Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Calling All Girls" by Queen

Song#:  1123
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  60
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Queen's second single from their "Hot Space" album, "Body Language," just missed out on the Top 10 peaking at the dreaded #11. It provided some momentum for this next single, but unfortunately the song did not catch on and could only manage a #60 showing. The band's drummer, Roger Taylor, wrote the song. Although the band had recorded several of Taylor's compositions, this was his first to be chosen for single release.

ReduxReview:  Although not a great song, I find it far more tolerable than the insipid "Body Language." The chorus has a bit of an ELO feel to it and the groove is nice. The tune makes for a solid album track, but I'm not sure it has "hit single" written all over it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was inspired by George Lucas' 1971 directorial film debut "THX 1138." Queen members Brian May and songwriter Roger Taylor were not fans of the video saying the futuristic plot and robots had nothing to do with the song itself.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

"Never Been in Love" by Randy Meisner

Song#:  1122
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  28
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Meisner's second LP after he departed the Eagles, 1980's "One More Song," scored two Top 30 singles including the #19 "Hearts on Fire." His self-titled third album featured this lead single that just made it into the Top 30. It would be his last solo pop chart single and his last solo album until he issued a pair of LPs in 2002 and 2005. He would make a return to his former group Poco later in the 80s and be part of their final pop chart single, 1989's "Nothin' to Hide" (#39), on which he sang the lead vocal.

ReduxReview:  Some of Meisner's solo work was not too far from Eagles territory, so it was nothing that piqued my interest since I wasn't an Eagles fan. But this song was something different. It hooked me right off the bat with the piano opening and when it crashes into the chorus, it comes close to arena rock territory. It is easily Meisner's best song and is one of my favorite solo songs by any member of the Eagles. I really don't know why this song did not do better on the chart. I pegged this as an easy Top 10 and I remember being bitterly disappointed that it barely got inside the Top 30. This song needs a revival stat!

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Around 1970, Meisner was ready to throw in the towel on the rock 'n' roll dream. He had basically been fired from Poco and his marriage was failing due to him being gone and her left on her own in Nebraska (Meisner's home state). He moved back home and began to work in a John Deere dealership. But the lure of music was too much and when he got an offer to play in Linda Ronstadt's backing band, he couldn't refuse and took off again. That backing band soon became one of the most famous bands in rock - the Eagles.

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Themes from E.T." by Walter Murphy

Song#:  1121
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  47
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop, Instrumental



Pop Bits:  The film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" was release to theaters on June 11, 1982, and everyone quickly realized the film was going to be a blockbuster. This included folks who saw the film as a way to market their own products. What Meco was to film scores (his disco-ish "Star Wars Theme" hit #1 in 1977), Walter Murphy was to classical music. He stormed the charts in 1976 with a disco take on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. "A Fifth of Beethoven" reached #1 and led to Murphy arranging and transforming other classical pieces. When "E.T." came along, it seems Murphy beat Meco to the punch by quickly getting out a danceable version of themes from the film's score. The film's popularity most likely gave this single a boost and it came close to hitting the Top 40. It would be Murphy's final pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  Murphy is an excellent arranger and musician, but man, this is just ripping off Meco's territory something fierce. However, Meco's "Star Wars" was almost a rip of "A Fifth of Beethoven." So I guess what goes around... I don't particularly like these types of singles. They usually come off as cheezy, cash-in products. This one is no exception. However, I will say that Murphy's arrangement - in particular the Bacharach-ish, easy listening mid-section - is well done. And he at least refrains from using dorky sound effects. So even though it is a pop culture marketing product, it's quality ranks it higher than others of the ilk.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Murphy's hit "A Fifth of Beethoven" was basically a fluke. He had long been supplying music and arrangements for commercials and while working on a disco theme for an ad, it was suggested to him that updating a classical piece might be interesting. Murphy worked up a demo and shopped it around. Private Stock Records showed interest and signed Murphy. Originally the single was listed by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band, which didn't exist. Murphy basically performed the song himself but the label thought a group name would make it sell better. The song went on to hit #1, but subsequent releases were then just credited to Walter Murphy.  2) Murphy has done a lot of music for TV as well. Most famously, he has worked on all of Seth MacFarlane's shows including "Family Guy," which got him an Emmy. He also got an Oscar nod for Best Original Song for co-writing "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from MacFarlane's 2012 film "Ted."

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

"I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton

Song#:  1120
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  53
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Crossover Country, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Parton probably never imagined that her ode to splitting up with her singing partner Porter Wagoner would end up being her biggest hit as a songwriter. Written for her 1974 album "Jolene," the song was a #1 country hit upon release. It missed the pop chart, but that changed when Parton re-recorded the song for the movie musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." The new version once again soared to the top of the country chart while almost reaching the Top 50 at pop (#17 AC). It also got Parton a Grammy nod for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. That could have been the end to the story, but the song got selected for use in the 1992 film "The Bodyguard" and was recorded by the film's co-star Whitney Houston. The single became a major hit. It stayed at #1 for fourteen weeks, won a Grammy for Record of the Year, was the top chart single of the year, and became Houston's biggest career hit. Not bad for a little song that was just meant as a heartfelt goodbye.

ReduxReview:  I love both Parton versions, but I think this one from the movie edges out the original. It's more theatrical and emotional and Parton really knocks it out of the park surpassing her own original. And although I know that Houston's version is one of the ultimate diva singles in history, I have to say that I don't really care for it. Her version is just way over the top. I mean, it is an impressive performance, but when you compare it to Parton's personal heart-on-sleeve weeping take, it just doesn't compare. Plus, now we are assaulted by countless diva wannabes trying to capture Houston's volcanic eruption. I'm thrilled for Parton that her song became a mega-hit (and got her mega-millions), but for me, I will always love her version.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) With the two Parton version hitting #1 on the country chart, she became the first artist to hit #1 on the chart twice with the same song.  2) Originally, Houston was scheduled to record "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" for "The Bodyguard." However, that song ended up being used in the film "Fried Green Tomatoes," so a different song was needed. Houston's co-star, Kevin Costner, suggested "I Will Always Love You." Houston and producer David Foster fashioned an R&B arrangement that began with an a cappella intro. The record company didn't like it, but Houston's version remained intact and became the diva's signature song.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

"Seasons of the Heart" by John Denver

Song#:  1119
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  78
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Denver got his last pop Top 40 entry with "Shanghai Breezes" (#31), the first single from his last gold-selling studio album "Seasons of the Heart." This title-track follow-up would be his last solo effort to reach the chart. It remained in the bottom part of the chart for a few weeks but lasted a bit longer on the AC chart where it reached #23. Denver would continue to record albums up until the time of his death in 1997. His final studio album, "All Aboard!," was released two months prior to his death and would end up winning him a posthumous Grammy award for Best Musical album for Children.

ReduxReview:  I think the sax sections are about the only thing interesting on this song. Other than that, it's a pretty standard folk-leaning ballad that is ultimately forgettable. Denver's music was definitely not in favor by this time and even AC listeners were beginning to abandon him. He would switch back to more country-flavored material and grab a couple of hits on the country chart ("Wild Montana Skies," #14, 1983, and "Dreamland Express, #9, 1985), but his heydays were definitely over.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  One of Denver's hobbies was that of a pilot. He logged over 2,700 flight hours and flew several types of aircraft. On October 12, 1997, he was flying a small experimental plane alone when it crashed into Monteray Bay by Pacific Grove, California. Denver was killed in the crash. The NTSB report stated the leading cause of the crash was the pilot's inability to safely switch fuel tanks. The handle was not easily accessible (it was placed behind the pilot) and the attempt to reach and turn the handle most likely caused Denver to lose control of the plane. A plaque dedicated to Denver rests on a rock near the crash site.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Luanne" by Foreigner

Song#:  1118
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  89
Peak:  75
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Foreigner's #1 multi-platinum album "4" had already spawned two Top 10's and two additional Top 30 singles. Could another single climb the chart and give them a fifth Top 40 hit from the same album? They gave it a go with this song but fell short. Had the single hit the Top 40, the group most likely would have set a record at the time of most Top 40 singles from one album for a rock band. Although the soundtracks to "Saturday Night Fever," "Urban Cowboy," and "Xanadu" each had five or more singles reach the Top 40, Foreigner's "4" would have been the first artist album to accomplish the feat. But even if they had been the first, the record would not have lasted long. A little album called "Thriller" would soon crush a lot of records.

