Monday, September 24, 2018

"Sidewalk Talk" by Jellybean

Song#:  2537
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  18
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  John "Jellybean" Benitez was an up-n-coming DJ/remixer in New York whose career got a significant boost after meeting a singer at a club. Her name was Madonna and it wasn't long before she and Jellybean were in a relationship. It happened at a time when Madonna was starting to get her solo career going. Jellybean would remix songs from Madonna's debut album and would produce her first Pop chart hit, the #16 "Holiday." With his name and work getting attention via Madonna's successful debut album, Jellybean decided to do a project of his own. As Madonna was beginning to prep her second LP, Jellybean asked her to write a song for his project. She dug up an idea she had initially though of for her first album, finished it off and gave it to Jellybean. The song was "Sidewalk Talk" and he got it recorded for an EP titled Wotupski!?! In addition to writing the song, Madonna provided some of the vocals. The tune was issued out as a single and it got to #1 on the Dance chart. It also did fairly well at Pop getting into the Top 20 while going to #51 at R&B. Unfortunately, Jellybean and Madonna only stayed together a couple of years. She would become a worldwide superstar while he would be an in-demand remixer/producer that would grab nine of his own Dance Top 10's including three #1's.

ReduxReview:  There was no mistake that this was a Madonna track. It definitely sounded like an outtake from her debut album, especially with her voice prominent in the chorus. It's a good track, but when it comes down to it, this became popular after folks figured out the Madonna connection. If she didn't write and sing on this track, it probably would have been tagged as a Madonna rip-off and ignored. Even today it is associated with Madonna. I mentioned the song a bit ago with friends and one person spoke up and said "oh, that's an old Madonna song, right?" I supposed that's not bad, but it does make me feel that Jellybean wasn't shy about using his Madonna connection to boost his own career. I can't blame him though. I probably would have too. Yet in the end, this tune became a forgotten relic in Madonna's history and no one speaks of Jellybean anymore. Apparently he works for SiriusXM and produces a Studio 54 show/channel.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was not Jellybean's first charting song. Just prior to this hit, another song of his, "The Mexican," became a popular club track and it ended up becoming his first #1 at Dance. The song was actually a remake of one originally recorded by the UK rock band Babe Ruth. Written by band member Alan Shacklock, it was recorded for the band's 1972 debut album First Base. The song also used portions of Ennio Morricone's score from the film For a Few Dollars More, so Morricone received a songwriting credit. While it wasn't issue as a single, it did evade obscurity to become an influential track in hip-hop music. It was sung by Jenny Haan, who Jellybean tapped to do the vocals on his version.  2) The lead vocal credit on this song was given to Catharine Buchanan. Buchanan does the verse/rap section while Madonna takes over on the chorus. Despite being prominently featured on the hit, it seems that Buchanan couldn't parlay it into her own career. She moved to London a bit later and did get to do one single in Europe for Arista titled "Love Is," but nothing came from it. Apparently, she did continue to work in music for a while and was also a florist. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2002.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

"A Love Bizarre" by Sheila E.

Song#:  2536
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  11
Weeks:  23
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  With an assist from Prince, Sheila E. established herself with her #7 debut single "The Glamorous Life," which made her album of the same name a gold seller. Her association with Prince spilled over into her second LP Romance 1600. The first single issued from the album, "Sister Fate," didn't catch on. The song peaked at a minor #36 at R&B while not even reaching the Pop or Dance charts. With that song failing to launch, the label quickly issued out this next single to try and get things going. With Prince helping out on vocals, the jam slowly caught on and eventually became a #1 Dance track while going to #2 R&B. This time around, Pop radio embraced the tune and it nearly made the Top 10 peaking at the dreaded #11. It would be Sheila E.'s last single to get into the Pop Top 40. The hit helped spark album sales and soon it would be a certified gold seller.

ReduxReview:  On the album, this song is a very, very long 12-minute jam. For no real reason. After the main section of the song is done around the 4-minute mark, there is just a lengthy 8-minutes of not much going on. There is some noodling solo work along the way, but there was nothing to warrant such a long end to the tune, except perhaps as album filler because they couldn't get another song done in time. Whatever the reason, it's a total bore. Thankfully, there was a single version which took the monotone jam with it's four-note melody and made it listenable. In reality, there is barely a hint of a song here. However, it works because Prince created a tight jam that was interesting and it sounded unique on the radio. It's certainly fun to groove to for a few minutes, but after that, I lose interest.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although all the tracks on the album were credited as written and produced by Sheila E. (save for this song, which also credited Prince for writing/production), it was another case of Prince not taking full credit for the work. Of the album's eight tracks, Prince mainly wrote and produced seven of them with input from Sheila E. The only track Sheila E. wrote on her own was the instrumental piece "Merci for the Speed of a Mad Clown in Summer."

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

"Dangerous" by Loverboy

Song#:  2535
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  65
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After several attempts and one very close call, Loverboy finally got into the US Pop Top 10 with the title track from their album Loving Every Minute of It (#9). That #3 Rock track should have helped out this follow-up single, but it didn't. The song stalled at #23 on the Rock chart while only making it a third of the way up the Pop chart. It was a disappointment following a significant achievement for the band, but they would get back on track with the LP's third single.

ReduxReview:  This is a solid track from the band and from the Adams/Vallance team (see below), but it just didn't have that same hookiness as their previous hit. I find the start/stop arrangement of the chorus interesting and Mike Reno does his best to sell the tune, yet it is just shy of being memorable and single-worthy. It was a good addition to the album though.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. It was another charting song for the pair who were having quite a run with Adams' singles and songs they pumped out for other artists. This track was originally called "Reckless" and was recorded by Adams. Although his version failed to make the final cut of tracks that made up his fourth album, he ended up using the song's title for the name of the album. The song was then pushed over to Loverboy for their album. Adams' original recording of "Reckless" later became available as a bonus track on the 30th anniversary edition of his Reckless album.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

"This Time" by INXS

Song#:  2534
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  91
Peak:  81
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock, New Wave



Pop Bits:  INXS were quite successful in their native Australia, but it was taking time to get established elsewhere. Their third and fourth albums started to get them noticed in the US thanks to 1983's "The One Thing," which made it to #2 Rock and #30 Pop. Hoping to grow their international audience, the band recorded their fifth album Listen Like Thieves. In the US and Europe, this track was selected to be the first single. While it did okay at Rock getting to #11, the song couldn't make any inroads at Pop and it fizzled after a short stay on the chart. This certainly did not set the album up for success, but luckily for them the LP's second single would turn things around.

ReduxReview:  From the "what were they thinking?" file... I mean, they had a definite hit on their hands with "What You Need," which was the first single issued out in Australia, so why on earth would they put this track out? It's a good song in a U2-ish kind of way, but it was nothing that was going to grab them a more mainstream audience. They almost blew it with this single. It could have sunk the album, but luckily "What You Need" was strong enough to overcome this false start.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Following their tour in support of the new album, the band took a bit of a break. Some band members took advantage of the time to work on other projects. Lead singer Michael Hutchence got an opportunity to star in an indie Australian film called Dogs in Space. Appropriately, he played the leader of a band called Dogs in Space. In addition to starring in the film, Hutchence would write and perform songs for the soundtrack. The movie was not a box office hit, but it did gain a bit of a cult following in later years, especially after INXS became worldwide stars.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Love Grammar" by John Parr

Song#:  2533
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  92
Peak:  89
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Earlier in '85, Parr issued out "Magical," the second single from his self-title debut album. It was a good hit at Rock getting to #11 while only reaching #73 Pop. Still, it was enough to warrant a third single and this track was selected. Unfortunately, soon after its release a song Parr recorded for a film, "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)," was also put out. Of course, that song became a chart topper while "Love Grammar" got completely ignored. While having the hit was fantastic, it didn't come at the best time. Parr had nothing to follow it up. He was working with other artists at the time and had not recorded anything for his second album yet. Wanting to keep Parr's name out there and hoping to capitalize on the #1 "St. Elmo's," his label reissued "Love Grammar" and paired it with a new MTV video. Despite the extra push, the song still didn't connect and it disappeared after a quick couple of weeks on the chart. It even failed to make the Rock chart. Parr wouldn't be able to get out any new material for another year.

