The thirty-fourth chart week of the year was good luck for many debuting songs, as a lot of them made the Top 40. Over the entire decade, less than forty of them missed out. So we’re breaking up this week in only two parts. Here is The Other Sixty from the first half of the 1980s.
August 23rd, 1980
The law firm of Ray, Goodman and Brown are here if you’ve ever suffered from heartbreak, heartache, or rheumatoid arthritis. You know they had you in their thoughts. And now they have you in their prayers. Their cover of the Glenn Miller and Ink Spots number, which reached #1 by the Platters in 1956, will peak at #47.
The O’Jays rode that Philly Soul love train through the mid-80s. But after their Top 30 hit Forever Mine, which peaked earlier in 1980, they never reached the Top 40 again. This track, which will go down after hitting #55, was from their album The Year 2000. Not only did the band make it to that year, but their last album was released in 2019. So they made it another forty years after doing it for almost twenty up until this point.
After the death of guitarist Terry Kath, the band was aimless, and their music lacked focus. Their albums 13 and XIV did not produce any Top 40 hits. This track wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. It will flash and crash up to #56. Peter Cetera will hook up with David Foster, and by 1982, they’ll start a brand new Top 40 chapter.
Journey is still another from busting out on the charts. Until then, they are still releasing singles that are geared more towards performing live than to radio airplay. Steve Perry is in the kitchen making eggs, but the girl sneaks out the back door at #55.
Long before Lorde or even Flight Of The Conchords, New Zealand was represented musically in the States by anything involving Neil Finn. Split Enz was actually formed by his brother, Tim, in the early 70s, but by the time of their fifth album, True Colours, Neil had virtually taken over the group. This early New Wave classic is the band’s only chart hit, reaching #53. Neil will form the trio, Crowded House in the mid-80s and have two big Top 10 hits in 1987.
After working hard throughout the 70s, MJ nabbed three Top 40 hits by the end of the decade, including Bluer Than Blue. It’s a shame that momentum didn’t last into the 80s because he continued to put out quality Westcoast flavored folk-pop. This will be his last chart hit, which will move up only three more spots and remind everyone what his favorite color is.
And now for a Power pop classic delivered by a quartet out of Toronto, Canada. How many stations saved this one for their Friday afternoon shift, waiting for that synth slide and that excellent opening line,” Nothing matters but the weekend.” Unfortunately, this one switched to neutral at #43. Also, thirteen-week into its chart run, it became a two-sided hit with This Beat Goes On. The two songs are segued together as one on their debut album, The Kings Are Here.
August 29th, 1981
How does the Queen of Soul and a jazz guitarist/singer at the height of his fame completely miss on this beautiful ballad? Man, Donald was right when he sang hard times befallen the soul survivors only months earlier. The commentary hit #10. The reality peaks at #46.
August 28th, 1982
When it comes to rock, this quartet is the pride of Wichita, Kansas. They deliver a Power pop gem that should have garnered lots more airplay. Instead, the 45 takes a small vacation at #67.
After Chris spent time as the trio Cotton, Lloyd & Christian, he made the obvious move to Christian music in the late 70s, with a quick secular pitstop in 1981. I’m not going to say this medley cover of two Motown hits was unnecessary. I’m just not sure what the goal was in taking the Soul out of Soul classics. It debuts at its peak.
The Four Tops had their biggest hit in years in 1981 with When She Was My Girl. Casablanca Records, which was focused on not imploding, destroyed that momentum with a lackluster follow-up album, One More Mountain. This is an OK track, but when you have a dude like Levi Stubbs singing, you need to totally up your songwriting game. The tears will flow, and the heart will break at #84.
August 27th, 1983
I listen to a single like this and wonder why this band was a one-hit-wonder. It’s another catchy compact synth-pop song that should have easily followed Too Shy through the door. Instead, it lets go at #78.
Fun fact: The woman in the video is Carmen Squire, daughter of Yes’ Chris Squire.
After finally scoring a Top 40 hit with That’s Love, co-produced by Steve Winwood, the former Traffic drummer released this follow-up single. Steve is back again playing keys and guitar in a sparse arrangement over a Linn drum pattern. It doesn’t have the immediacy or catchiness of the former hit, which accounts for its #75 showing.
YES. What a jam! I was so psyched to see these guys play this song live in my hometown at a small festival after loving this track for years. Written and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, this was the song they were working on it late into the evening one night and missed their flight to join the Time on tour, which prompted their firing by Prince. That synth bass is so fat and juicy. I heard this song a lot in the Summer of 83, and I’m dumbfounded that it stalled out at #55. It was a #2 Soul smash and prompted many sampling sessions and cover versions, the quirkiest being Beats International’s Dub Be Good To Me, a #1 UK hit produced by Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim.
“Well, they didn’t really care for the album track. Maybe a live version will do the trick.” That was probably a real record company conversation about this song, which peaked a#68 in 1977 and re-released from Plays Live in 1983, failing to rise above #84. Today, it’s regarded as a classic.
August 25th, 1984
This British trio was one of my favorites bands of the 80s. They wrote so many catchy songs, it was easy to overlook how musically adventurous they were. After two big hits from the fourth album, Into The Gap, they followed them up with this single about how love can one get one through the monotony of life and work. It will just miss the Casey call at #44, but it will be their biggest UK hit peaking at #2.
Here’s a band from the Providence, RI scene just like John Cafferty, albeit with a more original sound and look. Mixing country with New Wave, or as their guitarist put it, a cross between Gene Autry and Devo, they released two EPs before their first full-length album, Scenic Views. Their only chart single got up to #86 before falling off the bull.