So, we saw "Jersey Boys" on Broadway the other night -- my first time seeing the show in its 11-year run. It got me thinking about a theme for this week. Frankie Valli's last major hit was, of course, the theme to the movie "Grease," which hit #1 in 1978. But there were plenty of '60s artists whose success carried into the '80s. Here they are...
  1. Pete Townshend, "Rough Boys"
    Our leadoff track also jump-starts Townshend's most successful solo album, Empty Glass (propelled by the iconic hit "Let My Love Open The Door"). But "Rough Boys" was a minor hit too, proving that Townshend's style of songwriting was going to work just fine in his third decade in the business.
  2. The Who, "You Better You Bet"
    Case in point, this Townshend-penned 1981 hit off the Who's Face Dances album -- the album, and this single, becoming the band's first hits following the death of drummer Keith Moon. In hindsight, it seems like a swan song; although "Athena" was a Top 40 hit on both sides of the Atlantic the next year, "You Better" is the last song that fits in with the group's classics...with the possible exception of "Eminence Front."
  3. The Rolling Stones, "Waiting On A Friend"
    Why does this track, from 1981, list long-departed guitarist Mick Taylor in the credits? Because it was adapted from a demo the boys laid down in the early '70s, and reworked for the Tattoo You album. A bigger hit here in the States than in England, it's also memorable for Nicky Hopkins' piano lead and a fabulous, interwoven sax solo by Sonny Rollins.
  4. George Harrison, "Got My Mind Set On You"
    Originally recorded by James Ray in 1962 (when few knew who the Beatles were, or would be) and lovingly parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic as "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long," Harrison's 1987 take on the oldie provided the last U.S. #1 hit by any Beatle -- unless of course Paul McCartney should come out with something unexpectedly huge. Or Ringo, I guess, technically.
  5. Paul McCartney, "My Brave Face"
    Inexplicably left off of McCartney's just-released career box set Pure McCartney, "My Brave Face" is one of Paul's best '80s singles -- certainly better than stuff like "Press," which did make it onto the compilation. It's also the result of a songwriting partnership with Elvis Costello that yielded its most fruitful results with "Veronica," the biggest American hit of Costello's career.
  6. The Kinks, "Come Dancing"
    An out-of-left-field comeback hit, "Come Dancing" was the Kinks' biggest success in the U.S. since at least "Lola" in the early '70s. And it was isolated: They wouldn't have another hit like it. The tail end of this song could have fit in with our horn-section show a few weeks ago.
  7. Eric Clapton, "She's Waiting"
    "She's Waiting," the first track on Clapton's 1985 Behind the Sun album, begins what's been termed his Phil Collins period -- PC contributes drums to the track and produces it, one of eight songs on the album for which he sat in that chair. The partnership would continue through the rest of the decade, culminating in Clapton's instantly recognizable guitar lead on Collins' huge hit "I Wish It Would Rain Down."
  8. Van Morrison, "Have I Told You Lately?"
    Made popular in the '90s as a romantic ballad by Rod Stewart, the understated 1989 original by writer Morrison brings out the spiritual aspects of this warm hymn. Stewart streamlined the melody, but it's beautiful in Morrison's unmistakable, scat-inspired voice.
  9. Smokey Robinson, "Being With You"
    The single version is included here, but "Being With You" is also popular in an alternate edit in which Smokey swerves into Spanish in the second verse. It continued a commercial rebirth that began with "Cruisin'" to end the 1970s, and stretched all the way to 1987 and the very popular One Heartbeat album.
  10. Stevie Wonder, "Ribbon In The Sky"
    On the horn-section show, we brought you "Do I Do," from Stevie's Original Musiquarium I best-of. That was one of four new tracks, as was "Ribbon In The Sky." It didn't become a major chart hit like "Do I Do" or "That Girl," but did gain standard status among Wonder's greatest compositions -- being released just as Wonder (at age 32) was celebrating 20 years in the public eye.
  11. Marvin Gaye, "Sexual Healing"
    The key track in a comeback that, unfortunately, was much too short, "Sexual Healing" is singular in Gaye's catalog...unlike "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and "What's Going On," it didn't lead to a lot of covers despite the originals being definitive. And unlike "Let's Get It On" or "Got To Give It Up," it hasn't been shamelessly sampled and/or outright aped.
  12. The Four Tops, "When She Was My Girl"
    This 1981 single with a vague disco feel just missed the Top 10, and as such became the Tops' biggest hit in nine years, since "Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got)." It demonstrated that Levi Stubbs was still in fine voice...something that would be confirmed five years later with his co-starring role as the voice of Audrey II in the film version of Little Shop of Horrors.
  13. The Beach Boys, "Kokomo"
    I know what you are thinking and feeling right now, both about this song and my inclusion of it in this list. For most of you, there's just waaaaay too much Mike Love in this track for anyone's benefit. And, no Brian Wilson at all. But John Stamos does appear in the video. And the Muppets covered it once. So, there.
