British Acts that Weren’t One Hitters

One of my pet peeves when talking about music from the 1980s is when people assume acts were One Hit Wonders because their most popular song is constantly played on radio stations or on compilation CDs (along with the term “Hair Metal,” which really drives me nuts, because the band’s hair had nothing to do with their musical talents).  Some people may not know but the radio format plays the same songs almost every hour, even during “Time Warp” Weekends (where radio stations play all songs from the 1980s), so it’s easy for newer listeners to assume that some of these music acts only had one hit, for instance when people  think of the band Mr. Mister, they think of “Broken Wings,” but forget about “Kyrie” or “Is It Love,” which both hit the U.S. Charts, or the Australian band Icehouse, who recorded the song “Electric Blue,” but forget about my favorite of the band, “Crazy,” which hit #14 in 1987. Or even the Canadian band Men Without Hats, who we know from “The Safety Dance” hitting #11 on the U.S. Charts, but do you remember their other 1987 hit “Pop Goes The World” that charted at #20?

We can blame it on ignorance (not everyone studied music like I did, trying to know who wrote the songs or its chart position due to my childhood listening to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40” every Saturday Morning), or due to the format of radio today, but I thought I’d look (an hopefully inform) at a few British acts that are usually viewed as One Hit Wonders, but really weren’t.

 

  1. Cutting Crew. This act’s big hit “I Just Died In Your Arms” was recently used in “The Lego Batman Movie”.  The group broke in the U.S. with the 1986 album “Broadcast,” which had this famous song. However, the band hit the U.S. Charts with the #9 “I’ve Been In Love Before,” which is my favorite of the band. The song was actually the third single in the U.S., but was a huge hit for them.  The band also was in the Top 40 with a second single from the album, “One For The Mockingbird”, but it wasn’t until they took another chance with “Been In Love” after it only hit #31 in the UK as the follow up song for “I Just Died In Your Arms.”  The band still records and tours with lead singer Nick Van Eede and different lineup changes through the years. I still prefer the second single, “I’ve Been In Love Before” over the first breakout single that most people remember of the band.
  1. The Escape Club. This band hit #1 on the U.S Charts with the single “Wild, Wild West,” but many may not know that they had another in 1991, “I’ll Be There,” which charted at #9.  The band formed in 1983, and as of 2012, is still performing with singer Trevor Steel, and guitar player John Holliday. Steel was also an A&R person for Universal Records in Australia after the band’s spotlight died down. As with Cutting Crew, I prefer the second single, “I’ll Be There,” which is a better song than the first single that broke the band. “I’ll Be There” is a darker song about a death of a friend, but still has positive lyrics to the song. The song has an eerie type melody, almost a goth- feel to it, but was still main stream enough to hit the Top 10. Whenever the band comes up in my music conversations, many people have never heard this second song, which is a shame, because it is really well written.
  1. Johnny Hates Jazz. This act hit #2 in the U.S. with the song “Shattered Dreams” in 1988, but was first released in 1987 (back in this era, it took usually time for the released song to gain airplay and move up the charts, unlike today).  The act also recorded “I Don’t Want to Be A Hero”(#31) in 1988. My favorite song of the band did not chart on the Top 100 Singles, but charted at #5 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary Charts, along with #12 in the U.K., called “Turn Back The Clock.” I remember seeing this video all the time on my local video channels (we didn’t have MTV at first-it was a pay channel- but watched shows like “Friday Night Videos,” and the video show on WAKR Channel 23 in Canton, Ohio with Billy Soule as the host).  To this day, it is one of my favorite videos, which shows the band looking back at their childhood and the things that they did, like hang out in a tree house. The single had backing vocals by Kim Wilde, who hit #1 in the U.S. with a cover of the Supremes’ “Keep Me Hanging On” in 1987.  This song is a lost gem in my eyes of singles of the decade that many do not remember.
  1. The Outfield. This British band had 5 Top 40 singles from 1986-1990, but yet the band is still considered One Hit Wonders due to the smash #6 hit “Your Love,” from their “Play Deep” Album.  I still crank up the song whenever I hear it playing to this day. I love their 1990 album “Diamond Days,” which I happened to get the CD at a bargain bin for a great price. I loved all the songs on the CD, including the 1990 hit “For You,” which charted at #21 in the U.S. This band is underrated when it comes to 1980s band Nu-Wave Acts. They had Nu-Wave and Pop mixed together with some straight ahead Rock feel to it. Bass player and singer Tony Lewis has a great voice, and I remember seeing the cover of their 1986 Album “Play Deep” all over the record stores at the time.
  1. O.M.D.   This is another band that had several hits from 1985 -1988, including the #4 song “If You Leave” from the 1986 movie “Pretty in Pink.” The band also hit in 1985 with “So In Love,” and “Forever” in 1986, but my favorite song by the band was called “Dreaming,” that charted at #16 in 1987 in the U.S.  The song has the band’s Synth-Pop beat like their other songs, but “Dreaming” just had some great lyrics in my opinion, especially the opening stanza. The band may have had a long name (Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark), but the band’s hits are still played today, even though “Dreaming” seems to be lost in that list.
  1.  Breathe.  I remember hearing this London band’s single “Hands To Heaven” when it first came out and thought it was very soulful, as opposed to some of the other songs that were hitting the charts during 1987. The song charted as high as #2 in the U.S. in 1988. I also remember seeing their album “All That Jazz” all over the record stores at the time.  Even though the second single in the U.S. did not chart as high on the Pop Charts, “How Can I Fall” hit #1 on the U.S. AC Charts, and #3 on the Pop Charts.  Unlike some of the other acts on this list, where I liked the second single better than the first, I liked both of these singles equally. A third single from the album, “Don’t Tell Me Lies,” hit #10 on the Pop and # 5 on the AC Charts, but isn’t as played as the other two singles (in the UK, “Lies” was the first single released from the album) The band continued to record until 1992, but their three singles was the only hits they had in the U.S. The band’s work should be rediscovered for fans that like Air Supply and Rick Astley, who linked soul and jazz to their Pop sound.  I really liked these songs, and still shocked why I never owned the cassette or CD in my collection.

