Tuesday, December 31, 2019

"The Final Countdown" by Europe

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2998
Date:  01/24/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  8
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Arena Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  This Swedish band first formed in 1979 as Force. They spent the next few years honing their skills and learning to write songs. In 1982, the girlfriend of a band member entered them into a new music competition called Rock-SM. Over 4,000 rock acts submitted tapes to the contest and Force was one that got selected to compete. They made it to the finals where eight acts competed on live TV. By that point, the band had changed its name from Force to Europe. They ended up winning the contest and the prize of a record deal. The band released two albums, both of which were successful in Sweden and also Japan. Epic Records then came calling and offered the band a contract. Their first effort for the label was "Rock the Night," a song that appeared in the Swedish film On the Loose. It would be a #4 hit in Sweden in 1985. This led to the band's third album, The Final Countdown. It was produced by Kevin Elson, who had co-produced three of Journey's biggest albums including 1981's multi-platinum Escape. The title track from the album was released as the first single in the fall of '86. It would be a #1 hit in Sweden and other European countries. The song made its way to the States at the beginning of '87. It caught on as well and made the US Pop Top 10 while getting to #18 at Rock. In March of '87 the album would peak at #8.

ReduxReview:  It's odd that this song just happened to be the one to get posted on New Year's Eve!  A final countdown for the year!  Oh that honking keyboard. So very 80s and so very recognizable. It was kind of fun when the song first came out, but it wore on my nerves quickly. That dang riff was played constantly, especially at sporting events. It was like someone stabbing me in the ears every time I heard it. I just wanted it to go away. It never did. It is still around. A recent Geiko commercial featured the tune and the band (actually, the ad was pretty hilarious). What's funny is that there is not much to the song except the riff and the title. There are two verses, but no one remembers them or probably even realizes it is about leaving Earth for a new planet because Earth is pretty much done. I was never a fan of the tune, but I will say that the riff/chorus of the song was brilliant. They created an indelible earworm that has lasted for decades. I certainly wish I had written it. I just don't really wanna hear it.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band never meant for this song to be the LP's lead single. With their major label debut coming up along with an impending tour, the band wanted something grand and exciting to start off their concerts and to be the album's opening track. Band member and songwriter Joey Tempest revived a keyboard lick he came up with a few years earlier and wrote the song around it. When Tempest played a demo of the song for the band, they weren't necessarily excited by it. After some coaxing, everyone got on board and realized the finished product was good and would be perfect for opening their concerts. When it came time to pick a single for the album, Tempest suggested this song, but no one else thought it would be a hit. It wasn't until their label, Epic, picked it as their choice for a first single that the band came around to the idea.  2) Countless acts around the world have done really bad cover tunes. Luckily, not many of them get recorded either in the studio or on video. However, a performance captured on video of "The Final Countdown" by a band from Sweden went viral and was quickly called the worst cover ever. Deep Sunshine got together in 2003 and was mainly a cover band with a few originals tossed in. At some point in 2006, they performed at an outdoor venue and it was recorded on video. One of the songs they played in front of what seemed like minimal people was "The Final Countdown." It wasn't...well...good. With a wanky keyboard and an off-key singer, the band slogged their way through the tune. Someone then posted a video of the song on YouTube. It somehow got picked up by the website Fark and masses of people started to view the video. It has since racked up over 5 million views. A few years later, a video from the same performance was put on YouTube showing the band doing their original song "Big Tree." They sound better on the song, but of course that didn't lead to many views - just over 2k.


Monday, December 30, 2019

"All I Want" by Howard Jones

Song#:  2997
Date:  01/24/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  76
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Jones' third album, One to One, got kicked off with the #17 single "You Know I Love You...Don't You?" It wasn't necessarily the best start following a platinum album and a #4 hit, "No One Is to Blame," so it was key that the LP's next single did well in order to keep interest in the album going. This track was selected, but it couldn't get the job done. It stalled quite early on the Pop chart to become his lowest peaking single to-date in the US. The warning signs of a potential chart dud were there since it was actually the album's first single in the UK in the fall of '86 and it stalled at #35 there. In turn, the album would falter and only get to #59, which was a far cry from the #10 peak of his previous LP Dream Into Action.

ReduxReview:  I was a big HoJo fan at the time and I was thrilled when "You Know I Love You" came out. I loved it and looked forward to the album. However, the album ended up being a slight disappointment. It was still a good effort, but the songs just weren't as catchy, quirky or interesting as the ones on his previous albums. Jones was expanding his sound and trying to mature as an artist (he was even phasing out his big 80s hairdo) and that made One to One more of a transition album. Besides "You Know I Love You" there wasn't much in the way of single candidates. I have to agree that this tune was the logical choice for a second single, but I knew it wouldn't get far. It was a more mysterious and darker song for Jones and I don't think folks wanted that from him at the time.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1987, Jones and his manager, David Stopps, got the opportunity to own a restaurant in New York City. Jones and Stopps were vegetarians and when in town they frequented the vegetarian restaurant Macie's Mad Dog Cafe. Owner Joth Arnoldy wanted to open up a bigger vegetarian restaurant/bar and brought up the idea to Jones and Stopps. They jumped on board and a spot for the restaurant was found on Waverly Place in the West Village. Everything came together and the restaurant called Nowhere was opened in October of '87. Unfortunately, just four weeks later, a lit cigarette left on a couch in the bar caused a fire that nearly destroyed the place. They could have closed, but decided to renovate and reopen. The new Nowhere opened in January of '88. The restaurant did well and attracted celebs like Madonna and Lou Reed. It is unknown when Nowhere closed, but it doesn't exist any longer. As of this posting date, it looks like the former space is now the home of Josie Wood's Pub.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

"Big Mistake" by Peter Cetera

Song#:  2996
Date:  01/24/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  61
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Cetera's second solo album and first since leaving his band Chicago, Solitude/Solitaire, spawned two #1 hits including his duet with Amy Grant "The Next Time I Fall." Getting back to solo mode, this third single was issued out. The song was originally slated to be the first single from the LP, but then the movie soundtrack tune "Glory of Love" got released instead. It was probably a wise choice since that song hit #1 and this single stalled low on the chart. A fourth single, "Only Love Knows Why," made it to #24 at AC, but missed the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Releasing an uptempo tune after two big ballad hits was a good idea, but this just wasn't the right song for the job. Had it been the lead single, who knows what might have happened to the album. Much in the same way that Chicago's 80s hits were nearly all big ballads, Cetera, perhaps inadvertently, started off his solo career the same way. People wanted Cetera crooning power ballads, not fronting synth-rock fare like this song. Breaking out of the ballad mode might have worked with a stronger song. This one wasn't going to do it. It was fine for an album track, but it just wasn't catchy enough to lure in listeners at Pop radio. As the coda of this song alluded to, Cetera wrote this when he was with Chicago. A few of the band's tracks had an outro that gave the horn section something to do and the one on this song seemed like that would have been the case if Chicago had recorded it. Even if they did, this still would not have been a good single.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After his solo album, Cetera recorded a one-off tune that would be used in a Japanese film. "Stay with Me" would play over the closing credits of the fantasy movie Princess from the Moon. Based on the ancient story The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, the film performed well in Japan and would win three Japanese Academy Awards. It starred one of Japan's most famous actors, Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Rashomon). Cetera's song was written by Bobby Caldwell and John Parker. Caldwell co-produced with Cetera. Cetera and Caldwell had previously worked together. Caldwell had co-written the hit "The Next Time I Fall" for Cetera. "Stay with Me" would be issued out as a single in Japan. It got to #40 on the chart there.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

"Someone Like You" by Daryl Hall

Song#:  2995
Date:  01/24/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  57
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Hall's second solo effort, Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine, didn't rack up the same multi-platinum sales as works by Hall & Oates, but it did fairly well reaching #29 and spawning the #5 Pop single "Dreamtime." A second single, "Foolish Pride," scraped the Top 40 (#33) and that result was enough to call a follow-up. This third single got released and it did well at AC reaching #11. However, it didn't catch on at Pop and the song stalled before it could get inside the top half of the chart. With the album and its singles all wrapped up, Hall rejoined his partner John Oates to work on their next album, 1988's Ooh Yeah!

