Saturday, June 10, 2017

"Teacher, Teacher" by 38 Special

Song#:  2066
Date:  09/29/1984
Debut:  71
Peak:  25
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The band's LP Tour de Force was their third platinum seller in a row thanks to a pair of hits that included the #1 Rock track "If I'd Been the One." Before they set out to record their next album, the band got an offer to record this tune for the comedy/drama film Teachers, which was to star Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, and Judd Hirsch. It would end up being the film's theme song and the first single from the soundtrack album, which was heavy on rock tunes by artists like ZZ Top, Bob Seger, and Night Ranger. The tune easily got to #4 on the Rock chart while finding some Top 30 action at Pop. Both the film and the song were good successes and that helped the soundtrack go gold.

ReduxReview:  If you are familiar with the songwriters of this tune (see below), once you get to the chorus you will probably be like, "yeah, that sounds about right." Although it's one of their lesser compositions (which is probably why they handed it off to someone else), it did fit 38 Special pretty well. Folks seemed to like it, but I didn't much care for it. It's just not a terribly memorable song. At least it extended the streak of hits for the band.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Here is yet another charting song written by the team of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. While the pair were in the studio prepping the songs for Adams' fourth album, Reckless, they continued to shop their extra songs to other artists. This tune was one that was demoed and sent around. It wound its way around to 38 Special and the Teachers soundtrack. Adams' original recording of the song would get issued in 2014 on a special anniversary edition of Reckless.


Friday, June 9, 2017

"Girls with Guns" by Tommy Shaw

Song#:  2065
Date:  09/29/1984
Debut:  76
Peak:  33
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  With Styx kaput, the two main singers/songwriters/rivals of the band set out on their own solo careers. Dennis DeYoung was first out of the gate with his debut single "Desert Moon," but a month later Shaw was hot on his heels releasing this single. The song would do very well at Rock getting to #6, but ended up peaking just short of the Pop Top 30. It would be Shaw's best solo effort at Pop. His debut album of the same name would sell fairly well getting to #50

ReduxReview:  DeYoung's and Shaw's musical styles were different and that ended up benefiting Styx when they were together. However, as the band aged their ideas and preferences became vastly different and that clash broke up the band. So when they released solo material, it wasn't at all surprising that DeYoung went for a more Pop sound while Shaw hooked into commercial Rock. Being a big Styx fan, I ran out and got both solo albums. I didn't much care for either album, but at the time I ended up listening to DeYoung's LP more because of "Desert Moon." These days I think Shaw's album is much more consistent and a better listen. This first single is just plain fun. That dorky synth riff sets the tone and Shaw completes it with an arena-ready chorus. Is it a song in the vein of the awesome ones Shaw wrote for Styx like "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," "Renegade," or "Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)?" No. But it's a solid tune and very non-Styx, so it worked quite well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  According to Shaw, this song nearly did not make the album. Even though it was the title-track to the album, Shaw was unhappy with the tune when it was initially finished and decided to scrap it from the track listing. However, on the last day of recording, he revisited the track and made some adjustments, including writing some new lyrics. The second version seemed to pass muster with Shaw and it not only got on the album, but became his first solo single and a Top 40 hit.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

"I Can't Drive 55" by Sammy Hagar

Song#:  2064
Date:  09/29/1984
Debut:  77
Peak:  26
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Hagar's eighth solo album, VOA, was not doing all that great due to the LP's first single, "Two Sides of Love," floundering at both Pop (#38) and Rock (#27). In need of some kind of hit to draw attention to Hagar and the album, it was decided that this rockin' track would be issued as the next single. It immediately caught on at Rock and became his third Top 10 hit on that chart at #9. Its success there along with an MTV video helped the song get Hagar back into the Pop Top 30. Although the album would only reach #32, it would end up being a long-lasting platinum seller thanks to this song.

