CHART ATTACK! #42: 7/30/83


Welcome back to another exciting Friday!  Before we start this week’s attack, I just want to thank those of you who e-mailed and offered to send me the i-Ten album that we referenced last week.  I now have it, thanks to Kurt (who, like all rock stars, is out of retirement), and I think it’s the greatest album Foreigner ever released.  So here’s their original version of "Alone," later made hugely famous by Heart.

I-Ten – Alone (download)

Now, back to this week – July 30, 1983!

10.  Our House – Madness  Amazon iTunes
9.  Stand Back – Stevie Nicks  Amazon iTunes
8.  She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer  Amazon iTunes
7.  Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Michael Jackson  Amazon iTunes
6.  Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics  Amazon iTunes
5.  Is There Something I Should Know? – Duran Duran  Amazon iTunes
4.  Never Gonna Let You Go – Sergio Mendes  Amazon iTunes
3.  Flashdance…What A Feeling – Irene Cara  Amazon
2.  Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant  Amazon
1.  Every Breath You Take – The Police  Amazon iTunes

10.  Our House – Madness (download)

In general, I really don’t have a problem with artists who sell their songs for commercial use.  (You know, being a Who fan and all.)  However, if you’re gonna use the song, at least keep the original version, huh?  This Maxwell House off-key mangling of "Our House" really gets on my nerves.  Anyway, like System last week, I had no idea who sang this song until recently.  (No word as to whether Jeff has, had or lost the Madness CD – although he now has the System CD, heh heh.)  I’d love to call Madness a one-hit wonder, but I’m sure a number of you would remind me that they also had a #33 hit with "It Must Be Love" – which was also altered for use in a commercial for a British bank. 

Anything else interesting I can tell you about Madness?  They released a song called "Michael Caine" that actually featured Michael Caine in the video, but that’s not really so interesting.  Everybody knows Michael Caine will appear in anything.  I have the feeling there are probably some Madness fans reading this, so I’ll leave you to educate the rest of us regarding the finer points of the band.  (Yeah, I get lazy sometimes.)

Enjoy this version of "Our House," which is a slightly extended mix!

9.  Stand Back – Stevie Nicks 

All that I know about "Stand Back," I learned from our reader Elaine.  Elaine informed me that "Stand Back" was written by Stevie after hearing "Little Red Corvette."  You can find more information here.  Here’s a portion of the story, bolded emphasis mine:

I got married the day I wrote this song. We were driving to Santa Barbara and a new song by Prince came on, so we pulled over somewhere and got the tape. It just gave me an incredible idea, so I spent many hours that night writing a song about some kind of crazy argument, and it was to become one of the most important of my songs.

News Flash: don’t marry Stevie Nicks.  Worst wedding night ever!  Thanks, Elaine, for relaying the story and pointing out that Nicks is, apparently, a dedicated musician but a piss-poor wife.

As you’ll read in that link, Prince actually played the synths on "Stand Back" but declined to be credited.  (Wonder why.)  Elaine has requested that Mike and I, for Acoustic ’80s, perform a "Stand Back"/"Little Red Corvette" medley.  As soon as we stop obsessing over the chord changes in "Caribbean Queen," we’ll give it a shot.

By the way, I saw Fleetwood Mac live in 2003, when they were touring in support of Say You Will.  It’s always interesting to see how Fleetwood Mac fans are really split – they’re either Stevie fans, or they’re not.  Much like the Eagles a few years back, long ago the Mac decided it was in their best interests to include her massive hit in their set.  (What, no "Holiday Road" in tribute to Lindsey?  Grrr.) 

Well, there’s this one moment during "Stand Back" where she spins in a circle.  Maybe 10 times.  Not very fast, because she’s a big girl.  But the crowd goes wild.  It’s like when Townshend smashes a guitar.  I don’t get it.  She’s just spinning.  Now, if she fell down afterwards, I’d go wild.  Or if she did it while eating a pizza (a whole pizza, not just a slice) or maybe a donut.

There are a zillion "Stand Back" videos on YouTube (because Stevie Nicks fans are rabid), but I really like this one.  Liberty Devitto is on the drums.  Nicks is dancing all over the place.  The best part, however, is when a d-bag in pleated khakis and a leather jacket leaps into frame and starts this dramatic pas de deux with Nicks.  All she does is flip her head back on each cymbal crash, oddly reminding me of Miss Piggy.  Then, suddenly, he’s gone again.

