Saturday, August 29, 2015

"So Wrong" by Patrick Simmons

Song#:  1385
Date:  03/19/1983
Debut:  72
Peak:  30
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  With The Doobie Brothers kaput, founding member Simmons took the same route as Michael McDonald and headed out on a solo career. McDonald was able to grab a hit with his debut solo single "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" (#4), so hopes were high that Simmons could do the same. This first single from his album "Arcade" got enough attention to just barely make the pop Top 30. Rock radio was a little more receptive with the song reaching #17. It even briefly hit the R&B chart at #77. The single helped the album reach #57, but it all wasn't quite enough to make Simmons a solo star.

ReduxReview:  Here is another song that I knew reached the Top 40, yet I could not remember a lick of it. And even after taking a listen, it still wasn't familiar. This one is slightly odd. Not necessarily the song itself, but the pairing of it with Simmons. He was the Southern folk/rock guy of the Doobies who wrote some lovely melodies, so this highly produced dance/rocker tune seems out of character. Maybe that was the intent - separate from the Doobie sound (even though the harmonies totally reflect the band). Simmons co-wrote the tune with Chris Thompson (of the group Night) and I like it. I'm not sure why I missed this back in the day. I love songs that have a driving groove like this and am glad to rediscover it. I wish his album followed the sound of this song, but it is a mish-mash of different styles that doesn't gel into a solid work. Regardless, I'll be adding this song to my collection.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to being a founding member of The Doobie Brothers, Simmons contributed songs along the way. His most famous composition would be 1974's "Black Water." Issued as a single, it became The Doobie's first #1 hit.  2) Oddly, this song received a dance remix and it ended up receiving a lot of club play. It did well enough to reach #7 on the dance chart, which was the highest position it reached on any chart.


Friday, August 28, 2015

"Mornin'" by Jarreau

Song#:  1384
Date:  03/19/1983
Debut:  80
Peak:  21
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Before anyone says anything, no...I did not forgot to put "Al" in his name. For whatever reason, after the major success of his Grammy-winning LP "Breakin' Away," Al Jarreau decided to chuck his first name and go simply by Jarreau. His follow-up album would then be the self-titled "Jarreau." The rebranding didn't seem to work out as he returned to his full name on his next album. But before that, the mononymous Jarreau issued this first single from the "Jarreau" LP. It would become his second R&B Top 10 hit (#6) while just barely missing out on the pop Top 20. It would do even better at AC where it reached #2. The hit would propel the album to #13 pop, #4 R&B, and #1 jazz. It would be his second platinum album following "Breakin' Away."

ReduxReview:  I read somewhere that the co-writer of this song Jay Graydon though that Jarreau was a pretty bad lyricist. Based on this song, I'd have to agree. It was the main reason I didn't like this song. Chattin' up Cheerios, an oriole, a shoeshine man, and touching the face of God was all a bit too silly for me. It's a lovely, breezy tune that can be quite enjoyable if you can just get passed the lyrics. The bridge is especially effective. These days, I think the lyrics may be part of the goofy charm of this song. Jarreau greeting his cereal kind of made this a memorable tune that still gets a lot of supermarket airplay. (P.S.: The video for this song is equally weird and goofy with a real Jarreau walking and floating through an animated world.)

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:   This song, co-written by David Foster and Jay Graydon, was first recorded as an instrumental. It appeared on an album titled "The Best of Me" that Foster recorded for release in Japan. Graydon, who produced Jarreau's "Breakin' Away" album, took the song to Jarreau thinking it would be a perfect fit for him. Jarreau then wrote the lyrics and recorded the song.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Carrie's Gone" by Le Roux

Song#:  1383
Date:  03/19/1983
Debut:  81
Peak:  81
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Le Roux got their first (and only) major hit when "Nobody Said It Was Easy" reached #18 the previous year. Unfortunately, after experiencing their best success, two members left the group including lead singer/songwriter Jeff Pollard. Forging ahead, the band moved even further away from their Cajun roots and cranked up the arena rock on their next LP "So Fired Up." This first single was nothing like "Nobody Said" and it seemed that listeners were not that impressed with the band's new direction. The song peaked where it debuted on the chart and quickly disappeared. The results got them dropped from the RCA roster and they decided to call it quits in 1984.

