Sunday, January 27, 2013

Super Hits 1982, Part 4

Quarterflash, “Harden My Heart,” #3, 2/13/82
Music labels tend to follow trends, so when the hot chick singer trend happened (Debbie Harry, Pat Benatar), Geffen Records went one better – a hot chick singer who could also play saxophone!  In fairness, Doug and Rindy Ross had been around for a while (Quarterflash formed in 1980 from two other Oregon-based bands, Seafood Mama and Pilot), but this was a hit beyond anybody’s expectations, and at least it was a fresh spin on the formula (albeit one with an annoyingly repetitive chorus).

Juice Newton, “The Sweetest Thing,” #7, 2/13/82
This song had been around for a while; Newton had recorded it with her band Silver Spur in 1975.  She did a new version for her 1981 album Juice, and then when the first two singles released became hits (“Angel of the Morning” and “Queen of Hearts”), the song underwent some more surgery, with the country arrangement being chucked for a more pop sound, and poof, a third top 10 hit.  (Warning:  be very, very careful when downloading this song; she’s done a lot of remakes for low-budget labels.)

Rick Springfield, “Love Is Alright Tonite,” #20, 2/13/82
Third hit from his album Working Class Dog (this song also contains that title buried in the lyrics), and unlike the other two hits, he isn’t a loser in love.  It also has the hard-rocking (well, for Rick Springfield) arrangement we’d come to expect from him – and would be deprived of when his next album would appear.

Loverboy, “Working for the Weekend,” #29, 2/13/82
Third Hot 100 hit for this band, and while the lyrics were as trite as ever (really, could “Turn Me Loose” be any stupider?), at least they got the idea to make songs to party to.  So while this wasn’t a big hit its first time out, radio stations have been playing it at 5 PM on Friday afternoons for the last 30 years.

Earth, Wind and Fire, “Wanna Be With You,” #51, 2/13/82
Not their best lyrically (“You take the cake/For goodness’ sake!”), but a catchy groove.  Nevertheless, this failed to make the pop top 40, making it six out of seven EWF singles that failed to hit that landmark (the exception being the megahit “Let’s Groove”).  At that point, somebody might have whispered into Maurice White’s ear that it might be time to take a break for a year or two to avoid oversaturating the market (which was filled with Top 40-friendly R&B bands like EWF, The Commodores, and Kool & The Gang).

Steve Miller Band, “Circle of Love,” #55, 2/13/82
On the other hand, taking too much time off can backfire as well.  This was the title cut and second single from Steve Miller’s first album since 1977’s Book of Dreams, and it seemed a little skimpy (not even 33 minutes long, and just five songs, including the 16-minute opus “Macho City”), not to mention not up to the quality of the previous album and 1976’s Fly Like an Eagle.  Miller would bounce back later in the year, however.

Placido Domingo and John Denver, “Perhaps Love,” #59, 2/13/82
Gimmicky duet featuring opera star Domingo and Denver, who also wrote the song (to his wife, with whom he was in the process of getting a divorce).  If Domingo was interested in crossing over to the pop charts, Denver wasn’t a great choice, as he hadn’t notched a top 20 single since 1975’s “I’m Sorry.” Both Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti were trying to become bigger names in America in the 1980s; it didn’t really happen for either one.

All Sports Band, “Opposites Do Attract,” #78, 2/13/82
I cannot find anything about this five-man pop band, other than the lead singer is now a church pastor (at least according to a You Tube commenter).  Released on Radio Records (the people who brought us “Stars on 45” here in the US – thanks a lot, guys).

Kool & The Gang, “Steppin’ Out,”  #89, 2/13/82
Weird that Kool & The Gang, in the midst of a major hit run, would have a song that barely cracked the charts (although it shows up in all their greatest-hits sets).  It’s not the most exciting song, and James “J.T.” Taylor’s efforts at falsetto don’t do him any favors.  I finally figured it out recently – at some point, they flipped the single to the B-side, “Get Down on It,” which wound up becoming a top 10 hit (same catalogue number and everything).  That’ll come up here later on.

Air Supply, “Sweet Dreams,” #5, 2/20/82
The band that proved that H. L. Mencken’s opinion of the American public was dead on, Air Supply notched its sixth consecutive top five hit with this song, which cranked up the string crescendos a little bit more to give it more of a classical feel. 

Sheena Easton, “You Could Have Been With Me,” #15, 2/20/82
Less-successful followup to her 1981 James Bond theme “For Your Eyes Only,” and you have to wonder if either she was running short of material (not Sheena’s fault, as she has only a couple of cowrites to her credit over her career) or the American public was sick of her after three fairly big singles in a row.  It’s also far sappier than the previous singles (“Morning Train,” “Modern Girl”), for what that’s worth.

Barry Manilow, “Somewhere Down the Road,” #21, 2/20/82
Second single from Manilow’s If I Should Love Again album, and it follows most of the typical Manilow rules (big finish!  Oops, we forgot to change key!).  In fairness, it’s a pretty easy song to sing along to in the car, as I’ve learned.  Cowritten by Tom Snow and Cynthia Weil, one of Weil’s few songs where she hasn’t collaborated with husband Barry Mann – they’ve been working together for decades, writing everything from “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” to “Don’t Know Much.”

Genesis, “Abacab,” #26, 2/20/82
Fun song that would be both the title track and second single from Genesis’ 1981 album.  The song structure when it was first written was A-B-A-C-A-B; by the time the record was finished, the structure had changed, but they kept the name anyway.  A showcase for keyboardist Tony Banks (although it looks like he got his shirt in this video courtesy of the wardrobe stylist from Zoom), and this stayed in their live set list for quite a while.

Donnie Iris, “Love Is Like a Rock,” #37, 2/20/82
Crunching rocker that became the second chart hit from Iris’ album King Cool (billed as Donnie Iris and The Cruisers), and possibly the second-most recognizable Iris song beyond “Ah! Leah!”  (I’m not counting The Jaggerz’ 1970 hit “The Rapper,” on which Iris sings lead.)  Frequently played on my fraternity’s jukebox and a popular singalong – albeit with a slightly modified, NSFW chorus. 

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