Posts Tagged ‘Third World’

Chart Digging, April 17, 1982

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

So what was I up to in April of 1982? I was a reporter at the Monticello Times, writing features and covering city governments, school happenings, high school sports and the police and fire departments in Monticello and the nearby city of Big Lake. I was driving a one-year old Chevette (the first car I ever bought new off the lot). The Other Half and I were living in a mobile home south of Monticello, taking care of our three cats and feeding the frequent strays who dropped by for a meal.

The idea of graduate school at the University of Missouri was taking shape as I began to think about what came after Monticello. I went to see a couple of Minnesota Twins baseball games in the new Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. And I was listening to less and less hit radio, evidenced by the fact that several of the records in the Billboard Top Ten from thirty years ago today seemed unfamiliar until I cued them up this morning on YouTube. Here’s that Top Ten:

“I Love Rock ’N Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
“We Got The Beat” by the Go-Go’s
“Chariots of Fire – Titles” by Vangelis
“Freeze-Frame/Flamethrower” by the J. Geils Band
“Make A Move On Me” by Olivia Newton-John
“Don’t Talk To Strangers” by Rick Springfield
“Do You Believe In Love” by Huey Lewis & The News
“Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins
“Open Arms” by Journey
“That Girl” by Stevie Wonder

The tunes I didn’t recall until I heard them were those by Newton-John, Springfield and Wonder. But I do not recall hearing the B-Side of the J. Geils Band record at all. (That doesn’t surprise me; I never got into the J. Geils Band’s stuff.)  Nor do I recall all the records that show up lower down in the Billboard Hot 100 from April 17, 1982, but there’s some fun stuff there.

Duke Jupiter, says Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, was a rock band from Rochester, New York, with members by the names of Tom Swift, Sam Deluxe, Cadillac Jack, Koko Dee, Bobby Blue Sky and the superbly christened Rhinestone Mudflaps. The band got three singles into the Hot 100 between 1982 and 1984, all of them wearing influences that seem to include Bruce Springsteen, Michael Stanley and ZZ Top. “I’ll Drink To You” was the first and highest charting of the three. Thirty years ago today, it sat at No. 65, heading to a peak at No. 58.

Another group with limited success on the pop chart was Aurra, an R&B quintet from Ohio that grew out of the funk band Slave, according to All-Music Guide. “Make Up Your Mind” was the only record the group placed in the Hot 100, and on April 17, 1982, the record was sitting at No. 73 on its way to No. 71. Aurra did a fair amount better on the R&B chart, placing four records in the R&B Top 40 between 1981 and 1983. “Make Up Your Mind,” which is a nicely funky bit of dance-pop, did the best, peaking at No. 6 on the R&B chart.

Eddie Schwartz was a Canadian musician who managed to get two records into the American charts in 1982. “All Our Tomorrows” went to No. 28 in mid-February, and two months later, “Over the Line” was sitting at No. 91. In Canada, according to a commenter at YouTube, “Over the Line” went to No. 28, but here in the states, No. 91 was as high as it would go. It’s not a bad record, but there’s not a lot to distinguish it from, say, Huey Lewis & The News.

Three records sitting in the Bubbling Under section on that long-ago April day caught my ear this morning. The first is from Third World, a Jamaican group that Whitburn describes as a “reggae fusion band.” In 1981 – two years after “Now That We Found Love” went to No. 47 on the pop chart and No. 9 on the R&B chart – Third World was joined onstage by Stevie Wonder while performing at the Reggae Sunsplash festival in Jamaica. Wonder then joined Third World in the studio, co-writing, arranging and producing “Try Jah Love” for the group’s 1982 album You’ve Got the Power. A single edit of the track was at No. 102 thirty years ago today; it would peak one spot higher at No. 101 (but get to No. 23 on the R&B chart). The video below includes the album track.

Oddly enough, we remain with a Jamaican theme for the next two records as well, though in different ways. Bobby Caldwell’s “Jamaica” was bubbling under in April 1982, sitting at No. 105. Caldwell, of course, had reached No. 9 in 1978 with the ultra-smooth ‘What You Won’t Do For Love,” but subsequent releases had failed to reach the Top 40. The highest charting of those follow-ups had been “Coming Down From Love,” which had peaked at No. 42 in 1980. “Jamaica” would stall as well, going no higher than No. 105.

Last up today is an instrumental from saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. In 1981, “Just The Two Of Us,” featuring a vocal by Bill Withers, had gone to No. 2 (No. 3 on the R&B chart), but ensuing releases did less well; the best-performing of them – No. 92 on the pop chart and No. 13 on the R&B chart – had been “Be Mine Tonight,” with Grady Tate on vocals. In mid-April 1982, Washington’s cover of Bob Marley’s “Jamming” was bubbling under at No. 107 after peaking at No. 102.