The eighteen chart week of the Other Sixty brings a solid batch of Top 40 contenders that may have faltered due to competition or lousy promotion. Let’s review 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983.
May 3rd, 1980
LRB had a ton of Top 40 smashes as they moved into the Me Decade, and they started it off with the requisite double live album, Backstage Pass. Having a hit with a live song is always a tough task, but this rollicking ole time rocker will hit a respectable #51. It was probably too hard for radio who was looking for another Lady.
This one rocks much harder than their radio hits, just like LRB. With new keyboardist Jonathan Cain in tow, John Waite and co. will only meet up at #72, though the two Johns will hook up at the end of the decade for some horrible grammar.
The third single from Eddie’s 1979 LP, Loveline will end up becoming his sixth Country #1. When it crosses over to Pop, it will not travel any further than #82. But one listen to this soft pop track will make your wonder why this was rejected in 1980.
Ray co-wrote two hits for The Babys, Isn’t It Time & Every Time I Think Of You, and this week, his first charted solo single debuts alongside them. This mushy ballad won’t get any higher than the Rabbitt’s track. The record company should have released his version of Sail On Sailor with the original lyrics instead.
From the New Wave Power Pop department comes this slick lyrically sharp L.A. band destined for success. Unfortunately, their only chart single will peak at #79. Linda Ronstadt will record three of leader Mark Goldenberg songs for her Mad Love album, and that will permanently distract his attention from the band, who would break up after one more album, Snap Snap in 1981.
May 9th, 1981
Steve was still applying the prog-rock ethos to his solo music with more synths and New Wave flourishes. That’s a good thing, but not always a recipe for Top 40 success. He’ll learn to really smooth out his vibe as the decade progresses. I prefer this part of his career when Steve is playing all of the instruments and experimenting. This is one of my favorites of his and will hit the water at #48 before going under.
Tommy missed have missed a memo as he records and releases a mild disco-pop tune in 1981. It will be his last solo chart hit when it reaches #58. He’ll have reason to cheer in six years from now as two of his, and the Shondells songs will hit #1 in cover versions by Billy Idol & Tiffany back to back in 1987.
When Dave Edmunds covers John Fogerty, it’s hard to know where one ends, and one begins. John’s version will hit #78 in 1975 while this one featuring Rockpile will peak at #54. Either one is as good as you’d expect it to be.
From the prairies of Minnesota comes this quintet for looking for some of that Toby Beau money, gently rocking you with an easy groove and a sax solo. Released from their second album, the title track will be the highest charter out of the 1981 non-Top 40s this week when it hits #45
Two years away from dominating 1979, the Sledge sisters just could not buy a hit no matter what they tried. This classy ballad written by Narada Michael Walden and Allee Willis was released as the second single from their All American Girls album will only move up another eight spots before doing an about-face.
May 8th, 1982
Motown had been ignoring the Temps for so long that by 1982, they decided to go the other way and indulge the ever-loving hell out of them. Not only did the current five members invite David Ruffin & Eddie Kendricks back into the fold, but they also threw current young gun Rick James in the mix too. That wasn’t really a good idea for Ruffin, who was a big-time cokehead. But the musical result was transplendent, mixing old school soul with hotshot funk. (The Temps had already provided some oh-oh-ohs on Rick’s Super Freak) The Mary Jane Girls are here too for some backing vocals and whatever else. All of this talent and only a #66 showing precipitated the implosion of the reunion by the end of the year.
This New Wave outfit from Akron, OH, actually started out as a side project by guitarist Chris Butler of Tin Huey. The original version of this song was recorded in 1978 and was first released as a single in 1980 on Ze Records. When Chris officially put a band together and secured a deal, it was rereleased in 1982. Although it will only reach #62, it’s a stone-cold New Wave classic. Every time Patty Donahue zaps some guy with a Sucker diss, it gets me every time.
Dammit, it looks like we’re still stuck in that Hooked On rut. This time the ghost of Glenn Miller is dragged out of the English channel for this snoozefest. Even the drum machine sounds disinterested. That it peaks higher than the previous two singles at #61 shows how much pull the old folks still had. Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers, who were obviously money launderers, plundered this bad idea and somehow had a hit with it in 1989.
May 7th, 1983
Runt did not have any Top 40 solo hits in the 80s. In fact, this was his only Hot 100 entry, and it only reached #63. But it’s one of his most well-known tunes, most likely from DJs playing it regularly at 5PM on Friday. It’s taken on a life of its own, especially during football games. Packers fans, amirite? And then there’s this.
Out of the ashes of the all-female ska band, the Bodysnatchers comes this Stiff Records septet. Their first chart single, a #3 UK hit, will only post at #75. Five years later, Allan Mason, the music supervisor on the film, Rain Man, thought that the Belle Stars version of Iko Iko would be a good song to start off the movie. It was released as a single and became their only Top 40 hit in 1989.
From their second album, Modern Romans, here’s the California quartet with their first Hot 100 entry. Combing the same territory as the Alarm and U2 albeit, with a tighter sound, they had similar success as this single hit the wall at #74 before coming down.
Maurice Starr thought the world was ready for a new Jackson 5. At least that’s what he thought when he saw Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike, and Ralph perform at a talent show in Boston. He signed them and had Arthur Baker co-produce an album full of sweet harmonies with a street attitude. This was also a great breakdancing tune, too, and I’m surprised it couldn’t move up any further than #46. It would be the first of five #1s on the Soul chart as well as a #1 in the UK. Guess the Brits were ready.