The Point Is Probably Moot

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Here we are ready to finish up the biggest hits in the Top 40 on June 20, 1981. Since there was no way you were watching baseball, you were probably spending your time listening to these songs.

12. Climax Blues Band – I Love You

THW – CBB’s 2nd and last Top 40 hit is at its peak this week. Though we’d skip this one on the Dimensions 8-Track, I’ve enjoyed this more as an adult. Now even Yacht Rock lovers can enjoy this tale of a momma’s boy alcoholic looking for someone to save him. Dude, please tell me what you are adding to this relationship?

11. Gary “US” Bonds – This Little Girl

After a 19 year absence, Gary “US” Bonds hit the Top 40 again with a song written by Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen. Gary had a handful of big hits in the early 60s, including the #1 smash Quarter To Three. His career began completely by accident as he just happened to be near a recording studio when the lead singer on a session was kicked out and the producer needed someone immediately to fill his shoes. He grabbed Gary, gave him a cheesy but memorable name and he had his first hit, New Orleans, in 1960 reaching #6.

10. Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl

In this last batch of songs, five them were featured on the Dimensions collection, which I’ve mentioned previously. My brother & I would listen on an 8-track so we could skip over songs and play the same 3 or 4 over and over. This was one of them. Somehow Rick found his way up to #1 sandwiched between two monster 1981 hits, Bette Davis Eyes & Endless Love and had a whole new career.

9. Hall & Oates – You Make My Dreams

The wedding song that gets all the younger white folks out on the floor. Another Dimensions tune that we would never skip but would instead crank up and throw each other against the basement’s paneled walls.

8. Neil Diamond – America

Neil Diamond started off the 80s with a starring role in an updated version of The Jazz Singer. While the movie is hilariously awful, the soundtrack gave Neil three Top 10 hits, something he never duplicated before or after. Here’s the exciting climax from the movie featuring this song. Shout out to perfectly placed whistle after the first far. [You can hear it better on the recording.]

7. Air Supply – The One That You Love

Air Supply did not give a fuck. They churned out one power ballad after another each one as soft as a bag of melted marshmallows on a goose down pillow, determined to have some #1s. And somehow this patiently waited and squeezed in at the top of Everest, then tumbled the hell back down. We were a traumatized country. Imagine being conceived to this.

It was on Dimensions too. It was always skipped by us unless my mom was playing it in the car.

6. Smokey Robinson – Being With You

Smokey was on a roll in the early 80s with another Top 10 hit. Not as solid as Crusin’ but awfully close. Smokey recorded with Motown from the very beginning in 1960 all the way until 1990, when the company was sold to MCA and Smokey was released as Motown’s vice-president. One of the smoothest soul voices of all time.

5. George Harrison – All Those Years Go

Six months prior to this countdown, John Lennon was murdered on a New York City sidewalk. It was a difficult event to make any sense out of and many tributes began poured out and have been shared since. But the quiet Beatle gave possibly the first musical and best overall homage with this sweet and tender eulogy to his lost friend whom he loved and respected.

The song was originally written for and recorded with Ringo Starr but was scrapped. After John’s death, George rewrote the lyrics and invited Paul & Linda to sing on it as well as Wings’ guitarist Denny Laine, so that the three remaining Beatles could pay John their respects together in song.

4. Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio – A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)

Ray Parker Jr. started to slow process of breaking into a solo career the year before by renaming the band Raydio to Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio. Unfortunately, he had to wait for two albums until he had a big enough hit to go out on and here it is. The gist here is if you screw around so will she, which is such a male point of view. Women are way better than that. They may cut off your Johnson once and a while, but they generally will take a higher road than us idiots. And I can’t give this much weight when I know that within a year, Ray’s gonna write another cheating song about how it feels better when he sneaks.

3. A Taste of Honey – Sukiyaki

THW – Boogie Oogie Oogie sent A Taste Of Honey into the stratosphere, garnering them a 1978 Grammy for Best New Artist. They had trouble following it up but two albums later came up with an American cover version of Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 hit Sukiyaki. Believe it or not, it was also a hit on the Soul charts back then, so maybe that’s where Hazel Payne and Janice–Marie Johnson heard it previously. They did not directly translate the lyrics into English, so instead of a depressed protester feeling sad that he could not change the world, you had a simple tale of lost love, set to the same melody with a tacked on “Sukiyaki” whispered at the end.

Because of ATOH’s hit, Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick then used a portion of the verse four years later in their rap classic La Di Da Di the song that launched a million samples.

2. Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes

Kim and her raspy voice politely take a step back from her reign at #1 to allow a Dutch studio group to have a chance. It had been #1 for five weeks and would spend another four there for an astounding total of nine weeks.

How did no one find this 1974 song before Kim? Well, this Jackie DeShannon song had a completely different arrangement before Kim and her crew modernized it, giving it a hint of New Wave spice.

1. Medley: Intro “Venus/Sugar, Sugar/No Reply/I’ll Be Back/Drive My Car/Do You Want to Know a Secret/We Can Work It Out/I Should Have Known Better/Nowhere Man/You’re Going to Lose That Girl/ Stars on 45 – Stars On 45

THW – I have so many questions. The oddball did the unthinkable and interrupted Kim’s 9-week #1 run with a quick ascent to the top this week. I’m thinking that that radio and then us music buyers were still in shock that Lennon was dead and maybe this was our way to console ourselves? The 45 edit starts off with Shocking Blue’s Venus, the Archies Sugar Sugar then a mix of earlier Beatles songs. Was the idea to do a mix of songs and then they just gave up?

The 8-minute album version starts off with Beatles songs, includes a George Harrison section with My Sweet Lord then moves into a mishmash that features Venus, Sugar Sugar, Funkytown, Jimmy Mack – it’s all over the place. I have no idea what the hell they are doing. That this was a big hit between disco’s heyday but before danceable New Wave took over was quite strange. Because this was played so many times at my house I have a hard time hearing songs like Drive My Car without my mind automatically going into Do You Want To Know A Secret? I could easily sing you the cues from memory and that’s why I haven’t stopped drinking.

Because of licensing this song hasn’t appeared on many, if any, 80s compilations, so its presence is becoming lost to history, which is probably fine. Except for the fact that it most likely inspired the Hooked On craze. This was produced by Jaap Eggermont, former drummer of Golden Earring. He’s Dutch. I’m not sure what my point is. I think its place it the world makes me shake my head until I get dizzy and fall down laughing.

Another Dimensions track which had a good beat to wrestle to. And yes there’s a video for it.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

THW – Two-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

STA – Second Time Around

Trying To Find An Easy Way Inside

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Here’s the next batch of songs in the June 20th, 1981 Top 40 bouillabaisse.

26. Moody Blues – Gemini Dream

The Moody Blues took a break in 1974 with different members recording various solo projects. When they reconvened for the album Octave in 1978, keyboardist Mike Pinder left after its release and they brought in Patrick Moraz for a tour. Since Octave wasn’t the return to favor they had hoped for,  they decided to create a more modern, less symphonic sound for their follow up with Moraz in charge of the synths. [Pinder had thought he could come back as the keyboardist but the band deemed him too moody, which gave him the blues.]

Their new album, Long Distance Voyager hit #1 and spawned two Top 20 hits, this being the first one, which sounds like an ELO outtake. No one in the band is a Gemini, though their original bass player, Clint Warwick has the same birthday as Patrick Moraz.

25. Sheena Easton – Modern Girl

Sheena wakes up, stops waiting for her partner at the train station and starts living her own life with no one telling her what to do. Or does she? The guy in the beginning of the song wraps up his one night stand with quickly leaving to go to work with Sheena clearly not digging that. Meanwhile she’s faking smiles, burying her dreams down inside while she’s on the morning train and watches TV by herself at night. Doesn’t really feel like she’s happy with being a “modern girl”, does it?. It wasn’t until 1984 and Strut that she seemingly finally took control, but here, in this eventual #18 is where the emotions started to bubble.

24. Santana – Winning

At #26 we had the Moody Blues sounding like ELO. Now at #24 we have Santana sounding like Journey. Written and first recorded by Russ Ballard in 1976, Winning will become Santana’s first Top 20 hit in ten years, since 1971’s Everything Everything.

