While you were watching Genuine Risk win the Kentucky Derby on May 3rd, 1980, these Top 20 songs would have been your soundtrack.
20. Think About Me – Fleetwood Mac
How do you follow up a smash like Rumours? Make Rumours 2? Or follow what Fleetwood Mac did – create a double album of ambitious pop that was at once bombastic as it was personal, as welcoming as it was mistrustful, as radio-friendly as it was alienating. Think About Me might not be a Top 5 Fleetwood Mac song nor a Top 5 Christine McVie track, but it was pleasant enough to make the Top 20, their tenth straight single to do so in the U.S.
19. Breakdown Dead Ahead – Boz Scaggs
After the success of Silk Degrees, Columbia Records rushed Boz in to record a follow-up which featured another strong group of Westcoast rock songs but didn’t translate into silky sales. He took his time with the next LP Middle Man and with Bill Schnee producing, returned to the Top 20 with this rolling number featuring two scorching solos by Steve Lukather.
18. Cars – Gary Numan
Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to the Polymoog? There was nothing like this on pop radio in 1980 and sandwiched in between Boz and the younger Gibb, this slab of proto new wave stands out even more.
17. I Can’t Help It – Andy Gibb & Olivia Newton-John
It made sense for these fellow Australians to team up for a duet. But by the time this peaked at #12, Andy’s star was beginning its descent into an eventually early death. I like this tender piano version that Andy played on an episode of Punky Brewster.
16. Working My Way Back To You/Forgive Me, Girl – Spinners
When lead singer Philippe Wynne left the Spinners, it made the band and producer Thom Bell fidget, so much that they never found another song together to make it into the Top 40 after 1976’s The Rubberband Man. New producer Michael Zager from Ten Wheel Drive had the idea of a disco medley using Working My Way Back To You and song he had written for the band called Forgive Me Girl. It brought the group with new lead singer John Edwards all the way up to #2, held down by Pink Floyd and some flying pigs.
15. Hurt So Bad – Linda Ronstadt
Linda was on a ridiculous hot streak from 1975 to 1980. Her 1980 album Mad Love spawned two more Top 10s including her version of this oft-covered classic, originally recorded by Little Anthony & the Imperials
14. Biggest Part Of Me – Ambrosia
Alan Hunter goes on and on about how he hated his mom’s ambrosia salad while introducing this song. Dude, it doesn’t sound like she was making ambrosia. By the ingredients you listed, it sounds like crazy mom pudding. Wouldn’t be surprised if there was Meow Mix in it. Also, this Westcoast gem is moving its way up to be the biggest hit of their career.
13. Pilot Of The Airwaves – Charlie Dore
OHW – Charlie Dore may not be a household name but I bet she was loved by DJs around the world when this tribute to radio mic masters hit the charts. It’s at its peak this week.
The record companies wanted to Amercianize Charlie, so they sent her to Nashville to turn her into a Juice Newton, who was yet to be Juice Newton. When that didn’t work they brought in the Cliff Richard production team of Alan Tarney & Bruce Welch and Nashville then tried to turn Juice Newton into Juice Newton. Success on both fronts! And although Charlie got the cliched comparisons to Joni Mitchell, her voice always reminded me of Judie Tzuke.
Charlie would write 1984 Sheena’s Easton Top 10 hit Strut.
12. Special Lady – Ray, Goodman & Brown
OHW (kinda) – Technically, the law firm of Ray, Goodman & Brown only had one Top 40 hit. But as the group, the Moments they had a few crossover hits in the 70s. To get out of a contract in 1979 they changed their name, kept recording and put up a sign in their office that said, “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”
11. Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer – Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes
Kenny’s one & only crossover single from his album, Gideon took him into the Top 10 with singer/songwriter Kim Carnes along for the ride. She and her husband wrote the entire album for Kenny and it would set Kim up for some big success in the first half of the 80s.
