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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