Saturday, January 26, 2013

"I Get Off on It" by Tony Joe White

Song#:  0230
Date:  06/28/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  79
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Country Rock, Blues

Pop Bits:  White developed his brand of swamp-rock via his native Louisiana and began his recording career in 1968 when his first album, "Black and White," debuted. Initially, the album went nowhere as did the singles released. But months later, one of the singles, "Polk Salad Annie," made it to the pop chart and climbed all the way to #8 in 1969. He had two other minor singles that followed, but that was it until this humorous song got a little traction and scraped the chart. Although he has continuously recorded albums since his debut, only three managed to get on the pop albums chart.

ReduxReview:  I'm just guessing, but a song with this title and subjects that include cross dressing, flashing, and bondage was probably not high on radio programming lists back in the day. But the funny nature and quirkiness of the song seemed to attract some listeners. It is kind of a fun song for a concert and a clever jam, but I can't say I'd listen to this with any frequency.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Besides having Elvis Presley covering "Polk Salad Annie" and Dusty Springfield doing "Willie and Laura Mae Jones," White's biggest hit as a songwriter came via Brook Benton who took "Rainy Night in Georgia" to #4 in 1970.


Friday, January 25, 2013

"My Mistake" by The Kingbees

Song#:  0229
Date:  06/28/1980
Debut:  89
Peak:  81
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock, New Wave, Rockabilly

Pop Bits:  This SoCal group led by Jamie James brought elements of rockabilly to their new wave sound and were able to get signed to the RSO label. Their debut disc didn't get much attention until this single got some significant airplay in Detroit, where their sound fit in with local hit makers like The Romantics and The Rockets. It didn't fully catch fire nationally, but it was enough to call for a second LP. Unfortunately, RSO folded very soon after and the group then disbanded.

ReduxReview:  This is not necessarily the Stray Cats rockabilly, but it definitely has elements. I sense some Nick Lowe-type influences too. It grooves pretty good, but I'm not raving about this rave-up.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Jamie James later helped to form a rock and roll band called DQ and The Sharks. The DQ in question is actor/musician Dennis Quaid.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Honey, Honey" by David Hudson

Song#:  0228
Date:  06/28/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  59
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Soul, R&B

Milestone! - When I first started this project, my focus was just the songs that debuted  in the 80s. So that meant that on that very first chart in January, 1980, there were 95 songs I would not cover because they were already on the chart from 1979. Some of these songs have lingered on the chart far into 1980, but beginning with this specific chart week, it marks the time when all leftover songs from 1979 are off the chart. So from this chart forward, I will have heard all 100 songs on each chart.This also marks the last chart for the first half of 1980.

Pop Bits:  Wow - I can find very little on this artist. It appears like he was a Southern soul singer originally from Atlanta and then ended up in Miami. He released on album in 1980 titled "To You Honey, Honey With Love" for the Alston label. The title track spent a little time on the chart. It was his only pop entry.

ReduxReview:  Okay, the lyrics (especially at the beginning) are just hideous. I could barely get passed them. But the chorus section is actually well done (lyrics aside). I kind of like the song and I think it rises above the average R&B ballad. But those lyrics are just cringe inducing.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Hudson was brought in to the TK Records stable. They were a major player in the era of disco and produced/released hits by KC and the Sunshine Band, Gwen McCrae, George McCrae, and the Ritchie Family. However, with the decline of disco, sales virtually halted and the company folded and declared bankruptcy in 1981. Hudson seemed to be a casualty as there appeared to be no other album released. His album for the TK affiliated Alston Records was the last released by that label.


"Love the World Away" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  0227
Date:  06/21/1980
Debut:  44
Peak:  14
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  This song was featured on the "Urban Cowboy" soundtrack and was the third chart song from the album. Although the song started off with a bang, entering almost within the Top 40, it couldn't quite reach the Top 10. It ended Rogers' streak of four straight pop Top 10's and although it reached #4 on the country chart, it was his lowest charting single there in three years. But it would be a very, very minor slump as his next chart hit would be the biggest of his career.

