Saturday, March 8, 2014

"You Saved My Soul" by Burton Cummings

Song#:  0740
Date:  09/12/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  37
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

You Saved My Soul by Burton Cummings on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  As part of the Canadian group The Guess Who, Cummings sang lead on six Top 10 hits including the #1 "American Woman" in 1970. He remained with the group for a decade before leaving for a solo career. He had a major hit right away with 1976's "Stand Tall" (#10), but his follow-ups failed to reach the Top 40. His fifth solo album, "Sweet Sweet," featured this single and it became his second Top 40 hit. It also served has his last song to reach the chart.

ReduxReview:  This is another one of those tunes that sounds like the theme song to a TV sitcom. If it was, it would work out just fine. As an early 80s single, not so much. It's not a bad song but I don't think it is particularly strong or interesting. Cummings is a great vocalist, but he gets a little weird near the end. I just didn't click with it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Cummings tried his hand at acting and co-starred in the 1982 film "Melanie" with Glynnis O'Connor and Don Johnson. Cummings plays a musician and this song was featured during the closing credits.


Friday, March 7, 2014

"In the Dark" by Billy Squier

Song#:  0739
Date:  09/12/1981
Debut:  85
Peak:  35
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This follow-up to Squier's hit "The Stroke" (#17) didn't do quite as well but did manage to get into the Top 40. At rock radio, it was another hit reaching #7. The success of the singles pushed his album, "Don't Say No" into the Top 10 and it eventually achieved triple-platinum status.

ReduxReview:  While not as good or immediate as "The Stroke," this is still a hot slice o' rock pie from Squier. It was a great one-two punch from him and although neither really lit up the pop chart, they certainly made him a star and became rock radio staples.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Before hitting the solo trail, Squier was a member of a few bands. The last one he was in, Piper, he formed and they issued two albums in 1976 and 1977. Despite good press and an opening slot on a Kiss tour, the albums tanked and the group disbanded. Squier finally secured a solo deal in 1980.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Sausalito Summernight" by Diesel

Song#:  0738
Date:  09/12/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  25
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Dutch group released their first album, "Watts in the Tank," in the Netherlands in 1980. It spawned a few middling chart hits there including this single. It seemed to be enough to take the album to a broader audience and a year later it was issued in the US. This song became their only US pop chart entry making it into the Top 30. However, in Canada it was very popular and hit #1. The group would issue a second album, but it failed to do any business and the group called it quits in 1985.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those singles that didn't do real well when it came out but became a popular tune later for those who love 80s pop. I'm one of them. I didn't really latch onto this song back then, although I did like it. Then later on I found it on an 80s compilation and I got hooked. It's a fun single with a nice guitar lick and interesting vocal parts.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The band was founded by Pim Kooperman, who was also a co-founding member of the Dutch prog-rock band Kayak. Another co-founding member of Kayak, Max Werner, had just finished up a short run on the US pop chart with his solo outing "Rain in May" (#74). Both of them left Kayak in the mid-70s and rejoined in 1999. Werner left a year later, but Kooperman stayed with Kayak until his death in 2009.


"(Want You) Back in My Life Again" by Carpenters

Song#:  0737
Date:  09/12/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  72
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Following up their final pop Top 40 hit "Touch Me When We're Dancing" (#16), this second single from the LP "Made in America" circled the bottom of the chart for a couple of months. It did better at AC reaching #14.

ReduxReview:  This is not too bad of a song but I think it is held back by the arrangement, which is a little too slight for the tune. And as much as I love Karen's voice, she sounds a little weak here. I think if Olivia Newton-John had done this song in her more rock-oriented style, this would have made a solid addition to one of her albums. As is, the single is just lacking the punch it takes to grab your attention.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Before this album was made, Richard Carpenter took a year off from music to deal with his addiction to Quaaludes. Instead of sitting idle, Karen embarked on a solo project working with legendary producer Phil Ramone. The sound of the album took her in a different direction than what she was doing with the Carpenters and it met with a resounding thud at her label, A&M, and with her brother. Label head Herb Alpert decided to shelve the album and also required the Carpenters to flip the bill for the recording through their future royalties. A few of the tracks were used or remixed for a couple of Carpenters releases, but the full album remained shelved until 1996, thirteen years after her death, when it was released in its entirety as Karen had wanted.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"You've Got a Good Love Coming" by Van Stephenson

