Saturday, October 17, 2015

"All My Life" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  1434
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  76
Peak:  37
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Rogers' first single and title track to his album "We've Got Tonight" was another multi-format hit. The song, a duet with Sheena Easton, returned him to the Pop Top 10 (#6) while reaching #2 AC and #1 country. This next single was probably meant to capitalize on this crossover audience and it certainly worked at AC where the song peaked at #2. However, Country and Pop seemed to be tiring of his mainstream ballads and it faltered at #13 Country while just making it into the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  The Foster-ization of Rogers continues with this song (producer David Foster, that is). And like "We've Got Tonight," I think it works very well. It helped that they started with a terrific song. It has a very pretty verse that leads to a slammin' chorus. During the 80s, Rogers flirted quite a bit with pop/AC-leaning tunes, but I'd have to say that this song and his 1984 single "What About Me?" (both produced by Foster) were the furthest away from country he got as a solo artist. This really is just pure pop and I loved it. I bought the single and played it quite a bit. The song has gotten lost over the years and I hadn't heard it in ages. It was nice to get reacquainted with this lovely tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Rogers' career began to take off when he and his band The First Edition hit the Pop chart in 1967 with "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" (#5). But nine years earlier, Rogers recorded a single that became a local hit in his hometown of Houston, Texas. Under the name Kenneth Rogers, the doo-wop song "That Crazy Feeling" was issued in 1958 on the Carlton label. While the song did very well in Texas, it didn't break nationally. Rogers gave it another shot in 1966 on Mercury Records with a jazzy rock version of "Here's That Rainy Day." Again, nothing came from it. But the following year he finally broke through with The First Edition song.


Friday, October 16, 2015

"That's Love" by Jim Capaldi

Song#:  1433
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  77
Peak:  28
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Singer/songwriter Capaldi started off his career as a drummer in a group called The Hellions. After that band failed to fully take flight, Capaldi then went on to form a new band with former Spencer Davis Band vocalist/keyboardist Steve Winwood. Adding Dave Mason and Chris Wood, they became Traffic. The band would have immediate success in the UK with their 1967 debut album "Mr. Fantasy" and eventually they would earn four US Top 10 albums. As the days of Traffic wound down, Capaldi began to set out on a solo career. Beginning in 1972, he would release seven albums but not much would come from them in the US. His eighth album, "Fierce Heart," finally drew some attention thanks to this first single that got into the Top 30 while hitting #3 at AC. It would end up being his biggest US chart single.

ReduxReview:  Here's a song I completely forgot about. Once it started to play, the full song flooded back immediately. It has kind of gotten lost over the years, which is too bad. It's a quality tune and I like it quite a bit. I'm gonna have to get this one downloaded and into my 80s soft rock playlist. I love it when these long forgotten songs creep up on the charts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although they were former bandmates, Capaldi and Winwood kept up there professional relationship after Traffic split. Winwood would end up co-producing "Fierce Heart" and play on every track. On this track, Winwood played synth and performed background vocals along with his wife Nicole.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Don't Pay the Ferryman" by Chris de Burgh

Song#:  1432
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  78
Peak:  34
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The son of a British diplomat, de Burgh's music career began when he signed with A&M Records in 1974. He issued a debut album that year titled "Far Beyond These Castle Walls," but in the UK and US it was a failure. However, it was a hit in other countries such as Brazil. His next four albums would see a similar fate - little attention in UK/US, popular elsewhere. Finally, de Burgh caught a break on his sixth album. The Rupert Hine-produced "The Getaway" contained this single that found its way onto both the US and UK charts. While it wasn't a huge hit (#48 in the UK), it did expand his audience and got the album into each country's Top 50. The song proved to be popular at US rock stations as well and it reached #29 on the Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  I fell for this song on first listen. It was just so awesome. The story, the charging chorus, the production, and the strange bridge added up to something that really struck my ears. I bought the single right away and then the album. De Burgh became more known for his ballads, but he had a few rock-leaning outings like this that I preferred by far. I was truly sad this single didn't get further up the chart.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The song tells a creepy tale of a man using a ferry to cross a river when a storm comes up. It refers to a hooded old man at the rudder, which is most likely a reference to the Grim Reaper. The story may have its roots in Greek mythology where the dead have to pay to cross the river Styx. One section of the song has a barely audible spoken word part. It is actually lines from Shakespeare's "The Tempest." The lines are recited by British actor Anthony Head.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"Love on Your Side" by Thompson Twins

