Tag Archives: Curtis Mayfield

The Top 95 and then some

My friend Al in Milwaukee sent along an old end-of-year music roundup from the FM radio station we listened to in the ’70s. It is endlessly fascinating.

WIFC 1972 Front.jpg

Al sent “The Top 95 Heavys of 1972.” The list of the top 95 songs of the year as played on WIFC — 95.5 FM in Wausau, Wisconsin — is by itself worthy of a post for its sheer diversity.

Alice Cooper is on the list, as is Donna Fargo. Wayne Newton (twice!), along with Led Zeppelin (twice!). Just picking four spots at random, Nos. 45-48 are held by Elton John, the Chi-Lites, Gary Glitter and Arlo Guthrie. Musical stew, anyone?

Most interesting, though, is what’s below “The Top 95 Heavys of 1972.” No fancy title, just this note:

“Because of the increasing popularity of album music in the WIFC area we have also compiled a list of the thirty most requested album cuts.”

It, too, is a rather eclectic list, with “Poor Boy Boogie” by Mac Davis at No. 1.

And this at No. 2.


“Pusherman,” Curtis Mayfield, from the “Superfly” soundtrack, 1972. (I recently picked up a nice vinyl copy of this record, and here’s a fresh rip for you.)

And this at No. 28.


20 Flight Rock,” Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, from “Lost in the Ozone,” 1971. Ah, the Commander. Long one of my guilty pleasures.

And “Sweet Jane” by Mott the Hoople at No. 30.

Seconds on musical stew, anyone?

Yes, we take requests. Here’s the chart.

WIFC 1972 Front.jpg


Filed under April 2009, Sounds

Pusher men

These two songs are forever linked in my head, cued up to a certain time and place.

“Pusherman,” done by Curtis Mayfield for the “Superfly” soundtrack in 1972, hid its tough message under Mayfield’s falsetto and a solid soul/funk groove. The fantastic percussion subtly added some street cred.

It was a song you could play anywhere in the winter of 1972-73 and get away with it.

Not so “The Pusher” by Steppenwolf. Nothing subtle about their 1968 cover of this Hoyt Axton tune — growling, spitting out “God damn, The pusher/God damn, God damn, the pusher/I said God damn, God, God damn the pusher man.”

Found that out one night on the way to a junior varsity basketball game. Someone on the bus played the Steppenwolf cut a little too loudly, sending “God damns” raining all over the place.

“Hey!” the coach yelled from the front of the bus. “Enough!”

Enough for him, maybe, but not for us.

“Hey!” he yelled a little louder, a little more insistently. “I said enough, all right?”

I wish I could say someone had the presence of mind to follow it up with Curtis Mayfield, but all I remember is an awkward silence … then a few quiet laughs among the lads and another Steppenwolf song, the volume turned down just a tad.

So here, 34 years later, is that sequence, the way it should have been on the school bus to Shawano that night.


“The Pusher,” Steppenwolf, from “Steppenwolf,” 1968. (Also on the “Easy Rider” soundtrack, of course.)


“Pusherman,” Curtis Mayfield, from “Superfly” soundtrack, 1972.

1 Comment

Filed under May 2007, Sounds

My oldies station does not want me

Well, maybe it would like me to listen. But it clearly does not want my opinion about the music it plays.

The other night, I received a call from a woman with a honeyed Southern accent, asking whether I’d be willing to attend a local gathering to help rate music. Sure, I said.

Then she asked what radio station I most often listened to. I told her WAPL, our local rock dinosaur in this corner of Wisconsin (and whose playlist certainly can be described as “oldies”).

Then she asked whether I listened to an oldies station. Sure, from time to time, I said. She asked me which one. I drew a blank.

Oh, OK. Never mind. Thanks, but no thanks. Uninvited.

Shunned by what I am guessing is WOGB. It’s owned by Cumulus Media, based in Atlanta. That would explain the honeyed Southern accent.

I ran this past a friend who knows a lot more about radio than I do. He assured me it’s standard procedure. He also can explain it much better than I can:

“My guess is that for some reason they want to exclude people who cross over between ‘APL and whatever the oldies station is up there, although for what reason I don’t know. … These focus groups generally rely heavily on the station’s core listeners, because they’re the people most likely to have opinions about the station; the vast majority of people like their favorite stations but don’t obsess about it.”

OK, I’ll buy that. After all, I might have suggested they play oldies like …

One from 1969: “Kick Out The Jams,” by the MC5. You really ought to.

Or one from 1971: “We Got To Have Peace,” by Curtis Mayfield. Yes, we do.

Or one from 1974: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” by Gil Scott-Heron. Hey, I heard it on FM radio in Wausau, Wisconsin, when it came out in 1974, so why not now?

Or one from 1975: “Fight The Power (Part I),” by the Isley Brothers.

Nah, they’ll never play any of that. Talk about your bullshit going down.

1 Comment

Filed under April 2007, Sounds like bull to me