Saturday, October 7, 2017

"I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips" by Eric Carmen

Song#:  2184
Date:  01/19/1985
Debut:  71
Peak:  35
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Carmen's last brush with the Pop chart was back in 1980 when his single "It Hurts Too Much" made an appearance at #75. He hadn't been able to follow up his earlier solo hits, like 1976's "All By Myself" (#2), and it certainly didn't help that music had changed a lot since then. Carmen retreated from the business for a while, but then his career got an unexpected boost when his collaboration with songwriter Dean Pitchford, "Almost Paradise," became a Top 10 hit for Mike Reno and Ann Wilson. The Footloose hit boosted Carmen's profile and he was able to secure a contract with Geffen Records. The Pitchford/Carmen team co-wrote two more songs that found their way to Carmen's new self-titled album. This first single was one of those co-writes. It did well enough to become Carmen's first Top 40 entry since 1978. AC loved it even more and sent the song to #10. Although it wasn't a huge hit, it was enough to get Carmen back into the music game.

ReduxReview: I wasn't a big fan of this song. In fact, I found it a bit irritating. Carmen's smarmy vocals and the background "whoop's" just hit my ears wrong. But once again, later listening determined that this was a pretty sweet track. It's got a sexy feel to it and weirdly it sounds like something Billy Idol might have done (i.e., "To Be a Lover" kind of thing). It's nothing I'd put in a playlist, but I appreciate it more now that I did back then.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Carmen's self-titled 1985 album featured two tracks that ended up being country hits for singer Louise Mandrell. First, she recorded the track "Maybe My Baby," which Carmen wrote. It was released in '85 as the first single from Mandrell's album of the same name. It would do well reaching #8 on the Country chart. For her follow-up album Dreamin', she covered "I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips." It would be the LP's first single, but this time around her Carmen cover could only get to #35.


Friday, October 6, 2017

"This Is My Night" by Chaka Khan

Song#:  2183
Date:  01/19/1985
Debut:  75
Peak:  60
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Khan scored the biggest hit of her career with her remake of Prince's "I Feel for You." That gold record would hit #1 Dance, #1 R&B, and #3 Pop. When it came time to issue a follow-up, this opening track from Khan's I Feel for You LP was released. Again, folks in clubs responded well and the song rose to the top of the Dance chart. At R&B it fizzled just shy of the Top 10 at the dreaded #11 spot. Unfortunately, the tune couldn't find an audience at Pop and the song floundered in the bottom half of the chart.

ReduxReview:  I'm surprised this single didn't do better. Of course it pales in comparison to "I Feel for You," but it's a rockin' synthpop tune with a good chorus and state-of-the-art production. It just may have been too different from the smooth R&B sound of "Feel." That song with it's hooky rap intro was unique and stood out among the other singles on the chart. This track is more conventional and it just didn't stand out as much. Still, it's a solid song and one of the better tracks on the album.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by David Frank and Mic Murphy. Back in the early 80s they formed the duo known as The System. The pair got their first significant hit in 1983 with "You Are My System," which reached #10 at R&B. While recording and performing as The System, the pair also wrote and/or produced other artists along the way. They contributed this track to Chaka Khan's album. Although Arif Mardin served as producer of the song, David Frank did supply the arrangement. Later in '87, the duo would score a major hit with "Don't Disturb This Groove" (#4 Pop, #1 R&B).


Thursday, October 5, 2017

"The Borderlines" by Jeffrey Osborne

Song#:  2182
Date:  01/19/1985
Debut:  78
Peak:  38
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Osborne certainly was making strides at R&B where over the course of two years he gathered six Top 10 hits. He added to that total when this second single from his LP Don't Stop reached #7. However, Osborne's chart history at Pop was a bit different. His singles would stay just on the fringes of the Pop Top 40 and have difficulty breaking into the upper reaches of the chart. This song would be his fifth entry to get inside the Top 40 mark, but like most of his previous entries it would stall soon after. He'd finally break through on a bigger scale with a single from his next album.

