Saturday, August 3, 2019

"Girl Can't Help It" by Journey

Song#:  2849
Date:  08/30/1986
Debut:  79
Peak:  17
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Journey's second single from their album Raised on Radio, "Suzanne," would do fairly well getting to #17 Pop and #11 Rock. For a follow-up, this mid-tempo track was select for release. It would do slightly better at Rock than "Suzanne" getting into the Top 10 at #9. At Pop, the song would hit the exact same #17 mark as "Suzanne" and stayed on the chart for one additional week. The single would help sell a few more albums and eventually it would go double platinum. It was Journey's sixth studio album in a row to go into multi-platinum territory.

ReduxReview:  This album opener certainly announced that Journey was easing into a more pop-oriented rock sound with this album. It's not like they haven't flirted with a soft rock-ish style before, such as "Who's Crying Now," but that song still had a solid rock undercurrent flowing through it whereas this song had a glossy pop sheen coating the rock. Still, it worked well and it's actually a solid song. It was a much better choice of a single than "Suzanne" and perhaps if it had been released instead as the second single it might have done better.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1948, a Portuguese family named Pereira opened up a radio station, KNGS, in Hanford, California. The AM station featured Portuguese language programs in their broadcasts, but that stopped when they sold the station in the 70s and the format was changed to country music. Another sale of the station would take place later in the 80s and the call letters updated to KCLQ. In 1990, the Pereira's took over the station once again, changed the call letters to KIGS, and resumed their Portuguese language programming. So how does this relate to Journey? It was lead singer Steve Perry's parents who were the Pereira family that owned the station. The cover art for Journey's Raised on Radio album is a depiction of the KNGS station. The artwork was done by Michael Cotten and Prairie Prince. In addition to being a graphic artist, Prince was also a drummer who co-founded Journey back in the day, although he left the band before they got a recording contract. He missed out on making hits with Journey, but he would go on to join another band that made it big, The Tubes. Cotten was also a member of that band and the pair often did graphic art project together. So what happened to the radio station? It is still in operation as KIGS and after a sale in 2014, the station became an outlet for Radio Punjab, a Punjabi language music/talk format.

Friday, August 2, 2019

"Another Heartache" by Rod Stewart

Song#:  2848
Date:  08/30/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  52
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Stewart once again found himself in the Pop Top 10 with "Love Touch" (#6), the theme song from the film Legal Eagles. The tune also served as the first single from his fourteenth studio album Every Beat of My Heart. Stewart needed this follow-up single to do well in order to keep album sales going. Unfortunately, the tune couldn't quite catch on and it stopped shy of the halfway point on the chart. It also made a brief appearance on the Rock chart at #45. Without a second significant hit, the album stopped and #28 and failed to reach gold-level sales.

ReduxReview:  Stewart goes for a more contemporary rock sound here and it doesn't work out all that well. He sounds so stiff on this track. He fights against it, especially in the chorus, but it just makes the song sound awkward. The tune itself is just okay. It's certainly not one of the best efforts from Adams/Vallance (see below) and it didn't make a good single candidate. I like Stewart a little more loose and even a bit kooky. This slice of corporate rock just didn't suit him well.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Here's another charting song by the writing team of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. As a side gig, the pair would write songs that would be hawked to other artists. Many artists from various genres of music would record the pair's songs including Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt, Krokus, Lonestar, Neil Diamond, Motley Crue, and Celine Dion. Several of these would be released as singles with seven of them reaching the US Pop chart. Unfortunately, none of the tunes would reach the Top 10. The only one to get close was Joe Cocker's 1989 hit "When the Night Comes," which got to #11. That song was written by Adams and Vallance with Diane Warren.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel

Song#:  2847
Date:  08/30/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  26
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Gabriel's fifth solo album, So, produced his first Top 10 hit with "Sledgehammer." It went to #1 at both Pop and Rock thanks in part to the song's innovative video, which won nine MTV Music Video Awards. To follow it up this next track was selected for release. The tune replicate the success of "Sledgehammer" at Rock and went to #1. On the Pop chart, it didn't do as well and the single stopped after getting inside the Top 30. It wasn't a great result, but in a couple of years the song would get a second lease on life. It would be featured in a now-iconic scene in the 1989 rom-com Say Anything... starring John Cusack. The song would actually be reissued and would chart again that year. The scene from the film has been imitated, parodied, and referenced many times over the years and it turned this mild charting single into one of Gabriel's most popular tracks. It remained so popular over the years that in 2005 the digital version of the song was awarded a gold record. It would be Gabriel's first and only single to reach that certification.

ReduxReview:  I thought that this was a good follow-up to "Sledgehammer" and was a terrific song. I think most folks liked the tune, but for Pop radio it wasn't a hooky jam like the previous hit and therefore just didn't catch on as well. The song finally got its due after being in a movie, yet it should have originally been a bigger hit. It's a beautiful song with wonderful world music touches like the voice of Youssou N'Dour (see below). People finally gravitated to the song over the years, but at the time they were just looking for another "Sledgehammer"-style hit, which they would get with Gabriel's next single.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song featured vocals by Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour. Born in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, N'Dour began performing in his early teens and often sang with one of Senegal's most popular acts, Star Band. In the late 70s, he helped form a band that by the early 80s evolved into Le Super Etoile. N'Dour and Le Super Etoile began recording albums in 1982 and quickly became the most popular band in the country. They were also gaining admirers around the world and by '84 they were touring Europe and and the US. Gabriel, who was always expanding his musical horizons, became familiar with N'Dour's work and invited him to be a guest on this song. N'Dour obliged and he is featured singing in his native language, Wolof, in the last section of the song. This led to N'Dour working with other artists like Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, Sting, and many others. N'Dour would reach the US Pop singles chart with one of his songs only once. His 1994 duet with Neneh Cherry titled "7 Seconds" would scrape the chart at #98. His associated album, The Guide (Wommat), would reach #2 on the World Music chart. While "7 Seconds" wasn't a significant hit in the US, it was N'Dour's biggest charting single worldwide. The song would go Top 10 in many countries including the UK (#3), France (#1), and Italy (#1). N'Dour would be nominated for six Grammys and would win one. His 2004 LP Egypt would win for Best Contemporary World Music Album.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"I'll Be Over You" by Toto

Song#:  2846
Date:  08/30/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  11
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Toto's follow-up to their 1982 Grammy-winning, triple platinum album Toto IV, 1984's Isolation, was a significant disappointment. It failed to generate a major hit and that left the LP peaking at a low #42 and only hitting gold-level sales. It was a major bump in the road for the band who then had to reassess their musical direction. For their next effort, Fahrenheit, the band skipped the edgier rock found on Isolation for a more mainstream pop/AC sound. This first single showcased their more laid back approach and it was greeted very well at AC where the tune hit #1 for a couple of weeks. The song was a slow starter at Pop, but it gained enough momentum to nearly crack the Top 10. It peaked at the dreaded #11 spot. It was a good return for the band, but the hit didn't necessarily translate into album sales. The LP peaked at #40 and had trouble getting to the gold level sales mark. Eventually, enough sales trickled in over the years and the album was finally certified gold in 1994. It would be the band's last studio album to go gold.

ReduxReview:  This is a pleasant piece of So.Cal studio pop/yacht rock expertly crafted by the band. This falls more in line with some of the material from Toto IV and it works for them. The addition of Michael McDonald on backing vocals is a nice touch as well. I think this tune was written to be a hit and to get them back in the mainstream graces again. It accomplished that, but it seems like folks were gun shy after the Isolation debacle and weren't ready to fully get back on board with Toto. Plus, in the short few years since Toto IV, music on the chart had changed and the band somehow got relegated to the AC crowd and weren't considered that hip any longer. They wouldn't get this high on the Pop chart again.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  For Isolation, the band hired new lead singer Fergie Frederikson after their original lead singer, Bobby Kimball, was fired. In addition to the music direction of the band not working out, it seemed things were not all that great with Frederikson either and he was let go. For Fahrenheit, the band brought on board Joseph Williams. Williams is the son of famous conductor/film music composer John Williams. The younger Williams developed an interest in music and his singer/songwriter skills got him signed to MCA. He released a self-titled debut album in 1982, but it came and went to little notice. When Toto was looking for a singer, Williams auditioned and got the job. He stayed with the band for two albums before being replaced. However, Williams would rejoin the band in 2010 and to this posting date is still with them. Williams took the lead on all but two tracks on Fahrenheit. Oddly, those two track, including this one, were the LP's first singles and both were sung by long-time member Steve Lukather.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

"Love Comes Quickly" by Pet Shop Boys

Song#:  2845
Date:  08/30/1986
Debut:  90
Peak:  62
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This UK duo stormed the US with the one-two punch of "West End Girls" (#1) and "Opportunities" (#10). The hits helped their debut album, Please, reach #7 and go platinum. They tried to keep the hits going with this third single. Unfortunately, it didn't catch on as well as their previous singles and it stalled in the bottom half of the Pop chart. Things were more positive on the Dance chart where a 12" remix of the song and associated b-side, "That's My Impression," got to #10.

ReduxReview:  This was another solid track from the Boys, but it might have been a little on the subtle side for Pop. Their previous singles were more striking with the talk/rap of "West End Girls" and the catchy chorus of "Opportunities" cutting through the typical pop radio fare. This track was quieter by comparison and it seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Still, it's a quality tune from the duo.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In November of '86, the Pet Shop Boys would assemble a remix album titled Disco. It would contain remixes of a few track from Please and two b-sides from their singles. The duo's popularity in the dance clubs and on the charts helped the LP reach #15 in the UK. Remix albums weren't quite as popular in the US at the time, but Disco sold a few copies and got to #95 on the Album chart. Tracks from the LP would be spun in clubs and that would lead to the whole Disco album getting to #12 on the Dance chart. This would not be Pet Shop Boys' only remix LP. Over the years they would release three more Disco remix collections. Disco 2 would get to #75 (#6 UK) in 1994 and Disco 3 would scratch the chart at #188 (#36 UK) in 2003. The 2007 set Disco 4 would not chart.


