September 27, 1969
Actually, September 26 may be the more important date in terms of cultural touchstones. That’s the date that The Brady Bunch made its premiere on ABC. The show, about a blended family, features something interesting in its run: a married couple in bed together and not in twin beds. But they weren’t the first: that would be Mary Kay and Johnny, the titular characters from a show that ran on the Dumont network from 1947-1950. But it took almost twenty years before we get another (and no, I don’t count Fred and Wilma Flintstone.) The Brady Bunch will run for five seasons, take two months off in 1975, and has been on television somewhere in the world every day since. I’ll not speak of the music the kids recorded.
That’s not even the best thing that happened on 9/26/69: the Beatles released Abbey Road, which represents the last “real” album the band created together. By that time the rumors that “Paul is dead” are starting to swirl, and that doesn’t hurt sales of the LP one bit. We’ll hear some singles on this list in coming weeks.
Now, for the 27th: it’s the 100th anniversary of college football in the US. The first game between Princeton and Rutgers is celebrated. So, that’s why you see the “150” patches on college football teams this season. The teams face in a rematch of sorts: while Princeton won the 1869 game, it’s Rutgers who comes out on top this time.
Come Monday, there’s another television show making its premiere: Love, American Style debuts on ABC. The skit show will run just as long as The Brady Bunch, but I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen an episode. (It used to run a lot on Chicago’s WGN when I was a kid, and I didn’t find it amusing as I was eight.) That could be because a skit on the show, which featured a family from Milwaukee in the 1950s, went on to become its own hit television show in 1974.
On the charts this week: it’s another week at the top for “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. What else is new this week?
“Wedding Bell Blues” – The Fifth Dimension (debut at #67). The top debuting song of the week is one you certainly know. This will go on to become the band’s other #1 hit; both rule the roost in ’69. (The other, of course, was “Aquarius,” which debuted on March 8.) It’s also a remake: Laura Nyro, who wrote the song, released it in 1966.
“Is That All There Is” – Peggy Lee (#76). Best story about this record: when the streaking fad was big in the 70s, a naked guy ran across the field at a baseball game in Philadelphia. The organist responded by playing this song as they caught the guy. Oh – as far as Peggy’s record, it’ll go on to be a #11 hit.
“Doin’ Our Thing” – Clarence Carter (#77). Now we get to some good stuff: this is a solid soul record that only sneaks up to #46. WJLB in Detroit, the classic Black station, played it in the #1 position, while WWRL/New York peaked it at #5.
“So Good Together” – Andy Kim (#82). The follow-up to his cover of the Ronettes’ “Baby I Love You” also makes it into the Top 40, but just; it peaks at #36. Andy won’t hit the top portion of the chart until another Ronettes remake gets him there in 1970.
“San Francisco Is a Lonely Town” – Joe Simon (#84). This isn’t a bad little record, but it won’t climb much higher than this. It’ll spend three weeks on the chart and move up only five places. Watch for the B-side to debut – and stall – before the end of the year.
“Echo Park” – Keith Barbour (#85). Here we have a legitimate one-hit wonder, in a sense. Barbour was a member of the New Christy Minstrels, so he had hits there – but under his own name, this is it, and it lands at exactly #40. The record makes it to #2 in Boston and #3 in a few Canadian locations and also at WRIG in Wausau, Wisconsin. This is a mellow batch of hits so far, isn’t it?
“Baby, I’m For Real” – The Originals (#86). This is a fantastic record. It’s the debut song for the band, and it’ll make it all the way up to #14. Their slightly bigger hit, “The Bells,” makes it onto the list just into 1970.
“Time Machine” – Grand Funk Railroad (#91). True confession time: GFR is a band that, most of the time, I’ll bother to get up in order to turn off. That could be because we never get to hear this one, which isn’t a bad little record. The band’s debut will stop at #48, which is likely why we never hear this one and get the #1 songs played repetitively instead.
“Mind, Body and Soul” – The Flaming Ember (#92). Have I picked an “oh wow” yet? No. I’ll use it here. It’s another debut single, and one that does make it to the Top 40, stopping at #26. I’d hazard a guess that I hear this as often as I hear the last record, and that seems less frequent than it should be. This is a great song.
“Was It Good To You” – Isley Brothers (#93). This could have been the oh-wow as well. Not nearly as big as their other records – stalling at #83 – it’s still a solid bit of soul. This one makes #12 in both St. Louis and New York City.
“We’ll Cry Together” – Maxine Brown (#96). This one represents the swan song for Maxine as it’s her last record to hit the pop charts. It’ll only move a bit, ending up at #73 – but it’s still a quality record.
“Julia” – Ramsey Lewis (#97). OK, this is cool: my former broadcast colleague did a whole album of Beatles’ tunes called Mother Nature’s Son. This is from that album; recall that it’s a song that sort of got buried in the White Album. Ramsey gives it the full treatment, and it’s worth a listen. It’ll move up a few places to #76; the Beatles, of course, never released their version as a single.
“Ruben James” – Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (#100). The spelling in the first listing in Billboard is wrong; it gets fixed in subsequent issues. Where that gets confusing is that the first pressings of the single spell it this way while later pressings have it as “Reuben,” which is how we expect to see it. Maybe this isn’t wrong, then? Anyway – this goes on to be a #26 record and part of the solo canon for Rogers for some time. It sounds an awful lot more Country than the First Edition’s earlier songs, doesn’t it?