All The Education That I Missed

We’re moving into the middle of the decade during chart week forty-three with some pretty big artists who fell short. You can’t have a hit with everything you release. And sometimes the numbers lie. Let’s review 1983, 1984, and 1985.

October 29th, 1983

84. Linda Ronstadt & The Nelson Riddle Orchestra – What’s New

After becoming the biggest female rock star on the planet, Linda reminded us how she got there in the first place – her taste and her voice. She starred in the opera The Pirates of Penzance on Broadway in 1981, and then after 1982’s Get Closer, she embarked on a big band trilogy with Nelson Riddle. All three albums which tackled the Great American Songbook went platinum. To understand how popular this first album was, all you need to know is that it was kept out of the #1 spot by Thriller and Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. The fact that this single, made popular by Bing Crosby in 1939, charted and reached #53 is a testament to Linda, the performance, and her artistic instincts.

87. Alabama – Lady Down On Love

The current ACM and CMA Entertainers of the year follow-up The Closer You Get with another #1 Country smash. In fact, this their eleventh #1 in the middle of a streak of 21. That’s insane. Did anyone else record Country songs in the 80s? It will peak at #76 on the Hot 100.

90. Eye To Eye – Lucky

This duo was formed from the ashes of Marshall Hain By Julian Marshall when he met singer, Deborah Berg. Their debut was produced by Steely Dan producer Gary Katz, and it nabbed them a 1982 Top 40 hit, Nice Girls. This was the leadoff single from their follow-up album, Shakespeare Stole My Baby, also produced by Katz and featuring a guitar solo by Steve Lukather. It was not as immediately catchy as their previous hit, but nevertheless, it charted, rose two more spots, then disappeared.

91. Melissa Manchester – No One Can Love You More Than Me

What a coincidence. Melissa’s last charted hit was called Nice Girls, too – different tune, though. Her leadoff single from her Arif Mardin-produced album, Emergency, eschews her theatrical balladry and delivers a solid pop performance over a moody synth track with some West Coast vibes. It will only reach #78.

93. Heart – Allies

This was the second single from the band’s last album for Epic Records called Passionworks. It was their least successful within their catalog. This power ballad, written by Journey’s Jonathan Cain and featuring piano by Toto’s David Paich, should have climbed higher than #83. But if it did, we might not have received their glorious mid-80s rebirth.

October 27th, 1984

66. The Jacksons – Body

Let’s face it. The Victory album and tour were just the Jacksons swimming in Michael’s Thriller wake. This album was a complete dud, and it ran out of hits by the third single release. It’s a blatant rip off of Wanna Be Starting Somethin‘, but at least it features a rare lead vocal by Marlon. The gangrene sets in at #47.

78. Billy Squier – All Night Long

If you know anything about Billy’s career, then you’ve heard or read about how it was killed with the cheesy video to Rock Me Tonite. I disagree. It died because of his over the top usage of synths and sound effects rather than just rocking out or writing good songs. And who hires Jim Steinman to produce and not have him give you at least one dramatic seven-minute ballad? It’s annoying, but hey, that’s his thing. This nite ends at #75.

Fun fact: Billy has been an active member of the Central Park Conservancy for almost two decades.

83. Van Halen- Hot For Teacher

1984 distilled all of the band’s metallurgy into some of the catchiest songs they ever wrote. They also expanded their image into everyone’s living rooms with videos that projected just how much fun they were having. It’s a shame that it all ended in a few short months from now. I’m sure that this song would have followed I’ll Wait and Jump into the Top 40 if not for the subject matter. Instead will get detention at #56.

If you want to know why people think Eddie is one of the best guitarists who ever lived, listen to the song’s solo. He makes something so technically difficult to seem simple and, at the same time, beautifully melodic.

October 26th, 1985

79. Christopher Cross – Charm The Snake

By the time of Chris’ third album, Every Turn Of The World, the Pop music landscape changed greatly since his 1980 Grammy-winning debut. He tried to acclimate to that with a harder sound, but his name was attached to a different time. And without an innovative video to match, his songs didn’t translate to a new audience. This single will slither up to #68. Chris has never stopped recording (his 2017 album, Take Me As I Am is quite good), nor has he stopped touring. He suffered a debilitating bout of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which was triggered by the Covid-19 flu. He recently sat down with CBS Sunday morning to discuss his ongoing recovery.

86. Jack Wagner – Too Young

This was the leadoff single from Jack’s second album, Lighting Up The Night. I can’t believe it took four people to write this ballad, but it did. Considering that this group included David Foster, Jay Graydon, and  Steve Kipner, who had a boatload of hits between them, needed to invite Donny Osmond for his two cents, and makes me wonder if this was a rehab effort or if folks just gave up. The song sounds perfect for an episode of General Hospital, pop radio pulled the plug at #52.

87. The Motels – Shock

The Motels were at the end of their line and about to be boarded up and abandoned. This pop-rocker will only scoot up three spots and will be their last chart hit. Martha Davis will go solo but will eventually open the Motels back up at the end of the 2000s.

95. Motley Crue – Home Sweet Home

This song was #1 on MTV for weeks. They played it so much, I heard it enough times for my life back in 85. The band must have been confounded on how this ultimate power ballad didn’t translate to radio and would top out at #89. It will be remixed and re-released in 1991, eventually reaching the Top 40 at #37. And, every time I hear the name Motley Crue, I think of the intro to this song.

 

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