Beyond Radio is the place where music discovery and music nostalgia collide. It is your one-stop source for playlists, music charts, remembrances and recommendations. Our Podcast and music therapy playlists combine elements of nostalgia and discovery, while my blog entries reflect on our musical past through the lens of my personal charts from decades past. I weave a story that includes the connection between artists, chart facts and personal anecdotes that hopefully conjure a connection to the soundtrack of your own life. The current charts and playlists are updated monthly or bi-monthly (bi-weekly for the BR250) and are curated based on a passionate audience that produce their own personal charts weekly.
Boz Scaggs got his start in the mid-60s with a failed solo album before teaming up with childhood and college friend Steve Miller as part of his band on their 1st2 records in 1968 and 1969. The early Steve Miller Band albums were vastly different than the hit-making machine of the ’70s, steeped in Psychedelic Blues instead of heartland Classic Rock. Scaggs wrote and sang lead on a couple of tracks from each album, including “Steppin’ Stone”. Going solo again in the late 60s my introduction to him was the song “Dinah Flo” from 1972. This song indicated a direction change, one to a more soulful Pop stance. It only reached #86 on the Hot 100 but certainly received its share of airplay on NYC rock station WNEW, as did 1974’s ‘You Make It So Hard (To Say No”).
His true breakthrough came in 1976 with the album “Silk Degrees” that spawned 5 hit songs. His original version of “We’re All Alone” was not released as a single but received substantial airplay and is my preferred version, though I do like the Rita Coolidge hit version as well. 5 of the songs from the album and all 4 single releases were co-written by David Paich who would go on to form Toto the following year. 1980 became another big year for Scaggs with the release of the album “Middle Man” and a contribution to the “Urban Cowboy” Soundtrack. 2 of those songs, the rocker “Breakdown Dead Ahead” (45) and the movie ballad “Look What You’ve Done To Me” (6), both reached #1 on my personal chart and made my top 10 of the year. The entire album, along with the soundtrack single, was co-written by Scaggs and David Foster while members of Toto also contributed as musicians, most notably Steve Lukather. He also helped write 1 song from the album. All 9 songs from the album placed on my personal chart with this week boasting 5 of them (‘Breakdown’, “Jojo” (48), a song about a pimp on Broadway, “Middle Man” (91), “Isn’t It Time” (111), and ”You Got Some Imagination” (141) ).
Scaggs received other star assists as well from Carlos Santana, Ray Parker Jr., and members of the Eagles (backing vocals on ‘Look’). That song was written and recorded in 1 night. The studio had requested the song for the shooting of the scene the next day. Later in the year, he released “Hits”, a greatest hits package with the new song “Miss Sun”. After that, it wasn’t until 1988 that he released new music again. His 1st name is an abbreviated version of a nickname he got as a child, Bosley.
Quite a few of the performers on the Boz Scaggs songs showed up on the album “21 At 33” by Elton John. The title meaning he had 21 album/EP releases by the age of 33. Lukather and Paich from Toto, David Foster, members of the Eagles, Bill Champlin of Chicago, and a regular Elton contributor James Newton Howard all appeared. This was an underrated album of his in my opinion. It only generated 1 true hit with the easy-going “Little Jeannie” (36). That was only his 2nd top 10 on the Hot 100 since 1976, a period where he dabbled in Disco and wrote with songwriters other than Bernie Taupin. ‘Jeannie’ was co-written with Gary Osborne, whom he had collaborated with on the 1978 album “A Single Man”. His 1979 disco album “Victim Of Love” actually had no songs written by John on it and none have ever been performed live.
The 2nd single from “21 at 33” was “Sartorial Eloquence (Don’t Ya Wanna Play This Game No More?)” (3), which would go to #1 on my chart the following week. It has stood up as one of my favorite songs by him, but barely made the Hot 100 top 40 at #39 and missed the top 40 in the UK at #44. It does have an interesting history though, becoming the theme to the BBC’s annual coverage of the World Snooker Championship. Snooker is a cue sport like pool, with the added level of impeccably dressed participants. Sartorial means “of or related to a tailor or tailored clothing”. So, it makes total sense that one of my favorite songs of 1975 was a song called “Snookeroo” by Ringo Starr, another song relating to the game AND written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. It was coupled with “No-No Song” and a double-sided single in the States, reaching #3 on the Hot 100. It did not chart in the UK and surprisingly through his solo career, Starr did much better on the charts overall in the U.S.
