Saturday, February 18, 1978

Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” hit the charts

First posted 4/29/2020.

Baker Street

Gerry Rafferty

Writer(s): Gerry Rafferty (see lyrics here)


Released: February 3, 1978


First Charted: February 18, 1978


Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 2 HR, 14 RR, 4 AC, 1 CL, 3 UK, 14 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.2 UK, 2.45 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 58.9 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

Prior to “Baker Street,” Gerry Rafferty was best known for the 1973 Stealers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle with You.” It was notable for its “absolutely uncanny imitation of Bob Dylan,” TB although it has since gained attention in a particularly gruesome scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. When Stealers Wheel broke up, Rafferty couldn’t release any new material while battling with his record company over contractual obligations. Rafferty “spent a lot of time on the overnight train from Glasgow to London for meetings with lawyers” SF and often stayed with a friend in London – on Baker Street. SF

When he surfaced again, it was with this “exquisite song about self-delusion and loneliness in the big city.” TB The narrator dreams of moving to the country, but his reliance on the bottle gets in his way. “He drinks to forget what doesn’t have, and never realizes he’s a rolling stone with no direction.” SF

“With its rippling celeste and yearning, understated, vocal both Rafferty and his label felt it was too enigmatic and reticent to be a single. But a groundswell of radio play, producing a huge surge of public interest, changed their minds. The reason? That saxophone riff.” BBC

Rafferty had an instrumental break in mind for the song, but no specific instrument. SF Hugh Murphy, the producer, suggested saxophone SF and they brought in session musician Raphel “Raff” Ravenscroft, TB who’s played with Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, and Abba. SF He “gave the song one of the most recognisable intros of all time,” BBC “the cherry on the cake, perfectly complementing the air of aching melancholy.” TB “By its final return at the coda, underpinned by a swooping guitar, you knew you’d listened to one of the greatest arrangements of all time.” BBC


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Saturday, February 11, 1978

Styx chart with “Fooling Yourself”

First posted 8/7/2020.

Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)

Styx

Writer(s): Tommy Shaw (see lyrics here)


First Charted: February 11, 1978


Peak: 29 US, 23 CB, 20 HR, 21 RR, 20 CN, 42 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.7 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

I missed “Fooling Yourself” upon its initial release. It wasn’t until the summer of 1983 that I fell in love with this song. I’d become a Styx fan largely because of Paradise Theater (1981) and Kilroy Was Here (1983). Then I decided to reach back and explore earlier stuff from their catalog. Already a fan of “Come Sail Away,” I grabbed up its parent album The Grand Illusion at a mall record store while my family was on vacation. While my brother and I rode in the back seat, I had my Walkman and headphones going non-stop for this new-to-me album. Six years after the album was released, “Fooling Yourself” ended up atop my personal song chart for 5 weeks.

It was the second single from The Grand Illusion, following the top-ten success of “Come Sail Away.” While Dennis DeYoung was the more dominant presence having been there from the start and singing lead on most of the band’s biggest hits (including “Come Sail Away”), Tommy Shaw emerged as a formidable force with “Fooling Yourself.” He joined the band on tour in 1975 and first recorded with them on the Crystal Ball album the next year. That album produced the top-40 hit “Mademoiselle,” a collaborative effort between Shaw and DeYoung.

With “Fooling Yourself,” however, Shaw stepped up front all by his lonesome. While the song appears to be an introspective musing, it was actually based on Shaw’s perception of DeYoung as “‘an angry young man’ who viewed the group’s successes with a wary eye and grew angry or depressed with every setback.” WK Shaw said, “The seeds of discontent had started to take over on the road. The rest of us were all really happy at the time, but Dennis wasn’t getting quite the same joy.” SF In later years, Shaw started to recognize the song could also be a commentary on his own cynism.

Musically, the song’s intro featured Dennis DeYoung on synthesizer and Shaw on acoustic guitar. It was “typical of the prog-rock that was popular at the time in bands like Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.” SF While Styx definitely had a prog element to their sound, their “songs tended to be much tighter and more radio-friendly than the prog-rockers.” SF


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Friday, February 10, 1978

Van Halen released their debut album

First posted 3/24/2008; updated 10/17/2020.

Van Halen

Van Halen


Released: February 10, 1978


Peak: 19 US, 34 UK, 18 CN, 17 AU


Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 0.1 UK, 15.9 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic hard rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Runnin’ with the Devil [3:36] (5/6/78, 84 US, 1 CL, 52 UK)
  2. Eruption (instrumental) [1:42] (6 CL)
  3. You Really Got Me (Ray Davies) [2:38] (1/28/78, 36 US, 1 CL, 49 CN, 12 AU)
  4. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love [3:50] (10/25/78, 5 CL)
  5. I’m the One [3:47] (15 CL)
  6. Jamie’s Cryin’ [3:31] (5/16/78, 3 CL)
  7. Atomic Punk [3:02] (13 CL)
  8. Feel Your Love Tonight [3:43] (7 CL)
  9. Little Dreamer [3:23] (15 CL)
  10. Ice Cream Man (John Brim) [3:20] (5 CL)
  11. On Fire [3:01]

