Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Real Love" by Dolly Parton with Kenny Rogers

Song#:  2352
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  91
Peak:  91
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Parton's last studio album, 1984's The Great Pretender, was directly aimed at a pop audience and the results were not very good. The album failed to produce a significant hit with only a remake of "Save the Last Dance for Me" doing much of anything (#3 Country/#45 Pop). For her next LP, Real Love, Parton distanced herself from the synthpop sheen of Pretender and went for a more general pop/country crossover sound. The album's first single, "Don't Call It Love," got her into the Top 10 at Country (#3) and #12 at AC, but it failed to make the Pop chart. This next single, Parton and Rogers' first non-holiday pairing since their 1983 mega hit "Islands in the Stream," made it to the top of the Country chart and #13 AC. Once again, it was virtually ignored at Pop and was only able to register three short weeks at the bottom of the chart. It would end up being Parton's last single to reach the Pop chart in the 80s. The album would contain one more Country #1 ("Think About Love"), but the lack of Pop hits and gold albums didn't sit quite well with Parton's label, RCA, who after an eighteen year relationship decided to not renew her contract. She would sign on with Columbia, go back to her country roots, and eventually record one gold and two platinum albums for them.

ReduxReview:  Well, this certainly isn't "Islands in the Stream," but then this didn't have the Bee Gees pedigree behind it. While it did involve quality folks in the writing and producing, I just found the song dull. Where sparks flew between Parton and Rogers on "Island," there is barely even a puff of smoke here. It was bland 80s pop that wasn't going to set the chart afire. I remember buying this album before hearing any of it and I was really disappointed. I lost interest in Parton's music for a long while. She did get her mojo back with 1989's White Limozeen, but I jumped back on board her bandwagon a decade later when she released a brilliant trio of bluegrass/roots albums that began with 1999's The Grass Is Blue.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The LP's first single, "Don't Call It Love," was a cover of a song originally recorded by Kim Carnes. Written by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford, it was included on Carnes' 1981 #1 album Mistaken Identity, however it was not released as a single. The following year, both Dusty Springfield and the Captain & Tennille did versions of the song. Neither artist pushed the song out as a single. Parton later picked up the tune and turned it into a Country hit.


Friday, March 23, 2018

"Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2351
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  48
Peak:  5
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. was a massive hit that had already generated four Top 10 singles. With the album still selling and interest in Springsteen not yet waning, this fifth single was released. It would be another hit at Rock getting to #3 and thanks to a popular MTV video, the song made it to the Top 5 at Pop. It would be the fifth single from the album to get into the Pop Top 10. In doing so it made Springsteen only the third artist to to get five Top 10's from one album. He would be the first rock artist to do so since the first two to accomplish that feat were R&B/Pop artists - Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.

ReduxReview:  The nostalgia factor is cranked up on this tune and the lively point-n-wink rock music fits it perfectly. At the time this wasn't one of my favorite tracks on the album, but now in later years <insert sad trombone sound> I've come to relate to the lyrics quite a bit more and I think it's a fun track. I'm full of boring stories of my former glory days - well, more like days. I don't think there was much glory in them.


Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The b-side to this single, "Stand on It," was not included on the album. The track got some airplay at Rock and ended up on the chart at #32. It would also end up on the soundtrack album to the 1986 comedy film Ruthless People.  2) Country artist Mel McDainel covered this song in 1986 and issued it as a single. It would get to #12 on the Country chart.  3) Springsteen originally wrote a fourth verse for the song. It was about the protagonist's father who had worked for decades on the Ford assembly line. Springsteen ultimately removed the verse as he felt it didn't really fit with the other verses.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Posession Obsession" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

Song#:  2350
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  66
Peak:  30
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul, Pop

Pop Bits:  Hall & Oates' previous two albums generated three Top 10 singles each. Their next album, Big Bam Boom, had two in the bucket but fell short of a third when "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" peaked at #18. Hoping to perhaps grab that third Top 10, this fourth single from the album was released. Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be as this song toppled over after reaching the Top 30 mark. However, it had more luck at AC getting to #8 while going to #20 Dance and #69 R&B. Despite the lack of a third Top 10, the album would be their third double-platinum seller in a row.

ReduxReview:  This album closer is one of the better tracks on a weak album. That being said, it wasn't one that was gonna burn up the Pop chart. It was more appropriate for AC, where it did do well. It's a sleek, laid-back blue-eyed soul track that goes down easy and was more digestible than some of the more densely produced fare on the album. It was a solid album track, but a forgettable single.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although Daryl Hall's voice is the one that leads most all of the duo's hits, John Oates also did his share of lead vocal duties along the way. He typically sang lead on anywhere from two to four tracks on their albums. His voice seemed less familiar as very few of the songs he led were issued as singles. Out of the ones that were, only this one and 1980's "How Does It Feel to Be Back" were able to reach the Pop Top 40. Oddly, both of them peaked at #30. Hall & Oates shared lead vocal duties on two of their major hits - 1973's "She's Gone" and 1980's "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'."


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"What About Love" by Heart

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2349
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  73
Peak:  10
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After a string of multi-platinum albums in the 70s, the future didn't look all that bright for Heart as the 80s began. Although a combo hits/live disc produced their second Pop Top 10 with "Tell It Like It Is," their next two studio albums did poorly in comparison with the rest of their catalog and couldn't even reach gold-level sales. The band and their label, Epic, were at odds as well which didn't help matters. They knew they had to make changes if they were going to be relevant again, so Heart jumped ship and went over to Capitol Records in order to flesh out a new path. Their resulting self-titled first album for the label was a significant change for the band. Taking the place of their typical hard rock sound with folk edges were mainstream AOR tracks with several of them written by outside writers. Their look also got glammed up and made them ready for MTV. When this big ballad first single came out, the song and the video certainly turned heads. This wasn't the Heart of the 70s. Some older fans balked, but a younger generation latched on to the tune and it wasn't long before the single became their third to hit the Pop Top 10 while getting to #3 Rock. It was a major comeback for the band and showed that they were ready to take on the 80s.

ReduxReview:  I had been up-n-down with Heart for a while when this song came out. While I loved some of their 70s hits, their 80s material was just lacking and like many folks I had pretty much written off the band. Then this tune hit the airwaves. It was a big blast of mainstream rock that revived the band from their near-death status. Yeah, it wasn't the Heart of old and it was a total stab at MTV/pop radio commercialism, but it fit the band quite well. It was a reinvention that completely worked. I jumped right back on the Heart train and enjoyed the ride. Although I'd step back off in a few years, I would later revisit their catalog and became a huge fan. Although I love their early albums like Little Queen and Dog and Butterfly, their 2010 LP Red Velvet Car became a big favorite of mine.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Technically, this is not a remake, but the song was originally recorded by the Canadian band Toronto. Written by band members Brian Allen and Sheron Alton with Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams' writing partner), the song was recorded during sessions for their third album, 1982's Get It on Credit. When it came time to select the tracks that would appear on the LP, this one was left in the dust, much to the dismay of Allen and Alton. However, the album did include the band's biggest hit, the Canadian #5 "Your Daddy Don't Know," which would end up being their lone entry on the US Pop chart getting to #77. Allen and Alton would leave the band later in '84. They still believed in this song and got a publishing company to hawk the song. It ended up in Heart's lap and they scored a comeback hit. Toronto's original version would later see the light of day as a bonus track on reissues of their albums.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"Who's Holding Donna Now" by DeBarge

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2348
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  75
Peak:  6
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  After two gold albums that produced three Top 10 R&B hits including the #1 "Time Will Reveal," the family group finally made the Pop Top 10 with the #3 "Rhythm of the Night." It was taken from their fourth album of the same name as was this follow-up single. The song would become their second biggest overall hit reaching #6 Pop, #1 AC, and #2 R&B. The double hits would help the album reach #19 Pop/#3 R&B and become their third gold seller.

ReduxReview:  After a terrific detour into something more upbeat with "Rhythm of the Night," the group gets back to the smooth ballad style that first made them famous. This is a lovely little tune with a good chorus and a solid vocal from El DeBarge. The song was co-written by David Foster and Jay Graydon along with Randy Goodrum. It's funny - just a few posts ago I was bitching about a song that Foster and Graydon (with Glen Ballard) wrote for Jack Wagner called "The Lady of My Heart" and how three very talented folks could write and record such a dud. Well, Foster and Graydon redeemed themselves with this track. It just goes to show you that even the best songwriters can have dogs in their closet.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  DeBarge's previous two albums were mainly family affairs with various siblings writing the songs and El DeBarge producing most of the material. However, when sessions for Rhythm of the Night started, the family element wasn't quite there. Outside producers would be brought in and out of the nine songs on the album, only three were written by members of the family. At first, the reason cited for this change was because the group was busy on tour with Luther Vandross. However, it was later revealed that drugs were really the issue behind the lack of involvement. Nearly every member of the group was having addiction issues at the time and that affected participation in the sessions. Only El would escape the drugs at the time and Motown relied on him to get the album done, which he did. Unfortunately, later in the 90s El would face his own addiction demons after being prescribed prescription pain meds. Eventually he would get hooked on cocaine and end up in prison for thirteen months. He was released in 2009 and the following year released the solo album Second Chance, which received two Grammy nominations.


