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CHART ATTACK! #12: 12/15/79


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.

[youtube]6-ayshbwEBk[/youtube]

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!

  • David

    1979 is maybe my favorite year in American music, for many of the reasons you cite above. Look at that top ten list -– that’s variety, baby! R&B, Country Rock, Cheese, Ballads, Disco, perfect Pop … you don’t get that kinda mix anymore.

    Also, Tommy Shaw could kick your ass. Even if he is just 4’3″.

    http://jefitoblog.com/blog/?p=564

  • heather

    I have the 12 minute version of the summer/ streisand on lp somewhere (well maybe not anymore) and I remember loving it
    I wonder if I would still like it.

  • Matt

    To paraphrase Jack Black, Stevie Wonder jumped the shark the day he learned how to use a telephone. Having said that, Secret Life of Plants was mostly an overindulgent wank-fest, but pretty much every musical genius has dropped one of two of these. "Emancipation," "Some Time in New York City," "Self Portrait," or "Mighty Like a Rose," anyone?

  • Velma

    Okay, I have to confess to a fondness for "Babe," because it was the first song that I ever slow-danced to, back when I was in high school. It has no real redeeming virtues, apart from that sentimental value.

  • Man, I never thought I’d be posting to Chart Attack to defend Mighty Like a Rose.  Of all the late Costelo albums that get dismissed as self-indulgent twaddle, MLAR at least has several excellent songs, which seem to have got lost behind the schmaltzy sound of the arrangements and the fact that it has several of his very worst songs (a trait shared by Blood and Chocolate, which somehow frequently gets mentioned among Costello’s best, possibly because it was a much-ballyhooed return to rockin’).  Anyway, as bad as "Hurry Down Doomsday" and "Invasion Hit Parade" and "Playboy to a Man" and "Broken" are,"How To Be Dumb" and "Harpies Bizarre" and "So Like Candy" and "The Other Side of Summer" and "All Grown Up" and "Couldn’t Call It Unexpected" are all damned good IMO; "How To Be Dumb" is right up there with his most vicious songs and "Harpies Bizarre" is one of his best bitter little set pieces, and the others have great melodies and fine lyrics: some of his best lyrics are on MLAR.  I think a lot of people maybe never got past the sound of the album to the substance.  Or maybe I’m just insane on this one.

  • I know a lot of people whose first slow dance was "Babe".

  • Breakfast in America is like a poor man’s Rumours (which I don’t mean as an insult).  Like Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp moved from a very different style — almost a prog band, in Supertramp’s case — to a well oiled precision slick pop song machine.  I love that sound, but they sure lost their mastery in a hurry.

  • jb

    On “Do That To Me One More Time,” Toni Tennille always sounds to me like a PTA mom who’s mildly surprised that her balding insurance-agent husband of 17 years managed to get her off. And that synthesized flute-ish solo makes me want to hurl.

  • woofpop

    Hey, lay off of KC –  "Please Don’t Go" was THE couples skate song of 1979 – it always followed ‘Wishing On A Star’ by Rose Royce as we all went round and round…

  • woofpop

    Scraps,
    I second your assessment of MLAR. So Like Candy and Couldn’t Call It Unexpected  rule.

  • Dave

    I always thought it would be great to have a children’s chorus cover "Do That To Me One More Time".Or would that be sick?

  • I like to imagine Tommy Shaw being eaten by seals.

  • This is my third attempt at commenting. Safari, how dare you shut down on me when I’m trying to relay random thoughts.

    “Take the Long Way Home” holds up. “It’s Raining Again” from 1982 sure doesn’t. And for some reason I still like “Cannonball” from ’85, although the video featuring a Neanderthal no longer spooks me.

    “Heartache Tonight” is probably my favorite Eagles song. You can’t beat that stomp-and-clap rhythm. I always thought “Life in the Fast Lane” came from the “Long Run” album, but it didn’t. Truly exciting personal trivia: on Thanksgiving when I went to a karaoke bar, “Heartache Tonight” was sung by a friend of a friend before I sang “Escape.” Thanks for making it all possible, 12/15/79!

    JB, your comment about “Do That to Me One More Time” made me laugh. Is it true that “Muskrat Love” was first performed by America?

    J.D. Souther’s 1981 duet with James Taylor, “Her Town Too,” is a great song. It might even be a candidate for the “Mellow Gold” series. I’d have to listen to the lyrics again.

    Jason, I agree that Stevie started to jump the shark with “Send One Your Love.” Although 1980’s “Hotter Than July” had some gems on it (but why doesn’t anyone ever praise “Did I Hear You Say You Love Me,” the funkiest song on the album?), it was clear the ‘80s weren’t going to be as good as the ‘70s for Stevie. But my favorite of his ‘70s albums is “Fulfillingness’ First Finale,” which critics keep telling me was just a lateral move between “Innervisions” and “Songs in the Key of Life.” Fine, be that way.

    I’ve never liked Styx, but I would love to see a “Kilroy Was Here” tour video from ’83. The clip that was shown on “Behind the Music” was wonderfully horrible. Can you imagine going to see Styx in concert and having to put up with them trying to ACT? Yikes.

    I recently saw “The Virgin Suicides” for the first time, and in the school-dance scene “Come Sail Away” is played. In the pilot episode of “Freaks and Geeks,” the same song was played in the same kind of scene. The use of “Come Sail Away” in “Freaks and Geeks” was particularly powerful (especially because the main character thought it was a slow song and then was forced to actually dance with his crush once the tempo picked up), but it appears that “Virgin” was filmed first, yet it came out in theaters seven months after “Freaks” debuted. However, I’m pretty sure “Virgin” took place in 1975, and “Come Sail Away” didn’t come out until ’77. “Freaks and Geeks” took place in 1980-‘81. The judge has made his ruling — “Freaks and Geeks” wins. Hizzoner has a problem with anachronisms!

