Thursday, July 18, 2019

"The Other Side of Life" by The Moody Blues

Song#:  2833
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  58
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  The Moodies returned to the Pop Top 10 after fourteen years with "Your Wildest Dreams" (#9), the first single from their twelfth studio album The Other Side of Life. It was also a major hit at AC reaching the #1 spot. For a follow-up, this title track was issued out as a single. It would do well at Rock getting to #11 while making it to #18 at AC. However, it couldn't do as well at Pop and the song fizzled before reaching the halfway point. Still, the strength of the first single was enough to push the album to #9 and it would go on to become a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo shuffle wasn't too bad of a choice for a follow-up. Rock and AC were on board with it, but I don't think it was the right tune for Pop. One thing that helped "Your Wildest Dreams" was its sentimental video. The one for this song certainly wasn't in the same league. It was a bizarre concept thing about a guy finding some kind of odd underworld where everyone starts to look like him. It was weird. The main thing I remember is Moody member Ray Thomas in some kind of cop S&M outfit bangin' a tambourine. The video certainly didn't help sell the song. It's a good tune, but one that just wasn't a fit for Pop radio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  While The Other Side of Life would end up being The Moodies' final studio album to be certified either gold or platinum, three future non-studio releases would reach gold level sales. Two compilations, 1990's The Story of the Moody Blues - Legend of a Band and the 1994 box set Time Traveller would both go gold. Neither collection hit the Album chart, but the enduring legacy of the band allowed for sales to continue years after the sets were originally release. A concert album, 1993's A Night at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra would get to #93 on initial release, but like the compilation albums it continued to sell and was eventually certified gold. As associated VHS tape of the performance would also reach gold level sales.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

"Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2832
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Money's 1983 album Where's the Party? was a commercial disappointment. The LP's singles didn't get very far and that left the album peaking at a low #67 and failing to reach gold level sales. His career needed a reboot and after a three-year absence, Money returned with Can't Hold Back. On board to co-produce with Money was Richie Zito. The goal was to get Money back on the charts and Zito brought along demos of some radio friendly fare, which included this first single. It took a while for the song to catch on, but once it did it made a beeline to the top of the Rock chart. Success at Pop wasn't far behind and the single would become his biggest hit getting into the Top 5. It was a welcome and much needed comeback for Money and the hit helped his album reach #20 and go platinum. The song also earned Money a Grammy nod for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male.

ReduxReview:  This tune had hit written all over it. I don't know what the demo sounded like, but apparently Money wasn't a fan of the tune after hearing it, but decided to record it anyway. It's a good thing he did. It was a solid vehicle for his style of rock. The tune opens on an immediately memorable keyboard/guitar riff and it just keeps getting better after that. The inclusion of "Be My Baby" was inspired and Zito's production was excellent. The thing is hooky as hell and deserved to be a big hit. It still sounds damn good.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song also featured the vocals of Ronnie Spector. Spector was the lead singer of the famous girl group The Ronettes. Under the guidance of producer Phil Spector, whom Ronnie would marry in 1968, The Ronettes had several charting songs including their biggest hit, 1963's #2 "Be My Baby." Ronnie Spector maintained a career for a while after The Ronettes broke up and after her tumultuous marriage to Phil Spector ended, but by the mid-80's she had basically retired from the business. When Richie Zito brought the song to Eddie Money and he heard the interpolation of "Be My Baby" within the tune, Money's first though was to get Spector to sing the part. He was advised by folks that Spector was retired and she'd never do it. In the meantime, Money and Zito brought in The Motels lead singer Martha Davis to record the part. Apparently, Davis thought Money should seek out Spector as well and get her to do it. Money finally reached Spector and eventually lured her into the studio. As the song shaped up to be a hit, interest in Spector increased. Columbia Records offered her a contract and she recorded what would be her second solo LP in 1987 titled Unfinished Business. Despite some positive notices, neither the album nor any of its singles charted. She would then release a memoir in 1990 and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Ronettes in 2007.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Paranoimia" by The Art of Noise with Max Headroom

Song#:  2831
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  34
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Electronic, Dance-Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This British outfit grabbed their first Pop chart entry with their interpretation of the "Peter Gunn" theme (#50 Pop/#2 Dance). It was taken from their second full-length album In Visible Silence. As a sort of addendum to that album, the group released an LP collection titled Re-Works of Art of Noise. It consisted of a few updated versions of previously released songs and some live tracks. One track from In Visible Silence title "Paranoimia," was updated into a newly mixed version that featured the voice of a character named Max Headroom (see below). The unusual new version was issued out as a single and it reach the Pop Top 40 thanks in part to a popular MTV video. It also got to #14 at Dance.

