Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Various Artists - Radio Daze: Pop Hits of the '80s, Vol. 5 (1995)


Disc 5 of 5, covering songs that peaked on the chart between November 1980 and June 1981 (my freshman year in high school).  Complete with great liner notes, this is one of the stronger volumes in the series with 8 of 12 good tracks.

Tracks:
  • Bette Davis Eyes - Kim Carnes, released March 1981, Pop #1, AC #15, Dance #26, Mainstream Rock #5.  A huge hit in 1981, winning Grammys for both record and song of the year.  Nine weeks at #1 and Billboard's biggest hit of the year.  A great blend of synth and guitar arpeggios, I think the real hook is the synth hand claps which were novel at the time.  I really like the sexy growl of Carnes' voice.
  • Somebody's Knockin' - Terri Gibbs, released September 1980, Pop #13, AC #3, Country #8.  I wasn't wild about this song when it came out and hadn't heard it in more than 30 years before buying this CD.  While its simple bass line is sort of catchy and Gibbs sounds like Anne Murray, this is one of the weaker tracks on the disc.
  • Just The Two Of Us - Grover Washington, Jr., released January 1981, Pop #2, AC #2, R&B #3.  Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout!  I had the 45 in 1981, later bought Grover's 'best of' LP and replaced that with a CD.  Bill Withers was the perfect vocalist for this song.  While the 4 minute version is featured on this disc, I encourage you to experience the full 7½ minute version.
  • Just Between You And Me - April Wine, released January 1981, Pop #21, Mainstream Rock #11.  One of the early power ballads, this probably would have been a bigger hit had it been released a few years later.  The French lyrics are needless, but the group is Canadian so I can forgive that. The song isn't bad, but power ballads haven't been my thing since I stopped going to school dances and trying to get girls to pity me and accept my invitation to a slow dance.
  • If You Should Sail - Nielsen/Pearson, released August 1980, Pop #38, AC #35.  I don't remember this yacht rock tune, but it is West Coast/AOR that is right up my alley.  I'd recognize a Jerry Hey/Chuck Findley flugelhorn anywhere.  Good enough to have me searching for a copy of the album it came from.
  • Precious To Me - Phil Seymour, released December 1980, Pop #22, Mainstream Rock #34.  Power pop with a definite '50s sound to it.  Sounds like it should have been on the Fast Times soundtrack.
  • Living Inside Myself - Gino Vannelli, released February 1981, Pop #6, AC #5, R&B #45.  Another childhood favorite.  I had the 45.  That electric piano part is fantastic.  As if that weren't enough, the simple upward stepwise base line in the chorus grabs me every time.  In fact, I usually sing the bass line instead of the actual melody.  I never tire of listening to this one.
  • How 'Bout Us - Champaign, released January 1981, Pop #12, AC #1, R&B 4.  While this isn't the greatest slow jam of all time, this soul ballad is certainly in the top 5 along with Love Won't Let Me Wait by Major Harris.  Classic. 
  • Hearts On Fire - Randy Meisner, released December 1980, Pop #19, Mainstream Rock #14.  I don't remember this tune and it's not grabbing me now.
  • Ah! Leah! - Donnie Iris, released November 1980, Pop #29, Mainstream Rock #19.  A classic hook-filled power pop song that I thought hit higher than #29.  It was higher than 29 in my house.  If I had known who sung it back in 1980 (where was the Shazam app when I needed it?), I probably would have bought the 45. Catchy guitar riffs and great harmonic vocal overdubbing.  I like this one so much it was one my first iTunes downloads.  Another great Iris song is Love Is Like A Rock.
  • Love You Like I Never Loved Before - John O'Banion, released March 1981, Pop #24.  More catchy AOR rock.  O'Banion has a great rock voice.  Sounds more than a little like Toto's Hold The Line.  Could that be Steve Lukather on the guitar solo?
  • Sweetheart - Franke & The Knockouts, released February 1981, Pop #10, Mainstream Rock #27. And we close with still more infectious AOR Toto-esque goodness with a touch of Daryl Hall's blue-eyed soul thrown in for good measure.  A great way to end the series.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  Riding around town on my Sears 10 speed bike.  I had a yellow handlebar-mounted AM radio which blasted songs such as these as I rode to the store to purchase comic books and candy.  I must have been as annoying as all get out.

Also on the blog:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4


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