Friday, July 08, 2005

Top 40 of Summer '76: Today's the Day

As I explained yesterday, this is the first installment of the 40 most memorable records from my favorite summer--1976. And away we go.

40. "Silver Star"/Four Seasons.
Raise your hand if you remember this. (I didn't think so.) The last single in the Seasons' great mid-70s comeback streak, and every bit the equal of "Who Loves You" and "December 1963." (Chart peak: #38, July 10)

39. "Last Child"/Aerosmith. One thing you can say about the summer of 1976--it didn't really rock, at least not in the loud guitar sense. I can think of only two other memorable records that rocked as hard as this (and we'll discuss them later on in the countdown). (Chart peak: #21, August 7)

38. "I'm Easy"/Keith Carradine. There are two versions of this that get played on the radio now, when anybody bothers to play it--the soundtrack version from the movie Nashville, which was the actual hit version, and the slightly different title song from Carradine's album. Carradine's a pure one-hit wonder who never charted again. (Chart peak: #17, August 10)

37. "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again"/Eric Carmen.
Carmen was McCartneyesque in the sense that while he was with his bandmates (in Carmen's case, the Raspberries), their tougher sensibilities kept his schmaltzy side in check--and when he went solo, it was often schmaltz run amok. (Chart peak: #11, July 4)

36. "Crazy on You"/Heart. Here's another of the summer's three legitimate rock singles, a relatively minor hit in its time but never off the radio since. Probably the purest rock and roll record this band ever made. Well, maybe not counting "Barracuda," but that's the next summer. (Chart peak: #35, June 5)

35. "Another Rainy Day in New York City"/Chicago.
One of the first times I ever heard this, it happened to be raining--and as a result, few records capture the feeling of a rainstorm for me better than this. (Chart peak: #32, August 10)

34. "Today's the Day"/America. Their first big single after their multi-million selling History: America's Greatest Hits, and as a result, a record that's largely forgotten now. Too bad. (Chart peak: #23, July 10)

33. "Love Really Hurts Without You"/Billy Ocean.
Betcha didn't know he had a hit before "Caribbean Queen." This is one of the really glorious unknown records of all time, a singalong classic that starts out at top speed, and then seems to accelerate. (Chart peak: #22, May 22)

32. "Love in the Shadows"/Neil Sedaka. Sedaka's mid-70s comeback produced some spectacularly annoying records, and there's a reasonable argument that this is one of them. (Chart peak: #16, May 29)

31. "You're My Best Friend"/Queen. In which Queen meets a Phil Spector-style Wall of Sound, and the Wall wins. Sounded better on the radio (and still does) than almost everything else that summer. (Chart peak: #16, July 31)

Coming next Friday: Numbers 30 through 21. We got disco and John Travolta, although not at the same time.


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