Tag Archives: Michael Jackson

T.G.I.F. – Ten More Rocktober Chart Toppers

Since it’s Rocktober, I thought I’d revisit the charts.

A couple of weeks back I revisited the number one songs for the first week in October from 1963-1972, a classic era for AM Radio. Almost without exception those songs are still resonant today. Maybe it’s a result of when you hear music in your life, but when radio formatting became so formulaic and segregated, the impact of chart toppers just died for me. But when every artist fought to climb the same hill…man, that was some list of great songs.

So here are Ten More Rocktober Chart Toppers – the Number One hits from the third week of October during my Wonder Years.

1963 Sugar Shack (Jimmy Gilmer) – An unexpected hit and year-end chart-topper even though it only had one more week at the top than The Singing Nun. Recorded at Norman Perry Studios, just like Buddy Holly.

1964Do Wah Diddy (Manfred Mann) – A Jeff Barry / Ellie Greenwich classic, this was prime Brit Invasion Manfred Mann long before the Earth Band and their Bruce Springsteen covers.

1965Yesterday (The Beatles) – Really just Paul McCartney and a string quartet, of course. Still listed as the most covered song in pop history.

1966Reach Out, I’ll Be There (The Four Tops) – Stone cold classic with a great Levi Stubbs vocal. Michael Jackson (at Berry Gordy‘s request) used a line from it in the 1970 song below.

1967To Sir With Love (Lulu) Another song that wound up as the top single of the year on many charts thanks to the hit movie. Didn’t realize until today that The Mindbenders were the backing band (two of whom would form 10cc not long afterwards).

1968) Hey Jude (The Beatles) – Well, since we covered this last time – it was a nine week run at the top of the charts, you know – let’s highlight the flip side (and a much better song, IMHO) – Revolution. Their only other #1 hit that year was Hello/Goodbye ( the first two weeks of January).

1969I Can’t Get Next To You (The Temptations) – David Ruffin gets a lot of credit but if you ever doubted that Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks were just as good, this song will fix that. .

1970) I’ll Be There (The Jackson 5)  – After three straight bubblegum hits, The Jackson 5 won over a whole new audience with this ballad. Maybe Jermaine Jackson‘s best vocal, ever.

1971) Maggie May (Rod Stewart) – Another song that dominated the charts for the month, but like the Beatles’ single it was a two-sided hit. The flip was his dynamic cover of Tim Hardin‘s Reason To Believe.

1972) My Ding-A-Ling (Chuck Berry) – Sad but true: this was Chuck Berry‘s only #1 hit single. I think you should instead pick up The Great Twenty-Eight, a wonderful collection that gives Chuck his due.


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T.G.I.F. – Ten Rocktober Chart Toppers

Since it’s Rocktober, I thought I’d revisit the charts.

When I was growing up in New York City, the local stations made a big deal about their weekly countdowns, and every week music fanatics (like me) were glued to the radio, ready to jot them down as they were played and guess which songs finished where. Forget Dick Clark and Casey Kasem, in NYC it was all about WABC and WMCA. At the end of the year they’d do their annual countdown and even mail you the final list if you sent in an envelope. Somewhere in a dusty attic box, I still have a few that I treasured as a kid.

I guarantee that when pop culture historians look at the tail end of the 1960s, they will rate that period as important to music history as the Industrial Revolution was to Western Civilization. Living through it was amazing. But even looking back on how the charts morphed over a decade, it’s obvious that a seismic shift had occurred.

So this week I give you Ten Rocktober Chart Toppers – the Number One hits from the first week of October. It’s only going to get stranger each Friday.

1963) Blue Velvet (Bobby Vinton) – The early 60s was crooner heaven, as well as a haven for single-named teen idols. Four lads from Liverpool changed all that the year prior, but you don’t build Rome in a day. I can’t listen to this song anymore without picturing Dennis Hopper.

1964) Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison) – I still can’t believe that voice came out of that head. Orbison’s growl on the bridge just made a cool song even cooler – even Van Halen couldn’t ruin this gem.

1965) Hang On Sloopy (The McCoys) – The Ohio State National Anthem, this garage rock chestnut featured a teenage Rick Derringer and still sounds great. A very underappreciated band who cut some great pop sides and then morphed into Johnny Winter’s best band. (This rare version has the extra verse)

1966) Cherish (The Association) – Not quite rock, I know, but you must have that slow grind song for the prom, and this was it – plus it covered the pain of unrequited love! And if you want to punish this great vocal group for being wimpy, you have to give them props for “Along Came Mary”.

1967) The Letter (The Box Tops) – Teenage Alex Chilton hooked up with Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham and cut one of the gruffest, blusiest vocals ever recorded. Absolute killer stuff, in and out in under two minutes and always sounds fresh when you hear it.

