Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Lover" by Michael Stanley Band

Song#:  0545
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  68
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After five years and five albums without much national success, the band finally got a break when their song "He Can't Love You" finally broke through to #33. This follow-up single from their album "Heartland" did only about half as well, but it kept them on the charts for a few weeks more.

ReduxReview:  "He Can't Love You" was a fun, upbeat jam, so this one is a bit darker in comparison and sounds like Manfred Mann covering Springsteen again. It's probably just as good a tune as the other song, but maybe not as good of a single. I do like the line "thank God for the man who put the white lines on the highway."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The band has always been huge in their hometown of Cleveland and the surrounding areas. It was then appropriate that Stanley did a guest appearance as himself on an episode of "The Drew Carey Show," which is set in the town of Parma, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland.


Friday, September 20, 2013

"Unchained Melody" by Heart

Song#:  0544
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  83
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Heart just had their highest peaking single to date with the remake of "Tell It Like It Is" from their "Greatest Hits/Live" LP. The album combined hits with some live tracks and new studio recordings. Although "Tell It" was a new studio recording, this next single was from the live side of the album. Again, a remake of an older hit, it didn't catch on and fell off the chart after a minor few weeks. This started a low period for the band, but four-years later the group would rally back in a big way.

ReduxReview:  Live performances on record are not my favorites, but every now and then one is pretty solid. Since this isn't a rehash of one of their own songs, doing this remake live is something new and Ann Wilson pretty much kills it. She powers her big voice right through the song adding some nice licks along the way. I'm still not a big fan of the song in general, but I like hearing this one.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song debuted on the chart the same week Bill Medley debuted with a different song. He is part of The Righteous Brothers whose remake of this song is probably the most famous version. This song is one of the most covered in history and has made the Billboard chart in 9 different versions with Les Baxter's 1955 instrumental version the only one to reach #1.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Somebody Send My Baby Home" by Lenny LeBlanc

Song#:  0543
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  55
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  LeBlanc found himself as part of the Muscle Shoals musician ring when his friend Pete Carr, who had become a successful producer, encouraged him to make the move to Alabama. After performing on recordings by many famous artists, LeBlanc went on a solo path and with the help of Carr got his first self-titled LP released in 1976. The label encouraged a partnership between the two and the LeBlanc & Carr duo was born. They eked out a couple of minor chart singles initially, but in 1977 they reached the Top 20 with the ballad "Falling" (#13). Carr wasn't that fond of being an artist and retreated back to the boards leaving LeBlanc to continue on solo. His album "Breakthrough" contained this chart entry. It would be his final single on the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  "Falling" was a pretty great pop ballad (if you listen to it, you should recognize it - kind of a forgotten song). This one is just okay. It's a good listen but I don't think it is strong enough to really make an impact. The chorus is kind of subdued and it all kind of lazily drifts along. But in a very pleasant way.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Following his "Breakthrough" album, LeBlanc turned to the Contemporary Christian market and continued recording. He placed several songs on the CCM chart and in 2003 was nominated for two Dove awards - one as Songwriter of the Year and one as co-writer of the Michael W. Smith song "Above All."


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Shotgun Rider" by Delbert McClinton

Song#:  0542
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  70
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Shotgun Rider by Delbert McClinton on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  McClinton just got his first and only Top 10 hit the previous year with "Giving It Up for Your Love" (#8). This follow-up single from his "The Jealous Kind" album couldn't get out of the basement. This would be McClinton's final entry on the chart. He would continue to record albums and beginning with 1997's "One of the Fortunate Few," McClinton would have a series of LPs that would be hits on the Blues Albums chart. Four of them would reach #1.

ReduxReview: Well, this is no "Giving it Up." It's a well-done tune, but it doesn't sound like anything that would be a good single at the time. It has kind of a Springsteen-esque feel to it, especially with the sax solo. Good but a bit forgettable. The sax is the best part.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1991, McClinton recorded a duet with Bonnie Raitt called "Good Man, Good Woman" from her hit album "Luck of the Draw" (#2). The duet nabbed a Grammy for Best Rock Performance, Duo or Group.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Don't Know Much" by Bill Medley

Song#:  0541
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  88
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  As The Righteous Brothers, Medley and partner Bill Hatfield racked up some of the best loved hits of the 60s such as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Unchained Melody." In addition to the duo, Medley maintained a minor solo career but he never had a major hit on his own, obviously excluding his 1988 #1 duet with Jennifer Warnes, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." This single marks the first chart appearance for this song, but Medley's version failed to get much attention. It would later turn into a major hit for Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville in 1989.

ReduxReview:  I originally knew this song from the version done by Bette Midler in 1983 (#77), so I've always been partial to that version and wasn't a big fan of the Ronstadt/Neville pairing on it (I find Neville's voice grating and to pair it with the brilliant Ronstadt plays like a beauty and the beast joke). I had not heard this one and was thinking it may be a bit old-fashioned with a 60s icon trying to keep it going in the 80s. But I was pleasantly surprised by this version. I'd even say it rivals the Midler take. I couldn't find the original version anywhere and had to find/buy the single and post it. It was a good purchase.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:   As mentioned, The Righteous Brothers hit #4 in 1965 with their version of "Unchained Melody" (originally a #1 instrumental hit in 1955 by Les Baxter and a #3 vocal hit the same year for Al Hibbler). The classic song got its name because it was a theme written for a 1955 film called "Unchained" (and it was nominated for a Best Song Oscar that year). The Brothers' version ended up featured in the 1990 hit film "Ghost" and that revived interest in the song. Their original version would re-chart and reach #13, while simultaneously a re-recorded version hit at #19 and was a gold-seller.


Monday, September 16, 2013

"Too Much Time on My Hands" by Styx

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0540
Date:  03/21/1981
Debut:  60
Peak:  9
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  As their first single from "Paradise Theater" was peaking at #3 ("The Best of Times"), this second single hit the chart. With this song peaking at #9, it became the first time that two singles from a Styx album reached the Top 10. This song also reached #2 on the new Mainstream Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  This was a great one-two punch for the band. Dennis DeYoung's theatrical ballad followed by this Tommy Shaw rocker. They ended up kind of hating each other and tearing apart the band, but it was their yin-yang that made Styx what they were. This was their last great rock single.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Although group member Tommy Shaw has written and sung lead on many Styx tracks, this was the first song he wrote and sang lead that became a Top 10 hit for the group. His previous best-effort as songwriter/singer for the group was 1979's "Renegade," which peaked at #16.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

"You Better You Bet" by The Who

Song#:  0539
Date:  03/21/1981
Debut:  63
Peak:  18
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  After The Who released their eighth successful studio album, 1978's "Who Are You," the group experienced some of their biggest tragedies. Drummer Keith Moon OD'd less than a month after the album's release and then the following year before a Cincinnati tour stop, eleven concertgoers died in a rush to get inside the arena for the non-reserved festival seating. Pete Townshend also released a solo album in 1980 that caused a minor scuffle with the group as he used songs the band wanted for their next album. But they didn't really need to worry as their next album, "Face Dances," reached #4 on the LP chart and this single became their seventh Top 20 entry (and the last single of theirs to do so).

ReduxReview:  In some ways this kind of plays like a sequel to Townshend's solo hit "Let My Love Open the Door." They sound a bit similar. But I'm not complaining. This is still a terrific song and has enough personality to stand out on its own. For me, this is the last great Who single.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was the fourth one played the day MTV began broadcasting (8/1/81). It also was the 55th one played making it the first video that was repeated on the channel.