Monday, July 22, 2019

"Throwing It All Away" by Genesis

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2837
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  54
Peak:  4
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Although lead singer Phil Collins had hit #1 as a solo artist, his band Genesis had yet to reach the top of the Pop chart. That finally changed when "Invisible Touch," the lead single from their album of the same name, made it to #1. For a follow-up, the band changed the pace and selected this ballad for release. It did quite well becoming their third Pop Top 10, their second #1 at Rock, and their first #1 at AC. The hit kept sales of the album brisk. It would eventually sell over six million copies.

ReduxReview:  This soft rockin' track wouldn't be out of place on a Phil Collins album. It's an easy going song that was memorable and sounded good on the radio. I like the various sections of the song and they all fit together well. They even tossed in some sing-a-long "woo-hoo's" in for good measure. It continued to showcase the newer commercial pop sound of the band, which didn't necessarily thrill long-time fans who liked the prog-rock side of the old Genesis.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although it was widely known that Peter Gabriel was a founding member of Genesis and stayed with the band until 1975, many folks forget that there was another long-standing member during the band's earlier years. Guitarist Steve Hackett joined up with Genesis in 1971, the year after Phil Collins was brought on board. Hackett stayed with the band until 1977. During that time, Genesis would get four of their albums on the US chart. However, their most successful period wouldn't arrive until the band became a threesome (Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks) after Hackett departed. Hackett would go on to have a solo career and record several album, yet his biggest success outside of Genesis was when he was a member of the "supergroup" GTR. That band reached #14 in 1986 with "When the Heart Rules the Mind."
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Sunday, July 21, 2019

"Sweet Love" by Anita Baker

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2836
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  74
Peak:  8
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Quiet Storm



Pop Bits:  Baker began singing in clubs around Detroit when she was in her teens. It was at one of her gigs that she was offered the chance to audition for the lead singing slot in a band. She got the job and fronted the funk band Chapter 8. They got signed to Ariola Records and issued a debut album in 1979. Soon after, Ariola was purchased by Arista and that led to the group being dropped by the new label. After a couple of years of doing menial day jobs, Baker was given the opportunity to start a solo career. She was signed to the Beverly Glen label by its owner, Otis Smith, whom she had known from her days with Chapter 8. By 1983, her debut solo album, The Songstress, was ready. It was a moderately successful album that yielded the #5 R&B hit "Angel." Unfortunately, issues with the Smith and Beverly Glen tied up her career and after a successful lawsuit to separate from the label, she was free to sign with Elektra Records. Finally after a three-year gap, Baker was able to record her second album, Rapture. It didn't get off to a good start as the first single, "Watch Your Step," stalled at #23 on the R&B chart. The label then issued "Sweet Love" as the follow-up. It was the exact right choice to release. The song took off and got to #2 R&B and #3 AC while becoming her first entry and first Top 10 hit at Pop. Seemingly overnight, Anita Baker had become a star. The album and single would yield Baker two Grammys - one for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for the album, and one for Best R&B Song for "Sweet Love" (Baker co-wrote the tune with Louis A. Johnson and Gary Bias). Rapture would go on to sell over five million copies.

ReduxReview:  Hindsight is 20/20 and now it seems obvious that this should have been the LP's lead single. It was a smart and sophisticated track that had mainstream appeal with its groove and modern production. Baker's unique tone and delivery also helped make the song a standout. Baker wasn't a powerhouse R&B vocalist like Patti LaBelle and that was a good thing. Her smooth, jazzy voice was perfect to sell this tune and it was like nothing that was on the radio at the time. It still sounds great and I think the production style helped it transcend the decades. It still sounds fresh to me. Baker couldn't have asked for a better song to finally kick her career into high gear.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Prior to her singles from Rapture, Baker had reached the R&B chart eight times. Her first three appearances were with Chapter 8. Their best effort was 1979's #38 entry "Ready for Your Love." Then five tracks from Baker's solo effort The Songstress managed to reach the R&B chart. As mentioned above, "Angel" would do the best at #5. "You're the Best Thing" would get to #28 while the balance of the songs would peak below the Top 40 mark.

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

"I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" by Robert Palmer

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2835
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  79
Peak:  2
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Rock, Synthpop, Electro-Funk



Pop Bits:  As far as hit singles go, Palmer's album Riptide was one-for-three. The song "Addicted to Love," was a #1 smash while the other two released tracks faltered including the LP's third single "Hyperactive," which stalled at a lackluster #33. Despite that result, the record label charged ahead and decided to release this fourth single. It ended up being a smart move. The tune started out a bit slow on the chart, but it picked up steam thanks to its popular MTV video that was similar in style to the one done for "Addicted to Love." The song would just miss out on the top spot at had to settle for a #2 showing at Pop. It would also get to #26 Dance and #41 Rock. The second hit sparked further sales of the album, which would eventually go double platinum.

ReduxReview:  Finally, the record company gets it right and releases this song. As I've mentioned before, I think they all got lucky as normally the two singles that failed would have been enough to sink the album, but this one and "Addicted" were strong enough to overcome the bumps in the road. I've always loved this track. The sputtering, percolating synth lines and the bass really drove this tune with Palmer's very chilly reading stitching it all together. It's dark and cool, yet groovy enough to make ya move. It was certainly different from the Minneapolis/Prince sound of Cherrelle's original (see below).  I like both versions, but for me this one with its calculated, mechanical funkiness really drew me in. It was also the perfect song for Palmer to continue the video concept first seen in "Addicted."

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by R&B singer Cherrelle. Her version was a Top 10 hit at R&B (#8) and Dance (#6), but it failed to catch on as well at Pop stalling at a low #79. The song was written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis with the duo producing Cherrelle's record. Chic's Bernard Edwards handled production on Palmer's version. In 2001, Mariah Carey covered the song for the soundtrack to her film Glitter. Jam & Lewis produced the song, but instead of creating a new recording from scratch, they utilized the backing track that they originally created for Cherrelle and then had Carey sing over it. I guess you could say it was like a recorded karaoke version. It was not issued as a single.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

"It's You" by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Song#:  2834
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  52
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  By this point, Seger had scored two Top 15 hits from his album Like a Rock, including the #12 title track. Both songs would also reach the Top 10 at Rock and this third single would follow suit. It would get to #8 on the Rock chart. It would also get to #22 at AC. Unfortunately, it didn't draw the same audience at Pop that the other singles attracted and it stalled just shy of the halfway point on the chart. The album was still lodged in the Top 20 as this single debuted on its way to selling over three million copies.

ReduxReview:  This relaxed track was a good follow-up and I thought it would at least get inside the Top 40, but after two powerful singles, this one was just a bit too subtle to break through the same way at Pop. It was an easy-going track that had a nice heartland rock feel to it. The tune may not be among Seger's most memorable, but it was a good choice for a third single and could have done a bit better on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Seger was born in Detroit, but was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he graduated from Ann Arbor High School (now known as Ann Arbor Pioneer). He was sixteen and still in school when he fronted his first band, The Decibels. They formed in 1961 and played a few shows around the area. While with the band, Seger wrote his first song titled "The Lonely One." The band took that song into a studio and made an acetate demo of it along with two other songs - one called "Jackie the Thief," a tune Seger wrote with Decibel member Pete Stranger, and a third tune titled "Mash Potatoes" (according to an image found of the acetate). Legend has it that the band got an Ann Arbor radio station to play "The Lonely One." The station spun it once and that was it. The Decibels didn't last long and Seger moved on to his next band, The Town Criers.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

"The Other Side of Life" by The Moody Blues

Song#:  2833
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  58
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  The Moodies returned to the Pop Top 10 after fourteen years with "Your Wildest Dreams" (#9), the first single from their twelfth studio album The Other Side of Life. It was also a major hit at AC reaching the #1 spot. For a follow-up, this title track was issued out as a single. It would do well at Rock getting to #11 while making it to #18 at AC. However, it couldn't do as well at Pop and the song fizzled before reaching the halfway point. Still, the strength of the first single was enough to push the album to #9 and it would go on to become a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo shuffle wasn't too bad of a choice for a follow-up. Rock and AC were on board with it, but I don't think it was the right tune for Pop. One thing that helped "Your Wildest Dreams" was its sentimental video. The one for this song certainly wasn't in the same league. It was a bizarre concept thing about a guy finding some kind of odd underworld where everyone starts to look like him. It was weird. The main thing I remember is Moody member Ray Thomas in some kind of cop S&M outfit bangin' a tambourine. The video certainly didn't help sell the song. It's a good tune, but one that just wasn't a fit for Pop radio.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  While The Other Side of Life would end up being The Moodies' final studio album to be certified either gold or platinum, three future non-studio releases would reach gold level sales. Two compilations, 1990's The Story of the Moody Blues - Legend of a Band and the 1994 box set Time Traveller would both go gold. Neither collection hit the Album chart, but the enduring legacy of the band allowed for sales to continue years after the sets were originally release. A concert album, 1993's A Night at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra would get to #93 on initial release, but like the compilation albums it continued to sell and was eventually certified gold. As associated VHS tape of the performance would also reach gold level sales.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

"Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2832
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Money's 1983 album Where's the Party? was a commercial disappointment. The LP's singles didn't get very far and that left the album peaking at a low #67 and failing to reach gold level sales. His career needed a reboot and after a three-year absence, Money returned with Can't Hold Back. On board to co-produce with Money was Richie Zito. The goal was to get Money back on the charts and Zito brought along demos of some radio friendly fare, which included this first single. It took a while for the song to catch on, but once it did it made a beeline to the top of the Rock chart. Success at Pop wasn't far behind and the single would become his biggest hit getting into the Top 5. It was a welcome and much needed comeback for Money and the hit helped his album reach #20 and go platinum. The song also earned Money a Grammy nod for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male.

ReduxReview:  This tune had hit written all over it. I don't know what the demo sounded like, but apparently Money wasn't a fan of the tune after hearing it, but decided to record it anyway. It's a good thing he did. It was a solid vehicle for his style of rock. The tune opens on an immediately memorable keyboard/guitar riff and it just keeps getting better after that. The inclusion of "Be My Baby" was inspired and Zito's production was excellent. The thing is hooky as hell and deserved to be a big hit. It still sounds damn good.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song also featured the vocals of Ronnie Spector. Spector was the lead singer of the famous girl group The Ronettes. Under the guidance of producer Phil Spector, whom Ronnie would marry in 1968, The Ronettes had several charting songs including their biggest hit, 1963's #2 "Be My Baby." Ronnie Spector maintained a career for a while after The Ronettes broke up and after her tumultuous marriage to Phil Spector ended, but by the mid-80's she had basically retired from the business. When Richie Zito brought the song to Eddie Money and he heard the interpolation of "Be My Baby" within the tune, Money's first though was to get Spector to sing the part. He was advised by folks that Spector was retired and she'd never do it. In the meantime, Money and Zito brought in The Motels lead singer Martha Davis to record the part. Apparently, Davis thought Money should seek out Spector as well and get her to do it. Money finally reached Spector and eventually lured her into the studio. As the song shaped up to be a hit, interest in Spector increased. Columbia Records offered her a contract and she recorded what would be her second solo LP in 1987 titled Unfinished Business. Despite some positive notices, neither the album nor any of its singles charted. She would then release a memoir in 1990 and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Ronettes in 2007.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Paranoimia" by The Art of Noise with Max Headroom

Song#:  2831
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  34
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Electronic, Dance-Pop, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  This British outfit grabbed their first Pop chart entry with their interpretation of the "Peter Gunn" theme (#50 Pop/#2 Dance). It was taken from their second full-length album In Visible Silence. As a sort of addendum to that album, the group released an LP collection titled Re-Works of Art of Noise. It consisted of a few updated versions of previously released songs and some live tracks. One track from In Visible Silence title "Paranoimia," was updated into a newly mixed version that featured the voice of a character named Max Headroom (see below). The unusual new version was issued out as a single and it reach the Pop Top 40 thanks in part to a popular MTV video. It also got to #14 at Dance.

ReduxReview:  Ah, Max Headroom. That was certainly a bizarre pop culture moment. It was so odd that the character took off and not only hosted a TV show, but then had a scripted series as well and even starred in commercials for Coke. The character was able to hang on for a few years, which is longer than most pop culture phenoms, but it was all done before the 90s would arrive. The marrying of Headroom with Art of Noise was absolutely spot-on. The track was pretty cool to begin with, but then adding in Headroom took the tune to another level. And then the ante was upped when the video was made. That's what really made the song take off. I like listening to the song, but the visual representation with Max Headroom made it even better. As annoying as the Headroom character became after a while, Matt Frewer played him to perfection. His rubber-faced antics, voice, and improvisation skills were on full display and it all worked.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Around the time this single came out, Max Headroom was just beginning to gain attention in the US. Max Headroom was a character developed in the UK. He was created to be a computer generated talk show host of artificial intelligence. However, at the time the technology didn't fully exist to create a computer generated animated character, so an actor was hired to play Headroom. American actor Matt Frewer endured hours of prosthetic makeup to become Max. A fiberglass suit was also made for Frewer. Headroom first came to life in the 1985 British TV film Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. The movie was successful and that led to Headroom hosting a music video program titled The Max Headroom Show. It would run for three season with the last two seasons being aired in the US via the cable channel Cinemax. There were other spinoffs including the satirical scripted US sci-fi series Max Headroom, which lasted for two seasons. By the end of the 80s, the Max Headroom phenomenon had pretty much ended. Frewer would continue to act in many films and TV shows. He starred in his own sitcom, Doctor Doctor, which debuted in 1989 on CBS and ran for three seasons. Recently, Frewer has been seen in the popular shows Orphan Black and Fear of the Walking Dead.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

"Playing with the Boys" by Kenny Loggins

Song#:  2830
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  60
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The soundtrack to the film Top Gun had already spawned three hits including one by Loggins, the #2 "Danger Zone." The soundtrack album's label, Columbia, decided to keep the singles going and chose to release this track, which was the second one on the LP by Loggins. This time around, the results were not as good. The song made a low debut and then couldn't get near the top half of the chart. The soundtrack album got knocked out of the #1 spot after three weeks the same week this single debuted. The LP would return to #1 twice more - once in September and once in October, even though singles from it were exhausted. Over time, the album would sell over nine million copies.

ReduxReview:  It probably wasn't a bad idea to go with this Loggins track. After all, he'd kind of become Mr. Movie Hits and his track record was pretty good for them. However, this one just wasn't as strong as his other efforts. It was a good song that went well with the film (in a scene where guys are playing volleyball), but as a single it wasn't in the same league as "Danger Zone" or his other movie hits. Still, it was a valiant attempt to eke out another hit from the soundtrack.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Four songs from the Top Gun soundtrack charted, but five were actually released. Initially, the track "Mighty Wings" by Cheap Trick was supposed to be the follow up to the first single "Danger Zone." But then Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" ended up getting released instead. Of course, that went on to be a huge #1 hit. It was then the label issued out "Mighty Wings." However, the tune just couldn't break through anywhere and it was never able to chart. Luckily, the news was different for the next single, Loverboy's "Heaven in Your Eyes" (#12). This Kenny Loggins track would follow and that would wrap up the singles from the album.

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Walk Away Renee" by Southside Johnny & the Jukes

Song#:  2829
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  98
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  John Lyon, aka Southside Johnny, was a major part of the same New Jersey music scene that was home to Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen and Johnny were friendly and once it came time for Johnny and his band the Asbury Dukes to record a 1976 debut album, Springsteen tossed over a couple of tunes while E Street member Steven Van Zandt served as producer. The album, I Don't Want to Go Home, would do well critically, but it wouldn't be a big seller. Van Zandt and Springsteen helped out on Johnny's next two albums, which included what many consider his best effort, 1978's Hearts of Stone. While critics lauded Johnny, the public didn't take much notice and he was never able to break through in a major way. He would continue to record for various labels over the years with only one of his songs, "I'm So Anxious," reaching the Pop chart (#71, 1979). As '86 came along, Johnny signed with RCA and issued an album titled At Least We Got Shoes. This single from the LP became his second and final single to hit the Pop chart. It would be a very minor entry floating around the bottom three positions of the chart for five weeks. Johnny would hook up once again with Van Zandt for 1991's Better Days. It was seen as a comeback album and featured appearances by Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. It would produced the #22 Rock track "It's Been a Long Time."


