Saturday, October 26, 2019

"You Got It All" by The Jets

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2933
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  3
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This family band grabbed their first major crossover hit with "Crush on You" (#3 Pop/#4 R&B/#4 Dance), the second single from their self-titled debut album. A third single didn't generate much interest, but the label went ahead and issued out this fourth attempt. The ballad was a slow starter, but eventually it crawled its way up into the Pop Top 10. It did even better at R&B getting to #2 and then even better at AC where it hit #1. The album had already reached gold-level sales in September, but this hit spurred more copies to be bought and by the summer of '87 it went platinum.

ReduxReview:  Had this been released as the second single, I think it might have topped the Pop chart. Instead, it had to fight its way up the chart following the dismal showing of "Private Number." Luckily, this song was so well written that it was able to regain the audience they lost. It featured a lovely performance by Elizabeth Wolfgramm. It was a pretty tune that was perfect for the young family band and it appealed to a lot of folks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Rupert Holmes. Holmes was a recording artist himself who had a very memorable hit in 1979 with "Escape (The PiƱa Colada Song)" (#1 Pop/#8 AC) and its 1980 follow-up "Him" (#6 Pop/#4 AC). He also wrote songs for other artists and branched out to Broadway with the hit Tony-winning 1985 musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was while he was working with Drood that his manager approached him about writing a song for a new family act. They were looking for a ballad and the lead singer would be the 14-year-old sister in the group. Holmes thought it would be a challenge to write a love song appropriate for her to sing and for others around her age to understand. He also thought about his own 10-year-old daughter when writing it and her being able to share the song with her friends. He came up with "You Got It All" and The Jets recorded the tune. It became a big hit, but sadly it was one that Holmes was unable to enjoy. Prior to the release of the record, his daughter died from a brain tumor. Holmes' own version of the song can be heard on his 2005 career-spanning box set Cast of Characters.  2) Britney Spears recorded a version of this song during the sessions that lead to her debut album. Apparently, her version of this song was the one that tipped the scales in her favor and got the label fully on board with her as an artist. Unfortunately, the song didn't make the final track listing of her 1999 smash debut LP ...Baby One More Time.


Friday, October 25, 2019

"Some People" by Paul Young

Song#:  2932
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  65
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Paul Young broke through in a big way in the US with his second album The Secrets of Association. The gold-selling album featured his remake of the Hall & Oates tune "Everytime You Go Away," which reached #1. Young co-wrote five tracks for that album and so for his next effort, Between Two Fires, he upped it to eight. That total included this first single. It debuted low on the chart and then never really took off. It stopped far short of the Top 40. It did just slightly better at Rock getting to #43. Further singles failed to reach any chart and that pretty much doomed the album. It halted at #77 and disappeared soon after. It was a major disappointment following the success of The Secrets of Association. The LP did better in his UK homeland where it got to #4 and went platinum. Three singles would reach the chart there, but only the lead single "Wonderland" would get anywhere hitting #24.

ReduxReview:  Up to this point, Young had six singles that made it on the US Pop chart. All were cover tunes except the #56 "Everything Must Change," which Young co-wrote. I think he got to the point where he wanted his own music be the focus instead of the remakes and so he loaded up the next album with more of his compositions. While that was fine, the problem then became that he had to write at least one song with hit potential. Unfortunately, he didn't accomplish that. I'm assuming this track was considered the one with the most commercial appeal from the album. If that was the case, his label should have sent him back to the studio to try again. This was a snoozer that had a painfully light blue-eyed soul shuffle and a forgettable chorus. It was a very weak single choice and the chart peak reflected that. It didn't do any better in the UK getting to #56. As a singer, Young is excellent and does well with cover tunes. When it comes to writing his own songs, he's a bit limited. I tried to listen to the full album, but bailed halfway through because I was just bored. It's not that the tunes are bad, they just weren't good enough to keep my attention. He would rebound with two more cover songs (see below), but trying to push himself out to the masses as a hit songwriter was the costly mistake he made with this album.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Although this would be Young's last single to reach the Pop chart in the 80s, he would have two more entries in the 90s. His next album, Other Voices, contained Young's remake of "Oh Girl," a song originally recorded by The Chi-Lites in 1972. Their version made it to #1 on both the Pop and R&B charts. Young's cover became an unexpected hit in the US and got to #8 Pop and #1 AC. Despite the hit, the album didn't sell and it stalled at a minor #142. It would be his last album to chart in the US. Later in 1992, Young contributed the track "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" to the soundtrack of the hit film Fried Green Tomatoes. That song was originally a hit for Jimmy Ruffin in 1966. Ruffin's version reached #7 Pop and #6 R&B. Young's remake got to #22 Pop and #1 AC. It would be his last charting single in the US.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

