FLASHBACK: America's Top 10 August 17, 1980

America's Top 10 made it's debut a few months earlier in 1980 and by August, Casey and the staff were still tinkering with the format.  In this episode, the Top 10s of four major charts are covered instead of the later usual three but there are three Spotlight videos presented.  In addition, the show's creative team worked up their own rock fashion through the years montage video to Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock N Roll To Me".  A very brief interview with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards as well as a feature on Tiny Tim were featured in the original half hour broadcast but both were trimmed from the burtiscurtis09 video below.  For his part, Casey is very laid back, relaxed and super casual in his comfy chair for most of the show.

As an incoming high school freshman in August 1980, I had a meager income from a once a week optional pay (most people did not pay) paper route (Rantoul Press) and $5 a week allowance.  Consequently, I was still relying on my father's album purchases.  From this list, he had #10 Seger's Against the Wind, #8 Christopher Cross and Diana Ross's Diana at #6.  I had Queen (#5) and Jackson Browne (#2) at the time but would add #4 Urban Cowboy, #3 Billy Joel and #1 The Rolling Stones to my collection before I turned fifteen, if not shortly thereafter.  The Game was far and away my favorite album at the time.

Pop Spotlight

This is a wonderful Top 10 in my opinion and I hope I didn't dilute it by making the playlist a Top 20 listing.  Rock of both the soft and lesser hard varieties along with a little post disco and R&B.  The only thing missing is a bit of the country pop that was dominating the country chart at the time thanks to Urban Cowboy.  Listening to this Top 20 playlist takes me back to Summer 1980 with two a day football practices and basement parties.

Country Spotlight

Okay, so maybe Urban Cowboy wasn't "dominating" the chart but it was making an impact and by year's end no less than three tracks off of the double (wide) soundtrack album would top the Country chart including two songs on this week's chart: #7 "Lookin' For Love" and #4 "Stand By Me".  The former was my jam.


I owned none of the Top 10 Soul LPs back then.  Hated the Larry Graham slow jam and thought Cameo's "Shake Your Pants" was a P-Funk thang.  But once school started, I spent many a quarter playing Benson's "Give Me The Night" in the school cafeteria's jukebox.   (We also had vending machines in the cafeteria.  I thought that was how all high schools were until the very next year when we moved and I attended a different school.)  Would have dropped even more coins if "Take Your Time (Do It Right)" was on there as it was my jam.

I am proud to have a framed copy of Sanborn's Hideaway album looking down upon me as I type this.  It was a gift from the soft rock kid.  It makes the fourth album I have from this Top 10  though back in the day I had none of them.

Disco wasn't dead in 1980 as the songs on this chart evidence.  Some funk and R&B was creeping in but there was still plenty of disco dynamite blowin' up on dance floors across the country.  As for me, I dug the synth bassline(?) from Kano's "I'm Ready" and seem to recall it getting a few spins during skate nights at the rink.

Adult Contemporary was still welcoming country and R&B crossovers with open arms in 1980 and that was a good thing in my book.  Soon the walls between formats would be erected and radio would no longer be the primary way to hear ALL the good music.  Kim Carnes take on Smokey's "More Love" is clearly the stand-out track on this chart.  The fact that the number one song in the land was also the number one AC song is kind of weird though or am I just ignorant to a trend?

As usual, Australia, much like Austin, was keeping it weird.  Disco at the top of the chart and a lame Kiss ballad was close behind.  Some power pop new wave battled some homeland acts while two Johns, Elton and Olivia-Newton, rounded out the Top 10.  Then as now, I prefer the masturbatory tribute of "Turning Japanese".

Jazz-funk, disco, pop, R&B, funk, Bowie and ABBA all populate the UK Top 10 chart for the week of August 16, 1980.  Very diverse hits for the daft pop lovin' English.  In a close race, I believe my favorite track back then was Sheena Easton's "Morning Train (Nine To Five)" though I am pretty sure it wasn't yet being played here in the States yet.  I can't find any evidence of radio airplay before January 1981 and it didn't debut on the Hot 100 until Valentine's Day 1981.  She performed the song on the March 28, 1981 episode of American Bandstand so I am flummoxed and obviously misremembering.

Besides America's Top 10, the only other first-run (non-repeat) music show on that weekend according to my research was episode 38 of season 23 of American Bandstand. The musical guest that weekend was Ali Thomson, who performed two songs: "Take A Little Rhythm" and "Live Every Moment".  Ali is the younger brother of Supertramp bassist, Dougie Thomson.  While I could not find Ali's Bandstand performance, a fan preserved and shared Ali's appearance on Kids Are People, Too from around the same time frame:

The previous week's episode of American Bandstand featured Kim Carnes performing "More Love" and "Tear Me Apart".  Once again, bupkis on the AB video but here's a really cool performance of "More Love" from a show I used to watch after Denny Terrio's Dance Fever:

"Another One Bites The Dust" debuted on the Hot 100 chart dated August 16, 1980 on its way to #1 less than two months later.  I had purchased the parent album The Game back at end of June and it was my favorite album at the time and would prove to be the group's breakthrough here in the States. "Need Your Loving Tonight", my favorite track on the album, would finally get a single release in November but it would fail to crack the Top 40.

Miss Ross's "Upside Down" was a mega hit, perched at the top or near the top of countless charts.  She was into her third decade as a performer at the time and actually had enough clout to remix the album's tracks after they had been finished by the red-hot CHIC Org. to bring her vocals more to the front of the mix.  A couple of decades later, I got a call at work as the manager of the largest video store in town and asked how many people were in the store.  It was about 1PM and we were slow, so I gave the caller the headcount (4) and he told me he was calling from the swankiest resort in town and a VIP would be entering shortly and I was to treat her as I would any other customer or guest.  Moments later, Miss Ross walked in, wearing jeans, flats and a button up white shirt unbuttoned to reveal a white tank top.  She took her sunglasses off as she approached me at the counter, setting a pile of magazines down.  She introduced herself with a soft-spoken "Hi" and a petite extended hand.  I shook the hot chocolate brown colored hand and smelled the subtle floral fragrance she was exuding.  Despite the passage of time, her face looked exactly like it does in this ad - soft, smooth and flawless.  She told me she wanted to pick about a dozen movies to watch over the next few days and she brought the magazines in to show me the ones she was interested in.  She had bookmarked reviews and interviews and articles with the subscription cards that came with the magazines.  One by one, I rounded up the videos she requested as she stood at the counter with her sunglasses back on, turning her head away and down each time someone came in the entrance or approached the counter.  Two of her requests hadn't been released on video yet and she asked why.  I explained the movie to video chain and she nodded but didn't seem to get it but then again no one ever did.  I scanned the moves out to the resort's account which always had a huge pre-paid credit balance on it, bagged up her videos and her magazines and she thanked me and left. Seconds later, the driver of her town car came in through the exit to retrieve both bags.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back! And balanced is restored to my humdrum existence. Love that story about Ross.