Saturday, November 9, 2013

"She Did It" by Michael Damian

Song#:  0615
Date:  05/30/1981
Debut:  91
Peak:  69
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop

She Did It by Michael Damian on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Damian became best known for his role on the TV soap The Young and the Restless. His character Danny Romalotti remained a regular on the show from 1980-1998 and would return later for a few appearances. Damian's portrayal of a struggling singer had been playing out in real life as he started singing at a young age in a family band and was starting a solo career when he was discovered for the show. Around the same time, Damian recorded this one-off single that made it onto the chart for a few weeks - probably thanks in part to his increasing popularity on the soap. Throughout the 80s he would end up recording a few albums that went nowhere, but he would finally get a second single on the chart and reach #1 by the decade's end with his version of "Rock On" (1989).

ReduxReview:  I didn't care that much for the original (see below) and Damian's version sounded like average mid-70s bubblegum pop. In other words, it was not an improvement. Although he was eighteen when this came out, it made him sound younger - or less mature. I'm sure they were trying to get him into the Tiger Beat teen idol thing, but this wasn't the single to do it.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of a minor chart hit for Eric Carmen. Carmen wrote the tune and the single reached #23 in 1977. It was the first single lifted from his second album Boats Against the Current. The LP  could only reach #45, which was a disappointment coming on the heels of his gold-selling 1975 self-titled debut (#21) that featured his #2 gold single "All By Myself."


Friday, November 8, 2013

"All Those Years Ago" by George Harrison

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0614
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  33
Peak:  2
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Soft Rock

All Those Years Ago by G.H. on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Harrison's solo chart appearances were spotty since his first #1 hit "My Sweet Lord" in 1970. His albums were consistent gold sellers, but as the 80s came on he had been absent from the Top 10 since 1973's #1 "Give Me Love - (Give Me Peace on Earth)." Harrison started working on his eighth album in 1979, but the record biz was giving him fits as the label rejected songs and even album artwork. He was still trying to finish the album when John Lennon's murder took place in 1980. Prior to that, Harrison had been working and writing for Ringo Starr's next album and this song was slated for Ringo. It was recorded, but Starr wasn't real happy with the results. After Lennon died, Harrison took back this song, reworked the lyrics to be a tribute to Lennon, and sang on the existing track. It was included on his album "Somewhere in England" and it got him back near the top of the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  It seems appropriate that the first Lennon tribute song came from another Beatle. And having something upbeat instead of some morose ballad kind of fits Lennon more. I didn't care too much for the song back then. Just wasn't my style and I had not been a fan of Harrison's solo work. But I can appreciate it much more these days and it sounds pretty good.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For this song, Harrison kept the main track that was already recorded which featured Ringo on drums. He then asked Paul and Linda McCartney to come in and provide backing vocals. It was the first time the three ex-Beatles worked together on a track since 1970 when the three worked on Harrison's "I Me Mine," the last new song recorded by them before the breakup.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Boy from New York City" by The Manhattan Transfer

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0613
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  72
Peak:  7
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Vocal

Pop Bits:  The Transfer's successful previous album "Extensions" got them their second Top 30 hit with "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone" (#30). Their next album "Mecca for Moderns" became their most successful on the album chart reaching #22, thanks mainly to this first single which became their one and only pop Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  This song got me right from the first listen. Not being a big fan of doo-wop, I was surprised I liked it so much. The voices and arrangement were just perfect and I think they selected the right song to remake (see below). I already liked the group, but I became a much bigger fan thanks to this song. Although it was their commercial peak, they would go on to do some amazing vocal jazz work.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song is a remake of the 1965 #8 hit by The Ad Libs. The British doo-wop revival group Darts reach #2 in the UK with their version in 1978.  2) The Transfer set a record at the Grammy's by winning awards in both the pop and jazz categories in the same year. This song won them Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group and the LP's track "Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)" got them the award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group.


