It’s chart week thirty-one, and another pile of songs has been left by the dumpster under the Hot 100. Let’s review those tunes from 1980 thru 1983 and see if we can rescue some of them.
In Transit – Turn On Your Light (debuted 8/2/1980, peaked at #107)
Here’s a forgotten 45 from an AOR sextet that released only one album. The band might have quickly disappeared, but its keyboardist Bill Cuomo showed up a year later playing the familiar synth riff on Kim Carnes’ #1 smash, Bette Davis Eyes.
Jimmy Spheeris – Hold Tight (debuted 8/2/1980, peaked at #110)
Now here’s a single that is so lost, I couldn’t even find a decent version on YouTube. Jimmy had released four quality jazz-folk albums in the 70s, with only 1975’s The Dragon Is Dancing appearing on the Album charts. After a four-year dry spell, He signed a single deal with Warner Brothers and released this yachty 45, which barely caused a ripple. Four years later, Spheeris was killed in a drunk driving accident mere hours after finishing his latest album, which wouldn’t get an official release until 2000.
Steve Winwood – Night Train (debuted 8/8/1981, peaked at #104)
Even though Steve-O finally crossed over to the Top 40 as a solo artist with While You See A Chance, which reached #7 earlier in the year, he still had a foot firmly in his prog roots. This was the third single from his second LP, Arc Of A Diver, and easily my favorite in his catalog. He records all of the instruments himself, a la Stevie or Rundgren, barely bothering to cater to the Boomer crowd. When he does, they’ll make Roll With It their own mantra along with Don’t Worry Be Happy, ponytails blowing in the wind.
The A’s – A Woman’s Got The Power (debuted 8/8/1981, peaked at #106)
Here’s a Philly Power Pop quintet, named after the baseball team initially founded in their city, who smoothed out their sound a bit for the Rick Chertoff-produced sophomore release. The title track received a good amount of rock radio airplay and a few New Wave fans but missed out on a ton of marketing opportunities. No matter how many times I listen to this, I can’t tell if they are pandering to the ladies or making an ironic joke.
Fun fact: Guitarist Rick DiFonzo would play on Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, also produced by Chertoff.
Odyssey – Inside Out (debuted 8/7/1982, peaked at #104)
The New York trio who had a big Disco hit in early 1978, Native New Yorker, could never find a follow-up here in the States. They ended up having a pretty good career in the UK, where this single from their fifth album, Happy Together, will land at #3, their fifth Top 10 across the pond. It will climb to #12 on the R&B charts and inspire many cover versions, most recently from the duo, Workshy.
Pete Townshend – Face Dances Part Two (debuted 8/7/1982, peaked at #105)
I think Pete dealt with the loss of Keith Moon by burying his grief within his work. Between Who project and solo work, he wrote, recorded, and released at a frenetic pace in the late 70s and early 80s. I’m also assuming no one was acting as a filter for him, and that’s why we have All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. Racist title aside, this sounds like a half-baked attempt to sound relevant during New Wave’s early years. No wonder this Who castoff ended up as a Bubbler.
Gary Myrick – Message Is You (debuted 8/6/1983, peaked at #103)
Guitarist Gary Myrick has had an interesting underground career. Not people can say that they replaced Stevie Ray Vaughn in a band before. Of course, Stevie was already leaving, but that’s besides the point. The Texas native was on album number three, Language, when he released this moody synth-led Pop tune that sniffed the Hot 100. One year later, you’ll hear his guitar work on John Waite’s #1 smash, Missing You.
High Inergy – Back In My Arms Again (debuted 8/6/1983, peaked at #105)
Motown Records perfected the art of R&B crossover to the Pop charts, making their name synonymous with 60s Soul. But by the time of the 1980s, they were absolutely lost and running fumes and dumb luck. This is why we have one of their current roster girl group destroying their own legacy with a poorly conceived and arranged cover of the 1965 Supremes classic. It was the second single released from their eighth (!) album, Groove Patrol, and has since been out of print. I don’t know how it escaped the Friday production meeting. These ladies deserved better.
“Weird Al” Yankovic – I Love Rocky Road (debuted 8/6/1983, peaked at #106)
Al follows up his parody of Mickey [Ricky, #63] with a shot at one of the biggest singles of 1982, I Love Rock N Roll. [Side note – do they even make Rocky Road ice cream anymore?] Produced by Rick Derringer and complete with hardcore accordion solo, this is kind of stuff that was perfect for MTV and the Dr. Demento crowd. I think it’s funny that every time he does one of these tunes, people want to know if the original artist likes it or not. I bet Joan thought it was funny, and even if she didn’t, she’s still cool.
Stars On 45 proudly presents The Star Sisters – The Star Sisters Melody (debuted 8/6/1983, peaked at #107)
Fun fact: Did you that Stars On 45 was so popular that it created spinoff acts? No one asked for them, but they came anyway. The Star Sisters were the three ladies who sang on the Beatles medley, which went to #1 in 1981. Inspired no doubt by the Hooked on Classics, etc. craze, the crazy Dutch folks
murdered replicated a string of Andrews Sisters tune to a mild Disco beat, most likely created by a Lowery Organ setting.
Rebecca Hall – Who Says Girls Can’t Rock & Roll (debuted 8/6/1983, peaked at #109)
First of all, they can and have. But it has been with better songs than this one. Also, how about we exchange girls for women, or did that make the record company exec queasy? And we don’t have to do a 1-2-3-4 count off four times, do we? You know I’d give Rebecca a little more slack had she not been involved with this. Yes, that’s her on “lead” vocals.