ReduxReview:  While this is a good album track, it does not make a strong single. Compared to the album's other singles, this one sounds weak in comparison, so I'm not surprised it couldn't muster much support. I'm sure the retro-ish pop made it seem like a good choice, but I think the album opener "Nite Life" probably would have been better. Either way, by this time the album had pretty much run out of gas and probably any single would have tanked. But kudos to them for giving it a shot.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Guitarist/keyboarditst Ian McDonald was not only a founding member of Foreigner, but also a founding member of the prog-rock band King Crimson. He played keyboards and woodwinds for the band and appeared on their seminal 1969 debut album "In the Court of King Crimson." It would be McDonald's only album with the band as he left after about a year with them.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

"Younger Days" by Joe Fagin

Spotlight Alert!
Song#:  1117
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This UK musician played with several different bands throughout the 50s and 60s before falling into session and jingle work. Eventually he got a shot at his own solo career and got a single out in the UK in 1980 that failed to get any attention. His next deal included this single that was released in the US on the Millennium label. It spent a few weeks on the chart and would be Fagin's only US entry. He caught a break in the UK when he sang the theme song to the hit TV show "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet." The main song, "That's Living Alright," reached #3 in 1984 and would be Fagin's peak solo moment. The song would later be revamped as "That's England Alright" and used as an unofficial theme for the 2006 World Cup.

ReduxReview:  After reading about Fagin and his background, this song was not what I expected. I guess I was thinking along the lines of some kind of oldies-style pop leaning towards blues with a twinge of novelty. But what I heard was darn near close to heartland rock via Bob Seger mixed with a little "Shades of 45" from Canadian Gary O'. I was pleasantly surprised. I like his gravely voice (which reminds me of a gruff Bill Medley) and the song is quality. I'm not sure why this didn't click. It's an enjoyable surprise and one worthy of a Spotlight.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  For a time in the early 60s, Fagin played piano for the UK's Vince Taylor and the Playboys. The band was particularly popular in France, but due to Taylor's drug and alcohol issues, along with other internal band issues, the band broke-up and reformed several times. Sometime in the mid-60's, Taylor's altered state of mind (thanks to drugs) led to him joining a religious cult and his career crashed when he had a breakdown on stage and said he was the prophet Matthew. This brought a final end to the band and Taylor basically disappeared. He attempted a few comebacks over the years, but nothing panned out. He died in 1991. However, he remains famous thanks to two other music artists. The Clash covered a song Taylor wrote and recorded called "Brand New Cadillac." It appeared on their classic 1979 LP "London Calling." And David Bowie has said that Taylor was the inspiration for his character and 1972 album "Ziggy Stardust." Bowie met Taylor post-breakdown and in their conversation Taylor described himself as a combination of a god and an alien, which sparked Bowie's musical and theatrical imagination.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Jack & Diane" by John Cougar

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1116
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  69
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  John Mellencamp (still "Cougar" at the time) broke through to the masses with the #2 hit "Hurt So Good" from his #1 LP "American Fool." This second single did even better by spending four weeks at #1 (#3 Mainstream Rock). The certified gold record would become (and remain) Mellencamp's biggest chart hit. The hits (along with MTV video airplay) skyrocketed him to superstar status. Audiences loved him. Critics, not all that well. Tagged as a heartland rocker, many critics deemed his music as middle-country, Springsteen-lite. Mellencamp would change their minds in a couple of albums, but for now he was cresting on a huge wave of success.

ReduxReview:  I find it funny looking back now, but I didn't like Mr. Cougar at all. I didn't like him, his swagger, or "Hurt So Good." Then this song came out and I was all about it. If you were in high school at the time this came out, you could easily connect to this tune. I think everyone was either Jack or Diana, or knew them. The arrangement, full of stop and starts, laid out the story perfectly and was different from anything begin played on the radio. It's a killer song and a classic from the period that still gets attention and airplay.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  In Mellencamp's original version of this song, Jack and Diane were an interracial couple. Jack was an African American and Diana was white. When Mellencamp handed the song into his label, they balked and asked if Jack could be something else. Initially, Mellecamp said no because that was what the song was about. But after more discussion, he reluctantly made Jack "a football star." Looking back, Mellecamp has said he doesn't regret the change as the pair ended up being one of the most famous couples in music.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Let Me Tickle Your Fancy" by Jermaine Jackson

Song#:  1115
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  75
Peak:  18
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  In the time since Jackson hit #9 in 1980 with "Let's Get Serious," his subsequent singles and LP's failed to replicate that success. He regained some ground with the first title-track single to his "Let Me Tickle Your Fancy" album. The song got into the pop Top 20 while reaching #5 at R&B.

ReduxReview:  Who knew Jackson had a little hip-factor to him? Although a small addition, the background vocalists (see below) do make this slight funk jam more fun. It was an odd combination that worked well and seemed destined for the Top 10. It fell a bit short, but it's a pretty cool jam that has aged fairly well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Trends in music don't go unnoticed by artists. Some long-lasting artists have updated their sound to keep fresh and current. That may have been the case with this song from Jackson. Keeping up with the latest music, Jackson was a fan of Devo, who had a major new wave hit in 1980 with "Whip It" (#14). Jackson had basically finished up "Tickle" but still wanted to give the song a new wave flare. So he called up the guys in Devo and asked them to sing on the track. At first they thought he was joking, but after realizing he was serious, they obliged. They supplied the backing vocals on the track.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

"I'm the One" by Roberta Flack

Song#:  1114
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  42
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Flack's #13 song "Making Love" served as the theme to the film of the same name and as the first single from her album "I'm the One." This second title-track single missed out on the pop Top 40, but it did reach #10 at AC and #24 R&B. The song would be Flack's final solo song to reach the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This sleek song makes for a pleasant listen, but not necessarily a great single. I've heard it a few times and it just doesn't stick. Flack has recorded a lot of great songs including some true classics, but this one just lacks any personality or energy. She's killing me softly with dullness here.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Flack's first three solo albums for Atlantic, including her 1969 debut "First Take," did little business with none of her singles making much impact on the charts. That changed thanks to actor/director Clint Eastwood. He chose Flack's song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (from "First Take") to play over a scene in his 1972 directorial debut "Play Misty for Me." The hit film sparked interest in the song and a single was issued. It rose to #1 on the pop chart and in doing so pushed "First Take" to #1 as well. The song also won the Grammy for Record of the Year.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Only Time Will Tell" by Asia

Song#:  1113
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  17
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  This super group consisting of prog-rock icons hit it big with their self-titled debut album that featured the #4 hit "Heat of the Moment." This follow-up single reached #8 on the Mainstream Rock chart while going Top 20 at pop. It helped further promote the LP which became the top selling album of 1982.

