Saturday, April 9, 2016

"Everyday People" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Song#:  1606
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  73
Peak:  37
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Jett's fourth LP, Album, didn't get off to a great start with the single "Fake Friends" stalling just inside the Pop Top 40 and peaking at #18 at Rock. This next single would do about the same business at Pop while missing the Rock chart completely. The one-two thud of singles left the album floundering at #20 and only going gold - a far cry from their platinum #2 disc I Love Rock 'n' Roll.

ReduxReview:  Jett takes this classic (see below) and dresses it up in some rock leather and the outcome is not too bad. She and the band don't really toy with the tune much at all, so it ends up just being a straight-up cover version. That's okay, I guess, but I expected something a little more creative from Jett & Co. by this point. It is well-done and sounds good, but if you are gonna cover a classic, you better bring something new to the table that will please those who already know the tune and attract those who don't.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1)  This is a remake of Sly and the Family Stone's #1 smash from 1968. Although this song has been covered by many artists, Sly Stone's original recording and Joan Jett's remake have been the only ones to cracked the Pop chart. However, hip-hop group Arrested Development did use parts of the song as the basis for their 1992 hit "People Everyday." That single reached #8 on the Pop chart.  2) Although this song wouldn't hit the Rock chart, it did make an appearance on another chart. It became Jett's second song to crossover to the Dance chart. It peaked at a minor #43. Jett's first Dance entry was "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," which hit #31.


Friday, April 8, 2016

"Heart and Soul" by Huey Lewis & the News

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1605
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  83
Peak:  8
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This band's second album, Picture This, was a gold-level hit that produced the #7 single "Do You Believe in Love?" To capitalize on momentum, they quickly recorded a follow-up album. Unfortunately, their label was having issues and the band refused to hand over the tapes to the label until things were settled. In the meantime, they continued to tour and incorporated the new songs into their sets. Finally, more than year later the label had their house in order and Lewis & the News turned in their recordings. The new album, Sports, finally got issued a year and nine months after Picture This. Luckily for them, the touring paid off and the album got off to a good start with this lead single, which became their second Top 10 hit. It would help push the album to a #6 peak, but that would not be its final stopping point. More hits and attention would come their way over the coming year.

ReduxReview:  I don't think they could have picked a better song to introduce the album. It's a terrific pop song that the band amp'd up with some crunchy guitars. Combined with a solid arrangement and a good MTV video, a winner was born. I loved this song when it came out and bought the single right away. However, like a lot of folks, I didn't buy the album until much later. The band would have some more quality singles ahead, but for me this remains my favorite Lewis/News song.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a tune written by the songwriting team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, who penned hits for Toni Basil ("Mickey," #1, 1982), Exile ("Kiss You All Over," #1, 1978) and other artists. Initially, this song was given to Exile and it became the title track to their 1981 album. It was issued as a single, but it failed to chart. The following year, the L.A. rock n' roll band The BusBoys recorded the song for their second LP American Worker. It was not issued as a single. Lewis and crew then got a-hold of the tune and made it into this hit.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

"Spice of Life" by Manhattan Transfer

Song#:  1604
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  85
Peak:  40
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  After boosting their commercial appeal with their last two hit studio albums, Extensions and Mecca for Moderns, the Transfer decided to expand their sound even more and moved towards a more urban feel with their LP Bodies and Souls. This first single got things kicked off and it just barely became their fourth (and final) Pop Top 40 while hitting #5 at AC. Written by Rod Temperton, who just has major success writing material for Michael Jackson's Thriller, the song's contemporary R&B flare paid off when it reached #32 on the R&B chart. It probably didn't hurt that the song featured a harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder. The album didn't do quite as well as their previous efforts, but it hit a respectable #57.

ReduxReview:  I thoroughly enjoyed their Mecca for Moderns album with its #7 hit "Boy from New York City," so I was primed to run out and grab the new LP. When I first heard it along with this initial single, I wasn't sure if I liked it. But the more I played it, the more I dug it. Critics didn't much care for the LP, but I think it is their most sophisticated collection of contemporary pop. They have several brilliant moments including a song that group member Alan Paul co-wrote for the 1984 Olympics called "Code of Ethics." I think it is a highly underrated album and I thought this single should have done a lot better as well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song would be their first to reach the R&B chart, but it would not be their last. Another Temperton composition, "Mystery," was issued as the follow-up single and it briefly made the R&B chart at #80. Again, it was another AC hit reaching #6, but unfortunately it didn't get on the Pop chart. The song got a lot more exposure when it was remade by Anita Baker for her 1986 hit album Rapture (#1 R&B, #11 Pop). Her version was not issued as a single.  2) In addition to the more contemporary material, the Transfer also included some more jazz-oriented tunes. One of them, "Why Not! (Manhattan Carnival)" would go on to win a Grammy award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. It was their fifth Grammy.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Rockit" by Herbie Hancock

Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1603
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  86
Peak:  71
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Funk, Electronic, Instrumental

Pop Bits:  Influential jazz artist Herbie Hancock got a major career boost when he was hand picked to join Miles Davis' legendary group in 1963. As part of that quintet, Hancock would perform on classic Davis albums like Sorcerer and Nefertiti. During that time, Hancock also recorded his own albums that would prove to be just as influential. After leaving the Davis group later in 1968, Hancock began to branch out to newer instruments and sounds which culminated in his big 1973 jazz-funk album Head Hunters (#1 Jazz, #2 R&B, #13 Pop). As the 70s moved on, Hancock began to move towards a more electronic sound combined with commercial elements and the results were decidedly mixed. But then he got an offer to help boost and record hip-hop influenced songs that were written by musicians Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn for their group Material. The project took shape and would end up being released under Hancock's name. Future Shock would be another highly influential recording in Hancock's catalog. The electro-funk album would become Hancock's second platinum seller (#2 Jazz, #10 R&B, #43 Pop) thanks in part to this single. Boosted by a video that was hugely popular on MTV, the song would hit #1 at Dance and #6 at R&B. Oddly enough, despite heavy rotation on MTV, the single floundered at Pop for a couple of months and then dropped off. Despite Pop's resistance, the single sold well and would end up getting gold certification. It also got Hancock a Grammy award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance. Hancock's flirtation with a more commercial sound would continue through the 80s and he would grab a few minor R&B chart entries, but this song would be his last to hit the Pop chart. He returned to more jazz-oriented fare later in the 90s.

ReduxReview:  I thought for sure this was a Top 10 hit. I'm not sure why. I guess seeing the video a billion times on MTV made me think it was a major Pop hit. Weirdly, I couldn't remember the melody of this song until I played it again. My mind was confusing it with Harold Faltermeyers' 1984 #3 hit "Axel F," from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Once the song started, it all came back to me. I didn't really care for the tune back then, even though the video was endlessly fascinating. The song has been credited as being the first mainstream single to feature scratching and was highly influential in hip-hop music. I appreciate the song much more these days and should probably get it into a playlist.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The video for this song was directed by 10cc's Godley & Creme. It was a big hit on MTV and at the very first MTV Music Video awards, it won five trophies. However, it lost the Video of the Year award to The Cars' "You Might Think."  2) This was Hancock's second Pop chart single. His first was in 1974 when "Chameleon" from the Head Hunters LP reached #43 (#18 R&B). However, as a composer, three of his original songs helped other artists reach the Top 10. In 1963, Mongo Santamaría hit #10 on the Pop chart (#3 AC/#8 R&B) with his version of Hancock's song "Watermelon Man." Decades later, Dee-Lite used a sample of Hancock's "Bring Down the Birds" from his score to the 1967 film "Blow-Up" to drive their hit 1990 single "Groove Is in the Heart" (#1 Dance, #4 Pop). Finally, British jazz-rap group Us3 sampled Hancock's 1964 song "Cantaloupe Island" for their 1993 hit "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" (#9 Pop, #21 R&B).  3) Although Hancock had already won 10 Grammy awards, his most significant win came in 2008 when his album River: The Joni Letters unexpectedly grabbed the Album of the Year award. It was only the second jazz album in the history of the Grammys to win that award. The first was in 1965 when the Getz/Gilberto album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto took it home. Hancock's album would win one more Grammy that night and in 2011 he would win to more statues bringing his haul to 14 awards.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"Baby, What About You" by Crystal Gayle

Song#:  1602
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  88
Peak:  83
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Country

Pop Bits:  Gayle was in the spotlight late in 1982 thanks to her #6 duet with Eddie Rabbitt, "You and I." Issued around the same time was Gayle's first album for Elektra Records, True Love. Although the album failed to include "You and I," that hit helped propel three of her album's tracks to #1 at Country. The first two missed the Pop chart, but this third single managed a short run while taking off for #9 at AC. However, despite boasting three #1 singles, True Love stopped short of the Country Top 10 peaking at #14. It was her first to miss the Top 10 since 1975.

