Saturday, November 24, 2018

"Bop" by Dan Seals

Song#:  2598
Date:  01/25/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  42
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  After a successful run with his duo partner John Ford Coley, "England Dan" Seals set out on a solo career in 1980. He decided to move away from the duo's soft rock sound and head toward country music. His debut solo disc (and only one as England Dan Seals), Stones, was a crossover effort that yielded the #57 Pop entry "Late at Night," but country radio didn't bite. A second album fared even worse. Seals then moved over to the Liberty label and put out Rebel Heart. This time country folks took notice and Seals ended up with four country chart entries including the #10 "God Must Be a Cowboy." His next LP contained three more Top 10's, but it would be this single from his fourth album Won't Be Blue Anymore that would get him back on the Pop chart. The peppy tune would bolt up to #1 at Country while nearly making the Pop Top 40. It was also a hit at AC getting to #10. The hit helped his album get to #1 Country (#52 Pop) and go gold. It would be Seals' peak moment as a solo star. Although he would not get on the Pop chart again, Seals had a remarkable run of nine #1 songs in a row on the Country chart from '85-'88. He got two more in 1990, but his fortunes dwindled quickly when the new breed of country star (a la Garth Brooks) began to take over. Seals would pass away from cancer in 2009 at the age of 61.

ReduxReview:  Man, this brings back memories of the skating rink! When I DJ'd on adult skate night, this was the most requested song for a long time. People just loved it. Even younger kids thought it was a fun tune. It was a perfectly written song that appealed to a big cross section of folks. Even with it's janky 80s country-trying-to-be-pop production, it's still a great song and I still enjoy it. This really should have made it to the Pop Top 10, but by the mid-80s, country crossover tunes were just not being played anymore at pop radio so it kind of got the shaft. Had it been released three or four years earlier, it would have been an across the board smash. Still, it was highly successful and the charm of the song hasn't diminished a bit in all these years.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Paul Davis and Jennifer Kimball. Davis was familiar with writing hits and had a few of his own including 1982's "'65 Love Affair" (#6 Pop, #5 AC). He also wrote "Meet Me in Montana," which was the first single from Seals' Won't Be Blue Anymore album. The song was a duet between Seals and Marie Osmond. It would hit #1 at Country and kick off Seals' streak of hits. The pair won a CMA as Vocal Duo of the Year for the song.  2) Seals' older brother was Jim Seals of Seals & Crofts fame. That duo scored three Pop Top 10's in the late 70s all of which, oddly, peaked at #6 ("Summer Breeze," "Diamond Girl," and "Get Closer"). Dan and Jim would later get together and tour as Seals & Seals. They would perform versions of the chart hits each had earned over the years.


Friday, November 23, 2018

"Manic Monday" by The Bangles

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2597
Date:  01/25/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  2
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This all-female band formed as The Bangs in 1981. The new group honed their 60s influenced rock tunes in clubs before issuing out a self-distributed single. Quickly after that, a same-name legal issue forced them to do a name change. The quartet became the Bangles and their 1982 self-titled indie EP got them noticed by Columbia Records. Their 1984 debut album for the label, All Over the Place, was a critical success, but it failed to generate any Pop chart singles. Yet good exposure on MTV and rock radio helped to send the album to a respectable #80. For their next effort, Different Light, the band decided to ease up on the 60s rock and move a bit more towards the mainstream. Although the band would still write the majority of the tracks, the album featured a few tunes from outside writers including this lead-off single. The quirky tune was their first single to reach the Pop chart and slowly caught on and finally found its way to the #2 spot. It also did well at AC getting to #10 while making a #43 appearance at Rock. The Bangles were off and running.