10. Hold On To My Love – Jimmy Ruffin
Jimmy was a Motown artist who had a few hits in the mid-60s. He was almost a Temptation but his brother David ended up filling the missing hole in the group and made history. Such is life. But Robin Gibb remembered what a great singer Jimmy was and produced his 1980 album Sunrise with its comeback single Hold On To My Love. Even though it hit the Top 10, it is sorely forgotten by most folks today.
9. Sexy Eyes – Dr. Hook
I’m not sure what’s creepier – imagining Dr. Hook in a disco leering in the dark at people dancing. Or the thought of him actually using that sexy eyes line on some unassuming chick and taking her home along while she schedules frequent visits to the clinic for shots afterward. [And when I say Dr. Hook I mean anyone in that band.]
8. I Can’t Tell You Why – Eagles
It all worked out for Timothy B. Schmit. But for a while, it seemed as if he didn’t have the best luck. He replaced Randy Meisner in the band Poco, who worked hard throughout the 70s without a true breakthrough while Randy & the Eagles became superstars. Then in 1978, with the Eagles at the height of their fame, Randy left the band only to be replaced by, you guessed it, TBS. But it lasted only one album before the band broke up. At least TBS got a bonafide hit out of it with this smooth and soulful Top 10 ballad.
Again, don’t cry a river for Tim. He was there for the reunion in 1994 and has been ever since including during those jacked up ticket prices.
7. You May Be Right – Billy Joel
Don’t pick on Billy. He’s a tough hombre. He rides his motorcycle while it’s raining. And even walked through Brooklyn in Bedford-Stuyvesant. By himself. He’s so crazy. He’s also an innocent man who didn’t start the fire. And he doesn’t care what you say anymore. It’s his life. Just don’t ask him why.
6. Fire Lake – Bob Seger
It was nice to hear a Bob Seger song that didn’t talk about how great things were in the past. JK. That’s his stock in trade, folks. Bob talks about his (or someone’s) Uncle Joe, a guy you definitely don’t want at a kid’s birthday party, who takes off on a motorcycle for some boozing, gambling and frolicking with some bronzed beauties. Poor old aunt Sara.
Don & Glenn & Tim of the Eagles are singing back up for the 2nd Top 10 appearance.
5. Another Brick In The Wall – Pink Floyd
Every time I hear this song I think of a little English kid named Liam who transferred into our class around the time this song was popular. He loved to tell us that disco sucked and that Pink Floyd was awesome. And that The Wall was the best thing that ever existed. This song, which had a light touch of disco in it, would spend a month at the top. Liam only spent three weeks at our school before he left, never to return.
4. With You, I’m Born Again – Billy Preston & Syreeta
When 1979 turned into the new decade, a whole group of careers were shut down overnight. One of them was Gabe Kaplan’s, whose hit show Welcome Back Kotter was canceled just months after his movie, Fast Break bombed at the theatres.
From the ashes of that crappy movie which also featured Knick legend, Bernard King comes this tender duet from Billy Preston & Syreeta Wright, who had been married to Stevie Wonder in the early 70s. Released six months after the movie left theatres, it traveled all the way into the Top 5.
We had this 45 in the house. My mom probably thought it was a religious thing.
3. Lost In Love – Air Supply
When the aliens come and ask you, what is soft rock, just show them this video. They will either laugh, kill you or cuddle up by a cozy fire.
2. Ride Like The Wind – Christopher Cross
If you don’t know the story it goes like this. Driving around in Texas one afternoon on a car ride to Austin, Chris decides to pop a cap and do some acid. During the ride, this whole scenario of a murderer on the run to Mexico came into his head, which he wrote down and turned into this Westcoast classic. It should have been an easy #1 for him, but it ran into the Blondie buzzsaw. BTW – that’s Chris on the guitar solo tearing it up.
And now I’m obliged to show you this.
1. Call Me – Blondie (3 Weeks at #1)
Blondie is halfway through their six week run at the top with this Giorgio Moroder producer single from American Gigolo. Blondie was the rare group at the time to have critical & commercial success as well as hip cred. And if you ever need to practice your moves ala Damone, Debbie is there for you.
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke
RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia