Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Let Me Tickle Your Fancy" by Jermaine Jackson

Song#:  1115
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  75
Peak:  18
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  In the time since Jackson hit #9 in 1980 with "Let's Get Serious," his subsequent singles and LP's failed to replicate that success. He regained some ground with the first title-track single to his "Let Me Tickle Your Fancy" album. The song got into the pop Top 20 while reaching #5 at R&B.

ReduxReview:  Who knew Jackson had a little hip-factor to him? Although a small addition, the background vocalists (see below) do make this slight funk jam more fun. It was an odd combination that worked well and seemed destined for the Top 10. It fell a bit short, but it's a pretty cool jam that has aged fairly well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Trends in music don't go unnoticed by artists. Some long-lasting artists have updated their sound to keep fresh and current. That may have been the case with this song from Jackson. Keeping up with the latest music, Jackson was a fan of Devo, who had a major new wave hit in 1980 with "Whip It" (#14). Jackson had basically finished up "Tickle" but still wanted to give the song a new wave flare. So he called up the guys in Devo and asked them to sing on the track. At first they thought he was joking, but after realizing he was serious, they obliged. They supplied the backing vocals on the track.


Friday, December 19, 2014

"I'm the One" by Roberta Flack

Song#:  1114
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  81
Peak:  42
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Flack's #13 song "Making Love" served as the theme to the film of the same name and as the first single from her album "I'm the One." This second title-track single missed out on the pop Top 40, but it did reach #10 at AC and #24 R&B. The song would be Flack's final solo song to reach the pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This sleek song makes for a pleasant listen, but not necessarily a great single. I've heard it a few times and it just doesn't stick. Flack has recorded a lot of great songs including some true classics, but this one just lacks any personality or energy. She's killing me softly with dullness here.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Flack's first three solo albums for Atlantic, including her 1969 debut "First Take," did little business with none of her singles making much impact on the charts. That changed thanks to actor/director Clint Eastwood. He chose Flack's song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (from "First Take") to play over a scene in his 1972 directorial debut "Play Misty for Me." The hit film sparked interest in the song and a single was issued. It rose to #1 on the pop chart and in doing so pushed "First Take" to #1 as well. The song also won the Grammy for Record of the Year.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Only Time Will Tell" by Asia

Song#:  1113
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  17
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  This super group consisting of prog-rock icons hit it big with their self-titled debut album that featured the #4 hit "Heat of the Moment." This follow-up single reached #8 on the Mainstream Rock chart while going Top 20 at pop. It helped further promote the LP which became the top selling album of 1982.

ReduxReview:  "Heat of the Moment" was pretty terrific, but I liked this song even better. It's what sold me on the album. I thought for sure this would be an easy Top 10, but it petered out a bit shy. It's a more theatrical song that kind of bleeds into Styx territory, which is totally fine by me. On an album full of rock anthems, I thought this one was at the top of the heap.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  I thought the "Asia" album cover was tha shit. I had zero clue as to what it had to do with Asia or the music, but the image was awesome. I remember having a big poster of it on my bedroom wall. Ends up this was done by artist Roger Dean. An inventor and designer, Dean began to do the artwork for albums in 1967 with The Guns' self-titled debut album. He became more famous when he started an association with the prog-rock band Yes. His first cover for them was for 1971's "Fragile," and he has done almost every Yes cover since. Two members of Yes were in Asia, which lead to Dean working with the band. As with Yes, Dean has done most all of Asia's LP covers.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)" by Jerry Reed

Song#:  1112
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  57
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Country

Pop Bits:  Long known as one of Nashville's best guitarists, Reed's solo career began to take off thanks to his song "Guitar Man," which reached #53 on the country chart. Though not a big hit, it caught the attention of Elvis Presley who recorded the song with Reed playing guitar. It didn't fare much better only reaching #43 on the pop chart, but Presley would end up recording a few more of Reed's songs. Reed's next single, a song about Elvis called "Tupelo Mississippi Flash," became his first major hit reaching #15 on the country chart. With his popularity on the rise, Reed crossed over to the pop chart in a big way with two Top 10 hits in 1971 - "Amos Moses" (#8) and "When You're Hot, You're Hot" (#9). His career cooled in the 80s, but he had one last crossover hit with this tune from his LP "The Man with the Golden Thumb." It reached #1 on the country chart and got close to the top half of the pop chart. Two years later, his charting days were done.

