Monday, March 25, 2019

"Don Quichotte" by Magazine 60

Song#:  2718
Date:  05/10/1986
Debut:  82
Peak:  56
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Synthpop, Europop, Dance



Pop Bits:  This French band was founded by producer Jean-Luc Drion in the early 80s. Their first album in 1981, 60's Slows, was a Stars on 45-style LP that featured a lengthy medley of hit ballads from the 60's like "The Sound of Silence" and "A Whiter Shade of Pale." It ended up being a hit in France and two years later they did a second medley album based on hit 60's guitar instrumentals assembled with a hand-clap beat. But with the medley fad fading, the band decided to work up some original songs. They issued out a couple of singles, but it was this one that garnered a lot of attention. It would reach #10 in France in 1984 and then begin to spread to other countries. Eventually, the song made its way to the US and it ended up being a sizable hit on the Dance chart getting to #16. It crossed over to Pop and nearly made it into the Top 50. An album titled Costa Del Sol was assembled, but by the time it was released in the US, this song had long faded from the charts and with nothing else to promote it, the LP quickly disappeared. The band then went their separate ways with Drion going on to form the duo Monte Kristo. They would have a little success with a Top 10 hit in France titled "Girl of Lucifer."

ReduxReview:  This song is so bizarre that it just had to be a Dance hit. I can totally see folks packing the dance floor and having fun to this popcorn jam. The wonderfully awful video for the song only enhances the craziness of this tune. I have no idea as to what the song is about. It's in Spanish and some English and makes zero sense to me, but assume it has something to do with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Yet I really don't care. When I first heard it my initial reaction was "this is awful." But then further listens started to get me hooked. Then the video just made me crack up. Is this quality material? Hell no. It's terrible. Yet it was produced well and there was something endearing and fun about the tune and the video that made me like it. Like the old saying goes - it's like a car wreck you just can't stop looking at.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) A sample of this song was used by Black-Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am for his solo single "I Got It from My Mama" in 2007. It was the first single from his third solo album Songs About Girls. The tune would get to #31 on the Pop chart.  2) In 1980, Drion worked as an arranger/conductor on the second album by French singer Patrick Hernandez. Hernandez shot to fame thanks to his 1979 disco tune "Born to Be Alive." It was a massive hit in France becoming one of the country's biggest selling singles of all time. It also did well in the US reaching #1 at Dance and #16 Pop, and it would be a certified gold seller. With the song doing well, Hernandez was set up to do a tour of the US. He needed backup dancers and auditions were held in NYC to fill the spots. One dancer who aced the audition was a young Madonna Ciccone. Now, depending on what you read and who you believe, the stories on Madonna and Hernandez vary. From what I gather, Madonna got the job and worked with Hernandez. But Hernandez and his team thought she had the goods to do more and wanted to turn her into a star. They invited Madonna to Paris and she took the opportunity (and along the way it seems she and Hernandez were an item for a short bit). They wanted her to record a disco track, but she wasn't having it. She wanted to record a different style of music. After three months of nothing happening, Madonna said adieu and went back to the States. Soon she would become a worldwide superstar.

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

"Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2717
Date:  05/10/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  2
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  At this point in time, two of Loggins' three Top 10 hits were from movie soundtracks including the 1984 #1 "Footloose." His 1985 album that followed that smash, Vox Humana, was expected to be a big seller, but it stalled at gold-level sales due to the lack of a significant hit. While figuring out his next step, Loggins was asked to sing this Giorgio Moroder/Tom Whitlock composition that was slated to be used in an upcoming film titled Top Gun, which starred Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. Loggins accepted the job and proceeded to record the tune with Moroder producing. Selected as the first single from the soundtrack album, it would be issued out a couple of weeks before the movie's premier. Luckily, the film was a big hit and that helped the song peak right near the top of the Pop chart becoming Loggins' third Top 10 hit from a soundtrack. The album would also be a major hit spending five non-consecutive weeks at #1. It would go on to sell over nine million copies.

ReduxReview:  Moroder is not necessarily known for writing and producing rock tracks, but he did a damn fine job on this one. I love the mysterious verse that's minus the snare sound and accented by fills which then leads to a crashing into the chorus. I used to crank this on my stereo and it sounded meaty and mighty. It's a hooky track that's not too complicated or overdone. The song was perfect for Top Gun and it was exciting to hear in the film and on the radio. "Footloose" may be Loggins' classic film song, but this one is nearly as good.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Although it seemed like getting Loggins to do this song was a no-brainer thanks to his track record of film hits, he was actually the fifth act asked to do the job. The producers first wanted Toto to record the tune and it seems they were up for doing it and contributing a love song called "Only You" to the soundtrack, but legal issues arose and Toto bailed. Bryan Adams was in contention as well. Producers wanted to use one of Adams' songs and thought he could perform "Danger Zone" as well, but Adams declined as he though the film glorified war. REO Speedwagon was given a shot to do the tune, but because producers declined their request to have one of their original songs on the album as well, they dropped out. Corey Hart was approached for the job, but he didn't want to sing someone else's song. Finally, a call went to Loggins and a Top 10 hit was born.

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

"Don't Walk Away" by Robert Tepper

Song#:  2716
Date:  05/10/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  85
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Tepper's career got a boost when his tune "No Easy Way Out" was selected to be on the soundtrack album to the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Rocky IV. The song would be a #12 Rock/#22 Pop hit for the artist. In addition to the soundtrack, the song was also slated to be on Tepper's debut solo album of the same name. Once the LP was set to go, this second single was pushed out. Unfortunately, it didn't get very far barely scraping the bottom of the Pop chart for a few weeks. In turn, the album faltered at a low #144. Still, his label (Scotti Bros.) thought he had the goods to do better and sponsored a 1988 follow-up album Modern Madness. Tepper and the label were at odds about the material on the record and that led to lack of label interest, promotion, etc. The issue plagued album then tanked upon release along with Tepper's chances at further chart hits.

ReduxReview: "No Way Out" was an excellent slice of radio-ready rock. This follow-up had a similar sound but the song itself just wasn't as good. This time around the heavy-handed 80s production sounded like it was necessary to make the track more interesting rather than being an enhancement. Tepper is a good songwriter and this song it not bad at all. It's just not as memorable or single-worthy as his previous hit.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Both of Tepper's albums were produced by Joe Chiccarelli. By the time Chiccarelli was working on Tepper's Modern Madness album, he had already produced a record by a new synthpop band that was signed to Atlantic Records. The band was called Y Can't Tori Read and their 1988 self-titled debut would quickly come and go to little notice. They broke up after the failure, but Chiccarelli was still in contact with lead singer/songwriter Tori Amos. After her band split, Amos wasn't sure what to do and while she was mulling over options she worked as a backup singer. Chiccarelli brought Amos in to sing background vocals on Tepper's album. She also worked for other artists like Sandra Bernhard, but she still had contractual obligations with Atlantic and finally in 1992 she issued her debut solo album Little Earthquakes. The LP steadily gained fans and established Amos' career. It would eventually become a double-platinum seller.

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Friday, March 22, 2019

"Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2715
Date:  05/10/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  Gabriel's fourth album, known as Security in the US, generated his best single to-date with the #24 Pop/#1 Rock track "Shock the Monkey." It helped the former Genesis front man expand his audience and set him up well for his fifth album, So. Leading things off was this funky first single. The horn-driven tune struck audiences as did its groundbreaking MTV video. Listeners and record buyers would push the single to the #1 spot on the Pop, Rock, and Dance charts. It would also make a minor showing on the R&B chart at #61. The song would help send the album to #2 and over time it would end up being a 5x platinum seller. The album would be nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year while the song would get a trio of nominations (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Rock Vocal Performance, Male).

ReduxReview:  I don't think anyone really expected this from Gabriel. Although he had a few pop-leaning tracks in his catalog, he wasn't necessarily a hit-making artist like his old Genesis cohort Phil Collins. However, for So he aimed for something more accessible and the most obvious example of that was this soul-influenced track. It hit radio like a...well...sledgehammer and crushed the competition to get to #1. It showed that Gabriel, if he wanted to, could put his experimental side on pause and write something with mass appeal. Yet he still fed his creative side with the amazing video for which he apparently laid under a sheet of glass for sixteen hours while individual photo frames were shot. Unlike some videos from the day, it still holds up well (the roller coaster segment is my favorite part). This would be Gabriel's only Pop #1. Oddly, this song replaced Gabriel's former band Genesis' "Invisible Touch" at the top of the chart where it spent one week. It would also be the band's only Pop #1.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The song's associated video played a big part in the single's success. Done in a stop motion animated style, the video was endlessly fascinating and is still considered one of the best music videos ever made. The British animated film studio Aardman did much of the work on the video. Aardman would later produce the Wallace & Gromit film shorts with 2005's full-length feature Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit taking home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. They also had a major hit with 2000's Chicken Run, which is still the highest grossing stop action animated feature of all time (followed by Were-Rabbit). Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" was the studio's first foray into music videos.  2) The video was nominated for a record ten MTV Music Video awards. It would go one to win nine of them. The only one it didn't win was the Viewer Choice Award, which went to U2 for "With or Without You." Gabriel's nine wins set a record for most wins in one night. He also received a non-competitive Vanguard award making his total ten for the night. He still holds the record for most wins on a single night and most wins for a single video. For years Gabriel solely held the record for most nominations in one year (ten), but then in 2010, Lady Gaga tied that record when she got ten nominations. Her nods were split between two videos; "Bad Romance" and "Telephone." She would win eight awards that year with seven going to "Bad Romance" and one to "Telephone."

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

"Living on Video" by Trans-X

Song#:  2714
Date:  05/10/1986
Debut:  90
Peak:  61
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Synthpop, Hi-NRG



Pop Bits:  This Canadian act mainly consisted of electronic musician Pascal Languirand. He originally worked with Steve Wyatt as a duo, but when Wyatt left in 1983, Languirand did most everything himself and hired on Laurie Ann Gill as a vocalist. The same year, Trans-X assembled and released their first album titled Message on the Radio. One single from the album, "Living on Video," began to get attention and in '84 it made the charts in a few countries including the UK where it got to #9. There was little interest in the song at the time in the US, but then ATCO Records discovered Trans-X and took them on. An updated version of the album titled Living on Video was created and the title track was given a new remix and pushed out as a single. The associated MTV video helped the song along and it ended up cracking the US Pop chart. Although it hung around for three months, the tune just couldn't manage to fully break into a major hit. The album was not able to chart and after one more Canadian release that went nowhere, Languirand pulled the plug on Trans-X. He would go on to do solo work in the New Age genre and occasionally revive the Trans-X name.

ReduxReview:  At the time, this probably sounded cool with all its synthesized sounds and effects. Now it sounds so dated and cheezy. These days with the advancement of technology, musicians are making sophisticated recordings that sound ten-times as better in their own living rooms. When Languirand first recorded this in the early 80s, synthpop was just really starting to emerge and it wasn't all that easy to do. He threw in the kitchen sink on this one with all sorts of sounds coming from all directions. It's a goofy tune with a Europop feel and schlager influenced keyboard melodies. There was nothing like it on US radio and I'm not sure stations knew what to do with the thing. As a song, it's pretty awful. Yet there is something so endearingly fun about it that I can't help but smile when I hear it. It reminds me of the days when I had my little 4-track synth/drum machine/sequencer setup and was recording synthpop experiments. I kinda get where he's coming from and I can appreciate what he did with this track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Languirand was influenced by electronic music pioneers like Giorgio Moroder, Tangerine Dream, and Kraftwerk. In fact, it was an album by Kraftwerk that inspired the name Trans-X. In 1977, Kraftwerk released their sixth studio album Trans-Europe Express. Languirand was a fan of the band and the album and took a shorthand approach to the album's title for his own work, hence Trans-X. Kraftwerk's album received positive notices when it was first released, but save for a couple of countries it wasn't a big chart success (#119 in the US). However, its stature and influence has gained momentum over the years. It has been cited on many historical "best of" lists including Rolling Stone's 500 Best Albums of All Time (#325).

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

"Listen Like Thieves" by INXS

Song#:  2713
Date:  05/10/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  54
Weeks:  9
Genre:  New Wave, Rock



Pop Bits:  The Australian band grabbed their first US Top 10 hit with "What You Need," the second single from their album Listen Like Thieves. For a follow-up, this title track would be pushed out. It did well at Rock getting to #12, but it didn't quite click the same way at Pop where it missed out on the top half of the chart. A fourth single, "Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down)" was later released and it made it to #24 on the Rock chart. However, it failed to get on the Pop chart. Despite not being able to secure a second big Pop hit, the album did very well reaching #11. It would eventually be certified double platinum.

ReduxReview:  This was another groovy track from the band that wasn't too far from the feel of "What You Need." It just wasn't quite as catchy as that killer single. Still, it was a good tune that should have at least cracked the Top 40.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The b-side to this single was a song titled "Different World." The song was not included on the Listen Like Thieves album, but it was used in a film. The tune can be heard in the hit action comedy Crocodile Dundee. The movie, which starred Australian actor Paul Hogan, was released in the fall of '86 and it became a runaway hit. It would end up being the second biggest box office film of the year (behind Top Gun) and it made a star out of Hogan. He would go on to win a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. Hogan would also earn an Oscar nomination as part of the writing team who were up for Best Original Screenplay. The film would spawn two sequels but neither would do as well as the original. Although the INXS song was used in the film, it was not included on the official soundtrack album.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"Like No Other Night" by 38 Special

Song#:  2712
Date:  05/03/1986
Debut:  75
Peak:  14
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  Between 1979 and 1983, this band pushed out four studio albums (three of them platinum) and did massive amounts of touring. They needed a break and took one after recording the #25 Pop hit "Teacher, Teacher" that was done for the soundtrack to the film Teachers. Their previous albums included three Pop Top 20 hits and seven Rock Top 10's (including two #1's) so the pressure was on to churn out more hits when they returned to the studio to record their seventh album Strength in Numbers. They hoped that this first single would continue their streak of hits and it did by getting to #4 at Rock and cracking the Pop Top 20. Eventually, the album would be a gold seller for them, but that was a dip from their previous platinum efforts.

ReduxReview:  While I've enjoyed some of 38 Special's previous hits, by this point in time it seemed they were really trying to force the commercial side of their music and it was becoming a bit formulaic. An artist continually doing what they do best isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can become a bit boring for listeners if the material isn't as good or better. This track is just okay. It easily follows in the footsteps of their other singles, but it's like I've heard it all before.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While the band did co-write most of their own material, on occasion they would reach out to other seasoned vets to help them along. For this album, the band looked to songwriter Jim Vallance for some assistance. Vallance and his main writing partner at the time, Bryan Adams, had been having success writing hits for Adams while supplying songs to other artists. The band was familiar with Vallance since he and Adams co-wrote their chart hit "Teacher, Teacher" and brought him on board to help shape things up. Vallance would end up co-write six songs for 38 Special's album, including this one, and would also supply a bit of drumming.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

"The Heat of Heat" by Patti Austin

Song#:  2711
Date:  05/03/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  55
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  After her #1 hit duet with James Ingram, 1982's "Baby Come to Me," Austin had troubles getting another significant hit on the Pop chart. She'd get another Top 10 at R&B and one at Dance, but nothing clicked at a more mainstream level. For her sixth studio album, Gettin' Away with Murder, her label, Quincy Jones' Qwest Records, set her up with some of the day's top songwriters and producers including Russ Titelman, Michael Bolton, Terry Britten, Steve Porcaro, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The LP's first single, "Honey for the Bees," was a remake of a song originally co-written and recorded by Alison Moyet. It would be a #6 Dance hit, but would only get to #24 R&B while missing the Pop chart. The title track would be issued next, but it failed to do much of anything stalling at #72 R&B. Surprisingly, the label decided to push out a third single and selected this track written and produced by Jam & Lewis. Overall, it did better than the previous two singles by getting to #13 at R&B, #14 Dance, and nearly cracking the top half of the Pop chart. Yet it still wasn't the sizable hit needed to generate further interest in Austin or the LP. It would end up being Austin's last single to reach the Pop chart. She would go on to have one more Top 10 at both AC and Dance and that wrapped up her days on the mainstream singles charts.