Song#:  0736
Date:  09/12/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  79
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Stephenson's music career took off as a staff songwriter in Nashville where he wrote/co-wrote hit songs for artists like Crystal Gayle, Kenny Rogers, Janie Fricke and Juice Newton. The success allowed him to get signed as a solo artist and he issued his first LP, "China Girl," which leaned towards pop/rock rather than the country he was writing. This first single got some minor attention for a few weeks and the album didn't chart. It would take another three years before he would issue a follow-up, which would be his most successful solo outing.

ReduxReview:  Stephenson was an excellent songwriter and he wrote/co-wrote a lot of quality tunes. This shuffle is well-done and a really nice listen. It's not the most outstanding single, but it deserved to get a little further out of the basement of the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although this song wasn't a hit on the pop chart for Stephenson (who co-wrote the tune), country artist Lee Greenwood recorded the song and he reached #9 on the country chart in 1984.


"Stay Awake" by Ronnie Laws

Song#:  0735
Date:  09/12/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  60
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Smooth Jazz

Pop Bits:  Jazz/funk sax artist Laws got his first break doing a short stint with Earth, Wind & Fire early in their career before their hits began. By 1975 he signed with Blue Note and issued his debut solo disc "Pressure Sensitive." His albums with Blue Note were instrumentals but when he moved to United Artists with his fourth album in 1978, he began to add lead vocals to some of his songs. One of his vocal tunes was this single from his album "Solid Ground." It reached #19 at R&B and spent a couple of months on the pop chart. Although it would be his only solo single on the pop chart, he reached the R&B chart with ten singles, the best being the #12 "Every Generation" in 1980.

ReduxReview:  I was a little surprised by this one. It's really a good tune with a nice arrangement and it kind of stands out against some of the snoozer R&B ballads that were coming out around this time. I don't think it screams Top 10, but it should have received more attention and at least gotten close to the Top 20.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Laws was already on the pop chart when this single debuted. Although not credited, Laws supplied the male vocal part for his sister Debra's single "Very Special" (#90).


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Let's Dance (Make Your Body Move)" by West Street Mob

Song#:  0734
Date:  09/12/1981
Debut:  91
Peak:  88
Weeks:  3
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Rap

Pop Bits:  This trio was signed to the now-famous hip-hop label Sugar Hill Records run by Sylvia Robinson. Getting signed was easy for the group since one member was Joey Robinson, Jr., Sylvia's son. This first single from their self-titled debut album briefly got on the pop chart while reaching #18 at R&B and #22 Dance. It might have done a bit better had it been issued as a 7" single (only promo 45's were pressed). It was commercially available only as a 12" single.

ReduxReview:  A few of the early Sugar Hill recordings were along this line - a groovy jam with some rap passages and background crowd noises. They were influential and had the sound of something new being developed. It was songs like this helped shape hip-hop/rap in the early days. They can seem a bit dated now and like this one tend to drone on a bit, but these songs were making waves back then.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song is an updated version of "Let's Dance" originally done by the Oregon-based funk outfit Pleasure. Their version was included on their second LP "Accept No Substitutes" in 1976, but it was not issued as a single. Pleasure's best single outing was the #10 R&B hit "Glide," which also reached #55 on the pop chart in 1979 (their only pop entry).


"Share Your Love with Me" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  0733
Date:  09/05/1981
Debut:  47
Peak:  14
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Country Crossover, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Rogers' album produced by Lionel Richie, "Share Your Love," got off to a great start with the #3 single "I Don't Need You." This title-track follow-up had a great debut position, but stalled just inside the Top 15. However, it did reach #5 at country and #1 AC. There was some star power behind the singer as background vocals were provided by Lionel Richie and Gladys Knight & the Pips.

ReduxReview:  This is not too bad of a version (see below) and it works well in the pop/country setting, but I could have used a little more Gladys in it to add a little more soul and depth. I don't think it is a great effort by Rogers as he sounds too lazy/laid back to really push the song. If Gladys is singing your backup, you better bring it, man!

