Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Another Ticket" by Eric Clapton

Song#:  0631
Date:  06/13/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  78
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This second title-track single from his LP "Another Ticket" couldn't repeat the success of the lead single "I Can't Stand It" (#10) and after two consecutive platinum studio album, this one was only able to reach gold level. It would also be his last Top 10 album (#7) for 11 years. He would rebound in a big way with 1992's #1 live disc "Unplugged," which went on to win six Grammys including Album of the Year. It's popularity was bolstered by the hit singles "Tears in Heaven" (#2) and a remake of Derek and the Dominoes "Layla" (#12).

ReduxReview:  Initially I didn't really like this song. It crept along at a snail's pace and it seemed to be lacking anything remotely memorable for a single release. But there was something a bit alluring about the song and after a few listens, it started to sound good to me. It's nothing that bowls you over, but it is soft and intimate and a nice tune. However, these things usually don't translate into a hit single and I think this may have been better off being an album track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Speaking of Derek and the Dominoes, for those two people out there who don't know this, that was one of the groups that Clapton was a member. Before really hitting up a solo career in 1970, Clapton was a member of The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes. He racked up four Top 10's with these groups (including the original #10 "Layla") before he had his first solo hit with 1970's "After Midnight" (#18).


Friday, November 22, 2013

"Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone)" by John Denver

Song#:  0630
Date:  06/13/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  36
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Denver took a career hit when his previous album, "Autograph," only reached #39 and failed to go gold. His next effort, "Some Days Are Diamonds," seemed to shift the focus from pop/folk to country and this lead title-track single returned him to the country Top 10 (#10) for the first time in seven years. It's popularity also pushed it into the pop Top 40, his first in four years.

ReduxReview:  I never really liked this song but I can see its appeal to a country audience at the time. The rhythm, lyrics, melody, and arrangement fit right into that genre at the time. I'm just surprised it went as high as it did at pop as it seemed that audience was abandoning him by this time.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The song is a remake of the 1976 original recorded by the song's writer, country artist Dick Feller. Feller's version failed to chart. The song was also covered by another country artist, Bobby Bare, but it was not issued as a single.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Gemini Dream" by The Moody Blues

Song#:  0629
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  66
Peak:  12
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  In 1972, the Moodies had their highest peaking LP in the US with "Seventh Sojourn" hitting #1. It featured the #12 single "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)." But success had its toll and with all the touring, running their own label, and other issues weighing down the band, they decided to take a break. They returned to recording in 1977 and the following year issued their return LP "Octave." The album was successful, reaching #13 and going platinum. It wasn't a smash hit, but did hint at changes in the group's direction. During the recording, one of the founding members of the group quit. Mike Pinder was the person who developed much of the group's concepts and orchestral arrangements. His absence allowed the group to evolve their sound and they began to move away from the orchestrated concepts. Their next LP, "Long Distance Voyager," was a more focused effort and it put them back in the #1 spot, becoming one of their most successful albums. It featured this lead single that just missed out on the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  As much as I like a lot of their concept/orchestra LPs and epic songs, this is one of their best tunes. It's just a solid, straight-ahead rocker and a good jam. Some balked that this was the beginning of the group heading down a synth-pop road and I do recognized it is not the sound of the earlier Moodies, but it is the sound of a group evolving and adapting. While other group's of their era like Chicago were struggling in their old, dated ways, the Moodies laid down the gauntlet with this tune and greatly succeeded. It sounds a bit dated now, but I still love it.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Formed in 1964, the early version of the Moodies was basically a blues cover band. They had success early on with the #10 "Go Now" (1965), but they didn't really like their direction and wanted to perform their own songs. An idea was presented to them to do a rock version of Dvorak's "New World Symphony." They took the project on, but ended up evolving that idea into an album of their songs done conceptually with orchestral interludes and accompaniment. The result was "Days of Future Passed" (1967) and on initial release, it wasn't a significant hit. But after they started getting hits, attention went back to the LP and a reissue in 1972 brought it back to life with the single "Nights in White Satin" hitting #2 and the album reaching #3. It's now considered a classic and it helped pioneer the use of orchestral music in rock.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Fantasy Girl" by 38 Special