ReduxReview:  "Heat of the Moment" was pretty terrific, but I liked this song even better. It's what sold me on the album. I thought for sure this would be an easy Top 10, but it petered out a bit shy. It's a more theatrical song that kind of bleeds into Styx territory, which is totally fine by me. On an album full of rock anthems, I thought this one was at the top of the heap.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  I thought the "Asia" album cover was tha shit. I had zero clue as to what it had to do with Asia or the music, but the image was awesome. I remember having a big poster of it on my bedroom wall. Ends up this was done by artist Roger Dean. An inventor and designer, Dean began to do the artwork for albums in 1967 with The Guns' self-titled debut album. He became more famous when he started an association with the prog-rock band Yes. His first cover for them was for 1971's "Fragile," and he has done almost every Yes cover since. Two members of Yes were in Asia, which lead to Dean working with the band. As with Yes, Dean has done most all of Asia's LP covers.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)" by Jerry Reed

Song#:  1112
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  57
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Country



Pop Bits:  Long known as one of Nashville's best guitarists, Reed's solo career began to take off thanks to his song "Guitar Man," which reached #53 on the country chart. Though not a big hit, it caught the attention of Elvis Presley who recorded the song with Reed playing guitar. It didn't fare much better only reaching #43 on the pop chart, but Presley would end up recording a few more of Reed's songs. Reed's next single, a song about Elvis called "Tupelo Mississippi Flash," became his first major hit reaching #15 on the country chart. With his popularity on the rise, Reed crossed over to the pop chart in a big way with two Top 10 hits in 1971 - "Amos Moses" (#8) and "When You're Hot, You're Hot" (#9). His career cooled in the 80s, but he had one last crossover hit with this tune from his LP "The Man with the Golden Thumb." It reached #1 on the country chart and got close to the top half of the pop chart. Two years later, his charting days were done.

ReduxReview:  As a kid I always liked Jerry Reed when he was on TV. I thought he was funny and entertaining. And of course he was on an episode of "Scooby-Doo" and in "Smokey and the Bandit," so I loved that! But I didn't get into his music, which at times bordered on novelty. Comical songs like this one were well-done and fun on first listen, but then I'd tire of them quickly.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Along the way, Reed dabbled in acting. He made several appearances on TV including his own variety series in 1976. His first film role was with Burt Reynolds in 1974's "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings." His friendship with Reynolds payed off with other movie rolls including 1976's "Gator" and the trio of "Smokey and the Bandit" films. The first "Bandit" film featured Reeds' song "East Bound and Down," which went to #2 on the country chart in 1977.  2) Although "Guitar Man" was not initially a hit for Reed or Presley, it ended up being Presley's last pop Top 40 hit (#28) and final country #1 thanks to a remix version that was released posthumously in 1981.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Hot Fun in the Summertime" by Dayton

Song#:  1111
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  58
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Funk



Pop Bits:  Taking their name from their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, this band signed to Liberty Records and issued a self-titled debut album in 1980. Neither it or it's follow-up, "Cutie Pie," did much business so they moved on to Capitol Records and handed in the LP "Hot Fun," which featured this single. It was their first to both hit the pop chart and R&B where it reached #17. Although the single would be their only pop chart entry, the LP spawned three more Top 20 R&B singles including "Krackity-Krack," which featured a guest turn by fellow Ohioan Bootsy Collins. The group quietly disbanded after two more albums failed to get any attention.

ReduxReview:  Dayton gives this summer classic (see below) a modern 80s polish and it sounds pretty good. I think they capture the feel and groove of the song quite well and stay fairly true to the material. It's not an outstanding cover, but it is certainly respectable and probably should have done a bit better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of a hit by Sly and the Family Stone. Their original reached #2 pop and #3 R&B in 1969. It's been said the song inspired two other hits - "Misunderstanding" by Genesis (#14, 1980) and "Hold the Line by Toto (#5, 1978).

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Monday, December 15, 2014

"What's Forever For" by Michael Martin Murphey

Song#:  1110
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  89
Peak:  19
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Singer/Songwriter, Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Michael Murphey was a locally successful musician around his hometown of Dallas, Texas, before making the move to California. Soon after, he signed his first publishing and by 1964 was part of the band The Trinity River Boys with soon-to-be Monkee Mike Nesmith. Three years later he formed The Lewis & Clarke Expedition with Boomer Castleman and got on the pop chart with "I Feel Good (I Feel Bad)" (#64) from their lone LP. After the split, Murphey continued songwriting and thanks to his pal Nesmith, he got a break when his "What Am I Doing Hangin' Round" got recorded by The Monkees. Other artists recorded his songs including a full concept album by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (1972's "The Ballad of Calico"). Murphey finally got his own solo deal and issued the album "Geronimo's Cadillac," which featured the #37 title track. It would be his fourth LP in 1975, "Blue Sky - Night Thunder," that would break him wide with the platinum #3 hit "Wildfire." But following up that massive hit proved difficult and he only managed a couple of Top 40's over the next few years. In 1982 he made a label change, added his middle name, moved towards country crossover, and issued a self-titled album that featured this Top 20 single. It reached #4 AC and became his first #1 country hit.

ReduxReview:  This easy goin', hip-swayin' song is pretty hard to resist. Expertly done with a solid, singable chorus, the song should have gone Top 10. It's one of the best country crossover tunes from the decade. He's had some great songs, so if you like this check out some of his other tunes like the #21 "Carolina in the Pines."

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song, written by Rafe VanHoy, was originally done by England Dan & John Ford Coley. It appeared on their 1979 album "Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive." The song was not released as a single.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Now or Never" by Axe

Song#:  1109
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  64
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This Florida band recorded two albums for MCA in 1978 and 1980 that didn't produce any real results. They moved over to Atco and issued the LP "Offering." It got some attention thanks to this single that spent a few weeks on the pop chart. After tours supporting A-list acts like the Scorpions and Judas Priest, they put out their fourth album "Nemesis" in 1983. Unfortunately, the following year two members of the band were in a severe auto accident. The crash killed guitarist Michael Osborne and caused major injuries to lead vocalist Bobby Barth. The aftermath of the accident was too much for the band and they split. Barth would recover and join the band Blackfoot for a short period. He eventually reformed Axe and issued the album "V" in 1997. He would revert back to Blackfoot in 2004.

ReduxReview:  The band's LP is rooted in Survivor-ish rock, but this single seems like a distinct stab at making a radio-friendly hit. It almost worked. I think they had all the right elements. The opening almost sounds like something that later influenced Bon Jovi. In fact, most of it sounds like Bon Jovi-lite. I think it is a good tune but I'm not sure if the hook is strong enough to capture a pop listener's attention. 

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before becoming Axe, most of the band were members of the soft rock-leaning group Babyface. Formed in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the band's self-titled debut album featured two minor AC chart entries. "Never in My Life" reached #30 in 1976, and "Make Way Miami" got to #50 in 1977. It must have not been enough to keep their label deal as the band made a move to Florida, had a personnel change, beefed up their sound, and renamed themselves Axe.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Valley Girl" by Frank & Moon Zappa

Song#:  1108
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  75
Peak:  32
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  A hit single can be both a blessing and a curse. Zappa found that out with this single from his album "Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch." The song, which was a satirical take on the way young girls from the San Fernando Valley of California would talk ("valspeak"), became Zappa's biggest single and even received a Grammy nod for Best Rock Group Vocal. However, the song got treated as more of a novelty tune and phrases from it like "gag me with a spoon" became part of popular culture. Zappa then felt that his vast catalog of serious compositions was starting to be viewed as novelties for folks not familiar with his previous works. It affected him to the point that he never played the song in concert. What he intended as an attack/commentary on the SF Valley and its inhabitants turned into a Dr. Demento-style hit that spread "valspeak" to the masses and helped to spawn phrase books and even the 1983 Nicholas Cage film "Valley Girl."

