Saturday, November 14, 2015

"White Wedding" by Billy Idol

Song#:  1462
Date:  05/21/1983
Debut:  71
Peak:  36
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Idol grabbed his first Top 40 entry when "Hot in the City" reached #23 the previous year. It was from his self-titled full-length debut album as was this second single. Initially released  near the end of '82, the song was ignored and went nowhere. But the following spring the song and its video began to attract an audience and the single was reissued. This time around, it became a hit on Rock radio reaching #4 while getting to #10 on the Dance chart. It was enough to propel the song into the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  Because they got played so much, I always think that Idol's songs did better on the chart than they did. I could have sworn this one reached the Top 20. It should have. It's one of his best songs. I was never very fond of his punk-ass attitude, but he puts it to good use on this song. When he snarls "white wedding," it just drips with contempt. It's pretty great.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) One of Idol's most famous songs was never a chart hit. "Dancing with Myself" was first recorded in 1980 by Idol's band Generation X. It was issued as a single, but the only business it did was getting on the Dance chart at #27. For his 1981 solo EP "Don't Stop," Idol remixed the song and credited it to himself. After the success of his first two solo singles, he then issued the remix as a single. It still failed to make the charts. However, the song remained popular thanks in part to its video that got a lot of airplay on MTV. The video was directed by Tobe Hooper of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Poltergeist" fame.  2) You may notice that this song is listed as "White Wedding (Part 1)" on the album but there is no Part 2. That section of the song was a more synth-based continuation of the main song that was available on the 12" version of the single. It was also made available on the hits compilation "Vital Idol."


Friday, November 13, 2015

"Theme from Doctor Detroit" by Devo

Song#:  1461
Date:  05/21/1983
Debut:  77
Peak:  59
Weeks:  6
Genre:  New Wave, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Devo's previous Pop chart entry, "Working in the Coal Mine" (#43 Pop, #53 Rock), was featured in the 1981 animated film "Heavy Metal." This next chart entry also came from a movie. It was written specifically for the Dan Aykroyd comedy "Doctor Detroit." The film was expected to be a major summer hit, but instead it became a box office bomb. Although this song did pretty well getting near the top half of the Pop chart, it might have been done a bit better had the movie been a hit. This single would be Devo's last to reach the chart.

ReduxReview:  As much as I like the bizzaro world of Devo and their quirky music, I didn't care much for this song. I'm sure it was a challenge to write a song specifically for this oddball film. They kind of pulled it off since it is probably the best thing about the movie. However, when compared to a lot of their own catalog, this song doesn't come close to being among their best.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Co-founding member of Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh, began to branch out into composing music for TV and film later in the 80s. His first major work was providing music for "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" in 1986. That was followed later by his music for the animated show "Rugrats." Mothersbaugh would write music for a lot of TV programs over the years and he continues to do so for shows like "Shameless" and "The Last Man on Earth." He has also done film scores as well, most notably four for director Wes Anderson including 2001's "The Royal Tenenbaums." More recently, he has done the scores for the animated hits "The Lego Movie" and "Hotel Transylvania 2."  2) Surprisingly, Devo only placed one song on the Rock chart ("Working in the Coal Mine"). Even more surprising is that they put eight songs on the Dance chart including two Top 10's. Their classic "Whip It" reached #8, but their biggest Dance chart hit came in 1983 when "That's Good" from their album "Oh, No! It's Devo" reached #6.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"The Salt in My Tears" by Martin Briley

Song#:  1460
Date:  05/21/1983
Debut:  86
Peak:  36
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  English singer/songwriter Briley got his first stab at fame when his band, Mandrake (not the German metal band), got signed to EMI when he was still a teenager. They released a couple of singles, but nothing came from them. After a stint in the prog-rock band Greenslade, he moved on to become a well-known session guitarist and vocalist. The experience served him well and helped in securing his own solo deal with Mercury. His debut album, 1981's "Fear of the Unknown," came and went with little fanfare. His next album, "One Night with a Stranger," would be his breakthrough when this first single cracked the Pop Top 40. It also did well at Rock reaching #15. Unfortunately, it would prove to be his only hit. Besides a 1985 single, "Dangerous Moments," that reached #31 at Rock, the rest of Briley's solo output tanked.