Monday, July 29, 2019

"Somebody's Out There" by Triumph

Song#:  2844
Date:  08/30/1986
Debut:  91
Peak:  27
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This Canadian band may not have racked up any major hits in the US, but they sold plenty of albums with three going gold and one platinum. US Rock radio was supportive and they had gathered three Top 10's by this point in time. For their eighth album, The Sport of Kings, the band amped up the commercial aspects of their music, but it still wasn't quite enough for their label, MCA, who were looking for a hit to sell the LP. The band then came up with this track and it seemed to please their label enough and it was issued out as the album's first single. The track would become their fourth Top 10 at Rock getting to #9. It also caught on a bit at Pop and the single would be their best charting effort getting into the Top 30. With their track record, that should have secured them another gold album, but with follow-up song not charting at Pop and only one other track hitting the Rock chart (the #23 "Tears in the Rain"), the album stopped at #33 and missed out on going gold. This song would be the band's last one to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Here is one that I totally forgot about. The band really did what they could to create a radio-ready arena rock hit and they were successful. I'm sure some of their original fans were not all that keen on this hooky Journey-ish track, but under pressure they came up with a solid piece of commercial rock. It was produced well and Rik Emmett's lead vocals are killer, even ending on a big high note. The tune also sounds like it could have been used in an 80s teen flick. Everything was in place here and it probably should have done better than Top 30, but it still ended up being their best effort at Pop. If you like some catchy corporate rock (I do), this one is a forgotten winner.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Even by The Sport of Kings, there were tensions within the band on direction and issues with their label. After one more album, the less-commercial 1987's Surveillance, one of the band's leading members, Rik Emmett, decided to depart. The band found a replacement and moved on for one more album in 1993. It was not a success and after more label problems, the band finally dissolved. After many years apart, the original members got back together in 2008. Although they would be a popular concert draw, the band has yet to record a reunion studio album.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

"Heartbeat" by Don Johnson

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2843
Date:  08/23/1986
Debut:  67
Peak:  5
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Actor Don Johnson had been working in film and television since 1970, but he didn't become a major star until he took the role of Sonny Crockett on the hit NBC series Miami Vice. That success gave Johnson leeway to do other projects and the one thing he always wanted to do was be a rock musician. Johnson sang as a kid and later taught himself guitar. He wrote an occasional song and thanks to some of his acting gigs he hung out with all kinds of rock stars. But he never dove headfirst into music and recorded an album. He finally got that chance with the money and clout he built up from his Miami Vice stardom. While that show was famous for its use of pop music, spawning three soundtrack albums, Johnson decided to not intertwine his music project with the show. He hired on Chas Sanford as producer (Keith Diamond would also contribute), secured session players, chose material and recorded tracks for a debut album titled Heartbeat. This title track would be the LP's first single. The popularity of Johnson and the show helped get the song off the ground, but soon it was catching fire and it ended up in the Pop Top 10.  It also made the Rock chart at #26. The hit helped the album sell well and get to #19. By November, the album would be certified gold. It seemed like a solid start on a path to a music career, but the song would end up being Johnson's only major hit.

ReduxReview:  Johnson's star status certainly played a role in making this a hit, but I think the song stood on its own. Johnson rocked it up fairly well and it wasn't too far from Rick Springfield territory. If another artist did this tune with the same production, I believe it still might have been a hit. It had a strong chorus, meaty production, and sounded good on the radio. Johnson had a capable voice and it worked just fine for this song. At the time, folks were kinda like "oh god - not another TV star trying to be a singer," but Johnson had enough of a musical background to make it work. It also helped that he brought along some of his famous friends to help. Both Bob Seger and Tom Petty contributed a couple of old tunes of theirs while Bonnie Raitt, Dickey Betts, and Willie Nelson made appearances. Johnson even co-wrote a couple of songs for the LP. While it wasn't a fantastic album, it wasn't all that bad either. This song was the standout and best candidate for a hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song is a remake of one originally recorded by singing star Helen Reddy. She recorded the song for 1983 synthpop effort Imagination. It was not issued out as a single. The song was written by Eric Kaz and Wendy Waldman. It was Reddy's second album for her new label MCA, but problems and restructuring at the label left Reddy hanging and with no promotion the album disappeared quickly. This tune found its way to Johnson and he turned it into a hit.  2) While this was Johnson's first go-around as a recording artist, he did grab a couple of composer credits back in the day. When Johnson was filming the 1975 action flick Return to Macon County, he happened to run into Dickey Betts, guitarist for The Allman Brothers Band. The pair became friendly and ended up co-writing some songs. Two of their efforts, "Can't Take It with You" and "Blind Love," were recorded by The Allman Brothers and put on their 1979 album Enlightened Rogues. That album would be a #9 gold seller. "Can't Take It with You" would be released as the LP's second single, but it came short of hitting the Pop chart bubbling under at #105. The album's main hit was "Crazy Love," which got to #29.