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Audio Samples of "Billboard's" #1 Pop Singles


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Many people (disco people) list Rock Your Baby as the first true disco hit even though it's debated by others...

I'm a disco freak--though I tend ot like the long obscure eurodisco tracks (alec Costandinos' Romeo and Juliette anyone?) with a soft spot for anythign Donna Summer did with the equally brilliant Moroder

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Eric, thanks a lot for commenting. Given how much you like disco, you'll be glad to hear that so much of it will be present in the next several installments of number one hits. I'd really like to know if any of these upcoming disco songs are among your favorites. I'd also be interested to know which lesser-known disco songs (in your opinion) should have reached #1.

1974 (Part 4 of 4):

384. I Can Help--Billy Swan (2 weeks, November 23)

385. Kung Fu Fighting--Carl Douglas (2 weeks, December 7)

386. Cat's in the Cradle--Harry Chapin (1 week, December 21)

387. Angie Baby--Helen Reddy (1 week, December 28)

1975 (Part 1 of 3):

388. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds--Elton John (2 weeks, January 4)

389. Mandy--Barry Manilow (1 week, January 18)

390. Please Mr. Postman--The Carpenters (1 week, January 25)

391. Laughter in the Rain--Neil Sedaka (1 week, February 1)

392. Fire--The Ohio Players (1 week, February 8)

393. You're No Good--Linda Ronstadt (1 week, February 15)

394. Pick Up the Pieces--The Average White Band (1 week, February 22)

395. Best of My Love--The Eagles (1 week, March 1)

396. Have You Never Been Mellow--Olivia Newton-John (1 week, March 8)

397. Black Water--The Doobie Brothers (1 week, March 15)

398. My Eyes Adored You--Frankie Valli (1 week, March 22)


*The songs in this installment of number one hits are a vast improvement from those in the last couple of batches. Of course, that's because 1975 was so much better than 1974 when it came to pop music.

*"I Can Help" is a great song that captures the magic of rock and roll's early years.

*"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was originally recorded by the Beatles, who placed it on their "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.

*Barry Manilow's first hit, "Mandy," was originally titled "Brandy." The song's title was changed in order to ensure that people would not confuse this song with "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)," which had been a #1 hit for Looking Glass in 1972.

*The Carpenters' version of "Please Mr. Postman" marked the second time that particular song hit #1, as the Marvelettes originally took the song to the top way back in 1961.

*The most remarkable musical comeback of 1975 undoubtedly belonged to Neil Sedaka, given that "Laughter in the Rain" was his first major hit in a dozen years. The person responsible for this comback was none other than Elton John, who decided to release "Laughter in the Rain" on his own label, Rocket Records. (I always get a chuckle over this given how very different John and Sedaka sound from each other.)

*Although "You're No Good" was her only #1 hit, Linda Ronstadt had three #2 singles: "When Will I Be Loved," "Somewhere Out There" (performed alongside James Ingram), and "Don't Know Much" (performed alongside Aaron Neville).

*My favorite instrumental from the 70's would have to be "Pick Up the Pieces" by the Average White Band. This song can be heard in one of my very favorite movies--"Superman II"--during a scene when the three Kryptonian villians (General Zod, Ursa, and Non) roam through a bar in rural Idaho.

*Although (as I stated earlier) Neil Sedaka had the most unlikely comeback in 1975, Frankie Valli would definately be a close second. Valli's previous hit singles came back in 1967, when he had a solo hit with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," and his group--The Four Seasons--scored with "C'mon Marianne." In 1975, not only did Valli have a huge solo hit with "My Eyes Adored You," but the Four Seasons also had a smash hit with "Who Loves You" (which peaked at #3.)

*In case you didn't notice this, note that the last ten songs in this installment all spent only one week at #1. Actually, this streak is not over, given that the first two songs in the next batch also were number one for just one week. This combined total of twelve consecutive songs spending just one week at number one is easily an all-time record (in chart history) for such an occurrence to have happened.

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Eric, knock yourself out! We don't mind going back and we're interested in your comments!!

I didn't really realize it until you pointed it out: I Can Help does sound "early rock 'n roll." It's pretty catchy too.

Kung Fu Fighting is one of those silly songs that I have to admit that I absolutely loved! There's something very infectious about it.

Laughter in the Rain: I hated it when it came out and only recently did I come to realize that despite the sappy sentiment of the lyrics, Sedaka does a very nice vocal performance on this song. In fact, the vocal is beautiful.

