Songs Casey Never Played, 10/30/82

Lots of nice options here, part of a long stretch of tunage that wound up falling short of getting featured on AT40. Here are six that were in various stages of failure at the end of October 82.

#100. The Motels, “Take the L”
In which we get a spelling lesson from Martha Davis. Was vaguely aware of it at the time; while not as good as other singles of theirs, it’s more than worthy of a listen. In its last week on the Hot 100, down from a peak of #52.

#77. Talk Talk, “Talk Talk”
One of two songs featured today I’m kicking myself over having failed to discover in real time. IMO it crushes about 90% of the songs on this chart. I featured this back in the first six weeks of blogging, but happy to wheel it out again.

Talk Talk couldn’t match Yellow Balloon’s #25 peak with a self-titled song; this got only two spots higher.

#76. Charlene and Stevie Wonder, “Used to Be”
In general, I try to avoid taking the time to write about dreck–life is just too short. I’m making an exception this time, however–this has to be the worst song I’ve blogged in my two-plus years. I’m simply grateful that I managed to avoid it until now.

“I’ve Never Been to Me” is way overdramatic and pretty bad, but I can at least understand it resonating somewhat with the public, even if not as much as it did. Its surprising re-emergence in the spring of 82 after stiffing four-plus years earlier got Charlene a new contract and a duet with Mr. Wonder. It’s terrible. The first stanza goes, “Superman was killed in Dallas/There’s no love left in the palace/Someone took the Beatles’ lead guitar.” These are Kennedy and Lennon assassination references, I guess. It only goes downhill from there. Trust me. Or not. Stunningly, it reached #46.

#69. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message”
I’ve got to cleanse the palate after that, so we’ll finish with three very fine cuts. First, how about a classic old-school track? “The Message” went Top 10 in several countries, but apparently the folks in the US weren’t ready to hear it yet–it would reach only #62.

#57. Missing Persons, “Destination Unknown”
I don’t know how it took almost ten years for me to really catch on to this most excellent cut–I’d been well aware of “Words” back in the summer when it was receiving attention. Like “Words,” this topped out at #42. I think it’s the song that least deserves to be in this post.

#53. Paul McCartney, “Tug of War”
This was the first Macca single to miss the Top 40, not counting “Seaside Woman,” a #59-peaker in the summer of 77 by Suzy and the Red Stripes–aka Linda McCartney and Wings. It’s stalling out here; fantastic piece, though.

“In a time to come we will be dancing to the beat played on a different drum.” If only.

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).

Songs Casey Never Played, 8/27/77

This show came right at the time I was beginning 8th grade. WSAI, 1360 AM, was about a year away from flipping formats from Top 40 to country, so I wasn’t yet taking time to explore what Cincinnati had to offer on the FM side of things. Not that I likely would have known more than a couple of these six tunes that fell short of AT40 glory had I been doing so, anyway…

#97: Dr. Hook, “Walk Right In”
I suspect Dr. Hook was trying to duplicate the formula that had resulted in “Only Sixteen” reaching #6 the previous year. However, this cover of The Rooftop Singers’ #1 hit of early 63 is uninspiring at best. Nonetheless, it somehow managed to reach #46.


#88: Brownsville Station, “The Martian Boogie”
Now we are talking. I didn’t encounter “The Martian Boogie” until my sophomore year in college, when WTLX began broadcasting Dr. Demento. Warren was previously familiar with it, though, and made sure that James and I got to know it well enough to randomly insert “Eat’s!” and “And I freaked…’cause the guy sitting next to me…was a MARTIAN!” into casual conversation. It’s honestly a bit of a mystery how this gained enough traction to eventually climb to #59, but there are solid jams a-plenty going on.


#87: Ramones, “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”
There’s not much I could say about this classic that hasn’t been said multiple times. The Ramones never got especially close to a hit single, making the Hot 100 only three times (“Rockaway Beach” was the most successful, hitting #66 in early 78). “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” spent 13 weeks on the chart but clawed its way just six positions higher than this.