ReduxReview:  This didn't need to be released a second time. Regardless of "St. Elmo's," this wasn't going to be a hit. It wants to be an arena rock type of track via someone like Bon Jovi and it is nearly successful in the chorus, but the balance of the song isn't memorable. It makes for an interesting album track, but it really wasn't a good single candidate. Plus, after the more mainstream sound of "St. Elmo's," no one was going to pay attention to this rockin' track.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Thanks to "St. Elmo's," Parr got more opportunities to supply songs for movie soundtracks. This song would be used in the 1986 film The Flight of the Spruce Goose, which starred Karen Black (Easy Rider, Airport '75). Parr would also write a song specifically for the film titled "Steal You Away (Flight of the Spruce Goose)." It would appear in the movie and become the closing track on Parr's second album, 1986's Running the Endless Mile. Parr also had songs in the films Quicksilver, Three Men and a Baby, American Anthem, The Running Man, and Near Dark.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Discipline of Love (Why Did You Do It)" by Robert Palmer

Song#:  2532
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  82
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Palmer was somewhat successful in the late 70s scoring two Top 20 hit including 1979's "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)" (#14). His further follow-ups failed to ignite much interest and his career seemed to be fading. Then he got the invite to join The Power Station and Palmer's career and MTV presence got a major boost thanks to hits like "Some Like It Hot" (#6). He then decided to parlay his success with Power Station back into a solo career. Although he left the band, two members (Tony Thompson and Andy Taylor) and their producer Bernard Edwards helped Palmer record his eighth album, Riptide. This track was selected to be the first single, but it failed to make an impression of any kind. It stalled at #63 at Rock while not even making it out of the basement of the Pop chart. It was definitely not what Palmer was looking for following The Power Station, but luckily things would turn around for him in a big way with the LP's second single.

ReduxReview:  It confounds me why this was issued not only as the first single, but a single at all. Maybe the thought was that it sounded more like the rock of Power Station and it was a good transfer song to Palmer's solo career. It certainly wasn't because it was a hooky track with lots of Pop potential. The slick production was great, but the song was just one long jam that wasn't very memorable. It's a solid album track, but it should not have been a single. This song tanking could have killed the album, but Palmer got lucky break with a far, far, far better second single helped along by a classic video.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was written by David Batteau and Don Freeman. Batteau has written songs for many artists including Bonnie Raitt, Seals & Crofts, Art Garfunkel, Donna Summer, Trisha Yearwood, and Michael Sembello (the #34 "Automatic Man"). Along the way he attempted to also make a name for himself as a recording artist. His first attempt was with his brother, Robin, in a duo simply known as Batteau. Their 1973 self-titled album didn't get anywhere, but the LP's first single, "Tell Her She's Lovely," would be recorded the same year by the band El Chicano. Their single version made it to #40 on the Pop chart. Batteau then went solo for a 1976 album titled "Happy in Hollywood." Again, nothing came from it. Then around the time Palmer was picking up this song, Batteau formed the trio Nomo and recorded the album The Great Unknown. Their first single, "Red Lipstick" got some video airplay, but the song failed to reach any chart.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Can You Feel the Beat" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force

Song#:  2531
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  94
Peak:  69
Weeks:  20
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Freestyle



Pop Bits:  This group headed up by Lisa Velez scored a significant hit with their first single "I Wonder If I Take You Home." The song hit #1 at Dance and #6 at R&B while breaking into the Pop Top 40. It ended up earning them a gold record. For a follow-up, this track from their self-title debut album was issued out. It did well at Dance getting to #6, but both R&B (#40) and Pop didn't quite take to the song as well as their first single. However, it was a slow simmering song that hung around the charts for a long while.

ReduxReview:  This is another good track from the newly formed group, but it just didn't have the same hookiness or allure as "I Wonder." It was less memorable, but still a fun listen especially when they tinker with/scratch Lisa's vocals. The single version makes the song a bit more concise, but it just wasn't destined to be a big hit. Still, it slowly spread to radio stations across the country and the song lingered for a five-month period.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In 2004, the teen pop/dance duo Nina Sky used the main lyrics and melody from this song during the bridge of their #4 Pop/#14 R&B hit "Move Ya Body." The song would make their self-title debut album a gold seller. Nina Sky was made up of identical twins Nicole and Natalie Albino. The duo got their name by combining the first two letters in each person's first name, then adding "sky" to the end because that represented their aspirations. While the pair still continue to perform and record, they have yet to replicate the success of their debut single and album.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Oscar Alert!
Song#:  2530
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  40
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  As Richie was basking in the glow of his Grammy-winning #1 album Can't Slow Down, he got offered the chance to write a song for an upcoming film directed by Taylor Hackford. Hackford's two previous films both generated #1 songs so with Richie's star power at the time, it seemed a third one was not out of the question. Richie accepted the challenge and set out to write a song based on the film's title White Nights. When that proved too difficult of a task, he wrote this ballad for the film. By this point in time, another song from the movie, "Separate Lives" by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, was already out and headed to #1. With that song doing well, Richie's tune was then pushed out just a couple weeks prior to the film's release. The single debuted in the Top 40 and then quickly made its way to the top spot becoming Richie's 10th straight solo Top 10 and 5th #1. It would later earn Richie both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Original Song.

ReduxReview:  Yes, it was a big #1 hit, it was a gold record, it won an Oscar (but to note - no Grammy nominations), and folks loved it, but I just did not like the tune at all. Richie is basically a pop song writer so I don't expect literary prose, but I had a hard time figuring out what this song was trying to be about. Even today, I still can't tell you what "say you, say me, say it together, naturally" means. And "believing who you are - you are a shining star" makes "tutti frutti" sound like Chaucer. Then two-thirds of the way through, Richie jump-shifts the thing into a dance tune. WTF? It made no sense at all. It was almost like Richie was trying to do a Paul McCartney "Live and Let Die" kind of thing, but it did not work. There are song that can get away with big tempo changes and it can be effective, yet this is not one of them. A tinkly, treacly AC ballad does not need to get all dance-popped up out of nowhere. For me, this is where Richie jumped the shark. I lost interest in his music after this.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Although Richie wrote this song specifically for the film, he recorded and released the single via his home label, Motown. However, the soundtrack album for the film was going to be released by Atlantic. Usually deals are made between labels for the usage of songs and artists, but for this song it didn't happen. Apparently Motown didn't want Richie's first single following his mega-successful Can't Slow Down to be on another label, most likely because they smelled a big hit coming and didn't want to share it with another label. They also wanted to parlay this into being the first single from Richie's next album, which he was working on. With Motown not really willing to deal, the song was not included on the film's soundtrack album. It was an unusual move, but ultimately one that seemed to pay off for Motown and Richie.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

"Love Is the Seventh Wave" by Sting

Song#:  2529
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  61
Peak:  17
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, New Wave, Ska



Pop Bits:  Sting's debut solo album was shaping up to be a significant hit thanks to two Top 10 hits including the #3 "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free." Wanting to keep the streak going, this third single would be issued out. It would do nearly the same business on three charts getting to #17 Pop, #20 AC, and #19 Rock. While it wasn't able to crack the Top 10, the single helped to extend the life of the album, which would eventually sell over 3 million copies.

ReduxReview:  This sunny ditty showed a different side to Sting. A good chunk of his work with The Police and even his debut album's first two singles were a bit dark and intense. The ska beat and the jazzy sax playing by Branford Marsalis brightened things up and listeners responded quite well. I wouldn't have pegged this as a Top 20 single, but somehow it managed to make that mark. It's certainly a forgotten hit in Sting's catalog. I never much cared for the tune. I thought it was one of the weaker tracks on the album.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This positive song about love gets a little mocked at the end by Sting via another one of his hits. As this song begins to fade, Sting starts to sing bits of "Every Breath You Take," his biggest hit with his former band The Police. That song's more stalker-ish love obsessed theme cuts into this song's love-will-solve-all message. It's almost like saying, yeah, that seventh wave is great but there is a rogue wave out here that could still crush it all.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

"That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne & Friends

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2528
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  67
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Charity



Pop Bits:  Warwick and her main songwriter/producer Burt Bacharach hadn't worked together in over a decade due to a falling out that they had. But time heals wounds and the pair got back to working together for the 1985 theme song to the TV show Finder of Lost Loves. With their relationship rekindled, the pair (along with Bacharach's wife at the time Carole Bayer Sager) decided to work on songs for Warwick's next album. This specific tune got overlooked the first time around (see below), yet after hearing it Warwick wanted to record it, but not by herself. She wanted it as a duet with Stevie Wonder. After Warwick recorded her part, Wonder was brought into the studio. For his visit, Bayer Sager invited a friend of hers to watch - Elizabeth Taylor. With Taylor present, conversations started about her work with AIDS charities. Warwick was sensitive to the issue wanted to bring more attention to the disease and those affected, especially since at the time it was still something not widely talked about as there were stigmas attached. Bayer Sager then suggested that perhaps the song could be a charity single to benefit AmFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research). The idea was put in motion and they decided to bring on two more star vocalists to help with the sing. R&B superstar Gladys Knight signed on to be the third vocalist and the fourth person to come on board was Elton John. All the vocal parts were recorded separately and then stitched together in the studio. When finished, the song was issued out as a single. It would end up hitting #1 at Pop, R&B, and AC. It would also go on to win two Grammys - one for Song of the Year and one for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. Its four weeks at #1 helped the tune become the #1 charting song at Pop for 1986. In the end, the song would raise over $3 million for AmFAR. Although all four vocal parts were recorded separately, Warwick, Wonder, Knight, and John got together to film the song's video.

ReduxReview:  This was the perfect song for the perfect cause done by the perfect stars and released at the perfect time. The lyrics were just right and gave a supportive message, which is what was truly needed at this point in time. The song and its celebrities did a lot to bring attention and knowledge to the AIDS crisis and helped to erase some of the horrible negativity and neglect that was going on. For that, this single certainly gets a 10+ rating. Looking at just the song itself, it's well-written and sentimental without being too saccharine. Yet had Warwick recorded this as a solo song and released it as a single without the charity aspect, would it have done as well? Very doubtful. I might have even listened a couple of times and then ignored it. The tune might have scored well at AC, but I don't think it would have been a blockbuster #1. It was really the star power brought to the song by all four vocalists along with the cause that made it work.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was originally written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager for the 1982 film Night Shift starring Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton. The song would server as the closing credits' theme. It was performed by rock superstar Rod Stewart. The track would not be issued out as a single. The film was critically well-received but only did moderate business at the box office.  2) The original fourth voice on this song was Luther Vandross. Although at the top of the wish list for the last vocalist was Elton John, those involved didn't know if they could get him to come on board. So they first decided to do it with Vandross, who came in and recorded his part. Yet when it was all done, Bacharach and Sager just though the song still needed a bigger star that could provide a standout vocal. When they finally reached out to John, he accepted and participated in the project.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

"Everyday" by James Taylor

Song#:  2527
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  79
Peak:  61
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The early 80s were rough for James Taylor. His marriage to Carly Simon ended, he was battling a drug addiction, and he was grappling with depression. By the time 1985 rolled around, Taylor was considering retirement from music. But then he accepted a gig at Brazil's Rock in Rio festival and after getting a huge reaction from a massive 300k crowd, Taylor rethought his plans. Energized by the performance, a cleaned-up Taylor began writing songs again and went into the studio to record his eleventh album, That's Why I'm Here. Despite having written the majority of songs on the album, this remake (see below) was selected to be the first single. Of course the tune was embraced by AC and it peaked at #3 on that chart. At Pop, Taylor's soft rockin' sound wasn't all that hip in the mid-80s and the song fizzled in the bottom half of the chart. Two more singles would be issued from the album and while they would not reach the Pop chart, the tunes would make it to the AC Top 10. That support would help Taylor get his seventh platinum album.

ReduxReview:  Taylor was really smart with this album. He could have easily done what some of his contemporaries attempted to do by updating his sound and trying to fit in with current trends, but he didn't. Taylor stayed true to who he was as a songwriter/artist and he did an album that wasn't out of line with most any other in his catalog. It paid off quite well with big support from his fans and from AC radio. So while I totally respect that, I just wasn't a fan of his music. I liked some of his 70s hits, but other than that I've never had much of a connection to his tunes. This little ditty is no exception. It's a simple remake of a minor pop classic that really doesn't do anything for Taylor or the song. It's an inoffensive cover that's as comfy as an easy chair and is perfect to hear while doing crafts. While there is nothing really wrong with that, it just wasn't my cup of tea (which would actually go well with this song - a little chamomile, a lovely cookie, and James Taylor).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally co-written and performed by Buddy Holly. Holly's 1957 version would end up being the b-side to his big #3 hit "Peggy Sue." Despite being a b-side, the song has become one of Holly's most recognizable recordings and it has been covered by many artists. Besides Taylor, the only other artist to hit the Pop chart with the song was John Denver, whose 1972 version reached #81 (#21 AC).  2) Taylor was so taken with his experience at the Rock in Rio festival that he wrote a song about it. "Only a Dream in Rio" would be included as a track on the album. Taylor sings in both English and Portuguese. He had a portion of the lyrics translated into Portuguese by Jim Maraniss, a professor at Amherst College.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

"Goodbye" by Night Ranger

Song#:  2526
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  17
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The band's third album, 7 Wishes, would be a #10 platinum seller thanks to three Pop Top 20 hits including this third single. It made it to #17, which was just a couple notches higher than their previous single "Four in the Morning (I Can't Take It Anymore)." The track would be their seventh Rock Top 20 reaching #16. Night Ranger's career would be at an all-time high with the 7 Wishes album. Unfortunately, good things often come to an end and this song would be the band's last to reach the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  This album closer was a good choice for a third single. It had a nice melodies throughout and I liked the fake ending followed by the final kick from the band. The song has a bit of a modern country feel to it and I'm surprised a country artist didn't pick this up to record. I'm sure it would have been a hit. It was a missed opportunity for some country artist.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  A track from 7 Wishes was recorded and used for a soundtrack album prior to its inclusion on the album. The song "Interstate Love Affair" was used in the 1984 film Teachers. It was also included on the film's associated soundtrack. However, the song was not issued as a single. Three other songs would be pushed out as singles instead including Bob Seger's #17 "Understanding" and 38 Special's #25 "Teacher, Teacher." These two songs helped sell the soundtrack, which made it to #34.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"Small Town Girl" by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band

Song#:  2525
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  64
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Cafferty and his crew made their first attempt to be on their own minus the attachments of the fictional movie band Eddie and the Cruisers with an actual debut album titled Tough All Over. At this point, the LP spawned a couple of Top 20-ish hits including the #18 "C-I-T-Y." This third single got issued out in hopes of another good chart showing, but it just couldn't quite make it. The tune stalled a third of the way up the Pop chart while missing the Rock chart completely. While it wasn't a good result, the previous two singles helped the album make a decent showing at #40.

ReduxReview:  This ol' school rock 'n' roll sound wasn't much different from what Huey Lewis & the News were doing with "If This Is It," "Stuck with You," and "Doing It All for My Baby." Yet the songs worked as hits for Lewis while this one could barely get out of the starting blocks. Certainly it helped that Lewis and his band had already established themselves in a big way, so they were quite the hot act, while Cafferty was trying to get out from under the shadow of Eddie and the Cruisers. However, what might have made the difference is the production and the way the song was performed. The song itself is just fine, but Cafferty and crew just seem to be along for the ride and the tune comes off a little lethargic; whereas Lewis' tracks were full of energy and smartly produced. This song might have had a better chance if they would have given it a little extra style and zip.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  As fictional movie bands go, Eddie and the Cruisers were certainly memorable, especially since the film was about them. There have been plenty of other fictional bands in film and in 2016 Rolling Stone assembled a list of the 25 best. Although the music was written and performed by Cafferty and his band, Eddie and the Cruisers ranked #18 on the list. Others that made the list were oddball ones like Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes (#6) from Star Wars (more widely known as The Cantina Band) and ones like The Blues Brothers (#2), where the actors created and actually performed as the band. The #1 spot was reserved for a band that, like The Blues Brothers, originated from a comedy sketch show. Spinal Tap was a fictional band made up of real actors/comedians (Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer) who played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. They would become the subject of the hit 1984 mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Face the Face" by Pete Townshend

Song#:  2524
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  26
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  For his third solo effort of the decade, Townshend decided to do a concept album, his first since The Who's classic 1973's rock opera Quadrophenia. While that album and 1969's Tommy were sprawling double albums that were eventually made into films and stage shows, Townshend's White City: A Novel would be a lean nine track set that would be released in conjunction with a longform video titled White City: The Music Movie. The LP's story centers on life in a low-income housing area of London's White City district. To promote the disc, this first single was issued out. It was a hit at Rock getting to #3 while cracking the Pop Top 30. The album would also peak at #26 and eventually reach gold-level sales. Unfortunately, it would be Townshend's final single to reach the Pop chart. The LP would generate two other Rock chart entries including the #5 "Give Blood."

ReduxReview:  I can't honestly say what attracted me to this song back in the day. I wasn't a fan of The Who at the time and so Townshend would have been far off my radar. Yet there was something about the song's quick beat, horn section, and Townshend's delivery that got my attention and I bought the single. Strangely, I didn't purchase the album, which had a couple of other tasty tracks that I liked, especially "Give Blood." While the concept was kind of lost on me, I thought it was a solid effort from Townshend and it did end up making me buy his next concept LP (see below).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Townshend's follow-up to this album was the 1989 musical adaptation of the 1968 Ted Hughes sci-fi novel The Iron Giant. This time around for the concept album, Townshend enlisted the help of other musicians such as his former Who band mates along with John Lee Hooker and Nina Simone. The album would spawn the #3 Rock hit "A Friend is a Friend," which was performed by Townshend. An actual stage version of the musical would be mounted in 1993 and it proved to be successful enough for Warner Bros. to want in and do a film version. By the time the animated film was completed in 1999, Townshend's songs were eliminated and the story altered. Despite the changes, Townshend was credited as an executive producer and paid accordingly. Directed by a pre-Pixar Brad Bird, the film was a critical success, but audiences stayed away. It was a box office dud at the time, but thanks to home video and cable, the movie did find an audience and it became a bit of a cult hit.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

"The Big Money" by Rush

Song#:  2523
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  45
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Prog Rock



Pop Bits:  The last time Rush was on the Pop chart was in 1982 with "New World Man," a #21 entry from their album Signals. It was at a time when the band began incorporating more synths and music technology into their prog rock. The album went to #10 and it encouraged the band to continue developing their new sound for the 80s. In order to do so, they thought it was time to part ways with their long-time producer Tom Brown, who had co-produced every Rush album with the band except for their 1974 debut. Wanting a fresh start, the band brought in Steve Lillywhite (U2) to co-produce, but then he dropped out to work with Simple Minds. After going through various candidates, they settled on Peter Henderson and recorded 1984's Grace Under Pressure. Despite not having any singles reach the Pop chart, the album got to #10 and went platinum thanks to the support of rock radio on a few tracks. Not happy with Henderson, they ditched him in favor of Peter Collins for their next LP Power Windows. Their evolution with synths continued and was on full display with this first single from the album. The song made it to #4 at Rock and then surprisingly did well on the Pop chart nearly getting into the Top 40. That result helped the album get to #10 (their third in a row to hit that spot) and go platinum. Unfortunately, it would be their final single to reach the Pop chart. Despite that, the band would continue to have hits at Rock grabbing fourteen Top 10's through to 2002 with four of them hitting #1. Rush would call it a day after a final tour in 2015.

ReduxReview:  Rush had been adding more layers of synths and effects ever since their classic 1981 LP Moving Pictures and it really exploded with Power Windows. The opening of this track sounds massive with the added layers of 80s technology. It sounded very regal and impressive at the time. The song itself is not necessarily pop radio fare, but the individual sections were quite hooky and when stitched together it created something that had a bit of commercial flare, which was not the norm for Rush. It did unexpectedly well on the Pop chart. The grand opening certainly drew me in and I liked Geddy Lee's spitting bass work on the track.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Over the years, Rush amassed 41 Juno nominations (Canada's equivalent of the Grammys). That has them tied for 5th on the list of acts with the most nominations. They would win 10 of the awards. While they would never win a Grammy, they were nominated seven times. In 2013, their career accomplishments and their musical influence got them inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

"Small Town" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2522
Date:  11/02/1985
Debut:  51
Peak:  6
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Mellencamp's eighth album Scarecrow got off to a solid start with the #1 Rock/#6 Pop hit "Lonely Ol' Night." Next up was this second single that would nearly top the Rock chart at #2. It would do the same business at Pop as "Lonely" did reaching the #6 spot while getting to #13 at AC. That result made Scarecrow Mellencamp's third album in a row to featured two Top 10 Pop singles. The album got close to the summit of the chart, but ended up having to settle for a #2 peak. Eventually, it would sell over 5 million copies, which was the same amount as his 1982 #1 breakthrough album American Fool.

ReduxReview:  If "Lonely Ol' Night" turned me back on to Mellencamp's music, then this song made me a diehard fan. The opening drums and guitar lick blasted through my speakers and I knew I was totally smitten when Mellencamp stated, "Well I was born in a small town." All this took place before the band really kicked it in. This instantly became my favorite Mellencamp song and it still remains at the top of the list. This song is a bit unusual for a pop hit because it doesn't have a chorus. It's all verses with a middle bridge and instrumental section. Yet the melody of the verses and guitar lines were strong enough to be memorable and hook listeners. Even all these years later, the song still moves me when I hear it. Sometimes I just rock out to it, other times it hits my emotions. I've never gotten tired of hearing it and that is one of the hallmarks of a truly great piece of music.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  On the Scarecrow album, this song is preceded by what sounds like a snippet from an old 78 record with an older lady singing a song. Despite sounding old due to added effects, it was actually a recent recording. Earlier in 1985, Mellencamp recorded his grandmother Laura singing an old tune titled "In the Baggage Coach Ahead." That song was written by Gussie Davis in 1896 and it was considered a big hit at the time as it sold over one million copies of the sheet music (records weren't quite a thing yet). The song tells the story of a man riding a train with a young child. As everyone is going to sleep for the night, the child starts crying, which disturbs the other passengers. A few get angry about it and one tells him to take the child to its mother. However, the man can't as his wife is dead and her coffin is in the baggage coach. Realizing the situation, the passengers then become sympathetic and the man tells the story of he and his wife. Davis' song was apparently based on a true incident that was accounted and witnessed by a railroad porter. The story from the song went on to inspire a 1911 film short titled In the Baggage Coach Ahead.

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

"Tonight She Comes" by the Cars

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2521
Date:  11/02/1985
Debut:  59
Peak:  7
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Cars were at an all-time peak. Their album Heartbeat City was a quadruple-platinum seller that boasted five Top 40 entries including two Top 10's. It was their fifth album and by this point it seemed like an opportune time to issue out a hits compilation. Greatest Hits was assembled and it included their main hits plus a couple of extras which included this brand new track. It was issued out as a single to promote the album and it made a beeline to the top of the Rock chart. It crossed over to Pop and easily found its way to #7. It would be the band's final single to reach the Pop Top 10. The Greatest Hits album would end up selling over 6 million copies making it their best-selling album alongside their 1978 self-titled debut, which was also certified 6x platinum.

ReduxReview:  I didn't pay a lot of attention to this song when it came out. I think I was just kind of done with The Cars after Heartbeat City ran its course. However, now I find it to be one of their better songs and an overlooked single in their catalog. It is unmistakably a Cars track. The percolating rhythm, concise and hooky pop writing, and Ric Ocasek's droll voice were all trademarks of the band. When they got the formula right, as they did with the tune, they made ear-resisible candy-coated pop/rock confections. This one may not be as tasty as some of their classics, but it's still pretty good.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  All the songs on the band's Greatest Hits album ended up on the US Pop chart (all reached #41 or better) except for one. The title track to their LP Heartbeat City, which was not issued as a single in the US, was included instead of their #20 "Hello Again" or key rock radio tracks like "You're All I Got Tonight." It was an odd inclusion since all the other songs on the albums were considered hits. One potential reason for its inclusion could be that it was released as a single in some countries including the UK where it got to #78. Because of that, it might have included as a possible single candidate for the Greatest Hits album. Whatever the reason, it was still an odd choice since the band had amassed 13 Pop chart entries along with 3 addition Rock radio airplay tracks, which was plenty to choose from for a hits compilation.

