Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Blaze of Glory" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  0826
Date:  11/21/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  66
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Country

Blaze Of Glory by Kenny Rogers on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  After a series of pop-country hits, Rogers went with a more traditional country tune for the third single from his album "Share Your Love." It may not have been the best move as pop radio and listeners pretty much ignored the song. It was Rogers' first single to not reach the pop Top 40 since 1977.

ReduxReview:  I didn't much care for this song back then and I still don't. I find it a very bland song that could have been done by any country artist, especially since Rogers doesn't bring much to the tune. It kind of killed Rogers' pop-country hit momentum and it has become a forgotten entry in his catalog (rightfully so).

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  There seemed to be a calculated reason for this song's release. Country artist Razzy Bailey recorded this song around the same time as Rogers. Bailey's version was to be issued as a single. Rogers version was slated for his album, but not schedule for single release. Apparently, someone from Rogers' camp heard Bailey's take and thought it would be a hit. Rogers' label then decided to get the song out as a single right away. It hit before Bailey's version and Bailey made the decision to keep the song as an album track. It may have worked out for Bailey as the single he then issued, "She Left Love All Over Me," hit #1 on the country chart. Rogers' version of "Blaze of Glory" peaked at #9 and although it was a Top 10 single, it was his worst showing on the country chart in four years and was a dud at pop.


Friday, May 2, 2014

"WKRP in Cincinnati" by Steve Carlisle

Song#:  0825
Date:  11/21/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  65
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

TV Themes - 01 - WKRP In Cincinnati - Steve Carlisle by Steve Carlisle on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  "WKRP in Cincinnati" was a sitcom that ran for four seasons on CBS beginning in 1979. It was successful for its first two years, but ratings ran aground when the network kept switching the show's time slot. It's catchy theme song, sung by Steve Carlisle, was popular and it finally got issued as a single late in the show's run - perhaps in an effort to boost sagging ratings. It didn't catch on very well and remained in the bottom third of the chart for a couple of months. Carlisle issued an album called "Sings WKRP in Cincinnati," but it never took off. It's unclear what happened to Carlisle. I've seen where he might have done some acting or sang jingles, but also that he might have quit music and moved to Australia to become a minister. I'm not sure what the true story is, but his voice will live on through this TV theme song.

ReduxReview:  As a TV theme song, this is great. It's a memorable sing-a-long that was perfect for the show. However, as a full-length single it's just okay. The cuteness of it wears thin real quick and the instrumental sections don't really add anything. I love it as a short theme song, but as a single...bleh.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This recording was produced by the team of Buckner and Garcia. That duo were on the verge of have their own chart hit as "Pac-Man Fever" would soon spread. Carlisle provided background vocals on that song.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Come Go with Me" by The Beach Boys

Song#:  0824
Date:  11/21/1981
Debut:  89
Peak:  18
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The recent "Beach Boys Medley" (#12) compilation single sparked some renewed interest in the group. Unfortunately, the Boys were quite fractured at the time so trying to get them together to record new material was just not going to happen. So instead of anything new, a double-album compilation of previously released songs titled "Ten Years of Harmony" was thrown together. It covered their 1970-1980 era in which they only had one significant hit, 1976's #5 "Rock and Roll Music." To promote the album, this song was issued as a single. It originally appeared on their 1978 LP "The M.I.U. Album," but it was not released as a single at that time. Thanks to the wave of nostalgia after the "Medley" hit, the single found its way into the Top 20.

ReduxReview:  This was a real low period for the group. Fighting, craziness, alcohol, etc., left them as a dysfunctional mess of a family. The music was often scattered and disconnected as well. "Ten Years of Harmony" was probably not the most appropriate title to describe the period. Had it not been for the "Medley," I don't think this song would have gotten off the ground. It kind of sounds Beach Boys-ee, but there is just something missing. It almost sounds depressing in a way. The original (see below) was a fun and bubbly hit that can still elicit nostalgic smiles. But the Boys just kind of plod their way through the tune and it sounds rather joyless.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of a hit originally done by the Dell-Vikings. Their version reached #4 in 1957. It was revived in 1963 in a version by Dion that reached #48. It has been written that when Paul McCartney first saw John Lennon perform, Lennon was covering this song with his band The Quarrymen.


"Falling in Love" by Balance

Song#:  0823
Date:  11/21/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  58
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Balance's self-titled debut album included the modest Top 30 song "Breaking Away." This follow-up single was issued but it couldn't quite crack the top half of the chart. The group would record another album the next year, but no singles charted and the group disbanded. This would be their last charting single.

