Saturday, January 18, 2014

"The Beach Boys Medley" by The Beach Boys

Song#:  0686
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  76
Peak:  12
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Riding the wave of the #1 Stars on 45 "Medley" and getting wind of Meco doing something similar with their songs ("Summer '81" by The Cantina Band, #81), Capital Records had Joe Palladino edit and stitch together snippets of actual Beach Boys songs from the 60s into a medley similar to Stars on 45 (minus the backing track beat). This resulting single hit the chart the same week as The Cantina Band's imitation medley of Beach Boys hits. The real deal was preferred and it took off leaving the Cantina Band in the dust. Although technically there was nothing new here from the Beach Boys (the group was in another period of not getting along), the wave of nostalgia the single brought pushed it near the Top 10. It would be only their fourth Top 20 single since "Good Vibrations" hit #1 in 1966 and their first in five years. The tune sparked renewed interest in the group and helped to introduce them to a younger generation.

ReduxReview:  Back then, I had very little love for The Beach Boys. I just wasn't into their doo-wop surf music and the only song I liked was "Good Vibrations." So having a medley of these songs certainly didn't pique my interest at all and I ignored this single like the plague. This was all before I discovered Pet Sounds, which has become one of my favorite albums of all-time. Although I love the crazy, inventive Brian Wilson era, I'm still not that keen on the early surfin' Boys songs (I do appreciate them much more now). This single was well-crafted, but I'd rather listen to the real hits than this. To me, it still plays more like an extended advertisement than a real single.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  John Palladino was not necessarily famous to record buyers, but in the industry he was a legendary figure. He began a tenure with Capital Records in 1949 and went on to mix and engineer many classic recordings by artist like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Peggy Lee, and then later in the rock era with The Band and Steve Miller. He retired from the business in 1982 but not before doing another similar medley treatment that year with Beatles songs for "The Beatles Movie Medley," which oddly also peaked at #12.


Friday, January 17, 2014

"You Could Take My Heart Away" by Silver Condor

Song#:  0685
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  78
Peak:  32
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Formed in California and featuring lead vocal by Joe Cerisano, this group signed with Columbia Records and issued their self-titled debut album. This single made it into the Top 40 and it generated enough attention for Columbia to call for a second album. However, the only member from the original group to come back for the follow-up was Cerisano. That LP, "Trouble at Home," failed to create interest and the group disbanded.

ReduxReview:  The opening kind of sounds like the opening to an 80s TV show - you know, one that got cancelled after a season. And like that potential show, the song is a bit bland and forgettable. It also reminds me of an annoying Randy Newman tune from a Pixar movie. It seems to remind me of things I'm not a fan of, therefore it makes sense that I'm not a real fan of this ditty.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The group was initially formed by Cerisano and Earl Slick, who played guitar for David Bowie on his mid-70s tours and albums. Slick would rejoin Bowie for his 1983 Serious Moonlight tour and then go on to form the rockabilly group Phantom, Rocker & Slick who issued a successful self-titled debut in 1985 and a follow-up in 1986.  2) Cerisano provided lead vocals for the single "Hand Across America" (#62, 1986). The single was played during the Hands Across America benefit event that took place on May 25, 1986.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Square Biz" by Teena Marie

Song#:  0684
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  50
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  Marie's previous album resulted in her first Top 40 pop hit, "I Need Your Lovin'" (#37). Her next album, "It Must Be Magic," generated this second pop chart entry and it became her biggest hit at R&B when it reached #3. This helped the album reach gold status, which would be her third to do so.

ReduxReview:  Marie can sent a great groove and she does a good job here. I could do without the rap, but other than that it is another quality track from Marie. Not as hot as "I Need Your Lovin'," but it's a worthy addition to any funk collection.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  It was at this time that Marie got in a major dispute with her label Motown. She wanted to renegotiate her contract (which she initially signed as a teenager) and the label refused, basically holding her and her music hostage. She sued and was on track to win her case when Motown settled. She left the label and continued her career. However, in the wake of the settlement congress passed The Brockert Initiative (named after Marie's give last name) which makes it against the law for a label to keep an artist under contract and not release any of their new material. It's a law that can help an artist get out of their contract with a label. The law has been very influential and has helped many other artists.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"For Your Eyes Only" by Sheena Easton

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0683
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  4
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  This theme to the James Bond film with the same title was really intended for either Dusty Springfield or Donna Summer, but plucky new artist Easton was pitched to co-writer Bill Conti, who was not initially impressed with the Scottish singer. But after meeting her, he decided to get her in the studio and the result was this Oscar-nominated song. It would be Easton's second Top 10 hit and it provided a boost to her new career. The song also gave her the distinction of being the only singer of a Bond theme song to be seen singing the song in the film. Her sexy montage over the opening credits became a memorable Bond film moment. Easton received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocalist for her performance of the song.

