Here are the top 100 albums of 1979 (per Billboard
magazine’s year-end charts) and a few comments on each.
(Parentheses after the album titles indicates what format I have the album in; either CD, vinyl, or cassette. No parentheses means I don’t own it.)
1. Pink Floyd, The
– I’ve never been much of a Pink Floyd fan, nor much of a prog rock
fan in general – I own the same number of albums by Amy Grant as I do of Pink
Floyd, Rush, Yes, and ELP combined. I’ve got a Pink Floyd best-of and Dark Side of the Moon
, and that’s all
I’ve felt the need to own for quite some time. The Wall
was on my “I’ll download it off Freegal someday” list, but
since our library discontinued its Freegal subscription, that’s not happening
until I wear down their resolve. “Comfortably Numb,” “Hey You,” and “Run Like
Hell” got plenty of AOR play, but the big hit was “Another Brick in the Wall,”
which was #1 on WABC’s Top 5 at 10 night after night for weeks. (I remember DJ Howard
Hoffmann saying in disgust, “You know, there are other songs out there!”)
2. The Eagles, The
(CD, cassette) –I thought this was massively overrated after Hotel California
. (Eagles fans, however,
disagreed with me pretty vehemently when I presented this opinion in an Amazon
review.) Their last studio album for decades, containing three top 10 hits
(“Heartache Tonight,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” title track) that still get
played endlessly on the radio (and a few other albums tracks that get airplay
3. Michael Jackson, Off
(CD, vinyl) – Jackson’s breakthrough album. Personally I prefer Thriller
(“Don’t Stop Till You Get
Enough” sets my teeth on edge), but I can understand why some people think this
is the better of the two. Four top 10 hits here – “Don’t Stop,” “Rock With You,”
the title track, and “She’s Out of My Life” (which also annoys me).
4. Billy Joel, Glass
(vinyl) – Kind of a disappointment to me after The Stranger
; I think Joel wanted to prove he was a rocker rather than a
balladeer, and got caught short on material. Other than “Sleeping With the
Television On,” side two can be skipped – that’s actually not unusual for Joel,
given 21 of his 28 top thirty hits were on the first side of the albums, excluding
“Only Human (Second Wind)” (which was released from a two-LP hits collection). This
is also his shortest studio album, at just over 35 minutes. So if you’re
looking to start your Billy Joel collection, start elsewhere.
5. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Damn the Torpedeos
(CD) – This was Petty’s breakthrough album,
containing two top 20 hits (“Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Refugee”) and several
other radio standards (“Even the Losers,” “Here Comes My Girl”). The success of
this and other rock albums in the fall of 1979 helped bring the disco boom to a
6. Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band, Against the Wind
(CD) – Not his best – I
would take Night Moves, Stranger in Town
and The Promise
before this – but
it’s not bad. Three top 20 hits here (“Fire Lake,” “You’ll Accomp’ny Me,” title
track); this was a huge album in the spring and summer of 1980.
7. Pat Benatar, In the
Heat of the Night
– I have no Pat Benatar studio albums (although I do have
a three-disc greatest hits set, which is at least one disc too many). Nothing
against her; I just found most of her first few albums very similar (with the
possible exception of the Eurodisco-ish “We Live for Love,” found here along
with “Heartbreaker”). This one was produced by Mike Chapman; subsequent albums
were helmed by her husband, Neil Girardo.
8. Blondie, Eat to the
(CD, vinyl) – Perfectly good followup to Parallel Lines
, even though it had no top 20 hits (“Dreaming” did
the best at #27; “The Hardest Part” and “Atomic” are also here).
9. Led Zeppelin, In
Through the Out Door
– The last of their official studio albums (Coda
, from 1982, was all unreleased
tracks put together after John Bonham’s death). Probably not the way they
wanted to go out, but that’s the way it goes. “Fool in the Rain” was the one
chart hit, “All of My Love” also got significant radio play.
10. Kenny Rogers, Kenny
– As of this writing, I own 2,194 compact discs, 575 vinyl albums, and 295
albums on cassette – none of which are from Kenny Rogers.
11. Kool & The Gang, Ladies
(vinyl) – Released in an era where long versions were better (there
are only six songs on the whole album, averaging over five and half minutes
apiece), this turned around the band’s commercial slide and gave it two top ten
hits (the title track and “Too Hot”). James “J.T.” Taylor joined as lead singer
here (the “J.T.” was added to avoid confusion with the other James Taylor).
