Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Caught Up in You" by 38 Special

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1011
Date:  05/01/1982
Debut:  82
Peak:  10
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  Each of this band's albums successively did better on the chart as their popularity increased. Their fifth album, "Special Forces," would continue the trend and become their best charting LP peaking at #10. It did well thanks to this single that became their first Top 10 hit and first #1 rock track.

ReduxReview:   This song continues their trend to be more radio-friendly and it paid off big time. It's easily their best single and deserving of its Top 10 showing. Although they would continue to be successful, this was their peak moment. This has one of those misheard lyrics in it for me. In the chorus after he sings "I never wanna get myself free," he then sings "And baby it's true." However, I always heard it as "Aunt Bea it's true," like Aunt Bea from The Andy Griffith Show. You are welcome - now I've ruined that part of the song for you...

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Founding member Don Barnes sang lead on most of the band's hits including this song. He would leave the group in 1987 and embark on a solo career. Signing with A&M Records, Barnes recorded the album "Ride the Storm." Unfortunately, it came at the time when the A&M label was sold. The transaction left Barnes' album on the shelf and it remains unreleased. He returned to 38 Special in 1992.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

"Fool for Your Love" by Jimmy Hall

Song#:  1010
Date:  05/01/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  77
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Former Wet Willie lead singer Hall had a moderately successful debut solo album in 1980 that featured the #27 "I'm Happy That Love Has Found You." After a move to Nashville, Hall finally issued a follow-up album titled "Cadillac Tracks." This first single couldn't really get off the ground and it became his final pop chart single.

ReduxReview:   In my opinion, Hall should have been more popular. His vocals were terrific and fit perfectly with the jazzy-blues pop/rock songs he did. It may have just come down to timing as this type of music was winding down in favor of the new genres of the decade. Or perhaps Hall was suffered from the lack of promotion. Whatever the case, I think he had great potential to be a real music star but he just didn't click for some reason.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Written by Leo Sayer and Michael Omartian, this song first appeared on Sayer's 1977 album "Thunder in My Heart." It was not released as a single. In 1980, Dolly Parton covered the song and included it on her album "Dolly, Dolly, Dolly.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Just Another Day in Paradise" by Bertie Higgins

Song#:  1009
Date:  05/01/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  46
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  After many years in the music biz, Higgins finally scored a hit with the gold record "Key Largo" (#8 pop, #1 AC). He followed it up with this title-track single to his album "Just Another Day in Paradise." Although it reached the AC Top 10 (#10), the song was unable to push into the pop Top 40 and it would be his last pop chart entry. Higgins would record a follow-up album, but without a significant hit, the album failed to chart. He would record several more albums over the years and continue to do tours and appearances with his group The Band of Pirates.

ReduxReview:  This must have been a hit on our local station as I remember this song quite well even though it didn't reach the Top 40. Higgins kind of comes off like a minor league version of Jimmy Buffett here, but it works fine for him. Higgins played up the whole island-paradise angle with his songs and personna and made a pretty decent career of it. He would revisit the movie tie-ins as well with tunes like "Casablanca" and "Gone with the Wind." This song deserved to do a bit better, but seems like most folks had enough after "Key Largo."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Higgins' great-great grandfather was German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Famous for his play "Faust," Goethe became hugely popular after the publication of his first book "The Sorrows of Young Werther" (1774). The book was a sensation and is considered by some historians as literature's the first "best-seller."

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"Put Away Your Love" by Alessi

Song#:  1008
Date:  05/01/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  71
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Alessi is a duo consisting of twins Billy and Bobby Alessi. The singer/songwriters signed with A&M and released four albums for the label beginning with a self-titled debut in 1977. Although the LPs were not successful in the US, they did have some luck overseas. The song "Oh Lori" from their debut album was a UK hit reaching #8. After leaving A&M, the duo recorded a demo that found its way to Quincy Jones. He signed them to his new Qwest label and with Christopher Cross co-producing (in addition to singing on one track), Alessi issued the LP "Long Time Friends." This single got them on the US chart for the first (and only) time.

