Saturday, February 22, 2014

"I've Done Everything for You" by Rick Springfield

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0722
Date:  08/22/1981
Debut:  79
Peak:  8
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After nine years in the music biz, Springsteen finally broke through with his #1 "Jessie's Girl." That song was still in the Top 10 when this second single from his "Working Class Dog" album entered the chart. The momentum of "Jessie's Girl" spilled over into this tune and it got him his second Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  Although not as good as "Jessie's Girl," this was a solid rocker and a great follow-up. I think it helped his credibility a bit as a music artist having this one-two punch as his previous Tiger Beat image and stint on General Hospital called into question whether he was the real deal or not. He still had a lot to prove, but this certainly was a great start.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of a tune by rocker Sammy Hagar. Hagar wrote the song in the late 70s and it became part of his live set. The first recorded instance of the song was its inclusion on Hagar's live album "All Night Long" in 1978. It was issued as a single but failed to chart. He did a studio version of the song a year later and it was used as a B-side for another single. Due to the success of Springfield's version, Hagar included his studio take on a 1982 hits package.


Friday, February 21, 2014

"The Theme from Hill Street Blues" by Mike Post

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0721
Date:  08/22/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  10
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack, Instrumental

Pop Bits:  Starting in the 70s, Post developed a prolific career composing themes and incidental music for numerous TV shows. His breakthrough in this area was when his theme to "The Rockford Files" became a surprise hit and reached #10 in 1975. Numerous other themes followed including the #2 hit "Believe It or Not" by Joey Scarbury (the theme to "The Greatest American Hero), which was co-written and produced by Post. His work continued in the 80s and the Emmy-winning TV drama "Hill Street Blues" featured this theme song which got Post his second Top 10 hit. The song also won two Grammy's for Post. One for Best Instrumental Composition and one for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't a fan of "Hill Street Blues." Today, I'd probably love it. But I think at the time it was too much of an adult drama when really I just wanted to watch "Laverne & Shirley and "M*A*S*H." So this theme song didn't strike me. Actually, I pretty much hated it. But as I get older I hear things different and it doesn't sound too bad today. I still don't think it is a great song, but it's tolerable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song features a solo by Grammy-winning jazz guitarist Larry Carlton.  2) Post's first major success was with Mason Williams' #2 hit "Classical Gas" in 1968. Produced and arranged by Post, the song won him a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

"She's a Bad Mama Jama (She's Built, She's Stacked) by Carl Carlton

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0720
Date:  08/22/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  22
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  Originally billed as Little Carl Carlton, this Detroiter had a few singles reach the R&B chart in the late 60s. He finally got a big break when in 1974 his remake of "Everlasting Love" hit #6 pop and #11 R&B. Unfortunately, he encountered issues with his label and it kind of killed his momentum. A label switch didn't help and soon he was without a contract. He finally found a home at 20th Century and this first single for them became a smash hit reaching #2 R&B and getting Carlton a Grammy nod for Best R&B Vocals. But once again he couldn't follow it up and it ended up being his last pop chart entry. He would go on to put a few minor singles on the R&B chart, but by 1986 those all dried up. Still in Detroit, he has moved on to Gospel music.

ReduxReview:  I think it was just the lack of pop radio airplay at the time that kept this from going Top 10, especially since it went gold. It's a terrific tune and seems to be one that everybody remembers. I'm not sure why I didn't buy it back in the day as certainly liked it. But thanks to several 80s compilations, the song makes several appearances in my collection.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  It was Leon Haywood who helped Carlton secure his contract with 20th Century (the label Haywood was on at the time) and he also wrote this song. Haywood had been on the pop chart the previous year with "Don't Push It Don't Force It" (#49 pop, #2 R&B).


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Not Fade Away" by Eric Hine

Song#:  0719
Date:  08/22/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  73
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Synthpop

Not Fade Away*** by Eric Hine on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Not too much is known about Hine except that he was the keyboardist in the UK group Simon Dupree and the Big Sound. That group disbanded in 1969 and it seems that Hine picked up a career behind the boards as an engineer and occasional producer. But in 1981, he must have gotten the itch to pursue some solo work and recorded this song plus a couple others he wrote. The single was issued as a 45 and in a 12" mix version. It got some attention for a few weeks but in the end no full LP was ever released.

