Monday, April 6, 2015

AT40, July 19, 1980 [Part 1 of 4]

Because of what they did to local radio, I'm not a fan of iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Broadcasting), but the fact that iHeartRadio has an online station that streams classic American Top 40 episodes 24 hours a day mitigates my feelings a bit.  If you're like me, AT40 shows usually have three sections: 1) songs that I've completely forgotten or never knew, 2) songs that I haven't heard in a while and enjoy hearing again, 3) the big hits that continue to get airplay 40 years after debuting on the charts.  Of course there's the occasional stinker that I wish I could skip, but every now and then, we're treated to a run of 5 or 6 consecutive songs that are all enjoyable listens.  But as I was listening to the AT40 station the other day, I heard the episode for July 19, 1980 and, believe it or not, the whole Top 40 only had 3 songs I didn't want to hear.  It's softrocktastic with a touch of the emerging New Wave, so it's right in my wheelhouse. Even the extras are enjoyable.  That's a rare show, indeed.  So let's look at that week's stellar Top 40 track by track:

As was the custom back then, Casey starts the show by playing the top three songs from the preceding week: "The Rose" by Bette Midler, "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" by Billy Joel, and "Coming Up" by Paul McCartney.  Then it's on with the countdown:

#40: "A Lover's Holiday" by Change.  Haven't heard this disco song by the Italian group Change in 35 years, but the Houston radio stations I listened to must have played the crap out of it back in '80 because I started singing along with the chorus like I'd heard it only yesterday.  I can hear a heavy Chic influence.  The interwebs tells me that the lead male singer is the guy from the Schoolhouse Rock series and even if that's not true it makes for a great story.  Even though this song spent 9 weeks in the #1 spot on the disco chart, this would be its only appearance on AT40, spending just one week in the Top 40, peaking here at #40.

#39:  "All Out of Love" by Air Supply.  A soft rocker's dream.  Sappy lyrics, big strings, and lots of vocal harmonies.  Love the bridge, too.  If you were like me, you tried to keep up with the long note at the end.  This episode marked the song's debut in the Top 40, it would later peak at #2 and hold that spot for four weeks.

#38:  "I Can't Let Go" by Linda Ronstadt.  Another one of this week's AT40 debuts.  Ronstadt's underappreciated Mad Love album is one of my favorites and I think this cover of a Hollies tune might be the best song on the thing.  So many good parts, but my favorite might be when Ronstadt sings overdubbed duets with herself.  The Hollies peaked at #42 in 1966, Ronstadt would make it to #31 on August 9.

#37:  "Cars" by Gary Numan.  The oldest song in the countdown; this was its 17th and final week in the Top 40.  A groundbreaking classic that defined a genre.  It had peaked at #9 back on June 7.

#36:  "King of the Hill" by Rick Pinette and Oak. I've previously called this song "an unfortunate melodramatic marriage of the styles of Barry Manilow and Styx" which may have been a little harsh. Definitely not the strongest song on the countdown, but it's soft rockish enough that I don't mind hearing it every now and then.  This was the song's second week on the chart and here is where it peaked.  It spent one more week at #36 before leaving the Top 40.

#35: "She's Out of My Life" by Michael Jackson.  Jackson's best solo ballad, I particularly like the bridge of this one.  And yes, I found it funny when Eddie Murphy chose this song when he mocked MJ on the Comedian album. This song peaked at #10 back on June 21; this was its 11th and final week in the Top 40.

#34:  "Biggest Part of Me" by Ambrosia.  I told ya this list was softrocktastic, didn't I?  I liked this song from the get-go. Tight harmonies, Fender Rhodes, lots of hooks - that's the ticket.  This song peaked at #3 back in June; this was its 14th and final week in the Top 40.

#33:  "Make a Little Magic" by The Dirt Band.  With Nicolette Larson on backing vocals, this is very characteristic of the country/soft rock crossover phenomenon that was common at the time (thanks in part to the success of acts like The Eagles and Kenny Rogers).  Love the vocal harmonies.  One of those rare songs where the verse is better than the chorus.  This song would spend 9 weeks in the Top 40, peaking at #25 in late August.

#32: "Walks Like a Lady" by Journey.  I have no memory of ever hearing this bluesy shuffle tune, but I like it.  It's harmonically very simple, but Steve Perry brings it plus there's a nice guitar solo by Neal Schon.  And all over some tasty Hammond organ.  At #32, this was the song's peak chart poition during its 4 weeks in the Top 40.

AT40 Archives: "Cathy's Clown" by The Everly Brothers.  At the time, Casey was counting down the #1 songs of the 1960's, so we're treated to three #1's from 1960 during this countdown; this is the first.  Not only was this #1 for 5 weeks on the pop chart, it was #1 on the R&B chart for a week.  I don't own any Everly recordings, but I greatly appreciate their music and enjoy this tune.

#31: "JoJo" by Boz Scaggs.  Smooth yacht rock (and that's high praise 'round these parts).  Written with help from West Coast/AOR master David Foster, this mid-tempo ballad includes Ray Parker, Jr on guitar, a sweet sax solo, and a backing band of first-rate session members, a.k.a. Toto.  This song was on its way up the chart at this point, eventually peaking at #17 in late August and spending 9 weeks in the Top 40.

More to come...

1 comment :

  1. NO, just no on numbers 35 and 36.

    And you say "bluesy" but Ii'm going with jazzy on Journey's "Walks Like A Lady." SPOILER ALERT! She cries like a little girl.

    "Jojo" rocks me gently and kicks off Boz's Middle Man on a positive note before the stakes get raised with second track "Breakdown Dead Ahead". It's a safe bet that me and Mr. Scaggs will be spending some time together today as the majority of his back catalogue has been recently added to Spotify.