Originally written March 5, 2014.
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Yo! It’s Friday night, and you know what that means! Yeah, I know, it means you gotta work tomorrow. Lots of people in those shoes these days, but you can take back one little piece of your weekend with a Top 10 flashback!
This week’s stop on our ongoing tour finds us in Indianapolis in 1969, listening to a then-rare FM Top 40 station. Oh, there was Top 40 on FM, but it was usually simulcast from the affiliated AM stations. Yes, kids, we really did get our music from AM in those days, and FM was an afterthought – the exact reverse of today. But 93.1 WNAP was something of a pioneer, playing the hits for Indy in high fidelity stereo. They later went to AOR (album-oriented rock) as The Buzzard, went through a series of format/call letter changes afterward, and today are right back where they started as WIBC-FM with a news/talk format. The WNAP calls are now in the Philadelphia area on an AM gospel station. We will look at the top ten songs that Indianapolisans (all right, what DO you call them? Indyans?) were enjoying on their FM radios 45 years ago this week.
So don’t take the brown acid! Survey dated March 8, 1969.
Spirit – I Got A Line On You
I believe radio personalities were legally required to refer to them as “Randy California and Spirit.” This was their only Top 40 hit, but “Nature’s Way,” from a couple years later, should also be familiar to rock radio listeners. Spirit had a big influence on Jimmy Page – listen to this from 1968:
You can jump to :45 if you’ve never heard this and can’t wait for the payoff. Pretty blatant lift, huh?
Diana Ross & The Supremes – I’m Living In Shame
This song is a lot like one of my mother’s favorite movies, 1959’s “Imitation Of Life,” a classic tearjerker about a light-skinned black girl who pretends to be white and refuses to acknowledge her loving mother until it’s too late. The song’s title takes on a far different meaning in the last verse. Features the usual top-notch musicianship of the Funk Brothers.
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Baby, Baby Don’t Cry
Smokey was Motown’s official poet, and he had the smoothest, most effortless falsetto in the business. This one definitely deserves more spins than it gets today, which is practically none. Not even here in Detroit.
1910 Fruitgum Company – Indian Giver
Then there are the songs that belong on the scrap heap. For our younger readers who may have never heard the term, an “Indian giver” was someone who, well, gave you something then took it back. Just like those pesky native Americans did, right? The term and the song are both thankfully obsolete.
First Edition – But You Know I Love You
Yep, that’s Kenny Rogers there. Not one of their better-known songs, and understandably so – it’s pretty weak.
New Colony Six – Things I’d Like To Say
This one’s rather weak, too. Oh, it’s nice to hear again, but we’ll just let it hibernate another 45 years. Cool?
Foundations – Build Me Up, Buttercup
Now here’s one you’ll catch on your oldies station every day. Every. Single. Fucking. Day. Day after day, week after week, year in and year out, until you fucking want to shove a fucking glowing hot fucking needle into your fucking eyes. This is one of those songs I used to love, but excessive airplay has ruined for me. An integrated group was somewhat remarkable in 1969, and still is in 2014.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Proud Mary
Another one that still gets played too damn much. It’s true about this song and wedding receptions, but you’re more likely to hear the Ike & Tina Turner version these days. The ladies like it nice and rough.
Tommy Roe – Dizzy
This is a sentimental favorite of mine. I was 7 and had gotten this cool little radio for Christmas; the first radio of my own I could take anywhere. It looked like a Sunoco gas pump:
It was this and B.J. Thomas’s “Hooked On A Feeling” I remember most coming out of that tiny speaker.
All righty, let’s slide down the chart for the “oh, wow” song of the week. This psychedelic number rocked my little world, not to mention that Sunoco gas pump radio. At #19, ignored by oldies and classic rock radio alike, here’s Bubble Puppy with “Hot Smoke & Sassafras.”
With a name like Bubble Puppy, you’d expect them to sound more like, say, 1910 Fruitgum Company. Nope.
So, which song took the checkered flag at Indy’s WNAP this week in 1969? It’s time to show you, every one:
This song was actually recorded in 1967, and the Zombies had broken up by the time it was released. Is it considered overplayed if I still like it after all this time?
So let’s discuss the hidden messages in the music of the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Did you know that if you play “Simon Says” backwards, it says “nyip zwip fllllerp sit nyowp”? Try it and see for yourself!
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