Song#:  0628
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  52
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Southern Rock

Pop Bits:  This band was coming off their rock radio staple "Hold On Loosely" (#27 pop, #3 Mainstream Rock) when this second single from their "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys" album was issued. It couldn't make as much headway as the first, but did make it about halfway up the chart and it helped to make the album the group's first platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  Following up a song like "Hold On Loosely" has got to be tough and I think they were going for a similar sounding tune on this one. The song is pretty good, but I'm not sure it makes the best single. Both songs share a couple of the same writers, so it may have seemed like a good choice. I think the peak may have shown that it may not have been.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  38 Special's producer, Rodney Mills, would go on to work with the group on nine of their albums. He would also work as engineer and/or producer for other Southern Rock outfits like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Allman Brothers, and the Doobie Brothers.  But an oddity among all this rock is his engineering credit for Alicia Bridges' debut album and her hit disco single "I Love the Nightlife" (#5, 1978).


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Tom Sawyer" by Rush

Song#:  0627
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  44
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Prog Rock, Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  Rush's second single from their classic LP "Moving Pictures" couldn't quite make the Top 40, but it was their highest peaking entry on the chart at the time. The group's prog rock tunes are not necessarily pop radio fare, so having this get more than halfway up the chart was quite an accomplishment. Although they have several rock radio staples in their catalog, this one is arguably their most recognizable and one of their signature songs.

ReduxReview:  Although not my top favorite Rush song (that would go to "Red Barchetta"), it comes close and is probably the quintessential Rush song. It has about everything you need to hear from them - philosophical lyrics, time signature changes, great drums, Geddy Lee's voice, and cool arrangement featuring interesting synth sounds - all meshed together into a short (for them) almost-commercial song.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was a collaboration with lyricst Pye Dubois, who worked with another popular Canadian group Max Webster. Dubois' poem "Louis the Lawyer" was transformed into the song using the title character of the classic Mark Twain book.  2) This song was used in a "Family Guy" episode along with the advertising character Chester Cheetah. It cracked me up (caution - language):


Monday, November 18, 2013

"Feels So Right" by Alabama

Song#:  0626
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  20
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Some members of this group began playing together in the late 60s before officially forming as Wildcountry in 1973. When they got their first record deal in 1977, the label requested a name change and they became The Alabama Band. After some label and management issues, the band found themselves a new home at RCA Records and their fourth LP "My Home's in Alabama" was issued. It was a major success hitting #3 on the country album chart with two singles reaching the top of the country singles chart - the first two in a streak of 21 consecutive #1's. Their next LP "Feel So Right" was an even bigger success and it featured this #1 country title track single that found it's way to the pop Top 20 and #9 AC.

ReduxReview:  This is just a really pretty song with Randy Owens' voice grabbing you from the opening line. The group had tons of hits with a few hitting the pop chart, but for me this is their best moment.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song got Alabama a Grammy nomination for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. The album also won the Academy of Country Music's Album of the Year award.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Paradise" by Change

Song#:  0625
Date:  06/06/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Dance

Pop Bits:  The Italio-American group who first introduced listeners to Luther Vandross (singing lead on a couple songs from their debut), found success with their gold album "The Glow of Love." That album had the #1 dance hit (and #40 pop entry) "A Lover's Holiday." Their second LP offering, "Miracles," featured this lead single which also hit #1 on the dance chart. However, it didn't translate as well to the pop market this time and it only hung out for a few weeks on the chart.

ReduxReview:  Although it is still along the lines of "A Lover's Holiday," the production is amped up and better and it is slightly more memorable. Still doesn't rise too far above average dance floor fare, but it plays well.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Co-founder of Change, Mauro Malavasi, co-produced and co-wrote most of the music for the pseudo-group (basically, tracks were written/recorded it Italy, then flow to New York where vocals were added). Later in 1997, Malavasi would have great success co-producing the mega-hit album "Romanza" by Italian vocalist Andrea Bocelli. Malvasi also wrote the title-track tune.