ReduxReview:  I absolutely love this song and as a kid even owned the original single (see below). This Springsteen-esque version by Southside Johnny is fine. It took me a few listens to get into it. I'm not sure the New Jersey rock sound was a good fit for the pop tune. It also seems to be a bit on the slow side. Johnny can rip up some good rock 'n' R&B and can do some great cover tunes, but I'm not sure this was among his best efforts. My personal favorite version of this song came from Rickie Lee Jones who covered it for her 1983 EP Girl at Her Volcano. It was paired with an original instrumental called "Letter from the 9th Ward." Her take of the tune is just stunningly beautiful.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Left Banke in 1966. The single would reach #5 on the Pop chart. The song would be covered by many artists over the years, but beside the original version by The Left Banke and Southside Johnny's take, the only other artist to get on the Pop chart with the song was The Four Tops. Their 1968 cover version would get to #14 Pop and #15 R&B.

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

"When I Think of You" by Janet Jackson

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2828
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  60
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  Jackson's first two singles from her Control album, "What Have You Done for Me Lately" (#4) and "Nasty" (#3), were inching her closer to the top spot on the Pop chart. She finally made it to #1 with this third single. It also got to #1 at Dance while reaching #3 at R&B and #10 AC. The widespread, mainstream appeal of the song helped it become Jackson's first to top the Pop chart and her first to reach the AC Top 10. The single would be her third in a row to go gold. Oddly, it would be the only single from Control that missed reaching #1 at R&B. The hit helped sales of Control continue and it would stay firmly planted in the Pop Top 10 through to October.

ReduxReview:  This was the perfect pick for the third single. With her profile significantly raised after two major pop and R&B hits, Jackson had quickly established herself as a star and folks were interested in her next move. This song was a change of pace from her harder hitting first two singles and the tune's more relaxed beat made it more accessible to a wider audience. It would end up being the album's best performing single overall. Although it was the exact right single at the right time, it wasn't one of my favorites from the album. I find it to be a very pleasant, sunny tune that floats easily over the ears, but I preferred the more edgier tracks on the album. Still, it was a brilliant move.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  With this song hitting #1, it claimed a chart achievement. The single made Janet and Michael Jackson the first siblings to have solo hits reach #1 on the Pop chart. To-date, they still remain the only siblings to have accomplished that feat. They were also the first siblings to score solo #1 albums, however two other sets of siblings would also do the same. Brothers Master P (Percy Miller) and Silkk the Shocker (Vyshonne Miller) had #1 albums in the late 90s. Then a pair of famous sisters, BeyoncĂ© and Solange (Knowels) joined the ranks when Solange's album A Seat at the Table topped the chart in 2016.  BeyoncĂ© hit #1 with her debut solo album Dangerously in Love in 2003.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

"Love Walks In" by Van Halen

Song#:  2827
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  67
Peak:  22
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Although the second single from their 5150 album, "Dreams," stalled shy of the Pop Top 20 (#22) it got a lot of airplay on MTV and at Rock where the track got to #6. Next up was this track. It was another winner at Rock where the song made it to #4. At Pop, the tune peaked at the same #22 spot as their previous single and remained on the chart for one additional week. The song kept sales of the album steady. It was still riding in the Top 20 after peaking at #1 for three weeks earlier in April/May. It was well on its way to selling over six million copies.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo effort was probably the closest Van Halen would get to a power ballad. The radio-friendly track was an appropriate follow-up to "Dreams" and like that song, I thought it would do a little better on the Pop chart. Still, it would be their second album in a row to produce three Top 40 singles. I like that the minor verse leads to a sweet chorded chorus. I think this is the type of song that Van Halen would have not come up with or done with David Lee Roth. Something like this wasn't in his wheelhouse, but with Hagar it was possible. Another quality track from the album.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The cover of the 5150 album showed an Atlas-like muscled guy holding up a globe that is encircled by the Van Halen initial logo. The man who posed for the photo is bodybuilder Rick Valente. A friend of Valente's tipped him off that there were auditions for a photo shoot happening at the gym they worked out at and encouraged Valente to show up. He did and he ended up getting the job. Valente said in an interview that he was shocked when the album came out and it was just him on the cover. Valente won his first bodybuilding title at the age of 19 and won several more over the years. He ended up being a fixture at the famous Gold's gym at Venice Beach, California, and worked out alongside celebrities like Hulk Hogan and Lou Ferrigno. He eventually became a personal trainer there. In 1989, Valente became the host of the ESPN fitness/exercise show BodyShaping. The show would run for more than a decade.
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

"A Matter of Trust" by Billy Joel

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2826
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  71
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Joel's tenth studio album, The Bridge, got off to a good start with the first single "Modern Woman" just barely cracking the Top 10 (#10). He would follow up that hit with this more rock-oriented track. The piano man set aside his keyboard and picked up an electric guitar for this song, which would do pretty well at Rock getting to #14. It would do nearly the same at AC reaching #17. At Pop the tune would make a slow climb and like Joel's previous single it would just eke out a Top 10 showing. The back-to-back #10's helped the album get to #7 and go double-platinum, which were the exact same results of his 1982 LP The Nylon Curtain, but it was a drop from his previous hit LP An Innocent Man, which would go on to sell over seven million copies.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure, but I think the most famous/popular part of this song is the count off from the top. I've heard it referenced before even without playing the rest of the song. Just last week they used the count off on a radio show for a comedic bit. Other than that, this song has kind of disappeared further down in Joel's catalog. I rarely hear it anymore. It's probably the best track on The Bridge. I like that Joel rocks it out instead of repeating the synthpop of his previous two hits. The song sounds beefy and strong enough to trample his lighter fare like "Modern Woman." A definite highlight from one of Joe's weakest albums.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The video for this song has Joel and his band rehearsing at a near-ground floor space of a building in New York. They start to play, but stop and open windows on the street side of the room because it was hot. They begin the song again and the music blares across the neighborhood attracting a crowd. The place the video was film was on St. Mark's Place in the East Village of New York. The building had some musical history as it once housed a discotheque called the Electric Circus. It was developed in 1967 by Andy Warhol and film director Paul Morrissey. The Velvet Underground was initially the house band there with Warhol designing their stage shows. Other bands on the rise played there including The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and Sly & the Family Stone. It would close in 1971. When Joel filmed his video, the building had become a counseling center for those with drug and alcohol issues. The opening of the windows with the band's music attracting a crowd was in a way an homage to the famous Beatles rooftop concert in London in 1969. Joel's video also seems to feature two Beatles. There are a couple blink-and-you-miss them moments where it seems like Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney make cameos. However, it has never been confirmed if the pair actually appeared of if the men seen were just lookalikes to go with the Beatles theme.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"Private Number" by The Jets

Song#:  2825
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  76
Peak:  47
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  This family band hit the mainstream with "Crush on You," the second single from their self-title debut album. It would reach #3 at Pop while hittting #4 at both R&B and Dance. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It couldn't break through in the same way as the previous single and it stalled outside of the Pop Top 40 while only getting to #28 at R&B. It was a slight bump in the road for the group, but they would rally back in a big way with their next single.

ReduxReview:  The label went for another jam to follow up "Crush on You," but the tune just wasn't as hooky as their other hit. The song is fine and the production is solid with the rhythm guitar adding some nice texture. It probably could have been tried as the fourth single, but it just wasn't strong enough to follow "Crush on You."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  At the beginning of the video for this song, someone is shown dialing a number on a pay phone. At the end, a piece of paper floats by that shows the number that was dialed. The number, 612-420-3226, was set up as a promotional gimmick in conjunction with the band's fan club and those who saw the video and took down the number could call it and hear messages recorded by the band. On rare occasions, a member of The Jets would actually answer the incoming call and talk with the person. This lasted for quite a while as the band enjoyed success. At some point, the number was relinquished and it seems it might belong to an individual now. Perhaps that person gets a rare call once in a while, but unlike Tommy Tutone's "867-5309/Jenny" where the phone number is in the song and still remember today, the number for The Jets has slipped into obscurity as it was not part of the song and only appeared briefly at the end of the video for a song that was not a hit.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon

Song#:  2824
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  44
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, World



Pop Bits:  After the commercial failure of his 1983 LP Hearts and Bones and the breakup of his relationship with actress Carrie Fisher, Simon went through a depression phase. He thought his viability as a popular artist was over and nothing inspired or motivated him enough to write new music. That is until sometime in '84 he was given a bootleg tape of some South African music. Intrigued by the sounds, Simon began improvising melodies over the music he heard. With ideas flowing, Simon and engineer Roy Halee flew to Johannesburg, got set up in a studio, and worked with local musicians on songs that would make up Simon's seventh solo album, Graceland. The worldbeat sounds combined with Simon's pop was something different and it didn't necessarily excite the folks at his label, Warner Bros., who saw Simon's career as a losing proposition at the time. Still, they went ahead and released the album and this first single was pushed out. The song did pretty well at AC getting to #15 and it didn't do too bad at Pop initially peaking just outside the Top 40. Meanwhile, accolades for the album poured in. Many critics stated it was a career milestone and listed it among the best albums of the year. Sales of the album were good, but then along came the Grammy awards. Simon would be nominated in three categories: Album, Male Pop Vocal, and Producer of the Year. Graceland would win for Album of the Year and it wasn't long before interest in the album would soar. It would reach #3 on the Album chart and would eventually become Simon's biggest selling solo album with sales of over five million in the US alone. This song would get a re-release due to all the hubbub around the album and would do better on its second run (#23 Pop). It was a huge return for an artist whose career was considered over by many folks - including himself.

