You Don’t Want Me Anymore by Steel Breeze

1982 was a year of flux for top 40 music.  A lot of different types of music hit the charts that year, and many acts came and left that year.  One act that appeared for the first time was Steel Breeze, a pop-rock band out of California.  Like Magazine 60, Steel Breeze incorporated synthesizers into its sound, but while Magazine 60 had an obvious Eurodisco sound, Steel Breeze was much more an album-oriented rock group.

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Don Quichotte (No Estan Aqui) by Magazine 60

During the post-disco years, a lot of synthpop bands popped up, many Europe-based.  One such band was Magazine 60, a French band which is known in America–if it is known here at all–for exactly one song, “Don Quichotte (No Estan Aqui)”.

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The Way I Want to Touch You by Captain & Tennille

As a child of the 70s, and specifically, a child whose mother listened to a radio station whose format was called “middle of the road” back then (but would have been called adult contemporary now), I heard quite a bit of music from Captain & Tennille.  At the time, though, I had never heard of one of their early hits, “The Way I Want To Touch You”.

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Remembering George Duke

During the long, unplanned hiatus this blog took, George Duke passed away.  As I understand it, George Duke was primarily a jazz musician, though he occasionally branched over to pop music and R&B.  Most online bios of him will point to his work with Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa as helping to establish his name in the industry, so that gives you an idea of the diversity of his musical styles.

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Edge of a Broken Heart *and* Cryin’ by Vixen

In the late 1980s, hair bands (or glam metal, or whatever you want to call that type of music) were at the height of their popularity.  (The author here takes a moment to remember his now-departed grandfather greeting the image of, I believe, Twisted Sister on his television with “Look at them ugly girls!”)  Glam metal was all over the pop charts at the time, thereby making it the perfect time for a girl group called Vixen to make it big.  And I suppose they did that, ever so briefly.

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Free Your Mind by En Vogue

I know, En Vogue was so popular that it seems strange to think of any of the group’s smash hits being forgotten.  Of course, some of those hits still receive quite a bit of airplay now.  “Hold On”, the first of their three #2 hits, still gets some play, as does “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)”, the second.  And I suppose their hit with Salt-N-Pepa, “Whatta Man”, is probably still used for any number of bad morning radio show “Battle of the Sexes” games (and I’ve heard it played in full as well).

But think about this before you answer:  when was the last time you remember hearing “Free Your Mind” on the radio?  If you’re like me, it’s been a very long time.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard this song get any airplay since the 1990s.  It really surprised me to think about that; I would have thought a song with a message like that of “Free Your Mind”, speaking against prejudice, would become a recurrent hit for a while and then end up on your catch-all Jack FM type of station.  However, as far as I can tell, it never did.  Instead, it just faded away.

“Free Your Mind” was the third song from En Vogue’s very successful second album, Funky Divas.  The album had already generated two top ten hits when this song was released (“My Lovin'” being one of them).

(Funky Divas peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1992 East West Bros. Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.)

“Free Your Mind” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #89 for the week ending September 12, 1992 (chart) and peaked at #8 seven weeks later (chart).  The song appeared on the Hot 100 for 20 weeks and was #93 for the year 1992.

En Vogue, of course, continued to have success through most of the 90s, but this song fell by the wayside.  It deserved better.

 

 

Just Like Paradise by David Lee Roth

A few years before his former (and future) band released a now-forgotten song, once and present lead singer David Lee Roth had one of his own.  He had had a few well-known hits, including a very successful remake of “California Girls”, in the mid-1980s.  By the late 80s, however, his solo success was starting to dry up, at least as far as Billboard’s Hot 100 was concerned.

In 1988, Mr. Roth hit the Hot 100 one last time as a solo artist with “Just Like Paradise”, his highest-charting non-cover.  It was the lead single from his album Skyscraper, a fairly successful album that went platinum.

(Skyscraper peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1988 Warner Bros. Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

“Just Like Paradise” made a strong entrance into Billboard’s Hot 100 at #56 for the week ending January 16, 1988 (chart) and peaking at #6 the week of March 12 (chart); it also peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.  It spent a fairly short 16 weeks in the Hot 100, but it still did well enough to place #97 in the year-end chart.

According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, “Just Like Paradise” had been considered as a potential theme song for a new TV program, “Beverly Hills 90210”.  Mr. Roth’s management very helpfully rejected this idea before even talking to Mr. Roth about it.  And so, instead of a ten-year run, the song fell rather quickly into obscurity, possibly due to lyrics which, honestly, are not the deepest ever heard (but then, we live in an age in which “Boom Boom Pow”, which I am not linking, is considered good music).

