Our Top 10 Tommy Tutone Songs list looks at the songs of a California band who had a huge hit in the 1980s and released a series of great albums. The group was first formed in 1978 by lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Tommy Heath, lead guitarist Jim Keller and bassist Terry Nails. Heath and Keller were the only constant members during their 80’s heyday with a revolving door of bassists and drummers. When Nails left he was replaced by Jon Lyons. Later bassists would include Greg Sutton, Pete Costello, Jimmy James and Mona Gnader. Original drummer Kenny Johnson was replaced by Mickey Shrine. When Shrine left he was replaced by Victor Carberry. Later drummers included Jerry Angel and John Cowsill.
They split up in 1984 and reformed again in 1996 and have remained together ever since. Jim Keller is no longer in the band, leaving Tommy Heath as the only original member. Jimmy James is now back in the band as the drummer.
Although Tommy Tutone are considered a one hit wonder , they also have a lot of other great tracks. Here at Classic Rock we are going to look at what their ten best cuts are and hopefully give our readers an education on this brilliant and underrated pop act.
# 10 – I Wanna Touch Her
Kicking off our top ten Tommy Tutone songs list is this track from their third album Natural Emotion released in 1983. The album as whole shows what a great and underrated act Tommy Tutone are. The lyrics to this song are very well written and the song as a whole is very powerful and has a good sense of emotion.
# 9 – Not Say Goodbye
This next track is from Tommy Tutone’s second album Tommy Tutone 2 released in 1981. Here is another song that shows the band putting a lot of emotion into their music. It also shows that the band are diverse with their sound, as this sounds quite different to a lot of their other work. This writer would make a strong argument that this song should have been a big hit.
# 8 – Laverne
Here is another great track from Natural Emotion. This track shows a more mature side to the band. The lyrics are very well written and Tommy Heath’s vocal performance is very good. This track is of an equally high quality of bands that were much more commercially successful at the time. It is clearly and painfully obvious that Tommy Tutone simply did not get the big break that bands such as Soft Cell and Duran Duran got.
# 7 – I’m Still With You
Up next is a track taken from Turbone.rtf released in 1998. Here the band have progressed with their sound and have a more alternative rock sound in the vein of REM and Husker Du. The guitar sound is great and Tommy voice sounds excellent. The band as a whole pull of this new sound very well. This is an album that could and should have made the band relevant in the then-current musical climate. Unfortunately this was not the case as the album completely failed to chart.
# 6 – A Long Time Ago
Here we have the title track of the band’s album released in 2011. Again, despite the band being considered to be a one hit wonder from eighties, this album was decent. Whilst maybe not the most groundbreaking thing you will ever hear, this song like the rest of the album is very well played and produced.
# 5 – Teen Angel Eyes
Kicking off the second half of this list is a track from the soundtrack to 1982’s The Last American Virgin. The film is an 1980’s teen classic and this is one of the great songs from the soundtrack. The soundtrack is a collection of great pop songs of the decade. In the film, this song appears in the opening credits.
# 4 – Another Slow Dance
Here is another very good track from A Long Time Ago. It is a brilliant piece of pop rock that really shows that the band have always deserved more success. It is comparable to the likes of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. Tommy’s voice here is very beautiful and the sound of the song as a whole is fantastic.
# 3 – Angel Say No
This was the first single to be taken from Tommy Tutone’s debut album released in 1980. It was successful upon its release, getting into the Billboard magazine top forty. It helped a lot to promote the album, which was also successful. Several critics applauded the single and particularly noted Tommy and Jim Keller’s talent for writing catchy pop hooks.
# 2 – Girl In the Back Seat
Just off the top spot is the third and final single to be taken from the first album. It followed the previous single “Cheap Date.” Despite the fact that both singles received good reviews and some radio airplay, they both failed to chart. However, the success of the album’s first single and its sales did manage to get the band a support slot to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Speaking of which…
# 1 – 867-5309/ Jenny
At the top spot is Tommy Tutone’s biggest hit which is the song that has led to them being considered to be a one hit wonder. Taken from their second album Tommy Tutone 2, upon its release in 1982, it got to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 after topping the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. The song’s popularity led to a humorous fad of people ringing the number of 867-5309 and asking to speak to someone called Jenny.
Jim Keller stated that Jenny was a girl who’s name and number was written on the wall of a men’s toilet after which he called her and then dated her for a while. However, the song’s co-writer Alex Call has stated that this is a made up story and that he made up the song’s title himself. The character of Jenny in the video was portrayed by Playboy model Karen Elaine Morton.
However, the fad of people calling the phone number led to people who actually had it as their phone number changing it because of frequent nuisance calls. When the number was also picked up by several commercial businesses, it actually led to quite a serious craze of places receiving prank calls that has even been known to still be happening as recently as 2013.
In 2007, there was a minor controversy when Bruce Springsteen released his single “Radio Nowhere” that contained a riff that was very similar to this song, despite the fact that the lyrics and tone were very different. Although there was talk of a lawsuit, Tommy ultimately decided not take legal action.
Top 10 Tommy Tutone Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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