Saturday, August 16, 2014

"I'll Try Something New" by A Taste of Honey

Song#:  0949
Date:  03/13/1982
Debut:  80
Peak:  41
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Trimmed to a female duo, A Taste of Honey scored a major hit the previous year with the #3 remake of "Sukiyaki." For the lead single from their follow-up LP, "Ladies of the Eighties," they chose another cover tune and treated it with an arrangement similar to what they did for "Sukiyaki." The results were not quite as good with the song petering out at the unfortunate #41 position. It fared better at R&B reaching #9, but it would be their last R&B Top 10 and their final pop chart entry. After one more minor single from the album, the ladies called it quits and moved on to individual careers.

ReduxReview:  I guess if a sound worked for you one time, why not try it again? It's actually not too bad. The drawback is that the song itself is not one of Smokey Robinson's best (see below). It lacks a real direct chorus which the Supremes/Temptations remake seemed to try and address. A Taste of Honey reverts back towards the original and it moves along nicely, but it's just not a song that sticks in your head. However, it's probably the best version of the song.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song penned by Smokey Robinson was a chart entry in 1962 for The Miracles reaching #39 (#11 R&B). A version by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations did a bit better in 1969 hitting #25 #8 R&B).


Friday, August 15, 2014

"If I Had My Wish Tonight" by David Lasley

Song#:  0948
Date:  03/13/1982
Debut:  82
Peak:  36
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  While his name may not be familiar, most everyone has heard David Lasley's songs and voice. In the 70s, Lasley was a prolific songwriter and background vocalist beginning in the 70s. He sang on hundreds of recordings by major artists like Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Cher, Chic, and most notably James Taylor. Lasley spent many years touring with Taylor and has provided vocals on most all of his albums since 1979's "Flag." Lasley got his own chance at a solo career when he became the third artist signed by David Geffen for the Geffen label (after Donna Summer and Elton John). His first album for Geffen, "Missin' Twenty Grand," got great critical reaction and this first single reached the Top 40. Unfortunately, it would be his only chart song and after one more LP, he was dropped from Geffen.

ReduxReview:  Strangely, Lasley didn't write this one. It's a Dave Loggins/Randy Goodrum tune that fits Lasley and his soulful falsetto well. But as pleasant as the song is to hear, I don't think it is that strong of a single. It's really Lasley's voice that makes this song. If anyone else had sung it, chances are it would be a pretty bland album cut. Although I appreciate and admire Lasley's voice, I'm not sure if I could listen to it for a full album. I think it could get grating. However, as proved by his long-standing career, it's perfect to back other artists.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Lasley's songs have been recorded by numerous high-profile artists. He has had more chart success as a writer (or co-writer) than a solo artist with songs like "Lead Me On" by Maxine Nightingale (#5, 1979) and "JoJo" by Boz Scaggs (#17, 1980) leading the way.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

"On a Carousel" by Glass Moon

Song#:  0947
Date:  03/13/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  50
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Developed in the 70s as a prog rock band, this Raleigh, NC, outfit changed to a more commercial pop/rock sound when they signed to Radio Records in 1978. Their self-titled debut album did very little business, but it was enough to call for a second LP. "Growing in the Dark" was issued and this first single became their one and only chart entry. After a change of personnel, the group put out a third album that went nowhere. They called it a day a couple years later.

ReduxReview:  This is one of my absolute favorite Hollies tunes (see below). Their unhinged version is exciting and awesome. So for me, any cover is going to pale in comparison. On this one, I'll give points for changing up the song and not just rehashing the original. But I'm not sure I really like it. When the drums/guitars first enter, it had me thinking this would rock out and it sounded good. But when the chorus hits, all that goes away in favor of a cheap keyboard line. It ends up sounding like a weak Cars cover. Their version is tolerable, but it's got nothing on the original.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a 1967 song by The Hollies. Their original version reached the dreaded #11 spot. However, it did better in their UK homeland hitting #4.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Lonely Nights" by Bryan Adams

Song#:  0946
Date:  03/13/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  84
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Canadian Adams was playing in bands and on his own since his early teens. By the time he was 18, he had signed on to A&M Records and released a self-titled debut album. It did some business in Canada, but was ignored in the US. He got a little recognition here when this single from his second album became a #3 mainstream rock hit. That pushed the song onto the lower reaches of the pop chart for a couple of weeks making it his first appearance. It was a good introduction that would lead to a major breakthrough with his third album.

