Saturday, July 6, 2019

"Twist and Shout" by The Beatles

Song#:  2821
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  23
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock 'n' Roll

Pop Bits:  After the Beatles split in 1970, they had a few scattered singles reach the Pop chart mainly do to compilation releases. In the 80s, they would have two chart entries. The first came in 1982 with the newly assembled "The Beatles' Movie Medley." The nostalgia factor of the track helped it get to #12. The other Beatles single to reach the Pop chart in the 80s was this reissue of "Twist and Shout," a song that originally peaked at #2 on the Pop chart back in 1964. The song became popular again due to its use in two hit 1986 films. The tune was prominently featured in the quirky comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which starred Matthew Broderick. In the film, Broderick lip syncs the song while riding a float in a parade. The song was also featured in Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School. In that film, Dangerfield actually sings the song in a bar with a band. (His take was issued out as a single, but it did not chart.) The party atmosphere generated by the song in both films grabbed a lot of attention and soon a new generation of listeners were requesting the tune along with those who had long been fans of the song and of the Beatles. Capitol Records took notice and reissued the original single of the song along with its original b-side "There's a Place" (#74 Pop, 1964). It gained enough airplay and sales to get it back on the Pop chart where it nearly cracked the Top 20. While this would be the Beatles last single to chart in the 80s, overall it would not be their last. In the 90s, the band would have three chart entries including two brand new songs that made their debuts on the Beatles' Anthology series. "Free As a Bird" would hit #6 in 1995 while "Real Love" would get to #11 the following year. Both would be gold sellers. To this posting date, these have been the last songs from the Beatles to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I was never a big fan of this song, but what made the Beatles' version was the ragged vocal done by John Lennon. Apparently, this was purposely saved as the last song to be recorded in the sessions for the band's Please Please Me album because producer George Martin knew it might wreck up Lennon's voice. Lennon was suffering from a cold and his throat was not in good shape when it came time to record this track. Lennon did one full take of the song and that was to be it. He tried a second take, but his voice was gone and that wrapped up the sessions for the album. Lennon apparently didn't like his voice on the track, but I still think it is what brought the song to life. His unhinged vocal gave the song it's party vibe. It was a true rock 'n' roll moment and I think it helped to make the song a long-lasting hit. Although I admire Lennon's vocal and it can be a fun listen, this song wouldn't make my list of favorites by the Beatles.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written in 1961 by Phil Medley and Bert Berns. It was recorded by The Top Notes that year with Phil Spector producing. Spector had become a house producer for Atlantic Records the previous year and had yet to develop is famous "wall of sound." The single failed to chart and Berns thought that was because Spector ruined the song. Berns then decided to produce his own version and got The Isley Brothers to record the tune. When released in 1962, it became the Isley's first major chart hit getting to #2 at R&B and #17 Pop. The Beatles based their version on the Isley's take. Many artists have covered the song but only the versions by Isley Brothers and the Beatles have charted at Pop. However, a rap style version by Salt-N-Pepa did chart at R&B in 1988. It got to #45 (#18 Rap/#4 UK).  2) This song was part of the famous Top 5 sweep accomplished by the Beatles in 1964. For the week of April 4, 1964, songs by the Beatles held the top five positions on the Pop chart. It was the first time any artist had been able to accomplish such a feat. The songs that created the sweep were "Can't Buy Me Love" (#1), "Twist and Shout" (#2), "She Loves You" (#3), "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (#4), and "Please Please Me" (#5). No other artist since has been able replicate this chart record. A couple of artists have come somewhat close. Both 50 Cent and Justin Bieber have lodged three songs simultaneously in the Top 5, but neither were close to equaling the Beatles' record.


Friday, July 5, 2019

"Lonely Is the Night" by Air Supply

Song#:  2820
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  76
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  After four platinum (or multi-platinum) albums that yielded eight Top 10 singles, this Aussie outfit experienced a decline in popularity with their 1995 self-titled eighth album. By that point, the band had been reduced to the core duo of Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell. The LP went gold mainly on the strength of the #19 Pop/#3 AC single "Just As I Am," but without a bigger hit or further significant charting songs, it failed to reach the platinum levels of the group's previous efforts. The duo soldiered on and recorded their next effort, Hearts in Motion. The majority of the album was produced by Bernard Edwards (Chic, Power Station, Robert Palmer) while two songs, including this first single, were produced by John Boylan (Boston, Little River Band). Air Supply's support at AC continued with this tune getting to #12 on that chart. However, pop radio had lost its taste for the soft rock sounds of the duo and the song became the lowest peaking of their career on the Pop chart. It would end up being their final song to reach the Pop chart and their last Top 20 at AC. They would cap off their most successful era with a Christmas album in 1987. That LP would also be their final one for their home label of Arista. After a break, the due signed on with Giant Records, a Warner Bros. subsidiary, for five albums and then continued to record for a couple more indie labels. They would get a few more lower charting songs at AC, but the albums would basically come and go to little notice. They would retain a sizable fan base and would continue to be a solid concert draw over the years.

