Saturday, March 3, 2018

"The Lady of My Heart" by Jack Wagner

Song#:  2331
Date:  05/25/1985
Debut:  83
Peak:  76
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This General Hospital actor and musician kicked his solo career off with the big #2 Pop/#1 AC hit "All I Need," which was taken from his debut album of the same name. To follow it up, this dance-pop track was selected for release. It couldn't make inroads anywhere and failed to chart. However, this b-side started to get some airplay and it ended up getting to #34 at AC while circling the bottom of the Pop chart for a couple months. The album reached #44 on the chart, but that was mainly on the strength of his first hit.

ReduxReview:  While "All I Need" was an interesting and well-written pop ballad, this one is total dreck by comparison. It had a terrific writing team in Glen Ballard, David Foster, and Jay Graydon, but it has to be counted among the worst songs any of them had written and got recorded. To me it sounds like a second-rate Disney movie musical tune that was, thankfully, left on the cutting room floor. I'm probably making it out worse than it actually sounds, but not by much. It's just not a quality song. I think listeners knew that too.  I mean, this was a love theme played on the one of the most watched daytime serials in history and even that cross promotion didn't help the prospects of this single. That says a lot.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  This song also got some promotion via General Hospital. It would serve as the love theme for characters Frisco Jones (Wagner) and Felicia Cummings (Kristina Malandro). Frisco and Felicia would end up married and in a bit of art-imitating-life, Wagner and Malandro became a couple as well and they finally tied the knot in 1993. The divorced in 2006. Malandro stayed on General Hospital as a regular character until 2005. She returned for a year in 2007. Since 2012 she has had a recurring role on the soap, which continues through to this posting date.


Friday, March 2, 2018

"Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake)" by Freddie Jackson

Song#:  2330
Date:  05/25/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  18
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  While singing in his Harlem church choir, teenager Jackson met up with Paul Laurence and began performing with Laurence's band on the club circuit. After gaining some experience, Jackson joined up with a band called Mystic Merlin (see below). After an album with them, Jackson joined back up with Laurence. Jackson did demo work for Laurence, did some songwriting, and also got work singing backup for stars like Melba Moore. Through all of this work, Jackson got the attention of Capitol Records and inked a solo deal. His debut solo album, Rock Me Tonight, featured this first single that was written and produced by Laurence. The song would be a smash hit at R&B reaching #1 and staying there for 6-weeks. That run would make it the #1 R&B single of 1985. The song would slowly make its way over to the Pop chart and eventually get inside the Top 20. Jackson's star was certainly on the rise.

ReduxReview: Oh, Mr. Jackson! This sleek and sexy crooner was one in a line of smooth R&B vocalists that came along in the 80s. He along with Luther Vandross, Jeffery Osborne, Peabo Bryson, and Gregory Abbott kept listeners swooning throughout the decade. This song was a solid introduction to Jackson and had it come along a couple years later, it probably would have reached the Pop Top 10. Although I don't find it as memorable as his next single, the tune really showcased Jackson's vocals and rightfully made him a star.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Mystic Merlin was an NYC funk and soul band that signed on to Capitol Records right before the 80s began. They issued two album for the label in '80 and '81 that yielded a couple of minor R&B chart entries and one Top 20 hit in the UK. For their third album, 1982's Full Moon, the band brought on board Freddie Jackson to handle lead vocals. Jackson also co-wrote a couple of tunes for the LP. Unfortunately, the LP got nowhere and disappeared quickly. Despite the results, it seemed that Jackson's work with the band didn't go unnoticed by folks at Capitol because two years later he was churning out hits for the label as a solo act.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

"Freak-A-Ristic" by Atlantic Starr

Song#:  2329
Date:  05/25/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  90
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B, Electro-Funk

