Saturday, March 19, 2016

"What Am I Gonna Do (I'm So in Love with You)" by Rod Stewart

Song#:  1585
Date:  08/27/1983
Debut:  69
Peak:  35
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Stewart's first single from his Body Wishes album, "Baby Jane," failed to reach the Pop Top 10 stalling at #14. It wasn't a good sign for Stewart whose lead singles typically shot into the Top 10. The bad news seemed to continue when this second single stumbled just inside the Top 40. Even Rock radio ignored the track as it failed to chart there. Although US audiences were not happy with Stewart's new material, UK'ers were pleased. "Baby Jane" would top the chart there while this song would hit #3. Both hits helped the album reach #5 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  I didn't care all that much for "Baby Jane," and while this song still wouldn't make a "best of" list, I do like it better. The fake steel drum-like synth sound percolates throughout the song and it all chugs along nicely. It's a fun and breezy tune that goes down as easy as a piña colada on the beach.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  If Stewart had been a bit better at football (soccer, not American football), he might not have had a career in music. Football was the family sport when Stewart was growing up so he learned the game early on. He would later be considered an excellent player and became captain of his school team. He then set his sights on becoming a professional footballer. Along the way, he received the gift of a guitar from his father and began to learn the instrument. He even joined up with a band of schoolmates that played cover tunes. But football came first and in 1960 he tried out for a third division team. Unfortunately, he didn't get a callback. The lack of getting signed and his increasing enjoyment of playing music led him to switching career goals. By 1967, Stewart got his big break when he joined the Jeff Beck Band. The following year, they would issue the album Truth, which was a breakout US hit reaching #15.


Friday, March 18, 2016

"Can't Shake Loose" by Agnetha Fältskog

Song#:  1584
Date:  08/27/1983
Debut:  78
Peak:  29
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Swedish singer/songwriter Fältskog began pursuing a career in music in her teens. After singing with a local dance band for a couple of years, she was courted by CBS Records who had heard her perform a song she wrote with the band. They signed her to a solo deal and her song "Jag var så kär" ("I Was So in Love") became a major hit  in 1968. She released a string of radio hits that continued through to the formation of the group that would bring her and her husband and their two friends massive worldwide success - ABBA. Yet even during ABBA's heyday, Fältskog continued to release Swedish language records that would hit the charts. After ABBA's unofficial breakup, the band members set out to do their own projects. After Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida) had success with her first post-ABBA album, thanks to the #13 single "I Know There's Something Going On," Fältskog released her first English language solo album Wrap Your Arms Around Me. It's first single, the tropical-ish "The Heat Is On," became a smash in Europe hitting several Top 10's and topping the Swedish chart. However, a different song would be selected as her debut single in the US. "Can't Shake Loose" would get issued and it did well enough to get her into the US Top 30. Unfortunately like Frida, Fältskog would only be able to score one significant hit in the US.

ReduxReview:  I've always thought this was an underrated single. It has a slinky, sexy groove that explodes into a rockin' chorus. This could have easily been a great post-"Physical" single for Olivia Newton-John and I best if she had done it, the song would have easily hit the Top 10. That's not to take anything away from Fältskog, as she is terrific here, but Newton-John's popularity would have driven this further. Frida's "I Know" (rightfully) turned into an 80s classic of sorts, but many folks seem to have forgotten this song, which is too bad. Although not as epic as "I Know," it is an excellent song in its own right.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In addition to both doing well on the US Pop chart, the singles from Frida and Fältskog had another thing in common. Both were written by Russ Ballard. Although Frida's album only contained the one song by Ballard, Fältskog's album featured a second one titled "I Wish Tonight Could Last Forever." And while Frida's LP was produced by Phil Collins, Fältskog's was done by songwriter/producer Mike Chapman, who recently had success with Toni Basil's "Mickey."


Thursday, March 17, 2016

"Hang on Now" by Kajagoogoo

Song#:  1583
Date:  08/27/1983
Debut:  85
Peak:  78
Weeks:  4
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This UK band with the odd name scored a Top 10 hit with their first single, "Too Shy" (#5), which was lifted from their debut album White Feathers. Unfortunately, the song would be their only major hit in the US and despite the very brief appearance of this second single, the band would get tagged as a one-hit wonder. To make matters worse, by this time the group decided to oust lead singer and songwriter Limahl. The remaining members would go on to record a new album, Islands, and grab one more UK Top 10 hit with "Big Apple." For the US market, the band decided to rename themselves as Kaja and issued a shortened EP version of Islands called Extra Play. It tanked as did their third album Crazy Peoples Right to Speak. Kaja would end up calling it quits in 1985. Limahl would have some limited solo success in 1984.

