Saturday, September 29, 2018

"Everything Must Change" by Paul Young

Song#:  2542
Date:  11/23/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  56
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Blue-Eyes Soul, Pop

Pop Bits:  Young's second album The Secret of Association had already yielded a couple of hits that were remakes including the #1 "Everytime You Go Away." For the third single, it was decided that this original tune written by Young and Ian Kewley would be released. In the UK, this was the second single issued out from the album and the song did well getting to #9. However, it couldn't find an big audience in the US and the song stalled before it could get into the top half of the chart. Oddly, the ballad failed to reach the AC chart where "Everytime" had hit #1.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure why this song didn't do better. It is a little bit like "Everytime You Go Away" and so folks may have considered it a rehash of that hit. But I think the tune stands well on its own. While the production probably sounded good back in the day, I think listening now it overwhelms the song. It could have used a lighter touch to help the melody and lyrics come out. Still, it's a bit of a surprise that AC radio didn't latch onto this as it seemed like a good fit for the format. I think this song could still work today if the right artist picked it up for a remake.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The co-writer of this song, Ian Kewley, got his first major break in a UK rock band called Strider. They would issue two album in the early 70s, but not much came from them. Kewley co-wrote several songs for the band in addition to performing keyboards and vocals (mainly lead vocals on their first album). He then moved to a band called Limey that got signed to MCA Records. Again, two LPs were recorded that resulted in little notice. Next up was a spot in the new wave/blue-eyed soul band Q-Tips. That band was signed to Chrysalis and issued out a debut LP in 1980. Despite some good promo including TV appearances, the band wasn't catching on. They broke up when their lead singer, Paul Young, got signed as a solo act. Kewley would move along and assist Young on his first three solo efforts. Kewley would mainly contribute as a songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist during that time.


Friday, September 28, 2018

"Morning Desire" by Kenny Rogers

Song#:  2541
Date:  11/23/1985
Debut:  88
Peak:  72
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Rogers' 1984 album What About Me? was another platinum seller for him, but it wasn't quite as popular as his previous albums with only the title track becoming a moderate #15 hit at Pop. Another single, "Crazy," would hit #1 at Country, but with Rogers trying to balance on a thin line between country and pop, it seemed both audiences were not sure whether they were on board with him or not. For his next effort, Rogers decided to move in a more AC direction and brought on famed Beatles producer George Martin to help craft the album The Heart of the Matter. This track was selected to be the first single and despite being a pop tune at heart, the song took off at Country and became Rogers' twelfth #1 on that chart. AC also responded well taking the song to #8. However, it was pretty much ignored at Pop and the single faltered in the lower part of the chart. It would end up being his last song to reach the Pop chart for 15 years. The album would become his last to reach #1 on the Country chart based on the strength of this song and a second #1 "Tomb of the Unknown Love." With his crossover days fading, Rogers would return to a more country-oriented sound on his following albums. He'd have five more Top 10's at Country including two #1's. One of those would be his last significant entry on the Pop chart - 1999's "Buy Me a Rose," which he did in collaboration with Alison Krauss and Billy Dean. The song would make it to #40 at Pop.

ReduxReview:  This is a nice, easy listening track that seemed to work just fine for country fans. I think it was just too subtle and adult for pop radio at the time. The production by Martin is quite lovely and fit the song perfectly, but is definitely of its time. The real highlight of the song though is the work by jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan. His work on the outro was terrific. For what would end up being Rogers' last major foray into pop music, this was a pretty ballad to go out on.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by singer/songwriter Dave Loggins. Loggins was a bit of a one-hit wonder of the 70's with his #5 hit "Please Come to Boston." While his solo career didn't much pan out after that, he wrote plenty of hits for other artists including Juice Newton's 1985 Country #1 "You Make me Want to Make You Mine." Although he didn't write the tune, a duet he did with Ann Murray titled "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" got #1 on the Country chart in 1984. Rogers personally asked Loggins to write a new tune for his album and he came up with "Morning Desire." According to Loggins, the first line he wrote for the song was "The thunder sounds like horses hoofs." It was from there that the song flowed. When it came time to record the tune, Rogers asked for that line to be changed, but Loggins thought it was the most important lyric in the song and refused. Rogers decided to sing the song as written and it turned out to be a good thing since it went to #1 at Country.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

