Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Someone Belonging to Someone" by Bee Gees

Song#:  1578
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  68
Peak:  49
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The brothers Gibb made an attempt to recapture some of their Saturday Night Fever magic for the film's sequel Staying Alive. Their first single from the soundtrack, "The Woman in You," was a bit of a flop peaking at #24. As Frank Stallone was just entering the Top 40 with his soon-to-be Top 10 hit from the film "Far From Over," this second Bee Gees single was pushed out for release. The ballad did worse and couldn't even manage a Top 40 showing. Even AC wasn't all that interested and it peaked at #22. It would end up being the trio's last chart single for four years.

ReduxReview:  This song pretty much closed out an era for the Bee Gees. Even though they tried to make changes to their music, the disco backlash really took a toll and tossed their career in chaos. They kept going with solo projects and their highly successful songwriting/production work, but the Bee Gees name was pretty much mud by this time. They really needed to step back and reassess their career and direction. Their ambivalence towards the Staying Alive project and non-hit material seemed to help them decide to step away for awhile. It was a good choice, because if all they were going to do is shuffle off lackluster material like this ballad, there was no reason to go on. Just call it a day. Luckily they didn't and in a few years they would finally toss out some tasty tunes again. In the meantime, this tune (or any from the soundtrack, really) can be ignored.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  It's hard to believe now, but we almost missed out on all the Bee Gees hits from the 70s and beyond. Although they experienced some solid success beginning in 1967, by 1969 they called it quits. Internal struggles between the brothers and their individual contributions led to Robin quitting the trio for a solo career. Barry and Maurice continued on, but after recording their next album, the two brothers couldn't solve their issues and announced the end of the Bee Gees. The LP Cucumber Castle, featuring just Barry and Maurice, was issued early in 1970 after the split and was a failure in the US. Later that year, the brothers began to talk again and decided to get back together (I'm sure failed solo projects played a part in the decision). By the time 1971 arrived, they soared back into the Top 10 with the #3 "Lonely Days" and then proceeded to hit #1 with "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." They never split up again.


Friday, March 11, 2016

"Don't Forget to Dance" by The Kinks

Song#:  1577
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  71
Peak:  29
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Kinks got their fifth Pop Top 10 hit with "Come Dancing," a tune from their LP State of Confusion. As that song would serve as the band's final Pop Top 10, this next single would end up being their last Pop Top 40 entry. That ballad couldn't hit the heights of "Come Dancing," but it would end up just inside the Top 30 while hitting #16 Rock and #23 AC. The singles would help make the album their second best charting in the US (#12).

ReduxReview:  I wasn't really into The Kinks so when this song came out, I just ignored it. That's too bad because it is a lovely ballad. I agree with Ray Davies that it should not have been the lead single (see below), but I also agree with Clive Davis that it was a solid single choice. It should have done better on the chart. I'm not sure why it could only muster a #29 showing (probably because of folks like me who ignored it!). Hearing it now, it reminds me of a song that would hit #3 the following year - The Cars' "Drive."

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  As The Kinks readied State of Confusion for Arista, label head Clive Davis wanted this song to be the lead single from the LP. However, band leader Ray Davies wanted "Come Dancing" as the first single. Davis considered that song too slight and just a minor ditty and didn't think it would go anywhere. Somehow, Davies convinced the prickly label head to lead the album off with "Come Dancing" and it ended up in the Top 10. Davis' choice was then issued as the second single and even though it did okay, it wasn't nearly the hit he thought it might be.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

"Ship to Shore" by Chris de Burgh

Song#:  1576
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  80
Peak:  71
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  De Burgh grabbed his first US Top 40 (#34 Pop, #29 Rock) entry with "Don't Pay the Ferryman," an eerie story song from his album The Getaway. This brighter tune was chosen for the LP's second single, but it failed to catch on and left the chart after a few weeks. However, the lone Top 40 hit gave a boost to the album which ended up at #43.

