That ’70s song, Vols. 5 and 6

Even if you were around in February 1970 and listening to the Top 40 radio of the day, your take on it may be different than mine.

If you lived in Chicago, your Top 40 was more diverse than the Top 40 heard in Stevens Point, a small college town in central Wisconsin.

Of the 40 songs on the WSPT chart in the first week of February 1970, six were by black artists or groups. As you’d expect, Chicago’s WLS had more than twice as many — including five in the Top 10 alone.

WLS was so influential in the Midwest that it was like dropping a stone into a pond. The songs charted first in Chicago, then rippled through to smaller markets.

Which explains, for example, why the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” was in the first week of February 1970 just breaking into the Top 10 in central Wisconsin and on its last week in the Top 40 in Chicago.

Also among the black artists in the WSPT Top 40 that week: Sly and the Family Stone, Jimmy Cliff, Dionne Warwick and …

“Psychedelic Shack,” the Temptations, from “Psychedelic Shack,” 1970. (The LP is out of print, but the tune is available digitally.)

It had just debuted at No. 38 on WSPT. It was No. 5 in Chicago at the same time. Perhaps this early taste of producer Norman Whitfield’s reinvention of the Tempts’ sound was too freaky for central Wisconsin.

“Blowing Away,” the 5th Dimension, from “The Age of Aquarius,” 1969. (The LP is out of print, but the tune is available on “Ultimate 5th Dimension,” a 2004 greatest-hits compilation.)

This peppy, swinging cover of a Laura Nyro tune was moving up both charts, but was further along in Chicago (No. 9, up from No. 15) than in central Wisconsin (No. 13, up from No. 22).

Charting that week in Chicago but not in central Wisconsin: Eddie Holman, Thelma Houston, R.B. Greaves, Brook Benton, Chairmen of the Board, Delfonics, Luther Ingram, Diana Ross and the Supremes, B.B. King and Stevie Wonder.

I’ll leave it to you to draw any further conclusions from this evidence.


1 Comment

Filed under February 2010, Sounds

One response to “That ’70s song, Vols. 5 and 6

  1. wow have this somewhere on vinyl but haven’t listened to in years and now hearing it again realize it’s a P.E. sample welcome to the terrordome. thx

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