Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Voyeur" by Kim Carnes

Song#:  1153
Date:  08/21/1982
Debut:  71
Peak:  29
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Sythpop

Pop Bits:  Carnes got stuck in the difficult (but enviable) position of trying to follow-up a #1 album ("Mistaken Identity") and a Grammy-winning #1 song that became 1981's biggest chart single ("Bette Davis Eyes"). Keeping with the dark-synth feel of "Bette," Carnes recorded this title-track to her next LP "Voyeur," which she co-wrote with her husband Dave Ellingson and keyboardist Duane Hitchings. Upon recording the song, Carnes and Co. said that they had the same special feeling as they did after recording "Bette." They may have had the same great feeling, but record buyers did not. The single barely made the Top 30 and it caused the album to stall at a lowly #49.

ReduxReview:  I've always been torn by this album and single. On one hand, it seems to me that Carnes may have been pushed off the synthpop ledge by her label because of the success of "Bette." If that worked, then repeat and apply to a full album (whereas "Mistaken Identity" was diverse in sound). I think it was a major misstep and it played out as such with record buyers. On the other hand, I absolutely loved this song and album. I consider the LP a dark, synthpop masterpiece. Carnes fully dove into this project and embraced the dark side. She also wrote/co-wrote eight of the ten songs which was a step up from her four contributions to "Mistaken Identity." It's a consistent listen from beginning to end and remains a favorite of mine. But, it kind of killed Carnes momentum and it basically took away her shot a pop superstardom. So I'm torn because the whole project was the completely wrong move, yet I'm so glad it exists as I dearly love it.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Despite the failure of the single, it was enough to catch the attention of Grammy voters. Carnes was nominated for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female.


Friday, January 30, 2015

"Break It to Me Gently" by Juice Newton

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1152
Date:  08/21/1982
Debut:  74
Peak:  11
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Newton's first single from her "Quiet Lies" LP, "Love's Been a Little Bit Hard on Me," became her fourth straight Top 10 hit reaching #7. This second single just barely missed becoming her fifth peaking at the dreaded #11. However, the song became her third AC #1 and reached #2 on the country chart. This helped the album reach gold level. The song also won Newton a Grammy for Best Country Vocal, Female.

ReduxReview:  If "The Sweetest Thing" was her warm-up, this is where Newton really cut loose. She pretty much sings the crap out of the song and gives Brenda Lee a run for her money (see below). This older, early 60s style of song was not in favor around this time so its a testament to Newton's vocal ability that she sold the song enough to get it bumped up against the Top 10. Although not her biggest hit, it is probably her peak vocal moment, as evidenced by the earned Grammy.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The song is a remake of a hit by pop/country star Brenda Lee. Her original version reached #4 in 1962. Lee was extremely successful throughout the 60s scoring 47 chart entries, which included two #1's and nine other Top 10's. She was the top-ranked female artist of the 60s placing fourth overall following Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Ray Charles.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Johnny Can't Read" by Don Henley

Song#:  1151
Date:  08/21/1982
Debut:  80
Peak:  42
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Post-Eagle solo careers were in full swing for Randy Meisner and Glenn Frey. Next to join them was Henley. Having already hit the pop chart in a duet with Stevie Nicks ("Leather and Lace," #6), it came time to try it solo. Henley recorded his debut album "I Can't Stand Still" and released this first single. It didn't fully catch on peaking just outside the Top 40 and only reaching #29 on the Mainstream Rock chart. It wasn't a great start, but his next single would make up for it.

ReduxReview:  Henley really moves away from Eagles territory with this Farfisa-driven tune with a 60s flare. I have to be honest - I've never heard this song. As unreal as that sounds, except for "Dirty Laundry," I ignored Henley's debut album and this single was nowhere to be found on pop radio in my area. I remember being intrigued by the song's title and almost buying the single based on that, but I didn't. Now I'm glad I didn't as I really don't like this song. It's kind of annoying and it does not fit Henley at all. To me, it plays like a bad new wave experiment. And I think Henley later realized it doesn't fit well in his catalog as it has never appeared on any of his compilations. It's weird and odd - and not in a good way.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Henley was an avid reader and often used what he learned when writing lyrics. In this song, Henley comments on illiteracy, the education system, and the fact that kids were no longer reading thanks to more and more distractions. Oddly, it kind of foreshadowed where we are today with things like iPhones, apps, games, etc. occupying kids' time.  2) At the very end of the song, Henley sing "there's a new kid in town." This is in reference to the Eagles 1976 #1 song "New Kid in Town," which Henley co-wrote. The lyrics in that song are "Johnny come lately, the new kid in town."