When people think of the 1980s British acts, artists like Duran Duran, Elton John, Rick Astley, and George Michael come to mind. However this list above is often misjudged as One Hit Wonders, when in reality, they had great success. I encourage you to check out these acts’ other songs-you may find some more gems to add to your playlist that you don’t hear on local radio.

 

 

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A Dynamic Duo: My Favorite Songs By Daryl Hall And John Oates

Daryl Hall and John Oates

As much as I have been an outspoken critic about The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their inductees, the year 2017 brought a few deserving acts that were inducted , including Daryl Hall and John Oates. I have been a fan of their music for years, especially in the 1980s when they dominated the radio, MTV, and other video programs. I remember seeing their album covers all over the record stores during the time. The duo had around 30 Top 40 Hits in the U.S. from 1976-1990.  After finishing reading the recent memoirs of John Oates, I decided to focus on some of my favorite songs by Hall and Oates. In no particular order, here are a few of my suggestions to check out of their vast collection.

 

  1. “So Close” (1990). This song was from their “Change of Seasons” Album. It was the lead single released, hit #11 on the U.S. Pop Charts, and also hit on several other charts, including the AC Charts.  One of the co-writers of the song was Jon Bon Jovi.  I like the opening line of “They met on the dance floor in the old high school gym,” which brings back a bygone era where gym dances were the place where memories were made. I also love the chorus line that says “We believe in tomorrow/Maybe more than today.” Even though the song did well on the charts, it seems to be a forgotten mention when discussing the duo’s work.
  1. “Getaway Car” (2003). The duo’s “Do It For Love” is one of my favorite albums that they recorded, especially the post 1980s. There are many great songs on the album, but one of my favorites is “Getaway Car,” which wasn’t written by either Hall or Oates. The song was written by Billy Mann and Gary Haase, and has been recorded by country acts.  The song hit #21 on the AC Charts for Hall and Oates. The song is a great tale of a guy and girl being frustrated with their lives and wants to start anew, which is shown in the line “Let’s disappear and start all over again.” I can picture the couple driving out of the city limits into the county with the radio playing this song. The tempo of the song is great for the telling on the song. This is one of my favorite all time songs that the duo recorded.

