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.


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."


"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.


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."


"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.


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.


"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.


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.


"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.


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.


"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.


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.