Spineless Movement And A Wild Attack

As we look at the top half of the Top 40 from February 28th, 1981, it’s a solid list of veteran artists’ songs. But it took many decades, format changes, and technology enhancements for many of them to get recognized and played again.

SXMFU – On the Big 40 Countdown, they intro the show as the year that Chariots of Fire wins the Oscar for best picture. That won’t happen until the 54th Annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1982. Ordinary People won the Oscar in 1981. Again, folks, this info is not a secret.

20. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – What Kind Of Fool

PFK – Here we are on year two of the 80s, and the Bee Gees are still with us with their songwriting and with Barry’s smooth vibrato. This duet with Babs will be the third Top 10 from her Guilty LP. It will also spend a month atop the AC charts.

19. Cliff Richard – A Little In Love

Sir Cliffo nabs his fourth US Top 20 hit in a little over a year with the follow-up to his #10 smash, Dreamin(g). Not bad for a guy who took twenty years to get his first one.

18. Tierra – Together

OHW, PD – Tierra’s en fuego with their first Top 20, a cover of the 1967 Intruders song written by Gamble & Huff. Unfortunately, the Salas brothers will not be back for a return appearance. It wasn’t due to a lack of good material. They were on Neil Bogart’s Boardwalk label, and when he passed away in 1982, the label went under.

17. Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen

PD – No matter how much you may love the lead single off of Gaucho, you will never be able to shake the feeling of sadness and desperation that permeates through your soul as it plays. This could be you one day. This may be you today.  Sink a little lower, now.

Fun fact: This never spent a week at #19, so forget what I said about Billboard’s sense of humor.

16. John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over

PD – It’s barely been three months since John was murdered, and the radio kept his memory alive by playing songs from his new album incessantly. As this song spent its fifth week at #1, Woman was already at #27. I still find it hard not to hear this song and not travel back to that time as a kid trying to make sense of what happened and feeling all of this song’s optimism and hope just vanish away.

15. Blondie – Rapture

I think it’s safe to say that the immense success of Blondie is easily lost in history’s shuffle. There weren’t many bands in the 70s and 80s that had at least four #1 singles. [add your list in the comments] On top of that, all four had a different sound. The second single from Autoamerican is part New Wave, part disco, part rock, and part hip-hop. Fab Five Freddy gets a shout-out, and most of America won’t know who he is until Yo MTV Raps debuts later in the decade. In the UK, they will rack 6 #1s, but this will only make it up to #5.

14. Neil Diamond – Hello Again

PFK – Wanna know how bad The Jazz Singer is? Neil Diamond covers for his friend at a gig, but because his buddy is an African-American, he decides he’ll show up in blackface. It just gets worse from here. At least, Neil was smart enough to write and record karaoke-worthy ballads such as this one.

13. Rod Stewart – Passion

PD – Between 1976 and 1994, Rod only missed placing a single in the US Top 40 in 1985 and 1987. This seems like an early attempt to do anything he could to keep that streak alive.

12. Stevie Wonder – I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It

The second single from Stevie’s Hotter Than July is a Country-tinged affair and another great hit that’s been lost in his impressive catalog. It’s one spot away from its peak. This always makes me think of that Cotton Land sketch that he did with Eddie on SNL.

Fun fact: That SNL episode was from 1983. Stevie performed Go Home & Overjoyed, two songs that wouldn’t be released for almost three more years.

11. Don McLean – Crying

PFK – It had been eight years since Dreidel hit the Top 40 when Don roared back with this Roy Orbison cover. It was recorded for the LP, Chain Lightning which was released back in late 1978. He’ll be driving his Chevy all the way up to #5, and it will be his only other Top 10 hit aside from American Pie. It was also hit #1 in the UK.

10. ABBA – The Winner Takes It All

This is the definitive ABBA song. Yes, Dancing Queen is sonically beautiful, and Waterloo and Mamma Mia are catchier. But this encapsulates everything about the group’s dynamic that they hid behind a shiny Pop veneer. This will be their fourth and final US Top 10 smash, and thank God for that cause alimony is a bitch.

9. Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne

PFK (and, please do it while I’m there) – This song was inspired by Dan meeting his high school sweetheart at a convenience store when he was back home in Peoria visiting his parents on Christmas Eve 1975, six years after they graduated. They end up splitting a six-pack of Olympia in the parking lot. Dan would have been 24 and just had his first Top 40, Part of the Plan, from his third album, Captured Angel. And yet, here he was bitchin’ about traveling to perform at paying gigs.  This single was released ahead of his seventh album, The Innocent Age, and will become his second Top 10 hit. Michael Brecker plays the sax solo at the end.

8. Delbert McClinton – Giving It Up For Your Love

OHW – The man who played harmonica on Bruce Channel’s #1 smash Hey Baby and had a decade of solo albums under his belt finally breaks through with his only Top 40 hit, which is sitting at its zenith this week. This sounds so much like a Bonnie Raitt song that I’m surprised that she’s never covered it.

7. Blondie – The Tide Is High

PD – Not many songs have number one in their lyrics and then end up hitting #1. Did anybody else do it?

6. Styx – The Best Of Times

All the older kids in my neighborhood were into the Paradise Theatre, to the point which they would tease me that I wasn’t. Why would anyone defend this album and/or song unless you were on a prom committee?

5. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You

I like to pretend that these guys are one-hit-wonders, that they wrote this, that it hit #1 (which it did), and then they disappeared. That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

4. Kool & The Gang – Celebration

PD – I love this group, and I love that Yah- Hoo! The rest of this song can vanish and take every last yellow ribbon with it.

3. John Lennon – Woman

Paul McCartney was right, and he sleeps just fine. His love does it good, and there’s nothing wrong with filling the world with silly love songs. I just wish John was around longer for us to hear him perfect a mix of his rough and tender sides. This track that he possibly could.

2. Dolly Parton – 9 To 5

Dolly Parton Gets First Shot of COVID-19 Vaccine

1. Eddie Rabbitt – I Love A Rainy Night (1 wk at #1)

PD -I didn’t think anyone could not like this song. Until I saw this:

For some reason, that made me laugh so hard. [Thanks, JB. No disrespect intended.] Now every time I hear this, I’ll think of someone listening to that finger snap and hand clap interplay, wanting to haul off and throw a brick through a window. Actually, I’m going to watch The Big Lebowski scene where Walter destroys the car with the sound off and this song playing instead.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake

The Need To Give Such Secrets Away

Let’s take a look at the first half of what was popular the week of February 28th, 1981.

40. Con Funk Shun – Too Tight

THW – Since their 1976 debut, this Vallejo, CA funk band has been throwing down jam after jam with only a #23 Top 40 hit, Ffun in 1978, to show for it. This song debuts at its peak because 1981 was anything but funky. I bet Maurice White heard this and immediately sat down to write Let’s Groove.

39. Firefall  – Staying With It

This is the sixth and final Top 40 hit for the five-man band from Boulder, CO. It also features female vocals by singer/songwriter Lisa Nemzo who released a trio of solo albums in the 80s and is still musically active today.

38. Terri Gibbs – Somebody’s Knockin’

OHW – Here’s the only Top 40 hit for the Country singer, Terri Gibbs, debuting at #38. It was nominated for a Best Country Song Grammy but only peaked at #8 on those charts, placing higher on the AC charts at #3. In the Pop world, she’ll take this one up to #13.

37. AC/DC – Back In Black

Some people become frozen in their grief. Others channel their energy into something productive, such as creating one of the best hard rock songs of all time. It was almost a year ago this week that original lead singer Bon Scott passed away, and their tribute to him is sitting in the Top 40.

