Monday, December 31, 2012

"It's For You" by Player

Song#:  0201
Date:  06/07/1980
Debut:  82
Peak:  46
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Player hit it big out of the gate with their #1 song "Baby Come Back" in 1977 and followed it up with the #10 "This Time I'm In It for Love." But by 1979 there were no more hits and the band splintered in a major blow up leaving them without a label and an uncertain future. Three of the four original members finally reorganized and returned to recording. The resulting album "Room With a View" did not chart but it did manage to eke out this mid-chart single.

ReduxReview:  This fits in with those soft rock songs by the likes of Boz Scaggs or Kenny Loggins. It's a very nice tune but not outstanding. I think it is just lacking a stronger hook and that's what may have held it back on the chart. It's good, just not memorable.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Original member Ronn Moss left Player after this album to pursue an acting career. He got cast as Ridge Forrester on the daytime soap "The Bold and the Beautiful" in 1987 and remained on the series until he left in 2012.

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

"The Blue Side" by Crystal Gayle

Song#:  0200
Date:  06/07/1980
Debut:  83
Peak:  81
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  Gayle was ruling the country chart with her crossover sound during the 80s, but very few turned into pop hits. This song was a #8 country hit but lingered at the bottom of the pop chart for eight weeks. What is odd about this is that the song was only able to move up two positions from its debut spot in those weeks.

ReduxReview:  The song is reminiscent of her 1977 hit "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," just not as strong. However, it is a solid tune, a pleasant listen, and another nice vocal performance from Gayle. She has one of those unique voices that has a specific sound that is warm and inviting. It is a soothing if not powerful voice that can be quickly identified. For me, her material is hit or miss but the voice is always something great to hear.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Gayle's next single, "If You Ever Change Your Mind," hit #1 on the country chart (but did not make the pop chart). It also garnered her a 1981 Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Oddly, her competition in the category was Sissy Spacek who was nominated for her rendition of "Coal Miner's Daughter," the title song to the film where Spacek portrayed Gayle's sister Loretta Lynn. Both were bested for the award by Emmylou Harris.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Back of My Hand" by the Jags

Song#:  0199
Date:  06/07/1980
Debut:  86
Peak:  84
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Power Pop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  This UK group formed in 1978 and got quickly signed to Island records. They released an EP in the UK that featured this single. At the time, Elvis Costello was being considered the new king of UK pop and, perhaps unfairly, the Jags drew constant comparison to Costello. It dogged them through their debut disc in 1979, "Evening Standards," but this first single was strong enough to hit #17 on the UK chart. And even though Costello would get albums on the chart in the US, the Jags were quick to point out that they were able to get a song on the US pop singles chart before Costello could. This is true, but just barely as this song was almost a one-week wonder. After one more album the group would call it a day.

ReduxReview:  This is kind of a lost power pop song that probably should have gotten more attention. It's jangly, quirky, jittery, and pretty cool. It kind of reminds me more of The Romantics than Costello - or maybe an odd combo of both with a little Nick Lowe tossed in.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Their debut album was co-produced by Jon Astley (no relation to Rick Astley) who would go on to put a couple of songs on the pop chart in 1987-88. He also produced albums for Eric Clapton and Deborah Harry. His sister was married to Pete Townsend from 1968 to 2009.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

"Sisters of the Moon" by Fleetwood Mac

Song#:  0198
Date:  06/07/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  86
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The Mac's experimental 1979 "Tusk" album was still lingering on the album chart in 1980 after a lackluster appearance. Considered a failure at the time, especially when compared to "Rumours," fans and critics have come to embrace the epic album and have elevated it from cult status to a full-fledged classic. This fourth single - from an album with very little single-worthy songs - was issued and barely made a dent in the chart. The group would go on a brief hiatus during which time various members would go on to release solo albums with Stevie Nicks having the greatest success.

ReduxReview:  This is a pretty intense Nicks song for a single. I can see why it was not a chart success. Although some of the Nicks-penned Mac hits had their own dark feel, I don't think any of them were as grey as this one. Plus, there is no real hook to it - just a meandering melody. And Buckingham's screeching guitar solo doesn't help. It makes for a quality album cut, but for a radio single it seems a little too bleak and distant.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  There is a famous video of the 1982 Mirage tour where the group performs this song and turns it into an 8+ minute epic. At the end of her vocal performance, Stevie Nicks starts singing in an indecipherable manner. Because of that, the video performance became known as the "speaking in tongues" version of the song. Fans consider this one of her most intense and best performances.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

"I Can Survive" by Triumph

Song#:  0197
Date:  06/07/1980
Debut:  91
Peak:  91
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Hard Rock, Prog Rock



Pop Bits:  This Canadian power trio were often compared to their fellow countrymen Rush. But unlike Rush who had their critical successes, Triumph rarely got love from reviewers. That hardly mattered as they gained a large and loyal fan base through their tours and managed to sell ten consecutive gold or platinum albums in Canada. Breaking through to the US proved more difficult, but with their touring reputation and a few minor chart entries, the group managed to sell some albums here as well. This single from their album "Progressions of Power" came close to being a one-week wonder on the chart.

ReduxReview:  Besides being a Canadian rock trio, I don't find much in common with Rush. Especially since I like Rush. Triumph is more straight-ahead hard rock as demonstrated with this song. They are a talented group that have fired off a couple of good songs, but overall I tend to side with critics who were not impressed with their material. This is an okay song but it could be any rock band performing this. Triumph just didn't have that extra thing that makes a band identifiable.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Guitarist Ric Emmet had many influences and is proficient at many styles such as classical, bluegrass, and jazz. Each Triumph album has an instrumental song that showcases Emmet. On "Progressions of Power," that song is "Finger Talkin'," which highlights a flamenco style combined with a little folk/country.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"More Love" by Kim Carnes

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0196
Date:  05/31/1980
Debut:  75
Peak:  10
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  Before Carnes has a successful solo career, she had already been a player in the biz for several years. She was a member of the New Christy Minstrels in 1966 (along with Kenny Rogers) and was writing songs that were getting attention. Eventually, she and her husband Dave Ellingson co-wrote Kenny Rogers' concept album "Gideon," which featured the hit duet "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer." But with other songwriting successes and a couple of albums to her credit, solo success eluded her. This remake changed that and she finally hit the Top 10 on her own.

ReduxReview:  I will warn you ahead of time that I have been obsessed with Kim Carnes for many years. I think she is a terrific songwriter and artist. Although she obviously had some pretty big successes, I think she should have had a few more - although she actually did as others had hits with songs she wrote. Remaking a Motown classic is tricky, but I think she hits the mark with this one. And it should be noted that the original by Smoky Robinson and the Miracles only peaked at #23 in 1967, so Carnes's version did far better.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Earlier in the 70s, Carnes and Ellingson co-wrote some songs with David Cassidy. These appeared on two of his albums that came out during his heyday as a teen idol - "Rock Me Baby" and "Dreams Are Nuthin' More Than Wishes." The pair would also tour with Cassidy during that time.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Gimme Some Lovin'" by The Blues Brothers

Song#:  0195
Date:  05/31/1980
Debut:  77
Peak: 18
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Blues-Rock

Note: There will be no posts for the Christmas Eve/Christmas holidays. Have a very merry 80s Christmas!



Pop Bits:  I doubt it ever crossed their mind that when Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi donned bee costumes and performed a blues tune in a sketch on Saturday Night Live they would go on to revive some great soul/blues tunes, have a #1 album, and create a feature film as The Blues Brothers. But they did and did it well. The Bros phenomenon would be short-lived as the death of Belushi in 1982 would put a stop to the original duo, but the Bros would live on in different incarnations over the years featuring Ackroyd and others "brothers" such as Jim Belushi and John Goodman. The movie was a smash hit and the soundtrack featured this take on the Spencer Davis Group classic.

