In Terms Of Belief And Belonging

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Let’s review this mostly deserving list of The Other Sixty from the twenty-second chart week of 1986 up through 1989.

June 7th, 1986

85. Krokus – School’s Out

Fondue, Swatches, and Krokus – Switzerland sure knows how to party, neutrally. Their second and final chart hit in the States is a cover of the Alice Cooper 1972 classic that will climb to #67. Gwar did a version as well.

86. TKA – One Way Love

The Latin freestyle trios weren’t all female. Here are three guys from Harlem who were happy to let a producer throw some synth bass and a Roland TR- 808 pleas of Girl and Oh Girl and C’mon Girl. The only reason people who dance to this would be the coke and/or amyl nitrates. It gets boring pretty fast. The single traveled one way up to #75 and then went the other way.

88. John Eddie – Jungle Boy

If you ever wondered where Eddie Murphy got his white boy dance from, check out the video to this song. Actually, I think George Michael might have co-opted his look for the Faith video too. John wanted to bring real rock and roll back and almost succeeded with this pop stomper, which swung up to #52.

94. Sly Fox – Stay True

After having a surprise smash with Let’s Go All The Way, the follow-up from Mudbone Cooper and Michael Camacho is debuting at its peak. It has gone all the way that it will go.

95. Jackson Browne – In The Shape Of A Heart

Jackson Browne had a good run on the charts since Doctor My Eyes in 1972. But all good runs must come to an end and so it does for him with one of his best songs. His last chart hit, a tribute to his first wife, who OD’d in 1976 will beat its way up to #70.

All the debuts during this chart week in 1987 made the Top 40.

June 4th, 1988

89. Scorpions – Rhythm Of Love

I bet the Scorpions were pissed. Here they were doing pop metal for almost two decades, and all they had to show for it was one measly Top 30 and a bill from Rosetta Stone. Meanwhile, lighter wannabe acts like Poison were racking up the hits. So they put out a song that sounded like Cinderella with a thick German accent and got back on the charts. Although it peaked at #75, they’d have their big smash in a few years, a power ballad called Wind Of Change which reached #4 in 1991

June 3rd, 1989

89. Whistle – Right Next To Me

When they couldn’t cross over as hip hop artists, they decided to record one ballad after another until one stuck. This one, written by Melvin Riley of Ready For The World, got them on the charts and blow its way up to #60. Few weddings have this one requested.

93. The Jacksons – Nothin’ (That Compares 2 U)

How did the Jacksons mess up this Babyface/L.A. Reid jam? Even Sheena Easton could get it right. This was a no-brainer to hit the Top 40, and yet there’s something that comes off so fake. Maybe they were too old for the new jack swing. Perhaps they shouldn’t have dissed Tito on the track. It reached the Soul Top 5 but flattened out at #77 on the Pop charts.

96. Swing Out Sister – Waiting Game

After breaking out with their debut album in 1987, SOS returns as a duo and goes all-in on the 1960s holiday in Italy vibe. This is a world steeped in the sounds of Jimmy Webb and Burt Bacharach on a Hi-fi while you sipped cappuccino, practiced Esperanto while relaxing in your Eames chair. I was hooked on anything these two folks did from here on out. This will only reach #86. Also, they’re big in Japan.

97. Vanessa Williams – Darlin’ I

Vanessa keeps turning lemons into lemonade with her third chart single from her debut The Right Stuff. This tender ballad will shoot like a rocket into the Soul & AC Top 10 but will fizzle on the Hot 100 at #88

98. TKA – You Are The One

The reason I didn’t really like freestyle was because of how the producers found the most irritating sounds on a keyboard and used it to play a riff over and over. The male singers sang so seriously like someone told them they were recording What’s Going On 2. This song was released as a single from the Lean On Me soundtrack, so it gets to sit side by side with the Bill Withers classic. That makes me shudder. It reached #91, but even that was too high.

Throwing Down With The Radical Sacks

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Let’s review The Other Sixty from the twenty-second chart week of 1984 and 1985. Keep your expectations low.

June 2nd, 1984

82. Juice Newton – A Little Love

By 1984 Juice was a little bit Country and a little bit rock n roll. Trying to be all things to all people kept her from having hits on any chart. This one will peak at #44. Once she decided to focus solely on Country, she’d score three #1s on that chart in the mid-80s. That also meant there was an opening for a new Juice, and Oran Jones applied for it in 1986.

