1982 Kansas – Play The Game Tonight

1982 Kansas – Play The Game Tonight 

After a few years of swapping members in and out of the group, and a few name changes, the band Kansas began recording on Kirshner Records in 1974. A pair of multi-platinum singles helped solidify the group.

 Steve Walsh sang lead vocals on the band’s biggest hits in the seventies. He left the band because of the new focus of the lyrics on their 1981 album. John Elefante became the band’s new lead singer.

Play The Game Tonight became the band’s first single in 1982. It was their first top twenty single in over four years!

The single reached #17 on the Hot 100, but a new chart helped them out as well. In 1981, Billboard launched the Mainstream Rock chart, and Play The Game Tonight popped into the new chart at #4 the next year. Singles from Kansas continued to reach that chart for years, and two more of their singles even made it to the top ten on the new chart.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_(band)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_the_Game_Tonight

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1981 Billy Joel – Say Goodbye To Hollywood

1981 Billy Joel – Say Goodbye To Hollywood

Billy Joel initially recorded his fourth studio album (Turnstiles) with what appears on paper to be an amazing setup: Chicago’s producer James William Guercio produced the album, members of Elton John’s band helped with the backing music, and it was recorded at the Caribou Ranch. The net result? Billy hated it.

He returned to New York City and produced a completely new recording of the album himself. The opening track was about leaving California and returning to work in New York. Say Goodbye To Hollywood became the lead track and the first single from the album. Sadly, the 1976 single didn’t reach the charts anywhere except in Australia, and it only reached #45 in the land down under.

The second single also failed to chart, and Billy hired Phil Ramone to produce his next album. The Stranger spawned four platinum singles and finally put Billy’s career on the fast track.

In June and July 1980, Billy recorded a series of live performances of some of his early songs that had not previously been hits. His record company compliled the recordings into the album Songs In The Attic. The first single from the album was a live performance of Say Goodbye To Hollywood. This time, the single did much better, peaking at #17 on the Hot 100 in 1981. It also became the first of Billy’s singles on the Mainstream Rock chart, where it peaked at #11.

He had a second live hit from the album with She’s Got a Way, a new version of a song that appeared on Billy’s very first album in 1971.

That single only reached #23 on the Hot 100, but also climbed up to #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1981.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Joel
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Joel_discography#Singles
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnstiles_(album)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Say_Goodbye_to_Hollywood

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1980 Christopher Cross – Never Be The Same

1980 Christopher Cross – Never Be The Same 

It can’t be easy to follow the kind of one-two punch that Christopher Cross managed with his first two solo singles. His first single, Ride Like The Wind, reached #2 on the Hot 100 and his follow-up, Sailing, topped the chart later in 1980. Despite their success on the Hot 100, the two singles stalled at #24 and #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Chris followed that early success with two more top forty singles, although neither one did as well as the first two singles, and radio stations tend to ignore both of them. 

Michael Omartian produced his entire first album, and Christopher wrote all the songs. Never Be The Same became the third single from the album, and it reached #15 on the Hot 100. While this may have been a step down from the first two singles, it gave him his first #1 record on the Adult Contemporary Chart.

His fourth single from the album turned out to be a disappointment. Say You’ll Be Mine only reached #20 on the Hot 100 and #15 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

 

In 1981, Christopher collaborated with Burt Bacharach and wife Carole Bayer Sager to co-wrote the theme from the film Arthur. His single release of that song took him back to the top of the charts again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Cross
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_Be_the_Same_(Christopher_Cross_song)

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1979 Chris Thompson & Night – Hot Summer Nights/If You Remember Me

1979 Chris Thompson & Night – Hot Summer Nights/If You Remember Me

Chris Thompson was born in England, but grew up in New Zealand. He played in a few bands there and in Australia before moving back to the UK and pursuing a career as a musician. He joined Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1976 and sang the lead vocals on their biggest hit, Blinded By The Light.

Stevie Vann grew up in Zambia when it was still known as Northern Rhodesia and went to school with Robert “Mutt” Lange. By the time she turned 16, she was already singing on her own television show. She moved to South Africa and recorded a pair of albums. She and Mutt met up again, joined the band Hocus, and got married. They also moved to the UK in the early seventies, where Stevie grew her career as a studio singer. Mutt began producing records in 1976.

In 1978, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band recorded the album Watch. While the album did not produce any standout hits, one of the backup studio singers was Stevie Vaughn. The next year, Chris and Stevie left the band and formed Night.

They recorded their first album, which contained their 1979 single Hot Summer Nights. Stevie sang lead on the song, which reached #18 on the Hot 100. They sold enough copies of the record to qualify for a gold record.

The next single from the album featured vocals by Chris. If You Remember Me. The recording became the theme song for the 1979 film The Champ, a remake of the boxing film from 1931. The film starred Jon Voight and helped launch Ricky Schroeder’s career.

