Monday, October 14, 2019

"Land of Confusion" by Genesis

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2921
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  64
Peak:  4
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's album Invisible Touch was their first to produce two Top 10 hits in the US including the title track, which was their first #1. After their ballad "Throwing It All Away" got to #4, they released this more rock-leaning political track. It did fine at Rock getting to #11, but it was more successful at Pop where it hit the #4 mark. The hit kept sales of the album strong and eventually it would be their most successful studio album selling over six million copies.

ReduxReview:  Politics and world views are not necessarily subjects that pop hits are made of, but sometimes one will breakthrough and Genesis was able to do it with this charging track. However, I do think what helped it become a hit was the associated video (see below). The single may have been able to stand on its own and still do well without the video, but it most likely would not have done nearly as well. I was actually a little surprised this song got selected for release. It has hooks and a chorus, but the darker music and subject matter made it seem more like an album track rather than a single. Still, it worked out rather well and I liked the tune. Is it among my favorites from Genesis? Not really, but it is still an interesting listening.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia: Double Shot!  1) While the song was a hit, it was certainly propelled into the Top 10 thanks to its memorable video that was heavily aired on MTV. All the characters in the video were puppets from the hit British satirical show Spitting Image. The only puppets not from the show were the ones that represented the three members of Genesis (apparently, each of those puppets cost $10,000 to make). Spitting Image used exaggerated puppets of famous politicians and celebrities for sketches that skewered politics, entertainment, and pop culture. It aired from 1984 to 1996. Among the musicians that were satirized via puppets on the show was Phil Collins. The sketch poked fun at Collins and his music with the puppet performing an intense, depressing song about his marriage breaking up and being lonely. The original song was sung by a person who was imitating Collins' voice. It seems Collins happened to see the sketch and though that using the Spitting Image puppets would be ideal for the "Land of Confusion" video. The video featured the Genesis puppets playing the song as Ronald Reagan has a massive sweat-inducing nightmare. The video would win a Grammy award for Best Concept Music Video (an award category that lasted only two years). It would also be nominated for six MTV Music Video awards, but was aced out of all of them by a video from their former bandmate Peter Gabriel ("Sledgehammer").  2) This song was remade by the US heavy metal band Disturbed. It was the fourth single from their 2006 album Ten Thousand Fists. It would be the band's first #1 hit at Rock. It did not make the Pop chart.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

"Victory" by Kool & the Gang

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2920
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  72
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This band's 1984 album Emergency would be their best-selling studio album going double-platinum. It was thanks to three Pop Top 10s and four R&B Top 10s, which included the triple-charting ballad "Cherish" (#2 Pop/#1 R&B/#1 AC). It would take two years before they would release their next album, Forever. This first single got things kicked off. It did well getting to #2 at R&B while becoming their twelfth Pop Top 10. The tune was also a minor entry at AC (#35) and Dance (#35).

ReduxReview:  Now, I'm certain I heard this song back in the day because it was a Top 10 hit and I would have heard it on the Top 40 countdown. Yet I don't remember it at all. It's like I've just heard this song for the first time (and likely the last). I think the reason I don't remember the tune is because it is so dull. It's just one long groove with barely a chorus over the top. In fact, the last half of the song is just sputtering horns and various "victory" vocal stabs and ad libs. For a song that is supposed to be energetic, it practically puts me to sleep. It didn't help that I was pretty much over Kool & the Gang's pop/R&B formula they had spread over the past few albums. They were becoming less interesting with each release and this song certainly didn't help.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Since their debut album in 1969, Kool & the Gang had been on the same label. De-Lite Records was started in 1967 and began putting out records in 1968. One of the first artists they signed was Kool & the Gang. The band's first single, 1969's "Kool & the Gang," would be the label's first hit. The tune got to #19 R&B and #59 Pop. A long string of hits from the band would follow. De-Lite would get distributed by Pickwick for a good chunk of the 70s. Then PolyGram took over in 1977. Then in 1985, PolyGram decided to fold De-Lite into one of their bigger labels, Mercury. De-Lite was then de-funked. Kool & the Gang was then moved over to Mercury and Forever was their first album for the label. De-Lite also had some success in the mid-70s with the R&B/disco outfit Crown Heights Affair. Their biggest hit was the 1975 #1 Dance/#5 R&B/#43 Pop hit "Dreaming a Dream." They would go on to have two more Dance Top 10s and four R&B Top 20s. The label would have a few other artists to have songs reach the charts, but none were as successful as Kool & the Gang.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

"Control" by Janet Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2919
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  73
Peak:  5
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Thus far, Jackson's Control album was three-for-three. Three Pop and R&B Top 10 hits, three gold records. Was there a chance for a fourth? This defiant title track got issued out and the answer to the question was - yes! The single became Jackson's third #1 at R&B and her second #1 at Dance. While it didn't reach the top of the Pop chart, it did become her fourth Top 5 hit and it was also her fourth gold record in a row. This put her on-pace with her brother Michael's run of singles from Thriller. That LP's first four singles were all Pop Top 5 entries as well. At the time, two of the singles would be platinum sellers and one gold.

