Monday, September 16, 2019

"Where Did Your Heart Go?" by Wham!

Song#:  2893
Date:  10/11/1986
Debut:  75
Peak:  50
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This duo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley was wrapping up their career together with one final album. In the UK and other territories it would be a compilation LP titled The Final that mixed hits with a few new tracks. In the US it would be a single disc of the new tracks called Music from the Edge of Heaven. The LP spawned two Pop Top 10 hits including "The Edge of Heaven" (#10), which would be their last Top 10. Their label tried for one more by releasing this third single, but it wasn't meant to be. It spent a short couple months on the chart topping out at the halfway point while getting to #33 at AC. The album would be a platinum seller that peaked at #10. With all obligations tidied up and completed, the duo amicably split and went their own ways. By 1988, Michael would be one of the hottest stars in music.

ReduxReview:  This song was a good fit for Wham! (well George Michael, really). It's not too far off from the original version (see below), but Michael gave the song a smoother groove and turned it toward ballad territory. It wasn't out of line from other Wham! songs and it was a nice track, but it wasn't necessarily a great choice for a single. The song did hit #1 in the UK, but that was because it was a double-sided single with "The Edge of Heaven." Since both songs were released individually in the US, they had to stand on their own and this one just didn't catch on. On an odd note, this could be the only pop single to chart that references a "rusty can of corn..."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the quirky US dance-rock band Was (Not Was). It appeared on their 1981 self-titled debut album. It was issued out as a single, but it failed to chart. The song was written by the band's founders Don Was and David Was. Despite the last name, the two are not brothers. Don Fagenson and David Weiss were childhood friends who got involved in music and decided to form their own band. They decided to be music brothers and adopted the same last name of Was. The band would have success in 1987 with the #7 Pop hit "Walk the Dinosaur." Don Was would also branch out to producing albums for other artists. He has been a very successful sought-after producer for years and has worked with a myriad of A-listers including The Rolling Stones, Elton John, The B-52's, Carly Simon, Garth Brooks, Bob Seger, and Willie Nelson. He also produced Bonnie Raitt's Grammy-winning 1989 comeback album Nick of Time and its two studio follow-ups. He has won five Grammys including Producer of the Year in 1994.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

"Lady Soul" by The Temptations

Song#:  2892
Date:  10/11/1986
Debut:  80
Peak:  47
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The 80s were a shaky time for The Temptations. There were numerous personnel changes, a label change, and a lack of hits. While they would score two R&B Top 10's in '82 and '84, they were unable to get inside the Pop Top 40. In fact, their last Pop Top 40 entry was over a decade ago in 1975 with the #37 "Glasshouse." Despite the lack of crossover hits, the group soldiered on and continued to record albums. Their 1986 effort, To Be Continued..., would end up being their third best charting of the decade at R&B getting to #4. That result came about due to the strength of this first single, which made it to #4. The song was able to cross over to the Pop chart, but like two other of their 80s singles, it got into the top half of the chart but stalled before it could crack the Top 40. It would end up being their final single on their own to reach the Pop chart. The Temps stayed active throughout the remainder of the 80s and were able to get three more R&B Top 10s. Their output in the 90s was sporadic and by 2000, their run of singles on the R&B chart came to an end. The group has continued to record and tour over the years with various line-ups. As of 2019, Otis Williams was the only surviving member of the original Temptations. He was still performing with the group.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo track is an easy listen. It's not too far off from some of the songs Lionel Richie was doing at the time. I could even hear Ray Parker, Jr. doing this tune. Of course the Temps and lead singer Ali-Ollie Woodson do a lovely job with the vocals. However, the record is just good, not great. It is certainly pleasant to hear, but there's nothing special that makes the song stand out. It's one of those songs that I'll listen to a few times today, but come tomorrow I won't remember it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1991, The Temptations would find themselves in the Pop Top 10 one last time. It came courtesy of Rod Stewart who enlisted them to sing on "The Motown Song," a track from his album Vagabond Heart. It would be the second single released from the LP in the US and it went to #10 at Pop while getting to #3 at AC. Oddly, even with the presence of the Motown theme along with The Temptations, the song failed to chart at R&B. Stewart's version was a remake of Larry John McNally's original that he wrote and recorded in 1986. McNally's track was included on the soundtrack to the Kevin Bacon film Quicksilver.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

"Don't Get Me Wrong" by The Pretenders

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2891
Date:  10/11/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  Although this band went through some changes prior to recording their third album, 1984's Learning to Crawl (#5, platinum), it was nothing compared to the chaos that preceded their next LP, Get Close. Members were either fired or left and after recording one song with producer Steve Lillywhite, they switched gears and began to work with Bob Clearmountain and Jimmy Iovine. In the end, Chrissie Hynde was the only original Pretender left in the new lineup and session musicians were brought in to help fill out the band. The album finally got completed and this first single was issued out. It ended up doing well reaching #1 at Rock while becoming the band's second (and final) Pop Top 10 hit. It also got to #28 at AC. The hit was a good reward for working through all the tumult, but it all wasn't over yet. By the time the supporting tour for the LP was over and worked needed to start on a new album, The Pretenders basically consisted of just one person - Chrissie Hynde.