ReduxReview:  There were many back in the day that just considered The Blues Brothers a gimmick - a promotional/money making Hollywood thing. But really Ackroyd (and later Belushi) really listened to and studied blues and soul music. They were the real deal and not only performed on SNL as the musical guests, but also did tours and other live performances. I think their live shows were better than their studio work, but it is still not bad. Plus, it is hard to ruin such a great song as this. I wasn't a huge fan of the Blues Brothers, but I appreciate their work and the fact that they helped introduce a new generation to some great soul and blues classics.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  "The Blues Brothers" was the first film to be based off of characters stemming from Saturday Night Live. It is still the second-highest grossing of all SNL-based films behind 1992's "Wayne's World."

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

"In America" by Charlie Daniels Band

Song#:  0194
Date:  05/31/1980
Debut:  82
Peak:  11
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Country Rock, Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  After the smash success of Dainels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which was featured on the "Urban Cowboy" soundtrack, his next entry on the pop chart was this pro-America, rising up from the ashes song. It was a reflection of what was happening to the country around that time including the Iran hostage crisis. The song had a bit of a revival after the 9/11 attacks. It would be Daniels' last song to reach the pop Top 20.

ReduxReview:  Oh hell to tha no. Redneck country music and I do not go together like ebony and ivory and live in perfect harmony. This doesn't mean that I consider it bad music, but I just don't connect to it at all. Although nothing I'd choose to listen to, I do appreciate a song like "The Devil" as it really is a classic song of the time. This song adds more of a political spin which can rally some but also turn others off. I'm in the latter group. The whole song just makes me feel uncomfortable and slightly scared.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Along with some recordings by Leonard Cohen, Daniels played bass on three Bob Dylan albums before releasing his own recordings. Daniels appears on "Nashville Skyline," "Self Portrait," and "New Morning."

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Friday, December 21, 2012

"Shotgun Rider" by Joe Sun

Song#:  0193
Date:  05/31/1980
Debut:  87
Peak:  71
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  Joe Sun (real name James Paulsen) was a former DJ who decided to move to Nashville and see if he could make it in the music business. It took a few years, but he eventually signed with Ovation in 1977 and a year later released his debut album. His first country chart hit would be his biggest when "Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You" hit #14. He would go on to have more country chart song through to 1985, but this song would be his only entry on the pop charts.

ReduxReview:  This is a pretty good country crossover tune. I'm a bit surprised it didn't do better on the country chart. The arrangement sounds a bit dated these days, but it's a nice song even if not very memorable.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot! 1) Dolly Parton covered "Old Flames" in 1980 and took it to #1 on the country chart.  2) "Old Flames" was co-written by Hugh Moffatt and Patricia Rose Sebert. Sebert has a daughter who became a major pop star - Ke$ha. Ke$ha actually did her own version of "Old Flames" and put it on her "Deconstructed" EP, a bonus disc that came with the fan edition of her 2012 "Warrior" CD. Sebert has also co-written songs that appear on Ke$ha's albums.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Take Your Time (Do It Right)" by the S.O.S. Band

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  0192
Date:  05/31/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  3
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  This Atlanta band fronted by Mary Davis hit pay dirt the first time out with this #1 R&B single. Their debut album titled "S.O.S." was certified gold and hit #2 R&B (#12 pop). A major song like this is a great way to start a chart career, but can be awfully hard to follow-up, which the band encountered. They put a few more minor songs on the pop chart and had some better success on the R&B chart, but they would never reach the heights of this first single.


ReduxReview:  Noooooo! Not another long R&B/dance song! Again, I'm sure there was a single edit which probably makes it better. This apparently was a huge hit, but I have zero recollection on this one. And I'm not really sure why it was a big hit. It's a solid, if repetitive, song but definitely not outstanding. Not sure what it was, but something about the song clicked in 1980.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The band was originally called Santa Monica due to a particularly memorable performance there. But their new songwriter/producer suggested a name change to the S.O.S. Band.  S.O.S = Sounds of Success.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Time for Me to Fly" by REO Speedwagon

Song#:  0191
Date:  05/31/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  77
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  REO formed in 1967 and went through various changes throughout the early 70s as their albums failed to make any impact. However, their live shows were considered their forte and they convinced their label to release a live album. It was a good idea as it became their first real breakthrough album. Their studio follow-up, "You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish," did even better. This song was originally released in 1978 and peaked at #56 - their biggest single at the time. The song was reissued in 1980 when the label put out a catch-up compilation album, "A Decade of Rock and Roll 1970 to 1980," to cash in on their new found success. But REO's biggest success was just around the corner.

ReduxReview:  I was never much into REO at the time. These days I like some of their prime-time hits and this is a pretty good rock ballad, but they never fully hooked me in. I typically like unusual, immediately-recognizable singers, but there is something about REO's Kevin Cronin's voice that kind of grates me. He pronounces/sings some words strangely too. I remember back in the day less than a verse would make me change the radio station. I'm a bit more tolerable now...just a bit.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The band's name comes from an old flatbed truck that was first sold in 1915. It is considered the forerunner of the modern pickup truck. REO stood for the auto company's founder, Random E. Olds. The REO Speed Wagon (with REO pronounced as a word) was produced through to 1953. Band member Neal Doughty remembered the vehicle from a transportation class he took in college and suggested it. The band chose to pronounce each letter like R.E.O. rather than a word.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" by Billy Joel

#1 Alert
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0190
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  38
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Debuting inside the Top 40 was an impressive start to this second single from Joel's "Glass Houses" album. It would go on to become his first #1 hit on the chart and help him to win the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal in 1981, which was for the "Glass Houses" album.

ReduxReview:  This song has grown on me over the years. I really didn't like it when it first came out. In fact, I think I pretty much hated it. But times change and I have an appreciation for the song these days. Still not one of my favorite Joel songs, but it is probably the closest thing to a rock song that he wrote and performed well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song is Joel's statement about the changing styles of music, particularly punk and new wave. The lyrics are basically a conversation between a musician and his manager where the manager is trying to get the artist to adopt to the latest trends, fads, and sounds.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

"I'm Alive" by Electric Light Orchestra

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0189
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  71
Peak:  16
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Debuting the same week as Olivia Newton-John's "Magic" (see previous post) and just 3 positions higher, the first ELO single from the "Xanadu" soundtrack became one of the rare pop singles that received gold record certification without hitting the Top 10. Although they would go on and put a few more songs on the chart, their contributions to "Xanadu" would pretty much close the heyday of the group.

ReduxReview:  I dearly loves me the ELO, but this is not one of their most memorable. In fact, when this song came up, I had to think a minute as I couldn't remember how the tune sounded. It's still good ELO, just not great ELO.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  At the end of the song you can hear a keyboard start doing a "dit-da-dit-da-dit" pattern. This is actually Morse code and it spells out E-L-O.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Magic" by Olivia Newton-John

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0188
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  74
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Just like the character she played in the film "Grease," Newton-John transformed from an innocent AC/country chanteuse to a mainstream pop hot tamale. Her first post-"Grease" effort, "Totally Hot," placed far less emphasis on country and vamped up her look and sound. Her next film/music project was the infamous bomb "Xanadu," but despite the movies dismal box office, the soundtrack was a huge hit and Newton-John left country music in the dust and never looked back. The soundtrack to "Xanadu" featured a side of songs by Newton-John and a side of songs by the Electric Light Orchestra. This single would go on to be Newton-John's biggest hit up to that point.

ReduxReview:  This is just near-perfect pop. Everything clicked - great song, nice arrangement, and hot vocals. "Physical" would be the bigger hit, but I think this is really her peak. All her previous experience and different styles would culminate in this tune. She has some pretty great singles before and after, but I would probably place this at the top of the list.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  When publicist John J.B. Wilson saw a double feature of "Xanadu" and "Can't Stop the Music," it prompted him to begin giving awards for the worst movies of the year. These are now the famous Razzie Awards held one-day prior to the Academy Awards. Newton-John was nominated at the first Razzies for Worst Actress for "Xanadu." She lost (or is it really won?) to Brook Shields for her turn in "The Blue Lagoon."

