Sunday, January 29, 2023

40 Years Ago - Top Singles of January 29, 1983

Let's take a look at what was topping the various single charts on January 29, 1983.

Radio & Records
"Down Under"
Men at Work
"Down Under"
Men at Work
"Down Under"
Men at Work
Daryl Hall & John Oates
"Shame on the Moon"
Bob Seger
"Sexual Healing"
Marvin Gaye
"Baby, Come to Me"
Patti Austin & James Ingram
"Heart to Heart"
Kenny Loggins
"Dirty Laundry"
Don Henley
Billy Joel
"The Girl is Mine"
Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney
"Sexual Healing"
Marvin Gaye
"Baby, Come to Me"
Patti Austin & James Ingram
Daryl Hall & John Oates
Toni Basil
"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me"
Culture Club
"Baby, Come to Me"
Patti Austin & James Ingram
"Dirty Laundry"
Don Henley
"Rock the Casbah"
The Clash
"The Girl is Mine"
Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney
"The Other Guy"
Little River Band
"Shame on the Moon"
Bob Seger
"The Other Guy"
Little River Band
"You Can't Hurry Love"
Phil Collins
"You and I"
Eddie Rabbitt & Crystal Gayle
"You Can't Hurry Love"
Phil Collins
"Stray Cat Strut"
Stray Cats

Exclusive MFD meta-analysis of the above charts:
  1. "Down Under" (30 points)
  2. "Africa" (20 pts)
  3. "Baby, Come to Me" (18 pts)
  4. (tie) "Sexual Healing" and "Maneater" (14 pts)
  5. (tie) "Dirty Laundry" and "Shame on the Moon" (11 pts)
  6. "The Girl is Mine" (9 pts)
  7. "Heart to Heart" (8 pts)
  8. "Allentown" (7 pts)
  9. (tie) "Mickey," "The Other Guy," and "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (5 pts)
  10. (tie) "Rock the Casbah" and "You Can't Hurry Love" (3 pts)
  11. "You and I" and "Stray Cat Strut" (1 pt)

Here's what MTV was playing around that time:

Friday, January 20, 2023

Counting down the Top 83 of '83 - Albums #10 - 1

(or, more accurately, my favorite albums released in 1983)

Under a Blood Red Sky

Produced by:Jimmy Iovine
Billboard 200:28
CashBox 200:19
Rolling Stone:6

 U.S. Billboard charted singles: Hot 100 Rock
 I Will Follow81
 Eleven O'Clock Tick Tock

Top 3 Tracks
"Sunday Bloody Sunday"

One of the best live bands in the history of rock and roll released what they called a "mini-LP" live album for a "special low price" - 8 tracks, 35 minutes, $5.99. I'll go out on a limb here and call this U2's best album. Back when the band was in their early 20s and before Bono developed his God complex, they could really rock. U2 has always been about sound rather than songs and they sound really good here. My original cassette (which I still have) never left the Pioneer car stereo in the Markmobile in December of 1983. Around that time, in an effort to woo a girl named Gloria, I gave her a copy of the cassette and told her to listen to the song titled Gloria. Even back then I knew that was a lame idea. Needless to say, that effort didn't work.

Reviews from 1983:


Produced by:Trevor Horn
Billboard 200:5
CashBox 200:4
Rolling Stone:1

 U.S. Billboard charted singles: Hot 100 RockDance
 Owner of a Lonely Heart113
 Our Song
 It Can Happen515
 Leave It24329
 Hold On

Top 3 Tracks
"It Can Happen"
"Owner of a Lonely Heart"

Ah, the genius of Trevor Horn. He was at the height of his production powers during the early '80s. I still find things I've never heard before with each listen. Moving from full-fledged band member to behind the console, Horn rescued this prog-rock band from the brink of extinction and turned them into a successful pop-rock band. I'm not a fan of Jon Anderson's voice, but the songwriting and production are good enough that his nasal singing doesn't bother me that much. The album was simply titled after its Atco Records catalog number (for example, 7-90125-1 for the LP). The liner notes brag about the fact that the cover image was created "utilising Apple IIe 64 RAM micro-computer and Bitstik controller." Man, we've come a long way. 

Reviews from 1983:
  • Billboard: "should appease both old fans and potential new ones"
  • CashBox: "Call it synthpop or dance rock, the new Yes is definitely not the old art rock dinosaur of old."
  • Rolling Stone (★★★): "most of the album is surprisingly spritely and poppish."
  • Smash Hits (2 out of 10): "full of duff instrumentals and daft climaxes, without even two decent songs to rub together"
  • Stereo Review: "rococo rock - all ornamentation, no foundation"
  • Trouser Press: "a wide-eyed series of miniature rock operas, corny and quaint."

