Today’s Top 5: June 1982 (via Creem)

Every Monday, we rolled out of bed, ate breakfast while scanning the sports section of the morning newspaper, and headed to the bus stop, where we waited with a motley crew of kids from the neighborhood. At school, we navigated the halls on the way to and fro’ class, and fled at day’s end unless we had an after-school activity of some kind. The next morn, we did it again. And again after that, times three, until summer break came.

After school, depending on weather and mood, we played in the street or the park, rode our bikes or walked to independently owned music and book stores in our small town’s business district, or hiked the long hill to the Village Mall, where we browsed the chain-store versions of the same. The main difference: the folks behind the counter at those independent stores knew my name. At the chain stores? They only knew my cash.

In 1982, social media would have meant talk radio. Cable TV was around, but channels weren’t many. In the Philly area, the most important to get was PRISM, an HBO-like premium channel that, in addition to movies and specials, carried the home games of the Flyers.

In some respects, life was less hectic. The news cycle played out in drips and drabs via the newspapers and evening newscasts, not the incessant drumbeat of disagreements that fill our Facebook and Twitter feeds. But, make no mistake, life was no less difficult then as now. June 1982, for example, saw America stuck in a wretched recession: Inflation clocked in at 7.2 percent while unemployment was 9.8 percent.

I was 16, going on 17.

New movies released this month include Poltergeist, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, E.T., Grease 2 and Blade Runner. True story: one day later this month, after school had let out for the summer, a friend and I trekked to the Village Mall, which was home to a two-screen Eric movie theater. He took in Poltergeist. I took in…Grease 2. That’s just how I rolled.

The top TV shows for the just-concluded 1981-82 season included Dallas, 60 Minutes, The Jeffersons, Three’s Company, Alice, The Dukes of Hazzard, Too Close for Comfort, M*A*S*H and One Day at a Time. (Of those, I only watched the last two on a regular basis.)

In the world of music, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder were atop the charts with “Ebony and Ivory” – a 45 I still own – for all of June. Other hot hits included Rick Springfield’s “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny,” the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ cover of “Crimson & Clover.” (As always with all things charts, I rely on Weekly Top 40.)

Which leads to today’s Top 5: June 1982 via Creem. Joan Jett graces the front cover of the issue and, via an ad, the back.

1) Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – “I Love Rock ’n Roll.” The Iman Lababedi-penned cover article chronicles Joan Jett’s ascent from the generally ignored Runaways to this point in time, when she was on a roll, having finished a seven-week run at No. 1 with “I Love Rock ’n Roll” on May 1st, and then cracking the Top 10 again this month with “Crimson & Clover,” to say nothing of her platinum-selling I Love  Rock ’n Roll album.

2) Quarterflash – “Harden My Heart.” “In the United States, statistics show, a girl is walking out on her no-good man every 15 minutes. Statistics also show that 15 minutes later they’re going out and buying the Quarterflash record.” So begins music journalist Sylvie Simmons in this in-depth profile of the Portland, Oregon, band, which – to my ears – always sounded somewhat like Pat Benatar. Interestingly, the songs weren’t written by singer (and saxophonist) Rindy Ross, but her husband, guitarist Marv Ross.

3) The Jam – “A Town Called Malice.” Penny Valentine checks in from Britain with a good piece on the Jam. “Not since the Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ has a record so well captured an urban mood and sent out its own warning: ‘Better stop dreaming of the quiet life/‘Cause it’s the one we’ll never know/And quit running for that runaway bus/‘Cause those rosy days are few.’”

She also delves into the album the song springs from. “So ‘Gift,’ an indecisive, incomplete, somewhat directionless collection musically and a set which reflects Weller’s own confusion between a salvation that lies with love and individualism or collective action, somewhat accidentally reflects exactly the political climate at the moment.”

