Sunday, July 21, 2019

"Sweet Love" by Anita Baker

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2836
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  74
Peak:  8
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Quiet Storm



Pop Bits:  Baker began singing in clubs around Detroit when she was in her teens. It was at one of her gigs that she was offered the chance to audition for the lead singing slot in a band. She got the job and fronted the funk band Chapter 8. They got signed to Ariola Records and issued a debut album in 1979. Soon after, Ariola was purchased by Arista and that led to the group being dropped by the new label. After a couple of years of doing menial day jobs, Baker was given the opportunity to start a solo career. She was signed to the Beverly Glen label by its owner, Otis Smith, whom she had known from her days with Chapter 8. By 1983, her debut solo album, The Songstress, was ready. It was a moderately successful album that yielded the #5 R&B hit "Angel." Unfortunately, issues with the Smith and Beverly Glen tied up her career and after a successful lawsuit to separate from the label, she was free to sign with Elektra Records. Finally after a three-year gap, Baker was able to record her second album, Rapture. It didn't get off to a good start as the first single, "Watch Your Step," stalled at #23 on the R&B chart. The label then issued "Sweet Love" as the follow-up. It was the exact right choice to release. The song took off and got to #2 R&B and #3 AC while becoming her first entry and first Top 10 hit at Pop. Seemingly overnight, Anita Baker had become a star. The album and single would yield Baker two Grammys - one for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for the album, and one for Best R&B Song for "Sweet Love" (Baker co-wrote the tune with Louis A. Johnson and Gary Bias). Rapture would go on to sell over five million copies.

ReduxReview:  Hindsight is 20/20 and now it seems obvious that this should have been the LP's lead single. It was a smart and sophisticated track that had mainstream appeal with its groove and modern production. Baker's unique tone and delivery also helped make the song a standout. Baker wasn't a powerhouse R&B vocalist like Patti LaBelle and that was a good thing. Her smooth, jazzy voice was perfect to sell this tune and it was like nothing that was on the radio at the time. It still sounds great and I think the production style helped it transcend the decades. It still sounds fresh to me. Baker couldn't have asked for a better song to finally kick her career into high gear.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Prior to her singles from Rapture, Baker had reached the R&B chart eight times. Her first three appearances were with Chapter 8. Their best effort was 1979's #38 entry "Ready for Your Love." Then five tracks from Baker's solo effort The Songstress managed to reach the R&B chart. As mentioned above, "Angel" would do the best at #5. "You're the Best Thing" would get to #28 while the balance of the songs would peak below the Top 40 mark.

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

"I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" by Robert Palmer

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2835
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  79
Peak:  2
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Synthpop, Electro-Funk



Pop Bits:  As far as hit singles go, Palmer's album Riptide was one-for-three. The song "Addicted to Love," was a #1 smash while the other two released tracks faltered including the LP's third single "Hyperactive," which stalled at a lackluster #33. Despite that result, the record label charged ahead and decided to release this fourth single. It ended up being a smart move. The tune started out a bit slow on the chart, but it picked up steam thanks to its popular MTV video that was similar in style to the one done for "Addicted to Love." The song would just miss out on the top spot at had to settle for a #2 showing at Pop. It would also get to #26 Dance and #41 Rock. The second hit sparked further sales of the album, which would eventually go double platinum.

ReduxReview:  Finally, the record company gets it right and releases this song. As I've mentioned before, I think they all got lucky as normally the two singles that failed would have been enough to sink the album, but this one and "Addicted" were strong enough to overcome the bumps in the road. I've always loved this track. The sputtering, percolating synth lines and the bass really drove this tune with Palmer's very chilly reading stitching it all together. It's dark and cool, yet groovy enough to make ya move. It was certainly different from the Minneapolis/Prince sound of Cherrelle's original (see below).  I like both versions, but for me this one with its calculated, mechanical funkiness really drew me in. It was also the perfect song for Palmer to continue the video concept first seen in "Addicted."

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by R&B singer Cherrelle. Her version was a Top 10 hit at R&B (#8) and Dance (#6), but it failed to catch on as well at Pop stalling at a low #79. The song was written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis with the duo producing Cherrelle's record. Chic's Bernard Edwards handled production on Palmer's version. In 2001, Mariah Carey covered the song for the soundtrack to her film Glitter. Jam & Lewis produced the song, but instead of creating a new recording from scratch, they utilized the backing track that they originally created for Cherrelle and then had Carey sing over it. I guess you could say it was like a recorded karaoke version. It was not issued as a single.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

"It's You" by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Song#:  2834
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  52
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  By this point, Seger had scored two Top 15 hits from his album Like a Rock, including the #12 title track. Both songs would also reach the Top 10 at Rock and this third single would follow suit. It would get to #8 on the Rock chart. It would also get to #22 at AC. Unfortunately, it didn't draw the same audience at Pop that the other singles attracted and it stalled just shy of the halfway point on the chart. The album was still lodged in the Top 20 as this single debuted on its way to selling over three million copies.

