Friday, October 5, 2018

"Chain Reaction" by Diana Ross

Song#:  2548
Date:  11/30/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  95
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  Ross' album she did in association with Barry Gibb and his brothers, Eaten Alive, got off to a rocky start when the lead title track single (that featured Michael Jackson) conked out at a minor #77 on the Pop chart. It did better at Dance (#3) and R&B (#10), but the lack of crossover support was surprising. To try and get back on course, this second single was pushed out. Unfortunately, it did worse barely making both the Pop and R&B (#85) charts. After a successful return to gold-level sales with 1984's Swept Away, many expected this Gibb-led project to do even better, yet it failed to turn gold. While the news was not good in the US, things turned out quite different in the UK and other European countries (see below).

ReduxReview:  This is really the Gibb brothers meets Motown. I can absolutely hear the Supremes doing the chorus while the rest of the song has trademark Gibb touches. According to Barry Gibb, this was the last track recorded for the album. The brothers had written this song with Ross in mind early in the project, but never played it for her because they thought she wouldn't want to revisit the Motown sound. Later on after the project seemed done, Ross decided she wanted one more track for the album. They played her this song and convinced her to record the Supremes-like tune. In the long run, it ended up being a good thing (see below). At the time this came out, I didn't much care for it. I didn't like it's updated retro feel and wasn't fond of some of the racier lyrics, which sounded odd coming from Ross ("you make me tremble when your hand goes lower" - that would never be in a real Motown hit!). These days, I appreciate the song more and like what the Gibb bros. were trying to do. It got completely ignored in the US perhaps due to lack of promotion or stations passing it up due to the failure of "Eaten Alive." Or maybe other listeners felt the way I did at the time. Whatever happened, I'm glad that it struck gold for her in other countries.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) In the UK, "Eaten Alive" was also a chart dud getting to #71. However, this Motown-inspired track along with its associated video started to catch on when it was released. The song gained in popularity until it finally reached the top of the UK chart where it stayed for three weeks. It also got to #1 in Ireland and in Australia where it became the #1 single of 1986. Later in 1993, the song was released in a new remix to celebrate Ross' 30th anniversary in music. It would reach #20 on the UK chart.  2) This was Ross' second solo single to hit #1 in the UK. Her other one came in 1971 when "I'm Still Waiting" made it to the top. However, just like "Chain Reaction," the song failed to do anything in the US and sputtered out at #63 Pop/#40 R&B.  3) This song would get covered by many artists, especially those from the UK, but only one other artist would record a hit version. The UK dance-pop group Steps released their take on the song in 2001. It was a new track included on their Gold: Greatest Hits compilation. It nearly made the top of the chart, but had to settle for peaking at #2. The group was never able to break though to the US market, so the song did not chart.


No comments:

Post a Comment