Monday, December 31, 2018

"I Can't Wait" by Stevie Nicks

Song#:  2634
Date:  02/22/1986
Debut:  60
Peak:  16
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Nicks' third solo LP, Rock a Little, got off to a great start thanks to her #4 Pop/#1 Rock hit "Talk to Me." It would be the second biggest hit of her solo career. Hoping to break into the Top 10 again, this next single was issued out. The tune would do well at Rock getting to #6, but it fizzled on the Pop chart after getting inside the Top 20. It also made it to #26 at Dance. She needed something a bit stronger performing to boost interest in the album, which had oddly stalled at #12. It would eventually go platinum, but that was half of what her previous LP did and a quarter of what her #1 debut solo album Bella Donna sold.

ReduxReview:  This is where Nicks went full-on 80s. The track had massive production and it was just loud. There are crashing guitars and explosive effects along with a bunch of synth riffs, odd spoken word background vocals, and reverb for days. The bonus was Nicks doing her best caterwauling to try and stay above all the noise. It was just bananas. Back in the day I thought it was awesome, especially when I cranked it up to 11. This certainly wasn't the witchy Fleetwood Mac-style Nicks. She was in full-on synth-rock MTV diva mode. Yet even then I knew this tune was way over the top and I figured it might have a little trouble on the chart. It actually did better than what I thought, but I knew it was not a Top 10'er. I also remember David Letterman making fun of the video for the song (see below), which was pretty bad. These days I still like the song and get a kick out of it. It's kind of fun to revel in how big and bonkers it was.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  When the video for this song came out on MTV, late night talk show host David Letterman took notice and began poking fun at the video, especially a part where Nicks breaks through a styrofoam wall and her dance moves during the song's break section after the guitar solo. For a couple of days he'd have a Stevie Nicks update and show the break part of the video and over the top would put a list fake TV appearance dates like "3/13 Circus of the Stars (spotting for Juice Newton on the rings)" or being a co-host on Sally Jesse Raphael. Nicks' management wasn't thrilled with what Letterman was doing and so Letterman started to make fun of them calling them "weasel management" and other things. It all seemed to stem from Letterman trying to get Nicks on the show to perform the song, which had just been released. Yet even her management was having issues getting Nicks to do promotion as she seemingly "disappeared." Apparently she was off in Australia hanging out with Tom Petty on his tour. For over a week, Letterman did a nightly spot talking about Nicks' management and showing the video clip. At one point, the management company sent over a couple of tour jackets to Letterman. In one of the last Nicks bits, Letterman asks for the video clip to run, but this time instead of Nicks, they had comic Chris Elliott mimicking Nicks and her dance moves. Eventually, Nicks did finally appear on the show.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

"I Think It's Love" by Jermaine Jackson

Song#:  2633
Date:  02/22/1986
Debut:  74
Peak:  16
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  After nine solo albums with Motown, Jermaine Jackson left his long-time home label for Arista. His first effort for them was a self-titled LP that featured a pair of Pop Top 20 hits including "Do What You Do," which topped the AC chart (#13 Pop/#14 R&B). Following a couple of low-charting soundtrack singles, Jackson returned with his second Arista album, Precious Moments. This first single was issued out and once again it was able to crack the Pop Top 20. It did nearly the same at R&B reaching #14 while hitting the Top 10 at AC (#5). The song was co-written by Jackson, producer Michael Omartian, and superstar Stevie Wonder.

ReduxReview:  I really liked this song when it came out. I thought it had everything going for it - jammin' production, great chorus, blasts of horns, a third-act key change, and lovely chords/melodies that were taken from the Stevie Wonder playbook. I was certain it would take the Top 10 by storm. Yet it stopped just inside the Top 20 and I could never figure out why. My only guess was that it leaned a little too far towards the adult side of pop, hence the Top 10 showing at AC. It just may not have appealed to a younger audience. I still think its a great song, but in retrospect it may have been a bit overproduced. I've always wondered what this song might have sounded like if performed by Michael Jackson and produced by him and Quincy Jones. I think they could have done something pretty cool with the tune.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After Jackson moved over to Arista, his talents as a producer were quickly put to use. He would end up producing two songs that would appear on the debut album of soon-to-be superstar Whitney Houston. Neither track would be issued out as a single. Thanks to those collaborations and being label-mates, Jackson was then able to secure Houston for a duet for his own album. The pair would perform the track "If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful." While the song was never issued out as a single, it did garner some radio airplay at a time when Houston was on a streak of #1 hits. It proved to be popular enough for the song to appear on Houston's first compilation LP, 2000's Whitney: The Greatest Hits.

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

"Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder

Song#:  2632
Date:  02/22/1986
Debut:  76
Peak:  24
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Wonder got his 27th and final Pop Top 10 hit with "Go Home," the second single from his album In Square Circle. The album would earn Wonder his 13th Grammy. He would win for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male, which was his 4th win in that category. This third single from the album would be a big winner at AC reaching #1. It was his eighth and last song to hit the top spot on that chart. The tune would also get to #8 at R&B. However, Pop was less receptive of the ballad and it stalled before it could reach the Top 20. However, the three songs did well enough to earn Wonder his first multi-platinum album (2x) since his 10x platinum 1976 classic Songs in the Key of Life.

ReduxReview:  I initially ignored this tune when it first came out, but over the years it has grown on me. I think it may have started to get my attention when an American Idol contestant sang it on the show ages ago. I remember thinking, "wow, that is actually a nice song!" It's one of Wonder's loveliest tunes and I'm glad that I rediscovered it. The chord progressions are really interesting and Wonder wrote a terrific melody over them. I kind of ride the fence about the production. While the environmental sounds keep the tune grounded in its roots (see below), it's a bit schlocky. I kind of like the water drop acting as a sort of metronome, but the birds and such are a little much. However, none of it gets in the way of the actual song. I also like the Wonder doesn't over-do his performance. Overall, it is one of Wonder's best late-career tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Wonder wrote this song for his 1979 album Stevie Wonder's Journey Through "The Secret Life of Plants," which served as the soundtrack for the documentary film "The Secret Life of Plants." He recorded the song, but in the end it was left off of the double LP. For In Square Circle, Wonder revived the song and re-recorded it. It has since become a popular entry in his catalog with many artists covering the tune including Celine Dion, who did a duet version with Wonder for her 2013 album Love Me Back to Life. Wonder's Journey album featured one main hit, "Send One Your Love," which reached #4 Pop, #5 R&B, and #1 AC in 1979.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

"In My Dreams" by Dokken

Song#:  2631
Date:  02/22/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  77
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Hard Rock



Pop Bits:  Although it only peaked at #45, Dokken's third album Tooth and Nail became a platinum seller thanks to three Rock chart hits including the #20 "Alone Again" (#64 Pop). That set them up well for their next effort, Under Lock and Key. The first single from the LP, "The Hunter," was able to get to #25 Rock, but it just wasn't right for Pop radio. This second single fit the bill a tad more and it was able to chart at Pop for a few weeks while getting to #24 Rock. These were not huge hits, but combined with MTV exposure and their reputation as a great live act, Dokken gained more fans and that resulted in a second platinum selling album.

ReduxReview:  Instead of a power ballad, the guys released this mid-tempo, radio-ready track. It's a good song, but it's just not as hooky or memorable as it needs to be to pass muster at pop radio. Luckily for the band they had built a solid fan base that showed up to buy records. They were never really able to get that one big mainstream hit, but with three platinum albums under their belt, I doubt they were complaining.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In the summer of '86, Dokken was on tour opening for Judas Priest. One of their stops was at the Capitol Centre in Landover, Maryland. Two aspiring film makers, Jeff Krulik and John Heyn, decided to film the people and what goes on at the tailgating that happens in the parking lot prior to the show. They turned their footage into the documentary short Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Done on VHS tape, they couldn't really get it shown much anywhere, but bootleg copies of the film started to make the rounds over the years. Later in the 90s, it had become an underground classic and was even touted by other film makers and even bands like Nirvana. With the cult of Parking Lot growing, the makers finally secured the rights to formally issue the film on DVD in 2006. These days you can catch the documentary on YouTube.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

"A Little Bit of Love (Is All It Takes)" by New Edition

Song#:  2630
Date:  02/22/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  38
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  New Edition's third album, All for Love, got started with the #2 R&B hit "Count Me Out." While that was a solid showing at R&B, the song fizzled at Pop getting only halfway up the chart (#51). This was a disappointment considering that their previous LP featured three Pop Top 40 singles including the #4 "Cool It Now." They needed this next single to do better and it did, but not by a lot. The song made it inside the Pop Top 40 before fading away. The track was another winner at R&B reaching #3 and it also got to #16 at Dance. It would help the album reach platinum status, but that was half of what their previous one sold.

