Welcome to a new week of Top 40 music! This week, we are back to the U.S. charts. This week, we are hopping in the Delorian, and heading to 1986. At this time in 1986, I was beginning to head towards the end of my Sophomore year of high school. Academically, this was a horrible time for me. But, there was great music, TV, and movies to help get me by.
As usual, if you want to listen to the song/watch the video, you can click on the song title. If you want to purchase or listen to the song on Amazon, you can click on the album cover. Now, let’s Return to the week ending April 5, 1986, and start the countdown!
Level 42 had about 42 top 40 hits in the U.K. OK, I may be exaggerating a bit. They actually had 20, but 42 would have been cooler. However, in the U.S., they only had 2 hits in the U.S., with this being the first. Maybe we’ll catch more Level 42 songs when we head back to the U.K.
This article was written by special guest writer, Jim Vilk. Jim loyally Returns to the ’80s every day, and we correspond frequently. I have always loved Level 42’s “Something About You”. However, like a lot of us, I knew very little else about them. Well, this happens to be Jim’s favorite band, and he pointed to a Mark King bass solo, and I was blown away. My first reaction was that more people need to know about this band! And what better person to write about them than a huge fan. Jim is the author of a children’s book called The Not-So-Great State Bird Debate*. It is a very timely book to get this election year, so I would highly recommend it.
Well, I’ve done enough yapping, so without further adieu, I present Jim Vilk’s article – “One-Hit Wonders? Not Level 42!”
Now that we’ve gotten past 1986 in the One-Hit Wonders series, some of you may be thinking, what about Level 42? After all, if your 80s station is like mine, when you hear their name you just know you’re going to hear “Something About You.”
That song makes me cringe ever so slightly for two reasons. First, I get flashbacks of Mark King’s creepy Vaudeville-ish character in the video (which is very out of character for the humorous, down-to-earth bass player/vocalist). Second, while the song itself is excellent, these days it makes me want to yell at my radio, “They have lots of songs that are even better! Play those for a change!”
From 1979 to 1994, and from 2001 to the present day, Level 42 has been making wonderful music – both live and in the studio. The British jazz-funk band turned into pop music stars over the course of the 80s, with twenty UK Top 40 hits to their credit and two Top 40 hits in America. “Something About You,” the highest-rated track from their sixth studio album World Machine, was released in England in 1985. The following year, it climbed all the way to #7 on the US Billboard charts. Later in 1986, the band released the single “Lessons In Love,” which ended up on the 1987 album Running In The Family. Remember this video?
That song is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s one of the reasons Level 42 is now my favorite band. It went to #12 on the US charts, while across the pond it became the most successful of the band’s singles.
For a glimpse of what most Americans have missed, here is a brief history from the band’s web site, http://www.level42.com/band/biography/
and here are some of Level 42’s songs from the 80s:
From the early days, when the band recorded the occasional instrumental number, this is “Mr. Pink”:
“Hot Water” was the most successful song on the album True Colours. It ended up on the US version of World Machine as well, and on the live album A Physical Presence. The live version made it to #87 on the Billboard charts.
Yes, they can do ballads, too. My favorite song from the World Machine album (and another one of my all-time favorites), here’s “Leaving Me Now”:
The title track from Running In The Family spent four weeks on the US charts, where it peaked at #83. You might remember this video:
The final studio album of the 80s, Staring At The Sun, was the first after original drummer Phil Gould and his guitar-playing brother Boon left the band. This is “Heaven In My Hands”:
Level 42 toured the US in 1987 as an opening act for Madonna. They wouldn’t return here until 2010, when they visited a handful of cities to celebrate their 30th anniversary and the release of their box set titled Living It Up. I was lucky enough to see them in person both times. Members have come and gone, but two things have remained constant: Mark King, and fantastic live performances highlighted by his thumb-slapping bass solos.
There are so many other videos I’d love to share with you, but you get the idea. Now if only American radio would realize there’s a lot more to Level 42 than “Something About You.”
Voting isn’t for the birds, but Great Blue Heron thinks so. He’s running against Cardinal to be the new state bird. Will it be a great blue state, or will it remain a redbird state? And will either bird learn anything while running for office? A fun story for birds of any color and for people of any political party. Whether you’re right-wing or left-wing, you’ll flock to this book!