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The song is a remake of a 1964 single by soul/blues artist Bobby "Blue" Bland. His original reach #42 on the chart (#5 R&B). Aretha Franklin also did a version 1969 and her single hit #13 (#1 R&B).


Monday, March 3, 2014

"Just Be My Lady" by Larry Graham

Song#:  0732
Date:  09/05/1981
Debut:  79
Peak:  67
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Graham started off the 80s with the beautiful hit "One in a Million You" (#9), but then had difficulty following it up. His fourth solo album, "Just Be My Lady," featured this lead single that still could not break him into the upper reaches of the chart. The single would go to #4 R&B, but it would be his last Top 10 on that chart and his final pop chart entry. He would issue three more solo albums before halting his solo career. Later in the 90s, he reformed his group Graham Central Station for a couple of live albums.

ReduxReview:  I'm sure the label wanted another hit along the lines of "One in a Million," so that is probably how this came about. Unfortunately, it doesn't come close to the quality of that song and it borders on an R&B dirge. As much as I like Graham's voice, he even sounds a bit bored here.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Graham was friends with Prince and he played bass on several of Prince's later tours. When Graham decided to work up a new solo album (under the Graham Central Station moniker), he worked with Prince who co-produced the album and co-wrote one of the songs. "GCS 2000" came out in 1998, but with no chart singles the LP stalled at  #49 on the R&B album chart.  2) Graham is uncle to hip-hop star Drake, who's given name is Aubrey Drake Graham.


"Magic Man" by Herb Alpert

Song#:  0731
Date:  09/05/1981
Debut:  84
Peak:  79
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Instrumental, Adult Contemporary

Magic Man by Herb Alpert on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Since Alpert's #2 hit "Rise" in 1979, he had been issuing albums with a more modern flair. None were as successful, but they typically would yield a chart single. This title track to his 1981 album sought to keep a groove similar to "Rise," but it didn't catch on as well spending only a few minor weeks on the chart. It did a little better at AC, but it wasn't enough to generate much interest in the album.

ReduxReview:  This is not a remake of the rock classic by Heart. However, that would have been far more preferable to this tedious tune. It seems like he was trying to incorporate some R&B/smooth jazz into this song along with a strange Latin-ish (or Middle Eastern?) section that just seems out of place. I just don't find it interesting or memorable and it drones on for far too long.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written and produced by Michael Stokes. Around this time he became the head of A&R at A&M Records (the label co-founded by Alpert). In addition to producing artists like Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight, Stokes was the one who signed Janet Jackson to the label.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Working in the Coal Mine" by Devo

Song#:  0730
Date:  09/05/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  43
Weeks:  12
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Devo's unexpected 1980 hit "Whip It" (#14) from the platinum LP "Freedom of Choice" got them a lot of attention and there was heavy expectations for their follow-up. The set of songs they recorded included this tune, but their label (Warner Bros.) balked at its inclusion so it was cut from the final track listing. Then Devo was approached about contributing a song to the film "Heavy Metal" and they offered up this leftover. It got in the film and ended up being the second single released from the soundtrack. The single got a little traction and almost popped into the Top 40. With their new album, "New Traditionalists," pressed and ready, Warner Bros. couldn't add it to the LP to capitalize on the success, so they pressed 7" singles of the song and attached them to the album. It helped a bit to include the song, but with no other songs from the album hitting the chart, the LP stalled at #23 and failed to even go gold.

ReduxReview:  "Lord...I am so tired! How long can this go on!!" I still recite that line today. I wasn't aware of the original when this came out and thought it was just another quirky tune from Devo. We were so hooked on the "New Traditionalists" album and it was one of a minor few that supplied the soundtrack to our many nights of crusin' the Ave. This song was included on the cassette version, so it was part of our ritual. I don't think it was until The Judds did a version that I realized this was a remake. Because, I mean...The Judds covering Devo? I don't think so.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song written by New Orleans R&B great Allen Toussaint around 1965. It was recorded by soul singer Lee Dorsey and his single reached #8 in 1966 (#5 R&B). Many other artists have covered the song including Pure Prairie League and The Judds, but Devo's version is the only other one to reach the chart.