Saturday, September 30, 2017

"Knocking at Your Back Door" by Deep Purple

Song#:  2177
Date:  01/05/1985
Debut:  76
Peak:  61
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:   This UK band first got noticed in 1968 when their version of Billy Joe Royal's 1967 #52 single "Hush" reached #4 on the Pop chart. They had some trouble following it up, but came out swingin' in 1972 with their classic LP Machine Head, which featured the #4 rock standard "Smoke on the Water." After that, the band struggled with personnel changes and despite some solid selling albums, they split in 1976. Eight years later, members of what is considered the classic line-up of the band decided to reform. They signed with Polydor (Mercury for US distribution) and recorded the album Perfect Strangers. The return of the band was greeted warmly by Rock radio and three tracks from the LP made the Top 20 including this #7 hit. The success of this single at Rock allowing it to slip over onto the Pop chart for a few weeks. It would be their final single to do so. The album would get to #17 and eventually go platinum. It would be their last significant hit album in the US. The band has continued on in various forms over the years and has recorded albums along the way. Although their popularity died off in the US, they remained successful in Europe. Their 20th studio album, Infinite, was released in 2017 and hit #6 on the UK chart and #1 in both Germany and Switzerland.

ReduxReview:  Of course I knew both "Hush" and "Smoke on the Water," but that was about the extent of my knowledge of Deep Purple. Years later I became familiar with Machine Head, but I really wasn't a fan of the band. The return of the band escaped me, although for some reason I remember the album's cover. Their sound for the 80s certainly had a more commercial-leaning AOR sound that served them well at Rock radio. I didn't really care for it. This song is just eh for me. I don't find it very memorable. Neither apparently did the PMRC who seemed to have no issue with the very thinly veiled sexual reference in the title.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The return of Deep Purple to the US charts was significant for their tour. In addition to old fans welcoming the band back, the album brought them new fans. There was a demand for tickets to their tour stops and the band even had to add shows. After the box office sales were calculated for the 1985 tour season, Deep Purple's tour was the second highest grossing of the year behind Bruce Springsteen's.


Friday, September 29, 2017

"Rockin' at Midnight" by The Honeydrippers

Song#:  2176
Date:  01/05/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  25
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Jump Blues, R&B, Rock

Pop Bits:  This Robert Plant-led side project ended up with a left-field hit via their remake of the 1959 tune "Sea of Love." It was taken from their debut EP The Honeydrippers, Vol. One as was this second single, which was originally the a-side to the "Sea of Love" single until stations started to play that b-side. For it's second go-around, the new single then featured "Young Boy Blues" for the b-side. The song did well at Rock where it got to #8 and Pop responded fine sending it into the Top 30. Although the success of the singles and EP prompted Plant to announce that a full follow-up album would be recorded, it never was. The EP remains the only recording done by the band.

ReduxReview:  This early R&B tune gets a nice update by the band. Every now and then a revival of a song like this will pique the interest of a younger generation. It's great because some of them will look back at the original artists or more songs in the same style. Singles like this help keep alive the sounds of yesteryear. This is just a fun song and it's hard to not start dancing while this is on. It's not the most inspired cover, but it sounds like they were having fun and Plant brings the song across the finish line quite well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song written by bluesman Roy Brown in 1949. It was essentially a sequel to Brown's 1947 song "Good Rocking Tonight." That song was Brown's first single and it got to #13 at R&B. Brown originally offered the song to blues/R&B star Wynonie Harris, who initially turned it down. While Brown's version was shaping up to be a hit, Harris then decided to record the tune. His version reached #1 in '48. Brown got a bit of revenge later when his sequel song "Rockin' at Midnight" made it to #2 the following year. The Honeydrippers would revive the tune nearly 35 years later. Also to note, Elvis Presley covered "Good Rocking Tonight" in 1954. It would be issued as his second single following "That's All Right." It would not chart, but the single would eventually be a gold seller.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Yo, Little Brother" by Nolan Thomas

Song#:  2175
Date:  01/05/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  57
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance, R&B

Pop Bits:  Teenager Mark Kalfa got involved in the arts at an early age and soon began to pursue a career in music. Producers Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa (of Shannon's "Let the Music Play" fame) had a song in the can ready to go and after stumbling upon Kalfa, got him signed to Mirage Records and work began on a music video for the song and a debut LP. Kalfa also got a name change to Nolan Thomas. This first single was issued and it got a little attention on three charts. It did the best at R&B where it got to #26. It also got to #39 at Dance and near the Top 50 at Pop. A follow-up single titled "Too White" failed to do anything. A third single, a remake of The Osmonds 1970 #1 hit "One Bad Apple" (which featured a new rap section) did get to #48 at R&B. The results were not all that great and Thomas' music career came to a halt. He recorded some songs later in the decade under the name Marko Kalfa, but nothing came from them. Kalfa left music and later got involved in fashion and design.

ReduxReview:  Well, this certainly isn't "Let the Music Play." At first I really though this tune was total crap, but I think that was because I watched the is-it-so-bad-it's-awesome video (um, it's not awesome). Without that distraction, I listened again and there are a couple good things going on. The Liggett/Barbosa production is spot-on and the chorus is pretty solid. I still don't think it's a very good song, but once I ignored the video it wasn't all that bad.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although Thomas got the credit for this song, apparently he did not actually perform the lead vocal on the track. Liggett and Barbosa recorded it with singer Elan Lanier. However, it seemed that the powers that be didn't think Lanier was marketable as an artist. That's when Thomas entered the picture. His image seemed ripe for potential teenage pin-up stardom. But with the single completed and ready to go, it was decided to leave in Lanier's voice and then let Thomas take the credit and star in the video for the song. The video became a bit famous in some circles due to its bad lip syncing and a cast of kids that were imitating hot music artist of the time like Prince, Billy Idol, and Cyndi Lauper. Thomas would do all the vocal work on the remaining tracks for his debut album, but he was really just the face for this one. Lanier would continue to work in music doing background vocals for artists in the studio and on tours. In later years, this type of switcheroo would results in lawsuits (Martha Wash not getting credit for her work on C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat" and Zelma Davis miming the part in the video) and rescinded Grammys (Milli Vanilli).


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"Friends/Five Minutes of Funk" by Whodini

Song#:  2174
Date:  01/05/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  87
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Hip-Hop, R&B, Rap

Let the new year being!  Welcome to the charts of 1985!

Pop Bits:  This Brooklyn trio was formed in 1981 and they quickly got the attention of Jive Records (Arista), who signed them to a deal in '82. Their self-titled debut album came out the following year and although it didn't chart, they did make some inroads at R&B with a pair of mid-charting singles including the #11 Dance track "Magic's Wand." Jive hung on to the trio and they proceeded to create their second LP titled Escape. At first, the album got off to a slow start with the first two singles making minor headway on the R&B chart. But things turned around quickly when this third single was released. The a-side, "Friends," took off at R&B and it became their first Top 10 reaching #4. The b-side "Five Minutes of Funk" caught some airplay and eventually the single was listed as a double-sided hit. It's popularity allowed it to leak over onto the Pop chart for a brief few weeks. It also got to #25 at Dance. The hit significantly helped the album and it got to #5 R&B and #35 Pop. Eventually it would be certified platinum.

ReduxReview:  While I was not familiar with the song, I did know the second single from the album "Freaks Come Out at Night," which got to #43 at R&B. I'm surprised that track didn't do better on the chart at the time, however I think it gained in popularity once the album caught on with this single. While "Freaks" was fun, this one is more on the serious side and it works very well. It has an addictive electro-groove, a good chorus, and a solid rap. Whodini were terrific at combining elements of hip-hop and R&B and their style would influence a lot of artists.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The first single from their debut album, "Magic's Wand," was originally penned to be an advertisement for NYC hip-hop radio DJ Mr. Magic. The trio would expand on it and record it for their first album. The song was co-written and co-produced by electro-music pioneer and one-hit wonder Thomas Dolby ("She Blinded Me with Science"). The track has become one of the group's most sampled songs.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Milestone! 1984: The Year in Review

This officially marks the halfway point in the project! Five years down, five more to go! The first half of the decade consisted of 2,173 songs. The second half should be similar, so I still have a long way to go. However, I'm looking forward to it!

Oh 1984 - the year I loved! And it didn't disappoint. I think it was my peak year of buying charted songs. Out of the 51 chart weeks, for 10 of them I owned the complete Top 10 song. For 15 weeks, I owned 9 of the Top 10. It was just a fantastic year for pop music and it contained some of the best albums of the decade including Purple Rain and Born in the U.S.A. Plus it included the return of Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper hitting her stride. Former Eagles Don Henley and Glenn Frey were scoring hits while Van Halen jumped to a new high and U2 hit the Top 40 for the first time.

There will still be some great stuff ahead in 1985. Many of the hits from that year signaled what was to come for the remainder of the decade. The music changed rapidly throughout the 80s and the mid-decade year was an appropriate transition span. Hair metal would be on the rise as would be the dance sounds from the Stock-Aitken-Waterman production team. There would be more movie hits and rap would start getting more attention. It should be another excellent year to explore.

I'm still enjoying this project and I hope anyone who encounters the blog will have fun as well. Keep reading, pass it along to friends, feel free to send comments, and don't forget to "Rate It!" at the bottom of each post. Here is a recap of 1984:

Number of charted songs in 1984:  433  (445 in 1983)
Time it took listen/post all songs:  1 year, 29 days  (1 year, 49 days for 1983)
Number of songs that debuted in 1984 to hit #1:  19  (15 in 1983)
Number of songs that debuted in 1984 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  76  (70 in 1983)
Artist with the most chart entries:  Rick Springfield - 5  (Michael Jackson, had 6 in 1983)
Number of gold singles:  26  (19 in 1983)
Number of platinum singles:  9  (7 in 1983)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  10  (8 in 1983)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  3  (10 in 1983)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  19  (16 for 1983)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  2 (plus a rare zero for one song)  (3 for 1983)

Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "When Doves Cry" by Prince
  2. "Here Comes the Rain Again" by Eurythmics
  3. "Had a Dream (Sleeping with the Enemy)" by Roger Hodgson
  4. "Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)" by Icicle Works
  5. "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley
Worst song of the year:  "Eat My Shorts" by Rick Dees (however, if I discount novelty/comedy songs, then I'd choose "Sex Shooter" by Apollonia 6)
Best song I didn't know existed:  "Flashes" by Tiggi Clay
Favorite discoveries:  Tiggi Clay's sole album, Mink DeVille, and Helen Hoffner's song "Summer of Love."

A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #20 - "Thriller" by Michael Jackson (peaked at #4)
Lowest debut:  #96 - "Joystick" by Dazz Band (peaked at #61)

Longest climb to peak position:  "What's Love Got to Do with It" by Tina Turner climbed 91 positions from #92 to #1

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1984:  "What's Love Got to Do with It" by Tina Turner took 16 weeks to reach #1
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1984:  Both "When Doves Cry" by Prince and "Like a Virgin" by Madonna took only 6 weeks to reach #1.
Most weeks at #1 in 1984:  5 - for two songs, "Jump" by Van Halen and "When Doves Cry" by Prince

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1984:  30 - "Borderline" by Madonna (it peaked at #10).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  12
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #90 - 32 songs debuted at that spot (1 hit Top 10)
Longest song title:  "Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" by Luther Vandross
Shortest song title:  "17" by Rick James

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1984:  Billy Ocean, Bon Jovi, Corey Hart, Howard Jones, Mötley Crüe, Paul Young, Wang Chung, Sheila E., UB40, and Whitney Houston

Runners-Up:  8 songs peaked at #2, 2 songs peaked at #11, and 2 songs peaked at #41

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts):
  • One-hit wonder Matthew Wilder got an Oscar nomination for writing some of the music for the Disney film Mulan. He also produced the mega-hit album Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt.
  • Thomas Dolby's song "Hyperactive" was originally written for and submitted to Michael Jackson.
  • Bon Jovi was not the original name choice for the band. They were going to go with Johnny Electric.
  • "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" was a remake. It was originally recorded by the song's for-writer, Albert Hammond, in 1975.
  • Night Ranger's Kelly Keagy wrote "Sister Christian" for his sister.
  • Directing team Godley & Creme shot 18 different videos for Yes' single "Leave It."
  • Rick Springfield was offered a role in the Oscar-winning film "The Right Stuff." He ultimately turned it down when he was given a chance to headline his own movie "Hard to Hold."
  • Steve Perry wrote "Oh Sherrie!" for his girlfriend at the time, Sherrie Swafford.
  • Frankie Goes to Hollywood got their name from a painting that included a headline about Frank Sinatra.
  • Van Halen's "I'll Wait" was co-written by David Lee Roth and Doobie Brother Michael McDonald.
  • "It's My Party" singer Lesley Gore co-wrote the Fame song "Out Here on My Own" with her brother Michael.
  • Dan Hartman originally wrote "I Can Dream About You" for Daryl Hall & John Oates.
  • Billy Idol's song "Eyes Without a Face" was inspired by a French horror film.
  • John Fogerty was sued for plagiarism for copying from his own song.
  • The solo voice on Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" is Tony-winner Jennifer Holiday.
  • Eddie Money's hit "I Wanna Go Back" was originally a chart entry by Billy Satellite.
  • Andy Warhol directed the video for The Cars' song "Hello Again."
  • Rod Stewart's "Some Guys Have All the Luck" was a remake of a 1973 R&B hit by The Persuaders.
  • Bruce Springsteen originally wrote "Cover Me" for Donna Summer.
  • A young Mariska Hargitay (of Law and Order: SVU fame) got her start playing the female lead in the video for Ronnie Milsap's "She Loves My Car."
  • Apparently, Rick James was supposed to be at Sharon Tate's house the night of the Manson Murders.
  • The Jacksons' "State of Shock" was originally supposed to be a duet between Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury.
  • In addition to his own hits, Bryan Adams and his co-writer Jim Vallance had four of their songs hit the chart in '84 by other artists including 38 Special, Krokus, Joe Cocker, and Juice Newton