"Stranglehold" by Paul McCartney

Song#:  2931
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  81
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  McCartney's sixth solo-billed studio album, Press to Play, did not get off to a great start. The LP's first single, "Press," was not a significant hit. It failed to get close to the Top 10 stopping at a low #21.  McCartney needed a follow-up single to do well in order to push album sales and this track was selected for the task. Unfortunately, it performed even worse only spending a minor few weeks near the bottom of the chart. A third single, "Only Love Remains," would actually be a hit at AC getting to #9, but it failed to reach the Pop chart. Without a significant hit to promote the album, it stopped at #31 and failed to reach gold-level sales. It was McCartney's first post-Beatles studio album to not get a sales certification. The disappointing results of the album sparked McCartney to work extra hard on his next effort, which he would not have ready until the summer of '89.

ReduxReviewPress to Play wasn't an album that was full of viable singles. Besides "Press" there wasn't much in the way of radio-friendly material. It probably wasn't the case, but I kind of feel that by this point McCartney still wanted to experiment a bit, but had an attitude like "hey, I'll record what I want and I'm sure something will stick and it will be a hit as usual." Not necessarily complacent, but perhaps figuring that whatever he did would be received with open arms and without question. I'm sure his management had a bunch of yes-men that concurred, which never helps. While the album was certainly an interesting one in his catalog, it wasn't one with commercial prospects. The first single faltered and then this jazz-rock-blues track fizzled big time. And it should have. It wasn't even close to being single-worthy. The single that the UK got instead of this one (see below) was an even worse candidate, although it was a more interesting listen. I think McCartney learned after this album that not everything he did would lead to gold and if he wanted to continue to compete with the popular artists of the day he was going to have to raise his game and not rely on his legendary status. It would take him nearly three years to complete his next album, so it seems he did take a step back to reorganize. Did it pay off? Tune in when this blog finally gets to '89! In the meantime, we are stuck here with the messier side of McCartney.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This single was only issued in the US and Canada. In other territories the second single from the album was "Pretty Little Head." It didn't perform any better only getting to #76 in the UK. "Only Love Remains" would be the common third single. It didn't reach the US Pop chart, but it did get to #34 in the UK.  2) The 80s were the decade of the event/charity song thanks to "Do They Know It's Christmas" and "We Are the World." After Press to Play and before his next album in '89, McCartney would contribute to three charity-based singles. The first was a remake of The Beatles' "Let It Be." Organized by the UK tabloid The Sun, the single was to benefit victims of a ferry that capsized after leaving the docks in Zeebrugge, Belgium, killing 193 people. The song featured a long list of musicians including McCartney, Kate Bush, Boy George, and Kim Wilde. It was released as being by Ferry Aid. The song reached #1 in the UK. Next was the 1988 single "Children in Need," which was organized by the BBC for their charity of the same name. The single was listed as by Spirit of Play. McCartney was the only superstar to work on the song. He produced it and played bass. The indie-released song didn't get a lot of attention and only peaked at #72 in the UK. Finally, a few Liverpool artists including McCartney, Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), and Gerry Marsden (Gerry & the Pacemakers) got together to record "Ferry Across the Mersey" as a benefit for the victims of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster prior to an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Masses of people trying to get into the stadium for the match caused a backup and it ended up with a giant crush of people where 96 died and over 700 were injured. The single would reach #1 on the UK chart. Marsden wrote the song and it was originally recorded by him and his band the Pacemakers in 1964. It would be a hit the UK (#8) and the US (#6).