#85: Marshall Tucker Band, “Can’t You See”
Isn’t this the most played of their songs now? Seems like it should have gone higher than #75. I’m inserting the album version here, since I know that’s what you want to listen to today.


#78: 10cc, “Good Morning Judge”
Okay, I actually did hear this a couple of times back in the day (it’s the “so happy I don’t wanna be free” and possibly that wicked guitar riff that got lodged in my head). This third single from Deceptive Bends was a legitimately funny and solid track, with a decidedly ahead-of-its time video. Definitely deserving of better than a #69 peak. I’ll be humming it the rest of the week now.


#64: Celi Bee and the Buzzy Bunch, “Superman”
Herbie Mann re-tooled this song’s lyrics to leverage Superman‘s early 79 domination at the box office and in popular culture. On Mann’s single, the female vocalist is encouraging the Man of Steel to “do it to them,” presumably meaning capturing bad guys. Eighteen months earlier, though, Ms. Bee was perhaps dreaming on some disco hunk and not Christopher Reeve’s character, as the objective pronoun in her cooing of that phrase is first-person singular, not third-person plural (which is what I thought was sung in Mann’s version, to be honest–give me a break, I was fifteen in the spring of 79). The Buzzy Bunch included Bee’s husband (who was also the song’s writer).

“Superman” is on its way down from #41. While Bee and company had some Dance Chart success, this was their only flight on the Hot 100.


Songs Casey Never Played, 7/28/84

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.


Songs Casey Never Played, 6/18/83

Back today with songs from the 6/18/83 chart that couldn’t crack the Top 40. I’m finding 83 to be a total treasure trove of minor hits, maybe the single best year for this sort of post–I could have picked several others today. Saving them for another day!

#104: Roxy Music, “More Than This”
We kick things off with two simply amazing songs that somehow couldn’t escape the Bubbling Under section of the chart. I first wrote a little on “More Than This” almost three years ago, as part of my original FB series about a couple of mix tapes I’d recorded in 85. I’m willing to believe Ferry and company never did anything more fine than this. It’s in its final week on, having reached #102 on the previous chart.


#103: Marshall Crenshaw, “Whenever You’re on My Mind”
Probably my favorite of Crenshaw’s outside of “Someday, Someway” and maybe “Cynical Girl.” I saw this video on MTV a few times way back when; while Marshall is not displaying acting chops at all here, I still find the clip charming.  Field Day is a good album, though I’d rate it below Downtown, and well below Marshall Crenshaw.

It almost defies belief that this was the only week “Whenever You’re on My Mind” received pop chart love; somewhere I’d gotten it in my head that it had at least crawled into the 70s. I can’t find five songs out of the 110 listed here better than it, and there are a lot of really good tunes hanging around.


#83: Goanna, “Solid Rock”
I first heard “Solid Rock” about a decade ago when I bought Cool World, an awesome double-CD collection of Australian singles released between 76 and 86. It’s wicked good; I’d like to think I’d have been a big fan had I heard it in 83. It’s a precursor of sorts to Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning,” examining the arrival of the British from the perspective of the Aboriginal people. Reached #71.


#81: Thomas Dolby, “Europa and the Pirate Twins”
“She Blinded Me with Science” was a big, big favorite of mine in the spring of 83. I wasn’t alone in my dorm–there was a guy down the hall who blasted the extended version from his room well more than once. Dolby’s follow-up from The Golden Age of Wireless debuts on the Hot 100 this week, but the magic wasn’t there a second time, as it climbed only to #67. It’s a fine track, but I honestly don’t hear a big hit single.


#74: Sheriff, “When I’m with You”
Psych! Maybe I should have called this post “Songs Casey Never Played On AT40?” “When I’m with You” was on the front wave of singles that got re-released in the late 80s, and was among the first #1 songs of 89. By that time, Casey’s Top 40 had launched. Back in 83, though, this was already coming off its peak of #61. I don’t think I heard it then, but it’s not really my cup of tea, anyway.