Song#:  1431
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  85
Peak:  45
Weeks:  9
Genre:  New Wave

Pop Bits:  The Twins got their first US chart hit with "Lies" (#30 Pop, #1 Dance), the first single from their album "Side Kicks." This second single almost became their second Top 40 entry, but stopped a few notches short. However, it would be another hit at Dance for them reaching #6. Back in the trio's UK homeland, the single became their first Top 10 hit reaching #9.

ReduxReview:  This is another solid effort by the Twins, but it's not quite as good as the quirky "Lies." The trio had a great sound and their writing really improved from this point forward. The second verse of this song contains a reference back to one of their earlier singles. At the point Tom Bailey sings "I played you all my favorite records," the song take a slight break and plays the synth line from the chorus of their 1982 song "In the Name of Love" (#1 US Dance). It's a cute cheeky reference that works well.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In the UK, the album (titled "Quick Step and Side Kick" there) generated a second Top 10 hit for them. The track "We Are Detective" caught on and peaked at #7. A fourth single, "Watching," would also be issued but it could only muster a #33 showing. That song featured vocals by Grace Jones. The double Top 10's sent the album to #10 and it became a UK platinum seller.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Tonight" by The Whispers

Song#:  1430
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  87
Peak:  84
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The Whispers started the decade off quite well when their album "Imagination" hit #3 at R&B and went gold. It was helped along by the #1 R&B hit "It's a Love Thing." A follow-up album would tank, but they would quickly rebound with the another #1/gold album "Love Is Where You Find It." Their next album, "Love for Life," was a slight drop off peaking at #2 R&B and failing to reach gold level. But it hung in there thanks to a pair of #4 R&B hits that included this lead single, which crossed over onto the pop chart for a month.

ReduxReview:  The Whispers fully embraced the sounds of the day with this track. Producer Leon Sylvers III piled the synth sounds on this jam and it sounds pretty great. The song itself is not really that thrilling, but the groove and arrangement are 80s-rific.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Unlike a lot of long-lasting vocal groups or bands, since their inception in 1964, The Whispers maintained the same line-up throughout the years with only one exception. Original member Gordy Harmon damaged his voice box in a car accident in 1973 and could no longer sing with the group. Leaveil Degree was then hired to take Harmon's place. This line up remained intact until member Marcus Hutson died in 1992. However, the remaining members chose not to hire a replacement and continued on as a quartet instead.