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Friday, September 7, 2018

"Walk of Life" by Dire Straits

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2520
Date:  11/02/1985
Debut:  61
Peak:  7
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  While Dire Straits had enough fans in the US to sell a few gold and platinum albums, their popularity wasn't necessarily widespread. That changed when "Money for Nothing," the first single from their fifth album Brothers in Arms, became a big #1 smash. That hit would help propel the album to #1 for a nine week stay. Also lending a hand was this second single that wound its way into the Pop Top 10. It would be the first time that the band was able to land two Top 10 hits from one album. The track would also get to #6 at Rock while becoming their first to reach the Top 10 at AC (#4).

ReduxReview:  I've never liked this ode to London tube buskers. I found both the honking keyboard lick and Mark Knopfler's "woo-hoos" utterly annoying. It was a goofy, dorky little ditty that I promptly ignored. However, I have to give credit to Knopfler for writing a song that is near perfect for a mass audience. The jangly, old-style rock 'n' roll rhythms, the song references, the memorable keyboard melody, and the "do the walk of life" hook were irresistible to a wide variety of folks, especially nostalgic AC listeners. He got it just right. However, that doesn't mean I have to like it (which I still don't...).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The first single released from the album in Europe was "So Far Away." It was a middling hit in most countries including the UK where it got to #20. The b-side to that single was "Walk of Life." After Brothers in Arms became a major success, "Walk of Life" was later released as the fourth single. It would end up hitting #2 in the UK making it their biggest hit along with 1982's "Private Investigations," which also reached #2. Apparently, the band's producer did not want the song to be included on the album, but he got outvoted by the band members and the track was included in the lineup.

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

"Burning Heart" by Survivor

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2519
Date:  11/02/1985
Debut:  64
Peak:  2
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Survivor experienced a career revival with their fifth album Vital Signs. Featuring new lead vocalist Jimi Jamison, the LP spawned a pair of Top 10's including the #4 "The Search Is Over." The boost in popularity came at the right time as Sylvester Stallone came knocking on their door to write a song for his film Rocky IV. Survivor had their biggest hit with the #1 "Eye of the Tiger," which they did for Rocky III, so it seemed logical for Stallone to ask for another one. The band's main songwriters, Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik, started working on a song as soon as they read the script. The tune would become the theme song to the movie and it was issued out as a single. Lightning pretty much struck twice for the band as their second Rocky theme song nearly got to the #1 spot. In doing so, it became their second biggest hit after "Eye of the Tiger."

ReduxReview:  Survivor could have easily done a retread of "Eye of the Tiger," but they didn't. Although this has a similar anthem-like feel that fits the Rocky character, it doesn't mimic their previous hit and it stands on its own. It also helped that the band was popular once again with the platinum Vital Signs. While it may not be as iconic as "Eye of the Tiger," this song held its own and it kept the band's streak of hits going.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Apparently, the original title of the song was "The Unmistakable Fire," which was the chorus' final hook line. However, Stallone didn't much care for the title and wanted a change. The original chorus to the song began "In the human heart, just about to burst." Sullivan suggested they change "human" to "burning" and then use "Burning Heart" as the title. Peterik wasn't digging it too much because another band, Vandenberg, had a recent hit by the same title (#39 Pop/#5 Rock) and it reminded him of someone having heartburn. Yet, he relented and the change was made, which seemed to appease Stallone.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

"Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid

Song#:  2518
Date:  11/02/1985
Debut:  74
Peak:  38
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock, Charity



Pop Bits:  After E Street member Steven Van Zandt visited South Africa and witnessed the racial segregation that was happening at the time, known as apartheid, he wanted to try and do something to bring more attention to the situation. It was proposed that perhaps he do a song along the lines of "We Are the World," but one that was more political and not necessarily related to a charitable cause. Working with journalist Danny Schechter and producer Arthur Baker, Van Zandt wrote the song "Sun City," which was a resort that catered to rich white people. Big name music acts were coaxed to play there even though the UN had in place a cultural boycott for South Africa (obviously there's a lot more to all this, which I can't recount here - just look it up and get some history). Van Zandt then began asking other musicians to join in on the recording of the song with the stipulation that they would never play at Sun City. Around 40 artists decided to participate including Bruce Springsteen, U2, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, Keith Richards, Miles Davis, and Bonnie Raitt. A video would be made for the song along with a short documentary film on the making. Proceeds from the song would benefit several anti-apartheid organizations. When the song was released in the US, it didn't do all that well and it just scratched the Top 40. It did better in other areas of the world hitting the Top 10 in some countries. When it was all done with, Van Zandt's project netted about $1 million. It was a small fraction of what USA for Africa pulled in, but it certainly brought attention to apartheid, which would finally come to an end in 1994.

ReduxReview:  I think this song did a fine job bringing light to apartheid. Frankly, at the time I had no clue as to what was going on, so this song did make me aware and pay more attention to the situation. Although the song did have a tough time due to lack of airplay (see below), I still think it would have been a struggle to get further up the chart because it didn't have that mass appeal sound like "We Are the World." This was a brash synth-rock tune with a political message and that was going to be a difficult sell to a general audience. The song itself is pretty solid. Van Zandt did a nice job creating a hooky anthem. If he had just written this as a regular, non-political song with other words and recorded it himself, he still might have walked away with a decent chart entry.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to the song, an album was also culled for the project. It included two versions of "Sun City" plus new topically related songs from Peter Gabriel ("No More Apartheid" with L. Shakar) and Bono ("Silver and Gold" with Keith Richards and Ron Wood). The LP would make it to #31 on the chart, but failed to reach gold level sales. Unlike other benefit singles where the charities still exist and the songs get revised by another generation of artists, after the end of apartheid this song disappeared and the album went out of print. It is now more of a historical relic of a bygone era.  2) One reason cited that the song didn't do so well was because a large chunk of US radio stations decided not to play the track. Because it was a political protest tune, many stations didn't want to be associated with anything political in nature and refused to air the song.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

"Freedom" by The Pointer Sisters

Song#:  2517
Date:  11/02/1985
Debut:  78
Peak:  59
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The first single from the Sisters' album Contact, "Dare Me," didn't perform quite as well as they wanted when it got caught in the #11 position at Pop. It did a little better at R&B getting to #6, but it wasn't a smash hit like the singles from their previous album, the blockbuster Break Out. This second single got issued out, but it pretty much flopped. It couldn't get inside the top half of the Pop chart while only making #25 at R&B. It did slightly better at AC reaching #16, but it certainly wasn't a hit. While the popularity of the group still made the album a platinum seller, it wasn't nearly as successful as the triple platinum Break Out.

ReduxReview:  By this point in time, the Sisters were not known for doing R&B-leaning ballads. Their dance-pop had taken over the airwaves for the past couple of years and that's what folks were still expecting. So pushing out this track was a definite change of pace. The idea of putting one out wasn't a bad idea at all, it was just that this wasn't the right one. The tune's quiet, rolling rhythm and unhurried melody wasn't strong enough to grab a big audience. It was a nice album closer and the Sisters sounded great, but it was not worthy of being a single.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1984, composer David McHugh wrote the score to the Robin Williams film Moscow on the Hudson. In addition to the instrumental music, McHugh also wrote several songs for the film including "Freedom." That original version of the song was performed by Chaka Khan. Khan also sang the song "Starting Over Again" for the soundtrack. Neither song was released as a single. The Pointer Sisters would then later pick up "Freedom" and record it for their album. McHugh would continue to write music for films, TV shows, commercials, and stage musicals.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

"Count Me Out" by New Edition

Song#:  2516
Date:  11/002/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  51
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  This Boston vocal group were riding high thanks to their crossover hit "Cool It Now" (#4 Pop, #1 R&B), which led to their second album going double platinum. However, they also found themselves in debt to MCA after the label dug the boys out of a bad deal they had with a production company. Because of that, they had to do what they could to work off the debt and a step towards that was this third album. Hoping for another big hit, they released this first single. While it was another winner at R&B getting to #2, it didn't do as well at Pop and it faltered just shy of the halfway point on the chart. Still, their popularity along with a couple more R&B Top 10's pushed the album to platinum. It was a significant drop from their previous album and wouldn't be enough to get the boys out of hock with MCA just yet.

ReduxReview:  I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This song was by the same writers as "Cool It Now" and it basically sounds like a retread of that tune. It's like "Cool It Now, Pt. 2." Pop listeners weren't buying into it and the song fizzled. The song is just as good as "Cool It Now," but since it offered absolutely nothing new from the group (except maybe deeper voices), it played like a knock-off. It was a move that cost the band a chunk of their audience, but they still remained popular enough to get a platinum LP.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  It was around this time that group member Bobby Brown was ousted from the group. A number of factors played a role in the decision including Brown not getting the lead vocal parts (the label preferred Ralph Tresvant leading the group), breaking out into his own dancing at shows, overtaking lead vocals from other members, missing plane flights, and feeling that the band was not making any money. There were arguments within the group and soon the label and their management decided to step in and force the other members to vote Brown out because he wasn't fitting in and was harming the image of the group. There are various stories on how this all happened, but in the end Brown left and went on to start a solo career. By the time the video for this song was being made, Brown was gone. He doesn't appear in the video and any featured parts he sang were lip synced by Ricky Bell. Brown would later rejoin the group in 1996 and then again in 2005.

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Sunday, September 2, 2018

"Election Day" Arcadia

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2515
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  46
Peak:  6
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  When Duran Duran took a break, the members splintered off into two side project bands. John and Andy Taylor developed The Power Station ("Some Like It Hot," #6 Pop), while Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes created Arcadia, with Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor working in the studio with them (Taylor did some work with The Power Station as well). Arcadia, along with Alex Sadkin, produced the band's debut album So Red the Rose. This first single was pushed out ahead of the album and after a high debut it headed right for the Top 10. It was also a slight entry at Dance getting to #29. While the album only peaked at #23, it would still be a platinum seller, as was The Power Station's debut, which made it to #6.

ReduxReview:  Well, like a lot of Duran Duran songs, the lyrics here make zero sense. Perhaps it does to someone, but not me. Plus, the title of the song vs. the lyrics have always bugged me. The song is "Election Day," yet in the chorus Le Bon sings "re-election day." He does say "election day" at one point, but not in the chorus. I guess the title was just better without the "re." Despite all that, I liked this song when it came out. Unlike the rock of The Power Station, this one didn't veer too far from in the Duran Duran lane and it could have easily been one of that band's tracks. The addition of Jones (see below) was terrific and she made the most out of the indecipherable lyrics. Neither of the albums from the two offshoot bands were all that good, yet I'd say Arcadia's was a hair better due to some experimenting they did with a couple of tracks. It made the album more interesting than the bland rock track from The Power Station (with the exception of their two Top 10 hits).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The center section of this song featured a spoken word passage. That part was done by singer/model/actress Grace Jones. The pairing of Jones with the band most likely came about due to the James Bond film A View to a Kill. Jones co-starred in the film while Duran Duran supplied the hit #1 theme song. Jones was at hear peak around this time period. Her recording career that was doing quite well with 1981's Nightclubbing hitting #32 and her 1986 song "Slave to the Rhythm" hitting #1 Dance. She also co-starred in several hit films including A View to a Kill, Conan the Destroyer, Vamp, and Boomerang. She even appeared in Pee Wee Herman's 1988 TV Special Christmas at Pee Wee's Playhouse where she did her version of "The Little Drummer Boy."

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Saturday, September 1, 2018

"Wrap Her Up" by Elton John

Song#:  2514
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  53
Peak:  20
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  John was bouncing back a bit in the 80s with two platinum albums in a row. Each LP featured one Top 10 hit plus two other Top 40 entries. Hoping to keep the streak going, John next issued out Ice on Fire, an album that reunited him with producer Gus Dudgeon. Dudgeon produced all of John's album output from 1970-1976 (ten albums, six consecutive #1's), which was his most successful period. But the reunion didn't provide the same results and this first single set the tone. It just barely made the Pop Top 20 while missing all other charts. This in-turn made the album stop at #48, which was a career worst for John. Eventually, the album would go gold thanks to the success of a second single, but the results certainly killed the momentum he built up from his two previous releases.

ReduxReview:  As much as I love Elton John, he recorded some wolf-wolf dogs along the way and this was one of them. In fact, the album is pretty terrible overall. This pseudo-pop/blues jam has a dense, yet tinny production that that borders on obnoxious. George Michael's ball crushing forced falsetto didn't help matters. Then there was the stupid list of ladies that went on way too long. I guess these were meant to reflect the women described in the lyrics, but it just didn't work. For me this ranks as one of the worst Elton John singles to have actually become somewhat of a hit.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  John got a helping hand from another famous singer on this track and another from the album. Recognize the voice? It belongs to newly minted star George Michael. The Wham! leader lent his pipes to this track (uncredited) and also made an appearance in the song's associated video. Near the end of the song, the pair began a list of over 20 female celebrities that included Marlena Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, and Brigitte Bardot. Another name mentioned was Kiki Dee, John's duet partner on the 1976 #1 hit "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart." Dee also makes a cameo in the video and even sang background vocals on the song.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

"Do It for Love" by Sheena Easton

Song#:  2513
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  68
Peak:  29
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Dance



Pop Bits:  Easton's career reached at all-time high with her album A Private Heaven. Bolstered by two sexy Top 10 hits including the Prince-penned "Sugar Walls" (#9), the album would be her only studio album to reach platinum status. When it came time for her follow-up LP, Easton got paired with producer Nile Rodgers, who was hot property following his work on Madonna's Like a Virgin album. It seemed like an ideal pairing, but instead of staying with the catchy pop of her previous two hits, Rodgers took Easton into dance/club territory and came up with Do You. This first single was issued out, but unfortunately the new direction wasn't so popular. The song barely made the Pop Top 30 while getting to #21 Dance and #39 AC. Despite the results of the single, enough fans showed up to buy the album and it was able to go gold, which was still a disappointment after the success of A Private Heaven.

ReduxReview:  Although fans liked this album and reviews were somewhat favorable, even Easton later said that it was a misstep. Easton wasn't Madonna and yet Rodgers (and probably her label) led her down that path. I've always though this song sounded just like something Madonna would have done around this time. I can even hear her singing it. Madonna might have been able to take this higher on the chart due to her massive popularity, but it just wasn't the right fit for Easton especially coming on the heels of her juicy pop confections from A Private Heaven. The song wasn't all that strong either. I remember being disappointed the first time I heard it. It would be two years before she'd have another big hit, thanks to Prince.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:   This song was written by Adele Bertei and Mary Kesler. Bertei had played in bands since the late 70s including the all-female punk/funk band The Bloods. She later got into dance music and was signed to Geffen for a short bit. Her lone single for them, "Build Me a Bridge," was a #5 Dance hit produced by Thomas Dolby. Although an album failed to materialize, she continued to work with Dolby and appeared on his album The Flat Earth specifically supplying the backing vocals for his single "Hyperactive." A second attempt at a solo career happened in 1988 when Bertei was signed to Chrysalis. This time she was able to get an album out titled Little Lives. The track "Little Lives, Big Loves" would get to #40 on the AC chart. She would have one more Dance chart entry in 1994 when she did the vocals for (and co-wrote) the Arthur Baker track "Kiss the Ground (You Walk On)." It got to #34. In addition to this Sheena Easton tune, Bertei also had songs recorded by The Pointer Sisters, Matthew Sweet, and Jellybean.

