Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Do Right" by Paul Davis

Song#:  0085
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  76
Peak:  23
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Contemporary Christian

Pop Bits:  Davis' music was initially closer to country crossover than pop and he had a few singles hit the lower range of the chart, but he refined it to a smoother AC sound in 1977 and got his first Top 10 hit with "I Go Crazy." Three years later his follow-up album featured this lead-off single. It is a bit of an oddity because very few obvious Christian-themed songs are able to really do well on the pop chart and this one made it to #23. He would have a few more pop hits before turning back to country in the mid-80's. Unfortunately, Davis suffered a heart attack and died in 2008. (Note: continuing the death-watch, this will be the third artist in the past four posts that have passed away - and their songs all debuted on the same 3/8/80 chart.)

ReduxReview:  Although not religious myself, there are lots of overt Christian songs and artists that I really enjoy (and I don't mean Amy Grant doing "Baby Baby"...). If you have never heard Rich Mullens, look up his "Songs" album and check him out. Terrific music. So the lyrics of this song don't bother me at all. But I can't say I'm a fan of the song in general. It is pretty good, smooth, AC pop but it may be a little too sleek. It just seems like this song should be more exciting and inspiring than it is. Plus, I'm on the fence about the cheesy synths. Don't get me wrong - I love some cheeze whiz keyboards - but just not sure it worked here.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Davis' "I Go Crazy" set a record during its chart run. At the time it became the longest running chart single in history by staying on the chart for 40 weeks.


"Think About Me" by Fleetwood Mac

Song#:  0084
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  79
Peak:  20
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  What do you do if you are coming off a Grammy-winning, huge selling, #1 album that pretty much became an instant classic? Take your clout and run with it! That is what Lindsey Buckingham did after the massive success of "Rumours." The other members of Fleetwood Mac allowed him to take control of the next album which he intended to be more experimental. The result was the expansive double-album "Tusk." Although there was great anticipation for the album and it had generated two Top 10 hits ("Tusk" and "Sara"), the album only peaked at #4 and sales fell far short of expectations. At the time it was generally considered a failure. It was lengthy, weird, indulgent and the work of a broken band run by a manic obsessive - and it is basically brilliant. It has grown in cult status and is considered by some to be the group's true masterpiece. Buckingham's songs take up almost half of the album, but Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie wrote the balance. McVie's "Think About Me" was the third single released.

ReduxReview:  After the oddity of the "Tusk" song and the dreamy "Sara," this single had to have been a refreshing blow sounding more like a classic Mac song. Although a good song, it is not one of McVie's strongest, especially when compared to her work on the previous albums. But it is a nice, bouncy, jaunty tune and there really wasn't much else on the album that could be pushed as a hit single, so it was an obvious choice.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  At the time, "Tusk" was the most expensive album ever made. It was reported that it cost over one million dollars to record.


Friday, October 12, 2012

"Love On a Shoestring" by the Captain & Tennille

Redux Spotlight Alert!
Song#:  0083
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  82
Peak:  55
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  C&T had a string of five Top 10 hits in 1975-76 and even had their own TV variety show for a season, but by the time they left A&M Records, the hits were drying up. A switch to Casablanca came with a shift in their sound to something much more adult-oriented than their previous work. The resulting album "Make Your Move" spurred the #1 song "Do That to Me One More Time" and, for a short time, revived their recording career. Half the songs on the album were written by Toni Tennille and gone were the innocent gestures of "Muskrat Love" and "Love Will Keep Us Together" and replaced with themes of one-night stands and sexual tension. It worked and it was the right album at the right time with several reviews saying it was their best outing. Unfortunately, they couldn't follow it up (in part due to lack of label support) and it would be their last album to hit the chart. This second single from the album is an uncharacteristically dark song from the ever-perky duo.

ReduxReview:  First, let me say I dearly love C&T. The first album I ever bought with my own money was their "Song of Joy" album. I still have it. Yes, they had some cornball fluff on their albums, but they also had some really great pop songs. Tennille is a wonderful vocalist and an underrated songwriter. More of her material should have been covered by other artists. This mysterious track is one of my favorite songs they did. It is so different from anything they previously recorded and it struck a mature sound that I don't think folks were expecting. I'm giving this a Spotlight reference because the song should have done much better than it did and it is kind of a lost treasure (in my opinion). However, it did make an appearance in the UK in 2003 (see below).

