The Ultimate Test of Cerebral Fitness

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Get your kicks above the waistline, sunshine? Then enjoy the Top 20 from April 20th, 1985.

20. Don’t Come Around Here No More – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

RFW – Another Wikipedia rip off, this one from Mark Goodman who tells the story of how the song title came to producer Dave Stewart. [I am tempted to look ahead and make up a bullshit story for an upcoming countdown song just to see if they’ll read it on air.]

This is one of Tom’s most recognized songs even though it only reached #13, possibly because his Alice In Wonderland-themed video was played non-stop on MTV. It also raised the bar for Tom to come up with more creative videos, but then he shrugged and did what he wanted anyway.

19. Everything She Wants – Wham!

And now you tell me that you’re having my baby. I’ll tell you that I’m happy if you want me to.” Wow, that must have been a fun Sonogram appointment.

The young guns of Wham! grow up and turn into what they warned against – a working-class slave with a money-sucking girlfriend and a baby on the way. I wish Kanye would do an update on this song. [oh yeah, he did – Ed.] Wham! was a pretty dark pop group.

So to recap George would like you to wake him and go dancing, then his cheatin’ ass guilty feet lose their rhythm and now he’s knocked someone up and he’s trapped. Soon he will be begging for his un-freedom.

18. Somebody – Bryan Adams

The 2nd single from Adams’ Reckless LP didn’t hint at the juggernaut it would become, but it would eventually yield 6 Top 20 hits. Somebody is sliding down from its #11 peak.

17. That Was Yesterday – Foreigner

Foreigner was still trading on their new found sensitivity with this pep talk pop song. I give Foreigner a hard time, but maybe a song like this is where all the build a wall talk started.

16. Smooth Operator – Sade

It took almost a year for the band to break in the US with their debut, Diamond Life but their single & video for Smooth Operator which showcased the band’s exotic jazzy sound made it into the Top 5. I was memorized by this band in 1985 and have been a fan for life. They can do so much with simple sultry grooves and Sade Adu’s smoky voice is one-of-a-kind.

15. Lover Girl – Teena Marie

NAOWH – Lady T had lots of R&B hits but aside from 1981’s I Need Your Lovin’, this was her only other crossover hit falling down from its height of #4. It’s a song that benefits from Prince’s early decade pop breakthrough while adding a new female dimension to 80s funk.

14. Along Comes A Woman – Chicago

At least it finally features some horns.

13. Material Girl – Madonna

Ever wonder what Chic would sound like with Madonna on lead vocals? Look no further than this funk rock track written by Peter “Do Ya Wanna Get Funky Me” Brown and features Tony Thompson on drums, Bernard Edwards on bass and Nile Rodgers on guitar and keys. Play this back to back with #19 for ultimate 80s greed experience.

12. Some Like It Hot – The Power Station

‘Nard & Tony are back to back on the countdown and who could have predicted that after the Disco Sucks movement 6 years previous. But you can’t keep good talent down which is why this Duran Duran offshoot formed a band with their idols – Nard is producing, Tony hits the hell out of his drums and Robert Palmer preaches.

Also funny how the Material Girl video had Madonna paying tribute to Marilyn Monroe’s Gentlemen Prefers Blondes while this Top 10 Power Station track is a 1959 film she co-starred in with Tony Curtis & Jack Lemmon.

11. All She Wants To Do Is Dance – Don Henley

The intersection of Westcoast and synth rock. The second Top 10 song from his Building The Perfect Beat LP  has Toto’s David Paich & Jeff Porcaro programming the Yamaha DX7 and punchy synth drums respectively while Don predictably talks down to a woman who’s not as interested in politics as he is.

10. Missing You – Diana Ross

On April 4th, 1984, Marvin Gaye was shot dead by his father. One year later we had two tributes to him in our Top 10 by current and former Motown artists. The first one was from the Boss whose touching song was recorded a few months after Marvin died and was written by Lionel Richie.

9. One Night In Bangkok – Murray Head

NAOHW – Have you ever been to Thailand? I haven’t, but I heard it’s beautiful – the scenery, the culture, the language, the food. So you gotta have a lot of balls to write a song about a chess championship classing up an entire country, as if those nerds even left their hotel. And Benny & Bjorn from ABBA along with Tim Rice decided to write an entire musical about it. What made us as a nation think on May 18th, 1985 that this was the third best song in the country?

8. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds

Simple Minds had recorded six albums by 1985 with no crossover to the US charts whatsoever. It took the theme to a John Hughes movie called The Breakfast Club, which the band reportedly hated, to finally garner them some stateside success. They would ride out the momentum for one album before they disappeared from the charts again.

7. Obsession – Animotion

The 1983 box office bomb, A Night In Heaven, would unwittingly spawn two big hits in 1985. Bryan Adams’ song Heaven was originally written & recorded for that soundtrack and would hit #1 in June 1985. The original recording of Obsession written and sung by Holly Knight & Michael DesBarres made its first appearance as well.  Animotion covered it and is one notch away from its zenith of #6.

6. I’m On Fire – Bruce Springsteen

This was the third different song with the same title of I’m On Fire to reach the Top 40. Bruce (aka The Boss #2) does his best Johnny Cash in San Quentin imitations. You can interpret the lyrics how you’d like but I always imagined this song as sung by a serial killer in prison who’s tormented nightly by what he’s done.