ReduxReview:  This ended up very Christopher Cross-lite. Even the vocals sound similar (and for someone who doesn't particularly like Cross' voice, that is not good). The production is quite weak with an AM-lite sheen complete with chirpy keyboard sounds. It's an okay song that's a bit too wispy/wimpy to standout on radio.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After their chart time was over, the brothers went on to arrange and produce for many major artists including Paul McCartney, Olivia Newton-John, and Deborah Gibson. They also had a very successful career writing commercial jingles for companies like Ford, Greyhound, JC Penny, and McDonalds. Bobby spent 14 years heading up the ads for Diet Coke.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Forget Me Nots" by Patrice Rushen

Song#:  1007
Date:  05/01/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  23
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  Rushen moved even further away from her jazz roots with her LP "Straight from the Heart." Mainly featuring slick dance and R&B tunes tinged with jazz-pop, it became her most successful album thanks to this lead-off track. Although it only made the pop Top 30, it reached #4 at R&B and was a significant hit on the dance chart going to #2. The song got Rushen a Grammy nod for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, while an instrumental track from the album, "Number One," received a nomination for Best R&B Instrumental Performance. This song would be her biggest hit on the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Here is a song that has really outlived its initial chart showing. I've always been surprised that this did not go Top 10. It's a terrific track with a very memorable chorus and some really tasty bass work courtesy the song's co-writer, Freddie Washington. I also think this song still works. Although there are some 80s sounds to it, it doesn't fully sound stuck in the decade.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The sax solo was done by Gerald Albright. The jazz musician would strike out on his own later in the 80s and release a string of successful jazz LPs.  2) This song has been sampled many times and was part of two significant hits in the 90s. The song can be heard in the 1996 George Michael single "Fastlove" (#8), but it was more prominently used the following year in Will Smith's #1 "Men in Black" soundtrack single. Another track on Rushen's LP, "Remind Me," was not selected as a single, but it has also been sampled by many artists including Faith Evans ("Fallin' in Love," 1995) and Notorious B.I.G. ("Unbelievable," 1994).

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"Baby Come to Me" by Patti Austin with James Ingram

Song#:  1006
Date:  04/24/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  73
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Okay, you may see the peak above and thing "hey, wasn't this a big hit?" The answer is yes, but just not right now. Austin's title track single to her album "Every Home Should Have One" recently became her first pop chart entry reaching #62. This song was selected as the next single from the LP and the duet initially didn't generate much attention. After four weeks it fell of the chart. That could have been it for the song, but later in the year a little soap opera called "General Hospital" (at the time one of the most popular shows on TV) began playing the song over romantic scenes of characters Luke and Laura. This generated interest in the song and Austin's label jumped on the opportunity and re-issued the single. It's second chart run was far more successful with the song climbing to #1 in 1983 (#9 R&B, #1 AC). The surprise hit was certainly a boost for Austin's career (and Ingram's as well), but she was never able to follow it up and it became her lone pop Top 40 hit.

ReduxReview:  I considered this a fairly bland R&B tune when it came out. I still don't think it's a fantastic song, but Austin and Ingram really make the most of the material and raise it to a higher level. Ingram especially adds extra oomph. I love near the end when he just yells "hey!" Dude was feelin' it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  If another voice seems familiar on this track, it most likely is. Doobie Brother Michael McDonald provided background vocals for this duet.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Hurt So Good" by John Cougar

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1005
Date:  04/24/1982
Debut:  82
Peak:  2
Weeks:  28
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  John (Cougar) Mellencamp's career was on the move with his previous LP hitting #37 and yielding the #17 single "Ain't Even Done with the Night." He was poised for a breakthrough and this first single from his "American Fool" album did the trick. The song spent four weeks in the #2 spot while the album vaulted to #1 for nine weeks. "American Fool" went on to be the best selling album of 1982 as well. Although this song was blocked from the #1 spot thanks to another huge hit (Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger"), it did set a record for the most weeks spent in the Top 10 in the 80s (16 weeks). The song won Mellencamp a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance while the LP grabbed a nomination for Album of the Year.

ReduxReview:  Here is another song that I couldn't stand back in the day but then turned around and loved it later. I just couldn't connect with it at first. The song had an amped-up Midwest roots-rock sound that was quite different from a lot of the standard pop fare and I just couldn't get into it. Even his look, persona, and attitude rubbed me the wrong way. It would take a few more years before his music finally clicked with me. When it did, he quickly became one of my all-time favorite artists. I may not have liked this song when it came out, but now it is an essential hit in his catalog and the one that truly launched is career.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Mellecamp's label, Riva, was not pleased with how "American Fool" was coming along in the recording process. It seemed the label was trying to paint him as the next Neil Diamond and the songs they were getting from Mellencamp were definitely not along the Diamond line. The recording of the album was halted in order for the label to make some decisions. Apparently, they discussed several potential fixes, including just dropping Mellencamp. But somehow, the label had a change of heart and allowed Mellencamp get the album finished. Figuring they had a bomb on their hands, the label certainly got a surprise when the LP soared to the top spot.

