Tuesday, October 20, 2020

"Animal" by Def Leppard

Song#:  3293
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  19
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Hard Rock



Pop Bits:  Def Leppard's long-awaited album Hysteria didn't get off to a great start. Its first single, "Women," stalled at a very minor #80 on the Pop chart. It did better at Rock getting to #7, but even that seemed weak coming off of a multi-platinum album (Pyromania) that featured two #1 and two Top 10 Rock tracks. They definitely needed something to do better in the mainstream arena to keep interest in the album going. This next single was released and while it wasn't a major hit, it did far better in kicking off the album. The tune would reach #5 at Rock while becoming the band's third Pop Top 20. It was a solid showing, but things would only get better over the course of the album's next three singles.

ReduxReview:  This was the first single everywhere else except the US and Canada. It should have been the first one here. Had it been, it might have cracked the Top 10. The anticipation built up for a new Def Leppard song might have pushed it further. Instead, we got the far less appealing "Women" to start things and when that song tanked, DJs and programmers were probably not as excited about this song and were slow to get onboard. Luckily, the song was strong enough to break out on its own and it found a home in the Pop Top 20. It was a solid arena rock song and it certainly caught my attention.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Def Leppard was a British band, but they didn't have a lot of luck on the charts at home. Although their first three albums would make the UK Top 30, none of their singles would do better than #41. The story was different across the pond with the band's big arena rock sound a better fit for US hard rock listeners. Their first album went platinum, their second double-platinum, and their third, Pyromania, became a massive success selling over 10 million copies. It also spawned a pair of Pop Top 20 hits and another Top 30 entry. Finally, this single broke the band through to the masses in the UK. The song would become their first Top 10 entry hitting #6. With the band finally established, they would go on to have more hits in their homeland.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

"(You're Puttin') A Rush on Me" by Stephanie Mills

Song#:  3292
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  85
Weeks:  2
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  Mills scored three consecutive gold albums between 1979 and 1981 thanks to three R&B Top 10s along with the #6 Grammy-winning gold Pop hit "Never Knew Love Like This Before" (#12 R&B/#5 Dance). As the 80s wore on, her fortunes dimmed a bit. A couple of label changes didn't help and only one of her singles make the R&B Top 10. Things began to turn around for her when she signed up with MCA Records. Her self-titled 1985 LP generated her first R&B #1 hit with "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love." She then completed her comeback with her next album, If I Were Your Woman. The LP's first single, "Feel Good All Over," topped the R&B chart. The tune failed to make the Pop chart, but this follow-up single did, if only for a couple of weeks. It would be another winner for Mills at R&B getting to #1 while also reaching #23 Dance. The pair of #1s helped the album become Mills' first and only to reach #1 at R&B (#30 Pop).  It would also return Mills to gold level sales. Unfortunately, this would be her last single to make the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This silky mid-tempo jam was a nice vehicle for Mills. It was obvious that her voice was better than the song, but she kept her big pipes in check and it worked perfectly for the tune. The track may have been a bit too subtle for pop radio, but it really should have done much better on the pop chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although Mills would never visit the Pop chart again, her winning streak continued at R&B with her next album, 1989's Home. It would featured two more #1 R&B hits including "Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel)" and the title track, which was a new version of the song Mills originally sang in the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz. The new version featured background vocals by the gospel a cappella sextet Take 6. That group had released their self-titled debut album in 1988. It would go platinum and earn Take 6 three Grammy awards.

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

"Learning to Fly" by Pink Floyd

Song#:  3291
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  70
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Prog Rock



Pop Bits:  The last time Pink Floyd had a single on the US Pop chart was back in 1980 with "Run Like Hell," a track from their classic double-LP The Wall. After the massive success of that album, the tour, and the associated 1982 movie, the band attempted to get their twelfth studio album off the ground. The relationship between members Roger Waters and David Gilmour had been rocky since the tour for The Wall and it continued into the studio. Confrontations ensued and by the time the dust settled, Waters had completed and released the 1983 Pink Floyd album The Final Cut with little input or contribution from Gilmour. Both Waters and Gilmour would then release solo albums as questions arose about the fate of Pink Floyd. Eventually Waters would depart with legal entanglements to follow. In the meantime, Gilmour decided to continue on under the Pink Floyd name and record a new album. Titled A Momentary Lapse of Reason, the effort was a departure for Pink Floyd in that it lacked a concept that drew the songs together. Gilmour would also work on a few tracks with outside songwriters. To preview the LP, this first single was released. It became a big hit at Rock reaching #1 and remaining there for three weeks. The success there allowed the song to cross over to Pop, but it would only stick around near the bottom of the chart for a couple of months. Still, the album would get to #3 and by January of '88 it would be certified double-platinum. Eventually it would sell over 4 million copies in the US. By the end of '87, the legal issues got ironed out with Gilmour retaining the use of the Pink Floyd name. Waters would get a stake in some things including the rights to The Wall. Gilmour would only put out two more studio albums under the Pink Floyd name, 1994's The Division Bell (#1, triple-platinum) and 2014's The Endless River (#3, gold).

ReduxReview:  Pink Floyd is one of those bands that I never really got into. I know some of their material because it was practically inescapable back in the day on rock radio, but besides The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, I never dove into their albums. I will at some point. A Momentary Lapse of Reason was not one of their critically lauded efforts, but it did include this tune, which I liked. The opening with the crunchy drum sound and swooping synths became instantly recognizable and it had memorable melodies. The mid-section with the voices (see below) added a bit of mystery. It ended up being a really good rock radio track and even did well enough to cross over to pop. Pink Floyd was never a singles band, but this one was a pretty good attempt to meld their prog rock into something slightly more mainstream.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia: Double Shot!  1) Gilmour based the song's lyrics on his experiences flying. Around the time the album was being recorded, Gilmour was taking flying lessons. He would eventually become a licensed pilot. Fellow Pink Floyd member drummer Nick Mason was also a pilot. Near the middle of the song there is a section that features vocal overdubs of a radio conversation. Apparently it was an actual recording of Mason in his plane during a flying lesson.  2) The video for this song was directed by Storm Thorgerson. The graphic artist had designed album covers for a lot of artists, but became linked with Pink Floyd for whom he designed over 20 covers including 1973's Dark Side of the Moon. He also directed a few music videos including one for "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes. The video "Learning to Fly" would win an MTV Music Video Award for Best Concept Video.

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Saturday, October 17, 2020

"I Don't Mind at All" by Bourgeois Tagg

Song#:  3290
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  38
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  This band formed by Brent Bourgeois and Larry Tagg first got on the Pop chart with the #62 "Mutual Surrender (What a Wonderful World)," a track from their 1986 self-titled debut album. A second single failed to reach the chart, however the results were encouraging enough for their label, Island, to let the band record a second album. Titled Yoyo, the new effort was produced by Todd Rundgren and this first single was released. It would do well at Rock (#8) and AC (#5), but for some reason it didn't get quite the same reception at Pop where it topped out just inside the Top 40. Like their debut album, a second single failed to chart. The lone hit helped the album get to #84. The band would then set out to record a third album and along the way would also be the backing band for Todd Rundgren's 1989 solo album Nearly Human. Unfortunately, a rift between Bourgeois and Tagg developed and it caused the band to split. Bourgeois would go on to start a solo career and in 1990 would release a self-titled album. A single from the LP, "Dare to Fall in Love," would crack the Pop Top 40 at #32 (#11 AC). It would be his only solo song to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This was a wonderful tune that should have done much better on the Pop chart. It was Top 10 at Rock and AC, but for some reason it didn't fully catch fire on pop radio. It certainly had a Beatle-esque flavor, but it didn't sound like an imitation. Rundgren's production was just perfect framing the song in acoustic guitars and strings. I immediately bought the single. The song has kind of disappeared over the years. I hadn't heard it in ages and it was nice to bring it back to my ears. It sounds just as lovely now as it did back then.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  As the band's career was taking off, Brent Bourgeois was struggling with addiction. Following the release of the band's debut album, Bourgeois began to clean up his act and along the way became a born-again Christian. Because of that, some of his lyrics started to reflect his religious side, which was not well-received by band co-leader Larry Tagg. It began to divide the two musicians and it eventually led to the band splitting during the recording of their third album. Bourgeois would set out on a solo career, which resulted in one minor mainstream hit (see above). By the time it came for him to record a third effort, Bourgeois had signed on with a Contemporary Christian label. His 1995 LP Come Join the Living World was well-received and it would lead to Bourgeois writing and producing for major Christian artists like Michael W. Smith and Jars of Clay. For a time he would also run A&R for Word Records.

