We’re hanging out in the middle of the 80s during chart week forty-nine, figuring out how these songs became entrants into The Other Sixty. So let’s review 1983 through 1985.
December 10th, 1983
This was the third single released from Rick’s seventh album, Cold Blooded. It’s a duet with Smokey, which was initially titled Rick James and Friend on the 45. Friend? The dude helped start the label you’re recording on. Show some respect, ya punk. Even though this ballad may be one of the best things Smokey sang on in the 80s, and their voices blend beautifully, this will just miss the Casey call at #43 and only peak at #22 on the R&B charts.
While Kenny followed up the #1 smash Islands In The Stream with the Gibb-penned and produced This Woman, Dolly followed it up with this 1960 Drifters cover featuring Elvis’ former backing band. It has an odd arrangement for a country utilizing synths and a drum machine. But it did make the Nashville Top 10 and almost reached the Top 40, rising to #45.
Herb was still trying to stay relevant in the 80s, but it’s not gonna happen with this track, which sounds like it was recorded in ’77. And that’s the number it will climb to. Thankfully he signed Janet Jackson to his label. Now he has to figure out how to make her star.
Country music’s appeal to the Pop audience waned considerably in the early 80s. Even though artists such as Crystal could still hit #1 on the Country charts with singles such as this one, Pop radio programmers were interested any more. It will only slide up six more spots before saying adios.
This was the New York nonet’s next chart entry after 1982’s Circles, which peaked at #38. This single came from their fifth album, Yours Forever, which James Anthony Carmichael produced, who previously worked his magic on loads of Commodores hits. It will also be lead singer Sharon Bryant’s last release with the group. The luck will run out at #87.
December 8th, 1984
Billy Satellite was not a person but rather a quartet from Oakland, CA. They released one album and had their second shelved until 2016. Their debut yielded two chart singles, Satisfy Me (#64) and this one, which only moved an additional four spots. Eddie Money will record his version for his 1986 album, Can’t Hold Back, and release it as the second single when it reaches #14.
Here’s the follow-up to the former Styx frontman’s Top 10 saga, Desert Moon. This is your standard 80s pop-rock affair. You could find it on a teen film soundtrack or as track 9 on side B of a random Styx album. Either way, it will only inch up three spots before refusing to wait any longer. Also, I feel like Sunway missed a branding opportunity here.
This was the third single released from Billy’s career-defining fourth album, Signs Of Life. Unfortunately, the aliens could find any in this song and left at #71. Also, see sentence 2 on the piece above.
December 7th, 1985
86. Asia – Go
These five singles joining The Other Sixty tell you all you need to know about Pop radio in late 1985. No prog-rock and R&B allowed. Asia was running low on supergroup powers by their third album. John Wetton is back as the lead singer, and Mandy Meyer replaces Steve Howe on guitar. But the line-up change does not help this lead single get past #46. I am impressed, though, that they took a one-off idea and continued to tour and record for decades.
Initially recorded for the film Iron Eagle and included on the band’s 1986 album A Kind Of Magic, the lyrics to this single were reportedly inspired by Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech. It’s an odd choice for a film wherein the lead rescues his dad by killing a bunch of Libyan air fighters, but hey, the music will get you amped up. This 45 will reach #61 and become another UK Top 10 hit. Oh, and Freddie….here you go.
This is the fourth single from the sibling quintet’s fourth album, Rhythm Of The Night. But this steelpan-flavored midtempo track might as well have been an El Debarge solo single. Supposedly, Bunny & Mark sing back-up, but how would you be able to tell? Motown was grooming El to be a star, and this and the previous single featured him on the title. It will reach the R&B Top 30 but stall out at #75 on the Hot 100.
The Isley Brothers hit some rough times in the early 80s. Marvin and Ernie Isley, along with brother-in-law Chris Jasper in tow, decided to form their own band while the former group continued. They had some minor success with their debut, Broadway’s Closer to Sunset Blvd, but it was the title track to their second LP, which became a Soul classic, reaching #1 on the Soul charts. It will be their highest charting single on the Hot 100, hitting #51, and will inspire this acapella cover by the British quartet, The Housemartins featuring Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, which will reach #1 in the UK in 1986.
We’ll wrap this group with another smooth slow jam from Miami-born singer Eugene Wilde who hit #1 on the R&B charts in 1984 with Gotta Get You Home Tonight. This will be his second Soul chart-topper but will fall short with the Pop audience as it only climbs to #76.