Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Song #389: "Every Time I Think Of You"--The Babys (1978)

Before John Waite drove me up the wall with "Missing You" in the 1980's, he fronted the 1970's band, "The Babys", who had some good singles and, frankly, didn't get enough credit from them. They made songs that, while they were on the radio, people were constantly saying, "Hey, that's a great song. Who sings it?"

For our countdown, it came down to "Isn't It Time", "Back On My Feet Again", and today's song. The tipping point is the driving chorus vocals and what is, in my opinion, a fantastic vocal finish in the fade.

Recorded in 1978, but released as a single in early 1979, here's Waite and Company's contribution to our musical journey.....

Monday, May 30, 2016

Song #390: "A Thousand Miles"--Vanessa Carlton (2002)

Not a bad debut single for a then 20-year old singer from Milford, Pennsylvania, who began writing the song four years earlier and then suffered from something I totally understand: writers block.

She had the piano riff, and more came several months later. And, in early 2002, we were all the beneficiary as it became her debut single, and her best charting single to date.

It's simply a beautiful song, capturing the essence of how one can truly miss someone even during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The video helps, too.  I'll let it do the talking.  :)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Song #391: "Let's Go Crazy"--Prince and The Revolution (1984)

The Summer of 1984 was unlike any other summer I've ever had.

It began with my Dad having settled in at Sheltering Arms Hospital (in its original location) for rehabilitation, nearly a month after his brain surgery and subsequent seizure. I finished, after nine months, my first job at the Beaverdam Quik Stop (which lives on to this day, though it's sister feed store did not. I worked at both...), and got ready to travel to three different events in six weeks.

I offered to stay home and help out, but, I give great credit to my stepmom who said I should proceed with my schedule. Two of the three events were "once in a lifetime" opportunities. The first week I attended American Legion "Boys State" at Lynchburg College. I won their public speaking contest and got to present the speech on closing night. That was my first time speaking to well over a thousand people live.

Following a week at our church camp, Camp Accovac up in Millboro Springs, it was off to Mary Washington College (as it was named at the time) for four weeks at The Governors School for The Gifted and Talented. Two Saturdays in a row, including on my 17th birthday, I'd come home, wash clothes, go visit Dad, then head off to the next adventure.

I arrived in Fredericksburg July 1st, having no idea just how impactful those four weeks would be. The lessons, experiences, opportunities and friendships I made have lasted now for 32 years, many reborn in this age of social media.

Each year, Governor's School, being in the era of the real MTV, would create a music video to highlight our tenure there. At the time, "Purple Rain" from Prince and The Revolution was all the rage. In fact, the only time Michael Jackson came up in conversation that month instead of Prince was when we recalled Jackson's hair catching fire on a Pepsi commercial shoot several months earlier. MJ was so "1983".

So, our video was done to today's song. I still have a copy of the VHS recording, though it works poorly after all these years. A classmate had a better copy, put it on our Facebook page when it was developed several years back, only to see it muted. As you may know, Prince did not let his music proliferate on YouTube and elsewhere.

But, for now, we have a copy to listen to on YouTube at the screen below. Whenever I hear the opening strain to this song, I'm immediately transported to July, 1984, watching the great Fred Campbell exiting an elevator with guitar in hand to mimic the crazy ending of a song that perfectly encapsulated the group that invaded Mary Washington for four unforgettable weeks back in that crazy summer.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Song #392: "Cool Change"--Little River Band (1979)

We first heard "LRB" in 1975 with a minor hit, "It's A Long Way There", an eight plus minute extravaganza. Two years later, "Help Is On Its Way" solidified the Little River Band on the American music scene.

Then, in 1979, the release of "First Under The Wire". On the heels of 1978 hits "Lady" and "Reminiscing", the group was on a roll. And while we may focus later on the first single from this LP, today we salute the second single, which came out in the latter portion of 1979, peaking in the Billboard Hot 100 at #10 early in 1980. (It's amazing how much good music was coming through at this time as we transitioned out of disco, and into both new wave and the "Urban Cowboy" country craze...)

