Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"American Storm" by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Song#:  2657
Date:  03/15/1986
Debut:  56
Peak:  13
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After years of putting out an album nearly every year since 1969, Seger took a bit of a break after 1982's The Distance. He remained active on the singles charts thanks to a couple of soundtrack songs including the #17 "Understanding" in 1984, but it took another couple of years before he unleashed a new studio album titled Like a Rock. This pumped up first single was issued out ahead of the album and it bolted to #2 at Rock. It also did well at Pop getting close to the Top 10. The hit would help send the album to #3 and it would become another platinum seller for Seger and his band.

ReduxReview:  It had been a while since Seger had an epic rock track on the airwaves and this anti-drug song was welcomed with open arms. The airplay at Rock along with the video certainly helped it along, but hearing a blast of Seger on the speakers was a nice change from the synthpop of the day. The band is hot and Seger wails his way through the thing with gusto. Since Bruce Springsteen's run of singles from Born in the U.S.A. was done, it was perfect timing for Seger to come along and pick up the rock 'n' roll torch. I liked the song well enough, but it has never been among my favorite Seger tracks. Apparently, it may not be among Seger's either as the hit was left off of both volumes of his Greatest Hits discs.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  With MTV growing exponentially since his last album, Seger decided to keep up with the times and film a conceptual video to help promote this song. It was his first true effort to make a video for the channel. The video consisted of Seger and his band performing the song on a stage set while scenes of what appeared to possibly be a movie were interspersed. The scenes were not taken from a real film, but it seemed like they were from a movie about drug dealers, drug users, and federal agents. To help make it seem more like an actual film, four actors whose real careers were revving up were hired for the main roles: Lesley Ann Warren, James Woods, Scott Glenn, and Randy Quaid. Warren had been nominated for an Oscar in 1982 for Best Supporting Actress in Victor/Victoria. Woods would win an Emmy and get an Oscar nod in 1987. Glenn had hits under his belt with The Right Stuff and Silverado, and Quaid had both Oscar and Emmy nominations (with a second Emmy nod coming in '87) and had established his role as Cousin Eddie in '83's National Lampoon's Vacation.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

"Take Me Home" by Phil Collins

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2656
Date:  03/15/1986
Debut:  73
Peak:  7
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Collins' album No Jacket Required scored three Top 10 hits in a row with two of them hitting #1. He then hit the top spot again in late November of '85 with "Separate Lives," a duet with Marilyn Martin that was featured on the soundtrack to the film White Nights. Then in February of '86, No Jacket Required would win the Grammy for Album of the Year with Collins winning for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, along with Producer of the Year (with Hugh Padgham). As a follow-up to the soundtrack hit and the multiple Grammy wins, Collins issued out this fourth single from his album. It would easily become his eighth Top 10 solo hit at Pop while also getting to #2 AC and #12 Rock. Helping the song along in the background are Collins' old Genesis bandmate Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Helen Terry. It would be the final single released from the album.

ReduxReview:  This rolling track became my favorite from the album. I just loved the feel of the song, the drums, the production, the melody, and Collins' performance. There's really not a lot to the song - a couple of easy chord progressions that are repeated - yet the melodies Collins wrote along with the arrangement made the song soar. I also love hearing Helen Terry's voice rise above the rest of the background singers at the end. No matter what the lyrics are meant to convey, I always get such a reflective yet hopeful feeling when I hear the song; almost like something difficult has ended and something wonderful is on the horizon. It is still one of my favorite tracks from Collins.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although only four singles were officially released from No Jacket Required, another track found its way on the Rock chart. The track "Inside Out" garnered enough airplay to reach #9 at Rock.  2) Although many folks just considered this song an ode to someone trying to find their way home, the meaning behind it was actually a bit darker. The lyrics apparently reference a person who is living in a mental institution. Collins mentioned this when he appeared on an episode of VH1's Storytellers program. The idea for the lyrics stemmed from the 1962 Ken Kesey novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. That book was adapted into a play in 1963 and later was adapted into a film in 1975. The film, which starred Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, would go on to win five Oscars including Best Picture. Its Oscar wins were all in the top 5 categories (Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay) and it is one of only three films to win the top 5 (as of this posting date).  The other two were 1934's It Happened One Night and 1991's The Silence of the Lambs.

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Monday, January 21, 2019

"Whisper in the Dark" by Dionne Warwick

Song#:  2655
Date:  03/15/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  72
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Warwick experienced the biggest hit of her career when she headed up the charity song "That's What Friends Are For." The song would spend four weeks at #1, go gold, and win a Grammy. The song also appeared on Warwick's appropriately titled Friends album that would be a #12 gold seller. Warwick would follow up her Dionne & Friends hit with this solo track from the LP. While the track would do well at AC getting to #7, Pop and R&B audiences just didn't take to the song and it stopped early on each chart (#72 Pop/#49 R&B). There would be no further singles released from the album, which would be her final one to reach gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  I've always loved this song. I thought it was well-written, sexy, and sophisticated. It was just perfect for Warwick and the production was top-notch. I knew AC would jump on board with the song but I was really hoping that Pop would make a hit out if it. Alas, it just wouldn't catch on. Maybe it was just too mature for pop radio. It's still one of my favorite tracks from Warwick.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Bruce Roberts and Edgar Bronfman, Jr. Roberts was a prominent songwriter with many hits under his belt including ones by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand. Bronfman isn't necessarily known for his songwriting. Most folks know Bronfman as a business man who had successes and tumultuous times heading up companies like Seagrams, Vivendi, and Warner Music Group. He was also famously found guilty of insider trading in a French court in 2011. He paid a hefty fine, but received a suspended sentence and did no jail time. Bronfman spent time in and out of the film and music industry throughout his career. In the 70s he began writing songs, some in collaboration with Roberts. Nothing much came from them until this composition was given to Warwick. Apparently, Bronfman had a connection with Warwick as he met his first wife Sherry via the star in the late 70s. Nearly a decade later, Bronfman would score another hit with a song he co-wrote with David Foster. Celine Dion recorded "To Love You More" in 1995 and it became a big #1 hit in Japan. Although the single would not be officially released in the US, radio stations picked it up for airplay and it would get to #1 at AC. (Due to it not being issued formally as a product, it was then not eligible for the Pop chart.) For that song, Bronfman used the alias of Junior Miles. He also used that name for "If I Didn't Love You," a song Bronfman wrote with Roberts that was recorded by Barbra Streisand for her 1999 album A Love Like Ours.