ReduxReview:  Osborne had some solid material to work with, but for some reason Pop audiences and radio didn't fully warm up to his brand of contemporary R&B. His tunes definitely had a Pop/AC slant to them, yet the singles failed to fully catch fire. Here is another one that stopped a bit too short at Pop. The punchy chorus with its synthpad sweeps sounded pretty new-wavy progressive for the time and the guitar gives it a little bit of a rock sheen. I wouldn't consider it strong enough to reach the Top 10, but it certainly should have done better than a minor #38.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1985, Osborne boosted his profile by appearing as himself in a soap opera. One of the characters of the show Santa Barbara was a fan of Osborne, so for her wedding it was arranged for Osborne to appear and sing. He performed two songs for the wedding, "The Greatest Love Affair" and "On the Wings of Love." Later, he appeared at the reception singing "The Borderlines."


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Go for It" by Kim Wilde

Song#:  2181
Date:  01/19/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  65
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Wilde first gained attention via the single "Kids in America," which was from her self-titled debut LP. While the song only reached #25 in the US, it was a bigger hit in Europe reaching the Top 10 in several countries including #2 in the UK. Four more Top 20's would follow in the UK over the course of three albums, but she was basically ignored in the US. A switch to a major label, MCA, along with an image change, would hopefully boost her profile in the States. With her dad Marty and brother Ricki on board as co-writers/co-producers, Wilde recorded her fourth album Teases & Dares. This first single was issued and it did return Wilde to the Pop chart, but the results were not as she had hoped. It stalled early on the chart while only managing a #31 showing at Dance. The song didn't do well in the UK either peaking at #29. With those results, the album ultimately did not meet expectations. However, her next effort would bring her back to the top of the chart.

ReduxReview:  I'm actually not sure what drew me to this album. I know I had not heard the single yet, so that was not a factor. I have a feeling that a combo of liking "Kids in America," a positive Billboard review, the album cover, and it being in the promo bin of the local used record store prompted me to buy it. I have to say that it is one my guilty pleasures. It's full of loud, brash, over-produced, hooky sythpop that hit my ears just right. This song and the album opener "The Touch" were faves from the start. The layers and layers of synth sounds and production techniques sounded great when the volume was cranked. There were also a couple of thoughtful ballads on the disc as well. I still play this album a couple times a year. Is it a great album? Nope - not even close. But it got my attention and I totally dug it. Basically, if you like this song, you will probably enjoy the rest of the album. The only thing kinda creepy about this ode to motel sex is that it was written for Wilde by her brother and father. Yikes. Try not to think about that part...

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The original title of this song was "The Second Time." It was released like that in Europe for the album and single. However, the US branch of MCA didn't think the title fit the song well as the main hook of the song said "go for it" and "the second time" was a secondary line in the chorus. Wanting US listeners to make sure they recognize the song via the title, it was decided that for the North American market the title would be changed to "Go for It." Unfortunately, it didn't really matter as the single never really got off the ground.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"Invitation to Dance" by Kim Carnes

Song#:  2180
Date:  01/19/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  68
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Synthpop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Although Carnes' album Cafe Racers wasn't exactly a hit (#97), her reputation as a songwriter and vocal collaborator was still intact. She got to work with artists like Kenny Rogers and Barbra Streisand and while she was in between albums, Carnes got an offer to supply a song to an upcoming film. The documentary That's Dancing! needed a theme song for the end credits and Carnes was tapped for the job. She co-wrote this tune with her husband Dave Ellingson, Brian Fairweather, and Martin Page. Fairweather and Page had recently supplied a couple song to Carnes for Cafe Racers including the #40 "Invisible Hands." Nile Rodgers stepped on board to produce and the final results played over the end credits of the film. It would also be released as a single and it did fine at Dance getting to #13. However, it could only manage #32 at AC and a short stay on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This is an overlooked gem from Carnes. It's got a great chorus, a nice transitional mid-section, and solid production from Rodgers that resembled the work he had been doing for Madonna's Like a Virgin album. So, why didn't it hit? Well, the film wasn't a big box office draw and although Carnes was still a fixture on the Pop and AC charts, her star had been fading and it was going to take something stronger than this to get it reignited. It also could have been partially due to the lack of promotion. There was a video for the song that tied into the movie, but the kids of the day had no interest in MGM musicals so it didn't play all that well on MTV. It all just didn't gel at the moment and the single got lost. It's too bad because it was good work from Carnes.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) In 1974, a documentary retrospective titled That's Entertainment! was released. It was created to celebrate MGM's 50th anniversary. It featured multiple hosts talking about the history of MGM and introducing segments from their films. The movie was a hit and it prompted a sequel two years later. Although not considered a part of the film series, That's Dancing! was created by the same team, however it focused on dancing in film only and featured bits from other studios besides MGM. Twenty years after the original That's Entertainment!, a second sequel in that series was released.  2) Although not really considered a record, the debut of this single gave Carnes a certain chart distinction. With her appearing on two other singles on the chart at the time, "What About Me" (with Kenny Rogers and James Ingram) and "Make No Mistake, He's Mine" (with Barbra Streisand), Carnes was the first artist to appear on the Pop chart as a solo act, as half of a duo, and as part of a trio.  3) The b-side to this single was not by Carnes. It was a track by film composer Gary S. Scott. Written and produced by Scott, the instrumental track was credited to "Haven." The song was not part of the film. At the time Scott was composing music for the TV series Fame. He would go on to compose music for other shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

