Any smart corporation releases its strongest product in the fourth quarter to show positive sales growth going into a new year. Record companies would utilize this ploy as well. That is why we have a stacked Top 20 here in early January ’80. Sixteen of these twenty songs are by artists who have already had a Top 10 hit. Out of the last four, two will become superstars. Even the one-hit-wonder has a hitmaker attached. Most of these songs still get played today, thanks to the emergence of yacht rock stations. And more importantly, this group is in my wheelhouse. Let’s review the Top 20 from January 26th, 1980.
This was the Florida band’s fifth #1 single (sixth, if you believe the story of Keep It Comin’ Love getting the shaft) over a five year period, a rare and risky ballad for a Disco group.
SXMFU – On this Big 40 Countdown, Alan mentions that this single comes from Wanna Go Party, but the album is titled Do You Wanna Go Party? He also notes that this is the band’s last hurrah, which was not true either. The band released two more albums, and although they didn’t spawn any hits, a third release, All In A Night’s Work, did. Give It Up in #1 for three weeks in the Uk in the Summer of 1983. Since their US record company, Epic, wouldn’t release it, KC had to find an independent label to put it out, which meant he would have to release it under his own name. It made the Top 20 here in early 1984.
Some know him as Gandy. Some know him as Chef. But all music fans know that Isaac always throws down. This smooth and soulful disco jam, the title track to his fourteenth album., was a cover of a 1958 Roy Hamilton hit. He’s one spot away from his peak.
Even though this duo racked three Top 10 singles, with one of them reaching #1, their ride through the 70s was not a smooth one. It took them the decade to find their sound and the right players to help them achieve it. By the time of their eighth album, X-Static, they have guitarist G.E. Smith on board and sax player Charlie DeChant, both stable members of their 80s crew. Produced by David Foster, the album featured minor forays into disco as well as glimpses of their New Wave-inspired rock and soul. This potential graduation ballad is at its peak.
RAR – We heard Isaac Hayes at #19 with a song someone else wrote. Now here’s Dionne singing a song that Isaac wrote for her. And it’s produced by Barry Manilow, but even he can’t fuck up this sweet, sultry groove. If you were born around Thanksgiving in 1980, you might be a product of this song’s potent prowess.
OHW – Henry W. Casey and Teri were classmates back in Miami. So when she was looking to record her second album, she asked him to produce and sing a few duets. This one, a 1965 Barbara Mason smash, was the first single released, and it’s on its way up to #2., held down by Queen. After this, Teri found Jesus and disappeared.
Here’s WestCoast at his most mystical with a mother collaboration with Michael McDonald, one it’s way up to #11. It’s become a Yacht Rock staple, no doubt due to its inclusion in this.
This Gainesville, FL quintet shoots a missile towards Pop programmers with their first single from their third album, Damn The Torpedos. Benmont Tench is working the piano and organ simultaneously like a champ. And Tom is ready to punch if you do him wrong. It will become their first Top 10 hit.
RAR – Dr. Hook sprinkled in a tinge of disco vibes into their music and a nice run in the Top 40 between 1978 and 1980. This single was the first released from their 1979 LP, Sometimes You Win, and it’s chillin’ at its high. Somehow it even crossed over to the Country charts, peaking at #91.
Here is the first of many Top 40 smashes by the Purple one. And just like Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren before him, he plays everything on this Polymoog-soaked disco smoker. Supposedly this song was inspired by meeting and developing a crush on singer/ keyboardist Patrice Rushen. It will be his first R&B #1 and also gave us this fantastic American Bandstand interview.
Is this song about Stevie Nicks’ best friend marrying Mick Fleetwood? Is this song about her & Don Henley’s unborn child? Or is this just another sublime performance by the WestCoast witch on a double album, Tusk, full of some of the band’s most experimental moments?
They have one of the best selling albums of all time. They permanently jacked the price of concert tickets up. A 3-hour 2013 documentary on the group won two Emmys. Now that the run is over, I guess we all found out that they made it. Bastards.
PD – I like Danny Zucco look that Freddie adopted around this time. Makes me sad that we never got to hear his version of Sandy.
PD – Cliffo is on the verge of one of his biggest US hits as well as his first UK #1 hit since 1968. From his twenty-seventh album, Rock And Rock Juvenile, this Polymoog-led single will hit the top in eight countries and sits at its peak this week in the US. Not bad for a guy about to turn 40. Also, do not hire this man as a shepherd.
PD – From Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants, his first album in three years here’s Stevie with his first Top 10 since Sir Duke hit #1 in 1977. This jazzy ballad and unofficial F.T.D. campaign slips from its Pop high of #4. It will also be an R&B Top 5 and #1 on the AC charts
RAR – It only took nine albums, but Smokey finally has a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100. Whether you dig it or not, all I know is someone’s getting pregnant by the time this ballad is over. It still bothers me that Gwyneth Paltrow had a #1 AC hit in 2000 with her version of this classic, which is just proof that White people will ruin everything if you let them.
PFK – Imagine finally having a Top 40 single climb the charts only to have your record label fold because a deal they made with the Catholic church bankrupted them. Infinity Records released Rupert’s Partners In Crime album just before releasing Pope John Paul’s album of songs and sermons, which they invested heavily in. Pope’s album bombed, but champagne-enthusiast Holmes eventually took his track up to #1 for three weeks. The lesson learned here is obvious.
Kenny really got on a roll in 1979 with three significant cross-over smashes – The Gambler, She Believes In Me, and You Decorated My Life. The latter was the first single from Kenny, and now we have the second, a tale of ol’ Tommy going from a yellow-bellied pacifist to beating up the gang-raping Gatlin boys.
PFK – Daryl and Toni moved from A&M Records to Casablanca with the apt title, Make Your Move. This single will have to play bridesmaid for a full month before finally reaching the mountaintop during the week of Valentine’s Day. It will be their last Top 40 hit. Tom Scott plays the lyricon solo.
Last weekend I took my kids to a record store for the first time in a month. Our neighborhood shop, Harvest Records, allows you to schedule hour-long “appointments” to shop by your self in the store. I let my kids pick out a CD to buy. My daughter picked a Jason Mraz CD. My son found Back In Black and Off The Wall and didn’t know which to choose. He eventually selected MJ, and we’ve been rewarded with continuous plays of this month-long #1. Although I would have been okay with AC-DC too.
- 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