Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Psychobabble" by The Alan Parsons Project

Song#:  1259
Date:  11/27/1982
Debut:  82
Peak:  57
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Project grabbed their first (and only) Top 10 hit with the title track to their LP "Eye in the Sky" (#3). This second single couldn't scale the same heights and fell before reaching the top half of the chart. But by this point the album had already become their best charting at #7 and would eventually go platinum. Vocals on this track were handled by Dave Terry.

ReduxReview:  With Eric Woolfson's unique vocals leading their two biggest singles, "Eye in the Sky" and "Time," its almost like his voice became the recognizable sound of the group. So when they have someone else handle vocals, as on this single, it's a little harder to tell that this is an APP song. Therefore, it may not get as much attention. I think that is further supported by the fact that their next two Top 40 entries were sung by Woolfson. All others peaked lower. It doesn't mean that Woolfson should have sung everything - he shouldn't. Using different vocalists is part of their concept and it works, but Woolfson became key to their singles success. So a song like this got a bit ignored. I can't say it was the best choice for a single, but besides the title track, there truly wasn't another cut that was a slam-dunk single. I might have tried the rockier "You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned" instead.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  A third single, "Old and Wise," was lifted from the album for release. It did not hit the pop chart but did reach #21 at AC. What makes this song significant is that it became the first Alan Parsons Project song to hit the UK chart (their homeland) reaching #74. It would be one of only two singles that would chart in their home country ("Don't Answer Me" hit #52 in 1984). In addition to never having a significant charting single in the UK, their albums never made it into the Top 20. Something about their music just didn't connect with their home audience. However, it did in the US where they amassed four gold and three platinum albums. They were also hugely popular in Germany where they had eight Top 10 albums including four #1's.


Friday, May 15, 2015

"The Elvis Medley" by Elvis Presley

Song#:  1258
Date:  11/27/1982
Debut:  84
Peak:  71
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  If the Beatles and the Beach Boys can do it, why not Elvis? Presley's label RCA decided to jump on the board the medley craze and got producer/keyboardist David Briggs to assemble a single of classic Elvis hits. The medley contained six Elvis chestnuts: "Jailhouse Rock," "Teddy Bear," "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel," "Burning Love," and "Suspicious Minds." Unfortunately, by this time folks were tired of the medleys and this single faded fast. It did a little better on the country and AC charts where it peaked at #31 on each. RCA also issued an album with the same title that featured the medley plus the full-length versions of each song and two other hits. It reached #29 at country and #133 pop.

ReduxReview:  I'm pleased to report that this single finally ended the medley craze (well, at least on the chart)! It was a dark period in 80s music history, but we got through it. As with the major artist ones mentioned above, this is just an advertisement in single form. I mean, if I was a true Elvis fan, why would I want his hits all chopped up and stitched together? Maybe, just maybe, this might have introduced Elvis to a few new younger fans, but overall I consider these medleys marketing gimmicks rather that artistic statements. Plus, what is up with the end of this thing? It just sort of stops during the slow part of "Suspicious Minds." That's an ending? Yikes. Anyway, ignore this hunk o' burnin' crap and go get the originals.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Keyboardist David Briggs began his association with Elvis back in 1966. When pianist Floyd Cramer was delayed getting to a recording session, Briggs stepped in. The gig landed him a spot in Presley's band and he continued to record and tour with Elvis throughout his career. Briggs also had his own side projects including the band Area Code 615 who issued a couple of albums in 1969-70. Although they didn't have any hits, the band's harmonica-lead instrumental song "Stone Fox Chase" was used as the theme song for the BBC music program "The Old Grey Whistle Test" (1971-88).