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Angel Say No" by Tommy Tutone

Song#:  0187
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  77
Peak:  38
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Power Pop



Pop Bits:  Tommy Tutone formed in 1978 and released their self-titled debut two years later on Columbia. The album was modestly successful as was this lead single, which peaked just inside the Top 40. It was good enough for Columbia to ask for a second album. Good thing they did as their second album yielded one of the most recognizable hits of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  Yes, folks. Tommy Tutone had a song on the chart before "867-5309/Jenny." And yes, it is not that memorable. It's a little Springsteen/Mellencamp-lite tune that is alright, but not special in any way. But luckily it performed well enough so that our ears could be blessed with "Jenny" in a couple of years.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Tommy Tutone is not a person - just the group's name. Tommy Heath is indeed the lead singer and the original name was to be Tommy and the Tu-tone's, but it got shortened up to the more concise version.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

"Misunderstanding" by Genesis

Song#:  0186
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  80
Peak:  14
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Genesis was formed in 1967 with Peter Gabriel at the helm. During this era, the band was in total prog rock mode with thematic albums and stage shows of high theatrics and costumes. By the time 1974's massive double-LP "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" was finished, Gabriel was done and left the group for a solo career. The group then held auditions for a new lead singer, but ultimately they decided the group's drummer, Phil Collins, could do the job. And so the Collins era began and their sound started to move away from prog rock into more mainstream territory. It began to pay off with their 1980 album "Duke" and this lead single. It would still be a few years before they became massive hit-making stars, but even by this time, fans of Genesis were divided into two camps - the prog-rock Gabriel years and the hit-heavy Collins years.

ReduxReview:  I have to admit that I tend toward the Collins years. Mainly because I grew up on it and that was what I knew as "Genesis." I didn't really discover the earlier years until much later. I do like a lot of the Gabriel-led stuff, but since I'm more of a pop person than a prog-rock person, the later Genesis just suits me better. I'm pretty sure this was the first Genesis song I ever heard. I remember liking it and thought the singer's voice was kind of unusual. And I liked the "woo-woo-woo-woo-woo's."

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Harking back to their earlier prog-rock days, "Duke" was supposed to have a song suite that told the story of a character named "Albert." But the band split up the songs on the LP fearing that it may seem similar to a well-known Gabriel-era 23-minute song suite, "Supper's Ready" from 1972's "Foxtrot" album.  2) Collins took a break from Genesis and wrote some songs on his own. "Misunderstanding" and "Please Don't Ask" are two songs from the bunch that the group chose to record for "Duke." Several of the other songs Collins wrote ended up on his solo debut "Face Value."

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"Walks Like a Lady" by Journey

Song#:  0185
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  83
Peak:  32
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Journey's third hit album in a row was their biggest yet. "Departure" peaked at #8 in part due to the success of the first single "Any Way You Want It" (Redux #0075). This second single got inside the Top 40 but was not nearly as memorable as that lead-off track.

ReduxReview:  For me, this song really doesn't sound like Journey. And it doesn't even sound like a good single choice. It's more like a pause between arena rockers. Most of their early chart songs ended up being big rock radio standards, but this is not one of them. It's an interesting tune in their catalog, but one of their weakest singles.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Keyboardist and founding member Gregg Rolie decided to leave Journey after "Departure." This would be the second major hot group he would end up leaving. Prior to Journey, Rolie was a founding member of Santana. He sang the lead on two of their Top 10 hits, "Black Magic Woman" and "Evil Ways." He made a decision to leave the group in 1971, but by 1973 he was back in another band along with another former Santana member, guitarist Neil Schon. This new band would become Journey.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

"And the Cradle Will Rock" by Van Halen

Song#:  0184
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  55
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock, Hard Rock



Pop Bits:  Van Halen's third album, "Women and Children First," is where their maturity as a band began to break through. All songs on the album were written by the band and the sound was heavier than their previous platters. The album was well-received and hit the Top 10, but there was little in the way of singles to promote. This lead track was the only one lifted from the album to be a single. It may have been a little too much for pop radio to handle at the time so it lingered mid-chart. But they would soon end up with much bigger hits in the David Lee Roth-era of the band.

ReduxReview:  Now we are talkin' some rock. Probably like most folks I liked some of the songs from later iterations of VH (aka Van Hagar, etc.), but the Roth period is da bomb. I don't connect with all songs of theirs, but when one hits me, it hits pretty big. This song is chunky, groovy, nutty, and delicious.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This album was the first VH release to feature a keyboard. In fact, the opening lick on "And the Cradle" is often mistaken for a guitar when it really is a phaser'd-amp'd-up keyboard which chugs throughout the song. Also, as a refresher from an earlier post, this album also features the only female vocal on a VH album. Nicolette Larson appears on "Could This Be Magic."

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"Take You Tonight" by Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Song#:  0183
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  86
Peak:  67
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  The Daredevils hail from Springfield, Missouri, a larger town just north of the now-famous music/resort town of Branson. Signed by A&M, they released their self-titled debut album in 1974 which included their #25 signature tune "If You Wanna Get to Heaven. A year later they had a smash hit with "Jackie Blue" (#3). After that, their fortunes dwindled and there were label hassles, personnel changes, and no hit singles. They moved over to Columbia in 1979 and had one lone album with them that spawned this minor chart entry. Columbia dropped them and it would be their last album for seventeen years.

ReduxReview:  Here is some big-ass whuppin' Southern Rock. It just reeks of Miller Lite, long dirty hair, jiggly "woo-girls," and motorcycle fumes. In other words - it ain't my thang. I don't necessarily dislike this song, but it ain't no "Jackie Blue." If you wanna get a taste of what this music reminds me of, watch this opening clip from a real documentary called "Dancing Outlaw." It uses "If You Wanna Get to Heaven." (P.S.: "Dancing Outlaw" is freakin' awesome - check it out if you can find it. Or ask me. I have a copy, plus its two sequels - the last one done by Johnny Knoxville.)



ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The band was originally called "Family Tree," but later found out another group was using that name so they had to change it. Apparently there was a "naming party" held and the resulting name was Cosmic Corn Cob and His Amazing Ozark Mountain Daredevils. It seems no band member actually want to be Cosmic Corn Cob, so the name was shortened accordingly.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Everything Works If You Let It" by Cheap Trick

Song#:  0182
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  44
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock, Power Pop



Pop Bits:  But they're big in Japan... Cheap Trick owe much to their Japanese fans. Their first three albums didn't see much action in the US, but in Japan they became megastars. This culminated in their 1979 live album "Cheap Trick Live at Budokan," which was originally intended for the the Japanese market only. But the demand in the US for the import was so great that the label released it here and it produced their biggest selling single "I Want You to Want Me," a song that had already been a hit in Japan from their "In Color" album. Now established in the US, they would continue to have a few successful albums and singles, but nowhere near the stardom they experienced in Japan. Their first single of the 80s was this song featured on the soundtrack to the film "Roadie."

ReduxReview:   The power pop kings almost lean a little into Southern Rock on this one. At least the chorus reminds me of some SR grooviness. This one grew on me. It wasn't one of my favorites in their catalog, mainly because it just didn't stick with me as much as songs like "Surrender." But it's a good tune and I found myself jammin' to this a few times.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  As previously discussed, the band Alice Cooper found their name via a ouija board. There was a popular rumor at the time that Cheap Trick found their name the same way. However, the band got their name when they attended a concert by the band Slade. One band member commented that Slade used every cheap trick in the book as part of their act. A name was born.

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"Slipstream" by Allan Clarke

Song#:  0181
Date:  05/24/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  70
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Along with his good friend Graham Nash, Clarke formed The Hollies in 1962. The UK group was far more popular in their homeland than in the US. They already had eight Top 10 hits, including a #1, by the time they finally hit the US Top 10 in 1966 with "Bus Stop" (#5). When Graham Nash left the group in 1968, Clarke basically took lead of the group doing most of the writing and lead vocals. Clarke also left the group in 1971, but soon after he left, the group had their biggest US hit with "Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)" (#2), which Clarke co-wrote and sang the lead vocal before his departure. He returned to the fold in 1973 and remained in the group until his retirement in 1999. Along the way, he released several solo albums, none of which made much of an impact. But this single from 1980's "Legendary Heroes" nicked the chart.

