Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash

Song#:  1101
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  92
Peak:  45
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After their tour de force LP "London Calling" and it's #23 single "Train in Vain," the UK band issued another double-disc slab of aggressive, genre-bending rock with "Sandinista!" Although no singles would reach the pop chart, the album reached #24 and was certified gold. They gathered more songs and had intended to push out a third double-LP tentatively titled "Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg," but inner conflicts about the mixing and production forced the group to seek outside help and producer Glyn Johns came on board to help form the project. The final product ended up being a single LP titled "Combat Rock." This first single got things off to a respectable start, but it would be the second single that would make the album their biggest hit in the US.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't really aware of this song when it first came out. It just wasn't something that was going to be played on the radio between "Bette Davis Eyes" and Air Supply. Luckily, I'd catch on to it the following year. I don't think "Combat Rock" was at the same level as their previous albums, but it did have a couple of great highlights like this song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The first pressing of the "Combat Rock" album contained the song "Inoculated City," which near the end included a sample of a real TV commercial for the toilet bowl cleaner 2000 Flushes. The maker of the product was not thrilled with this and cried copyright infringement. Later pressings shortened the track and eliminated the sample. However, the full track was restored on the 2000 CD reissue.


Friday, December 5, 2014

"Into My Love" by Greg Guidry

Song#:  1100
Date:  07/17/1982
Debut:  94
Peak:  92
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Guidry's debut album "Over the Line" produced his first hit "Goin' Down" (#17). This follow-up single visited the chart for a quick couple of weeks and promptly disappeared. Despite the hit and the album getting to #147, Guidry never recorded a proper follow-up LP until he issued a pair of independent albums in 2000. He continued to have success as a songwriter, but unfortunately he committed suicide in 2003.

ReduxReview:  I've written about this before, but I find it really creepy when an artist duets with a family member (sibling, child, etc.) on a love song. It's just weird! Yeah, I know they are just doing a vocal, but c'mon. A background vocal is different, but an actual duet has a real "ick" factor. So this duet (see below) didn't sit well with me from the get-go. Ignoring the bro/sis love factor, the song itself is just alright. It's an average, unmemorable AC ballad that is easy on the ears.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was a duet with Guidry's sister, Sandy. The album was a family affair with his three siblings, Sandy, Cathie, and Randy, participating in the recording.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Take It Away" by Paul McCartney

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1099
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  55
Peak:  10
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  McCartney followed-up his big hit duet with Stevie Wonder, "Ebony and Ivory," with this second single from his "Tug of War" LP. It was another Top 10 hit for him in the US (and #6 AC), but the tune only managed a #15 showing in the UK.

ReduxReview:  I think most folks bought the "Tug of War" album due to "Ebony and Ivory." I didn't. It wasn't until this song came out that I wanted the LP.  It's a hit that kind of gets ignored now. I've always liked it. When I hear the song I always thing about driving to high school. My senior year there was no busing, so I had to drive. I picked up a couple of friends each day on the way. One morning, folks were tired and practically half asleep in the car. I had the album playing and this song came on. The tune starts off quietly and then kicks in. In the quiet part I was singing along quietly and when the song got loud, I started singing extremely loud and scared the crap out of everyone. That woke 'em up! We laughed the rest of the way to school. Ah...good times.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  For his first solo project after dissolving Wings, McCartney enlisted an old friend to guide him. Beatles producer George Martin came on board to help shape the songs and album. Also lending a helping hand was Ringo Starr who played drums on this track.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Someday, Someway" by Marshall Crenshaw

