(Above: There’s an implication here that she’s letting more than her hair down.)
December 13, 1969
This is a slow news weekend, unless you are a fan of the Continental Football League. Remember them? Their final championship was played on this date as Indianapolis beat San Antonio 44-38. The league folded the following month.
Monday the 15th is the day that Shell Oil’s tanker, the Marpessa, sinks following an explosion. It’s believed to be the biggest ship ever to sink at a length of 1066 feet (the Titanic was 883 feet long), and all but two crew members survive the accident.
On the charts: it’s the second and final week at #1 for Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye).” Watch this space for a new chart-topper in time for Christmas.
Other tunes making their debut this week:
“She” – Tommy James & The Shondells (debut at #65). I haven’t heard this one in forever. It goes on to become a #23 hit. The DJ in me would rather have the intro time in the front, but it’s still a nice record.
“Point It Out” – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#76). Now we’re getting somewhere. This one’s fantastic, as were most things Smokey about this time. This will just sneak into the Top 40 and land at #37. In Chicago, however, WVON bumps it to #2.
“Venus” – The Shocking Blue (#77). This song – at least in my head – is a Seventies record. It will hit its peak of #1 in February of 1970, but the sound of the record feels later to me, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Have we had a big hit group from The Netherlands on the list yet? We do now. (And no, we don’t discuss the Bananarama remake of this one.)
“She Lets Her Hair Down” – The Tokens (#81) and “She Lets Her Hair Down” – Gene Pitney (#97). Two versions of a fantastic song that, in 1970, will be blaring out of your television selling you Clairol products. (Oh, and Bobby Sherman did it a few years later to no success.) For all these versions you’d think we had a big hit on our hands, but we don’t. The Tokens make it only to #61 and Pitney’s version stalls at #89. That doesn’t make the song any less terrific, though.
“When Julie Comes Around” – The Cuff Links (#90). “Tracy,” meet Julie. This is the follow-up to the September 13 charter for the band, which was their only Top 40 hit. This one just narrowly missed being the second, stopping at #41. It’s a #4 single in Tulsa, Oklahoma and even bigger in Brisbane, Australia, hitting #2 on the playlist of station 4IP.
“To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” – Nina Simone (#93). This is the last record to cross over to the pop chart for Simone, and it stops at #76. I can see a number of radio stations in certain places seeing the title and deciding to pass on it. Too bad.
“Is It Because I’m Black” – Syl Johnson (#94). This could be the response to the last point I made on the last record. Of these last two records, I think I’m partial to this one. This one only makes it a little higher on the charts, stopping at #68. It’s a #1 record at KYAC in Kirkland, Washington.
“Land of 1000 Dances” – The Electric Indian (#95). Am I hearing a disco beat in 1969? This is the cover you didn’t know you needed. I suppose “cover” is a loose word here, since I don’t recall the originals featuring “Chopsticks” and lines about “smoking your peace pipe.” I’m not sure this record gets released today. This is the only week this one’s on the charts. Their earlier record, “Keem-O-Sabe” (from August 2) remains the band’s only top 40 hit.
“Six White Horses” – Tommy Cash (#96). To my way of thinking, it seems a little late for a post-Dr. King and RFK tribute record. After all, Dion got his out fifteen months before this one. This will peak at #79 in early 1970 and fade out after a few weeks.
“Alice’s Rock and Roll Restaurant” – Arlo Guthrie (#98). Possibly inflammatory comment coming: I love the original and used to play it – full 18-minute length – as I closed morning shows on Thanksgiving. This one? It lacks the charm of the original for me. Record buyers must have thought so, too, since it spends two weeks on the chart, landing at #97. The Arlo Guthrie greatest hits that Warner Brothers put out doesn’t include this one.
“How I Miss You Baby” – Bobby Womack (#99). Have we had an “oh wow” yet this week? Here it is. I played it, and then played it again. The fact that this was only a #93 record puzzles me. They had the right idea in Detroit, where WJLB made this a #2 record.
“Big In Vegas” – Buck Owens and the Buckaroos (#100). In my head I don’t see Buck Owens crossing over in 1969, but he did – for this one week only. This is decidedly more Countrypolitan than “I’ve Got a Tiger By The Tail,” isn’t it?