36. Elvis Presley – Guitar Man

STA – Has any record company done as inferior a job with a classic artist’s catalog as RCA had done with Elvis? There are generations of folks who have no idea what his music sounds like, let alone his impact on music history. Anyway, Elvis’ first version of this Jerry Reed-penned track reached #42 back in 1967, recorded for the film, Clambake. In late 1980, the backing track was re-recorded with Jerry on electric guitar, but Presley’s vocals were kept intact. The single release will be his last #1 Country hit and last Top 40 when it reaches #28.

35. The Jacksons – Heartbreak Hotel

The thing I appreciate about the Billboard magazine staff is their sense of humor. It’s why Pete Wingfield’s Eighteen With A Bullet actually reaches #18, with a bullet rather than 17 or 19. It’s also why we have Elvis right next to a song that originally shared the same title as one of his biggest hits. As the story goes, the title eventually had to be changed to This Place Hotel because MJ was unaware of the original. Yes, the guy that eventually marries the King’s daughter didn’t know about one of the biggest 50s songs, which would inspire many British Invasion bands, including the Beatles, the catalog of whom he would own in a few short years. Hope everyone wore their boots for this post.

SXMFU – The Big 80’s countdown starts this song off right a the chorus skipping the intro and first verse.

34. Sheena Easton – Morning Train (Nine To Five)

PFK – What does it say about 1981 that we had two songs sung by women reach #1 with 9 to 5 in the title, let alone appear in the charts simultaneously? This song was released in the UK six months before Dolly put out her song in the US. The biggest difference between the two is that Miss Parton is singing for the ladies, while Sheena waits at home (or the train platform) for her working man.

33. Phil Seymour – Precious To Me

OHW – Here’s a Tulsa, OK power-pop singer who had previously been in the Dwight Twilley Band in the mid-70s, performing on the Top 20 smash, I’m On Fire. After the group split up, Phil sang back-up on a few Tom Petty classics (Breakdown, American Girl) before launching his solo career with his only Top 40 hit, which will top out at #22.

32. The Outlaws – (Ghost) Riders In The Sky

THW – Southern Rock’s dominance on the Pop charts was winding down during the beginning of the 80s, but a few bands still eked out a hit or two. This will be the second and best showing for the Tampa, FL sextet, a cover of the Stan Jones Western classic written in 1948, recorded for its sixth LP, Ghost Riders. Their version will peak at #31.

31. The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me

The song that’s been most on repeat in my head for the last year whenever I see any of you.[ Lolita reference, not included.]

SXMFU – The first time the Big 40 Countdown aired, they played the 1986 remake instead of the original. Does anyone at Sirius actually final review their shows before broadcast? Someone noticed (and I can’t believe they cared) because it was changed to the Zenyatta Mondatta version in repeat airings.

30. Steve Winwood – While You See A Chance

RAR – By the time of Steve’s second album, Arc Of A Diver, he had yet to achieve any solo success in the U.S. This single, on which he plays all of the instruments, will be his first smash, reaching #8. Also, if you’re a synth geek, the lead riff is played on a Multimoog.

29. Donnie Iris – Ah Leah

The pride of Pittsburgh and king of cool nabs his first Top 40 from his 1980 solo debut, Back On The Streets. I don’t know what it is, but it sounds so good any time it comes on the radio. Also, per Donnie, the title doesn’t have any specific women in mind, nor is it a reference to the Jews’ exile from Israel. And singer Aaliyah was born in 1979, so her parents weren’t inspired by it either.

RFW – Read along with SXM as they talk about Donnie Iris album puns.

28. Air Supply – Every Woman In The World

PD – Here’s a soft rock ballad that was written by Bugatti & Musker about a dude who goes to discos to dance away his problems before being rescued by a real/fantasy woman. This Australian duo nabs their third straight Top 5 hit.

Fun fact: Early bandmate Jeremy Paul left in 1977 and formed the band Divinyls.

27. Bruce Springsteen – Fade Away

This is the follow-up to Hungry Heart from the double album, The River. It’s on its way to #20. I’m going to use the rest of this space to tell you to watch the hilarious show Broad City if you never have.

26. Leo Sayer – Living In A Fantasy

Leo’s coming to the end of his U.S. run. This is the second single and the title track from his 1980 LP written by him and Alan Tarney, becoming his eighth and final Top 40 hit. Leo is still at it and put out a few new singles, just last year.

25. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Kiss On My List

Even after nine LPs and wrestling control over producing their own recordings, it wasn’t until their third single from 1980’s Voices that Hall & Oates became the 80s juggernaut we all know and love. This one is on the way to #1 for three weeks, four years after their first chart-topper, Rich Girl, and the first of five they would have during the decade. Every time I hear this song, I can still smell the burnt pizza wafting through the Commack roller rink.

24. Ronnie Milsap – Smoky Mountain Rain

SXMFU – The DJ mentions that this is Ronnie’s best-known song, but I strongly disagree. On the Pop charts, it would probably be (There’s No) Gettin’ Over Me. On the Country charts, it’s a little more challenging as he’s racked up 35 #1s. I’d proffer that Lost in The Fifties Tonight might his most remembered down Nashville way. This track is at its peak on the Hot 100.

23. Randy Meisner – Hearts On Fire

I’ve seen rain. Now I see fire, courtesy of former Eagle Randy “I ain’t singing the high note tonight” Meisner. This will be the biggest out of his three Top 40 hits and will peak at #19.

22. Alan Parsons Project – Games People Play

APP is on their way to best showing in the Top 40 thus far, and they just can’t stop it. This was the first release from their fifth album, The Turn Of A Friendly Card, a concept album centered around gambling. Sung by Lenny Zakatek, it’s on its way to a #16 high.

21. Pat Benatar – Treat Me Right

I don’t care whether you like Pat or not. She rocks, and she belongs in the RNRHOF.

Fun fact: This single was written by Doug Lubahn, who played bass on the Doors album Strange Days. He also formed the horn rock group, Dreams in 1970 and played on Billy Squier’s Emotions In Motion and Signs Of Life albums.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • STA – Second Time Around
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM mistake

 

If It Wasn’t For The Music, I Don’t Know What I’d Do

As we take a look at the songs that were Bubbling Under during chart week eight, there were actually two years – 1980 & 1982 – that sprung all of its debuts out of jail. Let’s see who ends up stuck.

Chris Montan – Let’s Pick It Up (Where We Left Off) (debuted 2/28/81, peaked at #106)

Back in 1980, Chris released his only full-length LP, Any Minute Now in the West Coast style. This smooth little pop tune is one of many well-crafted songs from that album, but the only one to ever sniff the charts. But don’t feel bad for this dude. He’s the current President of Walt Disney Music. And after music supervising a decade of soundtracks, he’s produced the music to just about every Disney film since 1995’s Pocahantas.

Nicolette Larson – Ooo-Eee (debuted 2/28/81, peaked at #110)

Here is the lead single from Nicolette’s third album, Radioland, produced by Ted Templeman and performed by most of the current Dobbies lineup. Linda Ronstadt sings back up and Little Feat’s Paul Barrere plays guitar. This was one of many in her catalog that deserved more airplay.

Indeep – Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life (debuted 2/26/83, peaked at #101)

This was the jam back in the day, nestled somewhere between disco and hip-hop. Maybe that’s why it never crossed over. With its Chic-styled guitar lines and funky bass riff, it was huge in the Dance clubs, made the R&B Top 10 as well as the tops of many charts across the world. Pop radio turned it away, probably because they straight-up hate DJs. Isn’t that why Pandora exists?