Thursday, May 14, 2015

"I Do" by J. Geils Band

Song#:  1257
Date:  11/20/1982
Debut:  56
Peak:  24
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The band hit their commercial peak the previous year with their #1 album "Freeze Frame," which featured the #1 single "Centerfold." For their follow-up, the band decided to release a concert album rather than a studio disc. Known for their live performances, the LP "Showtime!" would be the third live album in their catalog. This first single kicked things off and did pretty well reaching the Top 30. The album would also hit the Top 30 and go gold. However, as sometimes happens in bands creative differences can cause issues and the following year lead vocalist Peter Wolf would call it quits and leave the group for a solo career. The remaining members would continue on for one more album before they all just called it a day.

ReduxReview:  This soul chestnut (see below) gets a rowdy treatment by the band. It certainly sounds fun and was probably far better in person. For a live single (which I typically do not like), it's not too bad. The horns are great and the crowd seemed into it. But I still get that had-to-be-there feeling.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is the live version of a remake that the band first recorded in 1977. Originally recorded by The Marvelows in 1965, the single hit #37 on the pop chart and #7 at R&B. The J. Geils Band did their own version that appeared on their album "Monkey Island" (which was credited to the single moniker of "Geils"). The song remained part of their live shows and found its way onto "Showtime!"


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"The Other Guy" by Little River Band

Song#:  1256
Date:  11/20/1982
Debut:  59
Peak:  11
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  After four successful albums that produced six top 10 hits, it seemed to be the right time for LRB to issue a "Greatest Hits" album. The packaged collected up all their hits and also featured two new song. This single was one of the new tunes and it nearly got them a seventh Top 10. Unfortunately it peaked just shy in the dreaded #11 spot. Over time, the album would become their best-seller in the US going double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  This head-boppin' tune was another good addition to their hits catalog but it was never a favorite of mine. It's a little bland and pedestrian for me, but like they do with most of their songs, LRB injects a lot of personality into their material which makes about anything they do listenable. I just wouldn't consider this among their best.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Founding member (and writer of this song) Graeham Goble was in a band called Allison Gros prior to his Little River Band days. The group recorded a novelty song in 1971 under the pseudonym Drummond. The song, a remake of "Daddy Cool" (a 1957 #3 b-side hit for The Rays) done chipmunk style, became a left-field #1 hit in Australia. They did the song as a tribute to the popular rock group Daddy Cool (who named themselves after the song). Daddy Cool's song "Eagle Rock" was a #1 smash in Australia for 10 weeks. In a weird twist, it ended up being Drummond's novelty single that would replace Daddy Cool's song at the top of the chart.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"Wake Up My Love" by George Harrison

Song#:  1255
Date:  11/20/1982
Debut:  68
Peak:  53
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After a series of gold solo albums in the 70s, Harrison's first release of the 80s, "Somewhere in England," failed to reach that mark despite featuring the #2 hit "All Those Years Ago." The result along with a decline in popularity, the new 80s musical scene, and other interests all played a role in Harrison's decision to step away from the music business for a while. But before he could he had one more contractual album to record. He pushed out "Gone Troppo" to fulfill his obligation and to many critics, that was exactly what the album sounded like - a contract finisher. The album tanked at #108, which was his worst showing since his electronic avant-garde album "Electronic Sound" in 1969. This first single was also a bust peaking below the chart's halfway mark. It would be five years before Harrison would issue another album.

ReduxReview:  To me, Harrison was the introspective, prickly one of the Beatles and probably the one I connected with the least. Besides "My Sweet Lord" (#1, 1970), I didn't really care for his solo work. So it's not surprising that I find this song kind of a mess. It sounds like he wanted to get with the times and be more commercial, but I think the synth parts are more of a distraction than a cool update. I can almost hear a good song behind all the noise. It also has a McCartney-esque feel to it, which makes me wonder if Harrison was a bit peeved at McCartney's success (major at the time) and was trying to emulate what McCartney was doing. Maybe not. Whatever the motivation, it just didn't work.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In 1971, Harrison along with musician Ravi Shankar (or as the youngsters might know him - Norah Jones' dad) organized two benefit concerts to raise awareness and generate funds that would help the relief efforts for refugees from war-torn Bangladesh. The concerts were the first of their kind on such a major scale (40,000 attendees) and were highly successful. A concert film and soundtrack were also launched following the event. The 3-LP soundtrack reached #2 on the chart, was certified gold, and ended up winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. Although the project would eventually run into some financial issues, it was considered a success and would serve as the model/launching pad for future benefit concerts like Live Aid in 1985.


