Making Good Conversation


I’ve mentioned in a previous post about 1981 about how it just exists, or per Newman, has no feel. This countdown from October 24th, 1981 reinforces the fact. It’s not about whether the songs are good or bad, but whether they are memorable. Many of these are not. We also have not had a lot of turnover since August as at least 10 of these tracks, 25% of this countdown, was in the Top 40 two months ago.

You’re wearing out your welcome. You guys are on notice.

40. The Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed

New Wave continued to stick its out head once in a while. Don’t know how many times if any this played on that new cable channel, MTV. At the very least it is a catchy pop song written by guitarist Jane Wiedlin with Terry Hall of The Specials, who was about to leave and form Fun Boy Three. As popular as this was, it will only get up to #20.

39. The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys Medley

PD – This pointless medley has already peaked at #12. It’s currently taking up a spot that could have been given to Devo’s Working In A Coal Mine or Blue Oyster Cult’s Burning For You.

38. Diana Ross – Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

The Boss’ first release with her new label, RCA pops into the Top 40 as her last release for Motown hangs out in the Top 5. How many other artists have done that before? I don’t know. Please tell me. I’m thinking the Beatles. Maybe Charlie Rich?

37. Burton Cummings – You Saved My Soul

THW – Burton is a Canadian legend, not only as the lead singer of the Guess Who but for his lengthy solo career as well. This song was written for the movie, Melanie in which he co-starred with Glynnis O’Connor. It won a Genie (the Canadian Oscar) for Best Original Song in a movie. In the States, it became his second and final Top 40, sitting at its peak this week.

36. Moody Blues – The Voice

PD – The MBs are getting hoarse as they whisper down the charts from a high of #15. But at least they bagged a #1 album when Long Distance Voyager spent three weeks at the top during the past Summer.

35. Billy Squier – In The Dark

Bill’s second Top 40 hit has made it as far as it will go. It’s the kind of early 80s rock from an album that will sell millions in its day but will seem quaint and useless in the future.

34. Juice Newton – Queen Of Hearts

PD – Newton’s #2 smash is starting to run out of…., ummmm, gas? No. Momentum? No. Dammit. It’s not coming to me.

33. Diesel – Sausalito Summernight

OHW – Part of the mini-Dutch invasion of the early 80s featured this band whose track is thumping like a disco up to its high of #25. This uptempo pop-rocker about a ride from LA to Frisco in a piece of junk car would strike gold in Canada reaching #1.

32. Lulu – I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)

PD – This is one of two records in the countdown released by the US subsidiary label, Alfa Records. [#37 is the other.] They also released Billy & the Beaters’ I Can Take Care Of Myself, which hit #39 in June. They will fold in 1982, but Billy’s At This Moment, which has just peaked #7,9 will be purchased by Rhino Records in 1986 and make a big comeback.

31. Barry Manilow – The Old Songs

RAR – Here’s another hit that was sung but not written by Barry “I Write The Songs” Manilow. Man, the balls on that guy. This future #15 was penned by David Pomeranz and Buddy Kaye.

30. Bee Gees – He’s A Liar

How Deep Is Your Love. To Love Somebody. Stayin’ Alive. Classics all. But one of the best songs recorded by the Bee Gees is this forgotten gem from the Living Eyes LP, the follow-up to 1979’s Spirits Having Flown. Oh, how things have changed. The Gibb family was so pissed at Robert Stigwood for robbing them blind that their retribution, outside of lawsuits, was to write a song, in which they see him through a window of his house with their woman. They kill him and try to get away with her but they crash their car into his limousine at the end of the driveway, flying through the windshield, barely surviving but still as crazy as a werewolf on a full moon. This is the angriest you’ll ever hear Barry Gibb on record. Too Much Heaven, this is not.

This should have climbed higher than #30. Then again, I can’t believe it made the Top 40 at all.

29. Atlanta Rhythm Section – Alien

RAR – This is the first of two shout outs to Atlanta, a large Southern city that didn’t have much going for it since the World Of Sid & Marty Krofft closed in 1976. ARS was the only cool thing happening but they were really the boys from Doraville. Regardless, this was their final Top 40 hit, a melancholy mellow affair that is peaking this week at #29.

28. ELO – Hold On Tight

PD – By 1981, Electric Light Orchestra had shortened its name officially to ELO. Now they are known as Jeff Lynne’s ELO. So this is officially ELO’s last Top 10 hit.

27. Marty Balin – Atlanta Lady (Something About Your Love)

THW – Jesse Barish, the man who wrote Hearts and Jefferson Starship’s Count On Me, also wrote Marty’s follow-up which is at its zenith. Barish also released an album called Flute Salad in 2008.

26. Olivia Newton-John – Physical

This simple record about getting busy just would not work with a man singing it. It had to be someone “pure”, like ONJ. It would completely change her career as it would Top the charts for two and half months and be adopted by aerobics classes everywhere.

25. Foreigner –  Urgent

PD – I’ve mentioned before that Foreigner had two speeds: horndog and tender horndog. Both are on display within this Top 20.

24. The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

Rock. Check. New Wave. Check. Reggae. Sure. Punk. Why not? No one else like them? Absolutely. One of the few rock bands that did not try to squash disco but sat along beside it, which is why they melded into the burgeoning New Wave dance scene. When this hits #3, it will be their biggest hit until Synchronicity is released in 1983.

23. The Commodores – Oh No

Lionel’s last Top 10 with the Commodores, which will get there by Thanksgiving, is on the charts at the same time as Lionel’s first solo Top 10.

22. Carl Carlton – She’s A Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)

THW – Carl is so determined to describe what a bad mama jam is, I’m surprised this 45 didn’t come with pictures. Instead, it’s Carl who’s shirtless on the cover. This funk jam is peaking here and will spend eight agonizing weeks at #2 on the Soul charts behind Endless Love. Is there no justice?

21.  Foreigner – Waiting For A Girl Like You

RAR – Thomas Dolby was hired to play keyboards on Foreigner’s fourth album. For the recording of this song, he was told to create something for the intro. So he pulled out his Minimoog and created not only something romantic and ethereal but also the familiar lead lick. And a #2 smash was born.


  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • ML – Misheard Lyrics
  • PD –  Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake
  • STA – Second Time Around

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