George Kranz – Trommeltanz (Din Daa Daa) (debuted 2/25/84, peaked at #110)

This futuristic electro-funk dance number has become a classic in its genre. Created by German singer and drummer, George Kranz, it has been countlessly sampled and used in a number of commercials. It will reach #1 on the Dance charts in 1984 and a re-recorded version will hit #8 in 1991.

The New Jersey Mass Choir – I Want To Know What Love Is (debuted 2/23/85, peaked at #101)

Did anyone think the band that wrote Cold As Ice and Hot Blooded would have one of their song covered by a gospel choir? This group was on the original recording which went to #1, testifying behind Lou Gramm. They were obviously moved by the spirit to make a few dollars for their own congregation. The arrangement is fairly similar, although they had a little more funk in it, which accounts for its appearance on the Dance charts. It will also reach #37 on the R&B charts.

Ready For The World – Tonight (debuted 2/23/85, peaked at #103)

They may have been ready for the world, but we were not ready for this Flint, MI sextet. This was their debut single, a Quiet Storm jam is written by their lead singer Melvin Riley Jr. and guitarist Gordon Strozier, and will reach #6 on the R&B charts. The band would finally break through with single #3. What’s good for the goose is always good for the gander.

Narada Michael Walden (with Patti Austin) – Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (debuted 2/23/85, peaked at #106)

Narada got his start playing drums with the Mahavishnu Orchestra performing on three albums, before starting his solo career.  This upbeat dance track was from his eighth album, The Nature Of Things, and features Patti Austin on lead duet vocals. This will sneak into the R&B Top 40 and will be a hit in Sweden, which makes me wonder if they thought it was an ABBA cover.

Rockwell – He’s A Cobra (debuted 2/23/85, peaked at #108)

It’s funny that the story of Kennedy Gordy changing his name to Rockwell to avoid any charges of nepotism has been kept alive for so long. If he really wanted to work his way up without any help, he wouldn’t have recorded for his dad’s record label in the first place, would he? Or have the biggest Pop star in the world in 1983 sing the chorus of one of his hits? Left to his own devices, we received generic 80s synth-funk like this, the lead single from his second album, Captured. It remains unreleased on CD.

 

 

A Cool Dude In A Loose Mood

Let’s take a look at those unlucky singles that were Bubbling Under in the 80s during chart week seven. [Note – more New Wave, more Soul]

The Inmates – The Walk (debuted on 2/16/1980, peaked at #107)

British quintet, The Inmates, crossed over in the US with their first single, Dirty Water, a cover of the Standells 1996 hit. [They substituted the Thames for the Charles.] This was their follow-up track, a song originally performed by Jimmy McCracklin, who took it into the Top 10 in 1958. It will reach the UK Top 40.

Pearl Harbor & The Explosions – You Got It (Release It) (debuted on 2/16/1980, peaked at #108)

Here’s a sensitively-titled quartet from San Francisco with a single from their one-off debut album. This song isn’t the best track off of the album (that would be this one), but it’s still a fair representation of what most New Wave rock bands sounded like in 1980. Lead singer Pearl E. Gates was married to Clash bassist Paul Simonon for a spell.

Crazy Joe and the Variable Speed Band – Eugene (debuted on 2/21/1981, peaked at #105)

What the hell is this? I remember this song getting a lot of NY airplay when I was younger. Was the lead character mentally challenged or just doing a poor Italian accent? As kids, we assumed the former, using the line ma-name-is-uh-you-jean to make fun of anyone we thought was a dork. (not realizing that I was one myself) Eugene is horrible at picking up women (two ginger ales for my girls) and pick-up lines (I like to stick my hands in fans for fun). But it’s still debatable whether or not this Ace Frehley-produced disco-rock song is parody or not. Or were they making fun of a bass player named Mr. Simmons?

Chas Jankel – Glad To Know You (debuted on 2/20/1982, peaked at #102)

Labelmate Quincy Jones had a Top 30 hit in 1981 with his version of Chas’ Ai No Corrida. So the label made sure to promote (poorly) the first single from his next album, Questionnaire (or Chasanova in England). I quite enjoy Chas’ first two albums, and they were a big hit in the clubs. This track, which reached #57 on the R&B charts, was the biggest Dance single of 1982, reaching #1 for seven weeks. Future Mechanic Peter Van Hooke programmed the Linn drum patterns.

Rosanne Cash – Blue Moon With Heartache (debuted on 2/20/1982, peaked at #104)

Rosanne, daughter of Johnny and his first wife, Vivian, scored a surprise smash in 1981 when Seven Year Ache, the title track of her third album, reached #22. This was the third single released from the album, a beautifully tender ballad that will become her third #1 Country hit. [Love Emmylou Harris’ harmonies on the chorus.] It’s the last time she’ll come anywhere near the Hot 100, but she will rack up seven more Nashville chart-toppers before the decade’s end.

New York Citi Peech Boys – Life Is Something Special (debuted on 2/19/1983, peaked at #108)

Pumping Iron was a bodybuilding documentary released in 1977, which centered on a competition for Mr. Olympia between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Eight years later, the sequel focused on the women. the soundtrack featured way better music by Art of Noise, Grace Jones, and this track, which was co-written and produced by DJ Larry Levan. This was their first single, but they would shorten their name to Peech Boys for all subsequent releases.

Survivor – I Never Stopped Loving You (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #104)

Over an eight-year period, this Chicago quintet had eight Top 40 hits, ten entries into The Other Sixty, and two Bubblers. This rock ballad was the second single released from the group’s fourth album, Caught In The Game, which would be lead singer Dave Bickler’s last recording.

Mary Jane Girls – Jealousy (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #106)

I’m gonna guess that producer Rick James severely pissed off the A&R department at Gordy Records. Otherwise, how do you explain this single as one of four Bubblers from this quartet’s debut? This one was the most Pop of the bunch, which also explains its #84 zenith on the R&B charts.

Pieces Of A Dream – Fo-Fi-Fo (debuted on 2/18/1984, peaked at #107)

Here’s a jazz fusion trio from Philly who started incorporating more R&B a la George Benson as they moved on. Their third album, Imagine This, was produced by Saxophonist Grover Washington Jr, a big 76ers fan. He had already written an ode to Dr. J. [Let It Flow] in 1980, so when his favorite basketball team won the NBA champs, he knew he needed to pay tribute again. Thus, he wrote this song that enumerates his Moses Malone-inspired lucky number 4-5-4, the amount games the Sixers won in the 1983 playoffs. This smooth paean was the group’s biggest hit reaching #15 on the Soul charts.

Wilton Felder featuring Bobby Womack – (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Lookin’ Up To You (debuted on 2/16/1985, peaked at #102)

Crusaders sax player Wilton Felder released his fifth solo album, Secrets, in 1985, which featured this gospel-flavored ballad sung by Bobby Womack and female singer Alltrinna Grayson. It will hit #2 for three weeks on the R&B charts.

Gladys Knight & The Pips – My Time (debuted on 2/16/1985, peaked at #102)

At this point, Gladys and the guys had been shut out by Top 40 radio for ten years. What were they supposed to do? Their sound changed with the times, and this boogie jam reflects that. I think their move to Columbia was a mistake, and they were forgotten on that massive roster for years. This track, the lead single from their album, Life, will reach the R&B Top 20.

