Thursday, April 26, 2018

"Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2385
Date:  06/13/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Since 1978, this UK band had released four albums that reached either gold or platinum sales. They did quite well, but they didn't become superstars until the release of their fifth album, Brothers in Arms. It was mainly due to the huge success of this first single. The song, which featured a guest vocal appearance by The Police's Sting, caught on thanks in part to its associated MTV video that quickly went into heavy rotation. The single went to #1 at both Rock and Pop. The album also got to #1 and stayed there for nine consecutive weeks. The album would win a Grammy for Best Engineered Record while the band would win one for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group for this song. The album would be nominated for Album of the Year and this song for Record of the Year. The album would be a big worldwide success and eventually become one of the biggest sellers of all-time moving over 30 million copies.

ReduxReview:  This song disappointed me so much when I first heard it. I absolutely loved the mysterious sounding opening with Sting's haunting vocal and the big drum/synth build up to that hooky, ZZ Top-inspired guitar lick. But very quickly the song settled into a little dorky blues-rock jam about some guy working at an appliance store watching MTV on the various display TVs. That build up was so amazing and cool, I thought it was going to lead some to something, dark, hooky, and massive. It didn't. I thought it was a stupid song and I avoided it. Hearing it now, I'm still not the biggest fan of it, but I can appreciate how it all came together. It was just the right song with the right MTV-oriented lyrics, the right video, and the right guest star (Sting). Yet I'm still in search of the song that actually matches that intense, awesome opening.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The band's leader, Mark Knopfler, is also their sole songwriter. There are only two songs on the band's studio albums where another writer was given a credit. "Money for Nothing" is one of those songs. When Sting contributed his vocal part, it was basically the melody from The Police hit "Don't Stand So Close to Me." Because of that, Sting got a songwriting credit even though Knopfler had really written the whole song.  2) According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Brothers in Arms album was the first to sell a million copies on the new CD format. It was also among the first to be digitally recorded.  3) Mark Knopfler really didn't like music videos and initially refused to do one for the song. But at MTV's prodding, he finally relented. Steve Barron directed the song's innovative video, which used an early form of computer animation. It would go on to win the award for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards. It ended up beating out another inventive video also directed by Barron; a-ha's "Take on Me."

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

"Summertime Girls" by Y&T

Song#:  2384
Date:  07/13/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  55
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Hard Rock, Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  This Californian rock band mainly played cover tunes when they first formed around 1972. They soon developed their own sound and songs and got signed to London Records in a few years later. They recorded two LPs for London, but nothing much came from them. They switched to A&M and began recording for the label in 1981. Despite not selling many albums, the label stuck with the band and soon it started to pay off. Their third album for the label generated a Rock radio hit with the title track "Mean Streak" (#25) and they began to collect up more after that. Their biggest break came with this studio track that appeared on their first live album Open Fire. The song gained a lot of airplay and ended up getting to #16 on the Rock chart. It was also able to cross over to the Pop chart for a while where it nearly got inside the Top 50. The song would also appear on their next studio album, Down for the Count, but the album failed to really do anything. After that, the band moved over to Geffen for a couple of albums before calling it quits in 1991. Like many bands, they would later reunite and record more albums, but their charting days were behind them.

ReduxReview:  Oddly, this guy sounds like a cross between David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. It's a shame this song didn't catch on more. It was popular in my area at the time and I thought it had a terrific hook and solid production. The track was a hot slab of windows open, cruising, radio-friendly rock and it really should have done a lot better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  When the band secured their first gig, they still didn't have a name. Apparently, when trying to think up a name one of the band members was playing a Beatles album and thought its title would be a good name. The album was Yesterday & Today and that became the band's name. Their first two albums for London were credited to Yesterday & Today, however when they signed with A&M, they decided to shorten it to simply Y&T as that is what fans would chant and call the band during their live shows.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"Take on Me" by a-ha

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2383
Date:  07/13/1985
Debut:  91
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  This Norwegian trio formed in 1982 and soon after made a move to London in order to try and jump start their career. A demo of a song they had titled "Lesson One" got the attention of some industry folks and soon the band was signed to Warner Bros. The band then revamped their demo song and it turned into a new one titled "Take on Me." Produced by Tony Mansfield, who recently had success with Naked Eyes, the song was issued as a single in several European countries. It failed miserably in all of them except one - Norway, where it got to #3. It was promoted by a video that had the band simply performing the song in front of a blue background. That might have been it for the song, but the US arm of Warner Bros. thought the trio had something and decided to give them a shot. They ended up re-recording the song with producer Alan Tarney and a new, innovative video was shot to accompany the single. The video brought attention to the band and soon the single was picking up airplay. It was a slow starter, but the tune finally caught on and began topping charts around the world, including the US. It would make a-ha the first act from Norway to hit #1 on the US chart. It also got to #4 at AC. The hit would push their debut album, Hunting High and Low, to #15 and eventually it would go platinum. It would also earn the band a Grammy nod for Best New Artist. Unfortunately, it would end up being their only major hit and despite a follow-up that reached #20, this indelible track ended up getting the band tagged as a one-hit wonder in the US (#3 on VH1's Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s and #8 on their All-Time list). The band would remain hugely popular in Europe scoring eight Top 10's in the UK alone.

ReduxReview:  This song was destined to be a hit, but it took a new recording and a cool video to make it happen. If you listen to the original version first released, the song is there and is still good, but the production by Fairlight expert Mansfield does not make the song soar. It's very tinny and one-dimensional. It took the skills of Tarney to transform the song into something bigger and better. Now, whether the song would have caught on without the video is another question. I think it might have, but perhaps it wouldn't have been as big of a hit. It goes without question that the video certainly sold this record. In this case, I don't think it was a bad thing. This is a great tune with excellent production and the wonderful, soaring vocals of Morten Harket. In addition, the band was more than this one song. Their debut album Hunting High and Low was excellent and remains a favorite of mine. It's too bad that this is really the only song that is remember from them in the US. They had a lot more to offer.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  If anyone at the time needed proof that a video could make a song a hit, this would be it. The animated pencil sketch video directed by Steve Barron fascinated viewers and it quickly became an MTV favorite. It would eventually go on to win six MTV Video Music awards, but it missed out on Video of the Year, which was won by Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing." The video remains a classic from the time and has even been parodied by TV shows like Family Guy, which had the character Chris getting caught up in a similar black-and-white pencil animation.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

"We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" by Tina Turner

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2382
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  52
Peak:  2
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  After Turner's major comeback with her hit album Private Dancer, other opportunities came flying her way including film roles. One that she was seriously considered for was the part of Shug Avery in The Color Purple. She ended up turning it down as did other singers like Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, and Diana Ross. The role went to Margaret Avery, who walked away with an Oscar nod for her work. Although Turner wasn't interested in playing Shug, she did decided to take on the role of Auntie Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The character was written with Turner in mind and she ended up signing on to the picture. Of course since she was a huge music star at the time, she was also tapped to provide a couple of songs for the film's soundtrack. This theme song was written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, the same team that wrote Turner's #1 comeback hit "What's Love Got to Do with It," and it became the first single released from the soundtrack album. It would be a multi-format smash getting to #2 Pop, #3 AC, #3 R&B, #23 Dance, and #29 Rock. The song earned Turner a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. The movie did well at the box office and Turner was critically praised. However, she didn't parlay it into other roles. She wouldn't be seen on screen again until 1993 in The Last Action Hero, which was her last acting role outside of guest appearances where she played herself, including on the hit TV show Ally McBeal in 2000.

ReduxReview:  Okay, this song gets points for the writers being able to actually include "Thunderdome" in the lyrics! Britten and Lyle gave the song a "What's Love" kind of feel but then amped up the rock and tympani-style percussion for the chorus. It was a perfect fit for Turner and as usual, she sold it like no one else. Frankly, this song was the most memorable part of the film - and it was just played over the end credits! The film was fine, but it was so tame and Hollywood-ish when compared to the previous two films (especially the original, which was quite brutal). This song still stand up well today and I consider it among Turner's best.

