Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29, 1976

February 29th, 1976

Our Bi-Centennial Year was a Leap Year, too, as America celebrated its 200th Birthday!

 (click to enlarge)

Here were the Top Ten Songs on this date, 1976:

10. Fanny - The Bee Gees
The Brothers Gibb were still milking the success of their comeback album "Main Course" when "Fanny" became the THIRD straight single from this LP to crack The Top Ten.  (The Bee Gees hadn't had a Top Ten Record in four years ... and they literally reinvented themselves on this disk ... for better or worse, depending on your point of view!)
"Jive Talkin'" came first ... and it went all the way to #1.  Then came "Nights On Broadway", which climbed to #4 on the charts.  The Disco Era had officially begun!)
"Fanny" ultimately peaked at #7 ... and remains one of our all-time favorite Bee Gees ballads

9. Love Hurts - Nazareth: 
A GREAT remake of the Everly Brothers / Roy Orbison tune. I first heard this song performed by a bar band down in Daytona Beach, Florida on Spring Break in early 1976 ... and they did a note-for-note, letter-perfect version. (In hindsight, for all I know, it could have BEEN Nazareth!!!  It was THAT good!) "Love Hurts" would turn out to be Nazareth's One Hit Wonder, ultimately peaking at #8. 
DIDJAKNOW?: Nazareth were from Scotland and they took their name from the first line of the classic Band hit "The Weight"!  ("I pulled into Nazareth ... ") (For those of you keeping score, that makes TWO Frannie favorites in a row!!!  Take a load off, Frannie!!!)

8. Lonely Night (Angel Face) - The Captain and Tennille: 
After the HUGE success of "Love Will Keep Us Together" the year before, The Captain and Tennille went back to the Neil Sedaka songbook one more time for this one. Although nowhere near as big a hit, it DID top the Cash Box chart, and really does fall into the Forgotten Hits category ... you rarely EVER hear this one on the radio anymore.
Neil Sedaka's big '70's comeback was orchestrated by Elton John, who signed him to his Rocket Records label. "Sedaka's Back" became a best-selling album in 1975 and that's where Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille found "Love Will Keep Us Together), which, in their hands, went on to become the biggest pop hit of 1975. (To their credit, they did some pretty incredible arranging ... Sedaka's original version is pretty limp and, to my ears, showed absolutely NO hit potential.) Listen closely and you can even hear Toni Tennille sing "Sedaka's Back" during the fade-out at the end of the record. 
Sedaka's follow-up album, "The Hungry Years", did even better on the charts and it's from THIS LP that The Captain and Tennille took "Lonely Night (Angel Face)".  Dragon was a keyboard player for The Beach Boys in the early '70's (and Toni Tennille was perhaps the first female Beach Boy when she joined the group as a background vocalist!) In fact, it was Beach Boy Mike Love who dubbed Daryl "The Captain" in the first place because of all the hats he used to wear on stage. They went on to have nine Top 40 Hits in the '70's and even had their own TV show for a while.  We recently saluted them on their 38th wedding anniversary which just happens to be Valentine's Day!!!

7. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover - Paul Simon: 
OK, tell the truth ... did anybody out there actually COUNT them?!?!? I've never been convinced that Paul Simon really told us all fifty ways! "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" became Paul Simon's FIFTH Top Ten Hit after splitting with his 1960's singing partner Art Garfunkel ... and it topped the charts just a couple of weeks earlier.

6.  Dream Weaver - Gary Wright:
Gary would eventually top the charts with his first solo hit after years of studio session work (and fronting the rock group Spooky Tooth).  The song still sounds good, be it Leap Year or any OTHER year ... and it still gets a fair amount of airplay on the oldies stations, the classic rock stations and the easy listening stations.  (Now that's what I call and across-the-boards hit record!)  His follow up release, "Love Is Alive" is another classic ... it peaked at #2 just a few months later! 