ReduxReview:  Although lacking some of the recognizable harmonies of The Hollies, this is not too far from the material the group was doing around this period. So even though it is Clarke solo, I could hear this as a Hollies tune. It's got a pretty good chorus and has a bit of an ELO-ish feel to it. Not terrific, but solid.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The Hollies' album "Distant Light" was not successful in the UK, not even charting, and Clarke left the group. They signed with a new label and released the single "The Baby" with new lead singer Mikael Rickfors. Their old label decided to lift Clarke's "Long Cool Woman" from "Distant Light" as a competing single. It did not do well in the UK (#32), but in the US where "Distant Light" had yet to be released, it became a gold record and the album even hit #21.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Cupid/I've Loved You For a Long Time" by the Spinners

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0180
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:   67
Peak:  4
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, R&B



Pop Bits:  This Detroit area group first hit the charts in 1961 and although they were well-regarded, they could only manage a few minor chart songs throughout the 60s. Folklore has it that Aretha Franklin told them to finish their current record contract and then move over to Atlantic, which they did. The change of label and hooking up with producer/songwriter Thom Bell was the key and they began a series of hit singles starting with 1972's #3 "I'll Be Around." The late 70s found them in a lull but they came zooming back with the #2 medley "Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl." They kept the same medley formula for this next single and it came close to replicating the other's success. But it would prove to be their last pop Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  These two medleys were really well done and the formula was great - take a classic 60s song, update it with a modern beat and pair it with a new composition (both secondary songs by Michael Zager). These were all over the radio back in the day. I prefer "Working My Way..." to this one, mainly because I like that lead song far better than "Cupid," but both are very successful and the new song they are each tied to works as well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  A case of the 8's. See if you can follow this: the song title is 28 letters from 8 words, the song was at the #8 position on the pop chart on 8/8/80, performed by the Spinners (8-letter main name), on the Atlantic (8 letters) label, and the first song of the medley written by Sam Cooke (yup, 8 letters). This can be stretched out a bit more by saying they had parted ways with Thom Bell (8 letters) and he was not a part of this chart success.

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"Atomic" by Blondie

Song#:  0179
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  71
Peak:  39
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock, New Wave



Pop Bits:  Blondie's biggest hit, "Call Me" from the "American Gigolo" soundtrack, was still at #1 when this third single was released from their album "Eat to the Beat." That album was having just minor success here in the US, so getting one of the biggest songs of the year with "Call Me" was welcome and kept them going. The momentum of that song probably pushed this single up the chart further than it might have done without it, but it was still not a major hit for them. However, in the UK the song did reach #1.

ReduxReview:  This is kind of like "Heart of Glass" meets Ennio Morricone - spaghetti new wave. It works just fine but it pales in comparison to "Call Me" and may not have been the best follow-up single. Especially when there are more instrumental passages than vocal. I think the song was appreciated more in later days, but at the time it was released as a single, US folks just didn't really get it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  "Atomic" was also the third single released from the album in the UK, but unlike the US, all three songs were released before "Call Me" came out with "Atomic" hitting #1. Because of the success of these three singles, plans were made to release a fourth single in the UK. "Slow Motion" was set to be release and a special mix was even created, but due to the huge success of "Call Me," the single was scrapped and this specific singles mix still remains unreleased.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

"One Fine Day" by Carole King

Song#:  0178
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  73
Peak:  12
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  King had written dozens of hit songs with writing partner (and husband) Gerry Goffin during the 60s, but her solo career was a slow starter. That changed in a major way when she released the album "Tapestry" in 1971. It was an enormous success and became the best selling album by a solo artist at that time. No one would touch that record until Michael Jackson's "Thriller" came along more than a decade later. After "Tapestry," her success was spotty. She still sold albums and put songs in the Top 10, but by 1977 her chart career was coming to an end. After a three-year chart drought, King recorded an album of songs that her and Goffin wrote for other artists. The first single was this remake of The Chiffon's 1963 hit (#5).

ReduxReview:  King's take on her own girl group classic doesn't stray too far from the original. She does take it in more of a straight-ahead modern pop direction rather than keeping it based in the 60s, which makes it sound fresh rather than dated.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  It has been reported that King wrote or co-wrote 118 songs that appeared on the Billboard Top 100 pop chart. This was from 1955 through 1999 making her the most successful female songwriter of that time period.

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"All Night Long" by Joe Walsh

Song#:  0177
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  74
Peak:  19
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Country Rock



Pop Bits:  Joe Walsh was already a success with the James Gang and Barnstorm before joining the Eagles in 1975. He had one solo disc out while he was with the Eagles which included the hit "Life's Been Good" (#12) and after the breakup of the band in 1980 he continued with his solo career. His first single release was this song that was on the "Urban Cowboy" soundtrack. It would take him another year to release is first post-Eagles album.

ReduxReview:  Walsh is frustrating to me. He has some terrific songs, but then some really un-terrific songs. This one kind of falls in the middle. Country rock is not my thang but this is a pretty good bar stomper. I just would not put it on my list of favorite Joe Walsh tunes.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Walsh has been involved with Amateur Radio (ham radio) for many years. He holds an Amateur Extra Class license and his station call sign is WB6ACU.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Back Together Again" by Roberta Flack with Donny Hathaway

Song#:  0176
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  76
Peak:  56
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Flack and Hathaway were starting to record an album together and had two tracks done when he unfortunately committed suicide. Flack added songs to the two and released the album "Roberta Flack with Donny Hathaway." It's first single, "You Are My Heaven" (Redux #0049) peaked at #47. This second single was the other duet they had recorded and it had about the same success as the first.

ReduxReview:  Ugh - a 9+ minute R&B song? Really? That kills it for me. I'm sure this had a single edit, but I couldn't find one anywhere, which is too bad. I might have liked it more. This is just unnecessarily long and I lost interest about the 4 minute mark. Even in edited form I'm not sure it would be a favorite. It has a nice groove, but there is nothing really outstanding about the song. Honestly, the last half of the song is the same section of music vamping over and over. Cut your losses and stop at the 4 minute mark. It's all over by then.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. The album got Flack a nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

"Clones (We're All)" by Alice Cooper

Song#:  0175
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  77
Peak:  40
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock, New Wave



Pop Bits:  Cooper's solo career started out great with his "Welcome to My Nightmare" concept album. But between his alcohol issues and lack of quality material and critics no longer taking him seriously, his successive albums couldn't replicate the success of "Nightmare." He did pinch off a couple of hit singles along the way, most notably the #9 "I Never Cry," but it wasn't enough. As the 80s blew in, Cooper took a dive into the new wave waters with the album "Flush the Fashion." The new sound confused listeners, but years later many fans considered the album a lost gem. This lead single just barely managed to hit the Top 40 and would be his last chart entry for six years.

ReduxReview:  Yeah, new wave did not fit Cooper like a glove, but I do like this single. It is like Gary Numan meets The Cars. I was (still am) a huge fan of "Nightmare" and even the later album "From the Inside" I really liked. But this was the point I lost interest in Cooper - like many others did.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Alice Cooper was originally the name of the band, not the person. His real name is Vincent Furnier and his band got the name Alice Cooper from a ouija board session. The wholesome sounding name was chosen because it was the opposite of the band's image and music. Furnier later legally change his name to Alice Cooper, which then helped avoid any legal issues when he embarked on his solo career.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

"All Night Thing" by The Invisible Man's Band

Song#:  0174
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  79
Peak:  45
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B, Soul



Pop Bits:  In 1965 a group of five siblings (last name Burke) began a vocal group call The Five Stairsteps. In the late 60s they had some Top 20 R&B hits with most making to the lower rungs of the pop chart. They had their peak in 1970 when their now-classic single, "O-o-h Child" went to #8 and became a gold record. But the hits stopped soon after and the group disbanded. However, four of the Burke's reformed in 1979 as The Invisible Man's Band and released an album that featured this track. Although not a big pop hit, it did return them to the R&B Top 10. A second album didn't generate attention and the group split with the siblings going their own ways. Three of them still work in music while the rest of the family have gone on to their own careers in other fields.