[youtube]En_-Iwyypx0[/youtube]

Jesus.  Seven paragraphs on "Stand Back."  Shoot me.

8.  She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer
 

As the legend goes, Donna Summer was eating at Chasen’s Restaurant in Beverly HIlls.  When she went to the bathroom, she found the attendant fast asleep.  The attendant woke up and apologized, explaining that she was dog-tired after working two jobs.  Summer found her inspiration for the song from this incident, and featured the attendant, Onetta Jackson, on the back cover of the LP.  (Unfortunately, time constraints have prevented me from finding an image, but if you can track it down, let me know.)

I remember the original video fondly, although I’m not sure if I realized how similar she looked to Rick James at the time.  However, here’s a video of an "acapella mix" of the song.  I’m at least calling partial bullshit on this clip (at around 2:13, she sings but the microphone’s point out to the audience), but I have to admit it’s really well done – and does showcase Summer’s wonderful voice.  She-male comments aside, she gets nothing but love from me.  She’s one of the staples of CHART ATTACK!, after all, along with Tom Kelly.

[youtube]Dr2oygZjL2E[/youtube]

7.  Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Michael Jackson

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post entitled "Thriller Revisited" over at my previous blog which pretty much sums up my feelings about this album.  Written back during the Off The Wall sessions, "Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’" is an unbelievable track, and the perfect lead-off to Thriller: full of energy and promises, and thankfully, none of the tracks that follow disappoint.

Granted, I have no idea what MJ is talking about when he puts forth accusations of the listener being either a vegetable or a buffet, but I agree that if you can’t feed the baby, then don’t have the baby.  And I haven’t even mentioned "mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ma-coo-sa," which was lifted from saxophonist Manu Dibango’s "Soul Makossa," widely considered to be one of the first disco songs.  Thanks to Robert, here’s the track:

Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa (download)

Dibango did sue Jackson, incidentally, and wound up with an out-of-court settlement.  I’m not sure of the terms, but I’d be willing to bet that he wound up with more money than Jackson has at this point in time.

6.  Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics 

I feel no shame in telling all of you that, as a kid, Annie Lennox scared the crap out of me.  What, she didn’t frighten you?  I mean, I just didn’t know what she was:  Boy?  Girl?  Bowie?  It was a mystery to me.  It’s true that I was six and also in the habit of confusing Cyndi Lauper with Madonna, but I don’t think I can be blamed for this one.  "Sweet Dreams" remains the group’s only chart-topper, which is a shame when you think of some of the other fantastic songs they’ve released.

Here’s a nifty mash-up of "Sweet Dreams" and "Seven Nation Army," notable because the video is a mash-up as well.  I can’t even imagine how much time it took to put this together.

[youtube]hT5eJwgAtvY[/youtube]

5.  Is There Something I Should Know? – Duran Duran

I know it’s my fault ’cause I pick the weeks, but man, I can’t believe I have to write about Duran Duran again.  I’d just like to give the Durans credit for adding to all the exciting punctuation happening this week.  Parentheses!  Apostrophes!  (That wild man Michael Jackson had TWO!  Two in one song!)  And now, a question mark!  Bravo, Durans!

"Is There Something I Should Know?" was only included on an album in the U.S., specifically when Capitol re-issued their ’81 debut album following the success of "Rio."  In England, it was released as a stand-alone single.

Did I mention the question mark thing?

4.  Never Gonna Let You Go – Sergio Mendes

What?  You haven’t read Mellow Gold #4, where we totally discussed this song, its multiple keys, its phantom singers, and featured a picture of Sergio Mendes with a pepper in his mouth?  Go, go, go!  (Psssst…the download’s back up, too.)

3.  Flashdance…What A Feeling – Irene Cara 

Punctuation rules 7/20/83 once more!  An ellipsis!  And a completely unnecessary ellipsis at that!  I mean, with all the parenthetical abuse going on at the time, why didn’t they just throw ’em in here?   "Flashdance (What A Feeling)" works just fine.  So does "Fl(ash)dance (What A Fee)ling."

Anyway, "Flashdance…………..What A Feeling" went on to win Best Song at the Academy Awards, as well as Best Female Pop Vocal at the Grammy Awards.  Just one of many Giorgio Moroder soundtrack hits, you cannot beat a song that features backing vocalists enthusiastically insisting "I am music now!" and "I am rhythm now!"  You can almost see the jazz hands, can’t you?  And as you may recall, a few months ago, Jeff and I totally outed Joe "Bean" Esposito as one of the backing vocalists.  We asked him if he had any qualms about singing those lines (he wa$ plea$ed to $ing them), but forgot to ask him about the jazz hands.  Dammit!

