The Stream of Undefined Illusion


It’s like this week is frozen in time. Here are the Top 20 from Apr 26, 1986.

20. Something About You – Level 42

NAOHW – Another band led by a lead singer/bass player (Mr. Mister was the other) I was obsessed with this song when it came out. I bought the album, World Machine at a Record World in NJ during one of those monthly record label deals – check out these Mercury/Polygram/Polydor artists this month for $4.99. It made me want to jump up and sing confusion at the top of my lungs every time I was riding on a train.

I remained a fan but also dug into their back catalog which sounded nothing like this piece of polished pop. Level 42 was part of the late 70/early 80s Brit-funk movement along with bands such as Freeze,  Cool Notes and Hi-Tension. Even though most of their music was fusion based, they still had a knack for writing catchy melodies which garnered them hits in the U.K. but no crossover to the States. This Top 10 single changed all of that and they later scored an opening slot on Madonna’s tour.

This week the band’s original guitarist, Boon Gould passed away. He was a founding member and stayed with the band until 1987.

19. So Far Away – Dire Straits

The 3rd and final Top 40 from the mega-selling Brothers In Arms LP has Mark Knopfler really committing to those Dylan vocals. The band wouldn’t record another album until 1991 and it would be their last.

18. If You Leave – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Another story whose origin was RFW (Ripped From Wikipedia) by Alan Hunter. Research department – please do some homework.

I was a big OMD fan at this point wearing 1985’s Crush down the reel nubs. So it was a no-brainer to pick up the Pretty In Pink soundtrack and I was amazed and kinda proud that they had a Top 10 hit with this song.

17. Tender Love – Force M.D.’s

OHW – Another marketing opportunity lost for Tinder – Tinder love, love so tender, pulling me close to you, baby I surrender. Ok maybe not.

Check out the video if you ever wondered what slimmed-down Rerun would look like.

16. I Think It’s Love – Jermaine Jackson

Jermaine’s last Top 40 hit, a stretch that began in 1973, occurs in a countdown where his sister, Janet makes her first appearance and begins a multi-decade streak of hits.

15. Let’s Go All The Way – Sly Fox

OHW – Not all videos were expensive to make.

14. American Storm – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

The first Top 20 single from Like A Rock was Bob’s response to the growing drug epidemic and specifically cocaine, how it turns you numb until you don’t feel the need of life. The video is a who’s who of forgotten mid-80s actors from a movie that doesn’t exist unless of course, you’re snowblowing.

13. Bad Boy – Miami Sound Machine

Gloria Estefan kept picking at our souls one song at a time until we just couldn’t shake her out of our system. Enjoy this Cats-ripoff video in which Gloria gets cutely accosted in an alley by Rum Tum Tugger and his friends.

12. Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston

Sexual chocolate.


11. What You Need – INXS

The band left the recording of their Listen Like Thieves album thinking they were done. Producer Chris Thomas said they weren’t, adding ‘what you need is a hit song’. A year later What You Need is a hit song.

10. Take Me Home – Phil Collins

After delaying the No Jacket Required releases with a soundtrack detour (White Nights) and #1 duet (Separate Lives), Phil goes back to the well and releases Top 10 single number four from the former album, just enough of a bridge until the next Genesis release where he was back up at #1. It featured Sting & Peter Gabriel on backing vocals as well.

9. Your Love – The Outfield

This song is like robbing Mike Trout of a home run at the wall. The rest of their career was like the ball bouncing over their heads for a double.

8. What Have You Done For Me Lately – Janet Jackson

The nexus of R&B talents is right here – Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis & Janet Jackson.

We all grew up on Janet as Penny Woods on Good Times, Charlene on Diff’rent Strokes, and Cleo on Fame So we were ready to love her as a singer. It just took 3 albums and the right set of producers and writers to listen to what she wanted to say, who she wanted to be and gave her the control to do it. This is female empowerment at its most expressive, its most catchy and most danceable. She was only 20. Queen Bey teeters on her shoulders.

7. Rock Me Amadeus – Falco

NAOHW – Er hatte Schulden denn er trank. Doch ihn liebten alle Frauen – which means Amadeus might have been a broke-ass alcoholic but he was a straight up pimp with the ladies.

6. Harlem Shuffle – The Rolling Stones

Coasting on fumes.

5. Why Can’t This Be Love – Van Halen

The debut single with new lead singer Sammy Hagar is on its way up to #3 this week. From this point on the band would deliver solid if not outstanding music, consistent but not really noteworthy. They all got rich in the process and are probably doing Cabo Wabo shots as we speak.

4. Manic Monday – Bangles

Prince has two songs in the Top 5. Songwriter Christopher is having a good week with his first composed song performed by an all-female band who’s having their first Top 40 hit.

3. West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys

Sometimes you’re better off dead. There’s a gun in your hand and it’s pointed at your head.

Yet I don’t remember the courts calling Neil Tennant to testify after Rob Halford was done.

2. Addicted To Love – Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer had a decade long career at this point with a few Top 20 hits under his belt. For his 8th album, Riptide, he enlisted his new Power Station comrades Andy Taylor, Tony Thompson bashing those chunky drums and producer Bernard Edwards. This would be Robert’s only #1 US hit. It is also recognizable for its video, which was meant to be a satire on MTV’s blatant sexism but instead it ends up reinforcing it.

Tina Turner loves performing this song live. Check out her version on Tina Live.

1. Kiss – Prince and The Revolution (2 Weeks at #1)

Yes, Virginia, there is a God. For three weeks in the Spring of 1986 the United States of America in solidarity for the funk and all that is good in music decided together that this was the best song in the world (the world, being within our borders) Do not let the stories of Mazarati massaging nay, palpating the groove for themselves give you a Dynasty-sized attitude. Imagine them as sous-chefs for the funkiest cook this side of Lake Minnetonka.


OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

One Reply to “The Stream of Undefined Illusion”

  1. I dunno – maybe I’m the only one but I still kinda dig “Harlem Shuffle.” Not among the Stones’ best 10 or 15 singles but I don’t think they embarrassed themselves. Some of the rest of the Dirty Work album, on the other hand…


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