Sunday, November 17, 2019

"Facts of Love" by Jeff Lorber with Karyn Whiate

Song#:  2955
Date:  12/06/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  27
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  Lorber was a jazz-based keyboardist who formed his own instrumental group, Jeff Lorber Fusion, in the mid-70s. They got signed to the NYC jazz label Inner City and released two albums in '77 and '78. Their smooth jazz sound became popular and for their third album they signed with Arista, a far bigger label that allowed them more exposure. Three more albums would follow all of which would find their way on to the Pop album chart. With Lorber's star rising, it came time for him to be billed as a solo act and the first album under just his name was 1982's It's a Fact. It became his best-selling album to-date reaching #73 on the Pop chart. Sensing that Lorber could be a bigger crossover act, Arista brought in R&B producer Maurice Starr to assist with Lorber's 1984 album In the Heat of the Night. It didn't expand his audience any further, so for his next effort, 1985's Step By Step, it was suggested Lorber collaborate with other more commercial writers and include songs with vocals. The title track, co-written by Lorber and Anita Pointer, would end up being a hit on the Dance chart getting to #4. It also got to #31 at R&B. Session vocalist Audrey Wheeler sang the tune. A second single, "Best Part of the Night" sung by Gavin Christopher, got to #15 on the Dance chart. Lorber also earned his first Grammy nomination for Best R&B Instrumental Performance for the track "Pacific Coast Highway." It all seemed to be working well, but pressure from Arista and the prickly Clive Davis made Lorber take off for Warner Bros. His first effort for them was 1986's Private Passion. It also featured some vocal tracks like this first single that was performed by session singer Karyn White. The song would go Top 10 at Dance (#9) while getting to #17 R&B and making the Pop Top 30. The hit would help the album get to #68 Pop, #29 R&B and #17 Jazz. It would be his peak crossover moment. But then Lorber decided that he'd had enough of trying to be a crossover star and retreated to session work for a while. He would return in 1993 in a more comfortable contemporary jazz fashion on Verve Forecast Records with Worth the Wait. More albums would follow and he'd reform Jeff Lorber Fusion in 2010. He would earn six more Grammy nominations finally winning in 2017 for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for the Fusion's Prototype.

ReduxReview:  This was a good, hooky tune that kick-started Karyn White's career (her 1988 debut album would spawn three Pop Top 10's). It also helped sell a few albums for Lorber. I'm not always sure what to think about singles like this though. Lorber was an excellent musician who helped bring smooth jazz to the masses and this track is nowhere near his usual fare. I think its a case of a label trying to force an artist to be a crossover star. I mean, they will sell more albums, they can have hits, yet they can sort of keep a bit of their writing and musical roots alive on other album tracks. I guess it is fine, but when it comes down to it this song could have been done by anyone. Lorber didn't write it (the production team Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers did). He plays keyboards, but not in a way that would truly identify him. Basically, it is a Karyn White single. Other fringe jazz or instrumental artists would do the same and score pop hits in the decade as well, but I just don't get it. People call it selling out. I'm not sure I agree. Why wouldn't you give it a try to help sell your own material and get people to your concerts? It just seems strange though because if you went to see Lorber in concert around this time, he would probably play this song, but the majority of the concert would be a bunch of smooth jazz noodling, which many folks didn't sign up for. Regardless, this was a solid track that was produced well, even though it is really selling Karyn White.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Whether you love or loathe soprano sax master Kenny G, you pretty much have Jeff Lorber to thank. Lorber brought Kenny Gorelick on board with the Fusion for their 1980 Arista album Wizard Island and its 1981 follow-up Galaxian. Lorber knew the young Gorelick had ambition and helped to sell him as a solo artist to Clive Davis. Davis finally bit and signed the newly christened Kenny G. In 1982, Kenny G would play on Lorber's first solo LP and release his own solo debut. It would do pretty well and his next two LPs increased his fan base. But it would be 1986's Duotones that would break him wide open as a crossover star. That album would go on to sell over five million copies.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, November 16, 2019

"Suburbia" by Pet Shop Boys

Song#:  2954
Date:  12/06/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  70
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  This duo's debut album Please was a platinum seller thanks to three Pop chart entries, which included the #1 "West End Girls" and the #10 "Opportunities." Feeling that there may still be some gas left in the tank, their label decided to remix this album track and push it out as a fourth single. Unfortunately, it didn't get very far. It stopped in the lower reaches of the Pop chart while only getting to #36 at Dance. It would do much better in their UK homeland where the single became their second Top 10 there (#8).

ReduxReview:  I like how the happy sounding chorus of this song plays against the darker verses. I'm sure that was intentional - trying to cover up the ugly underbelly of suburbia with some kind of fake positive spin. Musically, Pet Shop Boys' songs are fairly simple (and I don't mean that in a bad way). Their chords and progressions are not complicated and their melodies are lovely and easy to latch on to. However, because of that I think their lyrics often get overlooked. They are often sharp, witty, or poignant. Their view of a riotous suburb and its disconnected youth is front and center on this track. It's a good song and one that wasn't too bad of a choice for a single. It just came out a bit late in the LP's cycle and couldn't attract attention.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  On the back sleeve of this single, it stated that the song "was partly inspired by the film Suburbia." That 1984 movie was produced by Roger Corman and written/directed by Penelope Spheeris. It was Spheeris' first film following her acclaimed 1981 documentary about the L.A. punk scene The Decline of Western Civilization. She used elements of the punk lifestyle as inspiration for the fictional Suburbia. She even hired on a few punk musicians for roles instead of actors, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea. The film focused on a group of runaway punk kids who end up living together in abandoned homes in suburban L.A. While it wasn't necessarily a box office hit, it did fairly well with critics and has since become a bit of a cult flick. Spheeris would go on to do two sequels to The Decline of Western Civilization and in 1992 would score a big mainstream hit directing the Mike Myers/Dana Carvey SNL skit-inspired comedy Wayne's World.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, November 15, 2019

"Change of Heart" by Cyndi Lauper

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2953
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  67
Peak:  3
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The title track first single from Lauper's second album True Colors would go on to be her second to top the Pop chart. She would follow up that stark ballad with this heavier produced upbeat track that featured The Bangles on background vocals. It would become her seventh Top 10 on the Pop chart. It also made it to #4 at Dance. The album was certified as a platinum seller just prior to this single being released. The hit would promote more sales of the LP and eventually it would be a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This was a smart follow-up to "True Colors." It was a bit more mature than some of her previous singles, yet it kept her personality and featured a big 80s production. Both songs together seemed like a step forward for her as an artist, but the balance of the album was a mish-mash of styles and quirky tunes that didn't quite gel. The two songs were the highlights of the album and they ended up being the two main hits. She needed to break away from her kooky shabby chic personality and move towards being an artist of longevity and the two tunes did help, but it's too bad she didn't do more like them on the album. I mean, did we really need a track that featured Pee Wee Herman? Yikes. Regardless, she is one of my all-time favorite artists and this was a terrific hit for her.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was originally written by singer/songwriter Essra Mohawk. Born in Philly as Sandra Hurvitz, she first got noticed in the early 60s and recorded one single under the name Jamie Carter in 1964. Nothing happened with the tune, but then her songs got picked up by other artists including The Shangri-Las. This led to a record deal with Verve and her debut album, Sandy's Album is Here at Last, got released under her real name in 1967. She next got picked up by Reprise Records and recorded the 1970 album Primordial Lovers. She ended up marrying her producer, Frazier Mohawk, and by the time the album was set for release changed her name to Essra Mohawk. The LP didn't sell, but it was a critical favorite and became a bit of a cult record. She would release a few more albums over the years, but nothing much happened with them. She later recorded a demo of a song she wrote titled "Change of Heart." The song found its way to Cyndi Lauper who decided to record it. Lauper made a few lyric and melodic changes, which then gave her a co-writing credit. Mohawk would continue to write songs, record albums, and sing background vocals for major artists over the years, but this would be her shining pop moment. Her voice may be familiar to folks who grew up in the 70s. She sang three songs featured on Schoolhouse Rock!  She sang solo on "Interjections!" (Grammar Rock) and "Sufferin' 'til Suffrage" (America Rock), and was part of a quartet that sang "Mother Necessity" (America Rock).

