Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Running" by Chubby Checker

Song#:  0922
Date:  02/20/1982
Debut:  93
Peak:  91
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Checker never intended to be a dance-oriented artist, but along came his 1960 version of "The Twist" and his career path was set. Whether it was "Pony Time," "The Fly," or "Limbo Rock," Checker was the king of dance songs. His last Top 10 was 1962's "Popeye the Hitchhicker" (#10), but he kept some minor songs on the chart through to 1969. With his hit days over, Checker set out on tour with the oldies shows and was a popular draw. He would pop in the studio only a few times after his heyday and with the 1981 revival success of fellow early-rocker Gary U.S. Bonds ("This Little Girl," #11), Checker put in his bid for new popularity with the LP "The Change Has Come." This first single moved him from novelty dance tunes into some more serious rock territory. It didn't quite pay off as well as Bonds' rejuvenation (which was in part due to Bruce Springsteen's tunes and production), but it did get Checker one last solo song on the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Because Checker hit big at an early age (18) in 1960, it seemed odd that he was seen as an aging star at this time when he was only 40! These days, that is not considered old with artists well over that age still charting past their early prime days. Regardless, he was old guard at the time and it was a shot at a comeback. He didn't have the big name backing like Bonds did with Springsteen, but Checker took a similar sound and approach and came out with a good song. It actually surprised me. I though for sure this was going to be some gimmicky old-style tune that would play on the nostalgia crowd, but instead it ended up being a mature rocker and it fit him quite well. It's a shame it didn't do better as it deserved a wider audience.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Checker has the distinction of being the only artist to take a song to #1 (1960's "The Twist") and then later re-enter the chart with the same song and hit #1 again. He did this when over a year later, "The Twist" regained popularity and the song re-entered the chart and reached #1 for a second time. It's second run of popularity has been attributed to famous folks seen doing the dance. This sparked a lot of adults, who were not fond of the new teenage music, to try it out and the renewed interest sent the song back up the chart.  2) Although most famously attributed to Chubby Checker, "The Twist" was originally recorded by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. Written by Ballard, their version fizzled at #28 in 1960.


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