10. We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off – Jermaine Stewart
9. Stuck With You – Huey Lewis and The News
8. Spies Like Us – Paul McCartney
7. All Cried Out – Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam With Full Force
6. Sleeping Bag – ZZ Top
5. Love Touch – Rod Stewart
4. Crush On You – The Jets
3. Holding Back the Years – Simply Red
2. Broken Wings – Mr. Mister
1. That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne Warwick and Friends
This was another tough one for me. I didn’t have too much of a problem with the Horrible songs. But there were so many songs that I liked, I had a hard time narrowing it down. If I compiled a list again for this year next week, there could be 10 totally different songs on the list. But, this is what I have right now.
First, the Horrible:
5. Kiss – Prince and The Revolution
I think that only dogs can hear Prince singing this song. It is waaaay to high pitched for me, and gives me quite the headache. I much prefer his Purple Rain songs, and a few others. But this song just goes right through me.
4. Take My Breath Away – Berlin/h3>
The Top Gun soundtrack had some great songs, such as Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”, “Playing With the Boys” (despite the association with that horrific volleyball scene in the movie), and Loverboy’s “Heaven in Your Eyes”. This Berlin song just ruins the whole thing. It’s long, boring, droning song. “Heaven In Your Eyes” should have been the only ballad on this soundtrack – unless they got Soundtrack King Kenny Loggins to record one.
3. Stuck With You – Huey Lewis and The News:
This song spent 3 weeks at number 1! Are you kidding me!?! I think they were still be rewarded for their Sports album. This song was off of the Fore album. For me, “Stuck With You” feels like “If This Is It, Part 2”. And if you look at my list of 1984 Horrible Hits, you will notice that I didn’t think too much of that song either.
2. Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel
Much like Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing”, this song was probably a huge hit because of it’s innovative video. This song was way too overrated. I love Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”, but I could never change the station fast enough when this crappy song came on.
1. Nikita – Elton John
I love a lot of Elton John’s songs. But, he also has many horrible songs. And this clunker is the bottom of the barrel for me. I like some of Elton’s 80s songs. But it’s songs like “Nikita” that make me prefer his songs from the ’70s.
And here are the Great hits of 1986:
10. Burning Heart – Survivor: This song was on the Rocky IV Soundtrack. It wasn’t as big a hit as “Eye of the Tiger”, but it’s still a really good song. Great for working out or running to at the time.
8. Why Can’t This Be Love – Van Halen: This was the first Van Halen song with Sammy Hagar as the lead singer. They proved that they could be successful without David Lee Roth. There was not a bad song on the 5150 album. And “Why Can’t This Be Love” proved that they could perform great ballads as well as rockers.
6. Your Love – The Outfield: The Outfield’s popularity exploded in the U.S. with the release of this song. This is a fun song that I enjoy a lot.
5. All I Need Is A Miracle – Mike + The Mechanics
This Supergroup was formed by Mike Rutherford of Genesis, and featured Paul Carrack and Paul Young (not to be confused with the Paul Young who sang “Every Time You Go Away”) on vocals. This is a really good, upbeat song. “The Living Years” is probably my favorite song from the ’80s, but this song isn’t too bad itself.
4. Amanda – Boston
After having a string of great songs in the late ’70s, Boston hadn’t had anything new for 7 years. Then they finally came back in 1986 with their Third Stage album, and “Amanda” was the lead single. The song went number one for 2 weeks in a row. Boston was consistenly great, and this is no exception.
“When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” was the theme song for the Romancing the Stone sequel, Jewel of the Nile. Billy Ocean has a great voice, and this was a fun song.
2. You Give Love a Bad Name – Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi was a pretty good rock band, with two albums under their belt, when they released Slippery When Wet. When “You Give Love a Bad Name” was released as the first single, the band’s popularity went through the stratosphere. This was a great song as people that were into rock liked it, and people that were more into pop were still drawn to this.
1. Glory of Love – Peter Cetera
I was always a Chicago fan, so I was sad when Cetera left the band. But the band went on to continue being successful, and Peter Cetera didn’t do to shabby himself. “Glory of Love” was Cetera’s first solo song, and it was a smash hit. It was on his album Solitude/Solitaire, and was the theme song for The Karate Kid Part II. I could not get enough of this song when it came out.