song of the day – “You Can Call Me Al” | PAUL SIMON | 1986 / 1987.

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!”

Throughout the years, whether it’s because of an inclusion in a movie or a commercial or a TV show, or a radio station rediscovered it and started playing it again, songs sometimes have more one chart life.  The best example of this is Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” which reached No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 twice.  In its initial run, the dance craze favorite spent one week on top in September 1960, and again in January 1962 for two weeks.  No other song has done that here in America.  And, because of its two chart runs that ended at No. 1, “The Twist” is ranked at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 for all time.

twist

CassingleFrontCoverSm

The 1989 cassette single (or “cassingles” – remember those?!) for “In Your Eyes.”

I believe all decades have had songs re-enter the chart with new chart runs, but I think no other decade has as many as the 80s did.  There were “second-chance singles” (as I like to call them) that went to No. 1 on the Hot 100, like “At This Moment” by Billy Vera & The Beaters and “When I’m With You” by Sheriff, “second-chance singles” that were “(real) one-hit wonders,” like Sheriff (again), Benny Mardones (“Into The Night”) and Moving Pictures (“What About Me”),  and songs that benefited from appearing in movies, like Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (…SAY ANYTHING) and Billy Idol’s “Hot In The City” (BIG).

Then you have songs that were hits in other decades and, also due to their inclusions in films, were reissued and hit the chart again, like The Beatles’ “Twist And Shout” (featured in both FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF and BACK TO SCHOOL), Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” (from the incredible film of the same name), and The Contours’ “Do You Love Me” (from DIRTY DANCING).

Prince’s “1999” reached the Hot 100 four time in three decades, and reached the Top 40 three of those times.  In its original 1982 chart run (as the debut single from the album of the same name), it stopped at No. 44.  After “Little Red Corvette” reached No. 6, “1999” was re-released and reached No. 12 in 1983.  When the calendar changed from 1998 to 1999 (even though the song wasn’t about the year 1999), it re-entered the Top 40 for one week at No. 40.  And, as BILLBOARD has been doing for several years now, a number of Prince songs re-entered the Hot 100 following his sad passing in April 2016.  In its fourth Hot 100 appearance, “1999” reached No. 27.

1999

These “second-chance singles” don’t always chart higher than their original chart runs (like the Moving Pictures, Peter Gabriel and Billy Idol singles mentioned above), but lots of times they do.  UB40’s “Red Red Wine” originally peaked at No. 34 in March 1984, but in a re-release (after being performed at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Concert in 1988), the album version of their Neil Diamond cover spent a week at No. 1 in October 1988.  And, the original version of The Pointer Sisters’ classic, “I’m So Excited,” stalled at No. 30 in late 1982, but after being remixed for their 1984 album, BREAK OUT, the song was reissued and did break out, reaching No. 9 on the Hot 100 about two years later.

red red wine

And, sometimes, “second-chance singles” get another shot at the Hot 100 for multiple reasons.  In the case of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” its success can be attributed to growing praise and sales for its brilliant parent album, GRACELAND (and its big Album Of The Year Grammy Award), and a smart change in music videos.

“You Can Call Me Al” (a song about someone going through a midlife crisis), the first single released from GRACELAND, debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 83 in early August 1986, about a month before the album was released.  The original video for “You Can Call Me Al” was a performance Paul Simon gave (in the perspective of a video monitor) during a monologue when he hosted SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. 

graceland

Well, Paul Simon wasn’t happy with the video, which didn’t seem to attract many fans to buy the record, and GRACELAND had just been released (and wasn’t the brilliant classic most people associate with it now).  “You Can Call Me Al” spent a couple of weeks at No. 44 in September and October, and dropped off the chart in November 1986 after 14 weeks.

A new video was commissioned, and Paul Simon stayed with his friend and SNL creator, Lorne Michaels, to put together another video.  This one (one of my all-time favorite music videos) pairs Paul with another friend (and SNL alum), Chevy Chase, who lip-syncs Paul Simon’s vocals, leaving Paul to twiddle his thumbs, although Paul ends up lip-syncing his backing vocals throughout, and in the last 30 seconds of the video, the focus switches from Chevy to Paul (although Chevy almost takes Paul’s head off with a trumpet).  It’s an incredibly funny and smartly done video, and I think it resonated with fans, MTV watchers, and radio stations alike. 

al video

Paul Simon and his friend, Chevy Chase, from the hilarious video for “You Can Call Me Al.”