"The Sweetest Taboo" by Sade

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2540
Date:  11/23/1985
Debut:  90
Peak:  5
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Sophisti-Pop, Adult Contemporary, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  This band made a sleek, groovy splash with the #5 "Smooth Operator," a track from their debut album Diamond Life. The hit would help them win a Grammy for Best New Artist. Now faced with the task of following-up their multi-platinum first effort, the band went back to the studio to record their second set titled Promise. This first single was issued out and it initially got off to a slow start. But the song started to gain momentum and soon it would reach #1 at AC and #3 R&B. At Pop it would become their second single to reach the #5 spot. With the song doing doing well, it sparked sales of the album and it would be their first to hit #1. Like their debut, Promise would also eventually sell over 4-million copies in the US.

ReduxReview:  Oh man, this is a delicious groove. It's smooth and sexy with Sade's breathy, yearning vocals leading the way. This song is basically just one long jam that doesn't change much, but you hardly notice it due to the excellent arrangement that keeps things moving and interesting. This is prime quiet storm material (which even the lyrics state) and it is even bookended by rain effects. This is a song you just melt into and let your mind drift off to a warm, tropical paradise where the evening is bringing in a soothing storm.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Around this time, band leader Sade Adu got cast in her first film. She got a co-starring role in the Julian Temple-directed musical film Absolute Beginners. The film starred a few other musicians including David Bowie, Ray Davies, and Patsy Kensit. Kensit started out acting, but then fronted the UK band Eighth Wonder beginning in 1983. The movie would go on to be a bit of a box office bomb, but the soundtrack did much better reaching #62 thanks to Bowie's #9 Rock/#53 Pop title track. As for Sade, besides videos for her music she never acted in another film.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Silent Running" by Mike + the Mechanics

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2539
Date:  11/23/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  6
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Phil Collins wasn't the only member of Genesis to do their own works/projects outside of the band. Mike Rutherford also ventured out during the 80s. He recorded two solo albums, 1980's Smallcreep's Day and 1982's Acting Very Strange, but nothing much came from them save the #39 Rock track "Maxine" from the second LP. Rutherford wasn't very pleased with either of the albums and in the end he didn't much care for working on his own. He preferred to work in a collaborative environment and so for his third project he began writing and recording songs with other musicians, specifically with producer Christopher Neil. As the project took shape, a band slowly started to form that eventually became Mike + the Mechanics. This time around, Rutherford decided not to do the lead vocal work and brought in two vocalists for the project/band, Paul Carrack and Paul Young. Carrack had already had some success with the band Ace ("How Long," #3, 1974) and on his own ("I Need You," #37, 1982). Young, not to be confused with the UK hit making singer, had done well with his band Sad CafĂ© ("La-Di-Da," #78, 1981). They both became permanent members and were featured on the band's self-titled debut album. This first single, sung by Carrack, was issued out. It took a little time for the tune to catch on, but it eventually it would reach #1 at Rock, #6 Pop, and #7 AC. The album would make it to #26 and eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  It's dark, it's mysterious, it's atmospheric, it's sci-fi themed, and the title is not in the lyrics. These things don't necessarily describe a hit song and yet for this particular one, it all worked. Admittedly, it took me a little bit to warm up to this tune, but once I did it was hard to get out of my head. It sets a moody tone right off the top and never lets up. It was different than other fare on pop radio and it stood out. The album was quite good too. I thought the whole thing was a bit of a take-off (not necessarily rip-off) on The Alan Parsons Project with the sci-fi themes, concise pop tunes, big ballads, varied vocalists, and the production. Yet it was done well enough to stand on its own without confusing the two artists. It was here that Rutherford proved that Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel weren't the only ones from Genesis who could have Top 10 hits outside of the band.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although this track was simply titled "Silent Running" on the album, it would later get a title update when issued as a single. It became "Silent Running (On Dangerous Grounds)" after the song was selected to be in the 1986 film On Dangerous Grounds. In the US where the film was made the title was Choke Canyon, but it was changed to On Dangerous Grounds for release in other countries such as the UK where the band hails from. The movie, which starred Stephen Collins, was not a critical or box office success.  2) Although "running" is heard in the chorus, the full title of the song is not included in the lyrics, which has a sci-fi/time travel elements to them. According to a story on American Top 40, when Rutherford was pondering a title for the song, he happened to remember the 1972 sci-fi film Silent Running that starred Bruce Dern. Although Rutherford's song has nothing to do with the film, the sci-fi connection led him using the title. Yet in another interview with Songfacts, Rutherford said that at the time the song was being written, he had not seen the film. Perhaps both could be true, but then again, it could have been coincidence. (On a side note, two songs were written for the 1972 film including one titled "Silent Running," which was performed by Joan Baez.)


