Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Somebody" by Bryan Adams

Song#:  2206
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  59
Peak:  11
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Adams' first single from his fourth album Reckless, "Run to You," became his second Pop Top 10 hit and his first #1 at Rock. To follow it up, this rockin' track was chosen. It was a smart choice for Rock radio as the song took off and became his second #1 on that chart. The single also did well at Pop, but it stopped just shy of the Top 10 and peaked at the dreaded #11 spot. Adams may have been denied a third Top 10 hit, but his next two singles would certainly make up for it.

ReduxReview:  This tune was totally arena ready with its sing-a-long chorus. It was a solid anthem, but for me it just wasn't as good as the dark, rockin' "Run to You." It didn't deter me from buying the album, but I thought there were tracks on the disc that would be better singles - and indeed there would be. However, this did it's job at Rock radio and kept Adams' star rising.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song later became part of a high-profile music industry lawsuit. As the internet became more accessible and file sharing came along, music labels were trying to fight against illegal download sites and the sharing of copyright protected material. By 2003, they were done messing around and decided to make an example of individuals who were apparently file sharing. In 2006, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four from Minnesota who had apparently posted music files for free sharing via the site Kazaa, was one of those individuals. Although it was said that she had posted over 1,700 files, Capitol Records just focused on 24 of their catalog songs and sent a cease and desist notice. They also offered Thomas-Rasset a settlement of $5000 to resolve the issue. She said no to the settlement and Capitol proceeded to sue her in court. She ended up losing the case. From 2007-2013, the case was tried, appealed, and revisited several times. Each time, Thomas-Rasset failed to defend her position and the amount of settlement to Capitol varied at different points from a low of $54,000 to a high of $1.9 million. In the end after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, the final payment to Capitol was set at the amount granted at the very first trial, which was $220,000. Thousands of other similar lawsuits would follow. Most people would simply settle, but Thomas-Rasset was one of two people who fought it in the courts. Joel Tenenbaum was the other in 2003. Both would be on the losing end. In Thomas-Rasset's case, this Bryan Adams song was one of the 24 that were part of Capitol's lawsuit.


Friday, October 27, 2017

"This Is Not America" by David Bowie/Pat Metheny Group

Song#:  2205
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  32
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Jazz musician Pat Metheny and his band, which featured his frequent collaborator pianist Lyle Mays, were already two-time Grammy winners when an offer came in for them to do the score for the upcoming film The Falcon and the Snowman. Metheny and Mays composed the score, but it seems that a more pop-oriented song was wanted to help promote the film and soundtrack. The pair had come up with a theme for one part of the film and decided to expand upon it to make the tune more mainstream. They needed a collaborator to help finish the song and somewhere along the way David Bowie was suggested, most likely due to the artists being on the same label. Bowie agreed to work with Metheny and wrote a set of lyrics. The pair then produced the final version with Bowie supplying the vocals. The single was issued ahead of the film and it did well at Rock getting to #7. It was also able to crack the Pop Top 40. It did better in the UK reaching #14. It would be Metheny's only song to hit the Pop chart. The movie, which starred Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton, was well-received critically and did respectable at the box office.

ReduxReview:  This dark and atmospheric song was perfect for Bowie. Metheny and Mays reeled in their jazz/improv tendencies and created a solid structure that could hold Bowie's lyrics and voice. The resulting recording was terrific and better than most of the tracks on Bowie's recent album Tonight. Rock embraced the tune and it made the Top 10 there, but the song may have been a bit too dark and serious for Pop to really catch on. However, the Top 40 showing was positive and it has become an essential part of Bowie's 80s catalog.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Pat Metheny began his recording career with a solo effort in 1976 titled Bright Size Life. He formed his group two years later and several popular jazz albums would follow. His brand of progressive jazz/jazz fusion mixed with ambient and new age sounds attracted a big audience and his albums would frequently do well on the Pop chart. The Grammy folks took notice and began rewarding Metheny in 1983 with the Group's first win in the Best Jazz Fusion Performance category for their album Offramp. Over the years, the Group would win 11 Grammys. Metheny himself would take home another 9. Metheny is the only artist to have won Grammys in 10 different categories. He has also won a Grammy in every decade since the 1980's. The height of his popularity came in the late 80s/early 90s when three of his albums would become gold records.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

"The Word Is Out" by Jermaine Stewart

Song#:  2204
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  41
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  When Stewart was performing as a dancer backing the R&B trio Shalamar, he had a chance meeting with Culture Club's bassist Mickey Craig after a London show. The meeting led to Stewart providing backing vocals on Culture Club's "Miss Me Blind" and Craig helping Stewart assemble a solo demo tape. The demo and connection to Culture Club helped Stewart get signed to Arista Records. Stewart then set out to record his debut LP, The Word Is Out. The title-track would be selected as the first single. Although it wasn't a major hit, it did well getting to #4 Dance, #17 R&B and peaking at the dreaded #41 at Pop. Follow-up singles failed to do anything, but the results seemed good enough for Arista to keep Stewart on the label for a second LP.

