Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Apache" by Sugarhill Gang

Song#:  0914
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  53
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  This early, influential rap group made in-roads at pop with their 1979 hit "Rapper's Delight" (#36). It would still take years before the pop world would embrace rap, but the Sugarhill Gang continued to help forge a path for other rap artists to follow. This second single from their "8th Wonder" LP would be their second-best showing at pop while reaching #13 at R&B. Even though it would be their last pop entry, their legacy and influence would reach far beyond any chart.

ReduxReview:  I've heard this song many times before (see below), but I've never heard this version. And it pretty much rawks! This is old-school rap well done. The group didn't really get much critical love compared to their contemporaries, but their hot singles like this one certainly made a mark.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song is actually a remake of an instrumental hit first released by The Shadows in 1960. Their version reached #1 in the UK but failed to chart in the US. Recorded by many artists, the biggest US chart version came in 1961 when Jorgen Ingmann reached #2. But perhaps the most influential version was done by Incredible Bongo Band in 1973. The song was not a hit when issued, but its percussive arrangement (with bongos, of course) became a favorite of rap artists and it has been sampled and reworked many times - including this version by Sugarhill Gang.

However, to me the all-time best version of the song was the disco-influenced one by Denmark's Tommy Seebach in 1977. It wasn't necessarily his music that was the draw, but the video for the song. It is legen...wait for it...dary! It is truly one of the best (bad) videos ever. I even think Kanye might agree that this is the best video of all-time - even besting Beyonce!  Well, maybe not. But it rocks. If you haven't see it, please do enjoy:


Friday, July 11, 2014

"Steppin' Out" by Kool & the Gang

Song#:  0913
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  89
Peak:  89
Weeks:  2
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The Gang's second single from their "Something Special" album was only a brief blip on the chart for a couple of weeks. It did okay at R&B reaching #12, but it just wasn't in the same league as their previous #1 hits. The band would rebound quite well with their next single.

ReduxReview:  Although not among their best singles, I think this deserved a little bit better than its measly two weeks on the chart. It's a nice groove with some good horn lines and I can easily jam to it. The tune isn't as immediate or hooky as some of their hits, but I enjoyed it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  There are a handful of groups who have titled one of their songs after their own name, such as Black Sabbath doing "Black Sabbath" or Bad Company doing "Bad Company." Even fewer have charted with said song. Kool & the Gang were able to accomplished this feat with their very first single. "Kool & the Gang" was released in 1969 and reach #59 at pop and #19 at R&B. A few more groups have done this where the name is just a part of the title, such as Big Country's "In a Big Country" or Queen's "Killer Queen," but an exact group/title occurrence is rare on the chart. There will be another 80s song that will chart later in 1982 with their name as Talk Talk will reach #75 with "Talk Talk"


Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Goin' Down" by Greg Guidry

Song#:  0912
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  17
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  This St. Louis singer/songwriter broke into the business with a publishing contract for CBS Records where several of his songs got recorded. He also did vocal work for artists like The Allman Brothers before inking his own solo deal with CBS. This first single from his debut album "Over the Line" did well getting into the Top 20. It also reached #10 on the AC chart.

ReduxReview:  This is kind of a "lost" song of the 80s. It was popular back then but it seems to have been forgotten. It has a nice, mysterious feel to it and fits right into that West Coast soft rock sound done by Christopher Cross and Michael McDonald (who may have been an influence - see below). Nicely done and deserves a revival.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In his high school days, Guidry was a member of several bands. In at least one of those bands he worked with future Doobie Brother, Michael McDonald.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"I Love Rock n' Roll" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  0911
Date:  02/06/1982
Debut:  63
Peak:  1 (7 weeks)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After the break-up of her previous band, the all-female The Runaways, Jett moved to England to start a solo career. She recorded a self-titled LP that saw release in Europe, but US labels wouldn't bite. After 20+ rejections, she and producer Kenny Laguna returned to the States and decided to invest money and press their own records. "Joan Jett" came out on Blackheart Records and was sold at concerts and other places and soon the demand for the record was too much for them to handle. Casablanca Records stepped in and signed Jett. They reissued the LP as "Bad Reputation" on the Boardwalk label and it performed well. During this time Jett assembled her backing group The Blackhearts and they would head back in the studio to do a follow-up. The "I Love Rock n' Roll" album was released the end of 1981 and this title-track single came out a few months later. The song took off and became a major #1 smash.

ReduxReview:  There are times I look back and wonder, "what was I thinking?" I totally disliked this song when it came out. I really don't know why. Maybe I thought it was a corny anthem or just plain silly. Whatever it was, I was wrong. This is a terrific song that sounds just as great now as it did then (despite my early hatred). The crunchy guitars and Jett's growling attitude more than sold the song and it ranks among the best rock anthems of the 80s (and beyond, really).

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Very few people knew that this song was actually a remake. While on tour with The Runaways in the UK, Jett saw this song on TV in its original version done by The Arrows. Written by group members Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker, the group issued the song as a single in the UK, but it did not reach the chart. They did have one Top 10 hit there with "Touch Too Much" in 1974. The group also had a weekly TV show in the UK in 1976 and 1977 called "Arrows." Jett first recorded the song in the UK with two of the Sex Pistols and it served as the b-side to her first single "You Don't Own Me" in 1979. She re-recorded it with the Blackhearts for her second album.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Do You Believe in Love?" by Huey Lewis and the News

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0910
Date:  02/06/1982
Debut:  77
Peak:  7
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Originally dubbed Huey Lewis and the American Express, this group was formed from members of two Bay Area bands Clover and Soundhole. Lead by Lewis, the group recorded a disco single in 1979 called "Exo-Disco" (backed with the lite-funk "Kick Back"), which was a send-up of the theme from the movie "Exodus" (a #2 hit in 1961 by Ferrante & Teicher). The single went nowhere, but it sparked attention at Chrysalis Records who signed the group. Of course the American Express company had issues with the group name so they changed it to Huey Lewis and the News and then issued a self-titled debut album in 1980. The LP sank like a stone but Chrysalis gave them another chance and they came up with the album "Picture This." Luckily, this first single caught fire and became their first Top 10 hit. The album would reach #13 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  I've always liked this song. I'm not sure why I didn't buy it back in the day. As a high schooler, I was probably lacking money. The doo-wop harmonies and hooky chorus are sweet and easy to digest while Lewis' gruff voice provides a nice edge. This group is often derided these days, but they really did have some smart singles and this is one of their best.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Huey Lewis's former country-rock band Clover recorded some LPs in the US but then moved over to the UK to see if they could take off there. They didn't, but the band (minus Lewis) would serve as Elvis Costello's backing band for his debut LP "My Aim Is True" in 1977.  2) When in the UK, Clover recorded with producer John "Mutt" Lange, who would go on to be a major producer for acts like Def Leppard and Shania Twain. Lang wrote this song for his band Supercharger who recorded it for their 1979 album "Body Rhythm." At the time it was called "We Both Believe in Love." Huey Lewis, who was kind of goaded into recording the poppy tune, made a few changes and they covered the song as "Do You Believe in Love?"


Monday, July 7, 2014

"(Theme from) Magnum P.I." by Mike Post

Song#:  0909
Date:  02/06/1982
Debut:  80
Peak:  25
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack, Instrumental

Pop Bits:  After the Top 10 success of his "Theme from Hill Street Blues" (#10), Post followed it up with another of his TV theme songs, one of several that were running at the time. Serving as the theme to Tom Selleck's hit detective series "Magnum P.I.," this rockier song did well enough to get into the Top 30. Although Post would continue to write many memorable TV show themes, such as from "The A-Team," "Quantum Leap," and "Law & Order," this would be Post's last single to reach the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Post certainly had a knack for composing memorable themes. These days, most shows barely even have a theme. I think the heyday of TV show songs are long gone. But we do have ones like this leftover that can still resonate and immediately bring back memories of the time and the shows. I thought this was a solid TV theme and even expanded it made for a pretty good single. It doesn't rank up there with the best, but it's a good composition. Plus anything that conjures up images of young Tom Selleck in a speedo is always a bonus!

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  How popular and influential was Post's theme work? So much so that Pete Townshend of The Who wrote a song called "Mike Post Theme" for their 2006 album "Endless Wire." Around this time, a couple of Who songs were being used as TV themes and it reminded Townshend of how he liked Post's themes and how TV shows can give folks a break from any troubles or rough times they may be having. This and other thoughts are explored in the song.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

"Here to Love You" by The Doobie Brothers

Song#:  0908
Date:  02/06/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  62
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  By this time the Doobies were calling it quits which effectively ended the Michael McDonald era of the group. The changes in personnel and sound had weighed on the band along with the imminent departure of chief writer/vocalist McDonald. With no original members left and no direction, the group called it a day. They rallied for a final farewell tour and a compilation of the era, "Best of the Doobies, Vol. II," was issued. This single from the comp was originally released on their Grammy-winning "Minute By Minute" album. It didn't do that well and this second iteration of the Doobies ended with a thud.

ReduxReview:  While this was a good opening track to the "Minute By Minute" album, it doesn't make a good single. It's kind of a rambling blue-eyed soul tune that lacks an immediate hook or chorus. With the group in chaos, getting any kind of new single to push was probably out of the question, so this seemed to be tossed out to promote the hits disc. As pleasant as it is to hear the tune, it just isn't single-worthy.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Michael McDonald era of the group produced one #1 hit - 1979's "What a Fool Believes." Written by McDonald and Kenny Loggins, the song went on to win the Grammys for both Song and Record of the Year. Michael Jackson is said to have provided backing vocals on this tune that were uncredited. However, nothing exists to prove this is fact.