Saturday, December 22, 2018

"Stereotomy" by Alan Parsons Project

Song#:  2626
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  82
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Prog Rock

Pop Bits:  After six gold or platinum studio albums in a row, the Alan Parsons Project hit a speed bump with their 1985 LP Vulture Culture. Two singles failed to generate much interested and that caused the album to be their lowest peaking to-date (#46). Next up was their ninth effort, Stereotomy. They got the ball rolling with this title-track single sung by John Miles, which did well at Rock getting to #5. However, the more prog rock track just wasn't what Pop was looking for from the group and it stalled on the chart quickly. It would end up being APP's final single to reach the Pop chart. A track from the album, "Where's the Walrus?," did earn a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Performance. APP would go on to release the LP Gaudi in 1987, which featured the #3 Rock track "Standing on Higher Ground," but then that would be it. The group's two main players, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, would then go their separate ways.

ReduxReview:  After all these years, these guys should know that their bread n' butter for hit singles is anything pop oriented with Eric Woolfson doing the lead vocal. Yet here we are with a prog rock track without Woolfson taking the lead (he does appear in a small bridge section). This just wasn't going to make it at pop at all. I'm glad it found a home at rock radio, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee album sales. However, there wasn't much else on the album that could have done better at Pop. Woolfson doesn't actually sing lead on any song and there are more instrumentals that usual. Overall, I'd have to say that Stereotomy is my least favorite APP album. With a couple of exceptions, the songs just weren't there. They would do much better on their next LP Gaudi, which featured the epic grand track "La Sagrada Familia" sung by John Miles; and it had two Woolfson lead vocal appearances as well. I'm sad no more APP song will be covered here. They are one of my all-time favorite artists.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After the Gaudi album, Woolfson wanted their next effort to be about Sigmund Freud. Woofson and Parsons began to work on the project that would be titled Freudiana. However, disputes arose between the two and the project was sidelined. Woolfson then decided to take the material and turn it into a stage musical. The show had a successful run in Germany and was expected to expand to other countries, but a lawsuit quashed any plans. Woolfson remained in control of the original recordings and in 1990 he issued out the LP Freudiana. Although not necessarily credited to APP, it is basically considered the "lost" APP album. The songs were mainly all co-written by Wooflson and Parsons and Parsons served as producer and engineer. Woolfson continued to do stage works turning Gaudi into a musical, one called Gambler, and another based on Edgar Allan Poe, who was the inspiration for the first APP album, 1976's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Woolfson would die of kidney cancer in 2009.  2) After the split, Parsons set out on a solo career of sorts. He basically continued to use the same formula as APP and wrote, produced, and engineered tracks while getting vocal assists from other artists. He has issued out four albums under his own name (minus the "Project") including 2004's A Valid Path, which earned Parsons a Grammy nod for Best Surround Sound Album.


Friday, December 21, 2018

"It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)" by Eurythmics

Song#:  2625
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  78
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Synthpop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Eurythmics' fourth regular studio album Be Yourself Tonight was their second in a row to go platinum thanks to three Top 30 hits including the #5 "Would I Lie to You?" They tried for a fourth hit with this next single from the LP. They got a hit out of it in their UK homeland where it got to #12, but in the US the song couldn't get anywhere and it stalled in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. Be Yourself Tonight would be the duo's only album to score four charting singles in the US. By contrast, five of their LPs would each get four singles on the UK chart.

ReduxReview:  I thought this Motown-ish song was a great choice for a single. I was hoping it would catch on and at least make the Top 40, but it just couldn't get a break in the US. It had a hooky chorus with verses that had the Eurythmics' brand all over them. The horns are cool and of course Lennox selling it at the end with her ad libs is always a highlight. A terrific song that got overlooked.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song would help Eurythmics' Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart win two Ivor Novello awards in 1987. The Ivors are awarded mainly to British/Irish songwriters and composers. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors (BASCA) run the awards. Ivors have been handed out annually since 1955. This song won for Best Contemporary Song while Lennox and Stewart were given an Ivor for Songwriters of the Year. This was the duo's second Ivor for Songwriters of the Year. They also won in 1984. Lennox would go on to win one herself in 1993 for Best Song for her debut solo single "Why."


Thursday, December 20, 2018

"All the King's Horses" by The Firm

Song#:  2624
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  61
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The UK supergroup featuring Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page grabbed a gold album with their #17 self-titled debut album. It was pushed along by its #1 Rock/#28 Pop hit "Radioactive." Due to the positive results, the band set out to record a second LP. Their next effort was titled Mean Business and this first single was pushed out ahead of the album. Like "Radioactive," the song was a hit at Rock and it reached #1 on that chart. Unfortunately, the tune didn't connect as well at Pop this time around and it faltered well short of the top half of the chart. A second single, "Live in Peace," could only manage a #21 peak at Rock while missing the Pop chart completely. The album made it to #22, but without better performing singles, sales took a dip and they failed to replicate the results of their debut LP. The mediocre response to their second disc didn't encourage the supergroup to go any further and they split up.