4) Van Morrison – “Cleaning Windows.” Richard Riegel has the lead review, of Van Morrison’s Beautiful Vision, in the Records section. Of this song, he writes that “‘Cleaning Windows,’ which opens Side Two of Beautiful Vision, picks up some of the threads of ‘Summertime in England,” and is the most interesting song on the new set as a result. ‘Cleaning Windows’ stars Van Morrison as a repatriated Belfast window washer, who measures his life in the number of sparkling panes he’s left behind…”

He also laments that “nowhere else on Beautiful Vision does Van Morrison allow us such crystalline metaphors for his life. All 10 cuts have his trademark beautiful-vision melodies but lyrically too many of the other songs celebrate those vague bromides favorited by Bob Dylan in recent years, songs in which the satisfaction of the singer’s belief is supposed to substitute for acute lyric detail.”

5) The Call – “War-Weary World.” Riegel also contributes his take on the Call’s eponymous debut to the Rock-a-Rama roundup: “Clenched-jaw, urban-melodrama-verging-on-paranoia, a la Talking Heads, but far icier and more detached music than David Byrne would ever allow his disciplined-to-funk urban soul to express.”

7 thoughts

  1. By 1982, I’d given up on ONE DAY AT A TIME, but was still usually catching the intermittently amusing M*A*S*H (the recent marathon on Sundance reminded me yet again just how much better, except in the blatant sexism, it was in the first three seasons) and would catch the odd 60 MINUTES…WKRP was the sitcom of choice for me, also dug the likes of BARNEY MILLER and LOU GRANT and AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE. Never did acquire the taste for CREEM, except a couple of years later I did pick up their anniversary issue which gathered up a lot of their early content greatest hits, such as some Dave Marsh gait-prop and Lester Bangs’s fantasy on the extended career of the Count Five. I’d also pretty much given up on ROLLING STONE by 1982, unless they had someone I liked a lot on the cover…still picked up and read through DOWN BEAT and occasionally other jazz magazines though, mostly at the libraries. (Most of the money went for records and books, and I’d certain read the Tower Records PULSE as far as it went, since it was free and Tower was on my way home from my Honoluu school.). Aside from a dim memory of the Call, however, I certainly was enjoying the Top Five you cite to one degree. or another…I liked Quarterflash featuring the sax so prominently, even if the songs were just Rather Good. But in 1982, I was finally starting to dig into punk (having listened sparingly previously) and definitely dug the rock of such bands as the Go-Go’s (ex punks), Blondie (never quite punk but adjacent enough), and the Bangs having just become the Bangles (hung around punks of the friendlier sort…the Fawlty Products EP was what I had…didn’t have the singles). While also amassing as much jazz, folk, classical, blues and bluegrass and Hawaiian as I could afford and which sounded interesting. Didn’t get MTV, but did listen to the videos on NIGHT FLIGHT fairly often, among other places (the Kailua cable was a very clunky outfit that was soon swallowed whole by the Honolulu-based Oceanic, just after I moved out from my parents house and into the dorms at U Hawaii, and they went to work/live in the DC and the environs).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Records and books and fiction magazines, anyway. Marv is particularly an odd choice of mechanical rejection. Then, as now, I a whole year older than thou, and as I dodder into senescence, I wish the spell-check would catch the grammatical and agreement errors a bit, rather than uncorrecting some spelling…but, then again, I could try writing what I mean.

    Why didn’t the locally-owned vendors get your money? Prices all higher? Barely were any Waldenbooks in Hawaii at the time and no B. Daltons, so the Honolulu Book Shops chain held that place and were somewhat superior…while the secondhand record and book stores got more than a little of my lunch money in those years (anyone on the bus line home was getting what I didn’t eat). Tower did undersell the only local new-records store I visited much, as well as vastly out-inventorying them…but so did the huge local Odyssey Records (and, I gathered, head shop) store whose space Tower took over. The listening stations the mall store had, and being in the mall rather than across the parking lot and on the corner, must have had a certain magic…or someone was laundering or tax-lossing pretty assiduously.


    1. I frequented local and chain. The locals knew me, the chains did not. (The chains sometimes stocked things the locals did not, such as The Runaways’ Live in Japan, which is why I shopped at both.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s