Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"Say It Again" by Santana

Song#:  2229
Date:  02/23/1985
Debut:  70
Peak:  46
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The 80s started off well for Santana with their album Zebop! hitting #9 and going platinum. However, their next LP Shango didn't get much support and it could only manage gold sales. It was the start of a significant slide down for the band, which continued with their next album, Beyond Appearances. Featuring a new band lineup and new producer, Val Garay (Kim Carnes, The Motels), the album tried to get some sales going with this first single. The track did okay at Rock (#15) and Dance (#19), but it stalled short of the Pop Top 40. It was Santana's first album since 1976 to not get a song in the Top 40. A second single couldn't even reach the chart. With little to promote the album, it stalled at #50, which was Santana's worst chart showing to-date. To make things worse, it was also their first album to not achieve at least gold level sales. Things just spiraled after this. The band's next three albums fared even worse and spawned no Pop chart singles. Following 1992's Milagro, the band stopped recording and just toured. However, they would experience a major revival soon after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

ReduxReview:  I remember buying this single not because I liked it (I hadn't heard it) or was even a fan of Santana's (I wasn't), it was due to producer Val Garay. I just loved his style at the time and what he did for Kim Carnes, The Motels, and even Dolly Parton. So I bought the single blindly thinking Santana might sound pretty cool with Garay at the controls. Well, I was sorely disappointed. There was no magic here and what made it even worse was that Garay co-wrote the tune. It just sounded like basic, bland pop. The tune wasn't very good to start with and the production was quite standard. After that, I stopped buying records based solely on the producer. Even now when there is a hot producer doing work with several high-profile artists, I take a listen first. When it comes down to it, no matter how good the production is you still have to have the songs behind it. Unfortunately, at this point in their career, Santana did not.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Following their induction into the Hall of Fame, there was some renewed interest in the band. Clive Davis at Arista Records had an idea to get the band back on track. He wanted to pair them up with several modern, popular artists and create an album that would carry appeal for older fans while bringing new ones on board. The resulting album, Supernatural, would end up being a massive hit thanks to the #1 song "Smooth," which was co-written and sung by Rob Thomas (Matchbox Twenty). The album would spend twelve non-consecutive weeks at #1, go 15x platinum, and win eight Grammys including Album of the Year. It would be the biggest hit of Santana's career. Three more Top 10 hits would follow along with a second multi-platinum album, Shaman. Although things have cooled since their massive comeback, the four of the five albums they have recorded since Shaman hit the Top 10.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, November 20, 2017

"One Night in Bangkok" by Murray Head

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2228
Date:  02/23/1985
Debut:  81
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Dance, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  English actor/singer Murray Head began writing songs as a kid and in the mid-60s tried to get a music career started. He recorded several singles for various labels, but nothing came from them. Then in 1969, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice hired Head to sing on the concept album for their rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Performing as Judas Iscariot, Head would sing what would be considered the opera's signature track "Superstar." The song was issued as a single prior to the album's release and it peaked at a low #74. Then nearly a year later as the show was being prepped for Broadway with Head in the Iscariot role, the song recharted for a minor three weeks, dropped off the chart, and then returned for a final run that would find the single peaking at #14. Following the song's success, Head tried to get a solo career going. He recorded seven album for five labels, but chart success eluded him. Then in 1983, Head was once again tapped to perform on another musical concept album that was co-written by Tim Rice (along with ABBA members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson). Called Chess, the musical concept album had Head performing the pop/dance song "One Night in Bangkok." The tune was released as a single and it caught on in a big way hitting the Top 10's of many countries including the US (#5 Dance/#35 AC/#89 R&B). Later in '86, the stage version of the musical hit London's West End with Head performing in the cast. It would make it to Broadway in '88, but with a different cast. Head would continue to record albums over the years, but he remained off the charts. He would have a bit more success acting on stage, in TV shows, and in films.

ReduxReview:  I believe this song has the distinction of being the last song from a stage musical to hit the Pop chart that was performed by an original cast member. Some cover tunes from shows have reached the chart, but none by the originating artist. Even Hamilton with all of its success has not produced a charting single. I remember this concept album being talked up, especially since it involved half of ABBA, so when this single came out and got on the chart, it was quite the deal. What made the musical a bit different was that many of the songs were modern pop oriented and could function on their own outside of the show. This one in particular was certainly set up to be a potential hit when you consider the hooky chorus, the rap, and the driving dance beat. It got an extra boost from the odd lyrics and strange touches within the arrangement. It made for a bizarre hit that folks loved or hated. I thought it was a lot of fun and it made me buy the Chess album. It's now one of those relics from the decade that still gets some airplay and induces some chuckles and sing-a-longs. I prefer the song with its "Bangkok" orchestral opening left intact. (BTW - my favorite song from Chess was the wonderfully urgent "Nobody's Side" by the great Elaine Paige.)

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Head's younger brother, Anthony, became a successful actor as well. Although he has been in several stage productions, TV shows, and films, he is most likely best known to US audiences as the character Rupert Giles on the hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  2) Although this song was credited solely to Head, he only performs the rap portion of the song. The chorus was sung by Swedish singer Anders Glenmark. Glenmark became a highly successful songwriter/producer in Sweden working with many artists including solo work from ABBA's Frida.  3) This song was only able to make it to #12 in the UK. However, a duet from the Chess album, "I Know Him So Well" by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson, reached #1 for four weeks. It was issued in the US, but failed to chart. Whitney Houston recorded the song as a duet with her mother Cissy for Whitney's second album in 1987. The track was released as a single in a minor few countries (not the US) the following year. The best it did was #14 in the Netherlands.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, November 19, 2017

"The Bird" by The Time

Song#:  2227
Date:  02/23/1985
Debut:  83
Peak:  36
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  The Time's Ice Cream Castle LP was doing well thanks to the hit "Jungle Love" (#6 R&B, #20 Pop), which was featured in the film Purple Rain. The title track of the album served as the second single, but it didn't fare as well only reaching #11 at R&B and missing the Pop chart. This third single would do better at Pop, most likely due to it also being in Purple Rain, and it would get inside the Top 40 while going to #6 at Dance. The response wasn't as good at R&B were it topped out at #33.

ReduxReview:  It was probably smart to go with the live version of this song (see below). The Time were a hot live band and their skills were never on display on record at the time due to Prince controlling everything. So this was a nice change and it highlighted them as a band. It's also the kind of song that is better in concert. It's a fun jam, but there's really not much to it. Therefore, the band's performance is key to making it work along with Morris Day's vocals and ad-libs. Otherwise, it's a bit of a near-novelty, toss-a-way tune.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was recorded live in October of '83 when The Time was performing at the First Avenue club in Minneapolis. Later on, in preparation for the album, the song was recorded in the studio. That version had Prince playing all the instruments except guitar, which was handled by Jessie Johnson. It had been recorded for inclusion on the Ice Cream Castle album, but prior to its release the studio version was set aside in favor of the live version. It would mark the first time in three albums that the full band was actually heard on record. All their previous songs and recordings were mainly done by Prince with Morris Day singing over the top of the tracks.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2226
Date:  02/23/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  This Scottish band came together in 1977 and by 1979 they had a solid line up and a contract with Arista Records. Their debut LP, Life in a Day, did well in the UK getting to #30. Two more albums would follow on Arista before they switched to Virgin. Their first album for the label, Sons and Fascination, broke them a bit further in the UK when it reached #11. But it would be their 1982 album, New Gold Dream (81, 82, 83, 84) that would make them stars in Europe. Featuring two Top 20 UK hits, the album would reach #3 there and go Top 10 in several countries. It set them up for their first UK #1 album in '84 titled Sparkle in the Rain. Despite solid success around the world, the band was virtually ignored in the US. This seemed to have stemmed from the labels not promoting the band in the US. That would change when they recorded this song that was written for the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club. Used as the closing song, the single took off when the film became a box office hit. It would hit #1 at both Pop and Rock while reaching #9 at Dance and #36 AC. With the song helping to establish them in the US, the band now had the task of trying to follow up the massive hit.

