80s, but “When You Feel Love” was his only record to crack the Hot 100. He’s based in Nashville now, and is a producer and sound engineer. YouTube DJ Music Mike has more.

“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”/The Blend (12/16/78, five weeks). They were from Maine, they once opened for ZZ Top, and they made a couple of albums in the late 70s. “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” is a cover of the Supremes/Temptations hit of 1970. And if you’re looking for much more about ’em, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

“Shoot Me (With Your Love)”/Tasha Thomas (2/10/79, five weeks). Allmusic.com, and many other music sites cutting and pasting from Allmusic.com, say Tasha was from a place called Jeutyn, Alaska, except there doesn’t seem to be any such place. It would be interesting if such a person were from Alaska, given the arc of her career: backup singer on records by Stevie Wonder, B. B. King, Grover Washington Jr., Diana Ross, Carly Simon, and even Edgar Winter and KISS, plus a role in the original Broadway production of The Wiz. “Shoot Me (With Your Love)” was one of a number of dance-floor hits she scored at the end of the 1970s; she died in 1984 at age 33.

“Lazy Eyes”/TMG (3/10/79, four weeks). Ted Mulry recorded solo in Australia in the early 70s, but it wasn’t until he formed TMG—short for Ted Mulry Gang—that he became a star down there. TMG scored nine straight hits between 1974 and 1978, and were considered one of the hardest-working bands in Oz, touring constantly. “Lazy Eyes” was one of their last singles. It’s a gently rockin’ tune that, if it had come ashore in the States during any season but the disco-drenched spring of 1979, might have charted higher.

“I Do the Rock”/Tim Curry (11/17/79, three weeks). Curry is, of course, Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and he made three albums between 1978 and 1981. “I Do the Rock” is delivered in an odd Caribbean accent, and madly name-checks a boatload of disco-era celebrities from gossip maven Rona Barrett to California governor Jerry Brown. It’s damn catchy, though.

“Only the Lonely (Have a Reason to Be Sad)”/La Flavour (6/21/80, two weeks). We have mentioned a lot of groups from Ohio in this series, and here’s another. They formed in 1967 as an R&B showband and worked under several names. Their debut album, as La Flavour, was mostly written and produced by Mark Avsec, who had been in Wild Cherry, played with Donnie Iris, and was mentioned in this feature as a member of Breathless back at Number 92.

“Take Away”/Big Ric (9/10/83, three weeks). Interesting pedigree on these guys: three of them were members of Barry Manilow’s band, and two of them would later record smooth jazz under the name Uncle Festive. “Take Away,” which sounds a bit like decaffeinated Loverboy, is clearly a product of its times—you can tell from the first synthesized drum kick.

“Dancin’ in My Sleep”/Secret Ties (12/27/86, five weeks). Latin-flavored pop from San Diego. Big in clubs. Some nice rhythm guitar, but nothing else very special about it. (Listen here.)

And so we arrive at the end of the 91s. I expect I’ll do the 90s to round things off nicely, but I’ve got some other ideas involving the bottom of the chart that I’d like to explore, so we’ll see. For the whole series from the 100s through the 91s, click here.

“Take Away”/Big Ric (out of print)

3 responses

  1. In 1979 our local powerhouse AOR station WWCT 106 put away their Styx, REO and Foreigner and actually played the Tim Curry tune (as well as Nick Lowe, the Fabulous Poodles and Flash and the Pan). Their switchboard probably blew up but not the way they would have liked it to.

  2. I always thought Curry was taking the mickey out of Bryan Ferry with that vocal style. Of course, had I heard the song as a youth in the hicks, I wouldn’t have had the savvy to make that assumption. Neither (evidently) did most Americans at the time, hence the sputter-out at 91. I have a promotional 12″ of “I Do the Rock”, but it’s not extended.

    Looks like the Ted Mulry catalog is universally out of print, which is a pity. I can tell that “Lazy Eyes” (or at least the segments I can easily recall) is going to be an earworm for the rest of the week.

  3. I say it again and again – I need to do a post of Tim Curry. Such a unique voice and he adds so much power to ‘SOS’ and ‘Paradise Garage’. It’s a treat to listen to them a few times and realize the beauty he instills. Nice post my friend!

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