Saturday, November 29, 2014

"I Ran (So Far Away)" by A Flock of Seagulls

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  1094
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  9
Weeks:  22
Genre:  New Wave



Pop Bits:  UK brothers Mike and Ali Score formed a band that would rehearse in a space above Mike's hair salon. After getting some experience working the clubs and recording a couple of songs, the band got the attention of Jive Records. Their first single from their self-titled debut, "Telecommunication," got some attention and went to #19 on the US dance chart, but otherwise if failed to do any real business. However, this second single and its accompanying video hit the right new wave mark and it flew into the US Top 10. The success pushed the album to #10 and it would eventually be certified gold. The song wasn't such a hit in their homeland where it petered out at #43. Although they would actually have three other lower-charting songs, this one major hit got them saddled with being a One-Hit Wonder. This song was placed at #2 on VH1's Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  The song and band were so intriguing at the time. From their look to their sound, it was all so other-worldly, which fit in perfect with the alien abduction concept of their debut LP. The were mocked and liked at the same time. Critics were basically kind yet a lot of music fans thought they were all flash and no substance - a typical sentiment of the time thanks to MTV and synthpop. For me, I loved it. The songs dark, droning groove really hooked me. Love it or loath it, the song became an 80s staple and a classic from the period reflecting a lot of the decades sound and look.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The Seagulls are mostly know for this song and Mike Score's distinctive brushed-back hair that basically gave him seagull-ish wings. His original career as a hairdresser certainly came in handy when it came to developing the band's image.  2) Their name comes from a line in a song by the UK punk band The Stranglers. Their song "Toiler on the Sea," from their 1978 LP "Black and White," contains the lines "Fought with aliens, the young ones used their hands, pointed their way to a flock, a flock of seagulls, a flock of seagulls!"

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Friday, November 28, 2014

"Mega Force" by 707

Song#:  1093
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  62
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  707's debut album contained their first chart entry, "I Could Be Good for You" (#52), but the LP failed to chart. Momentum allowed their follow-up album to hit the lower regions of the chart, but the singles failed. They needed a boost and a move to Boardwalk Records would help the band. Their third album, "Mega Force," was their best charting effort reaching #129. It was helped along by this title-track single that reached #13 on the Mainstream Rock chart. It should have been a stepping stone to more success, but the group ended up disbanding after touring with top bands like REO Speedwagon and Loverboy. If the singer seems different from their previous chart single, he is. Prior to the "Mega Force" album, the band members traded lead vocals for specific songs. However, their new label thought a distinct lead vocalist was needed and they hired Kevin Chalfont to front the band.

ReduxReview:  This has a real Journey flavor to it with a little Survivor tossed in. Even their new vocalist sounds like by-product of a Steve Perry/Dave Bickler union. It's a rockin' tune that seems appropriate for an action film (see below). Although "Mega Force" seems like a cool title, it kind sounds like "mad divorce" when he sings it. The get definite points for rockin' this out though.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song also served as the theme to the 1982 film "Megaforce" that starred Barry Bostwick. The film was not a success and got nominated for several Razzies including Worst Picture.  2) This song was co-written by Jonathan Cain, who was riding high with Journey at the time. After 707 broke up, member Tod Howarth worked with Kiss member Ace Frehley. For Frehley's 1987 solo album "Frehley's Comet," this song was revived with a new set of lyrics and titled "Calling to You." Because Cain had only supplied lyrics to the original song, his credit was removed and Frehley's name added for the new lyrics.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Outlaw" by War

Song#:  1092
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  99
Peak:  94
Weeks:  3
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Technically, this is the third single from their album "Outlaw." Before signing to RCA, the band released a one-off single titled "Cinco de Mayo," which reached #90 on the R&B chart. The track got included on "Outlaw" with the second single then being "You Got the Power" (#66 pop, #18 R&B). This title-track couldn't muster up much support at pop and it was a virtual blip near the bottom of the chart. It would also be their final pop chart entry. However, it did well at R&B reaching #13.

ReduxReview:  This pretty much sounds just like...War. In fact, it almost sounds like a sequel to "Low Rider." It has that same feel, but just not as good. Really, it's not a bad single at all and probably better than anything they had done for a few years. Despite it sounding a little stuck in the 70s, it deserved a better fate than a few measly weeks on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The "Outlaw" album contained seven tracks. Three of the tracks were released as proper RCA singles with three of the other album tracks serving as b-sides. The last track remaining was "Baby It's Cold Outside," which was an original and not a cover of the famous Frank Loesser tune written in 1944. War's song was issued as a promo single to radio stations for the holidays. That basically means that all songs from the album were issued as or on a single.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Love Will Turn You Around" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  1091
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  55
Peak:  13
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Country Crossover, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Rogers was a major star when the 80s started and along the way he dabbled in acting, which included two successful TV movies based on his #1 country songs "The Gambler" (#16 pop, 1978) and "Coward of the County" (#3 pop, 1979). So why not try to lead a major motion picture? His attempt was the film "Six Pack," a NASCAR-themed comedy/drama where a single (non-singing) Rogers befriends a small bunch of orphans, finds the right girlfriend, and finally succeeds at racing. Critically, it was met with a lot of "eh's" and the public basically agreed with the film only grossing $20 million. However, it seemed the movies were not the place for Rogers and it became his only film credit. He continued to make TV movies though and would star in three sequels to "The Gambler." This song served as the theme to "Six Pack" and was the title track to his latest album. It reached #1 at country and AC while just missing out on the pop Top 10. It would also earn him a Grammy nod for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.