The Ohio Players track smokes, no pun intended, and it's sexy as hell.

Love the vocal performance on You're No Good. One of her best.

Pick Up the Pieces - what a great record that was. I might even go download that one as a ringtone, LOL. It's awesome!

Blackwater was just incredible. It has a wonderful down-home feel to it without sounding country or corny.

The next segment will begin with Lady Marmalade and those three women who could belt their asses off!!

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Sorry that it has been so long since my last update. Unfortunately, prior to today, I had been experiencing technical problems with SON (for the past few weeks). I'd like to thank the hard working SON staff for fixing all of these problems.

1975 (Part 2 of 3):

399. Lady Marmalade--Labelle (1 week, March 29)

400. Lovin' You--Minnie Riperton (1 week, April 5)

401. Philadelphia Freedom--The Elton John Band (2 weeks, April 12)

402. (Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song--B.J. Thomas (1 week, April 26)

403. He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)--Tony Orlando & Dawn (3 weeks, May 3)

404. Shining Star--Earth, Wind, & Fire (1 week, May 24)

405. Before the Next Teardrop Falls--Freddy Fender (1 week, May 31)

406. Thank God I'm a Country Boy--John Denver (1 week, June 7)

407. Sister Golden Hair--America (1 week, June 14)

408. Love Will Keep Us Together--The Captain & Tennille (4 weeks, June 21)

409. Listen to What the Man Said--Wings (1 week, July 19)

410. The Hustle--Van McCoy & the Soul City Symphony (1 week, July 26)

411. One of These Nights--The Eagles (1 week, August 2)

412. Jive Talkin'--The Bee Gees (2 weeks, August 9)

413. Fallin' in Love--Hamilton, Joe Frank, & Reynolds (1 week, August 23)


*Labelle's disco classic, "Lady Marmalade," went to #1 again in 2001 via a cover version by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, and Pink.

*Because she possessed a five-octave vocal range, the lovely Minnie Riperton was able to sing musical notes that few others could. Tragically, Riperton's career was cut short when she died of lymph cancer in 1979. Her talented daughter, Maya Rudolph, is currently a cast member of "Saturday Night Live."

*Tony Orlando & Dawn's "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" was a cover of a 1960 record by Jerry Butler. However, Butler's original version (which I prefer over Orlando's cover) was titled "He Will Break Your Heart," despite the fact that these words were never sung in the recording.

*The distinctive harmonies of Earth, Wind, & Fire make them one of my favorite disco groups. I believe that the group was originally going to be called "Earth, Air, & Fire" (after three of the planet's elements), but the group decided to replace "Air" with "Wind."

*"Before the Next Teardrop Falls" by Freddy Fender has to be one of the most beautifully romantic songs I have ever heard.

*Spending four weeks at number one, "Love Will Keep Us Together" was the most popular song of 1975. The recording also built upon the great success Neil Sedaka had during that year, given the fact that he co-wrote the song.

*Because Paul McCartney has a relatively modest ego (by rock music standards), he originally decided to call his post-Beatles group (simply) "Wings." However, given the lack of commercial success of early Wings singles, the name was changed to "Paul McCartney & Wings" for a couple of years. By 1975--when "Listen to What the Man Said" was released--the group had achieved stardom and, as a result, the name was shortened back to just "Wings."

*Like Minnie Riperton, Van McCoy's career was cut short due to a premature death. In McCoy's case, the cause of death was a heart attack.

*After a successful career in the late-60's and early-70's (which included a number one hit), the Bee Gees all of a sudden faded away. It was not until "Jive Talkin'" was released when the Bee Gees' second--and much more successful--career finally began.

*Although Hamilton, Joe Frank, & Reynolds scored their biggest hit with "Fallin' in Love," my favorite song of theirs is "Don't Pull Your Love," which peaked at #4 in 1971.

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It's nice to be back!!

Riperton had a beautiful voice. I kind of wish it wasn't wasted on a sap-fest like Lovin' You, but she makes it pay off.

I adore Earth Wind and Fire. They are great musicians and they had some fabulous material.

The Hustle can be easily dismissed as just another disco tune, but it has some amazing elements to it. The melodies are well layered and the fact that McCoy wrote the entire song in about a half hour is pretty astounding.

I've heard too many people to count try to sing the Denver track during karaoke. That is a hard song to sing! It's a great, catchy number.

Jive Talkin' is one of my favorite songs by the Bee Gees. And they were just getting warmed up.

