song of the day – “Ain’t Nobody” | RUFUS & CHAKA KHAN | 1983.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

I’ve known one Rufus in my lifetime, and that was a sweet dog (a black Lab?) who was the face at one of my early hangouts when I first moved to Portland, Maine in 1994 – Java Joe’s.  Like myself, Java Joe’s has long been removed from Maine’s largest city, though I do love to visit the Forest City when I can.

When I was first introduced to Rufus & Chaka Khan, it wasn’t because of their first (and biggest) Top 40 hit, 1974’s “Tell Me Something Good” (written by Stevie Wonder), it was because of their last  Top 40 hit – “Ain’t Nobody.”

For the longest time – and this still makes me laugh – I always thought Rufus & Chaka Khan were a married couple.  I didn’t know until much later that Rufus was actually a Funk band out of Chicago, and Chaka Khan was their lead singer. 

The band had formed in 1968, but by 1978, tensions were pretty high between the members of Rufus and their lead singer, who was becoming increasingly popular.  In 1983, they released one final album together – a (mostly) live double-album (and ultimate documentary) called STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY. 

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There were four new studio tracks (led by Chaka Khan) included with the live set, and two of those were released as singles.  The first single released was “Ain’t Nobody.”  At the same time, a producer for a new film, BREAKIN’ (a film based around the popular breakdance craze), had heard the song and eventually put the song in the film and on the soundtrack.

breakin

Well, talk about going out on top.  After years of declining record sales and issues between the band and Chaka Khan, “Ain’t Nobody” turned out to be a great hit, and was released shortly after STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY hit the record stores (as they used to say back in the day). 

“Ain’t Nobody” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 on the first day of October 1983, way down at No. 91 (and there were three more debut songs under that!).  For the song’s first six chart weeks, this Funk gem steadily rose up the Hot 100, and in its seventh chart week, blasted onto the Top 40, moving from 43-29.  It was already Rufus & Chaka Khan’s highest-charting single since 1975’s Top 5 hit, “Sweet Thing.”

In a weird chart quirk, “Ain’t Nobody” stayed at No. 29 the following week, but starting moving back up the week after.  In December 1983, it spent three weeks at its peak position of No. 22 and departed the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-February 1984 after 19 weeks.

ain't nobody

Over on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart, “Ain’t Nobody” became the band’s fifth and final No. 1 song, and though it only spent a week at No. 1 there, it was that chart’s sixth-biggest song of 1983.  On BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, it reached No. 6.

Around the globe, “Ain’t Nobody” was a somebody in the U.K., where it reached No. 8, and a No. 36 chart peak in the Netherlands.  A 1989 remix of “Ain’t Nobody” took the song to new heights around the globe, reaching No. 6 in the U.K., No. 8 in Ireland, No. 9 in Germany, and as part of the entire LIFE IS A DANCE: THE REMIX PROJECT album, it reached No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

life is a dance

NERDY FUN FACT: David “Hawk” Wolinski, who wrote “Ain’t Nobody,” had threatened to give the song to Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones (who really wanted the song) if the band’s label, Warner Bros., didn’t release it as the first single. 

I’ll never understand why these recording acts always had to fight with the record labels for what they believed in!  I’d like to think this kind of shite still doesn’t happen, but at the very least, it’s a whole different ball game now, and more people than evah are releasing their own music, and on their own terms, which I think is fan-fucking-tastic!

After winning a Grammy Award for “Ain’t Nobody” in 1984, Chaka Khan and Rufus went their separate ways, but the legacy of “Ain’t Nobody” lives on 33 years later.  It’s been covered an incredible amount of times, including covers by the likes of George Michael (on his 1991 “Cover To Cover” tour), Amii Stewart, Klymaxx, LL Cool J (for the funny 1996 film, BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA), Peabo Bryson, KT Tunstall and Mary J. Blige. 

ll cool j

In 2015, a German music producer and DJ by the name of Felix Jaehn released a cover, featuring young British vocalist by the name of Jasmine Thompson, and the song was called “Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better).”  And throughout the globe outside of North America, people did love it better than the original.  It reached No. 1 in at least eight countries, and the Top 10 in at least another 12. 

