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.[youtube]-3tw2TY2C4A[/youtube]
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!
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.[youtube]WcuTTsn5TVM[/youtube]
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."[youtube]xvEQmyoP18E[/youtube]
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!