Saturday, November 17, 2018

"King for a Day" by Thompson Twins

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2591
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  52
Peak:  8
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  The trio's album Here's to Future Days got kicked off well thanks to the #6 hit "Lay Your Hands on Me." This second single would do nearly as well to become the Thompson Twins' third Top 10. It would also get to #13 at AC and #35 Rock. Despite the double Top 10's, the album would only get to #20 and go gold. This was a drop from their previous #10 platinum album Into the Gap. This single would end up being the trio's last to reach the US Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  I like this track and it has a hooky chorus, but I've always been surprised that it made the Top 10. I didn't think it was strong enough to get that far. Perhaps its associated MTV video helped to push it along. These days the song has all but disappeared. I liked the album quite a bit back in the day, but it wasn't loaded with potential singles. This one was the logical choice and it worked out well.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The album Here's to Future Days was the band's first to featured a cover tune. They decided to do a version of The Beatles' "Revolution." That 1968 track served as the b-side to their #1 hit "Hey Jude," yet plenty of airplay made the song chart on its own and it reached #12. The Thompson Twins' version was not issued as a single in the US, but it was in their UK homeland. It only got to #56 there. Prior to the album being released, the Thompson Twins performed on the US stage of Live Aid. They played their big #3 hit "Hold Me Now" along with "Revolution." For their performance of "Revolution," they were joined on stage by Steve Stevens (who played guitar on the album version of the song), Nile Rodgers (who produced the album), and Madonna (who basically just hung out on stage looking like she was thinking "what they hell am I doing here," shaking a tambourine, and singing a few "alright's.")

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Friday, November 16, 2018

"These Dreams" by Heart

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2590
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  54
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Heart's self-titled album was a major comeback for them that already generated two Top 10 hits. The songs helped the LP climb to #1 late in '85 for a week making their only one to ever hit the top of the chart. Sales would continue to be strong into the early part of '86 thanks to this third single. The ballad would end up being the album's biggest hit reaching the top spot at Pop and AC while hitting #2 at Rock. After a decade of releasing singles, Heart finally earned their first #1 Pop chart hit.

ReduxReview:  This was certainly the coronation song for Heart's bid for mainstream success. I mean, the dang thing got to #1 at AC...AC - home turf of Air Supply! This certainly wasn't the Heart of "Barracuda" or "Crazy on You." The slick sounds and polished MTV look of the band didn't exactly thrill a chunk of their original fan base, but I think they chose songs that fit them well and this dreamy track was one of them. It's nearly a spiffed up, more commercialized cousin to their 1979 #34 song "Dog & Butterfly. It was a big hit then and it still continues to get played. I'd have to say that out of all their hits, I think I hear this one the most when I'm out n' about places.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Martin Page and Bernie Taupin. The two composers had recently begun to work together and their first effort, "We Built This City," became a #1 hit for Starship. This song was their second co-write. Taupin wrote the lyrics and the original title was "Boys in the Mist." He wrote it with Stevie Nicks in mind and sent it over to her, but she didn't bite. Taupin then gave the lyrics to Page to see what he could do with it. Page made a few structural changes to the song and got the music done. Page had previously written a couple of songs for Kim Carnes and the thought the new tune, "These Dreams," would be a good fit for her. Carnes liked the song, but in the end rejected it because it just didn't fit her vocal range. It then got to Heart due to a mutual connection. Peter Wolf (not the J. Geils one) had produced and got a writing credit on "We Build this City" and one of his next gigs was playing on Heart's new album. When they were looking for tunes, Wolf played them Page's demo of "These Dreams." The band got it recorded and it then became their first #1 hit.  2) While Ann Wilson typically did most of the lead vocal work, her sister Nancy would usually sing lead on at least one track on their albums. For their self-titled LP, Nancy would take the lead on this song. The band thought that her voice would fit the song better than Ann's. It ended up being the first single released by the band with a lead vocal from Nancy.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Russians" by Sting

Song#:  2589
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  58
Peak:  16
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Sting's first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, was a significant success that already boasted two Top 10 hits and the Top 20 third single "Love Is the Seventh Wave." To try and keep album sales going, this fourth single was issued out. The political-leaning track seemed to find an audience and it did well getting into the Top 20 just a notch higher than "Love Is the Seventh Wave." It was also able to get to #34 at Rock. The song extended the life of the album for a bit and eventually it would sell over three million copies.

ReduxReview:  I remember being flummoxed when I found out this song would be Sting's next single. Really? A political dirge concerning the Cold War? Then I was utterly flabbergasted when the dang thing made the Top 20. I can't remember exactly what was going on in the world at the time, but there must have been something that pushed this track along. Perhaps the video helped or that Sting was totally hot at the time and the Grammys were coming up (he had a few nominations). Or maybe folks just liked the message of the song. Whatever happened, I thought it was fine for an album track, but a bit heavy-handed as a single. It's one you never hear played now. Definitely a song of its time.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Sting wrote all of the songs on his debut album. However, this one had a bit of an assist from a person who had died back in 1953. When composing the song, Sting decided to incorporate the main theme from the "Romance" section of Sergei Prokofiev's 1934 Lieutenant Kijé suite. The classical piece was actually music that was composed for the Russian film of the same name. Prokofiev was asked to do the score for the film, which was one of Russia's first with sound, and initially he said no. But after reading the story, he relented and decided to give it a go. The suite of music he created from the film ended up being one of the composer's most famous pieces. Sting was not the first modern pop/rock musician to utilize a part of the suite. In 1975, Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, issue a solo single titled "I Believe in Father Christmas." In between the song's verses, Lake incorporated a portion of the "Troika" melody from Prokofiev's suite. The song reached #2 on the UK chart and is a perennial favorite there.  2) Sting originally wanted to record this song in Russia. The idea was to reach beyond the borders and all the politics and connect with other musicians and perform together. He was hoping to record with the Leningrad State Orchestra. However, travel to Russia at the time was not easy and getting a recording done even harder. Eventually all the political bureaucracy became too much and Sting was unable to make it happen.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Stages" by ZZ Top

Song#:  2588
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  62
Peak:  21
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Texas band got their second Pop Top 10 hit with "Sleeping Bag," the lead single from their ninth studio album Afterburner. They kept things rolling with this next single that nearly made the Pop Top 20. It would do much better at Rock where like "Sleeping Bag" it hit #1. The album would end up being the highest peaking of their career getting to #4, but in the long run their 1983 album Eliminator, which peaked at #9, would sell twice as much moving over 10 million copies vs. 5 million for Afterburner.

ReduxReview:  I think with the massive success of Eliminator, the band was probably pressured to push out a similar album with even more of a commercial punch. They accomplished it with Afterburner, which had a good run of singles, but it certainly wasn't the ZZ Top of the blues-rock La Grange era. This song demonstrates that more than anything they had done. The tune was the most pop-oriented the band had ever recorded. It was as slick and polished as hits by Eddie Money or 38 Special with nary a hint of their brand of blues. Critics weren't all that hep to it, but I actually liked it. I thought the band did a good job of trying to incorporate their sound into something more mainstream. Yeah, they lose a bit of their identity, but I liked the effort and thought it was better than the goofy "Sleeping Bag."

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Another track on the Afterburner album, "Can't Stop Rockin'," was not released as a single, but it picked up enough radio airplay to send the song to #8 on the Rock chart. The song would later be picked up for use in the 1993 superhero/comedy flick Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. The live action move would use a mix of animatronics and suited actors. Because of this, actors were hired to supply the voices. Former 80s teen star Corey Feldman did the voice of Donatello, which was a reprisal of what he did on the first Ninja film. The part of Michelangelo was voiced by Robbie Rist, who had done the part in the previous two films. Some folks familiar with the 70s sitcom The Brady Bunch may remember Rist. He portrayed cousin Oliver in the last season of the show. After the show ended, Rist continued to act in TV shows and a few films. He also became a musician and has performed with many bands. His bread 'n' butter these days seems to be voice over work. In addition to the Ninja trilogy, Rist has supplied voices for numerous animated TV shows, films, and video games.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Nikita" by Elton John

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2587
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  71
Peak:  7
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  John's nineteenth studio album Ice on Fire, started off on a bit of a weak note with its first single, the George Michael-assisted "Wrap Her Up," halting at the #20 spot. For a follow-up this ballad track was selected to be the next single. George Michael would once again make an appearance on backing vocals along with Nik Kershaw. The song slowly gained traction and did well enough to reach the Pop Top 10. It would also be a significant hit at AC getting to #3. Although the album would only peak at a minor #48 (his worst showing to this point for a studio album), this hit breathed enough life into sales of the LP to make it go gold.

