We’re smack in the middle of the decade doing our review of The Other Sixty during chart week thirty. Let’s review the years 1983 up to 1986.
July 30th, 1983
Let’s start off with a live cut from The Doobies’ first farewell tour or maybe the farewell to Michael McDonald tour. [of course, if we get our shit together, we can see him perform with them sometime in 2021.] It’s a cut that Michael wrote with Carly Simon that the band recorded for their 1977 Livin’ On The Fault Line album. Carly recorded her version for Boys In The Trees, and it became a Top 10 in early 1978. The band’s live release will reach #79 and cap a prolific year run with Mike in the group.
Here’s a Power pop quartet from California led by Peter Case, who formed the group after The Nerves split up in 1978. The song was released as a single and performed well regionally. After it was added to the Valley Girl soundtrack, it was re-released and charted nationally, reaching #82.
Aretha was back in the Top 40 in 1982 after a six-year absence with the Luther Vandross/ Marcus Miller produced Jump To It. They got the gig for the follow-up album, and the title track is another burnin’ barbeque boogie. It will be her nineteenth #1 Soul hit, but for some reason, Pop radio didn’t get it right by adding to their playlists, and it faltered at #61.
Seven years after their monster #1 smash Kiss And Say Goodbye and three years removed from their Top 5 hit Shining Star, this Jersey City quartet is back some rare uptempo groove for a change, sounding like Jump To It performed by the Whispers. It will get them another Top 5 R&B smash while climbing to #72 before losing its mind.
July 28th, 1984
This song starts out big with a little dash of opera courtesy of Freddie before settling into a ballad that is reminiscent of Play The Game at times. Their third US single from The Works will be yet another UK top 10 but will be largely ignored in the States, only moving up another five spots.
I’ve always found David Lee Roth’s quote about music writers hilarious. I’m paraphrasing, but it goes something like, “Of course critics love Elvis Costello more than [Van Halen] us. That’s because they all look like him.” And while VH was crushing the charts with 1984, EC and his pals faced their harshest critical backlash upon the release of their eighth album, Goodbye Cruel World. He had previously announced he was breaking up the band and retiring from music. Surely this wasn’t the way he was going to go out? While it’s still considered a misstep mostly for its slick production, I’ve always loved this single. I never thought Elvis took it that seriously, and with his full career in review, you can look back see that maybe he was trying to blow it all up and start fresh. Big kudos to Daryl Hall, who sings backing vocals, blending his voice as much as possible rather than overtake Elvis’. The flame will die at #56, but he’ll return in five years with his second Top 40 hit, Veronica.
Irene had already racked up six Top 40 hits before this single release, which will be her last chart hit. This sultry ballad should have reached a higher number than #78. I wonder what would have happened if it found the right 1984 film to pair it with. It will enter the top #10 on the AC charts, so maybe your teeth got drilled to this.
One degree off from Irene is singer Karen Kamon, who sang on the Flashdance and D.C. Cab movie soundtracks. This was her only charting single debuting at its peak. She was also married to producer Phil Ramone from 1984 until his passing in 2013.
This is a lost gem. Completely buried on a Motown subsidiary label, Morrocco Records, this trio of ladies – Leah Kunkel, Renee Armand, and Marty Gwinn Townsend, all of whom had recorded previous solo albums (Marty was part of Bishop & Gwinn.) released this single and it faded into the ether at #66. With a consistant A&R push, this could have easily reached the Top 40. In 2001 they put out their second album, Woman and Other Stories, minus Armand.
July 27th, 1985
Yes, that Billy Crystal, Jody from Soap. He decided to create a dance single based on his Fernando Llamas impersonations on SNL that no one watched or laughed at. The title is the catchphrase and supposed punchline. It just means if jam anything down people’s throats enough times, they might swallow. This one will choke at #58, dahlings.
Here’s a female Dutch quartet who release one album in 1985. This single sounds very European, as in no one told them that Disco was over, only to add more synths. Their only chart hit gets gangrene at #81.
This is the second single from the auspicious debut of the L.A. cowpunk outfit led by Maria McKee. It was co-written by Steven Van Zandt and Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers, so they had some friends in high places. Little Steven even plays the guitar solo on this catchy track. This unlucky single reached #73 and started falling.
Here’s the Rockford, Illinois quartet trying and failing with a terrific radio-ready single. Produced by Jack Douglas, this Power Pop ballad would be stopped short at #44.
August 2nd, 1986
I bought all four of these 1986 Other Sixty debuts on 45. I must have had a lot of Summer job money burning a hole in my shorts pocket. This was the title track to the Danny DeVito/ Bette Midler film that should have been funnier than it was. [They teamed up again for Drowning Mona, which is way better.] This debuts as the Stones’ One Hit (To The Body) disappears from the charts. It will find Ruth at #51 and walk away.
Another soundtrack tune, this one to the Rob Lowe/Demi Moore rom-com, About Last Night. This one finds Sheena leaning more on her early 80s sweet girl image rather than her sexy dance music persona. So it confused fans a bit and only went as far as #43, which was not good.
Gwen was a singer and songwriter, who got her big break when Ben E. King recorded Supernatural Thing and took it to #9 in 1975. She had a handful of solo hits on the R&B charts in the 80s. But her biggest one was this, a #1 Soul and Dance Club smash, which just missed the Casey call at #42. This song always reminds me of that Eddie Murphy sketch in Raw in which he talks about money-hungry women, and references this song.
Being ten years too late for glam rock didn’t stop this sextet from releasing their debut album, Laughing at the Pieces in 1986. Their faithful cover of Norman Greenbaum’s 1970 Top 10 smash was their only chart hit and peaked at #69. I guess it was going to the place that’s the best.