Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Leap Year Countdowns - 1980

Here is our final countdown of the day ...

The Top Ten Hits on February 29th, 1980 ... 

#10. Another Brick In The Wall - Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd isn't the first band you think of when it comes to Top Ten Hit Singles ... but this one (from their album "The Wall") went all the way to #1 ... and stayed their for four weeks.  (Seven years early they hit "13 with "Money" from their landmark album "Dark Side Of The Moon" ... and that's pretty much been it and the Pop Singles Chart. 

#9. Working My Way Back To You / Forgive Me Girl -The Spinners: 
The Spinners started their recording career nearly FIFTY years ago when they were discovered by the legendary Harvey Fuqua of The Moonglows and had their first Top 40 success with his Tri-Phi Records label back in 1961 ("That's What Girls Are Made For", #27).  The Top 40 Hits continued as they moved on to Motown Records ("I'll Always Love You," #35 in 1965) and V.I.P. Records ("It's A Shame," #14 in 1970) before signing with Atlantic Records in 1972, where their unique sound went through the roof. Between 1972 and 1976, The Spinners hit The Top Ten five times on the Pop Charts, with soulful pop classics like "I'll Be Around" (#3 in 1972), "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" (also #4, 1973), "Then Came You" (a #1 Record in 1974, this time recorded with Dionne Warwick ... or do you say "Warwicke," as SHE did on the record label for this tune?), "Games People Play / They Just Can't Stop It" (#5, 1975) and "The Rubberband Man" (#2, 1976.) 
Their medley of the old Four Seasons hit "Working My Way Back To You" (coupled with a brand new piece of music called "Forgive Me Girl") also shot straight up the charts, peaking at #2 early in 1980. The Spinners would try the medley-thing a couple more times ... once, quite successfully (their version of the Sam Cooke classic "Cupid,"  coupled with "I've Loved You For A Long Time," would hit #4 later that year in 1980) ... and once NOT so successfully (they also took The Carpenters' hit "Yesterday Once More" and "medleyed" it with "Nothing Remains The Same," #52 in 1981.) By the way, ALL of these new tunes were written by Michael Zager, who had some chart success of his own in the mid-'70's after leaving Ten Wheel Drive.

#8. Rock With You - Michael Jackson: 
It was a much darker (and a lot less controversial) Michael Jackson that made a remarkable comeback with his "Off The Wall" album in 1979. It revitalized his solo career and spawned FOUR hit singles including this one (which had already hit #1 in January), "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" (also #1 in 1979), the title track, "Off The Wall" (#10) and my personal favorite, "She's Out Of My Life" (also #10). He followed "Off The Wall" with one of the biggest selling albums of all time, "Thriller."
Of course, since our last Leap Year Countdown ran, we've lost Michael Jackson ... yet another senseless death of a musical superstar who had it all in the palm of his gloved hand at one time.  So sad ... but the music lives on (and always will.)

#7. Cruisin' - Smokey Robinson:  
In our 1976 Leap Year Countdown, Smokey's former bandmates, The Miracles, were at the #1 position with their disco hit "Love Machine."  Incredibly, despite being one of the most prolific songwriters, producers and recording acts for Motown Records, Robinson would never enjoy the same honor.  ("Cruisin'" peaked at #4 and "Being With You" stopped at #2 the following year.)  Smokey Robinson and the Miracles also topped the charts together in 1970 with their mega-hit "The Tears Of A Clown."  ("Shop Around" came close, peaking at #2. 
A nice remake of "Cruisin'" by Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow (from the movie "Duets") saturated the airwaves and eventually topped Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart in 2000 (despite never officially making their Hot 100 listing).  

#6. On The Radio - Donna Summer:   
Disco Queen Donna Summer made her chart debut on our 1976 Leap Year Chart with "Love To Love You Baby."  By the time "On The Radio" came along four short years later, she'd already had NINE more Top 40 hits, including the #1 Records "MacArthur Park", "Hot Stuff", "Bad Girls" and her duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears." 