Monday, October 12, 2015

"Where Everybody Knows Your Name (The Theme from 'Cheers')" by Gary Portnoy

Song#:  1429
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  83
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Singer/songwriter Portnoy was having some good success in the late 70s/early 80s. A few tunes he co-wrote wound up getting recorded by artists like Mac Davis, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, and Air Supply. It led to him recording his own solo album in 1980, but it didn't get anywhere. After a chance encounter with a Broadway producer, Portnoy and his writing partner at the time, Judy Hart Angelo, found themselves writing a score for a show titled "Preppies." The opening number of the show, "People Like Us," found its way to TV producers Glen and Les Charles. They thought it would be a perfect theme song for their new show called "Cheers." Unfortunately, due to the song being in "Preppies," it legally could not be used. The Charles' asked the songwriters to provide a new song. After a few rejected attempts, they finally hit the mark with "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." "Cheers" began its run in 1982, but it was not a success and was almost cancelled. However, the theme song became quite popular and soon Portnoy was in the studio recording a full-length version of the tune for single release. Although it did not become a major chart hit (a month at Pop, #28 AC), the theme has become one of the most recognizable in TV history. It topped a 2011 poll in "Rolling Stone" magazine as TV's best theme song. "TV Guide" also put it at the top of their 2013 list of best TV themes. The song would earn Portnoy and Hart Angelo an Emmy nod as well.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure what possessed me to watch "Cheers," but I saw it right from the start and loved it. The ratings were dismal its first season, but it must have been fated to be a hit because it was spared from the ax. I think this theme song had a lot to do with it. It was a terrific tune that caught on and drew folks to the show. I bought this single when it first came out in 1982. At that time it was titled "Theme from the TV Show Cheers (Where Everybody Knows Your Name." It didn't get anywhere initially (like the show), but its popularity grew and it was reissued on another label and finally hit the chart. It is one of the best TV themes ever with a chorus that really hits a home run. As a full-length song, it's not nearly as well-written as something such as "Theme from 'Greatest American Hero' (Believe It or Not)." The added verses are a little goofy, which gives the tune a novelty feel. However, it stands up pretty well thanks to the brilliant chorus.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Following his most famous composition, Portnoy continued to write songs for artists and TV shows. He supplied two song for "Fame" (one of which got him another Emmy nod) and also co-wrote the themes to "Mr. Belvedere" (sung by Leon Redbone) and "Punky Brewster." But by 1985, Portnoy was done with the music biz and pretty much dropped out of sight. He would resurface years later and record a few albums beginning with 2003's "Keeper."


Sunday, October 11, 2015

"Ricky" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

Song#:  1428
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  63
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Comedy

Pop Bits:  Yankovic started his musical journey when his parents bought him an accordion and he began lessons just before he turned six. After a few years of lessons, he branched out on his own and started to apply the accordion to rock music. In his teens he began to write his own songs with a comic edge. He recorded original and parody songs on a cassette player and sent it to Dr. Demento. One of his first tunes, "Belvedere Cruisin'," caught Demento's ear and he played it on his radio show. Later in college, Yankovic recorded a parody of The Knack's "My Sharona" as "My Bologna" and once again, Dr. Demento played the song. It got a great response and it led to his first record deal (thanks to The Knack's Doug Fieger who was a fan of Yankovic's parody). Unfortunately, the label went out of business and Yankovic was on his own again. After a couple of years playing shows and writing more material, he got signed to Scotti Brothers and released his self-titled debut album. This first single, a parody of the Toni Basil hit "Mickey," was able to reach the Pop chart thanks in part to the song's video, which became popular on MTV.

ReduxReview:  I remember this song very well. At the time there were always reruns of "I Love Lucy" on and I watched it all the time. Then I saw this on MTV and totally loved it. I went out and bought the 45 immediately. However, just listening to the song is not the same experience as watching the video. That's why I included it above instead of just the song file. Yankovic is terrific, but his songs, no matter how good, are ones that I couldn't hear on a regular basis. Once in a great while they can provide a chuckle when they come on, but I'd never hit the repeat button. However, I love watching the videos. As you may know (if you've followed the blog for a while) I'm not a big fan of comedy/novelty singles. Most are annoying and crappy. However, "Weird Al" is in a different league. I find him slyly clever and I think he is a person who really cares about his craft. He's not an idiot who makes fart jokes, thinks it's hilarious, and then wants to make money off of it. So I've got some love for "Weird Al." This song really got his career going. He would go on to do better parodies, but this is still a goody.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The video for this song was Yankovic's first. In it, he played Desi Arnez while Tress MacNeille played Lucille Ball. Dr. Demento makes a cameo appearance as does a cheerleader, which was a reference back to the original "Mickey" video. MacNeille would go on to be a very successful voice over artist. Fans of "The Simpsons" will most likely recognize her name in the credits. MacNeille supplied several voices for the show including the ones for Agnes Skinner, Cookie Kwan, and the Crazy Cat Lady. She also did voices for "Futurama" and various Warner Bros./Disney cartooons.  2) Even though he was headed towards a career in music, Yankovic did finish college. He earned a BA in architecture from California Polytechnic State University.