Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Fireflies" by Fleetwood Mac

Song#:  0487
Date:  02/07/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  60
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  The Mac's ambitious "Tusk" album sent the group on an 18-month worldwide tour. Along the way performances were recorded and songs from various shows were stitched together and issued as a double-LP simply titled "Live." In addition to their hits, the album featured performances of two new songs, one of which is this Stevie Nicks-penned tune that was the album's first single. Neither the song nor the album were major hits (the album peaked at #14 and only went gold), but the Mac would return the following year with their next studio album that put them back in the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  Although recorded "live" it sounds pretty perfected. I think there was some studio work involved in this. Since it is (was) a new song being captured for possible single release, I guess that is okay, but it sounds like a studio recording to me. It's a bouncy Nicks tune that is a good listen, but nowhere near her best.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The two new songs on the album, this one and Christine McVie's "One More Night," were actually recorded during sound checks and not during their concerts. In addition to these two songs, another one was also captured and put on the LP. Their version of The Beach Boys' "The Farmer's Daughter" was used for the last track on the album.


Friday, August 9, 2013

"Just Between You and Me" by April Wine

Song#:  0486
Date:  02/07/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  21
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Canadian group had spent the better part of the 70s being superstars in their homeland recording a string of gold and platinum albums. The success didn't translate well across the border and only a couple minor singles were able to reach the Top 40. But the band finally got some attention with this single from their "The Nature of the Beast" album. It would be their best pop chart single and would help to propel the album to gold status in the US and double platinum in Canada. It would be the group's peak and one they would not match again.

ReduxReview:  This ballad was all over rock radio back in the day. I didn't particularly like it at the time but these days it doesn't sound too bad. If they didn't rock out on it a bit, I think this could have been a bit of a cheese-fest. It also kind of reminds me of Meat Loaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," which is not a bad thing.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Over the years, April Wine has received a total of 11 Juno award nominations (the Canadian equivalent to the Grammys). Unfortunately, they walked away empty handed each time. However, they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2010.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Don't Stop the Music" by Yarbrough & Peoples

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0485
Date:  02/07/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  19
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  Cavin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples were actually childhood friends in Dallas who would later form this R&B duo. After being hyped by the Wilson Brothers of The Gap Band, the two were signed to the Total Experience label and issued their debut album "The Two of Us." This first single quickly rose on the R&B chart and ended up knocking a Gap Band single off the top of the chart to grab the #1 spot. Although this song would end up being their best pop chart entry, the duo continued to record three more albums that yielded four Top 10 R&B hits.

ReduxReview:  I remember this duo's name but don't believe I ever heard any of their songs. I'm pretty sure I would have remember this one. It's a real tasty slice of funk and with the exception of the crappy little processed voices later in the song, it still sounds fresh and deelish.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The duo left Total Experience in 1986 and moved back to Dallas to start their own music production company. Around this time they also got married.  2) The recording has been sampled on over 30 different songs including Eve's 2002 #2 hit "Gangsta Lovin'" featuring Alicia Keys.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"And Love Goes On" by Earth, Wind & Fire

Song#:  0484
Date:  02/07/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  59
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  EWF's first album of the 80's, the double-LP "Faces," signaled a decline in their popularity. The album was their first since 1973 not to reach platinum status (it did however go gold) and two singles in, the disc failed to produce a significant chart hit. This third single didn't turn things around either and it left the group wondering what to do next.

ReduxReview:  Although a bit better than the previous singles, it still kind of sounds a bit stale for 1981. At this point it just seemed the band was coasting on their old sound and not really offering much new. And the tunes themselves couldn't come close to their peak years. But this is a smooth, breezy groove that is more memorable than the album's previous two singles.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Group founder/producer Maurice White has said that out of all the EWF albums, this one was his favorite.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Cafe Amore" by Spyro Gyra

Song#:  0483
Date:  02/07/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  77
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Smooth Jazz, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Spyro Gyra's final pop chart entry was this first single from their "Carnaval" LP. The album was another jazz hit for them and peaked at #49 on the pop album chart. Although this single would be their last to reach the chart, the group continued pumping out an album a year through to 1990 with their popularity soaring during the 80s. They still recorded albums every 1-2 years from the 90s forward with their most recent one being 2011's "A Foreign Affair." Along the way they have amassed 12 Grammy nominations.

ReduxReview:  Yeah, I'm still not buying what they are trying to sell. The musicians are top-notch, but this style of jazz just doesn't do it for me. If you were sitting at a beach-side bar just talking and drinking and this song was playing, it would be pleasant background music. However, I'd never purposely think "who is this wonderful group?" I can't quite find an appreciation for this stuff.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Their self-titled debut album is one that they funded, recorded, and released on their own. It's popularity attracted the independent label Amherst who repackaged and re-released the album to good success. The label sold the rights to the band to Infinity (MCA) and it was their second album's title track, "Morning Dance" (#24), that broke the band to a wide audience.


Monday, August 5, 2013

"8th Wonder" by The Sugarhill Gang

Song#:  0482
Date:  02/07/1981
Debut:  98
Peak:  82
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  Although this group had very limited success, they were instrumental in getting rap on the pop charts and secured a place in history by having the first Top 40 rap song with 1979's "Rapper's Delight" (#36 pop, #4 R&B). Producer Sylvia Robinson, who had hits as part of Mikey & Sylvia ("Love Is Strange," #11, 1957) and as a solo act ("Pillow Talk," #3, 1973), put together this group for her Sugar Hill label and in doing so became one of the most influential figures in rap history. The group recorded a follow-up album and this first single was issued. Although it spent several weeks on the chart, it didn't get too far out of the basement and reached #15 on the R&B chart. However, the "8th Wonder" LP became their first and only to hit the pop album chart hitting #50.

ReduxReview:   Although not as fun as "Rapper's Delight," this is still pretty good. Now, after so many years of rap and the different styles, this seems so tame. It just comes off like guys having fun and slappin' their skills over some beats and samples. Kids these days would probably consider this kind of lame, but they should take note of rap's beginnings and recognize that the early tunes were really great and fun.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Both the record company and the group were named for the Sugar Hill area of Harlem in New York City. The area was known as affluent neighborhood where wealthy African Americans took residence. In the early-to-mid 1900's, it was also known as an artistic hub where such famous performers like Duke Ellington lived.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Hello Again" by Neil Diamond

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0481
Date:  01/31/1981
Debut:  32
Peak:  6
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Diamond followed up one of his biggest hits, the #2 "Love On the Rocks," with this ballad from "The Jazz Singer" soundtrack. The film, starring Diamond, had been released and was not a big box office draw, but the soundtrack was shaping up to be his best-selling LP in the US.

ReduxReview:   Although for me not as good as "Love On the Rocks," this is still a quality Diamond ballad. "Rocks" had some fireworks to it which made it stand out. This one is a bit more low-key and subtle and it would be his last really great slow song to hit the chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  From his first album in 1966 and through his peak hit-making years, Diamond never had a #1 album. The closest he got was the #2 peak of 1973's "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" soundtrack. But he finally reached the top spot decades later in 2008 when his "Home Before Dark" disc finally grabbed the top spot its first week on the chart. At the time, Diamond also became the oldest artist to have a #1 album. He was 67. However, the following year Bob Dylan would claim the distinction and then Tony Bennett would shatter the record when at age 85 he hit #1 with his 2011 album "Duets."