Saturday, October 3, 2015

"The Devil Made Me Do It" by Golden Earring

Song#:  1420
Date:  04/23/1983
Debut:  87
Peak:  79
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  It took many years, but this Dutch band finally grabbed their first US Top 10 hit, "Twilight Zone" (#10 Pop, #1 Rock), from their sixteenth studio album "Cut." They tried to keep the momentum going with this second single, but it just wasn't meant to be. The song spent a short month on the Pop chart while not even registering on the Rock chart. A contributing factor to the single's quick demise was its lyrics. The song contains the word "bullshit," which made it not acceptable for airplay on the vast majority of pop/rock radio stations. The curse word limited the song's exposure and pretty much killed its chances of becoming a hit in the US. It still did well in their home territory reaching #15 on the Dutch chart.

ReduxReview:  Even if the song didn't include the word "bullshit," I don't think it would have been a hit. It's a bit odd. The quick tempo, horns, and spoken background vocals were not exactly pop radio friendly. However, I like the tune. I find it different and interesting. The production is great and it grabbed my attention right away. As an album track, it's terrific. As a single, not so great.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For the cover of their "Cut" album, a famous photograph was used. In 1964, M.I.T. professor Harold "Doc" Edgerton used stroboscopic equipment to capture the image of a playing card getting sliced in half by a bullet. The image was also used in the espionage-style video for "Twilight Zone." Golden Earring was not the only band to use one of Edgerton's images for an album cover. The 1988 self-titled debut LP by the Bullet Boys featured Edgerton's image of a bullet passing through an apple.


Friday, October 2, 2015

"Affair of the Heart" by Rick Springfield

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1419
Date:  04/16/1983
Debut:  53
Peak:  9
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  By this time, Springfield had racked up three Top 10 hits (including the #1 "Jessie's Girl") from two platinum selling albums. The success of his music career was truly surpassing that of his acting day job on "General Hospital." He continued the streak with his next LP "Living in Oz." While his previous two efforts were full of well-crafted pop/rock songs, the new album showed Springfield moving into more mature territory and expanding his sound with synths and a harder edge. This first single was greeted well by pop fans who handed Springfield his fourth Top 10 hit (#23 Rock). It also earned him a Grammy nod for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. Although the album would peak just outside of the Top 10 at #12, it was another platinum seller for Springfield.

ReduxReview:  This is the album where Springfield got loud. Both "Working Class Dog" and "Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet" contained crunchy, guitar driven pop/rock songs without a lot of frills. For "Living in Oz" it seemed that Springfield wanted to incorporate the new musical technology and really go for a new sound. He did and I liked the results. The songs were layered with guitars and synths which gave them a density that screamed "I'm a grown up now!" I think it was a positive change for him but a lot of critics didn't like it. I think the album is underrated. It's not perfect and there is some filler material, but there is a lot of good going on including this song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The "Oz" of the album title did not com from "The Wizard of Oz." It's an informal word that refers to Springfield's home country of Australia. Apparently when people spoke the short version of Australia, which was simply "Aus," it sounded like it ended with a "z." The way it was pronounced made it sound like it should be spelled as "Oz." The spelling took hold and over the years Australia has simply become known as Oz.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Faithfully" by Journey

Song#:  1418
Date:  04/16/1983
Debut:  55
Peak:  12
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  Journey's highly anticipated "Frontiers" album got off to a good start when its first single, "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" reached #8 (#1 Rock). For their next single, this power ballad was chosen. They were most likely hoping it would hit in the same way their ballad "Open Arms" did (#2), but it ended up peaking just shy of the Top 10. Oddly, rock radio ignored the tune and it failed to chart there. However, the song did find its way to #24 on the AC chart. Although the single peaked at a very respectable #12, it was a bit of a disappointment coming off of three Top 10 hits from their previous album "Escape."

ReduxReview:  The difference between this song and "Open Arms" is that "Faithfully" is truly a power ballad. "Open Arms" was a quiet piece for the band featuring some strings. "Faithfully" is a balls-out, arena ready rock song complete with guitar solos and massive synth sounds. The heavier sound and Steve Perry's wailing vocals may not have affected folks as much as the unexpected tenderness of "Open Arms." Therefore, I think it was destined to not do as well. Regardless, I've always loved the song and consider it among their best.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song came out at a time when Prince was writing songs for his film "Purple Rain." After Prince wrote the title-track tune, he got a little worried that the song sounded too much like Journey's "Faithfully." So he got in contact with the song's writer, Journey member Jonathan Cain, to seek his opinion. After Cain listened to "Purple Rain," he told Prince that the songs may have some chords in common, but there were no other real similarities. Cain's clearance of the song led to a classic being born.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Time (Clock of the Heart)" by Culture Club

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1417
Date:  04/16/1983
Debut:  59
Peak:  2
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:   Culture Club's first US single, "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me," was a major success reaching #2 and staying there for three weeks. This next single proved the band was not a one-hit wonder when it replicated the first single's peak position for two weeks. The song was also a hit at AC getting to #6, while making an appearance at R&B (#34). The one-two punch along with the fascination over Boy George drove this band quickly into the spotlight. The album would reach #14 and become a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  Upon release, I liked this song and bought the single. I didn't think it was fantastic, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. However, as an artist's catalog gets older, there are some songs that age better than others. For Culture Club, this is definitely the one that has aged the best. There is a timeless quality about it that makes the song just as good now, if not better, than when it was first issued. Although it is my second personal favorite CC song, I think it may be their best moment on record.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When "Kissing to Be Clever" was first issued in the UK (and Europe), it did not include this song. After the worldwide success of "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" (which was actually the third single from the album released in the UK), this song was issued as a standalone single in the European countries. The US printing of the album, which was released at a later date, did include this song. 2) In 2004, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame compiled a list of the 500 songs that helped shape rock and roll. This song was included on the list.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"I Eat Cannibals" by Total Coelo

Song#:  1416
Date:  04/16/1983
Debut:  80
Peak:  66
Weeks:  6
Genre:  New Wave, Novelty

Pop Bits:  This British all-female vocal quintet got formed with the help of producer Barry Blue. He co-wrote this song and a few others that the ladies recorded. The video for this song featured the group in day-glo plastic outfits and other costumes. It caught on and soon the dancable track found its way to #8 on the UK chart. Although the video was popular on MTV, it didn't translate to becoming a hit in the States. The single could only manage to get a third of the way up the chart (#27 Dance). A second single, "Dracula's Tango," was issued but it wasn't nearly as popular flaming out quickly on the UK chart at #54. Soon after the group's success, two of its members decided to leave. The other three issued a couple of singles, but no one took notice. They fully disbanded before they could even issue a formal studio album. However, their singles, b-sides, and unreleased songs were collected up into an album titled "Man o' War," but by the time of its release, interest in the group was lost and the LP tanked.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't aware of this song until I bought an 80s new wave compilation many years ago. Although the beat is kind of catchy, the song is pretty ridiculous. Yes, I know it is not a serious piece of work and was just meant to be fun, but I just thought it took one step over the line into bad novelty territory with lyrics that tried way too hard to be clever. It's as if Bananarama and Bow Wow Wow got drunk in the studio one night and did this as a joke. That probably would have been preferable to what was actually released.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The group's original name is Toto Coelo, which is Latin for "by the whole extent of the heavens." However, the US band Toto wasn't fond of the name so for their North American audiences they became Total Coelo.  2) Singer/songwriter Barry Blue had a small string of hits in the UK in the early 70s, which included a couple of Top 10's. After his solo career fizzled, Blue continued to write and produce for other artists. Perhaps his biggest success in the US was when he produced two albums for the UK disco/R&B band Heatwave. They had three US Top 10 platinum-selling hits including "Boogie Nights" (#5, 1976) and "Always and Forever" (#2, 1977).