ReduxReview:  I don't think any 80s pop playlist would be complete without this song. It is an essential hit from the decade. I loved it from the start, but then the thing got so overplayed that I tired of it. I ignored the song for a long time, but then eased it back into my 80s rotation. Simple Minds is not the first artist to dislike one of their hits (see below), but it's like biting the hand that feeds. Without this song, their chances of making it big in the US were minimal. If they didn't like the song, they shouldn't have done it. Since they did, they should have embraced it, especially after it became a hit. I could be completely wrong, but I seem to remember that at one point they tried to stop playing this at their concerts and audiences about revolted. To me it sounded like sour grapes - the song that they would be remembered most for wasn't theirs (and they wouldn't reap the financial benefits of being the writers/publishers either). It sticks in my craw when artists do this. Hey, you guys wanted to be stars, especially in the US, so accept the hit, say thank you, and happily move forward.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written for the film by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff. Originally, they wanted Bryan Ferry to record the song, but he turned it down. It seems Cy Curnin (The Fixx) passed on it as well, as did Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders). It's been said that Billy Idol was also offered the song, but he says that didn't happen (he actually recorded the tune himself in 2001). Then Simple Minds, a band which Forsey loved, was suggested. When approached, the band initially turned the opportunity down because they didn't want to record a song not written by the band and they didn't really like the tune. However, after seeing a screening of the film and some prodding from folks like Kerr's wife Chrissie Hynde and songwriter Forsey, the band convened at a studio and rearranged/recorded the song.  2) Even though this song was a worldwide hit and got them established in the US, the band still didn't like the song (they even left it off their next album, which was released later in the year). In one interview, the band mentioned they were a bit embarrassed by the song's success and lead singer Jim Kerr apparently told a reporter that he wanted to vomit every time they played the song. However, no matter how much they wanted to distance themselves from the tune, it wasn't going to go away. It had become a touchstone song from an iconic 80s film where the end image of Judd Nelson putting his fist in the air being directly associated. However, in later years Kerr has said he recognizes the song's impact and is glad he was able to be a part of that.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Look My Way" by The Vels

Spotlight Alert!
Song#:  2225
Song#:  1802
Date:  02/23/1985
Debut:  92
Peak:  72
Weeks:  6
Genre:  New Wave, Dance, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  This Philadelphia trio consisting of Charles Hanson, Alice DeSoto, and Chris Larkin formed in 1980 and over the next few years they honed their sound and gathered a solid following. Eventually, Mercury Records came calling and the band got signed to the label. Working with producer Steve Stanley (of Tom Tom Club), the trio recorded their debut album, Velocity. The initial single from the album, "Private World," couldn't do much except a #30 showing on the Dance chart. This next single got a little more attention thanks to an MTV video and the song was able to reach the Pop chart for a few weeks while getting to #39 at Dance. It would be their only single to reach the Pop chart. A second album, House of Miracles, was issued in 1986, but it quickly disappeared. The Vels broke up later in '87.

ReduxReview:  I've never heard of this Philly band, but they hooked me right from the opening of this song. The warm chords, the nice melody, the boy/girl vocals, and the 80s synthpop production are all right up my alley. Then, to top it off, there is a rap section a la Debbie Harry in "Rapture." It was produced by the same guy who co-wrote and produced Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love," so that seemed to rub off here. Sadly, this song couldn't do as well and it quickly disappeared. It deserved a better fate. I've called up a couple of their other tunes and they show promise, so I ordered up both of their LPs to see what else they had to offer. Regardless, this is a lost gem from the 80s and a lovely surprise to run across. As I've said before, discovering tunes like this is one of the best things about this project and I think it is worthy of being in the Spotlight.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Charles Hanson's first brush with success came via the New Orleans-based punk band The Normals. Formed in 1977, they only issued one single back in the late 70s, but had recorded enough songs for an album. These would later be issued on LP and then in 2011 as a CD titled Vacation to Nowhere. Apparently, at the time they were considered New Orleans' first punk band. After an unsuccessful attempt to break through in New York, the band split and Hanson went on to form The Vels. It seems these days Hanson owns what is considered one of the oldest bars still in operation in NYC. Now called the 169 Bar, it originally opened in 1916.  2) After The Vels broke up, Alice DeSoto returned to her real name of Alice Cohen and in the early 90s was a member of the Athens, Georgia, band Die Monster Die. They released two albums that did well critically, but were commercially unsuccessful. While in The Vels, Cohen wrote a disco-style song called "Deetour" that was a #34 Dance hit in 1982 for singer Karen Young. Young previously had one charting hit at Pop called "Hot Shot." That 1978 track reached #1 at Dance while getting to #67 at Pop.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"We Close Our Eyes" by Go West

Song#:  2224
Date:  02/23/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  41
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  This UK duo of Peter Cox and Richard Drummie recorded a two-song demo that got the attention of Chrysalis Records. After signing a deal, they set out to record their self-titled debut album. This first single was issued and in their home country it became a hit reaching #5 on the chart. In the US, it would also reach #5 on the Dance chart, but it didn't do as well at Pop just missing out on the Top 40 at the dreaded #41 position.  However, that seemed to be enough to draw folks to the album and it peaked at a respectable #60 (#8 UK).

ReduxReview:  One of the things this duo did well was to come up with big, memorable synth riffs like the one at the beginning of this song. It grabs your attention right away and is quite memorable. I like this song but have always thought it was a bit disjointed, like the various sections were created separately and stitched together. Still, the song worked but it was the forceful synth line that made it memorable.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although it was not created for the film, this song was included on the soundtrack to the 1985 Italian horror flick Dèmoni (English title: Demons). That movie was co-written and produced by Dario Argento. Argento had written, directed and/or produced many horror/thriller films since the late '60s. Arguably one of his most famous creations was the 1977 surreal supernatural thriller Suspiria, which is often included on lists of best horror films. Demons was quite successful in Europe and it ended up spawning seven sequels over the years.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2223
Date:  02/16/1985
Debut:  54
Peak:  6
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This song would serve as the fourth single from Springsteen's mega-hit album Born in the U.S.A. It debuted as the previous single, the title-track, was just finishing up its run on the Pop chart. It would sail into the Top 10 at Pop while reaching #4 at Rock. The ballad would also be Springsteen's first entry to reach the AC chart. It did well getting to #6. As this song was debuting on the singles chart, the album returned to #1 for three weeks. It had already spent four weeks at #1 in the summer of '84, so for the LP to get back to the top spot six months later was a remarkable feat.

ReduxReview:  When I first got the album and heard this song, I thought it was one of those dark, smokey, sensual songs that was perfect for cruising in the car with the windows down on a hot summer night. It nearly sounded like an outtake from Springsteen's Nebraska album. It was pretty great, but I never thought of it being a single. I guess it made sense as his run of Born singles had all been rockers, so something like this would be a nice change of pace. It ended up working quite well and it sounded great on the radio.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Two of Springsteen's previous singles had videos created for them and those mainly consisted of concert footage. However, the video for this song set aside stage performances in favor of one that had Springsteen acting out a story line that reflected the lyrics. The video won Springsteen an MTV Music Video award for Best Male Video. It was directed by John Sayles, who had made a few well-received films including 1980's Return of the Secaucus 7 and 1984's The Brother from Another Planet. He was also the writer of the 1978 b-movie horror flick Piranha. He was later twice nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Screenplay category for 1992's Passion Fish and 1996's Lone Star, both of which he directed as well.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Rhythm of the Night" by DeBarge

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2222
Date:  02/16/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  3
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Dance, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  This family group's star had been steadily rising since their debut album in 1981. By late '83 they had scored their first #1 R&B hit with "Time Will Reveal" (#18 Pop). Their label, Motown, thought it was time for the group to break through in a bigger way and decided to bring in some name producers and writers to help get them out of their R&B ballad mode and into something more mainstream friendly. First up was this track that was written by Diane Warren and produced by Richard Perry. It was recorded for DeBarge's new album, but Berry Gordy was producing a movie titled The Last Dragon and decided to use the song for the soundtrack as well. Released as a single, the song caught on and became the group's second #1 at R&B. It also broke them through to the Pop Top 10 along with hitting #1 at AC. The hit would help make DeBarge's album of the same name their third gold certified in a row.

ReduxReview:  This song kind of followed in the footsteps of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" with its Caribbean feel. This really was irresistible pop candy. It was a nice change of pace for the family group as well. They were starting to get tagged as smooth R&B ballad makers and for a young group, that wasn't necessarily good. This upbeat hit did a great job in expanding their sound. It's still one of those songs that when it starts, it just makes people smile and wanna dance.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Songwriter Diane Warren had been making strides in her career to this point. In addition to writing songs for Stevie Woods, Patti Austin, and one for Barbra Streisand, she had some success on the Pop chart when she wrote the English lyrics to Laura Branigan's 1983 hit "Solitaire" (#7). More work with Branigan would follow, but it was this DeBarge song that she wrote on her own that really set her career in motion. By the mid-80s she was churning out hits for artists like Cher, Heart, Chicago, Michael Bolton, Patti LaBelle, Taylor Dayne, Milli Vanilli, and many others. She's been nominated for fourteen Grammys (winning one) and eight Oscars (no wins yet). She's considered a superstar in the world of pop songwriting and it all pretty much began with this DeBarge hit.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Lucky" by Greg Kihn

Song#:  2221
Date:  02/16/1985
Debut:  72
Peak:  30
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  Kihn's ninth studio album, 1984's Kihntagious, did not come close to meeting expectations. It disappeared quickly after its two singles failed to reach the Pop chart (however, "Reunited" got to #9 at Rock). He needed to reverse the downward trend and came up with his next punned "Kihn" titled album, Citizen Kihn. This first single got things started and it did do better than the singles from his previous effort. It cracked the Pop Top 30 and got to #24 at Rock. Oddly, it did best on the Dance chart getting to #16. While it wasn't a major hit, the song did well enough to push the album to #51, which was a big improvement over the #121 peak of Kihntagious. The song seemed to signal that Kihn was back, but unfortunately it would end up being is last to reach the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  I think this track is an overlooked gem from the time. It sounds similar to some of the blue-eyed soul acts that were coming out of the UK at the time. It's a sleek jam that hooks you in with its groovy bass line and chorus. It's a shame it didn't do better on the charts. I'd definitely list this as one of his best songs. The track showed that Kihn had some gas left in the tank, but unfortunately he was running on fumes.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The failure of the Kihntagious album not only affected Kihn, but also his long-time label, Beserkley. Founded and run by Matthew King Kaufman, Beserkley signed Kihn in 1976 and released all of Kihn's albums through to Kihntagious. Kaufman served as producer on all of them as well. However, by the 80s, Kihn was the only act signed to the Beserkley and when Kihntagious tanked, it hit the label hard. In the aftermath, Kaufman decided to dissolve Beserkley and let Kihn get signed to a major label that could support him. Kihn signed on with EMI America. Kaufman would remain with Kihn in the producer role. Also with the new label came a name change. The "Band" was dropped and Citizen Kihn was solely credited to Greg Kihn. It was his first album since 1978 to be billed as such.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Kiss and Tell" by Isley Japser Isley

Song#:  2220
Date:  02/16/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  63
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  The original trio known as The Isley Brothers had some good success in the 60s, particularly their 1969 #2 Pop/#1 R&B track "It's Your Thing." But it wasn't until 1973 when the trio of brothers added their other two siblings, Ernie and Marvin, and their brother-in-law Chris Jasper to the line up that the gold and platinum albums began. For a solid decade, the family group amassed ten gold, platinum, or multi-platinum albums along with sixteen R&B Top 10 hits, including five #1's. But early in '84 the group was having some financial and career disagreements and Ernie, Marvin, and Chris decided to break out on their own away from the original three Isley Brothers. They stayed on CBS Records and formed Isley Jasper Isley. They recorded their first album, titled Broadway's Closer to Sunset Boulevard, and the lead-off single "Look the Other Way" did well at R&B reaching #14. This follow-up single didn't do as well, but it did break through on three charts. It got to #46 Dance, #52 R&B, and #63 Pop.

ReduxReview:  This synth-based workout nearly butts up against the soft rock sounds of Michael McDonald thanks to a background vocal that certainly comes close to mimicking the former Doobie Brother. The song certainly sounds dated now, but the production on this tune was pretty slick. The style was a bit more modern than the old school R&B they were doing with the other three Isley brothers and it helped get them established on their own. It's not a real strong song, but it's a pretty good listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Even though the group was highly successful, apparently the three elder Isley Brothers encountered significant financial issues in the early 80s. Because of that, they wanted to file for bankruptcy. They also wanted to get out of their contract with CBS. However, the three younger members didn't have any money problems and were happy at CBS. With the two factions at a crossroads, it was decided that the group would split. This gave the younger three the opportunity to form Isley Jasper Isley. Unfortunately, the original three Isleys decided to sue the other three along with CBS to block the release of their debut album. Their attempt failed and the young trio set out on their new career. But like a lot of other families, they ironed things out and later in the 90s, Ernie and Marvin would join their older brother Ronald for a trio version of The Isley Brothers.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"Let's Talk About Me" by Alan Parsons Project

Song#:  2219
Date:  02/16/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  56
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The Project's Ammonia Avenue became their sixth studio LP in a row to reach at least gold-level sales. That was thanks in part to the #15 Pop hit "Don't Answer Me." Less than a year after that album's release, the Project issued their follow-up, Vulture Culture. This song was the lead-off single and it did well at Rock radio reaching #10 on that chart. At Pop it didn't quite catch on and the single missed getting into the top half of the chart. With the song failing to grab a wider audience, the album struggled and ended up peaking at #46. It was their lowest charting studio LP to-date and it failed to go gold, which broke their long-standing streak of certified sellers.

ReduxReview:  I remember back when this song came out folks were saying that it sounded like a Supertramp song. I can certainly hear that, especially on the initial verse. The keyboards and punctuated band sounds did seem like something out of the Supertramp playbook, and I could hear Roger Hodgeson's voice sounding quite at home on this track. The comparison never bothered me. I've always liked the song. I just don't think it was the best choice for a single. Their track record of charting singles heavily leaned towards ones sung by Eric Woolfson, so why they didn't go with the "Eye in the Sky"-esqe "Sooner or Later" is beyond me. It seemed to me like the most obvious choice. I can only assume they were trying to break out of that mold, but it didn't quite work out. This is a good song, but perhaps not the most Pop friendly single candidate.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Originally, Ammonia Avenue was slated to be a double-album. Instead, the project was broken into two individual albums and the secondary tracks that became Vulture Culture were spruced up for released as a stand-alone LP.  2) This song contains voice-over sections that were provided by DJ and media executive Lee Abrams. Abrams has been credited with creating the AOR format (album-oriented rock) in the 70s. Later on, he was one of the co-founders of XM Satellite Radio, which later merged with Sirius.  3) The vocal on this track was provided by bassist David Paton. Paton had performed bass and sang background and lead vocals on other Project albums, but this was his first APP lead vocal song that became a single. Paton first encountered Alan Parsons back in the early 70s when Parsons produced the debut LP from the Scottish band Pilot, which Paton had co-founded. Paton co-wrote and sang the band's most well-known hit, 1974's "Magic," which reached #5 on the Pop chart.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, November 10, 2017

"Bongo Bongo" by Steve Miller Band

Song#:  2218
Date:  02/16/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  84
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Miller's thirteenth album, Italian X Rays, was not shaping up to be a hit like its platinum predecessor, Abracadabra. The LP's first single, "Shangri-La," stalled at #57 and even failed to make the Rock chart. This second single did even worse and could only hang on the Pop chart for a very minor few weeks. Without a solid single to promote the album, it barely charted and disappeared quickly. The results were quite devastating and Miller's career certainly took a significant blow. He would never be able to recapture the chart magic of his prior hits.

