Don’s Top 10 from this week in 1983
Back…back…back into time, as “The Time Machine” makes a stop on January 7, 1983, during one of the best periods for top 40 hits in years (in my opinion). Hear the songs starting just after midnight with me on New Jersey101.5.
“Truly” by Lionel Richie
(#10 last week) It only SEEMED like Lionel Richie had been a solo artist for a long time, but that was because of his writing “Lady” for Kenny Rogers (1980) & duetting with Diana Ross on “Endless Love” (1981). “Truly”, on the way down after being #1 just after Thanksgiving '82, was actually his first official solo hit. Trivia: the piano used on Richie's album was the same used by Carole King for “Tapestry”. This is a nice ballad, but to me, it sounds so similar to “Three Times A Lady”, “Still”, “Lady” & “Endless Love”. How many more times would Lionel go to this well?
“Rock This Town” by the Stray Cats
(#9 last week) If you play this for someone younger than 30 & ask them to guess when it came out, they always guess the mid or late 50s. That's a testament to this loving recreation of the early days of rock 'n' roll by Brian Setzer & crew. It was so convincing Setzer was hired to play real-life 50s rock pioneer Eddie Cochran in the 1987 movie “La Bamba”.
“Steppin’ Out” by Joe Jackson
(#6 last week) I was lucky enough to see Joe Jackson in his prime up close at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia & the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. Certainly an artist not afraid to mix it up, even to the point of alienating his newfound top 40 audience.
“Gloria” by Laura Branigan
(#5 last week) one of the fun things about working in radio is getting to meet many of the artists. One of them was Laura, at the Hyatt Regency Princeton during a radio event in 1990. She was very sweet & quiet. We lost her way too young.
“Mickey” by Toni Basil
(#2 last week) 39-year old Toni Basil already had had many years of success as an actress (“Easy Rider”, “Five Easy Pieces”) & choreographer (“Shindig!”, “American Graffiti”, The Lockers) when she came up with the idea of adding the cheerleader angle to a Mike Chapman/Nicky Chinn song originally called “Kitty”. Good move. It came out in 1980 & was a hit just about everywhere except America by the time it FINALLY hit the top here. Toni never had another biggie, but has continued to work in choreography. Yes, she's 68 years old now. Feel old?
“Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye
(#7 last week) Even though this hit was still moving up, it was already a certified gold million-selling single. What a welcome comeback for one of the great music artists of all time, who hadn't had a hit since 1977's “Got To Give It Up”. Sadly, this would be where the comeback would end, too (except for a memorable rendition of the National Anthem at the NBA All-Star Game). Marvin was shot to death by his father on April 1, 1984.
“Down Under” by Men At Work
(#8 last week) The second American hit for the lads from Australia, & would be the second #1 song. Made us Americans wonder about & salivate over vegemite sandwiches. Trust me, folks: BLECCHHHH (no offense to my Australian-raised cousins). It's a brewer's yeast bread spread
“Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley
(#4 last week) Eagle Henley's first big solo hit, although he had duetted with Stevie Nicks in 1981-82. An indictment of the mindless junk that passed for local TV news in the early 80s. Has anything changed since then?
“The Girl Is Mine” by Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney
(#3 last week) Whoa, what a superstar pairing for the first single from “Thriller”, but it certainly was unlike the rest of the album. It gave no clue that “Thriller” would be the #1 album of all time. At least it gave us the immortal line, “I'm a lover, not a fighter!”
“Maneater” by Daryl Hall & John Oates
(#1 last week; 4th week at #1) This sounds so Motown-like that legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier thought Hall & Oates had remade his “You Can't Hurry Love” when he heard the opening bars for the first time. As it turned out, Phil Collins would do just that a few months later. In the meantime, Daryl & John were enjoying the biggest hit of their long career.