Saturday, July 28, 1979

Boomtown Rats “I Don’t Like Mondays” hit #1 in UK

I Don’t Like Mondays

The Boomtown Rats

Writer(s): Bob Geldof, Johnnie Fingers (see lyrics here)


Released: July 13, 1979


First Charted: July 21, 1979


Peak: 73 US, 84 CB, 70 HR, 4 CL, 1 CO, 14 UK, 4 CN, 12 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.86 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 10.44 video, 68.09 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Boomtown Rats formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1975. The new wave band released its self-titled debut in 1977. It was followed by three top-10 albums, including 1979’s The Fine Art of Surfacing, which included the single “I Don’t Like Mondays.” The band didn’t earn near as much of a following in the United States where Surfacing was their highest charting album at #73.

From a singles’ standpoint, “I Don’t Like Mondays” was the second #1 for the Boomtown Rats in the UK, following 1978’s “Rat Trap.” They had three other top-10 singles in the UK. The song hit #1 in 32 different countries, SF but in the United States it peaked at #73, just like its parent album. It is the only Boomtown Rats’ song to chart.

The piano ballad was written by singer Bob Geldof and keyboardist Johnnie Fingers. The pair were doing a radio interview at Georgia State University’s campus radio station, WRAS, on Jaunary 29, 1979. There was a telex machine beside Geldof and a report came in that 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer opened fire on the children on the playground at Grover Cleveland Elementary in San Diego, California, with a rifle her father gave her for Christmas. She killed the principal and a custodian and injured eight children and a police officer. When asked on the phone by a reporter why she did it, she said, “I just did it for the fun of it. I just don’t like Mondays.” SF

Geldof said, “It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it.” WK Spencer’s family tried to prevent the song’s release in the United States. While unsuccessful, their efforts did leave radio stations leary of playing the song for fear of getting sued. KL Geldof later said he regretted writing the song because it made her famous. WK It won Ivor Novello Awards in the UK for Best Pop Song and Outstanding British Lyric.


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Boomtown Rats
  • 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 249.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 10/1/2022.

Friday, July 27, 1979

50 years ago: “Singin’ in the Rain” charted for the first time

Singin’ in the Rain

Cliff Edwards

Writer(s): Nacio Herb Brown (music), Arthur Freed (lyrics) (see lyrics here)


First Charted: July 27, 1929


Peak: 3 GA, 13 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


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

Singin’ in the Rain

Gene Kelly


Released: May 27, 1952 (movie)


Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 37.55 video, 24.0 streaming

Awards (Edwards):

Click on award for more details.


Awards (Kelly):

About the Song:

Arthur Freed was inspired to write “Singin’ in the Rain” when he saw a man outside his sheet music shop in Seattle dancing during a downpour. Nacio Herb Brown, who often worked with Freed on MGM musicals, then put it to music. SF It was introduced in 1929 by Doris Eaton Travis in The Hollywood Music Box Revue. Months later, it was performed by Cliff Edwards and the Bronx Sisters in The Hollywood Revue of 1929. Edwards was among three artists who charted with the song in 1929. Earl Burtnett took it to #4, Gus Arnheim reached # 9, and Edwards’ version went to the top of the charts.

Edwards, known as Ukulele Ike, was one of the most successful artists of the pre-rock era. His “jazz-flavored musical style made him a popular phenomenon of the 20s.” PM He charted thirty times from 1924 to 1940, including fifteen top-10 hits. He hit #1 with “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” but was probably best known for singing “When You Wish Upon a Star” as Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s animated film Pinocchio.

Years later Freed, now a producer at MGM, pitched the idea of a musical based around his songs. SF It became the 1952 film Singin’ in the Rain, one of the most celebrated musicals of all time. The most famous scene featured star Gene Kelly singing the song while dancing joyously in the rain and splashing in the puddles. The song became inseparable from “Kelly’s brilliant choreography.” LW

It found success again when Mint Royale recorded an electronica version in 2005. It was used in a Gene Kelly CGI-enhanced television ad for Volkswagen Golf SF and subsequently reached #20 on the UK charts. In 2008, 14-year-old George Sampson won Britain’s Got Talent replicating the routine from the ad. It revived the Mint Royale recording and it soared to #1.