ReduxReview:  The guys go for a cooler groove here than on their previous bubblegum single, which was just a rehash of "Cool It Now." The song and production are a bit more mature and it fit them well. They should have been advancing their sound as they were quickly moving from boys to men. The song was a good choice for them and it probably should have been the first single. Had it been, it might have been done better than a Top 40 showing at Pop. While it's not a fantastic song, it did show that the group could handle something better than the candy-coated material they were getting.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Christine Perrin and Richard Wyatt, Jr. Under her maiden name of Yarian, Perrin co-wrote several songs in the 70s and 80s for artists like The Jackson 5, The Miracles, and Tavaras. A couple of these songs she co-wrote with her husband Freddie Perrin. While Freddie Perrin's name may not be as recognizable as writers like the Holland-Dozier-Holland team, Perrin supplied Motown with several major hits, some of which launched The Jackson 5 into stardom. As part of the writing team known as "The Corporation," Perrin co-wrote the Jackson's first three hit songs - "I Want You Back," "ABC," and "The Love You Save." All reached #1 at Pop and R&B. After Perrin left Motown, he scored more hits including "Boogie Fever" by The Sylvers, "Shake Your Groove Thing" and "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb, and most famously, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. That song would earn Perrin a Grammy. The biggest song Freddie and Christine would write together wouldn't become a hit until 16 years after it was first recorded. The Perrin's wrote "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" for the 1975 film Cooley High. It was recorded by singer G.C. Cameron. It was issued out as a single, but only got to #38 at R&B. Later in 1991 when a new vocal group named Boyz II Men were recording their debut album CooleyHighHarmony (yes, named after the film and the actual school), they covered this tune in an a cappella version. They released it as their second single and it hit #1 R&B and #2 Pop.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"What Have You Done for Me Lately?" by Janet Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2629
Date:  02/22/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  4
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  As a teen, Jackson was not necessarily ready for a career in music, but she got pushed into it by her father who had control over her career. After two mediocre solo albums that saw Jackson taking a backseat to everyone else, she had had enough. She fired her father as her manager, stepped away from her family, and took fate into her own hands. She was ready to assert herself as an independent woman and music artist. For her third album, her new manager introduced her to the up-n-coming songwriting/production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The duo had already begun to secure hits for other artists while developing their own brand of music. Jackson liked what Jam and Lewis had to offer, so she packed up and went to their Minneapolis studio to record her next LP, Control. It ended up being the exact right move at the right time and Control not only became a huge success, but it became a watershed moment for both Jackson and women in music. It all began with this first single. It wasn't an out-of-the-box hit, but once it picked up airplay and the video began to get exposure on MTV, it quickly climbed the charts. It got to #1 at R&B, #2 Dance, and became her first Pop Top 10 hit. It also made a #38 showing at AC. The song would get a Grammy nod for Best R&B Song while the album would get one for Album of the Year. Jackson would get a nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance Female for the album. Jam and Lewis would win the Grammy for Producers of the Year. Jackson would quickly become a worldwide superstar and it all started with this single.

ReduxReview:  It's hard to describe what it was like when this song came out and what a big deal it was. For the most part, folks knew Janet as the youngest Jackson who had appeared on the TV shows Good Times and Fame and not many paid attention to the teeny-bopper R&B albums she had recorded. Then this song hit the airwaves and it was like a blast of assertive independence that announced "I'm here!" Within a nanosecond, Jackson grew up and was a woman on a mission. Jam and Lewis were the perfect co-conspirators for Jackson. This was the album that they perfected their signature style and it was on full display with this track. The groove was excellent as was the arrangement and it sounded great on the radio (and also cranked to 11 on the home stereo). It just wasn't the typical pop/R&B fare of the time and it really made an impression. No one would view Jackson in the same way after this...including her father.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  A new, up-n-coming choreographer created the dance segments throughout the video for this song. Paula Abdul, who also made a cameo in the video, got introduced to the Jackson family when she was hired in to do the choreography for The Jackson's "Torture" video and also for their Victory album tour. The success of this song led to Abdul choreographing three more videos for songs from the Control album. By the time that run of singles was finishing up, Abdul had signed on as a recording artist and was getting ready to release her own mega-selling debut album.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

"Le Bel Age" by Pat Benatar

Song#:  2628
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  73
Peak:  54
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Benatar's second single from her album Seven the Hard Way, "Sex As a Weapon," wasn't as big of a hit as she needed. Although it got to #5 at Rock, it stalled just inside the Pop Top 30 at #28 and that did not help to sell LPs. Seven would eventually go gold, but it peaked at a career low #26 for Benatar. This third single didn't help to boost sales either. It stopped at #19 Rock and couldn't even get close to the Pop Top 40. At the time this debuted on the chart, the song's co-writer Robert Tepper was inching up the chart with his own solo hit "No Easy Way Out" from the Rocky IV soundtrack. (Note - the song's title is French for "the beautiful age." All other lyrics are in English.)

ReduxReview:  Benatar's Seven the Hard Way was not an album chock full of radio-ready hits, so it was going to have a tougher time finding an audience than her previous efforts. It was also a bit over produced and over-arranged, which you can hear at the oddball beginning of this song. This track isn't too bad and it does have a fairly good chorus (although its a mystery why the French phrase was used), but it's a bit brash and overdone, especially where reverb is concerned. It's fine for an album track, but it wasn't going to make it as a single. By this point is just seemed that Benatar was floundering a bit and not sure where to take her music or her career.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  For the album, Benatar chose to include a cover tune. She selected  "7-Rooms of Gloom," which was originally recorded by The Four Tops. Their version was a #10 R&B/#14 Pop hit in 1967. At the time, the group was at their peak with their biggest album Reach Out. That LP featured three Pop Top 10 hits, including their #1 hit "Reach Out I'll Be There," and three Pop Top 20's, which included "7-Rooms." It was a big run of single with four of them written by the famous Holland-Dozier-Holland team. The Four Tops would remain popular through the 70s grabbing two more Pop Top 10's and twelve R&B Top 10's. Their last major hit would come in 1981 with "When She Was My Girl" (#1 R&B/#11 Pop).

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Something About You" by Level 42

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2627
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  7
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Synthpop, Sophisti-Pop



Pop Bits:  The roots of this band go back to three teenage friends from the Isle of Wight. They performed in various groups and after a move to London, they would develop a band that would eventually be called Level 42. Initially, their music was all instrumental and a bit experimental incorporating elements of jazz, R&B, pop, and funk. An initial charting single secured them a deal with Polydor and they recorded their self-titled debut LP in 1981, which featured a few vocal tracks alongside their instrumentals. The album was successful getting to #20 in the UK. Their next few albums were also solid sellers and they grabbed their first UK Top 10 hit in 1983 with "The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)." By 1985, Level 42 had refined their tunes to be more mainstream and their instrumentals had all but disappeared. Thanks to the years spent refining their skills, they also garnered a reputation of being an expert live act. While they were beginning to have success in other countries, they were still virtually unknown in the US. That is until this song from their sixth LP, World Machine, started to get them noticed. It had already been a #6 hit in the UK by the time it started to get promoted in the States. The song was a slow starter, but as weeks passed it just kept inching up the Pop chart until it finally landed in the Top 10. It was also a hit at Dance (#4) and AC (#10) while also scratching the Rock chart (#45). The single spent a long time on the chart (27 weeks), which was far above the average for a Top 10 hit. It helped the album become a solid seller that reached #18.

ReduxReview:  I thought this was a classy song that had wide appeal. The production, chord structure, and melodies just seemed to rise above the typical pop singles of the day. It was expertly crafted and even sounded like something "fun" from musicians whose skills were far above what was on display with this track. I loved this song (and still do), yet it didn't lead me to becoming a big fan of the band. I know some folks who have followed Level 42 for decades and even knew about them prior to this hit, yet I didn't jump on board the love train for the band. I should probably go back and explore their catalog a bit more. However, I'm still a big fan of this 80s classic.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The band name stems from the 1979 sci-fi novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. In it, a supercomputer was built to calculate the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. The answer ended up being 42 - hence Level 42. The Hitchhiker's Guide first began as a radio show on BBC 4 in 1978. It then expanded to a series of novels, a TV show (on BBC 2 in 1981), and a stage show. It took a long while but it was adapted into a movie in 2005 starring Sam Rockwell. It received mixed reviews and did mediocre business at the box office. The results stymied any hopes for sequels. The novel and its sequels have sold millions of copies with new fans still coming on board every year.

