Saturday, January 11, 2014

"I'm in Love" by Evelyn King

Song#:  0679
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  40
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  King has one of those by-chance discovery stories. Her mother was employed as an overnight cleaner at a music studio in Philadelphia. King would also work with her and would sing around the studio while working. A producer heard the 16-year-old singing and began to work with her. She signed her first record deal in 1977 and out of the gate she had a smash hit with the dance track "Shame" (#9 pop, #7 R&B). It was the first of two gold singles from the album, which itself went platinum. Her next two albums didn't do quite as well, but her fourth outing "I'm in Love" featured this title track which put her back in the pop Top 40 and became her first #1 R&B and Dance single.

ReduxReview:  This is a pretty solid funky groove that keeps your toes a-tappin' and head a-boppin', but it is nowhere near as great as her single "Shame" or her later one "Love Come Down." It's just not as hooky and although it is nice while hearing it, I just seem to forget it soon after.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was sampled for the Janet Jackson track "R&B Junkie," which appeared on her 2004 album "Damita Jo."


Friday, January 10, 2014

"Chloe" by Elton John

Song#:  0678
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:   34
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Chloe by Elton John on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  John's first single from "The Fox," the #21 euro-beat "Nobody Wins," was a bit of a dud and this second single fared even worse. The drab ballad got into the Top 40, but it did very little in helping to promote the album. The song is the last part of a four-song piece that begins the b-side of the album. "Carla/Etude" and "Fanfare" preceded "Chloe" and on most CD replications of the album they are combined into one continuous track.

ReduxReview:  This is a tiresome ballad from John. It plays like a toss-off, which it kind of was since it was recorded in the sessions for his previous album "21 at 33." Although it reached the Top 40, it's a song that you won't find on a typical hits collection of John's. Long forgotten, it's a song that perhaps only diehard fans may remember (and like).

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  "The Fox" contained one of John's personal favorites, "Elton's Song." The tune describes a teenage boy's crush on another boy. The theme proved to be a bit controversial causing headlines in the UK. Videos were shot for all songs on "The Fox" and was one of the first video albums released. The video for this song was filmed in a school and done like a mini-movie following the song's lyrics. John was not seen in the video. The controversy over the lyrics was enough that in the UK the song was left off of the video album when initially released, due to objections from the school where it was filmed.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Summer '81 Medley" by The Cantina Band

Song#:  0677
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  81
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop

Summer '81 Medley by Cantina Band, The on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  When an odd piece of music hits the charts in a big way, like the #1 Stars on 45 medley, imitators usually show up. Meco, of the #1 discofied "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" fame, decided to do his own version of Stars on 45 using songs from The Beach Boys. He gathered a few vocalists, created the fake Cantina Band, and produced this medley. This sound-alike version didn't gather many fans especially since The Beach Boys decided to commission their own medley of the real deal. Both singles debuted on the chart the same week, but the stitched edit of real Beach Boys songs far overshadowed Meco's creation reaching #12 and kicking off a mini-revival of the group. This would be the only singled credited to The Cantina Band.

ReduxReview:  For ripping off an idea, this is not too awful. The vocalists do a nice job imitating The Beach Boys and the songs picked fit the beat with only minor alterations. Had The Beach Boys not done their own medley, this one may have had a chance to take off. The Stars on 45 medley is far superior in comparison, but this one was not as bad as I expected.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  One of the sound-alike voices heard on this single was provided by Lou Christie. A pop star throughout the 60s, Christie had three Top 10 hits including the #1 "Lightnin' Strikes" in 1965. Famous for a three-octave range, he provided the falsetto voice for this single.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Fire and Ice" by Pat Benatar

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0676
Date:  07/18/1981
Debut:  64
Peak:  17
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Benatar's highly successful second album "Crimes of Passion" (#2) would be her biggest selling LP, but her third one, "Precious Time," would end up being her only #1 LP. It got off to a good start with this first single which jumped into the Top 20 and hit #2 on the Modern Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  Benatar stayed with her rock side instead of going in a more commercial direction after nabbing a Top 10 with "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" (#9). She could have easily copied the success of that song to be more pop radio friendly, but she came out of the box with this tune that retained her rock sound, which probably accounts for the chart position (her earlier rock hits did about the same business or less). However, I think it should have done better as it's a solid, memorable tune and she really rocks the vocals.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Benatar would win her second Grammy with this song. She won for Best Rock Female Vocalist.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Who's Crying Now" by Journey

