Saturday, November 22, 2014

"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" by Jennifer Holliday

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1087
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  22
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Although Broadway cast albums were big sellers in the 50s and 60s, it became less so when the 80s arrived. Therefore, it was quite rare that a song direct from a cast album (not a cover version) would hit the charts. An exception came with this single from the cast album of "Dreamgirls." Holliday was cast in the role of Effie and this was the showstopper she sang in the musical. It was an unexpected hit that reached #1 on the R&B chart and almost cracked the pop Top 20. Holliday would win multiple awards for the show and this song including the Tony Award and a Grammy for Best R&B Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  Oh man, I remember hearing this song for the first time and wondering who the heck was singing it. You didn't hear this type of diva-ing on pop radio at the time so I was totally bowled over. It's not your standard pop song but it's a killer Broadway tune sung to the nth degree by Holliday. It's a rollercoaster ride with Holliday practically pushing it off the rails and it is thrilling. I wished I could have seen the show at the time. I'm sure she was amazing. The song has since become a staple of Broadway and diva wannabes since.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The role of Effie was originally created for Nell Carter, but when she got the offer to do her sitcom "Gimme a Break," the role went to Holliday. Initially, Holliday left the project because she didn't like the material and her character died in the first act. She came back, but when she did she discovered the role had significantly diminished, so she walked again. Finally, with rewrites to boost her character (and remain alive), Holliday returned and stayed in the role for almost four years.  2) The role would also bring a major award to another singer named Jennifer. American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson won the role of Effie for the 2006 film version. Hudson walked away with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.


Friday, November 21, 2014

"Eye in the Sky" by Alan Parsons Project

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1086
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  3
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  APP's "Turn of a Friendly Card" was a major success that spawned two Top 20 hits - "Games People Play" (#16) and "Time" (#15). Their follow-up would fare even better and become their best-selling studio LP. Both the album  "Eye in the Sky" and its title track single would become APP's first and only Top 10's with the album reaching #7 and the single #3. The album would receive a Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Recording.

ReduxReview:  I liked the Project before this came out, but one listen to this song and the album made me a devoted fan of the group. (I say group, but really it was just Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson with their guests.) Everything on this song approaches perfection from chugging rhythm to Woolfson's droning voice. While they may have done better work on their albums, this was their one shining pop moment. It's one of my favorites of the decade.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) APP's Eric Woolfson, who co-wrote and sang the song, has said that the tune's lyrical theme was based on him noticing all the hidden security cameras posted in casinos and shopping areas that monitor all the people.  2) On the album, this song has a prelude titled "Sirius." It has become just as recognizable as "Eye in the Sky" thanks to its use at many sporting events. Most famously, it was used in the 90s by the dominant Chicago Bulls basketball team. The tune was used during the introduction of the team members. At the time of its release, most pop radio stations just played the single version of "Eye in the Sky" while AOR stations would typically play the the full "Sirius/Eye in the Sky" album version.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Too Good to Turn Back Now" by Rick Bowles

Song#:  1085
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  77
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  This North Carolina native studied pre-med, but ended up an English major which helped his main focus - songwriting. He got picked up as a solo artist by Polydor and issued a debut album called "Free for the Evening. This first single got a little attention and spent a few weeks on the lower end of the chart. The following year, he readied his folllow-up for the label, but Polydor decided to cancel his deal instead. He got picked up by the Applause label and "No Man's Land" was released in 1984. It was his last solo LP.

ReduxReview:  If this song leaned towards country just a hair more, I could hear this being done by Eddie Rabbitt. It's a catchy, upbeat tune and it should have done a little better on the chart. I don't necessarily hear it as a smash hit, but it is certainly a quality song that unfortunately got ignored.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After his solo career fizzled, Bowles returned to songwriting and had good success in the country market. He co-wrote several #1 country hits that were performed by artists like  Earl Thomas Conley ("I Can't Win for Losing," 1986), Reba McEntire ("I Know How He Feels," 1988), Alabama ("Down Home," 1991), Lorrie Morgan ("I Didn't Know My Own Strength," 1996), and Bryan White ("Sittin' on Go," 1997).


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Words" by Missing Persons

Song#:  1084
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  42
Weeks:  11
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Formed in 1980, this L.A. band recorded and sold a self-titled EP while making a name for themselves as a live act. A couple of years later, Capitol Records signed them and re-issued the EP while the group readied their formal debut LP. The band was ready-made for the new MTV culture with their new wave sound and appearance, which included lead singer Dale Bozzio loaded with make-up, hairspray, and sci-fi getups. They issued "Spring Session M" and this first single became an early MTV favorite. Despite its popular video, the single just missed out on the pop Top 40. However, the LP was more successful reaching #17 and going gold.

