The Music While We’re Here

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Sometimes it’s undeniable why something wasn’t a hit. Listen to some of The Other Sixty from the eighth chart week of the year in 1987, 1988, and 1989, and you’ll probably hear why.

February 28th, 1987

88. Georgio – Sexappeal

Motown Records had no idea what they were doing in the late 80s. This is third-rate Prince at its best if they couldn’t push it past #58 in a dance-heavy market, then no one could.

89. The Cover Girls – Show Me

The Cover Girls debut came at the beginning of the freestyle dance revolution. Between them and Expose, the template was three girls, drum machines, and upbeat computer-driven music with high pitched vocals. The freestyle twist was the Latin element that was inserted into the mix to give it a spicy street feel. They played songs like this on NY radio so much, I felt like my ears would split open. It should have been left in the clubs. A #44 peak.

91. Patty Smyth – Never Enough

Patty’s debut was almost another Scandal album, but they broke up while she was recording. She ended up with rob & Eric from the Hooters playing on most of the tracks with Rick Chertoff producing. That combo worked for Cyndi Lauper, but for some reason this album didn’t click at pop radio. It’s too bad because it’s a solid offering, and the first single, the title track, will only climb to #61. It was initially recorded by Baby Grand, Eric & Rob’s first band, but with some significant lyrical & musical arrangement differences.

94. Herb Alpert – Keep Your Eye On Me

Herb watched Janet Jackson’s success on his record label and said, “Damn, I want some of that for my career.” So he hired Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Janet and released his LP, Keep Your Eye On Me. The first single was the title track, a funky fusion instrumental that’s all beats, noises, and Herb farting around on the trumpet. It will see its way up to #46, his highest Top 100 showing in five years. And Diamonds is right around the corner.

97. The Venetians – So Much For Love

Here’s an obscure synth-rock band from Australia, who tried to break into the States with this track a few times. By early 1987 it finally charted but only reached #88. They broke up two years later. So much for love.

February 27th, 1988

85. Stacey Q – Don’t Make A Fool Of Yourself

This block of four songs is so light and fluffy that I better tie them to a weight, lest they float away. Stacey Q had her moment in the sun, but since she still had some of Atlantic Records money she pressed on. They were too coked out to notice anyway. Nothing ear is as catchy as Two of Hearts, and the first single, although a Top 5 dance hit, will joke around up to #66.

87. Eria Fachin – Savin’ Myself

When the intro of a song features toy keyboard sounds (and it’s not Men Without Hats), then you must immediately shut if off, especially if you’ve already gone through puberty. This song is not for you. I don’t know who it’s for. I guess anyone who wants to “save themself” for the right “guy,” so they can be married and divorced before their 30. This lightweight dance track will hit its zenith at #50.

89. David Foster – Winter Games

Anyone remember this theme outside maybe Dan Jansen’s mom or Hidy & Howdy. If we were going to do an 80s musical parody, this is what we would be making fun of. They actually released this as a single, and it skated up to #85 before falling.

93. Bardeux – Magic Carpet Ride

No, this is not a Steppenwolf remake. I wish it was that good. This is what happens when you photocopy Stacey Q three times. The track is virtually see-through, as in I can see an A&R guy laughing his head off with his coke dealer, showing him a copy of Billboard the week this song peaked at #81.

February 25th, 1989

81. The Fixx – Driven Out

I’m not sure why The Fixx has such sporadic success. How does a song like Secret Separation become a Top 20 and a single like Driven Out, which is just as good if not better peter out at #55 even as it becomes a #1 record at rock radio? They’ll have another Top 40 single in 1991 with How Much Is Enough? but that will be it for them.

91. Ivan Neville – Falling Out Of Love

Ivan Neville’s debut sounds like it was recorded for a Tom Cruise movie sequence where he stares off into the distance after screwing up yet another relationship. So he gets into his car, hits the steering wheel a few times, and drives through the desert with his hand on his head. This “duet” with Bonnie Raitt is debuting at its peak.

93. Kiara & Shanice Wilson – This Time

This is listed as a duet, but Kiara is two people, so really, this is a three-way. That’s the most interesting thing I can say about this ballad. It will hit #2 on the R&B charts as it crosses over to #78 Pop showing. Shanice is gonna love your smile in 1992, so keep brushing your teeth.

94. Gina Go-Go – I Can’t Face the Fact

If you’re looking for some barely memorable easy dance-pop with house music influences, then you are in the right place my friend. This one did the sprinkler up to #78 before getting kicked of the Club MTV tour.

Fun fact: Gina co-wrote What Comes Naturally, a Top 20 hit for Sheena Easton in 1991 and Downtown for SWV, the B-side to Right Here (Human Nature Remix).

97. The Pasadenas – Tribute (Right On)

Here’s a track that jumped out of your radio speakers, even though I think that the first time I heard was on VH-1. Produced by Pete Wingfield, it’s a funky organic groove with soulful harmonies on top as they pay tribute to Soul greats of the pasts. It may have been too strange for radio in 1989 as you couldn’t transition in and out of it (their thinking, not mine). Five years later, it would have worked perfectly. It was a Top 10 in the UK and on the US Soul charts, but only #52 pop.

Hear Time Slipping Away

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There’s a lot of New Wave and wannabes entering the annals of The Other Sixty during the eighth chart week of 1984, 1985 & 1986.

February 24th, 1984

87. Jeffrey Osborne – We’re Going All The Way

Jeff-O had a better solo career than his formed band LTD had. I’ve always been into the uptempo soul tracks he’s put out, but the ballads always seemed to be geared towards a first dance at a wedding. This won’t be as popular as On the Wings Of Love and will only go all the way to #48.

88. Thomas Dolby – Hyperactive

It’s incredible that a man this talented has only produced one hit on his own and is mostly unknown by audiences. This single, the first release from 1983’s The Flat Earth, was originally written for Michael Jackson, is a great little slice of frothy, frenetic New Wave pop, which will only spaz out up to #62.

Fun fact: Dolby played keyboards on Def Leppard’s Pyromania album

90. Tiggi Clay – Flashes

This is a very fun song, released on the Motown rock subsidiary Morocco Records. To pretend this was a New Wave outfit, the record company went to great lengths to hide the identities of the band and even had singer Fizzy Qwick use a fake British accent, just like they did with Rockwell. Unlike his success, this one will flare out at #86.

