Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Just Like Paradise" by Larry John McNally

Song#:  0700
Date:  08/08/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  86
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Singer/Songwriter

Just Like Paradise by Larry John McNally on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Originally from Bangor, Maine, McNally cut his teeth on the singer/songwriter circuit around Portland and other New England locals. He got signed to Columbia and issued a self-title debut album that featured this single. The song spent a minor couple weeks on the chart, but McNally's songs were getting attention and several would wind up on albums by artists like the Eagles, Don Henley, and Bonnie Raitt. It would take another five years before he issued a follow-up LP, but by then any momentum gained by this slight showing was gone and it disappeared quickly. This would be his only chart entry.

ReduxReview:  I don't think this is really a great single, but there is something about its shuffle and lyrics that are really quite good. My first listen was kind of like, meh, but a couple more listens later it really pulled me in. Although a bit weak to compete as a single, it's a quality tune and worthy of a listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  McNally's most notable hit as a writer was when Rod Stewart covered "The Motown Song." Stewart reached #10 with his version in 1991 which also featured The Temptations. McNally had originally recorded the song for his second LP, 1986's "Fade to Black."


Friday, January 31, 2014

"Dedicated to the One I Love" by Bernadette Peters

Song#:  0699
Date:  08/08/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  65
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop

Dedicated To The One I Love by Bernadette Peters on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Peters' self-titled debut album got a boost thanks to the surprise minor hit "Gee Whiz" (#31, 1980). A follow-up album, "Now Playing," was issued the following year and this first single saw a little chart action, but nothing close to her first hit. It would be her song last to reach the chart and her last solo album until 1996 when she released the Grammy nominated "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight." She would release two further albums, a live set and a Rodgers & Hammerstein-themed disc, both of which would also receive Grammy nods.

ReduxReview:  Peters keeps her version planted firmly in the doo-wop roots of the original (see below) and she kind of comes off like a Bette Midler-lite. Midler was made for material like this but I don't think it was Peters' forte. She can sell standards and b'way like nobody's business, but this genre is not a great fit. And frankly, I don't think anyone can surpass the brilliance of the Mamas & Papas version.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the "5" Royales in 1957. Their single didn't chart but a version by The Shirelles initially hit the chart in 1959 reaching #83. But after The Shirelles hit #1 with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," the single was reissued and it reached #3 in 1961. The "5" Royales version was reissued the same year reaching #81. But the biggest chart version was the 1967 #2 hit by the Mamas & the Papas. The Temprees scratched the chart in 1972 with their single (#93), so that made Peters the fifth artist to chart the song.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Shake It Up Tonight" by Cheryl Lynn

Song#:  0698
Date:  08/08/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  70
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  Although Lynn began singing professionally as part of the national touring cast of "The Wiz," it was her appearance on a TV show that launched her recording career. Prior to "The Wiz" tour, Lynn was a contestant on "The Gong Show," the zany 70s talent program. Her performance got a perfect score, but another act got one as well. Based on audience vote, she lost to a juggler. Later on after the show actually aired, her performance generated interest from record labels and she signed with Columbia Records. Her first single was the platinum hit "Got to Be Real" (#12 pop, #1 R&B) and her self-titled debut went gold. It would be her biggest pop hit and one of only three of her singles to reach the chart (although she had several entries at R&B). This single from her third album only got on the chart for a few weeks, but it reached #5 on both the R&B and Dance charts.

ReduxReview:  When you come out of the gate with a classic like "Got to Be Real," it is going to be hard to follow-up. Lynn's immediate follow-ups were not great, but this late-disco jam heated things up for her. For me, this is just kind of a bland dance tune. It is well-done and she sounds really good, but compared to her debut single it just falls way short.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Lynn co-wrote "Got to Be Real" with David Foster and David Paitch (of Toto). Paitch was also co-producer of the album. At the time Toto was recording their debut album and they used Lynn as a vocalist on the track "Georgy Porgy." The song would be released as the third single from the album and it reached #48 on the chart.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Hold Tight" by Change

Song#:  0697
Date:  08/08/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  89
Weeks:  2
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  Although still luring folks to the dance floor, Change's second album couldn't get off the ground at pop with the lead single "Paradise" not able to get passed #80. This second single from the "Miracles" album fared even worse and spent two weeks in the #89 spot, which left the album short of the gold status that their debut reached. However, "Paradise," "Hold Tight," and another track from the album "Heaven of My Life" were combined in a mix single that reached #1 on the dance chart.

