Monday, August 20, 2018

"Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora

One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2502
Date:  10/19/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  13
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Europop

Pop Bits:  Jimmy McShane was a failed West End (theater) wannabe who ended up moving back to his hometown in Ireland where he became an EMT. Then a friend from London got in contact with McShane and offered him a gig doing background vocals for Dee D. Jackson, an English singer who grabbed a couple of Italio-disco hits in the late 70s/early 80s. McShane accepted and on a tour stop in Italy he met producer Maurizio Bassi. Bassi was putting together a music project that he called Baltimora and wanted McShane to front the group. McShane took a chance on Bassi's project and the two began working together. In the spring of '85, this first single was issued out in Europe. It quickly became a hit reaching the Top 10's of many countries including #3 in the UK. With a hit on their hands, a deal was struck to get the tune released in the US. Following it's mid-October debut, the single would very slowly climb the chart for over four months before finally peaking just outside the Pop Top 10. It would also be a #6 Dance hit. With the song being so identifiable and it being their only significant hit, Baltimora would be tagged as a one-hit wonder.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that is like a time warp. When I hear it, I'm immediately transported back to when this single came out. It makes me chuckle. As nostalgia, the song is fun. The Tarzan-yell chorus is ultra hooky and the goofy 80s production is spot-on. I bought into it back in the day, but the novelty of it certainly wore off quick. It's fun to hear as a lark now, but once I do, it can slip back into the time capsule for another decade.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) There was always speculation as to whether McShane did the lead vocals on this track and others from Baltimora's debut album Living in the Background. Many folks thought that Bassi had already recorded most of the project and was just looking for a face to sell it and the handsome McShane fit the bill. Indeed the lead vocals on this track don't sound like a young Irish lad and that seems to point to Bassi doing the voice work. Years later, another prominent Italio-disco producer, Tom Hooker, confirmed that Bassi did the vocals while McShane served as the public front for the "band."  2) This song got a second life in 1993. That year, the chorus of the song was used in a commercial for Listerine Cool Mint mouthwash. It was an animated ad that was done by Pixar. Then, the song appeared in the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. With interest in the old hit growing, a remix of the song was done and issued out as a single. It ended up peaking at #51 on the Pop chart.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

"Hold Me" by Laura Branigan

Song#:  2501
Date:  10/19/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  82
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Branigan's first three albums each contained a lead off single that went into the Top 10, but that streak stopped with her fourth album Hold Me. The first single from that LP, "Spanish Eddie," coudn't find an audience and it stopped at #40 on the Pop chart. Hoping to turn things around, this second single was released. Sadly, it did even worse spending a month at the bottom of the Pop chart while only getting to a minor #39 at Dance. With those results, Hold Me became Branigan's worst performing effort to-date only getting to #71 and failing to reach gold or platinum like her previous three albums.

ReduxReview:  While I think this album-opening track was a better single than "Spanish Eddie," it still wasn't a strong contender. The tune's darker, more mature sound just didn't have the same hooky allure as her other hits. Yet I do think that if this had some solid promotion behind it and a good video (none was filmed for it, which didn't help), this song could have done better than "Spanish Eddie" as a first single. Unfortunately, as a second single following up a weak first one, nobody paid attention.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The closing track on the Hold Me album was "When the Heat Hits the Street." The song got picked up by Chrysler and was used in commercials that introduced their new sports car, the Laser. The tune was written by Linda Schreyer and Cappy Capossela. Capossela (real name Carolee Capossela) would co-author a book in 1985 on how to organize a group of people to help take care of someone that is seriously ill. This was after she went through the experience of helping a friend dying of cancer. Later in 2002, Capossela's father was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. As she was helping him, she then discovered she also had a brain tumor. Her father died in October of that year and sadly Capossela would then pass away a mere 12 hours after him. Her book is still being published and is considered by many organizations as an essential tool in caregiving.


"Tears Are Falling" by Kiss

Song#:  2500
Date:  10/19/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  51
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  The 80s didn't start out all that great for Kiss. They experienced a sales drop with their first three albums of the decade and they were going through a series of new lead guitarists after the departure of original member Ace Frehley. They rebounded with 1983's Lick It Up and 1984's Animalize with both LPs returning them to platinum status. Hoping to keep up the momentum, the band got back in the studio to record their next effort, Asylum. This track from the album was pushed out as the first single and it did well at Rock getting to #20. It was then able to cross over to the Pop chart where it just missed out on the Top 50. However, it would be the only single released from the album and with the shortened promotional window, the LP's sales lagged behind their previous two efforts. It was able to reach #20 and go gold, but it was another slight hiccup for the band who were now trying to navigate their way through the field of glam/hair metal bands of the day.