93. Eddie Money – Club Michelle

Eddie is wandering into the New Wave rock world, which is going to mean two things will happen. He will scare away all of his two-tickets-to-paradise fans, and he will creep out any young New Wavers who wondered who let the old dude in. The club will get raided by the Feds and close down at #66.

February 23rd, 1985

70. Santana – Say It Again

Santana and drum machines don’t mix. Music like this will bury him in the public concsious and label him an oldies act until his 1999 resurrection. That said, this still climbed all the way to #46, but I don’t know why. Greg Walker provides the lead vocals.

92. The Vels – Look My Way

The Vels were a well-known New Wave trio on the Philly scene during the early 80s. When they signed a record deal with Mercury, they got to record their debut in the Bahamas, where the Tom Tom Club recorded theirs. Their lo-fi sound still produced their one chart hit – a quirky dance-pop number that will skate to #72.

95. Go West – We Close Our Eyes

Damn, this one gets my blood pumping. This synth-heavy in-your-face pop song is quintessential 80s material. The fact that it did not reach the Top 40 is baffling as it blinked up to #41. Somehow radio preferred Survivor’s The Search Is Over instead?!? The duo of Cox & Drummie would get their big hit in 1990 with King of Wishful Thinking. You can enjoy this as an add on.

March 1, 1986

88. John Cafferty – Hearts On Fire

Holy crap. The intro to this is hilarious. Actually, the entire Rocky IV soundtrack is one dramatic musical cliche after another. JC pulled an Estefan and kicked his band off of the credits, and karma made sure this single would fizzle out at #76.

92. Laura Branigan – I Found Someone

Laura gives this Michael Bolton-penned track a test ride before Cher stamps her Cher spray all over it. Laura will only find two more notches before topping out at #90.

93. Pointer Sisters – Twist My Arm

It’s not it’s a bad song. It’s just strange to see them move so far into the dance category that they forgot they had a Pop & Soul fanbase. That would explain their #83 pop & #61 Soul showings and rise to #15 on the Dance charts.

94. Anne Murray – Now And Forever (You And Me)

Ok we’d like to have the bridge and groom up her on the floor for their first dance as newlyweds. Here’s a song they will come to realize was a poor choice in a few years. So saith the DJ. The love will end at #92 and be Anne’s last Hot 100 entry. It will also be her final #1 Country hit.

95. Synch – Where Are You Now?

Synch was just an unknown Northeastern Pennsylvania gaggle of dudes with a dumb band name and a weak-ass group of songs. They recorded this and a B-side at a local mom and pop recording studio, and it got enough airplay that Columbia Records swooped in and had them record it professionally with better musicians. It charted nationally and rose to #77 before fading into obscurity until its second act in 1989.

 

 

Crazy People In the Shadows

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This list of The Other Sixty from the eighth chart week of the year has more boners than banners, but that’s what you get during the freestyle years of 1980 through 1983.

February 23rd, 1980

83. Jefferson Starship – Girl With The Hungry Eyes

I’m already creeped out by the title. Do I really need to hear Mickey Thomas sing about a hungry-eyed girl? Apparently, none of us did because this rocker only slid up to #55.

86. Crystal Gayle – It’s Like We Never Said Goodbye

Loretta Lynn’s sister is back with her shoe-length hair with a follow-up to 1979’s Top 20 smash, Half the Way. This will be Crystal’s seventh #1 on the Country chart but will wave adios at #63 on the Hot 100.

88. Rush – The Spirit Of Radio

When I think of Rush, this is the track I go to. It’s not my favorite of theirs, but by Permanent Waves, you could feel them become more radio-friendly, and it helped this single climb to #51. Those effortless switches of time signature and groove tell you all you need to know about what you’re gonna hear.

89. Starland Vocal Band – Loving You With My Eyes

Four years after Afternoon Delight reached #1, this domestic ABBA with limited talent and poor decision-making skills is still trying for a follow-up hit. This ain’t it. It will be their last chart hit crawling up to #71 just before the divorce papers were filed.

90. John Denver – Autograph

Here’s SVB’s accomplice who signed them to his Windsong label. And how far has John’s star fallen? He’s debuting below them. It’s been three years since John was in the Top 40, and this one will only take him to #52, although it will be a Top 20 AC hit.

95. Survivor – Somewhere In America

Survivor? Again? Are you fricking kidding me? It’s every week with these guys, having to write about one generic rock song after another that tanked. I’m beginning to think that Eye of the Tiger‘s success was part of an elaborate payola scam. Somehow this moved up twenty-five more spots.

February 28th, 1981

86. Badfinger – Hold On

Badfinger somehow picked up the pieces and reformed after Pete Ham’s suicide in 1975. They would release Airwaves in 1979 and Say No More in 1981. The band was never the same, but the music wasn’t that bad. This single will grasp onto #56 before it slips.

88. Melissa Manchester and Peabo Bryson – Lovers After All

Peabo’s still trying to crossover and thought he could get there with this duet, but all she & he could muster was a #54 placing. The ballad was written by Melissa along with Leon Ware

95. The Gap Band – Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)

This is a monster jam. As soon as you hear those tires squeal, you better get on the floor. But in 1981, pop radio was too scared to play something this funky and unrelenting, which explains its #84 showing. It would be the Gap Band’s first #1 R&B hit.

February 27th, 1982

85. Sneaker – Don’t Let Me In

West Coast sextet Sneaker was coming off their first Top 40 hit, More Than Just The Two Of Us, when they decided to release this rare Donald Fagen/ Walter Becker tune, written during their songwriting days at ABC Records between 1968 – 1971. Producer and ol’ Steely Dan cohort Jeff Baxter, who also plays the guitar solo, unearthed this bluesy song from the vaults. It snuck up to #63 and was their last chart entry.

FYI – Their two albums aren’t available to stream, but they are highly polished L.A. pop-rock that I suggest you seek out.

87. Larry Carlton – Sleepwalk

Here’s a dude who guitar mastery you have undoubtedly heard in one form or another. He’s all over Steely Dan’s The Royal Scam, most of Joni Mitchell’s 70s albums and every Mike Post TV theme. But as a solo jazz artist, he only appeared once on the Hot 100 with a cover of Santo & Johnny’s Sleepwalk, which reached #74.

