Primeval Times With A Little Stimulation

 

This group of The Other Sixty from 1984 through 1986 is filled with icons, veteran musicians, and relatively few unknowns. All but one artist had racked up at least one previous Top 40. Let’s review chart week thirty-eight.

September 22nd, 1984

68. Barbra Streisand – Left In The Dark

It took four years for Babs to follow up her 1980 Guilty LP, mostly because she was busy filming Yentl. That’s apparent in the haphazard affair called Emotion, with multiple producers scattering lots of different ideas to see what would stick. Nothing will. This is a Jim Steinman song initially recorded for his Bad For Good LP. Giving Streisand a seven-minute overly dramatic opus like this is like giving cocaine to a Tasmanian devil. Everyone will be worn out and entering rehab by the time it peaks at #50.

78. Matthew Wilder – Bouncing Off The Walls

Matthew follows up his double Top 40 hit LP, I Don’t Speak The Language, with his second and final album. The synthy title track will be its only chart single and will cease its bouncing at #52. After getting his start as an engineer for acts such as the Village People, Patrick Juvet, and Ashford & Simpson, he put down the mic again to become a pop producer, helming the boards for Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson, and No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom.

Fun fact: In the 1998 Disney film Mulan, Matthew provides the vocals for the character of Ling.

86. The Go-Go’s – Yes Or No

The Go-Go’s were three albums in but this point, and you can hear the songwriting getting better. Even as the band was splitting apart, this quintet sounds like a seamless unit. Bassist Jane Wiedlin announced her departure from the band as radio answered No, and the single only moved up to spots.

88. Wang Chung – Don’t Be My Enemy

Wang Zhong was a Qing-dynasty scholar, who most thought to be an arrogant asshole. Jack Hues, vocalist for Wang Chung, probably didn’t mean to come off the same way. But then again, he did ask everybody to Wang Chung, so he was complicit in making folks act like a jerk. So this New Wave pop song has no moral ground to stand on. That’s why it stalls out at #86.

September 21st, 1985

73. Cheech & Chong – Born In East L.A.

Cheech and Tommy’s drug humor was definitely wearing thin as the mellow 70s turned into the coked-out 80s. But the Boss’ Born In The U.S.A. album gave Marin some inspiration. Putting on his Weird Al toboggan, he penned a song about a Latino-American getting wrongly deported to Mexico. Considering how Bruce’s song was about how crappy we treat military veterans, that was an unintentionally creative use for a parody.  Their first chart hit in eight years will climb up to #48.

Fun fact: Cheech wrote this one by himself, and Chong had nothing to do with it. Still, it was released under the Cheech and Chong name.

83. Jennifer Holliday – Hard Times For Lovers

Jennifer is trying to get her boogie on with this Arthur Baker-produced dance track. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work because her strong suit is sitting back and belting out a ballad. While the lead single from her second album, Say You Love Me, will make the R&B Top 20, it will start going at #69 on the Hot 100.

88. Diana Ross – Eaten Alive

Could they have fit any more superstars in the recording booth? You have The Bee Gees writing and producing, while Michael Jackson is singing back up and Barry Gibb is vamping in the background. All on a very aggressive dance-pop song that has Diana come off like a psychotic zombie. What a glorious mess. It will reach #77, then disappear in one bite.

89. The Commodores – Janet

Were they singing about Miss Jackson? The actress who played Wilona on Good Times? Or maybe they were sent here from The Good Place? Who knows. The Lionel-less Alabamans do their best with this Bobby Caldwell-penned track from their Nightshift LP, but it will only inch deux spots.

Fun fact: The synths, bass, and drums were arranged and programmed by Paul Fox, who produced one of my favorite XTC albums, Oranges And Lemons.

90. Eddie & The Tide – One In A Million

Here’s a quintet from Berkeley, CA, not the school of music. They were one of those bands discovered on MTV’s Basement Tapes and released five albums in the 80s. Their only chart hit was from the second LP, Go Out And Get It, will not win the lottery, and instead only move up five spaces from its debut.

94. Dead Or Alive – Lover Come Back To Me

This Liverpool quartet ruled the Summer with their #11 smash, You Spin Me Round. Their SAW-produced second album, Youthquake, had many catchy dance songs on it, but they chose this one as the follow-up. It will be a hit throughout Europe and the clubs in the U.S., but it will get kicked right down at #75.

95. Gino Vannelli – Hurts To Be In Love

This ballad, the second single from Gino’s Black Cars album, should have easily slid into the Top 40. But by 1985, he was on a smaller label than A&M and Arista, and they just couldn’t push it up any higher than #57. Good news for all you dentists out there – it will reach #6 on the AC charts. Drill away!

September 27th, 1986

85. David Lee Roth – Goin’ Crazy!

I assume David thought that all he needed to do was find a great guitar player that agreed with everything he said and did, and he would be as successful or more than Van Halen. It’s not that this song is awful. You just know that Eddie would have rejected it or buried it under five synths and ten-string tapping solos. David actually sings that he’s going coconuts, so now he’s stealing from Donny and Marie. MTV played this video so much, which explains its #66 zenith.

93. Ashford & Simpson – Count Your Blessings

The duo behind some of Motown’s most during hits is back with their final Pop entry. From their album, Real Love, this will reach #4 on the R&B charts but will be wholly ignored by Pop radio, leaving it behind at #84. That’s a shame because this sweet midtempo jam is one of the best recordings in their catalog.

Fun fact: Valerie Simpson’s brother, Ray, became the lead singer of the Village People, just in time for Can’t Stop the Music, but he kept playing the good cop until 2017.

95. Device – Who Says

This pop-rock trio led by singer-songwriter Holly Knight follows up their #35 hit, Hanging On A Heart Attack, with another catchy tune that keeps the synths down and turns up the guitar a little bit. With lead vocals by Paul Engemann, this will only rise to #79, and the band will split up.

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