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SEPTEMBER 30, 1978: FM ROCK OUTPACES DISCO, BUT CHART IS FULL OF CHEESE!

Posted by powerpopclassics on September 26, 2014 at 5:10 PM

By September 30, 1978, the radio dial had become fractured by the extreme proliferation of Disco on AM and Pop FM radio, and the refusal of “respectable” FM Rock stations to play ANYTHING resembling Disco. Unified Top 40 radio was crumbling. Ten years before, genres such as British Rock, Detroit R&B, and Folk complemented each other on the radio. By September, 1978, popular songs in one genre were often completely unknown in another. Disco dominated most of 1978, but its recent stronghold was, by now, beginning to slip. On this chart, Album Rock began to win the battle, but seemed tired. Punk had never really arrived in the U.S. and marketable New Wave was still several months away. With the airwaves this curdled, is it surprising that we ended up with a chart full of cheese?

 

In the FM/Album Rock world, Boston looked forward to #6 with “Don’t Look Back.” Foreigner was twice as hot with “Hot Blooded” at #15 and “Double Vision” at #38. The Stones made up for “Miss You” with “Beast Of Burden” at #31, while Steely Dan’s “Josie” came home at #32. Gerry Rafferty, coming off the monster hit “Baker Street,” wound his way to #18 with “Right Down The Line.” “Who Are You” by The Who windmilled into #26 as Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman” threw shadows at #22. Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks, somehow believably platonic, were a beautiful sight at #12 with “Whenever I Call You Friend.” Finally, Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights” rolled high in the hills at #14.

 

In the AM/Pop FM camp, the #2 song that week, “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste Of Honey was the kind of Disco song that Album Rock fans simply could not tolerate. For the Disco crowd, though, it lit up the dance floor. Sylvester’s “Dance Disco Heat” strutted in at #40, while “I Love the Night Life” by Alicia Bridges boogied down to #27. Donna Summer’s respectable vocals carried “McArthur Park” to #1, but she was #25 on this week’s survey. Andy Gibb’s #10 entry “An Everlasting Love” kept the smooth side of Disco in the Top Ten, and the Miami/TK sound dashed on at #19 with Foxy’s “Get Off.” Although catchy Pop/Rock was almost extinct on this chart, Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child In The City” ran wild at #7. City Boy’s “5-7-0-5” dialed in at #30. Chris Rea’s “Fool If You Think It’s Over” mellowed its way to #17, while some other Pop entries, such as “I Will Still Love You” by Stonebolt, and “It’s A Laugh” by Hall & Oates have since become long forgotten. Which leads us into a collection of Cheese that SHOULD be forgotten!

 

The Cream Cheese that rose to the top of the Top 40? “Kiss You All Over” by Exile (#1), also at or near the top of the all-time Limburger list. Want more Cheese? “Three Times a Lady” by the Commodores (#4) needed to be sent three times a whey! Toni Tennille’s lusty set of lyrics “sort of” rescued “You Never Done It Like That” (#24) from the dairy section, but no such luck for Crystal Gayle’s #28 snoozer “Talking in Your Sleep” or “Reminiscing” by the Little River Band at #8, both of which could only be classified as Sharp Cheese. “You Needed Me” by Anne Murray (or maybe Randy Vanwarmer?) was indeed a Canadian Cheddar, but was out-Swissed on this chart by something smelly called “Devoted To You” by the now-shredded couple Carly Simon & James Taylor. Similarly titled at #3 was “Hopelessly Devoted to You” by Olivia Newton-John from GREASE. On “Summer Nights” (#5)Travolta and the GREASE Cast joined Olivia, and helped propel GREASE into being RSO Records’ second monster soundtrack album of the year. Greasy cheeseburgers or not, nobody could argue with RSO’s successes with SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER or GREASE. But Stigwood and staff had no idea just how bleu things were about to turn. They believed in the project that was supposed to have been RSO’s next movie and soundtrack blockbuster.

 

Before we pounce and extract, we should ponder this situation. What causes a truly terrible record to exist? Is it simply a bad voice? A bad recording of a good voice? An irritating accent? A clumsy drummer? Not the problem this time.  Sometimes, the song itself is terrible.  Again, not the problem here.  Sometimes inept execution of even a great song is terrible. In the case of this week’s situation, an entire concept turned out to be terrible. The consensus now regarding Robert Stigwood’s SGT. PEPPER movie project is that it was the worst idea EVER.  Astonishingly, in the midst of this terrible idea, two very well executed Beatle covers from that movie are present on this very chart. “Got To Get You Into My Life” (#34) received an Earth, Wind & Fire funk workout, and Aerosmith, especially Steven Tyler, did an excellent job groovin’ up “Come Together.” (#23) And, yet, for some reason involving the “plot” of this jinxed movie, or because Robert Stigwood said so, Robin Gibb was assigned the impossible task of covering one of McCartney’s best-ever vocals, “Oh, Darling!”

 

Robin, you were indeed a wonderful singer. Musicians from all genres marveled at your voice, and even Disco haters respected the entire Bee Gees record production empire. But then “they” (Stigwood? RSO Records? Paramount Pictures? Barry?) made you sing “Oh, Darling” in this silly movie, to be forever out there in comparison with McCartney. And it turned out cheesy. Can you imagine McCartney attempting your lines in “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” “Run To Me,” or “Nights On Broadway?” No. No. No. He knows his limitations. Luckily for Sir Paul, nobody in the business end of music could MAKE him do it. Somebody MADE you sing this song. We certainly don’t hold it against your career in its entirety, but, unfortunately, and not with any happiness in doing so, we must remove you from this Top 40. In some way, we believe that you agree with us. We will blame it on RSO. But, you must go. Sorry, Robin.

 

So, what SHOULD have been at #16 in place of Robin Gibb’s “Oh, Darling?” Well, back in the spring of 1978, a promising rebellious singer/songwriter/bandleader broke a bluesy riff from a debut album into American Top 40, at #40, for exactly one week. That song, “Breakdown,” won this act a spot as the least known artist on the FM Soundtrack, but lined him up right alongside Classic Rock Royalty such as The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers, and Steely Dan. By September, the follow-up album “You’re Gonna Get It” by, that's right, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers was released, and it contained one of the greatest songs ever, “Listen To Her Heart.” Petty apparently wrote this classic as a venting exercise after Ike Turner allegedly made passes at his wife. (No word as to whether Tom ever made a pass at Tina, by the way.) As a single, “Listen To Her Heart” hovered around the bottom half of the charts, eventually making it up to #53. Had ABC/Shelter Records not edited the chiming Byrdsy guitar intro, the record may very well have knocked one of the moldy cheeseballs mentioned above out of the 40, and taken its rightful place on its own. Of course, since we are an Alternate Universe, we can act as if this heartbreaking edit was never made, and that the album version of “Listen To Her Heart” was pressed into a single.


It's easy breezy, NOT easy cheesy...


OUT:  "OH! DARLING" - ROBIN GIBB

IN: "LISTEN TO HER HEART" - TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS


 

 

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