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Friday, October 16, 2020

"Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" by Samantha Fox

Song#:  3289
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  80
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG



Pop Bits:  The Brit singer's debut album, Touch Me, became a gold seller thanks to the #4 hit "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)." Those results gave Fox the opportunity to record a couple of tracks with top producers for her self-titled second album. One of those track was this lead single, which was written and produced by the Stock Aitken Waterman team (Bananarama, Dead or Alive). The trio had been perfecting their signature dance sound and this song earned them and Fox another Top 10 hit back home in the UK. Across the pond in the US, the tune couldn't get anywhere. It peaked low on the Pop chart while only scraping the Dance chart at #40. The failed single did not set the album up for success and it left Fox and her label scrambling to try and secure a hit. Luckily, the LP's second single would do the trick.

ReduxReview:  I'm not really sure what happened with this single. It was a solid, hooky SAW product and it seemed like a good vehicle to get Fox back in the upper reaches of the Pop chart. Yet it failed big time. My only guess is that Fox kind of established herself as a tougher, sexy, sassy, rock-oriented dance artist with "Touch Me" and this tune was a polite little pop tune with a chugging production. In other words, it was "cute" and it didn't reflect the personality Fox had initially portrayed. Maybe because of that, stations and listeners tuned out. If so, then that was too bad. While it wasn't a fantastic song, it was a good SAW dance-pop tune that should have done much better.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Fox's self-titled second album contained an unexpected remake. She tackled the Rolling Stones classic 1965 #1 "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Her synth-rock take on the tune wouldn't be released as a single, but she was one of the first dance-pop artist to attempt the cover. Besides the Stones' original, only one other artist has reached the Pop chart with a version of the song. R&B star Otis Redding's soul take on the track made it to #31 in 1966 (#4 R&B). However, there have been many memorable remakes of the song including ones by Devo, Vanilla Ice, Britney Spears, and Aretha Franklin. The list of artists that have covered the song is wide and varied and includes people like Phyllis Diller, José Feliciano, The Chipmunks, and The Shirelles.

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

"Tell It to My Heart" by Taylor Dayne

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3288
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  7
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Freestyle



Pop Bits:  Singer Leslie Wunderman started working the clubs with various bands while attending college. After graduating, she sought a solo career and ended up recording a couple of singles for the indie Mega Bolt label in 1985 under the name Les Lee. Neither did much to promote her career, but then a friend who worked at a publishing house sent her a few songs for consideration including "Tell It to My Heart." The tune grabbed her attention and she got it recorded. A copy of her demo made it over to Clive Davis at Arista Records, who then decided to sign the singer and release the single to see how it would go over. Released in Europe under the new moniker of Taylor Dayne, the song began to catch on. It wasn't long before the tune was getting played in US clubs. The track would make the Dance chart and peak at #4. It crossed over to Pop and began a slow climb. Eventually it would make the Top 10. Since this was pretty much a "test" single to see how it would fare, Dayne and Arista were caught off guard by the unexpected hit and Dayne had to quickly get in the studio to record an album. Since it wouldn't be released until early '88, folks had to buy the single in order to hear the song and that helped the record go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was a very good pop song to begin with, but two things made it stand out as a hit. First, the brash 80s production. It was loaded with screaming synths that were full of hooks along with big beats. Second was Dayne's voice. You could tell she wasn't just a little ingénue who had been hired by a producer or was just having fun trying to be a star. Dayne had chops. She was a helluva singer (still is) and it showed on this song. Her big voice certainly helped to sell this song. It was an exciting track and although steeped in 80s production, the tune is still a bit of a thrill when it comes on.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Dayne's first two singles under the Les Lee name were produced by Ric Wake. He would also produce "Tell It to My Heart" and the balance of Dayne's debut solo album. The hits with Dayne quickly raised Wake's profile and afforded him the opportunity to work with other artists like Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, Mariah Carey, Sheena Easton, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, and Celine Dion. Wake would later win Grammys for his work including one for producing two tracks on Dion's Album of the Year Grammy winner, 1996's Falling into You. He would also work on the soundtrack to the Oscar winning 2002 Best Picture Chicago.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

"Just Like Heaven" by The Cure

Song#:  3287
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  40
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Alternative Rock



Pop Bits:  The Cure's US audience had been growing over their previous couple of albums, but they were still looking for a bigger breakthrough. Their seventh effort, the double-LP Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me would do a lot to meet that goal. Its first single, "Why Can't I Be You?," got them near the top half of the Pop chart (#54). Then this next single nabbed the band their first Pop Top 40 hit (if just barely). It would also reach #28 at Dance. Before this single even came out, the album had already reached gold status. Later in '88 it would become their first to go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This should have been a much bigger hit. With alt rock starting to meld into the mainstream, this was an excellent pop-leaning tune that should have done just as well as R.E.M.'s Top 10 "The One I Love." The way the song built from the beginning by adding instruments and memorable riffs was terrific and it was capped off by Robert Smith blurting out "show me show me show me!" Just that first minute of the song should have made it a hit. The rest of the tune is just icing on the cake. For the pop world, maybe the only drawback to the song was that it didn't have a definitive chorus or hook. However, this dreamy track didn't need it. The whole thing was one giant swirling hook that took you to that dizzying cliff overlooking the sea.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This was mainly written by the band's lead singer/songwriter Robert Smith with other band members contributing during the recording session. Smith has said that it was the best song he'd ever written and would most likely never write anything better. The lyrics painted a portrait of two lovers enjoying a day by the seaside, which may or may not have been a dream. It was inspired by Smith's girlfriend at the time Mary Poole. Poole would then appear in the song's video as a ghostly apparition. Smith and Poole would later marry in '88. They are still together.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

"Brilliant Disguise" by Bruce Springsteen

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3286
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  40
Peak:  5
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Springsteen's 1984 LP Born in the U.S.A. turned him into a rock mega star. Spawning seven Top 10 singles, the album would go on to sell over 15 million copies in the US (30 million worldwide). He would follow it up with 5-LP set Live/1975-95, which would debut at #1. After a whirlwind three years, Springsteen then had the task of recording a proper studio follow-up to Born in the U.S.A. That album was recorded with the E Street Band, but when he started recording the new album, Springsteen made it a more personal affair and did most of the work himself with members of the band lending a hand on a few tracks. The completed album, Tunnel of Love, would be a dark, more introspective effort and this first single got things kicked off. It would immediately head towards #1 on the Rock chart. Over on the Pop chart, the song debuted in the Top 40 and then made its way to #5 becoming Springsteen's tenth Top 10 hit. While the album wouldn't debut at #1, it would only take three weeks for it to hit #1. Although it would only stay there for a week, it would continue to ride high on the chart into '88 and eventually sell over 3 million copies.

ReduxReview:  Of course anticipation for this song and the album was extremely high at the time. When I heard this song for the first time, I think I was a bit underwhelmed. Probably like many others, I was expecting something more explosive. Perhaps another big anthem that would spark up the airwaves. So when this subdued, chugging pop tune came out it wasn't what I expected. However, the tune then began to settle in the more I heard it and I developed an appreciation for it. It was easily going to make the Top 10. The question was if it could top the chart. It settled for a #5 showing, which was probably a sign that folks might have felt the same way I did. The song didn't have "smash hit" written all over it, but it was a very good song that introduced the album quite well. In retrospect, I did like how Springsteen didn't force a Born in the U.S.A., Pt. 2 and wrote the album he wanted to at the time.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song earned Springsteen a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. It was one of three nods he received in that Grammy year (he would win one, which will be covered in another post). Up to that point, Springsteen had received seven nominations with one win.  2) The video for this song was directed by Meiert Avis, who had previously directed several videos for U2 including two award winners, "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "With or Without You." The video for Springsteen's song was unusual in that it was all done in one continuous take. It featured Springsteen performing the song in a kitchen setting. Although the video features the recorded backing track of the song, Springsteen actually sang the vocal part live as the camera slowly zoomed in on his face making the performance quite intimate and nearly uncomfortable.

