Can We Learn From All This Time?


We end our review of the fourteenth chart week with a grab bag of the Other Sixty debuts from 1986 up to 1989, some good, some bad, some baffling.

April 12th, 1986

88. Voices Of America – Hands Across America

One year after USA For Africa, we had this, an idea for everyone to hold hands across the US at the same time to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness. It was a logistical impossibility, but on May 25th, a group starting in New York seriously tried to make it happen, although many states were left out of the route. This was the song recorded and released ahead of the event. It seriously blows. It makes We Are The World sound like Bohemian Rhapsody. There was no star power behind the song, and two no-name session musicians sang lead vocals. The rest of the band was mostly Toto. The single only made it up to #65.

89. Platinum Blonde – Somebody Somewhere

This Canadian trio looked like they could open for Poison but sounded like they toured with Honeymoon Suite. They had five Top 40 hits in Canada, including a #1 (y’know, cause CanCon). This will be their only chart hit South of their border when it hits #82.

Fun fact: The lead singer, Mark Holmes, opened up the Mod Club Theatre, a well-respected music venue in downtown Toronto.

90. Psychedelic Furs – Pretty In Pink

The story goes that Molly Ringwald turned director John Hughes on to the Psych Furs, specifically this song. John, in turn, used it as a bit of inspiration for his newest teen triangle love affair naming his new film after it. He also had his music director, Howard Deutsh ask the Furs to re-record a new version of it, which plays at the beginning of the film. This single almost became their first Top 40 hit as it stopped dead at #41 while Invisible Touch and Danger Zone jumped over it.

91. Baltimora – Living In The Background

Here’s something I learned about this artist. They were an actual band and not just an alias for lead singer Jimmy McShane. Also, Jimmy most likely did not sing lead on Tarzan Boy or this single. And the whole project was done in Italy and labeled Italian Disco even as it has a distinctly New Wave feel. This single is a lot less kitschy than TB, which is probably why it only made it up to #87.

92. Bourgeois Tagg –  Mutual Surrender (What A Wonderful World)

This one was my jam that Spring, a New Wave dance rocker packed with a couple of chorus hooks. The white flag will be waved at #52, but Brent Bourgeois & Larry Tagg will nab a Top 40 hit from their second and final album called I Don’t Mind At All. Produced by Todd Rundgren, the duo will then join his Nearly Human tour.

96. Bonnie Tyler – If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man)

Todd’s old pal, producer Jim Steinman tried to give Bonnie another hit with this bombastic gender-bending ballad written by Desmond Child. Everyone was confused, and the single stiffed at #77. Desmond had a snit about it and rewrote the song when he started working with Bon Jovi. I mean, why not rip yourself off? The new version went to #1 and kickstarted Jovi’s career.

April 11th, 1987

82. Bruce Willis – Young Blood

Whatever cred Bruce built up as the wisecracking David Addison on Moonlighting, he immediately threw it away with this vanity project. What made it worse was the song list this egomaniac thought he could tackle. Bruce already destroyed the R&B classic Respect Yourself, and now he goes after the Coasters’ 1957 Top 10 smash. There is no passion evident in this production, certainly not in the vocals, mostly because he did not have the chops for it. It sounds like a shitty karaoke album minus any of the fun. The fact that it reached #68 is baffling to me.

90. Stacey Q – Shy Girl

Stacy, please take both of your hearts and go home. I believe we’re done here. The track, recorded in 1985, will top out at #89.

95. Frozen Ghost – Should I See

The Canadian band Sheriff put an album out in 1983 and a single called When I’m With You. Both tanked with the song, only reaching #61. Guitarist Arnold Lanni formed Frozen Ghost after Sheriff split up in 1985. This single will only hit #69 but will be a Top 5 hit on the Rock charts. And then in early 89, the band had some planning to do.

April 9th, 1988

87. Sweet Sensation – Take It While It’s Hot

These two singles should give you an idea of the dance music that Pop radio supported in the late 80s as an antidote to the glam metal that MTV was promoting. Spoiler alert: there were no winners. Living in New York, I was continuously pounded in the ears with this music so much that I can’t tell one song from another. This Bronx trio will sashay up to #67, but I guarantee you it went Top 10 on the Z100 rotation.

94. Noel – Like A Child

Here’s another freestyle artist from the Bronx. Noel Pagan follows up his dance hit Silent Morning with a full-length album and another single. It was his first #1 on the Dance Club charts and will slowly walk up to #67 on the Hot 100.

April 8th, 1989

80. Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians – Circle

The record company made a mistake by relating this track as the follow-up to What I Am. It’s not a bad song, but there are better ones on the album. Love Like We Do would have been my choice. It’s a pleasant uptempo pop ditty that keeps its hippie vibe intact. As it stands, the circle closes at #49, and the band will be a one-hit-wonder.

91. Figures On A Beach – You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

This New Wave rock band from Detroit had released two albums that barely made a whisper. I liked the song No Stars from their second album, Standing On Ceremony, but that didn’t chart even at their grandma’s house. So the record label had them record a foolish, desperate cover of BTO’s You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet. Yes, it charted and reached #67, but the band broke up right after that.

93. The Replacements – I’ll Be You

After the group fired founding member, guitarist Bob Stinson, their sound became more polished and aimed for mainstream success. With their sixth album, Don’t Tell a Soul, they achieved their biggest Pop acceptance when this song climbed to #51. It was also a #1 Modern Rock hit, so they were able to keep most of their old fans as well.

94. Melissa Etheridge – Similar Features

After gigging for most of the 80s as well as encountering some false starts, Melissa finally released her debut in late 1988.  As a part of the new wave of female singer-songwriters such as Michelle Shocked and Tracy Chapman, she immediately received airplay for some of her songs such as Bring Me Some Water and Chrome Plated Heart. This was the only single to chart on the Hot 100, and it peaks at its debut while becoming her biggest hit on the Mainstream Rock charts.

3 Replies to “Can We Learn From All This Time?”

  1. That’s not just any no-name session singer on “Hands Across America”–it’s Joe Cerisano, who gave us “You Could Take My Heart Away” (a song I confess I really like) five years earlier.

    To borrow your phrase, Fun Fact: my college graduation took place the day of Hands Across America.

    And yes, yes, yes to “Love Like We Do” over “Circle.”


    1. Good catch. I should have mentioned that Joe was from Silver Condor. I should have made a clearer point which was there was no marquee name carrying the musical portion of this charity the way that USA for Africa or BandAid had.


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