Saturday, April 2, 2016

"Just Got Lucky" by JoBoxers

Song#:  1599
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  93
Peak:  36
Weeks:  13
Genre:  New Wave, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  This band, consisting of four Brits plus one US expatriate, got the attention of RCA Records via an appearance on a BBC TV show. RCA signed them and early in 1983 they issued their first single, "Boxerbeat." It was an immediate hit that reached #3 on the UK chart. This next single also did well reaching #7 and it would go on to be the song that broke them internationally. After hitting in the UK, the single was released in the US and it climbed up into the Pop Top 40. Unfortunately, it would be their only song to reach a US chart. They had a couple more UK chart entries and issued two albums, but while attempting to record a third LP, the band broke up. Although not a huge hit in the US at the time, the song found an afterlife being included on several 80s compilations.

ReduxReview:  This song was lost on me when it first came out. I didn't connect with it. However, after several listens later on 80s compilations, it made a bit of an impression on me. The tune has a great arrangement and I love the band's soul-dance sound. Unfortunately, that sound was kind of a blip as folks tired of it quickly. No matter. This song still lives on.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The band's sole US member, lead singer Dig Wayne, attempted a solo career after the band split. He issued one solo album in 1987, but it failed to do any business. Wayne moved on to acting and worked in theater. He moved back to the US in the 90s and continued to pursue acting. He has appeared in few films and has made guest appearances on several TV shows like Grey's Anatomy, Dexter, and CSI.


Friday, April 1, 2016

"Sitting at the Wheel" by The Moody Blues

Song#:  1598
Date:  09/03/1983
Debut:  56
Peak:  27
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Moodies grabbed two Top 20 hits in 1981 after being missing from the Pop Top 20 since 1973. "Gemini Dream" (#12) and "The Voice" (#15), from their LP Long Distance Voyager, were comeback singles for the band and they helped push the album to #1. With the spotlight back on the band, they set out to record the follow-up titled The Present. This first single got them into the Top 30 at Pop and #3 Rock, but it just didn't have the same allure as the singles from Long Distance Voyager. The lack of a significant out-of-the-box hit hurt the new album and it peaked at #26. It failed to even sell at gold level, which was a big disappointment coming on the heels of a #1 platinum album.

ReduxReview:  It's disappointing that this song did not do better. I find it very exciting and even though it is steeped in 80s keyboards, it's still a great track. Maybe it was just a tad too old-school rock 'n' roll for the early new wave 80s. Not sure, but I think folks missed out on this one. Yes, it is not as indelible as the singles from Long Distance, but it has a lot to offer. I still love to play this while cruising in the car on a warm spring day with the windows down. Highly enjoyable.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The cover of The Present uses a variation of the famous 1922 painting by Maxfield Parrish titled Daybreak. One change from the original painting is that the standing child seems to be handing an X to the other child. The X is interpreted as a Roman numeral and is most likely a nod to The Present being the Moodies tenth album since its 1967 incarnation that kicked off with their classic album Days of Future Passed. Parrish's Daybreak was his most famous painting and it has been considered the most popular and best selling art print of the 20th century. At one point, it was estimated that one in four US homes owned some version of the print. It even outsold Da Vinci's The Last Supper.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

"Suddenly Last Summer" by The Motels

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1597
Date:  09/03/1983
Debut:  60
Peak:  9
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Synthpop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This band's third album, the Val Garay ("Bette Davis Eyes") produced All Four One, proved to be their breakthrough with the single "Only the Lonely" hitting #9 (#6 Rock). By the time they were ready to record their follow-up album, Garay had expanded his role to becoming their manager. He would also direct the video for this first single that reached #1 on the Rock chart. The song slowly made its way to #9 becoming their second (and final) Pop Top 10. The tune would also reach #18 at AC. The hit helped their album, Little Robbers, reach #22. It would become their second gold LP.

ReduxReview:  I was already on the Val Garay bandwagon at this point. I loved his production style and what he did on recordings by Kim Carnes and The Motels. And then this song came out. I absolutely loved how this song sounded. The churning arrangement was mysterious and ominous with little touches of light showing through the cracks. And that distinct keyboard decent melted away the passing hot days of summer (along with what seemed to be her sanity). Paired with Martha Davis' vulnerable vocals, the song sent chills down my spine. It turned me into a mega fan of both The Motels and Garay. The album didn't disappoint either and is one of my favorites of the 80s. Although this song is not quite an absolute classic like "Only the Lonely," it comes damn close.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Playwright and author Tennessee Williams passed away in February of 1983. At the time, The Motels were beginning to record their new album. Williams' death most likely put a spotlight on his works such as The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But a smaller one-act Off-Broadway work may have inspired the title of this song. Suddenly, Last Summer debuted in 1957 and a year later was adapted into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. It tells the story of a woman (Taylor) who is being haunted by memories of her cousin's death (Clift). The man's mother (Katharine Hepburn) threatens the woman to keep secret the details of her son's life and his gruesome death. Although the song's writer, The Motels' lead singer Martha Davis, didn't base her lyrics on the plot, the work's title may have helped to inspire her reflection on life and the passing of summers.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Delirious" by Prince

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1596
Date:  09/03/1983
Debut:  74
Peak:  8
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B

**No sound for this entry here folks - his royal purpleness prefers you use Tidal and deleted his stuff from everything else. I'm a Spotify guy so I guess I'll have to jam to my Prince CDs.**

Pop Bits:  After Prince scored his first Top 10 Pop hit with "Little Red Corvette" (#4), a reissue of the title track to his album 1999 bounced up to #12. A third single was called for and this funky jam was released. Although it faltered a bit at R&B getting only to #18, Pop audiences loved the track and gave Prince his second Top 10. The hit continued to generate album sales and over time the LP would eventually hit the 4 million mark.

