Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Destination Unknown" by Missing Persons

Song#:  1196
Date:  10/02/1982
Debut:  85
Peak:  42
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This band's first chart single, "Words," just missing out on the Top 40 hitting #42. This follow-up single spent three more weeks on the chart but somehow managed to peak at the same #42. Despite the lack of a true chart hit, their album "Spring Session M" became a cult-ish success reaching #17 and going gold.

ReduxReview:  This one escaped me back in the day. I was familiar with "Words," but I don't remember hearing this one at all. I discovered it later on an 80s new wave collection. "Words" is a better and more memorable song, but this steady groove still sounds good and like the previous single, deserved a better fate than a #42 peak.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The title of their full-length debut LP, "Spring Session M," is actually an anagram of the band's name.


Friday, March 13, 2015

"Electricland" by Bad Company

Song#:  1195
Date:  10/02/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  74
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This UK blues rock band was basically a supergroup made up of former members from other successful bands including Free, Mott the Hoople, and King Crimson. The quartet's self-titled debut album sparked quite a bit of interest, thanks in part to the #5 single "Can't Get Enough" (1974), and it soared to #1. The LP would eventually sell over 5 million copies on the US alone. Their success continued throughout the 70s, but their first album of the 80s, "Rough Diamonds," would be their least successful outing. Although this single would reach #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart, it couldn't do much at pop and the album took a tumble after a minor #26 peak. It was a tumultuous time for the band and they finally succumbed to their issues and broke up. "Rough Diamonds" would serve as the final album with the original lineup. A new version of the band would have some success in the early 90s grabbing a few chart singles including the #16 "If You Needed Somebody" (1990).

ReduxReview:  Bad Company certainly had some great songs and Paul Rodgers is a terrific rock vocalist, but this is not one of their shining moments. I find the song plodding and kind of boring. Even Rodgers seems a bit uninterested. They certainly needed something better than this to create buzz around the album. The snooze factor on this one rates about an 8 on a scale of 1 (wide awake) to 10 (comatose).

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  It is often written that the band got their name from the 1972 Western film "Bad Company," which starred Jeff Bridges. However, lead singer/guitarist Paul Rodgers stated in an interview that it actually came from an old Victorian book of morals that he had seen. Apparently there was a picture of a young child looking at a rough street dweller with a caption that read "beware of bad company."


Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Rock the Casbah" by The Clash

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1194
Date:  10/02/1982
Debut:  90
Peak:  8
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Clash's brand of punk and new wave was not something typically found on the pop chart, but they did manage a couple of entries with the #23 "Train in Vain" and #45 "Should I Stay or Should I Go."  So it was a bit of a surprise when this second single from their LP "Combat Rock" found its way to #8. Helped along by a heavily rotated video on MTV, the single slowly climbed the pop chart to become the band's first and only Top 10 hit. The single pushed the album to #7 and it would go on to be their best-selling LP in the US reaching double-platinum status.

ReduxReview:  Of course being a pop guy, I was not that familiar with The Clash. I just knew them as that punk band whose LP "London Calling" was always near the top of "best rock albums" lists. With MTV on board, this ended up being the song that introduced me to the band. I had to warm up to the tune, but once I did the single quickly found its way to my collection.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The lyrics of this song were influenced by the ban of Western rock music following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. In the song, jet fighters were sent to bomb those in violation of the music ban. Instead, the pilots disregard the order and begin blasting rock over their cockpit radios. The lyrics were enough to get it placed on the infamous Clear Channel list of songs that the company "suggested" not be played on their stations after the 9/11 attacks.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Pressure" by Billy Joel

Song#:  1193
Date:  09/25/1982
Debut:  72
Peak:  20
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The brash piano man had been a balladeer and a rock 'n' roller to great success, but by this point in his career he was ready to add more maturity to his music and tackle some worldly topics. Joel took his time writing and recording "The Nylon Curtain," an album that would debut his more "serious" side. Addressing various subjects like the Vietnam War and the decline in American manufacturing, the LP was certainly different from previous efforts that contained more lighthearted fare like "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me." This first synth-driven single stayed close to his rockier side and dove into the subject of coping with life's pressure situations. Although the song did okay (boosted by an interesting concept video), it wasn't setting the chart on fire. It seemed that the more thoughtful Joel, while critically well-received, was not necessarily what listeners wanted.