ReduxRating:  9/10

TriviaThunderdome is the third film in the Mad Max series that began with the original Mad Max in 1979. Starring the relatively unknown actor Mel Gibson, the film was a worldwide hit that grossed over $100 million. With the cost of making the film estimated at around $400,000, its cost ratio to gross profit got it listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most profitable film of all time.  Years later, two horror flicks, The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, would each take over that distinction. The Road Warrior was the second Mad Max film and it was also a box office hit. Thunderdome did well, but it was the weakest performing of the three. The franchise would get a reboot in 2015 with Mad Max: Fury Road. This time around, the part of Max was played by Tom Hardy. The film was a major hit and ended up receiving ten Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. It would win six awards in the technical categories.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Invincible" by Pat Benatar

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2381
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  61
Peak:  10
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  After Benatar's album Tropico ran its course with three charting singles including the #5 hit "We Belong," she was ready to head back into the studio to record a follow-up. But prior to that, she had an opportunity to record a song that was written for an upcoming film titled The Legend of Billie Jean. Written by Simon Clime and Holly Knight, "Invincible" would serve as the theme song to the movie. Benatar got it recorded with producer Mike Chapman and it was released as a single a few weeks prior to the film's debut. The song was a hit at Rock getting to #4 and would become Benatar's fourth and final Top 10 on the Pop chart. With the song being a success, it was added to the track listing for Bentar's upcoming new LP Seven the Hard Way, which would be released later in the fall. The song would also earn Benatar her fifth Grammy nomination in the Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female, category. She won that category for four straight years, but this time she was bested by Tina Turner.

ReduxReview:  This was exactly what Benatar should have been doing on Tropico instead of the meandering half-songs that mostly populated the disc. It's a rockin' song with a great chorus that is right in line with some of her earlier hits. It's an empowerment anthem that worked so well and it has stood the test of time. The production is great without being too overdone and as usual Benatar kills it on the vocals. The movie was a total stink bomb, but luckily this song didn't need the film. Although "We Belong" and "Love Is a Battlefield" are great songs, this one is what you come to Benatar for - solid radio-ready rock. She would have some good songs yet to come, but for me this was her last truly great single.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Benatar was lucky that the song was strong enough to stand on its own as the movie was a box office bomb. The film starred Helen Slater as a teen who mistakenly gets into trouble with her brother and goes on the lam. In doing so and trying to prove her innocence, she becomes a teenage martyr. Slater's brother in the film was played by newcomer Christian Slater. Although they share a last name, they are not related. But for many years, folks assumed they were related due to the last name and the fact they were brother/sister in the film. Christian Slater was fifteen years old at the time and it was his first leading role in a film. For Helen Slater, it was her second box office bomb in a row. In 1984, she was selected to play the title role in Supergirl, but that film tanked. Also in the cast of Legend was Yeardley Smith. Smith was twenty years old at the time, yet she portrayed a fourteen year old kid. Smith would act in several films and TV shows, but her biggest role would come in 1987 when she voiced the character of Lisa on The Simpsons when it debuted as a short on The Tracey Ullman Show. She has continued to voice the character since and as of this posting, The Simpsons is in its 29th season. It is the longest running scripted television show in US TV history.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

"Mystery Lady" by Billy Ocean

Song#:  2380
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  66
Peak:  24
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Ocean's fifth album, Suddenly, was suddenly his big breakthrough thanks to three consecutive Top 10 Pop hits. After being a recording artist for nearly a decade, Ocean finally had a double-platinum seller. He tried to continue the streak of hits with this fourth single from the album, but the song just didn't have the same allure as the others and it stopped shy of the Pop Top 20. However, it was able to get inside the Top 10 at both R&B (#10) and AC (#5). It would be the last charting single from the album.

ReduxReview:  This has a faint Luther Vandross feel to it. It's a nice tune, but it definitely wasn't as hooky or memorable as his previous hit singles. Frankly, I doubt Ocean or his label could have predicted that the album would need a fourth single, so they pretty much were stretching it here. However, it didn't do too bad overall with good showings at R&B and AC. In reality, they could have just stopped with the three main hits and skipped releasing this one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While Ocean was struggling to get his solo career off the ground, a few songs he co-wrote wound up being recorded by other artists. In 1980, Ocean released two singles from his album City Limit - "Are You Ready" and "Stay the Night." Neither one would reach the US charts, but both songs were picked up and recorded by LaToya Jackson. In 1981, Jackson would release "Stay the Night" as a single and it would get to #31 on the R&B chart. Another track from City Limit, "Who's Gonna Rock You," would get picked up by the Irish girl group The Nolans. They would issue it as a single in 1982 and get to #12 on the UK chart. It would not chart in the US.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

"Cherish" by Kool & the Gang

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2379
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  70
Peak:  2
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, Pop, R&B



Pop Bits:  The Gang's sixteenth studio LP Emergency was certainly on fire. With two Pop Top 10 hits already in the bag, including the R&B #1 "Fresh," the album was already selling better than their previous two efforts. However, the band was not done yet. For a third single, they dropped this sentimental ballad. Over time, its popularity grew until it finally spent three weeks in the runner-up spot at Pop. The single also got to #1 at R&B for a week and #1 at AC where it stayed in that position for six weeks. It was a huge crossover hit for the band that pushed Emergency to double-platinum sales. It would be the biggest selling studio album of their career.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't a big fan of "Fresh," so when this saccharine ditty came out, I wasn't having any part of it. I thought it was complete drivel. The lyrics were just so sappy and the single version's ocean and seagull sounds certainly didn't help. I always imagined that the seagulls were screaming "stop it, stop it!" Now, even though I really don't like this tune, I do appreciate the writing. The band tapped right into that formula that can make masses of people like a song - an easy, singable, catchy melody and chorus, along with simple chord changes that make it easy for folks to play. Add in wedding reception worthy lyrics and a hit was born. I still think it's sentimental claptrap, but it's hard to deny that the band hit a real crossover sweet spot with this one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This was one of only two songs that were successful enough at multiple formats to make three different year-end top singles charts for 1985. "Cherish" did well enough to come in at #17 for the year at Pop, #13 at R&B and #1 at AC. In addition to being the top charting song at AC for 1985, it would end up being the top charting AC song for the 1980s. The other song to reach all three year-end charts for 1985 was Whitney Houston's #1 hit "Saving All My Love for You." It finished at #5 for the year at R&B, #16 at AC, and #23 Pop.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Life in One Day" by Howard Jones

Song#:  2378
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  72
Peak:  19
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Jones grabbed his first US Top 10 hit with the #5 "Things Can Only Get Better," a track from his second album Dream Into Action. For a follow-up, this song was chosen for release. It did fairly well getting inside the Pop Top 20 while reaching #16 at AC.  It also made a showing on the Rock chart at #36. In the UK, this was the third single lifted from the album. It did about the same there getting to #14. The album would be a success on both sides of the pond going gold in the UK and platinum in the US.

ReduxReview:  I've always thought this had a bit of a children's song feel to it with it's tin whistle-ish little melody and lyrical sentiment. I really didn't have much hope for this song as a single. I just didn't think US pop listeners would take to it, especially with lyrics like "gets the hereditary bone." So I was quite surprised when the tune found its way into the Top 20. I thought there were better candidates for single contention on the album, but somehow this one ended up working. It's a good song with solid production that secured Jones another hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In the UK, the second single from the album was a track titled "Look Mama." It became Jones' sixth Top 10 UK hit reaching #10. The song was not issued as a single in the US. The beginning portion of the song features a woman and a young boy talking. That little conversation is a snippet of dialog from the 1974 Martin Scorsese film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The voices belong to the characters Alice (Ellen Burstyn) and her son (Alfred Lutter). The well-received film would win Burstyn an Oscar for Best Actress. In 1976, the movie was adapted into the hit TV sitcom Alice that starred Linda Lavin. The show ran for nine seasons.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Lay It Down" by Ratt

Song#:  2377
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  40
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Hard Rock



Pop Bits:  Ratt's debut LP Out of the Cellar was one of the biggest glam/hair metal albums of the 80s thanks to its #12 Pop/#4 Rock hit "Round and Round." They followed up that triple-platinum album with their next effort Invasion of Your Privacy. This first single kicked things off and it ended up doing well. It got to #11 at Rock while just making the Pop Top 40. The results were good enough to help push the album to #7. It would eventually sell over 2 million copies.

ReduxReview:  "Round and Round" was a winner because of its hooky pop leanings. It was just irresistible hard rock ear candy. The band tries to go for it again with this track and they end up making another solid radio-friendly hit. It may not grab you as intensely as "Round," but it's a well-written and produced slab of chewy rock coated in a thin crunchy layer of pop. It really should have done better on the chart, but it did well enough to show that Ratt had the ability to follow-up their signature hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In the video for this song, there is a little boy that is having a birthday party who makes a wish to be in a rock band and to get the girl. The boy was played by actor Whit Hertford. After his appearance in the video, Hertford would go on to make appearances in many TV shows and films including Jurassic Park, Glee, How I Met Your Mother, and Raising Hope. In the past few years, Hertford has turned his attention to directing plays, mainly with various London theater companies. Hertford is one of those actors where you may not know the name, but you know his face.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Bit By Bit (Theme from Fletch)" by Stephanie Mills

Song#:  2376
Date:  07/06/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  78
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  After three albums for the troubled Casablanca Records label, Mills made a switch over to MCA. Her first effort for the label was this song that was slated to be the theme for the Chevy Chase comedy film Fletch. It was pushed out as a single, but it didn't attract a lot of folks. It stalled at #52 at R&B while circling the bottom of the Pop chart for a few weeks. It did best at Dance where it was able to reach #15. It may not have been the best start to her tenure at MCA, but over the next few years she would end up grabbing five #1 R&B hits for the label.

ReduxReview:  With Harold Faltermeyer coming off of the success of Beverly Hills Cop and the Fletch movie doing well at the box office, it seemed like the soundtrack would have been a success as well, but it pretty much tanked. This urgent tune written by Faltermeyer and Franne Gold tried to capture the same audience that made Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack a massive success, but it just falls short. While it has a solid chorus, the production is just a bit too hyperactive and mechanical. There's no place for Mills to soar like Patti LaBelle did in her songs for BHC. I think the bones are here for a good pop song. It just needs a different arrangement and production.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was used as the theme for the movie Fletch, which starred Chevy Chase. A soundtrack was issued out that featured this song plus others by Dan Hartman, John Farnham, The Fixx, and Harold Faltermeyer, who worked on the film's score as well. While Fletch was a solid hit at the time, it has since become a sort of cult movie with a significant following. Based on a a series of novels by Gregory Mcdonald, Chase was not the first choice to lead the film. Both Burt Reynolds and Mick Jagger were considered for the part. However, Mcdonald had approval and didn't like either choice. He then agreed to Chase, even though Mcdonald was not familiar with any of his work. The film was successful enough to spawn a sequel, 1989's Fletch Lives, however it did not do nearly as well as the original.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

"The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis & the News

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2375
Date:  06/29/1985
Debut:  46
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  After five hit singles including four Top 10's, Lewis and his band were riding high with their multi-platinum album Sports. Thanks to its massive success, film director Robert Zemeckis approached Lewis to write a couple of songs for his upcoming movie Back to the Future. Lewis was skittish about the idea as he had never written for a film, but was finally convinced by Zemickis. With his band mates Chris Hayes and Johnny Colla, Lewis set out to write a couple tracks for the film. This first song didn't have anything to do with the film lyrically, but the music was perfect for the opening scene of character Marty McFly skateboarding through town. It was selected to be the single to represent the film and was released a few weeks prior to the movie's opening. It was an out-of-the-box hit debuting near the Top 40 and quickly climbing to the #1 spot. It would be Lewis' first chart topper and second gold seller. The song would also get to #1 at Rock and #6 at AC. The track was also helped along by the film, which was a huge box office hit. It would be the year's #1 grossing film. The associated soundtrack album, which featured a second Lewis track plus ones from Lindsey Buckingham and Eric Clapton, would get to #12 and go gold. The song would go on to received an Oscar nod for Best Original Song. It would also get a Grammy nod for Record of the Year.

ReduxReview:  This was just the perfect song at the perfect time for Lewis. To have it included in one of the biggest film hits of the decade was just icing on the cake. The song pretty much summed up the band's sound within four catchy minutes. I liked the song when it came out, but it wore on me quickly. It was just played to death. I got so sick of it that I avoided the song for years. However, it is truly well-done and I appreciate it. But truth be told, there are a few other songs in the band's catalog that I'd rather hear.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Lewis' other song for the soundtrack was "Back in Time." The lyrics for the song did related to points in the film and was used in the final scenes and end credits. The track proved to be popular at Rock radio getting to #3, however it was decided to not release the song as an actual single and therefore it did not make the Pop chart.  2) Lewis made a cameo in the film. When Marty McFly's band auditions to play at the school dance, they break out into a hard rock version of "The Power of Love." A teacher on the committee (Lewis) stops them quickly and says "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud."  3) Although not listed as a writer, the song did have another contributor. Apparently, Lewis was talking to Alex Call, who had been in a band called Clover with Lewis, and Lewis asked Call what he was working on. Call mentioned he was trying to write a song called "Power of Love." Lewis then later used that as inspiration for his new song. He could have left it at that and ignored the fact that Call supplied him with a title, but Lewis went back to Call and offered him a deal that would secure money for Call since he basically supplied the title. The one stipulation though was that he would not get a songwriting credit - just the deal for the title. Call accepted and was able to make money off of Lewis' hit. Call had earlier co-written another big 80s single, 1982's "867-5309/Jenny," which was a #4 hit for Tommy Tutone.

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2374
Date:  06/29/1985
Debut:  55
Peak:  5
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This nostalgic track debuted just as Adams' first #1 hit, "Heaven," was spending its second week atop the chart. As the fourth single from the album Reckless, the hit would finally propel the LP to the #1 spot for two weeks in August. It would become Adams' fourth Pop Top 10 hit. Surprisingly, it did not do well on the Rock chart. It got some airplay late in '84, making it to #40, but other tracks from the album overshadowed the song and it wouldn't return to the chart even after being a Pop Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  This is not too far off from the nostalgia that took Springsteen's "Glory Days" into the Top 10 - oddly, both songs peaked at the same #5 spot. It's definitely one of the better songs from the album and it was a good one to have on when cruising around in the car. The tune is well written and lyrically hit all the right notes. It triggered memories of summers past for a lot of folks.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) There is a line in the song that states "Jimmy quit, Jody got married." Adams got the names from actual people he worked with. Jimmy was a drummer in one of Adams' early bands while Jody referred to Adams' sound manager, Jody Perpick. Perpick got married as the sessions for Reckless were happening. Perpick and his new bride appeared in the video for this song driving away in a car that was decked out in wedding decorations and had "just married" written on the trunk.  2) The track seems to be looking back on Adams' summer in 1969. However, Adams was only nine years old that year, so it certainly wasn't about his actual experiences. Adams has said in an interview that the song was mainly about summertime and that "69" wasn't a reference to the year, but a metaphor about making love. Co-writer Jim Vallance preferred to take the 1969 reference more literally and said he was inspired by Jackson Browne's song "Running on Empty," which has the line "in '69 I was 21."