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Monday, October 12, 2020

"Love Will Find a Way" by Yes

Song#:  3285
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  76
Peak:  30
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Prog Rock



Pop Bits:  Following their 1980 album Drama, Yes decided to split. Not long after, two band members got together to work on a project and eventually, at the urging of their label, it became a Yes album titled 90125. The 1984 LP would be a #5 multi-platinum hit thanks to the #1 single "Owner of a Lonely Heart." After an extensive world tour, the band reconvened in the studio in 1985 with producer Trevor Horn to record a follow-up. Right off the bat there were issues among the band members and with Horn that led to numerous delays. After two years of recording at a reported cost of $2 million, the band's twelfth studio album, Big Generator, was completed. To kick off the band's return, this first single was issued out. It would be an instant hit at Rock spending three weeks at #1. The song crossed over to the Pop chart, but the best it could do was to just barely make the Top 30. Despite not boasting a major mainstream hit, the support from rock radio along with the band's fan base helped the album reach #15 and go platinum.

ReduxReview:  What I remember most about this song is the line "I eat at chez nous." It was a bizarre line that made zero sense to me. The French phrase "chez nous" translates as "with us." How that fits in with "I eat at" is a mystery to me. However, I did see mentioned that somewhere around where part of the album was recorded was a restaurant called Chez Nous, which would seem to make more sense, but the lines before it don't help:  "here is my heart, waiting for you, here is my soul, I eat at chez nous." I don't get it. The line is so weird, silly, and strange that it nearly ruins the song for me. Well, at least I remember something about the tune. In general, this is a fairly good track that did attempt to keep the band relevant in the mainstream. It wasn't quite as hooky as their 90215 hits, but I think it performed as well as it could.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by band member Trevor Rabin. He had intended for this song to be recorded by Stevie Nicks, but after his bandmate Alan White heard the tune, he convinced Rabin to save it for Yes to record.  2) The album would earn the band a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. The previous year, the band grabbed a Grammy nod for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. It was for the song "Amazing Grace," which was taken from the live LP 9021Live/The Solos. Release in 1985, the album contained five tracks of solos done by each band member during the 90125 tour plus two full-band live tracks from the album. Bassist Chris Squire was featured on "Amazing Grace." The album would reach #81 on the US Pop chart.

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Sunday, October 11, 2020

"Shake Your Love" by Debbie Gibson

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3284
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  77
Peak:  4
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  With her debut single, "Only in My Dreams," hitting #4 and going gold, the teenager set herself up for pop stardom. As that single was beginning to wrap up its run on the chart, her debut album, Out of the Blue, was released and it was quickly followed by this follow-up single. It would match the success of her first single by hitting #4 at Pop and also going gold. It also became her first Top 10 at Dance reaching #6. The album would soon make its way into the Top 10 peaking at #7. It would go gold by December and eventually sell over three million copies.

ReduxReview:  "Only in My Dreams" was a delicious pop confection that gave Gibson her first hit. She could have easily been a one-hit wonder, but then this single laid that thought to rest. The tune was a good, solid vehicle for the teenager and it played well to her fans. For me, I didn't like it nearly as much as "Only in My Dreams." I thought it was just a cute little tune that wore its Madonna influences on its sleeves. I'm not sure I would have picked this for single release, but it ended up working out well for Gibson.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Six tracks on Gibson's debut album were produced or co-produced (with Gibson) by Fred Zarr. The Brooklyn-born musician started to get session work early in the 80s with several artists, but his work on one song in particular certainly raised his profile. Zarr worked on Madonna's "Holiday," her first charting single (#16, 1983). He would help arrange the song, do the drum programming, and perform the keyboard/synth parts. From there, Zarr got more work with artists like Jellybean, Eartha Kitt, Carly Simon, and The Four Tops. Along the way he would also do some work in the producer's chair, but it would be Zarr's work on Gibson's Out of the Blue that would help further his career. He would then work with many popular artists including Pretty Poison, Samantha Fox, Jody Watley, and Tina Turner.

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Saturday, October 10, 2020

"Satellite" by The Hooters

Song#:  3283
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  78
Peak:  61
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock, Folk-Rock



Pop Bits:  The band's third album, One Way Home, was not on track to replicate the double-platinum success of their previous album Nervous Night with the LP's first single, "Johnny B," halting at a low #61 on the Pop chart (#3 Rock). They needed something better to draw in the mainstream audience and this album opening track was selected to do that. Unfortunately, all it did was match the peak of the previous single while missing out on the Rock Top 10 (#13). With that result, the album topped out at #27. Luckily they retained a large enough fan base to make the album a gold seller just prior to the release of this single, but that was quite a dip from the sales of their breakthrough.

ReduxReview:  This song might have done better if it had been released first. It was catchier and more upbeat than the darker "Johnny B." Still, it wasn't going to burn up the chart. The band always had a bit of a roots rock feel to their tunes, but the new LP pushed it further incorporated elements of British/Irish folk. Then it was all wrapped up in a big, sonic production via U2 or Simple Minds. It just didn't work. It's like they took everything that made Nervous Night appealing and tossed it out the window. None of it was bad and even this song had a bit of charm, but they came off like a different band and it wasn't what folks were expecting or wanting.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song, written by band members Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman along with producer Rick Chertoff, was a commentary on televangelism (or teleministry). While controversy surrounding the people that run and preach on religious television programs had been around for a while, it was in the 80s that a bigger spotlight was put on it all with some of the biggest names in the business taking major falls from grace. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were among the first to really come under scrutiny. Their PTL Club show generated millions for the couple who lived a lavish lifestyle. They were investigated by the FCC and IRS for misuse of funds they raised via the show. Then in early '87, it came to light that Bakker had paid off Jessica Hahn to silence her on rape allegations concerning the show's co-host and also Bakker's own tryst with Hahn. Fraud charges came next and Bakker ended up in prison. Jimmy Swaggart would have his own troubles in '88 with a sex scandal. Yet despite the falls of these church leaders and questions surrounding others, people still flocked to megachurches and continued to tune in and donate money to televangelists.

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Friday, October 9, 2020

"Don't You Want Me" by Jody Watley

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3282
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  80
Peak:  6
Weeks:  23
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  Watley's self-titled solo album started out with a bang with lead single "I'm Looking for a New Love" reaching #2 Pop/#1 R&B/#1 Dance. A second single, "Still a Thrill," did well at R&B (#3) and Dance (#8), but it fizzled at Pop only getting to #56. Hoping for better overall results, this third single was released. It did much better at Pop becoming Watley's second solo Top 10 while getting to #3 at R&B and #1 at Dance. The album had already peaked at #10 at Pop and had been descending the chart, but this hit turned the LP around and it moved back up. By the end of the year it would be certified platinum.

ReduxReview:  "Still a Thrill" was a cool jam of a track, but it really wasn't suited for Pop radio. This tune was a much better fit and indeed it got Watley back into the Pop Top 10. While the track may not have been as funky and powerful as "I'm Looking for a New Love," it was still a solid, hooky song with good production provided by Bernard Edwards. In my book, Watley was three-for-three in the singles department.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Watley's vocal performance on this track was sampled and used in the 1990 song "Don't You Love Me" by the Italian house/Eurodisco outfit the 49ers. Released as a single, it would get to #1 on the US Dance chart while becoming the group's only song to make the US Pop chart at #78. The 49ers were made up of a quartet of DJs and producers. After releasing a couple of singles, they hired on Dawn Mitchell to provide vocals and be the face of the group. Their first big hit came in 1990 with "Touch Me," which contained a sample of Aretha Franklin's "Rock-A-Lott." It would reach #1 on the US Dance chart while making the Top 10 in several countries. "Don't You Love Me" would be the follow-up single and it did even better. However, the group's success was short-lived with further singles failing to replicate the same success. They would split in 1998.

