Saturday, April 6, 2019

"One Hit (To the Body)" by The Rolling Stones

Song#:  2730
Date:  05/17/1986
Debut:  71
Peak:  28
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The Stones got their biggest hit since 1981 with their remake of "Harlem Shuffle," the first single from their album Dirty Work. The track made it to #5 becoming their twenty-second Top 10 hit. For a follow-up this next single was released. It was another winner at Rock getting to #3, but the song stumbled a bit on the Pop chart and could only manage a Top 30 showing. No further singles would be issued out from the album, however the track "Winning Ugly" would reach #10 at Rock. The album would be their second in a row to hit #4 and be certified platinum.

ReduxReview:  The rock of this track is more in-tune with the 80s Stones than the meh "Harlem Shuffle" cover. I prefer it over the other, but it is still not in the same league as their classics from the decade like "Start Me Up." It's definitely a track that has gotten lost in the Stones' catalog. Although it was a hit at Rock and a mild entry at Pop, it has been left off of the band's compilation albums, sometimes in favor of lower or non-charting tracks. While it is not a memorable, career-defining tune, it's also not a bad track that fits just fine in any Stones playlist - especially one from this era of the band.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia: Pianist Ian Stewart was an original member of The Rolling Stones when they first came together in 1962. The six-man band was beginning to make waves, but in 1963 their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, decided that the group should only have five members and singled out Stewart as the one to be expelled as he didn't fully fit in with the look of the band. Oldham offered Stewart a continued position with the band, but as a road manager and occasionally piano player on recordings. Apparently Stewart wasn't too pissed to be sacked from the band because he agreed to stay on under the terms Oldham stated. Stewart kept his role with the band for the next two decades and would play piano on most all of their albums including Dirty Work. Unfortunately, it would be his last album with the band. In December of '85, Stewart had a heart attack and died. The Dirty Work album was in the last stages of getting finished off and that allowed the Stones to include a tribute to Stewart on the LP. After the final track on the album, the band added a thirty-second hidden track that featured Stewart playing the old blues standard "Keys to the Highway" on the piano.


Friday, April 5, 2019

"Nasty" by Janet Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2729
Date:  05/17/1986
Debut:  74
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Electro-Funk

Pop Bits:  Jackson grabbed her first Pop Top 10 hit with "What Have You Done for Me Lately?," the lead single from her third LP, Control. The song and album reflected her newfound strong, independent spirit and it was further emphasized with this second single. It easily became Jackson's second #1 at R&B while hitting #3 at Pop and #2 Dance. It would also become her second gold selling single in a row. The week this song debuted on the Pop chart, Control hit the Top 10 on the Album chart for the first time on its way to #1 (for a two week run). It was already in its fifth week of an eight week run at #1 on the R&B Album chart.

ReduxReview:  Whether you were hearing this song for the first time or for the umpteenth time, that opening "Gimme a beat!" declaration quickly got your attention. Miss Jackson had something to say and you were going to listen! What followed was four minutes of funky bravado and empowerment that was nearly the musical equivalent of Peter Finch yelling "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" in the 1976 classic film Network. Do you know what Miss Jackson had had? It. Officially! And she is here to let you know that. Everything about this song worked; the lyrics, the excellent production from Jam & Lewis, Jackson's performance, and even the video (choreographed by Paula Abdul). Even though it somehow missed out on topping the Pop chart, it quickly became a signature tune for Jackson and one that has been referenced so many times over the years in pop culture. "What Have You Done for Me Lately" got her noticed, but this one made her a star.


Trivia:  Jackson co-wrote this song with her producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. It was inspired by an actual encounter that Jackson had while recording the album in Minneapolis. Apparently, Jackson was walking to the studio from her hotel when a couple of men started stalking her. They were making salacious comments and calling her "baby." Yet instead of running for the studio, Jackson decided enough was enough and basically confronted them and called them out. The men backed down, probably shocked that this teenager had the guts to take a stand. When getting back to the studio, Jackson began to turn the incident into a song. One particular thing she didn't like was being called "baby" by the guys she didn't know. In that context, she considered it a derogatory term. She has a name and they should use it (if, of course, she let's them know it). Hence, the song's famous line was born: "No, my first name ain't baby, it's Janet...Miss Jackson if you're nasty!"


Thursday, April 4, 2019

"Has Anyone Every Written Anything for You" by Stevie Nicks

Song#:  2728
Date:  05/17/1986
Debut:  80
Peak:  60
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Nicks' third solo disc, Rock a Little, would be a platinum seller thanks to two Top 20 hits including the #5 "Stand Back." To keep interest in the album going, this third single was issued out. The plaintive ballad was a change of pace for Nicks whose previous singles were mainly mid or uptempo tunes. It may have been just a bit too low-key for listeners as the song couldn't quite find an audience and it stalled in the bottom half of the chart to become her lowest peaking solo single to-date. It also couldn't make any inroads at AC peaking at #31. It would be the last single from the album to be released in the US.

ReduxReviewRock a Little didn't have a lot of standout tracks, but this beautiful song was one of them. However, being a lovely tune with a meaningful background (see below) doesn't mean it was something single-worthy. I remember being surprised at the time when I found out this was set to be the third single. It was just too subtle of a song to make an impression on the radio. It was perfect for an album closer, but it wasn't something that I'd want to hear on pop radio. It should have remained a notable album track rather than a single. That said, there was little else on the album that would have done any better, so it probably was worth a shot to release it.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Around the time this album was being recorded, Nicks was involved in a relationship with former Eagle Joe Walsh. Walsh had been the opening act on Nicks' tour supporting her previous album The Wild Heart and on one Colorado stop, Nicks was complaining and having issues about something so Walsh decided he'd try and help out in a way. He rented a car and drove her to Boulder. On the way he told her the story of his three-year-old daughter Emma who loved to play in North Boulder park, but always complained she was too small to get a drink from the water fountain there. Sadly, in 1974 when Walsh's wife at the time was taking Emma to nursery school, a car ran a stop sign and plowed into their car. Emma died later that night as a result of injuries. Walsh later wrote a song dedicated to his daughter titled "Song for Emma." It was the closing track on his 1974 album So What. Walsh drove Nicks to the park where his daughter would play and in the park was a drinking fountain that was dedicated to her. Walsh had commissioned the fountain and commemorative plaque, which had been installed in 1976. Walsh thought that by showing the fountain to Nicks and relaying the story of his daughter, it might give Nicks some perspective on the issues she was facing. It certainly had an effect on Nicks who later went home and wrote this song for Walsh.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

"The Finest" by The S.O.S. Band

Song#:  2727
Date:  05/17/1986
Debut:  82
Peak:  44
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This Atlanta-based band had success with their third and fourth albums, which were both produced (and partially composed) by the team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The LPs generated three R&B Top 10 with 1983's On the Rise grabbing a gold certification. Not wanting to mess with a successful formula, the band stayed on with Jam & Lewis for a third time and issued out Sands of Time. All but two of the tracks were written by Jam & Lewis including this lead single. It would be the band's fifth R&B Top 10 hit reaching #2. It would also get to #8 at Dance while nearly cracking the Pop Top 40. Three more singles from the album would make the R&B chart and that helped it become their third gold selling LP. Unfortunately, it would be their last appearance on the Pop chart. Following the album's release, lead singer Mary Davis would depart for a solo career. The band found a replacement and finally got an album out in 1989 (done without Jam & Lewis) that generated one R&B Top 10 hit, but interest in the band waned and after one more non-charting album in 1991, the band split.

ReduxReview:  Jam & Lewis continued to perfect their signature sound with this single. You can hear shades of upcoming Janet Jackson hits along with hints of Human League's "Human." All the elements of Jam & Lewis' work were apparent in the tune, but what it lacked was a stronger chorus. It was definitely a good song, but it just needed a hook with a little more oomph to make it score at Pop. Still, it was a solid track in the production team's growing catalog and it secured them another significant hit at R&B.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After a low-charting one-off single in 1987, Mary Davis did record a solo album, but it ended up getting shelved. A couple of years later, several tracks got reworked and a formal debut album titled Separate Ways was released in 1990. Its first single was a new track produced and written by the team of L.A. Reid and Babyface, "Don't Wear It Out." The song was a minor hit at R&B reaching #19. The album didn't chart and that ended Davis' major label days.  2) In 2003, British producer Richard X created a mash-up of this song and Human League's 1981 track "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of." It was titled "Finest Dreams" and Richard X secured R&B singer Kelis for the vocals. The song would be a hit in the UK reaching #8.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

"Mad About You" by Belinda Carlisle

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2726
Date:  05/17/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  3
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  When The Go-Go's split up in 1985, lead singer Belinda Carlisle decided to step out on her own for a solo career. Although she wouldn't be the first Go-Go to have a solo effort reach the Pop chart (Jane Wiedlin's "Blue Kiss" hit #77 in '85), she would go on to have the most successful solo career of the former band members and it began with this first single from her debut LP titled Belinda. The song wasn't necessarily an instant hit, but it steadily climbed the chart to reach #3, just one notch lower that The Go-Go's biggest hit "We Got the Beat." The hit would help the album get to #13 and over time it would be a gold seller.

ReduxReview:  I was a massive Go-Go's fan so I was a bit devastated when they broke up. But then Jane Wiedlin put out a solo disc that blended new wave, rock, and synthpop, and I really enjoyed it (and still do). So it gave me hope for Carlisle's solo effort. I admit that I was a bit perplexed at first by the disc's near-bubblegum, retro 60s tunes, but I ended up liking it. I didn't love it, but I enjoyed it. This first single was the best of the tracks. It was a solid piece of commercial pop with breezy production that seemed to fit Carlisle's voice and bubbly personality. There were definitely no signs of the punk-ish rock of the early Go-Go's here, but things had changed and Carlisle seemed ready and willing to be crafted into a pop diva.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  When Jane Wiedlin left The Go-Go's late in '84, her spot was filled by Paula Jean Brown. Brown brought along with her a few songs she co-wrote and the tunes were considered for inclusion on the band's planned fourth album. However, by May of '85 Carlisle and band member Charlotte Caffey found themselves done with The Go-Go's and closed up the band. As Carlisle planned her solo album she needed tunes, so she secured three of the songs that Brown had co-written including this hit single. And despite the group's break up, Wiedlin, Caffey, and Brown stepped in and helped out on Carlisle's album. Wiedlin would provide some backing vocals (including this song) while Brown would play bass. Caffey did the most by doing some backing vocals, providing some guitar work, and writing or co-writing five of the LP's songs.


Monday, April 1, 2019

"I Want You" by Animotion

Song#:  2725
Date:  05/17/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  84
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Animotion's second album, Strange Behavior, didn't get off to a good start when its first single, "I Engineer," petered out at a low #76. They needed something to turn the album's fortunes around, so this next track was pushed out as a follow-up. Unfortunately, it did even worse circling the bottom of the Pop chart for a short month. With those results, the LP stalled early at #71 and then quietly disappeared.

ReduxReview:  This isn't too bad of a synthpop tune, but there isn't much here that would elevate it above being a good album track. It's just average. Ritchie Zito's production is spot-on, but it wasn't enough to really make it be a standout single. It's fine, just forgettable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Two songs on the Strange Behavior album were written by band member Don Kirkpatrick and songwriter Randy Sharp. Sharp started out as a solo artist in the mid-70s and issued out a couple of album including one on RCA. The records didn't do anything, but it wasn't long before artists began picking up his songs for themselves. Prior to '86, Sharp's songs were getting recorded by artists like Reba McEntire, Jerry Reed, Ray Stevens, Jennifer Warnes, and Anne Murray. While the majority of his songs were in the country genre, he also did some pop tunes such as the title track to Strange Behavior. Over the years, Sharp's songs would get recorded by major country artists with seven of his songs reaching #1 on the Country chart. His compositions have won three Grammy awards. His daughter Maia Sharp is a solo artist and has issued out several well-received albums.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

"Peter Gunn" by The Art of Noise with Duane Eddy

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2724
Date:  05/17/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  50
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Electronic, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  The Art of Noise was not a standard band. It was initially made up of five people (Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley, Gary Langan, J.J. Jeczalik, and Paul Morley) who had worked in the music industry in various jobs such as engineering, production, programming, arranging, and even music journalism. Initially, Horn, Dudley, Langan, and Jeczalik worked as a production team and worked on hit recordings like Yes' 90210 album and Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Welcome to the Pleasuredome. They then worked on their own electronic music experiments mainly through the latest, greatest thing in music technology - the Fairlight sampler. After Morley came into the group, they began to create instrumental tracks based on samples. Their first EP was issued out in 1983 with their formal debut album, Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise?, coming out the following year. Their first two singles, "Beat Box" and "Close (To the Edit)," were hits on the Dance chart reaching #1 and #4, respectively. But then problems within the group caused a split. Horn and Morley were out leaving the other three to continue on as Art of Noise. The trio then worked on a second LP titled In Visible Silence. The first single from the album, "Legs," got to #27 at Dance but failed to make the Pop chart. However, this second single captured people's attention and it got to #2 at Dance while making it halfway up the Pop chart. The song would end up winning the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

ReduxReview:  This famous theme song gets an updated treatment by Art of Noise and it works surprisingly well. The jazzy tune seemed to fit in well with Art of Noise's electronic sampling and experimentation while the addition of Eddy and his guitar kept everything grounded. It was a fun interpretation of the theme and one that really put the avant-garde trio on the mainstream map.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by composer Henry Mancini. He wrote this for the 1958 TV private-eye series Peter Gunn, which starred Craig Stevens. While the show would only have a total of three seasons, this theme song would be a significant entry in Mancini's catalog. His score to the TV show would be captured on a soundtrack album titled The Music from Peter Gunn. The LP was a major hit and it would go on to be the first album to ever be awarded a Grammy for Album of the Year and the inaugural 1959 ceremony.  2) Guitarist Duane Eddy recorded a version of this song in 1959. The following year it would make it to #27 on the Pop chart. From 1958 to 1964, Eddy had twenty-eight singles reach the Pop chart including three Top 10's. His hits and influential style got him inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Although they normally did everything themselves (and in an electronic way), the Art of Noise reached out to Eddy and asked him to perform the guitar part on this song. Eddy obliged and it ended up getting him his first and only Grammy.