It occurred to me that we’ve never looked at a WCFL chart on this site, and it’s high time we fix that. Let’s travel back 46 years to the day before Christmas, 1972. What’s big in the Windy City?
40. Joni Mitchell – “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio.” Back in 1991 when WYTZ/Chicago was stunting, shortly before becoming “Hell” (in one of the most misguided format changes ever), they played hours and hours of random clips, drops, etc. One of the montages was all of the songs they could think of about radio, and this was in it. I need to see if I saved that montage.
39. Steely Dan – “Do It Again.” Not a bad introduction to a band. I suspect we will hear more from these guys.
38. The Fifth Dimension – “If I Could Reach You.” There was a LOT of Fifth Dimension played in my house growing up, but I haven’t heard this one in a really, really long time.
37. Hurricane Smith – “Oh, Babe, What Would You Say.” This is one of those songs that just forces a smile on your face. Norman Smith was a production hand at Abbey Road studios, and worked on about a hundred Beatle records. They gave him a chance to sing, and in doing so, he got his first American hit record at age 49. It’s never too late to pick up a new career.
36. Loggins and Messina – “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” Admittedly, I burned out on this one during my stint at all-70s WYSY, which played it about every 35 minutes, it seemed.
35. Elton John – “Crocodile Rock.” This song is making its debut this week. You’ll hear it a few more times in the ensuing years.
34. Gary Glitter – “I Didn’t Know I Loved You (Until I Saw You Rock and Roll).” Not a one-hit wonder, as it turns out, despite constant inclusion on those sorts of lists.
33. Lobo – “I’d Love You To Want Me.” Sappy, sure, but it’s another smile-on-the-face record.
32. The Blue Ridge Rangers – “Jambalaya.” That’s really John Fogerty singing this one.
31. Gallery – “I Believe In Music.” They’re known for two big hits: the one that sounds like a Neil Diamond record (“Nice to Be With You”), and this one.
30. Stevie Wonder – “Superstition.” This is a record that sounds just as good on AM. Hell, this is a record that would sound good coming through a toilet paper roll.
29. James Taylor – “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” Super CFL goes soft.
28. Bulldog – “No.” Here’s your “oh, wow” record. Bulldog was formed by Dino Danelli and Gene Cornish of the Rascals. They enlisted Billy Hocher to do his best Joe Cocker impression, and had a Top 10 record in Australia. This should have been a bigger hit here, missing the Top 40.
27. Carly Simon – “You’re So Vain.” Son of a gun. No matter who it’s about, it’s a great record. Listen closely for vocal help from Mick Jagger.
26. Grand Funk Railroad – “Rock and Roll Soul.” I know in some corners this group is beloved. My corner is not one of those. Your mileage may vary.
25. Three Dog Night – “Pieces of April.” This is such a pretty record.
24. Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now.” Indelible memory of this song: Chicago weatherman John Coleman opening up his forecast singing it. Coleman went on to found a thing called The Weather Channel; you might be familiar with it.
23. Jethro Tull – “Living In the Past.” It always strikes me as a bit ironic that classic rock radio insists on playing this in ultra-heavy rotation.
22. Helen Reddy – “I Am Woman.” Quick now: name a #1 record with “embryo” in the lyrics.
21. Bread – “Sweet Surrender.” The charts at the end of 1972 are either heavy or light, it appears. We haven’t seen as much middle-of-the-road pop as we normally find on a Top 40 station list. Oldies radio never really knew what to do with Bread, but “play them” was rarely the answer, which was too bad.
20. Donna Fargo – “Funny Face.” I spoke too soon about the pop. Pass.
(Above: Big 10 jock Dickie Shannon. One degree of separation: we both programmed WODJ/Grand Rapids in the 1990s.)
19. The Osmonds – “Crazy Horses.” Hell, even the Osmonds are rocking out.
18. Jackson Five – “Corner of the Sky.” I had all but forgotten this record. How have we been missing this one all these years?
17. Cat Stevens – “Sitting.” File this one under “the title doesn’t ring a bell, but once it starts, you say ‘aw, yeah.'”
16. The Stylistics – “I’m Stone in Love With You.” I haven’t been able to hit the notes in this record since 1972.
15. Timmy Thomas – “Why Can’t We Live Together?“ This is a record that no disk jockey ever should try and talk over the whole intro, but I bet several have tried. The intro is 1:44. Speed it up, and you get “Hotline Bling.”
14. Al Green – “You Ought To Be With Me.” Based on this three song section of the countdown, we should look for a baby boom in Chicago in September of 1973.
13. Austin Roberts – “Something’s Wrong With Me.” I’d much rather hear this one than “Rocky,” but just marginally. Very surprised a drug company hasn’t latched on to this one.
12. Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” When I broke into radio in the late 80s, the Simply Red version was all we got. This was a nice find for me to counter that nonsense.
11. Jim Croce – “Operator.” The Photographs and Memories LP was played a lot in our house after Croce’s death, and I didn’t appreciate most of his music until much later in life. As a three-year-old, “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” works. The rest of it requires a bit of living.
10. The Raspberries – “I Wanna Be With You.” If I have to list the songs that sound the absolute best coming out of a shotgun jingle, this has to be near the top. In fact, if you sing “Soo-per–see–eff–ell!” before it starts, it enhances the experience.
9. The Four Tops – “Keeper Of the Castle.” This is another one that doesn’t get enough airplay. Admittedly, it sounds better in stereo than on AM, but still good either way.
8. Chicago – “Dialogue (Part I and II).” I’ve already written about this one, but it’s worth playing again and again.
6. Billy Paul – “Me and Mrs. Jones.” Christmas is upon us, and when the family gets together, I might have to remind the family this year of the time my little brother, who was about four at the time, started yelling the chorus to this in a public restroom, causing my father to think he was being injured.
5. The Temptations – “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” All he left us was a loan, which he should have paid off. This song was at #1 last week, so it takes a big tumble. It’s also six minutes long, which comes in handy after a few cups of coffee.
4. Albert Hammond – “It Never Rains in Southern California.” Man, this is a solid chart.
3. Seals and Crofts – “Summer Breeze.” I should add this one to my post on misheard lyrics. As a kid, I thought the breeze was “flowing through the gas pump in my mind.” That makes more sense when you’re four.
2. Johnny Rivers – “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.” Meh. I’d rather have Huey Piano Smith, if I have a choice.
And, at #1 this week, it’s… wait. Really? Gilbert O’Sullivan – “Clair“ ? This is one that I don’t need to hear again, really. Maybe it’s the whistling.
Before we wrap, though, I’d like to call your attention back to the bottom of the survey. WCFL would do random top tens, and this week is the “Big 10 Christmas ’72” list. There’s not much to work with on the list, but – what’s this at #1? “Can You Fix The Way I Talk For Christmas“ is by Frank Vincent and Joe Pesci. Yes, that Joe Pesci. He did an album in 1968 called Little Joe Sure Can Sing. That’s debatable. Off this list, I gotta go with Stan Freberg’s “Green Chri$tma$,“ which I played on more than one station along the way, whether or not the sales staff liked it. Sixty Christmases after Freberg recorded it, it’s still relevant.