I must go ahead and thank Annie Zaleski, who commented last week about the group Chromeo. I’m frankly bothered and disgusted that their 2007 album Fancy Footwork has been sitting out in the world for two years — it even got a deluxe release last year — and not one person in my life tuned me into maybe the funkiest ’80s throwback group ever.

I’m disgusted at myself as well for not finding them on my own. How a marvelous funky-ass release like this could fly under my radar, I don’t understand. I can’t let others slip by, so now I must ask if there are other bands out there like this. iTunes led me to MSTRKRFT, who I’d heard of, but they aren’t quite as ’80s as Chromeo. Who else should I know about who sounds like they’re making lost Oran “Juice” Jones records? As far as this week goes, after listening to the Chromeo record all I have to say is: Ray Parker Jr. sounds even better!

Here are more artists whose names begin with the letter P, as we check out songs that charted no higher than #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the 1980s.

Pablo Cruise
“Slip Away” — 1981, #75 (download)

I’ve never really been a fan of Pablo Cruise but I have to admit that “Slip Away” is a pretty cool, laid back song. The intro to this track just makes me want to sit on my porch, close my eyes and enjoy a nice summer breeze. (I must be in a strangely good mood as shit like that last sentence doesn’t usually come out of my mouth.)

David Pack
“Prove Me Wrong” — 1986, #95 (download)

AmbrosiaWhat an absolutely miserable song from the former lead singer and guitarist of Ambrosia. I’m not sure this song has an identity. It starts off with those super-fake sounding keys and drums and seems to want to be some kind of R&B number and then about a minute in it breaks into a riff that could be the little brother of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” and then goes right back where it began. This track was actually the second cut on the White Nights soundtrack as well as featured on Pack’s first solo record, Anywhere You Go. The only thing I like David Pack for are the countless hours of enjoyment he’s given me thanks to the cover of the Ambrosia album One Eighty, which regularly gets referenced in my house as “men hugging each other.”

Pajama Party
“Yo No Se” — 1989, #75 (download)
“Over and Over” — 1989, #59 (download)

Another heavily played song in my trivia days, “Yo No Se” is a song that I remember hearing a lot in ’89 and ’90 and yet possibly never heard the name of the group. I only remember the name now because of said trivia matches. The song itself is probably one of my favorites of the freestyle genre, though that’s a little tough to say since so many sounded exactly the same. It’s at least one that I remember quite vividly. However, I could have sat here for weeks and never given you the name of the Pajama Party follow up song. I don’t ever remember hearing “Over and Over” and yet that performed better on the charts than “Yo No Se.”

Robert Palmer
“Can We Still Be Friends?” — 1980, #52 (download)
“You Are in My System” — 1983, #78 (download)
“Discipline of Love” — 1985, #82 (download)
“Sweet Lies” — 1988, #94 (download)
“Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming” — 1989, #60 (download)

robert-palmer-hs Many of the artists I really love are favorites because they are different, unique and musical chameleons, which describes Robert Palmer pretty well. Here’s a guy that could go from sounding like Steely Dan into something super funky, flash a killer guitar riff and toss some jazz on top — all without sounding awkward at all. And Palmer liked to cover tracks soon after they were originally recorded (I guess for this reason you could argue against me calling him “unique”) and I honestly can’t name one that isn’t as good if not better than the original. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at Robert Palmer liner notes thinking songs were his when they were covers. There’s “Can We Still Be Friends?” (Todd Rundgren), “You Are in My System” (the System), “You Can Have It (Take My Heart)” (Kool & the Gang), “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On” (Cherrelle), “Early in the Morning” (the Gap Band), “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming” (Jermaine Jackson), “Mercy Mercy Me” (Marvin Gaye), and dozens more.

And let’s not forget amazing originals like “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love.” Both 1984’s Riptide and 1988’s Heavy Nova are almost perfect from start to finish with Heavy Nova’s eclectic vibe winning me over from the first note. “Sweet Lies” is an interesting one here — I don’t ever recall hearing it back in the ‘80s. It was the title track from a Treat Williams flick and released between Riptide and Heavy Nova. It probably could have fit on Riptide pretty well, though I have to admit it’s a pretty boring song. Instead it appeared on Palmer’s first greatest-hits records, Addictions Vol. 1.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/PkoAI83GgNU" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Mica Paris
“My One Temptation” — 1989, #97 (download)

I’m a little surprised that with a voice as good as hers and a sound that fit in perfectly in 1989 all Mica Paris could muster was one single reaching just #97 on the charts. Even a year later when Prince wrote a song called “If I Love U 2 Nite” that she recorded, that didn’t give her the follow-up hit. And we all know that everything Prince touches is a huge hit. Um, yeah.

