Saturday, January 20, 2018

"Say You're Wrong" by Julian Lennon

Song#:  2291
Date:  04/20/1985
Debut:  54
Peak:  21
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Lennon's debut album was a major success going platinum and spawning two Top 10 hits. He tried to keep the momentum going for the LP with this third single. While the song did well at Rock (#3) and AC (#6), it wasn't quite as successful at Pop and it faltered just short of the Top 20. Despite not being a major Pop hit like his previous two singles, it did well enough to keep sales of the album going.

ReduxReview:  This anxious tune has a lovely verse but there is no chorus to speak of. It's basically the verse, a section with punchy horns, and a guitar solo. It's a good track, but it lacks a memorable hook, which makes it a bit less Pop friendly. Besides the first two hit singles, there wasn't much on the album that was truly good enough for single contention. This one was the best bet and it did get some good airplay at Rock and AC. However, the label could have called it two-and-done and tasked Lennon to get a follow-up album done pronto.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In the mid-80's, Dave Clark (leader/drummer of the hit 60's UK band the Dave Clark Five) wrote a sci-fi musical with Dave Soames and Jeff Daniels. It was titled Dave Clark's "Time" and when the book, lyrics, and music were completed, Clark called on some artist friends to help record a concept album of the musical. On board with the project were major artists like Cliff Richard, Freddie Mercury, Ashford & Simpson, Leo Sayer, and Julian Lennon. Lennon recorded three songs for the musical including "Because," which was selected to be released as a single. It did a little business in the UK getting to #40. At the time, three other singles were issued with Cliff Richard's "She's So Beautiful" doing the best at #17. However, years later after Freddie Mercury's death in 1991, one of his contributions to the album, "In My Defence," would get a posthumous release and reach #8 on the UK chart. The actual stage musical of Time would debut at London's West End in April of '86. Apparently, the stage sets were extremely elaborate and the theater it played in was nearly gutted and rebuilt to house the sets. Cliff Richard ended up starring in the musical, which ran for two years (David Cassidy would replace Richard later in the run). The musical was panned by critics, but it did fine at the box office. The album was successful selling around two million copies. The musical never made it to Broadway and its concept album never caught on in the US.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

"Show Some Respect" by Tina Turner

Song#:  2290
Date:  04/20/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  37
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock, R&B



Pop Bits:  Turner's comeback album Private Dancer had already spawned four hits including three consecutive Top 10's With her star still glowing bright following the #7 peak of the LP's title track, it was decided that a fifth single would be issued. This track, co-written by Terry Britten (who also co-wrote Turner's #1 "What's Love Got to Do with It") was selected for release. It didn't make much of an impact peaking just inside the Pop Top 40 and getting to #50 at R&B. The results hardly mattered as the album was already a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning success.

ReduxReview:  This is definitely a solid stomper that was a good fit for Turner and the album. It's a hooky tune that was accompanied by a concert-style MTV video, but for some reason it just didn't click on radio. The album had been out for nearly a year so perhaps it had run its course and folks were already well-acquainted with the song. I had always though the next single should have been the album opener "I Might Have Been Queen," which would have sounded great on the radio. Regardless, this was another winner from a classic 80s album.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In Europe, Turner's follow-up to her career-reviving single "Let's Stay Together" was a remake of "Help!," the #1 Beatles hit from 1965. Turner recorded the song with the jazz-funk band The Crusaders. The original upbeat track was rearranged and turned it into an R&B-leaning ballad. It charted in several countries including the Netherlands (#14) and the UK (#40). With the song have a bit of success, it would be included on Turner's upcoming Private Dancer album - but only in Europe. For other markets, like the US, the song wasn't issued as a single and was kept off the album. It would later be included on CD reissues of the LP.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

"The Search Is Over" by Survivor

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2289
Date:  04/20/1985
Debut:  70
Peak:  4
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  It took three years, but Survivor finally grabbed their second Top 10 hit with "High on You" (#8) the second single from their album Vital Signs. It was a significant win for the band and their luck continued through to this next single, which bested the previous one by getting to #4.  The ballad was also highly successful at AC spending four weeks at #1. It would be their first and only chart topper at AC. The two hits helped the album reach #16 and become their second platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  The sap practically oozes through the speakers on this one, but dang if it ain't tasty. This song was written for mass consumption and it certainly did its job for the band. Music snobs still make fun of this song and consider it commercial dreck. Even back in the day some folks would roll their eyes when this started playing, yet by the end they were singing it into beer bottles and swaying back-n-forth. When it comes down to it, the ballad is just a well-written tune that was strong enough to attract a large audience. I was certainly a fan and still am. If there is some good rock 'n' roll cheese that you like, there is no harm in gnawing on a couple of slices.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was later covered by country star Collin Raye. Raye had a streak of hits throughout the 90s. Along the way he amassed twenty-one Top 10 Country hits including four #1's. These singles along with five platinum albums made him one of the biggest country stars of the 90s. His final Top 10 came in 2000. While his chart career cooled after that, he continued to record and for his 2005 album Twenty Years and Change, Raye covered this Survivor hit. It was not issued as a single.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"Only Lonely" by Bon Jovi