ReduxReview:  I like the near gothic, prog rock opening of the track. It kind of reminds me of something Asia would do. After that, the song just kind of fizzled out. I don't find it very engaging or exciting. It certainly wasn't pop oriented enough to hook a bigger crossover crowd. Rock radio latched on to it back in the day, but the song just isn't all that memorable to me.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After Bad Company's lackluster sixth album, 1982's Rough Diamonds, Paul Rodgers decided he was done and chose to leave the band. With his departure, the band folded as well. (A new iteration of the band without Rodgers would restart in 1986.) Rodgers then decided to do his first solo album. For 1983's Cut Loose, Rodgers wrote, performed, and produced the entire album. The title track would be issued as a single, but it could only manage a #15 showing at Rock. Also on the album was a song titled "Live in Peace." For The Firm's second album, Rodgers revived that song and it was re-recorded by the band. It would be the LP's second single, but it only got to #21 at Rock. Rodgers would not release another solo album for 10 years. That 1993 LP, Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters, would earn a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Your Love" by The Outfield

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2623
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  6
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Power Pop

Pop Bits:  This British trio first began as Sirius B, but after breaking up for a while they regrouped as The Baseball Boys. Their straight-ahead arena rock style made them sound like an American band and that helped them to get signed in the US with Columbia Records. After a name change to The Outfield, their debut album, Play Deep, was recorded and a first single titled "Say It Isn't So" was issued out. It got some good attention at Rock getting to #18. Next up was this second single and it would do better at Rock hitting #7. The song then crossed over to Pop and after a low debut, the song slowly started to make strides. It would eventually reach the Pop Top 10 getting to #6. The hit helped their album get to #9 and over time it would become a triple-platinum seller. However, back home in the UK, their brand of American rock didn't catch on. This song would peak at #83 and the album would fail to chart.

ReduxReview:  This song has had a very long life. In fact, I heard it played twice this past week. Once at a hair salon and then at the gym. Wherever 80s music is being played you can be assured that this track will eventually come over the speakers. While I was never a big fan of the song, I didn't mind it either. They kind of smashed together sounds of various US rock bands into their own power pop and it sounded pretty good. I think it also helped that lead vocalist Tony Lewis had an interesting voice that stood out from the pack. They'd have a few more charting singles, but this one became their evergreen signature song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The band's guitarist and main songwriter, John Spinks, is the one who came up with the band name of The Baseball Boys. Apparently, he had recently seen the 1979 cult hit film The Warriors and one of the gangs in the movie was named the Baseball Furies. Being from the UK, the band didn't know a lot about baseball but figured they better try to gain an appreciation for the sport due to the name. After getting signed to Columbia, a name change was suggested. After many potential names were pitched, the trio decided to keep up the baseball theme and settled on The Outfield.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Saturday Love" by Cherrelle with Alexander O'Neal

Song#:  2622
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  26
Weeks:  17
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Cherrelle's debut album, Fragile, was her first to employ the services of the writing/production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It resulted in her first hit, the #8 R&B single "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" (#79 Pop). For her second LP, she stayed with Jam and Lewis and came up with High Priority. The album's first single, "You Look Good to Me," was a bit of a letdown only getting to #26 at R&B. However, she rebounded in a big way with this second single. The duet with R&B star Alexander O'Neal caught on and went to #2 at R&B. It then found a crossover audience and was able to get inside the Pop Top 30. It also made it to #13 at Dance. It would end up being Cherrelle's biggest hit on the Pop chart. Thanks to the hit, the album would reach #9 R&B/#36 Pop and would eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  While the single version of this song is more concise and gets to the point, the longer album version is kind of fun with its extended bar scene opening. Whatever version you hear, the song is another winner from the Jam/Lewis team. The repetitive days of the week line is a cool hook and both Cherrelle and O'Neal put their all into the vocals. It's an excellent track and I'm glad that it got some action at Pop. It nearly makes up for the fact that Cherrelle's lovely 1988 #1 R&B hit "Everything I Miss at Home" inexplicably missed the Pop chart (but not quite...)

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was later covered by R&B singer Keke Wyatt for her 2011 album Unbelievable. She sang it as a duet with American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. The song was released as a single and it got to #31 on the Adult R&B Songs chart. Wyatt's biggest hit was the #4 R&B/#27 Pop "Nothing in This World" in 2001. That song featured R&B star Avant. Wyatt would later become a reality TV star being featured in three seasons of TV One's R&B Divas. She would also appear in a season of Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.


