May 1, 1982

May 1, 2011

It’s been a grueling stretch at the office – and I’m still vexed by the realization that I use the phrase “at the office” – and I think a part of my cerebral cortex is still a bit glitchy from the rabbit hole Paloma sent me down last week.

There’s also a band who have dubbed themselves Cosmic America playing downstairs and anyone who might be able to hold a coherent thought in their head while a band that would think Cosmic America might be a good moniker bashes away is made of sturdier stuff than I.

(it would be better if it was America making a mockery of my Saturday morning zen, but even that would be tedious after two hours)

So, since I haven’t done so in awhile, I pulled up the Billboard Hot 100 – opting for this this week in 1982 – and perused the chart of the most popular singles, eyeing the songs that were debuts.

At the time, I was mere weeks away from finishing up eighth grade and moving on to high school in the fall. It was during the school year that was ending that I had discovered radio and, when possible, it was on. Usually it was tuned to Q102, the Top 40 station that was popular with most of my classmates, but I was also searching the dial, exploring what else was out there.

Nine songs debuted on the Hot 100 twenty-nine years ago – only two with which I was unfamiliar – and it’s a relatively mellow lot with only a few hits that might hold my attention enough not to scroll past…

Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots
from Straight From The Heart
(debuted #90, peaked #23, 16 weeks on chart)

I wasn’t listening to much R&B at the time. I’d sometimes pause on The Blaze, an urban station, if I heard something familiar but the bouncy Forget Me Nots got played a lot on my Top 40 stations of choice, too.

I remember seeing Rushen perform Forget Me Nots on Solid Gold, but it couldn’t pull my attention away from the gyrations of the Solid Gold dancers. I enjoy the engaging song now, but I find it impossible to hear it and not hear Will Smith rapping about men in black.

Alessi – Put Away Your Love
from Long Time Friends
(debuted #87, peaked #71, 4 weeks on chart)

I had never heard Put Away Your Love or heard of Alessi before now. Apparently, the act consisted of twin brothers – Billy and Bobby – who released five albums in the late ’70s/early ’80s and whose greatest claim to fame was placing a song on the soundtrack to Ghostbusters.

After four albums that garnered little success, the brothers Alessi hooked up with Christopher Cross who produced Long Time Friends.

Cross was a light rock juggernaut at the time, having notched a string of hits and winning a slew of Grammy Awards over the previous two years, but Put Away Your Love is unmemorable and tepid.

(unlike Cross’ hits which, while arguably tepid, were, at least, memorable)

Bertie Higgins – Just Another Day In Paradise
from Just Another Day In Paradise
(debuted #86, peaked #46, 10 weeks on chart)

Just Another Day In Paradise was Bertie Higgins’ follow-up to his Top Ten hit Key Largo, a song that holds a strange fascination for me. I can’t say that I was (or am) a fan of that song, but it catches my attention when I hear it and I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because it’s sung by a man named Bertie, who now is a pirate and has fans who call themselves Boneheads. Or, maybe it’s because Key Largo strikes me as so odd, like seeing a two-headed kitten, that I’m merely puzzled by its existence.

As for Just Another Day In Paradise, it’s not a two-headed kitten but rather a soft rock trip into Jimmy Buffett territory sans the quirks, booze, and cheeseburgers.

Jimmy Hall – Fool For Your Love
from Cadillac Tracks
(debuted #83, peaked #77, 3 weeks on chart)

The other song here that I didn’t know was Fool For You Love by Jimmy Hall, who had been a founder and the lead singer of Southern rock band Wet Willie during the ’70s.

I can’t say that I’m familiar with Wet Willie aside from the name (which is only slightly better than Cosmic America) and the only thing I know previously knew by Hall was his work as a guest vocalist on guitar legend Jeff Beck’s 1985 Flash set, but Fool For Your Love is pleasant enough as it shuffles along goosed by some catchy harmonica.

.38 Special – Caught Up In You
from Special Forces
(debuted #82, peaked #10, 17 weeks on chart)

By the time .38 Special released Special Forces, the Southern band was already a radio staple in our part of the Midwest with songs like Rockin’ Into The Night, Hold on Loosely, and Fantasy Girl. Unlike their Southern rock brethern, .38 Special quickly evolved into a more polished act with a decidely arena rock/pop slant.

Though hardly reinventing fire, Caught Up In You sounded made for radio and I probably heard the song as much that summer as any hit at the time. It was written by Jim Peterik who also wrote a song that would prove to be the monster track of the year for his band Survivor.

Between Caught Up In You and Eye Of The Tiger, the summer of ’82 undoubtedly bumped Peterik into a higher tax bracket.

Ronnie Milsap – Any Day Now
from Inside
(debuted #81, peaked #14, 15 weeks on chart)

JB at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ looked at 1981 the other day, noted the number of country hits crossing over to the pop world and surmised it might have been “an admission by record labels and pop programmers that pop was out of ideas.”

Of course, a year later Ronnie Milsap was covering a song written by Burt Bacharach from twenty years earlier, so maybe everyone was out of ideas.

Despite my love for Burt Bacharach, if I want to hear Any Day Now, I want to hear soul singer Chuck Jackson’s original from 1962 which I wouldn’t become familiar with until hearing it on Bacharach’s box set The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection.

Karla Bonoff – Personally
from Wild Heart Of The Young
(debuted #79, peaked #19, 18 weeks on chart)

Singer/songwriter Karla Bonoff’s break came when she placed a trio of songs on Linda Ronstadt’s 1976 album Hasten Down The Wind as well as singing back-up for Ronstadt. Then, in 1982, Bonoff scored her lone Top 40 hit with a song written by someone else.

As much as I heard the coquettish Personally at the time, I’d have thought it was a much bigger hit.

Queen – Body Language
from Hot Space
(debuted #78, peaked #11, 14 weeks on chart)

As my attention was turning to music for the first time in the late ’70s/early ’80s, Queen was a behemoth, following earlier hits from Bohemian Rhapsody through We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions with the über-selling album The Game and the mammoth singles Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Another One Bites The Dust in 1980.

Then, the band’s now-classic duet with David Bowie, Under Pressure, was a relative failure in the States in early ’82 and that was followed by Hot Space, which alienated a lot of long-time fans with its emphasis on a sparse, funk sound.

(and, according to Wikipedia, the song’s accompanying video was the first to be banned by a fledgling MTV)

I didn’t care much for the slinky Body Language at the time, but the song – though hardly essential Queen – has grown on me over the years.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Crimson And Clover
from I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
(debuted #63, peaked #7, 15 weeks on chart)

Joan Jett’s I Love Rock N’ Roll was such an enormous smash in early 1982 that she could have belched the alphabet and had a follow-up hit. Instead, she opted to cover Tommy James’ Crimson And Clover.

The song already been getting heavy airplay on Q102 for a couple months before it was even released as a single and I recall it causing a bit of commotion when Jett, not altering the lyrics, sang, “Now I don’t hardly know her, but I think I could love her.”

M schoolmates and I had no idea who Tommy James was. It was one of our hipper teachers who played the original for us in homeroom one afternoon (as well as suggesting that the term “crimson and clover” was code for a roll in the hay).

We preferred Joan’s version and, after seeing the sleeve for the 45, we realized that, not only was she cool but a babe, too.