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In the early 70s, Darryl Dragon (the Captain) was a keyboardist for the Beach Boys. He had previously met Toni Tennille doing a keyboard gig in a show she co-wrote called "Mother Earth." When the Beach Boys were looking for an additional keyboardist, Dragon recommended her and she toured that year with them. To this day she is still the one and only "Beach Girl."  2) This song was on the UK airwaves and in clubs in 2003 as the group Bent sampled it in their song "Magic Love."


"A Lesson in Leavin'" by Dottie West

Song#:  0082
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  85
Peak:  73
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Along with Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, West is considered one of the most influential female artists in country music. In the 60s and early 70s, she maintained a conservative persona (even rejecting recording "Help Me Make It Through the Night" because it was too sexy) and had a bunch of country chart songs including eight Top 10 country hits (five were solo hits - she was often a duet partner). But in the late 70s she changed up her image and her music. She went all glam wearing Bob Mackie designed outfits and moved her music into more of an Adult Contemporary crossover sound. The change was welcomed and by 1980 she topped the country chart for the first time solo with this song. This started a string of hits, several with Kenny Rogers with whom she recorded two duet albums. For all of her success on the country chart, she rarely had a pop entry. This was the third of four with her biggest pop single yet to come. (Odd note: this is the third post in a row where an artist has passed away. West died from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1991.)

ReduxReview:  I really like this song. I had never heard it before. I wish the arrangement were a bit more punchy as it sounds a bit too laid back. Jo Dee Messina recorded this in 1999 and took it to #2 on the country chart. Her version is heavier in sound, but lacks some of the subtly of West's vocal and the bluesy feeling is lost. I prefer West's version overall. This is a really good crossover country song.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  West adopted one of her songs "Country Girl" for a Coca-Cola commercial in 1970. It was a very successful ad campaign and in 1973 she wrote "Country Sunshine" for the company. The song was very popular and hit #2 on the country chart and was one of her rare pop chart entries peaking at #49. The commercial won a Clio for best commercial of the year and the song got her two Grammy nominations.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

"In It for Love" by England Dan and John Ford Coley

Song#:  0081
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  86
Peak:  75
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  This duo had a small streak of hits in the mid-to-late 70s that included four Top 10 hits. Dan Seals ("England Dan") and John Ford Coley had been recording as a due since 1971 with little success until they got the song "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight." That #2 song in 1976 was their breakthrough. But by 1980 the duo was done and went their separate ways. Dan Seals went on to a very successful solo country career while Coley turned to acting for a while and then found his way back to touring in the 90s. Seals died in 2009 from mantle cell lymphoma. This was their last song to hit the chart.

ReduxReview:  This reminds me of something that would be used as a theme song to a 70s TV show. I get images of 70s sitcom stars flashing in my head with them turning to the camera and smiling while their name flashes below. The title could even be a sitcom name. Premiering on ABC - In It for Love starring Pam Dauber and Greg Evigan, featuring Abe Vigoda as "Morty"!

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Dan Seals was the younger brother of Jim Seals of the successful 70s duo Seals & Crofts.


"A Certain Girl" by Warren Zevon

Song#:  0080
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  89
Peak:  57
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Most folks probably know only one Warren Zevon song - "Werewolves of London." That 1978 song hit #21 and basically became his signature tune. His themed songs, sometimes humorous, garnered him a lot of fans in the music biz and by the time he released his self-titled major label debut album, the contributors list was like of who's who of SoCal rock - Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Bonnie Raitt among them. In addition, Jackson Browne was the producer. Although he never reached the heights of his contemporaries, he remained a popular cult musical figure celebrated by those who knew and understood his talent. David Letterman was one of them and Zevon was a frequent guest on the show. This song was his second and only other chart song of his career. Zevon died in 2003 from a form of lung cancer.