Song#:  2288
Date:  04/20/1985
Debut:   88
Peak:  54
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The New Jersey band's self-titled debut sold well thanks in part to the #5 Rock track (#39 Pop) "Runaway." After that solid introduction, the band set out to record their second album. They retained producer Lance Quinn, who had work on some tracks from the debut album, and came up with 7800° Fahrenheit. This first single introduced the new LP and it got a lukewarm reception at Rock (#28). It didn't do much better at Pop getting locked out of the top half of the chart. Yet despite the lack of a real hit, the album sold and by the end of the year the band was awarded their first gold album. Later on after the band hit it big, both this album and their debut would be platinum sellers.

ReduxReview:  Apparently, Bon Jovi later distanced themselves from this album. They were rushed to get it out and that prevented them from taking some time to focus and find their sound. Instead, they just relied on the producer to run the show and get the album out. They knew the results were not what they wanted, but it just had to happen. Despite the band's lack of enthusiasm for the LP, fans liked it well enough to make it go gold. This song is a typical entry from the album. A good, hooky track with a lean towards mainstream commercial rock. It's not bad, but it doesn't have much personality to it. Any solid rock band could have put this tune out. So I can understand how Bon Jovi felt after this album was pushed out. They would certainly find their voice for their next album and it would pay off in a big way.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The album's title is a specific temperature, so why did they choose it? Supposedly, rock (not sure exactly what type) has a melting point of 7800° Fahrenheit. And while most of the world uses Celsius for temperature measurement, Fahrenheit is mainly used in the US. Therefore, those two things combined made a reference to "hot American rock". It seemed appropriate for the up-n-comin' band. However, rock melts at a far lower temp, so why they picked 7800° is not known. It's also been said that the title is a tip o' the hat to the classic Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451. That title temp was the point where book paper catches fire and burns.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"High School Nights" by Dave Edmunds

Song#:  2287
Date:  04/20/1985
Debut:  91
Peak:  91
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  It had been nearly two years since Edmunds was on the Pop chart. His 1983 album Information, produced by ELO's Jeff Lynne, yielded the #39 entry "Slipping Away." The pair collaborated again for Edmunds' next LP Riff Raff, but the only song to make any impact was "Something About You," which made it to #16 at Rock. It didn't do much for his relationship with Columbia Records, but before he left the label, he worked on one more project. He would produce a soundtrack album for the upcoming sequel film Porky's Revenge. In addition to recording four tracks himself for the movie, Edumnds culled tracks by artists like Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Clarence Clemons, Carl Perkins, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. To kick things off this first single was released to promote the album and film. Unfortunately, it missed the Rock chart while only spending two weeks at Pop, becoming his last to reach that chart. While the film was a bust, the soundtrack received solid critical notices, but it wasn't enough to make it a solid seller and it disappeared quickly. Edmunds wouldn't record another album until 1990.

ReduxReview:  The more I listen to Edmunds, the more I like his music. I thoroughly enjoyed "Slipping Away" along with his side band Rockpile. This tune follows right in the footsteps of those projects and I dig it. Based on the sound of this one, it seemed Edmunds learned a few tricks from Jeff Lynne, as there are some of Lynne's production sounds heard on the track. It's too bad this song didn't do better. Sadly, Porky's Revenge was tagged to a real crap pile of a movie so that certainly didn't help the LP. Regardless, this song and the associated soundtrack headed up Edmunds is worth seeking out.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1981, a small teen sex comedy called Porky's was released. While critics were not all that thrilled with the movie, audiences love it and it ended up being the fifth best grossing film of the year. A soundtrack made up of oldies that were heard in the film was issued, but it didn't sell all that well. Two years later, the sequel Porky's II: The Next Day, got released, but it didn't do as well as the original and there was no soundtrack issued. Both films were written and directed by Bob Clark and after the second one, he hung up his Porky's hat. However, some other folks thought there was life left in the franchise and Porky's Revenge was created. In the time following the original Porky's, movie song soundtracks had exploded into a big business. Therefore, it was only natural that the new sequel should have a promotable soundtrack. With the film being set in the late 50s, songs that reflected the new rock scene were needed and with Edmund's sound soaked in that era, choosing him to head the soundtrack was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, with the film bombing, the critically successful soundtrack barely made a dent in the chart. The Porky's saga would get a momentary reboot in 2009 when a sort-of remake of the original film was made. Titled Porky's Pimpin' Pee Wee, the movie was barely a blip when it was released as an on-demand video. For many years, radio personality Howard Stern has expressed interest in making his own version of Porky's.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

