Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Take It On the Run" by REO Speedwagon

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0538
Date:  03/21/1981
Debut:  65
Peak:  5
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  The same week that REO's "Keep on Loving You" reached #1, this second follow-up single debuted on the chart. It would soon follow right into the Top 10 and keep the group's album "Hi Infidelity" at #1 for 15 weeks. The album would also be the year's biggest selling rock album.

ReduxReview:  A big more rockier than "Keep on Loving You," this is still in that same rock-ballad vein and sounds great. It's not quite as good of a song, but it still is solid and was the second of a big one-two punch from the group. They were at their peak and this showed why.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  When MTV started broadcasting on August 1, 1981, the video for this song was to be the ninth video played. It did play, but just briefly. Seconds after the video started, due to technical difficulties the screen went blank and video was not seen in full. It did finally play in full later in the day as the 68th video played.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

"Living Inside Myself" by Gino Vannelli

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0537
Date:  03/21/1981
Debut:  77
Peak:  6
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Canadian Vannelli and his brother Joe found themselves in L.A. searching for a record deal. Nothing was happening and as a last resort, they practically stalked A&M label head Herb Alpert to do an on-the-spot audition. The ploy ended up working and Gino was signed to the label. His debut album, 1973's "Crazy Life," kind of sunk, but his second album produced the #22 song "People Gotta Move." He finally reached the Top 10 in 1978 with the #4 "I Just Wanna Stop." He jumped labels to Arista for his next album, "Nightwalker," and this lead single became his second Top 10 hit. The song also received a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song. I played this 45 over and over. I just thought it was a great ballad enhanced by Vannelli's big voice and solid production. It still sounds good to me. This is a terrific pop ballad.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Vannelli was initially signed to RCA in Canada when he was seventeen. He recorded a single called "Gina Bold" and released it under the name Van-Elli. The song went nowhere and Vannelli headed to the States to look for another record deal.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

"I Missed Again" by Phil Collins

Song#:  0536
Date:  03/21/1981
Debut:  79
Peak:  19
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  When the 80s came along, Collins' marriage was ending and he retreated to deal with everything. A good chunk of that time was spent writing songs that would eventually make up his first solo album. Offered a solo contract by his label, Collins issued his debut LP "Face Value," which features this first single. It reached the Top 20, helped to propel the album into the Top 10, and started off one of the most successful solo careers of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  The sound of this single basically sent the tone for many of Collins' solo work to come, specifically with the horns (which, apparently, he was advised not to use but did anyway). I was just learning about Genesis and Collins at this time and had not really developed an interest either yet, but I did like this song. For me, it has gotten better over the years.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Genesis was not Collins' first major label band. In 1969, he was in the band Flaming Youth and they issued one album called "Ark 2." It was a concept album that got quite a bit of good press, but unfortunately (or fortunately for Collins) the album went nowhere. The following year, Collins and another Flaming Youth member auditioned for Genesis. Obviously, Collins got the spot.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Somebody Special" by Rod Stewart

Song#:  0535
Date:  03/21/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  71
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Although he would have his fair share of Top 10's in the decade, the 80s were a little rough for Stewart. After a decade of hit albums and classic singles, he seemed to flounder through the 80s changing up his sound with mixed results. The oddity "Passion" (#5) started things off and it moved on from there. This second single from "Foolish Behavior" sparked very little interest and it stopped a 5-year streak of Top 50 entries.

ReduxReview:  I'm not surprised by the chart showing of this song. It's such a bland ballad and it almost sounds like a rejected Stones song. The tune is not awful; it just doesn't have much going for it. Bland = forgettable.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  A video was made for another song on the album, "She Won't Dance with Me." The song was not released as a single, but it was the third video played the day MTV began their broadcast (8/1/81). The song/video contains the word "fuck," but it was not edited out of the video and aired as-is.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"All American Girls" by Sister Sledge

Song#:  0534
Date:  03/21/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  79
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Dance, R&B



Pop Bits:  After the disappointment of their last album, the sisters moved to a new producer (Narada Michael Walden) hoping to get back in hit-mode. They came out with the LP "All American Girls" this first title-track single still stayed within their comfort zone of disco/R&B. But with that genre still on the outs, the single could not muster up much business on the pop chart. It did, however, reach #3 R&B.

