Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Don't Ya Wanna Play This Game No More?" by Elton John

Song#:  0290
Date:  08/09/1980
Debut:  82
Peak:  39
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After the success of "Little Jeannie" (#3), John released this second single from his "21 at 33" LP. The album got its name because it was John's 21st album release and he was 33 years old. It was seen as a kind of comeback after the failure of his previous album, the disco influenced "Victim of Love."

ReduxReview:  This has a classic Elton John style that seems so familiar. It's a solid tune, but just not a standout from his extensive catalog. I'd consider this more of an album track than a single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The actual title of this song is "Sartorial Eloquence" and listed like that on the album. The single was released with that title in the UK, but in the US the single was released as "Don't Ya Wanna Play This Game No More."


Friday, March 22, 2013

"I Never Knew Love Like This Before" by Stephanie Mills

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0289
Date:  08/09/1980
Debut:  83
Peak:  6
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  Mills just came off of a middling chart entry (#52) with the title track to her "Sweet Sensation" LP when this follow-up second single was released. It proved to be her biggest pop hit and her most recognizable tune. Oddly, the song only reached #12 on the R&B chart where "Sweet Sensation" was the bigger R&B hit peaking at #3. Although she would go on to have a few more minor pop chart entries, it would be the R&B arena that would give her five #1 hits in the mid-to-late 80s.

ReduxReview:  This is just a smooth, easy, and sweet tune perfectly produced and sung. Is it brilliant? No. But how can anyone not like this song?

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song won two Grammy awards in 1981. One for Best R&B Song (going to songwriters James Mtume and Reggie Lucas) and one for Mills herself for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Over You" by Roxy Music

Song#:  0288
Date:  08/09/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  80
Weeks:  4
Genre: Art Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  This English band is considered one of the most influential art-rock bands in music. Beginning with their 1972 self-titled debut, Roxy Music's recording career consisted of eight UK Top 10 studio albums, with three of them hitting #1, and ten UK Top 10 singles. Although US critics lauded the group with praise, their music was not as well-received Stateside. They only had three singles reach the chart with 1975's "Love Is the Drug" being their best effort at #30, and their albums peaked in the mid-to-lower chart range. This first single from their 1980 album "Flesh and Blood" hit #5 in the UK and became their last chart entry in the US. Despite the lack of chart action in the US, the group's music popularity and influence has grown over the years. Roxy disbanded in 1983.

ReduxReview:  I haven't explored Roxy Music that much. I'm familiar with some of their songs like "More Than This," but I've never fully dove into their major albums like "Siren" or "Country Life." From my understanding, "Flesh and Blood" was critically panned and considered a low point for the band, but this single is quite interesting. It's like a girl-group tune pushed through an alt-rock filter. I don't think it is quite as good as some of their atmospheric alt-rock songs, but it is a nice listen. It's probably time I should dive into more Roxy, as I think I'm overdue.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Group founder/leader Bryan Ferry originally auditioned to be the replacement vocalist in King Crimson when Greg Lake left the group. Although Crimson members did think Ferry was the right fit, they were still quite impressed with Ferry and helped to secure a recording contract for Roxy.  2) Brian Eno was an original member of the group. Although he played no instruments, his technical abilities were recognized and his role in the band was "technical advisor." He left after two albums and became a highly influential and successful producer for major artists like David Bowie, Talking Heads, and U2.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Let Me Be Your Angel" by Stacy Lattisaw

Song#:  0287
Date:  08/09/1980
Debut:  87
Peak:  21
Weeks:  24
Genre:  R&B, Pop

Pop Bits:  Lattisaw was twelve when she signed with Cotillion Records in 1979. Her first album was done under the guidance of Van McCoy (of "The Hustle" fame), but it yielded little in the way of hits or sales. That would all change when Narada Michael Walden took over production duties. Together they would have five hit R&B albums including a few Top 10 R&B songs. She was able to cross over to the pop chart occasionally and this third single from her "Let Me Be Your Angel" album became her first to hit the pop chart. It ended up being her highest peaking pop song as well.

ReduxReview:  This is a very nice, age-appropriate ballad that fits her very well. I never thought she had a particularly strong voice, but she sings everything well and convincingly. She could be mistaken a bit for Janet Jackson at a young age - and Janet never had a strong voice either. She still has a child-like voice here which can sometimes limit the appeal.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The first single from her "Let Me Be Your Angel" album was "Dynamite!" The song didn't hit the pop chart, but it did reach #8 R&B and #1 on the dance chart. She was 13 at the time and that made her the youngest artist to hit #1 on the dance chart at the time.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Red Light" by Linda Clifford

Song#:  0286
Date:  08/09/1980
Debut:  89
Peak:  41
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Dance, R&B

Pop Bits:  Although she fronted a jazz trio early in her music career, by the time she went solo she had moved on to R&B and issued some singles and a debut album. But she moved towards disco for her second album and captured a #1 dance hit with her updating of "If My Friends Could See Me Now." She continued in the disco/R&B vein for her next albums and when 1980's "I'm Yours" came out, this first single became her second to top the dance chart. Her pop chart fortunes were not quite as good with this song and her 1979 dance version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" being her best effort with both peaking at #41. Although this song would be her last pop chart entry, she would go on to have two more #1 dance hits in the early 80s.

ReduxReview:  Oddly, I don't remember this in the movie or on the soundtrack (see below). Since it was a #1 dance song and disco was still kind of going on, I expected some kind of full-on disco tune. But it really is just a pop/R&B jam and I wouldn't necessarily call this a dance song. Regardless, it's a solid track that is an enjoyable listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) "Red Light" was written for the film "Fame" and the song appears on the soundtrack.  2) Clifford originally recorded the song "All the Man That I Need" in 1982. The song was then covered by Sister Sledge and they reached #45 on the R&B chart. But it was Whitney Houston's cover that is the most recognizable version, reaching #1 in 1990.


Monday, March 18, 2013

"All Over the World" by Electric Light Orchestra

Song#:  0285
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  61
Peak:  13
Weeks: 16
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Although the film "Xanadu" was a box office disaster, the soundtrack was a major hit with side A filled with songs by Olivia Newton-John and side B with songs by ELO. The first single from the soundtrack was ELO's "I'm Alive" (#16) and it ended up being a gold record. The second single, Olivia Newton-John's "Magic," ascended to the #1 spot the same week that this next single from ELO hit the chart. Although it wasn't a gold seller, it did slightly better on the chart than "I'm Alive."

ReduxReview:  I'm a little surprised it didn't fare better on the chart, however the next chart will reveal that ELO went into competition with themselves when the title track would be released, so that could play into the lesser chart position. I like this song much more than their previous effort "I'm Alive" and it's more memorable. It's definitely a good slice of ELO.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although he would appear as himself in "That's Entertainment, Part III" in 1994, "Xanadu" was Gene Kelly's final film role. Of the notorious bomb, Kelly has said that the concept of the film was terrific, but that it just didn't come out well. Since that time, the film has become a cult hit and was turned into a Broadway musical.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Jesse" by Carly Simon

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0284
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  70
Peak:  11
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Simon had a great run in the 70s beginning with her self-titled 1971 debut that gave her a #10 hit with "That's the Way I Always Heard It Should Be." She had five other Top 10's including the #1 "You're So Vain" in 1972. Even some of her non-Top 10 songs are easily recognizable such as the much used "Anticipation" and "Haven't Got Time For the Pain." In addition to those, her first hit of the 80s couldn't quite get into the Top 10, but still sold well enough to go gold. But this song would prove to be her last major hit as her chart fortunes dwindled as the 80s wore on.

ReduxReview:  When folks think of 70s singer/songwriter music, a lot of the time artist like James Taylor, Carole King, and Carly Simon come to mind. This song fits right in that mode and is probably one of the real last blasts of that 70s singer/songwriter era. It's a terrific song and a really good one to help close out a musical time period.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Simon won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1972.  2) Simon was married to fellow musician James Taylor beginning in 1972 and they divorced in 1983. They would collaborate on music during that time with their biggest hit as a duet coming in 1974 with the #5 gold record "Mockingbird."