ReduxReview:  John's Ice on Fire album ranks among his worst efforts, yet this song provided at least one good moment. Even though "Wrap Her Up" got to #20, it was basically a dud and could have easily sank the album. Luckily, this track was strong enough to overcome the bad start. It really should have been the LP's first single, but I'm assuming the label wanted an uptempo track to start things off and figured the George Michael connection would help sell it. In John's overall singles catalog, this one isn't necessarily a stand out, but it was a pretty good track that did its job in keeping John relevant in the 80s.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This Cold War tale written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin is about a Western man falling for a female East German border guard. The plot of the lyrics sounded awfully familiar to another songwriter named Guy Hobbs. Hobbs had written a song called "Natasha" in 1982 that was based on an experience he had while working as a photographer on a cruise ship. Hobbs ended up having a brief affair with another worker on the ship who was from Russian. Hobbs sent a demo of the song Elton John's publishers in hopes of maybe getting a deal, yet nothing came of it. Later on around 2001, Hobbs happened to read the lyrics to "Nikita" and since that song was written not long after he submitted his song, he figured they used his song as the basis for "Nikita" and decided to sue John and Taupin for plagiarism. In the end, John and Taupin won the lawsuit as the judge found that the ideas and similarities that Hobbs had pointed out between the songs did not fall under the rules for copyright protection.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

"Another Night" by Aretha Franklin

Song#:  2586
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  74
Peak:  22
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Franklin's mid-80s comeback continued with this fourth single from her hit album Who's Zoomin' Who? Although it wouldn't reach the Top 20 like her previous three singles (two of those went Top 10), it still did well and nearly made that goal. It did better at R&B (#9) and Dance (#4). It also came close to the AC Top 20 making it to #21. The hits all helped to make the album Franklin's first to reach platinum sales.

ReduxReview:  While this tune was not as memorable or hooky as the classic "Freeway of Love" or the title track, it was still a solid track that made for a good single. It should have gotten into the Top 20, especially after doing well at R&B and Dance. My favorite part of the song is the breakdown where Aretha just shouts out "my man, I don't need you to be bringin' me down - HEY!" As usual, Aretha sings it with the punch and flare that only she can deliver. This song has gotten set aside over the years in favor of the other hits, which is a bummer as it deserves a bit more attention.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Beppe Cantarelli and Roy Freeland. Cantarelli was an Italian singer/songwriter/producer who had a bit of success as a solo act, but fared better behind the scenes. He hit it big as a songwriter in 1979 when several of his co-writes were picked up by Italian pop superstar Mina for her album Attila. Mina would record a few more of his songs on her next two albums. An opportunity to play guitar for Quincy Jones led to Cantarelli moving to Los Angeles. He continued to write songs and it wasn't too long before a few of them were being picked up by American artists like Franklin, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Tyler, and Laura Branigan. One of this tunes, "I Still Believe," got recorded by Brenda K. Starr in 1988. It was issued as a single and got to #13 Pop/#14 AC. The song was later covered by Mariah Carey in 1999 as a new track for her first hits compilation #1's. Although the song didn't reach #1 at Pop, it did well getting to #4. It also got to #3 R&B and #8 AC. A dance remix of the tune was created and it did end up hitting #1 on the Dance chart.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

"(How to Be A) Millionaire" by ABC

Song#:  2585
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  20
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  The band's third album, How to Be a...Zillionaire!, netted them their first US Top 10 hit with the #9 "Be Near Me." This near-title track was then selected to be that single's follow-up. While it wouldn't get them back in the Top 10, it still did fairly well reaching the Pop Top 20 and making it to #4 on the Dance chart. The album would then make it to #30 and sell many more copies than their previous album, 1983's more rock-oriented Beauty Stab. It would fail to reach the gold-level sales, but it certainly put the band back in the spotlight.

ReduxReview:  This track kicked up the tempo from "Be Near Me" and it worked rather well as a follow-up. It expanded the band's smooth blue-eyed soul sound into something a bit more crunchy via a big 80s synthpop production. While it would not be one of their most memorable chart hits, its Top 20 placement was warranted. It was a great track that sounded good on the radio and it's animated MTV video was pretty cool.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While ABC was having some of their best success in the US, the band's lead singer/songwriter was fighting a major battle that kept the band from touring. Martin Fry was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a type of lymphatic cancer, around the time the album was released. He had to undergo radiation treatments and chemotherapy along with having his spleen removed. Due to all of this, the band had to turn down an offer to tour the US with Tina Turner, an opportunity that would have certainly capitalized on their first US Top 10 hit. Fry decided to put up a major fight against the disease and he did beat the cancer.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

"Night Moves" by Marilyn Martin

Song#:  2584
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  82
Peak:  28
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Singer Martin had been getting some good gigs doing background vocals for the likes of Stevie Nicks and was even able to record one of Nicks' songs, "Sorcerer," for the soundtrack to the cult film Streets of Fire. Atlantic Records took an interest in her and first teamed her up with Phil Collins for the duet "Separate Lives." The song would be a #1 hit that put a spotlight on Martin. Atlantic signed her up and work began on a debut album. Several big named producers, writers, and musicians would contribute to the LP including recent hitmaker John Parr ("St. Elmo's Fire"). Parr along with Jon Astley and Martin would co-write this track that would serve as the album's first single. The more rock oriented song was certainly different from the pop balladry of "Separate Lives" and it may have thrown listeners for a loop as the song could only make a Top 30 showing. It did a little better at Rock getting to #18. Two follow-up singles failed to chart at Pop, but the song "Move Closer" did become a minor entry at AC reaching #34. Martin then softened up her sound for the 1988 follow-up album This Is Serious, but no one paid attention and the album quick disappeared along with Martin's contract. Atlantic took a chance on her again later in 1994 with a country album titled Through His Eyes, but it ended up shelved. Martin stayed in the music business for a long while providing background vocals for other artists including Stevie Nicks, with whom she toured in 2016. She also became a real estate agent and has been living in Nashville. In 2012, she released an indie Christian album titled "Trust, Pray, Love."

ReduxReview:  I really liked this moody, dark track when it came out. The opening with that bass piano riff is very cool and when the song cranks up it sounds damn good. Plus Martin's vocals were spot-on and intense. I've always been disappointed that the song didn't do better. It really should have. I can only guess that the dark rock track just wasn't the right fit for Pop radio and that folks who knew Martin from "Separate Lives" were disappointed in her musical direction. I do think it was a risk to issue this song out as a first single from Martin. She really needed a hooky pop single that could retain all those Phil Collins fans. I still think it's a pretty great tune and I've always appreciated Astley's production work.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Despite getting some positive reviews, the edgier pop/rock of Martin's debut LP just didn't click with listeners. So for her second effort, Martin chose to be more trendy and move towards a softer dance-pop direction. When looking for a producer to help her out, Martin ended up meeting Patrick Leonard who in the midst of working on Madonna's fourth album Like a Prayer. Leonard invited Martin to a session and Martin ended up singing background vocals on the soon-to-be hit "Cherish." Leonard then approached Madonna to write a song for Martin's new album. Madonna agreed and along with Leonard and Kai Winding wrote "Possessive Love." The song would be issued out as the first single from Martin's This Is Serious album. Oddly, despite Madonna's involvement, the track was virtually ignored and it failed to chart. That result made the album tank and ended Martin's days in the spotlight.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

"This Could Be the Night" by Loverboy

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2583
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Canadian band finally got their first US Top 10 hit with the title track from their fourth album Lovin' Every Minute of It. However, the momentum gained by that hit was nearly lost when the LP's second single, "Dangerous," could only manage to reach #65. They needed something to turn the tides and this third single would end up doing the trick. Not only did it eclipse the results of the previous single, it exceeded expectations and became Loverboy's second US Top 10. It would also get to #9 at Rock and #30 AC. The two hits sent the album to #13 and over time it would be a double-platinum seller, which was their fourth multi-platinum album in a row. Unfortunately, this song would be their last to reach the Top 10 and the album would be their last to sell in the millions. Oddly, this album was not as well-received on their home turf. It would only reach #22 on the chart and would fail to generate a Top 10 hit. This particular song would only reach #44 on the Canadian chart.

