Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Whatcha Gonna Do" by Chilliwack

Song#:  1224
Date:  10/23/1982
Debut:  76
Peak:  41
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  This Canadian band would reach their peak in the US with their LP "Wanna Be a Star," which featured two Top 40 entries including the #22 "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)." The trio's next album, "Opus X," would be another major hit in their homeland reaching #12 and going platinum. In the US, it didn't do as well with this first single only able to reach the dreaded #41 spot (#9 Canada). It would end up being their last song to hit the US chart.

ReduxReview:  This song has a fun, catchy chorus that grabs your attention right from the start and I initially though - wow, this is great! But then the verse kicked in and it totally lost me (the song has an odd A,B,C structure that begins with the chorus. A and B are great. C is where the trouble starts - you'll hear it...). I keep hoping the more I listen to the song I'll get used to it and like it better. But that dang verse keeps bringing the song to a screeching halt. Soooo close to being awesome...

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This album ended up winning a Juno award for two of its members. Bill Henderson and Brian MacLeod won the Producer of the Year award. The group seemed to be on a roll, but with their US label going out of business and other issues, MacLeod and the trio's third member, Ab Bryant, left the group. Henderson would soldier on for one more album under the Chilliwack name, but it didn't do well and the band folded.


Friday, April 10, 2015

"Shock the Monkey" by Peter Gabriel

Song#:  1223
Date:  10/23/1982
Debut:  80
Peak:  29
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock, Art Rock

Pop Bits:  Gabriel's post-Genesis solo career began to heat up in the US with his third self-titled LP that featured the #48 pop entry "Games Without Frontiers." This single from his fourth self-titled album (titled "Security" in the US) kept the ball rolling and it became his first US Top 40 hit. The song was also highly successful at rock radio hitting #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  That Fairlight-induced groove is unmistakable and pretty great. There was really nothing on the radio at the time that sounded like this. I think it still holds up very well. Even though I liked this song, it still took me a long while to get into his music. College helped. The songwriting class I took focused on a couple of his songs including "Biko" and that's when I started to really pay attention. For a lot of people who weren't familiar with early Genesis, this was their first true taste of Gabriel's solo work. And it's a good one.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In 2002, musician Cevin Soling had the idea to pair music artists with songs that they would most likely never even consider recording. Basically, odd match-ups such as Devo covering Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio." Or Lesley Gore doing AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." The album was called "When Pigs Fly: Song You Never Thought You'd Hear" and this Gabriel song was included in the bunch. The artist select to cover the tune was Hawaiian crooner Don Ho. However, it wasn't the first song choice for Ho. Initially, Prodigy's "Firestarter" was suggested to him, but Ho thought his fans might have some issues with the lyrics, so "Shock the Monkey" stepped in.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

"Tough World" by Donnie Iris

Song#:  1222
Date:  10/23/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  57
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Iris' first effort for RCA, "King Cool," did a little business thanks to a pair of Top 40 singles that included the #25 "My Girl." Unfortunately, it would prove to be his peak moment as his successive releases could not provide any Top 40 entries. He would still place a few singles on the chart including this one from his follow-up album "The High and the Mighty."

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure why this crunchy tune with an arena-ready sing-a-long chorus didn't do better. I don't think it was necessarily Top 10 material, but it sure seems like it should have at least made a Top 30 showing. Yet another song that demonstrates that Iris was an underrated rocker.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  A long time member of Iris' band (and co-writer of many of their songs) Mark Avsec, came up with the idea of marketing a beer named after the album "King Cool." In 2009, King Cool Light debuted and sold well. Unfortunately, sales diminished over time and by 2012 production of the product stopped.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"Maneater" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  1221
Date:  10/16/1982
Debut:  65
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Their LP "Private Eyes" was a major hit that struck platinum thanks to three Top 10's including two #1's. Hot on the heels of that success, the duo recorded their next album "H20." The set was decidedly more synth-oriented and it got a lot of attention thanks to this first single that soared to #1. Its four weeks in that position made the song Hall & Oates' biggest hit. The album would also be their best effort reaching #3 and going double-platinum. The song also got the duo a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  I can't hear this song without thinking about college. I attended a music school and had a song lyric class. The professor was in a cover band that would play this song. In pre-internet days, if lyrics were not included with the album you had to rely on your ears. For this song there was a line they just could not understand. So they just imitated the syllables they heard. Later, they found out the line was "a she-cat tamed by the purr of a Jaguar." I admit I couldn't understand that line either. It's kind of a famous misheard lyric now. I loved the song when it came out, especially the echoed sax solo, and it still sounds pretty dang good. Plus, Daryl Hall going "the woman is wild woo-oo-oo-oo-oo" really quick near the end cracks me up. I love imitating that line.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  In an interview, John Oates mentions that this song is actually not about a woman, but about New York City. All the things the song covers, like greed and the spoils of the rich, were really about the city. However, they wrapped it all up in a package that refers to a woman instead of a city because it makes the lyrics more relatable.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"Shadows of the Night" by Pat Benatar