Between a hilarious new music video and a big Grammy win for GRACELAND in late February 1987, “You Can Call Me Al” re-entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late March 1987 at No. 92.  About a month later, it surpassed its original No. 44 peak, and reached the Top 40.  About a month after that, it spent a couple of weeks at its (new) peak position of No. 23, departing the chart in early July 1987, with a total of 27 weeks spent on the Hot 100 (strangely enough, in its highe-charting second run, it spent one less week than the first chart run).  To date, it’s Paul Simon’s last Top 40 hit here in America.

you can call me al

Around the globe, “You Can Call Me Al” said, “You can call me a big hit in” Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa (where it reached No. 2), plus the U.K. (No. 4), the Netherlands (No. 5), Finland (No. 9), France (No. 16) and Canada (No. 19). hyde park

Paul Simon is 75 now, and still very much active in the music scene.  In 2016, he released his 13th studio album, STRANGER TO STRANGER, which reached No. 3 on BILLBOARD’s Album chart, his highest-charting album since GRACELAND went to No. 3 three decades ago.  And, just this month, he released his fourth live solo album, PAUL SIMON – THE CONCERT IN HYDE PARK.

I don’t know what it is, but I love the idea of songs getting a second chance – for whatever reason – to do better on the chart than they did before.  And, though sometimes it doesn’t work out, the times it does happen can be pretty amazing.  And other times you just need a gifted comedic actor and friend to play off against, who’s a full foot taller than you to create a really fucking hilarious music video to help out a really cool song about trying to cope with middle age.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq-gYOrU8bA

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song of the day – “Point Of No Return” | NU SHOOZ | 1986.

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!”

In 1979, the R&B / Dance band, Nu Shooz, formed in “the other” Portland (Portland, Oregon) by the husband and wife team of John Smith and Valerie Day, originally had 12 members to it.  Three years later, they released their first album, CAN’T TURN IT OFF.  In 1985, their second album, THA’S RIGHT (containing the original version of “I Can’t Wait”), was released on Poolside Records.  (No, I haven’t heard of that label either, but Poolside does come into play in a bigger way a year later.)

By 1986, Nu Shooz was just John Smith and Valerie Day, and though the original version of “I Can’t Wait” was a big hit in their Portland, OR hometown, no major record labels wanted to sign them.  But, a copy of “I Can’t Wait” somehow found its way to The Netherlands, and it was remixed into what became known as the “Dutch Mix.” 

Well, once that version found its way back to America, Atlantic Records was interested in Nu Shooz, and John and Valerie were signed to the label in January 1986.  Their third album, POOLSIDE (see what they did there), went Gold, and “I Can’t Wait” became a huge global hit.

poolside

The follow-up single to “I Can’t Wait” was “Point Of No Return,” which debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 97 in early July 1986, exactly two months to the day that POOLSIDE was released.  “I Can’t Wait” was still in the Top 30.

“Point Of No Return” (which has no relation to the No. 28 Kansas hit from 1978, and spelled “Point of KNOW Return,” and has no relation to the Exposé Top 5 hit from 1987) made a steady climb up the Hot 100, reaching the Top 40 two months after debuting on the chart, and the same week it spent a week at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

point of no return 12

I still proudly have one of these in my record library!

The stop motion music video (featuring a closetful of sneakers and dancing shoes, which ended up dancing in the video) was directed by Wayne Isham.  If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he directed many memorable 80s videos, including the 1986 version of “Pretty In Pink” by The Psychedelic Furs, “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?” by Howard Jones, “Heat Of The Night” by Bryan Adams, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard, plus many videos by both Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe, including “Home Sweet Home,” which was No. 1 on DIAL MTV for over 90 days in 1987 (though it seemed like much longer, like two years).

point of no return video

Screenshots from the “Point Of No Return” video.

Spending a lone week at No. 28 in mid-October 1986, “Point Of No Return” tallied up 22 weeks on the Hot 100, which was an impressive number, considering “I Can’t Wait” was on the chart for 23 weeks, and that reached No. 3.

Around the globe, “Point Of No Return” was a moderate hit, reaching No. 18 in New Zealand, No. 22 in Canada, No. 23 in Switzerland, No. 24 in Germany and No. 48 in the U.K.

Nu Shooz released one more album in the 80s (1988’s TOLD U SO), which was not a big success, though it did give the band one more Hot 100 hit – “Should I Say Yes,” which just missed the Top 40, stopping at No. 41. 

