The one where the good doctor
confesses to being a Fanilow*
Hello and welcome back. What started as a lark ("Hey, can you listen to these playlists and tell me what you think?" or something like that) has grown into one of the most eagerly anticipated and highest viewed features here at HERC's Hideaway. Once again, HERC's esteemed colleague Dr. Mark aka "the soft rock kid", the man behind the wonderful blogs The CD Project and My Favorite Decade, gives us his views and opinions on the dozen pop and adult contemporary ("soft rock") hits that make up the made up Radio Daze: Pop Hits Of The '80s, Volume Eight. The songs are all from March through July 1982, universally acknowledged as the single greatest year in pop music history.
The Soft Rock Doc has scrubbed in and acquired signatures on all the pertinent liability release forms - let's do this, shall we:
- Shanghai Breezes – John Denver, released March 1982, Pop #31, AC #1. This one is hard to listen to and write about because I attach it to a bad marching band arrangement I played in the fall of 1982. I don’t remember it from the radio; I was unfamiliar with it before I played that bad arrangement. It’s sure got a catchy chorus, but I could do without the rest.
- Let’s Hang On – Barry Manilow, released March 1982, Pop #32, AC #6. By the time this single was released, Manilow's star was fading, although he desperately tried to stay up-to-date with this disco cover of The Four Seasons song. It which might have been great if it had been released 3 or 4 years earlier. As a vocalist, Manilow is no Frankie Valli, but as a confessed Fanilow and disco lover, I can’t help but dance along with Barry.
- Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny) – Elton John, released March 1982, Pop #13, AC #18. I have no memory of this one. As a tribute to John Lennon, I know should like it, but it just doesn’t have a melodic hook that grabs me. It keeps building, but never gets to where it needs to go.
- Personally – Karla Bonoff, released April 1982, Pop #19, AC #3. I always liked this one although I couldn’t have told you who sung it if you’d asked. I dig the Hammond organ punctuations, horn parts, and the syncopated chorus. It’s got a slight country feel to me; I’m surprised it didn’t place on the country charts.
- Just Another Day In Paradise – Bertie Higgins, released May 1982, Pop #46, AC #10, Country #90. As a complete rip-off of Jimmy Buffet’s "Margaritaville", it’s not bad. Maybe that was the point.
- Did It In A Minute – Hall & Oates, released May 1982, Pop #9, AC #29. More West Coast AOR than H&O’s usual Philly blue-eyed soul. IMO, this is one of the duo’s stronger early ‘80s tracks, I can’t believe it wasn’t included on their 1983 greatest hits package. Spoiler alert: this would be my favorite track on this playlist if Stevie Wonder wasn’t coming up in a few.
- Any Day Now – Ronnie Milsap, released May 1982, Pop #14, AC #1, Country #1. My wife absolutely adores Milsap, so I hafta like him by default, right? But any song written by Burt Bacharach is hard to hate, so I would like this one even if the wife wasn’t a fan. I met Milsap backstage at a concert around 1990 and found him to be great guy. His backing band loved him, which tells you everything you need to know about the man.
- Man On Your Mind – Little River Band, released May 1982, Pop #14, AC #26. Like the earlier Manilow song, this was released by a band trying to capture past glory. This song is good, not great, but it certainly pales in comparison to "Reminiscing".
- Do I Do – Stevie Wonder, released June 1982, Pop #13, AC #25, R&B #2, Dance #1. Loveitloveitloveit! Most of the time, artists tack on crappy new songs to fill out greatest hits compilations, but you know Stevie wouldn’t do that to us (this time). So, on his Original Musiquarium I, he gives us this great gift. You really need to hear the original 10 minute version with Dizzy Gillespie trumpet solo for complete satisfaction. Rated A for Awesome.
- Love Will Turn You Around – Kenny Rogers, released July 1982, Pop #13, AC #1, Country #1. I don’t love it, but I can’t stop myself from singing along with it. I don’t know what that says about me or the song. Now it will be stuck in my head for days. Thanks, Herc.
- Sara – Bill Champlin, released July 1982, Pop #61, AC #19. Co-written by Champlin and Alan Thicke (yes, THAT Alan Thicke). A wonderful ballad from the Champlin’s overlooked (and recommended) Runaway album, which I refer to as “Chicago 15½” because of it’s similarity to Chicago 16. In addition to Champlin, the two albums share musicians and producer David Foster.
- What’s Forever For – Michael Martin Murphey, released July 1982, Pop #19, AC #4, Country #1. I know what you’re probably expecting here: “This song is too country for this soft rock kid,” but I like it. I think its just a soft rock song with a slide guitar added to give it a country sound. The chorus hooks me and won’t let go.