Sheriff was long a thing of the past when this re-charted; Freddy Curci, the vocalist, and another former Sheriff soon were part of Alias, who scored a #2 hit in late 90 with “More Than Words Can Say”–I’m pleased to report I don’t remember that one at all.


#68: Thompson Twins, “Love on Your Side”
This got on the automated playlist of WLAP-FM for a couple of cycles right at the end of the school year. I don’t think it’s as good as “Lies,” so it’s not surprising to me it had already topped out at #45. Much bigger things were about to happen to Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie, and Joe Leeway.


#49: Sparks and Jane Wiedlin, “Cool Places”
The Mael Brothers had already been recording together for fifteen years at this point (and they still seem to be active, now both over 70). They had some commercial success after moving to Britain early on, but couldn’t do better than critical acclaim stateside (pretty sure I read about them from time to time in Stereo Review in the late 70s). The closest they got to tasting the Top 40 was this collaboration with Wiedlin. This is as high as it got.


#43: George Benson, “Inside Love (So Personal)”
Another one that got played for just a while on WLAP-FM; I sure recall that distinctive opening vocal/flute combo. Not sure I’d heard it since, I’m ashamed to say. I didn’t expect this to pull up short–it stalled here–I just assumed new Benson was still an automatic big hit. It was in some ways the beginning of the end, though: “Lady Love Me,” the second release from In Your Eyes, was his last time in the Top 40. (This is the second time Benson has been featured in SCNP this year.)


Songs Casey Never Played, 6/17/78

Over the next couple of days we’re checking in on some tunes that ultimately fell short of making American Top 40 on the charts at the times of this past weekend’s countdowns. First up, let’s take a deeper dive on 6/17/78.

#101: Linda Clifford, “Runaway Love”
A couple of the songs featured aren’t ones that I knew much about before getting ready to assemble this post. Bubbling Under at #101 for the third week in a row is one of them, a sweet, silky jam from R&B singer Linda Clifford. She was more than a bit unlucky, as the two biggest of her four Hot 100 hits both peaked at #41 (one was a disco-fied version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”). “Runaway Love” eventually made it to #76. However, Clifford did get played on AT40 once: her #54 cover of “If My Friends Could See Me Now” was a Long Distance Dedication on the 9/22/79 show. She turned 71 just last week.


#97: Samantha Sang, “You Keep Me Dancing”
Samantha’s U.S. chart magic ran dry as soon as Barry Gibb walked out of the studio. This follow-up to “Emotion” is in its last week on the chart, down from a #56 peak. I definitely heard it on the radio in 78; the 70s on 7 would do well to swap it in 10% of the time they want to play her big hit.  It’s not bad at all.


#89: REO Speedwagon, “Roll with the Changes”
You gotta wonder what kind of chart noise this and “Time for Me to Fly” would have made had they been originally released after Hi Infidelity. Might be the most rockin’ thing REO ever did, and certainly a certified member of the Great-AOR-Songs-of-the-Late 70s/Early 80s Club. Absolutely one of my fave pieces of theirs, it had topped out at #58 the week before.


#86: Andrew Gold, “Never Let Her Slip Away”
The follow-up to “Thank You for Being a Friend” is debuting this week. Reached only #67. I don’t know that I was previously familiar with this one, but it’s a real charmer. Rumor has it that J. D. Souther and Timothy B. Schmitt are doing backup.


#85: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “I Need to Know”
This one’s also in its first week on the chart. “Breakdown” had noodled its way to a one-week stop at #40 back in February; “I Need to Know” peaked one spot shy of that in the first week of August. Deserved a much better fate.


#74: Kansas, “Portrait (He Knew)”
Yet another follow-up to a hit single from a couple of months earlier. This prog tune received a little airplay in Cincinnati; only climbed ten spots higher than what we see here. TIL it was written about Einstein.