The next segment should begin with Get Down Tonight, by KC and the Sunshine Band.

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That's unbelievable that "The Hustle" was written in just 30 minutes.

1975 (Part 3 of 3):

414. Get Down Tonight--KC & the Sunshine Band (1 week, August 30)

415. Rhinestone Cowboy--Glen Campbell (2 weeks, September 6)

416. Fame--David Bowie (2 weeks, September 20)

417. I'm Sorry--John Denver (1 week, September 27)

418. Bad Blood--Neil Sedaka (3 weeks, October 11)

419. Island Girl--Elton John (3 weeks, November 1)

420. That's the Way (I Like It)--KC & the Sunshine Band (2 weeks, November 22)

421. Fly, Robin, Fly--Silver Convention (3 weeks, November 29)

422. Let's Do It Again--The Staple Singers (1 week, December 27)

1976 (Part 1 of 3):

423. Saturday Night--The Bay City Rollers (1 week, January 3)

424. Convoy--C.W. McCall (1 week, January 10)

425. I Write the Songs--Barry Manilow (1 week, January 17)

426. Theme from "Mahogany" (Do You Know Where You're Going To)--Diana Ross (1 week, January 24)

427. Love Rollercoaster--The Ohio Players (1 week, January 31)

428. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover--Paul Simon (3 weeks, February 7)


*Glen Campbell was a one-time member of the Champs (an instrumental group); however, he was not part of that group when they reached #1 with "Tequila" in 1958. Campbell also had a long solo career prior to "Rhinestone Cowboy," given that his first charted single occurred back in 1961.

*David Bowie's "Fame" is undoubtedly one of the first New Wave songs to have become a hit. Another such song would have to be 1975's "Autobahn" by Kraftwerk.

*"I'm Sorry" by John Denver is unusual in that the single's flip side--"Calypso"--became a huge hit in its own right: The week after "I'm Sorry" hit #1, "Calypso" overtook it in popularity and would begin a four week stay at #2.

*Although KC & the Sunshine Band scored five number one hits, only "That's the Way (I Like It)" spent more than a week at #1.

*The Bay City Rollers had scored a series of hits that harkened back to early rock and roll. (Aside from "Saturday Night," I also really like their cover version of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be with You.") Although the group was from the UK, they chose to name themselves after Bay City, Michigan (after one of the group's members had randomly put a pin on a map, and the pin landed on Bay City). Interestingly, Bay City, Michigan was also where AW took place until sometime in the 1980's, when that soap decided to relocate Bay City to the state of Illinois. And in real life, note that Bay City, Michigan was where Madonna was born.

*Part of "Convoy" was recorded via C.W. McCall talking into a CB radio (which was a fad that reached the peak of its popularity in 1976).

*I must say that I am no fan of Barry Manilow. By the way, Manilow did not write "I Write the Songs" (or any of his other number one hits, for that matter).

*Surprisingly, "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" was Paul Simon's only solo number one hit. Three years earlier, Simon had two #2 hits: "Kodachrome" and "Loves Me Like a Rock."

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KC and the Sunshine Band had some great material. Their songs were always so full sounding and it's because they did not rely on synthesizers - they used real horns, guitars, drums, etc.

To be honest, I'm surprised Fame went to number one but only in the sense that it really didn't sound like anything else on the radio at the time. Perhaps that contributed to it's success.

I thought Bad Blood was very well done. Two legendary voices on one record could hardly miss - oh wait, Ebony and Ivory is coming up in the 80's, LOL. But Elton and Sedaka sounded awesome together and the song itself was pretty good.

Fly Robin Fly is another one of those intrumental disco tunes that had a great melody. I loved this song actually. I'm not positive but I think the song uses real string instruments. That strings melody is what I love about this song.

CW McCall was a commercial actor and wrote a jingle for a bread company commercial. Convoy emerged from that. Pretty innovative for that time but sounds kind of hokey now.

Love Rollercoaster is hot! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers did a wonderful remake of it.

I may be starting to lose it.... I think the next segment starts with the Theme from S.W.A.T., followed by the Miracles' Love Machine.

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Im-n-a-whirl, I completely agree with your assessment of "Ebony and Ivory." And as always, you were correct in your predictions as to which songs would come up first in this installment. (And I must say that it was extremely hard to remember that "Theme from 'S.W.A.T.'" starts off this batch of number one hits.)

