Saturday, January 5, 2013

"On the Rebound" by Russ Ballard

Song#:  0206
Date:  06/14/1980
Debut:  89
Peak:  58
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Ballard was a member of Argent, a British quartet founded by Zombies member Rod Argent. They were a one-hit wonder in 1972 when "Hold Your Head Up" hit #5. The song was sung by Ballard. Two years later he left Argent to pursue a solo career which finally culminated in this one and only solo chart song for him. Although solo success was pretty much a no-go, his songs found there way on the chart with other artists.

ReduxReview:  This is an interesting tune. It has a kitchen-sink feel to it - falsetto, spoken parts, hard guitar, vocodor, keyboard sax, etc. But it all kind of works. It's not outstanding, but is definitely worthy of a few listens. The more I played it, the more I liked it. I'd download it.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Ballard had great success with other artists recording his songs. Among the hits he wrote are "Liar" by Three Dog Night (#7), "You Can Do Magic" by America (#8), "I Know There's Something Going On" by Frida (#13), "New York Groove" by Ace Frehley (#13), and "Winning" by Santana (#17).


Friday, January 4, 2013

"One More Time for Love" by Billy Preston and Syreeta

Song#:  0205
Date:  06/14/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  52
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Preston had big success in the 60s and 70s as a session/touring musician and hit the charts himself with five Top 10 hits including the #1's "Will It Go Round In Circles" and "Nothing From Nothing." But the chart hits dried up in the late 70s and he moved over to the Motown label for a jump start. The change initially paid off when his duet with Syreeta, "With You I'm Born Again," hit #4 (from the film "Fast Break"). However, it would be his last Top 40 hit. This follow-up duet was from Syreeta's 1980 self-titled album, but it failed to repeat the success of "With You."

ReduxReview:  I can see why this song didn't do too well. When you decide to follow up such a beautiful song as "With You I'm Born Again," it had better be something terrific, and this song ain't it. It's a bland R&B tune that tries to incorporate the theatrical aspects of "With You" into a slinky groove. It just doesn't work. It's definitely not an epic fail; just pales in comparison.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is well-known, but just in case...Preston is only one of two artists to share billing on a Beatles single when "Get Back" was credited to The Beatles with Billy Preston. The other artist was Tony Sheridan.  2) Syreeta Wright was married to Stevie Wonder for eighteen months. Wonder encouraged her to write music and together they collaborated on several of his tracks including "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" (#3) and "If You Really Love Me" (#8).


Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Take a Little Rhythm" by Ali Thomson

Song#:  0204
Date:  06/14/1980
Debut:  92
Peak:  15
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Scotland native Thomson made the move to L.A. for an audition with A&M Records. They signed him and his debut album yielded this title track hit. At the time there was criticism that both the song and his voice sounded like Paul McCartney, but that didn't keep record buyers from pushing the song up the chart giving him his only Top 20 hit.

ReduxReview:  This vaguely sounds familiar. I'm sure I must have heard this back in the day. And chances are many years from now I may hear this and think the same thing. Nice jaunty tune, but it sticks to my brain about as well as Post-It note glue. And, yeah, it kind of does sound like a McCartney knock-off.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Thomson's brother was already a successful musician at the time. Dougie Thomson joined Supertramp in 1972 and stayed until the group initially disbanded in 1988.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Only the Lonely" by LaFlavour

Song#:  0203
Date:  06/14/1980
Debut:  93
Peak:  91
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Under various names beginning in 1967, this Ohio group became a popular touring dance band throughout the mid to late-70s. Their first album, "Mandolay," received exposure via the title track, which hit the Club/Dance chart at #7. This ballad that became the second single was a blip on the pop chart for a couple of weeks. It was enough to spark interest at MCA where they recorded their follow-up album. But first, MCA changed the group's name to Fair Warning in an attempt to distance the group from their dance band name and tours. Then they recorded a song to be the lead single that was expected to break the band wide. However, another group also recorded the song and it was going to be theirs to release, which they did (a song called "She Don't Know Me" (#48, 1984) by a little new group called Bon Jovi). And then Van Halen came out with an album titled "Fair Warning." All of this spelled doom for the band and the album got shelved. The band soldiered on as LaFlavour and continued as a successful touring act for many years.

ReduxReview:  This is a fairly average take on a slight R&B/pop tune ala Earth, Wind & Fire. Their disco hit "Mandolay" was more interesting and it sounds like a totally different band. Not sure why it did not take off on the pop chart.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Later in their touring show days, the group incorporated a comedy puppet act. The two puppets, Frank and Nick, were operated and voiced by members of the group.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"The Very Last Time" by Utopia

Song#:  0202
Date:  06/07/1980
Debut:  80
Peak:  76
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Happy New Year to everyone! It may be 2013 now, but it is still the 80s here!

Pop Bits:  Although not as successful as their previous (and only) Top 40 single ("Set Me Free"), this second song from the "Adventures in Utopia" album kept up the momentum for the band. But it would be short-lived as their next two concept albums would fail to gain any ground or produce any chart singles.

ReduxReview:  The last Utopia chart song "Set Me Free" (Redux #0068) I thought was very similar to Billy Joel. This one I could have easily mistaken for a Jefferson Starship song save for the vocals. I need to explore Utopia a bit more because I'm sure not all their songs sound like someone else's...hopefully. For a JS knockoff, this one ain't too bad.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Original band member Ralph Schuckett later became a successful TV and film composer. Besides writing music for many commercials, Schuckett also wrote TV theme songs such as the ones for the sitcom "Kate & Allie" and the daytime soap "Another World." The theme song from "Another World" became a #4 country hit for Crystal Gayle and Gary Morris in 1987.


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.


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.