This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide by The Kings

If someone were to mention The Kings to most Americans, my guess is that the most common response (other than “Who?”) would be something along the lines of “Hey, aren’t they that group that sang ‘Lola’?”  No, The Kings were a Canadian rock group that formed in the late 70s and, per the group’s official website, refer to themselves as a one-hit wonder…which they basically were.

The group’s website has a fairly good biography section that tells the story of The Kings.  Originally known as WhistleKing, the group mostly did club gigs at first before recording their first album.  In the process of doing that, they ran into a well-known producer named Bob Ezrin, who was all set to mix the tracks when he discovered that everything had to be redone.  Mr. Ezrin talked to Elektra Records and got the group signed to a deal, where they recorded everything again in an album which was released as The Kings Are Here in 1980.

(The Kings Are Here peaked at #74 on Billboard’s Hot LPs and Tape chart. Album ℗1980 Elektra Records. Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

Though their one hit single would eventually contain the songs “This Beat Goes On” and “Switchin’ to Glide”, when the single was originally released, only “Switchin’ to Glide”, a song that appears to be about relaxing and gliding through life rather than stressing about it, was included.  The single did fairly well with just the second song, entering Billboard’s Hot 100 at a modest #90 for the week ending August 23, 1980 (chart).  It reached a peak at #56 the week ending October 4 (chart | magazine) and began to make its way back down the charts.

Strangely, though, the single got new life after that.  The Kings, who had always felt that “This Beat Goes On” (a song that appears to be basically about partying) and “Switchin’ to Glide” were “really two songs in one” (per their bio) insisted on including both songs on the single until Elektra Records finally gave in and released them together.  And then, as their bio continues, “radio really picked up on it”.  Radio stations in some areas gave the song heavy airplay (even though the two songs together are almost six minutes in length), and the single began to move back up the Hot 100, so that the single reached its ultimate peak at #43 in its 17th week on the charts, the week ending December 13 (chart | magazine).  According to billboard.com, the single managed to remain on the charts for 23 weeks in total (though the group’s bio says it was on the charts “for over six months”).

Afterward, The Kings were never able to duplicate their early success.  A second album, Amazon Beach (presently available on Amazon only as a combination CD with The Kings Are Here) only hit #170 on the album chart, and The Kings were dropped by Elektra.  (The Kings themselves call Amazon Beach “really not that great an effort”.)  They have continued to record since then (though for smaller record labels), and they are still, as far as I know, continuing to play live shows as well.

The Kings, as I wrote earlier, realize that most of their fame comes from one single in 1980.  Deciding to capitalize on this, they have released on their site a DVD entitled “Anatomy of a One-Hit Wonder”.  (To those familiar with my blog: yes, Amazon has this, but for a much higher price than on The Kings’ webpage, so I could not in all good faith link to it.) “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide” apparently (from what various people online have written) still receives airplay in some places, though I’ve never heard it apart from the long-running radio show Crap From the Past.  I’d love to hear more stations adding it to their playlists.

 

 

The Super Bowl Shuffle by The Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew

In late 1985, the Chicago Bears were dominating the NFL, cruising to a 15-1 record.  It was widely expected that they would continue to win easily all the way through the Super Bowl.

What was not widely expected is that they would release a hit song along the way.

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Time by the Alan Parsons Project

In the late 70s and early 80s, the Alan Parsons Project had several hits, a few of which still receive the occasional spin.  (And then there’s “Sirius”, which will be forever associated with NBA team introductions in my mind, and possibly for many others as well.)  They were known for a few concept albums that had a little bit of a storyline.

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In America by The Charlie Daniels Band

Most people who have heard of Charlie Daniels probably remember him mostly for The Charlie Daniels Band’s platinum-certified #3 smash “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, which still gets a fair amount of airplay even today, and rightly so.  Some may also remember his #9 song from a few years before, “Uneasy Rider”, or they might even remember this ad from 2010:

Most people, though, probably don’t remember that The Charlie Daniels Band very nearly returned to the Top 10 just a year after “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” had its run and helped the album on which it appeared, Million Mile Reflections, go platinum as well.  The band’s follow-up album was entitled Full Moon and was released in the summer of 1980.

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(Full Moon peaked at #11 on Billboard’s Hot LPs and Tape chart. Album ℗1980 Epic/Nashville Records. Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

A few weeks before Full Moon dropped, the debut single, “In America”, was released.  The song was about restoring patriotism in the United States after a rather lousy decade (with an economy to match) and while the Iran hostage crisis was still ongoing.  It spoke of Americans becoming united, and after all this, “God bless America again”.  The hope, optimism, and patriotism of the song resonated with many people.

Chart Performance

“In America” debuted in Billboard’s Hot 100 at #82 in its May 31, 1980 issue (chart) and peaked at #11 the week ending August 2 (chart | magazine); it remained at that position for two weeks and then went into a freefall, falling out of the Top 40 within three weeks of peaking (by which time the second single from Full Moon, “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” had already begun its chart run) and out of the Hot 100 completely just two weeks later.  “In America” spent a respectable 15 weeks on the Hot 100, and it did well enough to land at #96 in the year-end chart for 1980.

According to Wikipedia (at least as of this writing), “In America” experienced a short revival in 2001 after the events of September 11; however, since that time I know of no station that has played the song except WCBS-FM, in a 2008 Sunday night broadcast of their Top 20 from August 3, 1980.

 

 

Love Sneakin’ Up On You by Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt is one of those rockers who was around for years before ever having a top 40 hit.  She started recording in the early 1970s and even got a shoutout from Dr. Johnny Fever on “WKRP in Cincinnati” when he played her late 70s remake of “Runaway”, which got up to #57.  But it wasn’t until the early 90s that she ever hit the top 40 charts.  She hit first with “Have a Heart”, but she is probably best known for “Something to Talk About”, which hit #5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1991.  “Something to Talk About” still gets some airplay on radio these days, and deservedly so, usually on adult contemporary stations.

But who remembers the first single from her follow-up album in 1994? Maybe some of my readers, whom I assume are quite enlightened, will remember “Love Sneakin’ Up On You”, the first single from Longing in Their Hearts, but I think radio hardly remembers it at all.

(Longing in Their Hearts, as might be expected, peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200. Album ℗1994 Capitol Records. Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

“Love Sneakin’ Up On You” debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100 the week ending March 12, 1994 (chart) at #90, and I personally heard the song for the first time that same week on a Spring Break quasi-roadtrip.  It slowly made its way up the charts, peaking at #19 almost two months later, as seen in the issue for the week ending May 7 (chart | magazine).  The song had fairly good staying power, staying on the Hot 100 for 20 weeks and ending up at #94 for the year.  It did even better on the Canadian charts, where it was a #1 song.

After its run, there was one more single to be released from Longing in Their Hearts.  Unfortunately, “You” was not nearly as successful, peaking at #92.  After that, Ms. Raitt hit the Hot 100 a couple more times before basically moving solely to the adult contemporary chart, which she last hit in 2006.

“Love Sneakin’ Up On You”, though, has seemingly disappeared.  (In researching this song, I discovered that YouTube does not even presently have the album version of this song on its site.)  It would be nice to see it reappear on the airwaves sometime.

 

 

Room to Move by Animotion

I’ll readily admit that some of what inspires me to call out specific songs is the appearance of the artist (or a member of the group) in the news.  Once already this year, unfortunately, I have done so because of the news of a divorce after a long marriage.  Sadly, this is the case a second time, this time the dissolution of the 25-year marriage of Richard Marx (who has been mentioned on this blog before for reasons not related to his own hit music) and actress/singer Cynthia Rhodes, of the group Animotion.

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How Much Love by Leo Sayer

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.

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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.

At first, Steel Breeze seemed destined for quick success.  Their first and eponymous album was selling well, and the video for their first single, “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” was getting heavy airplay on MTV.

(Steel Breeze peaked at #50 on Billboard’s Top LPs and Tape Chart. Album ℗1982 RCA Records. Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

“You Don’t Want Me Anymore” started very strongly, debuting on Billboard’s Hot 100 at #67, making it the highest debuting song for the week ending August 28, 1982 (chart | magazine).  Rather surprisingly, given the amount of airplay it received, it only peaked at #16 the week of November 13 (chart | magazine) and stayed there for two weeks before falling from there.  (It did better in what Billboard then called their Rock Top Tracks chart, peaking at #9.)  All in all, the song was on the Hot 100 for a respectable 20 weeks, though that was not quite enough to make it one of Billboard’s hot 100 songs for the year.  (Interestingly enough, it did rank #100 on American Top 40’s year-end countdown.*)

Steel Breeze followed “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” up with one more top 40 song (which peaked at #30) before disappearing from view altogether.  No further albums or singles from Steel Breeze ever charted after early 1983, and the group has largely disappeared from radio since then.  (I personally have actually heard “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” on the radio once or twice, though it was during a local station’s spotlight of 1982 (“Nine great songs from one year!”); they certainly don’t have this song in their regular rotation.)  In my opinion, this song deserved better.

 

 

* While American Top 40 used the Billboard Hot 100 as its exclusive source until November 1991, it did not always use Billboard’s Hot 100 for its year-end countdowns for some reason. 

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)”.

