Saturday, May 12, 2018

"I Got You Babe" by UB40 (with Chrissie Hynde)

Song#:  2401
Date:  07/27/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  28
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Reggae

Pop Bits:  This UK reggae band was highly successful at home but it took a cover tune to finally get them on the chart in the US. The song "Red, Red Wine" from their fourth album Labour of Love cracked the Pop Top 40 (#34) early in '84. It seemed like that would set them up well for their next album, Geoffrey Morgan, but with the band returning to original material, hardly anyone in the US was interested and the album fizzled despite solid critical reception. Their next effort was more like a stop-gap project between proper albums. Baggariddim featured dub mixes of songs from their previous two albums along with an EP of three unreleased tracks. This single, featuring The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, was one of the EP tracks and it was pushed out as a single. It was an immediate hit in the UK becoming their second chart topper. For the US market, it was decided that the album's EP would be spun off on its own with three extra tracks. Titled Little Baggariddim, it would be issued in the US instead of the full UK album/EP. As in the UK, this track would be released as a single. It would be their first to get inside the Pop Top 30. It also made it to #40 at Rock. The EP sold better than Geoffrey Morgan and it set them up once again for a bigger break through, which still wouldn't happen for another three years.

ReduxReview:  With the exception of a few hits, reggae is a genre that's never truly been mainstream in the States. But apparently, if you take and old song and put it to a reggae beat, that's what American's like! UB40 made a career of it here since all of their US Pop chart entries were remakes, including this one. It's so weird as six of their UK Top 10 hits were original tunes, yet hardly anyone in the US was interested in them. On one hand, I feel the band got slighted here with their originals getting ignored, but then they perpetuated the cover tune thing by making five albums of them! I can only guess that those were paying the bills for their other albums. Regardless, I've never been a fan of the band. I just didn't connect with them and I didn't care for their covers. I'd probably say that this one was the best of the bunch mainly because I liked the original and Chrissie Hynde is a great addition to just about anything.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Sonny & Cher in 1965. Written by Sonny Bono, the song would appear on the duo's first album Look at Us. Their single would hit #1 for three weeks and go gold. It would be the duo's biggest hit and it would become a signature song that they would sing to close each episode of their popular 70s TV variety show. Sonny & Cher had been divorced for nearly 20 years when TV host David Letterman asked the former couple to be guests on his late night talk show. They appeared on the show expecting just to be interviewed, but then Letterman pulled a fast one and pushed them into singing this song. They relented and the pair sang the song together for the last time. Four years later, Bono died in a skiing accident. Bono had entered politics in the 80s and was Mayor of Palm Spring, California, for four years. He then was elected to the House of Representatives in 1995. He held that seat until his death in 1998. With his position in the House, it made Bono the only person in Congress to ever have a #1 hit.


Friday, May 11, 2018

"Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)" by Lone Justice

Song#:  2400
Date:  07/27/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  73
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Following the disappointing performance of this band's debut single, "Ways to Be Wicked," this track off of their self-titled first album was selected as the follow-up. They were still hoping for a breakthrough, but it just wasn't going to happen. The song basically replicated the results of their first single and fell off the chart after a few weeks. The band was called "the next big thing" by many industry folks and critics, but with their debut album peaking at a low #56, that prediction didn't come to fruition. Luckily their label, Geffen, believed in the band and gave them a chance to record a second album.

ReduxReview:  Okay, so even though I loved "Ways to Be Wicked," I could kind of understand why it wasn't a hit with its big alt-country/rock sound. But this one? C'mon. That guitar lick kicks things off and the tune immediately moves into a catchy, memorable verse. Then it heads towards the soaring chorus with the backup singers followed later by a great guitar solo section. It has a bit of a Motown-ish feel mixed with some Springsteen rock (thanks in part to co-writer Steven Van Zandt) and I find the song very exciting. This single should have made Lone Justice stars, yet it fizzled out quickly. The tune is hooky as hell, sounds awesome, and features the vocals of the brilliant Maria McKee. What a shame this one fell through the cracks.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The band's bass player, Marvin Etzioni, co-wrote several of the songs on the band's debut album. Later on in 1992, he would co-wrote a song that would make it to #11 on the AC chart. Etzioni was working with Andrew and David Williams, collectively know as the Williams Brothers, on material for their second album for Warner Bros. Etzioni and David Williams would end up collaborating on a song titled "Can't Cry Hard Enough." The ballad would not only make it on the album, but would be issued as a single. The song would just miss out on the AC Top 10 while getting to #42 at Pop. It got quite a bit of airplay and other artists took notice and covered the song including Victoria Williams (not related to David and Andy, but they often worked with her), Judy Collins, the popular UK band Smokie, and singer/songwriter Judy Miller. The song has also been used in TV shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

"Tonight It's You" by Cheap Trick

Song#:  2399
Date:  07/27/1985
Debut:  93
Peak:  44
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After a string of gold and platinum albums, things cooled down for Cheap Trick. Their 1983 album Next Position Please, produced by Todd Rundgren, had more of a pop flare to it and some critics were quite positive about the LP. Unfortunately, the album sold poorly with neither of its two singles reaching any chart. It was the band's lowest peaking LP since 1977. Needing to rebound from the disappointment, the band decided they wanted to return to the harder rocking sound of their early years and hired on Jack Douglas, who had produced the band's self-titled debut album. The final product, Standing on the Edge, was preceded by this first single that became the band's first to reach the Top 10 at Rock (#8). That airplay along with a popular MTV video helped the song get on the Pop chart where it nearly made the Top 40. It was actually their best Pop single showing since 1980 and it helped the album reach #35. While it failed to reach gold level sales, it was certainly a bit of a win following the lackluster results of their previous album.