Pop Bits:  Atlantic Starr's 1983 album Yours Forever was a bit of a stumble for the band after their previous album went gold and spawned their first sizable Pop chart entry with the #38 "Circles" (#2 R&B). Wanting to regain the ground they lost, the band retreated to the studio to created their next LP As the Band Turns. To get things started, this track was selected as the first single. It would be their fourth Top 10 at R&B getting to #6, but prospects at Pop were not good. The single ended up peaking at the same low position that it debuted. With two follow-up singles not getting on the Pop chart and making minor impressions at R&B, it seemed the album was going to suffer the same fate as their previous one. However, it was revived from the brink thanks to a hail Mary fourth single that would net them their first Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  I guess "freaks" were in during the 80s as there were a few charting songs that used the word including Midnight Star's "Freak-A-Zoid." This one seemed like Atlantic Starr was trying to one-freak-up Midnight Star's tune. The results were good, but the song just couldn't approach the funky coolness of "Freak-A-Zoid." However, I think it should have done better at Pop. A month and a half circling the very bottom rungs of the chart was a bit unfortunate.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Original lead singer, Sharon Bryant, decided to leave the band after Yours Forever fizzled. She set out on a solo career, but it would take until 1989 before she could issue a debut album titled Here I Am. It featured a pair of R&B Top 10s. "Let Go" would be her biggest hit reaching #2 (#34 Pop) while a remake of Steve Perry's "Foolish Heart" would get to #8 (#90 Pop). A third single hit the R&B Top 40. After that, her solo recording career halted. As for Atlantic Starr, they hired in Barbara Weathers to replace Bryant. Weathers would be with the band through their most successful period, which included the album As the Band Turns.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

"Raspberry Beret" by Prince and the Revolution

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2328
Date:  05/18/1985
Debut:  37
Peak:  2
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Psychedelic Pop

Pop Bits:  After a six-month tour that supported his mega-hit masterwork Purple Rain, Prince returned to the studio to record a follow-up album. For this outing, Prince decided to change things up a bit and make an album that had a more psychedelic feel to it. Of course those trippy sounds don't necessarily translate into songs with commercial appeal, yet that wasn't a concern for Prince. At this point in his career, he could do about anything he wanted and so he came up with Around the World in a Day. Prince also didn't want a huge promotional push for the LP, so it along with this first single got pushed out with little fanfare. Despite that, it was obvious that radio was gonna jump on anything new from Prince and indeed they did with this song. It debuted right inside the Top 40 and headed directly up the chart. Prince had to settle for a #2 peak, but it was another multi-chart hit reaching #3 R&B, #4 Dance, and #40 Rock. The song would help the LP spend three weeks at #1 in the summer of '85.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song when it came out. I thought it was a really good transition tune coming off of Purple Rain. It was breezy, carefree pop that was almost like a second chapter to "Take Me with U." The album was something totally different. Anyone looking for the hit material Prince had been churning out the past couple of albums was not going to find it on Around the World in a Day, save for this first single. I thought it was rather bold for Prince to push out this experimental LP following the huge success of Purple Rain. Not everyone appreciated it, but I've always like the album and liked the fact that Prince wasn't going to settle for just writing the same types of songs that made him a superstar. He had a lot more to offer and this album certainly showed some new colors in the Princely purple palette.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Although this was the first single in the US, it was not the first released in the UK and some other territories. The track "Paisley Park" was the lead single in the UK. The reception for the song was fairly tepid as it peaked at #18. "Raspberry Beret" was then the second single and it did slightly worse getting to #25. "Paisley Park" would not be issued as a single in the US.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"A View to a Kill" by Duran Duran

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2327
Date:  05/18/1985
Debut:  43
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Around the time that Duran Duran was on a break and members were doing side projects (Power Station, Arcadia), the band got an offer to write and record the theme song to the fourteenth James Bond film, A View to a Kill. The project came about due to a chance encounter between Duran Duran's John Taylor and Bond series producer Cubby Broccoli. Apparently, Taylor brazenly asked Broccoli when was he gonna get a decent Bond theme. Despite Taylor's snide comment, the two talked and before long Duran Duran were in the studio with Bond theme/score composer John Barry recording this title track. The single was released just a few weeks prior to the film's opening and it made a splash on the Pop chart nearly debuting inside the Top 40. It would soon become the band's second and final #1 on the chart. It would also make a brief appearance on the Rock chart at #42. The song would also mark the final recording at the time by the five original members of the band (they would reunite nearly twenty years later for the 2004 LP Astronaut).

