This year is flying by as we’ve now reached chart week forty-two. Let’s take a look at the Other Sixty from 1980 up thru 1982.
October 18th, 1980
The Quincy Jones-produced Give Me The Night LP is a West Coast classic with Benson working at the height of his soul power. With each song meticulously arranged and well-performed by the best L.A. studio musicians of the day, it stands as a shining example of breezy California soul-pop. So how come only one song off of this album became a Top 40 hit? Or the question should be, why did Pop radio give up on it? This should have easily followed the title track up into Kasemland. Instead, this R&B Top 10 would only climb to #61.
We all know how Eddie’s career turned out, but it is truly a shame that not many folks know who Valerie Carter is, even as she’s has been immortalized in song by Jackson Browne and Steve Winwood. Her two solo albums released in the late 70s are both solid affairs. She has sung backing vocals on countless albums by artists such as James Taylor, Don Henley, and Christopher Cross, to name a few. Yet this sappy duet ballad will be her only chart appearance on the Hot 100, topping out at #65.
And now to the quirky New Wave portion of our show….how the hell did this get a spot at the table back then? Because it’s frickin’ awesome, that’s why. John Lennon loved these folks and thankfully would have had the opportunity to hear this zany song, which is seemingly about nothing and everything all at once. This classic will peel its way up to #74. It will also inspire a 1991 Gus Van Zant film.
Here’s the title track to Mac’s 1980 Casablanca Records LP, which will become his third straight Top 10 on the Country charts. It’s a tale about Mac leaving his home of Lubbock, Texas, back in the early sixties on his way to becoming a well-known songwriter and artist. The mirror will break at #51.
Fun fact (at least to me): Mac wrote the song, A Little Less Conversation, which became a hit for Elvis as a Junkie XL remix in 2002 and has been used in countless current commercials since.
It’s 1980, and the biggest movie star in the world is Burt Reynolds. He teamed back up with Sheriff Buford T. Justice, the Frog, and the Snowman for the second installment of Smokey & the Bandit. And because was Burt ruling the box office, he decided to take another stab at singing a tune, if not just for fun. Even in the wake of Urban Cowboy, this Country tune failed to ignite any cowgirl’s heart, falling off the bull at #88.
Robbin Thompson, the pride of Richmond, VA, makes his chart debut with this single from the quintet’s only album. A great slice of pop-rock with just a little bit of Country, maybe even some yachty smoothness, this single turns around after hitting #66.
October 24th, 1981
Kim releases the title track to her album that spawned the massive smash, Bette Davis Eyes. This soft keyboard-driven ballad was written solely by Kim and will creep up to #60.
Tierra’s first Top 40 hit was a cover of The Intruders’ 1968 Top 20, Together, written by Gamble & Huff. They’re back with another Latin-tinged cover of a Philly Soul classic, this time by the Delfonics. It will only bounce up to #72. An aside: Maxi Priest will borrow some of the vibes for his 1991 #1 hit, Close To You.
Once Prince had an across the board smash with I Wanna Be Your Lover, he could get the record company off his back and follow his vision. 1980’s Dirty Mind was a sharp left turn into some nasty New Wave funk, but 1981’s Controversy adds another layer of more thought-provoking topics into his sexual politics. This song asks the listener questions to think about and answer, rather than for Prince to reveal himself. It will only reach #70, but the 45 has When You Were Mine on the B-side. Let’s just say it took a while for people to catch up.
From the center of the funk universe in Ohio comes this nonet from Dayton dropping their lead single from their sixth album, Showtime. Led by vocalist/drummer Steve Arrington, their voyeuristic party jam will reach #6 on the Soul charts but barely make it out of the 90s on the Hot 100, running out of flash at #91. Steve would leave after this album and form the Hall of Fame.
October 23rd, 1982
It took this Vancouver trio over a decade to finally break through, south of their border, which they did with their album Wanna Be A Star, which nabbed them two Top 40 hits and lots of future Yacht Rock cred. Their follow-up album, Opus X, gave us this single, which just missed the Casey call, peaking at #41. But more importantly, two of three members immediately split the group and former The Headpins, leaving founder Bill Henderson to carry on alone.
Donnie and the Cruisers are back with their third album, The High And Mighty. Produced by keyboardist and former funky white boy Mark Avsec, it wasn’t as successful as the former two releases. This mid-tempo pop-rocker was the only single that charted, peaking at #57, and definitely deserves a revisit.