Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Believe in Me" by Dan Fogelberg

Song#:  1883
Date:  04/28/1984
Debut:  70
Peak:  48
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Fogelberg's album Windows and Walls included the #13 Pop/#14 AC hit "The Language of Love." For its follow-up, this ballad was chosen. It was a big hit at AC getting to #1. It would be Fogelberg's fourth and last AC chart topper. Although well-received at AC, the song didn't catch fire at Pop and it flamed out before it could get into the Top 40. The lack of another major Pop hit hindered album sales and after six consecutive platinum or double-platinum solo studio albums, Windows and Walls could only manage gold-level sales.

ReduxReview:  This song was pretty much perfect for AC radio. It was a bit reminiscent of Fogelberg's biggest hit, 1979's "Longer" (#2 Pop, #1 AC). The soft ballad was not a good fit for Pop. Things had changed at pop radio in the few years since Fogelberg had his last Top 10 hit and a sensitive, adult-leaning tune like this was not going to fit in with the sounds of the day. I have to say that even though I'm a fan of Fogelberg's, this was a song that I didn't much care for. It has a lovely sound and sentiment, but frankly it practically puts me to sleep. It is just too low-key and languid. Definitely not one of my favorite Fogelberg tracks.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  As a follow-up to his fourth album, 1977's Nether Lands, Fogelberg decided to stretch his soft rock music into a more jazz-leaning territory. He collaborated with jazz flautist Tim Weisberg, who had played on Nether Lands, and the pair worked up songs that blended aspects of jazz, rock, and pop. Due to a perceived resemblance between the two artists, the album was titled Twin Sons of Different Mothers. Although its lone single, "The Power of Gold," would only get to #24 at Pop, the album gained a following and ended up reaching #8 on the chart. It would later be certified platinum. They would revisit their pairing later in 1995 for a second LP titled No Resemblance Whatsoever. The cover of that album had them in the exact same pose as they did for their first LP. This time around, the magic didn't strike twice and the album failed to chart. Sadly, after the album's release, artists' partnership came to an end when Weisberg filed a lawsuit against Fogelberg for breach of contract and fraud.


Friday, December 16, 2016

"I Want to Break Free" by Queen

Song#:  1882
Date:  04/28/1984
Debut:  73
Peak:  45
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Queen's eleventh album, The Works, started off with the moderate hit "Radio Ga-Ga" (#16 Pop, #22 Rock). Like their previous album, Hot Space, the lack of a significant Top 10 hit affected album sales and both LPs missed out on the Top 20 and could only manage gold-level sales. They probably hoped this second single would help turn things around, but it did not. The song fell just shy of a Top 40 showing and didn't even chart at Rock. It did appear on the Dance chart, but that was at a lowly #51. It seemed that the US was one of the few countries that just wasn't dialing into Queen at the time. In many other countries, including their UK homeland, their albums and singles (this one hit #3 in the UK) were still finding their way into the Top 10 or even #1.

ReduxReview:  This is a pleasant enough tune from the band and a lot of the time these warm little ditties play well on the chart (i.e., like Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You"). There is typically a mass audience for songs like this, but for some reason they didn't show up for this one. For me, the tune is fine, but it is nothing I'd place on a list of favorite Queen songs. Meh.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Many folks cite the song's video as the main reason it did not chart better in the US. The concept for the video was to do a parody of the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street. All four members of Queen donned dresses in order to portray some of the female characters on the show during portions of the video. While Europe and most of the rest of the world knew what the band was doing, folks in the US were puzzled by it as the show it parodies was unfamiliar. Therefore, the video got interpreted in other ways that didn't sit well with MTV and they ended up banning it. Without that extra promotional boost from MTV (along with the fact that "Radio Ga-Ga" was not a major hit), the song couldn't get a foothold on the charts and fell away.  2) In many cases, the album version of a song is edited down into a shorter version for single release. However, this song is the rare exception. For the single version, they actually added passages to the song that made it about 30 seconds longer than the album version. The single version includes an extended opening and a longer keyboard solo.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

