Love Songs And Lonely Hearts

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Let’s jump back into the Top 40 from February 20, 1988:

34. Twilight World-Swing Out Sister

The follow-up to their smash, Breakout, so Not-A-One-Hit-Wonder [NAOHW], which is probably why this jazzy pop number made it in. Its cool sophisticated 60s martini and spies vibe masks the fact that the song is about fighting depression. Great production and smooth vocals by Corrine Drewery.

33. 853-5937-Squeeze

NAOHW [And I’m not including Tempted which missed the Top 40] A gimmicky yet catchy pop songs from the masters Difford & Tilbrook from an LP, Babylon & On that I wore the grooves down to dust. Funny how dated the tale of a catching a possible cheater is when framed around an answering machine.

32. Rocket 2 U-The Jets

Not many Mormons in Minneapolis, but all 8 of them gathered together to form the family act, The Jets and have 5 Top 10’s in the 80s, including this one with a spelling nod to Prince.  8 kids? How did anyone make any money on this deal?

31. Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay-Michael Bolton

For my money, I don’t know if it gets any better than when he sings When a Man Loves a Woman. So I’ll pass.

30. Pop Goes The World-Men Without Hats

NAOHW – This Canadian trio featuring two brothers proved that simple and dumb can be catchy and fun. Love the call back to The Safety Dance during the bridge.

29. Because of You-The Cover Girls

Because of the success of another 3rd generation copy of the Supremes called Expose. Because the gimmick was a “Latin” take on Motown. Because it generated even blander faceless trios [Sweet Sensation, Seduction, other S groups…] This forgettable trend in dance music was because of you, Lewis A. Martinee.

28. Hysteria-Def Leppard

After the 1984 car accident where drummer Rick Allen lost one of his arms, many never believed he would play again or that the band Def Leppard would continue. But after 3 long years of learning how to drum with his legs, DL released Hysteria, which spawned 6 Top 40 hits. What a nice comeback. And that’s where it should end.

By the way, they should not be in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame – case in the point, this song. Also, they are not nor never were heavy metal – case in point, this song.

27. Man In The Mirror-Michael Jackson

If the faux gospel and preachiness don’t get you then maybe the irony of Michael looking in a mirror and wanting to make a change does.

26. I Want Her-Keith Sweat

The former stockbroker who only knew six notes sang the hell out of them into a long new jack career. We used to have a local classified paper around here called Iwanna. Had they licensed this song for commercials they’d still be around.

25. Be Still My Beating Heart-Sting

I love The Police and can’t argue with them for going out on top. But had Sting brought this song to the band, they would have replaced the mellow with tension and stripped it down to the bone, turning it from a song to fall asleep to one you’d fight alongside in a pub. Wait Andy Summers places on this? So it was Stewart he had to get away from?

24. Out Of The Blue-Debbie Gibson

“When did we start listening to pre-pubescent white girls? I must have missed that meeting. We have at our fingertips the greatest minds of all time, the knowledge and history of the great thinkers, of all fucking time. But no, what’s that little white girl saying?” I miss Bill Hicks.

23. I Live For Your Love-Natalie Cole

In 1967 the Grammy for Best Female R&B vocal was created. Aretha Franklin won the first eight. Who stopped that streak? Miss Natalie Cole. She was a badass with an amazing voice. We should be praising her more. Why don’t we? Because of aural Nyquil like this. Song choice is everything.

22. Love Overboard-Gladys Knight & the Pips

Now we’re talking. Another great soul singer who knew the sweet spots in every song. This was their first Top 40 hits in 13 years. What did I just say about song choice? The Pips “retired” right after this hit. I met her once around this time and she was pure joy.

21. Tunnel Of Love-Bruce Springsteen

It’s amazing how quickly Bruce came down from his high between 1984-85. Born in The USA had 7 Top 10 hits but his followup only generated 2 Top 10 hits, the title track being one of them. And that’s just how he planned it. Because now he could do what he wanted for the rest of his career, write and play whatever he felt and still be the Boss, even if that includes a solo show on Broadway for $500 a seat.

