Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Don't Do Me" by Randy Bell

Song#:  1967
Date:  07/07/1984
Debut:  94
Peak:  90
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This singer/songwriter from the Denver, Colorado, area started writing and recording his own songs in his late teens. One of his songs, "More Than Alive" (credited to Randy Bell & Vision), was featured on an album put out by the local Denver station (KTLK) in 1980. It was part of a regional talent search contest and the voting public chose Bell as the winner. That contest was affiliated with the Miller High Life Rock to Riches contest, which Bell then became a part of. At that point, Bell went by the name of Randy Rock. He got to the finals in New York in 1982 and ended up placing second. Not long after, Bell returned to his original name and ended up in a contract with Epic Records. After some recording sessions, it was decided that this song would be Bell's first single. Unfortunately, the marketing folks at Epic decided to capitalize on Bell's good looks and tried to turn him into a teenage pin-up idol. It seems that they tried to push his image (via photos in magazines like Teen Beat) instead of his music and it just did not work. The single became a blip on the Pop chart for a few weeks and then disappeared. Along with it went Bell's deal and career. Not much could be found about him after his major label days, but it seems he ended up back in Colorado and later became a real estate agent.

ReduxReview:  This appears like a case where a label tries to turn an artist into something they are not and it fails miserably. Bell seemed to have a pretty good knack at writing rock tunes (the balance of his Epic sessions can be found on ReverbNation site), but it's like he and the label tried way to hard to make his songs modern and new wavy cool. And then they try to turn him into a matinee idol, which does not go hand-in-hand with this style of music, which was not charming, teenybopper pop. It was almost like Billy Idol and Aldo Nova had a son while listening to Berlin. Absolutely none of it worked. I've actually been witness to something like this. My college roommate was an aspiring musician and I happened to work at the production company he used. He had some good tunes, but they kind of got hijacked in a similar way and they tried to make him over into this near-goth looking singer with funky hair, black clothes, and dark makeup. It wasn't very good and it didn't get him anywhere. However, the guy had talent and I think Bell had something as well. But when caught up in the "we're gonna make you a star!" thing, it's hard to not go with it. This song is very odd and in the end, not very good. Everyone just tried too hard. Bell even uses some sort of new wave punctuated accent that is pretty bad (and the last falsetto section is awful). That said, there is a weird allure to the song. Kind of like - "I know this is really bad, so why did I just queue it up again?"

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  How serious was Epic in trying to make Bell a pin-up idol? In addition to the marketing in teen magazines, the packaging for Bell's 45-rpm single was made to be a wall poster. The front of the sleeve had the top half of Bell with big hair and an open shirt and the back of the sleeve showed his lower half in tight leather pants. Along the sides were these big yellow dashes. The idea was to cut off the folded sides of the sleeve where the yellow dashes appeared and then the sleeve would unfold into a full-body picture of Bell. Perfect for your bedroom wall! It was an interesting marketing tactic, but with neither the single nor Bell attracting attention, the gimmick didn't pay off.


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