ReduxReview:  If I remember right, I bought this album not long after it came out. The reviews were excellent and I had heard this song and thought it was a fun little jam. The horns, the tin whistle solo, and the slammin' bass, along with Al and Betty of course, added up to make this one of the most inspired things Simon had done in ages. The production was beefy and added some nice weight to the song. Even Simon sounded invigorated in his delivery. This tune still sounds great today and it's hard not to enjoy the track when it comes on.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song mentions Al and Betty. Those names stemmed from something that happened to Simon. Back in 1970, Simon and his first wife Peggy Harper were throwing a party. A friend of theirs happened to bring along French composer/conductor Pierre Boulez. When it came time for Boulez to leave, he called Simon "Al" and Peggy "Betty." It wasn't that he forgot their names, it was just how he interpreted their names as he heard them with his French-leaning ears. The couple may have been introduced to Boulez as Paul and Petty, but he heard/interpreted their names to be Al and Betty. (Oddly, I lived across the street from a couple named Al and Betty for about 10 years...)  2) The first video made for this song was a performance-style one that was created from an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Simon didn't care for the video and wanted something else. A new concept was drawn up with the help of SNL's Loren Michaels and a new video was shot. In it, comedian Chevy Chase lip syncs the song while sitting in a plain white room. Simon joins him and the pair then play various instruments along with the track and even do a little dancing. The new video became popular and helped the song up the chart on its second run.

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Monday, July 8, 2019

"Wrap It Up" by The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Song#:  2823
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  50
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  This Texas blues band scored a left-field hit with "Tuff Enuff," a track from their fifth album of the same name. The tune would make it to #10 at Pop while reaching #4 at Rock. For a follow-up, this next song was selected. Again, it would do well at Rock reaching the Top 10 at #8. However, at Pop it didn't catch on as well and the single stopped at the halfway point. The two songs helped the band's album reach #13 and it would eventually go platinum.

ReduxReview:  I thought this was a good follow-up to "Tuff Enuff." The old soul tune (see below) had never really been a significant hit so it would have been fresh to a lot of listeners. I was familiar with it due to a Eurythmics cover, so I liked the song. The Thunderbirds do a good version and although it's not quite as sleek as their ZZ Top-ish produced first hit, I thought the tune might crack the Top 40. Rock radio picked up on it, but it seems pop listeners weren't as into it. I thought it was just as good as "Tuff Enuff."

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the soul duo Sam & Dave in 1968. The song was used as the b-side to their #9 Pop/#4 R&B hit "I Thank You." It also appeared on their album of the same name. While it would not chart on its own, it did become a popular song within the duo's catalog. It was written by Dave Porter and Isaac Hayes. Other artists recorded the tune and the first chart appearance for it came in 1970 when Archie Bell & the Drells took it to #33 R&B and #93 Pop. The Fabulous Thunderbirds would be the only other artist to reach the Pop chart with the song. Although it would not be released as a single, Eurythmics did a synthpop version of the song for their breakthrough album, 1983's Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

"Love Always" by El DeBarge

Song#:  2822
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  43
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  The tune "Who's Johnny" from the film Short Circuit would officially launch DeBarge's solo career. The dance-pop track would be a winner getting to #3 at Pop and #1 R&B. It was included on DeBarge's self-titled debut solo album as was this follow-up single. The song did quite well at R&B (#7) and AC (#8), but it just couldn't break wide at Pop and it stalled outside of the Top 40. Still, the two songs would help DeBarge's debut album reach gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  It seemed Motown desperately wanted to make El DeBarge a superstar. So much so that they didn't allow him to do anything on the album except sing. No songwriting and no production. Both of which he accomplished successfully on the DeBarge family albums. The LP is chock full of songwriting heavyweights along with top notch producers Peter Wolf and Jay Graydon, but what came out was a mish mash of meh and what made El DeBarge special was completely missing. He lucked out with the jam "Who's Johnny," but this next single was just so bland. Burt Bacharach (see below) is one of my songwriting heroes, but not every tune can be a winner and this was certainly one of his lesser compositions. It's forgettable and had no business being a single. Even DeBarge sounds bored. It's musical Sominex. Frankly, DeBarge deserved better than this. Actually, he deserved better than this whole album.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager with Bruce Roberts. Bacharach and Bayer Sager were at their peak as a writing team during this time. Their best moments were two big #1 hits: "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne & Friends and "On My Own" by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald. They racked up a few other chart entries including this one by El DeBarge. Bacharach and Bayer Sager were married from 1982 to 1991. Their songwriting partnership pretty much dissolved after their divorce ending a fruitful period for the writers. Their last charting song as a writing team seems to have been the 1991 tune "Ever Changing Times" by Aretha Franklin and Michael McDonald. The duet got to #19 at R&B.

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Saturday, July 6, 2019

"Twist and Shout" by The Beatles

Song#:  2821
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  23
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock 'n' Roll



Pop Bits:  After the Beatles split in 1970, they had a few scattered singles reach the Pop chart mainly do to compilation releases. In the 80s, they would have two chart entries. The first came in 1982 with the newly assembled "The Beatles' Movie Medley." The nostalgia factor of the track helped it get to #12. The other Beatles single to reach the Pop chart in the 80s was this reissue of "Twist and Shout," a song that originally peaked at #2 on the Pop chart back in 1964. The song became popular again due to its use in two hit 1986 films. The tune was prominently featured in the quirky comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which starred Matthew Broderick. In the film, Broderick lip syncs the song while riding a float in a parade. The song was also featured in Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School. In that film, Dangerfield actually sings the song in a bar with a band. (His take was issued out as a single, but it did not chart.) The party atmosphere generated by the song in both films grabbed a lot of attention and soon a new generation of listeners were requesting the tune along with those who had long been fans of the song and of the Beatles. Capitol Records took notice and reissued the original single of the song along with its original b-side "There's a Place" (#74 Pop, 1964). It gained enough airplay and sales to get it back on the Pop chart where it nearly cracked the Top 20. While this would be the Beatles last single to chart in the 80s, overall it would not be their last. In the 90s, the band would have three chart entries including two brand new songs that made their debuts on the Beatles' Anthology series. "Free As a Bird" would hit #6 in 1995 while "Real Love" would get to #11 the following year. Both would be gold sellers. To this posting date, these have been the last songs from the Beatles to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I was never a big fan of this song, but what made the Beatles' version was the ragged vocal done by John Lennon. Apparently, this was purposely saved as the last song to be recorded in the sessions for the band's Please Please Me album because producer George Martin knew it might wreck up Lennon's voice. Lennon was suffering from a cold and his throat was not in good shape when it came time to record this track. Lennon did one full take of the song and that was to be it. He tried a second take, but his voice was gone and that wrapped up the sessions for the album. Lennon apparently didn't like his voice on the track, but I still think it is what brought the song to life. His unhinged vocal gave the song it's party vibe. It was a true rock 'n' roll moment and I think it helped to make the song a long-lasting hit. Although I admire Lennon's vocal and it can be a fun listen, this song wouldn't make my list of favorites by the Beatles.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written in 1961 by Phil Medley and Bert Berns. It was recorded by The Top Notes that year with Phil Spector producing. Spector had become a house producer for Atlantic Records the previous year and had yet to develop is famous "wall of sound." The single failed to chart and Berns thought that was because Spector ruined the song. Berns then decided to produce his own version and got The Isley Brothers to record the tune. When released in 1962, it became the Isley's first major chart hit getting to #2 at R&B and #17 Pop. The Beatles based their version on the Isley's take. Many artists have covered the song but only the versions by Isley Brothers and the Beatles have charted at Pop. However, a rap style version by Salt-N-Pepa did chart at R&B in 1988. It got to #45 (#18 Rap/#4 UK).  2) This song was part of the famous Top 5 sweep accomplished by the Beatles in 1964. For the week of April 4, 1964, songs by the Beatles held the top five positions on the Pop chart. It was the first time any artist had been able to accomplish such a feat. The songs that created the sweep were "Can't Buy Me Love" (#1), "Twist and Shout" (#2), "She Loves You" (#3), "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (#4), and "Please Please Me" (#5). No other artist since has been able replicate this chart record. A couple of artists have come somewhat close. Both 50 Cent and Justin Bieber have lodged three songs simultaneously in the Top 5, but neither were close to equaling the Beatles' record.