12. Soundtrack, The
– Bette Midler made a successful acting debut here, but she isn’t
Janis Joplin (which is fortunate for her). She can belt when she needs to, but
she’s an outstanding crooner and interpreter. It just doesn’t seem like a fit.
13. Styx, Cornerstone
– Yes, another Styx album in the year-end top 20. These guys kept busy. “Babe,”
“Why Me, “ and “Borrowed Time” were the hits.
14. Donna Summer, On
the Radio – Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 and 2
– I’ve got The Donna Summer Anthology
, which encompasses almost all of her
career (this obviously only goes through early 1980). That album includes
everything here except “Our Love” and “I Remember Yesterday,” so there doesn’t
seem a reason to hunt this one down.
15. Dan Fogelberg, Phoenix
– I have a bunch of Fogelberg albums, but I’ve avoided this one. I find
“Longer” a little nauseating, which I suspect is because I didn’t have anybody
to relate it to upon its release (Fogelberg never said it specifically, but I
suspect the song was written for his first wife – he was more specific about
saying “Dancing Shoes,” “Lonely in Love,” and most of the album Exiles
were about her, their marriage,
and subsequent divorce.) Another one in the “I would have downloaded it from
Freegal someday” pile (I did download Nether
16. Kenny Loggins, Keep
– Same thing as the Fogelberg entry, except I wasn’t nauseated by
“This Is It.” Downloaded Nightwatch
from Freegal, didn’t get to this one.
17. Christopher Cross, Christopher
(CD, vinyl) – And yet I have this one in two different formats. This
was a monster seller for a debut album, with four top 40 hits (“Ride Like the
Wind,” “Sailing,” “Never Be the Same,” “Say You’ll Be Mine”). After the disco
rampage of 1979, adult contemporary seems to have ruled the roost for much of
18. Kenny Rogers, The
– No interest whatsoever.
19. The Pretenders, The
(CD) – First album from the band, back when it was more of a
group and less of Chrissie Hynde’s backup band. “Brass in Pocket” can be found
here. It just occurred to me that both this album and Jackson Browne’s 1976
album The Pretender
through the WEA (Warner Brothers, Elektra, Atlantic) conglomerate – wonder how
many times those two titles were confused on order sheets?
20. Fleetwood Mac, Tusk
(CD, vinyl) – Fairly disappointing followup to Rumours
, although give them credit for trying something a little
different. It was pretty expensive ($15.98 list price as a double album, which
was pricey even then), Lindsey Buckingham’s contributions were more new wave
influenced and thus jarring to their fans, and all the RKO-affiliated radio
stations played the album in its entirety right before it was released, thus
giving fans a chance to save a lot of money. (After Warner Brothers threatened
to stop sending radio copies to RKO stations, that practice came to an abrupt
halt.) I liked the vinyl packaging, but having nothing but cardboard sleeves
didn’t help the condition of the albums. Chart hits included “Sara,” “Think
About Me,” and the title track. Note early CD issues (like mine) have a
truncated version of Stevie Nicks’ “Sara” to fit on one disc; try to find the
full-length version if you can.
21. Supertramp, Breakfast
(CD, vinyl) – A leftover from the top 100 albums of 1979, “Take
the Long Way Home” was a hit at the end of that year and into 1980; “The
Logical Song” and “Goodbye Stranger” were hits in 1979.
22. The Commodores, Midnight
– Also released in 1979, with “Sail On” and “Still” becoming huge
hits in the early and late fall of that year, respectively.
23. Herb Alpert, Rise
– Alpert’s biggest album in eleven years, since the heyday of the Tijuana
Brass. I’m not sure how comfy he was with the idea that the title track because
a #1 hit partially because it was used as the score for a rape sequence on a
television soap opera, but he didn’t decline permission to use it, I guess.
24. Molly Hatchet, Flirtin’
– These guys and .38 Special were pretty much the last of the
Southern rock groups. I should give them a chance – they’re probably about as
good as Lynyrd Skynyrd – but it hasn’t happened yet.
