Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Secrets" by Mac Davis

Song#:  0662
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  76
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Davis' LP "Texas in My Rearview Mirror" spawned two country Top 10's including the title track, which hit #51 pop. This third single didn't generate much interest at country (#47), but it got him back on the pop chart, if just for a short stay. It would be his last single to reach the pop chart. Davis would go on to have few more country chart entries including another Top 10 with his last entry on that chart coming in 1986.

ReduxReview:  I can understand why this didn't click at country because it falls into soft rock/AC territory. This tune wasn't written by Davis, but he makes it his own and I kind of like it. There is nothing spectacular here, but I think it draws you in with its 70s soft rock arrangement and a nice vocal turn by Davis.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although you don't hear his name much any longer, he has been an influence to a few current artists and has co-written songs with musicians not even close to his style. In 2010, Davis co-wrote the closing song, "Time Flies," to Weezer's 2010 album "Hurley." In 2013, Davis did the original vocal demo for what would be EDM artist Avicii's #4 hit "Wake Me Up." Davis also co-wrote the song "Addicted to You" that appears on Avicii's album "True."


Friday, December 20, 2013

"Urgent" by Foreigner

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0661
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  51
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Foreigner's previous album "Head Games" marked a slight decline for the group with singles from the album missing the Top 10. This first single from their follow-up album "4" brought them back to the Top 10 and it helped to propel the album to #1 - their first and only on the US chart. It would go on to sell over 7 million copies in the US making it the group's best-selling studio LP. It also got the group a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Group.

ReduxReview:  Around this time, there were three albums everyone had. Foreigner's "4," REO Speedwagon's "Hi-Infidelity," and (soon) Journey's "Escape." All with good reason. Foreigner had some great singles, but for me this one is the best. It's well written, sounds awesome (even today), and the sax solo is certainly one of the most memorable in rock. I like this track even more now that I did back in the day.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song featured two other artist of note - one established, one soon-to-be. The sax solo was performed by Junior Walker. He and his group the All Stars were one of Motown's great R&B acts in the 60s and early 70s. Walker had 13 R&B Top 10s during that time and took two of them into the pop Top 10. Also playing synthesizers on the "4" album was Thomas Dolby. A session musician at the time, the money he earned from working on the album and tour dates with Foreigner helped to fund his first solo project that contained his his "She Blinded Me with Science" (#5, 1982).


Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Cool Love" by Pablo Cruise

Song#:  0660
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  75
Peak:  13
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  After a couple of minor albums, this San Francisco group tasted success with their third LP, 1977's "A Place in the Sun," which featured the #6 hit "Whatcha Gonna Do." They followed up with their biggest album, the #6 "Worlds Away," which scored with another #6 song "Love Will Find a Way." After a decline with their next album, they came back a bit with this song that became their last to hit the Top 20. The group struggled on their next (and final) release and split in 1984.

ReduxReview:  I didn't care too much for this song back then and now it's kind of gotten lost. It's actually a nice tune and a good listen. I don't think Pablo Cruise was an outstanding band, but they were often solid and had some good tunes. "Love Will Find a Way" was especially good with a great vocal turn from member David Jenkins. This one is a bit more low-key, but is worthy of a listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  So who in the group is Pablo Cruise? No one. It's a made-up name. The band typically says that "Pablo" represents an honest, down to earth person and that "Cruise" represents his fun loving attitude towards life.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Really Wanna Know You" by Gary Wright

Song#:  0659
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  80
Peak:  16
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Really Wanna Know You by Gary Wright on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  American Wright spent several years with the English group Spooky Tooth providing many of the vocals and songs. Although he had a couple of solo efforts under his belt released while the group was together, it was after the band split in 1974 that Wright hit it out of the park with his album "The Dream Weaver." That LP was a hit that spawned two #2 hits - "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive." Unfortunately, his follow-up albums and singles failed to generate much interest. Before disappearing from the charts completely, Wright was able to get one last single and album on the charts. His album "The Right Place" featured this Top 20 entry.