ReduxReview:  Zevon's brand of storytelling is not really my thing, but I will say that this bluesy rock jam is a good one. And the whole "what's her name...awwww..." is stupidly catchy. This is a case where a catchy tune with a little humor thrown in works well.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After his cancer diagnosis (which was terminal), David Letterman had Zevon on his show as the only guest for the hour where he performed and talked about his life. He's famous now for giving the advice "enjoy every sandwich" to the audience.  2)  Zevon's final album called "The Wind" was released a few months prior to his death and it went on to win two posthumous Grammy awards.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Don't Cry for Me Argentina" by Festival

Song#:  0079
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  72
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Disco, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Festival wasn't really a band, but a studio creation by Russian-born Boris Midney. Classically trained, he did the scores for some TV shows and films and also released jazz albums. But he crossed over into dance music territory in the 70s and became one of the forerunners of Eurodisco. He had success with his own studio "groups" like Beautiful Bend, but it appears like his sole US chart song is this disco version of the famous "Evita" song. The musical had hit Broadway in 1979, so the song was becoming more popular here and getting the cover treatment.

ReduxReview:  Wanna know how to totally desecrate a classic Broadway song? Here ya go.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  This isn't the only dance version of the tune. In 1996, Madonna appeared in the film version of "Evita" and released this song as the soundtrack's second single. For the single, it was remixed as a dance tune and it reach #1 on the dance chart and #8 on the pop chart.


"Survive" by Jimmy Buffett

Song#:  0078
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  91
Peak:  77
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Soft Rock, Country

Pop Bits:  Like the Grateful Dead or (later) Phish, Buffett's reputation and popularity mainly centered around his constant tours and shows rather than putting hits on the chart. Like the two mentioned groups, he developed a large, loyal following that garnered a nickname - Parrotheads. He has had a themed tour every year since 1976 and gets out an album every 2-3 years. His lone Top 10 hit from 1977, "Magaritaville," became his signature tune. "Survive" was the third chart single from his album "Volcano." Although the other two singles from the album were minor chart hits ("Fins" at #35 and "Volcano" at #66), they became part of the "Top 8," a list of popular songs that were played at each Buffett concert.

ReduxReview:  I can get into a drunken "Magaritaville" sing-a-long with folks or quietly enjoy "Come Monday," but that is about all the Buffett I need. His style of "gulf and western" is something not found in my record collection. You won't see me wearing a parrothead hat anytime soon. And this song is not likely to change that, even though it is a stringy ballad rather than his regular semi-party (sometimes bordering on novelty) tunes. this why I don't like Key West?

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Buffett's first two albums were released on the Barnaby label - a label founded by singer Andy Williams.  2) Most of his albums reached the top half of the albums chart with ten hitting the Top 10. But he didn't get a #1 album until he released "License to Chill" in 2004.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"I Don't Need You Anymore" by Jackie DeShannon

Song#:  0077
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  97
Peak:  86
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Although she only had two Top 10 hits, DeShannon was a popular and prolific songwriter and performer throughout the 60s and 70s. Her biggest solo hit was the #4 "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," which she co-wrote. It has been remade by many artists and the song hit the Top 10 again in 1989 as a duet by Annie Lennox and Al Green. Her first Top 10 hit was "What the World Needs Now Is Love" written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Bacharach and Paul Anka collaborated on the score to the 1979 film "Together?" starring Jacqueline Bisset and enlisted DeShannon to sing this song. The film flopped and the soundtrack and song unfortunately followed. This ended up being DeShannon's last chart single.

ReduxReview:  As a Bacharach fan, I can say that this has all the earmarks of a typical Bacharach composition of the 70s era: playing with the time signature, end phrases that get stretched out and sequences of one-note-per-beat melody. If you have ever heard the Bacharach/Elvis Costello duet album "Painted from Memory," then this song's feel will probably sound familiar as it has that same Bacharach style. However, this song is just not as engaging and with nary a discernible hook, it is not surprising it only scratched the chart.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  If you don't know this by now, you should. DeShannon co-wrote a song with Donna Weiss that appeared on DeShannon's 1975 album "New Arrangement." The album was not a hit, but 6 years later their song collaboration (which was arranged like a saloon song) would go on to win two Grammys and become one of the biggest hits of the 80s..."Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes.


