I hope you have your dancin’ shoes on, because there are some groovy tracks this week from the bottom three-fifths of the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s, courtesy of artists whose names begin with the letter T.
“Flashes” — 1984, #86 (download)
For the first time since post #1, in which I somehow forgot to include AC/DC (not the smoothest launch), I seem to have forgotten a track. Thanks to a reader named Matt, who pointed it out to me, I originally had Tiggi Clay listed under C, but then deleted the group after realizing they weren’t a person. The Billboard list I work from is on paper, and I never readjusted the copy to put them back under T. So, a week late, but here they are, finally.
Tiggi Clay was kind of a unique thing. They were a black new-wave group on Morocco Records, Motown’s rock imprint, and were led by singer Debravon Lewis, who went by the stage name of Fizzy Quick. The trio, which also included Romeo “Breath” McCall and Peaches, released just one record, a self-titled 1984 effort. Fizzy then went “solo,” though her debut on Motown was produced by her Tiggi Clay bandmates; she changed her style, going with more of a typical throwback Motown feel.
“Cecilia” — 1988, #79 (download)
Times Two were two guys: Shanti Jones and Johnny Dollar. Their debut album, X2, is described on All Music as “pop fluff,” which is exactly what makes the record so fun. There was nothing really special about Times Two, but their songs were catchy and fun. “Cecilia” is a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song and supposedly has Paul Simon on background vocals (I don’t know where, though. I don’t hear him — do you?). Johnny Dollar passed away last year.
TKA might have been the initials of the members of the group (Tony Ortiz, Kayel, and Aby) or could have stood for Total Knowledge in Action which is what members of the band stated very early in their career. “One Way Love” was their first hit off their debut Scars of Love which emerged in 1987. “You Are the One” comes from the Lean on Me soundtrack and would be put on their second and final record, 1990’s Louder Than Love. Kayel would go on to better success as K7 with the song “Come Baby Come” in ’93.
Toby Beau were a group not a person (although by the time this song came out, the lone remaining member from the original group, Balde Silva, was calling himself Toby Beau) that released three albums from ’78 to ’80 and had a hit off each one. With the rest of his band gone by 1980, Silva and Toby Beau stopped making albums. However, amazingly Toby Beau is still touring today having had only a minor career and no new albums since 1980.
Tony! Toni! Toné!
“Little Walter” — 1988, #47 (download)
Tony! Toni! Toné! only released four albums, but they were a pretty influential, respected R&B/new jack swing group, thanks in part to the great singer-songwriter-producer Raphael Saadiq being part of the group. (D’wayne Wiggins and Timothy Riley reunited as Tony! Toni! Toné! in 2008, but Saadiq, née Charlie Wiggins, hasn’t joined them.) I love “Little Walter,” off their debut album, Who?, but they really kicked it into high gear with their next record, The Revival (1990), and reached their peak with the pretty amazing Sons of Soul in 1993.
“Walkin’ Shoes” — 1989, #86 (download)
Tora Tora (not Prince’s alter-ego) formed around ’85 and released their first disc in 1989. Apart from some decent guitar solos, there’s absolutely nothing unique at all about the band or their debut. It’s become a pretty expensive find over the years, especially for something released in 1989 thanks to it no longer being in print.
“Your Daddy Don’t Know” — 1982, #77 (download)
Despite loving this track and owning the album from which it sprang, 1982’s Get It on Credit, I don’t know much about Toronto. I do know they were actually from Toronto, sounded a lot like Pat Benatar, and released an album a year from 1980 to ’84. That’s about it, though.
“Johnny B. Goode” — 1983, #84 (download)
Peter Tosh was a unicyclist who happened to play music with someone named Bob Marley. Yeah yeah, it’s not quite like that, but he was a member of the Wailers and then an avid lover of unicycles up until his shooting death in ’87 at the hands of a “friend” who wanted money. This Chuck Berry cover was on Tosh’s 1983 album Mama Africa.