ReduxReview:  When Rogers happened upon a quality crossover ballad, it worked well for him. Although the arrangement is a little sticky in late-70s AC/country syrup, it isn't too overwhelming and the song survives just fine. It's a strong song and he performs it well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Rogers' first Top 10 hit was with his group The First Edition in 1968. The psychedelic "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" was a departure from the group's typical country-based sound and reached #5 on the pop chart. The song, written by Mickey Newbury, was about an LSD trip and was meant to be a warning about drug use. Jerry Lee Lewis actually recorded it first in 1967, but he ended up not putting it out as a single, which was a lucky break for The First Edition. Glen Campbell also plays guitar on the recording.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Make a Little Magic" by The Dirt Band

Song#:  0226
Date:  06/21/1980
Debut:  71
Peak:  25
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Soft Rock, Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Originally named The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and formed in 1966, they shortened their moniker to just The Dirt Band it in 1975. Through the years, membership to the band was a revolving door but two original members Jeff Hanna and Jimmie Fadden have remained in the band since the beginning. The group's sound has also gone through changes. They began as a jug band and then "went electric" a couple of years later adopting a more folk-rock sound. Then as the 70s wore on, they pushed their sound towards pop. Their first 80s album, "Make a Little Magic," still kept the pop/rock sound going, but they were becoming less successful and this title track would be their last to get into the pop Top 30. But further changes later in the decade would bring them major success on the country chart.

ReduxReview:  The song has a bit of a new-country feel to it and I'm surprised it didn't do better on the country chart (#77). However, it also sound like an Eagles-lite tune backed by Linda Ronstadt. It is a pleasant enough tune that is well-performed, but it's not grabbing my attention.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) One of the original members of the group was Jackson Browne. He stayed with them for a few months before leaving to pursue his solo career.  2) Background vocals on this song were provided by Nicolette Larson.


"Tulsa Time/Cocaine" by Eric Clapton

Song#:  0225
Date:  06/21/1980
Debut:  74
Peak:  30
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Thanks to the demise of the physical single, a double-sided hit is now a thing of the past. When 45 singles ruled in the 50s and 60s, double-sided hits (where both the A and B-sides hit the chart either combined or separately) were not uncommon. By the 80s, they were a rare occurrence, but still happened. The first one of the 80s was this single from Clapton's live album "Just One Night." "Tulsa Time" was the A-side when it hit the chart, but within a couple of weeks the B-side of "Cocaine" proved just as popular and the songs were then listed as a combined entry on the chart. It continues to be one of his most enduring and popular songs.

ReduxReview:  I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of live recordings. There are exceptions of course, but overall it is very difficult to capture the experience in a recording. To me, the highlight of seeing Clapton would be his guitar work because he's not necessarily an engaging performer nor a powerful vocalist and I think these two songs highlight that for me. They are obviously well-performed, but I'd rather either be their in the audience or hear the studio versions.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This was the second time that the song "Cocaine" appeared as a B-side on a Clapton single. The original studio version of the song first appeared as the flip-side of his "Lay Down Sally" single (#3, 1978).  2) "Cocaine" was written by J.J. Cale and it originally appeared on his 1976 album "Troubadour," while "Tulsa Time" was originally recorded  in 1978 by country artist Don Williams. It became his eighth #1 country hit.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Let's Go 'Round Again" by Average White Band

Song#:  0224
Date:  06/21/1980
Debut:  76
Peak:  53
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Disco, Pop

Pop Bits:  The Average White Band was primarily white, but they were not average. The Scottish group based their sound in R&B and funk and were able to successfully crossover on the pop and R&B charts beginning in 1974 with their smash #1 instrumental "Pick Up the Pieces." They continued to place songs on the charts and sell albums throughout the 70s, but they seemed to be running out of steam when their first album of the 80s, "Shine," barely scratched the album chart. It's smoother, jazzier sound (courtesy of producer David Foster) didn't entice fans and this first single couldn't muster up much support. In fact, it would be their final single to get on the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This is not a bad song, but when you compare it to something like "Pick Up the Pieces," it really pales in comparison. They seemed to have lost the funk by this time and it showed. But it's a nice, smooth dance groove that is listenable, if a little bland.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Okay, so how do you end up with a band name like this? Apparently, the band had a friend who was a British Diplomat and he was famous for using a phrase like "too much for the average white man," such as "Africa is just too hot for the average white man." The band pick up on it and used it for their name as a tongue-in-cheek reference to how average they were not.


Monday, January 21, 2013

"Stop Your Sobbing" by The Pretenders

Song#:  0223
Date:  06/21/1980
Debut:  83
Peak:  65
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Although this song was the follow-up to "Brass in Pocket" (#14) in the US, it was actually The Pretenders' first single release in the UK. It reached #34 and its follow-up "Kid" hit #33. "Brass in Pocket" was the third UK single and it hit #1. "Stop Your Sobbing" is actually a cover version of the Kinks song that originally appeared on their self-titled UK debut album.

ReduxReview:  It is a remake and it is not "Brass in Pocket," but they do a great job with the song. I actually prefer it to the Kinks' original, but c'mon - when Chrissie Hynde is singing your song, chances are it is going to be better.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was produced by Nick Lowe and it was the only song featured on their debut album produced by him. Lowe felt that the band was not really going anywhere and declined to continue working with them. Chris Thomas picked up the production reins and finished the now-classic album.


"Alabama Getaway" by the Grateful Dead

Song#:  0222
Date:  06/21/1980
Debut:  86
Peak:  68
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Dead were not known for singles nor even for getting their albums in the Top 10. During the group's lifespan of main releases from 1967-1990 they succeeded in getting one album and one song into the Top 10 (with only six of their singles in total ever getting on the chart). But it hardly mattered. They still sold albums and their relentless tours geared towards their loyal fan base (known as Deadheads) made them hugely successful. Their eleventh album and first of the 80s, "Go to Heaven," produced this rare singles chart entry.

ReduxReview:  The Dead just ain't my scene. I never gained a liking for jam bands and although there are a few songs in their catalog that I don't mind, overall their style of music doesn't do much for me. This song is alright and a good listen, but it is nothing that would make me want to explore the group any further. I appreciate their place in rock history, their influence, and their fan dedication, but I just don't connect to the music.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  An oddity seemingly out of the mockumentary "Spinal Tap" where five of the group's drummers died, the Grateful Dead has unfortunately been the subject of a "keyboard curse." It seems each of the group's four keyboardists during their active years met an unfortunate fate while in the group or after their departure. Original keyboardist Pigpen McKernan died from complications from alcohol abuse. Then Keith Godchaux died in a car accident the year after being let go from the band. Then Brent Mydland died of a drug overdose. The final keyboardist was Vince Welnick who committed suicide in 2006 (although 11 years after the group disbanded). Although more coincidence than curse, it certainly is an odd chapter in the book of this group.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Someone That I Used to Love" by Natalie Cole

Song#:  0221
Date:  06/21/1980
Debut:  87
Peak:  21
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  Being the child of a legendary parent can often make a career in the same field difficult. But Nat King Cole's daughter seemed destined to be a star when she became an instant success with her first album "Inseparable" in 1975. The album boasted two R&B #1's (with "This Will Be" hitting #6 on the pop chart) and it got her two Grammy awards in 1976 including one for Best New Artist. The hit songs and albums continued through to 1979, but when the 80s approached she experienced a slip in popularity. Her 1980 album "Don't Look Back" was her first not to reach gold status and this first single couldn't get much traction on the pop or R&B charts (however, it did reach #3 on the AC chart). The beginning of the 80s would be a rough period for Cole and it would take a few years before her career got a second wind.

ReduxReview:  This is a well-written AC ballad that sounds like it should have been a theme from either a TV movie of the week or a feature film. It has her straying even further away from her R&B/Urban beginnings, but it was a solid song even if not the best first-single choice for the album.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although she grew up surrounded by famous musicians and even performed as a child, Cole did attend college before embarking on a music career. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1972 with a degree in child psychology. 2) This song was covered by Barbra Streisand and released on her 1989 album "A Collection: Greatest Hits...and More."