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, November 14, 2019

"Love You Down" by Ready for the World

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2952
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  76
Peak:  9
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm



Pop Bits:  This Flint, Michigan, band scored a #1 Pop/R&B/Dance hit with "Oh Sheila," a track from their self-titled debut album. The LP would turn platinum thanks to three other R&B Top 10's. As soon as they could, they went back into the studio to record a follow-up. It would be titled Long Time Coming and this first single, written by lead singer Melvin Riley, got issued out. It would easily top the R&B chart becoming their second to do so. It crossed over to the Pop chart and became their second Top 10. It also got on the AC chart at #24. The band seemed to be poised to match the success of their debut, but further singles from their second LP didn't crack the R&B Top 10 and failed to reach the Pop chart. Still, this song helped push the album to #5 R&B/#32 Pop and it would be a gold seller. Unfortunately, this would be the band's last single to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This was an unusual move for a band whose two biggest charting songs were uptempo workouts. A ballad as a first single wasn't necessarily risky, but it wasn't all that common either. I'm guessing that the label thought this was the strongest single contender on the LP and went ahead and released it. Indeed, it got them the hit they needed and further singles didn't perform well so they were fortunate this one got out the gate first. The ballad sounds less like their Prince-ish tracks from their debut album and more like they were taking notes from Jam & Lewis. It worked out well with this slinky quiet storm ballad heating up the airwaves. The lyrics deal with a May-December romance, but with a small twist - the guy is the younger one. It was kind of refreshing since most songs around this time focused on young, hot women (especially in hard rock and R&B). A solid outing for the band, but unfortunately, they just couldn't grab another crossover hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band returned in '88 with their third album Ruff N' Ready. It featured the #6 R&B single "My Girly." A second single was a minor chart entry and further singles failed to chart. Without a significant crossover hit, the album didn't sell well.  They gave it one more try with 1991's Straight Down to Business, which did generate the #9 R&B "Can He Do It (Like This, Can He Do It Like That), but it didn't lead to album sales and that ended their days as a major label artist.  2) This song was later remade in 1997 by Pop/R&B/Dance vocalist INOJ. It was her debut single and it got to #25 on the Pop chart. Her next single would also be a remake. She covered Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and pushed it out in 1998. It would get to #6 at Pop. This led to her recording a full album the following year for Columbia's So So Def label that included the two hits. It was weirdly titled Ready for the World. Further singles failed to chart and the album suffered the same fate.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

"Every Beat of My Heart" by Rod Stewart

Song#:  2951
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  83
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Stewart's fourteenth studio album, Every Beat of My Heart, was not performing well. It had already peaked at a low (for him) #28 and was not on track to becoming a certified gold seller. Despite the previous single, "Another Heartache," not doing well (#52), Stewart's label went ahead and issued out this title-track follow-up. It did even worse by peaking where it debuted on the Pop chart. It failed to reach any other chart as well. With those results, the label called it a day and the album fell off the chart. That left it being one of Stewart's worst performing albums to-date. Only his 1969 debut LP and 1983's Body Wishes did worse.

ReduxReview:  This was meant to be one of those big sentimental sing-along songs that would cross international boarders and make everyone weepie and nostalgic. It had a vague Irish feel to it and indeed mentioned the "Emerald Isle," but it was still generic enough for non-Irish folk to catch on and apply their own meaning. The person in the lyrics is headed home, but I'm not sure from where. From war or a war-torn country? From military service? I dunno. The song is fine, but a little slow and a bit boring. There's just not enough memorable lines or melodies to make it catch on in a bigger way. It strives to be a classic longing-for-home song that everyone rallies around while toasting their pints, but it doesn't quite make it there.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In the UK, one further single was released from the album. Stewart's remake of The Beatles' "In My Life" would just scratch the chart at #80. "In My Life" was recorded for Rubber Soul, the Beatles' 1965 album. Although it was not selected to be a single, the song became a fan and critical favorite over the years. On Rolling Stone's 2004 list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time," the tune was ranked at #23. Although many artists have covered the song, as of this posting date none have been able to reach the Pop chart with a version. However, one artist did manage to reach the AC chart with the tune. Bette Midler recorded the song for the soundtrack to her 1991 movie For the Boys. It was the second single released from the soundtrack and it got to #20 at AC.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"Big Time" by Peter Gabriel

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2950
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  8
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Funk Rock



Pop Bits:  Gabriel's follow-up to his #1 smash "Sledgehammer," "In Your Eyes," didn't quite set the chart afire. It stalled at #26 despite reaching #1 at Rock. Still, it did well enough to push out a third single from his album So. This funky track was selected and it seemed to be what pop listeners wanted. It became Gabriel's second Top 10 at Pop while getting to #3 at Rock. It was certainly helped along by its associated video that got heavy airplay on MTV. The hit would further spur sales of the album, which would go double-platinum by the summer of '87. Eventually it would sell over five million copies.

ReduxReview:  This should have been the follow-up to "Sledgehammer," but my guess is that they needed time to make the video so they tossed out "In Your Eyes" instead. Probably not, but seems logical to me. Luckily, this single overcame its predecessor's mediocre showing at Pop and made the Top 10. It was another terrific track by Gabriel. He turned up the funk on this one while still giving it a commercial sheen. Although "Sledgehammer" is the classic track, this is the one that I end up adding to my playlists more often. It's a great workout tune. I seem to recall back in the day a rumor that this song was a bit of a swipe at Gabriel's former bandmate and newly minted superstar Phil Collins. I can't find anything to corroborate that, but it seems to fit. From what I understand, Collins and his ego were not necessarily well-liked during his heydays and Gabriel and Collins weren't exactly besties. So perhaps a bit of an unintentional skewering. Regardless, it remains a top-notch song in Gabriel's catalog.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The video for this song built upon the innovative filming methods that made the one for "Sledgehammer" such a huge MTV hit. There were various styles of animation and claymation combined other special effects. Gabriel shows up playing his ego-driven character to the hilt. While it was another highly successful video, it was unfortunately released in the same year of eligibility for the MTV Music Video awards as "Sledgehammer." That video would receive ten nominations winning nine. "Big Time" would only get two nominations (Best Concept and Best Special Effects) and no wins. Still, it was another influential and memorable video from Gabriel.  2) This song led to the invention of a music product. Looking to get a more percussive sound from the bass on this song, bassist Tony Levin and drummer Jerry Marotta worked together on a new technique that created the sound Gabriel and producer Daniel Lanois were looking for. While Levin fingered the notes on his fretless bass, Marotta would hit the strings with his drumsticks. The method added a percussive sound to the base that was unique. Levin then further developed this technique into an actual product called funk fingers, which were mini-drumsticks that could be attached to a bassists fingers and used to create the same effect.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Brand New Lover" by Dead or Alive

Song#:  2949
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  15
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG



Pop Bits:  This UK band headed up by Pete Burns grabbed a #4 Dance/#11 Pop hit with their single "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)." It was the first single lifted from their second album, the gold selling Youthquake. For their third album, the band stayed with the production team of Stock Aitken Waterman and recorded Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know. This lead single got things started and it became their first to reach #1 on the Dance chart. Pop responded well and sent the song into the Top 20. Despite having similar results to "You Spin Me," the single didn't do as well promoting the album. It stopped at #52 and failed to go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was another urgent track from the band and basically cut from the same vein as "You Spin Me." While that song was a more memorable hit, I actually think this song was better written. It had nice, warm chord changes and good melodies. It's a song you could easily transfer to an acoustic setting. I had hopes that it would go Top 10, but like their previous hit it stopped short. SAW's production was big and bangin' with Burns' voice cutting right through. Since "You Spin Me" became an indelible 80s track, this one got left along the wayside and hardly gets attention anymore. That's too bad as it is just as good of a song.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  "You Spin Me" was the first UK #1 for the Stock Aitken Waterman production team. While this song wouldn't do as well there (#31), the team was beginning to stack up more and more hits. In 1986 they would have three of their productions reach the Top 10 in the UK. The results were certainly turning heads and more artists began to request their services. The hits would increase over the next few years. They would score ten Top 10s (four of them #1) in 1987 and twelve Top 10s in 1988 (one #1). That would lead to their peak year of 1989 when they garnered eighteen Top 10s with five of them hitting #1.  Of all those hits, thirty-one of them were also written by the team. It made the trio one of the most successful writing/productions teams of the decade. Their success started to decline as the 90s started and later in 1991 Matt Aitken decided to depart. Stock and Waterman continued on, but success was spotty. The pair ended their partnership later in 1994 after a decade of hits. The final Top 10 for the SAW team was Kylie Minogue's 1991 #6 hit "Shocked." Stock and Waterman's last Top 10 came in 1993 with Sybil's "When I'm Good and Ready" (#5). SAW's work was less popular in the US where they only scored six Top 10 hits between '86 and '89. They were mostly know for their work with Rick Astley, Bananarama, and Donna Summer, who gave them their final Top 10 in the US with 1989's "This Time I Know It's for Real" (#7).

