Tuesday, August 22, 2017

American Jukebox: August 1971

In lieu of the top 40 chart mixes I've been doing, I felt like trying this idea out instead. The chart mixes are fun.... to a point, but they also limit my enjoyment as a mixer (mixist? someone who mixes?). I ran into a couple of brick walls - one, being forced to put an inappropriate song in between two that fit together better and two, songs that get repeated chart after chart (after another dozen charts) and, as a listener (listenist? someone who listens?) I'd rather hear a constantly fresh rotation of songs instead of repeats. Ultimately, I felt like doing the fixed charts was not giving me the opportunity to do the thing that I get the most fun out of; sequencing and blending songs together to create a listening experience that flows. So, the idea is the jukebox (at the local bar, the pizza parlor, the soda shop, all the places one would have found a jukebox in the USA) was regularly restocked with the latest records - some were instant hits on the charts, some took a while to simmer, some never reached great heights. No boundaries, these mixes will include pop, soul, country, easy listening, the good, the bad and the cheesy, just like the real top 40 charts but now with added flexibility. :) The next chart mix I would have shared would've been from August of 1971, so that's where I'll dip in with this proposed series.

One of the bigger hits in this mix is Joan Baez's cover of the Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" in which she didn't change the protagonist character's gender but she did change some of the other lyrics, never having looked at the actual lyrics and going by what she unknowingly misheard learning the song from the Band's LP. Her version hit #3, giving her her highest chart placing and her only top 40 hit.

Ray Stevens often gets put in the comedy/novelty artist box, but he definitely released his fair share of fine straight ahead pop music, including this version of the traditional West Indies lullaby. Unfortunately, it only reached #70 on the pop chart though it really deserved better.

The fourth single from the Partridge Family was their first to not crack the top 10, peaking at #13.

New York City's The Persuaders had their biggest pop hit with "Thin Line Between Love & Hate" which reached a peak of #15 and was eventually covered 13 years later by The Pretenders, although Chrissie Hynde's band only took their cover version to #83 in the summer of '84.

The mix starts off with the very first single I ever bought of my own accord with my allowance money, by The Stampeders (from Calgary) with their hook filled "Sweet City Woman". I also had the Tommy Roe single included here as well as the Joan Baez, Partridge Family and Bobby Sherman singles - heh. During this time period, I was out with my Mom on grocery shopping day and we stopped at the department store and I wanted the Paul & Linda 45 badly. BADLY. Something fierce, as they say. Mom informed me that I had too many records already. In that regard, she had no idea what was to happen in the years to come! Heh-heh. I pleaded my best case, pointed out the bargain since the song was almost like having a whole album side, it was three songs in one! But, no, it was not to be and I didn't get my own personal copy of the song until I purchased the Wings Greatest compilation, seven long years later in '78. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" remains in a four way tie for my favorite song ever. It never fails to evoke the era for me, hearing it on the radio and being mesmerized by its brilliance. I still love it now as much as I did then.

Two songs here from Kris Kristofferson, one on his own and one as a cover by Ray Price. Other covers in this mix include Helen Reddy's take on Van Morrison's "Crazy Love", the aforementioned Ray Stevens tour de force arrangement of "All My Trials" and Joan's revival of The Band, Donny Osmond's #1 remake of Steve Lawrence's also #1 "Go Away Little Girl" from 1963, and Andy Williams doing one of the first remakes of Leon Russell's "A Song For You". Andy's version actually gave the song its biggest exposure to date with the singles success on easy listening radio (reaching the adult contemporary top 40 chart) and several performances of it on widely viewed television shows. One single in this mix, "Them Changes" by Buddy Miles was actually released earlier in 1970 but only reached #81 - the same exact version was rereleased a year later and punched a little higher up to #62.

Here's the complete playlist with chart rankings:

1. The Stampeders - "Sweet City Woman" (#8)
2. Helen Reddy - "Crazy Love" (#51)
3. The Moody Blues - "The Story In Your Eyes" (#23)
4. John Baldry - "Don't Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King Of Rock & Roll" (#73)
5. Tommy Roe - "Stagger Lee" (#25)
6. Joan Baez - "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (#3)
7. Ray Stevens - "All My Trials" (#70)
8. Paul & Linda McCartney - "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" (#1)
9. Stevie Wonder - "If You Really Love Me" (#8)
10. Dionne Warwick - "Amanda" (#83)
11. The Stylistics - "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" (#39)
12. The Persuaders - "Thin Line Between Love & Hate" (#15)
13. Ray Charles - "Feel So Bad" (#68)
14. Lou Rawls - "A Natural Man" (#17)
15. Clarence Carter - "Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love" (#84)
16. Johnnie Taylor - "Hijackin' Love" (#64)
17. Honey Cone - "Stick-Up" (#11)
18. The Guess Who - "Rain Dance" (#19)
19. Diana Ross - "Surrender" (#38)
20. The Partridge Family - "I Woke Up In Love This Morning" (#13)
21. Bobby Sherman - "Waiting At The Bus Stop" (#54)
22. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds - "Annabella" (#46)
23. Lynn Anderson - "How Can I Unlove You" (#63)
24. Donny Osmond - "Go Away Little Girl" (#1)
25. Brenda & The Tabulations - "A Part Of You" (#94)
26. Carole King - "So Far Away" (#14)
27. Andy Williams - "A Song For You" (#82)
28. War - "All Day Music" (#35)
29. The Moments - "Lucky Me" (#98)
30. The Detroit Emeralds - "Wear This Ring (With Love)" (#91)
31. Jr. Walker & The All-Stars - "Take Me Girl, I'm Ready" (#50)
32. Denise LaSalle - "Trapped By A Thing Called Love" (#13)
33. Ray Price - "I'd Rather Be Sorry" (#70)
34. Kris Kristofferson - "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)" (#26)
35. The Dells - "The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind)" (#30)
36. George Harrison - "Bangla Desh" (#23)
37. Jethro Tull - "Hymn 43" (#91)
38. Buddy Miles - "Them Changes" (#62)
39. Rufus Thomas - "The Breakdown (Part 1)" (#31)
40. James Brown - "Make It Funky (Part 1)" (#22)


  1. What a great idea, Mark! As much as I liked the chart mixes, I think this is a much more rewarding concept, both for you as the makist and for us, the enjoyists. No more risk of repetitions, no more songs you really hate. Your own pick of the charts, in the order you prefer. The jukebox concept is as inspired as the Rock FM format. And what a brilliant (and well introduced and documented) first episode this is. The juxtaposition of the quite melodramatic "All My Trials" and the quirky "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" works really well. As does that little soul section, starting with Stevie. God, I love that Persuaders song. I remember when I first heard it on a second hand compilation album I bought in the late seventies - Atlantic Black Gold, I think it was called. Couldn't stop listening to it. The Lou Rawls track is one I recently dug up myself, when I used it for my "Love, Peace & Equality" mix. Great to hear it its historical context, preceded by Ray Charles and followed by Clarence Carter. The thematic similarity between "Hijackin' Love" and "Stick-Up" made me smile. The cheese platter served up by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, Lynn Anderson, Donny Osmond and Brenda & The Tabulations is rather tasty too. It's funny, by the way, how we Europeans embraced much of the rock, blues and soul music from the States, but never really got into the country tradition of your country. Singers like Ray Price or Kris Kristofferson never had any major successes over here. Moving on, I love the piano/sax part in "Bangla Desh". Such an inspired charity song (I don't want to bring up "We Are The World" again, but...). Very powerful last fifteen minutes. Rufus Thomas and James Brown had a lot in common on those tracks, didn't they? Congratulations are in order. It looks like you've found the perfect format.

    1. Thank you very much, seventyfive! I'm sure you can tell that, like yourself, I am a chart enthusiast and as much as I am perpetually intrigued by chart archives, the fun is really in playing around with them instead of reciting them by rote. I actually made two mixes for this week in '71, the Billboard chart just didn't work for me so I did the Cashbox chart, which was slightly less encumbered but was consistently reminding me that the mix was shackled. So, I opted for chart emancipation. Plus, this way I can pull from the entire Hot 100, so many of the non-top 40 tracks were really big hits regionally - and then there's the chart politics (ha). In the 80's, I was lucky enough to be a Billboard chart statistics reporter due to my buyer's position at a major record store. They'd call every Friday afternoon for my top sellers and the sold counts. Promotional marketers were always aware who the Billboard reporters were and you'd be enticed with goodies, promos, backstage passes and the like - not outright payola, but it could be seen that way. My point being, the charts were never truly accurate until the 90's and the introduction of Soundscan - just a look at the different US trade magazine's charts for any given week before Soundscan bears this out. But - I think with my new format idea, I'll be able to hit nearly every song that hit the Billboard Hot 100. For August '71, I only left out 13 songs that debuted that month (mostly country selections and a few that were on the trendy Jesus folk-pop kick at the time), so I think I can do a few roundup mixes for each year; maybe a country jukebox and perhaps a hypothetical church jukebox, ha! Maybe even for the overly cheesy selections, an "I want my coins back" jukebox mix, heh heh! At any rate, I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful comments on the mix selections and the approach, your words have a lot of weight with me - and I hope anyone reading this goes to mixcloud and checks out your amazing mixes if they haven't done so already (search for seventyfive on mixcloud and prepare to be amazingly entertained!).