I'm scared of the water, you can't get me on a boat. Except one time, on a small craft helping out on a weekend youth retreat on the Chesapeake Bay back in 1991. I was petrified every moment I was on that boat. If I ever got over that fear (and maybe learned to swim), the first thing I'd do is get on a craft and play this song at full blast.  :)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Song #393: "Mexico"--James Taylor (1975)

When you think of 1975 and James Taylor, and you're either his fan or a fan of popular music history, the song which immediately comes to mind is "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", which was a smash hit, reaching the top of the charts.

His follow-up single from the "Gorilla" LP wasn't so successful on the charts, but still makes most of the compilation CD's released in subsequent years. I take this song, which you don't hear on the radio like you do the other song mentioned. But this one always stuck with me; I find it easy to sing to, love the chorus especially. Another song I'd sing in the car or shower without ANY human interaction. :)

Enjoy the second song from Sweet Baby James in our Top 500.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Song #394: "Can You Read My Mind"--Maureen McGovern (1978)

This is the first of multiple appearances from, honestly, one of the best female singers of her generation, who, unfortunately, is only known to most people as "the lady who sang all the disaster songs".

There were just two, really, from Irwin Allen films, and we may discuss them at another point (hint, hint), but this song, connected obviously to the 1978 release of "Superman", ended up not making the soundtrack, though it does appear on a 2000 two-disc set. As you see below, the single made the connection.

McGovern went on to have a career on Broadway and other musical theater, recording more albums, especially in the 1990's. You may have seen her a time or two performing on Labor Day on the former Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.

This song sends shivers for me, wonderfully done. And we'll get more from Maureen as the countdown continues.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Song #395: "Pick Up The Pieces"--Average White Band (1974)

When you think of groove music in the mid-1970's, this song has to be near, or at, the forefront. In reality, though, it's a timeless classic and will get any generation up on the dance floor anywhere, anytime, except maybe at that hardcore country wedding reception.  :)

Man, I loved this song back in the day, and it has never lost its appeal. Enjoy a little mid-week groove from the Average White Band, their only number one hit. The album cover, on the other hand, ah, certainly from the Seventies.....

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Song #396: "Got To Get You Into My Life"--The Beatles (1966)

I fully admit to being late to the Beatles party.

But, it's not my fault. Being born in the Summer of 1967, there wasn't a lot of time left in their reign as king of music in the 1960's. So, rather, my discovery of the Beatles came from this little two-record set below:

This set came out in June, 1976 as I was finishing up the third grade. That summer was filled with Bicentennial stuff, including my first taste of "Cherry Cola Slurpees", and a new wave of Beatles nostalgia. Paul McCartney and Wings were hot at the time (in fact they kept this album from topping the charts, peaking at #2), and overall there was still a prevalent sense of hope that, one day, "The Beatles Reunion" would occur.

To promote this release, Capitol Records made today's song the single from the LP (with "Helter Skelter" as the B-side, not long from the debut of CBS' mini-series of the same name based on the Charles Manson murders), so this song was really my "introduction" to the Beatles. Had I heard some of their songs before? Yes, but after this one, and then listening to both LP's, I became immersed in them.

It's the second Beatles tune to crack our Top 500.....and there will be more. Interestingly, the version from this release isn't on YouTube, so let's enjoy McCartney's rendition at the White House several years back instead.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Song #397: "Calling All Angels"--Train (2003)

And now for just the fifth song in our countdown from the 21st Century, out of the 104 released so far.

This tune came at me from multiple directions: in the car with Bonnie and the kids when we were all actually together doing something, usually driving to and from church on Sundays up and down I-295. I inevitably would hear it at work as it became a staple on Lite 98. It took awhile for it to become one I'd look up on the computer and listen to during my many late nights processing production orders in the cubicle.

