And as we move through the middle of the decade, MTV’s influence is showing up on the charts. Lots of good tracks representing the Other Sixty from the ninth chart week of the year from 1983 to 1985. As we begin with 1983, none of the debuts this week will hit the Top 40.
March 5th, 1983
The Psych Furs were the Stone Temple Pilots of their day, and everyone else was Pearl Jam. It’s criminal to think this will only make it up to #44, but then again, it had to fight against Def Leppard, Journey, and Bryan Adams. Also, many folks forget that this single and the album, Forever Now, were produced by Todd Rundgren.
Country music started to get the big diss from Top 40 radio around this time. Still, John’s monster #1 Country hit almost broke through, but the swing fell off the porch at #43. Poor Charlotte Johnson.
Here’s a great way to make a splash into the New Wave scene with a song called Sex. The title alone would get it banned from radio, along with its lyrical content and lines like I’m a slut, which would make me and my girlfriend-less friends laugh out loud. This track wasn’t produced by Giorgio Moroder, but it’s still a great musical homage to him. It almost plays like a lost cut from the American Gigolo soundtrack if Richard Gere sang the Terri Nunn part. It still moaned its way up to #62, and God bless those Canadians as it became a Top 5 across the Northern border. I’m sure Matt Stone & Trey Parker were thinking of this song, among others, when they wrote the theme to Orgazmo.
Mac was mowing his lawn when the lyrics to this song came to him. He cleaned off, wrote them down, and had the lead single from his LP, Nothing But The Truth. With backing vocals by James Taylor, this piece of West Coast pop would just miss the 40 peaking #41, but reaching the AC Top 10.
Robert was just a lifer musician from Philly in his early 30s when he wrote and recorded this early New Wave gem in which we were all living in the human mall. How right he was. It will ride up to #58 before getting its shoelaces caught at the end. Within a year, his life will dramatically change as another song he wrote Girls Just Want To Have Fun will reach #2 for Cyndi Lauper.
Now we have a quintet who put Richmond, VA on the map when this single took the Oswald route and fizzled at #78. Still, if you like snappy pop songs with a bright Farfisa organ lick, this one’s for you.
Before they were hanging No Groove Disturbing signs on doors, they were lauding the flu-like symptoms of love on this wicked slab of electro-funk. It will top out at #64 but will become their first Top 10 Soul smash. Robert Palmer will cover it later in the year.
March 3rd, 1984
I kinda dig this revved-up New Wave cover of the Contours classic, but I guess I’m in the minority. The former Free member will only work it up seven notches before dropping off. The original will actually get re-released due to its inclusion in the film Dirty Dancing and climb up to #11 in 1988.
This is the last chart single for the British Ska/pop septet. It will peak at #72. It will also be the last original to hit the UK Top 10 until 1999. The band had 14 UK Top 10 hits from 1979 to 1983.
Early 80s disco soul didn’t make a significant dent on the charts, but those jams are everlasting. This one gets Heisman at #81 and surprisingly missed the Soul Top 40 as well. But watch a floor fill up when the DJ mixes it in.
What the hell is this doing here? In 1984? Not that there’s anything wrong with a bluesy soul ballad. It was just surprising to hear in 1984. J. was the leader of the Stax quartet, The Soul Children, who had a #36 hit in 1973 with I’ll Be The Other Woman. Props to him for getting this on the Hot 100, even up to #90 as it was also a #3 soul hit.
March 2nd, 1985
This song was originally released from John’s debut in 1982. It received a second life after its inclusion in the 1985 film Visionquest and will Obama itself up to #54. Also, not many soundtracks can claim to have songs by Dio, Madonna, and The Style Council, but Visionquest can.
Fun fact: The song was written by Holly Knight and initially recorded by her band Spider in 1981. That album also featured the original version of Tina Turner’s Better Be Good To Me.
The 80s were just about the only decade that was unkind to singing groups, especially those of the Soul variety. We didn’t need another cover of the Sam Cooke classic, but still, it was good to see these guys were still hanging around, even it was only up to #81. It was their last chart hit, which would make that the saddest day in their life.
Midnight Star was a nonet of funk, formed at Kentucky State University, but they sounded as a cosmopolitan as any LA or NY outfit. Their follow-up to their only Top 40 hit, Operator, will explode into bits after a #80 showing.