Playing With the Boys

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: the Fixx, in ’86.)

Here’s some of what else was on the Hot 100 during the week of August 16, 1986, a week recently featured on American Top 40, and at this blog.

54. “Throwing It All Away”/Genesis
74. “Sweet Love”/Anita Baker
79. “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On”/Robert Palmer
92. “Take Me Home Tonight”/Eddie Money
93. “Paranoimia”/Art of Noise with Max Headroom
These five Hot 100 debuts would go all the way into the Top 40. Even “Paranoimia,” with vocal interjections by the famous computer-generated celebrity pitchman.

65. “Twist and Shout”/Beatles. I didn’t mention it in either of the two posts I wrote about this week’s AT40, but my radio station didn’t play several of the big hits of the summer of 1986. Our music came from a service, so we had little control over what we played, or didn’t. We never played “Baby Love,” even though it was a Top-20 hit, or the Run-DMC version of “Walk This Way.” (That might be the reason I can’t remember Andy Taylor’s “Take It Easy.”) Same thing with “Twist and Shout” when it returned to the national chart thanks to its inclusion in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” from the movie of the same name.

72. “Wrap It Up”/Fabulous Thunderbirds
82. “Tuff Enuff”/Fabulous Thunderbirds
A remarkable number of artists had two songs in the Hot 100 this week: Kenny Loggins, Genesis, Janet Jackson, Billy Ocean, Billy Joel, the Moody Blues, Robert Palmer, Simply Red, Patti Labelle, Michael McDonald, Van Halen, El DeBarge, the Jets, Level 42, and somebody else I have likely missed because I always miss somebody. But I wouldn’t miss the Fabulous Thunderbirds, whose blast to success in the middle of the 1980s was pretty unlikely. Their brand of R&B-infused roadhouse blues was not exactly top-of-the-mind with listeners on a steady diet of dance beats, English hairstyles, and high-concept music videos.

75. “Every Little Kiss”/Bruce Hornsby and the Range. This song made the Hot 100 first, but the #1 hit “The Way It Is” would be the band’s breakthrough later in 1986, resulting in the return of “Every Little Kiss” to the chart the next year.

77. “Secret Separation”/The Fixx. At some point in 1985 or 1986, the Fixx played the basketball arena at our local college. The night of the show, the opening act finished, the house lights came up, and people lit out for the concession stands. After 20 minutes or so, a guy came out and started fiddling with the drums in the way drum techs do. But after another minute, he started pounding out a beat, and the rest of the band strolled out from the wings. The show started while the house lights were still up. The Fixx was pretty good that night—and “Secret Separation” is the best thing they ever did.

85. “It’s You”/Bob Seger. Another Hot 100 debut, and a Seger single you probably don’t know. “It’s You” is from the Like a Rock album, and is lighter and less crunchy than most of Seger’s 80s singles. Nevertheless it’s pretty good, although it would peak only at #52.

86. “The Other Side of Life”/Moody Blues
96. “Playing With the Boys”/Kenny Loggins
98. “Walk Away Renee”/Southside Johnny and the Jukes
MTV was still a music-video channel in 1986, and the videos for each of these three Hot 100 debuts is a different exemplar of the form. “The Other Side of Life” puts literally thousands of record-company promotional dollars on the screen. It has the familiar what-the-hell-am-I-watching feel that MTV viewers of the 80s will remember, and it’s preceded by the obligatory 90-second playlet that opened so many videos back then. “Playing With the Boys” is a song from the Top Gun soundtrack, but it doesn’t use any clips from the film. Instead, it features a group of extremely pretty people playing volleyball, and I am guessing most of its budget went for spandex and hairspray. “Walk Away Renee,” a languid cover of the 60s hit, is shot in black and white and features a pretty girl sadly packing a suitcase while Southside Johnny sings in the street outside her window.

99. “Victory Line”/Limited Warranty. “Victory Line” is the kind of thing that crossed radio station music directors’ desks by the dozens in the middle of the 80s—melodic, jangly pop-rock that’s pleasant for three minutes but doesn’t stick with you much longer than that. Until I started researching this post, I had forgotten that Limited Warranty opened for Eddie Money in our town back in 1986. It’s the only show I’ve ever watched entirely from backstage, which was pretty cool.

Except I somehow lost the hat that I wore to the show. I miss that hat.

3 responses

  1. Sorry to hear about your hat. Was it station or band-specific, or was it an actual “hat” hat?

    Thanks for the “Victory Line” mention. I’d made a mental note last week to put that one on my to-do list, but had forgotten to write it down. Limited Warranty had released a local 12-inch single the year before (“Never Enough”) that WLOL played enough that I liked and bought it. Can’t say whether or not KDWB followed suit on that one, but I’m dubbing their library copy 45 of “Victory Line” as I’m typing this.

    Sucker for melodic, jangly pop-rock that I am, I’d say it still sounds pretty good. Very 1986, but still pretty good.

  2. Speaking of hats, my uncle Jim had a dirty old fishing hat with lures and patches on it.
    His wife, Lucy, would always say “Oh Jim, why do you have to wear that awful hat?”
    to which he would reply “This is MY hat, I’m gonna wear MY HAT and if anybody
    doesn’t like it they can go to Hell !!!” So in our family, if you have a favorite hat,
    we call it your “Go To Hell Hat”. And that is my hat story.

  3. I remember Limited Warranty. They were either finalists or winners on the Star Search TV show, which was the American Idol of the eighties. Generic radio rock, as I recall.

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