Dokken – Just Got Lucky (debuted on 2/16/1982, peaked at #105)

Here’s the only band that I know of who had their lawyer fill in on guitar. After the failure of this metal quintet’s debut and a growing contention between Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch, their follow-up Tooth and Nail almost didn’t happen. This was the second single released from the album, and it gave the ban a little hope even as it bubbles here. Their next single, Alone Again, will get up to #64 and push sales onto the Gold level.

There’s a Hole In There Somewhere

I love listening to Top 40 countdowns, so I keep coming back to them on this blog. This first time around, I tried my best not to post countdowns with much overlap. But that left out plenty of songs that I wanted to comment on. So going forward, any week that has more than 10 previously discussed songs or 25%, I’m calling it an inbetweener. I link to my previously discussed post and give myself the freedom to add something new if I choose.

I’ve talked about 25 of these tunes previously, some twice during this chart week’s list. But I couldn’t resist. I call this group, The Ground Round countdown. Just about every song here reminds me of going to that restaurant with my family, smashing peanuts on the floor, watching Heckle & Jeckyl on a projector screen, and quickly losing quarters in the arcade.

Now, without further adieu, let’s jump into Top 40 from the week of February 13th, 1982. [This post may be long, so thanks for indulging me.]

40. Quincy Jones ft. James Ingram – One Hundred Ways PD

39. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock N RollPD, PD

That’s me, crunching peanuts to the beat.

38. Donnie Iris – Love Is Like A Rock

This was the second single from Donnie’s King Cool LP after Sweet Merilee stiffed at #80. It’s one notch away from its peak, and the chorus reminds me of that classic, unreleased track from Brock Landers.

37. Pointer Sisters – Should I Do It – PD

36. Oak Ridge Boys – Bobbie Sue – PD

35. ABBA – When All Is Said And Done – PD

34. Rod Stewart – Tonight I’m Yours – PD

33. Del Shannon – Sea Of Love

After a twenty-seven-year gap, Del is back in the Top 40 with his cover of the 1959 Phil Phillips smash, which reached #2. The song and album that it was released from, Drop Down and Get Me, was produced by Tom Petty and features the Heartbreakers as Del’s backing band. It is resting at its zenith.

32. Cliff Richard – Daddy’s Home – PD

31. The Go Go’s – We Got The BeatPD

Put them in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame already. The Bangles are next.

30. Eddie Schwartz – All Our Tomorrows

OHW – Here’s a Canadian singer/songwriter whose big break came when Pat Benatar recorded his tune Hit Me With Your Best Shot, which reached #9 in late 1980. When Eddie released his second album, No Refuge, Pop radio took notice a year later, and the first single release will reach #28. He’ll have further success co-writing two songs that Paul Carrack will make Top 40 hits (Don’t Shed A Tear, I Live By The Groove) as well as co-writing the Doobie Brothers 1989 comeback hit, The Doctor.

29. Loverboy – Working For The Weekend

It seems that radio stations had a three-song rotation in the 80s every Friday at 5 PM: Partytown by Glenn Frey, Take This Job And Shove It by Johnny Paycheck, and this one. [They should have just played this.] This will become the Vancouver quintet’s second Top 40 hit in the US, and it will not travel and further than where it is today. Personally, I prefer their follow-up single, When It’s Over.

Also, this.

28. Genesis – Abacab

From the divorce files of Phil The Shill: Phil was always good at creating nonsense words for song titles (see Paperlate, Sussudio), but he uses this one as a cover to get pissed off at his ex-wife. Since Mike & Tony didn’t think Demon Whore would go over well, they suggested using the chords used during the chorus, stringing them together to make a new word with no meaning. Though they could have a laugh about it when they shared a pint. Songs like this and the album they came from were a good bridge from their progressive roots to the Pop landscape. Current artists such as Steven Wilson are doing this but have faced a more significant backlash than this trio ever did.

27. Earth Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove

It was odd that Pop radio ultimately rejected this funk band’s last album, Faces, but was on board with the opening single from their new long-play, Raise! It has already peaked at #3 for five weeks sitting behind Foreigner’s Waiting… and Livvy’s Physical. This group dominated the 70s, but they will only have one more Top 40 hit during the Synth-funk era, which is a travesty.

26. Bertie Higgins – Key Largo – PD

OHW – Just imagine if Bertie was inspired by Bogey’s The African Queen. Don’t know about you, but I’d love to hear a rock song called Leaches Suck.

25. Police – Spirits In The Material WorldPD

If we are spirits in the material world and Madonna is living in a material world as a material girl, does that mean she’s a ghost?

24. Buckner & Garcia – Pac-Man Fever – PD

OHW – I much prefer MJ’s ode to his favorite game.

23. Barry Manilow – Somewhere Down The Road

I have nothing against Barry. He’s good at what he does. I’m not impressed by the fact that he can churn out one sugary, overly dramatic ballad after another. I’m amazed that we let him get away with it for this long.

22. Stevie Wonder – That GirlPD

A gigantic smash on the Soul charts, it’s always been my favorite Stevie jam. That angelic choir during the chorus gets me every time.

21. Alabama – Love In The First Degree – PD

If Country ain’t your thing…

20. Rick Springfield – Love Is Alright Tonite

People don’t immediately think of Rick as a Power Pop artist, but that’s precisely what this is. It’s the third Top 20 hit from his 1981 Working Class Dog album after I’ve Done Everything For You and Jessie’s Girl. It is sitting at its high.

19. Diana Ross – Mirror MirrorPD

After a decade of classic with the Supremes and another decade of hits as a solo artist, her 80s songs were like icing on the cake. That may be why some are forgotten. Is that possible with a Top 10 hit? Well, when was the last time you heard this?

18. Kenny Rogers – Through The Years – PD

RAR – Lionel Richie will hit #1 later in the year with his first solo hit, Truly. This was his warm-up.

17. Sheena Easton – You Could Have Been With Me

PFK – Sheena was on a roll in 1981 – three Top 20 hits, two of them reaching the Top 10, one reaching #1. Her fourth straight Top 20 was the title track to her second album, a biting ballad that is two notches away from its peak.

16. Stevie Nicks with Don Henley – Leather And Lace

PFK – Stevie’s first two Top 40 hits were duets. Her match-up with Don Henley was her second and is coming down from its high of #6. She wrote this for Jessie Colter & Waylon Jennings, who named their album after it but didn’t include the song. Stevie took it back and made them pay.

15. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Hooked On Classics

OHW – Oh no, someone made Pop music for my mom. She played this every time she could, probably because she enjoyed aggravating us. These folks took the Stars on 45 approach, stitching a bunch of well-known melodies, in this case, classical passages performed by this London Orchestra conducted by Louis Clark to a lame drum machine track. This is falling from its high of #10. How did Pop programmers put this in their playlists?

SXMFU – During the Big 40 Countdown on SXM, they mention that K-Tel had a big hit with this. But it was actually released on RCA Records.

14. Little River Band – Take It Easy On MePD

13. Rolling Stones – Waiting On A Friend

Here’s the second single from the Stones’ last great album, Tattoo You. Had Keith been more persuasive, we would have heard the best songs from this album and Emotional Rescue in one package rather than be exposed to Mick’s disco distractions. This single was originally created during the Goat’s Head Soup sessions in 1972. It’s a beautiful and tender song and finishes with a soulful sax solo by Jazz great Sonny Rollins.

12. Dan Fogelberg – Leader Of The BandPD

I’m not dissing Dan, but I’m going to use space to post a different cool song with the same name that I enjoy more.

11. Paul Davis – Cool Night

How did this long-haired Country hippie from Mississippi churn out some smooth Yacht Rock jams late in his career? This was the title track to his last released album before he dives back into Country music. This week, it is at its zenith.

