Here is a Top Ten countdown from the Billboard Hot 100 charts for September 3, 1977:
10. Electric Light Orchesta, “Telephone Line”. One of my two or three favorite ELO songs. It eventually made it to #7. It was part of the soundtrack for the 1977 movie Joyride, which featured a bunch of actors with famous parents: Desi Arnaz, Jr., Robert Carradine, Melanie Griffith, and Anne Lockhart.
9. The Brothers Johnson, “Strawberry Letter 23”. Originally written by Shuggie Otis, who included it on a 1971 album. It peaked at #5.
8. Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop”. Made it to #3. Great song. It was bad enough that those two mid-70s albums got played into the ground ... this one was incessant during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.
7. Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Just a Song Before I Go”. This is as high as it got on the charts, and it was the highest-charting single in the band’s career. The album from which it came, CSN, received one of Christgau’s most quotable reviews, which read simply, “Wait a second--wasn't this a quartet? D+” I saw Young in concert once, CSNY once, and CSN once (not counting Bridge benefits). Neil Young and Crazy Horse was far and away the best of the shows (you can see it in the concert film Rust Never Sleeps, which was filmed at our show). CSNY was OK ... it was their 1974 tour ... but honestly, they were outdone by The Band, who played before them. CSN was a bit of a joke ... 1984 at Candlestick Park after a Giants game.
6. The Floaters, “Float On”. Actually made it to #2. Honestly, I can’t remember a thing about this one. Maybe if I listen to the YouTube, I’ll remember it. (Nope.) Well, the Internet tells me the album version ran almost 12 minutes.
5. James Taylor, “Handy Man”. Probably the less I say about James Taylor, the better. This hit #4. (The link is to the Jimmy Jones version.)
4. The Commodores, “Easy”. This is as high on the charts as it got. Amazingly, it first appeared on the same album as “Brick House”.
3. Rita Coolidge, “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher”. It actually climbed to #2. I can’t resist quoting Christgau again. “It takes a very special kind of stupidity to slow "Higher and Higher" into a down. C”
2. Andy Gibb, “I Just Want to Be Your Everything”. Was #1 for four weeks. Fleetwood Mac, CSN, James Taylor, Rita Coolidge, Andy Gibb ... it was the Soft Rock Era! Some of these songs are good, some not so good, but Fleetwood Mac blows them all out of the water.
1. The Emotions, “Best of My Love”. This spent five weeks at the top.
Bubbling under the top ten, one song stands out: at #18, “Black Betty” by Ram Jam. (The Wikipedia page about the song is worth a read.) The band was produced by a team with roots in bubblegum ... the band’s leader came from a psychedelic bubble gum band, The Lemon Pipers. Authorship of the song is disputed, but Lead Belly gets credit on the record. What do you get if you combine bubblegum and Lead Belly? Whatever it is, the NAACP didn’t approve, and tried to boycott the recording. “Black Betty”. (A remix hit the charts in 1990.)
I’ll add one more, Jackie Wilson singing “Higher and Higher”. This is not the original hit, but some kind of live performance. Unlike Coolidge, Wilson actually speeds it up a bit.