Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Make a Move on Me" by Olivia Newton-John

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0921
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  69
Peak:  5
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  It's hard enough for artists to follow up a Top 10 hit, so imagine trying to follow-up one of the biggest hits of the decade. That is what Newton-John had to face after her single "Physical" spent 10 weeks at #1. Luckily, she had another sultry dance-pop tune in her back pocket ready to go and it proved to be a winner when this single reached the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  While "Physical" was certainly a terrific pop-culture touchstone song, I always preferred this song. It's just a well-written tune that was perfect for Newton-John and her new sexy pop image. Although steeped in 80's synths, the song still sounds great and the hook is undeniable. I think it is one of her best singles.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Producer/publisher Don Kirshner had many successes including his work securing music for the early days of The Monkees. After his success with them, he decided to assemble his own group and a film/soundtrack were developed for a group called Toomorow. Newton-John was selected to be in the group and the soundtrack became her first major recording. The troubled sci-fi production, also called "Toomorow," was finished and shown for a week in 1970, but then shelved. The soundtrack was released, but with the film failing, it got nowhere. The Toomorow band/project then collapsed and everyone went their own ways. While the film has seen one very sub-par transfer to DVD in 2012, the soundtrack was revived from the master tapes and issued on CD on 2/4/2014.


Friday, July 18, 2014

"On the Way to the Sky" by Neil Diamond

Song#:  0920
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  70
Peak:  27
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Diamond's first single from his "On the Way to the Sky" album, "Yesterday's Songs," rose up to #11 at pop and #1 AC. After three big Top 10 hits from his "Jazz Singer" soundtrack, this was a little disappointing. Adding to that disappointment was this second title-track single that barely sneaked into the Top 30. It did fine at AC hitting #4, which helped the album eventually reach platinum level despite missing the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  Hey - here is an idea - with power pop, rock, new wave, and West Coast soft rock taking over the airwaves, why not release a Broadway-ish waltz? Wow - what was Diamond and/or his label thinking? Looking back, I'm truly amazed that this song made Top 30. Support at AC was still strong, which probably helped, but it was material like this that got him labeled as old-school and not current. This one was a total clunker.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  When Diamond signed his first recording contract in 1962, he was part of an Everly-style duo called Neil & Jack (Jack being high school friend Jack Packer aka Jack Parker). The duo issued two singles that year on Duel Records, but neither got any attention so they split. I couldn't find info on what happened to Packer afterward, but it seems he left the music business and could have been a school teacher in New York.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Juke Box Hero" by Foreigner

Song#:  0919
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  73
Peak:  26
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  After their sultry "Waiting for a Girl Like You" hit #2 for 10 weeks, the band issued this third single from their mega-hit album "4." While it was a rock radio hit reaching #3 on the Mainstream Rock chart, the song mustered a lackluster Top 30 pop appearance. This was probably due to the fact that rock radio had been playing it since the summer before and by the time an actual single was released, the song had kind of run its course. No matter, as the song has lived on far past its chart days. It is the first 80s single I've encountered where it was not certified gold for vinyl sales, yet many years later received a gold certification for digital sales.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song back then. It told a story and totally rocked. However, I never bought the single. I think probably because it was played so much on the local radio station that I had heard it enough to not necessitate a purchase. But I obviously have it now and it sounds just as good now as it did then. A rock radio classic.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was inspired by a real-life event. Arriving for a sound check at a show, many fans greeted them as they went in. It started raining and the fans basically all left with the exception of one guy. When the band then arrived for the show, the guy was still there waiting in the rain completely soaked. His tenacity sparked the group to take him in and give him a backstage tour and a glimpse into their pre-show life. The experience with the guy sparked Mick Jones and Lou Gramm to write this song.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Pop Goes the Movies (Part I)" by Meco

Song#:  0918
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  77
Peak:  35
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Dance

Pop Bits:  Meco jumped on board the snippet train (ala "Stars on 45") the previous year with the Beach Boys-themed single "Summer '81 Medley," credited to The Cantina Band (#81). After dabbling with a couple more movie-oriented LPs that featured his takes on scores/songs from "Star Trek," "The Black Hole," and "An American Werewolf in London," Meco decided to just jumble a bunch of movie themes into a mega medley and issued the album "Pop Goes the Movies." Sections of the medley were extracted from the LP and stitched together for this single edit that got Meco back into the Top 40 one last time.

ReduxReview:  The medley fad was still somehow going around this time with a few other singles like this one yet to chart. I think we were quite lucky in the US that the fad faded fairly quick. In the UK and Europe, it continued on and there were medleys of disco tunes, Bee Gees, Harry Belafonte, Rod Stewart, etc. Ugh. In general, this one is not too awful but stretching the tempo of classic themes like "The Magnificent Seven" to fit the beat is quite irritating to anyone who loves these compositions. It's somewhat listenable, but highly unnecessary.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Soon after this venture, Meco branched out into swing music for his next album. "Swingtime's Greatest Hits" came out in 1982 with the edited single "Big Band Medley" issue. Unfortunately, he was beaten to the punch by a short couple weeks by Larry Elgart whose "Hooked on Swing" medley got to the chart first and reached #31. Meco's single then failed to chart.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Nobody Said It Was Easy" by LeRoux

Song#:  0917
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  18
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Signed to Capitol Records in 1978 as Louisiana's LeRoux, they pushed out a self-titled debut album of rock inspired by the sounds of their home state - Cajun, R&B, Dixieland, blues, etc. A local hit from the LP, "New Orleans Ladies," got enough attention to make it to #59 on the pop chart. Unfortunately, their next two albums tanked and Capitol dropped the group. Having already shortened their name to simply LeRoux, the group signed with RCA, changed to a slicker AOR sound, and released "Last Safe Place." The album did well thanks to this single that made it into the Top 20.

ReduxReview:  This is another good forgotten song that has shown up on some "lost songs" compilations. I liked it back in the day but not enough to pursue a purchase. I'd always remembered the song and when it was included on a compilation I bought, I thought it still sounded pretty good and worthy of being a playlist add.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The group is named after roux, a gravy-ish thickener made out of flour and fat (butter, bacon grease, or similar). Mainly used in French cooking, roux also serves as the base for Cajun gumbo.


Monday, July 14, 2014

"Mama Used to Say" by Junior

Song#:  0916
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  30
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  Britain was not known for producing R&B stars, so it was a rarity that Norman Giscombe (aka Junior) hit it big with this debut single. It reached #7 in the UK and then crossed the Atlantic to hit #2 on the R&B chart as well as a Top 30 pop appearance. Although it would be his only pop entry in the US, he continued to chart in the UK for several more years.

ReduxReview:  Here's a good funk tune that doesn't get much play anymore. Hearing it now, it kind of sounds like it was an influence on later 80s R&B stars like Bobby Brown. It has a similar vibe to songs like "Don't Be Cruel" and "My Prerogative." Except I like this song better. It also sounds quite advanced sound-wise for 1982. Those keyboard-horn fills were quite popular a couple years later I think. Peaking at #30, I think this was highly underrated.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Junior co-wrote several songs with Phil Lynott, the leader of the UK rock band Thin Lizzy ("The Boys Are Back in Town," #12, 1976). From around 1983 through 1985 the two worked on songs and created demos. Unfortunately, Lynott (dependent on drugs and alcohol) collapsed on Christmas of 1985 and died the following month from pneumonia and heart failure due to sepsis. The demos remain unreleased.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Find Another Fool" by Quarterflash

Song#:  0915
Date:  02/13/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  16
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Oregon band's debut single, "Harden My Heart," was a gold-selling #3 single. This follow-up didn't reach those heights, but it did reach the Top 20 and help boost sales of their self-titled debut album, which reached #8 and went platinum.

ReduxReview:  Getting even more Pat Benatar-ish, the group issues another solid single. In my opinion, it was worthy of a Top 10 showing. I'm not sure why it fizzled a bit short. But then again, this one rocks a bit harder than "Harden My Heart" and Benatar's singles were peaking in the same area as well. Just the state of the chart and radio at the time I guess.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Main band members Marv and Rindy Ross were commissioned by the state of Oregon to write a musical to commemorate the Oregon Trail. Using diaries from immigrants and other materials, they created the show "Voices from the Oregon Trail" in 1992. With other musicians, they performed/recorded the musicial as The Trail Band. It proved to be successful and the group went on to record several other albums of traditional Americana music.