Never as Good as the First Time

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(Pictured: Sade performs at Live Aid, 1985.)

Here’s some stuff about another AT40 from my collection that I haven’t written about yet. It’s from April 26, 1986.

(Not a very snappy lede I know, but it’s all I’ve got in me today.)

40. “Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter Tonight”/Starship
39. “For America”/Jackson Browne
38. “Feel It Again”/Honeymoon Suite
37. “Stick Around”/Julian Lennon
31. “Rough Boy”/ZZ Top
As I’ve said many times, I was program director and morning jock on a Top 40 station in an Illinois college town in 1986. We ran an automated Top 40 format, which came to us on big reels of tape, and I had little control over the songs we played. There are songs on this chart I know by title and that we must have played, but which left little impression then and haven’t stuck with me 35 years later.

32. “Never as Good as the First Time”/Sade
9. “Your Love”/The Outfield
Casey refers to Sade’s “Never as Good as the First Time” as “their third Top 40 hit.” The pronoun is technically accurate, in the same way one might call Alice Cooper “they,” but it’s a distinction without a difference. Similarly, Casey says of the Outfield, “They’re not named for a baseball outfield, they’re named for the outfield in the English game of cricket.” DO TELL SIR

30. “Secret Lovers”/Atlantic Starr
26. “Saturday Love”/Cherelle with Alexander O’Neal
Casey says “Secret Lovers” is the oldest record in the countdown, 14 weeks, and it is one we played positively to death. “Saturday Love,” on the other hand, we didn’t play at all.

29. “I Can’t Wait”/Stevie Nicks
22. “I Can’t Wait”/Nu Shooz
Nothing in Stevie’s catalog is dated worse than “I Can’t Wait.” The Nu Shooz “I Can’t Wait” has worn somewhat better, although I hated it back then.

28. “Is This Love”/Mr. Mister
6. “Harlem Shuffle”/Rolling Stones
Like ’em or not, #1 hits “Broken Wings” and “Kyrie” are at least memorable. You and I have forgotten “Is This Love,” and that it made #8. Also forgotten: the Stones were making the Top 10 as late as 1986.

27. “R.O.C.K. in the USA”/John Cougar Mellencamp. Which Casey precedes with a brief biography of Frankie Lymon, who’s name-checked on the record. This was my favorite song of the moment in 1986, although I wouldn’t rank it as my favorite on the show now, as you’ll see below.

24. “Live to Tell”/Madonna. Casey takes a very long time and repeats himself a lot to answer a listener question about the biggest female artists of the 80s: Diana Ross, followed by Olivia Newton-John and the Pointer Sisters. Madonna is currently fourth on the list. “Live to Tell” makes the biggest move up in the countdown, 11 places.

23. “I Do What I Do”/John Taylor. Riding the Duran Duran/Power Station wave of success and 80s radio’s willingness to play absolutely anything that came from a big movie (9 1/2 Weeks), “I Do What I Do” is an eight-bar drum track stretched out to 3:40.

21. “On My Own”/Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald
20. “Something About You”/Level 42
11. “What You Need”/INXS
3. “West End Girls”/Pet Shop Boys
One of these is the best record on the show, but as usual I can’t decide which, although it’s probably “West End Girls.”

LDD: “Carry on Wayward Son”/Kansas. One of the more unusual LDD letters I’ve heard: from a woman to her father, whose death in 1983 was linked to radiation poisoning contracted while serving on Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific during the post-World War II nuclear tests there.

15. “Let’s Go All the Way”/Sly Fox
13. “Bad Boy”/Miami Sound Machine
One of these is the deadliest earworm on the show. Ask me in a couple of hours and I’ll tell you which one.

A radio DJ writes to ask if a taxi driver he met during a visit to the UK was telling the truth when he claimed to have hit the American charts with a song called “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport.” Casey says that Rolf Harris did indeed hit with that song in 1963. That doesn’t prove the driver really was Rolf, though.

7. “Rock Me Amadeus”/Falco. On the original 1986 show. “Rock Me Amadeus” was followed by a commercial for Spam. Just sayin’.

LDD: “You’ve Got a Friend”/James Taylor. In which graduating high-school senior Brian doesn’t want it to be over, and pays tribute to the last four years in a letter that seems strangely familiar.

1. “Kiss”/Prince. Which Casey introduces with a lengthy “special report” on kissing at the movies: first kiss, longest kiss, most kisses in a single movie, etc. It’s possible somebody somewhere found it interesting, I guess.

Coming next time: the usual look at what else was on some radios in some places that same week.

(Also: a new Sidepiece went out last night. Check your spam filter.)

10 thoughts on “Never as Good as the First Time

  1. Brian L Rostron

    I think people in Britain referred to Sade as a group a la Van Halen. In the US, people only knew about the gorgeous lead singer. And the Stones made the Top 5 in ’89 with the more forgettable “Mixed Emotions.”

  2. mikehagerty

    In that first group, only the Jackson Browne is recognizable, and that only because I had the album at the time.

    I think INXS’ “What You Need” is the best record on the show (and the best record the Rolling Stones never did), but reasonable people can disagree about such things.

  3. I remember some portion of almost all of the songs you don’t, though I was of age to listen to the music then and not to spin it.
    Several of these songs are also associated with a personal memory. After a decade-plus of raising kids, my mom went back to college for a master’s and then went back to work. A couple of these songs were hits at the time of her graduation ceremony.

    And finally: “Harlem Shuffle” may be a runt among Stones singles but I’ve always kinda liked it.

  4. Wesley

    jb, you’ve mentioned in a previous entry I can’t find that you understood the reluctance of some stations to not play AT40 shows from the early 1970s due to some weeks being loaded in the first hour with songs that largely had been forgotten and/or never really became hits. The first five songs you’ve listed here from 40-31 have the same problem, and that’s with me knowing that I had to have heard them at the time, since I was in college and listening to the radio a lot.

    I do remember “Something About You,” though, and I’m glad you selected it as one of the best of this week.

  5. JP

    There is nothing more irritating than a band that considers itself a band, yet it’s named after the lead singer and she’s the only one you see on the album covers. Sorry, folks, but as far as I’m concerned, Sade is a she, not a they.

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