#5. Desire - Andy Gibb:  
Andy Gibb is another one who seemed to have it all when he first broke through on the pop charts back in the late 1970's. He was the youngest brother of The Bee Gees and all nine of his first chart singles were written by his big brother Barry and made The Top 40.  (Six of those made The Top Ten ... and three of THOSE went all the way to #1!)  Soon he was on the cover of every teenage magazine, playing to sell-out crowds all over the world, appearing on Broadway, dating "Dallas" Actress Victoria Principal, and co-hosting the television series "Solid Gold."  Sadly, drink and drugs got the better of him and we lost Andy in 1988. Today's #5 song, "Desire," written by all three of the older Brother Gibb, would be Andy's last Top Ten Hit. 

#4. Longer - Dan Fogelberg: 
Dan Fogelberg already had a couple of Top 40 Hits prior to "Longer"'s release at the end of 1979, but THIS is the one that put him on the map (as well as the song lists of virtually EVERY wedding performer from this point forward!) Despite recording some very interesting and engaging uptempo tunes, Fogelberg was forever branded a wimpy, soft-rock artist after "Longer" soared to #2 in early 1980. (It would remain the biggest hit of his career.) A very clever (and hysterical) parody ... that sounds EXACTLY like Dan Fogelberg singing ... takes pot shots at one of his future hits and reworks it as "Leader Of The Bland!"  Sadly, we lost Dan to cancer in December of 2007, just a few months before our first online Leap Year countdown ran. 

#3. Do That To Me One More Time - The Captain and Tennille: 
Making another appearance on our very special Leap Year Countdowns, we gave you the low-down on The Captain and Tennille in our 1976 edition. "Do That To Me One More Time" would prove to be their LAST big hit ... however, it topped The National Charts earlier this month. 

#2. Yes I'm Ready - Teri DeSario with KC: 
Harry Casey (as the leader of KC and the Sunshine Band) enjoyed one of the most successful disco-era careers in the mid-to-late '70's with HUGE hits like "Get Down Tonight" (#1, 1975), "That's The Way I Like It" (also #1, 1975), "Shake Your Booty" (#1, 1976), "I'm Your Boogie Man" (yet ANOTHER #1 hit, 1977) and "Keep It Comin' Love" (pretty much a chart failure by comparison ... it stopped at #2 later in '77). 
He also scored the very first #1 song of the new decade when his pretty ballad "Please Don't Go" topped the charts on January 5, 1980. Meanwhile, Teri DeSario was trying to hitch a ride on the enormous Bee Gees bandwagon in 1978 when she cut "Ain't Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You," a song written and produced by Barry Gibb.  (It was a very rare Bee Gees flop at the time ... in 1978, NOBODY dominated the charts more than The Brothers Gibb!)  The following year, she was asked to duet with KC on the old Barbara Mason hit "Yes, I'm Ready" and their remake out-performed the original, peaking at #2. (Barbara's original version stopped at #5 in 1965.) 
Both KC and Teri were born in Florida (he in Hialeah, she in Miami) and they grew up as childhood friends. When her first single stopped at #43, she reportedly called KC and asked if there was anything he could do to help. He agreed to produce her follow-up, but then had to convince her to record the remake. Supposedly, on a flight together to Los Angeles, KC got Teri to at least CONSIDER recording the song by singing it with her as a duet on the airplane!  When she saw the positive reaction of the other passengers, she thought it just might have a chance. A follow-up remake of the old Martha and the Vandellas song "Dancing In The Streets" didn't fare as well ... it stopped at #66 ... and Teri DeSario never hit The Hot 100 Pop Chart again!   

#1.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen: 
Somehow it almost seems fitting that the #1 Song from our 1980 Leap Year Countdown would feel just as at home back in 1956 (where this Special Leap Year Countdown first began several hours ago.) 
Freddie Mercury, the driving force behind Queen, HAS to be one of the most under-rated songwriters of our time. This guy could take ANY musical style and adapt it to Queen's sound. His classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" encompasses operatic technique, a beautiful ballad intro and ending, a head-banging (or at least head-bobbing ala "Wayne's World") hard-rock mid-section, some of the most incredible vocal work EVER recorded ... and ties them all together coherently in a musical masterpiece. Queen enjoyed commercial success with pure pop hits like "You're My Best Friend," dramatic love ballads like "Somebody To Love," foot-stomping arena rock like "We Will Rock You" and letter-perfect disco funk with "Another One Bites The Dust" ... EVERY musical style seemed to work for the band! Then, in 1980, Mercury went as far away from type as may be humanly possible and recreated the letter-perfect rock-a-billy sound that first came to light in the earliest days of rock and roll ... yet STILL made it contemporary sounding enough to be a MAJOR hit of the times.

