Friday Five: June 1981

It’s a quick one this week, while I’m away from the interwebs.

5. “Double Dutch Bus” by Frankie Smith
It ended the month of June at #2 before beginning it’s four-week stay at the top of the R&B charts. It was funk, rap, and the kind of thing that (we) kids (of color, at least) loved to dance and skate to. It felt modern and hip to me.

4. “Take It on the Run” by REO Speedwagon
The song peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 in June, the follow up to the much larger hit “Keep on Loving You.” They combined to make the album Hi Infidelity</em) the biggest selling rock album of 1981, and the band's biggest selling album in their long history (it was their ninth album overall and they had seven more in them to come). I joined my first record club in 1981. I didn't get this album but I did eventually buy the follow-up Good Trouble. I don’t remember being a big fan; it was just what one was supposed to buy.

3. “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes
This could easily be #1 on my list but Kim Carnes doesn’t need my help. It was the #1 song in the country for nine non-consecutive weeks, from May to July 1981. After its fifth week, its reign at the top was interrupted by the odd mishmash of musical samples called “Medley,” by a Dutch group called Stars on 45. It then returned to the top spot for another four weeks. The smash hit was written by Donna Weiss and the maker of more than a few hits, Jackie DeShannon. I don’t remember being crazy about the song but neither did I dislike it. It was one of those cultural phenoms that everybody knew.

2. “Give It to Me Baby” by Rick James
While Kim Carnes was burning up the pop charts, Rick James was doing the same on the R&B charts, where he sat at #1 for five weeks (from June to July) with this hit. A funky bass line gives way to a killer dance song that makes it hard not to move. It was a favorite at the roller skating rink.

1. “All Those Years Ago” by George Harrison
Peaked at #5 at the end of the month, one of the pleasing tunes by George before he hit his renaissance in the later decade. Lyrically it captures his age and position as a former Beatle, so it’s nostalgic. Musically he’s making a current pop hit with lots of overtures to the past as well. I don’t remember it at all at the time, but I like it a lot now, as I do most of George’s stuff. He’s the fav of the fab four for me and my boy.

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