Monday, December 30, 2013

"Don't Give It Up" by Robbie Patton

Song#:  0669
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  76
Peak:  26
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Englishman Patton issued a debut album in 1979 title "Do You Wanna Tonight." It didn't get much attention, but it helped get him a gig as an opening act for Fleetwood Mac. That association provided him with a great opportunity as Mac member Christine McVie would go on to produce his next album and also played keyboards for the sessions. The LP, "Distant Shores," featured this lead single that sneaked into the Top 30 and the album reached the lower part of the chart (#162).

ReduxReview:  If Eddie Money played a Fleetwood Mac tune (one written by McVie), this is what it might sound like. It has that precious McVie sound with the tinkling bells and such, yet it retains a rockiness that leans toward some of Money's more pop-oriented songs. It's a good tune and probably should have done better on the chart than it did.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  McVie wasn't the only Mac member to help with Patton's album. Lindsey Buckingham provided the guitar work on this single.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Stranger" by Jefferson Starship

Song#:  0668
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  77
Peak:  48
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After the rockin' "Find Your Way Back" (#29) introduced their album "Modern Times," this second single was issued. It featured vocals by Grace Slick who was back with the group after basically being asked to leave in 1978. This single came close to giving them a pair of Top 40's from the album, but it couldn't quite make it that far.

ReduxReview:  After the exciting #3 modern rock single "Find Your Way Back," this was kind of a disappointment. The song is not that bad and was probably the next best thing to a follow-up the album had to offer. But it is definitely not the most memorable song in their catalog and it kind of killed any momentum the album had gathered.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Before Mickey Thomas joined Jefferson Starship (replacing Marty Balin), he was a member of the Elvin Bishop Group. While in that group, he provided the lead vocals for their #3 hit "Fooled Around and Fell in Love."

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Under the Covers" by Janis Ian

Song#:  0667
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  71
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Singer/Songwriter

Under the Covers by Janis Ian on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  The last time Ian was on the pop chart was when she had her big hit "At Seventeen" in 1975. That song reached #3 while it's album "Between the Lines" went all the way to #1. After that major success (which included a Grammy for Pop Vocals), Ian remained popular but her albums saw diminishing returns with each release. Five albums later, she issued the LP "Restless Eyes" and this first single marked her return to the pop chart, albeit briefly. It would also be her last to do so. Although still under contract with CBS Records, Ian decided to stop recording in 1982. Over the next decade, she continued writing songs for other artists and then finally returned to recording in 1993 with her independent release "Breaking Silence."

ReduxReview:  It kind of sounds like a lost Linda Ronstadt track. I don't think it has enough umph to make it a really great single, however Ian can write and it's probably one of her better efforts for chart consideration. It seems a little stuck in the 70s and doesn't quite mesh with the new 80s sounds, but it is worthy of a listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although Ian only had three pop charting singles in her career, they stretched into three different decades. Her first hit was the controversial "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking), which hit #14 in 1967. Then came her big hit "At Seventeen" in 1975. Then this single in 1981.  2)  Along with Billy Preston, Ian was the musical guest on the very first episode of "Saturday Night Live" on October 11, 1975. She performed "At Seventeen" and "In the Winter."

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Friday, December 27, 2013

"Breaking Away" by Balance

Song#:  0666
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  22
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Signed to Portrait Records, this NYC-based group released their self-title debut album that featured this first single. It was a minor success that allowed their album to reach the low-level of the chart peaking at #133.

ReduxReview:  I've thought it unfortunate that this single didn't do better. It's really a great song and offers a lot to keep it memorable - especially the "boom - clap" part. This song got lost over the years, but thanks to a radio show by Barry Scott called "The Lost 45s" that has been in syndication for years, it has remained popular with 80s music lovers. This was a particular favorite on the show and it was included on a CD compilation of "lost" songs that Scott developed. Thanks to this, the song has been able to keep alive outside of it's Top 30 peak.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Group member Peppy Castro had some success in the 60's with the psychedelic/garage rock group The Blues Magoos. They had a hit in 1967 with the #5 "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet" from their debut LP "Psychedelic Lollipop." This album is considered one of the first to include the word "psychedelic" on the cover. They remained active until 1970.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

"You Don't Know Me" by Mickey Gilley

Song#:  0665
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  55
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Country



Pop Bits:  Gilley was still riding the "Urban Cowboy" wave when he issued this title-track single from his album "You Don't Know Me." It would be his twelfth #1 on the country chart and would serve as his final pop chart entry. He would continue on and have five more #1's on the country chart and would have entries through to 1989. A few years later, Gilley would own his own theater in the boomtown of Branson, Missouri, where he still performs shows as of this posting.

ReduxReview:  I'm a little surprised this made it as far up the pop chart as it did. It's quite an old-fashioned song and is quite countrified. But the song is a good one and Gilley does a good job with it. The tune has been covered many, many times (see below) and has basically become a standard, so it's got to be good to stand out from the rest and I think Gilley did a fine version.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Gilley has two very famous cousins - Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.  2) This song is a remake of a tune that has hit the pop chart a total of five times. Written by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold, the first chart appearance was by Jerry Vale in 1956 (#14). Lenny Welch (#45, 1960) and Elvis Presley (#44, 1967) also covered the song, but the biggest hit version was by Ray Charles who reached #2 in 1962. The song's co-writer, Eddy Arnold, had his own country hit with the song hitting #10 in 1956.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

"Nothing Ever Goes As Planned" by Styx

Song#:  0664
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  54
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After Tommy Shaw's rockin' "Too Much Time on My Hands" hit #9, the third single from the group's "Paradise Theater" album would be volleyed back to Dennis DeYoung (since the first single was his "The Best of Times," #3). This song was chosen and it fell below expectations, not even getting into the top half of the chart. Two other songs from the album, "Rockin' the Paradise" and the controversial "Snowblind," were getting attention (#8 and #22 respectively on the rock chart), but this Supertramp-ish song might have been seen as more pop friendly over those more edgier tunes.

ReduxReview:  I don't know what they were thinking issuing this as a single. It has no business being one. As an album track, it works. As a single, it is not even being close to being something that would catch on at radio. I think they missed by boat by not issuing one of the two songs above or even Tommy Shaw's "She Cares." Anything would have made a better single. But I think band and label politics stuck us with this one.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  At the time their main albums came out, the only certifications for sales were gold and platinum, which several Styx albums were awarded. When the RIAA started to award for multi-platinum sales, labels could submit stats for their artists for older recordings. A&M did so with Styx and on November 14, 1984, they were awarded four of their consecutively released albums with multi-platinum certifications. This made them the first music artist to release four multi-platinum album. Many others would soon follow, but Styx was the first and it was all done on the same day.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

"That Old Song" by Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio

Song#:  0663
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  21
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  After getting their highest pop hit with the #4 "A Woman Needs Love" (#1 R&B), this follow-up managed to hit the chart and almost got inside the Top 20. It also became their became their biggest AC hit reaching #7. The single would be the group's last to hit the pop chart before their break-up and Parker Jr. heading out solo.

ReduxReview:  This ones definitely leans more toward AC than R&B (hence the low showing on the R&B chart at #26) and for the most part it succeeds. But it just isn't as quality as some of their major hits. The tune is an agreeable slice that goes down easy, but I really wouldn't care for seconds.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although more known for their smooth R&B sound, the group did get a couple tracks on the dance chart. The instrumental "For Those Who Like to Groove" reached #23 (#13 R&B) and from their last album, the single "Still in the Groove" reached #35.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Secrets" by Mac Davis

Song#:  0662
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  76
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Davis' LP "Texas in My Rearview Mirror" spawned two country Top 10's including the title track, which hit #51 pop. This third single didn't generate much interest at country (#47), but it got him back on the pop chart, if just for a short stay. It would be his last single to reach the pop chart. Davis would go on to have few more country chart entries including another Top 10 with his last entry on that chart coming in 1986.

ReduxReview:  I can understand why this didn't click at country because it falls into soft rock/AC territory. This tune wasn't written by Davis, but he makes it his own and I kind of like it. There is nothing spectacular here, but I think it draws you in with its 70s soft rock arrangement and a nice vocal turn by Davis.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although you don't hear his name much any longer, he has been an influence to a few current artists and has co-written songs with musicians not even close to his style. In 2010, Davis co-wrote the closing song, "Time Flies," to Weezer's 2010 album "Hurley." In 2013, Davis did the original vocal demo for what would be EDM artist Avicii's #4 hit "Wake Me Up." Davis also co-wrote the song "Addicted to You" that appears on Avicii's album "True."

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Friday, December 20, 2013

"Urgent" by Foreigner

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0661
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  51
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Foreigner's previous album "Head Games" marked a slight decline for the group with singles from the album missing the Top 10. This first single from their follow-up album "4" brought them back to the Top 10 and it helped to propel the album to #1 - their first and only on the US chart. It would go on to sell over 7 million copies in the US making it the group's best-selling studio LP. It also got the group a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Group.

ReduxReview:  Around this time, there were three albums everyone had. Foreigner's "4," REO Speedwagon's "Hi-Infidelity," and (soon) Journey's "Escape." All with good reason. Foreigner had some great singles, but for me this one is the best. It's well written, sounds awesome (even today), and the sax solo is certainly one of the most memorable in rock. I like this track even more now that I did back in the day.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song featured two other artist of note - one established, one soon-to-be. The sax solo was performed by Junior Walker. He and his group the All Stars were one of Motown's great R&B acts in the 60s and early 70s. Walker had 13 R&B Top 10s during that time and took two of them into the pop Top 10. Also playing synthesizers on the "4" album was Thomas Dolby. A session musician at the time, the money he earned from working on the album and tour dates with Foreigner helped to fund his first solo project that contained his his "She Blinded Me with Science" (#5, 1982).

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Cool Love" by Pablo Cruise

Song#:  0660
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  75
Peak:  13
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  After a couple of minor albums, this San Francisco group tasted success with their third LP, 1977's "A Place in the Sun," which featured the #6 hit "Whatcha Gonna Do." They followed up with their biggest album, the #6 "Worlds Away," which scored with another #6 song "Love Will Find a Way." After a decline with their next album, they came back a bit with this song that became their last to hit the Top 20. The group struggled on their next (and final) release and split in 1984.

ReduxReview:  I didn't care too much for this song back then and now it's kind of gotten lost. It's actually a nice tune and a good listen. I don't think Pablo Cruise was an outstanding band, but they were often solid and had some good tunes. "Love Will Find a Way" was especially good with a great vocal turn from member David Jenkins. This one is a bit more low-key, but is worthy of a listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  So who in the group is Pablo Cruise? No one. It's a made-up name. The band typically says that "Pablo" represents an honest, down to earth person and that "Cruise" represents his fun loving attitude towards life.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Really Wanna Know You" by Gary Wright

Song#:  0659
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  80
Peak:  16
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Really Wanna Know You by Gary Wright on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  American Wright spent several years with the English group Spooky Tooth providing many of the vocals and songs. Although he had a couple of solo efforts under his belt released while the group was together, it was after the band split in 1974 that Wright hit it out of the park with his album "The Dream Weaver." That LP was a hit that spawned two #2 hits - "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive." Unfortunately, his follow-up albums and singles failed to generate much interest. Before disappearing from the charts completely, Wright was able to get one last single and album on the charts. His album "The Right Place" featured this Top 20 entry.

ReduxReview:  This will happen on occasion, but I don't remember this song at all. By this time, I was faithfully listening to American Top 40 each week and if a song spent some time on the chart, I'd either know the song, recognize it, or at least recognize the title. This one rings zero bells with me even though it went Top 20. It's odd because the song is good and it sounds like something I might have liked back in the day. It kind of has that same space-pop feel as his "Dream Weaver" hit and reminds me of 10cc a bit. This song seems to have gotten lost over the years and I think it's prime for a rediscovery.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was co-written by Ali Thompson who the previous year had his lone Top 20 hit with "Take a Little Rhythm."  2) In younger days, Wright got his initial showbiz as a child actor. Most likely his best outing was in the original Broadway cast of the 1954 musical, "Fanny." He originated one role and moved to another role later on. Also in the cast was Florence Henderson ("The Brady Bunch") who originated the title role.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Nightwalker" by Gino Vannelli

Song#:  0658
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  41
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Nightwalker by Gino Vannelli on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  The Canadian scored his second Top 10 hit with "Living Inside Myself" (#6) from the album "Nightwalker." Oddly, the song only went to #13 in his homeland and no other single from the album hit the chart. In the US, this follow-up title-track single just missed the Top 40 in that disappointing #41 position. The two singles helped the "Nightwalker" LP reach #15, his second best on the chart.

ReduxReview:  This opening title-track sets up the album quite well, but I don't think it is single-worthy. The beginning sounds exciting, but it quickly settles into soft rock mode and there is not much in the way of a solid chorus to sell the song. Although Vannelli's vocal gets a little too dramatic in places, I like the tune and its a good listen. It is just not a solid single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before heading out on a solo career, Vannelli was a member of several bands, even when he was a young teen. One group that he joined was the Motown-flavored Jacksonville 5 that featured Vannelli and his brother Joe. The group name may seem like a take on the Jackson 5, but the band was formed years before the Jackson's had even recorded their first record.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

"You're My Girl" by Franke & the Knockouts

Song#:  0657
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  27
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The group hit the Top 10 with their very first single "Sweetheart" (#10), which helped their album reach #31. It was further promoted by this second singled that cracked the Top 30. The success of the singles and album guaranteed that The Knockouts would get the chance to record a follow-up album.

ReduxReview:  This was an okay follow-up to their excellent "Sweetheart." It's just not in the same league. It is run o' da mill pop/rock that plays fine, but there is just nothing special about the tune. There were better songs than this on their debut album, but I'm sure the thought was that the chorus on this one was strong enough to carry it on radio.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The group's bass player, Leigh Foxx, worked with the group Blondie as a session musician around 1997. Foxx continued to work with the group over the years including co-writing songs with Deborah Harry. He finally became a full-fledged member of the band in 2009.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

"American Memories" by Shamus M'Cool

Redux Spotlight Alert!
Song#:  0656
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop

American Memories by M'Cool, Shamus on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Shamus M'Cool was the stage name of stand-up comedian Richard Doyle. M'Cool was also a musician and songwriter who had a small holiday chart hit in 1973 with "Santa's Little Helper, Dingo." With a style that leaned toward country, M'Cool wrote this nostalgic song and had it printed on his own Perception label. It spent a few short weeks on the chart and dropped off. However, the actual 45 and lore around it has lived on far past its minor chart history. So why am I giving this low-rated song a Spotlight? Because of it's interesting history (see below).

ReduxReview:  I really don't care for songs like this. You know - fondly (or not so fondly) remembering past times and events and wrapping it all up in an American flag complete with Velveeta music. Yeah, there have been hard times and good times and America rocks, but I just don't need it blathered to me in a song. At an old job, I used to get demo tapes and there were several that sounded just like this. They would usually surface when the country was going through some difficult political times and many focused on how great everything was back in the day but that we are now on the road to hell. At least this one doesn't go that far. On rare occasions this theme can be effective if done well. Unfortunately, I don't think this is one of them.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  This record has an interesting history and I'll see if I can sum it up succinctly. M'Cool wrote and recorded this tune and got it pressed to a 45 with the b-side being "American Humor," which was 6 minutes of his stand-up show. The story goes that perhaps as little as ten 45s were printed and M'Cool delivered these to major market radio stations, especially around L.A., to get airplay. He thought for sure the song would be a hit. There were program directors who did put the song on their playlists (part of chart methodology then) and it allowed the song to reach the chart without ever selling a single copy in a store (since none were made for retail distribution). Unfortunately, the PD's either went on vacation or other things happened and the support they provided for the single quickly disappeared, as did the song. This all might have ended there except for two factors - it was on the Billboard chart and barely any copies exist. For record collectors, this makes the item an elusive treasure. It doesn't even have to be a good song. Just the fact it was a chart single and is very rare is lure enough. And indeed it has been a highly sought after item. Apparently, one went up for auction on eBay a few years ago and it fetched $2,000. And even though you can hear the song on various sites (like above), it's the actual physical item that is still highly collectable. It has been said that M'Cool was very upset about what happened (or didn't happen) with his song and it was a bitter subject. Unfortunately M'Cool never really got to see all the interest his wanna-be hit single finally generated as he died in 1990. So if you are ever looking through old 45 record bins, remember this title!

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Ready for Love" by Silverado

Song#:  0655
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  95
Peak:  92
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Soft Rock

Ready For Love by Silverado on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Hailing from Connecticut, this group was signed to RCA on the west coast and they released  a couple country-rock albums in 1976 and 1977. The LPs didn't move nationally, but they did scored some local airplay. Their association with RCA ended and with that came a move back east. They signed with Pavillion/CBS and issued the soft rock disc "Ready for Love." The title track was the lead single and it gained enough attention to get it on the chart for a few weeks. But it wasn't enough to keep the group going and it would be their final album.

ReduxReview:  Oh such disappointment. This song starts off great with a nice opening and a really cool verse and I thought for sure I'd discovered a lost treasure. But then the chorus hits and it turns into a bland, dorky, sing-songy tune that basically negates the excellent lead-up. If not for the opening and verse, the rating for this song would be notches lower, but I'm scoring some points here for coming up with half of a terrific song.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This group was founded and mainly consisted of two musicians - Carl Shillo and Buzz Goodwin. Although Goodwin left the band after their heyday to work in the pro audio biz (and unfortunately died in 2013), Shillo still continues to play under the Silverado moniker in the New England area.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

"(There's) No Gettin' Over Me" by Ronnie Milsap

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0654
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  75
Peak:  5
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  By this time, Milsap was already a country superstar with 17 #1's already in his chart bank (this would become his 18th), but acceptance on pop radio was slow to come. Over the years he could only get a couple Top 30 entries, but this lead single from his album "There's No Gettin' Over Me" finally broke him through into the Top 10. Sadly, it would be his only song to do so. The success of the single helped the album become his best effort on the pop chart (#31) and it would serve as his second #1 country album.

ReduxReview:  Obviously one of Milsap's best and it certainly was worthy of getting into the Top 10 - finally! It's such an easy-going song and his vocal is great. During the time on the pop chart when country artists were crossing that line between pop and country, this was one of the best that came along.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song won Milsap the Grammy for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Male. It would be his third Grammy in the category.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Everlasting Love" by Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet

Song#:  0653
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  80
Peak:  32
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop

Everlasting Love by Rex Smith & Rachel Sweet on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Smith became a major teen idol in the 70s with his Tiger Beat photos and posters all over bedroom walls. Primarily a musician, Smith also got involved in acting and had several roles on stage and in TV and film. In the music world, he is mainly known for his gold #10 record "You Take My Breath Away" (1979) that was featured in a TV movie he was in called "Sooner or Later." Although he ended up recording six albums for Columbia Records, only "You Take" and this single reached the chart. Sweet had recorded two rock LPs with Stiff Records and then moved over to Columbia for her next LP where she was paired with Smith for this duet. She would release only one follow-up album before quitting the music biz in 1982, later focusing on writing and producing for TV including shows like "Hot in Cleveland."

ReduxReview:  You can't really improve on the Carl Carlton disco version of this song (see below) and trying to turn it into a rock-oriented tune doesn't quite work. The vocals are actually quite good, but the arrangement can't make up its mind what to do. There are crunchy guitars, bells, strings, and other sounds that combined make the whole thing all muddled, which is sad because this is really a great tune. The singers try to rise above it, but overall it falls flat.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of the #13 hit by Robert Knight (1967). It has since hit the Top 40 four other times with Carl Carlton (#6, 1974), the Smith/Sweet duet, and Gloria Estefan (#27, 1995). It is only one of two songs that has been remade and been a Top 40 hit in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. The only other song to accomplish this is "The Way You Do the Things You Do," originally a hit by The Temptations in 1964.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"The Real Thing" by The Brothers Johnson

Song#:  0652
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  67
Weeks: 6
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  The two Johnson brothers had four consecutive platinum albums including their popular 1980 effort "Light Up the Night," which featured the hit "Stomp!" (#7). All of these albums were produced by Quincy Jones and the Brothers seemed to have a good thing going. However, that came to an end with their next album "Winners," which the Brothers took on production duties themselves. The album failed to replicate the success of their previous albums and fell far short of expectations by not even reaching gold status. This single fell shy of the R&B Top 10 peaking at #11 and barely made a dent in the pop chart where it would be their final charting song. It was not a good start and further singles couldn't really get anywhere. The duo broke up briefly in 1982 but did put out a couple more albums before the decade was out, but the best they could manage were a couple of R&B Top 20 entries. This song basically ended the heyday for the duo.

ReduxReview:  Although not a bad song at all, it just doesn't have that same spark as some of their previous songs. After four discs with Jones, I'm sure they thought they were ready to branch out on their own, but I think Jones' guidance is missing here. It bops along pretty good, but it lacks something solid to latch onto like "Stomp!" had.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Two songs from the duo's debut album ended up being remade later by their producer. Quincy Jones' 1989 Grammy-winning Album of the Year LP "Back on the Block" featured the Brothers' songs "Tomorrow" and "I'll Be Good to You," which the Brothers took to #3 in 1976. The Quincy Jones version of "I'll Be Good to You" was performed by Ray Charles and Chaka Khan and it reached #18, while Tevin Campbell sang "Tomorrow" and reached #75.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Walk Right Now" by The Jacksons

Song#:  0651
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  73
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  Although the third single from their "Victory" album was not a success ("Can You Feel It," #77), this fourth single was issued and it didn't really do much better. Perhaps because "Can You Feel It" reached the UK Top 10 the label felt that a follow-up was needed, and indeed this single also went Top 10 there. Even though the songs were not clicking on the US pop chart, this song did reach #5 on the dance chart.

ReduxReview:  This era of the Jacksons is almost really good. I've liked the two previous singles, but not loved them and I think this falls in the same line. They have some good ideas and arrangements, but I'm not sure that the songs are as fully realized as they could be. With Michael learning more and having great success with his solo songs (writing his own and using other composers' songs), you can hear his influences here, but it seems like co-writing with his brothers holds him back. Their work is just not as strong and it makes what is potentially a great song just good.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  For a long time, it was commonly thought that Diana Ross discovered The Jackson 5 with Berry Gordy - hence the title of their debut album "Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5." However, that was a publicity maneuver. It was actually Gladys Knight who first heard the group and brought them to the attention of Berry Gordy. Gordy didn't want to sign the young kids at first, but after an audition he saw the potential and brought them on to the Motown label. But to get the ball rolling, a plan for a celebrity endorsement to "introduce" the group was hatched and that lead to Diana Ross promoting the group and making it seem like her and Gordy found them. It obviously worked.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

"It Hurts to Be in Love" by Dan Hartman

Song#:  0650
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  72
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  After issuing a couple of disco/dance-oriented LPs that did pretty good business and reached the chart, Hartman moved away from that dying genre and released an album that leaned towards pop/rock. "It Hurts to Be in Love" got off to a slow start with the first ballad single "Heaven in Your Arms" only reaching #86. This second title-track single was a very slight improvement, but it still wasn't enough to generate interest in the LP and it sank without getting on the album chart.

ReduxReview:  As a fan of Gene Pitney (see below), his Brill Building take is still far better. But Hartman does a nice job with the update and it sounds good, even though it seems to lack a little personality. It needs a little dirty drama to really push the song, which was always a highlight of a solid Pitney vocal. Very pleasant to hear, but I'll stick to the original.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of the #7 hit by Gene Pitney in 1964. The song was originally intended for Neil Sedaka, but a label issue prevented his first version from being released. Sedaka recorded a second version, but it was again denied release. The song was offered to Pitney and strangely, they took Sedaka's second take and simply replaced his lead vocal with Pitney's. For whatever reason, that was acceptable and Pitney's version reached the Top 10.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Don't Let Go the Coat" by The Who

Song#:  0649
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  84
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Who reached the Top 20 for the last time (and the UK Top 10) with "You Better You Bet" (#18) from their album "Face Dances." This follow-up single couldn't come close to that peak and faded quickly from the chart. The song is interpreted by some to be about the teachings of Meher Baba, the Indian spiritual master, whom Pete Townshend followed. Townshend wrote several pieces with Baba in mind and even one of The Who's most famous songs was partially inspired by him - "Baba O'Riley."

ReduxReview:  After the exciting "You Better You Bet," this is kind of a let-down. It's very laid back and just seems too subtle for radio. And it seems like Daltrey's voice is too big for this little ditty. Especially by the end it seems he just wants to rip it up, but then realizes it's not that kind of song. I wouldn't count this among The Who's best at all.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The album "Face Dances" was The Who's first without drummer Keith Moon, who had died of an overdose three years earlier. Small Faces/Faces drummer Kenney Jones took over the spot and recorded this album with the group.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

"Nicole" by Point Blank

Song#:  0648
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  39
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Southern Rock

Nicole by Point Blank on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  This Texas band got together in 1974 and a couple years later released their debut album for Arista. Bill Ham, who managed ZZ Top, had taken on this group but they couldn't reach the same level of success. However, they were a popular touring act and they managed to get out six LPs before calling it quits in 1983. Before doing that, they achieved their one and only chart entry with this radio hit from their album "American Exce$$."

ReduxReview:  Oddly, I remember this song even though it wasn't a big hit and is not in a genre I frequently like to hear. The beginning almost plays like an older ZZ Top tune, but the chorus moves towards arena rock territory. I think by this time the band was trying to be more commercial and basically succeeded with this song. For a style that I don't usually like, this is a pretty good ditty and one that sort of stuck with me.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Long before guiding ZZ Top to fame, Bill Ham recorded a single for Dot Records in 1960. On the same label as Pat Boone (and a similar sound), the single "Wanderer" didn't go anywhere. A decade later, he would be helping ZZ Top release their debut album.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

"Someday, Someway" by Robert Gordon

Song#:  0647
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  76
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rockabilly

Someday, Someway by Robert Gordon on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Once Gordon heard Elvis Presley, he knew he had found his profession. He joined a couple of bands that got some attention early in his career, including the NYC punk group Tuff Darts, but ultimately he struck out on his own working on the rockabilly sound he first heard as a kid. Timing is everything and Gordon recorded his first record in collaboration with rockabilly legend Link Wray and it was issued in 1978, just when the genre was beginning a resurgence. The LP did pretty well and a single, "Red Hot," reached #83 on the chart (oddly due to the death of Presley as Gordon's music/voice were deemed similar and the song got airplay). Later, he signed with Presley's home label, RCA, and issued four albums for them. The last one, "Are You Gonna Be the One," featured this single which would be his last song to reach the chart.

ReduxReview:  Gordon was lucky to get hold of this song and it's a shame it didn't do better on the chart. It's a great song with Gordon's take a little more frantic than the writer's version (see below), which works well. Also, Gordon has a nice voice that is perfect for the tune. Fortunately, the song later did make it to the Top 40 and got some more exposure.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Gordon's second LP contained the Bruce Springsteen-penned "Fire." The song was offered to Gordon after Springsteen saw him perform. Springsteen even played piano on the recording. But the song ended up getting overshadowed when The Pointer Sisters recorded their hit #2 version.  2) This song was written by a then up-and-coming new artist Marshall Crenshaw. He would eventually do his own version the following year and reach the Top 40 with it, eclipsing the peak of Gordon's version.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

"On and On and On" by ABBA

Song#:  0646
Date:  06/27/1981
Debut:  92
Peak:  90
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  This third single from their "Super Trouper" LP spent quite a bit of time in the basement of the chart. It peaked only two positions higher than it debuted, but lingered around for six weeks. Although the album was their second-best peaking on the chart at #17 and went gold (their last studio album to do so), it was not their best-selling album by far. Their 1992 compilation album "Gold" would initially peak at #32, but it would go on to sell over six million copies in the US - that is more that all of their other certified albums combined. It is also their worldwide best-seller at 28 million making it on the list of the forty best-selling albums of all-time.

ReduxReview:  This song is a bit rockier (well, relatively speaking) than a good chunk of ABBA songs and the Beach Boys-ee "do-do's" in the chorus are a nice reference. I think it's a pretty smart song and I'm not sure why it didn't connect with radio/listeners in the US. Due to some of their previous Eurodisco-ish hits, they may have been tagged as disco and with that genre on the outs, they may have been unfairly dumped by US radio. It's too bad because I think folks missed a solid hit here.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This single was not chosen for release worldwide. It was issued in just a few countries including the US, where it made little impact. However, it did reach #9 in Australia and Top 20 in France.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Touch Me When We're Dancing" by Carpenters

Song#:  0645
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  76
Peak:  16
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Immensely popular during their 70s heyday, Richard and Karen Carpenter scored three #1's, five #2's and four other Top 10's from 1970 to 1975. Tagged by critics as white-bread and saccharine, it didn't deter record buyers who gave them eight platinum and six gold albums. It wasn't until years later in the 90s that naysayers came around and lauded their music - especially Karen's voice. The duo's popularity began to wane in the late 70s as tastes were changing and their style of easy listening/AC was not in favor. They had not had a Top 20 hit since 1976 and their last studio album was the first to not go gold since their debut in 1969. But plenty of Carpenters fans still were around when they released their first album of the 80s, "Made in America," and this single found its way into the Top 20 - their last to do so. It also became their fifteenth and final #1 hit on the AC chart. The album would also be the duo's final new release due to Karen's death in 1983 of heart failure stemming from long bout with anorexia nervosa.

ReduxReview:  You know, back in the day it was beyond uncool to like the Carpenters. They had such a clean, all-American image and their AC tunes were poo-poo'd by so many. Of course, I had a secret love of them and was especially fond of Karen's voice. I think it was/is one of the best in all of pop music. I like to call it "sadly beautiful." Her tone was amazing and she just seemed so committed to each song. Nowadays, most anyone says "oh, I love the Carpenters" and to that I say thanks for coming out of the closet! You should have back in the day, you bandwangoner. Yeah, their music could be spotty (the hits are amazing while some of their album material was pretty awful), but I adored them then, as I do even more now. Their "Made in America" album was not very good, but it did have a couple of highlights - this single being one of them. Although not top-notch Carpenters, it was one of their better latter day tunes.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was originally done by the group Bama in 1979. Their single reached #42 on the AC chart that year. A few other country artists covered the song with the most successful being the group Alabama who took the single to #1 on the country chart in 1986.  2) Carpenters were nominated for several Grammy awards and won three including Best New Artist in 1970.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"You Are Forever" by Smokey Robinson

Song#:  0644
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  79
Peak:  59
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Robinson was at the peak of his solo career with the single "Being with You" (#2) being his biggest pop hit and the same-titled album reaching #10 - his only solo album to do so. Unfortunately, this follow-up single petered out quickly and killed the momentum, as did most of his early-to-mid 80s singles. It would take another six years before he would see the Top 10 again.

ReduxReview:  Although written by Robinson (as was "Being with You"), it is just not as strong as that hit. It's a pleasant song, but it just pales in comparison when put next to that song or his other hits. It couldn't make much headway on the R&B chart either peaking at #31.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In addition to hits with The Miracles and his own solo works, Robinson also wrote major hits for other artists including classics like "My Guy" (Mary Wells, #1, 1964), "The Way You Do the Things You Do" (The Temptations, #11, 1964), and "My Girl" (The Temptations, #1, 1965).

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Monday, December 2, 2013

"The Kid Is Hot Tonight" by Loverboy

Song#:  0643
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  55
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Canadian group Loverboy's self-titled debut album was platinum success in the US bolstered by the rock hit "Turn Me Loose" (#35 pop). Their follow-up single was this lead track off the album which hit the Canadian Top 20, but fell short on the US chart.

ReduxReview:  Although not quite as good or memorable as "Turn Me Loose," it's a pretty good chunk of early-80s rock and a worthy follow-up to that song.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The artwork for the cover of their debut album was done by Canadian artist Barbara Astman. Her work often will be a mix of photography with other modern technological media. She will also user her own image as the basis for her work, as she did on the "Loverboy" cover. The image displayed is a self-portrait Polaroid pic of the artist that includes lyrics from the album typed directly on the photo. The cover was her first commercial piece of work.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

"Some Changes Are for Good" by Dionne Warwick

Song#:  0642
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  65
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  After her second successful album with her new label home Arista ("No Night So Long," #23 LP, #23 pop title-track), Warwick issued her first solo live album in a decade. "Hot! Live and Otherwise" was a double-LP that featured three sides of live performances and one side of new studio recordings. The disc was not a major success, petering out at #72, and this first studio-track single didn't do well in promoting the album. A second attempt at a single with "There's a Long Road Ahead of Us" fared even worse and couldn't get on the chart.

ReduxReview:  Although not a bad tune, it's just another standard balls-out pop ballad that isn't really a standout. Warwick sounds as good as usual and belts it up, but it's kind of wasted on a paint-by-numbers song.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Warwick's first #1 pop hit came in 1974 in a duet with the Spinners. Produced by Thom Bell, "Then Came You" was not an initial favorite of Warwick's. She wasn't a fan of the song but Bell thought different. They apparently made a bet by ripping a dollar bill in half, signing a half, and exchanging the halves. Bell said if the song didn't hit #1, he's send her the other half. Well, guess who got half of a dollar bill sent to him with an apology on it...?

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Suzi Found a Weapon" by Randy VanWarmer

Song#:  0641
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  55
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  VanWarmer's previous album, "Terraforma," couldn't find any solid ground and pretty much sank along with its associated single, "Whatever You Decide" (#77). His next album, "Beat of Love," didn't reverse the downward trend, but it did feature this single which made it about halfway up the chart. It would be his last chart entry.

ReduxReview:  This song falls even further away from his lovely ballad "Just When I Needed You Most" (#4, 1979). It almost crosses over into new wave territory. It's nothing that makes you go "wow!," but it chugs along pretty good. I kind of sounds like an outtake from a Cars session.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Growing up, VanWarmer dreamed of being an astronaut and loved the space program. Although that did not work out for him, he did eventually end up in space. After his death in 2004 from leukemia, his cremated remains were sent into space in 2007.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

"Lady (You Bring Me Up)" by The Commodores

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0640
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  8
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  The group scored two #1 ballads in the late 70s ("Three Times a Lady" and "Still") and continued to be ballad-heavy moving into the 80s, which pretty much brought a halt to their hit streak. They made a change and with their next LP, "In the Pocket," and issued this uptempo first single that got them back into the Top 10 (#5 R&B). This eighth pop Top 10 for them would appropriately peak at #8.