But it's ending certainly gave me some hope during a period of a few years when, after the death of my Mama, I, frankly, wasn't seeing a lot of hope. I'm so glad those days are far behind.  :)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Song #398: "Wrap Her Up"--Elton John with George Michael (1985)

Before they left their mark together on adult contemporary radio in 1991 with the release of a live version of Elton's classic "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" fronted by Michael and featuring John, this pair of Brits, made for collaboration, got together six years earlier to create this gem, a salute to some of the classiest ladies of the Twentieth Century.

Anyone that can get Nancy Reagan, Princess Caroline of Monaco and Marilyn Monroe in the same song as Dusty Springfield, Julie Andrews, and Little Eva is okay by my book.

Great chorus, super dance beat, and the extended version is highly recommended to fully enjoy the "roll call" near the song's end. This is Elton's second appearance in the countdown, and the only entry featuring Michael. The closest song for Wham!, interestingly was "Edge of Heaven" by a razor thin margin over "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", but, sadly, neither will appear.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Song #399: "Gone At Last"--Paul Simon, Phoebe Snow & The Jessy Dixon Singers (1975)

Everything about this song just screams "classic gospel tune". Paul Simon shows yet another part of his vast talent, Phoebe Snow's vocal play off Simon's in absolute marvelous fashion. Then add the late, great Jessy Dixon's contributions, and the piano. Oh, that piano.

No matter how you feel, or where you are in life right now, you cannot hear this song and not finish it feeling, at the very least, a bit lifted from where you were three and a half minutes earlier. Whatever your issue is this day, my prayer is that, soon, it will be gone at last.  :)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Song #400: "Flirtin' With Disaster"--Molly Hatchet (1979) AND Songs 401-500

The title track from this Southern Rock band's second LP, released in September, 1979, this song enjoyed some success on the Hot 100 in early 1980. But its more important contribution to its genre has been its long, long shelf life on classic rock radio in the decades since.

As opposed to other Southern Rock songs that seem worn out now, this song hasn't been overplayed, so, when the opening riff comes on your radio, it brings a smile, and usually a reflex of the right hand heading to turn up the volume.  :)

Plus, the jam on the bridge to the final chorus is an absolute classic.

Enjoy the song below, then check out, in case you've joined us late or missed anything, the first one hundred songs from The Rob Witham 500, a look at my 500 favorite songs culminating in revealing my favorite song of all on my 50th birthday, June 23, 2017.  :)