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"Beechwood 4-5789" by Carpenters

Song#:  1004
Date:  04/24/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  74
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  This fourth single from the duo's "Made in America" album made it the first time that they got four chart singles directly from one album. Although only one of the singles, "Touch Me When We're Dancing," had any real impact on the chart (#16), it was still an accomplishment for the group as they battled for relevancy in the new decade. Sadly, it would be their last album before Karen's death in early 1983 and this single would also be their final pop chart entry (#18 AC). As a duo, they would get two more AC chart entries via the posthumous LP "Voices of the Heart" including "Make Believe It's Your First Time" (#7). Despite critical drubbing during their career and their squeaky clean image, the Carpenters were beloved by many including several famous musicians who point specifically to Karen as an influence. Later revisits to their catalog have persuaded some critics to change their minds and their hits discs continue to sell. They truly were icons of the era.

ReduxReview:  This oldies style fit the due quite well and it's one of the few recordings where Karen really sounds like she's having fun. Like a lot of their catalog, it's her voice that really makes the tune. Otherwise, I'm not particularly fond of this song. I actually like it better than the original (see below), which I kind of find a little annoying, specifically with the backing vocals. Not a wonderful single to end on, but no one knew at the time it would be their last.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song by The Marvelettes. Their original, co-written by Marvin Gaye, reached #17 pop/#7 R&B in 1962. Gaye also played drums on the recording.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

"How Long" by Rod Stewart

Song#:  1003
Date:  04/24/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  49
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  After two successful singles from his "Tonight I'm Yours" album, including the #5 "Young Turks," Stewart issued this third single. It got into the Top 50, but couldn't move up much more than that. Although this mid-tempo ballad didn't register on the Mainstream Rock chart, two other songs from the LP did. "Tora Tora Tora (Out with the Boys)" reached #38 while "Jealous" hit #44.

ReduxReview:  Stewart beefed up this AM radio staple from the mid-70's (see below) and it proved to be a good fit for him. It's not outstanding in anyway, as accurately proven by the chart performance, but it's worthy of a listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of the #3 hit from 1975 by the group Ace. It was written by group member Paul Carrack, who would go on to have further success with Squeeze and as a solo artist.

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"Stone Cold" by Rainbow

Song#:  1002
Date:  04/24/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  40
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Ritchie Blackmore was still a member of Deep Purple when he set out to record some songs that the group had rejected (the ol' "creative differences"). He brought on board Ronnie James Dio and the pair hit it off personally and professionally. Using members of Dio's band Elf, they recorded the 1975 LP "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow." It was a success reaching #30 in the US and #11 in their UK homeland. Soon after the recording, Blackmore quit Deep Purple and officially formed Rainbow with Dio. Their success would continue but after three albums Dio left the band. Blackmore continued on taking the group in a more commercial direction. This didn't sit well with long time fans but the change resulted in successful singles for them in the UK. The US didn't jump on as quick, but this first single from their "Straight Between the Eyes" album landed them in the Top 40 and became a #1 rock track. It would be their best success in the US.

ReduxReview:  Yeah, this does leach into Foreigner territory and pretty much skips the mystical hard rock of their beginnings. This song takes a little bit to rev up and once it does it is not too bad. I don't think it is a particularly strong song, but if they were going for a commercial arena rock sound, they hit it pretty well.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Apparently Ritchie Blackmore was not the easiest person to get along with or to please. Throughout the Rainbow days, Blackmore would consistently fire and hire band members for one thing or another. Early on, Tony Carey was hired as a keyboardist. While on tour, Blackmore thought his playing was too complicated for the band and fired him after a show. Unable to find a replacement on short notice, Blackmore hired him back. But that didn't last too long as Carey was later sacked again. The revolving door of band members spun so much that each Rainbow studio album featured a different line-up.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Let It Whip" by Dazz Band

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1001
Date:  04/24/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  5
Weeks:  23
Genre:  R&B, Funk



Pop Bits:  This group was known as Kinsman Dazz when they signed to 20th Century Fox in 1978. Their debut album was to be produced by Marvin Gaye, but due to an illness he dropped out. Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire stepped in and helped with their self-titled debut and follow-up LP. The group then had a name change the Dazz Band and switched over to Motown. Their first two albums for the label didn't yield much in the way of hits, but their next LP, "Keep It Live," proved to be their breakthrough when this single reached #1 on the R&B chart. The album would also reach #1 at R&B and #14 pop. The song would also earn them a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  It was undeniably awesome funk songs like this that helped expand the genre over to the pop chart. Every now and then one would make some strides while so many other worthy ones couldn't get played. But thanks to classic songs like this, funky R&B was making some headway. But really, how could this one have gotten ignored? It's just too good.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Mike Calhoun was mainly responsible for the group's odd name. He thought the group's music should be "danceable jazz." That description was then shortened to "dazz." Around the same time, another funk group, Brick, focused their efforts on disco-jazz, or "dazz." They parlayed their version of the word into a hit single. "Dazz" was a #1 R&B/#3 pop hit for Brick in 1976.

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