Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Crying" by Don McLean

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0472
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  37
Peak:  5
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  McLean's chart career started of with the #1 "American Pie" in 1971. And although he also placed the popular tune "Vincent" at #12 the next year, following up that #1 classic was proving difficult. He released three more albums for United Artists that failed to generate major interest or any significant hits. Artista took a chance and picked him up and issued the LP "Prime Time" in 1977, but it sunk without a trace. McLean's next disc, "Chain Lightning," was set to go but clashes with Arista head Clive Davis got McLean dumped from the label. However, with a European distribution deal already in place for the LP, it was released overseas in 1978. Two years later, "Crying" started to get airplay in Holland and the song eventually hit #1 there and in other European countries. Millennium Records picked up the ball in the US from Arista and issued the single and album - over 2 years after its initial recording. The delayed release ended up getting McLean this Top 10 hit, his second and last, and a mini-revival of his career.

ReduxReview:  This song is such a rock classic (see below) that remaking it is just asking for trouble. But a minor few have succeeded and I'd have to put McLean's version on the list. He takes his time with the tune and doesn't blow a gasket on it at the end like a lot of singers. It's nicely updated and almost 20 years after the original was a hit, the song still has impact and sounds fresh.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  I'm hoping this is obvious to folks, but this is a remake of a #2 hit by Roy Orbison in 1961. Orbison revisited the song, which he co-wrote, as a duet with k.d. lang in 1987 that netted a Grammy, and although it did not hit the pop chart, it did reach #28 AC and #42 country.


Friday, July 26, 2013

"Hearts On Fire" by Randy Meisner

Song#:  0471
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  65
Peak:  19
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This second single from Meisner's "One More Song" album did just slightly better than the first ("Deep Inside My Heart," #22), but it has arguably become the most recognizable solo hit for this former Eagles member.

ReduxReview:  This song flies pretty close to the Eagles territory. I can easily hear them doing this song. Who knows...maybe Meisner wrote it while still in the Eagles but kept it for himself. Either way, its a good rockin' tune and (for me) better than a lot of what the Eagles had to offer.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  An oddity in Meisner's life is that some guy started impersonating him beginning around 1988. The guy would go around and convince business owners (like hotels and retailers) and others that he was Meisner. He relied on the fact that many folks know who Meisner is, but may not have a clue as to what he looks like. Eventually, the guy was caught (after doing this for 10 years!) and served time in jail. But even after his release, it seemed he was still trying to get away with the impersonation.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Kiss On My List" by Hall & Oates

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0470
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  69
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks: 23
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  When an album is released, typically the first or second single will be the biggest hit. Then further singles will lag behind. For Hall & Oates' LP "Voices," the rare opposite happened. They got off to a rocky start with the first single, "How Does It Feel to Be Back," petering out at #30. Then their remake of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" did better going to #12. But I doubt anyone expected the third single to really break through and sail to #1. The song became their fourth Top 10 hit and second #1 (their first was "Rich Girl" in 1977). As if this wasn't enough, the album still had gas in the tank and would end up producing another big hit.

ReduxReview:  Yes! Such a great song. Right from that repetitive staccato piano riff to the chorus, the song has you hooked. For me, this is really when Hall & Oates came alive. Why for pete's sake this ended up being the third single and not the first is just beyond me. How can you hear this and not think big hit? Amazing. Luckily it was released and it cemented their star status.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Hall and Oates met when they found themselves taking cover in an elevator when a gang fight broke out at a band competition each were in (with separate bands). They discovered they both attended Temple University and had similar tastes in music. The two became roommates and eventually formed a duo called Whole Oates. After signing with Atlantic, they were credited as Daryl Hall & John Oates but their 1972 debut album ended up begin titled "Whole Oates."


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Too Tight" by Con Funk Shun

Song#:  0469
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  75
Peak:  40
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Funk, R&B

Pop Bits:  Formed by two high school friends, this funk outfit signed with Mercury in 1976 and issued their major-label self-title debut. They got some minor attention on the R&B chart, but then two years later their single "Ffun" hit #1 (#23 pop) and led them on a streak of chart entries. "Ffun" would be their biggest pop song followed by this single from their album "Touch."

ReduxReview:  This sounds like something from Earth, Wind & Fire. It has a nice groove and good sound, but I think it lacks something memorable to latch onto. If this played over a mall speaker, I'd probably bop along, but wouldn't have a clue as to what it was. And would forget it as soon as it stopped.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Group co-founder/drummer/songwriter Louis A. McCall, Sr., was unfortunately murdered in his home in Georgia in 1997. It was a home invasion and even though a suspect was put on trial, a mistrial was declared and the charges dropped. There has been no further action in the case.


"Guitar Man" by Elvis Presley

Song#:  0468
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  77
Peak:  28
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Country Crossover

Guitar Man (Remix) by Elvis Presley on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  After his death in August, 1977, Presley had one posthumous single hit the chart which was a live version of "My Way" (#22, gold, 1977) taken from a CBS special. A few others made it to the country chart, but it wasn't until this song was released over three years later that a Presley song made it back to the pop chart. In the years following his death, Presley's long-time producer Felton Jarvis took Presley's vocals from songs he had previously recorded and put them to new and/or remixed music. The resulting album, "Guitar Man," featured this title-track single. Written by Jerry Reed and originally recorded by Presley in 1968 for the "Clambake" album, the initial single release of the song peaked at #43. Jarvis' newer, electric version did better and got in the Top 30. However, it was a bigger hit on the country chart peaking at #1 and becoming Presley's last to do so.

ReduxReview:  Although the remix with the old vocal is done very well, I actually prefer the original to this "electrified" one. However, it's not a tune I'd choose to include on any "best of" Elvis playlist I might have in my iTunes. It's okay, just not essential.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Jarvis worked on the album and finished it up, but unfortunately died just prior to the album's release. The album peaked at #6 on the country chart and #49 on the pop chart.  2) Presley holds a few chart records including most Top 40 hits (80) and as of this date the most weeks spent at #1 (79). He is currently tied with Mariah Carey, so there is a good chance he could lose this record in coming years.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Precious to Me" by Phil Seymour

Song#:  0467
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  78
Peak:  22
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Power Pop

Precious to Me by Phil Seymour on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Back in the late 60s, Seymour met fellow musician Dwight Twilley and together they eventually formed The Dwight Twilley Band and had the #16 hit "I'm On Fire" in 1975. However, the band couldn't follow-up the hit and a few years later Seymour struck out on his own. His self-titled debut came out in 1981 and this first single almost broke into the Top 20. A second album was issued later, but failed to go anywhere. This would be his lone chart entry. Seymour continued playing and recording with other bands but unfortunately cancer took his life in 1993.

ReduxReview:  I've always liked this song. I don't remember it at the time it came out, but years later it was on a compilation of 80s songs and I liked it immediately. It has an updated-retro sound and a terrific chorus. His debut album has some nice songs, so if you like this one then check out some of the others.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Seymour's debut album contains the song "We Don't Get Along" written by Kathy Valentine. Valentine had written and performed it with her band The Textones. Valentine then moved on to her next band, The Go-Go's, and this song ended up on their second LP "Vacation." (That Top 10 title track was also a Textones song originally.) In an odd twist, Seymour ended up joining The Textones and recorded an album with them in 1984 called "Midnight Mission."


"Staying with It" by Firefall

Song#:  0466
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  37
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Firefall's previous album "Undertow" was a bit of a disappointment with only two minor singles making the chart. After a couple of personnel changes (which the group did a lot), they issued "Clouds Across the Sun" and this first single just nicked the Top 40. It would be the only song from the album to reach the chart. Not happy with the band, their label Atlantic issued a hits LP and then dropped them from the roster. Atlantic would end up bring them back, but their heydays were behind them.