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

"Stereotomy" by Alan Parsons Project

Song#:  2626
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  82
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Prog Rock



Pop Bits:  After six gold or platinum studio albums in a row, the Alan Parsons Project hit a speed bump with their 1985 LP Vulture Culture. Two singles failed to generate much interested and that caused the album to be their lowest peaking to-date (#46). Next up was their ninth effort, Stereotomy. They got the ball rolling with this title-track single sung by John Miles, which did well at Rock getting to #5. However, the more prog rock track just wasn't what Pop was looking for from the group and it stalled on the chart quickly. It would end up being APP's final single to reach the Pop chart. A track from the album, "Where's the Walrus?," did earn a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Performance. APP would go on to release the LP Gaudi in 1987, which featured the #3 Rock track "Standing on Higher Ground," but then that would be it. The group's two main players, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, would then go their separate ways.

ReduxReview:  After all these years, these guys should know that their bread n' butter for hit singles is anything pop oriented with Eric Woolfson doing the lead vocal. Yet here we are with a prog rock track without Woolfson taking the lead (he does appear in a small bridge section). This just wasn't going to make it at pop at all. I'm glad it found a home at rock radio, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee album sales. However, there wasn't much else on the album that could have done better at Pop. Woolfson doesn't actually sing lead on any song and there are more instrumentals that usual. Overall, I'd have to say that Stereotomy is my least favorite APP album. With a couple of exceptions, the songs just weren't there. They would do much better on their next LP Gaudi, which featured the epic grand track "La Sagrada Familia" sung by John Miles; and it had two Woolfson lead vocal appearances as well. I'm sad no more APP song will be covered here. They are one of my all-time favorite artists.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After the Gaudi album, Woolfson wanted their next effort to be about Sigmund Freud. Woofson and Parsons began to work on the project that would be titled Freudiana. However, disputes arose between the two and the project was sidelined. Woolfson then decided to take the material and turn it into a stage musical. The show had a successful run in Germany and was expected to expand to other countries, but a lawsuit quashed any plans. Woolfson remained in control of the original recordings and in 1990 he issued out the LP Freudiana. Although not necessarily credited to APP, it is basically considered the "lost" APP album. The songs were mainly all co-written by Wooflson and Parsons and Parsons served as producer and engineer. Woolfson continued to do stage works turning Gaudi into a musical, one called Gambler, and another based on Edgar Allan Poe, who was the inspiration for the first APP album, 1976's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Woolfson would die of kidney cancer in 2009.  2) After the split, Parsons set out on a solo career of sorts. He basically continued to use the same formula as APP and wrote, produced, and engineered tracks while getting vocal assists from other artists. He has issued out four albums under his own name (minus the "Project") including 2004's A Valid Path, which earned Parsons a Grammy nod for Best Surround Sound Album.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

"It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)" by Eurythmics

Song#:  2625
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  78
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Synthpop, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  Eurythmics' fourth regular studio album Be Yourself Tonight was their second in a row to go platinum thanks to three Top 30 hits including the #5 "Would I Lie to You?" They tried for a fourth hit with this next single from the LP. They got a hit out of it in their UK homeland where it got to #12, but in the US the song couldn't get anywhere and it stalled in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. Be Yourself Tonight would be the duo's only album to score four charting singles in the US. By contrast, five of their LPs would each get four singles on the UK chart.

ReduxReview:  I thought this Motown-ish song was a great choice for a single. I was hoping it would catch on and at least make the Top 40, but it just couldn't get a break in the US. It had a hooky chorus with verses that had the Eurythmics' brand all over them. The horns are cool and of course Lennox selling it at the end with her ad libs is always a highlight. A terrific song that got overlooked.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song would help Eurythmics' Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart win two Ivor Novello awards in 1987. The Ivors are awarded mainly to British/Irish songwriters and composers. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors (BASCA) run the awards. Ivors have been handed out annually since 1955. This song won for Best Contemporary Song while Lennox and Stewart were given an Ivor for Songwriters of the Year. This was the duo's second Ivor for Songwriters of the Year. They also won in 1984. Lennox would go on to win one herself in 1993 for Best Song for her debut solo single "Why."

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

"All the King's Horses" by The Firm

Song#:  2624
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  61
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The UK supergroup featuring Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page grabbed a gold album with their #17 self-titled debut album. It was pushed along by its #1 Rock/#28 Pop hit "Radioactive." Due to the positive results, the band set out to record a second LP. Their next effort was titled Mean Business and this first single was pushed out ahead of the album. Like "Radioactive," the song was a hit at Rock and it reached #1 on that chart. Unfortunately, the tune didn't connect as well at Pop this time around and it faltered well short of the top half of the chart. A second single, "Live in Peace," could only manage a #21 peak at Rock while missing the Pop chart completely. The album made it to #22, but without better performing singles, sales took a dip and they failed to replicate the results of their debut LP. The mediocre response to their second disc didn't encourage the supergroup to go any further and they split up.

ReduxReview:  I like the near gothic, prog rock opening of the track. It kind of reminds me of something Asia would do. After that, the song just kind of fizzled out. I don't find it very engaging or exciting. It certainly wasn't pop oriented enough to hook a bigger crossover crowd. Rock radio latched on to it back in the day, but the song just isn't all that memorable to me.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After Bad Company's lackluster sixth album, 1982's Rough Diamonds, Paul Rodgers decided he was done and chose to leave the band. With his departure, the band folded as well. (A new iteration of the band without Rodgers would restart in 1986.) Rodgers then decided to do his first solo album. For 1983's Cut Loose, Rodgers wrote, performed, and produced the entire album. The title track would be issued as a single, but it could only manage a #15 showing at Rock. Also on the album was a song titled "Live in Peace." For The Firm's second album, Rodgers revived that song and it was re-recorded by the band. It would be the LP's second single, but it only got to #21 at Rock. Rodgers would not release another solo album for 10 years. That 1993 LP, Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters, would earn a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Your Love" by The Outfield

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2623
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  6
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Power Pop



Pop Bits:  This British trio first began as Sirius B, but after breaking up for a while they regrouped as The Baseball Boys. Their straight-ahead arena rock style made them sound like an American band and that helped them to get signed in the US with Columbia Records. After a name change to The Outfield, their debut album, Play Deep, was recorded and a first single titled "Say It Isn't So" was issued out. It got some good attention at Rock getting to #18. Next up was this second single and it would do better at Rock hitting #7. The song then crossed over to Pop and after a low debut, the song slowly started to make strides. It would eventually reach the Pop Top 10 getting to #6. The hit helped their album get to #9 and over time it would become a triple-platinum seller. However, back home in the UK, their brand of American rock didn't catch on. This song would peak at #83 and the album would fail to chart.

ReduxReview:  This song has had a very long life. In fact, I heard it played twice this past week. Once at a hair salon and then at the gym. Wherever 80s music is being played you can be assured that this track will eventually come over the speakers. While I was never a big fan of the song, I didn't mind it either. They kind of smashed together sounds of various US rock bands into their own power pop and it sounded pretty good. I think it also helped that lead vocalist Tony Lewis had an interesting voice that stood out from the pack. They'd have a few more charting singles, but this one became their evergreen signature song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The band's guitarist and main songwriter, John Spinks, is the one who came up with the band name of The Baseball Boys. Apparently, he had recently seen the 1979 cult hit film The Warriors and one of the gangs in the movie was named the Baseball Furies. Being from the UK, the band didn't know a lot about baseball but figured they better try to gain an appreciation for the sport due to the name. After getting signed to Columbia, a name change was suggested. After many potential names were pitched, the trio decided to keep up the baseball theme and settled on The Outfield.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Saturday Love" by Cherelle with Alexander O'Neal

Song#:  2622
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  26
Weeks:  17
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Cherelle's debut album, Fragile, was her first to employ the services of the writing/production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It resulted in her first hit, the #8 R&B single "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" (#79 Pop). For her second LP, she stayed with Jam and Lewis and came up with High Priority. The album's first single, "You Look Good to Me," was a bit of a letdown only getting to #26 at R&B. However, she rebounded in a big way with this second single. The duet with R&B star Alexander O'Neal caught on and went to #2 at R&B. It then found a crossover audience and was able to get inside the Pop Top 30. It also made it to #13 at Dance. It would end up being Cherelle's biggest hit on the Pop chart. Thanks to the hit, the album would reach #9 R&B/#36 Pop and would eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  While the single version of this song is more concise and gets to the point, the longer album version is kind of fun with its extended bar scene opening. Whatever version you hear, the song is another winner from the Jam/Lewis team. The repetitive days of the week line is a cool hook and both Cherelle and O'Neal put their all into the vocals. It's an excellent track and I'm glad that it got some action at Pop. It nearly makes up for the fact that Cherelle's lovely 1988 #1 R&B hit "Everything I Miss at Home" inexplicably missed the Pop chart (but not quite...)

