Saturday, March 1, 2014

"Private Eyes" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0729
Date:  08/29/1981
Debut:  68
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, New Wave

Pop Bits:  After a slow build, H&O's 1980 album "Voices" became their first platinum success thanks to four Top 30 singles including the #1 "Kiss on My List." The duo recorded their next LP and had it ready while "Voices" was still riding high on the chart. This first title-track single from the new album quickly followed-up the #5 "You Make My Dreams" and it ran up to the top spot becoming their third #1 song. It also got them a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  Following in a similar vein as "Kiss on My List," they add a little more rock to the sound and out comes this terrific single. It's kind of famous for the hand claps in the chorus and its cheesy detective video, which was an early MTV hit. I ran out and got the single, but that wasn't enough. I really wanted the album. I remember I was working at Sears at the time back when they still had a stereo and record department and I kept staring at the album when it came out. I had to wait until the end of the week to get my paycheck and get the album. It was worth the wait.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The "Private Eyes" album would become their second platinum success and their first to reach the Top 10 peaking at #5.


Friday, February 28, 2014

"Hard to Say" by Dan Fogelberg

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0728
Date:  08/29/1981
Debut:  72
Peak:  7
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Fogelberg's first single from his "The Innocent Age" album, "Same Old Lang Syne" (#9), was oddly issued eight months prior to the release of the LP. After an extended wait, the album finally hit the streets and it coincided with this second single. It became his third Top 10 hit and also reached #2 on the AC chart.

ReduxReview:  I dunno sometimes. Based on what I typically liked back in the day, I hear this single now and wonder why I liked it so much. The tune's folk-rock sound wasn't something I normally gravitated toward, but something about it got my attention. I would actually say it is the song that really turned me into a Fogelberg fan. And I still love it. It's just a damn good song.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The backing vocals on this song were supplied by Glenn Frey of the Eagles.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Alien" by Atlanta Rhythm Section

Song#:  0727
Date:  08/29/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  29
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Soft Rock, Southern Rock

Alien by Atlanta Rhythm Section on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  This band had their beginnings in the small town of Doraville, Georgia (located outside of Atlanta). A new studio was built there and the musicians that made up the house band for many recordings would end up forming ARS. Without even playing any live shows, the group got signed and issued their self-titled debut in 1972. It didn't generate much attention, nor did their second LP, but the band finally started to work on live gigs. Bolstered by a few minor chart singles, their next four albums did a bit better, but it was their 1976 album "A Rock and Roll Alternative" that finally broke them through. It featured their #7 hit "So Into You." Their next LP did even better hitting #7 and going platinum thanks to the #7 single "Imaginary Lover." It would be their peak as subsequent outings saw diminishing returns. Their 1981 album "Quinella" (considered one of their best) finished off the group's main era and it featured this single which was their last to reach the chart.

ReduxReview:  This is almost an odd mixture of the Eagles with a dash of CSN and a smidge of Alan Parsons Project. They were always on the lighter side of Southern Rock and I like that much better than the harder-edged bands of the genre. I like this song with its nice harmonies, but it is not nearly as memorable as their two Top 10 hits.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The main crux of the group was made up of members from two other bands - The Candymen and the Classics IV. In 1968 and 1969, the Classics IV had three Top 10 hits with "Spooky" (#3), "Stormy" (#5), and "Traces" (#2).


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Love All the Hurt Away" by Aretha Franklin & George Benson

Song#:  0726
Date:  08/29/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  46
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Franklin's first album for Arista, 1980's "Aretha," got her a #3 R&B hit with "United Together" (#56 pop), but it was still a far cry from her Atlantic streak of hits. Her second LP for the label, "Love All the Hurt Away," did slightly better on the album charts, but it sold less and was considered a disappointment. This title track duet was the first single issued and it got close to the Top 40 (#6 R&B), but it would be the only single from the album to make the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  As much as I love Aretha, her material around this time was not great, which includes this tune. I think the scope of this song is too small for her and Benson. They try to bring the song up to their level, but really don't succeed. There is even a small scat section near the end that almost sounds like a mistake. I just think they both deserved better than what this song could provide.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The album featured Franklin remaking the 1966 Sam & Dave hit "Hold On! I'm Comin'" (#1 R&B, #21 pop). Although not released as a single, the song got Franklin her ninth Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance.  2) The album also contained Franklin's version of "It's My Turn," originally a hit for Diana Ross in 1980 (#9 pop, #14 R&B). It was issued as a single and reached #29 at R&B, but failed to make the pop chart.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Our Lips Are Sealed" by The Go-Go's