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

"A Good Heart" by Feargal Sharkey

Song#:  2654
Date:  03/15/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  74
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Sharkey first came to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish pop punk band The Undertones. The group had solid success in the UK from 1979 to 1983 issuing four albums that generated several charting singles. In the US, the band had trouble finding an audience and was unable to rise above cult status. Facing label pressures and internal struggles, the band broke up in 1983. Sharkey decided to step out on his own and pursue a solo career. He released two singles that made the UK Top 30 before working in collaboration with Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics fame) for a formal debut album. The LP saw Sharkey setting aside some of his punk roots for a more commercial friendly pop/rock sound and this first single announced the change. It was greeted with open arms in the UK where the song bolted to the #1 spot. With little name recognition in the US, the challenge to break through was more difficult and indeed the song couldn't get a leg up and stalled near the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. It would end up being Sharkey's only single to reach a US chart. Back home, his follow-up single, "You Little Thief," would be a #5 hit. Sharkey would release two more albums with varying results before leaving the spotlight for work on the business side of music.

ReduxReview:  Sharkey's debut LP was one that I bought on a whim. He had an odd name, the cover was interesting, he was produced by Dave Stewart, and although I hadn't heard it, I knew this song had topped the UK chart. To get ahead of the curve, I went ahead and purchased the album. At the time I didn't care for it all that much. I thought there were a couple of good songs including this one, but that was about it. I then set it aside and didn't think much about it until many years later when I happened to hear Maria McKee (see below) perform the song on a live album. In her dialog before playing the song she mentioned it was her biggest hit. I recognized the song immediately and then it all came together in my mind. I hadn't hooked into McKee yet when I bought Sharkey's album so I never realized she wrote this song. I became a big fan of McKee's later and that led me to this rediscovery. I then went back and listened to Sharkey's album again. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. Of course, this song is a highlight. Sadly, it was one of those that just didn't connect with US listeners. It was a major hit in many countries (even Canada took it to #4), yet folks in the US ignored it. Perhaps listeners didn't care for Sharkey's vibrato-laced warble or just didn't like the tune. Whatever it was, it's a shame it didn't get further up the chart.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was written by American singer/songwriter Maria McKee, who was having some success at the time with her band Lone Justice. Around the time the band recorded their debut album, McKee began a brief affair with Benmont Tench (keyboardist for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers). Tench was lending his skills to the album and even co-wrote a couple of tunes for it with McKee. Their short-lived relationship came to an end and McKee then decided to channel her feelings into music and wrote "A Good Heart." Eurythmics' Dave Stewart knew Tench because Stewart had produced a few tracks for Petty's Southern Accents album and that connection most likely led to "A Good Heart" getting to Feargal Sharkey. However, along with McKee's song Tench sent Sharkey a song he had written called "You Little Thief." The story goes that Tench wrote the tune about McKee in response to "A Good Heart." Smartly, Sharkey recorded both songs, put them back-to-back on his album, and then released them as consecutive singles. Both songs hit the UK Top 10 and the song/response battle between two ex's became a juicy music legend. However, many years later in the days of social media, someone brought this story back up and Tench chimed in via Twitter to debunk the story. He said that they story was a myth and that his song was never about McKee. Perhaps that is the truth, but it is certainly late in coming (and it's much more fun to believe the legend).

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

"Call Me" by Dennis DeYoung

Song#:  2653
Date:  03/15/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  54
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The former Styx member scored a Top 10 hit in 1984 with the #10 "Desert Moon," taken from his debut solo album of the same name. Although the LP wouldn't be a huge seller like his works with Styx, it did well enough to call for a follow-up. In the spring of '86, DeYoung would issue out his second solo disc, Back to the World. This first single was pushed out ahead of the album and the song would be a hit at AC reaching #5 on that chart. It crossed over to Pop, but it couldn't attract a larger audience and the song sputtered out before it could get into the upper half of the chart. Without a solid Pop hit, the album then faltered and could only manage a very minor #108 peak.

ReduxReview:  I liked this song when it came out and especially dug the sax opening. It was definitely a DeYoung composition as it wasn't too dissimilar from some of the big ballads he penned for Styx. However, that may have been the problem. It seemed a bit stuck in the late 70s and the sound lended itself to an AC crowd. What might have made this song soar was a big production by someone like David Foster. If given the same treatment as some of the songs he did with Chicago around this time, DeYoung might have had a bigger hit. As-is, it's a lovely tune and a nice addition to DeYoung's catalog.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  It was DeYoung's theatrical side that certainly played a part in the dissolving of Styx, but for his solo efforts he kept things mainly in the soft rock arena. He would later feed his theatrical side when he took on the role of Pontius Pilate in a 1993 touring version of Jesus Christ Superstar. The experience spurred him to do two other projects. First up was an album of Broadway show tunes titled 10 on Broadway. Around the same time he began to write a musical based on the Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He completed the show and in 1996 DeYoung issued out a concept album on which he and his sister-in-law performed all the parts. That same year, a production of the show debuted at the Polk Theater in Nashville. The response was positive and plans were developed to take the show to Broadway, but health issues sidelined DeYoung and progress of the show halted. In 2007, DeYoung got another production of the show up and running in his hometown of Chicago. The show would end up winning a Joseph Jefferson Award (for Chicago area theater) for best musical production.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

"Right Between the Eyes" by Wax

Spotlight Alert!

Song#:  2652
Date:  03/15/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  43
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Rock

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Pop Bits:  When the British group 10cc was working on their 1981 album Ten Out of 10, their American label (Warner Bros.) thought there needed to be a couple of tracks that would be more in tune with US listeners (aka hits for US radio). The label though that if they co-wrote some tunes with an American songwriter it might help and they offered up the services of Andrew Gold. 10cc ended up liking the idea and brought in Gold. He co-wrote two songs with the band for the album and both were issued out as singles. Sadly, neither track charted and the album quickly disappeared. However, the relationship between 10cc and Gold was solid and Gold was even asked to join the band. He ended up declining due to other commitments. It was probably a good decision because 10cc split up in 1983. Yet 10cc's Graham Gouldman remained close with Gold and the pair spent time together working on music. It wasn't long before the duo had enough tracks for an album. They issued out a single under the name World in Action, but nothing came of it. They changed their name to Common Knowledge and pushed out another single that also went nowhere. Undeterred, they recorded more tracks, signed on with RCA and issued out a debut album titled Magnetic Heaven. The LP's first two singles failed, yet this third single finally got them noticed. It picked up enough airplay to reach #39 on the Rock chart while nearly making the Pop Top 40. While it wasn't a major hit, it was enough for the label to call for a second album and they released American English in 1987. The LP and its singles tanked in the US, but in the UK the song "Bridge to Your Heart" became a hit reaching #12. A third album did nothing and that was the end of Wax.