ReduxReview:  As a kid I always liked Jerry Reed when he was on TV. I thought he was funny and entertaining. And of course he was on an episode of "Scooby-Doo" and in "Smokey and the Bandit," so I loved that! But I didn't get into his music, which at times bordered on novelty. Comical songs like this one were well-done and fun on first listen, but then I'd tire of them quickly.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Along the way, Reed dabbled in acting. He made several appearances on TV including his own variety series in 1976. His first film role was with Burt Reynolds in 1974's "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings." His friendship with Reynolds payed off with other movie rolls including 1976's "Gator" and the trio of "Smokey and the Bandit" films. The first "Bandit" film featured Reeds' song "East Bound and Down," which went to #2 on the country chart in 1977.  2) Although "Guitar Man" was not initially a hit for Reed or Presley, it ended up being Presley's last pop Top 40 hit (#28) and final country #1 thanks to a remix version that was released posthumously in 1981.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Hot Fun in the Summertime" by Dayton

Song#:  1111
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  58
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  Taking their name from their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, this band signed to Liberty Records and issued a self-titled debut album in 1980. Neither it or it's follow-up, "Cutie Pie," did much business so they moved on to Capitol Records and handed in the LP "Hot Fun," which featured this single. It was their first to both hit the pop chart and R&B where it reached #17. Although the single would be their only pop chart entry, the LP spawned three more Top 20 R&B singles including "Krackity-Krack," which featured a guest turn by fellow Ohioan Bootsy Collins. The group quietly disbanded after two more albums failed to get any attention.

ReduxReview:  Dayton gives this summer classic (see below) a modern 80s polish and it sounds pretty good. I think they capture the feel and groove of the song quite well and stay fairly true to the material. It's not an outstanding cover, but it is certainly respectable and probably should have done a bit better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song is a remake of a hit by Sly and the Family Stone. Their original reached #2 pop and #3 R&B in 1969. It's been said the song inspired two other hits - "Misunderstanding" by Genesis (#14, 1980) and "Hold the Line by Toto (#5, 1978).


Monday, December 15, 2014

"What's Forever For" by Michael Martin Murphey

Song#:  1110
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  89
Peak:  19
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Singer/Songwriter, Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Michael Murphey was a locally successful musician around his hometown of Dallas, Texas, before making the move to California. Soon after, he signed his first publishing and by 1964 was part of the band The Trinity River Boys with soon-to-be Monkee Mike Nesmith. Three years later he formed The Lewis & Clarke Expedition with Boomer Castleman and got on the pop chart with "I Feel Good (I Feel Bad)" (#64) from their lone LP. After the split, Murphey continued songwriting and thanks to his pal Nesmith, he got a break when his "What Am I Doing Hangin' Round" got recorded by The Monkees. Other artists recorded his songs including a full concept album by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (1972's "The Ballad of Calico"). Murphey finally got his own solo deal and issued the album "Geronimo's Cadillac," which featured the #37 title track. It would be his fourth LP in 1975, "Blue Sky - Night Thunder," that would break him wide with the platinum #3 hit "Wildfire." But following up that massive hit proved difficult and he only managed a couple of Top 40's over the next few years. In 1982 he made a label change, added his middle name, moved towards country crossover, and issued a self-titled album that featured this Top 20 single. It reached #4 AC and became his first #1 country hit.

ReduxReview:  This easy goin', hip-swayin' song is pretty hard to resist. Expertly done with a solid, singable chorus, the song should have gone Top 10. It's one of the best country crossover tunes from the decade. He's had some great songs, so if you like this check out some of his other tunes like the #21 "Carolina in the Pines."

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song, written by Rafe VanHoy, was originally done by England Dan & John Ford Coley. It appeared on their 1979 album "Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive." The song was not released as a single.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Now or Never" by Axe

Song#:  1109
Date:  07/24/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  64
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Florida band recorded two albums for MCA in 1978 and 1980 that didn't produce any real results. They moved over to Atco and issued the LP "Offering." It got some attention thanks to this single that spent a few weeks on the pop chart. After tours supporting A-list acts like the Scorpions and Judas Priest, they put out their fourth album "Nemesis" in 1983. Unfortunately, the following year two members of the band were in a severe auto accident. The crash killed guitarist Michael Osborne and caused major injuries to lead vocalist Bobby Barth. The aftermath of the accident was too much for the band and they split. Barth would recover and join the band Blackfoot for a short period. He eventually reformed Axe and issued the album "V" in 1997. He would revert back to Blackfoot in 2004.

ReduxReview:  The band's LP is rooted in Survivor-ish rock, but this single seems like a distinct stab at making a radio-friendly hit. It almost worked. I think they had all the right elements. The opening almost sounds like something that later influenced Bon Jovi. In fact, most of it sounds like Bon Jovi-lite. I think it is a good tune but I'm not sure if the hook is strong enough to capture a pop listener's attention. 

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before becoming Axe, most of the band were members of the soft rock-leaning group Babyface. Formed in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the band's self-titled debut album featured two minor AC chart entries. "Never in My Life" reached #30 in 1976, and "Make Way Miami" got to #50 in 1977. It must have not been enough to keep their label deal as the band made a move to Florida, had a personnel change, beefed up their sound, and renamed themselves Axe.