89. Fred Parris and the Five Satins – Memories Of Days Gone By (Medley)

So you’re asking yourself, what is a 50’s doo-wop group doing on the Hot 100 in the 80s? Two reasons – our brief infatuation with revitalizing pre-British Invasion artists and the sudden medley craze. This is why we have this 45, which will doobie-wah on up to #71.

February 26th, 1983

65. Dionne Warwick – Take The Short Way Home

The incognito Bee Gees stamp their sound into Dionne’s catalogue with the Heartbreaker album. This should have definitely been another hit. All the Gibb elements are there – whispery voices, funky groove with horns, a couple of time changes – but it will stall out at #41.

77. J. Geils Band – Land Of A Thousand Dances

The J. Geils band followed up their massively successful Freeze Frame LP with a Gold-certified live album from the Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI called Showtime. They’ve already a Top 40 hit with their concert version of I Do last year. As the second single they released this 60s classic that most know from the wicked Wilson Pickett. It will do the monkey up to #60 and will be the last chart single for the band with Peter Wolf on lead vocals.

83. Toni Basil – Shoppin’ From A To Z

It was always going to be hard to follow-up a hit like Mickey, mainly because no one thought it would be a smash, to begin with. Having a novelty song that lists different things you’re buying at a mall in alphabetical order isn’t gonna get the job done. This was lucky to even reach #77.

89. Gentle Persuasion – Please Mr. Postman

Now we have a trio of ladies who released an album in 1978 that went nowhere and subsequently released singles hoping one would hit. This was the best they could do – an out-of-step cover of the Marvelettes classic that will reach #82.

90. Yaz – Only You

Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode after one album and formed this synth duo with vocalist Alison Moyet. Both albums are filled with New Wave classic, but this one may be their most enduring. The world wasn’t ready for it in early 83, so it only climbed to #67. Alison would go on to a successful solo career as Vince formed another duo, Erasure, to cement his legendary status.

 

When Dreams Don’t Become Their People

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Let’s finish out the seventh chart week with The Other Sixty from 1986, 1987, 1988 & 1989.

February 22, 1986

93. Dokken- In My Dreams

This is the second of three Hot 100 charting single for the “metal” band named after its leader, Don Dokken. None of them made the Top 40, with this one clipping out at #77. In 1991 a group of Mouseketeers formed The Party had a #34 hit with a dance-pop cover version of this song

February 21, 1987

83. Survivor – How Much Love

I feel like I write about this band every week down here, middling around in the Other Sixty. I took a look at their chart history, and it looks they had more misses than hits – 8 Top 40s, 10 Other Sixtys – then a few Bubbling under and a handful of non-charting singles. When you bland rockers like this one, which sounds like they’re ripping off their own hits, you know why.

88. Gregory Abbott – I Got The Feelin’ (It’s Over)

It is, Greg. At #56. You’re a one-hit-wonder. At least your one hit went to #1. Now go shake someone down.

Fun fact: Greg married and divorced Fred Payne in the late 70s. How do you do that to Miss Band of Gold?

92. Ratt – Dance

Glam metal bands should never write a song called dance. Have you seen your fans? They don’t dance. They only move the top half of their bodies. No foot action at all. This will mildly headbang up to #59.

Fun fact: Juan Croucier and Bobby Blotzer got their start in a band with Don Dokken in the late 70s.

93. Pointer Sisters – All I Know Is The Way I Feel

No one was interested in a ballad from the Pointers in 1987, not after their string of upbeat pop hits. Which is why this single debuts at its peak. Still, they gave us this. So thank you, ladies.

96. Mel & Kim – Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)

The Stock Aiken Waterman machine crashes the Chicago house music party teaming up two sisters for a #1 dance track. It will top out at #76 and will be their only US chart hit, although I personally like the follow-up Respectable better. Also, the title sounds like my dad trying to use cool lingo and ends up sounding like a moron. Or this guy.

February 20th, 1988

80. Heart – I Want You So Bad

This was the fourth single from 1987’s Bad Animals. It’s another ballad that doesn’t have the same power as Alone, even though the same folks wrote it, but it’s fine on its own. It’ll lose interest at #49.

89. Pepsi & Shirlie – All Right Now

Pepsi & Shirlie were background singers for Wham! before they decided to pursue their own career. If you enjoyed the original by Free, then don’t listen to this. You will be thoroughly annoyed. This 45 will jitterbug up to #66.

91. So – Are You Sure?

So close, yet so far. This single from the British duo of Mark Long & Marcus Bell, on hiatus from their band The Opposition, just missed the Top 40, peaking at #41. Yes, I just checked. They played this track on WDRE, so I bought the 45 and later found the CD in the cutout bin. It had a few good tracks on it, but this one was the best. Yes.

February 18th, 1989

92. Cheap Trick – Never Had a Lot To Lose

The Tricksters of Thrift were milking their 1988 LP, Lap Of Luxury, for all it was worth. Why not? It had already provided them with three Top 40 hits, and they were gunning for a fourth. This sputtered out at #75, but it may well be the best song on the album.

93. Love And Money – Halleluiah Man

Yes. Yes. Yes! I was already an L&M fan with their 1986 Prefab Sprout meets Chic debut. But this one just hit me hard. Moody and slick and produced by Steely Dan’s old producer, Gary Katz, it is one of my favorite pop albums of all time. Jeff Porcaro plays the drums throughout. Rick Derringer, Blue Lou Marini, and Timothy B Schmit guest on a few tracks. Fagen plays on something, but because it’s uncredited, I’m not sure which song. That this song even made it to #76 is a minor miracle considering all the crap it had to fight against. The album is out of print and unavailable to stream, so look out for a copy at your local used CD store.

95. When In Rome – Heaven Knows

When In Rome wrote a catchy self-help song called The Promise. It was a Top 20 hit. The rest of their debut album was built around already used New Order riffs, and third rate Depeche Mode sounds. Thus their follow-up single is already peaking in its first week. Maybe it didn’t sound the way they planned it to be.

 

Don’t Know How I Got Here

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Here we have an eclectic mix of well-known artists racking up songs from The Other Sixty during the seventh chart week from 1982 up to 1985. They can’t all be winners.