    One last thing — Tommy Shaw has to be David Spade’s older brother. I’d like to see some birth certificates.

  • America did do "Muskrat Love", but they didn’t write it or record it first.  Believe it or not, "Muskrat Love" — originally titled "Muskrat Candlelight" — was by a country songwriter named Willis Alan Ramsey, who recorded one album in 1972.  Not only that, but it’s an album that is considered a touchstone for the 1970s Texas country style, and songs from it have been covered by Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, Shawn Colvin, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Jimmy Buffett.  Lyle Lovett drew Ramsey out of retirement, and Ramsey has written a few songs with Lovett, including "That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas)".

  • Fulfillingness’ First Finale doesn’t get enough respect.  I think it’s the equal of Talking Book and Innervisions.  It’s reputation has possibly suffered in comparison because its hit singles ("You Haven’t Done Nothing" and "Boogie on Reggae Woman") are not quite the towering achievement of "Superstition" and "Higher Ground" and "You Are the Sunshine of My Life".  But it’s excellent from start to finish — even the incoherent "Heaven Is Ten Zillion Light Years Away" — and "They Won’t Go When I Go" is the spookiest song he ever recorded.

  • Thanks for the info, Scraps! I just recently discovered how good Lyle Lovett is.

  • I prefer “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” and “Boogie On” over “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” but that’s me. “Innervisions” is marred a bit for me by “Living for the City,” particularly the part in the middle that Prince Paul refers to as the original hip-hop skit. (I’m not sure if he said that with respect.) I just think “Fulfillingness” gets the job done from start to finish, but I’m also a sucker for underrated underdogs. Here’s another one — “Tuesday Heartbreak,” from “Talking Book.” Why isn’t that song praised to the high heavens? It’s a thrilling song.

  • I can’t distinguish between Fulfillingness, Talking Book, Innervisions or Songs In The Key Of Life when it comes to deciding which one is better.  They’re all unbelievable with one or two clunkers.  With you both all the way about "They Won’t Go" and "Tuesday Heartbreak."  I also think "Creepin’" is absolutely beautiful.

  • "You Haven’t Done Nothin’" is one of my favorites.  I meant that "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" is more famous.

    Despite having heard it a thousand times, "Sunshine" has grown on me over the years.  I think that I’d dismissed at as my mom’s radio fare for a long time.  Now I love the chord progression in the verse part, and every bit of melisma in Stevie’s singing.

    A couple other neglected songs: "Maybe Your Baby" has an amazing groove and doesn’t wear out its welcome at nearly seven minutes long.  And "Have a Talk with God" is one of his best laid-back funky songs.  I love the interplay between the harmonica and that awesome burbly keyboard.

  • You’re right, “Sunshine” is definitely more famous, and more likely to be heard on the radio these days. “Creepin'” is beautiful, as is “Smile Please.” And from “Music of My Mind,” the album right before “Talking Book,” the songs “Love Having You Around” (another seven-minute monster that’s good from start to finish) and “I Love Every Little Thing About You” are classics.

  • BD

    To understand Stevie Wonder’s genius as a singer — his genius as a songwriter and instrumentalist can be demonstrated any number of ways — listen to Stevie sing one of his slower songs and then listen to any Boys II Men-derived melisma-maniacal vocalist of the past 15 years. That’s the difference between a genius and a hack.It’ll be tough to top JB’s take on "Do That to Me One More Time." I’ll just add that it’s not necessarily a compliment to hear "once is never enough with a man like you." And underneath that stage smile, Toni Tennille looked like she could be a demanding taskmaster, didn’t she? And even when they were young, there was something about C&T that just made you say "ewwwww." Maybe it was the Captain’s sailor suits. Maybe it was the horrid percussion in this song (a common problem of this era and genre — even Gerry Rafferty’s excellent "Right Down the Line" has a few ill-timed claves hits). In this case, the clunky claves (or whatever it was) seemed to call to mind glasses clinking over a bar.So to me, this song was the equivalent of old Aunt Toni — who wasn’t even that old — showing up and smelling of stale cocktails, then making kissy-faces at her overbearing hubby. Again, "ewwww."And today, it sounds to me like a couple reminiscing about the days in which they had sex. Like the time before this "one more time" was actually about 10 years ago, not earlier in the evening."Behind the Music" with Styx is priceless, especially Tommy Shaw’s take on appearing at an overheated festival on the "Kilroy Was Here" tour, fully expecting that the crowd was going to eat them alive as he tried to get some sincerity behind those lines. (Disclaimer: I work with a relative of a current Styx member.)

  • BD

    Oh — and it’s Roger Hodgson, isn’t it?

  • I love that part of the Behind The Music, where he’s asking what’s going to happen when they get to "But Kilroy, what about the children of America?" or something.

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  • Ray

    Actually the BEST part of the Styx BEHIND THE MUSIC was where they showed the DAMN YANKEES concert where Tommy Shaw played the opening notes to BABE, then Ted Nugent came over and said "Hey Tommy, I think your guitar is out of tune there."  He then took the guitar from Tommy, raised it over his head then slammed it to the ground several times to wild applause.  This was truly one of the greatest ROFLMMFAO moments in BEHIND THE MUSIC history! 

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