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, November 10, 2019

"Caught Up in the Rapture" by Anita Baker

Song#:  2948
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  37
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Quiet Storm



Pop Bits:  Baker's "Sweet Love" would be her breakthrough hit reaching #2 R&B, #3 AC, and #8 Pop. It was the second single from her second album Rapture. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. Once again, R&B and AC ate it up and it became a Top 10 hit on both charts (#6 and #9, respectively). However, the sleek ballad couldn't quite push through the din of other songs on the Pop chart and it could only crack the Top 40. Still, the tune would keep sales of the album going, It had already been certified platinum in October of '86 and a year later it would go triple-platinum. By 1994 it would reach five million in sales.

ReduxReview:  This silky smooth jam is just gorgeous. Right from the start it set a romantic tone that was perfect for an evening by the fireplace with a bottle of wine. Baker sold the song in a very effective way starting with her little "buh-buh-boya-buh-buh" melody line and then continuing on in such a relaxed manner that she practically sounded drugged (or drunk on wine n' love). Her chilled out performance fit the song perfectly. The single was a solid fit for R&B and AC, but I think the storm was just a bit too quiet for Pop. It was a mature tune that wasn't going to attract a younger audience who were clamoring for Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Bon Jovi. Still, it's a beautiful track that sounds just as good now as it did back in the day.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Baker's Rapture album was a consistent seller for a long period of time. Although it would only reach #11 at Pop, it would stay on the chart for 157 weeks (just over three years). Because of that, the LP made it to the year-end album chart for three years in a row. In 1986, it made the list at #59. The following year would be its peak time and it ended up at #9 for the year. It continued to sell in '88 and was able to finish the year at #51. The album would peak at #1 on the R&B chart for three weeks and remain on the chart for 108 weeks.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, November 9, 2019

"It's Not You, It's Not Me" by KBC Band

Song#:  2947
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  89
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Over the years there have been various offshoot bands and solo efforts that had their roots planted in Jefferson Airplane. The KBC Band was another group that featured previous members of that famous 60s outfit. Made up of Paul Kantner (K), Marty Balin (B), and Jack Casady (C), the trio slowly came together after each were doing their own thing after departures from Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship. By 1985 they had a full band together and Arista Records signed them up. Their self-titled debut album would be issued in the fall of '86 preceded by this first single. The track did well at Rock getting to #6, but it couldn't quite make it at Pop. It fizzled out after a quick month on the chart. A second single, "America," was another Rock hit (#8), but it failed to reach the Pop chart. The album would sell a few copies and get to #75. Even though the results were fairly positive, the trio quickly began to have issues and by '87 they had split.

ReduxReview:  Well, this wasn't Jeff Airplane. It wasn't Jeff Starship either. In some ways it had more in common with then then-current Starship. It was a slab of 80s pop/rock with a keyboard-heavy production. Written by Van Stephenson and Phil Brown, it was probably selected to add some commercial viability to the album. It kind of work since the track did well at Rock, but it wasn't as good or as memorable as other pop/rock tunes that were climbing the chart. It's good to hear Balin's vocals, but it's also odd that he's fronting a track that could have been on a Starship album.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Even though the KBC Band would break up after their debut album, it was the catalyst for a full reunion of Jefferson Airplane. In 1988, the trio got back together along with Grace Slick and Jorma Kaukonen. It was nearly the full lineup of Jefferson Airplane during their heyday. The only member missing was drummer Spencer Dryden. The reunited band recorded a new self-titled album co-produced by Ron Nevison, who had helmed albums by Jefferson Starship (and Heart). While it produced no Pop singles, One track, "Summer of Love," got to #15 at AC while "Planes" made it to #24 at Rock. The album would make it to #85. The accompanying tour was a success, but the reunion would be short-lived and members would go their various ways once again. A mini reunion would take place in 1996 (with Dryden, but without Slick who was recovering from an illness) for a performance at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, November 8, 2019

"I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect for You)" by Grace Jones

Song#:  2946
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  69
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  Jamaican-born Jones moved to the States with her family when she was in her early teens. By the time she was 18, Jones had moved to New York and was signed to the famous Wilhelmina Modeling agency. She began to work as a model, but her look was more suited for European designers and she made a move to Paris. It was there that she began to dabble in music, most likely influenced by her frequent visits to the city's gay nightclubs. She released a couple of indie singles in 1975 and 1976, but nothing much initially happened with them. However, the recordings got picked up by a small US label who remixed and released them. Both songs became hits on the US Dance chart and even made the lower rungs of the Pop chart. Island Records then came calling and signed Jones. The two remixes would be included on her debut album, 1977's Portfolio. Six more albums would be released over the years including her best effort, 1981's Nightclubbing (#32), which featured the #2 Dance/#5 R&B hit "Pull Up to the Bumper." For her eighth album, Jones moved from Island over to Manhattan and worked with producer Nile Rodgers to come up with Inside Story. This first single was issued out and it became Jones' ninth Top 10 at Dance getting to #4 while also reaching #9 at R&B. The song proved popular enough to become her first Pop chart entry since 1976. It didn't get far, but it did become her highest peaking single on the chart. The LP sold fairly well getting to #26 R&B/#81 Pop. The single and album would be Jones' last to reach the Pop charts. She followed the album up with Bulletproof Heart in 1989, but then didn't record another album until 2008's Hurricane.

ReduxReview:  I think that this song was Jones' most commercially viable single and indeed it did well at Dance and R&B. However, Pop ignored the tune. I'm not absolutely sure, but my guess is that the song's video (a cool one directed by Jones herself) was never promoted or probably even played on MTV. At the time, the lack of R&B artists (besides Prince and the Jacksons, of course) was still an issue, which was a shame. This song should have been a bigger hit and MTV's support could have made a difference. What kind of sucks too is that this song has a Eurythmics feel to it and I can easily hear Annie Lennox singing this. Had Eurythmics done this song back then, their video would have been on MTV and this certainly would have been a hit for them. But since it was Grace Jones, it got different treatment. That also bled into pop radio as well. Idiots. Well, at least the song became a club and R&B hit and is still one of Jones' best singles.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  When Jones attended college, she took theater class. That led to her doing some summer stock shows in Philadelphia. As her modeling career took off, she dabbled in a bit of acting, but it wasn't until she was an established music star that more opportunities came her way. Her first significant role was in 1984 when she co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian. She got good notices for her performance and also for her next role as a villain in the 1985 James Bond flick A View to a Kill. She would also appear in the 1986 horror-comedy Vamp and alongside Eddie Murphy in 1992's Boomerang. A couple years prior to Conan the Barbarian, Jones had the chance to be in a sci-fi flick that would turn out to be a classic of the genre. Jones was sent the script to an upcoming film titled Blade Runner. She was being considered for the role of the replicant Zhora. Jones hadn't even read the script before turning the role down on the advice of artist/photographer Jean-Paul Goude, with whom she had a personal and professional relationship. After turning down the role, Jones then read the script and realized she made a mistake. She tried to get back on board with the film, but by then Joanna Cassidy was already signed on for the role. Jones didn't make that mistake again when Conan came her way.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, November 7, 2019

"The Best Man in the World" by Ann Wilson

Song#:  2945
Date:  11/29/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  61
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Heart's Ann Wilson didn't have any inclinations to start a solo career, but she was persuaded to lend her voice to a few movie tunes in the mid-80s. The first one was a duet with Loverboy's Mike Reno, "Almost Paradise," which became a #7 hit from the soundtrack to Footloose. A couple years later, Wilson would be asked to help with another soundtrack song, this time for the Eddie Murphy comedy The Golden Child. The track would end up being a solo-billed effort by Wilson titled "The Best Man in the World" and it would be issued out as the soundtrack's first single. The tune would do well at Rock getting to #5, but it just didn't catch fire at Pop where it stopped short of the top half of the chart. A second single from the soundtrack, "Deeper Love" by Meli'sa Morgan, was released. It only got to #74 on the R&B chart. Without a significant single to promote it, the soundtrack stalled at a low #126. 