25. Waylon Jennings, Greatest
– This was released in the spring of 1979, but remained a catalog item
for years. RCA rereleased it in 1989, omitting two songs (from an 11-song
album?). At this point I’d get The
Essential Waylon Jennings
26. The Whispers, The
– 1980 was a big year for veteran R&B vocal groups. The
Whispers had been around since the late 1960s, but a label switch to Solar
Records (with distribution by RCA) certainly must have given them a boost. “And
the Beat Goes on” and “Lady” were the hit singles, both making it to the top 3
on the R&B charts.
27. Linda Ronstadt, Mad
–This is known as Linda’s punk rock album (it’s barely new wave), with
three songs each written by Elvis Costello and Cretones founder Mark
Goldenberg. None of those were singles, however; those were “How Do I Make You”
(written by Billy Steinberg, who wrote “True Colors,” “So Emotional,” and “Like
a Virgin”) and remakes of “Hurt So Bad” (Little Anthony and The Imperials) and
“I Can’t Let Go” (The Hollies), which makes me think somebody chickened out (Elektra/Asylum?
Peter Asher, her producer? Linda herself?). Not a catalog seller like her
others, although it did go platinum.
28. The J. Geils Band, Love
– Odd that this album should finish in the year-end top 30 despite
yielding no top 30 singles. Still, this gave the band a great commercial push,
which Freeze Frame
multiplatinum status. Then they broke up.
29. The B-52’s, The
– Debut album from the band, and I’m sure it’s a good one (although,
like Love Stinks
, there were no top
30 singles). I haven’t found it at a decent price; when I do I’ll add it to my
collection (I have Cosmic Thing
greatest hits set).
30. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gold
– Released in late 1979 as a two-LP set, now completely out of
print because the worst possible running time for vinyl albums is just over 80
minutes (which means a two-CD set, rather than one). If you love Lynyrd Skynyrd
and don’t have any of their hits sets, try Gold
And make sure you check the credits; the reconstituted version of the band has
released a ton of material, many of which are live versions of the original
31. Foreigner, Head
– This one has the title track and “Dirty White Boy” on it.
32. The Cars, Candy-O
– Released in the summer of 1979, stuck on the charts a long time.
33. The Bee Gees, The
Bee Gees’ Greatest
– Another two-LP greatest hits set. The Bee Gees have
had so many hits sets it’s difficult to keep track; this one is still in print
by virtue of adding a few songs to make it a two-CD set of respectable length.
34. Journey, Departure
– Man, 1979-1980 had a lot of AOR acts I don’t care for. This one has “Any Way
You Want It” as the big hit.
35. The Rolling Stones, Emotional
(vinyl) – Loved this when it came out in 1980, not so much now. (They
spent a year working on this one, and the subsequent LP of a few new songs and
a bunch that didn’t make previous albums, Tattoo
, was considerably better.)
36. Dionne Warwick, Dionne
– This also made 1979’s top 100 selling albums. “Déjà Vu” did well as a single
in late 1979 and into 1980, which kept this on the LP charts.
37. Boz Scaggs, Middle
(CD, vinyl) – One of my favorite albums from the year, this had two top
20 singles in “Breakdown Dead Ahead” and “Jojo.” “Look What You’ve Done to Me,”
a third top 20 hit from that year, is not
here; it’s on the Urban Cowboy
soundtrack (and that version is different than the single; you’ll need to get
one of his greatest hits sets to get the single mix).
38. The Brothers Johnson, Light Up the Night
– For a band that had some major hits (“I’ll Be
Good to You,” “Strawberry Letter #23,” and “Stomp,” which was on this album),
these guys have pretty much faded into obscurity. Partially because Quincy
Jones stopped producing them after this album, partially because A&M wasn’t
much with rhythm and blues acts. Anyway, “Stomp” is certainly a good one.
39. ZZ Top, Deguello
– “I Thank You” (written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter and originally a hit
for Sam & Dave) and “Cheap Sunglasses” were the big hits here. This was
their first album in three years and followed a label switch from London to
Warner Brothers, which was so busy promoting The Eagles, Led Zep, and Fleetwood
Mac that they may have dropped the ball on this one initially – it was released
in November 1979, but “I Thank You” didn’t chart until two months later.
40. Blondie, Parallel
(vinyl) – Another leftover, this one from late 1978. Blondie picked
up a lot of sales from “Call Me” on the American
41. AC/DC, Highway to
– The band’s first top 20 album in the states, and it’s still a great
catalog seller today. Bon Scott, their lead singer, died in February 1980,
which probably stimulated sales.
