Countdown Saturday – April 3, 1972

This week’s Countdown Saturday takes us to one of the most competitive markets in the country. In Chicago WLS and WCFL were locked in a perennial battle for number one. With radio legends like Larry Lujack, Joel Sebastian, Dick Biondi and John Landecker in their prime and 50,000 watt clear channel signals carrying the music to 26 states, both The Rock of Chicago and The The Big 10 were contenders who did whatever it took to win listeners and ratings.

The April 3, WLS Hit Parade shows the incursion of soft rock into mainstream pop and the hint of the power that FM would ultimately impose as track’s like Jackson Browne’s “Doctor, My Eyes” and “Roundabout” from Yes began to appear on music surveys across the country.

The Countdown Saturday Top 5 – April 3, 1972:

5. Rock n’ Roll LullabyB. J. Thomas: This one came straight out of the Brill Building and brought together some of the greatest session artists in pop music history. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote it. The Blossoms provide the backup vocals on the opening verses. Duane Eddy plays lead guitar with Al Gorgoni adding some spice. But it’s when B.J. sings his final words that this one truly takes off. Dave Somerville and three members of the Ron Hicklin Singers (Tom Bahler, Gene Morford, and Hicklin himself), perfectly channel The Beach Boys, and producer Steve Tyrell drops layer after layer of magic into the mix for a minute and a half of heaven that you never want to end. (Video)

4. I GotchaJoe Tex: Joe Tex took his first shot at recording “I Gotcha” in the 1960s. It was a tune originally intended for King Floyd, of “Groove Me” fame. And it wasn’t until late 1972 that Joe re-recorded it as a B-Side of his single “A Mother’s Prayer.” In a story repeated again and again throughout the rock era, disc jockeys liked the early rap vibe of that B-Side and “I Gotcha” became Joe’s first major hit in half a decade. (Video)

3. The First Time Ever I Saw Your FaceRoberta Flack: This 1957 folk song written by Scottish political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for his future wif Peggy Seeger, became a monster hit for Roberta Flack, winning her a Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. It went on to earn a Billboard ranking as the number one song of 1972. Roberta recorded a sensual rendition for Clint Eastwood‘s 1971 directorial film debut: Play Misty for Me. We hear it during love scene featuring Eastwood and Donna Mills. (Video)

2. Mother and Child ReunionPaul Simon: The song’s title came from a chicken-and-egg dish called “Mother and Child Reunion” that Paul Simon saw on a Chinese restaurant menu and reflects Simon’s enthusiasm for the reggae stylings of Jimmy CliffDesmond Dekker, and Byron Lee. Simon recorded it at Dynamic Sounds Studios at Torrington Bridge in Kingston, Jamaica, with Jimmy Cliff’s backing group. Listen closely for Cissy Houston‘s background vocals. (Video)

1. Horse With No NameAmerica: Dewey Bunnell‘s composition wasn’t originally supposed to be a hit. In fact, when America released their first LP, it was self-titled and didn’t include “Horse With No Name”. When the single gained worldwide favor, the LP was re-released with the tune included and the title re-worked to feature it. Horse was banned in a number of US markets because programmers felt that it’s protagonist was a euphemism for heroine. (Video)

One for the Road: Of all the suggestive songs about sex, one of the most visceral has to be The ChakachaseroticJungle Fever. The Spanish lyrics translate beginly enough. What we can decode includes, “Soft, Tell Me, Give Me and Smooth.” But the way lead singer Kari Kenton delivered them and Henri Breyre’s responsive moans toward the end was suggestive enough to get “Jungle Fever” banned by the BBC. Controversy sells and the song became a hit, ultimately finding its way into the soundtrack of the 1997 film “Boogie Nights.” Is it too over the top? You be the judge.

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit