Saturday, March 24, 1979

My First Album: K-Tel’s High Energy compilation

First posted 8/6/2020; updated 10/17/2020.

High Energy

various artists


Released: 1979


Charted: 5/27/1978 to 3/24/1979


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: disco/pop/rock


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Blondie “Heart of Glass(Deborah Harry, Chris Stein) [3:09] (1/3/79, 11 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 11 RR, 44 AC, 14 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU, sales: 3.72 million)
  2. Amii Stewart “Knock on Wood(Floyd, Cropper) [3:20] (1/27/79, 11 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 3 RR, 6 RB, 6 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU, sales: 2 million)
  3. Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive(Dino Fekaris, Freddie Perren) [3:16] (12/16/78, 13 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 2 RR, 9 AC, 4 RB, 14 UK, 1 CN, 5 AU, sales: 14 million)
  4. Peaches & Herb “Shake Your Groove Thing(Dino Fekaris, Freddie Perren) [3:25] (10/28/78, 5 US, 5 CB, 7 HR, 8 RR, 4 RB, 26 UK, 5 CN, 13 AU)
  5. Instant Funk “I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)(K. Miller, S. Miller, R. Earl) [3:23] (1/6/79, 20 US, 22 CB, 26 HR, 13 RB, sales: 1 million)
  6. Chic “Le Freak(Edwards, Rodgers) [3:36] (9/21/78, 16 US, 17 CB, 17 HR, 12 RR, 15 RB, 48 AC, 7 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU)
  7. Foxy “Hot Number(Ish Ledesma) [4:12] (2/17/79, 21 US, 29 CB, 38 HR, 4 RB)
  8. G.Q. “Disco Nights (Rock Freak)(Emanuel LeBlanc, Herb Lane, Keith Crier, Paul Service) [3:37] (2/10/79, 12 US, 10 CB, 11 HR, 22 RR, 12 RB, sales: 1 million)
  9. The Pointer Sisters “Fire(Bruce Springsteen) [3:38] (11/11/78, 2 US, 2 CB, 2 HR, 2 RR, 21 AC, 14 RB, 34 UK, 3 CN, 7 AU, sales: 1 million)
  10. Foreigner “Double Vision(Lou Gramm, Mick Jones) [3:25] (9/22/78, 2 US, 5 CB, 8 HR, 2 RR, 2 CL, 7 CN, 97 AU, sales: 1 million)
  11. Orleans “Love Takes Time(Larry Hoppen, Marilyn Mason) [3:28] (3/24/79, 11 US, 12 CB, 18 HR, 7 RR, 13 AC, 23 CL, 23 CN)
  12. Pablo Cruise “Love Will Find a Way(David Jenkins, Cory Lerios) [3:47] (5/27/78, 6 US, 5 CB, 4 RR, 28 AC, 18 CL, 5 CN, 8 AU)
  13. Farragher Brothers “Stay the Night(Farragher, Farragher) [3:25] (2/24/79, 50 US)
  14. Captain & Tennille “You Never Done It Like That(Greenfield, Sedaka) [2:58] (7/29/78, 10 US, 10 CB, 6 HR, 12 RR, 14 AC)
  15. Gino Vannelli “I Just Wanna Stop(Gino Vannelli) [3:32] (9/9/78, 4 US, 2 CB, 8 HR, 2 RR, 4 AC, 21 RB, 12 CN, 59 AU)
  16. Styx “Renegade(Tommy Shaw) [3:52] (3/17/79, 16 US, 18 CB, 22 HR, 17 RR, 10 CN)


Total Running Time: 66:00

Rating:

4.033 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)


Quotable: This is where my obsession with music began.


Awards:

About the Album:

1979. I was 12 years old. I plunked down my hard-earned allowance at K-mart for the K-Tel compilation High Energy. K-Tel was a Canadian-based company launched in 1962. They specialized in selling products like the Veg-O-Matic and the Miracle Brush via infomercials, but also pioneered the idea of producing compilation albums featuring original hits by the original performers. From their first set in 1966 through the end of the ‘80s, the company put out somewhere around 100 albums.

The album didn’t achieve any kind of landmark status for K-Tel, but it was significant for me as my very first album purchase. On his K-Tel tribute website, Herc proclaims it one of his top 5 K-Tel albums and that nearly a dozen fans told him High Energy was also their first album. HK

I use the term “album” loosely as I bought it in the decidedly unwieldy 8-track format. Sure it allowed for more portability and durability than vinyl, but the listener didn’t have the same control – and there was that loud ka-klunk sound signifying the jump between tracks. Over the years I changed with the formats, accumulating cassettes, CDs, and now some 40,000 digitized songs on my laptop. Of the some 4000 albums I now have in my collection, though, none measures up to the sentimentality of High Energy.

