Dr. Smooth’s Flashback #2: Billboard chart of January 28, 1978

Spend an hour remembering some of the most popular jazz of early 1978 as listed on the Jazz LPs chart in the January 28, 1978 issue of Billboard magazine.



#39: “This One’s for You” by Stuff, from the #39 album of the week, More Stuff.  Stuff was a jazz-funk group made up of prominent New York session musicians, including keyboardist Richard Tee and drummer Steve Gadd.  Tee wrote this song, the lead cut from the group’s second album.  The album had premiered on the Jazz LPs chart back on 8/20/1977; this issue marked its final appearance.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 7 25
Billboard 200 61 13
R&B 43 7


#37: “Byablue” by Keith Jarrett from the #37 album, Byablue.  An album on the ABC/Impulse label by pianist Keith Jarrett’s “American Quartet,” it features performances by Jarrett, Dewey Redman (sax), Charlie Haden (bass), and Paul Motian (drums).  This title track was written by Motian.  Byablue was Jarrett’s highest peaking album on the Billboard 200.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 11 16
Billboard 200 117 6


#34: “Virginia Sunday” by Doc Severinsen from the #34 album, Brand New Thing.  Like the first track on this playlist, this song was written by Richard Tee.  This album was produced by Tom Scott and features other session musicians such as Tee, Eric Gale, Lee Ritenour, and Ralph MacDonald.  This was this album’s final week on the Jazz LPs chart.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 30 11


#26: “Playera” by Dave Grusin from the #26 album, One of a Kind.  This track features sax work from Grover Washington, Jr. amid a dreamy atmosphere reminiscent of Grusin’s soundtrack work.  Another album that features the top session musicians of the day, including the aforementioned Gadd, MacDonald, and Ritenour, as well as flutist Dave Valentin and bassist Ron Carter.  On this date, the album was ascending up the chart, it would peak at #11 on the next chart.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 11 14


#23: “Living for the City” by Noel Pointer from the #23 album, Phantazia.  Violinist Pointer’s debut album, it featured a cover of this Stevie Wonder tune as the third track on side one.  This week marked the album’s 34th week on the chart, having debuted on 6/11/1977.  This is yet another track on this playlist that features Steve Gadd and Ralph MacDonald as well as Dave Grusin and guitarist Earl Klugh.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 8 48
Billboard 200 144 8
R&B 45 3


#21: “Gotcha” by the Tom Scott from the #21 album, Blow It Out.  This song was the theme song to the Starsky & Hutch TV series beginning in that show’s second season which explains its sales success.  Again, we’re treated to drum and percussion work from Gadd and MacDonald, respectively.  Richard Tee is back again, as well, along with Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar.  In its 19th week on the chart, this album had begun its descent down the Jazz LPs chart.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 5 32
Billboard 200 87 14
R&B 39 5


#16: “Teen Town” by Weather Report from the #16 album, Heavy Weather.  This album is the fusion group’s best-seller and includes their best known hit, “Birdland.” It was the band’s second album with legendary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, who wrote “Teen Town.”  The album premiered on the Jazz LPs chart at #5 on 4/9/77 and had spent two weeks in the #1 spot.  In February 2011, Heavy Weather was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 1 60
Billboard 200 30 22
R&B 33 3


#11: “One of a Kind” by V.S.O.P. from the #11 album, The Quintet. Back-to-back songs featuring Wayne Shorter.  This time, Shorter joins other jazz giants in a supergroup that included Herbie Hancock (keyboards), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Tony Williams (drums), and Ron Carter (bass). This line-up was identical to the Miles Davis Quintet of the 1960s, with the only difference being Hubbard, rather than Davis, on trumpet (Davis declined to participate). The album, originally released in October 1977 as a 2-disc LP, was compiled from two concert performances: one at the Greek Theatre, University of California, Berkeley, on July 16, 1977; the other at the San Diego Civic Theatre on July 18, 1977.  It had peaked on the charts in late December 1977, but was listed as the #20 jazz album for 1977 in Billboard’s year-end chart.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 3 23
Billboard 200 123 5


#5: “Tequila Mockingbird” by Ramsey Lewis from the #5 album, Tequila Mockingbird.  If this sounds somewhat like an Earth, Wind & Fire instrumental, that’s not a coincidence.  This track was written and produced by EWF keyboardist Larry Dunn and he brings in some of his bandmates to perform, including Philip Bailey, Al McKay, and Verdin White.  In addition to piano solos from Lewis, Ronnie Laws solos on soprano saxophone.  On its way up the charts at this point, it would peak at #3 on the next chart in the 2/11/78 issue.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 3 24
Billboard 200 111 9


#2: “Theme from ‘Side Street'” by Chuck Mangione from the #2 album, Feels So Good.  This short track (side A, track 3) was the theme music to a Canadian TV police drama that ran from 1975-1978.  The album would sit in the top 5 for many weeks before spending July in the #1 spot.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 1 98
Billboard 200 2 88


#1: “We’re All Alone” by Bob James from the #1 album, Heads.  An uptempo cover of the Boz Scaggs ballad.  James solos on electric piano, Mike Mainieri takes a turn on vibraphone.  Steve Gadd and Richard Tee appear on this track, as well.  James’ fifth album, it was his first record released on his newly formed Tappan Zee label, which was distributed at the time by Columbia Records.

Billboard Album Charts: Peak Weeks
Jazz 1 42
Billboard 200 47 31

As always, thanks to Herc of Herc’s Hideaway for research assistance and support.


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