Saturday, October 12, 2019

"Control" by Janet Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2919
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  73
Peak:  5
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Thus far, Jackson's Control album was three-for-three. Three Pop and R&B Top 10 hits, three gold records. Was there a chance for a fourth? This defiant title track got issued out and the answer to the question was - yes! The single became Jackson's third #1 at R&B and her second #1 at Dance. While it didn't reach the top of the Pop chart, it did become her fourth Top 5 hit and it was also her fourth gold record in a row. This put her on-pace with her brother Michael's run of singles from Thriller. That LP's first four singles were all Pop Top 5 entries as well. At the time, two of the singles would be platinum sellers and one gold.

ReduxReview:  This was such a great album opener. Jackson made a statement right from the get-go and you knew you were in for a terrific ride. I remember writers, critics, etc., were all like "Janet has grown up!" Indeed she had and she developed into a strong, independent woman. There are some artists that gradually mature over time with each release, but with Jackson it was just an immediate and decisive change from her 1984 bubblegum Dream Street album to the gauntlet throwing Control. The LP's run of singles started off with the outstanding "What Have You Done for Me Lately," but it was this song that tied everything together. It was basically a big eff-off to her family (dad in particular) and nothing would be the same for Jackson after this.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  A nine-minute video was shot for this song. While the bulk of it was a performance-style video of the song (with choreography by Paula Abdul), the front section was an acted out drama with Janet trying move away from her parents. She ends up in an argument with her dad. Both the song and the mini-drama were not unlike Jackson's real life as she had been in the process of separating herself from her family, especially from her dad who had also been her manager. In the video, the woman portraying Jackson's mother is actress Ja'net DuBois. It wasn't DuBois' first time playing Jackson's mom. DuBois co-starred on the hit TV comedy Good Times. Jackson would join the show in its fifth season playing Penny, an abused child who ended up abandoned by her parents. DuBois' character, Willona, ends up adopting Penny. Jackson was on the last two season of the show. In the "Control" video, Jackson's father was played by Jerome Benton. He is the brother of former Time member (and Jackson co-writer/producer) Terry Lewis. While Benton was not an actual member of The Time, he became associated with them playing comedic bits on stage on occasion. Folks may remember him from the movie Purple Rain in which he played Morris Day's bodyguard/valet. Benton's most memorable scene is when he runs on stage with a mirror during The Time's performance in order for Day to check his hair. Benton would also make appearances in Prince's two other films Under a Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge.


Friday, October 11, 2019

"All I Wanted" by Kansas

Song#:  2918
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  19
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Following the poor performing 1983 album Drastic Measures, Kansas made the decision to break up. A hits compilation, 1984's The Best of Kansas, would complete their contract with Epic and one final new song, "Perfect Lover," would be issued out as a single. It could only reach #54 at Rock. Then in '85, the band's original lead singer Steve Walsh (he had left them in 1981) got the itch to revive Kansas. He and two other original members got back together and padded out the band with two new members. The reformed group got signed to MCA Records and were able to record a new album titled Power. With the LP, the band moved further away from their prog rock roots and into more pop/rock territory. This first single certainly demonstrated a change in direction and it ended up doing pretty well. It got to #10 at Rock while being their first song to crack the Pop Top 20 since 1982's "Play the Game Tonight" (#18). It also made the AC chart at #14 becoming only their second single to get on that chart (the other was 1978's "Dust in the Wind," which got to #6). The album sold okay getting to #35. It was a good comeback, but like many it was short-lived. This song would be their last to reach the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  This is a tune I'd forgotten about. Probably because it wasn't that memorable to begin with, but at least I did recognize it once it started to play. This certainly isn't the Kansas of "Carry on My Wayward Son" or even "Play the Game Tonight." It was a definite stab at getting a Pop chart hit a la Survivor. They accomplished the task since it made the Top 20, but in doing so they lost some of their core audience who loved the band's prog rock Leftoverture days. I was never really a big fan of the band to begin with but their earlier work was certainly more interesting than this slick radio pandering track.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While Steve Walsh was away from Kansas, he didn't remain idle. He formed a new band called Streets. While they didn't catch on in a big way like Kansas, they did get some attention. Their debut album, appropriately title 1st, spawned the single "If Love Should Go" (#7 Rock/#87 Pop). The band recorded a second album, but then broke up after its lackluster performance. Kansas had split a year or so earlier, so with Walsh looking for a new project, that is when he thought a Kansas revival would be a good idea.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

"Someday" by Glass Tiger

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2917
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  82
Peak:  7
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  This Canadian outfit did well at home and in the US with their first single "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)." The track would hit #1 in Canada while reaching #2 in the US (#17 Rock/#30 AC). For a follow-up, this mellower mid-tempo track was selected. This time around it did better in the US than Canada. The song made the US Pop Top 10 while getting to #14 at home. The song was also a hit on the US AC chart reaching #4. The double hits would help the album reach gold-level sales in the US (500,000+ copies) while going quad-platinum in Canada (400,000+ copies).

