Saturday, August 8, 2020

"World Where You Live" by Crowded House

Song#:  3219
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  65
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Alternative Rock



Pop Bits:  The new Zealand/Australian band's self-titled debut album garnered them back-to-back Top 10s in the US with "Don't Dream It's Over" (#2) and "Something So Strong" (#7). The hits would make their album a #12 platinum seller. They were hoping to continue their streak with this third single, but it didn't quite catch on. The song spent a couple of months on the Pop chart while only reaching #45 at Rock.

ReduxReview:  This was another good track from the band's album, but it just wasn't quite as catchy or radio-friendly as their previous two hits. Even in Australia the tune peaked at a minor #43. The album wasn't chock full of single candidates and my guess is that even getting the two Top 10s was a bit unexpected, so it didn't really matter that this third one didn't do much business. However, with the band establishing themselves with two major hits, they were then gonna be hounded by the label to write more for their next album. The pressure was on.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The band's debut album netted them eight ARIA award nominations (ARIA is the Australian equivalent of the Grammys). They would end up winning four including Song of the Year for "Don't Dream It's Over." Over the years they would grab more nominations and wins. As of this posting they and earned 13 wins from 36 nominations. They currently rank 9th for most ARIA wins and tied for 6th for most nominations. In 2016, the band would be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. So what acts top the list for most wins/nominations as of this posting date? The rock band Silverchair leads in wins with 21 trophies. Singer/songwriter Paul Kelly has the most nominations at 59.

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Friday, August 7, 2020

"Painted Moon" by The Silencers

Song#:  3218
Date:  08/08/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  82
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This Scottish band was formed in 1986 by Jimme O'Neill and Cha Burns. Both had been members of the punk/new wave band Fingerprintz who had released three albums for Virgin Records between 1979 and 1981. While they didn't achieve widespread success, they had a good following. The band even got on the US Dance chart in 1982 with the #24 "The Beat Escape." After their third album, the band would break up. O'Neill and Burns went off and did their own projects for a few years before getting back together and forming a new band that would eventually be called The Silencers. The band would record a few demos that got the attention of RCA Records. With a deal in place, the band recorded and released this debut single. It got a little bit of attention in the UK reaching #57. The tune crossed over to the US and it did fairly well at Rock getting to #23. That result allowed it to get on the Pop chart for a few weeks. Their debut album, A Letter from St. Paul, would make it to #147. The Silencers would record four more albums for RCA and grab a few minor chart singles in the UK. In the US, their only other chart appearance would come in 1989 when "Razor Blades of Love" would get to #14 on the Modern Rock chart. The band would continue to perform over the years and release the occasional indie album.

ReduxReview:  When this song began to play I immediately thought of The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," which would be a hit in the UK in 1988 and then in the US in 1993. They were also a Scottish band. The songs are different, but the opening and feel of this track reminded me of that Proclaimers track. It also has a bit of Simple Minds and Tears for Fears tossed in. I like the track and it probably sounded good on the radio, but it doesn't necessarily have a big hooky chorus. It takes a few listens for the track to sink in a bit. Still, I doubt it will hang in my mind for very long.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This band shouldn't be confused with the Pittsburgh band of the same name. That new wave band grabbed a minor entry on the Pop chart in 1980 with "Shiver and Shake." They broke up a couple years later and that probably allowed the Scottish group to use the name in the US later (most likely with a payment to the original name holders). Other UK bands were not so lucky and had to alter their name for their US releases due to same name conflicts that could not be resolved. Yazoo became Yaz, The Beat became The English Beat, Suede became The London Suede, and so on. Even Wham! had to become Wham! UK for a brief period until George Michael struck a deal with the Nashville-based disco outfit of the same name.

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

"Didn't We Almost Have It All" by Whitney Houston

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3217
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  50
Peak:  1 (2 week)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B



Pop Bits:  Houston's second album, Whitney, got off to a great start with its first single "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" becoming her fourth consecutive #1 on the Pop chart. Her streak would continue with this next single. The ballad was another home run getting to #1 Pop, #2 R&B, and #1 AC. While it wouldn't hit the gold/platinum level sales of her previous five singles, it was still an impressive feat to grab a fifth consecutive #1 on the Pop chart. It was also her fifth consecutive #1 at AC.

