It is not unheard of for an artist to simultaneously have more than a single entry in the Billboard Top 10. In the early 1960s, it was unusual for The Beatles not to achieve this feat. Off the top of my head, I am pretty sure that The Monkees, The Who, and (in my own lifetime) Men At Work also had two simultaneous Top 10 albums. I am 99.5% certain there have been others, certainly more recently than 1983.
This week in 1968, two acts figured prominently or exclusively in five of spots in the Top 10.
Hugo Montenegro was on two of them. “Who-go Montenegro?” you will probably say. He was a film composer who recorded the immortal main theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. This reached #2 as a single, and the movie soundtrack was #8. A collection featuring music from this and two other films by director Sergio Leone--A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More--was #10. Montenegro’s theme was most likely the main reason for the popularity of both.
Three other spots were occupied by Simon & Garfunkel, including the #1 album that week, Bookends. The classic soundtrack to the even more classic film The Graduate was #2. Interestingly, it is the former album that included the most famous version of “Mrs. Robinson,” which does not appear on the soundtrack of the movie that featured the titular character. Finally, 1966’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme reappeared on the chart at #9.
Wow…three entries. Simon & Garfunkel is not alone in accomplishment that, but surely that is most that a single artist has had in the Top 10 at the same time, right? Amazingly, no. On Billboard chart dated April 2, 1966, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass had one, two, three, FOUR albums among America’s ten bestsellers.
In fact, Alpert & the Brass were in the Top 10 every week between October 16, 1965 and April 29, 1967, charting five different albums in during those 80 weeks. Forty-one of these weeks included two of his albums, and 15 of them included three. This week in 1968, however, he had to settle for just one--#4, The Beat of the Brass.
Elsewhere in the Top 10 was the prefab pop of The Monkees (#3), the immortal soul manna of Aretha Franklin (#6), and white-boy electric blues of Cream (of which Eric Clapton was a member, #8).
And that is pretty much it for the Billboard chart 43 years ago. Next week, I will…oh ok, I tried to get away without mentioning #7, Honey by Bobby Goldsboro.
Just as the there will always be a debate over the “greatest” recordings of all time, there are also those who are determined to ascertain the “worst.” Fortunately, the debate over worst album ever has been settled…by me—it is Almost Killed Me by The Hold Steady. It was long thought that such a thing could not be determined which such certainty, but that was because that album did exist until 2001.
What about individual songs? I remember several years ago when Blender magazine determined the worst song ever to be “We Built This City” by Starship. Not that I am defending the song, but it is not the one that immediately springs to my mind for this category.
“Honey,” the title track of the aforementioned #7 album, was afforded this honor by CNN writer Todd Leopold in 2006. Surely the writer of the song—Bobby Russell—cried all the way to his online bank account when he learned this.
However bad it may be, “Honey” spent multiple weeks atop the Billboard Pop Singles, Country Singles, and Adult Contemporary Chart. It also hit #1 in Australia and #2 in England.
The song has also been a cash cow for Russell by virtue of dozens of artists covering it. These include Charlie Louvin, Tammy Wynette, Dean Martin, Lawrence Welk, and Jim Nabors. Yes, that Jim Nabors, for those who know the name (and his version is as bad as you could imagine).
Other singers throughout the world have recorded versions in Spanish, Italian, French, and Swedish.
Listening to the lyrics, which I do not recommend to anyone who prefers his or her food to stay in the stomach, I cannot help but notice that “Honey” cried or was crying whenever the singer came home. Also, he laughed at her when she planted the tree and when she “slipped and almost hurt herself” from running in from the snow. Furthermore, I am not that so sure that hugging him is exactly what she did around his neck. Finally, is he never going to let go of the fact that her dog kept him up all night one time?
How healthy was this relationship, exactly?
Is “Honey” actually the worst song ever recorded? Not as surely as The Hold Steady‘s debut is the worst album. It could, however, give every other putrid song out there a run for all of the money that Bobby Russell made off of it.