ReduxReview:  I remember the hubbub surrounding this LP at the time. It seemed like such a statement - Billy Joel grows up! He's so serious now! He's truly an artist! I wasn't a real fan of his music, but I liked this song and bought into the hype so I picked up the album. Surprisingly, I connected with it and it still remains my favorite Billy Joel album. He would do some good work after this, but I don't think he ever really came close to repeating the depth and style of this album. He probably would never be able to anyway. It came out of a certain era and a certain time in his life. Those types of things usually come around once in a career. As a single, I'm not sure this song was truly something a mass audience would grab on to, but the synth chugs on quite well and it's one of the few rock songs Joel did that doesn't sound so forced.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The recording of this album got sidelined for a few weeks earlier in 1982. He was involved in a motorcycle accident that sent him to the hospital where surgery was done on his right wrist and left thumb. He recovered quickly and resumed work on the album.  2) Although the album was not one of his biggest hits, the Grammy folks took notice and rewarded his work with an Album of the Year nomination.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Love Me Tomorrow" by Chicago

Song#:  1192
Date:  09/25/1982
Debut:  74
Peak:  22
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The band got a late-career revival with the #1 song "Hard to Say I'm Sorry." A change in sound, courtesy of front man Peter Cetera and producer David Foster, ushered in a new era of the group that would be loved by new fans, but derided by the long-time ones. This follow-up single furthered their new AC sound and on that chart is was quite successful reaching #8. It didn't do as well at pop, but it was the first time since 1978 that they got two Top 40 hits from the same album.

ReduxReview:  This is another strong AC outing from the band and I'm a little surprised that it didn't do better at pop. The verse does lack a little and isn't all that memorable, but the chorus is quite good. Although slightly weaker than "Hard to Say," it's still a quality tune that helped to define their new sound.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Much in the way that the album version of "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" has an extended outro (titled "Get Away"), "Love Me Tomorrow" has one as well. As the song begins to end and the band starts fading out, an orchestra is brought to the forefront and takes over to complete the song. The orchestral ending was edited out for the single version.


Monday, March 9, 2015

"Ribbon in the Sky" by Stevie Wonder

Song#:  1191
Date:  09/25/1982
Debut:  76
Peak:  54
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Wonder's hits compilation "Original Musiquarium I" pumped out two more hits with "That Girl" (#4) and "Do I Do" (#13). Since the collection contained four new recordings, Wonder tried for another hit with this single. The ballad was able to reach #10 on the R&B chart, but couldn't gather an audience at pop and peaked short of the halfway mark. The last of the new songs, "Front Line," was also issued as a single but it failed to reach any chart, making it the only song on the collection to not be a hit.

ReduxReview:  I always thought this was a pretty song. It is fairly subdued for a Wonder single and its subtlety may have been lost on a pop audience. I wouldn't rank this among his best songs, but it is lovely to hear.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This apparently was one of Whitney Houston's favorite songs by Stevie Wonder. He reworked the lyrics to be about her and sang it at her funeral on February 18, 2012.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

"American Heartbeat" by Survivor

Song#:  1190
Date:  09/25/1982
Debut:  79
Peak:  17
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's #1 smash hit "Eye of the Tiger," written for the film "Rocky III," would also serve as the title track to their third album. They tried to keep the momentum going with this second single, but the song did not connect as well as "Eye" and it petered out just inside the Top 20. Oddly, the song couldn't even muster a showing on the Mainstream Rock chart. However, the lack of a second major hit didn't matter much as the album would still become a platinum hit that reached #2.

ReduxReview:  Whoa! That beginning synth sound sounds very similar to the one that starts Prodigy's "Breathe." Funny how those old sounds are getting reused nowadays. This song almost seems like cousin song to "Eye." It could have just as easily been used in "Rocky III." That may be why they chose it as the second single - ride the wave. But the song is just nowhere near as strong as "Eye." It's a good tune, but falls short coming on the heels of such a major hit.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After The Ides of March ("Vehicle," #2, 1970) went on hiatus and before forming Survivor, at one point band member Jim Peterik changed his name and almost embarked on a different musical career. Peterik changed his name to Chalmers Garseny and set out to become the next Elton John. But he soon realized that the Chalmers character was not him and reverted back to rock music using his own name. Peterik did release a solo album in 1976 called "Don't Fight the Feeling," but it didn't get anywhere. He formed Survivor two years later.