Saturday, August 6, 2016

"So Bad" by Paul McCartney

Song#:  1741
Date:  12/24/1983
Debut:  49
Peak:  23
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  As McCartney and Michael Jackson were occupying the #1 spot on the Pop chart with their duet "Say Say Say," this second single from McCartney's Pipes of Peace album was issued. The ballad did well at AC getting to #3, but Pop was less interested and the song stalled short of the Top 20.

ReduxReview:  Snooze. I think this is a lovely song with a light and effective vocal from McCartney that makes for a nice album track, but not a single. I kind of understand wanting to release something that would be totally different from "Say Say Say," but this was completely opposite of that hi-energy track. However, there was also very little on Pipes of Peace that was single-worthy, so this song may have been the best shot. AC loved it, but I think it was just way too quiet and subtle for Pop.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Quite often, songs selected from an album to be released as singles could vary from country to country. A tune that is a big hit in one area may never even get released in another. This song and its b-side are examples of this. In the US, "So Bad" served as the a-side while "Pipes of Peace" was the b-side. The results were tepid, as outlined above. In the UK, the sides were flipped and McCartney had much better luck there. "Pipes of Peace" would reach #1 and stay there for two weeks. Oddly, it was McCartney's first and only solo song to top the UK chart. His other #1 credits came from his bands The Beatles and Wings, a duet with Stevie Wonder, and three charity group singles. Excluding his hits with The Beatles, in the US McCartney has appeared on nine #1's, but none of them were pure solo efforts.


Friday, August 5, 2016

"Give It Up" by KC

Song#:  1740
Date:  12/24/1983
Debut:  67
Peak:  18
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Dance

Pop Bits:  KC and the Sunshine Band had a successful run of hits in the 70s grabbing five #1's and one #2. Their dance/disco sound made them famous, but the band soon found themselves as one of the victims of the disco backlash. KC would grab a #2 duet hit with Teri DeSario in 1979, "Yes, I'm Ready," but success with his band was not happening. Their first two albums of the 80s completely tanked and a third one, 1982's All in a Night's Work, was headed for the same fate. This first single was issued and then promptly disappeared. However, in the summer of '83, the song started to get some action in the UK. By August it was #1 and it stayed there for three weeks. It helped the album become the band's second to chart in the UK. With the success overseas, KC was looking to get the single reissued in the US. However, the band's label, Epic, had little interest in doing so. Undeterred, KC formed his own label, Meca, and put the song out himself crediting it to just "KC." It slowly climbed the chart until finally peaking inside the Top 20 (#24 Dance). Although the song wasn't as big of a hit as it was in the UK, it was still a win for KC and it briefly revived interest in the band. An album titled KC Ten was released, but it could only manage a #93 showing. The whole thing was a bit much for KC and he decided to call it a day brought an end to his career in 1985. Of course he would return to music in the early 90s when a revival of disco generated interest in the band. They would release three albums over the years and have continued to tour since.

ReduxReview:  I completely forgot about this song. I didn't really hook into it back then, but if I heard this on the radio now, I'd be like "ooo - what is that fun retro song?" There is not much to the tune. It's just a steady groove with few chord changes, but it has a catchy chorus and the instrumental and horn sections are pretty sweet. I'm glad it got a second chance and was able to chart. The song is just plain fun. I may just have to find this for my 80s and dance playlists.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Back before KC and the Sunshine band hit it big, two members, Harry Wayne Casey (KC) and Richard Finch worked up a song that was to be for their band. However, the vocal part ended up being too demanding and they sought out a singer. Soul vocalist Gwen McCrae was called in, but she was delayed getting to the studio so since her husband George was already there, they had him give it a go. The results were terrific and it got George a recording contract. The song, "Rock Your Baby," would be released in 1974 and would hit #1 at Pop and R&B. Unfortunately, McCrae wouldn't be able to get another major hit on the Pop chart and became a one-hit wonder of the era.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

"You're Looking Like Love to Me" by Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack

Song#:  1739
Date:  12/24/1983
Debut:  74
Peak:  58
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This duo's album Born to Love was headed into gold territory thanks to the LP's first single "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love," which reached #16 at Pop, #4 AC, and #5 R&B. Hoping for similar results, this romantic mid-tempo tune got issued as a single. Although it didn't really connect at Pop (#58) or R&B (#41), it was successful at AC where it got to #5. It was Flack's tenth song to reach the AC Top 10.