Graham Parker
“Life Gets Better” — 1983, #94 (download)

It’s once again interesting to note how many different songs and artists that for the longest time I attributed to Elvis Costello. Not being very familiar with Parker’s music, I think one could do much worse than mistaking this for a Costello track.

Ray Parker Jr.
“I Don’t Think That Man Should Sleep Alone” — 1987, #68 (download)

Ray Parker Jr. & Helen Terry
“One Sunny Day/Dueling Bikes” — 1986, #96 (download)

RayParkerJr.&RaydioAWomanNeedsLove1981 Ray Parker Jr. had quite a career for himself both solo and with his band Raydio. Unfortunately, he’ll pretty much only ever be known for his theme to Ghostbusters. He had 11 other hits in the decade though including the excellent “The Other Woman” and “A Woman Needs Love.” And the guy wrote a lot of songs about sex — with his woman, with other women, with your woman. Didn’t matter to him.

And then he got paid to write (sort of) a song about ghosts. And of course I say “sort of” since no matter what Parker chooses to say, the riff is totally Huey Lewis’s “I Want a New Drug.” I do wonder how he got roped into doing this crap “One Sunny Day” duet with Helen Terry for the Quicksilver soundtrack, though. Maybe someone had some actual pictures of Parker with the other woman.

John Parr
“Magical” — 1985, #73 (download)
“Love Grammar” — 1985, #89 (download)
“Blame It on the Radio” — 1986, #88 (download)

I think a lot of people think of John Parr as a pop artist thanks to “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion),” but that’s really as much of a rock song as others in his catalog, it just so happens to David Foster all over it. Meanwhile, Parr has one of the best top-down, music-blaring songs of the ’80s in the #23 hit “Naughty Naughty.” Parr was actually pretty huge in ’85 and ’86 and make a nice mark for himself despite only two albums decade. “Blame It on the Radio” is a pretty awesome song as well. Not so much for “Love Grammar” which sounds half like a reject from his 1983 sessions writing for Meat Loaf.

Fred Parris & the Five Satins
“Memories of Days Gone By” — 1982, #71 (download)

Yikes. This is the sound of a band grasping at straws to get anything close to relevant. The Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night” is a brilliant song and so far away from this utter crap mash-up — well, okay, not that far away since “In the Still of the Night” is part of the mix. Then again, you know I hate these types of songs and it’s totally what I’d expect to see on a Five Satins PBS special.

Alan Parsons Project
“Snake Eyes” — 1981, #67 (download)
“Psychobabble” — 1982, #57 (download)
“You Don’t Believe” — 1983, #54 (download)
“Let’s Talk About Me” — 1985, #56 (download)
“Days Are Numbers (The Traveller)” — 1985, #71 (download)
“Stereotomy” — 1986, #82 (download)

AlanParsonsProject I went back into the archives to see if there was a Popdose guide to the Alan Parsons Project, and there wasn’t (though I found one for Slayer, so that made up for it). Here’s a band that calls out for one (no, Jeff, I am not volunteering). I’ve definitely stated many times that prog rock is not my thing, but despite the fact that I never pick up an Alan Parsons record, he and the Project totally rule. There’s not a bad cut here, and every album up to 1985’s Vulture Culture is excellent (and that has its moments as well). It’s hard to pick the best cut of the six songs here, as “Snake Eyes” is pretty great especially for the story of the gambler who plays snake eyes and seven-eleven at craps praying to win – when in reality the two bets cancel each other out. “You Don’t Believe” is a great track as well off of Ammonia Avenue and a song that I somehow find myself headbanging to.

For my purposes I think it’s good I got into them only after I started collecting in the early part of this decade. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to pick out an Alan Parsons Project single on the radio since there’s a vast array of singers present on these songs. Chris Rainbow tackles both “Snake Eyes” and “Days Are Numbers,” Lenny Zakatek takes on “You Don’t Believe,” Elmer Gantry sings on “Psychobabble,” the pipes of David Paton can be heard on “Let’s Talk About Me,” and John Miles gets the vocals on “Stereotomy.”

Best song: Robert Palmer, “You Are in My System”
Worst song: David Pack, “Prove Me Wrong”

Tommy Page (1); Kevin Paige (1)

Next week we get TKO’d by Juggsy McJuggs.

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About the Author

Dave Steed

Dave Steed is all about music; 80's and metal to be exact. His iPod will shuffle from Culture Club to Slayer and he won't blink an eye. He's never heard Astral Weeks but thinks "Dazzey Duks" by Duice is the bomb. It's an odd little corner of the world he lives in.

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