"Don't Look Any Further" by Dennis Edwards featuring Siedah Garrett

Song#:  1881
Date:  04/28/1984
Debut:  81
Peak:  72
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  In 1967, Edwards became the lead singer of The Temptations after original member David Ruffin departed. Edwards would front the group for some of their biggest hits including 1972's #1 "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." He would spend about fifteen years with the Temps, but it was not always smooth sailing. On three different occasions, Edwards was fired from the group. The first time was in 1977. Edwards then attempted a solo career, but a recorded album ended up shelved and he was back with the Temps by 1980. The second firing came a few years later, which again prompted Edwards to try for a solo career. This time around he was able to get it kicked off the ground with this first single, the title track to his debut album. Featuring a guest vocal by Siedah Garrett (see below), the song became a hit at R&B reaching #2. It did well enough to get some crossover play at Pop, but it mainly stayed in the lower reaches of the chart. A second single hit #15 at R&B and it made Edwards ripe for solo stardom. Unfortunately, his second album couldn't produce a hit and it disappeared rather quickly. By 1987, he was back with the Temps once again. His final firing from the group came two years later. Edwards then spent time touring and eventually developed a Temptations Review act that has continued performing even as of this posting date.

ReduxReview:  I've seen it mentioned in several places that this is considered a soul classic. I don't think I'd go that far. It's a good song and I like its slinky groove, but a classic? Not in my book. The tune does improve upon repeated listens and I can easily hear how this single grooved it's way to #2 at R&B. Pop didn't catch on and I'm not surprised. It was definitely more soul-leaning, which was still being ignored at Pop at the time. I don't mind the tune, but it's nothing that I'd classify as a classic.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Siedah Garrett had been getting established in music circles via her songwriting and background vocal work for several artists. Along the way she did demo work for other songwriters and performed that task for this song. Initially, the song was to feature Chaka Khan with Edwards, but that ended up not happening and Garrett's demo work got her the job instead. It became her first single and her first hit. She would later score a major #1 hit in 1987 with "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," her duet with the King of Pop Michael Jackson.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"Eyes That See in the Dark" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  1880
Date:  04/28/1984
Debut:  86
Peak:  79
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Rogers collaborated with songwriter/producer Barry Gibb for the LP Eyes That See in the Dark. It would be Rogers' last album to hit the Pop Top 10 (#6). It reached that position thanks mainly to the #1 duet with Dolly Parton "Islands in the Stream." After a solo outing with "This Woman" came up a bit short at Pop (#23), this third title-track single was issued. While it would be another Top 10 at AC (#4), it couldn't make much of a dent at Pop. It fared slightly better at Country where it got to #30.

ReduxReview:  This tune is definitely a better fit vocal-wise for Rogers. "This Woman" was a bit too Bee Gee-ish and he sounded uncomfortable singing it. On this one he is more relaxed and it works well. It's a nice song with obligatory background vocals by the Gibbs (Barry and Maurice), but it is not a very strong single. I would have never picked it for release. It worked fine for AC, but it lacked the extra oomph needed to make an impression at Pop.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In the UK, this song served as the album's lead single. Apparently the record label, RCA, thought that Dolly Parton's more country-leaning vocals would not play well in the UK. She was also not as well-received in the UK pop world with only three charting singles to her credit. So instead of issuing "Island in the Stream" as the first single, they went with this title-track. It basically tanked only getting to #61. However, once "Island" started catching fire in the US, the label then issued it as the second single. It became a hit reaching #7 on the UK chart.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

"Original Sin" by INXS

Song#:  1879
Date:  04/28/1984
Debut:  87
Peak:  58
Weeks:  7
Genre:  New Wave, Rock

Pop Bits:  INXS' third album, Shabooh Shoobah, featured the band's first US hit. "The One Thing" would reach #2 at Rock while just making the Pop Top 30. After a lengthy tour, the band found themselves in New York City recording a new song with producer Nile Rodgers. Once that song was in the can, they headed back to Australia to record the rest of their new album. After it was completed, it was decided that this Rodgers-produced song would serve as the first single from their fourth album, The Swing. It was an immediate hit in Australia where it became the band's first #1 single. The album would also reach the top of the chart. The song would also do well in several other countries, but in the US it struggled to get near the top half of the Pop chart. The news was about the same at Rock where it topped out at #43. However, the album ended up selling well and got to #52. Eventually it would go platinum once the band broke through in a much bigger way with their next LP.

ReduxReview:  While the Nile Rodgers production was solid and added a good bit of funkiness, I can definitely hear why this song didn't make it in the US. While it has an effective new wave verse, the chorus is very weak. For me, it really lets the song down. I think the band was still trying to refine their songwriting and they were on the right path; however, this tune was only halfway there and the US responded in that manner sending it about halfway up the chart. The band would start to hit their stride with their next LP.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While in the studio recording this song, Rodgers brought in a singer he had worked with recently to supply background vocals for the chorus. Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates came in to help out with the recording. Although he was happy to do it, in later interviews he mentioned that he didn't know why he was asked to do the vocals as the band already had capable singers.  2) In 2010, INXS would rerecord this song in a dance version with Matchbox Twenty leader Rob Thomas and rapper DJ Yalediys. It would reach #1 on the US Dance chart the following year.


