We start the ninth chart week listening to another group of the Other Sixty from 1980 to 1982. It’s a lot of what you’d expect: disco and soul, WestCoast pop, over-signed Power Pop and New Wave. Still, there are a few gems here.
March 1st, 1980
Here’s the second single from Stevie’s soundtrack to the documentary, The Secret Life Of Plants. It’s not a strong song based on his high level of output, but it’s still pleasant and works within the confines of the album. It will only make it to #52 Pop and #56 Soul and is only available by buying this LP.
Karla is a singer/songwriter whose songs have been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd, and Linda Ronstadt. Her style and vocals were so close to Linda’s that I think it kept her from being successful on her own. Nevertheless, this midtempo pop number from her second LP, Restless Nights, will strut its way up to #69.
March 7th, 1981
It’s hard to tell if this Masschusettes band took themselves seriously or not. This cover of the Roy Orbison classic doesn’t leave us any clues. All it does is make us want to hear the original. It’ll run up to #50 before turning yellow and heading the other way.
John and Yoko had been in the studio on December 8th, 1980, on the final mix of this song. Four hours later, he was murdered in front of her as he held onto that tape. I don’t know how one could ever separate those two events in your life experiencing them like that. Still, Yoko pushed on and released this song in tribute to John. People were not kind to her when that happened and give her unnecessary grief about it, and it only rose to #58. Time and distance have been kinder to this slice of ambient disco, and current remixes of this track have seen it rise to #1 on the dance charts in 2003 & 2013.
Here’s one of the most successful Australian bands of the 70s never to cross over to the States. I guess because we let the Little River Band in, they were our token Aussies, but this group was every bit as good. In the 70s, they were called Sherbet, and the best they did was a pop single called Howzat in 1976 that reached #61. They changed their name to Highway to no avail and then to the Sherbs in 1980. This 45 will have the chops to equal their other entry and peak at #61.
The Cars’ success definitely pointed a lot of A&R execs to the Boston music scene. Here’s another group that benefited with two albums on MCA with their debut spawning this faux-reggae pop-rocker. It will circle up to #75 before the charts let it go.
Lead singer Danny Joe Brown flirted with disaster and left after one album. That momentum change did not help the band, and they could never rise to the success of their debut. Also, Southern rock was changing, and they were slow to make that happen. Thus this single will ramble up a notch to #91 before disappearing.
March 6th, 1982
Even though the three members of this band were Nashville players, this is a pretty good slice of soft West Coast pop, in the style of Fred Knoblock or Pure Praire League. Written by Austin “Rocky” Roberts, this baby will stop at #61.
Gino was riding a hot streak into the 80s. His last two albums had spawned Top 10 singles. But this is where the momentum died. His second Arista album, Twisted Heart, was a swift departure from his synth-laden, densely arranged dramatic style. His record company wouldn’t release it, and they and Gino waged a four-year standoff. This was the only product of that recording, and this 45 would only slide up one spot to #89. To this day, the album remains unreleased, but if you listen to his last album, 2019’s Older N Wizer, you can get a taste of what it might have sounded like.
By 1982 The Spinners’ salad days were long behind them. This single, written by James Mtume & Reggie Lucas, who also penned Stephanie Mills’ Never Knew Love Like This, is actually a great slice of early 80s soul boogie. But it’s just not up to the standards the band kept for themselves. It sits at its peak this week. It also did not cross over to the Soul charts.