Saturday, July 13, 2019

"When I Think of You" by Janet Jackson

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2828
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  60
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Jackson's first two singles from her Control album, "What Have You Done for Me Lately" (#4) and "Nasty" (#3), were inching her closer to the top spot on the Pop chart. She finally made it to #1 with this third single. It also got to #1 at Dance while reaching #3 at R&B and #10 AC. The widespread, mainstream appeal of the song helped it become Jackson's first to top the Pop chart and her first to reach the AC Top 10. The single would be her third in a row to go gold. Oddly, it would be the only single from Control that missed reaching #1 at R&B. The hit helped sales of Control continue and it would stay firmly planted in the Pop Top 10 through to October.

ReduxReview:  This was the perfect pick for the third single. With her profile significantly raised after two major pop and R&B hits, Jackson had quickly established herself as a star and folks were interested in her next move. This song was a change of pace from her harder hitting first two singles and the tune's more relaxed beat made it more accessible to a wider audience. It would end up being the album's best performing single overall. Although it was the exact right single at the right time, it wasn't one of my favorites from the album. I find it to be a very pleasant, sunny tune that floats easily over the ears, but I preferred the more edgier tracks on the album. Still, it was a brilliant move.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  With this song hitting #1, it claimed a chart achievement. The single made Janet and Michael Jackson the first siblings to have solo hits reach #1 on the Pop chart. To-date, they still remain the only siblings to have accomplished that feat. They were also the first siblings to score solo #1 albums, however two other sets of siblings would also do the same. Brothers Master P (Percy Miller) and Silkk the Shocker (Vyshonne Miller) had #1 albums in the late 90s. Then a pair of famous sisters, BeyoncĂ© and Solange (Knowels) joined the ranks when Solange's album A Seat at the Table topped the chart in 2016.  BeyoncĂ© hit #1 with her debut solo album Dangerously in Love in 2003.


Friday, July 12, 2019

"Love Walks In" by Van Halen

Song#:  2827
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  67
Peak:  22
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Although the second single from their 5150 album, "Dreams," stalled shy of the Pop Top 20 (#22) it got a lot of airplay on MTV and at Rock where the track got to #6. Next up was this track. It was another winner at Rock where the song made it to #4. At Pop, the tune peaked at the same #22 spot as their previous single and remained on the chart for one additional week. The song kept sales of the album steady. It was still riding in the Top 20 after peaking at #1 for three weeks earlier in April/May. It was well on its way to selling over six million copies.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo effort was probably the closest Van Halen would get to a power ballad. The radio-friendly track was an appropriate follow-up to "Dreams" and like that song, I thought it would do a little better on the Pop chart. Still, it would be their second album in a row to produce three Top 40 singles. I like that the minor verse leads to a sweet chorded chorus. I think this is the type of song that Van Halen would have not come up with or done with David Lee Roth. Something like this wasn't in his wheelhouse, but with Hagar it was possible. Another quality track from the album.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The cover of the 5150 album showed an Atlas-like muscled guy holding up a globe that is encircled by the Van Halen initial logo. The man who posed for the photo is bodybuilder Rick Valente. A friend of Valente's tipped him off that there were auditions for a photo shoot happening at the gym they worked out at and encouraged Valente to show up. He did and he ended up getting the job. Valente said in an interview that he was shocked when the album came out and it was just him on the cover. Valente won his first bodybuilding title at the age of 19 and won several more over the years. He ended up being a fixture at the famous Gold's gym at Venice Beach, California, and worked out alongside celebrities like Hulk Hogan and Lou Ferrigno. He eventually became a personal trainer there. In 1989, Valente became the host of the ESPN fitness/exercise show BodyShaping. The show would run for more than a decade.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