Monday, May 11, 2015

"(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" by Joni Mitchell

Song#:  1254
Date:  11/20/1982
Debut:  78
Peak:  47
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After her commercial peak in 1974 with the album "Court and Spark," Mitchell's albums contained less and less pop-oriented material so that by the time 1979's "Mingus" came out, she was flirting with some full-on jazz. Never known as a singles artist, Mitchell grabbed a few chart appearances over the years with her best being the #7 "Help Me" in 1974. As the 80s started, Mitchell began work on a new album whose songs were inspired by the rhythms of current popular artists like The Police and the Talking Heads. The return to a more pop-influenced sound combined with a changeover to the Geffen label resulted in "Wild Things Run Fast." The album was well-received and it got Mitchell a rare pop chart entry with this single. Although it couldn't get into the Top 40, it was her best charting single since 1974.

ReduxReview:  This rock chestnut certainly gets a Joni makeover (just check out the opening) and it works quite well. When it comes down to it, Joni is not known for "fun" songs so this one is a nice change of pace. She puts a nice, new wave-influenced turn on the tune that brings the song into the future. I could almost hear Linda Ronstadt on this as well. I wouldn't say that this single should have done any better than it did, but it did show that Joni had a fun side and possessed the ability to do something in a more commercial vein - if she wanted to. (P.S.: Joni is one of my absolute favorite artists. Her 1971 classic album "Blue" is currently my favorite album of all-time. It is required listening in my book.)

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This was Mitchell's first and only song to reach the chart that she did not compose. Written in 1957 by the famous team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, it was first recorded by Elvis Presley and released on his "Jailhouse Rock" EP in 1957. Although it did not reach the pop chart, the song did hit #14 on the R&B chart. Buddy Holly also released a version that found its way on to the UK pop chart in 1958.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Memory" by Barry Manilow

Song#:  1253
Date:  11/20/1982
Debut:  79
Peak:  39
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  After a stop-gap experiment with the EP "Oh, Julie!," Manilow returned with the full-length album "Here Comes the Night." For the LPs first single, Manilow applied his patented big ballad approach to this song from the Broadway show "Cats." It did pretty well for a Broadway song just getting inside the Top 40 and hitting #8 at AC. The results bested Barbra Streisand's version that got to #52 pop and #9 AC earlier in the year. Although many artists have covered this song, Manilow's version still remains the only one to reach the pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  When it comes down to a Streisand version vs. any other version, I will usually side with Streisand. She typically knocks it outta tha park, so why look elsewhere? However, there are occasions where her version (dare I say it!) may not be the best (sacrilege!). I'd have to say this is one of those cases. Streisand soars high and sounds awesome, but what Manilow did was fit the song into his proven ballad formula and it just was a better fit for a pop audience. That gives his version a slight edge. I still don't think the song makes for a good single, but Manilow got about as close as anyone to making it fit.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  !) This song was sung by Grizabella, the Glamour Cat in the musical. Elaine Paige originated the role of Grizabella for the UK production. When the show moved to Broadway, the role was given to singer/actress Betty Buckley. Although Buckley became famous for this show and other Broadway roles, she is probably more well-known for two other non-stage roles. In 1976, she played the gym teacher in the horror classic "Carrie." Then from 1977-1981 she played the new stepmom on the hit TV show "Eight is Enough."  2) Up until 2006, "Cats" was the longest running Broadway show in history. The show had 7,493 performances from 1982-2000. Actress Marlene Danielle was the only original cast member to remain with the show for its entire Broadway run.