Welcome back, friends, to another fun-filled CHART ATTACK! We’ve now covered every year of the ’80s, and even though we’ve got a number of Mellow Golds in this post, I’m going to cover it anyway. So let’s backtrack to see what was happening the week of December 15, 1979!
10. Take The Long Way Home – Supertramp Amazon iTunes
9. Heartache Tonight – The Eagles Amazon iTunes
8. Do That To Me One More Time – The Captain & Tennille Amazon iTunes
7. You’re Only Lonely – J.D. Souther Amazon iTunes
6. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) – Barbra Streisand/Donna Summer Amazon iTunes
5. Send One Your Love – Stevie Wonder Amazon iTunes
4. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes Amazon
3. Please Don’t Go – K.C. & The Sunshine Band Amazon iTunes
2. Still – The Commodores Amazon iTunes
1. Babe – Styx Amazon iTunes
10. Take The Long Way Home – Supertramp (download) The final single off of their most successful album, Breakfast In America, this one peaked here and became the band’s last song to grace the Top 10. I’ve always loved this song, mainly because songwriter (and lead singer) Robert Hodgson was able to craft such a happy-sounding song around such sad lyrics. I’m a sucker for songwriters who can pull that off. (Barenaked Ladies do it all the time.) "Take The Long Way Home" sounds like it’s about taking the time to enjoy the things around you, but in truth, it’s about delaying inevitable reality. Love it!
9. Heartache Tonight – The Eagles You know that many Eagles songs were written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley, that some were co-written by "unofficial Eagle" J.D. Souther, and even that Jackson Browne had his hand in an Eagles tune or two. But did you know that Bob Seger gets a co-write on this one? Turns out that parts of this song had been lying around since the late ’60s, when Frey and Seger were frequent collaborators. One of the final Eagles singles from The Long Run, it eventually reached #1 and sold over a million copies. I’ve always loved Frey’s nitty-gritty vocal on this one.
8. Do That To Me One More Time – The Captain & Tennille See? This is why I don’t want to cover late ’70s/early ’80s charts: I deprive myself of good fodder for Mellow Gold! You don’t get any mellower than this. Not with that awful synthesized flute-ish solo or those dulcet keyboards. Dammit. Oh well. In any case, this song was their first single after signing with Casablanca Records, and while it did eventually hit #1 for one fleeting week in February (it spent an impressive 12 weeks on the Top 10, total), it proved to be their last substantial hit single. I should probably have snarkier things to say about this track, but I don’t, so I’m hoping you’ll come through for me in the comments, folks.
7. You’re Only Lonely – J.D. Souther Hooray for songwriting royalties – what a good week for J.D. Souther! The man hasn’t had many hits on his own, with "You’re Only Lonely" being his biggest single, so I had no idea what he sounded like. Turns out he’s a perfect blend of Glenn Frey and Roy Orbison. I thought maybe I was projecting the Orbison thing as a result of the similar title to "Only The Lonely," but everything I’m reading about Souther claims that he was indeed heavily influenced by Orbison. You could do a lot worse for influences, and at least he did it right – backing vocals courtesy of Phil Everly, and just about all the Eagles. This song, by the way, was influenced by his then-girlfriend, Linda Rondstadt.
6. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) – Barbra Streisand/Donna Summer This one was kind of a no-brainer at the time. Both artists were enjoying success with disco songs (Streisand, most recently, with "The Main Event," and Summer with…well, with a shitload of hits, including "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff"), and they had a writer in common: Paul Jabara had written "The Main Event" for Streisand (nominated for a Golden Globe) and "Last Dance" for Donna Summer (winner of an Oscar). Jabara was clearly well-versed in disco, and producer Giorgio Moroder had produced other Summer dance hits. All of these factors resulted in a #1 for Summer and Streisand in November of ’79. The radio version of this song ran just shy of five minutes, and if you think that was long…the album version was just shy of twelve. Twelve minutes! Oy. The first version of this song I ever heard, by the way, was Eddie Murphy’s version.
