Sunday, May 26, 2019

"Rumbleseat" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Song#:  2780
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  78
Peak:  28
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Mellencamp's Scarecrow album already generated four hits. Three of them were Top 10's while his last one, "Rain on the Scarecrow," just missed the Top 20 reaching #21. With interest in Mellencamp and the album still going, the label decided to push out a fifth single. This next track was selected to be released. It would do well at Rock getting to #4, but it was a bit sluggish at Pop and could only step inside the Top 30. It would be the last single released from the album which would go on to sell over five million copies.

ReduxReview:  There were two good candidates for a fifth single from the LP. This one and "Minutes to Memories." I think "Minutes to Memories" is the stronger song, but it had already been a hit at Rock radio earlier in February of '86. It was also a darker tune, which probably wasn't what was wanted after the dramatic "Rain on the Scarecrow." "Rumbleseat" by comparison was a short burst of rock with a good groove and a more upbeat tone. It was probably the better one at the time for a single, but either way I think the results would have been about the same. The album's initial life cycle was wearing down, so any single was going to have a difficult scaling the chart. It's still a great song though.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In addition to the five singles that reached the Pop chart, there were two other tracks on the album that got enough airplay to reach the Rock chart. "Minutes to Memories" would get to #14 while "Justice and Independence '85" would make a minor impression at #28. In addition to these seven songs, one other Mellencamp tune made the Rock chart during this time period. In the sessions for the Scarecrow album, he recorded a version of the classic hit "Under the Boardwalk." The track would end up on the b-side to "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." Rock radio picked it up for airplay and the cover tune made it to #19 on the chart. "Under the Boardwalk" was originally a #4 hit in 1964 for The Drifters. Many artists have covered the song over the years including Bette Midler who performed recorded it for the soundtrack to her 1988 movie Beaches. It was actually issued out as the first single from the soundtrack to promote the movie, but it didn't chart. (Obviously, the soundtrack later became famous for Midler's #1 hit "Wind Beneath My Wings.") Over the years, only two other artists have been able to reach the Pop chart with a cover of "Under the Boardwalk." Billy Joe Royal made it to #82 in 1978 and Bruce Willis got to #59 in 1987.

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

"Taken In" by Mike + the Mechanics

Song#:  2779
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  32
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  This Genesis off-shoot group headed up by Mike Rutherford was awarded a gold album for their successful self-titled debut album. It featured two Top 10 hits including the #5 "All I Need Is a Miracle." A third single from the LP was needed in order to follow-up that hit and this album closing track was selected. The ballad wouldn't make it into the Pop Top 10 like the previous two singles, but it did at least reach the Top 40. It did much better at AC where the tune made it to #7. Oddly, their two previous singles also peaked at #7 on the AC chart. A fourth single, "Hanging on By a Thread," was issued out in Europe, but it failed to chart. It never received an official release in the US.

ReduxReview:  This is a lovely, easy-going tune that was a great fit for AC radio. It might have been a bit too subtle for pop radio, but I think it should have done a better on the chart. It nearly had an updated 70s yacht rock feel to it, which was a nice change of pace from noisy 80s sythpop. It was refreshing to hear a memorable track on the radio that didn't hit you over the head with hooks or was full of screaming synths. Another quality track from the band.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  For their 1983 self-titled album, Genesis decided to write and record songs on the spot in the studio. Previously, band members would bring in partial or full songs to sessions that they would then flesh out and record. For Genesis, they collaborated together creating the songs in the studio. The band would first record themselves improvising and then take ideas from the jam session to create songs. One section of a session piqued the interest of Mike Rutherford. He though there was something that could be done with it, but the other two-thirds of Genesis (Phil Collins and Tony Banks) weren't fond of the passage so the band skipped any further development. When putting together the material for the Mike + the Mechanics debut LP, Rutherford remember the snippet and revisited it. He and his producer Christopher Neil developed and finished the song "A Call to Arms" with B.A. Robertson. However, because Rutherford used ideas from the Genesis session, he had to seek permission from his bandmates to use the tune. They agreed and the song became a part of the Mechanics' debut album. Collins and Banks are credited on the track as co-writers.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

"If Anybody Had a Heart" by John Waite

Song#:  2778
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  76
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Waite's third album Mask of Smiles was a disappointment. With only a slight Top 30 single, "Every Step of the Way," the LP failed to live up to expectations set by his previous gold seller No Brakes. He'd have to come up with something better for his fourth album, but in the meantime he got the chance to contribute a song to a film soundtrack. This tune was used in the Demi Moore/Rob Lowe rom-com About Last Night... and would get issued out as the soundtrack's first single. It picked up some airplay at Rock and made it to #24, but at Pop it just couldn't rise out of the bottom quarter of the chart. While not a setback for Waite since it was a one-off soundtrack song, it didn't do much to advance his career or regain fans.

ReduxReview:  This is an interesting song and is pretty much better than anything on Waite's previous album. It probably helped that Waite didn't write this one. It was written and produced by Danny Kortchmar and J.D. Souther with an assist on production by Don Henley. Indeed, it nearly sounds like a song that might have found a home on a Henley album. I'm guessing that it probably was a song intended for and rejected by Henley that found its way to the soundtrack and Waite. It's a bit more on the poppier side of things than what Waite had been doing, so he had a chance to do well with it, but the tune just didn't catch on. The hook is fine and I like the odd bridge, but the verse seems long and when it finally builds to the chorus, the payoff is not that satisfying. Plus, it totally ripped off a guitar lick from Steve Perry's "Oh Sherrie" in the instrumental section. It was a good effort to get Waite back on the chart, but the tune just couldn't do the job.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Rob Lowe and Demi Moore had co-starred in the critically panned brat pack "classic" St. Elmo's Fire in 1985. About Last Night... would pair them up again the following year. This time around the film was critically well-received and it made just a tad more money than St. Elmo's. However, in the long run St. Elmo's has been remembered more due to it being a cultural reference point thanks to the brat pack stars involved and the film's hit theme, the #1 "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" by John Parr. About Last Night... has pretty much slipped into obscurity despite being the better film. It was based on the 1974 David Mamet play Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Later in 2014, the film was remade with comedian Kevin Hart. Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant played the Lowe/Moore characters. Like the first film, it was modestly successful at the box office and it received mostly positive notices.

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

"Venus" by Bananarama

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2777
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  This UK trio got their first US Top 10 hit with "Cruel Summer," the first single from their self-titled second album. Further singles from the LP failed to do much of anything, but with one hit under their belt, the trio was eager to score another. For their next album, True Confessions, they again mainly worked with the songwriting/production team of Tony Swain and Steve Jolley. However, after hearing Dead or Alive's hit "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" (#11 Pop), Bananarama wanted to work with that song's producers, the team of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. They were able to grab some time from SAW and together recorded two songs for the album. One of the tracks they did was this cover tune (see below) that got issued out as the album's first official single. While it took a minute to catch on, it began to take off thanks in part to a popular MTV video. It would then reach #1 on both the Pop and Dance charts. It was also a minor entry at AC getting to #29. The hit then pushed the album to #15 and it would be a gold seller. It would be Bananarama's peak moment.

ReduxReview:  When I was a kid I had heard the original version of this song someplace and was entranced by it. The opening guitar lick, the chuggin' electric piano, and Mariska Veres' vocals (very Grace Slick-like) caught my attention. I remember going to a couple of record stores to see if I could find a copy of the single, which I did. Then the original Stars on 45 "Medley" single began with this song's opening lick and that took me back to the original song again. When I heard Bananarama was doing a cover, I wasn't sure how it would turn out. Apparently, both sets of their producers didn't think it was a good idea either but the trio finally convinced SAW to help them do an update. It ended up working out quite well. The song was a fit for Bananarama's unusual vocal approach and SAW's dance production totally worked. It resulted in a #1 hit. Many folks derided the cover saying the trio took the soul out of the tune and made it sterile, but I disagree. I think they took a 70s classic that they loved and updated just perfectly for themselves and for the time period.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the Dutch band Shocking Blue. Written by their guitarist Robbie van Leeuwen, it was in initially released as a single in Holland and a few other European countries in 1969. It became a major hit reaching #1 on several charts. US Promoter and producer Jerry Ross discovered the band on a trip to Europe and signed them to his Colossus label. "Venus" was issued out as a single in the US in 1970. After a slow start, the song took off and became a #1 hit that would earn a gold certification. Ross then assembled an album for the US market that included the hit plus songs from the band's previous European releases. The self-titled album would get to #31 in the US. After that, it was downhill for the band. Two further singles were minor blips on the Pop chart and that wrapped up their career in the States. The lone hit then got them tagged as a one-hit wonder. They had better luck back home where they scored several hits, but by 1974 the band folded. There's one other interesting tidbit about the original recording of "Venus." With English not being the band's first language, when van Leeuwen wrote down the lyrics to the song, he mistakenly wrote for the first line "the godness on the mountaintop" instead of "goddess." Lead singer Mariska Veres then sang it as written. Although the band would correct this on later recordings, the original version with the mistake was the one that became a hit.  2) This is one of only nine songs recorded by different artists where both versions reached #1 on the Pop chart. The first time it happened was in 1971 when Donny Osmond's version of "Go Away Little Girl" hit #1. It was originally a #1 hit for Steve Lawrence in 1963. As of this posting, the last song to do this was "Lady Marmalade." It hit #1 in 2001 in a version by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, and P!nk. The original version by Labelle reached #1 in 1975.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Rock 'N' Roll to the Rescue" by The Beach Boys