401) Dreamer (Live)--Supertramp (1980)
402) If Anyone Falls--Stevie Nicks (1983)
403) I Can See For Miles--The Who (1967)
404) Year Of The Cat--Al Stewart (1976)
405) Right Down The Line--Gerry Rafferty (1978)
406) Rockin’ Down The Highway--Doobie Brothers (1972)
407) Come Monday--Jimmy Buffett (1974)
408) Girls With Guns--Tommy Shaw (1984)
409) Luck Be A Lady--Frank Sinatra (1965)
410) Brand New Lover--Dead Or Alive (1986)
411) She Sheila--The Producers (1982)
412) 157 Riverside Avenue--REO Speedwagon (1971)
413) You Don’t Want Me Anymore--Steel Breeze (1982)
414) Special Lady--Ray, Goodman & Brown (1980)
415) Wasted On The Way--Crosby, Stills, & Nash (1982)
416) It’s All Been Done--Barenaked Ladies (1998)
417) Kung Fu Fighting--Carl Douglas (1974)
418) This Time I Know It’s For Real--Donna Summer (1989)
419) Turn To Stone--Electric Light Orchestra (1977)
420) I Know It’s Today--Shrek: The Musical (Aly Campana, Anna Houtz, Lainie Cole, Glen Allen High School, 2015)
421) I Only Have Eyes For You--Original, 1934, Art Garfunkel (1975)
422) Lotta Love--Nicolette Larson (1978)
423) Give Blood--Pete Townshend (1985)
424) Party Up--Hilary Duff (2003)
425) Heartbreaker--Dionne Warwick (1982)
426) Philadelphia Freedom--Elton John (1975)
427) No Way Out--Jefferson Starship (1984)
428) Suite: Judy Blue Eyes: Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
429) Anything For Love--Gordon Lightfoot (1986)
430) I’m Goin’ Down--Bruce Springsteen (1984)
431) Christmas Dinner, Country Style--Bing Crosby (1963)
432) Pop Muzik--M (1979)
433) I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo--Glenn Miller, Tex Beneke & The Modernaires (1942)
434) If She Would Have Been Faithful--Chicago (1987)
435) Head Over Heels--Tears For Fears (1985)
436) My Little Town--Simon & Garfunkel (1975)
437) It Can Happen--Yes (1983)
438) All Those Years Ago--George Harrison (1981)
439) Nights On Broadway--Bee Gees (1975)
440) Gramercy Park Hotel--Edwin McCain (2006)
441) City’s Burnin’--Heart (1982)
442) Not Enough Love In The World--Don Henley (1985)
443) Forever Man--Eric Clapton (1985)
444) Una Paloma Blanca--George Baker Selection (1976)
445) Thumbelina--The Pretenders (1984)
446) Heavy Metal--Don Felder (1981)
447) Radio Free Europe--REM (1982)
448) Celtic Soul Brothers--Dexys Midnight Runners (1982)
449) Beautiful Stranger--Madonna (1999)
450) In Your Room--The Bangles (1988)
451) Long Long Way To Go--Phil Collins (1985)
452) Talk To Ya Later--The Tubes (1981)
453) Twlight--ELO (1981)
454) I’m The Only One--The Go-Go’s (1984)
455) I Go To Extremes--Billy Joel (1989)
456) Prisoner of Love--Pat Benatar (1980)
457) A Taste of Honey--Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass (1965)
458) Knowing Me, Knowing You--Abba (1977)
459) Rock Me Jerry Lewis--Mike Elliott and Bud LaTour (1986)
460) It Keeps You Runnin’--The Doobie Brothers (1976)
461) Ballroom Dancing--Paul McCartney (1982)
462) The Hard Way--The Knack (1980)
463) Can't Buy Me Love--The Beatles (1964)
464) If You Leave--OMD (1986)
465) Love's Theme--The Love Unlimited Orchestra (1973)
466) Up On The Roof--James Taylor (1979)
467) Beat Of A Heart--Scandal (1984)
468) I've Seen All Good People--Yes (1971)
469) Nightlife--Foreigner (1981)
470) Magnet and Steel--Walter Egan (1978)
471) 99--Toto (1980)
472) Dirty Laundry--Don Henley (1982)
473) Laughter In The Rain--Neil Sedaka (1975)
474) Travelin' Man--Dolly Parton (1973)
475) The Old Songs--Barry Manilow (1981)
476) Don't Cross The River--America (1972)
477) Press Your Luck Theme--(1983)
478) Harry Truman--Chicago (1975)
479) Why Me?--Styx (1979)
480) Beautiful Girls--Van Halen (1979)
481) We Live For Love--Pat Benatar (1980)
482) Kentucky Woman--Neil Diamond (1967)
483) Leave A Light On--Belinda Carlisle (1989)
484) Listen To What The Man Said--Paul McCartney & Wings (1975)
485) Be Good, Johnny--Men At Work (1982)
486) Paradox--Kansas (1977)
487) Streetcorner Symphony--Rob Thomas (2006)
488) The NBC Sports Theme (1979-1981)
489) Lucinda--The Knack (1979)
490) Space Age Love Song--A Flock of Seagulls (1982)
491) Turn It On Again--Genesis (1980)
492) Flamethrower--J. Geils Band (1981)
493) Feelin' Satisfied--Boston (1978)
494) Canary In A Coalmine--The Police (1980)
495) Love Has No Pride--Linda Ronstadt (1973)
496) Another Tricky Day--The Who (1981)
497) I'm Gonna Love You, Too--Blondie (1978)
498) Whenever I Call You Friend--Kenny Loggins w/Stevie Nicks (1978)
499) Midnight Flyer--The Eagles (1974)
500) What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)--Information Society (1988)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Song #401: "Dreamer (Live)"--Supertramp (1980)

Coming off the wild success of their 1979 LP "Breakfast In America", which I proudly owned, Supertramp, the next year, released a live album, "Paris".

