Saturday, August 20, 2016

"New Moon on Monday" by Duran Duran

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1754
Date:  01/14/1984
Debut:  58
Peak:  10
Weeks:  16
Genre:  New Wave, Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's third album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, got off to a good start thanks to the #3 hit "Union of the Snake." It was a worldwide hit and they were hoping for another one with this second single. Although the song would just scrape the US Top 10 and get to #9 in the UK, it failed to be a significant hit in other countries and even missed the charts in a few. It would end up being a slight lull between bigger hits.

ReduxReview:  I didn't much care for "Union," but I started to get re-interested in the band with this song. Once again, the lyrics are silly and indecipherable, but the chorus is dang good. I especially like the transition after the first chorus back to the verse, which has a Bowie feel to it. I still had little interest in the album, but the singles were beginning to perk up.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Duran Duran were on a Christmas holiday break when they had to cut it short in order to shoot a video for this song. They were not real thrilled to be there, so they basically hung around and drank between their scenes. Some band members consider it their worst video, especially for the scene at the end where they awkwardly dance around. The video was directed by Brian Grant, who had some solid shoots under his belt with Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" and Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money." It originally started as a mini espionage-style movie with a lengthy non-music setup. The full version ended up being seventeen minutes long, but most stations chose to air a five minute edited clip. MTV asked for further cuts to the prologue and an even shorter video played on that channel. The femme fatale in the video was played by Patricia Barzyk, who was Miss France in 1980.


Friday, August 19, 2016

"This Woman" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  1753
Date:  01/14/1984
Debut:  64
Peak:  23
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  For his album Eyes That See in the Dark, Rogers collaborated with Barry Gibb and the results were quite strong with the album's first single, the Dolly Parton duet "Islands in the Stream," topping the Pop, Country, and AC charts. Rogers would go solo for this follow-up single, which leaned heavily towards the Pop/AC markets. While the song was a solid hit at AC reaching #2, it wasn't as well-received at Pop where it flamed out short of the Top 20. Country ignored the song and it failed to chart.

ReduxReview:  The Gibb brothers signature songwriting style is all over this song, especially in the verse. I've written before how their choppy, syncopated melodies work well for them, but not all vocalist can sing their work convincingly. Rogers does a fairly good job tackling the Gibb's oddly halting melody, but he still sound slightly uncomfortable and awkward. He settles in for the chorus, but when back at the verse, he's tense again and fighting the rhythm. Overall, the song still works and I like it, but it is not a stellar entry in either artist's catalog.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  While this song was mainly marketed to pop, the single's b-side was getting picked up by country radio. "Buried Treasure" was a much more country oriented tune and listeners responded well. The song would end up peaking at #3 on the Country chart.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

"I Want a New Drug" by Huey Lewis & the News

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  1752
Date:  01/14/1984
Debut:  68
Peak:  6
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The band got their second Top 10 hit when "Heart and Soul," their first single from their third album Sports, reached #8 (#1 Rock). This follow-up single would do even better by getting a couple notches higher and going gold in the process.  It would also get to #7 at Rock and #1 at Dance. Although they would have better charting hits, this single would be the second best-selling of their career. And, of course, it would be famously tangled up in a copyright lawsuit later in the year after the release of Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Ghostbusters."

ReduxReview:  This groovy song was certainly helped along by the comical MTV video. It was hard to forget Lewis plunging his face in ice water and singing. The horns are jammin', the guitar solo is rockin', and the tune is infectious. It was a great follow-up to "Heart and Soul" and one that kept the album selling.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The video for this song and the one for "Heart and Soul" featured the same woman that catches Huey Lewis' eye. Future soap opera star Signy Coleman appeared in both videos. Coleman would later have roles in the soaps Guiding Light and Santa Barbra. However, her most famous and enduring role would be that of Hope Adams on The Young and the Restless. Portraying a blind woman, Coleman was a regular cast member on the show initially for four years beginning in 1993. She would return to the role in 2000 for a couple of years and also 2008.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"She's Trouble" by Musical Youth

Song#:  1751
Date:  01/14/1984
Debut:  84
Peak:  65
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  These UK teens and their reggae sound grabbed an unexpected hit early in 1983 with "Pass the Dutchie." The tune would be a #1 hit in the UK and around Europe while going to #10 in the US (#8 R&B). With that hit and a duet with Donna Summer reaching the charts ("Unconditional Love"), the time was right to issue their second album, Different Style! True to its title, the LP pushed the teens in a more R&B direction, as heard on this single, while still incorporating the reggae of their first effort. The new direction was met with a shrug and both the single and album would disappear quickly. The failure of the album along with some inner group turmoil led to the break-up of Musical Youth in 1985.

ReduxReview:  This was just too severe of a shift in style for the group. What endeared them to folks was their light reggae sound and their quirky teenage vocals. Sadly, some corporate or label dude probably thought that ditching the reggae in order to become more mainstream was a brilliant idea. It was not. This song basically strips the group of their musical identity. This could be any new R&B/Pop artist. It was really a shame. That said, I actually like the song. It's bouncy and fun and almost sounds like something Donna Summer might have recorded (it probably would have been better if she had). The unfortunate thing is that it sounds nothing like Musical Youth. Good song, horrible mistake.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was penned by Terry Brittan, Sue Shifrin, and Bill Livsey and was initially demoed by Michael Jackson. It was a contender for his Thriller album, but in the end it was left on the shelf. Later in 1986, the song was redone and completed by Jackson for potential use, but once again it got sidelined. The demo version ended up leaked online and can be found on YouTube.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"Love Has a Mind of Its Own" by Donna Summer

Song#:  1750
Date:  01/14/1984
Debut:  86
Peak:  70
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Summer grabbed her third Top 10 hit of the decade with the title track to her album She Works Hard for the Money. The single was enough to get the album to #9 and get certified gold. However, Summer was having difficulty following up that #3 smash. The LP's second single, "Unconditional Love," stopped at #43 (#9 R&B) and this next song did even worse. It spend a month near the bottom of the Pop chart while only getting to #35 at R&B. Regardless, the album and its title track single were highly successful and continued to dig Summer out of the disco backlash hole.