Song#:  2776
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  68
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  The Beach Boys' 1985 self-titled album was their first effort in five years. It was modestly successful due in part to the #26 single "Getcha Back." The band's return to the Top 40 sparked further interest in their back catalog and that along with a looming 25th anniversary in the biz led to them signing back up with their original home label, Capitol. Their last album for Capitol was 1969's 20/20, which came at a tumultuous time for the band and stalled at #68. Their first release after rejoining the label would be a new compilation album done for their anniversary titled Made in U.S.A. The band would record two new tracks for the disc including this first single. The song couldn't quite find an audience and it fizzled after a few weeks on the chart. While the compilation would only get to #96, it would continue to sell copies over the years and in 2003 it was certified double platinum.

ReduxReview:  I think if Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys drove on the wrong side of the road in London and crashed head-on into Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra, this would be the mess leftover from the wreck. Whoo-boy. The band had been slinging out some dreck in this time frame and this one didn't help matters. Their 60s surf music combined with 80s technology was not a match made in heaven. It just sounded awkward, weird, and messy. If they really wanted to emulate ELO, they should have brought in Jeff Lynne to produce. They also needed a better song. It might have been a cool venture, but instead we are left with this bizarre experiment that just didn't work.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  The band's last album for Capitol, 1969's 20/20, would later be somewhat associated with one of the most notorious crimes of the decade (and beyond). The song "Never Learn Not to Love" would be on the album and would also serve as the b-side to their #61 single "Bluebirds Over the Mountain." While the composer credit for the song simply lists Dennis Wilson, it was actually a reworked version of one written by Charles Manson. Wilson and Manson had struck up a bit of a friendship in 1968 when Manson was looking to be a recording artist. Wilson was interested in perhaps signing up Manson to The Beach Boys' new label Brother Records. Manson had written a song with The Beach Boys in mind titled "Cease to Exist." Wilson then made a deal with Mason for the publishing rights to the song. In exchange for cash and a motorcycle, Manson gave up ownership of the tune. Wilson then reworked the song a bit, gave it a new title, and got it recorded by The Beach Boys. Apparently, Manson was not happy that Wilson made the changes, especially the title, and made threats toward Wilson who then decided to end his dealings with Manson. The 20/20 album came out in February of 1969. Later that August, the Tate-LaBianca murders occurred and not long after Manson and his "family" would be charged for the crimes. Manson's notoriety put a bit of a spotlight on Dennis Wilson, The Beach Boys, and this song that now infamously hangs like a dark cloud over the 20/20 album.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"Victory Line" by Limited Warranty

Song#:  2775
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  79
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  This Minneapolis band started to form in 1979. Fleshed out to a five-man group, they began to work the club scene developing their performing and songwriting skills. They ended up auditioning for the hit TV talent show Star Search and landed a spot in the show's third season competing in the Vocal Group category. They made it to the finals in 1985 and ended up winning the $100,000 prize. The money helped them record an indie single of a song they wrote titled "This Is Serious." It got some airplay in the Midwest and that plus their Star Search win got them signed to ATCO Records. The label sent them to England to record their self-titled debut album with producer/engineer Brian Tench and this first single got issued out. While winning Star Search certainly helped get them a record deal, it didn't necessarily translate to record sales. The single could only manage a couple of months at the bottom of the Pop chart while the album slipped away to little notice.

ReduxReview:  These guys had a bit of Euro new wave to their sound. There's shades of Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Go West, and even a little a-ha in the mix. It kind of makes sense since their single "This Is Serious" was produced by former Psychedelic Furs drummer Vince Ely and a chunk of their debut album was recorded in England. It's too bad this song didn't do better. It's got a good chorus and nice production. I also like Dale Goulett's voice. It doesn't necessarily scream Top 10, but it was a solid effort from a newbie band. They had a knack at writing hooky tunes too. The album has several nice cuts. These guys had the goods. It's just too bad it didn't fully gel for them.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although their debut album didn't do well, ATCO wanted to give it another shot and the band prepared to record a second LP. However, the label seemed to lose interest before anything was recorded and the band was dropped. They were able to sign a deal with EMI America, which soon became EMI Manhattan after a merger. New management entered the picture and after hearing a few demos the band did for a new album, the label decided to not move forward and dumped the band. After that, the band just slowly dissolved with members going on to other projects and careers.  2) The group that Limited Warranty beat at the Star Search finals was a female vocal trio called Jailbait. The trio consisted of sisters Yassmin and Karmine Alers and Kim Harlan. They did well on the show, but after their loss the rumor mill started spinning and some opined that the shows producers weren't fond of the trio's name and somehow pushed to give the tamer-named Limited Warranty the win. While it made for a good rumor, it just didn't make sense because when the trio was selected for the show, the producers could have easily told them to change their name if they wanted to be on the show. That obviously didn't happen, so any shenanigans seem unlikely. Jailbait did record a single for Atlantic called "Be the One," but is seems nothing came from it. Yassmin Alers would later find work as an actor and would appear in Broadway shows. Karmine Alers also found some acting work that included Broadway and touring shows. Karmine would try for a music career again as a member of another vocal trio called 3rd Party. They recorded a debut album in 1997 titled Alive. It spawned two chart entries - "Can U Feel It" (#43 Pop/#42 Dance) and a remake of Gary Wright's "Love Is Alive" (#61 Pop/#19 Dance). The lead singer of the trio was Maria Christensen, a songwriter who had released a solo album in 1993 to little notice. She co-wrote four songs for the album including the track "Waiting for Tonight." That song got picked up by Jennifer Lopez in 1999. It was on her debut LP On the 6 and was the album's second single. It reached #8 Pop/#1 Dance.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

"The Captain of Her Heart" by Double

.Song#:  2774
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  16
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  This Swiss duo was made up of Kurt Maloo and Felix Haug. They were previously in a trio called Ping Pong that had a some minor success with an album in 1982. The pair then took off on their own and formed Double. They released three singles and a 1983 EP before recording their full-length debut LP, Blue. This track would be the first single released from the album and it started to make waves in Europe reaching the Top 10 in several countries. The duo's album got picked up by A&M for US release along with this single. It was a slow starter debuting low on the Pop chart, but it eventually made its way into the Top 20. It would do very well at AC reaching #4. A second single, "Woman of the World," got to #37 at AC, but failed to make the Pop chart. The album did surprisingly well getting to #30. Unfortunately, further singles failed to do anything and their follow-up album Dou3le sank without a trace. The duo attempted a third album, but decided to go their separate ways. They reunited a couple of times and tried to record some new tracks, but nothing really got off the ground. Haug would die of a heart attack in 2004.

ReduxReview:  This is one sweet, soft rockin' jam. It's so easy, relaxing, and even sensual. The tune really set a mood. I love the dreamy piano lines and the sax. Maloo's vocals are soothing as well. A song like this was a bit unusual to hear on the radio, which made it stand out. It was also a great song to have on when cruising around the countryside on a hot summer night with the windows down. Easy, breezy, beautiful.  (Cover Girl!)

