Billboard #1s for the Week Ending August 2, 1986

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Glory of Love Peter Cetera 1
R & B Closer Than Close Jean Carne 1
Country Nobody In His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her George Strait 1
Adult Contemporary Glory of Love Peter Cetera 3
Rock Higher Love Steve Winwood 3
Album Top Gun Soundtrack 2

doctor_the_medics-spirit_in_the_skyThis week sees an unusual song begin a brief chart return. Norman Greenbaum — a Jewish  psychedelic rocker from Massachusetts — heard Porter Wagoner sing on TV and decided to write a gospel song. While not especially religious, Greenbaum crafted a smart modern spiritual, infusing it with the energy from his rock and jug band roots. The result, Spirit In the Sky, was a smash, peaking at #3 in 1970 and appearing on many best-singles lists over the years. It was also his only Top 40 appearance, followed by two minor hits before his chart career ended.

In 1986, British Glam Rock band Doctor and the Medics recorded a cover of the song. (Curiously, Greenbaum’s first chart appearance was with Doctor West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band…) Their crunchier interpretation entered the Hot 100 at #95 this week. It failed to match the success of the original, peaking at #69 but it topped the UK charts. The Medics never charted in the States again, making this song nearly a double One Hit Wonder.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending July 19, 1986

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Invisible Touch Genesis 1
R & B Rumors Timex Social Club 1
Country Until I Met You Judy Rodman 1
Adult Contemporary Glory of Love Peter Cetera 1
Rock Higher Love Steve Winwood 1
Album The Winner In You Patti LaBelle 1

TimexRumorsThis week sees a One Hit Wonder’s strong chart presence. Timex Social Club began as the Timex Crew, fronted by Marcus Thompson. They were early pioneers of the New Jack Swing sound. After four years and a couple of lineup changes, they recorded their lone album, Vicious Rumors.

This week the lead single, Rumors, topped the R&B and Dance charts. With its distinctive old school hip-hop sound and smart lyrics, it was a big hit, spending two and three weeks at the top respectively. The track moved from #33 to #28 on the Hot 100, on its way to a peak at #8.

Timex Social Club disbanded while their hit was charting; the album spawned two more R&B Top 20s but saw no action on any other charts. Producer Jay King quickly rebounded, forming Club Nouveau. That group capitalized on the New Jack Swing explosion, hitting #1 on the Hot 100 with a cover of Bill Withers’ Lean On Me.

Song of the Day, June 29: Two Lost Little Guilty Pleasures

QFeelZotAlbumWe all have them: those songs that are strangely precious to us but that nobody else seems to know. They may be innovative, quirky, brilliant, silly,  or some combination of these and more. They stick with us, popping into our heads at the strangest moments, filled with nostalgia, uniquely our own. Here are two of mine, from the heart of my formative musical years in the 80s.

First up: giddy choreography for astronauts! Bassist and singer Martin Page hooked up with guitarist Brian Fairweather in 1981. They cooked up a band called Q-Feel (really!), adding a drummer and a keyboard player. Their sound was fun, slightly bland, post-New Wave dance music. They released one eponymous album in 1982, then dissolved. Page went on to a reasonably successful solo career (In the House of Stone and Light [#14, 1995]) and had some success as a songwriter, co-penning two #1 hits: These Dreams by Heart and We Built This City by Starship.

Q-Feel’s lone hit was Dancing In Heaven, improbably subtitled Orbital Be-Bop. It’s silly, infectious fun. It barely scraped onto the charts, but it sticks in my mind and my heart to this day.

How do you follow that? I picked a radioactive Easter Island head! Keyboard player and singer Randy Wayne assembled the band Zot in 1985. It was largely his own project — he wrote and sung all the tracks with capable, if unremarkable, support from his bandmates. (I’ve always suspected the band was named after comics scholar and creator Scott McCloud’s first major project, but I can’t prove it.) The group’s debut was called Uranium after the opening track, renamed simply Zot for a mysterious re-release the same year. Zot faded quickly; Wayne went on to tour with Rod Stewart and co-wrote one of his minor hits in the late 80s.

The best track is the anxious romantic request Little Bit Longer. I saw the video once, bought the album, and never encountered them anywhere but my own collection after that. Any time anyone utters the title phrase, I find myself humming the chorus for hours, smiling just a little.

I hope you enjoy these lost little gems. What are yours?