ReduxReview:  Yeah, it was probably smart he mainly stayed with singing. He did well with "The Gambler" movies, but "Six Pack" revealed he was not going to be a major thespian anytime soon. At least the movie gave us a good theme song. The relaxed country vibe and Rogers subdued performance makes it one of his better singles from the 80s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although "Six Pack" wasn't a hit film, someone thought it a good idea to make a TV show out of it. A pilot was made in 1983 that starred a pre-"Miami Vice" Don Johnson in the Rogers role and Markie Post as his girlfriend. Among the cast of kids was a young Joaquin Phoenix who at the time was going by the name Leaf Phoenix.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"I Think I'm in Love" by Eddie Money

Song#:  1090
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  66
Peak:  16
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After two platinum albums, Money's third LP "Playing for Keeps" served as a bump in the road for him and couldn't even muster gold status. He regrouped and returned with "No Control" and this first single got him back in the Top 20 for the first time since is debut single "Baby Hold On" in 1978 (#11). It helped to get his album in the Top 20 and return him to platinum status.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure why I didn't hook into this tune more back in the day. It's a terrific song with a really good sing-along rock chorus. He would have bigger hits, but I think this is one of his best tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was quite popular on MTV. It had a storyline that includes Money portraying a vampire in an old castle where unexpected visitors arrive. At a time when music videos were still being made on the cheap, the production value on this one was pretty good and still holds up. But it's a far cry from the high-dollar videos that would take over MTV later in the 80s and 90s.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

"Vacation" by The Go-Go's

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1089
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  67
Peak:  8
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Go-Go's made a huge splash with their mulit-platinum #1 album "Beauty and the Beat" and gold #2 single "We Got the Beat." They quickly followed both up with a new LP and single titled "Vacation." Both the single and album reached their respective Top 10's, but neither were smashes on the scale of their previous efforts. Nevertheless, the album went gold and the single still gets a lot of airplay each summer. The album's packaging, which depicted the band in a water skiing show, received a Grammy nod for Best Packaging.

ReduxReview:  I was in full Go-Go mode when this came out. I was adding to my scrapbook left and right with photos and articles (which I still have). A big ad for this album graced the cover. The album did not disappoint and this single was a big fave and I think both still hold up. "Beauty and the Beat" is the real classic, but "Vacation" was actually more fun.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Cassettes were still in fashion as the decade started and a new format sprung up for a short period. The cassette single, or cassingle, popped up as an alternative to a vinyl 45. And with the introduction of devices like Sony's Walkman, they became quite popular. In the UK, the cassingle was already around with the first one issued in 1980 (Bow Wow Wow's "C30, C60, C90, Go!"). It took a couple of years before the US gave it a whirl and The Go-Go's "Vacation" was the first cassingle offered for sale.  2) This is a reworking of the song "Vacation" first done by The Textones, Go-Go Kathy Valentine's previous band. It appeared on that band's EP "I Can't Fight It" in 1980 prior to Valentine joining The Go-Go's.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Hot in the City" by Billy Idol

Song#:  1089
Date:  07/03/1982
Debut:  77
Peak:  23
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Idol first had success with the UK punk band Generation X. Unlike most punk bands, they found inspiration in the music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and British pop. With Idol as lead vocalist, they issued a few successful LPs and singles in the UK. After their breakup, Idol moved to the US to pursue a solo career. He issued an EP titled "Don't Stop" that featured a remixed version of the Gen X song "Dancing with Myself." The song's video was a popular MTV staple, but the single was unable to reach the pop chart. However, the EP was successful and it lead to his formal self-title debut album. This first single made the Top 30 and the album would eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  I definitely gave this one a thumbs-down back then. It played like an annoyingly loud Springsteen track sung by a 2-pack-a-day, snotty, bad-boy singer. I've relented since then and I can appreciate it more now. I was never a huge Idol fan, but he did have some tasty hits in the 80s. I think folks kind of ignore this one in his catalog, but it plays well right alongside his bigger hits.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Idol's given name is William Michael Albert Broad. He got his stage name from a school teacher who would describe the young man as "idle." Initially, he wanted to go by Billy I.D.L.E., but thought that it might cause issues with Monty Python's Eric Idle. He then changed it to Idol and a rocker was born.

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