  1. “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” (1984). This song is another one that hit the charts but seems to be not played as often on 1980s Radio shows.  This song was off the mega album “Big Bam Boom,” and hit #18 on the U.S. Charts. The slow build at the beginning of the song ends up with a big, loud ending.  I used to use the chorus of the song for using song lyrics as poetry when I taught as an English Teacher, with the lines like “Some lies are better off believed,” and “Some hearts are better left unbroken.”  Even though the album gave hits like “Out of Touch” and “Method of Modern Love,” this song, written by Hall, should not be overlooked.
  1. “Method Of Modern Love” (1984). This song makes my list, off of “Big Bam Boom,” because of the memories I have hearing the song when it first came out. I remember the video of the song, along with the video for “Out of Touch.”  The song peaked at #5 on the charts, and stayed on the charts for 19 weeks. Today’s music fans may not know that during the 1970s and 1980s, songs did not just debut at number one, and then disappear like in today’s downloadable music times. Many songs worked their way up to make the Top 40 and slowly moved up to the Top 10. I remember standing on the corner of our school parking lot in junior high singing this song along with the cassette tape my buddy would bring in and play on his boom box radio.  We would mimic the videos of the songs that we saw on our local music channel (Channel 23 in Ohio was our popular one, with host Billy Soule, because we didn’t have MTV), and this song was one I always sang along with during recess. The song also shows Hall’s soulful voice in the time when music was more about image.
  1. “It’s A Laugh” (1973). This song came off of the album “Along the Red Ledge” and was a Top 20 single for the duo. The album had guest musicians such as Todd Rundgren, George Harrison, Rick Nielsen, and Robert Fripp.  I love the introduction of the song with the saxophone solo, along with the lyrics about a man looking back at a failed relationship.  This was a great song from 1970s.
  1. “One On One” (1983). As I said in the introduction of this blog, posters of Hall and Oates Albums were all over music store during the 1980s, including the “H2O” Album, which is where this song can be found. I can’t listen to this song without picturing the cover of the album in my mind.  This song hit #7 on the Pop Charts, along with #4 on the AC Charts. The song is a great life reference by using basketball themes. The soul, smooth voice of Hall helps the song not be outdated, and could been a hit in the 1960s-1990s.  I also love the basic line of “It seems I don’t get time out anymore,” which is what many of us want in our busy lives, and is not just an athletic reference.  This is a great song combining love, life, and sports.
  1. “Did It In A Minute” (1982). This single was off the album “Private Eyes,” which was the album the MTV Generation of fans started jumping on the Hall and Oates train, even though the band was recording for years. The song hit #9 on the charts, and was the next to last single released from the album.  I love the line “And if two can become one/who is the one two becomes.”  This has the Pop feel of the duo, as opposed to their Soul records. The song fit along the others that were being released at the time, with a focus of the keyboard up front and center of the songs.  This is one of my favorite early 1980s songs by the duo.

Hall and Oates are still touring today as a duo, and releasing songs as solo acts. There are many great songs that the duo has recorded that I love, like “Rich Girl,” “Say It Isn’t So,” “Out of Touch, ” and Hall’s solo “Dreamtime,” but I wanted to focus on some of the songs that are rarer or not played as much on 1980s flashback radio channels. The duo finally getting into the Hall of Fame is something that should have happened years ago, but deserving nonetheless.  This duo has had successful and memorable songs that have lasted many decades.