Making Some Sense When There’s No Sense At All

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Every single artist who debuts during the twenty-sixth chart week between 1985 and 1989 has already scored a Top 40 hit. [OK Debbie Harry didn’t do solo, but she did with Blondie.] So let’s not feel bad for any of this batch of The Oher Sixty. Let’s review.

June 29th, 1985

84. Carly Simon – Tired Of Being Blonde

Label changes can be a tricky prospect, especially for veteran artists. Carly’s switch from Elektra Records to Warner Brothers in 1980 started out OK with the #11 hit, Jesse, but that’s all she would have to show for it over three albums. Her one album switch to Epic in 1985 yielded this single, written by Larry Raspberry, which should have been a slam dunk Top 40 hit. But they botched it, and the roots grew in at #70. She’d sign with Arista in two years and have much better luck. Also, G.E. Smith, then playing with Hall & Oates, performed the guitar solo.

Fun fact: The video for this song was directed by actor Jeremy Irons.

89. Peabo Bryson – Take No Prisoners (In The Game Of Love)

The pride of Greenville, SC, is back with something funkier (as funky as you could be in 1985)  than his usual dramatic ballad. That might have thrown everyone off because it only peaked at #78 on the Hot 100 and #39 on the R&B charts.

90. Eric Clapton – See What Love Can Do

Clapton’s follow-up to his Top 30 hit Forever Man will only move up one notch.

July 5th, 1986

95. Icehouse – No Promises

This is one of a few singles that puts me right back in the Summer of 86. After the first time I heard it, I rushed to Record World to get the 45. This sextet from Sydney, Australia used a lot of different synths to augment their sound, so by this time, they were experts in creating layers and finding the right textures. Released initially Down Under in the Fall of 1985, by the time it reached the States, their second chart entry only hit the heights of #79.

96. Starship – Before I Go

Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick are still knee deep in the moolah with their fourth release from the first proper Starship album. This one will go at #68, but there will be more singles to loathe next year.

98. Jermaine Jackson – Do You Remember Me?

Oh yeah, you’re Michael’s brother, Marlon Randy Jermaine. Are the Jacksons still together? Can you get me Michael’s autograph? Is he OK? When’s his new album coming out? Tito Jermaine had his last Top 40 hit earlier in the year with I Think It’s Love, and this one gets amnesia at #71. Also, can you get Janet’s autograph?

July 4th, 1987

85. Debbie Harry – In Love With Love

Miss Angela Trimble is back with another single from her second solo LP, Rockbird, produced by Seth Justman of the J. Geils Band. It was written by her and Chris Stein as a sequel of sorts to Heart Of Glass. It will hit #1 on dance charts but only #70 on the Hot 100.

91. Laura Branigan – Shattered Glass

Laura’s new single from her fifth album, Touch, already sounds five years out of date. It was further mangled by the SAW production team. I’ve always wondered what her career might have been with the right songs, producer, and studio musicians. Instead, this one breaks apart at #48.

92. Night Ranger – Hearts Away

Night Ranger’s album, Big Life, was a commercial flop on the heels on their last record, 7 Wishes. This ballad was the second single to miss the Top 40 and will barely move two spots before falling off.

95. The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Stand Back

This quartet from Texas was at it for over a decade before having mainstream success with their brand of no-nonsense blues-rock.  Listening to this song today, I’m amazed at how many new bands have adopted this sound. Back then, it stuck out in a good way, but their singles mainly were played on Rock radio. This horn-laden track will sit down at #76.

July 2nd, 1988

89. White Lion – Tell Me

When a tidal wave comes round, it is not choosy of what it sweeps up in its path. In the case of the glam metal tsunami of the late 80s, we have exhibit A. This 45 will have a #58 zenith.

July 1st, 1989

73. Aretha Franklin & Whitney Houston – It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Ever Gonna Be

This was a missed opportunity between two amazing singers, divas, and icons. It’s a horribly produced track with a crappy drum machine arrangement. The NEw Jack Teddy Riley remix further exacerbates the issue. The fact that it climbed to #41 means we all wanted this duet to work even though it’s awful.

90. Dead Or Alive – Come Home With Me Baby

By the last 80s, DOA was running low on inspiration, so they just copied whatever was successful at the time. That’s probably why this track sounds like something Information Society would record minus the Star Trek samples. Even though it was a #1 Dance smash, Pop radio left it alone at #69.

91. Robert Palmer – Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming

This was the third charting release from his 1988 Heavy Nova LP, a cover of the Jermaine & Michael Jackson should-have-been hit. The single received an Al B. Sure! remix that featured Robert annoyingly yelling at himself to wake up after falling asleep in the gutter. The female vocals were performed by B.J. Nelson. It went back to sleep at #60.

93. U2 – All I Want Is You

This may be one of the beautiful songs that U2 ever recorded, so simple and understated, passionate yet peaceful. Even its use in Reality Bites five years from now doesn’t ruin it for me. It’s a travesty that it couldn’t crawl higher than #83, but maybe it’s because it runs for six-plus minutes. It received considerable airplay in 1994, enough to have it re-enter the charts and make it to #50.

 

 

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