ReduxReview:  This will happen on occasion, but I don't remember this song at all. By this time, I was faithfully listening to American Top 40 each week and if a song spent some time on the chart, I'd either know the song, recognize it, or at least recognize the title. This one rings zero bells with me even though it went Top 20. It's odd because the song is good and it sounds like something I might have liked back in the day. It kind of has that same space-pop feel as his "Dream Weaver" hit and reminds me of 10cc a bit. This song seems to have gotten lost over the years and I think it's prime for a rediscovery.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was co-written by Ali Thompson who the previous year had his lone Top 20 hit with "Take a Little Rhythm."  2) In younger days, Wright got his initial showbiz as a child actor. Most likely his best outing was in the original Broadway cast of the 1954 musical, "Fanny." He originated one role and moved to another role later on. Also in the cast was Florence Henderson ("The Brady Bunch") who originated the title role.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Nightwalker" by Gino Vannelli

Song#:  0658
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  41
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Nightwalker by Gino Vannelli on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  The Canadian scored his second Top 10 hit with "Living Inside Myself" (#6) from the album "Nightwalker." Oddly, the song only went to #13 in his homeland and no other single from the album hit the chart. In the US, this follow-up title-track single just missed the Top 40 in that disappointing #41 position. The two singles helped the "Nightwalker" LP reach #15, his second best on the chart.

ReduxReview:  This opening title-track sets up the album quite well, but I don't think it is single-worthy. The beginning sounds exciting, but it quickly settles into soft rock mode and there is not much in the way of a solid chorus to sell the song. Although Vannelli's vocal gets a little too dramatic in places, I like the tune and its a good listen. It is just not a solid single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before heading out on a solo career, Vannelli was a member of several bands, even when he was a young teen. One group that he joined was the Motown-flavored Jacksonville 5 that featured Vannelli and his brother Joe. The group name may seem like a take on the Jackson 5, but the band was formed years before the Jackson's had even recorded their first record.


Monday, December 16, 2013

"You're My Girl" by Franke & the Knockouts

Song#:  0657
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  27
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The group hit the Top 10 with their very first single "Sweetheart" (#10), which helped their album reach #31. It was further promoted by this second singled that cracked the Top 30. The success of the singles and album guaranteed that The Knockouts would get the chance to record a follow-up album.

ReduxReview:  This was an okay follow-up to their excellent "Sweetheart." It's just not in the same league. It is run o' da mill pop/rock that plays fine, but there is just nothing special about the tune. There were better songs than this on their debut album, but I'm sure the thought was that the chorus on this one was strong enough to carry it on radio.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The group's bass player, Leigh Foxx, worked with the group Blondie as a session musician around 1997. Foxx continued to work with the group over the years including co-writing songs with Deborah Harry. He finally became a full-fledged member of the band in 2009.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

"American Memories" by Shamus M'Cool

Song#:  0656
Date:  07/04/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Shamus M'Cool was the stage name of stand-up comedian Richard Doyle. M'Cool was also a musician and songwriter who had a small holiday chart hit in 1973 with "Santa's Little Helper, Dingo." With a style that leaned toward country, M'Cool wrote this nostalgic song and had it printed on his own Perception label. It spent a few short weeks on the chart and dropped off. However, the actual 45 and lore around it has lived on far past its minor chart history. So why am I giving this low-rated song a Spotlight? Because of it's interesting history (see below).

ReduxReview:  I really don't care for songs like this. You know - fondly (or not so fondly) remembering past times and events and wrapping it all up in an American flag complete with Velveeta music. Yeah, there have been hard times and good times and America rocks, but I just don't need it blathered to me in a song. At an old job, I used to get demo tapes and there were several that sounded just like this. They would usually surface when the country was going through some difficult political times and many focused on how great everything was back in the day but that we are now on the road to hell. At least this one doesn't go that far. On rare occasions this theme can be effective if done well. Unfortunately, I don't think this is one of them.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  This record has an interesting history and I'll see if I can sum it up succinctly. M'Cool wrote and recorded this tune and got it pressed to a 45 with the b-side being "American Humor," which was 6 minutes of his stand-up show. The story goes that perhaps as little as ten 45s were printed and M'Cool delivered these to major market radio stations, especially around L.A., to get airplay. He thought for sure the song would be a hit. There were program directors who did put the song on their playlists (part of chart methodology then) and it allowed the song to reach the chart without ever selling a single copy in a store (since none were made for retail distribution). Unfortunately, the PD's either went on vacation or other things happened and the support they provided for the single quickly disappeared, as did the song. This all might have ended there except for two factors - it was on the Billboard chart and barely any copies exist. For record collectors, this makes the item an elusive treasure. It doesn't even have to be a good song. Just the fact it was a chart single and is very rare is lure enough. And indeed it has been a highly sought after item. Apparently, one went up for auction on eBay a few years ago and it fetched $2,000. And even though you can hear the song on various sites (like above), it's the actual physical item that is still highly collectable. It has been said that M'Cool was very upset about what happened (or didn't happen) with his song and it was a bitter subject. Unfortunately M'Cool never really got to see all the interest his wanna-be hit single finally generated as he died in 1990. So if you are ever looking through old 45 record bins, remember this title!