ReduxReview:  I thought this song was just okay on initial release, but I've grown to really like it over the years. I especially love the hook line "But I won't cry for the wasted years, cause you ain't worth the salt in my tears." What an awesome final kiss-off. It pairs well with Paul Carrack's 1987 single "Don't Shed a Tear" (#9).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia: Although his solo career was brief, Briley remained a very active studio musician and songwriter. Many of his songs got recorded by artists like Michael Bolton, Barry Manilow, Pat Benatar, Kenny Loggins, Celine Dion, and even Patrick Swayze and David Hasselhoff. However, none of the songs he wrote for others would top "The Salt in My Tears" on the Pop chart.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Save the Overtime (For Me)" by Gladys Knight & the Pips

Song#:  1459
Date:  05/21/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  66
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After a string of hits in the early and mid 70s, things cooled off for this group. They rallied in 1980 with the #3 R&B hit "Landlord" (#46 Pop), but then it got downright chilly for them. Their follow-up singles stiffed at R&B while they were totally frozen out of the Pop chart. Three years after their last major hit, Knight and the Pips were able to capture some magic with this first single from their album "Visions." It was a smash at R&B where it became their first #1 hit since 1974's "I Feel a Song (In My Heart)." Although it didn't do that well at Pop, it did get them back on the chart for the first time since "Landlord." Their follow-up single "You're Number One (In My Book)" would again do well at R&B hitting #5, but it missed the Pop chart completely. However, the dual R&B hits got the album to #3 R&B/#34 Pop and that was enough to get it certified gold.

ReduxReview:  Alright. What weird universe were we living in that this was not a Pop hit? I mean, c'mon. I know pop radio was going through growing pains and still reluctant to a lot of R&B jams, but this song had "hit" written all over it. At minimum it should have reached the Top 20. It's got a great groove, a solid hook, and the vocals from Knight and the Pips are top-notch. It is easily their best latter-day hit. I was mentioning in an earlier post how a lot of songs with a static groove can just be boring but that there are exceptions. Here is one where the majority of the song is the same groove, yet it totally works. The hook and the vocals enhance the groove and keep it interesting and moving forward. Oh - and the "5-4-3-2-1" - freakin' awesome. If you're not dancing, you're not living.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  In March of '83, Lou Rawls became the first to hit the Pop chart with the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" (#60 R&B). Knight and the Pips also recorded a version of the song under a different title. "Hero" was issued as the third single from their "Visions" album and it would reach #64 at R&B. It did a bit better at AC hitting #23. Unfortunately, it would not make it to the Pop chart.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love" by B.J. Thomas

Song#:  1458
Date:  05/21/1983
Debut:  93
Peak:  93
Weeks:  2
Genre: Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Ever since his first single in 1966, Thomas bobbed between pop, country, and gospel and along the way grabbed five Pop Top 10's, five Country Top 10's, and thirteen AC Top 10's. Most folks remember his two biggest #1 hits, 1969's Oscar-winning "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and 1975's "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song." When the hits stopped happening in the late 70s and early 80s, Thomas moved over to the country market and issued the 1983 LP "New Looks." This first single was released and it became a major country hit reaching the #1 spot. AC also liked the song and it hit #13 on that chart. Pop wasn't interested and the single barely scratched the chart for two short weeks becoming Thomas' final Pop chart entry. He would continue to have success at Country and AC throughout the remainder of the decade.

