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Golden Shower of Hits


I’ll admit it. This Summer mix, all 96 minutes of it, isn’t for every taste. Don’t Make Me Over delves into the scourge of “Golden Oldies” covers that took over the pop charts in the late ’70s and early ’80s. While the vapid California Soft Rock typified by Linda Ronstadt is well-represented here, there’s an intriguing eclecticism here that gives a little insight on the music scene (and its audience) in 1978-83.

It all begs the question: why? The obvious answer? Baby Boomers who couldn’t let go of their childhoods made up a huge portion of the record buying public back then. When Carole King included a couple of mellow covers of ’60s hits she co-wrote with Gerry Goffin on her mega-selling 1971 album Tapestry, it unwittingly set off the trend that continued well into the end of the ’80s. Re-imagining a familiar hit from the recent past was a sure-fire move, for both the artists who enjoyed the creative challenge and the labels who could bank on radio play from deejays seeing a familiar title on a 45 record or long-player. The practice reached critical mass in 1980-81 with a rash of updated oldies hitting the lower rungs of the Billboard Hot 100 – some whitewashed and wimpified, some given a more soulful spin, others with a New Wave twist.

The twenty eight tunes that comprise Don’t Make Me Over can be grooved to in the embedded playlists below, divided into two sections. Shout-out to the ’70s California airbrush artists whose evocative work adorns the covers for this mix: Dave Williardson (above) and Peter Palombi (below). Occasional episodes of cheesiness aside, I find this mix fascinating and hope you will, too.

Don’t Make Me Over- Scrubbles.net Summer 2013 Mix 20130515 1547 1

1. Linda Ronstadt – Just One Look (#44, 1979)
2. Yipes!! – Darlin’ (#68, 1980)
3. Josie Cotton – Tell Him (1982)
4. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (1980)
5. Phil Seymour – Let Her Dance (1980)
6. Nicolette Larson – I Only Want To Be With You (#53, 1982)
7. Carole King – One Fine Day (#12, 1980)
8. Jennifer Warnes – Don’t Make Me Over (#67, 1980)
9. Deniece Williams – It’s Gonna Take A Miracle (#10, 1982)
10. A Taste Of Honey – I’ll Try Something New (#41, 1982)
11. Eric Hine – Not Fade Away (#73, 1981)
12. Devo – Working In The Coal Mine (#43, 1981)
13. Gentle Persuasion – Please Mr. Postman (#82, 1983)
14. Sandy Posey – Love, Love, Love/Chapel Of Love (1978)
15. Chris Christian and Amy Holland – Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing/You’re All I Need To Get By (#88, 1982)

Don’t Make Me Over- Scrubbles.net Summer 2013 Mix Pt 2 20130516 1558

16. Amii Stewart and Johnny Bristol – My Guy/My Girl (#63, 1980)
17. The Spinners – Cupid/I’ve Loved You For A Long Time (#4, 1980)
18. Melissa Manchester – My Boyfriend’s Back/Runaway (1983)
19. The Tourists – I Only Want To Be With You (#83, 1980)
20. Robert John – Sherry (#70, 1980)
21. The Reddings – (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay (#55, 1982)
22. Daryl Hall and John Oates – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (#12, 1980)
23. Gary O’ – Pay You Back With Interest (#70, 1981)
24. Garland Jeffreys – 96 Tears (#66, 1981)
25. Kim Carnes – Cry Like A Baby (#44, 1980)
26. Heart – Unchained Melody (#83, 1981)
27. Andy Gibb and Victoria Principal – All I Have To Do Is Dream (#51, 1981)
28. Bernadette Peters – Dedicated To The One I Love (#65, 1981)

3 Thoughts on “Golden Shower of Hits

  1. Thanks for another great mix, Matt, as well as the research and thoguht that went into this post. I love that you chose such a specific era/ genre — one which is largely forgotten or dismissed (in many cases, justifiably) yet still resides rather vividly in my memory. These MOR covers take me right back to being five or six, stuck in a booth at a local eatery or waiting in a changing room at some department store. They soundtracked the occasional boredom of being a kid! So if I’m not always a fan of the versions themselves, I am always interested in nostalgic glimpses back at things that time forgot. Many of these tracks hold up well, actually, and I still get nice tingles from the Spinners’ “Cupid.” Thanks again, and keep up the great work! (PS, the only two songs I would append to the tracklisting would be “Yes I’m Ready” by Teri Desario & KC and “He’s So Fine” by Jane Olivor, but only because the former is a sentimental favorite and the latter is not half bad.)

  2. Thanks, JH – glad you enjoyed it! Like you, this mix evokes the time period for me – going grocery shopping with my mom on the weekends, shopping at the mall, eating a Big Mac at McDonald’s, etc.

    Totally forgot about that KC & DeSario tune, I even had it in iTunes — they also charted with a terrible cover of “Dancing in the Streets.” I will have to check out the Jane Olivor on Spotify.

  3. You know I’m going to have to look up that terrible cover now! (Has anyone ever been able to do justice to that song after Martha Reeves?) Maybe it’ll sound better if I eat a Big Mac with it. Strangely enough, I associate “Yes, I’m Ready” with a childhood love of McD’s fries.

    BTW, I meant to mention that the Jane Olivor cover reached #77 in 1978!

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