ReduxReview:  While this is nice in a New Romantic/Spandau Ballet-meets-ABC vein, it is definitely nothing that would burn up the chart. It's a lovely album track, but it is a shade too dreamy and sleepy to make an impact at Pop. They really needed something as catchy as "Too Shy" to keep people interested, but it just wasn't in their arsenal.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although this song would be their last to hit the US Pop chart, their EP Extra Play (under the name Kaja) did spawn a hit on another chart. The track "Turn Your Back on Me" would get enough airplay to reach #2 on the US Dance chart. It would fail to hit the Pop chart and only get to #47 in the UK.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"Living on the Edge" by Jim Capaldi

Song#:  1582
Date:  08/27/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  75
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After numerous solo albums and singles, former Traffic drummer Capaldi finally got his first legit US hit in 1983 with the #28 "That's Love" (#3 AC). It was the first single from his album Fierce Heart. This follow-up single wasn't able to catch on as well and it stopped a quarter of the way up the Pop chart. It would end up being Capaldi's final US chart single. He continued to release albums over the years, but nothing would do as well as Fierce Heart. Capaldi would later die of stomach cancer in 2005.

ReduxReview:  After the lovely "That's Love," Capaldi pushed out this more rock-oriented tune. It's pretty good, but I think it would have been even better if the rock was turned up more. He needed a real crunchy sound to fully sell this tune. There is definite potential here, but I almost feel like the production lets the song down a bit. Good song, meh arrangement and delivery.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although "That's Love" would be his biggest US hit, in Capaldi's UK homeland he scored a Top 10 early on in his solo career. For his 1975 album Short Cut Draw Blood, Capaldi did a cover of the song "Love Hurts." It would reach #4 in the UK. The song would only spend one week on the US chart hitting #97. The US snub could have been partially due to the near-simultaneous release of Scottish rock band Nazareth's version. Coming on the heels of Capaldi's single, Nazarth's take would end up in the US Top 10 (#8) to become their biggest hit. "Love Hurts" was originally recorded in 1960 by The Everly Brothers, but it was not issued as a single. Then Roy Orbison covered the song the following year and it served as the b-side to his #1 hit "Running Scared." Capaldi's remake would be the first version of the song to reach the US Pop chart, followed quickly by the Nazareth cover.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"Just Be Good to Me" by The S.O.S. Band

Song#:  1581
Date:  08/27/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  55
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This Atlanta band managed to hit it big in 1980 with their very first single "Take Your Time (Do It Right)." The song would hit #1 at R&B and Dance while reaching #3 at Pop. That success made their debut album, S.O.S., a gold seller (#2 R&B/#12 Pop). Unfortunately, getting a follow-up hit proved to be difficult for them. Over the course of two more albums, the band was unable to replicate the success with their best single effort being 1981's "Do It Now" (#15 R&B). They needed a hit asap or risk falling into oblivion. Luckily for them, their label brought on a new songwriting/production team to help them. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis wrote and produced three tunes for S.O.S.'s fourth album On the Rise. The updated sound breathed life into the band's career and listeners found themselves hooked on this first single, which bounded to #2 on the R&B chart (#3 Dance). It also gave them their first Pop entry since their debut single. Although it wouldn't be a major hit at Pop, the song's success at R&B and Dance helped return the band to gold status.

