Tag Archives: joel whitburn

Music on Mondays (11-21-16)—On the rebound with one way love

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

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I currently have 1,565 hours, 48 minutes, and 17 seconds of digital music in my non-classical music collection. I started piano lessons at the age of 2, violin lessons at 6, voice lessons at 10, and music collecting lessons at 11. Actually, though, I’m self-taught with music collecting.

When I left College Station, Texas, in the dead of night on April 15, 1993, I had 5,000+ vinyl albums, 500+ vinyl 45s, and about 400 CDs. I took 100 CDs with me and left everything else behind; I just needed enough music to get me to where I was going on a one-way trip. I never got there, instead winding up in San Diego where I would choose to live and start my music collecting all over. Those 100 CDs gave me a good basic collection to start with since I had a complete collection of Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Black Sabbath.

I actually didn’t start my music collecting again until eight years later, mainly because, although I lived in San Diego, I was a consultant in the wireless telecommunications industry, so I was working in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Tampa, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Boston, and 17 other cities. I was only home in San Diego two weekends a month for several years.

Fast forward to 2007. I had a room full of CDs, several thousand of them. I had a complete collection of all the #1 singles and #1 albums from 1955 to 2007. Since I was born in 1955 and the rock ‘n’ roll generation started in 1955, it was just something unique for me to do. I finally quit when I couldn’t take all the rap and hip-hop with cussing worse than my grandfather…. still collect music, though, always looking for something to add to my collection that makes me move.

Long-time readers here know that I have a method to everything in my life, and my method here is simply to go line by line through Joel Whitburn’s book “Top Pop Singles,” currently in its 15th edition, subtitled “1955-2015.” Checking out the pop singles sometimes leads me to an album that I like, which sometimes leads me to a new group that I like.

Currently I’m in the B’s. Following are two songs I recently discovered that are now in my collection, and, so far, each artist also now has at least one album in my collection. Might be more as I continue to listen to their albums.

On The Rebound by Russ Ballard (1980)
Peaked at #58 on the Billboard Hot 100

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One Way Love Bandit (1979)
Peaked at #77 on the Billboard Hot 100

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Music on Mondays (11-2-15)—Don’t go walkin’ in the woods alone

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music always has been a significant part of my life since my mom played the piano and organ, her parents played the violin and flute, and I played the piano and violin, as well as sang. Although I have an appreciation for classical music, I prefer full orchestra over solos, duos, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, and octets.

When I was introduced to The Beatles in late 1965, I fell in love with pop music. After I graduated from Texas A&M University, I set out to own all of the singles and albums that had made it to #1 on the Billboard charts during the rock ‘n’ roll era, generally said to have started in 1955, the same year I was born. That led me to Casey Kasem (1932-2014) and his American Top 40 weekly broadcast, as well as books by Joel Whitburn documenting the Billboard charts.

Music trivia became a part of my life, so much so that I won several weekly happy hour music trivia contests in Houston and College Station during the ’80s.

Two areas of music trivia I always have found interesting: “one-hit wonders” and “most #2 hits without having a #1 hit.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival held (and probably still holds) the record for most #2 hits without having a #1 hit with five #2’s: Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Green River, Travelin’ Band, and Lookin’ Out My Back Door. They also had a #3, #4, #6, and #8. I have a complete Creedence Clearwater Revival discography; I like their music since it’s easy to sing along.

Another group on the “most #2 hits without having a #1 hit” list is Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs, with two #2 hits: Wooly Bully and Lil’ Red Riding Hood. I always liked Lil’ Red Riding Hood and just discovered that it was not in my digital music collection. It is now.

This song, while building on Charles Perrault’s fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood,” is more about the man with concealed sexual intentions rather than the animal, although some might say that the man with ulterior sexual intentions is an animal….

The singer remarks on the “big eyes” and “full lips” that Red Riding Hood has. An added element is that he says to the song’s audience that he is disguised in a “sheep suit” until he can demonstrate his good intentions. Note that instead of a sheep’s baah the song uses a wolf call in the form of a howl.

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Music on Mondays (10-5-14)—Once upon a time there was light in my life

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

When I was a freshman at Texas A&M University in 1973, I discovered Joel Whitburn. He has been publishing books since 1970 which detail the various Billboard music and video charts.