23. Oak Ridge Boys – Elvira

THW – Dallas Frazier wrote and recorded the song Elvira back in 1966 and had a minor hit with it reaching #72. The Oak Ridge Boys have been around longer than that as the roots of the group stretch back to the 1940s. The quartet that sang on this 45 had been singing gospel music in the late 60s/ early 70s before making the switch to the devils music of Country. While recording songs for their new album, Fancy Free, they decided to record a version of Elvira after hearing Rodney Crowell’s (Nashvile’s tight y’all.) recording, which is pretty damn good. What probably made ORB’s corpone classic a hit were those papa-oom-papa-mow-mows between each chrous provided by Richard Sturban. And the unneccessary key changes one after another towards the end of the song just prolong the agony.

This was on Dimensions as well and provided lots of laughs between my brother and I.

FYI – I’m changing the code of Not a One Hit Wonder to Two Hit Wonder (THW) which is primarily the point I was making anyway.

22. Kenny Rogers – I Don’t Need You

There are six Country songs on the charts this week. Not sure if that was a high for this time period, but I do know that Country’s pop crossover river would dry up within the next couple of years and it wouldn’t start running again until the mid 90s.

After the success of Lady, Kenny decided to have Lionel Richie produced an entire album for him. The intro to this song is very similar to a Commodores ballad. It’s quickly moving up the charts and will hit #3 ina few weeks.

21. Elton John – Nobody Wins

A forgotten song from a lost album in a legend’s catalog. This is actually a French song called J’Veux de la Tendresse written by Jean-Paul Dreau. New lyrics collaborator Gary Osborne wrote the English lyrics and retitled the song, Nobody Wins. It is also powered by synths and drum machines which was very different for Elton at the time. Nevertheless, because we all love to hear Elton sing, we still helped make this a hit at #21.

20. Joey Scarbury – Theme From The Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not)

OHW – Mike Post is the man when it comes to TV themes. For the last forty years his scoring on television from The Rockford Files to Law & Order has been more memorable and enduring than the shows themselves. He’s also written the most Top 40 TV Theme hits, including this one sung by Joey Scarbury. It’s one of his most recognizable and most successful hitting #2. [Damn you, Endless Love]

Believe it or not, there’s a video to this song. But what’s up with the hookers? Also I’m obliged to include this.

Fun Fact #1: Joey had a #71 hit as a sixteen-year old with the song Mixed Up Guy in 1971.

Fun Fact #2: Mike Post produced albums by The First Edition, Dolly Parton & Van Halen.

19. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – The Waiting

There’s only one question you need to ask yourself. Is this the best Tom Petty song ever written or are they all tied for #1?

And now this….

18. Marty Balin – Hearts

THW – For those Jeferson Starship fans who became distraught over their harder rock direction in 1979 with new lead singer Mickey Thomas, fear not because Marty Balin is here. He picks up where 1978’s Earth left off with another soft midtempo ballad from his debut album, Balin which is on the way to a #8 peak. Many decades later he would perform the song live with Jefferson Starship [or a version of which contained Paul Kantner.]

17. Lee Ritenour – Is It You?

OHW – This is the highest charting song from a Jazz artist this week which would make this the fourth in the 40. That was probably a record in the 80s for sure. Is It You? keeps inching its way up to its peak of #15. Jazz guitar virtuoso Lee Ritenour’s album Rit features vocals by Eric Tagg who has become a WestCoast legend himself with his catalog of Smooth albums from the 70s & 80s. After the success of this single Eric released a solo album, Dream Walkin’ produced by Lee but to this day, it has yet to be released in the U.S. though it has great tracks such as No One There, Marzipan and A Bigger Love.

Eric also sings lead on another Rit track called Mr. Briefcase, whose video was aired on MTV’s first day.

16. Franke & the Knockouts – Sweetheart

Here’s the first of three, yes three, Top 40 hits from this pop rock band hailing from New Jersey. Sweetheart was at its peak of #10 last week, a Top 10 song most have forgotten. If you don’t remember it, you may have heard of the song Franke wrote and eventualy won an Academy Award Oscar for Best Song 1987.

15. Dottie West – What Are We Doin’ In Love

OHW – Here’s the highest charting Country song in the Top 40 this week by a lady who by this time was a Country music veteran. This duet with Kenny Rogers was one of many she had recorded with him but the first to be successful on the Pop charts. If you’ve never heard of Dottie West, you can watch the TV movie on Dottie’s life starring Michelle Lee as Dottie right here.

Fun Fact: Dottie and her daughter Shelley each recorded a #1 duet on the Country charts in 1981.

14. REO Speedwagon – Take It On The Run

The second single from Hi Infidelity and the followup to Keep On Lovin’ You is falling down after hitting #5. It would also be one of the first videos played on MTV in August. Pitbull sampled it on his minor hit Messin’ Around in 2008.

13. Gino Vannelli – Living Inside Myself

How do you contain the sheer power of Gino V.? Only brothers, Joe and Ross know how  as they wrap this dramatic belter’s voice in warm synths and tasteful production. This was Gino’s second Top 10 hit and inexplicably his last Top 40 hit.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

THW – Two-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

STA – Second Time Around

Who Does Your Past Belong To?

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This June 20th, 1981 countdown should make the WestCoast/ Yacht Rock lover in you go wild. Or mild. No matter if its country, funk, jazz, rock, soul, pop or what, this is surely one of the lightest and fluffiest countdowns I’ve listened to in a while. This is Top 40 just before MTV.

BTW I think I’ve heard each of these songs at least once waiting in line at a drug store, so this whole group is Rite Aid Rock to me.

40. Billy Squier – The Stroke

Billy’s Top 40 debut is on its way up into the Top 20. This may the hardest thing in the 40 this week, even if it has a ferns-in-soft-focus sheen to it. The rumor was that this song is about flogging the dolphin but I believe it’s about Billy getting stroked by the music industry in every sense of the word and even includes some march-in-line military drums during the last chorus. If it the song sounds a bit like Queen, it may be because Queen’s producer Reinhold Mack produced Billy’s Don’t Say No album as well.

39. Champaign – How ‘Bout Us

NAOHW – Named after a town in Illinois, this septet slides down the chart from its high of #12. Their smooth vocals and mellow funk rhythm made it a Top 5 Soul hit and a #1 on the Adult contemporary charts. Check out the band in this song’s video. They are so into each other, they look like they might form a human centipede.

Remember MTV did make bands film videos. Bands already filming videos are what created MTV.

38. Juice Newton – Angel of The Morning

Country singer, Juice Newton finally crossed over to the pop charts in 1981 with three Top 10 singles from Juice, with this 1968 Merillee Rush cover being the first. On the Big 80’s countdown, Alan mentions that Juice was her debut, which was incorrect. She had recorded three albums under the band name Juice Newton and Silver Spur in the 70s, then another two under Juice Newton before 1981. So she was already a music vet by 1981. In fact her version of It’s A Heartache, a hit for Bonnie Tyler, reached #86 in 1978.

Note to Sirius XM: this info is very easy to find.

37. Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands

Here’s some more Illinois music, this time courtesy of Styx. For some reason, lots of kids in my neighborhood had Paradise Theatre, the LP that this hit comes from. Some of them would chide me that I wasn’t a big Styx fan, so I would pretend I was. I immediately realized how stupid that was and it would be a lesson for me to never apologize for what I liked or didn’t like.

36. Carole Bayer Sager – Stronger Than Before

OHW – Carole Bayer Sager was a songwriter who had some big hits under her belt, such as Groovy Kind Of Love & Nobody Does It Better, when she decided to embark on a singing career that lasted three albums over three years. She went out on a high note with her only Top 40 song from her LP, Sometimes Late At Night, produced and co-written with future husband, Burt Bacharach on its way to a #30 crest. She would have bigger co-writes on the horizon including That’s What Friends Are For and Arthur’s Theme.

35. Grover Washington Jr. – Just The Two of Us

OHW – In 1981 I was introduced to my second favorite Grover, maybe now my first, courtesy of this song from his 1980 album Winelight, which spent seven months on top of the Jazz Albums charts. GW was slowly moving away from his 70s fusion albums into his own space now referred to as smooth jazz. And it doesn’t get any smoother than Grover’s sax and Bill Withers’ vocals. This song sat at #2 for three weeks unable to break up the Kim Carnes juggernaut of Bette Davis Eyes.

This song tells you everything you need to know about 1981. America needed to chill out and regroup.

34. Stanley Clarke & George Duke – Sweet Baby

OHW – I haven’t heard a lot of mistakes recently on the Big 80s Countdown, but this week Alan Hunter back announces this song as one by “two of the great guitarists of all time”. Yes, Stanley Clarke plays bass and founded the fusion group, Weather Report. But George Duke? Sorry, Alan. [Actually sorry to the research staff for doing a poor job.] George was a well-known jazz keyboardist who also played with Zappa.

Clarke & Duke would record three albums together.

33. Juice Newton – Queen Of Hearts

The Juice is loose with her second Top 40 hit in the countdown and it’s destined for greatness and a #2 peak behind Endless Love. It was written by Hank DeVito who played with Emmylou Harris and provided some pedal steel guitar on the upcoming #31 hit. The original version was recorded by Dave Edmunds in 1979.

32. Jesse Winchester – Say What

OHW – This Canadian singer-songwriter is sandwiched between two Country songs which generally would have been fine for a single off of one of his earlier albums. But Jesse takes the turn that the Dirt Band took in 1979 and adds some Island vibes to his folk pop creating a forgotten Yacht Rock gem. This breezy little tune was produced by Willie Mitchell, known primarily for producing early 70s classic Soul by Al Green in Memphis.

31. Rosanne Cash – Seven Year Ache

OHW – If there ever was such as a thing as New Wave Country, this would be it. Rosanne wrote and sings this song with such a beguiling mix of sassiness and melancholy and it sat well next to some Tom Petty or The Police on the radio. Shoot, that steel guitar might as well as be a lead on a Prophet 5.

It was produced by her then-husband Rodney Crowell and would make it up to #22. [Rodney also recorded Queen Of Hearts with Hank DeVito on guitar in 1980. Nashville is tight, y’all.]

30. Alan Parsons Project – Time

PFK – The Alan Parsons Project usually consisted of partners Eric Woolfson & Alan playing synths, writing the songs, engineering and producing the albums while letting other singers take a chance singing lead. On this track from The Turn Of A Friendly Card whose concept is based on the human effects of gambling, Eric steps out for the first time as lead singer as well as Alan who sings backing vocals. The two create a haunting vocal effect together and its make this dreamlike ode to passing on one of their best. It will be their second consecutive Top 20 hit.

Time keeps flowing like a river to the sea, til it’s gone forever.

29. Jim Photoglo – Fool In Love With You

NAOHW – This track is Jim’s 2nd and last Top 40 song. Even though it will peak at #25, they must have played this a lot on a radio station where I grew up cause it definitely sounds like 1981 to me. Maybe I watched this awesome video too much.  I wonder how much more successful the song would have been if Jim could’ve afforded to hire Michael McDonald on backing vocals. You can read about Wm’s thoughts on this song here.

Jim would go on to write lots of Country hits including #1s for Alabama and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

28. Pure Prairie League –  Still Right Heart In My Heart

PPL’s country rock vibe fit in perfectly during Country music’s pop crossover attack in the late 70s and early 80s. Most likely that’s what contributed to their resurgence as well, not to mention they added future Country legend Vince Gill to their lineup as lead singer. This would be their last Top 40 hit at its peak this week.

27. Manhattan Transfer – Boy From New York City

Here’s a cover of the 1965 #8 hit by the Ad-Libs that the Transfer would eventually take up to #7. This takes me right back to my basement, listening to K-Tel’s Dimensions compilation on 8-track with my brother on our 2-XL as we pummeled the hell out of each other. In fact, songs #40, 33 & 30 were on that compilation as well, with more to come as we travel up the charts.

Manhattan Transfer’s first Top 40 hit was back in 1975 with Operator, based on gospel singer Sister Wynona Carr’s Operator Operator. Even after their founder and leader Tim Hauser passed away in 2014, the band carries on and they put out a great album last year called The Junction.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

STA – Second Time Around

 

 

The Wrong Sort Of Fun

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Now I remembered why I hesitated to tackle this countdown which is looking more and more like a bad cocaine hangover. What the hell happened? I wonder how much of this sap was spurred on by proms, wedding season and misplaced emotions? Or was it just indifferent record company robots? Thankfully grunge and hip hop were just around the corner, ready to make their mark. But until then, these were the top songs the week of June 17th, 1989.

13. Cyndi Lauper – I Drove All Night

This will be Cyndi Lauper’s last Top 10/40 hit as this climbs up to #6. Even though this Billy Steinberg/ Tom Kelly song has had strong recordings by Roy Orbison & Celine Dion, Cyndi’s remains as the most successful US version.

12. Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy

PFK – Natalie, what are you doing? Leave songs like this to Whitney Houston. We want more of those sultry ballads like Our Love and I’ve Got Love On My Mind, not this Yamaha DX7 tripe.

Fun fact: Bruno from the movie and TV show, Fame plays piano and synths on her album Good to Be Back. He is gonna live forever!

11. Michael Damian – Rock On

NAOHW – The name says it all – he’s the devil. This soap opera lifer bubbled up to poorly interpret, nay, destroy a classic.  This knocked Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl out of the number one spot. So I guess payola still existed in 1989.

10. Waterfront – Cry

OHW – Here’s a pleasant little faux soul-pop hit, in the vein of Breathe, from the Welsh duo of Chris Duffy & Phil Cilla, resting at its peak of #10. I never thought much of it until I read the lyrics of the second verse:

I know you’re just sixteen, but looking all of twenty-one.
(Twenty-one, you’ll be married with a gun.)
Daddy would go to jail for you,
If he thought you were having the wrong sort of fun.

Now I finally get it. This is a emotionally complex  song about two folks ready to get busy until the singer realizes that he’s messing with jailbait. And his decision to stop embarrasses her, so she starts crying, prompting him to plead not to. Well, at least he’s got more restraint than ol’ Benny M. [don’t click that link.]

9. Donna Summer – This Time I Know It’s For Real

The class of ’79 is riding high again with one of its star pupils in the Top 10, after a five-year absence. It would be her last Top 40 hit produced by the buzzSAW known as Stock Aiken Waterman.

To experience an endless Summer, check out My Favorite Decade 1976-1985 where it’s the Summer of Summer.

8. Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne – Close My Eyes Forever

NAOHW – The Prince of Darkness finally makes the Top 10 sitting at its peak of #8. [I guess it makes sense that it’s with a power ballad rather than something like Crazy Train.] And for extra strength, he teams up with ex-Runaway Lita Ford, who was managed by Ozzy’s wife, Sharon at that point. Ozzy & Lita would also have one other solo Top 40 hit. A heavy metal pairing in heaven.

7. Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing

The second single from The Raw & the Cooked is going to reach number one just like their first single, She Drives Me Crazy. But more importantly, on that fine Summer day in July, they will knock the next song up out of the top spot.

6. Milli Vanilli – Baby Don’t Forget My Number

Didn’t they already release this once and call it Girl You Know It’s True? It’s the same damn song with the same damn drum sample. We’re the ones that made Milli Vanilli. We should be apologizing to them.

5. Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance

The daughter of jazz trumpeter Don Cherry redeems this whole Top 10 with one the best songs from the best albums of 1989, Raw Like Sushi. That album carried me through the Summer.

Buffalo Stance originated as a B-side to a 12″ by Morgan-McVey called Looking Good Diving and was originally titled Looking Good Diving with the Wild Bunch. Neneh sings the lead on that track. When Neneh got a recording contract she along with producer Tim Simonen took the best bits, polished them up, rearranged them and tightened them up into this funky little jam. This will keep pushing its way up to #3.

Her next album, Homebrew was even better.

My homies Len O’ Kelly and Wm. have also talked about this song this Spring. So click those links and check out what they have to say.

