Saturday, August 3, 2013

"Rapture" by Blondie

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0480
Date:  01/31/1981
Debut:  61
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock, New Wave, Rap, Disco

Pop Bits:  Blondie followed up their island-ish #1 hit "The Tide Is High" with this original piece that also shot to the top. The song wears several different styles all meshed together in a disco-ish beat. But what made the song so memorable and influential was its rap section. Although a couple of rap songs had already been on the chart, this was the first song to reach #1 that featured rap. During Deborah Harry's rap section, she calls out Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash, who were two rap artists that helped define the genre. It was an attention getter and it became Blondie's last Top 10 appearance.

ReduxReview:  Back in the day I just did not get this song at all. In fact, I found it kind of creepy. But now I think it is kind of a cool jam and I recognize the significance of the song hitting #1 with a rap passage. I think they really tossed everything including the kitchen sink into this song and luckily it worked.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Over their chart career, Blondie got four songs into the Top 10. It just happens that all of them went to #1. They have no other regular non-#1 Top 10's. The closest any of their other singles got to the Top 10 was the #24 "One Way Or Another."


Friday, August 2, 2013

"What Kind of Fool" by Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0479
Date:  01/31/1981
Debut:  72
Peak:  10
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Still riding the wave of her hit #1 album "Guilty," Streisand along with Gibb followed up the LP's title-track single (#3) with this duet. The song also hit #1 on the AC chart becoming her seventh song to reach that summit. No one would have predicted it at the time, but this would be Streisand's last Top 10 appearance for 15 years.

ReduxReview:  Although not as great as "Guilty," this quiet ballad is still terrific with the build in the bridge being the best part. I think that lone, high Streisand note is what really sold this song. Expertly co-written and produced by Gibb.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The first three singles from Streisand's "Guilty" album all hit Top 10, including the #1 "Woman In Love." This marks the first and only time in her recording career that she was able to achieve this feat.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Ain't Even Done With the Night" by John Cougar

Song#:  0478
Date:  01/31/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  17
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Mr. Mellencamp's second single from his album "Nothin' Matters and What If It Did" ended up eclipsing the first single ("This Time," #27) and became one of his more recognizable songs from his early days. It's popularity helped set the stage for his next album, which would be the one that would launch him into superstardom.

ReduxReview:  I always remember the video to this song. He is dancing around dorkily with his band acting like a coordinated backup group and on the chorus' hand claps, the camera would freeze for that beat. Oh, and the leopard-skin jacket. It had to have been made for like $100, but I still remember it! Much of his early material is throw-away stuff, but this is a good song. The mandolin beginning kind of rips on "Maggie May," but the rest of the tune is not too Rod Stewart-ish. The tune can't compare to his peak best, but I enjoy it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This album was produced by Steve Cropper, one of the founding members of Booker T. & the MG's. He is also considered one of the best guitarists in the world and co-writer of such classics as "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay," "In the Midnight Hour," and "Knock on Wood." Cropper was also in The Blues Brothers band during their heyday.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Dreamer" by The Association

Song#:  0477
Date:  01/31/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  66
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This group had a string of hit in the late 60s getting five Top 10 hits including two #1's, "Cherish" (1966) and "Windy" (1967). By the time the 70s came around the group's members were fluctuation constantly and the hits stopped coming. Although the band was still a very popular touring act, by 1978 there was only one original member left, Ted Bluechel, and eventually the band called it quits. However, Bluechel was left with some significant debt from the group. To recoup losses, he loaned out the band name to a fake group that toured as The Association. But a year later a few of the original members, including Bluechel, decided to reform. Having the originals back basically shut down the fake group and the real Association was back on track. The group recorded a few singles soon after and with little-to-no fanfare, this particular single found its way onto the pop chart (and hit #17 AC). It would be their last chart song. But the group has remained a popular attraction on several 60's related music package tours.

ReduxReview:  Their 60s hits are classics. Not sure why, but I often thought of them as just a vocal group in the vein of The Lettermen or some group like that. In reality, they were a full band and in addition to their slick pop hits, the also dove in to some psychedelic pop/rock and even R&B. They definitely had some interesting songs including the darkly creepy "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies" (#35, 1966). This single in comparison is, well, not good. It just sounds so old-fashioned and cheesy. Especially that keyboard line in the chorus. I was hoping for something far better from them, but I just can't get into this song. Don't judge them on this - go back to their 60s prime and enjoy.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  When music rights group BMI released its 100 Songs of the Century list in 1999 of the most played songs on radio and TV, The Association's 1967 #2 hit "Never My Love" was listed at #2 with over 7 million airplays. The #1 song was The Righteous Brothers hit "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" with over 8 million plays.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Fantastic Voyage" by Lakeside

Song#:  0476
Date:  01/31/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  55
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Funk, R&B

F a n t a s t i c V o y a g e by Lakeside on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Lakeside had been kicking around the Ohio region for years until a move to California in 1972 began to change things for them. Although they became a popular live act, it would still take several years to find success on record. They finally got their first R&B Top 10 in 1978 with "It's All the Way Live" (#4) from their second album "Shot of Love." The follow-up album didn't do as well, but their next one would prove to be their biggest success. "Fantastic Voyage" was issued in 1980 and this title track sped up the R&B chart hitting #1. It's popularity allowed it to crossover to the pop chart where it had a short half-chart run. While it would be the group's only pop chart entry, they went on to have several more R&B hits including their #5 version of The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" in 1982.