ReduxReview:  The new direction of the band was probably not the best choice. Many songs on the album were gutsy rockers that were akin to Styx, Journey and Survivor. I'm sure they were trying to stay current and wanting to skew younger (check out the hair in the video), but it just wasn't working. I think the biggest problem with Le Roux was that they never fully settled on a defining sound. It's great to reach for new ideas, but before you can even do that you've got to have your feet planted somewhere and it seemed this band never did. This run-of-the-mill pop/rock tune certainly didn't help. It pretty much brought their career to an end.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The Carrie in the song is in reference to Carrie Hamilton, the daughter of Carol Burnett. Hamilton had dated Le Roux band member Fergie Frederiksen, who would serve as Pollard's replacement. After his relationship with Hamilton ended, Frederiksen wrote this song. Sadly, Hamilton died of lung and brain cancer in 2002 (age 38). Frederiksen also succumbed to cancer in January 2014.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"American Made" by Oak Ridge Boys

Song#:  1382
Date:  03/19/1983
Debut:  82
Peak:  72
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Country

Pop Bits:  Coming off of two major hit albums, the platinum "Fancy Free" and the gold "Bobbie Sue," the Oaks issued what would be their third big crossover LP, the gold "American Made." The album would reach #2 on the country chart (#51 pop) thanks to two #1 country hits; this first title-track single and "Love Song." The title track did well enough to cross over onto the pop chart for a few weeks. It would be the Oak's last song to do so. However, they continued to have success on the country chart throughout the remainder of the 80s grabbing nine more #1 hits.

ReduxReview:  You can't really deny the chorus of this song. It's very catchy and easy enough where everyone can sing along. Its use in a commercial (see below) was spot on. However, the song as a whole borders on country-corny for me. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy some delicious corn every once in a while, but I'm just not a fan of this ear.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The song's crossover appeal was helped along by its use in a TV commercial. Miller Brewing Company used the song for their ads. However, the lyrics were changed to be about the product rather than a girl with the chorus beginning as "Miller's made the American way, born and brewed in the USA." Apparently, the idea of using this song for the ads did not sit well with the Oaks and they didn't want anything to do with it. But since they did not write or publish the song, they couldn't stop its use. Other vocalists were then used for the commercial. It's been mentioned that the Oaks took this song out of their live sets during the time period Miller used it for their ads.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"Eenie Meenie" by Jeffery Osborne

Song#:  1381
Date:  03/19/1983
Debut:  83
Peak:  76
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Osborne's self-titled debut album was a solid hit for him reaching #3 at R&B and #49 pop. It was helped along by two singles, the groovy "I Really Don't Need No Light" (#3 R&B/#39pop) and the big ballad "On the Winds of Love" (#13 R&B/#29 pop/#7 AC). This third single was issued but the only place it got attention was at AC where it reached #18. The tune stayed near the bottom of the pop chart for a few weeks while missing the R&B chart completely.

ReduxReview:  Osborne's voice can enhance most any song, which is a good thing because this thin slice of SoCal pop needed a boost. Osborne takes a fairly average song and brings it to life with his delivery. In the hands of a less capable vocalist, this song would be a snoozer. I'm not a fan of the song, which would probably rate a 4, but Osborne makes it a pleasant listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Michael Sembello. At the time, Sembello was a successful session musician and would occasionally write/produce songs for other artists. But before the end of 1983, Sembello would find himself with his own solo hit. "Maniac" from the "Flashdance" soundtrack would become an unexpected #1 smash.


