Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Queen of the Broken Hearts" by Loverboy

Song#:  1613
Date:  09/17/1983
Debut:  82
Peak:  34
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Arena Rock

Pop Bits:  Loverboy just barely missed out on getting their first US Pop Top 10 when "Hot Girls in Love," the first single from their album Keep It Up, stalled at #11 (#2 Rock). This next single would hit the same #11 mark, except this time it was on the Rock chart. The song wasn't as enticing to Pop, but it did get them their fifth Top 40 entry.

ReduxReview:  This song doesn't quite capture the magic of "Working for the Weekend," but it does a good job trying to become the new album's version of that song. Even though this sounds like a rewrite of their own hit, I still like it. They check off all the important stuff for an arena-ready hit. Good keyboard/guitar riffs? Check. Big sound? Check. Solid chorus? Check. Nice vocals? Check. Big hair? Check. It doesn't have the same oomph that pushed "Weekend" to greatness, but it still did its job quite well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  By this time, MTV was really making strides and began to do cross promotions with artists. Some of these promotions involved contests and one in particular included Loverboy and this song. Viewers could enter a contest for a chance to win an appearance in the video for this single. A winner was indeed chosen and she did make an appearance in the video, albeit very briefly. Bridget Magnesi appears for a few seconds at two points near the beginning of the video. That's it! So MTV certainly did fulfill its promise, but it certainly didn't match the "starring" hype of the contest.


Friday, April 15, 2016

"Old Time Rock & Roll" by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Song#:  1612
Date:  09/17/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  48
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The hit Tom Cruise film Risky Business was ruling the summer box office in 1983. But Cruise, in a star-making role, wasn't the only one who would be at the center of an iconic scene from the movie. As Cruise danced away in an empty house, this former Seger hit provided the groove for Cruise's underwear and dress shirt boogie. The scene was a sensation and over the years it would be the inspiration for countless imitations and parodies. Right along with it was Seger's song, which was included on the film's soundtrack album. The scene was so popular that it renewed interest in the 1979 hit and prompted a reissue of the single. Although it only peaked just over the halfway mark of the Pop chart, it seemed the song was more popular in its second run thanks to all the exposure received from the film. Almost overnight, the song went from a beloved minor hit to an iconic song that has become one of the most well-known and popular entries in his catalog.

ReduxReview:  An eight-note piano riff is all it takes and everyone is slidin' across the floor. It is still amazing how popular this song became and then never went away. Every bar band knows it and every jukebox plays it. Generations young and old latched onto this song. It's a fixture at wedding receptions and parties. Even my mom loved to dance to it! I think its a great tune, but I've grown weary of it over the years. Seger wrote far better songs that have gotten overshadowed by this monster and I prefer to stick with those than hear this one for the millionth time. However, I've got to give it up for a classic rock tune that will still be played long after the zombie apocalypse kills us all off.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song first appeared on Seger's 1979 album Stranger in Town. It would serve as the LP's fourth single following the hits "Still the Same" (#4), "Hollywood Nights" (#12), and "We've Got Tonight" (#13). The single would top out at #28. Written by George Jackson and Thomas Jones III, Seger has said that while he kept the lyrics to the chorus, he rewrote the verses. Unfortunately, he didn't ask for a songwriting credit. He didn't think the song was going to amount to much and it was even in question as to whether or not the song would be included on the album. The lack of a songwriting credit not only lost him royalties, but also control over the song (hence its use in various ads and other places). Initially, the band didn't much care for the song even after it was added to the album. However, after seeing the very positive audience reaction to the song on tour stops, they began to see the song's value.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Only You" by The Commodores

Song#:  1611
Date:  09/17/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  54
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Losing Lionel Richie was certainly going to affect The Commodores. After all, he was the main face/voice of the group and the one who wrote a chunk of their biggest hits. Whether or not they could survive without him was a big question and their first post-Richie album, Commodores 13, didn't really supply a definitive answer. While this first single wasn't a major success, it did respectable business at R&B where it reached #20 in addition to hitting #8 at AC. Pop wasn't all that interested and the song stopped short of the top half of the chart. It probably didn't help that the same week this song debuted on the Pop chart, so did Richie's soon-to-be #1 smash "All Night Long (All Night)." With Commodores 13, it seemed like the band was still trying to adjust to life without Richie and ended up with mixed results. They would do much better on their next effort.

