Saturday, July 14, 2018

"You Belong to the City" by Glenn Frey

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2464
Date:  09/14/1985
Debut:  57
Peak:  2
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Soft Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After Frey's "Smuggler's Blues" became a #12 hit thanks to its use in the hit TV show Miami Vice, Frey was asked to provide a new song for the show and its upcoming soundtrack. Frey and his co-writer Jack Tempchin came up with this tune that would be used in the two-hour second season premiere episode titled "Prodigal Son." The song was issued out as a single and it reached the top of the Rock chart while nearly doing the same at Pop and AC (#2). It would end up being Frey's biggest hit as a solo artist. With this song and Jan Hammer's "Miami Vice Theme" riding in the Pop Top 10 at the same time, the soundtrack album bolted to #1 and stayed there for eleven non-consecutive weeks.

ReduxReview:  Much like his Eagles bandmate Don Henley getting the atmosphere just right on his recent hits like "Sunset Grill," Frey sets the perfect tone with this track. The noir-ish mood and lyrics fit right in with the TV show. I love the song's mysterious, gritty street feel and it sounds like something that could easily be made into a short film. As evidenced by the peak, this was Frey's top moment as a solo artist.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Although Frey did not appear in the episode of Miami Vice that used this song, he did appear in the one that used "Smuggler's Blues." It was Frey's first acting gig. He played "Jimmy Cole," a pilot/smuggler who just happened to also like playing guitar. Frey basically kept to his day job but did a few acting gigs including recurring roles on Wiseguy (1989) and South of Sunset (1993). He also had a small role in the Oscar-winning film Jerry Maguire where he played the general manager of a baseball team.


Friday, July 13, 2018

"Boy in the Box" by Corey Hart

Song#:  2463
Date:  09/14/1985
Debut:  69
Peak:  26
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Hart grabbed his second Top 10 hit with "Never Surrender," the lead single from his second album Boy in the Box. For a follow-up, this title-track song was selected for release. The more upbeat tune didn't catch on as well and it stopped before it could get inside the Top 20. It did better in remix form on the Dance chart where it got to #16. In his homeland of Canada, this became Hart's third Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  This heavily produced album opener was probably the best upbeat track for single contention from the album, but it really is more of an album track. It is heavy on verses and takes nearly a minute and a half to even reach the bridge to the chorus. In pop radio world, that's a long time. If the verses are strong enough, that is okay, but I think the ones in this song are not all that memorable. Once the song gets going with the chorus and its children's song-like countdown and synth swoops, it works pretty well, as does the guitar solo. However, it just wasn't "Sunglasses at Night" memorable and it faded quickly.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The Boy in the Box album would be a huge hit in Canada. In addition to reaching the #1 spot on the chart, it would be a Diamond seller. In Canada, the names of their sales certifications were the same as in the US - gold, platinum, and diamond. The difference is the amounts per category. In the US, gold equals 500,000 copies, platinum is for 1 million, and diamond is for 10 million. With a far lower population that the US, these amounts were adjust accordingly. Therefore, gold equals 50,000 copies, platinum 100,000, and diamond 1 million. While there had been diamond certified albums in Canada in the 70s and 80s, none were by Canadian artists. Hart's Boy in the Box became a diamond seller and he nearly became the first Canadian artist to have a diamond certified album in Canada, but he was beaten to the mark by Bryan Adams whose Reckless album was certified diamond just a mere three months prior. The first Canadian artist to reach double-diamond status in Canada was Alanis Morissette with her mega-hit LP Jagged Little Pill in 1996.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

"Never" by Heart

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2462
Date:  09/14/1985
Debut:  70
Peak:  4
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Heart got an 80s makeover via their new label, Capitol, and came zooming back with a self-titled album that featured the #10 hit "What About Love." Heart was back on the charts again and this second single from the LP showed that they were going to stick around for a while. The track made it to #2 at Rock while becoming their biggest hit to-date on the Pop chart. It would also help their album break through a crowded chart and finally nab the top spot for a week in December. It would be their first and only album to hit #1.

ReduxReview:  While the big power ballad "What About Love" kept the band's rock roots fairly intact, this single really pushed them into a more commercial pop direction. With hit-making songwriter Holly Knight leading the writing team, there was no doubt that the band was definitely making a bid for chart glory. While they might have been pushed into it by their deal with Capitol, they seemed to give in to the label machinery and even though this is no "Barracuda," the big production and chorus fit them quite well. This song was as radio-ready as you could get and even if "What About Love" had failed, I still think this one would have hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The writing credits for this song go to Holly Knight, Glen Bloch, and Connie. Connie is not actually a person, but a pseudonym for three people - Heart's Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson, and Sue Ennis. Ennis began writing songs with the Wilson sisters back in 1978 when the trio co-wrote all the tunes for Heart's album Dog & Butterfly. Ennis has continued to work with the sisters on nearly every album since. In the early 90s, the Wilson sisters along with Ennis and Frank Cox formed an acoustic side band called The Lovemongers. They issued an EP in 1992 and then in 1997 recorded a full album of new music titled Whirlygig. A year later they did an LP of Christmas songs called Here Is Christmas. It was reissued later in 2001 under the Heart moniker as Heart Presents a Lovemongers' Christmas.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"All Fall Down" by Five Star

Song#:  2461
Date:  09/14/1985
Debut:  83
Peak:  65
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This UK vocal group consisted of the five Pearson siblings and were developed via their father Buster Pearson. Having been a successful session/tour musician that worked with several major artists, Buster Pearson was already familiar with the music business. In 1983, he decided to form his teenage kids into a vocal group and the following year recorded and independently released their first single, "Problematic." It didn't chart, but it did help get them signed to RCA Records. Two singles on their new label were issued and a debut album titled Luxury of Life was released, but nothing was getting any attention. That is until this third single from the LP started to catch on. It would be their first charting effort getting to #6 Dance and #16 R&B. It would also cross over to the Pop chart for a few months and would be their first charting single in their UK homeland getting to #15.

ReduxReview:  This was a pretty good little tune that helped establish the family group on the charts. It was nothing outstanding, but it was memorable enough to get people interested, especially on the dance floors. I kind of remember the group, but I don't remember any of their songs. They ended up doing better in the UK scoring six Top 10's there.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The b-side to this single was an instrumental song titled "First Avenue." The tune was written by group/family member Deniece Pearson. She also co-produced the track with her father. On the record, it was credited to Five Star Orchestra. The song would end up grabbing a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Instrumental Performance.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

"I Miss You" by Klymaxx

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2460
Date:  09/14/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  5
Weeks:  29
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  It took four albums, but this all-female band broke through with a pair of R&B Top 10's from their fourth LP including the title-track "Meeting in the Ladies Room," which made it to #59 at Pop. For a follow-up, this ballad written by band member Lynn Malsby was selected. The song took its sweet time meandering up the chart, but it finally cracked the Pop Top 10. It did even better at AC getting to #3. Unfortunately, it just missed out on becoming the band's third Top 10 at R&B as it stopped at the dreaded #11 spot. The hit really pushed album sales and it wasn't long before it was certified platinum.

ReduxReview:  This wistful ballad fit the band like a glove and was a perfect cross-format vehicle for them. It's a lovely song that is sentimental without being too saccharine. The funny thing about this song is that when I first heard it, I initially thought it was a new song by DeBarge! I thought lead singer Joyce "Fenderella" Irby sounded quite similar to El DeBarge on this song. Even the style of the tune was right in DeBarge's lane. I quickly figured out it wasn't a DeBarge song, but for a minute or two I wasn't sure.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  As noted in the info above, this song lingered on the Pop chart for 29 weeks, which was a big chunk of time. In the 80s, the average length of time a single spent on the chart was around 11 weeks. Songs that hit #1 averaged around 24 weeks on the chart while Top 10's stayed about 20 weeks. For the Billboard year-end charts, point values are assigned to a song based on its peak position and weeks on the chart. This Klymaxx song kept gaining points the longer it lingered on the chart. Because of that, it ended up being the #3 song on the year-end chart for 1986. It finished ahead of several #1 hits like Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know," Prince's "Kiss," and Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings." When the 80s ended, the song that held the record for being on the chart the longest in a single run was "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell at 43 weeks. That record has been shattered many times over the years and as of this posting date, the song in the lead is 2014's "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons with 87 weeks - just over double the time of Soft Cell's record setter.