10. Air Supply – Sweet Dreams –  PD

9. Foreigner – Waiting For A Girl Like You –  PD

Still playing second fiddle to ONJ.

8. Olivia Newton-John – Physical – PD

And this where I place a Grease gif of Sandy saying Tell me about it, stud.

7. Juice Newton – The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known)

Juice was a Country artist who had more success on the Pop & AC charts than over in Nashville in the early 80s until this song became her first Country #1. When the Pop hits dried up in 1984, it allowed her to fully commit to Opryland and continue her career. This is her third Pop Top 10 from her album, Juice.

6. The Cars – Shake It UpPD

In a month from this current chart week, Ric Ocasek will turn 38. Let that sink in.

5. George Benson – Turn Your Love Around

Aww yeah. The Yachtski Scale says that What A Fool Believes is the nexus of Yacht Rock, but you can make a strong case that this track from George’s double LP greatest hits compilation is the penultimate smooth jam. GB mixes jazz, R&B, and pop like Reese’s mixes peanut butter and chocolate. It’s written by Bill Champlin, Steve Lukather, and Jay Graydon, who also produced it. That’s three heavy West Coast hitters. Also, David Paich plays Synth bass. Jeff Porcaro programmed the synth drums. David Foster is on synthesizer. I feel like I’m sailing on the S.S. Velvet.

4. Journey – Open ArmsPD

3. Quarterflash – Harden My HeartPD

2. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)PD

When Hall & Oates hit #1 with this song on the Soul charts, it may have seemed like validation for them by staying true to their R&B roots. The fallout may have been the whitewashing of the Pop charts and record company budget cuts to their Black music divisions. Take, for instance, the duo’s label, RCA. Outside of Diana Ross, whom they signed in 1981, the record label never produced an R&B song in the Pop Top 10 in the 80s after this, and instead focused on soulful White acts, such as Eurythmics and imposters such as Rick Astley.

 1. J. Geils Band – Centerfold (2 wks at #1) – PD

Peter Wolf and pals are in the middle of a six-week run, propelled by one of the catchiest na na na-na na na lines in Pop history. They hit that point home by whistling that melody at the end too.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake

 

All The Years and No One Heard

Let’s take a look at those songs from 1983, 1984, and 1985 that were held down beneath the Hot 100 waters that make up the Bubbling Under during chart week six.

Dolly Parton & Willie Nelson – Everything’s Beautiful (In Its Own Way) (debuted on 2-12-83, peaked at #102)

In 1982, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton & Brenda Lee collaborated together on a double album called The Winning Hand. Everyone duets with each other as well as records something solo. This waltz ballad is not a cover of the Ray Stevens 1970 hit; instead, it’s written by Dolly. It will become a Top 10 Country hit and reach the AC Top 20.

Peter Brown – Baby Gets High ((debuted on 2-12-83, peaked at #104)

After Peter’s 1977 debut, A Fantasy Love Affair, spawned two hits, Do Ya Wanna Get Funky & Dance With Me, he disappeared from Pop radio but not the clubs. This jam will reach #6 on the Dance charts. In a year from now, a singer named Madonna will begin recording a song that Peter co-wrote for her new album, Like A Virgin. It will become her new nickname.

ABBA – One Of Us (debuted on 2-12-83, peaked at #107)

This tune, originally recorded for 1981’s The Visitors but released in the US to promote the optimistically titled The Singles: The First Ten Years, starts off like a scene scored for The Godfather Part 2 before moving into a gentle synth-pop groove. This sad tale of impending divorce hit #1 in six countries, but not in the UK, where it hit #3, or Sweden, where it reached #13. This is the closest the quartet will come to the Hot 100 again.

Rufus and Chaka Khan – One Million Kisses (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #102)

Chaka got together with her former band Rufus one more time for the double live album, Stomping at the Savoy. They recorded one side full of new studio tracks, including the classic, Ain’t Nobody. This was the follow-up, co-written by Jeffrey Osborne, and a smooth midtempo track worthy of way more success than its inclusion here. It will peak at #37 on the R&B charts.

Boys Brigade – Melody (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #104)

And now, here’s a New Wave rock quartet from Toronto, Canada, whose debut album was produced by Geddy Lee of Rush. This moody ode to a lost love is spoken and sung by keyboardist Malcolm Burn and is part Lou Reed and part Here Comes My Girl. The band broke up after one album, and Burn would go on to produce the Grammy-winning album Red Dirt Girl by Emmylou Harris, among others.

Jacqui Brookes – Lost Without Your Love (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #105)

Before the Scottish band, The Silencers were formed, guitarists Jimmie O’Neill collaborated with singer Brookes for an electro-pop album called Sob Stories. Even during the heydey of New Wave, this LP disappeared without a trace, with only this dance single spending a here as a Bubbler.

The Cure – The Love Cats (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #107)

It’s as if someone asked Robert Smith to write a song for The Aristocats soundtrack. The Cure’s lead singer gets to play Thomas O’Malley full of yowls and alley skirmishes knocking over bottles. It was also a nice little jazzy change of pace for the group, and it became their first UK Top 10 smash. It also features producer Phil Thornally on double bass.

Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon (debuted on 2-11-84, peaked at #109)

This was the first solo studio album since Oz’s guitarist Randy Rhoads died in a plane crash in 1982. Four months after that, he married his manager, Sharon, and recorded a live album with new guitarist Brad Gillis. In 1983 he got back in the studio with yet a new six-string slinger, Jake E. Lee, who states that he co-wrote this title track and was never given any credit. It’s now one of his best efforts, but at least it kept that crazy train moving. This single will become his first solo hit in the UK, peaking at #21.

Gwen Guthrie – Love In Moderation (debuted on 2-9-85, peaked at #110)

Gwen was a songwriter who co-wrote Ben E. King’s 1975 Top 10 Supernatural Thing. She was also a back-up singer, who got a chance to support Aretha in 1974 on I’m In Love and many songs on Madonna’s 1983 debut. Collaborating with DJ Larry Levan, she also had many of her singles played at the Paradise Garage in NY. This pleasantly laidback synth-soul tune from her third album, Just For You, probably wasn’t one of them but it would be her second R&B Top 40 topping out at #17.

A Fortune In Your Fingertips

We’re onto chart week six of our review of Bubbling Under tracks of the 80s. Let’s take a look at 1980 up through 1982.

Henry Mancini and his Orchestra – Ravel’s Bolero (debuted on 2-9-80, peaked at #101)
I’m sure you’re wondering what a film composer and a piece of seventy-year-old piece of classical music are doing here. Henry actually had a #1 hit in 1969 with the Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet, and he almost made the Top 40 as late as 1977 with the Charlie’s Angels theme, which hit #45. He’s also the man behind the iconic Pink Panther theme, which started his lifelong collaboration with filmmaker Blake Edwards.

For Edwards’ 1979 movie, 10, he needed HM to record a new version of Maurice Ravel’s most famous composition, Bolero, a one-movement orchestral ballet. It seems that Bo Derek’s character likes to do it to that jam, and it becomes the setting music when she and Dudley Moore finally get it on. I’m assuming by this 45, or the soundtrack was a lot cheaper than getting cornrows.

Alan Parsons Project – You Won’t Be There (debuted on 2-9-80, peaked at #105)

Abbey Road engineer Alan and Eric Woolfson continue their project with their fourth album, Eve, released in 1979, a concept album based on (a man’s feeling about) women’s strengths and characteristics. It will not be the first or last music created in the Mansplaining genre. Damned If I Do was the first single released, and it reached the Top 30. This laidback ballad was sung by singer-songwriter Dave Townsend who also contributed to 1977’s I Robot.