ReduxReview:  For me, this just sounds like another rehash of "We Are Family." The new production, even though it sounds good, is still similar to the previous hit. It's like they just want to bash you over the head with empowerment. It's strange because it is a pretty good tune and if it had been done by someone else I might have liked it better. But since it's by the Sledge's, it doesn't sound original enough to distance themselves from their past hits.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although it may seem like some made-up name, the group was named Sister Sledge because - well, they are all actually sisters with the last name of Sledge. Kim, Debbie, Joni, and Kathy Sledge began singing at a young age together in the churches of Philadelphia before they came out with their debut LP in 1975.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

"Where's Your Angel?" by Lani Hall

Song#:  0533
Date:  03/21/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  88
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Where's Your Angel by Lani Hall on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Discovered in Chicago by Sergio Mendes, Hall made a move to L.A. and joined Mendes' latest group Brasil '66. It was this iteration of the group that hit with their first A&M LP "Herb Alpert Presents" (#7, 1966). The association with Alpert (the "A" of A&M) became important as the groups toured together and eventually in 1974, Hall married Alpert. Hall left the group in 1971 and recorded a few solo albums that didn't really go anywhere. She finally got this single on the pop chart, if briefly, and it became here only solo song to do so. However, she changed up her musical direction and moved to the Latin pop genre beginning in 1982. She had far more success in that market and even one a Grammy in 1985 for Best Latin Pop Performance for her album "Es F├ícil Amar." Despite a bout with the Epstein-Barr virus, she has continued to record and has recently collaborated with Alpert for a pair of jazz standards albums.

ReduxReview:  The arrangement sounds so dated now and it kind of takes away from the song and Hall. I think there might be a good song hidden underneath all the Casio-ish accompaniment, but probably not a single-worthy one. Hall was an integral part to the success of Brasil '66, but if this is representative of her pop solo stuff, her personality was kind of lost in mediocre tunes and production.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In 1983, Sean Connery returned to play James Bond in "Never Say Never Again." Although typically not considered a true part of the Bond series, the movie did feature the typical pop theme song. For this film, the title theme song was sung by Hall after another artist, Bonnie Tyler, turned it down. Written by Michel Legrand, it didn't hit the pop chart but did reach #22 on the AC chart.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Her Town Too" by James Taylor & J.D. Souther

Song#:  0532
Date:  03/14/1981
Debut:  38
Peak:  11
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Although his albums were still selling well, Taylor had not been near the Top 10 on the pop chart since 1977's #4 "Handy Man." This collaboration with J.D. Souther barely missed the Top 10 but did reach #5 on the AC chart. Taylor was still a hot draw at the time so no one could have predicted that this would be his last Top 40 chart entry. His albums would continue to be platinum sellers, but his singles failed to get any attention. J.D. Souther was mainly known as a songwriter, writing and co-writing many songs for artists like the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt and Dan Fogelberg. Souther did have a solo recording career and hit #7 in 1979 with "You're Only Lonely."

ReduxReview:  Once again for me, a terrific musician and songwriter, but I don't connect with Taylor very much. I like this song and it is one in his catalog that sticks in my mind, but it is nothing that I'd purposely choose to hear. A couple of Taylor fans I know rank this song fairly low as they prefer his earlier singer/songwriter stuff or his blues-rock tunes. This is kind of a lazy tune that falls a bit in between.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  At the time of this single, Taylor was in the process of getting a divorce from his wife, Carly Simon. The pair had kids and with Taylor's career running hot, he spent little time at home. Simon gave him an ultimatum to cut back on recording and touring and focus on the family, or split up. Taylor chose the latter and it seemed to inspire the title of the album from which this single is from - "Dad Loves His Work."

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