Monday, October 15, 2018

"The Heart Is Not So Smart" by El DeBarge with DeBarge

Song#:  2558
Date:  12/07/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  75
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Pop

Pop Bits:  The DeBarge siblings were at the peak of their career with their fourth album Rhythm of the Night. With two Pop/R&B Top 10's and an additional R&B Top 10, the LP would easily turn gold. They went for a fourth hit with this track, but it didn't perform very well. It only managed to reach #29 at R&B while staying in the lower quarter of the Pop chart. It did a little better at AC getting to #17. However, despite the success the family was splintering with members have issues with drugs and El DeBarge garnering more of the spotlight and support from the label. Even their previous single and this fourth one from the album would be credited mainly to El with the rest of the family tagged as a supporting group. After the tours and promotions of the album were done, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that El would step out on his own. Although El's departure wouldn't formally kill the group, it did end their Pop charting days.

ReduxReview:  This Diane Warren-penned track was a nice add to the album with it's near-Caribbean feel, but it didn't really make a good single. It just wasn't strong enough to break through on a larger crossover scale. I think the label figured a fourth single was needed because the previous single, "You Wear It Well," got to #7 at R&B and #1 Dance, but it really wasn't necessary. They should have just called it a day at three, especially when they knew El was headed out as a solo artist.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Around this time, both El and his sister Bunny were offered solo deals. El would have good luck with his debut solo album, but things cooled off after that. He would later develop a drug addiction and have to go through rehab. In 2010, he returned to music with the album Second Chance. It would be well-received and he would earn three Grammy nominations for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Album. Bunny would issue one solo album that failed to produce any charting songs. She would be dropped from the label and then later be forced to deal with her drug addiction. Besides a few minor projects, she has basically remained out of the music business. After El and Bunny departed, the remaining three brothers regrouped with another brother, Bobby, who already had success with the R&B band Switch. They released an album in 1987 that contained two minor R&B singles, but it seemed that very few people were interested in a DeBarge without El. Although he was not part of DeBarge, younger brother Chico pursued a solo and had some success gathering ten charting R&B singles including one Top 10. Like his siblings, he would struggle with drugs as well.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

"Caravan of Love" Isley Jasper Isley

Song#:  2557
Date:  12/07/1985
Debut:  96
Peak:  51
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This family trio formed when they splintered off from the Isley Brothers. Their debut album sparked a couple of minor charting singles including "Kiss and Tell," which crossed over to the Pop chart (#52 R&B/#63 Pop). However, it would be this title track from their second album that would give them a long-lasting hit. The track was the first lifted off of the Caravan of Love album and it would be an instant hit reaching #1 at R&B and staying there for three weeks. The song would cross over to Pop and be their best (and last) effort on that chart nearly getting inside the Top 50. It would do better at AC where the track got to #16. The trio would score another Top 20 single from the album and then grab two more Top 20's from their third LP Different Drummer. After that, the members parted ways. The two Isley brothers would reunite with their siblings early in the 90s while Chris Jasper would set out on a solo career. He would end up getting one R&B Top 10 in 1988 with "Superbad."

ReduxReview:  I know I heard this way back when but couldn't remember it. When I started playing it, I thought "this sounds really familiar." Then it hit me. This song sounds an awful lot like Gregory Abbott's 1986 hit "Shake You Down." Since this tune came out first and was a major hit, I'm guessing Abbott really liked it! Yet unlike Abbott's single, this one couldn't quite made it at Pop, which is too bad. It's a lovely tune with a nice message.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  "Caravan of Love" would be the trio's signature tune and it would be covered by many artists over the years. Perhaps the most well-known cover was done in 1986 when the UK band The Housemartins recorded a version. Known for their jangle-pop style of music, the band would occasionally perform songs a cappella in their concert shows. This Isley Jasper Isley tune was one that they did in that fashion. Folks seemed to love it so they recorded it and issued the song out as a one-off single sandwiched between their first two albums. It ended up being their biggest hit reaching #1 on the UK chart and hitting the Top 10 in several other countries (it did not chart in the US). The band would break up following their second album. Two member would then go on to form the highly successful band The Beautiful South. That band would end up with six UK Top 10's including one #1.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

"Don't Say No Tonight" by Eugene Wilde

Song#:  2556
Date:  12/07/1985
Debut:  97
Peak:  76
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Wilde scored a #1 R&B hit (#83 Pop) with "Gotta Get You Home Tonight," the first single from his 1984 self-titled debut album. With his name established on the charts, Wilde then quickly set out to record a follow-up. In less than a year's time, he was able to get his next LP, Serenade, out the door. This track was selected to be the first single and once again, it was able to reach the top of the R&B chart. Crossover success still eluded him and it only did slightly better than "Gotta Get" on the Pop chart. Although it would be his last single to reach the Pop chart, he had further success at R&B grabbing another Top 10 and five other middling entries. As with his debut album, Serenade would be a Top 20 entry on the R&B Album chart. Wilde would move to MCA Records for two albums, but neither did very well and that brought an end to his major label days.