ReduxReview:  The opening of this track reminds me of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is." Unfortunately, the rest of the song doesn't have the same mass commercial appeal as Foreigner's #1 hit. It's a dark ballad that doesn't have a memorable hook. Had I heard this on the radio back in the day I probably would have said, "way to kill the mood." There was just no hit potential in the song at all. I'm actually surprised it got to #11 at AC. It's a dour track that was fine for the album, but not good for a single.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This would not be Hall's final solo single to reach the Pop chart. Later in 1993, Hall would record his third solo album, Soul Alone. It's first single, "I'm in a Philly Mood," would be a minor Pop chart entry at #82. With little to promote it, the LP then stalled at a very low #177. The album actually did better in the UK getting to #55. Four tracks from the LP would reach the UK chart with the best one being the #30 "Stop Loving Me, Stop Loving You." Two non-album tracks would also get Hall on the chart in the UK. Used as the anthem for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, "Gloryland" would pair Hall with the gospel/R&B ensemble Sounds of Blackness. The song would get to #36. Then in 1995, a duet with Dusty Springfield, "Wherever Would I Be," would get to #44. It was a remake of the 1990 Cheap Trick single written by Diane Warren that got to #50 in the US.


Friday, December 27, 2019

"Ain't So Easy" by David & David

Song#:  2994
Date:  01/24/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  51
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The duo of David Baerwald and David Ricketts got themselves on the charts with their debut single "Welcome to the Boomtown." The track would get to #8 at Rock while cracking the Pop Top 40 (#37). The hit would help their album reach #39. For a follow-up, this next song was selected. It would do fine at Rock getting to #17, but this time around the single was unable to make it into the top half of the Pop chart. One other track from their debut album Boomtown, "Swallowed By the Cracks," would get to #14 at Rock. Overall, it was a fairly successful start for the duo. However, it seems the pitfalls of the music business and success seemed to trap the pair and they called it quits before they could record a second album.

ReduxReview:  This is another good track from the duo that did have some commercial prospects. The percolating synths in the background drove the song while the chorus was hooky enough to remain memorable. It was an easygoing track where lyrics like "attend to your aches" and "rub my back" make it seem all is relaxing and wonderful. Yet if you read the lyrics you will quickly learn that this is a dark tune that ends on what could be interpreted as a threat - "I could never let you get away." Also note the line in the first verse that states "I'm sorry about your eye." Yikes. There was a menacing undercurrent beneath the bubbly music, but that pretty much summed up David & David. It's a shame they didn't do a follow-up album.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song featured background vocals by Toni Childs. After David & David collapsed, David Ricketts would go on to co-write songs for and co-produce Union, the debut album of Toni Childs. The album would eventually go gold and earn Childs two Grammy nods including one for Best New Artist. Ricketts would also co-produce the platinum-selling second album by Meredith Brooks, Blurring the Edges. That LP featured Brooks' breakthrough hit, the #2 "Bitch." That song would earn Brooks two Grammys nods. Ricketts would go on to win an Emmy award along with Childs in 2004. The pair along with Eddy Free wrote the song "Because You Are Beautiful" for the Lifetime TV documentary V-Day: Until the Violence Stops. The tune, performed by Childs, won the Emmy for Best Outstanding Music and Lyrics.  2) David Baerwald would go on to start a solo career. He released albums in 1990 and 1992. Both were critically well-received, but failed to chart. Baerwald and Ricketts were key players and songwriters on the 1993 debut album by Sheryl Crow, Tuesday Night Music Club. Baerwald co-wrote the hit "All I Wanna Do," which reached #2 at Pop and was nominated for a Song of the Year Grammy. Baerwald would continue to release albums on occasion while supplying songs to other artists. He also co-wrote "Come What May," a song featured in the hit 2001 film Moulin Rouge! The song would earn Baerwald a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

"Ronnies Rapp" by Ron and the D.C. Crew

Song#:  2993
Date:  01/24/1987
Debut:  95
Peak:  93
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Novelty, Rap

Pop Bits:  In 1981, Miami radio station lost its license and was forced to shut down. The station was revived in 1985 and then the following year became the dance/mix station WPOW-FM. A new morning show was introduced with a team of personalities that included Mark Moseley. Moseley was know for his imitation of celebrities along with creating his own characters. A voice that he did particularly well was that of President Ronald Reagan. Reagan was about midway into his second term at the time when Moseley had the idea to do a rap tune as Reagan for the radio show. He recorded a rap that wase simply intended to be aired as a comedic bit on the station's morning show. After it aired, Moseley was approached by a local producer who wanted to make it into a 12" single. Moseley agreed to having the song released. It was first issued via a new Miami dance music production company Hot Productions with the actual label imprint on the disc appropriately tagged as White House Records. The record gained enough attention that Profile Records (the label Run-D.M.C. were on) came calling and offered to distribute the song nationally. The novelty track earned enough sales and airplay for it to reach the Pop chart where it stayed near the bottom for a month. While it wasn't a major hit, it did bring attention to the radio station and it helped to kickstart a new career for Moseley as a celebrity impressionist.

ReduxReview:  I was truly surprised when I found this on Spotify. It's an obscure novelty record so I thought for sure I'd have to try and find it on YouTube. As I've mentioned many times before, I'm not a fan of novelty tunes, especially ones that reference a certain fad, time period, celebrity, etc., as they quickly become outdated. In this case it was a political era reference. Like most modern day presidents, Reagan was imitated and parodied quite a bit. Even the British band Genesis featured Reagan as the main character in a music video ("Land of Confusion"). I'm sure many other radio shows did their own skits and songs featuring Reagan at the time, but this clash of cultures one seemed to stand out. I could see this as a skit on Mad TV. It's actually not too bad. The Reagan voice is solid, the production is pretty good for a radio station one-off, and the lyrics leaned towards the smart side of things rather than just trying to be funny. Do I need to hear this more than once? Hell no. But for the time period it came out in it was slightly above average for a novelty track.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Moseley would push out a couple more singles of songs he did for the morning show after this one. Under the same Ron and the D.C. Crew moniker, Moseley put out the timely "Hello Donna Rice Goodbye Heart." Moseley set his parody of the Gary Hart/Donna Rice affair to the melody of "Hello Mary Lou," a song made famous in 1961 by Ricky Nelson (#6 Pop). Moseley also released "Tyrone's Rap," which was a tune based on an original character he had developed for the morning show. Both were released locally on indie labels.  2) Moseley was a radio personality for many years. He then parlayed his experience there into a career as a voice-over artist. Many times he acted like a stunt double for an actual celebrity. For example, in the 2007 film The Simpsons Movie, instead of getting Arnold Schwarzenegger to voice himself as the President, the producers hired Moseley to do Schwarzenegger's voice (this was for the English international version of the film as they went with Harry Shearer's parody voice for the US release). He also replaced Eddie Murphy as the voice for the character Mushu in Mulan II when Murphy didn't sign on for the sequel as well as doing Murphy's Donkey character in several Shrek products.


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

"The Honeythief" by Hipsway

Song#:  2992
Date:  01/24/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  19
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This outfit from Glasgow, Scotland, was formed by members of a couple other bands that happened to have broken up right about the same time. The combined experience of the members helped them quickly gel and it didn't take long for them to secure a record deal with Mercury. They began recording songs and released a couple of singles in the UK in 1985, but both were low-charters. Then this third single got pushed out. It ended up catching on and eventually peaked at #17 early in '86. By that time, their debut album was ready and it was released. Two more singles from the LP would be modest charters. As '86 dwindled down, a deal was struck for US distribution and nearly a year after it was a hit in the UK, this song got a shot Stateside. It would be a hit in the clubs with the tune getting to #9 on the Dance chart. It would also make the Pop Top 20. Another track from the album, "Ask the Lord," would get to #44 at Dance. It was a good start for the band, but then things quickly went downhill. After two members left the band, they soldiered on and recorded a second album in 1989. It produced one minor charting single in the UK and then disappeared. The band broke up soon after.

