Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Walk Away" by Donna Summer

Song#:  0333
Date:  09/13/1980
Debut:  82
Peak:  33
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Dance



Pop Bits:  The late 70s was prime era for Summer. She was on a streak of eight Top 10 hits including four #1's. Her first single of the 80s was the #5 title track to her hits disc "On the Radio," but with disco being declared dead, even the queen of the genre was going to be affected. Her streak of Top 10's came to an end when this fourth single was lifted from her "Bad Girls" album. At the time Summer was in a dispute with her record label, Casablanca, as she wanted to change her musical direction while the label wanted to keep her in dance mode. She left the label and moved over to Geffen. Casablanca then decided to issue this single to milk what they could from their investment. In addition, they issued a collector's edition hits disc with the same title. Neither did well and the single brought an end to a remarkable streak. Summer would return to the Top 10 sporadically a few more times, but this pretty much closed the chapter on her mega-successful disco queen days.

ReduxReview:  This is a good, if lackluster, dance tune that makes for a worthy album track, but I don't hear it as a single. And I guess radio and record buyers thought the same since it barely reached the Top 40. Due to the issues above, I doubt this was originally slated for singles release, but it seems the label wanted to make sure to eek out as much as they could from their property and I guess deemed this the best candidate to release - from an album that had basically peaked and had already been followed-up by a hits disc. You can't work backward folks...

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Summer was at her peak in 1979. She became the first female artist to have three #1 songs all hit within a calender year ("Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," and "No More Tears"). In addition to that, she scored her second and third #1 albums that year with "Bad Girls" and the hits compilation "On the Radio." These albums, along with her first #1 album the previous year, "Live and More," were all double LPs. With these releases, she became the first artist to score three consecutive #1 double LPs.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Live Every Minute" by Ali Thomson

Song#:  0332
Date:  09/13/1980
Debut:  86
Peak:  42
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Thomson's first single "Take a Little Rhythm," taken from his debut album of the same name, hit #15 earlier in the year. This second single got on the chart but peaked just short of the Top 40. It would be his last song to reach the chart. Thomson released a second album in 1981 titled "Deception Is an Art," but it failed to produce any chart singles.

ReduxReview:  As mentioned in a previous post, Thomson's brother was Dougie Thomson who was a member of Supertramp. Obviously, his brother's band had a direct influence on him as this sounds like a lost Supertramp recording. Poor guy. His first hit was criticized for sounding just like Paul McCartney, and then this second song sounds exactly like Supertramp. Seems like he was struggling with trying to find his own musical identity. Regardless, this is a good tune but really just sounds like sub-par Supertramp.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Thomson continued composing and had some success as a songwriter. In 1981, he co-wrote the last chart song for Gary Wright, "Really Wanna Know You" (#16).

_________________________________________________________________________________

"If You Should Sail" by Nielsen/Pearson

Song#:  0331
Date:  09/13/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  38
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Sacramento musicians Reed Nielsen and Mark Pearson formed the Nielsen/Pearson Band and released their self-titled debut album in 1978. The album, which contained a blend of country-pop, did not perform well so for their follow-up album they brought in some major players like David Foster and Tom Scott, dropped the "Band" from their name, and moved towards a slick West Coast pop sound. The resulting album, "Nielsen Pearson," got them their first chart entry with this song. It was also their only one to hit the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  This song does reek of the West Coast. It kind of has a jazzy feel to it as well - kind of like George Benson mashed with Steely Dan. I can't say it is a real catchy song, but it has a very nice feel to it. You can easily hear someone like Michael McDonald sing something like this. Interesting, but not outstanding.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After the group disbanded in 1984, Reed Nielsen went on to be a successful country songwriter. Several of his song were Top 10 country hits include Vince Gill's "What the Cowgirls Do" (#2, 1994), Billy Ray Cyrus' "Could've Been Me" (#2, 1992), Doug Supernaw's "I Don't Call Him Daddy" (#1, 1993), and Lorrie Morgan's "Except for Monday" (#4, 1991).

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Angeline" by The Allman Brothers Band

Song#:  0330
Date:  09/13/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  58
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Southern Rock, Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  With a long and storied history, the band was at the peak of their success when their classic live album "At Fillmore East" came out in 1971. Unfortunately tragedy struck soon after when founder/member Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident. The group continued on and released two more major successes with "Eat a Peach" (which was being recorded when Duane died) and "Brothers and Sisters," which featured their biggest pop hit, the #2 "Ramblin' Man." However, dealing with losing Duane and their mega-success, the group started to pull apart and initially broke up in 1976. They reformed a couple of years later and soldiered on for a bit with minor success. This single from 1980's "Reach For the Sky" spent a little time on the chart.

ReduxReview:  Oh lordy, Southern rock again. Well, really a Southern rock/jam band, which is a double dislike for me. I do recognize that their early music was very influential and helped to define the genre, but it's just not my thing. This song doesn't do much to change my mind.

Note: I actually met founding member Dickey Betts. In college I attended a seminar on country music and the panel included Betts, Ricky Scaggs, Brenda Lee, and Richard Sterban (the bass singer in the Oak Ridge Boys). We got to meet and greet all of them after the seminar. Oddly, I think I got autographs from all of them except Betts.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Almost exactly a year after Duane's motorcycle accident, original band member Berry Oakley also died - in a motorcycle accident.  2) Original member Butch Trucks' nephew is Derek Trucks who found success with his own band beginning in 1996. Derek also would play with the Allman Brothers Band and became an official member in 1999. He and his wife Susan Tedeschi formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2011 and their debut album won a Grammy for Best Blues Album.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"Theme from 'The Dukes of Hazzard' (Good Ol' Boys)" by Waylon Jennings

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0329
Date:  09/13/1980
Debut:  97
Peak:  21
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Country, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Jennings had been a musician and DJ prior to signed with RCA Victor in 1965, which resulted in his first country chart entry. For the next seven years, Jennings grabbed several country Top 10 singles and albums. But by the early 70s he was feeling constrained by the whole Nashville music machine where everything down to your clothes were dictated to the artist. So he renegotiated his contract gaining artistic control and along with Willie Nelson became an important player in the development of the outlaw country movement. This began the most successful period of his career where he amassed multiple #1 country singles and albums. In 1979, Jennings took on an off-screen character role as the narrator for the hit TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard." He also wrote and sang the show's theme song which was featured on his "Music Man" album and released as a single. It ended up being his biggest pop chart song and a #1 country hit.

ReduxReview:  I loved "The Dukes of Hazzard" the first few seasons. It was funny, stupid, had an awesome car, and of course, had hotty cousins Bo and Luke Duke. Apparently there was another cousin named Daisy Duke, but I don't remember much about her...  Anyway, the theme song fit the show perfectly and even though I never got into outlaw country music, I enjoyed this good ol' boys tune.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Jennings was part of a major music history moment in 1959. At the time, Jennings was hired by Buddy Holly to play bass on his winter tour. After the show in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly had chartered a plane for himself and a couple of others - including Jennings - to fly to Fargo instead of taking the long bus ride. Famously, Ritchie Valens won a seat on the plane in a coin toss and Jennings voluntarily gave his seat to J.P. Richardson (aka The Big Bopper) who was struggling with a cold. As everyone knows, the plane went down killing all on board and it became "the day the music died." Jennings had severe guilt over the crash due to an exchange between him and Holly before the flight. Holly joked to Jennings that "I hope your bus freezes up." Jennings responded to the joke with "well, I hope your plane crashes!"

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"I've Just Begun to Love You" by Dynasty

Song#:  0328
Date:  09/13/1980
Debut:  99
Peak:  87
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B, Funk

I've Just Begun To Love You by Dynasty on Grooveshark

I Don't Want To Be A Freak (But I by 12 Dynasty on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  This R&B/funk outfit came together via Leon Sylvers III (formerly of the family group The Sylvers - "Boogie Fever"/"Hot Line") He had become the in-house producer for SOLAR records and along with label head Dick Griffey they created Dynasty, which featured Nidra Beard, Linda Carriere, and Kevin Spencer. Their first album produced the R&B chart hit "I Don't Want to Be a Freak (But I Can't Help Myself)." This single was from their second LP and it became their biggest hit reaching #6 on the R&B chart. They would go on to record several more albums through the 80s and have a few minor R&B chart entries, but by 1988 the group was done and they disbanded. This would be their lone pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  Although I like this song, I went back to listen to their first R&B hit - and loved it! I added it above. This song needs to be revived! Now that is a funky jam - and my new theme song. But "I've Just Begun" is a solid groove and a worthy tune. It is just not as fun and funky as "Freak." I need to check out more of this Dynasty.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Formed by Griffey after a re-org of Soul Train Records, SOLAR (Sound of Los Angeles Records) had a great run of hits with acts like Shalamar, The Whispers, Dynasty, Lakeside, and Midnight Star. Another group on the label was The Deele, which was the launching pad for members Babyface and L.A. Reid. After a major decline in the late 80s/early 90s, the label closed its doors in 1995.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"Real Love" by The Doobie Brothers

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0328
Date:  09/06/1980
Debut:  40
Peak:  5
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Soft Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  The Doobies are one of those long-lasting groups that have different eras, usually typified by who is leading or writing for the group. This band has three eras - the original band era, the Michael McDonald era, and the post-McDonald era. Each era had their successes, but arguably the peak of their success was during the McDonald years. Prior to his joining, the Doobies were more of a roots country/rock boogie band and they had a good following that gave them hits like "Long Train Runnin'" (#8, 1973) and "Black Water" (#1, 1974). But personnel changes lead to McDonald joining in 1976 and the band's sound shifted towards a more sleek R&B/blue-eyed soul sound. It was successful and culminated in their Grammy-winning #1 album "Minute By Minute" in 1978. Unfortunately, the group was having internal struggles regarding direction and was splintering. They held it together for the follow-up album "One Step Closer," featuring this lead single, but it failed to replicate the success of the previous album. This would close out the second era of the group with a third incarnation yet to come late in the decade.

ReduxReview:  Warm chords, warm keyboards, comforting vocals singing about love - yep, it is Michael McDonald. This might as well have been a solo outing. Listening to this is like being wrapped up in a furry salt-n-pepper comforter. It feels cozy and nice at first, but then it kind of gets itchy and I gotta get up and move on.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In addition to not performing or selling as well, "One Step Closer" failed to snare any major Grammy's like "Minute By Minute." However, the group did get one nomination for Best Pop Instrumental for the album track "South Bay Strut."

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0326
Date:  09/06/1980
Debut:  49
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  People tend to recognize Streisand by her specific songs and don't necessarily think of her as an album artist. From her debut chart single in 1964 through the next ten years, she only had two Top 10 hits - "People" (#5) and "The Way We Were" (#1). But currently she holds the record for most #1 albums by a female artist (9), most Top 10 albums (32), and most chart albums (57). Her best streak of singles began in 1976 with the #1 "Evergreen" and lasted through the singles from her biggest selling album, 1980's "Guilty." She amassed eight Top 10 hits in that time including four #1's. This first single from that album became her fifth and last #1 and received Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Pop Female Vocalist.

ReduxReview:  Oh, La Streisand! Welcome to the 80s! Yes, I know it is stereotypical for a person of my "persuasion" to love Babs, but I can't help it. I mean, c'mon? You've heard her sing, right? You can keep your Judy and Liza - I'm on the Barbra bandwagon! I remember when this song came out. I heard it on the radio and was wow'd. Went right to the record store and got the single. Although I'm sure my parents were not thrilled I was in my room singing "I am a woman in love," this magical pairing of Streisand and Barry Gibb was just too hard to resist. She has had some terrific singles, but for me this has to be the top one. Just brilliant. Sorry - gotta score it like I hears it...

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Unless you live under a non-musical rock you should know this. After their mega-success, the BeeGees took a little time to do other projects. Streisand asked Barry Gibb to write songs for her album. He not only did that, but co-produced the album and sang two duets with her. The album ended up more of a collaboration of the two artists and that was kind of summed up with "Guilty's" album cover that featured the two of them. The pair revisited their collaborative time together in 2005 and came out with a sequel called "Guilty Pleasures," which peaked at #5 on the album chart.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0325
Date:  09/06/1980
Debut:  78
Peak:  20
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Country



Pop Bits:  Nelson began his acting career with a part in 1979's "The Electric Horseman." That soundtrack featured his previous pop chart entry "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" (#44). Riding directly on the back of that film came his first as a lead character. "Honeysuckle Rose" told the tale of a singer struggling to find fame and dealing with all the issues that come with his family, band, and touring. The main song from the film and soundtrack was this single which ended up being his best charting pop song at the time (and another #1 country hit). The film, while not a huge hit, fared okay at the box office despite middling reviews.

ReduxReview:  This song is just so recognizable, comfortable, and dang catchy. Really, how many times have you gone on a road trip (or any trip) and you or someone had started singing "on the road again...just can't wait to get on the road again...?" If you ever do, you have Mr. Nelson to thank for that!

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song won a 1981 Grammy for Best Country & Western Song. Nelson was also nominated for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Male. The song vied for the Best Original Song at the Oscars as well.  2) Although the movie was not too bad, apparently actress Amy Irving was. She received the Razzie award for Worst Supporting Actress for the film.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Touch and Go" by The Cars

Song#:  0324
Date:  09/06/1980
Debut:  80
Peak:  37
Weeks:  11
Genre:  New Wave, Rock



Pop Bits:  Boston's The Cars enjoyed immediate success with their first two albums. Their blend of new wave, pop and rock sounded great on the airwaves and their first five chart songs (with "Let's Go" the highest peaking at #14) lead to the albums going platinum. For their third album "Panorama," the group moved away from their instantly catchy songs to ones a bit more dark and experimental. Their built-in fan base put the album in the Top 10 and this single on the chart, but it was nowhere near as successful as their first two discs. They would return to form the following year and begin moving towards the peak of their popularity.

ReduxReview:  The Cars is one of those groups I should totally love - but I don't. Their 80s new wave pop/rock seems to fit in with everything else I like. However, they just run hot and cold for me. For every terrific song like "Just What I Needed" there is...well...something like this song. It just does not work and is not a good single. Eventually I did come to appreciate their major songs and I like to toss on their hits disc once in a while, but that's about as far as I can go with them.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Band members Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr formed the trio Milkwood in the early 70s with Jas Goodkind. The group got a deal with Paramount Records and released one album in 1973 called "How's the Weather?" The music was a far cry from the new wave of The Cars. They were more like disciples of Crosby, Stills and Nash with an acoustic folk-rock sound that featured lots of harmonies. The album tanked, but Ocasek and Orr moved on to rock 'n' roll and hit big with The Cars. (Tracks from the Milkwood album are on YouTube - check it out. It's hard to hear how "Shake It Up" came out of these beginnings...)

_________________________________________________________________________________

"Could I Have This Dance" by Anne Murray

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0323
Date:  09/06/1980
Debut:  81
Peak:  33
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Country



Pop Bits:  This song was the fifth and final single lifted from the double-LP soundtrack to "Urban Cowboy." Although it only made the pop Top 40, it was Murray's fifth country #1 and reached #3 on the AC chart. The song also won a Grammy for Murray for Best Country and Western Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  I may have mentioned previously that country waltzes and me don't really get along. That 1-2-3 clomping is usually accompanied by some sad, screamy pedal steel guitar and it just grates my nerves. However, I will say that it is hard to not like something Murray is singing. Her voice is so pretty and comforting. And this song is not as bad as a lot of others. Overall, it is still nothing I'd put in my rotation, but I'll give props to Murray for making me want to listen.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Murray's debut album was 1968's "What About Me," originally only released in Canada. The title track, written by Scott McKenzie of "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers In Your Hair)" fame (#4, 1967), got some action on Canadian radio upon release but failed to chart. After becoming a star there and in the US, Murray released the 1973 album "Danny's Song," which featured the #7 title track. The album's first side had studio recordings while the second side featured live performances. The album's second single was the live version of "What About Me," which hit #64 pop, #20 country (and #2 Canadian country).

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Turn It On Again" by Genesis

Song#:  0322
Date:  09/06/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  58
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Genesis just had their first real success in the US when "Misunderstanding" hit #14. This follow-up single from their album "Duke" made it close to halfway up the chart, but it quickly became a concert staple for them, in addition to becoming their second UK Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  This song about a guy obsessed with watching TV and the people on the screen is one of my favorite Genesis tracks. It is terrific songwriting and a very exciting song. I've never seen Genesis in concert, but I can understand how this would be a terrific live tune.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Genesis has had much greater chart success with their albums in their UK homeland. Their previous five albums all went Top 10. "Duke" became their first to hit #1 in the UK. In the US it became their best charting effort at the time when it peaked at #11.

_________________________________________________________________________________