1976 (Part 2 of 3):

429. Theme from "S.W.A.T."--The Rhythm Heritage (1 week, February 28)

430. Love Machine (Part 1)--The Miracles (1 week, March 6)

431. December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)--The Four Seasons (3 weeks, March 13)

432. Disco Lady--Johnnie Taylor (4 weeks, April 3)

433. Let Your Love Flow--The Bellamy Brothers (1 week, May 1)

434. Welcome Back--John Sebastian (1 week, May 8)

435. Boogie Fever--The Sylvers (1 week, May 15)

436. Silly Love Songs--Wings (5 weeks, May 22)

437. Love Hangover--Diana Ross (2 weeks, May 29)

438. Afternoon Delight--The Starland Vocal Band (2 weeks, July 10)

439. Kiss and Say Goodbye--The Manhattans (2 weeks, July 24)

440. Don't Go Breaking My Heart--Elton John & Kiki Dee (4 weeks, August 7)

441. You Should Be Dancing--The Bee Gees (1 week, September 4)

442. (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty--KC & the Sunshine Band (1 week, September 11)

443. Play That Funky Music--Wild Cherry (3 weeks, September 18)


*This installment of number one hits contains two television theme songs: "Theme from 'S.W.A.T.'" and "Welcome Back." To the best of my knowledge, only two more TV theme songs have it #1 since then: 1985's "Miami Vice Theme" by Jan Hammer and 1992's "How Do You Talk to an Angel?" by the Heights. Unfortunately, TV theme songs don't perform nearly as well on the charts as do movie themes.

*"Love Machine" is one of my all time favorite Miracles' records (even though Smokey Robinson had left the group back in 1972). Surprisingly, "Love Machine" was also the very last hit for the group, marking the end of a 15 year period of constant hits.

*"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" was the Four Seasons' first #1 hit in a dozen years. However, the group had changed a lot since the mid-60's, given that Frankie Valli was the only original member left. On this particular record, Valli actually shared lead vocals with member Gerry Polci.

*In 1976, the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) established a new certification--platinum--in order to categorize singles that sold far more copies than gold records. The very first song to be certified platinum was Johnnie Taylor's "Disco Lady."

*The Bellamy Brothers attained ten number one country hits, but "Let Your Love Flow"--their only major pop hit--was not one of them.

*Although John Sebastian scored many hits as lead singer of the Lovin' Spoonful back in the 60's, "Welcome Back" (the theme song from "Welcome Back, Kotter") was his one and only solo hit.

*In my opinion, the Sylvers sound almost exactly like the Jackson Five.

*While five weeks at number one is hardly a record for longevity, "Silly Love Songs" was the first single in over 36 months to spend that much time at the top.

*"Afternoon Delight" drew some controversy due to its sexual nature. Yet, despite the recognition the song received, and the fact that the group won 1976's "Best New Artist" Award at the Grammys, the Starland Vocal Band wound up as a one-hit wonder.

*Aside from the retro sounding "Crocodile Rock," the upbeat "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" is my favorite Elton John song. Surprisingly, it would also be his last #1 hit until 1992.

*Here's a useless fact that almost nobody could care about: "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" is the only #1 hit in history that has one particular word repeated (as many as) four times in its title.

*The group Wild Cherry got its unusual name after one of its members looked at the flavor of cough drops he was sucking. In spite of the fact that "Play That Funky Music" remains one of the most recognizable songs of the disco genre, it proved to be Wild Cherry's only top 40 hit.

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This isn't the greatest batch of songs in the world and the next segment begins with two of the worst songs ever recorded: A Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy, and Disco Duck by Rick Dees. Thankfully, Chicago's If You Leave Me Now follows those two travesties of recorded music.

You know what I'm going to say: I loved Kiss and Say Goodbye. I love it's phrasing and it's lyrics. It's a "wow" song.

You Should Be Dancing is pure high-octane energy. You may think you can sit still when this song is played but trust me, it's not possible!

I thought the Starland Vocal Band was extremely talented. They had wonderful harmonies and those harmonies made Afternoon Delight a hell of a lot more tolerable. Too bad they won the Best New Artist/Kiss of Death Grammy.

The Sylvers sounded exactly like the Jackson Five and so did a few other boy bands coming up a decade or two later. The original is still the best.

Wild Cherry can also be given kudos for greasing the wheels that let to the end of the career of Vanilla Ice. He essentially got away with sampling the Bowie/Queen tune Under Pressure, but when he sampled Play That Funky Music, Wild Cherry sprang into action when the leader of the group learned that they received no songwriting credits - and successfully sued. I wouldn't even call what Ice did sampling, I'd call it blatantly ripping off, especially with the Wild Cherry track.