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Emergency" by Kool & the Gang

Song#:  2512
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  77
Peak:  18
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Kool & the Gang's sixteenth studio album Emergency would end up being their biggest selling going double-platinum thanks to three Top 10 Pop hits including the #2 "Cherish." They kept sales rolling along with this title-track single that was able to get inside the Pop Top 20. It was their twenty-second Top 10 at R&B getting to #7 while making a brief #41 appearance at AC. With the album only containing seven tracks, this fourth single would be the last issued from the LP.

ReduxReview:  This album opener has a bit of a "Misled" feel to it in the verses which I like, but it switches to a smooth synthpop sound for the chorus and the song kind of looses me there. For a song titled "Emergency," the chorus should be intense and urgent. It's still a pretty good song from the band, but in their catalog of hit singles this one ends up being forgettable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Gang's 1974 album Light of the Worlds was their second gold-seller thanks to two R&B hits including the #1 "Higher Plane" (#37 Pop). However, it would be another track on the album that would perhaps have the most longevity. "Summer Madness" would not be issued out as a single from the album, but it was selected to be the b-side to the first single and title track of their next album Spirit of the Boogie. While that song would end up getting to #1 at R&B, the b-side started to get some attention and soon it got to #36 on its own. On the Pop chart the two songs would be a double-sided entry that would get to #35. "Summer Madness" would also be used in the Oscar-winning 1976 film Rocky, but it was not included on the soundtrack album. The song would remain a popular entry in the band's catalog and in 1991, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince would sample the track for their #4 Pop/#1 R&B hit "Summertime." That song would go on to win a Grammy for Best Rap Performance, Duo or Group.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"Charm the Snake" by Christopher Cross

Song#:  2511
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  79
Peak:  68
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  The pop music landscape had certainly changed since Cross first hit it big with his multi-Grammy winning, 5x platinum 1979 self-titled debut album. His smooth SoCal sound that vaulted songs like "Sailing" to #1 was definitely being pushed out by the brasher sounds of new wave, rock, synthpop and even rap. He eked out a Top 10 entry with "Think of Laura" from his second album, but the success of that song had mainly to do with its use in the hugely popular daytime soap General Hospital. With his second LP only getting to gold status, Cross had to take a different approach in order to survive the new MTV 80s. With his producer Michael Omartian, Cross recorded a new album that pretty much ignored his AC soft rock sound in favor of tunes that had more of a rock flare to them. Every Turn of the World would be issued out and this first single would be released. Unfortunately, pop audiences didn't buy into the song and neither did his AC fans from back in the day. Because of that, the song faltered quickly at Pop while not even making the AC chart. Follow-up singles tanked completely and that left the album stalling at a painfully low #127. Cross would never rebound from the poor showing making this tune his last to hit the Pop chart. He would continue to record over the years and grab a couple of minor AC song entries, but his days in the Pop spotlight ended here.

ReduxReview:  I'm sure that both Cross and his record company wanted hits and for Cross to stay on the charts and sell albums, but dressing up Cross' AC tunes in synth-rock sounds was a bad idea. The kids weren't buying into it and his older fans weren't thrilled either. Plus, it certainly didn't help that Cross was not MTV-ready. He didn't have a marketable look like a Simon Le Bon (in fact, his first three album did not have him on the covers) and he didn't like making videos. He relented a couple of times, but Cross was just not going to fit in the new era of pop music. Had he and his label recognized the situation, they might have done better by really aiming at the AC market. Hits there could still sell albums and he probably would have been much better off. Instead, we ended up with this chuggin' diddy that really didn't have a chorus and was overblown with synths that tried to make up for it. It's not a bad song, but it wasn't gonna be a hit and it just didn't fit Cross very well.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Cross found himself a bit back in the spotlight thanks to the hit TV show 30 Rock. In one episode, the character Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) says, "I know that I'm a sour person, and I don't like a lot of people, but I liked Floyd. And I guess in the back of my mind I thought we'd end up together someday that the whole thing would turn out like a movie where Christopher Cross sings a song like, 'All my days I've been waiting for you to come back home, in the moonlight of New York City.'" That last line she sings and it inspired Cross to actually write a song that opens with that line. The song "Lemon's Theme" would be featured on the 30 Rock soundtrack album. Perhaps as a shout-out to Christopher Cross, Fey's Liz Lemon character ends up marrying a guy named Criss Chros, played by actor James Marsden.  (P.S.: Do yourself a favor and look up "Lemon's Theme." It's actually one of the best things Cross has written/recorded.)
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"You're a Friend of Mine" by Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne

Song#:  2510
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  18
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Clemons, known as the "Big Man" due to his 6'5" stature, became part of Bruce Springsteen's famous E Street Band in 1972. He played sax alongside Springsteen for many years and his work can be heard on such classics as "Born to Run" and "Jungleland." With Springsteen's career in ultra-high gear thanks to the phenomenal success of Born in the U.S.A., the spotlight also turned to E Street members like Clemons. He ended up getting a few other gigs like providing the sax for Aretha Franklin's comeback hit "Freeway of Love." It was with that track that Clemons met with producer/songwriter Narada Michael Walden and a plan was hatched for Clemons to do a solo album. Walden would produce Clemons' album Hero and co-write six of the LP's nine songs including this first single. To add a little star power, rocker Jackson Browne was tapped to be a duet partner for the song. Thanks in part to Browne and the Springsteen connection, the song made the Pop Top 20 while also getting to #16 Rock and #21 AC. The song helped sell a few albums and it got to #62. Unfortunately, it would be Clemons' only single to reach the charts. Clemons would collaborate with Walden for a follow-up album in 1989 titled A Night with Mr. C, but it failed to do anything.

ReduxReview:  This was the right song for Clemons and adding in Browne was a great idea. While Clemons is one helluva sax player, he doesn't have the most attractive singing voice. He's certainly capable, but having Browne there as a good counterpart made the song work. The sentiment is great, the production solid, and Clemons' sax work is impeccable. I appreciate this song now more than when it first came out.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) At the time this song was being recorded, Jackson Browne was dating actress Daryl Hannah. Hannah ended up providing backing vocals on this track and also appeared in the song's associated video. Browne and Hannah would split up later in 1992.  2) This wasn't Clemons' first attempt at a solo career. With his own band called the Red Bank Rockers, he issued out the album Rescue in 1983. While no singles would get any attention, the album did briefly appear the chart at a low #174. Clemons' E Street boss, Bruce Springsteen, would contribute the song "Savin' Up" to the album. Springsteen would also produce the track.  3) Clemons would continue to work with many artists over the years and in 2011 he made contributions to Born this Way, the second album by new pop phenom Lady Gaga. He performed sax on the track "The Edge of Glory," which would be the album's third single. Clemons also would appear in the song's video. Unfortunately, not long after shooting the video, Clemons would suffer a stroke. He would be unable to recover and passed away five days later on June 18, 2011.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

"Too Young" by Jack Wagner

Song#:  2509
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  52
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The General Hospital actor showed off his musical talents and scored a #2 hit with "All I Need," which was the first track from his debut album of the same name. The song and album did well enough to call for a second album and Wagner headed back into the studio once again with producers Glen Ballard and Clif Magness. Lighting Up the Night would be Wagner's second LP and this track was issued out as the first single. While it did fairly well on the AC chart getting to #15, it just couldn't replicate the success of "All I Need" and the song stopped before the halfway point on the Pop chart. A second single, a duet with Valerie Carter titled "Love Can Take Us All the Way," also got to #15 AC, but failed to make the Pop chart. A few albums were sold, but the results were not what was expected after Wagner's breakthrough hit.