ReduxReview:  This song was co-written by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe (The Four Seasons) and it kind of has that latter-day Seasons feel. However, I wonder if it got arranged in a different tempo/style than what they intended. It almost sounds like it was slowed down a bit with more emphasis given to the romantic side of it. Not sure. Regardless, I just find it okay. It's inoffensive and pretty, but there is little here to draw me back for repeated listens. The outdated production doesn't help at this point either.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was actually the third single lifted from the album. The second single had ties to a movie. The song "Maybe," written by the all-star team of Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, and Marvin Hamlisch, was recorded by Bryson and Flack for their album, but it was also selected as the closing song to the 1983 film Romantic Comedy. Just prior to the film's release in December, the single was issued. Unfortunately, it couldn't make any headway and only got to #68 on the R&B chart. It also didn't help that the Dudley Moore comedy, which was based on a successful 1979 stage play, was a box office disappointment and disappeared quickly.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Someone Like You" by Michael Stanley Band

Song#:  1738
Date:  12/24/1983
Debut:  81
Peak:  75
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  MSB got their second Pop Top 40 entry with "My Town" (#39 Pop, #11 Rock) from their ninth album You Can't Fight Fashion. The single helped make the album their highest peaking to-date at #64. This next single tried to keep up the momentum, but faltered after a few weeks on the chart. Unfortunately it would end up being the band's last charting single. The album would also be their last to reach that chart. MSB still continued to record and perform for years after with Michael Stanley consistently releasing solo discs since 1996. He and his band still draw huge crowds at Midwest venues.

ReduxReview:  I like the anxious groove and darker sound this song puts out. It's really a good track, but it's just not pop-hooky enough to score a high position on the chart. It's a shame they lost their deal (see below) because I think they could have done even better than this album, which is my favorite of theirs. But sadly, their major label days stopped here.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although MSB were not major national stars, their albums consistently did well and charted thanks to their huge Midwest fan base. So after four albums with EMI America, with You Can't Fight Fashion being their biggest yet, why did they disappear from the charts? It seems that soon after this album was released, their contract with EMI was set to expire. The label offered the band a six-month extension, but that seemed to be little support for a band that was hitting their stride. They deserved something a bit better and more secure, so Stanley declined the offer thinking the label would counter-offer something better. Sadly, they did not and instead promptly dismissed the band from the label. Now on their own, the band would independently issue one live album and one studio album before calling it a day. Stanley would form a band called The Ghost Poets, who recorded one album for Razor & Tie in 1993, before going solo a couple years later.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Just One More Time" by Headpins

Song#:  1737
Date:  12/24/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  70
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Canadian band got started when two members of Chilliwack, who scored in 1981 with "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)" (#22), wanted to do a side project. They brought on lead singer Denise McCann and began to gig around Canada. Folks began to take notice, but after a year, McCann decided to leave the band. In her place came vocalist Darby Mills. They ended up getting a record deal and in 1982 released their debut LP Turn It Loud. It was an unexpected hit spending six weeks at the top of the chart and going platinum. Their follow-up album, Line of Fire, helped the band get a little recognition in the States. This single found its way to the Pop chart and floated around for a couple of months. The album would also make the chart for a little bit, but both would be their first and last times on the US charts. Although the band would only record one more album, they continued to gig over the years and most of the original line-up is still performing as of this writing.

