Saturday, November 2, 2019

"Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by Georgia Satellites

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2940
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  2
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Southern Rock

Pop Bits:  This Atlanta band began in 1980 as Keith and the Satellites, but after some personnel changes they eventually became the Georgia Satellites. The band recorded a six-song demo with producer Jeff Glixman, but it didn't attract any interest and in 1984 the band decided to call it quits. As members moved on to other bands and jobs, their manager kept hawking the demo and a small British label bit. They assembled the demo into an album and in 1985 released it as Keep the Faith. Suddenly, the disc started to attract attention and that led to band members Dan Baird (lead singer/songwriter) and Rick Richards (guitar) getting back together to revive the Georgia Satellites. Other larger labels started to take notice and in 1986 the band officially signed with Elektra Records. They retained Glixman as producer and began work on a self-titled debut album. By the fall, this first single would be issued out. The simple song with a retro-rock feel quickly became a hit at Rock getting to #2. Thanks to MTV pushing the associated video, the song crossed over to the Pop chart and made it to the runner-up position. People not only bought the single, but they purchased the album as well. It would get to #5 and later in '87 would receive a platinum sales certification.

ReduxReview:  This song was built around a basic 12-bar blues pattern, which wasn't commonly heard in 80s pop chart music. Baird and the boys gave the classic staple a Southern rock twist with chunky, Stones-like guitars, good melodies, and memorable lyrics like the opening line and "no hug-ee, no kiss-ee." Add in a fun video for MTV and a left-field hit was born. Every now and then the old classic sounds come around again and it attracts a fresh, younger audience. The problem though is that the revival is usually short-lived, liked the Stray Cats' rockabilly moment. So the odds were against the band for having further hits, but at least they had this terrific single that would be a bar band staple for years to come.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Producer Jeff Glixman broke through in the business when he produced/co-produced four albums for the rock band Kansas. He worked with the band first on their 1975 second LP Song for America and its 1977 follow-up Masque. But it was the band's next two albums that put them and Glixman on the map. 1976's Leftoverture and 1977's Point of No Return would both be quad-platinum Top 10 albums. Leftoverture featured the #11 gold record "Carry on My Wayward Son" while Point of No Return would include their classic #6 platinum record "Dust in the Wind." After four albums together, Kansas moved on to self-producer their next LP while Glixman worked with other artists. They would work together again on a live album in 1992 and then a new studio LP in 1995 titled Freaks of Nature. While he wouldn't server as producer, Glixman would mix a couple more of the band's studio albums.


Friday, November 1, 2019

"French Kissin" by Debbie Harry

Song#:  2939
Date:  11/22/1986
Debut:  98
Peak:  57
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  Harry's first solo album, 1981's KooKoo, didn't spawn any major singles, but the album still sold well hitting #25 and going gold. She returned to her band Blondie in 1982 for the lackluster The Hunter. The tepid results of the album along with internal struggles and member (and Harry's boyfriend) Chris Stein's illness contributed to the break up of the band. Harry's solo recording career was spotty afterward. She recorded a couple of soundtrack songs and took time to star in the 1983 horror flick Videodrome. She finally got back in the studio in '86 to record her second full-length solo album with producer Seth Justman (of the J. Geils Band). It would be titled Rockbird and this song was the first single lifted from the LP. The track performed below expectations stumbling in the bottom half of the Pop chart while eking out a #44 showing at Dance. The results didn't help the album, which crawled to #95. However, outside of the States results were far better. This song would reach the Top 10 in some other countries including the UK where it became her biggest solo hit (#8). The album would end up being a gold seller in the UK as well. In the US, this song was released simply as "French Kissin." In other territories, it was released as "French Kissin in the U.S.A."

