Pretend A Stranger Is A Long Awaited Friend

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In the early 80s, The Other Sixty is usually full of West Coast pop, some Country or Southern rock, a little bit of Power pop, and disco/ soul. This list is particularly hard on 70s superstars, shutting them down hard. That means radio turned them away, and so most likely, we didn’t get a chance to weigh in. Let’s reevaluate those non-hits from the tenth chart week of the year from 1980 to 1982.

March 8th, 1980

82. Captain and Tennille – Love On A Shoestring

Their first chart hit went to #1. Their last Top 40 hit was a chart-topper as well. But now Daryl & Toni are getting kicked to the curb forever. The lace tip breaks off at #55 and makes Sammy Hagar jealous.

85. Dottie West – A Lesson In Leavin’

As Pee Wee Herman once said, “Put Dottie on!” West had been trying to cross over to the Pop charts ever since she became a Country star in the early 60s. She got close in 1973 with Country Sunshine, which peaked at #49. Seven years later, she had another Hot 100 entry and that should have broken her open in the mainstream. But her first Country #1 only made it to #73. In 1999, Jo Dee Messina would cover this and have a Top 30 hit.

86. England Dan and John Ford Coley – In It for Love

Singer-songwriter soft rock wasn’t entirely out of style in 1980, but I guess these guys were. After figuring out the answer in 1979 (spoiler: it’s love) they took the next year trying to figure out the question, which eventually did. “What does the radio & music industry not have for us?” This #75 peaker was ironically released from their Best Of collection.

89. Warren Zevon – A Certain Girl

Warren was obsessed with cool-sounding titles. He thought that was the key to songwriting. Great title, great song. That’s why he put out an album called Bad Luck Streak In High School, form which this poppy single comes from. In a cooler world, this is a much bigger hit than its #57 showing.

Fun fact: This song was written by Allen Toussaint and originally recorded by Ernie K. Doe, who took it to #71 in 1961.

90. Festival – Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

Here is where Broadway and Euro-disco intersect. This song was written for the musical, Evita which debuted in London in 1978 by Tim rice & Andrew Lloyd-Webber. This single was released from a disco LP of Evita covers, and this trainwreck crashed its way up to #72

91. Jimmy Buffett – Survive

Buffet was done with Top 40 as soon as 1980 dawned as this track belies its title and dies at #77. That just gave Jimmy more time to perfect his brand and tequila.

97. Jackie DeShannon – I Don’t Need You Anymore

Here is Jackie’s last Hot 100 entry from the soundtrack to the film, Together? starring Jacqueline Bisset. Scored by Burt Bacharach and co-written with Paul Anka, this 45 will stiff at #86. But one year from now, Jackie will find herself on top of the charts courtesy of Kim Carnes.

March 14th, 1981

79. Barry Manilow – Lonely Together

This was Barry’s first charted single to miss the Top 40 since 1975’s Mandy. That’s 18 straight Top 40s. Guess there is an expiration date on maudlin ballads with multiple key changes. #45 will be its zenith.

81. Hawks – Right Away

Power Pop from the heartland – does it get any better than that? These guys received a record contract by just sending out their demo to various record companies. Columbia signed them based on those songs, and their debut was released in 1981. This 45 will only reach #63, which is ridiculous considering the competition at the time.

Fun fact: In 2007, they were inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

83. Rush – Limelight

By 1981’s Moving Pictures, Rush was now moving lots of albums and playing bigger arenas. This meant that it was time to start questioning stardom and its trappings, thus this single. Their fourth chart entry will shine up to #55 but will become a rock radio classic.

86. Garland Jeffreys – 96 Tears

Here’s a New York singer-songwriter who was plying his trade around the city since the mid-60s. He had a very prolific recording period during the late 70s/early 80s, releasing six albums during that time. Yet his only Hot 100 placing was a cover of ? & the Mysterians #1 smash from 1966. Guess what number it made it up to.

90. Tierra – Memories

Tierra was one the leaders of Chicano rock in the 70s, but it took until early 1981 to have success in the Top 40 with the Gamble & Huff tune, Together. This upbeat followup will bounce up to #62.

March 13th, 1982

80. A Taste Of Honey – I’ll Try Something New

Hazel Payne and Janice–Marie Johnson had new life breathed into their band when their cover of Sukiyaki made the Top #3, three years after winning a Grammy for Best New Artist. Someone (i.e., record execs) thought their new path should be 60s covers and suggested this Miracles tune. It almost worked but skimmed out at #41. They should have just released this banger first.

83. Glass Moon – On A Carousel

Here’s another cover of a 60s classic, initially a hit by the Hollies in 1967. Featuring a modern New Wavy arrangement from this Raleigh quartet’s second album, Growing In The Dark, it will be their only chart single, and the ride will end at #50.

Fun fact: Bassist Bobby Patterson would join the band for their third album. When Glassmoon (name change) broke up, he formed the funk band, Dag with Nantucket drummer Kenny Soule. Highly recommended.

88. Bryan Adams – Lonely Nights

Bryan was now two albums deep but had yet to have any success in the States. His first chart single from You Want It You Git It will be stranded at #84. He will never have a single chart this low again until 1995’s Rock Steady, which sunk at #73. Bryan

93. GQ – Sad Girl

It’s not a good sign when your drummer leaves, and you don’t replace him. When this disco quartet shrunk to a trio for album #3, the rock freak died along with it. This will be the band’s last Hot 100 entry as its upside-down smile peaks on its debut.

Fun fact: Bassist Keith “Sabu” Crier’s nephew is Keith Sweat.

96. Gene Cotton – If I Could Get You (Into My Life)

The 80s weren’t kind to Gene either, and this will be his last entry topping out at #76. But Gene refocused his career and created Kids On Stage in Nashville, whose mission is to provide world-class experiences in the visual, performing and technical arts that, through process, performance and production, empower students to be self-disciplined and lifelong learners. Gene is currently one of the artistic directors.

 

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