ReduxReview:  Oh crap. Another 6+ minute R&B tune. Yeah, I know this one is more for the dance market, but still, a quality single can get the point across in 3-4 minutes. Here is my view:  wreck up the radio in a short time and leave folks wanting to hear it again. Long songs = boring and repetitive. This song peaked at around the 4 minute mark. If they had cut the long intro and tail end, this would be a solid funky single. Actually, I'm sure they did some edit for the radio but I can't find it. So I'm stuck with this version - and it is too long. However, I'd rate it better than most.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Burke's story was similar to the Jackson's before they came along. Five siblings from the Chicago area made up the group with a sixth youngster briefly joining later. Plus, there were three more brothers who did not participate in the group. When they began having R&B hits, they garnered the nickname "the first family of soul." Of course the Jackson 5 would soon overshadow the group and become far more successful.

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"Dancin' Like Lovers" by Mary MacGregor

Song#:  0173
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  83
Peak:  72
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Discovered by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary, MacGregor burst onto the pop scene when her first single, "Torn Between Two Lovers," topped the chart in 1976. Follow-up singles were far less successful and after two albums she was let go from her label. However, she recorded "Good Friend" for the soundtrack to the Bill Murray movie "Meatballs" for the RSO label and it scratched the Top 40. It was enough to make RSO sign her for an album. This was the second single released and it's low performance did not encourage the label to ask for another album. It was a quick shot of fame for MacGregor and she basically left the industry and worked night clubs and other gigs.

ReduxReview:  The waltz-ballad is one of my least favorite styles of pop. It had better be a damn good song to rise above the oom-pa-pa feeling. This one is just okay. I think the chorus works fine but in the verses I still just hear 1-2-3, 1-2-3...

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Peter Yarrow not only discovered MacGregor, but he also wrote her signature tune "Torn Between Two Lovers." The song proved so popular that it inspired a TV movie that used the song and its title. It aired in 1979 and starred Lee Remick.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Is This Love" by Pat Travers Band

Song#:  0172
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  50
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Canada is not necessarily known for supplying blues-rock artists, but Travers is probably the most universally known and appreciated. However, it took a move to London for him to get signed to a label - Polydor. His self-title debut came out in 1976 and garnered attention, but it wasn't until 1978 that he broke through to the US market. His most successful album was 1980's "Crash and Burn," which featured this single. But in many ways it is not the most popular song from the album. The song "Snortin' Whisky" was a top rock radio hit and became one of his most well-known songs. Travers would not hit the pop chart again and by the mid-80s his sales were in deep decline and he was without a label contract. He still continues to tour and record and has been cited as a major influence by many guitar players.

ReduxReview:  As remakes go (see below), I guess this one is okay. It's pretty faithful to the original, but has more of a slick sound to it which takes away some of Marley's exotic edge. I don't mind it at all, but I highly prefer the original.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of Bob Marley's famous song from his 1978 "Kaya" album. It never charted here in the US (it hit #9 in the UK) by Marley and this version by Travers is the only one that has.  2) Travers resides in Florida and holds a Black Belt in Isshin Ryu Karate.

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"Stand By Me" by Mickey Gilley

Song#:  0171
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  85
Peak:  22
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Country, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  As the 80s rolled in, Gilley was in a slight slump. The mid-70s brought him seven #1 country hits but as the new decade approached the sound of country was moving towards a crossover sound and his straight-ahead country/honky tonk music was losing popularity. But the film "Urban Cowboy" would change that. Based on Gilley's Pasadena, Texas, bar, the film and its soundtrack would make the new pop-country sound extremely popular and Gilley rode that wave with this remake of the Ben E. King standard, which hit #1 on the country chart. It brought a new audience to him along with five more consecutive country #1's. Although this would be his biggest pop hit, he remained a fixture on the country chart through 1989.

ReduxReview:  Alright, let the grief head my way now. I know this is a classic song beloved by millions of people. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. I have just never liked the song and I can't even tell you why. I can tolerate Ben E. King's original on rare occasions, but remakes like this one just make things worse. I was able to listen to this once. Don't make me cowboy up and do it again.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  The original Gilley's bar, featured in "Urban Cowboy," was opened in 1971 - three years before Gilley's first country hit, "Room Full of Roses," would top the chart. The giant bar featuring the famous mechanical bull and small rodeo arena would be the touchstone of the "Urban Cowboy Movement" and was called the world's biggest honky tonk. It was closed in 1989 and in 1990 the bar's interior was gutted in a major fire. The property was finally razed in 2006 and is now the site of a middle school.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"I Only Wanna Be with You" by The Tourists

Song#:  0170
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  87
Peak:  83
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  The Tourists had some good success in their UK homeland with three charting albums and two Top 10 singles, with this one being their biggest reaching #4. This would be their only US chart song, but the group is now more famous for being the launching pad for two of its members who would go on to have tremendous success - Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox, aka Eurythmics. Stewart formed the group (originally called The Catch) with Peet Coombes and they found Lennox who joined the group and also dated Stewart. By the time their third album was released in 1980, the group was having legal, internal, and creative issues and finally just called it quits. Although Stewart and Lennox would also break-up, they continued their musical partnership which would take off in a big way in 1983. "Sweet Dreams" indeed.

ReduxReview:  This is pretty hilarious. I dearly love Annie Lennox and there is just something about this girly song combined with her alto voice and whip cracks that make it more kitchy and kinky than what the songwriters had probably ever intended. It all doesn't seem to go together - like PJ Harvey covering a Debbie Gibson song - but it kind of works; all except for Lennox's pedestal dancing. Who could even guess that three short years later this awkward pixie would be famously blazing up the screen in a suit and short red hair intensely waving a riding crop and telling you what sweet dreams are made of.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was originally a hit for Dusty Springfield in 1964 when it peaked at #12. It was Springfield's first solo single and she was the second artist of the British Invasion to hit the pop chart, following the Beatles. The Bay City Rollers tied her #12 peak with their version in 1976.

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"Somethin' 'Bout You Baby I Like" by Glen Campbell & Rita Coolidge

Song#:  0169
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  42
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  Coolidge's pop peak was in 1977 with two gold Top 10's in a row, while the same year saw Campbell scoring his second #1, "Southern Nights." Neither artist would see the pop Top 10 again as the 80s approached, but they almost reached the Top 40 as a duet with this peppy song, the first single from Campbell's album of the same name.

ReduxReview: This country jam actually did better on the pop chart than on country. Maybe the rock 'n roll flavor suited pop radio better with Southern rock/boogie groups getting airplay. It is a pretty good tune with a driving sound, but not outstanding. I think it shows a period of time where Campbell was really struggling to secure quality tunes and adapt to the changing musical landscape. Regardless, he is an awesome musician and his recent retirement due to Alzheimer's was certainly sad. I was fortunate enough to work with him for a short time and he was always wonderful to be around.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Before his solo career, Campbell was a member of "The Wrecking Crew," a particular group of session musicians that performed on tons of recordings by major artists like the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the 5th Dimension, and the Carpenters. They also performed on TV theme songs, film scores, and ad jingles as well. A 2008 documentary called "The Wrecking Crew" was about the folks who were these "first-call" session musicians. Leon Russell and drummer Hal Blaine were also big names associated with the group.  2) Back in 1970, Coolidge was just starting off her career and ended up dating Stephen Stills. She left Stills for his band mate Graham Nash (they both were in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at that time). The group split after their 1970 tour and although they were having their own internal issues that lead to the break-up, this romantic switcheroo certainly didn't help matters.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Love and Loneliness" by The Motors

Song#:  0168
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  89
Peak:  78
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This British pub rock band came together in 1977 and had some early success in the UK with their single "Dancing the Night Away" (later covered by Cheap Trick in 1983) and the #4 "Airport." But the band splintered in 1978 with two original members continuing on to record a third Motors album, "Tenement Steps" The first single from the album was this song which was their only US chart entry. The Motors called it a day for good in 1982.