ReduxReview:  All it took was that piano riff and I was totally hooked on this song. There was also a swirling, dream-pop quality to the track that I totally dug. I knew the first time I heard it that the song was going to be a hit. The pairing of The Bangles with Prince seemed a bit offbeat and strange, but it was almost like this song was written specifically for the band. Even though it was far more poppy than anything on their debut, it still had shades of their own style and it was a great idea to rework the song in their own way instead of mimicking Prince's demo. It was a gem of a tune that made stars out of the band.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The writing credit for this song is simply listed as being by "Christopher." Of course it didn't take folks long at all to realize that the name was a pseudonym for Prince. Christopher was the name Prince would use for his character in the upcoming 1986 film Under a Cherry Moon. Prince originally wrote this song for his protégé vocal group Apollonia 6. It was recorded as a duet between Prince and Apollonia. The song was slated to be on the group's debut album, but Prince pulled it at the last minute. There are varying stories as to how the Bangles ended up with the track. Most do state that Prince was a fan of the band's debut album, especially the track "Hero Takes a Fall." Then it gets a little sketchy, but in an interview band member Debbi Peterson stated that Prince contact the band and offered them a couple of songs. In a different interview, Susanna Hoffs said that she went and picked up a cassette Prince had prepared. One of the songs was "Manic Monday." The retro-ish track seemed to be a good fit for the Bangles. The band and their producer David Kahne rebuilt the song a bit and got it recorded. Prince ended up liking what they did with his song. The other tune he submitted to them was one called "Jealous Girl." Prince wrote this for a vocal trio he assembled that he titled The Hookers. The song was recorded, but Prince later cancelled the project. Two of the trio then left and the remaining member plus two new girls then became Vanity 6. Prince would revive "Jealous Girl" in 1987. He revamped the track and then had a lead vocal done by singer Bonnie Raitt. Raitt and Prince collaborated on a couple of other songs, but it seems whatever project these were for, it didn't happen and the songs remain shelved.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

"Live Is Life" by Opus

Song#:  2596
Date:  01/25/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  32
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Reggae

Pop Bits:  This Austrian band first started to take shape in 1973. They spent the next few years honing their skills and trying to find a signature sound. They finally got a record deal in 1980 with Phillips and issued out the debut album Daydream. It was a mix of pop and prog rock with shades of classical thrown in. The album was a bust but the determined band moved over to RCA for their next effort, 1981's Eleven. The LP's more pop-oriented sound was a hit with listeners and the ballad "Flyin' High" made it to #5 on the Austrian chart. Although they were new hit makers, the band had been together for eleven years and as '84 rolled around, they decided to write a special crowd participation song specifically a celebratory concert that would be taped live. They came up with was "Live Is Life" and the fans responded well to the tune. It would serve as the title to the new live album and be issued out as a single in 1985. It raced up the chart and became a huge #1 hit in Austria. Other countries would send the song to #1 as well including France and Germany. It took a while for the song to find its way to the US shores, but it finally debuted on the Pop chart in '86. The tune lingered around for a long while and was able to crack the Top 40, but that was as far as it would go. It would be the band's only single to hit the US charts. They would remain popular back home and grab a few more hits over the years, but this song still remains as their signature hit.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those really annoying songs where the "nanana" chorus gets stuck in your head and just eats its way through every brain cell until you just wanna shove an ice pick in your ear. I gotta hand it to the band though. They set out to make a sing-a-long song and they accomplished that goal rather well. It was a huge hit most everywhere except for the US. I'm not sure why it didn't do better here and become one of those songs that brings everyone to the dance floor at wedding receptions. I wasn't a fan of the song back then and I'm still not. It's not as horrible as some other earworms, but it's nothing I need to hear again. However, I do wish that I had written and published it because the dang thing sold millions.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  According to the band's website, when they first performed this live at the concert, they ran out of recording tape and the full performance was not capture. To get the song on tape, they had to do it again. They waited until the end of the concert and then did another performance of the tune. With the crowd riled up from the show and now more familiar with the song, their participation was even more prominent that the first time around. While it may not have been as spontaneous as they wanted, the excitement of the crowd certainly helped sell the track.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"Pleasure and Pain" by The Divinyls

Song#:  2595
Date:  01/25/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  76
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Australian band was first formed in 1980 by Chrissy Amphlett and Mark McEntee and after a couple of years playing the clubs they got signed to WEA. Their first recordings for the label were songs that got used in a 1982 film titled Monkey Grip. One song from the associated soundtrack EP, "Boys in Town," ended up being a hit in Australia getting to #8. This boosted the band's potential and soon the full-length debut album Desperate was issued in 1983. The main single from the LP, "Science Fiction," reached #13 and later in 2001 it was selected to be on the list of the 30 best Australian songs of all time by the performing rights organization APRA. Their second album, 1985's What a Life!, featured this track which made it to #11 in Australia. The song was their first to get some action in the US and it did well at Rock getting to #12. It crossed over to Pop for a few weeks but could not climb out of the basement. While more chart singles would follow for the band in Australia, nothing else connected in the US and they would remain off the charts until the turn of the decade.

