Sunday, December 31, 2017

"Can't Stop" by Rick James

Song#:  2271
Date:  03/30/1985
Debut:  75
Peak:  50
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  After a nearly two-year break from recording, James returned with his eighth studio LP titled Glow. This first single was issued and it was well-received at R&B getting to #10 - his tenth Top 10 on that chart. The song would make an appearance on the Pop chart, but it stopped at the halfway point. Unfortunately, it would end up being James' final single to reach the Pop chart. The album would also get to #50 at Pop while reaching #7 R&B. It sold well, but in the end it failed to reach gold certification, which was his first to miss that mark since 1980. James would record three more albums in the decade (with the last one getting shelved at the time), yet each would result in diminishing returns. He would record one more album, 1997's Urban Rhapsody, before his death in 2004.

ReduxReview:  Although James always claimed that Prince ripped off his sound, I'd have to say that he was kind of returning the favor here. This song, especially the keyboard sound and guitar solo, sounded like a riff of what Prince had been doing with combining elements of R&B, rock, and synthpop. This is nothing like James' previous funk tunes and I have to say that it is a welcome change. Despite any comparisons to Prince, I like the song. James needed to refresh his stale sound and I think this worked. It's a shame it didn't do better at Pop. Is it excellent material? Nope. But it was certainly better than the bland funk he had been dishing out prior to this. Although I don't remember this song from back in the day, I do remember the follow-up title-track "Glow." At the time I was doing a singing telegram job and traveled around quite a bit. The company van just had an AM radio in it and there were very few stations available. The one that came in the best had an R&B format and I'd listen to it. They used to play "Glow" quite a bit and I remember thinking it was a pretty cool tune. It's a post-disco retro tune with a Prince feel. That single got to #5 at R&B, but failed to reach the Pop chart. The album is kind of an overlooked gem in James' catalog.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After his next album The Flag performed poorly, James moved over to Warner Bros. for 1988's Wonderful. The album's first single, "Loosey's Rap" featuring Roxanne Shante, became a surprise #1 hit at R&B. It was his fourth and last #1 (and last Top 10) on that chart. While it caught on at R&B, it was a non-starter at Pop and didn't even get close to getting on that chart. Part of the reason for the lack of crossover support could be due to MTV not playing the video for the song. James had always been a long-time critic of the channel for not supporting black artists, but after Michael Jackson and Prince knocked down that door, it seemed that things were changing. However, MTV still had their standards and they deemed that James' video for "Loosey's Rap" was too sexual in nature to air. James balked and pointed out that sexual videos by Madonna and Cher were being played with no issues and speculated that race was the real issue. However, BET wouldn't show the video either (although it should be pointed out that MTV and BET were owned by the same company). Despite the lack of promotional support via the video, the song got to #1 at R&B. Yet in the age of MTV there is little doubt that the song would have done better at Pop had the video been in rotation on the channel. James' next album for Warner would end up getting shelved and soon he'd be dropped from the label, essentially ending his long-standing career.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

"Lost in Love" by New Edition

Song#:  2270
Date:  03/30/1985
Debut:  77
Peak:  35
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  This vocal group broke through on the Pop chart with "Cool It Now" (#4), the first single from their self-titled second album. A second single, "Mr. Telephone Man," nearly made the Top 10 getting to #12. Hoping to keep the momentum going, this third single, with lead vocal by Ralph Tresvant, was issued. Although it wasn't nearly as popular, it did become their third Top 40 Pop entry. At R&B the single became their fifth Top 10 hit getting to #6. The hits helped the album reach #6 at Pop (#1 R&B) and go double platinum. It would be their only album in the 80s to break into the Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  This isn't too bad of a ballad, but it's nearly too AC-ish for the group. Tresvant's teenage voice just doesn't sound right on the tune. In fact, I found his vocal a bit annoying and distracting. It wasn't the right fit. The song needed a deeper, more mature voice to sell it. As-is, it sounds like a kid trying to cover a Peabo Bryson tune. It just doesn't work for me.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Although only three singles from the album reached the Pop chart, two more songs from the album would would dent the R&B chart. "Kinda Girls We Like" wasn't necessarily promoted as a follow-up, but it got issued as a 12" single and got enough airplay to get it on the R&B chart at #87. The track "My Secret (Didja Gitit Yet?)" was pushed out as a single and it was able to reach #27 at R&B, however it failed to generate interest at Pop and it bubbled under the chart at #103. That song was co-written by Dick Eastman and Bobby Hart. Hart was a part of the famous writing team/recording duo of Boyce & Hart. That duo wrote several songs for the Monkees (including the #1 "Last Train to Clarksville") and even had a hit themselves with the #8 "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" in 1967. In later years, Hart began writing with Eastman. In addition to "My Secret," they also had success co-writing "Dominoes," which was a #14 hit for Robbie Nevil in 1987.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

"We Are the World" by USA for Africa

#1 Alert!
Multi-Platinum Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2269
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  21
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Charity



Pop Bits:  This charity single was the idea of singer Harry Belafonte after he had heard about the UK charity song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" He wanted to do a US-based song to help benefit the organization United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa, which was created to help alleviate the rampant starvation in Africa. Belafonte enlisted the help of entertainment manager Ken Kragen to secure artists for the project. Kragen's clients Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers were first to join up. Soon, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson were on board as well as producer Quincy Jones. Richie, Jackson, and Wonder had signed on to write the tune, but Wonder had to drop out due to time constraints. Richie and Jackson took a couple of weeks to write the song and it was finally completed the night before the first recording session was to take place. With the basic recording done, a second session for recording all the vocal parts from a slew of celebrity artists took place six days later. The single would be issued just over a month later and the hype along with the associated video would send record buyers flocking to the stores. The song would debut just outside of the Pop Top 20 and four weeks later it would be #1. It would be the fastest selling single in US history and would be the first single to achieve multi-platinum success selling over 4 million copies. It would also reach #1 at R&B and AC while getting to #27 Rock and #76 Country. The following year the project would be awarded four Grammy awards including Record and Song of the Year. Not only was it a success in the US, but it hit #1 on many charts around the world. With sales of over 20 million copies worldwide, it is tied for fifth on the list of the biggest selling singles in history.

ReduxReview:  This was quite the deal back in the day, especially the video. It helped that the hottest star on the planet, Michael Jackson, participated alongside several major music stars of the day. I find it hard to judge this tune. I mean, it was done for a cause and I think it really exceeded expectations and (hopefully) in the end did some good. So how can I fault it? I guess what I have to do is set the charity part aside and take a look at the song itself. When I do, I have to admit that I'm not a fan. I wasn't back in the day either. In fact, I found it annoying. One critic said it sounded like a Pepsi commercial and I have to agree. However, that is what was brilliant about what Richie and Jackson did. They created a simple, catchy song that anyone could sing and it basically was a jingle for the charity. It wasn't meant to be a deep, profound musical piece. They just wanted to get the point across and get folks hooked. It worked very well. Ask anyone (of a certain age...) around and I bet that they can sing you the chorus of this song. Mission accomplished! But as a piece of songwriting, I think it is banal. If one artist did this as a non-charity song with different lyrics, I'd totally dislike it. However, the stars, the charity, and the historic nature of the tune adds a bit of value to it. If I never hear this song again, I'd be totally happy. However, I do recognize what was accomplished and it serves as a sort of 80s touchstone for a lot of folks.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The extensive list of artists that participated in the song's recording included heavy-hitters like Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Kenny Rogers, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Daryl Hall, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, and Ray Charles. All of those performers along with a few others performed solos in the song. The full chorus of voices included other celebs such as Dan Ackroyd, Bob Geldof (of the Band-Aid project), Bette Midler, the Pointer Sisters, and several members of the Jackson clan. Although it was noted that one major music star was absent. Prince was initially supposed to be a part of the recording, but ended up backing out. While no confirmed excuse was ever given, one source reported that it was because he just didn't want to record with other artists. Whatever the reason, in the end he ended up donating his own song "4 the Tears in Your Eyes" to...  2) ...the We Are the World album. In addition to the single, it was decided that an album of unreleased songs by various artists would be assembled.  In addition to the title-track, the album featured donated tracks by Springsteen, Turner, Steve Perry, Chicago, Kenny Rogers, The Pointer Sisters, and Huey Lewis and the News. In addition, the Canadian charity single "Tears Are Not Enough" (billed as by Northern Lights) was included. The album would reach #1 and sell over three million copies.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Everything She Wants" by Wham!