ReduxReview:  This is probably the strongest song on VOA and I'm not sure why it didn't get released first. It's a real rock anthem with commercial appeal and a bit of law-breaking attitude. The title itself is even a catchphrase, for Pete's sake! It was bound to do well. However, I think perhaps the label thought the power ballad "Two Sides of Love" had more potential to hit at Pop and got that one out first. I think that was a mistake. Regardless, the song got out there and although it only got to #26 at Pop, it was and has been a much bigger hit than what its peak would indicate. It is arguably Hagar's most recognizable solo tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was inspired by something that happened to Hagar during a road trip. Prior to 1987, a national law kept highway speeds at 55. After many hours on a plane following a vacation to Africa, Hagar was headed to his cabin in upstate New York. Driving on a highway late at night and anxious to get to his cabin, Hagar drove a bit over the posted speed limit. A patrol car ended up pulling him over. The cop said Hagar was going 62 and that he planned on ticketing Hagar because they ticket anyone going over 60. Apparently, Hagar replied "I can't drive 55." That phrase got Hagar's musical mind going and not long after he arrived at his cabin, the song was written.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"The Allnighter" by Glenn Frey

Song#:  2063
Date:  09/29/1984
Debut:  81
Peak:  54
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  Frey got a second Top 20 hit with "Sexy Girl," the first single from his second solo album The Allnighter. Looking for another solid hit, this title-track tune was issued as the second single. Unfortunately, it couldn't do as well and the song stalled short of the top half of the Pop chart. Luckily, after a massive soundtrack hit, a third single, which was tied to a TV show, would revive the album and it would turn gold.

ReduxReview:  I was not a fan of Frey's music, so I greeted this blues-based tune with a shrug. It's an okay track, but there wasn't anything that really made it stand out. Even Rock radio ignored the tune. It was great that Frey kind of broke away from the Eagles country-rock sound, but he needed some stronger material if he was going to have more hits. He'd hit on a good formula within the next year, but before that we got some mediocre material like this.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  As Frey was trying to get established as an artist in the late 60s, he met fellow musician J.D. Souther while in Los Angeles. The pair hit it off and formed a country/folk/rock duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle. They got signed to the small Amos label and in 1969 issued a self-titled debut album. It didn't do any business and the duo broke up the following year. However, their music relationship didn't end there. After Frey joined the Eagles, Souther would co-write several songs with the band including three #1 hits = "Best of My Love," "New Kid in Town," and "Heartache Tonight." He also wrote songs for other artists like Linda Ronstadt, Dan Fogelberg, and Christopher Cross. Souther would maintain a solo career along the way and record several albums. His biggest solo hit came in 1979 when "You're Only Lonely" would reach #1 AC/#7 Pop. He would also co-write and duet with James Taylor on the 1981 #11 hit "Her Town Too."


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Love Kills" by Freddie Mercury

Song#:  2062
Date:  09/29/1984
Debut:  85
Peak:  69
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Synthpop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Music producer Giorgio Moroder's 1984 restoration of the 1927 silent sci-fi classic Metropolis was accompanied by a new soundtrack that was co-written mainly by Moroder and Pete Bellotte. It consisted of modern synthpop tunes sung by stars like Pat Benatar and Billy Squier. The LPs first single, "Here She Comes" by Bonnie Tyler," was a bit of a dud only getting to #76. Hoping to bring some life back to the soundtrack, this next single was released. Co-written and performed by Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury, the song only did slightly better than Tyler's single. It also got to #44 on the Dance chart. However, the tune was a hit in the UK where it got to #10 becoming Mercury's first Top 10 solo hit there.

ReduxReview:  Just like "Here She Comes," I don't know why this song was not a better hit. It's nearly a sister song to Queen's #16 hit "Radio Ga-Ga." One minus was that the video for the song was just scenes from Metropolis and did not include Mercury. However, it may not have mattered because Tyler shot a complete video for "Here She Comes" and it tanked. Perhaps there was just not a lot of promotion behind the songs. Or maybe because the film was a specialized project and not a box office draw the soundtrack just didn't get the attention it deserved. Whatever the case, the soundtrack was quite good and it included some gems like this one.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Although this was Mercury's first charting solo single, it wasn't his first solo recording - well, sort of. Back in 1972, Queen entered Trident studios to record their debut album. As that was going on, one of the studio's house engineers, Robin Geoffrey Cable, was working on an experiment. Cable was trying to replicate hit producer Phil Spector's famous "wall of sound" recording technique. Needing some help, Cable asked Mercury to supply some vocals for the project. Mercury decided to help out and then also brought along bandmates Roger Taylor and Brian May to do some work. They all recorded two songs, which were remakes. The first was "I Can Hear Music," a tune initially done by The Ronettes in 1966 (#100) and made more famous by The Beach Boys in 1969 (#24). The second was "Goin' Back," which was originally done by Dusty Springfield in 1966 (#10 UK). The final results were so good that it was decided a single should be released. Not wanting any confusion between the two songs and the upcoming Queen album, they created a pseudonym for Mercury. The single would be credited to Larry Lurex and released. It failed to catch on anywhere, but it did nearly chart in the US where it bubbled under the main chart at #115 for a few weeks.


