Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Saturday Love" by Cherelle with Alexander O'Neal

Song#:  2622
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  26
Weeks:  17
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Cherelle's debut album, Fragile, was her first to employ the services of the writing/production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It resulted in her first hit, the #8 R&B single "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" (#79 Pop). For her second LP, she stayed with Jam and Lewis and came up with High Priority. The album's first single, "You Look Good to Me," was a bit of a letdown only getting to #26 at R&B. However, she rebounded in a big way with this second single. The duet with R&B star Alexander O'Neal caught on and went to #2 at R&B. It then found a crossover audience and was able to get inside the Pop Top 30. It also made it to #13 at Dance. It would end up being Cherelle's biggest hit on the Pop chart. Thanks to the hit, the album would reach #9 R&B/#36 Pop and would eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  While the single version of this song is more concise and gets to the point, the longer album version is kind of fun with its extended bar scene opening. Whatever version you hear, the song is another winner from the Jam/Lewis team. The repetitive days of the week line is a cool hook and both Cherelle and O'Neal put their all into the vocals. It's an excellent track and I'm glad that it got some action at Pop. It nearly makes up for the fact that Cherelle's lovely 1988 #1 R&B hit "Everything I Miss at Home" inexplicably missed the Pop chart (but not quite...)

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was later covered by R&B singer Keke Wyatt for her 2011 album Unbelievable. She sang it as a duet with American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. The song was released as a single and it got to #31 on the Adult R&B Songs chart. Wyatt's biggest hit was the #4 R&B/#27 Pop "Nothing in This World" in 2001. That song featured R&B star Avant. Wyatt would later become a reality TV star being featured in three seasons of TV One's R&B Divas. She would also appear in a season of Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.


Monday, December 17, 2018

"One Sunny Day/Duelling Bikes from Quicksilver" by Ray Parker, Jr. and Helen Terry

Song#:  2621
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  96
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Parker's third album Sex and the Single Man was a bit of a bust with only one minor charting single, the #21 R&B/#34 Pop "Girls Are More Fun." Afterward, he would end up leaving his home label of Arista for Geffen. Prior to the switch, Parker was asked to sing on a track that was written for the 1986 Kevin Bacon messenger bike flick Quicksilver. He was paired with British singer Helen Terry (famous for her background vocals for Culture Club) and together they recorded "One Sunny Day." It was issued out as a single, but it failed to make an impression and quickly disappeared - much like the movie, which was a box office dud that was panned by critics. Although this song was composed by Bill Wolfer and Dean Pitchford (of Footloose fame), the score for the film was done by Tony Banks from Genesis.

ReduxReview:  Well, they were certainly going for something akin to the tunes from Beverly Hills Cop. Actually, it sounds like a rejected Pointers Sisters track. While the song wasn't all that bad, it wasn't very good either. The straight-ahead pop track was not a good fit for Parker and Terry's talents are totally wasted here. Parker is not a strong vocalist, so Terry probably had to tame her pipes in order to not blow him out of the water. It's a mediocre tune that sounds like something from a dorky 80s movie, so I guess it fit the bill.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Like many films of the 80s, this movie had a soundtrack filled with new songs by popular artists like Roger Daltrey, Peter Frampton, John Parr, and Marilyn Martin. There was also one song by an unknown artist named Larry John McNally. McNally was mainly a songwriter and over the years he would have tunes recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Chaka Khan, the Eagles, and many others. The track he recorded for Quicksilver was one titled "The Motown Song." Since the film and soundtrack were duds, it seemed like that might have been it for McNally's contribution. However, later in 1990 Rod Stewart picked up the tune and recorded it with a little help from The Temptations. It was released as the third single from Stewart's Vagabond Heart and it would turn into a #10 Pop/#3 AC hit.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

"The Men All Pause" by Klymaxx

Song#:  2620
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  80
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The all-female band finally scored a major crossover hit with "I Miss You," the third single lifted from their third album Meeting in the Ladies Room. The ballad was a solid success getting to #5 Pop, #3 AC, and #11 R&B. To keep the ball rolling, a follow-up single titled "Lock and Key" was issued out. Unfortunately, it just didn't catch on and it stalled early at R&B (#47) while not even making the Pop chart. However, the label thought there was still enough interest in the band at Pop to warrent another follow-up attempt, so they went ahead and reissued the LP's first single "The Men All Pause," which had already been a #5 hit at R&B earlier in '85 (#9 Dance). The tactic sort of worked. The song did get some action at Pop, but it was only for a couple of months near the bottom of the chart. They would soon have better luck with a fresh new single.

ReduxReview:  I remember back in the day when I saw this song's title I thought it was some kind of play on the word "menopause." I was happy to find out that it was not! It was, however, another solid track from the band. While not quite as good as "Meeting in the Ladies Room," it is still pretty tasty. Their hit "I Miss You" was a lovely ballad, but I think the women really soared when they were rockin' a good groove.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia: The album Meeting in the Ladies Room included a track titled "Just Our Luck." It was a remake of a tune originally recorded by Shalamar in '83. Written by Barry De Vorzon and Joseph Conlon, Shalamar's version was used as the opening credits theme song to the 1983 ABC TV show Just Our Luck. The show, which starred T.K. Carter and Richard Gilliland, was about a TV weatherman who ends up releasing a genie, Shabu, that was imprisoned in a bottle. In return for his release, Shabu offers his services to the guy for life. Basically, it's a spin on I Dream of Jeannie. However, the show became quite controversial. Shabu was a black character who was serving a white guy and terms like "master" and "servant" were used in the show. Also, T.K. Carter's portrayal was seen as offensive and promoting stereotypes. The NAACP prompted a boycott of ABC until something was done. ABC did address the issues in conjunction with the NAACP, but it was too late. The controversy along with poor critical reception and bad ratings (it was up against NBC's new hit show The A-Team) took a toll and the show was cancelled after 11 episodes. T.K. Carter, who always defended the Shabu character and his portrayal, would appear in several TV shows and films including two seasons on Punky Brewster. Richard Gilliland would be appear in many TV shows, but may probably be best known for playing Mary Jo's boyfriend on Designing Women. While working on that show, he met Jean Smart who played Charlene. The two would marry in 1987 and as of this posting are still together.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

