Saturday, May 11, 2019

"Sweet Freedom" by Michael McDonald

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

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

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

ReduxRating:  8/10

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


1 comment:

  1. A strong 8/10 for me, I always liked this song a lot, this song is definitely a feelgood tune and I think this song coming out early in the summertime helped this song become a major hit, oddly when I first heard of it I actually thought it came out sometime around 1983/84, not 1986