ReduxReview:  Houston had already reached #1 with two big ballads, so the released of this one wasn't a surprise. Its giant chorus, sweeping strings, and treacly lyrics were not that different from the others (with two of them sharing the same writer - see below) and it seems folks were not tired of the formula yet sending it to #1. While I liked the song, I thought it was just a bit excessive. The tune kind of goes on and on with Houston practically yelling the whole time. There was little subtlety or nuance in either the song or Houston's vocal. She practically strains at certain points. It was a good record, but it was never one of my favorites from Houston.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The song was written by Michael Masser and Will Jennings. The pair would get a Grammy nomination in the Song of the Year category. Masser previously co-wrote (with Linda Creed) "The Greatest Love of All" which Houston recorded for her debut album. That song would hit #1 and get a Grammy nod for Record of the Year. It didn't get a nomination for Song of the Year because it was a remake of a song that previously charted. However, Masser was still part of the nominees for that song because he had produced the recording. Masser would write more songs for Houston and other artists, but these would be his only Grammy nods.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"I Need Love" by LL Cool J

Song#:  3216
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  52
Peak:  14
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rap



Pop Bits:  Although LL Cool J's debut album Radio made an impression, it was his second album, Bigger and Deffer that made him a star. The set got kicked off with the ferocious "I'm Bad" (#4 R&B/#84 Pop), but it was this second single that pushed him further into the mainstream. The low-key rap ballad caught on quickly and became LL's first #1 at R&B. It then got attention at Pop where it debuted fairly high on the chart and then made a run towards the Top 10. It would stop shy of that mark, but the track helped push the album to #3 Pop/#1 R&B. It would eventually be a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  While LL Cool J wasn't the first hip hop artist to create a rap ballad, he was the first to have one break big on the charts. In doing so, he basically showed that rap could be more than big bravado tracks, party anthems, or social commentaries. Rap could also be contemplative and even romantic. The song would serve as a blueprint for many more rap ballads to come. It was a terrific song and was a bit unexpected from LL who had established himself with hard-edged tracks. He was talented enough that I think he would have been a superstar anyway, but this is the track that truly turned heads his way and started him on that road.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song would be sampled many times over the years including being used in Rick Ross' 2010 #1 Rap/#2 R&B/#30 Pop hit "Aston Martin Music." However, there was one artist who decided to fully cover the song, which itself is something not commonly done with rap tracks. Irish folk singer/songwriter Luka Bloom did a version of the tune for his 1992 album The Acoustic Motorbike. Bloom recited the lyrics in his Irish accent and framed the rap with acoustic guitar and some light percussion including an Irish drum called a bodhran. The track garnered Bloom praise from some critics and it definitely drew attention. It was released as a single, but it did not chart. Incidentally, Bloom named himself after a song that cracked the Pop Top 10 the same week LL's single debuted, "Luka" by Suzanne Vega. Born Kevin Barry Moore, he decided to take on a stage name after moving to the US in 1987. He chose "Luka" from Vega's song and "Bloom" from the lead character in Ulysses, the classic 1922 novel by James Joyce.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

"U Got the Look" by Prince

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3215
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  67
Peak:  2
Weeks:  25
Genre:  R&B, Funk, Rock



Pop Bits:  The title track to Prince's album Sign 'O' the Times was a solid first single reaching #1 R&B/#3 Pop. Unfortunately, its follow-up, "If I Was Your Girlfriend," was a big momentum killer that only got to #67 Pop. It also missed out on the R&B Top 10 (#12). That result could have easily stopped the double album in its tracks, but luckily Prince got back in the game with this third single. The more commercial friendly tune caught on and nearly topped the Pop chart. Surprisingly, it missed the R&B Top 10 at #11. While the song's climb up the chart wasn't much different from other hit singles reaching its peak in week 12, its decent was quite slow. The song had long legs and would spend another 13 weeks on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I've never been sure why "If I Was Your Girlfriend" was released as the second single. I'm assuming it was Prince's decision for some weird reason. This track should have been the second single. It was just a slam dunk hit that could have advanced the album further. As a third single following a flop, it probably helped sell some albums, but my guess is more people bought the single after being turned off by "If I Was Your Girlfriend." Regardless, the tune finally got released and it was a jammin' success. The addition of Easton (see below) was a good choice that not only helped the song, but the video as well. While I pretty much like all facets of Prince's music, there was nothing like it when he threw down a hot, radio-ready crowd pleaser such as this one.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  At the time Prince was recording this song, he invited singer Sheena Easton to the studio to see if she could add some backing vocals. Prince had previously worked with Easton on a couple of tracks for her albums including the hit "Sugar Walls" (#9 Pop). When Easton arrived at the studio, Prince had basically completed the track as a solo effort. After she began to sing on certain sections, Prince liked what was happening and decided that the song should become a duet. While Easton was credited on the album for her vocals, only Prince's name shows up on the single version. Sheila E performed percussion on the track. Also to note, Prince sang this song in his altered "Camille" voice even though this track was written long after his Camille project was shelved. Still, in addition to Easton, the other vocal credit for the track on the album was for "Camille." The video for the song featured both Prince and Easton along with Sheila E and was a hit on MTV. It would be nominated for four MTV Music Video awards winning two. One for Best Male Video and the other for Best Stage Performance in a Video.