February 20th, 1982

84. George Benson – Never Give Up On A Good Thing

George continues his quest to rule the jazz department of R&B with another single from the George Benson Collection. It’s equal parts soul, jazz, funk, and West Coast smooth. Even though it will be a Top 20 Soul & UK hit, it will give up at #52 Pop.

85. George Duke – Shine On

And now we have keyboard whiz George Duke, who honed his chops playing with Cannonball Adderley and Frank Zappa. He moved into the fusion arena by the late 70s with a series of P-funk inspired albums and broke through on the Pop charts in 1981 with Sweet Baby, his collaboration with Stanley Clarke. He continued to smooth out his sound with this slab of disco-funk, which just missed the Top 40, peaking at #41.

86. Barbra Streisand – Memory

A hit musical. Babs. Peaks at #52. Meanwhile, Barry Manilow will cover it and make the Top 40 in early 1983. Now that’s the stale cold smell of morning.

90. Survivor – Summer Nights

This midwestern quintet led by Dave Bickler captured a Top 40 hit in 1981 called Poor Man’s Son. This is their follow-up, and even though the summer nights are long, the fun was over at #62. They had yet to acquire the ey of the tiger or even the balls of a frog.

93. Chubby Checker – Running

Chubby’s got his first chart single since 1969 from his first album in eleven years called The Change Has Come. I guess he figured if Gary US Bonds could have a comeback, so could he. He would eventually in 1988 doing a rap version of The Twist, but not with this recording whose effort was worthy but possibly ill-timed. It will lose its breath at #91

February 19th, 1983

78. Marty Balin – What Love Is

Martin had a few Top 40 hits from debut Balin in 1981. The follow-up, however, sank like a stone, as this single tops out #63. Balin’s next project would be to get together with former bandmates Paul Kantner & Jack Cassidy in 1986. That’s an-Other Sixty in the making.

79. The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go

How in the hell did this song get kept out of the Top 40, only to peak at #50? And this was its second chart run. We allowed Bryan Adams and Barry Manilow to prosper over this classic? I can’t tell you how many bands I was a part of that played this song. It’s a perfect calibrator of the talent you have at hand, which you can evaluate by how you sound playing it.

February 18th, 1984

88. T.G. Sheppard with Clint Eastwood – Make My Day

Believe it or not, it wasn’t until Clint Eastwood’s fourth Dirty Harry movie when he uttered the line, “Go ahead. Make my day.” The film was released to theatres in December 1983. Two months later, TG delivers this Country parody, which will be his last Hot 100 entry and will punk out at #62. It’s not as dumb as you think it would be, but it ain’t Cole Porter either.

90. Roger Daltrey – Walking In My Sleep

Roger, as a solo performer, is a one-hit-wonder in the States. That’s not from a lack of trying, just bad timing and poor promotion. What the hell was Atlantic Records doing in the 80s? This one will go back to bed at #62. Michael Brecker plays the sax solo.

Fun fact: This video was played a lot on MTV at the time, and it featured singer Ian Dury as a boxing manager or promoter or someone about to lose a lot of money watching Roger get his ass kicked.

February 16, 1985

80. Isley, Jasper, Isley – Kiss And Tell

The Isley Brothers train was running so well in the 70s, you knew at some point it would derail. The crash came in 1984 when two Isleys, Ernie & Marvin, took cousin Jasper and formed their own band. Their first album is a bit of synth-funk mess, which is where this first single comes in and why it died at #52. To be fair, the Isley Brothers’ first album as a trio again, Masterpiece, was far from it.

84. The Alan Parsons Project – Let’s Talk About Me

This single was from Vulture Culture, APP’s second 1984 album release. A great song with nowhere to go on the charts, sung by Pilot’s David Paton, which will fizzle out at #56.

Fun fact: The spoken word commentary was done by Lee Abrams, who would go on to found another culture of vulture, XM Satellite Radio.

87. Steve Miller Band – Bongo Bongo

There were many 60s & 70s rockers that had a hard time adjusting to the New Wave era of the 80s. Steve hit #1 in 1982 with Abracadabra. Then he released this pile of coked-out trash. It sounds like he bought a Synclavier, and someone recorded him trying to learn how to play it. Then the engineer said, “Great. That’s a single. What do these stupid kids know?” It would flame out at #84.

New York City – Still #1 In My Heart

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Let’s kick off the seventh chart week from the decade of greed by looking at The Other Sixty from 1980 and 1981.

February 16, 1980

73. Jim Kirk and the TM Singers – Voice Of Freedom

We start off with a really bizarre one. You may not know who Jim Kirk is, but if you listened to American Top 40, you might recognize some of the jingle work he produced, including Shuckatoom. In 1980 frustrated with how our country had been torn apart, he decided to do substantial, pull everyone together, which meant all the white folks he knew and record this song. It will climb two more notches before getting kicked off the charts.

If you want to experience it in all its 70s/80s glory, watch this clip of Jim and pals on the Dinah Shore show with Isaac Hayes, Fernando Lamas and Herve Villechaize chilling on set watching in disbelief,

77. Foreigner – Women

From the album Head Games, which features a cheaply dressed forlorn young female on the cover sitting on a urinal wiping a bathroom wall with toilet paper, comes their third single, which missed the Top 40 by one notch. If you want to know what kind of women Foreigner likes to write about, here’s a short list: women behind bars, women with no dress, women who need a shove, women that stab you in the back. Somebody has mommy issues.

85. The Romantics – What I Like About You

Here’s a question. Is it only a hit if it makes the Top 40? This can be discussed until the end of time. It’s interesting how a song can take a long time to resonate with a crowd. Case in point: this Detroit quartet took this single only up to #49 in 1980. But when was the last time you made it through a baseball game without hearing it play?

Fun fact: This song did reach the Top 40 in 1989 in a cover by Michael Morales, and still folks only remember the Romantics version.

88. John Cougar – Small Paradise

Johnny finally broke into the Top 40 in late 1979 with I Need A Lover. This is the follow-up, which will top out one notch higher. Hurts So Good is only two years away.

89. The Rockets – Desire

From the ashes of the Detroit Wheels comes this sextet who will break through in 1979 with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well. This was the lead single from their fourth LP, No Ballads, and features organ by Lee Michaels. It will shoot up to #70 before losing its will.