ReduxReview:  That dang goofy keyboard riff is infectious, funny, and annoying. Prince turned a basic 12-bar blues into this jittery, kooky tune that seemed to tickle a lot of Pop listeners. I like the song, but it has never been one of my favorites in his catalog. A listen every once in a while is fun, but I don't hit the repeat button. That keyboard lick can start to grate my nerves raw if it goes on for too long. This Top 10'er has gotten lost over the years, mainly because Prince has a catalog of far superior classics that have pretty much buried it. And I'm actually fine with that.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  His single moniker is actually his real name. He was born Prince Rogers Nelson. The name comes from his father, John Nelson, who was a musician. The elder Nelson went by the stage name of Prince Rogers. He had a jazz band called the Prince Rogers Trio, which featured his wife Mattie on vocals. Nelson would bestow his stage name upon their first child. Prince was the first child of John and Mattie, but he was John's fifth child. John had four children from a previous marriage. John and Mattie would have two more children before separating in 1966.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Unconditional Love" by Donna Summer

Song#:  1595
Date:  09/03/1983
Debut:  82
Peak:  43
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Reggae

Pop Bits:  Summer returned to the Pop Top 10 for the third time in the 80s with the title track to her album She Works Hard for the Money. The single would reach #3 at Pop while hitting #1 at R&B. Unfortunately, this second single couldn't find an audience at Pop at it withered away before getting into the Top 40. However, R&B was receptive and it reached #9. The song features a guest vocal appearance by the British teen reggae group Musical Youth. They scored a #10 hit late in 1982 with "Pass the Dutchie."

ReduxReview:  This is a cute song featuring some cute kids that also appear in a cute video with a cute Summer. Unfortunately, cute doesn't add up to much. I wasn't a fan of this song when it came out and I'm still not. It's fine for an album track, but not for a single. Granted, there was no song on the album as strong as the title track, but there were better choices than this track for release. I'm sure the whole Musical Youth factor played a part in getting this issued - why not capitalize on a hot new act that just scored a Top 10? There is logic there, but it just didn't work.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The She Works album contained the song "He's a Rebel." It's not a remake of The Crystals' 1962 #1 hit, but a contemporary Christian song co-written by Summer. Although it was not issued as a single, it did capture the attention of the Grammy folks who awarded Summer with a trophy for Best Inspirational Performance. It was her third Grammy and first win in four years.


Monday, March 28, 2016

"This Time" by Bryan Adams

Song#:  1594
Date:  09/03/1983
Debut:  83
Peak:  24
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Although he had some chart success in his Canadian homeland, Adams first Pop Top 10 hit happened in the US with his #10 effort "Straight from the Heart," the first single from his third album Cuts Like a Knife. The LP's title track was then issued and it did well reaching #15. It also became his biggest hit in Canada to-date going to #12. This third single couldn't quite make it into the Top 20, but it did well enough to help continue to promote the album. It would also hit #21 at Rock and #32 in Canada.

ReduxReview:  I had totally forgotten about this song, which I'm not really surprised at because it's not one of his most memorable singles. Adams and Vallance were really perfecting their songwriting around this time and it showed. This is a well-crafted song and an easy listen. However, I think works better as an album track rather than a single.

ReduxRating:  5/10

TriviaCuts Like a Knife contained a song that Adams wrote with his songwriting partner Jim Vallance called "The Best Was Yet to Come." The lyrics were about Playboy model Dorothy Stratton. The Canadian, who became 1980's Playmate of they Year, was shot and killed in August of 1980 by her soon-to-be ex-husband Paul Snider, who in-turn shot himself. The sensational story became the subject of two films and a handful of songs including Adams' "The Best Was Yet to Come." However, it was not Adams' first song tribute to the starlet. Late in 1980, the Canadian rock band Prism (Vallance's former band) released a best-of LP that included the new song "Cover Girl." Co-written by guitarist Lindsey Mitchell and Adams, it served as Prism's tribute to Stratton, who a few months earlier had presented the band with their first Canadian gold album. The song was issued as a single, but it failed to chart. Prism would later grab two US Pop chart entries, the best being 1982's "Don't Let Him Know" (#39).


Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Foolin'" by Def Leppard

Song#:  1593
Date:  09/03/1983
Debut:  85
Peak:  28
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  Def Leppard's pop-metal sound was winning over fans in a big way. Their third LP, Pyromania, burned up the charts thanks to two Top 20 singles - "Photograph" (#12) and "Rock of Ages" (#16). Both tracks were also #1's at Rock. This third single couldn't do quite as well, but it was still a significant hit getting into the Pop Top 30 and reaching #9 at Rock. The hits helped make Pyromania one of the biggest selling hard rock albums ever. It would eventually be certified in the US at diamond level, which indicates sales of over 10 million. You might think this was the band's peak, yet it wasn't. It was just a warm up for an even bigger album.

ReduxReview:  And yet another great track from Pyromania. They titled the album right because these guys were on fire! These are songs that still sound meaty and delicious even today. You can blame (or credit) these guys for the whole pop-metal/hair metal craze of the 80s, but you can't deny how great they were.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Only three singles from Pyromania would be issued for sales in the US. However, more of the album's tracks would be played on Rock radio, which certainly helped sales of the album. In total, seven of the LP's ten tracks would get on to the Rock chart. In addition to the three proper singles mentioned above, four other tracks got significant airplay: "Too Late for Love" (#9), "Comin' Under Fire" (#24), "Billy's Got a Gun" (#33), and "Action! Not Words" (#42).