(Above: You know you’re a big deal when they animate you.)
January 31, 1970
Happy 50th birthday to actress Minnie Driver, who was born on this date. It’s the same date that Slim Harpo, who had a hit with “Baby Scratch My Back,” dies at the age of 46. A few days earlier, on the 29th, former House speaker Paul Ryan and actress Heather Graham were born.
The following Monday – February 2 – President Nixon will deliver the budget to Congress for approval. The total spending for the fiscal year is expected to hit 200 billion dollars.
On the charts: the new #1 song this week is a big one. It’s “I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five. Some might argue that it’s the best debut single for a band ever; your mileage may vary. Other songs first appearing this week:
“Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop The Rain” – Creedence Clearwater Revival (debut at #50). You get two for the price of one on this single. I tend to think that we hear the B-side a lot more than the A-side these days, but both are pretty darned solid. Of course, it peaks at #2, since CCR never got to the top of the chart but was runner-up five times.
“The Rapper” – The Jaggerz (#79). I’ll list this one as a guilty pleasure. It’s the first we hear of Donnie Iris, who was a staple of our college radio playlists years later. This will be the first and only top 40 hit for the band, and spends a week at #2.
“Oh Well” – Fleetwood Mac (#81). This represents the chart debut for the band. It ends up at #55 before fading back down the chart. There’s nothing from the band in terms of a single until 1975, when “Over My Head” cracks the Top 20. There will be more after that. This one, though, is one that you just don’t hear often enough for my taste. It’s got a very different feel than the hits the band is best known for.
“New World Coming” – Mama Cass (#82). This almost made it into the Top 40, but just fell short, stopping at #42. My first thought upon hearing it was “I can see parents digging this one.” Turns out that was the case; on the Adult chart, this is a #4 record.
“Down In the Alley” – Ronnie Hawkins (#83). This represents the first time that Hawkins makes the pop charts since “Mary Lou” in 1959. It’ll spend five weeks over on this chart, stopping at #75. Compared to what most of the pop chart sounds like, this is a bit out of place, but it’s worth a listen.
“Je T’Aime – Moi Non Plus” – Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (#92; re-entry). That same dirty record from the 11/29/1969 chart has come back for more. It actually does better the second time around, landing at #58.
“Welfare Cadillac” – Guy Drake (#93). Guy was a novelty Country singer that only crossed over to the pop charts once with this record. It’ll spend over three months on the charts but never make it to the top half, only ending up at #63. Supposedly, this is one of the songs that President Nixon asked Johnny Cash to perform at the White House in 1972 Cash declined, claiming not to know it. I guess some folks found it funny.
“The Court of the Crimson King” – King Crimson (#96). If we judge King Crimson as a singles band, we misjudge them tremendously. This would be it, and it only makes #80. The band launches the careers of Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and Ian McDonald (Foreigner) as well.
“Victoria” – The Kinks (#97). This is a song that I’d call an “oh wow,” except for the fact that it’s on my iPod and gets played loudly whenever it comes up. This is a fantastic record. It’s by no means a hit, though – it’ll only end up at #62, which is probably why your local Oldies station misses it. (Heck, I’m even OK with the cover version done by The Fall in 1988, but prefer the original.)
“Save the Country” – Thelma Houston (#98). It’s the debut single for disco queen Houston, who’s much better known for her chart-topper from 1976, “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” There’s nothing charting in-between the two. This song only makes #74, but its second version, by the Fifth Dimension, becomes a bigger hit later in the year.
“Superstar” – Murray Head with the Trinidad Singers (#99). It’s the decade in which religion does well on the pop charts. The theme song from Jesus Christ Superstar will drop off the charts after a few weeks, hitting #74. It’ll roar back in 1971 as the musical picks up steam and make it to #14. As for Head, he won’t hit the charts again until “One Night in Bangkok” becomes a massive #3 hit in 1984.
“I’ll See Him Through” – Tammy Wynette (#100). We have another Country crossover to round out our list this week. The song only spends two weeks on the pop chart, and never moves from this bottom position. And, oh yeah – that’s Elvis’ backup singers, The Jordanaires, helping out on this track.