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"Jump to It" by Aretha Franklin

Song#:  1150
Date:  08/21/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  24
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Aretha's first two albums for the Arista label got her back in the R&B Top 10 thanks to two singles that accomplished the same feat ("United Together" hit #3 and "Love All the Hurt Away" with George Benson reached #6). Despite the success, her Arista albums were not the smash comebacks that were most likely hoped for under the guidance of Clive Davis & Co. Her third attempt would rectify that. Newly minted R&B star Luther Vandross was brought on board to produce and supply songs for "Jump to It." The influx of fresh talent seemed to do the trick as this first title-track single jumped up to #1 on the R&B chart - Franklin's first since 1977. The album was a major hit spending seven weeks at #1 and going gold. Franklin also received a Grammy nod for Best R&B Performance, Female. On the pop chart, the single became Franklin's first Top 40 entry since 1976.

ReduxReview:  Composers Vandross and Marcus Miller created the right song at the right time for Franklin. This tune really pushed her music into the 80s and it sounded fresh and fun at the time. The production is a bit dated now, but the single is still a fun listen. It's really the point where Franklin finally ditched her old 70s-style R&B and looked towards the future. The change would keep paying off for her throughout the 80s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1987, Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"He Got You" by Ronnie Milsap

Song#:  1149
Date:  08/21/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  59
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  After the multi-format success of his single "Any Day Now" (#1 country, #1 AC, #14 pop), Milsap released this second single from his album "Inside." Although it couldn't reach the pop Top 40, it did get to #15 AC and would become Milsap's ninth consecutive country #1 and 20th overall.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure why this song did not catch on like his other pop crossover hits. It's another quality tune from Milsap that seemed like a shoe-in for at least a Top 20 showing. I admit that I missed out on this song back then because of its poor pop showing. I caught on to it much later. Again, why am I not listening to more Milsap?!

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Milsap's first record deal came in 1965 with with Scepter Records. At the time his music leaned towards R&B rather than country. His first single for the label, "Never Had It So Good," became a minor hit on the R&B chart peaking at #19. The song's b-side was a composition by Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson titled "Let's Get Stoned." Along with the R&B group The Coasters, Milsap was one of the first to record the song. Neither artist had a hit with the tune, but the following year Ray Charles took the song to #1 on the R&B chart (#31 pop). Milsap would make the switch to country music in 1971.


Monday, January 26, 2015

"Right Away" by Kansas

Song#:  1148
Date:  08/21/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  73
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Kansas got back into the Top 20 for the first time since 1978 with the #17 "Play the Game Tonight" from their LP "Vinyl Confessions." However, this second single brought a halt to the album's progress when it failed to make it out of the basement of the chart. Loss of their audience was certainly felt when "Vinyl Confessions" became the band's first album not to get certified gold. 

ReduxReview:  This is an odd song. It starts off with with some Foreigner-ish rock, then shifts down to Supertramp mode.  And then the section before the instrumental break and final chorus had a real Broadway feel. In other words, it's all over the place. However, they do a good job holding all of it together. It's very interesting and I do like it, but this is not a good single choice.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Ever watch The Weather Channel? Their famous weather "on the 8's" is a short forecast, usually local info, that comes up every 8 minutes. It is accompanied by instrumental music. Most of the time it seems to be some kind of smooth jazz. But a song from Kansas has been used for the segment. Instrumental sections from the 10-minute epic "Song for America," the title track from the band's second album, have been used as the background music for "on the 8's." The 1975 album track was originally edited down to around 3 minutes and released as the third single from the album. It did not chart.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

"The One You Love" by Glenn Frey

Song#:  1147
Date:  08/21/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  15
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Frey's first solo album after the Eagles folded, "No Fun Allowed," got off to an okay start with the #31 single "I Found Somebody." This second single did much better and put Frey on the map as a viable solo artist. The quiet ballad reached the Top 20 and was even more successful at AC reaching #2. It would help the album get to gold status.

ReduxReview:  Frey gets a little less Eagle-ish and comes up with a lovely pop ballad complete with a nice sax line. I thought for sure this would make it into the Top 10, but around this time there seemed to be a glut of good hits that were all fighting for chart position. Even the week this song debuted, there were five songs in the Top 20 that were or would become #1's. So perhaps this one fought as far as it could.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Frey and Jack Tempchin. Tempchin had a hand in some Eagles songs including writing the #22 entry "Peaceful Easy Feeling." Tempchin hit the pop chart himself as part of the group The Funky Kings. They reached #61 in 1977 with "Slow Dancin' (Swayin' to the Music)." If that title seems familiar, then you may remember Johnny Rivers' version which reached #10 that same year.