ReduxReview:  On first go-round, I didn't connect with this group. Dale Bozzio's hiccuping style annoyed me and I didn't love the songs. However, they have grown on me over the years and I've gotten totally hooked on three of their singles including this one. They kind of get lumped into a batch of early new wave groups, but really, I'd consider them one of the forerunners of the genre from the US. The week this single debuted, Human League took over the #1 slot with "Don't You Want Me." Other Euro-synthpop/new wave groups were also gaining some ground while US artists were just beginning to plug in their synths. Missing Persons was one of a minor handful to start making some (new) waves. I don't think they or their album get enough credit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Four of the five original members of the band worked with Frank Zappa. Lead singer Dale Bozzio can be heard on four Zappa albums while her husband Terry played drums on many Zappa recordings (they actually met via their work with Zappa). Warren Cuccurullo played guitar in Zappa's band while Patrick O'Hearn played bass.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Enough Is Enough" by April Wine

Song#:  1083
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  50
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  April Wine took a bit of a break after "The Nature of the Beast," became their most successful album in the US. It was their second LP to go gold and it was helped along by the #21 showing of "Just Between You and Me." After their short hiatus, they returned with "Power Play." This first single faltered at the halfway mark on the pop chart while the album fizzled at #37 and failed to go gold. It was a disappointment following their previous successes.

ReduxReview:  This song starts out with some promising licks, but overall it ends up as a competent, yet bland, rock tune. There is nothing special about it or their performance. It sounds more like an album track than a single. If this was the best they had to offer from the LP, then I'm not shocked that record buyers ignored it.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The second single from the album was "Tell Me Why." The song would get to #46 on the Canadian chart (their home country), but fail to reach the US pop chart. The song is a cover of a Beatles original that appeared on their "A Hard Days Night" album. The original was an up-tempo tune written by John Lennon. April Wine turned it into a ballad for their cover version.


Monday, November 17, 2014

"Wasted on the Way" by Crosby, Stills & Nash

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1082
Date:  06/26/1982
Debut:  48
Peak:  9
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Soft Rock, Singer/Songwriter

Pop Bits:  It's hard to believe that this legendary trio had only released two studio album since their formation in 1968. Their 1969 self-titled, Grammy-winning debut became a classic and their 1977 LP "CSN" got them their first Top 10 hit with "Just a Song Before I Go" (#7). Although as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young they issued the classic "Déjà Vu" in 1970, it wouldn't be until 1982 that the original trio released their third studio album, "Daylight Again." Expectations were high for their return, but would their folk-rock harmonies fit in the changing 80s musical landscape? And would the younger generation care? This first single seemed to answer both questions with a resounding "yes." This first single would become their second (and last) pop Top 10 and reach #2 at AC. It was a welcome return that netted them another platinum disc.

ReduxReview:  This song is like covering up with a good ol' warm blanket that you've had since you were a kid. It's snuggly, comfortable, and just makes you happy and nostalgic. It was a great return for the trio. It would be short-lived, but it was pretty sweet while it lasted.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  "Daylight Again" was originally to be a project for Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. David Crosby had been dealing with addiction issued and so Stills and Nash decided to work as a duo. They recorded songs and used singers like Timothy B. Schmit (the Eagles) and Art Garfunkel to flesh out the harmonies. But their record company balked and would only have interest in a full CSN project. Eventually, Stills and Nash agreed and had Crosby come on board. Crosby brought two songs to the table and did vocals on other tracks, but overall the LP still leaned towards a Stills/Nash project. Schmit's vocals remained on several songs including this single.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Route 101" by Herb Alpert

Song#:  1081
Date:  06/26/1982
Debut:  71
Peak:  37
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Thanks in part to being featured on the soap "General Hospital," Alpert enjoyed a late-career #1 with the title-track to his 1979 album "Rise." His two follow-up LPs didn't make much impact, so Alpert returned to the Latin-esque sound of his earlier recordings with the Tijuana Brass and issued "Fandango." The album was received well and this first single returned him to the pop Top 40 and the AC Top 10 (#4). It would be Alpert's last instrumental single to reach the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  Combining his earlier Latin-based sound with the sophisticated AC of his later tracks paid off quite well. I liked "Rise," but thought it was a bit cheezy with the disco beat and hand claps. This song suits my style much better and I consider it one of his best singles.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Before his career began with the Tijuana Brass, Alpert wrote (or co-wrote) and produced songs for other artists. One song he co-wrote was Sam Cooke's 1960 hit "Wonderful World." The song reached #12 at pop and #2 R&B. Later generations may recognize the tune as the one being played during the start of the famous lunchroom scene in the 1978 film "Animal House."