Saturday, May 5, 2018

"Only for Love" by Limahl

Song#:  2394
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  51
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  After leaving his band Kajagoogoo, lead singer Limahl was able to grab a solo chart hit in the US with the movie theme "The NeverEnding Story" (#17). To follow it up, this track from his debut solo album Don't Suppose was selected for release. It made it about halfway up the Pop chart before falling. The tune would also get to #28 at Dance. It would be Limahl's last single to reach the US charts. In the UK, this was the first single from his album and it was issued in 1983 prior to "NeverEnding Story." The song made it to #16 with "NeverEnding" getting to #4 the following year. Like in the US, his chart fortunes dried up at home. He would issue two more album, but they disappeared quickly. Many years later, Limahl would rejoin Kajagoogoo for various live performances.

ReduxReview:  This urgent little tune kind of sounds like a rejected track from Howard Jones' debut album. The chorus is catchy, but the rest of the song is forgettable. Limahl wrote all the songs for the album (save for the later addition of "NeverEnding") and he just didn't have anything as strong as "Too Shy" or "NeverEnding" for hit contention. At least those two songs garnered Limahl the distinction of being a double one-hit wonder! If it wasn't for "NeverEnding," his solo career would have been over even quicker than it was as this song wasn't going to do anything

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  It was a chance meeting that ended up getting Limahl the job to sing "NeverEnding Story." In 1984, he was asked by his record label to participate in the Tokyo Music Festival. He took a chance to do so and ended up winning a silver award (the top prize of the night went to Laura Branigan). While he was there he got to meet legendary producer Giorgio Moroder. Moroder was working on tracks for the film The NeverEnding Story and Limahl's manager began chatting up Moroder. Not long after the festival, Limahl got a call to fly to Germany and sing the film's title song for Moroder. Limahl not only ended up with a hit song from the deal, but Moroder then co-wrote and produced most of the tracks on Limahl's second solo album Colour My Days.


Friday, May 4, 2018

"Love and Pride" by King

Spotlight Alert!

Song#:  2393
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  55
Weeks:  11
Genre:  New Wave

Pop Bits:  Formed from the ashes of other bands, this British outfit officially came into being in 1983. Named for its lead singer Paul King, The band signed on with CBS (Epic in the US) and set out to record songs for a debut album. This first single came out in the spring of '84, but it tanked getting to only #84 in the UK. Then two follow-up singles failed to chart. That could have been it for them but then late in '84 the band gained fans while touring with Culture Club and then they performed this song on the UK music TV show The Tube. Interest in the band caused the label to reissue this song and it ended up being a big hit reaching #2 on the chart. The song then crossed the pond, but its fortunes were not as good. It ended up peaking just outside the Top 50 while getting to #17 on the Dance chart. It would be their only charting song in the US. Meanwhile in the UK, the band's album would go gold and their follow-up LP would generate a second Top 10 hit. Unfortunately, after two albums the band split with Paul King headed out on a solo career.

ReduxReview:  To me, both the song and Paul King's vocals bring to mind Adam Ant mixed with a little early U2. I can absolutely hear why this was a hit in the UK. It's different, interesting, and blended well with other new wave/pop Euro artists who were hitting at the time. When I first listened to the song, I wasn't sure if I liked it, but as the song went on I got into it and wanted a second listen. This one was gonna be lost on US ears and I'm actually a bit surprised it made it halfway up the chart. Quite a cool song and I'll be taking a listen to their albums after hearing this and see what else they have to offer. Oddly, I think I remember seeing this album in the record store back in the day. It's an attractive, 80s day-glo cover and one that would have stood out to me. This is an interesting discovery and one worthy of a Spotlight mention. As always, I'm so happy when I run across lost songs like this in the project!

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After breaking from the band, Paul King stayed with CBS and recorded a 1987 debut solo album titled The Joy. The album was produced by US chart star Dan Hartman and featured several songs co-written by King and Hartman (and a few with Hartman's writing partner Charlie Midnight). The new material leaned towards pop/rock and the LP's first single, "I Know," failed to make a major impression peaking at #59 in the UK. Soon after, King embarked on another career - that of an MTV VJ. Working for MTV Europe, King hosted several of the channel's shows including 120 Minutes and MTV's Greatest Hits. He would stay with the channel through to 1994 when he then switched over to VH1. Apparently he is still working with the MTV/VH1 network producing shows.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

"I Want My Girl" by Jesse Johnson's Revue

Song#:  2392
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  76
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After Johnson left The Time, he embarked on a solo career with his own band. Signed to A&M Records, Jesse Johnson's Revue issued a self-titled debut album earlier in the year. The LP's first single, "Be Your Man," would be a #4 hit at R&B while getting to #61 at Pop. A second single, "Can You Help Me," would do a tad better at R&B getting to #3, but it failed to make the Pop chart. However, this third single got the band back on the Pop chart for a couple of months. It was also their third R&B Top 10 hitting #7. The singles would help the album sell well and it would get to #8 at R&B and #43 Pop. By the fall, it would received a gold record certification.