“Don Quichotte”, you might have noticed, is the French name of Don Quixote, the literary hero brought to life by Miguel de Cervantes.  Why someone would try to call Don Quixote, or Don Quichotte, on the phone (which is exactly what happens in this song), is not explained, but that seems to be almost the entirety of the English portion of the song (the remainder is in Spanish).  And yet, the tune itself is quite catchy, which is probably why the song got airplay in the mid-80s.

“Don Quichotte (No Estan Aqui)”, a 1984 single, appeared on Magazine 60’s 1985 album Costa del Sol, which was, for whatever reason, not released in the US until 1987, which was well after the song had come and gone.  The album itself is apparently so forgotten that not only does Amazon not stock it, but no one is even selling a used copy on Amazon as of this writing.  (Update:  one has been found!)

(Costa del Sol never charted in the US.  Album ℗1985 CBS Records.)

“Don Quichotte (No Estan Aqui)” got its start in the US, as one might expect, on the Dance charts in 1985 before finally entering Billboard’s Hot 100 the week ending May 10, 1986 (chart | magazine).  It peaked at #56 the week ending June 14 (chart | magazine).  Surprisingly, for its rather low peak position, it lasted 11 weeks on the Hot 100 before falling off.

Since its original chart run, the song has appeared on a few internet disco streams and has gotten, from what I can tell, a grand total of two spins on the 20 years of my favorite celebration of the obscure, “Crap From the Past”, but for the most part, “Don Quichotte” is long forgotten.

 

 

The Way I Want to Touch You by Captain & Tennille

I don’t know about anyone else, but I was disappointed to hear that Toni Tennille filed for divorce from Daryl “Captain” Dragon a couple of weeks ago.  (And then I was further disappointed to see that most of the responses to this news was “they’re still alive???”)  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.

Or, to be more precise, I heard two songs by Captain & Tennille a lot.  And so, I’m sure, did a lot of you, and they were the same two songs:  “Love Will Keep Us Together” (a title which lent itself to, well, one joke repeated 1000x last week after the divorce announcement came out) and “Do That To Me One More Time” (which lent itself to a joke which was slightly more clever, only used by one person), but I never heard any of their other hits, or at least I never heard them played as recurrents for years after their original release, and I was young enough not to remember their original chart runs.

I don’t even remember “Muskrat Love” when it hit the charts.

And no, I am not putting it on this blog.  You want it, click the link and buy it yourself.  That might qualify as a song that was quite fairly forgotten.

But I digress.

A few years ago, I was able to purchase Captain & Tennille’s debut album, also called Love Will Keep Us Together, on vinyl for a couple of dollars.  I didn’t buy it for the title track; I bought it for the song that is thought of as the second hit from the album (though it was actually released first), “The Way I Want To Touch You”.

(Love Will Keep Us Together peaked at #2 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart.  Album ℗1974 A&M Records.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com.)

As related in the August 16, 1975 issue of Billboard, “The Way I Want To Touch You” was originally just a regional hit on the west coast (not hitting the Hot 100, from what I can tell) after Mr. Dragon and Ms. Tennille spent $250 to have 500 records pressed of the song; they sent them to radio stations themselves.  The modest success the song had got them their contract with A&M Records, and after “Love Will Keep Us Together” hit #1 (eventually becoming the #1 song of 1975), A&M re-released “The Way I Want To Touch You”.

The song entered the Hot 100 (finally) the week ending September 27, 1975, becoming the highest debut of the week (at #80).  It eventually topped the Adult Contemporary chart (called the “Top 50 Easy Listening” chart at the time) in November (right around the time Mr. Dragon and Ms. Tennille were getting married) and made it to #4 on the Hot 100, peaking the week of November 29.  According to Billboard.com, it spent 17 weeks on the Hot 100, which seems rather short for such a successful song.  Also, due to the timing of its peak sales, the song missed the year-end charts for both 1975 and 1976.

And so, after its run, the song was basically never heard again, at least by me, until I spent time in Dallas listening to a non-commercial station that was, at the time, running an all-70s format.  And then, I heard it a lot, which speaks to the music library available to a radio station run by a high school, I suppose.  Other than that station, though, no other “classic hits” station I know of has played it, well, ever.

As for the Captain & Tennille, they remained mainstays on the pop charts until a sudden disappearance in 1980 (just after “Do That To Me One More Time” became their second #1 hit) when their record company at the time, Casablanca Records, collapsed.  Of course, they continued to perform with success well after that, but their hit record career was done.

It’s sad that their divorce is what inspired me to post this song, but it’s a good reminder of the many good songs they released in their heyday.  Perhaps it might even inspire some classic hits station somewhere to add this one to its rotation.