ReduxReview:  With its dance-pop/blue-eyed soul feel, hooky chorus, and deep voice of Grahame Skinner, this tune stood out on the radio. It was a bit unusual because the title of the song is not in the chorus. It gets mentioned in other sections. Still, it was hooky enough to be memorable and it was a good song for the dance floor. I will admit though that it took me forever to figure out what he was singing in the chorus. It's "the light of deep regret, let me see what I don't get." Whatever that means. I didn't care though. It was a fun song to hear.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Group co-founder and bassist Johnny McElhone had previously been a member of the new wave band Altered Images. That group released three albums in the early 80s that resulted in three Top 10 hits in the UK. They had very little success in the US with only one of their songs, 1981's "I Could Be Happy" (#7 UK), making it to #45 on the Dance chart. When that band split, McElhone helped form Hipsway. He stayed on for the debut album and subsequent tours, but then left the group. He then co-founded the Alt Rock band Texas with singer Sharleen Spiteri. Their first single, 1989's "I Don't Want a Lover," would reach #7 in the UK. It would also get some attention in the States hitting #11 on the Alternative Rock chart while getting to #27 Rock and #77 Pop. It would be their only charting song in the US. However, they continued to do well in the UK racking up two #1 albums and thirteen Top 10 hits.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

"Jacob's Ladder" by Huey Lewis & the News

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2991
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  40
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Lewis and his band's fourth album, Fore!, got off to a great start with its first two singles, "Stuck with You" and "Hip to Be Square," hitting the Pop Top 10 at #1 and #3, respectively. To keep the ball rolling, this third single got issued out. It would be another major winner for them becoming the band's third song to top the Pop chart. It also got to #10 at Rock and #17 AC. Although the album had already peaked at #1 for one week back in October '86, it was still riding in the Top 10 when this single was released. It would go on to sell over three million copies.

ReduxReview:  I didn't much care for the band's previous two singles. One was retro doo-wop while the other was just silly. They weren't all that bad, but I preferred when Lewis and Co. did solid straight-forward rock like "Heart and Soul." This tune got them closer to that territory. I liked the regal opening and strong chorus. The lyrics had a more serious tone and that was refreshing after a couple of quirky hits. While Hornsby may have missed out on a hit (see below), it was a tune that served Lewis quite well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Bruce Hornsby and his brother John. It was considered for inclusion on Hornsby's debut album The Way It Is with his band the Range. However, Hornsby didn't really like the way he and his band were performing the tune and decided not to record it. He then offered it up to Huey Lewis, who had produced three tracks for Hornsby's LP. Lewis and his band took the tune and recorded it. They ended up with a #1 hit. Hornsby would record a version of the song with his band for their second album, 1988's Scenes from the Southside.


Monday, December 23, 2019

"Respect Yourself" by Bruce Willis

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2990
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  55
Peak:  5
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Rock

Pop Bits:  Willis' acting career kicked into high gear when he got a co-starring role in the ABC series Moonlighting alongside Cybil. Shepherd. The show was a hit and the part won Willis an Emmy. His newfound stardom brought him other opportunities including movie roles. He also got the chance to hawk products. The Seagram company brought him on board to do a series of commercials for the golden wine coolers. In one commercial, Willis sings on a porch with a blues-style acoustic group. He also got the chance to sing on Moonlighting. Someone at Motown was paying attention and thought that they might be able to cash in on Willis' hot-at-the-time celebrity status. Willis was signed to Motown and work began on a debut album. While Willis had some musical talent playing harmonica and being able to sing blue-rock tunes, he wasn't a pro musician by any means, but the opportunity came up and Willis took it. He hooked up with composer/producer Robert Kraft to create an LP that mainly consisted of cover tunes with one Kraft/Willis original and a few other new tracks by other writers. This first single was issued out and with a push from Motown and an HBO special (see below), the song became a surprise hit reaching the Pop Top 10. It also got to #20 at R&B and #22 AC. The album would get to #14 and go gold. But like many actors-turned-singers who got surprise hits, Willis soon discovered that his recording career would be short-lived. Although he would have two more minor charting singles, this lone Top 10 got him tagged as a one-hit wonder (#37 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s).

ReduxReview:  When I was looking up information on this album, I saw one person say that Willis probably could have cleaned up at most any karaoke night. I thought that was accurate. Yeah, for Moonlighting, spots on TV specials, and commercials, he could sing and perform entertainingly. Yet as an actual recording artist? Um, no. Frankly, he wasn't even at a Blue Brothers level. However, he wasn't all that bad and it did sound like he was having a blast. In some ways that's what made this song mildly entertaining. I ended up buying the album because I loved Moonlighting and I really liked the album's associated HBO special (see below). I only played the LP a couple of times and filed it away. "Don't quit your day job" seemed to apply here, but at least Willis was able to add this Top 10 musical curiosity to his credits.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Staple Singers. Their 1971 version would get to #2 at R&B and #12 Pop. Many artists would cover the song but only The Staple Singers and Willis have been able to reach the Pop chart with a version. Singer Robert Palmer covered the tune for a 1995 hits compilation. It was released as a single in the UK and got to #45 on the chart.  2) This song featured an assist from June Pointer as a duet partner along with The Pointer Sisters on background vocals. The Temptations and Booker T. Jones also made appearances on the LP.  3) To help promote the album, a mockumentary titled The Return of Bruno was made. It starred Willis as the character Bruno Radolini. The comedy was about the ups and downs of music star Radolini and his influence on music and other artists. The film featured a myriad of stars including Elton John, Ringo Starr, Joan Baez, Phil Collins, The Bee Gees, and Jon Bon Jovi. Dick Clark also appeared and narrated the mockumentary. It first aired on HBO just after Willis' album was released.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

"Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby & the Range

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2989
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  69
Peak:  4
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock, Americana

Pop Bits:  Hornsby and his band hit the big time when "The Way It Is," the second single from their debut album of the same name, reached #1. The unexpected hit tossed the band into the limelight and made them stars. They needed a follow-up and this next track was selected as the third single from the LP. The wistful tune turned out to be another winner for them hitting the Pop Top 10 while going to #1 AC, #2 Rock, and #38 Country. The two hits pushed the album to #3 and eventually it would be a triple-platinum seller. Just about a month after this song debuted on the Pop chart, Hornsby and the band would win the Grammy for Best New Artist.

ReduxReview:  While both are still piano-driven, this song subtracts some of the more modern elements of "The Way It Is" in favor of a more traditional arrangement. It also leaned more towards a country sound that would later be known as Americana, hence its appearance on the Country chart. It was the perfect follow-up tune and it made sure they were not going to be one-hit wonders after the fluke #1 showing of "The Way It Is." The relaxed feel of the song combined with the strong chorus made it stand out on radio. As with "The Way It Is," the tune still sounds great today.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was covered by Pam Tillis in 1995. It was a track on her album All of This Love. It was not issued as a single, but did serve as the b-side to her #62 Country single "Betty's Got a Bass Boat." Tillis is the daughter of country music legend Mel Tillis, who in his career amassed thirty-six Top 10 Country singles including six #1 hits. Pam Tillis started out as a backup singer and songwriter before attempting a solo career in the early 80s. It didn't work out all that well with Tillis' career floundering for most of the decade. Then with Arista Records in the early 90s she finally broke through. Between 1990 and 1997, Tillis scored thirteen Top 10 Country hits including one #1. Three of her albums went platinum while two went gold.


Saturday, December 21, 2019

"Let's Wait Awhile" by Janet Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2988
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  75
Peak:  2
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Pop

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Jackson's Control album had spawned four gold-selling Pop Top 5 hits. With the album still selling well, it was decided that a fifth single would be released. This ballad was selected for the job. It ended up being the right choice with the song hitting #1 at R&B and #2 at both AC and Pop. Although it didn't reach the gold-level sales mark like her previous four singles, Pop chart-wise it was the second highest peaking of the bunch with only the #1 "When I Think of You" doing better. While she wouldn't be the first artist to get five Top 5 singles from one album, she would accomplish it faster with the LP's first five singles going Top 5. Her brother Michael was the first to get five Top 5 singles from one album (Thriller), but they were not consecutive. The first four singles from the LP went Top 5, but the next two singles peaked at #7 and #10. The title track would then get him his fifth Top 5 from the album.

