Joe Jackson ’79

When Joe Jackson’s debut came out in 1979 we barely had any time to digest the full awesomeness of it before he released his 2nd LP later that year. Here’s an article I wrote that’s posted at Culture Sonar on my top Joe Jackson songs from his first two albums: Look Sharp & I’m The Man.

One Night I Dreamed Of New York

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Get out your bowling balls and let’s knock down the last 10.

10. You’re Not Alone – Chicago

There’s a reason why one of the most successful American bands in rock history was kept out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for so long, beyond the fact that Jan Wenner & Rolling Stone magazine have always had hatred for the band (and anything resembling horn rock) It’s the fact that they abandoned their signature sound in the 80s for treacly ballads like this one to pad their 401Ks.

9. Roni – Bobby Brown

Roni, short for tenderoni, was Bobby’s 3rd straight Top 10 from his smash album, Don’t Be Cruel. What should have been a promising career turned out to be one disaster after another. And if ever there were two people that shouldn’t have gotten together, it was he and Whitney. But like Ralph once said, “If I like the girl, who cares who you like?”

8. Walk The Dinosaur – Was (Not Was)

NAOHW – The answer to how do you write a song about The Flintstones without mentioning Fred or Barney. This may be the only band with parenthesis in their name to hit the Top 10. How did a song with a bridge about Elvis landing in a rocketship and healing some lepers sung by a homeless drunk get this far?

Was (Not Was) was definitely a quirky ensemble mixing rock, jazz, new wave and funk fronted by two distinct R&B singers with some far-out conceptual lyrics and collaborations as wide-ranging as Mel Torme and Ozzy Osborne.

7. She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals

When the English Beat split, Dave Wakeling & Ranking Roger formed General Public. The other 2 members, Andy Cox & David Steele put together the Fine Young Cannibals, recruiting singer Roland Gift who sounds like a mashup of Michael McDonald and Charlie Brown’s teacher funneled through a wah-wah pedal. Their debut didn’t do well in the States, but their 2nd album The Raw & the Cooked hit #1 and spawned 2 #1 singles, Good Thing and this one. And then, poof, they disappeared, never to be heard from again.

6. Lost In Your Eyes – Debbie Gibson

You can discuss whether Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill is a great album or whether it still holds up. But it was a tremendous upgrade over irritating babysitter pop like this. We should be hunting down the person who gave little Debbie the keys to a recording studio because we are the real victims. Also, see the movie Welcome To The Dollhouse.

5. My Heart Can’t Tell You No – Rod Stewart

Robert Palmer was offered this song but rather than record it himself, passed it on to his mate, Rod thinking he would be perfect for him. He was right. It was Rod’s first Top 10 in three years and tenth to that point. Meanwhile, Robert never had another Top 10 hit again.

4. The Look – Roxette

We all love Swedish pop but after ABBA broke up, we didn’t know where to get our fix. Then before the 80s ended, Roxette showed up. How much did we like them? Between 1989 and 1991, we helped to push 4 of their songs to #1 and two of them to #2. As they started fading like a flower in 1992, we didn’t know what to do. And that’s when Ace of Base came in. And on it goes. Uff da!

3. Girl You Know It’s True – Milli Vanilli

Milli Vanilli ended up having 5 Top Ten hits from “their” debut, 3 of them reaching #1. This was the first, which hit #2. Everyone knows their story of fortune and fraud, so let me turn your attention to who wrote and released the original version of the song. Because while it may have ended the careers of Rob & Fab, it propelled others.

In 1987, a Baltimore, MD group of rappers & DJs called NuMarx released a 12′ single called Girl You Know It’s True, written by the group and including the keyboardist for Starpoint. It was a regional hit but eventually found its way over to Europe, specifically to Germany where Milli Vanilli producer Frank Farian heard it.

One songwriter, DJ Spen aka Sean Spencer joined the Basement Boys who were heavy players in the house music scene of the 90s and produced and/or remixed hits for Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Crystal Waters and Erykah Badu. Bill Petteway ended up writing songs for Sweet Sensation, Starpoint and Linear. I don’t how much if anything the writers received but I hope it was ample.

One of the original vocalists on the Milli Vanilli track was Charles Shaw who was supposedly paid $6000 for his “rap”.

2. Eternal Flame – Bangles

This number one song, The Bangles’ second, kept the other Girl as a bridesmaid when it hit the top. They were the first non-Motown girl group to have multiple #1s in the US. The song was also a big hit in Sweden as part of our Bangles-Roxette international music ambassador series.

1. The Living Years – Mike + The Mechanics

And now we’ve finally risen to the top because it truly sucks up here. The other Genesis spin-off not named Phil Collins to score themselves a number one hit, one I’m sure is not played much in June. Isn’t there a rule against church choirs in pop songs? There’s definitely a rule against an album credit for a choirmaster in your liner notes. I’m not sure anyone asked God to borrow them and you know he hates devil music like this. That’s probably why Mike & The Mechanics would never have another hit after this one, at least thus far in their living years.

Oh well, now that the final pin is down I’m gonna lay down in the gutter. We’ll see if 1987 picks me up next week and buys me a Caucasian.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

I Can’t Seem To Take These Changes

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From Seattle, Florida to Miami, Washington, these are the biggest hits of the land chosen by balding neophytes who’ll be in the pharmaceutical business within the next 5 years. So let’s get right to it:

25. Like A Prayer – Madonna

Madonna made everyone her bitch by the end of the decade, always thinking one step beyond her audience. And she knew it wouldn’t take much to freak people out – a video featuring a stigmata, kissing a black Jesus and oh yeah, dancing in front of burning crosses. I wasn’t sure about that one, but once the video aired and controversy ensued, Pepsi canceled her ad campaign but let her keep the money. What a boss!

