Ranking #16 singles, U.S. edition: 1975-1978

Too young for punk, too old for orthodoxy, I don’t follow the instant dismissals of the late seventies, yet, my god, “Wonderful Tonight” inspires one. Somnolent, as charming as drugging a date, it sits there, waiting to be forgiven. Perhaps the sexually, uh, fraught Peter Townshend could’ve done better than Roger Daltrey on “Squeeze Box” — why didn’t Townshend call it “Calling Dr. Love”? It’s at the same level.

Thankfully, Parliament offered compensatory if sad pleasures — how on earth could “Flash Light” have wowed a public less than Pablo Cruise? Hell, even Robert Palmer’s top 40 debut — a recurrent I still hear in grocery stores — shames Player, Little River Band, or whatever.

The Hague

Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight
The Who – Squeeze Box
Mary MacGregor – Torn Between Two Lovers


KISS – Calling Dr. Love
Neil Diamond – Desiree
Neil Sedaka – Love in the Shadows
Linda Ronstadt – Back in the U.S.A.
Silver – Wham Bam Shang-a-Lang

Sound, Solid

The Blackbyrds – Walking in Rhythm
Mac Davis – Rock ‘n’ Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life)
Little River Band – Happy Anniversary
Ronnie Milsap – It Was Almost Like a Song

Good to Great

Parliament – Flash Light
The Dwight Twilley Band – I’m On Fire
Queen – You’re My Best Friend
The Jimmy Castor Bunch – The Bertha Butt Boogie
Robert Palmer – Every Kinda People
Polly Brown – Up in a Puff of Smoke

4 thoughts on “Ranking #16 singles, U.S. edition: 1975-1978

  1. Rowr! Neil Sedaka in his freakish post-mortem mid-70s half-life and freaking KISS getting an artistic leg up on The Who! Well, I can’t argue with any of that! “Squeeze Box” was the saddest thing to shamble out of the studio under Townshend’s pen and that’s taking my legendary enmity to the whole “Tommy” project into account!

    The smoking hot and seminal “Flash Light” only made it to #16?! Inconceivable! Good to see Robert Palmer got higher in the chart than I would have guessed. And after 40+ years of reading about how crucial Dwight Twilley’s “I’m On Fire” is/was to the Power Pop movement, I have yet to ever hear this allegedly ace rock tune! Why, momma, why?

  2. Another (deliberate?) mistake here: Mary MacGregor went to number one (which is a big factor in Sean Ross’ calculations having given it such a high Lost Factor – “Flash Light” otoh has endured and has a very low Lost Factor though partially because its year-end position was much lower).

    You can’t seriously rate the Mac Davis song (a hit in the UK for the Australian Kevin Johnson) that highly, surely!?

    “Up in a Puff of Smoke” struggled in the artist’s home country: by all accounts (well, Marcello Carlin’s account anyway) she made a UK TV appearance in blackface around this time which obviously didn’t help her reputation.

    1. Yikes. I calculate using CTRL-F. I don’t know how I got MacGregor wrong.

      Mac Davis is a curious case. A hack in all the ways that count, I don’t mind a few of the hits. He and Dolly Parton co-wrote a few solid tunes in the late ’80s.

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