Like a lot of music buyers back in the late â€™70s and early â€™80s â€“ a pre-Compact Disc era when recession, market oversaturation, aversion to disco, and other factors sent record sales plummeting â€“ I tried to make wise decisions with my limited funds. Between a half-decent allowance and the profits earned from selling Cokes at Virginia Tech football games (where a really warm day could bring as much as $40, not bad for a 12-year-old in 1978), I was able to buy a couple singles a week and a couple albums a month. I would try to make sure I didnâ€™t duplicate my efforts; if I was considering buying a single, I wanted to make sure I wouldnâ€™t later buy the same song on an album.
As a result, my collection of singles (long since moved to the garage, the poor things) is mostly a hodgepodge of one-hit wonders and low-charting songs by mid-level artists. Most of them climbed into the Top 40, thereby escaping the fate of appearing in my Popdose colleague Dave Steedâ€™s â€œBottom Feedersâ€ series, yet many of them are nearly forgotten now. Except, of course, on those few occasions when I fire up the olâ€™ turntable and put that plastic ring over the spindle â€“ or when I dip into the â€œJonâ€™s Singlesâ€ folder in iTunes, where Iâ€™ve stashed the digital versions of those haphazardly stored, half-warped 45s of my youth.
This occasional series will give some of these singles a moment in the sun. I donâ€™t promise youâ€™ll like them â€“ in some cases I no longer know what I was thinking when buying them â€“ but nobody ever said nostalgia and quality have to go hand in handâ€¦
Jim Bartlett, a part-time DJ and full-time memory bank who maintains the excellent radio-related blog The Hits Just Keep On Cominâ€™, stole my thunder by posting this track just a few weeks ago. Iâ€™m doing it anyway, just because itâ€™s the perfect representation of a type of song you almost never hear anymore: midtempo, keyboard-driven pop.
Eddie Schwartz is a Canadian singer/songwriter who scored his only Top 40 hit in the U.S. with this track off his second album, No Refuge. It stalled at #28 in March 1982, and his follow-up single â€œOver the Lineâ€ barely scraped the Hot 100 a few weeks later. (Look for Dave to post that track sometime in about July 2009, when he reaches the letter S.) â€œAll Our Tomorrowsâ€ found its way onto Joe Cockerâ€™s Unchain My Heart album in 1987; by that time Schwartzâ€™s own recording career was finished, though he returned in 1995 with a Canadian-only release titledâ€¦wait for itâ€¦Tour de Schwartz.
Thatâ€™s a great title for a live album, but Tour de Schwartz actually was a compilation of his greatest moments as a recording artist and songwriter. Itâ€™s in the latter category that Schwartz achieved his most enduring success â€“ and for which he undoubtedly still receives some hefty royalty checks â€“ because his is the surprisingly male songwriting voice behind â€œHit Me with Your Best Shot.â€ (The karaoke and Guitar Hero III residuals alone must keep the check printers whirring at Sony/ATV Music Publishing.) Schwartz had written â€œBest Shotâ€ before he got his own recording deal, and had demo-ed it for an ATV exec who hated the song and proceeded to sit on it for months. One day, another exec who was moving from Chrysalis Records to ATV played the demo in his office, and Pat Benatar heard it through the wall.
And that, my friends, is how songwriter fortunes are madeâ€¦sometimes. Anyway, Schwartz went on to write songs such as the Paul Carrack hit â€œDonâ€™t Shed a Tearâ€ and the Doobie Brothersâ€™ post-Michael McDonald comeback hit â€œThe Doctor.â€ He now lives in Nashville, where aging songwriters go toâ€¦well, to hope that men in cowboy hats with guitars will extend their careers a bit. As for Schwartzâ€™ recording career: I canâ€™t say for sure whether he would have made it bigger otherwise, but â€œSchwartzâ€ doesnâ€™t exactly have that rock-star ring to it. Dude, thereâ€™s a reason Eddie Mahoney dropped the â€œahâ€ before punching his Two Tickets to Paradise. Then again, Paul Carrack managed pretty well…
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Felix Cavaliere was, of course, keyboardist and a lead vocalist for the Young Rascals â€“ and later, when they were no longer so young, the Rascals. He helped popularize the Hammond organ as a pop instrument; his solo on â€œGood Lovinâ€™â€ is one of the most easily recognizable keyboard parts in rock history. He is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in that guise; as a solo artist, not so much. Two solo albums in the mid-â€™70s failed to gain traction, despite Todd Rundgrenâ€™s production on his debut; a short-lived group called Treasure also failed to earn much silver or gold. The title single off his third solo effort, Castles in the Air, was not the Don McLean song and was not a hit, either.
But then came â€œOnly a Lonely Heart Sees,â€ which (despite just barely reaching the Top 40 in early 1980) got a fair amount of airplay on pop radio around my hometown in southwestern Virginia. Itâ€™s a breezy ballad with a lovely melody, if not much of a pulse; in other words, it was a perfect candidate for the Adult Contemporary charts, where it crested at #2. If you listen closely to the backing vocals in the chorus, youâ€™ll hear a young Luther Vandross.
This single was Cavaliereâ€™s lone chart success as a solo artist. Two years afterward, he and fellow former Rascal Dino Danelli joined Little Stevenâ€™s Disciples of Soul for the Men Without Women album, but didnâ€™t stick around long. Cavaliere recorded another solo album in 1994, and the next year he joined up with Ringo Starrâ€™s All-Starr Band to play â€œGood Lovinâ€™â€ at every amphitheatre in the nation. Today Cavaliere lives in, yup, Nashville, but occasionally you can find him rehashing the old faves with â€œFelix Cavaliereâ€™s Rascals.â€ (New Yorkers can take the Hudson Line from Grand Central to hear him at the Irvington Town Hall Theatre on May 3.)
â€œOnly a Lonely Heart Seesâ€ would have made a delightful entry in fellow Popdoser Jason Hareâ€™s â€œAdventures Through the Mines of Mellow Goldâ€ series â€“ if only charting at #38 were synonymous with â€œgold,â€ and if only Jason would get off his ass and crank that series back to life on a regular basis. However, Jason and Jeff Giles did have their tawdry way with Cavaliere last December, when they uncovered and brutalized his recording â€œChristmas in Your Armsâ€ as part of their â€œ25 Days of Mellowmasâ€ series. Click on Jason and Jeff’s smug mugs if you must experience their holiday snark; Jason has even left the MP3 up for your torture/edification.
Until next time, when we relive the magic of Chilliwackâ€¦