(Above: The first video disc player. You could binge five minutes at a time.)
June 20, 1970
It’s the day before the World cup championship. Brazil defeats Italy 4-1 to take the title in front of a crowd of 112,000 people in Mexico City. That same day the Penn Central Railroad files for bankruptcy in the largest corporate bankruptcy filing to date.
Three days later – June 23 – Prince Charles graduates from college, finishing his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge. If he does go on to become king, he will be the first monarch in the United Kingdom with a college degree.
On June 24, the first video disc is demonstrated by Telefunken in Germany. The Television Electronic Disk, or TED, is an eight-inch foil disc that can hold a staggering five minutes of video. It will be upgraded before commercial release in 1975.
On the charts: it’s the second and final week at the top for the Beatles and “The Long and Winding Road.” Technically, it’s the final week at the top ever for The Beatles, so let that sink in for a minute.
Ten new records make their debut on the Hot 100 this week:
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” – The Carpenters (debut at #56). I think I’ve eluded to this before on this blog: it’s cute and fashionable to dump on The Carpenters for being sappy pop. I won’t do it, for a few reasons. 1) Karen Carpenter’s voice is a thing of wonder. 2) The band sold A LOT OF records, so someone must have liked it. 3) Is there really something terrible about a pretty song? Can’t we just sometimes enjoy nice things, or is this why we really can’t have them? Anyway – this will be the band’s first record to hit the Top 40, and it’s a monster, spending four weeks at #1 here and six weeks at the top of the Easy Listening chart. It’s tough to argue with that.
“I Just Can’t Help Believing” – B.J. Thomas (#82). This week’s list is off to a fine start, isn’t it? This will go on to be a #9 record and also spend a week at the top of the Easy Listening chart. That’s appropriate, since the memory I associate with this record is it being one of the rare vocals hidden in the automation reels of KRVR/Davenport, where I worked remarkably briefly in 1989-1990. Despite that association, I will never turn this record off.
“(If You Let Me Make Love To You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You?” – Ronnie Dyson (#89). Here’s your first “oh wow,” if you don’t remember it. It’s from the musical Salvation, which you likely don’t remember. Dyson was part of the cast of the musical Hair, which you probably do remember. This got all the way to #8, but I don’t think I ever heard it on an Oldies station until I programmed it there. The parenthetical title likely was done for radio stations shaky about playing the sexy time music. Or, maybe not: this was a #1 record in places like Reading, Pennsylvania and Muncie, Indiana while hitting #2 on KXOK/St. Louis and #3 on WKNR/Detroit.
“When We Get Married” – The Intruders (#90). Technically, the hits for this group came in 1968: you likely know “Cowboys to Girls” and less likely know “Love is Like a Baseball Game” from that year. This one was an almost, stopping at #45. We can chalk this up to nostalgia, since the version in 1961 by The Dreamlovers is the big hit, making it to #10. This cover is pretty true to that one. In their hometown of Philadelphia it makes #4.
“Pearl” – Tommy Roe (#91). This one makes so many Midwest stations’ top ten lists that I don’t think there’s enough bandwidth to list them all. That surprises me, since nationally this only made it to #50.
“Dear Ann” – George Baker Selection (#93). What if a Dutch band made a Country record that they sing phonetically? Here’s your answer. This spends this week and next in this spot on the chart and goes away, and that’s not the worst thing.
“Cinnamon Girl” – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (#95). If you liked The Gentrys’ version of this from April 18, you’ll certainly like this. Neil Young wrote it, so I’m reluctant to call this a cover. We’ll go with “second charted version” instead.
“If My Heart Could Speak” – The Manhattans (#98). First thought: it’s a soul record with a Beatlesque vibe. And then it gets smoother. It seems like the sort of record that should have spent more time on the charts than just this one week, doesn’t it? It does much better on Black radio and hides from all but the deepest soul shows today.
“This Bitter Earth” – The Satisfactions (#99). Here’s a rare one: this band put two records on the list in 1970, and neither got out of the 90s. This is the first of the two, and it peaks at #96.
“I Heard the Voice of Jesus” – Turley Richards (#100). Idea for research for me: when do we start seeing more religion-forward pop in the 70s? We’re not yet to Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, but we’re starting to see it a bit more. This record spends three weeks on the charts and only moves to #99. The only place I could find this on a station’s top 40 was KJR/Seattle, where it peaked at #38.