42. Jermaine Jackson, Let’s
– Jermaine’s the second best-selling member of The Jackson 5
beside Michael, which is kind of like being the second-best writer of the
Shakespeare brothers. This one became a big seller on the basis of the title
track, which was co-written and produced by Stevie Wonder.
43. Angela Bofill, Angel
of the Night
– On GRP Records, Bofill was pigeonholed as a jazz singer, but
that didn’t change much when she switched to Arista. This is her biggest
seller. A series of strokes starting in 2006 have left her unable to sing for
the most part.
44. Genesis, Duke
(CD, cassette) – I haven’t listened to this in years, but with
“Misunderstanding” and “Turn It on Again” on it, how bad can it be?
45. Jefferson Starship, Freedom
at Point Zero
(CD) – Marty Balin quit and Grace Slick was fired after Earth
came out in 1978; Mickey Thomas
took Balin’s place, with no replacement for Slick (she would return on a few
songs for the next album and full time after that). This is probably the best
of the post-Balin albums, because it doesn’t rely on outside songwriters. “Jane”
was the big hit here.
46. Journey, Evolution
– Oh, goody. Journey sold a lot in 1980 (but not as much as they would in
subsequent years). “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” was on this one, which was
released in 1979.
47. Eric Clapton, Just
– I have my doubts about the title; the album was recorded in
Budokan, Japan (which Cheap Trick made a popular live album spot), but he
played two dates there in December 1979, and you can’t tell me they didn’t take
the best takes from that pair of concerts. “Tulsa Time” and “Cocaine” charted
as a two-sided single. I’ll get this sometime when I see it cheap – as I’ve
noted before, I’ve made some bad choices by purchasing more recent Clapton
albums rather than his better stuff from the 1960s and 1970s.
48. The Cars, The Cars
(CD, vinyl) – Another 1978 album that was still lurking on the charts well
49. The Clash, London
(CD) – The band’s breakthrough LP in the States – their first two
albums (one of which was released two years after it was issued in the UK)
didn’t break the top 100. Of course, this one didn’t break the top 25 itself,
but it’s become a decent catalog seller, hitting platinum in the States,
partially due to a 2004 reissue that added one disc worth of outtakes and
alternate versions and a DVD (I’ve never watched the DVD, and I sense the
outtakes were never meant to be released – the sound quality on some is
unbelievably bad). “Train in Vain,” which was a hidden track on the original
release, became the band’s first top 40 single, and it’s a (slightly) more pop
direction that might have helped make the band a major worldwide act if Mick
Jones (who wrote and sang it) and Joe Strummer (who was the group’s main singer
and songwriter) had been able to get along.
50. Gary Numan, The
– Numan’s still a major star in the UK; Savage (Songs From a Broken World)
#2 on the UK charts in 2017. Not so much in the US; this album peaked at #16 on
the strength of the hit single “Cars,” but never found much success beyond that
second-highest charting album here). I loved “Cars,” but never heard much of
the rest of his stuff (he never had another American chart single), and placed
him (unfairly) in the same European One-Hit Wonder File as M (“Pop Muzik”); I
may have to try to listen to some of his stuff on Spotify.
51. Van Halen, Women
and Children First
– This has only sold three million copies, but it’s
still a bit of disappointment compared to their first two albums and 1984
. Still, there are people who like
this one (Robert Christgau rated it higher than any of their other albums), but
for me, this is another of those “I’ll get it if I see it cheap” albums. “And
the Cradle Will Rock” was the single.
52. Bob James and Earl Klugh, One on One
– First of three duo albums between pianist James and
guitarist Klugh, which has gone gold and won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental
53. Rush, Permanent
– The first top 10 album for the band in the UK and US (and their
third in their native Canada), with the medium hit single “The Spirit of
Radio.” I have to admit I’ve never really gotten into Rush, mainly because the
few people I knew who were big fans of the band in this era would just babble
about them all the time.
54. Smokey Robinson, Where’s
(vinyl) – This was a 1979 leftover that belatedly became a hit
after Motown reluctantly released “Crusin’” as a single. The original push was
for a disco remake of Robinson’s “Get Ready,” which he’d written for The
Temptations in 1966 and became a bigger hit for Rare Earth a few years later,
but that version flopped. “Crusin’” was Robinson’s biggest solo hit to that point,
and reestablished him as a force on the recording scene for a few years.