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2268
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  60
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  The UK duo's album Make It Big was aptly title since its first two singles both reached #1 on the Pop chart. The week that their second #1, "Careless Whisper," dropped out of the Top 10, this third single debuted on the chart. It would be another across-the-board smash hitting #1 at Pop, #4 AC, #7 Dance, and #12 R&B. It would also be there third in a row to receive a sales certification, which was gold (their previous two #1's hit the platinum mark). Although the album fell out of the #1 spot the week prior to this single's debut on the Pop chart, it would still remain a Top 10 seller for a long while and would eventually be certified 6x platinum.

ReduxReview:  Although I think "Careless Whisper" is a classic tune that I rated a 10, I do have to admit that this one is probably my favorite Wham! song. Michael did an outstanding job writing this one and I love the groove, the production, and the build to the great line "my god! I don't even think that I love you!" This is a deceptive tune. There's a lot going on and I don't think it got enough credit back in the day because Wham! got tossed into the boy-band type of thing and got dismissed. Even George Michael in later years mentioned that this was the only Wham! song that he really liked. More critics have dialed into this one in retrospect and that is always good. However, I loved it from the get-go and still do.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  In the UK, this song was issued as a single near the end of 1984. The flip side song was a new George Michael holiday composition "Last Christmas." Due to the time it was released, that b-side started to get a lot of airplay in addition to the a-side. Eventually it would become a two-sided hit single that would reach #2 on the UK chart. Since "Everything" didn't get released in the US until late March in '85, the b-side was changed to the album track "Like a Baby." Although "Last Christmas" would receive a lot of airplay in the US, it would never get an official single release. It would eventually reach the Pop chart for the first time in January 2017 following the passing of George Michael. It would peak at #41. The song recurs each year on the Christmas Songs chart and has continued to sell in digital form over the years. As of this posting, it is the 10th best-selling holiday song in digital form.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"Vox Humana" by Kenny Loggins

Song#:  2267
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  64
Peak:  29
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Synthpop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Following the huge success of the Footloose soundtrack and its #1 title track, Loggins retreated to the studio to record his fifth solo album. Assembling an all-star list of producers (David Foster, Michael Omaritan) and musicians (Sheena Easton, Sheila E., El Debarge, Philip Baily, David Sanborn, Steve Porcaro, Steve Lukather, etc.), Loggins finished of the new project titled Vox Humana. To introduce the LP, this first title-track single was issued. It did acceptably well at Rock getting to #18, but it was a bit of a bust at Pop where the single stalled just inside the Top 30. With Loggins' popularity at an all-time high thanks to his work on Footloose, the results were quite disappointing. In turn, the album would stop at #41, which was his worst showing on the chart to that point. However, due to his popularity and AC success of his next single, the album did eventually get certified gold.

ReduxReview:  This song was just a big mistake. Frankly, it's a mess. It's like Loggins took elements of his previous film hits, smashed them together with studio tricks in a blender, and mixed it into a slurry that was free of any hooks. To top it off, he gives it a highfalutin' title that is barely audible in the bridge. It's loud and bombastic - and not in the good way. I'm all for artists experimenting a bit with their sound or style, but this was just wacky. And to top it off, it gets released as a single. Luckily, Loggins' bacon was saved thanks to another big movie song because this had career-ender written all over it. These days, this song is kind of an interesting relic in his catalog, but at the time it was an over-the-top aural assault that put an unattractive crimp in Loggins' career.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) "Vox Humana" is Latin for "human voice." It is also the name of a reed stop on a pipe organ. When used in combination with a vibrato effect from another organ setting, the sound made is meant to mimic a human voice.  2) Loggins wrote this song with Anita and June Pointer from the Pointer Sisters. Apparently Loggins wanted to experiment with newer synthpop sounds combined with and R&B swing style, which the Pointer Sisters had dabbled in with their recent smash album Break Out. All three Pointer Sisters performed backing vocals for the song.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

"Suddenly" by Billy Ocean

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2266
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  66
Peak:  4
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Ocean was on a roll with his previous singles, "Caribbean Queen" and "Loverboy," hitting #1 and #2, respectively on the Pop chart. For his next single, this title-track to his triple-platinum album was issued. It became his first #1 hit at AC while reaching the Top 10 at Pop and #5 R&B. It also got to #4 in the UK becoming his biggest hit there to-date.

ReduxReview:  I didn't get into his previous two hits, but when this ballad came out, I fell for it. It had a Lionel Richie feel to and also seemed to incorporate elements of Burt Bacharach. The song was lovely without being overbearing. I like that Ocean held back and didn't stray into big-ass ballad territory. He also turns in a nice vocal performance that is relaxed and perfect for the mood of the tune. It was the only 45 single I ever bought by Ocean.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  For his Suddenly album, Ocean teamed up with fellow Trinidadian Keith Diamond. Diamond produced the album and co-wrote four songs with Ocean including "Suddenly" and "Caribbean Queen." Diamond would go on to work with artists like Sheena Easton, Michael Bolton, and Mick Jagger. He would also have success with the funk/new jack group Starpoint. He co-produced their most successful album, 1985's Restless. It featured their biggest hit, "Object of My Desire," which got to #8 R&B, #12 Dance, and #25 Pop. That song was co-written by Diamond.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

"Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" by David Lee Roth

Song#:  2265
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  70
Peak:  12
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Roth's first solo outing, the EP Crazy from the Heat, consisted of four oddball cover tunes including its first single, the #3 remake of the Beach Boys' "California Girls." It was pushed along by a popular MTV video as was this next single. The retro medley did quite well, but just missed out on cracking the Pop Top 10. It was also able to reach the Rock chart getting to #25.  Although not issued as a single, a third track from the EP, "Easy Street," made an impression on the Rock chart reaching #14.

ReduxReview:  Had any other artist recorded and released this tune at the time, I think the reception would have been crickets. However, Roth and his personality and videos certainly did a lot in order to make this a hit. Again, like "California Girls," Roth sells it well but there is nothing wildly different here from Prima's original (see below). It's a fun track and I'm glad that a younger generation got to discover the medley. Other than that, there was no real reason for this to exist except to entertain Roth.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This medley is made up of two older pop standards. "Just a Gigolo" was an English adaptation of an German tune from the late 1920's. Among the first artists to record the English version of the song were Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, both around 1931. "Ain't Got Nobody" was published in 1915 and was performed by many artist. However, both songs are associated with jazz/swing star Louis Prima who combined the two songs into a medley and recorded it in 1956. It quickly became one of Prima's signature songs. It is the Prima version that Roth covered for his EP. Although it seems odd for a rocker like Roth to cover this old standard, it was a natural fit for him because both he and Prima were larger-than-life entertainers. In addition to his famous hits, Prima also became famous to many generation of fans because of his voice work on the 1967 Disney film The Jungle Book. Prima played the orangutan King Louis and sang the tune "I Wan'na Be Like You."

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Friday, December 22, 2017

"Fresh" by Kool & the Gang

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2264
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  73
Peak:  9
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  The band's album Emergency got a good start thanks to its first single, "Misled," hitting #10 at Pop and #3 R&B. For the follow-up, this track was chosen. It would do even better getting to #9 at Pop, #1 R&B, #1 Dance, and #5 AC. It was the first time since early 1980 that the band was able to score two Top 10 hits from the same album. The news would only get better with their next single.