ReduxReview:  Oh man, I just don't know. Is this a massacre of a classic (see below) or an interesting take on one? Is it expertly done or is someone fiddling with their new synth they got for Christmas? It's both repelling and interesting. It's kind of like the smell of Thomas Dolby farting out a Buddy Holly cover done by Talking Heads and you are ashamed to admit that you're not terribly bothered by the odor - but you definitely know it is there.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Simon Dupree and the Big Sound, formed by three Shulman brothers (there was no Simon Dupree), were originally an R&B-style band who release a few singles that went nowhere. Their label pushed them in a psychedelic direction and in 1967 they reached the UK Top 10 with "Kites." Unfortunately, they couldn't follow it up, so the group called it quits in 1969. The Shulman brothers then formed the prog-rock band Gentle Giant and for a decade they released 11 albums, some of which hit the UK and US charts. Their best US showing was the #48 peak of 1975's "Free Hand." They were known for their very complex music and experimentation.  2) This is a remake of The Crickets' 1957 song co-written by Buddy Holly. It was the B-side to their #10 "Oh, Boy" and didn't chart. It has been remade by many artists with the best single chart version coming in 1964 with the #48 peak from The Rolling Stones. It was their very first single release in the US.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"I Love My Truck" by Glen Campbell

Song#:  0718
Date:  08/22/1981
Debut:  96
Peak:  94
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Country, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Campbell's last pop chart entry was this tune recorded for the soundtrack to the movie "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" starring Kristy McNichol and Dennis Quaid. The song reached #15 on the country chart. Campbell would go on to have seven more country Top 10's throughout the 80s, but this one closed the pop chart chapter of his terrific career.

ReduxReview:  I just don't like dorky country tunes like this that are semi-funny and hokey and sounds like something Uncle Joe came up with on his porch while rockin' in his chair and strummin' his gee-tar. Bleh. I love prime era Campbell but at this point in his career the material was just not there. Oddly, he ended up issuing two awesome albums in 2008 ("Meet Glen Campbell") and 2011 ("Ghost on the Canvas") where his collabs with current rock artists harked back to his great hit-making days. Check 'em out. 

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Also on the soundtrack were two songs by Tanya Tucker. At the time, Tucker and Campbell were in a relationship that was often volatile, which made great fodder for the tabloids. Tucker recorded the title track, which was a #1 hit for Vicki Lawrence in 1972. However, different lyrics were used and these provided the basis for the film's script, not the Southern gothic murder story told in Lawrence's version.


Monday, February 17, 2014

"Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" by Christopher Cross

#1 Alert
Gold Record Alert!
Oscar Alert!
Song#:  0717
Date:  08/15/1981
Debut:  71
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After his self-titled debut album swept the Grammys, Cross co-penned this chart topper that was featured in the hit film "Arthur" starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. It would be Cross' second #1 and it would end up being his biggest hit. In addition to winning the Golden Globe for Best Original Song from a film, it would win the Oscar as well. The tune would grab Grammy nominations for Song and Record of the Year and also for Best Pop Male Vocalist, but it was shut out of all three categories.

ReduxReview:  Who didn't love the movie "Arthur?" I think I saw it at least twice at the theater. It was a wonderful comedy and this song fit it perfectly. The only unfortunate thing is that Mr. Mumbles (Christopher Cross) does his usual slurring of words and there are parts of the song where you have difficulty figuring out the lyrics. If he was fronting a rock band, I probably wouldn't have an issue. But when you are singing a lush pop tune like this, you gotta enunciate. His vocals just always frustrate me. Otherwise, great tune.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Cross co-wrote this song with Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager. However, entertainer/songwriter Peter Allen got credit as well. It seems he and Bayer Sager had been working up a song that contained the line "when you get caught between the moon and New York City." Bayer Sager thought the line would be perfect for "Arthur's Theme" and got Allen's permission to use the phrase. That single line got him a co-writing credit and along with it the associated royalties, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Backfired" by Debbie Harry

Song#:  0716
Date:  08/15/1981
Debut:  75
Peak:  43
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock, Dance

Pop Bits:  Coming off back-to-back #1's, Blondie chose to take some time off. But Debbie Harry continued to work and the result was her first solo album "KooKoo." Produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards (of Chic, who just had success with Diana Ross' "Diana" LP), the album took Harry in a rock/dance direction with six of the ten tracks co-written by Rodgers and Edwards. This first single couldn't reach the Top 40 and the album petered out at #25, even though it did reach gold status. Reviews were not great and the low-charting results were surprising. Harry would have a few more solo singles reach the chart, but this would be the highest peaking of them all.

ReduxReview:  The pairing of Harry with Rodgers/Edwards seemed to be a great idea, however I have no idea what they were going for here. It sounds like they tried to mash together "Rapture" with Diana Ross' "Upside Down" and it just doesn't work. Harry sounds stiff as a board and this Rodgers/Edwards song is surprisingly uninspired. It's a cringe-worthy listen especially when knowing the excellent previous work of all involved.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Swiss artist H.R. Geiger designed the cover for "KooKoo." Geiger is know for his sci-fi/fantasy/horror designs some of which have graced other album covers (ELP's "Brain Salad Surgery" in 1973) and on film (he's an visual effects Oscar winner for 1979's "Alien"). The "KooKoo" cover, which featured a rendering of Harry with large metal skewers going through her face, was considered too disturbing in some places and public ads (such as in the London Underground) were not allowed. The video for this first single was also directed by Geiger as was the video for another song on the album "Now I Know You Know."