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1220
Date:  10/16/1982
Debut:  69
Peak:  13
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Benatar was definitely on a roll with her previous album "Precious Time" hitting #1 and going double-platinum. Her follow-up LP, "Get Nervous," would be another hit, but not quite as large. The album would reach #4 and only go single-platinum. It's success was helped along by this first single that would be her highest peaking since 1980's #9 "Hit Me with Your Best Shot." It also won Benatar her third Grammy in the Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female category.

ReduxReview:  I remember this sounding so large when it first came out. When the band kicks in right after the vocal intro, it just seemed huge. Nowadays it doesn't sound all that big because everything sounds like that now. But the whole song seemed like a shift in style for her, like she was moving away from the harder-edged rock into a more mainstream sound. It ended up being a good move because her biggest hits were yet to come.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song that was released twice prior to Benatar's version. American singer Helen Schneider, who had a successful recording career in Germany, first released the song on her 1981 album "Schneider with a Kick." Then that same year, Rachel Sweet did a version on her album "And Then He Kissed Me." In all three cases, the lyrics are different.  2) The song's composer, D.L. Byron, was asked to write a song for the upcoming film "Times Square." He was given a plot synopsis and came up with this song. It ended up not being used so he decided to record the tune himself for his second solo LP for Arista. Prickly label head Clive Davis rejected the song as non-commercial. Frustrated, Byron gave a copy of the song to his drummer who was going to work with Helen Schneider in Germany. Helen recorded the song and had great success with it. Then Rachel Sweet asked to record it (with lyric changes). Still, the song remained virtually unknown. Byron though the song could really be a hit so he submitted it to Benatar. Months later, he got the call that she wanted the song (with lyric changes, of course).  3) Watching old music videos, it's funny to catch future celebrities pop up in them. Benatar's WWII-themed "Shadows of the Night" video has two. Both Judge Reinhold and Bill Paxton appear in the video before they hit the big time.


Monday, April 6, 2015

"Cool Magic" by Steve Miller Band

Song#:  1219
Date:  10/16/1982
Debut:  78
Peak:  57
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Miller's comeback single, the #1 title track to his album "Abracadabra," was still in the Top 10 when this second single debuted. Unfortunately, the song didn't have the same magic and it petered out before even reaching the Top 50. The song couldn't even muster a showing on the Mainstream Rock chart where "Abracadabra" reached #4.

ReduxReview:  When you have a major hit like "Abracadabra," the follow-up had better be terrific. This one is not. It's not a bad song at all with its retro-rock chorus (channeling ELO), but it really is not single-worthy. Miller was more of an AOR artist, so it is not surprising that there wasn't another slam dunk single on the album. But you'd think there would be something a bit better in the queue, especially since Miller was focusing on more pop-oriented tunes for the album.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Blues harmonica player Norton Buffalo (real name Philip Jackson) performed with the Steve Miller Band for 32 years. Along the way he did work for other artists, including The Doobie Brothers and Bonnie Raitt, and recorded his own albums. His 1991 duet album with guitarist Roy Rogers titled "R&B" contained the tune "Song for Jessica," which grabbed a Grammy nod for Best Country Instrumental Performance.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

"A Love Song" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  1218
Date:  10/16/1982
Debut:  79
Peak:  47
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Although still wildly popular, Rogers' days as a major hit maker were beginning to wane. His previous single, the title track to his album "Love Will Turn You Around," was a good success returning him to #1 at country and reaching #13 at pop, but it was far from being one of his top singles. This follow-up was even less stellar getting to #3 country and petering out before it could reach the pop Top 40. It also stopped a streak of five #1 AC songs by peaking at #10.

ReduxReview:  This is a lovely and quiet song that is an enjoyable listen. I think it may be just a little too understated though to really make a splash on radio. I often forget this song from Rogers' catalog and when I hear it I instantly recognize it and like it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by up-and-coming country star Lee Greenwood. Earlier in the year, Greenwood released his debut album that became a hit thanks to three country Top 10's. The opening track on the album was this song. Although not released as a single, it got picked up by Rogers and his version found its way into the country Top 10.