Saturday, January 4, 2014

"Jole Blon" by Gary U.S. Bonds

Song#:  0672
Date:  07/18/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  65
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:   After being away from the pop chart for 15 years, Bonds came back with the #11 Bruce Springsteen-assisted/written "This Little Girl." For this follow-up, Springsteen moved from behind the boards to performing this duet with Bonds. Springsteen originally recorded this tune for his album "The River," but it ended up not making the cut for release. He picked it back up and dusted it off for Bonds, but it wasn't as successful as the initial comeback single.

ReduxReview:  While it is a nice 4/4 rock version (see below), I'm not sure that radio listeners at the time really wanted to heard an accordion-driven single. Done very much in the spirit of a Springsteen song, it holds up well over time and sounds good. But I just don't think it was the right time to release a single in this style. Later in the 80s, John Mellencamp would have success with a couple accordion tunes like "Cherry Bomb" (#6, 1987).

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song is an old Cajun traditional waltz that became a popular country tune in the late 40s. Originally sung in Cajun French, it was adapted and covered in English by Cajun fiddle player Harry Choates in 1946. Other musicians (like Springsteen) have created their own versions and lyrics over the years. It was also adopted in 1970 by McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, as their official fight song.


Friday, January 3, 2014

"Pay You Back with Interest" by Gary O'

Song#:  0671
Date:  07/18/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  70
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Canadian Gary O'Connor was a member of few groups in the 60's and 70s that had a couple of singles get some solid airplay. But after his last group folded, he shortened his name and struck out on his own recording his self-titled solo LP. The first single, "I Believe in You," was a hit in Canada and this second single crossed the border and became his only song to reach the US chart. His second album featured another Canadian hit, "Shades of 45," which was about the Enola Gay. The LP would be his last solo effort and he would move on to just being a songwriter for other artists like Eddy Money and 38 Special.

ReduxReview:  As a big fan of the Hollies (see below), this is one of their top songs. Unfortunately, it wasn't one of their biggest hits. It's a great song, so any attention drawn to the song is good. Gary O' does a nice job with the song and updates it into a steady pop/rock tune. The Hollies' version comes with a shift in tempo/time between the verses and chorus, which makes it memorable and interesting. Gary O' keeps it at the same time signature which still works for the song, but it is just not as effective as The Hollies' version.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although he was known as a songwriter, this single was actually a remake of an old hit from The Hollies. The song, written by members of the group including Graham Nash, reached #28 in 1967. The single was only issued in the US and not in their UK homeland.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

"Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  0670
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  54
Peak:  1 (9 weeks)
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  This is most likely the point that Lionel Richie really became a star. He was still hitting with the Commodores and also successfully writing/producing for Kenny Rogers, but his name wasn't necessarily well-known. This mega-hit changed that and he quickly became a household name. It launched his rise to solo super-stardom and oddly, it marked the end of Ross' Motown career and started her descent. Richie wrote the song and it ended up becoming the theme to the film of the same name starring Brooke Sheilds. The movie was panned, but this single took off quickly and was the second single of 1981 to spend nine weeks at #1; the other being "Bette Davis Eyes."

ReduxReview:  I loved this song when it came out. I just thought it was so beautiful and they sounded so great together. These days I still like it, but I never have the urge to hear the tune. For a sentimental, sappy love ballad, it's well-done and it really conjures up a place and time. I guess for me and this song it really wasn't endless love - more like consistent toleration. Regardless, it is a classic 80s single. I remember being at the dentist one time and this was playing in the background. I was on the laughing gas and this song just seemed to go on forever and skip and repeat all over - in other words, it was practically endless. Now when I hear this song it takes me back to that dentist chair and me all hopped up on gas trying not to laugh.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  There was definite competition for what would be the top song of the year between "Endless Love" and "Bette Davis Eyes." The last time a song spent this long at #1 was when Debby Boone stayed there for 10 weeks with "You Light Up My Life" in 1977. So to have two mega-hits in the same year was quite something. But after the dust settled, "Bette" was the top chart song of the year and won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. "Endless" seemed to be the runner up each time and although the song seemed a shoe-in to win the Oscar for Best Song, it lost that race as well to "Arthur's Theme," which had the advantage of a big hit movie attached to it. However, in 2011, Billboard magazine named it the best duet of all-time.


Monday, December 30, 2013

"Don't Give It Up" by Robbie Patton

Song#:  0669
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  76
Peak:  26
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Englishman Patton issued a debut album in 1979 title "Do You Wanna Tonight." It didn't get much attention, but it helped get him a gig as an opening act for Fleetwood Mac. That association provided him with a great opportunity as Mac member Christine McVie would go on to produce his next album and also played keyboards for the sessions. The LP, "Distant Shores," featured this lead single that sneaked into the Top 30 and the album reached the lower part of the chart (#162).

ReduxReview:  If Eddie Money played a Fleetwood Mac tune (one written by McVie), this is what it might sound like. It has that precious McVie sound with the tinkling bells and such, yet it retains a rockiness that leans toward some of Money's more pop-oriented songs. It's a good tune and probably should have done better on the chart than it did.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  McVie wasn't the only Mac member to help with Patton's album. Lindsey Buckingham provided the guitar work on this single.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Stranger" by Jefferson Starship

Song#:  0668
Date:  07/11/1981
Debut:  77
Peak:  48
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After the rockin' "Find Your Way Back" (#29) introduced their album "Modern Times," this second single was issued. It featured vocals by Grace Slick who was back with the group after basically being asked to leave in 1978. This single came close to giving them a pair of Top 40's from the album, but it couldn't quite make it that far.

ReduxReview:  After the exciting #3 modern rock single "Find Your Way Back," this was kind of a disappointment. The song is not that bad and was probably the next best thing to a follow-up the album had to offer. But it is definitely not the most memorable song in their catalog and it kind of killed any momentum the album had gathered.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Before Mickey Thomas joined Jefferson Starship (replacing Marty Balin), he was a member of the Elvin Bishop Group. While in that group, he provided the lead vocals for their #3 hit "Fooled Around and Fell in Love."