Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Top 100 Songs of 1976*: #40-31

In 1976, we saw the first commercial flight of the Concorde, Patty Hearst was found guilty of robbing a San Francisco bank and the Apple Computer Company was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  After eight years on NBC, the movie The Wizard of Oz returned to CBS, where it would remain until 1999.  The Boston Celtics defeated the Phoenix Suns 128-126 in triple overtime in Game 5 to win the National Basketball Association Finals.  In 1997, the game was selected by one panel of experts as the greatest of the NBA's first 50 years.

And in music, these 10 songs were among those that remained the strongest for the next 40 years:

Sara Smile
Hall & Oates

At #40, the first big hit for Hall & Oates.

Moonlight Feels Right

This newcomer in 1976 landed a huge #3 hit in the summer.  Although they never scored another big hit, they did have some quality songs (See "I Got To Know" in the Prelude*).  And this song enabled Starbuck to tour with groups such as ELO, Hall & Oates, Boston and KC and the Sunshine Band.

Nadia's Theme
Barry DeVorzon & Perry Potkin, Jr.

Next, we have the interesting story of this song.  You'll find it on the soundtrack for the 1971 movie Bless The Beasts and The Children under the title "Cotton's Dream".  In 1973, Perry Botkin, Jr. rearranged the theme for the U.S. television soap opera The Young and the Restless, which debuted on March 26, 1973. 

 In 1976, the Summer Olympics were held in Montreal, Canada, which I attended.  Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci captivated the world with her brilliant routines, becoming the first gymnast to score a perfect "10" in Olympic competition and winning three gold medals.  The ABC-TV program Wide World of Sports produced a montage of  Comăneci's performances, set to the music of "Cotton's Dream".  

Viewers of the program flooded radio stations with requests for the song, which prompted A&M Records to release the original version of "Cotton's Dream", but this time titled as "Nadia's Theme".  It became not only one of The Top Instrumentals of the Rock Era*, but also one of The Top 1000 Songs of the Rock Era*.

Get Up And Boogie
Silver Convention

At #37*, a West German group organized by songwriters and producers Sylvester "Silver" Levay and Michael Kunze.  Levay began loving American music while growing up in Yugoslavia.  Silver Convention, which consisted of a trio of women, had introduced themselves the year before with the #2 hit "Fly, Robin, Fly".  They were back in '76 with another #2 song of three weeks.

A Fifth Of Beethoven
Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band

Another instrumental is next by another one-hit wonder.  Walter Murphy was an arranger for Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show orchestra before coming up with this winner, which is a Disco song based on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.  It was strong enough at the time (#1) to be ranked as one of the top hits of 1976, but got an extra boost the following year when it was included on The Top Soundtrack of the Rock Era*, Saturday Night Fever.

Dream On

Like only a handful of songs in the Rock Era, this song was first released to little fanfare (in 1973) but three years later, Aerosmith tried it again and this time, it became a Top 10 hit for them.  Its peak of #6, however, obviously was too low, for in 2016, the song ranks at #37 for the year.

Rubberband Man

Written by famed producer Thom Bell, Philippé Wynne sang lead on this #2 song of three weeks.

Love Is Alive
Gary Wright

Keyboardist Gary Wright was the leader of the British group Spooky Tooth, which for one year included guitarist Mick Jones, who would later go on to form the supergroup Foreigner.  After Spooky Tooth broke up, Wright released this fantastic debut album in which his keyboards make up the entire backing track except for drums on all of the tracks except one ("Power Of Love" also features a guitar.)


You Are The Woman

This Boulder, Colorado band got their name from a tradition at beautiful Yosemite Park in California, one that no longer takes place.  From 1872 to 1968, the Yosemite Firefall was a summertime tradition of lighting a bonfire on the edge of Glacier Point and then dumping the flaming embers off the cliff.  Mark Andes of the group, an early member of Canned Heat before that group signed a recording contract, later joined Heart from 1983-1993.

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)
Four Seasons

Although they were always a popular live act, in 1975, this early Rock supergroup achieved their first Top 10 hit in eight years with "Who Loves You".  Known all along as the 4 Seasons, the group's name was now spelled out as the Four Seasons on their record releases.  This song was released late in the year and became the group's first #1 song since "Rag Doll" in 1964.  The group experienced a resurgence beginning in 2005 with the Broadway play The Jersey Boys, which tells the story of the formation, success and breakup of the group.

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