ReduxReview:  This radio-ready power ballad was something very different for the band. They were known for their arena rock anthems and over the course of their first three albums they had recorded a grand total of one ballad. So not only recording, but releasing this track as a single signaled that the band might be adjusting their sound to become more mainstream. For fans of their earlier, harder rocking songs, this stab at commercial pop/rock didn't sit so well. Yet the hit brought on new fans and kept sales solid. I liked the track. It had the same quality/appeal as the major hit ballads by the likes of Foreigner and Journey (which was not surprising due to the song's co-writer - see below). While it may have been somewhat of a calculated attempt to secure a crossover hit, the tune turned out well and I think the band does a good job with it despite the fact that it was nothing like what Loverboy had been peddling since their 1980 debut.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by band members Mike Reno and Paul Dean along with Bill Wray and a guy who knows something about writing rock hits - Journey's Jonathan Cain. In addition to writing songs for his three bands The Babys, Journey, and Bad English, Cain also penned songs for other artists. He co-wrote most of the songs on his wife Tané Cain's debut album including the Pop Top 40 entry "Holdin' On." He wrote the song "Allies," a song recorded by Heart that was a minor charting single in 1983. He also had songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Lacy J. .Dalton, Michael Bolton, Cher, John Waite and others. Discounting the songs/hits he wrote for his bands, it seems that this Loverboy track may be his best charting effort as a contributing songwriter.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

"What You Need" by INXS

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2582
Date:  01/18/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  5
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Australia's INXS slowly grew their worldwide audience over the course of four albums. Their last album, The Swing, hit #1 in their home country, so it became critical that their fifth album equal or better that feat. They were also hoping to grow their international fan base. In the US and Europe, their new album Listen Like Thieves was introduced by the first single "This Time." It failed to make an impact reaching #81 in the US and #79 in the UK. On the verge of losing the audience they spent the past few years gaining, the band then issued out this next single which had already been a #2 hit in Australia. Its low debut on the Pop chart didn't bode well, but as weeks passed, the song began to break and soon it would become the band's first US Top 10 hit. It would also reach #3 at Rock. The single boosted sales of the album, which ended up peaking at #11. Over time it would end up selling over two million copies. Now that they had broken through in a much bigger way, the pressure would be on to deliver something even better.

ReduxReview:  This song just totally smacked up the radio when it started to get airplay. That blues-rock groove and guitar licks sounded so cool, the drums were crisp and snappy, and the sax was da bomb, especially on the build ups to the second verse and final outro. The tune was brilliantly arranged and produced. It sounded so damn good when cranked to eleven. This song was the spark that really lit a fire under the band. Once they got a taste for hit-dom, they weren't gonna look back.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  After the album was essentially recorded, producer Chris Thomas wasn't convinced that there was a surefire hit among the tracks and requested that the band try to come up with one. With very little time available to write a brand new song from scratch, band members Andrew Fariss and Michael Hutchence went through some of the demo/idea tapes they recorded while working on the album and came across a groovy track that was titled "Funk Song No. 13." Thomas loved it and though it could be the basis for something great. Fariss and Hutchence got to work on it and a day later had "What You Need." They quickly got it recorded and added to the album. That last ditch effort resulted in their first US Top 10. Thirteen was certainly lucky for them!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"Your Personal Touch" by Evelyn "Champagne" King

Song#:  2581
Date:  01/11/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  86
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  King's 1982 album Get Loose was a double-platinum seller thanks to the crossover hit "Love Come Down" (#1 R&B, #17 Pop), but her two follow-up LPs couldn't capture the same magic as that breakthrough. Her third attempt, A Long Time Coming (A Change Is Gonna Come), featured this first single which got her back into the R&B Top 10 for the first time since '82. It would also give her a hit at Dance where the tune got to #5. Yet the song's crossover appeal seemed to be limited and it could only spend a month near the bottom of the Pop chart. It would be King's final song to reach the Pop chart. The results led to King leaving her home label RCA and signing on with EMI/Manhattan. Her first album for them, Flirt, did fairly well sporting two R&B Top 10 hits and getting to #20 on the R&B album chart, but a second album fared poorly and that ended King's major label days.

ReduxReview:  This is a good jam and King really gave it her all to sell the darn thing, yet it just wasn't enough to catch on at Pop. Yeah, it's not quite as special or arranged as well as "Love Come Down," but it had a nice hook and deserved to do a bit better on the Pop chart. Sadly, King just never got great material after Get Loose. She tried to keep up with trends, but without having a killer crossover tune it didn't make any difference and King kind of got left in the dust. Yet she had a great run with seven R&B Top 10's including two #1's and the classics "Shame" (1977, #9 Pop, #7 R&B) and "Love Come Down."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The CD reissue of A Long Time Coming featured the bonus track "Give It Up." It was a track that King recorded for the soundtrack to the 1985 horror flick Fright Night. A few singles were issued from the soundtrack LP including the J. Geils Band's title theme and this song from King. Unfortunately, King's single didn't get any attention and it failed to chart. Also included on the soundtrack was the April Wine track "Rock Myself to Sleep." It would serve as a single from the soundtrack and as the lead single from their 1985 album Walking Through Fire, however it did not chart either. The song, which was written by Kimberly Rew and Vince De la Cruz of Katrina & the Waves, actually got more attention when it was picked up by Starship. They recorded it for their platinum album Knee Deep in the Hoopla. It was not issued as a single. Katrina & the Waves would do their own version of the song for their 1989 album Break of Hearts.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"The Superbowl Shuffle" by The Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew

Song#:  2580
Date:  01/11/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  41
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Novelty, Charity

**Welcome to 1986! New year, new song, new artists, and a whole lotta fun!**



Pop Bits:  The 1985 NFL season was being dominated by one team - the Chicago Bears. Players for the team like Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, and William "Refrigerator" Perry had become stars doing endorsements and other gigs. The team's wide receiver Willie Gault had aspirations outside of his day job and wanted to get involved in music and acting. He ended up being cast in a video for the Linda Clifford song "The Heat in Me" (#17 Dance, 1985). Clifford recorded for the upstart Red Label Records and its owner Richard Meyer started talking with Gault about doing a song with the Bears team. It would be a fun thing to do that would help the label. Gault like the idea and started talking to his teammates about it. Players came on board with the understanding that they would get a small fee and a percentage of the proceeds would go to charitable organizations. For the song, it was decided that a rap would work well, especially for guys who were not singers. Meyer bought the rights to an existing unreleased novelty track called "The Kingfish Shuffle" (based on a character from the old Amos 'n' Andy show) and it was updated with raps for the various players were written. After it got recorded, it went to Chicago radio stations and soon it was all over the airwaves. A video would also be filmed for the tune and it quickly began to get play on MTV. All of a sudden, this little charity record turned into a significant hit. It got on the Pop chart and nearly make the Top 40 while reaching #75 at R&B. Although its chart placement wasn't that high due to lack of airplay and/or reporting from many stations, it sold a lot of copies and would eventually be certified gold. The VHS video of the song would also be a big seller. The Bears would have a 15-1 season and would go on to win the Super Bowl.

ReduxReview:  Yeesh. What a cruddy way to start the year! I typically dislike novelty songs and this one is no exception. However, in this case it's hard to get too mad at it because the idea behind it (or part of it) was thoughtful. Depending on which story you read, it wasn't a full-on charity item. The label was going to get compensation, the players involved were to be paid a fee and supposedly a cut of the royalties as well, and only a certain percentage of profits would actually go to a charity. In other words, it wasn't a true charity event where all proceeds are donated. From what I read, Meyer just wanted to do it to help boost his new record label and Gault introduced the charity part in order to get the players on board. It all seems a bit fishy to me, but at least some money did get out to help a few people. Players said they didn't do it to boast or brag, but c'mon - they were celebrity pro football stars who were having a great season and their egos were being fed with stories about being the best team ever. Of course there was a bit of bravado involved. As far as the actual song, it's like a radio show comedy skit gone awry. I thought the song and the video were just stupid. However, it reflected a cultural moment in time and folks loved it - especially Bears fans. It's so hard to rate something like this. As a pop culture phenomenon, it certainly was quite something. As an actual song, ugh. So I'll split the difference and hope that the charity was able to help some folks with whatever proceeds they got.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Not only did the Crew get a gold record hit, they also got a Grammy nomination. They were nominated in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group category. They lost the award to "Kiss" by Prince & the Revolution.  2) As happens sometimes with tossed together benefit events, there quickly became problems in regards to the finances. There were issues with agreements, amounts, etc., that kept money from going to the actual charity. This irritated the participants quite a bit. They wouldn't consider the single a success until money actually made it to the charity. After quite a bit of legal wrangling, money was finally distributed to charity. Yet there are varying stories as to if any of the players or other folks involved got the proper compensation promised to them. There were more legal issues that came about years later as well. The good thing though is that anywhere from $200,000-$300,000 did finally make its way to a charitable cause.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Milestone! The Year in Review: 1985

I am officially over tha hump in the project! Six years down, four more to go! To this point, the decade has consisted of 2,579 chart entries. That is an average of about 430 entries per year. I still have a long way to go, but I'm looking forward to it!

The previous year, 1984, was my favorite of the decade by far. It was the sweet spot for pop music and in my opinion the best ever! When 1985 came along I thought it would be similar, yet when diving in I realized that it took a bit of a nose dive. Just look at my stats. In 1984 I rated a whopping 19 songs a 10. In 1985 it was a measly 8. That's a significant drop. The average rating for Top 10 entries took a slight hit as well. The average for 1984 was a rating of 8 while in 1985 it dipped to 7. The number of songs rated a 5 or less increased a bit in 1985 to 120 from 1984's 115. Still, the average rating for both years was 6, which is not surprising.

So why was 1985 a lesser year? It may be because of more changes happening in music and some artists just not keeping up. It could be that some of the newer artists were just not as strong as they were the previous year. I also wasn't thrilled with several of the #1 songs in '85 like Stevie Wonder's "Part-Time Lover" or Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me." Even my Top 5 favorites list below didn't include a single #1 song. Overall, it just wasn't a banner year.

Now that '85 is in the books, I'm looking forward to '86. I think things may rebound. There are some interesting things coming up including the debut of the Pet Shop Boys, Genesis gettin' all poppy, the emergence of the fab Janet Jackson, and both Peter Gabriel and Bon Jovi breaking through to the mainstream masses.

I'm still enjoying this project and I hope anyone who encounters the blog will have fun as well. Keep reading, pass it along to friends, feel free to send comments, and don't forget to "Rate It!" at the bottom of each post. Here is a recap of 1985:

Number of charted songs in 1985:  405  (433 in 1984)
Time it took listen/post all songs:  1 year, 39 days  (1 year, 29 days for 1984)
Number of songs that debuted in 1985 to hit #1:  28  (19 in 1984)
Number of songs that debuted in 1985 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  74  (76 in 1984)
Number of gold singles:  17  (26 in 1984)
Number of platinum singles: 2  (9 in 1984)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  8  (10 in 1984)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  5  (3 in 1984)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  8  (19 for 1984)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  1  (2 for 1984)

Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush
  2. "Small Town" by John Cougar Mellencamp
  3. "Would I Lie to You" by Eurythmics
  4. "Life in a Northern Town" by The Dream Academy
  5. "Freeway of Love" by Aretha Franklin
Worst song of the year:  "Party All the Time" by Eddie Murphy
Best song I didn't know existed:  "Look My Way" by The Vels
Favorite discovery:  The Vels

A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #21 - "We Are the World" by USA for Africa (peaked at #1)
Lowest debut:  #97 - "Don't Say No Tonight" by Eugene Wilde (peaked at #76)

Longest climb to peak position:  "Take on Me" by a-ha climbed 90 positions from #91 to #1

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1985:  "Take on Me" by a-ha took 15 weeks to reach #1
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1985:  "We Are the World" by USA for Africa took only 4 weeks to reach #1.
Most weeks at #1 for a song debuting in 1985:  4 - for two songs, "We Are the World" by USA for Africa and "Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1985:  29 - "I Miss You" by Klymaxx (it peaked at #5).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  13
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #90 - 28 songs debuted at that spot (1 hit Top 10, 1 made it to #1)
Longest song title:  "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll) " by Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit
Shortest song title:  "19" by Paul Hardcastle and "Go" by Asia

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1985:  'til tuesday, a-ha, Amy Grant, David Lee Roth (solo), Depeche Mode, Julian Lennon, Kate Bush, Miami Sound Machine, Mick Jagger, (solo) Mike + the Mechanics, Sade, Sting, (solo) Tears for Fears

Runners-Up:  8 songs peaked at #2, 5 songs peaked at #11, and 5 songs peaked at #41


Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts):
  • Corey Hart was offered the opportunity to audition for the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
  • Luther Vandross originally sang the male vocal part on "That's What Friends Are For."
  • Christopher Cross wrote a song about Tina Fey's Liz Lemon character on 30 Rock.
  • Actress Daryl Hannah was the female background vocal on Clarence Clemmons' "You're a Friend of Mine."
  • Donny Osmond co-wrote "Too Young," a song that got recorded by soap opera star Jack Wagner.
  • Billy Joel was in an infamous two-man drum and organ psychedelic rock act named Attila that recorded one album.
  • Bruce Springsteen nearly included "Pink Cadillac" on his Born in the U.S.A. album.
  • Starship's #1 "We Built This City" was once ranked as the worst song ever.
  • Whitney Houston's first #1 hit, "Saving All My Love for You," was actually a remake.
  • Wham! was the first Western pop/rock act to perform in China.
  • Prince denied Elvis Costello permission to record a version of "Pop Life."
  • Phil Collins named his album No Jacket Required after on an incident he had at a restaurant.
  • Radio personality Casey Kasem had a notorious rant after playing The Pointer Sisters' "Dare Me."
  • Tears for Fears got the name for their album Songs from the Big Chair from the TV movie Sybil.
  • Boy George wrote a song for the Beach Boys.
  • Air Supply covered a old Bruce Springsteen song.
  • Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill" still remains the only James Bond theme song to have hit #1 in the US.
  • One of Madonna's most famous songs, "Into the Groove," never made the Pop chart.
  • Songwriter/producer Mutt Lange reused a part of a lesser hit he did for Roman Holliday to boost another #1 song.
  • Scandal's Patty Smyth had a chance to become the new lead singer of Van Halen.
  • Kim Carnes got to claim a bit of chart history when her single "Invitation to Dance" debuted on the Pop chart.
According to the year-end chart for 1985, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "Careless Whisper" by Wham! featuring George Michael
  2. "Like a Virgin" by Madonna
  3. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!
  4. "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
  5. "I Feel for You" by Chaka Khan
  6. "Out of Touch" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
  7. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears
  8. "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits
  9. "Crazy for You" by Madonna
  10. "Take on Me" by a-ha

So long '85! You weren't the best year, but you weren't too shabby either!
 