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Apparently, Double was the first Swiss act to reach the Top 40 of the Billboard Pop chart.  2) The duo's name is not pronounced the same as we would say it in English. With German as the majority language in Switzerland followed by French and Italian, they decided to give it a bit of European flair and the band name is pronounced doo-BLAY.  It basically rhymes with the last name of superstar singer Michael Bublé.  3) If you watch the US version of the video for this song, you might be able to spot a future star. A 15-year-old Denise Richards can be seen in the video. She sports cropped blonde hair and looks like a punk rocker. Richards started working in films and on TV shows in the early 90s. Her biggest break came when she co-starred in the 1997 sci-fi film Starship Troopers. In 2008, she would have her own reality show, Denise Richards: It's Complicated, that ran for two seasons. Her tumultuous marriage to Charlie Sheen (2002-2006) provided a lot of fodder for the tabloids.

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

"This Is the Time" by Dennis DeYoung

Song#:  2773
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  93
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  DeYoung's second solo album, Back to the World, got off to a slow start when its first single, "Call Me," stalled at a low #54. It would do much better at AC getting to #5, but that didn't do much to boost album sales. Next up was this single that would serve double duty. It would be both the second single from DeYoung's album while also being the second single from the soundtrack to The Karate Kid Part II. The film would be a hit and its signature song, Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love," would be a big #1, but neither of them helped out DeYoung's single. It stopped at #32 on the AC chart while spending a very minor three weeks at the bottom of the Pop chart. Consequently, DeYoung's album tanked at #108. This single would be DeYoung's last solo effort to reach the Pop chart. He would switch labels from A&M, where he'd been with Styx since 1975, to MCA for 1989's Boomchild, but the album and its singles failed to chart and DeYoung found himself without a label. He would try his hand at Broadway tunes for 1994's 10 on Broadway, which generated the #36 AC track "On the Street Where You Live."

ReduxReview:  This is just pure DeYoung. It wasn't necessarily the most chart-worthy tune he'd ever written, but nearly all of his songwriting go-tos were present. Sweet melodies and chord changes, keyboard arpeggios, sections that charge forward, and a big arms-open freeing ending to the chorus. I do like the song. It was a highlight from a dull album. However, it just wasn't strong enough to make an impression as a single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although DeYoung's solo days on the Pop chart ended here, it wouldn't be his last time on the Pop chart. After the failure of his album Boomchild, DeYoung reunited in 1990 with his former band Styx (minus Tommy Shaw who had commitments with his other band Damn Yankees). They recorded the album Edge of the Century. It's first single, "Love Is a Ritual," only got to #80 at Pop (#9 Rock), but the second single, "Show Me the Way," became an unexpected hit reaching #3 at Pop and AC. Released just prior to the Gulf War, the sentiment of the song fit the time period and it quickly became associated with the war. The hit made Styx one of the few bands to have Top 10 hits in three consecutive decades (70s, 80s, 90s). A follow-up song, "Love at First Sight," got to #25 Pop/#13 AC. Then as quickly as they reformed, Styx split up again due to their label (A&M) being purchased and the new label dropping them. They reformed again in 1995, this time with Shaw on board, and toured. A concert LP, Return to Paradise, would be a surprise seller that reached gold status. A new studio album, Brave New World, would follow in 1999, but it fell flat. Old tensions rose again in the band and once more they split. Shaw would continue with the band over the years, but the bad blood would keep DeYoung from reuniting with them.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

"I Wouldn't Lie" by Yarbrough & Peoples

Song#:  2772
Date:  06/28/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  93
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  This duo was last on the charts in '84. They nearly cracked the Pop Top 40 for a second time with "Don't Waste My Time" (#1 R&B), the lead single from their third album Be a Winner. It took two years for them to come up with their fourth album, Guilty. The title track would be issued out as the first single and it did well at R&B reaching #2. Unfortunately, it didn't cross over to the Pop chart. This follow-up also did well at R&B peaking at #6. This time around the single was able to make it to the Pop chart, but very briefly. It bubbled around the bottom of the chart for a month before disappearing. It would be the duo's last song to reach the Pop chart. The album topped out at #13 R&B, but with little mainstream support the LP missed the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  For this album, Y&P hooked up with a new songwriting/production team (Jimmy Hamilton & Maurice Hayes from the R&B group Prime Time) and the results were a bit mixed. The first single, "Guilty," was just okay. It got to #1 at R&B, but it really wasn't strong enough to make it at Pop. This second single was better. It had a good groove and nice production that wouldn't be out of place on a Gap Band album. The little keyboard lick is a bit Prince-like, but it works. I do wish the chorus had something to make it stand out more from the verses. Basically, this is just the same long groove under the verse and chorus, so when that happens there needs to be something to make the chorus pop and I'm missing that here. Otherwise, it's a fine groove that should have done better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This duo of Calvin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples would get one more R&B charting single from Guilty. After everything with the album was wrapped up, the pair would choose to call it quits and leave the spotlight. They would marry in 1987 and make the move back to their original hometown of Dallas. There they would perform shows on occasion and would start their own production company. Later in 2007, the couple would secure roles in the off-Broadway production Blind Lemon Blues. Both would serve as musical arrangers and also perform on stage. Peoples would be part of the ensemble cast while Yarbrough would portray blues legend Lead Belly. The show received positive notices and would return for another run in 2009.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

"Suzanne" by Journey

Song#:  2771
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  63
Peak:  17
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  After a three-year gap, Journey returned with their ninth studio album Raised on Radio. It got off to a good start thanks to the #2 Rock/#9 Pop hit "Be Good to Yourself." For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The more pop-oriented song didn't do quite as well, but it still made an impression getting to #11 at Rock while cracking the Pop Top 20. In time the album would sell over two million copies to become their sixth multi-platinum album in a row.

ReduxReview:  "Be Good to Yourself" was a strong shot of arena rock that fit well in the band's catalog. Yet besides it and the title track there were no traces of the band that put out rockin' albums like Escape and Frontiers. The balance of the tracks dove into mainstream pop/rock territory. I didn't necessarily mind that the band was evolving, but the problem was that the material just wasn't all that interesting. This single certainly announced a change in direction. There are a lot of tinkling keyboard sound and even hand claps (!) driving this pop tune. It's not a bad song. The dark verse advances the tune and the chorus is good, but there is nothing special or Journey-like about it save for Perry's vocals. I will say that the way he and the backup vocals say "Suzanne" kind of drives me nuts - sooo-zahhhhn. Overall, this might have been a fine single for another middle-of-the-road artist, but it wasn't what I wanted from Journey.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Long time Journey drummer Steve Smith ended up being fired from the band as the Raised on Radio sessions began. Instead of going through the long process of finding a new drummer, the band decided to hire a session musician in order to complete the album. They secured Larrie Londin for the work. He had previously worked on Steve Perry's solo album, so it seemed logical to bring him in for Journey. Londin's career began to take off when he was asked to sit in with Motown's famous backing band the Funk Brothers. Their drummer had suffered a heart attack and while he recovered, Londin took his place. Londin played on many Motown tracks including ones by The Supremes and Marvin Gaye. He later got involved with country artists and ended up moving to Nashville where he became a top session player. The list of artist Londin has worked with was extensive. It included Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Dan Fogelberg, Rosanne Cash, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Ronnie Milsap, B.B. King, Dave Loggins, the Carpenters, Emmylou Harris, Glenn Frey, and many others. Sadly, he died in 1992 at the young age of 48 due to a heart attack.

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

"A Kind of Magic" by Queen

Song#:  2770
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  42
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Following their well-received performance at Live Aid in 1985, the band returned to the chart with "One Vision," a song that would later be featured in the film Iron Eagle. It wouldn't be a major hit in the US, but elsewhere it did well including a #7 showing in the UK. As they began to gather ideas for their next album, the band was offered the opportunity to write songs for the upcoming fantasy-adventure film Highlander. They wrote several tracks for the movie and expectations were that they would appear on a soundtrack album. However, that LP never materialized and so the band decided to include the songs they wrote for the film in their next album A Kind of Magic. The disc would contain six songs from Highlander, two new tracks, and their previous single "One Vision." To make the album more commercial friendly, some of the track were spruced up from their film versions including this title-track single. Once again, the song would reach the Top 10 in many European countries including #3 in the UK, but in the US it stopped shy of the Top 40. The album would reach #46, which was their lowest showing since 1974. Despite not performing well, the album would continue to sell copies over the years and later in 2002 it would reach gold certification.

ReduxReview:  I've always liked this song and I even bought the single back in the day. The verse is quite strong and I like how Freddie Mercury sells it all. The problem with it being a single is that there isn't an actual hooky chorus. It just kind of cruises along with the song title being repeated in the background. This didn't prevent it from being a hit in other countries, but it just wasn't going to work for the US market who were used to ear wormy tunes with memorable choruses. While it doesn't rank among their best songs, I still think it's a nice listen.