ReduxReview:  "Don't Forget Me" got people's attention, but I actually preferred this tune a bit better. It's a nicely written tune with a pretty melody and memorable chorus. The 80s production doesn't overwhelm the song either. I've always found it akin to Starship's hit "Sara." It's not quite as good as that track, but it is still a well done song and deserved its Top 10 placement.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Glass Tiger's "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" would win the Juno for Single of the Year in 1986. Due to when it was released as a single, "Someday" became eligible for the 1987 Juno Awards. It was not only nominated for Single of the Year, but it won. While it wasn't the first time an artist won back-to-back awards for Single of the Year (Anne Murray did it first in '80 and '81), it was the first time an artist won twice in a row with two singles from the same album. They remained the only artist to do that until Alanis Morissette did it in '96 and '97 with two songs from her mega-hit album Jagged Little Pill. Only one artist has accomplished that feat at the Grammy Awards in the Record of the Year category. U2 won in 2001 and 2002 with two tracks from their album All That You Can't Leave Behind.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

"Goldmine" by The Pointer Sisters

Song#:  2916
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  84
Peak:  33
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  Although The Pointer Sisters' 1985 album Contact would be a platinum seller, it signaled a dip in their popularity. The album featured only one Pop Top 40 entry, "Dare Me," which got shut out of the Pop Top 10 at #11 (#6 R&B). This was a disappointment since their previous LP, the multi-platinum Break Out, generated four Top 10s. Undeterred, the Sisters went back into the studio for an eighth time with producer Richard Perry and recorded their twelfth studio album Hot Together. This first single was issue out ahead of the LP. The track was a mediocre hit getting to #17 at R&B, #27 AC, and making the Pop Top 40. It did better at Dance where combined with another album track, "Sexual Power," it got to #7. It was the worst start to one of their albums since 1979's Priority failed to get a single on any of the charts. The lack of an out-of-the-box hit certain hurt album sales and the LP stalled at #48.

ReduxReview:  The old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" can apply to a lot of things, but it is not always the best approach in pop music. Hot Together is an example of that. The Sisters kept their formula going of working with Richard Perry and seeking out dance-pop/lite-R&B tunes from hit songwriters, some of whom wrote tunes for their previous albums. The problem is that by this point in time the formula was wearing thin. They stayed the course and didn't venture off the set path, which was a mistake. Contact should have been their last album with Perry. The results should have been a tip off that they needed a change. They needed a hot new producer like Narada Michael Walden or maybe even Jam & Lewis to keep them going. That didn't happen and what we were left with was a bland, heard-it-before album full of average material like this first single. This song nearly sounded out of date when it was released. I'd call it a "cute" little tune, but there was just no way it could compete with the trio's biggest hits. Unfortunately, it was all downhill after this.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The opening track on Hot Together, "My Life," was co-written by Adele Bertei, David Paul Bryant, and comedian/actress Sandra Bernhard. Bernhard's star was rising thanks to her breakout supporting role in the 1983 Robert De Niro/Martin Scorcese film The King of Comedy. She would often sing in her one-woman shows and her love of music led to lyric writing. Most of her co-writes were for her own performances/recordings, but this is one tune she was credited on that made it to another artist. Bernhard's 1987 off-Broadway show Without You, I'm Nothing would garner her rave reviews and three years later it would be turned into a critically acclaimed film. Her 1998 show I'm Still Here...Damn It! would make it to Broadway. However, she is often best known for her recurring role as Nancy on the hit sitcom Roseanne. Nancy is often cited as one of the first openly bi-sexual characters in a recurring role on a US TV series. Bernhard has appeared in numerous TV shows and films over the years and in 2018 she began a recurring role as nurse Judy on the hit FX series Pose.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"Daydream Believer" by The Monkees

Song#:  2915
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  90
Peak:  79
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  With Monkeemania back in full swing thanks to MTV airing reruns of The Monkees, it seemed like the right time for a new hits compilation to hit the market. Arista Records stepped up to the plate and came up with Then & Now...The Best of The Monkees. In addition to their hits and key tracks, two of the Monkees, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, reunited to record three new tracks including the set's first single "That Was Then, This Is Now." That song surprisingly made the Pop Top 20 (#20). For a follow up, instead of releasing another new track that featured just two of the Monkees, one of their older hits would get a bit of a remix and pushed out instead. The Davy Jones-led "Daydream Believer" was selected for release. While it picked up some airplay and a few sales, the reissue didn't fully catch on and it fell off the chart after a short month. However, the first single and interest in the Monkees helped the album get to #21. By early '87 it would be a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This version of the song got spruced up a bit. Mainly, the little studio talk section heard in the original is gone while the drums were adjusted/pumped up to help the track fit in with other 80s pop on the radio. It's fine, but I kind of hate when they mess with old hits. It rarely provides any improvement or makes them more interesting. The original was wonderful, so why mess with that? This one is not too bad since the main thing they toyed with was the drums, but I find them a bit distracting. I prefer the drums they way they had them recorded when the song was first done. Just leave the track alone. Still, it's a great song and they didn't mess it up too much. The original song would rate a 9. This remix gets pushed down to a 6.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was The Monkees' third and final #1 hit. Released late in 1967, it would be the first single from their fifth album The Birds, the Bees, & the Monkees. The album would also yield the band's last Top 10, the #3 "Valleri." "Daydream Believer" was written by John Stewart, a former member of the popular folk group The Kingston Trio. Several artist have remade the song, but only country star Anne Murray was able to hit the Pop chart with a version. Her 1979 take on the tune peaked on the Pop chart at #12 in 1980 while reaching #3 at Country.


