Sometimes it takes two to get smooth. Here’s a montage of West Coast duos from the late 70s and early 80s.
If you like WestCoast pop-rock and soul, this was a good week for you. On American Top 40 for the week ending November 21, 1981, Casey was calling them nice and smooth this week. Let’s see where those hits fell:
Coming in at #39 up from #49, it’s Turn Your Love Around by George Benson. This future Top 5 pop and #1 soul hit is like the nexus of Westcoast. Released from George’s new greatest hits ‘collection’, it was written by Bill Champlin, Steve Lukather, and Jay Graydon, who also produced and plays guitar on it. The Linn drums were programmed by Jeff Porcaro with piano by Jai Winding and synth bass by David Paich. It won a Grammy for Best R&B song.
Moving up 3 spots to #37, we have I Want You, I Need You by Chris Christian, the first and only CCM artist to cross over to the pop charts until Amy Grant in 1985.
At #36, we have a former Top 10 hit, Hard To Say by Dan Fogelberg. Dan’s a borderline WC artist, but I put him and this song here because of the backing vocals by Glenn Frey.
We hit some West Coast soul with Stevie Woods at #34 with Steal The Night then we zoom up to some Fleetwood Mac solo careers – Stevie Nicks with Don Henley at #21 duetting on Leather and Lace and breaking into the Top 20 at #19, Lindsey Buckingham with the future Top 10 single, Trouble.
Can I take this moment to point out the radio presence that Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks had, with and without Fleetwood Mac? From the moment Fleetwood Mac entered the Top 40 on December 6, 1975, with Over My Head, we heard a combination of LB, SN, and/or FM every year for the next 15 years as that combination placed at least one single in the Top 40. I’ll save the list for another post. Back to the charts…
Sandwiched between the solo Macs at #20 is the first Top 40 hit for Al Jarreau. We’re In This Love Together was on its way down from a peak of #15.
At #17, The Dude (or Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) Quincy Jones with Just Once with vocals by James Ingram, the 2nd Top 40 hit from his 1981 album which garnered 6 Grammys. James’ duet with Patti Austin, Baby Come To Me was released as his One Hundred Ways was peaking at #14 in the Spring of 1982. It would be another year and a handful of General Hospital episodes later before it would hit #1.
The Top 10 gives us the one-two punch of Mike Post and Christopher Cross. #10 is Mike’s Theme from Hill Street Blues with the jazzy stylings of guitarist Larry Carlton. And #9 is the former #1 hit for Christopher Cross, which won him an Oscar – Arthur’s Theme.
The Little River Band keep their Top 10 streak going with The Night Owls down one to #7.
And the #1 song this week, beginning a phenomenal 10-week run – produced by John Farrar, written by Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick and featuring a guitar solo by Steve Lukather – the biggest song of the 80s – Physical by Olivia Newton-John.
Whether or not you can remember where you were during that week in 1981, I can guarantee you had a smooth Thanksgiving.
Westcoast music was becoming so popular in the US in the mid to late 70s and its popularity spread as the music was exported around the globe to many other countries. Naturally musicians from those countries became influence by that sound and wanted to give their take on those smooth vibes.
Here’s a montage of West Coast music from outside of the US recorded in the 70s & 80s:
In the late 70s, after disco hit the mainstream and washed away most of the funk bands, R&B music was at a crossroads. As the decade turned in 1980, a new genre of West Coast music rose up to prominence: West Coast Soul. Taking a lesson from West Coast pop, it featured an uptown sophisticated sound, a little jazz, a little funk, a little soul and a lot of smooth vibes:
Here’s a montage of some West Coast Soul from the early 80s:
Thanks to all of the folks who came out on Monday to see the presentation live. I truly enjoyed presenting that for you. We also filmed the presentation, so when thats available, we will share that link with you.
In the meantime we will be adding more educational info to the site as well as videos that were not part of the original presentation.