Resources:


First posted 11/4/2022; last updated 11/24/2022.

AC/DC released Highway to Hell

First posted 9/4/2010; updated 9/7/2020.

Highway to Hell

AC/DC


Buy Here:


Released: July 27, 1979


Peak: 17 US, 8 UK, 40 CN, 13 AU


Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, -- UK, 15.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: hard rock/heavy metal


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Highway to Hell (9/1/79, #47 US, #14 UK, #29 AR)
  2. Girls Got Rhythm
  3. Walk All Over You
  4. Touch Too Much (2/2/90, #29 UK)
  5. Beating Around the Bush
  6. Shot Down in Flames
  7. Get It Hot
  8. If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It
  9. Love Hungry Man
  10. Night Prowler


Total Running Time: 41:40


The Players:

  • Bon Scott (vocals)
  • Angus Young (guitar)
  • Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
  • Cliff Williams (bass)
  • Phil Rudd (drums)

Rating:

4.167 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

Highway to Hell is the final album recorded with “Bon Scott, AC/DC’s original lead singer who died just months after this album was released. Scott had a rusty, raspy, scream of a voice, like he might break into a coughing fit at any moment.” DC “He had the perfect instrument for such wild-living anthems” DC and “provided the group with a fair share of its signature sleaze;” STE “Scott literally partied himself to death, dying of alcohol poisoning after a night of drinking, a rock & roll fatality that took no imagination to predict.” STE

“In light of his passing, it’s hard not to see Highway to Hell as a last testament of sorts, being that it was his last work and all, and if Scott was going to go out in a blaze of glory” STE this collection of “crunchy, hook-heavy metal classics” DC was “certainly was the way to do it. This is a veritable rogue’s gallery of deviance, from cheerfully clumsy sex talk and drinking anthems to general outlandish behavior. It’s tempting to say that Scott might have been prescient about his end – or to see the title track as ominous in the wake of his death – trying to spill it all out on paper, but it’s more accurate to say that the ride had just gotten very fast and very wild for AC/DC, and he was simply flying high.” STE

“After all, it wasn’t just Scott who reached a new peak on Highway to Hell; so did the Young brothers, crafting their monster riffs into full-fledged, undeniable songs. This is their best set of songs yet, from the incessant, intoxicating boogie of Girls Got Rhythm to If You Want Blood (You've Got It).” STE There’s also “Get It Hot which is more roadhouse rock than metal” DC

“Some of the credit should also go to Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange, who gives the album a precision and magnitude that…[earlier albums] lacked in their grimy charm.” STEHighway to Hell was the first AC/DC album not produced by Harry Vanda and George Young.” WK “Filtered through Mutt’s mixing board, AC/DC has never sounded so enormous, and they’ve never had such great songs, and they had never delivered an album as singularly bone-crunching or classic as this until now.” STE

“The change proved to be fortuitous, and the album was the band’s biggest yet.” WK “This would be the first solid success that AC/DC would achieve in the U.S.” WK “and it propelled AC/DC into the top ranks of hard rock acts” WK as Highway to Hell became the band’s “first album to break the U.S. top 100, eventually reaching #17.” WK “Lange would go on to produce the band’s next two albums and biggest sellers, Back in Black and For Those About to Rock We Salute You.” WK

Resources and Related Links:

Electric Light Orchestra “Don’t Bring Me Down” charted

Don’t Bring Me Down

Electric Light Orchestra

Writer(s): Jeff Lynne (see lyrics here)


First Charted: July 27, 1979


Peak: 4 US, 4 CB, 3 HR, 5 RR, 2 CL, 3 UK, 11 CN, 6 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.25 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 30.7 video, 204.01 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Don’t Bring Me Down” might be Jeff Lynne’s “greatest recorded legacy” UCR as well as his “most concise and representative musical statement.” UCR The song is “pure, vintage Lynne in a way that maybe no other ELO hit can claim.” UCR “You can hear a Jeff Lynne song from a couple miles down the road: It’s all in the bass drum…‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ has got those drums, and oddly enough, that’s about all it has.” UCR

