CHART ATTACK! #40: 7/12/80


Hooray for Friday!  The end of another work-week, and time to rip open another Top 10 from the vaults.  How about July 12, 1980?

10.  Let Me Love You Tonight – Pure Prairie League  Amazon iTunes
9.  Let’s Get Serious – Jermaine Jackson  Amazon iTunes
8.  Magic – Olivia Newton-John  Amazon iTunes
7.  Funkytown – Lipps Inc  Amazon iTunes
6.  Steal Away – Robbie Dupree  Amazon iTunes
5.  Cupid/I’ve Loved You For A Long Time – Spinners  Amazon iTunes
4.  Little Jeannie – Elton John  Amazon iTunes
3.  The Rose – Bette Midler  Amazon iTunes
2.  It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me – Billy Joel  Amazon iTunes
1.  Coming Up (Live at Glasgow) – Paul McCartney and Wings  Amazon iTunes

I feel confident in saying that this week in 1980 was seriously, seriously lacking in balls.  However, in addition to Nutless Week here at jasonhare.com, it’s also Lazy-Ass Week.  You’ll see.

(Seriously, when "It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me" is the hardest-hitting song on the charts, you’ve got one wussy week.)

10.  Let Me Love You Tonight – Pure Prairie League 

Lazy-Ass Song #1!  I don’t need to tell you much about this one, because I analyzed it to death (unfortunately, perhaps) in Mellow Gold #29.  Suffice it to say that "Let Me Love You Tonight" is what happens when David Sanborn and Vince Gill French-kiss.

9.  Let’s Get Serious – Jermaine Jackson

I try not to make a big deal about the sacrifices I make to put up Mellow Gold and Chart Attack! every week.  However, I think it’s important that you know that I listened to nearly eight freaking minutes of "Let’s Get Serious" for this week’s entry.  It’s not that the song is bad at all – it’s actually quite catchy.  I just don’t need more than two, maybe three minutes of Jermaine Jackson at any given moment in time.  No, two.

As I began listening, my first thought was: "Jermaine!  Stevie Wonder called.  He wants ‘Do I Do’ back."  And then, at 2:50 (fifty seconds after the track should have ended, in my opinion), there’s Stevie himself, riffing on the chorus and adding a typical kick-ass vocal.  Turns out Stevie wrote and produced "Let’s Get Serious."  I admit to being a little surprised, as this song would have been a strong single for him; why give it to Jermaine?  Well, let’s just say that Jermaine’s career wasn’t doing all that well.  And let’s just say that Jermaine was married to Berry Gordy’s daughter, Hazel.  And let’s just say that Berry Gordy heard Stevie working on "Let’s Get Serious," and…get the picture?

This song peaked here at #9, but don’t feel too bad for Jermaine.  He’s had an impressive (for him, anyway) seven hits within the span of thirteen years, including a #18 hit called "Let Me Tickle Your Fancy" with backing vocals by Devo.  (Sometimes these entries just write themselves.)

Here’s Jermaine in his best white-guy outfit on Soul Train.  I don’t know why they got an edited version of the song and yet I was forced to listen to the whole thing.

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8.  Magic – Olivia Newton-John

Lazy-Ass Song #2!

Behind a sensuous, rhythmic beat, chiming guitars, and strings that weave up and down through the arrangement, Newton-John actually conjures up what I feel is a dynamo performance: the sensuousness and passion she puts into the song, which normally ends up sounding like soft breathing, are perfect this time out. She actually fits within the tune perfectly–not just singing the song, but a true instrument.

No, that’s not me who has the hots for "Magic."  That’s our buddy Matthew Bolin, over at All-Time Champion, who listed "Magic" as his Secret Shame Song.  And I’m going to back up the Magic Man here (no, I didn’t come up with that nickname, that’s all him).  It’s not that I absolutely love "Magic," but I do happen to absolutely love Olivia Newton-John singing "Magic."  Check out this clip.  Hubba hubba!

[youtube]8sXLkKflnis[/youtube]

This is not an invitation to remind me that I still haven’t listened to ELO, but you guys know that Xanadu is on Broadway now, right?  And it actually got a good review?

7.  Funkytown – Lipps Inc

That sound you’re hearing?  That’s disco taking its last breath.  I think that "Funkytown" might actually be my favorite song on the Top 10 this week, which is saying so very little.  Anyway, Lipps Inc (say it out loud) was formed by Steven Greenberg, who wrote, produced, and played most of the music.  He hired Cynthia Johnson, a model and singer, to handle lead vocal duties.  "Funkytown" was their only hit, although it should be noted that they did attempt a disco cover of Ace’s Mellow Gold classic "How Long."  (Shudder)

I know I totally rely on YouTube clips more than I should.  (Then again, some might argue that anything that breaks up my rambling is a good thing.)  But I absolutely need to show you this clip of two random women performing "Funkytown" on a television program.  The one girl, in black, is totally hot and a great dancer, although she doesn’t actually seem to do anything.  However, the girl "singing" lead is freaking my shit out.  I feel like if I stare at her too long, lasers are going to shoot out of her eyeballs and kill me. 

[youtube]3BiuttQl0xM[/youtube]

As you may remember, this song was covered by Pseudo Echo in 1987 for no apparent reason.

6.  Steal Away – Robbie Dupree 

Lazy-Ass Song #3!  "Steal Away" was covered way back in the early days (you know, September) of this site during our very first Mellow Gold mission, and I want you to know that my anger hasn’t faded one iota since then.  I still maintain that Dupree lifted this entire hook from my hero, Michael McDonald.  However, I’m trying not to focus on my anger.  At least something good came out of it, and I got to have a fun on-air conversation with radio legend Bob Shannon.  Yeah, I know I’m all about Bob this week, but dammit, he brought a tear to my eye when he returned to WCBS-FM yesterday and said his first words: "As I was about to say…"  Congrats, Bob!

5.  Cupid/I’ve Loved You For A Long Time – The Spinners

Let’s give kudos to The Spinners for their relatively consistent appearances on the US Hot 100 between 1972 and 1980, but this medley was pretty much the end of the line for them.  They had enjoyed great success with their "Working My Way Back to You"/"Forgive Me Girl" medley in 1979, climbing all the way to #2, so a repeat performance seemed like a smart move.  It was – this medley reached #4 – but their third attempt the next year didn’t even crack the Top 50.  I feel like the cards fell right where they should – their first medley was undoubtedly their strongest.

4.  Little Jeannie – Elton John (download)

I don’t want to like "Little Jeannie."  I feel like I shouldn’t like "Little Jeannie."  Not when it’s stuck being compared to, you know, anything Elton John released between 1970 and 1976.  But if I close my eyes real hard and pretend that this isn’t really Elton, I find that there’s something I just really like about it.  Especially that "you stepped into my life from a bad dream" refrain.  I could probably sing that all day.  Lame, right?  I feel the same about other songs from Elton’s "boring period" – "Kiss The Bride," "Mama Can’t Buy You Love," and "Nikita."  Wow, that’s a six-year span of boring.  This is what happens when you combine the massive drugs with the whole "marrying a girl" thing, I guess.  At least he didn’t put his head back in the oven.

3.  The Rose – Bette Midler 

I’d love to be able to hear this song and not think of all the people I’ve heard butcher it over the years.  Doesn’t matter where:  school, summer camp, auditions, talent shows…everybody wants to sing "The Rose."  I think it’s some teenage female rite of passage.  Still, it’s the best song Bette Midler has ever had on the charts.  Then again, the competition is stuff like "From A Distance," "Wind Beneath My Wings" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

If you have a soft spot for this song, you can read about its history at songwriter Amanda McBroom’s webpage.  Scary to think that McBroom found her inspiration only after hearing Leo Sayer on the radio.

2.  It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me – Billy Joel 

I like this song.  But then again, I don’t have a choice.  I’m from Long Island.  We’re required to like Billy Joel, especially songs that reference our fine, um, island.  This one namechecks the Miracle Mile – a long (a mile, perhaps?) stretch of stores along Northern Boulevard in Manhasset.  The main area of stores on the Miracle Mile is in a section called The Americana, and growing up, I went there every week or so because it housed the closest music store to my home, Record World.  It was just about the only store in The Americana that I could afford.  I guess I should start talking about Billy Joel now.

Taken from Billy’s "rock album" (which I only say to piss off Jeff), "It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me" was the first Billy Joel song to hit #1 (which it did a week later), and not a piano note anywhere.  Also notable is the fact that this song is from the era in which Billy Joel let his hair get totally out of control.

I recently downloaded a fantastic pro-shot DVD from Billy’s recent concert in Tokyo (you can find it on Dime if you have membership there), and in watching the whole show start-to-finish, I was reminded that Billy and his band know exactly when to place a song in a set.  Billy goes nonstop from "Big Shot" to "Rock and Roll" to "You May Be Right," and it packs a powerful punch.  Plus, he’s quite amusing when he puts away the piano and sings without any instruments.  I’m a sucker for his microphone stand tricks – I’d do half of them if only I didn’t run the risk of hitting one of our guitarists.  Here’s the version from Tokyo.

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1.  Coming Up (live at Glasgow) – Paul McCartney & Wings  (download)

Thankfully, it was the live version of this song that reached the top of the charts, because quite honestly, the studio version is horrible: apart from being a half-step lower, it doesn’t capture any of the joy, fun and overall optimism of this version.  Plus some really fun horns.  McCartney was writing lots of mindless, fun songs during this era: songs like "Goodnight Tonight,"  "Wonderful Christmastime," and "With A Little Luck," which all did quite well.  I would have guessed that John Lennon would have wound up banging his head on the table in frustration at a song like "Coming Up," but the truth is that the song reportedly inspired him to start recording again.

And here’s the video, featuring Macca times ten, in a group called "The Plastic Macs."  The results are much more interesting than when he repeated the idea for stupid "Ebony And Ivory."

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The interesting thing about "Coming Up" is that the live version was included as the B-side to the studio version, and US jockeys completely ignored the A-side altogether.  Macca’s American record company encouraged him to put the live version on the upcoming release of McCartney II, but he refused – as a compromise, the live version was included on a 45 along with the album.  As the live version was topping the US charts, the studio version was reaching #2 in the UK.  Go figure.

And so we close another week.  We laughed, we cried, we made fun of Billy Joel’s hair.  Can’t ask for more than that.  See you next week for another CHART ATTACK!

  • Clive Barnes ain’t havin’ any of it!  From IMDB’s news page:

    Hollywood Flop May Become Broadway Smash

    Broadway has apparently turned Hollywood on its head by turning the 1980 musical flop Xanadu into a stage hit. By and large, the show, which opened Tuesday night, has received enthusiastic reviews. Calling it an "outlandishly enjoyable stage spoof," New York Times stage critic Charles Isherwood writes that it is "simultaneously indefensible and irresistible." Isherwood concludes: "The show’s winking attitude toward its own aesthetic abjectness can be summed up thus: If you can’t beat ’em, slap on some roller skates and join ’em." Linda Winer in Newsday calls the show "a grand little piece of smart dumb fun." And Joe Dzienmianowicz, in the New York Daily News calls it "eye and ear candy that’s delightfully inspiring … a cure for summertime blues." But Clive Barnes in the New York Post isn’t buying any of that. Noting that the original movie was credited with killing off the large-scale Hollywood musical for more than two decades, Barnes suggests that the only thing "not awful" about the Broadway show is the music. "That, I suppose, is the only goodish news of an absolutely ghastly show" in which the performers all have "to keep their tongues in their cheeks for so long it must give them earaches," he remarks.

  • God! What an shitty week for pop music. I was one of those suckers who bought McCarnety II because I liked "Coming Up (Live)."  I don’t think I got past "Temporary Secretary" (second song) on the LP and was amazed how much "Coming Up" (studio version) sucked.   

  • Lipps Inc. will always have a place in my heart for their satire of 80s fashionistas, "Designer Music."
    Wow. I hadn’t thought of "Magdalena" in years. Hard to go wrong with Danny O’Keefe, even if you’re Leo Sayer.

  • Mad props Jason for the shout-out. I was so touched I actually did the unthinkable, and updated All Time Champion today. Hope you and the other Jay-Heads (is that the appropriate name for us fans of yours?) enjoy deep Kinks tracks.Turning to the chart,  I would say that Elton John’s "boring period" extends all the way from everything after Blue Moves until Reg Strikes Back. That’s like a decade of boredom, interupted only by the Two Low for Zero album, which has "Kiss the Bride", "I Guess That’s Why They…", "I’m Still Standing", and even a couple of choice filler tracks, like the title song, something of which he wouldn’t really have (that is, really good album cuts) until-again-Reg Strikes Back, which opwns with one of my favorite EJ songs of all time, "Town of Plenty", featuring Pete Townshend on guitar.Finally, to tie John directly to his tour-mate, I really think Billy Joel needs to spring for some of those expensive Elton John hair plugs. I just…I mean…I know it sounds shallow, but it just seems that so much of Joel’s personality was his mop, and now it’s just all gone. And with it, his desire to write pop music. It was like he was the Long Island Samson or somthing. Damn, I’m just depressed thinking about it. Time to go play Turnstiles.

  • Dw Dunphy

    Haah-ha-ha-ha-haaa!!! Oh God, that "Funkytown" clip is insane! The pink-outfit chick makes me think of what a really, really, REALLY high Amy Poehler would look like. I laughed until I peed a bit.

  • Dw Dunphy

    As far as Billy Joel goes, I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: how much does it suck that a third of your catalog is devoted to, and now reminds you you’re not involved with, this...

  • Dw Dunphy

    Me again.Okay, I recognize Paul McCartney as Buddy Holly in the "Coming Up" video, but is he really imitating Ron Mael of Sparks on the keyboards?

  • Stephen

    "Wonderful Christmastime" is not fun. It is the most evil and vile piece of filth ever set to tape. It’s horrid. That said, "Coming Up" is the shiznit.

  • Stephen

    Oh and "Waterfalls" from McCartney II is actually pretty great. The Canadian band Sloan did a teriffic version of it for a tribute a couple of years back, and it easily tops the original.