ReduxReview:  This is one of the band's most radio-ready commercial efforts they put out in the 80s. I liked it from the first listen and had thought this might finally get them their first Top 40 entry since 1979. Alas, it fell slightly short, but the dark rock tune is still a memorable highlight from this time in the band's career.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Following original lead guitarist Ace Frehley's departure, the band went through two replacements. Vinnie Vincent was first followed by Mark St. John. Unfortunately, after recording one album with them St. John developed arthritis and had to quit. With the position open once again, the band decided to bring on Bruce Kulick. Kulick had previously worked with the band ghosting some guitar work in the studio for Animalize. He got involved with Kiss mainly thanks to his brother Bob, who had been doing some side work for the band since the early 70s. Bruce Kulick became a permanent member of the band in time for the Asylum album. He remained with them for twelve years, which was the longest tenure of a non-original member. Kulick and St. John were also the only two members of Kiss to never have donned the band's famous make-up look. Both came along after the "unmasking" part of their career.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

"Welcome to Paradise" by John Waite

Song#:  2499
Date:  10/19/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  85
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Waite was having a tough time following up his iconic #1 song "Missing You." He'd get four singles on the Pop chart after that hit, but none of them could even get close to the Top 10. This second single from his album Mask of Smiles didn't do anything to turn the tides. It spent a month at the bottom of the Pop chart while completely missing the Rock chart. The album made it to #36, but failed to go gold like his previous effort No Brakes.

ReduxReview:  Is it me or does a good chunk of the verse sound a bit like "Purple Rain?" It has that same feel and small parts even seem to almost replicate the Prince track. The rest of the tune is unremarkable and I'm a bit surprised this was selected to be a single. There is little here that would draw in a pop radio listener. It's pretty forgettable. As an album track it worked fine, but it had no business being a single.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  For his 2011 album Rough & Tumble, Waite's manager kept bugging him to record a song that had been making the rounds in Nashville. Waite wasn't all that thrilled with the song, titled "If You Ever Get Lonely," and kept turning it down. He like the chorus but felt the balance of it wasn't as good. Later on in the studio with his producer Kyle Cook (a member of Matchbox 20), the pair revisited the song and decided to see if they could adjust it to their liking. After making changes (and getting songwriting credit along the way), they recorded the song and it not only made it on the album, but was also released as a single. Neither the album nor single charted, but that version found its way to the up-n-coming country duo Love and Theft. They recorded it for their self-title 2012 album. The track was then selected to be the third single released from the album in 2013. It was able to reach #43 on the Country chart. The Love and Theft album would reach #4 on the chart mainly thanks to the #1 Country single, "Angel Eyes."


Friday, August 17, 2018

"Talk to Me" by Quarterflash

Song#:  2498
Date:  10/19/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  83
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After three Top 20 hits, a Top 10 debut album, and a lesser-selling follow-up, this Portland, Oregon, band was ready to take on the charts again with their third effort Back into Blue. This first single would set the tone for the album and unfortunately it wasn't a good one. The tune could only manage a few weeks at the bottom of the Pop chart while completely missing the Rock chart. A second single, "Walking on Ice," failed to do anything and with that the album stopped at very minor #150 and quickly disappeared. The results didn't sit well with Geffen and the band was dropped from the label. They broke up soon after. The band's leaders Marv and Rindy Ross would later push out three indie albums under the Quarterflash name, but none charted.

ReduxReview:  What made Quarterflash stand out was their hooky, Benatar-ish rock tracks that featured Rindy Ross' solid vocals and sax playing. Yet somewhere on the way to their third album they traded their solid rock for a more MOR pop style and as a result they lost what made them good. This synth-led track has none of the spark of their hit singles.  Even Ross sounds a bit sleepy and uninterested. It's like something came along and sucked the life out of the band. The song itself is not too bad, but it would have greatly benefited from a much stronger rock production. A disappointment from a terrific band that pretty much killed their career.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Years after their Quarterflash hits, Marv and Rindy Ross developed an interest in Native American music and culture, particularly around their hometown area of Portland, Oregon. One famous story regarding the relationship between Native Americans and the government got Marv Ross' attention. In 1957, the new Dalles dam was built along the Columbia River and as a result the Celilo Falls area that had been the home to Native Americans for thousands of years was to be flooded and submerged. Ross thought the story was still impactful and relevant and set out to write a musical about the event. In 2007, The Ghosts of Celilo debuted in Portland. It was well-received in its initial run as was a 2011 revival of the show.