ReduxReview:  This single came out at just the right time. A song about abstinence in the era of AIDS was appropriate and well-received. Although the lyrics were inspired by a conversation co-writer Melanie Andrews had with her boyfriend about waiting to have sex, the song resonated with people in a time of fear and uncertainty. It was a lovely track that was perfect for Jackson's voice and featured a production that was nicely restrained. The song was also a good contrast to the previous four singles' upbeat R&B/dance-pop. Jackson would go on to write a couple of follow-up songs to this one: "Someday Is Tonight" from Rhythm Nation 1814 and "With U" from 20 Y.O.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was nearly the subject of a plagiarism lawsuit. Back when this song was released as a single, the road manager for the soft rock band America happened to hear it on the radio while driving his car. He thought the verse of the song was quite similar to the verse in the America song "Daisy Jane." That 1975 song was the band's follow up single to their big #1 hit "Sister Golden Hair." It would get to #4 at AC while reaching #20 at Pop. The song's writer, America member Gerry Buckley, was contacted and the similarities between the songs were enough for his camp to reach out to Jackson's camp. Unlike other recent plagiarism issues that ended up in court, Jackson and her team acknowledged the similarities and decided to reach a settlement with Buckley. It seems a financial agreement took place, but it did not include Buckley getting a writing credit on the song. Later reissues of the song and the Control album still listed the songwriters as Janet Jackson, Jam & Lewis, and Melanie Andrews. Jackson and Jam & Lewis would purposely revisit the America catalog later in 2001. They would sample the guitar riff heard in America's 1972 #8 hit "Ventura Highway" on the All for You album track "Someone to Call My Lover." That song would be the LP's second single and it would reach #3 at Pop. America member and songwriter Dewey Bunnell would receive a writing credit on the track.


Friday, December 20, 2019

"As We Lay" by Shirley Murdock

Song#:  2987
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  79
Peak:  23
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Soul, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  This gospel singer from Ohio got a break in the music business when she got picked up by another Ohio act, the R&B/funk band Zapp. She was hired on by the band's leader, Roger Troutman, as a backing vocalist in the early 80s. Troutman also enlisted Murdock to supply vocals for his own second solo LP (he recorded simply under the name Roger) in 1984, and on Zapp's fourth album the following year, which included the #8 R&B hit "Computer Love." Murdock had featured vocalist spot on that song and it quickly raised her profile. Her next stop was a contract with Elektra Records and a 1986 self-titled debut album produced by Troutman. Her first single, "No More," got to #24 R&B/#27 Dance. A follow-up failed to chart, but this third single became her major breakthrough. It got to #5 at R&B while making the Pop Top 30 and hitting #21 at AC. A follow-up single, "Go on Without You" would reach #5 R&B. The hits helped her album get to #9 R&B and #44 Pop. It would eventually be certified gold. Unfortunately, this song would be Murdock's only one to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This quiet soul ballad did well on the Pop chart, which was a little surprising. Although it had verses and a chorus, the melodies were drawn out with Murdock interpreting each a bit different. It nearly made for a rambling tune, yet somehow it all worked. A lovely tone was set from the beginning and Murdock gracefully guided you through the quiet parts while ramping up her vocals at the appropriate times showing off her range and pipes. For a song about infidelity, it's kinda romantic! It's a terrific quiet storm track that is rarely heard these days.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Murdock would release two more albums for Elektra each of which generated a Top 10 single at R&B. However, despite the hits it seemed album sales lagged and she wouldn't get the opportunity to record a fourth major label LP. She would then return to her gospel roots and release the album Home in 2002. It would make the Top 10 on the Gospel chart as would her 2007 effort Soulfood.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

"Deep River Woman" by Lionel Richie

Song#:  2986
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  71
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Richie's "Ballerina Girl" would be the fourth single lifted from his album Dancing on the Ceiling. It would be his thirteenth consecutive (and last) Top 10 at Pop reaching #7. However, the single served a double purpose. While "Ballerina Girl" was being hawked to a mainstream audience, it's flip side, "Deep River Woman," got promoted at Country radio. Featuring background vocals by country superstar band Alabama, the tune did well enough to reach #10 on the Country chart. It was Richie's first and only Top 10 at Country as an artist (he had previously hit #1 at Country as a songwriter on Kenny Rogers' 1980 single "Lady"). However, Pop and AC radio picked up on the tune and began spinning it as well. Since it was commercially available as a single, the song was able to get on the Pop chart. It only stayed for a month and peaked low, which broke Richie's string of Top 10s. It also interrupted his string of Top 10s at AC by stopping at #28. 

ReduxReview:  Even though "Lady" was recorded by Kenny Rogers, I don't think Richie set out to write a country song. Same with "Stuck on You" (see below). However, this song does sound like that was his intent. The intro guitar, the song title, the "lord" part, and the addition of Alabama screamed that Richie was looking for some country-style cred along with expanding his fan base. The ploy paid off well with the track going to #10 at Country. It seemed a bit forced to me when I first heard it back in the day, but hearing it now I have to say in the long run it ended up being one of the better tracks on the album. "Better" is relative because there was very little I liked on the LP. While I'm not completely sold on the song, it wasn't necessarily a bad effort.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This wasn't Richie's first or last single to reach the Country chart. He first made the chart in 1984 with "Stuck on You" (#3 Pop). That song was able to reach #24. Later in 2012, Richie released an album titled Tuskegee on which he revisited a bunch of his old Commodores and solo hits. Each track featured a guest artist. For the LP, Richie reworked "Deep River Woman." and enlisted the help of another hot country band, Little Big Town. Although the track was not promoted as a single, some country stations spun the song following the release of the album and that airplay made the song hit #60 on the Country chart. It would only stay on the chart for one week.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

"Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2985
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  2
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  When the New Zealand band Split Endz ("I Got You," #53, 1980) broke up in 1984, members Neil Finn and Paul Hester decided to start a band of their own. They brought on two more musicians and became The Mullanes in 1985. The quartet got signed to Capitol Records, but one member left soon after and they were reduced to a trio just before work began on their self-titled debut album. It was finished in the summer of '86 and released in a few countries including Australia. Three singles were issued out from the LP. They all charted in Australia, but none went higher than #23. Then this fourth single got released and it became a bigger hit reaching #8. It got to #1 in New Zealand. With their profile raised, it was time to try and expand to other territories including the US. The song would be the first taste of the band in the States and it was well liked nearly topping the Pop chart while getting to #9 AC and #11 Rock. The hit would help their debut LP reach #12.

ReduxReview:  I've always kind of considered this the 80s version of Procol Harum's 1967 #5 classic "Whiter Shade of Pale." The organ was a tip off that the Procol Harum song was definately an influence. It worked very well. The opening lines of this song were indelible, especially "try to catch the deluge in a paper cup." The verse then led to the lovely "hey now" chorus that made the song even more memorable. The tune's folk-rock feel wasn't necessarily normal for pop radio at the time so it stood out. It was an excellent debut and one that has lasted long past its initial hit days.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The video for this song was a winner as well. It was nominated for four MTV Music Video Awards. It won the band the Best New Artist trophy.  2) When it came time for the band to record the album, they flew to L.A. for the sessions headed up by producer Mitchell Froom. The three band members were given a place to stay in a small home located in the Hollywood hills. There was not a lot of room to spare with three guys, luggage, instrument, etc. When their label requested that the band change their name, as they didn't like The Mullanes, the members thought of their tiny digs and decided to rechristen the band Crowded House.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

"Hooked on You" by Sweet Sensation

Song#:  2984
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  64
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  This female vocal trio from The Bronx consisted of Betty LeBron and sisters Margie and Mari Fernandez. A chance encounter with the hip hop group The Boogie Boys ("A Fly Girl," #6 R&B, 1985) got them hooked up with Boys member Joe "Romeo J.D." Malloy, who began working with the trio along with producer David Sanchez. Among the first songs they worked on was one titled "Could It Be." This tuned ended up getting reworked and turned into "Hooked on You." The song helped the trio get signed to the indie dance label Next Plateau Records and it was issued out as single. The tune got a little bit of attention and was able to spend three months on the Pop chart. A second single, "(Goodbye Baby) Victim of Love," made a minor dent on the Dance chart at #44. The results were good enough to draw major label interest and the trio signed on with ATCO and began work on a debut album.