ReduxReview:  I have to admit that I hated this song when it came out. After the meaty and rockin' "Misled," this dance track disappointed me.  The chorus irritated me - "she's fresh...fresh!...exciting  <dong, dong, dong, dong, dong>..." I just wasn't having it. I'm much better about it these days. I still don't care for the song, but dang if it isn't memorable. Sometimes when I'm out to dinner with folks or grocery shopping with someone and a person mentions that something is fresh, I immediately imitate the chorus of this song (much to the dismay of the folks with me). It's like an automatic reaction. So, since I'm still doing that all these decades later, I guess the song can't be all that bad.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Prior to joining Kool & the Gang in 1979, lead singer James "J.T." Taylor had been writing songs and performing with other bands. When Kool & the Gang were assembling material for the Emergency album, Taylor reached back into his catalog and rediscovered a song he had written for one of his former bands. They decided to give an update to the song including writing some new lyrics. The band worked up the song and enlisted the help of songwriter Sandy Linzer to finish off the lyrics. Linzer had previously written hits for The Toys ("A Lover's Concerto," #2, 1965), The Four Seasons ("Let's Hang On," #3, 1965 and "Working My Way Back to You," #9, 1966), Odyssey ("Native New Yorker," #6 R&B, 1977), and many others over the decades includes tunes done by Whitney Houston and the Backstreet Boys.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

"Things Can Only Get Better" by Howard Jones

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2263
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  75
Peak:  5
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  Jones' debut LP Human's Lib did quite well thanks to two Top 40 singles including the #27 "New Song." In the UK, this album had been released much earlier, so they were ready for new material from Jones. He ended up putting out a new single titled "Like to Get to Know You Well" and it reached #4 in the UK. It was followed by a remix EP that featured the song. The US missed out on all of this and had to wait for his new album, Dream Into Action, to be prepped. It was ready early in '85 and this track was chosen as the first single. It meandered its way up the Pop chart until it finally cracked the Top 10. It also crossed over to several other charts including Dance (#10),  Rock (#21), AC (#38) and even R&B (#54). The hit would help push his album to #10 and it would eventually go platinum.

ReduxReview:  I was already on-board with Jones so when this song came out I was all over it. It was funky synthpop that featured a chorus that consisted of nothing but "whoa-whoa's" and I loved it. There are very few hit songs where the entire chorus is just a syllable and/or word like this. Some songwriters consider it lazy to not write actual words, but I think they are snooty snoots. I mean, how fun is it just to go "whoa-whoa-whoa" to this song? It works great and it made the song memorable. The album was one of my faves from '85 and I still enjoy it.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Background vocals on this track and others from the album were performed by the female trio Afrodiziak. That group worked both in the studio and on tour with artists like Jones, Elvis Costello, Heaven 17, Sam Brown, Maxi Priest, Julia Fordham, and others. One member of Afrodiziak was Caron Wheeler who later joined the R&B group Soul II Soul. Wheeler sang the lead vocals on the band's two biggest singles, "Back to Life" (#4 Pop, #1 R&B) and "Keep on Movin'" (#11 Pop, #1 R&B). Both songs were platinum sellers in 1989.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"Baby Come and Get It" by The Pointer Sisters

Song#:  2262
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  77
Peak:  44
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  The Pointers were on a roll with their previous four singles all hitting the Pop Top 10. With a total of five singles already released from their album Break Out, it seemed like the album had run its course. However, the label thought different and decided to eke out this sixth single. It did quite well at Dance getting to #8, but it stalled early at Pop and R&B (#24). The song closed out the trio's most successful album and peak commercial period.

ReduxReview:  I think this was just a stab by the record company to see what would happen. The trio had four Top 10's in a row and were a hot draw, so why not try another single. However, by this time the album was long in the tooth and it was going to take something much stronger than this song to do anything worthwhile. Therefore, it fizzled. I like the song, but it makes for a strong album track rather than a single. There was no reason for this single to be issued.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although she wasn't the first Pointer Sister to record a solo album, June Pointer stepped out on her own for a side solo project following the Sisters' 1982 LP So Excited!. Working with the trio's current producer, Richard Perry, June recorded a debut solo album titled Baby Sister. It was released in 1983 prior to the Sisters' massive hit album Break Out. The first single from June's album, "Ready for Some Action," got a few spins at R&B and it reached #28 on that chart. It wasn't enough to generate much attention and the album disappeared quickly. However, that may have been good as June was going to be extremely busy with her sisters following the success of Break Out.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"Will the Wolf Survive?" by Los Lobos

Song#:  2261
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  78
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock, Latin Rock



Pop Bits:  This East L.A. Chicano band formed in 1973 and they honed their skill until finally being able to release a self-financed/distributed debut album in 1978 titled Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles. Eventually, the band's sound evolved to a mix of traditional Latin and modern rock and that secured a deal with the Slash label in 1983, which resulted in an EP ...And a Time to Dance. Although it didn't sell too well, reviews were sparkling and it gave them the opportunity to record a full-length follow-up titled How Will the Wolf Survive? This first single kicked off the LP and it did fine at Rock getting to #26.  The attention the song got along with critical praise for the album allowed the single to crossover onto the Pop chart for a few weeks. The album would get to #47 and be included on several year-end best-of lists.

ReduxReview:  I totally missed the boat on this one when it came out. Due to reviews and their cult-like popularity, I was aware of the band but didn't pursue listening to them. That was a mistake on my part. Although I'm not sure I would have appreciated them as much at the time as I do now (as my ears and tastes are so much better). I boarded their bandwagon after I bought their experimental 1992 album Kiko. I just loved that album and over time I went back and discovered their other albums. How Will the Wolf Survive is certainly a gem in their catalog and this song is a standout. The jangly guitars are great along with the vocals of David Hildago. Although this band has remained popular over the years, they really should have been much bigger than they were.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Their EP ...And a Time to Dance resulted in the band's first Grammy nomination and win. They won in the Best Mexican-American Performance category for the track "Anselma." It would be the first of their three Grammy wins over the course of eleven nominations.  2) In 1986, country superstar Waylon Jennings recorded a version of this song for the album of the same name. It was issued as the LP's second single and it reached #5 on the Country chart.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

"Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & the Waves

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2260
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  9
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  This English band came about when two members of a band called The Waves reconnected via another band called Mama's Cookin'. They were mainly a cover band but began to turn to originals done by member Kimberly Rew (formerly of The Waves). Rew and American singer (and original Mama's Cookin' lead vocalist) Katrina Leskanich shared lead vocal duties, but then Rew began writing songs for Leskanich to sing and soon she took over the lead on most all of the band's songs. By this time, they had went back to using The Waves as their name, but that eventually evolved into Katrina & the Waves. The band financed their own demo and shopped it around. A Canadian label, Attic, decided to pick up the band and a debut album was issued in Canada only in 1983. It proved to be popular enough to support a tour and a second LP the following year. Major labels then came calling and the band signed on with Capitol. For their self-titled major-label debut, the band remixed and did overdubs on track from their previous albums and then completely re-recorded two of their songs including this first single. The bouncy track gained in popularity slowly made its way into the Pop Top 10.  It also got to #19 Dance, #21 Rock, and #21 AC. The hit helped push the album to #25.

ReduxReview:  This song is just an utter blast. If someone doesn't like this song, then I doubt I'd like to hang out with them. If you wanna make people dance, smile, be dorky, and sing along, this is your go-to tune. The feeling of the music with the quick tempo and horns certainly fed in the lyrics and the band certainly made everyone feel like they were walking on sunshine. It's an incredibly happy song without being cloying. I think it's time to feel good - yeah!

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song proved to be a huge long-term financial success for the band. The track has been licensed for use in countless advertisement, TV shows, films, radio spots, etc., since it became a hit. Because of that, it has been reported that the song annually earned a significant amount of money for the band, who apparently had retained the publishing rights. In August of 2015, the rights to the song sold to BMG, along with some others written by Kimberly Rew, for $10 million. 2) This song also helped the band secure a Best New Artist Grammy nomination. They were aced out of the award by the exotic sounds of Sade.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

"The NeverEnding Story" by Limahl

Song#:  2259
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  17
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Synthpop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Christopher Hamill, aka Limahl, achieved international success as the lead singer of Kajagoogoo, the one-hit wonder band that gave us the #5 hit "Too Shy." Following that success, differences in the band led to Hamill getting sacked. He opted for a solo career and signed on with EMI. He recorded his debut album, Don't Suppose, and the track "Only for Love" was issued as the first single. In the UK, the song was moderately successful getting to #16. A second single, "Too Much Trouble," didn't do all that well reaching #64. While all this was going on, Limahl was asked to provide vocals for this theme song to the fantasy film The NeverEnding Story. Prior to the film being released in the UK, the song was issued as a single. It did well reaching #4 in the UK and hitting #1 in several European countries. In the US it got into the Pop Top 20 while going to #6 at AC and #10 Dance. The song did not originally appear on Limahl's debut album, but after it became a hit the album would be reissued with the track (in place of another track). The album didn't sell all that well, but it gave Limahl the opportunity to record a follow-up in '86.

ReduxReview:  First, I have to say that I love The NeverEnding Story movie. I'm not all that into fantasy-style films, but that one gets to me every time. This closing theme song actually fit it quite well and I thought it was a good little tune. I didn't think it would be a sizable hit though. It was a little bubbly, cutsy, and nearly like a kid's song, which was appropriate for the film. I thought it's chances of success were slim, but lo-and-behold it actually got inside the Top 20. It's a sweet little tune that makes me think of the film whenever I hear it. (Side note - I don't necessarily consider this to be a one-hit wonder song as it peaked a bit too low and wasn't a major hit. However, some folks do and thanks to the sole hit from his former band Kajagoogoo, Limahl is one of a handful of artists who were one-hit wonders as part of a group and as a solo artist.)

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song had a female voice supported Limahl's lead vocals. The voice was supplied by singer Beth Andersen. Andersen was a session singer and provided lead vocals on a couple of songs for film soundtracks, including "Dance Dance Dance," which was featured in a key scene in the 1983 film Scarface. She would also co-write the song "Hold Me," which was recorded by Laura Branigan for her album of the same name. The track would be selected as the LP's second single, but it peaked at a very modest #82 in late '85. Limahl would also record a French version of "NeverEnding Story." For that recording, the female vocal was handled by Ann Calvert. Titled "L'Histoire Sans Fin," it would be the b-side to single of "NeverEnding" released in France. The single would reach #7.  2) There are a lot of songs where the ending uses a fade-out instead of coming to a distinct conclusion. Fade-outs are common, but this song is unusual because it also has a fade-in. This is not only uncommon in general, but for a single it is quite rare. Apparently the reason it was done is because the songwriters, Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey, wanted the song to fit the "never-ending" theme of the movie. Having the song fade-in and then fade-out makes it seem like the song never really ends.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

"Lonely in Love" by Giuffria

Song#:  2258
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  57
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This rock band scored a Top 20 hit with "Call to the Heart" (#15), the first single from their self-titled debut album. It was an even bigger hit at Rock getting to #3. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It failed to replicate the first single's success and could only manage a #23 showing at Rock while missing out on the top half of the Pop chart. The album could have done better with another solid hit, but "Call to the Heart" did well enough to send the album to #26.

ReduxReview:  While this isn't quite as good as "Call to the Heart," it still has its merits, especially lead singer David Glen Eisley's vocals. His performance really elevates the tune to a different level. He encroaches on Steve Perry territory here, but I don't think that's a bad thing as he doesn't sound like he's trying to imitate Perry. It's a shame the band didn't have a bigger career. They checked all the right boxes, yet they only ended up with one significant hit. Their debut album is worth checking out.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Lead vocals for the band were done by David Glen Eisley. He is the son of actor Anthony Eisley, who co-starred on the ABC detective series Hawaiian Eye. That show first aired in 1959 and lasted four seasons. After that, Eisley appeared in numerous TV shows and b-movies. In 1991, David Glen Eisley married actress Olivia Hussey, who was famous for her starring role in the 1968 film version of Romeo and Juliet. Their daughter, India Eisley, co-starred on the ABC Family TV show The Secret Life of an American Teenager for five seasons.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

"Go Down Easy" by Dan Fogelberg

Song#:  2257
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  85
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Fogelberg's eighth solo studio album, Windows and Walls, was a gold seller, but the only significant single to reach the Pop chart was the #13 "The Language of Love." It seemed by the mid-80s, Fogelberg's brand of adult pop was going to have a tough time on the charts. Instead of trying to keep up with the new sounds of the 80s and forcing himself to write songs with hit potential, Fogelberg decided to veer off in a new direction. He headed to Nashville, hooked up with some of the top names in country music and recorded High Country Snows, his first country/bluegrass-based album. This initial single introduced his new sound and it did well at AC getting to #6. Country picked up the tune and it peaked at a respectable #56 on that chart. However, it wasn't a match for Pop and it spent a quick month near the bottom of the chart. Regardless, the album sold well going gold and it got to #30 at Pop and #23 at Country. The results combined with good reviews validated Fogelberg's decision to experiment with a new sound.

ReduxReview:  Fogelberg's folk-rock sound was never that far away from country, so the move to contemporary bluegrass was not necessarily a major shift. He just made a more distinct line in the sand with this album. While a good chunk of it leans towards bluegrass, there are a couple of songs like this one that hark back to Fogelberg's AC/soft rock sound. Obviously, they were trying to get a crossover hit here and it pretty much worked at AC and Country. However, this just wasn't going to cut it at Pop. Back in the day I kind of lost interest in Fogelberg at this point. Although I appreciated this album, it just wasn't my thing and I preferred Fogelberg's pop/rock songs. This song wouldn't be too far out of place on any of his previous albums. It's a nice folk/soft rock tune, but it's a bit too subtle and I forget it soon after its done.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although this song would be a mid-charter at Country, another single from the album would do a bit better. The album opener "Down the Road / Mountain Pass" would end up getting to #33 at country. "Down the Road," which is the a cappella first thirty seconds of the single, was originally written by the legendary duo Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and first recorded by them around 1949. The balance of the song, "Mountain Pass," was written by Fogelberg.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Swear" by Sheena Easton

Song#:  2256
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  80
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock, New Wave



Pop Bits:  Easton's career revved up when her sixth studio album, A Private Heaven, spawned two Top 10 singles including the controversial Prince-penned song "Sugar Walls" (#9 Pop/#1 Dance/#3 R&B). The hits would send the album to #15 and it would eventually go platinum. It would be Easton's most successful LP in the US. To extend the album's life span, this third single was issued. Unfortunately, it did not catch on and the song floundered at the bottom of the Pop chart for a few weeks before disappearing.

ReduxReview:  This third single stuck with the upbeat flavor of the previous two songs, but this time it just didn't work out. The new wave track didn't connect as well and I can hear why. This rave-up wasn't all that pop radio friendly. The groove is great and production solid, but it just wasn't as memorable and hooky as something like "Strut." However, I like the bluesy, R&B slant to the song and thought it was a quality track on the album. It just didn't make a good single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of an original song written and recorded by Tim Scott (aka Tim Scott McConnell). Earlier in the 80s, Scott had written a set of songs that he put down on tape with the help of a little Casio keyboard. The demo ended up in the hands of Sire Records and they offered him a contract. Working with producer Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, The Go-Go's), the pair recorded Scott's self-titled mini-album. Among the five songs recorded was "Swear," which also served as Scott's debut single. The new wave-leaning song and EP didn't get anywhere, but then the song got picked up by Easton for her album. Scott would later dismiss his debut EP as a mistake because it really wasn't the type of music he wanted to do. He would then switch to a more rock/blues sound and release a couple of major label albums. Another song of his, "High Hopes," would get picked up and recorded by Bruce Springsteen in 1996 for his EP Blood Brothers. Springsteen would later re-record the song for his 2013 album High Hopes. The song would be the LP's first single. It was able to get to #15 on the Adult Alternative Songs chart. Scott then later recorded under the name Ledfoot and began recording albums in a genre he created called "Gothic blues."

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"Injured in the Game of Love" by Donnie Iris

Song#:  2255
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  91
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Iris' third album for MCA, 1983's Fortune 410, didn't sell so well thanks to its lone single "Do You Compute?" only getting to #64 Pop/#20 Rock. The label wasn't thrilled with the results and wanted to bring in a new producer and outside songwriters to lend a hand on Iris' next LP. That was something that Iris was not interested in, therefore the label said goodbye and dropped Iris. Luckily, he was able to sign on to the indie label HME and by the spring of '85 his new album, No Muss...No Fuss, was ready. This first single got things started. It was a mid-charter at Rock getting to #28, but there was little support at Pop and the song only managed a very short two-week stay on the chart. It would be Iris' last single to reach the charts. A year later, a couple of strokes of bad luck sidelined Iris' career. His next album got recorded, but then was blocked from being released due to a pending lawsuit from his old label, MCA (to this date, the LP has still not be released). Then, HME went belly up and that left Iris without a label once again. He wouldn't be able to record and release a new album until 1992. Since then, he has issued six studio and two live albums.

ReduxReview:  Here's another solid rock tune from Iris. It's not quite as infectious as some of his other singles, but it's got a big sing-along chorus and Iris' personality certainly shines through. At the time, I didn't know much about Iris or his music so he kind of slipped through the cracks. I discovered more about him many years later and now realize how underrated he and his music was. If you like this style of rock, I highly suggest at least checking out Iris' Best of LP. It's full of gems that should have made him a bigger star.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Around this same time, two members of Iris' band decided to leave for a new hard rock band called The Innocent. That band released one album in 1985 titled Livin' on the Street. The band and the album didn't get anywhere, but it has one claim to fame. A pre-Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor was a member of the band. Reznor would then join the band Exotic Birds before launching his own Nine Inch Nails in 1988.  2) Also around this time, Iris' longtime producer/co-writer Mark Avsec had a bunch of demos that got shopped around and CBS Associated though they were good enough to release. Avsec signed on and under the name Cellarful of Noise released an album in the summer of '85. Three years later, Avsec worked on a follow-up album titled Magnificent Obsession. With Iris' career on hold, Avsec brought him in to co-write a couple of tunes and perform lead vocals some tracks. The album ended up selling a few copies thanks to the single, "Samantha (What You Gonna Do?)," reaching #69 on the Pop chart in 1988.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"Forever Young" by Alphaville

Song#:  2254
Date:  03/23/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  93
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  The German band's first single, "Big in Japan," did quite well in Europe and on the US Dance chart where it got to #1. However, it didn't catch on at Pop and stalled at #66. Their next charting song in the US would be the title-track to their debut album Forever Young. As before, the single would reach the Top 10's of several European countries, but then fizzled in the US. It made a slight impression at Dance getting to #32 and spent a month near the very bottom of the Pop chart. However, that would not be the end of the song's story. Before the end of '85 the song would be reissued and do a bit better on the chart.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that perhaps you think you may not know, but once you hear it, you'll recognize it. Over the years, the track has been heard in commercials, TV shows, and films. Many artists have covered the song in their concerts as well. It's a shame it never really caught on in the US. It's one of those songs that has a big sing-a-long chorus and seems to relay an important message. Usually, the pop audience will hook into these songs but for some reason this one got ignored. I think if a more prominent artist did the song in a big, orchestrated arrangement, it might have been a hit (Laura Branigan did a version on her fourth album, but more on that in a future post). Even though it sounds so dated now, the song is still a winner.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  When they hit with "Big in Japan," which went Top 10 or #1 in many European countries, their plan was to then issue "Forever Young" next as that song was completed and set to go. However, with their debut album still in the works, the record company wanted to save "Forever Young" for later and asked the band to quickly write and record something new specifically for single release. They reluctantly did so and within a two-day span they had recorded "Sounds Like a Melody." It quickly got issued as a single and ended up doing well going Top 10 in many countries. However, the band was left with a bad taste in their mouths regarding the pressure to write the song and despite it being a hit, they apparently refused to play the song for nearly a decade.

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"That Was Yesterday" by Foreigner

Song#:  2253
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  47
Peak:  12
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Foreigner just had the biggest hit of their career with the #1 "I Want to Know What Love Is," which was the first single from their album Agent Provocateur. To follow it up, the band released this mid-tempo rock tune. It was another hit for them at Rock, getting to #4, but it stopped just shy of reaching the Pop Top 10. It also got to #24 at AC. The hits would help the album get to #4 and eventually it would be certified triple-platinum, but that was quite a sharp drop from their previous LP, 4, which hit #1 and sold over six-million copies. That album had more to promote sales since four of its singles made the Pop Top 40 with two of them going Top 10. In fact, all four of their studio albums prior to Agent Provocateur would sell more copies. It would also be their last studio album to go multi-platinum.

ReduxReview:  I didn't care all that much for "I Want to Know What Love Is," but I thought it would be interesting to see what they picked out for a follow up to that big hit. It ended up being this near-soft rocker and I have to say it was a pretty good choice. It's a solid pop song that nicely bridged the gap between the big balladry of "I Want to Know" and the band's more harder rocking tunes. I liked the song, but have always thought that it had a weird ending. The outro chorus is chuggin' along quite well and then it just kind of abruptly stops. I think a fade out would have been better or just even a more definitive and stronger end to the song. Regardless, I've always liked this tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although the majority of the band were from England, they had more success on the US charts than they did in the UK. While they had a succession of five multi-platinum studio albums in the US along with nine Top 10 singles, in the UK they could only manage two Top 10 albums and two Top 10 singles. Their best effort there would be Agent Provocateur, which would hit #1 as did "I Want to Know What Love Is."

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

Song#:  2252
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  55
Peak:  18
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  The duo's twelfth studio LP, Big Bam Boom, reached #5 and went double-platinum thanks to two Top 10 hits including the #1 "Out of Touch." By this point, they were on a streak of seven consecutive Top 10's and were hoping this third single from the album would make it eight. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. The song stalled just inside the Top 20 and ended their streak. It did about the same at AC getting to #17 while nicking the R&B chart at #85.

ReduxReview:  While I like this song, I don't think it was a very good single. When I think of Hall & Oates, I think of concise, hooky, fun pop that leans toward R&B and soul. This song just meanders along and doesn't necessarily draw a listener in. In fact, I didn't really pay much attention to this song until many years later when I bought an H&O compilation. However, Big Bam Boom didn't have a lot of single contenders so this may have been the best of what was left. I didn't care for the album at all. I thought the writing wasn't up to par and the production was just kind of loud and, on occasion, obnoxious. Sadly, it was all pretty much downhill from here.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although this song ended a Top 10 spree, they could take solace in the fact that twelve of their thirteen charting singles from 1981's "Kiss on My List" through to 1985's "Method of Modern Love" hit the Top 10. Five of those songs would go to the top of the chart. Combined with their previous hits from the late 70s, their fourteen Top 10's and six #1's would lead the RIAA to declare Hall & Oates the most successful rock duo in music history. It was also around this time that they took the title of the top charting duo on the Billboard Pop chart. They surpassed the previous top duo, The Everly Brothers, who had amassed fifteen Top 10's and four #1's in their career.

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"Some Like It Hot" by The Power Station

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2251
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  57
Peak:  6
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Power Station was a supergroup formed by Duran Duran's John and Andy Taylor when the band was on a short hiatus. Along with Chic's Tony Thompson and singer Robert Palmer, the new band set out to record a debut album. Chic's Bernard Edwards would serve as producer. The self-titled disc would feature this song that would serve as its first single. Duran Duran were ultra-hot at the time, so the involvement of two members of that band put a big spotlight on this project and that certainly helped the single climb into the Pop Top 10. In turn, the album would shoot up to #6 and would eventually go platinum.

ReduxReview:  Bernard Edwards produced the hell out of this track. The drums just sounded massive and the rest of the production was dense and meaty. Palmer was a perfect choice for the vocals and the hit certainly gave a big boost to his career. It led directly to his next solo album, Riptide, which was a major hit. It was all due to his involvement with Power Station. While I wasn't a big fan of the full album, this hit was one that I played a lot back in the day. It's still a pretty great track.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  While Duran Duran took a break, John and Andy Taylor wanted to branch out and do a project with a harder edged rock sound. Initially, they came up with the idea of a band that would record all the songs, but each track would feature a different lead vocalist. Apparently, feelers went out to see if stars like Mick Jagger and Billy Idol would be interested in participating. In the meantime, they asked singer Robert Palmer to record a track and he obliged by participating in the recording of the song "Communication." Palmer then found out that the band was going to remake the T-Rex song "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" and wanted to do the vocals for it. It wasn't long before they all realized that with Palmer on board there was a real connection as a band and it was decided that Palmer would stay on and become the lead singer of the band.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

"Don't Come Around Here No More" by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Song#:  2250
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  64
Peak:  13
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Following the band's tour in support their 1982 album Long After Dark, they decided to take a little bit of a break. When they got back to begin their next album, the plan was to do a conceptual double LP titled Southern Accents. However, that all changed when Petty met up with Eurythmics member Dave Stewart. Stewart had been working on a song that was potentially for Stevie Nicks (see below), but instead Stewart got hooked up with Petty and the pair hammered out this song plus two others. The three songs changed the album and although it would still be called Southern Accents, it would be a single LP minus the original concept. This first single certainly made a statement with its psychedelic feel. It was truly something different for Petty and unlike anything that was on the radio at the time. The odd track caught on and got to #2 at Rock while just missing out on the Pop Top 10. It was Petty's best performing single on the Pop chart since 1979's #10 "Don't Do Me Like That." The hit would help propel the album to #7 and it would eventually go platinum.

