It’s January 26th, 1980, and the world is about to be introduced to one of the biggest toy crazes of the decade: the Rubik’s Cube. It was showcased at the British Toy & Hobby Fair, and the world never looked at nine squares the same again, especially if Paul Lynde wasn’t in the middle. You wouldn’t be able to buy one until May, but as you waited to be equally entertained and frustrated by a combination puzzle, this group of Top 40 songs would do the trick for you.
Jeff Lynne keeps his foray into Disco rock rolling with his fourth Top 40 hit from the group’s eighth album, Discovery. It will slide up one mores spot before arriving at its final destination. In the UK, it will the LP’s fourth Top 10 single and the band’s thirteenth overall. Check out how he bites the Mary Tyler Moore theme during the chorus.
PD – John and co-producer Lindsey Buckingham are in the Top 40 twice. They’re in with John’s third and final Top 40 hit. Then John’s in as a songwriter for Anne Murray and Lindsey, as part of Fleetwood Mac. This song has five spots to go until its peak.
PD – Have you ever seen the film, Wonderland? It was about the 1981 Wonderland murders and came out in 2003 with a solid cast. But outside of its disturbing subject matter, it was a total letdown of a movie. I’m glad Lionel didn’t license this song for that, as it wouldn’t have fit. But I wondered if he had a squeeze living in those townhouses, and the address inspired this song.
PD – Without Phillipe Wynne, all they’re these guys are doing with a Disco cover of a Four Seasons tune is padding their 401Ks. Though, retirement investments are never this catchy.
Here’s a fun game to play with someone who’s under 40. Play any Santana or Journey Top 40 song from the early 80s (Don’t Stop Believing doesn’t count) and ask the listener to tell you which band it was. If you don’t think it’s easy to sound like Steve Perry, ask this guy how he did it.
PFK – One of my DS faves will become Donna’s eighth consecutive Top 5 single. It was included on her double LP Greatest Hits compilation, which featured both the long and short versions. The Jodie Foster film Foxes, which came out that Winter, also showcased this track. It will also cap her five-year career at Casablanca Records as she will release her next album, The Wanderer, on Geffen Records.
PD – Rufus never got the love they deserved from Pop audiences. Hell, neither did Chaka. How do you explain a track this irresistible stalling at #30 while reaching #1 on the R&B charts?
This Rockford Illinois Power Pop quartet shows off their Beatles influences on their second release from the Dream Police LP. It will be their fourth straight Top 40 hit but will also start an eight-year drought. Supposedly Steve Lukather plays lead guitar on this track, but I have no idea why.
Time for…a long nap on a boat. And when you wake up, drinks with your brothers, Albatross and Whale. Man, the weed was good back then.
PD – My parents had Neil’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on vinyl, and they asked me to record a copy onto a cassette. Without the proper technology, I had to use a mic positioned near the stereo speakers while the LP played on the turntable. For added effect, I pretended to be a DJ between tracks and added things like, “That was Neil singing about coming to America. And now, here he is wondering where his flowers are.” They were not enthused.
Herb sees his fortunes ascend again in the Top 40 arena, and his single from Rise is in the Top 40. Written by a true Bad Azz (that’s Randy Badazz) and Andy Armer, it features a pulsing bassline triggered from a control pad through a modified Minimoog. No drum machines. No sequencers. It’s sitting at its high this week.
The Philly soul trio from Canton, OH, squeezed out one more Top 40 single into the new decade. Released from their thirteenth album, Identify Yourself, this smooth R&B ballad written by Gamble & Huff is one spot away from its zenith.
In the Summer of 1978, as Runaway was on the charts, professional drunkard Grace Slick got the heave-ho. By the end of the year, Marty Balin had left as well. How do you replace two founding members of the bands? With the lead singer from Elvin Bishop’s band, as it turns out. Mickey Thomas takes over the lead vocal duties and immediately takes the band into the Top 15 again with this single from Freedom At Point Zero. It will also be the group’s only Top 40 hit in the UK.
27. Styx – Why Me?
PD – This Chicago quintet was nine albums in with Cornerstone, and they were more known for their ballads than for uptempo rockers such as this. That’s probably the reason this won’t travel any higher than #26.
PD – No one knew that this band would cease to exist within the first year of the decade, not even the band members. This will be their final Top 40 hit with a #21 zenith next month. I always thought that All My Love could have been another hit from In Through The Out Door, but it was never commercially released. Also, can someone please mash this up with Steely Dan’s Babylon Sisters?
RAR – Dan gets his biggest Top 40 hit and simultaneously destroys his reputation with this tender love song. He might as well have added the line longer than there’s been cheese in Wisconsin… It will climb up to #2, kept off the mountain top by Pink Floyd. No pudding for poor Dan.
RAR – This California country-rock band dropped the nitty gritty from their name in 1978 to the more self-effacing Dirt Band. But it paid dividends as they dropped the nitty-gritty from their sound as well, nabbing two Top 40 hits during the early 80s. This was the first one, a Rodney Crowell-penned track featuring backing vocals by Linda Ronstadt, which will top out at #13.
PD – This UK quartet gave up the blues and boogie for some straight AC cash in 1979. Their final Top 40 song is at its peak. By the way, what happened the second time?
Canadian Anne Murray makes Davy Jones sound like Barry White with her version of the Monkees’ 1968 #1 smash. It will reach #3 on Country charts and #1 on the AC list. She’s slowly climbing up to her eventual #12 high.
OHW – Steve became a critic’s darling with his 1978 debut, Alive on Arrival, and racked up continued accolades with its follow-up, Jackrabbit Slim. This single, released from that album, is on its way up to #11. And if I’m making a mixtape of my favorite one-hit-wonders, this is track number one every time. Also, according to the album’s liner notes, this song is dedicated to Supremes singer Florence Ballard.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- STA – Second Time Around
- SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake