Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Can't Hold Back (Your Loving)" by Kano

Song#:  0860
Date:  12/26/1981
Debut:  91
Peak:  89
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  While disco was on the outs in the US, other forms of the genre were still popular in Europe. One post-disco sound mainly came from Italian artists who took disco and moved it into the 80s by incorporating more electronic instruments while singing in English. Italo-disco proved to be popular in Europe and Kano was an Italian group who was having some success. A few of their songs crossed the pond and ended up on the R&B and Dance charts in the US, but with the disco backlash still going, their songs were not getting very far. Their best pop effort was this single from their second album "New York Cake." Both the single and the album spent a few weeks circling the bottom of the charts becoming their only song/LP to do so. The group would issue a total of three albums and then call it a day.

ReduxReview:  It's odd that a lot of their album tracks fall into the electro-disco sound but their lone pop chart entry is a straight ahead R&B/funk tune. Maybe that is why it hit since disco was on the outs. The song is better than what I expected as well. It's not outstanding, but it grooves along quite well and is a notch above the standard R&B songs that reach the pop chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Their first self-titled album featured song "I'm Ready," which got on the US R&B chart reaching #21. The song has been sampled many times with its opening synth line getting used in the 1993 #2 hit "Whoomp! (There It Is)" by Tag Team. That song hit #1 on the R&B chart.


Friday, May 23, 2014

"Somewhere Down the Road" by Barry Manilow

Song#:  0859
Date:  12/19/1981
Debut:  76
Peak:  21
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  His pop chart days were quieting down, but Manilow still ruled the AC airwaves. This second single from his "If I Should Love Again" album just missed out on the pop Top 20, but it became his 12th #1 song at AC.

ReduxReview:  He was still in classic Manilow mode and this was another choice epic ballad from him. I'd probably consider this the last blast single of his heyday. His output after this would be a bit strange as he tried to keep up with the changing sounds and it didn't work very well. Soon he would end up doing projects that would suit him better without worrying about singles and he did quite well. But this song was almost like a goodbye in a way even though he and we as listeners didn't realize it at the time. I miss him already!

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was hand-picked by Clive Davis for Manilow. It was written by Tom Snow and Cynthia Weil. Weil wrote many hits with her husband Barry Mann. Together, they wrote the rock standards "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin" and "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," both by The Righteous Brothers, along with hits like "Here You Come Again" (Dolly Parton), "On Broadway" (The Drifters/George Benson), and around this time period, "Just Once" (Quincy Jones and James Ingram).


Thursday, May 22, 2014

"Feel Like a Number" by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Song#:  0858
Date:  12/19/1981
Debut:  79
Peak:  48
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock, Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  Seger's live album "Nine Tonight" offered up the #5 remake of "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You." For the second single, he reached back into his catalog for a song that originally appeared on his 1978 album "Stranger in Town." That studio version was not issued as a single but did serve as the b-side to his hit "Still the Same" (#4, 1978). Represented in a live version, this time around it was an a-side that just peaked inside the top half of the chart.

ReduxReview:  I had to include the studio version above as the one from "Nine Tonight" was not available. It's not that different. Add some crowd noises and a slightly exaggerated ending and that pretty much sums it up. Anyone who follows this blog knows I'm not a fan of live recordings. I'd rather be there. So while this is a solid song in the Seger catalog, the live version doesn't add much to the original. (Just FYI if it is not clear, the rating would apply to the live version - I'd rate the above studio version higher if that was the one that hit the chart.)

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Seger's first live album, 1976's "Live Bullet," featured only one single - a remake of Ike and Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" that reached #65. However, it was another track from the LP became a rock radio standard. The live version of "Turn the Page," while never issued as a single, proved to be hugely popular and got lots of airplay - and still does. The original studio version from Seger's "Back in '72" album was released as a single in 1972, but failed to chart.


"Those Good Old Dreams" by Carpenters

Song#:  0857
Date:  12/19/1981
Debut:  82
Peak:  63
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Although the Carpenters' sound was not fitting in well to the 80s musical landscape, they were still having some success with their album "Made in America." The first single "Touch Me When We're Dancing" reached #16 while hitting #1 at AC and the album was a hit in the UK where it reached #11. This third single got on the pop chart for a few weeks and peaked at #21 at AC.

ReduxReview:  As much as I love the Carpenters, they did have some saccharine clunkers along the way that I could do without. This is one of those songs. Karen's voice and the harmonies are always lovely to hear, but this song is so...well...cheez whizzy. You can spread it on a dry cracker and the first couple of bites may taste okay, but too much doesn't settle well. The duo has churned out far, far better cheese than this.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Before the duo signed with A&M Records, they had two other previous deals that went nowhere. Karen, who sang and played drums, was signed to the small Magic Lamp label and issued a single in 1966. It went nowhere and the label folded. Then, after they won a major Battle of the Bands contest at the Hollywood Bowl as a trio (with Wes Jacobs), they got hooked up with RCA and did a few recordings. The results did not impress the heads of the label and the recordings were scraped with the trio being let go from their contract. Reduced to a duo, the Carpenters caught a break when their demos got to Herb Alpert. He fell in love with Karen's voice and the duo's sound and signed them in 1969. The following year they were on the pop chart for the first time with an interesting cover of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride," which reached #54. But their next single, "(They Long to Be) Close to You," soared to #1 making stars out of the brother and sister duo.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"One Hundred Ways" by Quincy Jones with James Ingram

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0856
Date:  12/19/1981
Debut:  83
Peak:  14
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  Jones and Ingram scored a #17 hit with "Just Once," which also got Ingram a Grammy nod. This follow-up, and third single from Jones' "The Dude" LP, did slightly better on the chart and this time won Ingram a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance. The song reached #10 on the R&B chart.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo ballad is another good selection from the album, but I far prefer "Just Once," which I think has had a longer life span at AC radio. Ingram sings the crap out of this song and that is pretty much what makes it. Otherwise, I think it is just an average tune. If a basic singer took this on, the song would be boring. Luckily, Ingram has the chops to make something tasty from very little ingredients.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  There was one more single issued from "The Dude," but it did not make the pop chart. "Razzamatazz" featured the vocals of Patti Austin and it hit #17 on the R&B chart. However, in the UK it went to #11 making it Jones' best showing on the chart in that country.


"Love Is Like a Rock" by Donnie Iris

Song#:  0855
Date:  12/19/1981
Debut:  87
Peak:  37
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Iris' album "King Cool" got off to a shaky start with the first single "Sweet Merilee" only managing a #80 showing. However, this song turned things around and it became Iris' second solo Top 40 single. It caught on at rock radio even better and reached #9.

ReduxReview:  I remember this song from back then (how can you not with that chorus?) but I wasn't a fan. However, this is one of those songs that sounds better today than it did then. Iris really had some killer tunes back in the day and they are ripe for re-discovery. He did a lot more than just "Ah! Leah!"

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  British rock band Slade covered this song and it was the opening track on their 1987 album "You Boyz Make Big Noize." It was Slade's twelfth and final studio album.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"It's My Party" by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin

Song#:  0854
Date:  12/19/1981
Debut:  96
Peak:  72
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Keyboardist Dave Stewart (not to be confused with David A. Stewart from Eurythmics) spent a good part of the 60s and 70s with various British prog-rock bands such as Egg and Bruford. By 1981 he decided to work on his own and began to move towards standard pop music. His first effort was a remake of Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" (#7, 1966) which featured vocals by Colin Blunstone of The Zombies. The song did well in the UK peaking at #13. For his follow-up, he reworked "It's My Party" and got Barbara Gaskin, whom he worked with in some of his previous groups, to do the vocals. It was a big success reaching #1 in the UK. The duo formed a partnership and they would go on to record five albums. While they had some further success in the UK, this would be their only single to reach the US chart.

ReduxReview:  You want 80s? Here it is! Wow - I had not heard this before. This type of synthpop was really coming along in the UK while the US lagged a bit. I'm not sure if the folks in the US really "got" this type of music/production. I think it was just a little too oddball to accept yet. But the UK and Europe were eating this stuff up. So while this rode #1 for four weeks there, in the US it petered out quickly. I can't say that this one is a favorite, but it is kitschy fun.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of the 1963 hit by Leslie Gore. The song, which hit #1, was produced by Quincy Jones. Jones rush released the single because Phil Spector mentioned to him at an event that he was planning to record the song with The Crystals. Jones didn't mention he just recorded it with Gore and he quickly got the song printed up for radio stations. The song quickly went to #1. After getting scooped by Jones, Spector nixed recording the song.  2) In the song's video, there is a cameo by a guy with round glasses who would soon have his own hit - Thomas Dolby. He plays the "Johnny" part from the song. Two years later, Stewart and Gaskin would cover one of Dolby's songs issuing "Leipzig" as a single.


"Sweet Dreams" by Air Supply

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0853
Date:  12/12/1981
Debut:  74
Peak:  5
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Air Supply's album "Lost in Love" produced three Top 10 hits and that feat was accomplished for a second time when this third single from their "The One That You Love" album climbed to #5. The song also became their sixth straight Top 10. It reached #4 at AC as well.

ReduxReview:  This song is a bit darker and slightly rockier (?) than the big, sweet AC ballads that had become known for. I guess the group didn't even think this song was single-worthy, but exec-producer Clive Davis loved the song and thought it would be a hit. Ends up he was right. I think this song has kind of gotten ignored over the years in favor of the love ballads and that is too bad. It's one of my favorites from them.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  A fourth single was not planned for the album. However, one was issued in Japan. The song "I'll Never Get Enough of You" was released there and it reached the Top 10.