  • Rebecca

    I can understand the Lennon connection on “Coming Up” since it’s one of the only McCartney songs I like. The song is just plain fun and the verse is very Lennon-esque in production and phrasing so I can see why he liked it. In the video, my favorite is Paul McYoder on drums. I don’t know who he’s supposed to be, but he sure looks Amish to me.

    Oh, and I was forced to sing “The Rose” at my aunt’s wedding as their recessional. She put everyone in Civil War garb too. No wonder why no one in the family talks to her any more.

  • Dan

    I too am from the Island of Long. I’m a bit older that Jason. There was a time when I was a huge fan of Billy Joel, but that time probably ended in the mid-80s. Around 1980 a college buddy had let me copy his crummy cassette copy of a live Billy Joel show he had taped off the radio.  Billy Joel was the shit then and this show proved it. Really rocked. I must have listened to that crappy copy of a crummy tape 500 times. I still have it.
    Imagine my glee when I found that exact show posted here: http://notthatyoung.blogspot.com/2007/06/bottle-of-red.html. The links are still good. Go get this.  You’ll see what all the fuss was about. Drummer Liberty Devito was a madman.  This is about a year after Born to Run came out and there is a lot of sax in this show. Billy Joel could write some great songs.
    P.S. For people that don’t know, the LEAST expensive stores on the Miracle Mile are probably the Coach store, Crate and Barrel and Williams Sonoma. This is not a place where kids hang out and spend their allowance.
     

  • reader

    More on the Lennon/Coming Up connection. Not only did John really like the song, he apparently believed that in the lyrics Paul was talking directly to him. Maybe that’s why it also encouaged him to get writing again. Also, John preferred what he called the ‘freaky’ version, meaning the studio version. There’s a video on YouTube where he discussed this. He says that if he had still been with Paul, he would have told him to ignore the record company and release that version.
    I’ve always thought the lyrics of With a Little Luck sound like they were written to John as well.
     

  • I don’t think I’ve ever heard the studio version of “Coming Up.” I’ll have to look that one up.

    I think I read that Elton John has a really kickass $20,000 toupee, not hair plugs. I, for one, am glad Billy Joel went bald gracefully. Yeah, his hair disappeared in what seemed like a day, so I still do a double take myself when I see him, but I do a double take when I look at my own lack of hair in the mirror. We don’t like being reminded that our heroes are mortal just like us. As the blog that Dan linked to says, “Maybe We Ain’t That Young Anymore.”

    I like “Wonderful Christmas Time” much more than “Waterfalls,” but I am interested in hearing Sloan’s version of the latter now. De La Soul sampled the former for their song “Simply.”

    I have a feeling Stevie Wonder didn’t care too much about losing “Let’s Get Serious.” He probably said to Gordy, “You want this one? Take it. I got 600 more in my vault that are even better, asshole!” (Everybody knows Stevie Wonder is an angry, belligerent jerk. A genius, but soooooo angry.) Off the top of my head I know that Wonder wrote or cowrote “It’s a Shame” for the Spinners, “Tears of a Clown” for the Miracles, and “Tell Me Something Good” for Rufus. Wasn’t Jermaine’s marriage to Gordy’s daughter the reason he stayed with Motown when the other Jacksons departed for Epic?

    I like Pseudo Echo’s cover of “Funkytown” more than the original, and I love disco. Maybe it’s because the original’s so robotic.

    I’m right with you on “Little Jeannie,” Jason. I heard it too much growing up, so I don’t want to like it anymore, but that refrain … sigh … it melts me. Like Homer with that giant subway sandwich that gave him food poisoning, all I can say to this song is “How can I stay mad at you?”

  • Jason, you’ll be happy to know that on Disc Two of Time-Life’s “Classic Soft Rock: Summer Breeze,” “Steal Away” immediately follows “What a Fool Believes.” Smart sequencing on Time-Life’s part (but I’m going to give credit to a Rhino employee for that clever decision).

    I forgot to say over the weekend that “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” is one of my favorite Elton John songs. I need to say it! Another good one from his 1977 “Thom Bell Sessions” is “Are You Ready for Love,” which became a hit in the UK in 2003 (I’m not sure if it was a hit in the ’70s there).

  • I just heard the studio version of "Coming Up" for the first time.  I agree that the live version is better, but I like the studio version quite a bit.  It’s quirky, but not in a cutesy way.

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  • Ray

    I remember Lipps, Inc. quite well. Back in 1979 in Chicago we endured FM station WDAI that went from album rock to “Disco ‘DAI” literally overnight. About six full months before Funkytown, WDAI played a pretty cool Lipps, Inc. track called “Rock It”, which was quite a bit edgier than most disco tunes of the day. What was also pretty funny is that the folks at the station apparently didn’t get the wordplay in the group’s name and referred to them as “Lipps, Incorporated” (no lie!)

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