(How sad is it that SIX of our Top Eight artists are no longer with us today as we celebrate their 1980 chart achievements!) 

Thanks to everybody who stuck around all day to watch these Top 10's unveil ... 

We won't see another Leap Year till 2024 ... but I'm sure we'll do something to celebrate then, too!!!

The Leap Year Countdowns: 1976

Here were the Top Ten Songs on this date, 1976 ... our Bi-Centennial Year:

10. You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
Another group that enjoyed greater success back home in England, they still made their mark here in The States as well with three Top Ten Hits"  "Emma," #8, 1975, "Every 1's A Winner," #6, 1979, and this one, their biggest, "You Sexy Thing," which would peak at #3.  (They would have two other Top 40 Hits as well.) 

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.  (Their track "Hair Of The Dog" also did well on our TOP 3333 MOST ESSENTIAL CLASSIC ROCK SONGS OF ALL TIME List last year.)  
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 ... ") 

#8. 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 FOURTH Top Ten Hit after splitting with his 1960's singing partner Art Garfunkel ... and it topped the charts just a couple of weeks earlier.

#7.  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.  (Sadly, Daryl Dragon left us recently, too.) 

#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).  [It peaked at #3 in Billboard.]  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 then even recorded a brand new album together!)
When he announced "Take It To The Limit" in concert, (which HE sang, by the way, in 2008 ... Vince Gill performs the song in concert today after Frey's passing), 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 a new "Eagles' Greatest Hits" CD Package that "Take It To The Limit" was The Eagles' VERY first Gold Single, stating that although they had had #1 Records earlier in their career, NONE of them had actually sold a million copies.  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. 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." the week before ... and then later that year they hit The Top 20 once again with the theme from the TV Show BARETTA.

#3. 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 The 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! 

#2. All By Myself - Eric Carmen:  
We told you once before that Eric Carmen had to re-record his vocal on his first solo hit SEVEN TIMES because everyone connected with the record felt that he sounded too much like Paul McCartney!  (I suppose there are worse insults you could be accused of!)  After placing four 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 was never able to do as a solo artist.  (He came close five years later ... in fact, you'll find out just HOW close he came in our 1980 LEAP YEAR Countdown ... which is coming up next ... so stay tuned!!!)


These were The Top Ten Records in America on February 29th, 1972 ...

#10.  Bang A Gong (Get It On) - T. Rex:
Mark Bolan and T. Rex are being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame this year.  "Bang A Gong" was their only significant hit here in America ... but it was a big one.  (This is actually the week where it peaked at #10.  It would hold that spot for another week.)  Part of the British Glam-Rock movement (some might say the LEADERS of that movement), T. Rex earned twenty Top 40 Hits back home in The U.K., including FOUR #1 Hits.  [This was their second #1, following "Hot Love" (1971)]  They also hit the #2 spot four times ... and had three other Top Ten Hits as well.
#9. Sweet Seasons - Carole King: 
After writing literally hundreds of hit songs for other artists, Carole King released her "Tapestry" album in 1971 and finally enjoyed some MAJOR chart success of her very own. (It was the Album Of The Year in fact ... and remains one of the best-selling and most popular albums of all time!) The follow-up LP, "Music," spawned the hit single "Sweet Seasons" in 1972.

#8. Let's Stay Together - Al Green: 
Four decades before President Barrack Obama crooned it at a political gathering, Al Green scored the BIGGEST Hit of his entire career when "Let's Stay Together" went all the way to #1. Seriously ... has a day EVER gone by since 1972 when you HAVEN'T heard this one on the radio?!?!? Reverend Al hit a universal nerve when he recorded THIS tune. 

#7. Heart Of Gold - Neil Young: 
Neil Young didn't really have a lot of "pop" success as a solo artist ... only three of his solo releases made The Top 40 ... but this one was HUGE ... and it went all the way to #1. The on-again, off-again member of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and sometimes Young) also topped the LP chart with "Harvest," the album from whence this single came! 

