Nothing I Wouldn’t Do, Including Doing Nothing

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Moving through the 80s during the fifth chart week of the year, here’s another mixed bag of The Other Sixty from 1985 through 1987.

February 2nd, 1985

82. Jermaine Stewart – The Word Is Out

One of Jermaine’s big breaks was as a touring dancer for the band Shalamar. While he was over in London, he met Culture Club drummer, Mikey Craig, who invited him to the Miss Me Blind recording sessions. Jermaine sang back-up on that track, which led o a debut album on Arista in 1984. This single, co-written with Craig will be Jermaine’s first Hot 100 entry, missing the Top 40 by a notch as it got stuck at #41.

87. Manhattan Transfer – Baby Come Back To Me (The Morse Code Of Love)

From the Transfer’s new album, Bop Doo Wopp, which was a mix of live and studio tracks, comes their last Hot 100 entry. It was a cover of a newly formed Capris single, recorded, and released in 1982. This will dit dit dot dot up four more notches before it goes silent.

95. Jermaine Jackson & Pia Zadora – When The Rain Begins To Fall

What’s the difference between Michale & Jermaine Jackson? Micheal recorded duets with Paul McCartney. Jermaine chose Pia Zadora. Nuff said.

February 8th, 1986

This crew of ’86 releases is a rather bland bunch, with a few good ones tossed in to keep it interesting. There’s a reason why they are The Other Sixty.

84. Phyllis Nelson – I Like You

Damn, this song was played a lot in New York over Christmas 1985. This #1 80s dance classic finally debuts nationally, but will only climb to #61.

Fun fact: Her son, Marc, was an original member of Boyz II Men.

88. Jennifer Holliday – No Frills Love

Here’s another #1 dance track that didn’t do much at pop radio. Personally, I find it a shame that no one could find good enough material to match her voice, and she was left coming off sounding like a Weather Girl alternate.

91. Jennifer Rush – The Power Of Love

Jennifer was an American singer who was getting nowhere over here. So she made a move to Germany, where they are hungry for any entertainment whatsoever. This single from her debut was released in the US a year ago and received no takers. But, it ended going to #1 in many other countries, including the UK, Canada, and Australia. After Air Supply recorded a cover which went to #68, it was re-released here, and this entry will rise to #57. Laura Branigan took her version to #26 in 1987, and then Celine Dion took it over and check thumped her way up to #1 in early 1994.

92. Sheena Easton – Jimmy Mack

Limp Martha & the Vandella’s cover which will fizzle at #65, sounds like it was made for $2.37. It made Prince sad. Sheena should’ve known better.

94. Five Star – Let Me Be the One

This five-person R&B outfit from the UK has some success on the Soul charts but could never rise above the Kasem line in the US. Their second single from their debut Luxury of Life will pip-pip up to #59.

95. Maurice White – I Need You

Leader of Earth Wind & Fire, Maurice White, recorded only one solo album, and while it’s hard to say anything bad about a masterful artist like him, this was not a good record. He deserved way better than this oatmeal lump of a ballad. He barely had any success at the R&B level either with this one. It’s at its peak this week.

97. Scritti Politti – Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)

I’m a huge Scritti fan. Even as they’ve changed styles over the years, I’ve stuck with them. But here is where it started, with the album, Cupid & Psyche 85. I found that heir glossy funk-pop had a deep soul to it that was unusual with synth recordings. They were able to bring typically cold sounds alive in a way I’d never heard before.

When this was released in the UK in early 1984, it became a Top 10 hit. In the US, this was the single they released as a follow-up after Perfect Way made it up to #11. I knew this was too good for pop radio, so I’m surprised at its #91 high. It didn’t stop me from continually calling to request it on Z100. One time I got through to a DJ, made my request, and answered with, “Wow, what a weird title. What’s a wood beez? Ha Ha Ha.” I knew right then it would never get played.

