It’s Only Customary To Give This Commentary

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It’s the middle of the 80s, so the Other Sixty has a glut of New Wave, classic rock, and a rare hip-hop sighting. Let’s check out what happened during the tenth chart week between 1983 and 1985.

March 12th, 1983

79. Gap Band – Outstanding

Aw c’mon. Now, this is a Sunday barbecue jam, son. How the hell did we let this languish down at #51? Guess it would have been asking too much for pop radio to add this, seeing that they finally let Prince in the door. By the time of its Hot 100 debut, it had already hit #1 on the Soul charts.

80. Heaven 17 – Let Me Go

MTV and the second British invasion opened the doors so wide that just about every New Wave act crossed the pond for a chance at stardom. Unfortunately, it’s hard to break them all at once, and some good songs and bands got left behind. Formed after breaking away from the Human League in 1980, Heaven 17 checks both of those boxes, and this single will let go after reaching #74.

83. Missing Persons – Walking In L.A.

Here’s a great example of an artist that did not rack up any Top 40 songs but still had what many consider hits. It’s entirely possible you’ve heard this or one of the other three charted singles from their album, Spring Session M. Even though it will only walk up to #70, it’s considering a New Wave classic.

86. Adam Ant – Desperate But Not Serious

Adam & the Ants released three albums before splitting in 1981. Adam released his debut solo LP, Friend or Foe, and immediately had success in the States with Goody Two Shoes. This follow-up didn’t keep the momentum going stalling out at #66. If he & the record execs wanted to be daring, they should have released as a single Crackpot History and the Right To Lie, the best song on that album.

90. Robbie Patton – Smiling Islands

Robbie got a gig opening up for Fleetwood Mac on their Tusk tour in 1979. After they were all up in each other’s business. Robbie co-wrote the Top 10 smash Hold Me from 1982’s Mirage. Christine McVie produced his second LP, Distant Shores with Lindsey Buckingham and Bob Weston playing guitar. And on his third album, Orders From Headquarters, we have this single which became surrounded by water at #52 and featured Stevie Nicks on backing vocals.

March 10th, 1984

80. David Bowie – Without You

Bowie was in the midst of his most significant period of mainstream success, but a few of those released 45s didn’t quite make it. In all fairness, this is the fourth single from Let’s Dance, and most folks already had the LP by now. This will only travel to #73, but it’s the only song on the Nile Rodgers-produced album to also feature Bernard Edwards and Tony Thomspon, the rhythm section of Chic, together.

88. Genesis – Illegal Alien

And now we get to the racist part of the program. I’m not sure what these guys were thinking when they recorded this, but people want to hate on Phil Collins, this is where they can focus their ire. Even though Mike Rutherford wrote the lyrics, Phil the Shill thought it would be a good idea to sing them in an offensive Mexican accent. And did they need the line about the guy offered his sister to bang whoever he needed to cross the border and get free handouts? Is that how immigration works in the UK? And if you think I am misinterpreting the song, the band made sure to reinforce their message with a video. This had a #44 showing, and I’m surprised it hasn’t reentered the charts.

I’m convinced Brexit happened because this existed.

89. Billy Rankin – Baby Come Back

Here’s a track I had never heard before. Billy was the guitarist for Nazareth (early 80s version) before releasing his first solo album in 1983, Growin’ Up Too Fast. The opening single topped out at #52.

95. Stacy Lattisaw & Johnny Gill – Perfect Combination

Stacy is only 17, and she’s putting out her sixth album, a collection of duets with fellow DC singer Johnny Gill. This Top 10 Soul single will peak at #75, and even though Stacy’s pop success is pretty much wrapped up by now, Johnny’s will soon be getting started.

March 9th, 1985

79. UTFO – Roxanne, Roxanne

My friends & I would bug over this song when this came out. Mind you, we were all suburban white kids, but we knew the future when we heard it. This got some airplay on Z100, but if you wanted to listen to it often, you had to listen to WBLS or buy the 12″. All of us would learn each word, cadence, rhythm, and flow. But when we’d break up into rappers, I always picked Dr. Ice. (He’s the one who did the 3rd verse.) The song made it into the R&B Top 10 while breakin’ it up to #77 Pop.

An entire industry was built around this song (The Roxanne Wars) up to a 2018 documentary about hip hop pioneer, Roxanne Shante. It’s on Netflix, and if you remember this song, it’s worth a watch.

Fun fact: The record samples the beginning drum intro to Billy Squier’s The Big Beat. I don’t know if it’s the first hip-hop record to use this, but it’s one of the most famous.

81. Barbra Streisand- Emotion

Even though she started the decade with one of her most successful albums, Babs couldn’t follow it up with anything else substantial. The music was of high quality and well-produced. It just kept missing the mark. Maybe it’s because her audience was getting older even as she was trying to skew young. Richard Perry was manning the boards on this one and brought the Pointer Sisters along to sing back up, but this mid-tempo pop tracks developed apathy at #79.

89. Triumph – Follow Your Heart

As they maintain the same lineup for the last ten years, this Canadian trio bangs their head on the door of the Hot 100 once again with no luck. The pop-rocker will move up only one notch before they politely exit the charts

90. The Tubes – Piece By Piece

This is a band that was not built for Top 40 success yet still managed two Top 40 hits. Because when they played the game, they did it better than most bands at the time. This will be their last charted single and will move up only three pieces. It’s from the album Love Bomb, produced by Todd Rundgren. The band will then go on an eleven-year hiatus.

One Reply to “It’s Only Customary To Give This Commentary”

  1. 1983 for the win. Not the best songs from their respective albums but tracks spotlighted by The Gap Band, Heaven 17, Missing Persons and Adam Ant are among my favorites. Still own those albums on vinyl, loved hearing the songs and especially enjoyed the flashback to less uncertain times.

    Shout out for Baby Come Back” and “Roxanne, Roxanne” as well. Both standout tracks.

    Liked by 1 person

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