Monday, August 29, 2016

"Remember What You Like" by Jenny Burton

Song#:  1764
Date:  01/28/1984
Debut:  93
Peak:  81
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Dance, R&B

Pop Bits:  Burton's career started to pick up after she scored a #5 Dance hit in 1983 called "One More Shot." Although the song was credited to C-Bank, Burton served as the lead vocalist. She parlayed that hit into a solo deal with Atlantic and along with C-Bank's writer/producer John Robie, they recorded Burton's debut LP In Black and White. This song was selected to be the first single and it was a hit at Dance reaching #10. R&B responded well and sent the song to #21. The attention was enough for it to cross over to Pop for a few weeks.

ReduxReview:  This song borrows a bit from the Shannon sound ("Let the Music Play"), but it's just not quite as slick. The production is not as good and it doesn't sound as full and deep as Shannon's hit. There's a lot of sounds and effect going on which kind of overwhelm the song. There are certain aspects about it that are interesting, but overall it is a bit tinny and chaotic.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although it didn't fully translate into a career at the time, Burton did have a single reach the Dance chart back in 1975. Apparently, Burton was working as a receptionist at a record company and one day a producer needed a vocalist for his project. Burton stepped up to lend a hand. It got her signed to the small Cotton label who released the single "(Nobody Loves Me) Like You Do Do." The song got a little action in the clubs and reached #17 on the Dance chart. However, it didn't do a whole lot for her career at the time and she'd have to wait nearly ten years before she got a major label break.


"Tender Years" by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band

Song#:  1763
Date:  01/28/1984
Debut:  94
Peak:  78
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The film Eddie & the Cruisers featured a soundtrack that was performed by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band with Cafferty supplying some of the original songs. However, the first single from the album, "On the Dark Side," was credited to Eddie & the Cruisers, the movie's fictional band. That initial release of the single didn't do great and it topped out at #64. Still, the record company decided to push a second single and this song was issued. This time around, Cafferty and his band got proper billing. Unfortunately, the tune couldn't make any headway and it disappeared after a few weeks. Both singles would get a second life later in the year.

ReduxReview:  Yeah, the comparison to Springsteen is even more apparent on this song, especially with the Clarence Clemons-ish sax on the intro. It's a pretty good knock-off, but it really can't compare to the real Springsteen and I think that's the problem and why the band couldn't get signed. It's great to be influenced by another artist and even incorporate some of their style or sound, but I'm not sure what possessed Cafferty to push so hard to sound like Springsteen and the E Street Band. In doing so, they never really had their own identity and that ultimately killed their career. That doesn't mean they weren't a solid band. They were and this single showed they could actually hang with the Boss.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia: Cafferty wrote and recorded this song a few years earlier in 1980. At the time the group was just known as Beaver Brown and they signed on to Coastline Records for a single. The a-side was titled "Wild Summer Nights" while this song served as the b-side. The single was a success on the upper east coast, but the band's Springsteen-esqe sound scared off major labels - after all, there was already a Springsteen. After the band was discovered and offered the work on the Eddie & the Cruisers, both songs were revived and used for the soundtrack. Oddly, when the 1990 CD reissue of the soundtrack was released, both of these songs were replaced with two remakes. One can only assume that legal/rights issues kept the songs off that specific reissue.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Nobody Told Me" by John Lennon

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1762
Date:  01/21/1984
Debut:  36
Peak:  5
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Prior to his death in December 1980, Lennon and Yoko Ono had been working on music for the follow-up to their Grammy-winning #1 LP Double Fantasy. Although the songs were not fully finished, there was enough recorded that could be fleshed out into completed tracks. Nearly three years after Lennon's death, Ono returned to the studio to complete the songs. In similar fashion to Double Fantasy, half of the new album's tracks would be by John Lennon while the other half would be by Ono. Once completed, it was titled Milk and Honey and this first single was issued. Interest in the song was high, which helped the song debut within the Pop Top 40. It would peak at #5 at Pop, #2 at Rock, and #11 AC. The song would be Lennon's final Pop Top 40 entry.

ReduxReview:  Not being a big Lennon fan (I'm more McCartney-ish...), I didn't much care for this song when it was released. I specifically didn't like the barely melodic chorus. I actually enjoy the song much more now and like the verse and the transitions. Lennon almost yelling "nobody told me there'd be days like these" still irritates me a bit, but the rest of the song makes up for it. I don't think it ranks among his best, but it was a sunny head-bopper that played quite well as a non-morose posthumous release.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Lennon made a rough recording of this song in 1980 prior to his death. The intention was for Ringo Starr to record the song for his upcoming album (which ended up being 1981's Stop and Smell the Roses). A recording session for the song was scheduled in January 1981, but that was cancelled following Lennon's death. Starr resumed work on his album early in 1981, but he just couldn't bring himself to record this song. Starr was also unable to do another song Lennon had written for him called "Life Begins at 40."


