Saturday, August 5, 2017

"Understanding" by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Song#:  2122
Date:  11/10/1984
Debut:  54
Peak:  17
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Thanks to it's appearance in the film Risky Business, Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" got a new lease on life and reached the Pop chart for a second time in '83 (#48). With that song backing an iconic moment in the movie, Seger then began fielding offers to supply music for other films. First up was this power ballad that found its way to the soundtrack to the movie Teachers. It would be the third single lifted from that album and it would do the best getting to #5 at Rock, #7 AC, and inside the Pop Top 20.

ReduxReview:  This is Seger in his classic rock mode. He's not doing anything new here, but it just sounds pleasing and comfortable, like putting on an old pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Although a lot of the young teens were not gonna gravitate towards this, it hit just right with his fans and the older rock crowd. Seger showed that even in the synthpop/new wave 80s, there was still room for his brand of rock on the charts. I wouldn't place this song among his very best, but it's solid Seger.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After this, Seger songs seemed to pop up on a lot of soundtracks. He would provide new tunes for four more soundtracks while some of his previously released songs would make it on three other soundtracks. A song Seger provided to one film would end up being the biggest hit of his career. Seger recorded the song "Shakedown" for the 1987 film Beverly Hills Cop II. The song would reach #1 and would be Seger's only song to reach the top of the Pop chart.


Friday, August 4, 2017

"The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2121
Date:  11/10/1984
Debut:  63
Peak:  5
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Henley's post-Eagles career started off strong when his gold-level debut LP I Can't Stand Still produced the #3 hit "Dirty Laundry." Two years later, he would return with the follow-up Building the Perfect Beast. To introduce the album, this first single was issued. It would immediately go to #1 at Rock and easily hit the Pop Top 10. It would also be his first solo AC entry getting to #33. The single was boosted by a popular video that was done in a French new wave-style. It would go on to win four MTV Music Video Awards including one for Video of the Year. The song would also net Henley a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and also be nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

ReduxReview:  This song was stunning when it came out. Right off the top it set a dark, groovy mood that continued throughout the song. Combine this with the noir-ish video and it was destined to be a hit. Henley would end up with two other songs that did better on the chart ("Dirty Laundry" and a #2 duet with Patty Smyth in 1992 called "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough"), but I think this was his definitive hit as a solo artist. I hear this song more than any of his other hits, especially (and obviously) in the summer months. The song is cinematic in both its tone and its lyrics. When I hear it, I feel like I am instantly transported to a dark, dusty highway where I'm driving an old convertible, contemplating life, and going nowhere in particular.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Mike Campbell and Don Henley. Campbell was a member of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and had written the music for this song for the band. When Petty heard the tune, he thought it was really good, but the style of the song was not going to fit in with the others pegged for the band's upcoming album Southern Accents. Through Petty's producer Jimmy Iovine, the song ended up over with Henley. He liked the music and wrote a set of lyrics. With Petty's blessing, Henley recorded the song and got the hit.  2) Two other artists reached the US charts with a remake of this song. Techno artist DJ Sammy went to #5 on the US Dance chart in 2002. Dutch singer Loona provided the vocals. The following year, pop-punk band The Ataris took their rockin' version to #20 on the Pop chart. It was also a #2 hit on the Modern Rock chart.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

"Heaven (Must Be There)" by Eurogliders

Song#:  2120
Date:  11/10/1984
Debut:  79
Peak:  65
Weeks:  6
Genre:  New Wave

Pop Bits:  This Australian band signed on with Polygram Records and recorded a debut album in 1982. It didn't move very many units and with the label losing interest, the band got released from their contract and signed with CBS Records. They released a couple of lower charting singles in Australia before finally completing their second album This Island. As the album was released, this next single was issued. It took off and quickly became a big #2 hit in Australia. With the album reaching #4 there, it was time to test the waters in the US. The song was pushed out and it got a good reception at Rock reaching #21. It didn't quite catch on as well at Pop and it remained in the bottom half of the chart. It was enough to sell a few copies of the album, but that would be it for the band in the US. In Australia, their luck continued for a bit and they were able to grab a couple more Top 10's and release two more albums before breaking up.

