Originally written April 18, 2014.
Good Friday to you! I mean literally that – Good Friday. How do they determine what date Easter falls on? Something about the first full moon after some feast, I think. I could just Google it, but then I’d come across as a know-it-all, and we certainly can’t have that, can we? So I’ll just let one of you answer the question. Then we can celebrate Easter with a Top 10 flashback!
98.1 WCAU-FM Philadelphia was one of the charter “Hot Hits” stations along with WBBM-FM in Chicago and WHYT in Detroit, which we looked at last fall. “Hot Hits” was a sort of plug & play format that was in quite a few markets around this time. The stations all sounded the same, but they sounded good – a return to the professional, high-energy sound that was a hallmark of Top 40 radio. Here’s a page with airchecks of various Hot Hits stations:
There’s one from WCAU-FM in the summer of ’82 featuring Terry “Motormouth” Young, who would later turn up in Detroit at the former 99.5 “The Fox” (what an original name!), and these days does yeoman’s work at XM-Sirius’s 60’s on 6. WCAU-FM stuck with Top 40 until 1987 when they flipped to oldies as WOGL, and they’re still at it with today’s version of oldies radio, which features the hits of the 70’s and 80’s. That means they’re again playing some of the songs we’re featuring here from 31 years ago this week.
So put on your red shoes and dance the blues! Survey dated April 21, 1983.
DeBarge – I Like It
For the life of me, I can’t remember hearing this one. I know their other big hits, and actually like “All This Love,” but can’t recall this. Just as well – it ain’t that good. The DeBarge family was originally from Detroit, but grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, joining Del Shannon and later Maynard James Keenan as that city’s musical stars. James DeBarge married Janet Jackson in 1984, and they divorced in…1984.
Journey – Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
I never could stomach Journey and their brand of synthetic douchebag rock. They had all the trappings of a rock & roll band minus the rock & roll. I found this song especially egregious – it was everything I disliked about the phony corporate rock of the era distilled into four minutes of pure overblown shit. If you’ve ever questioned the appeal of punk, play this and understand.
Men At Work – Overkill
If you only know the music of the early 80’s from listening to classic hits radio, you’d think Men At Work had only two U.S. hits. They actually had at least four, one of which was this blatant rewrite of “Who Can It Be Now?” Leave it on the shelf.
Styx – Mr. Roboto
When we looked at 1980 recently, I remarked that the attempts to transform Billy Joel and Linda Ronstadt into New Wave rockers weren’t entirely successful. So what happens when you do the same with a corporate shit-rock band like Styx? You get a song that’s become iconic for all the wrong reasons.
Prince – Little Red Corvette
(video not available)
No matter, you know the song anyway. Forget that it’s grossly overplayed – Prince was and is a one-of-a-kind musician, and one that won’t be pigeonholed. Unless you’re a diehard country fan, he’s done something for you.
Greg Kihn Band – Jeopardy
Greg Kihn’s album titles were cutesy puns based on his name, like this one, “Kihnspiracy.” (Was there a “Next Of Kihn?” It’d be a crime if there wasn’t.) Not quite as famous as “The Breakup Song,” but a decent effort that’s well-remembered today. And let’s not forget this:
If you’re wondering, the video was based on the original version of “Jeopardy!” from the 60’s and 70’s. When they revived the show in the fall of ’83, everyone wondered how Alex Trebek could fill Art Fleming’s shoes. I guess he acquitted himself there, huh? And yes, Don Pardo was the original announcer, which is why he got the SNL gig.
Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science
There are two versions of this song. The good one, played on rock and proto-alternative stations:
…and the shitty one, which WCAU-FM probably played:
Great song, but could something this geeky make it today?
After The Fire – Der Kommissar
Now this one I really like. Liked it enough to buy the album, mainly because like #4 above, the single version blows. Originally done by Falco of “Rock Me, Amadeus” fame.
David Bowie – Let’s Dance
This was David Bowie’s biggest commmercial success, and I don’t blame the public for snapping it up. Bowie was a New Wave artist long before they coined the term, and this fit perfectly with the times. Also noteworthy for being the first commercial recording to feature the great Stevie Ray Vaughan.
We’ll just go right to number one. Wanna guess what it is? Go ahead, it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right:
I used to intro this as being by Eddie Van Halen and some freaky dude with a white glove. Good times.
Funny list – the first four songs sucked unwashed ass, then the rest redeemed it. Do you agree? Am I full of shit? Do you agree that I’m full of shit? Go!
Oh, happy Easter, y’all!