24. Heaven Help Me – Deon Estus

OHW – and a song you’d hear waiting in line at a drug store, so I’m gonna label it Rite-Aid Rock (RAR). Deon was a bass player from Detroit who got some primo music lessons from the Funk Brother James Jamerson. He parlayed that into a gig with Harvey Mason, singing on his album M.V.P. in 1981 and singing lead on his first recorded version of the song Spell. After he traveled to Europe hooking up with a new pop group called Wham! UK, he became their secret ingredient anchoring their marshmallow pop with a funky bottom. When it came time to record his debut, his pal, George (Michael) not only co-wrote but also produced and sang on the Top 5 Heaven Help Me, as well as giving Deon an opening slot on his Faith tour.

23. Straight Up – Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul’s debut album was a flop in 1988. The first two singles didn’t go anywhere. But then as 88 became 89, she had a miraculous turnaround with some rare record support making this song the first of 4 #1 singles. Her boyfriend, Arsenio, made a cameo in the video too.

22. Cryin’ – Vixen

What the Bangles were to pop, Vixen was to hard rock. An all-girl band is rare enough but to find one in the boys club of hair metal was like finding a record needle in a haystack (or the lead singer’s hair.)

21. More Than You Know – Martika

Kids Incorporated was a music kid’s show that aired from 1984-1994, but I have yet to meet someone who watched it. It was a launching ground for singers Fergie, Rahsaan Patterson and Marta Marrero aka Martika. Her debut yielded 3 Top 40 hits with this one as the first, reaching the top 20 in the US & UK.

20. Your Mama Don’t Dance – Poison

I get the feeling the only reason they covered this song was that someone awoke from their cocaine stupor and heard “Outta the car, long hair” while a tow truck backed their car out of aisle 4 of a Travelodge pool. Again.

19. I Beg Your Pardon – Kon Kan

Can con is short for Canadian content, which assures Canadian artists that they have a 60% chance of getting their music played on Canadian radio, which is why we’ve heard of the Barenaked Ladies. Also Kon Kan, who mash up an original retro disco track with a sample of Lynn Anderson’s Rose Garden.  It will reach #15. They also get some points for adding the hard to find National Lampoon sample, “Do you want to Hustle? Do you want to salsa?”

18. You Got It (The Right Stuff) – New Kids On The Block

I dated a girl in high school who loved these guys. She was 17 at the time. I told her she was a little too old for that teeny bopper stuff. She told me that I reminded her of Donnie. I think of that every time I watch The Sixth Sense.

17. Superwoman – Karyn White

Karyn White had a boatload of hits in the late 80s and early 90s. Then by the end of the 90s, she dropped out of the music scene and is now a SuperRealtor – *finger snaps*

16. You Got It – Roy Orbison

Roy had been a big star in the early 60s but became a casualty of the incoming British Invasion even as some of those bands idolized him. His worthy late 80s resurgence as a Traveling Wilbury and his classic Mystery Girl album saw Roy get his last Top 10 hit, 23 years after his last one. Sadly, he didn’t get to experience that as he passed away in December 1988.

15. Just Because – Anita Baker

We needed Anita. We need more Anitas. We almost didn’t get her. Her mother abandoned Anita as a toddler and her foster parent died when she was 12. She struggled her entire life just to survive, so the fact that she eventually “made it” was remarkable, due not only to her talent and perseverance but fulfilling her destiny.

Anita was one of only 5 Black female artists in the 80s with a #1 album as Giving You The Best That I Got spent 4 weeks in late 1988 on top.

14. Stand – R.E.M.

R.E.M. didn’t want to be a cult band with college rock cred. They wanted to sell out arenas. So they created very simple, sometimes incredible dumb songs, usually one per album to get some radio airplay, hence this track and eventually Shiny Happy People.

13. Don’t Tell Me Lies – Breathe

Here are some facts about the band, Breathe that you may not know. Their debut album spun off 3 Top 10 songs, this one being the third. They had two more Top 40 hits from their 2nd album, Peace of Mind. David Glasper was being groomed for a solo career but he nor the band ever released any more material. [Correction – David self-released a CD in 2014.]

12. Dreamin’ – Vanessa Williams

RAR – might even hear this walking through a casino buffet line. Vanessa was the first Black woman to win the Miss America crown, so of course, we all looked at our watch counting the minutes before someone took it away. Vanessa would eventually resign, not because of the death threats and hate mail, but because of nude photographs of her and another woman posed together. Gasp, I know, especially because that sounds like a Nicki Minaj album cover.

Vanessa would shoot down the haters and enjoy a successful career in acting, fashion designing and music. This would be her first Top 40 hit reaching #10.

Fun fact – One of the Miss America 1984 judges was Rod McKuen who wrote Seasons In the Sun. Make your own joke up here.

11. Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses

Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.” That’s not a long walk from here to Kid Rock. How interesting that in 1989 utopia consisted of hot chicks and quality landscaping.

Are you feeling like Bill Murray lugging the pastor’s clubs in the rain? Don’t worry the storm is almost over…

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

Justice Will Not Rest

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Happy Spring. Rejuvenation. Rebirth. Everything’s blooming. All that crap. Let’s check out what we you were into on March 25, 1989

40. One – Metallica

Wow! Who would have thought in 1988 that Metallica would be in the Top 40. That was the power of MTV back then because this video was the most popular on the channel for months on end and it obviously helped get the song noticed. It was truly a big deal.

But as I listen to it today, it makes me laugh. I can’t take it seriously because it sounds like a parody of speed metal. The production on it is surprisingly bad and very dated. Many believe Master of Puppets is a definitive thrash metal album, but And Justice For All which features One is just the band’s first big step away from the genre into the mainstream hard rock of their “black album” in 1991.

39. Feels So Good – Van Halen

This was the 4th Top 40 Single from 1988’s OU812, which makes it their most successful singles album. That is the most interesting about it. I imagine that Cabo Wabo shots were passed around in the recording studio.