"Promises" by Barbra Streisand

Song#:  0612
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  48
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Streisand scored three Top 10 singles from her album "Guilty" and to try and keep the hot-streak going, this fourth single was issued. While the first three singles leaned toward mid-tempo AC, this song was more along the dance lines and was Streisand's first commercially available solo 12" release. It didn't make too much of a dent on the pop chart but it was another Top 10 AC hit reaching #8.

ReduxReview:  Although a solid song, I think the label may have been getting greedy by releasing this as a single. The album should have gone three and out. This song is just not really single-worthy. It's a really nice Bee Gee groove that sounds great when listening to the album, but it doesn't seem like this would stand out on the radio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Streisand's debut album, "The Barbra Streisand Album," went on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1964. At the time she was the youngest person to win the award and remained so until 32 years later when Alanis Morissette broke the record in 1996, followed by Taylor Swift in 2010. Streisand would also go on to received Album of the Year nominations for the following three years (1965-1967).


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"A Life of Illusion" by Joe Walsh

Song#:  0611
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  34
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  With the breakup of the Eagles in 1980, Walsh continued on his solo trek and released his fifth LP "There Goes the Neighborhood." This first single became his fourth solo Top 40 single and reached #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  I didn't care for this song back upon initial release. It just wasn't what I was into and I thought Walsh's voice was whiny. But these days I can appreciate it and I think it is one of his better songs. It's not one you hear much anymore.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was originally recorded in 1973 with Walsh's old band Barnstorm, however the recording was never completed. Walsh chose to pick up where he left off on the song and finished it off for inclusion on the "Neighborhood" album.


"Hearts" by Marty Balin

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0610
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  8
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  As a founding member of Jefferson Airplane (and later Jefferson Starship), Balin was already in the spotlight as a lead singer and a songwriter ("Miracles," #3, 1975). By 1978 he decided to leave the group and a few years later embarked on a solo career. His first LP, "Balin," featured this single that rose into the Top 10. This made him the only former member of Jefferson Airplane/Starship to reach the Top 10 with a solo single.

ReduxReview:  I bought this single back in the day because it was such a nice, quiet and smooth tune. And I think it still hold up. I like Balin's vocal on it. He kind of croons it and the style fits the song well. I didn't know who he was when this came out and I was surprised to find out he was in Airplane/Starship as this song seemed too AC for someone from a major rock group. But it worked.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This was not Balin's first foray into a solo career. When he began in music, he signed to Challenge Records as a solo artist and released two singles for the label in 1962 that didn't go anywhere. He then joined a folk quartet called The Town Criers. By 1965 he hit the rock 'n' roll jackpot when he founded the psychedelic Jefferson Airplane.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Brooklyn Girls" by Robbie Dupree

Song#:  0609
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  54
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  With two hit singles, including the #6 "Steal Away," and a Grammy nod for Best New Artist, expectations were high for Dupree's follow-up album. He issued "Street Corner Heroes" and launched this first single. Unfortunately, it couldn't crack the top half of the chart and it ended up being Dupree's final entry.

ReduxReview:  This is another nice slice of SoCal pop, but it is just not as enticing or catchy as his previous two hits. At this time he really needed a knockout song to keep his chart career in full-swing and I don't think this was a solid enough song to do it. But then he kind of derailed his own career soon after anyway (see below).

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Apparently, Dupree was not happy with his recording contract and after the release of "Street Corner Heroes" he took an extended break from recording in order to wait out the expiration of his contract. Basically any momentum he had gained was quickly lost. He issued his next album in 1987, but he would have no further chart singles. However, he has continued to record and tour successful since.


"The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)" by The Greg Kihn Band

Song#:  0608
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  15
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Rock, Power Pop

The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'em) by Greg Kihn Band on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Kihn was one of the first to sign with the famous power pop label Beserkley Records and his band issued their self-titled debut disc in 1976. Although that platter and the next one didn't do much business, he started to gain a following through tours and his subsequent LPs started hitting the chart. Singles success eluded Kihn until this song lifted from his sixth album "Rockihnroll" got him on the chart and into the Top 20.