My favorite cover is actually part of a “pseudo mashup” by U.K. producer and remixer Richard X, with vocals by the English-Irish Pop group, Liberty X.  They used a sample of The Human League’s “Being Boiled” against a cover of “Ain’t Nobody,” and called it, appropriately enough, “Being Nobody.”  It was (and still is) brilliant, and was a Top 10 hit in the U.K. and Ireland in 2003.

being nobody

A couple of years before that, when my STUCK IN THE 80s radio show on WMPG-FM was just five years old, I did a countdown of the BEST 100 SONGS OF THE 80s, getting feedback from listeners, station volunteers and folks in the College Music industry (it was also my first year of 10 as WMPG Music Director).  “Ain’t Nobody” came in at No. 20 and that ranking surprised me the most out of any other on the list. 

Over time, I realized that ranking shouldn’t surprise me.  It’s an incredible song, and though it came at the end of a creative union between a well-respected Funk band and one of the best R&B and Dance singers ever, ain’t nobody gonna tell me that “Ain’t Nobody” doesn’t mean anything in the history of Funk and Dance and R&B and Pop.  Because it does.

“And now we’re flyin’ through the stars / I hope this night will last forever…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M26WD4CidnM

rufus n chaka

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song of the day – “Lies” | THOMPSON TWINS | 1983.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

I have to say, as a self-proclaimed singles chart nerd, researching for each blog post in this tribute to Casey Kasem has been pretty awesome.  Casey would often say, “As the numbers get smaller, the hits get bigger!”  That may also true with how many songs peak at each position.  For the songs that reached No. 30 between 1979 and 1989, there were over 40. 

What I found interesting (to me, anyway) is that, out of these 40+ songs that peaked at No. 30 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, there were only two (real) one-hit wonders.  Also, I’ve already highlighted five No. 30 hits – (real) one-hit wonder Frankie Smith and “Double Dutch Bus,” “The One Thing” by INXS, “The Prisoner” by Howard Jones, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and “Space Age Love Song” by A Flock Of Seagulls (one of my favorite blog pieces so far; from September 2016).

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Taken at the Seawall Picnic Area (part of Acadia National Park) on 9.12.2016, a photo I took of a lone seagull (no flocks), and included with my blog post that day for “Space Age Love Song,” a No. 30 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for A Flock Of Seagulls.

Another interesting quirk is that there are a lot of big-name artists who had No. 30 hits, but the hits themselves have been largely forgotten, including songs by The Bangles (“Be With You,” 1989), Tina Turner (“Two People,” 1987), Kool & The Gang (“Let’s Go Dancin’,” 1983), and two each by Daryl Hall & John Oates (“How Does It Feel To Be Back,” 1980, and “Possession Obsession,” 1985) and Toto (“Make Believe,” 1982, and “Stranger In Town,” 1984).

walk on by

Yet another interesting fact is how there were so many memorable hits from other decades that stopped at No. 30 (like Iron Butterfly’s classic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever,” the brilliant “Walk On By” by Isaac Hayes, “Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffet, “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “She Talks To Angels” by The Black Crowes, “Firestarter” by Prodigy, R.E.M.’s wonderful “Man On The Moon,” the amazing “Love Is The Drug” by Roxy Music, and one of THE BEST pieces of music for all time, “Give It To Me” by The J. Geils Band), and yet, with the songs that peaked at No. 30 in the 80s, for whatever reason, most of those songs have been forgotten.

give it to me

Thankfully, though, there were a handful of cool ones, too.  There’s the aforementioned ones I’ve already posted on the blog, but then there’s “Dance Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’Arby, “Love Will Find A Way” by Yes, The Human League’s “Mirror Man,” and “Lies,” the first big American hit by a New Wave / Synthpop trio who weren’t at all related – Sheffield, England’s Thompson Twins.

lies

The trio of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway made up the Thompson Twins in 1982, a time when MTV was so popular, it was affecting what was bought in stores and what was played on the radio, and a time when New Wave was becoming more prominent in mainstream music.  1982 was also the start of the Second British Invasion on the U.S. singles chart, which lasted through 1986.  Thompson Twins were a big part of that. 