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was later covered by R&B singer Keke Wyatt for her 2011 album Unbelievable. She sang it as a duet with American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. The song was released as a single and it got to #31 on the Adult R&B Songs chart. Wyatt's biggest hit was the #4 R&B/#27 Pop "Nothing in This World" in 2001. That song featured R&B star Avant. Wyatt would later become a reality TV star being featured in three seasons of TV One's R&B Divas. She would also appear in a season of Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.

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Monday, December 17, 2018

"One Sunny Day/Duelling Bikes from Quicksilver" by Ray Parker, Jr. and Helen Terry

Song#:  2621
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  96
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Parker's third album Sex and the Single Man was a bit of a bust with only one minor charting single, the #21 R&B/#34 Pop "Girls Are More Fun." Afterward, he would end up leaving his home label of Arista for Geffen. Prior to the switch, Parker was asked to sing on a track that was written for the 1986 Kevin Bacon messenger bike flick Quicksilver. He was paired with British singer Helen Terry (famous for her background vocals for Culture Club) and together they recorded "One Sunny Day." It was issued out as a single, but it failed to make an impression and quickly disappeared - much like the movie, which was a box office dud that was panned by critics. Although this song was composed by Bill Wolfer and Dean Pitchford (of Footloose fame), the score for the film was done by Tony Banks from Genesis.

ReduxReview:  Well, they were certainly going for something akin to the tunes from Beverly Hills Cop. Actually, it sounds like a rejected Pointers Sisters track. While the song wasn't all that bad, it wasn't very good either. The straight-ahead pop track was not a good fit for Parker and Terry's talents are totally wasted here. Parker is not a strong vocalist, so Terry probably had to tame her pipes in order to not blow him out of the water. It's a mediocre tune that sounds like something from a dorky 80s movie, so I guess it fit the bill.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Like many films of the 80s, this movie had a soundtrack filled with new songs by popular artists like Roger Daltrey, Peter Frampton, John Parr, and Marilyn Martin. There was also one song by an unknown artist named Larry John McNally. McNally was mainly a songwriter and over the years he would have tunes recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Chaka Khan, the Eagles, and many others. The track he recorded for Quicksilver was one titled "The Motown Song." Since the film and soundtrack were duds, it seemed like that might have been it for McNally's contribution. However, later in 1990 Rod Stewart picked up the tune and recorded it with a little help from The Temptations. It was released as the third single from Stewart's Vagabond Heart and it would turn into a #10 Pop/#3 AC hit.

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

"The Men All Pause" by Klymaxx

Song#:  2620
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  80
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  The all-female band finally scored a major crossover hit with "I Miss You," the third single lifted from their third album Meeting in the Ladies Room. The ballad was a solid success getting to #5 Pop, #3 AC, and #11 R&B. To keep the ball rolling, a follow-up single titled "Lock and Key" was issued out. Unfortunately, it just didn't catch on and it stalled early at R&B (#47) while not even making the Pop chart. However, the label thought there was still enough interest in the band at Pop to warrent another follow-up attempt, so they went ahead and reissued the LP's first single "The Men All Pause," which had already been a #5 hit at R&B earlier in '85 (#9 Dance). The tactic sort of worked. The song did get some action at Pop, but it was only for a couple of months near the bottom of the chart. They would soon have better luck with a fresh new single.

ReduxReview:  I remember back in the day when I saw this song's title I thought it was some kind of play on the word "menopause." I was happy to find out that it was not! It was, however, another solid track from the band. While not quite as good as "Meeting in the Ladies Room," it is still pretty tasty. Their hit "I Miss You" was a lovely ballad, but I think the women really soared when they were rockin' a good groove.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia: The album Meeting in the Ladies Room included a track titled "Just Our Luck." It was a remake of a tune originally recorded by Shalamar in '83. Written by Barry De Vorzon and Joseph Conlon, Shalamar's version was used as the opening credits theme song to the 1983 ABC TV show Just Our Luck. The show, which starred T.K. Carter and Richard Gilliland, was about a TV weatherman who ends up releasing a genie, Shabu, that was imprisoned in a bottle. In return for his release, Shabu offers his services to the guy for life. Basically, it's a spin on I Dream of Jeannie. However, the show became quite controversial. Shabu was a black character who was serving a white guy and terms like "master" and "servant" were used in the show. Also, T.K. Carter's portrayal was seen as offensive and promoting stereotypes. The NAACP prompted a boycott of ABC until something was done. ABC did address the issues in conjunction with the NAACP, but it was too late. The controversy along with poor critical reception and bad ratings (it was up against NBC's new hit show The A-Team) took a toll and the show was cancelled after 11 episodes. T.K. Carter, who always defended the Shabu character and his portrayal, would appear in several TV shows and films including two seasons on Punky Brewster. Richard Gilliland would be appear in many TV shows, but may probably be best known for playing Mary Jo's boyfriend on Designing Women. While working on that show, he met Jean Smart who played Charlene. The two would marry in 1987 and as of this posting are still together.

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

"In Between Days (Without You)" by The Cure

Song#:  2619
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  99
Peak:  99
Weeks:  1
Genre:  Alternative Rock



Pop Bits:  Thanks to the gloomy and atmospheric sounds that they perfected on their first five albums (in particular 1982's Pornography - #8 UK), Britain's The Cure became one of the first bands whose music was described as goth rock. With their big hair, makeup, and dour demeanor, the band became synonymous with the genre. They were having good success at home, but after five albums they had yet to make a real dent in the US market. The band's lead singer and songwriter Robert Smith chose to take a more pop/rock flavored approach for The Cure's next LP, The Head on the Door. The more streamlined (and less dreary) sound was well-received and it resulted in this first single hitting #15 in the UK. In the US, the track generated a lot of buzz on college campuses and it picked up some airplay. It was enough for the single to get on the Pop chart, but only for one short week. It did a bit better at Dance going to #39. The results weren't fantastic, but it was enough to spur interest in the album and it ended up reaching a solid #59 on the chart. While it wasn't a huge breakthrough, it was their first significant success in the States and it set them up well for their next few albums.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs so many people now know that it's nearly incomprehensible it spent only one week on the chart when it was first released. I guess pop radio at the time wasn't ready for jangly alt-rock with sorrowful lyrics. The Cure definitely appealed to the lonely and depressed, but it was going to take a while longer before the mainstream would catch up to them. Luckily, this song came along for the ride and over the years it has turned into one of their most popular tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The band was initially named Easy Cure. It came from the title of a song their drummer had written. Under that moniker, they ended up entering and winning a talent contest that secured them a deal with the record label Hansa. The band began to record demos for a potential album, but the label just wasn't thrilled with the results. Hansa wanted to turn the band into something more pop-oriented and have them do cover tunes. The group told the label no and in the end they took off and none of their recordings for the label were released (a few later showed up on a 2004 reissue version of their 1979 debut album Three Imaginary Boys). In 1978 after a lineup change, Robert Smith shortened the name of the band to The Cure (as he thought Easy Cure was too hippie-ish and didn't fit their sound) and they got signed to Fiction Records, an offshoot of Universal. Their first official album came out the following year and made it to #44 in the UK.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

"Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco

#1 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2618
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  79
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance



Pop Bits:  Austrian musican Johann Hölzel, aka Falco, became part of Vienna's underground music scene at a teenager. He played with different bands for several years until an artist manager spotted him performing with the infamous shock-rock group Dhradiwaberl and offered to secure him a record deal. The results of that was Falco's 1982 debut album Einzelhaft. It became a major hit in Austria and several other countries thanks to the single "Der Kommissar." In the US, the song was ignored at Pop despite getting to #10 at Dance and #22 Rock. (It would become a hit in '83 when the band After the Fire did an English version of the song.) Falco's next LP, Junge Roemer, was only successful in his home country. Wanting to be a much bigger worldwide star, Falco hired new producers and worked with them to co-write his next LP Falco 3. In May of '85, this first single was issued out around Europe. It became enormously popular reaching #1 in many countries. As '86 began, the song started to get picked up in the US. Aided by a memorable MTV video, the single made a beeline for the #1 spot and ended up staying there for three weeks. It would also get to #4 Dance and #6 R&B. The hit boosted sales of the album and it would end up being a gold seller that reached #3. Falco finally had the hit that he wanted. Unfortunately, it would be his only Top 10 hit in the US. Although he would have far less memorable Top 20 follow-up, this song was so iconic that Falco got tagged as a one-hit wonder (#44 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders).