ReduxReview:  This is a pretty good debut single and grooves along just fine. I'm just not sure the chorus part is quite as hooky as it should be. The title is mentioned, but then there are other vocals saying a bunch a words that are a bit difficult to hear/understand. It's a bit confusing. It needed to be a bit more forceful and apparent so that folks could sing along. Not bad for a first effort though.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Mickey Craig co-wrote this song with Stewart along with two other tracks for the album.  2) Stewart became a dancer on the local Chicago version of the show Soul Train in the early 70s. After that show closed up, he moved out to L.A. and ended up being a featured dancer on the national syndicated version of the show. That is where he met and became good friends with two other dancers, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel. When Soul Train's Don Cornelius was assembling a new R&B trio act, all three tried out. In the end, Watley and Daniel made the cut, but Stewart just missed out on the third spot. However, his skills as a dancer and friendship with the other two artists helped to secure a backing position on their tours, which led to Stewart meeting Mickey Craig.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Baby Come Back to Me (The Morse Code of Love)" by The Manhattan Transfer

Song#:  2203
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  83
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Doo Wop

Pop Bits:  After a couple of albums that flirted with contemporary pop and R&B sounds, this vocal quartet decided to retreat back to their early pop/standards sound and culled an album of recent live performances with a few leftover studio tracks added in. They titled the collection Bop Doo-Wopp and this studio track was chosen to be the first single. The retro sounding song hit the right notes at AC and it got to #14 on that chart. However, Pop was less enthused and the single only managed a few short weeks on the chart. It would end up being the group's final Pop chart single. Although their Pop days would end, their next album would be one of the most successful of their career. Vocalese was a very well received project where lyrics (by Jon Hendricks) were specifically written for what was originally instrumental jazz songs. Both the lyrics and performances were meant to mimic the instruments that played the original melody and solo lines. The album was a big critical success that got to #2 on the Jazz chart and #74 Pop. The album received twelve Grammy nomination, which at the time was the second biggest total ever for an album behind Michael Jackson's Thriller. It would end up winning three awards including Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  I remember that the Bop Doo-Wopp album had a cool cover, but that was about the best part of it. The album was pretty lackluster and was really just a stop-gap product. This song was a minor highlight, but it couldn't compare with some of the top material from their previous albums. I'm not the biggest fan of doo wop, so I wasn't all that into it. I adored the Transfer at the time and this LP was a big disappointment. However, they definitely made up for it with Vocalese, which was just brilliant.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Transfer dedicated this song to the doo wop vocal group The Capris. Headed up by lead singer Nick Santamaria, the group recorded a single in 1959 that featured the song "There's a Moon Out Tonight." The single sank as did the hopes of The Carpis and they broke up. A year or so went by before a DJ found the record and began to spin it. The song started to catch on and before long it was shaping up to be a hit. The Capris got back together and by the spring of '61, the single had reached #3. With a hit to their name, the group began recording follow-up singles. Unfortunately, none of them could scale the chart as well and by 1965 they parted ways again. Santamaria became an NYPD officer, but along the way kept dabbling in music and writing songs. As the 80s began, Santamaria and a couple of members of the old Capris reformed the group. They recorded an album titled There's a Moon Out Tonight in 1982 and one of the tracks on the album was a song written by Santamaria called "The Morse Code of Love." It's genuine sound made people think it was a lost doo wop gem and it became popular with fans of the genre. Two years later, Manhattan Transfer picked up the tune, changed the title, and reached the Pop and AC charts with it.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"When the Rain Begins to Fall" by Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora

Song#:  2202
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  54
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Synthpop, Europop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Actress/singer Zadora's 1983 film The Lonely Lady was a heavily panned box office dud, but on the bright side her music career got a boost when her single "The Clapping Song" reached the Top 40. For her next venture, she decided to combine acting and singing via the campy b-movie spoof Voyage of the Rock Aliens. The sci-fi flick had several musical numbers including this tune, which was recorded in the studio by Zadora and Jermaine Jackson. Jackson was not initially part of the film. Actor Craig Shaffer lip synced the part. After the film was done, Zadora and Jackson filmed a video for this song, which was going to be released as a single. The film saw limited release and was promptly ignored. However, the single version of this song started to catch on. In Europe, it topped the charts in several countries including France, Germany, and the Netherlands. It seemed like it would then do well in the US, but even though Jackson just had two Top 20 hits, the Europop track fizzled before it could get into the top half of the chart. It did a little better at Dance getting to #22.

ReduxReview:  I have no idea why I bought this single. I know I had not heard the tune yet. Perhaps the draw of Jackson and Zadora drew me in. Whatever it was, I got the single and kind of liked it. The production is a bit cheesy and cheap sounding now, but it seemed interesting back in the day. It was produced by Jack White, who had success with Laura Branigan. While the song was kind of a dud here, it was big in Europe. I remember in 2013 I was staying in Portugal and found an 80s radio station to listen to. Over a two-week period, this song came up at least twice a day on the station. I couldn't believe it. In the US, the song could barely get airtime when it came out let alone now! It's really not a very good song, but I think it is kitschy fun and it kind of cracks me up when I hear it now. Oh, and the video for this tune is pretty awful and certainly didn't do the song any favors. Although Zadora rocked a near-drag white pant suit look in it with fab sunglasses...

