Saturday, July 8, 2017

"Hands Tied" by Scandal featuring Patty Smyth

Song#:  2094
Date:  10/20/1984
Debut:  69
Peak:  41
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Scandal grabbed their first (and only) Top 10 hit with the title track from their full-length debut album Warrior. The track was a hit a Rock as well reaching #1 on that chart. For a follow-up, this song was chosen. Co-written by the album's producer, Mike Chapman, and Holly Knight (who co-wrote "The Warrior"), the single started off well, but then abruptly stopped at the dreaded #41 position on the Pop chart. It also just barely got locked out of the Rock Top 20 at #21. Despite the lackluster results, the album kept selling and it would eventually go platinum.

ReduxReview:  "The Warrior" was such a fun and distinct song that it was going to be a bit difficult for the band to follow it up. They needed another catchy tune if they were going to get a second Top 10. Unfortunately, this one wasn't it. The song is not bad, but it certainly doesn't rank among the best efforts of its writers (Knight and Chapman). It just didn't have a chorus solid enough to really make an impact on radio. It's a nice album track, but not a very good single candidate.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  When the superstar rock band Journey was prepping their album Frontiers, they recorded a song called "Only the Young." The tune was a contender for the album, but in the end it was set aside in favor of other tracks. Somehow, the extra track was proposed to Scandal for their use and apparently the band bought the song. They recorded the tune and included it on the Warrior album. It was possible that the song could have been issued as a single, but then Journey ended up releasing their version as a single early in '85 when it appeared on the soundtrack album to the movie Vision Quest. Journey's version would reach #9 on the Pop chart. Now, I've seen in a couple of places that Scandal was not happy with Journey releasing the song. Feeling that an agreement was breached, Scandal called out Journey and threatened legal action. It seems the dispute was quickly settled with Scandal reaping some of the rewards from the Journey hit. Whether or not this actually happened is unclear, but it does seem odd that Journey would give another artist one of their songs and then turn around and use it themselves before the other artist had a chance to do something with the song.


Friday, July 7, 2017

"Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Song#:  2093
Date:  10/20/1984
Debut:  79
Peak:  43
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Earlier in '84, this UK band released their single "Relax" in the US. Despite being a huge #1 hit in their homeland, the song didn't catch on Stateside and it initially peaked at an unremarkable #67. In the meantime, this second single was issued in the UK and it did even better than "Relax." The single debuted at the #1 spot and stayed there for nine consecutive weeks, which would end up being the longest run at #1 for a single on the UK chart in the 80s. Those results prompted a US release for the song. The tune caught on at Dance where it peaked at #3. At Pop, the news was a little better than "Relax," but it still failed to get inside the Top 40 (#27 Rock). However, with this song getting the band attention in the US, interest would be drawn back to their first single and soon they would have a major 80s hit on their hands.

ReduxReview:  This is a pretty epic tune. The production by Trevor Horn was outstanding. It's urgent, ominous, and bold. What's weird is that I thought this came out after "Relax" had become a hit on its second run. I also thought it was a bigger hit. I would have said it went Top 10, but it didn't even come close. Or maybe I just wished it had gone Top 10. It really should have. It was a big hit all over the world except for the US. But some things that catch on in places like Europe, don't necessarily transfer to a US audience. Frankie would end up being kind of one-hit wonderish here while in the UK they topped the singles chart three times in a row. The band didn't last long, but they certainly put their stamp on the 80s.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  With the Cold War at its height around this time period, the song was timely and its theme was greatly highlighted in the accompanying video. Actors portraying two of the big Cold War players, US President Ronald Regan and Russian leader Konstantin Chernenko, were set up in a ring and prompted to do a wrestling match in front of an eager crowd. The fight ends up in chaos and eventually the world comes to an end. Apparently, there were a few graphic scenes in the original video and in order to get it on MTV, the video had to be edited. One scene in question had Regan trying to bite off a chunk of Chernenko's ear.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

"I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister

Song#:  2092
Date:  10/20/1984
Debut:  80
Peak:  68
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  This band scored a big MTV hit with the video for their song "We're Not Gonna Take It." Its success helped the song reach #21 Pop and #7 Rock. Up next was this follow-up single that was driven by another successful video. Unfortunately, it didn't quite catch on at radio as well as the first tune and it stopped early at Rock (#35) and at Pop. Still, the songs and videos helped sell records and eventually the associated album, Stay Hungry, would be a triple-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  While this song has an arena-ready chorus, it's just not nearly as catchy or memorable as their previous hit. In fact, it gets a little repetitive and tedious by the end. The video was fun, so MTV'ers ate it up, but when it came time to listen to the song without the video, many folks passed on it (as I did). The band performs it well, but it could have used some better production. I think it would have sounded much better if someone like Robert "Mutt" Lange (Def Leppard) had produced it. He would have added a lot more depth and muscle to the tune, which it needed because the song was a bit slight to begin with. As-is, it didn't really make me wanna rock.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Founding member and guitarist of the band Jay Jay French (real name John French Segall) did a remake of this song years later in 2008 with his own band. As a supporter of presidential candidate Barack Obama, French decided to remake the song as "I Want Barack." For the lead vocal, French brought aboard Paulie Z. from the band Z02. A video for the song was shot and it was credited to Jay Jay French & Friends. So why didn't Twisted Sister just do the song? French mentioned in an article that his band mates were divided when it came to the election. Therefore, he decided to do the song out on his own and keep it separate from Twisted Sister.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