ReduxReview:  With Nancy Wilson, songwriter Sue Ennis, and producer Ron Nevison on board with this tune along with Ann Wilson, it is more-or-less a Heart song. The verse rocks along quite well, but there are odd sections in half-time that sound like they were written by a film composer (which they were, see below) and they don't quite fit the song. There is also no real chorus or hook to the tune. Half of the tune is rockin', the other half is not. It's a bit like under-baked bread. This one needed more time in the oven.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Composer John Barry was selected to do the film's score. He began the work, but issues arose with producers and he ended up leaving the project. French composer Michel Colombier then stepped in to complete the score. Although most of Barry's original music would not be used, a couple portions did make the cut. An instrumental titled "Wisdom of the Ages" would be in the film and on the soundtrack. He also wrote the music to this song. Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, and Sue Ennis would supply the lyrics.  2) The Golden Child was Eddie Murphy's next film after the hugely successful Beverly Hills Cop. It ended up being a mild box office hit, but most critics panned the flick and audience reaction was mixed. Even Murphy wasn't a fan. He stated in a 1989 interview with Rolling Stone that the movie "was a piece of shit" even though it did well and made money.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

"War" by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2944
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  45
Peak:  8
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Springsteen had a reputation for being a terrific live performer and some of his concerts would even go over the three-hour mark. Yet after a decade of recording music that resulted in seven successful studio albums, Springsteen had yet to release a live disc. As things from his #1 LP Born in the U.S.A. wound down near the end of '85, Springsteen's producer, Jon Landau, sent some concert tapes his way thinking it was time to explore a live record. Over the next few months, the pair would comb over hundreds of concert recordings that were culled over the years. They whittled down selections until they had a set of tracks that practically mimicked Springsteen's three-hour events. The songs would be spread over five LPs and boxed up to become Live /1975-85. It was ready in time for the '86 Christmas holiday period and to promote it, this first single was selected for release. The song was a hit at Rock getting to #4 while becoming his eighth Top 10 Pop entry in a row. It created even more demand for the box set and when released in mid-November, it burst on to the Album chart at the #1 position. It was only the fourth album in chart history to debut at #1 and the first since Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life in 1976. It was an epic debut for an artist who was know for giving epic concerts.

ReduxReview:  I remember when this box set came out. It was like an event. I believe that it wasn't too expensive (maybe $25?), but for a barely working college kid, that was a chunk of change. So I did the logical thing - I asked for it for Christmas. Got it! In the end, I wasn't all that enthralled with it. I should have known better because I never really liked live albums, but then it was Springsteen. It has to be something awesome. I found it to just be okay. I'm pretty sure I listened to the whole set once and then filed the box away. It was just too much for me. I might have enjoyed attending one of his mega-concerts, but to listen to it on album was a bit of a chore. I copied a few tracks I liked to cassette so I could hear them separately. This song was one of them. Springsteen applied the appropriate grit to the politically charged tune and as always the E Street Band were on point. It was a solid reading of the old hit and an appropriate choice for a single. It did well, but it has kind of been forgotten over the years.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Eventually, the box set would be certified 13x platinum making it one of the best selling concert albums of all time. However, the RIAA's policy at the time was to count each disc in a box set separately for certification. Therefore, since Springsteen's set had five discs, a purchase of the set counted as five towards certification. So while it may have been certified 13x platinum, the actual count of full box sets sold was around 4 million.  2) While Springsteen only recorded his own original songs for his albums, he would often throw in cover tunes into his concert sets. This was one of them. It was recorded at the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum on September 30, 1985. It was originally recorded by The Temptations early in 1970 for their Psychedelic Shack album and there were calls to release it as a single, but Motown refused to because they thought the political nature of it would harm the group's reputation. Instead, it got recorded by Edwin Starr and issued out in the summer of '70. The song became a big #1 Pop/#3 R&B hit.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

"Two People" by Tina Turner

Song#:  2943
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  72
Peak:  30
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Turner followed up her Grammy-winning smash album Private Dancer with her sixth solo effort Break Every Rule. Its first single, "Typical Male," got things kicked off in a good way when it reached #2 on the Pop chart. For a follow-up, this mid-tempo ballad was selected. Expectations were that it would be another Top 10 for Turner, but the results were not that good. The tune just barely made the Pop Top 30 while getting to #12 at AC and #18 R&B. It was a disappointment that played into album sales. Turner was going to need something better than this to help promote the LP.

ReduxReview:  This was another Terry Britten/Graham Lyle (one of five on the album) and like I inferred in my review of "Typical Male," the pair didn't bring their A-game to the table. Except for "Typical Male," the balance of their material written for Turner (like this track) was weak. I think they were trying for another "What's Love Got to Do with It," but it didn't work out. This wasn't a bad song. The chorus had a nice hook and it was a lovely track to hear. It just wasn't single-worthy. If you look at the singles from Private Dancer or her two movie songs, they were much stronger and far more memorable. This one was just mediocre and it showed when it failed to even get close to the Top 10.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The b-side to this single was the non-album track "Havin' a Party." It was Turner's remake of Sam Cooke's hit "Having a Party." Cooke originally wrote and recorded the song in 1962. It got to #4 R&B and #17 Pop. Three other artists would do versions of the song that would reach the Pop chart. Two were in medley form while the other was a full remake. In 1973, R&B vocal group The Ovations did a version of the song that included snippets of other songs Sam Cooke had performed. The medley got to #7 R&B/#56 Pop. Luther Vandross used the chorus of the song in his track "Bad Boy/Having a Party." That 1982 single would get to #3 R&B/#55 Pop. In 1994, Rod Stewart would perform the song during his set on the show MTV Unplugged. It would be released as a single and would get to #6 AC/#36 Pop. Turner's version was produced by Martyn Ware (of Heaven 17 and pre-Dare Human League). Ware had produced Turner's take on Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," which was the single that initially began Turner's comeback (#1 Dance/#3 R&B/#26 Pop).

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, November 4, 2019

"Heartache Away" by Don Johnson

Song#:  2942
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  56
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  Actor and sometimes musician Johnson used his newfound success on the TV show Miami Vice to fulfill his dream of being a recording artist. It paid off when the title track first single from his debut album Heartbeat made it to #5. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The blues-ish feel of the song was different from the straight ahead hooky pop/rock of "Heartbeat" and it proved less successful with the song locked out of the top half of the Pop chart. Still, the TV show and "Heartbeat" were enough to move people to buy the album and it would reach #17 and eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was not a good follow up single. Johnson had set himself up with a contemporary pop/rock sound and he needed to follow through with that or change tempo with a ballad. Instead this Springsteen-lite track with a bluesy edge was released and it wasn't what folks wanted. It was fine for an album track, but it just wasn't the right follow-up single. Johnson also souned a bit drowned out by the production. He got a brilliant artist to do background vocals (see below), but it just made his voice sound weaker. For a vanity project, Heartbeat wasn't too bad of an album, but Johnson didn't necessarily have the chops to sustain a career as a recording artist.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song featured background vocals by Bonnie Raitt. She also performed on another track on the album, the Tom Petty-written "Lost in Your Eyes." It came at a time when Raitt was in a difficult period in her career. Luckily, she would go through a major comeback with her 1989 Grammy-winning album Nick of Time.  2) It would take three years for Johnson to follow up his debut album. By the time '89 rolled around, Miami Vice was in its final season with the series' finale airing in May. With the show gone, Johnson didn't have the advantage of the extra exposure it provided as he did when he released his debut album, so his next LP had to stand on its own. In the fall of '89 he issued out Let It Roll. The first single released from it was a remake of the 1966 Aaron Neville #2 hit "Tell It Like It Is." The track was ignored and it failed to chart, as did the album. To-date it would be Johnson's last album. However, he would get one more single on the Pop chart. At the time, he was dating Barbra Streisand and a duet they did, "Till I Loved You," would make it to #22 (#3 Pop) in 1988. Streisand also appeared on Johnson's album supplying backing vocals for the track "What If It Takes All Night."