ReduxReview:  There were various versions of the song released. The one I'm most used to is the American Edit (above), which was the one used in the US for the single and for radio airplay. The video used the original "Gold Mix," which appeared on the European version of Falco 3. For the US version of the LP, the Gold Mix was replaced by a much longer 8 minute version called the Salieri Mix. That one includes an English language rundown of Mozart's life by date. Frankly, the dang thing is way too long. This is one tune that benefits from a good edit. Once it is down to the basics, the song is a lot of fun. Is it great? No way. Falco's goofy rap-sung delivery paired with the subject matter, German language, and the quirky video nearly put the song in novelty territory. However, a hooky chorus and solid production held the thing above water. It ended up being a cultural touch point with the tune being parodied and referenced many times including on The Simpsons.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Inspired by the 1984 Oscar winning film Amadeus, this song was written as a tribute to composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The lyrics portray him as a bad boy rock-n-roll type that everyone celebrates despite his debts and other faults like womanizing. In the video, Falco dresses up like Mozart in a rainbow wig and joins up with a motorcycle gang.  2) This was the first German language song to reach #1 on the US Pop chart. In 1983, Nena came close to being the first with the song "99 Luftballons," but it stalled at #2. Falco was also the first Austrian-born artist to reach the top spot in the rock era.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

"Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2617
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After his stint with The Power Station rejuvenated his career, Palmer went back to being a solo act and issued out the album Riptide. The LP's first single, "Discipline of Love," should have benefited from his Power Station association, but it fizzled quickly at a low #82. That easily could have sank the album, but then this second single was quickly issued out. It debuted one spot below where his previous single peaked and slowly began to gain traction. The song started to take over the airwaves and thanks in part to an iconic MTV music video, the single made it to the top of both the Pop and Rock charts. It also got to #36 at Dance. It was Palmer's first major solo hit since 1979's "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)" reached #14 and it would be the biggest of his career. The song would also earn Palmer his first Grammy Award in the Male Rock Vocal Performance category. The single would go gold and it would help the album reach #8. Eventually the LP would sell over two million copies.

ReduxReview:  It still mystifies me why this was the second single. The beat, the buzzy guitar, the keyboard, and the hooky chorus added up to something that just could not miss. Bernard Edwards' production was spot-on as well. This had "hit" written all over it, but what certainly sent it to the top of the chart was the associated video. It wasn't a technical marvel or anything fancy, but it had a simple concept that worked far better than anyone expected. It is still mesmerizing to watch. Although the song easily stands on its own, it is nearly impossible to hear now without thinking about those clone-ish models. Both are classics from the decade.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Palmer, who wrote this song, initially intended for it to be a duet between him and Chaka Khan. Apparently it was recorded as such, but Khan's label would not allow her voice to be used on the song. Palmer had to edit out Khan's vocal and adjust the recording to be a solo effort.  2) The famous video for the song was directed by British fashion photographer Terence Donovan. Featuring a "band" of women who all wore the same clothes, makeup, and hair, the video became iconic from the decade and has been imitated many times over the years in various ways. The "band" would also make appearances in two more Robert Palmer videos, "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" and "Simply Irresistible," both of which hit #2.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

"I Like You" by Phyllis Nelson

Song#:  2616
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  84
Peak:  61
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Dance, R&B, Synthpop, Hi-NRG



Pop Bits:  This Florida native originally started off as a member of a family group. She then branched out and began to provide background vocals for various R&B artists. In the mid-70s, Nelson moved into the disco/dance market with the vocal trio Brown Sugar. Signed to Capitol Records, they issued a couple of singles in 1976 that went nowhere. Nelson then later pursued a solo career and signed with the French label Carrere in 1980. Her first single, "Don't Stop the Train," made it to #20 on the US Dance chart, but follow-up singles failed to do anything. Then after hitting it big in the UK with "Move Closer" (see below), Nelson attempted to get established in the US and pushed out this new single. It became a big success on the US Dance chart getting to #1. However, it just didn't cross over to the other charts as well. Its peaks at Pop (#61) and Dance (#65) were nearly the same. Again, further follow-ups failed to chart. This song remains her only one to reach the Pop and R&B charts in the US. Nelson died of breast cancer in 1998.

ReduxReview:  My one takeaway from this song is that...she likes me. A lot. And she likes everyone else too. A lot. I can hear how this song might have played well in the clubs, but the hi-nrg track just wasn't quite right for the other charts. I think it's just an average song dressed up in charging synths and effects. It's great that it found an audience, but it's nothing that really hooks me. It's actually a shame that "Move Closer" didn't catch on in the US. It's a much better and more interesting song.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although she was known for being a dance music diva, Nelson was also a songwriter. In 1984 she wrote a ballad titled "Move Closer." Although it was nothing like her previous songs, it ended up getting selected for single release. The song failed to make an impression and it disappeared quickly. Yet in early '85, nearly a year after its initial release, the song started to get airplay in the UK. It picked up speed and a couple of months later the single sat atop the UK chart. In doing so, Nelson became the first black female artist to reach #1 with her own composition. Despite the success in the UK and a few other countries, the song still couldn't break through in the US. She then quickly wrote "I Like You," which did get her on the US charts. The song would only reach #81 in the UK. Later in 1994, the song was featured in a British commercial for a deodorant. The ad generated interested in the song and it was reissued. It got to #34 on the UK chart.  2) Nelson's son Marc would go on to have some success in music, but he could have had an even bigger one. Marc Nelson was an original member and co-founder of Boyz II Men. The vocal group was on their way to being signed to a major label, but after delays and other conflicts within the group, Nelson decided to leave and shoot for a solo career. He signed with Capitol and was able to get a couple of minor singles on the R&B chart. With not much happening with his solo work, Nelson then became part of the vocal group Az Yet. The group would issue out a platinum-selling debut album in 1996 that featured the hits "Last Night" (#1 R&B, #9 Pop) and "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" (#20 R&B, #8 Pop). He would leave the group and head back out on his own. In 1999, he had his only major chart success as a solo artist with the #4 R&B hit "15 Minutes" (#27 Pop). He continued to work in music and also got into acting.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"No Frills Love" by Jennifer Holliday

Song#:  2615
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  87
Weeks:  3
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  Holliday's second solo album, Say You Love Me, wasn't attracting the same attention as her debut LP. The first single, "Hard Time for Lovers," stalled early at both R&B (#17) and Pop (#69). This second single couldn't get a foothold either and it topped out a disappointing #29 at R&B while only spending three short weeks on the Pop chart. However, the tune would fill up dance floors across the country and it ended up reaching #1 on the Dance chart. Unfortunately, that didn't translate into sales for the album, which ended up peaking at #34 R&B and #110 Pop.