1968) Hey Jude (The Beatles) – Beginning its nine week run atop the charts, an instant sing-along classic and one of the longest tracks in chart history. Whatever happened to those guys?

1969) Sugar Sugar (The Archies) – If he could make a gazillion dollars with four actors, how much could Don Kirschner make from four cartoon characters who wouldn’t insist on playing their own instruments? This was the song that dethroned “Honky Tonk Women”…I am not making that up.

1970) Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Diana Ross) – Motown ruled the charts in the 60s but this version pales in comparison to the 1967 version by the great Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – a hit three years earlier.

1971) Maggie May (Rod Stewart) – Single and album simultaneously blew up and made rooster head a star. For a couple of years he and The Faces made the best music on Earth and then Rod followed the money, which he is still doing forty years later.

1972) Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me (Mac Davis) – And you wonder why people said “rock is dead”? Other 1972 chart toppers included “Candy Man” from Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson’s turgid “Ben” and Melanie’s screeching “Brand New Key”. The year was so lame that Gilbert O’Sullivan’s nasal “Alone Again Naturally” spent four weeks at the top, lost its place and then floated up again like a dead fish for two more.

Thankfully, album rock was there to save the day.

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R.I.P. Tommy Hoehn

This is turning into a depressing weekend.

I was so startled by the loss of Pete Quaife yesterday that I didn’t even realize it was Friday and therefore time for my weekly TGIF feature. By the time it dawned on me, I didn’t really care to go back and rectify the oversight; I spent a few hours last night reading tributes and thoughts from other Kinks fans who were also saddened by his passing.

Now just a day later, more bad news. Memphis takes another kick in the nuts with the loss of Tommy Hoehn who died late Thursday night. You might not recognize his name right off the bat, but he was an integral part of the powerpop scene in Memphis and a contemporary of Big Star and other Ardent Studios artists who were plowing a different field than corporate radio in the 1970s.

Memphis is still reeling from the loss of Alex Chilton in March; now this. Besides the obvious thoughts and prayers to friends and family, my heart goes out to John Fry, Jody Stephens, Van Duren and other musicians and associates who knew and worked with Tommy for so many years.

Back in the day, it was Creem Magazine that first tipped me to Big Star and I wanted to gobble up as much of that type of music as I could find. During that expedition I discovered Losing You To Sleep, Tommy’s second album. It was on London Records and sure, with his beard and opened white shirt, he looked more like J. D. Souther or Andrew Gold than your typical powerpopper. But “Hey Polarity” and the title song knocked me out, and another track (“She Might Look My Way”) was a Chilton co-write. 

Hoehn had his hand in the jelly jar for Sister Lovers and also did some work with The Scruffs, but he slid to the melodic Paul McCartney and Emitt Rhodes side of the fence more than he did the crunchy sound of The Raspberries or Badfinger. Reportedly his musical hero was Todd Rundgren, but listening to his beautiful melodies and delicate style, you realize that his doppelgänger might have been his friend from Big Star,  Chris Bell.

Coincidentally, another album I picked up at that time was Are You Serious by Van Duren; Van would later record with Tommy as the Hoehn-Duren Band during the powerpop rebirth of the 90s,  releasing Hailstone Holiday and Blue OrangeNothing disappears on the Internet, so I can give you this link from an eleven year old blog post that sums up how they got back together after years apart. (Van has a new album out, but more about that very soon.)

The anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death is sucking all the oxygen out of the atmosphere this weekend and no doubt both Quaife and Hoehn are getting lost in the shuffle. Maybe that’s par for the course, since both were underrated and undervalued in the commercial scheme of things. But for those of us who get it, these are sad and painful goodbyes to people who have contributed far more to the music of our lives than Jacko ever could.

R.I.P., Tommy. Ironically, we’re losing you to sleep.

Scott Homewood’s 2007 essay on Tommy from Lost In The Grooves

Amy Nyman’s 2007 blog post about that Memphis scene.

Ardent Studios

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Paul Is Dead…Again?

Turn Me On, Dead Man…

Finally, so many things become clear. Wimpy duets with Michael Jackson. “Freedom“. Give My Regards To Broad Street. It wasn’t really him after all. The Last Testament Of George Harrison will make that clear.

From the press release: Until now, the “Paul is Dead” mystery that exploded worldwide in 1969 was considered a hoax. However, in this film, George Harrison reveals a secret Beatles history, chronicling McCartney’s fatal accident, the cover up, dozens of unknown clues, and a dangerous cat and mouse game with “Maxwell,” the Beatles’ MI5 handler, as John Lennon became increasingly reckless with the secret.  Harrison also insists that Lennon was assassinated in 1980 after he threatened to finally expose “Paul McCartney” as an imposter!