38. Wild Thing – Tone Loc

This is the first of two songs by one of the worst representatives of rap. Tone’s flow absolutely sucks. The beats are pretty weak, produced for girls dancing in cages and frat boys spraying Natty light at them. This is coming down from its height of #2 kept off the top by Paula Abdul. Also, we’re hearing back to back Van Halen because they are using a sample of Jamie’s Cryin’ for which the band had to sue Tone to get some money. To this day they are not listed as co-songwriters.

37. The Love In Your Eyes – Eddie Money

Eddie had a rebirth in the late 80s with the surprise hit, Take Me Home Tonight. From that point, he had 6 more Top 40 songs between 1987 and 1992, each one less distinctive than the next. This one was somewhere in that streak. Considering how many other great songs could have filled these positions, it’s really a crime.

36. Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) – Enya

NAOHW – Ok, so we’ve had metal, corporate rock, rap and now…new age? Good for you 1989. Enya’s success marked the end of the first wave of new age music. Now that a viable market for the genre had emerged, record companies starting looking for ways to exploit it. Is it really cool or kinda scary that the entire song is pretty much Enya and a Roland D-50?

35. She Won’t Talk To Me – Luther Vandross

Luther worked so hard in the music business to have success and after 15+ years he only had 4 Top hits to show for it, with this one only reaching #30. Thankfully the 90s were kinder to him, but the man died in 2006 at age 54 with so much more to give.

34. The Lover In Me – Sheena Easton

Did anyone think Sheena would have hits on R&B radio after she sang the vanilla Morning Train? But this one would go Top 5 on the Pop & Soul charts, her 3rd Top 20 on the latter listing. Co-written by Babyface who would soon take over the pop charts in the early 90s, this was his 3rd fruitful songwriting venture for a female artist after Pebbles & Karyn White, but the first for an established singer.

33. Sincerely Yours – Sweet Sensation

Another group in the Latin Supremes mold who had hits in the late 80s/early 90s which everyone forgets about.

32. Thinking Of You – Sa-Fire

OHW – Sa-Fire was having none of that sharing the spotlight with two other ladies. She could have a hit and be forgotten all on her own.

31. Rocket – Def Leppard

The LP Hysteria had some full utters cause they milked this hard for a year and a half. This was the 6th Top 40 hit from that album and we were beginning to get Lep-Lash. Their next album came out 5 years after this one and I swear it had the same songs on it with different titles.

30. Room To Move – Animotion

In some sort of Trading Places-like bet, a few record execs wondered “what if we replace the faces and founding members of a band? Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?” So they held on to the “name”, got rid of most of the members and hired two new lead singers, keeping the guitarist and the keyboard player, probably the quietest ones. No drums, no bass – to keep costs down, I’m sure.

And it worked. They pushed this song all the way up to the Top 10 led by the former lead singer from Device and Penny from Dirty Dancing. After the record company cashed their checks, they broke up their band before any former members crashed their Christmas party.

29. Surrender To Me – Ann Wilson & Robin Zander

Heart & Cheap Trick are both in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But their respective lead singers have never been in the Top 40 by themselves. Ann shared a duet with Mike Reno in 1984 and for Robin Zander, this was it. From a Michelle Pfeiffer/ Mel Gibson movie that no one saw, I have no recollection of this Top 10 song even after I hear it.

28. Second Chance – .38 Special

Y’all we need some hits. That probably came from someone left in the band when the band’s lead singer Don Barnes left in 1987. Do you even know that he left? Couldn’t tell – I had no clue. Did you know Donnie Van Zant doesn’t play with them either? What was it all for?

27. I’ll Be There For You – Bon Jovi

If you buy an album called New Jersey then you get what you paid for. Even Springsteen knew to abbreviate the state cause NJ could mean anything to your imagination. Nice Jacket. Never Joking. Naked Janet. It could go on…

26. Funky Cold Medina – Tone Loc

Another song that paved the way for watered-down Top 40 hip-hop from folks like Vanilla Ice. This reached #3? My Lord, were we that desperate for a raspy rapper that we fell in love with this one too? There were legendary rap albums being released at this time – Eric B & Rakim’s Follow The Leader, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Jungle Brothers’ Straight Outta The Jungle – but we were enamored with and preferred a guy putting Spanish fly in ladies’ drinks. Then, of course, add in the childish gag of Tone going home with a woman and it turns out to be a MAN. Jesus, I’m not into banning music, but if we’re going to take songs out of the library, make this one of them.

Let’s hope that justice is not napping and the next 15 kick it up a notch.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

It’s Time To Do What We Have To Do

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Before we review the Top 10 from March 13, 1982, I noticed something strange that usually only happens over the Christmas break. 9 out of the 10 songs are in the same position that they were in last week with the only new entry at #7.

 

10. Take It Easy On Me – Little River Band
For 5 straight years between 1978 and 1982, this Australian band placed at least one song in the Top 10. They were one of the most consistently successful artists during that time, but their time was about to run out. Lead singer Glenn Shorrock had just left the band for a solo career and with the band synergy now disrupted, they would post their final Top 40 hit just over a year later in 1983.
9. Leader Of The Band – Dan Fogelberg

Dan wrote this tribute to his dad, Lawrence, a former bandleader. It peaked at #9 just months before Fogelberg Sr. passed away. One of the very few hit songs that praise the dad for once. Now I don’t mean to disparage the man but I often wonder what kind of a guy he was when I hear lines like: “He earned his love through discipline, a thundering velvet hand.” I can’t help but think of that band instructor in Whiplash. Maybe Dan had a few cymbals thrown his way.

Also, this is the second song from The Innocent Age where Dan passive aggressively complains about being a musician. He already bitched about the road being “hell” in Same Old Lang Syne. Now we get the “And I’m in Colorado when I’m not in some hotel living out this life I’ve chose…” as he explains where all the “leader’s” kids live. Living out, like a prison sentence? Boo-hoo, Dan. That reminds me of the old joke – How many hookers can fit into a hotel room? Depends on your album sales.