ReduxReview:  I really want to like this song better. The opening verses are really lovely, but I think it's the chorus that throws me off a bit. It kind of interrupts the pretty, flowing mood they set from the top. I think if it had a sweeter chorus that was a bit less jarring, I'd be all about it. Still, it's a nice slice of Aussie new wave that unfortunately just didn't fully catch on here.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Lead singer Grace Knight found herself with a second act music career in 1990. A mini-series based on the book Come in Spinner was being filmed in Australia and a producer on the series tapped Knight for work on the soundtrack. In addition, Knight would cameo in the movie as Lola, the local club singer. The story was set in the 40s, so Knight would be singing jazz standards. The series was a success and it spawned a soundtrack album that reached #4 on the chart. That success spurred Knight to do her own standards album. Stormy Weather was a success getting to #16. Knight would go on to record four more standards LPs.  2) What is a euroglider? Nothing! It was a name made up out of desperation. The band's original name, Living Single, had to be changed when they found out there was a UK band by the same name. With promotional materials being made for the band, they needed a new name pronto. So they did what a few other bands have done in the past. Write down some words on paper, toss them in a hat, and then draw to see what comes up. At one point the word "Euro" came up followed by "gliders." The combination of the words clicked with the band and the new name was approved.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Call to the Heart" by Giuffria

Song#:  2119
Date:  11/10/1984
Debut:  82
Peak:  15
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This band was formed by keyboardist Gregg Giuffria after departing his other band, Angel. After filling out the remaining spots, including David Glen Eisley on lead vocals, the band ended up getting signed to MCA Records. A self-titled debut LP was assembled and this first single was released. The track was a hit at Rock and made it to #3 on that chart. Pop acceptance soon followed and the tune slowly made its way into the Top 20. It would be the band's biggest hit.

ReduxReview:  Here is one that I totally forgot about. Actually, I thought Giuffria happened later in the decade, so I was surprised when this one popped up in '84. I used to refer to them as that giraffe band. This Journey-lite tune was a good crossover candidate and indeed it did do well. Band originator Gregg Giuffria spotlights his keyboards while lead singer Eisley sounds like the love child of Sammy Hagar and Steve Perry. It's a solid commercial rock tune. However, I wonder if Hagar and the Van Halen crew were listening to this song when they came up with "Dreams," as the opening of this tune reminds me of the '86 VH hit. Hmmm....

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Giuffria's former band, Angel, had some minor success, but never broke through in a big way. After being spotted by Kiss' Gene Simmons, the band got signed to Casablanca Records and issued a self-titled debut LP in 1975. At the time they were more of a glam rock band with an androgynous look. They would record five studio and two live LPs for Casablanca and grab a couple of minor Pop chart entries along the way. In 1977, "That Magic Touch" would reach #77 while the following year "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" would get to #44. Apparently, critics were not fond of the band and even some other musicians were not fans. One artist in particular either made fun of, satirized, or paid tribute to Angel's co-founder and guitarist Punky Meadows. Frank Zappa recorded the song "Punky's Whips," which was based on Zappa's drummer Terry Bozzio's obsession with Meadow's look (pouty lips and shiny hair). This song was recorded live and initially was issued on Zappa's 1978 double-LP Zappa in New York. However, Zappa's label, Warner Bros., feared some legal issues could happen surrounding "Punky's Whips" and ended up recalling stock and issuing a new version without the song. The tune later reappeared on the CD reissue of the album. Apparently, Meadows took it all in stride and didn't mind the song. It seems he actually made an appearance on stage one time at a Zappa performance.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"Supernatural Love" by Donna Summer

Song#:  2118
Date:  11/10/1984
Debut:  84
Peak:  75
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  After her remake of "There Goes My Baby" failed to ignite much interest, this opening track from her album Cats Without Claws was issued as a follow-up. The synthpop tune had difficulty right out of the gate and finished in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. It didn't do much better at R&B and Dance where the track stalled at #51 and #39, respectively. In turn, the album didn't sell and it flopped at a dismal #40, which was highly disappointing following her returning to the Top 10 with her previous album, the gold-selling She Works Hard for the Money.

ReduxReview:  While the opening of this song sounds promising, it doesn't really go anywhere. The chorus is not strong enough to really make the song stand out. Summer and her husband, Bruce Sudano, were good songwriters, but they didn't have much to offer on this album. They were lacking a solid hit. They probably should have secured one from someone else, but I have a feeling that Summer wanted to do things her own way and filled the album with her own material (save for the remake, which perhaps the label requested since there were no sure-fire hits on the LP). It's not a bad song, it is just a bit bland and not very memorable. Summer really needed some guidance here, but she either was not getting it or was resisting it (I'd believe more the latter due to ongoing issues with the label).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Summer along with producer Michael Omartian and Summer's husband Bruce Sudano. Sudano first started his songwriting career while in college. He honed his craft via Tommy James, who had taken Sudano under his wing. Together, they co-wrote the song "Ball of Fire," which became a #19 hit in 1969 for Tommy James & the Shondells. During this time, Sudano was in his own band called Alive and Kicking. James got the band signed to the label he was on, Roulette. James then gave a song to the band titled "Tighter, Tighter." The single was released in 1970 and it ended up being a #7 hit for the band. Two further singles failed to produce any results and pressure to follow up the hit took a toll on the band and they broke up. Sudano would end up with another Top 10 hit when he joined the band Brooklyn Dreams. The 1979 #4 gold record "Heaven Knows" would feature the band backing disco superstar (and future Sudano wife) Donna Summer. Sudano would release a solo album in 1981 titled Fugitive Kind, but it failed to do any business. However, that album included his version "Starting Over Again," which Sudano co-wrote with Summer. That song was a #1 country hit in 1980 for Dolly Parton.