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending June 28, 1986

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 On My Own Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald 3
R & B There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) Billy Ocean 1
Country Living In the Promiseland Willie Nelson 1
Adult Contemporary No One Is to Blame Howard Jones 1
Rock Invisible Touch Genesis 3
Album Whitney Houston Whitney Houston 14

DoubleCaptainThis week sees Switzerland chart one of its few US hits. Double (pronounced with an accent over the “e”) was the duo of Kurt Maloo and Felix Haug. Together with a variety of studio musicians, they recorded light jazz-pop in the vein of Sade. Their second album, Blue, featured their biggest hit.

This week the charming ballad The Captain of Her Heart debuted at #95. It eased up the charts, peaking at #16 in September. Double recorded one more album, but never hit the US charts again, becoming a rare true One Hit Wonder. They were also the first Swiss act to break into the Top 40 and remain the highest charting act from that country on the Hot 100.

 

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending May 17, 1986

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Greatest Love of All Whitney Houston 1
R & B On My Own Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald 1
Country Ain’t Misbehavin’ Hank Williams, Jr. 1
Adult Contemporary Greatest Love of All Whitney Houston 4
Rock Like A Rock Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band 1
Album Whitney Houston Whitney Houston 8

BoysCowboyThis week sees a one hit wonder bring their deadpan novelty hit into the Top 40. Nick Richards purchased Maison Rouge Studio in London and assembled some musicians to record there. One of their early efforts was the tongue-in-cheek I Wanna Be A Cowboy, released as Boys Don’t Cry.

The track entered the Hot 100 on April 5, 1986. In this, its seventh week, it moves from #42 to #33. Six weeks later it peaked at #12. Boys Don’t Cry released two albums quickly, trying to capitalize on the success, but the urgent synth-rock of the other tracks confused listeners and never caught on. Richards continues to dabble in music, but his cowboy ride remains his only US hit.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending May 10, 1986

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 West End Girls Pet Shop Boys 1
R & B I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love Stephanie Mills 2
Country Grandpa (Tell Me About the Good Old Days) The Judds 1
Adult Contemporary Greatest Love of All Whitney Houston 3
Rock Stick Around Julian Lennon 3
Album 5150 Van Halen 3

GTRHeartRulesThis week sees a curious supergroup enter the charts. Steve Howe and Steve Hackett were lead guitarists in two major progressive rock bands, Yes and Genesis respectively. Neither Steve was in their bands when they began having pop chart success, although Howe was part of the Top 10 group Asia. When that group folded, Howe asked Hackett if he’d be interested in working together. They formed GTR (short for guitar), adding a rhythm section and singer Max Bacon.

This week they enter the Hot 100 with When the Heart Rules the Mind, debuting at #74. The song surged up the charts, peaking at #14 in mid-July. GTR had a shorter life than Asia, collapsing after one album and one minor second single. Hackett maintains a prolific solo career, while Howe has moved in and out of Yes and various Asia incarnations over the years.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending May 3, 1986

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Addicted to Love Robert Palmer 1
R & B I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love Stephanie Mills 1
Country Once In A Blue Moon Earl Thomas Conley 1
Adult Contemporary Greatest Love of All Whitney Houston 2
Rock Stick Around Julian Lennon 2
Album 5150 Van Halen 2

BlowMonkeysDiggingThis week sees a British blue-eyed soul band debut their lone US Hot 100 hit. The Blow Monkeys formed in 1981 and built up a solid reputation in the UK. Their second album, Animal Magic, featured their breakthrough hit, Digging Your Scene. It entered the Hot 100 at #89 this week, eventually easing up to a #14 peak in a respectable 19-week run. The song did even better on the Dance Charts, making it to #7.

Most listeners — enjoying the smooth, jazz-pop feel of the track — missed the point. Writer and singer Dr. Robert wrote the song out of frustration. Although he is straight, he spent a lot of time in gay clubs with friends and was angry at the AIDS-fueled backlash against the gay community in London. The lyrics are a thoughtful meditation on both the disease and the discrimination it fueled.

The Blow Monkeys never hit the US charts again, but racked up a decent run of singles at home before disbanding in 1990. Dr. Robert brought the group back together in 2007, and they continue to record, perform, and chart in the UK.