By 1982, Tom, Alannah and Joe already had one No. 1 song to their credit here in America – “In The Name Of Love,” which spent five weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart in May and June 1982.

quick step

In October 1982, they released “Lies,” the first single from their upcoming third album, QUICK STEP AND SIDE KICK.  The band was still looking for their audience in their U.K. homeland, and it stopped at No. 67 on the U.K. singles chart there. 

“Lies” would find an audience here in America a few months later, and it debuted at No. 80 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late January 1983, a couple of weeks after it spent two weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart (with its B-side, “Beach Culture”).

As “Lies” made its climb up the Hot 100, the song’s parent album was released in February 1983, and with the Twins being signed to Arista Records, that meant, well, much like fellow Brits (The) Icicle Works in 1984, a name change for the album in the U.S. and Canada.  So, the name of the album was shortened to just SIDE KICKS.

side kicks

A month after the album’s release, “Lies” found its way to the Top 40.  By the end of March 1983, it reached No. 30, but got stuck there for three weeks, and was gone from the Top 40 after that.  It stayed on the Hot 100 for a respectable total of about four months.  “Lies” also reached No. 6 in New Zealand and the Top 30 in Australia and Canada.

Though the “Lies” follow-up single, “Love On Your Side” would fail to reach the Top 40 here in the U.S. (it stopped at No. 45 in early June 1983), Thompson Twins would finally find their U.K. audience, and that song was their first of five Top 10 hits, reaching No. 9.  QUICK STEP AND SIDE KICK was also certified Platinum there and reached No. 2 on the U.K. album chart.t twins logo

I loved Thompson Twins from the start.  I reserved any quick-stepping and side-kicking for at-home dancing, but I was a fan as soon as I heard “Lies.”  Not only was I hooked by the music, but I really enjoyed Tom Bailey’s style of singing.  Don’t know if there’s a particular name for it, I just enjoyed it.  All these years later, I would put his vocal style in the same high class as Howard Jones and Cy Curnin of The Fixx.  They also had one of the coolest band logos.

It was pretty cool seeing them on the TV performing with Madonna at Live Aid.  What I didn’t know was that it was the beginning of the end for the trio I knew and loved as Thompson Twins. 

madonna n tom live aid

Madonna and Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey, Live Aid, Philadelphia, July 13, 1985.

After Joe Leeway left the Twins in 1986, Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie kept the band and the name going until 1993, when they changed it to Babble, reflecting a change in musical direction from New Wave to “dub-influenced chill-out” (mixing Electronica, World Beat, Alt-Dance and Club styles).

babble ether

Babble’s second and final album, 1996’s ETHER.

As Babble, Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie (who were married at the time and living in New Zealand) released a couple of albums before calling it quits in 1996.  Alannah Currie retired from music, and they were divorced in 2003 (though they remain friends). 

Tom Bailey now lives in London with his second wife, he took part in the 2014 version of the Retro Futura Tour as “Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey” and earlier this year on “The ‘80s Cruise,” an annual event of which I hope to attend at some point.  Under the moniker of “Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey,” he released a single last year called “Come So Far,” and has another one scheduled for release this year.

tom bailey today

Tom Bailey today.

When I think of Thompson Twins, the first songs that come to mind are “Lay Your Hands On Me,” “Hold Me Now,” “If You Were Here” (from SIXTEEN CANDLES), “Sugar Daddy,” “In The Name Of Love” (both the 1982 and 1988 versions), their kick-ass cover of The Beatles’ “Revolution,” “Doctor! Doctor!” and “Love On Your Side,” but it was all “Lies” that made me fall in love with those three non-related kids back in 1982, who were, at one time, Twins…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVHwD58Ne3Y

t twins 2

song of the day – “Telephone Operator” | PETE SHELLEY | 1982.