8. Mirror, Mirror – Diana Ross
Diana has had so many huge smashes that some are gonna get lost in the shuffle. This is one of them, her 2nd Top ten single from Why Do Fools Fall In Love. Diana was finally taking control of her life, leaving Motown and producing her first album on her own. Co-written by former Stevie Wonder guitarist and future maniac Michael Sembello, this is resting at its peak.
7. We Got The Beat – Go-Go’s
Although I prefer Our Lips Are Sealed, I can’t argue that this is the quintessential Go-Gos tune. The original release in 1980 failed to chart in the US, but the re-recorded version made it all the way up to #2 held off by Joan Jett’s I Love Rock N Roll. Which means that in a few weeks the top 2 songs in the US will be by female-led rock bands. That will never happen again.
6. Sweet Dreams – Air Supply
Since we’re talking about consistent Australian acts, Air Supply had a streak of 5 straight Top hits, this being one of them, and placed at least one song in the Top 5 each year from 1980 to 1983. How did they do it? With one fluffy ballad after another, each one lighter than a 3 Musketeers bar. During this time they would occasionally show up on TV as hosts of Solid Gold, which led to this awesome infomercial decades later.
5. That Girl – Stevie Wonder
Stevie had a big 1982 without even releasing a studio album. Along with his monster duet with Paul McCartney, he put out a compilation called Original Musiquarium, Vol. 1 which contained 4 new tracks, including this one which was his biggest soul hit peaking at #1 for 9 weeks. Beginning with a mid-tempo lonely funky beat, and building to a gospel choir chorus of descending half-step Aaahs behind thundering drum fills, there is such a deep sadness that lies beneath this track. You can feel the heartache in his voice as sings “my mind and soul and body needs her.”  and “I’ve been hurting for a long ti-ime.” Many don’t readily think of this song when reviewing his catalog, but for me, it’s always been one of my favorites.
4. Shake It Up – The Cars
The Cars had been leading the way with synth-driven rock since 1977, so they were poised to be leaders of the New Wave in the 80s. Simple, catchy and more commercial than previous, this was their first Top 10 hit from their fourth album of the same name, giving every bartender of the world a theme song.
3. I Love Rock N’ Roll – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
If you don’t know much about Joan Jett, here it goes. She was a member of an all-girl rock group called the Runaways, who had some success in Europe & Asia but not here at home. After 3 albums they broke up in 1979. Joan then left for England to pursue a solo career and recorded a few tracks including a cover of the Arrows’ 1975 glam rock hit, I Love Rock N Roll with Steve Cook & Paul Jones, late of the Sex Pistols. For some reason, she did not put it on her solo debut in 1980. When she formed the band, The Blackhearts, she re-recorded ILRNR with them and put it on the new album, which was half covers, half originals. It was the first released single and it shot up to the top staying at #1 for 7 weeks. The song is also in the Grammy Hall of Fame because no one can deny that it kicks ass.
2. Open Arms – Journey
Journey has never had a #1 pop song. [And a collective wedding party sighed.] This is as close as they would come as it peaked at #2 for 6 weeks. Written by Jonathan Cain as a member of the Babys, he would finish it with Steve Perry when he joined Journey. No one in either of those bands cared for it much, but Steve said: “I’ll sing the shit out of it and every prom from coast to coast will play it next year.” Sure enough, he was right. No one complained about cashing those checks, except maybe John Waite, who didn’t get one.
1. Centerfold – The J. Geils Band (6 wks at #1)

The lead single from Freeze Frame is finishing off its last week of a 6 week run at #1. The band had finally reached massive mainstream success, only to have everything begin to fall apart. After a follow-up live album, Peter Wolf left the band for a solo career which he maintains to this day. The band put out one more studio album in 1984 and then broke up, never to record again.

I can’t help thinking of this song without imagining my shaky ass roller skating in circles to it. I got a sweet pair of royal blue leather skates with a red and white stripe that Christmas and would look forward to Saturday afternoons, where I would go to the Levittown Arena and skate with my cousins. When this song came on, I made sure I was out there waiting for the 1-2-3-4, pretending I was drumming into a snare full of milk. Then I’d usually fall, but I didn’t care. I was hoping we’d finish up with a Kitchen Sink sundae at nearby Jahn’s Ice Cream parlor.

They closed the arena but part of that building is still there, converted to a Goodwill. I went in there to shop about 15 years ago and in the corner near the dressing rooms, I notice a piece of linoleum that had lifted off. And there it was, lying underneath it – a piece of that warped wood skating floor.

Next week I’ll be thinking about March 1989 with a far off stare and some PTSD.

Say No Go

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If you came here looking for De La Soul, take it up with Tommy Boy. Let’s just continue to assess our confusion during the week of March 13, 1982:
25. Harden My Heart – Quarterflash
Seafood Mama is giving us a double dose with their debut single sliding down the charts from their high of #3. Thankfully they changed their band name which reflects an old Australian saying they overheard their produced John Boylan (Little River Band) mention –  “Quarter flash, three-quarters foolish.”
24. Daddy’s Home – Cliff Richard
A man with tons of hits in the UK trying to hold on to his foothold here with a “live” version of an oft-covered Shep & the Limeliters tune. What did I say about Sister Sledge and My Guy? Same applies here. Don’t need your creepy version, Cliff.
23. Do You Believe In Love – Huey Lewis And The News
Here’s another band in the countdown with a connection to Clover. [Former member, Alex Call wrote Tommy Tutone’s hit.] This song started out as We Both Believe In Love released by a band called Supercharge in 1979. The writer, Mutt Lange, rewrote it and offered it to the News and it became their first Top 40 hit.
22. Take Off – Bob & Doug McKenzie
The third Canadian artist on the countdown – we have reached peak Canuck here. SCTV comedians Dave Thomas & Rick Moranis do their McKenzie brothers schtick [blah blah blah, eh?, you hoser] along with Rush frontman Geddy Lee singing the vocals. Now I know where Jack Black got his thing from. In fact, Take Off sounds a lot like this.
21. Tonight I’m Yours – Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart kept on having hits through the 80s ripping through genres like the Children of the Corn. He had just massacred disco when he decided to annihilate New Wave with Top 20 songs that only his hardcore fans and financial manager remember.