The group featured many of their greats from the seventies as the eighties dawned, and one of them outshined, in my view, its original version. This song debuted on their "Crime of The Century" release in 1974 and charted well in their homeland, the United Kingdom. Their record company opted to release the live version from "Paris" here in America in September of 1980, and it cracked the Top 20.

We'll hear a selection (or two?) from that "Breakfast In America" album down the road, but for now, enjoy this little ditty that brings us twenty percent of the way down our countdown road. 100 songs revealed, 400 songs to go! We'll post songs 400-500 tomorrow.  :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Song #402: "If Anyone Falls"--Stevie Nicks (1983)

From her most successful solo release, the Fleetwood Mac vocalist makes an appearance in our countdown. As summer ended and my junior year of high school got underway at good ol' Patrick Henry, Nicks released this song to radio, the follow-up single to the summer smash, "Stand Back".

I've always loved the hard-driving open, and, while some of the verse may be a little hard to sing along with, the chorus is definitely not. Rooftop open, windows down, driving a back road kind of sing loud. :)

It came down to this song and Stevie's great 1981 duet with Tom Petty, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" for a spot in the 500, and, in a very close call, "If Anyone Falls" gets the nod.

(COMING FRIDAY: We'll list the first 100 songs as our countdown reaches its first major milestone!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Song #403: "I Can See For Miles"--The Who (1967)

Today's song brings back a very specific memory, one that carries a myriad of emotions.

On August 14, 1999, I was happily a stay-at-home Dad, minister, and, not so happily, still delivering newspapers every morning. I had no intention of changing any....er.....most of that anytime soon.

I had no idea that, a little over a month later, my dream job would appear in the Sunday paper. WRVA Radio was hiring.

On August 14, 2000, nine months after becoming Continuity/Production Director for WRVA, WRNL and the Virginia News Network, I and the rest of our staff got the absolutely jarring news that our leader, and Program Director, Tim Farley, had been let go. We were on the verge of making the horrible mistake of moving from the iconic Church Hill location that had been the station's home since it opened in 1968. That's Clear Channel....er.....iHeartMedia for you. Strip assets, don't understand your markets, your people.....well, that's for another time. The dismantling of WRVA had begun.

Farley was one of the people who influenced my 30-year radio journey, most notably by his consistency and creativity. In the Summer of 2000, he had produced a series of promos for our traffic reports (still done by helicopter at the time) and weather, using classic tunes as the large body of the promo, One great one was using "Tired Of Waiting For You" by The Kinks, using the chorus with a small outcue at the end: "Helicopter traffic reports. NewsRadio WRVA 1140". Simple premise, fantastic result.

So, in the days after his departure, when I found myself, for two weeks, putting up the daily mail and making sure announcers were scheduled for weekend shifts (yes, me, go figure....), I put together a quick traffic promo to honor my boss, by replacing The Kinks with The Who, and adding a little clip of Whit Baldwin reporting from the copter near the ending statement.

I already liked this song, a lot, but now, almost 16 years later, it gives me a great memory, albeit tinged with sadness, at a nine-month period in my life that was simply golden. Me, on the same hill, in the same building as Farley, Lou Dean, Tim Timberlake, John Harding, Bob Black, "Big Al" Coleman, Jerry Lund, et al? Are you kidding?