ReduxReview:  <looking down shaking head> I dunno what to say. Apparently Miller's label sent him off with money and a mission to dink around with new technology, which is fine, but effects and studio trickery are meaningless when there isn't a good song behind them. A chunk of the album consisted of throw away tunes and adding bleeps and bloops and sampled sounds did not make them any better. "Shangri-La" was bad enough and it didn't do well as a single, so why someone thought this song would do any better is beyond me. This sounds like something Oingo Boingo could fart out on demand. It's like someone got a new toy and is just dinkin' around with it while imbibing on some vice. I just don't get it. I can understand how some folks might find this fun, but it is not my thing at all.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  The album contains two songs co-written by Miller and Tim Davis. Davis was a co-founder of the Steve Miller Band and stayed on with them for five albums before leaving to work on other projects. This was before the band hit it big in 1973 with the #1 song "The Joker." Despite Davis' departure from the band, he and Miller maintained a friendship over the years. Later on, Davis began to suffer from the effects of diabetes. The disease took a toll on his body and career, yet he managed to collaborate on a couple of songs with Miller. These would represent their last collaborations as Davis would die a few years later in 1988.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"New Attitude" by Patti LaBelle

Song#:  2217
Date:  02/16/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  17
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Synthpop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  LaBelle had some difficulty finding her footing on the charts following her departure from the trio that bore her name, LaBelle. She hadn't scored a major hit at R&B since her solo career began in '77 and she remained off the Pop chart completely. Things began to turn around a bit in '83 when she scored her first solo R&B #1 with "If Only You Knew." The song finally got her on the Pop chart as well (#43). Two more R&B Top 10's followed before she was offered to record two songs for the soundtrack to the upcoming film Beverly Hills Cop. The movie was a big success and the soundtrack was catching on as well with two songs from it already going Top 10. This LaBelle contribution would be the third single issued from the album and it became a #1 Dance hit while reaching #3 at R&B. The tune also caught on at Pop and it became her first Top 40 solo hit getting to #17.

ReduxReview:  This is a good synthpop ditty, but when it really comes down to it, Miss Patti makes this record work. If anyone else had sung this song, it would have probably been a fun, but forgettable, hi-nrg track relegated to some club play and soon forgotten. Or perhaps someone like The Pointer Sisters might have gotten a minor hit out of it. However, LaBelle just crushed the vocals on it and truly made you want to get a new attitude. It's like she sold this song with every fiber of her being and folks certainly bought it. Over the years it has been used in commercials and TV shows and has become a bit of an empowerment anthem as well. LaBelle's new attitude certainly broke her through to a Pop audience and she became a certified solo star.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song would later be nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Song. Although it did not win, the writers of the tune, Sharon Robinson, Jon Gilutin, and Bunny Hull, did grab a Grammy for this contribution to the soundtrack, which won for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Although Robinson wrote songs for other artists, she mostly became known for her collaborations with Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen. Initially, she served as a backup singer on some of his tours, but then the pair began to write songs together including one of Cohen's more famous tracks, 1988's "Everybody Knows." Later in 2001, Robinson would co-write and produce Cohen's album Ten New Songs. The well-received album would reach #4 on the Canadian chart.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Material Girl" by Madonna

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2216
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  43
Peak:  2
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance



Pop Bits:  The title track to Madonna's second album, Like a Virgin, established her as a star. The song spent six weeks at #1 and became a gold-selling record. If that song made her a star, then this follow-up tune put her on the road to becoming an 80s (and beyond) icon. The bouncy track nearly debuted within the Top 40 and proceeded to head towards the Top 10. It was denied the top spot, but its #2 showing gave Madonna her fourth Top 10 in a row. The video, in which Madonna mimics Marilyn Monroe's dance segment in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, became very popular and remained in heavy rotation on MTV for quite a while. The album would be blocked out of the #1 spot for a long time due to a couple of massive hits (the Purple Rain soundtrack and Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A), but it would finally reach the top for three weeks in February while this song was making its way to the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  This song certainly set off a lot of conversations. People had discussions about what Madonna meant by this song, what it meant for women, it's social impact/message, etc. It was as if Madonna had some big message loaded into the song and everyone had their interpretations. In reality, Madonna had hear the demo and thought the song was fun. According to her, she is not materialistic at all and even in the video, her character ends up ditching the glam in favor of regular clothes, a cool boyfriend, and a crummy car. But the image she projected in the video and the song's lyrics really got pinned to her like a scarlet letter. It may not have been her intent for this to happen, but it was hard to deny that combined with "Like a Virgin," the two songs certainly made Madonna the most talked about artist in music at the time. Of course I liked this song when it came out. It has that same awesome production style as "Virgin," courtesy of Nile Rodgers, and it was just pure juicy bubble pop. I actually don't think the song has aged that well, but it's still a fun listen.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Quad Shot!  1) This song was written by Peter Brown and Robert Rans. Brown had been a recording star himself a few years earlier. In 1977, his disco song "Do You Wanna Get Funky with Me" reached #3 at R&B, #18 Pop and #9 Dance. His follow-up song, 1978's "Dance with Me," did even better reaching #5 R&B, #8 Pop, and #4 Dance. He continued to have a few minor chart entries after the pair of hits, but by the end of '85 his own solo career came to an end. Oddly, his last charting song, 1985's "Zie Zie Won't Dance" (#20 Dance)," was nominated for an MTV Music Video Award for Best Art Direction. Also nominated in that category was Madonna's "Like a Virgin" video. They were both beat out by Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer" video.  2) This song unexpectedly gave Madonna the nickname of the Material Girl. Many years later, Madonna expressed her regret at recording the song because of the moniker she gained from it.  3) Actor/singer Keith Carradine portrayed the director part in this song's video. Although more known for his numerous acting roles on TV, in film and on Broadway, Carradine had a very brief music career in the 70s. While starring in Robert Altman's Nashville, Carradine wrote and performed the song "I'm Easy" in the film. The song became popular and reached #17 in 1976. The song would earn him an Oscar for Best Original Song. A couple of albums would follow, but nothing came of them and he returned to acting full-time.  4) Madonna met her future husband Sean Penn on the set of the video for his song. Apparently, Penn's former assistant was working on the shoot and Penn dropped by to discuss a project with her and then asked to meet Madonna.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, November 6, 2017

"Just Another Night" by Mick Jagger

Song#:  2215
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  45
Peak:  12
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  It took a while, but after more than twenty years fronting The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger decided it was time to do something on his own. He had it in mind when the band's new contract with CBS in 1983 gave clearance to each member to do other projects. He began to write tunes and by the end of '84 he had recorded his first solo album, She's the Boss. This first single was issued ahead of the album and it became a hit at Rock reaching #1 on that chart. With a high debut on the Pop chart, it seemed the song was destined to reach the Top 10, but it ended up stalling just short of that mark. The album also missed out on the Top 10 peaking at #13. Still, thanks to this hit the album sold well enough to go platinum. It wasn't a Stones-size multi-platinum hit, but it did prove that Jagger had the ability to work on his own without the band.

ReduxReview:  Jagger actually doesn't stray too far from his Stones roots with this one. With its opening guitar lick, jammin' rock beat, and experimental production, it nearly sounds like an outtake from Undercover. However, I always thought there was some odd lag time in the song. It starts out well, but about midway through there are sections that are almost like vamps - like he didn't know how to connect the sections of the song. It certainly could have used some tightening up. I liked the song, but I didn't hear anything here that made me interested in Jagger as a solo artist. I think others might have felt the same as both the single and album fell short of expectations.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song ended up being the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit. Reggae artist Patrick Alley had written and recorded a ballad titled "Just Another Night" in 1979. It was latter issued on record in 1983. Alley contended that Jagger had heard the song on the radio or had been introduced to the song via bassist Sly Dunbar, who had apparently played on both recordings, and that Jagger copped a portion of the song. Jagger denied the charges and took the case to court. In the end, a jury sided with Jagger. They seemed to think that besides the title, the songs had little in common and that Alley failed to prove that Jagger had heard or had access to his song.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, November 5, 2017

"One More Night" by Phil Collins

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2214
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  50
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Collins was certainly on a roll. He had released two multi-platinum albums, got his first solo #1 hit ("Against All Odds"), and was on the verge of winning his first Grammy. With his third album, No Jacket Required, set to go, this introductory single was released and it debuted on the chart just as his hit duet with Philip Bailey, "Easy Lover," was peaking at #2. The plaintive ballad quickly found fans and the single easily found its way to the #1 spot at both Pop and AC. Even Rock radio couldn't resist the tune and it topped out at #4. The album would reach its peak of popularity later in the late spring/early summer and would spend seven (non-consecutive) weeks atop the chart. It would be Collins' most successful album in the US selling over 12 million copies and winning the Grammy for Album of the Year.

