Friday, May 29, 2015

#1 (1970 - 1981)

Picking up our series in 1970, we find our very first "Should Have Been An Across-The-Boards #1 Hit" candidate in May.  That's when Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit In The Sky" reached the top of the charts ... for two weeks ... in both Cash Box And Record World magazines ... yet did NOT hit the top spot in Billboard.  This one has always played as a #1 Record to me ... and its repeated use in film, television and commercials has forever burned it into our dna.  (It did top the chart here in Chicago as well ... both WCFL and WLS ranked it at #1.)    

Next up would have to be "Cecilia", also #1 everywhere but Billboard (including Chicago).  Billboard apparently denied it a #1 berth by giving a second week at #1 to Ray Stevens' "Everything Is Beautiful" instead.   

Two more such occurrences happened in August when Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" and Eric Burdon and War's "Spill The Wine" both reached #1 in both Cash Box and Record World but not in Billboard.  In hindsight, I'd have to say "Spill The Wine" was the more deserving of the two, despite the fact that I have NEVER liked this song.  It just played like a #1 Record.   

Creedence Clearwater Revival never had a #1 Record in Billboard Magazine.  For years they were called The Kings of #2.  This was not the case in Cash Box and Record World, however, where "Proud Mary" and "Bad Moon Rising" both hit #1 in Record World in 1969.  It happened again in 1970 when "Lookin' Out My Back Door" reached the top in both Record World and Cash Box ... but not in Billboard.  All three CCR hits were deserving of this honor.  Billboard denied "Proud Mary" #1 status by charting "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone" and "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe at #1 for four weeks each instead.  "Bad Moon Rising" was eclipsed by a five week run at the top by The Beatles' "Get Back", in hindsight one of their weaker efforts that STILL managed to hold down the #1 spot for five big weeks in both Billboard and Cash Box.  

And finally, "We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters, their follow-up hit to their #1 smash "Close To You", reached the #1 spot everywhere but Billboard.  Big as it was at the time ... and big as THEY were at the time, this one definitely should have earned across-the-boards #1 status. 


"Lonely Days" was a HUGE comeback record for The Bee Gees ... and it reached #1 in both Cash Box and Record World ... but NOT in Billboard ... a HUGE mistake in my opinion.  This record marked a HUGE comeback for The Brothers Gibb and topped the charts all over the country and was deserving of a #1 berth.   

It was followed by "Rose Garden" by Lynn Anderson, a record I feel nowhere near as strongly about, that still managed to capture the top spot in both Cash Box and Record World.  (Billboard charted Tony Orlando and Dawn's "Knock Three Times" at #1 for three weeks instead while The Bee Gees and Lynn Anderson were enjoying #1 status in these other publications.)

Two more back-to-back #1 Hits everywhere but Billboard belong to "She's A Lady" by Tom Jones and "Doesn't Somebody Want To Be Wanted" by The Partridge Family.  Both of these records, based solely on their popularity at the time, were deserving of #1 status.  Ringo Starr accomplished the same feat with his first big solo hit, "It Don't Come Easy".  That record reached #1 everywhere but Billboard, too.  (This one I don't know if I feel quite as strongly about ... great record, yes ... incredible Ringo effort, for sure ... but #1???  I don't think so.) 

A major oversight seems to be John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads", #1 for two weeks in Record World and one week in Cash Box ... but never reaching the summit in Billboard.  While I'm not a big John Denver fan, I believe that this record was deserving of a #1 showing ... and it opened up a huge career for him.  Right behind it came "Spanish Harlem" by Aretha Franklin, #1 for a week in both Cash Box and Record World.  I'm not so sure about this one either.  Billboard had Donny Osmond's "Go Away Little Girl" at #1, the start of a three week run at the top of their pop singles chart.   


Record World had Badfinger's "Day After Day" at #1 for two weeks in February of 1972.  While it's a great record (and one of my all-time faves), it failed to hit the top spot in both Billboard and Cash Box and, as such, I'd have to say probably was NOT deserving of #1 status.  A month later, however, Sonny Geraci and Climax hit #1 everywhere except Billboard ... and that record, big as it was at the time, absolutely deserved its #1 achievement. 

Three records in July alone reached #1 in Cash Box and Record World without hitting #1 in Billboard ... heck, that's most of the month!  First up was Billy Preston's "Outta Space".  Then came "Too Late To Turn Back Now" by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, followed by "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast" by Wayne Newton.  I'm not sure any of those records deserved the #1 spot but we still hear "Too Late To Turn Back Now" nearly every single day.  "Outta Space" was a totally different sounding instrumental to what we'd grown accustomed and Wayne Newton's emotional take on "Daddy Don't You Walk To Fast" will still elicit a tear from time to time ... but I just don't hear ANY of those records as #1's.  "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers topped the Billboard chart for most of July ... and also hit #1 in the other publications.  (This song has not aged well for me, although I really liked it at the time.  In hindsight the pacing seems a little bit off ... it plays as more of a funeral march than a pop hit, forty years later.)