5. Rhythm Of The Night – Debarge

Finally a top 10 for the family of Debarges from a Motown-produced movie called The Last Dragon. You remember that one, don’t you? It’s the movie Vanity decided to star in after pulling out of Purple Rain.

4. One More Night – Phil Collins

The first of three #1s in 1985 for good ol’ Phillibuster. If you even remotely like any of his music, I would highly recommend his autobiography, Not Dead Yet. This guy never stopped working until he actually retired and in the meantime recorded with everybody. I wish I knew what a workaholic he was. I might have been able to have him play on one of my albums. Or maybe he did and I forgot.

3. Nightshift – Commodores

The second Marvin Gaye eulogy and the most popular one this week also crams in a bit about Jackie Wilson too. This was the only Top 40 hit for the Lionel-less Commodores. Come to think of it, why is it that the Commodores past and current members are the only ones honoring Marvin Gaye?

Robin Thicke was 8 years old at the time.

2. Crazy For You – Madonna

As Material Girl slides down the charts, this ballad from the Visionquest soundtrack, another 80s non-classic, inches up to #2. It will sit there for a few more weeks before its charity runs out and knocks off…

1. We Are The World – USA For Africa (2 Wks at 1)

OHW (sorry)  – What started out as an idea by Harry Belafonte to have a slew of R&B artists put on a concert in Africa to raise money for Ethiopians devasted by a countrywide drought and famine morphed into the most successful charity single of all time. How many other #1 songs feature Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Dan Aykroyd?

It was also one of two #1 hits written by Lionel Richie in 1985.

BTW – this was rerecorded for Haitian relief in 2010. It is horrible. I can’t believe I even brought it up. Please do not listen to it. Just give money here instead.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

Clinging to the Things We Prize

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What were you doing during the week of April 20th, 1985? Well if you were like me, you were giving New Coke a try and then immediately spitting it out. I’ve written about some of that Summer before, so instead let’s check out the first half of this week’s Top 40.

40. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina And The Waves

Katrina Leskanich was born in Kansas but moved around a lot when she was younger eventually settling in England when she was 16. It was there where she formed the band Mama’s Cookin’ which eventually morphed into a new incarnation of The Waves when former Soft Boys guitarist Kimberly Rew joined the band. They would end recording the happiest most upbeat pop song of the decade.

Alan Hunter [AH] talks about a story tying this song to Hurricane Katrina which seemed weird until I realized it was “ripped from Wikipedia“, which will now be known as RFW.

39. Celebrate Youth – Rick Springfield

After Rick’s attempt as meshing movies and music in 1984 with the film Hard to Hold, his followup Tao saw his star slip a bit and while it didn’t generate much in terms of sales it did receive positive crictical resposne. [Don’t all musicians prefer money over someone telling them how good they are?] This introspective new wave-flavored LP did spawn two Top 40 hits, this one peaking at #26.

38. One Lonely Night – REO Speedwagon

REO’s first of two on the chart, this one released as the 3rd single from Wheels Are Turnin’ and as the followup to their monster smash Can’t Fight This Feelin’. Although this hit #19, I’ll be damned if I can find anyone who remembers it.

AH mentions that the video probably propelled it to a higher spot than it should have reached [Nice backhanded compliment.] I watched MTV like a fiend that year and again, can’t recall it. Maybe I just changed the channel every time it came on cause the video blows.

37. Things Can Only Get Better – Howard Jones

HoJo kicked it up a notch with his 2nd release, Dream Into Action, an album jam packed with great synth pop songs. The video for this Top 5 hit featured Howard getting ready for a performance with a Charlie Chaplin lookalike and Numchucks McGee.

36. The Bird – The Time

The Big 80s countdown has had some trouble in the past with this one. I heard one version on a countdown last year that was basically an instrumental or one section that they looped over and over. This week they play the funky album version complete with Morris saying “fuckin'” which I’m sure that Casey never played and Sirius never listened to ahead of time.

35. Just A Gigolo/ I Ain’t Got Nobody – David Lee Roth

PFK – Vegas Lee Roth tries to do his best Louis Prima imitation with a song that was over 60 years old at the time he recorded it and was once in a Betty Boop cartoon. Its success convinced Roth that he was much better off without Van Halen, so he fianlly made it official.

As a youngster, I thought this video was hilarious. Now as I watch it, I can’t believe how completely sexist and infantile it is. The premise is that Dave hosts Dave TV which is supposed to be a parody of MTV. He thinks the videos which include his own California Girls are inferior to what he can come up with in his dirty litle creative mind. So Dave, dressed up like a spandex Mork, stumbles onto “video sets’ by Michael Jackson, Billy Idol & Cyndi Lauper and upstages those stars. I would love to record a version of this song just so I can parody Dave and his “Panama” swords.

34. Fresh – Kool & The Gang

Kool & the Gang made a big move away from their signature jazzy horn sound with this slick synthy dance track, which dragged the hip-hop slang for great into the mainstream although many years after it was cool. I guess if they sang She’s Def many folks would have thought she was hard of hearing.

33. Vox Humana – Kenny Loggins

Westcoast Kenny! The title track from his 1985 album was a collaboration between he & the Pointer Sisters and snuck into the Top 30 before disappearing from history.

