We Love the 90s

We continue here with our survey of the one-hit wonders to peak on the Billboard Hot 100 at Number 90, another part of the Down in the Bottom series, which has been going on for over a year now. If I’d persevered at any one of my various careers like I’ve persevered at this, I might have become a success at something.

“2001: A Space Odyssey”/Berlin Philharmonic (1/24/70, four weeks on chart). This version of the famous theme from the famous movie is apparently the version that appeared on the official soundtrack album. It is not, apparently, the version that appeared in the film itself. The version in the film was by the Vienna Philharmonic, and permission was given to include it provided that the orchestra not be credited. When a soundtrack album was released, a version by the Berlin Philharmonic was used. Recent reissues of the official movie soundtrack have restored the Vienna Philharmonic version. I think. Some of this stuff ain’t easy to track down.

“Mill Valley”/Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point School 3rd Grade Class (8/15/70, three weeks). I blogged about this one last week because I had more to say about it than would fit here. Sue me, or better yet, go read the post.

“Questions”/Bang (5/27/72, six weeks). A trio from Philadelphia claiming inspiration from Black Sabbath and Grand Funk, then-unknown Bang crashed a show in Orlando on a dare, playing an audition for the promoter around noontime and finding themselves a the bill with Deep Purple and Faces the same night. They later made three albums for Capitol before splitting, although they have reunited in recent years. “Questions” made it to Number 4 on WAMS in Wilmington, Delaware, but if you didn’t hear it where you were, I’m not surprised.

“Summer Sun”/Jamestown Massacre (9/9/72, five weeks). This band was from suburban Chicago, and shared bills with the American Breed, New Colony Six, and Ides of March. In the mid 70s, after they changed their name to Mariah, Jim Peterik of the Ides of March wrote several songs for them; member Dave Bickler joined with Peterik in the original edition of Survivor. “Summer Sun” is a magnificent radio record—hard to imagine it missing in the same season with “Brandy,” “Black and White,” and “Saturday in the Park,” although it would be better with a stronger vocal.

“I Received a Letter”/Delbert & Glen (12/9/72, three weeks). Delbert is Delbert McClinton, who’s already appeared in this feature as a member of the Ron-Dels, back at Number 97. Glen is Glen Clark, with whom McClinton collaborated on two albums in the early 1970s. McClinton covered “I Received a Letter” on his 1979 album Keeper of the Flame.

“On and Off (Part 1)”/Anacostia (1/27/73, four weeks). An R&B trio from Washington, D.C., produced by Van McCoy, Anacostia was popular enough to appear on Soul Train in December 1972. “On and Off” was later covered by David Ruffin and by Peaches and Herb.

“He”/Today’s People (9/29/73, six weeks). In the early 70s, when it became clear that neither dope nor revolution was going to change the world, many kids turned to Jesus. The religious revival of the times reached down to small-town Wisconsin; my parents got into the whole charismatic Christianity bit for a while, and I can remember attending a youth revival or two. “He” is the sort of thing we might have learned to sing at one of ’em, although we’d have taken it at a slower, Sunday-school tempo.

“You’re a Part of Me”/Susan Jacks (3/22/75, five weeks). It was only about a month ago that we discussed Susan Jacks and the Poppy Family; in that post I mentioned a single of hers called “All the Tea in China.” I’m not familiar with this one—but I do know the higher-charting 1978 version by Gene Cotton and Kim Carnes.

“Life and Death in G and A”/Love Child’s Afro Cuban Blues Band (7/26/75, three weeks). This group was a project of Michael Zager, who last appeared on this blog when we were discussing the group Ten Wheel Drive, which he formed with Aram Schiefrin in 1969. “Life and Death in G and A” was written by Sly Stone; Zager would later change the group’s unwieldy name to the Afro Cuban Band.

In our next and final installment of the Number 90s, you may find a couple of familiar names, provided you’re a certain kind of geek. Although I suppose that advisory actually applies to this entire blog.

3 responses

  1. I’ve got “Life and Death in G & A” by the Abaco Dream on A&M that I’m pretty sure came out before the one mentioned above. Web research suggests that opinion is split on whether the Abaco Dream is the Family Stone under an alias or was an outside Sly production project.

  2. I tend to associate the Jesus movement with circa 1971, when there were a bunch of religious tunes on the 40. I would have guessed it had petered out by the fall of ’73, but apparently not.
    (Jesus in Seventies America would be an excellent doctoral thesis for somebody.)

    “Today’s People” sounds like the kind of name a particularly out-of-touch producer might have chosen for a studio group in, oh, 1971 or so.
    By the time their single came out, they were already yesterday’s people.

  3. I was wandering around on YouTube late this summer and came across “Summer Sun” by accident. What a great record (though you’re right about the vocal). I would have loved to have heard that coming out of the speakers as the summer of ’72 waned. (I can do so anytime now; our pal Yah Shure included it on a summer compilation he brought along to our end-of-summer gathering!)

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