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

"Tired of Being Blonde" by Carly Simon

Song#:  2373
Date:  06/29/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  70
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Synthpop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Simon's fortunes in the 80s took a big hit after she was able to reach #11 with the 1980 single "Jesse." From that point on, nothing clicked for her. After three albums with Warner Bros., it was time for a change, so Simon took off and signed on with Epic. With a bevy of writers, producers, and musicians, she recorded her twelfth studio album, Spoiled Girl. This first single was issued to promote the album, but like her previous singles, it pretty much tanked. Even AC radio didn't take to the song and it stopped at a low #34. In turn, the album became the lowest peaking of her career barely mustering a #88 peak. A second single couldn't chart anywhere and that brought an end to her time at Epic. It would be two years before she would resurface again on another label (Arista) and experience a career resurgence.

ReduxReview:  This was certainly an attempt to keep Simon viable in the synthpop 80s (a la Melissa Manchester), but it just didn't work. The single sounds good for an 80s track - and it should with all the names involved, including four (!) producers. The problem is that the song it not all that good. It sounds like a tune Simon might have recorded in the 70s, but amped up for the 80s. It's a bit loud and rock-leaning, which was never Simon's strength. She's never been a forceful vocalist, so she kind of gets blown out by the production here. In other words, it all sounds forced and not at all like Simon. Luckily, she'd gain her mojo back with her next album.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was written by a gentlemen with a colorful name - Larry Raspberry. Raspberry was a musician and songwriter who was able to get some of his songs recorded by a few major artists like Simon, Jimmy Buffett, and Carl Perkins. Raspberry's own claim to chart fame was when he was with the late 60s band The Gentrys. That band was able to grab one major hit with 1965's #4 "Keep on Dancing." Another person in the band would go on to greater fame with a different career. Pro wrestling manager Jimmy Hart, aka "The Mouth of the South," was a member of The Gentrys and would later become quite famous during the WWF's 80s heydays.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

"Take No Prisoners (In the Game of Love)" by Peabo Bryson

Song#:  2372
Date:  06/29/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  78
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Bryson finally got his first Pop Top 10 hit when the big ballad "If Ever You're in My Arms Again" made it to #10 in 1984. The track would also reach #1 at AC and #6 R&B. His associated album Straight from the Heart would sell well and garner him a new set of fans. But keeping them was tricky and he was hoping his next LP Take No Prisoners would be another winner. Unfortunately, this title track from the new album couldn't do much of anything on the charts. It barely scraped the Top 40 mark at both R&B (#39) and AC (#37), while tanking near the bottom of the Pop chart. Two follow-up singles failed to do any better and that affected album sales. Bryson would have a tough time throughout the rest of the 80s, but he'd bounce back with a couple of soundtrack hits later in the early 90s.

ReduxReview:  Bryson's bread n' butter was always silky ballads, so it was bit of a surprise that he tried to grab a hit with this synthpop tune. While I appreciate that he wanted to break out of the crooner mold, this song just wan't going to do it. It's definitely not a bad tune, but it was a bit too pop-oriented for R&B, and not strong enough to make an impression at Pop. I think he needed to ride the line a bit more in the way that Jeffery Osborne did with songs like "Stay with Me Tonight." Bryson just needed better material at this point.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Billy Livsey and Sue Shifrin. Shifrin had written songs for several artists and recently had one of her tracks, "Show Some Respect," released as a single by Tina Turner (#37 Pop). Shifrin would later collaborate on a 1990 comeback album for teen idol David Cassidy. The album would be somewhat successful with the single "Lyin' to Myself" reaching #27 Pop/#25 AC. It was his first charting solo hit since 1972. Cassidy and Shifrin would marry in 1991. They would remain together until 2014. Cassidy would die of liver failure in November of 2017.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

"See What Love Can Do" by Eric Clapton

Song#:  2371
Date:  06/29/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  89
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Clapton's first single from his Phil Collins-product album Behind the Sun was the #26 Pop/#1 Rock track "Forever Man." It was written by Jerry Lynn Williams as was this next single. Results were not as good with the song stopping at #20 Rock while barely making the Pop chart for a couple of weeks. It would take four years before Clapton could get another single on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This laid-back mid-tempo track is not too bad, especially during a time when Clapton wasn't exactly recording radio-friendly material. Oddly, it reminds me a little bit of Steve Winwood's 1986 #13 track "Back in the High Life Again." I think Winwood's track just had a little more commercial flare to it and it sounded good on radio. Clapton's song just lacked a little charisma and excitement. Overall it's a good track, but nothing that was going to attract new fans to Clapton.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Around this time, Clapton began to get in on the whole soundtrack contribution thing. It pretty much started when the song "Heaven Is One Step Away" was selected to be on the 1985 soundtrack to Back to the Future. The track was originally recorded in the Behind the Sun sessions, but it failed to make the LP's final track listing. In 1986, a track from Clapton's new album August also found its way to the soundtrack for the Paul Newman/Tom Cruise film The Color of Money. "It's in the Way That You Use It" would be released as a single, but fail to reach the Pop chart. However, it would eventually become a #1 Rock track. Other soundtrack contributions would follow, but his most famous one came when he wrote one of his most personal songs, "Tears in Heaven," for the soundtrack of the 1992 film Rush. Released as a single, the song would be one of his biggest hits getting to #2 at Pop, #1 AC, and #9 Rock. The song would also earn Clapton three Grammy awards including ones for Record and Song of the Year.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Freeway of Love" by Aretha Franklin

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2370
Date:  06/22/1985
Debut:  54
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  Franklin grabbed her first gold album in years with her third Arista effort Jump to It, which featured the #1 R&B title track. Produced by Luther Vandross, he gave the album a more contemporary R&B feel that helped attract a new audience. However, her Luther-produced follow-up LP, Get It Right, couldn't maintain the same audience and didn't do as well. After the album's lackluster results, Franklin began paying more attention to what was happening in pop music. She liked the new sounds that were being developed and wanted to get in on the action. For her next LP, she brought on board hot producer Narada Michael Walden and the pair set out to modernize Franklin's sound. The results were issued in the new album Freeway of Love and the title track got things kicked off. The song would end up being her biggest hit in years reaching #1 at R&B, #3 Pop, #1 Dance, and #11 AC. The single's success would spur album sales and Franklin would be awarded the first platinum seller of her career. The song would also earn two Grammys - one for Best R&B Song and one for Best R&B Performance, Female, for Franklin. It was her 18th Grammy win.

ReduxReview:  How big of a deal was this song? Major. Franklin hadn't had a Top 10 Pop hit since 1973 and she was considered an ol' school artist by this time (at a ripe old age of 43!). Although she was still the Queen of Soul, no one expected her to have any more hits or have the ability to complete with the new 80s superstars. Then this song hit the airwaves and it completely clicked. It also helped that the song's video got her in heavy rotation at MTV, which was a significant accomplishment. Franklin was not only back, but the song kicked off a big revival of her career that lasted for quite a while. Not many artists get a second career with a newer, younger audience, but Franklin knew it was possible and she did it. This is a classic 80s track and it still holds up today. Just the opening percussion and hand claps is all it takes for folks to recognize this song. The production was outstanding, the song was great, the sax was hot, and Franklin sold it like no one else. Just brilliant.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to his songwriting and production career, Walden had also maintained a solo career since his debut album in 1976. Along the way he gathered a few R&B chart entries including two Top 10's. Walden had originally written this song as a possible candidate for one of his solo albums. It didn't make the cut, but when he began recording with Franklin, he thought the song might work for her.  2) The sax part was performed by E Street Band member Clarence Clemons.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"Like a Surgeon" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

Song#:  2369
Date:  06/22/1985
Debut:  74
Peak:  47
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Comedy



Pop Bits:  Yankovic truly established his career with his second album In 3-D. That platinum album featured the #12 hit parody "Eat It" along with two other charting singles. For his follow-up, Dare to be Stupid, Yankovic once again recorded a mix of parody songs, originals, and a polka medley. To get the ball rollin', this parody of Madonna's #1 hit "Like a Virgin" was released. While the video was another winner on MTV, the actual single didn't quite catch fire on the radio. It stalled before it could reach the Pop Top 40. However, for a comedy song, that result wasn't too bad. Yankovic's humor was perfect for the new MTV video format and four songs from the album would receive videos. The clips would be popular, yet further singles from the album failed to chart. The album would quickly go gold and then eventually become Yankovic's second platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  While this song was certainly ripe for a parody, I'm not sure I'd put it among his best efforts. It just falls a little flat on record. But like a lot of his material, it's better when there is an accompanying video. What makes it fun are the little touches that reference Madonna and her original video, such as the lion walking around and Weird Al mimicking Madonna's dancing. Without the visuals, the song is just not as clever as some of his other parodies.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  When Yankovic does a parody song, he usually comes up with the idea and then seeks permission from the original artist to record his version. However, in the case of this tune, it was the one time where the original artist basically came up with the parody idea. It seems that at some point following the success of "Like a Virgin," Madonna joked with a friend about how long it would take before Yankovic would turn her song into "Like a Surgeon." That friend happened to also be a friend of Yankovic's manager, and eventually word got to Weird Al that Madonna had talked about a parody. He thought it was a great idea and proceeded to write "Like a Surgeon."

