Monday, February 11, 2013

Super Hits 1982, Part 5

John Hall Band, “Crazy (Keep On Falling),” #42, 2/20/82
Final chart hit for John Hall (and the only one for this band), but still only part of an interesting music career.  He was a founding member of Orleans, who had two huge hits in the mid-1970s, “Dance With Me” and “Still the One” (a third, “Love Takes Time,” came after Hall left the band).  He also spearheaded the No Nukes concert and album, which is still in print today, and wrote two songs for the show, “Plutonium Is Forever” and “Power.”  He still performs and writes today (and he did reunite with Orleans for a lengthy period of time), but he’s also moved into the political arena, winning two terms as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s 19th Congressional District (the Hudson Valley area – it includes Woodstock, NY).  Having lost in the Tea Party sweep in the 2010 elections, he decided not to seek the seat again in 2012.

AC/DC, “Let’s Get It Up,” #44, 2/20/82
Subtle, eh?  First single from For Those About to Rock, and while it didn’t crack the American top 40 (in fairness, AC/DC has only had one top 30 hit in the states, 1991’s “Moneytalks”), it cemented the band’s popularity, as the parent album became their first stateside #1.  Their second was their most recent release, 2008’s Black Ice, and they just issued a live album last November.

Player, “If Looks Could Kill,” #48, 2/20/82
Sixth and final chart hit for a band that probably would have done better if they’d had better luck with their record labels, and been able to keep personal issues from bugging them.  They had three or four different lineups during the four years between the #1 “Baby Come Back” and this song, and it’s easier for fans to root for a band who keep the same guys on the stage.  They split with RSO (I don’t know if it was their idea or the label’s) after their second album, and recorded one album for the post-disco Casablanca Records in 1980; this one came out on RCA.  30 years, 18 band members, and some weird detours later (the bass player, Ronn Moss, spent a quarter of a century on the CBS soap The Bold and The Beautiful), and they’re actually going to release another album later this year.

Conductor, “Voice on the Radio,” #63, 2/20/82
I have nothing on this band.  Nothing.   I even checked Popdose’s excellent series Bottom Feeders, which had downloads for every song that charted in the 1980s as long as it peaked below #40 (don’t bother downloading them now, they were only there for a week after posting), and they had nothing.

The Doobie Brothers, “Here to Love You,”#65, 2/20/82
Here’s an elaborate theory on why this song was issued as a single about three years after it first appeared on an album:

1. Warner Brothers put out a new Doobie Brothers greatest hits set in the fall of 1981, hoping it would match the sales of the first one, which has (as of now) sold over 10 million copies.  However, since the first best-of had all the hits from their first six albums, this one is limited to the last three:  Livin’ on the Fault Line, Minute By Minute, and One Step Closer.  The reason this was issued, because scraping a best –of together from three studio albums is no easy task?  Maybe because everybody in the music industry knew Michael McDonald was on the verge of going solo (and probably not everyone knew that co-founder Patrick Simmons was also out the door as well, although both would stick with the band for their 1982 “Farewell Tour”).
2. Seven of the ten songs on the album were chart singles.  “You Belong to Me” wasn’t a hit for the Doobs, but Carly Simon did have a hit with her version.  “Here to Love You” and “One by One,” album tracks that were never hits, are included, while “Keep This Train A-Rollin’” and “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” (the latter a track from Sesame Street’s album In Harmony), both of which charted in 1981, are left off.
3. Somebody decides a single is needed, so “Here to Love You,” from the most successful of the three anthologized albums, Minute by Minute, gets the nod.  (Note both are written and sung by McDonald, who was under contract to Warner Brothers.)
4. It doesn’t sell, and the second best-of sells approximately 9,500,000 copies less than its predecessor – which is still in print, 35 freaking years later, even though there are at least two or three more comprehensive best-ofs now on the market.  Volume 2 is long out of print.

The Commodores, “Why You Wanna Try Me,” #66, 2/20/82
Third and final chart single from their album In the Pocket (it’s possible a fourth single, “Lucy,” didn’t chart), and it’s significant only because it’s the last chart single with Lionel Richie as a part of the band.  Ever since Lionel Richie and Diana Ross hit #1 for nine weeks with the theme to the movie Endless Love, it seemed pretty obvious Richie would be headed out the door sooner rather than later, and this midtempo song’s chart showing didn’t change things (he may have already been recording his first solo album at this point).  Oh, and kids - that thing in the video is called a turntable.