ReduxReview:  Sweet Sensation were among the first of the 80s/90s cluster of female vocal groups doing freestyle and other varieties of dance/R&B music. Soon would come Exposé, Seduction, En Vogue, etc. Several of the groups were assembled for projects by songwriters/producers. While Sweet Sensation were pretty much already a group, their songs were mainly written and/or produced by Malloy, Sanchez and Ted Currier. The team didn't necessarily offer anything new, but they did a pretty good job on this track. It had a good chorus and it featured a clean, 80s freestyle production. The solo vocal is a little on the weak side, but the voices together were nice and strong. While it was not a standout, it was a good introduction for the trio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  If you were thinking that this song did better on the chart than #64, you are right. Their debut album's fourth single "Sincerely Yours," would be their breakthrough hit reaching #14 early in '89. The label thought the hit needed a follow up and decided to release a remixed version of "Hooked on You." It would end up doing much better on its second go-around getting to #23 in the summer of '89. 


Monday, December 16, 2019

"Summertime, Summertime" by Nocera

Song#:  2983
Date:  01/17/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  84
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Dance, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  This Italian singer/songwriter moved to the States when she was 18 and it only took her about a year to secure a recording contract. She signed on with the indie dance label Sleeping Bag and began to record music. Nocera co-wrote and co-produced this first single with Floyd Fisher. It was released in the fall of '86 and it got to #2 on the Dance chart in November. Around the same time it got to #47 at R&B. By the end of the year it began to get picked up by pop radio and after the new year it cracked the Pop chart. It didn't stay long, but it was enough to call for a full album and Nocera's Over the Rainbow got released later in the year. A second single, "Let's Go," became another dance hit for Nocera late in '87 getting to #8. It would get to #70 at R&B, but fail to make the Pop chart. While the album didn't chart, Nocera got the green light to record a follow-up. Unfortunately, Sleeping Bag went out of business and that killed Nocera's second LP and contract. She would then move over to being a background vocalist for several acts including Information Society. Nocera headed up a couple of bands along the way while becoming a successful club DJ in New York.

ReduxReview:  Well, her vocals are certainly unique. A bit shrill, a little girly, and carrying a fairly heavy accent. Granted, she hadn't been in the States all that long, but you could definitely tell she wasn't from around here. The vocals don't sound heavily processed so I would think this was her natural voice and she could sing, but she does remind me of some young girl who think she wants to be a singer and gets her parents to float a recording session to which she shows up all decked out in Madonna gear and sings some song put together by a studio owner/producer. Karaoke, basically. However, I strangely like her voice on this track and the fact that she co-wrote/produced the track says something. The tune is actually quite catchy and she does the octave jump on "take..me" very well. With a different singer and better production, this could have been a hit. The clubs enjoyed the track, but I think it was just a hair too odd for pop radio.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was covered by American singer Corina. Her 1997 version would get to #64 R&B and #86 Pop. It would be her fourth and last Pop chart entry. Corina signed on with the indie label Cutting Records in '87 and issued out a few singles over the next couple of years. Her second single, "Give Me Back My Heart," did well enough to reach #26 on the Dance chart. As the 90s started, Cutting Records got picked up by ATCO and Corina was brought along. Her first single for them was 1991's "Temptation." It would be a hit getting to #6 on the Pop chart while going to #22 at Dance. Her debut album then got released and it would spawn two other lower charting Pop tracks. While the album didn't chart, it seemed like Corina had some momentum, yet something happened and her time at ATCO came to an end. She moved over to So So Def and recorded "Summertime, Summertime" for one of their compilations. Despite being able to chart at Pop and R&B, it seemed it wasn't enough for the label to continue her contract.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

"Coming Up Close" by 'til tuesday

Song#:  2982
Date:  01/10/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  59
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Alternative Rock, Folk-Rock

Pop Bits:  This Boston band's second album, Welcome Home, got started with it's first single, "What About Love." While it would be a hit at Rock getting to #9, it didn't do as well at Pop where it fizzled at #26. It was a disappointing result, but hopes were high that this next single would do better. Unfortunately it stalled early at Rock only reaching #37 while not being able to crack the top half of the Pop chart. That left the album peaking at #49 and failing to reach the same gold level sales of their 1985 debut.

ReduxReview:  With the band shedding the new wave of their debut album for a more mature alt-folk rock sound, getting a hit single was going to be difficult. Indeed neither the first single nor this second one performed very well, which is too bad. Both were excellent tracks from an album that was far superior to their debut. Mann was feeling more comfortable in her writing and she grew leaps and bounds with Welcome Home and its follow up. Critics were handing out accolades, but pop radio and listeners didn't pay much attention. They were looking for "Voices Carry, Pt. 2" and it didn't happen. Yet it was probably a good thing. Mann went on to a brilliant solo career that earned her two Grammys and an Oscar nod (see below). That might not have happened had she stayed on the commercial 80s new wave/synthpop trail. This lilting folk-rock track was the logical choice for a second single from the album, but it just wasn't going to do very well on a chart that was being dominated by massively hooky tunes by the likes of Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Bon Jovi. Still, it was another quality song from Mann.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Following the band's 1988 third album, Everything's Different Now, they went out on tour. Personnel changes took place and they needed a guitarist. They hired on a musician who had recently moved to Boston named Jon Brion. After 'til tuesday broke up, Brion started to pick up session work. Then when it came time for Aimee Mann's solo album, Brion co-wrote three songs with Mann and co-produced the LP. He then co-write five songs for Mann's second solo effort and produced it. It raised his profile and more session and production work came his way. He would work for a big list of artists including Fiona Apple, Melissa Etheridge, Peter Gabriel, The Wallflowers, Macy Gray, and Rufus Wainwright. He also branched out to scoring music for films. In 1999, both he and Mann would work on music for the Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia. Brion wrote the score while Mann contributed songs. Their work on the film would earn them Grammy nominations while Mann would receive an Oscar nomination for the song "Save Me." Brion would go on to co-produce the 2005 album Late Registration by Kanye West. Brion would receive a Grammy for his work when the LP won for Best Rap Album


Saturday, December 14, 2019

"Shelter" by Lone Justice

Song#:  2981
Date:  01/10/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  47
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

**Welcome to 1987! 1986 started with the abysmal "Superbowl Shuffle." Luckily, '87 gets started with a terrific song. Let's get going!**

Pop Bits:  This band headed up by Maria McKee was touted as being the next big thing prior to their 1985 self-titled debut album. Unfortunately, their introduction proved to be underwhelming with the album stopping #56 and the single "Ways To Be Wicked" sputtering at #29 Rock and #71 Pop. In the aftermath, two of the four members took off leaving McKee and guitarist Ryan Hedgecock to soldier on. They padded the band with three new members and set off with producers Steve Van Zandt and Jimmy Iovine to record a second album. It would be called Shelter and this title track would be its first single. It would get to #26 at Rock while cracking the Pop Top 50. A second single, "I Found Love," would fail to chart at either Rock or Pop. With nothing much to promote it, the album stopped at #65. The band that was once a hot commodity had turned cold and not long after Shelter failed to boost their career, the band split up.

ReduxReview:  This slick, radio-ready song is quite a distance away from the band's cowpunk origins. Their debut album was kind of a tamped down version of their country/blues/rock sound while Shelter was a more commercial-leaning rock album. Frankly, I love all iterations of the band and I really dug the Shelter album when it came out. Especially this sweeping single and its ghostly opening. I think Iovine, Van Zandt, and the band's label, Geffen, really wanted to make rock stars out of the band, but it just wasn't meant to be. Early fans of the band didn't like the sleek Shelter with its synths and non-countrified tunes, but I thought it was great. Especially the devastating "Wheels," which I've sung and cried to in my car countless times. As much as I liked Lone Justice, the main attraction for me was Maria McKee's voice and songs. Her self-titled debut solo album is one of my all-time faves and each album after was varied in sound and textures (in a good way). She is just brilliant. While this song may not reflect the sound of Lone Justice from the early 80s, it was still a solid tune that should have at least made the Top 20. Ages ago a friend of mine sang in a bar band and my group of friends would go see them and drink n' dance. She knew I loved this song and for a while after it came out, she always made sure to play it sometime during the night. I always appreciated that.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Maria McKee would embark on a solo career following the breakup of Lone Justice. Her self-titled debut arrived in 1989. One song from the LP, "I Forgotten What It Was in You (That Put the Need in Me)" got to #29 on the Rock chart. The album would peak at #120. McKee would end up having two major hits. Her first one was as a songwriter. She penned the song "A Good Heart" that was recorded by Feargal Sharkey. It was a hit in the UK (#1) and in other countries, but it was virtually ignored in the US (#74). Her second hit was one she co-wrote and performed. She contributed the song "Show Me Heaven" to the soundtrack of the 1990 Tom Cruise film Days of Thunder. It would be released as a single around Europe and it would hit #1 in several countries including the UK. It was never officially released as a single in the US, but airplay on AC radio helped the song get to #28 on that chart. McKee would go on to release several albums including the highly acclaimed Bowie-esque Life Is Sweet in 1996.