All songs written by Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth, and Michael Anthony unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 35:34


The Players:

  • David Lee Roth (vocals)
  • Eddie Van Halen (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Michael Anthony (bass, backing vocals)
  • Alex Van Halen (drums)

Rating:

4.552 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


Quotable: “One of the all-time best debuts by a hard rock/heavy metal band.” – Greg Prato, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

“Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 debut is undoubtedly one of the all-time best debuts by a hard rock/heavy metal band. All of the components for a classic are represented – excellent songs and high-octane performances…are used to create an invigorating, original sound. Like other acclaimed debuts (Led Zeppelin, Are You Experienced?), Van Halen has a raw edge since it was recorded quickly, and every single song is a winner.” AMG

“While singer David Lee Roth’s bravado and the steady rhythm section of drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony were both key ingredients, the main attraction was Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing” AMG which “sounds like a cross between an electric guitar and a howitzer.” DV “Few other guitarists have had such an instant impact on a generation of up-and-coming players who copied his unorthodox, kamikaze style – especially…on the album’s legendary solo, EruptionAMG in which he “revolutionized the guitar community by introducing a technique called finger-tapping into the heavy metal lexicon.” AZ

“Even if you don’t like…Roth’s sex god schtick or …Eddie’s…hyperactive hammering…it’s impossible not to rock out to the California quartet’s debut.” DBW “Van Halen amply demonstrate their drive, showmanship, and musicianship throughout.” AZ “Almost all of the tracks…have rightfully become radio staples.” AMG “step back in awe at the sheer savagery with which the band attacks the opener Runnin’ with the Devil.” DV “Feast on the chiming chord shifts and monstrously fat chorus riffs of Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” DV “Cackle with glee at the sassy lyric and effortless virtuosity of I’m the One.” DV

The band also offers a “driving, thrashing, ecstatic take on the Kinks’ classic You Really Got Me,” DV “probably best of a long line of Van Halen covers.” DBW In a completely different vein, they deliver “the lounge-y Vegas start and blistering hard rock finish of Ice Cream Man.” DV Both covers “remain awe-inspiring to this day.” AMG

Part of the album’s success is due to producer Ted Templeman. “The sound is marvelous,” DBW “the hooks are huge,” DBW and “the excitement of their live show was captured perfectly.” AMG He “balances massive guitars with a thundering rhythm section…, light but effective use of studio tricks…, and performances that are precise without being clinical.” DBW

Van Halen proved to be the ultimate coming-of-age soundtrack to many a teenager since its release.” AMG It is “one of the ultimate party albums over the years, since the overall mood is excited and celebratory.” AMG “Everyone on the planet should own a copy of this landmark release.” AMG “It forever reshaped the landscape of hard rock – not to mention the repertoire of an entire nation of air-guitar players.” DV

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Saturday, February 4, 1978

Bee Gees hit #1 with “Stayin’ Alive”

First posted 1/6/2015; updated 10/23/2020.

Stayin’ Alive

Bee Gees

Writer(s): Barry Gibb/ Robin Gibb/ Maurice Gibb (see lyrics here)


First Charted: December 10, 1977


Peak: 14 US, 14 CB, 16 HR, 16 RR, 28 AC, 4 RB, 4 UK, 14 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.6 UK, 5.77 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 171.6 video, 244.37 streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack sold 25 million copies on the strength of this and three other #1 songs, making it the biggest album of all-time until Michael Jackson’s 1982 Thriller album. BR1 For better or worse, there are few songs more associated with disco than “Stayin’ Alive.” BB100

It was written after Robert Stigwood, the Bee Gees’ manager, asked the group to create music for a film he was producing that was based on an article in a New York magazine about the club scene in Brooklyn. RS500 Upon hearing the demo of the song, Stigwood wondered why the group wasn’t singing “Saturday Night, Saturday Night.” Maurice Gibb explained that “It’s corny; it’s a terrible title.” BR1 “There are so many blood records out there called ‘Saturday Night.’” BR1

“Confident, cocky, streetwise and upbeat,” LW the song perfectly complements the movie’s lead character as portrayed by star John Travolta. LW The song was not intended as a single, but after fans saw trailers for the movie, they swamped radio stations and RSO Records with calls for the song. WK

The song was released as the second single, following the group’s blockbuster ballad “How Deep Is Your Love.” The soundtrack also generated number one songs with the Bee Gees’ “Night Fever” and Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You.” The feat gave the brothers Gibb bragging rights to having penned four chart-toppers in six months. However, Barry could boast an even bigger accomplishment. He shared writing credit on all three of younger brother Andy’s #1 songs from July 1977 to July 1978. This gave Barry seven trips to the pinnacle and a total of 29 weeks in the pole position as a writer in a year’s time.


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