Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Perhaps Love" by Placido Domingo & John Denver

Song#:  0878
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  79
Peak:  59
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop, Classical Crossover



Pop Bits:  As one of the most famous tenors in the world, Domingo has performed in 80+ operas and has contributed to over 100 recordings since his career took off in the early 60s. As his popularity grew over the years so did his repertoire, which on occasion would include forays into popular music. His first pop-only album came in 1981 when he issued "Perhaps Love." It featured pop standards, Broadway tunes, newer rock standards (like "Yesterday") and a couple collaborations with John Denver including this title-track single. It reached #22 at AC and almost got halfway up the pop chart becoming Domingo's only chart entry. His album was derided by classical purists, but Domingo has said that doing this project afforded him the opportunity to perform and record more obscure classical works. Plus, it introduce him and classical music to those who had not been exposed to the genre previously.

ReduxReview:  Why was this a good idea? It's just my opinion, but for me true opera singers should not sing pop and pop singers should not sing opera. There are exceptions where a crossover collaboration can be a unique success, but those are extremely rare. In this case, Domingo's tenor and Denver's plaintive voice do not mix well. Add to that a weak Denver composition and you are left with this odd experiment that just didn't work.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Although the album cover states as by "Placido Domingo with John Denver," Denver only sings on this one track and provides guitar on another. It was a marketing ploy that worked well drawing AC and Denver fans to the album. Denver wrote this title track and also played guitar on Domingo's cover of Denver's hit "Annie's Song." Denver included his own solo version of "Perhaps Love" on his 1982 LP "Seasons of the Heart."

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, June 6, 2014

"Daddy's Home" by Cliff Richard

Song#:  0877
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  80
Peak:  23
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Richard's album "Wired for Sound" killed his momentum a bit when the LP's first single, the title track, only managed a #71 showing. But this second single got him further up the chart giving him his final Top 40 hit. The song basically capped off the most successful chapter in his US output that began with 1976's "Devil Woman" (#6). Although all other songs on the album were recorded in the studio, this album closer was taken from a live concert performance.

ReduxReview:  Although kind of a classic doo-wop song (see below), it was one that I just didn't like. And still don't. Richard does well with the song, but it is so old fashioned that I'm really surprised it became a minor hit. Perhaps nostalgic AC listeners gave it a push. Someone had to. It certainly wasn't me.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song is a cover version a song done by the doo-wop group Shep and the Limelites. Their original version reached #2 on the chart in 1961. It was their only Top 10 hit. Jermaine Jackson took the song to #3 in 1973, making it his first Top 10 solo hit.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Let's Get It Up" by AC/DC

Song#:  0876
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  44
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Hard Rock, Arena Rock

Let's Get It Up by AC/DC on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Following up the group's hugely successful first album with lead singer Brian Johnson, "Back in Black," they issued another winner with "For Those About to Rock We Salute You." The album shot up to #1 thanks in part to this first single that reached #9 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The harder rock sound and lightly salacious lyrics (barely PG by today's standards) may have prevented this song from going higher on the pop chart, but it did well by almost getting into the Top 40. 

ReduxReview:  I like this song, but it's not among my faves in their catalog. While it remains a fan favorite, it has gotten lost over the years in favor of their signature tracks like "Back in Black" and the title track to "For Those About to Rock." I can kind of see why because it's just not as strong of a song as those. For me, it doesn't stick in my head like those big anthems. It might have been a popular back in the day, but now I think folks have forgotten it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The "For Those About to Rock" album finally got AC/DC their first #1 album. But throughout the 80s and 90s, the group wasn't able to score another chart topper. That is until 2008 when their first album in eight years, "Black Ice," was issued. As a product exclusive only to Wal-Mart (there was no digital release), it was promoted as an event title and it paid off. The album debuted at #1 becoming their second to reach the top - albeit 26 years after "For Those" hit that peak. But that is not a record wait. The title is held by Johnny Cash who hit #1 in 1969 with "Johnny Cash at San Quentin" and then finally returned to the top spot in 2006 with "American V: A Hundred Highways." That was a 36-year wait for the Man in Black.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"I Believe" by Chilliwack

Song#:  0875
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  33
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Chilliwack broke through to the US Top 40 with their #22 single "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)" from their album "Wanna Be a Star." This follow-up didn't do as well, but it got them their second, and final, Top 40 entry. It became their fourth top 10 in Canada reaching #7. The album had a loose concept about the road to becoming a famous rock musician. Song titles that played into this theme were "Sign Here," "(So You) Wanna Be a Star," and "Mister Rock."

