CLASSICS: POP AND ROCK (SINGLES)

I want to try and quickly kill two birds with one stone. One of my many favorite 80s songs is from the late Donna Summer, and it’s called “She Works Hard For The Money.” It was released exactly on Mar 10, 1983, under Mercury Records. This song went #1 for 3 weeks on the Hot R&B Charts. It was her first #1 hit since several songs on the “Bad Girls” album, and her #1 duet with Barbra Streisand, “Enough Is Enough,” just 4 years prior. This was a significant song back in the day; not because it happened to reach number one; but because it was in essence a tribute to all the hardworking, low income, female service workers. Donna co-written the song, and she wrote about an actual encounter she had with a restroom attendant (which to me is a fancy way of saying a female porter). The woman was even said to be pictured on the back of the album. Well, I have this album, and I don’t see her photo, neither did I remember seeing it in the protective sleeve cover. But I do remember both Donna and Mercury records giving the woman public acknowledgement in the news, promos, etc.

The second song from the same album I wanted to draw your attention to is, is a song called “Unconditional Love.” The song is a duet with a group called “Musical Youth.” Musical Youth is best known for their massive hit “Pass The Dutchie,” which reached #10 in the US, and #1 in UK and Canada. Unfortunately, “Unconditional Love” did not do well in the United States, peaking only @44. That was disappointing to read, as I thought this was a very cute song. But you know what? I think that maybe they should have had the group sing with Donna, and not use them as background chorus, I’m sure it would have been a larger hit. Sometime in 1985, Musical Youth broke up, with only one major hit to their credit, which was “Pass The Dutchie.” It was said that, two of the old five members got back together to continue their music career in 2011. However, I can’t seem to find any newer music from them. Maybe they’ve changed their group name.



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Sheila E. was (and still is), one of my most favorite female performers of the 80s. Sheila is unbelievably talented! She is like (what I call) a hip hop version of country singer Barbra Mandrell; in that it appears she can play every instrument you can think of. Most people know Sheila as being a drum player; however, she’s also a guitarist, and master percussionist. Although I first learned of Sheila in the 80s, she actually started her career about 1974-1975 in a group called “The George Duke Band.” Then her career skyrocketed once she met Prince. Prince wrote a song for her album “Romance 1600” called “A Love Bizarre (1985),” and it is one of the most unique songs I’ve ever heard, yet it is unmistakably a Prince song. ” The song shot up to #11, and stayed on the Top 100 for about 23 weeks. This song was one of two mega hits that defined her image and career. The second one was a song called “The Glamorous life,” from her album “The Glamorous Life (1984).” Sheila, who’s now almost 60 years of age, still looks amazing, and still beating the hell out of those drums.

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In January 1984, one of my favorite British rock groups, The Eurythmics, released a song called “Here Comes The Rain Again,” from the album called “Touch.” By March of 1984 the song hit #4 on the top 100 charts, and stayed there for 20 weeks! It’s such a strange and unique song; not a club song, yet it’s sort of danceable at the same time. It also feels like it could have been a theme song to a modern Medieval type movie. Definitely, this song was beating up the radio waves. The Eurythmics are made up of Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. If I remember correctly, I know David has been after Annie to marry him for the longest time. I wonder what came of that? I guess I can understand Annie in a way. Many people have a rule that, they don’t marry or date people they work with (and I totally agree).

You know, I’ve watched many Teena Marie fans share a lot of her music on Facebook. But there was one hit song I think many people have seemed to have forgotten about. The song is called “Ooo La La La,” released 1988. The song came from her “Naked To The World” album. I love this song! This song hit #1 on the R&B charts, but only peaked at 84 on the American Billboards. Hmmmm.. Teena tore this song up! (as with all her songs). To my understanding, as far as R&B charts are concerned, this was the biggest song in her career, yet it appears that most people remember her from songs such as “Square Biz,” and “I need Your Lovin’,” which was another awesome song. I was soooooooo happy that I got to see her before she died. She was only 54 (sooo young). I had no idea she was that sick. And let me tell you, her performance was on point. She give no indication that she had any serious illness. But you know what? She really loved her fans, as did Rick James.

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I could have sworn that I’ve written about this group before, but I guess I didn’t. Hmmm. Well, I think this group is one of many talented groups that were forgotten about. “Huey Lewis and The News” were also one of the very small number White groups that had both a soul and rock sound in the 80’s (at least that is my opinion). I say this because this was truly their style of music, it wasn’t like one or two songs on their album with the soul/rock style (that “hit” song), this was their sound! Huey truly knows how to take control of the mic. It’s a shame he hasn’t continued with the major success he had in the 80’s. But then again, the entire music culture has started to change shortly after the 80’s ended.

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This particular album has all the hits that I love. I could be wrong, but I think most people probably remember this group by there hit song “The Power Of Love (1986),” which was one of the major sound tracks to the movie “Back To The Future.” Other hits that I love are “If This Is It,” the remake of a song (originally done by J. J. Jackson (I believe)) “But It’s Alright,” “Stuck With You,” “Heart And Soul,” and finally a song called “I Want A New Drug.” I would have loved to see them live. Check the album out on Spotify.

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I believe this was New Edition’s first album release. Personally speaking, I think this was their best album, because it had more hits on one album. Although they’ve had other hits on subsequent albums, they just never quite hit that same success of their first album. At first, I really wasn’t impressed, because at the time, it was very obvious that (just like every other label) they were marketed to be the “next Jackson 5 generation.” In fact, Ralph became extremely annoying; personally, I couldn’t listen to him live, after their 5th/6th album. The reason being, once he became a teenager and puberty kicked in, Ralph strained his voice during performances in order to try and keep that “little Michael sound” and it wasn’t working. I think it wasn’t until they broke up, and got back together again and Johnny Gill joined the group, his voice became a lot better. However, that doesn’t take a way from the fact that they were/are a very talented group. I’m not sure if they’re still performing together. I think that Roni, Ricki, and Mike are still known “Bell, Biv, Devoe,” and they have performed in the recent past. My favorite songs from this album are, “Give Me Your Love,” “Candy Girl,” “Is This The End,” “Pop Corn Love,” and “Jealous Girl.” Please listen with Spotify.

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The band called Cameo has been around since the mid 70’s, and has had a string of hits. They appeared to have started off doing a lot of disco; then when disco was dying out, they started doing funk/pop music closer to the 80’s. I really liked the group Cameo, because between the  70’s and mid 80’s, radio was playing a lot of what we called “conscious music.”  While I think it’s very important for songwriters to write about world issues; Cameo created a lot of songs in the 80’s that allowed us to have fun, and think happy thoughts! My favorites are “Single Life,” “Word Up,” and “Candy.” – VintageNewscast.com

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