Saturday, July 9, 2016

"The Curly Shuffle" by Jump 'N the Saddle

Song#:  1713
Date:  12/03/1983
Debut:  84
Peak:  15
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Novelty, Comedy

Pop Bits:  This country/pop band had been playing around Chicago since 1979 when one of its member, Peter Quinn, brought them a new song he was working up. The swing-style tune paid tribute to Curly Howard, aka Curly from The Three Stooges, and had Quinn mimicking Curly's famous lines from the old Stooges films. Apparently, the band hated it, but they rehearsed it anyway and began playing the song at their shows. Audiences ended up loving the tune. It became so popular that the band decided to recorded it for the local Chicago label, Acme. The single took off and it quickly became a regional hit. It got the attention of Atlantic Records who signed the group to a deal. The song was reissued nationally on Atlantic and began climbing the Pop chart. Standing out among the new wave and rock hits on the radio, the tune soon hit the Top 20 (#29 AC). It was helped along by a popular video that stitched together scenes from The Three Stooges movies. The band also released a self-titled debut album that featured a mix of originals and covers. But like a lot of artists who hit with a novelty song, they weren't able to follow it up and soon they were back in Chicago playing the local clubs. Their tribute to Curly would be their one shining moment on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I absolutely hated, hated, hated this thing when it came out. I wasn't a fan of The Three Stooges, I didn't like the basic swing tune, and the Curly imitation was especially grating. I'm sure this song holds some sort of nostalgic value for fans of the Stooges and Curly, but not for me. I still find this an incredibly irritating song. I could barely get through one listening of it. Is the song really that horrific? No. It's nicely recorded, performed well, and if there were different lyrics, it might pass as a fun old-time swing standard. But it's the theme of the lyrics and the awful Curly impression that makes me wanna slap someone's head or poke their eyes or throw a pie at 'em.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Atlantic was pleased with the results of this single and wanted to band to record a follow-up album. However, they wanted to choose a song for the band to record that would end up being the LP's lead single. The label selected the 1946 novelty tune "Shaving Cream" for the band to cover. That song, originally written and recorded by Benny Bell with vocals by Paul Wynn, became a surprise hit decades after it was recorded thanks to its popularity on the Dr. Demento radio program. The song was issued as a single and reached #30 in 1975. However, the band did not want to do the song. They ended up reluctantly recording it, but decided to add lyrics that skewered Atlantic. Of course, that did not sit well with the label and the band was let go.  2) As the song grew in popularity, it began to spread north into Canada. A group there, The Knuckleheads, decided to do their own version and recorded a single. It ended up besting the original on the Canadian chart reaching #29.


Friday, July 8, 2016

"Gloria" by The Doors

Song#:  1712
Date:  12/03/1983
Debut:  86
Peak:  71
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This controversial band had a run of successful singles and albums beginning in 1967. That all came to an end when charismatic front man Jim Morrison suddenly died in 1971. The band would release a couple of albums after Morrison's death, but his legend would greatly overshadow those releases and in 1973 the band would split. By the end of the 70s, a new generation of music fans were not necessarily familiar with The Doors. An introduction came via the 1979 Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now. A song from The Doors' self-titled debut album, "The End," was featured prominently in the film and interest in the band grew. It led to a new Greatest Hits package being released, which reached #17 in 1980. Having been rediscovered by a new set of fans, there was hunger for something new from the Morrison-era Doors. The band's label, Elektra, decided to scour the archives for something they could release. They settled on some live, unreleased tracks from various concerts over the years and created the LP Alive, She Cried. This track came from a sound check done at the Aquarius Theater in Los Angeles prior to a concert in 1969. It was edited and issued as a single to promote the album and it reached #18 on the Rock chart. It crossed over to Pop and spend a few weeks roaming around. Surprisingly, the song also got to #18 on the Dance chart. The album would reach #23 and be a gold seller. The band would remain popular over the years with other compilations and live albums being issued. Their most successful LP came in 1985 when the two-disc compilation, The Best of The Doors would get issued. Although it would only peak at #32, over time the album would eventually sell over 10 million copies.

ReduxReview:  I got into The Doors when I was in high school, courtesy of my best friend. The way she discovered the band was just by chance and it turned into a famous story among our group of friends. When listening to the radio on the way to her sister's house one day, she heard the song "Riders on the Storm." She thought it was the coolest song ever and the DJ announced it was by The Doors. When she got to her sister's (who was almost a decade older than us), she said, "I just heard the coolest song! It's by a new group called The Doors!" Her sister just looked at her and laughed and then proceeded to go grab one of her Doors albums. We still laugh about that brand new group called The Doors. We got hooked on the band with "Riders" remaining our favorite track. As for this one, it's an interesting cover that fits the band well. But besides Morrison's horny delivery there's not much else going on here. It's a fun leftover, but I'd rather listen to their classic tracks.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was not written by the band. It was a cover of a song written by another Morrison - Van. Van Morrison's band, Them, first recorded the tune in 1964. The garage rock classic was issued as a single and reached #93 in 1965. The song got a second wind the following year and ended up getting to #71 (the same peak as The Doors' cover). The song may have gotten further on the chart, but prominent radio station WLS in Chicago banned the song due to the line "she comes to my room, then she made me feel alright." The considered it too risque and wouldn't play the record. Another garage rock band, The Shadows of Night, recorded the song and changed the controversial line to "she called out my name, that made me feel alright." It was issued as a single and the change helped the band get airplay. In 1966, their version reached #10 on the Pop chart.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