ReduxReview:  I have to admit, I didn't know much about Zappa prior to this single so I took the song as more of a parody than anything. Of course we imitated the valspeak as a lot of people did, but when we did we felt we were making fun of the vapid, suburban mall girls that we knew we would hate along with that culture. I don't know if that would quell Zappa's feeling on the song in anyway, but at least we didn't treat it like a comedy sketch. Actually, I think it is a pretty rockin' tune. It's not something you would want to hear a lot on repeat because the valspeak can get annoying, but its crunchy sound is tasty.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The female voice is that of Zappa's daughter Moon Unit. For her part, she was just basically improvising and imitating things that she heard around at parties or the mall (aka "the Galleria). Many folks took it that she was actually a Valley girl and was part of that whole scene when in reality she was not. Thanks to the song, she became a sort of an unwitting poster child for valspeak when in reality, she just wanted to work with her dad.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

"Love or Let Me Be Lonely" by Paul Davis

Song#:  1107
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  78
Peak:  40
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Davis was at a career peak with his first album for the Arista label, "Cool Night," spawning the #11 title track and the #6 "'65 Love Affair." He would grab a third Top 40 song with this single (#11 AC), but it all was not that wonderful to Davis. The Arista machine (headed by Clive Davis) turned Davis into a reluctant pop star and it soured him so much that he basically stepped away from the music business. He would return to guest on a pair of #1 country singles and write tunes for other artists, like Dan Seals' 1986 #1 country smash "Bop" (#42 pop) , but Davis sat out on pursuing his own solo career. He finally got back in the studio in 2008, but he died of a heart attack soon after he had recorded two new songs.

ReduxReview:  The original is a terrific song (see below), but there is something about this arrangement that I just don't like. It sounds really forced (probably was - see above) and very rigid. I think Davis tries his best to liven up the song but overall it just doesn't work. I'd stick with the original.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of a 1970 hit by The Friends of Distinction. Their original reached #6 on the pop chart while hitting #9 at AC and #13 R&B. It was the quartet's second Top 10 hit. Their first was a vocal version of Hugh Masekela's instrumental hit "Grazing in the Grass," which reached #1 in 1968. The Friends' single reached #3 the following year.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Let Me Go" by Ray Parker, Jr.

Song#:  1106
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  38
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Parker's solo debut LP after disbanding his group Raydio, "The Other Woman," was a #1 R&B hit thanks to the #2 title track (#4 pop). This second single would also do well at R&B reaching #3, but at pop it could only manage a quick showing in the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  Ugh. If you are gonna put a spoken word section in a song, you better make it something good. That didn't happen here. The cheezy opening with Parker's little coos after the first chorus killed the song for me right off the bat. And is it just me or does the beginning of the chorus ("if you're not sure that you want me") sound suspiciously like the song "If You Don't Know Me By Now?" It must have been Parker's popularity that pushed this song because I don't understand how this made the pop Top 40.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  In 1984, comedian Richard Pryor starred in a children's TV series called Pryor's Place. Featuring puppets and kids living in an inner city setting, the show lasted one season. Parker appeared in the program's opening credits and also sang the theme song.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Every Love Song" by The Greg Kihn Band

Song#:  1105
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  82
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Kihn's album "Kihntinued" didn't get off to the best start with its first single, "Happy Man," only getting to #62 on the chart. This second single didn't help things and was barely a blip on the chart for a couple of weeks.

ReduxReview:  This slow-groover plods along just fine but it is not in the same league as some of his best material. I don't think it really makes a good single either. The song might have been more interesting had he done it a little quicker with a reggae-influenced beat. Then maybe this might have clicked. As-is, it is fairly bland. Although the sax work is tasty.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In addition to his music career, Kihn became an author of horror novels. He has written four books including 1996's "Horror Show," which was nominated for a Bram Stoker award for Best First Novel. The book centers around a B-move director who uses real dead bodies for his next film. Kihn also recorded a concept album called "Horror Show" that loosely uses the book for its themes.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Foolin' Yourself" by Aldo Nova

Song#:  1104
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  65
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Nova scored a hit from his double-platinum self-titled debut album with "Fantasy" (#23). This follow-up single couldn't rock it's way as far, but it made a slight dent in the pop chart. Unfortunately, it would be his final chart entry. Nova would go on to issue a second album that ultimately went gold, but it did not catch fire like his debut. His third LP failed to chart and it took six years for him to put out any new material. The album "Blood on the Bricks" came out in 1991 and the title track reached #14 on the Mainstream Rock chart. Since then, he has only issued one other album and that was in 1997.

ReduxReview:  This pop-leaning tune couldn't capture the rockin' magic of "Fantasy," but it's still pretty solid. I don't think Nova has the most commanding voice, so the song seems to overpower him. The song kind of has shades of Rick Springfield to it, which is not a bad thing. I'm surprised that this single didn't do better since the LP was a sizable hit. Nova hit a homer with his first album, but subsequent follow-ups couldn't get off of home plate.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Don't cry for Nova for not having more solo success. He kept himself very busy writing songs for other artists. Most notably, Nova wrote or co-wrote several songs for fellow Canadian Celine Dion including her 2001 #1 AC hit "A New Day Has Come" (#22 pop). But his biggest hit in the US would be American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken's "This Is the Night." That song hit #1 in 2003 and became the year's biggest selling single.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

"Why" by Carly Simon

Song#:  1103
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  89
Peak:  74
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The 80s started off well for Simon with her single "Jesse" hitting #11 and going gold. Unfortunately, it would be her peak moment of the decade. Her next effort, the 1981 standards LP "Torch," stalled at #50 and contained no chart singles. Before releasing her final album for Warner Bros., Simon did this one-off single that appeared on the soundtrack to the film "Soup for One." Written and produced by Chic's Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, the song pushed Simon into the 80s with a more modern sound. It was enough to get her back on the pop chart, but only for a brief few weeks.

ReduxReview:  The video for this song is like a train wreck. It is so horrible, but you can't stop watching. It inspires so many questions just based on the title alone. Why didn't she fix her teeth? Why is she "dancing" like that on the street? Why is she bothering those people? Why are all these random folks singing "la-di-da di-da?" Why did they make a "fun" video for a song with sad lyrics? Why? We may never know. Ignoring the video, the song itself is nothing that exciting. It takes a few listens before the song sticks in your head, but it adheres more like a Post-It that says "hey, this is a weird Carly Simon song." I just know if I'm at home and I hear this, I'll probably start doing that little shuffle dance she does on the sidewalk. And folks will just wonder...why? I'll just smile and say "la-di-da di-da."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While the song was not a hit in the US, it was a different story in the UK. Listeners there loved the track and sent the song to #10. It's reggae-influenced funk sound continued to be popular and later in the 80s the song experienced a resurgence when it got played at the Ibiza-style UK club "The Hacienda," a place famous for popularizing acid house music. The song proved so popular that it was reissued in an extended version in 1989. It reached #56 on the chart.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force

Song#:  1102
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  48
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Hip-Hop, Rap, Electronic



Pop Bits:  Kevin Donovan, aka Afrika Bambaataa, was an influential DJ who also formed the Zulu Nation, a social/political group formed of members of the hip-hop community. Already a prominent DJ who organized large block parties, Bambaataa was inspired by the electropop of Yellow Magic Orchestra ("Computer Game," 1980, #60) and decided to merge the electronic sound with hip-hop beats. With the help of producer Arthur Baker and synth player John Robie, Bambaataa crafted this single that reached #4 on the R&B chart and #3 on the dance chart. The widely popular track gained some traction on the pop chart and peaked inside the Top 50. Bambaataa would go on to record many other tracks over the years, but none were as popular or influential as this early hip-hop single.