After TOLD U SO, a third album scheduled for release on Atlantic in the early 90s was scrapped.  In 2007, Nu Shooz was inducted (with 49 other acts, including Quarterflash, the late, great Elliott Smith, and Paul Revere & The Raiders) into the Oregon Music Hall Of Fame.

NUSHOOZBAND2015

Nu Shooz in 2015.

That same year, John Smith and Valerie Day formed a spin-off band with a sound they defined as “Jazz-Pop-Cinema,” and called themselves, naturally, the Nu Shooz Orchestra.  As Nu Shooz Orchestra, they released one album in 2010 called PANDORA’S BOX. 

NU_SHOOZ_promo_large

John Smith and Valerie Day today.

In 2012, Nu Shooz time-traveled back to their 80s style and released the album, KUNG PAO KITCHEN.  In 2016, Nu Shooz is now back to at least nine members and back to their roots, and released an album called BAGTOWN.  As they say on their website, “Come along with us to a funky soulful place called Bagtown!  Fun is the orbit we’re on, and fun is what’s in the bag!”  It definitely has funky feel to it.  Nice to see them still together and putting out music on their own terms.

bagtown

I’m sure a lot of folks have forgotten this song (don’t know if they were turned off by the video, which in 2017 looks a bit hokey and dated), but I love this song as much as “I Can’t Wait,” if not a little more…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yavaJNXoMe8

nu shooz

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 – “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” | U2 | 1984.

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!”

It’s June 6, 2017, and I didn’t have the best day today.  It happens.  In late 1984, Casey Kasem wasn’t having a good day during the recording of a segment of AMERICAN TOP 40.  I’ll come back to that in a bit.  But, Casey’s bad day was a good day for Dublin, Ireland’s U2. 

With their first three albums – 1980’s BOY, 1981’s OCTOBER and 1983’s WAR – U2 was slowly building an audience here in America.  All three albums sold well here in the U.S., especially WAR (now at 4x Platinum), which reached No. 12 on BILLBOARD’s Album chart.

My introduction to U2 happened somewhere between WAR and when I picked up the live “mini-album,” UNDER A BLOOD RED SKY, in July 1984.  And, apart from some of their most recent efforts, I’ve been a huge fan since, but I don’t think it really happened for me until I picked up their fourth studio album, THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE.

the unforgettable fire

Released on October 1, 1984, THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE took the band in a new music direction from the edgier, more raw sound of their first three albums.  U2’s first three albums were produced by the great Steve Lillywhite (who worked with many artists in the 80s like Big Country, Peter Gabriel and XTC, to name a few), but, in order to achieve this newer sound, THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE was co-produced by legends in their own right, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. 

Bassist Adam Clayton once said about the change in producers, “We were looking for something that was a bit more serious, more arty.”  The powers that be at U2’s record label, Island, tried to encourage them NOT to work with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, but U2 was persistent.  And, in the end, it paid off.

The first single released from THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE was “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and was released in early September 1984, a month before the release of the album.

PRIDE front

Prior to “Pride,” U2 had reached the Top 5 of Ireland’s singles chart four times, reaching No. 2 twice – with “New Year’s Day” and “Two Hearts Beat As One.”  Over on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, U2 had only seen a couple of their singles reach the BILLBOARD Hot 100: “New Year’s Day” (No. 53, 1983) and a live version of “I Will Follow” (No. 81, 1984).  “Two Hearts Beat As One” just missed the survey, stopping at No. 101.

“Pride (In The Name Of Love)” became the band’s third single to reach the Hot 100, debuting in late October 1984 at No. 85.  Within four weeks, it became their biggest U.S. hit to that point, and on December 1, 1984, “Pride” reached the Top 40.  It would spend a week at No. 33 two weeks later, and stayed on the Hot 100 until early February 1985.

Around the globe, folks were proud for “Pride” and it was U2’s first big worldwide hit, reaching No. 1 in New Zealand, No. 2 in Ireland, No. 3 in the U.K., No. 4 in Australia, No. 5 in Holland, No. 7 in Norway, No. 12 in Sweden and No. 33 in Canada (must have been a North American thing).

NERDY FUN FACT: The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, married to Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr in 1984, sang backing vocals on “Pride (Is The Name Of Love),” and was credited on the song as “Mrs. Christine Kerr.”