Saturday, August 27, 2016

"Let's Stay Together" by Tina Turner

Song#:  1761
Date:  01/21/1984
Debut:  72
Peak:  26
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  After a year-long court case, Tina Turner was finally granted a divorce from her husband Ike in 1977. The pair were established R&B stars, but after the divorce Tina was left with a mountain of debt and the prospect of starting a solo career from scratch. Over the next few years, she toured, made guest appearances on TV shows and released two failed solo albums. Not much was going right and she needed a new direction, which she got when she took on Roger Davies as her manager in 1980. Davies directed her to do rock music and shows and after a 1981 performance at The Ritz in New York, things started happening. Performances with Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones gave her a spotlight and record labels began to show interest. Turner signed on with Capitol Records and this song got issued as a single. It gained an audience and soon it reached #1 on the Dance chart and #3 at R&B. The single was strong enough to crossover to the Pop chart where it got inside the Top 30. It was an unexpected hit that caught the artist and label off guard. Capitol quickly signed her to a better deal and wanted an album right away. By the summer, Turner would be in full comeback mode with a huge hit single and album.

ReduxReview:  I think because "What's Love Got to Do with It" was such a big single, it gets attributed as being Turner's comeback song. But really, this was the song that did it. If it had failed, chances are Capitol would have let Turner go and there would have been no "What's Love" or Private Dancer. So let's give a little credit to the record that really brought Turner back. Sadly, it's kind of gotten set aside in favor of her bigger hits. Produced by Martyn Ware (Heaven 17) and Greg Walsh, it has a terrific 80s glossy sheen that fits Turner perfectly. And as usual, she is giving it her all. She'd have bigger hits, but this is the one that truly began the most successful period of her career and helped to move her towards superstar status.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song co-written and first recorded by Al Green. His 1971 original got to #1 on both the Pop and R&B charts. It would remain at #1 on the R&B chart for nine weeks. The following year, soul star Isaac Hayes would release a version that would get to #25 at R&B and #48 Pop. Although this song has been covered and recorded by many artists, only Green, Hayes, and Turner have been able to get the song on the Pop chart.


Friday, August 26, 2016

"New Song" by Howard Jones

Song#:  1760
Date:  01/21/1984
Debut:  73
Peak:  27
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Englishman Jones began in music at an early age and as a teen formed a band with his brothers called Red Beat. He later joined his first real band, a prog rock outfit called Warrior, but it wasn't long before Jones was out on his own doing shows at the local clubs. He was basically a one-man band and after securing a few opening spots for other established artists, Warner Bros. took a chance on the keyboard wiz. He recorded this first single and soon after its release in August '83, the song would reach #3 on the UK chart. Another Top 10 followed and that led to his debut LP, Human's Lib, taking over the top spot on the UK chart. The success prompted the label to release this song in the US. It did fairly well for a debut single getting into the Pop Top 30 (#58 Rock), but it was a solid hit at Dance reaching #4.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that just makes me happy. It's so upbeat and positive with music that sounds like it could grace any good children's album. It was a bit unusual to hear on pop radio at the time as was the whole concept of being a one-man band. I quickly jumped on board and got the album as soon as it was released. It remains a favorite of mine. There were better songs on the album, but this ditty made for an interesting and memorable introduction to Jones.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Jones and fellow Brit Thomas Dolby, are considered pioneers in keyboard/electronic music. Each were among the first popular artists to be fully contained one-man bands. Jones' performances mainly consisted of him singing and playing behind large banks of keyboards and other equipment. However, he came up with an idea to make his shows more visual. At one of his early club stops, Jones noticed a guy dancing and doing mime to his songs. It sparked Jones' interest and he struck up a conversation with the guy. Soon after, artist Jed Hoile began to perform alongside Jones doing improvisational and choreographed dance and mime routines to Jones' songs. The visual element was a welcome addition and Hoile would remain a fixture in Jones' shows through to 1987. (I saw Jones twice back in the day. The first time was the summer of '84 and he opened for Eurythmics. It was just him on a revolving circle stage of equipment and the mime. It was pretty great and I found the mime fascinating. I saw him again a couple years later and it was him and the mime again, but he had a couple side musicians by that point.)