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Monday, April 9, 2018

"Your Love Is King" by Sade

Song#:  2368
Date:  06/22/1985
Debut:  77
Peak:  54
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Quiet Storm, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Sade broke through to the US Pop chart with the exotic #5 "Smooth Operator," the second single from their debut album Diamond Life. For a follow-up, this next track was chosen. This song was originally the first single released from the album in the UK. It did well there getting to #6 in the spring of '84. As a third US single, it didn't fare all that well. It got to #35 at R&B while staying outside of the Pop Top 50.  However, the track was a winner at AC where it peaked at #8. Despite only featuring one major hit, the album did quite well reaching #5 and eventually selling over four million copies.

ReduxReview:  This smooth, jazzy track is another winner from Sade, but it just didn't have that same exotic groove that set "Smooth Operator" apart from all the other songs on the Pop chart. Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't try to reissue the first single, "Hang on to Your Love" (#14 R&B), as it might have caught on following the success of "Smooth Operator." However, the one hit was all that Sade needed to get their career established and success would continue for them over the years.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Sade's Diamond Life album won the Brit award for British Album of the Year in 1985. The Brits, which are awards from the British Phonographic Industry, were first awarded in 1977. It became an annual event beginning in 1982, however the awards were not televised. At the time they were still called the BPI awards. It wouldn't be until 1989 before the more common "Brit" would be used. The first televised awards ceremony of the annual event was in 1985, which was the year Sade took home Album of the Year honors. Since that time, the awards show has grown in stature and today is seen as the UK version of the Grammys. The artist that has won the most Brits over the years is Robbie Williams. He has won a total of 18, which includes 5 he won with his pre-solo band Take That.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

"St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" by John Parr

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2367
Date:  06/22/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  When producer/songwriter David Foster was put in charge of developing the soundtrack to the upcoming film St. Elmo's Fire, he reached out to rocker John Parr for some assistance. Foster liked Parr's work including his recent self-titled debut album that featured the #23 Pop hit "Naughy, Naughty." The pair then set out to come up with a theme song specifically for the film. Yet, instead of using the film and/or its script as inspiration for the song, Parr and Foster looked to another source, Canadian athlete Rick Hansen (see below). Once written, the pair would record the tune for the film's soundtrack. It would be selected as the first single from the associated album and issued out just a few weeks prior to the film's debut. Although it was a bit of a slow starter, the song gained traction after the film's release and after folks began to discover the real inspiration behind the song. It would eventually reach the top spot on the Pop chart while getting to #2 at Rock and #4 at AC. It would help the soundtrack album get to #21 and go gold.

ReduxReview: Without its backstory, who knows whether this song would have still been a big hit. I think it would have done well, but with the movie not a big box office blockbuster (it finished #23 for the year), it might have quietly hit and disappeared. However, the Hansen story tie-in certainly drew attention to the song and definitely had a hand in making it a hit. It turned the song from being a standard film tune into something inspirational. Even when this song became a hit, no one cared about the movie. The Brat Pack flick was a critical dud and no one flocked to the film because of this song. Basically, Parr and Foster found the perfect inspiration at the right time and came up with this 80s classic. Foster gives the tune a noisy, yet exciting production and Parr sells the tune with all he's got. Some folks think it's rather corny, but in the pantheon of inspirational rock themes, I think this one hangs right in there with other biggies like "Eye of the Tiger."

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When songwriting began on this track, Foster showed Parr a video of Canadian athlete Rick Hansen, who was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 15 following an accident. Hansen wanted to draw attention and raise money for spinal chord research and began a journey in his wheelchair. Called his "Man in Motion" tour, Hansen traveled about seventy miles a day in his wheelchair from place to place spreading the word and gathering donations. Initially, his efforts didn't garner a lot of press or attention, but after the song became a hit, he was put in the spotlight and soon he had traveled over 24,000 miles in various countries and raised over $26 million.  2) Although this song was eligible, the hit did not receive an Oscar nod for Best Original Song. There are folks that have speculated that the reason for the snub had to do with the song's inspiration. Academy rules state that a song must have been written specifically for the film, which this was. However, what made it a grey area for a lot of folks was the fact that the song was based on Hansen and had nothing to do with the film itself. In essence, it seemed like the song was not written for the film. Whether Hansen's story truly worked against the song is unknown, but all the attention certainly helped Hansen and his cause.

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

"Shout" by Tears for Fears

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2366
Date:  06/15/1985
Debut:  66
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  This UK duo hit it big in the US when their second album, Songs from the Big Chair, produced the #1 single "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." For a follow-up, this meditative anthem was pushed out. It would be another major success for them getting to #1 at Pop and Dance while reaching #6 Rock and #56 R&B. It would also become their first gold selling single thanks in part to the song's associated video, which was all over MTV at the time. The song would also send the album to the #1 spot later in July. It would remain in the top position for five non-consecutive weeks. Eventually it would sell over five million copies.

ReduxReview:  This song starts off with a big, arena ready chorus and never lets up from there. It was instantly memorable and like nothing else on the radio. The arrangement was terrific as was the atmospheric production courtesy of producer Chris Hughes. Nothing from their first album prepared anyone for this in-your-face blast and it rightfully became an 80s classic.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The album's title was inspired by the 1976 television film Sybil, which starred Sally Field and Joanne Woodward. Based on the 1973 book of the same name, the film centers on Sybil Dorsett and her multiple personality disorder. Sybil took comfort in sitting in her psychiatrist's "big chair" during their sessions. The book would be a best-seller while the film would go on to win four Emmy awards including one for Field. In addition to the film inspiring the album's title, it would also inspire a song. Tears for Fears would record "The Big Chair," which was an instrumental track that featured snippets of dialog from the Sybil film. While the song would not be included on the album, it would end up being the b-side to "Shout." It would also later appear on deluxe reissues of the album.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

"Stir It Up" by Patti LaBelle

Song#:  2365
Date:  06/15/1985
Debut:  81
Peak:  41
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  LaBelle finally got her first significant solo Pop hit with the #17 "New Attitude" (#3 R&B), which was a song she recorded for the soundtrack to the film Beverly Hills Cop. In addition to that one, LaBelle was lucky enough to get pegged to sing a second song for the film and after Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F" made it to #3, this second LaBelle track was issued out as the LP's fifth single. It nearly became her second Top 40 entry, but just missed that mark when it peaked at the dreaded #41 position. However, it did well at R&B getting to #5 while going to #18 at Dance. The two songs significantly broadened LaBelle's fan base and a new record deal with MCA would bring about her most successful single and album.