"I'm Through with Love" by Eric Carmen

Song#:  2286
Date:  04/20/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  87
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Carmen got his first Top 40 entry in seven years with "I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips," made it to #35. It did better at AC where it reached #10. For a follow-up, this ballad was chosen. It did fairly well at AC getting to #16, but this time around at Pop it was pretty much a non-starter spending three short weeks near the bottom of the chart. However, with "Lips" doing well enough to get his career rejuvenated, Carmen would turn the opportunity into something even bigger and grab a pair of major hits later in '87 and '88.

ReduxReview:  This isn't too bad of an AC ballad, but it's almost something that I'd expect from someone like Dionne Warwick in the late 70s or early 80s. At this point in '85, big adult ballads like this were disappearing from the Pop chart. A few would break through, but they were far stronger than this one. This is a lovely tune that is well-done by Carmen, yet it just wasn't the right time for it to become a real chart contender.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Also included on Carmen's self-titled album was the song "Living Without Your Love." That tune was written by Doug James and and up-n-comin' singer/songwriter named Michael Bolton. Bolton. By this time, Bolton had grabbed a couple of very minor chart entries with his band Blackjack and on his own. However, he was getting more notice as a songwriter and artists like Carmen, Laura Branigan, and others were picking up his songs. In addition to Carmen recording "Living Without Your Love," singer Joe Cocker also decided to cover the tune for his 1986 album Cocker. Neither artist chose to issue the ballad as a single.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

"Voices Carry" by 'til tuesday

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2285
Date:  04/13/1985
Debut:  81
Peak:  9
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Alternative Rock



Pop Bits:  This Boston band headed by singer/songwriter Aimee Mann first got noticed when they won a local Battle of the Bands Contest. That win along with their demo got the attention of Epic Records who signed them to a deal. A debut album titled Voices Carry was recorded and the title track was issued as the LP's first single. The dark tune featuring Mann's distinctive vocals was a slow-starter, but the song got major traction when the associated video became a hit on MTV. Soon after, the song reached #14 at Rock and crossed over into the Pop Top 10. It would be the band's only single to crack the Top 10. The album sold quite well and made it to #19 on the chart. The popular video garnered the band an MTV Music Video Award for Best New Artist.

ReduxReview:  I was in college in Boston right at the time 'til tuesday was beginning to break through. I went to Berklee College of Music and Aimee Mann was an alum (she dropped out just prior to me going to school there), so the college was all abuzz about her and the band, especially after their Battle win. When the album came out and this track started to shape up as a hit, it boosted the college's image and made it cooler and more rock friendly. At the time Berklee was mainly a jazz-oriented school, but they were trying to break out of that mold and attract a more genre-diverse group of students. A little pop-hit cred certainly didn't hurt! I liked this song immediately when it came out. That chugging background rhythm had a grungy feel to it and there wasn't anything like it on the radio. What I think really sold the song was the video. The main part of the video was good, but what sold it was the last part where Mann stands up in the theater, starts shouting the lyrics, and then takes off her hat to expose her shock of blonde hair and accompanying rat tail. It was a brilliant moment that sold the song perfectly. Now, VH1 lists this song as a one-hit wonder from the band, but I don't see it that way. They had another Top 30 entry along with three other charting songs. It was their lone big hit, but I can't really see it as a one-hit wonder. (BTW - I'm a huge fan of Mann and her solo career. She's put out some brilliant work, especially her 1993 debut album Whatever, which is one of my all-time favorite albums.)

