Eddie Schwartz, “Over the Line,” #91, 3/27/1982
Second single from Schwartz following “All Our Tomorrows” is slightly more rocking than the first, but didn’t do as well on the American charts. A native of Toronto, Schwartz apparently charted higher in Canada than in the States. After a third album in 1983, Schwartz has pretty much stuck to songwriting and producing for other acts – his songs have been recorded by Pat Benatar (“Hit Me With Your Best Shot”), The Doobie Brothers (“The Doctor”), Paul Carrack, Joe Cocker, Donna Summer, and others.
Olivia Newton-John, “Make a Move on Me,” #5, 4/3/1982
Olivia was certainly becoming less subtle about what she was after around this time. The second single from Physical became a top five hit in the United States, and top 10 in Australia and Canada. It’s almost a forgotten single – it wasn’t even included on the American version of her 1992 best-of Back to Basics – but it was pretty inescapable when it was out (although not as inescapable as “Physical” itself, which was #1 for ten weeks).
The Pointer Sisters, “Should I Do It,” #13, 4/3/1982
A throwback to the girl groups sound of the 1960s, this turned out to be a fine followup to their hit from the previous fall, “Slow Hand.” The sisters had placed six singles in the Billboard top 20 up until this point; “Should I Do It” marked the first time two of those songs came from the same album (in this case, Black and White). Of course, two years later the aptly titled Breakout contained four top 10 hits, but who knew in 1982 the best was yet to come?
Sister Sledge, “My Guy,” #23, 4/3/1982
Third and last top 40 hit for the four sisters who had hit the big time three years before with two Nile Rodgers-Bernard Edwards produced disco classics, “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family.” (I wonder how the Philadelphia-born Sledge girls felt when “We Are Family” was picked up as the theme song by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies’ cross-state rivals.) The sisters made a smart move here: when you’re not getting hits, remake an old Motown song (written by Smokey Robinson, “My Girl” hit #1 for Mary Wells in 1964). Sister Sledge would chart in America one more time three years later with “Frankie” (which hit top 10 in five different countries but only climbed to #75 in the States), but they still perform (separately and together) today.
Foreigner, “Juke Box Hero,” #26, 4/3/1982
Third single from the 4 album, so named because a) it was their fourth album, and b) there were only four guys in the band by this point. (Wikipedia lists thirty-six different full-time members of the band since they started recording in 1977.) This one didn’t chart nearly as high as the first two singles, “Urgent” and “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” but it’s been a mainstay on classic rock radio stations for years.
Stevie Woods, “Just Can’t Win ‘Em All,” #38, 4/3/1982
Second top 40 single for pop/soul singer Woods, after “Steal the night” broke into the top 30 in late 1981. All three came from the same album, Take Me to Your Heaven, which was released through Atlantic Records subsidiary Cotillion. However, don’t be mistaken by the label association; it’s not like this will remind you of any of Atlantic’s R&B releases of the 1950s and 1960s. (Note: Blogger.com and You Tube are combining to not let me embed the one existing video of this song, so I'm adding a link instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpomKExWfYk.)
The Go-Go’s, “We Got the Beat,” #2, 4/10/1982
Now we’re talking. Second single from their #1 LP Beauty and the Beat, and a truly terrific pop single. Written entirely by guitarist Charlotte Caffey (Caffey and Jane Wiedlin wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs on the album), it was an instant “get up and dance!” song during its time out, and still resonates today.
The J. Geils Band, “Freeze-Frame,” #4, 4/10/1982
Wow, two great songs in a row – how often does that happen? Title track from their 1981 album, it didn’t quite match “Centerfold” on the charts, but it came close, and it’s a lot easier to explain this song to your kids than try to explain what a centerfold is. Cool video (for the era) with a lot of paint being splashed around as well.
Meco, “Pop Goes the Movies, Part 1,” #35, 4/10/1982
And back to Earth we come. Meco Monardo had been doing disco versions of movie themes for a few years, hitting the charts with everything from “Star Wars/Cantina Band Theme” in 1977 (his only #1) to “Theme From Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (“Goodbye! Goodbye!”) in 1978, and even a disco Wizard of Oz medley. With a few years between Star Wars movies, and with medleys still being popular, Meco strung together a pile of themes from classic movies, added the usual disco backbeat and/or handclaps, and out it went. It’s out of print now, and thus long forgotten – probably just as well. (In my book, it takes a very special kind of chutzpah to put disco handclaps on “Suicide Is Painless,” a.k.a. the theme from M*A*S*H.)
