Lay It Down

(Pictured: the Los Angeles band Ratt. This is why they called it “hair metal.”)

If you are not as old as I (and some days, I feel like nobody is as old as I), allow me to take you back only as far as the 80s for the latest installment of One Week in the 40, a series about records to last a single week in the Billboard Top 40. See what’s on the flip.

—Alice Cooper says that because of his alcoholism, he can’t remember recording several of his early 80s albums. So it’s up to us to remember that the new-wavey “Clones (We’re All)” spent its lone week at #40 starting on July 5, 1980.

—The Midwestern prog-rock of Kansas always skated the line between ridiculous and awesome, and the power ballad “Hold On” is a little bit of both. It reached #40 for the week of November 8, 1980.

—Although they moved a lot of albums beginning in the late 70s, Rainbow scored only one Top 40 hit: “Stone Cold,” which was likely mistaken for Foreigner by lots of people on its way to #40 for the week of June 19, 1982.

—Dave Edmunds was best known in the States for his 1971 hit “I Hear You Knocking” and maybe for his membership in Rockpile, which also featured Nick Lowe. He was a prolific producer too, of acts including the Stray Cats and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. On July 30, 1983, “Slipping Away,” produced by Jeff Lynne, became Edmunds’ second Top 40 hit, reaching #39.

—Where Michigan had Bob Seger, Ohio had the Michael Stanley Band. Stanley’s biggest hit, “He Can’t Love You,” somehow made it only to #33 (actually 35 years ago this week) despite kicking every ass in the neighborhood; in 1983, “My Town” spent the week of November 12, 1983, at #39.

—Bon Jovi started a string of monster singles in 1986 with “You Give Love a Bad Name,” but it was actually their fifth Hot 100 hit. The first one, “Runaway,” was the only one to make the Top 40, hitting #39 for the week of April 21, 1984.

—The Australian band Real Life hit is best remembered for “Send Me an Angel,” which hit the Top 40 twice: once early in 1984 and five years later as “Send Me an Angel ’89.” In between, “Catch Me I’m Falling” hit #40 for the week of May 5, 1984. Don’t confuse it with “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” by the Kinks or “Catch Me (I’m Falling)” by Pretty Poison. I did.

—On the subject of songs you should not confuse, “Oh Girl” by Boy Meets Girl is not the song that was a hit for the Chi-Lites in the early 70s and Paul Young in the early 90s. This “Oh Girl” reached #39 for the week of May 25, 1985—better than three years before “Waiting for a Star to Fall” went to #5.

—Real Life and Boy Meets Girl propel us back to the glory days of MTV, where every band needed a photogenic lead singer and nobody used real drums. Also on that list is Animotion, whose “Obsession” had reached the Top 10. They scraped to #39 with “Let Him Go” for the week of July 27, 1985.

—In the mid-80s, it could not be bad for music video to have a model in it, scantily clad if possible. The band Ratt signed up 1982 Playboy Playmate of the Year Marianne Gravatte for the cover of their 1985 album Invasion of Your Privacy, and for the video “Lay It Down.” The song hit #40 on the Hot 100 for the week of August 17, 1985.

—The Hooters, from Philadelphia, were the next big thing for a while. Band members Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman first came to prominence when they backed Cyndi Lauper on She’s So Unusual. A year later, the Hooters were Rolling Stone‘s best new band of the year, they got to play at Live Aid, they were on MTV constantly, and their album Nervous Night was a smash. “Where Do the Children Go” reached #38 for the week of May 24, 1986. Although they remained an MTV staple through the end of the decade, they’d never return to the Top 40.

There are a few more 80s hits on the list, and we’ll get to them eventually.

6 responses

  1. You point out rightly that many of these artists were MTV bands, but the one I recall getting pushed the hardest was Rainbow. For a while, “Stone Cold” was being played roughly once an hour on MTV, and I am not even exaggerating.

  2. My favorite of all of those is “Slipping Away.” I was really surprised that it didn’t catch on, given the Jeff Lynne connection. But then, at that point, ELO was past its peak, and the Traveling Wilburys were still several years away…

    1. title track of Edmunds’ LP “Information” is really good too, with an appropriate nonsensical music video. “The first rule is that there are no rules!!”

  3. “He Can’t Love You” is one of the greatest should-have-been-a-huge-hits-but-somehow-was-not tunes on my iPod (which is packed with undervalued minor hits). There is not a more infectious rocker in this or any other universe.

  4. Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman got started in a band called Baby Grand who put out 2 albums in 1977 & 1978 of what I would call prog pop.
    Now I excuse me while I go pick up the October 1982 issue of Playboy and Lay It Down…

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