Saturday, January 21, 1978

The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack hit #1 for the first of 24 weeks

First posted 3/23/2008; updated 11/23/2020.

Saturday Night Fever

Various Artists


Released: November 15, 1977


Peak: 124 US, 15 RB, 118 UK, 122 CN, 114 AU


Sales (in millions): 15.0 US, 2.15 UK, 40.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: disco


Tracks:

Song Title (ACT) (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Stayin’ Alive (BEE GEES) (12/10/77, 14 US, 14 CB, 16 HR, 16 RR, 28 AC, 4 RB, 4 UK, 14 CN, 17 AU, worldwide sales: 5.77 million)
  2. How Deep Is Your Love (BEE GEES) (9/24/77, 13 US, 14 CB, 2 HR, 14 RR, 16 AC, 3 UK, 16 CN, 3 AU, worldwide sales: 2.88 million)
  3. Night Fever (BEE GEES) (2/4/78, 18 US, 18 CB, 18HR, 16 RR, 19 AC, 8 RB, 12 UK, 15 CN, 7 AU, worldwide sales: 3.15 million)
  4. More Than a Woman (BEE GEES) (4/8/78, 39 AC)
  5. If I Can’t Have You (YVONNE ELLIMAN) (1/8/78, 1 US, 4 UK, 9 AC, gold single)
  6. A Fifth of Beethoven (WALTER MURPHY) (5/29/76, 1 US, 28 UK, 10 RB, 13 AC, gold single)
  7. More Than a Woman (TAVARES) (11/12/77, 32 US, 7 UK, 36 RB)
  8. Manhattan Skyline (DAVID SHIRE) / Calypso Breakdown (RALPH MacDONALD)
  9. Night on Disco Mountain (DAVID SHIRE)
  10. Open Sesame (KOOL & THE GANG) (10/30/76, 55 US, 6 RB)
  11. Jive Talkin’ (BEE GEES) (5/31/75, 1 US, 5 UK, 9 AC, gold single)
  12. You Should Be Dancing (BEE GEES) (7/5/76, 1 US, 5 UK, 4 RB, 25 AC, gold single)
  13. Boogie Shoes (KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND) (7/10/76, 35 US, 29 RB)
  14. Salsation (DAVID SHIRE)
  15. K-Jee (MFSB)
  16. Disco Inferno (THE TRAMMPS) (3/5/77, 11 US, 16 UK, 9 RB)


Total Running Time: 75:54

Rating:

4.357 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

“Grab your white leisure suit, get out that disco ball and boogie down to the disc that launched the craze.” ZS “Every so often, a piece of music comes along that defines a moment in popular culture history;” AMG Saturday Night Fever epitomized the latter half of the 1970s. “Midnight dancers were already tripping the strobe lights fantastic before the Bee Gees’ pulsating soundtrack turned disco into the fad of the moment.” VB The Bee Gees themselves had “been exploring disco and funk rhythms on two albums before this one.” TM However, “the disco boom had seemingly run its course, primarily in Europe, and was confined mostly to Black culture and the gay underground in America.” AMG “The soundtrack “made disco explode into mainstream…with new immediacy and urgency.” AMG

The movie was “a gritty commentary on urban escapism and class struggle” VH1 based on a Variety Fair article entitiled “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night.” VH1 Point of interest: it emerged nearly two decades later that the writer, Nik Cohn, invented most of the details in the article. TB

The music had a “devil-may-care bravado and hip-grinding groove” VH1 spurred by the Bee Gees’ “saccharine vocal harmonies and irrestibly catchy melodies.” VH1 The group had already written five songs for the intended follow-up to Children of the World. However, their manager, Robert Stigwood, thought the new material would be perfect AMG for his film.

The soundtrack sported a mix of old and new; six songs had been hits on the Hot 100 over the previous two years, including three #1 gold singles. However, the new material, led by three #1 Bee Gees’ singles (two platinum, one gold), propelled this to be not just “an idealized commercial-free radio set of late-‘70s dance music,” AMG but the biggest-selling soundtrack of all time. VH1

The movie and soundtrack open with the iconic Stayin’ Alive. “The track showcases the falsetto voices that subsequently became the group’s trademark style and which were used on this album for the first time.” TB While disco is more associated with upbeat numbers, “the Bee Gees’ new songs were weighted equally toward ethereal ballads” AMG like the “shining pop ballad How Deep Is Your Love.” TM The “soaring, lyrical romantic numbers” AMG became a big part of the soundtrack’s appeal.