ReduxReview:  Although she has done them, Summer is not known as a ballad singer. All of her Top 10 hits have been upbeat songs. She had a difficult enough time trying to break out of the disco label, so trying to expand into pop/AC ballad territory was going to be an even tougher sell and indeed it proved to be. I think there were two things wrong here. First, the timing. Breaking a ballad might have been good to do following "She Works Hard," which established her on MTV and in the good graces of those who dumped her when disco crumbled. As a third single, chances of failure increased. Second, the ballad is just not that strong. She needed a sure-fire big ballad that would cross over to AC and it probably either needed to be solo or a duet with a star artist. This just wasn't going to do the trick. Getting a hit ballad would have served her well, but unfortunately this was not the one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although he is not credited on this single's sleeve, singer Matthew Ward serves as Summer's duet partner on this song. Ward and two of his siblings formed 2nd Chapter of Acts in the early 70s. With a more contemporary sound, the trio helped develop a genre called Jesus music, which would eventually evolve into Contemporary Christian. They had good success in the 70s and 80s releasing a string of albums that culminated in their Dove Award winning 1986 album Hymns. Along the way, they would also provide backing vocals for other artists. During the early 80s, Summer became a born-again Christian and that most likely led to her association with Ward and his appearance on this song. 2nd Chapter of Acts split in 1988 with Ward embarking on a solo career.


Monday, August 15, 2016

"For a Rocker" by Jackson Browne

Song#:  1749
Date:  01/14/1984
Debut:  89
Peak:  45
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This third single from Browne's Lawyers in Love album returned him to the Top 10 at Rock (#7). Unfortunately, it couldn't get near that peak at Pop and it faltered before it could get inside the Top 40. A fourth single titled "Cut It Away" would be issued later, but it could only manage a #37 showing at Rock while missing the Pop chart completely. The album would be certified platinum and would be Browne's last studio album to reach that level.

ReduxReview:  Although this song is a tribute (see below) and has a few shadowy lyrics, it's a good, energetic tune from Browne. In a period where his music was becoming more political in tone, this straight-ahead rocker is quite refreshing. It's a little Dire Straits-ish in the verse, but it all works well. I'm not big on Browne's music, but I don't mind groovin' to this one. It probably should have spent a few weeks in the Top 40.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Apparently, this song was written as a tribute to musician James Honeyman-Scott, co-founder and guitarist for The Pretenders. Honeyman-Scott had died in June of 1982 from heart failure as a result of his cocaine use. The song mentions two women - Peggy Sue and Jenny.  Peggy Sue was the name of Honeyman-Scott's wife at the time of his death and Jenny was her sister.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

"I Will Follow" by U2

Song#:  1748
Date:  01/14/1984
Debut:  90
Peak:  81
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  U2 broke through to the US with their third album War. Featuring the #2 Rock song (#53 Pop) "New Years Day," the album would reach #12 and over time would sell four million copies. Of course a tour would follow and their reputation as a live band along with a hit album led to sold-out venues in the US and Europe. Some of their performances were recorded and songs from select shows were used to create the live album Under a Blood Red Sky. This lone single from the album was from a performance in Germany and it was able to spend a few weeks on the Pop chart. It somehow missed the Rock chart, but oddly went to #34 on the Dance chart. Two of the songs from the album were recorded at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. That concert was filmed and later in the year a video of the performance would be released. Titled U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky, the video would be a best-seller that would cement the band's reputation as an outstanding live act.

ReduxReview:  As you may know, I'm not keen on concert recordings. However, I will say that this is a song that is made to be done live. As always, I prefer the studio version, but the band does a solid, blistering reading of the tune and Bono's excitement comes through on the recording. It's one of the rare instances where I actually get something from the live version. Lots of artists are brilliant in concert, but live recordings typically can't capture the magic of the performance. U2 is one of the rare acts that can bring something to any medium that captures their work. I also remember this song vividly from college. My roommate had a band and they were doing a wedding gig. I went along to help and take some performance pictures. For whatever reason, they decided to break into this song late in the evening. It was rather jarring and it certainly confused wedding guests who had previously been dancing to standard wedding band fare like "Celebration." Needless to say, it didn't go over well and the band returned to familiar pop tunes. But the sight of them rockin' out to this song while the wedding guests looked on in horror was pretty priceless.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The original studio version of this song served as U2's first single to hit any chart. It would be a mid-level charter in a few countries while getting to #20 on the US Rock chart. It was from their 1980 debut album Boy.  2) A version of their song "The Electric Co." that was included on the live album got the band in a little hot water. In the performance, lead singer Bono riffs on the melody to the song "Send in the Clowns" during a band vamp. That song was written by Stephen Sondheim for his 1973 Tony-winning Best Musical A Little Night Music. Unfortunately, the band didn't get permission from Sondheim to use his work and after the album's release, a bit of a dust-up ensued. The band quickly agreed to pay a penalty fee for the unauthorized use of the song and subsequent pressings of the album featured an edited version of the track.