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  According to Mann, who wrote the lyrics, the song was originally about a woman talking about another woman. However, at the time the record company was not thrilled about the lesbian-leaning lyrics and had Mann change the "she's" to "he's." Apparently one artist who wasn't afraid (and had the clout) to record the lyrics as written was Cyndi Lauper. She expressed interest in recording the song with the original lyrics. However, she stipulated that if she recorded the song, then 'til tuesday could not. The band, sensing a potential hit, declined Lauper's request and kept the song for themselves and they ended up with a hit.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

"Basketball" by Kurtis Blow

Song#:  2284
Date:  04/13/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  71
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Hip-Hop



Pop Bits:  Kurtis Blow was the first hip-hop artist signed to a major label (Mercury) and it paid off when his single "The Breaks" became the first rap song to go gold. The song and his debut album would influence many artists to come. Blow continued to record albums, but none of them produced a second crossover single. However, his fifth LP, 1984's Ego Trip, included a track that started to get the attention of folks not only in music, but in sports as well. "Basketball" was Blow's ode to the NBA, which had been reaching new heights in popularity at the time through stars like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and a new up-n-coming kid named Michael Jordan. The tie-in to the NBA got the song attention and it got issued as a single. It did fine at R&B getting to #29, but its popular video and NBA tie-in helped it reach the Pop chart for a few weeks. It would be Blow's last and best effort on the Pop chart. Later in the year, his next album America would feature his second biggest hit, "If I Ruled the World," which got to #16 R&B and #25 Dance. Unfortunately, it wouldn't make the Pop chart. Blow recorded two more albums before retreating behind the scenes and working as a producer for artists like Run-D.M.C., The Fat Boys, and Wyclef Jean.

ReduxReview:  I have to say that when I hear tracks like this, I miss ol' skool hip-hop. I love the hook with the female singers, the groove, the big drum beat, and the rap. With the time-oriented references, the song is dated, but its still a cool listen. Rap would grow and change exponentially over the next decade with some very important tracks to come, but these fun early raps still hold up and make me jam and smile.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This was the first and big step in what would be a long partnership between the NBA and hip-hop music. Apparently, the NBA commissioner at the time, David Stern, found out about the song and thought that it held significant marketing potential. It wasn't long before the song was used for NBA promos and Blow was hired to do concerts following NBA games, which filled seats with a young audience who attended the games, but were really there to see Blow. The cross marking worked and more NBA/hip-hop promotions would follow over the years. At a time when hip-hop was trying to break through to the masses, it was very significant that a cross-culture organization like the NBA embraced the new genre and its artists.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

"Talk to Me" by Fiona

Song#:  2283
Date:  04/13/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  64
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Singer Fiona Flanagan moved to NYC at the beginning of the decade to pursue a career in music. Just 18 at the time, she ended up singing with several band before attracting the attention of Atlantic Records. They signed her to a deal the the result was her self-titled debut album that featured this first single. It caught on at Rock and did well peaking at #12 on that chart. The song's popularity there allowed it to crossover to the Pop chart where it ended up peaking in the lower half of the chart. The action at Rock helped sell some albums and it did respectable business getting to #71. While the results weren't spectacular, it was enough for Atlantic to keep Fiona on for two more albums. Although her second LP wouldn't produce any charting songs, her third would get her a second entry on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This rockin' track with a blues edge to it was a good vehicle for Fiona's voice. She's definitely got the goods. She's got a big, full voice with a nice range and raspy tone. I'm sure she could sing the crap out of anything. Unfortunately, the material she had didn't quite keep up with her voice. This is a solid track for rock radio, but it wasn't necessarily all that great for the pop crowd. There was a lot of promise on her debut album, but she needed some more hit-oriented material ala Pat Benatar to really make a mark. It's too bad she really didn't fully break through as the talent is there.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Following this album, Fiona began to branch out into acting. Her first major role was on an episode of Miami Vice. This led to her first starring role in a movie. She played opposite Bob Dylan in the musical drama Hearts of Fire. The film was about a former rock star who tried to help a singer  (played by Fiona), but then she begins to take up with a younger, new star. The vehicle for Dylan was a stinker out of the gate and was quickly pulled from theaters. The soundtrack, which featured three songs by Dylan and five by Fiona, also had a short shelf life. Both singers returned to their day jobs afterward.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Heartline" by Robin George

Song#:  2282
Date:  04/13/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  92
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  UK guitarist Robin George had already been performing, touring, and recording with several bands before deciding to step out on his own in the early 80s. His first deal came with Arista Records who footed the bill for a 1983 single titled "Go Down Fighting." Nothing came from the record and an unimpressed Arista dropped him from the roster. About a year later, he signed on with Bronze Records and was able to record a full album titled Dangerous Minds. This first single got issued and it made a minor impact at Rock getting to #40. That slight action allowed the song to crossover to the Pop chart for a short couple of weeks. It would be George's only solo song to reach the chart. He turned more towards producing and engineering afterward, but he'd get another brush at fame in the next decade (see below).

