Monday, November 12, 2018

"Another Night" by Aretha Franklin

Song#:  2586
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  74
Peak:  22
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Franklin's mid-80s comeback continued with this fourth single from her hit album Who's Zoomin' Who? Although it wouldn't reach the Top 20 like her previous three singles (two of those went Top 10), it still did well and nearly made that goal. It did better at R&B (#9) and Dance (#4). It also came close to the AC Top 20 making it to #21. The hits all helped to make the album Franklin's first to reach platinum sales.

ReduxReview:  While this tune was not as memorable or hooky as the classic "Freeway of Love" or the title track, it was still a solid track that made for a good single. It should have gotten into the Top 20, especially after doing well at R&B and Dance. My favorite part of the song is the breakdown where Aretha just shouts out "my man, I don't need you to be bringin' me down - HEY!" As usual, Aretha sings it with the punch and flare that only she can deliver. This song has gotten set aside over the years in favor of the other hits, which is a bummer as it deserves a bit more attention.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Beppe Cantarelli and Roy Freeland. Cantarelli was an Italian singer/songwriter/producer who had a bit of success as a solo act, but fared better behind the scenes. He hit it big as a songwriter in 1979 when several of his co-writes were picked up by Italian pop superstar Mina for her album Attila. Mina would record a few more of his songs on her next two albums. An opportunity to play guitar for Quincy Jones led to Cantarelli moving to Los Angeles. He continued to write songs and it wasn't too long before a few of them were being picked up by American artists like Franklin, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Tyler, and Laura Branigan. One of this tunes, "I Still Believe," got recorded by Brenda K. Starr in 1988. It was issued as a single and got to #13 Pop/#14 AC. The song was later covered by Mariah Carey in 1999 as a new track for her first hits compilation #1's. Although the song didn't reach #1 at Pop, it did well getting to #4. It also got to #3 R&B and #8 AC. A dance remix of the tune was created and it did end up hitting #1 on the Dance chart.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

"(How to Be A) Millionaire" by ABC

Song#:  2585
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  20
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  The band's third album, How to Be a...Zillionaire!, netted them their first US Top 10 hit with the #9 "Be Near Me." This near-title track was then selected to be that single's follow-up. While it wouldn't get them back in the Top 10, it still did fairly well reaching the Pop Top 20 and making it to #4 on the Dance chart. The album would then make it to #30 and sell many more copies than their previous album, 1983's more rock-oriented Beauty Stab. It would fail to reach the gold-level sales, but it certainly put the band back in the spotlight.

ReduxReview:  This track kicked up the tempo from "Be Near Me" and it worked rather well as a follow-up. It expanded the band's smooth blue-eyed soul sound into something a bit more crunchy via a big 80s synthpop production. While it would not be one of their most memorable chart hits, its Top 20 placement was warranted. It was a great track that sounded good on the radio and it's animated MTV video was pretty cool.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While ABC was having some of their best success in the US, the band's lead singer/songwriter was fighting a major battle that kept the band from touring. Martin Fry was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a type of lymphatic cancer, around the time the album was released. He had to undergo radiation treatments and chemotherapy along with having his spleen removed. Due to all of this, the band had to turn down an offer to tour the US with Tina Turner, an opportunity that would have certainly capitalized on their first US Top 10 hit. Fry decided to put up a major fight against the disease and he did beat the cancer.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

"Night Moves" by Marilyn Martin

Song#:  2584
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  82
Peak:  28
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Singer Martin had been getting some good gigs doing background vocals for the likes of Stevie Nicks and was even able to record one of Nicks' songs, "Sorcerer," for the soundtrack to the cult film Streets of Fire. Atlantic Records took an interest in her and first teamed her up with Phil Collins for the duet "Separate Lives." The song would be a #1 hit that put a spotlight on Martin. Atlantic signed her up and work began on a debut album. Several big named producers, writers, and musicians would contribute to the LP including recent hitmaker John Parr ("St. Elmo's Fire"). Parr along with Jon Astley and Martin would co-write this track that would serve as the album's first single. The more rock oriented song was certainly different from the pop balladry of "Separate Lives" and it may have thrown listeners for a loop as the song could only make a Top 30 showing. It did a little better at Rock getting to #18. Two follow-up singles failed to chart at Pop, but the song "Move Closer" did become a minor entry at AC reaching #34. Martin then softened up her sound for the 1988 follow-up album This Is Serious, but no one paid attention and the album quick disappeared along with Martin's contract. Atlantic took a chance on her again later in 1994 with a country album titled Through His Eyes, but it ended up shelved. Martin stayed in the music business for a long while providing background vocals for other artists including Stevie Nicks, with whom she toured in 2016. She also became a real estate agent and has been living in Nashville. In 2012, she released an indie Christian album titled "Trust, Pray, Love."