Monday, December 12, 2016

"Days Gone By" by Poco

Song#:  1878
Date:  04/28/1984
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Soft Rock, Country Rock

Pop Bits:  Following their self-titled debut album in 1970, Poco released a stream of good selling LPs that culminated in their 1978 gold-selling LP Legend, which featured a pair of Top 20 hits that crossed over to AC and Country. After that, the band's fortunes began to slide and navigating the new decade proved difficult. It all kind of came to a head with 1984's Inamorata. This first single couldn't make it out of the basement at Pop and failed to reach any other chart. It disappeared quickly as did the album. The results led their label, Atlantic, to drop the band. Afterward, the band experienced personnel changes while continuing to do a few tour dates. That might have been the end of the line for the band, but with the help of another pop star, they would rebound in 1989 with a hit single and album.

ReduxReview:  This song is just on the verge of being really good. As-is, I like it. The opening is solid and I like how it leads to the kick-in before the bridge/chorus. However, I think the chorus needed to be stronger in order for it to be more memorable. The title finally gets repeated in the outro, but by then it's a little too late. Still, it's a good song and one of their better latter career singles.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Half of the songs on Inamorata were written by band member Paul Cotton. Cotton joined Poco in 1970 when Jim Messina departed. Prior to that, Cotton was in the Chicago-based country/blues rock band Illinois Speed Press. That band got a chance at the big time when Columbia signed them in 1969. Their self-titled debut album was issued at the same time as three other Chicago-based bands that were on Columbia. The label had decided to do combination promos with the bands saying that they represented the Chicago sound. The albums had varying success with Illinois Speed Press' album getting to #144 on the chart. However, the debut album of one of the bands became a major hit. Chicago Transit Authority would be a multi-platinum album that spawned two Top 10 hits. Of course the band would shorten their name to just Chicago with their next LP.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

"Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" by Luther Vandross

Song#:  1877
Date:  04/28/1984
Debut:  95
Peak:  87
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Vandross' duet with Dionne Warwick, "How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye" (#4 AC, #7 R&B, #27 Pop), served a dual purpose. It was the first single and title track to Warwick's Vandross-produced LP and it also served as the first single from Vandross' third album Busy Body. For his follow-up, Vandross released this lengthy medley. At 9-plus minutes, the song was way too long radio and for getting issued on a 45 single. At first the song was edited down to a 5-plus minute version and issued on a 12" single. Then later it was whittled down to eliminate the second song and released on a 45 as just "Superstar (Don't You Remember...)." The medley version ended up being a hit at R&B reaching #5 and its strength there allowed it to cross over to Pop for a few weeks.

ReduxReview:  It's funny, the other day I was listening to this song. I was in a Vandross mood and pulled out his The Best of Love collection on which this song appears. This is a beautiful rendition of "Superstar" and I think it has influenced a lot of singers including American Idol second season winner Ruben Studdard, who sang this on the show. Although it is slightly drawn out and the "Until" opening makes it sound a little old-fashioned, it is still a wonderfully arranged song with a great vocal turn from Vandross.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This medley is made up of two cover songs. The first tune, "Superstar," was written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell. Originally known as "Groupie (Superstar)," the song was first recorded by Delaney & Bonnie and Friends (featuring Eric Clapton) in 1969. (Note - for those that don't know Bonnie Bramlett as a music artist may remember her from the TV show Roseanne on which she played Bonnie, Roseanne's friend and restaurant co-worker.) Other artists like Joe Cocker and Bette Midler caught on to the song, but it wasn't until it got recorded by the Carpenters in 1971 that the song became a hit. It reached #2 on the Pop chart and #1 AC. Vandross began performing the song in his shows earlier in the 80s and finally recorded it for his third album. His recorded rendition included a second song, "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)," which begins the medley. That song was originally co-written and recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1967. It was not released as a single and actually did not see the light of day until it appeared on Wonder's 1977 compilation album Looking Back. However, the tune became a big hit when Aretha Franklin sang it in 1973. Her single reached #1 at R&B and #3 Pop.