Fun fact: Lead singer/ songwriter Green Gartside came up with the hook each time i go to bed I pray like Aretha Franklin, in a sly reference to Aretha’s hit,  I Say A Little Prayer. Both songs were produced by Arif Mardin.

February 7th, 1987

84. The Pretenders – My Baby

See, this is how you write a love song, one that’s personal and universal, heartfelt without getting mushy. Chrissie Hynde is the real deal, folks. Her little ode to her daughter only made it up to #64, though. What the hell, people?

91. Rob Jungklas – Make It Mean Something

I once took a junk class. Actually, all my classes were junk class. And even though I hated to show up, I never thought to rob junk class. What would I do with the stuff I took anyway? Try to make it mean something? End scene.

92. Sheila E. – Hold Me

The lead single from Sheila’s third solo album is a rare ballad in her catalog. Pop radio got confused and didn’t add it, so it maxed out at #66, while it went to #3 Soul.

96. Freddie Jackson – Have You Ever Loved Somebody

FJ does his Freddie Jackson on yet another smooth ballad that he would take to #1 on Soul charts. Aptly it will reach its peak at #69.

 

Are You Surprised At What You Find?

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The fifth chart week of the year during the 80s was crammed full of great singles that didn’t get the Casey Kasem vote of approval. Let’s review The Other Sixty from 1982 up to 1984.

February 6th, 1982

81. Doobie Brothers – Here To Love You

Warner Brothers was bogarting that Doobie, trying to get every last strain they could pull out of it. That is why they released the Best of the Doobies Vol. 2 in late 1981 and why they released yet another single from 1978’s Minute By Minute, which everyone already had as a single to promote it.

82. The Commodores – Why You Wanna Try Me?

Motown was squeezing the hell of the Commodores fruit, knowing full well that this enterprise wouldn’t be the same without Lionel. Though he would be building a new money printing machine for Hitsville USA in only seven short months. And still, after all of their crossover success, this funk jam should have placed higher than #66 on the Hot 100.

88. All Sports Band – Opposites Do Attract

I would love to know the rational thought process behind the concept of this band – five musicians dressed up as various athletes, such as a baseball player, boxer, football player, race car driver, and kung fu expert. This sounds like a Disney attraction gone terribly wrong. The music isn’t as bad as the idea, but this single will only reach #78.

89. Madleen Kane – You Can

The model turned singer trope has always been a well-worn idea for success. But it seemed especially fitting during the disco era. Madleen was a Swedish model who pursued a singing career in France and had several Disco hits during the late 70s and early 80s. She only crossed over once to the Pop charts with this #1 dance hit, which hit its climax at #77.

90. Petula Clark – Natural Love

And now we have a woman who turned her 40s & 50s acting career towards a calling in the music industry having several big hits during the British Invasion of the 60s. After not charting since the early 70s, she tried to get back in the game, recording some Countrified pop at the beginning of the 80s. This 45 garnered her one more Hot 100 entry but stalled out at #66.

95. Grover Washington, Jr. (with Grady Tate) – Be Mine (Tonight)

After the crossover triumph of Winelight, Grover quickly got to work on a follow-up, Come Morning. It featured two songs with lead vocals by jazz legend Grady Tate, whose voice you might recognize on this. It did not scale the same heights as Just The Two Of Us and only moved up three more notches before the night was over.

98. Molly Hatchet – Power Play

From their third LP, Take No Prisoners, here’s another single from the Southern rock of Jacksonville, FL, that will add to their legacy but not secure them a hit. Far from a real play of power, this will limp out after a #96 showing.

99. McGuffey Lane – Start It All Over

Here’s some country rock from Athens, Ohio, which was rapidly becoming unfashionable. The first single from their second LP, Aqua Blue, will inch up two notches and disappear.

February 5th, 1983

69. Melissa Manchester – Nice Girls 

M2 had the biggest hit of her career in 1982 with You Should Hear How She Talks About You. Arista thought it was a good time for a Greatest Hits collection, so they had her record a new single for compilation to promote it. It stalled at #42.