ReduxReview:  The chorus of this song had a Jam & Lewis vibe, but the rest sounds like they were channeling a post-Disco style of Chic. It's fine, but I wouldn't count it among their best efforts. I think the problem is that Quincy Jones and the label were trying to make a big crossover dance/pop/R&B star out of Austin and it just wasn't working. There were too many cooks trying to make the album and it ended up over-seasoned and inconsistent. Austin can sing anything and make something from nothing, but when the majority of tracks are bland to begin with, there is only so much she can do. Luckily, she found her groove again when she returned to more jazz oriented material.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  By the end of the 80s, Austin would retreat back to her jazz roots and mainly record albums in that vein. She would end up with eight Top 20 albums on the Jazz chart including four Top 10's (her 1981 album Every Home Should Have One also made the Jazz Top 10). She would add three more Grammy nods to her credit for a total of six. Her one nomination in 2007 would net Austin her first Grammy win. Her LP Avant Gershwin would secure Austin a win for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

"I Must Be Dreaming" by Giuffria

Song#:  2710
Date:  05/03/1986
Debut:  84
Peak:  52
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Gregg Giuffria and his band had a successful self-titled debut album in '84 that reached #26 thanks to the #15 Pop/#3 Rock single "Call to the Heart." Their label, MCA, was pleased enough with the results to call for a second album. The band retreated to the studio and came out with Silk + Steel. This first single was issued out and it got a little attention, but far less than their previous hit. The song got to #28 at Rock while stalling near the halfway mark at Pop. A second single failed to chart and that doomed the album. They recorded demos for a third album, but then the band left MCA and decided to split up. Gregg Giuffria would later have some minor success with his next band House of Lords.

ReduxReview:  I'm familiar with the Mink DeVille version of this song (see below) and I have to say that Giuffria really rocks this one out. I like Mink DeVille's original, but I actually prefer this remake. The beefed up production sends the song to arena rock territory and David Glen Eisley's lead vocal is just killer. It's a shame this song didn't catch on more. It deserved to go further up the chart. It doesn't necessarily have a hooky chorus, but I don't think it needed one. For me it even outshines their lone Pop hit "Call to the Heart." It's kind of a lost gem.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1)  This is a remake of a song originally written by Willie DeVille and recorded by his band Mink DeVille. It was done for their 1985 album Sportin' Life. It was issued as a single, but it did not chart. The album was Mink DeVille's final one. After that, Willie DeVille moved forward with a solo career releasing albums under his own name.  2) Giuffria recorded two songs for the soundtrack to the 1985 film Gotcha!. The comedy-action film, which starred Anthony Edwards and Linda Fiorentino, was not a critical or box office success. Gregg Giuffria and lead singer David Glen Eisley also recorded a third song for the film that was credited to Camelflage. The main theme, "Gotcha!," was written specifically for the film and was recorded by Thereza Bazar. It was issued out as a single, but it failed to chart. Bazar was one-half of the UK duo known as Dollar. While they would only have one charting song in the US (1979's #74 "Shooting Star"), they were stars in the UK getting nine Top 20 hits including five Top 10's. Along with the song from the film, Bazar would also record a solo album with producer Arif Mardin. Titled "The Big Kiss," it was a highly anticipated release in the UK. However, release date and distribution issues stymied promotional efforts and the album disappeared quickly.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

"Chain Reaction" by Diana Ross

Song#:  2709
Date:  05/03/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  65
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, R&B



Pop Bits:  This second single from Ross' Eaten Alive album was basically a non-starter when it was first released back in November of '85. It stayed on the Pop chart for a short three weeks peaking at a lowly #95. However, the fate of the song was far, far better in Europe where it reached the Top 10 in several countries including a three week stay at #1 in the UK. In late January of '86, Ross was tapped to host the American Music Awards and during the show she sang "Eaten Alive" and this song. Her performance reignited interest in the tune. That along with its European success prompted Ross' label to give the song a second chance. A "special new" mix of the song was put together and issued out as a single. On its second go-around, the tune did better but it was far from being a hit as it still couldn't get near the top half of the Pop chart. With that result, the cost of the reissue probably wasn't worth the effort.

ReduxReview:  There is not much more I can say than what I did in the original post for this song. The Gibb brothers did a nice job creating this for Ross, but it just wasn't what US listeners wanted, especially after the failed "Eaten Alive."

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The American Music Awards were developed by Dick Clark and began in 1973. Clark was still hosting American Bandstand at the time, which was famous for having performers lip sync their songs on the show. At the time, it wasn't that unusual for some acts to lip sync due to logistics or heavily choreographed routines. Unlike the Grammys where everyone is to perform live (or live plus backing track enhancements in the case of dance-heavy performances), the AMA's sometimes opted for lip syncing. For Ross in '86, it was half n' half. She opened the show with a live performance of "Eaten Alive." But for "Chain Reaction," which featured a cast of male dancers and Ross involved in the routine, Ross opted to lip sync. At one point near the end, she seemed to forget where she was in the song and missed a cue, but she quickly recovered. Yet no one said anything about it at the time. People kind of forget now, but when Michael Jackson did his famous moonwalk routine on Motown 25, he was lip syncing. No one seemed to care and he moonwalked his way to an Emmy nomination for his performance. These days, you can't do that. Artists are being called out all the time for lip syncing. The Milli Vanilli scandal certainly played a role and scrutiny has gotten worse since. Several artists have been accused of lip syncing at the AMA's including superstar Mariah Carey in 2018. She hadn't appeared on the show in a decade and she debuted an upcoming single "With You." While many fans applauded her performance, others called her out for lip syncing. These days, that's what a singer can expect - is it live for Memorex? If Memorex, don't look at your Twitter feed...

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Friday, March 15, 2019

"Digging Your Scene" by The Blow Monkeys

Song#:  2708
Date:  05/03/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  14
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul, Sophisti-Pop



Pop Bits:  This UK band was headed up by singer/songwriter Robert Howard, aka Dr. Robert. They formed in 1981 and after a couple of years gigging and gaining a following, they were signed to RCA Records. A debut album in 1984, Limping for a Generation, wasn't a hit, but RCA saw potential in the band and asked for a follow-up. They recorded Animal Magic and pushed out a first single titled "Forbidden Fruit." The song was barely a blip on the UK chart, which didn't bode well for the band. But then this second single was released and things turned around. It became their first hit in the UK reaching #12. The US branch of RCA got the single out and it too did well hitting the Pop Top 20 while getting to #7 at Dance. Follow-up singles were middling affairs in the UK and didn't make any chart in the US, but this song set them up well for their next LP, She Was Only a Grocer's Daughter. In the UK, the album did well getting to #20 thanks to the #5 hit "It Doesn't Have to Be This Way." In the US, it seems label politics may have doomed the song and it failed to chart. The Blow Monkeys would never chart again in the US. They continued to be mildly successful in the UK until their break up in 1990.

ReduxReview:  I liked this smooth groovin' tune when it first came out and bought the single. I ended up getting a little tired of it because I had a boss at the time that loved this song and played it all the time. It's one that you don't hear too often any more and it is kind of refreshing when it does get played. The band had some other good tunes to offer including "It Doesn't Have to Be This Way," but besides this track they failed to fully catch on in the US.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Dr. Robert is not a real doctor, obviously. It came about when on the band's first single, Robert Howard got credited as Dr. Robert. It was just a lark at at the time, but it ended up sticking. The name came from the 1966 Beatles song "Doctor Robert," which originally appeared on the UK version of Rubber Soul (in the US it appeared on Yesterday and Today).  2) Although the band would only get one song on the US charts, a cover tune they recorded was featured on one of the biggest soundtrack albums in music history. RCA Records was in charge of the soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The label tapped The Blow Monkeys to supply a track for the album and given limited time to record one, the band selected to do a cover of Lesley Gore's 1963 #2 hit "You Don't Own Me." The film became a big box office success and the soundtrack did even better spending 18 weeks at #1 and selling over 32 million copies worldwide making the fourth biggest selling soundtrack of all time after The Bodyguard, Saturday Night Fever, and Grease.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

"A Different Corner" by George Michael

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2707
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  57
Peak:  7
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The spring of '86 was both good and not so good for the duo known as Wham! George Michael and Andrew Ridgely had just scored their fifth Top 10 hit in a row with "I'm Your Man," yet Michael wanted to move on from the teen pop sounds of Wham! into something more mature. To do that, he needed to go solo so the duo decided to split. But before going their separate ways, they decided to record a few more songs and issue out a last album. In the UK and other territories, the duo assembled a more compilation-like double album titled The Final. For the US and a couple other countries, a single album called Music from the Edge of Heaven was released. "I'm Your Man" was included on the disc as well as this single, which was solely credited to George Michael. The plaintive ballad made it into the Pop Top 10 while also reaching #6 at AC. It would help push the album to #10 and go platinum.