ReduxReview:  This is definitely some 80s power rock. The staccato-like verse is interesting and the chorus is okay, but it just doesn't have that extra hooky oomph to make it a more radio-friendly track. I dig the sound of it. The tune is well-produced and engineered. I also think the ending of the song is kinda cool. There is a lot of good going on here, yet the song is not really all that strong.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After several years working behind the scenes, George decided to move out in front again and with vocalist Sean Harris (formerly of the UK metal band Diamond Head) formed a duo called Notorious. They got the attention of Geffen Records who signed them up for an album. A self-titled debut appeared in 1990 and the first single from the LP, "The Swalk," spent five weeks on the Pop chart peaking at #90. The tepid results didn't get them any further with Geffen and the pair returned to the other work. They would reunite for a second album in 2010.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"Celebrate Youth" by Rick Springfield

Song#:  2281
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  60
Peak:  26
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Although Springfield's leading role movie debut Hard to Hold was a box office bomb, the soundtrack did quite well going platinum and producing the #5 hit "Love Somebody." With the movie behind him, Springfield retreated back to the studio for his next album. The new effort, titled Tao, amped up synth-rock sound he had been toying with on his past couple of LPs. This first single introduced that sound and it was greeted with tepid results. The song stopped just inside the Pop Top 30 while missing the Rock chart completely. The first singles from his previous four albums all went Top 10, so this miss was certainly disappointing.

ReduxReview:  This song is just...loud. It's an overproduced message song that is nothing like the hooky pop/rock Springfield had been dishing out for the past few years. I wasn't shocked that both critics and listeners shrugged at it. However, I liked it and the album. Tao was an interesting experiment with Springfield layering sounds upon sounds and trying to write songs that had more depth. Critics balked at the LP but I actually liked it and thought it was one of his most consistent efforts. It's dark, dense, and loud, yet something about it got my attention. I've probably played it more than any other of his albums. A couple of the LP's songs are standards in my gym playlist. So while this song and the rest of the album didn't exactly light up the charts, I was a fan.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  One of the most popular sporting organizations during the mid-80s was the WWF - the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE). With millions of folks watching events on TV and in arenas, it was inevitable that the sport would expand and cross over into other mediums. David Wolff, who was Cyndi Lauper's manager at the time, came up with the concept of a music album with tracks sung by some of the WWF's most famous stars. The project was called The Wrestling Album and one of the songs written for the album was "Eat Your Hart Out Rick Springfield." The "Hart" in the title is in reference to the song's singer and writer, Jimmy Hart. Hart, aka "The Mouth of the South," was a manager in the WWF, but long before he got in the wrestling world, Hart was a musician. His claim to fame from his early days was that he was a vocalist in The Gentrys, a band from Tennessee that got a #4 hit in 1965 called "Keep on Dancing." Hart's "Springfield" song is about Hart dating a girl who is obsessed with Springfield.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"Smuggler's Blues" by Glenn Frey

Song#:  2280
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  74
Peak:  12
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  Frey's second solo album, The Allnighter, was doing okay. He got a Top 20 Pop entry with the LP's first single, "Sexy Girl," but the title-track second single faltered at a low #54. However, prior to a third single being released, Frey's contribution to the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, "The Heat Is On," bolted up to #2. Despite the song not being on The Allnighter, it did spark further interest in the album and this third single got issued. It would do quite well getting to #12 at Pop and #13 Rock. It would be the best performing single from the album, which in turn would reach gold-level sales.

ReduxReview:  I think Frey may have gotten lucky thanks to "The Heat Is On" and the Miami Vice tie-in with this track (see below). Otherwise, I don't think this single would have done as well. I wasn't a fan of it and it's still nothing I'd choose to hear. The video also helped for this song as it basically told the story in the lyrics. It all worked out for Frey, but it's a forgettable oldie for me.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is one of the rare cases where a song inspired an episode of a TV show. This song caught the attention of the producers/writers of the hit show Miami Vice and an episode titled after the song was filmed. Glenn Frey also makes an appearance in the show as a pilot. The episode was aired during the show's first season and premiered in mid-February. A couple of months later, the song was issued as a single. It would end up appearing on the show's associated soundtrack album along with another soon-to-be Frey hit "You Belong to the City."

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Monday, January 8, 2018

"Do You Wanna Get Away" by Shannon

Song#:  2279
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  77
Peak:  49
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Dance, R&B, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Shannon's "Let the Music Play" was an influential Top 10 hit that introduced many folks to the burgeoning freestyle genre of dance music. With a gold single and gold album to her credit, she then had the tough task of following them up. Working once again with producers Chris Barbosa and Mark Liggett, Shannon prepped her new disc titled Do You Wanna Get Away. This title track would be the first single issued from the LP. The song easily went to #1 at Dance becoming her third to top that chart. However, the song struggled elsewhere. It could only get to #13 R&B while missing out on the Pop Top 40. It would end up being Shannon's final single to reach the Pop chart. She would record one more album for Atlantic that failed to chart and that ended her major label days. She wouldn't record another album until 2000.

ReduxReview:  The fortunate/unfortunate situation for Shannon was that "Let the Music Play" was such a strong song she had to have, at minimum, another song that was just as good in order to keep her career going. Sadly, she just didn't have one. Her other material wasn't bad at all, it's just that none of it couldn't match the "wow" factor of her first hit. For example, this song has a nice urgent feeling and chorus, but it's nowhere as contagious as "Let the Music Play." Therefore, it failed to get her out from under the immense pressure dropped on her with that hit. She ended up a one-hit wonder, but what a great hit to be tagged with. As for this one, it was a valiant attempt to divert attention from her signature tune, but it just didn't work.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The album also included Shannon's synthpop version of Foreigner's 1981 #4 hit "Urgent." It was released as the LP's third single. Her take of the song didn't really catch on and it could only manage a #68 showing at R&B while missing the Dance and Pop charts completely. As with the original version, the center section featured a sax solo, which wasn't quite as memorable as the one that Junior Walker did for Foreigner's original.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

"Oh Girl" by Boy Meets Girl

Song#:  2278
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  79
Peak:  39
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  The husband and wife songwriting/vocal team of Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill began to get attention when some of their songs started to appear on albums by artists like Phyllis Hyman and Deniece Williams. It wasn't long before their demo tapes were noticed by A&M Records and the duo, now known as Boy Meets Girl, were signed on and given the chance to do their own album. Their self-titled debut was released and this first single was issued. While it wasn't a major hit, it did at least peak just inside the Pop Top 40. The results were not great and their deal with A&M halted. However, the next two years would bring them two #1 hits as songwriters (both for Whitney Houston) and that would lead to a new label deal and a Top 10 hit of their own.

ReduxReview:  This couple can certainly write smart songs with solid hooks. Unfortunately, this isn't one of them. The groove is just fine, but the chorus is too subtle to be hooky and memorable. The bridge builds nicely, but when the chorus arrives the song falls flat. Frankly, I'm surprised this actually made the Top 40. Over the next few years the couple would write far better songs than this one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1984, the duo contributed two songs to Deniece Williams' only platinum-selling LP, Let's Heart It for the Boy. They composed the tracks "Don't Tell Me We Have Nothing" and "Haunting Me" (the latter co-written with Williams). For their debut LP, the couple recorded their own version of "Don't Tell Me We Have Nothing." In addition to the song contributions to Williams' album, the duo also performed background vocals on several tracks including the #1 hit "Let's Hear It for the Boy."

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

"Welcome to the Pleasuredome" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Song#:  2277
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  48
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave, Dance



Pop Bits:  After finally snaring their first US Top 10 with a reissue of their first single "Relax" (#10), the band chose to issue this title track from their debut album. It didn't quite have the same appeal as the previous hit and it failed to crack the Top 40. It did a little more business at dance getting to #31. Unfortunately, it would be the band's final single to reach the US chart. Despite not having a second hit, the album did well thanks to "Relax" and it reached gold-level sales. The band would release a new album, Liverpool, in 1986, but it's first single, "Rage Hard," failed to chart and the album disappeared quickly after a minor #88 peak. Soon after, the band called it quits.

ReduxReview:  I like this intense, dark tune, but it's not really single-worthy. Actually, the double-album doesn't have a lot of single material. Despite that, the album is quite good and I played it quite a lot back in the day and still spin it on occasion. This track is actually over twelve minutes long on the album and is better than this shorter version, but they didn't do too bad of a job chopping it down. Still, it's nothing that was going to catch on in a big way.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In the UK, the third single from the album was the ballad "The Power of Love." It became their third single in a row to reach #1. For whatever reason, the ballad was not select for release in the US. Instead, the title track was issued. The title track then became the fourth single in the UK and it was nearly their fourth #1, but it stopped just shy at #2.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

"Walking on the Chinese Wall" by Philip Bailey

Song#:  2276
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  46
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B, Pop



Pop Bits:  Bailey's third album outside of his group Earth, Wind & Fire, Chinese Wall, became a gold-seller thanks to the #2 duet with Phil Collins, "Easy Lover." For the follow-up, this title track was chosen. Although not a duet, it does featured Collins on drums and background vocals. This time around the magic wasn't there and the song petered out shy of the Pop Top 40 while only getting to #56 at R&B. It would end up being Bailey's final solo single to reach the Pop chart. Bailey recorded a follow-up album title Inside Out, but it failed to make a major impact since the LP's only charting single, "State of the Heart," could only reach #20 at R&B.