The release from the album initially listed Cold Wind Across My Heart as the A-side of the single, but nobody played it at all. The B-side contained the song If You Remember Me from their album, but only credited Chris Thompson rather than Night. Disk jockeys started playing that side of the record, and it eventually reached #17 on the Hot 100 in late 1979.

The group released a second album the next year, but it didn’t contain any breakout singles. They disbanded in 1982.

Chris returned to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and continues to do studio work and works as a touring backup musician.

Stevie and Mutt divorced, and she pursued a solo career, returning to studio work as a singer. She toured with Elton John for two years in the early eighties and also worked with Mutt on several albums for Def Leppard.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_(rock_band)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevie_Vann
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Thompson_(English_musician)

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1978 Robert Palmer – Every Kind Of People

1978 Robert Palmer – Every Kind Of People

Robert Palmer grew up in England and joined his first band when he was only 15. In 1969, singer Jess Roden left the Alan Brown Set, and they invited Robert to take his place. His vocals on a new single were good enough that he recorded replacement vocals for their recent album.

Robert was a member of the jazz-rock fusion band DaDa in 1970 until he and two other members left to form Vinegar Joe. The new band released three soul/rock albums before disbanding in 1974.

Island Records signed Robert to a solo contract. He recorded his first solo album for them using the American funk band the Meters as his backup band. The album did fairly well in the US, but none of his singles charted in the Hot 100.

Robert and his wife moved to New York City and he recorded two more albums in 1976. The failure of the albums resulted in another move, this time to Nassau, the largest city in the Bahamas.

His next location resulted in the 1978 album that reflected the local Caribbean music. The first single from Double Fun was Every Kinda People. Andy Fraser, of the group Free, wrote the song. The single only reached #53 in the UK, but it launched Robert’s career in the US when it reached #16 on the Hot 100.

In 1985, Robert became a member of the supergroup Power Station and they scored two top ten singles. In 1987, he had a solo hit and earned his first Grammy Award with one of the most iconic music videos of the eighties, the chart-topping Addicted To Love.

Robert died in Paris in 2004 after a sudden heart attack at age 54. They buried him in Switzerland.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Palmer_(singer)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Palmer_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Every_Kinda_People

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1977 Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. – Your Love

1977 Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. – Your Love 

From 1967 to 1974, the 5th Dimension released twelve top twenty singles. Two of them reached the top of the Hot 100, and three more also made it to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Two of the singers, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., became married to each other. In 1975, they decided to leave the group and continue performing as a duo while also sometimes releasing solo work.

Their first single,  I Hope We Get To Love In Time, barely reached #91 on the Hot 100 before completely falling off the chart. Their second single, You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show) did much better; they released the record in 1976 and it reached the top of the Hot 100 in early 1977. They not only earned a gold record for selling over a million copies of the record, they also won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

CBS booked them to host their own Summer variety show that year. It was accurately named The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Show. No other African-American couple had ever before hosted a US television network show. 

Their follow-up to that success, Your Love, stalled at #15 on the Hot 100.

A pair of additional albums failed to produce much success, and the two concentrated more on solo careers in the early eighties. Marilyn hosted the syndicated television show Solid Gold for most of the eighties and also began acting in films.

Billy and Marilyn have remained married for over fifty years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_McCoo
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Davis_Jr.

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1976 Earth, Wind & Fire – Getaway

1976 Earth, Wind & Fire – Getaway 

Maurice White initially grew up in Memphis, but moved to Chicago when he became a teenager. He studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and played drums in local nightclubs.

He became an accomplished studio musician for Chess Records and played on hit records. He joined the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1966. By 1969, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead partnered with Maurice and the trio began recording as  the Salty Peppers.

After their moderate success proved to only be local, they moved to Los Angeles. Maurice renamed the group Earth, Wind & Fire, based on astrological signs and elements. The group eventually signed with Warner Brothers Records and began issuing albums in 1971. Singer Philip Bailey (and other musicians) joined the group the next year.

 Clive Davis bought the group’s contract from Warner Brothers and signed the band to CBS/Columbia Records. A series of moderate R&B hits followed through 1974.

The band signed to create the soundtrack for the 1975 film That’s the Way of the World. Maurice and Charles Stepney worked together to produce the soundtrack at the Caribou Ranch in 1975. They correctly predicted that the movie would fail at the box office. To avoid fallout from the looming failure, the released the album and the single Shooting Star before the film came out. They were correct about the film, and their single topped both the Hot 100 and the R&B chart.

The band released a successful live album in late 1975, and Maurice and Charles then began work on a new album the next year. At age 45, Charles had a heart attack and died, leaving Maurice had to finish production of the album without him.

The first single from the album Spirit was Getaway. The record reached #12 on the Hot 100 in 1976. It also topped the R&B chart and reached #12 on the Billboard Dance Singles chart.