4. Richard Marx – Satisfied

Richard is back in the Top 10 with this fifth straight Top 5 hit. This debuted on the Hot 100 at #39 and will reach number one next week.

Fun fact: Randy Jackson plays bass on this. So with him & Paula in the Top 40, all we’re missing is Simon, that miserable bastard.

3. Bobby Brown – Every Little Step

Finally some good dance music. Bobby B. is in the middle of crushing it in 1989. This is the fourth Top 10 single, which they remixed for radio release, from his Don’t Be Cruel album. He’d have two more big ones before the year was out.

2. Bette Midler – Wind Beneath My Wings

For as ballsy and baudy as Bette is, it’s a shame that she’s most remembered for somber, dour ballads like From A Distance and this one from her movie Beaches, which is like a sobered up version of The Rose. Originally intended and recorded as a country song, a few Soul artists such as Lou Rawls & Gladys Knight tackled it as well before Bette got her Midler mitts on it. It was last weeks #1. Remember we sent The Living Years there only months before.

Fun fact: Between Bette & Glenn Medeiros we had back to back years with number ones by Hawaiian born artists.

1. New Kids On The Block – I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)

This is called limping to the finish line, like Michael Douglas in Running. Five white boys from Boston pretending to be the Delfonics (probably didn’t know who they were either) gets one of my newest awards – WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up. You might see this again the next time Michael Bolton is on the charts.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

STA – Second Time Around

WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up

The Bones Of Last Week’s News

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As Ric Ocasek once said, “Summer. Summer. Summer.” Let’s continue on with the June 17th, 1989 countodwn.

25. Doobie Brothers – The Doctor

The Doobies got back together in 1989. And if you like them China Grove-style, then you’re gonna love The Doctor. It’s as if Michael McDonald never joined the band. Actually they would have welcomed him back if he wanted but since he didn’t, they decided to go back to creating biker bar music. This would eventually get into the Top 10.

24. Madonna – Express Yourself

Madonna’s marriage to Sean Penn did not last long. Whether in response to that or the want to write an inspirational anthem, she wrote this feminist call to arms that should be the song she’s remembered most for. It was kept out of the top spot by Martika’s Toy Soldiers. One of my favorite Madonna all-time tracks.

RFW – Big 80’s countdown reads the following as they intro the song – “Express Yourself” was the first song that Madonna and producer Stephen Bray collaborated on for Like a Prayer. Written and produced by them, the song was a tribute to American funk and soul band Sly and the Family Stone.”

23. Elvis Costello – Veronica

NAOHW – This is Elvis’ second and last Top 40 hit on its way up to #19 and #1 on the Modern Rock charts. Another colloboration with Paul McCartney, who provided more on the musical side, while Elvis wrote the bulk of the lyrics inspired by his grandmother [who’s confirmation name was Veronica] who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s an extremely well written song on the subject, a loving tribute that’s equally heartbreaking.

Paul played his Hofner bass on the recording.

22. Expose – What You Don’t Know

The lead off single from their second album will soon be their fifth Top 10 single in a row. But their success would quickly wane as lots of freestyle copycats, such as Sweet Sensation, Seduction and the Cover Girls would soon flood the charts.

21. Cinderella – Coming Home

I do not hate glam metal. I think there were a few artists that did some catchy well=played songs [and if they come up on a countodwn, I’ll mention that.] Cinderella was not one of those bands. It’s not that they weren’t particularly strong, it’s that I cannot take Tom Keifer’s voice screeching through these songs. My ears physically hurt listening to him. He eventually paid the price by having throat surgery to repair his vocal cords in 1991.

Lesson #1: Take care of your instrument.

20. Paula Abdul – Forever Your Girl

This song spent two weeks at #1 in May and was the second of four from her 1988 debut album of the same name. It was written by guitaist Ollie Leiber who was in Ta Mara & The Seen and whose dad was Jerry Leiber, making them one of the few father-son combinations to each a write number one song.

19. Donny Osmond – Soldier Of Love

In th early 70s, the Doobie Brothers, Bee Gees and Donny Osmond were all on the charts together. In 1989 each artist would hit the Top 10.

This song was packaged to radio stations as Soldier of Love by a “mystery artist”. When stations started to play it, the record company revealed the singer to be Donny Osmond. So DJs were tricked into ignoring their prejudices and made to play a song that sounded like everything else they were playing. Alright, Donny!

BTW Donny was only 31 years old when this peaked at #2. Katy Perry is 34.

18. Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down

This is Tom’s first solo hit but he still kept his partner in crime Mike Campbell close by as he co-wrote this track and plays the slide guitar fills. His new buddy Jeff Lynne produced and played bass and he also had his fellow Wilbury, George Harrison play acoustic guitar, with both providing background vocals as well.

At the time I thought, Cool, a solid new Tom Petty track. I bought the album but it wasn’t that big of a deal to me that it existed nor that the Heartbreakers weren’t much involved. Time and Petty’s death have considerably changed my thinking on this and it’s gained a new improtance to me. I will crank this iup and sing along any time I hear it now. A lot of folks have admitted that it’s been a mantra for change in their lives. I’m in the middle of writing my story about it. Maybe I’ll share it when it ends.

17. Simply Red – If You Don’t Know Me By Now

Simply Red is going to the dance again, this time courtesy of a cover of some Philly Soul by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes from 1972. Pretty ballsy to try and tackle Teddy Pendergrass but Mick Hucknall was up to the challenge.

16. Jimmy Harnen with Synch – Where Are You Now?

OHW, STA – Rather than discover new hits DJs and radio stations during the late 80s were in competition trying to find the next forgotten 45 and turn it into a hit. The Pennsylvania band, Synch recorded and released this song written and sung by their drummer Jimmy Harnen and it peaked at #77 in 1986, probably for good reason. If REO Speedwagon is too edgy for you, then this is your cup of tea.

Then one day a DJ started playing it again and it received lots of requests. Another DJ heard about its success and did the same with the equal results and it spread all over the country until the single was re-released under Jimmy Harnen with Synch becoming a Top 10 hit.

15. John Cougar Mellencamp – Pop Singer

Forget the irony of a song complaining about never wanting to be a pop singer hitting #15 on the Pop charts, this song can’t bother to raise any decipherable emotion about what it’s complaining about. Hence you get a chorus of Pop singer, writing of pop song. Someone call the Cougar a waaaaambulance.

14. Guns ‘N’ Roses – Patience

Don’t let the acoustic guitars and whistling fool you. Axl Rose is a homophobic racist, who needs way more therapy than patience. Actually we need patience to deal with that mouthbreather.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

ML – Misheard Lyrics

STA – Second Time Around

The World of Disposable Emotion

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School’s out. Freedom. Pile in the car, turn up the radio and drive fast. And if you’re like me, you might have been playing some of these songs loudly from the June 17th, 1989 countdown.

40. Once Bitten Twice Shy – Great White

NAOHW – Here’s a rock band that had been around since the late 70s and finally broke through to the Pop charts in 1989 with an Ian Hunter cover from their fourth album, …Twice Shy. [Personally, I like the Shaun Cassidy version better.] They had another Top 40 hit and should have just faded out into the 80s rock reunion scene.

But on February 20, 2003, at a nightclub called The Station in Warwick, Rhode Island, pyrotechnics ignited acoustic foam during a song on both sides of the stage. Within six minutes, the club was engulfed in black smoke. 100 people died, including Great White’s guitarist Ty Longley, and a local DJ, Mike “The Doctor” Gonsalves who was the show’s MC. Over 200 were injured, many significantly. You can read many different accounts of that night as well as various documentaries on the subject. There’s also a video of it happening {watch at your own risk] as a local news station was present that night to film a piece on nightclub safety. The reporter was Jeffrey Derderian, part owner of the club.

No one should die going to a rock concert.

39. Down Boys –  Warrant

The cherry pie guys of “hair metal” or mediocre rock served up in an MTV dress, you decide. Wikipedia says it’s “one of the toughest, heaviest songs in [Warrant’s] catalog”. If you get can through this video without laughing, you need to take life less seriously. This will eventually reach #27.