ReduxReview:  Maybe I'm just not a Firefall fan as I keep losing interest with each single I hear. This one sounds like a Fleetwood Mac knock-off. It just seems with all their personnel changes and other issues the band lost their identity. While not as bad of a song as their previous single "Love That Got Away," this is still nothing I'd expect to go Top 40.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song is a duet between Firefall's Rick Roberts and singer/guitarist Lisa Nemzo. In addition to touring with Firefall and other artists like Bonnie Raitt and Heart, Nemzo has issued several solo albums including some in Germany where she has had a following.


Monday, July 22, 2013

"Living In a Fantasy" by Leo Sayer

Song#:  0465
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  23
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Sayer had rebounded on the US pop chart with the #2 "More Than I Can Say" and his album "Living In a Fantasy" returned him to the album Top 40. His producer and co-writer for the album was Alan Tarney who was having a good run of chart success writing and producing for Cliff Richard. Unfortunately, both this title-track single and the album would mark the last appearance on the US charts for Sayer.

ReduxReview:  With the Tarney touch, Sayer's LP features some solid pop tunes like this one. I like the song, but I think it could have benefited from a rockier arrangement. It is a little subdued and perhaps something a little more forceful might have gotten the song into the Top 10, as I think it is worthy. But as-is it remains just a good listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although this would be Sayer's last US pop chart song, he would go on to have a few more minor hits in his native UK. However, in 2006 he would find himself with an unexpected #1 UK hit when "Thunder in My Heart" reached the top spot. Sayer originally recorded the tune in 1977 and it reached #22 on the UK chart. But then in 2006, a musician/DJ named Meck revisited and remixed the song and it put Sayer back in the #1 spot.


"I Don't Want to Know Your Name" by Glen Campbell

Song#:  0464
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  65
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Campbell's last chart entry, his duet with Rita Coolidge "Somethin' 'Bout You Baby I Like," just missed the Top 40. His follow-up single was the theme from the Clint Eastwood film "Any Which Way You Can," but it failed to hit the pop chart even though peaking at #10 on the country chart. The song was included on Campbell's next album "It's the World Gone Crazy," so that makes this single the second from the album. This time, he got back on the pop chart, but it couldn't crack the top half of the chart.

ReduxReview:  I almost really like this song. The verses are good, but when it transitions to the 50's-ish chorus, it kind of loses me. It's like two songs mashed together and I don't think it works. Campbell sounds great as usual, but this song is not one of my faves of his.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Campbell also dabbled in acting along the way with his most famous role opposite John Wayne in 1969's "True Grit." He also made an appearance in "Any Which Way You Can" as a singer in a bar. His only real starring role was the title character of 1970's "Norwood." Although not a major hit, the film did get his co-star, football player Joe Namath, a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Wynken Blynken and Nod" by The Doobie Brothers

Song#:  0463
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  76
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Children's

Pop Bits:  The Doobie's had recently released their "One Step Closer" album, which would be their last one for nine years, when this single was issued. The song doesn't appear on that album, but was part of a song collection put out by the children's program "Sesame Street." The album "In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record" featured popular artists singing either children-based songs or songs reflective of the show's message. This first installment of the LP received a Grammy award for Best Recording for Children and this single unusually found its way to the pop chart. The album sold well and it paved the way for a second edition called "Harmony 2," which also won a Grammy.

ReduxReview:  It is a bit hard to judge this as a real Doobie's song because it is just them contributing a children's song to an album and it oddly showed up on the pop chart. Even though meant for children, they do it in a nice pop/AC way and if it had different lyrics, it might have been an interesting album track. I think they did a very nice job with it, but still nothing I'd purposely call up for a listen.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The follow-up album, "Harmony 2," featured a live version of "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" by Bruce Springsteen. It was the song's first appearance on record and at the time the album was the only place to get it as it was not part of any Springsteen album. It has since been part of other Christmas compilations and on at least one Springsteen compilation and it has become a perennial radio favorite.