Thanks God, for making a dream come true. From my eight years at the company, I choose to fondly remember this slice of heaven. :)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Song #404: "Year Of The Cat"--Al Stewart (1976)

The decade of the 1970's produced so many unique forms of popular music. Look at any one week Billboard Hot 100 chart and you'll find pop, rock, southern rock, rhythm and blues, soul, country and more.

You'll also find a group a number of artists who really had a sound all their own. For example, does anyone other than Steely Dan really sound like Steely Dan? No.

There were also vocalists who achieved this status as well, like Gary Wright, Henry Gross with his hit "Shannon", and who could ever forget the forlorn, make you cry catalog of David Geddes.

Along that vein, welcome Al Stewart, a man who apparently didn't care if the edict of the day was no song over four minutes could play on Top 40 radio. Yes, today's song did have a radio edited version, but it, as many of them were back in the day, was disjointed. At least radio let you have four minutes by this time. In the 1960's, you were lucky to get 2:30.

From the beautiful piano open, the sweet sounds of the saxophone, it's a great mesh of folk, jazz, synthesizer and more. Pop music from 40 years ago. A Peter Lorre reference. Hard to beat.

His "Song On The Radio" just missed our countdown, so enjoy Al's contribution to the Rob Witham 500.  :)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Song #405: "Right Down The Line"--Gerry Rafferty (1978)

First known as the voice of "Stealers Wheel", Rafferty broke out onto his own as a solo artist, hitting it big with "Baker Street" earlier in 1978.

And, while that song didn't make our countdown, four of Rafferty's did, beginning with this follow-up single from '78, the only one that reached #1 on a U.S. chart, the adult contemporary. It was his second biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (the one Casey Kasem used on American Top 40).

When I think of late 1970's music and radio, one of the first people to come to mind is Gerry Rafferty. I simply loved his music. More from him, later (hint, hint), in our stroll down memory lane.  :)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Song #406: "Rockin' Down The Highway"--The Doobie Brothers (1972)

It was hard to shave down songs from certain artists for this countdown. Certainly, The Moody Blues was my most difficult, but other groups, too, such as The Beatles, ABBA, Genesis, and, yes, definitely The Doobie Brothers.

Did you know that this gem of a song, which still occasionally populates classic rock radio today, comes from the same LP as "Listen To The Music" and "Jesus Is Just Alright"?  Three songs worthy of a spot in our countdown.

I can say, for now, that one of them made it. Here's the second entry in the Rob Witham 500 from a group that helped define the landmark musical decade that was the 1970's.  :)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Song #407: "Come Monday"--Jimmy Buffett (1974)

For all the "fun" and "party" songs that Jimmy Buffett is known for, my first memory of him was this song, which I first heard on WRVA back in 1974.

Then I heard it a lot more as this was one of my brother's BIG favorite songs back in the day. Ah, the days of recording a song off portable radio onto portable cassette recorders, my brother looking at me with the index finger over the hushed mouth, reminding the mouthy little brother not to say a word for the next 3:07.  :) :)

Those were GOOD times, and this is a great song from that wonderful era. More Jimmy to come as the countdown continues.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Song #408: "Girls With Guns"--Tommy Shaw (1984)

A year after the final real hit from Styx, it was time for guitarist and vocalist Tommy Shaw to try one of his own.

The result was the LP "Girls With Guns", whose title track met with great success on rock radio, and briefly hit the Top 40. From late fall 1984, in my senior year of high school, comes some typical hard-driving, mid-1980's rock and roll.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Song #409: "Luck Be A Lady"--Frank Sinatra (1965)

Originally written for the Broadway musical "Guys and Dolls", which opened in 1950, Frank Sinatra put his indelible touch on this classic tune, but it took another 15 years for that to happen.

It was Robert Alda, son of the M*A*S*H star Alan Alda, who introduced the world to this song when it debuted on The Great White Way. Hollywood put its spin on it five years later, but the role of Sky Masterson went to Marlon Brando, not Sinatra.

