Digging around the lower regions of the 1/10/81 Hot 100 (and below) yields some nuggets worth revisiting.
#106: Robert Palmer, “Looking for Clues”
Looking at the Bubbling Under section, I see this gem from Bobby P (as John and I referred to him during his late 80s heyday). He’d had two Top 40 hits to this point, but his efforts at new wave went largely unappreciated in the U.S. (“Johnny and Mary” is another fabulous song from Clues.) This spent eight weeks in Hot 100 purgatory, peaking at #105; this is the next-to last of those.
It’s a bit unsettling to notice that I’ve now lived longer than Palmer did. This Saturday will be the 70th anniversary of his birth.
#72: Dire Straits, “Skateaway”
I’m double-dipping here, as I’ve touched on this song before, but here’s something else that it brings to mind. When I was growing up, there was a drive-in theater alongside I-75 in Fort Wright, KY, just up the hill from Cincinnati. The screen faced out toward the interstate, and many was the time we’d be driving back from a Reds game at night and catch twenty seconds of whatever was currently playing (I went to watch movies there a few times after I started driving, too). Next to the drive-in was an ice rink. I skated there just once, on a Saturday in early 81, with my church youth group. I’m kinda thinking they played “Skateaway” (even if it’s a roller-skating song) over the PA that afternoon; at the very least, it was in my head from hearing it on the radio at the time. It reached #58 soon after this.
#70: David Bowie, “Fashion”
Bowie flew under my radar between “Golden Years” and “Under Pressure.” It was probably in my mid-80s MTV-watching days that I became aware of some of his important work from between those hits. I’d rate “Ashes To Ashes,” also from Scary Monsters, somewhat higher than this one, but this is still good stuff. It’s at its peak position.
#57: Earth, Wind and Fire, “You”
Here’s a song that had completely dropped from my memory until about a year ago, when I started looking at the Harris Top 50 charts again in earnest. “You” first appears on Valentine’s Day weekend and stays five weeks, reaching #32. What’s kinda odd is that’s right when it’s falling off the Hot 100, after a twelve-week stay. And I can’t even remember which Cincy radio station might have been playing it. Weird. It’s a nice ballad, one that deserved a better fate than its #48 peak, which had occurred on the previous chart.
#51: Rockpile, “Teacher Teacher”
Pretty sure the name Rockpile reached my ears at some point in the early 80s, and I might have even been known that Dave Edmunds was a part of it (not so sure that’s true about Nick Lowe’s involvement, though). Regardless, this fine slice of pop slipped by me back in the day. This is as high as it got.
#47: Teddy Pendergrass, “Love T.K.O.”
Pendergrass hit the Top 40 only once as a solo artist after leaving Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, with “Close the Door” in the summer of 78 (he did score two weeks at #40 later in 81 on a duet with Stephanie Mills). It’s a little hard to believe this didn’t get any higher than #44. On the other hand, it’s another one that I’m not quite sure how I came to know.
#44: Queen, “Need Your Loving Tonight”
The pattern of chart performance of the singles from The Game was a bit strange: first and third releases were monster #1 hits, while the second and fourth both fell just short of the 40: “Play the Game” reached #42 in between “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” while this one is stalling out right here. It’s possible that “Need Your Loving Tonight” got undercut by the release of Queen’s single of the theme from Flash Gordon. I definitely remember hearing this on the radio at the time, but it feels like it’s taken all of the thirty-eight years since to encounter it again.
There are a couple other songs that would have been appropriate to include here which will instead get some love in the next Charts post.