(Above, Me, every time I turn on the radio lately.)
You get two for the price of one tonight – the next box was also from the 1980s. It’s marked Box 3. I skipped Box 1 because it contains all picture sleeves and (I suspect) bigger hits than we’ll find here. In the last post we found some goodies. Let’s see what this box contains:
“We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” – Jermaine Stewart (#5, 1986). I joked in the last post that I could have included this in a hotmix. With two turntables, I guess I could. Entrenched memory for this song: hearing it played at the Den at Lewis, and the whole room adding additional profane lyrics to the chorus in an effort to contradict the message of the song. (We yelled “bullshit” in time with the music. So there.)
“Soul City” – Partland Brothers (#27, 1987). Canadian content rules are now covered with this one-hit wonder. We had it in the rotation at WJEQ when I was there in 1990, and I don’t think I’ve heard it since then. It’s a nice little bit of pop.
“Face the Face” – Pete Townshend (#26, 1986). The whole White City LP will likely get its own post at some stage, since it’s been a favorite since it came out. This was the only single from the album, but “Secondhand Love” and “Give Blood” may be superior tracks. That said, this one, at a really loud volume, sounds pretty good.
“Raised On the Radio” – The Ravyns (did not chart, 1982). This release is on Fast Times at Ridgemont High records and features Don Felder’s “Never Surrender” on the flip side. I’ll put this in the “fauxldies” category – it sounds like a throwback 60s tune that fits the scene in Ridgemont well where Brad is washing the cruising vessel. It’s also a song that any true fan of radio should own.
“Fight Fire With Fire” – Kansas (#58, 1983). This got a lot of airplay on MTV, and I remember a lot of fire. I also seem to remember WMET in Chicago playing this a lot, but that could be my memory playing tricks on me.
“My Girl (Gone, Gone Gone)” – Chilliwack (#22, 1981). More CanCon, although this also got a ton of MTV airplay. Out of the seven (!) singles they put in the Top 100, this one was the biggest hit, and it’s a great record.
“You Don’t Want Me Anymore” – Steel Breeze (#16, 1982). This is a LOT of synth. It’s a perfect example of what early-80s power pop sounded like. This would have hit the charts right about the time I was starting high school, and probably heard it on the bus on the way to school, since it sounds really, really familiar.
“Another Lover” – Giant Steps (#13, 1988). This is definitely a guilty pleasure record. We played the grooves out of it at WJTW when I first got there, and I still kind of like it – perhaps just for the time-and-place association. If I had to explain late 80s “soccer mom radio” to someone who didn’t understand what I was getting at, I’d suggest this as an example. (I also wrote about this a few weeks ago.)
“Taken In” – Mike and the Mechanics (#32, 1986). This followed “All I Need Is a Miracle” and “Silent Running,” but didn’t chart anywhere near as high. It’s another Paul Carrack vocal, and I’d much rather hear it than “The Living Years” any day of the week.
“Rumors” – Timex Social Club (#8, 1986). Another true one-hit wonder that you could not escape on the radio in the summer of 1986. I much preferred the parody, called “Roaches,” which I played on college radio more than a few times.
“Kayleigh” – Marillion (#74, 1985). Just two questions: one, why was this NOT a bigger hit, and two, why isn’t the 80s channel on Sirius/XM playing this sort of thing instead of Jack and Diane for the eight-millionth-damned-time?
“Mary’s Prayer” – Danny Wilson (#23, 1987). Fun fact: Danny Wilson is the name of the band, not the singer. Alphabetically, this needs to go under “D.” The band took its name from the Sinatra movie Meet Danny Wilson. Either way, this is another one of those perfect pieces of pop that I will completely admit to turning up on the rare occasion I hear it. The band had this, and no other hit record in the US (despite “If Everything You Said Was True” getting airplay on at least one station I worked for, probably WJTW).
“Kick The Wall” – Jimmy Davis & Junction (#67, 1987). This one I remember hearing on WLLI when I was in college. For some reason we didn’t play it at WLRA, and upon hearing it again, I’m thinking I should have been giving it spins. This is a decent record.
“China In Your Hand” – T’Pau (did not chart in US, 1987). I had a thing for Carol Decker in college. No, she wasn’t a classmate – she was the lead singer for this band. “Heart and Soul” was the only video that I played in multiple appearances as a VJ on the Lewis University Television Network (a subject for another day). Given the chance, I would have had those shows be “all Debbie Gibson, all T’Pau.” I wasn’t allowed to, fortunately – but I worked this one in on the radio show at WLRA more than once. This was their biggest hit in the UK, hitting #1 on the British charts.
“Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room)” – Paul Lekakis (#43, 1987). I hadn’t thought about this record in years. I played it. It’s now stuck in my head. Your turn. (This was a #1 record in Australia.)
“Cannonball” – Supertramp (#28, 1985). If I gave you as many guesses as you wanted to come up with Supertramp’s last chart hit, I doubt you’d have come up with his one. By this time Roger Hodgson had gone on his own, but the group kept plugging away. This screams Thomas Dolby to me.
“Two Of Hearts” – Stacey Q (#3, 1986). I can’t hear this song and not think of the Casiotone we had with the sample button on it. I think that’s how they made this record. That’s how we made ourselves sound like the record, anyway. Inexplicably not a one-hit wonder, Stacy followed this with “We Connect” in 1987. It was basically the same record.
“Out of Mind, Out Of Sight” – Models (#37, 1986). This sounds like the same record as Pseudo Echo’s “Funkytown,” and I think I could do something with them in a mix. This one is the cooler of the two. (This box is turning out to be the cooler of the two.)
“One Step Closer To You” – Gavin Christopher (#22, 1986). I might be remembering this in the same way I remember John Hunter – local Chicago guy got extra airplay. This sounds like it should be from the soundtrack of some late 80s rom-com.
“Vox Humana” – Kenny Loggins (#29, 1985). I’ve decided – my 80s channel would be better than what’s available in my car, because I’d play this. Mix “I’m Alright” and “Footloose,” and you get this. This should have been a bigger hit, because it’s really catchy. Maybe I need access to a transmitter…
“Look Away” – Big Country (did not chart in US, 1986). Remember the band that made plaid vests fashionable? Their catalog went deeper than US radio featured, and this is a great example. It was #1 in Ireland and top 10 in the UK, and I think we missed out.
“Honeymooners Rap” – Joe Piscopo (did not chart, 1985). Holy hell. This escaped my memory entirely. All you need to know is this: Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy are Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton, and it’s a dance record. You’re welcome.
“The Knife Feels Like Justice” – Brian Setzer (did not chart, 1986). In between the Stray Cats and the Brian Setzer Orchestra swing band stuff, Setzer set out as a solo rock artist. He didn’t chart with it, but this is a nice piece of pop.
“Digging Your Scene” – Blow Monkeys (#14, 1986). A great record. I need to find a copy of American Top 40 from the summer of ’86 to see if Casey Kasem sounded as silly as I do saying the name of the band. (“Up four notches this week…”)
“Ronnie’s Rap” – Ron & The DC Crew (did not chart, 1986). This may be the highlight of the night. Yes, it’s a rap by a Reagan impressionist. It’s worth it just for “push, push, in the George Bush.”
“Right Between The Eyes” – Wax (#43, 1986). At first I thought this might be Paul Carrack, who sang on just about everything. Actually, it’s Andrew Gold (the guy who sang the theme from the Golden Girls) and Graham Gouldman from 10cc. This is one of those “shoulda been bigger/should be on the radio now” songs.
“So Many Men, So Little Time“ – Miquel Brown (did not chart in US, 1983). Here’s a case of my memory playing tricks on me: this was on the radio a LOT in Chicago. Actually, I remember it on the radio two ways: this single, and a parody on Robert Murphy’s morning show at Q-101 done over the instrumental B-side sung by a lispy man (Get it? Gay joke!). Despite all that airplay, it didn’t chart anywhere except in dance clubs.
“Modern Girl” – Sheena Easton (#18, 1981). Long before Miami Vice, she was a pop star. Her first hit, “Morning Train,” may have been one of the simplest sets of lyrics ever to hit #1 if we don’t count “Tequila.” This was the follow-up single, and it’s damned catchy – even if it inexplicably rhymes “tangerine” with “magazine.”
“What About Me” – Moving Pictures (#29, 1983 – and again in 1989). I believe this was also on my 1984 mixtape, even though it shouldn’t have been. I remember it getting a lot of airplay in high school, and I liked it – and then never heard it again until college. That was the 1989 re-release, when it got a lot of airplay (but missed the top 40). This one I do hear every now and again, and it still holds up.
“Memphis Thing” – Rob Jungklas (B-side, 1986). You’ve likely never heard this record. If you were here, I’d hand you a beer and say “Let’s fix that.” The A-side of the record, “Make it Mean Something,” stalled on the charts at #86. Bobby Skafish at WLUP was one of the DJs who thought to flip the record over and play this side instead. Had more DJs done that, the song might have had a chance. It’s a stomper.
There’s lots more boxes, but I need to pace myself. What I am learning from this exercise: “classic hits” radio needs to go a lot deeper than it does. There are a lot of tunes in this box that I should be hearing a lot more often than every few years when I have a free night to spin records.