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that caught on in other parts of the world, but just didn't click in the States. I always thought that was kind of a bummer as this is a fun song. The verse sounds like a lost relic from some 60s Europop tune while the chorus is immediate and memorable. Justman also gives it a nice 80s production with swirling keyboards that float in and out. I'm not sure what turned off listeners in the US. Maybe a song about french kissing was a bit too much? Whatever the reason, folks lost out. This should have been a much bigger hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Harry co-wrote all the songs on Rockbird except for this one. It was written by Chuck Lorre. If that name seems familiar, then you are probably a fan of TV shows like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, or Mom. Lorre has been a successful writer/producer for TV shows since 1990. He is also the creator of several hit shows including the previous three mentioned. Before going into TV, Lorre had been playing guitar and performing on his own and with bands. He also wrote songs and this particular one wound its way over to Debbie Harry. His next major music effort was co-writing the theme song to the 1987 animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While doing all of this, Lorre was beginning to break into script writing for TV shows. His first big break came when he wrote twelve episodes of the 1987-1990 comedy series My Two Dads. Next came his tumultuous stint (1990-1992) as writer/executive producer on the hit show Roseanne. After he was fired from that job, he began to create his own shows. His first one,1992's Frannie's Turn was a six-episode bomb. But his next one,1993's Grace Under Fire starring Brett Butler, was a hit. That led to other successful shows like Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Young Sheldon, and the three previously mentioned. Although he didn't create it, he did write and exec produce Mike & Molly as well. Music certainly took a backseat once his TV career took off, but at least he has this Debbie Harry track to highlight on his musical resume.


Thursday, October 31, 2019

"This Is the Time" by Billy Joel

Song#:  2938
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  78
Peak:  18
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Joel's tenth album, The Bridge, would end up being a double-platinum seller thanks to a pair of #10 hits including the rock-leaning "A Matter of Trust." To try and eke out more sales, this third single was issued out. The reflective tune was a hit at AC where it became his seventh #1 on that chart. The news wasn't quite as good at Pop where the single stalled just inside the Top 20. Still, it was Joel's twentieth Pop Top 20 entry.

ReduxReview:  I'm guessing the sentiment of the song and the chorus is what pushed this up to the top spot at AC. For Pop radio, this was kind of a boring song. It didn't have much to offer besides a somewhat memorable chorus. I was surprised it made the Top 20. After its chart run, the song disappeared. It is rarely heard anymore and often gets left off of his hits collections (usually in favor of his lower charting duet with Ray Charles, "Baby Grand"). Joel's career still had enough gas in the tank to help power this ho-hum tune up the chart.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Joel's tour for The Bridge took him to a place where Western rock music wasn't necessarily accepted. During the Cold War, rock music from Western artists was not allowed in the USSR so virtually no major music stars performed there. In 1979, Elton John submitted a request to perform in the Soviet Union and it was accepted. He performed eight shows and it was seen as a successful event, but it certainly didn't break down the door for other artists to flow in. A few acts, like James Taylor and Santana, did one-off appearances at a festival, but their performances and even John's few theater shows were not like their normal touring productions. As the Cold War began to thaw a bit in the late 80s and the implementation of Gorbachev's "glasnost" openness policy, the Soviet government decided to invite a pop/rock star from the States to do a small, six show, fully produced tour. They settled on Billy Joel as they thought he was a good, safe first choice. Joel accepted and in the Summer of '87 went over. Russians were not used to stadium rock shows, so Joel's shows were a bit awkward at the start, but eventually went well (save for a diva-sized meltdown by Joel at one of his shows directed at his lighting crew). The Russian economy wasn't necessarily the best and so Joel ended up investing a couple million of his own money to support the shows. To help recoup costs, a film crew was sent along to record the shows and plans were made to release a live album. The double disc titled Kohuept (or Kontsert) was issued out in the fall of '87. It would reach #38 and go platinum. There was one single released from the LP, a cover of The Beatles' "Back in the U.S.S.R." It failed to make the Pop chart, but was a very minor entry at Rock (#45). A few more acts would perform in Russia afterwards and more would be able to do so following the end of the Cold War.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"Will You Still Love Me" by Chicago

