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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

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."

_________________________________________________________________________________

"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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________________________