"In Between Days (Without You)" by The Cure

Song#:  2619
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  99
Peak:  99
Weeks:  1
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  Thanks to the gloomy and atmospheric sounds that they perfected on their first five albums (in particular 1982's Pornography - #8 UK), Britain's The Cure became one of the first bands whose music was described as goth rock. With their big hair, makeup, and dour demeanor, the band became synonymous with the genre. They were having good success at home, but after five albums they had yet to make a real dent in the US market. The band's lead singer and songwriter Robert Smith chose to take a more pop/rock flavored approach for The Cure's next LP, The Head on the Door. The more streamlined (and less dreary) sound was well-received and it resulted in this first single hitting #15 in the UK. In the US, the track generated a lot of buzz on college campuses and it picked up some airplay. It was enough for the single to get on the Pop chart, but only for one short week. It did a bit better at Dance going to #39. The results weren't fantastic, but it was enough to spur interest in the album and it ended up reaching a solid #59 on the chart. While it wasn't a huge breakthrough, it was their first significant success in the States and it set them up well for their next few albums.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs so many people now know that it's nearly incomprehensible it spent only one week on the chart when it was first released. I guess pop radio at the time wasn't ready for jangly alt-rock with sorrowful lyrics. The Cure definitely appealed to the lonely and depressed, but it was going to take a while longer before the mainstream would catch up to them. Luckily, this song came along for the ride and over the years it has turned into one of their most popular tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The band was initially named Easy Cure. It came from the title of a song their drummer had written. Under that moniker, they ended up entering and winning a talent contest that secured them a deal with the record label Hansa. The band began to record demos for a potential album, but the label just wasn't thrilled with the results. Hansa wanted to turn the band into something more pop-oriented and have them do cover tunes. The group told the label no and in the end they took off and none of their recordings for the label were released (a few later showed up on a 2004 reissue version of their 1979 debut album Three Imaginary Boys). In 1978 after a lineup change, Robert Smith shortened the name of the band to The Cure (as he thought Easy Cure was too hippie-ish and didn't fit their sound) and they got signed to Fiction Records, an offshoot of Universal. Their first official album came out the following year and made it to #44 in the UK.


Friday, December 14, 2018

"Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco

#1 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2618
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  79
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance

Pop Bits:  Austrian musican Johann H√∂lzel, aka Falco, became part of Vienna's underground music scene at a teenager. He played with different bands for several years until an artist manager spotted him performing with the infamous shock-rock group Dhradiwaberl and offered to secure him a record deal. The results of that was Falco's 1982 debut album Einzelhaft. It became a major hit in Austria and several other countries thanks to the single "Der Kommissar." In the US, the song was ignored at Pop despite getting to #10 at Dance and #22 Rock. (It would become a hit in '83 when the band After the Fire did an English version of the song.) Falco's next LP, Junge Roemer, was only successful in his home country. Wanting to be a much bigger worldwide star, Falco hired new producers and worked with them to co-write his next LP Falco 3. In May of '85, this first single was issued out around Europe. It became enormously popular reaching #1 in many countries. As '86 began, the song started to get picked up in the US. Aided by a memorable MTV video, the single made a beeline for the #1 spot and ended up staying there for three weeks. It would also get to #4 Dance and #6 R&B. The hit boosted sales of the album and it would end up being a gold seller that reached #3. Falco finally had the hit that he wanted. Unfortunately, it would be his only Top 10 hit in the US. Although he would have far less memorable Top 20 follow-up, this song was so iconic that Falco got tagged as a one-hit wonder (#44 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders).

ReduxReview:  There were various versions of the song released. The one I'm most used to is the American Edit (above), which was the one used in the US for the single and for radio airplay. The video used the original "Gold Mix," which appeared on the European version of Falco 3. For the US version of the LP, the Gold Mix was replaced by a much longer 8 minute version called the Salieri Mix. That one includes an English language rundown of Mozart's life by date. Frankly, the dang thing is way too long. This is one tune that benefits from a good edit. Once it is down to the basics, the song is a lot of fun. Is it great? No way. Falco's goofy rap-sung delivery paired with the subject matter, German language, and the quirky video nearly put the song in novelty territory. However, a hooky chorus and solid production held the thing above water. It ended up being a cultural touch point with the tune being parodied and referenced many times including on The Simpsons.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Inspired by the 1984 Oscar winning film Amadeus, this song was written as a tribute to composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The lyrics portray him as a bad boy rock-n-roll type that everyone celebrates despite his debts and other faults like womanizing. In the video, Falco dresses up like Mozart in a rainbow wig and joins up with a motorcycle gang.  2) This was the first German language song to reach #1 on the US Pop chart. In 1983, Nena came close to being the first with the song "99 Luftballons," but it stalled at #2. Falco was also the first Austrian-born artist to reach the top spot in the rock era.