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"I Want to Make the World Turn Around" by Steve Miller Band

Song#:  2930
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  97
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  It had been two years since Miller released his synth-heavy experimental album Italian X-Rays. That LP was not well-received and it became one of Miller's worst performing albums reaching only #106. That was in sharp contrast to his previous album Abracadabra, which was a #3 platinum hit. For his next effort, Miller decided to chuck the modern sounds and get back to blues-influenced rock that made him famous. Living in the 20th Century would feature five self-penned tracks along with several blues covers. Rock radio had ignored all the songs from Italian X-Rays, but when this first single was issued out, it was welcomed with arms wide open. The tune hit the top of the Rock chart and stayed there for a six-week run. That seemed to bode well for success on the Pop chart, but the song couldn't even get a foothold. It spent a very minor three weeks near the bottom of the chart. No other songs from the album would reach any chart. Still, this song's success at Rock helped sell some albums and it peaked at #65. Not great, but much better than his previous disc. Miller would release a solo billed covers album in '88 titled Born 2 B Blue. It generated the #10 Rock track "Ya Ya," but the LP didn't sell well and stopped at #108. It was his last LP for his home label of Capitol, with whom he had been with since 1968. Miller would have one more song reach the Pop and Rock charts. In 1993, the title track from his album Wild River would get to #7 at Rock and #64 Pop. He has only released two albums since then. In 2016, Miller was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

ReduxReview:  This atmospheric track was certainly better than anything off of Italian X-Rays, but it wasn't necessarily the most pop-radio friendly tune. It had a bit of a Pink Floyd-ish feel to it and almost sounded like something from a concept album. Rock radio certainly jumped on it, but I'm not surprised that it was ignored at Pop. This track was just too subtle to compete with the more forceful, hooky dance-pop, rock, and R&B jams crowding the airwaves and MTV. Still, it could be considered a bit of a comeback after the disastrous Italian X-Rays.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  On the back cover of this album, Miller had printed "Dedicated to the loving memory of Jimmy Reed." Reed was an influential blues musician and songwriter who had success in late 50s and early 60s when he would score ten R&B Top 10s. Several of his hits like "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," "Big Boss Man," and "Bright Lights, Big City" would be covered by many artists including The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Animals, Elvis Presley, and The Grateful Dead. Miller and his band recorded Reed's "You're So Fine" for their album Sailor (1968). Having been influenced by Reed, Miller decided to record four of Reed's tunes, three of which were written by Reed, for the Living in the 20th Century album. Reed had passed away in 1976 at the age of 50, but his influence reached far beyond that. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

"Talk to Me" by Chico DeBarge

Song#:  2929
Date:  11/08/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  21
Weeks:  20
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  The DeBarge family consisted of ten children. The first seven born found success in music with two brothers in the band Switch and the other five siblings hitting it big as DeBarge. Their younger brother Chico (the eighth DeBarge kid born Jonathan Arthur) was barely a teenager when the family band started and didn't join them. His brothers and sister found fame and fortune and it wasn't long before Chico wanted to join the music business. With his siblings doing well on Motown's Gordy label, that certainly provided him with a foot in the door already and indeed it helped him to get signed to Motown. It also helped that he had the family's talent gene and he was able to show it off with his 1986 self-titled debut album. This first single kicked off his career and it did quite well. The song got into the R&B Top 10 (#7) while crossing over to the Pop chart where it nearly cracked the Top 20. It also got to #11 at Dance. The hit helped his album get to #25 R&B and #90 Pop. A second single didn't do as well ("The Girl Next Door," #59 R&B), but this song showed he had the goods to do as well as his other siblings. Unfortunately, his career got sidelined in 1988 (see below), but eventually he would come back and have a little success.

ReduxReview:  This track was different from the dance-pop/AC balladry that his siblings had been serving up. It had a fresher sound that was akin to Prince's and the Minneapolis crowd. The production was terrific and it grooved along quite well. I also like Chico's voice. It's different from El DeBarge's crooning falsetto. The chorus is good, but seems a bit odd being sung by the background singers with Chico riffing around them. Overall, it was a quality debut song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Sadly, like some of his siblings, Chico got involved with drugs. Not long after the release of his second album, 1987's Kiss Serious, he was arrested for drug trafficking along with his older brother Bobby and four others. Chico and another man were transporting over two pounds of cocaine via a commercial flight from L.A. to Detroit. Authorities found the drugs in their bags at the Detroit airport. Bobby and another man had purchased the drugs in an L.A. club. Both Chico and Bobby were sentenced to over five years in prison. After his release, Chico got back to work on his solo career. He released three albums between '97 and '03 including 1999's The Game, which got to #6 R&B/#41 Pop thanks to the #11 R&B/#71 Pop hit "Give You What You Want (Fa Sure)." But then drugs got in the way of his career again when he was arrested in 2007 for drug possession. He ended up in rehab and once he cleaned up, he recorded a new album in 2009 appropriately titled Addiction.