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I actualy love Fly Robin Fly but I have a huge soft spot for Eurodisco (even over the more respected American or Philly disco which was less reliant on synths and more based in Funk--Chic, etc) SYlvester Lveay who was the main force behind it went on to do a lot in pop music--he worked with Moroder on Donna Summer s much respected (Rolling Stone picked it as one of the 5 albums of the year ) 1980 post disco Wanderer album, and is now heavily invovled in writing several hit musicals in Germany. The original title for the song was, I kid you not, Run Robin Run. And yes, like nearly all Eurodisco until Moroder and Summer's 1977 seminal I Feel Love, it DID include a real string session and even most of the drums were what now we'd call live (which actually amazingly si true of I Feel Love too). People often forget how talented the session musicans for disco were--in Europe especially often being taken from the best orchestras of their cities.

I always thought Love to Love You Baby finally made number 1 in Spring of 1976 (already being a hit in Europe and the dance charts a full year before-) but it only made number two. Ironic that Love Hangover, which was actually recorded first by Sylvester (not yet a star) and then by 5th Dimension, with Diana Ross' version rushed out to be a hit first, as often happened then, was actually written and produced in some ways as a rip off/hommage to Love to Love You Baby, as producer Hal Davis admitted.

Oh and I actually kinda dig A Fifth of Beethoven though I will speak for nearly all disco fans I know (who tend to prefer the disco that only charted, or was even well known, inside clubs not on the radio0 when I sy Disco Duck is indeed one of the worse things to come out of disco, EVER. Which is saying a LOT

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I could be remembering it wrong, but I think the original title of Fly Robin Fly was actually Run Rabbit Run but I can't recall. I thought I heard it mentioned on VH1's 100 Greatest Dance Songs. The strings arrangement is by far the best part of the song.

I vividly recall when I Feel Love came out. NOTHING sounded like it on the radio. You stopped and listened to it as if you were hypnotized and it sounded like it was coming from the future - it was miles ahead of it's time. Rolling Stone added it to their list of 500 Greatest Songs for just that reason.

Sylvester had one hell of a voice!!

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It was Run Rabbit Run. That's what I get for posting at 5 somethign in the mornign before havign even any coffee... Always sounded so awkward to me.

While I adore disco with real strings--I have to speak up for the much maligned synthesizer--especially back in its infancy, it still took a lot of "talent" to play those synths you hear in a lot of disco (especially Moroder or Cerrone's complex ones--less so the synth line for a simple song like Fly Robin Fly). I just know a lot of music fans wqould use this against disco music (among many other silly excuses) that cuz it wasn't on "real" in struments often, it somehow was easier to make, less musical, or some other excuse. Now I do agree that synths have become a crutch and often are poorly used and not a good replacement for real instruments but that's a different subject.

Yeah I Feel Love still holds you in a trance--I have many friends aroudn my age (mid 20s) who don't get my love for "older" music, let alone disco, but love modern club music--and often you still hear I Feel Love mixed into sets at dance clubs--and it STILL sounds pretty modern--most of my friends hold it as an exception. Moroder did a lot of similar and even more complex synth songs with and without Donna after it (his big hit The Chase from his academy award winning score for Midnight Express came about cuz the director, Alan Parker said he heard I feel Love and wanted a similarly driving but siomewhat disconcerting sound for his movie--)--the album, and club tracks from DOnna's other 1977 album, the double concept album Once Upon a Time--Now I Need You/Working the Midnight Shift have some of the most hypnotic, stunning synthesizer seuqneces I've ever heard.


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IMO, the real strings is what made Fly Robin Fly pay off and turned a mediocre song into a great one.

But as you pointed out, there are a lot of great songs that use synths, like that piece from Midnight Express, which was really awesome. There are some out there that became masters of the keyboards/synth, like Thomas Dolby, Herbie Hancock, etc. There were some groups it didn't work for: When I heard Jump by Van Halen, I said "Someone please take that Yamaha keyboard away from Eddie Van Halen RIGHT NOW." Geddy Lee of Rush is a great keyboardist and they give great live performances except for that time they couldn't get enough of midi-interconnected, which even made Neal Peart's drum solo sound like crap. There was also a lot of old school funk that used keyboards/synths - remember Egyptian Lover?

Speaking of European disco, I was just listening to Snap's Rhythm is a Dancer. That group disbanded because of a clash over musical direction.