ReduxReview:  As with their previous song, this is just a nice, well-crafted dance groove that keeps you occupied but leaves your ears soon after it is done. I just find nothing on their songs that make them outstanding in any way. It's just good, danceable background music.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Credited as Jocelyn Shaw on the album, this vocalist is better known as R&B star Jocelyn Brown. She would have several R&B and dance chart hits in the mid-80s including her #2 R&B hit "Somebody Else's Guy" in 1984.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" by Nielsen/Pearson

Song#:  0696
Date:  08/08/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  56
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop

The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore by Nielsen/Pearson on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  This West Coast pop duo had a minor entry from their second album the previous year with "If You Should Sail," which hit #38. Before forging on with a new follow-up album, the duo recorded and released this one-off single that nearly cracked the top half of the chart. The song was not included on their next LP, "Blind Luck" (1983), which itself had no singles reach the chart. The duo called it quits after its release. That leaves this single as their final pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  I've loved this song so much ever since it was an integral part to the 1990 film "Truly, Madly, Deeply." That version by The Walker Brothers (see below) was just so classic and brilliant. Years later I'd end up totally obsessed with the Walker's and member Scott Walker. This song started it all. It's just a great tune. Unfortunately, I'm not in love with this version. It' I'm not sure why they slowed down the tempo. I mean, the original versions are not danceable themselves, but they kind of move along at a good mid-tempo pace. It just sounds lazy. They get a nice retro sound going for it, but it's totally killed by the tempo.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was originally recorded and released by Frankie Valli in 1965. Valli's single did not chart, but the song ended up being a hit the following year by The Walker Brothers who took it to #13 (#1 UK). Several other artists have recorded the song including Cher (#26 UK, 1995), Neil Diamond, Air Supply, and in 2004 by the British band Keane.


Monday, January 27, 2014

"I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)" by Lulu

Song#:  0695
Date:  08/01/1981
Debut:  71
Peak:  18
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Scottish singer Lulu had been a major star in the UK and around Europe since her debut single, a remake of The Isley Brothers' "Shout!," hit #7 (#94 in the US) in 1964. It would be the first of ten Top 10 UK hits and would lead to many TV appearances and acting gigs on shows and some films. Her big US break came when she appeared in the 1967 film "To Sir, With Love" with Sidney Poitier. She sang the title song which reached #1 in the US. A couple of minor chart entries followed but it was not until this single that she returned to the Top 20 (and #2 at AC). Younger folks in the US may not really remember her for the music, but for her guest appearances on the British TV sitcom "Absolutely Fabulous" where she played herself as a client of Edina's PR firm.

ReduxReview:  I kind of missed this one back in the day. I remember liking it but not sure why I didn't latch on to it at the time. It's really a nice slice of pop/AC with a good late-70s arrangement that actually doesn't sound too dated even now. I like it quite a bit. Lulu was never really big in the US and I think that has to do with her material. I think she picked songs for her UK audience and many times those don't translate well to the US. Plus she never had a specific "sound" to identify her music as she did everything from bubblegum pop to soul to euro pop to disco to schlager to rock, etc. It's kind of too bad as she is a really good vocalist.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song originally appeared on her 1978 LP "Don't Take Love for Granted," which was issued on Elton John's Rocket Records. It was not issued as a single. Later in 1980 the song got attention when covered by a couple of US artists and Lulu was getting some attention due to TV shows shown in the US. Due to this, Lulu's version was issued as a single and its success spurred a new album ("Lulu") that contained this and a couple of other songs from the previous album. It ended up being one of only three Lulu albums to reach the US chart.  2) Lulu has had a couple of high-profile marriages including to Maurice Gibb (of the BeeGees) and hairdresser John Frieda.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

"A Woman in Love (It's Not Me)" by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Song#:  0694
Date:  08/01/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  79
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Petty's second single from the "Hard Promises" album had a very weak showing on the pop chart, but hit #5 on the Mainstream Rock chart. By this time, the album was already a success reaching #5 and it would soon go platinum.

ReduxReview:  The album itself is another great one in Petty's catalog, but it doesn't necessarily have a good batch of go-to singles. "The Waiting" was the best shot and it only got to #19, so that leaves a lesser quality single like this one floundering on the chart despite it being a solid song. Rock radio grabbed it up for a bit but it is not one of the most memorable singles from the group.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  When artists are recording their albums, they may have a working title for the LP as a reference until a final title is chosen. The working title for this album was "Benmont's Revenge," named after the group's keyboardist Benmont Tench.