"If Love Should Go" by Streets

Song#:  1711
Date:  12/03/1983
Debut:  96
Peak:  87
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  In 1981, the lead singer of Kansas, Steve Walsh, left the band after creative differences began to divide its members. Walsh had already released a solo album in 1980 titled Schemer-Dreamer that featured a few of his Kansas bretheren, but now he was completely on his own.  Walsh had become friends with drummer Tim Gehrt, who had played drums on Schemer-Dreamer and the pair decided to start a new band. Adding two other musicians, Streets was born. They got signed to Atlantic and recorded their debut album 1st. This song was selected as the LP's lead single and it did very well at Rock getting to #7. However, the success on that format didn't translate to Pop radio and the single only circled the bottom of the chart for a few weeks. It would be the band's only charting single. Atlantic thought the results were positive enough to call for a follow-up, so the band released their second album, Crimes in Mind, in 1985. The LP tanked and the band was dropped from the label. They broke up soon afterward. Walsh would join up with a reformed Kansas in 1985 and remain with the band until his retirement in 2014.

ReduxReview:  This is a good effort from Walsh and is better than most songs issued by Kansas in the last few years. It's still a bit faceless and the band doesn't necessarily establish a real personality or sound here, but the song is written and performed quite well. It's a quality tune that should have hit the Top 40 at minimum.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Guitarist Mike Slamer joined up with Streets after the break up of his previous band City Boy. That UK rock band had been around since the mid-70s and recorded seven albums between 1976 and 1981.
The band was moderately successful both in the UK and US. Their biggest hit would come in 1978 when their song "" would reach #8 in the UK and #27 in the US. Slamer would later contribute guitar solos on the first two albums from the hard rock band Warrent, including their 1990 double-platinum #7 LP Cherry Pie.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Rappin' Rodney" by Rodney Dangerfield

Song#:  1710
Date:  12/03/1983
Debut:  95
Peak:  83
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rap, Comedy, Novelty

Pop Bits:  Jacob Rodney Cohen, aka Rodney Dangerfield, started writing comedy material as a teenager and by the age of 19 he was trying to make a go of it as a comedian. Billed as Jack Roy, Dangerfield spent years in obscurity not getting anywhere. For a while, he even quit showbiz completely. He eventually returned, but success still eluded him. He figured out what he needed was a stage persona that an audience could relate to and Rodney Dangerfield was born. He began to get noticed and finally his big break came when in 1967 he appeared as a replacement performer on The Ed Sullivan Show. After that, his career took off. He built his own club in NYC, Dangerfields (which still exists), became a fixture on talk shows, and appeared in films and other TV programs. The 80s were a peak time for Dangerfield. His 1980 comedy album No Respect won a Grammy and he appeared in the hit movies Caddyshack and Back to School. Somehow along the way, the idea of Rodney doing a rap came about as a way to promote/enhance his next album. Put together with J.B. Moore and Robert Ford, Jr. (the duo behind Kurtis Blow's classic debut album), the trio came up with this comedy/novelty track that would be issued as a single and serve as the title of Dangerfield's album. Although the song didn't get very far, it did spend a couple months roaming the bottom of the chart thanks in part to an accompanying video that was popular on MTV. It would help make the album Dangerfield's best charting (#36) and boost his appeal to a younger audience who may not have been familiar with the 62-year-old comedian. Dangerfield remained popular until his death in 2004.

ReduxReview:  I should hate this "song", but I just can't. It's really nothing that I'd want to hear on record, but when paired with the video I get a kick out of it. I've always liked these older Borscht Belt-style comedians with their quick one-liners and Dangerfield always seemed to have some good ones. Many of his famous lines are included in the song. He was always a great guest on the chat shows and he is hard to resist in Caddyshack and Back to School. The song is not as horrible as some comedy/novelty ones of the decade, but the video did make a difference. Plus, the fact that top-notch rap producers were in on the gig certainly helped. Not great, but I do have to show a little respect.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Early in is career when he was billed as Jack Roy, Dangerfield had his name legally changed to that moniker. After he developed the Dangerfield character, he still retained Jack Roy as his legal name.  2) The name Rodney Dangerfield stems from a name used by comedian Jack Benny on his radio program in the early 40's. Benny's Dangerfield was a fake cowboy that had trouble getting the attention and respect of others. That name and character inspired the then-Jack Roy to develop his Rodney Dangerfield persona. The name was also used early on by Ricky Nelson in the 50's TV series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. There was a time on the show when Nelson used the name as a pseudonym.  3) The video for this song features a couple of cameos. One is by SNL character Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) who eats Dangerfield's "last meal" and the other is by Pat Benatar who portrays the executioner.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"Running with the Night" by Lionel Richie

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1709
Date:  11/26/1983
Debut:  57
Peak:  7
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Richie's second album, Can't Slow Down, got off to a terrific start when its first single, "All Night Long (All Night)," topped out at #1 for four weeks. It would end up being the biggest solo hit of his career. To follow up that joyous, party-flavored song, this darker, rock-leaning track was issued. The song was another hit, but it wasn't as massive as "All Night Long." It reached #7 at Pop while hitting #6 at both R&B and AC.