ReduxReview:  I like this song, but I'm not sure the arrangement is right. It sounds to me like a lost girl group song that should have been produced by Phil Spector. Or even something in the Buddy Holly vein. It's definitely a quality tune, but I would have liked to have it amped up just a bit. It just leans slightly toward the dull side of things. However, Gayle sounds great as usual and her vocal delivery fits the arrangement. A good effort that I think could have been even better.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before Gayle left Columbia Records for Elektra, she had one more project to do. Film director Francis Ford Coppola tapped Tom Waits to write the songs/soundtrack to his film One from the Heart. Coppola was inspired by a 1977 Waits duet with Bette Midler called "I Don't Talk to Strangers" and got Waits to work on the film project. Midler was not available to be a duet partner, so Waits turned to Crystal Gayle. Most of the songs were recorded live in the studio with a mix of duets and solo vocals from Waits and Gayle. The film was release early in 1982, but is was quickly sunk by poor reviews and uninterested audiences. Most folks would agree that the best part of the film was the soundtrack and the Oscars agreed giving Waits a nod for Best Original Music Score. Although the original soundtrack LP didn't chart, it has grown in popularity over the years thanks to glowing reviews and Waits' ever-growing fan base. A side note for Waits fans - Waits met his wife Kathleen Brennan during the recording of this album. She was working at the studio at the time. (My aside:  I absolutely love this album. Gayle's angelic voice worked so perfectly with Waits' music and his gruff voice. Gayle should have sung a lot more Waits songs over the years. If you are not familiar with this album, seek it out. Specifically, listen to Gayle's reading of "Take Me Home." So beautiful.)


Monday, April 4, 2016

"Trouble in Paradise" by Jarreau

Song#:  1601
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  63
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Al Jarreau's LP Jarreau was another hit for him reaching #13 Pop, #4 R&B, and #1 Jazz. It was helped along by the album's first single, "Mornin'," which hit #21 Pop, #6 R&B, and #2 AC. A second single, "Boogie Down," could only make inroads at R&B going to #9, but by this time the album was well on its way to going platinum. This third single was issued and AC fell in love with it sending the song to #10. However, Pop and R&B (#66) were not as thrilled and it dropped off the charts after a few weeks.

ReduxReview:  The title of this song is deceptive. I expected something darker - either a brooding ballad or mysterious R&B groove that describes the trouble. Instead, we get a crossover jazz/soft rock tune with optimistic lyrics that tell you to get up, get out and find a new flame! Bleh. I'm not feelin' it. The tinny synth-driven production doesn't help either. It's not a bad tune, but it's not a very good pop single and Jarreau has recorded better songs. I wasn't a fan of "Boogie Down," but I prefer it to this forgettable track.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Greg Mathieson, Jay Graydon, and Trevor Veitch. Veitch and Mathieson had major success earlier as producers of Toni Basil's #1 hit "Mickey." Veitch also wrote the English lyrics to the Europop tune "Gloria," which became a #2 hit for Laura Branigan. Veitch was also a musician who played on many recordings. He also attempted his own music career in the late 60s with the folk group 3's a Crowd. They released one album in 1968 titled Christopher's Movie Matinee. It didn't get anywhere, but the LP is famous for being co-produced by The Mamas & the Papas' Cass Elliot. It was one of her very rare production credits.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

"You Put the Beat in My Heart" by Eddie Rabbitt

Song#:  1600
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  81
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  From 1976 to 1978, Rabbitt scored nine Country Top 10's and that was plenty to issue his first hits compilation in 1979. Over the next three years he grabbed another ten Top 10's including eight #1's (and four Pop Top 10's). It was time for a second compilation and Warner Bros. issued Greatest Hits, Vol. II in the last quarter of 1983. The album contained eight of Rabbitt's most recent hits along with two new songs. This single was one of the new songs and it was released to help promote the LP. It fit right in with the "hits" theme as it reached #10 on the Country chart (#15 AC). Unfortunately, it became one of his lowest peaking Pop chart entries and it would be his last one to crossover. Despite not getting attention at Pop any longer, Rabbitt's career still flourished at Country where he would go on to get fourteen more Top 10's. Although his popularity waned in the 90s, he still remained a top concert draw. Sadly, a little over a year after he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997, Rabbitt passed away. 

ReduxReview:  This song leans more towards rock than country, but that still wasn't quite enough to grab some attention at Pop. While I wouldn't consider this a contender for the Pop Top 10, it should have done a bit better. It's a quality song with another solid performance from Rabbitt. Although he didn't write this tune, Rabbitt was a fine songwriter and had a terrific streak of singles in the late 70s/early 80s. His Pop days ended here, but it's not a bad song to go out on.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Rabbitt's first Pop Top 40 crossover hit was "Every Which Way But Loose," a song that was used in the 1978 film of the same name. By this time, Rabbitt was a major country star and the Clint Eastwood movie was poised to be a major hit. Interest in the song was high and once issued, it pretty much exploded. The single would debut at #18 on the Country chart to become the highest debuting song in the chart's history. It would go on to spend three weeks at #1 and reach #30 at Pop. Rabbitt's chart record would remain intact until 2005 when he had to share the crown with Garth Brooks, whose song "Good Ride Cowboy" also debuted at #18. Keith Urban would set a new record the following year when his "Once in a Lifetime" came in at #17. But Brooks would end up being the ultimate chart king when in 2007 his song "More Than a Memory" debuted at #1.