ReduxReview:  Although it wasn't a pop hit, I remember this song quite well. I think it was played a lot on the radio station my mom and dad listened to. Taking a cue from its title, I think this song was too old-fashioned to really make a dent in pop radio. It was perfect for country though and it became very popular. I typically don't care for these country-shuffle ditties, but I do like this one. It's well-written, not overly sentimental, and memorable. Plus, Thomas' easygoing vocals are a perfect fit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Thomas is a five-time Grammy award winner, but not for pop or country music. After becoming a Christian, Thomas began to record gospel albums. His first was in 1976. "Home Where I Belong" was not only a Dove Award winner (the major awards given for gospel music), it also won the Grammy for Best Inspirational Performance. Over the next four years, Thomas would nab four more Grammys in the gospel category. Although he would not win a Grammy in the pop or country categories, Thomas would receive a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 2014 for his hit "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head."


Monday, November 9, 2015

"He's a Pretender" by High Inergy

Song#:  1457
Date:  05/21/1983
Debut:  95
Peak:  82
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Initially a quartet, this female vocal group from Pasadena, California, got discovered by Berry Gordy's sister Gwen. Consisting of sisters Vernessa and Barbara Mitchell, Linda Howard, and Michelle Martin, the group got signed to Motown and released their first single "You Can't Turn Me Off (In the Middle of Turning Me On)." The song became a hit reaching #2 R&B and #12 Pop. Unfortunately, follow-up singles failed to replicate that success. After their second album, Vernessa left the group to work in gospel music. The remaining trio soldiered on, but they could only manage to get singles into the lower rungs of the R&B chart. In 1983, they issued the album "Groove Patrol" and this single was released. Despite getting some attention on the Dance chart (#25) and making it to the Pop chart (their first to do so since 1978), the song floundered at R&B and only reached #62. It would end up being their final chart single and last album together. Barbara would leave the group for a solo career and that basically ended High Inergy.

ReduxReview:  High Inergy is the group, low energy is the track. The vast majority of the song is based on one repetitive synth line and it rarely strays from that. Sometimes this can work, but more often than not it just makes the song boring. The zzzz's were circling above my head halfway through this tune. The vocals are quality, but the material and production are a bit run o' tha synth mill for the time and lack anything special or interesting.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  When signed to Motown, the quartet ended up getting fashioned into a Supremes-like vocal group. They were even named after one of The Supremes' albums, 1976's "High Energy." That album would be the Supremes' second to last before finally disbanding. At the time, The Supremes consisted of Mary Wilson, Scherrie Payne, and Cindy Birdsong. Birdsong left the group during the recording sessions for the album and was replaced by Susaye Greene. This made "High Energy" one of three Supremes albums where there were four members credited. Their debut album "Meet the Supremes" featured Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Barbara Martin (they were originally a quartet). Martin left the group after recording some songs and the others continued as a trio. Their 1968 album "Reflections" was also credited to four Supremes when during the sessions Ballard was fired from the group and Birdsong stepped in.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

"Inside Love (So Personal)" by George Benson

Song#:  1456
Date:  05/14/1983
Debut:  76
Peak:  43
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After issuing the hits disc "The George Benson Collection," which featured the new song "Turn Your Love Around" (#5 Pop, #1 R&B), Benson went back into the studio to record his next album. "In Your Eyes," produced by Arif Mardin, was his first full-studio album in three years. This first single kicked things off by reaching #3 on the R&B chart. However, it missed the mark at Pop falling short of the Top 40. The album would be Benson's seventh Jazz #1 while hitting #6 at R&B (#27 Pop). It would be enough to push the album to gold level.

ReduxReview:  Benson continues his flirtation with mainstream pop/R&B with this song. Written and co-produced by Kashif, Benson hits all the right marks, but the material is just not as strong as his previous crossover hits. Plus, this tune leans more towards R&B than pop and I think that was reflected in the respective chart peaks. Benson is an awesome artist, but for the most part, the material selected for this album paled in comparison to his previous mainstream efforts.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia: Benson's "In Your Eyes" album featured the instrumental track "Being with You" (not the Smokey Robinson hit). The song got the attention of Grammy voters and Benson would go on to win the award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.