"A Matter of Trust" by Billy Joel

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2826
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  71
Peak:  10
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Joel's tenth studio album, The Bridge, got off to a good start with the first single "Modern Woman" just barely cracking the Top 10 (#10). He would follow up that hit with this more rock-oriented track. The piano man set aside his keyboard and picked up an electric guitar for this song, which would do pretty well at Rock getting to #14. It would do nearly the same at AC reaching #17. At Pop the tune would make a slow climb and like Joel's previous single it would just eke out a Top 10 showing. The back-to-back #10's helped the album get to #7 and go double-platinum, which were the exact same results of his 1982 LP The Nylon Curtain, but it was a drop from his previous hit LP An Innocent Man, which would go on to sell over seven million copies.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure, but I think the most famous/popular part of this song is the count off from the top. I've heard it referenced before even without playing the rest of the song. Just last week they used the count off on a radio show for a comedic bit. Other than that, this song has kind of disappeared further down in Joel's catalog. I rarely hear it anymore. It's probably the best track on The Bridge. I like that Joel rocks it out instead of repeating the synthpop of his previous two hits. The song sounds beefy and strong enough to trample his lighter fare like "Modern Woman." A definite highlight from one of Joe's weakest albums.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The video for this song has Joel and his band rehearsing at a near-ground floor space of a building in New York. They start to play, but stop and open windows on the street side of the room because it was hot. They begin the song again and the music blares across the neighborhood attracting a crowd. The place the video was film was on St. Mark's Place in the East Village of New York. The building had some musical history as it once housed a discotheque called the Electric Circus. It was developed in 1967 by Andy Warhol and film director Paul Morrissey. The Velvet Underground was initially the house band there with Warhol designing their stage shows. Other bands on the rise played there including The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and Sly & the Family Stone. It would close in 1971. When Joel filmed his video, the building had become a counseling center for those with drug and alcohol issues. The opening of the windows with the band's music attracting a crowd was in a way an homage to the famous Beatles rooftop concert in London in 1969. Joel's video also seems to feature two Beatles. There are a couple blink-and-you-miss them moments where it seems like Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney make cameos. However, it has never been confirmed if the pair actually appeared of if the men seen were just lookalikes to go with the Beatles theme.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"Private Number" by The Jets

Song#:  2825
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  76
Peak:  47
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This family band hit the mainstream with "Crush on You," the second single from their self-title debut album. It would reach #3 at Pop while hittting #4 at both R&B and Dance. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It couldn't break through in the same way as the previous single and it stalled outside of the Pop Top 40 while only getting to #28 at R&B. It was a slight bump in the road for the group, but they would rally back in a big way with their next single.

ReduxReview:  The label went for another jam to follow up "Crush on You," but the tune just wasn't as hooky as their other hit. The song is fine and the production is solid with the rhythm guitar adding some nice texture. It probably could have been tried as the fourth single, but it just wasn't strong enough to follow "Crush on You."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  At the beginning of the video for this song, someone is shown dialing a number on a pay phone. At the end, a piece of paper floats by that shows the number that was dialed. The number, 612-420-3226, was set up as a promotional gimmick in conjunction with the band's fan club and those who saw the video and took down the number could call it and hear messages recorded by the band. On rare occasions, a member of The Jets would actually answer the incoming call and talk with the person. This lasted for quite a while as the band enjoyed success. At some point, the number was relinquished and it seems it might belong to an individual now. Perhaps that person gets a rare call once in a while, but unlike Tommy Tutone's "867-5309/Jenny" where the phone number is in the song and still remember today, the number for The Jets has slipped into obscurity as it was not part of the song and only appeared briefly at the end of the video for a song that was not a hit.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon

Song#:  2824
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  83
Peak:  44
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, World

Pop Bits:  After the commercial failure of his 1983 LP Hearts and Bones and the breakup of his relationship with actress Carrie Fisher, Simon went through a depression phase. He thought his viability as a popular artist was over and nothing inspired or motivated him enough to write new music. That is until sometime in '84 he was given a bootleg tape of some South African music. Intrigued by the sounds, Simon began improvising melodies over the music he heard. With ideas flowing, Simon and engineer Roy Halee flew to Johannesburg, got set up in a studio, and worked with local musicians on songs that would make up Simon's seventh solo album, Graceland. The worldbeat sounds combined with Simon's pop was something different and it didn't necessarily excite the folks at his label, Warner Bros., who saw Simon's career as a losing proposition at the time. Still, they went ahead and released the album and this first single was pushed out. The song did pretty well at AC getting to #15 and it didn't do too bad at Pop initially peaking just outside the Top 40. Meanwhile, accolades for the album poured in. Many critics stated it was a career milestone and listed it among the best albums of the year. Sales of the album were good, but then along came the Grammy awards. Simon would be nominated in three categories: Album, Male Pop Vocal, and Producer of the Year. Graceland would win for Album of the Year and it wasn't long before interest in the album would soar. It would reach #3 on the Album chart and would eventually become Simon's biggest selling solo album with sales of over five million in the US alone. This song would get a re-release due to all the hubbub around the album and would do better on its second run (#23 Pop). It was a huge return for an artist whose career was considered over by many folks - including himself.