Interestingly, while the Bee Gees comprised only a third of the soundtrack, this “is virtually indispensable as a Bee Gees album” AMG because it presented the Gibb brothers not just as performers but composers with cuts recorded by Yvonne Elliman (If I Can’t Have You), and Tavares (More Than a Woman).

It should be noted that while disco was cast in a negative light in the wake of its Saturday Night Fever-fueled explosion, this album still holds up. The Bee Gees “wrote a set of themes…sturdy enough to endure beyond the moment of hotness.” TM “Heard now, removed from the frenzy, Saturday Night Fever remains striking for the deft shimmer of Arif Mardin's production, and the sharp, hook-atop-hook songwriting of the Bee Gees.” TM

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Bee Gees
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Bruce Eder
  • TM Tom Moon (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York, NY.
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Page 191.
  • VH1 VH1. (2003). 100 Greatest Albums. Edited by Jacob Hoye. Pocket Books: New York, NY. Page 57.
  • VB Vibe 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century, pp. 154-1964. (Dec. 1999)
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY. Page 47.

Friday, January 20, 1978

Journey’s Infinity released

First posted 10/12/2008; updated 10/17/2020.

Infinity

Journey


Released: January 20, 1978


Peak: 21 US, -- UK, 22 CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, -- UK, 4.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Lights (8/19/78, 68 US, 4 CL, 30 AC, 74 CN, air: 1 million)
  2. Feeling That Way (6 CL)
  3. Anytime (6/10/78, 83 US, 6 CL)
  4. La Do Da
  5. Patiently
  6. Wheel in the Sky (4/8/78, 57 US, 3 CL, 45 CN)
  7. Somethin’ to Hide
  8. Winds of March
  9. Can Do
  10. Opened the Door


Total Running Time: 36:28


The Players:

  • Steve Perry (vocals)
  • Neal Schon (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Gregg Rolie (keyboards, co-lead vocals on “Feeling That Way” and “Anytime”)
  • Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals)
  • Aynsley Dunbar (drums)

Rating:

3.807 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

“By 1977 Journey had reached a creative crossroads, with three underwhelming studio albums under their belt and little to show in the way of commercial success. At the prodding of manager Herbie Herbert, who felt a major shakeup was needed in order to reignite their spark, the band was convinced to audition and eventually recruit the services of former Alien Project vocalist Steve Perry.” FR He “was not a unanimous choice as Journey’s new singer.” CRM “Journey briefly enlisted front man Robert Fleischman and even recorded one track, ‘For You’, which would later appear on the Time 3 collection.” JM “But when Perry presented the bluesy Lights to the band, everyone sensed the possibilities.” CRM

“Sure enough, adding him to the band just prior to the sessions for Infinity proved to be a stroke of genius, and a move that undeniably altered the course of history for the fledging Bay Area act. Released in January of 1978, Infinity easily proved to be the band’s most cohesive work to date. Dead and buried were the jazz fusion overtones of previous offerings, and with the new songwriting combo of Perry/ Neal Schon leading the march, the band set out to completely redefine their sound. Traditional pop arrangements were now adopted, cutting out the unnecessary musical fat, and allowing each bandmember to play to his strength: Perry’s soaring, whale of a voice, Schon’s scorching fret work, and Gregg Rolie’s subtle keyboard arrangements.” FR

“Enlisting eccentric producer Roy Thomas Baker (already famous for guiding the likes of Queen and Nazareth to giant commercial triumphs of their own) also proved to be a rewarding move for the boys.” FR Baker “produced a layered sound approach, similar to his work with Queen, as demonstrated on tracks such as Winds of March.” JM “The re-focused Journey delivered their first set of accessible mainstream rock songs.” CRM

“Tellingly, ‘Lights’ was chosen as Infinity’s opening track – an introduction to the new Journey – and it remains one of the band’s best-loved songs, as does this album’s Wheel in the Sky,” CRM which was actually “written by temporary front man Fleischman.” JM “Even non-singles like Patiently (the first tune Perry ever wrote with Schon) and Somethin’ to Hide were leaps and bounds beyond the band’s previous accomplishments.” FR

“And, ultimately, though Infinity merely introduced the band to mainstream radio (it was the never-ending tour on which the band embarked on to support it that drove the disc past the platinum plateau), it effectively cemented their rep as one of America’s most beloved (and sometimes hated) commercial rock/pop bands. With over 170 shows under their belts, Journey had just begun to hit their stride.” FR

Resources and Related Links:

Sunday, January 1, 1978

25 years ago: Hank Williams died; memorialized with 40 Greatest Hits

First posted 4/7/2008; updated 9/28/2020.