ReduxReview:  While this song was not as robust or catchy as "New Attitude," it was another solid effort from LaBelle. This should have been another Top 20 entry for her, but I think by this point the popularity of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack was in decline and since a lot of folks had been playing these tracks for so long, there just wasn't a lot of interest generated for this single. Still, it was a worthy addition to LaBelle's hits catalog.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) LaBelle would revisit this song years later for another soundtrack. For Disney's 2005 animated film Chicken Little, LaBelle remade this song in duet form with UK soul singer Joss Stone. 2) This song served as the theme song to the 1985 TV sitcom Stir Crazy, a show based on the hit 1980 Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor film. The show was not a hit and was cancelled after nine episodes. It starred Larry Riley and Joe Guzaldo. Riley had better luck later when he scored a regular role on the night time soap Knots Landing. He was on the show from 1988 until his unexpected death in 1992. Guzaldo continued to work on various TV shows and films over the years.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

"People Get Ready" by Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart

Song#:  2364
Date:  06/15/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  48
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Beck has long been one of the most influential guitarists of all time. Beginning with his breakthrough stint in The Yardbirds through to his successful Grammy-winning solo career, Beck's work has greatly impacted rock music. Rod Stewart is one of the biggest selling artists of all time and he actually got his big break back in 1968 when Beck chose him to participate in the recording of Beck's first solo album, Truth. A second LP, Beck-Ola, credited to the Jeff Beck Group would appear the next year. Both would become gold albums. Despite the successes, Beck's group fell apart. Beck would form a new version of his band and continue forward while Stewart signed up for a solo career and a stint in the band Faces. A decade and a half later, Beck began to prep his fourth proper solo album, Flash. He brought on board producer Nile Rodgers to help give the new collection a more commercial feel. In addition to Beck unusually supplying lead vocals on a couple of tracks, he invited his old band mate Stewart to do the honors on this track, which became the album's first single. The reunited pairing was catnip for Rock and the song scooted up to #5. It was also able to cross over to the Pop chart, but couldn't do much once it got inside the Top 50.

ReduxReview:  While I think both artists give it their best shot here, I think it is just too drawn out and a bit messy. It's just not a song that calls for a bunch of solo guitar work in addition to the vocals. It just doesn't make sense to me. It would have been better to just let Stewart sing the song and then add a solid guitar solo. Or, just let Beck's guitar handle the melody and not do a vocal. Stewart's voice and Beck's guitar seem to be straining over each other by the end and it's just too much, especially on a wonderful classic like this one.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally performed by The Impressions in 1965. Written by Impressions member Curtis Mayfield, the song reached #3 R&B and #14 Pop. While the classic tune would be covered by many artists, only the Beck/Stewart collaboration and a 2010 take by the cast of Glee (#41) have been the only ones to reach the Pop chart.  2) A track on the Flash album titled "Escape" ended up winning Beck his first Grammy.  He won for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. It would be the first of seven Grammys Beck would win over the years.  3) This was one of only three charting songs by Beck. His first was a collaboration with Donovan on the 1969 single "Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)," which got to #36. His third charting single came in 2007 when a live version of "Up to the Mountain" featuring Kelly Clarkson done for the Idol Cares program made it to #56. Despite the lack of charting singles, Beck has earned five gold and two platinum albums for his solo and Jeff Beck Group work.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"Burning Flame" by Vitamin Z

Song#:  2363
Date:  06/15/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  73
Weeks:  7
Genre: Synthpop, Rock



Pop Bits:  This group mainly consisted of two Sheffield, England, musicians, Geoff Barradale and Nick Lockwood. The pair wrote songs and gigged around for a while before capturing the attention of Mercury Records. They recorded their debut LP, Rites of Passage, and this first single was issued out in the UK earlier in '84. Despite not really catching fire (#80), they got the chance to see if they could break in the US. Geffen took the opportunity to sign them and the single and album got pushed out in the States in the summer of '85. The results were nearly the same as at home with the song stalling low on the chart. Oddly, the mid-tempo tune got some airplay in clubs and ended up hitting #27 on the Dance chart. It would be their only charting song in the US. A follow-up album would see the light of day four years later, but nothing came from it. Barradale and Lockwood would then part ways. Barradale would later move into management. He would later become the manager of the hugely successful UK group Arctic Monkeys. That band would have five consecutive #1 albums in the UK between 2006 and 2013.

ReduxReview:  This song definitely has a Euro feel that's not too far away from other UK bands like Tears for Fears or The Fixx. It's a song that doesn't necessarily hook you on the first listen, but after a few plays it settles in your ears just fine. The band had a nice sound and their production was pretty tasty. I just don't think they had a strong enough radio-friendly song to break them through on the charts. They had potential, but in the end it just didn't happen for them.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For anyone who is a fan of the Alan Parsons Project, the voice on this track may sound familiar. In 1987, Barradale would work with the Project on their final album, Gaudi. Barradale would handle the lead vocal duties on the track "Standing on Higher Ground." That song would be issued as a single and reach #3 on the Rock chart. It did not make it to the Pop chart. A video for the song was made, but Barradale did not appear in it.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

"Frankie" by Sister Sledge

Song#:  2362
Date:  06/15/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  75
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The last time Sister Sledge was on the Pop chart was back in '82 when they got to #23 with their remake of "My Guy." After their next LP failed to produce any significant hits, the girls had to regroup and plot a new course. To do this they brought back producer Nile Rodgers, who had worked with the group during their "We Are Family" heydays. He would produce their eighth album When the Boys Meet the Girls. This first single was issued out and it didn't do all that well stopping at #32 R&B while not making it out of the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. However, AC took to the song a bit more and it peaked at #15 there. It would be the group's final song to reach the Pop chart. The tepid results of the single didn't lead to a lot of album sales and it disappeared rather quickly. When all was said and done, Sister Sledge was dropped by Atlantic and their recording career came to a halt. It would take more than a decade before they were able to release a new album.

ReduxReview:  This old-fashioned tune was a good fit for AC, but it wasn't anything that was going to light up the Pop chart. Besides not having a memorable chorus, the tune was a bit too cutsey for pop radio. It just wasn't going to compete against the hook-driven rock and synthpop that was loading up the chart. I'm not all that shocked it did well in the UK (see below). The Brits often liked quirky stuff like this and there had been a few retro-ish songs over the past few years that did well on the UK chart. I find it to be a pleasant song and kind of fun, but even after several listens, the song doesn't stay in my ears.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  While this tune floundered in the US, it did find an audience across the pond in the UK. The song was embraced and it eventually spent four weeks at #1. It also reached the Top 10's of a few other European countries. Both the single and album would reach gold-level sales in the UK. Unfortunately, despite their success in the UK, the group wasn't given the opportunity to record a follow-up album.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

"Willie and the Hand Jive" by George Thorogood & the Destroyers

Song#:  2361
Date:  06/15/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  63
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  This Delaware blues musician along with his band The Destroyers gained some notoriety when a self-titled debut album appeared on the fledgling Rounder Records label in 1977. His next LP, Move It on Over, would be even more successful thanks to tracks like "Who Do You Love" getting attention on rock radio stations. The album would be a gold-seller that would eventually lead to an opening slot on a Rolling Stones tour and an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Thorogood left Rounder for EMI and recorded his next LP, 1982's Bad to the Bone. The title track, written by Thorogood, would only get to #26 at Rock, but over time its popularity grew and it became a signature tune that would be used in movies, TV shows, and ads. His next release, Maverick, would be another commercial success reaching #32 and going gold. It's popularity was mainly due to three Top 30 Rock tracks including this song, which crossed over to the Pop chart for a couple of months. It would be Thorogood's only song to reach the Pop chart. He would have continued success over the years gathering four Top 10 Rock tracks along with six gold and two platinum albums.