ReduxReview:  This song caught my attention back in the day. I thought it was well-written with a good arrangement and I like Amphlett's voice. It got a lot of airplay on one of the stations I listened to in Boston and I had intentions of buying the album, but never got it. I was probably was out of money or had to choose between it and something else. The single should have found its way to the Top 40. Not sure why it stalled so early. It's still a pretty cool track.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Amphlett and McEntee wrote the majority of the band's songs, but this was one they did not write. When seeking out a producer to do some work for the album, they were able to snag Mike Chapman for a couple of songs. This was one of the tracks Chapman produced. He also co-wrote it with Holly Knight. The pair had been having good success supplying material for artists like Pat Benatar and Tina Turner, and they penned this one for the Divinyls.  2) The Divinyls' 1990 self-titled album would contain their biggest hit - the controversial "I Touch Myself." The song would hit #1 in Australia and #4 in the US. Written by hit makers Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg along with Amphlett and McEntee, the slightly salacious tune ruffled the feathers of some radio stations who refused to play it. Of course these bans usually add fuel to the promotional fire, so it only helped the song along. It would be the Divinyls only other charting single in the US. Because of this and the fact that it was their only major hit, they are often considered one-hit wonders here.  3) Chrissy Amphlett was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. She then got breast cancer in 2010. The multiple sclerosis prevented the full treatment of the cancer and in 2013 Amphlett passed away due to the diseases.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Just Another Day" by Oingo Boingo

Song#:  2594
Date:  01/25/1986
Debut:  90
Peak:  85
Weeks:  4
Genre:  New Wave

Pop Bits:  This band's theme song to the quirky film Weird Science got them their first Pop chart entry. The song made it to #45 and helped to set up their next studio album Dead Man's Party. This next track was selected to be the follow-up single. Unfortunately, it didn't make as much of an impact and the song fell off the chart after a month. It would end up being the band's final song to reach the Pop chart. They would release three more albums before calling it a day in 1995.

ReduxReview:  Oingo Boingo were not necessarily the most commercial-leaning band so it was going to be difficult to follow up the goofy fun of "Weird Science." This track wasn't a bad choice. It had a Duran Duran-meets-U2 kind of vibe with a nicely dense production. However, "Weird" kind of set a tone for the band and this tune was shades more serious. I don't think it was what listeners expected or wanted to hear. They might have been better off to issue out "Dead Man's Party" instead. It was a bit more playful and might have done better. It was issued as the third single, but by then it was just too late.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  We've often heard "but their big in Japan." But big in Brazil? Oingo Boingo got a significant career boost there thanks to a TV show using one of their songs. The bummer about it was that it came a few years after the band broke up. Following the release of their 1988 album Boingo Alive, a track from the LP got picked up and used in a Brazilian telenovela Top Model. The live version of "Stay," a song that originally appeared on Dead Man's Party, was used on the show and thanks to the wide exposure, it became a hit in Brazil. Two more songs from the album would also hit the chart. With their popularity booming in that country, the band's label decided to throw together a new compilation for release title Stay. It was only released in Brazil. Unfortunately, with the band not together any longer, they couldn't really capitalize any further on the sudden burst of popularity