85. Timmy Thomas – Gotta Give A Little Love (Ten Years After)

Timmy Thomas created a stone-cold soul classic with 1973’s sparse, organ-driven Why Can’t We Live Together? Drake sampled it for his hit Hotline Bling in 2015, introducing it to an entirely new audience. That song is TT’s legacy. This track, a soundtrack cut to the Tom Hanks comedy Bachelor Party, could have been sung by anyone and made the same impact. For Tim, it’s his return to the Hot 100 after a nine-year absence. He was rewarded with a #80 showing and Cole’s Porsche.

87. Big Country – Wonderland

In an attempt to capitalize on the band’s success of In A Big Country, the record company rushed out a four-song EP called Wonderland. It may have killed their momentum here in the States as it only moved up one spot, and no subsequent singles ever charted again. That’s unfortunate because they recorded a lot of cool songs that were ignored, such as Look Away and King Of Emotion.

88. Orion The Hunter – So You Ran

Because it always takes Tom Scholz years to complete a Boston album, the other members usually get fidgety and restless. And sometimes their restlessness bites them in the ass. When guitarist Barry Goudreau recorded a solo album with the other remaining members of Boston, it pissed Scholz off so much he kicked him out of the band. So Barry formed a new band called Orion, later Orion The Hunter. Boston singer Brad Delp sang backing vocals on a few songs and made sure to let Tom know he was committed to Boston. OTH’s only charting single will shoot an arrow that hits as high as #57.

Fun fact: Brad Delp left Boston after 1986’s Third Stage LP and joined Goudreau in a new band called Return To Zero or RTZ. They would have a Top 30 hit in 1992 called Until Your Love Comes Back Around.

90. Fire Inc. – Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young

When Jim Steinman writes a song, you better take a seat. It’s gonna be a while. You could play side one of any Supremes album in the time it takes him to communicate his ideas through a single piece of music. Call it Brogressive Pop. Matching Steinman with an overblown movie such as Streets Of Fire seemed perfect to a coked-out producer with lots of cash to burn. This was one of two songs Jim recorded and produced using the vocals of Face To Face’s Laurie Sargent and singer Holly Sherwood. In the film, the song was poorly lip-synched by Diane Lane. It’s a glorious mess that sounds like a Footloose reject and more than earned its #80 showing.

95. Newcleus – Jam On It

Wikki-wikki-wikki-wikki…The sped-up vocal technology used to great effect in 1982’s Murphy’s Law by Cheri and those Cookie Puss commercials from Carvel is used here to signal folks to pull out their cardboard and start some head spinning. Hip-hop was still be treated as a novelty, and songs like this didn’t help the cause, even though it’s considered a classic now. I heard this so much back then that I never need to listen to it again. It’ll get jam-j-j-j-jammed up at #56.

June 1st, 1985

82. Foreigner – Reaction To Action

I had written about The Truth’s Weapons of Love a few weeks back, and as I listened to it, I was wondering why that song sounded so familiar. Now I know why. It’s a blatant ripoff of this single. Play the intros back to back and tell me what you think.  If you need to steal from someone, make sure the original isn’t watered down bland-tasting mush like this. That’s my reaction to this (in)action, and collectively, we put the kibosh on it at #54.

92. Nile Rodgers – Let’s Go Out Tonight

For as much as I absolutely love Chic, I did not get into Nile’s or Bernard Edwards’ solo albums at the time. I can appreciate them much more now and understand why they didn’t perform well back then. This song sounds out of place or otherworldly for 1985, even as it uses contemporary drum machines and arrangements. The night was over for Nile at #88, but I ended being named producer of the year by Billboard in 1985.

94. Go West – Call Me

Here’s the follow-up to We Close Our Eyes, another slice of catchy synth-driven pop that just didn’t catch on in 1985. Could we not have made some room for this duo amidst the onslaught back then of Bryan Adams and Springsteen? Instead, they had to settle for a #54 zenith. Also, can someone tell me why these guys continued to rock the greasy mechanic look in their videos? It reminds of something Sinatra once said – “…And what’s with the sneering? They want to like you. That’s what killed Dennis Day’s career – contempt for the audience.

 

 

Yourself Minus Someone Else

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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

87. Joe Sun – Shotgun Rider

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.

90. REO Speedwagon – Time For Me To Fly

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

82. 38 Special – Fantasy Girl

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.

85. Rush – Tom Sawyer

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.

90. Change – Paradise

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

81. Cheap Trick – If You Want My Love

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.

85. Ashford and Simpson – Street Corner

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.

87. Chic – Soup For One

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.

89. Ambrosia – How Can You Love Me

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

77. Greg Kihn Band – Love Never Fails

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.

90. Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly – Love Is The Key

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.

92. Red Rockers – China

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.

94. Loz Netto – Fade Away

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.

95. Nona Hendryx – Keep It Confidential

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.