ReduxReview:  Although the band and the song title didn't bring anything to mind, once I started to play the tune I got that "oh yeah - I remember this song!" I'm not sure where I would have heard the track, but it was familiar to me right away. I also don't know why I didn't seek out the single. This was right up my alley. Perhaps it wasn't stocked at the local record store, which did happen on occasion. This was a really nice surprise. The song is great and I love the punchy 80s Motown-via-London production. It's a shame this didn't do better. When it comes down to it, it's not all that different from some of the stuff bands like Go West or Mike + the Mechanics were doing, but it was delicious pop that was well done. I think it is worthy of being the first song from 1986 to get a Spotlight mention. I may have to dip into the Wax catalog now.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Most folks are familiar with Andrew Gold thanks to two solo hits he had in the 70s. First was 1977's #7 "Lonely Boy." Then the following year he scored with the song "Thank You for Being a Friend." Although that song would only reach #25 on the Pop chart, it would later be forever known as the theme song to the classic TV show The Golden Girls (1985-1992). Although Gold's solo career would be short-lived, he remained an in-demand session musician and occasionally wrote songs for other artists. One of his songs, "I Saw the Light," was recorded by Wynnona Judd for her debut solo album in 1992. The song would be her second single and it would reach #1 on the Country chart. Gold could also be heard singing the theme song to the hit TV show Mad About You. The song, titled "Final Frontier," was written by Don Was and Paul Reiser and Gold's vocal version was used during the show's first five season.  2) Gold's mother was a famous singer who wasn't really famous during a good chunk of her career. Marni Nixon was a singer/performer who did ghost work supplying the singing voice to famous actresses in many big films. Her most famous dubs were supplying the vocals for Natalie Wood in West Side Story and for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Most of the time Nixon would not receive credit for her work as the studios didn't want audiences to know the actresses didn't sing the songs. The ruse would come out later and despite having an extensive singing and acting career (winning four local Emmys and nominated for two Grammys), her biggest claim to fame would be as the ghost singer for some of Hollywood's biggest leading ladies.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

"I Do What I Do... (Theme for 9 1/2 Weeks)" by John Taylor

Song#:  2651
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  73
Peak:  23
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Around the time Michael Des Barres took over lead vocal duties for the Duran Duran off-shoot band Power Station (replacing Robert Palmer), he was asked to supply a song for the upcoming erotic drama film 9 1/2 Weeks. With his bandmate John Taylor (Duran Duran and Power Station's bassist) and the film's score composer Jonathan Elias, Des Barres came up with this theme song. Taylor then took the song and got it recorded for the film. It was then issued out as the first single from the soundtrack album. Interest was high in the single thanks to the movie and the fact that this was the first solo effort put out by a member of Duran Duran. The song was able to crack the Pop Top 30, but stalled soon after. The album was not a major success but did reach #59. Afterwards, John Taylor would join back up with Duran Duran. He wouldn't issue out another solo effort until 1997 with the album Feelings Are Good And Other Lies.

ReduxReview:  I had totally forgotten about this song. I didn't even recognize the title, but when the opening chorus started, it came back to mind. It really must have been the power of Duran Duran that made a minor hit out of this. Other than the hooky chorus line, there is not much of anything going on with this song. It doesn't help that Taylor is not a good lead vocalist. He kind of talk/sings through what I assume are verses. And then there is the weird break section. Other than being an oddity in the Duran Duran family catalog, the song doesn't offer much.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Apparently, Taylor was not supposed to sing this song. It was originally offered to Canadian singer/songwriter Dalbello (aka Lisa dal Bello). She ended up passing on the song and with little time to secure another vocalist, Taylor was basically coerced into singing the song. Some folks were not all that kind to Taylor's performance or even the song itself. It ended up being nominated for a Golden Raspberry award for Worst Song. However, Taylor's Duran Duran connection gave the song a boost and it ended up being a middling hit.  2) Although Dalbello bailed on lead vocals for this song (she did provide backing vocals), she did record one of her own compositions for the soundtrack titled "Black on Black." That song would be picked up in 1993 by Heart and altered by Ann and Nancy Wilson to become "Black on Black II." As a teenager, Lisa dal Bello recorded three pop-oriented albums with her 1977 self-titled debut earning hear a Juno award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. By 1982, she retreated from music and pursued other ventures, yet she was lured back to recording by famed David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson. The pair came up with her rock-oriented fourth album, 1984's whomanfoursays. The LP was well-received and one tune from it, "Wait for an Answer," would be picked up and recorded by Heart for their 1987 album Bad Animals. She would record two more albums before leaving the spotlight to work in other mediums like television and film.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"Bad Boy" by Miami Sound Machine

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2650
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  76
Peak:  8
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  This Gloria Estefan-led Latin-pop band broke through to the masses with the infectious #10 hit "Conga." It was from their second English-language album, Primitive Love. Next up for release was this second single. The straight-ahead pop tune was a fit for both Pop and AC radio and the song made it to #8 on both charts. It also got to #10 at Dance. The crossover action helped the single sell extra copies and it ended up being the band's second consecutive gold record.

ReduxReview:  I think the remix helped to sell this song (see below). The sound is crisper, the skittery original opening is ditched, the horns are more emphasized throughout, and the song had more of a dance feel to it. The embellishments made it perfect for Pop radio. At the time I wasn't a big fan of the song and kind of ignored it, but I appreciate its Motown-ish feel much better now. However, it still wouldn't rank high on my list of favorite Gloria Estefan songs.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This tune got a bit of a makeover for its single release. Producer/remixer Shep Pettibone was hired to spruce up the ditty and he came up with a remix that would be issued out instead of the original version found on the Primitive Love album. The fresh take on the tune was a winner and it handed Miami Sound Machine a second Top 10 hit. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Pettibone was a sought after remixer and did work for many of the top artists of those decades. He did no less than fifteen remixes for hits from Madonna along with several for Pet Shop Boys, Janet Jackson, David Bowie, Whitney Houston, and many others. His tenure with Madonna certainly pushed his name into the limelight and along the way he would also co-write and co-produced a few of Madonna's songs including one of her biggest hits, 1990's #1 "Vogue."

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

"If You Leave" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2649
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  4
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Synthpop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  After OMD broke through in the US with their more pop-oriented album Crush, featuring the #26 Pop entry "So in Love," film director John Hughes asked the band to supply a song for an upcoming feature that he was writing and producing titled Pretty in Pink. After some last minute changes (see below), the band came up with this track that would play during the last scene of the film. Hughes was known at the time for developing song soundtracks to his films featuring edgy, new artists and Pretty in Pink would be another timely compilation that featured artists like INXS, Psychedelic Furs, Suzanne Vega, New Order, The Smiths, and Echo & the Bunnymen. OMD's track would be the first single issued out from the soundtrack album. Thanks to the film being a hit, the track took off and ended up reaching the Pop Top 10. It also got to #24 at AC. The hit would help the soundtrack album reach #5 and go gold. It would end up being OMD's biggest hit in the US.