ReduxReview:  The songwriters were lucky to get an easy Bond title that could be a song title as well. And they didn't disappoint. I've always thought this was a terrific 80s ballad and Easton does a bang-up job with it. Whether it is one of the great Bond themes or not, at least it is one that folks usually remember and the fourth best-charting theme of the series thus far.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After discovering the title to the upcoming Bond film, Blondie's Deborah Harry and Chris Stein wrote a song called "For Your Eyes Only" in hopes that it would be chosen for the film. Also in the running was the Bill Conti/Mick Leeson song and the producers preferred their contemporary ballad to Blondie's more rock-oriented tune. Although their song was not chosen, Blondie was offered to perform the selected song for the film but they turned it down. Blondie's song was eventually released on their 1982 album "The Hunter."


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"General Hospi-tale" by The Afternoon Delights

Song#:  0682
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  33
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Novelty, Parody

General Hospi-tale by Afternoon Delights on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  One of the hottest shows on TV at this time didn't air in prime time - it was a soap opera. "General Hospital," which had been on ABC since 1963, was at an all-time high with viewers young and old tuning in every weekday. The "super couple" Luke and Laura were one of the main attractions and the episode featuring their wedding remains the highest rated daytime program in history with 30 million viewers. Of course with popularity comes the inevitable - those who want to cash in on the trend. So out of a Boston studio a group was formed and a song parody was written about the daytime serial. The Afternoon Delights, named after hit song by the Starland Vocal Band, were credited on this comedic single and it reached the Top 30. The group ended up issuing an album, but it failed to take off and that ended the group.

ReduxReview:  I'm both happy and ashamed to admit that I was a big GH fan long before this time period and used to fill in other newbies to the show on the characters' back stories. And I was glad that Dr. Noah Drake (Rick Springfield) was having musical success outside of the show ("Jessie's Girl" was primed to hit #1 the week after this song debuted). But being a big fan doesn't mean you like everything that comes along and this single about wrecked it all for me. I hated it. I didn't even find it remotely funny. However, as years past I've looked back on this song more nostalgically and it kind of brings back memories from the show. So I guess I no longer hate much...(well, maybe a little...)

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Four vocalists made up the group: Rebecca Hall (who did the lead vocals here), Suzanne Boucher, Janet Powell, and Robalee Barnes. The song was co-written and produced by Harry King who has written, produced, and been a session player for many artists including playing on Robin Thicke's debut disc "A Beautiful World." He's also written over 2000 commercial spots for TV and Radio.


Monday, January 13, 2014

"Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)" by Don Felder

Song#:  0681
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  43
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Heavy Metal (Takin' A Ride) by Don Felder on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Felder was a member of the Eagles beginning in 1974 and remained with them through to their breakup in 1980. After the split, Felder focused on session work and music for films. One such movie he contributed works to was the 1981 animated film "Heavy Metal." The movie was based on stories featured in the magazine of the same name and its soundtrack featured songs by well-known artists. The album peaked at #12 on the charts and this single almost got into the Top 40. It would be Felder's only single to reach the chart. He would go on to release two albums in his post-Eagles career and also rejoin the group in 1994. He remained with them until he was fired from the group in 2001, which resulted in a nasty lawsuit with Eagles' Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Both sides eventually settled out of court.

ReduxReview:  Although a little rockier than an Eagles tune, you can hear the influence here - especially since bandmates Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit provided the backing vocals. I certainly wouldn't call this tune heavy metal in any way (yes, I know the song is not about the music genre), but it's a nice rock groove and it served as a good opening theme for the flick. Had the film been a bigger success, it might have pushed this song a bit further up the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) With graphic violence and even nudity, "Heavy Metal" was not an animated film for kids and critics were not really loving it. When first released, the film did okay box office, but over time it eventually became a midnight movie staple and joined the list of favorite cult movies. In addition to the regular soundtrack of songs from the film, a separate album of the score composed by Elmer Bernstein was issued. The dual release was unusual for the time but has since become more common for big blockbuster films.  2) Felder only sang lead vocals on one Eagles recording. "Visions" from the LP "One of These Nights" was co-written and sung by him.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

"You're Mine Tonight" by Pure Prairie League

Song#:  0680
Date:  07/25/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  68
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Their second album for the Casablanca label, "Something in the Night," was not doing great since the first single "Still Right Here in My Heart" petered out at #28. This second single didn't help as it barely dug itself out of the basement of the chart. It would be the group's final chart single as shakeups at Casablanca would leave them dropped from the label. After lead singer Vince Gill left for a solo career, the group called it quits. They would reform in later years for a couple of albums, but their heyday basically ended with this single.

ReduxReview:  A minor shuffle, this song doesn't sound like one that would burn up the radio. It's a good song and kind of falls in line with some of the soft rock tunes that were popular at the time. However, it just wasn't strong enough in comparison to really grab rungs on the chart ladder.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although Gill started to have solo country hits with the release of his 1984 debut album, it would take ten years for him to reach the pop chart. "Tryin' to Get Over You" reached #88 in 1994 and was his fourth solo #1 on the country chart. His best effort on the pop chart was the #37 "House of Love" which was a duet with his future wife Amy Grant.