If you listened to top 40 or MOR radio in 1977 and 1978, it wouldn’t be long before you found an artist who had some amount of success thanks to the Bee Gees. One of the most fortunate recipients of the Gibb brothers’ largesse was Australian singer Samantha Sang, who had a platinum hit single thanks to them. Her follow-up to that song, though, didn’t have the same traction on the charts. I guess that’s why I’m writing today about “You Keep Me Dancing” on this page.
If someone mentions yacht rock, undoubtedly one of the first people to come to mind for lovers of that subgenre would be Christopher Cross. I would argue that it was in 1980, when his debut album hit the top 10, that yacht rock hit its peak. And why not? Not everyone had signed on to the waning disco fad, and certainly not everyone was listening to new wave music. Yacht rock filled a void, and Christopher Cross was there to help fill it.
Yet now, almost four decades later, while other music from that time still gets radio airplay, Mr. Cross’s music has seemingly disappeared. When, for example, was the last time you heard his #1 AC hit “Never Be the Same”?
Dr. Hook is one of those 1970s groups that a lot of people know by name. I would imagine, though, that most people don’t remember many, if any, of Dr. Hook’s hits (and they had several). It’s interesting, though, that a group which had top 20 hits in five out of ten years of the 70s is so easily forgotten. And, surprisingly enough, one of those forgotten hits was one of the group’s highest charting.
At the end of the 1970s, the Southern rock band Wet Willie had decided to split up (though they still tour occasionally, even now). Lead singer Jimmy Hall, though, was invited to record a solo album by the band’s then-label, Epic Records. And while Jimmy Hall’s solo career did not produce a lot of chart success, it did yield one bona fide hit, a song which is, sadly, quite forgotten now.
Michael Johnson, despite a terribly common name, made that name fairly well known on the pop charts for a short period in the late 1970s. Even the casual listener of popular music* at the time knew his biggest hit, even if he or she didn’t know the artist too well. (Your author admits here to misreading the name, upon seeing it on a K-Tel compilation album – on vinyl – in the 90s, as “Michael Jackson”. Apologies to everyone for that.)
1980 was, to put it mildly, a year of upheaval in the world of top 40 music in America. The disco era was ending rapidly, its end having been hastened by several causes, not the least of which was a changing in listeners’ tastes toward music such as “My Sharona”, which had been the previous year’s #1 song. While some listeners embraced the new wave movement from whence “My Sharona” came, others moved toward a resurgence of a mellower sound.
When asked about Leo Sayer, I would guess that most people would either respond with “Who?” or possibly remember one or two songs of his…or the fact that he once appeared on the Muppet Show. I personally remember him for three songs. Two of them, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “When I Need You”, were mainstays on middle-of-the-road radio in my hometown for years. The third, Mr. Sayer’s 1980 remake of “More Than I Can Say”, was popular after I was old enough to pay attention to what songs were popular at the time.
Top 40 music in 1979 is probably remembered most for the beginning of the end of the disco era. The end of the year saw a big shift in the direction of pop music, exemplified best by The Knack’s “My Sharona”. However, to think of 1979 that way is way too simplistic. That year was also full of sugary ballads, the perennial hard rock, and, of course, yacht rock. This year featured the one and only chart appearance for one yacht rock artist, Roger Voudouris.