CHART ATTACK! #19: 2/16/80


Welcome back, everybody, to yet another edition of CHART ATTACK!  I know I’ve been hanging out in the late ’80s/early ’90s for the past few weeks.  I can’t help it; those are the years where I know most of the songs like the back of my hand.  Still, there are many other years to cover, and there’s a lot of fun in learning new stuff about mediocre songs.  And wouldn’t you know it – that brings us to the Top 10 for this week: February 16, 1980!

10.  Desire – Andy Gibb  Amazon iTunes
9.  On The Radio – Donna Summer
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Longer – Dan Fogelberg  Amazon iTunes
7.  Sara – Fleetwood Mac  Amazon iTunes
6.  Yes, I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with K.C.  iTunes
5.  Rock With You – Michael Jackson  Amazon iTunes
4.  Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson  Amazon iTunes
3.  Coward Of The County – Kenny Rogers  Amazon iTunes
2.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen  Amazon iTunes
1.  Do That To Me One More Time – The Captain & Tennille  Amazon iTunes

10.  Desire – Andy Gibb  If you’re like me, you probably recognize that there’s a time and place for Bee Gee vocals.  Sometimes you really want to hear ’em; other times, you want to stick shards of glass in your ears in order to stop them.  If this is one of those bad days, don’t listen to this song.  (Here, I’ll make it easier for you by not offering it for download.)  I can take the trademark vocal sound most of the time, but when they are pathetically reduced to little more than repeatedly whining an "aaaah," it’s time for me to go.

"Desire" wasn’t really an Andy Gibb song, actually.  It was recorded by the Bee Gees (with Andy on guest lead) in 1979, but wasn’t included on any of their albums.  Gibb, who had enjoyed massive success in the late ’70s (he was the first artist to hit #1 with his first three consecutive releases), was starting to fade.  "Desire" was his last Top 10 in America, and taken from his final album.

9.  On The Radio – Donna Summer  Peaking at #5, "On The Radio" was one of Summer’s final disco hits before giving the finger to record label Casablanca and wisely moving away from the already present backlash.  Produced by longtime Summer collaborator Giorgio Moroder, you have to wonder whether Summer had just had it with the whole disco thing.  I mean, here’s a video of her performing "On The Radio," and she doesn’t move at all throughout the song.  I didn’t know it was possible.  I know I can’t help but shake my booty to this one.  The song was featured as the theme song to the movie Foxes, which  had a Moroder soundtrack and featured (among others) Jodie Foster and Scott Baio.  I honestly have no clue whether I want to see this movie or not.  I kind of do, but I kind of don’t.

8.  Longer – Dan Fogelberg  I’m gonna keep my commentary on "Longer" brief, because I think I could definitely hit this one up in a future Mellow Gold post.  Here’s some chart-relevant info, however: "Longer" is easily Fogelberg’s biggest commercial success, climbing up to #2 four weeks after this one, selling millions of copies – and yet, Fogelberg never thought that highly of it.  He felt it was just a simple, "classic love song," and not his best work.  Still, it will be played at weddings until the end of time.  Fogelberg, when asked if he received royalties from weddings, joked, "I receive a slice of cake from each wedding. I have filled a room with them, and someday hope to build, using them as the bricks of my future."

7.  Sara – Fleetwood Mac  Remember what I said above about the Bee Gee vocals?  I’m the same with Stevie Nicks, except that I almost never want to hear her sing anything.  Still, as Stevie vocals go, this one isn’t bad, and I think the opening to the song is quite beautiful.  A single released off of Tusk, "Sara" peaked here at #7.

There’s a lot of talk on the ‘net about this song, so personal to Stevie Nicks that she almost never plays it in concert, and mysterious to her fans.  Some claim it’s about the dissolution of her relationship with Mick Fleetwood (who went on to date – and marry, because this is Fleetwood Mac we’re talking about – Stevie’s friend Sara).  Others say it’s about the aborted lovechild she had with Don Henley.  There’s another camp that say it’s about Lindsey Buckingham (I think this camp is full of cop-outs; saying a Nicks song is about Buckingham is like shooting fish in a barrel).  Here’s what I say: why does anybody care what the hell Stevie Nicks is yapping about?  Seriously, when I went to see Fleetwood Mac in 2004, the audience was firmly broken up into two camps: the obsessive, we-all-wear-scarves-’cause-we’re-gypsies-too! Stevie fans, and everybody else.  I don’t get it.  But if you do, and you want to hear some deep interpretation of "Sara," have at it.  Rumor has it that this song was originally sixteen minutes long.  Would you listen to a sixteen-minute "Sara"?

6.  Yes, I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with K.C.  This song is a lot more interesting if you imagine they’re talking about trying anal sex for the first time.

5.  Rock With You – Michael Jackson (download)  The second single from Off The Wall, "Rock With You" marked the beginning of Jackson’s collaboration with ex-Heatwave member Rod Temperton, who also wrote "Thriller."  Temperton had to make some changes to the song, however, as its original title/hook line "I wanna eat you up" didn’t sit well with the Jackson camp.  The video was rather primitive by Jackson standards, featuring the singer in the most awkward-looking jumpsuit ever (hello, sequins!) against some colorful lights.  Still, it was probably one of the last times you could truly say that Jackson was really concentrating on just the music.

While checking out the above video, I noticed this other clip on YouTube of Jackson performing the song at a charity event in 1980.  The quality is awful, but while watching it, I was struck with a thought I hadn’t had before: in 1980, Michael Jackson was just a kid in his early ’20s trying to shed his childhood.  You can’t help but notice it in this performance.

[youtube]CWhyB5f-_h0[/youtube]

4.  Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson  How lame is it that I actually hadn’t heard the original version of this song until this week?  I don’t know how it got there, but I’ve had the 2000 cover by Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis on my iPod since 2002.  I actually really love the cover (Paltrow has a great voice, and who doesn’t love Huey Lewis?), but it’s hard to improve on the great Smokey Robinson.  "Cruisin’," which peaked here at #4, was Robinson’s first Top 20 hit as a solo artist, followed by "Being With You" in 1981.  I didn’t really have much else to say about this song, so (of course) I went searching on YouTube for a video.  I couldn’t find one of Smokey, but I did find an odd amateur video, and if anybody could explain it to me, it’d be much appreciated.

3.  Coward Of The County – Kenny Rogers (download)  Go on.  Explain to me why the hell this song was a hit.  My personal belief is that it must have just been because it was released at a time where, like many other artists, Kenny Rogers could just do no wrong.  The reason I believe this is because this song sucks.  First of all, it’s a complete – complete – ripoff of "The Gambler."  The chords are similar, there are similar key changes, even the whole narrative form is the same.  I guarantee you that, when each verse ends, you’ll be stopping yourself from singing "You gotta know when to hold ’em…"

And there is a story here: briefly, it’s about a dude (Tommy) who is known as the pussy coward of the county, mainly because his dad told him to never fight.  One day, three guys come around and rape his girlfriend Becky (uh…yeeee-hawww?), and Tommy beats the crap out of ’em.  You go, Tommy!  I’ll be honest with you, I actually was riveted when listening to the song for the first time, because I was convinced Tommy wasn’t going to do anything about it.  I’m walking down the street actually saying, "what the hell is he going to do NOW?" and generally looking like a crazy person any normal guy on the streets of NYC.

Moral of the story?  Our fathers are full of shit.  Don’t listen to them.  Stand up for yourself when your girlfriend gets assaulted, you sissies.

2.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen 
Damn, do I love "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" – not only because it’s a fantastic song, but it was released at a particularly fertile time for the band.  The Game featured many of Queen’s trademark rock touches, but also showed the group branching out in unfamiliar directions, most notably funk and, with this track, rockabilly.  Freddie Mercury reportedly wrote this song while in the bathtub, and brought it to his bandmates with almost all the parts completed.  The song is also notable because it doesn’t feature Brian May’s trademark Red Special guitar; instead, he plays the lead parts on a Telecaster.

It’s amusing to note that Mercury also reportedly wrote the song on guitar, since he couldn’t really play very well at all.  Live, Mercury originally opened the song on an acoustic, at least until the mid ’80s, when he switched to a tinny Telecaster (most likely because it was easier to play).  May would join him on an Ovation acoustic, before switching to the Telecaster and then the Red Special.  Three guitar changes, one song.  Here’s a video of the group playing the song at Live Aid.  I’ve never seen anybody strum a guitar like Freddie.  If you notice closely, at around 2:04 he completely turns down the volume on his guitar.  I’ve never heard him play any more than the opening.

[youtube]tFLdnI-iS44[/youtube]

1.  Do That To Me One More Time – The Captain & Tennille 
See #6.

(Actually, we’ve talked about this one before, in Chart Attack! #12, which covered 12/15/79.  Go read it, if only for the comments about this song, which cracked my shit up.)

And speaking of the ’70s, please come on back next Friday, when we’ll cover a Top 10 absolutely crawling with Gibbs!  Until then, have a great weekend and thanks for joining me for CHART ATTACK!

  • Crawling with Gibbs? Damn, that sounds like a tagline for a teen horror movie. "Don’t open the door. Don’t look under the bed. Don’t stare at the mirror, and don’t EVER recognize that tingling, slithering, itching feeling creeping over your skin… for if you do, your very flesh will be CRAWLING WITH GIBBS!!! AAAGGGHHH!! NOOOO!!! BECKY!! DON’T!!! GHAAAAH!!! TOMMY!! SAVE ME, YOU BIG WUS-PUSS!!"   (I probably woldn’t go to see that.) —- But I could probably handle a 16 min. Sara if 13 of those minutes was a lush Lindsey guitar solo. — DwD

  • You, sir, are a comedic genius.

  • Rock With You is one of the best pop songs ever written. I will not discuss this. Rod Temperton, whoever he is, is a goddamn genius.
     
    First of all, it’s a complete – complete – ripoff of "The Gambler."  The chords are similar, there are similar key changes, even the whole narrative form is the same.

    If you actually listened to Kenny Rogers (apart from his appearance with Lionel on CMT Crossroads, which I know you watch at least once a month, and should blog about) you would know that LOTS of his hit songs could be described that way, even Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love To Town) which is similarly narrative, but has a faster (almost funky) shuffle instead of the loping slow Gambler/Coward/Lucille beat.

    Yes, I am that whipped by my C&W loving girlfriend.

  • I actually just saw FOXES again this last weekend. I saw the first 45 minutes then turned it off. It didn’t hold up at all. "On The Radio" is all over it! The opening sequence even has an instrumental version of it. I loved when movies used to do that! You know, you’ll hear little refrains throughout the movie and then at the end they’ll bust out the whole thing with vocals and all.
    I always though Daryl Dragon’s name was wasted on him. It totally should belong to the bassist of Metal Church or something!

  • woofpop

    Ahhh, leave "Desire" alone – I think that it’s one of the best of the Gibb songs from that period (it totally could have been on ‘Sptirts Having Flown’ – and that’s a good  thing), as well as the best Andy song. This was the last period before the brothers started phoning it in and collaborating with everyone.. Check out Andy’s 1981 single ‘Time Is Time’ – also a really good song in retrospect..
    Michael, Rod Temperton was the creative force behind the band Heatwave (Boogie Nights, Always and Forever, The Groove Line..) I think he also wrote "Give Me The Night" by George Benson, so he’s a mellow demi-god; at least..
    Be thankful, oh younger posters, that you did not live through a time when one of those god-awful Kenny Rogers songs (and they all sucked in a really bad way) could come on the radio at any time (and they always did). Remember, there were a finite amount of audio choices in the cars of 1980, and Kenny was responsible for way too many wastes of radio station frequency back then.

  • Rod Temperton did write "Give Me the Night," which was my favorite song growing up.  I’d never noticed, but according to All Music, he wrote half the Give Me the Night album, including "Love x Love" and the instrumental "Off Broadway," which was used on SCTV as the theme music for Brock Linehan’s Stars in One talk show.  I loved that sketch.

    "I wanna eat you up"?  Good call, Jacksons.  It’s funny how great songs are put together piece by piece sometimes.

    It’s good to see Dan Fogelberg has a sense of humor.  I always liked his song "Heart Hotels."  Here’s a portion of an article I found online in 2003 that you might find funny:

    In 1996, I was working at the Sam Goody in City Center. That was the year Westerberg’s second solo album, Eventually, came out to a resounding chorus of critical and public apathy. One day I was playing the record in the back room of the store while affixing security tags to Method Man tapes or raising the price on Lion King videos. One of my co-workers was back there with me, taking her 15-minute lunch break, and she asked what I was listening to. When I told her, she smiled and said she had been a fan as a kid. This surprised me, since I hadn’t known this woman to go in for anything more obscure than a Phil Collins B-side. She may as well have claimed a youthful devotion to, say, the Iron City Houserockers or Trotsky Icepick.

    Anyway, one of Eventually‘s songs, "MamaDaddyDid," came on, in which the singer reveals his fear of "raising some messed-up kid, just like my mom and daddy did." It’s a very pretty and affecting song, one of several from the Westerbergian ’90s that didn’t get a fair shake.

    By the end of the track, my co-worker was crying, I mean really losing it. "That’s the best song he’s done since ‘Longer,’" she said as she got up to return to the sales floor. Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean. Higher than any bird ever flew. I had been right: She hadn’t been a Paul Westerberg fan back in the day, she’d been a Dan Fogelberg fan.
    ………..

    You hadn’t heard Smokey’s "Cruisin’" until now?  Blasphemy!  But we’ve all got songs or movies or books we still haven’t heard or seen or read.  I didn’t see Psycho or Casablanca until I was 26.  I didn’t see The Goonies until I was 27.  I still haven’t seen Gone With the Wind.  (Gee, which one of those movies is not legendary like the others, unless you grew up in the ’80s?)  I’m glad Smokey’s song became a hit despite its inclusion in the 1980 William Friedkin-Al Pacino bomb Cruising.  (Just kidding.)  Speaking of hit songs from flop films, I’d like to hear Gwyneth and Huey’s duet of "Cruisin’" again.  Was Gwyneth ever offered a one-off record deal?

    When I was little I remember my neighbor talking about how he’d heard that Kenny Rogers had solid-gold faucets in his bathrooms.  We thought that was mighty impressive.  Did any of you ever eat at Kenny Rogers’ Roasters?  There was one in Athens, GA, for a while.  I ate there once before I went to UGA for college and before that Seinfeld episode featured the franchise.

  • Robert–I don’t know what’s worse–someone mixing up Westerberg and Fogelberg, or then hearing the Westerberg song and thinking that it’s really Fogelberg singing. If Paul heard that, he’d….well he probably wouldn’t give a crap. He’s like that, it seems.
    Jason–that line about "Are You Ready" had me cracking the hell up, if for no other reason than the fact that, starting sometime in the last few years, I will occasionally sing the chorus to that song (sometimes out loud) with the words changed to:
    (Are you ready?) Yes I’m ready / (To get f*cked) In the anus….
    What’s that they say about great minds, huh?

  • Yes, Westerberg would probably just laugh.  I’ve never heard "Desire" before.  Or I don’t remember it.  I’ll have to look it up when I get home.

  • woofpop

    I LOVE that Westerfogelberg story.
    Kenny Roger’s Roasters – their mashed potatoes ruled heaven and earth.. But then, someone else bought the chain, screwed it up, and it was gone within a few months. The name is still part of this weird multiple hybrid restaurant chain that is still around – Miami Subs, Nathan’s Famous, Arthur Treachers’ Fish and Chips and K.R.R. – all chains that were good – once, but together – not at all. Can you tell it’s time for dinner?
     

  • Re: Kenny…I think he felt the time was right for another "story" song.  And say what you will about Michael Jackson, Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad are amazing albums.  "Rock With You" was such a pop genius song, that it makes we wonder what the hell was going on when he gave the thumbs up to the album Invincible?This one had me laughing pretty hard: 6.  Yes, I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with K.C.  This song is a lot more interesting if you imagine they’re talking about trying anal sex for the first time.

  • Guys, here’s a clip from "Yes, I’m Ready" followed by The Tubes’ "The Monkey Time". That’s Fee Waybill and Michele Gray on vocals. Is that a musical reference, or just a plain rip-off? Barbara Mason’s credited as songwriter on "Yes I’m Ready", Curtis Mayfield wrote "The Monkey Time". Any connection? Any ideas?
     
    From the Tubes "Outside Inside" album liner notes: "Bill Spooner (guitar/vocals) would like to thank his children for being tax write-offs. He also had nothing to do with "The Monkey Time"."
     
    Humorous, yes, but I do sense some tension here… (Tubes were soon to be history, they disbanded in 85-86).

  • Elaine

    Terje, a great find! According to the Internetz, “The Monkey Time” was written in 1963. Read on…

    [Barbara Mason] was born in Philadelphia in 1947 and used to sing in impromptu talent shows as a child. .. Producer/talent scout Weldon Arthur McDougual caught her act and brought her to the studio. She started with a small local label called Charger, then moved on to the Arctic label in Philadelphia, which had a better shot at distributing her records. Jimmy Bishop founded and owned Arctic and was a disc jockey at a large Philadelphia radio station. Barbara wrote all of her own songs while with Arctic and recorded songs in a small back room there. One such record would propel her into stardom.

    That record was originally titled “Are You Ready?” Barbara had been a big fan of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, who were making some good music in Chicago in the late 50’s and early 60’s. One song that Curtis had written and given to Major Lance, The Monkey Time, had particularly impressed her and became her inspiration for the song, which was re-titled “Yes, I’m Ready.” In the Spring of 1965 it was recorded by Barbara in the back room at Arctic in two takes, and the next day Jimmy Bishop began to play it on his radio show. More and more requests came in, and other DJs that Jimmy knew picked up on the song. Before too long, it reached the top forty and stayed there for ten weeks, peaking at the number five position. Barbara Mason was an international recording sensation before she was out of her teens.

    So they are connected, and the 1980 version was evidently a cover.

    And, yet another story of a hit song which began with deejays bucking program directors.

  • And all the pieces fall into place! I get goosebumps at the beauty of all this … interconnection…Awesome!

  • Elaine

    I searched around and found a copy of Barbara Mason’s original. I moved it so it’d remain available for awhile. (I located it on a blog entry from last August.) Enjoy!

    Couldn’t find a link for Desire. I must have heard it, but it doesn’t ring a bell.

  • Kim

    D’Angelo does a great cover of “Cruisin.” Also downloaded a great live version of his cover of EWF’s “Can’t Hide Love” recently. Check him out!

  • Obscure fact here: that version of The Tubes doing "The Monkey Time" is not even the original cover. Michelle Gray was overdubbed (not sure why), because the original issue of Outside/Inside had Fee Waybill and Motels uber-hottie Martha Davis duetting.

  • As always, I’m impressed as hell with all of your digging.  Fun, isn’t it?  Now I don’t feel so bad for eschewing any research at all in favor of a one-liner about anal sex.

  • Elaine

    Dw, really!? I guess I can faintly hear Martha Davis in that part .. in a Divinyls chick kind of way. (What was her name?) But why was that version scrubbed and redubbed? While I know very little Tubes trivia, I do know that album inside out. (Ha! I made a funny.) I also missed seeing the Tubes perform last weekend in southern CA. They’re still out there touring. When I saw them in the mid-90’s it was a really fun show.

    Jason, it *is* fun. Is there a way to get a full-time highly paid, excellent-perks kind of job doing this?

  • Elaine, if you find out, let us all know. 

  • Old Davy

    Yes, I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with K.C.  This song is a lot more interesting if you imagine they’re talking about trying anal sex for the first time.And in the middle of said sex act, K.C. starts singing "That’s the way uh huh uh huh I like it uh huh uh huh."

  • BD

    To be fair to Freddy, I recall a lot of Tom Petty videos in which I couldn’t discern anything he was allegedly playing. That guitar was lower in the mix than a Daniel Lanois bongo part.Better analogy: Lower in the mix than a Stevie Nicks "percussion" part. I remember in the reunion concert that she was swinging a tambourine wildly out of time. The kids in my Montessori school kept better time than that.But vocally? I’m somewhere between the gypsy women and "everyone else." Incidentally — I grew up in Athens, but I have only vague memories of the Kenny Rogers’ Roasters. I didn’t have my own transportation.

  • BD, I’m not good with street names, but you know how Broad Street downtown turns into, what, Atlanta Highway as you drive out toward the mall? Roasters was past the intersection of Atlanta Hwy. and Alps Rd. in a shopping center that may not be there anymore. It was a little bit down the road from the Kroger across the street that definitely isn’t there anymore. I went to Roasters my one and only time in January of ’94, and I think Roasters was still in Athens as of 1996.

    I listened to “Desire” yesterday. Not one of the Gibbs’ most original numbers, but it still made the top 10, so who cares!

  • jb

    "Coward of the County" . . . one of the most popular songs in the history of KDTH, Dubuque, Iowa, the station at which I was working weekends in early 1980. We were getting as many requests for it six months after it came out as we were when it was a hit. The best thing I can say about it was that with a running time of about four minutes, it gave DJs a good excuse to run to the bathroom.
    I heard it again not long ago. It’s still unbearable.

  • Ray

    Let me just say that your description of Teri DeSario and KC’s "Yes I’m Ready" (and Old Davy’s comment regarding the same song) are DEFINITELY not safe to be reading at the workplace… I’m getting lots of strange looks from my coworkers as I’m desperately trying to fight off the hysterical fit of laughter.