Fun fact: Founder and songwriter John “Bee” Badanjek played drums for the Rockets and the Romantics.

91. Roberta Flack with Donny Hathaway – You Are My Heaven

Donny Hathaway was a world class soul singer. He was also a paranoid schizophrenic. After an aborted recording session for another duet album with Roberta Flack, Donny jumped off the balcony from his suite at the Essex Hotel to his death. One year later, Roberta released this single, one of two finished recording duets, written by Stevie Wonder & Eric Mercury. It will rise up to #47 and #8 on the Soul charts.

February 21, 1981

83. Joel Diamond – Theme From Raging Bull (Cavalleria Rusticana)

I’ve seen Raging Bull several times. I didn’t know there was a theme. I couldn’t hum it if you banged my head against a jail cell wall. People forget that at the beginning, when the film was released, it barely made back its budget and received mixed reviews. Once the Academy Awards got involved a few months later, people started taking a different look at the movie. DeNiro would win a Best Actor Oscar. Motown Records got excited and released this single, but it would get knocked out at #82. It coulda been a contender.

86. The Johnny Average Band – Ch Ch Cherie

Here’s a band that was built around two singers – Johnny Average and Nicki Wills. She sings lead on this proto-New Wave pop rock track that stuttered its way to #53. And then the band disappeared.

87. Jimmy Buffett – It’s My Job

Here we are at Jimmy’s tenth Gulf & Western album, Coconut Telegraph. The first single released was written by Mac McAnally, a singer-songwriter who would eventually join the Coral Reefer band as well as be awarded Musician of The Year by the CMAs every year from 2008 to 2018. This will peak at #57 and be Buffet’s last chart hit until 2003. It also features backing vocals by J.D. Souther.

88. Night – Love On The Airwaves

Night had two Top 20 hits in 1979 that I bet you have no recollection of, as they have been forgotten in history. So I know you will not remember this single released from the second album, Long Distance, which peaked at #87. After the failure of the album and single, Lead singer Chris Thompson would go back to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, and guitarist Robbie McIntosh would join the Pretenders.

89. Phoebe Snow – Games

In 1980 Phoebe left Columbia Records and signed with Mirage for her new album, Rock Away. She recorded most of the tracks with members of Billy Joel’s band. But for this single which peaked just outside the box at #46, she was backed by the Section.

90. T.S. Monk – Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)

I have always loved this disco-funk tribute to New York, led by Thelonious Monk, Jr., son of Monk. I had no idea one of the co-writers was the same dude that gave us this. But then it made sense that the other writer was the one who gave us this. The champagne will be popped at #90 but will get flat by #63.

Fun fact: The intro to Bon Bon Vie was sampled as the intro to this Public Enemy track.

 

The Dark of a Vision

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Let’s tackle The Other Sixty from the other half of the 1980s: 1985 up to 1989.

February 9th, 1985

78. Toto – Holyanna

Toto starts us off with another single from the Isolation LP. Written by David Paich & Jeff Porcaro, Uncle Dave sings about his worries about a young wild child. It will stall at #71.

85. Roman Holliday – One Foot In Your Back Door

Here’s a British quintet who added a little swing to their New Wave rock. It garnered them three Hot 100 singles but no Top 40s. This one is their final, and it will peak at #76. Not sure if the band realized that their title was a euphemism for kicking someone’s ass or not.

89. Bruce Cockburn – If I Had a Rocket Launcher

Bruce was wondering where the lions were in 1980 and it took another four albums before he’d get another US chart entry. This was his most overtly political song, a rallying to cry for us to stop the nuclear crisis. Cause if it were up to him, some son of a bitch would die. It will only move up one more notch but will get lots of airplay on rock radio.

February 15th, 1986

73. Pat Benatar – Le Bel Age

This single is the follow-up to Pat’s #28 hit, Sex As A Weapon. It will lose its interest and have a cigarette at Cinquante-quatre before getting on a Vespa and leaving town.

88. Alan Parsons Project – Stereotomy

Stereotomy is defined as the technique of cutting solids, as stones, to specified forms and dimensions. It’s also the title of the Alan Parsons Project’s ninth album and, according to the album concept, the way that famous people are ‘shaped’ by the demands of fame. The first single as the title track sung by John Miles and will get whittled down to a #81 showing.

89. Eurythmics – It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)

The Be Yourself Tonight LP was still churning out singles in early ’86. This horn-driven downtempo synth track will be another UK Top 20, but will only reach #78 stateside.

92. The Firm – All The King’s Horses

…couldn’t put Free back together again. Or Led Zeppelin. Isn’t that what this is about? This scrambled egg of a tune will bow out at #61.

96. Ray Parker, Jr. & Helen Terry – One Sunny Day/ Dueling Bikes

Poor Helen Terry. Here’s her chance to get out from under Boy George’s shadow and make her own splash. Then she finds herself stuck in this flaccid Quicksilver soundtrack duet with Ray Parker Jr., who I’m sure reminded her constantly that he wrote Ghostbusters. By the way, if you’re interested in the high drama of bicycle messengers, then this movie is for you.

98. Klymaxx – The Men All Pause

I can’t believe it took me over thirty years to get it. Climax. Menopause. Good one. This electro-funk jam bubbled under at #105 when it was released in late 1984. The re-release will reach as high at #80 but will climb to #5 on the R&B charts.

99. The Cure – In Between Days

The Cure had already racked up 7 Top 40 hits in the UK when they finally charted here in the US. Sadly it’s already at is peak. I never bought into the myth that if you liked the Cure, you were into goth. Their stuff isn’t as dour and dark as they were made out to be. I thought they wrote quirky pop songs sung by a dude with a unique voice.

February 14th, 1987

84. Sammy Hagar – Winner Takes It All

Sammy tries to get into the soundtrack game with a single from the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling movie. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds…all around. It was the red rockers’ first solo release since joining Van Halen, but it didn’t give him any juice as it stalled at #54.

94. Kansas – Power

This was not your older brother’s Kansas. Any fiddling you might have heard was left to a professional orchestra, and the lack of riffs or instrumentation was made up for by layers of reverb. Thus Power amounts to very little, and the coup d’etat happens at #84.