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Sunday, November 4, 2018

"Sara" by Starship

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2579
Date:  12/28/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  The band's first album under the new Starship moniker, Knee Deep in the Hoopla, started off quite well when the LP's first single, "We Built This City," made it to #1. While the hit caught many folks by surprise, they were downright shocked when this next single followed suit and topped the Pop chart as well. It would also get to #1 at AC while going to #12 at Rock. The early, original version of the band, Jefferson Airplane, grabbed back-to-back Top 10's in 1967 with "Somebody to Love" (#5) and "White Rabbit" (#8), but they were unable to do that again and neither could Jefferson Starship. The two lineups were also unable to score a #1 hit. It took the third version of the band to finally top the chart and they did it twice in a row; and it wouldn't be their last time hitting #1.

ReduxReview:  After the bombast of "We Built This City," this lovely ballad was certainly welcome. It was a well-written, radio-ready track that had a terrific vocal by Mickey Thomas. This really was a can't-miss hit, especially when following up a #1. I remember buying the album and when hearing this song for the first time immediately thinking, "this is definitely a hit and had better get issued out!" Out of their 80s hits, this is the one that has aged the best, even with its dated production.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Peter Wolf (not of J. Geils Band fame) and his wife Ina Wolf. They named the song after lead singer Mickey Thomas' (then) wife Sara. The Wolfs' would have a productive period in the mid-80s writing songs for other artists including Jefferson Starship, El DeBarge, Kenny Loggins, and others. The pair also recorded a couple of albums as a duo named Wolf & Wolf. Their self-titled 1984 album was produced by Ron Nevison, who had produced three albums for Jefferson Starship and would produce Heart's 1985 comeback album (on which Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick would appear doing background vocals).

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

"Secret Lovers" by Atlantic Starr

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2578
Date:  12/28/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  3
Weeks:  23
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Quiet Storm



Pop Bits:  Despite scoring three R&B Top 10's, over the course of five albums Atlantic Starr's only significant entry on the Pop chart was the #38 "Circles" in 1982. As their sixth album, As the Band Turns,  kicked off, the grabbed another R&B Top 10, but once again saw little action at Pop. That is until this fourth single was released. The ballad slowly caught on and soon it got to #4 at R&B while becoming their first Pop Top 10. It was also a big success at AC reaching #1. The late blooming single helped push the album to #17 (#3 R&B) and it would eventually become their first album to reach gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  Perhaps it didn't seem like it at the time, but this was a no-brainer for single release. Yet the label chose three other songs ahead of this one which were more upbeat. I'm guessing they were trying to establish the band as something hip and funky and didn't want to get them tagged as a quiet storm act. When that didn't really pan out, someone finally went - screw it, let's put the ballad out. They were lucky that it got noticed as fourth singles will rarely become big hits, especially following a couple of tepid releases. It really revived their career, which was waning a bit at the time. Who knows what would have happened had this not been released, especially since they had already been dumped by A&M. The song was a great fit for Pop and AC. It's a lovely tune with a sweet 80s production. I found it odd back in the day that couples would crowd the dance floor and happily sway to this tune about - infidelity. Weird.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Apparently the band's label at the time, A&M, were not thrilled with the band's progress or initial sales of As the Band Turns. Despite reaching the R&B Top 10 with the LP's first single "Freak-A-Ristic" (#90 Pop), A&M made the decision to let the band go and had basically dropped them before "Secret Lovers" was released. Because they no longer had label support, the band had to actually pay for a video themselves in order to promote the unexpected hit. With a major crossover hit to their credit, the band was quickly snatched up by Warner Bros. where they would have the biggest selling album of their career.  2) The female lead singer for Atlantic Starr, Sharon Bryant, decided to head out on a solo career after the band's 1983 album Yours Forever failed to capitalize on their previous success, 1982's #1 R&B LP Brilliance. Bryant would then work as a session singer until she finally got a record deal. Her 1989 album Here I Am would feature two R&B Top 10 singles, but it ended up being her only solo effort. Her replacement in Atlantic Starr was Barbara Weathers, who sang on "Secret Lovers." Weathers would also leave the band for a solo career after one more album. Her self-titled 1990 album was a modest seller that featured the #13 R&B single "The Master Key."

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Friday, November 2, 2018

"Let's Go All the Way" by Sly Fox

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2577
Date:  12/28/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  7
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Sly Fox were an assembled duo put together by producer Ted Currier. He first brought on board Gary "Mudbone" Cooper of Bootsy's Rubber Band for the project. Then Currier had the idea to hire in a white singer and play up the black/white race angle of the duo. Currier found jingle singer Michael Camacho and Sly Fox was set to go. With Currier producing, the duo recorded their debut album for Capitol titled Let's Go All the Way. This title-track would be the first single issued from the LP. It would be a slow-burner that would ease its way up the chart until it finally cracked the Top 10. It would be a middling entry at R&B reaching #57. The hit would help sell albums and it would get to #31, which was a good showing for a debut. It set them up well for further success, but artistic differences and other issues arose and the duo called it quits before they could issue out a second album. Besides a very low charting second single, this song was their only major hit and it got them tagged as a one-hit wonder.

ReduxReview:  The production and arrangement were really the highlights on this song. I remember buying the single and it sounded so damn good cranked up on my stereo. It also helped that it was hooky as hell. Yet this song was such a distinctive hit that none of their other material could gain any attention and as happens with a lot of groups that are put together by someone else, they didn't last very long. They got the one-hit wonder tag, but at least they earned it with a pretty cool song that folks still like.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  For many folks, this song's beat sounded awfully familiar. A few months earlier, a hip hop group named The Boogie Boys had a #6 R&B hit with a song titled "A Fly Girl." The beat of that song was nearly identical to the one used on "Let's Go All the Way." Did Sly Fox rip it off? Not necessarily as both songs just happened to be produced by Ted Currier. Currier actually recorded "Let's Go All the Way" first and thought it turned out so good that he played it for the Boogie Boys, whom he had started working with. Apparently, Boogie Boy member Stro loved it as well and ended up writing a rap over the beat. This impressed Currier and he decided to adjust the beat track from "Let's Go" for the new rap song "A Fly Girl." Timeline wise, "A Fly Girl" came out during the summer while "Let's Go didn't appear until the end of the year making it seem like "Let's Go" ripped off "Fly Girl." Yet it was just a case of same producer and same beat applied to two different styles of music.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

"Good Friends" by Joni Mitchell

Song#:  2576
Date:  12/28/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  85
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Singer/Songwriter



Pop Bits:  After diving into jazz-oriented sounds in the late 70s, Joni returned her more singer/songwriter pop roots with her first album for the Geffen label, 1982's Wild Things Run Fast. The album performed well and even got her back on the Pop singles chart for the first time in six years with the playful Elvis cover "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" (#47). With a little commercial viability tossed back into her career, Geffen wanted to up the game a bit and get Mitchell's songs updated for the 80s. They paired her with "She Blinded Me with Science" synth wizard Thomas Dolby and the resulting album, Dog Eat Dog, would be her most modern, of-the-times sounding effort. To introduce the LP, this opening track would be selected as the first single. Although he wasn't given billing, Michael McDonald provided the duet voice. The song was able to reach the Pop chart, but only for a few short weeks. It did a bit better at Rock getting to #28. It would end up being Mitchell's final single to reach the Pop chart. She would leave Geffen after two more albums and then experience a career resurgence on the Reprise label with her 1994 Grammy-winning LP Turbulent Indigo. Her 2000 album Both Sides Now, which featured orchestrated standards and new versions of two of her most famous songs, would win the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. The album and its title track would play a key role in the 2003 film Love Actually. Mitchell would also earn a Grammy for her participation in Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters, a 2007 album on which Hancock performs jazz interpretations of Mitchell's songs. It would end up winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. Mitchell performs the vocals on the track "Tea Leaf Prophesy." It was only the second jazz album in Grammy history to win the award and the first in 42 years.

ReduxReview:  Mitchell fans have always been divided about the Dog Eat Dog album. It's a love it/hate it kind of thing with a few waffling in between. As a big Mitchell fan, I'd place it very low on a ranked list of her albums, but I also don't think it's truly as bad as some fans and critics make it out to be. I like that she took a chance and brought Dolby on board as his work gave her songs a different spin (though it sounds dated now) and there are a few gems among the tracks. "Good Friends" is an interesting track. Mitchell has never been a true "hit" songwriter and by this point she certainly wasn't going to conform and create a conventional pop tune, so this was an attempt to shove one of her songs into an arrangement that made it seem more radio friendly and accessible. It might have worked if there had actually been a hooky chorus here, but there isn't. It just kind of rambles against a big 80s production. Oddly, I kind of like it but there was no way this was going to fly up the chart. Luckily, this electro 80s phase of her career would pass and she'd later make some albums that would rank high up on my "best of Joni's albums" list.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Throughout her recording career, Mitchell had produced the majority of her own album albums including her classics Blue (1971) and Court and Spark (1974), along with her first Geffen album Wild Things Run Fast. However, for her next effort Geffen suggested that she work with a producer who was more in-tune with the sounds of the 80s. Their suggestion was Thomas Dolby. Mitchell bristled at the idea and thought that if she let a tech guru like Dolby come in and paint her songs in what he wanted, then the songs would end up not being hers. She said no, but Geffen was certain this needed to happen and convinced Mitchell to take Dolby on in a more backseat technical role. It was Dolby's synths and effects that pushed Mitchell's songs into the 80s. Although they got the work done, apparently the two didn't necessarily become best buds during the process. After this experience, Mitchell would then produce all of her albums herself with the majority of them co-produced by Larry Klein (who was also Mitchell's husband from 1982-1994).

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"Let Me Down Easy" by Roger Daltrey

Song#:  2575
Date:  12/28/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  86
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Daltrey's song "After the Fire," the first single from his album Under a Raging Moon, was #3 Rock hit that just missed out on making the Pop Top 40 (#48). For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The tune did well at Rock reaching #11, but it couldn't catch a break at Pop and only managed to spend a month near the bottom of the chart. The album, which was a tribute to his former bandmate Keith Moon who died in 1978, did fairly well reaching #42.

ReduxReview:  This is a pure commercial rock track that fit Daltrey very well. At a time when Adams and Vallance (see below) were shuffling off their lesser extra tracks to other artists, they occasionally tossed out a good one like this. I think had "After the Fire" done better, this single might have had a good chance to move up the chart. Adams probably should have kept this one himself, but actually his recorded version is a bit bland. Daltrey's take is much better. It has a richer production with crunchy guitars and Daltry is totally on and engaged. It's a hit that everyone missed.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by the team of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. The mid 80s were a very productive period for the composers and many of the songs they wrote during this time were pegged for other artists and not necessarily for any of Adams' albums. Vallance has said that this particular song is one that they wrote specifically with Stevie Nicks in mind. Apparently they did submit the tune to Nicks' camp, but did not hear anything back. It ended up with Daltrey who recorded it for his album. Adams' own demo version of the song would later appear as a bonus track on the 30th anniversary of his hit album Reckless.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Strength" by The Alarm

Song#:  2574
Date:  12/28/1985
Debut:  91
Peak:  61
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Alternative Rock



Pop Bits:  After various iterations and name changes, this Welsh band finally settled on a line-up and became The Alarm in 1981. Their reputation as a solid live band got them noticed and a few gigs opening up for bigger acts like The Fall and U2 helped them to secure a deal with I.R.S. Records. A few singles and a self-titled EP did well enough to set the band up for their debut full-length album, 1984's Declaration. It would be a Top 10 hit in the UK bolstered by the #17 single "68 Guns," which made it to #39 on the US Rock chart. The album would also do well in the States getting to #50. After touring the US, the band headed back home to work on their second album to be titled Strength. This title-track would be the first single and it got to #40 in the UK. In the US, the track would do very well at Rock getting to #12 while becoming their first song to cross over to the Pop chart. It wouldn't crack the top half of the chart, but it was enough to help send the album to #39.

ReduxReview:  I had heard of The Alarm, but I wasn't familiar with any of their material. I remember that they were often compared to U2 and songs like this one certainly invited the comparison. On this track I think they sound like a mix of U2 and The Cult. I don't think they were ripping off either band but they did wear their influences on their sleeves. Even the album track "Spirit of '76" sounds like they had been listening to a lot of Born to Run era Bruce Springsteen. This is a solid rock track that probably sounded great on the radio, but it is awfully serious and the hooks aren't necessarily ones that work at pop radio.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Lead singer of The Alarm, Mike Peters, started his first band in 1977 after seeing the Sex Pistols. His punk influenced band would be called The Toilets and one of the songs Peters wrote for the band was titled "Alarm Alarm." Later on when Peters' next band Seventeen evolved, it was decided that the new band's name would be after the song title - Alarm Alarm. The story then goes that legendary English DJ John Peel made an on-air comment about the band's name stating something like - there is Duran Duran and Talk Talk, now there is Alarm Alarm...maybe I should change my name to John Peel John Peel. That little swipe prompted a name change to simply The Alarm.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

"Kyrie" by Mr. Mister

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2573
Date:  12/21/1985
Debut:  61
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The band got their first #1 with "Broken Wings," the lead single from their second album Welcome to the Real World. This next track would give them their second chart topper. It would also reach #1 at Rock and #11 AC. Based on the strength of this song, their album would finally make it to the #1 spot in March of '86 the week before Whitney Houston's debut LP would start it's run at the top. The album would soon be certified platinum.

ReduxReview:  With this song, Mr. Mister cranked out two outstanding back-to-back #1's, which was a pretty rare feat for band whose first album was barely a blip on the chart. It was quite impressive and seemed to signal that they had the goods to make it. Yet the band virtually imploded with their next album. At least they had these two iconic songs from the 80s. I just remember picking up the single of this song and pissed to find out that it had an edited fade-out ending instead of the original a cappella ending. I then had to buy the album. Besides the two #1's, not much on the LP interested me and it quickly got set aside. I loved the opening of this song. It really set a tone just as the opening of "Broken Wings" did. The chorus is terrific and gets even better after a "whoa-whoa" bridge and key change into a big arena rock hand clap moment. The song was spot-on and I still enjoy hearing it.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Music for this song was written by band members Richart Page and Steve George while the lyrics were done by John Lang. Lang, who is Page's cousin, co-wrote all but one of the songs on Welcome to the Real World and all of the songs on their debut LP I Wear the Face. The phrase that starts the chorus, "kyrie eleison," is Greek for "Lord, have mercy." Although Mr. Mister were not considered a Christian band, the lyrics to a few of their songs had spiritual elements. At the time this song came out, many listeners didn't know what "kyrie eleison" meant and even though the song was titled "Kyrie," they had trouble figuring out the chorus lyrics. This led to the song have a lot of "misheard lyrics" associated with it. A common one was that the chorus was "carry a laser down the road that I must travel." Others heard "carry an angel" while some thought it was the name Carrie. Whatever they heard, they all made it a #1 song. What's funny is that many folks who sang along to the song had no idea they were really singing "Lord, have mercy"... including atheists.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

"Stacy" by Fortune

Song#:  2572
Date:  12/21/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  80
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  This L.A. band was started by brothers Richard and Mick Fortune in the late 70s. With Richard's wife Colleen and Mauren Thornton on vocals, the band got signed to Warner Bros. and issued a self-titled debut album in 1978. Working with soul producer Mark Davis, the band's sound at the time was a mix of rock, blues and soul. After two failed singles, the band was back on their own again and they decided to change direction and head towards a more commercial pop/rock sound. It paid off a little bit for them when a song they recorded, "Airwaves," got picked up by Columbia Records and placed on the soundtrack to the teen sex comedy The Last American Virgin. At that time they were listed as The Fortune Band. Despite some attention and opening slots for major artists, the band couldn't secure a second deal and basically disbanded sometime in '84. But then MCA came calling and was willing to give the band a chance. By this time, Colleen and Mauren had left the band and new lead singer Larry Greene was in place. They recorded a second self-titled LP that featured this first single. It was able to reach the Pop chart for a few weeks, but the rock ballad just couldn't break any wider. The band was then once again without a label and for a second time they split up.

