Friday, September 27, 2019

"Like Flames" by Berlin

Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2904
Date:  10/25/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  82
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Berlin hit a career peak when their Top Gun soundtrack tune, "Take My Breath Away," hit #1. The track would also go on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song. While the band had been divided on whether or not to record the song, as they didn't write it and it wasn't indicative of their sound, they could agree that the hit certainly put them in a new spotlight. More people would be paying attention to their next move. Yet when it came time to record their next album, the band (reduced to a core trio now) found themselves at odds again on direction. In the end, they brought in producer Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Kiss) and shifted from the new wave synthpop that got them noticed to an edgier rock sound. The album would be titled Count Three and Pray and this first single announced the band's new direction. Unfortunately, it seemed their new sound wasn't what folks wanted and the single disappeared after a few short weeks on the chart. The album sold a few copies thanks to the inclusion of "Take My Breath Away," but it stopped at a minor #61 and failed to reach any sales certifications like their previous two discs (gold and platinum). A second single failed to chart and Berlin's momentum after their smash hit quickly dissipated. The failure of the LP caused further internal struggles and later in '87 the band called it quits. A hits compilation, Best of Berlin 1979-1988 would be released in '88 and it would eventually be a gold seller.

ReduxReview:  I've always been a bit torn about Count Three and Pray. I do think it was absolutely the wrong album to release as the time. They were coming off a huge international synthpop hit and radically changing their sound was a mistake. Not only did they alienate folks who loved "Take My Breath Away," but they also lost a chunk of their fans who jammed to the band's new wave synthpop. An intense rock album wasn't what either wanted. The album was basically a career (and band) killer. What I get torn about is that I absolutely loved the LP. I played that thing constantly and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites (still is). While I still adored their previous synthpop discs, this album took the band to a whole new level. Ezrin gave them a meaty sound and Nunn never sounded better. Their lyrics were sharper and there was a new maturity showing through. They were forced to put "Take My Breath Away" on the LP, but it really shouldn't have been there as it didn't belong. Besides that, the album is an absolute gem. This lead single got things revved up in a big way and I used to play it about as loud as my car speakers would tolerate. I wasn't sure if it would be a hit, but I thought it would do far better than #82. I just think that since it wasn't "Take My Breath Away, Pt. 2," people didn't want to hear it and DJs didn't want to play it. What a shame. It's a rockin' tune that deserved a better fate, as did the album.


Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) After Berlin folded, lead singer Terri Nunn settled on a solo career and put out a debut album in 1991 titled Moment of Truth. It failed to chart. She would then buy the Berlin name and form a new band. Under that moniker, Nunn would release three albums. In 2019, Nunn got back together with original members John Crawford (who wrote the majority of the band's songs) and keyboardist David Diamond. They released a reunion album titled Transcendance.  2) This song wouldn't quite be Berlin's last to reach the Pop chart. In 1992, a remix of "Take My Breath Away" was issued out. It was credited to Berlin featuring Terri Nunn. This was most likely spurred by the song becoming a hit again in the UK the previous year. The song was originally a #1 hit when first released '86. Then near the end of 1990, the song regained popularity thanks to Top Gun being aired on TV in Britain along with its use in a car commercial (for Peugeot). A reissue of the original song got it back on the chart where it peaked at #3.  3) "Like Flames" has been covered by a couple of artists. In 2000, rocker Alannah Myles (of "Black Velvet" fame) released a version. A German broadcast network hired producer Frank Peterson to record the song for use during their coverage of European football. Peterson got Myles to sing the tune. It briefly charted in Germany (#98). Dutch eurodance group Twenty 4 Seven recorded a version in 2007. It did well reaching #20 on the Dutch chart.


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