ReduxReview:  I was a little taken aback when I first heard this track. Coming off the goofy "I'm Your Man," this lovely tune was so unexpected. I think folks knew that George Michael had some skills going on, especially after "Careless Whisper," but this song confirmed that he had the chops to carry a solo career with something more than the bubblegum pop of Wham. This is an elegant track with a new maturity and a terrific vocal. Sadly, I rarely hear this song anymore. It comes up in my playlists, but it has kind of taken a back seat to Michael's bigger hits out in the world. Although his Faith album would be the one to cement his solo career, this is the song that really signaled the beginning.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was George Michael's first solo hit in the US. Elsewhere in the world it was his second. When the song "Careless Whisper" was first released as a single in 1984, it was credit only to George Michael except for in the US. Apparently, his US label wasn't sure Michael's sole name could carry the single so they decided to credit it to Wham! featuring George Michael. Therefore it's not been considered a Michael solo song in the US. In the UK it was considered a solo effort and credited as such. The song reached #1 as did "A Different Corner." That made Michael the first solo act in the UK to hit #1 with their first two singles.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"Rain on the Scarecrow" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Song#:  2706
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  64
Peak:  21
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Mellencamp's Scarecrow album was on its way to selling over five million copies thanks to three Top 10 hits. After the third single, "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," made it to #2 this album opening track was selected to be the follow-up. The song reached #16 at Rock while just missing out on the Pop Top 20. It was Mellencamp's twelfth Top 40 hit. In addition to being a big hit, the Scarecrow album would also be a critical success. It would later be placed at #95 on the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Best Albums of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  While I think this was a good single choice, it was pretty dark and serious for pop radio. The story of a third generation farmer losing his land and most all that goes with it was not necessarily something synthpop loving teeny boppers could relate to, yet the song nearly cracked the Top 20. It think it showed how popular Mellencamp and his music was at the time and demonstrated that if done right, listeners can relate to a serious, topical song. I also think that the song's MTV video and the issues raised by Mellecamp's Farm Aid concert effort certainly helped. It's one of Mellencamp's hardest hitting songs and as the opening track of Scarecrow it set the tone for the LP and showed that Mellencamp was maturing as a songwriter. And if I haven't mentioned it before, Kenny Aronoff's drumming on this album is master class killer.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The lead single from the album, "Lonely Ol' Night," wasn't the only song on Scarecrow to contain a movie reference. This track did too. The lyrics go: "He said 'John, it's just my job and I hope you understand.' Hey calling it your job old hoss sure don't make it right." This line stems from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman. In the film, Newman's character, Luke, is in chain gang prison and at one point he is sent to a tiny solitary confinement area called "the box." When being taken there, the guard says, "sorry Luke, I'm just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that." Luke then replies "nah, calling it your job don't make it right, Boss." The film was a box office hit and was nominated for four Oscars including Best Actor for Newman. George Kennedy won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

"Vienna Calling" by Falco

Song#:  2705
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  70
Peak:  18
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Europop, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  Austria's Falco made an indelible mark on the Pop chart when his "Rock Me Amadeus" spent three weeks at the top. The quirky German-language talk/rap tune became an 80s camp classic and made Falco a one-hit wonder in the US, even though technically he wasn't due to this follow-up track that made the Top 20. It was just that "Rock Me Amadeus" was such an overpowering hit that it far overshadowed this tune, which most folks have forgotten. Like "Rock Me," this song was a new edit/remix done specifically for the US single release (it was titled "The New '86 Edit/Mix) . The version found on the US release of Falco 3 was much longer (at 7+ minutes) and different from the four-minute one found on the original European album. It would end up being Falco's final single to reach the US Pop chart. His next album, Emotional, would contain the single "The Sound of Musik," which was able to get to #16 on the US Dance chart. After that he would mainly just have hits in Austria and Germany. Sadly, Falco died from injuries he sustained in a car accident in 1998.

ReduxReview:  How do you follow up a kooky hit? With another one, of course! While not quite as off the rails as "Rock Me Amadeus," this track was still fun even though I had zero idea as to what it was about. Its mix of German and English certainly didn't help. The chorus was strong and the US mix of the track was better than the album versions. I thought it might dip into the Top 10 but it stopped a bit short. At the time, I enjoyed this track just as much as I did "Rock Me." Unfortunately, this one quickly faded and became a "lost song" of the 80s while "Rock Me" lived on.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  A third single, "Jeanny," would be issued out from the album. The original version of the song had Falco doing a spoken word section in German that led to a chorus sung in English. For the US single release, a special radio edit of the song was done with Falco doing the spoken word section in English as well. While the song was a big hit in several European countries, it failed to chart in the US. The song would be highly controversial in Europe. Falco has said that the lyrics were just point-of-view musings of a stalker, but many interpreted that Jeanny was eventually raped by the stalker. It didn't help that there was a "news flash" included in the song that talks about missing persons including a 19-year-old girl, which alluded to murder. The song was outright banned by several radio stations while others only played it at night or with a front-loaded warning. Of course, the controversy probably helped sell records and it hit #1 in at least six European countries. On his next album, Falco continued the story of Jeanny with the track "Coming Home (Jeanny Part II, One Year Later)." It would also reach the Top 10 in several countries.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

"Who's Johnny" by El DeBarge

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2704
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  75
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The family band DeBarge had their peak moment with their #19 gold selling album Rhythm of the Night. It should have led the siblings to something even greater, but drug addiction and other factors took a toll on the group and their leading force El DeBarge finally decided to exit and try for a solo career. Staying with Motown's Gordy label, DeBarge moved forward and recorded his self-titled debut solo album. The first single from the LP would be this track, which also served as the theme song to the sci-fi comedy film Short Circuit. The tune took off and hit the #1 spot at R&B while reaching the Pop Top 10. It also made it to #10 Dance and #18 AC. The hit helped to make the album a gold seller. DeBarge's solo career was off and running.

ReduxReview:  This infectious piece of pop candy was one of those love-it-or-loathe-it kind of songs. For me it was quirky fun. I got a kick out of the track even though it was nothing like the smooth sounds DeBarge had been doing with his family. It was an in-your-face 80s synthpop tune boosted by a popular film. The bummer part was his album. DeBarge had proved himself to be a good songwriter and producer, yet when it came to his solo debut, he did neither. All the songs were written by A-list songwriters supplying their best B-list material. Established writers included Diane Warren, Jay Graydon, Burt Bacharach, Robbie Nevil, Randy Goodrum, and in the case of this song Peter and Ina Wolf, the husband/wife team that had just scored a #1 with Starship's "Sara." Peter Wolf and Graydon would co-produce the LP. I'm guessing the label wanted to turn DeBarge into a big crossover artist and took over control of content and production in order to make it happen. It resulted in a gold album, but in the process they eliminated the soul that made DeBarge famous. The LP is full of mediocre AC-leaning pop tracks. It's a shame they didn't let DeBarge take full control. He might have created a special debut. But it seems the music machine was in full motion and DeBarge was caught in it. This song was really the only bright spot on an otherwise bland album. DeBarge deserved better.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The film Short Circuit, which starred Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg, was mainly about an escaped robot named Number 5 that ends up being befriended by Sheedy's character. This song was written to be used in the film and those involved in the making liked it so much that they included a scene near the end where Number 5 changes his name to Johnny 5. Although the movie received a mixed critical reaction, it was a sizable box office hit. It did well enough to warrant a sequel that came out in 1988. Sheedy and Guttenberg did not appear in the film. It starred Fisher Stevens, who was a side character in the original. The film was far more expensive to make and took in only half of what the original did making it a box office dud.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

"Out of Mind, Out of Sight" by Models

Song#:  2703
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  90
Peak:  37
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock, New Wave



Pop Bits:  This Australian band was formed in 1978 by singer/guitarist Sean Kelly. Two years later they were signed to Mushroom Records and proceeded to release three albums with each one more successful than the last. When 1985 rolled around, they got their first Top 10 hit in Australia with "Barbados," the second single from their fourth album Out of Mind, Out of Sight. The title track was select as the follow-up single and it went straight to #1. The success of the songs and the LP led to an international distribution deal with Geffen Records. The title track was issued out as a single in the US and it gained some attention at Rock getting to #22. The tune was also able to cross over to the Pop chart where it got inside the Top 40. Another track from the LP, "Cold Fever," got to #29 at Rock as well. Unfortunately, the band's follow-up album, 1986's Models' Media, failed to produce similar results and by 1988 the band had split.

ReduxReview:  I remember liking the bluesy rock feel to this song and the honking synths. I ended up buying the single. At the time they kind of had an INXS feel to them and I thought this song would do better than it did. It was a major hit in their homeland and probably still gets airplay there, but in the US it became a lost Top 40 single. It's a hooky track that is still a fun listen.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The band's first bass guitarist was Pierre Sutcliff, aka Pierre Voltaire. Sutcliff stayed with the band during its first six months, but then left due to creative differences and was replaced. Sutcliff played with other bands, but ultimately chose a different career path once the rock 'n' roll dream faded. Later in 2014, Sutcliff would become a celebrity in Australia thanks to a game show. As a contestant on Million Dollar Minute, Sutcliff would end up winning over $500,000 (somewhere around $440,000 in US money at the time). It was the largest amount won by a contestant on an Australian daytime game show. Sutcliff had the option of playing for the full million, but opted to take the money and run. Had he played on and answered incorrectly, he would have forfeited the $500,000 and only received $75,000. Three other contestants would follow in Sutcliff's footsteps and take home the half million. In 2015, a contestant became the first and only to win the full million. After three seasons, the show was cancelled (probably due to running out of prize money...).

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Innocent Eyes" by Graham Nash

Song#:  2702
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  84
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Throughout the 60s and into 1970, Nash scored several hits with his two bands, The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young for 1970's Déjà Vu). It wasn't until 1971 that he issued out his first solo album Songs for Beginners. It would be a #15 gold seller. He would bounce around with his other three CSNY band mates in various iterations over the years and in between he would put out two more solo discs. The 80s would see Nash having success with Crosby, Stills & Nash (the platinum Daylight Again in 1982) and a reunited Hollies. With both of those projects done for the time being it seemed like an opportune time to record a fourth solo album titled Innocent Eyes. Opting to keep up with trends, Nash added modern 80s touches like synths and programmed drums to songs with commercial appeal such as this title-track first single. The ploy worked fairly well at Rock where the song made it to #14, but it couldn't find a more mainstream audience and the song stalled early on the Pop chart. It would be Nash's last solo song to reach the Pop chart. He would not issue out another solo album until 2002 with Songs for Survivors, which generated the #28 AC track "I'll Be There for You."

ReduxReview:  Nash was no stranger to commercial pop music thanks to his hits with The Hollies, but after his years writing and performing acclaimed folk-leaning tunes that were based on experiences, social issues/events, and even politics, Nash had a reputation as being an artist with something to say. He and his CSNY band mates basically helped to provide a soundtrack for the late 60s/early 70s generation. His reunion with The Hollies in '83 put him back in the commercial pop spotlight and that bled over into his solo album. While keeping current, having a little fun, and trying for some pop chart recognition wasn't a bad thing, it was still a bit jarring to hear Nash's voice floating above the synths and fake drums of this pop track. He's certainly not the first respected artist of a different generation to succumb to the new trends in music, but it's just weird to hear the guy who wrote "Chicago," "Just a Song Before I Go," and "Our House" sing this fluffy 80s tune. The song itself is fine. It's not particularly memorable but it and the production are a minor step up from some of the tracks from the Hollies' reunion LP. Yet it still just ends up being an odd footnote in Nash's career overshadowed by far superior work.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Swedish singer Björn Skifs. Written by Paul Bliss, Skifs recorded it for his 1984 album If...Then..., an English language disc that featured pop/rock originals and cover tunes by artists like Bryan Adams, Walter Eagan, Michael Bolton, and Eric Clapton. The album was a Top 10 success in Sweden. While Skifs never made a name for himself as a solo artist in the US, he did top the US Pop chart with his band Blue Swede. Their remake of "Hooked on a Feeling," originally a #5 hit in 1968 for B.J. Thomas, made it to #1 in 1974. Many remember Blue Swede's gold-selling version thanks to the "ooga chaka" chant that came courtesy of an earlier 1971 remake of the song by UK singer Jonathan King. Blue Swede's version was prominently featured in the 2014 hit film Guardians of the Galaxy. The band could have easily become a one-hit wonder, but they escaped that tag by reaching #7 the same year with another remake, "Never My Love," which The Association took to #2 in 1967.

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Friday, March 8, 2019

"Say It, Say It" by E.G. Daily

Song#:  2701
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  70
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  E.G. Daily first broke into entertainment via acting. A few bit parts led to better roles in films like Streets of Fire, Valley Girl, and Pee Wee's Big Adventure. She had a solid singing voice and songwriting skills and along the way she was able to get a deal with A&M Records. The label paired her with hot-at-the-time producers like Harold Faltermeyer and Keith Forsey and the result was her debut LP Wild Child. Yet despite the catchy pop she co-wrote and recorded with Faltermeyer and Forsey, it was this collaboration with two of Madonna's former cohorts Stephen Bray (co-writer) and Jellybean Benitez (producer) that was selected to be the LP's first single. The song would be a winner at Dance getting to #1 on that chart. It was able to cross over to the Pop chart where it resided a while, but it just couldn't quite made it out of the basement. It would be her only song to reach the Pop chart. Another track from the album, "Love in the Shadows," would reach #6 at Dance and her song from the soundtrack to the film Summer School, "Mind Over Matter," would hit #7. Her follow up album in 1987 wouldn't generate the same kind of hits and it disappeared quickly along with her A&M contract. She would continue to sing and record, but her voice would soon be heard in millions of homes in a completely different way (see below).

ReduxReview:  Thanks to Bray and Benitez, this certainly sounded like a Madonna clone tune. Even Daily's voice seems influenced by the diva on this track. Yet Daily's voice is far stronger and as the song goes along she gets a chance to flex her muscles a bit. It's odd because the balance of her album doesn't really sound like this song. I'm sure the label wanted their own Madonna-ish star and/or hit and though Daily could do it. Bringing in Bray and Benitez was a way to make sure that happened. It kind of did since the tune got to #1 at Dance, but by this time the sound of this song was almost like "old" Madonna and fickle pop fans had moved on (as had Madonna). Still, it's a pretty solid knock off and it helps when a good vocalist like Daily is leading the way.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Daily would continue to sing and act after her major label days ended, but sometime in the early 90s her career took an odd turn. Her unique voice began to get her work as a voice over artist. Things really broke wide for her when she provided the voice of Tommy Pickles in the hit Nickelodeon animated series The Rugrats. She would do the voice of Tommy and other characters for the full nine season run of the show (1991-2004). That led to a long list of voice over credits that included TV shows like The Powerpuff Girls. She also provided the voice for Babe in the film Babe: Pig in the City. Her voice is heard practically daily by many people in the syndicated reruns of the hit TV show Two and a Half Men. She dubs the voice of the character Jake in the show's opening theme song. Daily may not have been a pop diva for long, but her voice certainly provided her with an extensive and successful career - just in a different way.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

"Lead a Double Life" by Loverboy

Song#:  2700
Date:  04/26/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  68
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  For the first time, the Canadian band scored two Top 10 hits from one album. Lovin' Every Minute of It featured the #9 title track and the #10 power ballad "This Could Be the Night." However, the hits were not consecutive. In between was the LP's second single, "Dangerous," which posed no threat to other chart songs and fizzled at a low #65. Since "This Could Be the Night" got things turned around, it seemed logical to issue out a fourth single. Three of the band's members helped co-write this track which was selected for release. Yet like "Dangerous," it just wasn't clicking with listeners and it stalled in the bottom third of the chart. It even failed to make the Rock chart something which the previous three singles were all able to do. In the end it didn't really matter as the album had already become their fourth multi-platinum Top 20 hit in a row.

ReduxReview:  What is this? On first listen I had to verify that I had called up the right track. How do I describe this? It's like a new wave synth track on speed covered in a faux punk-ish arena rock cloak. Actually, it nearly sounds like a rejected song from Styx's Kilroy Was Here album. It's so odd and nothing like what I expected from Loverboy. And what is up with Mike Reno's lead vocals? I guess he is using his lower range in an odd processed way. Then there is a smokin' hard rock guitar solo in the middle of this mess. Not to mention lyrics  - "I had a champagne milkshake for breakfast" - whaa? It actually took five people to write this thing...five! As a kooky, experimental album track, I guess this is okay. I'd consider it filler. But who in the hell green-lit this one for a single? The fact that it even made the Pop chart is a freakin' miracle. I'd dump this one into the "what were they thinking" file...and then burn the file.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Back in 1984, lead singer Mike Reno stepped away from the band to record a duet with Ann Wilson of Heart. "Almost Paradise" would be a #7 hit from the soundtrack to the film Footloose. Four years later, Reno would climb back on board the soundtrack bandwagon and record solo tracks for three different films. In 1988 he recorded "Chasing the Angels" for Iron Eagle II and also did "Dream Machine" for Watchers. The following year he contributed "Whenever There's a Night" to the soundtrack for Dream a Little Dream. Unfortunately, all three films were critical and box office failures, which didn't help the songs at all. "Whenever There's a Night" was the only one officially issued out as a single, but it failed to chart.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

"There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" by Billy Ocean

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2699
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  61
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Ocean scored his fourth Top 10 hit with "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going," the lead single from his sixth album Love Zone. The song also served as the theme for the hit film The Jewel of the Nile. To follow it up, Ocean went into ballad mode and released this track from the LP. It would end up hitting a chart trifecta reaching #1 at Pop, R&B, and AC. The dual hits would help made the album Ocean's second double-platinum in a row.

ReduxReview:  This really was the perfect follow-up to the rambunctious "When the Going Gets Tough." It hit the right tone and emotional level to draw in a wide swath of listeners. It also had a good chorus and Ocean sold it very well. It's a solid tune, but it's one that I can take or leave. I was never bowled over by it, yet I didn't mind hearing it either. Back in the day it certainly had a lot of people swayin' back-n-forth remembering those sad songs that made them cry.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Many artists begin their careers with small labels or as studio/demo singers. Ocean did both when he began and even had singles issued out under various names. He became a bit of a go-to guy for songwriter/producer Ben Findon in the early 70s. Ocean provided vocals for several of Findon's songs and even co-wrote a few with him. Some got issued out as singles, but nothing much came from them. Findon would then produce Ocean's self-titled debut album in 1976 after he was signed to GTO Records. The LP would produce the hit single "Love Really Hurts Without You" (#2 UK, #22 US Pop). But it wouldn't be until 1984's worldwide #1 "Caribbean Queen" that Ocean's career really took off. By that point, Ocean had long since moved on from working with Findon, but as what usually happens when someone hits the big time, folks grab whatever scraps they can in order to make a buck. That's what happened to Ocean in '86. Someone was able to cull his old work with Findon and make it into an album. It was released in various countries under different titles. In the US, the album was called Emotions in Motion. In other countries it was titled The Early Years. The album included songs Ocean sang for Findon including one titled "On the Run." That song was originally released as a single in 1974 under the name Scorched Earth. For the new compilation, Ocean's vocal was kept and a new "Caribbean Queen"-ish remix arrangement was created. It was issued as a single, but it went nowhere. Other songs were spruced up to give the old tunes a new sheen. One of the tracks doesn't even featured Ocean on lead vocals. "Black As He's Painted" was a song done by The Adlibs with a little assist from Ocean. While some of these projects state that they are something for the artist's fans, in reality they are just cash-in projects.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

"Nothin' At All" by Heart

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2698
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  65
Peak:  10
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Heart's makeover into a mainstream 80s pop/rock act was fully complete when "These Dreams," the third single from their self-titled album, made it to the #1 spot. It was the first chart topper of their career. Its success prompted a fourth single to be released and this mid-tempo soft-rocker was selected. It ended up being another winner for the band getting into the Pop Top 10 while reaching #6 at Rock and #40 at AC. This gave Heart four Top 10 hits in a row, a feat they had never accomplished before and would not repeat.

ReduxReview:  This was another winner from the band. It was just a straight forward pop tune, but the production and Ann Wilson's voice gave it the oomph to make it a hit. Heart arguably were at their most popular during the mid to late 80s and I did enjoy a lot of the material they recorded. However, when I truly want to listen to the band I either go back to their early albums or their late career works like Red Velvet Car that had Ann and Nancy Wilson writing their own songs again. You just can't compare pleasant pop fluff like this (which I do like) with biting rock tracks like "Barracuda" or "Crazy on You." Yet I'm glad they took the detour into the mainstream as these songs might not have found as good of a voice as the Wilson sisters.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Mark Mueller. Mueller would compose songs for many artists including NSYNC, Amy Grant, Justin Timberlake, The Pointer Sisters, El DeBarge, and George Benson. Perhaps his best known and biggest hit came in 1998 when singer Jennifer Paige recorded "Crush," a song Mueller co-wrote with Andy Goldmark, Berny Cosgrove, and Kevin Clark. The song would reach #3 at Pop and go gold. It would end up being Paige's only song to reach the Pop chart making her a true one-hit wonder.

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Monday, March 4, 2019

"Under the Influence" by Vanity

Song#:  2697
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  56
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:   After singer Vanity left her namesake group, Vanity 6, and the Prince camp, she set out on a solo career. It started off a little shaky when her first single, "Pretty Mess," failed to crack the R&B Top 10 and stalled at #75 Pop. A follow-up track fared worse. Still, it was enough to keep her label interested and she went on to record her second LP Skin on Skin. On her first album, Vanity pretty much wrote and co-produced everything. This time around, she opted to just be the voice and gave up producing and songwriting. This first single introduced the album and it did well at R&B getting to #9 while making it to #6 at Dance. The song would be her best effort at Pop getting near the halfway mark. Unfortunately, follow-up singles failed to chart anywhere and the album slipped quietly away. Vanity would then set her sights back on acting and for a while maintained a career with small roles in films and TV shows. She would die of renal failure in 2016.

ReduxReview:  Since Vanity handled much of the work on her middling debut album, Motown probably took bigger control on the follow up and insisted on real producers and songwriters. It wasn't a bad move. The new LP took her a bit away from Prince territory and put her in a sleeker, R&B/Pop arena. Up-n-coming singer/songwriter Robbie Nevil co-wrote a couple of tunes for the LP including this one. The producers made her voice sound better for sure. She's a weak singer, so they layered her voice and buried it a bit. Actually, it makes her sound similar to another singer with minor vocal chops - Paula Abdul. The song is certainly much better than "Pretty Mess." It's more mature with a good chorus and a nice groove. There were a couple of other good tracks on the LP, but there still existed some Prince-ly via Sheila E nods as well. This song is better than "Pretty Mess," but that wasn't a difficult task to accomplish.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  For many years, Vanity lived the fast life. She dated Prince,  Adam Ant, and Billy Idol. Along the way she acquired a crack cocaine addition and it certainly didn't help matters when she was dating the also drug addicted Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe. In his book Sixx mentions his time with Vanity and basically said they were "drug buddies." The hard living took a toll on Vanity's health and in 1994 suffered kidney failure from a drug overdose. She came out of the ordeal with a new outlook on life and became a born-again Christian. She renounced her stage name and cut all ties with entertainment, including refusing residuals from her previous work. She wrote a book about her experiences and traveled around speaking at churches. She had a kidney transplant in 1997, but by 2016 her health was in decline and she died of renal failure.

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

"The Love Parade" by The Dream Academy

Song#:  2696
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  91
Peak:  36
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Dream Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  This UK band scored a left-field hit with the folkish "Life in a Northern Town" (#7 Pop, #7 Rock, #2 AC). It was the first single taken from their self-titled debut album. For a follow-up this subdued tune was selected. It was a pretty good fit for AC where it got to #13, but it could only manage Top 40 showings at Pop (#36) and Rock (#37). Unfortunately, it would be the band's last single to reach the Pop chart. Their second album, Remembrance Days, would be released early in '87, but none of its singles would hit any chart and the album disappeared quickly. They would issue out one more album in 1990 before calling it a day.

ReduxReview:  This breathy, bossa-nova-ish track is a lovely listen, but I don't think it made for a very good single. It's just a bit too low-key to really crack the Pop chart. I'm surprised it even made the Top 40. I think there was a missed opportunity with "The Edge of Forever." Although they tested it out earlier in the year, after it was used in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (see below), it should have been pushed out as an official single and promoted. It may have not been a Top 10'er, but I think it might have gotten close. I have always been disappointed that "Indian Summer," the lead single from their second album, didn't chart. I thought it was a brilliant tune and was a worthy successor to "Life in a Northern Town." For some reason, it just got ignored. The rest of the album wasn't very good, but that song was a winner. I think it was their attempt to recapture the feel of "Life in a Northern Town" and for me it worked. I guess for the general public, it didn't.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In the summer of '86 the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, starring Matthew Broderick, was released. The comedy would be a significant hit finishing at the 10th highest grossing film of the year. Two songs from The Dream Academy would be featured in the film. "The Edge of Forever," a track from their debut album, was used in a scene and their instrumental remake of The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" was used in another. The vocal version of that song was released as a one-off single in the UK and it got to #83. Prior to it being included in the film, "The Edge of Forever" had hit the US Rock chart getting to #37. It was not officially released as a single in the US, so it was unable to reach the Pop chart. Back in '86, there was no official soundtrack release for Ferris Bueller's Day Off despite it containing plenty of songs. Director/writer/producer John Hughes thought that the songs, though effective in the film, did not work together as an album. Later in 2016, a limited edition soundtrack for the film was released that included songs from the film (including the two by Dream Academy) and the musical score composed by Ira Newborn.

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

"Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads

Song#:  2695
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  91
Weeks:  4
Genre:  New Wave, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The Talking Heads first released the soundtrack to their concert film Stop Making Sense back in the fall of '84. At the time, singles from the album failed to chart but the success of the movie helped the album get to #41 and it would eventually be a double-platinum seller. While the Heads were in the studio finishing up their seventh studio album, True Stories, this live track from Stop Making Sense got a little bit of attention. At the time it was being used in the hit film Down and Out in Beverly Hills in both the opening and closing credits. Thanks to the flick, interest in the song grew and the single version of the song was able to get on the Pop chart for a short month. Oddly, even though the song was in the film, it was not included on the associated soundtrack album, probably due to rights issues.

ReduxReview:  I love this song, but like most live stuff it was most likely better in person or at least when watching Stop Making Sense. Watching David Byrne dance to this is mesmerizing and it makes the live version so much better when you have a visual. On its own, the band doesn't really add much of anything to make it more interesting than the original studio version. It's a standard reading of the tune. Obviously, it's a great track but I'd rather hear the original or watch the movie.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The original version of this song first appeared on the band's 1980 album Remain in Light. It was released as a single, but it failed to crack the Pop chart in the US. It did reach the Dance chart at #20. The story was different in the UK where the single made it to #14. It has since become a classic not only in the band's catalog, but in rock music in general. It made the list of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll." It is one of two Talking Heads songs that made the list. The other was "Life During Wartime" (1979, #80 Pop).

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Friday, March 1, 2019

"Tuff Enuff" by The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2694
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  10
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Blues-Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  This Texas blues-rock band headed up by Kim Wilson formed in the mid-70s. After a few years of gigging around and gaining a following, the band got signed to Tacoma Records and issued a debut LP in 1979. Tacoma was then bought by Chrysalis, which put the band on a major label. They would release three albums for Chrysalis including 1981's Butt Rockin', which included a pair of near-Top 40 Rock tracks. However, album sales were minimal and Chrysalis finally cut ties with the band. It would be another four years of work before another major label showed interest in them. EMI would take a chance on the band and sign them in 1986. For their first effort for the label, Tuff Enuff, the label would bring in Dave Edmunds as producer to help shape the band's brand of blues-rock into something more mainstream. The LP contained this title-track, which did double duty as the first single from the album along with being used in the Ron Howard film Gung Ho. After a slow start, the song gained momentum and made it to #4 at Rock and #10 Pop. The hit would help the album get to #13 and eventually it would go platinum.

ReduxReview:  Dave Edmunds was certainly a sound choice as producer for the band. For this particular track it seemed that he put a little commercialized ZZ Top spin on it. The song works well because it does a good job straddling the line between the blues and radio-friendly rock. It was able to lure pop listeners too, but the longevity of a blues-based artist on the Pop chart is usually quite limited, so the band had their work cut out for them to try and follow this up.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In addition to being used in the film Gung Ho, the song was also used in the 1986 film Tough Guys. The caper comedy starred two legendary actors, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. The pair had made several films together over the years and this one would end up being their last. The movie ended up getting mixed reviews and didn't do all that great at the box office. It would be one of the last theatrical films Lancaster would make before his death in 1994. The film also featured comedian Dana Carvey in a small role. Just around the time this film was getting released, Carvey was making his debut on Saturday Night Live.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

"Your Wildest Dreams" by The Moody Blues

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2693
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  9
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Synthpop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The 80s started off well for the classic rock band with their #1 album Long Distance Voyager and its two Pop Top 20 hits. Yet the Moodies still had not had a Pop Top 10 single since 1972's "Nights in White Satin" (#2), which had actually first been a failed single in 1967. For their twelfth studio album The Other Side of Life, the band wanted to keep their sound current and brought in producer Tony Visconti (of David Bowie fame) to help shape their music for the mid-80s. With a more synth-based, programmed sound, the band released this first single. The nostalgic tune wasn't an immediate hit debuting low on the Pop chart, but then a clever video started gaining attention on MTV and the song began climbing the chart. It would eventually reach the Pop Top 10 while hitting #1 at AC and #2 Rock. After a 14-year wait and 22 years after their first ("Go Now," #10, 1964), the Moodies finally grabbed their third Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  This is a lovely tune written by the band's lead singer Justin Hayward and even though it sounds a bit dated now, the synth-led production was just right for it at the time. The song is well-written with great melodies and it stands on its own, but I do think the video had quite a bit to do with the song's success. It had a nostalgic storyline that was effective and even a bit moving. It did play like a 4-minute mini-movie. Billboard would even name it their Video of the Year. The tone of the song and the theme of the video married well and it hit all the right buttons for many folks. It was a well-deserved late-career Top 10 for the band.

ReduxRating9/10

Trivia:  The video featured a flashback to what appeared to be the early days of the The Moody Blues. The guys who portrayed the younger band members were actually a UK mod revival band called Mood Six. They formed in 1981 and the following year signed with EMI. A couple of singles were issued that went nowhere and the band was dropped. They would go on and issue a few albums for some indie labels, but the band never really hit the big time. The main claim to fame would be their appearance in the Moody Blues video. However, their first single "Hanging Around," would end up being covered by US artist Toni Basil. The song would not appear on her debut album Word of Mouth in the US, but it did make it on to the UK version of the LP. It was also the b-side to her single "Mickey" there as well. The song would see the light of day in the US on the 1994 compilation The Best of Toni Basil: Mickey and Other Love Songs.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

"If Your Heart Isn't in It" by Atlantic Starr

Song#:  2692
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  57
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  It took seven albums, but Atlantic Starr finally scored a major hit on the Pop chart with "Secret Lovers" (#3). The song was their fourth R&B Top 10 reaching #4 and their first to hit #1 at AC. It was the fourth single from their album As the Band Turns, but because it was such a major hit a follow-up single seemed appropriate. This track was selected to be issued out and it did equally as well as "Secret Lovers" on the R&B chart getting to #4 as well as reaching #11 at AC. However, it lost its footing at Pop and tripped before getting into the top half of the chart.

ReduxReview:  Why the obvious hit "Secret Lovers" was the fourth (?!) single remains a mystery, but since it really broke the band wide they had to do a follow up. This ballad was selected and it ended up doing quite well at R&B and AC. For some reason, it just didn't click as well at Pop. While it's not as memorable "Secret Lovers," it was still a good song and probably should have at least made the Top 40.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Hamish Stuart. From 1972 to 1983, Stuart was a member of the Scottish funk/R&B group Average White Band. In addition to guitar, bass, and vocal contributions, Stuart also wrote songs for the band. He co-wrote their two biggest hits, 1974's "Pick Up the Pieces" (#1 Pop/#5 R&B) and 1975's "Cut the Cake" (#10 Pop/#7 R&B). The band would score three top 10 albums during the 70's including the #1 AWB in 1974. Hamish would also work for Chaka Khan in the late 70s/early 80s and would co-write her 1981 #1 R&B hit "What Cha' Gonna Do for Me" (#53 Pop).

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

"Live to Tell" by Madonna

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert
Song#:  2691
Date:  04/12/1986
Debut:  49
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  In the time since Madonna's 1984 album Like a Virgin was released, she had amassed four Top 10 hits from the LP along with one from a soundtrack. She could have easily taken a break after the supporting tour, but she got right back to work coming up with songs for her upcoming third album True Blue. One of her collaborators, Patrick Leonard, had written a theme for potential use in a movie. He played it for Madonna who then wrote lyrics for it and created a bridge section. In addition to being on the new album, she thought it might work well for her husband Sean Penn's upcoming film At Close Range. The song would be featured in the film and it would be issued out as a single a couple of month's prior to True Blue. It debuted in the top half of the Pop chart and then made a beeline for the #1 spot. It would also become Madonna's first song to hit #1 at AC. The single would be her third #1 and eighth consecutive Top 10.

ReduxReview:  Madonna had done a couple of ballads including the #1 "Crazy for You," so she was certainly able to pull them off, but I don't think anything prepared folks for this atmospheric stunner. This one took Madonna to a whole new level. It was like hearing her grow up overnight. There was a new maturity to this song both lyrically and vocally that raised the bar. Let's face it - Madonna can sing, but she is not a singer. No one is going to mistake her for Streisand, but that is fine. The key to a voice like hers is putting something behind it that conveys the lyrics or feeling of the song - to make people believe it - and she does that here. Madonna is more than capable of that and I find this one to be one of her best and most honest performances. Before auto-tune came along and made everyone icily perfect, there were still chances for artists to really put it all out there warts and all. Yeah, there was still some studio trickery back in the day to fix little things, but you couldn't (and still can't) add actual feelings to vocals. I think this is a genuine performance from Madge and that made it all the more special.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Patrick Leonard initially wrote the music to this song for a film titled Fire with Fire. He had hopes that the tune would lead to him scoring the movie as well. He submitted it to the studio, but they rejected it and Leonard. He then took it to Madonna who fleshed it out and did a demo. Thinking it would be a fit for Sean Penn's new film, the tape was presented to the director. He not only accepted the song, but then hired Leonard to compose the full score (at the suggestion of Madonna, of course). At Close Range, which also starred Christopher Walken, was pushed out to theaters the week after this song debuted on the Pop chart. It was received quite well by critics but despite the accolades and the hit song, audiences ignored the film and it ended up a box office dud. As for Fire with Fire, it didn't do much better. The film starred Virginia Madsen and Craig Sheffer and critical reception was not all that great. It too was not a box office success. So who ended up getting the scoring job for that film? An up-n-coming composer named Howard Shore. Shore had a few films under his belt including the horror flicks Scanners and Videodrome. He would go on to be one of Hollywood's leading film scorers. He is probably best known for supplying the music to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, work which netted him three Oscars.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

"Be Good to Yourself" by Journey

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2690
Date:  04/12/1986
Debut:  51
Peak:  9
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Arena Rock



Pop Bits:  Following the success of their 1983 LP Frontiers, Journey decided to take a little break. Frontman Steve Perry ventured into solo territory with a hit album while guitarist Neal Schon did well with his side project Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve. Three years would pass before the band would finally get back together to start work on their ninth studio album. They announced the arrival of the new LP, titled Raised on Radio, with this first single that was issued out ahead of the album's release. The song was a welcome shot of arena rock that landed at #2 at Rock and became their sixth Pop Top 10. The hit would help the album get to #4 and go double-platinum. However, this song would end up being their last to reach the Pop Top 10 and the band wouldn't release another album for a decade.

ReduxReview:  I've always loved the big power pop beginning of this tune. It really made a statement and after being out of the spotlight for a few years Journey needed something with punch to announce they were back. This song did the trick. It's also quite joyous and inspirational, which a bit unusual for Journey. They didn't often do bright tunes like this and it was something different that still maintained their arena rock sound. Unfortunately, the rest of the album wasn't nearly as good as this tune. Let's just say that Perry's time in the pop spotlight certainly had lingering effects. At least they had this rockin' tune that was a solid addition to their hits catalog.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  If you ever watched American Idol and heard judge Randy Jackson say (to Simon Cowell's chagrin and chastisement), "when I was with Journey...," well here he is! When Journey convened to make Raised on Radio, dynamics in the band had changed. Steve Perry had moved over into the producer's chair and it seemed that the music he was writing with Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon was less like rock and more like pop. Bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith weren't keen on Perry's approach and the tension that came about due to that led to the pair being dismissed from the band. Valory was an original member of the band and Smith had joined in 1978. Down two members, the band had to bring in session players to finish off the recording. The band was already familiar with Randy Jackson as he had supplied some bass parts to the Frontiers song "After the Fall" (#23 Pop). They not only brought Jackson in to play on the album, but had him accompany them on the supporting tour. Unfortunately, Journey then went on hiatus for nearly a decade and Jackson went back to session work and working behind the scenes as a producer and as an executive for a couple major labels (and then, of course, American Idol). Had Journey stayed together after Raised on Radio, who knows what would have happened. Perhaps Jackson might have become a full-time member.

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

"Mothers Talk" by Tears for Fears

Song#:  2689
Date:  04/12/1986
Debut:  67
Peak:  27
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock, New Wave



Pop Bits:  The UK duo exploded on the US charts with their second album Songs from the Big Chair. It would reach the apex of the chart thanks to two #1 singles and a further #3 hit, "Head Over Heels." By this point in time the album had run its course in the band's UK homeland after a run of five singles. The US was late to the game and only three singles in, so it seemed logical to issue out a fourth single. This particular track was actually the first single lifted from the album in the UK. It was released late summer of '84 and got to #14. Over a year and a half later, the tune would be scheduled for release in the US. However, instead of pushing out the standard album version of the song, the duo decided to go back into the studio and record a brand new version. It was dubbed the US Remix even though it was a new recording, not a remix. The single was issued out yet even in it's newly recorded form the song couldn't do any better than the Pop Top 30. It would be nearly three years before the duo would hit the charts again.

ReduxReview:  It really doesn't matter whether I'm listening to the original version or the US redo because neither of them are very memorable. The only thing that comes to mind if I see this title is the "we can work it out" part. And that's after having to think about it for a bit. It was a weak single contender to begin with so trying to make it more palatable for the US release was an interesting idea, but that's about all it was. They didn't necessarily make it any more commercial that it already was. The new version just had a slicker sound when compared to the more punchy original, which actually I prefer. It certainly wasn't a bad idea to give this fourth single a go. It's just no matter what they did to the tune it wasn't strong enough to go much further than it did.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The duo's first two singles in the UK, 1981's "Suffer the Children" and 1982's "Pale Shelter (You Don't Give Me Love)," failed to capture anyone's attention and didn't chart. Both songs were re-recorded for their debut album The Hurting. The new version of "Pale Shelter" would be issued as a single in 1983 and would reach #5 in the UK. With singles from Songs from the Big Chair exhausted in the UK, the label decided to push out some reissues to keep the band's momentum going (along with album sales). The album version of "Suffer the Children" would be issued out first and it ended up reaching #52. "Pale Shelter" would be circulated again and on its second go-round it made it to #73.

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Saturday, February 23, 2019

"No One Is to Blame" by Howard Jones

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2688
Date:  04/12/1986
Debut:  72
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Jones' second album Dream Into Action was a platinum success thanks to the #5 single "Things Can Only Get Better." Two more charting singles would follow. In his UK homeland, the LP generated three Top 10's and a #14. It was a good run that set him up well for his next album. However, Jones thought that another track on the album, "No One Is to Blame," may have hit potential. On the LP, the track was mostly a keyboard/vocal take with some synth and drum additions. Jones thought a more radio-friendly version might make a good single. In order to accomplish this, it was suggested that Jones work up a new version of the song with hit maker Phil Collins. Along with Collins' co-producer Hugh Padgham, the trio remade the track with Collins playing drums. The new commercial-leaning track pretty much fell on deaf ears at Jones' label, but he convinced them to put it out as a single. In the UK, it did fairly well reaching #16, but the tune would truly find a home in the US. The song slowly took over the airways and would eventually reach the Pop Top 10 along with hitting #1 at AC (and #20 Rock). It would be Jones' biggest hit in the States and, unfortunately, his final song to make the Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  This Phil Collins-slicked up version of the song certainly turned a minor album track into a commercially viable single. While I like both takes of the track, I do think that Collins and Padgham did a great job polishing up the tune and making it sparkle like a pop gem. I prefer to hear this version if being played on its own. When listening to Dream Into Action, an album I love, I want to hear the original version. It's how I know and appreciate the album and the new take just wouldn't be a good fit in the lineup. It's kind of a rare case where the original and the remake both have their places.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In the UK, this song would be a stand-alone single that would end up being a bonus track on the CD version of his 1986 album One to One. In the US, an EP titled Action Replay was created to help support the single. The EP contained the new version of "No One Is to Blame" along with three remixes of previously released songs and two other tracks that had only been available in the UK. Thanks to the hit, the EP sold well and made it to #34.  2) This song was covered by singer/songwriter Katrina Carlson in 2007. As an indie artist, Carlson has had several of her songs used in films and TV shows and has placed six song in the Top 30 of the AC chart including her remake of this tune. It reached #20.

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