ReduxReview:  This soft rock ballad is pretty nice. It seems a bit on the 70s side, but the production keeps it up-to-date. There are parts of it that remind me of Starship's "Sara," which was probably recorded about the same time and would hit the chart the week after "Stacy" debuted. It's a good track, but the style of the song wasn't in tune with the Pop chart at the time. The band had a few good Foreigner-esqe tracks on their album, but again, that was more appropriate for the late 70s/early 80s. This effort came a few years too late.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The second single from Fortune's 1978 debut album was "Squeeze Me, Please Me." Written by famous songwriter/producer Norman Whitfield, it was originally recorded by the psychedelic soul group The Undisputed Truth. It was included on their 1975 album Cosmic Truth. It was not issued out as a single. The song most likely was brought to Fortune via their producer Mark Davis. Davis had played keyboards on the Cosmic Truth LP. The Undisputed Truth had a few Pop chart entries and several middling R&B singles with their biggest hit being 1971's "Smiling Faces Sometimes," which got to #3 Pop/#2 R&B. Norman Whitefield wrote that song as well and recorded it with The Temptations first for their 1971 album Sky's the Limit. Their 12+ minute version was not issued as a single. Whitfield then took it over to The Undisputed Truth the same year and cut a 3-minute version for their debut album. It ended up being a hit.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

"Baby Talk" by Alisha

Song#:  2571
Date:  12/21/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  68
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  Brooklyn-born Alisha Ann Itkin began singing at an early age. Her parents thought she had the goods to make it in the music industry and when Alisha was 14, they began to circulate a demo tape to various labels. Someone at Vanguard Records took notice and passed the tape along to their in-house producer, Mark S. Berry, who at the time was seeking a vocalist for a dance track he was working on. Alisha seemed exactly right for the job and she got to record the song "All Night Passion." The tune slowly broke in the dance clubs and eventually it reached #4 on the Dance chart. Alisha then signed with Vanguard for a debut album produced by Berry. Her second single, "Too Turned On," was another Dance hit getting to #6. But this third single would end up being her biggest overall hit. The song took off and made it to #1 at Dance while becoming her first to crossover to the Pop chart. While the single didn't peak very high, it stayed on the chart for quite a long spell. It would also get to #75 at R&B. Her self-titled debut album was issued out, yet despite the Dance hits, it was unable to chart. Alisha's Dance chart success got the attention of RCA and she would move over to that major label for her next album.

ReduxReview:  This song had to have been influenced by Madonna's "Into the Groove." The bass line especially sounds like a near ripoff. There is enough other stuff going on in the song to keep it from being lawsuit-worthy, however it didn't help that Alisha sounded an awful lot like Madonna. From what I've read, producer Berry was looking for just a really good vocalist to sing the first single "All Night Passion," but my guess is that when he was seeking one the words "Madonna-like" were probably uttered. I mean, he worked for Vanguard and most likely had access to killer session vocalists who could sing circles around Alisha, yet he chose a teenager with a capable voice who sounded like Madonna. Things that make you go hmmmm... Despite the Madonna similarities, the song itself is just okay. I don't find it very memorable and the production is a bit weak and on the tinny side. Alisha's voice doesn't do much for me either.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is actually a remake of a song originally recorded by singer Gregg Brown. It was written by Brown and Logankoya. Brown released the track in the UK in 1984, but it didn't get anywhere.   2) When an artist hits it big, sometimes imitators will follow. Trendsetter Madonna was certainly one who influenced a lot of folks and in the 80s there were plenty of Madonna-esque artists (sometimes intentional, sometimes not) coming out of the woodwork. Alisha is one who got lumped in the pile of Madonna imitators thanks to her voice and style of music. Many people took note of the similarities including Madge herself. In a 1989 interview for Rolling Stone, Madonna was asked how she felt about these artists capitalizing on her sound. Madonna said that at first she was peeved about it, but then later felt flattered. She also said that it throws her for a loop sometimes when one pops up unexpectedly on the radio as for a split second she thinks it's her. Alisha happened to be one of those artists and Madonna said of her:  "There's one girl in particular, a girl named Alisha, who's had a couple of songs that ripped off the chord progressions of some of my songs. And her voice sounds so much like mine when I sing in a higher register. I was shocked! She's definitely one who stunned me."

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Friday, October 26, 2018

"Own the Night" by Chaka Khan

Song#:  2570
Date:  12/21/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  57
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  While the soundtrack to the hit TV series Miami Vice had a few previously released tracks, there were a few originals including Jan Hammer's theme song, which had recently hit #1. Another original was this tune from R&B star Chaka Khan, which would serve as the LP's third single. Unfortunately, it didn't quite catch fire and it stalled near mid-chart at Pop while getting to #66 at R&B. Although the song didn't do very well, the album was still selling and the following week after this song debuted on the Pop chart, the LP would return to the #1 spot for four weeks. Combined with it's previous seven week run at the top the album would spend a total of eleven non-consecutive weeks at #1. It would eventually sell over four million copies.

ReduxReview:  Producers Arif and Joe Mardin tried their darnedest to make something hit worthy out of this song, but it just didn't quite get there. It's not a bad song, but it's more of a b-side or album track. It just doesn't have the goods to truly be a memorable single. Khan is a powerhouse singer, yet she nearly sounds like she's just going through the motions. It didn't help that the song wasn't a good vehicle to showcase her voice. The rock edge of the track didn't do it any favors on the R&B chart. The production/arrangement is probably the best thing about the tune. It actually sounds like a song that should be on a soundtrack, so in that respect it was fine. It just wasn't a very good single choice.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song that was originally recorded by soul star George McCrae. He recorded the song for his 1984 album of the same name. His version was issued out as a single, but the only thing it could so was reach a low #59 on the Dance chart. McCrae is mostly known for his 1974 disco hit "Rock Me Baby." That single reached #1 at Pop and R&B (also #19 AC). McCrae would grab two more R&B Top 10's, but things quickly cooled and his singles stopped charting before the 80s even began. The song was written by Franne Golde, Mary Dean Lauria, and Marti Sharron. Golde had scored earlier in the year co-writing "Nightshift" by the Commodores (#3 Pop) while Sharron had success in 1984 co-writing "Jump (For My Love)" by the Pointer Sisters (#3 Pop).

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

"Day By Day" by The Hooters

Song#:  2569
Date:  12/14/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  18
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Philly band's second album Nervous Night was slowly building up an audience. With the second single "And We Danced" nearly making the Pop Top 20 (#21, #3 Rock), people were taking notice. This third single would be another winner for them that would get into the Top 20 while hitting #3 at Rock. It would end up being their biggest hit. The singles would help the album move up to #12 and eventually it would be a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This jangly rock track was a good follow-up to "And We Danced." It featured another big hook that easily lured in listeners. While I liked this track, I thought "And We Danced" was a much better song. I was actually a bit surprised when it popped into the Top 20. I remember seeing the title of this song when it first charted. I hadn't heard it yet and I was a little confused as I thought, "did this band actually do a remake?" For a half second I thought they might have made a bold choice and done a cover of "Day By Day" from the 1971 Broadway musical Godspell. (In 1972, "Day By Day" was released as a single from the original cast soundtrack. It got to #13 on the Pop chart.) I quickly learned they did not and it was their own original.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The Hooters got to perform early on during the US portion of the Live Aid concert held in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985. They were slotted in just after Joan Baez opened the concert in the morning. It made sense to have the band there as they were from Philly and they had just broken through nationally with their Nervous Night album. Yet one person was not happy to have them on the bill. Live Aid organizer Bob Geldoff balked at the band getting stage time. He had no idea who they were or why they would even be involved. Pressured by other people including promoter Bill Graham, the band was allowed to perform. Years later in 2004, a DVD of the concert was finally released, yet The Hooters' performance was not included. According to Hooter Eric Bazilian, just a few short weeks after the DVD came out, the band found themselves headlining a concert in Germany. Their opening act? Bob Geldof!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"Somewhere" by Barbra Streisand

Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2568
Date:  12/14/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  43
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Standards



Pop Bits:  As 1985 rolled around, Streisand was at a bit of a crossroads. Although her 1980 album Guilty would be her best selling studio LP and her directorial debut Yentl was a success, her 1984 album Emotion was a disappointment. Streisand's mainstream pop/rock career, which took off with 1971's Stoney End, had a lot of ups and a few downs, but she seemed to be able to keep up with music trends. Yet, the 80s brought on more drastic changes with new wave and synthpop leading the way and even though she tried to stay on-trend with aspects of Emotion, it just didn't work out and it was a signal that perhaps she needed to reevaluate her place in the day's music scene. What Streisand did next confounded many folks including her label. She decided it was the right time to return to her original roots and make an album of Broadway songs that she personally loved. Appropriately titled The Broadway Album, Streisand forged ahead with the recording despite naysayers and even filmed the process for a TV special. This West Side Story song complete with a modern arrangement by producer David Foster was selected to be the first single. As expected, the tune did well at AC getting to #5. The single couldn't quite get inside the Pop Top 40, but its #43 peak was still considered a success due to the style of the song and the fact that none of the singles from Emotion did that well. It helped lure folks to the album, which shot to the top of the chart becoming Streisand's sixth #1. It would end up selling over four million copies and be considered one of Streisand's best albums.

