Saturday, September 2, 2017

"I Wanna Go Back" by Billy Satellite

Song#:  2150
Date:  12/08/1984
Debut:  82
Peak:  78
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Oakland, California, band got on the charts with their first single, "Satisfy Me." It got to #30 Rock and #64 Pop. It was taken from their self-titled debut album as was this second single. Unfortunately, it couldn't find an audience and after a few short weeks the song disappeared. Although the two singles and the album were not exactly big sellers, their label (Capitol) sent them off to make a new LP, which they did. However, changes at the label caused the LP to get shelved and the band dropped. The band would break up in the wake of the disappointment. Their second album remained vaulted until it finally saw the light of day in 2016 as Billy Satellite II.

ReduxReview:  It's amazing what can be done with a song when it gets done by an experienced artist and producer with a big budget. There was potential in this Billy Satellite original and Eddie Money certainly tapped into it (see below). The band's original is much more subdued and never really takes off. It's kind of a bland mid-tempo ballad. You can hear that there was something good in the song, especially with the chours, but the production and arrangement just lacked any zeal. It's not a bad record, but when you hear Eddie Money's take, the difference is nite 'n' day.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song certainly wasn't a big hit for the band, but another artist would make it one in a couple of years. Eddie Money would record a version of this song for his 1986 album Can't Hold Back. The track would be issued as the LP's second single and it would get to #3 Rock and #14 Pop. The song was also recorded by former Journey keyboardist Gregg Rolie for his 1985 debut solo album. It was not issued as a single.


Friday, September 1, 2017

"Don't Wait for Heroes" by Dennis DeYoung

Song#:  2149
Date:  12/08/1984
Debut:  86
Peak:  83
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  DeYoung scored his first (and only) Pop Top 10 post-Styx solo hit with "Desert Moon." It was the first single from his debut solo album of the same name. For a follow-up, DeYoung had a track in mind that he wanted out next, but his label (A&M) wanted this more theatrical album opener to be issued. The label got its way, but it might have been the wrong choice. The tune was unable to find an audience and ended up disappearing from the Pop chart quickly. It was unable to chart at Rock. A third single, "Dear Darling (I'll Be There)," was released, but got nowhere. The album would reach #24, but without the support of additional hits, the album stopped short of the gold mark. DeYoung's multi-platinum days with Styx didn't transition over to his solo career.

ReduxReview:  The theatrical side of DeYoung comes out in this song. It sounds like something that would have been heard in The Karate Kid or some other against-the-odds 80s flick. It also wouldn't be out of place in a odd Broadway rock musical. It certainly was not a good choice for a single. It probably would have been better if "Dear Darling" was issued instead. It was a far stronger single choice from an album that had very few good candidates. I wasn't a fan of this song when it came out and it hasn't improved with age.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Another track on the album titled "Please" was done in a duet with singer Rosemary Butler. Butler first began her music career in a couple of all-female bands including the hard rock outfit Birtha. That band got signed to Dunhill Records and issued two albums in 1972 and 1973. Despite having a good following, it didn't translate into album sales and the group disbanded in 1975. Butler then became an in-demand backup singer and worked with artists like Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, and many others. In 1983, Butler embarked on a solo career and recorded an album for Capitol titled Rose. Unfortunately, it didn't get anywhere, but her session singing was still going strong and DeYoung pegged her for the duet.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Eye on You" by Billy Squier

Song#:  2148
Date:  12/08/1984
Debut:  89
Peak:  71
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Squier's album Signs of Life would be his third platinum seller. It did well thanks to the #1 Rock hit "Rock Me Tonight" (#15 Pop). He might have had another multi-platinum LP like his previous two had the follow-up singles done better. This third one stalled at Rock at #29 while circling the basement of the Pop chart for a couple months. The lack of support curtailed album sales and kept it at platinum level. That's not bad at all, but unfortunately it would be his last album to receive any kind of sales certification. It was all downhill from here.

ReduxReviewSigns of Life was not a good album. The three singles from the LP, including this one, were about the best Squier had to offer. Yet even with this one, it nearly becomes iffy due to all the fancy synth accoutrements. Producer Jim Steinman and Squier were not a match made in heaven. I just don't think Steinman knew how to produce a straight-ahead rock tune. He just fiddle with stuff too much, which is apparent on this song. It's not a bad tune and actually parts of it sound like something Robert Plant might have done for one of his solo efforts. However, it's not a great single and it pretty much tanked.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Signs of Life album was produced by Jim Steinman and on two tracks Steinman brought in some of his cohorts to supply backing vocals; Rory Dodd and Eric Troyer. Dodd got some attention a couple years earlier due to his backing vocals on the #1 Bonnie Tyler hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart," which was written/produced by Steinman. Troyer had also worked with Steinman previously, but before their meeting he had attempted a solo career. He didn't make it big, but he did at least get one song on the Pop chart. "Mirage" would scrape the chart at #92 in 1980.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"Tragedy" by John Hunter

Song#:  2147
Date:  12/08/1984
Debut:  90
Peak:  39
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Hunter honed his skills in the 70s playing Chicago clubs with his band Hounds (see below). After that band split, Hunter spent time songwriting and figuring out his next move. He decided to try again for music stardom, but this time he was going to do it on his own. He recorded a demo and then began shopping it to labels. Clive Davis at Arista bit first and it seemed like Hunter was set to join the roster. Unfortunately, someone he brought in to negotiate the deal screwed things up and it all fell through. Undeterred, he soldiered on and soon he was picked up by Private I Records, which had distribution through Columbia (his former band's label). Hunter then readied his debut solo album Famous at Night. This first single was issued and it did pretty well breaking into the Pop Top 40. Unfortunately, none of the follow-ups could get on the chart. The single did well enough for Private I to flip the bill on another LP and in 1986 Hunter issued More Than Meets the Eye. It came and went quickly, as did Hunter's contract.