ReduxReview:  I have to admit that this is not among my favorite Collins songs. The low-key ballad was certainly an easy listen, but it didn't really grab my attention. It sounds like a pretty tune that should be the closing track on an album, not become a lead-off single. I never understood it's appeal and why it was chosen as the first single. I was a fan of Collins, but I didn't rush out to buy this record. I waited and bought the album hoping for better tunes (which there was). The best part of it for me is the final sax solo (see below). That's about the only part of the song that does it for me. While I don't dislike the song, I don't love it either. Luckily for Collins many people loved it and it became his second #1 hit.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Collins would often find inspiration for songs when just improvising. In the case of this tune, Collins was tinkering with a drum machine and before long he began to sing a melody with the words "one more night." What he had seemed great for a chorus and he quickly turned the improv into an actual song.  2) Many folks are quick to recognize the sax solo that happens at the end of the song. That solo came courtesy of Don Myrick, who had been a member of Earth, Wind & Fire's horn section that became known as The Phenix Horns. Collins had used The Phenix Horns on his previous solo albums, so when he needed a sax solo for this song he turned to Myrick. Myrick was unfortunately killed in 1993.  Police officers went to Myrick's home with a search warrant that was part of a narcotics investigation. As the cops began to surround the house, an officer knocked on Myrick's front door. Myrick opened the door and was fatally shot when the officer thought that Myrick was holding a gun. He wasn't. He just had a lighter in his hand. Myrick's family later settled a wrongful death case with the Santa Monica police department for $400,000. Myrick was 53 years old.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Take Me with U" by Prince & the Revolution

Song#:  2213
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  61
Peak:  25
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The soundtrack to Purple Rain had already generated four Top 10 hits including two #1's and was still sitting atop the album chart finishing up its 24-week run at #1 when this fifth single was released. Although mainly credited to Prince & the Revolution, it was actually a duet between Prince and the film's co-star Apollonia. The song couldn't quite grab the same audience as the previous singles and it stalled short of the Pop Top 20. It could only get to a low #40 R&B as well. This would bring an end to the singles from Purple Rain, but before the summer of '85 would arrive, Prince would already be back on the chart with new material.

ReduxReview:  Thankfully, Prince had the foresight and brains to pull this for the movie (see below). Otherwise, this song probably would have been lost with the sinking Apollonia 6 ship. The song was a terrific add to the movie and it was a good single as well. I'm just guessing it didn't become another Top 10'er because radio was still saturated with Prince songs and the soundtrack was beginning to wane in popularity. Plus, it had to have been known that Prince already had an album in the can by this point and folks were anxious for new material. Regardless, this song is yet another winner from the album, despite Apollonia's anemic vocals.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written and recorded for inclusion on the debut album from Apollonia 6. However, at the last minute Prince pulled the song from that project and pushed it over to Purple Rain. Due to time restrictions, the version on the soundtrack is about a minute shorter than the one intended for the Apollonia 6 LP. It's been said that Apollonia's voice was a bit weak and she had difficulty doing the vocals for this song. Apparently Revolution member Lisa Coleman then sang beneath Apollonia's vocal track to help boost her vocal. Whether or not that is true is up for debate, but Prince pretty much left Apollonia behind when the film ended and the contracted Apollonia 6 album was completed.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, November 3, 2017

"Holyanna" by Toto

Song#:  2212
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  78
Peak:  71
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Toto's follow-up to their multi-Grammy winning album Toto IV was not doing all that well. Isolation got off to a bit of a shaky start when its first single, "Stranger in Town," failed to get near the Pop Top 10 (#30). While it was able to reach #7 at Rock, the results were not encouraging. Hoping to turn things around, the band issued this second single. Unfortunately, it did even worse and only managed a short stay near the bottom of the Pop chart. A third single, "How Does It Feel," was released, but it couldn't even chart. With little to promote the album, Isolation peaked at a very low #42 and could only muster gold-level sales. Coming off of a triple-platinum hit album, the results were highly disappointing.

ReduxReview:  Although I had hoped "Stranger in Town" would catch on, I thought the album was gonna tank after hearing it. The material just wasn't there and for the most part their slick soft rock was gone as well. This second single probably came closest to replicating their sound, but it still wasn't nearly as good as their previous hits. It kind of has a Supertramp feel to it with a little Chicago thrown in, which I like. However, that wasn't really enough to make me wanna keep replaying the tune. Plus, I weirdly think the title was a deterrent. It seems like it should be pronounced like two names - Holly and Anna. But it is Holy, like in something religious, which ties into the lyrics about Catholic school girls. Get it? I think they would have been better off with a different name and not worry about the religious tie-in. Regardless, it's an okay song that wasn't going to bring the band back to the Top 10.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After singer Bobby Kimball was released from Toto, they hired on Fergie Frederiksen to take his place. Frederiksen would sing lead vocals on the majority of tracks on Isolation (minus the two charting singles from the album, including this one). Known for being in rock bands, Frederiksen actually had a brush with disco music at the turn of the decade. Just as disco music was beginning to crash, a musical/comedy film based on the group The Village People was filmed. Titled Can't Stop the Music, the film was a very loose interpretation of how The Village People formed. It was a notorious box office bomb that was directed by Nancy Walker (of Rhoda fame). The musical featured several songs from The Village People, two from the disco act The Ritchie Family, and two from an artist named David London. London was actually Fergie Frederiksen. Although he didn't appear in the film, he somehow got work doing the vocals on the tracks "Samantha" and "The Sound of the City." The former song was issued as a single, but it didn't get anywhere. Yet somehow, the songs helped Frederiksen secure a record deal with the Scandinavian label Arrival and he recorded a self-titled album in 1981 under the David London name. After that adventure, he went back to his own name and worked with a few bands until landing the gig with Toto. Unfortunately, after the Isolation album and tour, the rest of the band decided that Frederiksen was not the right fit for them and dismissed him.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, November 2, 2017

"Second Nature" by Dan Hartman

Song#:  2211
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  39
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyes Soul



Pop Bits:  Hartman's second single from his I Can Dream About You album, "We Are the Young," became a #1 Dance hit while getting to #25 at Pop. A third single, "Name of the Game," wasn't connecting and failed to break through, so this fourth single was quickly pushed out. It was able to reach #14 at AC and #40 Dance while just getting inside the Pop Top 40. Unfortunately, it would end up being Hartman's final single to reach the charts. He would continue to write and produce for other artists, which included James Brown's 1985 #4 hit "Living in America." Hartman would die of a brain tumor in 1994.

ReduxReview:  This song is kind of in the same league as Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" except not quite as fluffy and fun. Had this song been released before that one, there's a chance it might have done a little better, but it still wouldn't have been a Top 10 contender. It's another solid entry in Hartman's catalog and it's too bad his follow-up work didn't see the light of day (see below). Hartman and his co-writer Charlie Midnight knew how to write good songs, so it would have been interesting to hear more from them.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Hartman's label, MCA, was certainly pleased with the results from the album and were most likely anxious to get a new one out soon. Hartman went back to work in the studio and began recording his follow up. Titled White Boy, Hartman wanted to do something a bit edgier, complex, and more mature. When completed, he handed it in to the label. The folks there were less than pleased with the results. They wanted more "I Can Dream About You'' style hits and that is not what they got. Although the label recognized that the songs were actually quite good, they didn't think the songs suited the image Hartman had already established with his hits. Therefore, with the label not behind the album, it ended up getting shelved and still remains unreleased. However, one song from the album, "Waiting to See You," did find its way onto the soundtrack to the 1986 comedy Ruthless People. Another song from the album, "I'm Only Fooling Myself," was picked up and recorded by singer Paul Young. It was included on Young's 1991 hits compilation From Time to Time.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"One Foot Back in Your Door" by Roman Holliday

Song#:  2210
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  76
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  This British band began to catch on thanks to their fun swing and rockabilly tunes. Their second single, "Don't Try to Stop It," became a #14 hit in the UK and was able to reach the US Pop chart at #68. Coupled with their first single, "Stand By," that got to #54 in the US, they seemed on the brink of breaking through in a bigger way. However, for their second album, the band decided to break away from the retro sounds that got them noticed and went in a more modern pop direction. Things got started with this first single that appeared on both the soundtrack to the film Teachers and their second LP Fire Me Up. The change wasn't greeted well and the song couldn't make its way out of the bottom quarter of the chart. It would end up being the band's final Pop chart single. The results didn't impress their label (Jive/Arista) and their contract ended. The band split soon after.