"Edge of a Dream" by Joe Cocker

Song#:  2091
Date:  10/20/1984
Debut:  83
Peak:  69
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Nearly two years after Cocker scored his first (and only) #1 hit with the Grammy-winning soundtrack duet "Up Where We Belong" (with Jennifer Warnes), he got back to work and recorded his ninth studio album. Titled Civilized Man, it would be his first effort for his new label, Capitol. Unfortunately, none of the LP's singles caught on and the album came and went rather quickly. But his success with "Up Where We Belong" led to other soundtrack appearances and after the singles were exhausted from Civilized Man, this song that he did for the Teachers soundtrack got pushed out. Although it got him back on the Pop chart, it didn't do all that well stalling at #69. It did a little better at AC reaching #31.

ReduxReview:  While this is not a bad song, it's not a great one either. Adams and Vallance (see below) were spittin' out songs left and right during this period and the ones done by other artists were not among their finest work (which is probably why they sold them off). I think the problem with this one is that it needed to be a rock anthem. Instead, it got arranged in an AC/"Up Where We Belong"/inspirational fashion and it didn't work. This needed a more epic arrangement with Cocker blowin' it out. Even then, the song itself was not stellar so it may not have made much of a difference anyway.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Like the main theme song to the movie, "Teacher, Teacher" performed by 38 Special, this song was also written by the team of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Adams' original demo version of "Teacher, Teacher" would see the light of day later on a reissue of his hit album Reckless, but to this date, a version of "Edge of a Dream" has yet to be released. However, Adams did appear as a background vocalist on a version done by UK singer Helen Hoffner. He also co-produced the recording. It was issued as a single in 1993 in a few European countries before getting added as an extra track to her self-titled debut LP, which had previously been released in 1992. That album went to #2 in Finland and a single from the album, "Summer of Love," made it to #1 in Norway. (I checked out "Summer of Love" and it is a very tasty single - highly recommended.)


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"All I Need" by Jack Wagner

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2090
Date:  10/20/1984
Debut:  88
Peak:  2
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  In 1983 after Rick Springfield's music career took off, he ended up leaving his role on the daytime soap General Hospital. In the meantime, a young character named Blackie Parris (played by John Stamos) decided to start a band. He needed a lead singer and a new character named Frisco Jones filled that role. Jones was played by actor Jack Wagner. Although a music career wasn't Wagner's focus, he was a musician and had been playing guitar since he was a teen. It helped him land the role of Frisco Jones and a side story about the band was born. Impressed by Wagner's singing and smelling some more crossover potential ala Rick Springfield, an exec at ABC got Wagner a record deal with Quincy Jones' label. A few songs were recorded and this first single got released. Although there was no video for the song, the single began to slowly catch on and climb the Pop chart and finally landed at #2 for a couple of weeks. It also reached #1 on the AC chart. Unfortunately, Wagner wasn't able to capitalize on the song in the same way that Springfield did and it would be his only major hit. Despite having two other low-peaking singles to reach the Pop chart, this one hit got Wagner tagged as a one-hit wonder (#70 on VH1's list of the Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s).

ReduxReview:  Yeah, I have to admit two things. I watched GH back in the day and I also fell for this song. I think it's a well-written song and I particularly like the chord progression and melody in the chorus. Wagner turns in a good performance and makes it sound easy, which it's not. That chorus is difficult to sing. It soars pretty high within just three notes. If you don't have the range, you ain't gonna make it. Weirdly, I've heard this massacred via Karaoke a few times. Although Wagner was a good singer/musician, I think it was more like a side hobby rather than a profession. Usually when that is the case, the results tend to be one-hit wonder-ish, which it was for him. Regardless, he left behind one of the better ballads of the 80s.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia: This song was co-written by David Pack, Glen Ballard, and Clif Magness. Pack was already a successful artist/songwriter with his band Ambrosia. Ballard and Magness were up-n-coming songwriters and producers who were beginning to have success. Each would later help two young artists with their breakthrough albums. Magness would co-write and produce several songs for Avril Lavigne's 2002 debut album Let Go. Ballard would co-write and produce Alanis Morissette's Grammy-winning 1995 album Jagged Little Pill.