ReduxReview:  I totally love "Ferryman" and after I wore out the single, I went and bought the album. It's a very good LP that I've grown to like even more over the years. Although de Burgh kind of became known for his ballads, I always preferred his more upbeat tunes like this one. The title track to the album was also a highlight. This song should have done better with its rousing sing-a-long chorus. I think what it may have need though was a rockier arrangement in the vein of "Ferryman." That bit of intensity might have sold it more.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although his success in the US and the UK (his homeland), was limited, de Burgh gained a large fan base in Germany that began with The Getaway. That album reached #1 and was a platinum seller in that country. Three of his next four albums would also hit #1 while the other reached #2. Support for de Burgh would continue in Germany over the years where he would amass another nine Top 10 albums, including his latest one, 2014's The Hands of Man, which hit #8.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"Everyday I Write the Book" by Elvis Costello & the Attractions

Song#:  1575
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  82
Peak:  36
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Englishman Costello honed his craft in the early 70s playing with folk-rock and pub rock bands around England. By 1976, he was out on his own and recording demos. Those songs got the attention of Stiff Records who signed the young artist. His highly regarded debut album, My Aim Is True, was issued in 1977 and it did well enough to reach #14 in the UK (#32 US). He then formed his backing band The Attractions and proceeded to release a string of acclaimed albums, all of which reached the UK Top 10. He also scored three Top 10 singles along the way. In the US, Costello was very popular with critics and a large set of dedicated fans, but he wasn't a huge star. The lack of a single on the US chart didn't help, but he began to turn things around with this single from his album Punch the Clock. It became his first Top 40 hit (#33 Rock).

ReduxReview:  I have to admit that I really didn't get Costello at the time. I had heard of him and knew his albums were considered among the best in rock, but I wasn't familiar with any of his material. On a whim, thanks to a glowing review from Rolling Stone, I bought his 1982 LP Imperial Bedroom. It was totally lost on me. I think I tried to listen to it twice and then just put it away. Later on I got more into Costello thanks to covers of his songs by other artists. I warmed up to his music, but I've never been a major fan. He does have some classic songs that I enjoy and did release one album that I dearly love - his 1998 duet disc with Burt Bacharach Painted from Memory. He and Bacharach (a favorite of mine) were just perfect together. As for this particular song, I like it better now than I did back then. It's probably one of his most pop-friendly songs and that proved out when it went Top 40. It should have gone Top 20, but the fact that it make it as far as it did was pretty good.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Costello's given name is Delcan Patrick MacManus. Early on in his pub days, he began to use the name DP Costello. The Costello portion came from his father Ross MacManus who was a bandleader. The elder MacManus used Day Costello for a stage name. To pay tribute to is father, Delcan adopted the last name. After being signed to Stiff Records, it was suggested he keep the last name, but change his first name to Elvis, after Elvis Presley. He did and thus was born Elvis Costello.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"It Must Be Love" by Madness

Song#:  1574
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  85
Peak:  33
Weeks:  12
Genre:  New Wave, Ska

Pop Bits:  After scoring twelve Top 10 hits in their UK homeland, Madness finally broke through on the US chart with their song "Our House." The unexpected hit prompted a compilation of their best material to be released in the US that was simply titled Madness. Also included was this single that had already reached #4 in the UK in late 1981. It couldn't quite find the same audience in the US and peaked just outside of the Top 30. It would be the band's last US Top 40 entry.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure why this song didn't catch on better. Although it's not quite as strong as "Our House," it's still a great tune. The Madness album was one that I wanted back in the day but with little funds, I had to prioritize and it didn't make the cut. They had some other cool tunes like "Michael Caine" (#11 UK), but I don't think any really came close to "Our House" and this one.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a cover version of a song written and recorded by British singer/songwriter Labi Siffre. His original version was issued as a single in 1971 and it reached #14 on the UK chart. Siffre recorded six LPs between 1970 and 1975 before dropping out of the music scene (he was also a poet and writer). He returned to music in 1987 with the UK #4 anti-Apartheid song "(Something Inside) So Strong." That particular song was covered by Kenny Rogers and served as the title track to his 1989 album. His version would reach #26 on the AC chart. Siffre's 1975 song "I Got The..." would later be sampled by rapper Eminem for his first charting single "My Name Is" (#37 Pop, #18 R&B, #10 Rap).