ReduxReview:  The abrupt change in sound was quite jarring and it turned an interesting band into a run-o-tha-mill pop group. I can only speculate as to why they made the change, but I'm guessing their label thought the retro shtick had limited appeal and pushed the band to become more in-line with current pop sounds. It just didn't work. It's like the soul was cut out of the group. When the thing that made you popular is gone, you better have something even better to retain/gain an audience. Unfortunately, they didn't and the results were not good. It's too bad, but at least they had a couple of years in the spotlight. This song just doesn't fit them. Even if it was another group I wouldn't be all that impressed. It's almost like it wants to be arena rock, yet it's trapped in a synthpop bubble. I'm sure that had to do with its writer/producer (see below). In the end it just sounds like an artist trying too hard to be something they are not.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  So, does a certain portion of this song remind you of another tune that ended up hitting #1? Listen to the pre-chorus of "One Foot." It's the section where the vocalist sings "non-stop miracle I'm your man." Sound familiar? It should if you know Billy Ocean's hit "Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car." That pre-chorus section in "One Foot" was reused for the Billy Ocean song right before the chorus as well. So how is this not a plagiarism issue? It's because the songs share a writer. Popular producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange (Def Leppard, Shania Twain) wrote and produced "One Foot" for Roman Holliday. Then three years later, he recycled a snippet of the song when co-writing and producing "Get Outta My Car" with Billy Ocean. Both songs have a similar feel as well. I guess if it didn't work the first time, then try it somewhere else! In this case it worked out well.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Radioactive" by The Firm

Song#:  2209
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  28
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock, Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  This British band was considered a supergroup due to the participation of four highly successful musicians: Paul Rodgers (Free/Bad Company), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Chris Slade (Manfred Mann), and Tony Franklin. With their sound leaning towards a more radio-friendly blues-rock sound, the band recorded their self-titled debut album. This song was chosen as the first single and it was an immediate hit at Rock reaching the #1 spot. With that result and the video for the song doing well on MTV, the single made the Pop chart and peaked just inside the Top 30. It helped sell the album, which went to #17 and was a gold seller.

ReduxReview:  I usually always dig a fretless bass (see below) and weird guitar lines and this song had them both. Although I didn't think this was a fantastic song, I did like the tune and felt it was a bit Led Zeppelin-esque with a twist of modern flare. I remember seeing an interview with Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page when this album was coming out. A young, fresh-faced reporter (I think it was on MTV) asked them something like - "so is your song "Radioactive" a commentary on how rock and other styles of music are not getting played on mainstream radio stations which then leads to no action on the pop charts?" I completely remember both guys just giving the interviewer a weird look and I think it might have been Rodgers who then replied "Um, no man. I mean, it's just a song." It cracked me up. It was like asking Madonna if "Borderline" was about crossing war torn borders in the Middle East. I bet that reporter learned quickly about not reading too much into song lyrics...

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although Tony Franklin was the only one in the band that had not been a member of previously successful band, he had definitely made a name for himself working with popular British folk-rock musician Roy Harper and becoming proficient playing the fretless bass. It was his work on the fretless bass that helped to define The Firm's sound. A fretless bass (or even a guitar) is just what it says - the instrument has no frets, which are the metal bars seen up and down the neck of a bass or guitar. In addition to being guides for getting the correct notes, chords, and intonation, the sound made when a string is pressed down between the frets is different from when a string is pressed down with no frets on the neck. Franklin became known for his work on the fretless bass and his expertise and fame led to Fender creating and selling the Tony Franklin Fretless Precision Bass beginning in 2006. A fretted version was also issued in 2008.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, October 30, 2017

"If I Had a Rocket Launcher" by Bruce Cockburn

Song#:  2208
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  88
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The last time Cockburn was on the US Pop chart was back in 1980 when his biggest hit, "Wondering Where the Lions Are," made it to #21. After that, he released three albums including what is considered by many his finest work, Humans. However, none of the albums produced any charting singles in the US. In 1984, he released another critically acclaimed LP titled Stealing Fire. The first single from that album, "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," did well in his homeland of Canada making it to #8 on the AC chart there (and #24 Pop). The song couldn't get anywhere in the US, however this third single from the album garnered enough support to reach the US Pop chart for a minor few weeks (#49 Canada Pop). It would be Cockburn's final single to reach the US Pop chart. He would continue to record and get singles on the Canadian chart throughout the 80's and 90's including 1989's #8 "If a Tree Falls," which would make it to #20 on the US Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  I like the production on this song. That opening is pretty cool and it sounds like something Peter Gabriel might have done. Of course the political aspect of the song may have turned off some folks, but I do like how Cockburn's passion shows through and that the lyrics don't really mince words. It's a pretty dark tune for Pop radio and I'm even surprised it got on the chart. It showed up very briefly, but I'm glad it at least made a little dent. It deserved (and still deserves) to be heard.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) As the 80s went on, Cockburn's albums began to get more political in nature, but after a trip to Central America his experiences and viewpoints flowed directly into Stealing Fire. It culminated in this angry, political song that was inspired by his trip to a Guatemalan refugee camp in Mexico. The last line in the final verse stated "if I had a rocket launcher, some son-of-a-bitch would die." That line was just a bit much for some radio stations and an edited version of the song that faded out before that last denouncement was circulated.  2) The other song from the album that charted in Canada, "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," was covered by the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies in 1991. They recorded it for a Cockburn tribute album. The song was eventually released as a single and it became the band's first charting hit in Canada reaching #16.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"Save a Prayer" by Duran Duran

Song#:  2207
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  53
Peak:  16
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  Duran Duran's live album Arena would be their best charting effort in the US. It reached #4 thanks to the inclusion of a new studio track, "The Wild Boys," which was issued as a single and peaked at #2. Although no other singles would be issued from the album, to help keep the band on the charts it was decided that a new remix of their 1982 song "Save a Prayer" would be issued as a single in the US. The b-side would contain a shortened edit of the live version of the song that appeared on Arena. The ballad did fine reaching the Pop Top 20, but it broke their string of five consecutive Top 10's.

ReduxReview:  This ballad showed a different side of Duran Duran and probably should have been released earlier during the run of Rio. I think if it had been a third single from the album, it might have done better than this delayed remix. By this point, Rio had been done for quite a while and many folks were already quite familiar with the song due to its original video getting a lot of airplay back then even though a single was not going to be issued. That familiarity wasn't going to do this single any favors and indeed even at the height of Duran mania, the song failed to crack the Top 10.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was originally a track on the band's 1982 album Rio. It was initially released as the album's third single in the UK and other countries, but it was not issued in the US. This was most likely because Duran Duran hit the US over six months after they became stars in the UK. With new product from the band arriving in short order, there was only time for two singles from Rio to be issued in the US. By late '83, the US was caught up and got product from the band in the same time frame as the UK and other countries. The initial UK release of "Save a Prayer" was a big hit reaching #2 on the chart. The US remix version was not released there.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Somebody" by Bryan Adams

Song#:  2206
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  59
Peak:  11
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Adams' first single from his fourth album Reckless, "Run to You," became his second Pop Top 10 hit and his first #1 at Rock. To follow it up, this rockin' track was chosen. It was a smart choice for Rock radio as the song took off and became his second #1 on that chart. The single also did well at Pop, but it stopped just shy of the Top 10 and peaked at the dreaded #11 spot. Adams may have been denied a third Top 10 hit, but his next two singles would certainly make up for it.