ReduxReview:  I was barely aware of hip-hop in general around this time, so I completely missed this song. Even if I had, I can't say I would have jumped right on board as this genre was so foreign to me. In later years I discovered this song and thought it was pretty great. I even think I heard this song before I even knew the Kraftwerk lick (see below) so when I heard their track for the first time, I was like....hey, wait a minute! Despite my lack of exposure to hip-hop and electro at the time, I found my way to these songs eventually.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  One of the driving forces of this song is the synth line borrowed from Kraftwerk's 1978 song "Trans-Europe Express" (#67). Bambaataa also used elements from their 1981 song "Numbers" to help form the drum beat. These were not samples, but uncredited borrowing and reworking of the Kraftwerk material. This eventually led to a lawsuit that was settled out-of-court.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash

Song#:  1101
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  92
Peak:  45
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After their tour de force LP "London Calling" and it's #23 single "Train in Vain," the UK band issued another double-disc slab of aggressive, genre-bending rock with "Sandinista!" Although no singles would reach the pop chart, the album reached #24 and was certified gold. They gathered more songs and had intended to push out a third double-LP tentatively titled "Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg," but inner conflicts about the mixing and production forced the group to seek outside help and producer Glyn Johns came on board to help form the project. The final product ended up being a single LP titled "Combat Rock." This first single got things off to a respectable start, but it would be the second single that would make the album their biggest hit in the US.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't really aware of this song when it first came out. It just wasn't something that was going to be played on the radio between "Bette Davis Eyes" and Air Supply. Luckily, I'd catch on to it the following year. I don't think "Combat Rock" was at the same level as their previous albums, but it did have a couple of great highlights like this song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The first pressing of the "Combat Rock" album contained the song "Inoculated City," which near the end included a sample of a real TV commercial for the toilet bowl cleaner 2000 Flushes. The maker of the product was not thrilled with this and cried copyright infringement. Later pressings shortened the track and eliminated the sample. However, the full track was restored on the 2000 CD reissue.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

"Into My Love" by Greg Guidry

Song#:  1100
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  94
Peak:  92
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Guidry's debut album "Over the Line" produced his first hit "Goin' Down" (#17). This follow-up single visited the chart for a quick couple of weeks and promptly disappeared. Despite the hit and the album getting to #147, Guidry never recorded a proper follow-up LP until he issued a pair of independent albums in 2000. He continued to have success as a songwriter, but unfortunately he committed suicide in 2003.

ReduxReview:  I've written about this before, but I find it really creepy when an artist duets with a family member (sibling, child, etc.) on a love song. It's just weird! Yeah, I know they are just doing a vocal, but c'mon. A background vocal is different, but an actual duet has a real "ick" factor. So this duet (see below) didn't sit well with me from the get-go. Ignoring the bro/sis love factor, the song itself is just alright. It's an average, unmemorable AC ballad that is easy on the ears.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was a duet with Guidry's sister, Sandy. The album was a family affair with his three siblings, Sandy, Cathie, and Randy, participating in the recording.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Take It Away" by Paul McCartney

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1099
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  55
Peak:  10
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  McCartney followed-up his big hit duet with Stevie Wonder, "Ebony and Ivory," with this second single from his "Tug of War" LP. It was another Top 10 hit for him in the US (and #6 AC), but the tune only managed a #15 showing in the UK.

ReduxReview:  I think most folks bought the "Tug of War" album due to "Ebony and Ivory." I didn't. It wasn't until this song came out that I wanted the LP.  It's a hit that kind of gets ignored now. I've always liked it. When I hear the song I always thing about driving to high school. My senior year there was no busing, so I had to drive. I picked up a couple of friends each day on the way. One morning, folks were tired and practically half asleep in the car. I had the album playing and this song came on. The tune starts off quietly and then kicks in. In the quiet part I was singing along quietly and when the song got loud, I started singing extremely loud and scared the crap out of everyone. That woke 'em up! We laughed the rest of the way to school. Ah...good times.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  For his first solo project after dissolving Wings, McCartney enlisted an old friend to guide him. Beatles producer George Martin came on board to help shape the songs and album. Also lending a helping hand was Ringo Starr who played drums on this track.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Someday, Someway" by Marshall Crenshaw

Song#:  1098
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  36
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Considered a modern day incarnation of Buddy Holly, Crenshaw signed to Warner Bros. and issued his self-titled debut in 1982. While the comparisons to Holly were just, listeners soon realized that he wasn't a knock off and his debut was quickly deemed a pop masterpiece. This first single broke him through to the masses, but his initial success was short-lived. His critically acclaimed second LP "Flag Day" failed to gather any listener support and further follow-ups couldn't make any impact either. Despite the lack of mass success, Crenshaw is considered a top-notch songwriter with many of his tunes being covered by other artists. This song would be his one and only pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  This one goes in the "what was I thinking?" category. I wasn't in tune with the Buddy Holly-early rock style and so I pretty much ignored this song. Idiot. I'm glad my ears matured over the years. It's a shame I missed out on this song and Crenshaw back then. Along with this song, he has two others that I totally dig - "Whenever You're on My Mind" and "My Favorite Waste of Time." Bette Midler did a tasty version of the latter that reached #78 in 1983.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Crenshaw's first break in the music business came via the stage show "Beatlemania." From 1978 through 1980, he portrayed John Lennon in the West Coast and touring versions of the show.  2)  Although he never had a big hit as a solo artist, he did co-write a song that reached #11 in 1995. "Til I Hear It from You" was co-written by two members of the Gin Blossoms with Crenshaw and appeared on the soundtrack to the film "Empire Records." The song was released on a double a-sided single paired with "Follow You Down," which reached #9.  3) This song already appeared on the pop chart a year earlier. Rockabilly artist Robert Gordon did a version that reached #76 on the pop chart in June of 1981.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Blue Eyes" by Elton John

Song#:  1097
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  82
Peak:  12
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  John's album "Jump Up!" started to dig him out of a minor slump thanks to the LP's first single, his John Lennon tribute "Empty Garden," and this retro-style ballad. While both songs would come close to the pop Top 10, this song was a major hit at AC hitting #1. The album would eventually be certified gold. There would be one more single issued from the album, "Ball and Chain," but it would fail to chart at pop. However, it would reach #14 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  I've always thought this was a pretty tune. It is nothing that approaches the quality of his classic hits and there is no "wow" factor to it, but it's a lovely ballad that doesn't necessarily sound like it's from the 80s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  "Jump Up!" featured the song "Legal Boys." This was John's first collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice ("Jesus Christ Superstar," "Evita"). The pair would later work together to great success on the classic 1994 Disney film (and eventual smash Broadway show) "The Lion King."

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Monday, December 1, 2014

"Who Can It Be Now" by Men at Work

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1096
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  27
Genre:  New Wave



Pop Bits:  This Australian group formed in 1978 and soon became one of the country's most popular unsigned artists. They secured a contract with Columbia Records in Australia and issued this single in June of 1981. The song reached #2 and they were off and running. But not yet on a worldwide scale. Columbia's North American arm twice rejected the group before finally succumbing. This single got traction in Canada first, but then the US caught on. Over a year since it was released in Australia, the single found its way onto the US chart where it would steadily climb to the top spot.

ReduxReview:  At the time, I think most folks, including myself, really liked this song but totally fell for their second single "Down Under." Looking back now, I think this is the superior song. The paranoid lyrics, sax licks/solo, and delivery were all spot-on. It's a more mature effort where "Down Under" was comedic and bordered on novelty. For me, this is their best moment.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The success of this single and their #1 album "Business As Usual" helped them to secure a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, beating out Asia, Jennifer Holliday, Human League, and Stray Cats.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Gloria" by Laura Branigan

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1095
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  2
Weeks:  36
Genre:  Europop, Dance



Pop Bits:  Branigan's self-titled debut got off to a mediocre start with its first single, "All Night with Me," only making a #69 showing. However, this second single turned things around in a big way. It took a little time to get there, but the single finally made it to #2 and stayed there for three weeks. In doing so, it became her biggest hit and signature song. The longevity of the song (36 weeks) set a record at the time for a female artist. The song also got her a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. The hit would get her album to reach gold status.