2.  Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant (download

Hey, have you seen Eddy Grant lately?  He looks great:

Oh wait, my bad.  That’s not Eddy Grant.  That’s Billy Ocean.  I shit you not.  He played his first concert on U.S. soil in 18 years last week – a free show in Coney Island with Air Supply.  Couldn’t we have done something a bit better for Mr. Ocean?  His first show in 18 years?  Jesus.

Anyway, about Eddy Grant and "Electric Avenue."  I love this song.  It’s ’80s synth mastery at its very finest.  Name the last time you heard a song this varied and funky that only contained one (one!) chord.  Plus, it’s about social ills!  (Not that I’ve ever taken the time to figure out the lyrics!)  Grant was doing a good thing with this song.  And how did we repay him?  Well…we didn’t.  Although I’m certain he’s probably doing pretty well off the "Electric Avenue" royalties.  Catch up with Eddy Grant at his MySpace page, where you can purchase the two-disc (two!) Hit Collection.  (Two!  Good God!)

Here’s the video, featuring Eddy Grant’s death stare, as well as a scene where the living room floor becomes water.  I think Billy Joel did this in "Pressure," too.

[youtube]vtPk5IUbdH0[/youtube]

1.  Every Breath You Take – The Police

it’s hard to come up with anything interesting to say about this song that hasn’t been said before.  I know I liked it at one point – it’s a good song  but I can’t remember the last time I allowed it to play on either my iPod or the radio from start to finish.  (Guess it’s just me: according to CBS News, Sting pulls in almost $2000 a day from this song’s royalties.)  I do love the guitar riff, and I love loving the guitar riff, since Sting brought the just-about-completed song to the band and Andy Summers recorded his part on the spot, in one take.

I’ll be seeing The Police next Wednesday, so it’ll be interesting to hear the band’s 2007 interpretation of this song.  (I’m just kidding: no, it won’t.  It’s likely to sound exactly the way it did back in 1983, and the audience will go wild, and I’ll patiently wait for Summers to play a bum note and get the stare-of-death from Sting.)

Another week, come and gone.  Dry your eyes – we’ll be back next Friday for another edition of CHART ATTACK!  Thanks for reading!

  • I do have a Madness CD, actually. Just not this one.

  • (scrambles over to Amazon)

  • Jonah

    Good God!  What a week for music, honestly!  Not a bum song in there.  Just proving that 1983-84 was perhaps the greatest time for Top 40 radio in my 29 year-old lifetime.

  • Madness were huge in England.  I mean, they were the most popular band in the country for years.Their singles are really, really good.  If you have time, check out "Baggy Trousers", "Grey Day", "House of Fun"…. was "House of Fun" not an American charter?  It got a fair amount of MTV play.

  • "Every Breath You Take" is great fun for improvising dumb lyrics.  Every clam you bake, every thirst you slake, I’ll be watching you.I know I’ll get shit for this, but "Sweet Dreams" has always seemed to me about the most fatuous song ever.  It is literally a  string of stock phrases; there’s not an original phrase or thought in the whole damned thing.  Combine that with their so-cool affect and I want to throw things at them.  Plus it is the single worst offender on "use/abuse", number one on the list of rhymes that should be banned for the next twenty years.

  • woofpop

    Yes. Madness were HUGE huge in England, and, because of that, they had done several "promo clips", so MTV was all over them from the start. I’m sure that led to the Geffen Madness album, which was a compilation, and is a good place to start. Most everything on there is extremely catchy. If you like that, go backward chronologically from there, and WAIT!!! I can’t type anymore – that I-Ten song is playing for the second time. Good God – that’s some bad crap! That record might be the winning argument that all in 1983 wasn’t musical perfection..

  • Scraps!  If I had known it would take Madness to bring you back, I would have covered them ages ago!

    "House of Fun" definitely didn’t make Billboard charts.  "The Sun And The Rain" hit #72, though.

  • Dw Dunphy

    Christ, I’m old. I do actually remember a time where NJ settled out of court for things other than kid-touching.

  • Dw Dunphy

    Christ, I’m old. I do actually remember a time where MJ settled out of court for things other than kid-touching.

  • Dw Dunphy

    Michael Jackson and New Jersey – Perfect Together. (I need a proofreader – STAT!)

  • Jason!  I read every post.  I haven’t been writing much anywhere, because my life of late has been freighted with fraught.Cheers.