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2937
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  3
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Chicago's first album after losing co-founder Peter Cetera, Chicago 18, did not get off to a good start. Its first single, a remake of the band's own 1970 hit "25 or 6 to 4," stalled at a minor #48. They needed something to turn the album around and so they went with this track that was co-written by their producer, hitmaker David Foster. The power ballad was more in line with what the band had been putting out most of the decade and that familiarity reignited interest in the band and the song took off to become their sixteenth Pop Top 10 hit. It would also get to #2 on the AC chart. The tune's success finally sparked sales of the album and it would reach #35 and go gold by the end of the year. It was a fortunate turnaround for an album that was on the brink of being a major disappointment.

ReduxReview:  Okay, so I don't dislike this song. It's actually pretty good. The lyrics are sappy, but the music is solid as is Foster's production. However, by this point in time I was just tired of the whole Chicago/Foster thing. Their formula was just getting boring. To top it off, they hired a new singer (Jason Scheff) that Foster had told to sing like Peter Cetera. So there was nothing new or original here. Yet it worked for them as far as this hit, so that was good for them. I just ended up tuning out and ignoring the band.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by David Foster, Tom Keane, and Richard Baskin. Baskin was a composer whose career was escalated when he wrote songs for the 1975 Robert Altman film Nashville. That led to him being the musical guest on a second season episode of Saturday Night Live. (It also helped that his sister was the photographer who supplied the stills used during the show's opening theme.) Sissy Spacek was the guest host and she and Baskin did a duet on the song "One, I Love You," a tune that was originally performed in Nashville by Henry Gibson and Ronee Blakely. For his second number, Baskin did a solo piece titled "City of One-Night Stands." Baskin would later produce two tracks on Barbra Streisand's Grammy-winning The Broadway Album. If his last name is familiar, it should be. He is the son of the man who co-founded the Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

"Stop to Love" by Luther Vandross

Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2936
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  15
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Vandross' fifth album, Give Me the Reason, started off well with the #3 R&B title-track hit. It was his tenth Top 10 on that chart. Yet like most of his other singles, the track failed to make much of an impression at Pop and it stopped at #57. Still in search of his first significant crossover hit, Vandross released this album opening track. The song would be a major hit at R&B becoming his second #1. It was also a winner at AC reaching #7 while making it to #27 at Dance. The song crossed over to Pop where it became his biggest hit to-date getting inside the Top 20. In turn, the album would do well hitting #1 at R&B and #14 Pop. It was a significant step forward in mainstream acceptance for Vandross, but he was still missing that elusive Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  After all these years, I'm still peeved this didn't make the Pop Top 10. I mean, what more could this guy do to secure a major hit? By this point in time this track should have been his fourth Pop Top 10 but for some reason pop radio and listeners didn't give him a fair shake and he was still shut out after this tune. What the hell were they thinking? AC even handed him his second Top 10 there with this song. Everything was lined up perfectly for this song to be a big hit. It had elements of R&B and dance-pop along with an indelible chorus (I love when the background vocals just shout "STOP!"), excellent 80s production, nice guitar solo (by Doc Powell), and the amazing voice of Vandross. It was near perfection. Plus it had a fun, memorable video that featured Vandross and his model crew performing the song on top of a vehicle that was driving around L.A. (which MTV didn't promote). At minimum, this should have been a Top 5 smash. Alas, it was kept down to #15, which wasn't a bad result by any means, but c'mon. Vandross had been virtually ignored at Pop since his 1981 debut and it would still take another three years after this before he would finally crack the Pop Top 10. Unbelievable. Regardless, his albums were still platinum and double-platinum sellers. But imagine if he had pop/MTV support. Those same LPs might have sold 3-4 million and put him on par with other mega stars of the day. He'd still be a revered superstar, but it would take nearly a decade for him to truly find crossover acceptance.