ReduxReview:  I don't know why I didn't buy this song back in the day. I remember liking it quite a bit. How can you not sing along with the "uhuh-uhh-uhuh-uhuh-uhh?" Of course I have it now and I enjoy when this floats up in my shuffle queue. Solid power pop.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In addition to "Rockihnroll," Kihn put out a series of albums titled with a pun using his name such as "Kihntinued," "Kihnspiracy," "Next of Kihn," "Kihntagious," and "Citizen Kihn."


Monday, November 4, 2013

"Yearning for Your Love" by The Gap Band

Song#:  0607
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  60
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  The Gap Band set aside their funk for this quiet storm ballad. It work well at R&B (#5) and pop seemed to be receptive as it became their best showing to date on the chart. It also helped to drive their album "Gap Band III" to #1 R&B (their first) and #16 pop. The album was their first platinum seller as well.

ReduxReview:  I'm more partial to their upbeat funk tunes, but they did do a couple of nice ballads along the way. This one is alright. Unfortunately, it uses the awkward word "yearning" in the title. I just think there are certain words that are probably not the best for pop music - especially in the chorus or title. "Yearning" is one of those words for me. I mean, who really uses that word? But even overlooking that, I don't think this is one of their strongest ballads.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Although the album title is "Gap Band III," it was actually their fifth album. Prior to them joining Total Experience Records, they issued two independent albums that didn't produce any hits. Getting signed to TE was like a new beginning and they started with a self-titled debut (even though their previous album was also self-titled) and began the numbering with their next LP "Gap Band II." The numbering stuck with them through "Gap Band 8" in 1986.


"I Can't Say Goodbye to You" by Helen Reddy

Song#:  0606
Date:  05/23/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  88
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Australian Reddy had a great chart run in the 70s getting six Top 10's including three #1's. The chart streak began to slow as the 70s closed and the lack of support from her home label Capitol seemed to be a contributing factor to the decline. She ended the ten-year association and took a chance on MCA who issued her LP "Play Me Out." This first single got her back on the chart after a two-year drought, but the song only hung on for a few short weeks. It did, however, become a surprise hit in Ireland reaching #16. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep her chart fortunes going and this single would be her last to make an appearance.

ReduxReview:  I always liked Helen Reddy and thought she was one of those "nice" stars - you know, the ones that probably seem as nice in person as they do on TV. Her #1 song "Angie Baby" is a favorite of mine and if you've never seen it, there was an accompanying animated film of the song done that is still on YouTube. It's worth a look. As for this song, it's in Reddy's wheelhouse, but it's just not as interesting or single-worthy as some of her earlier sentimental works. With Air Supply and Manilow still revvin' up the AC at this time, a song like this just can't compete and it's not in the same league.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In 1978, Reddy provided background vocals for the track "True Confessions" included on Gene Simmons' (Kiss) self-titled debut solo album.  2) Reddy is the first native Australian to top the US chart and win a Grammy award, both for her mega-hit "I Am Woman" (#1, 1972).


Sunday, November 3, 2013

"The One That You Love" by Air Supply

#1 Alert!
 Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0605
Date:  05/16/1981
Debut:  59
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The group's previous album, "Lost In Love," was a smash and featured three Top 10 hits including the title track. That always puts expectations high for the next release and Air Supply did not disappoint. This title track to the album climbed its way to the top and became their first #1 pop hit and second gold record. It also pushed the album into the Top 10, which would be their only studio album to do so.

ReduxReview:  What a big-ass schmaltzy, sentimental song...and I love it! If you are going to do schmaltz, then this is how to do it. This song plus some of Barry Manilow's hits should be the templates on how to write these things. For me, this is the pinnacle of Air Supply songs. It's sappy, dramatic, and for a song of this type, it gets everything lined up and right. And it helps that Russell Hitchcock sings the bejeezus out of it. They would have some other great tunes after this, but would never reach these heights again.


Trivia:  Before Air Supply really hit big in the US, two band members, Jeremy Paul and Mark McEntee, quit and ended up forming a band with singer Chrissy Amphlett and the Divinyls were born. After some initial success, Paul jumped ship and the Amphlett/McEntee duo later hit #4 in 1991 with the infamous "I Touch Myself."