Grover Washington Jr., “Be Mine (Tonight),” #92, 2/20/82
One year after his huge hit “Just the Two of Us” with Bill Withers on vocals, this single from saxophonist Washington’s album Come Morning didn’t do nearly as well.  This time, it’s Grady Tate on vocals (a drummer by trade, he played with The Tonight Show band for a few years in the 1970s has played with artists from Stan Getz to Lena Horne, and sang “I Got Six” and “Naughty Number Nine” on Schoolhouse Rock).  To my knowledge, this was Washington’s last chart single.  He died in 1999 of a heart attack.

McGuffey Lane, “Start It All Over,” #97, 2/20/82
Country rock band that had been around in one form or another since 1972(and is still around today, believe it or not).  This was the followup to their biggest hit, “Long Time Loving You,” which hit #87 in 1981.  They have a couple of live and rerecording albums available for download (the hits were on Atco/Atlantic Records, but they’re long out of print); this song, however, isn’t available in any form for download.

Journey, “Open Arms,” #2, 2/27/82
The ultimate high school prom song of the first half of the 1980s, complete with string arrangement, Steve Perry’s bellowing lead vocal, and tender sentiments begging forgiveness.  I couldn’t stand it the minute I heard it, and I still can’t stand it now (and apparently some of the band members weren't crazy about it either), but it’s the group’s biggest hit, and cemented their reputation (for better or for worse).  I’m sure this has been on Glee at some point, right?

The Cars, “Shake It Up,” #4, 2/27/82
After barely scraping into the top 40 with “Touch and Go,” the lead single from 1980’s Panorama, The Cards promptly knocked out one of their biggest hits.  1984’s “Drive” would hit #3, but it would seem to me this is the one that’s lasted the longest – it’s an easy song to dance to, and Ric Ocasek’s hiccupping lead vocal here is more emblematic of the band than the late bassist Ben Orr’s smoothy singing on that hit.  It also has a classic video that clued the people at MTV in that their audience would happily watch scantily-clad women gyrate for hours if the song they played had a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.  (Yeah, Dick Clark had discovered that 25 years earlier, but still.)

Peabo Bryson, “Let the Feeling Flow,” #42, 2/27/82
He’s mostly known nowadays as the guy who sang all those Disney duets, but Peabo Bryson’s been around awhile.  His first album came out in 1976, and he notched a pair of gold albums in 1978 with Reaching for the Sky and Crosswinds.  More popular on the R&B album charts than pop albums (he’s had ten top 20 R&B albums), the most amazing thing about the man is his duet partners.  In chronological order, he’s sung with (deep breath) Natalie Cole, Roberta Flack, Melissa Manchester, Chaka Khan, Regina Belle, Celine Dion, and Linda Eder.  Up to this point, “Let the Feeling Flow” was his highest-charting pop hit; he’d beat that with one of the Roberta Flack duets, “Tonight I Celebrate My Love,” in 1983.

Teddy Pendergrass, “You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration,” #43, 2/27/82
And here’s another guy who didn’t cross over that often, with “Close the Door” his only top 40 pop hit (in fairness, he’d charted fairly frequently in the 1970s as lead singer of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes).  Pendergrass, however, had eight gold albums as a solo artist, four of which went platinum as well, and twelve top 10 R&B albums.  Inspired by Marvin Gaye among other bedroom crooners, Pendergrass was astonishingly popular as a concert draw as well.  “You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration” would be the last of his singles to hit the pop charts on Philadelphia International records (run by seminal soul masters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff).  None of this would mean much a few weeks after this song peaked at number 43:  on March 18, 1982, Pendergrass would wreck his car driving in Philadelphia, and wound up paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. 

Madleen Kane, “You Can,” #77, 2/27/82
If you’re keep lists within this list, this is an important one:  Singers You Should Not Google at Work.  (No, I didn’t, and there will be more than one; trust me on this.)  Madleen Kane was a Swedish model, occasionally appearing in men’s magazines.  She released a few albums for the disco market, which sold very well in both Europe and the United States, from 1978 through 1981; this was her one song that hit the Billboard Hot 100. “You Can” also hit the top of the dance charts.  To my knowledge, he hasn’t released anything new since 1982.

Chubby Checker, “Running, “ #91, 2/27/82
Geez, this guy’s been around forever.  Yeah, everyone knows “The Twist,” but he had a #1 dance hit in 2008 with “Knock Down the Walls.”  Anyway, this was one of his many comeback hits, although this one barely scraped onto the charts.  Nevertheless, he’s still out there singing, and his Super Bowl halftime show in 1988 (Washington vs. Denver; I didn’t see it because I was escaping a partyful of Bronco fans after the Redskins racked up 35 points in the second quarter) has to have been better than anything Up With People did.

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