Trivia:  Vandross would struggle with weight his whole life and it was a particularly tough thing to deal with in the 80s thanks to the advent of MTV. With videos becoming so popular, an artist's image became more important than ever before and a husky R&B singer was not what MTV was looking for regardless of album sales or popularity. So for his Give Me the Reason album, Vandross dieted and lost over 85 pounds in hopes that a sleeker chassis would help his image and MTV appeal. It didn't really work. Airplay for "Stop to Love" was minimal at best despite the song climbing the charts. Adding insult to injury, his weigh loss became the subject of speculation after a British magazine, Blues and Soul, printed a story that attributed Vandross' weight loss to AIDS. Vandross successfully sued the magazine for libel. With the dieting not doing much for his career, Vandross gained back the weight back. He would end up dealing with diabetes and hypertension. He would suffer a stroke in 2003 and then die of a heart attack in 2005 at the age of 54.


Monday, October 28, 2019

"Miami" by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Song#:  2935
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  70
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  With two hits nearly going Top 10 at Pop and three tracks reaching the Rock Top 10, including the #1 title track, Seger's Like a Rock album (#3) was shaping up to be another multi-platinum seller. Indeed over time it would be certified triple platinum. Hoping to squeeze one more hit out of the LP, the label released this fourth single, but it didn't do much to further promote the album. The track made it to a low #42 at Rock while barely making it out of the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. Still, the album outperformed its predecessor, 1982's double-platinum The Distance (#5).

ReduxReview:  This was another good track from Seger, but like his previous single, "It's You" (#52), it was just a bit too laid back to crush through the pop radio competition. I'm sure that by the time this was being released it had been picked up for use (see below) and they were perhaps trying to make a hit out if it just prior to the show's airing, but it just wasn't strong enough to make the journey up the chart. 

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song got picked up and used in the hit TV show Miami Vice. It would be used in an episode titled "Cuba Libre" that aired in January of '87. That episode featured a rare acting appearance by Latin music star Willie Colón. Colón began as a trombonist but also branched out to singing and songwriting. Over his career he has earned ten Grammy nominations and in 2004 received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Latin branch of the Grammys. Seger's "Miami" track was not his first to be used on the show. In an earlier episode, a track from Seger's 1976 hit album Night Moves, "Come to Poppa," was used in the opening sequence.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

"Thorn in My Side" by Eurythmics

Song#:  2934
Date:  11/15/1986
Debut:  94
Peak:  68
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  While it wasn't a smash hit like some of their previous singles, "Missionary Man," the first single from their fifth album Revenge, did well reaching #1 at Rock, #6 Dance, and #14 Pop. It would also earn the duo a Grammy. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. Unfortunately, the song couldn't gain an audience and it fizzled out after a couple of months on the chart. Yet thanks to the first single, the album sold well and grabbed a gold certification the month before this song was issued out.

ReduxReview:  With its opening guitar riff, pounding drums, spoken word into, harmonica, and "whoa-whoa's", this sounds like their version of an early-to-mid 60s British pop/rock song. I've always liked the song, but I'm not sure it was the best choice for a single. It did well in the UK (see below) probably because more people were familiar with the style of music they were kind of paying tribute to. In the US, it was kind of lost. I think the more Motown-ish "A Little of You" might have been a better choice. Even though "When Tomorrow Comes" didn't do so well in the UK, the rock-leaning track might have done better in the US. So while I really like this tune, it just wasn't the right song to release.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The choice and order of singles from Eurythmics' albums quite often varied between the US market and the duo's UK homeland (and the rest of Europe as well). To promote Revenge, the first single in the UK was "When Tomorrow Comes." It was not a big hit only reaching #30. It was followed up by "Thorn in My Side," which did well getting to #5. It would end up being their final UK Top 10. "The Miracle of Love" was the third single (#23) while "Missionary Man" ended up fourth (#31).  By contrast, "Missionary Man" was the first single in the US followed by "Thorn in My Side." With that second release not doing well, no further singles were issued out in the US. With four charting singles including one Top 10 in the UK, the album fared better and got to #3. It would be their second studio album to go double-platinum in the UK.