Today, English singer / songwriter / guitarist Pete Shelley turns 61 – Happy Birthday!  Pete is prolly best known for his five-year stint with the Greater Manchester, England Punk Rock band, Buzzcocks, which he co-formed with Howard Devoto in 1976 (Howard would leave the band a year later).  Buzzcocks released three studio albums in 1978 and 1979, and the SINGLES GOING STEADY compilation album (released in 1979 on I.R.S. Records) was the first album by the band released in North America. 

singles going steady

From the amazing SINGLES GOING STEADY collection and their second studio album, LOVE BITES, was THE song Pete and Buzzzcocks will be forever known for – “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).”   The 1978 gem was a No. 12 hit on the U.K. singles chart and a No. 14 hit in Ireland, and has been immortalized for nearly 40 years on college and community radio, through numerous appearances in films and in TV shows like SCRUBS, and because of an even bigger 1986 / 1987 cover version by Fine Young Cannibals.

ever fallen in love

Pete Shelley is also prolly best-known for his first solo hit, 1981’s controversial “Homosapien,” a No. 4 hit in Australia and a No. 14 hit on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  The BBC banned the song for its “explicit reference to gay sex” from the lyrics “homo superior / in my interior.”  Regardless of being banned by the BBC, “Homosapien” still found its way to dance clubs around the globe.

homosapien

I’m sure at some point, I’ll highlight both of those memorable gems on the blog, but the song by the birthday boy on my mind today was “Telephone Operator” (from his 1983 solo studio album, XL1), co-produced by Pete Shelley and the late Martin Rushent, who also produced albums for Buzzcocks, Human League, Altered Images, The Go-Go’s, The Stranglers among many others.

XL1

Pete Shelley met Howard Devoto in 1975 at the then-Bolton Institute of Technology (now the University of Bolton), and, in a groundbreaking and unusual move prolly not unrelated to his time spent at BIT, the original release of Pete’s XL1 album included a computer program for the ZX Spectrum computer, and featured graphics and lyrics that displayed in time with the music, which is commonplace with media players today, but in 1982 was pretty rare.

ZX Spectrum computer

“Telephone Operator” was the first of two singles released from XL1, and it ended up being Pete’s biggest U.K. hit, reaching a should’ve-been-higher No. 66 peak.  It fared better on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, where it reached No. 22.

telephone operator

After releasing his last studio album, HEAVEN AND THE SEA, in 1986, Pete Shelley re-formed Buzzcocks, and since 1989, the band has released six studio albums (including 2014’s THE WAY), four live albums, and 10 compilations (including my favorite, the brilliant 25-track 1991 comp, OPERATORS MANUAL: BUZZCOCKS BEST).

operators manual

In 2016, Pete and Buzzcocks celebrated their 40 years together with a tour called Buzzcocks 40.  On May 29, 2017, they will play at the 18th Annual Punk Rock and Bowling Music Festival in Las Vegas, and headline a show in Denver on June 2nd.  Wish I could be there.

punk rock fest

I think another reason I wanted to share the awesome “Telephone Operator” today is because it tends to get overshadowed by the also awesome “Homosapien” and “Ever Fallen In Love.”  For me, though, “Telephone Operator” is three minutes and 15 seconds of pure, edgy New Wave / Dance perfection.  Go ahead, put the phone down and prove me wrong.  I double dog dare ya.

“Telephone Operator / You’re my aural stimulator…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DGvjdZGyrI

pete shelley 83

(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Do It Again (Medley With Billie Jean)” | CLUB HOUSE | 1983.

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.