Song#:  0725
Date:  08/29/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  20
Weeks:  30
Genre:  Rock, New Wave

Pop Bits:  In the early rock era, all-female rock bands (not girl groups) were few and far between and it was a struggle for any of them to get some credibility. But there were some that made in-roads like Goldie and the Gingerbreads (the first signed to a major label in 1964), The Pleasure Seekers (featuring Suzi Quatro), and Fanny (the first to release an album on a major label in 1970). As influential as they and others like The Runaways were, all-female bands were just not having major success. And then in come The Go-Go's. Originally formed as a punk band on the L.A. club scene, they began mixing in more pop elements and their demo got the attention of I.R.S. Records. They got signed and their debut album "Beauty and the Beat" was released. This single was the first issued from the album and the song plus its video (an early MTV favorite) started to get major attention. Soon the LP would become a smash hit and also become the first album by an all-female band (playing their own instruments and writing their own songs) to reach #1 on the chart.

ReduxReview:  Oh I went ga-ga for The Go-Go's! I just loved the album from this opening track to the end. Their solid pop/new wave tunes were feisty and smart and I knew every lyric on the album. I think it still holds up today and is a classic, influential album of the era. I didn't fall hard for many artists, but I did for them and even created a big scrapbook of pictures, articles, etc. I think I still have it stored away somewhere.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Their success translated into a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1982.  2) This song was co-written by group member Jane Wiedlin and Terry Hall from The Specials when The Go-Go's were opening for that band. It was first recorded by The Go-Go's and in addition to its #20 US peak, it reached #47 in the UK. The following year, Hall left The Specials and started Fun Boy Three. They recorded a version of the song that hit #7 in the UK. However, it didn't reach the US chart.


Monday, February 24, 2014

"Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0724
Date:  08/22/1981
Debut:  61
Peak:  2
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Q: If you don't already know, how do you know when you are crazy talented? A: When you toss together an album of outtakes and it becomes a classic. That is basically what the Stones did with "Tattoo You." Hard pressed for time to get an album out before a tour and with the kids (Mick and Keith) not getting along too well, it was suggested that there was already a wealth of material that they recorded and shelved from various albums that could be used. They culled nine outtakes or backing tracks and worked them up along with two new songs and voila - new album! "Tattoo You" would be a critical and a commercial success and this first single got things going by spending three weeks at #2.

ReduxReview:  This is it. This is the song that got me hooked on the Stones. Obviously I knew a lot of their hits, but they didn't interest me all that much. And then this song came out. I think the guitar lick at the top followed by the big echoed smack of the drum blew me to the back of the room. In a matter of a few seconds I was like, "now I get it!" It left me slightly dazed and hungry for more. In the history of rock they certainly have classics that may outshine this, but for me, this is my top Stones groove. Like they say, you never forget your first...


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) "Tattoo You" spent nine weeks at #1 on the album chart. It would be their eighth consecutive studio album to reach the top spot. It would also be their last to do so and it basically signaled the end of their chart heyday. "Start Me Up" would also be their last single to reach the Top 3.  2) This song was originally recorded in 1975 and done in a reggae-rock style. It didn't seem to gel, so the track got shelved. It was revisited twice more in 1978 (as "Never Stop") and 1979 (as "Start It Up") minus the reggae feel, but the track still couldn't make the cut. They finally got it worked out for "Tattoo You" and it is considered by many to be the last classic single issued by the group.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

"The Night Owls" by Little River Band

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0723
Date:  08/22/1981
Debut:  68
Peak:  6
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  After two consecutive platinum albums, LRB released the LP "Time Exposure" and this first single got them their fifth Top 10 hit. Surprisingly, in their homeland of Australia, the single only reached #18 and would be the only single from the album to hit the chart. It would do better in the US with two further hit singles yet to come.

ReduxReview:  I'd say that this is my favorite LRB song. The slightly mysterious, minor tone with the nice harmony vocals and solid chorus equals one of their best moments. I usually just prefer their hits but the "Time Exposure" has a real oddball song called "Orbit Zero," which is about a spaceship of people (or aliens?) trying to find a planet to inhabit and are not having luck. I'm not sure what prompted them to do this song (as it is not their typical soft rock), but it's something interesting to check out.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The group's bass player left the band prior to recording this album and they were in need of a replacement. American Wayne Nelson was on tour in Jim Messina's band (they were opening up for LRB at the time) and he got offered the position. He became a member and in addition to playing bass, he supplied vocals and on this single he handled the lead vocals. He left the band 1996, but rejoined in 2000 as both the bass player and lead vocalist.