Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Love You Like I Never Loved Before" by John O'Banion

Song#:  0552
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  72
Peak:  24
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop

Love You Like I Never Loved by John O'Banion on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Even before his debut solo album, O'Banion had some interesting career moments already. The Kokomo, Indiana, native had his own radio show and then local TV show. He later auditioned and won the lead singer roll in Doc Severinsen's band Today's Children. That connection got him appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. After departing from the group, O'Banion continued with music and also his other work as an actor. He finally got his own record deal with Elektra and released his self-titled debut album in 1981. When this first single was released, it was actually the top debut of the week coming in over classic 80s songs like "Bette Davis Eyes" and "Jessie's Girl." However, it stalled short of the Top 20 and was O'Banion's only chart entry. He issued another album that went nowhere, but he gained a sizable following in Japan. Unfortunately, he suffered traumatic injuries when he was hit by a car and spent years dealing with the fallout. He died in 2007.

ReduxReview:  It reminds me of something Huey Lewis & the News would do. O'Banion sounds really great on the track and it is a fun shuffle. I'm not sure why it didn't do a little better on the chart. Seems like a solid Top 20 entry at least. I'm not ga-ga about it, but it is a nice listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) O'Banion sang the winning entry in the Tokyo Music Festival in 1982. The song "I Don't Want to Lose Your Love" was then recorded by Crystal Gayle and became a #2 country hit in 1984.  2) I can't quite confirm this, but I've seen where O'Banion was on the premier of "Star Search" in 1983 and won the first male vocalist match-up on that episode. However, I'm seeing more evidence that he competed on an episode in the second season in 1984 in the acting category, but it appears he lost in that match-up. It seems to make sense that he was on the show as the musical director of the series, Joey Carbone, wrote or co-wrote many of the songs O'Banion recorded (including this single and the Tokyo prize winning song).


Friday, September 27, 2013

"Say You'll Be Mine" by Christopher Cross

Song#:  0551
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  74
Peak:  20
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  In addition to winning 5 Grammys for his self-titled debut album, Cross got this fourth and final Top 20 hit from the LP. Despite all this attention, the album only reached #6 on the chart. However, more than 5 million copies were sold in the US.

ReduxReview:  Cross had three solid singles and then they chose this dorky song to release. I never liked the song and still only tolerate it. I though the song "I Really Don't Know Anymore" featuring Michael McDonald would have made a better single.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Cross' self-titled debut album had the unusual cover painting of a flamingo. The painting was done years earlier by a band member and it hung in their rehearsal space. They had thought it should be the cover of the first album they do. When Cross signed to Warner Bros. and recorded his debut album, the flamingo did end up being the cover. Since then, it has turned into a logo of sorts for Cross and has been on each of his subsequent albums.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Watching the Wheels" by John Lennon

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0550
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  77
Peak:  10
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

16. Watching The Wheels by John Lennon - on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  With Lennon's murder still fresh in everyone's mind, this third and final single from "Double Fantasy" was issued and it followed the others right into the Top 10. However, after two straight #1's in the UK, this song only peaked at #30 there.

ReduxReview:  Along with "Woman," I thought this was a really good song from the album and probably (for me) the one that is most Beatlesque. I was never that much into Lennon's solo works and it seems rockers tend to gravitate towards him, while pop guys like me seem to prefer McCartney's work. But it doesn't mean Lennon didn't have some terrific pieces and this is one of them.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Beginning about 1975, Lennon retired from the music business and basically stayed home to take care of his son Sean and focus on his family. Many folks didn't really understand his decision to do this and there was some odd reactions to it all. Lennon addressed his decision in the lyrics to this song.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"What Are We Doin' in Love" by Dottie West and Kenny Rogers

Song#:  0549
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  78
Peak:  14
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  West's first album of the 80s proved to be one of her best-selling and most popular. It started off with the #1 country single "Are You Happy Baby" and continued with this second #1 single that ended up being her biggest hit on the pop chart. But the momentum built up by this pair of hits couldn't be sustained and this song would be her last country Top 10 and her last pop chart entry. The song also snagged a Grammy nod for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song right off the bat and ran out to get the single. It is a terrific AC ballad and has been a favorite of mine. The arrangement is a little dated now, but the quality of the song comes through regardless.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although this song is a duet with Kenny Rogers, he was not originally credited. The single was just listed as by Dottie West. However, with later iterations of the song on compilations, Rogers' name was added.  2) Although chart success faded, West was a popular touring act. But by 1990, her finances were in shambles with the divorce from her third husband, bad investments, overspending, and tax issues. She declared bankruptcy and the IRS basically took everything. She was getting back on her feet and was planning a comeback when on her way to the Grand Ole Opry, her car (give to her by Kenny Rogers) broke down. A neighbor offered her a ride and pressed for time they made a frantic sprint. The driver lost control of the car and they crashed. Initially, West thought she was fine, but it ended up she had internal damage and she died during her third surgical procedure in 1991. A TV movie about her life called "Big Dreams and Broke Hearts" was made in 1994 starring Michele Lee. Several country stars appeared in the movie as themselves including Kenny Rogers.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes

#1 Alert!
Gold Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Redux Spotlight Alert! 
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0548
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  80
Peak:  1 (9 weeks)
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Although Carnes just had a couple of Top 10's, "Don't Fall in Love With a Dreamer" (with Kenny Rogers) and "More Love," I don't think anyone expected her next solo effort to be one of the biggest hits of the 80s. This mysterious single, the first from her #1 "Mistaken Identity" album, took off and spent nine non-consecutive weeks at #1. It also ranked as the #1 chart song for 1981. The song and album were nominated for several Grammy awards with this single walking off with both Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Carnes would go on to have several more chart songs, but oddly this ended up being her last Top 10 hit. A true 80s classic.

ReduxReview:  And here it is. The song that really started it all for me. I think more than any other song at the time, this one really announced that the 80s were here. I latched onto it big time. It was the summer of '81 and while this song was #1, I began listening to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 show to follow how the song was doing. I continued to listen to the show even after the song was off the chart and would rarely miss an episode. I even kept a notebook going writing all the songs down in order as they played each week. Hearing these songs then got me to buy them and that is when my addiction to purchasing 45s and LPs began. I also became a huge Carnes fan and got all of her albums and continued to buy anything she released. She is still one of my top favorites and a great songwriter (although she did not write this hit - see below). So for starting my love with 80s music and getting my record collection going, I gotta spotlight this song as it influenced me greatly.

ReduxRating:  10/10

Trivia:  This song was originally written in 1974 by Jackie DeShannon and Donna Weiss. DeShannon recorded the song the same year for her "New Arrangement" LP, however it was not issued as a single. Despite solid critical reaction, the album didn't really go anywhere. DeShannon's original wasn't a dark, mysterious song. Her arrangement was like an old-fashioned jazzy tune and reminiscent of something maybe Randy Newman might have done (I included the original below for a listen). It was pitched that way to Carnes' producer, Val Garay, but of course that arrangement was not going to fly. In comes keyboardist Bill Cuomo who developed the signature synth riff that starts the song. It was recorded live in the studio in one take and the rest is history. It just goes to show you how someone's vision of a song can totally transform it into something new, timely, and hit-worthy. (Side note - Bette Davis sent a note to Carnes thanking her for making her part of the rock generation. The two struck up a friendship which lasted until Davis' death in 1989.)


Monday, September 23, 2013

"Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0547
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  32
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Australian Springfield had moved to the US ten years earlier and was having little luck on the music scene. He didn't have much confidence his just-recorded album "Working Class Dog" would do much better, so he fell back to his other profession, acting, and landed a role in the soap "General Hospital" as Dr. Noah Drake. But this first single from the album took off as did the popularity of "GH." He soon found himself with a hit song/album, going on touring, starring on the soap, and nabbing a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. After 15 years of music and acting, he "suddenly" broke out into a major international star.

ReduxReview:  This was a win-win for me - I loved this song and I loved "General Hospital" (and just so you know, I was watching years before the whole Luke/Laura thing). It's just a terrific pop/rock song. Well written and performed. I think it is every songwriter's dream to have one song that is a huge hit and lasts far beyond it's chart time. For Springfield, this one was money. He had other hits that he wrote, but this one outshines them all by far. Classic 80s rock.

ReduxRating:  10/10

Trivia:  Springfield was in several bands in Australia before signing on to sing lead and play guitar in the popular group Zoot. They had a few albums hit the chart with their best single effort being a remake of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," which hit #4 on the Australian pop chart. The band broke up in 1971 and Springfield moved to the US. His bandmate in Zoot was Beeb Birtles who went on to form the far more successful Little River Band.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Blessed Are the Believers" by Anne Murray

Song#:  0546
Date:  03/28/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  34
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Murray was on a streak of #1 country songs and this one served as her fifth in less that two years. It was the first of four singles (all reached the country chart) from her album "Where Do You Go When You Dream." After lower sales on her previous album, this one returned her to gold status.

ReduxReview:  Again, love the voice, don't like the material. She's had some good songs along the way, but most I just don't connect with. However, her voice is like buttah.What's funny is I just saw a repeat of a "Family Guy" episode where Stewie falls in love with Murray's voice and music. He goes to meet her and when he finds out she doesn't write her own songs, he calls her a fraud and ties her up and forces her to sing "Snowbird." What's great about this is that Murray guest stars as herself. She rawks.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  James "Sandy" Pinkard was a co-writer on this song. He co-wrote other country hits as well before joining forces with Richard Bowden and the comedy duo of Pinkard & Bowden was born. Their first album, 1984's "Writers in Disguise," reached #47 on the country chart and their comedy songs/parodies have been popular on radio shows across the nation.