 

Patience and Money

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[In the spirit of others such as JB, WM & KB, who have done this before better and are more entertaining, I am taking a crack at analyzing an American Top 40 countdown.] 

If you had Sirius XM in the late 2000s you might have caught an airing of an old 80s American Top 40 countdown with Casey Kasem on the 80s on 8 channel. At some point, they were discontinued and only the 70s channel aired AT40s. The 80s channel instead rebranded the AT40 as the Big 40 countdown referencing the same Billboard Pop charts that Casey used. It was and still is hosted by MTV’s former original DJs Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood & Alan Hunter [Martha Quinn was involved early on but dropped out.].

In some ways, this newer countdown is superior to Casey’s. For example, since they are not pressed for time the way Casey was nor do they have to stop for commercials, they will use the full single or sometimes the album versions of songs. They will also add in some interesting stories about the artists and/or songs that I have never heard before.

And just like AT40 they will also make an occasional mistake, like the name-checking the wrong album and listing incorrect facts among other slipups. But in this day and age of simple fact-checking as opposed to the endless research the AT40 staff had to perform, I find these errors are sloppy and ridiculous. Nevertheless, the show is entertaining and I will listen to it multiple times to my families delight, horror and the delight again.

This week they played the Top 40 hits from February 20, 1988. Let’s dig into the first six:

40. Live My Life-Boy George

From a movie no one saw (Hiding Out) comes George’s first solo Top 40 single. It never climbs any higher. He’d hit the Top 40 again in 1993 with another soundtrack song, The Crying Game. Produced by the Pet Shop Boys, it reached #15 in the Spring of 1993.

39. Tell It To My Heart-Taylor Dayne

We were entering a new phase of very very white people trying to sound very very black. To me, this is interesting programmed synth pop, dance music that no one danced to. Taylor and this sound were ubiquitous on the radio during the late 80s. Lucky us.

38. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man-Prince

The 3rd Top 10 from Prince’s Sign ‘O’ The Times LP is sliding down the charts. I honestly was amazed this pop rocker was a hit. Not one of my favorites, but I love Prince and can’t say anything bad about the dude. And if this song kept Poison out of the Top 40, then it’s all good to me. Oh, and Hot Thang was the B-side. BTW he was still in his 20’s when he recorded this album. Unbelievable.

37. The Way You Make Me Feel-Michael Jackson

This is the 3rd of 5 straight #1s from this album. I was so let down by the Bad album. It sounded overproduced and watered down til there was hardly any soul left in it. People say Thriller killed Michael but it was really Bad. I often wonder what the world would be like if Michael retired after that Victory tour.

36. Got My Mind Set On You-George Harrison

A former #1 from George’s last LP. While it was good to see George get the spotlight again in 1987/1988, I always thought this song was a hokey piece of crap. Time has led me to soften my stance a bit to a silly piece of fluff. In a countdown with Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, this is by far the whitest thing on it.

35. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car-Billy Ocean

Speaking of former Beatles, Alan Hunter talks about Ringo Starr and how creepy You’re Sixteen sounds in 2019 [True, among others…]. And that Billy Ocean stole his title from that song. [Actually, the lines in You’re Sixteen are “You walked out of my dreams and into my arms.” which is close.] He does steal “Your non-stop miracle. I’m your man.” from the Roman Holiday song One Foot In Your Back Door.

I prefer Ocean Billy.

 

 

Take a Ride Down Astral Drive

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As a big fan of Todd Rundgren I great every new project of his with much anticipation. So when someone unrelated comes along and put out an album that sounds like a lost Rundgren LP from 1973, it catches me by surprise. Astral Drive is the band and album that has sent me in a giddy tailspin since its late Summer 2018 release, which inspired my latest article at Culture Sonar.