ReduxReview:  This is an interesting song. It's like a mash-up of Springsteen, Blondie, and Styx that works pretty well. There are crashing guitars, loud keyboards, and a Spector-ish sound that push the amps to eleven. Some of their other tunes are quite good as well and different from this - "Forget About You" is 60s pop while "Tenement Steps" is practically Broadway. I like this group and they may need further exploration.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Band member Bram Tchaikovsky started a solo career after leaving the group and briefly had success with his album "Strange Man, Changed Man" in 1979. The album peaked at #36 and he got a Top 40 hit from it with the #37 power pop song "Girl of My Dreams."

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"A Lover's Holiday" by Change

Song#:  0167
Date:  05/17/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  40
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Disco, Dance



Pop Bits:  Change was a studio group formed by Jacques Fred Petrus and Maruo Malavasi in 1979. Petrus took care of business and executive duties while Malvasi did most of the songwriting and production work. Typically, the music would be recorded in Italy and then taken to New York where vocals would be recorded. Although they didn't have great success on the pop chart (this would be their biggest hit), they did light up the dance chart and hit #1 with their Chic-inspired sound. This helped their debut album "The Glow of Love" go gold.

ReduxReview:  As they might have said on American Bandstand during the Rate-a-Record segment, "it's got a good beat and I can dance to it. I'd give it a 72." In other words, I can see how this could light up the Studio 54 dance floor, but as a radio pop single, it's kind of boring. So you can snooze to it or dance to it; your choice.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  One vocalist that was with the group initially was a then-unknown Luther Vandross. He sang lead on the album's title track as well as "Searching." These two songs helped to establish Vandross as a lead singer and very soon he would strike out on a successful solo career. He was to also sing on Change's follow-up album, but due to contract disagreements Vandross refused to do any further lead vocal work and he was replaced. I think it worked out well for him.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

"Tired of Toein' the Line" by Rocky Burnette

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  0166
Date:  05/10/1980
Debut:  71
Peak:  8
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock, Rockabilly



Pop Bits:  The timing for this single was just right. Rockabilly was starting to creep back into the mainstream and before The Stray Cats would hit big with the genre, Burnette grabbed his one and only chart hit with this tune. Unfortunately, his label, EMI America, was in serious financial troubles and promotion of a second single and follow-up album were practically nil and he was not able to get back on the chart again, leaving him a legacy of being a one-hit wonder. Label woes would plague Burnette through his recording career, but he maintained a solid fan base and still continues to perform.

ReduxReview:  This is a really good lost song. I remember either hearing it or seeing him on TV and liking the song, but I never bought it and forgot about the song. A few years ago something brought the song to mind and I went looking for it. I don't think too many people from this time period remember the song, but they should. It's a solid tune and it's a shame he got lost in the corporate label shuffles.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Burnette's father was rock n' roll pioneer Johnny Burnette. Along with his brother Dorsey and Paul Burlison, they were The Rock and Roll Trio in the 50s. Both brothers later tried going solo with Johnny hitting with the Top 10 "You're Sixteen" in 1960. He died in 1964 in a boating accident.

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"Power" by The Temptations

Song#:  0165
Date:  05/10/1980
Debut:  73
Peak:  43
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Soul



Pop Bits:  The Temptations were one of the most successful soul groups to come out of Motown. They put sixteen songs in the pop Top 10 (with four #1's) and scored fourteen #1's on the R&B chart. As the 70s were closing, The Temps were in a slump. Their last pop Top 40 song was in 1975 and their last Top 10 in 1973. It didn't help that tensions in the group were running high which culminated in the firing of Dennis Edwards, who the group thought was being pushed further out as a front man. After a decade of hits, The Temps also decided to leave Motown for Atlantic. Their two albums for the label failed to produce any hits and so back to Motown they went, even re-hiring Dennis Edwards. Their first album after rejoining Motown was "Power" and the title song was the first single, but it failed to make any significant impact. Except for 1991 single "The Motown Song" (#10) where the group backed Rod Stewart, The Temps would not reach the pop Top 40 again.

ReduxReview:  While not a stellar song in their catalog, this is still a good groovin' song driven by a cool vocal bass line. Although they would never recapture their hit-making days, this song did show that they still had gas in the tank.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The Temptations won four Grammys in their career. Their first was in 1972 for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group for their hit "Papa Was a Rollin, Stone." This was the first Grammy award win for any Motown artist.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Run Like Hell" by Pink Floyd

Song#:  0164
Date:  05/10/1980
Debut:  80
Peak:  53
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  Pink Floyd was riding high at the time with their #1 album "The Wall" and it's freak #1 single "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" (Redux #0021). But when you are primarily known as an album-oriented group and your current album is high-concept and it spun off an unexpected #1 song, how do you follow it up? They attempted a second single with "Run Like Hell," a similarly driving rocker that is more instrument driven than vocal. Although memorable with it's ringing guitar chords, it didn't have the same brooding groove or hook as "Another Brick" and therefore couldn't even get halfway up the chart. A third single was attempted, but no one bit. However, it did become a classic rock radio tune - "Comfortably Numb." Perhaps if this had been the second single, they might have gotten a bigger hit. But it really doesn't matter. "The Wall" was an enormous smash and did fine on it's own merit.  

ReduxReview:  I had always thought "Comfortably Numb" was the follow-up single and hit the chart. I was wrong. I'm quite familiar with this song, but I don't remember it being on the radio at all. Even in later days on rock radio. So I was surprised to find it had hit the chart. Obviously when listening to "The Wall" everything kind of melds and is great. But it's a little different isolating them on their own as singles. "Another Brick" worked and I think "Comfortably Numb" did, but this one not so much. Great music, just not a great single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After the 9/11 attacks, both TV and radio took some steps to be sensitive and alter programming accordingly in response. Clear Channel famously distributed an internal list (which soon became external) to its 1,200 radio stations of songs that they suggest not being played. While there are some obvious choice that seem appropriate, like "War" or "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," there are some that seem to be reaching a bit like Petula Clark's "A Sign of the Times." Included on the list where two from Pink Floyd: "Mother" and "Run Like Hell." Oh, there was one artist who's entire catalog was on the list - Rage Against the Machine.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Let Me Love You Tonight" by Pure Prairie League

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0163
Date:  05/10/1980
Debut:  81
Peak:  10
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Country Rock



Pop Bits:  Pure Prairie League had their first official line-up in place in 1970, but through the years had numerous personnel. They had varying success in the 70s and early 80s with their peak being this song from their album "Firin' Up." Like other acts such as Captain & Tennille, they were on the Casablanca label when it started to fizzle. When the label went belly-up, they were without a contract and never really recovered. However, they remained a successful touring act and a version of the band performs currently.

ReduxReview:  This is just a nice reliable tune. Pleasant to listen too and it kind of makes you sway back and forth. It's nothing that I would rush out and buy, but it is always a pleasure to listen to when it comes up on the radio or in a playlist.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Part of the personnel changes mentioned above was bringing in a couple of new replacements in 1978. One of those happened to be Vince Gill. He joined the band and stayed with them for two albums, leaving in 1982 when the group lost their Casablanca contract. Gill is the lead singer on this single. It was his first major hit and he would have many more as a solo country artist.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

"Inside of You" by Ray, Goodman & Brown

Song#:  0162
Date:  05/10/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  76
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B, Soul



Pop Bits:  The group just had a major success with the gold #5 "Special Lady" (Redux #0024) and their self-titled debut under this new moniker (they were previously The Moments) was in the process of going gold and hitting #17 on the pop album chart. They followed up with this second single which didn't make much of an impact on the pop chart, but did go Top 20 on the R&B chart.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't the biggest fan of "Special Lady" and this one is along the same lines but maybe a bit more on the pop side. They do have really nice vocals and I like the mini-vocal breakdown mid-song, but as I said of their previous song, good but bland. I think it is just me - I'm not keen on this style of R&B I guess.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Harry Ray passed away suddenly in 1992. The group continued on, keeping the name and replacing Ray with Kevin Owens. This line-up has appeared with Alicia Keys and provided vocal support on her second album, "The Diary of Alicia Keys" in 2003.

