This past weekend’s 80s countdown came about two-thirds of the way through the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. At that point in time I was writing letters to students I’d be shepherding through orientation in just a few weeks (the official title was Student Orientation Leader–my group consisted of transfers, some a few years older than I). A few became friends as well as fellow members of the class of 86, though I suppose I lost touch with all of them within a few years of graduation.
The Hot 100 from that week had a few nice songs that didn’t ever have the chance to get in touch with Casey; let’s review some of them, shall we?
#99. R.E.M., “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)”
It would still be a few months until R.E.M. began seeping into my consciousness, and this would be one of the first songs of theirs to which I paid close attention. Reckoning isn’t their best record, but I guess I consider it to be the quintessential R.E.M. album, certainly among the ones I like most–all that jangle, and yet it still totally rocks. Not too long after I started working at my institution in 92, I was the subject of an employee profile in the weekly campus newsletter for faculty and staff. One of the questions was about my favorite song; I told them it was “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville.”
“So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” is in its last of a six-week run on the chart, having climbed only to #85.
#96. Paul Young, “Love of the Common People”
The third charting single from No Parlez, it suffered the same fate as the first one, a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home),” in that it failed to crack the Top 40. (In between came one of my absolute faves from 84, the #22 “Come Back and Stay.”) The very solid “Love of the Common People” didn’t miss by much, though, getting as high as #45. It too is about to fall off the chart.
#83. Elvis Costello and the Attractions, “The Only Flame in Town”
Costello and his band had their first U.S. Hot 100 hit the previous fall, when the excellent “Every Day I Write the Book” from Punch the Clock climbed to #36. The perhaps appropriately named Goodbye Cruel World, Costello’s last album with the Attractions, came out in June of 84, and it yielded this somewhat silly tune/video with Daryl Hall contributing background vox. “The Only Flame in Town” is debuting here, and would reach #56.
#81. Cherrelle, “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On”
So, yeah, Robert Palmer would later go to #2 sleepwalking through this Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis joint. The superior original, from Cherrelle, only would climb to #79 (though it went Top 10 on both the R&B and Dance charts). She did get a couple of Top 40 hits, in 86 and 88, pairing up with Alexander O’Neal.
#71. Yes, “It Can Happen”
90125 had been the album of the spring in our dorm room. Not long after I got back from that trip to Daytona with HS friends, James, Warren, and I converged on Riverbend, an outdoor venue on the Ohio to the east of Cincinnati, for an evening with Yes.
I thought (and still think) “It Can Happen” was one of the two or three best tracks on 90125–Chris Squire’s bass work, as always, is the bomb. Despite the optimism of the title, the song had already topped out at #51. I like the album version better, but I’m inserting the video that features the single edit anyway.
#50. Genesis, “Taking It All Too Hard”
Speaking of albums that got mucho play in our room in 84… I’m a pretty big fan of large chunks of both Abacab and Genesis. It’s surprising in retrospect that “That’s All” was the only Top 40 hit on the latter of those; “Taking It All Too Hard” is a fabulous tune that should have gotten higher than this spot. Maybe album sales were hurting singles’ prospects by this point? Then again, Phil’s upcoming solo album, as well as the threesome’s next effort, obliterated any thought that these guys couldn’t generate multiple big hits from a single release.