Songs Casey Never Played, 9/27/86

It was a month-plus into my new phase of life in a new city in a new state, probably still feeling my way around. While I was continuing to pay less attention to (and generally enjoy less) what was happening toward the upper end of the Hot 100, that didn’t keep songs which couldn’t crack the Top 40 from being released. Here are six from late September of 86 that were on the tail end of their failed attempt to make the show.

#90. Thompson Twins, “Nothing in Common”
Title song from a Jackie Gleason/Tom Hanks film, the last of Gleason’s storied career. The now-a-duo Twins (Joe Leeway had split earlier in the year) couldn’t sustain their chart magic of the previous two-plus years, reaching only #54 with this one. Tom and Alannah would have two more minor Top 40 hits after this.

#89. John Fogerty, “Eye of the Zombie”
Fogerty wasn’t remotely able to replicate the success of Centerfield. This title track of the follow-up album only spent four weeks on the chart, having already peaked at #81. I heard it on the radio a few times around then, and could see why it stalled out.

#73. Doctor and the Medics, “Spirit in the Sky”
Hearing the Norman Greenbaum original played on the hi-fi in our living room is among my first musical memories–Dad had bought the 45 when it was riding high on the charts in the early part of 70. This glam, ironic yet also insufficiently ironic remake definitely caught my attention, not necessarily for all the right reasons.  Whether in spite of or due to a low-budget video that features shameless mugging by The Doctor–as well as various Medics–and an homage to the wall-climbing scenes from the original Batman TV series, it had shot to #1 in the UK earlier in the year. Stateside, it was on its way down from #69.

#66. The Moody Blues, “The Other Side of Life”
This one and the next are follow-up singles to Top 10 hits by long-standing groups from earlier in the year, but that’s about all they share. I liked this atmospheric piece well enough, I suppose. The Moodies appear to be trying to make some grand statement with the clip, though, and in the end it’s just a bunch of weird stuff featuring a ton of low-fi special effects with no worthwhile payoff. The band doesn’t even seem into the goings-on–definitely a letdown from the charming vid for “Your Wildest Dreams.” The song is falling off a #58 peak.

#56. The Fabulous Thunderbirds, “Wrap It Up”
Decent cover of a Sam & Dave song (it was the B-side to “I Thank You”); the Eurythmics had also taken a shot at it three years earlier. As far as the video goes: talk about indulging male fantasies…  I’ll admit, I was a touch surprised when it only got to #50.

#42. Gwen Guthrie, “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But the Rent”
The late Guthrie cuts to the chase: “No romance without finance.” And: “You got to have a J-O-B if you wanna be with me.” Yes, this is its peak position. It would be the only time Guthrie made the pop charts, but she gets full credit for creating a memorable phrase (or two, or three).

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