Tuesday, August 11, 2020

"Be There" by The Pointer Sisters

Song#:  3222
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  81
Peak:  42
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The sisters hit a bit of a slump with their 1986 album Hot Together. It failed to go gold and contained only one minor charting single, the #33 "Goldmine." As they were getting ready to record their next LP, they got another opportunity to supply a song to a film soundtrack. Their first one, "Neutron Dance" from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, was a winner reaching #6. So when Beverly Hills Cop II came about, the sisters were asked back for another song. This time they went into the studio with producer Narada Michael Walden and recorded "Be There." By this point in time, three singles from the soundtrack had already reached the Top 10 including the #1 hit "Shakedown" by Bob Seger. The Pointer Sisters' track would then be selected as the fourth single. The tune just missed out on the Pop Top 40 and failed to reach the R&B and Dance charts. Unfortunately, it would be the trio's last song to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This energetic track was not all that different from the material the trio had been slinging out with Richard Perry for the past few years. Not surprisingly, it comes from Allee Willis who also co-wrote "Neutron Dance." Like the movie, this track nearly played like a sequel. Unfortunately, it wasn't as hooky, kooky, or memorable as "Neutron Dance." It just sounded like any other track from the trio. Even Walden, who took the place of the trio's regular producer Richard Perry, couldn't do much to boost the track basically imitating Perry's production style. The fact of the matter is that the sisters and Perry beat their formula to death and folks were tired of it. After the failure of Hot Together (actually it should have been before that LP), the sisters should have dumped Perry and sought a new, hip producer who wouldn't have relied on the same old songwriting pool. Or done something different like a set of R&B covers or a standards LP. Instead, they slogged on with one more Perry album that tanked. After that, it was too late for the trio. Kinda sad, but at least they had a really good run of terrific hits in the 80s.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The trio's next album, Serious Slammin', would be their ninth and last with producer Richard Perry. None of its singles reached the Pop chart and only one made the R&B Top 40. The album tanked and it really signaled the end of their charting days. They moved over to Motown for an album and then one for SBK, but neither charted or contained hit singles. They continued to perform over the years, but by 2002 they were experiencing some inner struggles with June leaving the group. Ruth's daughter, Issa, would be her replacement. Ruth's granddaughter Sadako would join the group in 2009. In 2015, Anita would decide to retire. As of this posting, June, Issa, and Sadako were still performing as The Pointer Sisters.

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Monday, August 10, 2020

"Running in the Family" by Level 42

Song#:  3221
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  87
Peak:  83
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  The UK band's seventh album, Running in the Family, got off to a fairly good start with the first single, "Lessons in Love," reaching #12 at Pop. The hit helped the album reach #23. Next up for release from the album was this title-track single. The song was unable to break through and dropped off the Pop chart after a brief month-long stay. A follow-up single, "It's Over," didn't reach the Pop chart and was prophetic in a way because the band was never able to chart again in the US. However, they would continue to do well in the UK and other European countries. They would breakup in 1994, but return in 2001 with a new lineup. As of this posting they are still together and touring.

ReduxReview:  This band had (and still has) a loyal following, but from what I understand via someone I know who follows the band is that a good chunk of fans prefer their earlier jazz-funk albums. Once they moved towards a more commercial pop sound with 1986's "Something About You" (#7), early fans were not as impressed. Still, the band continues to have rabid fans. The Running in the Family album was probably their most commercial effort and it paid off for them in Europe and somewhat in the US. "Lessons in Love" was a good song and this follow-up wasn't too bad either. The problem with it was that it just didn't contain a big hook. The keyboard line at the top of the song is probably the most memorable thing about it. Oddly, I believe it is the same melody as the verse, yet the synth stands out more than the vocal. Again, it is not a bad song. It just wasn't a very good single for the US pop listeners who liked their hooks big and catchy.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While the Running in the Family album did okay in the US (#23), it was a smash hit in Europe reaching the Top 10 in many countries and even spawning four Top 10 hits in the UK and five Top 10s in the Netherlands. After the tour for the album died down, two of the band's original members, brothers Phil and Boon Gould, would leave the band (although Boon would help co-write several tracks for the next album). A new lineup would record the 1988 album Staring at the Sun. While not as big as Running with the Family, it did quite well in Europe. Their next two albums would manage to do fairly well, but each had diminishing returns and by 1994 the band was done. After a new lineup was formed in 2001, they got back to recording new music and in 2006 issued out Retroglide. It didn't make a huge impression, but did at least reach the UK chart at #78.

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Sunday, August 9, 2020

"Oh Yeah" by Yello

Song#:  3220
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  51
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Synthpop, Electronic



Pop Bits:  This Swiss group was originally formed by Boris Blank and Carlos Perón in the late 70s. By 1979, they brought on board Dieter Meier and the trio became Yello. Their sound, which included a lot of samples (created sounds, not samples of other music/songs), danceable rhythms, and the unique voice of Meier, attracted Mercury Records. They would record two albums that didn't attract much attention except for a couple of minor entries on the US Dance chart. Their third album, You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess, did better with two tracks reaching the US Dance Top 20 and one song hitting the Swiss Top 10. After that step forward, Perón left. Blank and Meier continued on and recorded their fourth LP, 1985's Stella. That album topped the Swiss chart and would contain their second Swiss Top 10 and first US Dance Top 10, "Vicious." Also on that album was the track "Oh Yeah." That song got picked up for use in the comedy flick Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but there was no soundtrack album released. Due to the song getting attention from the film, it got released as a 12" single in the fall of '86 and got to #35 on the US Dance chart. Then the tune ended up in the 1987 film The Secret of My Success, which helped garner it more attention. It wasn't put on the movie's soundtrack, but since its popularity increased, a slightly updated version was pushed out as a single. It made the US Pop chart and just missed out on the Top 50. The song would then be included on the US version of Yello's 1987 album One Second, which topped out at #82. The duo wouldn't reach the Pop chart again, but through the 90s they would have several songs on the Dance chart including two more Top 10s. They would also score a #1 Dance hit in 2006 when a remix of this song titled "Oh Yeah 'Oh Six" got released.