Monday, June 5, 2017

"The Real End" by Rickie Lee Jones

Song#:  2061
Date:  09/29/1984
Debut:  87
Peak:  83
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After her second LP, 1981's Pirates, Jones finished up an extensive tour and found herself at a bit of a crossroads. She had become addicted to cocaine and heroin and set out to kick the drug habit. Unfortunately, that led to a bout with alcohol, which she then had to deal with. While getting her bearings, a stop-gap EP titled Girl At Her Volcano was issued. It consisted of three live tracks, four remakes, and one original tune. Released in a special 10" vinyl format, the EP got to #39. As '84 approached, Jones moved to Paris, recovered from the addictions and began to write songs for her third full-length LP, The Magazine. To announce the album's arrival, this first single was issued. Accompanying it was a video, which was her first specifically done for the MTV generation. While the song was able to get inside the AC Top 40 (#37), it couldn't do much of anything at Pop and the song disappeared after a month. It would be Jones' last song to hit either chart. Despite not having a hit, the album did pretty well getting to #44, but that was a long ways from the Top 10 peaks of her first two albums. After a five year break, Jones would return in 1989 with Flying Cowboys. It would serve as a sort of comeback for her with the album selling very well and going gold. Jones continued to record over the years and earned solid notices for her 2015 album The Other Side of Desire.

ReduxReview:  Jones is not known for writing pop singles, so it was a little surprising when this hooky tune showed up. It's probably one of the most commercial-oriented songs she's written and yet it ended up getting ignored. The song had a lot going for it including some sweet horns, a fun groove, Jones' great harmonies, and a good video. Even though it was more pop/commercial in nature, Jones' signature songwriting style was still apparent. However, it just wasn't what the kids were listening to and it kind of got the brush off. It's too bad as it's a charming and bright tune. By this point, I was already a huge fan of Jones, so I loved the song and ran to get the album when it was released. The album was both challenging and rewarding and it quickly became a favorite of mine. Jones remains one of my all-time favorite music artists.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In 1989, famous New Orleans musician Dr. John recorded an album of jazz standards titled In a Sentimental Mood. The opening track, "Makin' Whoopee!" was a duet between Dr. John and Rickie Lee Jones. The song would earn the pair a Grammy award for Best Jazz Vocal Collaboration. It was Jones' second Grammy. Her first came 1980 when she won for Best New Artist.  2) Jones' 1989 album Flying Cowboys featured the song "The Horses," which was written by Jones and Steely Dan's Walter Becker. Australian recording star Daryl Braithwaite would cover the tune for his 1990 album Rise. The song was issued as a single and went to #1 in Australia. Jones' original version got some attention later in 1996 when it was used in the hit film Jerry Maguire and included on the movie's soundtrack.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

"Slow Dancin'" by Peabo Bryson

Song#:  2060
Date:  09/29/1984
Debut:  88
Peak:  82
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Bryson scored his first Pop Top 10 with "If Ever Your in My Arms Again" (#10),  a track from his eighth solo album Straight from the Heart. It also did well at R&B (#6) and AC (#1). To follow that song up, this next track was issued as the LP's second single. Written by Bryson, the tune just couldn't catch fire and it stalled early at R&B (#35) while only spending a month on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Mostly known as a balladeer, this song and its slinky groove was a slight change for Bryson. It's a nice track and a lovely listen, but there is not much to make it stick out and be memorable. Bryson is a fine writer and he does a good job here, yet it's an album track rather that one meant to be a single. It just kind of fades into the background.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Later on in his career, Bryson turned to the stage and began performing in musicals. In addition to being in the traveling companies of shows like  The Wiz and Raisin, he also performed with the Michigan Opera Theater of Detroit in their version of Porgy & Bess.