ReduxReview:  This band has always been caught in between being a rock band doing their own thing and one trying to appease their label's call to be more commercial. Sometimes it worked out for them, sometimes it didn't. In the case of this single, I think they rode the line quite well. All three main sections of the song are hooky, well-done, and ready for the arena. I heard this on the radio and liked it well enough to buy the single. The mix is a bit muddy, yet the song shines through. It's a bit of a lost song in their catalog, which is a shame. It really should have done better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Cheap Trick's first chart entry of the decade was "Everything Works If You Let It," which was a song they did for the soundtrack to the film Roadie. Over the next few years they would contribute to at least four more soundtracks. Next came two songs for the animated film Heavy Metal including the track "Reach Out." Then they did title song to the comedy Spring Break. In '84, they did another title track song this time for the comedy Up the Creek. Perhaps their most well-known soundtrack contribution was "Mighty Wings" from the nine-million selling Top Gun soundtrack. All four of these soundtrack songs were issued as singles, but unfortunately none of them charted.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

"Don't Lose My Number" by Phil Collins

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2398
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  46
Peak:  4
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Collins' third solo album No Jacket Required would spend seven weeks at #1 thanks to two #1 Pop hits: "One More Night" and "Sussudio." To keep the album rolling along, this track was chosen as the third single. Although it would not get to the top spot like his previous two singles, it did well enough to get inside the Top 5. While it would reach three other chart, the results were not as good with the song stopping at #25 AC, #33 Rock, and #39 Dance. Still, the hit kept sales of the album steady and by August of '85 it would be at the triple platinum level (with more certifications to come).

ReduxReview:  Here's the thing about Phil Collins' songs. In many of them, the lyrics make no sense at all - even to Collins himself. That's because many of his songs stem from improvisation sessions and whatever came to his mind in these writing exercises would just end up being the lyrics. As to this song, Collins has even said that there is no story here or even any real meaning. However, because he can back up these nonsensical lyrics with solid pop music, it all seems to work. Now, the lyrics may not be decipherable, but Collins makes it seem like there's something happening. This song does sound like something mysterious and dangerous is going on, yet we have no clue as to what it is. That leaves it up to listeners to decipher it as they wish. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is often frustrating when someone like Collins can't even express what a song is about or the inspiration. In my opinion, it's lazy songwriting. Like, "eh, I don't know what it means but it sounds good so I'll call it good and move on." He's certainly not the only artist to have done this, but it's a little disappointing. At least he admits it. He could have easily just made something up. As to this song, even though the lyrics are bunk, they do create an atmosphere of something happening and the music is solid.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  So why was the album titled No Jacket Required? It was named after something that happened to Collins when he went out to dinner in Chicago with Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant. The pair went to The Pump Room, a famous and fancy restaurant in the Ambassador Hotel. At the time the restaurant had a dress code and it seemed that Collins wasn't in compliance. The code called for a dinner jacket and Collins was just wearing a leather jacket and therefore was denied entrance. Collins was furious about the incident and as a stab back at the restaurant decided to name his album No Jacket Required. He then would talk about what happened in interviews and on various TV shows. Realizing this was bad for public relations, the restaurant later sent Collins an apology along with a sport jacket and an invitation to rejoin them for dinner - wearing whatever he wants.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

"Shame" by The Motels

Song#:  2397
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  21
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The Motels secured two gold albums and two Top 10 hits with producer Val Garay. However, for their next album, the band wanted a change and the label decided to hook them up with Richie Zito, an in-demand session guitarist who had also been working with famed producer Giorgio Moroder. Zito's assignment was to keep the Motels going in the same commercial direction as their previous two albums and the final product was titled Shock. This first single was issued out ahead of the album and it looked like it might shape up to the the band's third Top 10 hit. The tune did indeed hit that mark at Rock (#10), but somehow it lost steam on the Pop chart and ended up just shy of the Top 20. It also got to #14 Dance and #22 AC. The mediocre charting song didn't promote the album well and it fell short in sales and failed to go gold (#36).

