Nineteen seventy-nine was a very good year in music. In compiling today’s Throwback Thursday playlist focusing on 1979 I had so many very good songs from which to choose. 208 songs, to be exact. That’s how many 1979 cuts bring me much joy. There are another 181 1979 tracks I also like. Somehow I was able to whittle it down to the 30 cuts below. Some years it’s a struggle to come up with 30!
Disco was at its commercial peak in 1979. So many of the disco songs that charted then remain popular today – “I Will Survive,” “We Are Family,” “Y.M.C.A.,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Hot Stuff,” “Good Times,” “Heart of Glass,” “Ring My Bell,” “Knock on Wood,” “Got To Be Real.” While the genre seemed omnipresent, there was more to 1979 music than clams on the half shell and roller skates roller skates. Hear what was going on below.
Inspired by the August 20 birthdays of Boogie Down Productions’ KRS-One, Isaac Hayes, John Hiatt, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, The Knack’s Doug Fieger, Demi Lovato, Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, Jim Reeves, Hawkwind’s Dave Brock, and Nikki Leonti.
You may not know the name Mike Chapman. Then again, maybe you do. Chances are I don’t know you, so I have no idea what familiarity you may have with the name Mike Chapman. Even if I do know you, I don’t know everything that you know. I mean, I don’t know how much familiarity you have on certain subjects. Of course, you know things I don’t. Where am I going with this? I forgot. I’ll start over.
Mike Chapman. Even if you don’t recognize the name, chances are you recognize his hit songs. He produced Blondie’s Parallel Lines album. He produced Get the Knack. He produced lots more, some of his earlier efforts with his former business partner Nicky Chinn. The Chapman-Chinn team is also credited with writing many hit songs, as is Chapman without Chinn. Have you ever heard Toni Basil’s “Mickey?” Of course you have. It was written by Chapman and Chinn. Do you know Tina Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me?” That was written by Chapman and Chinn with Holly Knight.
Today’s playlist consists of nineteen songs on which Mike Chapman has a production credit, with Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” as a bonus track. Chapman didn’t produce that, though he and Chinn wrote it, as they did Sweet’s hit “Little Willy.” I love both of those records! Chapman and Chinn also wrote but didn’t produce the Huey Lewis and the News hit “Heart and Soul.” It’s no “Ballroom Blitz.” If you want to listen to it, you’re on your own.
Today may be Mike Chapman’s birthday. Then again, maybe it isn’t. It depends on what website you look to to get your information. Either way, the man is responsible for so many great hits, and that’s reason enough to post a playlist of some of his finest work (plus Rod Stewart’s “Love Touch,” which Rod agrees isn’t his finest, but whatevs). Included are the original versions (produced by Chapman) of the previously-mentioned hits for Toni Basil and Tina Turner.
Blondie’s hit single “Heart of Glass” was written by band members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein and had the working title of “The Disco Song.” Drummer Clem Burke said his part was inspired by the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”
Said Harry “When we did ‘Heart of Glass’ it wasn’t too cool in our social set to play disco. But we did it because we wanted to be uncool,” with the band’s keyboardist Jimmy Destri adding “We used to do ‘Heart of Glass’ to upset people.”
The song was included on Blondie’s Parallel Lines LP “as a novelty item to put more diversity into the album,” per Stein. The novelty song became the group’s first charted single and first #1, in 1979. Its success prompted John Lennon to send Ringo Starr a postcard advising to write songs like “Heart of Glass.”
Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights twenty of the best tracks from 1979, kicking off with Blondie’s upsetting disco novelty.
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“He always stressed when I was a kid that I should do whatever made me happy, because that’s the key to success, doing for a living whatever makes you happy.” – Alfred Matthew Yankovic, speaking about his father
At age 19, Yankovic, accompanying himself on his accordion, recorded a parody of The Knack’s “My Sharona” in a bathroom at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he was studying architecture. He sent a cassette of “My Bologna” to Dr. Demento, who played it on his syndicated radio show. When The Knack came to perform at his school, he played it for them. Lead singer Doug Feiger liked the track and suggested to an executive at the band’s label, Capitol Records, that they release it. They did so, as a one-off.
