This Week’s Theme: Songs that Peaked at # 40 on the Billboard Charts (Artists D – F)
See Radio Faux Show # 22 for Part One of this series, featuring artists from A to C.
For this week’s show we get to use the greatest reference book ever published, Joel Whitburn’s Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. I know that the world has gone online for everything now, and I am not one of those who thinks you need to feel the pages and smell the paper of a book to enjoy reading. But a good reference book like this is not only easy to use, but worth owning just so you can randomly open up the pages and discover songs you don’t know. We own the 7th and 9th (final) editions at our house. This book is a must have in any serious music book collection.
Welcome to Radio Faux Show number thirty-eight.
First things first – click a link to start listening and then come back to read about this week’s songs.
How to Play Drop the Needle
Drop The Needle is a game designed for playing with records on turntables. There are many versions of this game, but the name Drop The Needle was coined by Ms. Faux’s father. He was a musician and avid life-long record collector himself, and from the time she was a small child they would play together: come home from the record store with a big stack of new purchases, pull one out, and start the game. It’s a super fun way to dig into new stuff, and a wonderful way to revisit and reappreciate old records reshelved and forgotten. In my days as a deejay, we called it “let’s check out the new records” and would flip through dozens of albums on new record delivery days.
No matter what you call it, the basic concept is this.
- Grab a random LP from the stack.
- Put on a random side.
- Drop the needle anywhere you want (starting at the beginning of a song is optional).
- Listen, analyze, discuss, repeat.
And you can still play Drop the Needle in the modern world. Just flip to a page of Joel Whitburn’s book and say “Alexa, play the song such and such by so and so.” This is hours of family entertainment, and much more educational than watching the latest season of NCIS SVU.
Why only Artists from D-F?
Part one of this series was presented in Radio Faux Show #22. That show included artists from A-C. By my count, there are twenty songs by D-F artists (group or last name) that peaked at number forty by the year 2000. That is enough to fill up about half of the show, so I’ve included them all. We’ll save the rest of the artists (G – Z) for future Faux Shows.
Why is it the Top 40?
Why not the Top 50 or Top 34? The answer is simple. When the format was invented, 40 songs was the number of songs that could fit in the radio time slot. In other words, the technology drove the output. Other similar questions include why are singles usually 3 to 4 minutes long? That is about how long a song can be to fit on one side of a 45 RPM 7 inch record. Why do old vinyl double albums have sides 1/4 and 2/3? This allows you to put both records on your record player and have the disk changer play the first two sides without having to get up to go flip them over. Then you can do the same with sides 3 and 4. Why is the max length on a CD around 70 minutes? Same thing (although probably more technical).
Songs for this week’s theme:
- Bobby Darin “Nature Boy” (7/10/61)
- Paul Davis “Love or Let Me Be Lonely” (8/28/82)
- The Delfonics “You’ve Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine” (10/4/69) and “Trying to Make a Fool of Me” (7/25/70)
- Jackie DeShannon “Love Will Find a Way” (12/6/69)
- Dicky Doo and the Don’ts “Ne Ne Na Na Nu Nu” (5/12/58)
- Digital Underground “Kiss You Back” (1/11/92)
- Dion and the Belmonts “Don’t Pity Me” (1/5/59)
- The Doobie Brothers “Sweet Maxine” (8/30/75)
- Ronnie Dove “Say You” (9/26/64)
- El Chicano “Tell Her She’s Lovely” (12/22/73)
- Gloria Estefan “I’m Not Giving You Up” (1/25/97)
- Melissa Etheridge “Nowhere to Go” (10/12/96)
- Eurythmics “Don’t Ask Me Why” (11/4/89)
- The Everly Brothers “Love of My Life” (12/15/58) and “Bowling Green” (7/8/67)
- Exile “You Thrill Me” (2/3/79)
- Fanny “Charity Ball” (11/6/71)
- Eddie Floyd “I’ve Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)” (9/7/68)
- The Four Tops“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life” (2/27/71)
Why care about songs that peaked at # 40?
If you listen to enough songs that peaked between # 21 and 40 on the Billboard charts, you will find that there isn’t a big difference in quality. In fact, I would argue that the number of weeks that a song stays on the charts probably tells you more about it’s quality than how high it charted. But, it is called the Top FORTY. So, songs that peak at number forty ONE don’t make it. So, maybe that doesn’t sound all that important, except that there is another piece of historical trivia that get’s thrown around all of the time: One Hit Wonders. That means, literally, an artist that has exactly one song that reached the Top 40. When you read through the list of songs that peaked at number forty, you start to notice a trend. Many of them are one hit wonders. Therefore, for many artists, getting that lucky bump up from number forty one to number forty is an invitation to immortality. And if being a one-hit wonder isn’t that important, then how do you explain the fact that we all know this?