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"Talk to Me" by Stevie Nicks

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2538
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  66
Peak:  4
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Following the success of her second album The Wild Heart, Nicks had some time on her hands due to Fleetwood Mac's ongoing hiatus. Therefore, she moved ahead and began work on a third solo effort. In addition to her regular producer Jimmy Iovine, Nicks also worked with Rick Nowels and Keith Olsen. They helped to modernize her sound and outfit her songs in a more contemporary fashion using the new technology of the day. The resulting album, Rock a Little, had a slicker, more commercial feel to it and this first single was a perfect example. The track is one of only two on the album not written or co-written by Nicks. It was written and co-produced by Chas Sandford who had recently scored a big #1 co-writing John Waits' "Missing You." While this song wouldn't do quite as well as Waits' classic track, it did hit #1 at Rock and #14 AC while becoming Nicks' fifth Pop Top 10 outside of Fleetwood Mac. Unfortunately, it would also be her last single to reach the Pop Top 10. The album would end up at #12 and eventually go platinum, but that was a dip in sales compared to her previous two multi-platinum LPs.

ReduxReview:  This is definitely Nicks at her most commercial. This was pure pop fodder with a big memorable chorus that was meant for airplay. Apparently, Nicks was not liking the song as she was having a hard time singing it, but that certainly didn't show in the final version. She gave a great performance and the production was spot-on for the song and the time period. Iovine picked the song for Nicks and it was a solid choice. I liked it enough to immediately buy the album. That said, this song did seem like a big commercial stab with Nicks in full pop diva mode. She's not the "white which" here weaving her magic. While she made the song hers, this tune could have been knocked out by any other pop diva. I've always thought this would have been an ideal single for Belinda Carlisle. So while it was a good pop hit moment for Nicks, it lacked a bit of what made Nicks a special artist.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Nicks first started to record songs for the album back in 1984. It was to be titled Mirror Mirror after one of the songs she recorded. Nicks recorded many songs and demos for potential inclusion on the album, but when it came time to assemble the tracks, Nicks was unhappy with the way they were recorded and decided to shelve the songs and start fresh. Some of the songs from those sessions were eventually released or re-recorded for other albums including "Battle of the Dragon," a song Nicks did with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers that found its way to the soundtrack of the 1986 film American Anthem. She also did a version of the song "Tied Up" that was a #38 hit for Olivia Newton-John in 1983. That recording remains unofficially released, but it can be found on YouTube along with several others from the sessions.


Monday, September 24, 2018

"Sidewalk Talk" by Jellybean

Song#:  2537
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  80
Peak:  18
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  John "Jellybean" Benitez was an up-n-coming DJ/remixer in New York whose career got a significant boost after meeting a singer at a club. Her name was Madonna and it wasn't long before she and Jellybean were in a relationship. It happened at a time when Madonna was starting to get her solo career going. Jellybean would remix songs from Madonna's debut album and would produce her first Pop chart hit, the #16 "Holiday." With his name and work getting attention via Madonna's successful debut album, Jellybean decided to do a project of his own. As Madonna was beginning to prep her second LP, Jellybean asked her to write a song for his project. She dug up an idea she had initially though of for her first album, finished it off and gave it to Jellybean. The song was "Sidewalk Talk" and he got it recorded for an EP titled Wotupski!?! In addition to writing the song, Madonna provided some of the vocals. The tune was issued out as a single and it got to #1 on the Dance chart. It also did fairly well at Pop getting into the Top 20 while going to #51 at R&B. Unfortunately, Jellybean and Madonna only stayed together a couple of years. She would become a worldwide superstar while he would be an in-demand remixer/producer that would grab nine of his own Dance Top 10's including three #1's.

ReduxReview:  There was no mistake that this was a Madonna track. It definitely sounded like an outtake from her debut album, especially with her voice prominent in the chorus. It's a good track, but when it comes down to it, this became popular after folks figured out the Madonna connection. If she didn't write and sing on this track, it probably would have been tagged as a Madonna rip-off and ignored. Even today it is associated with Madonna. I mentioned the song a bit ago with friends and one person spoke up and said "oh, that's an old Madonna song, right?" I supposed that's not bad, but it does make me feel that Jellybean wasn't shy about using his Madonna connection to boost his own career. I can't blame him though. I probably would have too. Yet in the end, this tune became a forgotten relic in Madonna's history and no one speaks of Jellybean anymore. Apparently he works for SiriusXM and produces a Studio 54 show/channel.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was not Jellybean's first charting song. Just prior to this hit, another song of his, "The Mexican," became a popular club track and it ended up becoming his first #1 at Dance. The song was actually a remake of one originally recorded by the UK rock band Babe Ruth. Written by band member Alan Shacklock, it was recorded for the band's 1972 debut album First Base. The song also used portions of Ennio Morricone's score from the film For a Few Dollars More, so Morricone received a songwriting credit. While it wasn't issue as a single, it did evade obscurity to become an influential track in hip-hop music. It was sung by Jenny Haan, who Jellybean tapped to do the vocals on his version.  2) The lead vocal credit on this song was given to Catharine Buchanan. Buchanan does the verse/rap section while Madonna takes over on the chorus. Despite being prominently featured on the hit, it seems that Buchanan couldn't parlay it into her own career. She moved to London a bit later and did get to do one single in Europe for Arista titled "Love Is," but nothing came from it. Apparently, she did continue to work in music for a while and was also a florist. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2002.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

"A Love Bizarre" by Sheila E.

Song#:  2536
Date:  11/16/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  11
Weeks:  23
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  With an assist from Prince, Sheila E. established herself with her #7 debut single "The Glamorous Life," which made her album of the same name a gold seller. Her association with Prince spilled over into her second LP Romance 1600. The first single issued from the album, "Sister Fate," didn't catch on. The song peaked at a minor #36 at R&B while not even reaching the Pop or Dance charts. With that song failing to launch, the label quickly issued out this next single to try and get things going. With Prince helping out on vocals, the jam slowly caught on and eventually became a #1 Dance track while going to #2 R&B. This time around, Pop radio embraced the tune and it nearly made the Top 10 peaking at the dreaded #11. It would be Sheila E.'s last single to get into the Pop Top 40. The hit helped spark album sales and soon it would be a certified gold seller.

ReduxReview:  On the album, this song is a very, very long 12-minute jam. For no real reason. After the main section of the song is done around the 4-minute mark, there is just a lengthy 8-minutes of not much going on. There is some noodling solo work along the way, but there was nothing to warrant such a long end to the tune, except perhaps as album filler because they couldn't get another song done in time. Whatever the reason, it's a total bore. Thankfully, there was a single version which took the monotone jam with it's four-note melody and made it listenable. In reality, there is barely a hint of a song here. However, it works because Prince created a tight jam that was interesting and it sounded unique on the radio. It's certainly fun to groove to for a few minutes, but after that, I lose interest.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although all the tracks on the album were credited as written and produced by Sheila E. (save for this song, which also credited Prince for writing/production), it was another case of Prince not taking full credit for the work. Of the album's eight tracks, Prince mainly wrote and produced seven of them with input from Sheila E. The only track Sheila E. wrote on her own was the instrumental piece "Merci for the Speed of a Mad Clown in Summer."