Misery loves company and so the fifth chart week of the year will be packed with lots of members of The Other Sixty. Let’s focus on the first two years of the decade: 1980 and 1981.
February 2, 1980
By 1979, these boys from Jacksonville were releasing their third album, hoping for a successful turnaround after the second album, Special Delivery bombed. They at least nabbed their first Hot 100 entry with this single’s debut and just missed the Top 40 when it peaked at #43. By 1981, they were leading Southern Rock’s next phase.
Kenny likes dreaming, so I imagine he fell asleep listening to the Bee Gees’ Spirits Having Flown LP and woke up thinking he wrote a new hit. In actuality, he wrote a fourth rate Xerox of Too Much Heaven. But because we were still riding a Gibb high, this song flew all the way up to #44. It would be Kenny’s last chart entry as a solo artist.
Blondie had so many big hits between 1979 and 1981; it’s easy to forget that they had a few misses as well. Their follow-up 45 to Dreaming from their album, Eat To The Beat, would hit a wall at #84. To me, this story of an armored car robbery is one of their forgotten gems.
Drummer Lenny White was a founding member along with Chick Corea of the fusion outfit, Return to Forever. After leaving the group in 1976, Lenny put out a few solo records before forming Twennynine, which focused more on R&B and funk. Their debut, Best Of Friends, was co-produced with EWF’s Larry Dunn and featured this jam in search of two slices of bread. It’ll get caught on the roof of the Hot 100’s mouth at #83.
Bob Geldof takes a tragic school shooting in San Diego and turns it into a pop song that topped out at #73. It’s an early New Wave classic, but in light of what’s happened on campuses since, should it be? If you’re not familiar with the story – on January 29, 1979, a sixteen-year-old girl using a .22 caliber rifle her dad bought her that Christmas opened fire on a school playground killing the principal and a custodian and injuring eight children. When a reporter asked her why she did it, her reply was, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” As of this post, she is still currently in prison.
Haruomi Hosono was already gaining a reputation as one of the most influential musicians in Japanese pop music. And that was before he assembled Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto for a one-off album called Yellow Magic Orchestra. They had just released their LP when this track from debut released in 1978 started getting airplay in the US. An early example of synthpop, it was released as a single and reached #60 and influenced most electronic music going forward from New Wave to techno.
February 7th, 1981
Even if the Mac underwhelmed the record company by not selling 20 million copies of Tusk as it did with Rumours, they were not above another money grab during the Holiday season. Thus we have this double live album with performances from the Rumours & Tusk tours as well as a few sound checks. This Stevie Nicks-penned track was recorded on tour during a private show for crew and friends. This 45 will buzz up to #60, and it’s the only known FMac version of this tune.
1979’s I Am was a monster album with two of EWF’s biggest hits. So they had a pyramid’s worth of momentum heading into the release of their double album, Faces, which hit #2 on the Billboard Albums chart. Surprisingly none of the singles made the Top 40. Were two LPs too much for their fans? Did they suffer as part of the disco backlash? This was the third single released, and its zenith will be at #59. If you are a casual fan of this group, I urge you to revisit this LP. The Pop public missed out.
The jazz fusion quintet from Buffalo is back with another track you might hear as you watch Local on the 8s on The Weather Channel, that is if they’re not playing The Yellowjackets. It will be a Top 20 AC hit, but the caffeine buzz wore out at #77.
The Sugarhill Gang tried to match the success of Rapper’s Delight with the title track to their second album. Even though it will fizzle out at #82, keeping them a one-hit-wonder, this track has been sampled multiple times by the likes of Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes, Beastie Boys, J-Lo, and others.