ReduxReview:  Although not as hooky and memorable as "My Girl," this is a nice, easy tune that most likely sounded pretty good on the radio at the time. There were a few similar sounding songs then that ended up charting higher, but I'd probably choose to hear this one. I think it should have done a little bit better.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  So what is up with the group's name? It is the name of a town in the group's home country of Canada, located in the British Columbia region on the west coast. The town is located near the major city of Vancouver, which is where the band was formed.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Bobbie Sue" by Oak Ridge Boys

Song#:  0874
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  12
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Country Crossover



Pop Bits:  After years in the gospel/country business, the Oaks hit it big in the country-pop arena with "Elvira" (#5 pop, #1 country) from their album "Fancy Free." They scored a second country #1 from the album with the title track, but it failed to make the pop chart. However, the title-track single from their follow-up album "Bobbie Sue" got them back on the pop chart and almost into the Top 10. It became their sixth #1 on the country chart. The song also got them a Grammy nod for Best Country & Western Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  This song has a fun late 50s-ish doo-wop/rock feel. It kind of reminds me of The Coasters' hit "Charlie Brown" (#2, 1959). Of course, the Oaks' bass vocalist Richard Sterban is the stand out as he was on "Elvira." The song is not a real favorite of mine, but it's a good early rock knock-off that the Oaks perform well. 

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The song was co-written by Wood Newton. He released an album in 1979 that included three minor country chart entries. After that, he went on to co-write six other country Top 10 hits including this #1 and "Midnight Hauler," which was a #1 hit for Razzie Bailey in 1981.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"Tell Me Tomorrow - Part 1" by Smokey Robinson

Song#:  0873
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  33
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Robinson's solo career was in a major slump in the late 70s, so he regrouped and made a conscious effort to rebuild his career and in 1979 he began a streak of hit albums that culminated with his Top 10 LP "Being with You," which featured the #2 title-track. But then this first single from his follow-up LP, "Yes It's You Lady," failed to spark any significant interest and that left Robinson and his album shut out of the Top 20 for the first time since his 1979 resurgence. Although the song did reach #3 at R&B, it wasn't enough to gain the crossover appeal of his previous hits and once again Robinson found his popularity diminishing.

ReduxReview:  I'd have to agree with record buyers on this one. It is just not the same quality as standouts like "Cruisin'" or "Being with You." And near the end Smokey's voice sounds whiny and strained. It kind of irritated me. The song is not even close to being bad, but after some great songs (which Robinson wrote), this one (which Robinson did not write) is a letdown.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This album and "Being with You" were produced by George Tobin. Tobin owned a studio in North Hollywood and later in the 80s, a teenager named Tiffany came in to do some recordings. Tobin was impressed and later signed on to produce her recordings and become her manager. They were known for their famous mall tour promoting Tiffany's debut album, which ended up hitting #1 in 1987 thanks to the #1 remake "I Think We're Alone Now."

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Call Me" by Skyy

Song#:  0872
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  26
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Funk



Pop Bits:  This New York group was initially founded in the mid-70s by the three Dunning sisters (Denise, Delores, and Bonnie) and Robert Solomon, Jr. They hired musicians to fill out the band and by 1979 they issued their self-titled debut for the Salsoul label. It wasn't a major success, but it got them going and their next two albums gained a little momentum with some middling R&B chart songs. They finally hit it big with this first single from their fourth album, "Skyy Line." The song rose to #1 at R&B and became their first crossover pop hit. It also reached #3 on the dance chart. It would be their only Top 40 hit at pop, but they would go on to get two more #1's at R&B.

ReduxReview:  It has the same title as Blondie's recent #1, but it's not as strong as that hit. However, the song is a solid piece of R&B/funk that almost sounds like something from a Rick James-offshoot group and it can get your feet movin'. If your body is a-groovin' then it's all good.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After their self-titled debut LP, their next seven albums (which included two compilations) were titled using a word or phrase that included "sky," but replacing that word with their name. Therefore, the albums got titled "Skyyway," "Skyyport," "Skyy Line," "Skyyjammer," "Skyylight," "Skyy Flyy," and "Skyy High." They must have run out of sky-words because their late-80s output received regular titles that didn't include the group name.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"Tainted Love" by Soft Cell