February 13th, 1988

79. Earth, Wind & Fire – Thinking Of You

I was still into EWF and bought the Touch The World LP, which included this, the second single from the album. I’ve always had a fondness for this song, which has been hard to explain. Maybe it was Maurice’s smooth voice piercing through a faintly Asian keyboard riff painted over a melancholy mid-tempo arrangement. It could have been the convex of old school vs. contemporary soul, even as the kalimba had been replaced by a Fairlight. Maybe it just cut through everything else for me at the time and hit me in the heart. That’s what great music does. It will only peak at #67, but reach #3 on the Soul charts and #1 on the Dance charts.

80. Whitesnake – Give Me All Your Love

Hey guys, it’s Dick Knobbs, your A&R rep. We’d like to release another single from your album. Do you think you can get Tawny to be in the video again.

Hey, Knobbs. We don’t need that bird to sell records. We can have hits without her.

It will flatline at #48.

Fun fact: The guitar solo for the single release was re-recorded by a new member, Vivian Campbell, who would go on join Def Leppard in 1992.

81. Steve Winwood – Talking Back To The Night

Originally this was the title track to Steve’s third solo album in 1982. It was remixed in 1987 for the compilation, Chronicles, and was released as a follow-up to Valerie, a surprise hit. It will jabber up to #57, sell a few bottles of Michelob and then piss off.

93. Tommy Shaw – Ever Since The World Began

Tommy hooked up with Terry Thomas, founding member of the band, Charlie, to produce a milk dud that wasn’t even worthy of the cut-out bin. Case in point: the opening single was written by two members of Survivor who didn’t even think it was good enough for them to record. It still made it up to #75, most likely due to the radio requests from the Anti-Dennis DeYoung Fan Club.

February 11th, 1989

82. New Edition – Can You Stand The Rain

Here’s the third single from the Jimmy Jam/ Terry Lewis-produced album Heart Break. It too will miss the Top 40, getting all wet at #44. It will be their fourth #1 on the Soul charts. I was stunned that they didn’t have more pop hits from this album as its a solid collection.

Fun fact: Four guys from Philly heard this album and were inspired enough to name themselves after the last song on the album. They would also cover this tune in 1997.

83. Traveling Wilburys – End Of The Line

The supergroup. There was nothing that ever came close. And they got Roy Orbison at the very end of his life, as he would pass away in December 1988. This prophetic single will make its final stop at #63.

96. Tracie Spencer – Imagine

No one should be subjected to listening to a twelve-year-old sing this song, especially when you know there’s no understanding of the content. Thankfully we kicked it to the curb, but it still somehow reached #85. That’s still too high.

Hauling Your Love Around

bss

It’s a lighter chart list, which is why I’m presenting The Other Sixty from the sixth chart week from 1980 through 1984.

February 9th, 1980

85. David Gates – Where Does The Lovin’ Go?

Before we even hit the greed decade, Bread was a punchline, a stale one at that. No amount of hot girls, fast cars, or satin jackets was gonna turn that around. David and the guys had a good run, a comeback, and a solo career all within the 70s. Take pride, dear David, that this had any energy to make it up to #46.

87. Willie Nelson – My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Willie is a legend. So any songs that failed to become Top 40 hits can’t be deemed as failures, just part of the story. At this point, he was starting his fourth decade in the music industry. This track from The Electric Horsemen soundtrack will peak at #44 and will be a #1 Country hit. Willie will light it up with another soundtrack hit later in the year.

89. Narada Michael Walden – I Should Loved Ya

Before he became a big R&B producer for legends such as Whitney & Aretha, Narada was just a singer, songwriter, drummer just to make it in the disco world. This is his second crossover chart hit from his third LP, Awakening, and will rise to #66. It will become a Top 10 Soul & Disco hit as well as #8 in the UK.

90. April Wine – I Like To Rock

Like to rock? Maybe if you loved it, you’d have a few more hits. As such, this won’t go past #86 or #75 in your home country of Canada. And they have CanCon. Hope you like that.

February 14th, 1981

82. Doobie Brothers – Keep This Train A-Rollin’

An ironic title, because this is where the wheels start coming off. The third single from One Step Closer will make its last stop at #62. And that’s where Michael McDonald gets off and transfers to another line.

85. The Spinners – Yesterday Once More / Nothing Remains the Same

The Spinners continued to ride out the disco medley until they ran it into the ground. Which is where we are today with this track that will only climb to #52. Can’t hold it against them because their catalog is so strong.

90. The Joe Chemay Band – Proud

Joe Chemay is a bass player and singer who performed on 70s albums by Elton John, Leon Russell, and Pink Floyd. He recorded a one-off album under the Joe Chemay band called The Riper The Finer, featuring a robust collection of West Coast pop-rock, such as this single, which rides its deadly sin up to #68.

February 13th, 1982

88. Sugarhill Gang – Apache

Let’s pretend for a moment that no one making this record had any idea that they were offensive to Native Americans, which is difficult. There’s a reason why this song has been constantly covered and sampled. It’s just so damn funky. I don’t mean the Shadows’ original. Everyone uses the Incredible Bongo Band’s version as the template. The first hip-hop take on this classic will hit #53.

89. Kool and the Gang – Steppin’ Out

Kool and his NJ buddies had a boatload of hits in the 80s. While this was nont one of them, I prefer to hear it over most of the other stuff. It’s got a mellow pre=Staurday night feel to it, a tinge of jazz amidst the disco, a vibe of melancholy surrounding the promise of getting down. When I heard Super DB’s Kool Funk, I wondered if this was the song they were channeling. It will not rise any higher than its debut.

February 12th, 1983

76. Ric Ocasek – Something To Grab For

In between The Cars’ albums, Shake It Up, and Heartbeat City comes Ric’s first solo album, Beatitude. This single didn’t stray too much from his band’s sound, which is why it was probably chosen. That said, it will drive up to and park at #47.

79. Robert John – Bread And Butter

Here’s everyone’s favorite math teacher, Robert John. Dude, we do not need a new version of this song, especially with a sub-Paul Davis arrangement. Please go back to laying bricks. This was released on Motown, y’all!

87. Felony – The Fanatic

Here’s a band the was started by two pairs of brothers in the early 70s and by the early 80s was a completely different outfit. They recorded this frenetic single in 1982, and it got them some notice in Los Angeles, enough to be included on the soundtrack to Valley Girl. This coke-addled New Wave rocker just missed the Top 40 peaking at #42.