The band’s tour for the album introduced new flourishes: pyrotechnics, magic, laser lights, flying pyramids, and levitating guitarists. The group even hired a magician and his assistant to help them stage the group rising into a pyramid and then disappearing – Doug Henning and David Copperfield.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth,_Wind_%26_Fire
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth,_Wind_%26_Fire_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getaway_(Earth,_Wind_%26_Fire_song)

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1975 Benny Bell – Shaving Cream

1975 Benny Bell – Shaving Cream 

Benjamin Zamberg was born in 1906 and grew up in New York City. After trying out a few ways to make a living, he settled on writing and performing in vaudeville. He wrote about 600 songs during his career, and recorded many of them on his own record labels using the names Benny Bell, Benny Bimbo, and Paul Wynn.

He initially recorded comedy songs and jingles. By the late thirties, he had begun recording risqué records for jukeboxes in cocktail bars. He had a great deal of success in the forties, but his most popular songs could not get played on radio stations.

One of the most popular songs Benny wrote was Shaving Cream. In spite of any initial claims by Benny, the original vocals for the song were sung by Phil Winston, and used one of Benny’s pseudonyms on the record labels: Paul Wynn. 

Benny and his music faded over time, but in the seventies he found newborn popularity thanks to Dr. Demento. Shaving Cream became one of the most popular recordings played on Demento’s show in the seventies.

Vanguard Records re-released the single in 1975. The label initially credited Benny Bell on the records, but initial controversy caused the label to retract the record. They re-released it with vocal credit going to Paul Wynn.

The single peaked at #30 on the Hot 100. Not bad for a thirty-year-old recording!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Bell
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaving_Cream_(song)

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Here is Benny himself on a special Doctor Demento show:

1974 Ozark Mountain Daredevils – If You Wanna Get To Heaven

1974 Ozark Mountain Daredevils – If You Wanna Get To Heaven 

In 1971, a group of musicians in the Springfield Missouri area began appearing as The Family Tree. Reports of another band using that name dashed their hopes, and they held a naming party. The result: Cosmic Corn Cob & His Amazing Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

Aside from being too long, the name also could have led to confusion with the then popular band The Amazing Rhythm Aces, so they shorted the name to The Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

They circulated a few demo tapes to various labels that displayed their unique mixture of pop, country, bluegrass, and pop. The band eventually signed with A&M Records in 1973. The label sent the band to England to record their first album, which was completed and issued late that year.

Band members Steve Cash and John Dillon wrote the band’s first single, If You Wanna Get To Heaven. The record reached #25 on the Hot 100 in 1974.

Members Steve Cash and Larry Lee wrote the band’s biggest hit the of Jackie Blue in 1975. That single came off the band’s second album and reached #3 on the Hot 100.

The band continued releasing albums on A&M Records through 1978 without reaching the top forty again. After that, they recorded on a myriad list of other labels, but they never again even reached the Hot 100.

Three of the members in a 1970 lineup are currently in the band, appearing in a limited number of shows annually.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ozark_Mountain_Daredevils
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_You_Wanna_Get_to_Heaven

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1973 Loudon Wainwright III – Dead Skunk

1973 Loudon Wainwright III – Dead Skunk

Loudon Wainwright III was born in North Carolina and grew up in Westchester County, just north of New York City. His father played piano and exposed Loudon and his siblings to unusual recordings, such as comedian Stan Freberg. His father was also a fan of Tom Lehrer, who was responsible for some very satiric songs on the US television show That Was The Week That Was.

Loudon learned to play guitar while in school, but when he moved to San Francisco, he sold his guitar to pay for yoga lessons. After moving back to the East Coast in the late sixties, he bought a guitar and began writing his own songs. He began playing in clubs in Boston and New York City and signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records. His first album came out in 1970 and featured the kind of comedic and/or satiric lyrics that would spring up during most of his career.

His one and only hit record came in 1972 when he recorded Dead Skunk. The single took its own sweet time climbing up the charts and peaked at #16 on the Hot 100 in the Spring of 1973.

Loudon began a second career In 1974. He appeared in three episodes of the M*A*S*H television show as Captain Calvin Spalding, the singing surgeon. He has since appeared in dozens of television shows and movies, often acting as a singer of some sort.

Probably some time in the early eighties, Loudon served as David Letterman’s first musical sidekick. There are few details on how long that relationship lasted, or even on which incarnation of David’s show was involved. David and Loudon also both showed up on the same show as guests of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show on July 13, 1984.

Loudon’s first wife was Kate McGarrigle, a folk singer/songwriter. They had two kids who also became singer/songwriters, and Loudon has another daughter who is also a singer.

Loudon has recorded at least twenty albums and four live albums. He recorded his most recent album in 2017 and is hard at work on finishing another one.

His most recent commentary on modern times is the aptly named song, Toilet Roll Blues.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudon_Wainwright_III
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0906525/
https://decider.com/2018/11/16/loudon-wainwright-iii-surviving-twin-on-netflix-review/

I have collected older articles about Lost or Forgotten Oldies in my books.

Please visit my author page on Amazon where I sell my paperbacks, eBooks, and audiobooks. I priced a special eBook at only 99 cents!

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