ReduxReview:  If I remember right, I bought this album not long after it came out. The reviews were excellent and I had heard this song and thought it was a fun little jam. The horns, the tin whistle solo, and the slammin' bass, along with Al and Betty of course, added up to make this one of the most inspired things Simon had done in ages. The production was beefy and added some nice weight to the song. Even Simon sounded invigorated in his delivery. This tune still sounds great today and it's hard not to enjoy the track when it comes on.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song mentions Al and Betty. Those names stemmed from something that happened to Simon. Back in 1970, Simon and his first wife Peggy Harper were throwing a party. A friend of theirs happened to bring along French composer/conductor Pierre Boulez. When it came time for Boulez to leave, he called Simon "Al" and Peggy "Betty." It wasn't that he forgot their names, it was just how he interpreted their names as he heard them with his French-leaning ears. The couple may have been introduced to Boulez as Paul and Petty, but he heard/interpreted their names to be Al and Betty. (Oddly, I lived across the street from a couple named Al and Betty for about 10 years...)  2) The first video made for this song was a performance-style one that was created from an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Simon didn't care for the video and wanted something else. A new concept was drawn up with the help of SNL's Loren Michaels and a new video was shot. In it, comedian Chevy Chase lip syncs the song while sitting in a plain white room. Simon joins him and the pair then play various instruments along with the track and even do a little dancing. The new video became popular and helped the song up the chart on its second run.


Monday, July 8, 2019

"Wrap It Up" by The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Song#:  2823
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  50
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  This Texas blues band scored a left-field hit with "Tuff Enuff," a track from their fifth album of the same name. The tune would make it to #10 at Pop while reaching #4 at Rock. For a follow-up, this next song was selected. Again, it would do well at Rock reaching the Top 10 at #8. However, at Pop it didn't catch on as well and the single stopped at the halfway point. The two songs helped the band's album reach #13 and it would eventually go platinum.

ReduxReview:  I thought this was a good follow-up to "Tuff Enuff." The old soul tune (see below) had never really been a significant hit so it would have been fresh to a lot of listeners. I was familiar with it due to a Eurythmics cover, so I liked the song. The Thunderbirds do a good version and although it's not quite as sleek as their ZZ Top-ish produced first hit, I thought the tune might crack the Top 40. Rock radio picked up on it, but it seems pop listeners weren't as into it. I thought it was just as good as "Tuff Enuff."

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the soul duo Sam & Dave in 1968. The song was used as the b-side to their #9 Pop/#4 R&B hit "I Thank You." It also appeared on their album of the same name. While it would not chart on its own, it did become a popular song within the duo's catalog. It was written by Dave Porter and Isaac Hayes. Other artists recorded the tune and the first chart appearance for it came in 1970 when Archie Bell & the Drells took it to #33 R&B and #93 Pop. The Fabulous Thunderbirds would be the only other artist to reach the Pop chart with the song. Although it would not be released as a single, Eurythmics did a synthpop version of the song for their breakthrough album, 1983's Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).


Sunday, July 7, 2019

"Love Always" by El DeBarge

Song#:  2822
Date:  08/09/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  43
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The tune "Who's Johnny" from the film Short Circuit would officially launch DeBarge's solo career. The dance-pop track would be a winner getting to #3 at Pop and #1 R&B. It was included on DeBarge's self-titled debut solo album as was this follow-up single. The song did quite well at R&B (#7) and AC (#8), but it just couldn't break wide at Pop and it stalled outside of the Top 40. Still, the two songs would help DeBarge's debut album reach gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  It seemed Motown desperately wanted to make El DeBarge a superstar. So much so that they didn't allow him to do anything on the album except sing. No songwriting and no production. Both of which he accomplished successfully on the DeBarge family albums. The LP is chock full of songwriting heavyweights along with top notch producers Peter Wolf and Jay Graydon, but what came out was a mish mash of meh and what made El DeBarge special was completely missing. He lucked out with the jam "Who's Johnny," but this next single was just so bland. Burt Bacharach (see below) is one of my songwriting heroes, but not every tune can be a winner and this was certainly one of his lesser compositions. It's forgettable and had no business being a single. Even DeBarge sounds bored. It's musical Sominex. Frankly, DeBarge deserved better than this. Actually, he deserved better than this whole album.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager with Bruce Roberts. Bacharach and Bayer Sager were at their peak as a writing team during this time. Their best moments were two big #1 hits: "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne & Friends and "On My Own" by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald. They racked up a few other chart entries including this one by El DeBarge. Bacharach and Bayer Sager were married from 1982 to 1991. Their songwriting partnership pretty much dissolved after their divorce ending a fruitful period for the writers. Their last charting song as a writing team seems to have been the 1991 tune "Ever Changing Times" by Aretha Franklin and Michael McDonald. The duet got to #19 at R&B.