32. Too Late For Goodbyes – Julian Lennon

Maybe Julian wasn’t as lyrically proficient as his dad, but he could still write some catchy pop tunes. His debut, Valotte, yielded three Top 40s with two of them landing in the Top 10, this being the second.

31. High On You – Survivor

How did Survivor have any sort of career recording shitty songs like this? A kid in the throws of puberty could write deeper lyrics than this. And ladies, if someone is begging for your touch in the middle of the street, run as fast as you can!

30. Axel F – Harold Faltermeyer

OHW – From the juggernaut Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, this instrumental theme [and free ad for the Roland Jupiter-8] named after Eddie Murphy’s character was a hit on the pop, dance, soul and AC charts. Actually 1985 featured a lot of white acts crossing over to the Soul chart such as Sting and Wham!,

29. Suddenly – Billy Ocean

Billy applies for a license to chill with the title track from his 1984 LP. This ballad would be his third straight Top 5 on its way to #4.

28. Radioactive – The Firm

OHW – Nothing signifies 80s corporate rock than a band called The Firm. Their only Top 40 song features a muted Jimmy Page and lead vocals by Paul Rodgers who applies the same banality to this track as he has done during his career with Bad Company.

27. Forever Man – Eric Clapton

Now here’s a man trying to fight his way out of becoming a shell of his former self, even though the reverb and methadone keep pushing him down. A surprise Top 30 with a video directed by Godley & Creme with a pipeless Duck Dunn.

Let’s also not forget that Clapton is a big dummy and his racist comments in 1976 inspired people to form the movement Rock Against Racism.

26. Everybody Wants To Rule The World – Tears For Fears

TFF smoothed off the rough edges from their debut, The Hurting and gave us a solid worldwide smash with Songs From the Big Chair. This would be the first of two #1s from that LP and was also used as the theme to Dennis Miller’s HBO talk show in the 90s.

25. Just Another Night – Mick Jagger

You would think that an icon like Mick would have a bigger solo career or at least a more memorable one. That’s mostly due to the fact that the band has always been priority number one when it comes to making music. But in the mid-80s, Mick needed to get away from the boys (and make more money) so he endured a pissed-off Kieth Richards, hired Jeff Beck and made an album that sounds exactly like a aural photocopy of the Rolling Stones.

24. New Attitude – Patti Labelle

More Beverly Hills Cop and the first solo Top 40 hit for Patti, ten years after Lady Marmalade hit #1. Produced by Harold Faltermeyer (that makes two) this song was no doubt playing in many folks’ head as they signed up for aerobics classes to shed off their drug-fueled 70s excess and replace it with 80s shop-til-you-drop narcissism.

23. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon

Man, did Long John Silvers miss a licensing opportunity?

“Cause I can’t fight this feeling anymore.” Tired of boring seafood places? “I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for.” Do you have crustacean frustration? Well, give in to your urges with this 52 pc fish platter with hush puppies. “It’s time to bring this ship into to the shore…” So sail in to your local Long John Silvers and grab a piece of the dock!

22. Rock and Roll Girls – John Fogerty

All this man wanted to do was create good music and make people happy. He succeeded on both counts but in the process he had to deal with unscrupulous managers and ridiculous lawsuits like the one in which he was accused of ripping off his own songs. The guy even had to bring his guitar to court. At least his music endures, esp at baseball games. He had three Top 40 hits including this one from his Centerfield album on which he played all the instruments ala Prince.

21. Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid – Daryl Hall & John Oates

The spiritual cousin to their 1978 hit, It’s a Laugh, whereas in the former a sarcastic Daryl is bitter at a relationship ending, we hear him in this song realizing that maybe a lasting partnership shouldn’t be as open and honest as he once believed. You rarely hear such sad and melancholic songs from this duo, which is maybe why this former Top 20 has been lost to time.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

You’ll Hum This Tune Forever

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This is a good well-rounded Top 20 representation of coming of age in the 80s during the week of Apr 2, 1983, starting with:

20. Pat Benatar – Little Too Late

The third Long Island musician on the countdown (it’s all about threes) is sitting at her peak position of #20. This was Pat’s 8th Top 40 to date, and she had still not had her biggest hits yet. Dumb question – why is she not in the RNR HOF?

19. Christopher Cross – All Right

Chris Cross had a monster debut,  five Grammys, two #1s, and an Oscar. That’s a tough act to follow and build on, but CC delivered a solid sophomore effort in 1983. Even though it didn’t rack in the same awards and albums sold, it still yielded 3 Top 40 hits, starting with one featuring Michael McDonald (who else?) on backing vocals.

18. Eric Clapton – I’ve Got A Rock ‘N’ Roll Heart

Even though this was a Top 20 pop hit and a Top 10 on the AC charts, this one is largely forgotten in his catalog. And with good reason. It doesn’t sound at all like he has a heart, let alone a rock n roll one. It sounds like a man who was forced into alcohol rehab and would soon relapse.

17. Earth, Wind & Fire – Fall In Love With Me

The last EWF Top 40 hit (that makes no sense) was a top 20 hit that is only remembered by hardcore fans, even though it’s built on a thick funky groove. But someone’s got to explain the intro to me. Not only is it too long, but it also builds you up, then some keyboard horn trickery obnoxiously cuts across the intro only to have the beginning softly start over again, totally killing its momentum.

16. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Shame On The Moon

Bob’s here again with a song he took all the way up to #2. With backing vocals by Glenn Frey, this Rodney Crowell tune is also his one and only Top 40 country hit to date, which hit #15.

15. After The Fire – Der Kommissar

OHW – After the Fire started out as a Prog rock band in Britain before turning towards a new wave sound and eventually releasing four unsuccessful albums. They squeezed one more album out before splitting up but it featured a fluke U.S. hit – an American version of the 1982 German rap track written by Falco which was a hit in many European countries. ATF took theirs into the Top 5 before they all ended up slippin’ on the same snow.

Oh and in between Falco and ATF, there was this.

14. Michael Jackson – Beat It

The first of two in the Top 20 for MJ. We all thought this was going to be Off The Wall Part 2 as far as its success was concerned and had no idea what its impact would be. Billie Jean was still at number one while the 3rd single, Beat It was still climbing the charts. By the end of 1983, MJ had tallied 7 Top 10 hits, three of them #1 and was on his way to having the biggest selling non-compilation album of all time.

13. Frida – I Know There’s Something Going On

OHW – Yes, that’s Phil Collins on the drums. How did I know? The gated reverb light was flashing. Phil produced this non-Abba sounding hit written by Russ Ballard, which would be the biggest US solo hit between the Abba ladies.

12. Greg Kihn Band – Jeopardy

When I think of the Greg Kihn Band, I think of the cut-out bin. That’s usually where I’d see his albums, even though he had 3 Top 40 hits. This one was destined for #1 but stalled at #2 when MJ told him to Beat It. Also, this video was made for 5 bucks.

11. Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen

OHW – I remember being in the upstairs of the Woolworth’s in the Sunrise Mall on a Saturday evening and picking up this 45. Maybe we also got a bag of mollies for the aquarium, who knows? I got home, put the 45 on the record player and played it over and over again on the stereo as loud as I could.

Then I remember being allowed to go over to my friend Greg’s house who had an older sister, Ilene. I was so excited to tell him I had that 45 and expected him to agree with me that his sister must love the song too. She found it annoying.

10. Golden Earring – Twilight Zone

NAOHW – From the Dutch band that gave us Radar Love a decade before, here’s their bigger hit, which sits at its peak of #10. Two hits from a Dutch band? That’s what we call in the biz – the double dutch. Wait, what jump rope game?

9. Hall & Oates – One On One

Daryl Hall uses some basketball metaphors to sooth a lady maneater. Does the 12” version mention playing horse or doing the alley-oop? By the way ladies, if “time out is what Daryl is here for”, that means you’ll be lucky to get 60 seconds of loving.

Is this the longest Top 10 title to use only 3 different letters? Someone ask the AT40 crew.

8. Journey – Separate Ways

Time for some air-Jupiter 8 from Jonathan Cain. This was probably their biggest uptempo hit as many of their Top 10 songs were ballads. It’s also amazing how popular the band was in the 80s because they were not a video-friendly outfit.

7. Styx – Mr. Roboto

Speaking of which, here’s another band that was crushed by video. Which is a shame because if you’re going to release back to back concept albums, that should be a perfect compliment to some great or at least entertaining cinema. The song also brought Domo arigato into the pantheon of misunderstood foreign phrases, this one residing in the Asian wing.

6. Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton – We’ve Got Tonight

The third Bob Seger song on the countdown is a cover of Bob’s original found on his Stranger In Town LP which he took into the Top 20 in early 1979.

5. The Pretenders – Back On The Chain Gang

In June 1982, Chrissie Hynde fired the Pretenders bass player, Pete Farndon because he was a drug addict. Two days later their guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died of an overdose. She was also pregnant with her first child and Ray Davies was the father. Out of this chaos and grief and beauty came one of their best and biggest singles.

4. Lionel Richie – You Are

Lionel didn’t totally abandon the funk when he left the Commodores, but this song is an example of him letting his Afro down. So yeah I guess he abandoned the funk. When he knew he could get away with lyrics like You are the sun. You are the rain., then Say You, Say Me was just around the corner.

3. Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf

MTV was making already becoming a big influence on radio and singles sales as the Top 3 songs were heavily played on that channel in 1983. DD got their first hit from their second album Rio (minus the parrots) with an exotic video featuring the band hunting through the jungle searching for the elusive beauty whose juice was like wine. Sure beats Two-Buck Chuck.

2. Culture Club – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me

It’s as almost as if this band was made by, or at least made for MTV, though it took some time for CC to come up with the right song, which was this –  a blue-eyed soul vibe floating on top of a light reggae jam. But the song may not have even received a chance had they not received a last minute invite to fill a spot on UK’s Top of The Pops. Once the image matched up with the song, everyone flipped and a star was born.

1. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean

The kid is not my son. I rest my case.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

 

The Sweetest Melody Is An Unheard Refrain

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What a great mix of Westcoast, New Wave, classic rock and even a little soul during this countdown from April 2, 1983. Let’s dig right in.

40. Kenny Loggins – Welcome To Heartlight

It’s Westcoast Kenny! The original title of this song is Heartlight. But when they released this as a single they didn’t want anyone to get it confused with Neil Diamond’s hit from late 1982. C’mon, what are we, idiots?