20. I Can’t Go For That – Daryl Hall & John Oates

Being twice as nice. Repeating the same old lines. That.

Things Daryl Hall doesn’t go for!

Congratulations you just won the $20,000 Pyramid. Man, that Dick Van Patten was always a good partner.

19. Should I Do It – The Pointer Sisters
The Pointer Sisters had recorded Country music before, such as the hit Fairytale in 1974, which was covered by Elvis but had mostly crossed over to soulful soft rock by the 1980s. So when they recorded this in 1981, this should have been pushed at Country radio. But Tanya Tucker recorded an even more countrified version and bombed it. So Tanya…no you shouldn’t.
18. Chariots Of Fire – Vangelis
The ultimate playground song in 1982.  We would hear it and do it everything in super slow motion. I’m even typing this at half-speed.
How did Vangelis (hard or soft G, depending on if you give a damn) have a #1 hit with this? How did we collectively as a nation decide this was better than the Go-Gos or Joan Jett? Outside of little kids and their grandmas, how many people walked into Record World and said: “Damn, I gotta get that 45 and crank that up when I get home?” What a trainwreck that must have been for radio DJs. You would definitely have to do a station ID before and after you play it and hope that anyone listening in their cars didn’t fall asleep and crash. Or you could play it into the #12 song. Or…
17. Make A Move On Me – Olivia Newton-John
The mullet may be have been saying no, but everything else was saying yes. Liv’s second horny single from the Physical LP to make the Top 5 was written by Tom Snow and her longtime collaborator and producer, John Farrar.
16. Key Largo – Bertie Higgins
OWH – I find this song greatly annoying which means it’s perfect for karaoke [PFK]. Trust me if you do karaoke with any other intention rather than to annoy everyone in that bar you’re not doing it right.
But let’s set another thing straight. Bertie Higgins has never seen Key Largo. This song sounds like it was written after falling asleep in front of the TV after a two-day bender of Schlitz and coke. First of all Bogie & Bacall had nothing going on in this movie except trying to foil a bunch of robbers together as Bacall was married to Lionel Barrymore. Yes, B&B were married in real life, but man old Humph was on wife #4 so it wasn’t the romance of a lifetime. And “Here’s looking at you, kid.” was a quote from Casablanca which starred Bogart but not Bacall. You’re mixing up your movie references, Bert. Might as well have thrown in some Gone With The Wind quotes in there.
15. Love In The First Degree – Alabama
And the winner for best country group is….Alabama! Sound familiar? It feels like they were the only country group around for like 20 years winning every award tossed their way. They only had a handful of pop hits in the early 80s with this one as their biggest before they disappeared, only to show up again in the late 90s as everyone was riding shotgun on the Shania Twain.
14. Bobbie Sue – Oak Ridge Boys
NAOWH & PFK – cause if you want to annoy a crowd, there’s nothing like a low register Bah-Bah, Bah-Bah, Ba-ah-bee See-ew to get a bunch of bottles thrown at you. That’s if you’re doing it right.
13. Through The Years – Kenny Rogers
Oh Jesus, the early 80s country trifecta. Video did not kill the radio star. It was sappy milquetoast bullshit like this that did.
Little Bobby: Woolworths is having a sale, Grandma. Three 45s for a $1.
Bobby’s grandma: How splendid. I’ll buy the new Kenny Rogers and that song by Vanjellis. You can pick out one for yourself, Bobby.
12. Pac-Man Fever – Buckner and Garcia
Bobby’s choice. I understand that arcades were big business in 1982 and that Pac-Man was mass marketed to us kids from watches to cereal to a Saturday morning cartoon. But this song blows Blinkey. If anything it’s a time capsule to show how lost we were during the Reagan years. BTW – I have fun insisting to Deadheads that the Garcia in this song was Jerry.
11. Spirits In The Material World – The Police
Ok, we’re back. Thank God. Sting wrote this on a Casio. That sounds like a joke but when Sting does it, it gonna sound good. The song completely drowns out guitarist Andy Summers mostly on purpose and unfortunately, it would be the first of many small rifts that would precipitate their breakup two years later. Now that I think of it, this song might be a better representation of the Reagan reign.
Rock over New York. Rock over London. We’ll be back with the Top 10 soon.
KEY
OWH – One Hit wonder
NAOWH – Not a one hit wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke

It’s Time You Got The News

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How did we deal with Ted Koppel interviewing Yasser Arafat on Nightline while all the planets lined up on the same side of the sun? By checking out and tuning in to this Top 40 countdown from March 13, 1982.