ReduxReview:  Adams and his writing partner Jim Vallance were just starting to really get the hang of writing solid, hooky, radio-ready pop/rock songs around this time. This one was a good effort that reminds me of something John Mellencamp might have done back in his early John Cougar days. Adam would go on to do far better than this, but this was not a bad single to get his US career kicked off.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  When he was 15, Adams fronted the glam rock band Sweeney Todd. The group had already issued a debut album with original lead vocalist Nick Gilder and got a minor chart entry with "Roxy Roller" in 1976 (#90). After that album, Gilder left for a solo career (later hitting in 1978 with the #1 "Hot Child in the City"). Their first replacement vocalist didn't work out and in stepped the teenaged Adams. He and the band re-recorded "Roxy Roller" (which spent 1 week on the chart at #99) and then went on to do the full album "If Wishes Were Horses." The LP tanked and after a short year in the group, Adams left. The group tried to keep going but fell apart soon after.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Sad Girl" by GQ

Song#:  0945
Date:  03/13/1982
Debut:  93
Peak:  93
Weeks:  2
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This Bronx quartet released a funk album in 1976 as The Rhythm Makers, but changed their sound and name when they signed with Arista. As GQ, they moved towards disco and scored right off the bat with 1979's "Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)," a #12 pop/#1 R&B gold record hit. Three more R&B Top 10's followed, but by the time their third album, "Face to Face," came out, the quartet was a trio and this single became their last to hit both the pop and R&B chart.

ReduxReview:  Moving away from disco, the trio comes up with this retro-ish R&B tune that is not too bad. It's kind of bland though and even after hearing it a few times it slipped right out of my head. It's okay for a listen, but ultimately forgettable.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Group member Keith "Sabu" Crier is the uncle of R&B/New Jack star Keith Sweat. Sweat's 1987 debut solo album featured the #1 R&B hit "I Want Her" (#5 pop).


Monday, August 11, 2014

"If I Could Get You (Into My Life)" by Gene Cotton

Song#:  0944
Date:  03/13/1982
Debut:  96
Peak:  76
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Singer/Songwriter

Pop Bits:  Cotton had some minor success in the late 70s, but with a sound that bordered on several genres (pop, country, folk), his music seemed to have difficulty fitting into any of the radio formats, causing a lack of support. His best effort came in 1978 with his album "Save the Dancer," which spawned three Top 40 entries, the best being the #23 "Before My Heart Finds Out." His follow-up LPs didn't fare well and this single from his "Eclispe of the Blue Moon" album became his final chart entry.

ReduxReview:  Cotton's album "Save the Dancer" has slowly crept up my list of all-time favorites. It's a terrific pop album with a title track that should not be missed. It also includes "You're a Part of Me," his duet with Kim Carnes that was her very first pop chart entry in 1978 (#36). Actually, I think this song may feature background vocals by Carnes. I can't confirm it, but she has a distinct voice and it certainly sounds like her. This song is another solid entry by Cotton. I like his voice and he can pen a good tune. I need to get a couple of his old LPs at some point. They may not be as good as "Save the Dancer," but I'm sure there are a few great lost tracks on them.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Cotton ran for a seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2001. He was unsuccessful, but remains active in local issues and programs.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

"Don't Talk to Strangers" by Rick Springfield

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  0943
Date:  03/06/1982
Debut:  57
Peak:  2
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After the major success of "Jessie's Girl" and his album "Working Class Dog," Springfield needed to prove that the hits were no fluke. His matinee idol image, courtesy of the soap "General Hospital," had many questioning if his day job just caused his sudden music success. He answered with the album "Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet" and this first single, both of which rocketed to #2 on the charts. The song would also get Springfield another Grammy nod in the Best Pop Male Vocalist category.

ReduxReview:  Leaning more towards pop for this single, Springfield hits the right notes again. It's a very confident sounding song that was perfect in helping to solidify his music career. I don't think he could have had a better lead-off single for the album.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  With "Don't Talk to Strangers," Springfield basically recycled his own material. In 1978, Springfield recorded an album that ended up getting shelved. One of the songs recorded was "Spanish Eyes." Springfield took the melody from that song's verse and used it for "Don't Talk." A few of the other songs meant for the album were released on a 1984 cash-in album called "Beautiful Feelings" without Springfield's involvement (his old vocals set to new music). The original recordings finally got to see the light of day on the 2007 album "The Early Sound City Sessions."