On Sunday, 1.29.2017, my awesome and talented WMPG radio neighbor, DJ SHAXX, and I will be teaming up for a second installment in celebrating the 12-inch single, extended remixes and even mash-ups on a show that we are calling 12inchTHROWDOWN Redux!

12inch-throwdown-1-29-17

With outlets like You Tube, mash-ups are becoming more commonplace than ever before.  Mash-up covers are a bit more rare but they do exist.  It’s been done on the TV show GLEE many times (their Season 3 mash-up cover of Adele’s “Rumour Has It” and “Someone Like You” has sold almost 500,000 digital copies and charted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 higher than Adele’s original version of “Rumour Has It”).

glee-rumour

For their 2011 album, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, the kick-ass Experimental Music band out of Columbus, Ohio, The Evolution Control Committee, completely reworked Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” by brilliantly constructing it solely using Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” and called the mash-up cover “Fockit. 

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In 2003, British musician and producer Richard X teamed up with the English / Irish Pop band, Liberty X, on a genius cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s 1983 gem, “Ain’t Nobody,” backed with the instrumental music of Human League’s 1978 / 1982 Synthpop classic, “Being Boiled.”  The mash-up cover “Being Nobody” actually ended up “being” a Top 10 hit in both the U.K. and Ireland. 

being-nobody

Rewinding back to 1983, the year of Michael Jackson, mash-up covers were almost unheard of (not counting 1981’s “Medley” by Stars On 45 or 1982’s “Hooked On Classics” by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra).  But, the Italian Dance group Club House pulled it off, reworking the beat of Michael Jackson’s huge No. 1 hit, “Billie Jean” (from earlier that year), into the lyrics of Steely Dan’s Top 10 hit from 1972, “Do It Again.” 

club-house

The only picture I could find of Club House.

 

The imaginative “Do It Again (Medley With Billie Jean)” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 89 in late August 1983, while Michael Jackson himself was climbing up the chart with THRILLER’s fifth single, “Human Nature,” and moving down the Hot 100 with THRILLER’s fourth single, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”

A few weeks later, “Do It Again / Billie Jean” spent a week at its peak position of No. 75, and was gone from the Hot 100 after just five weeks.  Though Club House would continue to release singles through 1997 (their 1990 hit, “Deep In My Heart,” spent a week at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart), the band would never grace the Hot 100 again.

“Do It Again / Billie Jean” was, however, a popular hit in Europe, reaching the Top 10 in Belgium, Holland and Ireland, and it peaked at a respectable No. 11 on the U.K. singles chart.  It was also a Top 40 hit in Poland and New Zealand.

slingshotSometime after Club House’s mash-up cover was released, the short-lived Detroit Dance band, Slingshot, took Club House’s medley (matching it beat-for-beat), and the exact same week in August 1983 in which Club House debuted on the Hot 100 with their “Do It Again (Medley With Billie Jean),” Slingshot reached No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart with their version.  All these years later, I can’t tell the two versions apart. 

But, it was Club House’s version of “Do It Again (Medley With Billie Jean)” that was released first, and that’s the version which has stuck with me all these years, and it’s the version I plan on playing during the 12inchTHROWDOWN Redux.  Plus, it’s one of the (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s, so, consider that a bonus for this chart nerd…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHCpSXv71ho

do-it-again

song of the day – “Living In A Box” | LIVING IN A BOX | 1987.

Happy 2017 everyone!  Hope your holiday season treated you well!

For the January 8, 2017 edition of STUCK IN THE 80s, my little retro radio show on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine, I’ll be hosting my final (?) All-Request Fest.  It’s something I thought of years ago as a way to give back to everyone who tuned in to the show and pledged money on STUCK IN THE 80s during the bi-annual pledge drives.  From Pop to Punk, Rap to Rock, New Wave to New Romantics, it’s about the listeners and their requests, and it’s always spontaneous and fun. 

stuck-all-request-fest

For this final (?) edition of the All-Request Fest, I’ll also be channeling my inner chart nerd and will bring folks 17 for ’17, where I’ll be playing just some of the many songs that peaked at No. 17 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989.  So, from now until the All-Request Fest, I’ll be posting all No. 17 hits…just because, well, I AM a chart nerd.  And I’m okay with that.