5. Send One Your Love – Stevie Wonder …and this is just about the time Stevie jumped the shark. There’s nothing actually wrong with "Send One Your Love," the song. It’s pretty. However, it comes from Stevie’s mostly-instrumental soundtrack double-album Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants. Remember that the album released before this one was Stevie’s two-LP masterpiece Songs In The Key Of Life. Although the album itself hit #4, fans and critics alike didn’t know what to make of it. It was, as mentioned, mainly instrumental, oversynthesized (it contains the first use of a digital sampling synthesizer), and conceptual without fans being able to relate much to the concept itself, as the documentary from which it was inspired was never released. If you’re interested, you can see a clip from the end of the film here, but be warned, you’ll spend half of it living in fear of Stevie falling down, as he’s walking dangerous terrain on his own, and there’s a closeup of his eyes at about 3:10. I don’t care if Stevie Wonder is a musical genius. His eyes are freaky.
4. Escape (The Piña Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes See Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 11 for my thoughts on this one. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
3. Please Don’t Go – K.C. & The Sunshine Band (download) Well shit, now, I’m going to call this song "the song that stopped Rupert Holmes" from having a straight #1 hit from 1979 to 1980." Stupid K.C.
Okay, you know how I’m often saying "and if you only know this song from the cover in (insert year here), I’m too old?" Um. Well. I had no idea this was a song by K.C. & The Sunshine Band. I first heard it as the cover version by KWS, which hit #6 in October of 1992. Didn’t know it until just now. That being said, I don’t like it. I didn’t like the KWS version, and I don’t like this version. I’m surprised this hit #1. It’s sappy, and K.C. is barely hitting that "gooooo" note in the chorus. Clearly, though, somebody loved it, and I’m going to include it for download so all of you (I KNOW it’s not just me) who didn’t know this was a K.C. song can hear the original.
2. Still – Commodores Man, it seems like just last week that we were discussing Lionel Richie’s ever-increasing dominance over the music of The Commodores. Oh wait, it was last week. When we covered "Oh No" in our Chart Attack! from 1981, Richie was at the tail-end of his Commodore reign. "Still" was a hit from 2 years earlier, and if Richie was eyeing a solo turn, it wasn’t yet apparent. What was apparent, however, was that the group, for better or for worse, was becoming the vehicle for Richie’s ballads more than the funk tunes for which they were originally known. "Still" was Richie’s sixth Top 10 for The Commodores, and their second (and final) #1. Although a little unfocused lyrically (like "Sail On" before it), it really is a great ballad – and you can’t beat the moment at the end of the song where Richie just quietly says the title of the song. After seeing him live, I can verify that the ladies go frickin’ crazy after he says it.
Because it wouldn’t be a Chart Attack! without a YouTube link, here’s an interesting (but not especially great) performance of a little "Three Times A Lady/Still" medley featuring The Commodores and Dionne Warwick. Look how young Lionel is! Actually, forget age, look at that Afro!
Lionel Richie was to the Afro what Richard Marx was to the Mullet. Discuss.
1. Babe – Styx Babe was the hit that Styx both needed and didn’t need. I think you probably know what I’m talking about. Don’t get me wrong – by 1979, Styx was doing quite well. However, only a couple of their singles had reached the Top 10. "Babe," as you can see here, hit #1 – and remains their biggest-selling single and the only Styx chart-topper. Plus, similar to our #2 song, it brought an increasingly varied (read: female) audience to the band. It’s done them well.
However, if anything was to prove that Dennis DeYoung was the true Styx "winner" over Tommy Shaw, "Babe" was just the thing. The two aforementioned Top 10 singles belonged to DeYoung, and "Babe" was merely an old DeYoung demo with the Panozzo brothers adding drums and bass. Shaw needed to be convinced it belonged on a Styx album, and his only contribution is the middle guitar solo; and yet, again, it’s their only #1 hit. It paved the way for such DeYoung projects as Kilroy Was Here, which was definitely not a favorite of Shaw’s. (Have you seen the "Behind The Music" episode? It’s priceless.)
I’m not here to argue who’s the better member of Styx (that’s what the comments section is for, duh), but I do get a chuckle thinking about what must have gone through Shaw’s head for 15 years every time he had to listen to that opening keyboard sound. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just like to think about Tommy Shaw getting angry.
And that’s it for another edition of CHART ATTACK! As always, thanks for reading, and see you here tomorrow for more Mellowmas!