#6. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Robert John: 
Although the definitive version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" will always be the one recorded by The Tokens (who took it to #1 in 1961), Robert John didn't do too badly with his 1972 remake ... it peaked at #3!!! 
In fact, he had a little bit of "inside help" on this one ... former Tokens member Hank Medress produced John's version.  Robert John first hit the pop charts back in 1958 under his REAL name, Bobby Pedrick, Jr., when, at the ripe old age of 12, his song "White Bucks And Saddle Shoes" went to #74 on the Billboard Chart. His high falsetto voice was the perfect tool for some other popular remakes after the success of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" ... his version of The Mystics' hit "Hushabye" went to #99 later that same year and, after topping the charts with his biggest hit, an original tune called "Sad Eyes" in 1979, remakes of "Hey There Lonely Girl" (#31, 1980), "Sherry" (#70, 1980) and "Bread And Butter" (#68, 1983) followed.

#5.  Everything I Own - Bread: 
I always thought that this was one of Bread's most beautiful love songs ... then, after seeing them in concert, and learning that David Gates actually wrote the song not about one of the lost loves of his life but rather his father's recent death ... the lyrics take on a whole new, even more powerful meaning in that context. Listen closely to the words the next time you hear this song with that thought in mind ... and I'm sure you'll come away with a whole new feeling about this song. An absolute Bread favorite. 

#4. Down By The Lazy River - The Osmonds: 
I don't care what you say ... The Osmonds rocked out pretty good on this one. It topped the charts here in Chicago (as did their two previous singles, "One Bad Apple" and "Yo-Yo.")  In fact, brothers Merrill and Alan wrote "Down By The Lazy River", proving that the boys COULD rock when they wanted to! (This ALSO gives me yet ANOTHER excuse to tell my ALL-TIME favorite Osmonds Brothers Story: According to Alan Osmond, Led Zeppelin's road manager once invited The Osmonds to come backstage and meet the band. After a short visit, "One of the band members asked us if we would like to come up on stage with them for their final song, when they played 'Stairway To Heaven'."  Their manager didn't think it was a very good idea, concerned about the image of Led Zeppelin having ANYTHING at all to do with The Osmonds!  But the members of Led Zeppelin insisted. A production assistant "escorted us up the back stairs and to the right side of the stage. The audience, which never stopped applauding to get Zeppelin to come back for an encore, were surprised as The Osmonds revealed themselves from the back of the stage with Zeppelin following. We stood stage right and watched the greatest performance of their song.") Now that's even cooler than the time The Osmonds hired world champion karate guru Chuck Norris to teach them some new, "masculine moves" that could be incorporated into their dance choreography! (Also true!) And all this time you thought these guys were just a bunch of wimps!

#3. Precious And Few - Climax: 
At one time or another, we've featured ALL of the hit songs recorded by The Outsiders, the band that Sonny Geraci fronted back in the '60's. You may recall that "Precious And Few" nearly came out as an "Outsiders" track, too, but a lawsuit between former band members as to who really had the rights to the name caused Geraci to change the name on his release to Climax. It was worth it ... "Precious and Few" went all the way to #3, besting The Outsiders #5 peak for their biggest hit, "Time Won't Let Me."

#2. Hurting Each Other - The Carpenters: 
Certainly one of the hottest recording acts of the '70's, "Hurting Each Other" was just one of a dozen songs released by The Carpenters that went into The National Top Ten in an all-too-brief recording career. 

#1.  Without You - Nilsson: 
Here's another one of my '70's favorites ... originally written and performed by Badfinger on their "No Dice" album, Nilsson really made this one his own. (It became a HUGE hit again 22 years later for Mariah Carey.)  Badfinger was ALSO on this week's Top 40 Chart with their new single, "Day After Day."  Many years ago, we did a special Forgotten Hits feature, tracing this song from its inception ... starting with the original Pete Ham demo track through the Badfinger recording ... into the Nilsson chart-topping monster power ballad masterpiece and up through the Mariah Carey remake. A good song is a good song is a good song ... no matter WHO does it ... and THIS is a GOOD song!