Monday, July 3, 2017

"Sex Shooter" by Apollonia 6

Song#:  2089
Date:  10/20/1984
Debut:  89
Peak:  85
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After Prince's protégé trio Vanity 6 released their 1982 debut LP, work began on their follow-up album. In addition, lead singer Vanity was going to co-star with Prince in his film project Purple Rain. But then Vanity unexpectedly left the Prince camp and that left both Vanity 6 and the film role in flux. Prince then hired actress Patricia Kotero for the film and dubbed her Apollonia. With Vanity gone, he put Kotero in the lead of the trio and renamed them Apollonia 6. They recorded some songs and the tune "Sex Shooter" would be used for the trio's appearance in Purple Rain. Although it would not be part of the official soundtrack, the song was then used as the lead single from the trio's self-titled debut album. Despite being featured in the movie, the song didn't do all that well. It only managed a #19 showing at R&B and #32 at Dance while scraping the bottom of the Pop chart. The album would come out soon after, but it disappear fairly quick. It would be their only album and charting single.

ReduxReview:  Okay, so Prince is brilliant. But even brilliant folks have their share of misfires and this one certainly was. It's no wonder that Prince didn't want the credit on this or the other songs on the album (see below). This is just tired Prince. It's like he ran out of ideas for a minute and this was the result. Prince can usually be fun when he gets all sexy, but even the lyrics on this one are beyond silly. It sounds like a product from a Prince wannabe. However, it matched the trio just fine because it was as dull and as uninteresting as they were. If anyone else wrote and performed this song, I'd still dislike it. However, knowing that it came from Prince just makes it worse.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This album would later be more famous for what was not on it. Although the credits on the album stated that the songs were written by various members of the trio, they apparently were actually written by Prince (who also played most all of the instruments). As sessions for the Apollonia 6 album began, Prince had already written some songs that he intended for the project. However, he later changed his mind on some of them and the songs went to other artists. Those songs included "Manic Monday," later a hit for The Bangles, and "The Glamorous Life," a Top 10'er for Sheila E. Another tune titled "17 Days" Prince kept for himself and put it on the b-side to "When Doves Cry."  2) Since this song was in Purple Rain, it was eligible for film awards and it did get a nomination. Just not the one they wanted. The song was given a Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie) nomination for Worst Original Song. It lost to the Sylvester Stallone song "Drinkenstein" from the flop film Rhinestone.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

"Satisfied Man" by Molly Hatchet

Song#:  2088
Date:  10/20/1984
Debut:  90
Peak:  81
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Southern Rock, Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  Molly Hatchet came onto the scene in 1978 with their brand of hard Southern rock headed up by singer Danny Joe Brown. After two successful albums, Brown left the band and singer Jimmy Farrar took over. The band's next two LPs had a more commercial-leaning sound and many fans were not pleased with this direction. For their fifth album, No Guts...No Glory, they brought back Brown to take the lead and went back to the sound that made them famous. Despite some positive feedback, the album couldn't recapture their main audience and it failed to reach gold level sales. In an about-face, the band (still led by Brown) reverted back to a more slick, commercial rock sound for their next LP, The Deed Is Done. The more radio-friendly material, like this first single, suited Rock radio and the tune made it to #13 on the chart. It also crossed over to Pop for a few weeks. In doing so, it became the band's last song to hit the Pop chart. Another track from the album, "Stone in Your Heart," did a little business at Rock and got to #26. Yet despite the airplay, the album sold poorly and halted at a low #120. It would be their last studio album to reach the chart (a 1985 live album would get to #130). The band continued to record albums over the years, but their main business was their successful live shows.

ReduxReview:  This nearly has MTV written all over it. It makes me wonder if they were looking at ZZ Top's success and trying to put their own spin on it. They even include synth part similar to what ZZ Top did - a first for the band. There are just certain parts of it that bring to mind something like "Sharp Dressed Man." I actually kind of like the song, but when you put it next to something like the band's signature tune "Flirtin' with Disaster," it just lacks the hard rockin' boogie style that made them famous. I can see this being very disappointing for fans, but if anyone else beside Molly Hatchet did this song, folks might have been more on board with it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After Danny Joe Brown first left Molly Hatchet in 1980, he formed his own band. The Danny Joe Brown Band would sign to Epic Records (Molly Hatchet's label) and issued a debut album in 1981. A song from the album, "Edge of Sundown," would do well at Rock getting to #12. However, the album didn't sell and following a tour, Brown returned to Molly Hatchet.  2) This song was written by Tom DeLuca and Tom Jans. Jans was a singer/songwriter whose biggest success was the song "Loving Arms." It was originally recorded by Dobie Grey in 1973. The single went to #61. Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge recorded it as a duet the following year and the single briefly got on the chart at #86. That same year, Elvis Presley recorded the song and included it on one of his albums. After Presley died, his posthumous album Guitar Man included the song. It was issued as a single and it reached #8 on the Country chart in 1981. Jans died earlier in 1984 from a drug overdose prior to this Molly Hatchet single being issued. Jans was friends with singer/songwriter Tom Waits, who decided a song to Jans on his 1992 LP Bone Machine. The tune "Whistle Down the Wind (for Tom Jans)" would be a track on that classic album.