“I Eat Cannibals” — 1983, #66 (download)
Total Coelo — or Toto Coelo, as they were known outside of the States — only charted here with “I Eat Cannibals.” This new-wave girl group released one album, Man o’ War, and then a few singles in the mid-’80s, but were never able to get even close to the minor success of “I Eat Cannibals” again. Fun song, though.
Toto was the reason Toto Coelo had to change their name! “Waiting for Your Love” is a track that always throws me off when it comes up in the shuffle. I love the track, but the overall R&B feel is weird to me coming from the same group that’d had major successes with “Rosanna,” “Africa,” and the ballad “I Won’t Hold You Back.” If you were to put a gun to my head and asked me to name the artist, I might have to give an answer of Billy Ocean (though it would need four more words in the title). In reality, Toto wasn’t just a rock band and the song combined a lot of elements of their song, but it’s kind of a weird thing when you listen to it with just the other singles.
“Holyanna” appears on their fifth album, Isolation, which was the first album to feature Fergie Frederiksen on vocals, after Bobby Kimball was fired. It almost wasn’t Fergie on the track, though, as the vocal gig was also offered to Richard Page of Mr. Mister. Toto had nine other songs chart in the Hot 100 during the ‘80s.
Touch released their self-titled debut in 1980 which yielded these two minor hits but then failed to do much else as a band. Their second album was produced by Todd Rundgren but never got released. They do own a little piece of history though as they were the first band to play the very first Monsters of Rock festival in England. Singer Mark Mangold went on to have at least a little success: he cowrote “I Found Someone,” which Laura Branigan and, more notably, Cher turned into a hit. His cowriter? Michael Bolton.
“I Only Want to Be With You” — 1980, #83 (download)
The Tourists released three albums between 1979 and ’80 to moderate success in the UK, but they were a one-hit wonder in the U.S. Of course, this really didn’t affect band members Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, who found much greater success with the Eurythmics.
Carol Lynn Townes
“99 ½” — 1984, #77 (download)
I’ve always liked this one-off single from Carol Lynn Townes, off the Breakin’ soundtrack. But I mean, c’mon now — 99 ½ percent of my love won’t do, Carol? I love my ‘80s music a little bit, so maybe I could give, say, another ¼ or so, but 100 percent is asking a hell of a lot. (This is actually a remake — the original was done by Alton McClain and Destiny.)
Two excellent tracks here from Pete Townshend’s first solo record, Empty Glass. The thing that’s really surprising to me is that there were no Hot 100 singles from the follow-up, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, and only one Hot 100 hit (the excellent “Face the Face”), from 1985’s White City: A Novel. There was quite a bit of experimentation going on on both those records but there were enough straightforward songs that more than one Billboard hit should have come from them.
“Tell That Girl to Shut Up” — 1988, #87 (download)
Transvision Vamp was a short-lived, late-‘80s group led by Nick Sayer and Wendy James, who I remember being pretty damn hot at the time and not afraid to flaunt it either. Looking for pictures of her now, she looks even better with age although there’s a bit of a Paris Hilton feel to her now. “Tell That Girl to Shut Up” was originally released as a single for Holly & the Italians back in 1980. James went on to an unsuccessful solo career, and bassist Dave Parsons was a member of Bush.
“Living on Video” — 1986, #61 (download)
This is such an awesome fucking song. There’s simply no way to not do the robot from the very first beat. It’s the only hit Trans-X ever had and boy have they milked it for all it’s worth. There are approximately two gadzillion remixes or cover versions out there and it seems like pretty much every French dance group has a version. And Trans-X has recently reformed apparently and are releasing “Living On Video 2010” soon. Good song, but Christ. Before anyone goes asking what version this is, there was a version released in 1981, another one in ’83, and then a “remix” in ’85. This is one of them and frankly every version I’ve heard from the ‘80s is relatively similar aside from being extended or shortened, so this is close even if not the actual charting version. It’s definitely the Trans-X version. That much I know.
Best song: Trans-X, “Living on Video”
Worst song: Tora Tora, “Walkin’ Shoes”
TOP 40 ONLY
Timex Social Club (1), Tommy Tutone (2), Tom Tom Club (1), Tone Loc (2), T’Pau (1)
Next week, we share some Peanut Butter with Bob Dylan.