Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Never Gonna Let You Go" by Sergio Mendes

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1411
Date:  04/16/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Mendes' sleek Brazilian pop sounds were hugely popular in the mid-60s. Leading his band Brazil '66, Mendes scored two major pop hits in 1968: "The Look of Love" (#4) and "The Fool on the Hill" (#6). It was his peak period on the chart with "The Fool on the Hill" LP reaching #3. It would also be his fourth gold album for A&M Records (thanks in part to label head Herb Alpert). But as the 70s drew near, his presence on the pop chart quickly faded as his smooth AC sound got lost amid the new sounds of the era. He still scored a few AC hits over the years, but by 1983, Mendes had been absent from the pop chart for 14 years. After spending a decade on other labels, Mendes returned to A&M in an attempt to kickstart his career. Of course, a retread of Brazilian-based pop wasn't gonna fly, so Mendes modernized (ala Quincy Jones' "The Dude" LP) and released a self-titled album that included this first single. The duet, sung by Joe Pizzulo and Leza Miller, was tailor made for AC airplay and indeed it spent four weeks at #1 on that chart. Pop loved the tune as well and it ended up becoming Mendes' biggest pop hit thanks to its 23-week chart run. The song also spent a little time on the R&B chart reaching #28. It would end up being Mendes' last pop Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  I've always liked this song. It's a top-notch ballad from the era. I think I initially wanted to buy this single, but because it got a ton of airplay in my town I may have gotten tired of it and didn't make the purchase. The bothersome thing for me is that it's only credited to Sergio Mendes. Yes, it was his album and he did play on the track as well as arrange and produce it, but it was Pizzulo and Miller that sold it. When Quincy Jones did the same thing, the songs got credited to him and the vocalists. Herb Alpert did the same. Mendes didn't even have a group name (like Brazil '83) to group them under. It's kind of misleading and a bummer because both vocalists were terrific and deserved more credit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Two other artists had already recorded this song before Mendes created his hit version. In 1982, both Dionne Warwick and Stevie Woods recorded the song for their respective albums. Neither artist released the song as a single. Originally, songwriters Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann shopped the song to Earth, Wind & Fire, but they ended up rejecting the song.  2) Although their names were mostly unfamiliar, singers Pizzulo and Miller each had successful careers as backing vocalists before this song hit. Miller already had an association with Mendes. She was hired on as part of his Brazil '77 group and recorded/toured with him. Pizzulo had already toured and recorded with several major artists before joining up with Mendes. Pizzulo would remain with Mendes for several years while Miller would move on to other projects. Neither singer was able to parlay this hit into a solo career. Pizzulo would continue to back major artists on tour and on record. Miller later began a successful voiceover career.


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