There were several more instances of denied #1's in Billboard before the end of the year.  "I'm Still In Love With You" by Al Green, odd in a way since Record World had NOT ranked his earlier hit that year, "Let's Stay Together", at #1, while Billboard and Cash Box did.  Next came "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress) by The Hollies.  This record had #1 written all over it ... yet Billboard didn't see it that way.  "Everybody Plays The Fool" by The Main Ingredient is a record I feel absolutely deserved to be #1.  (Billboard showed "Ben" by Michael Jackson in the top spot instead.)  

The Moody Blues were also denied a top spot in Billboard for "Nights In White Satin", a record that topped Cash Box for a week and Record World for Two.  Other 1972 records that made it to #1's in two of the three national trade publications (but not Billboard) include "I'll Be Around" by The Spinners and "I'd Love You To Want Me" by Lobo.  There were also a couple of Cash Box only #1's worth mentioning that perhaps deserve attention as worthy #1's ... "Got To Be There" by Michael Jackson, "Rockin' Robin" by Michael Jackson, "Sylvia's Mother" by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, "Nice To Be With You" by Gallery, Back Stabbers" by The O'Jays and Burnin' Love by Elvis Presley.  Of these choices, I'd have to go with the last two as most-deserving of being a #1 Record.  


There were several songs that topped both the Cash Box and Record World charts in 1973 but failed to reach that position in Billboard ... probably the most we've seen thus far in our little expose of what constitutes a #1 Record.    

"Dueling Banjos" by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell (from the "Deliverance" soundtrack), "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" by The Spinners, "Neither One Of Us" by Gladys Knight and the Pips, "Shambala" by Three Dog Night, "Yesterday Once More" by The Carpenters, "Live And Let Die" by Paul McCartney and Wings, "Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder, "Heartbeat, It's A Lovebeat" by The DeFranco Family, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John and "Leave Me Alone" by Helen Reddy ALL hold that distinction.  MOST of these deserve #1 status ... with a slight edge going to "Dueling Banjos" (held out in Billboard by a five week run at the top by "Killing Me Softly With His Song" by Roberta Flack, as opposed to three week runs in both Cash Box and Record World), "Shambala" (held out by Jim Croce's "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" in Billboard), "Live And Let Die" (nudged out by a two-week run of "Brother Louie" by Stories), and (dare I say it) "Heartbeat, It's A Lovebeat", a song I absolutely DETESTED (and still do) ... but cannot deny it's universal popularity, except in Billboard where Eddie Kendricks' "Keep On Truckin'" had a two week run, and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John, kept out of the top spot by The Carpenters' hit "Top Of The World" (one of my least favorite records by them as well.)


"Americans", the spoken word record by Byron MacGregor topped both the Cash Box and Record World charts for a week in February ... but failed to do so in Billboard.  Somehow, I just don't feel that this was a deserving #1 Record, although it did garner quite a bit of media coverage at the time of its release.  "Boogie Down" by Eddie Kendricks also topped the chart in Cash Box and Record World, as did "Dancing Machine" by The Jackson Five, "The Show Must Go On" by Three Dog Night, "You Make Me Feel Brand New" by The Stylistics, "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" by Elton John, "Jazzman" by Carole King and "When Will I See You Again" by The Three Degrees.    

Much as I liked these records, I don't know that "The Show Must Go On" or "Jazzman" deserved #1 status.  "Dancing Machine", "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" and "When Will I See You Again" probably did.   


1975 saw "Boogie On Reggae Woman" by Stevie Wonder, "Jackie Blue" by The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" by Elton John and "Mr. Jaws" by Dickie Goodman top both the Cash Box and Record World charts but fail to do so in Billboard, perhaps the shortest list we've run into so far.  Elton John was hot as can be in 1974 and 1975, so "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" probably deserved #1 status.  So did "Jackie Blue", which we still hear nearly every single day some forty years later.  "Mr. Jaws" was HUGELY popular at the time ... but #1?  I don't think so.  (It peaked at #4 in Billboard ... so it wasn't even close).  However, Randy Price's Super Charts also shows it at #1 when factoring in the combined rankings of the three major trades ... so maybe it did!


