Saturday, August 4, 2018

"Kayleigh" by Marillion

Song#:  2485
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  74
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Prog Rock

Pop Bits:  This British prog rock band formed in 1979 and by 1981 they had a solid lineup that featured lead vocalist Fish (born Derek Dick). Their demos got the attention of EMI Records and they signed on in 1982. Their debut album, Script for a Jester's Tear, was an immediate hit in the UK reaching #7 thanks in part to the #16 single "Garden Party." Their second album Fugazi also did well getting to #5. When it came time for their third studio album, the band decided to take their music in a more mainstream direction. Based on an experience Fish had while on an acid trip, the band developed the concept album Misplaced Childhood. This rock ballad was selected to be the first single and it became a big hit in the UK reaching #2. Thanks to that result, the album became their most successful reaching #1 and going platinum five months after its release. In the States, the song would be a hit on Rock radio getting to #14. It then crossed over to the Pop chart for a couple of months. The album would also be their most successful in the US getting to #47. In the UK, the band continued to be successful gathering nine Top 10 albums and five Top 10 hits. Fish would leave the band in 1988. He would be replaced with Steve Hogarth, who is still fronting the band.

ReduxReview:  While this song played well on rock radio, I almost think it was just a bit too mature for the 80s US pop audience, who were none too keen on accepting prog rock into the mainstream. That's too bad because it ranks among the best rock ballads of the decade. Fish, who to me sounds like Peter Gabriel's musical brother (in a good way), does great work conveying the regret found within the lyrics. On the album this song segues into the next track "Lavender," which is just as lovely (and was a #5 hit in the UK). The two songs paired together are really wonderful. Marillion was one of those bands that were enormously successful in the UK and Europe, but for some reason their music just didn't catch on in the States. That's a shame. At least they made somewhat of a mark with this song.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The original name of the band was Silmarillion. They got the name from the 1977 J.R.R. Tolkien book The Silmarillion. The band later decided to cut down the name to just Marillion fearing that using the full name might invoke a copyright lawsuit. The Silmarillion was supposed to be Tolkien's follow-up to 1937's The Hobbit, but his publishers rejected it. Tolkien then went on to write and publish the sequel to The Hobbit, 1954's The Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion wouldn't see the light of day until the author's son got it published in 1977, four years after Tolkien had died.  2) The woman who appeared in the video for this song was German model Tamara Nowy. She would also be featured in two more of the band's videos. She and Fish would end up married in 1987. They would divorce later in 2003.


Friday, August 3, 2018

"Remo's Theme (What If)" by Tommy Shaw

Song#:  2484
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  81
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Shaw's first post-Styx solo outing Girl with Guns did fairly well. It got to #50 thanks to the title track getting to #6 at Rock (#33 Pop). As he was readying his follow-up album, Shaw got the opportunity to contribute a song to the soundtrack for the action film Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He wrote "Remo's Theme (What If)" and the song's subtitle became the name of his second album. It was issued out as a single prior to the release of the film and Shaw's album. It made a small dent in the Rock chart getting to #18, but it couldn't dig itself out of the Pop chart basement. It probably didn't help that the film was a box office dud and that there was no official soundtrack album issued at the time. Shaw's second single from the album, "Jealousy," couldn't get on any chart and with that the album came-n-went peaking at a low #87.

ReduxReview:  This song starts off with a good riff and an energetic "hey!" from Shaw and I like how the bridge sounds a little anxious like it is going to lead to something big, bold, and hooky. Yet the chorus ends up being a letdown. It doesn't match the intensity of the rest of the song and the main melody starts high and sinks to low note and it feels like it just drifts off to nowhere like an unfinished thought. It weakens what is otherwise a pretty peppy track.  

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Actor Fred Ward took on the lead role in Remo Williams, which was based on paperback book series The Destroyer. The film was supposed to be the first of several based on the books, but plans were quickly scrapped when the movie tanked at the box office. The movie cost a reported $40 million to make and it could only manage to recoup a mere $14 million in ticket sales. The books, however, continued to be consistent sellers over the years. The original book, Created, The Destroyer, was first published in 1971. Since then there have been over 150 books written for the series. As of this posting date, they are still going with Continental Divide being issued in January, 2018.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

"Who's Zoomin' Who" by Aretha Franklin

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2483
Date:  09/28/1985
Debut:  51
Peak:  7
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  With a new fresh sound, Franklin came roaring back with the big #3 hit "Freeway of Love." She certainly showed that she could still rule the charts in the new wave/synthpop 80s and this follow-up single provided further proof. The track would reach #1 at Dance, #2 R&B, and #10 AC while becoming her 16th Pop Top 10. It would be the fourth time in her career that an album of hers generated two Pop Top 10 hits and it was her first to do so since 1972's Young, Gifted and Black.

ReduxReview:   This was another terrific track for Franklin and as usual, she sings the bejezzus out of it. I always thought a line of this song was funny. During the chorus, all my ears could hear was "fish are jumpin' out for dinner babe" and I thought "what the hell does that mean?" Of course I found out later that the line is "fish jumped off the hook, didn't I babe," which makes much more sense! Franklin just kind of sings it quickly and the words mash together. Yet still today I envision Franklin sittin' down to a plate full of fried fish and singing "ooo-ooo babe!"

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Franklin co-wrote this song with producer Narada Michael Walden and Preston Glass. The title and the line "fish jumped off the hook" were taken from a conversation Walden had with Franklin prior to recording the album. When he asked her to describe what she would do on a fun night out, she said she'd go to the clubs and connect eyes with someone and find out "who's zooming who" and just when the guy thinks he's got her, "the fish jumps off the hook." When the song was first completed, Franklin really didn't like it. However, at the urging of label head Clive Davis, Franklin went ahead and recorded it. The song was the first one recorded for the album.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

"The Screams of Passion" by The Family

Song#:  2482
Date:  09/28/1985
Debut:  75
Peak:  63
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  In 1984, Morris Day and Jesse Johnson left Prince-developed band The Time after a successful run that including their appearance in the film Purple Rain. With only three members remaining in the Prince camp, the band basically disintegrated. Yet Prince wasn't done with his pet side project and decided to create a new band using the three remaining members. He brought in two new people to create the quintet he named The Family. Yet just like The Time, Prince used the band as an outlet for his own music and he wrote, produced, and played nearly every instrument on the songs intended for the new group. Prince would then just substitute his vocals with those of the band members and perhaps overdub and instrument line or two from them. The band, of course, would fully participate on their concert dates, just as The Time did. Six vocal tracks and two instrumentals make up The Family's self-titled debut album and this track was selected to be the first single. It did well at R&B (#9) and Dance (#10), but it couldn't get a real foothold on the Pop chart and fell off after a few weeks. A second single, "High Fashion," would get to #34 R&B and then that would be it for The Family. Lead singer St. Paul (aka Paul Peterson) chose to leave and after that, Prince just decided to fold the band for good.

ReduxReview:  Well, I guess it was good for Prince to use this off-shoot group to do his experiments instead of releasing them under his own name. A project like The Family allowed him to try out things before incorporating elements into his own recordings, such as the two jazzy instrumentals on the album. But like most experiments, not everything always works. This specific song was certainly a Prince track, but it sounded more like b-side filler. It's basically a single groove with a near-monotone melody that doesn't really go anywhere. The strings add some interest later in the song, but it just gets a bit boring after a while and I lose interest. The Family is an interesting artifact in the world of Prince, but didn't contain a lot of great material, save for one song (see below).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) One of the new band members was vocalist Susannah Melvoin. She was the twin sister of Revolution member Wendy Melvoin (also of Wendy & Lisa). After The Family was dissolved, Susannah continued to work with Prince over the years. She was also a songwriter and co-wrote a song with Prince ("Starfish and Coffee") and one with Madonna ("Candy Perfume Girl").  2) The Family actually became more famous later on for a song that first appeared on their album. "Nothing Compares 2 U" was written by Prince and recorded for The Family. Vocal overdubs by Family members St. Paul and Susannah Melvoin would be added later along with the string arrangement. The song was not issued out as a single and it would have just disappeared had it not been for an Irish singer that found and recorded a version of the tune. Sinéad O'Connor's debut album The Lion and the Cobra was an unexpected gold selling hit in 1987. As she prepped her second album a couple years later, it was suggested to O'Connor that she cover "Nothing Compares 2 U." She did and it was released as a single in 1990. It quickly became a worldwide #1 smash and the song's associated video won Video of the Year at the MTV Video Awards. It took folks a long while to realize it was originally a Prince-penned tune done by The Family, whose album had been out of print for years. Due to the success of the song, The Family's album would be reissued in several countries. Prince's own original recording of the song would be issued out in 2018 following the superstar's death.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Object of My Desire" by Starpoint

Song#:  2481
Date:  09/28/1985
Debut:  76
Peak:  25
Weeks:  24
Genre:  R&B, Electro-Funk, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This Maryland band started to form sometime around 1969 when Kayode Adeyemo met up with the four Phillips brothers (George, Ernesto, Gregory, and Orlando). They developed their sound and skills over the next few years and along the way added lead vocalist Renée Diggs. By 1978 the band was ready for the big time and they signed on with Chocolate City, a subsidiary of Casablanca Records. Their self-titled debut appeared in 1980 and over the course of four albums, they were able to grab eight minor R&B chart entries. With the closure of Chocolate City, the band moved over to Casablanca for two albums with each one sporting a Top 20 R&B hit, but they weren't really breaking through in a big way. Then Casablanca folded and the band got pushed over to the parent company Elektra for their seventh album, Restless. This final label change seemed to make a difference as this first single finally got them a wider audience. The song would be their first R&B Top 10 getting to #8 while crossing over to the Pop Top 30 and #12 Dance. It would be their biggest hit and the LP would be the best selling of their career.

ReduxReview:  This song had a great beat, hot groove, top-notch production, hooky chorus, and excellent vocals by Diggs. So how in the world did this not get into the Pop Top 10? It's a true mystery as this song had "hit" written all over it. My guess is that if this had been released a year or two later, it would have done better. I think '85 was still a transition year for R&B tracks trying to get more into the mainstream, especially on MTV. Things were progressing and there were some solid hits crossing over, but there was no reason this tune should have stopped so early at Pop.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The original name of the band was Licyndiana. Apparently, Ernesto Phillips came up with the moniker based on the names of his mother and two sisters. While the unique name was a nice tribute to his family, it didn't exactly roll off the tongue. When they got signed to Chocolate City, it was suggested by the keyboardist they were working with, Marvin Ennis, that a name change might be in order and he suggested Starpoint. The band members liked it and updated their name in time for their debut album. Although Licyndiana would no longer be the band's name, Phillips did use it for the name of his publishing company.


Monday, July 30, 2018

"Like to Get to Know You Well" by Howard Jones

Song#:  2480
Date:  09/28/1985
Debut:  81
Peak:  49
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Jones' second album Dream Into Action was a #10 platinum seller thanks to two Top 20 hits including the #5 "Things Can Only Get Better." Hoping to keep the momentum up, this third single was released. At first it looked like the song would be able to get inside the Pop Top 40, but then it suddenly stalled just inside the top half of the chart. It would be the last single from the album released in the US.

ReduxReview:  This reggae-tinged track complete with synth generated steel drums was a real highlight from the album. It had a very hooky chorus but for some reason it just didn't click in the US. I really thought it would, especially since it had been a sizable hit in many other countries. It might not have been Top 10-worthy, but it certainly should have done much better.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was actually released in the UK in the summer of '84 as a stand-alone single. It did well there reaching #4 on the chart. An extended version of the song called the "International Mix" was included on the stop-gap album of remixes released in the UK as The 12" Album. The single and album were issued out while Jones was working on Dream Into Action. Once that album was ready for release in the UK, "Like to Get to Know You Well" was not included. Therefore, at the time the only way you could get the song was via the single or in the remixed version on The 12" Album. When Dream Into Action was prepped for US release, two songs were dropped from the UK version ("Speciality" and "Why Look for the Key") and replaced with "Like to Get to Know You Well" and "Bounce Right Back." The UK would see these two songs on a later CD edition of Dream Into Action while the US would get the two dropped songs on the upcoming EP Action Replay.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

"I'll Be Good" by René & Angela

Song#:  2479
Date:  09/28/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  47
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Singer Angela Winbush was learning the ropes of the music business working with Stevie Wonder and becoming part of his backing group, Wonderlove. While with Wonder in L.A., Winbush happened to meet musician René Moore. The pair hit it off and in 1979 decided to become a duo. They were signed by Capitol Records and over the course of three albums they were able to score six Top 40 R&B singles including their biggest to-date 1983's "My First Love" (#12). They were doing well, but not breaking through in a major way. After a label switch to Mercury, the pair recorded their fourth album Street Called Desire. The first single from the album, "Save Your Love (For #1)," gave them a big boost by reaching #1 on the R&B chart and staying there for two weeks. Unfortunately, the song couldn't quite make the Pop chart, but this second single did. It nearly made the Pop Top 40 while hitting #4 at R&B and #7 Dance. The pair of hits helped the album sell well and the duo were on their way.

ReduxReview:  I remember two things about René & Angela - the hook on this song and the album's cover. There was something cool about the purple street scene, the red/yellow writing, and the duo's pose that caught my attention. I nearly bought the album, but did not. They were obviously talented people who had recorded three decent LPs, but this album is where they truly came into their own and took it to a new level. "Save Your Love" was a tasty track with its rap, but it didn't click at Pop, which is too bad. They had better luck with this smooth groovin' track. At minimum, it really should have reached the Top 40, but at least it did well enough to get them a bigger audience.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Their R&B hit "My First Love" was originally written by the duo for Janet Jackson. René and Angela were tapped to work on Jackson's 1982 self-titled solo debut album. They ended up co-writing and co-producing four songs for the a-side of the album including the lead single "Young Love," which made it to #6 R&B and #64 Pop. They were hoping to get "My First Love" on the album, but apparently Jackson passed on the song. The duo kept the tune in their back pocket and finally just decided to record it themselves for their third album. It was the LP's second single and it became the duo's biggest hit up to that point. The song was later covered by R&B singer Avant. His version, done with singer Keke Wyatt, was the second single from his 2000 debut album and it got to #4 R&B and #26 Pop.