J.D. Souther – White Rhythm And Blues (debuted on 2-9-80, peaked at #105)

JD spent a decade trying to get a solo hit, finally scoring in late 1979 with the title track to his third album, You’re Only Lonely, a Roy Orbison tribute or re-write, depending on your view. This was a lovely follow-up that didn’t gain any traction despite featuring Phil Everly on backing vocals and John Sebastian on harmonica solo. Former flame Linda Ronstadt recorded her version on 1978’s Back In the U.S.A.

Rupert Holmes – Blackjack (debuted on 2-14-81, peaked at #103)

Six albums in and five different record companies – not a great way to keep any consistency. A lot of this was not Rupert’s fault. In fact, he survived and had success despite it. His 1980 Adventure spun out two members of The Other Sixty, Morning Man & I Don’t Need You. Between those two was this single, and although it’s not as immediate as Escape or Him, I still dig it. And I hope to hell someone in Vegas included in a medley as part of their lounge act. Otherwise, why did he bother?

Whitesnake – Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City (debuted on 2-14-81, peaked at #109)

Here’s the follow-up to the #53 peaking track Fool For Your Loving,  and it’s a cover of the 1974 Bobby Blue Bland tune. Are you wondering if this is the same Whitesnake that sang Here I Go Again with a slithering Tawny Kitaen in the video? Why yes, it is. They began life as an unofficial blues-rock offshoot of Deep Purple with Jon Lord on keyboards and David Coverdale on lead vocals. By the third album, Ready an’ Willing, they also had former DP drummer Ian Paice on drums. It’s quite good, and there’s plenty of metal on here, just not the type of slick glam that they padded their 401ks with

Triumph – Say Goodbye (debuted on 2-13-82, peaked at #102)

It’s hard for me to think of this band and not think of the comic insult dog puppet. It’s also hard to have a band name like this and continuously have untriumphant moments like these. Even in Canada, where they have CanCon, the band only managed four Top 40 hits, none higher than #14, over a three-decade career. From 1981’s Allied Forces, this track made it to #36 in the Great White North, which probably explains why it’s here.

Lakeside – I Want To Hold Your Hand (debuted on 2-13-82, peaked at #102)

Lakeside only had one Hot 100 entry, and it only reached #55. But lots of folks know the song Fantastic Voyage, even before Coolio mangled it into submission. What you may not know or have ever heard was their funky doo-wop-inspired cover of the Beatles classic. The first single released from their fifth album, Your Wish Is My Command, traveled up to #5 on the R&B charts.

The Whispers – In The Raw (debuted on 2-13-82, peaked at #103)

While finally breaking through to the Pop charts in 1980 after a decade of trying, this Soul quartet had trouble maintaining that crossover success throughout the 80s despite releasing one sweet jam after another. Released as the lead single from their fourteenth album, Love Is Where You Find It, it will be their eighth Top 10 single on the Soul charts.

 

Time Isn’t After Us

We are on chart week five of the Bubbling Under singles, and as you can see, we have a lot of R&B and dance tracks that didn’t get a chance to cross over. If you ever thought that the Pop charts were whitewashed in the 80s, especially compared to the previous decade, here’s some pretty good proof.

Phyllis Hyman – You Know How To Love Me (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #101)

Now, this is what I call classy Disco gold. This was the title track and first single released from her fourth album. It was produced by Reggie Lucas, and James Mtume, who were in between the success of Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway’s The Closer I Get To You and Stephanie Mills’ Never Knew Love Like This Before. This single should have easily joined those folks in the Top 40, but Disco was getting blackballed on radio, so very few tunes got a chance to shine. It will reach #12 on the R&B charts and #6 on the Disco charts. Phyllis never placed a single on the Hot 100.

Michael Johnson – The Very First Time (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #101)

MJ racked up three Top 40 hits between 1978 and 1979, including Bluer Than Blue. Then someone shut off the faucet, which prompted him to turn to the Country charts, where he had more success throughout the 80s. This ballad, written by Randy Goodrum, was from the album Dialogue, which already gave us the Top 20 Bill LaBounty-penned track, This Night Won’t Last Forever.

Instant Funk – Bodyshine (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #103)

I don’t understand why this disco-funk band did not have a more prominent career. They moved down to Philadelphia and became the backup band for lots of stars such as Lou Rawls, Evelyn Champagne King, and Bunny Sigler. They were also favorites of DJ Larry Levan, who was working his magic at the Paradise Garage in Manhattan and remixed their single, I Got My Mind Made Up, which eventually hit #20 in 1979. He remixed this cut from their third album, Witch Doctor, and although it was a club hit, it didn’t even reach the R&B Top 40.

The Gap Band – Steppin’ (Out) (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #103)

This was the first single from the Gap Band II album, and it will become their second R&B Top 10 hit. As a casual fan, you might not realize who the band is as they have yet to find their signature synth-funk sound. This sprightly track features Fender Rhodes, Latin percussion, and some keyboard work by Greg Phillinganes.

AC/DC – Touch Too Much (debuted 2-2-80, peaked at #106)

Highway to Hell was AC/DC’s last album with Bon Scott. In fact, two weeks after this track debuted here, Bon passed away. One month later, they hired Brian Johnson as the new lead vocalist, and one month after that, they started to write and record their next album. Only five months after losing Scott, they released Back In Black, which has sold over 50 million records internationally. Understandably this single, which as their second UK Top 40, was lost in the wake, so to speak.

Jim Stafford – Cow Patti (debuted 2-7-81, peaked at #102)

Former lover of snakes and spiders and current co-host of Those Amazing Animals is back at it with a song originally written for the Clint Eastwood orangutan sequel to Every Which Way But Loose. Jim is also in the film. It’s as everything bit as dumb as the title suggests.

Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime (debuted 2-7-81, peaked at #103)

Now imagine being a member of this New York City quartet and realizing that your single didn’t chart higher than Cow Patti. All that talk from producer Brian Eno discussing that it should be left off the new album, Remain In Light, might make you doubt its existence. Or sometimes you create something so out there that people need time to catch up with.

Considering this song never charted on the Hot 100 ( a live version charted in April 1986), it’s impressive that it became one of if not the most well-known song from this New Wave band. This is partly due to its iconic video, which earned lots of MTV airplay and was frequently used in their advertising. The song’s message of living life on auto-pilot is timeless, especially for those who hit middle age. It’s also funky as hell. I’m convinced that this is the song which convinced Tina & Chris to start the Tom Tom Club.

FYI – It became a Top 20 hit in the UK and Ireland.

Bettye LaVette – Right In The Middle (Of Falling In Love) (debuted 2-6-82, peaked at #103)

Miss Betty had her first taste of success back in early 1963 when she hit #7 on the Soul charts with My Man-He’s A Lovin’ Man.  You might have caught her on Broadway in the mid-70s as part of the cast to Bubbling Brown Sugar. And even though she recorded sporadically for two decades, it wasn’t until 1982 that she released her first full album when she was signed to Motown. This midtempo ballad, written by Sam Dees, will become her last R&B Top 40 hit. She continues to record and released Blackbirds, a bluesy homage to her female peers, in 2020.