Highlights from this week’s selections
Six of the songs on this week’s shows were the final Top 40 hits for the artists. Some are by artists with many hits (Paul Davis, Eurythmics, Everly Brothers), while others are by artists who were certainly not ready to stop their hit-making potential (Jackie DeShannon, Delfonics, Melissa Etheridge).
Five of the songs on this week’s show are by artists who would have been included in that magical club of one-hit wonders if they wouldn’t have had this other song peak at #40 on the pop charts (Dickie Doo and the Don’ts, Digital Underground, El Chicano, Exile, and Fanny). I’m sure that at the time they were happy to have a hit, and probably thought it meant there would be more to come. Unfortunately, there weren’t, and this short-term gain kept them off of that historical one-hit wonder list.
One of my favorite parts of making these shows is finding new artists and songs I have never heard before. This week’s show contains two such artists, El Chicano and Fanny. I can’t believe I have never heard them before.
Fanny is the Artist of the Week.
El Chicano fall right in line with contemporary artist War, providing a nice mix of funk and soul with a Latino backdrop. Since discovering their #40 hit, “Tell Her She’s Lovely,” I’ve listened to other songs and they are all worth a listen. Based in LA, they recorded throughout the early-mid ’70s during a period that saw other artists like Santana and War bring Latino music to the pop charts. Although they aren’t as influential as either of those acts, they are one of the most successful Latino bands of that era. They certainly deserve to be discovered by War-fans like me who have missed out on years of listening to their music. Plus, their outfits are pretty groovy.
The tracks by The Delfonics, Eddie Floyd, and The Four Tops are not their most well-known, but they are still strong examples of the sound of soul as it evolved from the Motown/Stax sound of the mid-60s into the Stevie Wonder/Marvin Gaye sound of the ’70s. These are four songs that could have easily charted higher.
I’m always happy if I get to listen to some Dion. Here are some more well-known songs.
Artist of the Week: Fanny
Fanny were formed by sisters June and Jean Millington after moving from The Phillipines to Sacramanto, CA in 1961. They were the first all-female band to release an album on a major label, and recorded five albums before breaking up in 1975. They rejected the girl-group expectations of the time and focused instead on improving their musical ability and songwriting skills. Although pressured by their label to do so, they refused to exploit their sex appeal by dressing like other female acts of the era. They believed that rehearsing and live performance of their music would show that their gender was not an impediment to their ability to rock. They maintained that the only way to be taken seriously was to put on as great a show as possible and make the audience respect them for their talent. For this reason, they have been cited as an influence by The Go-Go’s, The Bangles, and The Runaways. Their first Top 40 hit was “Charity Ball.” By the time they had their second Top 40 hit five years later, “Butter Boy,” they had broken up.
Fanny started out as an all-female high school band called The Svelts, and then changed some members and became all-female band Wild Honey and moved to LA. By 1969, Wild Honey was ready to break up due to the lack of respect they were receiving in the male-dominated rock scene. Luckily for all, they were discovered by the secretary of producer Richard Perry while performing at what they thought would be their final performance. Perry was looking for an all-female rock band to mentor, and he was able to get them signed to Warner Brothers. They changed their name to Fanny in order to showcase their female spirit, and became the first all-female major label band and the most successful all-female band of the era.
After the band’s breakup, the various members have had success as solo artists, session musicians, touring musicians, songwriters, and producers. Most importantly, June Millington is the co-founder and artistic director of the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA) and is a Godmother of Women’s Music. Women’s music was ’70s code for music by lesbians, and the IMA is one of the foundational organizations in the progressive women’s music movement and continues to be a driving force for female rock musicians, including some of the original rock camps for girls, and is a leading force in the advancement of music in the LGBTQ community.
