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Volume 9: The Finale Of Chuck Small’s “Who Sings It ?“

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In this final installment, we take a spin through the decade with a number of songs I initially heard on a K-tel or similar compilation.

I remember hearing the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Happy Day” on 20 Power Hits, Volume 2. (The “Volume 2” was in such a small point size that I didn’t even realize there was a Volume 1.)

Chi Coltrane’s “Thunder and Lightning” was on Ronco’s “Good Vibrations,” as was King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight.”

Jim Gilstrap’s “Swing Your Daddy” was on
K-tel’s Disco Mania.

And Fanny’s “Butter Boy” was on Sounds Spectacular.

Other tracks came to my attention in various ways.

David Shire’s instrumental “Manhattan Skyline” is from the monster soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.

Actress-singer Barbi Benton performed her single “Ain’t That Just the Way” on a few series in the mid-’70s: YouTube has this clip from the Mystery Movie series McCloud:

But I also remember her doing so on the short-lived sitcom Sugar Time! a couple of years later.

And there was no way of missing The Raspberries’ “Go All the Way.”

Not only was its powerful opening among the best of ’70s pop, the album on which it was featured smelled like raspberries. Long after the band had broken up and Eric Carmen was singing sad solo ballads, you could still catch a whiff of that debut LP.

Two artists who seemed destined for obscurity after their ’70s spotlight on AT40 broke out in a big way in the next decade:

One as a recording artist, and the other as Casey Kasem’s countdown rival.

“Love Really Hurts Without You” brought the name Billy Ocean to the U.S. in 1976.

But it would be eight years before he would come back in a major way with “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run).” That No. 1 smash would kick off a string of hits in the ’80s for the Trinidad-born singer.

And while the novelty No. 1 “Disco Duck” marked Rick Dees’ only time in a countdown as a performer…

… he went on to establish the Weekly Top 40 show that eventually became the leading countdown series when Kasem left AT40 in 1988. (Neither Shadoe Stevens’ version of AT40 nor Kasem’s own Casey’s Top 40 proved as popular as Dees’ show in that time frame.)

Wolfman Jack had an odd run as a guest on several Top 40 singles in the mid-’70s.

The Guess Who’s Top 10 “Clap for the Wolfman” in 1974 would be the most notable.  But he also appeared on the Stampeders’ No. 40 remake of “Hit the Road, Jack.”

And in 1976, he guested on Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids’ “Did You Boogie (With Your Baby).” The Spotify version omits Jack’s voice; here’s the original 45, courtesy of YouTube:

Although “Lady Bump,” Silver Convention singer Penny McLean’s solo outing, missed the Top 40, it did become part of a hit medley.

The Ritchie Family’s “Best Disco in Town” features a cover snippet of the song’s chorus (it’s on side two of the 45, between “That’s the Way I Like It” and “Express”).

Thanks for joining me on this journey through a decade’s obscurities.

Here’s the Spotify link for this final set:

What ones do you love?

What ones do you hate?

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Chuck Small

Journalist-turned-high school counselor. Happily ensconced in Raleigh, N.C., with hubby of 31 years (9 legal).

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rollerboogie
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February 6, 2024 7:22 am

I knew 12 of these and I could have named the artist for 10. Black gospel songs weren’t known to crack the pop charts so “O Happy Day” getting up to #4 is pretty amazing. “O-o-h Child” is a stone cold classic. Chicago pride! I remember reading how The Five Stairsteps got their name. They were all siblings and their mom used to say they looked like stairsteps when lined up together, because of their different heights.

We won’t talk about “Disco Duck”.

It was nice to see “Manhattan Skyline” on the list. Most of the instrumentals off of the SNF soundtrack get overshadowed but there are some great ones. I really like K-Jee by MFSB.

It was fun taking this trip with you, Chuck.

Last edited 14 days ago by rollerboogie
Ozmoe
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February 6, 2024 9:53 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

K-Jee is fantastic. One of my favorite instrumentals to hear anytime anywhere.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2024 7:32 am

Today I learned that the Golden Girls were really Andrew Gold girls.

5 songs known. 6 including “Ooh Child,” but I only knew Nina Simone’s version (and the sample that appears in Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up”). Of those 5, no known artists.

