Ranking #26 singles, U.S. edition: 1979-82

Saving my Hague candidates for egregious violations of taste and decency, I have avoided targeting small fry; but when you’re a woman as wealthy, influential, and gifted as Christine McVie, you have no business supporting — producing! — the author of a limply tuneful inspirational anthem like “Don’t Give It Up.” I suppose Robbie Patton got the last laugh: a song he co-wrote with McVie called “Hold Me” released on Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage the following late spring hovered at #4 for several weeks, one of their biggest hits.

But why waste time on Phys ed chants when a glacier-solid rocker like “She’s So Cold” exists? Relentless, piled with hook on hook, it crawled to a position that didn’t reflect its ubiquity — it was the “old” Stones song from childhood I knew as well as “Start Me Up.” For COVID-starved readers, le me assure you that my karaoke version is *chef’s kiss*.Genesis and Donald Fagen score expected triumphs. Herbie Mann’s “Superman” is better novelty disco than you remember.. Tycoon and Sound, Solid contender Blackfoot contributed unfamiliar performances to me. They provide the cool re-contexualization for predictable triumphs on this list like Talking Heads’ Al Green cover and Toto’s first hit.

The Hague

Robbie Patton – Don’t Give It Up

Meh

Foreigner – Break It Up
REO Speedwagon – Sweet Time
Styx – Why Me
Stacy Lattisaw – Love on a Two-Way Street

Sound, Solid

Foreigner – Jukebox Hero
Blackfoot – Highway Song
Toto – 99
Gonzalez – Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet

Good to Great

Cheap Trick – Dream Police
The Rolling Stones – She’s So Cold
Skyy – Call Me
Talking Heads – Take Me to the River
Genesis – Abacab
Donald Fagen – IGY (What a Wonderful World)
Herbie Mann – Superman
Loverboy (with Nancy Nash) – When It’s Over
Tycoon – Such a Woman

5 thoughts on “Ranking #26 singles, U.S. edition: 1979-82

  1. Talking Heads did to Al Green here what Al Green did to countless acts: Willie Nelson, the Bee Gees, even the Temptations: taking a song, completely re.contextualize it to your time-frame and your sound. Make it your own. Fitting. Un-copy-able; un-cover-able forevermore. One of the most succesful and best renditions ever. The spectral funk of the Heads were something else. One of the very few acts I could say with total certainty were fully formed from their fist single on. 1977 gave us lots of these.

    Glad to se Cheap Trick there. As a power pop junkie, I mean.

  2. According to Chris Frantz, Brian Eno told the band when recording “Take Me To The River” that they should try to play it as slowly as they could. Sage words. The song was my introduction to TVLKING HEVDS and a “seminal single” for me in my acknowledgement of the New Wave.

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