ReduxReview:  I'm just guessing, but I think Richie was going for that same cross-genre appeal that made Michael Jackson's Thriller such a success. The album had elements of R&B, pop, AC, dance, country, and even rock, which this song demonstrates. It all meshed together well and it would be the biggest selling album of his career. This song was a particular highlight. Although he doesn't rock out as much as Jackson did on "Beat It," Richie still created a nice mood piece that jams out pretty well (thanks in part to Steve Lukather - see below). Even though this song did well, I thought it underperformed, especially at Pop. I don't know why. I thought for sure this was going to be another #1, or even Top 3. I think this song is still underrated today. I rarely hear it anymore. It gets ignored in favor of his hit ballads, which is too bad. This is one of the best songs in his catalog.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Toto's Steve Lukather played guitar on this track including the solo. Richie specifically asked him to come in and provide the guitar part. According to an interview with Lukather for Guitar Player, after he got set up in the studio and was ready to play, he said "okay, lemme hear the tune." Richie rolled the tape and Lukather began to noodle around to get a feel for the track. When the track ended, Lukather told Richie he had a handle on it and was ready to record something. But unbeknownst to Lukather, Richie had already been recording and loved what the guitarist did. Richie told Lukather that was it. No further recording was necessary. Lukather couldn't believe it and told Richie to at least let him do a real take because he was playing all over the track and even over the vocals, but Richie declined. Lukather even asked to just at least make fixes, but Richie said no. It was exactly what he wanted. So in a span of about 10 minutes, Lukather did his job and left. He thought Richie might edit the guitar part for the final mix, but he said what he played in the studio remained on the song.


Monday, July 4, 2016

"That's All" by Genesis

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1708
Date:  11/26/1983
Debut:  63
Peak:  6
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Genesis' self-titled album got off to a shaky start when the lead single "Mama" failed to connect at Pop (#73). It did well at Rock radio getting to #5, but it really wasn't enough to push the album into the platinum territory established by their previous two efforts. Luckily, this second single turned things around. It steadily climbed the Pop chart and eventually became the band's first Pop Top 10 hit. It was also highly successful at Rock reaching #2 and it became their first to get on the AC chart where it topped out at #7. The hit pushed the album to #9 and over time it would end up being a 4x platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  Although Genesis had flirted with more commercial leaning material (and Collins more so on his two solo albums to-date), this was their first real pop song and it was a solid one. The tune is very well written and catchy as hell. It subtly bops along in a way that could draw in listeners across a lot of demographics. I don't think the hardcore, prog rock era Genesis fans were too thrilled with it, but the band had certainly struck gold with there new direction.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Ringo Starr was a big influence on drummer/lead singer Phil Collins, as were the Beatles in general, and this song is a bit of an homage to both. Collins wanted to write a simple song with a solid melody that reflected the work of the Beatles. With his bandmates Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, the song was completed. To round it out, Collins attempted to play the drums in the style of Ringo Starr.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

"The Sign of Fire" by The Fixx

Song#:  1707
Date:  11/26/1983
Debut:  75
Peak:  32
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This third single from The Fixx's album Reach the Beach also became their third in a row to reach the Pop Top 40. It would also get to #20 on the Rock chart. The trio of hits, which included the #4 "One Thing Leads to Another," helped the album get to #8 and sell well enough to reach platinum level by January of '84.

ReduxReview:  This is another quality track from The Fixx, but it's just not as immediate or single-worthy as their previous hits. I'm actually a little surprised it got near the Top 30. I'm glad it did as it is a good track from the band. It's just one that won't stick with you for a long time. However, when it comes on you go "oh, yeah! Cool track."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The band's leader, Cy Curnin, has been an active participant in the Love Hope Strength charity organization. It was co-founded by a friend of Curnin's, cancer survivor Mike Peters (and lead singer of The Alarm). In October 2007, the organization arranged an event to raise money for the charity and bring more awareness to the issues with cancer. The idea was to get several musicians to make the trek up to the base camp of Mt. Everest and perform a rock concert at the highest altitude on land. Peters, Curnin, and Curnin's band mate Jaime West-Oram all made the trip as did Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze. It was a successful event that led to follow-ups at the top of the Empire State Building, Machu Picchu, and Mount Kilimanjaro.