ReduxReview:  Well, Taylor had a point. Although there had been a few good Bond themes over the years, nearly all of them were AC-leaning tracks that didn't really reflect the trends in music (the lone exception was McCartney's "Live and Let Die"). In other words, they seemed to appeal to the adult audience of Bond films instead of the younger generation who were beginning to have an influence on these flicks. Duran Duran finally broke that mold by doing something that appealed to the kids and ended up with a #1 hit. I have to say that they did a solid job incorporating that Bond-ish feel into something far more modern and appealing than previous attempts. While I don't think it ranks among Duran Duran's best hits, it was pretty solid and it helped to usher in a new, more modern direction in Bond themes.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song has the distinction of being (as of this posting) the only Bond theme song to reach #1 on the Pop chart. Two other Bond songs got close peaking at #2: Carly Simon's 1977 "Nobody Does It Better" and Paul McCartney & Wings' 1973 "Live and Let Die." Duran Duran's hit would be the last Bond theme to reach the Pop chart until Madonna hit #8 in 2002 with "Die Another Day." The intervening five theme songs by a-ha, Gladys Knight, Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, and Garbage all missed the Pop chart. However, they were all hits on the UK chart. In the UK, the only Bond single thus far to hit #1 was the most recent one - Sam Smith's 2015 "Writing's on the Wall." While it was a hit in the UK, it didn't get anywhere in the US peaking at a lackluster #71. But that poor showing probably didn't matter to Smith who ended up taking home an Oscar for Best Original Song for his theme. Three years earlier, Adele's "Skyfall" theme (#8) became the first Bond theme to win an Oscar for Best Original Song.


Monday, February 26, 2018

"The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" by Cyndi Lauper

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2326
Date:  05/18/1985
Debut:  45
Peak:  10
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  As Lauper was riding high on the charts with songs from her debut LP She's So Unusual, she got a request from film director Steven Spielberg. He was serving as executive producer on a new film that was based off of a story he had written. Spielberg asked Lauper to server as the soundtrack coordinator for the upcoming film The Goonies. She would contribute a couple of songs as well. Lauper took the job and selected songs for the film and recorded this tune, which would be the lead single from the soundtrack album. It debuted close to the Top 40 and then made its way into the Top 10...just barely. It was Lauper's fifth single to reach the Top 10. While it was great to have another hit, it was actually the flip side "What a Thrill," which was the other song she did for the soundtrack, that got Lauper her sixth Grammy nomination. This one was for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  Although many of Lauper's fans love this song, I didn't think it was all that great. While I like some of the 80s production touches (which are suspiciously like the Thompson Twins "Doctor! Doctor!"), for me it just sounds like Lauper tried to hard. There is a lot going on in the arrangement and the marrying of 80s pop/new wave with 50s doo-wop was a bit of a stretch. I think her popularity at the time along with the associated videos (see below) helped get this into the Top 10. It's nearly forgotten now and it seemed Lauper was fine with that (see below). I think this may even be the first time I've heard the song since I bought the single way back when. It's an interesting artifact, but definitely a non-essential song in Lauper's catalog.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was accompanied by a two-part music video. Part one debuted on MTV prior to the movie's opening and then part two debuted after. The elaborate video had a storyline and included appearances by several wrestling stars, Goonies cast members, the Bangles (who had a song on the soundtrack prior to them hitting the big time), Steven Spielberg, and even Lauper's mother.  2) Three other singles were issued from the soundtrack. The Goon Squad's "Eight Arms to Hold You" became a #1 Dance hit, Teena Marie's "14K" got to #87 at R&B, and REO Speedwagon's "Wherever You're Goin' (It's Alright)" was released but didn't chart.  3) The original title Lauper gave this song was "Good Enough." However, folks at the movie studio wanted more of a tie-in with the film and renamed it. Lauper later admitted that she hated the song and after a couple of years she stopped playing it. The track was even left off of her first hits compilation because she didn't like it. However, in later years due to fan demand she has performed it once again in her shows. And thanks to her son being a fan of the animated TV show Bob's Burgers, Lauper re-wrote the song for an episode. The version used in the show was called "Taffy Butt."