Friday, June 30, 2017

"Sea of Love" by The Honeydrippers

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2086
Date:  10/13/1984
Debut:  62
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After the disbanding of Led Zeppelin, singer Robert Plant wanted to take a step back and just play some good music. In 1981, he formed a band with some old friends and the proceeded to play some 50s rock and R&B songs that Plant loved as a kid. With a set list determined, the band, now called the Honeydrippers, set out on a tour of small venues, clubs, and colleges. Plant seemed to love getting back to basics, but by the time 1982 rolled around, he was ready to get back in the studio and start his solo career. That could have been it for Plant's Honeydrippers project, but later in 1984, Atlantic Records' president Ahmet Ertegun had an idea. He wanted to put together an album that consisted of remakes of some of his favorite songs from the 50s, but who would he get to record them? The answer came to him when he remembered seeing the Honeydrippers a few years earlier (Atlantic was home to Led Zeppelin and Plant). Ertegun got Plant to revive the Honeydrippers project to record a few songs. However, this time around, Plant filled the band with a-list players like former bandmate Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Paul Shaffer, and Nile Rodgers. Five of the songs recorded were assembled into an EP titled The Honeydrippers, Volume One. To promote the release, the single "Rockin' at Midnight" was issued to radio stations, but it wasn't gaining a lot of attention. However, its b-side song "Sea of Love" was getting spun and that prompted the label to issue it as the first single. The tune did very well reaching #1 at AC, #3 at Pop, and #11 at Rock.

ReduxReview:  This was never one of my favorite pop standards. I've appreciated it in later years, but it's still nothing I'd choose to bring up for a listen. That said, Plant and the Honeydrippers do a great job updating the tune while still retaining that old school 50s style sound. The arrangement helps as does the production, which makes it sound full and nearly epic. Plant's vocals fit the song well and it sounds like he enjoyed singing it.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally co-written and performed by Phil Phillips. In 1959, Phillips took the song to #1 at R&B and #2 Pop. It would end up being Phillips' only chart entry making him a one-hit wonder. That same year, UK singer Marty Wilde (father of 80s pop star Kim Wilde) recorded a version of the song and got to #3 on the UK chart. The song wouldn't hit the US charts again until 1982 when Del Shannon reached #33 with his version. Two years later, The Honeydrippers made it a big hit again.  2) Apparently, Plant was not happy when this song became a hit. His reasoning was that he thought people would begin to think of him as some kind of pop crooner rather than a rock singer. So when radio stations ignored "Rockin' at Midnight" in favor of "Sea of Love," Plant was less than thrilled. It probably didn't help matters that this became (and remains) the biggest charting hit of his career. It beat out Led Zeppelin's 1969 hit "Whole Lotta Love" by one position. However, with his solo career already in action and doing well, he needn't have worried that folks would mistake him for Perry Como. Fans understood this was a side project, not a new musical direction.


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