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Monday, August 3, 2020

"Carrie" by Europe

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3214
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  71
Peak:  3
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Glam Rock



Pop Bits:  The Swedish band hit #8 with "The Final Countdown," a track from their third album of the same name. Its follow-up, "Rock the Night," slowed their momentum a bit peaking at #30. Hoping to gain back some of the audience they lost, the band then released this power ballad. It was the right move with the song reaching #3 at Pop. It also got to #35 Rock and #36 AC. It would end up being the band's biggest hit in the US. It would help sell albums and by the fall of '87 it would be certified double-platinum. In 1994, the LP would reach triple-platinum status.

ReduxReview:  While a good chunk of the glam rock/hard rock bands of the time were breaking through on the Pop chart with power ballads, Europe did it with hooky, pop-leaning "The Final Countdown." However, it seems they overestimated the appeal of their harder rocking tunes and somehow thought "Rock the Night" was the appropriate follow-up. It wasn't. The tune didn't tank, but it wasn't a significant success. Luckily, someone had the smarts to finally get "Carrie" out. It really should have been the second single. If it had been, I think it might have had a better chance to reach #1. While I wasn't the biggest fan of the tune, it was a well-executed track that had good mainstream appeal.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The b-side to this single was the album track "Love Chaser." That song along with "Carrie" were used in a film. World Grand Prix: Pride One was a 1986 documentary about the sport of motorcycle road racing. The Grand Prix was highly popular in European countries along with Japan. The yearly circuit would include races in various countries. It was much like the NASCAR circuit in the US. A documentary film was made about the races and was released mainly in Japan. There was also an accompanying soundtrack album that featured songs by Europe and another Swedish hard rock band named Madison. To help promote the film, "Love Chaser" was released as a single in Japan with "Carrie" on the b-side. It didn't seem to do well. Then after the band hit it big with "The Final Countdown," a new non-soundtrack related single was issued in Japan that had "Carrie" on the a-side and "Love Chaser" on the flip side.

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

"Lost in Emotion" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3213
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  76
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, R&B



Pop Bits:  The group grabbed their second gold record with "Head to Toe," the lead single from their second album Spanish Fly. The song would hit a major trifecta by getting to #1 at Pop, R&B, and Dance. For their follow-up single, they decided to push out this track which had an even more retro feel. It would be another big winner at R&B and Pop topping both charts. It also made it to #7 at Dance and became their first and only song to get on the AC chart (#27). The single would be their third to reach gold level sales. Oddly, both "Head to Toe" and this song had the same overall run on the Pop chart. Both spent one week at #1, remained on the chart for 20 weeks, and went gold.

ReduxReview:  I don't think they could have come up with a more perfect follow-up tune. While it still sported a retro-Motown feel, it was different from the more urgent "Head to Toe" and the pair of songs married well together. In fact, this song had even more mainstream appeal drawing in the AC audience. And once again, the song was just right for Lisa Lisa's girlish voice. It was a terrific one-two punch from the band and writers/producers Full Force.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Apparently, this song was inspired by two old Motown hits. Co-writer and Full Force member Bow-Legged Lou (aka Lucian George) was listening to Motown legend Mary Wells' Greatest Hits album when he took notice of two songs that played back-to-back. First was "You Beat Me to the Punch," which was Wells' second major hit reaching #1 R&B and #9 Pop in 1962. Then that single's follow-up "Two Lovers" played next, which was another hit for Wells getting to #1 R&B/#7 Pop. Lou heard something in the two tunes that gave him the inspiration to start on "Lost in Emotion." In the end, all members of Full Force, who produced Spanish Fly, were credited as writers on the track. Wells of course would go on to record the classic #1 "My Guy" in 1964. She would garner 14 R&B Top 10s in her career. Wells would only earn one Grammy nomination and it was for "You Beat Me to the Punch," which was nominated for Best Rock & Roll Recording.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

"Watching Over You" by Glenn Medeiros

Song#:  3212
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  80
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Thanks to winning a talent contest in his home state of Hawaii, Medeiros would become a new pop star with his single "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You" reaching #12 Pop/#4 AC. The song would be included on his self-titled debut, which would get to #83. Up next was this second single from the album. The tune couldn't replicate the success of his first hit petering out low on the chart after a couple of months.

ReduxReview:  Since "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You" was a bit of an unexpected hit, Medeiros and his label had a couple of choices to follow it up. They could have gone with an upbeat track that would play to a younger audience (Medeiros was still a teen and becoming a pin-up boy), or they could try to maintain the same AC audience from his first hit and push out another ballad. Frankly, they should have done the former. Grab that teen audience with a fun, upbeat track. Instead they chose to do the latter and it didn't work. I think part of the reason for that was the song itself. While it's a very nice well-written ballad, it was just way too mature for Medeiros. The tune sounded like it should have been on a Dionne Warwick or Jeffery Osborne album. It skewed more adult and it just didn't suit the teenage vocalist. A case of a good song going to the wrong artist.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Paul Gordon. Gordon had been supplying songs to artists since the late 70s. Those that have recorded his tunes include The Pointer Sisters, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Dionne Warwick, and Olivia Newton-John. While none of those recordings would be charting singles, Gordon would score a pair of major hits in 1986. He co-wrote "Friends and Lovers," which was a #2 Pop/#1 AC hit for Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson (also a #1 Country hit for Juice Newton and Eddie Rabbitt the same year). Gordon would also co-write the Peter Cetera/Amy Grant duet "The Next Time I Fall." That song would top both the Pop and AC charts. He continued to sell songs to artists over the years, but he moved over to writing musicals in the 90s. Gordon would write the music and lyrics to a musical version of Jane Eyre. The show would reach Broadway in 2000. While it wasn't a major success, it did well enough to secure five Tony nominations including Best Musical and Best Original Score (for Gordon). Gordon would go on to write the music and lyrics for three Jane Austen novels, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. None would make it to Broadway. Gordon would have some success with the show Daddy Long Legs, which would have a good off-Broadway run in 2015 and would win a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical (for book writer John Caird).

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Friday, July 31, 2020

"Holiday" by The Other Ones

Song#:  3211
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  29
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Alternative Rock, Pop



Pop Bits:  This Germany-based band formed by three Australian siblings reached the US Pop chart with their second single "We Are What We Are" (#53 Pop/#38 Rock). It was from their self-titled debut as was this follow-up single. While the track wouldn't make the Rock chart, it received more attention at Pop than their previous single and it ended up cracking the Top 30. The hit helped to sell a few more albums, but not enough to push it passed its June peak of #139. The results were good enough to call for a second album and the band released Learning to Walk in 1988. Unfortunately, none of its singles were able to reach any chart and the album quickly disappeared. The band would part ways two years later.

ReduxReview:  This bouncy track was certainly different from the darker new wave of "We Are What We Are." The hooky tune got them a bigger audience and a Top 30 hit. I like the song just as well as "We Are What We Are," but it's like two different bands recorded the tracks. The balance of the album stays along the lines of "We Are." There isn't another quirky pop-leaning track like this one. The band was talented and should have had a longer career, but from what I've read it seems they kind of got in their own way when recording the second album and it just didn't work. It happens. At least they left behind a couple of good tunes that will hopefully be discovered by fans of 80s music.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The Other Ones' siblings Alf, Jayney, and Johnny Klimek were not the only musicians in the family to have chart success. Their younger cousins Nic and Chris Cester would form the hard rock Australian band Jet in 2001. In 2003, Jet would issue out their full-length debut album Get Born. Its first single, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," would be a hit at Rock reaching #7. Another single, "Cold Hard Bitch," would hit #1 at Rock. Both songs were certified gold for digital sales. The album would make it to #26 and become a platinum seller. Oddly, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" would be the band's biggest hit at Pop reaching #29, the same peak as "Holiday," which was The Other Ones' biggest hit.