Another one of my favorite No. 17 hits on the Hot 100 is by the short-lived band, Living In A Box, out of Sheffield, England (home of artists like ABC, Human League, Thompson Twins, Heaven 17, Joe Cocker and Def Leppard).

Living In A Box was comprised of drummer Anthony “Tich” Critchlow, keyboardist Marcus Vere and singer / guitarist Richard Darbyshire (who has gone on to work as a musician / songwriter for many folks, most notably Lisa Stansfield).living-in-a-box-album

The band was formed in 1985, and named themselves after the first song they recorded together in the studio.  It was that song that would become a big global hit two years later.

The song “Living In A Box” was released a month in advance of their eponymous debut album, and with elements of Synthpop and “Sophisti-Pop” (a combo platter of Jazz, Soul and Pop; think ABC, Scritti Politti and Simply Red) quickly became a hit around the world.

“Living In A Box” reached the Top 10 in the U.K., Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the BILLBOARD Dance chart.  Over on the Hot 100, it would go on to spend a couple of weeks at No. 17 in August 1987.  It was also covered by late R&B legend Bobby Womack that year, and reached No. 70 on the U.K. singles chart.

The song is about feeling trapped by someone or something (“I’m living in a box / I’m living in a cardboard box”) and looking for that way out, and finds it (“I found a way to break through this cellophane bag / ‘Cause I know what’s goin’ on / In your mind…”).

living-in-a-box-single

The band Living In A Box would chart one more song on the Hot 100, with their third single overall, “So The Story Goes,” which spent a week at its No. 81 peak on Halloween 1987.

gatecrashingLiving In A Box would go on to release one more studio album, their second album, GATECRASHING, in 1989, which peaked at No. 21 on the U.K. album chart, four spots higher than their eponymous debut album.  The first single from that album, “Blow The House Down,” reached No. 10 in the U.K., the Top 20 in four other countries and the BILLBOARD Dance chart, and featured Queen’s Brian May on guitar.  The band broke up in 1990 before a third album was released.

Though Living In A Box only had a couple of Hot 100 hits here in the U.S., in their U.K. homeland, they released eight singles, six of which reached the Top 40, and three of those reaching the Top 10. 

My interest in Living In A Box began and ended with “Living In A Box,” but the song is still a favorite of mine to this day – the sound, the style, the beat – and if I ever get the chance to dance to it again, do yourself a favor and watch out, because I’ll be hitting that dance floor in a hot second (I have a history of bumping into people on the dance floor with my “mad dance skillz; emphasis on mad”)…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guBsPkUkPQg

living-in-a-box-band

song of the day – “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?” | HOWARD JONES | 1986 / 1987.

Happy 2017 everyone!  Hope your holiday season treated you well!

For the January 8, 2017 edition of STUCK IN THE 80s, my little retro radio show on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine, I’ll be hosting my final (?) All-Request Fest.  It’s something I thought of years ago as a way to give back to everyone who tuned in to the show and pledged money on STUCK IN THE 80s during the bi-annual pledge drives.  From Pop to Punk, Rap to Rock, New Wave to New Romantics, it’s about the listeners and their requests, and it’s always spontaneous and fun. 

stuck-all-request-fest

For this final (?) edition of the All-Request Fest, I’ll also be channeling my inner chart nerd and will bring folks 17 for ’17, where I’ll be playing just some of the many songs that peaked at No. 17 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989.  So, from now until the All-Request Fest, I’ll be posting all No. 17 hits…just because, well, I AM a chart nerd.  And I’m okay with that.

One of my favorite No. 17 hits on the Hot 100 is courtesy of one of my all-time favorite recording artists – Southampton, England’s wonderful Howard Jones – “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?”

one-to-one

From Howard’s third studio album, ONE TO ONE, “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?” was the first single released from the album here in America (in the U.K. and other parts of the globe, “All I Want” was the first single released). 