ReduxReview:  I'm not really sure why this song wasn't released as the first single. It's pure radio-friendly, hooky dance-pop. It may not have been a big Pop hit, but I think it would have done better if it had been pushed out first. With "Hard Time for Lovers" pretty much tanking, interest was lost in the album and no one wanted to pay attention to this song. However, the clubs spun it to great success. It's not a fantastic song, but it was a pretty good one to show that Holliday could do more than the big ballads she had become known for.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song would be Holliday's last to reach the Pop chart. She had a few more R&B entries including the #10 single "I'm on Your Side," which was from the 1991 album of the same name. She would have better luck on the Dance chart where she had five more Top 10's including 2000's #1 "Think It Over." That song was a remake of Cissy Houston's 1978 #32 R&B original version.  2) In 1996, Holliday released a compilation titled The Best of Jennifer Holliday. Included on the collection was a new remix version of "No Frills Love." Once again it turned into a club hit and made it to #1 on the Dance chart.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

"The Power of Love" by Jennifer Rush

Song#:  2614
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  91
Peak:  57
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  New York-born Jennifer Rush (real name Heidi Stern) just couldn't catch a break in her home country. The classically trained musician/singer issued out an indie LP in 1979 under her real name and shopped it around to various labels, but none bit. Her father, who was an opera singer living in Germany, took her demo around to labels there and ended up getting a nibble from CBS. An initial single release in 1983 tanked, but then she was paired with a production team and began writing songs with them. Her first two singles from the sessions didn't fare well, but her next two singles made the German Top 30 and a debut album was issued. Then "The Power of Love" was pushed out late in '84. It became a #9 hit and distribution to other European countries soon followed. By October of '85, the song hit #1 in the UK where it remained for five weeks. Finally, the song made it to the US at the beginning of '86 and it should have been a triumphant return home for Rush, but the song didn't turn into the mega hit it had been in many other countries. It stalled before it could even get into the top half of the Pop chart and failed to catch on at AC. With the single tanking, the album was a non-starter and didn't chart.

ReduxReview:  I still don't understand why everyone went ga-ga for this song. It has always had a snooze factor of about  9.5 for me. The thing just drags on and on. Even the shortened radio version bores me silly. It is just one rolling drone of a tune and no matter who sings it, I'm not going to be a fan. Rush has a nice, big voice but even she sounds a bit lethargic on her own song. Out of the four charting versions, this may be my least favorite. Air Supply probably did the most palatable version. Laura Branigan's take sounds like she's gonna rupture her vocal chords, yet she's engaged and passionate. Then there is Celine Dion screaming her way through the dirge. The thing that saves it for Dion is that the arrangement nearly eliminates the rolling effect and turns it into a more straight ahead pop tune, which does make it better. However, no matter the version, I've suffered enough with the song. Please just make it stop...please...

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This song wasn't just a chart topper in the UK. It became the best selling single of the year there in addition to being the biggest selling single ever by a female artist at the time. With that much attention and sales, it seems nearly assured that the song would be a hit in the US as well. Weirdly, it ended up being a dud even as our neighbors to the north, Canada, took it to #1 there. So why was this a hit around the globe yet a miss in the US? There may be several reasons that all contributed. First, when CBS in the US was approached to release the album, they chose not to citing that it sounded to European for the US pop market. They might have been right. Not everything that works in other countries like the UK will appeal to American ears and audiences may not have been ready for this chugging ballad, which definitely had a European feel. Another reason may be that the song had already been a US AC chart hit. As Rush's version was beginning to break overseas, Air Supply got wind of the song and got it recorded and released in the US in late summer of '85. Their version only got to #68 Pop, but it was a hit at AC getting to #3. With the song already having its chance in the marketplace, another version released soon after was going to have a difficult time. Promotion may have also been at play. Since CBS wasn't hot on Rush's album to begin with, it was doubtful they would do heavy promotion on something they weren't keen on in the first place. Combine all this together and basically Rush got the shaft in her home country. However, as a co-writer of the song she can't be too sad as two more versions of the song would do much better on the US chart. Laura Branigan's 1987 take would get to #26 while Celine Dion would take it to #1 in 1994.

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

"Jimmy Mack" by Sheena Easton

Song#:  2613
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  65
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Easton's Nile Rodgers-produced album Do You didn't get off to a great start. The first single, "Do It for Love," didn't connect with listeners and it stalled just inside the Top 30 (#29). It was highly disappointing since her previous two albums each began with a Top 10 hit. To try and get things back on track, this next single was pushed out. It also failed to grab an audience and died off after a few weeks in the lower half of the chart. It did slightly better at Dance getting to #30. A third single, "Magic of Love," failed to make any chart. Although the album peaked at a mediocre #40, enough fans showed up to make the album go gold.

ReduxReview:  This song has always confounded me. My main question is - why? Easton's previous two albums set her up to be a pop diva vixen and she accomplished that with three Top 10 hits. She had cemented her new image. Then along comes Nile Rodgers and completely changes things up at a time when it wasn't necessary. I think Rodgers was aiming for a more mature urban-flavored pop-dance sound and it didn't work. It was like Easton aged ten years overnight. I mean, one minute she was doing sexy and current pop tunes like "Strut" and then the next she was covering a moldy Motown hit that wasn't going to appeal at all to a younger audience. It was a major mistake at the time and it took Prince's involvement the following year to get Easton back on track. Does that mean the album is bad? Not really. Years later, many fans point to this as one of her best albums. It just wasn't the right album to do at the time. I like several tracks on the LP, but this isn't one of them. I was never a big fan of the original version (see below) and Easton's remake didn't do anything for me either. Why it was done to begin with, let alone pushed out as a single, remains a mystery. Easton went from talking about her "Sugar Walls" to singing one of your grandma's favorite songs in a span of just over a year. Not good.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Martha and the Vandellas. Their version was a #10 Pop/#1 R&B hit in 1967. It ended up being the group's sixth and final Pop Top 10, but it almost wasn't. The song, written by the Holland-Dozier-Holland team, was recorded by Martha and the Vandellas in 1964. In those days, Motown head Berry Gordy would hold his infamous "quality control" meetings where completed songs would be critiqued for release. Apparently, this song didn't pass muster and it got vaulted. Reasons for it not making the cut vary, but it is commonly mentioned that Gordy thought it was too close to sounding like The Supremes, who were basically his pet project since they just hit it big. Flash forward a couple of years and somehow the recording got dusted off and played for Gordy who declared that it was a hit and needed to get issued out right away. The delayed released may have helped the song become a hit. By 1967, the Vietnam War was revving up with thousands of American troops deployed. The song's "when are you coming back" sentiment was timely and may have contributed to its popularity.

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Saturday, December 8, 2018

"Let Me Be the One" by Five Star

Song#:  2612
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  59
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  This British family group started to break through a bit on the US charts with the #16 R&B track "All Fall Down" (#6 Dance, #65 Pop). The song was taken from their debut album Luxury of Life as was this follow-up single. This one did better and it got the group their first R&B Top 10 with the song hitting #2. It would also become their second Dance hit getting to #9. The single crossed over to Pop, but like than their previous release, it stayed in the bottom half of the chart. A third single, "Love Take Over," would be their second R&B Top 10 getting to #9 while making a minor impact at Dance (#30). It failed to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This pretty much stays within the lines drawn by their previous single except it has a little more funk. The groove is fine and the tune is better than "All Fall Down," however, it's nothing that really grabs my attention. While certainly capable singers, their vocals don't make much of an impression either. It's all good, just not great or very memorable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song (not to be confused with the 1987 #7 hit of the same name by Exposé) was covered later in 1999 by pop singer Mandy Moore. It appeared as a track on her debut album So Real. That album featured the #41 single "Candy." The album would be certified platinum and she would follow it up with two more gold albums. Moore began to transition into acting in the 2000's. She appeared in many films and TV shows and has done voices for animated films like 2010's Tangled. These days she is mainly know for her role as Rebecca Pearson in the hit NBC TV show This Is Us. What's odd about this is that her character's last name is the same as that of the siblings that made up Five Star.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

"I Need You" by Maurice White

Song#:  2611
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  95
Weeks:  1
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The Earth, Wind & Fire founder grabbed a #6 R&B (#11 AC, #50 Pop) hit with "Stand By Me," the first single from his debut solo album. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. Although it was not as big of a hit, it did fairly well getting to #20 AC and #30 R&B. The action on those charts let the song crossover to Pop, but only for one very short week. A third single, "Lady Is Love," was pretty much a non-starter only making it to #89 at R&B. The album would be White's only solo effort. After a three-year hiatus, White would revive Earth, Wind & Fire and continue with them up until his death in 2016 from Parkinson's disease.

ReduxReview:  Many artists who found fame as part of a group have recorded solo projects. More often than not, the solo efforts don't necessarily work out. Not everyone can be a Lionel Richie or Sting. Even Mick Jagger's solo work has been less than stellar. Although Earth, Wind & Fire were a superstar outfit, White didn't have the same name recognition as those folks, so it was going to take something pretty great to make people pay attention. His solo debut album had tons of big names involved and he worked with top-notch, of-the-moment writers like Diane Warren and Martin Page. However, it all didn't gel into something that was going to make him a solo star. Perhaps that wasn't his goal, but for me I expected something better than what ended up on his album, which includes this tune. It's just a mediocre song that could have made its way to any AC/R&B crossover artists' album. In other words, there is nothing special about it. White does excellent vocal work and tries to sell the song, but I just find it all a bit bland an unmemorable. White did far better work with other artists and with his own EWF.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  When White began in music, he started out as a drummer playing with various artists on the Chicago club scene. In the 60s, he began doing session work at the famous Chess Records studios. He ended up playing on records by such famous artists as Etta James and Chuck Berry. His drumming can also be heard on several hits including "Rescue Me" by Fontella Bass (1965, #1 R&B/#4 Pop) and "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" by Jackie Wilson (1967, #1 R&B/#6 Pop). Of course White would put his drumming to good use after he founded Earth, Wind & Fire, but he later became more known for vocal, songwriting, and production work.