ReduxReview:  This tune was totally arena ready with its sing-a-long chorus. It was a solid anthem, but for me it just wasn't as good as the dark, rockin' "Run to You." It didn't deter me from buying the album, but I thought there were tracks on the disc that would be better singles - and indeed there would be. However, this did it's job at Rock radio and kept Adams' star rising.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song later became part of a high-profile music industry lawsuit. As the internet became more accessible and file sharing came along, music labels were trying to fight against illegal download sites and the sharing of copyright protected material. By 2003, they were done messing around and decided to make an example of individuals who were apparently file sharing. In 2006, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four from Minnesota who had apparently posted music files for free sharing via the site Kazaa, was one of those individuals. Although it was said that she had posted over 1,700 files, Capitol Records just focused on 24 of their catalog songs and sent a cease and desist notice. They also offered Thomas-Rasset a settlement of $5000 to resolve the issue. She said no to the settlement and Capitol proceeded to sue her in court. She ended up losing the case. From 2007-2013, the case was tried, appealed, and revisited several times. Each time, Thomas-Rasset failed to defend her position and the amount of settlement to Capitol varied at different points from a low of $54,000 to a high of $1.9 million. In the end after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, the final payment to Capitol was set at the amount granted at the very first trial, which was $220,000. Thousands of other similar lawsuits would follow. Most people would simple settle, but Thomas-Rasset was one of two people who fought it in the courts. Joel Tenenbaum was the other in 2003. Both would be on the losing end. In Thomas-Rasset's case, this Bryan Adams song was one of the 24 that were part of Capitol's lawsuit.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, October 27, 2017

"This Is Not America" by David Bowie/Pat Metheny Group

Song#:  2205
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  32
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Jazz musician Pat Metheny and his band, which featured his frequent collaborator pianist Lyle Mays, were already two-time Grammy winners when an offer came in for them to do the score for the upcoming film The Falcon and the Snowman. Metheny and Mays composed the score, but it seems that a more pop-oriented song was wanted to help promote the film and soundtrack. The pair had come up with a theme for one part of the film and decided to expand upon it to make the tune more mainstream. They needed a collaborator to help finish the song and somewhere along the way David Bowie was suggested, most likely due to the artists being on the same label. Bowie agreed to work with Metheny and wrote a set of lyrics. The pair then produced the final version with Bowie supplying the vocals. The single was issued ahead of the film and it did well at Rock getting to #7. It was also able to crack the Pop Top 40. It did better in the UK reaching #14. It would be Metheny's only song to hit the Pop chart. The movie, which starred Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton, was well-received critically and did respectable at the box office.

ReduxReview:  This dark and atmospheric song was perfect for Bowie. Metheny and Mays reeled in their jazz/improv tendencies and created a solid structure that could hold Bowie's lyrics and voice. The resulting recording was terrific and better than most of the tracks on Bowie's recent album Tonight. Rock embraced the tune and it made the Top 10 there, but the song may have been a bit too dark and serious for Pop to really catch on. However, the Top 40 showing was positive and it has become an essential part of Bowie's 80s catalog.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Pat Metheny began his recording career with a solo effort in 1976 titled Bright Size Life. He formed his group two years later and several popular jazz albums would follow. His brand of progressive jazz/jazz fusion mixed with ambient and new age sounds attracted a big audience and his albums would frequently do well on the Pop chart. The Grammy folks took notice and began rewarding Metheny in 1983 with the Group's first win in the Best Jazz Fusion Performance category for their album Offramp. Over the years, the Group would win 11 Grammys. Metheny himself would take home another 9. Metheny is the only artist to have won Grammys in 10 different categories. He has also won a Grammy in every decade since the 1980's. The height of his popularity came in the late 80s/early 90s when three of his albums would become gold records.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, October 26, 2017

"The Word Is Out" by Jermaine Stewart

Song#:  2204
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  41
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  When Stewart was performing as a dancer backing the R&B trio Shalamar, he had a chance meeting with Culture Club's bassist Mickey Craig after a London show. The meeting led to Stewart providing backing vocals on Culture Club's "Miss Me Blind" and Craig helping Stewart assemble a solo demo tape. The demo and connection to Culture Club helped Stewart get signed to Arista Records. Stewart then set out to record his debut LP, The Word Is Out. The title-track would be selected as the first single. Although it wasn't a major hit, it did well getting to #4 Dance, #17 R&B and peaking at the dreaded #41 at Pop. Follow-up singles failed to do anything, but the results seemed good enough for Arista to keep Stewart on the label for a second LP.

ReduxReview:  This is a pretty good debut single and grooves along just fine. I'm just not sure the chorus part is quite as hooky as it should be. The title is mentioned, but then there are other vocals saying a bunch a words that are a bit difficult to hear/understand. It's a bit confusing. It needed to be a bit more forceful and apparent so that folks could sing along. Not bad for a first effort though.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Mickey Craig co-wrote this song with Stewart along with two other tracks for the album.  2) Stewart became a dancer on the local Chicago version of the show Soul Train in the early 70s. After that show closed up, he moved out to L.A. and ended up being a featured dancer on the national syndicated version of the show. That is where he met and became good friends with two other dancers, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel. When Soul Train's Don Cornelius was assembling a new R&B trio act, all three tried out. In the end, Watley and Daniel made the cut, but Stewart just missed out on the third spot. However, his skills as a dancer and friendship with the other two artists helped to secure a backing position on their tours, which led to Stewart meeting Mickey Craig.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Baby Come Back to Me (The Morse Code of Love)" by The Manhattan Transfer

Song#:  2203
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  83
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Doo Wop



Pop Bits:  After a couple of albums that flirted with contemporary pop and R&B sounds, this vocal quartet decided to retreat back to their early pop/standards sound and culled an album of recent live performances with a few leftover studio tracks added in. They titled the collection Bop Doo-Wopp and this studio track was chosen to be the first single. The retro sounding song hit the right notes at AC and it got to #14 on that chart. However, Pop was less enthused and the single only managed a few short weeks on the chart. It would end up being the group's final Pop chart single. Although their Pop days would end, their next album would be one of the most successful of their career. Vocalese was a very well received project where lyrics (by Jon Hendricks) were specifically written for what was originally instrumental jazz songs. Both the lyrics and performances were meant to mimic the instruments that played the original melody and solo lines. The album was a big critical success that got to #2 on the Jazz chart and #74 Pop. The album received twelve Grammy nomination, which at the time was the second biggest total ever for an album behind Michael Jackson's Thriller. It would end up winning three awards including Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  I remember that the Bop Doo-Wopp album had a cool cover, but that was about the best part of it. The album was pretty lackluster and was really just a stop-gap product. This song was a minor highlight, but it couldn't compare with some of the top material from their previous albums. I'm not the biggest fan of doo wop, so I wasn't all that into it. I adored the Transfer at the time and this LP was a big disappointment. However, they definitely made up for it with Vocalese, which was just brilliant.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Transfer dedicated this song to the doo wop vocal group The Capris. Headed up by lead singer Nick Santamaria, the group recorded a single in 1959 that featured the song "There's a Moon Out Tonight." The single sank as did the hopes of The Carpis and they broke up. A year or so went by before a DJ found the record and began to spin it. The song started to catch on and before long it was shaping up to be a hit. The Capris got back together and by the spring of '61, the single had reached #3. With a hit to their name, the group began recording follow-up singles. Unfortunately, none of them could scale the chart as well and by 1965 they parted ways again. Santamaria became an NYPD officer, but along the way kept dabbling in music and writing songs. As the 80s began, Santamaria and a couple of members of the old Capris reformed the group. They recorded an album titled There's a Moon Out Tonight in 1982 and one of the tracks on the album was a song written by Santamaria called "The Morse Code of Love." It's genuine sound made people think it was a lost doo wop gem and it became popular with fans of the genre. Two years later, Manhattan Transfer picked up the tune, changed the title, and reached the Pop and AC charts with it.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"When the Rain Begins to Fall" by Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora

Song#:  2202
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  54
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Synthpop, Europop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Actress/singer Zadora's 1983 film The Lonely Lady was a heavily panned box office dud, but on the bright side her music career got a boost when her single "The Clapping Song" reached the Top 40. For her next venture, she decided to combine acting and singing via the campy b-movie spoof Voyage of the Rock Aliens. The sci-fi flick had several musical numbers including this tune, which was recorded in the studio by Zadora and Jermaine Jackson. Jackson was not initially part of the film. Actor Craig Shaffer lip synced the part. After the film was done, Zadora and Jackson filmed a video for this song, which was going to be released as a single. The film saw limited release and was promptly ignored. However, the single version of this song started to catch on. In Europe, it topped the charts in several countries including France, Germany, and the Netherlands. It seemed like it would then do well in the US, but even though Jackson just had two Top 20 hits, the Europop track fizzled before it could get into the top half of the chart. It did a little better at Dance getting to #22.

ReduxReview:  I have no idea why I bought this single. I know I had not heard the tune yet. Perhaps the draw of Jackson and Zadora drew me in. Whatever it was, I got the single and kind of liked it. The production is a bit cheesy and cheap sounding now, but it seemed interesting back in the day. It was produced by Jack White, who had success with Laura Branigan. While the song was kind of a dud here, it was big in Europe. I remember in 2013 I was staying in Portugal and found an 80s radio station to listen to. Over a two-week period, this song came up at least twice a day on the station. I couldn't believe it. In the US, the song could barely get airtime when it came out let alone now! It's really not a very good song, but I think it is kitschy fun and it kind of cracks me up when I hear it now. Oh, and the video for this tune is pretty awful and certainly didn't do the song any favors. Although Zadora rocked a near-drag white pant suit look in it with fab sunglasses...