George Duke, “Shine On,” #41, 4/10/1982
Duke passed away earlier this year, but he sure got around during his lifetime. After notching a top 20 single with “Sweet Baby” in 1981 (as part of The Clarke/Duke Project with Stanley Clarke), Duke came up a little short here with this catch pop/soul number. The guy’s played with soul and jazz stars (Clarke, Frank Zappa, Flora Purim, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Deniece Williams, David Sanborn, Teena Marie), and his songs have been sampled by such current artists as Common and Ice Cube.
George Benson, “Never Give Up on a Good Thing,” #52, 4/10/1982
Benson had a ton of hits between 1976 and 1983, but he never managed two top 40 hits on a single album – or, in this case, on the two-album greatest hits set The George Benson Collection, either. This was the followup to the similar “Turn Your Love Around,” and did manage to make the top 15 in the UK. The parent album is probably his best anthology, if you can live without “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (which was lopped off when the original CD was released due to time constraints, and hasn’t been added back since).
Sugarhill Gang, “Apache,” #53, 4/10/1982
Third and final Hot 100 single for the first rap group to make the top 40, on Sugarhill Records. They still tour, however, and did a CD aimed for the children’s market (with a remake of “Rapper’s Delight” more appropriate for the small fry) in 1999. Have you ever been over to a friend’s house to eat, and his momma’s cooking just ain’t no good?
Shooting Star, “Hollywood,” #70, 4/10/1982
For a band that charted three singles in the early 1980s, none of which made it above #65, these guys sure have their fans – they’ve released seven studio albums and are still around today (albeit with only two of the original members). Fairly standard rock from the era, but obviously someone was listening.
Chris Rea, “Loving You,” #88, 4/10/1982
Fourth US chart hit for the native of Yorkshire, England, but this song is remarkable for being the first time Rea charted higher in the UK than in the States. Having finally shaken loose of producer Gus Dudgeon (who handled his first two albums; Rea was so dismayed by the way they sounded that he hasn’t allowed his biggest US hit, “Fool (If You Think It’s Over),” to be released digitally in anything but a self-produced rerecording) and the label managers who suggested he change his name to Benny Santini, Rea would slowly build up his career to the point where he had six consecutive albums hit the UK top 10, including a pair of #1 albums in The Road to Hell and Auberge.
Huey Lewis & The News, “Do You Believe in Love,” #7, 4/10/1982
First of 21 chart hits over a 12-year time span for the band, who got their start as Clover (although only Sean Hopper was among the band members that backed up Elvis Costello on My Aim Is True). After Clover broke up, Lewis and Hopper picked up three members of a rival SF-based band, Soundhole, and later added guitarist Chris Hayes, before signing to Chrysalis Records. Their first album didn’t do much, but the second one broke big, thanks to this made-for-radio singalong song.
Bertie Higgins, “Key Largo,” #8, 4/17/1982
In 1982, you could do this: make a top 10 hit with an adult contemporary homage to a Humphrey Bogart movie from 34 years before. Higgins was a singer-songwriter from Florida whose main claim to fame up until this point was playing in Tommy Roe’s backing band, but he hit the jackpot with this song (admittedly, some of the lyrical references were from Casablanca, which was an earlier Bogart movie that did not feature Lauren Bacall). A little goofy, but also a good change of pace for Top 40 formats, and probably made for some happy film buffs in the days before VCRs were standard in households. (This video gets some creepiness point if, as claimed on one web site, the woman in the video was pulled out of high school to do the shoot; Higgins would have been roughly twice her age.)
Stevie Nicks, “Edge of Seventeen,” #11, 4/17/1982
And yet another song misinterpreted. I read somewhere that this was Stevie’s oblique reference to losing one’s virginity, but it’s actually a song about the deaths of both John Lennon and an uncle of hers (so the white-winged dove meant something completely different). “Edge of Seventeen” comes from Tom Petty’s then-wife, who told Nicks the two met at the “age of 17” in a thick Florida accent. Anyway, this was the third hit single from Nicks’ Bella Donna album.
Van Halen, “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” #12, 4/17/1982
Cool, another good song, although opinions may vary. I’ve always liked the Roy Orbison originally, but this added some edge. Possibly a sign that Eddie Van Halen’s songwriting well was running dry (the next single was also a remake, in that case “Dancing in the Street”), but he bounced back well two years later with 1984. The biggest single for the band to this point, and the first single from their album Diver Down.
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