40. Find Another Fool – Quarterflash
We start off with the second single from Quarterflash’s debut as it enters the Top 40 as the first single still hangs on, The husband & wife team of Marv & Rindy Ross, who plays a mean sax, put the Portland, OR music scene on the map decades before Portlandia.
39. Don’t Let Him Know – Prism
OWH – Prism was part of the Vancouver music scene which gave us Nick Gilder, The Headpins & Bryan Adams. In fact, this was the first song written by Bryan and his partner Jim Vallance to hit the US Top 40.
38. 867-5309/Jenny – Tommy Tutone
NAOWH – but might as well have been. Very few remember their first Top 40 in 1980, Angel Say No, but lots of folks know this one which hit the Top 5. Per songwriter Alex Call, late of the band Clover, he says there was no Jenny, the number was made up and never written on a bathroom wall. Of course, until this song came out….
37. On The Way To The Sky – Neil Diamond
In 1982 Neil was still churning out the hits, this one co-written with Carole Bayer Sager, reaching #27. Sandwiched in between Tommy Tutone & Rick Springfield you can hear how out of date Neil was, but he rode that train until it derailed.
36. Don’t Talk To Strangers – Rick Springfield
For a guy who had been playing music since the late 60s and had his first Top 40 in 1972, Rick certainly was a hot commodity in the early 80s. This track was almost his 2nd #1, held back at #2 for a full month by Ebony & Ivory. Just to let you know how big the latter song was – Rick climbed all the way up to #6 before E&I hit the Hop 100 and Paul & Stevie still kept him out of #1.
35. Juke Box Hero – Foreigner
Foreigner is not known for creating works of lyrical poetry, but Lou Gramm’s high drama yowls made it seem that way. So of course, they are making a musical out of it. Though I’m confused at how our “hero” can pass his shadow during a large downpour. Gotta check with Jim Cantore but I don’t think that’s possible.
34. Tell Me Tomorrow – Smokey Robinson
Smokey is the man. Smokey is Motown. He made that company happen and he could do it all – sing, dance, write songs, loan money. In my mind – No Smokey. No Motown. End of story. There’s a Motown cover later in this countdown. Guess who wrote it?
33. I Believe – Chilliwack
NAOHW – Another band that came out of the Vancouver scene in the early 70s finally broke through South of their border in late 1981. This was their 2nd and final Top 40 hit from Wanna Be A Star. And it’s fun to say their name out loud before you slap someone.
32. My Guy – Sister Sledge
Both of their Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards-produced LPs are some of the best of that era , but it was hard for the Sledge sisters to stay relevant post-disco. And now left to their own devices, we have this – a Mary Wells cover, which is unnecessary and uninspired.
31. Edge Of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
John Lennon’s death shocked the world in December 1980 and also inspired many musical tributes, but I had never realized that this was one of them. I always thought it was a song about Stevie taking some younger kid’s virginity. My bad. Also the first of two Stevie’s on the countdown.
30. (Oh) Pretty Woman – Van Halen
If all you knew of Van Halen were their Top 40 singles, you would have thought their shtick was to record metal versions of 60s classics. After tackling the Kinks, they turned their attention onto this Roy Orbison standard before setting their sights on revamping some Martha & the Vandellas.
29. Freeze-Frame – The J. Geils Band
Who would have thought the hottest artist of 1982 would be the J. Geils Band. This Boston bar band had been playing for almost 15 years with moderate success and the occasional radio hit before they blew up with the Freeze Frame LP. This is the 2nd released single from that album with the other one still to come. BTW if you were wondering, their lead singer was Peter Wolf and J. Geils was the guitarist.
28. One Hundred Ways – Quincy Jones
A tastefully well-done song sung by Quincy’s new “discovery” James Ingram, who we lost earlier this year. James was paid $50 to sing on a demo of a new song by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil called Just Once. When the tape fell into Quincy’s hands, he called James in to sing it for real on his new album The Dude, along with this track which would win a Grammy for Best R&B vocal. James hit the Top 40 multiple times but always in colloboration with someone. His solo hit was the #1 single, I Don’t Have The Heart in 1990.
27. When All Is Said And Done – Abba
The perfect ending to a 10-year career as this was ABBA’s last Top 40 hit peaking at #27 from their final studio album, The Visitors. The song was primarliy inspired by the breakup of Benny & Frida with the working title of Don’t Shit Where You Eat.
26. Call Me – Skyy
Not a lot of soul on the countdown thus far, but the 63-piece band Skyy is here to represent. [Actually there are just 8 of them, but that still seems like too much.] Led by the trio of singing Dunning sisters, this S.O.S.-band-ish outfit took this up to #1 on the soul charts. It only peaked at #26 on the Top 40 but was a rare 80s hit for the Salsoul record label.
More to come….

Most Peculiar Mama

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Strange days indeed, but a fairly solid top 20 for this countdown of March 10, 1984, with most of these songs a great representation of 1980s music.

19. Kool & The Gang – Joanna

This was Kool & the Gang’s biggest hit after Celebration, peaking at #2 and kept off the top of the mountain by Culture Club. So who is Joanna? Who knows? It was actually written about one of the band member’s mom and since Toto had a #2 with Rosanna, they figured they could have a #2 hit as well. Anyone wanna try Susanna?

18. Billy Joel – An Innocent Man

An Innocent Man, the album, was a tribute to songs and artists from Billy’s youth. An Innocent Man, the song, was a tribute to folks like Ben E. King from the Drifters and was Billy’s 3rd straight Top 10 from his LP.  I sure wish they would replace The Longest Time on oldies stations with this one.

17. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Adult Education

Daryl wasn’t sure which was the correct pronunciation of adult so it sang it both ways – ah-dult & uh-dult. Were we supposed to tell him which one was right?

16. Dan Fogelberg – The Language Of Love

Danny, you’re out of your element.

15. Pointer Sisters – Automatic

Ruth Pointer does her best Barry White impression on this Top 5 smash co-written by Mark Goldenberg formerly of the Cretones, from their album Break Out, which they certainly did.

14. Christine McVie – Got A Hold On Me

Another member of Fleetwood Mac got to join the solo party. This was actually Christine’s 2nd solo album, but the first released under her married name of Christine McVie. With backing vocals & synth work by Steve Winwood, this track sailed up to #10 and #1 on the AC charts.

13. Shannon – Let The Music Play

OHW – No No No Nooooo…..and her only Top 40 hit reached #8, with the distinction of being a great song to club or breakdance to.