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Rhythm is a Dancer is definetly a good example of where eurodisco went after the disco era ended (in the US anyway)...

I LOVE egyptian Lover. Nono I do agree with you--both that Fly RObin Fly needs those real strings and that stuff like Jump was just SOO wrong on so many levels. I think we're seeing eye to eye here ;) But we'll see what yout hink of the next set of charts;)


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We are not told that not one but two doctors were mysteriously sent away to a convention, presumably to put the creepy Dr. Ackerman in play for Val’s delivery. This begs the question of how far up does the entire baby scheme go if, as we were led to believe before, Scott Easton was in it alone at Galveston? I could swear I remember and wrote about a scene where Galveston discovered the late Easton's papers outlining the baby caper. So how did this come about and why? We still don't quite know. I'm not sure if we will. It is encouraging to see Val getting back to her writing, though we know a few eps later that she hits some major stumbling blocks. "I know they're gone," she tells her therapist, but that's not quite true. There is a very cute scene with Val and Lilimae perming Lilimae's hair. I love the return of a lot of these neighborhood scenes, they always keep the show in the right orbit. "Contains no lye," Lilimae says about her hair treatment. "Well, I should hope not! Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lye!" Thank you, Lilimae. Suited Eric is still at it in the bubbling KL Motors subplot! He looks nice, but the one notable moment of it in the first of these two eps goes to Mack about his suddenly yuppie stepson: "He's gonna be 46 years old. Let him go out." Joshua is still demanding Cathy sing on his damn show and not at Isadora's. Once again he tries to use sex to silence her and make her submit, with Cathy pulling away crying "no!" But ultimately the ep ends with Cathy looking severely pressed in conservative white, singing pop-infused hymns on TV exhorting her love for Jehovah. The seductively catchy power of pop-rock religiosity aesthetics in Joshua's new empire echoes the rise of 'hip' megachurches like Hillsong today, and makes this story another one that is still relevant - especially with masterful, newly stylish Svengali Joshua watching his bride-to-be perform in a well-fitted suit, a far cry from his former humble garments. Cathy is of course visibly shocked as Joshua announces their "engagement" on live TV.  Cathy has become such a doormat this season, but while I would like better for the character I also think it's likely part of her background and nature, going back to her husband Ray who we know groomed and abused her from adolescence. A newly-permed Lilimae is thrilled about the engagement back at Val's, while Cathy quietly seethes to Ben. This carries over to Episode 23 and Joshua and Cathy's engagement party at Westfork, where Laura very clearly has zero time for Joshua forbidding Cathy from singing and walks off without a word because she just won't be a party to it. Ben and Mack are still a fabulous Ambiguously Gay Crime-Fighting Duo. They pick the Fisher house from a random name on a list they found at Galveston Industries - again, I am gonna need to review the crucial Galveston/Easton papers scene. Did Galveston investigate himself and find out about them? How and why was Scott Easton trafficking Val's babies independently? Just to get future leverage on Abby and therefore Gary Ewing to please his corporate master? I almost didn't remember the significance of the Fisher name at first, until I heard a baby crying upstairs in the home. The show cloaks this reveal beautifully: Ben and Mack, along with Laura and Greg's staff and then Gary, Karen and Abby at Lotus Point are all once again grouped together for a unifying event, bushwhacked by Sumner's TV press conference where he acknowledges Galveston's death and his place as his father's son, then resigns his Senate and becoming chairman of the Galveston board. The show has done Big Moments on TV like this before to bring the entire canvas together in one reaction, and so far it always works. Meanwhile, nobody watching live in 1984(?) is likely seeing the real ace in the hole plot-wise: Mrs. Fisher holding one of Valene's stolen babies in the background of her house. The Fishers are dismissed as an afterthought as a shellshocked Mack and Ben leave. Then the show begins to slyly tip its hand by going back to the Fishers alone and showing that Mrs. Fisher has not one but two babies! A fantastic, quiet reveal. Mack gives us some curious background on him and Greg in these two episodes, when he says that in their youth Greg spent so much time with his family that he knew Mack's family better than Mack did, and knew Mack's mother better than Ruth. How and why? Was the Sumner household that cold and isolated? Following the surprise press conference, Laura searches for Sumner who's moved out of his hotel to the Galveston ranch, only for her to get curved by a strapping young man who I swear to God is Don Diamont from Y&R and B&B though it's not credited anywhere, I've checked. Anyway: Laura is livid, having already put her house on the market for the move to D.C. Greg shows up at the house to try to turn on the charm, only to hides behind Laura's freezer door. Oh, William Devane. Greg drags Laura out to the ranch to meet Ruth, only for Abby to immediately cruise up and have Greg walk off with her! Ruth is clearly already taken with Abby, not Laura Avery.  Nice to see Gary and Val still on point about their mutual love for Olivia at Joshua and Cathy's engagement party in Episode 23. Those bonds are still well-serviced, as is Olivia holding a grudge about Cathy an Gary's affair, then confiding in Val who wants to pull her out of doldrums. It's character building that isn't all plot, and that's what matters. Michael in short shorts handing all the men beers at Ben's swinging bachelor pad: No comment.  It is nice to see Abby consistently overstepping her field of play again, just as she did with Wolfbridge, when she tries to work John Coblenz re: the FCC licenses for Pacific World in Empire Valley. She does not know who she's dealing with, and that (and her efforts on behalf of the babies, both before and later on) help to ground and humanize the character. I don't have too much to say about Ep 23 tbh, other than to say Karen and Lilimae's outre ensembles at the party are incredible. One more thing: The unexpected end credits freeze-frame of the babies on Episode 22 is very deliberate and surprising (c/o the defunct but never forgotten Knots Blogging):