#47: Plastic Bertrand, “Ça plane pour moi”
Plastic Bertrand was the stage name for Roger Jouret, who hailed from Belgium. Wikipedia tells me, however, that Jouret is not actually the vocalist on “Ça plane pour moi” –instead, we’re hearing another Belgian, Lou Deprijck, the writer of this flatly-delivered marvel with a dash of “Fun, Fun, Fun” tossed in. Regardless, it’s another one of those songs I’d have loved to have announced by Casey, even for just one week (certainly I’d pick it over K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s tepid cover of “It’s the Same Old Song”). Alas, this was as high as it climbed.


Come back tomorrow if you so desire for some additional low-peaking fun from 83.

Songs Casey Never Played, 4/17/82

What wasn’t Casey playing six-plus weeks out from my HS graduation? Here are a half-dozen songs on the 4/17/82 Hot 100 that fell short of AT40 glory:

#87. Shooting Star, “Hollywood”
One of the central songs on my soundtrack from the summer of 81 is the Kansas City band Shooting Star’s “Last Chance.” I was listening to WEBN, the AOR station in Cincy, a-plenty then, and it seems like they played it at quarter-past the hour every four hours throughout July and August. It’s somewhat ostentatious, but I still love it; it was one of my earlier purchases on iTunes.

For some reason I heard the title song of their followup album Hang on to Your Life more than the single “Hollywood” the following year, but “Hollywood” is much better, close to as good as “Last Chance.” It’s on its way down after peaking at #70. Props to the UnCola for playing it on his show about a month ago. It reminded me how much I like it.


#80. Police, “Secret Journey”
The secondary tracks from Ghost in the Machine were making their appearances on the radio by this time. WEBN was featuring the mighty fine “Invisible Sun,” while “Secret Journey” was released as a US single and made WLAP-FM’s automated playlist. I can see why “Secret Journey” didn’t climb higher than #46, but it’s got quite the striking intro.


#63. Gordon Lightfoot, “Baby Step Back”
Here’s Lightfoot’s last trip to the Hot 100. It’d been four years since he’d hit #33 with the awesome “The Circle Is Small,” but he still had one more go at the pop charts in him. Alas, “Baby Step Back” would fall ten spots shy of getting on AT40. It has a decent amount of another favorite, “Sundown,” in it. You know, it’s never the wrong day to play some Gordon.


#62. O’Bryan, “The Gigolo”
I strongly suspect “The Gigolo” got played at my senior prom. I do know for certain that, at the time, some of the folks at my high school were digging on this funky thing by 20-year-old O’Bryan Burnette II. He wound up with several hits, including a couple of Top 10s, on the R&B chart (one of which was “The Gigolo”), but he never cracked the crossover code to the pop scene. This got to #57 and was the only time he made the Hot 100.


#53. Sugar Hill Gang, “Apache”
In terms of funk & rap, “Apache” was much more my scene in 82 than “The Gigolo.” This second-most well-known song from the Sugar Hill Gang is all kinds of problematic in a variety of ways, yet hearing it still brings back fond memories of hanging out with a couple of high school friends.  During my first year in college, there was a guy somewhere in the dorm who liked to blast it on the weekends, too. This was its peak position.


#50. Glass Moon, “On a Carousel”
Another one that’s as high as it got, and another I learned about from WLAP-FM. This Hollies cover is now one of the few songs to be featured twice here on the blog (it was Song of the Day on the occasion of the August 2017 solar eclipse) but I only recently discovered an actual video for “On a Carousel.” Glass Moon was from Raleigh, NC, and one of the commenters on this clip seems to indicate that some of the footage was shot at a park there (and that the carousel still exists). The production screams early 80s, with obvious superimposition of images (including a scene where the lead singer is made to appear going round-and-round when he’s really just sitting on a jungle gym). Nonetheless, the fashion, the hair style, the people–the feel of the piece–all conjure up for me the sensation of being 18 again, about to strike out and change my world. So I’m sticking it here another time and letting those moments seep back in for a bit.