Monday, October 21, 2019

"Tasty Love" by Freddie Jackson

Song#:  2928
Date:  11/08/1986
Debut:  84
Peak:  41
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Jackson's debut album, 1985's Rock Me Tonight, was a #1 R&B platinum seller thanks to four R&B Top 10 hits including two #1's - the title track (#18 Pop) and "You Are My Lady" (#12 Pop/#3 AC). It was quite the debut and it left Jackson with the daunting task of following it up. He came out of the studio with his second LP Just Like the First Time. This first single introduced the album and it became his third solo single to top the R&B chart (fourth overall, see below). It stayed at #1 for four weeks. The tune crossed over to the Pop chart, but unlike his two other #1's it couldn't break into the Top 40. It stopped at the dreaded #41 spot. Despite the lack of support at Pop, the album would be a huge hit at R&B hitting #1 and staying there for an amazing 26 weeks (23 of them consecutive).

ReduxReview:  The vibe of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" is all over this one, yet it doesn't sound like an imitation. Jackson nails the vocals and the groove is quite sweet. Plus, how can you resist a song called "Tasty Love?" I'm surprised Prince didn't think of that one first. The song is good, but I don't think it was as hooky as his previous two Pop entries and that is probably why it stopped shy of the Top 40. It's too bad as this song was...well...tasty.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In between his albums, Jackson appeared as a guest on Melba Moore's album A Lot of Love. Jackson would duet with Moore on the track "A Little Bit More." The song would be the LP's second single and it would end up hitting #1. It was Moore's first #1 on the chart and Jackson's third. The two were already familiar with each other as Jackson had previously been one of Moore's backup singers.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

"Stay the Night" by Benjamin Orr

Song#:  2927
Date:  11/08/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  24
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Although Orr was mainly the bassist in The Cars, he also wrote some of the band's songs and took a turn at lead vocals on occasion. He wrote and sang what would be the band's biggest hit, the #3 "Drive" (1984). When the band took a break after the release of their Greatest Hits album, Orr decided to be the fourth member of the band to do a solo project. He and his girlfriend Diane Grey Page would co-write and co-produce all the tracks on Orr's debut LP The Lace. This first single was issued out and it did well at Rock getting to #6. It couldn't do quite that well at Pop and it ended up peaking outside the Top 20. However, it was a surprising success at AC where it reached #2. A follow-up single, "Too Hot to Stop," got to #25 at Rock, but failed to chart elsewhere. The album sold a few copies and made it to #86. It would end up being Orr's only solo recording. He would continue with The Cars and do other projects over the years. Unfortunately, Orr died of cancer in 2000.

ReduxReview:  Unlike Ric Ocasek's solo work which didn't stray to far from The Cars' sound, Orr ignores much of the band's chugging new wave and goes for modern pop/rock with an 80s production sheen. No one would mistake this track or others on the album as Cars tracks and that's a good thing. Orr was staking out his own territory and it worked pretty well. This mid-tempo tune was a good choice for a single. It kind of has a Foreigner-lite feel and it fits Orr's voice well. The chorus was memorable and I thought it would crack the Top 10. Oddly, despite large support at Rock and AC, the tune fizzled in the Top 30. It should have done better, but at least Orr showed that Ocasek wasn't the only one who could survive on their own outside of The Cars.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Orr's given last name is Orzechowski. When he was growing up, friends and classmates would call him "Benny 11 Letters."  2) Orr's first band was the Cleveland, Ohio, area group the Grasshoppers. They became the house band for a local variety TV show called The Big 5 Show, which began in 1964. They stayed around for 13 episodes of the weekly program, but eventually broke up in 1966. As the story goes, it was after their last appearance on The Big 5 (later titled Upbeat when it went into syndication) that a local musician by the name of Ric Ocasek called up Orr after seeing the show. The two got together and wrote some songs. It took them a while to figure things out (various cites, various band), but by 1976 they were in Boston and had come together with three other musicians to form The Cars.