"Hold On To My Love" by Jimmy Ruffin

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0076
Date:  03/01/1980
Debut:  63
Peak:  10
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Pop

Pop Bits:  Jimmy Ruffin was supposed to be in the Temptations when they lost a member, but the label heard his brother David and gave the job to him. Jimmy went on to pursue a solo career and had a major hit with "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" in 1966. But he had little solo success in the US beyond that. However, in the UK he had better luck and he recorded more specifically for that market having several Top 10 hits. His only other US Top 10 was this song, which ended up being his last chart entry.

ReduxReview:  This is a good, upbeat comeback song - kind of like when Donna Summer updated her sound and came out with "This Time I Know It's for Real." It is danceable and well-sung, but nothing outstanding. It is one of the few 80s Top 10 hits that I had never heard before.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Barry Gibb was not the only Gibb brother who could write and produce hits for other artists. Brother Robin co-produced Ruffin's "Sunrise" album and co-wrote this hit.


Monday, October 8, 2012

"Any Way You Want It" by Journey

Song#:  0075
Date:  03/01/1980
Debut:  75
Peak:  23
Weeks: 15
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  Less than a year after their last album "Evolution," Journey pushed out their first Top 10 album with "Departure." This lead single would be their second highest peaking song at that time, but it is one of those songs that seemed like it was a bigger hit - like several of the early Journey songs. Rock radio was all over it, but pop radio was still not fully embracing heavier rock so many rock songs from the 70s and into the 80s had a hard time climbing the chart. That would soon change and Journey would finally reap the rewards.

ReduxReview:  Any way I want it? Just like this will be fine, thank you.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Journey certainly should have made a mint off of this song. It has been used in many commercials, TV shows, and movies (including "Caddyshack"). Most recently it was used in the Broadway musical (and film) "Rock of Ages."


"Outside My Window" by Stevie Wonder

Song#:  0074
Date:  03/01/1980
Debut:  77
Peak:  52
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After Wonder's magnum opus "Songs In the Key of Life," he didn't record for three years. During that time he collaborated on a film project where he would provide the music to the documentary "The Secret Life of Plants." The film was not a big success but soundtrack was pushed out as the official follow-up to "Songs." A large part of the album was instrumental and sections were timed with sequences in the film. Wonder used a lot of interesting sounds courtesy of a digital sampling item called the Computer Music Melodian. All of this along with lyrics that were to reflect the subject matter made for one of the most bizarre major releases in pop. The album did okay by making it to #4 on the chart and it did spawn a #4 song in "Send One Your Love," but it was not what fans were looking for after the massive "Songs." This song is the follow-up single.

ReduxReview:  This is a strange album. I can appreciate it and the significance of how it was created, but overall it's nothing I'd listen to a second time. This minor shuffly tune is pretty slight and that "psweep" sound on the 2 and 4 is really annoying. For me, Wonder can run really hot or ice cold. I wouldn't really call this ice cold, but it is a little chilly and I'm just not a fan when he does these saccharine AC tunes.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When released, the original LP had some braille included and when opened it emitted a flowery scent.  2) Wonder originally wrote the song "Overjoyed" for this project but it was left off the album. He resurrected it in 1985 and it became a minor hit.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Baby Don't Go" by Karla Bonoff

Song#:  0073
Date:  03/01/1980
Debut:  80
Peak:  69
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Karla Bonoff is one of those artists that became more successful as songwriter than as a recording artist. She did have some minor success on the charts and a couple of her albums did well by cracking the Top 50, but primarily she is known for writing songs recorded by other artists. This song is from her second solo album "Restless Nights."

ReduxReview:  Bonoff is a solid songwriter and this is a pretty good track. I can hear Linda Ronstadt knocking this one out over lunch. It's a nice song but doesn't have a lot of power behind it to really be a high charting song. But if you like this, I do suggest digging into her back catalog. She has stronger songs than this one on her albums.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Early in her career she was a backing vocalist for Linda Ronstadt. Eventually, three of Bonoff's songs would end up on Ronstadt's "Hasten Down the Wind" album in 1976.