 

 

Can’t Stop Lovin’ You by Van Halen

Unlike the last two honorees on this blog, Van Halen is far from a one-hit wonder.  I wouldn’t even have thought to include them on a forgotten songs blog, since most of their hits still get airplay on rock/classic rock stations throughout the country.  I can name at least ten songs of theirs that still get airplay, and so, most likely, can you.  And then there are other songs that I heard back in the day that get no airplay that I know of now, but as it turns out, none of them made the Hot 100 (which, by and large, is one of my big qualifiers for this blog these days).

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Blue Sky Mine by Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil, like Baltimora, is seen in the US as a one-hit wonder.  Unlike Baltimora’s one hit, however, Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” still receives a fair amount of airplay, at least in the parts where I live.  This is not the case for what was seen by some (such as, for example, myself) as Midnight Oil’s second hit.  Sure, at the time, “Blue Sky Mine” received a lot of spins (in the market where I lived at the time, almost all of them were on the alternative station–yes, there were alternative stations in 1990), but since its original run, it has pretty much disappeared.

Interestingly enough, the album from which “Blue Sky Mine” originated, Blue Sky Mining, actually charted higher on the Billboard 200 than Diesel and Dust, from which “Beds Are Burning” came.

(Blue Sky Mining hit #20 on the Billboard 200. Album ℗1990 Columbia Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

The Single

“Blue Sky Mine”, like “Beds Are Burning”, was a song with a message.  Whereas “Beds Are Burning” spoke about giving native lands back to indigenous Australians (specifically the Pintupi), “Blue Sky Mine” speaks about workers who are basically treated as a secondary (or tertiary, or worse) concern after profit, in this case through the real history of blue asbestos mining in Wittenoom, Western Australia.  Asbestos, as many people know, can cause all sorts of diseases or other health problems, particularly for miners who are breathing it all the time with little to no respite.  As commenter “jlc01” at songmeanings.net relates:

It wasn’t until 20 years later that the CSR actually built vents so that miners could breathe fresh air.

And that’s just sad.

CSR, the owner, was referred to in the song as the “sugar refining company” owing to its original name, which was the Colonial Sugar Refining company.  It should be noted that in recent years CSR has paid out a lot of money to people affected by the Wittenoom disaster, but it appears, from what I have read, that they have done so very unwillingly.  As for the mine itself, it closed in 1966, with residents being encouraged to leave over the next few years owing to the general contamination of the area.  Wittenoom itself is no longer even recognized as an official town and has been removed from road maps.  Truly a sad episode of history.

Chart Performance

And as for the song, “Blue Sky Mine” hit Billboard’s Hot 100 in early 1990, debuting at #77 for the week ending February 17 (chart), peaking at #47 (which means that we never got to hear Shadoe Stevens announcing it) for the week ending March 24 (chart), and remaining on the chart for ten weeks.  I would classify this as a song which should have been a bigger hit.

 

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Tarzan Boy by Baltimora

Baltimora, at least in the US, was definitely a one-hit wonder.  Interestingly enough, though, its one hit, “Tarzan Boy”, made it to Billboard’s Hot 100 on two separate occasions.  (Okay, yes, they made the Hot 100 with one other song, the title track to their first album, but they are known almost entirely in this country for “Tarzan Boy”.)

(Living In The Background, Baltimora’s first studio album, peaked at #49 on the Billboard 200.  Album ℗1985 EMI Music.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

Though “Tarzan Boy” was the first single from Living In The Background, which was released in the summer of 1985, the single did not hit the charts in the US until late in the year, entering Billboard’s Hot 100 at #80 for the week ending October 19, 1985 (chart | magazine).  It spent exactly half a year on Billboard’s Hot 100, peaking at #13 the week of March 1, 1986 (chart | magazine), and then falling out the week of April 19.

While Baltimora did somewhat well in Italy, further singles, as well as a second album, did not exactly burn up the charts in most other countries.  The band broke up after that, and that would normally be the end of the story.

In this case, however, “Tarzan Boy” found new popularity years later through a combination of circumstances.  First, in 1992, Listerine released a new cool mint variety with a series of commercials made by Pixar (yes, that Pixar) which were set to “Tarzan Boy”, though not the Baltimora version.

(Pretty good for 1992 CGI, huh?  Presented per Fair Use clause.)

Then, in early 1993, the rather forgettable film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III was released, and, for some unknown reason, “Tarzan Boy” was featured.  The original version, as well as a remix, appeared on the soundtrack, and the song once again appeared in the Hot 100 (though sources seem to disagree whether song that charted in 1993 was the original or the remix), peaking at #51 the week of April 24 (chart).

From what I have heard, this song still occasionally gets airplay on satellite radio, but I’m pretty sure terrestrial radio has just about forgotten about it.