Monday, November 4, 2019

"Heartache Away" by Don Johnson

Song#:  2942
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  56
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  Actor and sometimes musician Johnson used his newfound success on the TV show Miami Vice to fulfill his dream of being a recording artist. It paid off when the title track first single from his debut album Heartbeat made it to #5. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The blues-ish feel of the song was different from the straight ahead hooky pop/rock of "Heartbeat" and it proved less successful with the song locked out of the top half of the Pop chart. Still, the TV show and "Heartbeat" were enough to move people to buy the album and it would reach #17 and eventually go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was not a good follow up single. Johnson had set himself up with a contemporary pop/rock sound and he needed to follow through with that or change tempo with a ballad. Instead this Springsteen-lite track with a bluesy edge was released and it wasn't what folks wanted. It was fine for an album track, but it just wasn't the right follow-up single. Johnson also souned a bit drowned out by the production. He got a brilliant artist to do background vocals (see below), but it just made his voice sound weaker. For a vanity project, Heartbeat wasn't too bad of an album, but Johnson didn't necessarily have the chops to sustain a career as a recording artist.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song featured background vocals by Bonnie Raitt. She also performed on another track on the album, the Tom Petty-written "Lost in Your Eyes." It came at a time when Raitt was in a difficult period in her career. Luckily, she would go through a major comeback with her 1989 Grammy-winning album Nick of Time.  2) It would take three years for Johnson to follow up his debut album. By the time '89 rolled around, Miami Vice was in its final season with the series' finale airing in May. With the show gone, Johnson didn't have the advantage of the extra exposure it provided as he did when he released his debut album, so his next LP had to stand on its own. In the fall of '89 he issued out Let It Roll. The first single released from it was a remake of the 1966 Aaron Neville #2 hit "Tell It Like It Is." The track was ignored and it failed to chart, as did the album. To-date it would be Johnson's last album. However, he would get one more single on the Pop chart. At the time, he was dating Barbra Streisand and a duet they did, "Till I Loved You," would make it to #22 (#3 Pop) in 1988. Streisand also appeared on Johnson's album supplying backing vocals for the track "What If It Takes All Night."


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