Yankovic’s next single, a parody of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” entitled “Another One Rides the Bus,” was released on TK Records, who went bankrupt a couple of weeks after the release. He then signed with Rock ‘n Roll Records and hit the Hot 100 for the first time with his parody of Toni Basil’s “Mickey,” which he called “Ricky,” about Ricky Ricardo.
Since then “Weird Al” Yankovic has stayed in the public eye. In 2014 he notched his first #1 album, Mandatory Fun.
Today “Weird Al” turns 55 years old. Here are twenty of my favorite of his tracks.
On this date in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash. In his hit “American Pie” Don McLean referred to it as “the day the music died.” A little dramatic, no? The music didn’t die, but it was a tremendous loss nonetheless.
Today Tunes du Jour pays homage to these late, great rock and roll pioneers. On our playlist: “Chantilly Lace” – The Big Bopper – The man born Jiles Perry Richardson’s only top ten hit, from 1958. “Think It Over” – Buddy Holly – A top forty single from 1958. “Donna” – Ritchie Valens – Valens’ only top ten hit, peaking at #2 in early 1959. “American Pie” – Madonna – Madonna covered Don McLean’s classic for her film The Next Best Thing at the suggestion of her co-star, Rupert Everett, who sings backing vocals on the recording. “Oh, Boy!” – Buddy Holly – A top ten single from early 1958. I recall Olivia Newton-John performing it on one of her television specials with guest stars Andy Gibb, Elton John and Cliff Richard. If memory serves, it went on for about forty minutes. “Heartbeat” – Buddy Holly – The Knack covered this for their breakthrough album, Get The Knack. “It’s So Easy” – Linda Ronstadt – Ronstadt had a top five hit with her cover of this song, written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty. Ronstadt also charted with covers of Holly’s hits “That’ll Be the Day” and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” “Not Fade Away” – The Crickets – An English quintet who went by the name The Rolling Stones charted in the US for the first time with their version of this tune. Not sure what happened to them. “Buddy Holly” – Weezer – Buddy Holly couldn’t have predicted this song’s opening lines – “What’s with these homies dissing my girl? / Why do they gotta front?” “Everyday” – Buddy Holly – James Taylor charted with his cover of this in 1985. “La Bamba” – Ritchie Valens – It’s hard to believe this song only peaked at #22 upon its release in 1958. “La bamba” is Spanish for “the bamba.” “Peggy Sue” – Lou Reed – This song was co-written by Buddy Holly, who took it to #3 in 1957. “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” – Buddy Holly – Holly didn’t write this posthumous hit; Paul Anka did. This and “My Way” are my two favorite Anka compositions. I also love “(You’re) Having My Baby,” but in a different way. “Words of Love” – Patti Smith – A pop combo from England covered this Holly composition on their album that in the US was titled Beatles VI. Not sure what happened to them. “Maybe Baby” – The Crickets – The Beatles’ name was inspired by the name of Holly’s band, The Crickets. “I’m Gonna Love You Too” – Buddy Holly – Blondie covered this for their breakthrough album Parallel Lines. “Come On, Let’s Go” – Los Lobos – Los Lobos performed Valen’s music for the biopic of Valen’s life, La Bamba. “That’ll Be the Day” – Modest Mouse – Written by Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison, “That’ll Be the Day” was Holly’s first hit, going to #1 in 1957. Given his immense influence on rock and roll, it’s hard to believe he died a year and half later. “Rave On” – Buddy Holly – One of five top forty singles Holly had in 1958. “True Love Ways” – My Morning Jacket – Holly wrote “True Love Ways” for his wife as a wedding gift. What did your husband get you?