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."


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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."