The collection was an odd mix. Side one of the vinyl version consisted of seven top-ten R&B songs, six of which were also top 5 hits on the disco chart, and 4 which hit #1 on the pop chart. HK Andrew Weiss of Armagideon Time said it “had one of the strongest first sides of any K-Tel release, ever.” AT “The one-two electrodance punch of Blondie’s Heart of Glass and Amii Stewart’s spaced-out cover of my favorite Sixties soul track was reason enough to buy a copy. Throwing in the apex disco of I Will Survive plus the party jam combo of Shake Your Groove Thing and Le Freak bumped High Energy into the stratosphere.” AT Three of those songs (“Heart of Glass,” “I Will Survive,” and “Le Freak”) rank in the DMDB’s top 1% of all time.

“The second side was K-tel's usual blend of Top 40 fare with both soft rock and hard rock.” HK Weiss says it was “all over the place…[and] never manages to hit anything close to a sweet spot.” AT Of course, it was precisely the disparity which drew me in. I loved “Heart of Glass” and “Le Freak” as well as Foreigner’s Double Vision and Styx’s Renegade and now I had them all in one package! Four decades later, “Heart of Glass,” “Le Freak,” and “Renegade” still rank in my top 100 songs of all time.

Interestingly, while side one felt like the pinnacle of disco, Weiss considers High Energy “a significant artifact” in the death of the format because it marked “a looming shake-up of the status quo” and the extinction of a “bloated and complacent music industry.” AT “Hard rock, soft rock, easy listening pop, mellow soul, jazz rock — all would stagger into the new decade of diminishing returns and increasingly fractalized formatting and marketing practices.” AT

The album was a mess and it may well have marked the end of an era. It was, however, the beginning for me. More than forty years later, I look around my living room at the jukebox, the chart book sitting on my coffee table, and the photo over my fireplace of my kids playing air guitar. Music has become a pervasive force in my life and I can trace it back to the point when High Energy entered my life.


Notes:

Confusingly, the same title was used for K-Tel collections later released on cassette and CD which had very different track listings.

Review Sources:

Friday, March 23, 1979

Journey’s Evolution released

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

Evolution

Journey


Released: March 23, 1979


Peak: 20 US, 100 UK, 37 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. Majestic
  2. Too Late (12/22/79, 70 US, 39 CL)
  3. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ (7/21/79, 16 US, 4 CL, 12 CN, sales: ½ million)
  4. City of the Angels (17 CL)
  5. When You’re Alone (It Ain’t Easy)
  6. Sweet and Simple
  7. Lovin’ You Is Easy
  8. Just the Same Way (4/7/79, 58 US, 10 CL, 80 CN)
  9. Do You Recall
  10. Daydream
  11. Lady Luck


Total Running Time: 37:10


The Players:

  • Steve Perry (vocals)
  • Neal Schon (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Gregg Rolie (keyboards, backing vocals)
  • Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steve Smith (drums)

Rating:

3.529 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

“With the platinum triumph of Infinity still ringing in their ears like coins in a slot machine, Journey was now committed to completing their transformation from jazz fusion/prog rock mavens into arena rock superstars with their fifth album, 1979’s Evolution. This transition (also clearly illustrated by the futuristic insect gracing each album cover henceforth) would not come without its growing pains.” FR While “producer Roy Thomas Baker, whose previous clients Queen are echoed in the knowingly titled pomp-rock fanfare Majestic,” CRM “was back for a second go-round, original drummer Aynsley Dunbar would be the first casualty of the band’s new direction. Thankfully, former Ronnie Montrose skin-beater Steve Smith soon brought his college-trained jazz fusion background to the table, and the band was ready to get back to work.” FR

“If Infinity had defined a new songwriting formula for the act, Evolution only served to develop it and streamlined it further, clearly qualifying as their strongest effort to date and endearing the band to millions of FM rock listeners in the process. With commercial rock hits like Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’…, Too Late…, and the powerful Just the Same Way,” FR which “featured original lead vocalist Gregg Rolie,” JM “leading the way to radio dominance, Journey had never sounded stronger or more determined.” FR

As for “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” the band’s first top 20 single, “Steve Perry’s pain was Journey’s gain…[The song] was written after the singer saw his girlfriend kissing another guy. Perry described the song as ‘love justice’, but it was the sweetest kind of revenge; with its slinky blues groove and a killer ‘na-na-na’ coda, the song became a genuine rock standard.” CRM

“With Steve Perry’s tenor pipes now clearly driving the band’s engine, and guitarist Neal Schon beginning to relish in his guitar-hero persona, Journey could seemingly do no wrong. Evolution quickly became the band's biggest-selling album (moving over 800,000 units in less than three months)” FR and “their highest charting album to date.” JM “Perry and co. soon embarked on yet another mammoth tour, which set many an attendance record, and set the stage for even greater triumph with 1980’s Departure.” FR

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, March 17, 1979

Styx charted with “Renegade”

First posted 7/8/2012; updated 3/29/2019.

