Song of the Day #3,808: ‘No Reply At All’ – Genesis

Genesis is a fascinating band, one of the few to fundamentally change musical styles (and singers) over decades while continuing to grow its audience.

They started as a folk rock band fronted by Peter Gabriel, then shifted to prog rock after Phil Collins joined as drummer and background vocalist. When Gabriel left the band in 1978 and Collins took over as lead singer, they started a gradual shift toward pop. That’s where they would ultimately find the most success, reaching their commercial pinnacle with 1986’s excellent Invisible Touch.

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Song of the Day #3,807: ‘Urgent’ – Foreigner

I’m passingly familiar with the next featured 1981 album, Foreigner’s 4. I bought it for $5 a couple of years ago because it seemed like an album I should own.

4 was, appropriately, the rock band’s fourth album. I was going to write that it was by far their most successful, but a quick check revealed that, while this album sold 6 million copies and spent 10 weeks in Billboard’s #1 spot, their 1978 album Double Vision actually outsold it by a million.

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Song of the Day #3,806: ‘Leather and Lace’ – Stevie Nicks with Don Henley

Stevie Nicks had already enjoyed extraordinary success with Fleetwood Mac when she released her solo debut, Bella Donna, in 1981.

Nicks was on a hell of a roll at this point in her career. She joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 (along with her writing and life partner Lindsay Buckingham) and anchored the band’s two most popular and acclaimed albums, including 1977’s Rumours, one of the top-selling albums of all-time.

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Song of the Day #3,805: ‘Crimson and Clover’ – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

The Go-Go’s set a record for sales by a female act, but they weren’t the only trailblazers in 1981. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ I Love Rock ‘n Roll sold more than 10 million copies and put its title track atop Billboard’s Hot 100 for seven weeks.

Jett released several albums with the Runaways and one solo record before forming The Blackhearts and dropping this smash hit. The album is full of crunchy guitars and sexy swagger. It’s not so much a collection of great songs as a half hour of raw, seductive girl power turned up to 11.

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Song of the Day #3,804: ‘Tom Sawyer’ – Rush

Continuing my look at some of the most celebrated albums from 1981, here’s the classic opening track of Rush’s eighth studio album, Moving Pictures.

I have to confess that I completely missed the boat on Rush. Though they released new material steadily from my infancy through my 20s, I never managed to own a Rush album or even become familiar with a Rush song. Today’s SOTD, ‘Tom Sawyer,’ is probably their best-known track, and I think I heard it for the first time this week.

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