Monday, March 19, 2018

"19" by Paul Hardcastle

One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2347
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  78
Peak:  15
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Synthpop, Electronic

Pop Bits:  This British electronic music wiz garnered some attention in the US with the unexpected #2 Dance/#5 R&B/#57 Pop single "Rain Forest." By the time a quick album of the same name was assembled for the US market, Hardcastle was already signed to Chrysalis Records and ready to issue a new self-titled album. This Vietnam-themed track was selected as the first single. It was an immediate #1 hit in many countries including Hardcastle's UK home. Stateside it began to shape up as a big hit as well getting to #1 Dance and #8 R&B. However, on the Pop chart the song stalled before it could get inside the Top 10. Apparently sales of the single were strong enough to send the song higher on the chart, but airplay stats were much lower thanks to some radio stations refusing to play the song due to its subject matter. Since the Pop chart combines sales and airplay, the song's overall placement took a hit. Despite the lack of airplay, the single sold and the video did well on MTV. The distinctive track would be Hardcastle's only one to be a significant hit and he ended up getting tagged as a one-hit wonder (#72 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s).

ReduxReview:  This was such an unusual song at the time. The use of clips from shows, movies, other songs, etc., wasn't a new idea, but the way that it was done in this track along with the serious subject matter certainly made it unique. Not only that, it was weirdly catchy and memorable with the stuttering "19." My good friend and I took the song quite seriously and even learned all the dialog. It was at a time when the Vietnam War was being revisited and focus was finally turning to the vets and after-war effects like PSD. It was all a bit controversial and even this song got caught up in it a bit. What I find odd is that it hit #1 at Dance. I mean, I can't really imagine being in a club, having the song come on and me going "oh I love this song!" and then heading to the dance floor to shake my booty with a smile on my face and a gin and tonic in-hand. Just doesn't seem right. But alas, it apparently happened. Frankly, its kind of a bummer of a song, but it was a well-done message tune that many folks still remember and talk about.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Hardcastle got the idea for this song after watching an ABC news documentary titled Vietnam Requiem, which dealt with the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam vets. It was commented in the show that the average age of a Vietnam soldier was 19. Hardcastle was a bit stunned by that stat and used it as the basis for creating the song. He used snippets of dialog from the show within the song including the narration voice of Peter Thomas, who ended up getting royalties for the use of his voice.  2) Right around this time, Hardcastle met a Chrysalis A&R guy named Simon Fuller. Fuller decided to leave the label to start his own management company and he wanted Hardcastle to be one of his first clients. Fuller decided to name his company after this hit - 19 Entertainment. If Fuller and 19 Entertainment sound familiar, it's because Fuller later created the hugely popular TV competition shows Pop Idol (UK), American Idol (US), and So You Think You Can Dance.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

"Reaction to Action" by Foreigner

Song#:  2346
Date:  06/01/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  54
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Foreigner's album, Agent Provacateur, would be their sixth to spread into multi-platinum territory. It was helped along by two hits including their career best effort, the #1 "I Want to Know What Love Is." Following the #12 peak of the second single "That Was Yesterday," this third track was issued out. Unfortunately the song didn't attract listeners and it stumbled at Rock (#44) while not even cracking the top half of the Pop chart. Without the support of a third significant single or radio track, the album could only reach the 3x platinum mark. While that was still a great achievement that most any artist would envy, it was a slight a disappointment for the band since all of their previous album sold in the 5-7 million range. It would end up being their last studio album to receive multi-platinum certification.

ReduxReview:  While Foreigner isn't a stranger to have a harder rocking tune becoming a hit, this one just didn't have the same commercial radio appeal as something like "Juke Box Hero." It also wasn't in the same league as the album's previous two singles and listeners tuned out. It's a solid album track, but it definitely wasn't the right choice for a single.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  English musician Mick Jones co-founded Foreigner and has been the only original member to fully remain in the band over the years. In his early career days, Jones moved to France and worked as a musician and songwriter. He worked with some of the biggest names in French pop including Francoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, and rocker Johnny Hallyday. Jones wrote/co-wrote and produced several songs for Hallyday (under the name Mickey Jones) and toured with him as well. He left France and went back to England in 1971 where he was part of a few groups, but it would be when he formed Foreigner in 1976 that his career really took off.