ReduxReview:  The band was fortunate enough to get a second chance to supply a song (see below) because the original tune was not hit material. The new track ended up working out very well for the band, the movie, and the soundtrack. It was serendipitous. I like this song, but it's not without its annoyances; mainly that syncopated synth part. It starts in the second verse in the background and during a break before the last section it comes to the forefront. It just makes me anxious and jittery. I mean, they couldn't come up with something else to fill that section? It's also weird that the title of the song is not in the chorus. Luckily, the tune was hooky enough that it didn't matter. I still like the tune, but it's not a big favorite.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  When OMD was first approached to write a song, they came up with one titled "Goddess of Love." It was used over the closing scene for the original ending of the film. However, test audiences disliked the movie's ending and that prompted a change. The final scene was rewritten, but then Hughes realized that OMD's song didn't fit the new ending. The band was asked to quickly write a new song for the scene. Within a short two days, they wrote and did a rough version of "If You Leave." Hughes loved the track and the new tune was finished off and used. It would become OMD's biggest US hit. "Goddess of Love" wasn't left on the shelf. OMD would include it on their next LP, The Pacific Age. It would not be one of the album's singles.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

"Feel It Again" by Honeymoon Suite

Song#:  2648
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  34
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The Canadian band's debut single, "New Girl Now," was a #7 hit on the US Rock chart and it did well enough to reach #57 at Pop. Subsequent singles didn't chart at Pop, but their associated self-titled album tallied enough sales to reach #60. With a foundation built, the band set out to record a follow-up with their new producer Bruce Fairbairn. The subsequent LP, The Big Prize, was issued out along with this first single. Again, the band did well at Rock with the song reaching #8. The crossover action was much better this time and the single got near the Pop Top 30 before retreating. It would end up being their biggest hit in the US. The album was a hit in Canada and it earned them a Juno award for Group of the Year while The Big Prize was nominated for Album of the Year.

ReduxReview:  Taking cues from bands like Foreigner, Honeymoon Suite perfected their commercial arena rock sound with this track. The verse is solid and it builds well to an explosive, hooky chorus. Of course, the production is top notch and certainly helped the song along. The tune had muscle, but it didn't overwhelm its pop radio viability. It really should have done better than just the Top 40.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Of course the success of the album had mainly to do with the band's songs and performances, but some also cite the production/engineering as a highlight. It was produced by Bruce Fairbairn who was having solid success with fellow Canadians Loverboy. On board as engineer was Bob Rock. Their work was noticed by many including members of a US band that was still attempting to break through. Bon Jovi had two albums under their belt with a few charting songs, but they needed far better results in order to keep their label happy and to alleviate some financial issues. While getting ready to record their third album, Jon Bon Jovi happened to hear Honeymoon Suite's album and loved the sound that Fairbairn and Rock had created. The band decided to bring the team on board and they all worked together to create what would be the mega-hit LP Slippery When Wet. Bob Rock's work would later attract another major band. Metallica hired him on to produce their 1991 self-titled album (also known as "The Black Album"). It would go on to be a 16-million selling #1 LP.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

"Great Gosh A'Mighty! (It's a Matter of Time)" by Little Richard

Song#:  2647
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  42
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B, Rock 'n' Roll, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Rock 'n' roll pioneer and legend Richard Penniman, aka Little Richard, first became a star following the release of his 1955 classic "Tutti Frutti" (#2 R&B/#21 Pop). A string of hits would follow throughout the 50s including "Long Tall Sally" (1956, #1 R&B/#13 Pop), "Lucille" (1957, #1 R&B/#27 Pop), and "Good Golly, Miss Molly" (1958, #4 R&B, #10 Pop). In all, Little Richard would score fourteen R&B Top 10's including three #1's. But as the 60s approached, the hits dried up and he turned to gospel music. A 1962 European tour brought him back around to rock music and his popularity soared overseas. At home his career floundered, but around 1968 he got back on track thanks to appearances on TV and at some major music festivals. It culminated in his 1970 album The Rill Thing, which featured the minor hit "Freedom Blues" (#28 R&B/#47 Pop). The remainder of the 70s was up-n-down for Richard and by the end of the decade he once again left behind rock for gospel. Then in 1985, he was offered a role in the upcoming Paul Mazursky comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills, which was to star Nick Nolte, Bette Midler, and Richard Dreyfuss. Richard accepted the role and then also wrote this faith-based theme song for the film with Billy Preston. The film would be a big hit and the theme song would be issued out as a single. While the song would not reach the R&B chart, it did become his first solo entry on the Pop chart since 1970. The song stopped just short of making the Top 40. While not a huge hit, the song and his appearance in the film revived his career and he has remained a popular musician and entertainment personality since then. Little Richard was among those chosen to be the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it first opened in 1986.

ReduxReview:  Every now and then an old school rock 'n' roll tune catches folk's attention and Little Richard was able to grab some listeners with this track. It probably helped quite a bit that it was featured in a hit film and that Richard got some great notices for his performance in it. The lyrics are very, very vaguely religious and probably most people didn't pick up on that as they were concentrating on Richard just rockin' out. It is definitely a throwback to what Richard always did best and he demonstrated that he could still easily do it thirty-one years after his first hit.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Two future music stars were once members of Little Richard's band. Billy Preston became a band member in 1962. He wouldn't stay for long, but the two remained friends and occasionally worked together, as they did co-writing this song. Preston would score five Pop Top 10 hits in the 70s including two #1's. He was also well associated with The Beatles, whom he met when the new band opened a few dates for Little Richard's European tour in 1963. In 1964, guitarist Jimi Hendrix joined Richard's band. It was a tumultuous relationship and after about 6 months, Hendrix left the band (or by some accounts was fired). Hendrix would later be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his band in 1992.  2) Down and Out in Beverly Hills is basically an American remake of a 1932 Jean Renoir French film titled Boudu sauvé des eaux (or translated Boudu Saved from Drowning), which itself was adapted from a 1919 play by the same title. It was the first film from a Disney studio (Touchstone) to receive an R rating. It was Bette Midler's first hit after her Oscar nominated role in 1979's The Rose. She would spend the remainder of the decade doing five more successful films for Disney/Touchstone including the popular 1988 weepie Beaches, which spawned a hugely successful soundtrack thanks to Midler's #1 hit "Wind Beneath My Wings."

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

"I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2646
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  3
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  Valerie Day and John Smith were teenagers when they happened to meet at a Portland, Oregon, area commune in 1975. A love of music connected them and they eventually started to hone their skills in clubs. At the time their focus was on Latin jazz, but then before the turn of the decade they formed a four-piece band whose focus was more soul oriented. As the band grew in size (to at least nine members), so did their popularity around Portland. They recorded and released an indie soul/jazz album titled Can't Turn It Off, which didn't do much to advance the band's career. After that, the band trimmed down in size and Smith began to work on new material for an EP titled Tha's Right. A local radio station began to play "I Can't Wait" from the EP and soon the track was in the station's Top 10. Yet despite the local success, no major labels were interest in the band. Then they got a lucky break. A Dutch DJ happened upon the track and he decided to do a remix. It started to get attention and soon the import vinyl of the remix became popular in the US. This finally prompted Atlantic Records to sign Nu Shooz. The label issued out the new version of the song, known as the Dutch Mix, and it quickly headed to #1 at Dance. The song then slowly gained momentum at Pop and it finally peaked at #3. It also made it to #2 at R&B and #38 AC. The crossover hit eventually went gold as did their associated Atlantic debut album Poolside (#27). It did well enough to earn the band a Grammy nod for Best New Artist.

ReduxReview:  The band's original version of this song was quite solid on its own, but the remix took it to a whole other level. It modernized the tune for the 80s and gave it hooks galore. Given the chance, there was no way this song was gonna miss. I remember back in the day all it took was that opening riff and folks ran for the dance floor. It's a great jam and no 80s playlist should be without it. The big joke around our house is that if anyone mentions they need new shoes, someone immediately goes "ba-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum, ba-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum." An everlasting gem from the decade.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The DJ who came up with the remix for the song was Peter Slaghuis. He felt that the track really needed a hook of some kind and used a sampler on Valerie Day's voice to create the stuttering effect. Slaghuis did many remixes, but this one remained his most famous. In 1984, Slaghuis had his own unusual hit. He along with singer Bianca Bonelli formed the Euro disco duo VideoKids. Their song "Woodpeckers from Space" would be a left-field hit in Europe that got to #1 in Spain and Norway. It would have been a major hit for them in South Africa, but due to the political issues of the country they refused to let the single be released there. A producer named Costa Anadiotis jumped at the chance to do the song and got his studio group Café Society to record a cover version. It would end up topping the South African music chart for eight weeks.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

"Shelter Me" by Joe Cocker

Song#:  2645
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  91
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The career-reviving #1 duet "Up Where We Belong" with Jennifer Warnes provided Joe Cocker with an opportunity to re-establish himself as a viable solo artist. Unfortunately, his first album after the hit, Civilized Man, failed to generate a single chart entry and the album quickly disappeared.  Undeterred, Cocker went back into the studio to record a follow-up. The album, simply titled Cocker, would be a mix of originals and remakes helped along by five different producers. The song selected to be the first single was this more rock-oriented track and indeed it would do well at Rock reaching #11. It was his first entry on that chart. Despite doing well there, the song just couldn't make any inroads at Pop and it fell off the chart after a month. However, the action at Rock helped the album sell much better than his previous effort and it ended up getting to #50.

ReduxReview:  This track has Cocker outfitted in a full-on 80s rock production and it kind of works. There's not a lot to this song. Both the verse and chorus have minimal melodies and chords so it's the kind of tune that needs to be committed to and sold by the band, the production, and the vocalist. I think all parties involved do the job very well, yet it's a song that just doesn't have the right stuff to make it as pop hit. That was the problem Cocker was having at the time. After the AC balladry of "Up Where We Belong," he seemed to be having a hard time trying to decide which audience to play to. Should he keep along the AC lines? Should he go back to his blues-rock? Should he do more modern 80s pop? He ended up doing a mishmash of them and in doing so kind of lost his audience. "Shelter Me" was a good stab and 80s rock, but it wasn't going to endear him to the masses. Actually, the best parts of the song are the guitar and sax solos on the album version. Those are worth tuning in for.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Also included on the Cocker album was a song that would become quite famous even though it would not be a hit single. For the LP, Cocker chose to record the Randy Newman-penned tune "You Can Leave Your Hat On." Newman originally wrote and recorded the song for his third album, 1972's Sail Away, which was his first to reach the album chart (#163). It was not issued out as a single, but the song would be picked up and recorded by a few artists including Etta James and Three Dog Night. After Cocker recorded his version, it was decided that the track was perfect for a scene in a film. Director Adrian Lyne used the tune for the famous striptease scene in his erotic drama 9 1/2 Weeks, which starred Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. The movie was a box office dud when released in 1986, but it gained a cult following later on home video. It was a hit in other countries and in the end made over $100 million worldwide. Cocker's song was released as a single, but it failed to hit the Pop chart in the US. It did get to #35 at Rock. In countries where the film was a hit, the song fared much better on the charts. Although the song was not a hit in the US for Cocker, it did become one of his most recognizable and popular tracks thanks to the movie.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

"I Engineer" by Animotion

Song#:  2644
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  76
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Animotion's 1984 self-titled debut album was a success thanks to two Pop Top 40 hits including the #6 "Obsession." After a couple of personnel changes, the band retreated back to the studio to record their follow-up. All the songs for the LP were co-written by at least one band member except for this first single, which was written by hitmakers Holly Knight, Mike Chapman, and Bernie Taupin. Despite the pedigree, the song just wasn't clicking with listeners and it ended up falling far short of expectations peaking in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. It did slightly better at Dance getting to #27. The results were a big disappointment on their home turf. However, the news was much better overseas where the song became a hit in several European countries like Germany where the single reached #2. The lack of a bigger hit single in the US caused the album to not sell well and it stopped at a low #71.

ReduxReview:  This song should have worked. It had a cool title, top-notch songwriters, and excellent production from Richie Zito. The chorus wasn't too bad either. Yet for some reason it was unable to capture people's attention. It's definitely not the most fantastic song, but I think it should have done better. My guess is that the band's label didn't hear a hit among the tracks the band wrote and pushed them to record a song by established writers, much in the same way they did on the first album ("Obsession" was by Holly Knight and Micheal Des Barres). Since a Holly Knight tune worked the first time, why not try it again? It didn't work out, but it is kind of an interesting "lost" 80s track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was film at the abandoned Royal Herbert Hospital in Blackheath, England. The military hospital opened in 1865 and was meant to promote better health care, something which lacked at the time and was brought to the forefront by Crimean War legend Florence Nightengale. In fact, it was Nightengale's nephew by marriage who designed the hospital with input from Nightengale herself. At the time it was considered one of the best hospitals in the world. The building remained active throughout both World Wars and later also became a teaching facility. However, by 1977 the military decided to close the hospital since they had little use for the huge building and the upkeep was becoming ramshackle and too costly. Demolition seemed to be its destiny, but it ended up being part of an historical conservation area and the building was spared from the wrecking ball. While still abandoned, Animotion filmed their video there. Not too long after, Kate Bush filmed parts of the video to her 1986 song "Experiment IV" in the hospital. Two future TV stars, Dawn French and Hugh Laurie, appeared in that video. The hospital was sold to a developer in 1990 who turned the hospital into a luxury condo community that was named the Royal Herbert Pavilions.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

"So Far Away" by Dire Straits

Song#:  2643
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut:  66
Peak:  19
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  After two Pop Top 10 hits including the #1 "Money for Nothing," Dire Straits issued out this third single from their #1 album Brothers in Arms. Although it was the third track released in the US, it was the first single pushed out in the band's UK homeland. It did fine reaching #20. Oddly, it nearly matched that peak on the US Pop chart. It did much better at AC where the song got to #3. It also made it to #29 at Rock. The tune would end up being the band's last one to reach the US Pop chart. The unexpected massive success of the album and the associated tour took a toll on the band and by September of '88, leader Mark Knopfler announced the end of Dire Straits. However, Knopfler resurrected the band three years later and they recorded their sixth studio album On Every Street. It wasn't nearly as successful as Brothers in Arms only selling platinum and reaching #12. None of the LP's singles hit the US Pop chart, but three tracks from the album reached the Top 10 of the US Rock chart including the #1 "Heavy Fuel." After a nearly two-year worldwide tour, Knopfler and the band were stressed and worn out. Not wanting to go through it again, the band broke up for the final time.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo album opener was a snoozer for me. It just drones along mainly on three chords and a nap. I have no idea why they chose this as the opening track on the LP when the exciting opening of "Money for Nothing" would have been so much better. This is like one of those mediocre filler songs that you put near the end of the album. There is just not a lot going on here and it fails to keep me interested. It is musical melatonin.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Following the success of Brothers in Arms, Knopfler decided he wanted to do a little side project with a few of his friends. They got together in '86 and began playing some classic country and blues tunes. They recorded some of these in the studio along with a couple of originals. The tracks were all recorded in a studio in the Notting Hill section of West London, so the band took on the name The Notting Hillbillies. The band then decided to take their act on the road and did a small tour of the UK. However, their recordings didn't get released until 1990 when the album Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time was finally issued. It did well around Europe including in the UK where it got to #2. In the US, the album would reach #52 and the track "Your Own Sweet Way" got to #30 on the Rock chart. It would be their only album. The band would reunite on occasion for little tours and one-off shows including being the musical guest on a 1990 episode of Saturday Night Live.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

"West End Girls" by Pet Shop Boys

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2642
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut: 71
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance



Pop Bits:  The two people who make up the duo Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, first met in a London electronics store. The pair shared an interest in dance music and it wasn't long before they were working on their own material. Both were fans of American dance music producer/artist Bobby Orlando (aka Bobby O) and when Tennant got an opportunity to travel to New York, he sought out Orlando. Orlando listened to the duo's demos and decided to work with them. He produced several songs including one titled "West End Girls." It was pushed out to clubs in various cities and it ended up being local club hit in L.A. and San Francisco. Two more songs were released, but nothing much came of them. The duo then parted ways with Orlando and signed on with Parlophone Records. They connected with producer Stephen Hague and re-recorded "West End Girls." Released in October of '85 in the UK, the song started slow but eventually it would take off and reach #1. The hit then crossed the pond and followed suit hitting #1 at both Pop and Dance. It also got to #26 AC, #36 R&B, and #37 Rock. The duo then quickly got their debut album, Please, recorded and pushed out. It would be a #7 platinum hit in the US.

ReduxReview:  This track was certainly unusual back in the day. Initially, I'm not sure what people knew what to make of Tennant rapping/singing Euro-centric lyrics in his British accent over slick dance beats and sophisti-pop synths. Yet there was something totally alluring about the track and it just became irresistible. Hague knew exactly what to do with this song and his production was key in making this a hit. Because this song was so unusual, it could have easily made Pet Shop Boys one-hit wonders, but luckily they had solid material to follow it up and they would return to the Top 10 four more times. By the time their second album arrived, I knew I'd be a life-long fan.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Initially, the duo called themselves West End. They would later change that to Pet Shop Boys. The name stems from some friends who worked in a pet shop, hence they were the pet shop boys. The duo liked the name because it sounded like an English rap group. 2) Bobby Orlando was one of the most prolific producers of dance music in the late 70s and 80s. He had his own label, "O" Records, which allowed him to write, produce, and release hundreds of dance tracks. Orlando was one of the first producers whose music was being associated with the Hi-NRG genre. Since his music was more club oriented, Orlando didn't have any big mainstream hits. However, he did have quite a few that did well on the Dance chart. He developed a female vocal trio with a revolving lineup called The Flirts and seven of their Orlando-written/produced tracks hit the US Dance chart including the 1985 #1 "You & Me." Orlando was also known for his work with infamous drag queen/film star Divine, which included the club hits "Native Love (Step By Step)" and "Shoot Your Shot." Orlando also grabbed for the spotlight himself and under the moniker Bobby O, he hit the Dance chart three times with 1982's "She Has a Way" doing the best getting to #10. After a decade of recording tracks, Orlando closed up "O" Records and left the music industry. Apparently, he went to law school and wrote an anti-evolution theory book in 1987 titled Darwin Destroyed. Later in the 90s, he briefly started a new label titled Reputation Records and since 2010 he has recorded several albums as Bobby O on his Bobco Music Inc. label.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

"For America" by Jackson Browne

Song#:  2641
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut:  72
Peak:  30
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  While some of Browne's previous songs had touched on political or social issues, it wasn't until his eighth studio album, Lives in the Balance, that his tunes were more direct in commenting on the political landscape of the day, specifically Reagan-era meddling in countries south of the US border. This first single certainly gave a taste as to what the album had to offer. The anti-war track was welcomed at Rock where it ended up peaking at #3. However, Browne's politico-rock wasn't as embraced at Pop radio and it would only manage to make the Top 30. It also got to #31 at AC. While the album and its themes may have turned some listeners away, others seemed to appreciate Browne's world view and bought the album. The mixed reaction had the new LP only peaking at #23, which was his lowest result since 1973. After a string of platinum sellers, the album could only manage gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  I'm not a big fan of Browne and political songs are not necessarily my thing, yet I kind of like this rockin' tune. I also dig Browne's beefier, modern production. It sounds really good. The drawback here for pop radio is that there is no real hook. The individual sections of the song are well done, but there isn't a bold chorus to keep it in your memory after it has played on the radio. Yet I still like to tune and I don't find its message too over the top.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  While this album found Browne becoming more forward in his world views, he had been an outspoken activist for many years. He has performed concerts for various organizations (Farm Aid, Amnesty International, etc.) and has spent a lot of time promoting and doing work for environmental causes. Because of these efforts, Browne began receiving various awards for his humanitarian and charitable work. His most recent one (as of this posting date) was the 2018 Gandhi Peace Award. Given to individuals who promote worldwide peace and goodwill, the award (along with a cash prize) has been given out annually since 1960. The first recipient was Eleanor Roosevelt. Other notables to have received the award are Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Ralph Nader. Browne is the first artist/entertainer to receive the award.

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

"Heart's on Fire" by John Cafferty

Song#:  2640
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  76
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The soundtrack to Sylvester Stallone's Rocky IV had three hits still in the Pop Top 40 when this fourth track from the album was issued out. Survivor's "Burning Heart" and James Brown's "Living in America" were already Top 10'ers (#2 and #4, respectively) and Robert Tepper's "No Easy Way Out" was on its way to #22. Hopes were high that this song would join those three in the upper reaches of the Pop chart. Unfortunately, it couldn't gain an audience and the tune dropped off the chart after a short month and a half. Oddly, the track didn't make it on to the Rock chart where Cafferty and his Beaver Brown Band had previously scored four Top 10 hits. Although performed by Cafferty and his band, the song was credited as a Cafferty solo song.

ReduxReview:  I imagine the reason this ended up a solo Cafferty credit instead of with his band is because it sounds nothing like the heartland retro-rock they had been pushing out the previous few years. This was a pumped up 80s rock number with screaming synths, big production, and an arena-ready hook. I thought it was a pretty good track, but it may have been just a bit over the top for pop radio. At least it worked well in the film being played over a training session.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Vince DiCola, Joe Esposito, and Ed Frugé, and was produced by DiCola and Frugé. DiCola got involved with the Stallone family when he was chosen to co-write songs with Frank Stallone for the soundtrack to the Sylvester Stallone-directed Staying Alive. One of the tracks from the album, "Far From Over," which was co-written by DiCola and Frank Stallone, would be a #10 hit for Stallone in 1983. DiCola would get a Grammy nomination for his work on the score and a Golden Globe nomination for the song. DiCola then went on to co-write a couple of songs and compose the instrumental score to Rocky IV. This time around he would win an award, but probably not one he wanted. He received a Golden Raspberry award for Worst Musical Score for Rocky IV.

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Saturday, January 5, 2019

"I Found Someone" by Laura Branigan

Song#:  2639
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  90
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Branigan's fourth album, Hold Me, wasn't being fully embraced. It's first single, "Spanish Eddie," stalled at a low #40 while a follow-up couldn't even crack the top half of the Pop chart. Her label then decided to push out this third single, which was co-written by soon-to-be mega star Michael Bolton. Branigan previously had good luck with another Bolton-penned track, the #12 "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," so hopes were high that this tune would help turn things around. Sadly, it did not. It waffled around the bottom of the Pop chart for a few weeks and then disappeared. It got a little attention at AC getting to #25, but it wasn't enough. Hold Me would be Branigan's lowest peaking album to-date (#71) and it would be her first to not reach gold-level sales.

ReduxReview:  Well, Cher was certainly lucky that this didn't become a hit for Branigan (see below). Although I don't think this song had a shot to begin with for Branigan. You can hear a potential hit with the material and Branigan sounds pretty good, but it just lacked when it came to the arrangement and production. It's a power ballad and it needed some real muscle to sell it. I think had it been done in a more rocked up arrangement, Branigan would have sold it even better and it might have had a chance. As-is, it was just a good album track. In fact, it didn't leave much of an impression on me because when Cher's version came out, I had totally forgotten about Branigan's version. There's just no comparison. Bolton's production combined with Cher's delivery really made the song a hit. Plus it helped that Cher was extra hot at the time and her return to music was a really big deal. I like Branigan's take, but Cher really knocked it out of the park..

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  As mentioned above, this song was co-written by Michael Bolton along with Mark Mangold. By this point in time, Bolton had released four rock-oriented solo albums in addition to two with his band Blackjack. Nothing much came from any of them. However, he was having some success as a songwriter. While this particular one wasn't a hit for Branigan, it would be picked up a year later by Cher, who was recording her first album in five years and her first after becoming a film star. Bolton also produced Cher's version, which got issued out as the LP's first single. It became Cher's first Top 10 (#10) hit since 1979. After becoming a successful solo artist himself, Bolton recorded his own version of the song for his 1995 hits collection Greatest Hits (1985-1985).

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Friday, January 4, 2019

"Twist My Arm" by The Pointer Sisters

Song#:  2638
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  83
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  The Sisters' Contact album was not shaping up to be as big of a hit as their previous one, the multi-platinum Break Out. With the lead single "Dare Me" missing the Top 10 (#11 Pop) and a second single not even cracking the Top 40, there was little to help promote the LP. It would eventually go platinum, but that was a third of what Break Out did. They tried to light another fire with this third single, but it just didn't catch. The song couldn't get out of the basement at Pop while only reaching #61 R&B. It saw some better action at Dance where it got to #15, but it wasn't enough to help it elsewhere and that closed the book on Contact.

ReduxReview:  This album opener had some good energy and the standard solid production from Richard Perry, but the song wasn't all that strong. It had various hooks throughout yet when pushed together they didn't add up to much. And the "woo-woo-woo" part quickly became grating and annoying. Contact just didn't have the same quality of songs as Break Out and the results proved that.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Andy Goldmark and Bruce Roberts. Roberts had written songs for several artists including two major disco hits by Barbra Streisand in 1979 - her #3 movie theme "The Main Event/Fight" and her #1 duet with Donna Summer "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)." Long before that pair of hits, Roberts wrote songs for and produced an album by young teenage star Danny Bonaduce. Bonaduce was on the hit TV show The Partridge Family and after the "family" began to have hit songs and albums, someone thought it was a good idea to have Bonaduce do a solo LP. His 1973 self-titled debut album went nowhere and that ended his music career. Many years later, Bonaduce was asked about the album and he stated that he barely sang on it and that Bruce Roberts had pretty much done all the vocals. In the interview, Bonaduce said that the album "should have been called Danny Vanilli" (a reference to the infamous Milli Vanilli lip syncing scandal).

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

"Now and Forever (You and Me)" by Anne Murray

Song#:  2637
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  92
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Country Crossover, Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The last time Murray had a significant hit on the Pop chart was with her late 1979 remake of "Daydream Believer" (#12 Pop/#1 AC, #3 Country). Since that time she had been itching to turn more towards pop like some of her contemporaries (Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, etc.), but it seemed she just couldn't get her label and her producer (Jim Ed Norton) to get on board. While a few of her songs along the way had a more contemporary feel, she still remained grounded in country and scored twelve more Country Top 10's including five #1's. None of them were hits at Pop and as time moved forward, pop radio showed little interest in Murray's music. Then finally for her 22nd studio album, Murray got her chance to make a pop album. On board for the experiment were producers David Foster, Jack White (Laura Branigan), and Keith Diamond (Billy Ocean). The end result was Something to Talk About and to kick things off this first single was issued out. Although it was definitely a pop song, Country still embraced the tune and it became Murray's tenth #1 on that chart. AC was also on board taking the song to #7. There were high hopes that pop radio would play the single and that a younger audience would latch on to it. Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be. The song got locked in the basement of the Pop chart for a month and a half before disappearing. An even more synth poppy second single, "Who's Leaving Who," didn't get much support from anyone and it stopped at #62 Country/#26 AC. The album would make it to #2 at Country (#68 Pop) and go gold, but it just seemed that pop radio and its audience had no interest in Murray as a glammed-up synthpop diva. This song would actually end up being Murray's final one to reach the Pop chart. It was also her last #1 at Country. She would go on to have four more Country Top 10's, but by the early 90s, she was no longer hitting the chart.

ReduxReview:  This falls in the category of "too little, too late." Country music was going through an identity crisis during this time period and sales were on the decline. Coupled with that, the golden age of country crossover hits was over. Even superstar acts were having trouble securing crossover hits. So for Murray to try and become a pop star at this time was not a great idea. Had she made the switch six years earlier after "Daydream Believer," it might have worked. But in '86, no one wanted a synthpop Anne Murray. However, that doesn't mean that the actual songs on the album were bad. This was a solid tune co-written by David Foster, Randy Goodrum, and Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams) that had a nice 80s production by Foster. Unfortunately, I think it was just too AC-leaning to capture the pop audience she wanted. And it's still Anne Murray! She could front a Metallica song and her soothing croon and bedazzled pant suit would still tame it into a bizarre country/AC/metal track! She just wasn't meant to be a cool, hip, pop diva. "Who's Leaving Who" was certainly something that fell into Laura Branigan territory, but it wasn't going to get a shot at pop after the first single failed (which is too bad as I've always like the song, even though it needed a stronger production). It was a valiant effort from Murray, but the timing of it all was just wrong.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The name of the album came from a song that Murray wanted to record, but ultimately never did. "Something to Talk About," written by Shirley Eikhard, would get a big second lease on life five years later when Bonnie Raitt picked it up for her Grammy-winning album Luck of the Draw. It was the first single from the album and it became Raitt's first and only Pop Top 10 hit reaching #5. The song would be nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year while Raitt would win a Grammy for her performance of the song (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance).  2) While Murray's career cooled in the 90s, it didn't mean she still couldn't sell albums. In 1999, she recorded an album of contemporary Christian songs titled What a Wonderful World. It would be a surprise hit reaching #1 at CC, #4 Country, and #38 Pop. It would also become her third career platinum album. In 2002, she recorded an collection of classic country songs called Country Croonin'. It would be a gold-seller that got to #13 on the Country chart.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

"Where Are You Now?" by Synch

Song#:  2636
Date:  03/01/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  77
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  This Pennsylvania band formed in the mid-80s with Lou Butwin handling most of the lead vocal duties. However, the band's drummer, Jimmy Harnen, offered up this song that he had co-written with a friend and when they went to a local studio to record the demo, Harnen did the lead vocal. The demo ended up getting the attention of a local radio station who began to spin the track. Request to hear the song kept coming in and soon the band had to get a single pressed to offer for sale. After the single sold a few thousand copies, the major labels came knocking. The band ended up in a deal with Columbia and a debut album, ...Get the Feelin', was issued out. It included a newly recorded version of this song, which served as the LP's first single. Hopes were high for a big hit, but the song ended up falling short of expectations staying in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. With little to show for their investment, Columbia let the band go. The band tried to keep going, but eventually just split up. Normally, this would be the end of the story, but for this song it wasn't. It would return to the airwaves later in 1989 and become a left-field hit.

ReduxReview:  I typically don't mind a small dose of schlock like this song once in a while. I used to write stuff like this - big pop ballads with saccharine lyrics that gets everyone doe-eyed. I probably got a dozen or more tunes that could sit comfortably next to this one. In the late 80s, forgotten songs were all of a sudden getting rediscovered and practically forced into being hits and this was one of them. While there were songs that were far more worthy of being dug up, this one wasn't too bad. It's actually quite perfect for sentimental teenagers and reminiscing middle-aged adults. In fact, if you look at the comments for the video above, the words "prom" and "high school dance" are often used. It makes sense. I barely remember the song so it obviously didn't make an impression on me. I guess I'm just picky about my schlock.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After his days in the music spotlight waned, Jimmy Harnen went on to have a career behind the scenes working as a promoter for labels like DreamWorks and Capitol. He then became a big wig at Big Machine Records, the home of Taylor Swift. He was hired in by BMR's founder Scott Borchetta, who some folks may remember from his appearances on American Idol as a senior mentor. The winners of the last two season of the original run of American Idol were signed to BMR (Nick Fradiani and Trent Harmon). Harnen helped sign and break major BMR acts like The Band Perry and Florida Georgia Line.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

"Kiss" by Prince & the Revolution

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2635
Date:  02/22/1986
Debut:  52
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Funk, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  After the success of Purple Rain, Prince was bitten by the film bug and decided to do another project. For his second venture, he chose to do a rom-com with a 1930's feel. Under the Cherry Moon had Prince and Jerome Benton (of The Time) as cousins who were scamming rich women and living the high life on the French Riviera. All was fun until Prince falls in love with one of their targets. Of course, the film would contain music and that translated into a sort-of soundtrack album titled Parade. This first single would kick things off and after a high debut, the song shot to the top of the Pop chart. It also reached #1 at R&B and Dance. It was his third single to top all three charts. Despite the major hit, the album would peak at #3 and would only go platinum, which was half of what his previous LP, the psychedelic Around the World in a Day, would sell and a tenth of what Purple Rain sold. It didn't help that the film was a box office bomb and big critical failure. Still, the album was critically more successful than Around the World and this song became one Prince's most enduring hits. It also won the Grammy for Best R&B Performance, Duo or Group and was nominated for Best R&B Song

ReduxReview:  This sparsely arranged track just hit all the right buttons. It was a retro-ish R&B tune that was minimally dressed with modern flare. It had a great hook and Prince's falsetto sounded right at home. It was an irresistible piece of ear candy and there was no doubt this was gonna hit #1. Apparently, his record company didn't like the tune and thought it was way too underdone and sounded like a demo. They didn't want to release it, but Prince put his foot down and the song got out. It's completely amazing, even in retrospect, that no one at Warner Bros. heard this as a hit. I knew it on first listen. Idiots.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Prince originally wrote this song for the Minneapolis band Mazarati, which was formed by Revolution bassist Brown Mark. The band worked up the song with Prince, but then Prince liked how the tune had developed and decided to finish it himself. The completed track still has some of the original recorded parts including the background vocals done by Mazarati. Mazarati would issue a debut album in 1986 with only one single making any impression - the #19 R&B track "100 MPH," which was written, produced, and all instruments performed by Prince.  2) Two covers of this tune would end up reaching the charts. Later in '86, the British alt-rock band Age of Chance recorded a version that featured their own lyrics. The song got to #50 in the UK while hitting #35 on the US Dance chart. A couple of years later, singer Tom Jones began including the song in his shows and even sang it on TV. That performance was caught by members of the Art of Noise and they reached out to Jones to see if he would sing on a version they had worked up. He obliged and in 1988 it was issued out as a single. It was a big hit in the UK reaching #5. In the US it would get to #18 Dance and #31 Pop.

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