ReduxReview:  For a long while I thought this song was put together by Art of Noise. The sound of the track went right along with what that group was doing at the time. It took a while before I figured out it was Yello. While it wasn't a big chart hit, the song has had a long life of its own. Pretty much everyone knows it. Just go up to someone and go "bonk-bonk, chk-a-chk-a-chk-ahhhh" and they know exactly what you are referring to. They may not know the name of the performer, but they know that catchy little riff and groove. I'm guessing it didn't become a chart hit because it is one of those little ditties that is fun for a party or one-time listen. You don't really want to have it repeated every hour on the radio as it would become annoying. Still, it didn't need to be a hit. I'd describe it as a musical catchphrase. Once it entered pop culture, it had a place to live and thrive. As a single, the track is a fun listen once in a great while. The genius of it is how well it worked in other areas of entertainment and marketing.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Due to its use in movies, this song has been associated with lust. Not just for a person, but even products such as when the Ferrari is first seen in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It has been used in many films, TV shows, and ad campaigns including She's Out of Control, Opportunity Knocks, South Park, American Dad, The Simpsons, The Office, Glee, The Goldbergs, Twix candy, Honda cars, and Dominoes Pizza. The prolific use of the tune made it instantly recognizable for decades. It's one of those tracks that you'd swear was a hit, yet it barely made it halfway up the Pop chart. Blank and Meier smartly pushed their recordings out for movie/TV/ad use early on, including this song, and it paid off well for them. The duo are still together as of this posting date and making music. In 2020, they released their first album in eight years, Pulse. Its first single "Waba Duba" has a vertigo-inducing video to go along with it.
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Saturday, August 8, 2020

"World Where You Live" by Crowded House

Song#:  3219
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  65
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Alternative Rock



Pop Bits:  The new Zealand/Australian band's self-titled debut album garnered them back-to-back Top 10s in the US with "Don't Dream It's Over" (#2) and "Something So Strong" (#7). The hits would make their album a #12 platinum seller. They were hoping to continue their streak with this third single, but it didn't quite catch on. The song spent a couple of months on the Pop chart while only reaching #45 at Rock.

ReduxReview:  This was another good track from the band's album, but it just wasn't quite as catchy or radio-friendly as their previous two hits. Even in Australia the tune peaked at a minor #43. The album wasn't chock full of single candidates and my guess is that even getting the two Top 10s was a bit unexpected, so it didn't really matter that this third one didn't do much business. However, with the band establishing themselves with two major hits, they were then gonna be hounded by the label to write more for their next album. The pressure was on.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The band's debut album netted them eight ARIA award nominations (ARIA is the Australian equivalent of the Grammys). They would end up winning four including Song of the Year for "Don't Dream It's Over." Over the years they would grab more nominations and wins. As of this posting they and earned 13 wins from 36 nominations. They currently rank 9th for most ARIA wins and tied for 6th for most nominations. In 2016, the band would be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. So what acts top the list for most wins/nominations as of this posting date? The rock band Silverchair leads in wins with 21 trophies. Singer/songwriter Paul Kelly has the most nominations at 59.

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Friday, August 7, 2020

"Painted Moon" by The Silencers

Song#:  3218
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  82
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This Scottish band was formed in 1986 by Jimme O'Neill and Cha Burns. Both had been members of the punk/new wave band Fingerprintz who had released three albums for Virgin Records between 1979 and 1981. While they didn't achieve widespread success, they had a good following. The band even got on the US Dance chart in 1982 with the #24 "The Beat Escape." After their third album, the band would break up. O'Neill and Burns went off and did their own projects for a few years before getting back together and forming a new band that would eventually be called The Silencers. The band would record a few demos that got the attention of RCA Records. With a deal in place, the band recorded and released this debut single. It got a little bit of attention in the UK reaching #57. The tune crossed over to the US and it did fairly well at Rock getting to #23. That result allowed it to get on the Pop chart for a few weeks. Their debut album, A Letter from St. Paul, would make it to #147. The Silencers would record four more albums for RCA and grab a few minor chart singles in the UK. In the US, their only other chart appearance would come in 1989 when "Razor Blades of Love" would get to #14 on the Modern Rock chart. The band would continue to perform over the years and release the occasional indie album.

ReduxReview:  When this song began to play I immediately thought of The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," which would be a hit in the UK in 1988 and then in the US in 1993. They were also a Scottish band. The songs are different, but the opening and feel of this track reminded me of that Proclaimers track. It also has a bit of Simple Minds and Tears for Fears tossed in. I like the track and it probably sounded good on the radio, but it doesn't necessarily have a big hooky chorus. It takes a few listens for the track to sink in a bit. Still, I doubt it will hang in my mind for very long.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This band shouldn't be confused with the Pittsburgh band of the same name. That new wave band grabbed a minor entry on the Pop chart in 1980 with "Shiver and Shake." They broke up a couple years later and that probably allowed the Scottish group to use the name in the US later (most likely with a payment to the original name holders). Other UK bands were not so lucky and had to alter their name for their US releases due to same name conflicts that could not be resolved. Yazoo became Yaz, The Beat became The English Beat, Suede became The London Suede, and so on. Even Wham! had to become Wham! UK for a brief period until George Michael struck a deal with the Nashville-based disco outfit of the same name.

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