ReduxReview:  I've always liked this rolling, meditative song. The production by Collins is top-notch with the punctuated horns and his drums adding depth to the mix. The song just has a lovely feel to it and Bailey's vocals fit in well. However, I think it may have been too subtle of a song for Pop radio. I'm actually surprised that AC didn't jump on this. It seemed to fit that format the best, but it failed to chart there. An overlooked follow-up single.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In addition to his solo pop/R&B career, Bailey also had success in the gospel market. He did several collaborations in the early 80s and then released his first solo gospel album in 1984 titled The Wonders of His Love. It did well reaching #17 on the Gospel chart and #13 on the Contemporary Christian chart. His follow-up LP, Triumph (#18 CC, #34 Gospel), netted Bailey a Grammy award. He won in the Best Gospel Performance, Male category. He would record one more gospel album in the 80s, 1989's Family Affair (#37 Gospel).

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

"Steady" by Jules Shear

Song#:  2275
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  57
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  As an artist, Shear's career never really took flight. Despite attempts with the Funky Kings, his own band the Polar Bears, and a solo effort, nothing clicked. He got a break when his song "All Through the Night," which originally appeared on Shear's 1983 solo debut LP Watch Dog, got picked up and recorded by Cyndi Lauper. The track became a single and it reached #5 on the Pop chart. With a little momentum built up, Shear returned to the studio to record a second album. He came up with The Eternal Return and this song was selected as the first single. Returning the favor, Cyndi Lauper co-wrote the tune with Shear. Despite Lauper's involvement and label support, the single couldn't make a significant impact and it stalled in the lower half of the Pop chart. It would be Shear's only song to reach the chart. However, a track from the album, "If She Knew What She Wants," would become a moderate hit (#29) for the Bangles the following year.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that makes me think, "what went wrong?" This is a terrific song by an artist who was getting attention, and it had an assist from a big star at the time (Cyndi Lauper). It had a lot going for it and deserved to be a much bigger hit, so why did it fall flat? I admit that I didn't catch on to the song until years later thanks to an 80s compilation, but had I heard it back in the day I would have jumped on it. Perhaps there just wasn't enough support from the label or MTV. Or maybe the slow tempo on such a big song just didn't grab listeners. I'm not really sure what the issue was, but it's sad that this song didn't get more attention. In years later, I became a big fan of Shears due to a couple of excellent, critically well-received albums he pushed out. The low-key acoustic affairs Between Us (1998) and Allow Me (2000) are gems that show off Shear's skill as a songwriter. Both are highly recommended as is this stab at 80s power pop that didn't get its due.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Around this time, Elliot Easton (lead guitarist for The Cars) was working on a solo album. He enlisted the help of Shear the the pair co-wrote Easton's 1985 self-titled debut album. Shear also provided background vocals on the tracks. Unfortunately, the only song to make any impact was "(Wearing Down) Like a Wheel," which got to #36 on the Rock chart. Without a solid song to support the album, it quickly disappeared. It would be Easton's only solo effort.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

"Magical" by John Parr

Song#:  2274
Date:  04/06/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  73
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Parr grabbed a #6 Rock track with "Naughty, Naughty," the first single from his self-titled debut album. The song was able to cross over to the Pop chart where it just missed out on the Top 20 getting to #23. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. Once again, Rock responded well and it barely missed the Top 10 there peaking at the dreaded #11. However, Pop wasn't as interested this time around and the singled stalled just inside the top quarter of the chart.