ReduxReview:  This tune sounds like it should have been a hit a decade earlier. It just has that 70s male vocal feel to it. It's not a bad tune and perhaps if someone like Eric Carmen had recorded the song rather than Air Supply, it might have done better on the chart. But Air Supply had a definite image problem at the time and it just wasn't cool for younger folks to like them. Their soft rock sounds were definitely a thing of the recent past and I almost think that even if they had recorded the most perfect pop song, radio and its listeners still would have ignored them. There was just no way they could compete with the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bon Jovi, etc. They hit their prime at the right time, but music changed too quickly in the 80s and Air Supply just couldn't keep up. Russell Hitchcock's 1988 solo album (see below) was much better (and underrated), but that one featured tunes by top songwriters whereas Graham Russell wrote the majority of Hearts in Motion and his songs just weren't up to par. Air Supply left an indelible mark on pop music and I appreciate their hits. Unfortunately, this last gasp wasn't one of their better moments.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Before the duo left Arista, lead singer Russell Hitchcock made an attempt at a solo career. He recorded and released a self-titled debut album in 1988. The LP boasted songs by quality hit makers like Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg, Albert Hammond, George Merrill, Shannon Rubicam, John Bettis, and Michael Masser, along with a few remakes including the single "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted." That tune became a minor #39 entry at AC. With little radio support to help out, the album failed to chart and quickly disappeared. Before Hitchcock would return to Air Supply in 1991, he would record a one-off tune for the soundtrack to the 1990 hit film Arachnophobia. Written by Diane Warren, "Caught in Your Web (Swear to Your Heart)" would be pushed out for airplay to AC stations and the song would end up peaking at #9 on the chart.  2) This song would be remade by a few artists including Night Rider/Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. Hasselhoff began a music career in 1985 while Night Rider was still on the air. His first album didn't get anywhere in the US, but it surprisingly made him a star in Austria and Germany. He remade this Air Supply song for his third album Looking for Freedom. That album's title track would end up being his biggest hit reaching #1 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. He would continue to record over the years gathering four Top 10 hits in Austria along with three #1 albums. Meanwhile in the US, none of his albums or songs would do anything and his musical career would be the butt of many jokes. Yet the Hoff would remain a popular celebrity and subject of a lot of tabloid stories.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

"Am I Forgiven" by Isle of Man

Song#:  2819
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  90
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Rock, New Wave

Pop Bits:  Not a lot is written about this obscure band. It is known that it consisted of four musicians who were supposedly from four different countries (including the US) and that they were discovered by Spencer Proffer. Proffer was a producer and record exec who had his own Columbia-associated label called Pasha (home to metal acts like Quiet Riot and W.A.S.P.). The band members co-wrote all the tunes for their self-titled debut album with Proffer assisting on a couple while producing it all. This first single was issued out but it couldn't do much except spend a month near the bottom of the chart. Surprisingly, the album sold a few copies and made it onto the Album chart at #110. Further singles failed to make an impression and that was the end of Isle of Man.

ReduxReview:  Isle of Man were an unusual band. All the tracks from their debut are available on YouTube and I listened to the album. It does have an international new wave flare about it. The songs are not all that strong, but the arrangements make them interesting. They were a bit unique and I could hear how they might have attracted Proffer. This song was probably the best contender for a single, but it just didn't quite have the hooky gusto needed to move ahead of the other noise on the chart. These guys had the goods, but I don't think the project fully gelled into something that would attract a wide audience. Still, an interesting find and one worth seeking out.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Band members included Robere Parlez, Raun, Jamie Roberto, and Ronnie Lee Sage. Most info on them states that they were from four different countries - France, Italy, Nicaragua, and the US. If I were to guess the possible origins of each member, the way I list the countries would coincide with the way I listed the names. However, some further research shows that lead singer Robere Parlez may not be from France. Not long after Isle of Man broke up, Parlez joined up with another band called the Lonesome Romeos. This time around, he was listed as Robert Parlee. I then found a little bio about Robert Parlee who was a member of a California band called Clementine. The bio stated Parlee was born in Pasadena, Californa, and was a member of Isle of Man and the Lonesome Romeos. Maybe his family background was French and he adopted the name Robere Parlez to go with the multiple country theme of Isle of Man, but it seems he definitely was an American. As for the other members of Isle of Man, who knows if they were actually from their respective countries or if it was all just a press gimmick (I'm thinking so to fit with the Isle of Man name). Parlee did get a second shot at stardom with the Lonesome Romeos. They were signed to Curb Records and issued out albums in 1990 and 1995. Nothing much came from the LPs and the band broke up.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