ReduxReview:  I think it is safe to say that this band lucked out when they got Jam and Lewis on board. The timing was perfect and it set Jam and Lewis' career in motion. Hearing this now, you can definitely hear shades of things that Jam and Lewis would later use for artists like Janet Jackson. This is pretty much where it all started and it worked very well for S.O.S. I wasn't a fan of "Take Your Time," so this one sounds leaps and bounds better to me. Pop, as usual, was still behind the times when it came to R&B and that is too bad because many of us missed out on this tasty track at the time.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The three songs that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis did for The S.O.S. Band were their first hired sessions as writers/producers. The pair were originally part of the Prince-developed R&B/funk band The Time. That band's first two albums were mainly written/produced/guided by Prince, but in 1982, Jam and Lewis learned enough along the way to form their own production team called Flyte Time. The S.O.S. Band would be their first clients. The duo found time on the calendar to work with the band when on a short break from The Time's tour with Prince. Unfortunately (or fortunately is probably more accurate), Jam and Lewis got snowed in during the sessions and could not make it back in time to rejoin the tour. The missed show led to Prince dismissing the pair from The Time. That could have been a disaster for them, but then this song took off and it led to more work. Before the decade would end, Jam and Lewis would become one of the most successful writing/production teams of the era. In 1987, they would win the Grammy for Producer of the Year.


Monday, March 14, 2016

"Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel

Song#:  1580
Date:  08/27/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  84
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Former Genesis front man Gabriel scored his first Top 40 entry with "Shock the Monkey," from his fourth self-titled solo album (known as Security in the US). A US tour would follow with performances being recorded. Portions of some shows were then stitched together for a double live concert LP called Plays Live. To promote the album, this song was selected for release as a single. It didn't make much of an impact on the Pop chart, but the success of Security helped push the album to #44. In the UK, it would be his fifth Top 10 LP reaching #8.

ReduxReview:  Anyone who follows this blog knows where I stand on live recordings (not a fan). While I'm sure this was terrific to see in person, the live version doesn't really add anything to the already fantastic studio version. In fact, it is pretty dull sounding. I'm sure the double-LP is a nice item for anyone who saw Gabriel in concert during these shows or for die hard fans, but for me it's unnecessary. Oddly enough, as I write this entry I have been listening to Gabriel's first five studio albums quite a bit. He certainly did some brilliant work and I've been hooked on it lately. Faves I've repeated several times include "Moribund the Burgermeister," "Biko," "Intruder," and "Here Comes the Flood." Do yourself a favor - skip this live stuff and head straight to the real deal albums. (Note: the rating reflects the live single. The song itself in its original studio version is a definite 9.)

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a live version of Gabriel's very first single as a solo artist. Taken from his 1977 self-titled debut album, the song would be a hit in the UK reaching #13. It also reached the US chart, but could only manage a #68 peak. The song is a bit of a reflection on Gabriel's decision to leave Genesis and head out on his own.  2) Plays Live featured one previously unreleased song called "I Go Swimming." That tune would get some attention at Rock radio where it would briefly hit the chart at #38. A studio version of the song would later be included on the soundtrack album to the 1984 Rick Springfield movie Hard to Hold.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)" by Sheena Easton

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1579
Date:  08/20/1983
Debut:  67
Peak:  9
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  After a series of lackluster performing singles (mostly ballads), Easton found herself in the Top 10 again with "We've Got Tonight," a duet with Kenny Rogers (#6 Pop, #1 Country, #2 AC). It was her first recording to be done in the US and its success spurred her to record her next LP in the States. With new producers, she developed the album Best Kept Secret. Although her signature ballads were present, the LP featured more upbeat pop tunes that were in step with the day's music. It proved to be a wise choice when this first single became her fourth Top 10 hit (#9 Dance, #15 AC). The song's success was a much needed boost to her career. The Grammys also took notice and gave Easton a nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  Easton definitely needed this hit. She was stuck in an AC ballad rut and the younger pop audience was quickly leaving her behind. Going all Europop-ish was a smart move and it dug her out of the hole. Even though it's a very slight tune, the hip (at the time) production and Easton's delivery made this ideal for pop radio.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  For some inexplicable reason, after the success of Best Kept Secret, Easton went to work on a Spanish language album designed for the Latin market, despite the fact she didn't speak or understand Spanish. The project, titled Todo Me Recuerda a Ti, featured Spanish language versions of her hit songs. Among the selections were "Telefone" ("Teléfono") and "We've Got Tonight" ("La Noche Y Tú"), done in a duet with Spanish musician Dyango. A few original tunes were also tossed in the mix including a duet with Luis Miguel called "Me Gustas Tal Como Eres." Issued as the album's first single, it would go on to win a Grammy award for Best Mexican/Mexican-American Performance. That win didn't sit well with some Mexican-American musicians who balked at Scottish Easton getting the award. There was a bit of a protest, but in the end, Easton still walked away with the award.