Monday, December 17, 2018

"One Sunny Day/Duelling Bikes from Quicksilver" by Ray Parker, Jr. and Helen Terry

Song#:  2621
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  96
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Parker's third album Sex and the Single Man was a bit of a bust with only one minor charting single, the #21 R&B/#34 Pop "Girls Are More Fun." Afterward, he would end up leaving his home label of Arista for Geffen. Prior to the switch, Parker was asked to sing on a track that was written for the 1986 Kevin Bacon messenger bike flick Quicksilver. He was paired with British singer Helen Terry (famous for her background vocals for Culture Club) and together they recorded "One Sunny Day." It was issued out as a single, but it failed to make an impression and quickly disappeared - much like the movie, which was a box office dud that was panned by critics. Although this song was composed by Bill Wolfer and Dean Pitchford (of Footloose fame), the score for the film was done by Tony Banks from Genesis.

ReduxReview:  Well, they were certainly going for something akin to the tunes from Beverly Hills Cop. Actually, it sounds like a rejected Pointers Sisters track. While the song wasn't all that bad, it wasn't very good either. The straight-ahead pop track was not a good fit for Parker and Terry's talents are totally wasted here. Parker is not a strong vocalist, so Terry probably had to tame her pipes in order to not blow him out of the water. It's a mediocre tune that sounds like something from a dorky 80s movie, so I guess it fit the bill.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Like many films of the 80s, this movie had a soundtrack filled with new songs by popular artists like Roger Daltrey, Peter Frampton, John Parr, and Marilyn Martin. There was also one song by an unknown artist named Larry John McNally. McNally was mainly a songwriter and over the years he would have tunes recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Chaka Khan, the Eagles, and many others. The track he recorded for Quicksilver was one titled "The Motown Song." Since the film and soundtrack were duds, it seemed like that might have been it for McNally's contribution. However, later in 1990 Rod Stewart picked up the tune and recorded it with a little help from The Temptations. It was released as the third single from Stewart's Vagabond Heart and it would turn into a #10 Pop/#3 AC hit.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

"The Men All Pause" by Klymaxx

Song#:  2620
Date:  02/15/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  80
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The all-female band finally scored a major crossover hit with "I Miss You," the third single lifted from their third album Meeting in the Ladies Room. The ballad was a solid success getting to #5 Pop, #3 AC, and #11 R&B. To keep the ball rolling, a follow-up single titled "Lock and Key" was issued out. Unfortunately, it just didn't catch on and it stalled early at R&B (#47) while not even making the Pop chart. However, the label thought there was still enough interest in the band at Pop to warrent another follow-up attempt, so they went ahead and reissued the LP's first single "The Men All Pause," which had already been a #5 hit at R&B earlier in '85 (#9 Dance). The tactic sort of worked. The song did get some action at Pop, but it was only for a couple of months near the bottom of the chart. They would soon have better luck with a fresh new single.

ReduxReview:  I remember back in the day when I saw this song's title I thought it was some kind of play on the word "menopause." I was happy to find out that it was not! It was, however, another solid track from the band. While not quite as good as "Meeting in the Ladies Room," it is still pretty tasty. Their hit "I Miss You" was a lovely ballad, but I think the women really soared when they were rockin' a good groove.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia: The album Meeting in the Ladies Room included a track titled "Just Our Luck." It was a remake of a tune originally recorded by Shalamar in '83. Written by Barry De Vorzon and Joseph Conlon, Shalamar's version was used as the opening credits theme song to the 1983 ABC TV show Just Our Luck. The show, which starred T.K. Carter and Richard Gilliland, was about a TV weatherman who ends up releasing a genie, Shabu, that was imprisoned in a bottle. In return for his release, Shabu offers his services to the guy for life. Basically, it's a spin on I Dream of Jeannie. However, the show became quite controversial. Shabu was a black character who was serving a white guy and terms like "master" and "servant" were used in the show. Also, T.K. Carter's portrayal was seen as offensive and promoting stereotypes. The NAACP prompted a boycott of ABC until something was done. ABC did address the issues in conjunction with the NAACP, but it was too late. The controversy along with poor critical reception and bad ratings (it was up against NBC's new hit show The A-Team) took a toll and the show was cancelled after 11 episodes. T.K. Carter, who always defended the Shabu character and his portrayal, would appear in several TV shows and films including two seasons on Punky Brewster. Richard Gilliland would be appear in many TV shows, but may probably be best known for playing Mary Jo's boyfriend on Designing Women. While working on that show, he met Jean Smart who played Charlene. The two would marry in 1987 and as of this posting are still together.