ReduxReview:  The previous two albums from The Motels are among my favorites of the decade. I've listened to them countless times and the Val Garay production fit them well. There was an immediate change when switching over to Zito. He added in a lot more keyboard-based sounds (not in a synthpop way) to create a real dense production. Lots of effects and reverb going on too. While in general what Zito did actually sounds good from a technical standpoint, it was just too much and too loud for The Motels. As a result, some of the songs just got lost in the production. The album had some misfires, but there were a few terrific songs in the bunch that would have benefited from a more subtle production, such as this one. It's a lovely and light song that unfortunately got bogged down by heavy production. Despite that, I was rooting for the song to get into the Top 10 as it was worthy of being there.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Zito first got exposed to the music industry when he signed with Atlantic Records in 1967. Zito was fifteen at the time and he and his friend Joey Carbone formed the duo The Bay Ridge. They recorded three singles for the label, but nothing came from them. After leaving the label, the pair continued to worked together under the name Snowball. They would end up issuing one indie self-titled album in 1977. Over the years, Zito would do guitar work in the studio and on tour for artists like Neil Sedaka and Elton John. As the 80s rolled in, he moved over to the producer's chair and began to do some high profile work with Toni Basil and Berlin (with Moroder). This led to him getting the job producing The Motels' album. He would later produce successful hits for Eddie Money ("Take Me Home Tonight"), Cheap Trick ("The Flame"), and Heart ("All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You").


Monday, May 7, 2018

"Wild and Crazy Love" by Mary Jane Girls

Song#:  2396
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  71
Peak:  42
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Rick James' protégée group the Mary Jane Girls grabbed their first (and only) Pop Top 10 hit with "In My House" (#7), the first single from their second album Only Four You. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The song would do well at Dance (#3) and R&B (#10), but at Pop it halted just shy of the Top 40 mark. However, the strength of the two singles was enough for the album to become their second to go gold.

ReduxReview:  This is not too far off from the sound of "In My House" and it certainly has that Rick James flare. It's actually a worthy follow-up. James did a solid job on the production and the song is a fun n' funky workout. It may not be as hooky, meaty, and immediately memorable as "In My House," but it should have done better at Pop. The album version of the song goes on far too long, but the edited single is pretty tasty.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Following her time in the Mary Jane Girls, singer Cheri Wells ended up in another protégée group. This time it was one spearheaded by The Time's lead singer Morris Day. Wells would be one of five women that made up the group. However, unlike the Mary Jane Girls or other formed vocal outfits, the Day Z's played all their own instruments. Wells was the one chosen to be the lead singer. The band's name is, of course, a cute play on Morris Day's name. Day and a collaborator of his, Freeze (aka Rickey Smith), co-wrote and co-produced all the songs for the band's self-title debut album. The LP was issued on Reprise Records in 1990 and it featured the single "Certainly." Unfortunately, neither the single nor the album did anything and that was it for the Day Z's.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

"Hangin' on a String (Contemplating)" by Loose Ends

Song#:  2395
Date:  07/20/1985
Debut:  77
Peak:  43
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  This British trio signed on with Virgin in the UK in 1981. The following year they released three singles for the label under the name Loose End. None of the singles got anywhere, but it seems the label still had faith in the band and after adjusting the name to Loose Ends (due to a potential lawsuit regarding the name), the trio set out to record a debut album. Released in 1984, the album wasn't a big hit, but it did okay thanks to three mid-charting UK singles. It was enough to get the band signed to MCA in the US. Before the album was pushed out, the band recorded this new song and it was issued as a single on both shores. It did well in the UK getting to #13, but it did even better in the US where the song made it to #1 on the R&B chart and #12 Dance. The single crossed over the Pop chart and nearly made the Top 40. Because of the hit, the trio's debut album A Little Spice was updated to include the song and was then issued in the US. It would get to #5 R&B/#46 Pop. The song would be include on their second UK album So Where Are You? The band would have three more successful albums that would yield three more R&B Top 10's including the 1986 #1 "Slow Down." Unfortunately, they wouldn't get a song on the Pop chart again. Later on, the band was divided on their musical direction and decided to part ways in 1990.

ReduxReview:  This silky groove sounds so good that even though it's not necessarily the most hooky song, it still draws you in. It has a bit of that exotic feel that is found in a lot of Sade songs. It is well done and it sets a real sensual tone. I can hear why this made it to #1 at R&B. I don't think it was a powerful enough song to cut through the synth-y din of 80s pop, but it did pretty well on the chart. If it got a little more airplay and got inside the Top 40, it might have done a bit better. Quite a tasty track.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) With this song hitting #1 on the US R&B chart, it made Loose Ends the first British band to reach that spot. They would end up doing that feat twice.  2) When they were known as Loose End, their first single, "In the Sky" was produced for them by Chris and Eddie Amoo. The Amoo brothers had some significant success in the UK with their band called The Real Thing. From 1976 through to 1980, the band got ten singles on the UK chart including three Top 10's. Remixes of two of their early hits would also reach the Top 10 later in 1986. Chris Amoo had a side career over the years as a dog breeder. One of his dogs won Best in Show in 1987 at the Crufts show, which is the biggest dog show/convention of its kind in the UK. It is also considered the largest dog show in the world according to a 1991 certification from the Guinness Book of World Records. Amoo would continue to show dogs, but then also moved into judging them as well.