This continuing series on the Analog Kid blog takes a look back at some of the best AOR songs from the ’70s and ’80s. All of these songs were radio favorites from my teenage years in Texas, but for some reason you just don’t seem to hear them much any more. I hope to change that.
Texas Radio & The Big Beat: 1982 (Part 2)
I usually only feature five songs per post on my Texas Radio & The Big Beat series, but I made an exception last January when I featured the classic rock of 1982. 1982 is my favorite year ever for music, so I doubled down and featured ten songs because I just couldn’t choose five. You can check out that post here:
Well, now it’s time to visit 1982 a second time– and once again, I’m going big. Here are ten more classic AOR tracks from 1982 that you may have forgotten about!
Kenny Loggins & Steve Perry: “Don’t Fight It” (Pitchford/Loggins/Perry)
From the album High Adventure
Columbia Records, 1982
Hey look– Kenny Loggins had a hit in the ’80s that wasn’t from a movie soundtrack! “Don’t Fight It” reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100, due in no small part to the presence of Journey’s Steve Perry on vocals. For me, though, it’s Neil Giraldo’s blistering guitar that really makes “Don’t Fight It” an ’80s classic.
Chilliwack: “Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone)” (Henderson/MacLeod)
From the album Opus X
Millennium Records, 1982
The Canadian band Chilliwack only had two Top 40 singles in the U.S., and “Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone)” wasn’t one of them– it peaked at #41 in 1982. Dallas station Q102 loved the band, though, and this song was in regular rotation throughout the year. Make no mistake: you’re going to be singing this chorus in your head for the rest of the day. Sorry about that.
The Motels: “Mission Of Mercy” (Davis/Jourard)
From the album All Four One
Capitol Records, 1982
The Motels were under a tremendous amount of pressure from their label to deliver a hit album in the States, and the situation only worsened when Capitol rejected the band’s first attempt at a new record. Unfazed, the revamped Motels re-recorded the songs from the shelved Apocalyso and released All Four One, one of my favorite albums of the ’80s. “Mission Of Mercy” wasn’t a huge hit on the pop charts, but it did reach #23 on the Album Rock chart.
Elton John: “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” (John/Taupin)
From the album Jump Up!
Geffen Records, 1982
Elton has rarely played “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” in concert over the years, as he says it’s just too emotional for him. I understand this completely, as Elton’s tribute to his dear friend John Lennon still chokes me up every time I hear it. “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)” only reached #13 on the Hot 100, but in my eyes it is easily the best Elton John song of the ’80s.
Glenn Frey: “I Found Somebody” (Frey/Tempchin)
From the album No Fun Aloud
Asylum Records, 1982
Vinyl rip courtesy of the Analog Kid
No Fun Aloud was Glenn Frey’s first solo album, and it had a much more soulful swing than his work with The Eagles. “I Found Somebody” almost made the Top 30, but anyone with MTV in the summer of 1982 will remember the video:
I can assure you that the Analog Kid has very fond memories of the lovely young lady in the video!
Heart: “City’s Burning” (A. Wilson/N. Wilson/Ennis)
From the album Private Audition
Epic Records, 1982
“City’s Burning” was another MTV staple during that summer of ’82. Private Audition didn’t do very well on the charts, but it did re-awaken my love for Heart. I had “Magic Man” and “Barracuda” on 45 when I was a kid, and “City’s Burning” helped remind me just how much I loved Ann Wilson’s voice. I spent that summer in Irvine visiting my Dad, and I can still remember begging him to take me to see Heart and John Cougar at the nearby Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. I think we went to see The World According To Garp instead. I am still slightly traumatized from the incident.
Linda Ronstadt: “Get Closer” (Carroll)
From the album Get Closer
Asylum Records, 1982
Speaking of great voices…
I just finished reading Simple Dreams, the Linda Ronstadt autobiography that came out a few years ago. If you love music, it’s a must-read. Linda could have filled the book with crazy rock and roll stories, but instead she focuses on the music itself (what a novel concept!). She spends as much time talking about The Pirates Of Penzance and Nelson Riddle as she does on Heart Like A Wheel, and the book is all the better for it. Simple Dreams was released before Linda announced that Parkinson’s disease had robbed her of her beautiful voice, and that knowledge makes the book even more profound.
Genesis: “Paperlate” (Banks/Collins/Rutherford)
From the album Three Sides Live
Atlantic Records, 1982
“Paperlate” was a Top 40 hit for Genesis in 1982, but I can’t remember the last time I heard it on the radio. “Paperlate” was initially released on the U.K. EP 3×3 in May of 1982, and was finally released in the U.S. on side four of the Three Sides Live album. Overseas, the Three Sides Live album actually had four full sides of live music. Isn’t that confusing? No more confusing, I suppose, than a middle-aged balding drummer becoming the biggest pop star in the world in the mid-’80s, right?
Greg Kihn Band: “Testify” (Kihn/Lynch/Wright/Carpenter/Phillips)
From the album Kihntinued
Beserkley Records, 1982
The Greg Kihn Band had been making great records for years before finally hitting the Top 20 with the 1981 classic “The Breakup Song.” 1982’s “Testify” didn’t even chart on the Hot 100, but it was a Top 5 single on the Mainstream Rock chart and an AOR staple. Add 1984’s “Reunited” to the list, and you have a power-pop trifecta that would make even the Raspberries and Big Star proud.
Eye To Eye: “Nice Girls” (Berg/Marshall)
From the album Eye To Eye
Warner Brothers Records, 1982
I had forgotten all about Eye To Eye until I stumbled upon a vinyl copy of their debut LP at a record shop in the late ’90s. The cover looked familiar to me, so I took a chance and bought it. If that happened today, I would have just googled it on my phone and realized, “Oh yeah, “Nice Girls” was a #37 hit in 1982.” But back then, I had to take a chance. And that chance was rewarded.
If “Nice Girls” reminds you of Steely Dan in any way, you’re not alone. The record was produced by Gary Katz, Steely Dan’s long-time producer.
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.
Chilliwack: “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” (Henderson/MacLeod)
From the album Wanna Be A Star
Millennium Records, 1981
The Motels: “Mission Of Mercy” (Davis/Jourard)
From the album Apocalypso
Omnivore Recordings, 2011
The Eagles: “Heartache Tonight” (Frey/Henley/Souther/Seger)
From the album The Long Run
Asylum Records, 1979
Heart: “Magic Man” (A. Wilson/N. Wilson)
From the album Dreamboat Annie
Mushroom Records, 1976
John Cougar: “Hand To Hold On To” (Mellencamp)
From the album American Fool
Riva Records, 1982
Heart: “Barracuda” (A. Wilson/N. Wilson/Fisher/DeRosier)
From the album Little Queen
Portrait Records, 1977
Linda Ronstadt & The Nelson Riddle Orchestra: “What’s New” (Burke/Haggart)
From the album What’s New
Asylum Records, 1983
Linda Ronstadt: “You’re No Good” (Ballard, Jr.)
From the album Heart Like A Wheel
Capitol Records, 1974
Greg Kihn Band: “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)” (Kihn/Wright)
From the album Rockihnroll
Beserkley Records, 1981
Greg Kihn Band: “Reunited” (Kihn/Wright/Phillips)
From the album Kihntagious
Beserkley Records, 1984
Big Star: “Feel” (Bell/Chilton)
From the album #1 Record
Ardent Records, 1972
Raspberries: “Go All The Way” (Carmen/Bryson)
From the album Raspberries
Capitol Records, 1972
Steely Dan: “Babylon Sisters” (Becker/Fagan)
From the album Gaucho
MCA Records, 1980