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"Happy Together (A Fantasy)" by the Captain & Tennille

Song#:  0161
Date:  05/10/1980
Debut:  85
Peak:  53
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  This remake of The Turtles' 1967 #1 hit was the third single from C&T's gold album "Make Your Move." It was also the last song of their to hit the pop chart bringing a close to their peak era that saw them get seven Top 10 hits, including two #1's. This particular song was one that they performed in concert through the years expanding it to include a "fantasy" section that sounded like something from the Arabian Nights. It was popular with audiences and they recorded it for their album. C&T would go on to have one more album after this, but their label Casablanca was slowly disintegrating and it didn't get promoted and failed to generate any chart action. Toni Tennille had a fondness for vocal jazz and later in the 80s began releasing solo recordings of old standards. They are still together and perform on occasion.

ReduxReview:  I used to love, love, love this version of the song. All the keyboard sounds and the fantasy part really intrigued me. I still like it these days, but it is so over the top and strange that I can practically hear all The Turtles retreat to their shells to avoid it...but they can't. It's too gigantic. It's like "Lawrence of Arabia" meets Jim Steinman. It ain't quite right, but keeps your attention.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  During their peak years, Toni Tennille also worked as a session vocalist. She was featured on three Elton John albums including the hit "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." She also sang on Pink Floyd's "The Wall" album. There is a story that Tennille went to see a Floyd concert and the kid in front of her recognized who she was and said, "what are YOU doing here?" She told him she sang on the album. The kid didn't believe her and went to track down a friend who had the album with him. When he saw her name in the credits he came back, apologized, and asked for her autograph.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

"King of the Hill" by Rick Pinette and Oak

Redux Spotlight Alert!
Song#:  0160
Date:  05/10/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  36
Weeks:  14
Genre: Soft Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  Here is a lost group that has very little reference that I can find. From what I can gather, the band Oak was from New Hampshire. They formed in 1969 and hit the bar band circuit. The band would split and reform several times before really setting sights on being a full-time successful group. They finally got their shot at the big time when they signed with Mercury. I believe their band name was originally Pinette (Rick Pinette was the lead singer/writer), but Mercury didn't like it and the band became Oak. Their first single, "This Is Love," hit the chart and peaked at #58 in 1979. Further singles would be credited to Rick Pinette and Oak. This song was their biggest chart hit and it would be followed up with one more album and chart single before the band would split.

ReduxReview:  As I've said before, this is a big part of the reason why I'm doing this project. This song was a fun find. It is a big-ass ballad with everything but the kitchen sink. It scratched the Top 40, but it reminds me of one of those songs that wasn't big the first time around, but was rediscovered years later and went Top 10 - like the group Sheriff whose song "When I'm With You" peaked at #61 in 1983 and then reappeared in 1989 and went to #1. Unfortunately, this song didn't have a second life but I'm glad I discovered it. Yes, I know it is not a brilliant song, but I really love it - the opening piano riff, Pinette's big voice, the strings, the horn, the big last note. Totally awesome. The vinyl of their self-titled debut was slightly hard to find, but I got one coming my way! This is very deserving of a Spotlight mention.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After the band split, Pinette formed the Rick Pinette Band and toured all around the northeast. It appears that he gave up the music business and is now a motivational speaker located in Florida. He does corporate events and also school assemblies where he incorporates music and goes by "Mr. Rick."

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"Ashes By Now" by Rodney Crowell

Song#:  0159
Date:  05/10/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  37
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  It's quite surprising that this is Crowell's only pop chart song. With several hits on the country chart and accolades for his songwriting, his solo work seemed like it would have broken through a bit more in pop. The song is from his second solo album "But What Will the Neighbors Think." Over the course of eight years Crowell's country audience grew and in 1988 he released his most famous album "Diamonds & Dirt." Five singles were released from this album and all of them hit #1 on the country chart. Yet, all of them failed to hit the pop chart and even the album failed to make it. Very strange. However, other artists had success with Crowell's songs and even this one was remade in 2000 by Lee Ann Womack and became a #4 country hit and a #48 pop entry.

ReduxReview:  Crowell is an excellent songwriter. This one is no exception. It may take a couple of listens to really click, but when it does, you might find yourself hooked. It's a slow burner and has a nice late-70s country pop sound. Womack's version adds some percussion and kicks up the beat a bit. It's a good reading, but I actually prefer Crowell's simmering statement.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) On the same album that this song appears, Crowell included "Queen of Hearts," written by Hank DeVito who also plays guitar on the song. It was originally recorded by Dave Edmunds a year earlier, but the song would go on to be a big hit in 1981 by Juice Newton.  2) Crowell was married to Roseanne Cash and they often collaborated. He produced her first six album before their marriage ended in 1992.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Little Jeannie" by Elton John

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0158
Date:  05/03/1980
Debut:  65
Peak:  3
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  The 70s belonged to Elton John. He was a superstar who set chart records and had sixteen Top 10 hits. But as the 70s started to close, he made changes and choices that sent his career in a downward spiral. In 1978 he release "A Single Man," his first album to not feature his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin. It failed to generate a Top 20 hit. Then the following year he recorded the disco album "Victim of Love," which was his worst selling and charting album to that point. The 80s started out better with "21 at 33." The album had some Taupin collaborations and featured this first single which became his biggest chart hit in four years. Although he would have some success in the 80s and beyond, John's major hit making days of the 70s were now definitely in the past.

ReduxReview:  A solid chunk of John's hits were in collaboration with Bernie Taupin. Of the few that were not, most are not often counted among his best. However, this collab with Gary Osborne is one of my favorite non-Taupin hits. The music is pure John (and reminds me of "Daniel" in a way) and rolls along to a nice mid-tempo beat. In a period where he was struggling, this was a perfect song to keep him relevant and get him back in the Top 10.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Before Elton John started his own solo hit-making career, he would do work as a session musician, usually on piano or backing vocals. One of his (now) more famous appearances was on The Hollies' 1969 hit "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (#7) on which he played piano.

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"Theme from New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra

Song#:  0157
Date:  05/03/1980
Debut:  76
Peak:  32
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Easy Listening



Pop Bits:  Here he is - Francis Albert Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board. What more can be said about one of the greatest pop singers in history? Yes, by this time his voice was flagging but the timing and nuance was still there and he could carry a tune from here to the moon. As mentioned in previous posts, the 80s signaled the end of the real pop vocalist on the chart. Those who had hits in the 50s, 60s and even 70s were struggling against the changing tides of music. Sinatra succumbed to this as well and this song was his final pop chart entry. It represented another one of his "comebacks" and even though it was his last hit, the song became another signature tune in his career. It was the first single from his triple-LP "Trilogy," where each disc had a past, present, and future theme. "Past" featured Sinatra re-recording a set of standards, "Present" had him singing more modern pop songs (which is where this song appeared), and "Future" was a freeform suite of songs almost experimental in nature. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1981 with Sinatra being nominated for Pop Vocal for this song. The song itself was nominated for Song of the Year.