ReduxRating:  7/10

TriviaHighlander was the first major film directed by Russell Mulcahy. Mulcahy had made a name for himself as a music video director helming popular videos by Duran Duran, Elton John, Kim Carnes, Culture Club, The Tubes, Bonnie Tyler, and many others. The film starred Christopher Lambert and featured Sean Connery. The original story came from a UCLA undergrad named Gregory Widen who wrote the script for a class project. It was critically panned and initially didn't do well at the box office failing to make back its budget. However, the film got a second life via home video and became a cult favorite. This led to a sequel in 1991 with four more that followed. It also spawned a TV series that lasted six seasons, a spin-off series, an animated series, two animated films, video games, books, and comics. Not bad for film that was originally written as a college assignment and failed at the box office. Widen would go on to write a film that became a hit in 1991 - Ron Howard's Backdraft. Widen based it on his experiences as a firefighter, which he did as a job during his college years. Backdraft would be a big hit that earned three Oscar nods in the technical categories.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"Baby Love" by Regina

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2769
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  10
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  This Brooklyn-born singer/songwriter first got her start in a band she assembled called Regina Richards and Red Hot. The new wave group got signed to A&M in 1980 and with producer Richard Gottehrer (The Go-Go's, Blondie) they recorded a couple of singles followed by a self-titled debut album. The records didn't get anywhere and Richards decided to then work as a songwriter rather than a performer. Through her band, she struck up a friendship with drummer Stephen Bray. Bray had been working with another band Emmy & the Emmys, which used space in the same building where the Red Hots rehearsed. That band was headed up by Bray's former girlfriend, a soon-to-be superstar named Madonna. After Madonna hit it big with her debut album, she brought in Bray to help out on her second LP Like a Virgin. The pair would write four songs for the album along with the soundtrack tune "Into the Groove." Bray then reconnected with Richards and the pair began to write songs together. They recorded a demo hoping to sell the songs to other artists. One song in particular, "Baby Love," was written with Madonna in mind. Bray presented the song to Madonna, but she passed on the tune. In a weird twist of fate, the demo found its way to Atlantic Records who then wanted to sign Richards as an artist. Although she had resigned herself to working in the background, Richards decided to give it a shot and signed her second major label deal. Work began on a debut album with Richards writing or co-writing all the songs. It would include two she penned with Bray including this first single, which Bray produced (Leslie Ming would handle production duty on the rest of the tracks). Released as by Regina, the song initially confused a lot of listeners. Due to the vocals, the dance-pop structure, and the production, many people hearing it for the first time thought it was a new Madonna track. Despite the similarities, the tune started to catch on and it began to climb the charts. It would become a #1 Dance hit while reaching the Pop Top 10 and getting to #30 at R&B. The hit was certainly great for Regina, but the Madonna comparisons took their toll and further singles failed to make the Pop chart leaving her as a one-hit wonder.

ReduxReview:  For a one-hit wonder, this song certainly has a lot of interesting history attached to it (see above and below). In interviews with Regina from back in the day, she tried to brush off comparisons between her and Madonna, but c'mon - we pretty much know what happened here. At the time, labels were desperately seeking the next Madonna and when Atlantic heard the demo of this song that was shopped to Madonna, had production by Bray, and Regina nearly impersonating Madonna, they thought they may have found one (they also signed another Madonna-ish clone, Stacy Q, around the same time). There is just no mistaking that this was meant to sound like a Madonna song in order to capitalize on her success (and it wouldn't be the last time Bray would try to cash in on his Madonna connection - look up Breakfast Club or an album called Pre-Madonna). Setting all this aside, the song is actually not too bad. It's got a solid chorus and the sax solo is a nice addition. I think Madonna was right to pass on this as it sounded like a retread of what she'd already done, but it was still a hit-worthy tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Although she was a one-hit wonder on the Pop chart, Regina did get two other songs on the Dance chart. Her follow-up song "Beat of Love" would make it to #40. Two years later, she made it to #11 with the tune "Extraordinary Love." The song was the first single from her second solo album, but after the song failed to reach the Pop chart the album was shelved and remains unreleased. After releasing an indie single in 1990, Regina got married to a doctor and moved to Austin, Texas.  2) Although written with Madonna in mind, she was not the first artist to be offered the song. The Dutch vocal trio The Star Sisters recorded a version of the song for their 1985 album Danger. The Star Sisters were a product of Stars on 45 producer Japp Eggermont. The trio were known for their imitation of The Andrews Sisters. Eggermont produced two albums for them in the Stars on 45 medley style with the Sisters covering old pop standards in an Andrews Sisters way. The trio decided to ditch Eggermont and the Stars On format to record their first mainstream pop album, Danger, which contained this song. (Look it up - it is interesting because it is done as straight pop and not in a dance-pop Madonna way.)  3)  This song was covered by Australian singer Dannii Minogue in 1991. It was issued out as a single and it reached #28 in Australia and #14 in the UK. Dannii is the younger sister of hitmaker Kylie Minogue. Dannii would have a string of hits including nine Top 10's in the UK, but she was never able to crack the US charts. Kylie would grab two US Top 10's including the #3 gold remake of "The Loco-Motion" in 1988.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

"Touch and Go" by Emerson, Lake & Powell

Song#:  2768
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  60
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Prog Rock



Pop Bits:  Between 1970 and 1978, the classic UK prog rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer pushed out nine gold albums. The band's melding of rock with classical music using the latest technology of the day quickly gained favor. They had a rabid fan base and sold all those albums without any major hit singles. Their best Pop chart effort was the #39 "From the Beginning" in 1972. As 1978 approached, the trio was fracturing. After they delivered one last contractual album, the reviled Love Beach, the band split. After a few years of doing other projects, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake wanted to revive ELP. Unfortunately, they were going to have to do it without drummer Carl Palmer who had contractual obligations with his other band Asia. Emerson and Lake set out to replace Palmer and finally brought on board former Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell. The new trio then recorded a self-titled debut album and released this first single. Rock fans seemed happy with the results and took the track to #2 at Rock. The tune was able to crossover to the Pop chart, but it didn't get very far. The album made it to #23 yet couldn't hit the gold mark. A tour followed, but for this iteration of the trio, it was a one-n-done deal.

ReduxReview:  Man, that is one giant, loud fart synth! I remember it sounding very regal back in the day - like it could be the theme music to some epic medieval TV show or film. If Game of Thrones had been a mini-series in the 80s, this might have been the opening song. Despite that synth sounding very dated now, I still like this tune. I had forgotten about it. I know I used to hear it on our local rock radio station and thought it was cool. Not sure why I didn't buy the single. While it had hooks and sounded cool on the radio, it didn't quite have the mainstream appeal needed to make it at pop radio in the way songs from other prog rock band like Yes and Asia were able to do. Still, it's a fun relic from the era. Near the end of '86 a song would come out with a big farting synth line that had more commercial appeal - Europe's "The Final Countdown" (#8 Pop).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Emerson assembled a third version of ELP later in the decade. This time Palmer came back, but Lake did not. Emerson and Palmer then hired on guitarist/singer Richard Berry. They decided to keep the band name very simple - 3.  Yup. As in the third version of ELP. The band released an album in 1988 titled To the Power of Three. A track from the album, "Talkin' Bout," got to #9 on the Rock chart while the album topped out at #97. Again, that trio would only record one album. The original ELP lineup would finally reunite in 1991. They would issue out two albums before splitting again.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

"You Don't Have to Cry" by René & Angela

Song#:  2767
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  75
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm



Pop Bits:  The duo's fourth album, Street Called Desire, would be their best selling effort going gold after reaching #5 R&B and #64 Pop. At this point in time, the LP had already produced three R&B Top 10's including two #1's. Those results were good enough to call for this fourth single. It was another winner at R&B getting to #2. It crossed over to the Pop chart, but couldn't make it out of the bottom quarter. A fifth single from the album, "No How - No Way," would be released, but could only manage a #29 showing at R&B. Although René & Angela were at the height of their career, they made the bold decision to split up. The pair were at odds with various accusations being tossed around. Unable to resolve their issues, they went their separate ways.

