We finish up the decade on the twenty-seventh chart week reasonably strong. There are a few bombs in these debuts from 1987 through 1989. But most of these tracks were 45 purchases back then. Let’s review.
July 11th, 1987
This was the first single from James Todd’s second album, Bigger And Deffer, which it most certainly was. Musically there’s not much there but a synth beat and drum machine, and even though his words can be silly sometimes, his mic command and flow are so confident and steady, he grabs your attention with every word he says. A track this good is only going to crossover because of sales rather than reluctant Pop programmers, which is why it forgets Oreos and eats Cool J cookies at #84.
Fun fact: The chorus breaks feature a sample from the Theme from S.W.A.T. by Rhythm Heritage. In 2003, he will play a lead role in the movie version.
The follow-up to the band’s only Top 40 smash, Right On Track, is a little more lightweight than the former’s funky dance vibe. But I found it just as catchy and was surprised that it only climbed up to #48. FYI – this band was around since 1979, six years before the film of the same name, and at one point featured Madonna playing drums.
The former horn rock band is in the full throws of Yacht Rock heaven with a single written by Bobby Caldwell & Steve Kipner, sung by Bill Champlin and produced by David Foster. A song like this might have elevated a newer band coming up, but instead, you have veterans trying to jam themselves into a mold that doesn’t fit. They go over in a barrel at #91. Hooray!
96. Ana – Shy Boys
Here’s thirteen-year-old Ana Rodriguez trying to do the teen version of Expose. Did I mention something about getting jammed into an ill-fitting mold? This will inch up two notches before running away.
July 9th, 1988
This New Zealand via L.A .trio had two surprise Top 10 hits in 1987. While they would never hit the Top 40, they consistently put out topnotch pop albums and developed a devoted cult following. The first single from Temple of Low Men is a beauty unto itself and just missed the Casey call, peaking at #42. Leader Neil Finn continues the band with his two sons.
There’s a former NFL safety named Stevie Brown, who played for the NY Giants in 2012. He led the league that year in takeaways and still owns the single-season Giants record for interception yards. My brother & I called him Stevie B, aka the Postman. Every time he got the ball, I’d sing the chorus of this song. So that’s the best memory I can muster for this #43 track.
There was a mini-explosion of music from Australia in the mid to late 80s. But unlike the Canadian takeover of the Top 40 in the early 70s, very few bands from Down Under had success. In fact, there’s a line of artists that didn’t even chart. The few that did, such as Jimmy Barnes, had to be pushed hard. The former lead singer of Cold Chisel has this single from his third solo album, Freight Train Heart, debut at its peak. It will be his last chart entry on the Hot 100.
I’m thinking this, and the former single may have canceled each other out, even if their vibes were a little different. This was the third single from Man Of Colours, which already spun out two big hits, Crazy and Electric Blue. It’s another track worthy of much more airplay but will flatline at #88.
What exactly did Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel do to deserve this treatment? This awful New Jack-lite version of their Top 10 hit, produced by Jay King of Club Nouveau, will have its confidence shaken at #79. It went to #1 in New Zealand, holding off the above Crowded House track.
A classic movie like this deserved a way better theme song. No diss to the System or Nile Rodgers, who co-wrote and co-produced this. Those guys are all awesome. I mean for as much as you’ve probably seen this film or caught it by accident on late-night TV, you should be able to hum the theme a little, amirite? Molds, etc, and the record companies that improperly utilize them. Everything breaks down at #91.
July 8th, 1989
What a debut form this NY quartet. Everyone in the area knew about these guys, and after months and months of playing Cult of Personality on MTV, it forced its way onto Pop radio, hitting the Top 20. These guts were incredibly talented, and their music was fierce and deep. This was the next single released written by guitarist Vernon Reid and Brooklyn poet Tracie Morris about the destruction and gentrification of multi-generational neighborhoods that were beginning in New York City. It got a lot of Rock airplay, but the letter blows away at #82.
There were not a lot of women in the glam metal scene outside of groupies and those forced to dance in cages. And the others who were in bands were sexualized way more than the men. This New Jersey band was led by Sandi Saraya, and I’m sure she was treated like a piece of meat by record execs. She actually has an excellent voice, and the band’s debut was better than most in the genre. So, of course, the singles stiffed, such as this one at #64.
Why the hell did this take so long to debut on the Hot 100? I’d been rocking this one all Spring. In fact in two weeks from now, it will hit #1 on the R&B charts. This New Jack classic just missed an AT40 mention when it gets, you guessed it, turned away at #42. His other chart hit, Games will peak at #68 in 1992.
Fun fact: Chuckii is Barry White’s Godson.