Ok folks, here’s part two of the Billboard Top 40 from January 5th, 1980. This was the soundtrack in my car going to or from the roller rink or the bowling alley in the Winter of 1980. As you can see, I’ve discussed most of these before, so I’ll try to add something new to the discussion if I can.
20. J.D. Souther – You’re Only Lonely
THW – J.D. always hung around the right folks but never got the proper break as a solo artist. He was in a band with Glenn Frey called Longbranch Pennywhistle before the Frey guy joined the Eagles. He hit the Top 40 in 1975 as a trio with Richie Furay & Chris Hillman. He dated Linda Rondstadt and co-wrote big hits such as Best Of My Love and New Kid In Town for the Eagles. His 1976 album, Black Rose, was terrific, but no one heard it. So in his frustration, he rewrote the Roy Orbison classic Only Lonely, and everyone ate it up. Souther felt so guilty that he sentenced himself to an entire season of acting on thirtysomething.
19. Pablo Cruise – I Want You Tonight
On the Big 80’s countdown, Alan Hunter mentions that disco and Yacht Rock were on their last breath, as evidenced by this song. Even though Disco had many more hits up its sleeve, I’ll concede that point. But Yacht Rock was just getting started. Look at the Yachtski scale for an idea of how many hits have yet to happen. We didn’t know who Christopher Cross was. Also…
18. Kenny Loggins – This Is It
PD , RAR – case in point.
17. Prince – I Wanna Be Your Lover
PD – According to the purple multi-tasker, he wants to be:
- your lover
- your brother
- your mother
- your sister
- the only one who makes you come running
- the only one you come (sic) for
That takes a lot of talent ( and a disregard for social mores).
PD – This song actually rocks. So what happened to the band in 1979? Well, Grace Slick was out, and Marty Balin split too. They brought in Mickey Thomas, and they got this Top 20 cruncher. Grace came back, and everything got softer and….slicker. So how about we give Mickey and his ‘city building’ a break?
15. Dr. Hook – Better Love Next Time
PD – Whenever someone decides to do the definitive documentary about COVID, I bet they will find out it all started with a groupie from a 1980 Dr. Hook dressing room afterparty.
I know I’ve slammed on these guys before, but come on…head games? Are you done snickering yet? This LP also includes the track Dirty White Boy, so they knew what they were doing. They must have thought they were the wittiest guys in rock back then or were perma-drunk all the time.
I was so confused when I saw this album cover of a young girl sitting on a urinal washing a bathroom stall. [I didn’t know that toilet was called the head when I was a kid.] This tune has such a troglodytic beat that I expect Lou Gramm to come out in a loincloth holding a club when he sings this. Thankfully they took some time off and began checking into their softer side, although reticently.
PD – The best thing the Eagles did was to call it quits after releasing the album with the same name as this single. You’d want to believe that they knew they were running on fumes as a group by 1980. But I’m sure it was more of a cocaine-fueled ego battle of who was the more giant star than anything else. Also, it was so cool for Joe Walsh to recycle his licks on this tune for his appearance on this.
12. Smokey Robinson – Cruisin’
PD – The ultimate palette cleanser.
11. Little River Band – Cool Change
PD – Time for a cool change with a ballad from this Australian group that sounds so much like 1979’s Lady that it’s neither cool nor a change. Though I wished James Cameron could have scored the Avatar: The Way of the Water scene where Lo’ak and his Tulkan friend ride through the ocean with this song.
10. Cliff Richard – We Don’t Talk Anymore
PD – Cliff was so popular in England that the Beatles once opened up for him. Yet here we were in 1980, and Cliff was scoring only second Top 10 single in the US. Even Ringo had two #1s by now.
9. Kool & the Gang – Ladies Night
PD – Separately, Eumir Deodato and this New Jersey funk outfit did not do well in the disco arena, But together they created this monster jam where a woman and her female friends could rule the clubs drinking Reunite on ice.
8. Kenny Rogers – Coward of the County
PD – This ultra-macho tough guy song is sung and arranged for the listener to assume that Tommy did the right thing, but dude, nuh-uh. You’re going to jail. Jesus, the whole song is about your Dad telling you not to repeat the same mistakes he made. And now you’re gonna be making license plates with your papa while Becky gets serially harassed by the Gatlin clan. Now everyone considers him the dumbass of the county.
This song is about:
- The regret of divorce.
- Lionel Richie’s love of moonshine.
- The Commodores’ career after Lionel leaves.
- A photo of an old movie star.
- The end of funk and the start of the hit ballad money printing machine.
6. Styx – Babe
PFK – Warm up the Fender Rhodes for a tale about a little-known 1919 bromance between Boston Red Sox right fielder Harry Hooper and the Sultan of Swat and an imagined send-off from Hooper to Ruth on the day he was traded to the Yankees. Or Dennis DeYoung wrote it about his wife. You choose.
5. Captain & Tennille – Do That To Me One More Time
PD – Rumor has it the Captain wasn’t much for sharing his love. So Toni wrote this tune as a playful jab to Daryl with a new title. Because Do That To Me At Least Once didn’t have that unique ring to it.
4. Stevie Wonder – Send One Your Love
PD , RAR – While you worked for years perfecting your demo, Stevie probably wrote this testing out a new Yamaha CP-80 electric piano in fifteen minutes.
3. Michael Jackson – Rock With You
PD – This is Michael at his smoothest, Human Nature by damned. Also, this was first offered to Karen Carpenter by writer Rod Temperton. Would have loved to hear her take a crack at this.
2. Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
PD , PFK – The rise and fall of Infinity Records is so hard to comprehend. I wish someone would do a short doc on it. The quick summary is this: the label started in 1978 as an East-coast arm of the L.A.-based MCA records. One of their first signings was the band Hot Chocolate who nab their final Top 10 hit nearly 79 with Every 1s A Winner. During that year, they rack up Top 40 hits by the artists Dobie Gray, New England, Spyro Gyra, and a big comeback from Orleans. Then after a low-expectation pick-up of Rupert Holmes’ new album, the first single starts going crazy. And just as this tune zips from #23 to #12, destined for #1, the label closes down and is absorbed by MCA. All artists are dropped except two: Spyro Gyra & Holmes. Why?
I’m sure there were many reasons, but the biggest one was religion. They paid Pope John Paul II (actually, the Catholic church) a boatload of money for an album of songs and speeches that peaked at #126, with nearly a million of the advanced copies sent back. Holmes would spend a total of three weeks on top getting back up there next week.
1. KC & the Sunshine Band – Please Don’t Go
PD – This recording sounds like it was made for five dollars. And yet it was another number-one tune for the group.
Well, that’s how the 80s started. Here’s how they ended. What musical would you prefer to live in?
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake