Saturday, August 2, 2014

"Never Thought I'd Fall in Love" by The Spinners

Song#:  0935
Date:  03/06/1982
Debut:  95
Peak:  95
Weeks:  2
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The Spinners has a late-career resurgence in the early 80s thanks to a couple of medleys that reached the Top 10. But their output after those hits started them on a chart descent from which they would not recover. After a pair of lowly R&B chart singles from their album "Can't Shake This Feelin'," this third single somehow got on the pop chart for a couple of weeks while missing the R&B chart completely.

ReduxReview:  This is not the most memorable or exciting single from the group, but it's not too bad either. It takes a while for the song to really rev up and the last minute or so is worthy of a listen. The remainder is just pleasant album fodder. They have had far, far better material than this.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The group's first single for the Tri-Phi label was 1961's "That's What Girls Are Made For," which reached #5 at R&B. After that, they continued to record for the label with little success. Tri-Phi was bought by Motown and the group found a home there. But not much changed. With little in the way of hits, Motown kind of used members of the group in other capacities while on the label (i.e., road managers, chauffeurs, etc.). Aretha Franklin stepped in and encouraged the group to make a move to Atlantic. They did in 1972 and the success was immediate with three straight R&B #1's and two pop Top 10's. Their hit streak would continue throughout the 70s with their biggest pop hit being the #1 duet with Dionne Warwick, "Then Came You."


Friday, August 1, 2014

"Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk" by Dr. Hook

Song#:  0934
Date:  02/27/1982
Debut:  69
Peak:  25
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Country Rock

Pop Bits:  After changing to a smooth rock sound in the late-70s and scoring three Top 10 hits, their 1980 album "Rising" found the group floundering. With no major hits, the album failed to chart. They tried to turn things around with their next studio album, "Players in the Dark." This first single started off quite well (it was the week's top debut), but then petered out after reaching the Top 30.

ReduxReview:  This is kind of like an early country-rock version of "Baby Got Back," no? Dr. Hook sheds some of the disco-ish pop they were doing (ala "Sexy Eyes") and moved back towards a more country-rock feel. I guess it's not bad but I was just never a fan of this song. I ignored it back then and will probably continue to do so.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  You never know where a song might become a hit. It is strange how a song will not be popular in one country, but yet be a big hit somewhere else. That is basically what happened with this song. While not a major hit in the US, UK, or other European countries, for whatever reason, it caught on in South Africa and became a #1 single.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

"'65 Love Affair" by Paul Davis

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0933
Date:  02/27/1982
Debut:  82
Peak:  6
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Moving to the Arista label was good and bad for Davis. Good because his album for them, "Cool Night," already yielded the #11 title track and this second single became his biggest pop hit. Bad because the marrying of his earlier soft rock/country sound with Clive Davis' hit-making ways was not a match made in heaven. The album was a career high for Paul Davis, but the pop push didn't sit well with him. It would end up being his only LP for Arista. In the meantime, this reflective ode lit up pop radio and got into the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  It's a shame that Davis ended up not really liking this song. I think it is a wonderful piece of pop and I played it quite a bit back in the day. The production is a bit dated now, but it is still enjoyable and brings back waves of nostalgia. It's just plain fun.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  It's been said that Davis originally wrote this tune as "'55 Love Affair." This would seem to fit as the song references 50's pop culture points like doo-wop music and car hops. However, Arista balked that '55 was too old, even for Davis to sing about, and to appeal to a younger demo they wanted it as '65. Davis obliged, but the whole commercialization of his music soured him and he took off from Arista and never looked back.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Don't Let Me In" by Sneaker

Song#:  0932
Date:  02/27/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  63
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Having taken their name from Steely Dan's song "Bad Sneakers," it seemed fitting that these fans of that duo would also cover one of their songs. This second single from Sneaker's self-titled debut album couldn't get close to their first single "More Than Just the Two of Us" (#34), but it helped give them the opportunity to record a second album. "Loose in the World" came out later in the year, but no singles were able to reach the chart and that was pretty much the end of the band.

ReduxReview:  Had I not known about the Steely Dan connection, I'm not sure I would have pegged this as one of their tunes. After knowing that fact, I could hear a bit of that Steely Dan sound in the tune. This is quite different from the AC balladry of Sneaker's first single and I'd never think the songs were by the same artist. Not sure if that is a good thing. You need some kind of cohesive sound to declare an identity. As-is, the song is a nice slice of West Coast soft rock and good homage to one of their influences.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song, written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, was recorded by the Steely Dan duo prior to the release of their debut LP in 1972. It didn't make it onto any of their proper albums, but the original demo version has surfaced on a couple of "early years" compilations. Sneaker's version seems to be the first official release of the song.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Sleepwalk" by Larry Carlton

Song#:  0931
Date:  02/27/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  74
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Smooth Jazz

Pop Bits:  Carlton was one of the most prolific session guitarists of the 70s and 80s performing on hundreds of tracks by major artists from Joni Mitchell to Michael Jackson. Along the way he got signed to Warner Bros. for a solo deal and released albums for them and other labels over the years. His solo peak began with his credited guest spot on Mike Post's "The Theme from Hill Street Blues," which hit #10 late the previous year. Carlton then issued his LP "Sleepwalk" and this title track single lead the way. It would be his only solo chart song and it helped make the album his highest peaking reaching #99. Carlton's work on the "Hill Street" single would garner him a Grammy award and over the years he would receive three more.

ReduxReview:  Carlton is a brilliant musician, but I don't think this is his finest moment. The production is so dated and it's lazy, sleepy approach almost did make me fall asleep. The original (see below) was a dreamy old tune with a different style of guitar work. It's a late-50s classic. Carlton's too-smooth take could have been used in an ad for Sominex...or actually in place of taking it. Yaaawwwnn....

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song is a remake of the original by Santo & Johnny. The Farina brothers, who co-wrote the song with sister Ann, took the song to #1 in 1959. It has been covered by many artists, but Carlton is the only other to reach the chart with the song. Brian Setzer's 1998 version did not chart, but it did win a Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.  2) Carlton is sometimes known as Mr. 335, which was the name of his studio in California (Room 335). In 1988, he was a victim of a random crime and shot in the throat just outside of his studio. He recovered and returned to the studio to complete the album he had been recording prior to the shooting.


Monday, July 28, 2014

"Get Down on It" by Kool & the Gang

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  0930
Date:  02/27/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  10
Weeks:  17
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The band's album "Something Special" didn't get off to a great start at pop with "Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)" hitting #17 and the follow-up "Steppin' Out" barely making the chart at #89. Two weeks after "Steppin' Out" debuted, it seemed the label knew they needed a better song to revive the album. This third single was rushed out and it did indeed help as it became the album's biggest hit and the group's sixth Top 10 gold record. The single helped push the LP to platinum status.

ReduxReview:  While the previous two singles were good, this one easily eclipses them. Why this wasn't issued as the first single is a true mystery. It is catchy and memorable with a cool groove and nice horn pops. This is what I expect from this era of the band.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 2012, Kool & the Gang set out on tour as the opening act for...Van Halen? Yup. David Lee Roth caught the band's show the previous year at the Glastonbury Festival and loved them. He then pursued getting them as the opener on Van Halen's reunion tour. The odd pairing proved to be successful and returned Kool & the Gang to the spotlight.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Memories of Days Gone By" by Fred Parris & the Five Satins

Song#:  0929
Date:  02/27/1982
Debut:  89
Peak:  71
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The medley craze had all sorts of acts coming out of the woodwork to cash in on the fad. Producer Marty Markiewicz was no exception and his idea for a medley involved his old friend Fred Parris, who was still performing around with a version of his doo-wop group The Five Satins. The Five Satins had a hit in 1956 with "In the Still of the Nite" (#3 R&B, #24 pop), which was written by Parris. Markiewicz thought a medley of classic tunes from the era with the vocal group would work. He arranged the song, got the group in the studio, and got this single issued. Although not a major hit in any way, the song got Parris and the Satins on the chart one last time.

ReduxReview:  You know, I think you could easily torture someone and make them talk just by locking them in a room and playing all these medleys one after the other for hours on end. I was ready to spill the beans just after one listen to this! Oh how I wish I could say this was the last one, but I know it's not. Someone help...please! As Cartman might say, "Nuuh...muuh...mehhhhdleeeeezzzz!"

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  The Five Satins' "In the Still of the Nite" remains the only song to have charted three different times with the same artist and recording. The song initially reached #24 in 1956, then it charted again in 1960 reaching #81, and once again in 1961 where it appeared for a week at #99. A few other artists have reached the chart with the song, but the only artist to have a Top 10 pop hit with it was Boyz II Men. Their a cappella version reached #3 in 1992.