Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Leo Sayer, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”
38 years ago this week, a British-born, Australian-raised singer danced his way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with a pop song so undeniably bouncy and exuberant that it made listeners feel much the way its singer in its lyrics.
Given his origins, it’s perhaps no surprise that Leo Sayer found his first substantial success in the UK, but it’s notable how quickly it occurred: his first single, 1973’s “Why Is Everybody Going Home,” may not have charted, but the follow-up, “The Show Must Go On,” hit #2 on the UK singles chart, and its album of origin, Silverbird, hit the same spot on the UK album chart. Now established, Sayer remained firmly in the upper reaches of both UK charts for the next several years: his next four albums – Just a Boy (1974), Another Year (1975), Endless Flight (1976), and Thunder in My Heart (1977) – all found their way into the top 10, as did his next half-dozen singles, a collection which included “One Man Band,” “Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance),” “Moonlighting,” “When I Need You,” and “How Much Love.”
“Long Tall Glasses (I Can Love)” may have been Sayer’s first US top-10 hit (it made it to #9), but “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” from the aforementioned Endless Flight album, was the first undeniable smash on American shores, although – somewhat ironically – it wasn’t a #1 hit in the UK. (It did hit #2, though, which certainly isn’t a shabby showing.)
Clearly, the States had Leo Sayer fever in ’77, since “When I Need You” proved to be his second chart-topper here, but it was apparently a recurring condition rather than a constant one, since it would be another three years before he had another top-10 hit in the US (“More Than I Can Say”), and it proved to be his last. But, hey, once you’ve been a guest star on The Muppet Show, it’s all downhill, anyway, right?