This group of The Other Sixty features a lot of classics from rock, disco, new wave, and soul. That means that it just took the public a little longer to appreciate it and that sometimes for good music to be heard, it needs to fall into a niche category outside of pop. Let’s review the debuts from 1980 through 1983 during the twenty-second chart week of the year.
May 31st, 1980
Here’s a rare 80s track that I was unfamiliar with by Country singer, Joe Sun. He had seven Top 40 hits on the US Country singles charts with 1978’s Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle To You his biggest smash, climbing to #14. His one and only Hot 100 entry is this honky-tonk stepper that will ride up to #71.
After almost a decade of releases, REO had yet to have their big smash single. Their record label, Epic, decided to release a retrospective collection of songs in 1980 and re-released this single from You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish, which made it up to #56 in 1978. Two years later, it crash-landed at #77, but it may have given them just enough push on rock radio. Because their next single, Keep On Loving You, which will be released in four months, will be a monster.
June 6th, 1981
The pride of Jacksonville, FL finally nabbed their first Top 40 hit earlier in the year with Hold On Loosely. Their follow-up follows the formula of the first one to a T and comes close to scoring number two. But the dream will end at #52.
To me, this is the quintessential Rush song. Beginning with an ominous synth growl from an Oberheim OBX, Neil’s aggressive drums, and Geddy Lee introducing today’s modern warrior, Alex crashes his guitar in, and a classic was made. There’s time changes galore, more Geddy Lee synth playing, and one of Lifeson’s best solos. In Neil’s mind as well as co-lyricist Pye Dubois of Max Webster, an 80s Tom Sawyer was a man who stands up for what’s right and is the way we should lead our lives. For however, he goes, we go. This was played so much back then on radio, it’s easy to forget that it only rafted itself up to #44.
Here’s another dance classic from the Italian-American conglomerate out for Chic’s mantle. Disco music became a more intimate affair, and while universal themes weren’t abandoned, the vibe felt a little more guarded than in the past. Change typified that feel and songs like this one, which was a huge #1 Club song and Top 10 Soul smash, only ended up finding their Xanadu at #80.
June 5th, 1982
Between their last Top 40 hit, 1980’s Voices, and their next one, 1988’s The Flame, Cheap trick charted five entries into the Other Sixty club, with four of them peaking between #41 & #50. Here’s another miss from the Illinois power poppers that will flatline at #45. It will hit #2 in Australia.
One of Motown’s most successful songwriting duos recorded many great Soul albums of their own, though they had only charted on Top 40 hit thus far – Found A Cure in 1979. Three albums later, they’re back on the Hot 100 with the lead single from their LP, Street Opera. It will only get as high as #56.
Here’s one of my favorite Chic songs, a soundtrack single from a movie that no one saw. I don’t think even aired on HBO back then. You can hear the musical seeds Nile was sowing and eventually harvested by David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, which was recorded right after this. After absolutely ruling in 1979, this will be their last chart hit. The soup will be all gone by #80. It will also be their last R&B Top 40.
The band known for their WestCoast hits, How Much I Feel and Biggest Part Of Me was at the end of the line in 1982. They released their final album together, Road Island before David Pack moved on, and the other members found new gigs. This will be their last chart entry and only move up three more spots.
Fun fact: A young keyboard player named Bruce Hornsby played with the band on their tour in 1982 and will eventually form his own group with bass player Joe Puerta.
June 4th, 1983
After eight albums, Greg finally had a significant hit in 1983 when Jeopardy went all the way to #2 held down only by the Thriller juggernaut of Beat It. The follow-up was a moody midtempo number, which is another quality song on Kihntinued. But for some reason, it wasn’t as immediate as its predecessor and will fail at #59.
I have no idea why Maze didn’t click with Pop radio. This song makes me feel so good, and it only takes five seconds into it before I’m moving. Play it yourself and see. It’s so infectious. This Top 5 Soul song will get locked out at #80.
Here’s a New Wave classic that has nothing to do with Sammy Hagar, thankfully. This New Orleans outfit started out a lot more aggressive and punk but then added more melody and smoothed out their sound as the 80s wore on. The single is from their second album, Good As Gold, and will be their only chart hit, climbing up to #53.
Sniff N The Tears busted through the radio in 1979 with one of my favorite singles of the decade, Drivers Seat. They rode out that momentum for four albums before splitting up in 1982. Their guitarist, Loz, left the band in 1981 after an unfortunate motorcycle accident kept him on the sidelines. While he was rehabbing, he wrote some new songs, recorded them as demos, and shopped them around, procuring a record contract. His solo career started with his first album, Bzar, in 1982, and this single became a surprise Hot 100 entry, spurred on no doubt by video airplay on MTV. It will, yes, fade away after reaching #82.
The former LaBelle singer has her first chart entry as a solo artist with a single from her album, Nona. Featuring guitar by Nile Rodgers, this 45 builds up slowly before getting funky but will give up its secrets at #91.