ReduxReview:  If I were them, I'm not sure I would have gone in this direction. Richie wrote the band's big ballads and this song just can't compete with those. Even elements of the tune seem to want to mimic Richie's work. I think they should have really busted out a strong funk tune that could score at R&B and Dance. Going this AC route was only going to invite comparison to Richie and they were gonna end up on the losing end. It's a lovely ballad that makes for a nice album closer, but I think it was completely the wrong single for them to relaunch their career.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1983, another Commodores album was issued on a small indie label. It did not consist of new recordings, but early ones done soon after the band was formed. After the group got together in college in 1968, they spent their summer break in New York. It was there that they found their first manager and also secured a record deal with Atlantic. Producer/songwriter Jerry Williams, Jr. then took the new band into the studio to record a few of his originals and some cover tunes. One single titled "Keep on Dancing" was issued to little notice. The guys went back to college and continued to gain a sizeable fan base via their performances. In the meantime, their contract with Atlantic expired. They would have to wait until 1974 before Motown took a chance on them and it paid off. However, their original Atlantic recordings remained vaulted until 1983 when Intermedia Records unearthed them and released the nine tracks as the album Uprising. The cash-in project didn't really pay off and the LP quickly faded away.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Cum on Feel the Noize" by Quiet Riot

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  1610
Date:  09/17/1983
Debut:  92
Peak:  5
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Heavy Metal

Pop Bits:  This band formed in 1973 and became a successful attraction on the L.A. rock club circuit. However, their popularity in the venues didn't translate into a record deal. By 1977, the only label that would bite was Sony, but this would be for the Japan market only. The guys accepted and ended up recording two albums in 1977 and 1978 that were released only in Japan. However, lack of success and inner turmoil had members leaving, including guitarist Randy Rhoads who left to join Ozzy Osbourne's band. In 1980, the remaining members called it quits. That might have been the last of Quiet Riot, but a tragic event gave new life to the band. Early in 1982, Rhoads died in a plane crash while on tour with Osbourne. Some former members of Quiet Riot got together to record a tribute song and the experience went so well that they continued to record. Soon, a new incarnation of the band was set and they secured a deal with CBS Records. They issued what is considered the band's third album, Metal Health, in March of 1983. The LP's title track was issued as a single, but it wasn't getting any attention. Later on, this second single was pushed out and it slowly started to make waves. The song became a big seller reaching #5 at Pop (#7 Rock) and going gold. Its success pushed the album to #1 making it the first heavy metal album to top that chart.

ReduxReview:  I thoroughly hated this song when it came out. I just though it was loud, trashy, and annoying. Being a pop guy, it was taking me a while to warm up to the new pop/metal stuff and this one didn't help. Plus, it was being played all over the place, which rattled my chain even further. Radio played the crap out of it and lots of kids at school were jammin' to the album. I just wasn't having it. Do I like it today? Sure. It's a fun track and the band sounds like they were having a blast recording it, but I'm still not a fan of Quiet Riot. They pretty much had a flash of major success and then burned out quickly. I just don't think they had the writing chops to stick around for a long time, whereas a band like Def Leppard did. A lot of metal/hair bands would quickly come and go over the decade, but at least for Quiet Riot they really burned their mark in the history books before falling out of favor.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a cover of an original song done by the British rock band Slade. They were wildly successful in the UK and Europe in the early-to-mid 70s scoring six #1 singles, including this song. But for whatever reason, the band could not break in the US. "Cum on Feel the Noize" peaked at a lowly #98 back in 1973. Their best showing at the time was the #68 "Gudbuy T'Jane," which reached #68 in 1972. However, the success of Quiet Riot's version of this song put a spotlight on the band and they would finally end up cracking the US Top 20 later in 1984 with "Run Runaway."


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  1609
Date:  09/17/1983
Debut:  94
Peak:  5
Weeks:  29
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  New Yorker Wilder made a move to L.A. late in the 70s to pursue a solo career in music. He built up his resume singing commercial jingles and backing hot artists like Rickie Lee Jones. He got the attention of Arista and in 1980 they signed him. An initial single titled "Work So Hard" was released in 1982, but it failed to do anything. Feeling a lack of support from Arista, Wilder wrote a new song called "Break My Stride" in hopes of generating attention from the label. He recorded it on his own dime and sent it over to Clive Davis, who didn't think the song was a hit. With Clive and Arista ignoring him, Wilder then chose to move on and eventually signed with the Epic offshoot label Private I, who issued the single. It took a while for the tune to catch on, but it would eventually find its way into the Pop Top 10. It would also become a multi-format hit reaching #4 AC, #17 Dance, and #76 R&B. The song would be his only major hit and despite having two other lower charting follow-ups, the lack of a second significant single got Wilder tagged as a one-hit wonder. His solo career may have stalled, but Wilder would go on to be a highly successful songwriter/producer for many artists.

ReduxReview:  I think what attracted me to this song are the chords used, the progression of them them, and the melody. Those things all worked together to create a warming sound that hit my ears just right. It's bouncy, syncopated synths gave the song a driving rhythm and made the song stick out on radio. It's a great relic from the 80s that can brighten any day.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Wilder got his first chance at stardom when he (under his real given name of Weiner) and Peter Darmi formed the NYC folk duo Matthew & Peter. They got the attention of A&M who signed them to a deal. The pair would issue one album in 1972 called Under the Arch, a reference to their days of playing under the Washington Square arch in New York. The album failed to find an audience and that ended the duo's major label days.


Monday, April 11, 2016

"A Little Good News" by Anne Murray

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1608
Date:  09/17/1983
Debut:  95
Peak:  74
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Murray had a streak of #1 Country hits in the late 70s that bled over into the new decade. But as the early 80s wore on, results were mixed. She was still getting some Top 10 Country singles, but album sales were spotty with two of her last three albums missing the gold mark. Luckily, she returned to hit form when this title track from her latest LP got released. It would become her first #1 Country hit in two years and it would help propel her album to #9 at Country, becoming a gold-seller in the process. After a seven-week run, this song would fall off the Pop chart, but then it would re-enter a few weeks later for a quick additional two weeks.

ReduxReview:  Around this time, Murray decided to jump on the 80s pop bandwagon in hopes of keeping some crossover attention alive. While she mostly stayed with more traditional fare like this single, she also went totally synthpop with "That's Not the Way (It's S'posed to Be)." Actually, it's pretty good. I can see Murray all decked out in a day-glo pant suit stalking the stage singing it. The song got issued as a single, most likely in hopes of it getting Pop attention, but it failed to make the chart and the contemporary pop sound killed its Country changes where it peaked at #46.  AC kept up the Murray love-a-thon and sent it to #12. As for "A Little Good News," the lyrics are a bit outdated now but the sentiment still applies. I'm not a big fan of "message" songs, yet other folks seem to enjoy them and this one clicked for a lot of people. It's not too overbearing and the music is well-done, so I guess I can give it a pass. But it doesn't compare to Murray vs. a wall of synths.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song not only returned her to #1, it also got her back on the awards circuit. The single netted Murray a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female while the CMA's chose it as their Single of the Year. The love continued at the CMA's where A Little Good News won the Album of the Year honors. At the Canadian Juno's, Murray grabbed her seventh Country Female Vocalist of the Year award.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

"If Anyone Falls" by Stevie Nicks

Song#:  1607
Date:  09/10/1983
Debut:  61
Peak:  14
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Nick's second solo disc, The Wild Heart, got kicked off with the #5 hit "Stand Back" (#2 Rock). This next single just missed out on the Top 10, but it was another solid Rock entry reaching #8. Although the album would not top the chart like her debut Bella Donna, it still did quite well getting to #5 and staying there for seven weeks. It would eventually be double-platinum certified.

ReduxReview:  Oh those screaming synths certainly announce that this is an 80s recording! However, the song has aged quite well thanks to a solid melody and chorus. And even though it is steeped in 80s synths, I've always loved the rolling arrangement of them. It's very tidal with a certain ebb and flow that keeps the song in motion. I doubt anyone would put this on a list of Nicks' best song, but I've always been a fan of the tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:   Typically, Nicks writes both the music and lyrics to her songs (or does some co-writing), but on this track Nicks just provides the lyrics. The music was written by her friend Sandy Stewart. Born in San Francisco and raised in Houston, Stewart parlayed her association with Nicks into a solo deal that resulted in one album released in 1984 titled Cat Dancer. Despite some vocal assistance from Nicks, the album couldn't find an audience and tanked after the first single "Saddest Victory" failed to reach the Pop chart. It would be her only solo effort. Stewart later formed a duo with musician David Munday called Blue Yonder. Signed to Atlantic, they issued a self-titled debut in 1987. Again, the album was ignored and it became their only recording. Stewart and Munday would continue to write songs for other artists with "Falling Like Rain" being recorded by Tina Turner for her 1989 album Foreign Affair, and "Valentine" done by Belinda Carlisle for her 1989 album Runaway Horses. They also circled back and gave Nicks a song for her 1994 album Street Angel called "Unconditional Love."