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  0871
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  8
Weeks:  43
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  This UK duo of Marc Almond and David Ball had a tough time scoring a hit after being signed to Some Bizzare Records. They were given one last chance to prove themselves and the outcome was this single that became a #1 smash in the UK and other European countries. In the US, the tune wasn't really sparking much interest. It floundered around the bottom of the chart for many weeks (even dipping as low as #100) before finally making a slow ascent into the Top 10. While the duo had continued success in the UK, following up with four more Top 10's, their success was brief in the US. They ended up being a true one-hit wonder when this single became their one and only pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  I totally fell for this song the first time I heard it. I remember going "whoa...what is this?" and then running out to get the 45. Although steeped in 80s synthpop, I think it still holds up today. Later on, I discovered the Gloria Jones version (see below) and really liked it. That one has been a part of my Northern Soul collection for a long while. If you had a list of songs that truly defined the sounds of the 80s, this song would almost certainly have to be included.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) At the time, this single's US run was a record-setter. It spent 43 weeks on the pop chart making it the song with the most chart weeks in history. It broke the record set by Paul Davis' "I Go Crazy" which spent 40 weeks on the chart in 1978 (peaking at #7).  2) At the time, few in the US knew that this was a cover song. The original was recorded by soul singer Gloria Jones in 1965 and it was the b-side to another song which failed to chart. The song could have languished in obscurity if it hadn't been rediscovered by UK DJ Richard Searling in the early 70s. He began playing it in the Northern Soul clubs and the song proved to be a very popular hit on the scene. Soft Cell picked up the song from there and issued their unique synthpop take 16 years after the original.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, June 2, 2014

"Pac-Man Fever" by Buckner & Garcia

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  0870
Date:  01/09/1982
Debut:  76
Peak:  9
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Novelty



Pop Bits:  This Akron, Ohio, duo (Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia) had been writing jingles and novelty-type songs throughout the 70s including one early garage-rock mock single called "Gotta Hear the Beat" as by Animal Jack. They got more national exposure with the song "Merry Christmas in the NFL" where they were billed as Willis the Guard & Vigorish. The song got enough attention (and negative reaction from Howard Cosell) to reach #82 on the pop chart. Inspired by the video game phenomenon, the two wrote and recorded a novelty song based on the hugely popular game Pac-Man. Picked up and released on an indy label, the song became a popular radio track and CBS then swooped in to pick up the duo. The single was a surprise hit and CBS called for a full album of game-inspired songs. The duo obliged and like the single, it became a gold-seller as well. Although a follow-up single was released, it didn't chart and this song became the one and only hit for the duo, giving them one-hit wonder status.

ReduxReview:  Novelty songs are like clothing fashions - they may have been hip and cool at the time, but years later they turn into "what was I thinking?" I mean, no one that I know has ever said that a specific novelty tune was a really great song. Typically, they aren't. But they do serve a purpose for entertainment, commentary, etc., at the time of their release and then later the nostalgia factor kicks in. I didn't like this song when it came out and I'd still not purposely call this up to hear it, but I will say that in the novelty song world, this one is not that horrible. Actually, I think it could function on its own as a real song if you took away the sound effects and came up with different lyrics. I don't think it would be a hit, but it would make a good new wave-y add to someone's LP.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although they wrote some serious songs as well (Buckner's "On and On" was recorded by Anne Murray in 1985), the crux of their main work remained in the novelty area. Garcia died in 2011, but Buckner continued on and ended up producing and performing on another game-based song called "Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph" from the animated movie "Wreck-It Ralph" in 2012.

_________________________________________________________________________________

"Mirror, Mirror" by Diana Ross

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0869
Date:  01/09/1982
Debut:  80
Peak:  8
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, R&B



Pop Bits:  Ross got her first Top 10 for her new label RCA with the title track to her album "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (#7). The second single gave her a little more of a rock edge and it almost matched the peak of the previous single. It reached #2 at R&B, which beat the #6 peak of "Why Do Fools."

ReduxReview:  I really liked this song back in the day and it is the one that prompted me to buy the album. I wasn't a big fan of the "Why Do Fools" remake, so this one got me back in Ross' corner. I think it still holds up well. This one kind of gets lost in her catalog, which is unfortunate as it's good enough to sit alongside her big late 70s/early 80s hits.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Dennis Matkosky and Michael Sembello. It was their first major success as songwriters. The following year the pair would co-write another big hit with "Maniac" (#1), which would be performed by Sembello.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Let the Feeling Flow" by Peabo Bryson

Song#:  0868
Date:  01/09/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  42
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Bryson began his professional career as a teenager touring with a couple of bands. He got a contract with Bang Records and issued a debut album in 1976. Although his first albums were not big hits, he put several songs on the R&B chart throughout the 70s including three Top 10's. His first pop chart entry came in a duet with Melissa Manchester with "Lovers After All" (#54, 1981). Early the following year he finally got his first pop solo chart song with this single from his "I Am Love" album. The song would also reach #6 at R&B.

ReduxReview:  This is an old-fashioned R&B ballad sung wonderfully by Bryson, but I don't think the song is very strong. I'd never guess that it would be a candidate to almost reach the pop Top 40. Bryson's voice may have sold this one.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Bryson's given name is Robert Peapo Bryson. Early in his career, Bryson changed his name to Peabo due to a band leader not being able to pronounce Bryson's name.

_________________________________________________________________________________