ReduxReview:  The song almost has a 70's, AC feel to it. I think it is a worthy follow-up to "Breaking Away" and probably should have done a little better. The harmony sections are quite nice and the strings are tastefully arranged. I'm not sure what held this tune back from doing better. It is a bit sappy, but Air Supply wasn't having any issues going Top 10 with their delicious sap.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Band member Bob Kulick originally auditioned for the lead guitar spot for Kiss. They liked him, but ended up choosing Ace Frehley. However, Kulick did play on several Kiss albums and Paul Stanley's solo disc. Then later, based on Kulick's recommendation, his brother Bruce joined Kiss as the lead guitarist around 1984. He remained a band member for twelve years - the longest stint of any non-original member. He came into the band after they stopped wearing makeup and during his whole time with them, he never donned the makeup or created a persona.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0822
Date:  11/14/1981
Debut:  59
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul, R&B

Pop Bits:  The duo hit #1 with the lead title-track to their album "Private Eyes" and this second single followed suit to become their fourth #1. It also accomplished a chart rarity by hitting #1 on the R&B chart. Few White acts have had songs reach the upper portion of the R&B chart and fewer still have hit #1. When the "Private Eyes" single hit #1, the song that replace it at the top was Olivia Newton-John's "Physical," which sat in the top spot for 10 weeks. Oddly enough, Hall & Oates returned the kicking-out favor and "I Can't Go for That" knocked "Physical" out of the top spot.

ReduxReview:  For me, this is one of the all-time great blue-eyed soul hits. It is easily my favorite Hall & Oates song. They would have further hits, but I think this was their peak moment. Everything came together for them. What's great about the song is that even though the arrangement uses equipment and sounds that by today's standards are dated, the song remains fresh because of how they utilized them. Play it anytime, anywhere and folks will start groovin'. Brilliance captured in five minutes.


Trivia:  Apparently, years later at the sessions for the multi-artist "We Are the World" song, Michael Jackson confessed to Daryl Hall that he kind of took the bass line for this song and modified it for his hit "Billie Jean."


"Comin' In and Out of Your Life" by Barbra Streisand

Song#:  0821
Date:  11/14/1981
Debut:  62
Peak:  11
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Streisand had the biggest studio album of her career with 1980's "Guilty." The #1 album featured three Top 10 hits including the #1 "Woman in Love." Co-produced and co-written by Barry Gibb, the LP gave Streisand a modern edge that got her away from her previous disco experiments and big pop ballads. But instead of continuing with a proper follow-up, Streisand decided to issue a hits package titled "Memories." The disc included a couple recent hits, songs from her late 70s albums, an oldie but goodie ("The Way We Were" - hence the "Memories" title), and three previously unreleased tunes. Oddly, the only song from "Guilty" included was the non-single "The Love Inside." It was a bit of a mixed bag, but the album did reach #10 and would eventually go multi-platinum. One of the new songs on the album was this first single. It was a bit of a step back relying on a big AC ballad, but it did peak at the dreaded #11 spot and reach #2 at AC. It would end up being her last solo single to get even close to the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  Of course I fell head over heels for this single back in the day. I mean, c'mon, it's a big-ass Streisand ballad with her trademark diva wailing. What's not to love? Looking back now, this single had to have been a disappointment. Going back and relying on a standard pop ballad after the subtle genius of Barry Gibb's production/songs was probably not the right move. When stacked up against some of her best material, the song kind of gets lost. I still like it, but I don't love it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although not a new song, the album contained "Lost Inside of You," which was featured on the soundtrack to "A Star is Born." On that album, Stresiand sings it as a duet with Kris Kristoferson. On "Memories" it is a previously unreleased solo version by Streisand.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Someone Could Lose a Heart Tonight" by Eddie Rabbitt

Song#:  0820
Date:  11/14/1981
Debut:  76
Peak:  15
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  This second single from his "Step By Step" album came close to following the title track into the Top 10 but fell a little short. On the country chart it became his tenth #1 while going to #10 at AC.

ReduxReview:  Almost rock-blues, this is a cool, mysterious song. I had forgotten about this one. It's not something that comes to mind when Eddie Rabbitt is mentioned. But it is another good pop-leaning single in his chart catalog. Rabbitt already had a song recorded by Elvis ("Kentucky Rain" in 1970, #16) and had Presley lived on, this is a contemporary song I could hear him do.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Rabbitt's first record deal came in 1964 when he signed with 20th Century Records. With them, he issued the single "Six Nights and Seven Days." The single failed and his time at 20th Centrury ended. He then moved over to Date Records and in 1968 release "The Bed." Again, the single was a dud and he was left without a label. Signing with Elektra, he finally got on the chart in 1974 with "You Get to Me" (#35 country) and his major hits soon followed. Third time was the charm!