ReduxReview:  An 80s classic that owes a lot to the Euro disco sound and artists like ABBA. Not a lot of Europop translates to the US, but this one hit it out of the park. I think what really sells the song is Branigan's vocals. She just wails on it to the point of becoming unhinged. It also helps that she has an interesting and unique voice that stands out. I think this single paved the way for a lot of Europop that would hit over the next few years.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  This song was originally an Italian hit in 1979 for Umberto Tozzi. Tozzi, who co-wrote the song, took it to #2 on the Italian chart and Top 10 on other European charts. The first English version of the song was by UK artist Jonathan King. He wrote his own English lyrics and his single reached #65 on the UK chart. Tozzi actually did a cover King's English version, but it failed to chart. Branigan's producer, Jack White (not the White Stripes one...), is the one who suggested she cover the song and after a failed attempt at a love-song version called "Mario," session musician Trevor Veitch came up with the new English lyrics. Branigan's version was a hit in many countries (#1 in Canada and Australia), but in Italy it only reached #36.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

"I Ran (So Far Away)" by A Flock of Seagulls

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  1094
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  9
Weeks:  22
Genre:  New Wave



Pop Bits:  UK brothers Mike and Ali Score formed a band that would rehearse in a space above Mike's hair salon. After getting some experience working the clubs and recording a couple of songs, the band got the attention of Jive Records. Their first single from their self-titled debut, "Telecommunication," got some attention and went to #19 on the US dance chart, but otherwise if failed to do any real business. However, this second single and its accompanying video hit the right new wave mark and it flew into the US Top 10. The success pushed the album to #10 and it would eventually be certified gold. The song wasn't such a hit in their homeland where it petered out at #43. Although they would actually have three other lower-charting songs, this one major hit got them saddled with being a One-Hit Wonder. This song was placed at #2 on VH1's Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  The song and band were so intriguing at the time. From their look to their sound, it was all so other-worldly, which fit in perfect with the alien abduction concept of their debut LP. The were mocked and liked at the same time. Critics were basically kind yet a lot of music fans thought they were all flash and no substance - a typical sentiment of the time thanks to MTV and synthpop. For me, I loved it. The songs dark, droning groove really hooked me. Love it or loath it, the song became an 80s staple and a classic from the period reflecting a lot of the decades sound and look.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The Seagulls are mostly know for this song and Mike Score's distinctive brushed-back hair that basically gave him seagull-ish wings. His original career as a hairdresser certainly came in handy when it came to developing the band's image.  2) Their name comes from a line in a song by the UK punk band The Stranglers. Their song "Toiler on the Sea," from their 1978 LP "Black and White," contains the lines "Fought with aliens, the young ones used their hands, pointed their way to a flock, a flock of seagulls, a flock of seagulls!"

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Friday, November 28, 2014

"Mega Force" by 707

Song#:  1093
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  62
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  707's debut album contained their first chart entry, "I Could Be Good for You" (#52), but the LP failed to chart. Momentum allowed their follow-up album to hit the lower regions of the chart, but the singles failed. They needed a boost and a move to Boardwalk Records would help the band. Their third album, "Mega Force," was their best charting effort reaching #129. It was helped along by this title-track single that reached #13 on the Mainstream Rock chart. It should have been a stepping stone to more success, but the group ended up disbanding after touring with top bands like REO Speedwagon and Loverboy. If the singer seems different from their previous chart single, he is. Prior to the "Mega Force" album, the band members traded lead vocals for specific songs. However, their new label thought a distinct lead vocalist was needed and they hired Kevin Chalfont to front the band.

ReduxReview:  This has a real Journey flavor to it with a little Survivor tossed in. Even their new vocalist sounds like by-product of a Steve Perry/Dave Bickler union. It's a rockin' tune that seems appropriate for an action film (see below). Although "Mega Force" seems like a cool title, it kind sounds like "mad divorce" when he sings it. The get definite points for rockin' this out though.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song also served as the theme to the 1982 film "Megaforce" that starred Barry Bostwick. The film was not a success and got nominated for several Razzies including Worst Picture.  2) This song was co-written by Jonathan Cain, who was riding high with Journey at the time. After 707 broke up, member Tod Howarth worked with Kiss member Ace Frehley. For Frehley's 1987 solo album "Frehley's Comet," this song was revived with a new set of lyrics and titled "Calling to You." Because Cain had only supplied lyrics to the original song, his credit was removed and Frehley's name added for the new lyrics.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Outlaw" by War

Song#:  1092
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  99
Peak:  94
Weeks:  3
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Technically, this is the third single from their album "Outlaw." Before signing to RCA, the band released a one-off single titled "Cinco de Mayo," which reached #90 on the R&B chart. The track got included on "Outlaw" with the second single then being "You Got the Power" (#66 pop, #18 R&B). This title-track couldn't muster up much support at pop and it was a virtual blip near the bottom of the chart. It would also be their final pop chart entry. However, it did well at R&B reaching #13.

ReduxReview:  This pretty much sounds just like...War. In fact, it almost sounds like a sequel to "Low Rider." It has that same feel, but just not as good. Really, it's not a bad single at all and probably better than anything they had done for a few years. Despite it sounding a little stuck in the 70s, it deserved a better fate than a few measly weeks on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The "Outlaw" album contained seven tracks. Three of the tracks were released as proper RCA singles with three of the other album tracks serving as b-sides. The last track remaining was "Baby It's Cold Outside," which was an original and not a cover of the famous Frank Loesser tune written in 1944. War's song was issued as a promo single to radio stations for the holidays. That basically means that all songs from the album were issued as or on a single.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Love Will Turn You Around" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  1091
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  55
Peak:  13
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Country Crossover, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Rogers was a major star when the 80s started and along the way he dabbled in acting, which included two successful TV movies based on his #1 country songs "The Gambler" (#16 pop, 1978) and "Coward of the County" (#3 pop, 1979). So why not try to lead a major motion picture? His attempt was the film "Six Pack," a NASCAR-themed comedy/drama where a single (non-singing) Rogers befriends a small bunch of orphans, finds the right girlfriend, and finally succeeds at racing. Critically, it was met with a lot of "eh's" and the public basically agreed with the film only grossing $20 million. However, it seemed the movies were not the place for Rogers and it became his only film credit. He continued to make TV movies though and would star in three sequels to "The Gambler." This song served as the theme to "Six Pack" and was the title track to his latest album. It reached #1 at country and AC while just missing out on the pop Top 10. It would also earn him a Grammy nod for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.

ReduxReview:  Yeah, it was probably smart he mainly stayed with singing. He did well with "The Gambler" movies, but "Six Pack" revealed he was not going to be a major thespian anytime soon. At least the movie gave us a good theme song. The relaxed country vibe and Rogers subdued performance makes it one of his better singles from the 80s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although "Six Pack" wasn't a hit film, someone thought it a good idea to make a TV show out of it. A pilot was made in 1983 that starred a pre-"Miami Vice" Don Johnson in the Rogers role and Markie Post as his girlfriend. Among the cast of kids was a young Joaquin Phoenix who at the time was going by the name Leaf Phoenix.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"I Think I'm in Love" by Eddie Money

Song#:  1090
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  66
Peak:  16
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After two platinum albums, Money's third LP "Playing for Keeps" served as a bump in the road for him and couldn't even muster gold status. He regrouped and returned with "No Control" and this first single got him back in the Top 20 for the first time since is debut single "Baby Hold On" in 1978 (#11). It helped to get his album in the Top 20 and return him to platinum status.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure why I didn't hook into this tune more back in the day. It's a terrific song with a really good sing-along rock chorus. He would have bigger hits, but I think this is one of his best tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was quite popular on MTV. It had a storyline that includes Money portraying a vampire in an old castle where unexpected visitors arrive. At a time when music videos were still being made on the cheap, the production value on this one was pretty good and still holds up. But it's a far cry from the high-dollar videos that would take over MTV later in the 80s and 90s.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

"Vacation" by The Go-Go's

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1089
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  67
Peak:  8
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Go-Go's made a huge splash with their mulit-platinum #1 album "Beauty and the Beat" and gold #2 single "We Got the Beat." They quickly followed both up with a new LP and single titled "Vacation." Both the single and album reached their respective Top 10's, but neither were smashes on the scale of their previous efforts. Nevertheless, the album went gold and the single still gets a lot of airplay each summer. The album's packaging, which depicted the band in a water skiing show, received a Grammy nod for Best Packaging.