ReduxReview:  This relaxed track was a good follow-up and I thought it would at least get inside the Top 40, but after two powerful singles, this one was just a bit too subtle to break through the same way at Pop. It was an easy-going track that had a nice heartland rock feel to it. The tune may not be among Seger's most memorable, but it was a good choice for a third single and could have done a bit better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Seger was born in Detroit, but was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he graduated from Ann Arbor High School (now known as Ann Arbor Pioneer). He was sixteen and still in school when he fronted his first band, The Decibels. They formed in 1961 and played a few shows around the area. While with the band, Seger wrote his first song titled "The Lonely One." The band took that song into a studio and made an acetate demo of it along with two other songs - one called "Jackie the Thief," a tune Seger wrote with Decibel member Pete Stranger, and a third tune titled "Mash Potatoes" (according to an image found of the acetate). Legend has it that the band got an Ann Arbor radio station to play "The Lonely One." The station spun it once and that was it. The Decibels didn't last long and Seger moved on to his next band, The Town Criers.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

"The Other Side of Life" by The Moody Blues

Song#:  2833
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  58
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  The Moodies returned to the Pop Top 10 after fourteen years with "Your Wildest Dreams" (#9), the first single from their twelfth studio album The Other Side of Life. It was also a major hit at AC reaching the #1 spot. For a follow-up, this title track was issued out as a single. It would do well at Rock getting to #11 while making it to #18 at AC. However, it couldn't do as well at Pop and the song fizzled before reaching the halfway point. Still, the strength of the first single was enough to push the album to #9 and it would go on to become a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo shuffle wasn't too bad of a choice for a follow-up. Rock and AC were on board with it, but I don't think it was the right tune for Pop. One thing that helped "Your Wildest Dreams" was its sentimental video. The one for this song certainly wasn't in the same league. It was a bizarre concept thing about a guy finding some kind of odd underworld where everyone starts to look like him. It was weird. The main thing I remember is Moody member Ray Thomas in some kind of cop S&M outfit bangin' a tambourine. The video certainly didn't help sell the song. It's a good tune, but one that just wasn't a fit for Pop radio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  While The Other Side of Life would end up being The Moodies' final studio album to be certified either gold or platinum, three future non-studio releases would reach gold level sales. Two compilations, 1990's The Story of the Moody Blues - Legend of a Band and the 1994 box set Time Traveller would both go gold. Neither collection hit the Album chart, but the enduring legacy of the band allowed for sales to continue years after the sets were originally release. A concert album, 1993's A Night at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra would get to #93 on initial release, but like the compilation albums it continued to sell and was eventually certified gold. As associated VHS tape of the performance would also reach gold level sales.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

"Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2832
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Money's 1983 album Where's the Party? was a commercial disappointment. The LP's singles didn't get very far and that left the album peaking at a low #67 and failing to reach gold level sales. His career needed a reboot and after a three-year absence, Money returned with Can't Hold Back. On board to co-produce with Money was Richie Zito. The goal was to get Money back on the charts and Zito brought along demos of some radio friendly fare, which included this first single. It took a while for the song to catch on, but once it did it made a beeline to the top of the Rock chart. Success at Pop wasn't far behind and the single would become his biggest hit getting into the Top 5. It was a welcome and much needed comeback for Money and the hit helped his album reach #20 and go platinum. The song also earned Money a Grammy nod for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male.

ReduxReview:  This tune had hit written all over it. I don't know what the demo sounded like, but apparently Money wasn't a fan of the tune after hearing it, but decided to record it anyway. It's a good thing he did. It was a solid vehicle for his style of rock. The tune opens on an immediately memorable keyboard/guitar riff and it just keeps getting better after that. The inclusion of "Be My Baby" was inspired and Zito's production was excellent. The thing is hooky as hell and deserved to be a big hit. It still sounds damn good.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song also featured the vocals of Ronnie Spector. Spector was the lead singer of the famous girl group The Ronettes. Under the guidance of producer Phil Spector, whom Ronnie would marry in 1968, The Ronettes had several charting songs including their biggest hit, 1963's #2 "Be My Baby." Ronnie Spector maintained a career for a while after The Ronettes broke up and after her tumultuous marriage to Phil Spector ended, but by the mid-80's she had basically retired from the business. When Richie Zito brought the song to Eddie Money and he heard the interpolation of "Be My Baby" within the tune, Money's first though was to get Spector to sing the part. He was advised by folks that Spector was retired and she'd never do it. In the meantime, Money and Zito brought in The Motels lead singer Martha Davis to record the part. Apparently, Davis thought Money should seek out Spector as well and get her to do it. Money finally reached Spector and eventually lured her into the studio. As the song shaped up to be a hit, interest in Spector increased. Columbia Records offered her a contract and she recorded what would be her second solo LP in 1987 titled Unfinished Business. Despite some positive notices, neither the album nor any of its singles charted. She would then release a memoir in 1990 and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Ronettes in 2007.

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