  • HEY YOU! DON’T WATCH THAT! WATCH THIS! THIS IS THE HEAVY, HEAVY MONSTER SOUND! THE NUTTIEST SOUND AROUND …Jason, my man, it’s clear we need to work on your early-MTV awareness. Maybe Billboard didn’t realize it, but Madness videos were ingrained in the head of everyone who got MTV pre-1985. The aforementioned song is One Step Beyond.Then there’s House of Fun, which we innocent teens didn’t realize until much later in life is not a song about a carnival but rather a song about a kid who has just become old enough to buy condoms … if only he could bring himself to spit out the right words before the neighbors see him. How disturbingly awesome is that!One of their periodic reunions coincided with my honeymoon in Ireland, so we heard the wonderful Lovestruck all over the Irish radio and looked forward to the day the song would make it across the Atlantic. It didn’t. But the other song we heard every day — Mambo No. 5 — sure as hell did. (The third most popular song was the already-big-in-America Livin’ La Vida Loca, which gave the Irish DJs a chance to flex their multicultural cred by pronouncing his name "Ricky Mar-TEEN" before playing a dance version that stripped the song of its horns, lead guitar and percussion — in other words, everything that made the song the kick-ass melting pot it is.)Oh — and that’s where Duran Duran started to go horribly wrong. Simon Le Bon stopped singing and started whining.

  • Dw Dunphy

    We weren’t very sensitive in high school. We weren’t enlightened or tolerant. We were pretty much ignorant through and through. We had opinions about guys who dug Duran Duran… they were summed up thusly: "Please, please tell me now / Is there some dude I should blow?"  Now, take into account the fact we all believed there was no more a manly, heterosexually focused , vanguard of evil than Judas Priest…

  • MC

    … if not for her drug habit, Stevie likely would have looked a lot like Miss Piggy, too.

  • woofpop

    Good point, Beau. Plus, Madness were on The Young Ones….

  • Billy Ocean IS Gandalf the Grey!

  • I wouldn’t feel too bad for Eddy Grant; guy owns a studio that probably rakes in millions, having been used by the likes of Rolling Stones and Sting.

  • That was the worst performance of Stand Back I’ve ever seen — and I really like the song!

    “The Douche-Bag Dance” in the middle was priceless for sheer absurdity, but what I loved was the fact that the bass player kind of gave up playing 3/4 of the way through the song and picked up a tambourine, but didn’t bother playing it.

  • Actually, I have to amend the bass player comment because I just re-watched it the video — which I can’t stop watching for some reason.

    It looks like he’s maybe a rhythm guitarist who DOES play the tambourine. It’s just after “The Douche-Bag Dance” he was probably so embarrassed by what just happened on stage, that he had no idea what to do and was stunned into inactivity for a brief period.

    Plus, Stevie forgot parts of the song, which messed up the background singers toward the end.

    Jesus, I’ve got to pull myself away from this. DAMN YOU JASON!

  • Comments like these are why I continue to write these posts.  I’ve effectively ruined your Saturday.  Awesome!

  • I actually saw that rerun of “SNL” with Flip Wilson and Stevie Nicks a few years ago, when NBC was showing old episodes at 3 AM on Sunday mornings. Now they show poker instead. Good call! But the nice thing about those “SNL” reruns was that NBC chose to show a lot of episodes from the Eddie Murphy era, which you didn’t see often on Comedy Central or E! (supposedly because Lorne Michaels, who controls the reruns, still hates Dick Ebersol, who ran the show during the Murphy era), and now E! only seems to show the reruns that feature celebrities who are popular now. But to be honest, Murphy was the only good thing in most of those reruns I saw; the writing was pretty terrible in those days.

    I’ve always loved “Our House” (although I prefer the single mix without the “whoa whoa’s”), and it’s not all bouncy fun — the saxophone hits some sad notes, and the singer mentions that the mother’s “the one they’re going to miss in lots of ways.” That’s not a line that hits you in grade school the way it does now. Wasn’t “It Must Be Love” in a Volkswagen commercial recently?

    Thanks for the mention via Manu Dibango! I discovered that song through the twin “Crooklyn” soundtracks in the fall of ’95. I still love that movie and those soundtracks.

    Annie Lennox scared me a bit too, and “Sweet Dreams” and “Here Comes the Rain Again” have always felt “dark” to me. It wasn’t until “Would I Lie to You?” that I felt she was my friend, not my conqueror.