Monday, November 19, 2018

"Do Me Baby" by Meli'sa Morgan

Song#:  2593
Date:  01/25/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  46
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  Singer Meli'sa Morgan was still a teenager when she recorded a song as a member of the funk band B.B.P. (Business Before Pleasure). It didn't get anywhere but four years later, an 18-year-old Morgan would find herself on the charts leading the studio band Shades of Love. Their 1982 song "Keep in Touch (Body to Body)" would get to #26 Dance and #52 R&B. The same year, Morgan was also part of an assembled trio of vocalists called High Fashion. Their song "Feelin' Lucky Lately" would make it to #32 at R&B. Neither of the songs made Morgan a star, but it did get her work as a background vocalist for artists like Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston. She was finally able to secure a recording contract of her own with Capitol Records and as '86 rolled around her debut album, Do Me Baby, was set to go. The first single would be the title track and it propelled Morgan to the #1 spot on the R&B chart. The hit got a bit of crossover action just missing on the Pop Top 40. Morgan would go on to have four more R&B Top 10 over the next few years, but this song would be her only one to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This sleek and sultry ballad got a much needed boost from Morgan. I think it was her voice and the arrangement that sold the tune. It's one of the rare times that an artist outdid Prince on one of his tunes. I had Prince's Controversy album back then and thought this was a pretty good track, though a bit long and Prince's vocal was a tad overdone. So when the song's fire got tamed down into a hot ember by Morgan and producer Paul Laurence, I was rather impressed. It was exactly what the song needed and it certainly helped to make it a big R&B hit. I wish it had gone further on the Pop chart, but it actually did pretty well nearly making the Top 40.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia: This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Prince. His version appeared on his 1981 album Controversy. The track was issued out as the third single from the album, but it failed to chart. The composition credit for the song goes to Prince, but according to some folks he is not the sole author. Musician André Cymone had worked with Prince in a couple of bands and then took a spot in Prince's touring band after he went solo. Sometime in 1979, Cymone was asked to write a song for a project by the late 50s/early 60s R&B group Little Anthony and the Imperials. Cymone wrote up a tune that was about his girlfriend at the time. He even recorded a demo. The song seemed to not go anywhere. Early in '81, Cymone left Prince's band after the pair had a falling out. As the fall rolled around, Prince's Controversy album was released. Among the tracks was one called "Do Me, Baby." Cymone recognized it immediately as the song he wrote. Although there were some lyric and other changes, it was basically the same. Despite it mainly being his song, Cymone decided to not pursue the matter and decided to let it go. Prince still retains sole writing credit.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

"Prove Me Wrong" by David Pack

Song#:  2592
Date:  01/25/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  95
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Between 1978 and 1980, the band Ambrosia scored three big hits including a pair of #3's - "How Much I Feel" and "Biggest Part of Me." Their soft rock sound carried them far, but when they returned to prog rock on their 1982 album Road Island, folks stayed away. The band then decided to call it quits. Lead singer David Pack then embarked on a solo career and began to work on his debut album Anywhere You Go. This first single would not only be the first one lifted from the album, but it would also be the third song from the hit film White Nights to be issued out. Unfortunately, it could only muster a few short weeks on the Pop chart before disappearing. It would be Pack's only single to reach the Pop chart. Pack wouldn't record another solo album until 2004. In the meantime, he stayed behind the board and became an in-demand producer for many top-tier artists including Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Wynonna, and Patti Austin. He earned a Grammy in 1993 as one of the producers on Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration. That collection would win for Best Contemporary Gospel Album.

ReduxReview:  This one certainly caught me off guard. I had never heard it before and I was kind of diggin' it's mid-tempo groove while waiting for the chorus to come along. Then all of a sudden the dang thing goes double time and turns into a synth rock track in a "Danger Zone" kind of way! I was like - WTF! What just happened? I was not pleased. Sometimes these shifts can be very effective and work well, but this is not one of them. I think the main reason it doesn't work is because it makes the chorus sound like a completely separate song. It's also not very memorable. I have no idea why they thought this should be a single. I'm guessing it had to do with the White Nights tie-in, but there was no way this song was gonna be a chart contender.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Although this song didn't earn Pack a hit on the Pop chart, two other tracks from his self-titled debut album did quite well on the AC chart. His second single, "That Girl Is Gone," would make it to #16 while a third single, "I Just Can't Let Go," would make it to #13. The latter single would feature vocal assists from Michael McDonald and James Ingram. Pack would once again make it back on to the AC chart in 2005. The title track to his album The Secret of Movin' On, which featured a guest appearance from Heart's Ann Wilson, would reach #25. The more jazz-oriented album would also feature Pack covering two of his old Ambrosia hits. Each one would make it on the Smooth Jazz Songs chart. "Biggest Part of Me" would hit #11 while "You're the Only Woman" would get to #13.