ReduxReview:  This is a nice ballad with a solid chorus and I liked it enough at the time to grab the single. However, the song takes a bit too long to rev up, especially with verses that are extra quiet. Wagner has a good voice, but his upper register is better than his low range, which he had to use on this song's verses. He lacks power there and that makes the verses lag and not stand out. Overall it's still a well-done pop tune that probably should have made the Top 40.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Jay Graydon, Steve Kipner, David Foster, and...Donny Osmond? Yup, the former teen idol is listed as a co-writer on the track. So how in the world did a song co-authored by Osmond make it onto Wagner's album? Osmond was last on the Pop chart in 1978 with "On the Shelf," a #37 duet with his sister Marie that was from their failed comedy caper film Goin' Coconuts. After that box office dud and the end of their weekly TV variety show, Osmond laid low. He wanted to return to music, but he had to shed his teeny bopper/idol image if anyone was going to take him seriously. In 1984, Osmond got teamed up with producer Jay Graydon and began some preliminary work for a comeback album. Although it's not been fully confirmed, it has been speculated that "Too Young" was a song that was slated to be on the album. When the album failed to materialize, it seems that Graydon may have revived the song for Jack Wagner. The Osmond/Graydon project remains vaulted, but portions of two songs "Take the Night" and "Chain Reaction" did slip through the cracks and can be found on YouTube. Although this album didn't work out, Osmond would later mount a successful comeback in 1989.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

"Shock" by The Motels

Song#:  2508
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  84
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  The first single from The Motels' fifth album Shock was the #10 Rock hit "Shame." Unfortunately, the song couldn't match that result at Pop and stalled just shy of the Top 20 (#21). It wasn't a great kickoff for the LP and this second single didn't help. This title track was a non-starter that became a three-week blip on the chart. Despite only featuring a moderate hit, the album sold well and came close to the gold-level sales mark. The band then retreated back to the studio to begin working on a follow-up album, but as 1987 rolled around, lead singer Martha Davis decided to dissolve the band and head out on a solo career. Because of that, this song ended up being the band's last to reach the Pop chart. Years later in 1998, Davis would begin performing again with a new band as The Motels. Personnel changes would take place over the years, but Davis still fronts The Motels and issued out a new album in 2018 titled The Last Few Beautiful Days.

ReduxReview:  The beginning of this album opener is a bit menacing, yet it is quite effective. I really liked the track and thought it set a solid tone for the album. I didn't think it was Top 10 material, but it should have made it into the Top 40. It's hooky with dense synthpop production, but for some reason it just didn't connect with listeners. It may not have been promoted very well either, especially after "Shame" didn't perform as expected.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Davis' first post-Motels project was a duet with Sly Stone for the soundtrack to the 1986 film Soul Man. The two artists recorded a cover of the 1976 Joan Armatrading song "Love and Affection." While Armatrading's original didn't reach the US charts, it was a #10 hit in the UK. The movie Soul Man starred C. Thomas Howell as a student who tries to pose as an African-American in order to secure the last scholarship available that year to Harvard Law School. The film faced a lot of criticism due to the perception that Howell was playing blackface. Despite the controversy and poor reviews, the film ended up being a box office hit.

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

"Home Sweet Home" by Mötley Crüe

Song#:  2507
Date:  10/26/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  89
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Heavy Metal



Pop Bits:  The Crüe found themselves more in the mainstream thanks to their #16 remake of Brownsville Station's 1973 hit "Smokin' in the Boys Room." It was the first single from the band's third album Theater of Pain. To follow it up, they released this power ballad track. It became their highest peaking song to-date on the Rock chart getting to #5, but the heavier song just couldn't break through at Pop like the more radio-friendly "Smokin'" and it stalled near the bottom of the chart. But the two singles sent the album to #6 - their first Top 10 - and eventually it would sell over four million copies.

ReduxReview:  Not being a fan of Mötley Crüe at the time, it was pretty much a done deal that I wasn't going to give this song much attention. But then the incessantly played video on MTV started to get my attention and I discovered that this was a damn good song. Apparently, the band's label hated it and didn't want it on the album but finally relented after the band threatened to walk. Though not a Pop hit, it certainly was at Rock and on MTV and it helped to sell a lot of albums. The song has become a signature tune for the Crüe and deservedly so. It was fitting that when the band played their career closing show on New Year's Eve in 2015, this was their final song. The tune wouldn't make me a fan of the band, but it's one from the band that I truly enjoy and appreciate.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) While the song wasn't a hit on the Pop chart when it was initially released, it did make the Top 40 later in 1991. For their first hits compilation, Decade of Decadence, this song was remixed and issued out as a single. Although it only got to #41 at Rock, the song finally was able to grab a Pop audience and it reached #37 on the chart.  2) Around this time MTV had daily request chart that allowed callers to request their favorite video. The one for this song made it to #1 and ended up staying in that spot for three months. With requests for the video not slowing down, MTV thought enough was enough an decided to create a rule for the request chart where a video was only eligible to be on the chart for a 30-day period. It was unofficially called the "Crüe Rule."  3) This song would be covered by many artists, but only one was able to get the song on the Pop chart. In 2009, former American Idol winner Carrie Underwood recorded a version of the song that was used as the show's farewell theme when a contestant was sent home. Pushed out as a single, the song made it to #21 on the Pop chart while also getting to #52 at Country. Speaking of the Country chart, singer Justin Moore covered the song as a duet with Crüe member Vince Neil for the 2014 album Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe. The duet would get to #28 on the Country chart.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

"Sleeping Bag" by ZZ Top

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2506
Date:  10/19/1985
Debut:  49
Peak:  8
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  After seven albums of Texas blues rock, five of which went gold, this trio broke through to the mainstream with their eighth album Eliminator. Boosted by a series of popular MTV videos and their first Top 10 hit, the #8 "Legs," the band was at an all-time high. To follow up that massive success, the band went back in the studio with their long-time producer Bill Ham and knocked out Afterburner. This first single would easily find its way to the top of the Rock chart while becoming the band's second Pop Top 10. The hit would help the album reach #4, which would be their best showing on the chart. However, in the long run Eliminator would sell over 10 million copies while Afterburner would sell half as much at 5 million.

ReduxReview:  ZZ Top hit on a winning formula with Eliminator by pushing their blues rock into the 80s with groovy synths. For the new album, they continued down the same path and even added a few more synth textures along the way. It seemed folks were still buy what they were selling and sent this track into the Top 10. Another heavily played MTV video didn't hurt either. For me, this was just a retread of "Legs" and I didn't find it all that interesting. I certainly can't blame them for sticking with what made them hugely successful. It was the right move to make at the time. However, I quickly got tired of that signature sound.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The cover of Afterburner had artwork that featured the now-famous Eliminator car, but this time around it was portrayed as more of an outer space vehicle. The video for this song featured the original Eliminator as their previous ones did, but in this storyline the car ends up getting destroyed in a fight with a couple of bulldozers and is laid to rest. Yet the crafty ZZ Top guys bring the car back to life but this time as a futuristic flying machine and the guys ride it off into the sunset. The space traveling Eliminator reappears in the video for the album's third single, "Rough Boy."

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

"Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2505
Date:  10/19/1985
Debut:  52
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  Following the worldwide success of their #1 hit "Don't You (Forget About Me)" from the soundtrack to The Breakfast Club, Simple Minds set out to record their eighth album, Once Upon a Time. Wanting to distance themselves away from the hit that made them famous, they decided to do a full album with famed rock producer Jimmy Iovine that completely ignored their now-signature tune. With a beefier, arena-ready sound that invited comparisons to U2, the band issued out this first single from the album. It would easily reach #2 at Rock while breaking into the Top 3 at Pop. It would also see a little time on the Dance chart getting to #25. The hit would help the album reach #10 and go gold. It would be their most successful studio album in the US.

ReduxReview:  I always thought it was kind of funny that the band disowned "Don't You (Forget About Me)," but then on their next LP they write and release this song which was not too far off from the sound and production of that hit. Luckily, it turned out to be a good tune and it ended up giving them a second Top 10. My favorite part was always the quiet piano break followed by the section featuring Robin Clark (see below) that led to the final chorus. It always irritated me that the radio version cut this part down quite a bit. The full album version is the only way to go. The band could have easily been a one-hit wonder if they had not been able to follow-up "Don't You," but this song made sure they were not (although their US charting career was short-lived).

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The female background vocalist on this track and others on the album is singer Robin Clark. When she was still a teenager, she joined a band that included a young Luther Vandross and her future husband, guitarist Carlos Alomar. All three performers would get a career boost when they appeared on David Bowie's 1975 album Young Americans. Clark continued to work with other artists and do jingle work as well. The spotlight was put back on her thanks to her appearance on the Simple Minds album. In addition to being featured on some tracks, Clark also appeared in two of the album's videos and she joined the band for their tour in support of the album.

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