Sunday, March 18, 2018

"Reaction to Action" by Foreigner

Song#:  2346
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  54
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Foreigner's album, Agent Provacateur, would be their sixth to spread into multi-platinum territory. It was helped along by two hits including their career best effort, the #1 "I Want to Know What Love Is." Following the #12 peak of the second single "That Was Yesterday," this third track was issued out. Unfortunately the song didn't attract listeners and it stumbled at Rock (#44) while not even cracking the top half of the Pop chart. Without the support of a third significant single or radio track, the album could only reach the 3x platinum mark. While that was still a great achievement that most any artist would envy, it was a slight a disappointment for the band since all of their previous album sold in the 5-7 million range. It would end up being their last studio album to receive multi-platinum certification.

ReduxReview:  While Foreigner isn't a stranger to have a harder rocking tune becoming a hit, this one just did have the same commercial radio appeal as something like "Juke Box Hero." It also wasn't in the same league as the album's previous two singles and listeners tuned out. It's a solid album track, but it definitely wasn't the right choice for a single.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  English musician Mick Jones co-founded Foreigner and has been the only original member to fully remain in the band over the years. In his early career days, Jones moved to France and worked as a musician and songwriter. He worked with some of the biggest names in French pop including Francoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, and rocker Johnny Hallyday. Jones wrote/co-wrote and produced several songs for Hallyday (under the name Mickey Jones) and toured with him as well. He left France and went back to England in 1971 where he was part of a few groups, but it would be when he formed Foreigner in 1976 that his career really took off.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

"Let Him Go" by Animotion

Song#:  2345
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  39
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This band grabbed a hit right out of the gate with their debut single "Obsession" (#6). The instantly catchy tune would help send their self-title album to #28. They tried to keep the momentum up with this next single. While it wouldn't get near the Top 10, it did well enough to sneak just inside the Top 40. Unlike "Obsession," which was written by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres, this track was written by band member Bill Wadhams. Wadhams wrote or co-wrote seven of the nine songs that appeared on their debut album.

ReduxReview:  While "Obsession" was pure synthpop candy, this one has a bit more of a rock edge. This one sounds like the product of a band rather than a bank of synths, even though it is certainly dressed in them. The production is excellent and the song is good, but it just doesn't have that extra-catchy ooph that "Obsession" had.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Animotion's keyboardist at the time of this album was Paul Antonelli. He had been a member since the band's inception in 1983 and would stay through to 1985. Around the same time, he started getting work as a composer of music for films and TV shows. Beginning in 1984, Antonelli began working as a musical director/supervisor on the hit daytime soap General Hospital. This led to several other gigs on various other soaps. He was consistently employed over the years and as of the time of this posting was still working on the shows Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless. He has been nominated for twelve Daytime Emmy awards over the years winning two.


Friday, March 16, 2018

"You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive

Song#:  2344
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  11
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  After a few iterations, this UK band led by Pete Burns finally came to life in 1980. They honed their chops in clubs while releasing some indie singles along the way. After one of their songs reached the UK indie chart, Epic Records came calling and the band signed up with them. They recorded their debut LP, Sophisticated Boom Boom, and one of the songs from it, a remake of KC & the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)," got to #22. Three other singles reached the lower rungs of the chart and that was enough for Epic to keep them on for another album. Their second effort, Youthquake, would be their breakthrough with this first single zooming up to #1 early in '85. The song finally found its way Stateside in the summer and it became a #4 Dance hit. The tune crossed over to Pop and it wound up peaking just outside the Top 10 in the dreaded #11 spot. The success of the single helped the album reach gold-level sales.

ReduxReview:  I remember when this song hit the airwaves. Its charging, in-your-face synths and urgent beat sounded like everyone involved had too much caffeine and speed. Add in Burns' deep monotone-ish vocals and the results were like nothing else on the radio. I bought into it and got the single. It was a fun track, but also one that could easily wear on you after repeated listens. It's a Hi-NRG song that actually takes a lot of NRG to listen to it. I nearly feel hyperactive after hearing it. The SAW sound (see below) would become a bit tiresome over the decade, but when it was in full bloom like this song, it was hard to resist.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This was the first US chart entry for the British songwriting/production team of Stock Aitken Waterman. Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Waterman formed when Waterman asked the other two to join his production company. Their main focus was Hi-NRG dance music and they began producing and/or writing tracks for various artists in 1984. Their first significant hit in the UK was Divine's "You Think You're a Man," which got to #16. Right after that, they wrote and produced the #4 hit "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)" for singer Hazell Dean. This Dead or Alive track, which they produced but did not write, would be their first project to reach #1 in the UK. Many more hits would follow including tracks by Bananarama, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue, and Donna Summer. The SAW sound would be a staple throughout the 80s.  2) The chorus of this song was famously used/sampled in the 2009 #1 "Right Round" by Flo Rida, which featured additional vocals by Kesha. It was Flo Rida's second song reach #1 on the Pop chart and it stayed in that top spot for six weeks.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Let's Go Out Tonight" by Nile Rodgers