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The video for this song featured nothing from the film. Although it had futuristic costumes and was something akin to Mad Max, it had nothing that was tied in with the movie. The original idea was to have the video tagged on to the end of the film, but at the last minute the producers decided to intertwine portions of the video into the opening segment of the film. Because of this, Jermaine Jackson now seemed to appear in the movie and even got credited as a character called "Rain," even though he appeared nowhere else in the film.  2) This song was co-written by Michael Bradley, Steve Wittmack, and Peggy March. March had been a music star herself. Billed as Little Peggy March, she topped the Pop chart in 1963 with the song "I Will Follow Him." March was only fifteen years old at the time and that made her the youngest female artist to ever have a #1 song on the chart. It's a record that she still holds today. In 2010, March recorded a version of "When the Rain Begins to Fall" with German actor/singer Andreas Zaron.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, October 23, 2017

"Only the Young" by Journey

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2201
Date:  01/26/1985
Debut:  43
Peak:  9
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  By this point, Journey had been absent from the charts for nearly a year. After their successful Frontiers album and tour, the band took some time to recoup and do other projects. The most prolific one was Steve Perry's solo album Street Talk. While still contemplating their next move, an opportunity to contribute a song to a film soundtrack came up. Instead of recording something new, the band offered up this tune, which had originally been recorded for Frontiers but ended up bumped from the final track listing. The song was a good fit for the coming-of-age flick Vision Quest and it ended up being the first single from the film's soundtrack album. It debuted just outside the Pop Top 40 and soon became the band's fifth Top 10 single. It did even better at Rock getting to #3. The results were great for Journey, but not so good for Scandal, who had purchased the song for their Warrior album and then got locked out of being able to issue it themselves as a single.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure why Journey bumped this song from Frontiers. This had hit single written all over it and the album could have benefited from it. My only guess is that the anthem was a bit lighter than the darkly produced tunes found on the album and it might have sounded out of place. In the end it was probably a good decision as the song got out as something brand new following Frontiers and helped to keep them active on the charts while recording their next LP. As for the song, the guitar riff, sentimental lyrics, and sing-a-long chorus were arena ready and it played well on the radio. Although I would like some of their future songs, I consider this to be their last great single. It still had that real pop/arena rock Journey sound. Their tunes after leaned even closer to commercial pop/rock, most likely due to Steve Perry's flirtations with soft rock on his solo album.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In 1980, the Make-a-Wish foundation began to grant wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses. Journey and this song would play a part in one kid's wish. Kenny Sykaluk was a 16-year-old who was in the hospital in the last stages of his battle with cystic fibrosis. Journey was his favorite band and his wish was to meet them. It was all arranged and in the fall of '84 the band traveled to Cleveland to meet Sykaluk. They brought along a new Walkman that had a cassette with this song on it. At the time the song was set to be issued as a single in the coming months, but no one outside of Journey's inner circle had heard the tune. Sykaluk would be the first. He played the song while the members of Journey were in the room. The visit was very emotional for the band and it hit them even harder the next day when they found out that Sykaluk and passed away. Apparently, he was still holding the Walkman when he died. Journey dedicated the song to Sykaluk and used it as the opening number on the next tour.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Too Late for Goodbyes" by Julian Lennon

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2200
Date:  01/26/1985
Debut:  52
Peak:  5
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The title track and first single to Lennon's debut album, Valotte, got his career started on a high note when it reached #9 Pop, #4 AC, and #2 Rock. For a follow-up, this next track was issued. It would end up being his biggest hit reaching #5 at Pop and #1 at AC. It just missed out on the Rock Top 10 getting to #11. The two hits would help the album go platinum. In the UK, this song actually served as Lennon's first single from the album. It did well getting to #5. "Valotte" was issued next, but could only manage a #55 showing.

ReduxReview:  This bouncy, syncopated tune is still a fun listen despite the production being very dated. Phil Ramone is a terrific producer, but he was never good at synthpop style productions like this one. It's missing depth. There's just a lot of treble happening and it all sounds a tad too cold. It's like an expensive Casio playing. Regardless, the simple melody and hooky chorus made this a bit o' 80s ear candy.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Film director Sam Peckinpah was known for his violent and controversial films such as The Wild Bunch (1969) and Straw Dogs (1971), as well as slicker fare like 1972's The Getaway. He was also know for his combative personality and that along with drug and alcohol abuse didn't make him a favorite among studios or producers. In the early 80s, his career was on the decline and he was also experiencing health issues. After fighting with producers over his 1983 film The Osterman Weekend, Peckinpah had little prospects on the horizon. But then he got an offer to try his hand at directing music videos. He was asked to do two videos for the Julian Lennon songs "Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes." The videos were well received and the one for "Too Late" got Lennon an MTV Video Award nomination in the Best New Artist in a Video category. Unfortunately, the two videos would be Peckinpah's last works. He died in December of 1984 from heart failure.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"Keeping the Faith" by Billy Joel

Song#:  2199
Date:  01/26/1985
Debut:  57
Peak:  18
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Joel's album An Innocent Man had already spawned five singles. With the fifth one, "Leave a Tender Moment Alone," not performing as well as the previous singles (it peaked at #27), it seemed like that would be it for the album. However, the song was the LPs fourth #1 at AC, so with support still happening at that format, the label thought a sixth single might still generate some interest. It did just that with AC taking the song to #3. Those results may not have been all that surprising, but the response at Pop was. It ended up surpassing the previous single and grabbed a spot just inside the Top 20. With that final success, Joel's Innocent Man era came to a close.

ReduxReview:  This nostalgic tune probably should have been issued before "Leave a Tender Moment Alone." It just seemed to be a better fit for pop radio and the associated courtroom video, which featured cameos by Richard Prior and Joe Piscopo, was a fun one for MTV and the just-launched VH1 channel. It's a good tune with a bit of a rock edge and a nice horn/sax section. Besides the reflective lyrics, the song isn't necessarily as retro sounding as others on the album. I guess it's supposed to pay homage to pre-British Invasion rock, but I'm not really hearing that here. Regardless, it was a nice album closer and a good single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song is about a guy who is nostalgically looking back on his years as a young man in the 50s. The lyrics contain references to certain styles and products that were popular during the era. One item mentioned was not all that familiar to a younger generation. A line in the song says "I took a fresh pack of Luckies and a mint called Sen-Sen." While folks were still familiar with Lucky Strike cigarettes, many didn't know about Sen-Sen candy.  Developed in the 1890's, the licorice flavored candy was first marketed as "breath perfume" and was meant to mask odors caused by things like smoking (hence, the candy being mentioned in the same lyric line as a cigarette). It was considered the first breath mint and was quite popular from the 30s through the 50s. Although it got pushed back on the shelves as other new candies and mints came along, it remained popular and was later marketed as a nostalgia item until the candy stopped being made sometime around 2004.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, October 20, 2017

"High on You" by Survivor

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2198
Date:  01/26/1985
Debut:  63
Peak:  8
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Ever since Survivor hit #1 with "Eye of the Tiger" in 1982, they had been struggling to follow-up that major success. They finally regained some of their audience when the first single from their album Vital Signs, "I Can't Hold Back," reached #1 at Rock and #13 at Pop. It was their biggest hit since "Eye," at least until this second single came along. With a little momentum behind them now, this song took off and became their second Pop Top 10 hit. It also reached the same peak at Rock. With a pair of hits, it seemed that Survivor finally hit on the right formula for success.

ReduxReview:  Songwriting duties for the band fell to members Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan. When the duo was on point, they cranked out delicious pop/rock tunes like this one. Nearly every section of the song contained a hook and it was loaded with memorable melodies that all fit well together. Had they written gems like this earlier, they most likely wouldn't have had to call this hit a "comeback."

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  New lead singer Jimi Jamison would later do some solo work along with song contributions to various projects. One song he did was heard by millions on a weekly basis. Jamison co-wrote and performed the song "I'm Always Here," which served as the theme song to the popular TV show Baywatch during its syndicated run. It was also included on the original soundtrack album for the show that was released in 1994. Baywatch had an even bigger audience in other parts of the world and the song was issued as a single in several countries.

_________________________________________________________________________________