ReduxReview:  I've seen it written that Mills' vocals sound like a combo of Ann Wilson from Heart and Janis Joplin. That is pretty much spot on. If she sounded the same in a live setting, it had to have been something to hear. I like her vocals a lot, but the song is not that strong. It's good, but without Mills' voice, this song would be no different from tunes churned out by other similar rock bands of the era. It's a bit too polished as well. The band's first album rocked out a lot more and it sounded pretty great. The second disc seemed to reach too far into the mainstream and they lost a little steam.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Lead singer Darby Mills lost her gig with the Headpins in 1985. She was able to sign with MCA (the label that gave the Headpins their US deal) for a solo album. Tracks were written and recorded, but part way through the process, a change of guard at MCA's A&R department left Mills' project in limbo. It seems the new person running A&R had decided to push only one new female artist for the label at the time and it wasn't going to be Mills. With the album scrubbed, Mills was without a contract and back to square one. She regrouped and got signed to Warner Canada and with her new band, The Unsung Heroes, released an album in 1991. It did well, but not good enough to call for a second LP. Mills then rejoined the Headpins and has remained with them since. BTW - so who was the female artist that MCA promoted instead of Darby? None other than the shopping mall chanteuse herself, Tiffany.


Monday, August 1, 2016

"Middle of the Road" by The Pretenders

Song#:  1736
Date:  12/17/1983
Debut:  50
Peak:  19
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Late in 1982, the band released the single "Back on the Chain Gang." It became their biggest hit going to #5 and staying there for three weeks. However, an accompanying album was still in the works. Another song that had been completed, "2000 Miles," got issued in the UK and went to #15. Yet despite the two singles, work towards a new album seemed to come to a halt thanks in part to issues within the band that led to the loss of two members. Leader Chrissie Hynde sought out replacements and the new line-up headed back into the studio. The completed album, Learning to Crawl, included the previous two singles plus this new one. It was an instant hit at Rock reaching #2 and it had a good showing at Pop hitting the Top 20. 

ReduxReview:  I fell for this blistering rocker right off the bat. I loved its retro rock/R&B feel along with the background "oo-oo-oo-oo-oo's" and Hynde's vocals/harmonica solo. It sounded rough and tough and I couldn't get enough of it. The album was released soon after the single and I immediately bought it. The LP quickly became a favorite and this song was a major highlight. I probably still listen to this album a couple times a year while a few of the songs are mainstays on my gym playlist.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Another song on the album, "My City Was Gone," also served as the b-side to "Chain Gang." It got enough airplay to reach #11 on the US Rock chart. Hynde wrote the song, which has her going back to her hometown in Ohio (Akron) and reflecting on how industrialized and polluted it had become. For anyone who has listened to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, the song will be familiar. The opening bass line serves as the theme to Limbaugh's show. In addition to liking the bass line, he thought using a tune that is totally from a non-conservative viewpoint for his highly conservative show was interesting. After a while, The Pretenders' record label didn't particularly like it since Limbaugh had not gotten permission to use the piece of music. They sent a cease and desist letter and Limbaugh complied. Weirdly enough, once Hynde found out about it, she said she didn't mind if he used the tune because her parents were Limbaugh listeners. The legalities were all sorted out and Limbaugh continued to used the song. Hynde ended up donating her royalties from the deal to PETA.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

"An Innocent Man" by Billy Joel

Song#:  1735
Date:  12/17/1983
Debut:  51
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Joel's tribute to music styles of the past, An Innocent Man, was shaping up to be a major hit for him with the album's first two singles reaching #1 ("Tell Her About It") and #3 ("Uptown Girl"). This next title-track single would also be a Pop Top 10 while hitting #1 at AC. It would mark the first time that Joel would get three Top 10 Pop singles from one album.

ReduxReview:  I like the quiet "Under the Boardwalk" style verse that leads to the big, string-filled chorus. It's another gem from the album and deserved its Top 10 placement. Although it is meant to mimic older hits (see below), there is enough of Joel within the writing to make this all his. His vocals are terrific as well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  As with the other singles from the album, Joel wrote this song as an homage to an artist from the past. In this case, it was two artists - Ben E. King and The Drifters. King was actually a member of The Drifters from 1958-1960 singing lead vocals on several hits like "There Goes My Baby" (#1 R&B, #2 Pop, 1959) and "Save the Last Dance for Me" (#1 R&B and Pop, 1960). He left for a solo career and in 1961 released his enduring classic "Stand By Me" (#1 R&B, #4 Pop). The Drifters continued on and had significant success with the hits "Up on the Roof" (#5 Pop, #4 R&B, 1962), "On Broadway" (#9 Pop, #7 R&B, 1963) and "Under the Boardwalk" (#4 Pop, #1 R&B, 1964).