"Stuck with You" by Huey Lewis & the News

#1 Alert!
Song#:  2818
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  42
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's 1983 album Sports was a major success reaching #1 and eventually selling over seven million copies. It was helped along by four singles that reached the Top 10. Not long after the album wound down, the band contributed a couple of songs to the soundtrack of the hit film Back to the Future. Their single from the film, "The Power of Love," would be their first #1 and second gold record. The band then needed to get a follow-up together and retreated to the studio to record. It would take a year before their next effort, Fore!, would be ready. This first single got things started and it seemed that folks were ready for Lewis and the band to return. After a high debut, the song made its way to the top to the Pop chart where it stayed for three weeks. In doing so, it would just edge out "The Power of Love" to become the band's biggest chart hit. It would also reach #1 at AC while getting to #2 at Rock. The hit would help push the album to #1 later in the fall.

ReduxReview:  For me, the band's formula was beginning to wear thin. This wasn't all that different from the doo-wop, retro-rock tunes they had already churned out (i.e., "If This Is It" from their Sports album). I wasn't buying it but plenty of people were. I can't say I blame them though. It's a fun little head-bobbin' track that appealed to a wide audience. At the time they knew how to dish out a crowd pleaser and this one fit the bill. It worked out well and got them a second #1, but I didn't really care for it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Huey Lewis goes disco?  It happened. Back in 1978, Lewis was playing a regular Monday night gig at a local club north of San Francisco. It was during this time that what would become the News would begin to form. Later in 1979, they became Huey Lewis & the American Express. They ended up recording a one-off single credited to American Express that consisted of a disco version of the famous theme from the film Exodus, which they titled "Exodisco." The flip side was more of a party/dance track title "Kick Back." The single, oddly picked up by Phonogram in the UK and put out on the Mercury label there, went nowhere. While "Exodisco" was just a jokey lark they did at the time, it ended up helping them out. It wasn't long after that the band signed on with Chrysalis and began work on their 1980 self-titled debut album under their new name of Huey Lewis & the News.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"Dreamtime" by Daryl Hall

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2817
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  54
Peak:  5
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Psychedelic Pop

Pop Bits:  After a run of twelve Top 10 singles and four platinum albums, the duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates decided to take a little break. During their time apart, Hall chose to work on material of his own that was different from the hit-making blue-eyed soul he'd been churning out with Oates since the decade began. Being a superstar gave him the clout to do this and Hall signed up to do a solo album with producers Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) and Tom "T-Bone" Wolk. The results would be titled Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine. Although Hall probably had leeway to do most anything he wanted for the LP, it still needed to have some commercial-leaning tracks to bring in an audience. This first single seemed to fit that bill. It had a radio-friendly sound while also showing off a different side of Hall's music. The dense, psych-pop tune with its strings and effects was unlike anything Hall & Oates had done over the years and the tune received a positive response. It easily made the Pop Top 10 while getting to #24 at AC and #36 Dance. It was a good start, but the trick for Hall would be to keep up the momentum of the hit and truly establish himself as a viable solo artist.

ReduxReview:  Anyone looking for H&O's trademark pop/blue-eyes soul was not going to find it in this bombastic track. Hall, Stewart, and Wolk go balls to the wall trying to make an epic out of this tune. By the end of it there are layered vocals, effects, strings, and even a harpsichord all swirling about in a dizzying Beatles-like manner. The heavy production was something different for Hall and it mostly works. The hook was good enough to lure in listeners and it seemed the eclectic ending worked fine on the radio. For me, I thought the massive production was a bit too much for the song. To make an epic you have to write an epic and I don't think this tune fits in that category. It was a bit weak and it just seemed the song was desperately trying to get some air above all the blustering production waves. Still, it's an interesting relic of the day and it showed that Hall had more to offer beyond his usual rock 'n' soul.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Since Daryl Hall and John Oates were so successful as a duo in the 80s, many folks assumed that Hall's Three Hearts album was his first solo effort. However, it was actually his second solo release. In the mid-70s, the duo had some success with three Top 10 hits. Later in 1977, they were struggling to continue their success. Feeling the need to do something artistically different, Hall then decided to record a solo album. On board for production was former King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. Hall and Fripp and met a few years early and wanted to work together. Hall's solo disc gave them the opportunity. While the resulting album, Sacred Songs, had a few pop-oriented tracks, the balance of it had a more experimental art-pop feel, which was certainly different from the material Hall had been doing with Oates. Unfortunately, Hall's label, RCA, didn't like what they heard. They considered it "non-commercial" and refused to release it thinking that it would not be a success and that it would have a negative affect on the H&O fan base. Hall and Fripp retaliated by sending out copies of the disc to journalists and DJs. After pressure from industry folks and even letter writing campaigns from fans, RCA finally relented and released the album in 1980. The album's lone single, "Something in 4/4 Time," failed to chart, but the album did sell a few copies and it got to #58.