"Working for the Weekend" by Loverboy

Song#:  0819
Date:  11/14/1981
Debut:  79
Peak:  29
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  This band's self-titled debut album became a hit reaching #13 and going platinum thanks in part to the #35 single "Turn Me Loose" (a #6 Mainstream Rock hit). Their follow-up album was titled "Get Lucky" and they certainly did. The album reached #7 on the chart and it eventually became their best-selling album in the US moving 4 million copies. The biggest draw to the album was this rock anthem that made the Top 30 and went to #2 on the Rock chart. Although the song wasn't a mega-hit upon release, it has far outlived its chart days being used in films, on TV, and in video games. The band would go on to have a couple Top 10 hits, but this is the one that became their signature song.

ReduxReview:  How on earth this didn't get in the Top 10 is beyond me. Maybe a little too rock for pop radio at the time? Dunno. But like Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," this one has had a very long life. How could it not? From the immediately identifiable opening keyboard riff to the rock anthem chorus, this has been a rallying song for many workaday folks - including me.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The cover of the "Get Lucky" album features a close view of someone's rear end in leather pants. The person wearing them is the band's lead singer Mike Reno.


Monday, April 28, 2014

"Key Largo" by Bertie Higgins

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert! 
One-Hit Wonder!
Song#:  0818
Date:  11/14/1981
Debut:  86
Peak:  8
Weeks:  29
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Higgins began his musical career playing drums for Tommy Roe's backup band The Roemans. After spending a lot of time on tour, he decided to leave the band and begin work on his own music. He was eventually signed by the CBS affiliated label Kat Family and this debut single was issued. It became a surprise Top 10 hit and did even better at AC reaching #1. His album "Just Another Day in Paradise" also did well hitting #38. Unfortunately, Higgins couldn't secure a follow-up to this hit. He would have one more single peak outside the Top 40, but that would be the end of his chart career. The lack of another hit left him tagged as a one-hit wonder.

ReduxReview:  With references to a couple of classic films, "Key Largo" and "Casablanca," I think the lyric were nostalgic to a lot of folks and they got sucked into this tune. I liked the song back then and it still is a nice listen, but not so sure the arrangement has weathered the years. It's sounding pretty dated. But like the old movies it talks about, maybe any modern update would end up ruining it.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Higgins ended up with a major hit in Japan, but it wasn't this single. The song "Casablanca" was issued there and it became very popular. The tune was covered by Japanese artist Hiromi Go as well and that version reached #2. It helped Higgins' album became one of the best selling English language releases that year.


"Love in the First Degree" by Alabama

Song#:  0817
Date:  11/14/1981
Debut:  90
Peak:  15
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Crossover Country, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The group's third single from their "Feels So Right" album bested the #20 peak of that title track to become their biggest hit on the pop chart. The song reached #5 at AC and was their fifth consecutive country #1.

ReduxReview:  This song hits that sweet spot between country and pop that was becoming more popular around this time through artists like Ronnie Milsap (which this song could have been easily done by). It's another terrific entry for them and one of their most popular hits.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The album would eventually go multi-platinum and although it wouldn't be their biggest selling LP overall, it was tops in longevity on the pop album chart. The title spent more than three years on the chart.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Walking Into Sunshine" by Central Line

Song#:  0816
Date:  11/14/1981
Debut:  91
Peak:  84
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B, Funk, Dance

Walking Into Sunshine by Central Line on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  This London-based group got signed to Mercury Records and issued a self-titled debut in 1981. This single became their biggest overall hit reaching #14 at R&B and #5 on the Dance chart. In the UK, the group would go on to have six songs reach the lower ends of the chart (this one hitting #42) with their best effort being a remake of the standard "Nature Boy" that reached #21. They had two more albums after their debut, but the lack of any real major success weighed on the group and they disbanded in 1984.

ReduxReview:  While not outstanding, this is a nice slice of dance/funk. A good chunk of the time these lower-charting R&B/funk tunes are pretty bland, but this one is a slight cut above the norm. It's a nice surprise and it's a shame the single didn't get a bit further on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Central Line's dance version of "Nature Boy" was certainly different from the original hit ballad by Nat King Cole. His classic take hit #1 in 1948. There were many artists who cover the song over the years with one of the most famous recent versions done by David Bowie for the 2001 film "Moulin Rouge!" In the rock era, only one artist reached the pop chart with the song. Bobby Darin reached #40 in 1961.