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    • So after a ton of IRL work and exhaustion bogging me down for awhile and not leaving me in the proper creative headspace to dig into my notes as I viewed, I've been slowly wrapping up Season 6 (or was before the KL channel went down) and I'm going to try to break up these observations on the final third of the year into several posts staggered out because I have a few in the chamber from awhile ago. I can't promise I'll stick to episodic observations going forward beyond S6, though I am very, very intrigued by the Dallas/KL creative switch next season and will be checking out more of the Dallas Dream Season in tandem with it to compare and contrast how David Paulsen and Peter Dunne handle their respective new shows. I keep threatening to make my KL posts less individualized and more broad-reaching and I will eventually, but I also keep having more to say in the moment, yet I know I can't keep up this pace lol. Anyway: Episode 21 (The Deluge): It's Bill Duke Hours once more! This can mean only one thing:

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      This is sadly Duke's penultimate episode directing for Knots, which is a real shame because he's done brilliant, atmospheric work over multiple seasons. One of his first and most interesting choices in this hour is the camera staying with the men in power in the Empire Valley conspiracy awaiting the news on the ailing Paul Galveston, their leader/cohort, not dissimilar to the various scenes throughout the show's run of people in the hospital waiting on news on Karen, Val, Sid, etc. When one of them takes the final phone call about Galveston's death, it seems to sadden the lot of the devious crew.  Gary gets the news about Galveston when he barges in on the family ranch house, where we have two surprises: First, a young Nathan Purdee from Y&R and OLTL as a Galveston aide, then Hollywood legend Ava Gardner, finally! She's introduced as Ruth Sumner Galveston, and as it happens her name is noteworthy: Ruth was the wife of Galveston's beloved friend, the mother who cuckolded Greg's adopted father and the woman who finally married her true love on his deathbed to take his throne. Ava Gardner has never disappointed me in anything I've seen her in, from Seven Days in May or On the Beach to the insanely strange Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, and she still doesn't here though by all accounts on previous pages of this thread her experience doing '80s network TV was exhausting and stressful for her. She's instantly all charisma and panache like always; whatever Gardner's off-camera struggles with the material or pace she makes it look effortless and always seems to be having a blast - therefore, she is a blast to watch. This episode is another lulu for Bill Duke and a visual feast like his eps often are, and we'll return to that but one of the first, best examples is the scenes between William Devane and Ava Gardner as mother and estranged son reunite - in a floor-to-ceiling blood-red curtained chapel with a pale blue coffin for Galveston. Ruth's avaricious lust for power echoes some of the more mystical material with the Lords on OLTL, as like Victor Lord on that show years later, Paul Galveston's signet ring of power - 'the king's ring,' as it's referred to onscreen, I believe - is fetishized by the camera and in story as a symbol of Greg taking his father's throne. "Good for you, baby," Ava Gardner coos. "Take it. [...] I didn't raise you to be a civil servant." Even more atmospheric: Photographer-dilettante Ruth playing her wildlife photo slideshow in the dark as she and Greg get down to brass tacks about his birth father, revealing Galveston bought Greg's Senate election. Here, Bill Duke has them both in the black overlaid with imagery of wild animals on the savannah throughout, with Ruth framed within the silhouette of the slideshow projector's image of a gigantic, blown-up crocodile and its open jaws - not subtle, but glorious to look at. Leading into some very daring, suggestive dialogue for network TV in the '80s as Ruth tells Greg about her relationship with both his fathers. Ruth: We were all in love, the three of us. I married the romantic one, Sumner, who flew planes. Galveston built them, but they were both your father, Gregory. Greg: You sound almost proud of that. Ruth: I am proud, because it worked. Your genes, your upbringing, everything brought you right to this moment. […] You were brought up to be powerful and you love it and you want