ReduxReview:  Usually if an artist repeats themselves, the results are not as good. However, Wilde was able to grab a second R&B #1 with a song that was very similar to his first one. Both songs start exactly the same with a wind chime glissando followed by a smooth groove. The tunes also build in the same manner to a third act climax. The songs even share the word "tonight" in their titles! It's like this tune is part two of "Gotta Get." Basically, it sounds like Wilde ripped off Wilde. Oddly, this track isn't a lesser tune and is just as good as the first one. I guess the repeat performance didn't bother listeners.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Wilde would later co-write a few songs that would get picked up by other artists. Sheena Easton would record one of his songs for her 1987 album No Sound But a Heart. He would also co-write the track "Dear Diary," which appeared on Britney Spears' 2000 LP Oops!...I Did It Again. His best effort as a songwriter came in 1995 when his co-write "I'll Never Break Your Heart" would be issued out as the Backstreet Boys' second single. That song would reach #1 at AC and #35 Pop.


Friday, October 12, 2018

"I'm Your Man" by Wham!

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2555
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  55
Peak:  3
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Wham's 1984 album Make It Big certainly did that. Boasting four Top 3 hits including three #1's, the multi-platinum LP made stars of the duo. To keep their streak of hits going, this new song was recorded and issued out as a single. It was met with open arms and the track soon became Wham's fifth Top 3 single in a row. It also got to #13 AC, #42 Dance, and #55 R&B. It would be their fourth #1 in their UK homeland.

ReduxReview:  I liked Wham, but by this point I was tiring of their pseudo-Motown tunes. It all seems just a bit too cutesy to me when this one came out. Yes, it was on-brand for them and resulted in another Top 10, but in the long run, this ended up being one of their lesser hits. I basically shrugged my shoulders at it and hoped that they would come up with something different the next time around. Who knew at the time that in just under two years, Wham would be a thing of the past and George Michael would be ridin' high with the vastly superior Faith.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In addition to working with Wham, George Michael lent his talents out to other artists as well. He was featured on the Elton John hits "Wrap Her Up" while providing background vocals on John's "Nikita" as well. He'd later team up with Aretha Franklin for the big 1987 hit "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." One artist he helped out was making a bid for a comeback. Former teen idol David Cassidy hadn't had a significant hit since the mid-70s. Nine years after his last album, Cassidy got signed to Arista Records and recorded his 1985 album Romance, which would be for the European market. Michael, who had cited Cassidy as an early influence, helped out by providing the backing vocals for the track "The Last Kiss." The song was issued out as a single and it did well in various countries including the UK where it peaked at #6. The tune was actually a remake of a song originally done by Cliff Richard in 1981 for his album Wired for Sound. Richard's version was titled "Young Love" and was a more upbeat track. Cassidy's version was a ballad that featured lyric changes.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" by Billy Ocean

Song#:  2554
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  63
Peak:  2
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Ocean's fifth album, Suddenly, finally broke him through to the masses. It would spawn one #1 hit, two other Top 10's and a Top 25 entry. As Ocean began to work on a follow-up, he was offered the chance to contribute a theme song to the upcoming Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner adventure flick Jewel of the Nile. Ocean would co-write this song that would play over the film's closing credits. The track was issued out as a single and it bounded up to the #2 spot at Pop while also getting to #2 at AC, #6 R&B, and #31 Dance. Although Ocean's next LP, Love Zone, would not be released until April, this song was included on that album and considered its first single in addition to appearing on the film's soundtrack LP, which would hit #55.

ReduxReview:  This synth shuffle fit the film well and the movie's success most likely helped the song move up the chart. It also helped that it was quite catchy. I thought it was a pleasant, well-written tune and a good radio hit, but that was about it. I didn't love it, yet I didn't dislike it. I still feel that way. I'll jam along if it happens to play, but I have no urge to seek it out and hear it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Jewel of the Nile was a sequel to the hit 1984 film Romancing the Stone. That rom-com adventure movie was initially derided as a rip-off of Raider of the Lost Ark, but critics ended up liking the film and it eventually won over audiences and became a surprise box office hit. Jewel of the Nile didn't impress critics, but it became an even bigger hit than Romancing. Although a third film was discussed, it never got off the ground.  2) The video for this song ended up getting banned in the UK, but for an unusual reason. In the video, the film's stars, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito, all appear and lip sync parts of the song. Back then, the UK had a rule regarding videos and who performed in them. If anyone in the video played/mimed an instrument or even appeared to sing, that person had to be a member of the musicians union. Otherwise, the video could not be aired. Actors could certainly act in videos, but anyone not in the union could not even pretend to play or sing. Since the three actors were not union musicians, the video was basically banned in the UK. Despite that, the song was strong enough to reach #1 in the UK without the aid of a video. It was Ocean's first and only #1 there.  3) The Irish boy band Boyzone remade this song in 1999. It would be their fifth #1 in the UK. From 1994 to 2010, the group scored nineteen UK Top 10 hits that included six #1's. They were hugely successful in many countries, but success in the US eluded them. Their only charting single came in 1998 when "No Matter What" got to #12 on the AC chart. That song was written for the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Jim Steinman musical Whistle Down the Wind. The Boyzone version appeared on the musical's concept album in 1998. In the US, it was included on the soundtrack to the film Notting Hill, the 1999 hit com-com starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.