Just four weeks after HoJo’s biggest American hit, “No One Is To Blame,” departed the BILLBOARD Hot 100, he debuted at No. 69 with “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?”

you-know-i-love-you-us

The U.S. cover art for “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?”

The creative part-animated, part-live action video (perhaps inspired by the Richard Lowenstein-directed INXS video of “What You Need” earlier that year) was directed by Wayne Isham, who was attending the University of California at Santa Barbara when the video for David Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes” was released in 1980, and the video inspired him to start making videos.

While the majority of the early videos Wayne directed were by Hard Rock and Metal artists like Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Queensrÿche and Megadeth, he also directed videos for folks like The Psychedelic Furs (“Pretty In Pink”), Whitney Houston (“So Emotional”), The Rolling Stones and Roxette.  At the MTV Video Music Awards in 1991, Wayne Isham (along with Bon Jovi) received the Lifetime Achievement Award, better known as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

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The U.K. cover art for “You Know I Love You.”

With help from the cool music video, “You Know I Love You” debuted on the Top 40 of the Hot 100 in just four weeks.  Just before Xmas 1986, it was stuck in a competitive part of the chart, and spent three weeks over the holiday season at No. 17.

While “You Know I Love You” was one of HoJo’s biggest hits here in the U.S., it sadly didn’t fare as well elsewhere.  In Canada, it reached No. 26, a peak of No. 61 in Australia, and in his U.K. homeland, it stalled at No. 43.

My oldest friend, Peter, and I got to see HoJo in Portland, Maine in late June  2016.  It was my second time seeing HoJo perform (the first time was in 1998 in Boston, on a tour with The Human League and Culture Club).  I honestly could see this man perform every day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Howard hasn’t had a Top 40 hit in 25 years, but as much as I love singles chart trivia, I also know the Pop charts don’t define recording artists, and definitely doesn’t define HoJo.

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Howard Jones today…

One of the things I love about seeing Howard Jones perform is how comfortable he is in his element.  And the things that man can do with a synthesizer!  Holy cats!  Brilliant, and incredibly fun to watch. 

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HoJo performing live, 2016…

I know I don’t have to ask this question, but Howard, “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?”  You bet I do.  Hope to see you around these parts again soon…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy3K8tLhQpE

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song of the day – “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” | TEARS FOR FEARS | 1985.

The other night, I was at a get-together in South Portland, Maine, at the home of my friend Melissa, and there was a conversation going about The British (music) Invasion.  I chimed in and said, “Which one?”  They were talking about the one in the mid-1960s, while I was referring to the one in the mid-1980s.  When questioned about the 80s British Invasion, I then tried to remember all the big British hits in the U.S. during 1985, and had a huge gaping brain cramp.  So, I’ll properly answer that question here.

Human-League-SecondsI’ve prolly said on the bloggy thing here that the New Wave era here in America started and ended with The Human League.  Their big 1982 hit, “Don’t You Want Me” spent three weeks at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in July 1982, and for the next four years, New Wave artists were prominent on the Hot 100 singles chart.  In November 1986, their hit, “Human,” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100, and was replaced the following week by “You Give Love A Bad Name” by Bon Jovi.  I’ve also prolly said here (half-jokingly) that Bon Jovi killed New Wave.

Another interesting thing about The Human League’s two bookend reigns at No. 1 on the Hot 100 – not only did New Wave come into play (pun intended) during this time – with the tremendous help of MTV – it was also the time of the Second British (music) Invasion. 

