Recently, the television provoked me into doing some research on one-hit wonders of the ’80s. As I live in the States, I noticed some of the striking differences between those with one Top 40 hit in the US and the UK.
Thomas Dolby and Tom Tom Club each only had one hit in the UK (as is the case here in the US).
However, in the UK, those lone hits were Hyperactive and Wordy Rappinghood, respectively – neither being the songs that were hits here.
(that would be She Blinded Me With Science and Genius Of Love).
But, perhaps the act that puzzled me most was Stevie Nicks.
Apparently, Stevie Nicks is a one-hit wonder in the UK during the decade of the ’80s.
Such a thing seems unfathomable. There were few female artists in the early ‘80s who had more music on the radio here in the States. Nicks’ first two solo albums, Bella Donna and The Wild Heart were massive.
One of the rock stations I listened to at the time would even play the hell out of something like Violet And Blue, a song from the Against All Odds soundtrack, simply because it was by Nicks.
And it’s not like Fleetwood Mac was a footnote act and for many fans – especially those who wouldn’t know Peter Green if he was taking potshots at them with an air rifle – Stevie was the soul of the band.
Apparently, few of those fans reside in the UK.
In the UK, her only ’80s Top 40 hit was in 1989 with Rooms On Fire, not a bad song, but it came well after her solo career had peaked in the US.
(she did hit #40 a couple years later with Sometimes It’s A Bitch, a collaboration with Jon Bon Jovi from her greatest hits compilation Timespace)
Why had the UK proven to be impervious to the charms of Ms. Nicks?
Was it all the twirling?
Was it the shawls and lace?
Was it that she sang a song glorifying a Welsh witch?
Here are four songs by Stevie Nicks…
Stevie Nicks – After the Glitter Fades
from Bella Donna (1981)
Bella Donna was inescapable when it came out in ’81 with its hits Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, Leather And Lace, and Edge Of Seventeen constantly on the radio.
Though I wanted nothing to do with it at the time – it was perilously close to country music – I now prefer the twangy, fourth single After The Glitter Fades which was more low-key and intimate than Bella Donna’s other hits.
Stevie Nicks – If Anyone Falls
from The Wild Heart (1983)
Leading off with the song Stand Back, Nicks’ follow-up to Bella Donna, The Wild Heart, picked up where the former left off in 1983. Despite my relative indifference to Bella Donna, I purchased a copy of The Wild Heart and, start to finish, I still think it’s her best solo album.
(though, I’ve only heard a handful of songs from her more recent releases).
And the clamorous If Anyone Falls would likely be my favorite track by Nicks as a solo artist.
(with Fleetwood Mac, it would undoubtedly be Sara).
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks – Needles And Pins
from Pack Up The Plantation: Live! (1986)
Nicks’ first solo hit, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, found her accompanied by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and The Wild Heart included a similar union with the song I Will Run To You.
However, I prefer their cover of a hit by The Searchers’ Needles And Pins – co-written by Sonny Bono – which appeared on Petty’s album Pack Up The Plantation: Live!
Stevie Nicks – Rooms On Fire
from The Other Side Of The Mirror (1989)
Rock A Little, Nicks’ third solo effort, was the last studio album of hers which I owned (though I did snag a promo copy of her Enchanted box set from a label rep). I thought it really suffered from the slick, glossy production which was the norm in the mid-‘80s.
There would be a four-year gap until Nicks’ next solo release in 1989 with The Other Side Of The Mirror (apparently it was inspired by Alice In Wonderland) which gave Stevie her only UK hit of the ’80s with Rooms On Fire.