55. Barbra Streisand, Wet
(vinyl) – A (very vague) concept album from Streisand; all the songs had water
as a theme (although “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” was a bit of a stretch).
I have no idea why I have this, but I do.
56. Shalamar, Big Fun
– R&B trio briefly in vogue in the early 1980s; the lineup shuffled around
a few times. Solo, Howard Hewitt had a decent career, but Jody Watley did much
better. The hit on this one was “The Second Time Around,” which fit almost all
57. Rupert Holmes, Partners
(CD, vinyl) – I’m a huge Holmes fan, starting with “Escape (The
Pina Colada Song)” and going through all of his albums. I now own all of them
on a CD box set, Cast of Characters
which was given a very limited release of 3,000 copies in 2005. That set now
goes for between $375 and $500 used on Amazon and eBay; fortunately my wife
told me when I was reluctant to spend $80 on it new, “You will be kicking yourself
for the rest of your life if you don’t get it now.” Anyway, this is easily his
most radio-friendly album, with three top 30 hits (“Escape,” “Him,” “Answering
He might have had more hits
if he’d allowed his sense of humor through more often; unfortunately his following
two albums sounded like he was deliberately trying to avoid going down that
58. Lipps Inc., Mouth
– A near one-hit wonder (their other single to chart, “Rock It,”
stalled at #64) thanks to “Funky Town,” which was unfortunately inescapable on
the radio in the spring and summer of 1980. It was a real band, but the success
of “Funky Town” probably pigeonholed them permanently; they only hit on the
Dance charts after 1980 (albeit eleven times in all), and broke up in 1986.
59. Barry Manilow, One
– Manilow’s music was getting less airplay on Top 40 stations and
migrating slowly to Adult Contemporary; it might have helped if he’d had
another uptempo hit like “Copacabana” on this album.
60. Pete Townshend, Empty
(vinyl) – His first real solo album, and the beginning of the end for
The Who, as he started using his best songs for himself. This is a very good
album about a very confused guy who probably drank too much confronting aging,
a marriage that was slowly disintegrating, and a band that didn’t interest him
as much as it had. “Let My Love Open the Door,” which was as big a hit in the
States as anything The Who ever did, was the biggest single.
61. Soundtrack, Urban
(CD) – This didn’t quite do for country music what Saturday Night Fever
did for disco, but
it came close. Six top 40 singles were released from the album (plus two that
were already big hits well before this was released, The Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes”
and The Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”) kept this
selling through most of the year.
62. Stephanie Mills, Sweet
– Not really sure how this ranked so high – the album released in
April, but its big hit, “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” didn’t come out
until August. One of the last major releases by 20th
records; the corporation dumped the label on Polygram the following year.
63. Soundtrack, The
Empire Strikes Back
– This doesn’t contain the Meco version of the main
64. Ambrosia, One
(vinyl) – So named because they recorded it in January 1980,
although fans thought the name came from a 180-degree change in style – this is
more blue-eyed soul than the semi-prog rock the band had been playing. It
spawned two major hits, “Biggest Part of Me” and “You’re the Only Woman,” but a
subsequent album (and a turn toward harder rock) didn’t sell, and the group
broke up temporarily. Three of the original four members now tour again with
the band on the oldies circuit.
65. Prince, Prince
– This is actually his second solo album, and has his first hit, “I Wanna Be
Your Lover.” It took me years to realize the falsetto vocals on that hit and
appreciate his style (I now own a dozen Prince albums), but I managed.
66. Cheap Trick, Dream
(CD) – Kind of a disappointment after the success the band had with Live at Budokan.
The title track and
“Voices” were medium-sized hits.
67. Toto, Hydra
Another disappointing album; Columbia Records must have had a lousy fourth
quarter of 1979 (fortunately for them, The
made up for it). “99” was a medium-sized hit, and is not an ode to
Barbara Feldon’s Get Smart
68. Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan, Masterjam
– Fans of the band had to be careful at this point, as
not all of their albums actually featured Chaka Khan, who was enjoying a
concurrent solo career. “Do You Love What You Feel” was the radio hit here.
69. Soundtrack, American
(vinyl) – This ranked almost exclusively on the basis of Blondie’s
“Call Me,” which was never on any of their studio albums. I bought this used,
and was disappointed to discover the version of “The Seduction,” which became a
minor top 40 hit by The James Last Band with David Sanborn, wasn’t on it; it’s
a Giorgio Moroder synth version instead.