ReduxReview:   The Richie ballads were basically taking over and they were on the verge of becoming a smooth pop/AC group. Luckily, this single came along and rescued them. It was a fresh blast from them and, for me, one of their best hits.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The lead vocal duties of the group were usually shared by Lionel Richie and Walter "Clyde" Orange. But as Richie's penned ballads that he sang were becoming major hits, he started to become the voice and face of the group. Although this song was not written by Richie, he did handle the lead vocals and it only increased his popularity. This would be his final album before leaving for a solo career.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Love on a Two-Way Street" by Stacy Lattisaw

Song#:  0639
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  26
Weeks:  17
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Teenager Lattisaw reached #21 on the pop chart with her #8 R&B tune "Let Me Be Your Angel." With some momentum going, her next single would be this ballad from her new LP, "With You." It got her a second pop chart entry and a #2 R&B hit. The album would be her second (and last) to reach the R&B Top 10.

ReduxReview:  Although the hit version (see below) is kind of an R&B classic, it's not one of my favorites. It's a little dramatic, but not quite. Then it sounds like it's going to rev into epic mode, but then it doesn't. I dunno. It almost sounds unfinished to me. Lattisaw's teen voice almost matches that of the singer in The Moments, so there is not much new she's offering here. For me, neither are bad, but neither are great.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of the #3 hit by The Moments in 1970 (#1 R&B). Co-written by Sylvia Robinson (of Mikey & Sylvia and Sugar Hill Records fame), the tune was first recorded by vocalist Lezlie Valentine before The Moments included it on an album in 1968. However, it wasn't issued as a single until two-years later and it became a gold record for the group.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Don't Want to Wait Anymore" by The Tubes

Song#:  0638
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  35
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Formed from bits of other bands, The Tubes gained popularity through their live shows that played out like performance art production numbers. Their early songs were often parodies or satirical in nature and lead singer Fee Waybill would often perform as characters like the British druggy pop artist Quay Lewd. They signed with A&M Records and issued their self-titled debut LP in 1975, which featured the cult hit "White Punks on Dope." However, studio recordings couldn't capture the manic frenzy of their stage shows and sales were not great. A&M hung on to the group for five albums, but finally ditched the band after the release of their well-reviewed concept album "Remote Control" (#46, 1979). Capital picked up the band, brought on board mega-producer David Foster, and their next concept album, "The Completion Backward Principle," was released. This glossy pop/rock ballad (unusual for the group) was issued as the first single and it became their first to hit the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  I was only slightly familiar with The Tubes before this song came out - mainly because I had heard "White Punks on Dope" and read about their freaky shows. When I first heard this song, I didn't know who was doing it and I loved it. Then I was really surprised when I found out it was The Tubes. It just didn't fit what I knew about them. This is the point where they moved towards the mainstream, which probably didn't suit their old fans very well. Yeah, it's glossy pop, but it was well done and I still really like the song.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The concept for the "The Completion Backward Principle" LP was based on an actual sales training manual. Although the songs may not exactly follow a concept, the packaging was designed like a business document complete with photos of the band in suits, position titles, and a mission statement.

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"Fly Away" by Blackfoot

Song#:  0637
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  42
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  Originally forming as Fresh Garbage in 1969, the band went through numerous personnel and location changes before seeking a contract as Blackfoot. However, the group couldn't find any label interest and basically stopped when two members were offered roles in the Lynyrd Skynyrd band. The band began to reform again around 1972 and by 1975 they had a new line-up and record contract. Their first two albums tanked, but their third for Atco Records did the trick and they hit the Top 40 with "Highway Song" (#26) and "Train Train" (#38). Another successful album came out a year later followed by the LP "Marauder." This single from that album just missed the Top 40 and it would be their last to hit the chart. With the MTV generation beginning, Blackfoot wasn't quite prepared and with diminishing returns they tried to change their look and sound to little success. By 1985 the group called it quits (although a few iterations would reform and tour later).

ReduxReview:  I knew going in that Blackfoot was Southern rock, so I was not real excited about this one. However, it was a slight surprise on the good side. It rocks along in a nice carefree way that almost moves north into heartland rock. It's kind of refreshing when set next to their standard hard/Southern rock tunes. I'm still no fan, but this was a nice listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Their Top 40 song "Train Train" was actually written by group member Rickey Medlocke's grandfather Shorty. Several artists have covered this song including a bluegrass version by Dolly Parton that appeared on her Grammy-winning album "The Grass Is Blue" (1999).

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Rich Man" by Terri Gibbs

Song#:  0636
Date:  06/20/1981
Debut:  95
Peak:  89
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  Gibbs' debut single "Somebody's Knockin'," was a surprise success hitting #13 pop and #7 country. It would be her biggest hit on both charts. This follow-up single couldn't quite get out of the pop chart basement and at country it peaked just inside the Top 20 at #19. It would be her last song to reach the pop chart. She would go on to have three more country Top 20 entries with her last charting song coming in 1987.

ReduxReview:  This kind of borders on blue-eyed soul ala Dusty Springfield or maybe along the lines of Bobby Gentry. It's actually not a bad song, but I just find Gibbs' delivery kind of flat. I have a feeling she may sound better live than on record. She obviously has talent, but I'm just not sure it comes across on vinyl.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After her hit debut album, Gibbs' major label follow-ups couldn't repeat the success. After four more studio albums, she switch gears and turned to Contemporary Christian music. Her first effort in that market, 1987's "Turn Around," was well-received and got her a Grammy nomination. She would record two more albums and then retired from the music business. Although she is still an active musician, she spends most of her time working with various ministry-based organizations.

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"I Don't Need You" by Kenny Rogers

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0635
Date:  06/13/1981
Debut:  33
Peak:  3
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Rogers was on a hot streak and it peaked with his biggest pop hit "Lady" (#1). That song was a collaboration between Rogers and Lionel Richie. The success of that single prompted the two to work on a full album and "Share Your Love" was issued and this first single was another pop chart success and his ninth solo country #1.

ReduxReview:   This definitely leans toward pop/AC than country and it worked well with Richie providing solid production. I've always liked the song and Rogers sounds good. A friend in high school and I used to sing this together. We would sing the first verse really quiet and then scream the next section (the "but we both want it bad enough"). We thought it was hilarious. I don't think others did...

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Rick Christian and he originally recorded it and released it as a single in 1978, but it did not chart. The song was also recorded by Harry Nilsson in 1980 before Rogers found the song and made it a hit.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

"Don't Let Him Go" by REO Speedwagon

Song#:  0634
Date:  06/13/1981
Debut:  72
Peak:  24
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  With two smash singles, REO's album "Hi-Infidelity" would spent 15 weeks at #1. This third single was the album's opener and although it couldn't quite make it into the Top 20, it kept album sales going. It would become the year's best selling album and would eventually sell over 10 million copies.

ReduxReview:  This was the third gem in a row from this album. With the Bo Diddley beat and kick-ass arena sound, this one was hard to resist. It rocked out a bit more that the previous two ballad-ish hit singles, so that could have been a deterrent in going higher on the chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Some of the background vocals on the album would be provided by Richard Page. Page would front his own band, Mr. Mister, who later got their own #1 album "Welcome to the Real World" in 1985.

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"Hard Times" by James Taylor

Song#:  0633
Date:  06/13/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  72
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Taylor's break-up album, "Dad Loves His Work," yielded his last Top 40 hit with "Her Town Too," a collaboration with J.D. Souther. This second single from the album didn't catch on and spent a minor few weeks at pop and only hit #23 at AC. The album reached #10 and went platinum, but it would be Taylor's last Top 10 album for sixteen years. He finally returned to the Top 10 with 1997's "Hourglass," which peaked at #9.

ReduxReview:  This is very, well, James Taylor-y. It's a mid-tempo shuffle with the theme of trying to keep positive to make it through all the bad stuff. It's a nice tune, but since Taylor's music doesn't really grab me, it's nothing I'd choose to hear again. The background voices and arrangement are quite nice and perk up the song, but I don't think it was a solid single choice.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Taylor's first solo recording contract was with The Beatles' Apple Records. He was the first non-UK artist signed to the label. Taylor's self-titled debut came out in 1968 and featured his classic song "Caroline in My Mind." Neither were major hits at the time, which was partially due to Taylor's inability to do promotions stemming from hospitalization from his drug use. It would be his only album for Apple as the company went through an overhaul and Taylor left the label. He later signed with Warner where his hit streak started with the #3 LP "Sweet Baby James" (1970).

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

"What She Does to Me" by The Producers

Song#:  0632
Date:  06/13/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  61
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Power Pop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  After becoming popular playing around their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, this group signed to Portrait Records and issued their self-titled debut album. This first single became a regional hit and it helped to propel it on the national chart where it remained for a few weeks. They issued a follow-up LP in 1982, "You Make the Heat," but no singles charted and the group was dropped from the label. A couple of more albums would follow (with one being shelved and finally released in 2001), but the group called it a day in 1991.

ReduxReview:  While not a great song, this one bops along pretty good and is an interesting listen. The mid section is a nice add and I've seen a tag of (The Diana Song) used in the title, most likely because it is different and the use of the name is prominent. I can imagine radio station callers not really knowing the name of the song and just asking to "play that Diana song."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Before becoming The Producers and doing their own music, the group was originally a Beatles cover band called Cartoon.  2) A song on their third album was a collaboration with the group Kansas. The song, "Can't Cry Anymore," appeared on The Producers' "Run for Your Life" album (1985) and Kansas' "Power" album (1986).

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Another Ticket" by Eric Clapton

Song#:  0631
Date:  06/13/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  78
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This second title-track single from his LP "Another Ticket" couldn't repeat the success of the lead single "I Can't Stand It" (#10) and after two consecutive platinum studio album, this one was only able to reach gold level. It would also be his last Top 10 album (#7) for 11 years. He would rebound in a big way with 1992's #1 live disc "Unplugged," which went on to win six Grammys including Album of the Year. It's popularity was bolstered by the hit singles "Tears in Heaven" (#2) and a remake of Derek and the Dominoes "Layla" (#12).

ReduxReview:  Initially I didn't really like this song. It crept along at a snail's pace and it seemed to be lacking anything remotely memorable for a single release. But there was something a bit alluring about the song and after a few listens, it started to sound good to me. It's nothing that bowls you over, but it is soft and intimate and a nice tune. However, these things usually don't translate into a hit single and I think this may have been better off being an album track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Speaking of Derek and the Dominoes, for those two people out there who don't know this, that was one of the groups that Clapton was a member. Before really hitting up a solo career in 1970, Clapton was a member of The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes. He racked up four Top 10's with these groups (including the original #10 "Layla") before he had his first solo hit with 1970's "After Midnight" (#18).

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Friday, November 22, 2013

"Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone)" by John Denver

Song#:  0630
Date:  06/13/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  36
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  Denver took a career hit when his previous album, "Autograph," only reached #39 and failed to go gold. His next effort, "Some Days Are Diamonds," seemed to shift the focus from pop/folk to country and this lead title-track single returned him to the country Top 10 (#10) for the first time in seven years. It's popularity also pushed it into the pop Top 40, his first in four years.

ReduxReview:  I never really liked this song but I can see its appeal to a country audience at the time. The rhythm, lyrics, melody, and arrangement fit right into that genre at the time. I'm just surprised it went as high as it did at pop as it seemed that audience was abandoning him by this time.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The song is a remake of the 1976 original recorded by the song's writer, country artist Dick Feller. Feller's version failed to chart. The song was also covered by another country artist, Bobby Bare, but it was not issued as a single.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Gemini Dream" by The Moody Blues

Song#:  0629
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  66
Peak:  12
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  In 1972, the Moodies had their highest peaking LP in the US with "Seventh Sojourn" hitting #1. It featured the #12 single "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)." But success had its toll and with all the touring, running their own label, and other issues weighing down the band, they decided to take a break. They returned to recording in 1977 and the following year issued their return LP "Octave." The album was successful, reaching #13 and going platinum. It wasn't a smash hit, but did hint at changes in the group's direction. During the recording, one of the founding members of the group quit. Mike Pinder was the person who developed much of the group's concepts and orchestral arrangements. His absence allowed the group to evolve their sound and they began to move away from the orchestrated concepts. Their next LP, "Long Distance Voyager," was a more focused effort and it put them back in the #1 spot, becoming one of their most successful albums. It featured this lead single that just missed out on the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  As much as I like a lot of their concept/orchestra LPs and epic songs, this is one of their best tunes. It's just a solid, straight-ahead rocker and a good jam. Some balked that this was the beginning of the group heading down a synth-pop road and I do recognized it is not the sound of the earlier Moodies, but it is the sound of a group evolving and adapting. While other group's of their era like Chicago were struggling in their old, dated ways, the Moodies laid down the gauntlet with this tune and greatly succeeded. It sounds a bit dated now, but I still love it.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Formed in 1964, the early version of the Moodies was basically a blues cover band. They had success early on with the #10 "Go Now" (1965), but they didn't really like their direction and wanted to perform their own songs. An idea was presented to them to do a rock version of Dvorak's "New World Symphony." They took the project on, but ended up evolving that idea into an album of their songs done conceptually with orchestral interludes and accompaniment. The result was "Days of Future Passed" (1967) and on initial release, it wasn't a significant hit. But after they started getting hits, attention went back to the LP and a reissue in 1972 brought it back to life with the single "Nights in White Satin" hitting #2 and the album reaching #3. It's now considered a classic and it helped pioneer the use of orchestral music in rock.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Fantasy Girl" by 38 Special

Song#:  0628
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  52
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  This band was coming off their rock radio staple "Hold On Loosely" (#27 pop, #3 Mainstream Rock) when this second single from their "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys" album was issued. It couldn't make as much headway as the first, but did make it about halfway up the chart and it helped to make the album the group's first platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  Following up a song like "Hold On Loosely" has got to be tough and I think they were going for a similar sounding tune on this one. The song is pretty good, but I'm not sure it makes the best single. Both songs share a couple of the same writers, so it may have seemed like a good choice. I think the peak may have shown that it may not have been.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  38 Special's producer, Rodney Mills, would go on to work with the group on nine of their albums. He would also work as engineer and/or producer for other Southern Rock outfits like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Allman Brothers, and the Doobie Brothers.  But an oddity among all this rock is his engineering credit for Alicia Bridges' debut album and her hit disco single "I Love the Nightlife" (#5, 1978).

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Tom Sawyer" by Rush

Song#:  0627
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  44
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Prog Rock, Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  Rush's second single from their classic LP "Moving Pictures" couldn't quite make the Top 40, but it was their highest peaking entry on the chart at the time. The group's prog rock tunes are not necessarily pop radio fare, so having this get more than halfway up the chart was quite an accomplishment. Although they have several rock radio staples in their catalog, this one is arguably their most recognizable and one of their signature songs.

ReduxReview:  Although not my top favorite Rush song (that would go to "Red Barchetta"), it comes close and is probably the quintessential Rush song. It has about everything you need to hear from them - philosophical lyrics, time signature changes, great drums, Geddy Lee's voice, and cool arrangement featuring interesting synth sounds - all meshed together into a short (for them) almost-commercial song.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was a collaboration with lyricst Pye Dubois, who worked with another popular Canadian group Max Webster. Dubois' poem "Louis the Lawyer" was transformed into the song using the title character of the classic Mark Twain book.  2) This song was used in a "Family Guy" episode along with the advertising character Chester Cheetah. It cracked me up (caution - language):



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Monday, November 18, 2013

"Feels So Right" by Alabama

Song#:  0626
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  20
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  Some members of this group began playing together in the late 60s before officially forming as Wildcountry in 1973. When they got their first record deal in 1977, the label requested a name change and they became The Alabama Band. After some label and management issues, the band found themselves a new home at RCA Records and their fourth LP "My Home's in Alabama" was issued. It was a major success hitting #3 on the country album chart with two singles reaching the top of the country singles chart - the first two in a streak of 21 consecutive #1's. Their next LP "Feel So Right" was an even bigger success and it featured this #1 country title track single that found it's way to the pop Top 20 and #9 AC.

ReduxReview:  This is just a really pretty song with Randy Owens' voice grabbing you from the opening line. The group had tons of hits with a few hitting the pop chart, but for me this is their best moment.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song got Alabama a Grammy nomination for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. The album also won the Academy of Country Music's Album of the Year award.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Paradise" by Change

Song#:  0625
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Dance



Pop Bits:  The Italio-American group who first introduced listeners to Luther Vandross (singing lead on a couple songs from their debut), found success with their gold album "The Glow of Love." That album had the #1 dance hit (and #40 pop entry) "A Lover's Holiday." Their second LP offering, "Miracles," featured this lead single which also hit #1 on the dance chart. However, it didn't translate as well to the pop market this time and it only hung out for a few weeks on the chart.

ReduxReview:  Although it is still along the lines of "A Lover's Holiday," the production is amped up and better and it is slightly more memorable. Still doesn't rise too far above average dance floor fare, but it plays well.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Co-founder of Change, Mauro Malavasi, co-produced and co-wrote most of the music for the pseudo-group (basically, tracks were written/recorded it Italy, then flow to New York where vocals were added). Later in 1997, Malavasi would have great success co-producing the mega-hit album "Romanza" by Italian vocalist Andrea Bocelli. Malvasi also wrote the title-track tune.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Queen of Hearts" by Juice Newton

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0624
Date:  05/30/1981
Debut:  76
Peak:  2
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Pop, Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  Newton followed up her smash remake of Merrilee Rush's "Angel of the Morning" (#4) with this second single from her "Juice" album. This single even exceeded the previous one hitting #2 and becoming her biggest hit on the pop chart. It was also her second gold single in a row and her biggest hit to that point on the country chart (#14). Newton receive a Grammy nod for the song for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  Here is another dorkily good song.  I say that because people kind of chuckle when the song is brought up or when it starts playing it is met with a few "oh man - stupid song" comments. But barely through the first chorus people are usually boppin' to it. Or you are grabbing a hairbrush like a mic and singing to the cat (not that I've done that...well...maybe). It's just a fun song and a bit of irresistible pop-country.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Like "Angel of the Morning," this song is a remake, but just not as well-known. The song was originally recorded by Dave Edmunds in 1979 and he had a hit with the song in the UK where it reached #11. It was also recorded by Rodney Crowell in 1980, but it was not issued as a single.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

"Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" by Jim Steinman

Song#:  0623
Date:  05/30/1981
Debut:  80
Peak:  32
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Steinman's background is in musical theater and he was writing shows in college in the late 60s. One of his shows from 1973 featured an actor named Marvin Lee Aday, aka Meat Loaf. The two hit it off and would work together on Meat Loaf's hugely successful debut album "Bat Out of Hell" (1977). While beginning production on that album's follow-up, Meat Loaf had voice issues and had to drop out of the project. Steinman decided to pick up the torch and finish the album himself singing most of the lead vocals (Rory Dodd picks up some lead work as well). It became his one and only solo album titled "Bad for Good" and this first single made it into the Top 40. The LP hit #63 here in the States, but was a hit in the UK where it reached the Top 10. This song would also be Steinman's one and only chart entry.

ReduxReview:  I really do like Steinman's epic, oddball songs but my nickname for him is The Great Recycler. He continually takes ideas/passages from stuff he already wrote/recorded and will use it in another "new" song. Or he will work on a project with an artist and instead of writing something new, he will use a song that another artist already recorded. A good example is the song "Stark Raving Love" from Steinman's "Bad for Good" LP. He took sections from that song and reworked it into "Holding Out for a Hero," done by Bonnie Tyler.  Meat Loaf was the intended singer for the "Bad for Good" songs and he did end up covering some of them on later LPs. Even the crazy-ass spoken word piece on the album, "Love and Death of An American Guitar," was used in other songs and itself was a spinoff of Meat Loaf's "Paradise By the Dashboard Lights." I think this particular single may be one of his originals that was truly original and for me it is one of his best. Steinman really does not have a good voice, so it helps that this song was actually sung by Rory Dodd instead of Steinman. Although still epic in a way, it is not so crazy-over-the-top as some of his hit songs would be like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" or "Making Love Out of Nothing at All."

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Originally intended for Meat Loaf, he did finally cover it in 1994 for his reunion album with Steinman "Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell." It served as the second single from the album, following the #1 "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)." The song reached #13 on the pop chart.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Slow Hand" by The Pointer Sisters

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0622
Date:  05/30/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  2
Weeks:  24
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  With the success of "Fire" and "He's So Shy," the Sisters' would continue their new pop-oriented direction with producer Richard Perry and their third album together, "Black & White," featured this #2 single, which ultimately became their biggest pop chart hit. The success of this single drove the LP to #12, making it their best charting album at the time.

ReduxReview:  They went down the same sultry, smokey path of "Fire" and came out with another winner. The Pointers had a knack for taking songs like these and really making them simmer, but soon they would be all about the pop/dance and there wasn't much room for songs like this, which is too bad. This would be their last hit ballad.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This is one of those occasions where a pop hit was remade and turned into a country hit - and in this case, twice. First, country singer Del Reeves release a version of this song in 1981 which reached #53. Then country superstar Conway Twitty released his version in 1982 and it reached #1 - just one among his 40 country #1's

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