Song of the Day, April 14: The Hits of Tony Burrows

TBurrowsTony Burrows was born in Exeter, Devon, England on April 14, 1942. As he celebrates his 74th birthday, let’s celebrate his unusual place in chart history. In his late teens he sang with the Kestrels, a group that included future hit songwriters Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook. He bounced through a number of bands while becoming known as a talented session singer. As the Bubblegum pop movement created chart space for an array of one-off studio-only groups, Burrows became the voice of a blast of songs in 1970. In the spring and summer of that year, he provided lead vocals for four Top 20 songs by four different groups; three of those songs were on the chart at the same time. Four years later, he had his biggest US hit with a fifth band. No other singer has charted so many Top 40 hits with so many groups. Let’s take a look!

  • Edison Lighthouse charted with Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Grows), written by hitmaker Tony Macaulay with Barry Mason. It was Burrows’ first big success, entering the chart on Feb. 21, 1970 and peaking at #5 for three weeks starting March 28. The Lighthouse darkened after one more minor hit a year later.
  • White Plains hit with My Baby Loves Lovin’, written by Burrows’ buddies, Rogers Greenaway and Cook. It entered the Hot 100 at #91 on April 18, 1970 and spent one week at #13 [June 27]. This band also managed one more tiny hit, a couple of months after their baby left the scene.
  • The Brotherhood of Man debuted the same week with United We Stand, written by Tony Hiller and Pete Simons. This was a vocal trio featuring Burrows, Johnny Goodison, and Sunny Leslie. Their hit also went to #13, one week after White Plains. This was Burrows’ longest-charting US concern, with two more minor hits. The Brotherhood continued without him, charting one more time in 1976 with Save Your Kisses For Me [#27].
  • Burrows recorded the (frankly obnoxious) novelty song Gimme Dat Ding with Roger Greenaway, released under the name the Pipkins. It entered the chart on May 28, 1970, the week Edison Lighthouse departed, and made it all the way to #9 on July 18. This duo was a true one-hit wonder.
  • Four years later, Burrows was part of a long-term band, the First Class. They debuted on July 20, 1974 with Beach Baby, written by Gillian and John Shakespeare, which went to #4 on October 5. The group didn’t hit the Top 40 again, but they managed some mid-chart singles.

BurrowSongs

Despite all this success, his only single under his own name stiffed. Melanie Makes Me Smile (also by Macaulay and Mason) only made it to #87 in a four-week run in June 1970. It was, however on the chart at the same time as White Plains, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Pipkins, giving Burrows four Hot 100 hits under four names at the same time. The three bigger hits were all in the Top 20 at the same time; the week of July 4, 1970, they clustered at #12, #13, and #15.

Tony Burrows’ music was never intended to change the world, but his easygoing vocals fit nicely into the early 70s Hot 100 and he gave us a handful of fun pop tunes. Most listeners never knew how much he ruled the airwaves, however briefly.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending March 29, 1986

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Rock Me Amadeus Falco 1
R & B What Have You Done For Me Lately Janet Jackson 2
Country Don’t Underestimate My Love For You Lee Greenwood 1
Adult Contemporary These Dreams Heart 3
Rock Addicted to Love Robert Palmer 2
Album Whitney Houston Whitney Houston 4

Opus-Live_is_lifeThis week sees Austria have its best moment on the US charts. Many European acts have hit the Hot 100: the United Kingdom has virtually co-owned the chart many times, and the Swedish, Germans, Spanish, and Dutch have all had  reasonable success. Austria has barely had a presence. This week, however, the biggest Austrian hit — Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus — logs its first of three weeks at #1.

At the same time, a long-running Austrian band hit their peak. Opus formed in 1973 and had solid success in Europe. This week their Live Is Life peaked at #32 in its 10th chart week. It’s a charming singalong recorded live at a concert in Oberwart in 1984. Opus never charted in the US again, becoming a true One Hit Wonder, but they continue to record and perform more than 40 years after they got started.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending December 28, 1985

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Say You, Say Me Lionel Richie 2
R & B Don’t Say No Tonight Eugene Wilde 2
Country Have Mercy The Judds 1
Adult Contemporary Say You, Say Me Lionel Richie 4
Rock Silent Running Mike + the Mechanics 1
Album Miami Vice Soundtrack 8

SlyFoxLetsGoThis week sees a near One Hit Wonder enter the Hot 100. Sly Fox was a duo formed in early 1985: funk musician Gary “Mudbone” Cooper — who had worked with George Clinton and Bootsy Collins — and singer Michael Camacho. The pair recorded a funky album of dance tunes for Capitol.

The title track of Let’s Go All the Way entered the Hot 100 at #85 this week. It eased up the chart, peaking at #7 in an impressive six-month run. Two follow-up singles stiffed, and the duo dissolved. Both men continue to work in the music industry.

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