Song#:  1098
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  36
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Considered a modern day incarnation of Buddy Holly, Crenshaw signed to Warner Bros. and issued his self-titled debut in 1982. While the comparisons to Holly were just, listeners soon realized that he wasn't a knock off and his debut was quickly deemed a pop masterpiece. This first single broke him through to the masses, but his initial success was short-lived. His critically acclaimed second LP "Flag Day" failed to gather any listener support and further follow-ups couldn't make any impact either. Despite the lack of mass success, Crenshaw is considered a top-notch songwriter with many of his tunes being covered by other artists. This song would be his one and only pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  This one goes in the "what was I thinking?" category. I wasn't in tune with the Buddy Holly-early rock style and so I pretty much ignored this song. Idiot. I'm glad my ears matured over the years. It's a shame I missed out on this song and Crenshaw back then. Along with this song, he has two others that I totally dig - "Whenever You're on My Mind" and "My Favorite Waste of Time." Bette Midler did a tasty version of the latter that reached #78 in 1983.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Crenshaw's first break in the music business came via the stage show "Beatlemania." From 1978 through 1980, he portrayed John Lennon in the West Coast and touring versions of the show.  2)  Although he never had a big hit as a solo artist, he did co-write a song that reached #11 in 1995. "Til I Hear It from You" was co-written by two members of the Gin Blossoms with Crenshaw and appeared on the soundtrack to the film "Empire Records." The song was released on a double a-sided single paired with "Follow You Down," which reached #9.  3) This song already appeared on the pop chart a year earlier. Rockabilly artist Robert Gordon did a version that reached #76 on the pop chart in June of 1981.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Blue Eyes" by Elton John

Song#:  1097
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  82
Peak:  12
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  John's album "Jump Up!" started to dig him out of a minor slump thanks to the LP's first single, his John Lennon tribute "Empty Garden," and this retro-style ballad. While both songs would come close to the pop Top 10, this song was a major hit at AC hitting #1. The album would eventually be certified gold. There would be one more single issued from the album, "Ball and Chain," but it would fail to chart at pop. However, it would reach #14 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  I've always thought this was a pretty tune. It is nothing that approaches the quality of his classic hits and there is no "wow" factor to it, but it's a lovely ballad that doesn't necessarily sound like it's from the 80s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  "Jump Up!" featured the song "Legal Boys." This was John's first collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice ("Jesus Christ Superstar," "Evita"). The pair would later work together to great success on the classic 1994 Disney film (and eventual smash Broadway show) "The Lion King."


Monday, December 1, 2014

"Who Can It Be Now" by Men at Work

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1096
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  27
Genre:  New Wave

Pop Bits:  This Australian group formed in 1978 and soon became one of the country's most popular unsigned artists. They secured a contract with Columbia Records in Australia and issued this single in June of 1981. The song reached #2 and they were off and running. But not yet on a worldwide scale. Columbia's North American arm twice rejected the group before finally succumbing. This single got traction in Canada first, but then the US caught on. Over a year since it was released in Australia, the single found its way onto the US chart where it would steadily climb to the top spot.

ReduxReview:  At the time, I think most folks, including myself, really liked this song but totally fell for their second single "Down Under." Looking back now, I think this is the superior song. The paranoid lyrics, sax licks/solo, and delivery were all spot-on. It's a more mature effort where "Down Under" was comedic and bordered on novelty. For me, this is their best moment.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The success of this single and their #1 album "Business As Usual" helped them to secure a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, beating out Asia, Jennifer Holliday, Human League, and Stray Cats.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Gloria" by Laura Branigan

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1095
Date:  07/10/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  2
Weeks:  36
Genre:  Europop, Dance

Pop Bits:  Branigan's self-titled debut got off to a mediocre start with its first single, "All Night with Me," only making a #69 showing. However, this second single turned things around in a big way. It took a little time to get there, but the single finally made it to #2 and stayed there for three weeks. In doing so, it became her biggest hit and signature song. The longevity of the song (36 weeks) set a record at the time for a female artist. The song also got her a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. The hit would get her album to reach gold status.

ReduxReview:  An 80s classic that owes a lot to the Euro disco sound and artists like ABBA. Not a lot of Europop translates to the US, but this one hit it out of the park. I think what really sells the song is Branigan's vocals. She just wails on it to the point of becoming unhinged. It also helps that she has an interesting and unique voice that stands out. I think this single paved the way for a lot of Europop that would hit over the next few years.


Trivia:  This song was originally an Italian hit in 1979 for Umberto Tozzi. Tozzi, who co-wrote the song, took it to #2 on the Italian chart and Top 10 on other European charts. The first English version of the song was by UK artist Jonathan King. He wrote his own English lyrics and his single reached #65 on the UK chart. Tozzi actually did a cover King's English version, but it failed to chart. Branigan's producer, Jack White (not the White Stripes one...), is the one who suggested she cover the song and after a failed attempt at a love-song version called "Mario," session musician Trevor Veitch came up with the new English lyrics. Branigan's version was a hit in many countries (#1 in Canada and Australia), but in Italy it only reached #36.