According to the year-end chart for 1984, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "When Doves Cry" by Prince
  2. "What's Love Got to Do with It" by Tina Turner
  3. "Say Say Say" by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
  4. "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
  5. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins
  6. "Jump" by Van Halen
  7. "Hello" by Lionel Richie
  8. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes
  9. "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.
  10. "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club

So long '84! It was an awesome blast from the past!


Monday, September 25, 2017

"Money Changes Everything" by Cyndi Lauper

Song#:  2173
Date:  12/22/1984
Debut:  57
Peak:  27
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Lauper was four Top 10's deep into her debut album, She's So Unusual, when it was decided that this fifth single would be released. With the album's popularity winding down, this song had a more difficult time and could only manage a Top 30 showing at Pop. It was also able to reach #37 on the Rock chart. It would be the final single from the 6x platinum album.

ReduxReview:  I really liked this song and its associated concert video back in the day and hoped it would get in the Top 10. It should have, but by the time it was released the album was fading and it was a bit of a gamble just releasing the song. Lauper sells it so well and the note she holds near the end is awesome. It was another outstanding track from the newbie artist.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally done by the Atlanta rock band The Brains. That band first recorded their original take in 1978. Written by band member Tom Gray, it was the a-side to an indie single that they released. The single helped the band get a record deal with Mercury, which lead to a self-titled debut LP in 1980 that was produced by Steve Lillywhite. The newly recorded version of this song was selected as the first single, but it failed to make an impression. The band was able to make more more album with Mercury before being dropped by the label. An indie EP followed, but by 1983 the band split. However, this song found its way to Cyndi Lauper and she nabbed it for the opening track of her debut solo album.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

"Sugar Walls" by Sheena Easton

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2172
Date:  12/22/1984
Debut:  60
Peak:  9
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  Easton returned to the Pop Top 10 for the fifth time with "Strut" (#7), the first single from her album A Private Heaven. It showcased a new sound and attitude from the star and the results were positive. However, the controversy over this next single nearly overshadowed her previous hit. Written by Prince, the lyrics to "Sugar Walls" certainly set off the naughty alarm for a lot of people including Tipper Gore and the PMRC. They deemed it sexually explicit and quickly added to their infamous "Filthy Fifteen" list of songs. They were not the only ones to call foul on the tune. Several TV broadcasters refused to show the video for the song not based on visuals, but lyrical content. The hubbub over the song attracted attention and combined with Easton coming off of a hit and Prince's involvement, the song climbed into the Top 10. It was also a big hit at Dance getting to #1 while reaching #3 at R&B (the first of Easton's two R&B Top 10's).

ReduxReview:  Oooo, Ms. Easton gets all nasty and catches flack for it! In one way it wasn't really right because it was a total double standard. There were many songs (some of them hits) where the male member and what it produces was certainly cheekily referred to in other terms. But use a euphemism about a woman's coochie and world goes ballistic! It was unfair. Prince was also a target for this stuff, so that didn't help. In regards to this song, there are times when Prince writes sexy stuff, but goes overboard nearly into self-parody (i.e., the awful "Sex Shooter"). However, he refrains from that here and comes up with an oddball hit for Easton. I wouldn't list this alongside Prince's best works, but it's a solid effort from him and it strangely fit Easton quite well, which is probably why he continued to work with her.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Easton got hooked up with Prince thanks to her engineer David Leonard, who was working on both Easton's LP and Purple Rain. Easton asked Leonard if he could pass a note to Prince regarding a possible collaboration. Much to her surprise, Prince sent over the backing tracks to this song and Easton love it. She got in contact with Prince and he invited her over to his studio to record the tune. It would be the first at least four collaborations between the two which included the 1987 #2 duet "U Got the Look." Although it has never been fully confirmed, rumors have it that the two briefly dated.  2) Like many tracks that Prince wrote and gave to other artists, he used a pseudonym for the writing credit. In the case of this song, he used Alexander Nevermind. It would be the only song for which he would use that moniker for the writing credit. And despite being the actual producer of the song, Prince let the credit go to the album's producer Greg Mathieson.