Song#:  2343
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  92
Peak:  88
Weeks:  3
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Rodgers conquered the charts with his band Chic, but he was also making a name for himself as an in-demand producer. He scored giant hits with artists like Diana Ross, David Bowie, and Madonna while also being a contributing member to Robert Plant's side project, The Honeydrippers. Along the way, he also attempted a solo career. Following the breakup of Chic, Rodgers recorded his first solo LP, Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove. The album received some good notices, but it tanked and disappeared quickly. Two years later he decided to give it another go. Rodgers signed with Warner Bros. and recorded B-Movie Matinee. This track was issued as the first single and it got inside the Top 40 at both R&B (#35) and Dance (#38). The minor support there didn't bode well for a Pop crossover bid and indeed it was barely a blip on the chart for a few short weeks. It would be his only solo single to reach any chart. Rodgers would then mainly stay in the songwriting/production world and would later win a Grammy for his work on Daft Punk's 2013 Album of the Year winner Random Access Memories.

ReduxReview:  This track with its staccato keyboards stutters along just fine, but anyone looking for the tasty dance-pop that Rodgers had been serving out via artists like Bowie or Madonna was not gonna get it here. While the tune is interesting with its guitar licks and Japanese rap, there is not much that truly reels in a listener. Rodgers' voice is capable, but indistinguishable. Overall, the tune is not very memorable. Rodgers is an excellent producer who has written or co-written some great songs along the way and while I admire that he wanted to break out on his own and experiment, he just wasn't one that was destined for a solo career.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The female singing vocals on this track were performed by Alfa Anderson. Anderson began her career as a background vocalist for Chic, but then became a co-lead singer in 1978 and remained with the band until they dissolved in '83. She then worked as a background vocalist for many artists and as a member of Next Step contributed to "Get on Up," a 2016 #8 Dance hit by the DJ duo Aristofreeks.  2) This single also features some rap-like sections that are in Japanese. These were performed by Shizuko Orishige. It seems that Orishige would later gain work as an engineer and helped out on albums by Stevie Winwood, Karen Kamon, and Little Steven (Steven Van Zandt).


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Call Me" by Go West

Song#:  2342
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  94
Peak:  54
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  This UK duo's first charting single, "We Close Our Eyes," just barely missed out on becoming their first Top 40 entry. It peaked at the dreaded #41 spot. However, it was a hit at Dance getting to #5. For a follow-up, this next track from their self-titled debut album was chosen. It spent nearly the same amount of weeks on the chart as their first single, but couldn't quite find its way into the top half of the Pop chart. It also didn't do as well at Dance only getting to #25. The track would be another good sized hit for them in their UK homeland getting to #12.

ReduxReview:  These guys knew how to write some slick pop and their tracks were always well-produced (by Gary Stevenson on their first two albums). Anyone who digs their first two singles should really check out their debut album. It's a bit of an underrated 80s gem that should have been a bigger hit Stateside (it got to #8 in the UK, #60 US). This one may not be a catchy or vibrant as "We Close Our Eyes," but it is still a quality track.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is an original song written by the Go West duo of Peter Cox and Richard Drummie. It shouldn't be confused with any other song titled "Call Me," several of which have reached the Pop chart. Perhaps the most famous "Call Me" is the 1980 hit by Blondie. Next in line would probably be the 60s pop standard of the same name first recorded by Petula Clark in 1965. Singer Chris Montez made a hit out of it in 1966 (#22 Pop/#2 AC). That song has been covered by many artists, but only Montez was able to get it on the Pop chart. Other "Call Me's" (all different songs) to reach the Pop chart have come from Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, Dennis DeYoung, Skyy, Tweet, Le Click, and even a rap one by Too Short & Lil' Kim. Blondie's "Call Me" remains the only song by that name to reach the Top 10.