This was the band’s first song that didn’t use strings “and by the Electric Light Orchestra’s ornate arrangement standards, it’s positively rudimentary.” UCR It is ironic that the group which can be summed up as “pop music with strings” AMG got its biggest American hit with a string-free song. It was “powerful enough for rock fans but dance-friendly enough for the disco set.” AMG

Lynne wrote this late in the sessions for the 1979 Discovery album. He wrote the song on piano and for the backing track he slowed down and looped the drums from an earlier song called “On the Run” WK “to create the tune’s trademark beat.” UCR It’s unknown if any other band members played on the track. Finally, he added lyrics “about a girl who thinks she’s too good for the guy she’s with.” SF

The song also included repeated use of the nonsense word “groose.” It was originally just a place-keeper word, but stayed in. SF Some fans though he was singing “Bruce” and, for fun, he has actually sung it that way in live performances. SF He was also informed by German engineer Reinhold Mack that “gruss” means “greetings” in Germany. SF


Resources:


First posted 7/15/2022; last updated 7/22/2022.

Saturday, July 14, 1979

Little River Band “Lonesome Loser” charted

Lonesome Loser

Little River Band

Writer(s): David Briggs (see lyrics here)


First Charted: July 14, 1979


Peak: 6 US, 7 CB, 4 HR, 13 RR, 15 AC, 19 CL, 3 CN, 19 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 8.0 video, 42.45 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Litlte River Band formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1975. The original lineup included three singers – Graeham Goble, Glenn Shorrock, and Beeb Birtles. They landed three top-30 hits in Australia before they broke through to the American market with “It’s a Long Way There,” a #28 hit. It was their first of a dozen top-40 hits in the U.S. from 1976 to 1983.

While most of the band’s songs were written by the singers, “Lonesome Loser” was penned by guitarist David Briggs. He uses gambling imagery to tell the story of a man unlucky in love. He realizes he isn’t going to solve his problems just by having a woman in his life. He has to get his life together first.

“Lonesome Loser” was the lead single from their 1979 album First Under the Wire. It came in the midst of the band’s four consecutive top-10 hits in 1978 and ’79. Goble, Shorrock, and Birtles all sing together at the opening of the song, giving it a distinctive a capella intro.

On a personal note, I generally consider 1979 – when I turned twelve – to be ground zero for when I first actively started paying attention to music. I wouldn’t start my own charts until 1982 (see first chart here), when I was fifteen years old. However, I retroactively created a list of My Top 100 Songs Pre-1982 which included “Lonesome Loser” and its follow-up, “Cool Change.”


Resources:


First posted 6/30/2022.

Journey “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” charted

Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’

Journey

Writer(s): Steve Perry (see lyrics here)


First Charted: July 14, 1979


Peak: 16 US, 15 CB, 12 HR, 6 RR, 4 CL, 12 CN, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 31.12 video, 37.34 streaming

About the Song:

After three albums with more progressive leanings, Journey veered more toward mainstream rock with their 1978 album, Infinity. The band owed much of their new-found audience to the arrival of new frontman, Steve Perry. “Wheel in the Sky,” “Anytime,” and “Lights” were all minor hits at the time – none reached the top 40 of the Billboard pop charts – but have since become staples at classic-rock radio.

It propelled the album to #21 and triple platinum status, the first of six consecutive Journey studio albums to achieve multi-platinum status. That certainly raised the bar for next album, 1979’s Evolution, but Journey stepped up to the challenge. The lead single, “Just the Same Way,” and third single, “Too Late,” had similar success to the singles from Infinity in that they charted on Billboard’s Hot 100, but failed to reach the top 40. The middle single, however, was the big step forward.