ReduxReview:  Although they called this the Minneapolis sound, to me it was just another variation on Prince's tracks. And like a lot of that stuff, this one couldn't compete with the master's work. Having worked a lot with Prince, I'm sure it was difficult to break free from his influence. Still, if you are gonna use those influences, you better have some solid material that gives you some kind of identity and I don't think Johnson had it at this point. Like "Be Your Man," this one sounds like something Prince recorded one afternoon for kicks and then dumped it in the vault.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In addition to his own solo/band career, Johnson began to write and produce for other artists. One of his first major gigs was writing and producing two songs for Janet Jackson's second LP Dream Street. He wrote and produced the songs "Pretty Boy" and "Fast Girls" for Jackson. "Fast Girls" would end up being the second single from the album released. It would do moderately well getting to #40 at R&B. Johnson's own original (demo) version of the song would end up as the b-side to the "I Want My Girl" single.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

"Love Resurrection" by Alison Moyet

Song#:  2391
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  82
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Moyet hit the US Top 40 for the first (and only) time with "Invisible" (#31), the lead single from her solo debut album Alf. For a follow-up, this next track was issued out. It just couldn't catch a break and the song stalled early and fell off the chart after a month. It did only slightly better at Dance getting to #47. With that result, her career in the US was done. However, it was a different story in her UK homeland. She would end up with six Top 10 singles and four Top 10 albums. Her latest LP as of this posting was 2017's Other, which peaked at #12.

ReduxReview:  Again, just like "Invisible," I don't know why US listeners ignored this track. Co-written by Moyet and the production team of Jolley & Swain (Bananarama, Spandau Ballet), it's a hooky R&B-leaning dance track with terrific production. The thing had "hit" written all over it, yet no one in the US cared. I don't know if her singles and album just didn't get promoted well or if US tastes just didn't care for her music. Whatever it was, folks missed out and it's a shame.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This single was actually the first released from the album in the UK. It reached #9. It was followed up with another Top 10 and the #21 "Invisible." After that, the label had intentions of issuing a fourth single, but Moyet didn't want that. She thought it would be better to give the fans something new, so she recorded her version of an old standard called "That Ole Devil Called Love." It got released as a single and hit #2 in the UK. It would end up being her biggest charting single there. After that hit, the label was still insistent on issuing a fourth single from Alf and they pushed out one titled "For You Only." Not surprisingly, it did not chart. "That Ole Devil Called Love" was written in 1944 and was originally recorded by the great Billie Holiday. It served as the b-side to her #16 Pop/#5 R&B hit "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)."


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

"Cry" by Godley & Creme

Song#:  2390
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  16
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  This English duo of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were first in a band together back in the 50s, but it wasn't until around 1969 that they got together and set out on a music career. By 1972, they were members of a band called 10cc and got their first UK hit with the #2 "Donna." The band wouldn't break through in the US until their 1975 worldwide hit "I'm Not in Love" got to #2. The next year, the duo would leave 10cc to pursue their own project that was based on an effects gadget they had invented called The Gizmo. The project turned into the duo's debut album; a 3-LP concept piece titled Consequences. The album was derided by critics and it was not successful. Godley & Creme then went on to release four album with varying success. Their 1981 album Ismism produced two Top 10 hits in the UK, but their music was lost on US ears. That is until the duo decided to celebrate their 25th year in the business with a remix album titled The History Mix Volume 1. In addition to revisiting songs from their past, they also wrote a new track for the collection titled "Cry." It was issued as a single and thanks in part to an innovative MTV video, the song caught on and reached the US Top 20. It also got to #5 AC, #6 Rock, and #22 Dance. It would be their only single to chart in the US. Godley & Creme would issue one more album before splitting and going their own ways.

ReduxReview:  The video for this song was really fascinating and it drew people to the song, but I had heard the tune before seeing the video and instantly fell for it. I love the rises and falls of the song. It reminds me of something that Roy Orbison might have done (and frankly, I think Orbison could have actually sung the last notes of the song...). The verse has a lovely melody and the build up to the explosive chorus is awesome. The ending is my only quibble. I didn't really like the studio-tricked voice on the last notes, yet it's not so bad that it distracts me from the rest of the song. I was always disappointed this didn't make the Top 10. It really should have.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Godley & Creme were arguably more successful in the new art of music videos than in their recording career. The pair first started developing and directing videos when they did one for their 1979 single "An Englishman in New York." From there, they started getting calls from other artists and were soon directing videos for The Police, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Yes, Wang Chung, and many others. Their video for Herbie Hancock's 1983 hit "Rockit" ended up winning five MTV Music Video Awards. They also directed the video for their song "Cry." It was considered innovative at the time due to the use of cross-fading various faces so it looked like a person's face was morphing into another. A similar technique would be used years later in the video for Michael Jackson's #1 hit "Black or White." Godley & Creme's video for "Cry" would get them three more MTV Music Video Award nominations.


