Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" by The Gap Band

Song#:  0509
Date:  02/28/1981
Debut:  95
Peak:  84
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  This funk outfit mainly consisted of brothers Ronnie, Charlie, and Robert Wilson. The band, filled out with some other musicians, issued albums in 1974 and 1977 to little notice. Producer Lonnie Simmons brought them over to Total Experience Records and the group began finding success with their 1979 self-titled album that featured the #4 R&B hit "Shake." Their next album went gold and contained two more R&B Top 10's. The appropriately titled "The Gap Band III" album finally got them on the pop chart with this lead single. It was also their first #1 R&B hit and #1 R&B album, eventually going platinum.

ReduxReview:  The Gap Band had pretty much established their sound, especially in their funk tunes. The sounds on this one would pretty much drive the band through their hit making days. It's pretty awesome. They would have some singles that were a bit better, but this is a tasty piece o' funk.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The group was originally called The Greenwood, Archer, and Pine Street Band (streets in their hometown of Tulsa, OK), but before their first album they just used the first letter of each street and became The G.A.P. Band. A printing error then advertized them as The Gap Band and that name stuck.


Friday, August 23, 2013

"Angel of the Morning" by Juice Newton

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0508
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  70
Peak:  4
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Pop, Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Newton began her recording career with her band Silver Spur. The group released three albums beginning in 1975, which only produced one minor country chart song. By 1977, the group called it quits and Newton went solo. Her first solo song was the single-only remake of "It's a Heartache" and it peaked at #86 on the pop chart. Her debut solo album was next and even though it got zero attention, Capital Records believed in her and called for a second album. "Take Heart" didn't really sell, but somehow she managed to get five singles from the album on the country chart (however, none reached beyond #35). Again, Capital invested in her and it finally paid off with her third album, "Juice." This first single went Top 10, #22 country, and #1 AC. It was the beginning of a string of hits for her. The song also earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocalist.

ReduxReview:  I remember liking the original as a kid and it is a well-done recording. However, I think this is one of the rare instances where the remake outshines the original. I think the arrangement is bigger and better and Newton really soars on it. I didn't buy the single back then, but I jumped on board the Juice train with her next chart hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of the 1968 #7 hit by Merrilee Rush. It was Rush's only Top 40 hit. Written by Chip Taylor, it was originally offered to Connie Francis but she rejected it thinking it was a bit too risque for her fan base. A couple of other artists recorded the song, but it went nowhere until Rush's version finally broke the song.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

"I Love You" by Climax Blues Band

Song#:  0507
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  80
Peak:  12
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's first single from their "Flying the Flag" album, "Gotta Have More Love," faltered on the chart and peaked outside the Top 40 (#47). However, this second single reversed their fortune and came close to going Top 10. Unfortunately, it capped off their chart appearances as both this song and the album would be their last to reach the charts. They would have some personnel changes but would continue to tour and record far past their peak days on the radio.

ReduxReview:  I really thought this was a Top 10 song because it was so popular back in the day. And why on earth this wasn't the lead single is beyond me. It just seems obvious to me. It's a great song and it sounds good on the radio. At least it did get released and it ended up spending a lot of time on the chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Thus far, eleven songs have hit the chart with the simple title of "I Love You." None of them were Top 10 hits and this one by Climax Blues Band remains the highest peaking of them all.


"Wasn't That a Party" by The Rovers

Song#:  0506
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  37
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Novelty

Wasn't That A Party by ROVERS, THE on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  This Canadian group has their roots in Ireland with the Millar brothers being born in that country. Filling out the group with their cousin and a couple of others, The Irish Rovers played around Canada before heading to California to work in the area's folk scene. They signed with Decca and in 1968 found themselves with a big national hit from their second album. Shel Silverstein's "The Unicorn" hit #7 and became the band's signature tune. But being a very specialized folk group, it would prove hard to follow up that massive hit. But although they didn't have a bunch of hit singles or albums, the group remained a very popular touring act throughout the 70s. As the 80s came along, the group tried to rebrand themselves and dropped "Irish" from their name to just become The Rovers. Their first album as such got them back on the pop chart with this Tom Paxton novelty-ish tune. It would be their final chart entry.

ReduxReview:  I still have "The Unicorn" on 45. I used to love that song as a kid. Now, it's kind of nostalgic, yet annoying. Much like this song. It's fun the first couple of times and if you hear it once every 5-10 years, that's great. But I can't imagine hearing this song all the time. It's fun in limited doses.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In addition to being a popular live act, the group had their own long-running TV variety show in Canada. "The Irish Rovers Show" lasted seven years, but they would have two other shows in the 80s that kept them on TV.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Theme from Raging Bull" by Joel Diamond

Song#:  0505
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  82
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Diamond was already a successful songwriter/publisher/producer and a record company mogul before the 80s even began. He produced hits like Benny Mardones' "Into the Night," Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," and eleven albums by Engelbert Humperdinck including his hit song "After the Lovin'." If that wasn't enough, he decided to do his own album and in 1979 released the disco album "The Joel Diamond Experience." Not much came from it but his next venture was this one-off single based on the main theme to the film "Raging Bull." The film used the Intermezzo from the piece Cavallaria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni for the opening credits and Diamond adapted that for his version. The instrumental would be Diamond's only chart song.

