The thirty-fifth chart week is even lighter this week than last. So congrats to all who got above #41. For those that didn’t, let us review you now as we start with 1980 and continue through 1983.
August 30th, 1980
The Disco backlash had a significant impact on Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, with its racist overtones and aggressive exclusions. No longer would they pander to a Pop audience. They could write hits in their sleep. Their latest was at #2, poised to make a five-week run for Diana Ross. For their band, though, they made the music that they wanted to make, and you can hear that shift with the Real People LP. This was the first single, a chewy slice of disco funk with a splash of rock attitude. Soul stations pushed it up to the R&B Top 10, but their Yoda-like proclamation will stall out at #61 on the Pop charts.
This quintet will not make you squeal like a pig. Actually, their sound is of the Westcoast soft rock variety with sprinkles of Christian pop. Led by a trio of brothers from the Janz family, these fellows moved from Calgary to Germany and released three albums before their fourth produced their only chart entry. With a Lee Oskar-sounding harmonica intro, this single will take flight, reach #56 before its exit.
The first single from Teddy’s fourth album, TP, was also featured on the soundtrack to Roadie. This sultry ballad will be another big hit on the R&B charts reaching #3. But Pop radio resisted having their stations TP’d, and this will stall at #52.
Not sure what the thinking was in releasing a ten-year-old former Top 10 as a single from their live album, One For The Road. Maybe it was just to introduce this song to a younger audience. Or Arista Records was trying to make money on The Kinks earlier works. This will have a quick sip of coca-cola at #81 before it splits. And then there’s this.
I like the concept, but the execution doesn’t work. The producer takes two Motown classics and suffocates them under a clunky synth and drum machine arrangement. It will effectively end the chart careers for both involved when this medley reaches #63.
September 5th, 1981
Everyone’s favorite funky Jehovah’s Witness is back with his synth oboe for another wedding ballad. This will be his last chart hit at #67, which will give him more time to knock on doors and convert others such as Prince.
Herb hooks up the drum machines and synths one more time for the first single, the title track, from his new album. It will make the R&B Top 40, but the magic will run on the Hot 100 at #79. Herb will reappropriate this lick for his performance on Double’s Devil’s Ball in 1987.
From the Heavy Metal soundtrack, we get the masters of de-evolution with something that’s neither heavy nor metal. It’s a cover of an Allen Toussaint song that Lee Dorsey turned into a Top 10 hit in 1966. This synthesizer version will just miss the Casey call when the mine collapses at #43. Oh no, where’s Timothy?
September 4th, 1982
How ironic is it that Sheena is singing a song about hating being part of the machinery with a song that sounds like she’s a part of the machinery? Nothing from her album, Music, Money & Madness, made the Top 40, but thankfully she’d rebound in 1983. The cogs get jammed at #57.
Before you wonder why this L.A. band is talking about riding the train around Chicago, that is not what this song is about. Take the L out of lover, and you have over. Pretty tricky, huh? It will make its last stop at #52.
Alabama was the Country act of the 80s, nabbing four Top 40 hits out of seven crossover chart entries. Each one was a #1 Country smash. From their album, Mountain Music, this ballad will get close enough to #65.
September 3rd, 1983
Donna was in the middle of a contract with Geffen Records but somehow still owed Casablanca Records one more album (It would actually get released on Mercury Records who absorbed them.) So she records She Works Hard For The Money, and it becomes her biggest hit of the decade. I love that story. This was her follow-up, a collaboration with the five-boy group, Musical Youth. Both were riding high in 1983, which is puzzling why this song stalled out at #43.
The once-successful 70s band was adrift by the mid-80s, no doubt abetted by various personnel changes and the disappearance of Robbie Steinhardt’s violin. Their music was officially corporate rock indistinguishable from other AOR bands. This single from Drastic Measures burned up to #58 before turning to ashes.
No diss to Bette, but it’s hard to listen to her sing this knowing that Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville gave it the perfect reading it deserved. Bill Medley tried a few years prior, and it wasn’t the same either. Maybe the magic came in changing the title to Don’t Know Much? This one will die like a rose in winter at #77.
This British quartet had a few EuroDisco hits in the late 70s and early 80s, including Dance Yourself Dizzy and Substitute. They hit #45 in the US with My Baby’s Baby. After a few scarce years, they changed their sound, leaning more into a New Wave dance vibe and aimed again at the US market. On a more prominent label, it might have reached higher than #86. It did also chart on the R&B Hot 100 at #52.
There’s not much out there about this pop-rock quartet from L.A. They did manage to chart with this one hit about the travails of divorce proceedings, but it will only move up four notches before going away. I always look for this one album while I crate dig. One day it will be mine. Also, keyboardist Kevin DeSimone did a one-off album with James Jolis in 1979 called Jolis and Simone, which featured a handful of great WestCoast pop, such as Midnight Lady.