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Thursday, October 8, 2020

"Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" by Aerosmith

Song#:  3281
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  14
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock, Blues-Rock



Pop Bits:  The 80s had not been kind to Aerosmith. The two albums they released in '82 and '85 failed to reach gold level sales upon release and none of their singles reached the Pop chart. They were on the brink of becoming irrelevant, but then in '86 two things happened that helped to get their career back on track. First, they participated in a remake of their own hit "Walk This Way" with Run-D.M.C. The single would hit #4 at Pop, go gold, and put a spotlight back on Aerosmith. The band wanted to capitalize on their resurgence and in order to do so they decided it was time to get sober. The members agreed to go through rehab and once done they got back into the studio with a fresh new outlook. Working sober and extra hard, they were determined to make an album that would get them back on the charts. They chose to work with producer Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi) and for the first time worked with outside songwriters. The results came out as Permanent Vacation and to announce their return this first single was released. It quickly became their first Top 10 at Rock reaching #4. At Pop, it started low, but gained momentum until it finally cracked the Top 20. It was their best result on the chart since "Walk This Way" hit #10 in 1976. A remix became their only song to reach the Dance chart at #41. The associated video would be a hit on MTV and would go on to be nominated for two MTV Music Video Awards.The album would just barely miss the Top 10 peaking at the dreaded #11, but it would end up being a multi-platinum hit that cemented the band's comeback.

ReduxReview:  This was a brilliant comeback song for the band. Although they had help with the tune (see below), it still featured Tyler and Perry's signature bluesy rock touches with Tyler sounding fully on and engaged. Sobriety can do wonders. I totally loved the track and bought the single and later the album. Although they hated the idea of working with other songwriters, it paid off big time for them. Their writing became more succinct and played towards the mainstream. Fairbairn's meaty production also gave the band a fresh, crisp new sound. Being gay, I know I'm probably not supposed to like this song (see below), but I do. I can understand why others see it differently, but my opinion is that it was not written with malicious intent or to make fun of a certain group of people. There is even a line in it about not being judgemental. So, to each their own I guess. I thought it was a fun song and I still enjoy it. Plus it led to Aerosmith putting out more great material over the next decade.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was co-written by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and hit-making songwriter Desmond Child. Although the stories on how the song came about vary in detail, for the most part it seemed that the lyrics were inspired by a meet-up the band had with Mötley Crüe. Apparently, when Tyler entered the bar where Mötley Crüe was, he saw someone with big blonde hair and thought it was a woman. Then he found out it was Mötley Crüe's lead singer Vince Neil. Neil then kind of got made fun of with someone mentioning that the dude looked like a lady. Tyler and Perry then began work on a tune that was based on the identity error. Initially, Tyler sang the chorus as "crusin' for the ladies," but Desmond Child quickly nixed it. Tyler then said he had been initially singing "dude looks like a lady," but thought it wasn't working. Child assure Tyler that his first version was the song's title.   2) This song was not without controversy. There were many folks that considered the song transphobic and thought it portrayed trans women in a negative way. Child would defend the song as being about acceptance. Still, the song remained a sore spot for some and years later when Caitlyn Jenner mentioned that "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" was a sort of theme song for her, LGBT activists took her to task for it because they still considered the song transphobic.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

"Should've Know Better" by Richard Marx

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3280
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  64
Peak:  3
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Marx had been doing session work and songwriting for other artists for a few years before breaking out on his own. Right off the bat he earned a hit when his debut single "Don't Mean Nothing" reached #3. It was from his self-titled debut album as was this follow-up track. It would do equally as well also peaking at #3 for one week and spending 21 weeks on the chart. It would also get to #7 Rock while becoming his first song to chart at AC getting to #30. This hit would help the album reach its initial peak of #19, but later in the summer of '88 it would end up cracking the Top 10 thanks to a chart-topping hit.

ReduxReview:  This was the perfect follow-up to "Don't Mean Nothing." That song was kind of bluesy and fun. This one was a more straight-forward pop/rock tune in the Journey vein that was a bit more serious. The two tracks complimented each other well and showed that Marx wasn't relying on one specific sound. His next two singles would expand on that variety. While I really liked "Don't Mean Nothing," I'm kind of partial to this track. The production is terrific and I like the darker tone, especially in the quiet mid-section. It was an excellent one-two punch from Marx.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Thanks to all the connections Marx made via session and songwriting work, his debut album featured several big name contributors including former Eagles Joe Walsh, Randy Meisner, and Timothy B. Schmit. Schmit would provided background vocals on this track along with Tubes leader Fee Waybill. Also providing some background vocals on the album were two singers who would soon have hits of their own. Karyn White would go on to have four Pop Top 10 hits including the 1992 #1 "Romantic." Marx's wife, Cynthia Rhodes, would join the band Animotion and reach #9 in 1989 with "Room to Move."

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

"Heaven Is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3279
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  72
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Carlisle's first solo album after the breakup of The Go-Go's, Belinda, was a #13 gold seller thanks to the #3 hit "Mad About You." That album had a retro 60s pop flair that was different from the rock of The Go-Go's. For her second solo disc, Carlisle switched labels from IRS to MCA and started working with producer Rick Nowels, who had produced Stevie Nick's 1985 platinum LP Rock a Little and co-wrote "I Can't Wait" (#16 Pop). For the new album Heaven on Earth, Carlisle skipped the retro sound and dove head first into 80s pop. This first single, written by Nowels and Ellen Shipley, demonstrated Carlisle's new sound and it was warmly greeted by radio and record buyers. It would top the Pop chart for a week while reaching #7 at AC. The hit would help the album match the peak of her debut (#13). The song would earn Carlisle a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  Carlisle hit it out of the park with this single. It was pretty much pop perfection. The chorus was unforgettable and it was smart to have it at the top of the song. It immediately established the hook and you just couldn't ignore it. The dreamy mid-section was spot-on and then to top it off, a little guitar section followed by a key change. It was an expertly crafted pop single and there was no doubt it would top the chart. While her rock cred took a hit, she was gaining more fans than losing them. Looking back, it is kind of odd to think that this confection was done by someone who in 1977 got her start as a drummer for the L.A. punk band the Germs under the moniker of Dottie Danger. Carlisle went through quite the metamorphosis.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  The associated video for the song was directed by Academy Award winner Diane Keaton. It was Keaton's second directorial effort following a 1982 17-minute documentary short about her sister titled What Does Dorrie Want?" Keaton would also direct the video for Carlisle's follow-up single "I Get Weak" (#2 Pop). Keaton would direct another documentary, 1987's Heaven (nothing in common with Carlisle's song), and then direct a few TV episodes for shows like China Beach and Twin Peaks. The first theatrical film she directed was the 1995 comedy/drama Unstrung Heroes starring Andie MacDowell. Critics were positive about the movie and it did fairly well at the box office. Her second effort, 2000's Hanging Up starring Keaton, Meg Ryan, and Lisa Kudrow did not garner good reviews, but it ended up doing okay at the box office on a worldwide basis.

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Monday, October 5, 2020

"(I've Had) The Time of My Life" by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Oscar Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3278
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  73
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  In the fall of '86, filming began on a little movie titled Dirty Dancing. With a small budget of $5 million, cameras rolled with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles. The film would incorporate quite a bit of music and the filmmakers wanted to use a mix of old and new tunes. For the newer material, Frankie Previte (of Frankie & the Knockouts fame) was asked to contribute a couple of song. Previte along with John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz then co-wrote "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." Previte recorded a demo version of the tune with Rachele Cappelli and ultimately it was selected to be used in the film's final scene. Of course the producers wanted bigger names to record the tune and in the end Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes agreed to perform the song. The film hit theaters in late August of '87 to mixed reviews, but audiences took notice and eventually it hit #1 at the box office. The soundtrack was issued out along with this first single. Like the movie, it got off to a slow start, but then headed to #1. It would be Medley's first #1 hit outside of the Righteous Brothers and Warnes' second soundtrack duet to hit #1 following 1982's "Up Where We Belong" with Joe Cocker. That song would go on to win a Grammy and an Oscar and this Dirty Dancing theme would follow suit. The track would also spend four weeks at #1 on the AC chart. The success of the song and the film led to the soundtrack album spending 18 non-consecutive weeks at #1. Eventually, it would sell over 11 million copies in the US alone.

