Saturday, November 7, 2015

"How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" by James Ingram with Patti Austin

Song#:  1455
Date:  05/14/1983
Debut:  80
Peak:  45
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  This duo had an unexpected #1 hit late in '82 when "Baby Come to Me," from Austin's album "Every Home Should Have One," got tons of attention via the TV soap "General Hospital." The singers were paired up again for this song that was featured in the 1982 rom-com "Best Friends," starring Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn. Although there would not be an official soundtrack to the film, this song was popular enough to spark a single release. It ended up peaking just outside of the Pop Top 40, but it was a hit at AC and R&B where it reached #5 and #6, respectively. The song would eventually find its way to Ingram's debut album the following year. The pair also recorded the song "Think About Love," which was heard in the film but never released.

ReduxReview:  I've always thought this was a pretty ballad. It's perfect for AC, but runs a bit on the mature side for 80s pop radio. I'm even a little surprised it did so well at R&B. The song has gone on to be a bit of a pop standard with artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand recording the tune. It's not a classic in any way, but it's a very good song that is once again made better by Ingram's vocals (don't get me wrong, Austin is no slouch, but Ingram just nails it).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song would go on to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Composed by Michel Legrand (music) with Alan and Marilyn Bergman (lyrics), it was one of three songs that were nominated that year to be co-written by the Bergmans. Despite the multiple nominations, they still lost out on the award which went to the #1 hit "Up Where We Belong."


Friday, November 6, 2015

"Side by Side" by Earth, Wind & Fire

Song#:  1454
Date:  05/14/1983
Debut:  82
Peak:  76
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  EWF's "Powerlight" album got off to an okay start with the #17 "Fall in Love with Me" (#4 R&B). This second single didn't do much to improve the album's future when it only got to #15 at R&B while pretty much crashing at pop. Although the album would reach gold level, it was a definite drop from their previous platinum successes.

ReduxReview:  After updating their sound with the awesome "Let's Groove" (#3), the band kind of retreated back to the safety of their 70s sound, as this single shows. They aren't offering anything new here. In fact, it just sounds like a tired retread of material they've done before. Maurice White is an excellent craftsman, but it's hard to turn lackluster material into something hit-worthy.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  During the summer of '83, EWF recorded a song that would be used in a feature-length animated film. Their song "Dance, Dance, Dance" would be featured in the Canadian movie "Rock & Rule." At the time, there were a few adult-oriented animated features being made such as 1981's "Heavy Metal," which had a successful soundtrack. "Rock & Rule" was another music-oriented sci-fi film that boasted songs from EWF, Cheap Trick, Lou Reed, and Debbie Harry. Although the movie was slated for US release, its distributor was bought by another company and the new folks in charge didn't like it. The film saw a very limited release and then got shelved. The lack of support meant that no soundtrack album was ever issued. This EWF song remained vaulted (most likely due to rights issues) until recently when it found its way into iTunes. The film later garnered a small cult following thanks to repeated plays in the early days of HBO and Showtime.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" by A Flock of Seagulls

Song#:  1453
Date:  05/14/1983
Debut:  85
Peak:  26
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  The Seagulls flew onto the chart with their #9 single "I Ran (So Far Away)"from their gold-selling self-titled debut album. When time came to record a follow-up album, the band didn't stray too far from their sci-fi synthpop and came up with "Listen." This first single became the band's first (and only) UK Top 10 hitting #10, but US audiences were not as enthralled and the song faltered after getting into the Top 30. However, rock radio responded well and it reached #3 on the Rock chart. The album did okay on the US chart getting to #16, but it did not sell nearly as well as their debut and faded away quickly.

ReduxReview:  I think no matter what they did, the Seagulls were going to have a tough time trying to keep a career going. Despite having a major hit and a very good debut album, their sound and look were quite specific and bordered on being a gimmick. When that happens, people jump on board the latest thing, but will abandon it just as quickly to move on to something else flashy and new. So it comes down to the music and if it's good enough to maintain an audience. Although I like this song, it's not a very strong single contender, especially when put next to "I Ran" or even "Space Age Love Song." It's a more thoughtful song that is between a ballad and something danceable, which was probably not a good choice. They should have come out of the gate with a bangin' tune with a huge hook. Unfortunately, they lost the majority of their audience with this one. It's too bad because this really is a solid song and their next album offered up some gems as well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Lead singer (and former hairdresser) Mike Score sported  a hairdo was just about as famous as "I Ran." At one point, he was getting more questions about his hair than about the band's music. Just how iconic did Score's hair become? It's been references many times over the years including in Quentin Tarantino's Oscar-winning 1994 film "Pulp Fiction." In one scene, Samuel L. Jackson gets the attention of a guy who has a sleek hairdo by saying "hey, Flock of Seagulls."


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"When I'm With You" by Sheriff

Song#:  1452
Date:  05/14/1983
Debut:  86
Peak:  61
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Formed in 1979, this Canadian band got signed to Capitol Records and issued a self-titled debut album in 1982. The LP's first single, "You Remind Me," did well enough to make it into the Canadian Top 40 and reach #33 on the US Rock chart. However, it missed the US Pop chart. A second single didn't generate any interest, but this third single got the band their lone Canadian Top 10 hit (#8) while spending a few weeks on the US Pop chart. Unfortunately, the band split up two years later before they could issue a follow-up.

