Monday, October 17, 2016

AT40, October 24, 1981 [Part 1 of 4]

Let's travel back 35 years and take a look at the American Top 40 for October 24, 1981 track by track:

As was the custom back then, Casey recaps the top three tunes from the previous week. He mentions #3, "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones and #2, "Endless Love" by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross before playing last week's #1: "Arthur's Theme" by Christopher Cross. Then it's on with the countdown:

#40: "Our Lips are Sealed" by The Go-Go's.  Belinda and the girls make their AT40 debut. Casey describes them simply as "an all girl band - five of 'em!" With that, me and my friends all got copies of Beauty and the Beat and I developed a strong desire to move to L.A. This single would eventually peak at #20 on December 12. #20? Wait - that can't be right, can it?

#39: "The Beach Boys Medley" by The Beach Boys.  A poorly edited medley of 8 BB tunes:
"Good Vibrations"
"Help Me, Rhonda"
"I Get Around"
"Shut You Down"
"Surfin Safari"
"Barbara Ann"
"Surfin' USA"
"Fun, Fun, Fun"
But this song is why I can't listen to "Help Me, Rhonda" without my mind automatically segueing to "I Get Around." Cursed medley! This was the single's eleventh and final week on AT40; it had reached #12 back on October 3.

#38: "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" by Diana Ross. The second of three debuts this week. Frankie Lymon took it to #6 in 1956, Diana Ross would take this version to #7. Ms. Ross appears again on the countdown later on. With all due respect to Diana, this is one of those remakes that makes me long to hear the original. The 1950s retro fad from the '70s had ended by this time - even Laverne & Shirley had moved to the '60s (and Burbank) by 1981.

#37: "You Saved My Soul" by Burton Cummings. The last debut of the week. I have absolutely no memory of this one and now that I hear I know why. Stealing the beat from "Be My Baby," this song sounds like a poor man's Jackson Browne tune. The song would stay at #37 the following week before plummeting to #60. Cummings would never crack the Top 40 again as a solo act.

#36: "The Voice" by The Moody Blues. This fantastic song had peaked at #15 on October 3, but spent 4 weeks at #1 on the Rock chart (and deservedly so).

#35: "In the Dark" by Billy Squier.  Two quality rock tracks in a row. This song was the follow-up to "The Stroke" but I like "In the Dark" much better. I must be in the minority, however, as this was the single's peak position in its brief three week run in the Top 40.

#34: "Queen of Hearts" by Juice Newton. I'm indifferent to this one - I can take it or leave it. This was the song's 19th and final week on AT40; it had peaked at #2 back on September 19. Casey plays a bit of Dave Edmunds' version before cutting to Juice Newton's single (possible because the arrangements are almost identical, just different keys). Despite the similarities, Edmunds sounds more rockabilly, where Newton's skews country. And since I'm a contrarian by nature, I'm going to say Edmunds' version is better.

#33: "Sausalito Summernight" by Diesel. Oh, yeah! This one needs to be featured on my Lost AT40 Single series. Sounds almost exactly like Steve Miller Band with a fantastically catchy chorus. Bonus points for a bass solo. Alas, this Dutch quintet qualifies for one-hit wonder status as this was the group's only song to appear on AT40. It would be in the Top 40 for 6 weeks, peaking at #25 on November 21. Far too low IMO.

#32: "I Could Never Miss You" by Lulu. Haven't heard this since '81, but I immediately recognized the verse. Not a bad little pop song. Recorded for a 1978 album, it was released in 1981 after Lulu had gained some TV exposure in the UK. This one had peaked at #18, but this was the song's last week in AT40 although it would go all the way to #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Lulu had 4 Top 40 tunes in the US; this ended that run which began in 1967 with the #1 smash "To Sir With Love."

#31: "The Old Songs" by Barry Manilow. Having been a Fanilow since '77, I liked this one from the get-go. Typical Manilow ballad: piano intro, add strings, add background chorus, key change before the final chorus. Formulaic and I wouldn't have it any other way. This would go on to peak at #15 in late November, but it also spent 2 weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. My mother rarely dared to purchase music for me but when she did she always chose wisely; I found a cassette of If I Should Love Again under the tree in December '81.

AT40 Archives: "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye.  At the time, Casey was counting down the #1 songs of the 1960's; here's the 189th #1 song of that decade. This smash topped the charts for 7 consecutive weeks in December '68 and January '69. It also topped the R&B chart for the same 7 weeks.

More to come...

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