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0675
Date:  07/18/1981
Debut:  70
Peak:  4
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  Although Journey was popular and successful with four platinum albums, their singles couldn't do much business on the chart. Their best up to this point was the #16 "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" in 1979. This first single from their album "Escape" broke them into the Top 10 for the first time and it helped catapult their album to #1 (their first and only). The LP has gone on to be their biggest selling studio album with over 9 million being sold to date.

ReduxReview:  After a long line of rockin' singles, Journey amps up the melodic pop for this dark song. It worked perfectly. Bolstered by a great vocal by Steve Perry and a memorable guitar solo from Neal Schon, this was where the group found their sweet spot and it is one of their very best tunes. At the time I really liked the song but wasn't big on Journey yet. Their next single would plant me firmly in their fan camp.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  After the rock group The Babys disbanded, member Jonathan Cain moved over and joined Journey after their keyboardist Gregg Rolie left the band. Cain joined just in time to experience the group's most successful period. His songwriting skills also helped the band greatly as all songs on the "Escape" album were co-written by Cain. This particular song was written by Cain and Steve Perry.


Monday, January 6, 2014

"Medley II" by Stars on 45

Song#:  0674
Date:  07/18/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  67
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Dance

Medley II by Stars On 45 on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  With the #1 success of Stars on 45's first "Medley," there had to be a follow-up. The focus solely this time was on The Beatles (whereas the first single started with "Venus" and "Sugar Sugar," then Beatles songs). This section was basically the last third of the full 15+ minute medley that took up the A-side of the Stars on 45 LP. Everything else remained the same - the beat, backtrack, and the Stars on 45 intro/outro. It didn't catch on like the first single, perhaps because it was too similar to the first one, and couldn't even get close to the original's peak position.

ReduxReview:  The flavor of the month wore off quickly with this project. For something like this, the first single was about as close as you could get to perfect. Anything further is just a retread of the formula with other snippets and it becomes monotonous. It is well-done and I can appreciate the work and planning it took to pull this off, but the first single was plenty for me.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The album, called "Stars on Long Play," doesn't feature either Medley separately, or even full in the case of the first "Medley." The A-side was the complete 15+ minute Beatles medley. Portions were extracted for each single. The B-side had three songs. The first featured a medley of hits from the 60s and 70s, two of which were extracted and put at the front of the "Medley" single ("Venus" and "Sugar Sugar"). The last two tracks were recorded in 1977 and 1978 and were hits in the Netherlands. Performed by Long Tall Ernie & the Shakers, the concept was similar - an original introduction followed by cover snippets - but there was no backbeat to these and featured 50s rock hits. So if you wanted the original single mixes back then, you had to buy the 45's (for those who remember what those are...).


Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Love Light" by Yutaka

Song#:  0673
Date:  07/18/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  81
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Smooth Jazz

Pop Bits:  Keyboardist/koto player Yutaka Yokokura (born in Japan) discovered jazz fusion and Brazilian music at an early age and had his own band that performed in a style similar to Sergio Mendes. After moving to the States for college, he had an opportunity to work with the popular fusion/smooth jazz group Hiroshima. After a few years, he then struck out on his own for a solo album that was produced by the great Dave Grusin. "Love Light" was initially only released in Japan in 1978. Three years later, this song got some attention and found its way to the pop chart (his only one to do so). This prompted a US release of the album. Afterwards, Yutaka spent the next decade mainly as a studio musician. He finally issued a follow-up album in 1988.

ReduxReview:  I'm not surprised this got some airplay. With A Taste of Honey's "Sukiyaki" being a hit and smooth jazz songs finding their way into the Top 20, it created an opportunity for this song, which plays like a combo of the two. The lyrics are cheezy, but the tune is nice and goes down easy. It may have been a bit too jazzy-smooth to make a bigger dent at pop, but it probably could have done a bit better with some promotion.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song features vocals by R&B/jazz artist Patti Austin, who would have a major hit of her own in another year.