ReduxReview:  So when Thorogood's name came up on the chart, I fully expected the song to be "Bad to the Bone." I mean, how many times was that song played on rock radio and the video run on MTV? It seemed like a ton. However, that song took a long time to get off the ground, so it was never going to be a chart contender. But that's the song folks remember from Thorogood. They don't think of this remake, which became his only Pop chart song. Thorogood does his thing with this Diddley-beat tune and it's just fine. The thing about Thorogood is that he does what he does well, but he doesn't color outside the lines. You pretty much know what you are gonna get when you hear one of his tracks. If you like what he does, then it works out.  If you don't, then you just ain't gonna be a fan of his music.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Music was not Thorogood's only career choice. Baseball was a big passion and Thorogood did well enough to play for a minor league team. Apparently in the 70s he played second base on a team in Delaware's Roberto Clemente League. A 2011 article on Thorogood mentioned that he even receive a Rookie of the Year honor. A different article mentioned that he played for the Delaware Destroyers (the team does exist), which is odd because when Thorogood initially founded his band, he named them the Delaware Destroyers before later shortening it to just the Destroyers. There is little to confirm that Thorogood had an actual baseball career, but by most accounts he did play some kind of semi-pro ball in Delaware before making it big in music.  2) This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by Johnny Otis in 1958. Otis' single was a significant hit reaching #9 Pop and #5 R&B. Many other artists have covered the tune, but besides Thorogood, the only other performer to get the song on the Pop chart was Eric Clapton, who reached #26 in 1974 with his version.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

"When Your Heart Is Weak" by Cock Robin

Song#:  2360
Date:  06/15/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  35
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  This quartet headed up by singer/songwriter Peter Kingsbery and co-lead singer Anna LaCazio formed in the early 80s and by 1984 they were signed to Columbia Records. They set out to record their self-titled debut album and by the summer of '85 it was ready. To introduce the album, this first single was issued. The song lingered around the chart for quite a while and eventually peaked just inside the Pop Top 40. It also reached #28 at Rock. It would end up being their only charting single in the US. While luck in their homeland was limited, overseas their fortunes blossomed. This song reached the Top 10 in a few European countries. Its follow-up, "The Promise You Made," would become their biggest hit making it onto more charts and even hitting #1 in Belgium. Their next two albums would feature more chart entries in Europe, but by 1990 the band split. Kingsbury would move to France, where the band was very popular, and began a solo career. Cock Robin would reunite over the years and push out some new material, but none would be as popular as their mid-80s European output.

ReduxReview:  This song definitely had a Euro-pop feel, so it's not surprising that it did better on that side of the world. It's a mid-temp tune with a lot of atmosphere, a good chorus, and a nice vocal performance from Kingsbery. It's a subtle tune that falls in that weird area of not really being a ballad, but also not being something upbeat and danceable. Songs like that sometimes get lost on the chart. This one did okay, getting into the Top 40, but is should have done better. It's a lovely tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  So what's up with the band's name? Apparently it came from the old English poem "The Courtship and Marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren." The story, which seems to have also appeared in Mother Goose books, is about two birds who fall in love and get married. But tragedy strikes when a hawk swoops in to steal away Jenny Wren. A sparrow sees this happening and with a bow and arrow tries to kill the hawk. Unfortunately, the sparrow was a bad shot and instead of the hawk, the arrow hit Cock Robin and killed him. The name Jenny Wren would appear again in literature in 1864 when Charles Dickens gave that name to a character in his novel Our Mutual Friend. It was Dickens' last fully completed work. Paul McCartney would later write a song based on that character titled "Jenny Wren." I appeared on his 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. The song got McCartney a Grammy nod for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

"If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" by Sting

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2359
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  44
Peak:  3
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Following the tour that supported their mega-hit album Synchronicity, The Police decided to take a break with the three band mates heading out to do their own project. Lead singer/songwriter Sting decided he wanted to launch a solo career. Instead of trotting out the same style of rock that The Police had done, Sting brought in a set of jazz-oriented musicians to help create various sounds, styles, and textures for The Dream of the Blue Turtles. This first single got things started and it was an immediate hit at Rock getting to #1. It got near that peak at Pop hitting the Top 3 while also getting to #10 Dance, #17 R&B, and #39 AC. The hit would help the album get to #2 and it would eventually be a triple-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  Even though I had read ahead of time that Sting's solo album was going to incorporate different styles of music including jazz, I was still a bit jarred when I first heard this single. I just wasn't sure what to make of it. The song seemed to lean more towards R&B than jazz, yet it still had a bit of a pop/rock edge. It certainly wasn't the new wave rock of The Police (although the bridge certainly had a Police-ish feel). It took me a while to warm up to the song but it eventually won me over. The album was a mish-mash of ideas and styles and while it was interesting with some terrific stand-along songs, I didn't think it was a real cohesive work. He would release better albums later.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Not only was the album a hit with record buyers, it was also quite popular with the Grammy folks. It would generate four nominations including ones for Album of the Year, Best Pop Male Vocal, Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, and Best Engineered Recording. Although he would not win any of those awards, in the coming years he would end up winning nine Grammys for his post-Police work.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

"Get It On (Bang a Gong)" by The Power Station

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2358
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  58
Peak:  9
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This "supergroup" featuring Robert Palmer on lead vocals scored a hit out of the gate with the original track "Some Like It Hot" (#6 Pop). For a follow-up, this cover tune (see below) was issued. It became the band's second Top 10 single while getting to #19 at Rock. By this point the album had already visited the Top 10 and was well on its way to platinum status.

ReduxReview:  I remember reading critical reviews of this song back in the day and there was a lot of poop thrown at Power Station's version. It was one of those "how dare they mess with a classic" type of things. On one hand I can see their point as there was no one who was going to replicate or improve upon the original's soulful grooviness. On the other hand, I think critics were too harsh on this remake. Power Station's loud, brash take was an appropriate update for the mid-80s. As with "Some Like It Hot," the production was terrific and Palmer's vocal dug in and took a stand. Yes, it wasn't nearly as cool as T. Rex's glam original, but I thought it was a solid remake that worked for the time period. Plus, it hopefully led young listeners to discovering the joys of T. Rex.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the glam rock band T. Rex. Written by the band's leader Marc Bolan, their 1971 version would be T. Rex's only Top 10 hit in the US (#10). The actual title of the song was "Get It On," but was changed to "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" when released in the US. The update was to help avoid any confusion with a single of the same name that was released the same year by a US jazz-rock band called Chase. Chase's original instrumental reached #24 on the Pop chart. T. Rex would only have the one Top 10 hit in the US, but in the UK they fared far better. They scored eleven Top 10 hits with four of those hitting #1.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Never Surrender" by Corey Hart

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2357
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  68
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  This Canadian singer/songwriter scored an indelible and enduring classic 80s hit with 1984's "Sunglasses at Night" (#7). After a second Top 20 entry from his debut LP, Hart returned to the studio to work on a follow-up. As with his first album, Hart wrote all the songs (save for one co-write he did with bassist Russell Boswell), but this time around he dabbled in a new role as co-producer. This single would be issued to introduce the new LP titled Boy in the Box.  In Canada, the song would rocket to the top of the chart and remain there for four weeks. When it crossed the border, it also did well on the US Pop chart reaching #3. It also got to # 8 at both AC and Rock. It would end up being Hart's biggest charting hit in the US. Back in Canada, the song would win the Juno for Single of the Year.

ReduxReview:  "Sunglasses" may be his legacy song, but this big empowerment track is pretty darn great as well. It's a well-written and produced track with Hart providing an impassioned vocal. Even the synths sound like they are chugging with purpose. With the addition of a melodic sax solo, there was no way this wasn't going to be a hit. Although "Sunglasses" is a pure classic 80s, I'd have to say that this one is actually the better overall song.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song's title along with its message were partially inspired by one of Britain's greatest leaders. Apparently, Hart is an avid admirer of Sir Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister who ushered England through the second world war. In one of Churchill's major addresses to the House of Parliament, known as the "we shall fight on the beaches" speech, he states emphatically that "we shall never surrender" in regards to a potential invasion by the Nazis. That speech was recreated in the 2017 film about Churchill titled Darkest Hour. Gary Oldman's portrayal of Churchill won him the Oscar for Best Actor.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"State of the Heart" by Rick Springfield

Song#:  2356
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  22
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Springfield's album Tao was his first regular studio album since 1981's Working Class Dog to not have its first single reach the Pop Top 10. "Celebrate Youth" would stall at a low #26, which didn't set the album up to match the platinum sales of his previous four albums. To try and help revive the LP, this second single was issued. While it did a little better than "Celebrate Youth," the song still couldn't manage to get inside the Top 20. It also failed to appear on any other chart. With no other singles being released, the album faltered at #21 and sales were kept at gold-level. It was a sign that perhaps his peak charting days were over.