“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” was the second single from the album and not only gave Journey its first taste of the top 40, but the top 20. The song was written solely by Steve Perry, although the band’s future hits were typically co-writes between him and/or guitarist Neal Schon and future keyboardist Jonathan Cain.

This is “a gut-wrenching tale of love-gone-wrong, with the desperate opening lines, ‘You make me weep, I wanna die,’ and an extended fade of ‘na na’s as there are no more words to describe the pain.” SF “Perry didn’t make this stuff up…this was a true story. He watched through the window as his girlfriend at the time got out of a Corvette and gave the driver a long, loving kiss goodbye. He calls this song ‘love justice.’” SF


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 7/8/2022.

Thursday, July 12, 1979

Disco Demolition Night: July 12, 1979

Originally posted July 12, 2011.


Chicago DJ Steve Dahl, the leader of Disco Demolition Night


When Chicago radio station WDAI shifted from an album rock format to disco, disc jockey Steve Dahl was one of the casualties. WLUP (known as The Loop) still focused on album rock and snatched him up. They knew they could build on the publicity surrounding his firing and the backlash against disco.

In conjunction with the Chicago White Sox, the radio station coordinated a “Disco Demolition Night”. The promotional event was scheduled to take place on July 12, 1979, at a doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers. Fans who brought a disco record to the game were admitted for 98¢. Between the games, Dahl would blow up the discarded records.

White Sox management hoped for a crowd of 12,000. Instead, an estimated 90,000 people turned out. With the numbers exceeding the stadium’s capacity by nearly 40,000, many people were denied admission and took to scaling the walls to get in.

With the crate already full, staff stopped collecting records from fans. Spectators took to throwing LPs around like Frisbees. They also threw beer and firecrackers. When it was time for the event, Dahl emerged wearing a combat helmet and circling the field in a jeep. Chants of “disco sucks” preceded the explosion of the crate.



A small fire started in the outfield and 7000 people stormed the field, vandalized property, lit more fires, and incited a riot. Chicago police had to clear the field in riot gear. 39 people were arrested. The field was so trashed the White Sox had to postpone the second game and later agree to forfeit it. The event has been called “the emblematic moment of the anti-disco crusade”. WK




Resources and Related Links:

Sunday, July 1, 1979

The Sony Walkman was introduced: July 1, 1979

Originally posted July 1, 2012.

the Walkman TPS-L2, image from Wikipedia.org

The blue-and-silver Walkman pictured above was the first model introduced, going on sale in Japan on July 1, 1979. It hit the U.S. in June 1980. Today the idea of a device at least twice the size of an iPod which held 60-90 minutes of music may seem positively quaint, but at the time the Walkman marked a new era for music on the move. The Walkman represented individual portability; listeners no longer had to rely on big bulky ghetto blasters which shared one’s music with the world, whether they wanted to hear it or not. Suddenly a person could pop in a favorite cassette, plug in a pair of lightweight headphones, and the music could travel with them wherever they went and as long as a pair of AA batteries could take them.

Walkman was a brand tradename used by Sony to mark their portable audio cassette players. The company is still around today, marketing portable audio and video players as well as mobile phones. The prototype for the first one was built by Sony engineer Nobutoshi Kihara in 1978. Sony co-chairman Akio Morita reportedly wanted to listen to operas during long plane trips.

the Stereobelt, image from thenutgraph.com

However, the Walkman owes a debt to a predecessor known as Stereobelt which was invented in 1972 by Andreas Pavel, a German-Brazilian. He had the device patented in Italy in 1977. When Sony began selling its Walkman, it agreed to pay Pavel royalties, but only for sales in Germany. Lawsuits followed over the years, finally endingin a multi-million dollar settlement in 2003.

Eventually the Walkman would see the cassette market disintegrate and portable CD players (including Sony’s Discman, introduced in 1984) would take over. Once the digital age hit, there was no need for music to be stored on a device such as a cassette or disc, opening up the possibilities even more. However, every owner of an iPod or other digital music device owes thanks to the original portable music player.


Resources and Related Links: