Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"Victory Line" by Limited Warranty

Song#:  2775
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  79
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This Minneapolis band started to form in 1979. Fleshed out to a five-man group, they began to work the club scene developing their performing and songwriting skills. They ended up auditioning for the hit TV talent show Star Search and landed a spot in the show's third season competing in the Vocal Group category. They made it to the finals in 1985 and ended up winning the $100,000 prize. The money helped them record an indie single of a song they wrote titled "This Is Serious." It got some airplay in the Midwest and that plus their Star Search win got them signed to ATCO Records. The label sent them to England to record their self-titled debut album with producer/engineer Brian Tench and this first single got issued out. While winning Star Search certainly helped get them a record deal, it didn't necessarily translate to record sales. The single could only manage a couple of months at the bottom of the Pop chart while the album slipped away to little notice.

ReduxReview:  These guys had a bit of Euro new wave to their sound. There's shades of Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Go West, and even a little a-ha in the mix. It kind of makes sense since their single "This Is Serious" was produced by former Psychedelic Furs drummer Vince Ely and a chunk of their debut album was recorded in England. It's too bad this song didn't do better. It's got a good chorus and nice production. I also like Dale Goulett's voice. It doesn't necessarily scream Top 10, but it was a solid effort from a newbie band. They had a knack at writing hooky tunes too. The album has several nice cuts. These guys had the goods. It's just too bad it didn't fully gel for them.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although their debut album didn't do well, ATCO wanted to give it another shot and the band prepared to record a second LP. However, the label seemed to lose interest before anything was recorded and the band was dropped. They were able to sign a deal with EMI America, which soon became EMI Manhattan after a merger. New management entered the picture and after hearing a few demos the band did for a new album, the label decided to not move forward and dumped the band. After that, the band just slowly dissolved with members going on to other projects and careers.  2) The group that Limited Warranty beat at the Star Search finals was a female vocal trio called Jailbait. The trio consisted of sisters Yassmin and Karmine Alers and Kim Harlan. They did well on the show, but after their loss the rumor mill started spinning and some opined that the shows producers weren't fond of the trio's name and somehow pushed to give the tamer-named Limited Warranty the win. While it made for a good rumor, it just didn't make sense because when the trio was selected for the show, the producers could have easily told them to change their name if they wanted to be on the show. That obviously didn't happen, so any shenanigans seem unlikely. Jailbait did record a single for Atlantic called "Be the One," but is seems nothing came from it. Yassmin Alers would later find work as an actor and would appear in Broadway shows. Karmine Alers also found some acting work that included Broadway and touring shows. Karmine would try for a music career again as a member of another vocal trio called 3rd Party. They recorded a debut album in 1997 titled Alive. It spawned two chart entries - "Can U Feel It" (#43 Pop/#42 Dance) and a remake of Gary Wright's "Love Is Alive" (#61 Pop/#19 Dance). The lead singer of the trio was Maria Christensen, a songwriter who had released a solo album in 1993 to little notice. She co-wrote four songs for the album including the track "Waiting for Tonight." That song got picked up by Jennifer Lopez in 1999. It was on her debut LP On the 6 and was the album's second single. It reached #8 Pop/#1 Dance.


Monday, May 20, 2019

"The Captain of Her Heart" by Double

.Song#:  2774
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  16
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This Swiss duo was made up of Kurt Maloo and Felix Haug. They were previously in a trio called Ping Pong that had a some minor success with an album in 1982. The pair then took off on their own and formed Double. They released three singles and a 1983 EP before recording their full-length debut LP, Blue. This track would be the first single released from the album and it started to make waves in Europe reaching the Top 10 in several countries. The duo's album got picked up by A&M for US release along with this single. It was a slow starter debuting low on the Pop chart, but it eventually made its way into the Top 20. It would do very well at AC reaching #4. A second single, "Woman of the World," got to #37 at AC, but failed to make the Pop chart. The album did surprisingly well getting to #30. Unfortunately, further singles failed to do anything and their follow-up album Dou3le sank without a trace. The duo attempted a third album, but decided to go their separate ways. They reunited a couple of times and tried to record some new tracks, but nothing really got off the ground. Haug would die of a heart attack in 2004.

ReduxReview:  This is one sweet, soft rockin' jam. It's so easy, relaxing, and even sensual. The tune really set a mood. I love the dreamy piano lines and the sax. Maloo's vocals are soothing as well. A song like this was a bit unusual to hear on the radio, which made it stand out. It was also a great song to have on when cruising around the countryside on a hot summer night with the windows down. Easy, breezy, beautiful.  (Cover Girl!)

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Apparently, Double was the first Swiss act to reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Pop chart.  2) The duo's name is not pronounced the same as we would say it in English. With German as the majority language in Switzerland followed by French and Italian, they decided to give it a bit of European flair and the band name is pronounced doo-BLAY.  It basically rhymes with the last name of superstar singer Michael BublĂ©.  3) If you watch the US version of the video for this song, you might be able to spot a future star. A 15-year-old Denise Richards can be seen in the video. She sports cropped blonde hair and looks like a punk rocker. Richards started working in films and on TV shows in the early 90s. Her biggest break came when she co-starred in the 1997 sci-fi film Starship Troopers. In 2008, she would have her own reality show, Denise Richards: It's Complicated, that ran for two seasons. Her tumultuous marriage to Charlie Sheen (2002-2006) provided a lot of fodder for the tabloids.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

"This Is the Time" by Dennis DeYoung

Song#:  2773
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  93
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  DeYoung's second solo album, Back to the World, got off to a slow start when its first single, "Call Me," stalled at a low #54. It would do much better at AC getting to #5, but that didn't do much to boost album sales. Next up was this single that would serve double duty. It would be both the second single from DeYoung's album while also being the second single from the soundtrack to The Karate Kid Part II. The film would be a hit and its signature song, Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love," would be a big #1, but neither of them helped out DeYoung's single. It stopped at #32 on the AC chart while spending a very minor three weeks at the bottom of the Pop chart. Consequently, DeYoung's album tanked at #108. This single would be DeYoung's last solo effort to reach the Pop chart. He would switch labels from A&M, where he'd been with Styx since 1975, to MCA for 1989's Boomchild, but the album and its singles failed to chart and DeYoung found himself without a label. He would try his hand at Broadway tunes for 1994's 10 on Broadway, which generated the #36 AC track "On the Street Where You Live."

ReduxReview:  This is just pure DeYoung. It wasn't necessarily the most chart-worthy tune he'd ever written, but nearly all of his songwriting go-tos were present. Sweet melodies and chord changes, keyboard arpeggios, sections that charge forward, and a big arms-open freeing ending to the chorus. I do like the song. It was a highlight from a dull album. However, it just wasn't strong enough to make an impression as a single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although DeYoung's solo days on the Pop chart ended here, it wouldn't be his last time on the Pop chart. After the failure of his album Boomchild, DeYoung reunited in 1990 with his former band Styx (minus Tommy Shaw who had commitments with his other band Damn Yankees). They recorded the album Edge of the Century. It's first single, "Love Is a Ritual," only got to #80 at Pop (#9 Rock), but the second single, "Show Me the Way," became an unexpected hit reaching #3 at Pop and AC. Released just prior to the Gulf War, the sentiment of the song fit the time period and it quickly became associated with the war. The hit made Styx one of the few bands to have Top 10 hits in three consecutive decades (70s, 80s, 90s). A follow-up song, "Love at First Sight," got to #25 Pop/#13 AC. Then as quickly as they reformed, Styx split up again due to their label (A&M) being purchased and the new label dropping them. They reformed again in 1995, this time with Shaw on board, and toured. A concert LP, Return to Paradise, would be a surprise seller that reached gold status. A new studio album, Brave New World, would follow in 1999, but it fell flat. Old tensions rose again in the band and once more they split. Shaw would continue with the band over the years, but the bad blood would keep DeYoung from reuniting with them.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

