April 25, 1970
It’s the day after the People’s Republic of China became the sixth nation to put a satellite into orbit. That same day was the last airing of Death Valley Days, which had been airing since 1952. Stanley Andrews was the long-running host, giving up the show in 1964 to Ronald Reagan.
On the 26th, Melanija Knavs was born in Yugoslavia (now Slovenia). You know her as Melania Trump, the First Lady of the United States. That same day Gypsy Rose Lee died at the age of 59. The musical Gypsy is about her life.
April 27th is a day for science nerds to celebrate: it’s the day that Element 105 was synthesized by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley. It’s called Dubnium, since there’s been a long-standing debate as to whether the scientists at Cal-Berkeley really just did what Russian scientists working in Dubna did in 1968. (As a high school chemistry student, the charts in our classrooms had the un-named 104, 105, and 106 for years, and that was the end of the road. They’re now named up to 118.)
On the charts: There’s a new #1 song: “ABC” by The Jackson Five displaces The Beatles in the top spot. It will stay there for this week and next, as the top of the charts tends to be a little more mobile.
Also making debuts this week:
“Up Around the Bend/Run Through the Jungle” – Creedence Clearwater Revival (debut at #48). Since, of course, CCR never hit #1, this one won’t either. The A-side will make it up to #4. Technically, both sides do, since they’re not distinguished as two different entries. The B-side, of course, will make it into every film scene supposedly taking place in Vietnam for years to come.
“Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” – Diana Ross (#49). This is the first solo hit for Diana Ross, and it will go on to make it up to #20. I cannot hear it in my head, however, in Ross’ voice. That version is Eddie Murphy’s Buckwheat. They did a sing-along on SNL once with the lyrics in Buckwheat-speak on the screen so that you could sing along – ip doo tan.
“Hum a Song (From Your Heart)” – Lulu (#74). This one will only make it up to #54. In a couple weeks it will appear on the Easy Listening chart, where it will fare better as a #26 hit. To my ear it’s a little “hot” for that chart, but your mileage may vary.
“Welfare Cadillac” – Guy Drake (#80; re-entry). This originally charted on January 31 of this year, and it’s no more amusing this time around.
“Lay Down (Candles In the Rain)” – Melanie (#89). It should read “Melanie With the Edwin Hawkins Singers,” but Billboard‘s not sharing the credit on the debut. This is Melanie Safka’s debut record, and it’s a big hit, going all the way up to #6. There’s a bigger one in 1971 – the roller-skating one.
“Fire and Rain” – R.B. Greaves (#90). OK, count me in on this version. It’s pretty true to the James Taylor hit version you know – which won’t chart for another five months, by the way – but it just feels right. Maybe it’s the backup singers and the horns. It’ll only spend three weeks on the charts and stop at #82. WHUT in Anderson, Indiana has this as at #11 on its chart, and it also does well in Columbus, Ohio and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“Band of Gold” – Freda Payne (#93). If you’ve ever listened to an Oldies radio station, then I don’t need to describe this record, since you’ve heard it about eight thousand times. It’s, without a doubt, the worst honeymoon night ever captured on vinyl. It gets as high as #3 with some markets playing it at #1. And, no, she’s not a one-hit wonder – we’ll hear from her before the year is over.
“I Got a Problem” – Jesse Anderson (#95). Here’s your oh-wow: some Chicago funk-blues that won’t move any higher than this on the Pop chart, since pop AM can’t handle all these affairs. It’s a #4 record on WVON in Anderson’s home town.
“Thank You Girl” – Street People (#96). I love the fact that this record is right next to “I Got a Problem,” since these two records could not possibly be any more different. I need to check my blood sugar after playing this. This spends two weeks at #96 and fades away, but it’s a #7 record on KIOA in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Angelica” – Oliver (#97; re-entry). This charted on April 11, disappeared, and then came back for more. After next week it’s gone again.
“More than I Can Stand” – Bobby Womack (#98). There’s nothing to dislike about this one, but it only works its way up to #90. It’s also a #4 hit on WVON/Chicago and makes #6 on WDAS/Philadelphia.
“It’s All In the Game” – Four Tops (#99). Ordinarily I wrinkle my nose at nostalgia remakes, but this one’s an exception. It’s a totally new feel for a song that goes back to the original version by Tommy Edwards in 1951. (Yes, the hit was in 1958, but I like the original.) It’s also, I believe, the only song on our charts that pays royalties to a former Vice President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner. No, really: Charles Dawes, veep under Calvin Coolidge, wrote a piece called Melody in A Major in 1912. That’s the instrumental backing, and that’s probably more than you wanted to know about this song – but it’s what we do here.
“Get Down People” – Fabulous Counts (#100). This week we close with some funk that managed to get to #88, with hometown support from WKNR/Detroit and CKLW/Windsor, Ontario, Canada, where it was a top 20 record.
Since we talked about WVON this week – blog reader Eddy Gordon has a question for us. I can’t answer it, being a bit too young, but perhaps someone knows. He writes:
“On September 1, 1962, WGES AM 1390 transitioned to WYNR AM 1390. Days leading up to the switchover, they discarded the regular playlist. Even though the announcers were on the air and introduced the next song as what it would have been, if the normal playlist was in rotation, the station played a REALLY STRANGE SONG, REPEATEDLY, until the switchover occurred. Throughout this period, there were announcements stating “Big change September First”. I was 10 years old, and it still bothers me. Is there any way you would know how to identify the NAME OF THAT CRAZY SONG… that til this day is still stuck in my head. This is one of those life mysteries I like to solve before my time is up.”
We can’t let this go unsolved. Any ideas? Please respond below, or send a note through the “contact” page.