Can't Slow Down
Lionel Richie

Produced by:Lionel Richie & James Anthony Carmichael
Billboard 200:1
CashBox 200:1
Rolling Stone:2

 U.S. Billboard charted singles: Hot 100 AC R&B Dance Rock
 All Night Long (All Night)1115
 Running with the Night766

 Stuck on You318

 Penny Lover818

Top 3 Tracks
"All Night Long"
"Love Will Find a Way"
"Can't Slow Down"

I'm a sucker for good pop music and that's all this is. This was also the pinnacle of Richie's career. It won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1985, beating out Prince's Purple Rain and Springsteen's Born In the USA (maybe those two albums split the vote?). I'm sure a lot of you would be able to sing along with most of the songs - I just can't help liking this over-produced, maudlin, sentimental album.

Reviews from 1983:
  • Billboard: "a change of pace"
  • Rolling Stone (★★★★): "masterfully synthesizing everything we love about Motown" 
  • Smash Hits (5 out of 10): "It's smooth soul with pop's singalong qualities which, though never surprising, is fairly satisfying."
  • Stereo Review: "full of high-quality, highly listenable songs"
  • Robert Christgau (B+): "this surprisingly solid album bids fair to turn into a mini-Thriller, and good for him--it's a real advance."

Let's Dance
David Bowie

Produced by:David Bowie, Nile Rodgers
Billboard 200:4
CashBox 200:4
Rolling Stone:1

 U.S. Billboard charted singles: Hot 100 RockDanceR&B
 Let's Dance18114
 Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

 Modern Love146

 China Girl10351
 Without You73

 Criminal World

Top 3 Tracks
"Let's Dance"
"Modern Love"
"Without You"

Throughout all his personae (Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke), David Bowie knew how to locate great musicians with which to collaborate: John Lennon, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolin, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Pete Townshend, Queen, Mick Jagger, Pat Metheny, etc. When he recorded this '80s classic, Bowie not only teamed up with the great Nile Rodgers to produce, he also recruited an up-and-coming blues guitarist from Texas, Stevie Ray Vaughan, to play lead (both Rodgers and Vaughan have already appeared on this list). Put them together with Rodger's former band members in Chic: Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards (among others) and you've got one helluva backing band. While he was being accused of selling out, I think he put together an innovative work at the intersection of post-disco, new wave, and soul. 

Reviews from 1983:
  • Rolling Stone (★★★★): "Bowie cuts a rug, and cuts the crap."
  • Stereo Review: "somewhere in these grooves is the Next Big Thing."
  • Trouser Press: "a pop record that simply bleaches the competition."
  • Smash Hits (6½ out of 10): "So what? Everyone makes the odd dull album."
  • Robert Christgau (B): "Rodgers & Bowie are a rich combo in the ways that count as well as the ways that don't"

The Luxury Gap
Heaven 17

Produced by:British Electric Foundation and Greg Walsh
Billboard 200:72
CashBox 200:97
Rolling Stone:-

 U.S. Billboard charted singles: Hot 100 DanceRock
 Let Me Go74432
 Who'll Stop the Rain
 We Live So Fast10234
 Crushed by the Wheels of Industry

Top 3 Tracks
"Crushed by the Wheels of Industry"
"Let Me Go"

Fun, danceable Synthpop meets Britfunk. This was the band's sophomore effort and while a group's second album normally isn't as good as the first, that isn't the case here. In fact, the band actually takes it up a notch here by adding strings, piano, and a horn section to the band's synth and Linndrum sound. The writing improved as well. calls this "one of the seminal albums of the British new wave." I concur.

Reviews from 1983:
  • Rolling Stone (★★★½ ): "Humanity, of all things, is the critical advantage that British synth-pop trio Heaven 17 enjoys over most of its technopeers."
  • Smash Hits (8½ out of 10): "by turns entertaining, irritating, danceable, thoughtful and downright daft"
  • Stereo Review: "makes it possible to dance to some of today's most pressing social issues"
  • Trouser Press: "one hell of a band"
  • Robert Christgau (B+): "Nowhere else in music or sociology will you learn so much about the would-be hedonists who live the technopop/Anglodisco life."

City Kids
Spyro Gyra

Produced by:Jay Beckenstein and Richard Calandra
Billboard 200:66
CashBox 200:70
Rolling Stone:-

Top 3 Tracks
"City Kids"
"A Ballad"

After falling in love with this band's Latin-flavored funk-lite/smooth jazz/instrumental pop sound in 1982 with their Incognito release, I wasted no time picking up this album as soon as it was released. Wore out the grooves. Literally.