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Friday, July 5, 2019

"Lonely Is the Night" by Air Supply

Song#:  2820
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  76
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  After four platinum (or multi-platinum) albums that yielded eight Top 10 singles, this Aussie outfit experienced a decline in popularity with their 1995 self-titled eighth album. By that point, the band had been reduced to the core duo of Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell. The LP went gold mainly on the strength of the #19 Pop/#3 AC single "Just As I Am," but without a bigger hit or further significant charting songs, it failed to reach the platinum levels of the group's previous efforts. The duo soldiered on and recorded their next effort, Hearts in Motion. The majority of the album was produced by Bernard Edwards (Chic, Power Station, Robert Palmer) while two songs, including this first single, were produced by John Boylan (Boston, Little River Band). Air Supply's support at AC continued with this tune getting to #12 on that chart. However, pop radio had lost its taste for the soft rock sounds of the duo and the song became the lowest peaking of their career on the Pop chart. It would end up being their final song to reach the Pop chart and their last Top 20 at AC. They would cap off their most successful era with a Christmas album in 1987. That LP would also be their final one for their home label of Arista. After a break, the due signed on with Giant Records, a Warner Bros. subsidiary, for five albums and then continued to record for a couple more indie labels. They would get a few more lower charting songs at AC, but the albums would basically come and go to little notice. They would retain a sizable fan base and would continue to be a solid concert draw over the years.

ReduxReview:  This tune sounds like it should have been a hit a decade earlier. It just has that 70s male vocal feel to it. It's not a bad tune and perhaps if someone like Eric Carmen had recorded the song rather than Air Supply, it might have done better on the chart. But Air Supply had a definite image problem at the time and it just wasn't cool for younger folks to like them. Their soft rock sounds were definitely a thing of the recent past and I almost think that even if they had recorded the most perfect pop song, radio and its listeners still would have ignored them. There was just no way they could compete with the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bon Jovi, etc. They hit their prime at the right time, but music changed too quickly in the 80s and Air Supply just couldn't keep up. Russell Hitchcock's 1988 solo album (see below) was much better (and underrated), but that one featured tunes by top songwriters whereas Graham Russell wrote the majority of Hearts in Motion and his songs just weren't up to par. Air Supply left an indelible mark on pop music and I appreciate their hits. Unfortunately, this last gasp wasn't one of their better moments.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Before the duo left Arista, lead singer Russell Hitchcock made an attempt at a solo career. He recorded and released a self-titled debut album in 1988. The LP boasted songs by quality hit makers like Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg, Albert Hammond, George Merrill, Shannon Rubicam, John Bettis, and Michael Masser, along with a few remakes including the single "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted." That tune became a minor #39 entry at AC. With little radio support to help out, the album failed to chart and quickly disappeared. Before Hitchcock would return to Air Supply in 1991, he would record a one-off tune for the soundtrack to the 1990 hit film Arachnophobia. Written by Diane Warren, "Caught in Your Web (Swear to Your Heart)" would be pushed out for airplay to AC stations and the song would end up peaking at #9 on the chart.  2) This song would be remade by a few artists including Night Rider/Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. Hasselhoff began a music career in 1985 while Night Rider was still on the air. His first album didn't get anywhere in the US, but it surprisingly made him a star in Austria and Germany. He remade this Air Supply song for his third album Looking for Freedom. That album's title track would end up being his biggest hit reaching #1 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. He would continue to record over the years gathering four Top 10 hits in Austria along with three #1 albums. Meanwhile in the US, none of his albums or songs would do anything and his musical career would be the butt of many jokes. Yet the Hoff would remain a popular celebrity and subject of a lot of tabloid stories.

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

"Am I Forgiven" by Isle of Man

Song#:  2819
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  90
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Rock, New Wave



Pop Bits:  Not a lot is written about this obscure band. It is known that it consisted of four musicians who were supposedly from four different countries (including the US) and that they were discovered by Spencer Proffer. Proffer was a producer and record exec who had his own Columbia-associated label called Pasha (home to metal acts like Quiet Riot and W.A.S.P.). The band members co-wrote all the tunes for their self-titled debut album with Proffer assisting on a couple while producing it all. This first single was issued out but it couldn't do much except spend a month near the bottom of the chart. Surprisingly, the album sold a few copies and made it onto the Album chart at #110. Further singles failed to make an impression and that was the end of Isle of Man.

ReduxReview:  Isle of Man were an unusual band. All the tracks from their debut are available on YouTube and I listened to the album. It does have an international new wave flare about it. The songs are not all that strong, but the arrangements make them interesting. They were a bit unique and I could hear how they might have attracted Proffer. This song was probably the best contender for a single, but it just didn't quite have the hooky gusto needed to move ahead of the other noise on the chart. These guys had the goods, but I don't think the project fully gelled into something that would attract a wide audience. Still, an interesting find and one worth seeking out.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Band members included Robere Parlez, Raun, Jamie Roberto, and Ronnie Lee Sage. Most info on them states that they were from four different countries - France, Italy, Nicaragua, and the US. If I were to guess the possible origins of each member, the way I list the countries would coincide with the way I listed the names. However, some further research shows that lead singer Robere Parlez may not be from France. Not long after Isle of Man broke up, Parlez joined up with another band called the Lonesome Romeos. This time around, he was listed as Robert Parlee. I then found a little bio about Robert Parlee who was a member of a California band called Clementine. The bio stated Parlee was born in Pasadena, Californa, and was a member of Isle of Man and the Lonesome Romeos. Maybe his family background was French and he adopted the name Robere Parlez to go with the multiple country theme of Isle of Man, but it seems he definitely was an American. As for the other members of Isle of Man, who knows if they were actually from their respective countries or if it was all just a press gimmick (I'm thinking so to fit with the Isle of Man name). Parlee did get a second shot at stardom with the Lonesome Romeos. They were signed to Curb Records and issued out albums in 1990 and 1995. Nothing much came from the LPs and the band broke up.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

"Stuck with You" by Huey Lewis & the News

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2818
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  42
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The band's 1983 album Sports was a major success reaching #1 and eventually selling over seven million copies. It was helped along by four singles that reached the Top 10. Not long after the album wound down, the band contributed a couple of songs to the soundtrack of the hit film Back to the Future. Their single from the film, "The Power of Love," would be their first #1 and second gold record. The band then needed to get a follow-up together and retreated to the studio to record. It would take a year before their next effort, Fore!, would be ready. This first single got things started and it seemed that folks were ready for Lewis and the band to return. After a high debut, the song made its way to the top to the Pop chart where it stayed for three weeks. In doing so, it would just edge out "The Power of Love" to become the band's biggest chart hit. It would also reach #1 at AC while getting to #2 at Rock. The hit would help push the album to #1 later in the fall.