It is ridiculous that most people have never heard of this band. They were accepted more in the UK than in the US, although they were not very successful in either market. They were so far ahead of their time that in the end it led to their downfall. If I could go back and redo Radio Faux Show #32, they would be a highlight of that show. Since discovering them while compiling this week’s show, I have not stopped listening to their records, which are all available in a massive 90-song collection. They knock out covers like Cream’s “Badge” and The Beatles’ “Hey Bulldog” as if it is nothing, and their originals (the majority of their songs) move from Beatle’s White Album-period rock to Funk Brothers soul with ease. They are absolutely worthy of recognition as one of the best bands of the early ’70s. To quote David Bowie: They were extraordinary: they wrote everything, they played like motherfuckers, they were just colossal and wonderful, and nobody’s ever mentioned them. They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever; it just wasn’t their time.
Perfect timing – a critically-acclaimed documentary about Fanny is in select theaters right now!
Live from Beat Club, here is an entire setlist – thank you YouTube. Pure rock and roll influence on full display.
Happy Birthday (November 21)
Bjork was the lead singer for The Sugarcubes before going solo.
John “Rabbit” Bundrick is a keyboardist and session musician who worked with several artists, including The Who and Johnny Nash (he plays keyboards on “I Can See Clearly Now”). Most importantly, he was brought in to lay down keyboards on all of the tracks of the classic album Catch a Fire, and he was a principal musician for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Jacob Desvarieux was a French guitarist who founded the French Caribbean band Kassav in 1979. He died from Covid on July 30, 2021.
Fairuz is one of the most famous singers in the history of Arab pop music. She is a musical icon and is known as The Soul of Lebanon. She has been recording since the early ’50s, and almost every Arab radio station starts each day with one of her songs. She has recorded over 800 songs and sold over 150 million records.
Nick Gilder is a glam rocker who was a member of the band Sweeney Todd before going solo. His one-hit wonder “Hot Child in the City” is one of the last glam rock Top 40 hits.
Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan is a founding member of War. If you have read past Faux Show’s then you know how much I love War. The song “The Vision of Rassan” is the first track on the first Eric Burdon and War album, Eric Burdon Declares War, and is an homage to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, another of my favorites. It features the piano of Jordan throughout.
Kim Dong Wan was a founding member of the first-generation K-Pop boy band Shinhwa. He has released some solo albums, and was an actor in several popular K-Dramas.
Stax Records staff members Andrew Love and David Porter were both born on November 21, so you know they had some great birthday parties at the Stax studio back in the ’60s.
Andrew Love was a saxophonist for The Memphis Horns, the horn section for Stax Records. This group recorded for over thirty years and produced 83 gold and platinum records. including music by dozens of artists such as Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Wilson Pickett. They were foundational in the evolution of soul music in the ’60s.
David Porter is a recording artist and songwriter, and is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was the first staff songwriter at Stax Records, was a songwriting partner with Isaac Hayes, and his songs have sold over 400 million copies, including Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin” and “Soul Man.” He also had a brief solo career in the ’70s.
Alphonse Mouzon was a prolific jazz fusion drummer who worked with dozens of artists including Larry Coryell, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Stevie Wonder, and Miles Davis. He was even named by Robert Plant, during Led Zeppelin’s Rock Hall induction speech, as one of the band’s influences. Most importantly, he appeared in Faux-household favorite That Thing You Do.
Jean Shepard was a female country music pioneer who recorded 24 albums, charted 71 singles, and was an early member of the Grand Ole Opry. She followed Kitty Wells as one of the first successful female country artists in the early ’50s, and was the first female country artist to have a post-WWII million-selling single (a duet with Ferlin Husky called “A Dear John Letter”). This song was also one of the first Billboard crossover country/pop hits.
Livingston Taylor sounds like James Taylor, probably because they are brothers.
All of the theme-related songs
Nick Gilder “Hot Child in the City”
Livingston Taylor “I Will Be In Love With You”
2 for “Two”day
The Delfonics “You’ve Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine” and “Trying to Make a Fool of Me”
The Everly Brothers “Love of My Life” and “Bowling Green”
Valerie Broussard “Voyager”
Tai Verdes “Let’s Go To Hell”
Green Day “Holy Toledo!”
3 Chunks of Funk
El Chicano “Tell Her She’s Lovely”: This is a fine piece of funky soul from this influential, overlooked LA band.
David Porter “Grocery Man”: This is from one of Porter’s solo albums of the early ’70s.
Sam & Dave “The Good Runs the Bad Way”: Co-written by Memphis Horns saxophonist Andrew Love, this is one of the funkier Sam & Dave songs. It has that gut-bucket funk feel of label-mate Otis Redding’s best funk tracks.