Monday, July 31, 2017

"Love Again" by John Denver and Sylvie Vartan

Song#:  2117
Date:  11/10/1984
Debut:  88
Peak:  85
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  As pop music changed over the late 70s into the early 80s, Denver's folk/country sound was finding it hard to compete with disco, new wave, and Michael Jackson. His last significant hits came in 1975 with the #1 "I'm Sorry" and its #13 follow-up "Fly Away," which featured Olivia Newton-John. After that, Denver struggled to get anything significant on the chart. He scraped the Top 40 a few times with his last one being the #31 "Shanghai Breezes" in 1982. The following year his album It's About Time failed to score any Pop chart entries (although it did contain the #14 Country hit "Wild Montana Skies," a duet with Emmylou Harris). With diminishing returns, Denver took a break and issued a third Greatest Hits collection. In addition to featuring some of his late 70s/early 80s chart entries, the album also contained this new recording, which was issued as a single. The song was a duet between Denver and French pop star Sylvie Vartan. It wasn't able to make much headway and the singled stopped at #30 at AC while only spending a month at the bottom of the Pop chart. It would end up being Denver's final song to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Oh man. This is so old-fashioned that I'm actually shocked this got on the Pop chart. I'm assuming that was due to its time on the AC chart. This was just not going to cut in for the 80s. It's even more treacly that a lot of his 70s output. I don't know how or why Vartan got involved in this, but she really doesn't add anything here. Not even a name that would attract additional fans. Denver needed some kind of makeover to at least keep AC interested, but it never happened. He still continued to record his same standard style for the rest of his career.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Denver's next album, 1985's Dreamland Express would provide him with one last hit. The title track would click at Country radio and the song would make it to #9 on that chart. The song would get to #34 at AC to become his final charting entry there.  2) Denver did this song as a duet with Sylvie Vartan. Although virtually unknown in the US, Vartan was a major pop star in France and around Europe. She was particularly known for being a "yé-yé girl." Yé-yé was a popular style of rock 'n' roll in France and a couple of other European countries beginning in the early 60s. The genre got its name from the English "yeah! yeah!" that was often sung in early rock tunes by artists like The Beatles. Vartan had many hits over the years and continues to perform and record as of this posting. She has been knighted twice by the French government for her contributions. In 1965, she married French rock superstar Johnny Hallyday. They were France's "it" couple of the day. They would divorce later in 1980. Although Vartan and Hallyday would tour in America, neither were ever able to breakthrough on the charts. However, their son David would grab a couple of low-charting entries in the US later in the decade.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

"The Gap" by Thompson Twins

Song#:  2116
Date:  11/10/1984
Debut:  89
Peak:  69
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, New Wave

Pop Bits:  This band's Into the Gap album would be their peak moment. The double-platinum album would reach #10 and contain their biggest US hit "Hold Me Now" (#3). In their UK homeland, the album would hit #1 and boast three Top 10 hits. They tried to stretch out sales of the album a bit further by issuing this fourth single from the album. Unfortunately, it didn't really take hold and fell off the chart after a brief peak in the bottom third of the chart.

ReduxReview:  This is a solid album track and I don't think it's too bad of a single. The little Middle-Eastern riff adds a bit of exotica to it and makes the song memorable. Since it was only released in the US and a minor few other countries (see below), no video was made for the song. That was kind of unfortunate because if they had made a cool video for the tune it might have done much better. It's not a fantastic single, but it was worthy of a higher peak for sure.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In both the US and the UK, the first three singles released from Into the Gap were all the same. When it came to the fourth single, that is when things got changed up. In the UK, the fourth single was a new remix version of the album track "Sister of Mercy." It narrowly missed becoming the band's fourth straight Top 10 when it peaked at the dreaded #11. However, the band's US label apparently didn't have confidence in the darker, mid-tempo tune and decided to go for the more upbeat "The Gap." With no video to support the song, it fell a bit between the cracks and did not do well.