Saturday, March 2, 2013

"When the Spirit Moves You" by Touch

Song#:  0268
Date:  07/26/1980
Debut:  89
Peak:  65
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Touch grew out of a previous band called American Tears. That group was signed to Columbia and released three unsuccessful albums. After the band dissolved, three members of the band continued on and formed Touch with one other musician and got their self-titled debut album out in 1980 on Atco. This first single from the quartet got some attention and almost got mid-chart. A follow-up single would soon do just about as well.

ReduxReview:  This keyboard-driven pop/rock tune has a lot of influences mashed into it. Kind of sounds like Styx and Queen got together with Pilot for a three-way and this was the resulting mess. It's actually a fun song, but seems more rooted in the 70s than the 80s. But having keyboards drive the song would soon be a trademark of the 80s - just a bit more synthier and mechanical though.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Band member, songwriter, and lead singer Mark Mangold would have further success writing with/for other artists. His most successful effort was a song he co-wrote with Michael Bolton. "I Found Someone" was eventually recorded by Cher and hit the Top 10.


Friday, March 1, 2013

"First Be a Woman" by Leonore O'Malley

Song#:  0267
Date:  07/26/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  53
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Disco, Dance

Pop Bits:  What is interesting about this song is that I've seen comments that folks thought this was a black woman singing, but then they saw the pretty, blonde girl on the cover and were quite surprised. But maybe their initial instincts were correct. It is often mentioned that Leonore (or Lenore) O'Malley did not do any of the singing on her first two albums, including this song. Apparently, the record company matched the work of a production team with O'Malley's diva-ish good looks and a pseudo-artist was born. The vocals on the recordings are reported to be those of Catherine Russell, a (black) background session singer who does have vocal credits on both albums. Is this a total shock? Not really. It wasn't the first time or the last time that this type of musical ruse would happen, and since this was not a major hit, it didn't seem to get much attention. I can't find any current info on O'Malley, but Russell is now a jazz recording artist with a few recent albums to her own solo credit.

ReduxReview:  I don't think it matters who is singing this song. It is just a nice, faceless disco tune that is certainly danceable. Chances are O'Malley could most likely sing, but probably the production team that did all these songs just wanted to get them out there with their studio vocalist on them since everything was done. So just get a face on these and get it out. Kind of sad because it never seems to really work out for the real vocalist or the one who is the face.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In addition to the vocal issue, folks thought this sounded a lot like "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. Oddly enough, Gaynor ended up covering this tune herself in 1992.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Mirage" by Eric Troyer

Song#:  0266
Date:  07/26/1980
Debut:  92
Peak:  92
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This Indiana native had already been working as a session musician/vocalist when he was signed to Chrysalis Records. This song was his first (and only) single release and it barely registered on the chart - almost a one-week wonder. Along with the single, Troyer had recorded a full album called "String of Pearls," but it was shelved and remains unreleased. But his work as a session musical really took off when he met Jim Steinman, the super-producer behind artist like Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, and others. In addition to his many credits with Steinman, Troyer also worked on major recording like John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Double Fantasy" and Billy Joel's "An Innocent Man."

ReduxReview:  I think this is kind of a lost little gem. It's got a great late-70s sound ala Rupert Holmes. And some nice falsetto in the chorus that is not all screamy. Plus the little freaky effects before the end section is cheezy-licious. This is a nice discovery. Too bad the album was not released. Would have been interesting to hear what else he did during these sessions.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Through his connection with Jim Steinman, Troyer met up with Bev Bevans, formerly of the Electric Light Orchestra. When Jeff Lynne disbanded ELO, co-founding member Bevans decided to continue the group and started to form his own ELO. Troyer was selected to be in the group. However, a lawsuit by Lynne kept Bevans from using the original group name so it was adjusted to Electric Light Orchestra, Part II and they would issue a self-titled debut album in 1990.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Shiver and Shake" by The Silencers

Song#:  0265
Date:  07/26/1980
Debut:  96
Peak:  81
Weeks:  5
Genre:  New Wave, Power Pop

Pop Bits:  Lead by Frank Czuri, Pittsburgh's Silencers formed in 1979 and recorded a demo that landed them a deal with CBS Records before the group had even started to perform live. Luckily, their live shows were well received and they gained a solid following in the region. It was enough to push this song from their debut album "Rock 'n' Roll Enforcers" onto the national chart. It didn't hang around for very long and unfortunately neither did the group. Despite having a popular video that was played on MTV's first broadcast day and a little chart action, the group's follow-up album "Romantic" went nowhere and the group fizzled and faded after that.

ReduxReview:  I had seen that they were influenced greatly by Joe Jackson and that style of new wave. I think you can really hear that influence on this song. It's a good song and is probably their best moment from what I've heard. This should have gotten a lot more attention.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Prior to joining The Silencers, Frank Czuri was a member of another Pittsburgh band, The Jaggerz. Lead by Donnie Iris, the group had a #2 hit in 1970 with "The Rapper." It was their only major hit. Czuri join the band in 1973 and left before the band called it quits a few years later.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Hot Rod Hearts" by Robbie Dupree

Song#:  0264
Date:  07/19/1980
Debut:  74
Peak:  15
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Although not as successful as "Steal Away" (#6), this follow-up song did very well and is just as recognizable as the hit that put him on the map. It was a great career start but it was going to be one that would prove to be difficult to follow-up.

ReduxReview:  Another solid song from Dupree. It's not quite as good as "Steal Away," but it is a worthy follow-up and a terrific single.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Dupree's first real recognition as a songwriter came in 1976. His song "When You're Down" won for Best R&B Song in the American Songwriting Festival.


Monday, February 25, 2013

"Cry Just a Little" by Paul Davis

Song#:  0263
Date:  07/19/1980
Debut:  81
Peak:  78
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Davis had a minor hit with the gospel-flavored "Do Right" (#23) and chose this song to be the second single from his self-title 1980 album. And like "Do Right," which hit #4 on the AC chart, this song fared a bit better on that chart reaching #36.

ReduxReview:  This is a pleasant, if bland, AC tune. It's the sound of Paul Davis. If you don't like this, you pretty much won't like the majority of his pop catalog.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Davis signed on to the famous Bang Records label, the initial home to Neil Diamond. The label had releases beginning in 1965 and folded in 1982 and sold to CBS. Davis was the last active artist on the label before it was sold. This was Davis' last single for the label before moving over to Arista.