ReduxReview:  I think when I heard this song for the first time I nearly shit my pants. Yes! Finally! Streisand bucking trends and recording the music she wanted to do. And not only that, but doing it with such power, grace, and emotion. It was spectacular. I'm one of the few folks who kind of liked the Emotion album, but even I knew that it just wasn't working and no matter how hard they tried, Streisand was not going to become an MTV generation synthpop diva. It was time for her to shift gears in her career and she certainly did with The Broadway Album. Everything about it was perfect - the timing, the songs, the arrangements, the production, etc. This song in particular was brilliantly done. I have a love/loathe relationship with David Foster, but he really took this classic tune and transformed it into something magical and ethereal. Of course, Streisand's last note is the kicker. She can hold a note nearly forever and I've always hoped that she actually did hold out this note until she turned blue and that there was no studio trickery involved, but either way, it worked. I nearly wore out the grooves on my copy of the album and I still consider it one of my all-time favorites.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Quad Shot!  1) The album would earn Streisand a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. It was her fifth win in that category. David Foster would win a Grammy for his arrangement of "Somewhere." The album would be nominated for Album of the Year.  2) This song was composed by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim for the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story. In the stage version, this song is actually performed by an off-stage vocalist during a ballet scene. In the original Broadway production, Reri Grist sang the song. She also played the role of Consuelo. In the 1961 Oscar-winning film version, Maria and Tony (played by Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, but voices dubbed by Marni Nixon and Jimmy Bryant) sing the song as a duet.  3) A slew of artists would cover the song but only four would reach the Pop chart with a version: Streisand, singer P.J. Proby (#91, 1965), blue-eyed soul singer Len Barry (#26, 1966), and the cast of the TV show Glee (#75, 2011). Phil Collins did a version in 1996 that made it to #7 on the AC chart and the Pet Shop Boys reached #16 on the Dance chart with their 1997 take, but neither song reached the Pop chart.  4) In 1964, The Supremes recorded an album of show tunes and standards titled There's a Place for Us. One of the tunes they covered was "Somewhere," sung by Diana Ross. Their version featured a spoken word monologue that when done in concert could be changed to reflect on a particular place or event. The album ended up getting shelved even though the trio would perform some of the songs in their concerts, especially "Somewhere." One particularly memorable performance of the song came in 1968 when Diana Ross & the Supremes appeared on the Tonight Show the day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. The spoken word section was altered for the occasion.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

"Secret" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Song#:  2567
Date:  12/14/1985
Debut:  91
Peak:  63
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  After scoring five Top 10's in their UK homeland, OMD finally broke through on the US Pop chart with "So in Love" (#26), the first single from their sixth album Crush. For a follow-up, this track was chosen for the next single. Although it lingered around for a while, it couldn't quite manage to get into the top half of the Pop chart. Still, "So in Love" put them on the map in America and that would help them greatly with their next charting single.

ReduxReview:  This percolating track just doesn't have the same hooky, radio friendly vibe as "So in Love." It's a lovely little track, but I'm not sure I'd pay attention to it if I had heard it on the radio. One of the best parts of the song is the bridge with all of its layered harmonies. OMD is one of those bands that I should have hooked into back in the day as their synthpop sound was right up my alley. Yet I just didn't connect with their songs. Apparently, the Crush album signaled a change in their sound/direction to something more slick and commercial. Critics and fans of the band were not that impressed and preferred the experimental sound of their previous albums. Save for a few songs, I didn't care much for either era of the band.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1988, this song would find its way onto the soundtrack album for the film Arthur 2: On the Rocks. It was the sequel to the highly successful 1981 film Arthur that starred Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, and Sir John Gielgud, who won an Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role. Moore and Minnelli would reprise their roles in the sequel, but the original writer/director Steve Gordon died in 1982 and that work was picked up by others. The late-coming sequel would end up being a box office bomb that would help earn Minnelli a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress (in combo with her other major dud that year, Rent-A-Cop). The original Arthur would be remade in 2001 with Russell Brand, Jennifer Garner, and Helen Mirren. It was also a box office and critical failure.

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"Beat's So Lonely" by Charlie Sexton

Song#:  2566
Date:  12/14/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  17
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  How many 10-year-olds do you know that played guitar in a renown blues band? Most likely none, but Charlie Sexton (aka then as Little Charlie) was one. Given a guitar as a kid by famous blues guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, Sexton took to it quickly and learned from Vaughan and others. Even before he was a teenager he was already playing in bands and gaining the reputation of being a guitar prodigy. At 13, he got invited to tour with Joe Ely when Ely's guitarist broke his hand. People took notice and word spread of the wunderkind. Sexton formed his own band and made a name for himself around Austin, Texas, playing blues music with his own twists. Soon the record labels started coming around, but blues records have a limited audience and were not what major label labels were seeking. Yet Sexton had higher aspirations and it seemed that RCA was willing to try and turn the teen guitarist into a rock star. It certainly helped that Sexton was a handsome lad in a Matt Dillon kind of way. RCA paired him with producer Keith Forsey (Billy Idol, Simple Minds) and the two wrote a few songs and began recording a debut album. Sexton was just 16 at the time. The LP would be titled Pictures for Pleasure and this first single would help introduce Sexton to the masses. The song's MTV video was a hit and it helped propel the new wave/rock track into the Pop Top 10. It also made it to #17 at Rock. With the album getting to #20, Sexton was on his way. Unfortunately, follow-up singles failed to chart and then his self-titled second album in 1989 couldn't attract any attention. Sexton's rock star days were quickly done. However, his career as a guitarist was still in full swing. Sexton would be an in-demand session/tour player for many big time artists and would even work with Bob Dylan for many years. He would record a few more well-received albums over the years both on his own and with bands such as Arc Angel.

ReduxReview:  Whenever I hear this, I still can't get over the fact Sexton was 16 when he recorded it. Both the song and Sexton's Bowie-meets-Bryan Ferry vocals sound like they were by someone at least a decade older. I had heard the hubbub about Sexton being a blues guitar wizard, so when this song came out I was a bit confused. Its new wave rock sound had nary a trace of the blues. I liked the song and just happened to find the album at the local used record store. It took me a while to warm up to the LP, but I ended up liking it very much. I still listen to it once in a while. Critics didn't care for it all that much, but I think they were just miffed/confused about a blues prodigy coming out with a big commercial album. Sexton took a lot of flack for the style of his debut. Many thought he sold out or was pushed into doing this by the label, but at the time Sexton was adamant that this was the album he wanted to make. Whatever folks thought, Sexton got this hit out of it and although not directly in the spotlight, he's had a pretty terrific career since.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Sexton would also take the occasional spin in the producer's chair. In 2001, Sexton co-produced Essence, the highly anticipated sixth album by roots rock star Lucinda Williams. Essence was Williams' follow-up to her Grammy-winning breakthrough Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, an album that Sexton performed on. A track from Essence, "Get Right with God," would earn Williams a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Sexton would also produce Edie Brickell's second solo album, 2003's Volcano.

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