38. Send Me An Angel 89 – Real Life

STA – Real Life was an Australian New Wave two-hit wonder as their first Top 40 song Send Me An Angel hit #29 in 1984. Someone had the great idea to remix it for “89” and it hit Top 40 again getting three places higher than the original.

37. Lay Your Hands On Me – Bon Jovi

When some artists have mega-successful albums, they refuse to follow it up with another copy, for example, with Bon Jovi, it would have been Slippery When Wet 2. These guys not only did that, but they somehow made a weaker version of that album. And unfortunately, many people did not care, because they sent five songs off of New Jersey into the Top 10, including this one which is on the way up.

36. My Brave Face – Paul McCartney

I almost gave up on this countdown until I remembered there were two songs written together by Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello. Here’s the first.

This collaboration between Paul & Elvis started in 1987 as Paul was writing songs for his upcoming album, Flowers In The Dirt, which would be released in 1989. Three songs were eventually released; this one and two on Elvis’ Spike. When Elvis brought his verbose style of lyric writing and matched it Paul’s knack for pop arrangements and earworms, fans of both artists were treated to some of each’s best work.

I saw him play this on his 1990 tour in Lexington, KY, which is cool because supposedly he never played this live again on any ensuing tour.

35. So Alive – Love & Rockets

OHW – Love & Rockets? In the Top 40? What the hell is happening? How do the ashes of Bauhaus record a Top 3 song? And it’s the highest Top debut this week. But as much as this song is a classic, this one’s my L&R favorite.

34. Who Do You Give Your Love To? – Michael Morales

NAOHW – From San Antonio, TX here’s Michael Morales with a pop rocker that would break the Top 20 on its way up to a peak of #15. This was one of the first CD singles that I bought, as the record industry was already trying to crush the two-year-old cassette single format. It’s a shame that this one was disappeared into the ether, but Michael has not. He won a Best Latin Pop Album Grammy in 2001 for producing Freddy Fender’s La Musica De Baldemar Huerta.

33. Everlasting Love – Howard Jones

The lead single from HoJo’s Cross That Line LP has already peaked at #12. It would also be a #1 hit on the adult contemporary charts. I bought this a 12″ import because I could not wait for his album.

I also remember Casey doing a bit on the Casey’s Top 40 show in which he told of Howard having a hard time getting the drum programming just right. As I listen to it now I can’t imagine what the issue was as it does not sound very complicated. But I’m a not a synthgeek either.

32. Real Love – Jody Watley

The first single from Jody’s Larger Than Life album matched her Looking For A New Love chart showing which was in the Top 40 exactly two years previous – #2 Pop, #1 Soul. It’s a slice of fierce, aggressive supermodel catwalk dance music. You can imagine Linda Evangelista or Christy Turlington strutting down the runway to this [or at least, I do.]

31. Be With You – The Bangles

Borrowing the hyper drum beat from Walking On Sunshine, Be With You becomes the third Top 40 hit from the band’s Everything LP. It was co-written and sung by the drummer, Debbi Peterson whose other lead vocal appearance was on the Katrina & the Waves cover of Going Down To Liverpool.

30. Crazy About Her – Rod Stewart

Out Of Order is the only Rod Stewart album in his entire career to generate four Top singles. Actually, all four singles were Top 20 singles, with this one charting fourth. It is moving up to its inevitable #11 peak. Rod was definitely seeking out a Power Station vibe or maybe something akin to Robert Palmer’s Riptide, since he enlisted some drumming help from Tony Thompson, guitar work and songwriting by Andy Taylor and production by Bernard Edwards who also plays bass on this track,

29. Rooms On Fire –  Stevie Nicks

Stevie is back in the Top 40 with a song that will reach #16 and be quite successful overseas. In fact, it was her first solo hit to chart in the UK to reach the Top 20. The lyrics were inspired by a brief romance with her producer, Rupert Hine and its Westcoast witchiness makes it one of my favorites of hers.

28. Cuddly Toy (Feel For Me) – Roachford

OHW – This was a big favorite of mine during Summer and I wore that cassette down to the wheels. Between this and The Pasadenas, I was really digging the soul-pop that the UK was turning out. This track is the only one between #s 21 & 31 that’s on the way down, having peaked at #26 the week before.

27. Into The Night – Benny Mardones

STA – The only 80’s song to become a Top 20 hit twice in the same decade. Now Yacht Rockers have claimed this as one of their own. Why do we have such a fascination with this song? This song is creepy as fuck. And if the lyrics don’t weird you out – She’s just sixteen years old. Leave her alone, they say. – watch the video, especially if you think Benny and the song are misunderstood.

The Sirius XM 80s countdown played the re-recorded version that Benny put out after this became a hit again. Don’t know why, but thanks guys for playing an even weaker version.

26. Toy Soldiers – Martika

The former Kids Incorporated star is having another hit from her debut, and this one is on its way to #1 which it will hit in late July. My daughter recently heard this song and really likes it. I have no idea how to explain to her that it’s about cocaine addiction.

FYI – Did you know that some of the Kids Incorporated stars such as Fergie & Jennifer Love Hewitt sing background vocals?

Like Johnny would say, more to come…..

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

ML – Misheard Lyrics

STA – Second Time Around

 

Staying In The Vicnitiy

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I calculate that I had purchased roughly 40% of the songs on this June  6, 1987 countdown on 45 or 12” when they were new, although the closer we get to #1, the lower the odds that I bought it. Still, there are a few good ones still in this Top 20.

20. Heart – Alone

Songwriters Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly wrote a bunch of song together in the early 80s and decided to record them under the band name, i-Ten. On that 1983 release, the first recorded version of this song was featured. Heart got a hold of it for their Bad Animals LP and gave it some much-needed muscle with Ann Wilson’s passionate vocals and Ron Nevison dramatic production. It will eventually hit #1 for three weeks.

19. Chicago – If She Would Have Been Faithful…

Chicago continued to trade on their past with overwrought ballads like this one, although this is light years better than what was to come with Chicago 19. This is sliding down from a high of #17.

18. Jody Watley – Looking For A New Love

Jody said hasta la vista, baby to the number two spot a few weeks ago and has been tumbling ever since. But don’t worry Jody, there’s a Best New Artist Grammy awaiting you next year.

17. Kenny G – Songbird

This is the song that crossed Kenny over from R&B fusion to quiet storm pop, making him millions in the process but accruing heaps of scorn from jazz artists and fans alike. Alan Hunter on the Big 80s countdown mentions that this is the first instrumental to hit the Top 40 since the Miami Vice Theme. I didn’t believe him, but I looked it up and sure enough, there weren’t any instrumentals in the Top 40 since then, including all of 1986.

16. Bryan Adams – Heat Of The Night

This Top Ten hit was the leadoff release from his new LP Into The Fire. He would have two more Top 40 singles from the album. None of them are very memorable or remembered or played anymore (except in Canada…CanCon.)

15. Kenny Loggins – Meet Me Half Way

Movie Kenny! From the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling flick, Over The Top, it was co-written by Giorgio Moroder. Not one of his best but it will still reach #11 in a few weeks.

14. Huey Lewis & The News – I Know What I Like

An oddball track from Huey and the guys off of Fore, but their radio popularity and momentum carried it into the Top 10 up to #9 where it was last week. When Huey sings, “I like the sound of breaking glass. And if you don’t believe me, why did you ask?” I imagine that line as a future post reply on a Nick Lowe fan club Reddit page.

13. Smokey Robinson – Just To See Her

Nuff said.

12. Glenn Medeiros – Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You

Although first recorded my George Benson for his 20/20 album, 16-year-old Hawaiian singer Glenn Medieros recorded his version after winning a local radio contest. A mainland DJ heard and brought it back to his Phoenix radio station and spread from market to market until it became a #12 hit. Gleen would have a #1 new jack hit in 1990 with She Ain’t Worth It.

11. Breakfast Club – Right On Track

OHW – Now this is a dance song. Bout damn time too – this one should fill your floor. I was definitely into this when it came out. Too bad the band, which once featured Madonna as a member, couldn’t properly follow it up. Their second single Kiss And Tell was a slow shuffler that peaked at #48. The band mostly got back togerther and put out some new material in 2016.

10. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)

The lead-off single from Whitney’s second album was the first of four number ones off of that disc and the rare dance track from her. Also someone please explain why folks, primarily women, go absolutely bonkers when this song gets played at a party? I would hold this song off at a wedding until the last few played and people would lose their shit.

9. Herb Alpert – Diamonds

Twenty-five years after his first Top 10, Herb blows his way back in, this time with help from Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson. Most people forget that this is a Herb song and that’s because Jam, Lewis & Jackson had created such an identifiable sound so quickly that anything they put their stamp on sounded like them. It also gave Herb his sixth Top 40 and first #1 on the Soul charts.

8. Fleetwood Mac – Big Love

What began as a Lindsey Buckingham solo album became Tango In The Night, Fleetwood Mac’s followup to Mirage and this was the lead single, peaking at #5. I don’t believe Stevie is even on this track and those uh-ahs are all Lindsey played at different frequencies. By the way, I always wondered what Isaac Hayes would sound like singing this track with a little hot buttered soul, so I came up with this.

7. Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive

A cowboy on a steel horse, I ride conjures up lots of images but none of them is a musician. Please work harder on your metaphors, Jon.

6. Genesis – In Too Deep

The most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. The lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I’ve heard in rock.” – Patrick Bateman, American Psycho

5. U2 – With Or Without You

The Joshua Tree is the album that turned U2 into superstars. It’s the best album in their catalog, but more importantly, this Daniel Lanois/ Brian Eno production is exceptional compared to all rock albums. Lanois/Eno figured out a way to accentuate each band member’s strength and there is not a single wasted note or second on this. It would garner the band two number ones, this being the first.

4. Chris de Burgh – The Lady In Red

NAOHW – Four of the Top five songs have been or will be number one. Except for this dud. JK. Chris supposedly wrote this as a love letter to his wife. It is quite charming that he would put himself out like this.

I’ve always wondered why they left his cracking voice on the first nobody here in the song’s chorus. Was that done to make it sound authentic or sound emotional? Or was he grossly over budget and the producer told him he was out of money and the first take was the last take?

3. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam – Head To Toe

The last time we heard Lisa Lisa she was with Cult Jam and Full Force. That’s a lot of muscle, maybe too much. Lisa gave Full Force Samantha Fox’s phone number then decamped with Cult Jam, so including Lisa, only a trio. With less of a posse, their next album was lighter and more fun, producing two number ones.

I never did understand the phrase head-to-toe. Shouldn’t it be head-to-toes? Otherwise, you’re talking about a sloth.

2. Atlantic Starr – Always

This sounds like it was written by an eleven-year-old, sponsored by Hallmark. If this was your wedding song, I’m betting it didn’t last.

1. Kim Wilde – You Keep Me Hangin’ On

NAOHW – Kim broke into the States with Kids In America in 1982, a Top 30 New Wave hit. Then nothing else ever clicked while she continued to have smashes in the UK. Then in late 1986 her version of the Supremes’ classic starting hitting number one all over Europe, eventually jumping the pond and replicating that success here. That was it for Kim as she never hit again, although she continues to record and put out fine music to date.

One of a handful of #1s to be covered and hit #1 a second time.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

ML – Misheard Lyrics

STA – Second Time Around

 

Lollipops And Everything

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If you were like me during the week of June 6, 1987, then you were voraciously listening to the radio and buying up every new 45 that was out. Because you were a Top 40 music fan and you finally had money. Unfortunately, the Top 40 was in the midst of slipping into a coma of formulaic songs from which it would never recover. As I was about to enter my last fully soaked musical Summer, there were still lots of hits I could love and share with the populous, such as:

40. Heart & Soul – T’Pau

OHW – There are six one-hit wonders (artists that made the Top 40 only once) on this countdown. Half of them have been forgotten but not this one. With a title as common as an eight-year old’s piano recital and a band named after a Star Trek villain, most folks can still hear this one on 80s classics channels, no doubt due to lead singer Carol Decker’s aggressive yet emotive vocals. It’s on its way up into the Top 5.

39. Soul City – Partland Brothers

OHW – Here’s a forgotten gem from Canadians Chris & G.P. Partland that they will move all the way up to #27. Listening to this pop duo, their vocals owed more to the Righteous Brothers than to Hall & Oates. I didn’t grab their LP, Electric Honey but I bought this 45 when it came out.

38. Europe – Rock The Night

There was a girl in my class named Jennifer who looked exactly like lead singer Joey Tempest. That’s what I think of when I hear Europe. These Swedes are doing their best to fit in with American rock cliches thus the title and the hilarious triplet bass drum fills after each chorus.

37. Restless Heart – I’ll Still Be Loving You

NAOHW – Country music stopped crossing over by 1985. I do not know why unless it was a concerted effort by Nashville. This was the only Country artist to have a Top 40 hit in the late 80s. It’s a very well constructed and sung ballad that I would be happy to play at anyone’s wedding, unlike a few others on this countdown. The next time a Country artist would cross over again would be…Restless Heart in 1993 who would have a bigger hit with When She Cries.

36. Pseudo Echo – Funkytown

OHW – I bought this band’s album Love An Adventure in late 1986 after hearing their song, Living In A Dream, which would eventually peak at #57. At that point, the album was already a year old. Around that time, they recorded a cover of Lipps Inc’s Funkytown which went #1 around the world and would hit #6 in the U.S. RCA scrambled to re-release the album with that track on it but couldn’t gain any further Stateside momentum with the band.

The reason why you never hear this on an 80s station is that if you had to play one version of Funkytown, why wouldn’t you play the original?

35. Billy Idol – Sweet Sixteen

What the hell is with this? We were all OK with a grown man singing about a marrying sixteen-year-old runaway? Someone filled in her candy brain? This is even creepier than Ringo and a kazoo.

34. Eddie Money – Endless Nights

If this song just disappeared would anyone ever notice? Even Eddie Money?

33. Bruce Hornsby & The Range – Every Little Kiss

RAR – It feels like I always hear this song in a drug store or at least in a supermarket, especially if I’m in there for a long time. No matter where or when I hear it, it makes me feel good.

This was the first single from their debut album, The Way It Is, but it only reached #72 in the Summer of 1986. It was re-released in the Spring of 1987 and would reach #14 as the third hit from that album.

32. Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al

STA – Here’s another track that missed the Top 40 on its first try but got there the second time around. So I will now dub thee songs like this STAs (Second Time Around). The first time it only hit #44, but on its re-release and due to the fact that they played the video on VH-1 every hour, it came back up and hit #23. It would be Paul’s last Top 40 hit. His landmark album, Graceland is extraordinary but it inspired a lot of crappy bands, such as Vampire Weekend.

31. Bob Seger – Shakedown

Bob finally hit #1 with the un-Seger sounding Shakedown from the Beverly Hills Cop 2 soundtrack. It was co-written with Harold Faltermeyer who performed Axel F from the first film.

30. Crowded House – Something So Strong

It’s not surprising that Crowded House had two Top 10s, this one eventfully becoming number two. It’s more surprising that they never returned to the Top 40 as they put out one great release after another. They would continue for another ten years before splitting up. The band would reunite in 2006 after drummer Paul Hester’s death for a few more releases.

29. Expose – Point Of No Return

I was not a big fan of the Latin girl group freestyle movement that seemed to take over New York radio in the late 80s. But I kinda like this one. It had been a Club hit in 1985 with a different vocalist, Alejandra Lorenzo, but was re-recorded for Expose’s debut album by Jeanette Jurado eventually reaching #5.

28. David Bowie – Day In Day Out

Man do I remember critics slamming Bowie when this album came out as if the dude is supposed to create Ziggy Stardust every time. Why couldn’t he just release a solid rock album which is what this is? It was also the end of his commercial period as it was one of his last songs to make the Top 40 falling from last week’s high of #21.

27. Poison – Talk Dirty To Me

This was the glam metal rockers first Top 40 hit eventually peaking at #9. The song is a wall of noise and the only interesting thing about it is that members of the band Kid Rockers which Poison guitarist C.C. Deville was a member of, sued Poison saying they wrote this and a few other of their crappy hit songs. And so when does Kid Rock get sued for stealing their name?

26. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Jammin’ Me

This Top 20 hit probably doesn’t get as much 80s classic play on the radio as it should. Maybe it does on classic rock stations. Petty co-wrote the lyrics with Bob Dylan supposedly picking up bits off the radio and newspaper to illustrate how the media was beginning to become overwhelming. Guess these guys were bugged by too many Lean Cuisine commercials in between reruns of 1983 SNL episodes.

25. Madonna – La Isla Bonita

Beautiful Island would become Madonna’s 11th straight Top 5 five. She was en fuente.

24. Company B – Fascinated

OHW – Ish is back and this time he’s going after some of that Expose money by forming his version of a freestyle trio of ladies featuring his wife Lori. This number one dance track is on its way up to a #21 peak.

23. The System – Don’t Disturb This Groove

OHW – If a wedding couple picked this as their first song to dance to, man I would know we were about to get down. The System put on three albums of sweet electro-funk before dialing it down a notch and crossing over to the Pop charts. When you hear Mic Murphy’s smooth vocals over David Frank’s percolating MiniMoog bass, you’re listening to a song that has been aptly named.

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

This former international number one hit is gasping for breath as it slowly slides down the charts. Must have been something I said.

21. Level 42 – Lessons In Love

NAOHW – After World Machine, I was ready for some new Level 42. So I got very excited to hear this single in 1986 and to my surprise, watched it climb into the Top 15 during the Spring of 1987. The album Running In The Family was polished even more than their previous and produced five international hits. But the band’s musical change in direction caused the Gould Brothers, Boon & Phil to leave the band at the end of the year. Even though Level 42 continues to this day, the original lineup never played or recorded together again.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

ML – Misheard Lyrics

STA – Second Time Around

The One Two Becomes

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The schizo countdown from May 29th, 1982 continues as we are bookended with McCartneys.

20. The Beatles – The Beatles Movie Medley

Capitol Records was releasing yet another compilation of Beatles songs, this one focusing on their films, called Reel Music. So they created and released this needless medley to radio of Beatles songs from films, probably cause they were jealous of Stars On 45. But including Get Back in this medley is a bit of a stretch. Of course, it’s The Beatles so it would reach #12.

19. Roberta Flack – Making Love

Roberta hadn’t been in the Top 40 since 1978’s If Ever I See You Again. She returned with another song from a movie that no one remembers. In fact for a song that would peak at #13, I would think that there would be something about it that would seem familiar to me, but it does not. The melody is barely there and although Roberta sings it beautifully, it disappears seconds after you hear it. It was written by Carole Bayer Sager & Burt Bacharach (that’s two for him in the countdown), but it has never been included in any of his compilations.

18. Dan Fogelberg – Run For The Roses

The Kentucky Derby classic, perfect to play while sipping on a mint julep as you’re wearing a stupid hat about to watch tiny people whip beautiful thoroughbreds for your entertainment.

17. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Crimson And Clover

Joan Jett is here to keep rockin’ you, this time with a harder update on a Tommy James & the Shondells hippie fever dream. Too bad the royalties went back to the mob.

16. Toto – Rosanna

It’s not about Rosanna Arquette, ok? Jesus, stop asking. Even though she was dating keyboardist Steve Porcaro at the time, it’s purely a coincidence. The reason why this song was so popular at the time, missing the top by just inches for 5 continuous weeks and continues to endure today, is because it boils Toto down to the essence of what made them a great band – tight percussive grooves, creative multilayered synth work, powerful vocals, and tasteful guitar solos.

15. Deniece Williams – It’s Gonna Take A Miracle

One of the classiest producers of Soul music, Thom Bell, works his magic on Niecy with a song first recorded by The Royalettes in 1965. Although it’s been recorded dozen of times, this is the only one to be successful on the pop charts giving DW a Top 10 hit. Not for nothing, Laura Nyro & Labelle’s version is my favorite.

14. Little River Band – Man On Your Mind

Raise your hand if you can name a Little River Band hit from the 80s. Congratulations you’re the new fan club president. Or you’re Glenn Shorrock, who wrote this song then split from the group. They would have 6 Top 40 hits and although they were good, they’re not as fondly remembered as Reminiscing or Happy Anniversary. They did get to work with George Martin, so they had that going for them.

13. Elton John – Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)

Elton’s tribute to John Lennon is another 80s ballad that has been lost in the shuffle of his myriad of hits. It would eventually hit #12 but rarely be performed live, although it’s been performed more often in the ten years or so. It took on an even eerier tone when 12-year old paperboy Johnny Gosch disappeared 4 months later in Iowa.

One of a shitton of pop songs with drums by Jeff Porcaro.

12. Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire

OHW – I’ve talked about this song before and its best movie use which was in National Lampoon’s Vacation but I love how this song and Heat of The Moment are back to back this week. Actually, those guys could swap song titles and it would still work.

11. Asia – Heat Of The Moment

The first time I heard the term supergroup was with this band, but aren’t they just a bunch of out of musicians who decided to get together and form a band. That they had success with it, was the icing on the cake and gave prog rock a presence on MTV along with a few framed album posters.

The Traveling Wilburys were a supergroup.

10. Kool & The Gang – Get Down On It

Deodato was still having some post-disco success was the boys from Jersey City and this one is at its peak this week. Another Top 10 and, while not the funkiest Kool track, it was funky for 82. The LP Something Special also had Steppin’ Out which IMO was the better track and lots more fun. [The video was not quite 70s/ not quite 80s and was most definitely not played on MTV.]

9. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Did It In A Minute

Here’s another favorite of mine  – a hit by a major artist that gets lost among the catalog even though it reaches #9, featuring some of Daryl’s best Dylan meets Duran Duran lyrics.

8. Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind

Eight of the Top Ten songs are in the same place they were last week, except for #7 and Sweet Willie who smokes his way into the Pop Top 10 for the very first time ever. Not bad for a 49-year old.

7. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me

From Country to synthpop, it’s the Human League on its way to an unlikely #1 hit. Between this and Soft Cell, you can see and hear the beginnings of the second British Invasion combined with the rise of MTV. This was the fourth single released from the 1981 LP, Dare and the Human League’s first album since the departure of Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh who’d go on to form Heaven 17.

6. Paul Davis – ‘65 Love Affair

Paul started going after some Hall & Oates money with a couple of pop songs from his Cool Night LP, first the title track and then this one. Another one from Summer Fun, Vol. 2 that my friends & I loved to make fun of. It was so damn goofy.

By the way, I understand why Paul realizes he screwed up this relationship since I’m sure there weren’t many cheerleaders into be-bop. I can’t imagine any football cheers involving Charlie Parker.

5. Ray Parker Jr. – The Other Woman

Lenny Kravitz stole his entire vocal style from Raydio-free Ray and this song.

4. Tommy Tutone – 867-5309 / Jenny

The most famous phone number in rock history which still tortures people to this day.

3. Charlene – I’ve Never Been To Me

OHW, PFK – The trainwreck that people were forced to see, I mean, hear. This died a natural death upon its release in 1977 and should have been left alone. It ended up being records by others such as Mary MacGregor and the Temptations because I guess everyone was coked out of their minds and had no judgment or reason as their disposal. Five years later it would be rebirthed from the snowblower state of America – Florida – which would have a radio station in Tampa and a DJ named Scott Shannon who was obviously high as hell and tortured his faithful listeners until they decided that if they should suffer we all should suffer.

As all of the DJs around the Country made a pact with the devil – make this a hit and give us a bag of eight-balls – we twitched and cringed until our ears bled like Harvey Korman in High Anxiety. This was released by Motown, y’all. How did it make it past those Monday meetings?

Hands down, this is one of the stupidest songs in Top 40 history, which is why it’s Perfect for Karaoke. Written by two guys that know zero about women (or men), read the lyrics and see if you can through them without laughing.

2. Rick Springfield – Don’t Talk To Strangers

Rick almost had a second number #1 until he ran into the buzzsaw known as Paul & Stevie. Let’s hear Slick Rick explain the origin of this song.