5. Take It To The Limit - The Eagles: 
When we first published this chart back in 2008, I kicked this off by saying:  
First off, let me say that I am a HUGE Eagles fan (although this is NOT one of my favorite Eagles songs.) However, I find it necessary to right a wrong that's been going on for these last several rounds of Eagles "Farewell Tour" performances. "Take It To The Limit" was written by then-Eagles bassist Randy Meisner.  (Prior to joining The Eagles, Meisner had been around the musical block a few times ... he was an original member of Poco as well as part of Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band.)  As such, this makes Randy one of the Fore-Fathers of Country / Rock.  
When he presented "Take it To The Limit" to The Eagles for recording consideration, they loved the song. All of their previous hit singles had been written and / or sung by leaders Glenn Frey and Don Henley ... so it was quite an achievement when Meisner's "Take It To The Limit" was chosen to be released as a single.  (I can only imagine a George Harrison-like moment when "Something" was determined to be the strongest track from The Beatles' new "Abbey Road" album!)
According to stories that Meisner has told since, Frey and Henley reportedly changed two words of Randy's lyrics ... and then insisted on  song co-writing credit. Furious, Meisner agreed for fear that his song wouldn't be recorded otherwise. (He eventually re-recorded it as a solo artist and changed those two words back!!!) For years after Meisner left the band, The Eagles would not perform this song live in concert, even though the record went on to become the band's very first gold single ... and was one of their most popular tunes. 
When I saw the Eagles perform in 2008, it was back in the line-up. Glenn Frey got a big laugh when he told the audience that while we're all out here enjoying what we believe will be one of The Eagles' final performances ever, their managers are actually backstage planning Eagles Reunion Tour VII.  (Not much of a joke in hindsight ... they've toured virtually non-stop ever since ... and have even recorded a brand new album together!)
When he announced "Take It To The Limit" in concert, (which HE now sings, by the way), he described it as "a song we wrote with Randy Meisner", implying more than a passing credit as to the origins of the song ... and, knowing the whole story behind these circumstances, this more than rubbed me the wrong way.  However, since then, Frey has acknowledged in the most recent "Eagles' Greatest Hits" CD Package that  "Take It To The Limit" was The Eagles' VERY first Gold Single. Although they had had #1 Records earlier in their career, NONE of them had actually sold a million copies. 
Now, in all fairness, The Eagles were probably better known as an ALBUM band than as a singles band ... but he goes on to state "on the record" that he is VERY proud of Randy Meisner for delivering The Eagles' VERY first Gold Single!!!) 
Thanks, Glenn ... I feel SO much better now!!!  (lol) 

4. December, 1963 - The Four Seasons: 
The Four Seasons scored one of the biggest comebacks ever seen on the pop charts ... after not placing a song in Top 10 since 1967, they came back strong with the back-to-back hits "Who Loves You" (#3) and "December, 1963" (#1) in 1975-76. And, as we've mentioned SO many times these past few years, their music is hotter than ever thanks to the success of "Jersey Boys"!!!  They've reached a whole new audience with one of the best (and most successful) stage shows in ages.  It is literally playing all over the world, insuring the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons will live on forever!

3. Theme From S.W.A.T. - The Rhythm Heritage: 
At the time of this original series back on LEAP YEAR, 2004, we were bemoaning the fact that so many TV shows were being made into camped-up movies.  At the time, it had just been announced that Starksy and Hutch were going to be the next victims!  Then, in 2008, word came that "S.W.A.T." and "The A-Team" were going to be given big screen make-overs.  Failure upon failure upon failure at the box office hasn't seemed to deter Hollywood at all ... heaven forbid somebody should actually come up with a NEW idea or plot line!!!
Now, on the one hand, hearing "new" versions of "The Theme from S.W.A.T." and "Shaft" and "Mission Impossible" aren't all bad things ... a whole new generation of music fans are now discovering this "brand-new music" for themselves!  (Otherwise, it may have just slipped through the cracks like so many other great hits from this era.)  The Rhythm Heritage topped the charts with their funky "Theme from S.W.A.T." back in 1976 ... and then later that year they hit The Top 20 once again with the theme from the TV Show BARETTA.
2. All By Myself - Eric Carmen: 
We told you once before that Eric Carmen had to re-record his vocal on this #1 Hit SEVEN TIMES because everyone connected with the record felt that he sounded too much like Paul McCartney!  After placing five hits in The Top 40 with The Raspberries, Carmen didn't miss a beat with his solo career ... "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again", "Sunrise", "She Did It", "Change Of Heart", "I Wanna Hear it From Your Lips", "Hungry Eyes" and "Make Me Lose Control" all followed "All By Myself" into The Top 40. 

***1***  - Love Machine - The Miracles: 
NOBODY thought that The Miracles would survive after the departure of Smokey Robinson ... boy, were WE wrong!!! "Love Machine" topped the pop chart in 1976 ... something Smokey himself wouldn't do for nearly four more years!!! (In fact, you'll find out just HOW he did it in our 1980 LEAP YEAR Countdown ... which is coming up next ... so stay tuned!!!)