Now back to Casey Kasem’s bad day back in 1984.  Apparently, during the recording of an American Top 40 countdown (I believe the week when U2 debuted on the Top 40 at No. 39 on December 1, 1984), in AT40-ese, Casey dropped a couple of notches.  As he was listing off U2’s members, he got frustrated and said, “These guys are from England and who gives a shit?!”

In 1991, this sample and other vocal and more profane samples by Casey over the years found their way onto the EP of San Francisco Experimental band Negativland.  The U2 EP was notorious for highlighting “U2” in huge letters and “Negativland” in very small letters underneath it, with an image of a Lockheed U-2 spy plane in the foreground of “U2.”

U2 EP

On this U2 EP were a couple different mixes of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” with those Casey Kasem samples (including his famed “Long Distance Dedication,” thrown in there as well).  These covers were more parodies than covers (kazoos were involved, as were bits and pieces and samples of the original U2 song).  Regardless of whether or not they were covers, U2 was not impressed and Island Records sued Negativland for a violation of trademark law, not just for the huge “U2” on the EP, but for the song itself.

Island Records also believed it was a deliberate attempt to confuse U2 fans awaiting the new U2 release, ACHTUNG BABY, making them believe they were purchasing a new U2 album called NEGATIVLAND.  The EP was withdrawn, but the tracks resurfaced on a legally-released album a decade later (with bonus material) as THESE GUYS ARE FROM ENGLAND AND WHO GIVES A SHIT?

these guys are from england

Negativland’s interest is in intellectual property rights.  They argued that their use of U2’s and other artists’ work falls under the “fair use” clause.  They released a CD in 1995, along with an accompanying book about this whole U2 experience, called, FAIR USE: THE STORY OF THE LETTER U AND THE NUMERAL 2 (Of U2’s name, Casey Kasem described it on AMERICAN TOP 40 as “That’s the letter U and the numeral 2.”) 

fair use

“Pride” was originally written about Ronald Reagan’s pride in the USA’s military power, but Bono was influenced by Stephen B. Oates’s 1982 book, LET THE TRUMPET SOUND: A LIFE OF MARTING LUTHER KING, JR., as well as a biography about Malcolm X, examining the violent and non-violent sides of the civil rights campaigns of the 60s.  Lead singer and lyricist Bono rewrote the lyrics to “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and it ended up being about Martin Luther King, Jr.

PRIDE back

Hard to think about now, but oddly enough, at the time of its release, “Pride” got mixed critical reviews.  Kurt Loder, who reviewed THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE in 1984 (and would later join MTV), gave the album three out of five stars, and said of “Pride”: 

“One would like to be able to summon praise for such well-intentioned tracks as ‘Pride (In the Name of Love),’ which was inspired by Martin Luther King, but ‘Pride’ gets over only on the strength of its resounding beat (a U2 trademark) and big, droning bass line, not on the nobility of its lyrics, which are unremarkable.”

Well, reviews for both THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE and for “Pride” only improved with time, and ROLLING STONE ranked it as No. 388 on their 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time list, and it’s also included on the list of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll. 

And prolly the best review of all?  When the song came out, the late, great Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. King, invited the band to the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, which they visited during their 1984 tour.

Maybe Casey Kasem didn’t give U2 much thought when “Pride” came out, but he changed his tune (pun intended) the next time U2 made the Top 40 – when THE JOSHUA TREE’s “With Or Without You” spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in May 1987.

As for me?  Well, when I bought UNDER A BLOOD RED SKY, I was curious about the band so many people were raving about.  And I loved the album.  When I bought THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE, I would never forget U2 again…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHcP4MWABGY

U284

song of the day – “Me Myself And I” | DE LA SOUL | 1989.

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!”

shadoejune88ad

An ad for AMERICAN TOP 40 with Shadoe Stevens, 1988.  Nothing against Shadoe, but this made me sad.

By the Fall of 1988, due to contractual issues with ABC Watermark, Casey Kasem sadly left the show he created in 1970 to start another show, Casey’s Top 40.  With no 29-year-old offense intended at AT40’s replacement host, Shadoe Stevens, I listened for one or two weeks after Casey left, and it just wasn’t the same.  But for this tribute to Casey, I’m still sticking with the 80s format, and will feature a number of songs from August 1988 through December 1989, or post-Casey on American Top 40.  Here’s one of those songs. 