“It was to my girlfriend, who is my wife now, ’cuz I was being a bad boy on the road and I was nervous that she was doing the same thing. I never had marriage on the radar until I met Barbara. She’s the reason I’m still alive. Back then, I was scared that she was fucking around because I was doing the same thing. Strangely enough, I had originally titled ‘Jessie’s Girl’ ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ and then I came up with a better title.”*

1. Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder – Ebony & Ivory

Two legends finally team up to offer a plea of peace and all we’ve done is make fun of them. This song was #1 for 7 weeks, but ask yourself when was the last time you heard it on an 80s station. It’s a simple premise: if the black & white keys on a piano can live side by side, why can’t black and white people live in peace. Their sincerity and lack of irony are easy to mock, but seriously why do we make life so hard on each other and ourselves?

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for Karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

ML – Misheard Lyrics

Let Me Be Your Paper Man

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As the record industry was still trying to climb out of their recession, they pushed just about every genre of music onto the radio to see what would create the next big trend.  If someone asked you which music was popular in the Spring of 1982, this group of songs would contradict your every answer. Unless your answer was everything. But wow, this countdown is a jumbled mess.

On this chart, we have pop, forgotten pop hits from popular artists, forgotten pop hits from forgotten artists. We have soul, soul ballads, funk and disco past its peak date. We have country, country rock, Southern rock. We have soft rock, WestCoast, new wave. We have songs by bands that broke up in 1970. We have 80s classics and huge songs by popular artists that don’t get played in oldies rotations. We have classical, power pop and a song that failed twice in the 1970s before reaching the Top 3 this week. It’s May 29, 1982.

[Also today Cal Ripken missed the second game of a doubleheader. Tomorrow he will play again as well as the next 2,632 games in a row.]

40. Dionne Warwick & Johnny Mathis – Friends In Love

Here’s a duet from the Johnny Mathis album, Friends In Love. Wait I mean the Dionne Warwick album, Friends In Love. Oh, they both released an album this month with that title? Well, no one bought either album and this song is about to peak at #38, so….

39. The Motels – Only The Lonely

This is not a Roy Orbison cover, but an original and the first Top 40 hit for the L.A. band, The Motels. They check-in with the second debut of the week from the band’s third LP, All Four One.

38. Atlantic Starr – Circles

When this band had 9 members with lead singer, Sharon Bryant, they were turning out funky R&B like this track which is sitting at its peak. When they came around again with a new lead singer Barbara Weathers, it was on a smoother tip, first for the cheaters [Secret Lovers] then for the happily married [Always].

37. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock ‘N Roll

This former #1 with a seven-week run at the top is in its sixteenth week in the Top 40. Weird Al would peak at #106 next July with his parody, I Love Rocky Road (do they even make that anymore?).

36. Eddie Rabbitt – I Don’t Know Where To Start

Eddie really benefitted from the sudden pop crossover wave of Country music in the late 70s and early 80s. Here’s a forgotten hit Top 40 from him which topped out at #35 written by Thom Schuyler who will also co-write Love Will Turn You Around, a Top 15 hit for Kenny Rogers.

35. Kansas – Play The Game Tonight

For a band so rooted and defined by the 70s, it was amazing that they could continue to have Top 40 hits in the 80s all the way up to 1987. Maybe the ever-changing lineup gave the band new momentum because when Steve Walsh left in late 1981, Kansas’ next LP, Vinyl Confessions yielded their first big hit in years, reaching #17.

34. Ronnie Milsap – Any Day Now

How about a county song written by Burt Bacharach? This Chuck Jackson cover was one of North Carolina native Ronnie Milsap’s crossover hits in the early 80s on the way up to #14. He’d have a few more years of pop success before he went back to amassing #1s in Country, which as of today totals 35.

33. Soft Cell – Tainted Love

OHW – But oh what a hit it was. Spending an incredible 43 weeks on the Hot 100, this New Wave classic from the duo of David Ball and Mark Almond peaked at #8, the same week as Human League was synthing around at #1.

Written by the bass singer of the Four Preps, Ed Cobb, this song was first recorded by R&B singer Gloria Jones in 1964 and released as a B-side in 1965. When the Northern Soul movement took hold in England during the early 70s, this track was resurrected and played in clubs such as Wigan Casino. Gloria even re-recorded it as a disco remake in 1976. But Soft Cell’s take, originally released in July of 1981, became the definitive version. And props to SXM for playing the mash-up with Where Did Our Love Go?

32. Sheena Easton – When He Shines

As my daughter listened to this song she asked, “How come so many lovey-dovey ladies sing lovey-dovey songs?” Then she asked Alexa to play I Like It by Cardi B.

31. 38 Special – Caught Up In You

The pride of Jacksonville, FL finally broke through the pop charts and into the Top 10 with this track from their fifth LP, Special Forces. It was co-written by Survivor’s Jim Peterik who wrote many of his own band’s hits but could never come up with something this effortless and breezy with a catchy hook and a cowbell-worthy rockin’ bridge for himself.

30. Loverboy – When It’s Over

From their second album, Get Lucky comes Loverboy’s highest charting single to this point. Their third Top 40 hit reached #26.

And now for the sleazy part. Here’s the album cover. So the model wearing the red leather pants was a 13-year old girl and that is a man’s arm and hand making a “hope I get lucky” sign with his fingers. Awesome, huh? Gives new meaning to Turn Me Loose.

29. John Cougar – Hurts So Good

I’m thinking that JC doesn’t have much of a handle on relationships yet. What to make of a song like this when his big proposal is that he just wants to walk around all day long. Where does the hurts so good part come in? Does John get bunions on his feet easily?

28. Franke & The Knockouts – Without You (Not Another Lonely Night)

I love how during the Big 40 Countdown, Nina Blackwood lists all of the awesome musicians from New Jersey – Sinatra, Springsteen, Whitney, Bon Jovi – and then says add Franke & the Knockouts to that list. Are you kidding? Who writes her copy? This is one of three Top 40 hits that no one remembers from this group.

27. Simon & Garfunkel – Wake Up Little Susie

Simon & Garfunkel broke up in 1970 but periodically they would get together much to the adulation of Baby Boomers everywhere. This track is a cover of the Everly Brothers classic from their free benefit concert at Central Park in the Fall of 1981, in which almost half a million people attended. This needless and halfhearted cover netted them their last Top 40 hit together.

26. Juice Newton – Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me

This may sound like Country but Juice crossed over to the pop side so hard, she would be nominated for a Best Female Pop Vocal for this song. Another Juicy Top 10.

25. Donnie Iris- My Girl

The man that wrote the song, The Rapper for The Jaggerz [featuring no rap whatsoever] in 1970 is climbing up the charts with his third and final Top 40 hit. My Girl [I assume her name is Leah?] will peak this week.

If you wondered what Donnie & the Cruisers were doing in the late 80s, check out this song from a side project that Donnie and partner Marc Avsec created called Cellarful of Noise.

24. Dazz Band – Let It Whip

OHW – The Dazz Band played neither disco nor jazz. Discuss. But this slice of funk was an across the board smash on the pop [#5], Soul [#1] and dance charts [#2].

23. Aldo Nova – Fantasy

OHW –  Aldo Nova came out of nowhere and had a Top 10 debut album along with this track, which is sitting at it’s highest charting position. This hard-rockin’ Canadian plays almost everything on this LP and would go on to produce some 90s album tracks for Celine Dion.

22. The Charlie Daniels Band – Still In Saigon

It’s amazing that nine years after Uneasy Rider, Charlie was still racking up Top 40 hits. The man knew his audience and continues to stick to his guns. This track about Vietnam vets experiencing PTSD, formally acknowledged as shell shock, was his sixth and final Top 40.

21. Queen – Body Language

Here’s a deleted scene from the Queen bio-pic Bohemian Rhapsody

Freddie: “Hey guys that disco track from The Game that Deacy wrote was a big hit.

Rest of the Band: “But Freddie, disco’s dead.

Paul: “Freddie, the world wants you to be a disco legend.

Freddie: “We’re all disco legends. It’s time to go all-in.” Band sighs, and starts playing Body Language.

And if you decide to sing at this at a karaoke bar, you’re awesome. Send me a video, please.

KEY

OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

ML – Misheard Lyrics

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