it. When last I left off with this season, Karen was fully onto the scent of Val's babies potentially being alive, and she just keeps tripling down on this as she goes ape this week: "A new baby, connected by living tissue!" she howls memorably to Mack, but you know she's right and you support her Broadway ass all the way. That's part of what I love about Karen. She plays the gumshoe out in public as an increasingly unnerved Abby chafes. Karen is finally engaged and on fire and tbh it's been far too long after she spent most of this season ailing or in recovery. The show also returns to faithfully playing the suburban cul-de-sac beats that have always served them so well, pulling the show's stories back down to grounded Earth over the next few episodes as we see a suited-up Eric begin his eager drive to push Karen to sell Knots Landing Motors, then watch him and his mother watching the Galveston executive drone visiting Greg at Laura's across the road to break the news of his father's death. (Greg's reply: "Let's hire a band!") This dovetails with Karen sighting Lilimae next door and buttonholing her for details about the twins' birth, then with Joshua scootering around Seaview Circle while Ben and Val jog together back to her place. Community time! Love it. Over at Pacific World, Joshua continues edging poor Reverend Kathryn out of a job. This leads to the stylistic centerpiece of the episode for Bill Duke: Joshua's latest right-wing TV sermon, a barnburner backlit by blazing neon and rich primary colors sizzling out of the soundstage's faux-stained glass backdrop. "Nobody wants to do anything hard anymore," Joshua declares in a spooky, mesmeric direct address to camera, similar to Duke's work with the Ciji murder reveal in Season 4 as her gigantic face stared down the camera onstage at Daniel. Joshua urges his audience to "face our mistakes," hammering on about personal responsibility and preaching Reaganite bootstraps gospel while bemoaning the plight of the American working class vs. invading foreigners - it's clear he is lumping in Val, his own sister, with the 'easy people' who make rash choices and pay for their sin. Joshua goes into overtime on-camera, ignoring the cue to wrap up. Later, he leverages his contract against Abby by demanding to put Cathy on-air with him. Joshua is transformed, squaring off with executrix Abby in a very smart '80s blazer getup, commanding and forbidding as he refuses to have oversight over his material before walking out on her. Shades of Alec Baldwin's later work in movies like Harold Becker and Aaron Sorkin's Malice. Joshua's growing tyranny grows back at the Ewing/Clements household, where a Chinese takeout dinner devolves as Joshua, the newly-crowned alpha male of the home, demands they all bow their heads, which doesn't sit well with Ben or Val. Cathy and Joshua continue to argue at Laura's, as she has no intention of singing on his show. "You're only comfortable singing in roadhouses," Joshua sighs, showing a very contemporary facility for manipulation and shaming. "That shows how little you think of yourself." The apparently-infamous Madison Mason is introduced as mysterious diplomat John Coblenz late in this episode, a very creepy dude with an over the top delivery. The final act of the episode is nicely cross-cut first with Greg and Laura having a ritzy dinner while she pushes him to admit he does want his father's power and influence, then with Karen and Mack cozily sandwiched on the couch at home as she begins to put some of the pieces behind the EV strangeness together and concludes "something creepy is going on in Gary's Shangri-La." This in turn is intercut with the men of power at Galveston arrayed together onscreen by Duke at the family ranch like some sort of dark pagan rite, as Ruth unveils Coblenz to Greg. Coblenz lays down the law with Sumner about the truth behind Empire Valley and its Deep State plans: "Your work in the Senate is inconsequential," he intones hammily. "Listen to me, Gregory. Listen to the words." Empire Valley being the hub of a global spy network and surveillance state control center is way, way ahead of its time as a storyline IMO. So why did people hate the story so? I guess I'll find out. For now, the '70s paranoia thriller/sci-fi vibes here are great. As is the final shot of Greg, drafted against his will as he eyes Galveston's kingly ring.
    • The font change is a huge, huge improvement. That cannot be difficult to fix and Y&R should do so immediately. 
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