The Red Alert Was Sounded


I would say this is a robust set of debuts for 1983 and 1984 during the twenty-fourth chart week. Put another way, I would buy a K-tel collection if it had these songs on it, even if I had to muddle through a few of them. Let’s review.

June 18th, 1983

78. Louise Tucker – Midnight Blue

How do you break into pop music if you’re a classically trained vocalist? Well, one way is to rewrite an old Beethoven sonata and throw a pulsing synth on it. This laborious single actually made it up to #46, which definitely made someone roll over.

81. Thomas Dolby – Europa & The Pirate Twins

One of my favorite stories is the tale of Thomas Dolby being paid tons of money to play synths on Foreigner 4, then using that cash to record his own solo records such as She Blinded Me With Science. But he actually recorded this song first and released it in the UK just as Waiting For a Girl Like You was climbing the charts. This New Wave synth narrative was only released in the States after Science became a hit two years later. But Europa’s bodyguards pushed Thomas away at #67.

Fun fact: The harmonica solo is played by Andy Partridge of XTC.

84. Patrick Simmons – Don’t Make Me Do It

After the break-up of the Doobie Bros, Pat, one of its founders, decided to embark on a solo career. Hey, if Michael could do it, why couldn’t he? But where the former had his own distinct vocal style, Pat sounded like the Doobies. His entire album, Arcade, for the most part, sounded like the Brothers in 1977 just before they became superstars. But if this follow-up to his only Top 40 hit, So Wrong, sounds like another Bay Area act, that’s because it was written by Huey Lewis. It will climb to #75.

86. Jarreau – Boogie Down

Anybody know the thinking on Al referring to himself merely as Jarreau for his 1983 album and singles? This jazz-pop number has Stev Gadd laying down the rhythm and Bill Champlin and Richard PAge providing backing vocals. That’s right! The boogie goes down at #77.

88. Robert Palmer – You Are In My System

This is the second version of this song to chart in 1983. The System wrote and recorded the first one, which charted back in March during chart week nine and reached #64. Robert heard the song in a Parisian club just as he finished recording his album, Pride. He quickly flew home to add his cover to the album and released it as the first single. But the system gets shut down at #78. Good thing there will be better days ahead for both artists.

89. The Stompers – Never Tell An Angel (When Your Heart’s On Fire)

Here’s a four-man pop-rock group from Boston that has been around since the late 70s. The group lives up to its name with this Motown-flavored stomper orginally recorded on Boardwalk Records in 1981 but not released until 1983 due to the death of company president Neil Bogart. It will inch up one spot before flying off to heaven.

Adam Sandler is reportedly a fan of this group and included this song on the Grown Ups 2 soundtrack.

92. Mtume – Juicy Fruit

Now, this is a funky mellow groove. Radio played this so much back then in New York, I assumed it was a Top 40 hit. Even though it was #1 for eight weeks on the Soul charts and the single went gold, the fruit gets ripe at #45. Biggie sampled it to great effect on his track, Juicy, which was his first Top 40 hit.

95. Roman Holliday – Stand By

Named after the 1953 Audrey Hepburn, this septet from England lands their first Hot 100 entry mixing a bit of Swing into their New Wave pop. The track might sound money, but didn’t generate much of it, and stands in place at #54. It will be their highest-charting single.

June 16th, 1984

79. Survivor – The Moment Of Truth

The band tries for Eye Of The Tiger 2 with another dramatic song from a movie. This time it’s The Karate Kid. But Pop radio showed no mercy and swept the leg at #63. And the song we all remember from that film is this one anyway.

82. Genesis – Taking It All Too Hard

The English trio spin off their fourth single from their self-titled Top 10 album. Another from the divorce anthology, Phil the Shill tries to mansplain the proper feelings his partner should have during their breakup. This #50 ballad will have its edges smoothed off multiple times during the band’s career and end up sounding like this by 1992. In 1983

84. Tracey Ullman – Break-A-Way

Tracey follows up her one and only Top 40 hit with a roused-up cover of Irma’s Thomas 1964 single, co-written by Jackie DeShannon. The song stiffed at #70, but the Soul Queen of New Orleans continues to sing it live in her shows to date.

89. Jocelyn Brown – Somebody Else’s Guy

The vocalist behind disco hits such as In the Bush by Musique and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Inner Life (damn, I love that version) stepped out on her own with this dance single that sounds a little too much like Taana Gardner’s Heartbeat. It will reach #2 on the Soul charts, but will only peak at #75.

90. Mötley Crüe – Too Young To Fall In Love

The crew that is motley keeps shouting at the devil, but the screams fall on deaf horns. It will peak at its debut.

91. Christopher Cross – A Chance For Heaven

In 1984 we hosted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. And because most Soviet countries boycotted us, we cleaned up at the metal stand. To celebrate this impending ass-kicking, we had Chris Cross record this totally 80s sounding pop song that we’d play every time we beat down another country. But once the games were over, this song faded like a Sarajevo bobsled track, hitting a #76 zenith. Nadia would have been proud.

94. Red Rider – Young Thing, Wild Dreams (Rock Me)

Canadian quartet Red Rider tallies up their second entry south of the border with a single from the fourth album, Breaking Curfew. The video received a little airplay on MTV, which helped it chart, but not enough to get it any higher than #71. Also, why did we prefer Loverboy to these guys?

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