Chart Digging: August 23, 1980

Back in 1980, it was a Saturday when August 23 rolled around. I might have been somewhere around town that morning, shooting photos of one event or another for the next week’s edition of the Monticello paper. But – camera in hand or not – I know I was thinking about and planning the next week’s edition, as the start of school was rapidly approaching.

One of the most surprising things I learned during the first couple of years I spent at the Monticello paper was how tightly tied a small town’s identity and calendar are to the local schools. And the local newspaper is tied right there with the rest of the town, running through an annual cycle that didn’t vary much during the nearly six years I spent at Monticello. (Nor was that cycle much diffrent at any of the other weekly newspapers for which I wrote elsewhere in Minnesota or in Kansas over the years.)

The cycle would begin in early August with photo stories about preparations: Custodians polishing gym floors, teachers unpacking boxes and decorating bulletin boards, administrators conferring with teachers new to the district, cooks stockpiling ingredients for lunches, and althletes on the fall sports teams practicing on the fields and courts. By the time we got to the fourth week of August – which was just around the weekend, no matter what I was doing on Saturday, August 23, 1980 – we were set for school, all of us.

No matter what time of year it is, one of the things a reporter spends a lot of time doing is moving from place to place. On at least three of the five weekdays, I’d spend a fair amount of my day driving from interview to interview, from photo appointment to photo appointment, back to the office and back out again. And as I drove, the radio was always on. In 1980, I was generally listening to a Twin Cities station called KS95, which wasn’t quite Top 40, but its playlist came close, so I knew most of the records in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 for that August 23:

“Magic” by Olivia Newton-John
“Sailing” by Christopher Cross
“Take Your Time (Do It Right)” by the S.O.S. Band
“Emotional Rescue” by the Rolling Stones
“Upside Down” by Diana Ross
“It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” by Billy Joel
“Fame” by Irene Cara
“All Out Of Love” by Air Supply
“Let My Love Open The Door” by Pete Townshend
“More Love” by Kim Carnes

I said I knew most of the records; I didn’t say I liked them. It’s telling that none of those ten songs is among the nearly 47,000 mp3s on my external drive. Not one.

But I think that’s an anomaly. As I look further down the Hot 100 for that August Saturday, I see titles of records I did enjoy then and still enjoy today. Not as many as there would be from other years and other eras, but still quite a few.

One of those was sitting at No. 37, having peaked at No. 8, where it spent two weeks as July turned into August. The record was “Tired Of Toein’ The Line” by Rocky Burnette, a performer who had a pretty good genealogy: He was the son of Johnny Burnette, who was the leader of the Rock & Roll Trio in the mid-1950s and then had four Top 40 hits on his own in the early 1960s; the highest charting was “You’re Sixteen,” which went to No. 8 in late December 1960. In addition, Rocky’s uncle Dorsey had played in the Trio and had one Top 40 hit, “(There Was A) Tall Oak Tree,” which went to No. 23 in March 1960.

Earlier in 1980, Pat Benatar had scored her first two Top 40 records: “Heartbreaker,” which went to No. 23 in March, and “We Live For Love,” which got to No. 27 in June. I’m guessing that “You Better Run” was her next single, and it wasn’t quite as successful: It was at No. 46 on August 23 and would rise during the next week to No. 42, where it peaked, failing to reach the Top 40. The record was one of few such failures for Benatar during that time: From August 1980 to through 1986, she had thirteen more records hit the Top 40, with four of them in the Top Ten.

The Rossington-Collins Band was born out of the October 1977 airplane crash that killed three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd – leader Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines – as well as the band’s assistant road manager and two pilots. After the crash, Allen Collins and Gary Rossington formed their new band, which went on to record two albums, Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere in 1980 and This Is The Way in 1982. “Don’t Misunderstand Me,” from the first album, was at No. 59 on August 23, 1980; it would spend the next two weeks at its peak position of No. 55. (Two tracks from the second album would reach the Mainstream Rock chart – “Gotta Get It Straight” would go to No. 50 and “Welcome Me Home” would reach No. 9 – but neither record would make the Hot 100.)

A partnership that I do not at all recall was the one that paired Jon Anderson of Yes with Vangelis, co-founder of Aphrodite’s Child and electronica musician (who was a year away from finding major fame with the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire). The two, billed as Jon & Vangelis, released four albums, including a 1980 release titled Short Stories. “I Hear You Now” from that first album was at No. 73 on August 23, 1980, and peaked at No. 58 in mid-September.

A little bit further down that August 23, 1980, chart, at No. 80, we find what looks to be Peter Gabriel’s second foray into the Hot 100 as a solo artist. “Solsbury Hill” had gone to No. 68 in 1977, and now, “Games Without Frontiers,” a release from Gabriel’s third self-titled album – this being the one with the melting face – was making its way up the chart. The record would peak at No. 48 the last two weeks of September.

I know nothing about the group called Touch beyond what All-Music Guide can tell me, which is that the group evolved from the “pomp trio American Tears, who recorded three records for Columbia in the ’70s.” The new group recorded one album, Touch I, from which two singles hit the Hot 100: The second single, “Don’t You Know What Love Is,” went to No. 69 in February of 1981. The first single – the one that concerns us here – was “When The Spirit Moves You” and it was sitting at No. 100 on August 23, 1980, having peaked a week earlier at No. 65.

 That’s six, and that’s enough for today. Look for the next installment of the Ultimate Jukebox on Wednesday.

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One Response to “Chart Digging: August 23, 1980”

  1. Top 5: My Summer With Marlo | The Hits Just Keep On Comin' Says:

    […] the chart from CHUM-FM in Toronto dated August 30, 1980. (Last Monday, Echoes in the Wind looked at the Top 40 side of this […]

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