Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"I Cry Just a Little Bit" by Shakin' Stevens

Song#:  1872
Date:  04/21/1984
Debut:  83
Peak:  67
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rockabilly, Pop

Pop Bits:  Here is another case of an artist who was extremely popular in the UK, but their status there did not translate to the US. Working in bands since the mid-60s, the Wales-born Michael Barratt first started to gain a following when he change his name to Shakin' Stevens and fronted his 50's inspired band called The Sunsets. The group opened for big names like The Rolling Stones and recorded five albums beginning in 1970. Although they were a popular attraction, the band just wasn't breaking through on a wider scale. Then an offer came in for Stevens to co-star in the stage show Elvis! where he would portray Elvis during the star's prime years. It was initially to be a six-month gig, but it turned into a two-year hit that left The Sunsets waiting in the wings. Once the show wrapped, Stevens' new management advised him to dump the band and go solo, which he did. After a few medium chart singles in the UK, Stevens then broke through with his first #1 single, 1981's "This Ole House." As part of the UK's rockabilly revival, Stevens continued to score hits throughout the decade. By 1987, he obtained fifteen Top 10 hits with four of them hitting #1. This streak made Stevens the top selling male singles artist of the 80s in the UK. However, Stevens couldn't replicate his success in the US. The only thing he was able to do was get this lone single on the Pop chart for a few weeks and to #13 at AC. Other than that, Stevens remained virtually unknown in the US. Stevens' UK career began to slide in the 90s and for the most part he stopped recording. He did make a couple of returns with new albums in 2007 and 2016.

ReduxReview:  I know that I've heard his name over the years, but I had never heard any of his music. The lone exception would have been Barry Manilow's 1982 remake of Stevens' #1 UK hit "Oh, Julie," but at the time I had no idea Stevens wrote and recorded the song. Even after knowing who he was, I still didn't listen to any of his music. That's most likely due to the fact that I really wasn't into retro rockabilly, so I had zero interest. After catching up on some of his hits, I'm not exactly sad about my decision. It's just not my thing. Stevens is a solid vocalist and his recordings are well produced, but it really does amaze me that he was so huge in the UK. The rockabilly revival didn't last all that long, but somehow he was able to score big hits over a seven-year period. Eh. Guess you had to be there. I was already familiar with this song via Sylvia (see below). Stevens' original is more pop/rock than rockabilly with a beat that sounds like Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll (Part 1)." It's not too bad and I find it better than some of his other hits. However, I would never peg this for a hit in the US and with the exception of AC, it wasn't.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Stevens had a bit of a career revival in 2005. A new hits compilation was being issued right around the same time that he was to appear on the British TV competition program Hit Me, Baby, One More Time. Each week on the show, a set of five former hitmakers would perform one of their big hits followed by their version of a newer hit. A winner would be chosen at the end of each show. Following seven weeks of competition, the seven winners would compete in the finale. Stevens won his week and then went on to win the finale. Stevens sang his biggest hit, "This Ole House," and paired it with a cover of P!nk's "Trouble." The two songs ended up getting released as a single, which reached #20 on the UK chart. The show would also make it Stateside the same year, but the format was slightly different. Each week's winner got $20k to donate to their favorite charity and there was no finale show. Since Stevens was a UK star he did not compete in the US. But a few artists did compete on both the UK and US versions of the show including Tiffany, Howard Jones, and Haddaway.  2) Country star Sylvia covered this song in 1985 for her album One Step Closer. It was released as the LP's third single and got to #9 on the Country chart.


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