    Scraps, good to see your name again! I was wondering where you’d gone. Maybe to New Jersey, which apparently has a kid-touching problem, although I didn’t see any on the final episodes of “The Sopranos.” (I’m just kidding — I still haven’t seen those episodes.)

    I saw Eddy Grant’s appearance on one of those late-night “SNL” reruns too. NBC’s programmer was really digging the fall of ’83, I guess. But Grant’s performance was memorable; I even recorded some of it onto a cassette connected to my VCR. He started out with a slow reggae number, then launched into a double-time version of “Electric Avenue.” It’s a song that’s stood the test of time. Fun and catchy but also menacing, even without the death stare in the video. I also nominate Grant’s “Romancing the Stone” (which wasn’t featured in the movie it was written for — strike one, Robert Zemeckis!) as one of the best songs of the ’80s. There’s a part in the middle of that song where the guitar goes nuts, and I always like when songs threaten to go off the rails.

    I hated “Every Breath You Take” when I was growing up. Well, not “hated,” but I thought the Police had better songs. I still do, but seven years ago I realized “Every Breath You Take” really is a great song. Not exactly fun like “Electric Avenue,” but definitely menacing, as we all know.

    WOO-HOO! I’m finally caught up reading and commenting on all the July posts! I’m so proud of myself!

  • Dw Dunphy

    The worst part about "Every Breath You Take" is it’s ubiquity. Without it, their biggest hit would be "Roxanne", I’m sure, but there is a roughness to that song that I still love. "Every Breath…" is just so slick. It’s pretty, even though it is about stalker obsession, but slick. For what it is worth, my favorite Police album is also much too slick for it’s own good, but since I love "Secret Journey" so much, "Ghosts In The Machine" still wins in my book… Which means little to you, I’m sure, but I’m just sayin’… Where was I?

  • I bought “Ghost in the Machine” a month or so ago, Dw, and I think that’s a really solid album. Maybe their best aside from “Outlandos d’Amour”? Andy wrote “Omegaman,” I think, but it’s really good compared to, say, “Mother,” or Stewart Copeland’s “On Any Other Day,” which are essentially Sting-tosses-the-other-guys-a-bone filler tracks from other albums. I also think “Zenyatta Mondatta” is overrated since the second half is pretty dull; even the Police say they wish they hadn’t been rushed to finish that one.

  • That Maxwell House ad isn’t good, but it’s not quite as bad as an ad that some bank or other financial institution ran back in 1999 or 2000 that featured random people singing “We Are the Champions” off-key. But they were singing their hearts out, man! Because they were the financial champions! So it wasn’t supposed to matter that they were horribly off-key. But it did matter when that ad ran during every other commercial break on CNN for a few months while I worked there. People would turn down their TVs on their desks in the newsroom when that ad came on.

  • Madness were on The Young Ones … twice! And they even got a speaking part threatening Rik. Why can’t we have a show like that? Imagine how much better Joey would’ve been if he could’ve just pointed at the camera, said "Music!" and had Motorhead pop up in the living room.

  • Elaine

    Wow! Imaging my surprise to be mentioned here…and all over “Stand Back!” It’s funny: I tried singing LRC over SB just the other day, with only moderate success. I’m beginning to think Stevie cooked up that story and Prince went along with it, because she placed a Welsh witchy spell over him. Nah, seriously, you really can, but I think a key change must be implemented first. But back to Stevie. If I remember her Behind the Music bio stuff correctly, she had married the husband of her best friend who died from leukemia. The marriage didn’t even last a year. So, while that’s a total downer, and I suppose we should excuse the judgement of people in mourning, I guess it explains the crappy wedding night. But Jesus H. Christ, Stevie!

    In July of 1983, I was in the summer between 10th and 11th grade. Annie Lennox was singing, “Sweet dreams are made of these,” and I kept wondering what she must be pointing to. (The video didn’t help at all.) Eddy Grant’s moronic song always made me feel deflated. Donna Summer’s 80’s stuff was still disco to me, and I couldn’t understand why everyone else thought disco was “dead.” At least, between Duran Duran and Madness, I had my own private eye candy to drool over. Old school Simon le Bon was the hottest thing ever. Until Suggs stole my heart.

  • Matt

    The link to download the i-Ten version of Alone is broken. Can you fix it please? I’d really like to hear the song. Thank you!

  • matt

    could you send me the song alone by i-ten?
    i’d appreciate it a lot.. thanks

    astronaught4@yahoo.com