Saturday, February 23, 2013

"How Does It Feel to Be Back" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

Song#:  0262
Date:  07/19/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  30
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Hall and Oates began recording in 1972 and finally scored their first Top 10 in 1976 with "Sara Smile." A reissue of an earlier single release, "She's Gone," hit #7 the same year leading to their first #1 song in 1977 "Rich Girl." But the remainder of the 70s didn't bring any major hits and the duo decided to refocus for their first effort of the 80s. Their album "Voices" was their first fully produced by the duo and this was the lead single. It didn't set the tone well for chart performance and it looked like they were still in a rut, but that would change quickly with the next three singles. It would take a while, but "Voices" would be a hit album and go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This was one of the rare H&O singles that featured Oates on lead vocals. By this time, Hall was being seen as voice of the duo and that sound made their singles stand out. He has an almost instantly recognizable voice. Oates, not so much. He's very capable, it's just when you are put against Hall it pales in comparison. And I don't know the reason behind releasing this song first. A good chunk of the album is more single-worthy than this song - as they would find out.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  "Voices" included the track "Every Time You Go Away." Although it was not released as a single, it was a popular song in their catalog. It gained even more fans when Paul Young covered the song and took it to #1 in 1985.


Friday, February 22, 2013

"Hey There Lonely Girl" by Robert John

Song#:  0261
Date:  07/19/1980
Debut:  85
Peak:  31
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Although known mostly for his falsetto delivery and his #1 hit "Sad Eyes" (1979), John actually first charted in 1958 under his real name Bobby Pedrick, Jr. with "White Bucks and Saddle Shoes" (#74). He basically floundered around from label to label for years sometimes grabbing a chart song along the way and finally landing his first Top 10, a remake of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (#3) in 1972. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to follow-up "Sad Eyes" and this song was his last Top 40 entry. His chart career spanned a remarkable twenty-five years, but in that time he only managed ten chart songs.

ReduxReview:  John's falsetto was used to great effect on "Sad Eyes," basically coming at the end and pushing the song to the limit. It's pretty great. But this is all falsetto and it's not one of my favorite things to hear. There are very few all-falsetto singers/songs that are a hit with me. This one is okay and the slinky 70s arrangement is good, but at times the voice is more grating that endearing.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  John's remake of "Hey There Lonely Girl" would be the third time the song hit the chart. It was originally done as "Hey There Lonely Boy" by Ruby & the Romantics in 1963 (#27), but R&B singer Eddie Holman changed up the gender of the song and reached #2 in 1970.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Under the Gun" by Poco

Song#:  0260
Date:  07/19/1980
Debut:  86
Peak:  48
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Country Rock, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  After the breakup of Buffalo Springfield, members Richie Furay and Jim Messina went off and founded the group Poco. Their country-rock sound was embraced by critics, but it didn't really translate into sales. This would be a theme repeated throughout the group's years as would a continuous change in personnel. By 1980, there was only one original member still remaining in the group - Rusty Young. They had just come off of their first gold album, "Legend," which featured two Top 20 hits when the follow-up "Under the Gun" was released. The title single couldn't get inside the Top 40 and the album ended up floundering much like their previous efforts. Any momentum built up by "Legacy" was quickly gone.

ReduxReview:  Their previous two singles, "Crazy Love" (#17) and "Heart of the Night" (#20) were on the easy AC side, so they probably wanted to change it up and unleash something a bit more rock-oriented. This was a good choice but I don't think it was as catchy as it needed to be to storm up the chart.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The group's original name was Pogo. This came from the title character (a possum) from a cartoon strip created by Walt Kelly. The comic ran in syndication from 1949 through to 1975. Unfortunately, Kelly was not fond of the name being used for the band and threatened a lawsuit. The group had pretty much already established the name and didn't want to start from scratch, so they just change one letter and became Poco.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"The Royal Mile (Sweet Darlin')" by Gerry Rafferty

Song#:  0259
Date:  07/19/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  54
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  With Joe Egan, Rafferty had success in the early-to-mid 70s as a member of Stealers Wheel, who had a big hit with "Stuck in the Middle with You" (#6, 1973).  The Scottish duo split in 1975 and legal issues kept Rafferty from recording for a while, but he returned in a big way with his solo hit "Baker Street" (#2, 1978). He would go on to have four more Top 30 hits over the next couple of years, but as the 80s arrived his chart fortunes changed and this song would be the last one he would put on the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This sounds a bit like a Moody Blues track. It's certainly not anything close to "Baker Street," not that it has to be, but I just don't hear it as a strong singles track. I like the tin whistle-folkish feel to the song and that it tells a story, but I'm not sure radio had much interest in something like this.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Rafferty greatly disliked the part of the music business where artists are products and are subject to being celebrities and personalities. Basically, he was not comfortable with fame even though it came as part of being a successful musician and he avoided the public eye as much as possible. It has been speculated that the pressures of fame and performing helped to fuel his alcohol addiction that plagued him most of his life. In 2008, stories surfaced that he had disappeared after checking out of the hospital where he was for liver problems. He addressed this later as being in Italy writing music and avoiding the stories of his disappearance, but that may have not been the case. Rafferty died in 2011 of liver failure.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"You and Me" by Rockie Robbins

Song#:  0258
Date:  07/19/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B, Soul

Pop Bits:  This Minneapolis soul singer was signed to A&M and released a self-titled debut in 1979. The album pretty much went nowhere. Typically when this happens, the label will drop the artist. However, in Robbins' case someone at A&M had confidence in him and a second album called "You and Me" was issued. Although the title track was just a blip on the pop chart, the song hit #9 on the R&B chart and the album went Top 20 R&B. It was plenty enough reason to get a third album out, but it didn't get much attention and it was his last recording for A&M. A switch to MCA in 1985 produced an under-performing album as well and that would be the end of the major-label days for Robbins. This was his only pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  This is a well-crafted, smooth groove that is nicely performed. Although not outstanding, it is definitely above average and probably deserved a little more attention on pop radio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Robbins' debut album almost didn't happen. After the recording was finished, the tapes were shipped from the studio to the record company. Somehow in the transit of the tapes, they were erased. Robbins had to quickly go back to the studio and re-record everything a second time.  2) When signed to MCA, Robbins first tune for them was "Emergency," which was included on the hit soundtrack to "Beverly Hills Cop" in 1984."


Monday, February 18, 2013

"Where Did We Go Wrong" by Frankie Valli

Song#:  0257
Date:  07/19/1980
Debut:  96
Peak:  90
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  With The 4 Seasons, Valli amassed five #1 hits and another ten Top 10's over a 24-year period. But Valli also did something that was a bit unusual during the early years of the group; he did solo recordings. In that time period it was highly unusual for an artist to be part of a very successful group and then also record solo work on the side. But it worked for Valli and it paid off in 1967 with his #2 hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." His biggest solo hit was the #1 title song to the film "Grease" in 1978. He continued to chart songs with The 4 Seasons and as a solo artist through to 1980 where both he and The 4 Seasons ended their chart careers. This song, a duet with Chris Forde, was Valli's last to hit the chart. By the end of the year, The 4 Seasons would have their last chart song as well.

ReduxReview:   Solo and with The 4 Seasons Valli has recorded some amazing songs. This ain't one of them. Like a lot of the old guard of music who hit it big in the 60s and 70s, Valli and the group would not be able to get a foothold in the 80s. By this time, they would basically become "nostalgia" acts. But that can be a good thing later on when something like the Broadway show "Jersey Boys" hits and regenerates interest in the music. Anyway, by this time the music was just not there and this is an utterly forgettable tune. "Where Did We Go Wrong?" Recording this...

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Valli's professional singing career started in 1951 but it wouldn't be until 1962 that The 4 Seasons had their first major hit with the #1 "Sherry." For some of those years music was not really bringing in an income so Valli had a second job to make money - he was a barber.  2) During most of the 70s, Valli suffered from otosclerosis, an abnormal bone growth in the ear that leads to hearing loss. There were times that Valli had very little hearing and had to sing from memory. After several surgeries, his hearing was mostly restored by 1980.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Looking for Love" by Johnny Lee

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0256
Date:  07/12/1980
Debut:  67
Peak:  5
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Country, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Johnny Lee spent most of the 70s playing for Mickey Gilley at the country star's famous Pasadena Gilley's club. Lee recorded as well but nothing really took off. At least until this song from the "Urban Cowboy" soundtrack introduced him to a wide audience. It shot him quickly into stardom and for a few years after he continued to have hits on the country chart. Nothing would equal the major crossover success of this song, but it was all he needed to jump start a successful career. The song also garnered him a Grammy nomination for Best Country & Western Vocal.

ReduxReview:  Sorry, but I just can't help but think of Eddie Murphy as Buckwheat on SNL doing a commercial for his new album and he sings "Wookin Pa Nub." Classic. This is actually a good tune. From what I read it seems critics were not fond of the song saying it was a little pop ditty passing as a country tune. It may be, but I think it does the job very well.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In 1982, Lee married Charlene Tilton who was acting on the famous nighttime soap "Dallas." The relationship ended in 1987.