It should surprise exactly nobody that after last week’s dip into the summer of 1976, I found myself back in the pool this week. I have been looking at the bottom of the Billboard chart dated June 26, and I notice that even though summer has barely begun, several records that will become indelible artifacts of the fall are already in their second week on the chart, including “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry (#92) and “Wham Bam (Shang-a-Lang)” by Silver (#86). “Who’d She Coo?” by the Ohio Players is in its first week on at #81.
There’s some interesting stuff bubbling under the Hot 100. Denise LaSalle’s “Married But Not to Each Other” sat at #102, next to Leon Haywood’s “Strokin’ (Part 2)” at #103, which is an oddly pleasing juxtaposition. The LaSalle record is fine Southern soul; Haywood’s song, which is not the one Clarence Carter made famous, is serious summertime get-down music. A record called “A Butterfly for Bucky” by Bobby Goldsboro was bubbling under at #106. I had never heard this record, but my Spidey sense had me guessing it would be sappy sentimental glop, and Spidey always wins. Also bubbling under: Starcastle’s “Lady of the Lake,” about which we are completely nuts around here, and which is cranking at high volume as I write.
One other thing about that June 26 chart: hanging on at #98, down from #95 the week before, is “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)” by the Four Seasons, in its 27th week on the Hot 100. It had debuted on the chart dated December 27, 1975.
The next week’s Hot 100, dated July 3, includes the debuts of some more autumn essentials: “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs, Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me,” Cliff Richard’s “Devil Woman,” and “I Never Cry” by Alice Cooper. Also debuting on the chart dated July 3, 1976: “Don’t Touch Me There” by the Tubes. The band had first gained notoriety with “White Punks on Dope” from their self-titled 1975 debut album. In addition to “Don’t Touch Me There,” which is scandalous by 1976 radio standards, the album Young and Rich also features a song of ever-increasing topicality as the calendar pages flipped—“Slipped My Disco.”
The most significant debut on the July 3 chart is “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee. It would take less than a month to reach Number One and stay there for four weeks, longer than any other Elton John single. It’s a perfect fit with the rest of the radio hits of both the summer and the fall, but it seems tossed off in a way Elton’s preceding singles do not. Similarly, Elton’s work following “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” seems labored in a way the music preceding it does not. I can’t honestly say if I noticed this at the time, although I do remember that I was not blown away by “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart,” not like I had been blown away by Elton’s past several singles.
The oldest song on the July 3 chart was “Shannon” by Henry Gross, which fell to #51 from #21 in its 19th week on. (It had spent the previous three weeks peaked at #6.) “Shannon” would hang around one more week after that. Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” was at #98, down from #42, in its 18th week and final week on.
The top of the July 3 chart is notable for how little movement it contains. Five of the Top 10 are in the same positions as the week before, and three more are up just one spot, including the lone newcomer to the Top 10, Gary Wright’s “Love Is Alive.” The biggest mover is “Afternoon Delight,” up from 7 to 2 on its way to #1 the following week. With the holiday coming on, perhaps the nation’s radio stations and record stores simply took a moment to pause, and to breathe in the summer.