Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Under the Covers" by Janis Ian

Song#:  0667
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  71
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Singer/Songwriter

Under the Covers by Janis Ian on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  The last time Ian was on the pop chart was when she had her big hit "At Seventeen" in 1975. That song reached #3 while it's album "Between the Lines" went all the way to #1. After that major success (which included a Grammy for Pop Vocals), Ian remained popular but her albums saw diminishing returns with each release. Five albums later, she issued the LP "Restless Eyes" and this first single marked her return to the pop chart, albeit briefly. It would also be her last to do so. Although still under contract with CBS Records, Ian decided to stop recording in 1982. Over the next decade, she continued writing songs for other artists and then finally returned to recording in 1993 with her independent release "Breaking Silence."

ReduxReview:  It kind of sounds like a lost Linda Ronstadt track. I don't think it has enough umph to make it a really great single, however Ian can write and it's probably one of her better efforts for chart consideration. It seems a little stuck in the 70s and doesn't quite mesh with the new 80s sounds, but it is worthy of a listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although Ian only had three pop charting singles in her career, they stretched into three different decades. Her first hit was the controversial "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking), which hit #14 in 1967. Then came her big hit "At Seventeen" in 1975. Then this single in 1981.  2)  Along with Billy Preston, Ian was the musical guest on the very first episode of "Saturday Night Live" on October 11, 1975. She performed "At Seventeen" and "In the Winter."


Friday, December 27, 2013

"Breaking Away" by Balance

Song#:  0666
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  22
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Signed to Portrait Records, this NYC-based group released their self-title debut album that featured this first single. It was a minor success that allowed their album to reach the low-level of the chart peaking at #133.

ReduxReview:  I've thought it unfortunate that this single didn't do better. It's really a great song and offers a lot to keep it memorable - especially the "boom - clap" part. This song got lost over the years, but thanks to a radio show by Barry Scott called "The Lost 45s" that has been in syndication for years, it has remained popular with 80s music lovers. This was a particular favorite on the show and it was included on a CD compilation of "lost" songs that Scott developed. Thanks to this, the song has been able to keep alive outside of it's Top 30 peak.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Group member Peppy Castro had some success in the 60's with the psychedelic/garage rock group The Blues Magoos. They had a hit in 1967 with the #5 "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet" from their debut LP "Psychedelic Lollipop." This album is considered one of the first to include the word "psychedelic" on the cover. They remained active until 1970.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

"You Don't Know Me" by Mickey Gilley

Song#:  0665
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  55
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Country

Pop Bits:  Gilley was still riding the "Urban Cowboy" wave when he issued this title-track single from his album "You Don't Know Me." It would be his twelfth #1 on the country chart and would serve as his final pop chart entry. He would continue on and have five more #1's on the country chart and would have entries through to 1989. A few years later, Gilley would own his own theater in the boomtown of Branson, Missouri, where he still performs shows as of this posting.

ReduxReview:  I'm a little surprised this made it as far up the pop chart as it did. It's quite an old-fashioned song and is quite countrified. But the song is a good one and Gilley does a good job with it. The tune has been covered many, many times (see below) and has basically become a standard, so it's got to be good to stand out from the rest and I think Gilley did a fine version.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Gilley has two very famous cousins - Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.  2) This song is a remake of a tune that has hit the pop chart a total of five times. Written by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold, the first chart appearance was by Jerry Vale in 1956 (#14). Lenny Welch (#45, 1960) and Elvis Presley (#44, 1967) also covered the song, but the biggest hit version was by Ray Charles who reached #2 in 1962. The song's co-writer, Eddy Arnold, had his own country hit with the song hitting #10 in 1956.


Monday, December 23, 2013

"Nothing Ever Goes As Planned" by Styx

Song#:  0664
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  54
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After Tommy Shaw's rockin' "Too Much Time on My Hands" hit #9, the third single from the group's "Paradise Theater" album would be volleyed back to Dennis DeYoung (since the first single was his "The Best of Times," #3). This song was chosen and it fell below expectations, not even getting into the top half of the chart. Two other songs from the album, "Rockin' the Paradise" and the controversial "Snowblind," were getting attention (#8 and #22 respectively on the rock chart), but this Supertramp-ish song might have been seen as more pop friendly over those more edgier tunes.

ReduxReview:  I don't know what they were thinking issuing this as a single. It has no business being one. As an album track, it works. As a single, it is not even being close to being something that would catch on at radio. I think they missed by boat by not issuing one of the two songs above or even Tommy Shaw's "She Cares." Anything would have made a better single. But I think band and label politics stuck us with this one.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  At the time their main albums came out, the only certifications for sales were gold and platinum, which several Styx albums were awarded. When the RIAA started to award for multi-platinum sales, labels could submit stats for their artists for older recordings. A&M did so with Styx and on November 14, 1984, they were awarded four of their consecutively released albums with multi-platinum certifications. This made them the first music artist to release four multi-platinum album. Many others would soon follow, but Styx was the first and it was all done on the same day.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

"That Old Song" by Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio

Song#:  0663
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  21
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  After getting their highest pop hit with the #4 "A Woman Needs Love" (#1 R&B), this follow-up managed to hit the chart and almost got inside the Top 20. It also became their became their biggest AC hit reaching #7. The single would be the group's last to hit the pop chart before their break-up and Parker Jr. heading out solo.

ReduxReview:  This ones definitely leans more toward AC than R&B (hence the low showing on the R&B chart at #26) and for the most part it succeeds. But it just isn't as quality as some of their major hits. The tune is an agreeable slice that goes down easy, but I really wouldn't care for seconds.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although more known for their smooth R&B sound, the group did get a couple tracks on the dance chart. The instrumental "For Those Who Like to Groove" reached #23 (#13 R&B) and from their last album, the single "Still in the Groove" reached #35.