Monday, October 7, 2019

"Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" by Samantha Fox

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2914
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Although this English performer first got noticed as a model/pin-up girl, she already had an interest in music and even started her own band when she was in her teens. She was also involved in theater as well. The fame Fox achieved due to modeling afforded her the opportunity to attempt a career in music. She was sixteen when she signed her first record deal with the small indie label Lamborghini (yes, of the famous car company - the CEO Patrick Mimran was an artist/musician and started the label). A couple of singles were recorded and released, but nothing much came from them. Later in '86, Fox decided to leave modeling to focus solely on pop music. She signed on with Jive Records and recorded her debut album Touch Me. This first single was released in England and Europe in the spring of '86. The tune took off and it got to #3 in the UK while hitting #1 in several other countries. Its success then prompted a release in the US in the fall. After a slow start, the song gained momentum and eventually made the Pop Top 10. It was also a minor entry at Dance getting to #41. The hit helped the album get to #24. Fox's new career was off to a solid start.

ReduxReview:  Instead of downplaying her modeling experience (see below), Fox seemed to embrace and capitalize on it with this single. I'm sure it helped sell records in the UK, but the song was apparently good enough on its own to catch on in the US since most folks didn't necessarily know about Fox's previous career. I was a person who didn't know, but this song certainly gave me a clue. Weirdly, I remember this song coming out and I didn't care for it. The tune came off as a bit sleazy to me, which is saying something since I was listening to racier stuff from artists like Prince. I mean, Madonna had her moments at the time, but she wasn't moaning and such like Fox is on this one. It just seemed a little bit too much for a dance-pop single at the time. Now it seems nearly innocent. Oh, how times change. These days I don't mind the song. It is pretty good dance-pop, if a little stuck in the 80s. It is certainly one you don't hear any more. It's not going to get played in supermarkets and mall stores, but it's kind of fun when it rolls up on a playlist.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The start to Fox's modeling career was a bit unconventional and definitely wouldn't have gone over well in the US. In 1970, the British tabloid newspaper The Sun began to feature a picture of a topless glamour model on its third page. The women then became known as "Page 3" models. They would usually appear multiple times and eventually there was a Page 3 "girl of the year" selected. While the Page 3 feature was not without controversy, especially since it was a daily newspaper accessible to most anyone, it was popular and acceptable enough for it to continue for over 40 years. The one thing about the Page 3 models that would not have happened in the US is that several of them were 16 and 17 years old. Up until 2003 when it got upped to 18, the legal age for topless modeling in the UK was 16. In 1983, Samantha Fox made her first appearance as a Page 3 model at the age of 16. She became popular enough to earn a four-year contract with the newspaper and was selected as Page 3 girl of the year for three consecutive years (1984-86). When her contract was fulfilled with The Sun, Fox moved on to her music career. She would return to Page 3 for a week of photos in 1995 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the feature. The newspaper finally stopped the Page 3 feature in 2015.


Sunday, October 6, 2019

"Falling in Love (Uh-Oh)" by Miami Sound Machine

Song#:  2913
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  25
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The band's breakthrough album, Primitive Love, would be a multi-platinum seller thanks to three Top 10 singles including the #5 "Words Get in the Way." That song was the album's third single and was their highest peaking to-date. With interest in the band still strong, it was decided that a follow-up should be released and this track was selected. It was a good fit for AC and the tune made it to #3. It spent some time on the Pop chart, but in the end could only manage to get inside the Top 30. It would wrap up the run of singles from the album. The band would return to the charts in the summer of '87 for another streak of hits.

ReduxReview:  This was a pleasant little mid-tempo number that served its purpose as a fourth single. It was more suited for AC and it did do well there. It didn't do too bad at Pop, but the mild tune just wasn't strong enough to get much further than the Top 30. Chances are that they didn't really expect to be issuing a fourth single from the LP so the fact that they still had a viable single among the remaining tracks was fortunate.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Despite featuring three Top 10 hits, the Primitive Love album could only manage a #21 peak, which happened in October '86 during the success of "Words Get in the Way." However, the LP remained a consistent seller all year long and would eventually wrap up its stay on the chart after 75 weeks. Because it remained consistently in the top half of the chart for all of '86, the LP claimed the #10 spot on the year-end list of top charting albums. This was a bit unusual due to its #21 peak as most albums that make the year-end Top 10 (or even Top 20) will have hit #1 or peaked inside Top 10. Sometimes a long-lasting consistent seller can be better than having a Top 10 entry that disappears quickly.