ReduxReview:  I admit that I'm not a big fan of Dirty Dancing. I thought it was just meh. However, there are moments in films where the scene and the music perfectly combine to create a little magic and the flick's finale was one. That last lift has been mimicked and parodied tons of times over the years. It became an iconic film moment and a big reason for that was this song. Well-written, smartly arranged and produced, and impeccably performed by Medley and Warnes, there was just no doubt the song was going to be a big hit. The film gave the song a big boost, but I think the song was strong enough that it would have done well on its own. It's also a tune that has remained popular over the years and it sounds just as good now as it did then.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The final scene of the movie was one of the first to be shot. At the time, the Medley/Warnes duet hadn't been recorded, so to motivate everyone in the scene, Previte's original demo was used. It would then be replace in the completed film with the Medley/Warnes version. Previte's demo would later be released as a bonus track on the 1998 reissue of Frankie & the Knockouts' self-titled 1981 album.  2) Medley and Warnes were not the first artists consider for the song. Initially, Donna Summer and Joe Esposito were approached for the job. Summer apparently turned it down because she didn't like the title of the film (remember, she was in her born-again days). The music coordinator for the film, Jimmy Ienner (who also ran Millennium Records), then tried to get Bill Medley, but Medley decline because his wife was about to give birth and he also didn't like the title of the film. For about three months, Ienner pestered Medley. In the meantime, Medley's wife had given birth and Ienner had contacted Jennifer Warnes who showed interest in doing the song, but only if Medley would. With news that Warnes was on board, Medley then agreed to sing on the track.

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Sunday, October 4, 2020

"Beat Patrol" by Starship

Song#:  3277
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  46
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  The Starship single "It's Not Over ('Til It's Over)" was the second Top 10 (#9) hit from their second album No Protection. For a follow-up, this album-opening track was selected. It couldn't match the Top 10 results of the previous two singles and even stopped short of the Top 40. It was also unable to get on the Rock chart. Still, by this point in time the album had already peaked at #12 and was on the verge of going gold, which it would do in November of '87.

ReduxReview:  Starship totally left behind any rock cred with No Protection. It was obvious that they were going for a mainstream sound and trying to find hooky tunes that would reel in pop listeners. It worked a bit with a couple of hit singles, but the well quickly dried up. This bouncy tune could have made a fun power pop track, but Starship's 80s synth-heavy production diluted all the good stuff right out of it. The song is not all that bad. It just came off as goofy in the hands of Starship.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by English singer/songwriter Johnny Warman. Warman's 1984 recording, originally titled "(Here Comes) The Beat Patrol," was released as a single in the UK, but it failed to chart. In the 70s, Warman join the band Bearded Lady, but as the 80s neared he tried for a solo career. His second LP, 1981's Walking into Mirrors, generated the single "Screaming Jets," which reached #9 in Australia. After a follow-up album failed to do anything, Warman was dropped from his label. He gave it one more try recording and releasing "Beat Patrol," but it didn't catch on. He then focused on writing for other artists. A few year later, Starship picked up "Beat Patrol" and recorded it. The flip side to Warman's "Beat Patrol" single was "Don't Call Me" and it would later be recorded by rock group Asia for their 1992 album Aqua.

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Saturday, October 3, 2020

"Catch Me (I'm Falling)" by Pretty Poison

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  3276
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  8
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Dance, Freestyle



Pop Bits:  This Philly group mainly consisted of lead singer Jade Starling and keyboardist/guitarist Whey Cooler. They got together early in the 80s and formed a band that had a more rock oriented sound, but soon changed over to the dance/synth sounds that were popular at the time. They released an indie EP and a few singles with their 1984 track "Nightime" getting enough attention to reach #14 on the Dance chart. Then they wrote and recorded "Catch Me (I'm Falling)." As an indie release, the song became a big success in Philly. Around that time a rep from Virgin Records happened to hear the song while in town and that led to the group signing with the label. Virgin then released the song nationally and it started to take off. The week that the song hit #1 on the Dance chart, it would debut on the Pop chart. Eventually it would break into the Top 10 and peak at #8. With an album yet to be released by the group, the single sold well enough to go gold. Despite a minor Top 40 follow-up single, this would be the group's only major hit and it would get them tagged as a one-hit wonder (#46 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s). Their full-length debut album would then be ready for release in May of '88, but by then the glow of this hit had waned and the LP could only get to #104. Pretty Poison would then leave Virgin Records and return to their independent roots.

ReduxReview:  Many of the freestyle hits around this time were by assembled female vocal groups formed by producers who usually wrote the songs. This is one that was done by a band who wrote their own material and because of that I think it had a more mature, cohesive sound. It was a catchy, well-written tune with terrific production. I especially like the dramatic opening. There was certainly talent behind this track and it's too bad that they couldn't go further than this on the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although this song had already been released for months and had reached #1 at Dance, Virgin Records got the song placed on the soundtrack to the 1987 comedy-drama flick Hiding Out. The film starred Jon Cryer as a guy who poses as a high school student in order to avoid being killed by the mob. It received a lukewarm reception from critics and just barely made its budget back at the box office.  2) The band got its name after watching the 1968 black comedy film Pretty Poison. The movie starred Anthony Perkins as an ex-con and Tuesday Weld as a high school cheerleader who go on a crime spree that involved a couple of murders. While some critics loved it (Gene Siskel included it on his Top 10 list for the year) others didn't including the film's own studio, Fox, which didn't do much to support it. Not surprisingly, the movie didn't do well at the box office. However, it later became a cult film.

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Friday, October 2, 2020

"Don't Lose Any Sleep" by John Waite

Song#:  3275
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  81
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  Waite's fourth solo album, Rover's Return, didn't get off to a great start with its first single, "These Times Are Hard for Lovers," stalling at #53 on the Pop chart (#6 Rock). Waite then pegged his hopes on this second single that was written by star composer Diane Warren. This time around the track failed to reach the Rock chart while only spending a short month at Pop. With little to help promote it, the album stopped at a minor #77, which was the lowest peaking of his solo discs. It would be eight years before Waite would release another solo effort.

ReduxReview:  I can understand why Waite and his record company were drawn to this song. It has a bit of the ol' "Missing You" feeling while not sounding like a copy or pale imitation. The tune is actually better than a good chunk of his previous singles, but it kind of came too late. It probably should have been the album's first single, but I suspect that Waite wanted to keep his rock cred intact and opted to push out the Desmond Child co-write "These Times Are Hard for Lovers" first. I think that was a bit of a mistake. If this song had been released first with good promo/backing from the label, I think it could have easily got inside the Top 40. But after the first single failed at Pop, no one was interested in the second one.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Following the tepid results of Rover's Return, Waite decided on a new strategy. He formed a band with his old Babys bandmate Jonathan Cain along with Cain's Journey bandmate Neal Schon that would be called Bad English. The lineup would be filled out with Ricky Phillips (who had played with the Babys) and Deen Castronovo. The band's 1989 self-titled debut album would be a platinum hit thanks to the #1 hit "When I See You Smile." After recording their second album, 1991's Backlash, the band parted ways.  2) After Bad English dissolved, Waite returned to solo work. He contributed a couple of songs to soundtracks and then issued out his fifth album, 1995's Temple Bar. The LP's first single, "How Did I Get By Without You?," didn't do well at Pop (#85), but it did reach #20 at AC. His next two albums each featured singles that reached the AC Top 30. In 2006, Waite would record an album on which he re-recorded some of his hit songs along with a couple of covers and originals. Titled Downtown: Journey of a Heart, the album would feature Waite remaking his #1 his "Missing You" with country/bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss. It was released as a single and got to #34 on the Country chart.

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Thursday, October 1, 2020

"Heart and Soul" by The Monkees

Song#:  3274
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  87
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  The Monkees had been riding a second wave of Monkeemania thanks to MTV airing episodes of the band's '67-'68 TV show. They further capitalized on their resurgence and recorded a few new tracks for a compilation, which included the surprise #20 hit "That Was Then, This Is Now." With that success, it was then decided the band would get together for a new album, which would be the first under The Monkees moniker since 1970. Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones would move forward with the project with the fourth Monkee, Mike Nesmith, declining to participate. Like their early recordings, most songs for the album were by outside writers and session musicians were used. The LP would be titled Pool It! and this first single was released. Unfortunately, it seemed that the MTV generation's sudden love affair with The Monkees was over with the song disappearing after a month on the chart. That result along with negative reviews caused the album to stop at #78.

ReduxReviewPool It! is definitely not a good Monkees album. The production wasn't great and the song selections were subpar. They had an opportunity to come up with something cool that would take their 60s pop into the late 80s, but most of the songs that they chose (or were chosen for them) were mediocre pop tracks that any artist could have recorded. In other words, there was little that actually made the Monkees sound like the Monkees including this power pop-lite single. It was one of the better tracks on the LP, but it wasn't something that was going to fly up the chart. It just fell flat, mainly thanks to the arrangement and production. Justus (see below) was better, but they found their groove again with 2016's Good Times!, which featured some terrific songs, both new and old, and spot-on production. They hadn't sounded that Monkee-ish since the 60s. As for 80s Monkees, you may wanna skip it.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After the failure of Pool It!, the trio that participated in the reunion would go on to do special performances and tours, some with and some without Mike Nesmith. In 1996, all four Monkees got together to do a proper album. Titled Justus, it featured new and revived material written by the band members and was performed and produced by the quartet. Neither the album nor any of its promoted singles reached the charts. The band would then tour on occasion in various iterations. Davy Jones would pass away later in 2012. Then in 2016, the surviving members of the band decided to get together to celebrate their 50th anniversary. A new album, Good Times!, produced by Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains of Wayne), was recorded and released. It would do well reaching #14. Two years later, they would get together for the holiday album Christmas Party. A few months after its release, Peter Tork would pass away. Since then, Dolenz and Nesmith have reunited and performed via The Monkees name as "The Mike & Mikey Show."

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

"Follow You" by Glen Burtnick

Song#:  3273
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  65
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Jersey-born Burtnick hooked into music at an early age and began performing in his teens. In the late 70s, Burtnick starred in the west coast version of the Broadway musical Beatlemania in the role of Paul McCartney (alongside Marshall Crenshaw who played John Lennon). While in the show, Burtnick met up with composer/producer Jan Hammer who happened to be looking for a lead vocalist for his band Hammer. Burtnick signed up and Hammer's self-titled album was released in 1979 to little notice. Another Beatlemania cast member's band, Helmet Boy, got a major label deal and Burtnick was asked to front the band. Their self-titled debut came out in 1980, but quickly disappeared. Burtnick then returned to Jersey and performed with several bands before recording a demo song that got the attention of A&M Records. He got signed to a solo deal and a 1986 debut album Talking in Code was released to little notice, save for one track, "Little Red House," that was a minor entry on the Rock chart at #40. The label gave Burtnick a second chance and Heroes & Zeros was released in 1987. This first single was issued out and it did okay at Rock getting to #23. It crossed over to Pop where it spent a couple of months in the bottom half of the chart. The results combined with Burnick's dissatisfaction with A&M ended his major label solo days.

ReduxReview:  This song falls right in Bryan Adams/Richard Marx territory and I'm surprised it didn't do better on the charts. It's a hooky, melodic tune that was well-produced, exciting, and perfect for the time it was released. Burtnick sounded great as well. It was much better than anything found on Adams' Into the Fire album, yet for some reason the tune didn't get a fair shake and it stalled early. Had I heard this song back in the day, I would have bought the single. I think it may have needed an extra promotional push, but it seems A&M didn't get behind the track as well as they should have. Burtnick would grab hits as part of a group and as a songwriter later (see below), but he should have had his own solo hit with this one.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While at A&M, Burtnick got the attention of another band on the label, Styx. That band had broken up in 1984, but by the end of the decade they were plotting a reunion. The only stickler was that original member Tommy Shaw was already committed to another band he helped form in 1989, Damn Yankees. With a spot open, Styx auditioned Burtnick as Shaw's replacement and he got the job. The band then recorded the album Edge of the Century and released it in 1990. A single from the LP, "Show Me the Way," would be an unexpected hit that would reach #3 Pop and #3 AC. A follow-up single, "Love at First Sight," which was co-written by Burtnick, would get to #25 Pop/#13 AC. The band would split again in 1991. Another reunion would take place in 1996, but after Dennis DeYoung left the band in 1999, Burtnick once again stepped in rejoined Styx. He would remain with them until 2003 following the release of the album Cyclorama.  2) As a songwriter, Burtnick would score a couple of major hits. He co-wrote "Sometimes Love Ain't Enough" with Patty Smyth. She would record it as a duet with Don Henley and it would be the first single released from her self-titled second album in 1992. The song woud get to #2 at Pop and #1 AC. A song Burtnick co-wrote and that he recorded for his 1996 indie LP Palookaville titled "Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man" would get picked up and recorded by country superstar Randy Travis. It would be released as a single in 1998 and get to #2 Country and #42 Pop. (Note: Along the way, Burtnick would change the spelling of his last name. He would drop the "c" and become Burtnik. However, when this single/album came out, he was still using his original last name.)

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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

"Crazy, Crazy Nights" by Kiss

Song#:  3272
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  65
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Kiss' track record in the 80s was a bit up and down. They had personnel changes, went "unmasked," changed up their sound, and did a concept album. Despite not securing a major hit on the Pop chart (and only three Rock Top 20s), the band remained popular enough to still get all of their albums, except for one, to go gold or platinum. Their 1985 LP, Asylum, would get to #20 and go gold, but it did little to expand their core audience. For their next effort, Crazy Nights, the band decided to take a detour into slick modern 80s radio-ready rock. The heavier guitar-driven sound of their glam rock was reshaped with keyboards and synths courtesy of producer Ron Nevison (who successfully guided Heart into the 80s). This first single was issued out and it got to #37 at Rock while missing the top half of the Pop chart. Regardless of those results, the associated video did well on MTV and people bought the album. It would get to #18, which would end up being the band's highest peaking LP of the 80s. It would also become their eighth studio album to go platinum.

ReduxReview:  While this track wasn't awash in big keyboard sounds, it also wasn't the heavier, glam rock sound of the Kiss of yore. With bands like Heart, Bon Jovi, and even Poison burning up the charts with accessible mainstream rock, Kiss it seems didn't want to get left behind and attempted to make catchy, radio-ready tracks that would result in hits. It sort of worked. The band got lots of exposure on MTV, ended up with a hit overseas (see below), and got another platinum album, but critics and long-time fans were not happy with the walk down Mainstream St. Indeed, it just didn't sound right. Kiss wasn't meant to sound, well, pop-ish. We already had a Survivor, why did we need another? I thought some of their previous arena rock tracks like "Tears Are Falling" were doing well at keeping Kiss current while still maintaining some of their hard rock cred. But tracks like this single were blatant stabs at getting hits. Worse yet were keyboard-driven tracks like "My Way" and "Turn on the Night," which was a co-write with pop hit songwriter Diane Warren. The tunes sounded like desperate hail Mary passes from a band that was losing their relevancy.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  While the band was still striking out on hit singles in the US, this song became a hit in other countries. Particularly in the UK where it reached #4 and received a silver certification for sales. It would end up being Kiss' highest charting single in the UK. The album would also be their best effort there reaching #7. The song was also a Top 10 hit in other countries like Norway and Ireland.

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Monday, September 28, 2020

"Bad" by Michael Jackson

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3271
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  40
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  Jackson's follow-up to his massive Thriller album, Bad, got off to a good start with the #1 "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." Since it was released a few weeks prior to the album, the single sold well and reached gold level sales. The LP would finally reach the public on September 1st and not long after this second title-track single would be issued out. Just like his previous single, this song debuted in the Top 40. It took a short 6-weeks for it to reach the top of the Pop chart. It also reached #1 at R&B and Dance while getting to #33 at AC. Although it would only stay at #1 for a couple weeks and quickly descend (14 weeks on the chart is fairly short for a #1), it was still another major hit for the King of Pop. The single was unable to reach gold-level sales at the time, but in 2018, the digital version of the song was certified for platinum sales.