84. Rachel Sweet – Voo Doo

What Ohio lacks in professional sports championships, they more than make for in talented musicians. Here’s another one, who recorded her debut in 1978, a throwback to early 60s girl group music, when she was 16. Unfortunately, the pop world completely fell asleep on her career, only briefly waking up for a Rex Smith duet on a cover of Everlasting Love. This was the song that should have been a big hit for her, a moody midtempo New wave popper that only climbed to #72. Somehow the pin fell out of the doll.

But cry not for Rachel. She produced hit TV shows such as Dharma & Greg and the cult classic Sports Night as well as current shows such as Hot In Cleveland and The Goldbergs.

88. Billy Squier – She’s A Runner

This single answeres the age-old question: If an artist records a song that no one hears, does it even exist? At one point on the chart, this was preferred over 25 other songs, including Beat It, Rock The Casbah and You Got Lucky. That’s hard to believe.

89. Janet Jackson – Come Give Your Love To Me

Miss Jackson has her second Hot 100 entry from her debut which will have a zenith of #58. It’s also one of the very few times that she & Michael had singles on the chart at the same time. I’m sure everyone thought it was cute for lil Penny to sing a few songs. Anyone who thought that would get their ass kicked in three years. And almost to prove a point, Janet put this as the B-side to When I Think Of You.

February 4th, 1984

78. Big Country – Fields Of Fire

New Wave bands were starting to fill up the charts, thanks to constant MYV airings and the fact that they had lots of great songs. This one should have kept Big Country from one-hit-wonder status but would flame out #52. Maybe it sounded too close to this.

83. Rolling Stones – She Was Hot

The Undercover album pushed the band to the brink, and they needed several years apart before they could work together again. Only one single from the LP, Undercover of the Night, was a Top 40 hit. This would be the second release retaining more of the classic Stones sound but would cool at #44.

90. Mötley Crüe – Looks That Kill

Legends need to start somewhere, and so here is the Crüe’s first chart single, which will peak at #54. Enjoy the video filled with pentagrams, flaming torches, smoke, and women in cages, who looked like they walked off Scandal’s Warrior shoot.

92. Adam Ant – Strip

Another artist who had lots of excellent singles and plenty of MTV airtime, but couldn’t convert that to radio airplay. And only Adam could rock the puffy shirt and make it look good. This track will get naked at #42 before running away to put its clothes back on.

Fun fact: This single, as well as Puss N Boots, were produced by Phil Collins, who also played drums on each track. Frida from ABBA sings backing vocals.

93. American Comedy Network – Breaking Up Is Hard On You (a/k/a Don’t Take Ma Bell Away from Me)

The 80s were not known for as many bizarre singles as in previous decades, but here is one of the few. The American Comedy Network was a group of radio DJs that came together to create comedy material for radio syndication. If you are familiar with Bob River and any of his “twisted” crap, get ready to get your cringe on. This was the first song the network created, a timely piece about the deregulation of Bell Telephone set to the tune of Neil Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. It’s probably the best thing that they did, and they were around for another twenty years.

95. ABC – That Was Then But This Is Now

ABC’s second album, Beauty Stab, was another collection of solid, sophisticated pop songs, but this time around, it did not connect with US audiences. It’s definitely worth a revisit though. This was the first single released and as simple as do-re-mi, it will peak at #89 and fall off the charts.

 

Everybody Had On Their Radio

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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

80. .38 Special – Rockin’ Into The Night

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.

87. Kenny Nolan – Us And Love (We Got Together)

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.

88. Blondie – The Hardest Part

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.

90. Twennynine Featuring Lenny White – Peanut Butter

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.

91. The Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays

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.

92. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Computer Game

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

82. Fleetwood Mac – Fireflies

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.

87. Earth, Wind, and Fire – And Love Goes On

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 chartSurprisingly 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.

89. Spyro Gyra – Cafe Amore

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.

98. The Sugarhill Gang – 8th Wonder

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.