"I Wouldn't Lie" by Yarbrough & Peoples

Song#:  2772
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  93
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This duo was last on the charts in '84. They nearly cracked the Pop Top 40 for a second time with "Don't Waste My Time" (#1 R&B), the lead single from their third album Be a Winner. It took two years for them to come up with their fourth album, Guilty. The title track would be issued out as the first single and it did well at R&B reaching #2. Unfortunately, it didn't cross over to the Pop chart. This follow-up also did well at R&B peaking at #6. This time around the single was able to make it to the Pop chart, but very briefly. It bubbled around the bottom of the chart for a month before disappearing. It would be the duo's last song to reach the Pop chart. The album topped out at #13 R&B, but with little mainstream support the LP missed the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  For this album, Y&P hooked up with a new songwriting/production team (Jimmy Hamilton & Maurice Hayes from the R&B group Prime Time) and the results were a bit mixed. The first single, "Guilty," was just okay. It got to #1 at R&B, but it really wasn't strong enough to make it at Pop. This second single was better. It had a good groove and nice production that wouldn't be out of place on a Gap Band album. The little keyboard lick is a bit Prince-like, but it works. I do wish the chorus had something to make it stand out more from the verses. Basically, this is just the same long groove under the verse and chorus, so when that happens there needs to be something to make the chorus pop and I'm missing that here. Otherwise, it's a fine groove that should have done better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This duo of Calvin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples would get one more R&B charting single from Guilty. After everything with the album was wrapped up, the pair would choose to call it quits and leave the spotlight. They would marry in 1987 and make the move back to their original hometown of Dallas. There they would perform shows on occasion and would start their own production company. Later in 2007, the couple would secure roles in the off-Broadway production Blind Lemon Blues. Both would serve as musical arrangers and also perform on stage. Peoples would be part of the ensemble cast while Yarbrough would portray blues legend Lead Belly. The show received positive notices and would return for another run in 2009.


Friday, May 17, 2019

"Suzanne" by Journey

Song#:  2771
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  63
Peak:  17
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  After a three-year gap, Journey returned with their ninth studio album Raised on Radio. It got off to a good start thanks to the #2 Rock/#9 Pop hit "Be Good to Yourself." For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The more pop-oriented song didn't do quite as well, but it still made an impression getting to #11 at Rock while cracking the Pop Top 20. In time the album would sell over two million copies to become their sixth multi-platinum album in a row.

ReduxReview:  "Be Good to Yourself" was a strong shot of arena rock that fit well in the band's catalog. Yet besides it and the title track there were no traces of the band that put out rockin' albums like Escape and Frontiers. The balance of the tracks dove into mainstream pop/rock territory. I didn't necessarily mind that the band was evolving, but the problem was that the material just wasn't all that interesting. This single certainly announced a change in direction. There are a lot of tinkling keyboard sound and even hand claps (!) driving this pop tune. It's not a bad song. The dark verse advances the tune and the chorus is good, but there is nothing special or Journey-like about it save for Perry's vocals. I will say that the way he and the backup vocals say "Suzanne" kind of drives me nuts - sooo-zahhhhn. Overall, this might have been a fine single for another middle-of-the-road artist, but it wasn't what I wanted from Journey.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Long time Journey drummer Steve Smith ended up being fired from the band as the Raised on Radio sessions began. Instead of going through the long process of finding a new drummer, the band decided to hire a session musician in order to complete the album. They secured Larrie Londin for the work. He had previously worked on Steve Perry's solo album, so it seemed logical to bring him in for Journey. Londin's career began to take off when he was asked to sit in with Motown's famous backing band the Funk Brothers. Their drummer had suffered a heart attack and while he recovered, Londin took his place. Londin played on many Motown tracks including ones by The Supremes and Marvin Gaye. He later got involved with country artists and ended up moving to Nashville where he became a top session player. The list of artist Londin has worked with was extensive. It included Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Dan Fogelberg, Rosanne Cash, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Ronnie Milsap, B.B. King, Dave Loggins, the Carpenters, Emmylou Harris, Glenn Frey, and many others. Sadly, he died in 1992 at the young age of 48 due to a heart attack.