12. Duran Duran – New Moon On Monday

My least favorite DD song, if you must know. Just doesn’t do it for me, not enough John Taylor funk. But I think at this point DD could have released a recording of them farting in a box and it would have made the Top 10.

11. The Police – Wrapped Around Your Finger

The last hit for the Police was another Top 10 single from Synchronicity, but all I can think of when I hear this song is who is going to clean up all that wax?

10. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon

I’m a man who doesn’t know how to sell the contradiction.” Oh, that cheeky George. This was a Culture Club’s only #1 hit and you can tell by listening to the way it was produced it was made for pop radio – short, succinct, catchy. The video is hysterical as it’s supposed to take place in Mississippi in the late 1800s so while everyone is costumed for that time period George is still Boy George. Plus later in the video, you can see parts of London’s tall buildings in the distance. Nice job, editor.

Fun fact – James Taylor sued them for plagiarism because he said they ripped off his song Handy Man…which he himself didn’t write.

9. Kenny Loggins – Footloose

People like to talk about the split personalities of Kenny Loggins: Movie Kenny and Yacht Rock Kenny. But there wouldn’t be a Movie Kenny, if it weren’t for Yacht Rock Kenny. And Yacht Rock Kenny couldn’t keep going without Movie Kenny. Movie Kenny is at the height of his powers with this #1 track, which means in 1985 everyone will get some Yacht Rock Kenny.

8. Eurythmics – Here Comes The Rain Again

Annie Lennox – it’s so amazing when true talent breaks through. And Dave’s no slouch either. But what sells this band for me is hearing Annie’s voice – moody, ethereal, bluesy – like a dream that you don’t want to wake from. The lead single from the Eurythmics 3rd album, Touch, climbed up to #4 and proved that this duo was far from a new wave fad and more of a talented force to be reckoned with.

7. Huey Lewis & The News – I Want A New Drug

According to Huey Lewis, this was the original version of Ghostbusters and he let the courts know it. Perfect song for Yuppies to misinterpret.

6. John Lennon – Nobody Told Me

Recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions but left off the final album, this was eventually rediscovered by Yoko when she compiled Milk & Honey, an album of mostly finished tracks John had recorded in 1980. I wonder whether this would have been a hit had John still been alive. Then again would he have released it, buried it, or changed it so significantly that it wasn’t any good? Maybe we just wanted to hear John’s voice on the radio one more time, which might explain Julian’s success later in the year.

5. Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

Ken Gordy is climbing the charts. Actually, the son of Berry Gordy didn’t want anyone to think his dad gave him a job (even though he did). So he changed his name and hired the most famous singer in the world to sing the chorus. Rockwell followed this slab of paranoia with an obsession over an obscene phone caller.  His later release, Why Is This Water Wet? did not chart.

4. Michael Jackson – Thriller

We have back-to-back perennial Halloween classics with Michael Jackson vocals, peaking in early March, at least for their first go-round. This was the 7th Top 10 hit from the LP, Thriller, which had been released 68 weeks prior to this countdown.

3. Nena – 99 Luftballons

The Berlin band, Nena was the most popular German artist in America during its jingoistic heyday and on the Top 40, this song reached #2. Although if your red-white-and-blue-Chevy-truck-driving machismo couldn’t handle it, you could flip the 45 over to hear the English version called 99 Red Balloons. FYI – Luft is not German for red.

2. Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Want To Have Fun

It’s hard to believe that Cyndi was in her early 30’s when she released her debut album, but she had been working at it for a long time. This track would stay at #2 behind Van Halen but has endured as a pop classic for all time. Turn this on if you want to see every woman in the room start dancing. Quite funny for a song written by a guy (Robert Hazard). In the video Cyndi’s mom is played by her real mom, Catrine and her boyfriend in the tux is Steve Forbert, trying to bring her some Southern kisses to her room.

1. Van Halen – Jump (3rd Week at #1)

Eddie buys a new Oberheim synth and voila! – peak Van Halen. Their only #1 hit and it was all downhill from here. In one year’s time, we’d be putting up with David Lee Roth’s Vegas act and then settling for new vocalist Sammy Hagar, which relieved all creative tension within the band and thus all interesting aspects of their music and performance.

Did Edwin Moses use this song as motivation for his gold medals? Or did he wait on the Pointer Sisters? Regardless we can all agree that Roth was an innovator when it came to yoga pants.

Is This Message Understood?

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The numbers trickle down and your taxes go higher. Let’s continue reviewing the Top 40 from March 10, 1984:

29. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Runner

This is a cover of an Ian Thomas song from an album that also had the original version of Hold On, a hit by Santana. It should have been peaking on the charts during July & August while the Summer Olympics were in full swing in Los Angeles minus the Russians. So I’m calling it (gunshot) – False Start!

28. .38 Special – Back Where You Belong

It’s NRA’s favorite band. But seriously, .38 Special did fill a niche in the 80s as there was almost no Southern rock on the charts anymore. A straight-up pop-rocker with barely any roots showing it was their 3rd Top 20 hit.

27. Culture Club – Miss Me Blind

The first of two CC hits on the countdown. I think this was a band that MTV hurt rather than helped. Boy George’s image was so strong and recognizable, it overshadowed the fact that they were a talented pop group with a knack for catchy songs with George’s smooth soulful vocals like sweet icing on the cake.

26. Re-Flex- The Politics Of Dancing

The politicians are now DJs.” Thankfully, no. Would anyone want to hear the Mondale & Ferraro morning zoo each weekday at 7 AM? Most people would never get out of bed. I digress, a great new wave dance song.

25. Sheena Easton – Almost Over You

At the beginning of 1984, Sheena was still pining away for a lost love. By the end of the year, she reinvented herself and was strutting around, calling the shots, and stomping all over the dude with her high heels.

24. Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now

By their 3rd album, Into the Gap, the Thompson Twins found the perfect balance of humanity and warmth within synthesized music, resulting in their biggest hit. And it’s got some killer xylophone.