Review from 1983:

David Sanborn

Produced by:Marcus Miller, Ray Bardani, Michael Colina
Billboard 200:81
CashBox 200:76
Rolling Stone:-

Top 3 Tracks
"I Told U So"
"A Tear for Crystal"
"Neither One of Us"

In the early to mid '80s, I was a big Sanborn fan and listened to him often in high school. I always think that particular period of his career, when he teamed up with Marcus Miller, was his best era and this smooth jazz release fits into those years. A great late-night album. With ten of my school friends, I saw both Sanborn and Spyro Gyra that fall at the Kool Jazz Festival stop in Houston:

Such adventures may have had an influence on these pSpyro Gyra and Sanborn albums' high rankings in this coutdown, but who the hell knows? It probably has more to do with the fact that I played them all the time.

Reviews from 1983:
  • Billboard: "straightforward pop and soul melodies framed by taut rhythm work and lush keyboard and vocal as foils for Sanborn's signature alto sax phrases"
  • Stereo Review: "expert but too long"

An Innocent Man
Billy Joel

Produced by:Phil Ramone
Billboard 200:4
CashBox 200:5
Rolling Stone:2

 U.S. Billboard charted singles: Hot 100 ACRockDance
 Tell Her About It111738
 Uptown Girl3222
 An Innocent Man101

 The Longest Time141

 Leave a Tender Moment Alone271

 Keeping the Faith183

Top 3 Tracks
"Uptown Girl"
"The Longest Time"
"Tell Her About It"

Released just before my senior year in high school, this album was purchased on or near the date of release. Being single for the first time since he was a teenager, Joel paid tribute to popular music of his youth here, with homages to soul and doo-wop music. After the somber, Beatlesque album The Nylon Curtain, this album was a complete change of direction and became Joel's second most successful album after The Stranger. Joel was happier and it shows in this infectious music. I was growing out of my teenage angst years around this time and was much happier myself, so this album got a lot of playing time as it suited my general mood around that time (senioritis).

Reviews from 1983:
  • Billboard: "The songs capture the innocence and charm of late '50s and early '60s pop while still sounding fresh and vital."
  • CashBox: "undoubtedly the artist’s best musical work in some time"
  • Rolling Stone (★★★½): "an affectionate, spirited paean to an undefiled past that's truly forever"
  • Stereo Review: "confirms Billy Joel's pop -music artistry and stylistic mastery."
  • Robert Christgau (B+): "A good half of these songs have the timeless melodic appeal of the greatest pop."

Al Jarreau

Produced by:Jay Graydon
Billboard 200:13
CashBox 200:7
Rolling Stone:8

 U.S. Billboard charted singles: Hot 100 ACR&B
 Boogie Down77
 Trouble in Paradise6310

Top 3 Tracks
"Boogie Down"
"Trouble in Paradise"

This collaboration with West Coast sound gurus David Foster, producer Jay Graydon, and session musicians Jerry Hey and Steve Gadd, is a great collection of commercial pop/R&B tunes featuring Jarreau's fantastic voice. Sure, he could have stretched out a little more, but that's only a minor concern - if Jarreau wanted to produce commercially successful music more than scat singing, what does it matter to me? I like this album so I'm glad he went that direction. Probably his best album, released when he was 43 which seemed old to me in '83 but now seems quite young.

Reviews from 1983:

North of a Miracle
Nick Heyward

Produced by:Geoff Emerick
Billboard 200:178
CashBox 200:170
Rolling Stone:-


 U.S. Billboard charted singles: AC
 Whistle Down the Wind20

Top 3 Tracks
"On a Sunday"
"When It Started to Begin"
"Club Boy at Sea"

A perfect pop album. This album was just what this 17 year old boy needed in the fall of 1983.  It was one of the first pop LPs I replaced with a CD in 1990.  Even all these years later, this album continues to get significant playing time.  In other words, it struck a chord with me (bad pun intended).  I never could get any of my high school or college friends interested in Heyward's music or that of his previous band, Haircut 100, but I listened to this all the time.  To me, everything clicked: the writing, the production (by Beatles' engineer Geoff Emerick), the orchestration, the performances, etc.

John Hughes must have liked this album, too. Two songs from it ("When It Started to Begin" & "Whistle Down the Wind") appear during the school dance scenes in the 1984 Hughes classic film, Sixteen Candles.  

