1983 and 1984 always seem to hit a sweet spot for me. Let’s see if it does for you as we review The Other Sixty during chart week twenty-six.
July 2nd, 1983
Smokey carved an excellent solo career out for himself that was finally taking off in the Pop world in the early 80s. Unfortunately, he will be now be entering the dead zone where none of his singles will be successful for the next four years, starting with his album, Touch The Sky. Phoning it in with this album cover didn’t help. But this duet with the former lead singer of High Inergy should have placed higher than #48.
New Star Wars movie. New Meco album. This John Williams track about the destruction of Death Star #2 gets an updated electro-funk arrangement that sounds like the Ewoks going on an Endor cruise. But the fun will be over by #60. Also, does anyone else think that the Minions ripped off the Ewoks’ voices?
Donnie and his cruiser pals try to update their sound with more synths and digital wizardry. Just rock out, dude. That’s what you do best. Following trends is for suckers. He’ll get the blue screen of death at #64.
I’ve always preferred the earlier version of this UK trio to their much later one in which their fun was co-opted by the SAW machine. This would be their third straight UK Top 109, and their first US chart hit. Their combination of tropical drums and 60s Motown girl group stomp would take this track up six more spots than its debut.
Fun fact: Midge Ure of Ultravox directed the video for this song.
It’s hard to remember how huge Toto was in 1983 because Thriller overshadowed everything. But these guys had just picked up six Grammys from their Toto IV release, which had spun off four Top 40 hits with three of them hitting the Top 10. This single was trying to ride that momentum as they strive for five. IT’s puzzling that this funky as hell track could not go any higher than #73. Even Weezer’s cover of Africa in 2018 climber higher.
Tony “no relation to Mariah” Carey nabs his second chart hit, another single from his I Won’t Be Home Tonight LP. It plays out as a prequel to his later hit The First Day Of Summer and will do a little better than his first charter, getting as high as #64.
Did someone watch the dailies from an episode of Square Pegs and decided to score a scene between Patty and Lauren discussing lip gloss while cramming for a big math test? If so, voila. Also, that idea is more interesting than this song, which is why it bops up three places before gagging on a spoon. Fer sure.
June 30th, 1984
Martha & the Muffins were a Canadian rock band who, in 1980, scored an international hit with Echo Beach. It’s a lost New Wave gem. By 1984, the group shrunk down to a duo, shortened their name, and moved towards a dance funk vibe. This commentary of music industry racism produced by Daniel Lanois became an enormous club hit and was the band’s only chart single when it garnered at #63 zenith.
Al partly chose his parodies, usually making sure they were #1 singles from the likes of Queen, Toni Basil, and Joan Jett. This Greg Kihn Band tune only hit #2 but its potential for spoofing for plainly evident. I will also point out that the Alex Trebek revival of said game show was still a year away with the original’s last TV broadcast back in 1979. Still, this is one of my favorites of Al’s even if it only snuck up two more spots before betting and losing it all in Final Jeopardy.
Fun fact: Don Pardo has a spoken word bit during the solo. And Greg Kihn shows up at the end of the video to drive Al off as a nice call back to his own video.
This was an excellent follow-up to their first Top 40 hit, No More Words from their LP, Love Life. Somehow Pop radio missed out on this one, and it would top out at #74. It will be their fourth chart miss, and that will make this band 1 for 5. So they’ll be batting .200 when Giorgio Moroder gives them the call for Top Gun in 1986. The home run call will take your breath away.
It took six albums before Chris had a US Top 40 hit with Don’t Pay The Ferryman in 1983. His follow-up long play, Man On The Line, produced by Rupert Hine, featured Howard Jones & Tina Turner and churned out this single, which almost made it as well. But the emotions subside like a Dan Hill therapy session at #44. Dude, just write a song about your wife. She’ll love that.
The fourth single from Learning To Crawl is a cover of the 1971 Persuaders Top 20 hit. This story of a man who gets his ass kicked for being a cheating bastard is sung by Chrissie Hynde as a witness rather than a victim to this person’s misdeeds. But then again, maybe both. I’m guessing she’s singing to Ray Davies. Featuring piano and backing vocals by Paul Carrack, the line is drawn at #83.
Babyfingers nabbed her first and only Top 40 hit two years ago with Forget Me Nots. Her last Hot 100 entry is another sweet jam, although a bit smoother. It will let go at #78 but will be her best showing on the R&B charts at #2.
Mark Hollis never wanted to be a Pop star, but he and his band became one after It’s My Life hit the Top 40. The follow-up, inspired by the 1971 novel, The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart in which a psychiatrist makes life decisions by rolling dice, will stiff at #89. It will also be a Top 20 Dance hit.