Saturday, June 14, 2014

"Seasons of Gold" by Gidea Park featuring Adrian Baker

Song#:  0886
Date:  01/23/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  82
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Baker was a UK singer/songwriter who issued a solo album in 1975 that featured a minor hit with a remake of The 4 Seasons' "Sherry." As the 80s started, he formed his own label in order to produce his own projects including Gidea Park, a "group" that really just consisted of Baker. Jumping on the hits medley craze at the time, Baker created both a Beach Boys and 4 Seasons medley and recorded them. "Beach Boy Gold" was issued as a single, but the Beach Boys' own medley at the time pretty much spoiled any potential success. Then this 4 Seasons medley was pushed out and got enough attention to ride the bottom of the chart for a few weeks. It would Gidea Park's only single to reach the chart.

ReduxReview:  This trend wore out its welcome real quick and this one didn't help. But it's not too awful to hear. I guess my question on all these is...why?  I mean, Stars on 45 was a fun fluke but why were folks hooking into all the rest of these imitators? Maybe nostalgia? Perhaps people like to dance to a series of recognizable snippets? It's a mystery to me. I just get bored with these medleys and would rather hear the real deals.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Baker had some better success in the US writing and producing songs for the disco group Liquid Gold. They had two songs reach the US chart with the best being the #45 "My Baby's Baby" in 1979. It would also reach #5 on the US dance chart.  2) Thanks to his falsetto voice, Baker actually got selected to tour with the two groups he paid tribute to in the Gidea Park singles. He spend some time in the 80s and 90s with the Beach Boys and then did a stint in the mid-90s with the 4 Seasons.


Friday, June 13, 2014

"Circle of Love" by Steve Miller Band

Song#:  0885
Date:  01/23/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  55
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Miller's "Circle of Love" album ended a streak of three consecutive Top 10 studio albums when its lead single "Heart Like a Wheel" only managed a #24 showing. This title track single didn't help much with its mid-chart peak and inability to even get on the Mainstream Rock chart. The LP would get certified gold, but that was a lowly showing following its multi-platinum predecessors.

ReduxReview:  I just don't get this one. The LP only had five tracks, so they had to pick something for a follow-up single. But this one? Yeesh. What a snoozer. And all the "Ahhhh's" or "Iiiiii's" (not sure which) about drove me over the brink. And the song is basically over at the 2:40 mark. The remainder is just instrumental solos (which are probably the best part of the song). It just adds up to a pretty bad single choice.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Miller moved to San Francisco and ended up forming The Steve Miller Blues Band. In 1966, they backed up Chuck Berry and the performance was recorded and issued as "Live at the Fillmore Auditorium." It would take another two years before shortened-named Steve Miller Band would release its debut album "Children of the Future."


Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Just Can't Win 'Em All" by Stevie Woods

Song#:  0884
Date:  01/23/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  38
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Woods' first single from his Take Me to Your Heaven album, "Steal the Night," got him on both the pop and R&B charts. This second single would do the same, but its definite soft rock sound would end up doing best at AC where it peaked at #15. It would be his only single to hit all three charts (going to #57 at R&B as well).

ReduxReview:  I like this song far better than "Steal Away," which I thought was bland R&B/pop. This one comes closer to Christopher Cross territory and I think it works well. If memory serves me correctly (which is getting iffy these days) there were a few singles throughout the years that the local record store couldn't get in. I think I went to buy this one and they just never got copies. I've forgotten it over the years and this is a good reminder to get out and find a copy.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Woods' wife, Cheri Woods, operated a very successful call girl service out of their Studio City home. It contained a studio where Stevie would record. Cheri chronicled her business as a "madam to the stars" and time in jail in a book called Death Row Madam.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club

Song#:  0883
Date:  01/23/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  31
Weeks:  17
Genre:  New Wave, Dance, Synthpop

Pop Bits:   Husband and wife Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth started this side group when on hiatus from their regular gig as members of Talking Heads. Using various other musicians, they came up with tunes that incorporated African rhythms, island music, hip-hop, dance, and other styles. Their self-titled debut LP was first issued in the UK the previous summer and its success their prompted a US release. This first single became a #1 dance hit while almost getting into the pop Top 30. Even though it was not a big pop hit then, it has become far more popular over time and is one of the most samples songs from the 80s, used in many recordings including Mariah Carey's 1995 #1 "Fantasy." Unfortunately, it would be the group's only chart song. They would continue to record albums over the years, but nothing would top their debut LP.

ReduxReview:  I admit that when this came out, I didn't really get the tune. It was a quirky, squeeky, lazy groove that just did not appeal to me. But something about it caught my attention many years later and I was slowly won over. Now it's a must-have on my gym mix and other playlists. I still find it strange and wonderful when songs that didn't click the first time around become favorites much later.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The first single released in the UK was "Wordy Rappinghood." It reached #7 on the chart. Combined with "Genius of Love," the song was #1 on the US dance chart. "Wordy" was issued as a follow-up to "Genius" in the US, but it failed to chart. In the UK, "Genius" didn't fare as well and petered out at #65.  2) Frantz and Weymouth pay tribute to artist that influenced them by calling them out in the lyrics of "Genius." James Brown's name is featured in a memorable part while others artist like Kurtis Blow, Bob Marley, and Smokey Robinson are also mentioned.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Spotlight Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0882
Date:  01/23/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  4
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Rock, Power Pop

Pop Bits:  This group's 1980 self-titled debut featured their first Top 40 song with the #38 "Angel Say No." But that first effort would quickly get forgotten thanks to this smash from their second LP "Tommy Tutone-2." The song, which describes a guy getting up the nerve to call a girl's phone number (supposedly) found on a bathroom wall, slowly gathered steam from radio requests and reached #4. It was a massive success for the group and it ended up being so iconic that the group was never able to follow it up. Their next album was barely a blip on the chart and with no further chart singles, the group saw the writing on the wall and called it a day. A version of the group would release a couple of albums later in the 90s to little notice, but they will always be remembered thanks to this hit. Although technically not a one-hit wonder, due to "Angel Say No," they are often considered one thanks to this song.

ReduxReview:  The phone number dialed around the world! Back in the day, my group of friends hooked into a few albums and songs that would go on to help define those years. This is one of those songs. I remember one summer night we drove around and had this song on a continuous loop on cassette. We probably played it 20 times or more. We ended up driving to the local man-made waterfall attraction, The Cascades. You could walk up and down the sides and if there was a breeze, the water from the fountains would get you all wet as you walked up the falls. I remember it was hot and we all cooled off getting doused by the fountains. It was a lot of fun. And this song played its part in that memorable evening. Even when I hear the song now, the first thing that comes to mind is that night with my friends. Music can be so powerful in triggering great memories. Because of that, how can I not Spotlight this song?


Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The phone number listed in this song became a nightmare for people who had it as their home number. It was a common prank to call the number in the various area codes and ask for Jenny. Some folks were so incensed that lawsuits were considered. People had to change their numbers due to the amount of crank calls they received - sometimes numbering in the thousands per day. It prompted a few businesses to pick up the number for promotional purposes. And after all these years, you'd think this would die down, but it still remains a popular. In 2010, a new area code (855) was added. This phone number was grabbed up in less that a minute after numbers were offered to the public. (Oddly, we made our share of crank calls back in the day, but we never called this one. Weird.)  2) Although up for debate between band members, the question everyone had was if there was a real Jenny and if that was her number. The song's originator, Alex Call, has written that he just came up with the name and number out of the blue as he was writing. When Tutone group member Jim Keller showed up, he said it was like a number on a bathroom wall and then the two set out to finish the song.  3) If taken as an actual number, 8675209 is a prime number.


"Open Arms" by Journey

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0881
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  57
Peak:  2
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Journey was not a group known for power ballads, so it came as a bit of a surprise when this song found its way on their "Escape" album and then was released as the third single. The original version was written by Jonathan Cain for his previous group The Babys, but they rejected the sentimental tune. Now with Journey, Cain revived it with Steve Perry as co-writer and once again, band members balked. The song was almost left off the album, but luckily it got on as the closing track. Concert audiences ate it up and soon record buyers would too and it became the biggest single of their chart career spending six weeks at #2 and going gold.

ReduxReview:  Okay everyone, get out yer lighters, raise 'em high, and shed a tear! Arguably one of the most famous power ballads of the decade, it was just too delicious to deny. Yeah its treacly, but with Perry wringing every drop of emotion from the lyrics, the song just soars. If anyone tells me that they hate this song, I won't call them a liar, but I won't believe them either.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song was covered by pop star Mariah Carey for her 1995 album "Daydream." The song was not issued as a single in the US mainly due to Journey's version being so iconic. However, in the UK where Journey's original release was barely a blip on the chart, Carey's version was released and it became a #4 hit.


Monday, June 9, 2014

"That Girl" by Stevie Wonder

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0880
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  72
Peak:  4
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After his successful "Hotter Than July" album, Wonder issued a new hits compilation entitled "Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium I." The double LP contained key hits and album tracks from his 70s output in addition to four new tracks. One of the new songs was this first single from the album. It bounced right up into the pop Top 10 while spending nine weeks atop the R&B chart. The song would get him a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song.

ReduxReview:  This is a favorite of mine from his later hits. It's got a nice, slinky groove that still stands up today. It doesn't seem to be a popular entry from his catalog these days, which is surprising since it was such a huge hit at R&B. I think his "classic" songs seem to grab all the attention and terrific tunes like this kind of get ignored. So if you haven't been listening to these "lesser" hits, get to his catalog pronto!

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Although Wonder would go on to have further hits and release other compilations, there never was a second "Original Musiquarium" ever issued.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Spirits in the Material World" by The Police

Song#:  0879
Date:  01/16/1982
Debut:  76
Peak:  11
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock, New Wave

Pop Bits:  The Police's previous single, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," became their biggest hit to date reaching #3. This second single from their "Ghost in the Machine" LP just missed the Top 10 peaking at the dreaded #11.

ReduxReview:  Back then I didn't even know what Ska music was, but I knew that I liked the groove of this song. It was just so different from anything else on the radio. And the shift from the Ska-ish verse to the rock chorus was pretty cool. It still sounds great and remains a fave of mine from the group.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The "Ghost in the Machine" album contained the Sting composition "Demolition Man." However, The Police were not the first to record the song. Earlier in 1981, Grace Jones recorded the tune for her "Nightclubbing" LP. It was released as the first single from the album, but did not chart. However, the album became one of her most popular releases.