23. Kenny Rogers – This Woman

There was a major backlash against the name Bee Gees in the 80s, but not so for the music. Because the Gibbs continued turning out great tunes with their signature sound for other artists and still had hits, such as this one, the follow-up to Islands In The Stream, which is sitting at its peak of #23.

22. Genesis – That’s All

Phil got his first Top 10 in early 1983 with You Can’t Hurry Love which probably helped Genesis get their first one a year later. Philgenecollinsis is spreading!

21. James Ingram (with Michael McDonald) – Yah Mo B There

I don’t care for exclusivity in the term “yacht rock” [it’s actually called Westcoast music all around the world], but if I had to pick a song to explain YR to someone, this would be it. This Grammy-winning track produced by Quincy Jones and co-written by Q & Rod Temperton is at once funky and smooth, where Ingram’s wolf-like howl pairs beautifully with McDonald’s gruff tenor. A gem off of Ingram’s excellent It’s Your Night LP

20. KC – Give It Up

Let’s not mince words – disco music died off in the US in the early 80s because of two factors – homophobia/racism or the fact that some of the artists partied too hard and burned themselves out. KC & the Sunshine Band, as well as 99% of the other disco artists, fell victim to the former. Even though KC saw the writing on the wall and recorded two ballads – Please Don’t Go & Yes, I’m Ready with Teri Desario – which hit #1 & #2, respectively as the 80s decade dawned, the mere name of his band closed the doors to any further radio airplay, even as the band continued to make good but not outstanding albums. Also, KC was in a bad car accident in 1981 and had to rehab for 6 months learning how to walk and play keyboards again.

KC’s third album of the 1980s, All In A Night’s Work dropped in 1982 and featured Give It Up which became a #1 hit in the UK in the Summer of 1983. When Epic Records refused to release it stateside, KC left the label, released it himself and it became a Top 20 hit.

Does the rest of the countdown prep up for more Olympic jams? Or will it revel in its own jingoism? Check back later this week to find out.

Give Your Free Will A Chance

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For all of you folks born on March 10, 1984, Happy 35th Birthday. These are the songs that “we” collectively agreed were the most popular that week:

40. Wang Chung – Don’t Let Go

The band formerly known as Huang Chung released an album in 1982. When they released how stupid that name was they changed it to…Wang Chung. Their 2nd single from Points on The Curve was this one and it became their first Top 40 single reaching #38.

39. Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart

Much better than an owner of a broken heart, so saith Yes, grammatical errors and all. But is it really much better to be alone than to have lost and lost? The verses say no but the chorus says yes. Ha ha ha…now go jump off a building.

38. Dwight Twilley – Girls

NAOHW …and Twilley don’t mind. Cause he traded in his old partner, Phil Seymour for a new friend named Tom Petty who helps out on the chorus with Dwight, probably a factor in it reaching #16. Now when was the last time you heard this one on the radio?

37. Lionel Richie – Hello

From the Grammy-winning Album of the Year, Can’t Slow Down, this track was one of 5 Top 10 singles that the album spawned, and one of two #1s. Considering that the album spent the entire year of 1984 in the Top 10, this should have been as big as Thriller was. But unfortunately, his videos weren’t as good as Michael’s and so all we remember are ones like Hello where some blind chick makes a clay bust of Lionel that looks more like Ron Perlman in his Beast makeup.

36. The Romantics – Talking In Your Sleep

It took four albums for The Romantics to finally have a Top 40 hit with this track which was sliding down from its #3 peak, though What I Like About You has endured a lot longer. [and that only reached #49…what the hell?] This song is packed tight like four guys in black leather suits and was produced by Pete Solley, a former member of Procol Harum & Whitesnake (nice resume).

35. Queen – Radio Ga-Ga

The last original US Top 40 song for Queen, which just isn’t right. It’s the first US hit written by Roger Taylor, so finally, each member of the band had written a Top 40 hit.

34. Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)

This week as Genesis is coming down Phil is going up. And when he hit #1 the floodgates opened and the hits didn’t stop for another 10 years. First Phil then Genesis. Then Genesis then Phil. Until they morphed into Philgenecollinsis, which everyone ran to get a vaccine for. By the way, I’m sure that Phil’s divorce to his first wife was painful, but kudos to him for wringing a bunch of hits out of it.

33. Olivia Newton-John – Livin’ In Desperate Times

ONJ was riding those pop charts hard in the late 70s and early 80s, but here is where you can start to see the wheels coming off. This cocaine jitter of a song was the second release from the soundtrack to the movie, Grease Two (of A Kind), which kept Travolta in his professional freefall but dragged poor Sandy down with him. [Should have talked the family into staying in Australia.]

32. Paul Young – Come Back And Stay

Between MTV and our second British Invasion, there were a lot of Brits making the pop chart in the 80s. We’re at #32 and this is Brit #5 – newcomer Paul Young, not to be confused with Sad Cafe’s Paul Young, who would eventually be Mike & The Mechanics’ Paul Young.

31. Howard Jones – New Song

I have always been a big Howard Jones fan. Although he’s had some success in the U.S. I felt that his songwriting took a critical hit because he was a synth artist. Now isn’t everyone these days? [Don’t know if that’s good, though]. Also not sure why Peter Gabriel didn’t try to get a cut from this one.

30. Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together

The comeback story of Tina Turner in 1984 is the best one in rock history as far as I’m concerned. Imagine having a big career in R&B music, and then forced to risk everything, having to leave a very abusive relationship, and start completely over with nothing to your name. Then imagine trying to reinvent yourself as an African-American woman in rock. It was a long road of eight years after she left Ike, but she got her first Top 40 hit with her melancholy cover of Al Green’s classic sprinkled with just enough new wave flourishes, provided by Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, to sound modern. She’ll finish the decade with eleven more Top 40 hits and the title of biggest bad-ass.

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