De La Soul, the Hip Hop / Rap trio formed Long Island, New York, in 1987 (while still in high school) and are still together 30 years later.  Consisting of members Posdnous (real name Kevin Mercer), Dave (David Jude Jolicoeur) and Maseo (Vincent Mason), De La Soul came onto the music scene a couple of years later with their debut album, 3 FEET HIGH AND RISING, and right out of the gate, they were heralded for their impressive contributions to Jazz Rap and Alt-Hip Hop, their fun wordplay and their revolutionary sampling (on this album alone, they sample anything from Daryl Hall & John Oates to Johnny Cash to Steely Dan to The Turtles to Richard Pryor to Liberace to Wilson Pickett to Billy Joel).

3 feet high

3 FEET HIGH AND RISING was one of the most critically-acclaimed albums of 1989, making it onto many publications’ Top 10 lists that year, including ROLLING STONE (#5), MELODY MAKER (#10), plus other notable accolades from SPIN (#7, 100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005), VILLAGE VOICE (“The Sgt. Pepper of Hip Hop”), NEW MUSIC EXPRESS (NME) (“One of the greatest albums ever made”) and famed music critic Robert Christgau said 3 FEET HIGH AND RISING was “unlike any rap album you or anybody else has heard.”

Another thing that 3 FEET HIGH AND RISING had in its favor was its tone.  In 1989, Gangsta Rap was taking off, and De La Soul went in a different direction, a more positive spin on Rap, promoting peace and harmony, as opposed to violence and substance abuse and then some.  And, because of it, both De La Soul and the album were well-received.  3 FEET HIGH AND RISING was certified Platinum and spent five weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s R&B / Hip Hop chart.  In Robert Christgau’s VILLAGE VOICE review of the album, he said that De La Soul is “New Wave to Public Enemy’s Punk.”

3 FEET HIGH AND RISING was released in mid-March 1989, but it took about three months for the album’s first single, “Me Myself And I,” to reach the BILLBOARD Hot 100.  On June 3, 1989, the week it debuted on the Hot 100, it was No. 1 for a week on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  The following week, it was No. 1 for a week on BILLBOARD’s R&B / Hip Hop chart. 

Prior to its Hot 100 debut, “Me Myself And I” was the second song to reach No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s then-new Rap Singles chart.  It spent eight weeks at No. 1 on that chart.

me myself and i

“Me Myself And I,” with its quirky video set in a high school guidance office and then a classroom, helped propel the song up the Hot 100, though it was an unusual chart run.  Just three weeks on the chart, it jumped from No. 72 to No. 49.  But, for whatever reason, the following week, it quickly held the No. 49 position, only to move back up the week after.

randee of the mtv

QUIRKY FUN FACT: The MTV character, Randee of the Redwoods (played by actor and comedian Jim Turner from 1987 through 1990) appears briefly in the music video for “Me Myself And I.”  Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammed of A Tribe Called Quest also make cameo appearances. 

In its sixth week on the Hot 100, “Me Myself And I” was already certified Gold (pretty impressive for a song that hadn’t yet reached the Top 40), but retreated back from No. 43 to No. 45.  And, once again, the following week, it regained its bullet and climbed back up.

Eight weeks into its chart run, in late July 1989, “Me Myself And I” bounded into the Top 40 at No. 34, but that is where it would peak for one week, and it spent three total weeks in the Top 40.  “Me Myself And I” (which incorporates five samples of songs from Funkadelic to Ohio Players) bowed out of the Hot 100 after 17 weeks.

“Me Myself And I” picked up an audience around the globe as well, reaching No. 1 in Holland for two weeks, plus No. 7 in Belgium, No. 16 in Germany, and the Top 30 in the U.K., Austria and Switzerland.  It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance.

The legacy of “Me Myself And I” in the history of Rap / Hip Hop and music altogether continues today.  In addition to being featured in commercials and video games, the song is included in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll.”

de la soul 2017

De La Soul, still together 30 years later…

De La Soul has now released a total of nine studio albums, including 2016’s AND THE ANONYMOUS NOBODY… album, which featured a number of guest performers, including David Byrne.  One reviewer called the album “one of the most thrilling, wide-ranging Rap releases of the year,” and this year, it gave the trio their first Grammy nomination since 2006.

MusicAlbumsLA_DeLaSoul

Those who know me know I’m not really into most Rap music, so I never really kept up on De La Soul, but I’m so glad they are still together and still promoting that more peaceful, traditional Hip Hop alternative to Rap from a lot of the (C)rap that’s out there.  And, though I don’t really know them, from what I’ve read, they seem like the real deal.

