WLS Music Survey - April 5, 1980 (Part One: The Thirty-threes)

(As has been the case a lot over the past two months, I've been distracted by life. The words below represent my fourth attempt at writing about the Thirty-threes section of the WLS Survey dated April 5, 1980. Somewhere along the journey of writing this post, I decided not to write about the Jock Of The Week or the Concerts In The Week Ahead sections of the survey though they are pictured below. I wish I could tell you that the accompanying Forty-fives post will be published soon but after two passes through it, I have decided to delete what I wrote and start from scratch. Then I have to find and edit the graphical part of that post. Don't hold your breath, loyal readers.)

In early April 1980, I was a few weeks away from my 14th birthday and finishing up eighth-grade. Among the many checkmarks (denoting weakness) on my eighth-grade report card are ones for Obedience, Initiative, Self Control, Work Habits, and Conduct in Language Arts, Social Studies, Supervised Study, and Industrial Arts. My Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Usher, gave me more pluses (+ = outstanding) than any other teacher but she only had to deal with me for one class period. She also gave me a question mark in Work Habits for the second quarter, writing this comment as well:
"it looked like you lost a step or dropped a stitch or something! Jump back up on top of the situation. I have no doubts in your ability to do so! Get working!"
During the week, I listened to WLS before and after school but during the weekend, I listened to whatever Dad was blasting from the basement. Usually, it was his albums though he always took time out to listen to American Top 40 on WLRW and I listened right along. My income stream was pretty steady from delivering our town's weekly paper and mowing huge green lawns around town every other week. Having left my childhood vices of football cards, comics, and 45s behind, I was now spending most of my hard-earned loot exclusively on albums, including these ten albums from the list of WLS Thirty-threes for the week ending April 5, 1980.
Love Stinks from the J. Geils Band debuts on the WLS albums list this week at #33 on its way to a peak of #18 in late April and again in mid-June. Upon today's listen, Love Stinks still holds up for this listener but then again I was unfamiliar with their prior recordings (8 studio and 2 live albums) and didn't realize the band was making a naked bid for commercial success that would culminate in 1981's platinum-selling Freeze-Frame and ultimately lead to the group's downfall.
Jefferson Starship's Freedom At Point Zero — or more precisely the album's crunchy Foreigner-esque single "Jane" — hit me hard. I was blissfully ignorant of the band's long history, changing lineup and back catalog so "Jane" was a clean, fresh introduction and it just sounded so so good on the radio. Even after just now listening to the album again I am hard-pressed to name another track so I'm just going to listen to "Jane" a few more times. Freedom At Point Zero is down one this week to #31 after peaking at #9 at end of January. Next week would prove to be the album's final week on the Thirty-threes chart, as it bounced up two spots to #29 before falling off the chart.
Led Zeppelin's In Through The Out Door is a curiosity on many levels. First, it came wrapped in a plain brown wrapper, as seen above. Second, the album inside the plain brown wrapper had one of six subtlety different album covers (seen below) with inner sleeves that changed from black & white to color when you got them wet.
Third, the music was unlike any that had been heard on previous Zep LP's, suggesting a maturity level and musical diversity heretofore unimagined. In Through The Out Door spent seven weeks atop the Thirty-threes during September, October, and November 1979 and it's still holding on at #26 this week, down three from the prior week. It would last another four weeks before leaving the list having also made #3 on the Big 33 of 1979. WLS engaged in a late-Summer promo blitz for the album's upcoming tour complete with a four-night stand scheduled at Chicago Stadium from November 10th through the 15th. Then Bonham drank himself into the next world, the tour was scrapped and the surviving members decided not to continue on as a unit. 
In just its second week among the Thirty-threes, the fantastic self-titled debut album from the Pretenders jumps up nine to hit #20 making it the biggest mover and greatest gainer of the week. Pretenders would peak at #3 in June 1980 in the midst of a 28-week run on the Thirty-threes eventually coming in at #16 on the year-end Big 33 of 1980. Pretenders still sounds as fresh and new after hundreds of spins as it did the first few times I listened to it though nowadays I prefer to listen to it in tandem with the two album outtakes from 1981's Extended Play and then Pretenders II for nearly two hours of really great music.