February 11th, 1984

81. April Wine – This Could Be The Right One

Could be, but it’s not. Would you like another glass of April Wine? Guess you know where this isn’t going. Anywhere higher than #58.

87. Cheryl Lynn – Encore

Cheryl’s trying to get back in the game, hooking up with Jimmy Jam & Terry LEis for her album, Preppie and this single, which will hit #1 on the Soul charts (the producers’ first), but only #69 Pop. It’s still an excellent midtempo jam, although I could do without the fake audience cheering at the end.

89. Patti Austin – It’s Gonna Be Special

Here’s a soundtrack single from the movie Two Of A Kind. It has such a stereotypical 80s film vibe that you can imagine the fun frolicking neon montage that would accompany it. The special will be removed from the menu at #82.

90. Bette Midler – Beast Of Burden

This was back when Bette was still fun before all of those cloying ballads that she became famous for. Here she converts a five-year-old  Stones hit into a trashy camp fest. I would expect this to go over well at a drag show, and that’s a compliment. This will flame out at #71.

94. Blue Oyster Cult – Shooting Shark

BOC had moved far away from the cowbells of 76 and into dramatic 80s overproduction by the time of 1983’s The Revölution by Night. They were shedding band members and trying to stay relevant and every now and then would produce something unusual like this single whose lyrics were inspired by a Patti Smith poem. It will need a bigger boat as it will only reach #83 before it sinks.
95. Mink DeVille – Each Word’s a Beat of My Heart

Here’s a group that got lumped in with the punk bands of the 70s because they were a house band at CBGB’s, but they also mixed in a lot of 50s soul, Latin rock, and cabaret flair into their live act. By 1983’s Where Angels Fear to Tread, they had boiled a lot of these elements down to fit within a New Wave mold while still remaining true to their sound. It’s still puzzling to me why this single was not more popular as it topped out at #89.

96. The Dazz Band – Joystick

Get out your breakdancing sheet of cardboard. Here’s some electro-funk from the folks that like to let it whip. Unfortunately this joystick will freeze up at #61.

 

Believe What You Want To Believe

tp

I thought I’d get one more of these in before I would start to repeat myself. Since this countdown from February 9th, 1980 had lots of 1979 hits, I figured it would be a good excuse. It ends up being a very solid list. The first twenty are all by established artists – no one or two hit wonders in the bunch.

[Also, just a reminder, the Big 80s countdown is still ripping their info directly from Wikipedia. So if you have the time, have a little fun.]

40. Pat Benatar – Heartbreaker

This is where it begins for Pat, Top 40 wise. No one would call this punk, but it certainly has that same type of energy. And while Pat wasn’t the only woman making rock music in 1980, she was one of the best doing it, because she surrounded herself with top-notch musicians. It’ll crack its way up to #23 and became one of George Steinbrenner’s favorite songs.

39. Toto – 99

RAR – Was this song genuinely written as a tribute to George Lucas’ film THX 1138, as the band states? Or was someone in the group dating Barbara Feldon from Get Smart?

38. Stevie Wonder – Send One Your Love

RAR – Are your ferns drooping over their macrame plant holder? Perk them up with the new Stevie Wonder double LP, Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants! The album was the soundtrack to the documentary, The Secret Life Of Plants, as well as his follow-up to Songs In The Key Of Life. Thus everyone was excited to buy it, but immediately became confused by it. In retrospect, taken on its own, the album has a profound beauty and sensitivity that Stevie rarely achieved again. This single was one of his best love songs, which continues to get lost in his catalog shuffle, but one that seems custom made for FTD.

37. Kool & The Gang – Ladies Night

This track was a game-changer for this Jersey City funk outfit, as it was their first Top Pop single since 1974’s Hollywood Swinging. But more than that, it would begin a serious run of radio smashes through 1987 – 16 Top 40 hits, 10 Top 10s and a #1 single. This would also be their first hit in the UK, peaking at #9.

36. Rupert Holmes – Him

This is the first of two in the Top 40 for Rupert, an amazing feat considering that the record label that released Partners In Crime went out of business three months ago. But sometimes you can’t keep the good stuff down. This will make it up to #6 and then be left for dead by the annals of history. Until a boat, with a yacht rock flag sailed up to its pier.

Fun fact: Rupert recorded a French version for his Canadian friends called Lui, which was only available on 45.

35. Linda Ronstadt – How Do I Make You

Linda must have heard Pat and decided to up her game with this New Wave rocker. Supposedly she listened to the band Billy Thermal’s debut album, even though it never got released. Knowing a good song when she heard one, she plucked this one out, recorded it with a new band, and released it as her debut 45 from Mad Love. It will reach #10, but continually gets overlooked.

Fun fact: Nicolette Larson sings backing vocals.

34. John Stewart – Lost Her In The Sun

This was the third Top 40 hit from Bombs Away Dream Babies, but most people only remember Gold. It’s sitting at its peak this week. John has another song that he wrote in the Top 40 this week somewhere further up the chart.

33. Shalamar – The Second Time Around

Shalamar was a musical spinoff from the show Soul Train. They would take some of the good looking dancers who could sing and record some disco songs. Then Don could have them on the program to promote it. The problem was that they couldn’t get the formula right. They were on album three with their third different lineup. Fortunately for them, Howard Hewitt, Jody Watley & Jeffrey Daniel was the trio that worked, at least for the next four years. This #1 Soul & Dance smash will sashay up to #8.

Also if the second time around is gonna be better, how bad was the first time?

32. Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)

PD – I always eat all of my meat, but I have yet to receive any pudding? What am I doing wrong?

31. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Refugee

…on which Tom perfects the I dumped you. Get over it song that he would still revisit every album. I miss him. Also being a refugee isn’t a choice, so it’s not something you have to do. It’s something you’re forced to do.

30. Rufus & Chaka – Do You Love What You Feel

Rufus used to only feature Chaka Khan. Then by 1977, they received equal billing as Rufus & Chaka Khan. In 1978, Rufus recorded an album without Chaka. No one bought it. So when they hooked up for the Quincy Jones-produced Masterjam, they were now called Rufus & Chaka. When they teamed up for 1981’s Camouflage, they were then known as Rufus with Chaka Khan. At that point, we all had it, and we all jumped ship for a few years. Also, this is a wicked jam!