Monday, October 2, 2017

"Gotta Get You Home Tonight" by Eugene Wilde

Song#:  2179
Date:  01/12/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  83
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Ronald Broomfield started in the music biz in Miami as part of a family band called La Voyage. They did well on the club scene and would go through a few names changes like Tight Connection and Simplicious. Along the way there were some recordings, but nothing that prompted any real attention. By the early 80s, the family group was done and Broomfield set out on his own. With a name change to Eugene Wilde, he was signed to Philly World records and recorded this first single. It caught on quickly at R&B and soon became his first #1 hit on that chart. The single was also able to crossover to Pop for a couple of months. An album would follow, which spawned two more charting songs at R&B. It sold well getting to #14 on the R&B chart.

ReduxReview:  This smooth groove is nicely produced and well performed by Wilde. I also like the rev up to the final chorus. It was unexpected and effective. There are a couple of very minor drawbacks though. This nearly sounds like Wilde was channeling Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" when he wrote this. It's not a copy, but it certainly sounds similar to that classic. The other thing is the lyrics. Yeesh. He kinda makes Ray Parker, Jr., seem like Keats by comparison! I'm not expecting deep, thoughtful poetry in pop music, but I'd like something a notch above the basic "hold you tight, make you scream all night" stuff. I gotta look past that though as the song is solid.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  With an impending solo career, Broomfield's manager thought a name change was in order. Broomfield's middle name was Eugene and that seemed to do the trick for the first name. Apparently, the last name of Wilde was inspired by an advertisement that Broomfield saw that was promoting a place called the Wilde Flowers club. With the name now established, Wilde then set out to write and record his debut single and album.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

"Rain Forest" by Paul Hardcastle

Song#:  2178
Date:  01/12/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  57
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Electro-Funk, Instrumental, Smooth Jazz

Pop Bits:  This British musician first gained notice as half of the duo called First Light (with Derek Green). The pair issued a couple of albums in '83 and '84 that got a little attention in the UK thanks to two minor charting singles. They split after the second album and Hardcastle quickly jumped into a solo career. His debut album, Daybreak, contained two mid-charting UK singles. To follow them up, Hardcastle issued a new single titled "Rain Forest." While it remained a mid-charter for him in the UK, the news was far better in the US where the single reached #2 on the Dance chart and #5 at R&B. The action on those charts allowed the song to cross over to Pop where it got near the halfway mark. An album of the same name that consisted of two mixes of this song and some tracks already released in Europe was issued for the US market and it did well getting to #63.

ReduxReview:  This slick tune has a nice groove with a memorable theme. It wasn't quite what I expected. I thought it would be a lot more dance oriented, but it really does lean towards a funky smooth jazz sound. I usually don't like this kind of thing, but I don't mind this at all. It reminds me of something you might start grooving to while having a cocktail at some big city, sophisticated bar/lounge a couple of hours before the main crowd arrives.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although he doesn't consider himself a jazz musician, in 1993 Hardcastle began an album series of contemporary/smooth jazz music with the release of The Jazzmasters. Featuring original songs and Hardcastle playing nearly every instrument, the album was successful and it led to six sequels. The latest in the series as of this posting, 2014's The Jazzmasters VII, reached #1 on the Jazz album chart. Hardcastle also expanded on the sounds of Jazzmasters for a second series that was simply titled Hardcastle. There have been seven LPs in that series as well with some of them doing well on the Jazz chart.