ReduxReview:  Hmmm. Maybe this piece as used in the movie caught on, sort of like what happened to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" in the movie "Ordinary People." Otherwise, I'm not sure why this would even get played on radio. It's kind of a bland, pop-orchestrated version of the song - and one that isn't entirely catchy in this manner. It's not totally sappy or horrible, but it is also nothing I'd listen to again.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  David Hasselhoff? As a singer? Huge in Germany? Yup - thanks to Diamond. After every American label rejected Hasselhoff for a recording contract, Diamond flipped the bill for Hasselhoff to record and the result was him getting signed and his record released in Europe. The album hit #1 in Germany, as did it's lead single "Looking for Freedom." The recordings were also hits in Austria and Switzerland as well.


"Who Do You Think You're Foolin'" by Donna Summer

Song#:  0504
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  40
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop

Who Do You Think You're Foolin by Donna Summer on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Summer turned a new page in her musical book when she released the LP "The Wanderer." Trying to separate herself from the dying disco sounds, she amped up the rock/new wave and scored with the title track (#3). Her follow-up singles, "Cold Love" (#33) and this third one, found their way into the Top 40, but this was a far cry from her consistent Top 10 days. Although she would find her way back into the Top 10 a few more times, this basically signaled that her heyday was behind her.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure if this song is really single-worthy. I like the song, but I just can't imagine it on the radio. It is certainly more pop-oriented and doesn't come close to Summer's disco days, but that is fine. It's a quality tune, just probably not the best choice for a single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In the late 60s, Summer took a job performing in the cast of "Hair" in Munich, Germany. She became fluent in German and did other shows there. Her earliest recorded single was the song "Aquarius" (done in German as "Wassermann") in 1968. At the time she was billed as Donna Gaines (her given last name). She did a few other singles that went nowhere before joining forces with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Her first album was called "Lady of the Night" and was released in Europe. In the Netherlands, the title track and another single, "The Hostage," were Top 10 hits. It wasn't until her next album, "Love to Love You Baby," that she finally hit the US charts.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Ch Ch Cherie" by The Johnny Average Band

Song#:  0503
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  53
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock, New Wave

Pop Bits:  Woodstock, NY, was not only famous for the festival, but for also being the home of Bearsville Records and studio, which became the home for artists like Todd Rundgren/Utopia and Foghat. There was also a group of musicians that hung around Woodstock and the studio led by Englishman Mick Hodgkinson. Collectively they were knows as The Falcons and each member went by a pseudonym. Hodgkinson became Johnny Average. The Falcons never officially recorded, but at some point they became The Johnny Average Band and issued the LP "Some People." This first single, sung by Average's wife Nikki Wills, got a little chart action. It was the band's only chart song and LP.

ReduxReview:  This is kind of a cute little bop-along tune that runs along the lines of an imitation Blondie. Actually, I feel like I've heard this before but not on the radio. It's like a song done by a fake TV show band; like one of the songs from "Joanie Loves Chachi" or by Leather Tuscadero on "Happy Days" or something like that. It's a fun little ditty, but not much more.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to releasing a 1983 solo album, Nikki (Nicole) went on to be the voice of Berry Godmother in the Strawberry Shortcake cartoons.  2) Another band member, Shane Fontayne (real name Mick Barakan), ended up in Bruce Springsteen's band during the period that the E Street Band was disbanded. Fontayne was also married to actress MacKenzie Phillips from 1996-2000. Although only married those four years, their relation ship began in the late 80s and they have a son that was born in 1987.


"It's My Job" by Jimmy Buffett

Song#:  0502
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  57
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Throughout the 80s, Buffett basically pumped out an album a year and supported them with tours (his real money maker). Although his albums consistently hit the Top 100, supporting singles were becoming more infrequent, lower-charting fare. This single from his album "Coconut Telegraph" almost made it halfway up the chart, but it would prove to be his last solo chart song. Buffett would get back on the chart a few times in later years, but in collaborations or guest spots, like the #17 "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" (2003) with country star Alan Jackson.

ReduxReview:  When I think of Buffett, I usually think of mid-tempo, breezy, slightly comical, island-y songs. A pop-country ballad doesn't come to mind. But here we are. Written by country artist (and soon to be a member of Buffett's band, The Coral Reefers..get it?) Mac MacAnally, it seems this was kind of a stab at a message song and it just seems odd coming from Buffett. This song probably would have worked much better as a straight country song by another artist. Regardless, I'm not really buying what this song is selling and it's still not going to make me a Parrothead (thankfully).