Monday, May 19, 2014

"All Our Tomorrows" by Eddie Schwartz

Song#:  0852
Date:  12/12/1981
Debut:  80
Peak:  28
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Canadian singer/songwriter Schwartz kicked off his career with his 1980 debut LP "Schwartz." It proved to be popular in his home country and his next album "No Refuge" expanded his audience into the US when this first single cracked the Top 30. He would issue one more album before shifting his career to the songwriter/producer side of the business where he had success with artists like The Doobie Brothers, Paul Carrack, and Rita Coolidge.

ReduxReview:  I'd swear I've never heard this song before, but being a devote listener of the "American Top 40" radio show around this time, I must have heard it. Why don't I remember it? Probably because the song is a bit...well...unmemorable. I never would had pegged this as being a chart contender. It's nicely written and performed, but the song is nothing that would catch my ear on radio or anywhere. And knowing that he has written other great material (see below), I'm surprised this is the one that got issued and did a little business.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) At this point in his career, Schwartz was more interested in becoming a performer than a professional songwriter. But before his solo career took off, one of his songs got recorded by another artist and became a major hit. Pat Benatar scored with Schwartz's "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" in 1980 (#9).  2) Joe Cocker covered this song for his 1987 album "Unchain My Heart."


"Sea of Love" by Del Shannon

Song#:  0851
Date:  12/12/1981
Debut:  81
Peak:  33
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Charles Westover had success with a local band in Michigan in the late 50's before attracting the attention of BigTop Records. He signed with them in 1960 and changed his name to Del Shannon. His initial sessions for the label were not successful, but a revamped version of a song he co-wrote finally did the trick. "Runaway" became a #1 smash in 1961 and launched him into stardom. He has several chart hits over the next few years including two other Top 10 hits, but by 1966 the hits stopped. Label and publishing issues followed along with a bout with alcoholism which kept him sidelined throughout the 70s. By 1978, he was sober and began work on another album. Produced by Tom Petty and backed by the Heartbreakers, Shannon issued "Drop Down and Get Me" in 1981. This single was issued and it became his first Top 40 hit in sixteen years. Unfortunately, it would also be his last single to reach the chart. Shannon continued to perform and do some recording through the remainder of the 80s, but depression got the best of him and in 1990 he committed suicide. His influence on rock and other artists was so strong that he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall if Fame in 1999.

ReduxReview:  Shannon's version (see below) kind of has a Creedence feel at the top. Petty amps up the tune just right for Shannon and he sounds good on it. It's a nice change from the dreamy original. It's nothing outstanding, but it's an above average twilight effort from a rock legend.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Shannon was the first to record a young up-and-coming Detroiter, Bob Seger. Those early 60s recordings helped Seger later secure a recording contract. Seger named his 1978 "Stranger in Town," which also happened to be the title of a 1965 single by Shannon that reached #30.  2) Shannon was the first artist to cover a Beatles song. He recorded and issued "From Me to You" in 1965. Although The Beatles' original was released first, Shannon's charted first and reached #77. His chart appearance with the song made it the very first Lennon/McCartney song to reach the US charts. The single initially failed to reach the Top 100 singles chart for the Beatles, but after they hit #1 in 1964 with "I Want to Hold Your Hand," the song finally reached #41 that year.  3) This song was co-written and recorded by Phil Phillips in 1959. It was a #2 pop hit and #1 at R&B. In addition to Shannon's chart entry, the supergroup The Honeydrippers reached #3 with the song in 1985.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Keeping Our Love Alive" by Henry Paul Band

Song#:  0850
Date:  12/12/1981
Debut:  88
Peak:  50
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Southern Rock

Pop Bits:  Paul joined the Southern Rock band The Outlaws in 1972 and two years later that group was signed to Arista by Clive Davis. They went on to have some good success including the #34 "There Goes Another Love Song" in 1975, but they never really broke through to the mainstream. Paul left the group in 1977 to pursue a solo career and soon signed to Atlantic where he and his band released four albums from 1979 to 1982. His third album, "Anytime," featured this single which became his one and only song to reach the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This is an odd song. It starts out Southern-rock-ish with an E Street Band piano lick and then it goes into something that sounds either like a TV sitcom theme or a song from an 80s B-grade brat pack movie. And then there is the ending. Whoa. That wail is like something from a Jim Steinman production. And finally, a dreamy finale. Very, very weird. I can't say I hate it, but can't say I love it. Just...interesting.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After his group disbanded, Paul went back to The Outlaws for an album. Then in 1992 he formed the country band Blackhawk with Van Stephenson and Dave Robbins. The trio went on to chart seven Top 10 country hits throughout the 90s. Although the lineup has changed several times since their heyday, the group is currently active with Paul as a member.