The Days Of Miracle And Wonder

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Amongst the over-processed dance tracks, there’s a handful of good songs that just failed to get on everyone’s radar. That’s why they are The Other Sixty. And from the ninth chart week of the year, let’s review the debuts who never got a Casey shout out from 1986 to 1989.

March 8th, 1986

87. Little Richard – Great Gosh A’Mighty! (It’s A Matter Of Time)

Remember those award shows in the 80s, where Little Richard would start ranting about how the music industry has screwed for decades, and everyone would start laughing like it was a joke? Disgusting. It sort of plays like his appearance in Down & Out In Beverly Hills from which this song comes. I bought this 45 when it came out, so I hope he got my $.01. Probably didn’t. Co-written with Billy Preston, it will top out at #42

95. Joe Cocker – Shelter Me

Joe was looking to keep the momentum going after his #1 hit with Jennifer Warnes in 1982, but could never find the right song. This recording should have done a lot better, even though it was a little out of step with Top 40 rock. Even so, a #91 peak is ridiculous.

98. Animotion – I Engineer

Even though this band had a few hits in 1985, it started to become a revolving door of musicians. That’s why a good song like this piece of synth-pop has the vibe of a studio creation rather than artists trying to mature their sound. As such, the train derails at #76.

Fun fact: This song was written by Holly Knight and Bernie Taupin. Holly formed Device with singer Paul Engemann who will become Animotion’s new lead singer in 1989. Bernie will run back to Elton.

March 7th, 1987

73. Paul Lekakis – Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room)

Good to see that trashy disco was still alive in 1987, even if it was labeled as Hi-NRG, produced by Italians. It almost got the AT40 call, but stalled at #43.

I had a friend named Rod, straight-laced and nerdy, clean-cut, with dark-rimmed glasses. But he loved this song so much. He would belt out the chorus unironically with the biggest smile on his face. It would crack me up so much that I’d have him do it over and over again. I lost contact with him after high school and was sad to hear that he died young in his late 20s in a car accident. But just hearing this track put a smile on my face thinking of him.

91. Paul Simon – The Boy In The Bubble

We remember Graceland as an absolute classic. But the journey to that status was not immediate. This will be the third single released from the album to miss the Top 40 as this one peaks at #86. It took a re-release of You Can Call Me Al along with a funny Chevy Chase cameo to boost this one into the mainstream

97. Tia – Boy Toy

It’s one thing to be a Madonna clone. It’s another to be an Alisha clone and not a good one at that. This is so bad. I don’t know how it ever charted, but I know why it won’t move any further than where it debuts.

99. Colin James Hay – Hold Me

My ire at the above track is because of this one and its #99 peak. This single is far superior to Boy Toy and should have been given multiple chances to catch on with the public, especially given Hay’s pedigree. This is a guy who was leading Men At Work, one of the biggest bands in the world only four years ago, and he barely gets one solo chart entry? His debut is worth a revisit.

I saw him in the 2000s do a one-person show. Not only is he a great singer and songwriter, but he’s also a hilarious storyteller.

March 5th, 1988

82. Blue Mercedes – I Want To Be Your Property

Here is another one of those faceless bands singing another bland dance track that the UK was seemingly pumping out in the late 80s. I guess the coke/ecstasy combo was working in the clubs because this was a #1 dance hit for a month, while radio programmers enjoy weed and ludes resulting in a #66 showing.

89. The Cure – Hot Hot Hot!!!

I spent the Summer of 1987 digging on this album, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Radio took a while to get around to its charms, and in early 88, Just Like Heaven peaked at #40. This is the band at their funky best and will burn its way up to #68. Even though they are two different songs, if you ever have the urge to play Buster Poindexter’s Hot Hot Hot, please stop and play this instead.

91. Merry Clayton – Yes

Three songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack went Top 10. This was the fourth release, and it only made it to #45. It’s better than the other three combined. Merry has had a long, varied career but never captured a Top 40 hit on her own. Watch the documentary 50 Feet From Stardom, and that will give you a glimpse at her amazing life.

Fun fact: Merry had a recurring role on Cagney & Lacey for one season.

94. Cellarful Of Noise – Samantha (Whatcha Gonna Do?)

Do you remember the radio program Joel Denver’s Future Hits? I would listen to that religiously every Sunday night in the mid to late 80s. Most of the time, they got it right. But every so often they would play songs like this, which, for example, would only peak #69. I’d run out and buy the 45, adding it to a custom mixtape of mine for repeated listening. I’m not sure how else I ever would have had the chance to hear it. Thank you, Joel!

Fun fact: This project was led by Marc Avsec, who co-founded Wild Cherry. He later joined Donnie Iris and co-wrote Ah! Leah! Donnie joined Mark for CON’s second album on which this single appeared.

March 4th, 1989

90. Inner City – Good Life

House and techno music was starting to leak out of the clubs and get radio airplay in the late 80s. But it would be another year before it would truly breakthrough into the Top 40. So, sweet jams like this would end up languishing at the bottom of the Hot 100, #73, to be exact. This was produced by one of the godfathers of techno, Kevin Saunderson.

95. Carly Simon – Let the River Run

We finish up with one of Carly’s last solo Hot 100 entries, and she sings it like her life is on the line. It’s the theme of the movie, Working Girl and even though the river dries up at #49, it will win a Grammy, Golden Globe, and an Oscar.

Fun Fact: The drummer on this song is Mickey Curry. He scheduled this one in between leaving the Hall & Oates touring band and joining the Cult. He’s also in this son’s video.

I Follow Where My Mind Goes

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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

73. Psychedelic Furs – Love My Way

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.

75. John Anderson – Swingin’

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.

79. Berlin – Sex (I’m A…)

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.

81. Mac McAnally – Minimum Love

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.

83. Robert Hazard – Escalator Of Life

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.

84. Single Bullet Theory – Keep It Tight

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.

90. The System – You Are In My System

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

89. Andy Fraser – Do You Love Me

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.

90. Madness – The Sun And The Rain

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.

93. Midnight Star – No Parking (On The Dancefloor)

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.

95. J. Blackfoot- Taxi

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

86. John Waite – Change

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.

89. The Manhattans – You Send 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.

93. Midnight Star – Scientific Love

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.

 

Why Do We Forget What’s Been Said?

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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

77. Stevie Wonder – Outside My Window

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.

80. Karla Bonoff – Baby Don’t Go

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

81. The Fools – Running Scared

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.

87. Yoko Ono – Walking On Thin Ice

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.

88. The Sherbs – I Have the Skill

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.

89. The Rings – Let Me Go

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.

92. Molly Hatchet – The Rambler

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

89. The Boys Band – Don’t Stop Me Baby (I’m On Fire)

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.

90. Gino Vannelli – The Longer You Wait

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.

95. The Spinners – Never Thought I’d Fall In Love

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.