70. Isaac Hayes, Don’t
– Temporary comeback for Hayes, who had been all over the place in
the first half of the 1970s, but declared bankruptcy in 1976 after several
investments went sour. The title track (which he didn’t write; it’s a remake of
a 1958 hit by Roy Hamilton, and written by Jesse Stone) was a major hit, and
“Déjà Vu,” which he did write, was a hit for Dionne Warwick at the same time.
71. Kenny Rogers, Gideon
– I have to give him credit for working hard, I suppose.
72. The Knack, Get the
(vinyl) – Left over from 1979, of course. The followup album, …But the Little Girls Understand
, was a
huge flop, as critics (and, belatedly, fans) were realizing the focus of the
band’s lyrics seemed to be mostly having (borderline S&M) sex with
teenagers. (Google the lyrics of “Baby Talks Dirty” sometime.) A third album, Round Trip
, didn’t impress anyone, and
the band broke up, although they did have a few reunion LPs and tours after
73. Ray, Goodman & Brown, Ray, Goodman & Brown
– Another R&B vocal group, this trio
was originally The Moments (albeit with a bunch of changes in personnel); the
group was forced to change their name in 1979 after a label switch. “Special
Lady” was a gigantic hit for the group; although they never had a hit that big
after that, they’ve still toured under both this name and The Moments. (Do note
both Ray and Goodman are deceased and Brown has retired, if you’re thinking of
74. The Manhattans, After
– Another veteran R&B vocal group; The Manhattans hit here
with “Shining Star.” I’m not sure if they tour anymore; the website looks
75. Pat Travers Band, Crash
– Here’s a band that never had a top 40 single, and their only
chart hit at all came from their previous album – “Boom Boom (Out Go the
Lights).” And yet, here they are. Blues/boogie band from Canada, and yes, he
76. Frank Sinatra, Trilogy:
Past, Present and Future
(CD) – And, yes, the absence of a serial comma in
the title bugs the crap out of me. Three-album set from The Chairman of the
Board (two CDs), organized as the title suggests: one LP of standards, one of
songs from the 1960s and 1970s, and a “Future” suite written by Gordon Jenkins
(which has gotten a bunch of criticism, but I give him a lot of credit for
trying something completely different and with a point of view). Definitely
worth the money.
77. Spyro Gyra, Catching
(vinyl) – Another album of music I play right before going to
78. Neil Young, Rust
(CD) – Huge album for Young, and (as usual for him) nothing
like his previous album, Comes a Time
– this one rocks. “Hey Hey My My (Out of the Blue Into the Black)” was the big
radio hit from this one. This was recorded live with the crowd noise mixed out.
One of Young’s essential albums.
79. The Police, Regatta
(CD, vinyl) – Arguably just as good as their first album, Outlandos d’Amour
, just without a top 40
hit (“Message in a Bottle” is certainly an AOR standard, however). A pretty
good second album – most bands are struggling for material when they do a quick
followup (for The Police, that would be the third album, Zenyatta Mondatta
80. Pink Floyd, Dark
Side of the Moon
(CD, vinyl) – The reason Billboard
created a catalog album chart – this stayed on the album
charts for nearly a decade after its release, and was revived with the success
of The Wall.
81. Stevie Wonder, Journey
Through the Secret Life of Plants
– Major flop for Wonder after Songs in the Key of Life
. “Send One Your
Love” was the hit single. The theory is Wonder, who tends to work slowly, put
out Hotter Than July
less than a year
later was to minimize the failure of this one.
82. Crystal Gayle, Miss
– Her first album on Columbia Records after starting her
career on United Artists; she would also be on Elektra, Warner Brothers, and
Capitol (which makes finding an all-encompassing greatest hits set a
challenge). “Half the Way” was the big hit here.
83. The Alan Parsons Project, Eve
(CD, vinyl) – Not-challenging prog rock, I guess. The theme of
this album is women, and it’s a little misogynistic at times (although there
are female lead vocals on several songs – Parsons himself is not a singer). “Damned
If I Do” was the hit.
84. Steve Forbert, Jackrabbit
– “Romeo’s Tune” made people think he was going to be the next big
singer-songwriter; he wound up being a one-hit wonder. Still touring, though.
85. Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Live Rust
(CD) – Here’s the live album that came out shortly after Rust Never Sleeps
, with the version of
“Hey Hey, My My (Out of the Blue Into the Black)” released as a single. Young
has released seven “regular” live albums (counting Arc
, which is nothing but guitar feedback) and eight “archive” live
albums (released decades after they were originally recorded) by my count, and
that’s not counting albums like Rust
Never Sleeps, Freedom,
and Time Fades
, which were albums of all-new songs recorded live with the crowd noise
muted – so it’s hard to know where to start. But this is as good a place as
86. Heart, Bebe le
(CD) – Somewhat of a disappointment for Heart; Dog and Butterfly
had been considerably more successful. “Even It
Up” was a medium chart hit.
87. The Gap Band, The
Gap Band II
– Funk band from Oklahoma (didn’t expect that, did you?) had a
brief period of popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
88. Joe Jackson, I’m
(vinyl) – No hits here at all (“It’s Different for Girls” got a lot
of FM airplay), but a worthy followup to Look
As with The Police, the third
album (Beat Crazy
) was the stinker.
89. The Isley Brothers, Go
All the Way
– The Isleys maintained such a busy recording and touring
schedule in the 1970s and early 1980s it’s hard to keep track of all the
releases from that era. I don’t have this one; it’s probably okay but not great
(really, if you like the Isleys, start with a hits set). “Don’t Say Goodnight
(It’s Time for Love” was the hit here.
90. Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway
This has such a strange history. Flack and Hathaway had recorded together in
the early 1970s (“Where Is the Love” was a big hit for them in 1972), but had
stopped doing so for several years because of Hathaway’s diagnosis of paranoid
schizophrenia. They did release another hit duet, “The Closer I Get to You,” in
1978, and began working on this album the following year – but Hathaway
committed suicide after just two tracks were recorded. Flack finished the rest
of the album by herself (but kept Hathaway’s billing); both of the duets were
minor hits as singles.
91. The Captain & Tennille, Make Your Move
– First album for the duo on Casablanca after
several albums on A&M Records, this contains their last big hit, “Do That
to Me One More Time,” as well as two minor hits (including possibly the worst
version of The Turtles’ “Happy Together” ever). The duo joined Casablanca in
its death throes; after “Do That to Me One More Time” hit label president Neil
Bogart left the label (he would die of cancer two years later), the accountants
stopped the flow of cash and coke that had made the label famous, and The
Captain & Tennille’s recording career with Casablanca ground to a halt one
92. Smokey Robinson, Warm
(vinyl) – Not as big a seller as Where There’s Smoke
, but in my mind a better album – disco wasn’t a
part of it, and Robinson’s songwriting was unusually strong. “Let Me Be the
Clock” was a medium pop hit.
93. The Doobie Brothers, Minute
(CD, vinyl) – A leftover from 1979, boosted by a pile of Grammy
94. Donna Summer, Bad
(CD) – And another 1979 leftover.
95. Diana Ross, Diana
– Motown had an odd plan for this album: it was released in May 1980 without a
lead single; the label waited for R&B stations pick their favorite songs. (Originally
there was worry about the album’s quality; originally produced by Nile Rodgers
and Bernard Edwards of Chic, Ross had the instrumental tracks remixed and
rerecorded her vocals without their participation.) “Upside Down” was finally
released after two months; by September it was #1, and the album became her
highest-charting solo album aside from the Lady
Sings the Blues
soundtrack. (It’s hard to tell about sales on Motown albums
generally; Motown didn’t join up with RIAA until 1979.)
96. Change, The Glow
– Faceless studio band (Luther Vandross was one of the lead singers
early on) that hit #4 on the R&B charts with “A Lover’s Holiday.”
97. The O’Jays, Identify
(CD) – The band had been hitting steadily for years, so this
really wasn’t a comeback album, but they did make the top 30 with the single
98. Little River Band, First
Under the Wire
– This was released in the summer of 1979. “Lonesome Loser”
and “Cool Change” were both top 10 hits.
99. Anne Murray, I’ll
Always Love You
– Let me get back to you on that one.
100. Cameo, Cameosis
– I know very little about this band other than their 1986 hit “Word Up.” This
was their second album to go gold and first to hit #1 on the R&B album
charts. Apparently they’re now in residence in Las Vegas (don’t laugh, so is