Wednesday, October 19, 2016

AT40, October 24, 1981 [Part 3 of 4]


I'm breaking down the AT40 show of October 24, 1981 track by track.  For an introduction and a look at #40-31, click here, for #30-21 click here.

#20:  "Just Once" by Quincy Jones feat. James Ingram. Fantastic song written by hitmakers Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, produced by Q, with soulful vocals from Ingram - I like everything about this song, from the tasty flugelhorn licks to the soaring strings. Now if only I could hear the song without it reminding me of the slap-you-in-the-face ending of the 1982 movie, The Last American Virgin. This single would later peak at #17 and would also chart on the R&B (#11) and Adult Contemporary (#7) charts. And all those chart peaks seem awfully low for such a classic ballad.

#19: "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" by Billy Joel. The live version from Songs in the Attic. Hey, didn't we already have a "Be My Baby" knock-off back at position #37? (One of the Ronettes should have covered it, maybe?) By 1981, I was such a fan of Mr. William Joel I would have bought any album he released - and that's just what I did. This song is just okay - not even in the top five tracks on that live album. It peaked at #17 on November 7.

#18: "We're in This Love Together" by Al Jarreau. Jarreau's biggest of his three Top 40 hits, peaking at #15 - not bad for a jazz vocalist. I'm a huge fan of Al's, especially his early '80s output, so this one's right in my wheelhouse. Bonus points for a sweet alto sax solo by Lon Price.

#17: "Theme from 'Hill Street Blues'" by Mike Post. Yawner. Not much to this one; not even guitar work by Larry Carlton can make it interesting. Somehow this spent 10 weeks in the Top 40, peaking at #10.

#16:  "Super Freak" by Rick James. The countdown bounces back nicely and now I'm suddenly transformed into a dancin' fool. Written in a time when "incense, wine and candles" was "such a freaky scene." Ah, the '80s. Backing vocals by the Temptations, the catchiest bass line of the year, and a funk groove capped off by a manic sax solo by Daniel LeMelle. Thumbs up.

#15:  "Here I Am" by Air Supply. The biggest mover in the countdown; up eight notches, as Casey liked to say.  It's not the best Air Supply ballad, but I quickly learned all the lyrics. Why? Because the ladies loved Air Supply and I desperately needed to become a ladies man. Alas, 'twas not to be. This single would peak at #5 and topped the Adult Contemporary chart.

#14:  "Share Your Love with Me" by Kenny Rogers. Produced by Lionel Richie with background vocals by Richie and Gladys Knight & The Pips, making it a cross between "Sail On" and "Midnight Train to Georgia." It has its moments (mainly when Gladys Knight is singing), but the sax solo doesn't fit and overall doesn't hold together for me. It would peak this week at #14 but was #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for two weeks.

#13: "When She Was My Girl" by The Four Tops. The group's 23rd Top 40 hit, this one would top the R&B chart and peak at #11 on AT40. I like it alright. Reminds me of the stuff Smokey Robinson was putting out around this time.

#12:  "Who's Cryin' Now" by Journey. I had Escape on cassette (bought it at the same time I bought Foreigner 4) and listened the ever-lovin' crap out of it. The album's best song is "Stone in Love" but this might be the second best cut. Being a wannabe rebel, I disowned the group once everybody owned the album and I started to cultivate the music snob/hipster/contrarian/my-music-is-cooler-than-your-music persona that, unfortunately, hasn't ever left me. So I didn't buy the follow-up album, Frontiers because we had gone our separate ways (sorry, I couldn't resist). I will admit this, though: Steve Perry has a fantastic voice and Neil Schon can tear off a wicked solo when he wants to. This spent 14 weeks in the Top 40, peaking at #4.

#11:  "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You" by Bob Seger. I'm not a big Seger fan, but this is a decent cover of a Memphis soul song originally cut by Otis Clay in 1972 on Hi Records. It sho is clean for a live performance - I suspect later studio overdubs. This turned out to be one of Seger's biggest hits, reaching #5.

AT40 Archives: "Everyday People" by Sly and The Family Stone.  Casey continues to play the #1 hits of the 1960's in chronological order. This one's a Stone cold classic, pun intended. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to listen to Sly CDs for the rest of the day.

More to come...

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