Through his research, I discovered that the rock ‘n’ roll generation was considered to have begun in 1955 with “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley & The Comets.

Forty years later and there is some disagreement about when rock ‘n’ roll started, and which song started it, but I still like 1955 since that’s the same year I was born!

Up until around 2007, I had a vinyl, cassette, CD, or digital copy of every #1 single and #1 album since 1955. I gave up that enterprise when too many rap and hip hop songs and albums became #1. I dislike intensely so-called music that uses vulgarity and other crudity to (try to) entertain or (try to) get a message across. Just don’t like it.

This evening I was wondering what song was #1 on October 6 in 1955. That led me to a really cool web site where you can look up any #1 song on any date for the United States and Great Britain. How I love the Internet and Google, but I bet the sale of Joel Whitburn’s books has suffered. Anyways….

I plugged in October 6, 1955, and it gave me the #1 song on October 6 for every year.

In looking at the list, I have all the October 6 #1 songs from 1955 to 1985. After 1985, I only have two songs: “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake (1987) and “Candle in the Wind 1997/Something About the Way You Look Tonight” by Elton John (1997). The Beatles (my favorite group) have two songs on the list: “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude.”

The song that jumps out at me, though, is “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler (1983). That song was always playing on the radio in 1983 but none of the announcers would tell me the title of the song or the artist.

By the time it had faded into radio play history, I had forgotten about it, and I didn’t rediscover it until 1995. I had been in San Diego for two years but was visiting a friend in Huntsville, Texas, 45 miles north of Houston. The song came on the radio and I commented that I sure wish I knew the song title or artist. My friend—we’ll call him Eric Swanson since that’s his name—said, That’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. Fifteen minutes later and we stopped at Huntsville largest record store where I found, and bought, the CD, “Faster Than The Speed Of Light.”

There are several versions of the song, ranging from short for radio air play to the longer album version. Here’s the album version:

Bonnie Tyler is from Wales, and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is her biggest hit. It reached#1 in several countries, making her the first and only Welsh singer to reach the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. With sales in excess of nine million copies, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is one of the best-selling singles of all time.

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Music on Mondays (6-9-14)—Beep beep

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

On this date in 2006, the movie “Cars” was released. Since we have had so much fun recently with old cars and car music, I thought we would continue with our cars theme for today’s Music on Mondays.

Our last cars-themed Music on Mondays ended with 1957, so let us continue with 1958. All of these songs are, of course, in my music collection.

“Hop In My Jalop”
Chuck Alaimo Quartet

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“Let’s Go For A Ride”
The Collegians

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“Spark Plug”
Four Teens

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A couple of years ago I was going through Joel Whitburn’s “Top Pop Singles” looking for the title of singles that I used to have on vinyl but had not been able to find on CD or in digital downloads. That’s when I discovered Jan & Dean’s older music; you’re probably familiar with three of their hits: #1 “Surf City,” #3 The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena), and #8 Dead Man’s Curve. Dean was drafted into the Army in 1957, and while he was gone, Jan teamed up with Arnie to continue the surf rock sound that Jan & Dean eventually would become quite famous for. Here’s Jan & Arnie:

“Gas Money”
Jan & Arnie

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“The Ballad Of Thunder Road”
Robert Mitchum (yes, the movie star)

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When I graduated from high school in 1973, two friends and I spent the summer touring the United States west of the Mississippi River. We made it to every national forest, every national monument, and every national park, as well as every city with a population of 100,000 or more. Sometimes we just drove through to say that we had been there.

1954 Nash RamblerLarry, who had just bought the 1973 Buick Apollo that we went in, had grandparents in Sacramento, California (we lived in far south Texas, in Kingsville). We stopped to spend the night with his grandparents, and his granddad started comparing his 1954 Nash Rambler with Larry’s 1973 Buick Apollo (with a 400 ci engine). Granddad took us for a ride in his Nash Rambler, which had been slightly modified to include an 8-track tape player. The tape we listened to comprised nothing but car songs, many of them classics now. One of them was “Beep Beep” by The Playmates, which tells of a “little Nash Rambler” keeping up with a Cadillac. Oh, the disgrace for that poor Cadillac.

“Beep Beep”
The Playmates

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