I am usually a fan of dumb novelty tracks, but “Disco Duck” is asking a lot of me. And this is coming from someone who actually enjoy “The Laughing Gnome.”

mt58
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mt58
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February 6, 2024 7:49 am

In our never ending quest to find something nice to say about everything, I always try to consider the production value of “Disco Duck.”

Talk about punching above your weight. The horns were very well done, and whoever the session bass player was, they kept it tight and fun, while paying tribute to the octave step-ups that were de rigueur in 1978.

On the negative side: his impossibly perfect hair always annoyed the heck out of me. You’ve got that correct: I was jealous of a DJ.

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2024 8:05 am
Reply to  mt58

I prefer my ducks inoculated:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWwbE9DkT8I

rollerboogie
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rollerboogie
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February 6, 2024 8:32 am
Reply to  mt58

You’re not wrong about any of that (who am I to argue with an octave bass line), but are we possibly getting into “polishing a turd” territory here?

JJ Live At Leeds
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February 6, 2024 8:25 am

Dancing In The Moonlight brings back bad memories of Toploader who were unavoidable in Britain in 2000 with their version of this and a triple platinum album but fortunately (for me) quickly disappeared.

Brian Hyland brings back bad memories of Bombalurina – really children’s TV entertainer Timmy Mallett – who had a #1 with their version in 1990. WARNING: do not watch unless you have a strong constitution and want the most inane earworms running through your head all day.

Thankfully there’s Stealers Wheel and Edwin Hawkins Singers (not Edwin Starr as I first typed) to wash all that away.

Disco Duck was before my time so that just brings back good memories of people disparaging it here and at SG.

https://youtu.be/VIwUhrbXUbo?feature=shared

Virgindog
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February 6, 2024 9:17 am

Fanny! I’ve mentioned here before that they were my first concert so I always perk up when I see them.

“Go All The Way” is my go-to example of tight, pop, songwriting. It starts with the monster, memorable, guitar riff and repeats it throughout the song. Each verse is only one line long and then it goes to the hook. Talk about “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus!”

My only quibble is that going from the bridge to the chorus is a bit of a mistake. The bridge builds up a lot of energy so the chorus, great as it is, feels like a letdown. It should have gone to a strong guitar solo or something.

Nice job, Chuck. Sorry to see this series come to an end but I’m sure you’ve got something great still in the tank.

Aaron3000
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February 11, 2024 4:11 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

I also always perk up when I see fanny! (Ok, someone had to say it.) 😊

Pauly Steyreen
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February 6, 2024 9:37 am

Every Tarantino fan knows Stealer’s Wheel, though I’m quite sure I didn’t have a clue before I saw Reservoir Dogs.

Thank you Chuck, this has been a fun series!

Phylum of Alexandria
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February 6, 2024 2:17 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

I always get a pang of terror from that song thanks to Reservoir Dogs. But I still never remember the artist, despite Steven Wright’s helpful DJ banter.

stobgopper
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February 6, 2024 3:00 pm

K-Tel’s ’20 Power Hits, Vol. 2.’ My first album. Played it to death. Here’s the cover. I still have it, 50+ years later. I don’t currently have a record player, so have no idea how it sounds today. Thanks for opening the memory vault, CS.

IMG_1330
sieglinde
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February 6, 2024 7:32 pm
Reply to  stobgopper

I believe I once owned this album. Along with a 45 of Thunder & Lightning. Thx for letting me relive grade 6.

Ozmoe
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February 6, 2024 9:55 pm
Reply to  stobgopper

I too have a copy of this album and have kept it because … some reason I can’t remember now.

blu_cheez
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February 6, 2024 3:23 pm

Hmm… recognized seven artists this time, but only three songs (one of which, unfortunately, is “Disco Duck”).

This was a really fun series – thanks so much!

Ozmoe
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Ozmoe
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February 6, 2024 9:56 pm

Jim Gilstrap does have a Number One connection: He’s the male voice you hear singing at the beginning of “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” before Stevie Wonder takes over.

LinkCrawford
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February 7, 2024 12:34 pm

I knew 10 of these (and a few more by title alone). My most recent discovery of the list is “Manhattan Skyline”, which I really like.

Low4
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February 7, 2024 5:25 pm

O-o-h Child was my theme song during the Coronapocalypse. Also, Fanny were a great band of their era. Their cover of Hey Bulldog did the Beatles proud.

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