  14. Neil Diamond, "Heartlight"
    Inspired by the blockbuster film E.T., "Heartlight" (a Burt Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager composition) stands as Neil's last major Billboard hit, though he's added four Top 10 albums in the new millennium. And I'm starting to realize there's an exorbitant amount of Fender Rhodes keyboard in tonight's selections.
  15. Paul Simon, "The Boy In The Bubble"
    Having been around in the biz since the late '50s, Paul Simon had accomplished more than enough to worry about being validated as a solo artist by 1986. But regardless, he dropped the masterpiece Graceland album that year, on which "The Boy In The Bubble" was the leadoff track. Quality does not fall off from there -- the title track and "You Can Call Me Al" speak for themselves, but every song is good, even throwaways like (a personal favorite) "I Know What I Know."
  16. Waylon Jennings, "Theme from 'The Dukes of Hazzard' (Good Ol' Boys)"
    Waylon had been a survivor just about as long as Simon had when approached to do the theme song for The Dukes of Hazzard in 1979. As anyone who's seen the original series would recognize, he also served as the "Balladeer," or narrator, exposing him to all-new fans. An extended version of the theme was a huge hit single in 1980.
  17. Gary U.S. Bonds, "Out Of Work"
    Continuing the out-of-nowhere, Springsteen-fueled resurgence that began in 1981 with "This Little Girl," Bonds returned the next year with another set of songs written and produced by the Boss, this one making the biggest impact. And of course, he is once again backed by the classic E Street Band lineup.
  18. Roy Orbison, "You Got It"
    Talk about a career revival delivered by an idol: "You Got It" updated Orbison's trademark '60s sound with an '80s sheen courtesy of fellow Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne. Tom Petty, another Wilbury, co-wrote it and also plays on the track (Lynne would soon produce Petty's Full Moon Fever album). It's a tragedy that Orbison did not live long enough to see this song climb the charts, or the critical success the Mystery Girl album (also with songs by Elvis Costello and Bono/The Edge) would have.
  19. Carole King, "One Fine Day"
    Reclaiming one of the many, many hits King wrote in the early 1960s with ex-husband Gerry Goffin for other people (in this case, the Chiffons), her 1980 release of the song was her biggest hit in five years, and her last major chart success. It's a success that's well-deserved, and the composition serves as a major turning point -- and the Act I finale -- in Beautiful, the Broadway musical based on King's life and music.
  20. Cher, "I Found Someone"
    1987 was a banner year for Cher. Not only did she return to the pop Top 10 for the first time in eight years with this song, she also starred in the movie Moonstruck, and won an Academy Award for her efforts. The person who wrote "I Found Someone" was not well-known when 1987 began, but because of it, and his first couple of solo hits, he'd be well-known by 1988: Michael Bolton.
  21. Barbra Streisand, "Woman In Love"
    Bolton also wrote, and later took back, "We're Not Makin' Love Anymore" for Streisand, and she had an Adult Contemporary hit with it. But that was at the end of the decade; at the beginning, she was collaborating with the Bee Gees on the Guilty album, off which this hit #1. And yes...Britney Spears' "Oops!...I Did It Again" is very similar.
  22. Diana Ross, "Upside Down"
    If you haven't picked up on it, we're ending the show with a succession of great female artists, all of them, again, survivors in the business. Ross certainly fit that bill, and as I've explained previously, had the audacity and clout to remix Nile Rodgers' and Bernard Edwards' versions of the songs for her "diana" album. It paid off for "Upside Down," which became a #1 hit and in many ways, her signature solo song.
  23. Tina Turner, "Private Dancer"
    Has anyone had a career like Tina Turner? To release your most popular, most critically acclaimed album at the age of 45? And what an album...anchored by its title track -- written by Mark Knopfler for his band Dire Straits, but passed on to Turner, who delivers it like no one else could. The bridge is an unqualified triumph, and Jeff Beck's Knopfler-like guitar work brings it all together.
  24. Dionne Warwick, "Heartbreaker"
    Another Bee Gees collaboration, "Heartbreaker" marked Dionne's return to the charts after "Deja Vu" and "I'll Never Love This Way Again," produced by Barry Manilow, hit in 1979. And she didn't want to record this one -- but after it became one of the biggest hit singles of her career, she famously admitted, "I cried all the way to the bank."
  25. Aretha Franklin, "Freeway Of Love"
    Sporting a conspicuous sax cameo by Clarence Clemons, "Freeway Of Love" updated Aretha's Queen of Soul credentials with an '80s backdrop, propelled by the writing and production of Narada Michael Walden. He is probably best known for his early-career work with Whitney Houston, producing hits like "How Will I Know," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "So Emotional," and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."