ReduxReview:  Here is another instance where everyone thought the single was dead and buried only to have it resurrected years later as a hit. A Las Vegas DJ started spinning the tune in 1989 and suddenly the song took off. It would go on to hit #1 on the US Pop and AC charts - six years after it was first released and four years after the band split. Like most folks, I knew the song from that reissue. At this point and time I had no idea it existed, which is too bad. I probably would have bought the single. It's a tad treacly, but it's a good ballad with a killer vocal.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Members of Sheriff would go on to form other bands. Two of them would form Frozen Ghost while two others would form Alias. Both bands had some success.  Frozen Ghost would grab five Canadian Top 40 singles (including "Should I See," which reached #69 in the US in 1987). Alias would grab a major hit in 1990 with "More Than Words Can Say" (#1 Canada, #2 US).  2) Apparently, lead singer Freddy Curci holds a Guinness Book of World Records title for longest note held in a hit pop song (without any studio trickery). Depending on where the clock starts, he seems to hold the last note 20-25 seconds. The record states 30 seconds, but that may include the rev up to the note, which was all done in the same breath.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"I Cannot Believe It's True" by Phil Collins

Song#:  1451
Date:  05/14/1983
Debut:  87
Peak:  79
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  After the dark and brooding "I Don't Care Anymore" reached #39 on the Pop chart, Collins chose something a bit brighter for the third single from his album "Hello, I Must Be Going!" This horn-laden track seemed like a good selection, but it quickly left the chart after a month. By this time the album had already peaked at #8 and would eventually sell 3 million copies.

ReduxReview:  Here's another good song from an album that I really enjoyed. I don't think it made a terrific single, but it should have done a bit better than a lowly #79 peak. Oddly, I thought that one of the songs that never saw release or airplay (see below), "It Don't Matter to Me," would have made a better single. Or even the ballad "Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away" (which got a very belated US release in 2004 to promote a hits disc - it reached #5 at AC). The label was really goofy on what songs to release where, but overall it didn't matter too much because the album sold well and pushed Collins' star even higher.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although this was the third single issued from the album in the US, overall it was the sixth released. Only one song from the album had a join US/UK release, "You Can't Hurry Love" (#1 UK, #10 US). Other than that, the UK saw three other songs from the album hit the chart while in the US, two different songs (including this one and "I Don't Care Anymore") were released. Additionally, two different songs from the album hit the US Rock chart, which means eight of the LP's ten songs reached a chart somewhere.


Monday, November 2, 2015

"What You Do to Me" Carl Wilson

Song#:  1450
Date:  05/14/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  72
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The early 80s were not a good period for The Beach Boys. There was a lot of inner turmoil that caused issues with tours and studio work. Carl Wilson was especially not happy that the band was slacking on recording new material, so he decided to step out on his own. His first solo effort was a 1981 self-titled album that barely made a blip on the album chart. It featured the single "Heaven" which was able to reach #20 at AC. A second effort titled "Youngblood" got issued two years later and this song became his first (and only) solo single to reach the Pop chart. It also hit #20 at AC. Unfortunately, the album still tanked and that ended Wilson's solo output. He would return to The Beach Boys, who would finally issue a new album in 1985. Wilson would succumb to lung cancer in 1998.

ReduxReview:  Carl sang lead on my all-time favorite Beach Boys song, "God Only Knows." He also handled vocals on their big classic "Good Vibrations." This song certainly rocks along and doesn't sound remotely Beach Boys-ish. It starts out pretty great and it grooves along nicely, but there is not a solid hook here to make it memorable. It's a good effort, but ends up falling short of being a real chart contender.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) With this song, Wilson became only the second Beach Boy to have a solo single reach the Pop chart. Brian Wilson was the first when he issued the song "Caroline, No" under his own name in 1966 prior to the release of their classic album "Pet Sounds." The single reached #32. Beach Boy Mike Love also hit the pop chart, but that was with another group. He formed a side project called Celebration and that band was chosen to perform songs for the soundtrack to the 1978 film "Almost Summer." The title-track song was issued as a single and it reached #28 on the Pop chart.  2)  During this time, in addition to his solo albums, Carl Wilson struck out on his own as a solo touring act - a first for a Beach Boy. He and his band played the major clubs and also supported The Doobie Brothers on their 1981 tour.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1449
Date:  05/14/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  26
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  As part of The Tourists, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart got a little taste of success when their remake of "I Only Wanna Be with You" reached #4 in the UK (#83 US). But after three albums, the band fizzled out when inner turmoil and musical direction disagreements arose. Lennox and Stewart then decided to set out on their own as a duo and Eurythmics was born. They signed with RCA and issued their debut album "In the Garden." The album was not a success. The duo then recorded and released three singles in the UK, but none of them really took off. In January of '83, they put out one more single - this title track to their second album. The propulsive song and its intriguing video was the one that would make them stars. After hitting #2 in the UK, the single gained ground in the US where it would make it to the top of the Pop chart (#2 Dance, #16 Rock, #36 AC). Eurythmics were finally off and running. The success got them a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

ReduxReview:  I'll say it right now - Annie Lennox is tha shizzle. I fell head over heels for her when this song came out and I still worship her. She is a great musician and songwriter, a cool human being, smart as a whip, and she is a force to be reckoned with on stage (if you don't believe me, check out last year's Grammy performance). Combined with the brilliant Dave Stewart, the pair quickly became an absolute favorite of mine. This song hit me full-tilt boogie. It was like a slap across the face. The beat, the synths, and the arrangement were all done to perfection, but it was Lennox's intense voice that sold the song. And then the video. Holy crap. There was nothing like it on MTV up to that point with Lennox creating an indelible image in that suit and short orange hair brandishing that pointer (and the cow - don't forget the cow). This song was all it took to make me a life-long fan. A true classic from the era.


Trivia:  The duo's name comes from the Dalcroze Eurythmic method of teaching music to young students. It uses movement (such as walking, using hands and feet, or even passing around a ball) to help define and understand musical rhythm, structure, and expression. This is usually done before students encounter written forms of music. Annie Lennox had experienced the method as a child.