The 10 biggest pop hits of August '76

Shake, shake, shake to the smash songs that moved us 40 years ago.

Top image: Billboard Magazine

Let's rewind the clock 40 years. The Olympics are kicking off in Montreal. NASA's Viking 2 enters orbit around Mars. The White Sox are sporting shorts on the baseball diamond. A redesigned $2 bill is back in circulation. Gas is 59¢ per gallon. The Damned release the first ever single marketed as "punk rock."

Punk rock may have been new at the time, but it hardly put a dent on the charts in America. No, the Billboard Hot 100 was chock full of disco and soft rock. So much disco.

Here are some of the biggest hits from August of '76.

1. Elton John and Kiki Dee - "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"

Kiki Dee, a Motown act from Northern England and former backup singer for Dusty Springfield, found perfect chemistry alongside Sir Elton. The two sweetly delivered this duet over a brisk rhythm complete with sweeping strings and Woo-hoo's. It's no wonder the jam dominated — sitting at No. 1 for the entire month.

Image: MCA

2. Bee Gees - "You Should Be Dancing"

The Brothers Gibb launched themselves into disco heaven with this boogie woogie sensation. A year later, John Travolta would be shimmying, splitting and booty shaking across an illuminated dance floor to the track. Do not try to bust these moves at home.

Image: RSO

3. Wings - "Let 'Em In"

Wings remains the Beatles spin-off few Beatles fans want to acknowledge, like the AfterMASH of music. But the thing is, McCartney knocked out hit after hit in the 1970s, and it was no fluke. "Let 'Em In" begins with a doorbell chime, because Paul was never one for subtlety, and features military snares. The steady, marching groove reminds you that first and foremost Paul McCartney is a bass player.

Image: Capitol / EMI

4. Lou Rawls - "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine"

As you now remember, if it didn't have a rhythm, it wasn't charting in '76. The Chicago-raised Rawls added heaping doses of soul to a galloping groove, tastefully punctuated with horns.

Image: Philadelphia International Records

5. Gary Wright - "Love Is Alive"

Dressed like a cosmic flying ace, "Dream Weaver" Gary Wright showed his tougher, funky side with this heavy cut. It would take another five years for the former Spooky Tooth member to crack the Top 20, as "Really Wanna Know You" became his final American smash in '81.

Image: Warner Bros. Records

6. The Beach Boys - "Rock & Roll Music"

The Beach Boys had fallen far out of the spotlight in the early 1970s, recording great but ignored albums and adding South African rockers Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar to the band. Endless Summer, a 1974 greatest hits compilation, reignited their fame, as the band surfed a wave of nostalgia that included shows like Happy Days. Brian Wilson was brought back into the fold with a publicity campaign for 15 Big Ones, which split between new tracks and retro covers like this.

Image: Reprise Records

7. K.C. & The Sunshine Band - "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty"

Does any song better encapsulate the simple pleasures of disco music?

Image: RCA

8. England Dan & John Ford Coley - "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight"

Yacht rock was setting sail around this time, too. The blood ran aqua blue in the Seals family. "England Dan" Seals was the younger brother of the Seals half of Seals & Crofts. The younger Seals delivered summer resort sounds with lyrics that told of "warm wind" and a "drive along the beach."

Image: Atlantic Records

9. Vicki Sue Robinson - "Turn the Beat Around"

Bongos and wah-wah get this 4/4 strut off to a hot start. Broadway sensation Robinson developed her chops in hits like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. Midway through "Turn the Beat Around," she explains the mechanics of a disco tune, vocalizing the syncopated rhythm "with the scratch-scratch-scratch" and the "rat-tat-tat."

Image: RCA

10. Starbuck - "Moonlight Feels Right"

Of no relation to coffee companies or Battlestar Galactica, this Atlanta combo took you "on a trip beside the ocean," finding the balance between the dance floor and the beach. Its only Top 40 hit, "Moonlight," peaked at No. 3. The xylophone solo probably helped.

Image: Private Stock Records

 
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