Saturday, April 27, 2019

"Hyperactive" by Robert Palmer

Song#:  2751
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  80
Peak:  33
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Palmer's eighth studio album, Riptide, got off to a shaky start when its first single, "Discipline of Love" tanked at a low #82. Luckly, things turned around when the second single, "Addicted to Love" topped both the Pop and Rock charts. That set him up well for this follow-up, but it just didn't have the same appeal as "Addicted" and the best that it could do was #21 at Rock while cracking the Pop Top 40. The results were a bit of a letdown, but like before, Palmer would come zooming back with a far better follow-up.

ReduxReview:  I don't know who chose the order of singles for this album, but they were idiots. "Addicted" should have been the lead single followed by the soon-to-be hit "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On." But instead of at least making the latter song the third single, we got this track. It's not a bad song, but it's really an album track. Of course there could be reasons behind making this the follow-up to "Addicted," but whatever those were, it was the wrong call. And they all got lucky for a second time with "I Didn't Mean." Based on the first single barely even charting, this album should have been doomed. Luckily, the two hits were so strong that it didn't matter. That's usually not the case. This song was probably the logical choice for a third single, but it still wouldn't have done any better. It's just not strong enough for hit contention.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Not long after it reached the charts, this song would be selected for use in the 1987 film The Bedroom Window. The psychological thriller starred Steve Guttenberg and Elizabeth McGovern. Guttenberg was more know for being a comedic actor thanks to previous hits like Police Academy, Diner, and Cocoon, and the thriller offered him a chance to go against type. McGovern was a young star who had received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1981 film Ragtime. The film came out to mixed reviews and was not a hit at the box office. It barely made more than its budget. Guttenberg would go back to comedies like Three Men and a Baby. McGovern would continuously work in films, but was never able to secure a major hit. However, her career got a major boost when she co-starred in the BBC series Downton Abbey, which earned hear Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for Best Leading Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie. The director of The Bedroom Window was Curtis Hanson. Hanson would have bigger hits later with The River Wild, 8 Mile, and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Hanson's best-known work would be the noir thriller L.A. Confidential. The film garnered nine Oscar nods including Best Picture and Best Director for Hanson. Hanson would win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and Kim Basinger would win for Best Supporting Actress. Unfortunately, it lost in all other categories thanks to a teeny, tiny movie that hogged all the Oscars that year - Titanic.


Friday, April 26, 2019

"School's Out" by Krokus

Song#:  2750
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  67
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  This Swiss band finely gained enough of a US audience to make their seventh and eighth albums go gold. It was good news for the band and for their label Arista. Of course it came at a cost because the label smelled money and pushed the band for a new album with songs that could hook a larger audience. This resulted in the band's ninth album Change of Address. To introduce the LP, this cover tune (see below) was issued out as the first single. It made the Pop chart and hung around for a few weeks, but it didn't get very far. Oddly, it didn't even reach the Rock chart. A second single failed to do anything and that left the album peaking at #45 and missing out on the gold sales mark. This would be the band's last single to reach a US chart. They would go through several personnel changes over the years and remain very popular in Switzerland where they scored a series of #1 albums.

ReduxReview:  Cover tunes are fine, but the artist has do something to make it their own. Otherwise, why bother? I can hear cover tunes most any night of the week by solid bar bands, so you'd better bring something to the table if you are expecting me to actually buy your remake. Sadly, Krokus does nothing to or for this track. It was a bad choice to begin with because the dang thing is still played a bazillion times near the end of every school year, so why mess with a classic that you will never outdo? Plus, the timing of this release was too late. Schools had been finished by June. This should have been out two months earlier if they were going to capitalize on the song's theme. Even then, it still would have been a tough go at rock radio because the original was the yearly standard and it was going to take something awesome to get ahead of that one. Bad timing and bad choice. I can't say it's a totally crappy remake, but it is not very good. The band added nothing special to the song therefore it just falls flat. Thud.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Alice Cooper in 1972. At the time, Alice Cooper was still considered the band's name even though leader Vincent Furnier had already adopted Alice Cooper as his stage name (and legal name as well). The song and it's associated album of the same name were the first Top 10's for the band. The single made it to #7 while the album went to #2 and became a platinum seller. The classic rock radio staple has been covered by many artists, but Krokus is the only one to reach the Pop chart with a version.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

"One Way Love" by TKA

Song#:  2749
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  75
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Freestyle, Dance, R&B

Pop Bits:  This trio of singers happened to be at the right place at the right time and were discovered. The group was performing at a sweet sixteen party and in attendance was record producer/manager that liked what he heard. He helped the trio get signed to Tommy Boy Records. They began recording songs and to get the ball rolling, the label pushed out this debut single. It ended up being popular in clubs and reached #8 on the Dance chart. It then was able to reach #56 at R&B while spending a couple of months in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. It was a good start, so the label released another track later in '86 titled "Come Get My Love." Like their previous single, it was a club hit that also got to the #8 spot. A full album was then called for and the trio's debut LP, Scars of Love, would come out in October of '87. Four more singles would be released from the album and all of them got inside the Dance Top 30 including one more Top 10 - the #6 "Tears May Fall." The album would peak at #135 early in '88, nearly two years after this first single was released. It was a long, but fruitful introduction for the trio.

ReduxReview:  Freestyle had been popular in the clubs for a few years and it was just beginning to leak over into the mainstream right about the time these guys came along. The genre would break wider in 1987 with hits like "Come Go with Me" by Exposé, so the timing was good for TKA. Indeed they did well at Dance, but as in the case of this song I don't think the material was strong enough to get pop listeners involved. While the rhythm and production are fine, the verse and bridge are forgettable. The chorus is fine, but it speeds by at a pace that would make it difficult for folks to sing along. The trio was on the right track. They just needed better songs.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band's name simply came from the first letters in each members' name - Tony Oritz, Kayel Sharpe, and Aby Cruz. Cruz would end up leaving the group after the first album was released. Oddly, his replacement would still fit in with the trio's name - Angel Vasquez.  2) Their debut album featured a cover tune titled "Someone in the Dark." The song was written by Rod Temperton with Marilyn and Alan Bergman. It was originally recorded by Michael Jackson for the special edition version of the soundtrack to the classic film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It featured Jackson narrating the story of E.T. over the original John Williams score. In addition, he recorded the new song "Someone in the Dark" for the package. The album would end up winning a Grammy for Best Recording for Children. The LP was on MCA Records and agreements with Jackson's label, Epic, stated the new song could not be released as a single. Still, MCA printed and released promo singles of the song to radio stations which violated the agreement. Lawsuits followed that made sure the song would never be issued as a single. Because of this, the promo single of the song quickly became a rare collector's item. The disc has sold for around $1,500 previously and some sites still list it for sale for as much as $1,200. The song itself was made available years later as part of a special edition of Thriller and on Jackson's Ultimate Collection.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"Jungle Boy" by John Eddie

Song#:  2748
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  52
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Originally from Virginia, Eddie settled in New Jersey and began playing the clubs with his band the Front Street Runners. Along the way he became friendly with another Jersey musician, Bruce Springsteen, and it didn't take long before Eddie was signed to Columbia Records. Members of Springsteen's E Street Band would help make Eddie's self-titled debut and this first single got issued out. It made a bit of a splash at Rock getting to #17 and that helped the song nearly crack the top half of the Pop chart. The LP would make it to #83 and that seemed to be enough for Columbia to fund a follow-up. Eddie came out with The Hard Cold Truth in 1989, but it disappeared quickly along with his contract with Columbia. He signed with Elektra and was able to record a third album, but legal issues crept into the mix and the disc was never released. That ended Eddie's time with the major labels.

ReduxReview:  This rockin' tune had roots that go back to Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2" (#7 1972). The loud shuffle of the song along with its "whoa whoa's," "yeah yeah's," and "hey's" was something that demanded your attention. It had a forceful, memorable chorus and Eddie sold it well. Although his New Jersey connection got him tagged as a bit of a "new" Springsteen, this track didn't sound like anything The Boss had done. The song did fairly well on the charts and it seemed like he might be able to breakthrough in a bigger way, but it just didn't happen. What remains is this fun track that is ripe for rediscovery.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After the dust settled following the Elektra fiasco, Eddie returned to play in clubs and put out three albums on his own label. His career took a bit of a turn in 2007 when Kid Rock picked up the Eddie-penned "Lowlife" for his triple-platinum album Rock n Roll Jesus. Eddie had written and recorded the tune in 2003 and through a connection it ended up in Kid Rock's lap. The experience gave Eddie the motivation to start writing songs for other artists. Kid Rock would end up recording two more of Eddie's songs while Sammy Hagar picked up one for his 2008 solo album Cosmic Universal Fashion. In 2012, country star Brantley Gilbert recorded Eddie's tune "More Than Miles" for his album Halfway to Heaven. It would be issued out as a single and reach #21 at Country and #73 Pop. The song would earn a gold certification.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

"Stay True" by Sly Fox

Spotlight Alert!

Song#:  2747
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  94
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Synthpop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  The duo of Sly Fox made an impression with their #7 hit "Let's Go All the Way." It was taken from their debut album of the same name as was this follow-up single. Unfortunately, it didn't appeal to listeners like their previous hit and the song ended up being a blip at the bottom of the Pop chart for a couple of weeks. It was actually their third single from the LP. The first one released was "Como Tu Te Llama? (What Is Your Name)." It was able to reach #13 at Dance, but it failed to make other charts. "Let's Go All the Way" would be the second single and their breakthrough. Their debut album would do well reaching #31 and plans were made for a follow-up, but the duo ended up splitting. They tried to reunite near the end of the decade, but they still couldn't solve their issues and parted ways for good. The lone Top 10 hit made them a one-hit wonder of the decade.

ReduxReview:  These guys were gonna have a tough time following up a song so distinctive as "Let's Go All the Way." They were a one-hit wonder waiting to happen and indeed that ended up being the result. Yet it didn't have to be. This joyous slice of blue-eyed soul/pop with a terrific, hooky chorus should have easily become their second hit. If this had been done by a band like Go West, I think it would have clicked on the radio. Since it was a follow-up to the unforgettable, mind-melting "Let's Go All the Way," I think it got ignored because it was too different from that hit and DJs and listeners were probably expecting a "Let's Go, Pt.2" that would continue the groove. It's really too bad as this is a gem of a tune that got totally lost. "Let's Go" is a classic one-hit wonder of the decade, but if push comes to shove, I think this is a better song. Therefore, I'm gonna shine a spotlight on this because it deserved a lot more attention that it received.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After the split, the members of Sly Fox, Gary Mudbone Cooper and Michael Camacho, went off on their own career paths. Cooper returned to working with George Clinton and would also write music for and perform with many other artists. Camacho, who had some theater experience, tried to break into acting and appeared in a few indie films. He still dabbled in music and changed over to jazz for his 2006 solo album Just for You. Camacho also became the manager of a jazz bar in NYC called Rue-B and he occasionally performs there. 


Monday, April 22, 2019

"In the Shape of a Heart" by Jackson Browne

Song#:  2746
Date:  06/07/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  70
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Browne's album Lives in the Balance was his second in a row to contain political-leaning songs including it's first single "For America" (#30 Pop/#3 Rock). This follow-up single sidelined politics in favor of something more personal and it struck the right chords with AC (#10) and Rock (#15) audiences. However, the song couldn't crossover to a wider audience and it stalled in the bottom third of the Pop chart. It would end up being Browne's final song to reach the Pop chart. The album would be a gold seller, but that was a definite drop from his previous platinum efforts. His next album, 1989's World in Motion, would be his third to focus on political and social issues. A couple of tracks would make the Rock Top 10, but it wasn't enough to really sell the LP. It would become his lowest peaking since his 1972 debut and it would fail to go gold. Browne would have a slight comeback with 1993's I'm Alive. Seen as a back-to-basics LP, it would go gold thanks to good press and the #18 Rock/#28 AC title track. Browne continued to put out albums on occasion, but his heydays as a hit maker and platinum seller were over.

ReduxReview:  While I've never been a real fan of Browne's music, he did occasionally toss out some tunes that I did enjoy. This one is a bit of an overlooked gem in his catalog. It was a lovely song that seemed to grab ears at AC and Rock, yet fell flat at Pop. I wouldn't peg it for a huge hit, but I certainly think it should have done better than "For America." In fact, it probably would have done better had it been the LP's first single. His Pop charting days came to an end with the song and it was a good one to go out on despite its low peak.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Sometime in 1971, Browne met actress/model Phyllis Major. The pair began a relationship and in 1973 they had a child together, Ethan. They would get married in 1975, but the following year Phyllis committed suicide. At the time it happened, Browne was working on his fourth album, The Pretender. It included one song that was inspired by the tragedy titled "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate." The album would be Browne's first to crack the Top 10 (#5) and it would eventually go double platinum. Nearly ten years after Phyllis' death, Browne would write another song about her - "In the Shape of a Heart."


Sunday, April 21, 2019

"Invisible Touch" by Genesis

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2745
Date:  05/31/1986
Debut:  45
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  After Genesis went on hiatus in Feburary of '84, Phil Collins experienced a career high as a solo artist with his Grammy-winning LP No Jacket Required. Mike Rutherford also found himself with a pair of Top 10 hits with his band Mike + the Mechanics while Tony Banks worked on film scoring, which included the 1986 Kevin Bacon vehicle Quicksilver. The trio reconvened late in '85 to work on their thirteenth studio album, Invisible Touch. The pop chart successes of Collins and Rutherford reshaped the former prog-rock band's sound into something far more commercial than they had ever done. Their new direction was on full display with this bubbly first single. After nearly debuting in the Pop Top 40, the song took off and became the trio's first to top the chart. The song would also get to #1 at Rock and #3 AC. Oddly, the song was kicked out of the #1 spot on the Pop chart by their former bandmate Peter Gabriel, whose "Sledgehammer" took over at the top. This song would be Genesis' only one to reach the top of the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  At the time and even still today this song can draw some passionate responses. Some saw this as Genesis fully selling out and going commercial. Others considered it a near-perfect piece of pop by a constantly evolving band. Whatever side of the fence you are on, it was hard to deny that this was a well-crafted tune that expertly appealed to a wide swath of people. For me, this seemed like a natural extension of the band. They had been moving more in this direction ever since 1980's Duke and the album was just a culmination of all they had done since then - both as a band and solo efforts. Yeah, there were no hints at the prog-rock days of yore (save for perhaps the two-part track "Domino"), but when you can crank out a pure pop confection like this, who cares? I thoroughly enjoyed the song and still do.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  A song on the Invisible Touch album earned Genesis their third Grammy nomination. The instrumental track "The Brazilian" would get them a nod in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category. The band wrote another instrumental for the album titled "Do the Neurotic," but when it came time to select the tracks for the album, it was not used. An edited version of the song would be the b-side to the US version of the "Throwing It All Away" single. The same edit would be the b-side to the "In Too Deep" single in the UK. The full-length version of the tune would be released as part of the 2007 box set compilation Genesis 1983-1998.