ReduxReview:  This is a solid rock track, but it's just not as hooky as the fun and sleazy "Naughty, Naughty." I was actually familiar with this song via Bucks Fizz (see below). I'm a fan of that vocal group and it appears on one of their hits albums. Parr's version is not all that different except that it has a slightly beefier sound. It's a quality album track, but it just doesn't have that extra hooky oomph needed to be a hit.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia: While Parr was assembling his debut album, he was also busy writing songs for Meat Loaf's 1984 LP Bad Attitude. One of the songs written for the album was this single. It was co-written by Parr with Meat Loaf. However, Meat Loaf ended up not recording the song so Parr chose to include it on his upcoming album. It would serve as the album's opening track and second single. Apparently, it remains the only song that Meat Loaf wrote (or co-wrote) that he did not record. Later in '86, the popular UK vocal group Bucks Fizz covered the song for their album Writings on the Wall. It was issued as that album's second single, but it could only manage a #57 peak. Bucks Fizz was a highly successful group in the UK following their 1981 UK #1 Eurovision winner "Making Your Mind Up." They would go on to score two more #1's and five more Top 10's. Despite their popularity in the UK, the group's music never translated to the US and they failed to get a song any chart.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"One Lonely Night" by REO Speedwagon

Song#:  2273
Date:  03/30/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  19
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The band earned their second #1 single with "Can't Fight This Feeling," the second single from their album Wheels Are Turnin'. The big ballad revived the flailing LP and helped to turn it into a double-platinum hit. To follow it up, the band decided to stay in ballad mode and issued this track. It did well at AC where it became their second Top 10 entry reaching #10. It didn't do quite as well at Pop and Rock where the song could only manage a Top 20 showing on each chart (#17 Rock, #19 Pop). Still, the middling hit did well enough to keep album sales steady.

ReduxReview:  I guess since "Can't Fight" revived the album, they decided to push out another ballad-leaning track. This one is not as grand as the previous single, but it's not too bad. I actually kind of prefer it to "Can't Fight," which was never a favorite of mine. It's still not as awesome as their prime stuff from Hi-Infidelity, but it's a pretty good single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  With the exception of their very first album in 1971, the vast majority of the songs that appeared on their albums were written by two members - Kevin Cronin and Gary Richrath. They mainly wrote separately, but on rare occasions the two would collaborate. However, for the Wheels Are Turnin' album, another bandmate wrote this song. Original member Neal Doughty co-wrote songs with the band for their 1971 debut LP, but only contributed a few songs after that. This was one of his own compositions and it was his first to be issued as a single. Doughty would also write a song for the band's next album and that track would also be issued as a single.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

"Axel F" by Harold Faltermeyer

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2272
Date:  03/30/1985
Debut:  69
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Synthpop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  This German-born musician/engineer/producer/composer got is first big break when he was hired by Giorgio Moroder to arrange the music for the Moroder's score to the 1978 film Midnight Express. The score won Moroder an Oscar and boosted Faltermeyer's career. The pair would continue to work together on projects and along the way Faltermeyer started to get work producing records for other artists like Donna Summer. He also started scoring films and by 1984 he was working on the music for Beverly Hills Cop. The movie was a major hit as was its soundtrack which featured hits like "Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters and "The Heat Is On" by Glenn Frey. While an album of the full score that Faltermeyer composed for the film was never issued, one theme from the score was selected to appear on the soundtrack. Originally composed for the scene in the movie where Eddie Murphy places a banana in a cop car tailpipe, "Axel F" got included as the final track on the album. With the soundtrack doing well, this theme gained some attention and soon it was decided that it should be a single. Issued as the LP's fourth single, the song slowly caught on became a multi-format hit. In addition to its #3 Pop peak, it got to #1 at AC, #1 Dance, and #13 R&B. Since it was a bit of a left-field hit by a composer/producer, it wasn't a big surprise that it became Faltermeyer's only Pop chart entry, thus making him a one-hit wonder. It would also earn him a Grammy for Best Original Score Album. While Faltermeyer would go on to compose more scores and work with artists like Pet Shop Boys, Laura Branigan, Billy Idol, and others, this single would remain his biggest claim to fame.

ReduxReview:  I don't know why, but I didn't like this little ditty back in the day. I thought the main theme with that goose honking keyboard sound was annoying. Therefore, I ignored it. Many years later I then began to appreciate how quirky, simple, and catchy the song was and understood its appeal. It's kind of fun to hear once in a while, especially if it is on a party playlist. Seems like every time it comes up in rotation, someone will start to sing the theme and go "boop-bee boop-a-be boop-bop." It's not a classic, but it is a memorable little theme from the decade.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Working with Moroder, Faltermeyer contributed to another huge soundtrack album, 1986's Top Gun. Faltermeyer wrote the main theme to the film and performed in along with guitarist Steve Stevens. The album track "Top Gun Anthem" would prove to be popular enough to be issued as a single, but it never fully caught on at radio and failed to chart. However, the song did earn Faltermeyer his second Grammy. He and Stevens were the winners in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category.

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