I remember writing a paper on this for school, where meticulous clues were organized, validated and dissected. Many of them can be found here and here. Some were very clever, like the visual clues on Magical Mystery Tour; no doubt this gave the pranking band members a great laugh. Some were simply absurd, like the Life Magazine cover. (Open the front cover page and hold it to the light and the image of a car is across Paul’s chest. Of course, the fact that a car ad was on the inside cover was completely coincidental…)

Who Buried Paul?

The imposter, if I remember correctly, was Canadian. Which means South Park was really, really late with this. In any case, fact or fiction, this is going to be really entertaining. The DVD will be released in the US this September.

Video: Clues Galore.

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Celebretards

Don't worry - they can't read it

Don't worry - they can't read it

BEATING A DEAD HORSE…So let me get this straight. An album that comes out in 2003, and is itself a compilation of music even older than that, somehow can get nominated for Album of the Year? And an artist who hasn’t released a new piece of music in years and even dies midway through the year is a nominee for Entertainer of the Year? Entertained how? By continuing to provide creepy tabloid fodder? Does no one understand the concept of rest in peace? Bad enough Elvis is buried in his backyard like a house pet, now we gotta ghoul it up again with his sorta son-in-law? (I think I just puked in my mouth a little…) That’s what happens when an award is based on album sales. Maybe Dark Side of the Moon will win next year.

CHEATING, UH OF COURSE…And before you tell me that this award-nominated album – unreleased as of yet, mind you – contains new songs, it only took a day to debunk that charade. And not only were these tracks older material, the choice for first single “This Is It” was issued without credit to the real songwriter. “We just found it in a box” said the label chairperson. (I will resist the obvious joke here). So pants down, that loveable family said “oops” and decided to pay the guy fifty percent of the royalties. Wonder if that admission would have come out if it wasn’t someone as famous as Paul Anka? Nice work, Sony.

TWEETING, A DEAD FORCE?…And oh, what will I do without the constant barrage of inanity from Miley Cyrus and Kate Moss and Courtney Love and all of those nameless skanks from reality shows? Probably the same things I’m doing now, since I don’t let my life get disrupted by the most inane fad since the Pet Rock. At least the Pet Rock just sat there and left you alone instead of constantly pebbling “I feel solid right now” or “I’m still here where you left me”. Stop abusing the technology, people. And if your undeserved fifteen minutes is up…go away! Like Darren Frost says, make your millions and then get lost. (<— hilarious, but not for the workplace.)

Pet Rock

Ah, I feel better. Sorry for the purge, but it’s hard to try to check in with the entertainment world and not feel the immediate need to bathe and use mental floss. Amazing that stuff like that is getting millions of hits while the insurance industry and the government are about to screw up health care in America again and we just sit by and watch. (Sorry…I promised this was a politics free zone.)

Finally – and sadly – a blue cheer and salute for the late Dickie Peterson, the heart and soul of Blue Cheer. The band survived off and on over the years but never recaptured the fire that started with their cover of “Summertime Blues” in the 60s. Still they recently tossed a couple of interesting platters our way and even made ears bleed in a small club in my town. So the next time you hear thunder from above, it might be a bass player.

Dickie Peterson and Blue Cheer wiki

Thundah!

Blue Cheer

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Two Sides To Every Con

No longer seeing things clearly.

No longer seeing things clearly.

There’s been a ton of press this year about Phil Spector’s conviction and Michael Jackson’s death, and like many of you I have probably plowed through too much of it. Frankly, I’m almost numb to the overkill, and that includes my own screeds on the two pop legends. Both contributed much to the entertainment world, but as people, Jacko and Phil apparently were first-class nutjobs.

But when perusing one of the magazines I write for, I can across two features that somehow view the celebrity behavior issue from a similar angle as well as a polar opposite one. I found both pieces well-written and thought-provoking, although frankly I don’t want to be provoked into discussing either person any more than I have to.

So I figure if you stop here a lot and enjoy my writing, you might enjoy these pieces as well…

The Ultimate Price

King of Hype

(Do Not!) Smell The Glove

(Do Not!) Smell The Glove

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T.G.I.F. – Mashup!

Puree and Easy

Puree and Easy

Mashup!

Sure, sometimes it comes out like a mess, but often it’s inspired. Here is a ten-spot plus a bonus round – enjoy!

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Every Car You Chase

Smells Like Billy Jean

We Will Rock And Roll You In Beverly Hills

Madonna For Nothing

We Will Rock Your Mama

Do You Believe We Will Shake You All Night Long?

Owner Of A Lonely Bad

Toxic Love Shack

Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit Up

Take Me Out For A Milkshake

Hey We Will Rock Ya

clap fly

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