29. Commodores – Wonderland

We’re only six weeks into the 80s, so pop, rock, and soul still sit very comfortably together on the charts. Here’s the third single from the band’s Midnight Magic LP riding a natural high to its zenith of #25.

28. Barry Manilow – When I Wanted You

Eleven songs in and it’s all good. I don’t even mind hitting a bump like this. I can just time my time filling my wine glass with ice cubes and some Reunite. Yeah, that’s nice.

27. Kool & The Gang – Too Hot

PD – Just in time for more smooth jams, one that’s burning its way up to #5. Although it makes me wonder, why is having a relationship get too hot a bad thing? Is J.T. Taylor just being a prude? Was Nurse Diesel hiding in a closet ready to whip him when he came home?

26. Styx – Why Me

Here’s the release that got Dennis DeYoung preemptively fired from the band. He wanted another ballad to follow-up, Babe. No one else did. The record company eventually released this instead, and it rests at its peak this week. Meanwhile, Dennis continues to sing this song every day.

25. Spinners – Working My Way Back To You/ Forgive Me, Girl

PD – Did you know The Spinners were on an episode of Laverne & Shirley? As themselves? In 1983?

24. Foghat – Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was a Fool)

From their eighth album, Boogie Motel, this single slips from its high of #23. The actual Boogie Motel was a recording studio in Port Jefferson, NY out on Long Island, set inside a large 1751 Victorian house. It grew to be a live-in studio with a cafe and a bar and had Blue Oyster Cult, Zebra, and Aldo Nova as a clientele.

23. Cliff Richard – We Don’t Talk Anymore

After decades of trying, Cliff will finally have some consistent US success, starting with this Top 10 track, which uses a Polymoog as its lead synth, played by songwriter Alan Tarney. It will hit #1 in the UK (his first in 11 years) and other European countries as it climbs to #7 in the US.

22. Led Zeppelin – Fool In The Rain

This was Led Zep’s last Top 40 single, and it will inch up only more notch. Described as Bonham’s last stand, his drums are so heavy and thick throughout, especially during the samba break. Even though he gets the back into the original groove, you can tell he’s worn out. The fills get shorter, and eventually, the song runs out of gas. John will be dead within seven months from this hit, and the band as we know will be no more.

21. Neil Diamond – September Morn

RAR – A nice little train wreck. Neil’s songs are always good for one of those. On the surface, this is a soft sleepy ballad. Dig into the lyrics a little, and you find out it’s a lot more sleazy. The singer recalls his current affair with a woman that he used to know as a little girl. What the fuck, Neil? Oh wait, I see that you co-wrote this with a Frenchman. That may explain a bit of it, but I don’t ever wanna hear Heartlight again.

KEY

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

To Set Your Soul Free

 

csnyIt’s not every day that you see a group of veterans missing out on the Top 40. But the end of the 80s was tight, and after shoehorning all of the glam metal and teenybopper pop that programmers could fit on a playlist, there wasn’t room for much else. So here are The Other Sixty during the fifth chart week of the year for 1988 and 1989.

February 6th, 1988

80. Prince – Hot Thing

This funk jam was the B-side to Prince’s Top 10 single, I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man. And because it started to get its own airplay, it charted on its own, a feat once common that was all too rare by 1988. Even though it would only rise to #63, I would call this charting a success.

83. Stevie Wonder – You Will Know

Stevie had a ridiculous run of hit singles, so much so that I was shocked when this petered out at #77. The fact that the (white) country preferred Tiffany and Expose ballads over this beautiful song was probably more of a harbinger of things to come than I realized. It will be his twentieth #1 R&B smash.

84. The Kane Gang – Don’t Look Any Further

This is a cover of the Dennis Edwards Soul Top 10 from 1984, which featured Siedah garret on female vocals. Although I liked this at the time, I think it’s more because I was hoping it would generate interest in the original. You can beat that growl of Dennis’. This 45 will look no further than #64.

89. Gene Loves Jezebel – The Motion Of Love

I always like their track Desire, but by the time they got to The House OF Dolls album, which this single came from, I was getting tired of the faux-Prince shrieks. This 45 was not one of their best, but it did chart and reached #87.

Fun fact: The band was lead by twins Jay & Michael Aston. Because of a longstanding feud that goes back to the late 90s, you can either pay to see Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel or Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel.

93. Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle – Without You

I didn’t have to say it. You already knew this was the love theme to Bill Cosby’s 80s bomb, Leonard, Part 6. [insert your joke here, esp since the film didn’t have any] This song was written by Lamont Dozier. I’m sure folks thought this would be an across the board smash, but it flamed out too, only reaching #89. Peabo & Regina’s theme to Alladin would do much better.

February 4th, 1989

85. Kenny Loggins – Tell Her

If Kenny isn’t releasing a movie theme, the results can get a little dicey. On his cover of The Exciters’ Tell Him, the changing of genders just doesn’t work, even with all of the Loggins sauce that he pours on it. It’s not bad, but it’s not a shock that it peaked at #76. Maybe it needed a little Michael McDonald seasoning sprinkled on top.

86. Dino – 24/7

Fred Flintstone’s favorite freestyle singer is back with his follow-up to Summergirls. This time it’s a laidback affair, one that would be perfect for getting Wilma in the mood. Just pray that the bird’s beak doesn’t cause a skip on the twelve-inch. It’s a living.

90. Will To Power – Fading Away

That’s what we were all hoping for as well and gave this one a #65 send-off. But they will return like the plague in 1990 to destroy the 10cc classic, I’m Not In Love. Yes, be quiet.

92. Kenny G featuring Smokey Robinson – We’ve Saved The Best For Last

Kenny G and one of the best soul singers ever – how did this miss the Top 40? I thought I made a mistake, but no, this single peaked at #47. I know I’ve heard this in a casino hotel elevator since.

96. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Got It Made

Was this just a cash grab to pull Neil on board, or was that the only way to keep Crosby from coking out and stealing a boat? The results were underwhelming, definitely not up to the standards of their previous work together. With Stills on lead vocals, it will flip its debut numbers and top out at #69. Neil will release Rocking In The Free World within nine months.