Chart digging: September 10, 1983

By the time the first third of September 1983 had passed, I had settled into a routine as a graduate student at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. I was living in a mobile home on the south edge of the city of Columbia, and early each weekday morning, I’d make my way to the north end of the nearby university campus, where I’d spend half the day in class and studying and half the day working as the arts and entertainment editor of the Columbia Missourian, a daily newspaper published by the School of Journalism and staffed by its faculty members and students.

Arriving early on campus on weekdays provided two benefits: I was able to find a parking place not far from the J-School, and I had time to start my day with a plate of biscuits and gravy at the Old Heidelberg, one of the long-time fixtures of the area around the J-School. Along with the biscuits and gravy, I also devoured the Missourian and the morning papers from Kansas City and St. Louis.

I was generally one of the few people in the Old Heidelberg early in the morning – the place would be jammed by noon – and as I read, I had no trouble hearing the current Top 40 coming from the speakers built into the ceiling. I didn’t necessarily care for everything I heard, but being back in a campus environment for the first time in six years and socializing with other students – most of whom were several years younger than I was – had made me more aware of Top 40 tunes than I had been in a while. And I did like a lot of what I heard.

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from September 10, 1983:

“Maniac” by Michael Sembello
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by the Eurythmics
“The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats
“Puttin’ On The Ritz” by Taco
“Tell Her About It” by Billy Joel
“Every Breath You Take” by the Police
“She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer
“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
“Human Nature” by Michael Jackson
“I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” by Culture Club

That’s not a bad Top Ten at all. At least, it looks pretty good from a distance of twenty-seven years. I can do without “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” but otherwise, it’s a decent set of music that’s pretty representative of its era. And, as usual, there were some interesting things a bit lower down in the pop chart.

One of my favorite songs that during that first semester of graduate school was the Motels’ “Suddenly Last Summer.” It sat at No. 44 the second week of September and would eventually peak at No. 9 during the third week of November. (The record would spend two weeks at No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.) The video’s a little cheesy, but the record is still fine, and I still do love Martha Davis’ voice.

And as long as we’re talking about cheesy videos featuring women singers with good voices, here is what I think is the official video for “I Can’t Shake Loose” by Agnetha Fältskog, who had been one of the A’s in ABBA. The record, which was at No. 56 on September 10, 1983, would peak at No. 29 in early November. It’s notable that the record was Fältskog’s only solo hit, and it was the sixteenth and final appearance in the Top 40 – through 2003, anyway – for ABBA and its two women singers. (The group had fourteen hits from 1974 through 1982, and Frida had one earlier in 1983.)

Sitting at No. 68 for the second week after peaking at No. 62 during the last week of August, we find “Words” by F. R. David, a Tunisian-born and Paris-based singer/songwriter. “Words,” according to All-Music Guide, was a “1982 monster hit . . . that topped the charts in a dozen European countries and even peaked at number two in Great Britain.”

Sometime during that first semester of graduate school, I was invited to a party at the home of some other Minnesotans who were grad students in photojournalism at the J-School. It was a pleasant evening, made memorable because the TV in the corner was on and I got my first look at MTV. The first video I saw was for Billy Joel’s “Uptown Man,” and later in the evening, I checked out “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top. The single had peaked at No. 56 during the last week of August (and at No. 8 on the Mainstream Rock chart), and was at No. 74 when the September 10 chart came out. I still like the video.

Not far below ZZ Top in the Billboard Hot 100 for that September week, at No. 80, we find Jim Capaldi, formerly the drummer for Traffic. His single “Living On The Edge” would peak at No. 75 for the next two weeks and then fall off the chart entirely. Earlier in the year, Capaldi’s single “That’s Love” had gone to No. 28, giving him his only Top 40 hit. Both singles came from his Fierce Heart album. Here’s the official video for “Living On The Edge.”

Just under the Hot 100 for that September week twenty-seven years ago sat “Party Train” by the Gap Band, lodged at No. 102. The record sat there for three weeks and then fell off the chart entirely. But “Party Train” did far better on a couple of other Billboard charts, getting to No. 4 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart and peaking at No. 3 on the R&B chart. The same is true for the rest of the band’s catalog: The Gap Band had two Top 40 hits, “Early In The Morning” and “You Dropped A Bomb On Me,” both in 1982. But the group had nearly thirty singles hit various other charts – most often the R&B and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks charts – from 1979 through 1995. Here’s the wonderfully cheesy video for “Party Train.”

And that does it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a Saturday Single.

Tags: , , , , ,

One Response to “Chart digging: September 10, 1983”

  1. Simon says:

    Lol, I was 14 that year. Some of the songs you’re talking about were hits this side of the Atlantic, some weren’t. But 83 was a pretty good year for pop music, certainly one of the best before Live Aid came along and brought back the dinosaurs and left pop music dying slowly. At least until the turn of the 90s anyway.

Leave a Reply