Anticipation for But The Little Girls Understand was high after the smash success of Get The Knack and it sold really well... for the first two weeks. The album debuted at #27 then leaped up to #12 before sliding down and off the chart over the next nine weeks. This week on the Thirty-threes chart, The Knack's sophomore album drops four spots to #19. As a 13-year-old boy, I needed this album though I remember buying it only after my Dad talked me out of my first choice (Ronstadt's Mad Love) because he said he had just ordered it. (I guess he knew I was still sneaking his records at that point, even after getting severely punished for repeated violations.) Nearly forty years later, the album is in near pristine condition gathering dust on The Album Wall having not been played for at least 20-25 years until I just now gave it a spin. Don't know if I'll ever have an occasion to listen to it again.
On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II was one of two double albums I got on Christmas Morning 1979 (Thanks Mom and Dad! I mean Santa!) and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. This week, the album sits at #17 down one from the previous week. It had peaked at #4 over Christmas and would spend another six weeks on WLS's album charts after this week ending up at #31 on the Big 33 of 1980.
Coming of age in the heartland of the midwest meant a steady diet of four rock acts above all others: Bob Seger, REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, and Styx. The latter group's Cornerstone is at #14 this week down a spot from the previous week, and a peak two-week engagement at #1 over Christmas 1979. Cornerstone would spend nine months on the Thirty-threes and finish at #6 on The Big 33 of 1979. I've always preferred the band's guitar-fueled rockers to their keyboard-led ballads though my favorite Styx track "Come Sail Away" bridges both camps quite nicely.
Michael Jackson's Off The Wall really shouldn't have come as such a revelation after hearing Destiny, the last album he recorded with his brothers before Off The Wall (down three this week to #12 after peaking at #5 the previous month) yet it hit pretty hard thanks in large part to what Quincy Jones brought to the project. The album would spend eleven months on the WLS list of albums including ten weeks in the top 10. I loved this album in 1980 and it ended up at #22 on the Big 33 that year.
I have a confession to make: I did not set out to buy the Glass Houses album. Dad had gotten both The Stranger and 52nd Street from Columbia House and I was confident that Glass Houses would also show up in a few months so I went to buy the 45 of "You May Be Right" on a Saturday afternoon trip to the BX. The single was sold out and I was jonesing to hear that song over & over again on my Soundesign stereo system. Since I happened to have enough cash on me to buy the album that is exactly what I did. A bunch of other folks up north in the Greater Chicagoland area had been buying the album as well as it moves up three clicks to #9 this week on its way to spending 11 non-consecutive weeks at #1 from July through September 1980, its streak was broken for two weeks by The Blues Brothers soundtrack album. Glass Houses would end up as the #1 album on the year-end Big 33 of 1980 list with 26 weeks in the Top 10 while The Blues Brothers finished at #12.
On our way out of town one weekend, Dad stopped at the local Gibson's (Pamida?) department store for "supplies". Dad headed to back of the store, Mom and my sis headed to the clothing section and I took a left turn into the music department, on a mission to find Journey's Departure album because "Any Way You Want It" was my absolute most favorite song and I had only found out earlier that week that the song was on that particular album. Much like the Glass Houses scenario above, the store was out of the album on vinyl so, in a moment of quick-thinking brilliance, I bought the eight-track tape thinking I could listen to it almost immediately when we got back in the car. After we all made our purchases and headed out to Dad's recently restored 1968 Chevelle SS 396 with an eight-track deck mounted beneath the dash just inches above the transmission hump in the floorboard. I quickly unwrapped the tape, handed to Dad and asked him to play it all before he had even turned the key in the ignition. He took the tape, looked at it and said "No" before handing it back to me. It wasn't until we returned home the next day that I got a chance to play my tape. I don't recall when I bought my first copy of Departure on vinyl but my second copy came from Columbia House on September 5, 1985Departure moved up one to #5 this week and would peak the following week at #4, spend eight more weeks in the Top 10 and end up at #19 on the Big 33 of 1980.
Here's a cover gallery of all the albums on the Thirty-threes list for the week ending April 5, 1980, from #33 in the upper left to #1 in the lower right.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Dad, that's pretty harsh.

    Great stuff as always. Thank you sir.