ReduxReview:  Not necessarily known for his ballads, Springfield tossed this mid-tempo one out and it did fairly well. AC was never a big supporter of his tunes, but I'm a little surprised the format didn't pick up on this one. I liked the track and thought it was a good candidate for a single. Unfortunately, a detour into a bad film didn't help Springfield and his new, dense, Euro synth-rock sound wasn't winning new fans. I think the album might have done better if the label had taken a chance and released this ballad first. It may not have been a major Top 10 contender, but it had the chance to do better as a lead single rather than the follow-up to a weaker one.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally done by the Australian band Mondo Rock. The song's writer, Eric McCusker, had become a member of Mondo Rock prior to the recording of their second album, 1981's Chemistry. He offered up the song to the band and they decided to include it on the record. It would be the band's breakthrough album in Australia thanks in large part to McCusker's song, which reached #6 on the chart. Aussie Springfield was most likely familiar with the song and decided to cover the tune. However, Springfield wasn't completely satisfied with the song as-written. In Mondo Rock's original, the bridge section was a short instrumental passage with a little improvised falsetto vocal over the top. Springfield wanted something a bit more, so he and guitarist Tim Pierce wrote a different bridge that included new lyrics and a guitar solo. Mondo Rock would remain popular in Australia throughout the 80s. They attempted to break in the States, but it just didn't work. The best they could do was one lone chart entry in 1986 titled "Primitive Love Rites," which got to #31 Rock and #71 Pop.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Make It Better (Forget About Me)" by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Song#:  2355
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  54
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Petty's collaboration with Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, "Don't Come Around Here No More," was an odd hit reaching #13 Pop and #2 Rock. It was helped along by an Alice in Wonderland-themed video that won an MTV Video Music Award. The song was taken from the album Southern Accents as was this second single, which was the LP's second Petty/Stewart collaboration. This effort didn't fare quite as well peaking at #12 at Rock while missing the top half of the Pop chart. However, it kept sales of the album going and eventually it would be Petty's third platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This horn-driven tune is nothing like the psychedelic rock of "Don't Come Around Here No More." It's also a bit different from Petty's typical output. It sounds more like something that the J. Geils Band would record. While it all worked fine, it just wasn't the right choice for a single. Actually, there weren't many single contenders on the album to begin with, so it probably didn't matter what was selected. Petty had always been more of an album artist anyway, so just getting "Don't" high up the chart was a solid win.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1970, Petty formed a band called Mudcrutch and for a long while they were the house band at a local Gainsville, Florida, bar. Later in '74, the band got signed to the L.A.-based label Shelter Records and was able to issue one single. Nothing came from it and the band broke up late in '75. The following year, Petty and a couple of his Mudcrutch band mates would form Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Flash forward to 2007 when a wave of nostalgia found Petty reforming Mudcrutch with several of its original members. An album was recorded and released the following year. It reached #8 on the Album chart. In 2016, the band got back in the studio once again to record a follow-up. Simply titled Mudcrutch 2, the album would contain a re-recording of a song Petty originally wrote for inclusion on the Southern Accents LP titled "Trailer." The album replicated the success of the first one and reach #10. Unfortunately, it would be the last full album project to be released by Petty prior to his unexpected death in the fall of 2017.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

"I Wonder If I Take You Home" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2354
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  34
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Freestyle



Pop Bits:  The three brothers and three cousins that formed Full Force began as musicians and songwriters and came to prominence when they co-wrote, produced, and performed on UTFO's Top 10 R&B hit "Roxanne, Roxanne." They began to branch out into artist development when teenager Lisa Velez auditioned for them and from there Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam was formed. With Full Force writing, producing, and performing, Lisa and her two band mates recorded this song that ended up getting them signed to Columbia Records. The song first caught on in the clubs and it went to #1 on the Dance chart. It would then do well at R&B getting to #8 while crossing over to the Pop chart and getting into the Top 40. It took a while for the song to fully catch on, but the slow roll, consistent sales, and MTV exposure turned it into a gold record. By the time fall came around, the group's self titled debut album would be on shelves.

ReduxReview:  This song was quite influential back in the day and continues to be so with artists like The Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Kylie Minogue, and others sampling it on their own tracks. It's unfortunate that it ended up getting overshadowed by the more pop-candy coated hits the group would grab later as this is the superior song and their best moment. That early freestyle sound is spot on and it is matched well with the background harmonies and Lisa's innocent vocals pondering a not-so-innocent question. It should have been a much bigger hit in its day. If all you know of Lisa Lisa is "Head to Toe," reach back and grab this one. You'll be glad you did.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song took an usual route on the road to becoming a hit. It seems that it got recorded in '84 with support from a small label called Personal Records. Apparently, a producer discovered the track and wanted it for a compilation album he was assembling that would be titled Break Dancing. The LP would be issued via CBS in Europe and this song started to gain a lot of attention. Soon the song would make it back Stateside in the form of an import and US clubs began spinning the tune. That was when Columbia came calling to sign the band and officially release the single.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

"(Closest Thing To) Perfect" by Jermaine Jackson

Song#:  2353
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  67
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Jackson's previous single was "When the Rain Begins to Fall," a #54 duet with Pia Zadora that came from the soundtrack to the film Voyage of the Rock Aliens. Next up for Jackson was another film soundtrack song. This time it was the title track to the John Travolta/Jamie Lee Curtis romantic drama Perfect. The soundtrack included songs by artists like Nona Hendryx, Berlin, Thompson Twins, the Pointer Sisters, Lou Reed, and others, but it was this Jackson track that would be first issued as a single. Like the film, the song didn't do very well and peaked early at Pop and R&B (#63). It would be the only official single released from the soundtrack except for a 12" version of Nona Hendryx's "I Sweat (Going Through the Motions)," which was a tune Hendryx had previously released and charted with in 1984 (#40 Dance, #28 R&B).

ReduxReview:  This song was co-written by Jackson with Bruce Sudano and Michael Omartian (both of Donna Summer fame). It is highly overproduced (by Omartian) in a synthetic 80s fashion and the song itself it not all that memorable. The tune is jittery and hyperactive with enough swirling synths to make you dizzy. Yet somehow I still like this song. It's not great, nor is it the best work Jackson has done, but it's fun and an interesting listen. I'd certainly bop around in my spandex and leg warmers if this came around on a playlist.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The movie Perfect used the workout/aerobics craze of the 80s as its backdrop and the fact that some fitness clubs in larger cities were frequented by singles looking to get picked up. Travolta was coming off of two poorly reviewed movies and this one extended the streak. It was a critical and commercial flop that got nominated for three Golden Raspberry Awards including one for Travolta for Worst Actor (his second nomination at that point). Travolta would take a five year break before returning in the hit 1989 film Look Who's Talking. But it wouldn't be until 1994's Pulp Fiction that Travolta truly returned. His performance in the film earned him a Best Actor Oscar nod.  2) The soundtrack to the film featured a duet between Jermaine Jackson and new star-on-the-rise Whitney Houston. Both singers were Arista artists and since the soundtrack would also be on the label, the pairing made sense. The upbeat track was quickly forgotten about after the film and soundtrack tanked. However, it was revived in 1987 when the song served as the b-side to Houston's #1 hit "Didn't We Almost Have It All."

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