39. Phil Collins – I Don’t Care Anymore

Gated reverb anyone? Another Phil solo 45 inspired by his first divorce, the gift that keeps on giving. It’s sitting at its peak this week hanging with his neighbor, Steve-O….

38. Stephen Bishop – It Might Be You

PFK & RAR …who would write a #1 song for Phil from the movie White Nights. Stephen takes a songwriting break but not soundtrack break with this mellow love song from Tootsie.

37. Eddie Rabbitt & Crystal Gayle – You And I

The official slow dance for fifth-grade school dances. It would also be the last time either of these country artists crossed over to the Top 40.

36. OXO – Whirly Girl

OHW – If you weren’t around in 1983, you may think this song was made by the company that sells housewares and cooking supplies. Wait, there’s more. OXO was an actual band of Floridians came up with this name and released an album. Led by former Foxy member Ish Ledesma, Whirly Girl is a goofy little tune written about his wife, Lori, who would eventually have a hit of her own in the band Company B.

This track was featured on a K-Tel ripoff album called Summer Fun Vol. 2, which I played endlessly in 1983. My friends & I would hear this song and laugh our heads off. I have no idea why.

Fun fact – there was a documentary called Frank & Cindy which was filmed over a year’s time by their son documenting their lives together. Frank Garcia was the bass player of OXO.

35. Billy Joel – Allentown

Between the arrogance of Glass Houses and the nostalgia of An Innocent Man, Billy Joel released the underrated The Nylon Curtain. It only spawned two Top 20 hits, so many fans outside of Long Island forget about this. Had he not been ripped off by his brother-in-law in the early 80s, he might have traveled down a more experimental path after this album rather than releasing a highly commercial 60’s rewrite follow-up.

34. Debarge – I Like It

Motown and specifically the Gordy label was already invested in the Debarge family in the late 70s with the band Switch led by Bobby and Tommy Debarge. By the time of Switch’s last LP in 1981, The Debarges as they were called then featuring 5 different siblings, made their debut. With their second album, Debarge finally crossed over with their first pop hit reaching #31.

Teddy Riley paid homage to this song in Rump Shaker, starting with the bit about liking the way you comb your hair. Who combs their hair, except for someone’s balding grandpa?

33. Laura Branigan – Solitaire

If there was a restaurant named Branigan’s, I would dine there all the time, if only to eat alone while they played this song over and over. Another Top 10 for Laura and the first for songwriter Diane Warren who wrote English lyrics to this French song originally recorded by Martine Clémenceau.

32. Men At Work – Down Under

Colin Hay and the gang tumble down the charts back into their fried-out combie from a four-week stay at the top. They were the first Australian act to have a #1 album and single in the US & Australia simultaneously. Not bad for a song and album that were almost 2 years old at the time.

31. Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby, Come To Me

PFK – Speaking of things that take time, this single from Patti Austin’s 1981 album, Every Home Should Have One peaked at #73 in May of 1982, barely making the R&B Top 40. Then General Hospital, the soap opera tastemaker, started playing it while the doctors were cheating on each other in the OR or something, which prompted the record company to re-release it. We collectively got our shit together realizing it was the smooth quiet storm jam that it always was and pushed it up to #1 if for no other reason than to break up the Michael Jackson monopoly. Written by Rod “the Man” Temperton who made it rain on the charts when it came to soulful pop hits.

30. Thompson Twins – Lies

The Twins slimmed down to a trio and had their first hit, which is resting at its peak. For some reason The Big 80s countdown always talks about the album under its British released name, Quick Set & Side Kick rather than just Side Kicks, which proves they just get their copy straight from Wikipedia. Twisted truth and half the news is a great way to sum up the Reagan years.

29. Dan Fogelberg – Make Love Stay

RAR – I liked this song the first time when Dan called it Hard To Say. But I’ll give him credit for hanging on to the charts when he really didn’t belong there.

28. Toto – I Won’t Hold You Back

Toto was riding a lot of momentum into 1983, with their #1 hit Africa and a bunch of Grammys in February 1983 for Toto IV, including Record & Album of the Year. But as their fourth single zooms up the charts, no one could have predicted that this would be their last Top 10 hit.

27. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Even Now

I’m not a Seger fan, but when the man figured out what his audience wanted he worked hard to give it to them over and over. This is first of two Seger singles on the chart. Another artist who constantly found his place in the Top 40 even when the musical trends changed.

26. Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science

OHW – Dolby got hired by Mutt Lange to play keyboards on Foreigner’s 4 LP and made a substantial sum, which he then invested in himself and recorded this song which became a Top 10 smash. Thus begat the credo – When life gives you Urgent, give them Science!

25. ABC – Poison Arrow

This new wave ditty from the Trevor Horn-produced quartet couldn’t make it past the quarter mark. What I thought was fire was only the spark. [maybe if you had the LP, you’d get it] The B-side of this 45 is a jazzy piano version of Poison Arrow called Theme From Mantrap. Also seek out the hour-long movie Mantrap, directed by Julian Temple. And check out this uberhip group of dancers in the club.