ReduxReview:  This has never been one of my favorite Jackson songs, but I do appreciate it. The track had a tougher sound than anything he had done before and being the first track on the album it really set a tone. The production was excellent with the opening beat and keyboard/bass lick quickly becoming indelible. It was kind of an extension of "Beat It," but the song wasn't nearly as captivating. I wasn't a big fan of the video either. It was just a bit overblown and I didn't buy Jackson in a tough guy role. It's not a Jackson song that I ever long to hear, but I don't mind listening to it.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Jackson originally intended this song to be a duet with Prince. But when he asked Prince to join him on the track, the Purple One declined. Later on in a 1997 interview conducted by comedian Chris Rock, Prince talked about turning down "Bad." Prince said that he would have been the character in the video that was eventually played by Wesley Snipes and the role didn't fit him. Then there was the first line of the song, "you're butt is mine." Prince said the lyrics were a big problem because he wasn't going to say that to Jackson, and Jackson certainly wasn't going to say that to him. In other words, it just wasn't the right song/vibe for Prince and he bowed out.  2) With the new album came expectations for another epic video a la "Thriller." Jackson chose "Bad" to be the song that would get the mini-movie treatment. The video was shot over a six-week period with the legendary Martin Scorsese in the director's seat. The storyline basically follows the lyrics of the song in which a kid from a rough neighborhood returns after attending an expensive private school. He encounters his old friends and things seem fine at first, but after they sense the kid has changed, things take a turn with the "leader" of his friends calling him out and a sort of dance duel ensues. That leader was played by a then-unknown Wesley Snipes. The video ends with Jackson and Snipes coming to mutual ground and shaking hands. Jackson's inspiration for the song came from an article he read that had a similar story, however in the real story the kid was killed. Of course, Jackson didn't want that for the video and altered it in a more positive way. The final 18-minute film was a hit on MTV and it really kicked off the promotion of Bad. However, unlike "Thriller," the video didn't snare a bunch of awards or nominations. It only received one MTV Music Video award nomination and that was for Best Choreography. He was beaten out in that category by his sister Janet (for "The Pleasure Principle").

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

"Waterfall" by Wendy & Lisa

Song#:  3270
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  80
Peak:  56
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin had known each other since childhood. Their fathers, both musicians, were good friends and the families spent a lot of time together. Their relationship changed in their late teens from friends to girlfriends and both had picked up the music bug from their fathers. Through a friend, Coleman landed an audition to be in Prince's backing band for the tour supporting his album Dirty Mind. She got the job and continued to work with Prince over the next few years. When sessions started for Purple Rain, Prince's guitarist left the band. Melvoin was able to step in. Wendy & Lisa then became official members of the Revolution. In addition to singing and playing instruments for Prince's projects, the pair would also co-write a few songs and do arrangements. However, after three albums with Prince, the duo were feeling like they were not getting the proper credit for their contributions and after the sessions for Prince's shelved Dream Factory album, they decided to leave the Revolution. After their departure, Prince then fully disbanded the backing band. Having already been working on their own material, Wendy & Lisa signed on with Columbia Records and recorded a self-titled debut album. This first single was issued out and it started to get a little attention, but it ended up fizzling out before it could reach the top half of the Pop chart. The album would make it to #88. The song would be the duo's only one solely credited to them to reach the Pop chart. Their follow-up album, 1989's Fruit at the Bottom, would featured the song "Are You My Baby?," which made it to #26 on the R&B chart. A third album, 1990's Eroica, failed to generate any charting songs in the US. Over in the UK, the duo's three albums would generate nine singles that reached the chart, but only one of them would crack the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  What I liked about Wendy & Lisa is that they took things they learned with Prince and applied some of it to their own tunes. They didn't overwhelm their songs with Prince-isms or the Minneapolis sound like other ex-Prince stable artists. They had their own sound and I really dug it on their debut album. I immediately loved this single and bought it followed by the album. I was disappointed that both didn't do better. I still listen to the album quite a bit. I think it has grown in esteem over the years and is appreciated more now. It's just too bad it didn't get the recognition it deserved back in the day.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While their personal relationship would come to an end, Wendy & Lisa would continue to be musical partners. In addition to working as session musicians and songwriters for many artists, the pair branched out into the world of scoring. Their first major job was writing the score for the hit 1995 movie Dangerous Minds. While their score would not be issued out, songs featured in the film were assembled into a soundtrack album and it would hit #1 thanks to Coolio's #1 hit "Gangsta's Paradise." A track from Lisa & Wendy's debut album, "The Life," would be re-recorded and included on the soundtrack. The pair would go on to do more score work and also write themes to several TV shows including Crossing Jordan, Heroes, and Nurse Jackie, for which they won an Emmy.  2) While this song would be Wendy & Lisa's only Pop charting song credited just to them, they would reach the Pop chart again in a more featured role. They would perform on the theme to the 1992 Robin Williams flick Toys. The song was called "The Closing of the Year (Main Theme)" and it would be credited to The Musical Cast of Toys featuring Wendy & Lisa. The tune was released as a single and it would get to #53. The fantasy-comedy film directed and co-written (with Valerie Curtain) by Barry Levinson was a critical failure and a box office bomb. It cost $50 million to make and only grossed $23 million. (Note: I'm the rare person who really liked the film along with the soundtrack.)

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

"Hourglass" by Squeeze

Song#:  3269
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  81
Peak:  15
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  This British band was last on the US Pop chart in 1981 with the #49 "Tempted." It was from their fourth album East Side Story, which made it to #41. Their next LP, Sweets from a Stranger, would get to #32, but it failed to generate a Pop chart single. Those results along with member conflicts, negative press, and touring stress led to the breakup of the band. Founding members and main songwriters Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford then decided to work as a duo. Appropriately named Difford & Tilbrook, the pair released a self-titled album in 1984. It didn't make much of an impression and failed to chart. In 1985, Squeeze reformed to perform at a charity event. The reception they received was so positive that the band decided to take that momentum into the studio and record a new album. Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti would be issued out in 1986. While it didn't featured any major hits, the LP did chart in the UK (#31) and the US (#61). Squeeze moved forward and then recorded the album Babylon and On. This track was issued out as the first single and it caught on cracking the Pop Top 20 while reaching #22 at Rock. It would end up being the band's biggest hit in the US. The hit drove the album to #36. The results were nearly the same back at home in the UK where the song reached #16 and the album #14.

ReduxReview:  This quirky song was a lot of fun, especially when paired with the video (see below). I loved the arrangement and the fast-paced chorus. It was hooky and memorable and I bought the single. Sadly, this song doesn't get played much anymore. It has been ages since I heard it anywhere. Playing it now makes me want to revisit the Squeeze catalog and get a few songs in my playlists. I know for true Squeeze fans and critics, this song wasn't necessarily a fave, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was loaded with illusions and effects and it became quite popular on MTV, which most likely helped it along on the Pop chart. The concept was inspired by the surreal works of artist Salvador Dali. It was directed by British comedian/actor/singer Ade Edmondson. Edmondson became well-known thanks to the early 80s TV shows The Comic Strip Presents... and The Young Ones. On The Comic Strip he helped develop a metal band parody called Bad News. Edmondson would serve as the lead singer and guitarist. The band became popular enough that a self-titled debut album was released in 1987 along with a follow-up in 1988. Edmondson would appear in many TV shows and films over the years and direct music videos for other artists including The Pogues and 10,000 Maniacs. Back in 1985, Edmondson married comedian/screenwriter/actress Jennifer Saunders. She was also featured on The Comic Strip along with The Young Ones, but would later become hugely famous as creator/writer/star of Absolutely Fabulous.