Monday, July 9, 2018

"After the Fire" by Roger Daltrey

Song#:  2459
Date:  09/14/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  48
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Daltrey's first solo album following the break-up of The Who, Parting Should Be Painless, ended up being a disappointment. With only one minor charting single, the #62 "Walking in My Sleep," the LP tanked and couldn't even reach the Top 100. For his next effort, Daltrey set out to make the album he's always wanted to make, Under a Raging Moon. Along the way he got assistance from other musicians like members of Big Country, Bryan Adams, Russ Ballard, John Parr, and even his old bandmate Pete Townshend, who wrote this lead-off single. The song took off on Rock radio and it got to #3 - his biggest solo hit on that chart. The associated video was also well-received on MTV. The tune debuted low on the Pop chart and began a slow climb. It looked like it might get inside the Top 40, but it ended up stalling short of that mark. Still, the song's popularity at Rock and on MTV helped sell the album. It got to #42, which was far better than his previous album.

ReduxReview:  I've always thought this was a great anthem. I loved the production, especially the drums, and Daltrey sounds energized and engaged. I thought this was going to be a solid hit for Daltrey, even a Top 10 contender, yet it stalled mid-chart for some reason. At least it was embraced by Rock. I still think it's a terrific track and probably one of the most radio-friendly songs Pete Townshend had written around this time period. Apparently, Townshend gave the song to Daltrey to record and then The Who were going to perform it at Live Aid, which certainly would have helped promote the song. Unfortunately, schedules and such didn't allow the band to get the song properly rehearsed and they didn't play it at the event. That's a shame as it would have been a great addition to their set. It's also most likely the only song to name drop actors Matt Dillon and Dom DeLuise.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The album's title song "Under a Raging Moon" was written as a tribute to The Who's former drummer, Keith Moon, who had died in 1978. The song was written by John Parr and Julia Downes. Parr's manager had worked with The Who for many years and had told Parr numerous stories about Moon. Those stories came in handy when writing the song. Moon was The Who's drummer and as an added tribute to him, several famous drummers stepped in to play on the song. Each drummer played a certain section of the song. The running order of drummers that are heard on the song are: Martin Chambers (The Pretenders), Roger Taylor (Queen), Cozy Powell (Jeff Beck Group), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and Mark Brzezicki (Big Country). Brzezicki also played drums on "After the Fire." On that song, two of his Big Country bandmates, Tony Butler and Bruce Watson, also lend a hand.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

"Part-Time Lover" by Stevie Wonder

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2458
Date:  09/07/1985
Debut:  43
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Pop

Pop Bits:  Although Wonder wrote and performed nearly all of the soundtrack to The Woman in Red, he had not put out a regular studio solo album since 1980's Hotter Than July, which was the longest stretch between studio albums he'd ever had. He finally buckled down and recorded his twentieth album, In Square Circle. To introduce the album, this track was selected to be the first single. It got a quick start debuting just outside the Top 40 before zooming up to the top spot. The song would be a multi-format hit reaching #1 at Pop, R&B, AC, and Dance. In doing so, it became the first single to reach #1 on all four of those charts. The song also got Wonder a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. He would end up winning a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male, for the album. The hit would help the album get to #5 Pop and #1 R&B. By the end of the year it would be a certified double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  I was not a big fan of Wonder's around this time. He lost me after the schmaltzy "I Just Called to Say I Love You" became an annoying hit. I thought Wonder was slacking when he came up with that simplistic tune and hoped he'd get back to business with the new album. He didn't. Wonder has said that his inspiration for this song was two old Supremes hits "You Can't Hurry Love" (#1, 1966) and "My World Is Empty Without You" (#5, 1966). I can kind of hear that, but I thought it sounded quite close (actually very close) to another #1 hit - Hall & Oates' "Maneater." I was seriously waiting for the lawsuit to be filed. The beat, production, rhythm, and parts of the melody were nearly identical to the H&O song. No legal action took place, but there was no denying the similarities between the songs. I highly doubt Wonder consciously mimicked "Maneater," but someone in his camp should have said, " may wanna rethink this." Because the song had already been written (better) as "Maneater," I promptly ignored it and placed it beside "I Just Called" as one of Wonder's worst hits.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Wonder's first single to reach #1 at Pop was 1963's "Fingertips, Pt. 2." With this song hitting #1, the span of time between the two #1's was twenty-two years and three months. That was a record at the time for longevity. He took the record away from Frank Sinatra who had twenty years, eight months between #1's. Cher is the current record holder. The time span between her #1's "Dark Lady" (1974) and "Believe" (1999)  is 24 years, 355 day.