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Music was not the only money-making venture for Buffett. He has opened restaurant chains (Margaritaville and Cheesburger in Paradise), became part-owner of two minor league baseball teams, and created his own beer (Land Shark). He also became a writer and has had three books hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller lists. Two were fiction books and one was non-fiction. By hitting #1 on both book charts, he became only the eighth author to accomplish this feat, putting him in the company of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Dr. Seuss, and Mitch Albom.


Monday, August 19, 2013

"Love On the Airwaves" by Night

Song#:  0501
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  87
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  In 1978, Chris Thompson was fronting Manfred Mann's Earth Band (including lead vocals on their #1 "Blinded By the Light") and while working on their album "Watch," he met female background vocalist Stevie Vann. Thompson asked Vann to join his new group Night and together with producer Richard Perry, they released a self-titled debut album in 1979 that featured two Top 20 hits, "Hot Summer Nights" (#18) and "If You Remember Me" (#17, credited to "Chris Thompson & Night"). The latter was used as the theme to the movie "The Champ." This success led to a second album, "Long Distance," and this was the first single issued. The song couldn't find its way out of the chart basement and a year later the group disbanded. Thompson went back to Manfred Mann and also recorded several solo albums. He has worked with many other artists as both a musician and songwriter. Vann did a few solo recordings but mainly continued her work as a background vocalist and jingle singer.

ReduxReview:  What is funny about this one is I listened to their two previous chart entries and was bowled over that I knew "If You Remember Me." I completely forgot about this song and had no idea who the artist even was for the song! What a blast from the past. Check it out if you don't remember it - you most likely will after hearing it. This single is a good piece of 70s AM rock radio and probably should have done a bit better than its paltry #87 peak.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia: Vann was married to producer Robert "Mutt" Lange and they were in a short-lived band called Hocus. They divorced later in the 70s, but remained friends. Lange became an in-demand producer working on major albums by Def Leppard and AC/DC. Vann and Lange remained friends and she sang background vocals on some Def Leppard recordings and he produced her 1995 solo album. Lange most famously discovered Shania Twain and produced her hit albums. They also married but were divorced by 2010.


"Games" by Phoebe Snow

Song#:  0500
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  46
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Snow burst on the music scene in 1974 with her self-title debut album featuring the quietly jazzy #5 hit "Poetry Man." Although it would be here only Top 10 hit, Snow continued with a second successful album and touring and working with artists like Paul Simon (with whom she provided vocals for his #23 "Gone At Last," 1975). Three more albums closed out the 70s, but her work was getting sidelined by her personal life as she was fully committed to taking personal care of her daughter Valerie, who was born with severe brain damage. But Snow eked out one more album, "Rock Away," before retreating from recording for eight years. The album featured this first single, which was her first one to chart in four years.

ReduxReview:  Snow and her new producers moved her away from her pop/jazz style into a more rock-oriented sound and it wasn't a great fit. Snow has an awesome voice, but like on this single, it kind of gets lost in the production. I would have thought this more suited to Linda Ronstadt at the time than Snow. But at least it got her on the chart again and overall it's a good tune.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was covered by TV star Lisa Hartman on her album "Letterock." In a previous posted I noted that Hartman also covered Spider's 1980 #39 entry "New Romance (It's a Mystery)" for the same album.  2) Snow's birth name is Phoebe Ann Laub. Her stage name came from a 1900's advertisement character for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. In the 50's the railroad company also had a passenger train on one of their lines called the Phoebe Snow.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)" by T.S. Monk

Song#:  0499
Date:  02/21/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  63
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Bon Bon Vie by T.S. Monk on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  As the son of a famous and influential jazz musician/composer, Thelonious Monk, T.S. Monk's future was soon determined when he began playing drums as a young teen. By the time he graduated high school, he was touring with his dad's band and Monk stayed with the group until his dad's retirement. Monk then moved on to an R&B group for a while before finally forming his own group. His first album, "House of Music," was released in 1980 and this disco-ish single made waves on the R&B and Dance charts, peaking at #11 on both. Its popularity got it on the pop chart for a few weeks becoming his only song to do so. The band would release two more albums that had diminishing returns and they broke up after their last LP in 1982. Monk returned to his jazz roots playing with other bands and then launched a successful solo jazz career beginning with 1992's "Take One."

ReduxReview:  The song is not really what I expected given Monk's background. It is a light and fluffy piece of dance-funk that goes down easy. There is not much to dislike here, but it's also not very interesting. And it drones on longer than necessary.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song has been sampled several times in other recordings including "Welcome to the Terrordome" (#3 Rap, #15 R&B) from Public Enemy's influential album "Fear of a Black Planet."