Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers. Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.
After years of playing in various bands in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area, in 1982, brothers G.P. and Chris Partland (from a small town north of Toronto) entered a radio contest showcasing their musical talents, and it caught the ears of Capitol Records. They formed in 1983 as a Pop Rock duo, and in 1986, their first album, ELECTRIC HONEY, was released.
From ELECTRIC HONEY was their debut single, “Soul City.” On this date (May 2) in 1987, it was the highest-debuting song of the week on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, coming in at No. 77. Within 6 weeks, it debuted on the Top 40 of the Hot 100, and spent a quick week at No. 27 in late June 1987. The great harmonies the brothers shared on “Soul City” also brought the song in to the Top 30 in Canada, and they were nominated in 1987 for a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) for Most Promising Group.
The brothers went on to tour with The Moody Blues and The Beach Boys, appeared on shows like AMERICAN BANDSTAND and THE LATE SHOW WITH ARSENIO HALL, and “Soul City” would spend a few months on the Hot 100, and that was the only time The Partland Brothers would grace the American singles chart (same for the Canadian singles chart).
Undeterred by their short-lived chart success, the brothers kept on releasing albums (five total, with the latest being 2011’s EVERY NOW…AND AGAIN), and they continue to tour, on their own and backing Arkansas Rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins, where he found much success in Ontario over the years, and was made an Honourary Officer of the Order of Canada a few years ago.
Though I never really fully got into the music of The Partland Brothers, I never forgot this song, and I do enjoy taking that laid-back trip to “Soul City” now and again, a 4-minute anthem about going out, having a good time and not coming back “til the money’s all gone…”