ReduxReview:  This slick quiet storm ballad is another quality track from the album. Although it was a good hit at R&B, it was going to be a tougher sell at Pop. Soul tracks like this had a hard time breaking through in a bigger way on pop radio at the time. Both vocalists sound good, but Winbush had that something extra to her voice that made her a standout. She really should have had a bigger career as a solo artist. She did well getting several R&B Top 10's, but she just couldn't crossover to the Pop chart. If you wanna hear her flex her vocal chords, check out her R&B #1 hit "Angel." Impressive.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  René Moore and Angela Winbush both set out on solo careers after they split. Winbush was first out of the gate with her 1987 solo debut Sharp. It featured two R&B Top 10's including the #1 "Angel." She would release two more albums that contained three further R&B Top 10's. She would also collaborate with The Isley Brothers on their albums and would eventually marry Ron Isley in 1993. They later divorced in 2003. Winbush also wrote and produced songs for other artists including two tracks for Sheena Easton's gold 1988 LP The Lover in Me. Moore would release a solo album in 1988 titled Destination Love. It was a middling seller that featured two R&B Top 20's. He would then turn to songwriting and producing for other artists including Michael Jackson. Moore would co-write two songs for Jackson - 1992's "Jam" (#3 R&B/#26 Pop) and 1995's "This Time Around," which was featured on Jackson's compilation album HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book I.  Moore would get a Grammy nomination for "Jam," which competed in the Best R&B Song category.

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

"Take My Breath Away" by Berlin

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Oscar Alert!
Song#:  2766
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Synthpop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The movie Top Gun was shaping up to be the hit of the year and its associated soundtrack was on its way to doing just as well with it's first single, Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone," closing in on the Top 10. For the second single, this ballad that was written for the film by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock was selected. Performed by the band Berlin, who reached #23 two years earlier with "No More Words," the song was a slow starter debuting low on the Pop chart. It seemed the tune was going to stumble, but then it started to catch on and proceeded to make a steady climb to the #1 spot. It would also get to #3 at AC and eventually go gold. When awards season arrived, it was a big winner taking both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Original Song. Unfortunately, it would be Berlin's first and last time in the Pop Top 10. The distinctive ballad cast a shadow over their career and after one more album, 1986's Count Three and Pray, the band would break up.

ReduxReview:  As a big fan of Berlin, it was great that they were truly hitting the big time with this song. I was happy for them and was hoping it would make their career really take off. Yet I have to admit that I really didn't like the song all that much. The arrangement and Terri Nunn's vocals kept me interested, but I thought the song just kind of droned on and on. It also wasn't the type of material I was used to hearing from the band. A gooey pop love song just wasn't what they were know for and it set up unreal expectations from listeners who loved this tune. When Berlin's LP Count Three and Pray came out with big rockin' tunes such as "Like Flames," folks weren't biting. They wanted the lovely synthpop of "Take My Breath Away." It was great they had a huge Oscar-winning hit, but it really bit them in the ass later. The song was included on Count Three and Pray (one of my fave albums), but it is so out of place. I usually hit the skip button when this track comes on. With the band at a crossroads for direction, thanks to this tune, they split up. I was bummed. Nunn revived the Berlin name for 2002 album Voyeur, but without the band's main songwriter John Crawford, it just didn't work. I love Berlin and I appreciate this song, but it is definitely not a favorite. (P.S.: I saw Berlin in concert twice - once before the hit and once after. It was two of the loudest concerts I had ever seen. They were awesome though.)

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When Top Gun wrapped up filming, it did not include a love scene between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. After test audiences felt let down that there was little in the way of romance between the characters, the producers decided to add one in. They needed a song for the scene and Moroder and Whitlock offered up this tune. Moroder originally wanted to get The Motels to do the song. Lead singer Martha Davis did a demo of the song, but that's as far as it went (the demo is available on the band's Anthologyland collection). Davis' take didn't make the grade with the film's producers so Moroder reached out to Berlin with whom he had worked with previously on a couple of tracks from their Love Life album including "No More Words." The band disagreed on whether to record the track or not as it wasn't reflective of their normal sound or material. They decided to give it a shot and ended up with a #1 song. It was a blessing and a curse as the hit would eventually lead to the breakup of the band.  2) In 2004, singer Jessica Simpson would do a cover of this song. It would do well getting to #10 at Dance, #20 Pop, and #23 AC. Like the original, it would be certified gold.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

"Sweet Freedom" by Michael McDonald

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2765
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  76
Peak:  7
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  McDonald's solo career started off quite well in 1982 with a gold album that featured the #4 hit "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)." However, he hit a bump in the road with his second LP, 1985's No Lookin' Back. The title track single stalled just inside the Top 40 and that caused the album to tank at a low #45. Luckily, 1986 would prove to be a better year. First, he scored a #1 Pop/AC hit with "On My Own," a duet with Patti LaBelle. Then he found himself back in the Top 10 with this stand-alone single that he recorded for the soundtrack to the Billy Crystal comedy Running Scared. The song would slowly wind its way into the Pop Top 10 while making it to #4 AC and #8 Dance. It would also be McDonald's second solo song to reach the R&B chart where it peaked at #17. McDonald would grab a Grammy nod for the song in the Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, category. While both hits boosted McDonald's career, the unfortunate thing is that he didn't have anything new on the horizon to capitalize on the momentum. This single would be his last of the decade and also his final Pop Top 10. He wouldn't release a new album until 1990 and by that time interest in McDonald had waned. The LP Take It to Heart and it's title track single would barely register on the Pop charts. Over the years he would grab a few AC Top 10's, but his days as a Pop chart hit maker ended with this single.

ReduxReview:  Written and co-produced by Rod Temperton, this was a perfect vehicle for McDonald. It was a mature sounding single that was balanced with a slick verse and hooky chorus. It was just right for mid-80s pop radio. McDonald is a great songwriter, but it just seemed he was having trouble fitting his 70s blue-eyed Doobie Brothers soul into the more synthpop oriented 80s. He needed a boost from an outside writer and Temperton had the right song. (They had collaborated once before on the #19 "Yah Mo B There" and that resulted in a Grammy win). McDonald had a chance to possibly score a couple more hits right after this, but for some reason he waited four years before putting something else out and by the time the 90s hit, hardly anyone was interested in McDonald's smooth AC tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Running Scared was an action-comedy that starred Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. It received mixed reviews and did modestly well at the box office. It was only Crystal's second starring role in a film. His first was the 1977 box office bomb Rabbit Test. While Running Scared wasn't a major hit, it did show that Crystal had potential to be a movie star. He would then hit it big with three box office winners, 1987's Throw Mama from the Train, 1989's When Harry Met Sally..., and 1991's City Slickers.  2) McDonald would release albums in 1993 and 2000, but neither charted. He made it back to the chart in a significant way in 2003 when he did a covers LP titled Motown. It was the right album at the right time for him and it would become a platinum seller that reached #14. It would also earn him two Grammy nominations. He followed it up in 2004 with Motown Two, which would reach #9 and go gold. He would do one more covers album in 2008 titled Soul Speak (#12). When he returned to original material with 2017's Wide Open, folks were less interested and the album failed to chart.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

"Higher Love" by Steve Winwood

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2764
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  77
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  Winwood's second solo album, 1980's Arc of a Diver, was a #7 platinum seller thanks to the #7 hit "While You See a Chance." His follow-up LP, Talking Back to the Night, failed to capitalize on the success of Arc and disappeared soon after a low #28 peak. Winwood needed to do something to gain back his audience. First, he penned more commercial friendly songs with his long-time collaborator Will Jennings. Then instead of handling everything on his own as he had done for all three of his solo LPs, Winwood brought in some guest players to help out including Nile Rodgers, Joe Walsh, Chaka Khan, James Taylor, James Ingram, and Dan Hartman. He even brought in a horn section. The results became his fourth album Back in the High Life and this first single, featuring Khan on background vocals, kicked the set off in a big way. The track climbed to the #1 spot at both Pop and Rock while getting to #7 at AC. It would be Winwood's biggest hit to-date as a solo artist or as a member of any of his previous bands (Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith, Traffic). The song would also earn Winwood two Grammys, one for Record of the Year and one for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. The song would be nominated for Song of the Year while the LP would get a nod for Album of the Year. Winwood and co-producer Russ Titelman were nominated in the Producer of the Year category.

