Saturday, November 1, 2014

"If You Want My Love" by Cheap Trick

Song#:  1060
Date:  06/05/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  45
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  In the two years following their 1980 George Martin-produced LP "All Shook Up," Cheap Trick and their label CBS were not getting along. CBS sued the band and its manager claiming they were withholding the release of any new material as a contract-negotiating tactic. Cheap Trick filed their own suit saying CBS breached the contract with the band, thus making it void and the band could leave the label. The mess would finally all get settled with the band remaining on the label and finally issuing the follow-up album "One on One," this time produced by Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, The Cars). This first Beatle-esque tune did as well as their previous couple singles and peaked just outside of the Top 40. It was enough to help the album get a gold certification.

ReduxReview:  I find it strange that their previous album was produced by George Martin, but then this new single (not produced by Martin) plays like a Beatles tribute. With all the Beatles nostalgia going on at the time with Stars on 45 "Medley" and "The Beatles Movie Medley," I'm a little surprised this didn't do better. It has an odd tempo - not quite a ballad, not quite a rocker - which may not have connected well at pop. The chorus is solid and the Beatles references are pretty sweet. This one got overlooked.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before becoming Cheap Trick, Rick Nielsen formed the band Fuse, which included future CT member Tom Petersson (who left the group prior to the "One on One" LP). Fuse was signed to Epic Records in 1969 and released a debut album the following year. Nothing came of the LP and after a name change to Sick Man of Europe, the band eventually evolved into Cheap Trick in 1973.


Friday, October 31, 2014

"Hooked on Swing" by Larry Elgart and His Manhattan Swing Orchestra

Song#:  1059
Date:  06/05/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  31
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Easy Listening, Pop

Pop Bits:  The medley single "Hooked on Big Bands" (#61) by the Frank Barber Orchestra was still on the chart when this similar-themed tune made its debut. With the backing of the K-Tel label, which got on board the melody train with the #10 "Hooked on Classics," this title had more promotion available and it got into the pop Top 30 (#20 AC). Working as a musician and bandleader in the 40s, Elgart had first-hand knowledge of the material. He was tapped by K-Tel/RCA to get involved with the medley craze and with solid support from the label, Elgart produced and recorded several medleys that would make up the "Hooked on Swing" album. This single got a lot of attention and sales were great. A second volume would be issued, but by then the medley craze was over and so was Elgart's "hooked" phase. This would be his only pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  Well, at least this one sounds more alive than the dull Frank Barber medley. Other than that, there is not much here to recommend. The strict hand-clapped tempo kills songs like "Sing, Sing, Sing," however, the overall arrangements are pretty good despite having to conform to a specific beat. I believe I've said before, if these dorky singles introduce younger ears to this kind of music and they seek out the real deal, then having these around ain't so awful. But to just listen to them...I'll pass. I'm hooked on the originals.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Larry's brother Les was also a musician and bandleader. The two formed their own band early on in their careers, but it was not a successful venture and they went back to performing as sidemen with other bands. Then in 1954, the brothers signed to Columbia and began to use their own recording the technique that produced the "Elgart sound." This proved popular and the brothers released a string of successful albums throughout the 50s and 60s. Each brother also recorded their own solo projects. Les was able to get a minor hit along the way reaching #56 on the pop chart in 1956 with "Main Title - Golden Arm," the theme from the film "The Man with the Golden Arm." However, their most enduring legacy may be via a TV dance/music show. Their recording of "Bandstand Boogie" served as the theme song to "American Bandstand" throughout the late-50s and 60s.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Street Corner" by Ashford & Simpson

Song#:  1058
Date:  06/05/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  56
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This husband and wife duo were major stars behind the scenes before securing their own hits. As songwriters, they are responsible for Motown classics like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," and "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)." The duo signed on to Warner Bros. in 1973 and began a streak of low-peaking R&B singles. They finally broke through to the R&B Top 10 in 1978 with "Don't Cost You Nothing" (#10 R&B, #79 pop). Along the way, they kept writing for other artists and scored with major hits like Chaka Kahn's 1978 "I'm Every Woman" (#1 R&B, #21 pop). By the time the 80s arrived, they already had their first #1 R&B album and amassed three gold record. However, their first two albums of the new decade didn't perform as well, so they moved over to Capitol and got a fresh start with their tenth LP "Street Opera." This first single got them to #9 at R&B and onto the pop chart for the fourth time.

ReduxReview:  I've often felt that the duo doled out their best songs to other artists. With a few exceptions, I don't find their own recordings very interesting. But they were most likely writing what they really wanted for themselves, which is different from being a staff writer who has to come up with hits. But they could have at least saved a couple to promote their own career. This funky jam certainly wasn't one of them. It motors along fine, but it just doesn't go anywhere. They are far better writers than what this demonstrates.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  "Street Opera" was the duo's attempt at a concept album. The whole of side two consisted of a suite of songs that focused on a relationship that gets strained by poverty. The song "Street Corner" is part 3 of the suite.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Soup for One" by Chic

Song#:  1057
Date:  06/05/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  80
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Chic's fortunes certainly spiraled down with the disco backlash. Their first album of the 80s, "Real People," couldn't muster any support with its two main singles faltering on the charts. Their next LP, "Take It Off," did even worse with no singles reaching the pop chart. However, they were able to get one more entry onto the pop chart with this soundtrack single (see below). Although it was able to reach #14 at R&B, on the pop chart it became the lowest peaking single of their career. Unfortunately, it was also their last. After two more unsuccessful LPs, the group would finally call it a day. But by then, Rodgers and Edwards had established themselves as successful producers and each would go on to produce hits by major artists like David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, and the Thompson Twins.