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" by Scritti Politti

Song#:  2610
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  91
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  This band broke through on the US chart with "Perfect Way," a single from their second full-length album Cupid & Psyche 85. The tune peaked at #11 Pop while making it to #6 at Dance. This follow-up single was one that had already made the rounds. The song was first released in the UK in early 1984. It reached #10 there. Later in the year it was pushed out in the US as the first single from the album and it did well at Dance hitting #4 in combination with another track titled "Absolute." However, the tune didn't crossover and it failed to make the Pop chart. With the success of "Perfect Way" putting the band in the spotlight in the US, it seemed logical to go back and reintroduce "Wood Beez" to the new audience. Nearly two years after it's original release in the UK, the song finally got on the US Pop chart. Unfortunately, the ploy didn't work all that well and the song only managed a brief stint at the bottom of the chart.

ReduxReview:  I like this song, but I want to like it more than I do. The title is cool and attention getting while the production is top-notch. Even Green Gartside's high pitched vocals were ear catching. So what's holding me back from loving this track? I think maybe I was looking for something with a stronger hook. The song doesn't stay with me all that long. I can hear it a few times and then after time passes I've forgotten the tune. I find the whole album to be like that. I enjoy it while I'm listening to it, but then the songs just kind of disappear out of my head. Really, the best part of it all is Arif Mardin's production. I think it all sounds better than it actually is. Still, both this single and the album are fun listens.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song in which the singer states there's nothing he wouldn't do to be with the person he is infatuated with also served as a bit of an Aretha Franklin tribute. The subtitle is a reference to Franklin's 1968 remake of "I Say a Little Prayer." That single reached #10 Pop/#3 R&B in the US while in the UK it got to #4 and was Franklin's biggest charting hit there. In a bit of a twist, Arif Mardin, who arranged Franklin's hit, was the producer of Scritti Politti's track. The longer remix of "Wood Beez" labeled as "(Version)" actually featured Franklin's voice. Samples of Franklin's vocals from her 1971 #9 Pop/#2 R&B hit "Rock Steady" (that was co-produced by Mardin) were plugged into the latest hot music tech equipment at the time, the Fairlight. In the mix, sections of the song are punctuated with blasts of Franklin's voice via the Fairlight.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60's Rock)" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2609
Date:  02/01/1986
Debut:  54
Peak:  2
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  By this time, Mellemcamp's Scarecrow album had generated two #6 hits with "Lonely Ol' Night" and "Small Town." Looking for a third single to join them, this album closing track was selected. It would end up surpassing the previous two songs to reach #2 on the Pop chart and become the third biggest single of his career. It would also get to #6 at Rock and #36 AC. The hit would help sell more albums and eventually Scarecrow would be certified 5x platinum, which tied it with 1982's American Fool as his best selling album.

ReduxReview:  This short blast of rock was exactly that - a blast. The energy from Mellencamp and band practically jumped off the vinyl. Mellencamp had his band learn a bunch of old hits prior to recording the album and that learning lesson paid off the best on this track. In less than three minutes there was history, admiration, respect and lessons all projected in Mellencamp's lyrics and a hot band. Whether you appreciated what Mellencamp was saying or just tuned in for fun (or both), there was just no denying that this was a cool-as-shit song and one of his best crowd-pleasing singles.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  As the subtitle of the song states, Mellencamp wrote this as a tribute to the sounds and artists from the 60s that influenced him. It also is about how these bold artists took risks in their lives and careers to push the boundaries of music. In the song, eight specific artists that inspired Mellencamp were called out including James Brown, Mitch Ryder, and Martha Reeves. One other artist mentioned was Bobby Fuller. Fuller had at #9 hit in 1966 with "I Fought the Law" (credited to the Bobby Fuller Four), a song that certainly inspired Mellencamp to write his "Authority Song" (#15, 1984). Fuller and his band were popular in Texas in the early 60s, but it took a few years to prove themselves worthy of a major label deal. After gaining some attention with the song "Let Her Dance," they issued out "I Fought the Law." It made the Top 10 in March of '66. However, the band's career would come to a halt a few months later in July when Fuller was found dead in his mother's car that was parked outside of his Hollywood apartment. He was only 23. His death was ruled as an accidental suicide from asphyxiation from gas fumes, but there has always been speculation that he was murdered. Some people say that Charles Manson was involved with Fuller's death while others think it was hit related to a record deal that Fuller had backed out of and the other party in the deal had Mafia ties. The case has been the subject of a book and was even featured on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

"Goodbye Is Forever" by Arcadia

Song#:  2608
Date:  02/01/1986
Debut:  64
Peak:  33
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave



Pop Bits:  The Duran Duran offshoot band led by Simon Le Bon was able to score a #6 hit with "Election Day," the first single from their one and only album So Red the Rose. To follow it up, this next track was selected for single release. It was unable to replicate the success of the first hit and ended up stalled just shy of the Pop Top 30. It would be the band's final single to hit the chart. The band never toured and besides supplying the song "Say the Word" to the soundtrack of the 1986 comedy film Playing for Keeps, they didn't do any further recordings. After their side project was over, Le Bon and Nick Rhodes went back to their Duran Duran day job while drummer Roger Taylor would step away from Duran Duran and basically retire. He'd officially rejoin the band in 2001.

ReduxReview:  Arcadia was basically an experiment from three Duran Duran members just wanting to do something different, therefore the album was not going to be chock full of marketable singles and it certainly showed. "Election Day" was really the only radio-ready track on the album. There were a couple of interesting tracks on the LP, but nothing that was going to top the charts including this mid-tempo tune. It feels too slow, is a bit clunky and it casts a dour shadow. Those descriptors are ones you don't want to have when trying for a Pop hit.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The cover for So Red the Rose was created by fashion illustrator and photographer Tony Viramontes. For the cover, Viramontes drew an image of performer/model Violeta Sanchez. He also did portraits of the Arcadia band members for the inside album sleeve. Viramontes would design several album covers including ones for Janet Jackson (Control) and The Motels (Shock). His works were seen in various magazines and newspapers including Vogue. Unfortunately, Viramontes passed away at the age of 31 in 1988. His death was AIDS-related.

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Monday, December 3, 2018

"Needles and Pins" by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks

Song#:  2607
Date:  02/01/1986
Debut:  75
Peak:  37
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Petty and his band were certainly known for being a solid performers, so after six studio albums, it seemed like the right time to showcase their concert skills via their first live album Pack Up the Plantation: Live! The double LP mainly featured songs from a show they did at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles in the summer of '85 with a few tracks of older performances tossed in. One of those tracks was this tune which was recorded at The Forum in L.A. in 1981. During that show, Stevie Nicks made a guest appearance and sang on a couple of songs including this one. The recording was selected to be released as a single in order to help promote the album. It did okay getting to #17 at Rock and just making it into the Pop Top 40. The album would made it to #22, but would fall short of being certified gold. The band wouldn't release another live album until 2009.

ReduxReview:  This jangly tune is an excellent one from the 60s (see below). Although it never made the Top 10, it was quite popular and has been covered a lot over the years. I always remember it because in most versions everyone sing it as "needles and pin-za," which is kind of funny, yet makes it very memorable. This was a good choice for Petty and the addition of Nicks is always a bonus. However, the performance is just kind of average. Like most live recordings (which I'm not the biggest fan of), it was probably better in-person. I do like that they pushed out a cover song instead of relying on a live version of a previous hit. That was a smart move as it played like something brand new from the band instead of a retread. I just wish the performance was a bit more lively.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song that was written by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono (of Sonny & Cher) and first recorded by singer Jackie DeShannon. Her original take on the tune would be a very minor Pop chart entry that got to #84 in 1963. The song then got picked up by the British band The Searchers, who happened to have heard it performed by another artist in a club in Hamburg, Germany. The Searchers had already scored two major hits in the UK including the #1 "Sweet for My Sweet" (1963) and wanted "Needles and Pins" for their next single. They got it recorded and the song was another winner in the UK for them hitting #1. It would end up being their first major hit in the US reaching #13. The next time the song was on the chart was in 1977 when the English rock band Smokie covered the tune. It would get to #10 in the UK while only getting to #68 in the US. Petty's version would be the fourth and thus far final version of the song to hit the US Pop chart.