ReduxReview:  Ah, Max Headroom. That was certainly a bizarre pop culture moment. It was so odd that the character took off and not only hosted a TV show, but then had a scripted series as well and even starred in commercials for Coke. The character was able to hang on for a few years, which is longer than most pop culture phenoms, but it was all done before the 90s would arrive. The marrying of Headroom with Art of Noise was absolutely spot-on. The track was pretty cool to begin with, but then adding in Headroom took the tune to another level. And then the ante was upped when the video was made. That's what really made the song take off. I like listening to the song, but the visual representation with Max Headroom made it even better. As annoying as the Headroom character became after a while, Matt Frewer played him to perfection. His rubber-faced antics, voice, and improvisation skills were on full display and it all worked.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Around the time this single came out, Max Headroom was just beginning to gain attention in the US. Max Headroom was a character developed in the UK. He was created to be a computer generated talk show host of artificial intelligence. However, at the time the technology didn't fully exist to create a computer generated animated character, so an actor was hired to play Headroom. American actor Matt Frewer endured hours of prosthetic makeup to become Max. A fiberglass suit was also made for Frewer. Headroom first came to life in the 1985 British TV film Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. The movie was successful and that led to Headroom hosting a music video program titled The Max Headroom Show. It would run for three season with the last two seasons being aired in the US via the cable channel Cinemax. There were other spinoffs including the satirical scripted US sci-fi series Max Headroom, which lasted for two seasons. By the end of the 80s, the Max Headroom phenomenon had pretty much ended. Frewer would continue to act in many films and TV shows. He starred in his own sitcom, Doctor Doctor, which debuted in 1989 on CBS and ran for three seasons. Recently, Frewer has been seen in the popular shows Orphan Black and Fear of the Walking Dead.


Monday, July 15, 2019

"Playing with the Boys" by Kenny Loggins

Song#:  2830
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  60
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The soundtrack to the film Top Gun had already spawned three hits including one by Loggins, the #2 "Danger Zone." The soundtrack album's label, Columbia, decided to keep the singles going and chose to release this track, which was the second one on the LP by Loggins. This time around, the results were not as good. The song made a low debut and then couldn't get near the top half of the chart. The soundtrack album got knocked out of the #1 spot after three weeks the same week this single debuted. The LP would return to #1 twice more - once in September and once in October, even though singles from it were exhausted. Over time, the album would sell over nine million copies.

ReduxReview:  It probably wasn't a bad idea to go with this Loggins track. After all, he'd kind of become Mr. Movie Hits and his track record was pretty good for them. However, this one just wasn't as strong as his other efforts. It was a good song that went well with the film (in a scene where guys are playing volleyball), but as a single it wasn't in the same league as "Danger Zone" or his other movie hits. Still, it was a valiant attempt to eke out another hit from the soundtrack.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Four songs from the Top Gun soundtrack charted, but five were actually released. Initially, the track "Mighty Wings" by Cheap Trick was supposed to be the follow up to the first single "Danger Zone." But then Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" ended up getting released instead. Of course, that went on to be a huge #1 hit. It was then the label issued out "Mighty Wings." However, the tune just couldn't break through anywhere and it was never able to chart. Luckily, the news was different for the next single, Loverboy's "Heaven in Your Eyes" (#12). This Kenny Loggins track would follow and that would wrap up the singles from the album.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Walk Away Renee" by Southside Johnny & the Jukes

Song#:  2829
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  98
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  John Lyon, aka Southside Johnny, was a major part of the same New Jersey music scene that was home to Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen and Johnny were friendly and once it came time for Johnny and his band the Asbury Dukes to record a 1976 debut album, Springsteen tossed over a couple of tunes while E Street member Steven Van Zandt served as producer. The album, I Don't Want to Go Home, would do well critically, but it wouldn't be a big seller. Van Zandt and Springsteen helped out on Johnny's next two albums, which included what many consider his best effort, 1978's Hearts of Stone. While critics lauded Johnny, the public didn't take much notice and he was never able to break through in a major way. He would continue to record for various labels over the years with only one of his songs, "I'm So Anxious," reaching the Pop chart (#71, 1979). As '86 came along, Johnny signed with RCA and issued an album titled At Least We Got Shoes. This single from the LP became his second and final single to hit the Pop chart. It would be a very minor entry floating around the bottom three positions of the chart for five weeks. Johnny would hook up once again with Van Zandt for 1991's Better Days. It was seen as a comeback album and featured appearances by Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. It would produced the #22 Rock track "It's Been a Long Time."

ReduxReview:  I absolutely love this song and as a kid even owned the original single (see below). This Springsteen-esque version by Southside Johnny is fine. It took me a few listens to get into it. I'm not sure the New Jersey rock sound was a good fit for the pop tune. It also seems to be a bit on the slow side. Johnny can rip up some good rock 'n' R&B and can do some great cover tunes, but I'm not sure this was among his best efforts. My personal favorite version of this song came from Rickie Lee Jones who covered it for her 1983 EP Girl at Her Volcano. It was paired with an original instrumental called "Letter from the 9th Ward." Her take of the tune is just stunningly beautiful.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Left Banke in 1966. The single would reach #5 on the Pop chart. The song would be covered by many artists over the years, but beside the original version by The Left Banke and Southside Johnny's take, the only other artist to get on the Pop chart with the song was The Four Tops. Their 1968 cover version would get to #14 Pop and #15 R&B.