The early 80s were such an excellent time for popular music. Record companies were spending tons of money, signing bands and throwing everything against the wall to see what would stick. Thus, you get a mix of Southern Rock, Soul, Country, Power Pop, and Disco offerings in 1980 alone. Quite a contrast from the end of the decade. Let’s review The OthEr Sixty from the twelfth chart week from 1980 to 1982.
March 22nd, 1980
After the third Starbuck release yielded nary a hit, leader Bruce Blackman said Screw You and formed a new band called Korona. He almost made the Top 40 with this ballad, but it decided to be at #43. Also, before you think that Bruce should have sued a certain Seattle coffee company, Starbucks existed three years before the band did.
Here’s the funk band, The Bar-Kays, who were never able to duplicate the success of Shake Your Rump To The Funk on the Pop charts. They were probably just happy to be alive. They had a few chart singles such as this rare soul ballad from their LP, Injoy, their highest-charting album on the R&B survey. It will reach Top 30 soul and #60 on the Hot 100.
This was the closest Mac ever got to the 40 since his Top 20 hit Rock N Roll in 1975 (or his North Dallas football movie). It’s a cheeky, sarcastic take on being famous and successful and reached the Top 10 on the Country charts while peaking at the humbling #43.
Now for the Power Pop edition of the Other Sixty with a quintet from Chicago who should have had more success with this 45 than they did. It’s a great example of straight-ahead catchy pop-rock, but it lost its rhythm at #51.
The Good Times rip-offs just keep on coming, although, in all fairness, it did beat Another One Bites The Dust to the charts. It will not have near the success that the Queen song will have later this year, but it remains a Roller Disco classic. It will fall on its ass at #81, as I did many times on skates.
March 28th, 1981
Outside of friends and family was anyone into this band? This is not a comment, more of a question. As one listens to this song, I don’t think there’s anything here that would clue someone in as to who this band was. I’m thinking a lot of promotion was required to even get it up to #68.
In late 1980, the Wilson sisters and company released a Greatest Hits/Live double album, a combination of some of their big hits, some live tracks, and a few newly recorded songs. Their version of Aaron Neville’s Tell It Like It Is reached the Top 10 in early 1981. The follow-up single was a cover of the eternal classic whose title is not mentioned in the song (It was initially written as the theme to a 1955 film, Unchained. Mystery solved.) Heart’s version was recorded during a 1980 performance at McNichols Arena in Denver, CO. It will move up two spots before getting ghosted.
Lenny was once one half of the death metal duo know as LeBlanc and Carr. Lots of folks in 1978 thrashed to their Top 20 smash, Falling. Unfortunately, all of that headbanging caused the partnership to end. Lenny then found Jesus but could never find the Top 40 again, and this track was sent packing at #55.
This blues singer-songwriter was already 40 years old when he garnered his first and only Top 40 triumph Giving It Up For Your Love, a #8 high. The second single from The Jealous Kind only made it to #70. Delbert has continued a long career to this day, including several #1 Blues albums.
Bill was a righteous brother. He had been continuing his solo career will singing with his Bobby Hatfield duo and was entering decade number three with a release called Sweet Thunder. From that album, Bill released this single originally written and recorded by Barry Mann in early 1980. It would be his first solo chart entry since 1968 but it will stall at #88. Several other folks will record it until 1989 when Linda Ronstadt and her duet partner, Aaron Neville take their version up to #2. Bill’s career will get going again after his Dirty Dancing duet with Jennifer Warnes hits #1 in early 1988. And then the Righteous Brothers will have a resurgence in 1990 after one of their songs gets re-released and makes the Top 20. You guessed it. Unchained Melody.
March 27th, 1982
I love that little tap intro and how its rhythm sucks you in before the band turns it on its head. The Cars were the kings of #41 peaks with three of them, including this one. I hate to include this one as The Other Sixty, but technically it is, even though it’s one of their classic songs. Ric really Dylans up those vocals almost to a comical point. But it all works.
Here’s another product from Soul Train Enterprises. Don Cornelius met O’Bryan (not this one), and via his new enterprise, Friendship Partners, he hooked him up with a contract at Capitol Records. This funk-rock jam that splits the middle between Shalamar and Prince will be his only chart record. It will solicit at #57 zenith while becoming a Top 5 Soul smash.
Here’s another rock band that was popular regional, specifically upstate NY, but could never get the entire country on board, despite opening for lots of well-known artists such as David Bowie, Bob Seger, and ZZ Top. Their fifth album spawned their first and biggest Hot 100 entry, making a toast up to #58.
Another band just like Duke Jupiter, but these folks were huge in the heartland, specifically Kansas City. Their second chart single from their second album, Hang On For Your Life should have easily opened up the door to stardom. But instead, the lights on this rock ballad went out at #70.
This is where the chart story ends for legend Carole King. The title track to her 1982 LP on Atlantic Records will peak at #45. It features a guitar solo from Eric Johnson, some of his earliest session work. There was also an hour-long documentary with live band performances made at that time but available only on VHS, which someone has graciously uploaded to YouTube.
Sometimes someone doesn’t make it because they are not very good. Pia tried many careers and didn’t get far with any of them. She tired a singing career in Country in the late 70s but that bombed. She had the most success as a Pop singer when The Clapping Song went to #36 with its annoying Taco effects. This was her first chart entry a year previous, and it will climb as high as #45?! And who said payola was dead. I dare you to listen to the whole song. She makes Charlene sound like Aretha.