Saturday, May 28, 1977

REO Speedwagon “Ridin’ the Storm Out” charted

Ridin’ the Storm Out

REO Speedwagon

Writer(s): Gary Richrath (see lyrics here)


Released (studio version, album cut): December 21, 1973


Released (single): February 1974


Released (on live album): January 1977


First Charted (live version): May 28, 1977


Peak (studio version): 46 CL, 9 DF


Peak (live version): 94 US, 97 CB, 79 HR, 6 CL, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 8.7 video, -- streaming

Awards (live version):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The rock band REO Speedwagon formed in Champaign, Illinois in 1967. Keyboardist Neal Doughty and drummer Alan Gratzer were the only original members left by the time the band released its self-titled debut in 1971. By then, singer Terry Luttrell, guitarist Gary Richrath, and bassist Gregg Philbin rounded out the group. For their second album, Kevin Cronin replaced Luttrell, but then Cronin left over creative differences during the making of the band’s third album, 1973’s Ridin’ the Storm Out. He was replaced by Mike Murphy.

That album was the first to chart for the band, reaching a measly #171, but eventually going platinum. The title song was written by Richrath about the band stuck in a harsh blizzard at a bar named Tulagi’s in Boulder, Colorado after a show. WK1 According to Cronin, Richrath was messing with the tour manager and trying to get lost. When they really did get lost, they had to stop and “ride the storm out.” SF The song was released as a single, but failed to chart – at least originally.

Murphy stuck around for the next two studio albums, but Cronin returned after a four-year absence for the 1976 album R.E..O.. The band released their first live album, You Get What You Play For, the next year and found their first chart success on the Billboard Hot 100. The live version of “Ridin’ the Storm Out” – this time with Cronin on lead vocals – only reached #94, but has become a “classic rock radio staple.” WK2 The band continued to grow its following until they pulled off a #1 hit in 1980 with the song “Keep on Loving You” and its chart-topping, ten-million-selling album Hi Infidelity.

A studio version of the song with Cronin on lead vocals was eventually released in 2018 on the box set The Early Years 1971-1977. WK1


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First posted 7/21/2022.

Friday, May 27, 1977

Sex Pistols released “God Save the Queen”

God Save the Queen

Sex Pistols

Writer(s): Glen Matlock, John Lydon, Paul Cook, Steve Jones (see lyrics here)


Released: May 27, 1977


First Charted: June 4, 1977


Peak: 1 CL, 1 CO, 2 UK, 6 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.25 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 16.36 video, 74.82 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The “spitting, screaming and spiky Sex Pistols” LW were at the forefront of the punk movement, whose "real legacy was in sweeping away the old guard, bring[ing] music back to the people, [and] allowing even those who only knew three chords on the guitar to make records." LW It gave its audience an escape from “the bombast of supergroups like Yes, the overindulgence of progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, and the allegedly cocaine-fueled nonsense of the Eagles.” LW They

Their first single, “Anarchy in the UK,” was full of “crashing guitar chords and snarling lyrics [that] gave their music energy and a freshman that people were crying out for.” LW It soared to #1 on the UK charts and its follow-up, “God Save the Queen,” climbed to the runner-up position behind position behind Rod Stewart’s double-A-sided single “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” / “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” There have been rumours that “God Save the Queen” actually outsold Rod Stewart, but was kept out of the #1 spot because it might offend people. WK

It has also been reported that the song was banned by the BBC. While they certainly made programming decisions about what to play and not to play, they didn’t ban records. There were also some major retailers who refused to stock the song, but that only made it more marketable because of the taboo associated with the song. SF

It was released during Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, which marked the 25th anniversary of accession to the throne. The celebration was “a nonsense and an insult” LW for those “who lived on [Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher’s breadline.” LW The band has said it wasn’t written specifically in response to the jubilee, but it certainly helped raise their anti-establishment profile. Member Paul Cook said, “We weren’t aware of it at the time. It wasn’t a contrived effort to go out and shock everyone.” WK

The lyrics were anything but celebratory. The song, originally called “No Future,” was about resentment towards “the stifling rule of the old-fashioned royal monarchy” SF and sympathy for the English working class. Lead singer John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, said, “You don’t write ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.” WK The song became “an anthem for the punk movement.” SF


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First posted 10/7/2021; last updated 11/22/2022.

Saturday, May 21, 1977

Elvis Costello “Alison” released

Alison

Elvis Costello

Writer(s): Elvis Costello (see lyrics here)


Released: May 21, 1977


First Charted: March 11, 1978


Peak: 61 CB, 3 CL, 2 CO, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.65 video, 36.19 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Elvis Costello was born Declan Patrick MacManus on August 25, 1954 in London, England. The singer/songwriter has been celebrated as an icon in both the punk rock and new wave arenas since his first release, 1977’s My Aim Is True. The album hit #14 in the UK and reached #32 in the United States, where it went platinum.

