We’re reviewing the twentieth chart week of The Other Sixty. Enjoy this mish-mash from 1980 through 1982. It’s quite tasty.
May 17th, 1980
Roberta’s second intended duets album with Donny only yielded two songs, which both charted. After You Are My Heaven hit #47 earlier in the year, this was the second, written by James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, who had also written The Closer I Get To You. This slice of disco soul will split apart at #56 but will hit the R&B Top 10. It was also a big smash in the UK reaching #3.
The Chicago family band, the Five Stairsteps, had a big hit in 1970 called Ooh Child but spent many years trying to replicate that success before splitting up in 1977. Member Keni Burke started his solo career and also co-produced Bill Withers’ Menagerie LP, which featured Lovely Day. Keni’s brother Clarence asked him and two more siblings, Dennis and James, to form a new band called the Invisible Man’s Band (or the Four Stairsteps). Their debut in 1980 featured this funky dance floor filler, which went Top 10 Soul and peaked at #45.
Fun fact: The Five Stairsteps had 11 chart singles on the Hot 100 before 1970’s Ooh Child, their only Top 40 hit. They’d chart two more, so in baseball terms, they went 1 for 14 for .071 average.
Mary does her best Karen Carpenter impersonation with her last chart hit from her third album released on the RSO label, who apparently had money to burn. Recorded with West Coast players such as Steve Lukather, Neil Steubenhaus, and Michael Landau as well as Bread’s Mike Botts on drums, this ballad faded into the night at #72.
It took seven albums before Canadian guitarist Pat Travers finally charted below the border. And he did it with a bluesy cover of a Bob Marley and the Wailers 1978 classic. It will share the shelter of a #50 high.
This will be the lowest charting single from all of this week’s debuts, but it’s probably the most fun. Also, it’s lack of success with directly inspire the forming of a new band by mates Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox called the Eurythmics. Their second album, Reality Effect, spawned this rocking cover of the 1964 Dusty Springfield classic, which will become their first of two UK Top 10s while only moving up another four notches in the States.
Here’s the highest-charting single of the 1980 Other Sixty crew. I’m sure the names attached got it significant airplay but no enough to get into the Top 40 where it should have been. On this duet, Nashville meets L.A. for some smooth Southern style and a #42 showing.
This New Wave band has had an interesting history. They were formed in the mid-70s from the ashes of the Pub rock band Ducks Deluxe. They had a Top 10 hit in the UK in 1978 called Airport. When guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky left to have a solo career including a 1979 Top 40 hit, Girl of My Dreams, the band split up. The lead singer Nick Garvey decided to give it another go by decade’s end and recorded another album, Tenement Steps with studio musicians including Terry Williams who would go on the play with Dire Straits. With Jimmy Iovine producing, they aimed their record at the US market and were rewarded with this single peaking at #78.
Fun fact: Cheap Trick recorded a cover of the Motors song, Dancing the Night Away for their 1983 album, Next Position Please.
May 23rd, 1981
I guess we were all guilty-ied out by Memorial Day 1981. That’s my only reasoning for why this single didn’t make the Top 40. After three big hits, radio was done with Babs & Barry I suppose, and the promises are broken at #48.
In soft squishy easy chair that was 1981 pop radio playlists, how die Robbie get turned away? His second album, Street Corner Heroes, was even better than his first, including singles such as Saturday Night and this, which will only climb to #54 before putting on a cool looking scarf while it’s 82 degrees out. (I’m assuming she’s from Williamsburg.)
Another classic Summer afternoon party/ picnic in the park jam that gets marginalized by a programmer who’d rather play Air Supply, lest their advertising sponsors think they’re too ‘urban’. Stupid me. I thought the idea was to play the best music that’s out there. And if this doesn’t move you, son, you dead. Charlie Wilson’s voice sounds so damn good, he inspired a whole new wave of R&B singers in the late 80s and 90s, including Aaron Hall of Guy, who covered this on their second album, The Future. The original will only manage a #60 showing.
I just read on Wikipedia (add guffaw here) that Helen Reddy is referred to as the Queen of 70s Pop. Personally, I’ve never heard or read anyone making that statement. Shoot, she’s not even the Australian Queen of 70s Pop, which of course, would be ONJ. Helen’s last Top 40 hit was in 1977, so considering that her first one was in 1971, that’s only a six-year chart span. And for all of the smashes she had in the Me Decade with three of them hitting #1, most of them have disappeared from oldies stations. That is all to say that this cover of a 1979 Country charting single by Becky Hobbs will only inch up two spots before saying adios.
May 22nd, 1982
Before the Greek keyboardist VanGelis made everyone run in slow motion, he was considered as Rick Wakeman’s replacement in Yes. From there lead singer Jon Anderson decided that they should collaborate and released their first of four albums together starting in 1980. The follow-up, The Friends of Mr. Cairo, featured their only US charting single which reached #64 while becoming a UK Top Ten hit.
After finally nabbing a Top 40 hit with The Breakup Song from Rockihnroll, the band’s next release, Kihntinued, garnered them their second chart hit. But this rocker, which deserves another look, only made it to #62. To be kihntinued….