24. Prince – Little Red Corvette

The first time Prince hit the Top 40 was with the disco funk of I Wanna Be Your Lover. Now with three more albums behind him with his look and sound perfected and polished comes one of his best singles of all time. Man does this sound great coming out the speakers – a mix of new wave infused soul and catchy pop hooks with a guitar solo that blows everyone else out of the water until he did it again with Let’s Go Crazy. With that said, it still took six months after the release of the 1999 LP before he started breaking big on pop radio.

23. Joe Jackson – Breaking Us In Two

One of my favorite artists of all time. The man was not afraid to experiment and incorporate different styles of music. By 1982 he already had his hand at power pop, rock n reggae, big band and by his fifth album, Night & Day, he slips on a Cole Porter persona generating his biggest success to that date with Steppin’ Out and this track, which reached #18.

22. Stray Cats – Stray Cat Strut

Another Long Island act in Top 40, but these guys had to travel to England before we thought they were money, so money in the U.S. This was from their debut released two years previous and became their biggest hit reaching #3. [You may notice a theme that it took a while for Americans to catch up with good music in the 80s.]

21. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Change Of Heart

A lost Petty hit, if you will, from their fifth album, Long After Dark and the first with new bass player Howie Epstein. It barreled up the charts only to find itself stalling at its highest position this week.

We’re at the halfway mark so help yourself to a Snapple Root Beer. I’ll be back with other 20 before you can say there’s a Hickory Farms in the mall.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

The Feeling Of Liberation and Release

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How did the Hulkster escape Andre The Giant’s bearhug? I see big things ahead for him..and his daughter. Now that Wrestlemania III is over, let’s finish up the Top 10 for March 28th, 1987.

10. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin & George Michael

Aretha’s long 80s comeback finally reached its peak when she sang American The Beautiful in the Pontiac Silverdome…just kidding…. when this song hit number #1, her only other pop chart-topper after Respect. For George, this was his first release since the official breakup of Wham! and would set him on a torrid streak of pop success. Including this song, he would rack up five #1s over his next six releases with only I Want Your Sex peaking at #2.

9. Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House

From the ashes of Split Enz comes this trio from Los Angeles via New Zealand and Australia. I was never much into ballads but this beautiful uplifting song cut through the dreary landscape that Spring and made me a fan of this band for life. It peaked at #2, held back by The Queen of Soul.

8. The Final Countdown – Europe

And now it’s time for Gob to perform some magic.

7. Come Go With Me – Expose

The first of four Top 10s from this Latin freestyle trio’s debut album and another reason why we shouldn’t freak out if and when Miami goes underwater.

6. Somewhere Out There – Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram

A #2 duet from a soundtrack to a terrifying animated movie in which a Russian mouse escapes the Nazis, tries to flee to a “Cat-less” New York on a ship but washes overboard and drowns, or so his family thinks. Yes, it was produced by Steven Spielberg.

5. Mandolin Rain – Bruce Hornsby & The Range

The follow-up to the surprise smash The Way It Is also hit the Top 5,  and was written by Bruce and his brother, just like #13. Although it had to feel a bit bittersweet to the guy playing the mandolin, David Mansfield (former member of the Alpha Band), as he was no longer in the band by the time this was released.

4. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight – Genesis

There was a point in time when selling your songs to advertisers specifically beer companies caused fans to yell “Sell Out!”. So when Genesis let Michelob use this song for a commercial in 1986 the audience could watch in real time as they went from supporters to pawns and musicians went from rich to wealthy. Now the arenas most artists play in are named after corporations.

3. Let’s Wait Awhile – Janet Jackson

Miss Jackson (I’m kinda nasty..) almost had her second #1 with this tender ballad about a woman taking control, imploring her lover to spend some time getting to know each other in their relationship before having some what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sex. I do want to point out that Janet got married at age 18.

2. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship

Everyone got so riled up at what a piece of crap the song We Built This City was, no one batted an eye at this waste of polyethylene from a giant stinky dead flounder of a movie which briefly made Andrew McCarthy a star. This was Starship’s 3rd #1 song in two years. If you are a former hippie with children and a Volvo, please leave the record store.

1. Lean On Me – Club Nouveau (2 Weeks at #1)

I absolutely love Bill Withers. His music was played in the hospital for both of my kids’ births and his songs have made the world a better place to live in.

Bill was 33 years old working for an aircraft company in California when he had his first hit, Ain’t No Sunshine. The album cover even featured a picture of Bill on his lunch break. Lean On Me was his one and only pop #1 in 1972 and he effectively retired from the music business in 1985.

Club Nouveau was created out of a shuffling and rebranding of the Timex Social Club. Their recording and subsequent success of Lean On Me was an example of early New Jack Swing and garnered Bill another Grammy for songwriting and lots more royalty checks which he cashed while sitting on his porch enjoying the rest of his life.

Join me next week as we dive deep into the depths of April 1983. Until then keep your feet underground and keep reaching for cigars.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

The Light Of Deep Regret

Man, that Wrestlemania III is entertaining. Looks like Ricky Steamboat’s throat is pretty messed up. Hope you recover soon Dragon. While we take a break from Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth, here’s the next 25 hits climbing up the charts the week of March 28th, 1987.

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24. The Honeythief – Hipsway

OHW – By 1987 I was reading Billboard magazine and listening to the American Top 40 religiously,  getting the jump on future hits and cheering on songs I really dug. I bought 45s not only to play but to cast my vote to move that song up the charts. Hipsway is a great example of both, as I was aware of it months before it charted and got excited each week it moved up. I’m still shocked that a song this cool made it up to #19.

