Damn, this is a mighty fine list of debuts during chart week twenty-nine during the mid-80s. Such a shame they fell into the forgotten stew of The Other Sixty. Let’s review and enjoy!
July 23rd, 1983
The San Francisco octet, who finally scored a Top 10 hit with She’s A Beauty, followed it up with a nice slice of funky soul, co-written by Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire. It’s a great track, but the abrupt genre change might have thrown pop programmers who went silent on it after it reached #52.
After experimenting with synths on their last two albums, the Tejas trio dives in fully with a drum machine and a sequencer for their Eliminator LP. Why play the blues why you can program them? The first single, Gimme All Your Lovin’ reached #37, but this follow-up, despite its MTV airtime and rock radio airplay, returned their tux at #56.
Nothing like an 80s song mixing cocaine and nuclear war metaphors sung by a couple of cornrowed white folks with a fiddle solo to boot. It’s a catchy song, but I can’t tell you how many buskers I meet that sound and look like this, minus the fun. Looks like they run out of lemon Pledge at #74.
Within a year of meeting and forming the band, R.E.M. recorded their first single at Mitch Easter’s Drive-In Studios in Winston Salem, NC. They released it as a 45 on a local label called HibTone and immediately sold out. After recording a 5-song EP called Chronic Town in 1982, they were signed to I.R.S. Records, releasing their debut album, Murmur, in April 1983. Their lead single was a re-recorded version of their first single, which climbed to #78 on the national charts. Like all of their early work, it makes no sense, and it’s fricking awesome.
One of the things that confused folks in the 80s is that if they heard synths and drum machines, they assumed it was New Wave. This song is just a product of its time – chanson with a modern arrangement. It was let into the party, then abruptly told to leave. This Frenchmen took this song to #1 in many European countries, but in the States, it had a #62 zenith.
July 21st, 1984
Remember how jacked up we were for the 1984 Summer Olympics in L.A. with no commies around to hog our glory? We were so into it that we decided to record music to play each time we won, like this one. Written initially just for the track team, featuring lead vocals from future Device & Animotion singer Paul Engemann, it became our unofficial theme every time we kicked another countries ass. On the chart, it barely reached up to #81. Of course, it went to #2 in Switzerland.
The Aussie sextet follows up their #58 single, Original Sin with a little bit of synth-funk. They would apply this formula on their 1987 album, Kick, by removing all the raw edges and smoothing out their sound. Until then, this message will get lost at #77.
July 20th, 1985
I’m really not sure why the Mary Jane Girls didn’t have more hits on Pop radio. A funky dance track like this one, which went Top 10 on the Soul charts, should have easily surpassed its #42 peak, especially after the momentum of In My House hitting the Top 10.
This was my jam in the Summer of 1985. I loved the vibe of this London trio. They were like a funkier, synth-driven version of Sade. They recorded five albums, but this single was their only chart hit. It only reached #13 in their native UK, but was a #1 Soul hit here and just missed the Casey call along with the Mary Jane Girls, peaking at #43.
Is it fun being a one-hit-wonder twice? Ask Limahl, who became one with Kajagoogoo in 1983 with Too Shy. When he was kicked out of the band, he became one as a solo artist two years with Never Ending Story. His second and last chart hit will sink like a horse in quicksand at #51.
Here’s another key 1985 Summer song, sung by the superbly mulleted Paul King. This New Wave classic will be a #2 smash in England but will only find misery at #55.
The former lead guitarist for the Time is back with a funk ballad, the third single from his self-titled debut. It will be the group’s third straight Top 10 Soul single but will fizzle out at #76 on the Hot 100.
After two albums with Vince Clarke in the duo, Yaz (or Yazoo), Alison nabbed a Top 40 hit on her own with Invisible. Her follow-up was even better, and my favorite of hers. But it will only resurrect an #82 showing.
July 26th, 1986
This is where the Bruce Hornsby legend started, with a flop. The band’s first single from their debut The Way It Is will only reach #72. RCA only killed this band’s fortunes before they started. I mean, this was the original album cover. Thankfully the label released the title track next, and everything began to click for these guys. And, this single will be re-released next Spring and reach the Top 20
This newly paired down duo loved to dabble in melancholy percussive New Wave, so they were an odd choice to write and record the theme to a Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason. Until you watch the movie and realize it’s way more sad than funny. For me, I still bought it and watched the movie a ton of times on cable. But I understand its #54 peak. It was co-produced by Geoff Downes of the Buggles and Asia fame.
If I didn’t express it earlier, I love these three singles from 1986 and bought them all back then. This one would definitely be my favorite of the three, a newly recorded version of a song originally found on the band’s 1984 LP, True Colours. They were in the midst of trading their jazz-funk past with a pop-funk future. After crushing it with Something About You, this one didn’t do as well in the States boiling over at #87. They’ll back in the Top 20 next year with Lessons In Love.