In 1976, "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen, "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright, "Lonely Night (Angel Face") by The Captain and Tennille, "Right Back Where We Started From" by Maxine Nightingale and "Get Up And Boogie" by The Silver Connection each spent a week at #1 in both Cash Box and Record World Magazines without ever reaching the top in Billboard.  I might have to go with Billboard's rankings on this one.  Even with the benefit of forty years of hindsight, I don't know that I believe that any of these tunes truly deserved #1 status.  On the other hand the ONLY record to make it to #1 in Billboard and NOT reach the top in the other two publications was "Love Rollercoaster" by The Ohio Players" ... and I didn't particularly care for that one either.  It was HUGE in clubs, however, so I can understand how it would hit #1 ... it just wasn't my cup of tea. (But then again, neither was disco in general!)   


In 1977, not a single record hit #1 in both of the other publications without hitting #1 in Billboard ... first time we've seen THAT!!!  

Billboard #1's that failed to peak that high in Cash Box and Record World include "New Kid In Town" by The Eagles, "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston and "Looks Like We Made It" by Barry Manilow.  If there's a #1 Record that probably deserved an across-the-boards ranking at the top of the charts (but didn't get it), I would have to go with "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac. 


1978 started with Player's hit "Baby Come Back" at #1 in both Billboard and Cash Box ... but NOT in Record World.  ("How Deep Is Your Love" by The Bee Gees, a carry-over #1 hit from 1977, experienced the same fate.  I can't imagine for a moment "How Deep Is Your Love" NOT being a #1 Record!)  That's because Record World charted Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" at #1 for THIRTEEN WEEKS ... replaced by "We Are The Champions" by Queen, a record that failed to hit the top in Billboard or Cash Box.  (I would have to say that ALL of the above mentioned tunes absolutely deserved a #1 ranking). 

There were only 23 #1 Records for all of 1978 ... and NONE of them hit the top spot in both Cash Box and Record World without also doing so in Billboard.  A couple of discrepancies worth mentioning ...  

"Emotion" by Samantha Sang and "Baker Street", both hit #1 in Cash Box only (and were deserving of #1 status in the eyes of all of America) ... while Anne Murray's "You Needed Me", #1 in Billboard and nowhere else, was probably NOT worthy of that honor.   


Only one record again this year that hit the top spot in both Cash Box and Record World despite failing to do so in Billboard Magazine ... and that distinction belongs to "Sail On" by The Commodores. 

#1 in Billboard only:  "Love You Inside Out" by The Bee Gees (worthy) and "Pop Muzik" by M (not).   


"Please Don't Go" kicked off the new decade at #1 in Billboard only ... I don't think it deserved it, especially in light of the competition ("Escape" by Rupert Holmes and "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson).  Kenny Rogers' hit "Coward Of The County" was #1 in both Cash Box and Record World, but failed to climb that high in Billboard.  I don't think it was deserving of Pop #1 Status.  However, somehow Paul McCartney's live version of "Coming Up" only hit the top spot in Billboard ... and stayed there for three weeks.  How this one escaped the #1 position in Cash Box and Record World is beyond me.   


Our final look ... "Being With You" by Smokey Robinson topped both the Cash Box and the Record World charts ... and I feel this was a record worthy of hitting #1.  (It spent three weeks at #2 in Billboard Magazine.)  The only other record to achieve #1 status in both Cash Box and Record World and fail to do so in Billboard was "Theme from 'Greatest American Hero'" by Joey Scarbury.  Honestly, I'm not quite sure HOW I feel about that one!!!  (lol) 

Two singular #1's that absolutely deserved #1 status were "Woman" by John Lennon (#1 for two weeks in Cash Box only) and "Elvira", #1 for a week in Cash Box, catchy as hell and on the radio non-stop in 1981.  It certainly deserved one week on top in all three publications.  (Billboard "peaked" it at #5 and it topped off at #3 in Record World.)   

That's our look back at #1 Discrepancies.  All chart information comes from Joel Whitburn's new "Chart Comparison" book, available through the Record Research website:   

In fact, Joel will be giving away a copy of this book to a lucky Forgotten Hits Reader at random next week.   

Wanna chance to win a free copy?    

Send us your comments on our #1 Series.  We'll let Joel pick the best one and award that person a copy of his great, new book.  (The Chart Comparison Book compares side by side the peak position of EVERY record to hit The Billboard, Cash Box and Music Vendor / Record World charts between 1954 and 1982 ... it's an invaluable source of chart information all in one place at your fingertips.)   

Even if you don't win a copy, you definitely owe it to yourself to purchase a copy via the link above ... EVERY hit record of The AM Radio / Top 40 Era, ranked by each national publication.  It's a MUST HAVE for any collector's library.  (kk)

NOTE:  Forgotten Hits subscribers received a special FRIDAY FLASH edition via email this morning.
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A special encore presentation of The Top 200 #1 Hits of The Beatles Era, 1964 - 1970.  Don't miss it!