ReduxReview:  Rodgers and Edwards have done a lot of great work with Chic and other artists. Unfortunately, this song is not among them. The lazy groove and the drowsy, staccato delivery is quite boring monotonous. I'm not sure if this was meant to be a dance song or not, but if so, it may be the only tune that could lull dancers into a sleepy trance. But I'm sure they did what they could with the awful film title. I mean, it ain't easy to put the word "soup" in a song, let alone make it the title and get it into the chorus. So I can give 'em points for that, but this little entree is just not tasty.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This song was written for the 1982 film "Soup for One." Rodgers and Edwards were tapped to do the soundtrack. In addition to this title track performed by Chic, they wrote four other new tunes, one of which was performed by Carly Simon ("Why," #74 pop) and another by Teddy Pendergrass. The romantic comedy was not a box office hit, which didn't bode well for the soundtrack. It peaked at a lowly #168 (#42 R&B).


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"I Really Don't Need No Light" by Jeffery Osborne

Song#:  1056
Date:  06/05/1982
Debut:  88
Peak:  39
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Osborne had already experienced success as lead singer of the group L.T.D. That group scored three R&B #1's in the late 70s including "(Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again" (#4 pop, 1977). By 1980, Osborne was ready for a solo venture and left the group. His self-titled debut was produced by Jazz/R&B star George Duke and featured contributions from top-notch musicians like Larry Graham and Michael Sembello. This single would become his first pop Top 40 entry while going to #3 on the R&B chart.

ReduxReview:  Osborne has such a great voice. It can be booming and commanding, yet turn tender and sexy on a dime. This first solo single tends towards the latter with its sultry groove. Although they ate it up at R&B, pop was a little resistant. It should have done a bit better but may not have been hooky enough to make headway at pop radio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Osborne began his career with L.T.D. as their drummer and later moved into the role of lead vocalist. Osborne comes from a musical family (father was a jazz trumpeter) and his brother Billy was also a member of L.T.D. Billy also left L.T.D. for a solo career right around the same time as Jeffrey.


Monday, October 27, 2014

"How Can You Love Me" by Ambrosia

Song#:  1055
Date:  06/05/1982
Debut:  89
Peak:  86
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Ambrosia were doing quite well with the soft rock sound they changed to in the late 70s. A pair of #3's with "How Much I Feel" and "Biggest Part of Me" kept the band on a roll. But for their fifth album, "Rock Island," they scrapped the soft rock and retreated back to their earlier rock/prog rock roots. The change was not well-received with this single tanking and the LP becoming their lowest peaking on the chart (#115). In the aftermath, the group disbanded.

ReduxReview:  Anyone expecting a groovy, soft rock tune here got a big surprise. This mix of Alan Parsons Project with a little Doobie Brothers sounds nothing like Ambrosia's major hits. A change-up in sound can work for some artists, but for this group it may have been too significant of a change. Record buyers dropped the hammer and said "no thanks." It's a little unfortunate as this is a good, charging song. But I can understand that those that swoon over tunes like "Biggest Part of Me" would probably not be into the prog-rock epic "Ice Age" from the LP. For me, I like Ambrosia's more prog-rock stuff. Skip the hits and listen to their adventurous Alan Parsons-produced 1976 album "Somewhere I've Never Traveled."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Around this time, a member of Ambrosia's touring band left and was replaced by session musician Bruce Hornsby. Later in 1984, Hornsby formed his own band called The Range, which included Ambrosia founding member Joe Puerta.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Paperlate" by Genesis

Song#:  1054
Date:  06/05/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  32
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  To follow-up their most successful US album to date, "Abacab" (#7), the band decided to push out a double LP titled "Three Sides Live." It was titled as such because the first three sides were all culled from their live concerts while the fourth side consisted of five studio tracks. Three of the studio tracks were unreleased songs from the "Abacab" sessions while the remaining two were b-sides used on singles from their 1980 "Duke" LP. This first single was one of the unreleased songs and like their previous "Abacab" single "No Reply At All" (#29), it utilizes the horn section from Earth, Wind & Fire. It peaked just outside the Top 30, but that was enough to get the double-LP to #10 and reach gold status.

ReduxReview:  This song kind of completes a Phil Collins/EWF trilogy that began with his solo hit "I Missed Again" (#19), continued with "No Reply At All," and finally this song. This is a side of Collins that I love and it is only matched by his dark, brooding tunes like "In the Air Tonight." Both he and Genesis would kind of lose me in their later more commercial-friendly years, but at least I can always go back to this period.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In the UK, this song plus the other two unreleased tracks were issued on an EP titled "3x3." However, due to the lack of a marked for EPs in the US, it was not issued here. Instead, the label used them for the "Three Sides Live" LP and released that in the US instead. Back in the UK, since most of the side 4 songs had already been release there on "3x3," the label decided to fill side four with leftover live tracks. The LP retained its title even though it really was four-sides live.  2) The song's odd title was actually picked up from another Genesis tune. The 1973 song "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" contained the line "Paper late, cried a voice in the crowd." The phrase "paper late" is an English term used by street corner paperboys who were hawking the evening (or "late") edition of the paper. Apparently, Phil Collins was riffing during the creation of the song and just started singing "paper late." The improvised phrase stuck. It wasn't the first or last time Collins would do this ("Sussudio" anyone?).