ReduxReview:  This had a very brief stay in the Top 40, so I'm not surprised that I don't remember it. Although, if I had heard it a few times, I'm still not sure I'd remember it. The song is actually quite good and I like the chorus, but I don't think it was strong enough to really make headway on the chart. A mid-tempo rock tune was gonna have a hard time cutting through the din of synths, new wave, and hard rock. I think it did about as well as it could.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Hunter founded and fronted the Chicago band Hounds. They were popular on the club circuit and eventually it led them to a deal with Columbia Records. Their debut LP, Unleashed, was issued in 1978. The first single from that album, a remake of The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb," failed to hit the Pop chart, but did bubble under at a low #110.  That didn't really excite Columbia, but somehow the band was able to record a second album titled Puttin' on the Dog. It performed worse than their debut and that was enough for Columbia. The band was sent packin' and soon after they broke up.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Loverboy" by Billy Ocean

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2146
Date:  12/01/1984
Debut:  56
Peak:  2
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  After years of trying to get a big breakout hit, Ocean finally did it with "Caribbean Queen," the first single from his fifth album Suddenly. The song was a smash hitting #1 Pop, R&B, and Dance. He followed it up with this next single, which would become his second to top the Dance chart. He nearly did the same at Pop, but got blocked at the #2 position. The tune was less successful at R&B where it could only get to #20.

ReduxReview:  I didn't care for this song when it came out. Although I enjoyed the mysterious opening and verse, I wasn't a fan of the chorus. It was actually a good one that folks remembered, but I just didn't like it. I chose to ignore the tune because of it. The song sounds better these days and it is hard to deny the hook. It's not a favorite of mine, but I don't mind it so much these days.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Ocean's given name is Lester Sebastian Charles. He was born in Trinidad and later moved with his family to England. When he started his music career, he used the name Les Charles. He recorded a couple of singles early in the 70s, but neither panned out. He then fronted a band called Scorched Earth. They also recorded a single that resulted in very little attention. After a couple of years with them, he decided to attempt another solo career. This time around he chose to go by the name Billy Ocean. The initial story for how he got his new last name was that it came from the place where he had been living at the time in the UK, Ocean Estate, however in an interview Ocean said that wasn't correct. He apparently took it from a football team called Oceans 11 from his home country Trinidad and Tobago. He recorded his debut self-titled album in 1976 and grabbed a minor Pop chart entry with "Love Really Hurts Without You" (#22). It would take another eight years before he would take the charts by storm.


Monday, August 28, 2017

"Love Light in Flight" by Stevie Wonder

Song#:  2145
Date:  12/01/1984
Debut:  64
Peak:  17
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Wonder got one of the biggest hits of his career with "I Just Called to Say I Love You," a song taken from the soundtrack to the film The Woman in Red. It spent three weeks atop the Pop chart while also getting to #1 at AC and R&B. For a follow-up this song from the soundtrack was issued. It wasn't nearly as popular, but it did reach #10 AC and #4 R&B while getting inside the Pop Top 20.

ReduxReview:  While I wouldn't say this is a lost gem, it is a good Wonder song that has long been forgotten. It grooves along well and I like its minor tone. Each section of the song is pretty solid, but the drawback is that there is no real chorus here. I guess the "make me feel like paradise" part might be considered the chorus, but even it changes a bit during certain sections. Even the title of the song is mainly relegated to the background. Yet despite not having a catchy chorus, the song is one of Wonder's better latter-day efforts.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Another tune from the soundtrack album, "Don't Drive Drunk," was issued as a single in many countries. In the US, it appeared only as a 12" single. The song charted in a minor few countries with the best being a #20 appearance on the Netherlands chart. Although not popular in the US, some folks may remember the song due to its appearance in a TV spot. The Ad Council joined up with the US Department of Transportation to do a series of TV PSA's that focused on drunk driving, especially targeting teenagers. Wanting a hooky jingle that would attract a younger crowd, the Council thought it might be interesting to get Stevie Wonder involved. Wonder obliged and wrote "Don't Drive Drunk." He also took it step further by filming a video for the song that would also be used in the PSA. Although Wonder was blind and obviously didn't drive, that fact didn't stop the marketing folks from spinning it into a different angle. For print ads that featured Wonder, he is quoted as saying, "Before I'll ride with a drunk, I'll drive myself." The tune then did double duty by appearing on The Woman in Red soundtrack.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

"In Neon" by Elton John

Song#:  2144
Date:  12/01/1984
Debut:  71
Peak:  38
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  John got his third platinum album of the 80s with Breaking Hearts. It featured two Top 20 singles including the #5 "Sad Songs (Say So Much)." To keep the momentum going, this third single was issued. It had a bit of a difficult time breaking into the Pop Top 40, but it did well at AC where it reached #11.

ReduxReview:  This waltz-ish ballad nearly has a country feel to it. I'm surprised this wasn't marketed to country radio. Perhaps it was, but it didn't chart. This is a good song, but the chorus really outshines the balance of the song. I always remember the chorus, but tend to forget the rest of it. As a single, it is just okay. I'm surprised it was able to make the Top 40, but the action at AC most likely helped it along.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  A track from this album supplied John with his fourteenth Grammy nomination. The album opener "Restless" got John a nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Unfortunately, like his previous nominations, John would go home empty handed. He would finally win his first Grammy in 1987 with his sixteenth nomination. He would be a part of the winning vocal team that sang "That's What Friends Are For" (with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight). Together they would win a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. John would keep racking up the Grammy nods over the years and would end up taking home four more awards.