ReduxReview:  This song was originally written for the Martin Scorsese film "New York, New York" (1977) and performed by Liza Minnelli. The song is associated with her and Sinatra, but he got the hit. When performed by either of them, this is really a classic. But I've heard it so many times by others where they drain every ounce of Velveeta out of it. Those are the times I really think this is an awful song. But then I hear Sinatra's or Minnelli's versions and I enjoy it. I prefer Minnelli's more Broadway-ish version, but Sinatra goes for the gusto and it was terrific he got one last hit with the song.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Sinatra is famous (or infamous) for his connections and power of persuasion. Radio personality Jonathan Schwarts, an expert on Sinatra, experienced this first-hand when discussing the "Trilogy" album on his radio show. Schwarts, who was considered very opinionated and of massive ego himself, stated that he enjoyed the first two discs of the project but the third ("Future") was "a shocking embarrassment." His assessment infuriated Sinatra and two days later, Schwarts found himself off the air. He returned a few months later and when asked what happened he has said "you had best ask Sinatra." However, Schwarts is not one to hold a grudge and he continued to play Sinatra's music and has even appeared on Sirius XM radio's "Siriusly Sinatra" channel.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Answering Machine" by Rupert Holmes

Song#:  0156
Date:  05/03/1980
Debut:  82
Peak:  32
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  After double Top 10 success with "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" and "Him," Holmes eked out one more Top 40 song from his album "Partners in Crime." He wouldn't return to the Top 40 again, but he would go on to have other successes on Broadway and in TV.

ReduxReview:  If you write a song where an integral part of is deals with current technology, you better make it really good because that technology will soon evolve or disappear. At the time it may seem really clever, but it's 50/50 many years later whether it remains a clever curiosity or a dated misfire. Because Holmes is a solid songwriter, I would still call this a clever reminder of the time period. Just in the same way he used the personal ads in "Escape," he applies a story to answering machine tag. It's not an awesome song, but I think it still works. However, I doubt kids these days would even get that an answering machine would cut you off with a beep if you went too long - or that a machine can actually fill up. Oh, technology...

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Holmes' debut album, "Widescreen" (1974) gained a major fan - Barbra Streisand. She wanted to record songs from the album and Holmes ended up co-produced her 1975 "Lazy Afternoon" album, which featured four Holmes written or co-written songs. She also recorded two of his songs for "The Star Is Born" soundtrack (1976).

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"It's Not a Wonder" by Little River Band

Song#:  0155
Date:  05/03/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  51
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Country Rock, Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Little River Band was one of the first acts from Australia to break through in the US and remain continually successful for a long period of time. Beginning in 1976 they put songs on the chart for almost a decade. They hit the Top 10 in 1978 with "Reminiscing" (#3) and put three other songs there before this single from their live album "Backstage Pass" clipped their streak. But they would turn around and grab two more Top 10's the following year with their next studio album. (Note: the clip above is the studio version from their "First Under the Wire" album.)

ReduxReview:  Little River Band is one of those odd artists that I really like their hit songs but I just have not gotten around to getting a hits disc into my collection. Beyond the hits, I don't connect much with their music. Like this song, it's good but just nothing that really catches my ear. However, I have to like a group that has a member named Beeb Birtles - awesome name. Before LRB, he was in the group Zoot which featured a soon-to-be TV/pop star - Rick Springfield.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The band's name comes from a township in Australia. Apparently, they were on their way to a gig and saw a sign that pointed the way towards Little River and the name took hold.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

"Midnight Rendezvous" by The Babys

Song#:  0154
Date:  05/03/1980
Debut:  87
Peak:  72
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Their previous single "Back On My Feet Again" (Redux #0016) was a great radio song, but peaked well short of expectations at #33. The new Babys line-up that now included Jonathan Cain seemed destined to ignite with their "Union Jacks" album, but ended up fizzling. This John Waite/Jonathan Cain co-written song would be the second single from the album.

ReduxReview:  While not as strong as "Back On My Feet Again," this song does have some good qualities to it and is one of their better tracks. There is one section of the song that really reminds me of a similar section in 38 Special's "Hold On Loosely," which would be released in 1981.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The punched up and glossier sound came courtesy of producer Keith Olsen who had just finished up work on Pat Benatar's "Crimes of Passion." In addition to producing Fleetwood Mac's self-titled 1975 album, Olsen has produced works for artists like Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Kim Carnes, Foreigner, Journey, Santana, and many others.

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"Gone Too Far" by Eddie Rabbitt

Song#:  0153
Date:  05/03/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  82
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  Although firmly based in country music, Rabbitt was one of the prime players in the 70s and 80s country crossover boom. Having toiled around Nashville as a stock songwriter and performer, he got his big solo break in 1974 with a self-titled debut that landed him three country chart songs. By the time he issued his first "best of" album in 1979 he already had four #4 country hits and got his first major pop hit with "Every Which Way But Loose" (#30). His next album pushed him further with its lead song "Suspicions" hitting #13. This third single from the album was a blip on the pop chart, but was his sixth #1 country hit.

ReduxReview:  This chuggin' tune is pretty nice. It is not outstanding or as memorable when compared to some of Rabbitt's big pop hits, but its a pleasant, well-written song that kinda makes you wanna bop right along. It's a little bit of pop/country sunshine with some tasty guitar as well.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Rabbitt's first big break came in 1970 when his co-written tune "Kentucky Rain" was recorded by Elvis Presley (#16). A then-unknown Ronnie Milsap played piano on the song. Milsap would soon go on to his own successful career and had his first #1 country hit with the Rabbitt-written "Pure Love" in 1974.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Just For the Moment" by Ray Kennedy

Song#:  0152
Date:  05/03/1980
Debut:  89
Peak:  82
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  As a tenor sax player, Kennedy got his first steady gigs with famous jazz musicians such as Gerry Mulligan and Dizzy Gillespie. But by 1962 he was done with the jazz lifestyle and moved to playing with rock n' roll artists like Fats Domino and Wilson Pickett. His first solo album in 1970 didn't go anywhere and in the mid-70s he found himself part of a mini rock "supergroup" called KGB, which featured Mike Bloomfield and Carmine Appice. The group called it quits after two unsuccessful albums and Kennedy returned to solo work releasing a self-titled album in 1980. The album failed to chart but this single made a brief appearance.

ReduxReview:  I had never heard of Kennedy and was kind of jazzed by his background, especially his co-writing credits (see below). So I looked forward to hearing his own chart song. Oh, what a disappointment. This huge slice of AC cheese, made worse by a horrible arrangement, plays like the closing credit theme to a bad 80s rom-com. That kind of makes sense since David Foster produced the album. He is obviously a talented musician with the ability to write a good tune, but this one ain't it.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Kennedy co-wrote "Sail On, Sailor" (#79 in 1973 and #49 in 1975) along with two hits by The Babys, "Isn't It Time" (#13 in 1977) and "Every Time I Think of You" (#13 in 1979).  2) Around 1960, Kennedy was a dancing regular on American Bandstand. Dick Clark would go on to pay him to mimic playing sax for artists that would perform on the show.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Real Love" by The Cretones

Song#:  0151
Date:  05/03/1980
Debut:  98
Peak:  79
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Power Pop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  L.A.-based Cretones were signed to Richard Perry's Planet Records and release two album in the early 80s. Although they had a good following it didn't translate well to national sales or recognition. However, they became a cult band for power pop enthusiasts and at the time gained one very important fan - Linda Ronstadt. She used three songs from the Cretones debut album, "Thin Red Line," for her foray into new wave, "Mad Love." All three songs were written by band member Mark Goldenberg. This was their first single and the only one to hit the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  The Cretones are a really good band and they put out some good, catchy power pop. They should have caught on more than they did. In the link above, "Real Love" is followed by "Mad Love," which is one of the songs covered by Linda Ronstadt. I like the crunchy "Mad Love" a bit better, but both are good tunes and if they turn your crank, you should check out more of The Cretones.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After the Cretones, Goldenberg went on to perform with several major artists, including Jackson Browne, and write songs for other artists. Among the hits he wrote or co-wrote are "Automatic" by the Pointer Sisters, "Along Comes a Woman" by Chicago, "Soul Kiss" by Olivia Newton-John, and "Novocaine For the Soul" by Eels.

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