Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Top 100 Songs of 1976*: #20-11

The United States celebrated the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence while James Callaghan became the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.  The Summer Olympics were held in Montreal, where Bruce Jenner won the men's decathlon and Sugar Ray Leonard was one of five Americans to win boxing gold.  In other sports, the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association agreed to merge.

In music, Peter Frampton scored the top-selling album of the year with Frampton Comes Alive, the Irish group U2 formed in Dublin and these 10 songs were some of the cream of the crop:


Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)
Fleetwood Mac

The song which peaked at #11 in 1976 has nonetheless proven to be much stronger than that.  Written by Stevie Nicks about a Welsh witch, the song builds into a crescendo in which Nicks' passionate vocals in live performances made people take notice.  Clearly, Fleetwood Mac had made an excellent choice in bringing Stevie into the fold.  "Rhiannon" is one of several songs in this range that are just a heartbeat away from making The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.


Play That Funky Music
Wild Cherry

Rob Parissi founded this group in 1970 but after several misses, the group broke up in 1973 and Parissi became the manager at a local steakhouse.  After a while, Rob decided that his current job wasn't going to work and he decided to give music one more try.  He re-formed Wild Cherry with new musicians.  While the Rock band was playing at a club in Pittsburgh, a table of African Americans kept teasing them:  "Are you white boys gonna' play some funky music?"  In between sets, drummer Ron Beitle said "Play that funky music, white boy."  Parissi was inspired immediately and, on a drink order pad borrowed from the bartender, wrote a song in five minutes.  The #19 Song of 1976* is the result of that experience--it sold over 2.5 million records in the U.S. alone and was a Top 10 hit the world over.  


Dream Weaver
Gary Wright

Gary Wright said that this smash was inspired by Autobiography of a Yogi, given to him by George Harrison.  The title song from Wright's incredible fourth album reached #2 officially but was #1 at many radio stations.


Love Hangover
Diana Ross

Since leaving the Supremes, Diana Ross had scored #1 songs with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Touch Me In The Morning" and "Theme From 'Mahogany'".  In 1976, she hit #1 again with this smash.


Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Elton John

Elton John, meanwhile, was just wrapping up a period from 1972-1976 in which he achieved 20 hits during that time.  Fourteen of those 20 reached the Top 10, as EJ was as dominant as nearly anyone in the history of the Rock Era.


50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
Paul Simon

For this song, Paul Simon invited Patti Austin, Valerie Simpson and Phoebe Snow to sing backing vocals.  All three went on to become successful in their own right.  They all contributed to this #1 smash, one of Paul's biggest solo hits.


Say You Love Me
Fleetwood Mac

This song may have peaked at #11 at the time through a strange methodology that failed to consider album sales.  When you factor those in over the last 40 years, it's plain to see that "Say You Love Me" was mightily underrated, as today it is The #14 Song of 1976*.


You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine
Lou Rawls

Here's the top song from 1976 that didn't make The Top 500 for the Rock Era*, as several songs in this range are inches away.  He is the famous voice of Budweiser commercials at the time, singing "This Bud's for You".  This was the year that Lou Rawls posted his biggest career hit by far.


Rock'n Me
Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band was on a hot streak that they would continue into 1977.  Here's one of six hits the group achieved during that span.

I Write The Songs
Barry Manilow

There has been some movement among the top songs for the year since The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era* book was published last year.  To repeat the methodology, rankings can change as new sales and airplay figures come in, and this song, previously ranked #8, has slipped to #11.

This #1 smash on both the Popular and Adult Contemporary charts was written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys.  Barry Manilow is one step away from the Top 10 for the year*.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.