ReduxReview:  This is so awesome. Pop radio at the time was still not really accepting a lot of funk or rap so the chart position seems out of proportion when compared to the popularity of this song. It was a hot song at the time and continued to be so even years later. And it still sounds great. This is a dance party tune and one of my all-time funk favorites.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Rapper Coolio created his own version of this song using samples from the Lakeside recording. It became his first pop chart hit reaching #3 in 1994.


Monday, July 29, 2013

"Turn Me Loose" by Loverboy

Song#:  0475
Date:  01/31/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  35
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Here is a case where the labels can get it wrong. Canadian group Loverboy sought out a record deal with the major US labels and were turned down each time. So they tried in their home country and Columbia Records Canada picked them up. With some (now) big names attached to the recording, Bruce Fairbairn (producer) and Bob Rock (engineer), the group recorded and released their self-titled debut in Canada. This first single hit the Canadian Top 10 and the album became a best-seller, making them stars. With all this success, Columbia US finally paid attention and came a-knockin' to get the single and album released in the US. Although the single only managed to reach the Top 40, the album was a hit peaking at #13 and would eventually go triple-platinum.

ReduxReview:  I didn't initially fall for Loverboy's north-of-the-border charm, good looks, and heavy hooks. For me they were girl-rock, which is to say the ladies loved them more than the guys did. During this time I never heard a guy say, "oh yeah, I dig Loverboy." Maybe it was the group's name or lead singer Mike Reno's headband and mullet. Whatever it was, I wasn't digging it. But later on they grew on me and I can say that I've purchased a few of their tunes for shufflin' on the iTunes. I like the opening on this song quite a bit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Loverboy's star status in Canada was set in stone when this single and their album won Juno Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys). That same year, the group ended up winning 6 Juno Awards, which became a record haul for a group in one year.


"Don't You Know What Love Is" by Touch

Song#:  0474
Date:  01/31/1981
Debut:  92
Peak:  69
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Touch spent a few weeks on the chart with "When the Spirit Moves You" (#65) from their debut album. This second single almost matched the peak of that song and it was enough for their label to call for a second LP. However, the group had issues and a full follow-up never materialized. This would be their final chart single.

ReduxReview:  "When the Spirit" was a pretty good tune and so I was hoping this song would match it or better. But it does not. I don't think it is as fun and catchy as the first single. It's more along the lines of a Foreigner tune, but weaker. Nothing bad, but nothing here to make me want to listen multiple times. It's standard AOR fodder.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The group recorded their second LP with producer Todd Rundgren. However, some in the group seemed to not like the results and wanted to re-record the album while others were ready to set it for release. The issue caused problems for the band and their label and eventually the LP was shelved and the group called it a day. Tracks from the Rundgren-produced sessions did appear later as bonus tracks on the reissue of their debut disc.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

"The Best of Times" by Styx

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0473
Date:  01/24/1981
Debut:  31
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Styx's previous album "Cornerstone" contained their first (and only) #1 hit, "Babe," and it was the album that began to create some divisions in the band. But they set aside differences and came together to create their concept album, "Paradise Theater," which became their only #1 LP in the US. The concept of the album was tracing the era of Chicago's Paradise Theater from its inception to its abandonment. The theme was also a reflection of the state of the US from the 70s through to the 80s. This first rock ballad single was an instant hit and spent four weeks in the #3 position.

ReduxReview:  Oh man I played this on 45 so many times. I would say that there are two singles that I bought that really started me on my love of 80s music and purchasing way too many 45s and LPs. This would be the first one followed very soon by Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes." This was a big, theatrical Dennis DeYoung song that I totally hooked into. I already liked Styx, but this was the song that pushed me into super-Styx-dom.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This album was a source of controversy after its release. James Young's song "Snowblind" from the album was targeted for having satanic "backmasking," a recording technique where music or vocals are recorded backwards but are meant for play forwards. But the song does not use this technique and was most likely a victim of sung words when played backwards being interpreted as other actual words. The line of the song "I tried so hard to make is so" when played backwards was said to have sounded like "Satan move through our voice." Of course, Tipper Gore and the PMRC after their formation had a field day with this song calling it satanic. Styx vehemently denied the accusation and those who are experts in such things chalked it up to coincidence. The publicity couldn't have been too bad for Styx as controversy sells, but I'm sure it was not fun to be put on the spot by the immaculate Ms. Tipper and her crew. I myself had the LP and manually move the record backwards to hear for myself. The best I could make of the line above going backwards was "saaaa-aaaahhhh  moooooozzzzz."  Nothing else. Didn't sound like anything to me. As usual, a bunch of whack-jobs making controversy where there is none. Get a real life, folks.