23. As We Lay – Shirley Murdock

OHW – “I would never want to hurt her. She would never ever understand.” Only a man would write lyrics like that in a song about cheating. As opposed to the folks in Secret Lovers who are constantly looking at the time whereas this couple decides just to fall asleep and slowly wake up in the morning. I guess that’s the difference between Dont. Stop. and Don’t stop. This song was recorded and released in 1985 but took it’s sweet time to become a hit as it currently lays at its peak of  #23 on the pop charts.

Side note – The success of this song prompted a man named Hilton Williams to impersonate Shirley Murdock for most of 1987, setting up phony bank accounts, cashing false checks and staying in lavish hotels under her name. You can read more about that here.

22. You Got It All – The Jets

The story of this #3 hit goes like this. Rupert Holmes was approached by a band manager, Don Powell and asked if he could write a song for a family band he was managing. Rupert was moving out of pop music and into playwriting but obliged. The challenge was writing for a young girl, but he thought about his daughter, Wendy during the process and created a song that he thought she might enjoy. The Jets were thrilled and recorded for their debut which was released in Oct 1985. It took another year for that single to be released where it hit its Top 5 peak. Sadly Rupert’s daughter never got to hear the song as she died unexpectedly from a brain tumor.

21. Walking Down Your Street – Bangles

Different Light was a breakthrough for the Bangles and this was their 4th Top 20 hit from that album. It was actually a song co-written by former Three O’Clock band member, Louis Gutierrez who had formed a new band called Louis & Clark, which featured future dada member Michael Gurley on guitar. They would record and release their version right after this became a hit.

20. The Finer Things – Steve Winwood

Steve was a star during the British Invasion of the 60s as the lead singer of the Spencer Davis Group. Then in his next life, he was a cult hero in the jazzy prog-rock group Traffic, not mention the short-lived Blind Faith with Eric Clapton. He started his solo career in earnest in 1977 and ten years later had racked up 5 Top 40 hits, including a #1. This one was his 3rd Top 10. He had bigger hits still to come. He was still in his late 30s.

19. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: How can you say “it doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not”, then turn around and say “Take my hand. We’ll make it. I swear.“?

18. Respect Yourself – Bruce Willis

This song is an affront to the Staple Singers, the Pointer Sisters (who got roped into singing back up), actually the entire African-American community. I hope Pops Staple bought a bat with his royalties, found Bruce smirking on the set of Hudson Hawk and beat his ass.

17. That Ain’t Love – REO Speedwagon

The real reason why satellite radio will never take over terrestrial radio so long as the laws don’t allow it is because they cannot make a full commitment to what they are doing and are run by too many robots. Caes in point – The Big 80s countdown plays some crappy live version of this song rather than the single or album version for no apparent reason outside of laziness.

16. Big Time – Peter Gabriel

Peter does his best Boom Boom Washington impression as he kicks off one of his finest dance songs as well as a great send-up of the 80s, which most yuppies missed. Wasn’t he droning on about Red Rain coming down all over the place just two songs ago and now he’s funky Joe? So?

15. What You Get Is What You See – Tina Turner

Tina added a little bit of country spice and some guitar by Eric Clapton and had yet another hit from Break Every Rule, reaching #13.

14. Sign ‘O’ The Times – Prince

I was heavy into Prince at this time so when I learned his new album would be a double I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. But this single threw me for a loop. I wasn’t expecting it. It challenged me musically and lyrically and it took me until Prince’s death in 2016 to understand its depth.

13. Jacob’s Ladder – Huey Lewis & The News

This is an odd song in the band’s catalog. Not only does it not sound like many of their uptempo party rock songs, it rarely gets played or remembered much except for die-hard fans, even though it hit #1. Written by Bruce Hornsby & his brother John, this song was perfect for those who had a new drug, were now stuck with you, their AA sponsor and were doing their steps, rung by rung.

12. Midnight Blue – Lou Gramm

Why split a paycheck 5 ways when you can keep it all yourself? Isn’t that why singers release solo albums? Oh, to express themselves artistically, right. I got it. Actually, for a guy singing about double vision and ice cold mommas into love sacrifices, this was an upgrade and actually fit nicely on the radio at the time. Would rather hear this than Urgent any day.

11. Let’s Go! – Wang Chung

Now that everyone including Frasier Crane was Wang Chunging, the snappy duo was able to sneak another hit into the Top 10. Or maybe we were still suffering from Wang Chung video seizures.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

 

This Stuff Is Starting Now

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What were you doing as we lived on the cusp of April in 1987? Were you getting psyched up for Wrestlemania III? Well let me tell you, brother, while you were taking a break from Piper’s Pit, Casey was telling us what the Top 40 songs were for March 28th, 1987 , starting with:

40. Serious – Donna Allen

OHW – not the American feminist pioneer who had an award named after her, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer cheerleader. Donna would only take this up to #21 pop, but she would reach the Top 5 in the UK as well as register three other Top 40 hits across the pond.

