Because of you-know-what, the number 40 occupies an outsized portion of my mental landscape. I’ve noted before the thrill of anticipation in those first years of listening to Casey, not knowing how the show would commence–would it be a song I hadn’t heard before, something on its way down managing to hang on for one more week, or the same tune that had led off the previous week? I perhaps paid slightly greater attention to the subsequent fortunes of debuts in the opening slot, and of course noticed those occasions when a song dropped off after a single week of glory.
When I learned that this week’s 80s offering from Premiere was to be 7/19/80, I thought I remembered that it is the show when “A Lover’s Holiday,” from the Italian/American studio group Change, came on at #40 and then disappeared the following week. Change had three other songs hit the Hot 100 over the next couple of years, but never again made the show. This got me wondering: of the acts across the classic Casey AT40 era (7/70-8/88) with a single Top 40 hit, how many had their song peak at #40? And how many of those lasted on the show for only one week?
To investigate, I used two sources: my own charts and the website Ultimate Music Database. I was breezing through pages–both paper and virtual–pretty quickly, so I’m hoping there are no errors of omission or commission. (In the process, I noticed a couple of things that could be jumping-off points for future posts: a) there were more songs than I expected whose first and last weeks on the show were spent at #40, and b) several artists seemed to have a real knack for hitting #40 on their way up the chart.) The answers to the questions above? I count nine, with eight of them one-week wonders; as we’ll see below, I’m going to grant partial credit to three more, though.
These are the nine, in chronological order:
1. Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke, “Resurrection Shuffle” (8/7/71)
Somehow it’s taken me almost fifty years to get to know this burner. Just like Ben Folds Five almost a quarter-century later, these Brits were a keyboard-bass-drums trio.
2. Ten Years After, “I’d Love to Change the World” (11/20 and 11/27/71)
Another song from a UK blues-rock group, it’s the only one that lasted two weeks at #40. I did hear this one a fair amount growing up, and have always dug it.
3. Gunhill Road, “Back When My Hair Was Short” (6/2/73)
A favorite from the moment I discovered it on the K-Tel album Fantastic. Most likely song here to become an earworm.
4. Red Sovine, “Teddy Bear” (8/28/76)
One of these pieces is not like the others…
5. New England, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” (6/16/79)
Guess where these guys were from? Their debut LP was co-produced by Paul Stanley of Kiss; they lasted two more albums before hitting Splitsville.
6. The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star” (12/15/79)
I gotta believe this is the best-known song in this list, and probably the one I like most, too.
7. Change, “A Lover’s Holiday” (7/19/80)
A pretty sweet jam–maybe it would have been a much bigger pop hit had it come out 12-15 months earlier? As it was, it was part of a medley that wound up as the #1 dance track of 1980. He’s not heard here, but Luther Vandross contributed vocals to several cuts on the album it came from, The Glow of Love.
8. Rainbow, “Stone Cold” (6/19/82)
Ritchie Blackmore’s band in between iterations of Deep Purple. Lots of blokes shuffled through Rainbow’s lineup over the years; Ronnie James Dio, Cozy Powell, and Tony Carey were already gone by the time Straight Between the Eyes was released. Roger Glover was back together with Blackmore at this point, though, maybe making a DP reunion all the more inevitable.
9. The Communards, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (3/7/87)
Jimmy Somerville, late of Bronski Beat, teamed up with pianist Richard Coles and had a monster hit in the UK with this cover of Thelma Houston’s #1 song from a decade earlier. (Another possible task for inquiring minds is researching if any other covers of chart-toppers only made it to #40.)
As for the honorable mentions…I found three acts that conceivably could have qualified above, but, following the suggestion of The CD Project, were rejected because they weren’t listed as a separate act in my copy of Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles 1955-2002. Nonetheless, I want to acknowledge their consideration.
–Henhouse Five Plus Too, “In the Mood” (2/5/77)
We all know this bunch of cluckers was really just Ray Stevens all dressed up in feathers.
–Sonny Charles, “Put It in a Magazine” (1/22 and 1/29/83)
Charles is grouped in my Whitburn with the Checkmates, Ltd. Some singles credit just the band, others promote ‘Checkmates, Ltd. featuring Sonny Charles’, and the label on “Black Pearl,” their #13 hit from 1969, says they’re ‘Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd.’ He was strictly solo in the 80s, however.
–Joyce Kennedy (duet with Jeffrey Osborne), “The Last Time I Made Love” (10/6 and 10/13/84)
Kennedy apparently doesn’t merit her own entry in Whitburn (this song is listed under Osborne’s), though the band for which she sang, Mother’s Finest, had a couple of singles chart in the mid-70s. I know that editorial decisions must be made, but I will note that L.T.D. has its songs listed separately from those of Osborne…