Novo Combo – Tattoo (debuted 2-6-82, peaked at #103)

Here’s a quartet made up of four dudes who had been playing solo or with bands for years and came together to create two New Wave Power Pop albums in the early 80s. Singer Stephen Dees released a Daryl Hall-produced album in 1977. Guitarist Pete Hewlett was in the Euclid Beach Band. And drummer Michael Shrieve played with Santana on his first seven albums. Another great band lost to history.

André Cymone – Kelly’s Eyes (debuted 2-5-83, peaked at #107)

After playing with Prince since his 94 East days up through the Controversy album, Andre struck out on his own in 1982. Unfortunately, he was now competing with his childhood friend, and although his songs were entertaining, they could not hold up in comparison to him. For example, when you listen to this track, you would swear that you were about to hear Prince’s falsetto yowl. But you don’t. It’s a bit jarring to hear Andre’s low tenor come in instead. He would never chart on the Hot 100 but would share some success with his one-time wife, Jody Watley, producing her first four albums.

All debuts in the Bubbling Under chart during this week in 1984 made the Hot 100.

Ashford & Simpson – Outta The World (debuted 2-2-85, peaked at #102)

Here is the follow-up to this married duo’s biggest Pop [#12] & R&B [#1] hit, Solid. This midtempo synth-boogie will reach #4 on the Soul charts but will be kept off the Hot 100, even with all of that great momentum.

Klymaxx – The Men All Pause (debuted 2-2-85, peaked at #105)

We wrap it up with a female sextet from L.A., who not only played their instruments but wrote their own songs as well. They were on album number three with no success and their label, SOLAR, refused to release it. So they went back into the studio and recorded Meeting In The Ladies Room. Released in late 1984, this was the first single, and this synth-funk jam climbed up to #5 on the Soul charts. It would take two more single releases until they crossed over with I Miss You, which hit #5 in early 1986.

The band’s image also inspired this recent SNL sketch.

Somehow I Believed We’d Always Survive

Any smart corporation releases its strongest product in the fourth quarter to show positive sales growth going into a new year. Record companies would utilize this ploy as well. That is why we have a stacked Top 20 here in early January ’80. Sixteen of these twenty songs are by artists who have already had a Top 10 hit. Out of the last four, two will become superstars. Even the one-hit-wonder has a hitmaker attached. Most of these songs still get played today, thanks to the emergence of yacht rock stations. And more importantly, this group is in my wheelhouse. Let’s review the Top 20 from January 26th, 1980.

20. K.C. and the Sunshine Band – Please Don’t Go

This was the Florida band’s fifth #1 single (sixth, if you believe the story of Keep It Comin’ Love getting the shaft) over a five year period, a rare and risky ballad for a Disco group.

SXMFU – On this Big 40 Countdown, Alan mentions that this single comes from Wanna Go Party, but the album is titled Do You Wanna Go Party? He also notes that this is the band’s last hurrah, which was not true either. The band released two more albums, and although they didn’t spawn any hits, a third release, All In A Night’s Work, did. Give It Up in #1 for three weeks in the Uk in the Summer of 1983. Since their US record company, Epic, wouldn’t release it, KC had to find an independent label to put it out, which meant he would have to release it under his own name. It made the Top 20 here in early 1984.

19. Isaac Hayes – Don’t Let Go

Some know him as Gandy. Some know him as Chef. But all music fans know that Isaac always throws down. This smooth and soulful disco jam, the title track to his fourteenth album., was a cover of a 1958 Roy Hamilton hit. He’s one spot away from his peak.

18. Daryl Hall and John Oates – Wait For Me

Even though this duo racked three Top 10 singles, with one of them reaching #1, their ride through the 70s was not a smooth one. It took them the decade to find their sound and the right players to help them achieve it. By the time of their eighth album, X-Static, they have guitarist G.E. Smith on board and sax player Charlie DeChant, both stable members of their 80s crew. Produced by David Foster, the album featured minor forays into disco as well as glimpses of their New Wave-inspired rock and soul. This potential graduation ballad is at its peak.

17. Dionne Warwick – Deja Vu

RAR – We heard Isaac Hayes at #19 with a song someone else wrote. Now here’s Dionne singing a song that Isaac wrote for her. And it’s produced by Barry Manilow, but even he can’t fuck up this sweet, sultry groove. If you were born around Thanksgiving in 1980, you might be a product of this song’s potent prowess.

16. Teri DeSario with KC – Yes, I’m Ready

OHW – Henry W. Casey and Teri were classmates back in Miami. So when she was looking to record her second album, she asked him to produce and sing a few duets. This one, a 1965 Barbara Mason smash, was the first single released, and it’s on its way up to #2., held down by Queen. After this, Teri found Jesus and disappeared.

15. Kenny Loggins – This Is It

Here’s WestCoast at his most mystical with a mother collaboration with Michael McDonald, one it’s way up to #11. It’s become a Yacht Rock staple, no doubt due to its inclusion in this.

14. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Don’t Do Me Like That

This Gainesville, FL quintet shoots a missile towards Pop programmers with their first single from their third album, Damn The Torpedos. Benmont Tench is working the piano and organ simultaneously like a champ. And Tom is ready to punch if you do him wrong. It will become their first Top 10 hit.

13. Kool & The Gang – Ladies Night

PD – I went down a rabbit hole and found a 1980 performance at the American Music Awards on YouTube. Check out who’s in the audience diggin’ on this jam.

12. Dr. Hook – Better Love Next Time

RAR – Dr. Hook sprinkled in a tinge of disco vibes into their music and a nice run in the Top 40 between 1978 and 1980. This single was the first released from their 1979 LP, Sometimes You Win, and it’s chillin’ at its high. Somehow it even crossed over to the Country charts, peaking at #91.

11. Prince – I Wanna Be Your Lover

Here is the first of many Top 40 smashes by the Purple one. And just like Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren before him, he plays everything on this Polymoog-soaked disco smoker. Supposedly this song was inspired by meeting and developing a crush on singer/ keyboardist Patrice Rushen. It will be his first R&B #1 and also gave us this fantastic American Bandstand interview.

10. Fleetwood Mac – Sara

Is this song about Stevie Nicks’ best friend marrying Mick Fleetwood? Is this song about her & Don Henley’s unborn child? Or is this just another sublime performance by the WestCoast witch on a double album, Tusk, full of some of the band’s most experimental moments?

9. Eagles – The Long Run

They have one of the best selling albums of all time. They permanently jacked the price of concert tickets up. A 3-hour 2013 documentary on the group won two Emmys. Now that the run is over, I guess we all found out that they made it. Bastards.

8. Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love

PD – I like Danny Zucco look that Freddie adopted around this time. Makes me sad that we never got to hear his version of Sandy.

7. Cliff Richard – We Don’t Talk Anymore

PD – Cliffo is on the verge of one of his biggest US hits as well as his first UK #1 hit since 1968. From his twenty-seventh album, Rock And Rock Juvenile, this Polymoog-led single will hit the top in eight countries and sits at its peak this week in the US. Not bad for a guy about to turn 40. Also, do not hire this man as a shepherd.

6. Stevie Wonder – Send One Your Love

PD – From Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants, his first album in three years here’s Stevie with his first Top 10 since Sir Duke hit #1 in 1977. This jazzy ballad and unofficial F.T.D. campaign slips from its Pop high of #4. It will also be an R&B Top 5 and #1 on the AC charts

5. Smokey Robinson – Cruisin’

RAR – It only took nine albums, but Smokey finally has a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100. Whether you dig it or not, all I know is someone’s getting pregnant by the time this ballad is over. It still bothers me that Gwyneth Paltrow had a #1 AC hit in 2000 with her version of this classic, which is just proof that White people will ruin everything if you let them.

4. Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

PFK – Imagine finally having a Top 40 single climb the charts only to have your record label fold because a deal they made with the Catholic church bankrupted them. Infinity Records released Rupert’s Partners In Crime album just before releasing Pope John Paul’s album of songs and sermons, which they invested heavily in. Pope’s album bombed, but champagne-enthusiast Holmes eventually took his track up to #1 for three weeks. The lesson learned here is obvious.

3. Kenny Rogers – Coward Of The Country

Kenny really got on a roll in 1979 with three significant cross-over smashes – The Gambler, She Believes In Me, and You Decorated My Life. The latter was the first single from Kenny, and now we have the second, a tale of ol’ Tommy going from a yellow-bellied pacifist to beating up the gang-raping Gatlin boys.

2. Captain & Tennille – Do That To Me One More Time

PFK – Daryl and Toni moved from A&M Records to Casablanca with the apt title, Make Your Move. This single will have to play bridesmaid for a full month before finally reaching the mountaintop during the week of Valentine’s Day. It will be their last Top 40 hit. Tom Scott plays the lyricon solo.

1. Michael Jackson – Rock With You

Last weekend I took my kids to a record store for the first time in a month. Our neighborhood shop, Harvest Records, allows you to schedule hour-long “appointments” to shop by your self in the store. I let my kids pick out a CD to buy. My daughter picked a Jason Mraz CD. My son found Back In Black and Off The Wall and didn’t know which to choose. He eventually selected MJ, and we’ve been rewarded with continuous plays of this month-long #1. Although I would have been okay with AC-DC too.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • STA – Second Time Around
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake

Injections of Magic Stimulation

They could have been. They should have been. But they never got to the Hot 100. Here are the songs that stayed below in the Bubbling Under charts in the 80s during chart week four.

Head East – Got To Be Real (debuted 1/26/80, peaked at #103)

This Midwest quintet sounds like Styx if they never let Dennis DeYoung join them. They dropped three singles onto the Hot 100 in the late 70s, with each one doing progressively better. Their fifth album, A Different Kind Of Crazy, spawned this track, which I think is better than the others. I guess I’m alone in thinking that.

Fun fact: Lead singer Dave Schlitt was fired after the group’s sixth album in 1980 for being a druggie. He cleaned up and formed the Christian rock band Petra.

Ambrosia – Outside (debuted 1/31/81, peaked at #102)

Now a little West Coast for you from a band with two big singles in 1980 – You’re The Only Woman and Biggest Part Of Me. They were asked to be a part of the soundtrack to the Richard Donner-directed film, Inside Moves and had this jazzy single released only to languish below the Hot 100 for two months. It was written by lead singer David Pack along with Michael McDonald, who also provided backing vocals.

Moon Martin – Love Gone Bad (debuted 1/31/81, peaked at #105)

Oklahoma native John “Moon” Martin had a memorable 1979. He nabbed his only Top 40 hit, Rolene and Robert Palmer took one of his songs, Bad Case Of Lovin’ You (Doctor, Doctor), into the Top 20. This singer-songwriter put out his third LP, Street Fever, in late 1980, and this country-tinged midtempo pop-rocker was the lead single. Moon passed away in May 2020.

Nielsen/Pearson – Two Lonely Nights (debuted 1/31/81, peaked at #110)

Here’s a little more smoothness for ya. Pull the boat out of dry dock and enjoy this follow-up to Reed Nielsen and Mark Pearson’s only Top 40 entry, If You Should Sail.

ELO – Rain Is Falling (debuted 1/30/82, peaked at #101)

Jeff Lynne decided it was too much work to say “the electric light orchestra’ and from now on, his band would be known as three letters. Plus, technology started to wipe away the necessity of stringed instruments. Their cinematic third single from the album Time did not follow the other two into the Top 40, let alone the Hot 100.

Rick James – Ghetto Life (debuted 1/30/82, peaked at #102)

It’s interesting to see these two artists chart and fail together. Rick’s music was never made for the Pop crowd. The fact that he crossed over with his punk-funk was a testament to his talents. It’s a shame, though, that a terrific song like this, the third released from Street Songs and featuring backing vocals by The Temptations, wasn’t more successful.

Prince – Let’s Work (debuted 1/30/82, peaked at #104)

The student will soon become the master. The man Rick took out on tour with him, dissed and humiliated constantly, will become an icon in the 80s. It will take a while for many folks to appreciate the dark funk of his fourth album, Controversy. This jam was probably to most straightforward tune on the album but isn’t even close to the best. And within nine months, he will release his first opus, the double LP, 1999, so he’s just getting started.

Chic – Stage Fright (debuted 1/30/82, peaked at #105)

Nile Rodgers was hit with divine inspiration while he wrote this. Or maybe he was feeling the force from Dagobah? Otherwise, how do you explain the Yoda-like hook, “My stage fright holds back me.”? The lead single from Take It Off was funky disco-rock, showing more muscle than their polished classics, and it’s one of my faves from them.

Tané Cain – My Time To Fly (debuted 1/29/83, peaked at #108)

Jonathan Cain moved from The Babys to Journey in 1981 and immediately used that juice to get his then-wife, Tane (pronounced Tawnee), an album deal. Her single, Holdin’ On, co-written by Jonathan, reached #37. This slick pop-rock offering was the follow-up, but it never took flight.

Fun fact: Tane played Reese Witherspoon’s mom in Legally Blonde.

Randy Crawford – Imagine (debuted 1/29/83, peaked at #108)

It’s a shame that Randy didn’t have more success on the Pop charts, outside of her appearance of the Crusaders’ 1979 hit, Street Life. Her buttery voice melts over everything she sings. This jazzy cover of John Lennon’s classic was recorded with the Yellowjackets live in Europe, where she was well-regarded, for an all-star Warner Brothers album called Family Affair. I’m not sure it was ever released.

Shalamar – You Can Count On Me (debuted 1/28/84, peaked at #101)

Shalamar released a rare ballad that starts off sounding like Styx’s Babe before Howard Hewitt kicks in with his silky falsetto. It was the third single released from their seventh album, The Look. This will still be bubblin’ as Jody Watley splits the group, and they debut in mid-March on the Hot 100 with their last Top 40 hit, Dancing In the Sheets.

Earth, Wind & Fire – Touch (debuted 1/28/84, peaked at #103)

The second single from EWF’s thirteenth album, Electric Universe, did not reach any of the band’s heights of the 70s.  Even Let’s Groove, a smash two years previous, seemed like a lifetime ago in 1984. They have fully embraced the digital age, and while this is a good song,  it’s just not as immediate as their other hits.

Freeez – Pop Goes My Love (debuted 1/28/84, peaked at #104)

Freeez started out as part of the Brit-Funk movement of the early 80s, and their debut contains one of my faves from that period, Southern Freeez. Fast forward a few years, and the group is now recording breakdance music with Arthur Baker. This was the second track from their second album, Gonna Get You, and it hit #5 on the Dance charts and the UK Top 40.

Whodini – Freaks Come Out At Night (debuted 1/26/85, peaked at #104)

Finally, some hip-hop, even if it’s being held down. Another great track from the Brooklyn trio’s landmark second album, Escape. I also remember hearing this song in The Jewel Of The Nile for some reason.

Sam Harris – Hearts On Fire (debuted 1/26/85, peaked at #108)

Star Search legend follows up his one Top 40, Sugar Don’t Bite, with another one for your aerobic workout.

Fun fact: Sam co-created the TV show, Down to Earth, which ran for four seasons on TBS.