Thus, it would be another decade before Sinatra, his Rat Pack and other friends, would create the Reprise Repertory Theatre, and would re-do entire Broadway musical scores. One of them was "Guys and Dolls", and, finally, Frank had his shot at recording Luck Be A Lady.

In a typical, and deft, Sinatra move, he about halved the tempo of the tune, and suddenly, Luck Be A Lady was "Sinatra-Fied". The orchestration is incredible, and Frank, well, he's Frank.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Song #410: "Brand New Lover"--Dead Or Alive (1986)

Just before we experienced the craziest baseball postseason in Major League history, and while I was producing lots of Boston Red Sox games on WUPE-FM in Pittsfield, out came a new album from Britain's Dead Or Alive, who achieved fame with "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" 18 months previously.

Dear Or Alive are one of many mid to late 80's groups that fit a certain mold, with the "electro" sound, 12 inch remixes galore and the like. Hearken back to Information Society, who had the very first song in our countdown, Baltimora, Level 42, just to name a few.

It's a shame, though, that the song is looking for cheap, non-committal "relationships". The grass isn't always greener on that other side. But it's a great jam, especially on the interstate highway.  :)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Song #411: "She Sheila"--The Producers (1982)

First brought to my attention in 1981 with another song (will we see it later?), we welcome The Producers to the first of two appearances (oops, gave it away!) in our countdown.

The song did better on mainstream rock radio than at CHR, in fact, it didn't make the Top 40, which is hard to believe. Here's another song that could juice up today's classic hits radio format, again, replacing the 100th airing of "I Love Rock and Roll" or "Eye Of The Tiger", neither of which made this list. It was, however, this group's biggest contribution to MTV.

In fact, quite a few songs missed the list that would have easily made it years ago due to "overplay fatigue", but that's another post for another time before June 23, 2017.

For now, enjoy one of Atlanta's contributions to the great 1980's music scene!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Song #412: "157 Riverside Avenue"--REO Speedwagon (1971)

I used to have some very special weekends in my late elementary and early junior high school days. That's what happens when you have a cool older brother. :)

So, I spent lots of time listening to his extensive record collection, which led me to discover this gem. Originally just a four minute song on their 1971 debut release, this tune took on a life of its own at REO Speedwagon concerts. A seven-plus minute version appeared on the "You Get What You Play For" live release in 1977, but the real gem, a 12-plus minute extravaganza, came out on a compilation album in 1980.

And that's the version I grew to love. I cannot begin to fathom how many times I jammed to this song. We, unfortunately, do have a dirty word alert, and, yes, I'm not so vain to where I can't publicly admit that, at age 12, I didn't understand all the blatantly sexual references going on. I just loved the interaction between Kevin and Gary.....and Gary's guitar. And the music. From this first note, it has "jam" written all over it.

If you've never heard it, invest 12 minutes. You'll either be transported back to the 1970's, or get a taste of what they were like, if you're still a youngster in this world.  :)

P.S.--This is NOT the longest song in the Rob Witham 500.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Song #413: "You Don't Want Me Anymore"--Steel Breeze (1982)

At the tail end of a memorable summer of music in 1982, and just as I began my three-year stint at Patrick Henry High School, excited, yet scared out of my wits, on comes Steel Breeze on the radio with their one and only hit.

The start of the song immediately grabs your attention, and, like yesterday's entry, it's fun to sing in the car. Alone. Which I couldn't do yet because I was only 15. So it was more like sing it loud in the early morning at home before school since I was the last to leave, by about two hours. The advantage of living in a brick house in the country is that you could blast a stereo, and only the birds in the two small trees in our yard could hear the music. :)

This countdown is reminding me of some of the great summers of music we got to enjoy growing up, for those of you with me in the age department, including 1979, 1981, and this year, 1982.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Song #414: "Special Lady"--Ray, Goodman, and Brown (1980)

We turned the calendar to a new decade (I remember New Year's Eve 1979 distinctly, since I had never remembered a decade changing before, being only 2 1/2 in 1969), and the 13th Winter Olympics were approaching in Lake Placid when this tune first hit the radio in late January of 1980.