39. La Isla Bonita – Madonna

This was during Madonna’s I-wish-I was-Puerto-Rican phase when she’d write a Latin-sounding song but didn’t care that much about the authenticity. You know, throw in a few castanets, an acoustic guitar solo, a few Spanish words that she mispronounces. I’m surprised she doesn’t talk about burritos and quesadillas. Even though Madonna admitted she might have gotten the idea from driving around Los Angeles, there is a town called San Pedro on one of the “beautiful islands” off of Belize, Honduras.

38. I Will Be There – Glass Tiger

The third single from the Canadian band’s debut is as forgettable as its title and seemed to ride the momentum of their first two hits to make the Top 40. And we get to hear Bryan Adams’ strained backing vocals again.

37. Light Of Day – The Barbusters (Joan Jett and The Blackhearts)

In 1987 Michael J. Fox was on a hit TV show and had been the star of the smash Back To The Future. But he was still a big dork. Looking to get some rock cred, he got a job acting in a movie with Joan Jett playing guitar in the brother-sister band, The Barbusters. Bruce Springsteen actually wrote Light Of Day specifically for this movie so it had that going for it. And it brought Joan back into the Top 40 after a 4-year absence.

The film, Light Of Day was written and directed by Paul Schrader and is not the full trainwreck that it seems but it’s also light years away from Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. Alos, future soundtrack composer Trent Reznor has a cameo as a member of a competing synth rock band.

36. Can’tcha Say (You Believe In Me)/Still In Love – Boston

Boston showed back up in 1986 after an eight-year hiatus and picked up right where they left off, having hits. This was their 3rd single from Third Stage, which consisted mostly of Tom Scholz, Brad Delp, and his Rockman. I’m still confused by how this song suddenly stops in the middle, become a completely almost unrelated song then goes back to the first part again.

35. What’s Going On – Cyndi Lauper

Damn, Cyndi. I’m sure you’re a big Marvin Gaye fan, but some things you need to leave alone. Go ahead and She Bop all day long, but your thrift store party girl act does not belong anywhere near this song nor does your razor thin voice. As Corky St. Claire once said, “Let’s pretend the whole thing never happened and let’s sing Covered Wagons.”

34. (I Just) Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew

If I went to see something advertised as the Cutting Crew in a theatre I would expect to see ninjas throwing machetes at paper clowns. Then I would get the whole died in your arms bit.

33. Smoking Gun – The Robert Cray Band

OHW – Nothing as happy as seeing a blues artist cross over to the pop charts. So why are you still singing the blues?

32. Candy – Cameo

NAOHW – maybe that’s not a shock to you, but the follow-up to Word Up was their only other Top 40 hit. This was from their 12th album, so I’m sure they were just as shocked as they were that anyone from outside the R&B world was interested in them.

31. I Wanna Go Back – Eddie Money

Originally written and recorded by a band called Billy Satellite in 1984, whom you’d never have heard of had Eddie not recorded this song and had a #14 hit with it.

30. Come As You Are – Peter Wolf

Another Top 20 hit for the former lead singer of the J. Geils Band, Peter Wolf which seems to have been forgotten with time. I bought this 45 back then and even I don’t remember much about it.

29. Dominoes – Robbie Nevil

I really dug Robbie’s debut and this follow-up to C’est La Vie. Maybe it was the white funk. Maybe it was the thought of the cool oasis known as Dominique strutting through the steamy Asian quarter, somewhere.

This song was co-written with Bobby Hart of Boyce & Hart fame. Think about that the next time you hear I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight. She’s making hearts fall like dominoes, that’s what.

28. Brand New Lover – Dead Or Alive

NAOWH – “Your sweet nature darling was too hard to swallow.” Wow, what a kiss off! Don’t mess with Pete Burns. Although I have no idea how he’d ever find someone more exciting than him to satisfy his curiosity. This #1 Dance track was their 2nd and final Top 20 pop hit.

27. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!) – Beastie Boys

I love the Beastie Boys music, but I hate the culture that was encouraged by them. They may have meant for a song like this to be a joke, but unfortunately, their fans took it seriously. Of course, their party boys image, spraying beer into crowds with ladies dancing in cages didn’t help.  This song doesn’t sound like anything else on their debut Licensed To Ill, though it has similarities to their earlier single, She’s On It.

I honestly can’t take it. It’s not even a rap song. It’s just obnoxious frat rock.

26. Looking For A New Love – Jody Watley

When Andre Cymone left childhood friend Prince’s band in 1981, he wanted to make a name for himself, but it was hard to get from out of Prince’s shadow. While his solo albums didn’t have much success, he had much better luck producing.

Jody Watley was a former Soul Train dancer and part of the trio Shalamar from 1979-1983 before striking out on her own. Her and Andre felt they had something to prove and they made it happen with Jody’s debut. This single was the first one released, reaching #2 and helped Jody win a Best New Artist Grammy in 1988. Also, she was the first to put Hasta la vista, baby into the lexicon before Tone Loc used it and then the Terminator.

25. Stone Love – Kool & The Gang

Kool & the Gang went on a long run with new lead singer J.T. Taylor starting in 1979, but the well was running dry by the time of their 1986 LP, Forever. The funk was gone, the horns were synthesized and even J.T. had one foot out the door. Still, they managed two Top 10 hits from it, this being their last.

Ok folks, you can go back to watching the Dream Team vs Rougeau Brothers. I’ll be back with the next 25 faster than you can say Gorilla Monsoon.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

 

 

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