ReduxReview:  I was in full Go-Go mode when this came out. I was adding to my scrapbook left and right with photos and articles (which I still have). A big ad for this album graced the cover. The album did not disappoint and this single was a big fave and I think both still hold up. "Beauty and the Beat" is the real classic, but "Vacation" was actually more fun.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Cassettes were still in fashion as the decade started and a new format sprung up for a short period. The cassette single, or cassingle, popped up as an alternative to a vinyl 45. And with the introduction of devices like Sony's Walkman, they became quite popular. In the UK, the cassingle was already around with the first one issued in 1980 (Bow Wow Wow's "C30, C60, C90, Go!"). It took a couple of years before the US gave it a whirl and The Go-Go's "Vacation" was the first cassingle offered for sale.  2) This is a reworking of the song "Vacation" first done by The Textones, Go-Go Kathy Valentine's previous band. It appeared on that band's EP "I Can't Fight It" in 1980 prior to Valentine joining The Go-Go's.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Hot in the City" by Billy Idol

Song#:  1089
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  77
Peak:  23
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Idol first had success with the UK punk band Generation X. Unlike most punk bands, they found inspiration in the music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and British pop. With Idol as lead vocalist, they issued a few successful LPs and singles in the UK. After their breakup, Idol moved to the US to pursue a solo career. He issued an EP titled "Don't Stop" that featured a remixed version of the Gen X song "Dancing with Myself." The song's video was a popular MTV staple, but the single was unable to reach the pop chart. However, the EP was successful and it lead to his formal self-title debut album. This first single made the Top 30 and the album would eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  I definitely gave this one a thumbs-down back then. It played like an annoyingly loud Springsteen track sung by a 2-pack-a-day, snotty, bad-boy singer. I've relented since then and I can appreciate it more now. I was never a huge Idol fan, but he did have some tasty hits in the 80s. I think folks kind of ignore this one in his catalog, but it plays well right alongside his bigger hits.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Idol's given name is William Michael Albert Broad. He got his stage name from a school teacher who would describe the young man as "idle." Initially, he wanted to go by Billy I.D.L.E., but thought that it might cause issues with Monty Python's Eric Idle. He then changed it to Idol and a rocker was born.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" by Jennifer Holliday

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1087
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  22
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Although Broadway cast albums were big sellers in the 50s and 60s, it became less so when the 80s arrived. Therefore, it was quite rare that a song direct from a cast album (not a cover version) would hit the charts. An exception came with this single from the cast album of "Dreamgirls." Holliday was cast in the role of Effie and this was the showstopper she sang in the musical. It was an unexpected hit that reached #1 on the R&B chart and almost cracked the pop Top 20. Holliday would win multiple awards for the show and this song including the Tony Award and a Grammy for Best R&B Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  Oh man, I remember hearing this song for the first time and wondering who the heck was singing it. You didn't hear this type of diva-ing on pop radio at the time so I was totally bowled over. It's not your standard pop song but it's a killer Broadway tune sung to the nth degree by Holliday. It's a rollercoaster ride with Holliday practically pushing it off the rails and it is thrilling. I wished I could have seen the show at the time. I'm sure she was amazing. The song has since become a staple of Broadway and diva wannabes since.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The role of Effie was originally created for Nell Carter, but when she got the offer to do her sitcom "Gimme a Break," the role went to Holliday. Initially, Holliday left the project because she didn't like the material and her character died in the first act. She came back, but when she did she discovered the role had significantly diminished, so she walked again. Finally, with rewrites to boost her character (and remain alive), Holliday returned and stayed in the role for almost four years.  2) The role would also bring a major award to another singer named Jennifer. American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson won the role of Effie for the 2006 film version. Hudson walked away with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

"Eye in the Sky" by Alan Parsons Project

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1086
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  3
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  APP's "Turn of a Friendly Card" was a major success that spawned two Top 20 hits - "Games People Play" (#16) and "Time" (#15). Their follow-up would fare even better and become their best-selling studio LP. Both the album  "Eye in the Sky" and its title track single would become APP's first and only Top 10's with the album reaching #7 and the single #3. The album would receive a Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Recording.

ReduxReview:  I liked the Project before this came out, but one listen to this song and the album made me a devoted fan of the group. (I say group, but really it was just Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson with their guests.) Everything on this song approaches perfection from chugging rhythm to Woolfson's droning voice. While they may have done better work on their albums, this was their one shining pop moment. It's one of my favorites of the decade.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) APP's Eric Woolfson, who co-wrote and sang the song, has said that the tune's lyrical theme was based on him noticing all the hidden security cameras posted in casinos and shopping areas that monitor all the people.  2) On the album, this song has a prelude titled "Sirius." It has become just as recognizable as "Eye in the Sky" thanks to its use at many sporting events. Most famously, it was used in the 90s by the dominant Chicago Bulls basketball team. The tune was used during the introduction of the team members. At the time of its release, most pop radio stations just played the single version of "Eye in the Sky" while AOR stations would typically play the the full "Sirius/Eye in the Sky" album version.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Too Good to Turn Back Now" by Rick Bowles

Song#:  1085
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  77
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  This North Carolina native studied pre-med, but ended up an English major which helped his main focus - songwriting. He got picked up as a solo artist by Polydor and issued a debut album called "Free for the Evening. This first single got a little attention and spent a few weeks on the lower end of the chart. The following year, he readied his folllow-up for the label, but Polydor decided to cancel his deal instead. He got picked up by the Applause label and "No Man's Land" was released in 1984. It was his last solo LP.

ReduxReview:  If this song leaned towards country just a hair more, I could hear this being done by Eddie Rabbitt. It's a catchy, upbeat tune and it should have done a little better on the chart. I don't necessarily hear it as a smash hit, but it is certainly a quality song that unfortunately got ignored.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After his solo career fizzled, Bowles returned to songwriting and had good success in the country market. He co-wrote several #1 country hits that were performed by artists like  Earl Thomas Conley ("I Can't Win for Losing," 1986), Reba McEntire ("I Know How He Feels," 1988), Alabama ("Down Home," 1991), Lorrie Morgan ("I Didn't Know My Own Strength," 1996), and Bryan White ("Sittin' on Go," 1997).

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Words" by Missing Persons

Song#:  1084
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  42
Weeks:  11
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Formed in 1980, this L.A. band recorded and sold a self-titled EP while making a name for themselves as a live act. A couple of years later, Capitol Records signed them and re-issued the EP while the group readied their formal debut LP. The band was ready-made for the new MTV culture with their new wave sound and appearance, which included lead singer Dale Bozzio loaded with make-up, hairspray, and sci-fi getups. They issued "Spring Session M" and this first single became an early MTV favorite. Despite its popular video, the single just missed out on the pop Top 40. However, the LP was more successful reaching #17 and going gold.

