Songs Casey Never Played, 1/16/82

Today it’s a few AC and AOR nuggets that were living on the Hot 100 as 1981 became 1982. Alas, they all fell short of making AT40, to varying degrees.

#92. The Kinks, “Better Things”
Second single from Give the People What They Want; it didn’t fare any better than “Destroyer,” which peaked at #85 in November. “Better Things” spent eight weeks on the chart (including the frozen 1/2/82), managing to climb all the way from #98 to this spot over that span. James bought the album during our college years, and I know many of the songs on it, but this one–the closer– slipped by me then.

#88. Rush, “Closer to the Heart”
Rush went through four cycles of four-studio-LPs-then-a-massive-live-album between 1974 and 1996. Exit…Stage Left came at the end of the second of those, between Moving Pictures and Signals. The studio version of “Closer to the Heart” was their first time on the singles charts, making #76 at the very end of 1977. The live take from E…SL fared a tiny bit better; it’s coming down from a #69 high. It’s plenty true to the original–I don’t mind it at all.

#67. John Hall Band, “Crazy (Keep on Falling)”
Hall was a founder of Orleans, but bailed after their first two hits for what turned out to be a marginally successful solo career. His new band made the charts twice, and this one came mighty close to the promised land, reaching #42 (he went back to Orleans in the mid-80s). Hall was elected to the U.S. House from New York in the Democratic wave of 2007, but was swept back out four years later.

#65. Steve Carlisle, “WKRP in Cincinnati”
Is it possible to have charted in the 1980s and still have virtually no internet evidence of your musical existence? Steve Carlisle is attempting to answer this question in the affirmative. Can’t find any biographical data on Allmusic, though Discogs does have a track listing for one LP. I see a couple of promo singles available via Amazon, too. He appears to have run with the Jerry Buckner/Gary Garcia crowd, even singing backup on “Pac Man Fever.”

On the other hand, we all remember his voice. Even though WKRP in Cincinnati debuted in 1978, its opening theme didn’t chart until now. This is as high as it would climb.

#63. The Carpenters, “Those Good Old Dreams”
Karen and Richard’s Top 40 career turns out to have ended the previous summer with “Touch Me When We’re Dancing,” though they tried three more times to get another hit from Made in America. “Those Good Old Dreams” was the third single released; it got stuck in this spot. I don’t remember hearing it back in high school, but it’s a delight (and the family pix in the video are neat).

#53. Henry Paul Band, “Keeping Our Love Alive”
Henry Paul, like John Hall, had left a band whose name was filed under ‘O’ in record stores and who had their first hit in 1975 (the Outlaws). “Keeping Our Love Alive” was the HPB’s only trip to the Hot 100–it topped out at the halfway point–but they Bubbled Under three other times. Paul also eventually returned to his former bandmates. I must have been starting to tune in more regularly to WLAP-FM in Lexington around this time–I know I heard this a few times as part of their automated playlist.

Songs Casey Never Played, 12/6/86

In December of 86, I was just about to muddle through a grad school finals week for the first time. Checking out the Hot 100 posted at Record Service in Champaign was very much an every week thing for me that fall–what did I see in the bottom half of the chart this time?

91. KBC Band, “It’s Not You, It’s Not Me”
We all like to dunk on Starship, and for good reason: they were the final devolution of a one-time pretty important and pretty good band. They gave Diane Warren her first #1 hit, for heaven’s sake! (Never mind that you might catch me singing along to “We Built This City” every once in a while…)

Anyway, after Paul Kantner departed the scene (taking ‘Jefferson’ with him), he hooked back up with fellow former Airplaners Marty Balin and Jack Casady to record one album. I remember seeing the resulting LP at Record Service and hearing the anthemic “It’s Not You, It’s Not Me” a few times on WPGU. It’s hardly a world-beater, but it’s at least two orders of magnitude better than the almost contemporaneous “Nothing’s Going To Stop Us Now.” Would only get two spots higher.

89. Grace Jones, “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You)”
Model, actress, singer–Jones had a long career with varying degrees of success in these fields. I confess I’m more familiar with “Demolition Man” from binge sessions of MTV in the Transy student center. “I’m Not Perfect” is the third and final time Jones hit the Hot 100 (the other two were back in 77). It would peak at #69 in a few weeks.

73. Debbie Harry, “French Kissin”
The second week in a row here at the blog with an appearance from Harry, whose solo career just never got on track (though who could ever un-see the cover of Koo Koo?) This sorta catchy lead single from Rockbird would climb to #57.

69. Paul Young, “Some People”
Just a year earlier, Young had the world on a string, coming off a series of Top 10 hits in the UK and the #1 “Everytime You Go Away” here in the States. A weak chorus in an otherwise decent, shuffling tune doomed “Some People,” the lead single from his next album Between Two Fires. It would get just four positions higher, and seemed to derail Young’s career–the big hits were much harder to come by for him on both sides of the pond after this.

68. Eurythmics, “Thorn in My Side”
Speaking of acts running out of steam… This follow-up to “Missionary Man” would get no higher, the biggest injustice we’re encountering today. “Thorn in My Side” made #5 in the UK, but it was Annie and Dave’s last Top 10 hit there; folks were just moving on, apparently.

64. The Police, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86”
Even though the boys in the Police had parted ways following the Synchronicity tour, they got back together briefly a couple years later to update one of their earlier hits for a GH album. It was not so easy to be the teacher’s pet a second time, though, as ’86 is already coming down off a #46 high. I think this Godley/Creme vid could have been shot without Andy, Stew, or Gordon having to spin ’round the set at the same time.

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.

YesTicket

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.)