Renegade

Styx

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


Released: January 9, 1979


First Charted: March 17, 1979


Peak: 16 US, 18 CB, 22 HR, 17 RR, 10 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 34.5


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

I consider 1979 – when I was in sixth grade – to be my musical birth. That’s when I started to pay attention to music for the first time. One of my first favorite songs was “Renegade” by Styx. It came out in the spring of that year, but my exposure to it came that summer. I was at a camp and about a half dozen of us bonded and hung out together a lot. The other guys kept singing “Renegade” and by the end of the camp I loved the song despite never actually having heard the original version.

When I started buying music, I started with eight track. My first purchase was a K-Tel collection called High Energy. I bought it primarily because of four songs – Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” Chic’s “Le Freak,” Foreigner’s “Double Vision,” and Styx’s “Renegade.” It probably isn’t surprising that three of the four songs rank among my top 100 favorites to this day (sorry Foreigner).

What still grabs me to this day is the song’s a cappella opening, first with just Tommy Shaw’s voice. A faint drum beat shows up between lines and then the rest of the band chimes in, melding their voices beautifully. Then comes the scream – and the song lurches forward into a full-on rock tune. Lyrically, it is a first-person account of being on the run from the law, knowing when he’s caught he’ll be hung.

Styx was unique in that three of its players wrote and sang. Dennis DeYoung sang on most of the band’s biggest hits (“Babe,” “Come Sail Away,” "The Best of Times," “Mr. Roboto,” “Don’t Let It End”) while Shaw tackled more rock-oriented fare (“Fooling Yourself,” “Blue Collar Man,” “Too Much Time on My Hands”). Guitarist James Young would typically contribute a rocker to each album as well. Typically Shaw and Young would play lead on their own songs, but Young asked to play lead on this one. Shaw obliged and Young returned the favor on “Half Penny, Two Penny” from the band’s 1981 Paradise Theatre album. WK

The song became an anthem for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A team marketing assistant named Mike Marchinsky suggested it in 2001 when the team moved into its new stadium at Heinz Field. That season, the song was played during a playoff game when the Steelers were down 24-7 against the Cleveland Browns. The song ignited the Steelers and the came back to win. Since then, it has become routine to play it during a particular moment in the second half when the defense needs to stop an offensive drive. A video is broadcast on the jumbotron, building the crowd to a frenzy by the time the scream comes in. SF It has become such a tactical tool that the coach sometimes calls for the song in key situations. SF


Resources and Related Links:

Awards:


Saturday, March 10, 1979

Gloria Gaynor hit #1 with “I Will Survive”

Last updated 4/13/2020.

I Will Survive

Gloria Gaynor

Writer(s): Dino Fekaris, Freddie Perren (see lyrics here)


First Charted: December 16, 1978


Peak: 13 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 2 RR, 9 AC, 4 RB, 114 UK, 1 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 1.02 UK, 14.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 229.7 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

With its message of “of defiance and freedom,” BR1 “I Will Survive” became an anthem for both feminism and gay rights, AMG but for Gloria Gaynor it was a personal statement. Unlike the song’s narrator, she was happily married, SF but she was overcoming major obstacles, including the death of her mother, a career in freefall, and a literal fall from the stage. AMG

Gaynor was crowned the Queen of Disco in the wake of her 1974 hit “Never Can Say Goodbye,” but subsequent failed singles left her career fighting for survival. In the spring of 1978, a tumble off the stage left her bedridden for nine months with a severe spinal injury. AMG Once out of the hospital, this declaration of resilience was just the kind of recovery she needed. The song is “equal parts dancefloor juggernaut and Broadway show-stopper,” AMG so full of “attitude and sass that it veers dangerously close to pure camp” AMG but Gaynor gives it an authenticity that lifts it above its melodramatic qualities.

Originally this was a B-side for what Gaynor said was “the company president’s pet project so there was no way I could get the record flipped.” KL She persuaded club DJs to play the song and it became a favorite of the famed Studio 54 in New York. TB Polydor Records then promoted the song as “More than a hit – it’s a way of life.” AMG

The song gained new life when it emerged as a hit again fifteen years after its original release. In 1994, it was featured in the drag-queen comedy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and topped the charts in Australia, AMG showing that it was truly a song built to survive.


Resources and Related Links:

  • Gloria Gaynor’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Jason Ankeny
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 498.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 246.
  • SF Songfacts
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 179.