Born to Sing Soul
Levi Stubbs and the three other Tops, Eddie Floyd, and Poogie Hart and the two other Delfonics were all fundamental in the transition from ’60s to ’70s soul music.
The Four Tops “Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)”: It isn’t one of their biggest hits, but any hit by The Four Tops sounds like a hit by The Four Tops.
Eddie Floyd “I’ve Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)”: Eddie Floyd wrote hits for other Stax artists, but his greatest achievement is the soul classic “Knock on Wood,” a song that has been recorded by over a hundred artists and was a Top 40 hit for three different acts including Floyd himself.
The Delfonics “Trying to Make a Fool of Me” and “You’ve Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine”: The Delfonics were the original Philly Soul band. They re-entered pop culture after the focus on their music in the film Jackie Brown.
Paul Davis “Love or Let Me Be Lonely”: This 1982 hit finds Paul Davis at the point when he should have already stopped. After helping define the yacht rock sound of the ’70s, this final Davis hit sounds way past its time. When this hit #40, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” was in the middle of its six-week run at # 1, about to be replaced by Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra.” The difference is that Steve Miller figured out how to rework his sound into a 1982 classic, while Davis was unsuccessfully trying to compete with Christopher Cross’ new take on the yacht rock sound.
Exile “You Thrill Me”: I’m going to be honest. This is one of the worst songs to make it on a Faux Show yet. If “Kiss You All Over” had not unbelievably been a #1 hit, I doubt this song could have hit # 40. It has almost no redeeming qualities. The hook is terrible, the vocals are weak, and the solo is a waste of tape.
Livingston Taylor “I Will Be In Love With You”: This is Taylor’s first of two hits. I know some people who like Livingston Taylor, but I’ve never been able to get past how much he tries to imitate his brother James, especially on his ’70s albums.
Let’s Take a Trip Around the World
Jacob Desvarieux “Euphrasine’s Blues”: This is the title track to Desvarieux’s solo album. He is best known as a member of the band Kassav. They are masters of the Caribbean music known as zouk.
Bjork “Army of Me”: This is from Bjork’s album Post.
Bob Marley and the Wailers “Stop That Train”: This song is from Catch a Fire, one of the records that made reggae an internationally known form of music.
Fairuz “Habaitak Ta Neseet Al Naoum”: Fairuz is a Lebanese musical icon.
Kim Dong Wan (featuring Danny Ahn) “My Friend”: Kim Dong Wan is a founding member of one of the first K-Pop boy bands, Shinhwa. They are the longest running boy band in K-Pop history, having been together for over twenty years. They are legends of the industry and looked up to by all current K-Pop artists.
Thanks for listening (and reading)!
|1||El Chicano||Tell Her She’s Lovely|
|2||David Porter||Grocery Man|
|3||Sam & Dave||The Good Runs The Bad Way|
|4||Bobby Darin||Nature Boy|
|5||Eurythmics||Don’t Ask Me Why|
|6||Nick Gilder||Hot Child In The City|
|8||Digital Underground||Kiss You Back|
|9||Larry Coryell||The Phonse|
|10||The Four Tops||Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)|
|11||Eddie Floyd||I’ve Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)|
|12||The Delfonics||Trying to Make a Fool of Me|
|13||The Delfonics||You’ve Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine|
|15||The Doobie Brothers||Sweet Maxine|
|16||Dicky Doo and the Don’ts||Ne Ne Na Na Nu Nu|
|17||Jackie DeShannon||Love Will Find a Way|
|18||Exile||You Thrill Me|
|19||Paul Davis||Love or Let Me Be Lonely|
|20||Livingston Taylor||I Will Be In Love With You|
|21||Gloria Estefan||I’m Not Giving You Up|
|22||Melissa Etheridge||Nowhere to Go|
|23||Tai Verdes||Let’s Go to Hell|
|24||Ronnie Dove||Say You|
|25||Dion & The Belmonts||Don’t Pity Me|
|26||Jean Shepard||If Teardrops Were Silver|
|27||The Everly Brothers||Bowling Green|
|28||The Everly Brothers||Love Of My Life|
|29||Eric Burdon and War||The Vision of Rassan Medley|
|30||Bob Marley and the Wailers||Stop That Train|
|31||Jacob Desvarieux||Euphrasine’s Blues|
|32||Fairuz||Habaitak Ta Neseet Al Naoum|
|33||Kim Dong Wan (featuring Danny Ahn of god)||My Friend|
|34||Bjork||Army of Me|
|35||Green Day||Holy Toledo!|
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