40 Greatest Hits

Hank Williams


Released: 1978


Recorded: May 1947 – July 1953


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country


Tracks, Disc 1:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Move It on Over (8/9/47, 4 CW)
  2. A Mansion on the Hill (3/5/49, 12 CW)
  3. Lovesick Blues (3/5/49, 1 CW, 24 US, sales: 1.0 m)
  4. Wedding Bells (5/14/49, 2 CW)
  5. Mind Your Own Business (7/23/49, 5 CW)
  6. You’re Gonna Change or I’m Gonna Leave (10/1/49, 4 CW)
  7. Lost Highway (10/1/49, 12 CW)
  8. My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It (11/26/49, 2 CW)
  9. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (11/26/49, 43 CW)
  10. I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin’ (2/18/50, 5 CW)
  11. Long Gone Lonesome Blues (3/25/50, 1 CW)
  12. My Son Calls Another Man Daddy (3/25/50, 9 CW)
  13. Why Don’t You Love Me (5/27/50, 1 CW)
  14. Why Should We Try Anymore (10/7/50, 9 CW)
  15. They’ll Never Take Her Love from Me (10/7/50, 5 CW)
  16. Moanin’ the Blues (11/18/50, 1 CW)
  17. Nobody’s Lonesome for Me (11/18/50, 9 CW)
  18. Cold, Cold Heart (3/3/51, 1 CW, 27 US)
  19. Dear John (3/3/51, 8 CW)
  20. Howlin’ at the Moon (5/26/51, 3 CW)

Tracks, Disc 2:

  1. I Can’t Help It if I’m Still in Love with You (5/26/51, 2 CW)
  2. Hey, Good Lookin’ (7/14/51, 1 CW, 29 US, sales: 1.0 m)
  3. Crazy Heart (10/20/51, 4 CW)
  4. I Heard That Lonesome Whistle (10/20/51, 9 CW)
  5. Baby, We’re Really in Love (12/22/51, 4 CW)
  6. Ramblin’ Man
  7. Honky Tonk Blues (3/1/52, 2 CW)
  8. I’m Sorry for You My Friend
  9. Half As Much (5/3/52, 2 CW)
  10. Jambalaya on the Bayou (8/16/52, 1 CW, 20 US, sales: 1.0 m)
  11. Window Shopping
  12. Settin’ the Woods on Fire (10/11/52, 2 CW)
  13. You Win Again (10/11/52, 10 CW)
  14. I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (12/20/52, 1 CW)
  15. Kaw-Liga (2/21/53, 1 CW, 23 US, sales: 1.0 m)
  16. Your Cheatin’ Heart (2/21/53: B-side of “Kaw-Liga,” 1 CW, 25 US, sales: 1.0 m)
  17. Take These Chains from My Heart (5/16/53, 1 CW)
  18. I Won’t Be Home No More (7/25/53, 4 CW)
  19. Weary Blues from Waitin’ (10/10/53, 7 CW)
  20. I Saw the Light


Total Running Time: 106:59

Rating:

4.582 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Quotable: “If you care about country music, you need some Hank Williams in your collection, and there isn’t a better introduction…than 40 Greatest Hits.” MD


Awards:

About the Album:

Country legend Hank “Williams lived fast and worked fast, too, recording relentlessly from 1947 until his alcohol-related death in 1953. This compilation shows how craft transcended the demon booze. Of these 40 hits, more than a quarter topped the country charts.” BL

“Williams’ body of work is so large and has been repackaged so many times in so many forms that the notion of creating a definitive compilation almost seems like an impossible goal. However, as a one-stop shopping place for Hank’s basic repertoire, 40 Greatest Hits is as good as it gets.” MD This two-record compilation was released in 1978 by Mercury Records to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Williams’ death. WK

“Practically every memorable hit is here, and thankfully every cut appears in its original form (that means in mono, with no string overdubs or artificial duets with his family members).” MD It actually marked the “the first anthology in quite some time that did not subject Williams’ recordings to either rechanneled stereo, posthumous overdubs, artificial duets with family members (like his son Hank Jr.), or most or all of the above.” WK

“Because of both this major fact, and the value-for-money attraction of having a deeper song selection than previous single-disc compilations issued previously by MGM Records, many reviewers consider this anthology to be the perfect starting point for newcomers to Williams’ recorded legacy.” WK

“The track sequence subtly reflects the arc of Williams’ short but vitally important career, and there’s enough good music and great songs here to make a fan of anyone with even a passing interest in American music. If you care about country music, you need some Hank Williams in your collection, and there isn’t a better introduction to his rich body of work on the market than 40 Greatest Hits; begin here, then start exploring.” MD

Resources and Related Links: