Friday, April 3, 2020

"Head to Toe" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3092
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B, Freestyle



Pop Bits:  Along with the production/songwriting team of Full Force, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam scored a platinum self-titled debut album in 1985. It was boosted by two gold singles including the #8 Pop/#3 R&B hit "All Cried Out." Following the success, the band went back into the studio with Full Force to record a follow-up album. Spanish Fly would be produced and written (save for one co-write with Lisa Lisa) by Full Force with members of that team also performing on the LP. This first single was released and it became their first to reach #1 at both Pop and R&B. It was also their second song to top the Dance chart. The mass appeal of the song helped it become their third certified gold single. The album would reach #7 at both Pop and R&B and it would go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This Motown-influenced nugget pushed the band in a more mainstream pop direction and it worked well. Full Force really reined things in to make this a concise, hooky confection. Lisa Lisa's girlish voice sold the song perfectly and the freestyle production kept the track current. There was no doubt that this was going to be an across the board smash. Along with "All Cried Out," this song has lasted far beyond the 80s. While the band would only hang around for a few more years, these songs have kept the name Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam alive for decades.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  In addition to working with Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, the members of Full Force would also embark on a recording career of their own. In 1985, they would release their self-titled debut album. The LP's first single, "Girl If You Take Me Home," was an answer song to Lisa Lisa's first hit "I Wonder If I Take You Home" (#1 Dance/#6 R&B/#34 Pop). The response track wouldn't do as well only reaching #32 Dance and #79 R&B. Their next single, "Alice, I Want You Just for Me!" would do better getting to #16 R&B and #34 Dance. However, it was a much bigger hit in the UK where it got to #9. Full Force would continue to release albums over the years and along the way grab twelve more R&B single entries. Their biggest hit came in 1988 with "All in My Mind," which became their lone R&B Top 10 hit reaching #6. Besides the songwriting/production work that Full Force did for other artists, as a band they were never able to get a song on the Pop chart.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, April 2, 2020

"Diamonds" by Herb Alpert

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3091
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  5
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B



Pop Bits:  The famous trumpeter/label head (A&M) decided to modernize his sound and sought out the help of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the songwriting/production team behind recent hits by Janet Jackson and The Human League (incidentally, both were A&M artists). The trio worked together on four tracks that would appear on Alpert's album Keep Your Eye on Me. The title track was the LP's first single and it did well at R&B getting to #3. It didn't do as well at Pop where it stalled at a minor #46. However, Alpert and Jam & Lewis had this second single ace up their sleeve. Featuring an assist from newly minted superstar Janet Jackson along with vocalist Lisa Keith, the hooky tune had more mainstream appeal and it ended up reaching the Pop Top 10 while hitting #1 at both R&B and Dance. It was Alpert's first (and only) #1 at R&B and his fifth Pop Top 10. The hit would help the album reach gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  Alpert was certainly smart in taking advantage of Jam & Lewis, who had been working with several artists at A&M. Bringing along Janet Jackson was another brilliant move. Still, even though this was credited as by Herb Alpert, we all really know that this is basically a Janet Jackson track with Alpert noodling in the background. Jam & Lewis do a great job incorporating Alpert's trumpet, but I doubt this song was written with Alpert in mind. It was probably something they had already written and just adapted it for Alpert. It really should have been the first single from the LP as there was no doubt it was going to be a hit, but I think it was held off for release so that it wouldn't interfere with Jackson's run of singles. It was conveniently released just as Jackson's "Let's Wait Awhile" was peaking and before her next single "The Pleasure Principle" was issued out. It was a smart move that paid off for Alpert.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  When Alpert first began his recording career, it wasn't with his trumpet. He started out as a vocalist and in 1961 he issued out his first solo single under the name Dore Alpert. The songs on the single, "Dreamland" and "Gonna Get a Girl," were cute 60s pop tunes that ended up going nowhere. A second single also tanked. However, it was Alpert's negative experience working with a major label that prompted him to start his own indie label. Along with Jerry Moss, Alpert founded Carnival Records in 1962. Their first release, "Tell It to the Birds," was another vocal song credited to Dore Alpert. However, after its release Alpert and Moss found out that the Carnival name was already being used by another record company. So they changed it to A&M, which stood for Alpert and Moss. There would be two more singles released under the Dore Alpert name, but the label would get their first hit when Alpert developed his Tijuana Brass band and recorded the instrumental "The Lonely Bull." Release late in 1962, the song would make it to #6 the following year. The hit helped the emerging label and within a decade A&M would be one of the biggest indie labels in the world featuring an eclectic lineup of artists that included The Carpenters, Cheech & Chong, The Police, Suzanne Vega, Peter Frampton, Chuck Mangione, and Janet Jackson. Alpert maintained a recording career over the years with and without the Tijuana Brass. Just a couple short years after this single was released, Alpert and Moss decided to sell A&M to Polygram. The duo were to remain in charge of the label and run it as they wanted, but of course the conglomerate quickly stepped in and started making changes. Alpert and Moss hung around for three years, but finally bowed out. They eventually filed a lawsuit against Polygram for breach of an integrity clause. The suit was settled for $200 million. The A&M label lasted into the 90s and took on more hit artists like Sheryl Crow. In 1998, the label along with Polygram was merged with Universal Music. A lot of changes and fallout happened afterwards, but the A&M imprint still hung around and is still in use.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

"Endless Nights" by Eddie Money

Song#:  3090
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  21
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  After years of having mainly middling hits on the Pop chart, Money grabbed his first Top 10 with the #4 "Take Me Home Tonight" from his sixth album Can't Hold Back. He nearly got a second Top 10 with the follow up "I Wanna Go Back," which got to #14. The double dose of hits prompted the release of this third single. It would be Money's fourth Top 10 at Rock reaching #10. At Pop, the tune just missed out on the Top 20 stopping shy at #21. The album would reach #20 and become Money's fourth to go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This is the third gem in a row from Money. It was a well-written tune perfectly arranged and produced by Money with Richie Zito. Along with "I Wanna Go Back," this really should have been a Top 10 hit. It's an easy going track with a sweet, hooky chorus. I also like that little trill in the background at the end of the choruses. I think two other artists could have had a hit with this song - Bryan Adams and Corey Hart. It would have fit both of them well, however they wrote their own songs and would have never considered recording it. Luckily, Money got first crack at it and came up with a winner.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was written by John Cesario, Michele Collyer, and Steve Mullen. For all three writers, this would be their only song to reach the charts. Cesario and Mullen would co-write the tune "Everytime I Think of You" for the 1987 second album I'm Only Fooling Myself by future Mr. Big lead singer Eric Martin ("Information," 1985, #87 Pop). The track would be released as a single, but it would not chart. Cesario would set aside music aspirations to work with media and internet companies. In 2012, he would be a co-founder of Rocket Songs, a website/business that culls songs from professional writers and publishers and makes them available for licensing to music artists. Perhaps a singer who has been performing cover tunes wants to expand into originals, but they are not yet writing songs themselves. They can go on Rocket Songs, shop around for new tunes, license them, and then record/perform them.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

"Shy Girl" by Stacey Q

Song#:  3089
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  89
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Synthpop



Pop Bits:  Stacey Q's full-length debut album Better Than Heaven would be a gold seller thanks to the #3 hit "Two of Hearts." A follow-up single, "We Connect," would crack the Top 40 at #35. Two other singles would be released, but neither would reach the Pop chart. She wouldn't reach the chart again with new material until March of '88. In the meantime, it seemed her previous record company, On the Spot, decided to capitalize on Stacey Q's newfound major label popularity and began to recirculate her very first single, "Shy Girl."  It was originally released in 1985 and although it didn't chart then, it did help her get signed to Atlantic Records. On its second go around, the indie single was able to reach the Pop chart and hung around the bottom for nearly three months. The length of time on the chart for a song peaking at #89 was highly unusual. It was most likely due to the indie nature of the single, its slow spread to various regions, and possibly a lack of product. Had it got reissued by Atlantic, the song might have done better on the chart.

ReduxReview:  This tune takes a little bit to get going, but once it does it's not too bad. It has a little Madonna smell to it, yet there is enough Stacey Q here to keep it from being a flat out imitation. The guitar is a nice add and for an 80s indie recording, the production is slightly above par. It was definitely not as hooky as "Two of Hearts," but it might have gained a bigger audience if she had re-recorded it for Atlantic and pushed it out as a one-off single. It did well in certain parts of the US since it hung out on the chart for eleven weeks.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was from Stacey Q's 1985 self-titled debut EP. The release consisted of five songs and was only available on cassette. In addition to this single, the EP featured her first version of "Two of Hearts." That song and another track on the EP, "Dancing Nowhere," would be re-recorded for her Atlantic debut LP. The EP track "Hard Machine" would later be re-recorded and serve as the title track to her second Atlantic album. Also on the EP was "Dancing in the Dark." It was a remake of a Kim Wilde song that appeared on her 1983 album Catch As Catch Can. Wilde's original version was released as a single in Europe and it made the Top 10 in a few countries including Denmark and Finland.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, March 30, 2020

"Should I See" by Frozen Ghost

Song#:  3088
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  95
Peak:  69
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  After the breakup of the Canadian band Sheriff ("When I'm with You") in 1985, two of its members, Arnold Lanni and Wolf Hassel, went off and started their own band Frozen Ghost. They got signed to WEA (Atlantic in the US) and proceeded to record their self-titled debut album. This first single was issued out and it did well at Rock reaching #4. The attention there helped the song cross over to the Pop chart where it hung around for two and half months. It did better in Canada getting to #27. The album was able to chart in the US, but at a low #107.

ReduxReview:  This song about censorship was relevant at the time coming on the heels of the PMRC Senate hearings and the whole parental advisory sticker thing. I'm sure that event served as inspiration for this tune that yells "tell me what should I see? Make my mind up for me!" The lyrics were spot-on and they were framed in catchy pop/rock. I remember that I had planned on getting the single, but ended up with the album thanks to a record store promotion. I had gone to the local record shop and a radio station was there doing promotions and they were giving away some albums. For some reason I was given the choice to take the Frozen Ghost LP or Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat. Due to this song, I chose Frozen Ghost. It was probably the right choice at the time, even though the album quickly ended up in the back of my collection. The Warnes album was her covering Leonard Cohen songs. I didn't know anything about Cohen and little about Warnes at the time so I probably wouldn't have appreciated the album then, but years later I regretted my choice as I later became a fan of Cohen's music. Of course I have the LP now and it is obviously far superior to the Frozen Ghost effort. However, this single of theirs is still a standout and a solid listen.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Frozen Ghost, which was mainly just Lanni and Hassel, would release a second album in 1988. While it would spawn three charting singles in Canada, the only song to do anything in the US was the #44 Rock entry "Round and Round." It would be their last song to chart in the US. Also in 1988, the Sheriff single "When I'm With You" would get an unexpected revival and the song would end up reaching #1 in the US. That band had already been broken up for three years, but the sudden hit had folks wondering if the band would reform. A reunion ended up being a no-go so Lanni and Hassel continued on with Frozen Ghost. For their third (and final) album, the pair brought on board three new members to make the group a quintet. They released Shake Your Spirit in 1992. Three of the LP's songs reached the Canadian chart including what would end up being their biggest hit, the #16 "Head Over Heels." Yet despite the good results the band broke up in '93.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, March 29, 2020

"I'll Still Be Loving You" by Restless Heart

Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3087
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  33
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Crossover Country, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  In 1984, songwriter Tim DuBois decided to assemble a band specifically for the purpose of recording demos of songs he wrote or co-wrote. These tunes would then be shopped to other artists. He got five guys together and began recording. The sessions were so successful that the made-up band decided that they should become a real band. DuBois signed them up with his management company and got them a deal with RCA. They released their self-titled debut album in 1985 and it ended up reaching #10 on the Country chart thanks to three Country Top 10 hits. Their next LP, Wheels, would prove to be their mainstream breakthrough. Its first single, "That Rock Won't Roll," would become their first #1 at Country, but it was this second single that gained them a larger audience. The ballad would garner them their second Country #1 while hitting #3 at AC. It also cracked the Pop Top 40, which was unusual at the time as country-oriented songs/artists, with a minor exception or two, had not been getting on the Pop chart for the past couple of years. The hit helped the album get to #1 at Country and #73 Pop. It would end up being a gold seller. It would also spawn a total of four Country #1 hits. Over the next five years, the band would score three more gold-selling studio albums.

ReduxReview:  This song is simply gorgeous. If this had been released a few years earlier during the heyday of country pop, I'm certain this would have been a #1 Pop hit. The fact that it made the Top 40 when it did showed the strength and appeal of the song. I'm not 100% sure, but I think this might have been the last country crossover hit until Billy Ray Cyrus' 1992 "Achy Breaky Heart" (#4 Pop). That's how much the musical landscaped changed in the late 80s. I loved this tune the first time I heard it. The chorus was beautifully written and the arrangement was timeless. Larry Stewart did a great job on vocals as well. Of course I bought the album, which had other gems as well including the brooding "New York (Hold Her Tight)." This is classic country-pop songwriting at its best impeccably recorded and performed.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  While this song introduced the band to a Pop audience, their follow-up songs would not reach the chart. However, two tracks from the album would get on the AC chart. The band wouldn't get back on the Pop chart until 1992 when they scored their biggest crossover hit "When She Cries." That song would reach #11 Pop, #2 AC, and #9 Country. It was from their album Big Iron Horses. Prior to that LP, the band's lead singer, Larry Stewart, had left for a solo career. The band soldiered on as a quartet with three of them sharing lead vocal duties. "When She Cries" was sung by drummer John Dittrich. The song would be the band's last Top 10 at Country while the album would be their final gold-seller. They would breakup and reform a couple of times over the years with Larry Stewart rejoining them.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, March 28, 2020

"Don't Disturb This Groove" by The System

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3086
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  4
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Sophisti-Pop



Pop Bits:  This duo of Mic Murphy and David Frank were last on the Pop chart in 1983 with their single "You Are in My System" (#64 Pop/#10 R&B). It was from their debut album Sweat. Two more albums would follow, but besides a couple of minor R&B chart entries and the #8 Dance hit "This Is for You," nothing really pushed them into the mainstream spotlight. That is until this title track single was released from their fourth LP Don't Disturb This Groove. The song would take off at R&B and reach the #1 spot. As it neared that peak, the single debuted on the Pop chart. It started out low, but gained momentum and eventually reached the Top 10. It would also get to #35 at AC. In turn, the album would become their biggest seller reaching #13 R&B and #62 Pop. The single would end up being their first and only Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  Right from the get-go this song established exactly what it was selling - a groove. And yeah, don't freakin' disturb it! These guys knocked it out of the park in both writing and production. Besides the sleek, silky R&B rhythms, the chorus was hooky, and the arrangement spot-on. It was also perfectly produced by the pair for the late 80s. The duo just got everything right. While the album didn't contain anything as in-tha-pocket as this song, it was still full of solid tracks along the same lines. The System would never be able to replicate the success of this track, but having this memorable gem to their credit was still a great accomplishment.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  David Frank would have success outside of The System as a songwriter and producer. His biggest hit as a songwriter came in 1999 when he co-wrote and co-produced Christina Aguilera's #1 debut single "Genie in a Bottle." The following year he would score another hit co-writing/co-producing "He Loves U Not" for the female vocal group Dream. That song would be a #2 hit. Frank was also a prolific session musician who worked with superstar artists like Phil Collins, Destiny''s Child, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and many others.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, March 27, 2020

"I Know What I Like" by Huey Lewis & the News

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3085
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  54
Peak:  9
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  By this point, the band's fourth album, Fore!, had reached #1 and had spawned three Top 10 hits including the #1 "Jacob's Ladder." As a follow-up to that third single, this fourth one got issued out. Prior to the tune getting an official single release, it had already garnered enough airplay at Rock to reach #25 on that chart in late September of '86. After the single came out, the song became the band's ninth consecutive Pop Top 10 hit (tenth overall). It also got to #30 at AC. Like the their previous #3 hit from the LP "Hip to Be Square," this tune featured background vocals by members of the San Francisco 49ers football team. The song helped sell more albums and a little over a year later, it would be certified at triple platinum.

ReduxReview:  I really wasn't connecting with the band at the time and had been ignoring them, although that was a bit difficult to do with their songs all over the radio. However, in retrospect I perhaps didn't give a fare shake to a couple of their tunes from Fore! . This was one of them. It was more in-line with the rock side of the band that I preferred over their retro old school pop/R&B stuff. The song is good, the band is crankin', and the chorus is solid. This tune and "Jacob's Ladder" were easily the two best tracks on the LP. It's also one in their catalog that doesn't get played much anymore.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Besides being a best-selling album, Fore! also had a pop culture moment later in 2000. In 1991, author Bret Easton Ellis published his controversial book American Psycho, which centered on a serial killer character named Patrick Bateman. The graphic book had its share of detractors, but it ended up being a best-seller that many critics liked. In the book, Bateman basically gives critiques on albums by Phil Collins and Whitney Houston. Nearly a decade later, the book was adapted into a film starring Christian Bale. Like the book, the film used several music references, which included the use of "Sussudio" by Phil Collins. The filmmakers also wanted to use "Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston, but were denied the rights (they used an instrumental version instead). Yet instead of dissecting the discographies of those two artists, the movie version of Bateman waxes poetically on the career of Huey Lewis & the News. In particular, the album Fore!, which Bateman says is the band's "most accomplished album." After his speech, Bateman then kills another character (played by Jared Leto) while the song "Hip to Be Square" plays on his stereo. It became one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. The song was cleared for use in the film, but someone dropped the ball and didn't get the rights to include it on the film's soundtrack album. The LP initially got released with the track, but then was pulled and reprinted after the rights issue was discovered. Later in 2013, the book/film was adapted into a stage musical (with original music/lyrics by Duncan Shiek). It premiered in London and was then taken to Broadway in 2016. The musical included the Bateman character and his victim performing "Hip to Be Square." Also in 2013 for the sketch channel Funny or Die, Lewis parodied the "Hip to Be Square" scene from the movie with "Weird Al" Yankovic.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, March 26, 2020

"Day-In Day-Out" by David Bowie

Song#:  3084
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  72
Peak:  21
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  After Bowie's 1983 album Let's Dance became a #4 platinum seller, there was pressure on him to deliver another commercial-leaning hit. The following year he put out Tonight and although it wasn't as well-received, it would still reach #11 and go platinum. For his next LP, Bowie wanted to nix the forced commercialism and return to his rock roots. His idea was to create an album that would be the basis for a large-scale tour. With producer David Richards, Bowie crafted his seventeenth studio album Never Let Me Down. This first single was released and it was a hit at Rock getting to #3. Remixes of the song got folks moving in the clubs and the tune reached #10 on the Dance chart. It didn't do quite as well at Pop where the single just stopped shy of the Top 20. That result combined with a lack of critical support kept the album from going any further than #34. Still, it would end up being a gold seller.

ReduxReview:  The Never Let Me Down album was much maligned at the time. Critics really tore it to shreds. I sometimes find that the albums that critics love from a specific artist I don't like while the ones they hate I gravitate towards. This was one of those albums. I loved it at the time and played it a lot. Yes most of the songs are clouded with way too much production making them sound muddy, but I was mainly drawn in by the songs. Bowie even said later in retrospect that he didn't like the album mainly because of the production and arrangements, but he did like several of the actual songs. The material was there, it just wasn't showcased in the best light. (In 2018, the album got a do-over that corrected a lot of the problems, but more on that in another post.) I especially loved the fake band/music biz/60s influenced "Zeroes" and the theatrics of "The Glass Spider." Elements of previous Bowie personas were all over the place including on this R&B styled jam that in another arrangement might have fit well on Bowie's 1975 Young Americans album. I really didn't know how this song would do on the chart when I first heard it, but it ended up doing better than I thought. I still like the Never Let Me Down album despite its flaws and consider it underrated in Bowie's catalog.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Bowie wrote this song as a sort of social commentary about the treatment of homeless folks in the US. For the accompanying video, Bowie worked with director Julian Temple to create a reflection of the song's lyrics. It follows a young homeless couple struggling to survive in the streets of L.A. The video contained a few moments that got censors a little riled up. An implied rape scene along with a kid spelling out a foul word and a guy peeing on Ronald Reagan's star on the Walk of Fame got it banned from some stations. The video was re-edited to appease some folks, but it still didn't get the same airtime as videos from other superstars.  2) After the album's released, Bowie launched his theatrical Glass Spider tour. The name and inspiration for the tour's theme came from one of the songs on the LP. It was a high concept production that featured one of the largest stage sets ever done for a music concert. Also on board was Peter Frampton, who played guitar and did background vocals. While audiences flocked to the show and loved it, critics panned it calling it pretentious and overblown. In the end, the tour was highly successful bring in over $86 million. Decades later, critics who revisited the show were more favorable and praised many aspects of it.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

"Lessons in Love" by Level 42

Song#:  3083
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  31
Peak:  12
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Synthpop, Sophisti-Pop



Pop Bits:  This UK band broke through in the US in the spring of '86 with their #7 single "Something About You." The hit would help their album World Machine get to #18. Both the single and the album had been hits in the UK the previous year, so while the US was catching up the band recorded and issued out this song in the UK to keep interesting in the band going. It ended up being a major hit reaching #3. They would then continue to work in the studio to come up with their follow-up album, Running in the Family. By the time it was ready, a second single from the LP would be issued in the UK while this song would be the first one released in the US. The tune did well reaching #12 at both Pop and Dance. On a worldwide scale, the song would be the band's biggest hit reaching #1 in several countries. The album would also be their biggest worldwide seller. In the UK it would reach #2 and eventually spawn four Top 10 singles. The album wouldn't be as popular in the US, but it was able to reach #23.

ReduxReview:  This has a nice, easy, groovy feel along the lines of "Something About You," but it  doesn't have the same memorable hooks as that song. The chorus here is more subtle with just the title of the song standing out. It kind of meanders in the mid-section as well. Europeans went koo-koo for the track and it is probably still a very well-known song there. In the US, this tune kind of disappeared after it's initial run while "Something About You" maintained some popularity over the years. I prefer that song as well. This one just doesn't stay in my mind for long.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written and co-produced by Wally Badarou. Born in France, Badarou became a prolific session keyboard player in England. In addition to co-writing and producing for Level 42, he also would play keyboards and do backing vocals. He worked with the band on nearly all of their albums with his production skills utilized on five of their LPs beginning with World Machine. His relationship with Level 42 most likely began in the late 70s when Badarou worked with British musician Robin Scott, who was better known under the pseudonym of M. Badarou played the keyboard parts for M's debut album, 1979's New York-London-Paris-Munich, which included the #1 US Pop/#2 UK hit "Pop Muzik." Also playing on that album was drummer Phil Gould. Badarou and Gould would also perform on M's follow up, 1980's The Official Secrets Act. That LP also featured Mark King on guitar. Not long after, King and Gould, and Gould would begin to form Level 42. Badarou would help the new band out beginning with their 1981 debut LP, but would never officially become a member.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush

Song#:  3082
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  72
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Gabriel was at a career peak with his album So. Three singles had already hit the Pop Top 40 including the #1 "Sledgehammer" and the #8 "Big Time." To follow up the latter tune, this next single was issued out. The duet had already been a hit in the UK reaching #9, but it couldn't get anywhere in the US. It stumbled after a few weeks and fell of the chart. By the summer of '87, the album would be a double-platinum seller. Just over a decade after it was released, the LP would reach the five-million mark.

ReduxReview:  This is a beautiful and inspirational song. Gabriel and Bush were much bigger stars in the UK than the US so I'm not surprised this was a hit at home for them. It was like a major superstar duet. Although Gabriel had broken through in the US with his two previous Top 10's, Bush was still a mystery to most Americans, so the duet didn't have the same allure. It also wasn't the most pop radio-friendly track. I figured that it wasn't going to get anywhere on the chart. Regardless, it was one of the highlights from the LP and Bush's haunting voice was an inspired add.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Photographer Dorothea Lange captured some of the most striking and memorable images from the days of the US depression and the Dust Bowl. It was her photos that served as inspiration for this song. Gabriel wanted to make the song a duet with a US country singer whose roots would be reflective of the song's message. His ideal partner was Dolly Parton, but she ended up turning down the offer. He then turned to his friend Kate Bush and she accepted.  Several artists have covered this song over the years. Due to the lyrics, it has become a bit of a go-to charity song and most remakes have been recorded as benefit singles. In 2005, Alicia Keys and U2's Bono did a version to benefit the charity Keep a Child Alive. The tune was retitled "Don't Give Up (Africa)" and it got to #79 on the Pop chart. Australian singers Shannon Noll and Natalie Bassingwaighte hit #1 in their home country with a version that benefited Beyond Blue, an organization that addresses depression, suicide, and other mental disorders. Besides charity singles, other artists have recorded the duet including versions by Willie Nelson and SinĂ©ad O'Connor, P!nk and John Legend, and even Gabriel himself with two different partners. He performed the song on tour with Paula Cole, which ended up on his 1994 Secret World Live album. Then he did the tune with Norwegian singer Ane Brun for his 2011 LP New Blood, which featured Gabriel remaking his older songs in new orchestral arrangements.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, March 23, 2020

"Baby Grand" by Billy Joel with Ray Charles

Song#:  3081
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  75
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Blues



Pop Bits:  Joel's album The Bridge would be a double-platinum seller thanks to a pair of Top 10s. A third single would only reach the Top 20. By that point it seemed like the LP was losing steam and its run ready to be wrapped up. Still, the label decided to push out one more single before calling it a day. This duet track was selected and it was a good fit for AC where it reached #3. The more old-fashioned tune couldn't find its footing at Pop and it faltered and fell off after a few weeks. No further singles would be released from the album. It would be two and a half years before Joel would be back on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Joel's musical hero was Ray Charles. He even named his kid after Charles - Alexa Ray. So when he got the chance to have Charles guest on one of his recordings, Joel crafted this tune to sound like one of Charles' old songs. He even affected a vocal style to match that of Charles' so that they would meld well together. It was all lovingly done and it was probably a thrill for Joel to work with Charles. That's all great, but in the end the song was a bit of a snoozer. It was just too laid back. If it had a better arrangement that gave the song a boost it might have been better. Charles sounded good. Joel sounded...well...interesting. I appreciate what Joel was going for here, but in the end it just lacked spark.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The last time Ray Charles was on the Pop chart was in 1975. His version of Stevie Wonder's 1973 #1 R&B/#8 Pop hit "Living for the City" would get to #22 R&B and #91 Pop. It wasn't a major hit, but it did earn Charles a Grammy award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. Although Charles was not active on the Pop and R&B charts for most of the 80s, that doesn't mean he wasn't having hits. They were just at a different format. From '83 to '87, Charles placed eleven singles on the Country chart. His biggest hits came from his duets album Friendship, which was released in 1984. That album made it to #1 on the Country chart thanks to five Top 20 hits including the #1 "Seven Spanish Angels," a duet with Willie Nelson.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, March 22, 2020

"Songbird" by Kenny G

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3080
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  95
Peak:  4
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Smooth Jazz, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Kenny Gorelick started to play sax at the age of ten. By the time he was seventeen, he was already a pro player working with Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. At the beginning of the 80s, Gorelick became a member of the Jeff Lorber Fusion and recorded two albums with them for Arista Records. Lorber saw potential in Gorelick and recommended him to Arista label head Clive Davis, who decided to take a chance on the young musician. Rechristened Kenny G, the sax player recorded a self-titled debut album in 1982. Although it wasn't a huge seller, it did well enough to reach #10 on the Jazz chart. It led to a second album, G Force, that expanded Kenny G's sound to include shades of R&B, courtesy of producer/artist Kashif. A single from the LP, "Hi, How Ya Doin'?," sung by Barry Johnson, got to #23 at R&B. Kenny G's next album, Gravity, following along the same lines and produced the #24 R&B track "Love on the Rise," with Kashif on vocals. Both albums ended up on the Pop and R&B charts. Kenny G was doing well, but no one expected the massive success of his fourth album Duotones.  This single from the album, an instrumental written by Kenny G, became a surprise mainstream hit that got to #23 R&B, #3 AC, and #4 Pop. Folks then began to buy the album and it would end up reaching #6 Pop, #8 R&B, and #5 Jazz. By the end of the year, it would be a double platinum seller. Eventually it would sell over five million copies.

ReduxReview:  With smooth jazz on the rise, Clive Davis took advantage of it and tried to push a few artists towards the mainstream by combining their lite-jazz sounds with slick R&B and incorporating vocals. He did that with Jeff Lorber and it kind of worked with his "Facts of Love" getting to #17 R&B/#27 Pop. Kenny G came next. However, the difference between Lorber and Kenny G was that Lorber didn't like doing it and basically took off. Kenny G bought into it and wanted to be a star. He succeeded on a level that probably even Davis hadn't imagined. These days, Kenny G is often the butt of jokes, but truth be told he is an excellent musician and a smart businessman. I even bought into this single back then. It was just unusual for pop radio and the tune was lovely and memorable. While dated now, the 80s production on it certainly gave it a current, mainstream sheen. His formula wore on me quickly and I didn't become a fan, but I will say that this was the right single at the right time and it was a well-deserved hit. For everyone who dislikes Kenny G, you can blame this song and everyone who bought it - including me. We all unleashed the Krusty the Clown-haired soprano sax monster on y'all.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although this was the song that broke Kenny G to the masses, it was not the first single from the album. It was actually the third single released. The first one to be issued out was "Don't Make Me Wait for Love," which featured Lenny Williams on vocals. On initial release, it would only get to #77 at R&B (it would later be reissued to bigger success following "Songbird"). The second single released was "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)," a remake of the 1969 #1 R&B/#4 Pop hit by Jr. Walker & the All Stars. Ellis Hall handled the vocal part for the Kenny G version. That single would do much better hitting #15 at R&B. At the time it was Kenny G's most successful single. It is most likely thanks to that hit that Arista decided to take a chance on "Songbird" as a follow-up. It was a very wise choice.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, March 21, 2020

"I'm No Angel" by Gregg Allman

Song#:  3079
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  49
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman amassed three platinum and three gold studio albums. Their biggest hit came in 1973 with the #2 "Ramblin' Man." Over the years the band was plagued by internal struggles along with drug and alcohol abuse. There were deaths along the way including Gregg's brother and bandmate Duane who died in a motorcycle crash in 1971. The band would break up and reform several times over the years but they persevered and in 1995 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On occasion, Gregg would record solo albums. His first came with 1973's Laid Back, which was a gold seller thanks to the #19 hit "Midnight Rider." He released another less successful effort in 1977 and that same year he also pushed out a misguided duet album with his then-wife Cher. It would be a decade before Allman would issue out another solo effort. He signed with Epic Records and recorded his third solo disc I'm No Angel. This title track single would be released and it became a surprise hit at Rock reaching #1. That success spilled over to Pop and the song would just crack the Top 50. Two other songs from the LP would make the Rock chart and that helped it reach #30 and go gold. Allman would release a few more solo albums over the years including 2011's Low Country Blues, which reached #5. Allman would recover from his addictions in the mid-90s, but the usage took a toll on him and he ended up having a lot of health issues. He succumbed to liver cancer in 2017.

ReduxReview:  I'm not the biggest fan of Southern rock and I especially don't care for jam bands. The Allman Brothers were both, so I definitely didn't hook into them even though, thanks to classic rock radio, I knew and liked a few of their songs. I certainly didn't care for Gregg Allman, especially when he married one of my idols, Cher. What the hell was she thinking marrying that drugged-out hippie? It was all so weird - and yet so very Cher. I had zero interest in Gregg Allman before, during or after Cher, but then along came this song. I so hated to admit it, but I liked the dang tune. Allman gave the pop tune a little Southern rock flare and it was probably the most commercial leaning thing he had ever recorded. He even sounded really good. While it didn't make me a fan of Allman, I did enjoy the track and the album was a pretty good stab at 80s commercial rock.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While Allman was a songwriter who wrote some of the Allman Brothers' most famous tracks, he did not write this one. In fact, it is a remake. Written by Tony Colton and Phil Palmer, it was originally recorded by Bill Medley for his 1982 Richard Perry-produced solo album Right Here and Now. The song was not issued out as a single. Somehow, Allman discovered the tune and recorded a demo of it in the mid-80s. It was that demo that got him signed to Epic for a new solo album. Also on the album was a track by a future music superstar. Michael Bolton co-wrote "Can't Keep Running" with Martin Briley. Unlike some songs Bolton wrote early in his career for other artists, it seems he has never done a released version of the song himself. Same for Briley. Also of note, TV star Don Johnson supplied vocals for the track "Evidence of Love." He was friends with Allman and fellow Allman Brother bandmate Dickey Betts. Johnson had even co-written a tune that appeared on the Alllman Brothers' 1979 album Enlightened Rogues.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, March 20, 2020

"One Simple Thing" by The Stabilizers

Spotlight Alert!

Song#:  3078
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  93
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This band from Erie, Pennsylvania, mainly consisted of lead singer Dave Christenson and guitarist/keyboardist Rich Nevens. The pair met up in 1984 after their respective previous bands had broken up. They hit it off musically and began working on songs. A couple of tunes they had recorded as demos made the local airwaves and became popular. They then hired in some side musicians and began to play the clubs. A friend of theirs hawked their tape to labels in New York and it caught the ear of Denny Diante, a producer at CBS Records. Diante caught one of the band's shows and liked what he saw. Christenson and Nevens eventually got signed to CBS and work began on a debut album titled Tyranny with Diante producing. The title track served as the first single, but it got nowhere. However, this second single made some waves and it picked up enough airplay to reach #21 on the Rock chart. The song was then able to cross over to Pop, but it could only manage a few short weeks near the bottom of the chart. Further singles didn't do anything and the album failed to chart. When CBS was scooped up by Sony, the duo got released from their contract and moved over to MCA Records. They recorded an album that was to be titled "Teasing Enrico," but after the LP was finished, changes at the label left the LP shelved and the band without a contract. Only one track saw the light of day. "Maybe This Time" ended up on the soundtrack to the 1991 Richard Grieco action-comedy flick If Looks Could Kill. The duo dissolved not long after their association with MCA ended. Sadly, Christenson died in 2017 from lung cancer.

ReduxReview:  I really don't know how I found this song. It was a low charter and I doubt I heard it on a local radio station. My guess is that I might have caught the video (directed by David Fincher before his movie career kicked in) on MTV. Somehow somewhere this song made an impression on me and I bought the single. I just loved it. The production was meaty, Christenson's vocal take was excellent, and the chorus was just explosive. It was always one of my favorite lost tunes from the decade. I still can't believe this wasn't a hit. Top 40 at minimum. I just wonder if it didn't get the push it deserved by CBS. After one failed single, they probably didn't put their best effort towards this one even though it was getting attention on Rock radio. While the balance of their album doesn't necessarily reach the levels of this track, it was a good LP with some worthwhile moments. I have to spotlight this song because it is a lost gem from the time.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The band got its name from a previous band that Rich Nevens had been in. During his college years at Penn State, Nevens was in a band called The Stabilizers. That band was able to record and issue out an indie self-titled debut in 1982. The band broke up when Nevens graduated and moved to Erie for a job. It was while he was in Erie that he met and began hanging out with Dave Christenson. When the pair decided to form a band, Nevens was able to reuse his former band's name.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, March 19, 2020

"Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3077
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  52
Peak:  5
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  The last time Fleetwood Mac was on the Pop chart was 1982, the year they released their LP Mirage. A hiatus would follow that saw most band members pursuing solo projects. The break lasted so long that Stevie Nicks would record two solo discs. Lindsey Buckingham had released his second solo effort in 1984 and the following year was back in the studio working on more solo material including a song for the soundtrack to the hit film Back to the Future. Around the same time the rest of the Mac started to reconvene and it wasn't long before work began on a new Mac album. Buckingham tried to juggle recording a solo disc and a Mac album at the same time, but eventually he had to let the solo work go in order to concentrate on creating Mac's new album, Tango in the Night. The sessions lasted a grueling eighteen months and it all took a toll on the band. When the LP was finally finished, this first single was issued out. It became a multi-chart hit reaching #2 Rock, #5 Pop, #7 Dance, and #23 AC. The album would be their fifth Top 10 reaching #7.

ReduxReview:  I remember when this song came out and how strange and almost exotic it was. I loved the rolling drums, the big chorus, and the build up to the end. At the time it was quite different and sounded technologically advanced. It put Fleetwood Mac in the future. It certainly wasn't "Go Your Own Way" or "Don't Stop." Apparently this was originally meant for Buckingham's solo disc and it certainly sounds like his own effort rather than one by the band. It would have been interesting to see how this single would have done if recorded and released as a Buckingham solo track. Would it have gone Top 10?  I'd like to think so, but doing it under the Fleetwood Mac name where they are returning from a six-year absence certainly helped it along. I thought it was a really cool track and it prompted me to buy the album. It is still a great track although it doesn't sound quite as adventurous now as it did at the time.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Lindsey Buckingham was a fan of new recording technology and he put it to good use on his Go Insane solo album and then again with Tango in the Night. "Big Love" was certainly a song that pushed Fleetwood Mac into the future. During sections of the song, "uh/ah" vocal grunts are heard by what sounded like a male with a female answering. Many folks thought the female response voice belonged to Stevie Nicks, yet it wasn't. Both voices were actually Buckingham. Using studio trickery, Buckingham altered his voice to make it sound like a female. So he was just really "uh/ah"-ing himself.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

"Heat of the Night" by Bryan Adams

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3076
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  54
Peak:  6
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Adams' fourth album, Reckless, was a major hit reaching #1 and spawning three Top 10 singles along with three other Top 20s. It would eventually sell over five million copies in the US alone. After everything for the album was wrapped up, Adams and his writing partner Jim Vallance went back into the studio to start on a follow-up. They collaborated on all ten tracks that made up Adams' fifth effort Into the Fire. This first single got things kicked off and it did well reaching #2 at Rock while becoming his fifth Pop Top 10. The hit would help the LP reach #7. Adams was very lucky with Reckless in that it had long legs with six singles doing well. Only time would tell if Into the Fire had similar legs. (Spoiler alert - it didn't.)

ReduxReview:  I liked Adams and enjoyed Restless, so I was looking forward to the new album. Unfortunately, my interest in Adams quickly faded when this song came out. It wasn't in the same commercial-friendly rock league as his hits from Restless. It wasn't as catchy or memorable either. I didn't connect with it and was quite surprised it made the Pop Top 10. I'm sure his popularity at the time helped it along. I appreciated that Adams was trying to stretch beyond the walls of radio ready rock, but he needed something far stronger than this to maintain the audience he gained with Restless.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Cassettes of albums had been around for a long while, but at the beginning of the 80s, vinyl was still king. That applied to singles as well, but in 1982, IRS Records thought that with the market for cassettes growing, that a cassette version of a single might be of interest. They called their version a "cassingle" and pushed out the first commercially available product in the US in 1982 with The Go-Go's hit "Vacation." The format didn't take off. RCA gave it a whirl too, but it seemed buyers were not ready for a cassette single. As the 80s wore on, the demand for vinyl singles was quickly tanking. Sony's mini cassette player, the Walkman, quickly became the go-to item for playing music and cassette album sales began to boom. As 1987 came along, the record companies decided to get together and see if the cassette single would now be a more viable product, especially with the demise of the vinyl single. The first cassette single released in this renewed effort was this Bryan Adams song. Others would follow and the market responded favorably. While cassette singles would never attain the same level of sales that vinyl singles previously had, they remained popular throughout the remainder of the 80s and into the 90s. But like other formats, they would be phased out, along with cassette albums, with the advent of CDs.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

"Se La" by Lionel Richie

Song#:  3075
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  72
Peak:  20
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Reggae



Pop Bits:  Richie's album Dancing on the Ceiling had already generated four Top 10 hits by this point. A fifth song, "Deep River Woman," was a b-side that ended up making the Pop chart at #71 and ended Richie's streak of thirteen consecutive Top 10s. Since that tune wasn't officially meant to be a Pop chart contender, the label then went ahead with releasing another single to wrap up the run of the album. This track was selected and it did fairly well getting to #5 AC and #12 R&B while just barely cracking the Pop Top 20. Not only would it be the last single released from the album, but it would be Richie's final one to reach the charts in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  I always thought Dancing on the Ceiling was just a mishmash of styles (Pop, AC, R&B, Country, etc.), which made it odd and inconsistent. For this song, Richie attempted to write a reggae tune. It didn't work for me. It sounded like a straight-laced artist imitating a genre/style that wasn't in their wheelhouse. Richie even affects some kind of accent too, which is bizarre. Not only was I surprised that this was released as a single, I was also a little shocked that it did as well as it did on the charts. I'm sure his popularity at the time was a big factor and got him some extra airplay. This is certainly one of his hits that has been long forgotten. And for good reason as it wasn't even close to being in the same league as his top-notch hits.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  After wrapping up the tour and promotional stuff for the Dancing on the Ceiling album, Richie decided to take a break. He had been constantly working for years as a solo artist and as a member of The Commodores and the rigors of his superstar schedule finally took a toll. In addition to needing some time away, Richie's father was in failing health and Richie wanted to help take care of him. During this time his marriage was on the verge of imploding due to his affair with another woman (whom he would eventually marry in 1996). All of that along with the changes in musical tastes at the time played into Richie's decision to step away from the music biz. He wouldn't return with any new material until 1992 when his first hits compilation, Back to Front, was released. It featured three new songs including "Do It to Me," which was pushed out as a single. It got to #1 at R&B and #3 AC, but stalled at #21 on the Pop chart. He fully returned with a new album, Louder than Words, in 1996. It contained his last Pop Top 40 entry "Don't Wanna Lose You" (#39 Pop/#17 R&B/#5 AC). Since then his recording career has been up and down. One of the major highlights came in 2012 when he released the album Tuskegee. The LP had Richie remaking several of his hits in duet form with country artists like Shania Twain, Rascal Flats, and Darius Rucker. It was an unexpected hit reaching #1 on the Pop and Country charts. It would also be his first platinum studio LP since Dancing on the Ceiling.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, March 16, 2020

"Get That Love" by Thompson Twins

Song#:  3074
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  78
Peak:  31
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  This trio was whittled down to the duo of Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie following the departure of Joe Leeway earlier in '86. The pair's first effort was a one-off title track single (#54 Pop) done for the Tom Hanks flick Nothing in Common and it was expected that a new album would quickly follow. But behind the scenes, Currie had suffered through a couple of personal tragedies and the pair decided that a break was in order. After some time away, they regrouped and began to write songs for a new album, which would be the Twins' first as a duo. Working with producer Rupert Hine, they came up with their sixth studio album Closer to the Bone. This first single was issued out and while it almost cracked the Pop Top 30, it didn't perform nearly as well as the first singles from their previous two LPs, both of which were Top 10 hits. In turn, the album stalled at a minor #76.

ReduxReview:  With the new album it seemed the Twins were moving away from their catchy, quirky new wave synthpop and trying to do something a bit more mature and current. Hine was a good choice for a producer and he gave the LP a nice, glossy pop sheen. Elements of the Twins' writing was still apparent, but the problem was that they didn't come up with a couple of hooky, memorable tracks that could be real single contenders. This one was the best bet, yet it wasn't nearly as fun or as memorable as their previous hits.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After the somewhat tepid reception of Close to the Bone, the Twins decided to leave their home label of Arista and move to Warner Bros. However, before making the move it seemed like they owed Arista one more LP and a compilation of remixes of their hits was assembled. The Best of Thompson Twins: Greatest Mixes was issued out in the summer of '88. To promote the album, a new remix of their 1982 song "In the Name of Love" (#1 Dance) was put together by Shep Pettibone. It was released as a single with the altered title of "In the Name of Love '88." It ended up replicating the success of the original by hitting #1 on the Dance chart. And also like the original, it failed to reach the Pop chart. In the UK, the original single got to #79 while the new remix made it to #46.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, March 15, 2020

"Always" by Atlantic Starr

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3073
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  79
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  This band's first five albums did well thanks to several hits on the R&B chart. Their 1982 album Brilliance was even a gold seller. However, success on the Pop chart eluded them. They finally broke through with the #3 hit (#4 R&B/#1 AC) "Secret Lovers," which was from their sixth LP As the Band Turns. It helped secure them a second gold album. With their profile significantly raised, the band got back in the studio to record their seventh album All in the Name of Love. For its first single, this ballad was selected. It ended up being the right choice with the song hitting #1 at Pop, R&B and AC. The mainstream appeal of the tune helped the album sell and it would become their first platinum disc reaching #4 R&B and #18 Pop.

ReduxReview:  You can practically hear the saccharine sap oozing out of this confection. Whether it was written to be a wedding/prom staple or not, it was certainly crafted to be one of those gooey love songs that would appeal to a very broad audience. The melody is easy to sing along with while the lyrics hit all the typical romantic phrases. The arrangement is simple and breezy with unadorned vocals that keep things easy and pleasant. They actually sound like a moon-eyed couple professing their undying love...for always. I'm not the biggest fan of sap like this, but I will say that this one was well-crafted and it was an excellent move for the band capitalizing on the success of "Secret Lovers."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For the As the Band Turns and All in the Name of Love albums, Barbara Weathers served as the lead female vocalist. Following the success of the LPs, Weathers decided to leave Atlantic Starr and try for a solo career. It took her a couple of years to get a contract, but she finally signed on with Reprise Records and then released a self-titled debut album in 1990. It was modestly successful reaching #79 R&B and spawning the #13 R&B single "The Master Key." However, it seems the results weren't what Reprise was looking for and Weathers didn't get the opportunity to record a follow up.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, March 14, 2020

"The Secret of My Success" by Night Ranger

Song#:  3072
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  86
Peak:  64
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Night Ranger had been on a roll with two platinum albums and five consecutive Top 20 hits that included two Top 10s. Along the way, a few of their songs were selected to appear on movie soundtracks, but most of those were previously released tracks. Following the success of their third LP 7 Wishes, the band got a chance to write and record the theme song to a new high-profile comedy titled The Secret to My Success starring Michael J. Fox. Apparently Fox was a fan of the band and had requested their participation. Producer David Foster was in charge of the film's music and the band began to work with him on the title track song. The timing was perfect as the band was finishing up their fourth LP Big Life. The completed theme song would then serve as the first single from that album as well as the soundtrack. The song did well at Rock reaching #12. Yet despite a good push from MTV on the song's video and the box office success of the film, the tune could only manage a couple of months in the bottom half of the Pop chart. With little to promote it, the soundtrack album stalled at a low #131. Night Ranger's album fared far better thanks to their popularity, but it stopped at #28 and only went gold, which was a drop from their previous platinum LPs. On the bright side, the song did get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.

ReduxReview:  Sadly, I think this song doomed Night Ranger. Although a rock band at heart, they had carved a spot for themselves on the chart doing big ballads and mid-tempo pop/rock tracks in the Journey/Survivor vein. Their tunes were well-written and catchy without being flashy. They could have easily surfed on that wave for a couple more albums and maybe grabbed some hits, but instead they took a chance on working with Foster for this song. I probably would have too, but the pairing was just not right. The tune itself was a bit of a mess with awkward transitions and the film's title being shoved in a weak chorus. Then on top of that was the bombastic kitchen sink production from Foster. This was obviously an attempt to try and recreate John Parr's soundtrack hit "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)," also co-written and produced by Foster, and it didn't work. Night Ranger got totally lost in the cacophony of it all and in the end it just looked like they were desperately reaching for a mainstream commercial hit. It seemed to turn off more people than it drew in and it halted their winning streak big time. It all went downhill so quickly after this that they just couldn't recover. I can't blame them for taking a chance on this tune and Foster, but it it turned out to be a costly experiment.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Michael J. Fox was a hot box office commodity at the time thanks to the hits Back to the Future and Teen Wolf. Even his dramatic turn in the music film Light of Day didn't do too bad. But comedy was his bread 'n' butter and only two months after the release of Light of Day his next big flick The Secret of My Success came out. Despite very mixed critical reviews, the film was a hit spending five weeks as the #1 box office draw and finishing as the seventh biggest grossing movie of 1987. However, the film's success didn't do much to boost Night Ranger's song or the soundtrack album.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, March 13, 2020

"Just to See Her" by Smokey Robinson

Top 10 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3071
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  8
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Robinson had a solo career peak moment in 1981 when his album Being with You went gold thanks to the #1 R&B/#2 Pop title track hit, which was also a gold seller. His follow-up albums were less successful as were his singles with only two songs making the R&B Top 10. It probably didn't help that at the time he was struggling with an addiction and in the process of divorcing his wife. It was a dark period for the legend. He started to get his life back in order in '86 and with a new outlook he headed back into the studio to record his sixteenth solo studio effort One Heartbeat. This first single was issued out and it was welcomed with open arms. The tune became a major hit reaching #1 at AC, #2 at R&B, and #8 Pop. In turn, the album would get to #1 R&B and #26 Pop. Eventually it would become the second gold album of his solo career.

ReduxReview:  This was just the perfect tune to get Robinson back in the marketplace. It fit him like a glove. Not since "Being with You" had he sounded so lively and engaged. The song itself was wonderfully written and with the exception of the keyboard solo, the production had a timeless quality. It was one of those songs that just filled you with a pleasant feeling. There was just no doubt that this was going to be a hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song earned Robinson his first Grammy award. He won for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. The song received a nod for Best R&B Song for its writers Jimmy George and Lou Pardini. Prior to this, Robinson had two nominations to his credit. One for his 1979 solo performance of "Crusin'" and one with The Miracles for their 1967 hit "I Second That Emotion." Robinson would grab three more nominations over the years. He would also be honored with two more non-competitive Grammys, the Grammy Legends award and the Lifetime Achievement award.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, March 12, 2020

"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon

Song#:  3070
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  23
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, World



Pop Bits:  On the evening of February 24, 1987, Simon's Graceland won the Album of the Year honors at the Grammy awards ceremony. At that time, the third single from the album, "The Boy in the Bubble" was struggling at the bottom of the Pop chart. Luckily, this song, which had already been released as the LP's first single, started to regain some attention thanks to all the Grammy hoopla. It was enough to get the song back on the chart again. The single began a second run and boosted by the Grammy win and the popular video featuring Chevy Chase, it ended up doing better than its first run nearly cracking the Pop Top 20. The combined runs resulted in the song staying on the Pop chart for a total of twenty-nine weeks. The album rebounded to a new peak of #3 as well.

ReduxReview:  There's nothing I can add here that I didn't already cover in my original assessment of the song.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The song was considered a "Re-Entry" on the chart and not a new entry mainly because the original product was still available for sale. Therefore, most chart info sites/books will show a single stat for this song as twenty-nine weeks on the chart and peaking at #23. Had the single been reprinted with changes, say a new b-side or a new remixed version, then it would have been a different product and would have been considered a new entry. In this new digital age now, it is different. Most any song in its original charting version can re-enter the Pop chart since there is actually no physical singles available any longer. That's why you will see every December an influx of old holiday songs re-entering the chart. It also happens when a superstar artist passes away. A song can now come-n-go on the chart pretty much whenever its popularity soars via streaming and social media.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

"Dancin' with My Mirror" by Corey Hart

Song#:  3069
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  88
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Hart's first two albums each generated a Top 10 hit. His third album, Fields of Fire, had yet to achieve that after two attempts. Both singles would only make the Top 30 with "I Am By Your Side" doing the best at #18. Still in search of a better result, this third single was pushed out. Unfortunately, it was pretty much a non-starter spending a few minor weeks at the bottom of the Pop chart. Yet the two Top 30 singles generated enough interest in the album to make it go gold. It would be his last album to reach that sales level in the US.

ReduxReview:  This urgent, rock-leaning track was certainly different from the two ballads he had released from the album. It was more in-line with the synth rock/new wave sounds from his second album Boy in the Box. The tune also had a Rick Springfield feel. It wasn't too bad of a song, but it just wasn't right for the US pop audience. It was neither as hooky or fun as his #7 hit "Sunglasses At Night" and it didn't have the mainstream appeal of his big ballads. It was fine for an album track, but it wasn't going to get anywhere on the chart.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In his homeland of Canada, Hart's Fields of Fire album would generate five Top 40 entries including a #1 and another Top 10. When the singles were exhausted from that album, a one-off single was released in Canada titled "Too Good to Be Enough." It was kind of a promotional item with the single being packaged in a folded up poster. The song would get to #24 on the Canadian chart. There is a story that this song was originally supposed to be used for the soundtrack to the 1987 Eddie Murphy sequel Beverly Hills Cop II. Hart had fielded other offers to appear on soundtracks, but had previously balked because they wanted him to sing another composer's song and he preferred to sing his own tunes. It seems he finally decided to get involved in soundtracks when an opportunity for Beverly Hills Cop II came his way. Yet somehow this song (if indeed he did intend if for the film) was set aside and Hart was talked into recording a song called "Hold On" written by James Wirrick. Oddly, that song had already been recorded by another artist for use in the film. San Francisco singer Keta Bill originally recorded "Hold On" and her version was used in the Playboy Mansion scene of the movie. However, due to legal or other issues, her take would not be included on the soundtrack album and instead a new version of the song (nearly all rewritten) by Hart would be. Hart's take can briefly be heard in the film - just enough to get listed in the film's credits and to make it a valid as a part of the soundtrack album.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"Living in a Dream" by Pseudo Echo

Song#:  3068
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  57
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Synth Rock, New Wave



Pop Bits:  Formed by a couple of high school friends, this Australian band got a break when a demo recording of a song they did was featured on the popular music TV program Countdown. The buzz generated from it led to the band signing with EMI and a formal recording of their demo song "Listening" was released. It reached #4 on the Aussie chart. A full album titled Autumnal Park followed in the summer of '84 and reached #11. A second LP, Love an Adventure, came out in '85. It would be a platinum seller in Australia and spawn three Top 20 hits including a pair of Top 10s. With that success, it seemed like the right time to try and conquer other territories including the US. The Love an Adventure album was reconfigured for international release with RCA picking up the distribution for the US. This first single, which had hit #15 in Australia earlier in '86, was issued out. It got some minor attention reaching the Dance (#35), Rock (#44) and Pop (#57) charts. It didn't look too good for the band, but then a second single would boost their profile significantly.

ReduxReview:  This song strangely starts out like a ZZ Top track done by Duran Duran. I like the rock edge to it, but then it shifts into more of a dance-rock/new wave direction. It reminds me of fellow Aussie band The Models ("Out of Mind, Out of Sight," #37 Pop). I like the tune and it had enough hooks to make it memorable and a good single contender. It was just strange that this was selected as their first US single over their next one, a remake of "Funky Town," which had already hit #1 in Australia. Perhaps they wanted to try and establish their sound with an original rather than a cover tune. Whatever it was, it didn't work out. They were lucky that their remake was strong enough to overcome this slow start.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Back when synth keyboards and other newfangled electronic music gadgets came out, many had various "voices" and effects installed on them. There were standard sounds like piano, organ, woodwinds, strings, bass, etc. along with wacky stuff like birds, clapping, and helicopter sounds. There were also effects that could be used on the sounds such as reverb. Apparently, this Aussie band liked the name of one of the effects that was on their equipment so much that they adopted it as their moniker - Pseudo Echo.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, March 9, 2020

"Battleship Chains" by Georgia Satellites

Song#:  3067
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  95
Peak:  86
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Southern Rock



Pop Bits:  This Atlanta band grabbed a surprise Top 10 hit with the #2 "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." The song was taken from their self-titled debut album that reached #5 and went platinum. For a follow up, this next track was selected. It did well at Rock reaching #11, but it couldn't find an audience at Pop and it stalled low on the chart. While not issued out as a single, the LP track "Railroad Steel" got enough airplay to reach #34 at Rock. The band would now have the difficult task of trying to follow up their successful debut.

ReduxReview:  This is another good rocker from the band that I liked, but it just didn't have that same groovy appeal as "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." That one was a sing-a-long crowd pleaser that had mainstream appeal. This one was a hooky country rock track that just wasn't quite as engaging. I thought it might have done a little better on the Pop chart, but I knew it wasn't going to be another major hit for them.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Terry Anderson for his North Carolina band The Woods. While that band would record the song for their 1987 debut LP, it seems that the Georgia Satellites picked up the tune and got it recorded and released first. Several artists would later cover this tune including an unexpected one by an R.E.M. offshoot project called Hindu Love Gods. In 1987, Warren Zevon got help from three-quarters of R.E.M. (Bill Berry, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck) in recording his album Sentimental Hygiene. During a session that turned into an all-nighter, Zevon and the R.E.M. trio recorded a bunch of cover tunes that were mainly blues standards. A couple of newer songs were tossed in including "Battleship Chains." The recordings weren't meant to be released, but in 1990 they were collected and issued out under the moniker of Hindu Love Gods. It didn't receive a lot of attention and stalled at #168 on the chart. This album wasn't the first recording released by the band. They had actually been performing on and off since 1984. On occasion, another musician, Bryan Cook, would also join in and with him the band recorded and released a single in 1986. The main song was, "Gonna Have a Good Time Tonight," a cover of The Easybeat's 1968 song "Good Times."

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, March 8, 2020

"You Keep Me Hangin' On" by Kim Wilde

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3066
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG



Pop Bits:  Wilde had a memorable hit in 1981 with the #25 "Kids in America," but then her follow-up efforts in the years following failed to chart with the lone exception of "Go for It" (#65), a track from her 1984 LP Teases & Dares. That album was her first to feature a few songs that she wrote (or co-wrote) and that gave her the confidence to dive in deeper for her next effort Another Step. Wilde would write/co-write eight of the album's twelve tracks, yet when it came time for a single, this cover tune was selected. The energetic track had already been a #2 hit in the UK by the time it debuted in the US. The song started out low on the chart, but steadily climbed until it hit the top spot. It would be Wilde's first and only US #1. It also got to #6 at Dance and #30 AC. The hit helped the album become her best effort in the US when it reached #40.

ReduxReview:  I really liked Wilde's Tease & Dares album, so I was looking forward to Another Step. When this song came out, I wasn't sure I liked it. The tune's synth pop combined with guitars was in line with her previous disc, but it turned a classic pleading Motown song full of emotion into something cold. It was like the soul was zapped from the tune. In turn, the album was not as good as I had hoped. While it had some highlights, it just didn't have that quirky Wilde family feel (her brother and father co-wrote and produced most of her previous albums). It felt like they were trying to rein it in and be more commercial. It worked in regards to this song, but it was a song familiar to many folks and the synthpop/dance spin helped to sell it. I just wasn't all that thrilled with it.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Supremes. Their 1966 version would become the trio's eighth to top the Pop chart and fifth to hit #1 at R&B. The classic Motown track, written by the incomparable Holland-Dozier-Holland team, would be covered by many artists over the years. In addition to The Supremes and Wilde, three other artists would reach the Pop chart with their versions. Psychedelic rock band Vanilla Fudge initially charted in '67 with the tune and it got to #67. But a reissue of the song the following year caught on and it topped out at #6. Soul singer Wilson Pickett's take got to #92 (#16 R&B) in 1969. Then in 1970, singer Jackie DeShannon used the song in a medley alongside "Hurts So Bad." That single got to #96.  2) This song is one of only nine to have reached #1 on the Pop chart by two different artists. Of those nine, three of them, including this tune, happened to accomplish the feat within months of each other. Bananarama's "Venus," a remake of Shocking Blue's 1970 #1, hit the top spot on September 6, 1986. Then Club Nouveau's "Lean on Me," a cover of the Bill Withers hit, reached #1 on March 21, 1987. Wilde's cover would get to the top on June 6, 1987, eight months after Bananarama's cover tune got to #1. This feat would not happen again until 1991 when Michael Bolton reached #1 with Percy Sledge's chart topper "When a Man Loves a Woman."

_________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, March 7, 2020

"La Isla Bonita" by Madonna

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3065
Date:  03/21/1987
Debut:  49
Peak:  4
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Latin Pop



Pop Bits:  By this point, Madonna's third album, True Blue, had generated four Top 10 hits, which matched the successful output from her previous LP Like a Virgin. The label could have called it a day and wrapped up the album's run, but this was Madonna, who liked to push boundaries. So they rolled the dice and issued out this fifth single. It ended up being a wise move. It became her second #1 at AC while extending her streak of consecutive Pop Top 10s to twelve. With other Madonna projects on the horizon, this tune ended the run of singles from True Blue. The LP had already been certified 4x platinum in February of '87. Eight years later, it would reach the 7x platinum mark. It currently remains her second biggest selling studio album of her career following the diamond (10+ million) Like a Virgin.

ReduxReview:  I admit that I did not hear this as a hit. I didn't think the Spanish influenced track would play well on Pop radio and I didn't think it was all that strong of a song. I was obviously wrong. I think what helped it along was that it was a mature outing with a different sound that attracted a wider audience. The AC audience and radio certainly gave this tune a boost and the associated MTV video proved to be another hit. In retrospect the tune sounds better to me now, but it still wouldn't rank alongside my favorite Madonna tracks.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was originally written by producer/composer Patrick Leonard. He had intended the song for Michael Jackson and had presented a version of it to the King of Pop. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Jackson didn't like the tune and rejected it. When Leonard began to work with Madonna on the True Blue album, he brought along the song. Madonna thought there was something there and she reworked it to her liking. Songwriter Bruce Gaitsch also lent a hand along the way and received a credit along with Madonna. Jackson's decline ended up giving Madonna another Top 10 hit.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, March 6, 2020

"With or Without You" by U2

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3064
Date:  03/21/1987
Debut:  64
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks: 18
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  Prior to this, U2 had been inching closer and closer to being worldwide stars. While they had success in many countries including the US where their fourth LP The Unforgettable Fire was a #12 platinum seller, they had yet to break through in a bigger way. That all changed when they released their fifth LP, The Joshua Tree. The band retained Unforgettable producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, but instead of the more loose and experimental tracks of that album, they chose to create tighter rock songs bathed in cinematic atmospherics. This first single certainly demonstrated the new approach and it was heartily greeted by listeners who made it the band's first worldwide smash hit. It would definitely be their breakthrough in the States where the song made it to #1 and stayed for three weeks. It also hit #1 at Rock and #23 AC. The album was an immediate success debuting in the Top 10 (a rare occurrence at the time) and then topped the chart for nine consecutive weeks. A year later, the LP would earn U2 two Grammys, one for Album of the Year and one for Best Rock Performance, Duo or Group. They quickly went from a solid selling, well-respected band to worldwide superstars.

ReduxReview:  Prior to this song and album, I liked U2 and owned a couple of their albums including War and The Unforgettable Fire. Plus an EP called Wide Awake in America that had a brilliant live version of the Fire track "Bad." I wasn't a huge fan yet, but I could tell that they were on to something. Then this song came out. I was bowled over. That quiet, atmospheric beginning signaled something special and it grew from there. By the time it hit the refrain and Bono started howling, I about lost my shit. It was like one of those musical religious experiences. I just thought it was one of the best songs I'd heard in ages. And although it got played to death, it was one song that I didn't tire of hearing. I still absolutely love it and I still get chills sometimes when I hear the beginning of the song. From this point on, I was a certified U2 FFL (fan for life).

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  The video for this song, co-directed by Meiert Avis and Matt Mahurin, was also a hit on MTV. The abstract-style video would go on to be nominated for seven MTV Music Video Awards including Video of the Year. That was the same year that Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" dominated with ten nominations. Gabriel's video won nine of the categories. The only one it didn't win was the Viewer's Choice award. That one went to U2 for this song's video. Also, in the video you see shots of a woman interspersed with the band. That person was dancer Morleigh Steinberg. She would later work with the band again on their 1992 Zoo TV tour as choreographer and dancer. She and recently separated U2 guitarist The Edge struck up a friendship during the tour. Afterwards, they became a couple and had two children. They were married in 2002.

_________________________________________________________________________________