“Alison” was the second single released from the album after “Less Than Zero” in March 1977. While it didn’t chart, it has become one of his best-known songs and has been celebrated “as evidence that Costello was a real songwriter, and not just another mangy punk. AMG

The song is about “a man betrayed by the woman he loves…still hopelessly in love…as he watches her throw away her affection on a man he knows will let her down.” AMG The Telegraph called it “a wonderful song about unrequited love,” WK although the sexually-frustrated protanginist’s “barely suppressed fury” AMG and statement that “my aim is true” suggests he wants to kill her. SF

Costello has said little about the origin of the song. He claims it is about disappointing somebody. WK In his 2015 autobiography Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, he said he wrote it “after seeing a beautiful checkout girl at the local supermarket…She was punching in the prices on cans of beans at a cash register and looking as if all the hopes and dreams of her youth were draining away.” WK

Linda Ronstadt covered the song on her 1978 album Living in the USA and it was released as a single, reaching #30 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart. Her version recast the song as “a woman talking to her best friend” AMG instead of “a man’s message to a former lover.” AMG


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First posted 10/1/2022.

Saturday, May 14, 1977

50 years ago: Ben Bernie hit #1 with “Ain’t She Sweet”

Ain’t She Sweet

Ben Bernie & His Roosevelt Orchestra with vocals by Scrappy Lambert and Billy Hillpot

Writer(s): Milton Ager (music), Jack Yellen (words) (see lyrics here)


Recorded: January 28, 1927


First Charted: April 30, 1927


Peak: 14 US, 2 GA, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.4 video, 0.12 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Ain’t She Sweet” and “Happy Days Are Here Again,” both written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen, became symbols of the Roaring Twenties, WK a time when “stubbornly determined American resilience and optimism in the face of hard times.” SS Ironically, though, Ben Selvin’s Orchestra introduced the latter song on October 24, 1929 – the day the stock market crashed when “a frenzy of cascading rumor and panic led to nearly 13 million shares of stock trading hands in one day, with thousands of accounts being wiped out, sweeping aside the prosperity of previous years in one devastating 24-hour period.” SS

Lou Gold and His Orchestra recorded the song first on January 17, 1927, SH but the most successful recording was made 11 days later SH by Ben Bernie and His Roosevelt Orchestra. PM The former vaudeville performer previously had #1 hits with “Sweet Georgia Brown” in 1925 and “Sleepy Time Gal” in 1926. PM He wouldn’t reach the pinnacle again, but had 28 more chart hits for a total of 44 in all. PM

According to SecondHandSongs.com, at least 16 versions of “Ain’t She Sweet” were recorded in 1927, including versions by Harry Richman, Nat Shilkret, and Paul Whiteman. WK Gene Austin and Johnny Marvin also had chart versions of it that year, reaching #4 and #14 respectively. PM

The song resurfaced in 1949 when Mr. Goon Bones & Mr. Ford took it to #14. PM It was also recorded by Pearl Bailey, Bunny Berigan, Eddie Cantor, Nat “King” Cole, Tommy Dorsey, Erroll Garner, Harry James, Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, Frank Sinatra, Big Joe Turner, Gene Vincent, and Lawrence Welk. WK The Beatles recorded it in June 1961 during their first professional recording session. WK


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Ben Bernie
  • SH SecondHandSongs.com
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 364.
  • PM Record Research’s Pop Memories 1890-1954 (1986). By Joel Whitburn. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 468.
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 4/17/2021; last updated 7/17/2022.

Saturday, May 7, 1977

The Eagles’ “Hotel California” hit #1

Hotel California

Eagles

Writer(s): Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey (see lyrics here)


Released: February 22, 1977


First Charted: February 18, 1977


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 12 GR, 11 HR, 10 AC, 1 CL, 8 UK, 12 CN, 60 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.85 UK, 4.85 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 78.6 video, 1104.43 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In the early ’70s, the Eagles took wing, rising up from being Linda Ronstadt’s backup band to becoming the premiere country rock group. Through four albums, they crafted a sound that de-emphasized the twang just enough to give them widespread appeal. In the process, they landed two #1 songs and three more top ten hits.

By their fifth album, personnel changes meant the Eagles had more muscle with the dual guitars of Don Felder and Joe Walsh. This new direction in sound didn’t dampen pop audiences’ enthusiasm – the Hotel California album gave the Eagles two more #1 songs – “New Kid in Town” and the title track. While the first still treated listeners to a slice of country rock, “Hotel California” established the Eagles as a dominant force in the classic rock arena. Critic Toby Creswell called it “their finest moment.” TC

The song’s tale of a luxury resort where “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave” has prompted multiple interpretations. Theories abound as to song’s inspiration although all such rumors have been denied by the band. WK Themes range from heroin addiction to Satan worship, RS500 from being about a cannibal-run hotel, a state mental hospital, or a metaphor for cancer. WK

The song started as singer and drummer Don Henley’s reaction to his breakup with girlfriend Loree Rodkin, but “got more universal.” TC Henley said it was about “the decadence and escapism of the ‘70s.” LW The song is considered an allegory about the music industry and the destructive influence it had on the Eagles. Henley explained, “‘We were all middle-class kids from the Midwest…‘Hotel California’ was our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.’” RS500 Bandmate Glenn Frey asserted that California was just “‘a microcosm for the rest of the world,’” LW a sentiment echoed by Henley’s comments that the song explores “the dark underbelly of America at large.” TC


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Last updated 11/24/2022.