ReduxReview:  On first go-round, I didn't connect with this group. Dale Bozzio's hiccuping style annoyed me and I didn't love the songs. However, they have grown on me over the years and I've gotten totally hooked on three of their singles including this one. They kind of get lumped into a batch of early new wave groups, but really, I'd consider them one of the forerunners of the genre from the US. The week this single debuted, Human League took over the #1 slot with "Don't You Want Me." Other Euro-synthpop/new wave groups were also gaining some ground while US artists were just beginning to plug in their synths. Missing Persons was one of a minor handful to start making some (new) waves. I don't think they or their album get enough credit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Four of the five original members of the band worked with Frank Zappa. Lead singer Dale Bozzio can be heard on four Zappa albums while her husband Terry played drums on many Zappa recordings (they actually met via their work with Zappa). Warren Cuccurullo played guitar in Zappa's band while Patrick O'Hearn played bass.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Enough Is Enough" by April Wine

Song#:  1083
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  50
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  April Wine took a bit of a break after "The Nature of the Beast," became their most successful album in the US. It was their second LP to go gold and it was helped along by the #21 showing of "Just Between You and Me." After their short hiatus, they returned with "Power Play." This first single faltered at the halfway mark on the pop chart while the album fizzled at #37 and failed to go gold. It was a disappointment following their previous successes.

ReduxReview:  This song starts out with some promising licks, but overall it ends up as a competent, yet bland, rock tune. There is nothing special about it or their performance. It sounds more like an album track than a single. If this was the best they had to offer from the LP, then I'm not shocked that record buyers ignored it.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The second single from the album was "Tell Me Why." The song would get to #46 on the Canadian chart (their home country), but fail to reach the US pop chart. The song is a cover of a Beatles original that appeared on their "A Hard Days Night" album. The original was an up-tempo tune written by John Lennon. April Wine turned it into a ballad for their cover version.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

"Wasted on the Way" by Crosby, Stills & Nash

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1082
Date:  06/26/1982
Debut:  48
Peak:  9
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Soft Rock, Singer/Songwriter



Pop Bits:  It's hard to believe that this legendary trio had only released two studio album since their formation in 1968. Their 1969 self-titled, Grammy-winning debut became a classic and their 1977 LP "CSN" got them their first Top 10 hit with "Just a Song Before I Go" (#7). Although as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young they issued the classic "Déjà Vu" in 1970, it wouldn't be until 1982 that the original trio released their third studio album, "Daylight Again." Expectations were high for their return, but would their folk-rock harmonies fit in the changing 80s musical landscape? And would the younger generation care? This first single seemed to answer both questions with a resounding "yes." This first single would become their second (and last) pop Top 10 and reach #2 at AC. It was a welcome return that netted them another platinum disc.

ReduxReview:  This song is like covering up with a good ol' warm blanket that you've had since you were a kid. It's snuggly, comfortable, and just makes you happy and nostalgic. It was a great return for the trio. It would be short-lived, but it was pretty sweet while it lasted.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  "Daylight Again" was originally to be a project for Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. David Crosby had been dealing with addiction issued and so Stills and Nash decided to work as a duo. They recorded songs and used singers like Timothy B. Schmit (the Eagles) and Art Garfunkel to flesh out the harmonies. But their record company balked and would only have interest in a full CSN project. Eventually, Stills and Nash agreed and had Crosby come on board. Crosby brought two songs to the table and did vocals on other tracks, but overall the LP still leaned towards a Stills/Nash project. Schmit's vocals remained on several songs including this single.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Route 101" by Herb Alpert

Song#:  1081
Date:  06/26/1982
Debut:  71
Peak:  37
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Thanks in part to being featured on the soap "General Hospital," Alpert enjoyed a late-career #1 with the title-track to his 1979 album "Rise." His two follow-up LPs didn't make much impact, so Alpert returned to the Latin-esque sound of his earlier recordings with the Tijuana Brass and issued "Fandango." The album was received well and this first single returned him to the pop Top 40 and the AC Top 10 (#4). It would be Alpert's last instrumental single to reach the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  Combining his earlier Latin-based sound with the sophisticated AC of his later tracks paid off quite well. I liked "Rise," but thought it was a bit cheezy with the disco beat and hand claps. This song suits my style much better and I consider it one of his best singles.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Before his career began with the Tijuana Brass, Alpert wrote (or co-wrote) and produced songs for other artists. One song he co-wrote was Sam Cooke's 1960 hit "Wonderful World." The song reached #12 at pop and #2 R&B. Later generations may recognize the tune as the one being played during the start of the famous lunchroom scene in the 1978 film "Animal House."

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

"American Music" by The Pointer Sisters

Song#:  1080
Date:  06/26/1982
Debut:  73
Peak:  16
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The Sisters followed-up their successful "Black & White" album, which featured the #2 "Slow Hand," with "So Excited!" It would be their fifth album with producer Richard Perry who guided the trio into their most successful period. This lead single revisited the girl group sound of their previous single, "Should I Do It" (#13). It did just about as well, but it wasn't a solid hit (although it reached #9 at AC). In turn, the LP fizzled at #59 and failed to reach gold status.

ReduxReview:  I have to say, I'm not sure why this song made it to the Top 20. Maybe the nostalgia factor? It was never a favorite of mine from the Sisters. If listening to their greatest hits, I usually fast-forward over this one. They didn't get a lot of support at R&B for this single (#23) and I think that hurt. It's not an awful song, but it borders on corny for me.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Parker McGee. As a songwriter, McGee had two major hits that were recorded by England Dan & John Ford Coley. In 1976, the duo hit with McGee's "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" (#2) and "Nights Are Forever without You" (#10). As most successful songwriters do, McGee tried for his own solo career. He issued a self-titled debut in 1977 that yielded the #42 chart single "I Just Can't Say No to You." It would be his only chart song and lone solo LP.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

"Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)" by Donna Summer

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1079
Date:  06/26/1982
Debut:  79
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  It was not the best time for Donna Summer. After the fall of disco, Summer signed with Geffen Records and rushed out her LP "The Wanderer." While the album went gold and featured the #3 title track, it couldn't match the success of her heyday. Work began soon after on a follow-up with her producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. It was to be a double LP and with three songs done and the rest in demo stage, label head David Geffen stopped by to check on progress. He wasn't happy with the results and decided to scrap the album and get rid of the producers. He then hired Quincy Jones to guide Summer's next LP. The sessions were not the most pleasant with Summer pregnant, the material challenging, and the Summer/Jones relationship not very harmonious. The self-titled album took six months to finish and this first single was issued. It reached #10 at pop and #4 at R&B, but it was not a runaway hit and the album, although getting to gold again, did not end up being the smash hit Geffen and Jones had plotted.

ReduxReview:  After the LP's release, Summer stated in an interview that she sometimes felt like she was just a singer on a Quincy Jones album. I can hear/feel that in this song. Just listen to the chorus. Which, if any of those voices, belongs to Summer? Although it is her single, she is practically invisible during most sections. It seems like Geffen and Jones had a specific agenda - create a mega-hit album at whatever cost. Unfortunately, when folks try to force something to work, it typically doesn't. And with Summer not fully on board, this project was practically doomed from the beginning. I like this song, but they could have gotten anyone to sing this. Summer's diva voice is basically wasted here.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although the LP scrapped by Geffen was not entirely finished (most songs were still in demo form), several tunes appeared elsewhere later. The song "Romeo" appeared on the award-winning soundtrack to "Flashdance," while "Highway Runner" was on the soundtrack to "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Some songs ended up covered by other artists. Frida recorded a version of "To Turn to Stone" for her "Something's Going On" album (produced by Phil Collins). The shelved album would later be officially issued in 1996 as "I'm a Rainbow." Although the album did not chart or produce any singles, reviews were generally positive, as opposed to the negative reviews for the self-titled LP Geffen and Jones manufactured.

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