Monday, September 28, 2015

"Why Me" by Planet P

Song#:  1415
Date:  04/16/1983
Debut:  83
Peak:  64
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Prog Rock

Pop Bits:  Following the release of his second solo album, singer/songwriter Tony Carey signed on to Geffen for his third album. But before that album was set to go, Carey was able to sign a second deal with Geffen to release his more experimental tracks under the pseudonym of Planet P (later updated to Planet P Project). Since Carey had those recordings set to go, his first effort for Geffen ended up being the self-titled debut LP for Planet P. This first single was issued from the album and it gained exposure through a video played on MTV. Rock radio loved the track and sent it to #4 on Mainstream Rock chart, which in turn helped the single reach the Pop chart where it resided for a couple of months. Oddly, when this song debuted, Carey's first solo charting single, "I Won't Be Home Tonight" (#79) was still riding the chart. This Planet P song would end up doing slightly better. Although Carey would go on to have more solo chart singles, this would the the lone one for Planet P.

ReduxReview:  Planet P's sci-fi themed prog-rock songs were interesting, but they weren't necessarily made for pop chart consumption, which is perfectly fine. So it must have been a nice bonus that Carey's project ended up with this left-field rock hit. It kind of borders on Alan Parsons Project territory (in a good way). I like the song and several others on the album. Had I known this existed back in the day, I probably would have picked it up. I don't think I'd categorize it as a lost treasure, but it is an interesting find.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although Carey was scheduled to release his third album, "Some Tough City," on Geffen, label execs had issues with a couple of songs (including what would become Carey's biggest solo hit, "It's a Fine Fine Day"). Carey also handed in the next Planet P album and they didn't care for that either. With Geffen not thrilled with the results, Carey ended up getting moved over to MCA. They went ahead and issued both "Some Tough City" and Planet P's "Pink World."  2) Carey got his recording pseudonym from the 1959 novel "Starship Troopers" by Robert A. Heinlein. There is a planet in the novel called Planet P. Years later, film rights to the novel were purchased and in 1997 the movie "Starship Troopers" was released. However, a good chunk of the film had nothing to do with the book. Ends up, director Paul Verhoeven only purchased the rights to help enhance a movie that he was already working on. Verhoeven has said he hadn't even read the book and when he tried, he hated it. Therefore, the film has little to do with the concepts in the book.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

"Cool Places" by Sparks and Jane Wiedlin

Song#:  1414
Date:  04/16/1983
Debut:  86
Peak:  49
Weeks:  12
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  After years of albums that barely notched above a cult-like level, Sparks was beginning to make a dent in the mainstream. Their 1982 album "Angst in My Pants" supplied them with their first Pop chart single, "I Predict" (#60). It set them up well for their next LP "Sparks in Outer Space." For the album's first single, Sparks brought on board Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Go's for this duet. Since The Go-Go's were hugely popular at the time, Wiedlin's name would certainly draw some attention to the single and to Sparks. The ploy worked well with the single getting inside the Top 50 and the album becoming one of their most popular in the US. The song would also be a hit on the Dance chart reaching #13. Success would be short-lived though as both the single and album would be the band's last to appear on the Pop charts.

ReduxReview:  Perhaps like a lot of other people, this was my introduction to Sparks and it came courtesy of Jane Wiedlin. Being a huge fan of The Go-Go's, hearing any project from any band member was a must, so I jumped on this single promptly. It was a worthy purchase. I loved the song and thought the production was excellent. I thought for sure this would get into the Top 40, but it stalled short. Oddly, the song did not make me a big Sparks fan. I liked them (and still do), but the draw for me here was Wiedlin and the song. I love it when this song creeps up on one of my playlists.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  There are varying accounts of how Sparks and Wiedlin got together. What seems to be the most plausible story is that Wiedlin discovered the band as a teenager and loved them so much that she started her own unauthorized local fan club. After The Go-Go's hit it big, she wrote a fan letter to the band that was given directly to Sparks' Russell Mael. He responded back saying that they should collaborate. They did and the results were this song plus another track on the album "Lucky Me, Lucky You." The following year, the Mael brothers returned the favor by co-writing the song "Yes or No" with Wiedlin for The Go-Go's album "Talk Show."