As for “Me Myself And I,” I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this song.  I know folks were into Goth back then and who loved this song.  There was just something about it, and still is…

“De La Soul is from the soul / And this fact I can’t deny…”

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

de la soul

song of the day – “Promises In The Dark” | PAT BENATAR | 1981.

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!”

When most folks think of the lovely and totally rockin’ Pat Benatar, the first songs that come to mind are rightfully “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “We Belong,” “Love Is A Battlefield,” “Shadows In The Night,” and her first hit, “Heartbreaker” (from her 1979 debut album, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT), which was a Top 30 hit for her in March 1980. 

But the beauty of the music of Pat Benatar is that she has so many other great songs that were hits, just weren’t big hits.  Between “Heartbreaker” and 1988’s “All Fired Up,” Pat Benatar hit the BILLBOARD Hot 100 17 times, and out of those 17 singles, an impressive 15 of them reached the Top 40.  The only ones that didn’t become Top 40 hits were 1980’s “You Better Run” (the second video to ever air on MTV) and the sadly forgotten “Le Bel Age” from 1986.

Another sadly forgotten gem (though not by me) is from Pat’s third album, PRECIOUS TIME (her only album to reach No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Album chart) – “Promises In The Dark.”

precious time

The second of two singles released from PRECIOUS TIME (the first being the Top 20 hit and Grammy winner, “Fire And Ice”), “Promises In The Dark” looked promising on the Hot 100, debuting at No. 71, and was the second-highest debuting song that week (Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” – the future No. 1 song of the 80s – was the highest).

“Promises In The Dark,” written with her guitarist and future husband, Neil Giraldo, is a song about how the issues of past relationships are affecting the present one.  In one 1984 interview, Pat Benatar said, “Sometimes I really hate singing in the first person – it’s so personal sometimes…  I do mostly observational lyric but if it’s directly from something that happened, I can’t stand to sing it in first person.  I’d rather sing it as we or they or you, or something else.”

japan promises

The cover art for the Japanese version of the “Promises In The Dark” single.

In another interview, Neil Giraldo added, “I thought it was deep in a really good way.  I think that it was a commercial hit, but I love the expression of the melody.  It gave a lot of room for the vocal to be powerful.  And then when we rehearsed the song, that’s where I came up with that little guitar riff, which is the signature to that break between the slow part and the fast part.  When I hit that in rehearsal and I put the song way up tempo – because the song was a ballad – I found I hit that, then I knew, I went, ‘Oh, we got something now.  This is going to work.’  I knew it right then we had it.”

Oh, don’t worry guys – “Promises In The Dark” definitely has it, and always has with me.  I’d say it’s still one of my Top 5 favorite Pat Benatar songs of all-time, and if I get to go see Pat and Neil at Portland’s Maine State Pier in late July (fingers crossed), I hope they play this.

maine state pier show

Back in 1981 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, “Promises In The Dark” played out a bit differently.  It reached No. 38 in just its fifth week, but stopped there, and sadly fell off the Hot 100 after just 11 weeks.  Over on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, it reached No. 16, the same position it peaked at in France.

PRECIOUS TIME, despite its chart success and sales (selling more than two million copies), was not a well-received album.  But, as artists like Pat Benatar have proven, you can’t let poor reviews deter you from doing what you love.  And it didn’t.  Pat Benatar found her biggest success after this album, not to mention her marriage to Neil Giraldo, which remains very strong and kicking ass to this day.

neil and pat

Still, I wish more folks had latched on to this song when it came out.  It deserved to be a bigger chart hit than it was.  Neil’s guitar work on this song impresses me to this day, and Pat’s Classical vocal training truly radiates on this song, belting out lyrics like:

“But promises you know what they’re for / It sounds so convincing, but you heard it before / ‘Cause talk is cheap and you gotta be sure / And so you put up your guard / And you try to be hard but your heart says try again…”

A warning to everyone who is scheduled to attend the concert featuring Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at the Maine State Pier in late July – if I do get to go, and Pat and Neil do play this song, if you hear a loud scream (which may or may not sound like a lit-tle girl), that will be me.  I promise…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qUFZwJb9GA

promises in the dark

song of the day – “Slipping Away” | DAVE EDMUNDS | 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!”