I am HUGE on harmony, so it didn't take long for me to get into this song, plus, the interaction between the guys during the open and near the end is priceless.  This is a song I only dream about singing well, but will belt it out in my car. Alone.  :) :)

Now, click the video, and bring up the bass a little bit.  :)

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Song #415: "Wasted On The Way"--Crosby, Stills and Nash (1982)

It was one of the more surprising hits of the Summer of 1982, and very pleasantly so! Several 1970's acts such as America and Steve Miller enjoyed a return to Top 40 action back then, and so did Crosby, Stills and Nash.

This song, which features some background work by Timothy B. Schmitt of the Eagles, peaked at #9 just as I began my first year at Patrick Henry (10th grade).

Two songs down, and one to go, later on, for this group as our countdown rolls on. Can you believe we're getting close to the 20 percent mark already??

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Song #416: "It's All Been Done"--Barenaked Ladies (1998)

Going back to the latter years of my newspaper route, I would occasionally flip over to, then, B103.7 and catch some of Bender and Jackie's morning show, usually at the tail end of the route, on my way home to prep for a day of taking care of the kids, working on church things, and the like.

In early 1999, this single was released, and, as opposed to the group's first single from their CD of the time, "One Week", which summarily drove me up the closest wall, this tune immediately caught my attention. Anybody who can weave being a contestant on The Price Is Right in the year 2981 deserves a shot.

And, in the end, they make their lone countdown appearance with one of the rare 1990's tunes to make the list.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Song #417: "Kung Fu Fighting"--Carl Douglas (1974)

Remember K-Tel?

Of course, you do!  If you are at least, ahem, a certain age, of course.

In late 1974, it was this song appearing on the K-Tel record "Out Of Sight" on a television commercial that had me searching for coins underneath couch cushions, doing whatever I could to collect $4.99 so I could get my hands on this album, which would be the first one I had ever owned.

Though I didn't really watch the show, I later proudly took my "Kung Fu" lunch box to school as well. This was one of the first songs I really went ga-ga over, and, though its sheen has lost some glisten over the decades, I still have a special place in my heart for Carl Douglas' masterpiece, made in the last ten minutes of a recording session as an afterthought, until someone at the record company said, make it the Side A song.

Good decision, it went number one around the world and sold eleven million copies. :)

Monday, May 02, 2016

Song #418: "This Time I Know It's For Real"--Donna Summer (1989)

This tune, the first of two on the countdown from the late Donna Summer, reminds me of the early days of my fourteen-year odyssey with a morning newspaper route.

Begun to help a financially struggling Bonnie and Rob in the first year of marriage (sound familiar most everyone?), what we thought would be a six-month gig became a 173-month gig, finally coming to a close at the end of 2002. The Raintree subdivision in the West End of Henrico was our beat, we had the main drag and the western side streets.

My mornings would start on WCBS 880 in New York for news, then over to WRVA for, then, Alden and Tim, and, later, Tim and John. And, in 1989, WRVA still spun the tunes! And that's where I discovered this gem from Summer, even though the video lacks (She Works Hard For The Money's video is much better).  :)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Song #419: "Turn To Stone"--Electric Light Orchestra (1977)

First in our countdown 34 songs ago, back in late March, it's time for the second of eight appearances, if my early morning counting skills are working correctly, from the great ELO.

This time we go back to late 1977 and their double LP, "Out Of The Blue", for a song that, despite never making it into the top ten on the charts in its "shelf life", developed a lasting legacy on many classic rock, and some classic hits, radio formats.

It's vintage Electric Light Orchestra, and a lot of fun to sing along to, especially on a rainy day like today when you'd need a pick-me-up in the car since opening the sun roof is not an option. Unless you need to take a shower.  :)