ReduxReview:  The groove, the hook, the horns, Chaka Khan - what's not to love? This was a brilliant single and one that was far, far better than anything from his previous album. He went in a different direction collaborating with others and focusing on creating more radio friendly fare and it really paid off. Sometimes doing everything on your own is not the best thing and I think he figured that out after the dreary Talking Back to the Night.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:   Will Jennings had written songs with Winwood since Arc of a Diver. Winwood handled the music while Jennings mainly contributed lyrics. Jennings had previously had success writing hit songs for Dionne Warwick and Barry Manilow. He earned the first of two Oscars for Best Original Song with the 1982 #1 duet "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes from the film An Officer and a Gentleman. His second win was for the theme song to a little film called Titanic. He co-wrote Celine Dion's 1998 #1 "My Heart Will Go On" for the movie's soundtrack. The song would also earn him two Grammy awards. He would win a third Grammy with "Tears in Heaven" (#2 Pop) his 1992 collaboration with Eric Claption that won for Song of the Year. Jennings would co-write further hits, but he would score the most with Winwood co-writing five Top 10's.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

"Rumors" by Timex Social Club

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2763
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  8
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  This four-man Berkeley, California, group was initially formed by Marcus Thompson in 1985 as the Timex Crew. After a couple of personnel changes, the name was changed to the Timex Social Club and the quartet began to work on songs with lead singer Michael Marshall writing or co-writing the bulk of the tunes. They got hooked up with producer Jay King and began recording tracks. This debut single was pushed out and it was able to reach #1 at both R&B and Dance. The attention on those charts led to the song crossing over to the Pop chart. It steadily climbed until it reached the Top 10. The unexpected hit brought along some complications for the group and they wouldn't be able to issue out further singles or their debut album, Vicious Rumors, until later in '86. The delay didn't allow the band to fully capitalize on the momentum they built up with "Rumors." Their two other singles from the album both got to #15 at R&B, but failed at Pop. The album would be a modest seller reaching #35 R&B while also missing at Pop. More music business issues would dog the group and it wasn't long before they dissolved leaving them a one-hit wonder on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This one was bound to be a hit. It's got a great groove, fun lyrics with a message, and a hooky chorus. Plus the cartoon-enhanced video was cool with the adorable Michael Marshall lip syncing his lead vocal. It's still a solid blast from the past that I enjoy hearing. It's a shame they got caught in the whirlwind of the music business as they had potential. Their second single, "Mixed-Up World," was a worthy (if lesser) follow-up that might have done better if it came on the heels of this tune, but the delay after such a strong hit and behind-the-scenes problems really kind of wrecked things for them. Luckily we can still groove to this juicy tidbit from the era.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  There are varying stories as to what happened with Timex Social Club and how they went from #1 to breaking up. When they got involved with Jay King, King was forming his own label and the group was to be signed. "Rumors" was issued out under the Jay Records name, but after it became an unexpected hit, things went awry. King had apparently never formally signed TSC and that left them dangling as "Rumors" was hitting. So they took their business elsewhere and signed on with the Fantasy Records sub-label Danya. This didn't sit well with King, so he then decided to start his own group initially titled Jet Set. After finding out that TSC broke up, King then change the group's name to the snide Club Nouveau (more or less French for "new club"). King then took some material and sounds he had been working on with TSC and used them for Club Nouveau. Not only did the new group sound like TSC, but King even commissioned artwork for the album cover that had the same look as the artwork done for TSC's "Rumors" 12-inch. Club Nouveau would end up winning a Grammy and scoring four R&B Top 10's, but like TSC they would only have one major Pop hit, the 1987 #1 remake of "Lean on Me." Despite all the bad blood and music business issues, at least TSC's Michael Marshall gained a couple of things from Club Nouveau. He is credited as songwriter on the groups #8 R&B debut single "Jealousy," an answer song to "Rumors," and he along with Club Nouveau's former lead singer Samuelle now perform together under the Timex Social Club name.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"Voice of America's Sons" by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band

Song#:  2762
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  62
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The band's second album, Tough All Over, could nearly be called their debut. That's because the first LP they recorded was a soundtrack effort for the sleeper hit film Eddie & the Cruisers. The new LP did fairly well at trying to get the band out from Eddie's shadow. It featured two singles that hit the Rock Top 10 including the #1 (#22 Pop) title track. Three singles were released from the album and it seemed like that would wrap up things up, but then this track from the LP was selected by Sylvester Stallone to be on the soundtrack to his action film Cobra. Just prior to the film's opening, this song was pushed out as a single to help promote the movie. It hung around the Pop chart for a couple of months, but couldn't really make any headway. It would be two years before Cafferty and his band would release another album.

ReduxReview:  If Springsteen got mashed with "Mony Mony," this might be the result. It's fine and not a bad listen, but I just feel like I've heard it all before. There's not much here to make it stand out on its own. Cafferty was having a hard time trying to shed the comparisons to Springsteen and a song like this wasn't necessarily going to help. Between Springsteen and Eddie, Cafferty and his band were having a difficult time trying to cut a distinct path for themselves

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was released at the same time as another track from the Cobra soundtrack, Jean Beauvoir's "Feel the Heat." Stallone was probably looking for another hit soundtrack like the one done for his previous film Rocky IV. That album got four singles on the Pop chart including the Top 10's "Burning Heart" by Survivor (#2) and "Living in America" by James Brown (#4).  It also included Cafferty's solo effort for the film, "Hearts on Fire" (#76). Cobra ended up being a sizable hit, but that didn't seem to spur interest in the songs. The singles by Cafferty and Beauvoir tanked and that left the soundtrack album peaking at a paltry #100.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

"With You All the Way" by New Edition

Song#:  2761
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  84
Peak:  51
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Pop



Pop Bits:  The vocal group's third album, All for Love, reached platinum certification just a few days prior to the release of this third single. While the LP's first two singles went Top 10 at R&B, neither made much of an impact at Pop, which was disappointing after their previous album scored three Top 40 hits including the #4 "Cool It Now." This third single didn't do much to change things. Once again it was a winner at R&B getting to #7, but at Pop it stalled just shy of the halfway point. The album would remain at single platinum status, which was a drop from the double platinum sales of their previous LP. The teens would experience growing pains over the next couple of years as they tried to transition from bubblegum pop/R&B to something more mature.

ReduxReview:  This was an appropriate song for them at the time. It's a sweet song without being too saccharine. There's very little in the way of participation from the group as a whole, so the tune basically turns into a Ralph Tresvant solo effort and he does well. His young voice keeps this a bit on the bubblegum side of things, but overall it works. It's not a fantastic song, but for this point in their career it wasn't a bad little track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Group member Ronnie DeVoe would later marry Shamari Fears in 2005. Fears had been a member of the R&B vocal trio Blaque. That group scored a pair of Top 10 hits in 1999 including the #8 Pop/#4 R&B hit "808." Their self-titled debut album would go platinum. The trio experienced label issues and other problems after that LP and would only ever be able to get one more album released in 2002. They would eventually break up in 2008. In 2018, Fears got a shot at becoming a reality TV star. She became a cast member on the 11th season of the hit show The Real Housewives of Atlanta. DeVoe would make occasional appearances on the show.

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Monday, May 6, 2019

"Words Get in the Way" by Miami Sound Machine

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2760
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  5
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The Latin-pop band's ninth album, Primitive Love, broke them to a mass mainstream audience thanks to two Top 10 gold records, "Conga" (#10) and a remix of "Bad Boy" (#8). They would keep the streak going with this next single. Although it would be their third consecutive Pop Top 10 hit and the highest peaking thus far, it just missed out on the gold-level sales mark. It would also become their first song to reach #1 on the AC chart. The hit kept album sales steady and over time it would become a triple platinum seller despite only peaking at #23 on the chart.

ReduxReview:  This was such a smart choice for a third single. After two upbeat jams, this ballad was refreshing and it brought in an even bigger adult audience. It was a lovely, well-written tune that highlighted Estefan's voice. While I liked their first two singles, this would be the one that made me go out and buy the 45. It was an easy, breezy effort that deservedly got the band into the Top 5 for the first time.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The bulk of the songwriting for the Primitive Love album was done by the team of Lawrence Dermer, Joe Galdo, and Rafael Vigil. Suzi Carr would lend a hand on a couple of tracks. Drummer Enrique Garcia contributed a track as did guitarist Wesley Wright. The band's lead singer, Gloria Estefan, had previously written songs that appeared on their albums and this track was her lone contribution to Primitive Love. It was her first major hit as a songwriter. It must have given her a confidence boost as more of her contributions would be included on further albums by the band and by her as a solo artist. Over the next few years, Estefan would write or co-write seven songs that would make the Pop Top 10 including three #1's.