In researching for this blog post, I found a lot more songs from the 80s that peaked at No. 39 than expected, at least 30.  There were some great ones, like “Atomic” by Blondie, “I Don’t Care Anymore” by Phil Collins, “In The Mood” by Robert Plant,” “Looking For A Stranger” by Pat Benatar, “My Town” by the Michael Stanley Band, “Skin Trade” by Duran Duran, “Tomorrow People” by Ziggy Marley, “(What) In The Name Of Love” by Naked Eyes, “Second Nature” by Dan Hartman, “Who’s Making Love” by The Blues Brothers, Bon Jovi’s first hit, “Runaway,” ELO’s sadly-forgotten “Last Train To London,” the gorgeous “Wake Up (Next To You)” by Graham Parker And The Shot, and six (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s.

atomic

I also found some songs I had forgotten about, like “Don’t Let Him Know” by Prism and “New Romance (It’s A Mystery)” by Spider, and some stinkers among the bunch, including “Memory” by Barry Manilow, “Sartorial Eloquence” by Elton John (sorry Elton, with a song title like that, it was bound not to work out), and the “WTF was I thinking with this song” song by Mick Jagger, “Let’s Work.”  Downright awful.  Don’t watch the video – that’s four minutes you’re not getting back.

wake up next to you

I nearly chose “Wake Up (Next To You)” as my selection for a song that peaked at No. 39 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, but I wanted to choose instead a gem from the sensationally-talented Welsh singer / songwriter / guitarist / über-producer, Dave Edmunds.

i hear you knockingBorn in Cardiff, Wales, Dave Edmunds first got his big break with a band called Love Sculpture, and in 1968, they reached No. 5 on the U.K. singles chart with a song called “Sabre Dance.”  Two years later, he had himself a huge international solo hit called “I Hear You Knocking,” which spent six weeks at No. 1 in the U.K., reached No. 3 in Canada and New Zealand, and No. 4 in the U.S. and Australia.  Dave’s version was actually a cover of a 1955 hit by R&B singer Smiley Lewis, and then covered by the legendary Fats Domino in 1961.  It’s also been covered many times over the decades, including versions by Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams.

repeat when necessaryThrough the end of the 1970s, Dave Edmunds picked up another three Top 10 U.K. hits, including Silver-Certified “Girls Talk,” written by Elvis Costello and appearing on his 1979 album, REPEAT WHEN NECESSARY (on Led Zeppelin’s SWAN SONG label). 

NERDY FUN FACTS: Huey Lewis appears on that same 1979 Dave Edmunds album, playing harmonica on a song he wrote called “Bad Is Bad,” four years before it would appear on Huey’s own monster album with The News, SPORTS.  And a song called “Queen Of Hearts” was also on the album, a No. 11 U.K. hit for Dave Edmunds that would become a big global hit for New Jersey Country singer, Juice Newton, in 1981.

bad is bad

Yepper, that’s Huey Lewis’ name and song on Led Zeppelin’s label, years before Huey became a star in his own right…

In addition to being a successful singer, songwriter and musician, Dave Edmunds was also a popular producer for other artists, including producing several albums by The Stray Cats, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, his side project with Nick Lowe, Rockpile, and k.d. lang’s second album, ANGEL WITH A LARIAT.

In all the years Dave Edmunds produced his own albums and the works of other artists, when it came time to work on his own 1983 album, INFORMATION, Dave did something he had never done before – he collaborated with another producer, in this case, Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra.

information

Jeff Lynne would go on to produce two songs on the album – the title track, and the album’s first single, “Slipping Away,” which Jeff Lynne also wrote.  “Slipping Away” entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 93 in mid-May 1983.  I confess I didn’t know much about Dave Edmunds when this song came out, but I loved the updated twangy sound. 

slipping away

With the help of airplay on the relatively new MTV, “Slipping Away” inched its way up the Hot 100, reaching its peak position of No. 39 nearly three months after debuting on the chart.  Four weeks after reaching the Top 40, “Slipping Away” slipped its way out of the Hot 100.  It’s his last Top 40 hit to date. 

on guitar

Dave Edmunds, now 73, released two albums in recent years, one in 2013 called …AGAIN (featuring recordings from the 90s and four new songs), and in 2015 (ON GUITAR…RAGS & CLASSICS).

It’s his twangy, Jeff Lynne-penned and produced No. 39 hit, though, that caught my ear, which introduced me to a music legend, and is a song that has never slipped away from me since, and won’t…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFETrcH1Dks

dave edmunds