ReduxReview:  For me, the band's formula was beginning to wear thin. This wasn't all that different from the doo-wop, retro-rock tunes they had already churned out (i.e., "If This Is It" from their Sports album). I wasn't buying it but plenty of people were. I can't say I blame them though. It's a fun little head-bobbin' track that appealed to a wide audience. At the time they knew how to dish out a crowd pleaser and this one fit the bill. It worked out well and got them a second #1, but I didn't really care for it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Huey Lewis goes disco?  It happened. Back in 1978, Lewis was playing a regular Monday night gig at a local club north of San Francisco. It was during this time that what would become the News would begin to form. Later in 1979, they became Huey Lewis & the American Express. They ended up recording a one-off single credited to American Express that consisted of a disco version of the famous theme from the film Exodus, which they titled "Exodisco." The flip side was more of a party/dance track title "Kick Back." The single, oddly picked up by Phonogram in the UK and put out on the Mercury label there, went nowhere. While "Exodisco" was just a jokey lark they did at the time, it ended up helping them out. It wasn't long after that the band signed on with Chrysalis and began work on their 1980 self-titled debut album under their new name of Huey Lewis & the News.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"Dreamtime" by Daryl Hall

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2817
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  54
Peak:  5
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Psychedelic Pop



Pop Bits:  After a run of twelve Top 10 singles and four platinum albums, the duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates decided to take a little break. During their time apart, Hall chose to work on material of his own that was different from the hit-making blue-eyed soul he'd been churning out with Oates since the decade began. Being a superstar gave him the clout to do this and Hall signed up to do a solo album with producers Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) and Tom "T-Bone" Wolk. The results would be titled Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine. Although Hall probably had leeway to do most anything he wanted for the LP, it still needed to have some commercial-leaning tracks to bring in an audience. This first single seemed to fit that bill. It had a radio-friendly sound while also showing off a different side of Hall's music. The dense, psych-pop tune with its strings and effects was unlike anything Hall & Oates had done over the years and the tune received a positive response. It easily made the Pop Top 10 while getting to #24 at AC and #36 Dance. It was a good start, but the trick for Hall would be to keep up the momentum of the hit and truly establish himself as a viable solo artist.

ReduxReview:  Anyone looking for H&O's trademark pop/blue-eyes soul was not going to find it in this bombastic track. Hall, Stewart, and Wolk go balls to the wall trying to make an epic out of this tune. By the end of it there are layered vocals, effects, strings, and even a harpsichord all swirling about in a dizzying Beatles-like manner. The heavy production was something different for Hall and it mostly works. The hook was good enough to lure in listeners and it seemed the eclectic ending worked fine on the radio. For me, I thought the massive production was a bit too much for the song. To make an epic you have to write an epic and I don't think this tune fits in that category. It was a bit weak and it just seemed the song was desperately trying to get some air above all the blustering production waves. Still, it's an interesting relic of the day and it showed that Hall had more to offer beyond his usual rock 'n' soul.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Since Daryl Hall and John Oates were so successful as a duo in the 80s, many folks assumed that Hall's Three Hearts album was his first solo effort. However, it was actually his second solo release. In the mid-70s, the duo had some success with three Top 10 hits. Later in 1977, they were struggling to continue their success. Feeling the need to do something artistically different, Hall then decided to record a solo album. On board for production was former King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. Hall and Fripp and met a few years early and wanted to work together. Hall's solo disc gave them the opportunity. While the resulting album, Sacred Songs, had a few pop-oriented tracks, the balance of it had a more experimental art-pop feel, which was certainly different from the material Hall had been doing with Oates. Unfortunately, Hall's label, RCA, didn't like what they heard. They considered it "non-commercial" and refused to release it thinking that it would not be a success and that it would have a negative affect on the H&O fan base. Hall and Fripp retaliated by sending out copies of the disc to journalists and DJs. After pressure from industry folks and even letter writing campaigns from fans, RCA finally relented and released the album in 1980. The album's lone single, "Something in 4/4 Time," failed to chart, but the album did sell a few copies and it got to #58.

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Monday, July 1, 2019

"Press" by Paul McCartney

Song#:  2816
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  66
Peak:  21
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Following the lackluster performance of his movie project Give My Regards to Broad Street and its associated soundtrack, McCartney began to make plans for his next studio album. Prior to it, McCartney scored a one-off hit with "Spies Like Us" (#7) the theme from the film of the same name. That set him up well for a return and McCartney then began to record his new album Press to Play. For the LP, McCartney brought on board producer Hugh Padgham, whose career was in high gear thanks to his work with The Police, Genesis, Phil Collins, and others. McCartney thought the hot producer could give his tunes a slick, mid-80s sheen that would keep his music current and relevant. The first test was this lead single. It got a bit of attention, but ultimately it didn't do well stopping short of the Pop Top 20. It was the first time a lead single from a McCartney album (including with Wings) did not make the Top 20. The lack of a more significant hit single along with mixed critical reviews took a toll on sales of the album. It would stop at #30, his worst showing for any of his post-Beatles albums, and it would be his first to miss the gold level sales mark.

ReduxReview:  Well, McCartney certainly got all 80s modern on this one. It's full of synthpop flourishes and dense production. While the production/arrangement might have worked for another pop tune, I don't think it was a good fit for McCartney's little ditty. It all just overwhelmed the tune, which wasn't that strong to begin with. While I applaud McCartney for trying to keep up with music trends, he needed to write songs that would work with the production. You can't take a typical quirky McCartney composition and just stuff it into a synthpop arrangement and expect it to work. This ended up being an interesting relic in his catalog, but at the time it was just a failed attempt to keep up with the kids.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  For the album, McCartney co-wrote several songs with former 10cc vocalist/guitarist Eric Stewart. Although Stewart had worked on McCartney's previous two albums as a guitarist and vocalist, Press to Play was the first time he wrote songs with McCartney. Six of their tunes made the original release of the album. One other song would be used as a b-side for a single while three others would show up as bonus tracks on a reissue of the LP. Stewart would join up with a reformed 10cc in 1991. That band would record albums in 1992 and 1995. Leftover songs from Stewart and McCartney's Press to Play collaborations would be recorded for the albums. One song would receive additional help from 10cc's Graham Gouldman and be put on 1992's "...Meanwhile." Another tune would be recorded for 1995's "Mirror Mirror," 10cc's final album. McCartney would make a guest appearance on that track and another on the album. (Note: "Press" was one of four on the album solely written by McCartney).

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

"Heaven in Your Eyes" by Loverboy

Song#:  2815
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  72
Peak:  12
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The timing of this song was just about perfect for Loverboy. They had just exhausted singles from their double-platinum LP Lovin' Every Minute of It, which featured two Top 10 hits including "This Could Be the Night" (#10), so this tune from the soundtrack to the hit film Top Gun was a nice filler in between albums. Like "This Could Be the Night," the song was a pop-leaning power ballad that was a solid fit for radio. With the film being a box office smash and the soundtrack album already generating two hits, this third single from the LP seemed destined to do well. While it would end up just missing out on the Top 10, it was still a good effort from the Canadian band becoming their eighth Pop Top 40 entry.

ReduxReview:  Loverboy showed that they were making a bigger bid for the mainstream with "This Could Be the Night" and this single pushed that way even further. The tie-in to a commercial soundtrack to a hit film certainly didn't hurt either. However, I think a lot of their core fans were starting to call foul as this really wasn't the edgy rock band who tossed out stadium anthems like "Working for the Weekend." I think they sensed that and their next LP avoided the romantic pop ballads. Still, what they did here was really quite good. It's a nicely written tune (I especially like the bridge) that's not overly sentimental...well, maybe a little. The band performs it well and tries to keep some of their rock sound incorporated. They made the most of an opportunity and it work out well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was originally written by Canadian songwriters Mae Moore and John Dexter. Loverboy's Mike Reno and Paul Dean made adjustments and got writing credits as well after the band picked up the tune. It would be Moore's first major hit as a songwriter and it would provide a launching board for her own career as a recording artist. She signed with Epic Records and in 1990 issued out a debut solo album titled Oceanview Motel. Three singles from the LP would make the Canadian Top 30. The following year she would receive a Juno nomination for Most Promising Female Vocalist of the Year. Her next LP, Bohemia, would do better with two singles barely missing the Top 10. She finally got her first Top 10 hit with "Genuine" (#6) a track from her third album Dragonfly. Oddly, despite the hit and a good selling album, she was dropped from the label. Moore would continue to perform and record some indie albums after her days in the major label spotlight.

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

"Ruthless People" by Mick Jagger

Song#:  2814
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  51
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Although Jagger would find his name in the Pop Top 10 as part of a couple one-off duets ("State of Shock" with the Jacksons and "Dancing in the Street" with David Bowie), as a solo artist he had yet to reach those heights completely on his own. His best effort was the #12 "Just Another Night" from his 1985 solo debut album She's the Boss. Prior to him recording his second solo album, Jagger got another shot to get into the Top 10. He was tapped to record the title track to the black comedy film Ruthless People. On board with Jagger for the song were co-writers Daryl Hall and Eurythmics' Dave Stewart. Stewart and Jagger would produce the tune. It would be the second single released from the soundtrack album following Billy Joel's "Modern Woman" (#10). The song would do fine at Rock getting to #14, but it flopped at Pop and couldn't crack the top half of the chart. The results left Jagger still seeking a solo Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  The elements were all in place for this. Jagger, Hall, Stewart, a great title and a hit movie. Yet it didn't fully gel. The chorus was good, but the verse really dragged the song down. It also tried so hard to be a groovin' R&B/blues track and it didn't quite get there. All three artists, especially Jagger, knew their way around some blues-rock, but this one felt a bit stiff and contained. It needed to be looser with a lot more grit. Even Jagger sounds held back. I'm guessing that had to do with Stewart's rigid production and perhaps expectations that these three stars were going to make a mainstream hit. It's an interesting track and not a bad listen, but ultimately one that wasn't going to succeed as a single.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Also including on the Ruthless People soundtrack album was a track by Bruce Springsteen. "Stand on It" was originally recorded in 1983 during the sessions for his Born in the U.S.A. album. While the song would not end up on the mega-selling LP, it would be used as the b-side to the album's fifth single, "Glory Days" (#5). Country artist Mel McDaniel would record the tune for his 1986 album Just Can't Sit Down Music. It would be released as the LP's first single and it would reach #12 on the Country chart. McDaniel would earn nine Country Top 10's throughout the 80s including his biggest hit, 1984's #1 "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On." That song was originally pitched to Conway Twitty and then to John Anderson. Both turned it down and that ended up being fortunate for McDaniel who then scored his first and only Country #1 with the tune.  2) This song was redone in a parody version titled "Toothless People" by Weird Al Yankovic for his 1986 album Polka Party!. When selecting which songs to parody for the LP, Yankovic had heard Jagger's tune and expectations were that it would be a hit. So he sought permission to do a parody and Jagger agreed. Unfortunately, Jagger's single failed and that left Yankovic in a quandary. Usually Yankovic will parody a big hit song because then people can relate the original and the parody. It makes sense. But with far, far fewer people knowing "Ruthless People," would Yankovic's fans even realize that "Toothless People" was a parody? Yankovic thought about not recording the parody, but since superstar Jagger had actually given him permission to do it, he decided to go ahead as planned.

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Friday, June 28, 2019

"So Far, So Good" by Sheena Easton

Song#:  2813
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  84
Peak:  43
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Easton's 1985 album Do You would be a gold seller despite the lack of a major hit. It's first single, the #29 "Do It for Love," was the LP's only Top 40 entry, so the gold-level sales certainly reflected Easton's popularity at the time. As she was prepping her next album, Easton was called upon to contribute a song to the soundtrack of the Rob Lowe/Demi Moore rom-com About Last Night... She recorded this tune, written by Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow, with producer Narada Michael Walden. It would then be issued out as the second single from the soundtrack following John Waite's "If Anybody Had a Heart" (#76). While it would perform better that Waite's effort, it was still shut out of the Top 40. It would do slightly better at Dance (#32) and AC (#35).

ReduxReview:  This catchy, dance-pop tune was a little different from the more urban-flavored hits Easton had been pushing out. It sounded like it could have been a track written for Whitney Houston. It had that "How Will I Know"/"I Wanna Dance with Somebody" feel (both of those written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam). Yet this song was not quite as good as those hits and Easton, while wonderful, was not Houston. Therefore, it couldn't cut a path of its own and stalled early.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Along with this one, Easton contributed one other song to the film soundtrack. It was another Weil/Snow composition titled "Natural Love." The album also featured tracks by Bob Seger, Jermaine Jackson, Paul Davis, and J.D. Souther. Also included was a track by the New York City rock 'n' roll band The Del-Lords. Led by Scott Kempner, the band became known for their raucous combination of garage rock, country, blues, and folk; a style that would later be described as roots rock. They were signed to EMI America and issued out a 1984 debut album title Frontier Days. Their second LP, Johnny Comes Marching Home, was produced by Pat Benatar's husband/co-writer/producer Neil Geraldo. It featured the track "True Love," which was picked up for use on the About Last Night... soundtrack. Their third album, Based on a True Story, would their most critically successful LP, but it didn't result in any significant sales and after one more LP, the band would split. The band got their name from film director Del Lord. Lord was best known for directing short films featuring the Three Stooges. From 1935 to 1948, Lord worked with the Stooges on over 30 short films.

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

"Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent" by Gwen Guthrie

Song#:  2812
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  91
Peak:  42
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  Guthrie began learning music and singing at an early age and by the 70s she was performing with several vocal groups. Guthrie then got into jingle singing and also began writing songs with her boyfriend Haras Frye. One of their tunes, "Supernatural Thing," was picked up by singer Ben E. King. After not having a major hit for nearly fifteen years, King's recording of the song made it to #1 at R&B and #5 Pop in 1975. Other artists would pick up their tunes and it wasn't long before Guthrie was branching out on her own as a solo artist. She signed with Island Records in 1982 and issued out a self-titled debut album. It sold some copies as did her next two LPs for the label. Some of her singles made the R&B and Dance charts, but she still hadn't been able to score an across-the-board hit. That changed when she moved over to Polydor Records and recorded this song for her album Good to Go Lover. The song was a smash at R&B and Dance getting to #1 on both charts. It crossed over to Pop and nearly broke into the Top 40. It would end up being her biggest single and her best-selling album (#20 R&B/#89 Pop). Unfortunately, she couldn't capitalize on the momentum of the hit and further singles were minor entries at R&B. After two more albums that failed to produce hits, her major label recording days came to an end. Sadly, Guthrie would pass away in 1999 from uterine cancer.

ReduxReview:  Guthrie wrote this sassy groove and it easily became an oft-referenced R&B/Dance classic of the decade. Guthrie had worked with the Jamaican team of Sly & Robbie for a couple of albums and many of her tracks had more of a dance-R&B-dub feel to them. She took over as producer on her third album and started to shift towards a modern R&B sound. It paid off when she also produced Good to Go Lover and came up with this hit. It topped the R&B and Dance charts (rightfully so), but it should have been a much bigger hit at Pop, especially with artists like Janet Jackson breaking through to Pop and MTV at the time. The song was slightly controversial when it came out as it seemed the person in the song would only go out with rich men - aka a gold digger. I'm not sure if that was Guthrie's intent was with the lyrics, but I always saw it as about a woman who is trying to protect herself and not get involved with a slacker that won't contribute anything to the relationship. It's kind of like a predecessor to TLC's 1999 hit "No Scrubs." The scrubs were out there and I don't blame Guthrie for wanting to avoid them.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Guthrie's first real major break came in 1974 when she got a call to sing backup vocals on an Aretha Franklin track. Franklin was recording the song "I'm in Love" for her album Let Me in Your Life. Apparently, a scheduled backup singer got sick and they needed a replacement quickly and Guthrie got the call. She sang backup on the track alongside Cissy Houston. The song would be the second single released from Franklin's album and it would reach #1 at R&B and #19 Pop. The tune was written by Bobby Womack and was originally recorded by Wilson Pickett in 1967. Pickett's version got to #4 R&B and #45 Pop. Guthrie would sing backup vocals for other artists including for Madonna on her 1983 debut album.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"Spirit in the Sky" by Doctor and the Medics

Song#:  2811
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  69
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Glam Rock



Pop Bits:  UK-born Clive Jackson was not a singer and didn't know how to play any instruments. However, that didn't stop him from getting into music and he began by spinning records as a DJ. He began going by the name the Doctor and started to wear kabuki-inspired makeup. As 1981 rolled in, he had formed a band called Doctor and the Medics. They began playing clubs doing covers of 60s psychedelic rock tunes along with some offbeat originals. Their first single was the indie released "The Druids Are Here." The band gained a following thanks to their retro-rock sound, their glam look, and their performances which included two (originally three) female dancers that went by the odd name of The Anadin Brothers (they would eventually sing backup as well). The band would get signed to IRS Records in 1985 and then release two EPs including one produced by XTC's Andy Partridge. The EPs sold pretty well and that led to them recording their full-length debut album Laughing at the Pieces. This first single was issued out and it ended up going Top 10 in many European countries and #1 in several including the UK. The song made it across the pond, but the reception was not all that good. The track was able to reach #27 at Dance while staying in the bottom third of the Pop chart. A follow-up single, "Burn," couldn't do much of anything (#29 UK). Same with a failed attempt to cover ABBA's "Waterloo," which got to #45 in the UK. A second album disappeared quickly and the original band fell apart. The Doctor would still keep a version of the band going over the years. They would recording a couple of albums and continue to tour.

ReduxReview:  Except for having a more modern production, there's not much difference between this track and the original (see below). I would guess if you were a fan of the original, this one is not gonna do much for you. I find it to be a rather bland cover and it seems US listeners thought so too since they did not push it into the Top 10 like Europe did. I think the nostalgia factor kicked in over there and made the song a hit along with the glam look of the band. Had to have been. Otherwise, there is no reason this tepid cover should have been a hit.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally written and performed by Norman Greenbaum. His 1969 version would become a psych-rock classic that got to #3 in 1970 and went gold. Although he would have two low charting follow-ups, Greenbaum became known as a one-hit wonder. Greenbaum was an original member of the jug band Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band. They had a minor single with the Greenbaum-written tune "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago," which got to #52 in 1966. Many artists have covered "Spirit in the Sky" over the years, but besides Greenbaum and Doctor and the Medics, the only other artist to have a version reach the Pop chart was R&B/gospel singer Dorothy Morrison. Morrison joined the Edwin Hawkins Singers in the late 60s and she was the lead singer on their Grammy-winning #4 gold record "Oh Happy Day" (1969). She left for a solo deal and "Spirit in the Sky" was the second single from her debut album Brand New Day. Her version of the tune barely scrapped the Pop chart at #99.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

"Love Zone" by Billy Ocean

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2810
Date:  07/26/1986
Debut:  65
Peak:  10
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm



Pop Bits:  Ocean's sixth album, Love Zone, had already spawned two hits; the #2 Pop/#6 R&B "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" and the #1 Pop/#1 R&B ballad "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)." His previous album, Suddenly, featured three Top 10 hits, so Ocean hoped that the same thing would happen for his new album. Indeed this title track third single did well enough to just scrape the Pop Top 10. It did even better at R&B where it became his third chart topper. The trio of hits would help make the album a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  I admit that I kind of dismissed this track when it first came out. For some reason I just couldn't get into it and I thought the title was silly. Years later I recognized that it's a pretty slick jam that sets a sensual quiet storm mood. Ocean sells the song well and it's hard to not sit back and sway along with the rolling groove of the tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Ocean is not the only major recording star to have been born in Trinidad. Rap sensation Nicki Minaj was born in Trinidad in 1982 - just two years before Ocean's breakthrough #1 hit "Caribbean Queen." Her mom moved to the States and established a home before bringing the rest of the family over. Minaj arrived in Queens, New York, when she was five-years-old. She would later graduate from LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She originally wanted to act, but ended up in a rap group. That led to her releasing her own mixtapes in 2007 and by 2010 she had released her multi-platinum debut album Pink Friday.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

"Velcro Fly" by ZZ Top

Song#:  2809
Date:  07/26/1986
Debut:  72
Peak:  35
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  After releasing an uncharacteristic ballad, "Rough Boy," as the third single from their multi-platinum album Afterburner, ZZ Top got back into their 80's-enhanced blues rock with this follow-up. Although it didn't hit the Top 10 at Rock like the album's previous singles, it still did well reaching #15. At Pop it got to #35. It would be the first and last time ZZ Top would get four singles from one album into the Top 40. This song would also be the band's last to reach the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  I thought the band jumped the shark with this track from the album. It was just a little too cutesy wink-wink naughty with a velcro fly offering easier access than a zipper. It even featured a real velco rip as a sound effect. Their shtick was wearing thin and I wasn't buying it. However, in later years I can recognize that it's one of the better tracks on the album. It's hooky, well-produced, and kinda fun. The problem is that it just doesn't offer anything different from their previous hits. It was business as usual.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was mentioned in the Stephen King novel The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands. In the book, a group known as the ka-tet have found their way to the decaying city of Lud. On occasion, what are called "god-drums" are blasted across the city. This entices fighting in the city. One of the members of the ka-tet later recognizes that the "god-drums" sound is the drum track from this song.  2)  Like several of their previous videos, this one featured women dancing. It was choreographed by soon-to-be pop star Paula Abdul. Even the gents from ZZ Top get in on a little of the dance as well. Besides some visual references, the video doesn't continue the story of the Eliminator car from their previous videos.

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

"Walk This Way" by Run-D.M.C.

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2808
Date:  07/26/1986
Debut:  73
Peak:  4
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rap, Rap-Rock



Pop Bits:  This Hollis, Queens, New York, trio consisted of rappers Joseph Simmons (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (D.M.C.), and DJ Jason Mizell (Jam Master Jay). Managed and promoted by Simmons' brother Russell, the trio got signed to Profile Records in 1983 and issued out the single "It's Like That." It was not like other rap tracks of the day. It had a harder edge with a minimal arrangement that featured forceful vocals where Run and D.M.C. would switch off lines and also rap together. It wasn't like the (now called) old school rap of the day and it became a surprise hit at R&B reaching #15 on the chart. A second single, "Hard Times," nearly cracked the R&B Top 10 at #11. The results got Profile to spring for a full album and a self-titled debut album appeared in 1984. It would be the first hip-hop album to receive a gold certification. Their next LP, King of Rock, would raise their popularity further. It contained three R&B Top 20's and that would help make it the first hip-hop album to go platinum. The trio were redefining the genre and the hip-hop culture. For their next album, Raising Hell, the group collaborated with newbie producer Ruck Rubin. The LP was nearly done, but Rubin thought they should experiment with a rap-rock hybrid tune that might bring rock music listeners on board. Rubin suggested a cover of Aerosmith's 1975 hit "Walk This Way." At first, the group thought they would just rap over a sample of the song, but Rubin wanted them to do an actual cover. In addition, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry would be brought in to do vocals and guitar. The guys were reluctant at first, but finally agreed to the collaboration. After the track was done, the group weren't even sure it would get on the album. Not only did it make the final track listing, but it was selected to be the LP's second single. It was a hit at R&B becoming their second Top 10 on that chart reaching #8. As Rubin predicted, the Aerosmith angle helped to take the single into the mainstream and it cracked the Pop Top 10 while getting to #6 at Dance. It was boosted by a popular video that featured Tyler and Perry. It broke ground by being the first rap video to be played on MTV. The hit would send the album to #1 R&B and #3 Pop. Eventually, it would become the first multi-platinum selling hip-hop album. It also got them a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  It's kind of hard to describe what it was like back in the day to first hear this. The melding of rap with rock on a classic rock tune that featured two of the song's original performers was kind of mind blowing. The guys couldn't have picked a better song for a collaboration. The guitar riff was sample-worthy to begin with and Steven Tyler's original vocals were nearly done in a rap style. The song was influential in so many ways. It broke barriers and took rap to the mainstream. Run-D.M.C. had already taken rap to a new level and this track pushed the envelope even further. Not only that, it was just a fun listen and it ignited a fire under Aerosmith's ass to get going again.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a cover of a song originally recorded by Aerosmith in 1975. It was first issued out as the second single from their album Toys in the Attic after their #36 entry "Sweet Emotion." It initially did not chart. After their next album Rocks became a hit, this song was reissued as a single. On its second run, the song made it to #10 becoming the band's second Top 10 hit. Apparently, Jam Master Jay was playing around with the song's opening lick for potential use but didn't know who it was by as the disc he was using had no label. Rick Rubin heard Jay playing the disc and knowing exactly what it was introduced the guys to the full song and Aerosmith. From there, this cover was born. The song was the beginning of Aerosmith's revival. Their career had been floundering for years and addictions were also taking a toll. Around the time of this single, the band was cleaning up and this song along with the MTV exposure helped to make their next album Permanent Vacation a major hit.   2) The first single from the Raising Hell album was "My Adidas." It became their first R&B Top 10 getting to #5. At the time, Adidas shoes were not all that popular, yet the group became known for wearing them (without laces because they weren't allowed in jails). The song highlighted the brand and it wasn't long before the company knocked on Run-D.M.C.'s door with a lucrative endorsement deal. The brand then became synonymous with the trio and with hip-hop culture.

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