Monday, March 7, 2016

"Garden Party" by Herb Alpert

Song#:  1573
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  88
Peak:  81
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Instrumental

Pop Bits:  Alpert's previous album Fandango contained the single "Route 101," which returned him to the Pop Top 40 for the first time in four years (#4 AC). For his follow-up, Alpert didn't change his formula too much and even tried to modern things up a bit by enlisting the great Holland-Dozier-Holland team to write and produce a couple of tracks. But first out of the gate was this instrumental single. The tune found some traction at AC where it reached #14, but Pop lost interest quickly and the song fell off the chart after a short month.

ReduxReview:  I guess this is kind of catchy in a dentist office-Muzak kind of way, but it's not very exciting or memorable. The droopy tempo may have something to do with it (see below). I'm not sure why Alpert thought this would be a good single, especially in this 80s time period. By this time, Alpert probably wasn't all that interested in selling to the kids and was relying on his older, built-in audience for support. I'm sure it was enough to keep concert seats filled and his name kickin' around (and I'm sure it was convenient that he owned his label - A&M). He'd keep floating around like this for another couple albums before hitting the mainstream again with a major 80s pop/R&B star.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of an original song done by the Icelandic jazz-fusion band Mezzoforte. Formed in 1978, the group would unexpectedly score a #17 hit in the UK with this song near the beginning of 1983. Although the song would not be issued in the US, the single did find its way into the hands of Alpert who chose to record it for his new album. Oddly, the story goes that Alpert was learning to play the song via the 45 rpm single. What he didn't realize was that he had the record player on the wrong setting and it was playing at 33 rpms. Apparently, he must have liked that speed because even after discovering the error, he pretty much stuck to the slower tempo for his version. The Mezzoforte original is far more upbeat.

Note:  There must be some copyright issues with this song as it is greyed out on Spotify and the YouTube video versions are deleted. However, I did find it available to listen to on The Music Hutch. Their embed didn't work here, but you can either go to their site and search for the song or click here to be taken to the page.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

"Do It Again/Billie Jean Medley" by Club House

Song#:  1572
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  75
Weeks: 5
Genre:  Pop, Dance, R&B

Pop Bits:  Club House was an Italian studio band that recorded this medley which pairs Steely Dan's 1972 #6 hit "Do It Again" with Michael Jackson's recent #1, "Billie Jean." Released in Europe, the single was a hit reaching the Top 10 in several countries and #11 in the UK. It hopped across the pond, but the response was less enthusiastic and it could only manage a brief appearance on the Pop and R&B (#61) charts. Although it would be the band's only US Pop chart single, later in 1990 they would score a #1 on the US Dance chart with "Deep in My Heart." In 1994, they would hit #7 in the UK with the house tune "Light My Fire" (not a remake of The Doors hit). After several singles and one album, the band stopped recording in 1996.

ReduxReview:  Why would someone do this? It's just weird. This certainly isn't the first time that songs with nothing in common were smashed together for a medley, but it's a real crap shoot if it will work or not. As much as I hate to admit it, this one kinda worked. I wouldn't call it anything great, but it is certainly listenable and the two song mesh well together. My guess is that someone was listening to "Billie Jean" and it brought to mind "Do It Again" and started playing them one over the other. I think we all do a "hey - that sounds like..." thing with songs. Some are legit comparisons while others are to the ears of the beholder (I always thought Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" would work well with Cher's "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves," so go figure). Someone's potato of an idea created this mash, which doesn't taste too terrible.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  For some reason, this medley resonated with other musical folks and they set out to make it a hit of their own. Two other bands recorded this medley in 1983. The Detroit disco/dance outfit Slingshot recorded a version of the song titled "Do It Again Medley with Billie Jean" that ended up reaching #1 on the Dance chart and #25 R&B (the songs are practically identical, so why this one hit on the Dance chart and the original didn't is a mystery). Then, another studio group from New York called Brooklyn Express did their own version, but it did not chart. (Note: Slingshot also released a dance version of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" where the lyrics and melody to that song are done over Kraftwerk's "Tour de France." Very strange. It can be found on YouTube.)