Reviews from 1983:

These are my personal top 83 albums released in 1983.  The following criteria was used on a very slippery sliding scale:
  • How often I enjoyed the album at the time of release
  • How often I've enjoyed the album over the years since
  • Overall quality of the album
Chart information is from the US Billboard, CashBox, and Rolling Stone album charts.

The top tracks for each album are solely my opinion.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Counting down the Top 83 of '83 - Albums #25 - 11

(or, more accurately, my favorite albums released in 1983)

You Broke My Heart in 17 Places
Tracey Ullman

Billboard 200: 34
CashBox 200: 55
Rolling Stone:-
Top 40 pop singles:"They Don't Know" (#8)
Top track:"They Don't Know"

A fun covers album all done in the classic '60s girl group sound, but I didn't know they were covers when I first heard the album. In other words, Ullman's versions introduced me to these fluff bubblegum pop songs.

Def Leppard

Billboard 200: 2
CashBox 200: 2
Rolling Stone:5
Top 40 pop singles:"Photograph" (#12)
"Rock of Ages" (#16)
"Foolin'" (#28)
Top track:"Photograph"

Not really heavy metal, the melodies and smooth production makes this more of a 'pop metal' album. To be enjoyed at a very high volume, preferably in a fast motor vehicle with the windows rolled down. At the time of this release, I was more of a new wave kind of guy, but after seeing the video for Photograph on MTV, I figured I'd give the band a shot. Glad I did.

Rebel Yell
Billy Idol

Billboard 200: 6
CashBox 200: 8
Rolling Stone:6
Top 40 pop singles:"Eyes Without a Face" (#4)
"Flesh for Fantasy" (#29)
Top track:"Rebel Yell"

The sound of the sneer. This is a wonderful album that combines New Wave synths and hard rock guitar, courtesy of Steve Stevens. This album lives in the seldom-visited world between head-banging and technopop - heavily produced, fun, harmless, full of  hooks are plentiful, and Stevens steals the show.

David Bean

Billboard peak: -
CashBox peak: -
Rolling Stone peak: -
Top 40 pop singles:none
Top track:"Marsha's Car"

A 7 track EP from the former leader of The Judy's, a Houston-based garage band. New Wave power pop gems; plenty of 2 minute songs full of hooks and witty lyrics. 

Spandau Ballet

Billboard peak: 19
CashBox peak: 20
Rolling Stone peak: 20
Top 40 pop singles:"True" (#4)
"Gold" (#29)
Top track:"Communication"

It all came together here for the band. Maturity and new producers (Tony Swain, Steve Jolly) can go a long way. As for the title track, I love the thing, I always have, and I don't care who knows it. I know all the lyrics and will also vocalize the sax solo. The track that got me hooked, however, was Communication, particularly the chorus, so I'm partial to that tune. But it's a solid album; the only track I'll occasionally skip among the eight here is Foundation.

Mike's Murder
Joe Jackson

Billboard peak: 64
CashBox peak: 81
Rolling Stone peak: 29
Top 40 pop singles:none
Top track:"Cosmopolitan"

Night and Day was my first Joe Jackson album and I listened to it constantly in late '82/early '83. I was starved for more of the same so I purchased this soundtrack album as soon as I saw it. It is in the same vein and uses the same musicians as Night and Day and for a musical chameleon like Jackson, that's saying something. And that was good enough for me. It's got a couple of strong songs, a couple of good songs, a derivative single, and extended instrumental soundtrack cuts. It's hit-or-miss, mostly enjoyable, and it held me over until the next album.

Pipes of Peace
Paul McCartney

Billboard peak: 15
CashBox peak: 12
Rolling Stone peak: 8
Top 40 pop singles:"Say Say Say" (#1)
"So Bad" (#23)
Top track:"Pipes of Peace"

Sometimes called a companion peace to its predecessor, Tug of War (many songs were recorded at the same sessions), I actually like this record a little better than Tug. It's more poppy and cohesive to my ears. All produced by George Martin. Many critics disagree with me but so what? There's beautiful ballads, throwbacks to the previous decade and a #1 duet with Michael Jackson.

The Police

Billboard peak: 1
CashBox peak: 1
Rolling Stone peak: 1
Top 40 pop singles:"Every Breath You Take" (#1)
"King of Pain" (#3)
"Synchronicity II" (#16)
"Wrapped Around Your Finger" (#8)
Top track:"Synchronicity II"

Almost a greatest hits package in itself. While the music is upbeat, the lyrics are very dark. Making a slow turn from rock to adult contemporary, the final tracks hint at what was to come on Sting's Dream Of The Blue Turtles.

