Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Start It All Over" by McGuffey Lane

Song#:  0900
Date:  02/06/1982
Debut:  99
Peak:  97
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  The country-rock group's second album, "Aqua Dream," spawned this first single that was barely a blip at the bottom of the chart. It would be their last to hit the pop chart. However, they refined their sound by moving closer to country than pop and had four mid-charting singles hit the country chart. The real heyday of the group ended around 1985 when they were dropped by their label. A form of the group continued and later released a few albums and continued to perform.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't that fond of their first chart single, "Long Time Lovin' You," and this one doesn't make me a fan either. But I think the song itself is better and showed that the group had something going. It's still a bit of a snoozer, but an improvement from their debut.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This popular Columbus, Ohio, group was considered the house band at a local joint called Zachariah's Red Eye Saloon. Years after its closing, they spearheaded a reunion show of acts that used to perform at the venue. The reunion show turned into a popular annual event that continues to draw a large audience.


Friday, June 27, 2014

"We Got the Beat" by The Go-Go's

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0899
Date:  01/30/1982
Debut:  79
Peak:  2
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock, New Wave

Pop Bits:  After the slow-rise success of their debut single "Our Lips Our Sealed" (30 weeks on the chart peaking at #20), this second single was an immediate smash reaching #2 and staying there for three weeks, kept out of the top spot by Joan Jett & the Blackheart's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." But the Go-Go's got a bit of revenge when their album "Beauty and the Beat" spent six weeks at #1, which kept Jett's album at #2. This song would be the band's biggest hit.

ReduxReview:  I really liked "Our Lips Are Sealed," but when this came out I fell totally in love with The Go-Go's. It was a fresh, quick blast of rock and was just so fun. I remember in the summer of '82 trying out for the marching band's color guard (flag corps). A small group of us got together and created a routine to this song for our tryout. I made the squad and in doing so became the only male to ever get a spot on the color guard in the history of the school (others tried out but did not make it). I don't know if I'm still the only guy to be in the guard, but it was quite something at the time. And it was a lot of fun. If I had to pick a song to define my high school years, I think it would be this one.


Trivia:  In 1979, the band recorded some demos and ended up opening for the group Madness in the US and the UK. With their popularity on the rise, one of their songs was issued as a single on Stiff Records in the UK. The original version of "We Got the Beat," featuring original bassist Margaret Olavarria, got good attention there with the import becoming popular in US dance clubs and reaching #35 on the dance chart. After an illness that sidelined her, Olavarria was replaced by Kathy Valentine. The band then got signed to I.R.S. Records and "We Got the Beat" was re-recorded for their debut album, eventually becoming their signature song.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

"My Guy" by Sister Sledge

Song#:  0898
Date:  01/30/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  23
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The siblings' sixth album, "The Sisters," became the first that they self-produced. For the lead-off single, they chose this cover tune (see below) that got them back into the pop Top 30 while peaking at #14 at R&B. It was far more successful at AC where it reached #2 - their best effort on that chart. It would be their last major success for them in the US. In a couple of years, the group would have a small streak of hits in the UK.

ReduxReview:  A classic song done with little flare. It's painless to listen to, but it's so bland that even a modern doctor or dentist office would probably reject it from their waiting room mix. I don't think the Sisters really put their stamp on this one. Had they done it in an old girl-group or Andrews Sisters style, they might have had a bigger hit. As-is, I'm still surprised it did so well at the time.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of Mary Wells' #1 hit from 1964. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson, it would be her signature tune and her biggest hit on the pop chart. In addition to Sister Sledge, two other artists hit the chart with their versions. Petula Clark reached #70 in 1972 and a duet version titled "My Guy/My Girl" by Amii Stewart and Johnny Bristol reached #63 in 1980.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"I'll Fall in Love Again" by Sammy Hagar

Song#:  0897
Date:  01/30/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  43
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After performing with several bands in the late 60s/early 70s, Hagar got a taste of success when he became the lead singer of the group Montrose. Although not hugely successful at the time, the group's self-titled debut has become a kind of classic to may rock aficionados. Hagar did one more album with the group before leaving for a solo career. He place a few minor singles on the chart, but overall his career was not really taking off. Looking for a new direction, he jumped over to the Geffen label and released the LP "Standing Hampton." It would go on to be his best selling solo album thanks to this first single that reached #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and almost got into the pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  Hagar has a knack for churning out some solid pop/rock tunes and this is no exception. He hits the sweet spot here and its a highlight from his solo days. I think it deserved better than the #43 peak, but at least rock radio embraced it. I remember that the "Standing Hampton" album was quite popular in high school. I wasn't really into it at the time but became fond of it in later years.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song found its way onto the soundtrack to the 1985 film "Vision Quest," which was famous for Madonna's #1 hit "Crazy for You."  2) The LP's title stems from a Cockney term where a "hampton" was slang for penis. Therefore, a "standing hampton" is an erect penis. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, 12-year-old chuckles...


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Take Off" by Bob & Doug McKenzie

Song#:  0896
Date:  01/30/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  16
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Novelty

Pop Bits:  Bob & Doug McKenzie were characters from the Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV. Played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, the duo hosted a segment called "Great White North" for the show. Initially intended as a 2-minute filler tacked onto the end of the show for its Canadian broadcast, Moranis and Thomas mostly improvised a little talk show segment that played on a bunch of Canadian stereotypes. Audiences responded well and although not initially shown in the US, the duo caught on there too and soon they were basically required to perform a new sketch on most every SCTV show. Their popularity then moved to the recording studio where they cut an album called "The Great White North." It included this single that made it into the Top 20. The album got as high as #8 on the chart. A movie called "Strange Brew" followed doing moderate business. As normally happens, interest fell and the next Bob & Doug McKenzie album fizzled. After 41 segments on the show, 2 albums, and a movie, the fad had run its course. Moranis and Thomas would go on to revive the McKenzie's over the years in TV commercials, an animated series, and other appearances.

ReduxReview:  I think I just didn't know enough about Canadian culture to appreciate the McKenzie's. I couldn't figure out why they were so popular. I got real sick of people saying "take off" and calling each other "hosers." Pretty annoying, eh? I think the comedy parts of this song are weak, but the addition of a decent backing track and a good chorus featuring Geddy Lee (see below) made this novelty hit a big more tolerable than the norm. But not by much. Now I'm gonna grab my toque and take off to get a two-four, eh?

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Fellow Canadian and lead singer of Rush, Geddy Lee, provides vocals on this track. Oddly, it would be Lee's best chart showing in the US beating any single that Rush issued (their best being "New World Man" in 1982 which hit #21).  2) The album got a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Recording.


Monday, June 23, 2014

"Voice on the Radio" by Conductor

Song#:  0895
Date:  01/30/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  63
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This SoCal group mainly consisted of Phil Minardi and Judy Comden who recorded a couple of demo songs that got the attention of Montage Records. A full group was developed and a self-titled EP was recorded. This first single got some attention and made it on the chart for a few weeks. No follow-up single or album was released and the band called it quits.

ReduxReview:  It's great when one of these lower chart dwellers catches me by surprise. I really like this tune and may have even bought it back in the day had I heard it. In a way, it has a similar vibe to the song in the previous post, Prism's "Don't Let Him Know," except this one just has a little more meat to the chorus. It almost butts up against Pat Benatar territory as well. It's a shame this one didn't do better.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The EP did well and it generated interest from a major label. CBS was ready to record the group, but apparently changed their minds when they found out that lead singer Comden had polio as a kid and walked with a bit of a limp. In the very visual MTV video days, that was deemed unacceptable and CBS bailed. The group folded soon after.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Don't Let Him Know" by Prism

Song#:  0894
Date:  01/30/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  39
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Canadian group was formed by producer Bruce Fairbairn in the mid-70s from members of other Vancouver-area bands. He would produce the group while members, mainly Jim Vallance, would write the songs. Over the course of four albums, the group gained popularity in Canada scoring a few chart singles there while putting three songs in the bottom half of the US chart. After some personnel changes, the group issued their fifth album "Small Change." This first single became their biggest US chart success just nudging into the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  The opening of this song sounds like something from a Michael J. Fox movie. It's one of those songs that is likable and jams right along, yet doesn't have anything that makes you want to run out and buy it. I guess that kind of makes it good background music for something. Pleasant enough to hear without being distracting. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I enjoyed it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although Jim Vallance had left the group earlier, this song was written by him along with another upstart musician, Bryan Adams. The two would form a partnership that would results in a streak of hits for Adams later in the 80s.