Now THIS is a radio survey: from WIBG in Philadelphia, dated April 17, 1967, it’s the top 99 records of the week, divided between the Top Fifty and the Future Forty-Nine. That’s a lot of music, and somebody smarter than me with more time to do the research will have to tell the whole class whether WIBG (known then and fondly remembered now as “Wibbage”) really played all 99 of them, and how often.
Beyond the legends at the top—which, given that it’s 1967, are plenty damn legendary—are some fascinating records further down. For example, there’s the marvelous “Nothing Takes the Place of You” by Toussaint McCall, which I’d rank as one of the great soul singles of all time. It stalled in the 50s on the Hot 100 but is at #23 on this chart. But the Future Forty-Nine is what interests us the most. Some will become famous: “My Back Pages,” “Happy Jack,” “Hip Hug Her,” “Creeque Alley,” “Mirage,” and “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” among them. The majority will not, however—and some of them are the sort of oddball records we like around here.
61. “I Want You to Be My Baby”/Ellie Greenwich. Famed as a songwriter with Jeff Barry (many of the great Phil Spector hits, including “Be My Baby,” “And Then He Kissed Me,” “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” “River Deep, Mountain High,” plus songs for others including “Chapel of Love” and “Hanky Panky) and as a producer, Greenwich started her recording career not with one of her own songs but with “I Want You to Be My Baby,” a garage-style version of an old Louis Jordan number that will kick your ass, go around the block and kick all your neighbors’ asses, and then come back to kick your ass again. It would be her only charting single.
82. “Beautiful Girl”/Ed McMahon. Yup, THAT Ed McMahon, tipped in a late April issue of Billboard as the newest artist on the Philadelphia-based Cameo/Parkway label. He made a whole album called And Me . . . I’m Ed McMahon, on which he recorded versions of several well-known songs, including “They Call the Wind Maria,” “Try to Remember,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “Georgy Girl.” I can’t find a lick of it anywhere online, so you’ll just have to imagine how it sounds.
87. “The Beat Goes On”/Lawrence Welk. Welk made an album called Hits of Our Time in 1967, which also includes “Georgy Girl” (a remarkably popular song back then, covered dozens of times), “Somewhere My Love,” “Strangers in the Night,” and “Music to Watch Girls By.” I can’t find Welk’s original recording of “The Beat Goes On” anywhere online, although it is on this tap-dance routine from the Welk show, date unknown. Cheese factor: extremely high.
90. “If I Had a Hammer”/Richard “Groove” Holmes. The late 60s were the golden age of the soul-jazz 45. Holmes charted a couple, most famously “Misty.” Despite the ocean of Hammond B3 jazz in my files, lots of it by Holmes, I don’t have this particular song, and it ain’t online anywhere, either. C’mon, YouTube, you’re letting me down.
96. “Flashback”/The Spokesmen. Best known for recording an answer to Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” called “Dawn of Correction,” the Spokesmen had released several singles on Decca, but “Flashback” was on a little label called Winchester, distributed by Cameo/Parkway. (You want trivia, you got it.) It, too, is sufficiently obscure to have avoided being posted at YouTube.
So it looks to me like the Future Forty-Five is where Wibbage put everything but the kitchen sink in hopes of seeing some of it catch fire. Some of it did. Lots more of it didn’t. Which is probably why we talk about Top 40 radio and not Top 99 radio.