Saturday, June 29, 2013

"I Can't Stop the Feelin'" by Pure Prairie League

Song#:  0432
Date:  12/06/1980
Debut:  81
Peak:  77
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  This third single from their "Firin' Up" album couldn't gather much momentum and peaked in the lower quarter of the chart. But since they already scored a hit with the Vince Gill-lead "Let Me Love You Tonight" (#10), the album was already a success.

ReduxReview:  This is a pleasant enough song, but it just sounds so familiar - like they formed it to be similar to other soft rock tunes at the time. The group is supposed to be more in the country-rock vein, but this is more like something the Doobies or maybe even Ambrosia would put out. It just doesn't fit and neither does Vince Gill's vocals. The tune is kind of nice, but I'd never associate this with Pure Prairie League.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The group's self-titled 1972 debut album featured a Norman Rockwell painting on the cover. The character in the painting was a cowboy named Luke and he ended up appearing on every PPL album cover.


Friday, June 28, 2013

"Games People Play" by The Alan Parsons Project

Song#:  0431
Date:  12/06/1980
Debut:  83
Peak:  16
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Rock, Prog Rock

Pop Bits:  After four successful albums, this studio group mainly consisting of Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson ended up having some tense negotiations with their label Arista. But both parties came to an agreement and The Project released their next album "The Turn of a Friendly Card." Arista wisely made a good choice in retaining the group as this first single became their biggest hit at the time and the album became their second platinum success. Although Woolfson would eventually sing some songs on the group's albums, they typically had several singers provide the vocals on their tracks. This song features a lead vocal by Lenny Zakatek, who also sang on other Project songs like "Damned If I Do" (#27, 1979) and "I Wouldn't Wanna Be Like You" (#36, 1977). The album also received a Grammy nod for Best Engineered Recording.

ReduxReview:  With that sequenced keyboard lick and the opening "where do we go from here" line, this song is instantly recognizable. This is one of their most solid rock songs and should have gone Top 10. This is the point where I started to become a huge APP fan and their work was influential in me wanting to go to college for music production (which I did).

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Before meeting Woolfson, Parsons was already a successful engineer. He was assistant engineer on The Beatles' "Abbey Road" and "Let It Be" albums and he was the engineer on one of the most famous rock albums of all time, Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." Woolfson became Parsons' manager and Parsons went on to do work with groups like Pilot, The Hollies, and Ambrosia (for which he received a Grammy nod for his engineering work).


Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Heartbreak Hotel" by The Jacksons

Song#:  0430
Date:  12/06/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  22
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The first single from their second self-produced album "Triumph," just missed the Top 10 as "Lovely One" peaked at #12 (#2 R&B). This second single couldn't get inside the Top 20 but it matched the peak of the first single on the R&B chart. It was enough to give The Jacksons their second platinum album in a row.

ReduxReview:  This is a far better single than their previous "Lovely One." It has shades of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" with it's theatrical approach, creepy lyrics, and sound effects. I think it is one of Michael's best songs that he contributed to a Jacksons album. His solo albums would still have better material, but this is a good tune. I'm not sure why it stalled out so low on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Michael Jackson and he supposedly titled it without knowing that Elvis Presley had a big hit with a song with the same title. When Jackson found this out, he changed the name of the song to "This Place Hotel" to avoid confusion with the Presley hit. Later pressings of the album reflected the title change, but when the song hit the pop chart it was listed as "Hearbreak Hotel."


"Fashion" by David Bowie

Song#:  0429
Date:  12/06/1980
Debut:  87
Peak:  70
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Bowie was just coming off of what has been called the "Berlin Trilogy" of his albums, "Low, "Heroes," and "Lodger" (1977-1979). It was a period where Bowie lived in Berlin and with contributions from Brian Eno created music that experimented with minimalism and were much more ambient in tone that his previous albums. As the trilogy progressed, he would incorporate more rock elements but overall through this period his commercial appeal fell in the US. He returned to putting rock at the forefront with 1980's "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" and this single got him back on the pop chart for the first time in over three years. Although it wasn't a major pop hit, rock radio got on board and it became more popular than what the pop chart peak reflects. Many critics have stated that "Scary Monsters" was the last great Bowie album and that it basically closed his most potent musical period.

ReduxReview:  Bowie is another artist that I liked throughout the years but didn't fully latch onto until much later. Nowadays he is one of my all-time favorites and I love all of his characters and music from his early vaudeville-type stuff through to his current resurgence with "The Next Day." I'd probably agree with critics that while he did do some excellent work in later years, "Scary Monsters" was probably the cut off point for pure classic Bowie. This track is representative of what he was doing and it is killer. I actually thought this was a Top 10 hit until I revisited this chart! But it doesn't matter. The song is brilliant.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Although it didn't hit the chart in the US, the first single from the album was "Ashes to Ashes," which hit #1 in the UK. This song was a sequel of sorts to his 1973 hit "Space Oddity" (#15) as Bowie brings back the song's main character Major Tom.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Giving It Up for Your Love" by Delbert McClinton

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0428
Date:  12/06/1980
Debut:  90
Peak:  8
Weeks: 19
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  McClinton was involved in blues music early on when his band The Straitjackets would back prominent artist like Howlin' Wolf and Lightnin' Hopkins. He got his first taste of chart success playing harmonica on Bruce Channel's 1962 #1 hit "Hey! Baby." After a stint as a duo with Glen Clark that yielded the #90 song "I Received a Letter" (1972), McClinton went solo and released a string of albums that didn't amount to much on the charts. The one bright spot was this single from his 1980 album "The Jealous Kind." It would be his only Top 10 pop single.

ReduxReview:  Here is another song I forgot about. As soon as it started the song came right back to me. I had thought this was a 70s song, but came out in 1980. This is some real tasty blues-rock and just a terrific song. I'm kind of surprised some artist hasn't latched onto this song and revived it. Someone should. I think it could hit again.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In 1993, McClinton had a country hit in a duet with Tanya Tucker. "Tell Me About It" peaked at #4 on the country chart. Although he didn't write the song, another one that he did write hit #1 on the country chart. Emmylou Harris topped the country chart in 1978 with McClinton's "Two More Bottles of Wine."


"Hey Nineteen" by Steely Dan

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0427
Date:  11/29/1980
Debut:  65
Peak:  10
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock, Jazz-Rock

Pop Bits:  Three years after their most successful album, 1977's "Aja," the non-touring studio group (consisting basically of just Walter Becker and Donald Fagan and a myriad of studio musicians) returned with "Gaucho," a seven-track album that became their last release before their initial break-up in 1981. In addition to being plagued with mishaps and lawsuits following "Aja," the delay of the album was also caused by the duo's notorious perfectionism in the studio. They would end up using over 40 different musicians for the album and would relentlessly do take-after-take on each part. Even the mixing of the album took an excessive amount of time. But their obsessiveness paid off as the album was another platium seller, peaking at #9, and this single became their third Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  Steely Dan's music never much excited me. Their blend of smooth jazz, rock, and cerebral lyrics just did not click with me. And for the most part, still don't. There were exceptions and this tasty groove is one of them. It almost borders on too low-key, but the wonderfully executed recording and nice harmonies make it hard to dislike.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:   The "Gaucho" album would give engineer Roger Nichols his third Grammy award for Best Engineered Recording-Non-Classical. His previous two Grammy's were for Steely Dan recordings - the album "Aja" and the song "FM (No Static At All)."


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"9 to 5" by Dolly Parton

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0426
Date:  11/29/1980
Debut:  73
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop, Country Crossover, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Although she had been placing songs on the country chart since 1967, pop stardom eluded her until 1977 when she incorporated a sleeker pop sound to her songs and hit #3 with "Here You Come Again." The formula got her a few other pop chart songs but she would not return to the Top 10 until this theme song from the movie "9 to 5" was released. Thanks to the hit film and the success of this song, Parton really hit superstardom and has been an icon since.

ReduxReview:  This really is Dolly at her best. She never got much credit for her own songwriting back in the day, but it was songs like this that helped to get her the recognition she richly deserved. Everything about this song was spot-on and it turned into a classic song that has had longevity. Brilliant.


Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The song earned her four Grammy nomination including Song of the Year. She ended up winning two: one for Best Country Song and the other for Best Country Female Vocal.  2) The success of the song and the film led to Parton writing the music for a Broadway version that debuted in 2009. Parton received a Tony nomination for her work.  3) This song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.


Monday, June 24, 2013

"Need Your Loving Tonight" by Queen

Song#:  0425
Date:  11/29/1980
Debut:  76
Peak:  44
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The fourth charting single from their album "The Game" followed up their massive #1 hit "Another One Bites the Dust."

ReduxReview:  Although not quite as retro-sounding as "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," it still has that 50s/60s rock sound. With the success of "Another One," I'm a bit surprised this didn't do better. It's not one of their most awesome singles, but it is solid. It may have just be lacking a more forceful, catchy chorus to really click at pop radio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although successful in the US, in the group's UK home they became one of the top bands of all-time. According to the Guinness Book of World Records (2006 version), Queen's albums have spent the most total weeks on the chart than any other artist. At the time they had spent more than 1,300 weeks on the chart, which equates to over 25 years.


"Cold Love" by Donna Summer

Song#:  0424
Date:  11/29/1980
Debut:  81
Peak:  33
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Cold love by Donna Summer on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Summer's new label (Casablanca) and updated sound resulted in the new wave-ish #3 "The Wanderer." Continuing to move further away from her disco heydays, this second single's rock sound didn't seem to register with radio or buyers. And after three consecutive #1 albums, "The Wanderer" LP stalled at #13 and only went gold - a bit of a disappointment. But revamping your image and sound rarely results in universal acceptance, so overall this transition album didn't do all that bad.

ReduxReview:  This is certainly a far cry from "Bad Girls" and "I Feel Love," but I think it works well for her. She sings it convincingly and shows she could do something other than dance tunes. I can imagine the reaction of fans anxious to hear her next single and then this comes on. I'm sure it caused a lot of WTF's. The song is not the strongest pop/rock tune you'll hear and I think the arrangement could even rock out more, but it is an interesting and overlooked song in her catalog.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although not a big chart success, this single's rock-leaning performance ended up getting Summer a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Female Vocal. The sound was being compared to other rock female artists like Heart and Pat Benatar, to whom she lost the Grammy.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Trickle Trickle" by The Manhattan Transfer

Song#:  0423
Date:  11/29/1980
Debut:  82
Peak:  73
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The Transfer followed up their #30 novelty disco tune "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone" with this old-fashioned 50's confection. This style of pop single was not really in favor at the time and the song didn't really change any minds as it spent most of its chart life in the bottom quarter.

ReduxReview:   It is hard to resist this fun song. Although there were better songs on their "Extensions" album, they probably would not make the best singles. "Birdland," a show choir staple, was really popular at the time, but at 6+minutes, it was a bit too long. So this was probably the best option for a single. It didn't do well, which I can understand, but it is still very enjoyable.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of a 1958 single by the doo-wop group The Videos. This group won a recording contract due to placing second at an amateur night at the Apollo Theater. This song, written by group member Charlie Bassett, was the a-side of the single they recorded for Casino Records. They recorded a follow-up single, but soon after that, two members unfortunately died and that pretty much ended the group's career.