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 Sandwiched in between Tommy Tutone & Rick Springfield you can hear how out of date Neil was, but he rode that train until it derailed.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….