We’re getting closer and closer to the end of the 80s. Chart week fifty-one will be the last week of charting for most years. We’ll discuss why next week. Now let’s review 1980 up through 1983.
December 20th, 1980
Here’s the lead single from this L.A. trio’s fourth album, Three For Love. It’s sung by Howard Hewitt as well as Jody Watley, who co-wrote it with fellow labelmate Richard Randolph, a member of the funk band, Dynasty. This dance track will burn its way up to #58 and make the R&B Top 30.
Dire Straits shrunk down to a trio on their album, Making Movies, but they brought in E. Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan for the Jimmy Iovine-produced sessions. It’s my favorite album of theirs and has a smooth Westcoast flavor throughout. This single’s groove makes me think it was inspired by Knopfler sitting on a park bench in Venice, CA, watching the roller-skating women. It should have definitely reached a higher height than #55.
Now, this is a deeply forgotten 45. It was recorded for the Walter Matthau film, Hopscotch, written by her and singer Beverly Bremers, who had a Top 20 hit in 1972 called Don’t Say You Don’t Remember. Those two ladies were part of a studio disco act two years previous called Siren, who recorded this in 1978. They also won the Gold Prize at the Seoul International Song Festival in 1980. Alas, this song will only move up three more notches before disappearing.
December 26th, 1981
Prolific is an understatement when talking about Neil’s recording career. Except for a short period in the late 90s, he has been putting out albums over the last decades. In 1981, he released Re-Ac-Tor, his fourth album with Crazy Horse. It was a strange mix of blues-rock and punk. The chugging single was the most accessible thing on it, which is why it became a 45. It deals with an aging train conductor’s story as an allegory of the loss of American jobs and the failing economy. Its final station was #70.
Fun fact: Neil has indulged a lifelong obsession with toy trains, to the point that he became an owner of Lionel Trains in the 1990s.
When John Hall left Orleans in 1977, he took his songwriter partner, ex-wife Johanna Hall along with him. They wrote this pop-rock single with bandmates Eric Parker and Bob Leinbach, featured on his fourth album, All Of The Above, which became his first Hot 100 entry. It just missed the Casey call at #42.
Bill Champlin had been recording for two decades and had yet to sniff the Top 40. It took his stint as a co-lead singer in Chicago to bring him some financial success. I’m sure part of the audition included band members listening to his Westcoast classic album, Runaway, produced by David Foster. This smooth ballad sailed up to #55.
This Italian trio released their debut album in 1980, which spawned two huge Disco smashes: It’s A War and I’m Ready. Their second album, New York Cake, pulled back on the disco a bit and added more funk a la Change, their fellow dance countrymen. It will result in their only US chart entry on the Hot 100 and will only slide up two spots from its debut.
December 25th, 1982
This track from It’s Hard is the funkiest thing these guys ever recorded. So much so, that it was sampled nine years on 3rd Bass’ onlyTop 40 hit, Pop Goes The Weasel. It received loads of Rock airplay, hitting #5 on the Mainstream Rock chart, but for some reason couldn’t get past #68 on the Hot 100. What a put on.
Miami Steve has been a part of the E. Street Band since the mid-70s, but you need to take a break and express yourself differently every once in a while. Before his eight-year ride as Silvio on the Sopranos, he formed this band while Bruce worked on the Nebraska album. Their first album, Men Without Women, garnered them their only chart hit when this soul-rock track reached #63.
Fun fact: Did you know that in 1982, Little Steven was married by Little Richard?
Soul music ruled the Pop charts in the 70s, especially during the early years. But as the 80s were ushered in, most of those successful R&B artists had a difficult time crossing over, never mind finding record labels to sign them. I’m sure Mr. Davis would love to have turned back time in 1982 all the way back to 1970, so this smooth jam could have found a place on more Pop playlists. Tyrone did his job with the performance, but it was released on a small independent label that didn’t have the promotion muscle. Even with minimal A&R, it will still reach #3 on the Soul charts, but only #57 on the Hot 100.
Michael channels his inner-Bob Seger on this midtempo rocker from these Midwest heroes. I’m surprised this wasn’t supported more by Pop programmers. I figured they’d eat stuff like this up. But instead, it will have a #81 zenith.
File this one under husband and wife pop duos. Although not as successful as the Captain and Tennille, Manny & Phyllis Loiacono took their one shot at fame and released the album, Unilove which featured this single, their only chart hit. It’s a modern take on a 50’s style pop tune, kind of like Toby Beau’s My Angel Baby, but leaning heavily into the Grease soundtrack territory. Definitely not a thing folks were doing much of in the New Wave era. Still, it will peak at #71.
Fun fact: Manny & Phyllis supposedly sang backing vocals on Bertie Higgins’ Key Largo recorded in 1981.
December 23rd, 1983
It took nearly a decade of recording, but in 1983 Peabo finally nabbed a Top 40 hit, albeit as a duet with Roberta Flack. Their follow-up to Tonight, I Celebrate My Love will only hit #58 Pop and #41 R&B but will rise to #5 on the AC charts. So if you’re looking like you might have a cavity, you might catch this one coming from the round ceiling speakers.
Here’s another decent track from MSB and their 1983 LP, You Can’t Fight Fashion. It’s the follow-up to their #39 hit, My Town. This upbeat rocker sung by keyboardist Kevin Raleigh will stall out at #75.
We’re gonna finish out this set with some Canadian rock. The Headpins were a side project formed by two-thirds of the band, Chilliwack. By the time of their second album, Line Of Fire, the twosome of Ab Bryant & Brian McLeod left the latter band for good and focused on their new venture. It got them a sole US chart entry, which topped out at #70.