Monday, April 30, 2018

"You're Only Human (Second Wind)" by Billy Joel

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2389
Date:  07/13/1985
Debut:  50
Peak:  9
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Following the run of Joel's multi-platinum hit album An Innocent Man, his label thought it would be a good time to issue out a hits compilation. With twenty-six charting songs to his name since 1974 including seven Top 10's, most industry folks would say a hits disc was long overdue. However, Joel had always been opposed to the idea of one as he considered them to be things you did to cap off a career and he was far from being at that point. However, this time around Joel reconsidered and finally agreed to a hits collection. It would be a doozie. Assembled on four LPs (or two CDs), Greatest Hits - Volume I & Volume II would cover Joel's entire career up to this point. It included twenty-five of his most well-known songs along with two brand new tracks that would be used to help promote the compilation. This first single was one of the new tracks and after debuting at the chart's halfway point, it moved on up into the Pop Top 10. It also got to #2 at AC and #26 Rock. The song certainly helped sell the compilation and it reached #6. By January of '86 it had already moved two million copies. (Note: RIAA certification standards counts the number of physical discs towards the total. Therefore, if a double-LP is sold, it would count as two discs sold instead of one for the whole set. So double-platinum for Joel's set could mean that anywhere from 250,000-500,000 actual full copies of the set were sold since the LP version had four discs and the CD version had two.)

ReduxReview:  This shuffle is one in Joel's Top 10 catalog that has kind of been lost over time. I never hear it anymore. It's a nice song with a good message, but I wouldn't rank it high on a list of Joel's best song. He really puts an 80s synth production sheen on the track, which certainly ages it. To me, the track is similar to Julian Lennon's "Too Late for Goodbyes," both in feel and production. Joel was a hot commodity at the time and I think his popularity helped get this song into the Top 10. If any other artist had issued this at the time, I don't think it would have done nearly as well. It's a good tune, but it pales in comparison to Joel's best singles.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The lyrics to this bouncy, upbeat tune are actually about something quite sad an unfortunate. It is about teenage depression and suicide, which is something Joel experienced himself as a youth. Yet instead of making a ballad with gloomy lyrics, Joel focused on a more optimistic message and gave the song a happier feel. Joel also gave all the profits from the song to the National Committee for Youth Suicide Prevention.  2) The GH I&II set would end up being a massive seller over time. By 2011, it was certified for sales of over 23 million in the US alone. However, that is based on number of physical discs (as mentioned above). The actual number of full copies of the compilation sold is around 11 million, which still puts it on the list of best selling albums of all-time in the US and remains Joel's biggest selling title.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

"Dare Me" by The Pointer Sisters

Song#:  2388
Date:  07/13/1985
Debut:  62
Peak:  11
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  The Pointer Sisters experienced their biggest career moment with their tenth album Break Out. The album would peak at #8, sell over three million copies, and feature four Top 10 hits. Originally released in November of '83, the long-lasting seller was still kicking around when this first single from their follow-up album, Contact, was issued. The song started off well and looked like it was going to be another Top 10 hit for the trio, but then it stalled at the dreaded #11 spot. It did better at R&B getting to #6 and made it to #32 at AC. It did best at Dance where it got all the way to #1. It was the Sisters' first and only chart topper at Dance. This song and the trio's popularity helped move albums and it eventually did go platinum, but it didn't do nearly as well as Break Out. It only reached #25 at Pop and #11 R&B. However, the album generated a Grammy nod for the Pointers for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  The trio retained producer Richard Perry for the seventh time and didn't toy too much with the formula that made Break Out such a big hit. Unfortunately, this time around the material just wasn't up to snuff. The songs weren't all that bad, but none of them had the same hit appeal as the ones from Break Out. There were no smart, well-written, catchy fare like "Jump (For My Love)" or "Automatic." This first single came closest, but it still paled in comparison. I'm sure they were under pressure to get something out, but they needed to find some better songs and perhaps slightly change up their sound. I remember buying the album right away like a lot of folks did and I was disappointed. I may have only played it a couple of times before filing it away. It's a bummer because it ended up being all downhill for them following this single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was inadvertently part of an infamous celebrity rant that became somewhat legendary. Casey Kasem had been host of the popular radio show American Top 40 since 1970. Kasen would introduce all the charting songs for the week and play them. In between song he told trivia facts and each week there was also a featured called the "long distance dedication" in which Kasem reads a letter from a listener who wants to dedicate a song to someone. During one of the weeks that "Dare Me" was charting, Kasem was scheduled to follow up the playing of the song with a long distance dedication spot. Well, the dedication was from someone whose dog had died and they wanted Kasem to dedicate Henry Gross' "Shannon" (#6, 1976), which is a song Gross wrote about the death of Carl Wilson's (Beach Boys) dog Shannon. As "Dare Me" ended and Kasem started the dedication, he suddenly got mad that a dedication about a dead dog was coming in after a big upbeat dance tune. He started a profanity-laced rant about the issue and also about some pictures he was supposed to see. Kasem's show was a taped one for syndication, so the rant wasn't broadcast live, but it was on tape and copies of the rant got out. It was all over the place and was even featured on Howard Stern's show. You can still hear it on YouTube.