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, November 3, 2019

"That's Life" by David Lee Roth

Song#:  2941
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  85
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Roth's first full-length album, Eat 'Em and Smile, was a #4 platinum seller mainly due to the LP's first two singles, the #10 Rock/#16 Pop hit "Yankee Rose" and its follow-up "Goin' Crazy!" (#12 Rock/#66 Pop). His label attempted to keep things going with this third single, but it just couldn't grab an audience. It fell off the Pop chart after a short month while not even making the Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  This album closer was meant as a throwback to the standards Roth did on his Crazy from the Heat EP. It was actually a good choice for Roth and his lounge lizard alter ego, but it really didn't need to be released as a single. I think by this point folks were getting tired of Roth's goofy shtick and while this made for a fun final track, no one really wanted to hear Roth whacking away at another standard on the radio. He already played that card with "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody," so this one shouldn't have been dealt out. I think he got the message as he avoided cover tunes on his next LP.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although only three singles would be officially released from the album, another track would do well at Rock. Roth's remake of "Tobacco Road" would reach #10 on that chart. The song was originally written and recorded by John D. Loudermilk in 1960. His single was not a hit. Four years later, the tune was picked up by a UK garage rock group called The Nashville Teens and they would be the first artist to make it a hit. The single got to #6 in the UK and #14 in the US. The only other artist to reach the US Pop chart with the song was the San Diego rock band Jamul. Their 1970 version peaked at a minor #93.  2) This song is a remake of one made famous by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra's version became a #4 Pop/#1 AC hit in 1967, but he was not the first to record the tune. Jazz singer Marion Montgomery first got the tune and recorded it in 1964. Her single did not chart. Then R&B/jazz singer O.C. Smith recorded a version in 1966. His take on the tune didn't chart either. However, Sinatra heard Smith's version on his car radio and immediately wanted to record it. He did in 1966 and the single was released late in the year. It went Top 10 early in '67. Thus far, Roth is the only other artist to reach the Pop chart with a version of the song.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, November 2, 2019

"Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by Georgia Satellites

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2940
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  2
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  This Atlanta band began in 1980 as Keith and the Satellites, but after some personnel changes they eventually became the Georgia Satellites. The band recorded a six-song demo with producer Jeff Glixman, but it didn't attract any interest and in 1984 the band decided to call it quits. As members moved on to other bands and jobs, their manager kept hawking the demo and a small British label bit. They assembled the demo into an album and in 1985 released it as Keep the Faith. Suddenly, the disc started to attract attention and that led to band members Dan Baird (lead singer/songwriter) and Rick Richards (guitar) getting back together to revive the Georgia Satellites. Other larger labels started to take notice and in 1986 the band officially signed with Elektra Records. They retained Glixman as producer and began work on a self-titled debut album. By the fall, this first single would be issued out. The simple song with a retro-rock feel quickly became a hit at Rock getting to #2. Thanks to MTV pushing the associated video, the song crossed over to the Pop chart and made it to the runner-up position. People not only bought the single, but they purchased the album as well. It would get to #5 and later in '87 would receive a platinum sales certification.

ReduxReview:  This song was built around a basic 12-bar blues pattern, which wasn't commonly heard in 80s pop chart music. Baird and the boys gave the classic staple a Southern rock twist with chunky, Stones-like guitars, good melodies, and memorable lyrics like the opening line and "no hug-ee, no kiss-ee." Add in a fun video for MTV and a left-field hit was born. Every now and then the old classic sounds come around again and it attracts a fresh, younger audience. The problem though is that the revival is usually short-lived, liked the Stray Cats' rockabilly moment. So the odds were against the band for having further hits, but at least they had this terrific single that would be a bar band staple for years to come.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Producer Jeff Glixman broke through in the business when he produced/co-produced four albums for the rock band Kansas. He worked with the band first on their 1975 second LP Song for America and its 1977 follow-up Masque. But it was the band's next two albums that put them and Glixman on the map. 1976's Leftoverture and 1977's Point of No Return would both be quad-platinum Top 10 albums. Leftoverture featured the #11 gold record "Carry on My Wayward Son" while Point of No Return would include their classic #6 platinum record "Dust in the Wind." After four albums together, Kansas moved on to self-producer their next LP while Glixman worked with other artists. They would work together again on a live album in 1992 and then a new studio LP in 1995 titled Freaks of Nature. While he wouldn't server as producer, Glixman would mix a couple more of the band's studio albums.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, November 1, 2019

"French Kissin" by Debbie Harry

Song#:  2939
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  57
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Harry's first solo album, 1981's KooKoo, didn't spawn any major singles, but the album still sold well hitting #25 and going gold. She returned to her band Blondie in 1982 for the lackluster The Hunter. The tepid results of the album along with internal struggles and member (and Harry's boyfriend) Chris Stein's illness contributed to the break up of the band. Harry's solo recording career was spotty afterward. She recorded a couple of soundtrack songs and took time to star in the 1983 horror flick Videodrome. She finally got back in the studio in '86 to record her second full-length solo album with producer Seth Justman (of the J. Geils Band). It would be titled Rockbird and this song was the first single lifted from the LP. The track performed below expectations stumbling in the bottom half of the Pop chart while eking out a #44 showing at Dance. The results didn't help the album, which crawled to #95. However, outside of the States results were far better. This song would reach the Top 10 in some other countries including the UK where it became her biggest solo hit (#8). The album would end up being a gold seller in the UK as well. In the US, this song was released simply as "French Kissin." In other territories, it was released as "French Kissin in the U.S.A."

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that caught on in other parts of the world, but just didn't click in the States. I always thought that was kind of a bummer as this is a fun song. The verse sounds like a lost relic from some 60s Europop tune while the chorus is immediate and memorable. Justman also gives it a nice 80s production with swirling keyboards that float in and out. I'm not sure what turned off listeners in the US. Maybe a song about french kissing was a bit too much? Whatever the reason, folks lost out. This should have been a much bigger hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Harry co-wrote all the songs on Rockbird except for this one. It was written by Chuck Lorre. If that name seems familiar, then you are probably a fan of TV shows like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, or Mom. Lorre has been a successful writer/producer for TV shows since 1990. He is also the creator of several hit shows including the previous three mentioned. Before going into TV, Lorre had been playing guitar and performing on his own and with bands. He also wrote songs and this particular one wound its way over to Debbie Harry. His next major music effort was co-writing the theme song to the 1987 animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While doing all of this, Lorre was beginning to break into script writing for TV shows. His first big break came when he wrote twelve episodes of the 1987-1990 comedy series My Two Dads. Next came his tumultuous stint (1990-1992) as writer/executive producer on the hit show Roseanne. After he was fired from that job, he began to create his own shows. His first one,1992's Frannie's Turn was a six-episode bomb. But his next one,1993's Grace Under Fire starring Brett Butler, was a hit. That led to other successful shows like Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Young Sheldon, and the three previously mentioned. Although he didn't create it, he did write and exec produce Mike & Molly as well. Music certainly took a backseat once his TV career took off, but at least he has this Debbie Harry track to highlight on his musical resume.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, October 31, 2019

"This Is the Time" by Billy Joel

Song#:  2938
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  78
Peak:  18
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Joel's tenth album, The Bridge, would end up being a double-platinum seller thanks to a pair of #10 hits including the rock-leaning "A Matter of Trust." To try and eke out more sales, this third single was issued out. The reflective tune was a hit at AC where it became his seventh #1 on that chart. The news wasn't quite as good at Pop where the single stalled just inside the Top 20. Still, it was Joel's twentieth Pop Top 20 entry.

ReduxReview:  I'm guessing the sentiment of the song and the chorus is what pushed this up to the top spot at AC. For Pop radio, this was kind of a boring song. It didn't have much to offer besides a somewhat memorable chorus. I was surprised it made the Top 20. After its chart run, the song disappeared. It is rarely heard anymore and often gets left off of his hits collections (usually in favor of his lower charting duet with Ray Charles, "Baby Grand"). Joel's career still had enough gas in the tank to help power this ho-hum tune up the chart.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Joel's tour for The Bridge took him to a place where Western rock music wasn't necessarily accepted. During the Cold War, rock music from Western artists was not allowed in the USSR so virtually no major music stars performed there. In 1979, Elton John submitted a request to perform in the Soviet Union and it was accepted. He performed eight shows and it was seen as a successful event, but it certainly didn't break down the door for other artists to flow in. A few acts, like James Taylor and Santana, did one-off appearances at a festival, but their performances and even John's few theater shows were not like their normal touring productions. As the Cold War began to thaw a bit in the late 80s and the implementation of Gorbachev's "glasnost" openness policy, the Soviet government decided to invite a pop/rock star from the States to do a small, six show, fully produced tour. They settled on Billy Joel as they thought he was a good, safe first choice. Joel accepted and in the Summer of '87 went over. Russians were not used to stadium rock shows, so Joel's shows were a bit awkward at the start, but eventually went well (save for a diva-sized meltdown by Joel at one of his shows directed at his lighting crew). The Russian economy wasn't necessarily the best and so Joel ended up investing a couple million of his own money to support the shows. To help recoup costs, a film crew was sent along to record the shows and plans were made to release a live album. The double disc titled Kohuept (or Kontsert) was issued out in the fall of '87. It would reach #38 and go platinum. There was one single released from the LP, a cover of The Beatles' "Back in the U.S.S.R." It failed to make the Pop chart, but was a very minor entry at Rock (#45). A few more acts would perform in Russia afterwards and more would be able to do so following the end of the Cold War.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"Will You Still Love Me" by Chicago