ReduxReview:  I really liked this moody, dark track when it came out. The opening with that bass piano riff is very cool and when the song cranks up it sounds damn good. Plus Martin's vocals were spot-on and intense. I've always been disappointed that the song didn't do better. It really should have. I can only guess that the dark rock track just wasn't the right fit for Pop radio and that folks who knew Martin from "Separate Lives" were disappointed in her musical direction. I do think it was a risk to issue this song out as a first single from Martin. She really needed a hooky pop single that could retain all those Phil Collins fans. I still think it's a pretty great tune and I've always appreciated Astley's production work.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Despite getting some positive reviews, the edgier pop/rock of Martin's debut LP just didn't click with listeners. So for her second effort, Martin chose to be more trendy and move towards a softer dance-pop direction. When looking for a producer to help her out, Martin ended up meeting Patrick Leonard who in the midst of working on Madonna's fourth album Like a Prayer. Leonard invited Martin to a session and Martin ended up singing background vocals on the soon-to-be hit "Cherish." Leonard then approached Madonna to write a song for Martin's new album. Madonna agreed and along with Leonard and Kai Winding wrote "Possessive Love." The song would be issued out as the first single from Martin's This Is Serious album. Oddly, despite Madonna's involvement, the track was virtually ignored and it failed to chart. That result made the album tank and ended Martin's days in the spotlight.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

"This Could Be the Night" by Loverboy

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2583
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Canadian band finally got their first US Top 10 hit with the title track from their fourth album Lovin' Every Minute of It. However, the momentum gained by that hit was nearly lost when the LP's second single, "Dangerous," could only manage to reach #65. They needed something to turn the tides and this third single would end up doing the trick. Not only did it eclipse the results of the previous single, it exceeded expectations and became Loverboy's second US Top 10. It would also get to #9 at Rock and #30 AC. The two hits sent the album to #13 and over time it would be a double-platinum seller, which was their fourth multi-platinum album in a row. Unfortunately, this song would be their last to reach the Top 10 and the album would be their last to sell in the millions. Oddly, this album was not as well-received on their home turf. It would only reach #22 on the chart and would fail to generate a Top 10 hit. This particular song would only reach #44 on the Canadian chart.

ReduxReview:  This radio-ready power ballad was something very different for the band. They were known for their arena rock anthems and over the course of their first three albums they had recorded a grand total of one ballad. So not only recording, but releasing this track as a single signaled that the band might be adjusting their sound to become more mainstream. For fans of their earlier, harder rocking songs, this stab at commercial pop/rock didn't sit so well. Yet the hit brought on new fans and kept sales solid. I liked the track. It had the same quality/appeal as the major hit ballads by the likes of Foreigner and Journey (which was not surprising due to the song's co-writer - see below). While it may have been somewhat of a calculated attempt to secure a crossover hit, the tune turned out well and I think the band does a good job with it despite the fact that it was nothing like what Loverboy had been peddling since their 1980 debut.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by band members Mike Reno and Paul Dean along with Bill Wray and a guy who knows something about writing rock hits - Journey's Jonathan Cain. In addition to writing songs for his three bands The Babys, Journey, and Bad English, Cain also penned songs for other artists. He co-wrote most of the songs on his wife TanĂ© Cain's debut album including the Pop Top 40 entry "Holdin' On." He wrote the song "Allies," a song recorded by Heart that was a minor charting single in 1983. He also had songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Lacy J. .Dalton, Michael Bolton, Cher, John Waite and others. Discounting the songs/hits he wrote for his bands, it seems that this Loverboy track may be his best charting effort as a contributing songwriter.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

"What You Need" by INXS

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2582
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  5
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Australia's INXS slowly grew their worldwide audience over the course of four albums. Their last album, The Swing, hit #1 in their home country, so it became critical that their fifth album equal or better that feat. They were also hoping to grow their international fan base. In the US and Europe, their new album Listen Like Thieves was introduced by the first single "This Time." It failed to make an impact reaching #81 in the US and #79 in the UK. On the verge of losing the audience they spent the past few years gaining, the band then issued out this next single which had already been a #2 hit in Australia. Its low debut on the Pop chart didn't bode well, but as weeks passed, the song began to break and soon it would become the band's first US Top 10 hit. It would also reach #3 at Rock. The single boosted sales of the album, which ended up peaking at #11. Over time it would end up selling over two million copies. Now that they had broken through in a much bigger way, the pressure would be on to deliver something even better.

ReduxReview:  This song just totally smacked up the radio when it started to get airplay. That blues-rock groove and guitar licks sounded so cool, the drums were crisp and snappy, and the sax was da bomb, especially on the build ups to the second verse and final outro. The tune was brilliantly arranged and produced. It sounded so damn good when cranked to eleven. This song was the spark that really lit a fire under the band. Once they got a taste for hit-dom, they weren't gonna look back.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  After the album was essentially recorded, producer Chris Thomas wasn't convinced that there was a surefire hit among the tracks and requested that the band try to come up with one. With very little time available to write a brand new song from scratch, band members Andrew Fariss and Michael Hutchence went through some of the demo/idea tapes they recorded while working on the album and came across a groovy track that was titled "Funk Song No. 13." Thomas loved it and though it could be the basis for something great. Fariss and Hutchence got to work on it and a day later had "What You Need." They quickly got it recorded and added to the album. That last ditch effort resulted in their first US Top 10. Thirteen was certainly lucky for them!

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