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Friday, September 25, 2020

"You Win Again" by Bee Gees

Song#:  3268
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  75
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Of all the artists that got caught up in the disco backlash of '79/'80 perhaps none caught the brunt of it more than the Bee Gees. By the late 70s they were one of the biggest acts in music. From '77 through to '79, the trio scored six consecutive #1 hits. There was no reason to think that their success wouldn't continue in the 80s, but when disco died, the trio practically became poster children for the backlash. Records were burned and radio stations refused to play their music. Effects were immediate. In the summer of '79, the band was at #1 with "Love You Inside Out" and the associated album Spirits Have Flown had topped the chart. Their next album, 1981's Living Eyes practically died upon release (#41) with its first single, "He's a Liar," stopping at #30. They then worked on the 1983 soundtrack to Staying Alive, which made it to #6, but their single from the LP "The Woman in You" stopped at #24. Nothing was working for them so the brothers stepped away for a bit with all three of them recording solo or soundtrack projects. By 1986, the brothers decided to get back together to give it another go. They switched over to Warner Bros. Records and recorded their seventeenth studio album, E-S-P, with producer Arif Mardin. The LP was finished in the late summer of '87 with this first single getting released. Despite it's decidedly non-disco/dance feel, it seems that the Bee Gees were still persona non grata with US radio stations with many ignoring the track. It stopped low on the Pop chart while getting to #50 at AC. With little support, the song and album (#96) became their lowest charting efforts since 1974. While the trio received a cold shoulder from the US, in other countries this song kicked off their comeback (see below).

ReduxReview:  It was a real shame that this song wasn't really given a chance in the US. After years of trying to overcome the effects of "disco sucks," which included a lack of direction, subpar material, and mediocre solo discs, the brothers finally started to get their act back together again after a needed hiatus. This hooky track with an indelible drum beat/sound was a terrific track to reintroduce the trio for the late 80s. It was a solid pop song that had no shades of dance/disco or even the brothers' trademark high falsetto vocals. The rest of the world got it, but in the US it was unfairly ignored due to the still-strong disco stigma. I liked the song well enough to purchase the album. It had a few other good tracks including the beautiful, haunting ballad "Angela."

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Radio stations and listeners in the US may not have been ready yet for a Bee Gees return, but the story was different in other territories. In the UK, this song became their fifth #1. With that result, the Bee Gees became the first group to score a #1 hit in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The album also did well reaching #5 and going platinum. The song would hit #1 in at least five other countries and reach the Top 10 in several others. The song would earn the brothers the 1987 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. The only place it tanked was the US, which both disappointed and angered the trio as they felt they couldn't get a fair shake from radio stations who were still reluctant to play Bee Gees material.

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

"The One I Love" by R.E.M.

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3267
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  9
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Alternative Rock



Pop Bits:  Over the course of four critically lauded albums, R.E.M. continued to build their audience to the point where their 1986 album Life's Rich Pageant would hit #21 and be their first to be certified gold. They accomplished this without having a significant single on the Pop chart (their best effort to-date was the #78 "Radio Free Europe" in 1983). The increased popularity of the band along with the gold album generated anticipation for their fifth album Document. It would be the first of six LPs on which the band would work with producer Scott Litt, who helped put a more crisp, mainstream sound to the band's tracks. This first single got things kicked off and it did well at Rock reaching #2. Over on the Pop chart, the song made a steady climb until it finally became R.E.M.'s first Top 10 hit. That result helped the album also become their first Top 10 reaching #10. Once again their fan base grew and the album became their first to reach platinum status.

ReduxReview:  The band's first three albums were definitely alt-rock affairs that included some lo-fi production and Michael Stipes' mumbling, unintelligible singing over terrific songs that were not necessarily written for the Pop chart. That started to change on Life's Rich Pageant when producer Don Gehman framed the band's more focused tunes in modern production. Scott Litt then continued the transformation with the band also advancing their songwriting skills. It culminated in this first single that was their most focused and direct attempt to create a hooky, radio-ready track that would satisfy critics and old fans while bring on board a whole new audience. It was a definite blast of power from the band that showed that they were more than ready to take their music and their career to the next level.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Much in the way that The Police's "Every Breath You Take" was mistakenly viewed as love song (it was basically about an obsessive stalker), this R.E.M. track was also taken as a love song, which was a misnomer. At its heart, the tune was about someone who uses people over and over. So while radio listeners would dedicate this song to one's that they love ("this one goes out to the one I love"), they seem to dismiss the second line ("a simple prop to occupy my time"). However, the misinterpretation never bothered lead singer/songwriter Michael Stipe. He though the lyrics were quite brutal and didn't really want to record the song, but then listeners took it as some kind of love song, which then made Stipe feel a bit better about the track.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

"Boys Night Out" by Timothy B. Schmit

Song#:  3266
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  25
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Former Eagle Schmit kicked off a solo career in 1982 by contributing the remake "So Much in Love" to the soundtrack for the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The song got to #59 and was later included on Schmit's 1984 debut solo album Playin' It Cool. Over the next couple of years he would help out a lot of other artists, but finally found time and inspiration to get back into the studio to record a second solo disc. It would be titled simply Timothy B and this first single would get issued out. It got some attention at Rock reaching #17 while cracking the Top 30 on the Pop chart. It would end up being his biggest solo hit. The album would sell a minor few copies and reach #106. Schmit's third solo album, 1990's Tell Me the Truth failed to generate any charting tracks and it disappeared quickly. By 1994, he was back with a reunited Eagles and has remained with them since. Along the way he would record a few indie solo discs.

ReduxReview:  This song got near the Top 20, yet I don't remember it at all. It's an interesting track. The hi-gloss 80s production is a highlight and the song itself wasn't too different from some of the songs being tossed out by fellow former Eagles Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Frankly, if the band had stayed together, this could have been something that they might have considered recording. I like the track, but I'm a bit surprised it got so high on the chart as I wouldn't have pegged it for hit potential. While Schmit's solo career would never stack up to the heights reached by Henley or Frey, at least he did get a pretty good track on the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For a three-year period beginning in 1983, Schmit would tour with Jimmy Buffett at a member of Buffett's Coral Reefer Band. Apparently at a 1985 show in Cincinnati, Buffett commented about members of the audience who continually showed up to his concerts usually wearing Hawaiian shirts and parrot hats. He compared them to the "Deadheads" that followed The Grateful Dead. That's when Schmit yelled over at Buffett and said that the fans were then like "parrot heads." Buffett liked that and tossed the phrase out over to the audience. The name was quickly embraced and it stuck. Followers of Buffett then called themselves Parrot Heads and by 1989 the first Parrot Head club was founded. Years later, children of Parrot Heads and younger new fans got the nickname of being Parakeets.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

"We Should Be Sleeping" by Eddie Money

Song#:  3265
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  90
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Money's album Can't Hold Back was his first to generate three Top 40 singles, which included his biggest Pop hit, the #4 "Take Me Home Tonight." With three tracks doing well, the label decided to try for four and released this follow-up. It didn't do too bad at Rock where it topped out at #18, but it was virtually a non-starter at Pop spending a mere three weeks near the bottom of the chart. However, the results didn't really matter as the album had been certified platinum a few weeks earlier. It was Money's fourth (and final) studio album to reach the platinum sales level.

ReduxReview:  This song is more rockin' than Money's previous three Top 40 efforts, which skewed towards pop and were composed by outside writers. Money co-wrote this one and it showcases his own rock style well, but it just wasn't as mainstream catchy as his bigger hits. It was a good fit for Rock radio, but it wasn't really suited for Pop and indeed it went nowhere. Frankly, there was no reason to release this single. It could have been left as an airplay-only Rock track, but I'm sure Money's label wanted to eke out as much cash as they could from a hit album and pushed it out. In the process I'm sure they probably spent more money releasing it than what the single brought in. Not a wise choice.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Another track on the album, "Stranger in a Strange Land," was co-written by Money with Henry Small and Tom Whitlock. Small had been a member of the band Prism from 1981-84. During that time, the band got two singles on the Pop chart including the #39 "Don't Let Him Know." After the band split up, Small got to work with The Who's bassist John Entwistle on what would have been Entwistle's sixth solo LP, The Rock. Small was hired in to handle lead vocal duties on the album, which was recorded around the same time as Money's Can't Hold Back. "Stranger in a Strange Land" was recorded by Money and by Entwistle/Small for their respective projects. Since Money is listed as co-writer, it is assumed that Money was the first to record the song and then Small took it over to Entwistle. It seemed like the two versions were going to be in competition, but in the end that didn't happen because due to some legal issues, Entwistle's album was blocked from being released. The LP stayed in the vault for ten years before it was finally issued out in 1996.

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