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2937
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  3
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Chicago's first album after losing co-founder Peter Cetera, Chicago 18, did not get off to a good start. Its first single, a remake of the band's own 1970 hit "25 or 6 to 4," stalled at a minor #48. They needed something to turn the album around and so they went with this track that was co-written by their producer, hitmaker David Foster. The power ballad was more in line with what the band had been putting out most of the decade and that familiarity reignited interest in the band and the song took off to become their sixteenth Pop Top 10 hit. It would also get to #2 on the AC chart. The tune's success finally sparked sales of the album and it would reach #35 and go gold by the end of the year. It was a fortunate turnaround for an album that was on the brink of being a major disappointment.

ReduxReview:  Okay, so I don't dislike this song. It's actually pretty good. The lyrics are sappy, but the music is solid as is Foster's production. However, by this point in time I was just tired of the whole Chicago/Foster thing. Their formula was just getting boring. To top it off, they hired a new singer (Jason Scheff) that Foster had told to sing like Peter Cetera. So there was nothing new or original here. Yet it worked for them as far as this hit, so that was good for them. I just ended up tuning out and ignoring the band.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by David Foster, Tom Keane, and Richard Baskin. Baskin was a composer whose career was escalated when he wrote songs for the 1975 Robert Altman film Nashville. That led to him being the musical guest on a second season episode of Saturday Night Live. (It also helped that his sister was the photographer who supplied the stills used during the show's opening theme.) Sissy Spacek was the guest host and she and Baskin did a duet on the song "One, I Love You," a tune that was originally performed in Nashville by Henry Gibson and Ronee Blakely. For his second number, Baskin did a solo piece titled "City of One-Night Stands." Baskin would later produce two tracks on Barbra Streisand's Grammy-winning The Broadway Album. If his last name is familiar, it should be. He is the son of the man who co-founded the Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

"Stop to Love" by Luther Vandross

Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2936
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  15
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Vandross' fifth album, Give Me the Reason, started off well with the #3 R&B title-track hit. It was his tenth Top 10 on that chart. Yet like most of his other singles, the track failed to make much of an impression at Pop and it stopped at #57. Still in search of his first significant crossover hit, Vandross released this album opening track. The song would be a major hit at R&B becoming his second #1. It was also a winner at AC reaching #7 while making it to #27 at Dance. The song crossed over to Pop where it became his biggest hit to-date getting inside the Top 20. In turn, the album would do well hitting #1 at R&B and #14 Pop. It was a significant step forward in mainstream acceptance for Vandross, but he was still missing that elusive Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  After all these years, I'm still peeved this didn't make the Pop Top 10. I mean, what more could this guy do to secure a major hit? By this point in time this track should have been his fourth Pop Top 10 but for some reason pop radio and listeners didn't give him a fair shake and he was still shut out after this tune. What the hell were they thinking? AC even handed him his second Top 10 there with this song. Everything was lined up perfectly for this song to be a big hit. It had elements of R&B and dance-pop along with an indelible chorus (I love when the background vocals just shout "STOP!"), excellent 80s production, nice guitar solo (by Doc Powell), and the amazing voice of Vandross. It was near perfection. Plus it had a fun, memorable video that featured Vandross and his model crew performing the song on top of a vehicle that was driving around L.A. (which MTV didn't promote). At minimum, this should have been a Top 5 smash. Alas, it was kept down to #15, which wasn't a bad result by any means, but c'mon. Vandross had been virtually ignored at Pop since his 1981 debut and it would still take another three years after this before he would finally crack the Pop Top 10. Unbelievable. Regardless, his albums were still platinum and double-platinum sellers. But imagine if he had pop/MTV support. Those same LPs might have sold 3-4 million and put him on par with other mega stars of the day. He'd still be a revered superstar, but it would take nearly a decade for him to truly find crossover acceptance.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Vandross would struggle with weight his whole life and it was a particularly tough thing to deal with in the 80s thanks to the advent of MTV. With videos becoming so popular, an artist's image became more important than ever before and a husky R&B singer was not what MTV was looking for regardless of album sales or popularity. So for his Give Me the Reason album, Vandross dieted and lost over 85 pounds in hopes that a sleeker chassis would help his image and MTV appeal. It didn't really work. Airplay for "Stop to Love" was minimal at best despite the song climbing the charts. Adding insult to injury, his weigh loss became the subject of speculation after a British magazine, Blues and Soul, printed a story that attributed Vandross' weight loss to AIDS. Vandross successfully sued the magazine for libel. With the dieting not doing much for his career, Vandross gained back the weight back. He would end up dealing with diabetes and hypertension. He would suffer a stroke in 2003 and then die of a heart attack in 2005 at the age of 54.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, October 28, 2019

"Miami" by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Song#:  2935
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  70
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  With two hits nearly going Top 10 at Pop and three tracks reaching the Rock Top 10, including the #1 title track, Seger's Like a Rock album (#3) was shaping up to be another multi-platinum seller. Indeed over time it would be certified triple platinum. Hoping to squeeze one more hit out of the LP, the label released this fourth single, but it didn't do much to further promote the album. The track made it to a low #42 at Rock while barely making it out of the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. Still, the album outperformed its predecessor, 1982's double-platinum The Distance (#5).

ReduxReview:  This was another good track from Seger, but like his previous single, "It's You" (#52), it was just a bit too laid back to crush through the pop radio competition. I'm sure that by the time this was being released it had been picked up for use (see below) and they were perhaps trying to make a hit out if it just prior to the show's airing, but it just wasn't strong enough to make the journey up the chart. 

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song got picked up and used in the hit TV show Miami Vice. It would be used in an episode titled "Cuba Libre" that aired in January of '87. That episode featured a rare acting appearance by Latin music star Willie Colón. Colón began as a trombonist but also branched out to singing and songwriting. Over his career he has earned ten Grammy nominations and in 2004 received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Latin branch of the Grammys. Seger's "Miami" track was not his first to be used on the show. In an earlier episode, a track from Seger's 1976 hit album Night Moves, "Come to Poppa," was used in the opening sequence.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, October 27, 2019

"Thorn in My Side" by Eurythmics

Song#:  2934
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  68
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  While it wasn't a smash hit like some of their previous singles, "Missionary Man," the first single from their fifth album Revenge, did well reaching #1 at Rock, #6 Dance, and #14 Pop. It would also earn the duo a Grammy. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. Unfortunately, the song couldn't gain an audience and it fizzled out after a couple of months on the chart. Yet thanks to the first single, the album sold well and grabbed a gold certification the month before this song was issued out.

ReduxReview:  With its opening guitar riff, pounding drums, spoken word into, harmonica, and "whoa-whoa's", this sounds like their version of an early-to-mid 60s British pop/rock song. I've always liked the song, but I'm not sure it was the best choice for a single. It did well in the UK (see below) probably because more people were familiar with the style of music they were kind of paying tribute to. In the US, it was kind of lost. I think the more Motown-ish "A Little of You" might have been a better choice. Even though "When Tomorrow Comes" didn't do so well in the UK, the rock-leaning track might have done better in the US. So while I really like this tune, it just wasn't the right song to release.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The choice and order of singles from Eurythmics' albums quite often varied between the US market and the duo's UK homeland (and the rest of Europe as well). To promote Revenge, the first single in the UK was "When Tomorrow Comes." It was not a big hit only reaching #30. It was followed up by "Thorn in My Side," which did well getting to #5. It would end up being their final UK Top 10. "The Miracle of Love" was the third single (#23) while "Missionary Man" ended up fourth (#31).  By contrast, "Missionary Man" was the first single in the US followed by "Thorn in My Side." With that second release not doing well, no further singles were issued out in the US. With four charting singles including one Top 10 in the UK, the album fared better and got to #3. It would be their second studio album to go double-platinum in the UK.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, October 26, 2019

"You Got It All" by The Jets

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2933
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  3
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  This family band grabbed their first major crossover hit with "Crush on You" (#3 Pop/#4 R&B/#4 Dance), the second single from their self-titled debut album. A third single didn't generate much interest, but the label went ahead and issued out this fourth attempt. The ballad was a slow starter, but eventually it crawled its way up into the Pop Top 10. It did even better at R&B getting to #2 and then even better at AC where it hit #1. The album had already reached gold-level sales in September, but this hit spurred more copies to be bought and by the summer of '87 it went platinum.

ReduxReview:  Had this been released as the second single, I think it might have topped the Pop chart. Instead, it had to fight its way up the chart following the dismal showing of "Private Number." Luckily, this song was so well written that it was able to regain the audience they lost. It featured a lovely performance by Elizabeth Wolfgramm. It was a pretty tune that was perfect for the young family band and it appealed to a lot of folks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Rupert Holmes. Holmes was a recording artist himself who had a very memorable hit in 1979 with "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" (#1 Pop/#8 AC) and its 1980 follow-up "Him" (#6 Pop/#4 AC). He also wrote songs for other artists and branched out to Broadway with the hit Tony-winning 1985 musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was while he was working with Drood that his manager approached him about writing a song for a new family act. They were looking for a ballad and the lead singer would be the 14-year-old sister in the group. Holmes thought it would be a challenge to write a love song appropriate for her to sing and for others around her age to understand. He also thought about his own 10-year-old daughter when writing it and her being able to share the song with her friends. He came up with "You Got It All" and The Jets recorded the tune. It became a big hit, but sadly it was one that Holmes was unable to enjoy. Prior to the release of the record, his daughter died from a brain tumor. Holmes' own version of the song can be heard on his 2005 career-spanning box set Cast of Characters.  2) Britney Spears recorded a version of this song during the sessions that lead to her debut album. Apparently, her version of this song was the one that tipped the scales in her favor and got the label fully on board with her as an artist. Unfortunately, the song didn't make the final track listing of her 1999 smash debut LP ...Baby One More Time.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, October 25, 2019

"Some People" by Paul Young

Song#:  2932
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  65
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Paul Young broke through in a big way in the US with his second album The Secrets of Association. The gold-selling album featured his remake of the Hall & Oates tune "Everytime You Go Away," which reached #1. Young co-wrote five tracks for that album and so for his next effort, Between Two Fires, he upped it to eight. That total included this first single. It debuted low on the chart and then never really took off. It stopped far short of the Top 40. It did just slightly better at Rock getting to #43. Further singles failed to reach any chart and that pretty much doomed the album. It halted at #77 and disappeared soon after. It was a major disappointment following the success of The Secrets of Association. The LP did better in his UK homeland where it got to #4 and went platinum. Three singles would reach the chart there, but only the lead single "Wonderland" would get anywhere hitting #24.

ReduxReview:  Up to this point, Young had six singles that made it on the US Pop chart. All were cover tunes except the #56 "Everything Must Change," which Young co-wrote. I think he got to the point where he wanted his own music be the focus instead of the remakes and so he loaded up the next album with more of his compositions. While that was fine, the problem then became that he had to write at least one song with hit potential. Unfortunately, he didn't accomplish that. I'm assuming this track was considered the one with the most commercial appeal from the album. If that was the case, his label should have sent him back to the studio to try again. This was a snoozer that had a painfully light blue-eyed soul shuffle and a forgettable chorus. It was a very weak single choice and the chart peak reflected that. It didn't do any better in the UK getting to #56. As a singer, Young is excellent and does well with cover tunes. When it comes to writing his own songs, he's a bit limited. I tried to listen to the full album, but bailed halfway through because I was just bored. It's not that the tunes are bad, they just weren't good enough to keep my attention. He would rebound with two more cover songs (see below), but trying to push himself out to the masses as a hit songwriter was the costly mistake he made with this album.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Although this would be Young's last single to reach the Pop chart in the 80s, he would have two more entries in the 90s. His next album, Other Voices, contained Young's remake of "Oh Girl," a song originally recorded by The Chi-Lites in 1972. Their version made it to #1 on both the Pop and R&B charts. Young's cover became an unexpected hit in the US and got to #8 Pop and #1 AC. Despite the hit, the album didn't sell and it stalled at a minor #142. It would be his last album to chart in the US. Later in 1992, Young contributed the track "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" to the soundtrack of the hit film Fried Green Tomatoes. That song was originally a hit for Jimmy Ruffin in 1966. Ruffin's version reached #7 Pop and #6 R&B. Young's remake got to #22 Pop and #1 AC. It would be his last charting single in the US.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, October 24, 2019

"Stranglehold" by Paul McCartney

Song#:  2931
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  81
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  McCartney's sixth solo-billed studio album, Press to Play, did not get off to a great start. The LP's first single, "Press," was not a significant hit. It failed to get close to the Top 10 stopping at a low #21.  McCartney needed a follow-up single to do well in order to push album sales and this track was selected for the task. Unfortunately, it performed even worse only spending a minor few weeks near the bottom of the chart. A third single, "Only Love Remains," would actually be a hit at AC getting to #9, but it failed to reach the Pop chart. Without a significant hit to promote the album, it stopped at #31 and failed to reach gold-level sales. It was McCartney's first post-Beatles studio album to not get a sales certification. The disappointing results of the album sparked McCartney to work extra hard on his next effort, which he would not have ready until the summer of '89.

ReduxReviewPress to Play wasn't an album that was full of viable singles. Besides "Press" there wasn't much in the way of radio-friendly material. It probably wasn't the case, but I kind of feel that by this point McCartney still wanted to experiment a bit, but had an attitude like "hey, I'll record what I want and I'm sure something will stick and it will be a hit as usual." Not necessarily complacent, but perhaps figuring that whatever he did would be received with open arms and without question. I'm sure his management had a bunch of yes-men that concurred, which never helps. While the album was certainly an interesting one in his catalog, it wasn't one with commercial prospects. The first single faltered and then this jazz-rock-blues track fizzled big time. And it should have. It wasn't even close to being single-worthy. The single that the UK got instead of this one (see below) was an even worse candidate, although it was a more interesting listen. I think McCartney learned after this album that not everything he did would lead to gold and if he wanted to continue to compete with the popular artists of the day he was going to have to raise his game and not rely on his legendary status. It would take him nearly three years to complete his next album, so it seems he did take a step back to reorganize. Did it pay off? Tune in when this blog finally gets to '89! In the meantime, we are stuck here with the messier side of McCartney.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This single was only issued in the US and Canada. In other territories the second single from the album was "Pretty Little Head." It didn't perform any better only getting to #76 in the UK. "Only Love Remains" would be the common third single. It didn't reach the US Pop chart, but it did get to #34 in the UK.  2) The 80s were the decade of the event/charity song thanks to "Do They Know It's Christmas" and "We Are the World." After Press to Play and before his next album in '89, McCartney would contribute to three charity-based singles. The first was a remake of The Beatles' "Let It Be." Organized by the UK tabloid The Sun, the single was to benefit victims of a ferry that capsized after leaving the docks in Zeebrugge, Belgium, killing 193 people. The song featured a long list of musicians including McCartney, Kate Bush, Boy George, and Kim Wilde. It was released as being by Ferry Aid. The song reached #1 in the UK. Next was the 1988 single "Children in Need," which was organized by the BBC for their charity of the same name. The single was listed as by Spirit of Play. McCartney was the only superstar to work on the song. He produced it and played bass. The indie-released song didn't get a lot of attention and only peaked at #72 in the UK. Finally, a few Liverpool artists including McCartney, Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), and Gerry Marsden (Gerry & the Pacemakers) got together to record "Ferry Across the Mersey" as a benefit for the victims of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster prior to an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Masses of people trying to get into the stadium for the match caused a backup and it ended up with a giant crush of people where 96 died and over 700 were injured. The single would reach #1 on the UK chart. Marsden wrote the song and it was originally recorded by him and his band the Pacemakers in 1964. It would be a hit the UK (#8) and the US (#6).

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"I Want to Make the World Turn Around" by Steve Miller Band

Song#:  2930
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  97
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  It had been two years since Miller released his synth-heavy experimental album Italian X-Rays. That LP was not well-received and it became one of Miller's worst performing albums reaching only #106. That was in sharp contrast to his previous album Abracadabra, which was a #3 platinum hit. For his next effort, Miller decided to chuck the modern sounds and get back to blues-influenced rock that made him famous. Living in the 20th Century would feature five self-penned tracks along with several blues covers. Rock radio had ignored all the songs from Italian X-Rays, but when this first single was issued out, it was welcomed with arms wide open. The tune hit the top of the Rock chart and stayed there for a six-week run. That seemed to bode well for success on the Pop chart, but the song couldn't even get a foothold. It spent a very minor three weeks near the bottom of the chart. No other songs from the album would reach any chart. Still, this song's success at Rock helped sell some albums and it peaked at #65. Not great, but much better than his previous disc. Miller would release a solo billed covers album in '88 titled Born 2 B Blue. It generated the #10 Rock track "Ya Ya," but the LP didn't sell well and stopped at #108. It was his last LP for his home label of Capitol, with whom he had been with since 1968. Miller would have one more song reach the Pop and Rock charts. In 1993, the title track from his album Wild River would get to #7 at Rock and #64 Pop. He has only released two albums since then. In 2016, Miller was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

ReduxReview:  This atmospheric track was certainly better than anything off of Italian X-Rays, but it wasn't necessarily the most pop-radio friendly tune. It had a bit of a Pink Floyd-ish feel to it and almost sounded like something from a concept album. Rock radio certainly jumped on it, but I'm not surprised that it was ignored at Pop. This track was just too subtle to compete with the more forceful, hooky dance-pop, rock, and R&B jams crowding the airwaves and MTV. Still, it could be considered a bit of a comeback after the disastrous Italian X-Rays.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  On the back cover of this album, Miller had printed "Dedicated to the loving memory of Jimmy Reed." Reed was an influential blues musician and songwriter who had success in late 50s and early 60s when he would score ten R&B Top 10s. Several of his hits like "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," "Big Boss Man," and "Bright Lights, Big City" would be covered by many artists including The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Animals, Elvis Presley, and The Grateful Dead. Miller and his band recorded Reed's "You're So Fine" for their album Sailor (1968). Having been influenced by Reed, Miller decided to record four of Reed's tunes, three of which were written by Reed, for the Living in the 20th Century album. Reed had passed away in 1976 at the age of 50, but his influence reached far beyond that. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

"Talk to Me" by Chico DeBarge

Song#:  2929
Date:  11/08/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  21
Weeks:  20
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  The DeBarge family consisted of ten children. The first seven born found success in music with two brothers in the band Switch and the other five siblings hitting it big as DeBarge. Their younger brother Chico (the eighth DeBarge kid born Jonathan Arthur) was barely a teenager when the family band started and didn't join them. His brothers and sister found fame and fortune and it wasn't long before Chico wanted to join the music business. With his siblings doing well on Motown's Gordy label, that certainly provided him with a foot in the door already and indeed it helped him to get signed to Motown. It also helped that he had the family's talent gene and he was able to show it off with his 1986 self-titled debut album. This first single kicked off his career and it did quite well. The song got into the R&B Top 10 (#7) while crossing over to the Pop chart where it nearly cracked the Top 20. It also got to #11 at Dance. The hit helped his album get to #25 R&B and #90 Pop. A second single didn't do as well ("The Girl Next Door," #59 R&B), but this song showed he had the goods to do as well as his other siblings. Unfortunately, his career got sidelined in 1988 (see below), but eventually he would come back and have a little success.

ReduxReview:  This track was different from the dance-pop/AC balladry that his siblings had been serving up. It had a fresher sound that was akin to Prince's and the Minneapolis crowd. The production was terrific and it grooved along quite well. I also like Chico's voice. It's different from El DeBarge's crooning falsetto. The chorus is good, but seems a bit odd being sung by the background singers with Chico riffing around them. Overall, it was a quality debut song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Sadly, like some of his siblings, Chico got involved with drugs. Not long after the release of his second album, 1987's Kiss Serious, he was arrested for drug trafficking along with his older brother Bobby and four others. Chico and another man were transporting over two pounds of cocaine via a commercial flight from L.A. to Detroit. Authorities found the drugs in their bags at the Detroit airport. Bobby and another man had purchased the drugs in an L.A. club. Both Chico and Bobby were sentenced to over five years in prison. After his release, Chico got back to work on his solo career. He released three albums between '97 and '03 including 1999's The Game, which got to #6 R&B/#41 Pop thanks to the #11 R&B/#71 Pop hit "Give You What You Want (Fa Sure)." But then drugs got in the way of his career again when he was arrested in 2007 for drug possession. He ended up in rehab and once he cleaned up, he recorded a new album in 2009 appropriately titled Addiction.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, October 21, 2019

"Tasty Love" by Freddie Jackson

Song#:  2928
Date:  11/08/1986
Debut:  84
Peak:  41
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Jackson's debut album, 1985's Rock Me Tonight, was a #1 R&B platinum seller thanks to four R&B Top 10 hits including two #1's - the title track (#18 Pop) and "You Are My Lady" (#12 Pop/#3 AC). It was quite the debut and it left Jackson with the daunting task of following it up. He came out of the studio with his second LP Just Like the First Time. This first single introduced the album and it became his third solo single to top the R&B chart (fourth overall, see below). It stayed at #1 for four weeks. The tune crossed over to the Pop chart, but unlike his two other #1's it couldn't break into the Top 40. It stopped at the dreaded #41 spot. Despite the lack of support at Pop, the album would be a huge hit at R&B hitting #1 and staying there for an amazing 26 weeks (23 of them consecutive).

ReduxReview:  The vibe of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" is all over this one, yet it doesn't sound like an imitation. Jackson nails the vocals and the groove is quite sweet. Plus, how can you resist a song called "Tasty Love?" I'm surprised Prince didn't think of that one first. The song is good, but I don't think it was as hooky as his previous two Pop entries and that is probably why it stopped shy of the Top 40. It's too bad as this song was...well...tasty.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In between his albums, Jackson appeared as a guest on Melba Moore's album A Lot of Love. Jackson would duet with Moore on the track "A Little Bit More." The song would be the LP's second single and it would end up hitting #1. It was Moore's first #1 on the chart and Jackson's third. The two were already familiar with each other as Jackson had previously been one of Moore's backup singers.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, October 20, 2019

"Stay the Night" by Benjamin Orr

Song#:  2927
Date:  11/08/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  24
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Although Orr was mainly the bassist in The Cars, he also wrote some of the band's songs and took a turn at lead vocals on occasion. He wrote and sang what would be the band's biggest hit, the #3 "Drive" (1984). When the band took a break after the release of their Greatest Hits album, Orr decided to be the fourth member of the band to do a solo project. He and his girlfriend Diane Grey Page would co-write and co-produce all the tracks on Orr's debut LP The Lace. This first single was issued out and it did well at Rock getting to #6. It couldn't do quite that well at Pop and it ended up peaking outside the Top 20. However, it was a surprising success at AC where it reached #2. A follow-up single, "Too Hot to Stop," got to #25 at Rock, but failed to chart elsewhere. The album sold a few copies and made it to #86. It would end up being Orr's only solo recording. He would continue with The Cars and do other projects over the years. Unfortunately, Orr died of cancer in 2000.

ReduxReview:  Unlike Ric Ocasek's solo work which didn't stray to far from The Cars' sound, Orr ignores much of the band's chugging new wave and goes for modern pop/rock with an 80s production sheen. No one would mistake this track or others on the album as Cars tracks and that's a good thing. Orr was staking out his own territory and it worked pretty well. This mid-tempo tune was a good choice for a single. It kind of has a Foreigner-lite feel and it fits Orr's voice well. The chorus was memorable and I thought it would crack the Top 10. Oddly, despite large support at Rock and AC, the tune fizzled in the Top 30. It should have done better, but at least Orr showed that Ocasek wasn't the only one who could survive on their own outside of The Cars.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Orr's given last name is Orzechowski. When he was growing up, friends and classmates would call him "Benny 11 Letters."  2) Orr's first band was the Cleveland, Ohio, area group the Grasshoppers. They became the house band for a local variety TV show called The Big 5 Show, which began in 1964. They stayed around for 13 episodes of the weekly program, but eventually broke up in 1966. As the story goes, it was after their last appearance on The Big 5 (later titled Upbeat when it went into syndication) that a local musician by the name of Ric Ocasek called up Orr after seeing the show. The two got together and wrote some songs. It took them a while to figure things out (various cites, various band), but by 1976 they were in Boston and had come together with three other musicians to form The Cars.


_________________________________________________________________________________