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Sunday, May 5, 2019

"The Best of Me" by David Foster and Olivia Newton-John

Song#:  2759
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  80
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Foster had become a well-known hit making songwriter and in-demand producer. He helped revive the band Chicago and wrote/produced hits for several artists including Boz Scaggs, The Tubes, Chaka Khan, DeBarge, Peter Cetera, and Barbra Streisand. Prior to his behind-the-scenes work, Foster had been a member of a few bands including Skylark ("Wildflower," #9 Pop, 1973) and Airplay. He did record an indie album in 1984 titled The Best of Me, but it didn't get much attention. A solo career seemed a bit more plausible the following year when a song from his score to the film St. Elmo's Fire became a left-field hit. "Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire" got released as a single and went to #15 Pop/#3 AC. With his career at a new high, it seemed like the right time to record another solo album. He signed on with Atlantic Records and assembled a self-titled major label debut. The LP was mainly an instrumental effort that contained some new material along with tracks that had been previously recorded for films like The Color Purple and White Nights. It also featured two vocal tracks including this song which Foster originally recorded for his first solo album. Foster re-recorded the tune for the new album and recruited Olivia Newton-John to be a duet partner. The two had previously worked together when Foster produced the soundtrack to Newton-John's film Two of a Kind. The ballad got picked up at AC and did well reaching #6. However, it wasn't as embraced by a larger audience and it stayed in the basement of the Pop chart for a couple of months. The album barely scraped the chart at #195.

ReduxReview:  Foster is a good songwriter and an excellent producer, but I find this song so boring. I'd easily rate its snooze-factor at a 10. Even Newton-John, whom I adore, can't save it. It's a bit rambling and there is little that is memorable. I've heard this by other artists that I love like Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, and Michael Bublé, but it still makes me sleepy. Foster probably made a good bit o' money off this tune, however I'm just not buying it. Who needs Sominex or melatonin when you can just listen to this.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Despite not being a hit, the LP generated two Grammy nominations. One was for Foster in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category. Humberto Gatica got the other nomination in the Best Engineered Recording category.  2) UK superstar Cliff Richard chose this song to record and be released as his 100th single. It was issued out in 1989 and made it to #2 on the UK chart.  3) The other vocal track on the album was "Who's Gonna Love You Tonight." Richard Page from the band Mr. Mister provided the vocals on the song. It was issued out as the LP's second single. It made it to #38 at AC, but failed to chart at Pop.

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Saturday, May 4, 2019

"Land of La La" by Stevie Wonder

Song#:  2758
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  90
Peak:  86
Weeks:  3
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Wonder's album In Square Circle would be his first multi-platinum (2x) effort since his 1976 classic Songs in the Key of Life. The boost in sales was due three charting hits including the #1 "Part Time Lover." His label tried to keep the hits coming by issuing out this fourth single. It was a mediocre hit at R&B reaching #19, but it was virtually a non-starter at Pop bubbling near the bottom of the chart for a few weeks. It would be the last single issued from the album in the US.

ReduxReview:  The beginning sounds like something played during a Jane Fonda workout tape. It has a real aerobic exercise vibe. This song wasn't a good candidate for a single. It just kind of rambled on with the only real hook of any kind being the title. As a result, the tune wasn't very memorable. They should have wrapped things up with just three singles, but the label tried to eke out a fourth hit. It was unnecessary.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Wonder has won 25 Grammys in his career. He has been nominated for 74 awards. As of this posting date, those totals has him tied for fourth place for most Grammy wins and most Grammy nominations. He is also one of only three artists to have won the Grammy for Album of the Year three times. He won in 1974, 1975, and 1977. The wins also made him the only artist to win Album of the Year for three consecutive releases. The other two artists to win the category three times are Frank Sinatra and Paul Simon. However, Simon's first win was when he was part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel so his wins were as a solo artist and as part of a group. Wonder won his thirteenth Grammy for In Square Circle in the Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male, category.

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Friday, May 3, 2019

"Feel the Heat" by Jean Beauvoir

Song#:  2757
Date:  06/14/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  73
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Beauvoir is probably best known for being a member of the infamous punk band The Plasmatics. It was while he was in the band that he created his signature look - a large blonde Mohawk that he would sport for most of his career. Being in a highly influential and talked about band such as The Plasmatics was great exposure for bassist Beauvoir, but he had aspirations for something more. After two albums with the band, he left to start a solo career. Unfortunately, it seemed no one was interested in Beauvoir as a solo artist. He got offers to perform with other artists such as Prince and Billy Idol, but that wasn't what he was looking for. He was finally convinced to join another band when Springsteen cohort Steven Van Zandt came calling. Beauvoir joined Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul and stayed with them for two albums. With that experience under his belt, Beauvoir was then able to secure a solo deal with Virgin Records in the UK. He then recorded his debut solo album Drums Along the Mohawk, which was issued out around Europe. The LP got the attention of Columbia Records and they picked it up for release in the US. Also around this time, Sylvester Stallone had heard the track "Feel the Heat" and wanted it in his upcoming film Cobra. Everything came together in the summer of '86 with this song being pushed out as a single along with the release of Beauvoir's album and the Cobra soundtrack. The song got a bit of attention and was able to reach the Pop chart, but only for a couple of months. Beauvoir's album would get to #93 while the soundtrack would make it to #100. The song would be Beauvoir's only one to reach the Pop chart. He would do one more album for Columbia/Virgin that failed to make an impression before heading up two bands, Voodoo X and Crown of Thorns, and working as a songwriter/producer for many major artists.

ReduxReview:  Any Plasmatics fans who were looking for some punk-ish rock from Beauvoir's debut were going to be disappointed. Thanks in part to his time with Van Zandt, Beauvoir decided to go down the AOR lane and this first track led the way. Filled out with 80s synths, the song sounded like a good fit for Rock radio, yet it got ignored there. It tried to make inroads at pop, but besides the repeated title, there wasn't much to really hook in listeners. It worked well for a film song, but if Stallone was looking for a Rocky-sized hit a la Survivor, this one was not it. The tune just wasn't all that memorable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Beauvoir got his break in punk rock and he stayed in rock music after with his solo efforts and work with artists like Kiss and The Ramones. Later on he got offers to branch out to different areas of music and ended up writing songs for artists like Nona Hendryx, John Waite, and NSYNC. His 2003 solo album Chameleon even featured a co-write with Lionel Richie titled "I Wanna Know." Beauvoir has adapted as music tastes change and perhaps his most surprising venture has been in the world of K-Pop. He co-wrote a track for the K-Pop group Shinee's EP Everybody in 2013. The EP would reach #1 in Korea and #2 on the Billboard World Albums chart. Two years later, Beauvoir contributed to the debut solo EP by Shinee member Jonghyun. He co-wrote the song "Crazy (Guilty Pleasure)," which made it to #5 in Korea and #15 on the Billboard World Songs chart.  2) Prior to Beauvoir moving to NYC and joining up with The Plasmatics, he had been working in an entirely different style of music. In his mid-teens, Beauvoir was selected to be a member of the old doo-wop vocal group The Flamingos. That group's heyday was in the late 50s and early 60s when they scored several charting song including their #3 R&B/#11 Pop version of the classic standard "I Only Have Eyes for You." Over the years, the group would continue to tour with various members drifting in and out. Beauvoir became the youngest member to ever be in the group when he toured with them.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

"Hanging on a Heart Attack" by Device

Song#:  2756
Date:  07/14/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  35
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Holly Knight had been having some great success as a songwriter penning hits like "Love is a Battlefield" for Pat Benatar and Scandal's "The Warrior." Yet it seemed that she still longed to be known as an artist as well. Her first attempt was with the band Spider, but success was limited with their best effort being 1980's "New Romance (It's a Mystery)" (#39 Pop). After gaining some traction as a songwriter, Knight decided to give stardom another shot. She along with vocalist Paul Engemann and guitarist Greg Black formed the trio Device. They got signed to Chrysalis Records and with Knight's frequent co-writer Mike Chapman producing, the band came up with their debut album 22B3. This first single, written by Knight and Chapman, got issued out and it was able to make it inside the Top 40, barely edging out Spider's single to make it Knight's highest charting single as an artist. The song would help get the album to a minor #73.

ReduxReview:  I remember hearing this song on Casey Kasem's American Top 40 show, which I listened to religiously on the radio back then. It really struck me and I ran out to buy the single. I liked the production, Knight's little spoken part, and the hooky chorus. I thought it was headed to the Top 10, yet it stopped way short. I was kind of surprised. It seemed to be a hit on the west coast, but just couldn't break through in a wider way. Although I'm not as enthusiastic about the tune these days, I still enjoy it and like when it circles through on one of my 80s playlists. It's a shame that Knight was never really to breakthrough as an artist. I think her best material ended up with other artists or, as in the case with a couple of Spider tunes, were remade better by other artists ("Better Be Good to Me" by Tina Turner).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Knight and bandmate Greg Black co-wrote three song for the album. None would be formally issued out as singles, but another song they co-wrote was on its way to the Top 10 at the same time this song was on the chart. The pair, along with Mike Chapman, co-wrote "Love Touch." The song got picked up for use in the film Legal Eagles and was recorded by Rod Stewart. Another Knight/Black composition had recently been a Top 10 hit as well - Heart's "Never."

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"Headlines" by Midnight Star

Song#:  2755
Date:  07/14/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  69
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, Rap



Pop Bits:  It took five albums worth of songs, but Midnight Star finally grabbed a significant Pop hit when "Operator" reached #18 (#1 R&B). It was from their album Planetary Invasion, which became their second LP to reach gold level sales. Hoping to keep their hot streak going, the band reconvened and recorded their sixth album Headlines. The title track would be issued out as the first single and it did well at R&B reaching #3. Unfortunately, the song didn't click as well at Pop as "Operator" and it ended up stuck in the bottom half of the chart for only a few weeks. The track would also briefly make it on the Dance chart at #34.

ReduxReview:  This was a good jam that incorporated the band's signature style along with a bit of rap. I can see where this would be a winner at R&B, but it was just a tad too urban for pop radio at the time. After they got a Pop hit with "Operator," I would have thought the band might have released something that had a bit more of a mainstream appeal in order to keep that audience interested. They could have done that if they had released "Midas Touch" first, but they chose to release this title track instead and in the process lost some of the ground they gained at pop radio. The lengthy album version was a bit too long in the tooth so the more concise single version sold the song better. Either way, it wasn't one of the band's best songs.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The band's home label for all of their prime era albums was SOLAR Records. They were signed by label founder Dick Griffey after he saw them at a 1978 talent showcase. Griffey started SOLAR in 1977. The label name was an acronym for Sounds of Los Angeles Records. Griffey and SOLAR's heydays were in the 80s. The label signed several hit-making acts like Midnight Star, Shalamar, Dynasty, The Deele, Klymaxx, Lakeside, and The Whispers. SOLAR was also the launching pad for Babyface who, along with L.A. Reid, became the label's main production team from 1986 to 1989. The label started to experience a decline near the end of the decade partially attributed to changes in music and by 1992, SOLAR had issued their final LP, the soundtrack to the crime drama Deep Cover. The soundtrack is mostly known for its title track, which got to #4 at Rap and #46 R&B. It was the first solo single by former N.W.A. member Dr. Dre and it also featured the first appearance of a new rapper on the scene, Snoop Doggy Dogg.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"Modern Woman" by Billy Joel

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2754
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  54
Peak:  10
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Joel had been churning out albums nearly every year since 1971, so it was only right that he took a little break after the success of his multi-platinum album An Innocent Man. He would return three years later with his tenth studio album The Bridge. The eclectic collection showcased a variety of styles (pop, R&B, jazz, new wave) along with a list of guests including Ray Charles and Cyndi Lauper. It even featured this movie soundtrack tune. Selected for use in the black comedy Ruthless People, the song would serve as the first single from Joel's album and from the film's soundtrack. The track made its way up the Pop chart and was able to just barely scrape the Top 10. It also did well at AC getting to #7 while making it to #34 at Rock. It was Joel's ninth Pop Top 10. Although it performed well, the single wasn't a huge hit and that seemed to curtail album sales a bit. The LP would stall at #7 and eventually go double-platinum, which was the same results as his 1982 "serious" album The Nylon Curtain. It was a definite drop in sales as compared to An Innocent Man. That album had already sold over 4 million copies by the time The Bridge was released and would go on to sell another 3 million. The soundtrack to Ruthless People would do well making it to #20 and going gold.

ReduxReviewThe Bridge was a strange, inconsistent album. It was as if Joel just wanted to mess around and record whatever kind of cool idea he thought he had. While the songs aren't all that bad, they aren't all that great either. This kooky track is certainly one of Joel's actual hits that has long been forgotten. After a while it seemed Joel wanted to forget it too as it has been left off of most of his hits collections in favor of other lower charting songs. The cheezy synths remind me of the Seinfield theme song and the sax sounds like a poor attempt to infringe on Huey Lewis territory. Joel was an artist who typically had songs with some substance, but this one was pure cotton candy fluff. I certainly don't mind some of the sticky stuff once in a while, but it has to be something I wanna ruin my diet for and this song just wasn't it.

ReduxRating:  4/10

TriviaThe Bridge contained the jazzy big band-style track "Big Man on Mulberry Street." That song would be featured in an episode of the hit TV show Moonlighting. The song would not only be in the show, but it would also serve as the episode's title. The episode contained a dream sequence that featured an extended dance routine to this song between Bruce Willis and actress/dancer Sandahl Bergman.


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Monday, April 29, 2019

"Glory of Love" by Peter Cetera

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2753
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  62
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The 80s comeback of the band Chicago was mainly orchestrated by producer David Foster over the course of two albums. It put a bigger spotlight on Cetera who had worked closely with Foster and happened to have been the lead singer on all the hits from both LPs. With some name recognition coming his way, Cetera had interest in doing solo work. He also wanted to remain with Chicago, but in order to do both the heavy touring schedule of the band would have to be cut back. This caused further friction in the band that was already at odds over the new direction of the band headed up by Foster and Cetera. In the end, Cetera decided to leave Chicago and head out on his own. He began work on a solo disc with producer Michael Omartian and among the first songs they recorded was this single that was picked up for use in the hit film The Karate Kid, Part II. It would be released as a single to promote the film, its soundtrack, and Cetera's solo album Solitude/Solitaire. At first, many folks thought it was a new Chicago song because it sounded similar to the band's recent hits, but soon everyone figured out it was Cetera on his own. The big ballad became a major hit reaching #1 at both Pop and AC. It would also earn Cetera an Oscar nod for Best Original Song (along with co-writers David Foster and Diane Nini). Cetera's album would get to #23 and eventually go platinum while the film soundtrack would reach #30.

ReduxReview:  I will say that this big AC ballad is well written, produced, and performed. It's like a big, lovable can of spray cheez that you wanna cozy up to with a package or Ritz. I can certainly appreciate it, but I can't say that I actually like it. In fact, when this came out I kind of hated it. I thought it was just a rehash of stuff Chicago had already been doing with Foster. Even Omartian's production practically mimicked Foster's style. I'm guessing the original intent was that Chicago would record this song but then the fallout happened and Cetera claimed it as his own. It became a big hit thanks in part to the movie doing well, but for me I was like - been there, heard that, yawn.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although many people assumed it was, Solitude/Solitaire was not Cetera's first solo album. In 1980, Chicago was at a low point in their career. Their popularity had been in slow decline over the past few years and then their album Chicago XIV tanked at #71, the worst showing of their career and their first album not to at least reach gold level sales. Around this time, Cetera decided to do a solo album. It was to be issued out on the band's label Columbia, but then after Chicago XIV nosedived, the label bought the band out of their contract and let them go. The work Cetera did for his album would then be shelved. Luckily, Warner Bros. scooped up the band and agreed to releasing Cetera's solo disc. The unfortunate part was that Cetera had to buy the rights to the work he already did when with Columbia. Once everything was settled, Cetera's self-titled debut album was released in the fall of '81. The more rock-oriented LP featured the song "Livin' in the Limelight," which was able to reach #6 at Rock. The album only got to #143. Both might have done better had Warner Bros. promoted them, but the label wasn't interested in Cetera as a solo artist at the time and was more focused on getting Chicago back on track. That happened when David Foster stepped in and led the band to their second #1 hit "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" in 1982.  2) Cetera has said that this song was originally written to be the final song for the film Rocky IV, but the movie studio rejected the song for that film and instead pushed it over for use in Karate Kid, Part II.

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