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Sunday, December 2, 2018

"I'm Not the One" by The Cars

Song#:  2606
Date:  02/01/1986
Debut:  80
Peak:  32
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The Cars' Greatest Hits LP featured a lot of their charting songs along with a few that didn't including the new track "Tonight She Comes," which served at the first single. The tune did well reaching #7. For a follow-up this track that originally appeared on their 1981 album Shake It Up was selected. It was not originally issued as a single when that album was released. When looking for another track to possibly push out as a single from the Hits package, this track was chosen. It was spruced up with a new remix and issued out. It was able to get into the Pop Top 40, but that was all it could do. It did slightly better at AC (#24) and Rock (#29).

ReduxReview:  This was a good album track when it was first released on Shake It Up. As a single five years later, it's not all that great. The mid-tempo tune was just too weak to really make an impression at Pop. The remix really didn't add all that much, so it kind of sounded stuck in the early 80s. I think they should have rallied and recorded a second new tune for the LP if they wanted to have two singles. Rehashing something that's been out for years just seemed a bit lazy.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Cars' keyboarist Greg Hawkes later became very proficient on another instrument - the ukulele. He began to apply his skills to popular songs including ones from The Cars catalog. This led to him recording an instrumental album in 2008 titled The Beatles Uke. For the LP, Hawkes performed fifteen Beatles hits on the ukulele. To get a fuller sound, Hawkes layered tracks of himself playing various parts. It made the songs sound like they were done by a ukulele band. Hawkes would do a second ukulele album in 2015. The holiday themed album was titled Jingle Ukes.

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

"Tender Love" by Force M.D.'s

Song#:  2605
Date:  02/01/1986
Debut:  84
Peak:  10
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  This Staten Island vocal group got their start singing on street corners in NYC. Their doo-wop style mixed with a bit of hip-hop was something new and different that ended up catching the attention of Tommy Boy Records. They signed with the label and the same year issued out a debut album titled Love Letters. The LP's second single, "Tears," found its way to #5 on the R&B chart. The hit set them up well for their next album Chillin'. The first single from the album would be this ballad that was also featured on the soundtrack to the film Krush Groove. As the song was on its way to a #4 peak at R&B, it began to crossover to Pop where it became the group's only major hit reaching the Top 10. It did even better at AC making it to #2.

ReduxReview:  Right off the bat, this song had a unique sound that stood out. It would end up being a signature style that served as the basis for further Jam and Lewis hits to come such as Human League's "Human." It was so distinct that whenever I heard anything remotely similar, I figured it was a Jam/Lewis tune. This song is just beautiful and perfectly produced with that simple, yet lovely piano riff. The vocal work is excellent as well. This was unlike anything the group had recorded and it made a huge impression. I think because of that they had a difficult time maintaining their crossover success. They should have done more with Jam and Lewis, but by the time they were ready to do their third album, the pair were already deep in demand with other artists. Still, this is certainly a classic of the era and it was fortunate that this song came their way.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song was written and produced by the team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The pair already had some success on the R&B chart but they had yet to secure a big crossover hit. This track would be their first to reach the Pop Top 10. It would start a remarkable run of hits for the team that would continue in '86 via their work with Janet Jackson. Over the years, the pair would amass 41 Pop Top 10 hits. Sixteen of them would reach #1 making them the most successful songwriting and production team in chart history.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

"Calling America" by Electric Light Orchestra

Song#:  2604
Date:  02/01/1986
Debut:  91
Peak:  18
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  By this point in time, ELO was basically done. Their popularity had been on the wane since the 80s started and various members were leaving for other projects. Yet before they could officially call it quits, they were contractually obligated to deliver one more album. So leader Jeff Lynne and two remaining member of the band went back to the studio to record Balance of Power. This track would be selected to be the first single and it did well enough to get inside the Pop Top 20. It had similar results at AC (#20) and Rock (#22). It would end up being the band's final song to reach the Pop chart. The band went their own ways after some final performances. Lynne would revive the band in 2000 and the following year put out the album Zoom. Another disc would follow in 2015 titled Alone in the Universe (credited to Jeff Lynne's ELO). Lynne would also issue solo albums in 1990 and 2012. He also became a successful producer working with artists like Tom Petty, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Brian Wilson, and Paul McCartney.

ReduxReview:  I like this chuggin' tune, but I was surprised that it made the Top 20. It just didn't seem in-step with what was going on at pop radio at the time. I'm glad it did well (because I love ELO), but it is certainly not one of their most memorable hits. Really, the album was kind of a lame duck thing. It was a "have to" effort, which is never going to produce great results. It was a lackluster collection with only a few bright spots. I was certainly sad that this ended ELO's run of hits, but it was probably time. Especially with Lynne focusing his energy elsewhere.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was ELO's twentieth Pop Top 40 hit. At the time, they set a bit of an unfortunate chart record. They became the band with the most Top 40 entries who never had a #1 hit. Out of their seven Top 10's, the closest they got to the top spot was 1979's #4 gold record "Don't Bring Me Down."  2) Lynne would be back on the charts in 1988 as part of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. Consisting of Lynne, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Bob Dylan, the band's first LP was a #3 triple-platinum hit that featured the #2 Rock track "Handle Me with Care." They would have a platinum follow-up in 1990.

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

"I'd Do It All Again" by Sam Harris

Song#:  2603
Date:  02/01/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  52
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  The original Star Search vocalist winner Sam Harris grabbed a Top 40 entry with "Sugar Don't Bite," a single from his self-titled debut album. The song and the publicity boost from Star Search helped the album go gold. Harris then had the task of trying to follow it up and seeing he could maintain a career a bit longer than the 15-minutes the show afforded him. His next LP, Sam-I-Am, found Harris taking a bit more control and sitting in the producer's chair on a few tracks including this first single. Unfortunately, the song didn't have the strength to carry Harris after the Star Search shine wore off and it stopped nearly halfway up the chart. It did a little better at Dance getting to #31. It would be Harris' last single to reach the Pop chart. Afterward, Harris retreated from the music industry and turned to one of his first loves, musical theater. He would return to recording music in 1994 with a standards album and would issue out a few more LPs over the years.

ReduxReviewAmerican Idol, The Voice, and other shows like that all have their roots in Star Search. Harris was a first season winner and basically the poster child of the show. Yet even after winning, I don't think anyone was sure what was going to happen or even if anything would. It was uncharted territory. So getting a couple of minor hits wasn't too bad of a result. But I think what happened to Harris is something that still happens with contestants and winners on shows even today. Harris was a great vocalist and folks loved to hear him sing, but on the show he was never able to establish a musical direction. So when he signed with Motown, they had to try and figure it out and they basically threw various styles at him to see what would stick. He needed an out-of-the-gate smash hit to get him established and it didn't happen. When it came time for the second album, Harris had a bit more control and the album was actually better than his first, but it was like he was starting over and the folks who loved him from the show just didn't follow along. They were busy watching new winners on Star Search. It's actually too bad because Harris was an awesome singer and had the ability to write good tunes. He had a lot more to offer than the tepid pop of this single, which he did not write.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Harris would have a successful stage career performing in various musicals. He appeared in the 1994 Broadway revival of Grease, which earned him a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical. That was following up by a role in the 1997 musical The Life. Harris grabbed another Drama Desk nomination along with a Tony nomination for Featured Actor in a Musical. He would also write and perform in several of his own shows including Ham: A Musical Memoir, which won three Ovation awards (for Los Angeles/SoCal theater) in 2016 including Lead Actor in a Musical for Harris and Best Musical Production.  2) Lauren Wood co-produced and sang background vocals on this song. Wood had a hit of her own back in 1979. The lead single from her self-titled debut album, "Please Don't Leave," made it to #5 AC and #24 Pop. Michael McDonald helped out providing the harmony vocals. Her follow-up album in 1981 failed to generate interest and that ended her major label days. She turned to writing and production after that. However, she did record a song called "Fallen" that ended up on the successful soundtrack to the 1990 hit film Pretty Woman.

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