Top 5: Maximum Rock and Roll
Just like Casey Kasem used to say: "Five hits to Number One and we're countin' em down." Here's the Top 5 from this week in 1971.
5. "It Don't Come Easy"/Ringo Starr. Let's give it up to Ringo--for the first half of the 1970s, he was every bit the equal of his former Beatle mates on the solo charts. "It Don't Come Easy" was the first of seven straight Top 10 hits for Ringo--a made-for-AM production that sounded hotter than almost everything else on the radio in the summer of '71.
4. "Brown Sugar"/Rolling Stones. Several years ago, Rolling Stone published a list of the top singles of all time. (I seem to recall reading somewhere that Stone publisher Jann Wenner had tweaked the list to favor a few personal acquaintances. I'm not saying that's why Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" placed at Number 54, ahead of "All Along the Watchtower," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, but there's clearly a difference of informed opinion there.) That list, which had "Satisfaction" at Number One, inspired me to make my own. I don't have a copy, but I remember that "Brown Sugar" was Number One. It's three minutes and 50 seconds of maximum rock and roll.
3. "Want Ads"/Honey Cone. With which the former Motown team of Holland/Dozier/Holland entered the 1970s in full possession of their creative skills. It's what you'd get if you ran one part gritty Southern soul and one part girl-group bubblegum through the Motown production machine.
2. "Rainy Days and Mondays"/Carpenters. Not just another pillowy soft and shallow love song--between the lines there's some complicated adult emotion going on. Later in the 1970s, a jock on Chicago's WIND used the song as inspiration for a contest, in which he gave away a dozen roses to a listener on every rainy day and every Monday. Years later, after a few more stops up and down the dial, he gave up the major market life and retired to a Wisconsin golf course--but missed radio, and ended up working at the little station in my hometown, where he still is today.
1. "It's Too Late"/"I Feel the Earth Move"/Carole King. It's forgotten today that 1971 was the high-water mark of the two-sided hit single, a phenomenon that began around 1968 and was over by the end of 1971. I am guessing record companies hated 'em, because they would have preferred selling two singles to one, but for record buyers, they were a bonus. Who wouldn't want to double their money at 95 cents a single? This kicked off the chart run of Tapestry, which was Number One for nearly four months in 1971 and lingered on the album charts for most of the rest of the decade.