Some Funk of Your Own

(Pictured: Elton John gets his Bicentennial on during a July 1976 performance in Atlanta.)

(Late-night live-blogging of a Casey Kasem rerun from February 14, 1976, at least until I fell asleep on the couch.)

40. “Tangerine”/Salsoul Orchestra. Disco records from 1975 and 1976 have a distinct charm. The beat has yet to become mindless; the R&B/showband roots of the music are still audible. The Salsoul Orchestra was made up of players from MFSB, including Salsoul conductor Vince Montana Jr., so there you go.

36. “Only Sixteen”/Dr. Hook. I always think of a former radio colleague of mine whenever I hear this. He used to sing it thusly: “She was too fat to fall in love / And I was too drunk to know.”

33. “Bohemian Rhapsody”/Queen. I adored this record from the first time I heard it, in the way you do only when you’re 16. I’ve heard it too many times since to care whether I hear it again, but it remains a remarkable feat of creativity and performance.

Between Barry White’s “Let the Music Play” and “Sweet Thing” by Rufus, Casey does a feature on Enrico Caruso’s “Vesta la guibba,” which was the first million-seller back in 1906. It does not bring the funk.

30. “Deep Purple”/Donny & Marie Osmond. I find this weirdly charming, the wheezing chorus of harmonicas, the vigorously whacked drums, and Marie’s dreamy/stoned spoken verse.

Big-ass train wreck to end the first hour: “Junk Food Junkie” by Larry Groce followed by Foghat’s “Slow Ride.”

26. “Tracks of My Tears”/Linda Ronstadt. Casey notes that there are six remakes in the countdown this week. It’s not cool to like this one, but I do, particularly the lovely steel guitar that takes it out.

25. “The White Knight”/Cledus Maggard. The winter of 1976 was the height of the CB craze, and there are two CB records on the show. (“Convoy” is the other one.) “The White Knight” was the #1 country song in the nation this week. Inspirational lyric: “On the list of the ten best things in life / Your CB’s gotta rate right around number four / ‘Course beavers, hot biscuits, and Merle Haggard come one, two, three.”

In 1973, nine female artists or groups with female lead singers (we’re lookin’ at you, Gladys Knight & the Pips) hit #1, an all-time record. I am not particularly compelled by this statistic, but it did break up what would have been another epic train wreck, for #24 is David Bowie’s “Golden Years.”

21. “Lonely Night (Angel Face)”/Captain and Tennille. Casey almost cracks himself up while telling a story about the Captain and Tennille’s wedding, then introduces the song, which I like much better now than I did in 1976. While Toni is unsubtly declaming the lyric, there’s all kinds of interesting stuff going on behind her.

17. “Grow Some Funk of Your Own”/Elton John. Casey says Elton is “headed for another big #1.” No he wasn’t. This was a double-sided hit, backed by “I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford).” I like ’em both, but if they give you the feeling that Elton and Bernie were starting to try a little bit too hard, you’re not alone.

16. “Squeeze Box”/The Who. I am the only person I know who likes this song.

15. “Wake Up Everybody”/Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Nicely introduced by Casey, who talks about how it’s a former #1 soul song and then says, “it’s called . . .” and gets out of the way for Teddy Pendergrass to sing the title line.

14. “All By Myself”/Eric Carmen. I am getting very sleepy, and it’s not just the lateness of the hour. This record seems to take forever to play. Just as Paul McCartney needed John Lennon to cut his most syrupy impulses, Carmen needed the other Raspberriesssszzzzzzzzzzz

The next morning, I looked up the remaining 13 records, which contain some highly pleasurable Top 40 nuggets, including “Evil Woman,” (#10) another definitive example of ELO’s art, and Neil Sedaka’s ballad version of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” (#9) which is the way the song should have been done in the first place. Although Casey introduced the show by saying “there’s a lotta action” on the chart, the top 8 are mostly unchanged from the previous week, and the top 3 are exactly the same: “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate, “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer, and at #1 on Valentine’s Day 1976, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon.

(Rebooted from a post that originally appeared in February 2013.)

2 responses

  1. Just was listening to this show too. When I hear the Cledus Maggard track, I can’t help but (a) laugh, and (b) wonder how much payola pushed this track onto the Top 40.

  2. ’76 was the beginning of the end for Elton John’s heyday. After a GOLDEN ’75 (where he released TWO studio albums that became the first albums in history to enter the charts at #1 – not to mention #1 singles “Lucy in the Sky…”, “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Island Girl”. “Someone Saved…” only got to Top Ten but that was because by the time they released it as a single everybody already had the album.) ’76 saw a bit of backlash creeping in. This January follow up single to “Island Girl” (from the same album) stalled at #14. People were finally starting to get sick of Elton John. It didn’t help that he then released a lackluster single live album that Spring (especially in a year where Peter Frampton proved the public wanted double live albums.) True, he had a huge #1 summer hit with “Don’t Go Breakin’…” – but, after disco-ish “Philadelphia Freedom”, “Don’t Go Breakin'” was the final nail in Elton’s coffin with serious rock critics. The day after the last show of his U.S. Summer tour he sat down with Rolling Stone magazine and finally revealed he was bisexual. I was 13 years old at the time and I can tell you that it was a completely different world in that respect in 1976. The world (or at least America) wasn’t ready for that in ’76. It didn’t help that a month later Elton released a depressing double album filled with songs about Bernie’s divorce from “Tiny Dancer” Maxine. By the end of ’76 the crash & burn was complete.

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