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every-breath-you-takeOn the BILLBOARD Hot 100 dated July 16th, 1983, British music acts shattered the record established in 1965, where 14 songs by British recording artists were in the American Top 40 at the same time.  On this July 1983 chart, HALF of the Top 40 were songs by British artists, and of those 20, seven of the Top 10 singles that week were by Brits: “Time (Clock Of The Heart)” – Culture Club (No. 10), “Is There Something I Should Know” – Duran Duran (once called The Fab Five; No. 9), “Our House” – Madness (No. 8), “Too Shy” – Kajagoogoo (No. 7), “Come Dancing” (The Kinks, who were part of the original British Invasion; No. 6), “Electric Avenue” – Eddy Grant (a Londoner from Guyana, which was known as British Guiana at the time of his birth in 1948; No. 2), and “Every Breath You Take” – The Police (for the second of eight weeks at No. 1).

everything-she-wantsIn April 1984, 40 of the singles on the Hot 100 were by British acts, and on the Hot 100 chart dated May 25, 1985 (the year of the height of the Second British Invasion), a record EIGHT of the Top 10 singles that week were by Brits: “Things Can Only Get Better” – Howard Jones (No. 10), “Some Like It Hot” – The Power Station (No. 9), “Suddenly” – Billy Ocean (of British origin; No. 8), “One Night In Bangkok” – Murray Head (No. 7), “Smooth Operator” – Sade (No. 5), “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Tears For Fears (No. 3), “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds (No. 2), and “Everything She Wants” – Wham! (No. 1).

For three months between May 18, 1985 and August 17, 1985, and starting with “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” songs by acts from Britain would rule the U.S. music world for all but two weeks – the aforementioned “Everything She Wants” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” plus “Sussudio” by Phil Collins, “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran, Paul Young’s cover of the Daryl Hall song, “Everytime You Go Away,” and “Shout” by Tears For Fears.

When Bon Jovi claimed their first No. 1 song on the Hot 100 in late November 1986, and in the process signaling the end of the reign of New Wave and the Second British Invasion, the No. 1 songs for the better part of the rest of the 80s were dominated by Glam Metal and Dance acts, though in 1988, many songs by Brits did manage to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100.songs from.png

One of the British acts who had a banner year in 1985 – in the U.S. and all over the globe – was Bath, England’s Tears For Fears.  Led by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, Tears For Fears had been around since 1981, but despite a brilliant debut album (THE HURTING), they hadn’t been able to break through to the U.S. market until the success of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” their third single from their second album, SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR.

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (with vocals by Curt Smith) was the first single released here in the U.S., and for awhile in the Spring and Summer of 1985, Tears For Fears did rule the world with their incredible hit.  It spent a couple of weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in June 1985, as well as reaching No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart for two weeks.  The love for this song was felt through many different genres, and it reached No. 2 on BILLBOARD’s Rock and Adult Contemporary charts – no easy feat.  Here in America, it rightfully ranked at No. 7 for all of 1985.

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everybody-wants-to-runAround the globe, it reached No. 1 in Canada and New Zealand, and the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Holland and Ireland.  A year later, Roland and Curt returned to the Top 10 of the U.K. and Ireland charts with a rework of their big hit, titled “Everybody Wants To RUN The World,” in support of Sport Aid, which was a sports-themed offshoot campaign of Live Aid, to aid in the effort to help the famine problem in Africa.  The highlight of this campaign was the Race Against Time, a 10K fun run simultaneously held in 89 countries.  $37 million was raised for Live Aid and UNICEF.

For many years, Roland Orzabal kept performing under the Tears For Fears name while Curt Smith had left the band, but they have been together again since 2000, released an album in 2004 (EVERYBODY LOVES A HAPPY ENDING) and are currently on the last dates of their rescheduled U.S. and Canada tour. 

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Though overall Tears For Fears may not be the household name they were in 1985, it’s great to see them still together and so wonderful to hear their songs like “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” on the radio.  It’s one of those songs I have always loved from the start and a song I always love driving to.  One of the lyrics of the song goes, “Nothing ever lasts forever.”  Clearly, Roland and Curt aren’t referring to their own song, as this song will live on in radio eternity, and as I’ll love this song forever…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST86JM1RPl0

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