Monday, July 1, 2019

"Press" by Paul McCartney

Song#:  2816
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  66
Peak:  21
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Following the lackluster performance of his movie project Give My Regards to Broad Street and its associated soundtrack, McCartney began to make plans for his next studio album. Prior to it, McCartney scored a one-off hit with "Spies Like Us" (#7) the theme from the film of the same name. That set him up well for a return and McCartney then began to record his new album Press to Play. For the LP, McCartney brought on board producer Hugh Padgham, whose career was in high gear thanks to his work with The Police, Genesis, Phil Collins, and others. McCartney thought the hot producer could give his tunes a slick, mid-80s sheen that would keep his music current and relevant. The first test was this lead single. It got a bit of attention, but ultimately it didn't do well stopping short of the Pop Top 20. It was the first time a lead single from a McCartney album (including with Wings) did not make the Top 20. The lack of a more significant hit single along with mixed critical reviews took a toll on sales of the album. It would stop at #30, his worst showing for any of his post-Beatles albums, and it would be his first to miss the gold level sales mark.

ReduxReview:  Well, McCartney certainly got all 80s modern on this one. It's full of synthpop flourishes and dense production. While the production/arrangement might have worked for another pop tune, I don't think it was a good fit for McCartney's little ditty. It all just overwhelmed the tune, which wasn't that strong to begin with. While I applaud McCartney for trying to keep up with music trends, he needed to write songs that would work with the production. You can't take a typical quirky McCartney composition and just stuff it into a synthpop arrangement and expect it to work. This ended up being an interesting relic in his catalog, but at the time it was just a failed attempt to keep up with the kids.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  For the album, McCartney co-wrote several songs with former 10cc vocalist/guitarist Eric Stewart. Although Stewart had worked on McCartney's previous two albums as a guitarist and vocalist, Press to Play was the first time he wrote songs with McCartney. Six of their tunes made the original release of the album. One other song would be used as a b-side for a single while three others would show up as bonus tracks on a reissue of the LP. Stewart would join up with a reformed 10cc in 1991. That band would record albums in 1992 and 1995. Leftover songs from Stewart and McCartney's Press to Play collaborations would be recorded for the albums. One song would receive additional help from 10cc's Graham Gouldman and be put on 1992's "...Meanwhile." Another tune would be recorded for 1995's "Mirror Mirror," 10cc's final album. McCartney would make a guest appearance on that track and another on the album. (Note: "Press" was one of four on the album solely written by McCartney).


Sunday, June 30, 2019

"Heaven in Your Eyes" by Loverboy

Song#:  2815
Date:  08/02/1986
Debut:  72
Peak:  12
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The timing of this song was just about perfect for Loverboy. They had just exhausted singles from their double-platinum LP Lovin' Every Minute of It, which featured two Top 10 hits including "This Could Be the Night" (#10), so this tune from the soundtrack to the hit film Top Gun was a nice filler in between albums. Like "This Could Be the Night," the song was a pop-leaning power ballad that was a solid fit for radio. With the film being a box office smash and the soundtrack album already generating two hits, this third single from the LP seemed destined to do well. While it would end up just missing out on the Top 10, it was still a good effort from the Canadian band becoming their eighth Pop Top 40 entry.

ReduxReview:  Loverboy showed that they were making a bigger bid for the mainstream with "This Could Be the Night" and this single pushed that way even further. The tie-in to a commercial soundtrack to a hit film certainly didn't hurt either. However, I think a lot of their core fans were starting to call foul as this really wasn't the edgy rock band who tossed out stadium anthems like "Working for the Weekend." I think they sensed that and their next LP avoided the romantic pop ballads. Still, what they did here was really quite good. It's a nicely written tune (I especially like the bridge) that's not overly sentimental...well, maybe a little. The band performs it well and tries to keep some of their rock sound incorporated. They made the most of an opportunity and it work out well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was originally written by Canadian songwriters Mae Moore and John Dexter. Loverboy's Mike Reno and Paul Dean made adjustments and got writing credits as well after the band picked up the tune. It would be Moore's first major hit as a songwriter and it would provide a launching board for her own career as a recording artist. She signed with Epic Records and in 1990 issued out a debut solo album titled Oceanview Motel. Three singles from the LP would make the Canadian Top 30. The following year she would receive a Juno nomination for Most Promising Female Vocalist of the Year. Her next LP, Bohemia, would do better with two singles barely missing the Top 10. She finally got her first Top 10 hit with "Genuine" (#6) a track from her third album Dragonfly. Oddly, despite the hit and a good selling album, she was dropped from the label. Moore would continue to perform and record some indie albums after her days in the major label spotlight.