Men at Work

Billboard peak: 3
CashBox peak: 2
Rolling Stone peak: 2
Top 40 pop singles:"Overkill" (#3)
"It's a Mistake" (#6)
"Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive" (#28)
Top track:"Overkill"

No sophomore slump here. In fact, I like this album better than the band's 1982 debut, Business As Usual. Even so, it took me a while before I had my own copy of this one. Before that, I simply dubbed a cassette copy from my friend Scott's LP. Like the first album, Cargo consists of a few obvious singles and some obvious filler, but the filler on Cargo is better although the overall atmosphere is a bit moodier.

Learning to Crawl
The Pretenders

Billboard peak: 5
CashBox peak: 4
Rolling Stone peak: 1
Top 40 pop singles:"Back on the Chain Gang" (#5)
"Middle of the Road" (#19)
"Show Me" (#28)
Top track:"Middle of the Road"

This is the group's greatest album even though "Message of Love" is my favorite Pretenders song and it was on their previous release, Pretenders II. This is a more complete album. Chrissie Hynde can bring it; this music has aged well.

Mirage a Trois CD cover
Mirage à Trois

Billboard peak: 145
CashBox peak: 152
Rolling Stone peak: -
Top 40 pop singles:none
Top track:"Claire's Song"

While this album has never been named to any "best-of" lists for jazz fusion, I came across this music at just the right time in my life. When this was released, I was just discovering instrumental pop/smooth jazz through the music of Tom Scott, Spyro Gyra, and David Sanborn. At the same time, I was heavily into New Wave music with all its analog synthesizers and sequencing. This album seemed to combine the two: instrumental jazz with the synth as the main melodic instrument. At this time, the group was basically a synth-bass-drums trio with lots of guest artists appearing on certain tracks, but in later releases, the group would add a sax player. To me, they never sounded this good again.

Sergio Mendes
Sergio Mendes

Billboard peak: 27
CashBox peak: 33
Rolling Stone peak: -
Top 40 pop singles:"Never Gonna Let You Go" (#4)
Top track:"Never Gonna Let You Go"

I can't help it. I just love this cheesy album. To say that anyone could have made this record may be overstating the case, but the fact is that there is no way of knowing that this is a Sergio Mendes record without looking at the jacket. Mendes produced the record and plays keyboards on all the tracks, but I think he was more of a coordinator for this album, putting together songs written by top-notch songwriters (Ivan Lins, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Michael Sembello) and the best session musicians available at that time (Nathan Watts, Ernie Watts, Jerry Hey). Sure it's not Mendes' '60s sound and it's over-produced, but it's a solid pop album to my ears.

In Heat
The Romantics

Billboard peak: 14
CashBox peak: 15
Rolling Stone peak: 21
Top 40 pop singles:"Talking in Your Sleep" (#3)
"One in a Million" (#37)
Top track:"Rock You Up"

I'll let Village Voice critic Robert Christgau do the heavy lifting on this one: "I was annoyed at first by the loud drums and big echo, which tend to dwarf their simple pop-rock, but daily doses of "Talking in Your Sleep" destroyed my resistance. Really, fellas, anything you say, I'll stop thinking altogether if that's the ticket. Just give me another HOOK! B+"

Huey Lewis & The News

Billboard peak: 1
CashBox peak: 1
Rolling Stone peak: 2
Top 40 pop singles:"Heart and Soul" (#8)
"I Want a New Drug" (#6)
"The Heart of Rock & Roll" (#6)
"If This Is It" (#6)
"Walking on a Thin Line" (#18)
Top track:"Heart and Soul"

Sure the lyrics are silly, but most songs here come with at least one infectious hook. Add some top notch self-production to those hooks and the radio friendly songs become mindlessly enjoyable. So mindless that I've heard these songs hundreds of times yet don't know the lyrics when I try to sing along.


Billboard peak: 36
CashBox peak: 37
Rolling Stone peak:23
Top 40 pop singles:none
Top track:"Radio Free Europe"

I didn't purchase this album when released, but my friend Jim did. He played it for me and I immediately took his album home to dub it to a cassette. I had never heard anything like it and it would be a while until I did. The jangly guitars, mumbled vocals, and unpolished garage band production were different enough in 1983 and while there's nothing special about the chord progressions, the writing is good throughout.

These are my personal top 83 albums released in 1983. The following criteria was used on a very slippery sliding scale:
  • How often I enjoyed the album at the time of release
  • How often I've enjoyed the album over the years since
  • Overall quality of the album
Chart information is from the US Billboard, CashBox, and Rolling Stone album charts.

The top track for each album is solely my opinion.