The lyrics to ‘Eloquence’ were written by Tom Robinson. His band had a handful of UK top 40 hits, their debut single “2-4-6-8 Motorway” reaching #5 in 1977. I must remember this song from airplay on WBCN and WFNX in Boston as I know it well, but I never charted it back during my college days. Robinson, who is gay, attempted suicide at the age of 16 when homosexual activity was a crime in the UK. In ‘Motorway’ he references a gay truck driver and 1 of his most popular songs is “Glad To Be Gay”.
Another favorite from “21 at 33” is “Two Rooms At The End Of The World” (10), 1 of 3 songs on the album reuniting John with Bernie Taupin. The other 2, “White Lady White Powder” and “Chasing The Crown” which would debut the following week, would make 5 top 20s on my chart in 1980, 4 of which would make the top 10. These 3 are all upbeat Pop-Rockers. I can’t decide if I like ‘Rooms’ (horn-laden with a Phil Collins vibe) or ‘Crown’ (rollicking with urgent female background vocals) better.
Another album that had all of its songs reach my personal chart (and all 7 made the top 15) is “Hold Out” by Jackson Browne. I can’t say that would be the case this time around. It is already showing signs of weakness with “Boulevard” (52) which originally peaked at #5 and “Hold Out” (100)that made it all the way to the top. That song will at least make it to the top 25, I suspect. The song that will probably perform the best is “Disco Apocalypse” which was the last song I charted from the album. That could probably return to the top 10. Browne has connections to Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles, and a myriad of other artists, being a prolific songwriter. In 1966 he was a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In the summer of 1980, they had a top 25 hit “Make A Little Magic” with the aforementioned Nicolette Larson. This was the last week that the Eagles “In The City” (126) was in my top 150, after peaking at #2 in June. That was my last charted song from their swan song album “The Long Run”. Joe Walsh was featured on lead vocal and he is represented on the chart this week as well with his solo song “All Night Long” (73).
Bob Seger was a co-writer on the Eagles 1979 hit “Heartache Tonight”. The Detroit rocker’s album “Against The Wind” was a major player for me back then with 9 songs charting; the best showing the title track (117) that peaked at #5. This week 4 others are on the chart “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” (123), “No Man’s Land” (108), “Long Twin Silver Line” (77) and “Betty Lou’s Gettin’ Out Tonight” (47). Like Browne, he suffers in the present day, I imagine from Classic Rock burnout. “Fire Lake” has seen the biggest erosion, down from #8 in 1980 to a #58 peak now.
These major players on my 1980 personal chart (Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, Boz Scaggs, Elton John, Jackson Browne, and Bob Seger) all got their starts in the late 60s and early 70s, spending the better part of a decade honing their craft before reaching their peak. I can’t say this is as true nowadays. Likewise, the J. Geils Band got their start in the mid-60s. The band started as an acoustic blues trio called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels. I love this, being a big Peanuts fan. By the end of the decade they had moved towards electric blues and through the 70s solidified their stance a bar band with a number of well-known party songs starting with 1971’s “Looking For A Love” and continuing with 1973’s “(Ain’t Nothin’ But) a House Party”. They really came into their own commercially with the album “Love Stinks”. This was the biggest album for me that year, perhaps because I was a newcomer to Massachusetts, their home base. They clocked 3 #1’s and a #2 on my chart and placed 5 songs in my year-end top 100. “Come Back” had the right ingredients (dance pulse and rock swagger) to become my #1 song of the year. I love it when those 2 elements come together exactly right. Seth Justman’s keyboard is just killer in this gem.
Lead singer Peter Wolf started out as a late-night DJ on Boston’s WBCN in the late 60s and was married to Faye Dunaway from 1974-1979. Perhaps the song “Love Stinks” was written in response to that break-up. This was another #1 on my chart for the band and just missed the top 10 this time around. Both of these songs had minor national top 40 impact, reaching #32 and #38 but they were ubiquitous in Boston. There have been comparisons made to the Kingsmen “Louie Louie” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but to me, either is a stretch. The song has been used in a number of movies, most notably “The Wedding Singer”.
The album is a true party record. The guitar/keyboard/harmonica combo is a winner. The hand-clappy “Just Can’t Wait” (19) was the 3rdsingle release and another #1 for me. “Till The Walls Come Tumblin’ Down” (28) and “Takin’ You Down” (a #2 peak on my chart) both feature response backing vocals (ooh yeah) and feel like good time drinking songs. “No Anchovies Please” is a great unexpected comedy piece (“that bowling ball, it’s my wife!”). “Night Time” (90), coming off a #19 peak in June is a sped-up remake of the Strangeloves 1966 top 30 hit. 1 of the Strangloves was Richard Gottehrer, who if you remember was Blondie’s original producer and co-founded Sire Records. Another unexpected connection that makes my life so great.