ReduxReview:  I liked Tom Petty well enough back in the day, but I had never bought any of his records up to this point. Southern Accents was the first one I did buy and that was based largely on this single. Of course I adored Eurythmics, so the prospects of Dave Stewart merging with Petty was pure catnip. This song was truly odd and I loved it. The skittery drum sound, the sitar, the halting background vocals ("Stop!"), and the jammin' outro made this stand out on the radio. The bizarre video for the tune just added to the atmosphere. It was something completely unexpected from Petty and it still remains an interesting and much discussed entry in his catalog.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  While stories on this song's creation vary, Stewart relayed his version via his 2016 memoir. A quick synopsis is that after a Eurythmic's gig in L.A., Stevie Nicks dropped by his dressing room and invited him back to her house for a party. It got late and Stewart stayed the night. Later in the early morning, Nicks joined him in bed and they had a little fun and Stewart left afterward. A few days later, Stewart had some time off and was invited to stay at Jimmy Iovine's house. Oddly, at the time Iovine was working with Nicks on her second album. (Stewart didn't know at the time, but Nicks and Iovine had been a couple in years prior.) Stewart played Iovine a demo of a song he had been working on. Iovine though it would be great for Nicks and called her in. Nicks arrived and began working on lyrics. When it came time to record her vocal, Iovine was not please with her lyrics. Apparently, they were oddly Shakespearean and Iovine wanted her to change some things. An argument ensued, which included Nicks blurting out that she had slept with Stewart a few days before. Nicks then took off and that left Stewart alone with Iovine and wondering what Iovine's reaction to the revelation might be. However, Iovine just shrugged it all off and told Stewart that they should get Tom Petty to come over and finish the song. Petty did and the two songwriters hit it off.  2) This song had a very memorable video filmed for it that was based off of Alice in Wonderland. It was nominated for five MTV Music Video awards, including Video of the Year, and won one for Best Special Effects. Near the end of the video, the body of the Alice character turns into a cake and the others start cutting slices and eating her. Apparently, that scene caused a little controversy with some feminist groups and also a few who thought it was too much. Despite that, the video was a hit on MTV and it certainly helped the single sell.

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"Rock and Roll Girls" by John Fogerty

Song#:  2249
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  20
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After nearly a decade without releasing any new material, Fogerty returned with his third solo album Centerfield. He was warmly greeted by fans who sent the LP's first single, "The Old Man Down the Road" to #1 Rock/#10 Pop. This second single would nearly replicate that success. It would reach #5 at Rock while making into the Pop Top 20. A week after this song debuted on the Pop chart, the album would reach #1. Although it would only remain at the top for one week, it would end up being a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  You can't get much simpler than this. Three major chords and a melody. Sometimes this old time rock formula can get tedious real quick, but luckily Fogerty wrote a melody that drew you in and kept you interested. I've never been a fan of this type of basic rock 'n' roll, but Fogerty's skill as a writer and performer held my attention on this one.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to writing all the songs and producing the album, Fogerty also played every instrument on the tracks. By this moment in time, advances in recording technology made it possible for artist to do everything themselves. For artists that relied on synths, keyboards, and drum machines, it wasn't all that difficult. Fogerty was a bit unique in that he was basically a one-man band playing guitar, bass, drums, sax, synth, etc.  2) On the inner sleeve of the album, it is printed "This album is dedicated to Gossamer Wump - and dreams that survive." Fogerty relayed in an interview that the name came from a children's record his brothers had when he was a kid. Fogerty could draw parallels between Gossamer's story and what he had been doing in the ten years following his second solo album. Apparently, the original Gossamer Wump LP issued on Capitol in 1949 is now a collector's item.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2248
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  70
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  This duo made a big splash in their UK homeland with their debut album The Hurting. It would reach #1 and spawn three Top 10 singles. In the US, their indie new wave sound didn't fully catch on with both the album and a single ("Change") only reaching #73 on their respective charts. Back in the UK, the duo recorded a new song that would introduce a new, more commercial-leaning sound. "Mothers Talk" would be issued nearly six-months ahead of their second album, Songs from the Big Chair, and it would reach #14. Then things really broke wide for them with their next single, the UK #1 "Shout." With big results posting in the UK, it was time to get the US involved. However, instead of issuing the UK hit  "Shout," it was decided that this track would be released as the first single. It seemed to be a wise move as the song slowly caught on and eventually made its way to the top of the Pop chart. It would also hit #1 at Dance, #2 AC, and #2 Rock.

ReduxReview:  Anyone who listened to or was a fan of The Hurting certainly got a surprise with Songs from the Big Chair. While I think the duo retained their basic style, Songs was a definite stab at big commercial pop/rock, which was certainly a change from the more indie-style new wave synthpop found on Hurting. For me, it was a big improvement. Although I did like a few songs on Hurting, overall I didn't connect with it. However, I did like the grander sound on Songs and the tracks were far more commercial and catchy. This first single was a perfect example. From the opening licks to the steady groove to the memorable chorus, there was no way this was going to miss. I know some folks hate it when a more indie style band goes for commercial success, but in the case of Tears for Fears, I think it was the right path and it paid off handsomely for them.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The duo re-recorded this song in 1986 as "Everybody Wants to Run the World." It was done as a benefit single for the sports-themed African famine relief effort Sports Aid. It was issued as a single and reached #5 on the UK chart. There were many exhibition sporting events held for the Sports Aid charity and the final event was a 10k run called "Race Against Time." The race was organized in 274 cities around the world and all the races were ran at the exact same time on May 25, 1986. It still remains the biggest organized sporting event that has ever taken place.  2) Singer/songwriter Lorde recorded a version of this song for the "inspired by" soundtrack to the film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It reached #27 on the Hot Rock Songs chart in 2014.

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

"Be Your Man" by Jesse Johnson's Revue

Song#:  2247
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  61
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  Johnson began playing guitar in his teens and started playing in bands in the mid-to-late 70s around the northern Illinois area where he was born. With his skills increasing, he was encouraged by a friend to move north to Minneapolis to get involved in the music scene there. He did just that in 1981 and soon after the move he met up with Morris Day and joined Day's band at the time, Enterprise. The pair would then go on to be part of the Prince protege band The Time. That band would have four R&B Top 10 hits and appear in Prince's Purple Rain film before splitting up. Johnson opted for a solo career and signed up with A&M Records. Although credited to Jesse Johnson's Revue, his self-titled debut album was basically a solo effort with Johnson writing and producing all the tracks. This lead-off single was issued ahead of the album and it caught on at R&B getting to #4 while going to #20 at Dance. The tune couldn't catch on as well at Pop, but it did spend nearly three months on the chart.

ReduxReview:  Well, Johnson certainly didn't stray far from the Prince/Time sound he had been working with for the past few years. That's not really surprising, however it just makes the song sound like an imitation instead of something new and original from Johnson. It grooves along just fine, but I just get a been-there-heard-that feeling from it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Around the same time that Johnson was prepping his solo debut, he also cut a song that would be used in the upcoming film The Breakfast Club. Co-written by Johnson, the track "Heart Too Hot to Hold" would make it into the film and on its associated soundtrack. The song was a duet with singer Stephanie Spruill. Spruill was an in-demand background vocalist who has worked with some of the biggest names in music including Tina Tuner, Luther Vandross, Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, and many other. Clive Davis signed her to Arista Records in the late 70s as part of the duo Saint & Stephanie (the Saint was singer Roger St. Kenerly). They recorded one album that was released in 1979. Unfortunately, the album didn't make an impression and it quickly disappeared. Although it seems that Johnson and Spruill's duet was issued as a single, it didn't get anywhere. Of course it was most likely overshadowed by the big #1 hit from the soundtrack, Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)."

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Friday, December 8, 2017

"'Til My Baby Comes Home" by Luther Vandross

Song#:  2246
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  29
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Vandross quickly established himself as an R&B star with three studio albums that supplied six R&B Top 10 hits. All three LP's were platinum sellers, but Vandross had yet to really break through on the Pop chart. In the same stretch of time he could only manage to get two songs into the lower rungs of the Pop Top 40. With his fourth album, The Night I Fell in Love, Vandross would still have to wait for a major Pop hit as this first single once again stalled near the Top 30 mark. However, the news was brighter at R&B where the track got to #4. It also reached #10 at Dance. The album would be his fourth consecutive #1 at R&B while getting to #19 Pop. Sales were solid and the album would eventually go double-platinum. While the LP's follow-up singles failed to reach the Pop chart, Vandross collected another #4 with "It's Over Now" and a #11 with "Wait for Love."

ReduxReview:  This blues-ish shuffle had crossover potential, but not enough to really make it a major hit at Pop. Still, it's a great song with a terrific chorus and performance by Vandross. His skills as a producer were getting better as well. Even though this track still sounds like it's from the 80s, it has a fuller sound than some of his previous efforts. He was definitely ready for a mainstream breakthrough, but it's hard to believe he wouldn't get into the Pop Top 10 for another four years.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The album would get Vandross his third Grammy nomination in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performances category. It would be his fourth overall Grammy nomination as his first one was in the Best New Artist category.  2) The album is considered among the best in Vandross' catalog and it ranked #93 on Rolling Stone's list of the Best Albums of the 80s.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

"Back in Stride" by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly

Song#:  2245
Date:  03/16/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  88
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Soul, R&B



Pop Bits:  Maze had certainly been on a roll since their debut album in 1977. Each of their five studio albums had reached the R&B Top 10 and all five were certified gold sellers. The LP's were helped along by several chart singles, including five R&B Top 10's. However, they had yet to reach #1 on either chart. That changed when this first single from their album Can't Stop the Love made it to the top spot on the R&B chart. It's success helped the album also reach #1. It seemed that the single would help break them wider to the mainstream pop audience, yet once again like their previous charting entries at Pop, the song just circled the bottom of the chart for a few weeks. It would also be their last one to reach the chart. However, that didn't deter their continued popularity at R&B. Their next album would also get to #1 and they would grab a second #1 R&B single in 1989 with "Can't Get Over You." Their last studio album would arrive in 1993 and after that the band stopped recording and stuck to being a highly successful touring act.

ReduxReview:  For the 80s, Maze might have been a little too ol' school soul to attract a pop audience. They just needed one hot crossover tune to break them through, but it never happened. Yet despite that, they had a loyal following that turned each of their studio albums into gold, which was quite an accomplishment. I think since Frankie Beverly did all the songwriting and producing, it was his show and if wasn't broke, he wasn't gonna fix it. Everything worked out fine for them, but I think they missed out on expanding their audience by not collaborating with another producer and/or songwriter. This track was another solid effort from the band. I think Beverly tried to introduce some more modern production on it, which certainly helped the song, but it's still sound like 70s soul (which is not a bad thing).

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The second single from the album was "Too Many Games" and it got the band their seventh Top R&B top 10 when it reached #5. Over the previous few years, the band had been gaining a significant following in the UK. This song would be their best charting effort there when it got to #36. However, despite the lack of hit singles there, their music and reputation as a top live act allowed the band to sell out shows in the UK including a highly successful eight-night run at the famous London venue Hammersmith Odeon.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"Forever Man" by Eric Clapton

Song#:  2244
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  64
Peak:  26
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Clapton's first album after moving over to Warner Bros. was 1983's Money and Cigarettes. Although it would be a gold album that featured the #18 Pop/#6 AC hit "I've Got a Rock 'n' Roll Heart," the label though it under-performed, so they kept a close watch on his next effort, Behind the Sun. For this album, Clapton collaborated with Phil Collins, who would serve as both a musician and a co-producer (and also a co-writer on one song). At the time, Clapton's marriage was unraveling and that led to him writing some darker songs that weren't necessarily all that commercial. When the label heard the finished product, they were not thrilled. They felt it had no songs that could be promoted commercially and rejected the album. To rectify the situation, Warner suggested Clapton record three new tunes that were written by songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams. Clapton thought the songs were good and agreed to record them. This first single from the album was one of those new tracks. It struck the right chord at Rock radio and it became Clapton's second #1 on that chart. It didn't do as well at Pop where it faltered just inside the Top 30. However, the Rock hit along with Phil Collins' involvement helped the album reach platinum sales, which was an improvement over Clapton's previous LP.

ReduxReview:  There are rare cases where I think label intervention is justified. Usually they muck things up. In this case, I believe they made the right decision. Although long-time Clapton fans were probably not happy he was being pushed in a more commercial direction, the album was kind of a downer and there was nothing much that could be used to promote it on the radio So with his last effort not doing all that well, if the LP had been released as-is, the results most likely would have been worse. It was surprising that the original version of the album had nothing commercial on it because with Phil Collins on board I figured he would bring along a couple solid pop tunes for Clapton, yet he did not. Luckily, this track came along and it gave a boost to the album. I wasn't a fan of the song, but it had some solid production and, as usual, great guitar work from Clapton.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Jerry Lynn Williams. Williams had been playing guitar backing several artists since he was a teen. In the late 60s, he was in a band called High Mountain that got an album out on Columbia in 1970 (although due to legal issues with the name, it was reissued with a new title and listed as by The Jerry Williams Group). Nothing came from the album, but it did get a deal for Williams to do his own solo album, which came out in '72. Again, no one really paid attention. A second album for Warner Bros. that was due in '79 ended up shelved. As a recording artist, Williams was just not having any luck. His career would take a turn for the better when a song from his second album got picked up by Delbert McClinton. McClinton recorded the song "Giving It Up for Your Love" and turned it into a #8 Pop hit in 1980. It helped establish Williams as a songwriter and more work would follow. In addition to the three songs he gave to Clapton, Williams wrote tunes for Bonnie Raitt (included on her Grammy-winning Nick of Time album), the Doobie Brothers, Peter Frampton,  Bobby Womack, and many others.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Roxanne, Roxanne" by UTFO

Song#:  2243
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  79
Peak:  77
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Hip-Hop



Pop Bits:  This Brooklyn quartet got started after performing as backing dancers for the hip-hop trio Whodini. They split off on their own and began UTFO, which stood for "Untouchable Force Organization." They signed on to Select Records and their first single, "Hanging Out," didn't make much of an impact. However, the record's b-side, "Roxanne, Roxanne," started to get attention and soon it was hitting the R&B chart. It would reached #10 there while getting to #40 Dance. The song generated some interest at Pop and it would end up circling the bottom of the chart for a few weeks. It would be their only Pop chart entry. The group would grab five more low-peaking R&B singles and release four more album, but nothing they would do would be as popular or as influential as this song. They would call it a day in 1992.

ReduxReview:  This is definitely some ol' school rap. I remember this song being released back in the day, but I had never heard it. Rap was rarely played in my little Midwest community. You might occasionally hear a hip-hop track through someone else who had discovered it, but it certainly wasn't a style of music that was going to be heard on our local radio stations. At least not for a while. Later on I'd have to play catch-up on a lot of older rap tunes like this one. The show Yo! MTV Raps helped out. This track is fun, but it isn't one of my favorites from the time. It just didn't stick in my brain like a lot of others. I never really understood the big deal about it and why so many other artists had to try and follow it up (see below). Yet, the song was quite influential and remains a hip-hop classic.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Pop music is not all that unfamiliar with answer (or response) songs, which is where an artist will write and record their own song in response to another artist's song. For example, Carole King wrote "Oh, Neil!" in response to Neil Sedaka's 1959 #9 hit "Oh, Carol!" Typically, just one answer song will come out. In the case of "Roxanne, Roxanne," several artists wrote their own response songs and it led to what would be known as the "Roxanne Wars." It mainly started when UTFO failed to make an appearance at a show. Some other rappers were talking about the no-show and a young 14-year-old artist named Lolita Shanté Gooden heard them and offered to write a song to get revenge on the group. They thought it was a cool idea and they recorded the track "Roxanne's Revenge." The song even prompted Gooden to change her name to Roxanne Shanté. Although the song was not a big chart hit, getting to #22 R&B, it was widely popular and it set off a storm of other artists doing their own answer songs. By the end of the year, no less that twenty-five response songs to "Roxanne, Roxanne" had been recorded. The number continued to grow in the years following. Even UTFO themselves got into the game. In response to "Roxanne's Revenge," they recorded "The Real Roxanne," which was performed by Elease Jack, who the group then dubbed The Real Roxanne. The song was issued as a single and got to #44 on the R&B chart.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

"Emotion" by Barbra Streisand

Song#:  2242
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  81
Peak:  79
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Streisand's first two singles from her Emotion album were mid-charters at Pop, but both easily reached the AC Top 10. It was decided that a third single would be issued and this title-track song would be the one selected. Produced by Richard Perry, the more upbeat tune did fine once again at AC reaching #14. However, it stumbled at Pop and could only manage a two-week stay near the bottom of the chart. While the album would be another platinum seller for her, it wasn't necessarily a hit. It stalled at #19, which was her lowest peaking non-concept pop studio album since 1969. However, her next album would turn things around in a big way and all of her studio albums from that point to the date of this posting would reach the Top 10 with six of them hitting #1.