ReduxReview:  This is certainly the most poppy thing to ever come from Hynde and Co. The band was more known for their tough-edged rock tunes so this jangly little ditty came as a bit of a surprise. It was expertly crafted and performed with an easy, relaxed vocal from Hynde. It's one of those songs that is just nice to hear. The hooks were solid and it sounded great on the radio. The video, which had an Avengers theme (the British TV series, not the superhero stuff), was also popular and helped the song up the chart. An excellent stab at straight ahead pop from Hynde.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  When The Pretenders were featured on an episode of VH1's popular Storytellers series, Chrissie Hynde shared the inspiration behind the song. She had been friends with tennis star John McEnroe, who was a big rock music fan. Although Hynde didn't really watch tennis, she knew about McEnroe's bad boy image on the court and felt that he was a bit misunderstood. So she set out to write a song for him titled "Don't Get Me Wrong." She wrote part of the song while on a British Airways flight and then finished it up later. Not too long after, Hynde took another British Airways flight. When the in-flight announcement came on, it started with four tones followed by something like "welcome to British Airways." Hynde then realized that the four tones were the same as the melody line when she sings "don't get me wrong." Since she began writing the song on a BA flight, she could only assume that the melody came from the four announcement tones she had heard.


Friday, September 13, 2019

"C'est la Vie" by Robbie Nevil

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2890
Date:  10/11/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  2
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  This singer/songwriter/guitarist honed his skills in his teens and early twenties and did well enough to secure a publishing deal in 1983. Nevil then built up his resume having his songs recorded by artists like The Pointer Sisters, Sheena Easton, and Melissa Manchester. By 1986, Nevil was ready to launch his own solo career and signed on with Manhattan Records. He prepped a self-titled debut album and this first single was issued out. It took a slow climb up the chart before finally topping out in the #2 position for a couple of weeks. The song also hit #1 at Dance, #7 R&B, and #37 AC. It was a major hit that got Nevil's career going.

ReduxReview:  It took a little time for this track to catch on, but once it did it was all over the place. It's a catchy, groovy tune that had excellent 80s production and a terrific lead vocal from Nevil. It was delightful ear candy that was hard to resist. Nevil was smart to breathe life into this track and was fortunate that it didn't already become a hit (see below). Nevil would go on to have four more Top 40 entries including a second Top 10, but the party appeal of this one kept it around for many years after its initial release.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Although this song became a hit for Nevil and was co-written by him (along with Duncan Pain and Mark Holding), this can be considered a cover tune as it had already been recorded by another artist. This song was originally picked up and recorded by R&B singer Beau Williams in 1984. It appeared on his album Bodacious!. It was not issued out as a single. At the time, Williams was trying to make his way into the R&B market. He had signed on with Capitol Records in 1982 and recorded three albums for them including Bodacious! Unfortunately, his singles failed to chart and the albums came and went quickly. Williams then went on to record gospel music for Light Records. Apparently Nevil sensed that "C'est la Vie" had hit potential and when he got an opportunity to record his own album, he revived the track. It ended up being smart move.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

"Good Music" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Song#:  2889
Date:  10/11/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  83
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Jett was last on the Pop chart in 1983 with the #35 "Fake Friends." It was the second single from her third LP titled Album, which ended up being a #20 gold seller. She and her band followed it up a year later with Glorius Results of a Misspent Youth. Unfortunately, singles from the album failed to get any attention and the album halted at #67. Jett then took two years to issue out her next album, Good Music. The title track would be the first single issued out, but it just couldn't get a foothold anywhere. The song completely missed the Rock chart while faltering near the bottom of the Pop chart. A second single, a cover of the Modern Lovers' garage rock classic "Roadrunner," reached a minor #46 at Rock while missing the Pop chart. With little to support it, the album tanked at #105. Luckily, her career would get a boost in '87 thanks to her taking a role in a high-profile film.

ReduxReview:  This sounds like one of those old-fashioned sing-a-long songs from the 50s or 60s amped up in a hard rock way for the 80s. The appearance of members of the Beach Boys and Darlene Love (see below) is appropriate and they give the song a little authenticity. Yet despite a catchy chorus it's not that great of a song. It doesn't come close to the classics it was paying homage to. Jett was caught between being honest to her hard rock roots and trying to please her label and the mainstream. It was a tough position and I think she was trying to figure it out with this tune, but it didn't quite work. Even rock radio ignored the tune, which was not a good sign. Although it is not a bad song, it just wasn't what Jett needed at the time. She'd finally figure it all out with her next album.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Jett and producer Kenny Laguna. The background vocals were done by Darlene Love and The Beach Boys. The appearance of The Beach Boys was particularly surprising since it came during one of their periods of not getting along. Laguna wanted to have them on the record, but was told it was virtually impossible to assemble them in the same session. So Laguna thought he'd at least ask Carl Wilson to supply a guitar part. Wilson agreed and then brought along with him Bruce Johnson. Somehow Mike Love got wind of the session and showed up followed by Al Jardine. In the end, Jett and Laguna got what they originally had wanted with nearly a full compliment of Beach Boys doing vocals on the track.