Songs Casey Never Played, 9/10/83

This was the first weekend back on campus for my sophomore year of college; classes would have started the previous Wednesday. James and I had picked a room on the top floor of our non-air conditioned dorm. The hot weather that lasted well into September that year may have made us question the wisdom of the choice…

As ever, there were songs being released then that would never grace American Top 40. Here are six, including some by acts who enjoyed great commercial success within a couple of years.

92. Tears for Fears, “Change”
As big a fan of Songs from the Big Chair as I became, you’d think I would’ve checked in on The Hurting before 1987, after I’d already been in Illinois for a year. Jim, one of my two roommates at the time, had it on one of those newfangled CD-things, which I quickly ripped onto a cassette.

I don’t believe “Change” (on its way down after reaching #73) made the Lexington radio scene at the time it was a single, and if someone played it in the dorm, well, that completely slipped by me. It and “Pale Shelter” are my personal faves from The Hurting.

86. Herbie Hancock, “Rockit”
This was around the time I became more invested in MTV (my parents were soon to move to a house that had cable so I could check it out over weekends at home). Thus, I got enough exposure to “Rockit” to believe it had some chance to become a bigger hit than its eventual #71 peak.

72. The S.O.S. Band, “Just Be Good to Me”
This and the next one did receive play on at least one Lexington station that fall. I have a feeling I didn’t connect “Just Be Good to Me” at the time as being by the band who’d given us “Take Your Time” three years earlier. It’s one of the first songs written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and deserved a better fate than a high of #55.

70. Midnight Star, “Freak-a-Zoid”
Talk about your jams. I’m sure Midnight Star derived some of its attention in my sphere due to their local connection (they formed in Frankfort, less than 30 miles away from Lexington), but they earned every bit of it. Somehow “Freak-a Zoid” reached just #66.

(Which is better? This one or “No Parking on the Dance Floor”? I lean toward the latter.)

62. Wham!, “Bad Boys”
The second U.K. band in this post who’d make it big with their second album. George (like Curt above) sure looks mighty young in the video. While “Bad Boys” was a huge hit in their homeland, it only made #60 here.

47. Heart, “How Can I Refuse”
IMO, this was the best single Heart had released since, oh, “Straight On” almost five years earlier. Passionworks was their first album not to produce a Top 40 single (this peaked three spots higher), though it was really just another stop on a continuing decline in sales and popularity. They were soon dropped by Epic; new label Capitol would make them use outside writers for what turned out to be all the singles from their 1985 smash comeback.

Bonus content! It’s one of the three sheets I picked up over the summer of 1983 that list the hot-and-happening tunes being played on Cincinnati’s then-AM pop hits station. I almost certainly got them at a record store in the Florence Mall, this one not long before heading back to Transy. Note that all six of the songs featured here are listed, plus several others I could have chosen.

I’m not sure what the Springfield/Kihn thing is about–setlist.fm says that both were in Tucson (though at different locations) that day. My guess is that the station broadcast a recording of recent concerts…

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