Saturday, August 11, 2018

"You're in Love" by Ratt

Song#:  2492
Date:  10/12/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  89
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  This glam metal band just barely scratched the Pop Top 40 with "Lay It Down," the first single from their second album Invasion of Your Privacy. The LP would be a double-platinum seller that peaked at #7 thanks to that song and this second single, which made it to #34 on the Rock chart. It didn't do as well at Pop peaking where it debuted and only spending a couple of weeks on the chart.

ReduxReview:  This album-opening track shouldn't (and definitely wouldn't) be confused with the sweet Wilson Phillips #1 of the same name! The song is another quality effort from the band and I'm a little surprised it didn't do better on the charts. It has a hooky chorus and a jammin' groove, so I'm not sure why it didn't get a lot more attention. Sure, it's not to the level of "Round and Round," but it was certainly radio-ready rock.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The woman who appeared on the cover of Invasion of Your Privacy is model Marianne Gravatte. She also appeared in the video to "Lay It Down." Gravatte gained national attention when she became Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1983. Ratt lead vocalist Stephen Pearcy spotted her and got her hired on to play his girlfriend in the video along with being on the album cover. That cover came out at a time when the PMRC (Parents Musical Resource Center) was on the rampage to get labels to assign ratings to their products. Although Ratt wasn't as big of a target as artists like Prince or Madonna, they were called out for the album cover due to its image and its voyeuristic title.


Friday, August 10, 2018

"Separate Lives" by Phil Colllins and Marilyn Martin

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2491
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  45
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  As Collins' Grammy-winning album No Jacket Required was getting ready to be released, he got an opportunity to record a song for an upcoming film titled White Nights directed by Taylor Hackford. Collins already had solid history with Hackford through the director's previous film Against All Odds. Collins' theme song ended up being his first solo #1 hit. However, this time around Collins would not write a song for the movie. That duty went to singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop, who sent the tune to Collins to see if he would do the vocals. Collins love it and decided to sing, co-produce, and play drums on the track. The song was originally a solo piece, but it was changed to a duet and Collins was paired up with background singer Marilyn Martin. Once completed, it would be the first single released from the soundtrack. It was issued out over two months ahead of the film's debut and the timing was perfect. The song hit #1 just a week after the movie's debut. It would be Collins' fourth #1 as a solo artist.

ReduxReview:  With its languid, near a cappella opening, it's amazing that radio stations picked this up back in the day. But since Collins' name was attached I'm sure they tossed it on just because he was a hot commodity at the time. The song revs up once the chorus hits and Martin joins in. This song's production sounded like it had David Fosters' hands all over it, but it was just Collins with Hugh Padgham and Arif Mardin doing a really good impersonation. The verses on this song are just kind of meh for me. The chorus is much better, but what makes the song is the mid section that builds wonderfully to the final chorus. It's worth hacking through the jungle to get a peak at the good stuff.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Singer Marilyn Martin got a break when the band she was fronting ended up with an opening spot on a tour that featured Joe Walsh and Stevie Nicks. After making connections via the tour, Martin moved to L.A. and began to do session work with some of the artists from the tour including Nicks, who supplied Martin with the song "Sorcerer," which Martin recorded for the soundtrack to the 1984 film Streets of Fire. That song got her a deal with Atlantic and her first assignment was this song with Collins. She would follow it up with a debut solo album in 1986.  2) Stephen Bishop wrote and recorded two songs for the 1978 hit comedy Animal House including the title track. He also has a small part in the film. That was where he met Karen Allen, who was making her acting debut in the film. The two hit it off and their relationship lasted for several years before coming to an end. Bishop wrote "Separate Lives" about his breakup with Allen. Bishop would record his own solo version of the song for a 1986 album titled Sleeping with Girls. The album ended up getting a limited release in a minor few territories.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

"One of the Living" by Tina Turner

Song#:  2490
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  52
Peak:  15
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Turner's first major foray into films came when she played Auntie Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. In addition to being in the film, Turner supplied two new songs to the soundtrack including the #2 hit "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)." This other track was released as a follow-up single. It did best at Dance reaching #6 while getting inside the Pop Top 20 and making a #41 showing at R&B.

ReduxReview:  I remember seeing an interview or reading an article where Turner always loved rock music and that was what she wanted to sing. Even with Ike, she was always leaning into rock territory but it wasn't until her solo days and songs like this that she was really able to bang out some solid, straight-ahead rock. This edgier tune was perfect for her and the production was dense and meaty. I loved it, but wasn't sure if it would make it very far on the Pop chart. To my surprise, it got inside the Top 20. I had always hoped that Turner would make a full-on rock album where she would just tear through heavier tunes, but she ended up staying more on the pop side of things as time went on. Luckily, she did a few songs like this that certainly showed off her rock prowess.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  By this point in time, Turner had won four Grammy awards. Three were related to her comeback album Private Dancer while the other one was when she was with Ike Turner. This song would earn her a fifth Grammy. She won in the Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female, category. The song was written by Holly Knight and produced by Mike Chapman. Knight and Chapman were co-writers on the hit track from Private Dancer, "Better Be Good to Me" (#5 Pop), which had earned Turner a Grammy in the same category the previous year.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

"Soul Kiss" by Olivia Newton-John

Song#:  2489
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  63
Peak:  20
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Although Newton-John hadn't released a full solo studio album since 1981's Physical, she was still active on the charts grabbing four Top 40 entries including two Top 10's: the #3 hits compilation track "Heart Attack" and the #5 movie theme "Twist of Fate." With space finally cleared up in her schedule, Newton-John headed back to the studio with her long-time producer John Farrar to record the new album Soul Kiss. The title track was selected to be the first single and was issued out ahead of the LP. The song was making a steady climb up the chart and seemed like it might earn her another Pop Top 10, but then it stalled just as it hit #20. It did the exact same at AC. It was the first time since 1977 that she did not score a Top 10 hit with the lead-off single from an album. It was a disappointment and it was a real shot to her charting career as this song would be her last to reach the Pop Top 40. Somehow, the album still managed to reach gold-level sales. It would be her final studio album to get that certification.

ReduxReview:  Ever since Newton-John turned from a country/pop bumpkin into a sexy kitten via Grease, her music became more pop-oriented with shades of adult innuendo. It paid off big time with her mega #1 hit "Physical" and several more Top 10's. When it came time for the new album, for whatever reason she decided to amp up the sex and she went from slightly wink-wink naught to nearly slutty (a la Sheena Easton). The Playboy-ish Herb Ritts cover shot only teased at the songs inside that focused on sex including a three-way ("Culture Shock"), being seduced by a doctor ("Overnight Observation"), and this single that talks about her hunger for a "soul kiss," which was typically a term for open-mouth kissing. I think she jumped the shark with this album and the results pretty much attest to that. However, even though the album is a mess, I've always kind of liked it. There is some good synthpop tracks that are fun listens and then there is this sleek and sultry title track that I've always felt was underrated. The repetitive bass line groove is slinky, Newton-John's breathy performance is on the money, and it's a perfect sexy-night-by-the-fire track. It actually may have been just a little too mature for a pop audience and they didn't connect with lovely Olivia gettin' down on this tune. The Soul Kiss album is by no means a good one. It was a failed experiment. However, it's a curiosity that I like to dig out and listen to once in a great while.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The album's opening track, "Toughen Up," was issued out as the follow-up single, but it failed to reach any chart. It was written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, the team who had been handing Tina Turner some hits. Originally the team pitched this to Turner for the follow-up album to her big comeback hit Private Dancer. Despite the empowerment lyrics, apparently Turner didn't think the song was very strong and chose not to record it. Newton-John then picked it up but found out later that perhaps Turner was correct in her assessment.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

"The Night Is Still Young" by Billy Joel

Song#:  2488
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  65
Peak:  34
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Joel released his first retrospective compilation a long ways into his career. It took a double-CD set to cover all the highlights and was titled Greatest Hits - Volume 1 & Volume II. In addition to hits and other key tracks, Joel also included two new songs for the release including the set's first single, the #9 hit "You're Only Human (Second Wind)." This other new tune was then issued out as a follow-up. It didn't do nearly as well, but it did reach the Pop Top 40 while getting to #13 at AC.

ReduxReview:  This is a Joel song that I really like, but it doesn't make for a very good single. It's moody, atmospheric, and it kind of meanders. Yet I bought the 45 because it hit the right tone for me. I still enjoy hearing this on occasion. It's just different from his more radio-friendly fare. While it didn't do too bad on the charts, it certainly wasn't going to be counted among his most memorable hits. I'm surprised it actually got pushed out as a single, but once "You're Only Human" made the Top 10, they probably figured a follow-up was needed.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although the Greatest Hits collection covered his solo days, it did not include anything from his early career where he was part of several bands including The Lost Souls, The Hassles, and most infamously, Attila. In 1969, Joel and one of his bandmates from The Hassles, Jon Small, decided to form a two-man, psychedelic metal band where the two main instruments were drums and organ. Somehow, the duo got signed to Epic Records and proceeded to record a self-titled debut album. It was issued in 1970 and went absolutely nowhere. It might have stayed dead and buried had Joel's solo career not taken off. But since he did become a superstar, folks interested in his career dug up the album. Reviews of the album were quite terrible and even in one retrospective review of the album a critic stated that not only was it the worst album in rock music history, but of the entire history of music. Joel even said in later years that it was psychedelic bullshit. Nonetheless, it happened and at least one track from the Attila album made it on Joel's 2005 4-CD collection My Lives that mainly consisted of demos, b-sides, outtakes, and early material from his former bands The Lost Souls, The Hassles, and Attila. Another interesting factoid from Joel's Attila days, he ended up having an affair with the wife of his Attila bandmate. Joel ended up marrying Elizabeth Small in 1973. They divorced in 1982.


Monday, August 6, 2018

"Girls Are More Fun" by Ray Parker, Jr.

Song#:  2487
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  72
Peak:  34
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Following the success of "Ghostbusters" and a hits compilation, Parker, Jr. got back to the studio to work up his third studio solo album. He did all the writing, arranging, and production of the new project titled Sex and the Single Man. This track was selected to be released as the first single, but it didn't make much of an impression. The song stopped short of the R&B Top 20 at #21 while only making a brief appearance in the Pop Top 40. A second single, "One Sided Love Affair," failed to reach any chart. With those results, the album sold poorly and was a low charter at both Pop and R&B. The failure of the album prompted Parker, Jr. to make a change and he left his home label Arista, where he'd been since 1978, for Geffen.

ReduxReview:  This track isn't all that bad, but it just seemed like a mashup of other songs. It was like Parker, Jr. was trying to rewrite "Ghostbusters" via Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" and Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." Even the video started out with a snippet of "Ghostbusters," so he was still trying to ride the wave of that hit. It sorta worked, but I'm guessing that some listeners had a been-there-done-that feeling about it and ignored the track. Plus with Parker, Jr. leaving Arista soon after, perhaps there might have been an issue regarding promotion of the single and album. MTV probably wasn't that supporting of the video either, which at one point had Parker, Jr. in drag. It was a kooky video for a quirky song that wasn't all that bad.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Before Parker, Jr. headed up his band Raydio in the late 70s, he was more known for his guitar work. Beginning in his mid teens, Parker, Jr. was doing well enough to be working in a house band at a Detroit hot spot club. That led to touring work for artists like The Spinners, Stevie Wonder, and Barry White, and studio work for the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland writing/production team. He developed his songwriting along the way and got his first hit as a songwriter with one he co-wrote with Chaka Khan titled "You Got the Love." Recorded by Rufus for their second album Rags to Rufus, it reached #1 R&B/#11 Pop in 1974.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

"Party All the Time" by Eddie Murphy

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  2486
Date:  10/05/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  2
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  By 1985, Eddie Murphy's career was in overdrive. The former SNL alumni was at his peak thanks to the mega hit film Beverly Hills Cop. Murphy could do about anything he wanted and that included making a music album. Murphy was no stranger to music. He sang in skits on SNL and performed comedic songs during his live shows. His first comedy album in 1982 included two music tracks, a parody of the Streisand/Summer duet "Enough Is Enough" and the novelty tune "Boogie in Your Butt," which was issued as a single and got to #56 on the R&B chart. Yet what he had not done was to write and sing legit serious songs. Murphy would write or co-write six songs for his debut studio album How Could It Be. He also got assists from a couple of famous friends, Stevie Wonder and Rick James. Wonder contributed two songs to the album while James would mainly write, arrange, produce, and perform on the lead single "Party All the Time." The song would be a significant hit nearly topping the Pop chart while getting to #8 R&B and #19 Dance. The single would be a platinum seller, which would then boost the album to gold-level sales. While critics may not have been all that kind to the project, it was another successful venture for the comedian.

ReduxReview:  I hated, hated this song when it came out. I thought it was one of the biggest turds of the decade. Although the groove put out by Rick James is solid, the tinker toy synth production sounded cheap (and sounds even worse now), the chorus was annoying, and the worst part was Murphy. He could carry a tune, but that didn't make him a real singer. His voice is thin and whiny with barely a trace of any style or skill. You get a real sense of that when James pops up singing. He basically mows down Murphy in just a few minor lines. Murphy is great when he's doing comedic songs or singing in skits, but as a legit music star he just didn't have the goods to really pull it off.

ReduxRating:  1/10

Trivia:  1) For the album's producer, Murphy didn't want to hire on a big name. He wanted someone that wouldn't overpower the situation or have a lot of ego going. He ended up hiring Aquil Fudge, who had very little experience but was eager to do the work. Fudge came about due to Murphy's Stevie Wonder connection. Fudge is Wonder's cousin. But just how much of a no-name was Fudge at the time? So much so that there was even a blurb in Billboard magazine that made the assumption that Aquil Fudge was just a pseudonym for Murphy. An issue or two later, the magazine published a little apology in one of their columns for making the mistake.  2) While this was certainly a feather in Murphy's cap when it came out, time hasn't been good to the song. The very 80s sounding track has been listed on several "worst song" lists including a 2016 New York Post readers' poll. Although Murphy would get one more minor Top 30 entry later in the decade and five more R&B entries, he's sometimes seen as a one-hit wonder. The song placed #87 on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.