Friday, December 13, 2019

Milestone! The Year in Review: 1986

Wow. It is hard to believe that I've been at this for a little over seven years now. Things have changed since I first started in September of 2012. There is more info available on artists from the decade and the availability of tunes on streaming services has significantly increased. Years ago when I first started the blog, there were times I had to purchase a vinyl copy of a 45 or album in order to hear the song. I haven't had to do that in a long while as most significant artists are all on Spotify. There were major artists who were resistant to streaming for years (Prince, Bob Seger), but they are all on services now. There are still a few obscure tunes not available there, but thus far I've been able to find them on YouTube. I'm sure in another seven years things will have changed again.

As for 1986, it was a good transition year. Run-D.M.C. and Beastie Boys raised the rap game while the Stock Aitken Waterman production team developed their dance-pop formula via Bananarama and were on their way to Rickrolling us in '87. Janet Jackson came into her own as her producers/co-writers Jam & Lewis started their string of hits for Jackson and other artists like the Human League. Madonna matured a bit yet still courted controversy via "Papa Don't Preach." Hard rock and hair metal kept edging its way up the chart. Peter Gabriel and his former band Genesis went head-to-head and both came out with #1 songs. MTV was still going strong as music videos were becoming more elaborate (Gabriel's award-winning "Sledgehammer") and essential.

For me, '86 was pretty much on par with '85. There were definitely a lot of quality songs that made the year enjoyable. However, I didn't own as much Top 10's as I had in previous years. I believe at one point I only owned five songs in the Top 10 for a few weeks, which was low. I rated eight songs at a ten, which was the same as '85, but I'd have to say that even though the tunes deserved the rating, I'm not sure if any of them will make my Top 20 list for the decade. I have a suspicion that '87 will prove to be slightly better as classics from U2, Michael Jackson, and George Michael will shake things up.

I'm still enjoying this project and I hope anyone who encounters the blog will have fun as well. Keep reading, pass it along to friends, feel free to send comments, and don't forget to "Rate It!" at the bottom of each post. Here is a recap of 1986:

Number of charted songs in 1986:  401  (405 in 1985)
Time it took listen/post all songs:  1 year, 36 days  (1 year, 39 days for 1985)
Number of songs that debuted in 1986 to hit #1:  30  (28 in 1985)
Number of songs that debuted in 1986 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  81  (74 in 1985)
Number of gold singles:  17  (17 in 1985)
Number of platinum singles: 1  (2 in 1985)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  6  (8 in 1985)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  6  (5 in 1985)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  8  (8 for 1985)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  0  (1 for 1985)

Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "Human" by The Human League
  2. "Like Flames" by Berlin
  3. "On My Own" by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald
  4. "What Have You Done for Me Lately" by Janet Jackson
  5. "Live to Tell" by Madonna
Worst song of the year:  "Lead a Double Life" by Loverboy
Best song I didn't know existed:  "Stay True" by Sly Fox
Favorite discovery:  Wax

A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #40 - "Dancing on the Ceiling" by Lionel Richie (peaked at #2) and
                                  "True Blue" by Madonna (peaked at #3)
Lowest debut:  #99 - "In Between Days (Without You)" by The Cure (peaked at #99)

Longest climb to peak position:  Both "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin and "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & the Beaters climbed 95 positions from #96 to #1

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1986:  "Holding Back the Years" by Simply Red took 15 weeks to reach #1
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1986:  "Amanda" by Boston took 7 weeks to reach #1.
Most weeks at #1 for a song debuting in 1986:  4 - for two songs, "Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles and "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1986:  27 - "Something About You" by Level 42 (it peaked at #7).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  13
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #88, #94, #95 - 23 songs debuted at those spots (11 hit Top 10, 3 made it to #1)
Longest song title:  "One Sunny Day/Duelling Bikes from Quicksilver " by Ray Parker, Jr. and Helen Terry
Shortest song title:  "Bop" by Dan Seals and "War" by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1986:  Falco, The Cure, Pet Shop Boys, Fine Young Cannibals, The Jets, George Michael (solo), Belinda Carlisle (solo), Bruce Hornsby & the Range, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam (with Full Force), Run-D.M.C., The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Cinderella, Anita Baker, The Art of Noise.

Runners-Up:  13 songs peaked at #2, 1 songs peaked at #11, and 5 songs peaked at #41

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts):
  • The story of Peter Frampton's lost guitar is pretty amazing.
  •  John Cougar Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." mentions a musician whose death is clouded in mystery.
  • Partridge Family member Danny Bonaduce sort of recorded a solo album during the show's run.
  • Solo hit maker and Wax band member Andrew Gold's mother was a singer who made significant contributions to a few classic films.
  • Writers of the Whitney Houston's hit "Greatest Love of All" were nearly sued for plagiarism by another famous artist.
  • A member of the Aussie band the Models won a bunch of money on a game show.
  • A now-famous Oscar-nominated director got his start making 80s music videos including one for Jermaine Stewart
  • Kenny Loggins was the fifth artist asked to record the Top Gun soundtrack hit "Danger Zone."
  • Also not the first choice - Berlin on "Take My Breath Away."
  • Actor Danny Aiello, who appeared in Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" video, recorded an answer song to the hit.
  • Before becoming a charting artist himself, Bruce Hornsby was a member of Sheena Easton's backing band an appeared in a couple of her videos.
  • Heart's rockin' track "If Looks Could Kill" was original a charting dance tune.
  • Steve Perry's parents owned a radio station.
  • Don Johnson's hit "Heartbeat" was originally recorded by a hit making 70s AC artist.
  • A Bonnie Tyler track was repurposed for Bon Jovi's breakthrough hit "You Give Love a Bad Name."
  • The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde wrote "Don't Get Me Wrong" for a tennis pro with a bad boy image.
  • Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" was originally demoed as a mid-tempo ballad.
  • Elton John wrote a song with Cher...well, sort of.
  • A hit for The Jets was written by an artist who had a couple of Top 10s at the turn of the 80s.
  • Debbie Harry's "French Kissin'" was written by a now-famous TV writer/producer.
According to the year-end chart for 1986, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne & Friends
  2. "Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie
  3. "I Miss You" by Klymaxx
  4. "On My Own" by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald
  5. "Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister
  6. "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston
  7. "Party All the Time" by Eddie Murphy
  8. "Burning Heart" by Survivor
  9. "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister
  10. "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer

So long '86! I'm pretty sure you will be eclipsed by '87, but I ain't mad atcha!


Thursday, December 12, 2019

"Without Your Love" by Toto

Song#:  2980
Date:  12/27/1986
Debut:  77
Peak:  38
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Toto's 1984 album Isolation was a disappointment following the massive success of their 1982 Grammy-winning Toto IV. It peaked at #42 and struggled to go gold. Their next LP, Fahrenheit, would do about the same business getting to #40 and going gold, but it boasted one thing that Isolation didn't have - a hit. The LP's first single "I'll Be Over You" would reach #11 at Pop and #1 AC. For a follow-up, the band kept with the soft rock sound of their previous single and released this track. It would do well at AC getting to #7, but it didn't click as well at Pop and the tune stalled just inside the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  The band continued to keep the yacht rock waves ebbing and flowing with this lilting tune. It is pure So.Cal soft rock and like their previous hit it sounded pretty good. It was a slightly darker tune and floated just a bit closer to smooth jazz, so I'm not surprised it didn't catch on as well at Pop. Much like in the way Chicago realized their 80s bread n' butter was big ballads, Toto seemed to accept that listeners wanted to hear their brand of soft rock and it paid off for them with these two singles.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by band member David Paich. He also wrote or co-wrote the band's three biggest hits, "Hold the Line" (#5), "Rosanna" (#2) and "Africa" (#1). In addition to being a six-time Grammy winner, Paich is also an Emmy winner. A few years prior to Paich being a co-founding member of Toto, he was working with his father, jazz pianist/composer/arranger Marty Paich. Marty Paich would go on to become a Grammy nominated arranger and work with a myriad of artists including Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, and Linda Ronstadt. Back in the 60s, Marty began to work as an arranger and orchestra leader for TV shows like The Smothers Brothers and Sonny & Cher. He also began composing music for TV shows and as his son David developed his musical inclinations, Marty began mentoring and working with him on projects. A composition the pair wrote for a 1974 episode of the TV drama Ironside would go on to win an Emmy for Best Song or Theme.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

"Candy" by Cameo

.Song#:  2979
Date:  12/27/1986
Debut:  80
Peak:  21
Weeks:  17
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  It took twelve albums and nearly ten years for Cameo to finally land a Top 10 hit on the Pop chart. "Word Up," the first single from their album of the same name, made it to #6 at Pop while reaching #1 at both R&B and Dance. The hit also helped the album become their first platinum seller (#8 Pop/#1 R&B). Hoping for another crossover hit, the band released this follow-up single. Although it would become their third chart topper at R&B, it couldn't do as well as "Word Up" on the Pop chart and stalled just shy of the Top 20. Still, the back-to-back hits raised the band's profile and put them at a whole new level.

ReduxReview:  While not as massively hooky as "Word Up," this was an interesting follow-up. There was something alluring and mesmerizing about the song that kept your attention. From Larry Blackmon's strangely accented voice to the waves of synths to the sax breaks, the tune was a bit odd. It wasn't a track that I would say was a hit, yet there was something about it that made you want to hear it again. Blackmon's production certainly set the song apart and it sounded great when cranked. It was an unusual single that actually worked.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The sax on this song was performed by jazz musician Michael Brecker. In addition to playing on a multitude of tracks by big stars like Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Dire Straits, and Steely Dan, Brecker would be nominated for 28 Grammy awards for performance and composition. He would win 15. Brecker would die in 2007 due to complications from leukemia.  2) Feel like you have heard parts of this song before? You most likely have. It has been sample many times over the years by artists like 2Pac, Will Smith, The Black Eyed Peas, and Beyoncé. Perhaps its most heard use was when it was sampled on Mariah Carey's 2001 hit "Loverboy." That song, recorded for the soundtrack to her film Glitter, became a #2 hit. However, "Candy" was not the first sample choice for Carey's record. She initially wanted to use a sample of "Firecracker," a 1978 track by the Yellow Magic Orchestra. Around this time, Carey had left Colombia Records for Virgin and had divorced her husband Tommy Mottola, who was working for Sony. He started working with Jennifer Lopez and when he got wind of Carey using "Firecracker," he sought permission to use it for a Lopez song. Indeed they did and samples of the song were used on Lopez's 2001 #1 hit "I'm Real." It ended up getting released prior to Carey's original "Loverboy," so she scrapped that version and started over again with the sample from "Candy." Regardless of the shenanigans, both artists ended up with significant hits.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

"Don't Leave Me This Way" by The Communards

Song#:  2978
Date:  12/27/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  40
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Dance, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  In 1984, the UK synthpop trio Bronski Beat hit the big time with their debut album The Age of Consent. It would reach #4 in the UK thanks to two Top 10 hits there including the #3 "Smalltown Boy," which crossed over to the US Pop chart and got to #48. It seemed the band was on their way to bigger things, but then lead singer Jimmy Somerville suddenly decided to leave and form a duo with a musician who played on the album, Richard Coles. They called themselves The Communards and began work on a debut LP. The self-titled effort would be released in the summer of '86 in the UK and it would be a #7 hit thanks in part to this single which topped the UK chart for four weeks and became the best selling single of 1986. The song would be a hit all over Europe before finally coming ashore here in the States late in the year. It would replicate its UK success on the US Dance chart by reaching #1. It crossed over the Pop chart, but it didn't catch on in a more mainstream way and just barely nicked the Top 40. The album would be a low charter at #90. Another track from the album, "So Cold the Night," would get to #25 at Dance (#8 UK).

ReduxReview:  Somerville always sings in a falsetto so for some folks that can be an acquired taste. I like it, but sometimes a full album can be a bit too much so I tend to listen to selected tracks like this one. It's also odd that Somerville's voice is higher than the actual female voice on this (see below), but they do compliment each other. I prefer Houston's classic disco version better (again, see below), but this 80s dance floor workout take is pretty fun. For the US, this track was a bit too club-oriented for pop radio so a Top 40 showing wasn't a bad result. Dance clubs ate it up though and it was an easy #1 on that chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The duo's name was taken from French history. The Paris Commune was the name of a radical socialist group and government that for a minor few months in 1871 ruled Paris in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. They were ultimately quashed by the French army during a long struggle for control that became known as "bloody week." The members of the Commune along with its supporters were known as Communards.  2) This is a remake of a song originally recorded in 1975 by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with Teddy Pendergrass handling lead vocals. The song was a track for their album Wake Up Everybody and was not initially released as a single. The tune then found its way over to Motown and was slated to be recorded by Diana Ross. Instead, it got assigned to label mate Thelma Houston. Houston had been associated with Motown since 1971, but she had little luck breaking through. Her disco take on the song became a smash hit in 1977 reaching #1 at Pop, R&B, and Dance. It would end up being a classic of the genre. With the success of Houston's version, Harold Melvin's original got issued out as a single the same year. It didn't make an impression in the US, but it was a hit in the UK reaching #5 (Houston's version got to #13 in the UK). Houston would go on to win the Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for the song.  3) The female vocal on the track was courtesy of Sarah Jane Morris. She had been the lead vocalist in two well-regarded UK bands, the political-leaning The Republic and the 21-piece brass band The Happy End. Although not considered a formal member of the Communards, Morris would lend her vocals to several of their tracks. She would later launch a solo career in 1989. She is cousin to famed Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin.


Monday, December 9, 2019

"Someone" by El DeBarge

Song#:  2977
Date:  12/27/1986
Debut:  90
Peak:  70
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  DeBarge's second solo single, "Love Always," did well at R&B (#7) and AC (#8), but it stopped short of the Pop Top 40 at #43. Hoping to rekindle interest on Pop radio, this third single from his self-titled debut album was pushed out. It did best at AC getting to #20, but it halted at #32 at R&B while riding the bottom of the Pop chart for a couple of months. It didn't do much to help promote the album, which had already been certified gold in September '86. It would end up being DeBarge's last solo single to reach the Pop chart. Over the years he would have several more singles get on the R&B chart with 1989's "Real Love" doing the best at #8. He would record three albums before pausing his solo career in 1995. He would return in 2010 with Second Chance, an album that would garner him two Grammy nominations.

ReduxReview:  While this Stevie Wonder-ish song is mildly better than "Love Always," it still wasn't a tune that was going to be a hit. It made for a nice album track, but there was no way it was going to return DeBarge to the Top 10 on any chart. The tune just wasn't strong enough. It boasted excellent songwriters (Jay Graydon, Mark Mueller, and Robbie Nevil), but like other tracks on the album that featured solid composers, it sounded like their b-level material. I'm not sure what DeBarge and his label were thinking, but molding him into an AC crooner wasn't the brightest idea.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia: While DeBarge would be absent from the Pop chart as a solo artist, two singles on which he would be a featured artist would make the chart. In 1990, a track from Quincy Jones' Grammy-winning LP Back on the Block, "Secret Garden," would reach #31 on the Pop chart. It would go to #1 at R&B and #26 AC. DeBarge would share lead vocal duties on the tune along with Barry White, Al B. Sure!, and James Ingram. He would also be a featured vocalist on the 1991 single "All Through the Night" by rapper Tone Lōc. It would get to #80 at Pop and #16 R&B. DeBarge's last solo song to hit the AC chart came in 1987. He sang the title song to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Starlight Express for a 1987 concept-style album titled Music and Songs from Starlight Express. The show originally opened in London's West End in 1984 and finally crossed over over to Broadway in 1987. An original London cast album of the show had already been available, so to help promote the Broadway run, the concept album was developed and DeBarge was tapped for the project. His version of "Starlight Express" was issued out as a single and it got to #30 at AC.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

"(I Know) I'm Losing You" by Uptown

Song#:  2976
Date:  12/27/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  80
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Dance, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  Not a lot is known about this Dallas, Texas, group. It seems that they were originally a female vocal trio who recorded this song in 1983 with producers Scott Yahney and Jack Malken. The track was originally released on the NYC-based Silver Screen Records. The record might have floated off into obscurity if it wasn't for a popular Dallas nightclub DJ by the name of Rick Squillante. He started to spin the track and it quickly became a club favorite. As its popularity grew to other US clubs, the record got picked up by the Dallas indie label Oak Lawn. They reissued the 12" single along with an edited 45 version and it caught on well enough to make the Pop chart. The tune stayed on the chart for nearly three months, but it couldn't get any higher than 80, which wasn't a bad result for a new indie label that probably didn't have a lot of money for promotion. A follow-up single titled "I'm Gonna Love You," written and produced by Yahney, was released and credited to the duo Uptown Girls featuring Jan & Michelle. A third single, a remake of Fontella Bass' 1965 hit "Rescue Me" (#1 R&B/#4 Pop) was issued in 1988. Neither follow-up proved as popular as "I'm Losing You" and it seems the folks involved in the records went on to other things.

ReduxReview:  There is so little info on Uptown. My Billboard book says they were a female trio, but I can't find anything to support that. The original single had no vocal credits listed. My guess is that the producers used studio vocalists for the track and just credited it to Uptown. Then later when it was picked up for reissue, they either got two of the three girls to be Uptown Girls or they hired on two new ones - Jan & Michelle. Whatever the case, this certainly was a fun dance floor filler. The producers totally transformed the original's chilled, aching mid-tempo version into a furious dance track and it worked. Obviously it's not going to surpass The Temptations' original (see below), but this dance version was solid enough to make a mark of its own. I'm sure the producers were working on virtually no budget and yet it sounds damn good for an 80s indie track. I don't think it was prime for Top 40 success because it really was club oriented, but it should have done better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Temptations. Their 1966 version peaked at #1 on the R&B chart while getting to #8 at Pop. It was their fifth R&B #1 and third Pop Top 10. Besides The Temptations and Uptown, two other artists have reached the Pop chart with versions of the song. Rock band Rare Earth recorded a 10-minute version that appeared on their 1970 album Ecology. An edited single would be released and it would get to #7 Pop (#20 R&B). The following year, Rod Stewart recorded the song with his former bandmates from Faces. It appeared on Stewart's breakthrough solo album Every Picture Tells a Story. The tune was released as a single and it would get to #24 Pop.  2) In clubs, this song became known as "The Siren Song" thanks to the blaring sound at the beginning. It was like a notification or call for everyone to get to the dance floor. DJ Rick Squillante first broke the song at a popular Dallas hotspot called the Starck Club. He would go on to introduce other soon-to-be dance hits and he quickly became one of the most influential club DJs in the country. He was eventually lured into the music biz to work for the US branch of Virgin Records. He became successful enough there for the label to reward him with his own imprint, Virgin Underground. Unfortunately, the music biz changes constantly and in 1998 Squillante found himself on the layoff side of things after reorgs at Virgin. He then dropped out of the business altogether. In 2001, Squillante would commit suicide.


Saturday, December 7, 2019

"A Trick of the Night" by Bananarama

Song#:  2975
Date:  12/27/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  76
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Bananarama's third album, True Confessions, would be their best effort in the US reaching #15 and going gold thanks mainly to the #1 hit remake of "Venus." The LP's second single, "More Than Physical," did fine at Dance getting to #5, but it failed to do much at Pop (#73). Hoping to turn things around, this third single got pushed out. Unfortunately, it couldn't make any headway either and it stalled early in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. It was far less successful at Dance as well stopping at #29. It would be the last single to be released from the album.

ReduxReview:  The trio's previous singles had been along the dance-pop line so this more mid-tempo track was a change of pace. It suited them well and I liked the darker, film noir feel of the song. It was a good track, but perhaps not the best choice for a single. I'm not sure listeners who enjoyed the trio's dance floor jams were ready for a more mature sounding Bananarama. The song is certainly better than what its peak position would lead you to think, but it just wasn't going to be Top 10 bound.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For its release in the UK, this single got spruced up. Originally written and produced by Steve Jolley and Tony Swain, the tune got a bit of a makeover courtesy of a new trio of producers that helped Bananarama reach #1 with "Venus." The Stock Aitken Waterman team dressed the song up to make it more dance-oriented. Its release in the UK would be postponed until early '87 due to Bananarama's participation in a BBC reality show called In the Deep End. Each week on the show, one of its two hosts would be challenged to take on a particular task or job and try to complete it in a professional way, sometimes even competing with the pros. For the first show of its third season, host Paul Heiney was tasked with making a music video that was good enough to be shown on pop music shows and channels like MTV. Bananarama signed on to be the willing artist to let Heiney film them and "A Trick of the Night" in its new SAW remix was the song to be used. Heiney and the trio finished the video and it did indeed have the look and feel of a professional music video. However, it seemed that Bananarama didn't really like the end result and preferred their original official video for the song that was released earlier in the States.


Friday, December 6, 2019

"If I Say Yes" by Five Star

Song#:  2974
Date:  12/27/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  67
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This UK sibling group's second album, Silk & Steel, would prove to be their biggest hit at home reaching #1 and going 4x platinum thanks to five Top 10 hits. It made them major stars and in 1987 they would win the Brit Award for Best British Group. Stateside, the album didn't make much of an impression. It's first single, "Can't Wait Another Minute," would go Top 10 at R&B (#7) and Dance (#5), but it just barely missed out on the Pop Top 40 (#41). This next single didn't fare as well. It got to #13 R&B and #26 Dance while stalling in the bottom half of the Pop chart. A third single, "Are You Man Enough," only made the R&B chart at #15. The singles didn't promote the album all that well and it stopped at #80 Pop and #22 R&B. This song would be the group's last to reach the US Pop chart. It was a far cry from the success they were having at home. However, their follow-up albums failed to generate any Top 10's in the UK while in the US they could only manage three R&B Top 40 singles. Their decent from stardom was nearly as quick as their assent and after a couple of label changes and other issues, the group called it a day in 1995.

ReduxReview:  This was actually the fourth single from the album in the UK. It was a follow-up to what would end up being their biggest hit at home, the #2 "Rain or Shine." It's odd that "Rain or Shine" wasn't pushed out as a single in the US. It was a charming mid-tempo track that I think might have done better than this dance-pop track. But I guess the label thought that in the age of Madonna, this one had a better chance of catching on. Like a chunk of their singles, this is a solid, yet unremarkable, tune. It's a fun listen and has a nice hook, but it just doesn't stick around your head for long. 

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Having a major hit album in the UK gave the five Pearson siblings and their manager/dad Buster access to a lot of money. Their lifestyle nearly became as famous as their music. They bought a big mansion that housed a recording studio that they had built. They had fresh looks from top clothing designers and drove around in expensive sports cars. But kind of like what would happen to MC Hammer here in the States, their excessive spending and lack of hits led to them filing for bankruptcy and moving out of their lavish mansion near the end of the decade.  2) Five Star ended up in an infamous live British TV moment. The group was being featured in a segment of the Saturday morning magazine-style show called Going Live! They were there to promote their 1989 single "With Every Heartbeat" from their Greatest Hits album. The portion of the show that they appeared was one where fans could call in and ask a question. Somehow, a kid named Eliot Fletcher was able to get through and when the host asked if he had a question, Fletcher responded by saying "I'd like to ask Five Star why are you so fucking crap?" The call was cut off and the host continued on in a calm manner saying "thanks very much Eliot" and then asking the next caller if they had "a sensible question." The group was caught off guard and it made for a very awkward live TV moment. Flash forward to 2019 when a Twitter post that included a video of the incident started making the rounds. Five Star member Doris Pearson saw it and responded by saying she wanted to meet Fletcher. Not long after, a Twitter account that supposedly belonged to Fletcher responded by saying "Hi Doris. Thank you and sorry." Doris appreciated the tweeted apology and even invited Fletcher out for a "fucking crap night out." Fletcher declined. Although the family was stunned and taken aback at the time of the incident, Doris said she now thinks it is quite funny.