ReduxReview:  Streisand's bid for staying relevant on the Pop chart in the 80s didn't pay off. Despite all the guest stars, name producers, and a gaggle of songwriters, the album just tried too hard to sell Streisand to a younger generation. Long-time fans, like me, bought into the album, but many were disappointed by it. I didn't think it was a very good album at all, but I do admit that there were certain songs I enjoyed and the LP was a bit of a guilty pleasure. This title-track was a fun little listen even though the song itself was fairly lackluster. Streisand tries to sell it as best as she can and indeed elevates the average tune, however it wasn't nearly enough to make this song a hit at Pop. After this album, Streisand finally set aside trying to be a charting pop star in favor of just doing what she wants. The results were far better.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The first single from the album, "Left in the Dark," saw Streisand creating her first ever video specifically for MTV and VH1. This song would be the basis for her second music video. While "Left in the Dark" featured actor/singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, this next video featured two well-known celebrities. The Who's Roger Daltry and ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov made appearances in the comedic video.  2) The background vocals on this song were performed by The Pointer Sisters. That tie-in most likely came via producer Richard Perry, who was most likely working with the Sisters on the follow-up to their hit LP Break Out, which Perry had produced.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

"Invisible" by Alison Moyet

Song#:  2241
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  83
Peak:  31
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  Moyet first became a music star as part of the duo Yazoo (aka Yaz in the US). Beginning in 1982, they reached the UK Top 10 with three singles and their #2 debut album Upstairs at Eric's would be a platinum seller. Two of their singles reached the US Pop chart, but with minimal results. Their song "Only You" did the best reaching #67. After their second album, the pair split up and Moyet signed on with CBS as a solo artist. The label suggested the production team of Steve Jolley and Tony Swain (of Bananarama fame) and the pair along with Moyet set out to co-write and record Moyet's debut album, Alf. In the UK, the LP would be a #1 smash hit thanks to two Top 10 singles. This song would be the third single in the UK (reaching #21), but for the US market it would be selected as the album's first single. The song stuck around on the chart for a good length of time, but stalled before entering the Top 30. The album would peak at #45, which was better than Yazoo's output, but a far cry from the Top 10 showings in many other countries. The album made Moyet a big star around the world, except in the US.

ReduxReview:  There are times I just want to say, "America, what is your problem?!" This absolutely should have been a big hit. This is just a delicious slice of blue-eyed soul wonderfully served up by Moyet's big voice. I swear, if this song had a modern arrangement and was sung by someone like Adele or Sam Smith, this song would be a hit. Why it got ignored back in the day is a mystery. However, I do have to admit that I even missed this song when it first came out. I remember liking it, but it just wasn't played on the radio in my area so I didn't get a chance to hook into it. I certainly did later on, along with the Alf album. It's a shame that Moyet didn't catch on here. Both she and this song deserved a better fate. Luckly, her career carried on in Europe and other places, so she has a nice catalog of albums. She released a new disc in 2017 titled Other and I think it is easily her best work. It's full of modern electro-pop tunes and shouldn't be missed.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  All songs on Alf were co-written by Moyet, Jolley, and Swain except for this one, which was written specifically for Moyet by the legendary Motown composer Lamont Dozier. Both on his own and with brothers Brian and Eddie Holland, Dozier has written and produced a plethora of hits, most of which were recorded by Motown artists throughout the 60s. Dozier helped to supply The Supremes with ten #1 records and co-wrote pop standards like "Reach Out I'll Be There" by the Temptations, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" by Marvin Gaye (and later James Taylor), and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" by the Four Tops. The Holland-Dozier-Holland team were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

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Saturday, December 2, 2017

"In My House" by Mary Jane Girls

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2240
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  7
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  The mid 80s was certainly the height of the Prince vs. Rick James rivalry. For the most part it seemed Prince didn't really care about it, but James did. With Prince having success with protege acts like The Time, Vanity 6, and Sheila E., James wanted to have his own stable of acts that he could form, write songs for, and produce. His label relented and one of his first acts to get off the ground (besides his long-standing relationship with Teena Marie) was the Mary Jane Girls. James formed the group from the four female backing singers that accompanied him on tour. Joanne "Jojo" McDuffie would serve as the lead vocalist as she had previously sang backup vocals in the studio for some of James' recordings. James would write and produce their self-title debut album. Released in '83, the album eventually went gold thanks to three R&B Top 30 hit including the #11 "All Night Long." All three tracks in a mix would reach #8 at Dance. Unfortunately, none of the songs would reach the Pop chart. James also headed up their next effort, Only for You. This first single from the album would be their first R&B Top 10 (#3) and get to #1 at Dance. It also got them on the Pop chart for the first time. It took a while for the song to catch on, but once it did the single cracked the Top 10. It would end up being their only Pop Top 40 hit. It would boost their album to #5 R&B/#18 Pop and it would be certified gold.

ReduxReview:  This is one of the best songs James did in his 80s output, including his own solo recordings. It was just a hot track that jammed along with that great synth/organ riff and steady guitar line. The production was rock solid and the vocal work by McDuffie and the Waters' was spot on. The chorus hit the mark and it was difficult to not dance when this song came on. It's a bummer that James couldn't keep this level of material up for the girls, but it nearly didn't matter because this track was so good that it was going to overshadow any other song they would release.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When James wanted to do a protege project, his initial idea was to get Jojo McDuffie signed as a solo act. However, somehow it worked out that a group would be signed and James filled out the spots with the other three backing singers/dancers from his tour. Although there were four girls assigned to the group, only McDuffie would sing on the first album. The background vocals were provided by the Waters sisters (Julia and Maxine). (The Waters sisters, along with their brothers Oren and Luther, were some of the most sought after backing vocalists in the business for both studio and tour work.) For the second MJG album, McDuffie and the Waters sisters once again did most all of the vocal work, but this time around the other three girls got to sing lead on one track each. Apparently, despite their work on tour with James and coaching, the three girl were not strong vocalists and that limited their participation in the studio. Only McDuffie had the vocal chops to really carry the songs.  2) This song made it on to the PMRC's infamous "Filthy Fifteen" list of offensive songs. The song was cited for sexual content. Although there were no explicit words said, the wink-wink "hey this song is about sex" lyrics caught the parents' group attention and they added it to their naughty list.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

"Follow Your Heart" by Triumph

Song#:  2239
Date:  03/09/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  88
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Hard Rock



Pop Bits:  This Canadian band had their peak moment in 1981 when their album Allied Forces reached #23 and went platinum. It was boosted by the #8 Rock track "Magic Power" (#51 Pop). It set them up well for their next album, 1982's Never Surrender. The LP was able to generate two Top 3 Rock tracks, but neither reached the Pop chart. Without that extra support, the album didn't sell as well and stopped at gold. While that is not a bad outcome, the band was having issues with RCA, which caused a lack of support from the label. Needing a change, the band grabbed a new deal with MCA and began work on their seventh studio album, Thunder Seven. Like their previous LP, results were fairly solid (another gold seller), yet unspectacular. The first single from the album, "Spellbound," got to #10 at Rock, but failed to reach the Pop chart. This next single got to #13 at Rock and got them back on the Pop chart, however very briefly. It would be the band's last single to reach the Pop chart. They would issue three more studio albums, two of which would go gold in Canada, but by the mid-90s their focus shifted to their tours.

ReduxReview:  Well, this certainly isn't "Magic Power." That song was hooky, melodic, and commercial enough to attract a wide audience of listeners. This song is a bit more hard rocking in a late 70s Styx kind of way via The Scorpions. It was in no way anything that was going to click on Pop radio. The opening guitar licks were promising as was the first verse, but once it got to the chorus, the song fell apart. By the end, there was just a lot of upper-register screaming vocals going on and it became grating. It's two-week stay on the chart was about two too many.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  The second side of the band's Never Surrender album featured a bit of a conceptual theme that featured a prologue and epilogue. For Thunder Seven, they once again turned side two into a more prog-rock piece where the six songs focused on various concepts of time. It included two instrumental pieces and the "Time Canon," which consisted of multiple vocal tracks layered on top of each other.

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