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The video for this song featured nothing from the film. Although it had futuristic costumes and was something akin to Mad Max, it had nothing that was tied in with the movie. The original idea was to have the video tagged on to the end of the film, but at the last minute the producers decided to intertwine portions of the video into the opening segment of the film. Because of this, Jermaine Jackson now seemed to appear in the movie and even got credited as a character called "Rain," even though he appeared nowhere else in the film.  2) This song was co-written by Michael Bradley, Steve Wittmack, and Peggy March. March had been a music star herself. Billed as Little Peggy March, she topped the Pop chart in 1963 with the song "I Will Follow Him." March was only fifteen years old at the time and that made her the youngest female artist to ever have a #1 song on the chart. It's a record that she still holds today. In 2010, March recorded a version of "When the Rain Begins to Fall" with German actor/singer Andreas Zaron.


Monday, October 23, 2017

"Only the Young" by Journey

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2201
Date:  01/26/1985
Debut:  43
Peak:  9
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  By this point, Journey had been absent from the charts for nearly a year. After their successful Frontiers album and tour, the band took some time to recoup and do other projects. The most prolific one was Steve Perry's solo album Street Talk. While still contemplating their next move, an opportunity to contribute a song to a film soundtrack came up. Instead of recording something new, the band offered up this tune, which had originally been recorded for Frontiers but ended up bumped from the final track listing. The song was a good fit for the coming-of-age flick Vision Quest and it ended up being the first single from the film's soundtrack album. It debuted just outside the Pop Top 40 and soon became the band's fifth Top 10 single. It did even better at Rock getting to #3. The results were great for Journey, but not so good for Scandal, who had purchased the song for their Warrior album and then got locked out of being able to issue it themselves as a single.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure why Journey bumped this song from Frontiers. This had hit single written all over it and the album could have benefited from it. My only guess is that the anthem was a bit lighter than the darkly produced tunes found on the album and it might have sounded out of place. In the end it was probably a good decision as the song got out as something brand new following Frontiers and helped to keep them active on the charts while recording their next LP. As for the song, the guitar riff, sentimental lyrics, and sing-a-long chorus were arena ready and it played well on the radio. Although I would like some of their future songs, I consider this to be their last great single. It still had that real pop/arena rock Journey sound. Their tunes after leaned even closer to commercial pop/rock, most likely due to Steve Perry's flirtations with soft rock on his solo album.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In 1980, the Make-a-Wish foundation began to grant wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses. Journey and this song would play a part in one kid's wish. Kenny Sykaluk was a 16-year-old who was in the hospital in the last stages of his battle with cystic fibrosis. Journey was his favorite band and his wish was to meet them. It was all arranged and in the fall of '84 the band traveled to Cleveland to meet Sykaluk. They brought along a new Walkman that had a cassette with this song on it. At the time the song was set to be issued as a single in the coming months, but no one outside of Journey's inner circle had heard the tune. Sykaluk would be the first. He played the song while the members of Journey were in the room. The visit was very emotional for the band and it hit them even harder the next day when they found out that Sykaluk and passed away. Apparently, he was still holding the Walkman when he died. Journey dedicated the song to Sykaluk and used it as the opening number on the next tour.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Too Late for Goodbyes" by Julian Lennon

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2200
Date:  01/26/1985
Debut:  52
Peak:  5
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The title track and first single to Lennon's debut album, Valotte, got his career started on a high note when it reached #9 Pop, #4 AC, and #2 Rock. For a follow-up, this next track was issued. It would end up being his biggest hit reaching #5 at Pop and #1 at AC. It just missed out on the Rock Top 10 getting to #11. The two hits would help the album go platinum. In the UK, this song actually served as Lennon's first single from the album. It did well getting to #5. "Valotte" was issued next, but could only manage a #55 showing.

ReduxReview:  This bouncy, syncopated tune is still a fun listen despite the production being very dated. Phil Ramone is a terrific producer, but he was never good at synthpop style productions like this one. It's missing depth. There's just a lot of treble happening and it all sounds a tad too cold. It's like an expensive Casio playing. Regardless, the simple melody and hooky chorus made this a bit o' 80s ear candy.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Film director Sam Peckinpah was known for his violent and controversial films such as The Wild Bunch (1969) and Straw Dogs (1971), as well as slicker fare like 1972's The Getaway. He was also know for his combative personality and that along with drug and alcohol abuse didn't make him a favorite among studios or producers. In the early 80s, his career was on the decline and he was also experiencing health issues. After fighting with producers over his 1983 film The Osterman Weekend, Peckinpah had little prospects on the horizon. But then he got an offer to try his hand at directing music videos. He was asked to do two videos for the Julian Lennon songs "Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes." The videos were well received and the one for "Too Late" got Lennon an MTV Video Award nomination in the Best New Artist in a Video category. Unfortunately, the two videos would be Peckinpah's last works. He died in December of 1984 from heart failure.