Monday, August 24, 2015

"Every Home Should Have One" by Patti Austin

Song#:  1380
Date:  03/19/1983
Debut:  85
Peak:  69
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Thanks to its appearance on the ABC soap "General Hospital," Austin's duet with James Ingram, "Baby, Come to Me," got a second lease on life and made it to #1 for a couple of weeks. Since the reissued single was highly successful, then why not try it again? Initially, this was the second single from her album of the same name. Released in late 1981, the song only managed to reach #62 at pop (#55 R&B, #24 AC). After "Baby, Come to Me" topped the charts, a new single needed to be pushed out. The label chose to remix this song and issue it as the follow-up. It fared just slightly worse than it did when first released. The reissue lightning did not strike twice.

ReduxReview:  I really don't know why the label chose to reissue this single. I guess they were thinking that this song should have done better when first released and thanks to "Baby," this was a second chance to make a hit out of it - ala "Baby." I don't think it was a smart move. They should have either rushed her into the studio for a new song (and follow-up album) or at least try another song from the album. Since the LP had already spawned three singles, which included the #1 dance hit (#24 R&B) "Do You Love Me," I probably would have rush recorded a new song to keep up momentum. Instead, we got this reissue and it didn't help her career at all. Regardless, it's still a good song that should have done better the first time around.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Austin's first three albums leaned toward jazz as well as R&B. Two of them reached the jazz chart. With that genre's audience paying attention, her fourth album, "Every Home Should Have One" became her first Top 10 jazz album reaching #9. She turned towards more commercial pop/R&B fare for her next two albums, but her 1988 album "The Real Me" marked her return to jazz and it hit #7 on the jazz chart. She would go on to place seven more LP's on the jazz chart including her best effort, the #4 "Love Is Gonna Getcha" in 1990.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo

Song#:  1379
Date:  03/19/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  58
Weeks:  9
Genre:  New Wave

Pop Bits:  Stan Ridgeway and Marc Moreland began to develop a band while Ridgeway was still running his film music company Acme Soundtracks. By 1977, the pair had a lineup and began performing as Wall of Voodoo. The signed with IRS Records and a self-titled EP in 1980 got them a bit of attention thanks to an odd cover of  Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." A full LP called "Dark Continent" came out the next year. It didn't get a lot of notice, but the album charted (#177) and it allowed them to record a second full-length album. "Call of the West" got issued in 1982. It's first single, "On Interstate 15," was pretty much ignored, but this second single jump started the album. Thanks to a quirky video that played on MTV, the song gained an audience and peaked a bit short of the pop Top 50 (#41 Mainstream Rock). It would end up being their only pop chart entry. Ridgeway would leave the group soon after while Moreland continued on with the other members. They would release three more LPs to little notice in the US. However, they had a successful following in Australia thanks to a couple of singles that hit the chart there.

ReduxReview:  There were many songs throughout the 80s that became popular thanks to MTV. Chances are, without that exposure some of these songs may have never found an audience. I would venture to guess that this would have been one of them. It's just a bit too odd for a pop audience. Even rock radio wasn't sure what to do with it. But they gained fans thanks to the equally odd video for the song. I didn't really like either at the time. What I remembered most was the face coming out of the pot of beans. The song seems less odd now than it did back then and I kind of dig it. Beans and all.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band's unusual name came from a friend of Ridgeway's who was listening to some of their recordings in the studio. Ridgeway apparently joked that all the overdubs made the music sound similar to Phil Spector's famous "wall of sound." His friend said it was more like a "wall of voodoo."  2) This song's roots comes from actual Mexican radio. There were several unregulated Mexican AM stations near the US border that had very strong signals and their broadcasts would push quite far into the US. The stations were called "border blasters" and they would often interfere with US radio stations. Ridgeway apparently would try to hone in on these stations while the band was traveling around and when he would happen on one, he would say "I'm on one! I'm on Mexican radio!" The broadcast voices you hear in the song are taped from actual border blasters.