ReduxReview:  This was such a great album opener. Jackson made a statement right from the get-go and you knew you were in for a terrific ride. I remember writers, critics, etc., were all like "Janet has grown up!" Indeed she had and she developed into a strong, independent woman. There are some artists that gradually mature over time with each release, but with Jackson it was just an immediate and decisive change from her 1984 bubblegum Dream Street album to the gauntlet throwing Control. The LP's run of singles started off with the outstanding "What Have You Done for Me Lately," but it was this song that tied everything together. It was basically a big eff-off to her family (dad in particular) and nothing would be the same for Jackson after this.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  A nine-minute video was shot for this song. While the bulk of it was a performance-style video of the song (with choreography by Paula Abdul), the front section was an acted out drama with Janet trying move away from her parents. She ends up in an argument with her dad. Both the song and the mini-drama were not unlike Jackson's real life as she had been in the process of separating herself from her family, especially from her dad who had also been her manager. In the video, the woman portraying Jackson's mother is actress Ja'net DuBois. It wasn't DuBois' first time playing Jackson's mom. DuBois co-starred on the hit TV comedy Good Times. Jackson would join the show in its fifth season playing Penny, an abused child who ended up abandoned by her parents. DuBois' character, Willona, ends up adopting Penny. Jackson was on the last two season of the show. In the "Control" video, Jackson's father was played by Jerome Benton. He is the brother of former Time member (and Jackson co-writer/producer) Terry Lewis. While Benton was not an actual member of The Time, he became associated with them playing comedic bits on stage on occasion. Folks may remember him from the movie Purple Rain in which he played Morris Day's bodyguard/valet. Benton's most memorable scene is when he runs on stage with a mirror during The Time's performance in order for Day to check his hair. Benton would also make appearances in Prince's two other films Under a Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge.


Friday, October 11, 2019

"All I Wanted" by Kansas

Song#:  2918
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  19
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Following the poor performing 1983 album Drastic Measures, Kansas made the decision to break up. A hits compilation, 1984's The Best of Kansas, would complete their contract with Epic and one final new song, "Perfect Lover," would be issued out as a single. It could only reach #54 at Rock. Then in '85, the band's original lead singer Steve Walsh (he had left them in 1981) got the itch to revive Kansas. He and two other original members got back together and padded out the band with two new members. The reformed group got signed to MCA Records and were able to record a new album titled Power. With the LP, the band moved further away from their prog rock roots and into more pop/rock territory. This first single certainly demonstrated a change in direction and it ended up doing pretty well. It got to #10 at Rock while being their first song to crack the Pop Top 20 since 1982's "Play the Game Tonight" (#18). It also made the AC chart at #14 becoming only their second single to get on that chart (the other was 1978's "Dust in the Wind," which got to #6). The album sold okay getting to #35. It was a good comeback, but like many it was short-lived. This song would be their last to reach the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  This is a tune I'd forgotten about. Probably because it wasn't that memorable to begin with, but at least I did recognize it once it started to play. This certainly isn't the Kansas of "Carry on My Wayward Son" or even "Play the Game Tonight." It was a definite stab at getting a Pop chart hit a la Survivor. They accomplished the task since it made the Top 20, but in doing so they lost some of their core audience who loved the band's prog rock Leftoverture days. I was never really a big fan of the band to begin with but their earlier work was certainly more interesting than this slick radio pandering track.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While Steve Walsh was away from Kansas, he didn't remain idle. He formed a new band called Streets. While they didn't catch on in a big way like Kansas, they did get some attention. Their debut album, appropriately title 1st, spawned the single "If Love Should Go" (#7 Rock/#87 Pop). The band recorded a second album, but then broke up after its lackluster performance. Kansas had split a year or so earlier, so with Walsh looking for a new project, that is when he thought a Kansas revival would be a good idea.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

"Someday" by Glass Tiger

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2917
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  82
Peak:  7
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  This Canadian outfit did well at home and in the US with their first single "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)." The track would hit #1 in Canada while reaching #2 in the US (#17 Rock/#30 AC). For a follow-up, this mellower mid-tempo track was selected. This time around it did better in the US than Canada. The song made the US Pop Top 10 while getting to #14 at home. The song was also a hit on the US AC chart reaching #4. The double hits would help the album reach gold-level sales in the US (500,000+ copies) while going quad-platinum in Canada (400,000+ copies).

ReduxReview:  "Don't Forget Me" got people's attention, but I actually preferred this tune a bit better. It's a nicely written tune with a pretty melody and memorable chorus. The 80s production doesn't overwhelm the song either. I've always found it akin to Starship's hit "Sara." It's not quite as good as that track, but it is still a well done song and deserved its Top 10 placement.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Glass Tiger's "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" would win the Juno for Single of the Year in 1986. Due to when it was released as a single, "Someday" became eligible for the 1987 Juno Awards. It was not only nominated for Single of the Year, but it won. While it wasn't the first time an artist won back-to-back awards for Single of the Year (Anne Murray did it first in '80 and '81), it was the first time an artist won twice in a row with two singles from the same album. They remained the only artist to do that until Alanis Morissette did it in '96 and '97 with two songs from her mega-hit album Jagged Little Pill. Only one artist has accomplished that feat at the Grammy Awards in the Record of the Year category. U2 won in 2001 and 2002 with two tracks from their album All That You Can't Leave Behind.