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

"Misfit" by Curiosity Killed the Cat

Song#:  3210
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  42
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop



Pop Bits:  This British quartet headed up by lead vocalist Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot formed in 1984 and a year later found themselves signed to Mercury Records. They began recording tracks for a debut album with producers Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, but the sessions didn't go as well as expected and after trying to record with a couple of other producers, the label then brought in Stewart Levine to get things done. Levine was a successful American producer who recently had great success with Simply Red. With progress finally being made, this first single was released in the fall of '86. Unfortunately, it didn't get far topping out at #76 in the UK. The label was reluctant to release another single, but the band convinced them to issue out "Down to Earth" near the end of the year. The song steadily caught on and eventually reached #3. With a major hit under their belt, their self-titled debut album was released in April of '87. It would reach #1. After another Top 20 hit, the label then reissued "Misfit" and it got to #7. By that point, the label then tried to break the band in the US with "Misfit." The single would get a little attention and eventually peak just outside of the Top 40 (and #43 Dance). It would end up being the band's only charting song in the US. They would return in '89 with their second album Getahead. It failed to replicate the success of their debut and that left them off the Mercury roster. After a line-up change and a name alteration to just Curiosity, the band signed with RCA Records. Their first single for the label was a remake of the 1974 #8 US/#3 hit "Hang On in There Baby" by US soul singer/songwriter Johnny Bristol. It became a big #3 hit in the UK. Unfortunately, further singles didn't fare well and that left their album Back to Front getting a minimal release. The band would split afterwards.

ReduxReview:  These guys came along at a good time when British sophisti-pop/blue-eyed soul groups were hitting the charts (Simply Red, Level 42, Swing Out Sister, Wet Wet Wet, etc.). Why this song didn't hit the first time around in the UK is a mystery. It was a groovy tune that was better than the song that eventually broke them, "Down to Earth." Luckily, the tune got a second chance and it turned into a hit. However, US listeners preferred their pop with big hooks and this track didn't necessarily have them. I like the song just fine, but it's one that goes in one ear and out the other and leaves virtually no trace in between.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  When the band's debut album was coming together, they found out through their label that Andy Warhol was in London for an exhibition. They finagled their way into the event and ended up meeting Warhol who took a liking to the four guys. Warhol then asked them to attend the banquet following the exhibition. Apparently it was there that Warhol requested to hear the band's music. A cassette tape of the song "Misfit" got to Warhol the next day. He liked it well enough to want to make a music video for the tune. With their label's blessing, the band flew to New York and spent a week filming with Warhol, who even made an appearance in the video. When the single was released, the video grabbed some attention in part due to the Warhol connection, but it wasn't enough to push the single up the chart the first time around.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

"Don't Look Down - The Sequel" by Go West

Song#:  3209
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  39
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop, Dance-Pop



Pop Bits:  This English duo's self-titled debut album did fairly well in the US. It reached #60 and spawned three Pop chart entries including "We Close Our Eyes," which did the best getting to #41 (#5 Dance). Their second studio LP, Dancing on the Couch, got released earlier in '87 in the UK, but it was failing to generate a significant hit single. When the album was prepped for US release, it featured an altered track listing, which included this first single. While the song wasn't a major hit, it did become the duo's first to crack the US Pop Top 40. Further singles failed to chart and with little to promote the album it stalled at a very low #172.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song when it came out. Go West had a knack at creating hooky synth lines and this song was no exception. The chorus was also catchy and memorable. The original album version was a solid, well-written track, but this "sequel" version far outshines it. They made the synth lines sing better and the whole production was beefier and more exciting. I spun this track a lot and thought for sure it would go Top 10. I was very disappointed it just barely made the Top 40. I still keep this song spinning in a few of my playlists. It was easily their best song and it should have done far better.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) There is a reason that "The Sequel" was added to the title of the song. Originally, the tune was a track on the duo's debut album, which had spawned three hits in the UK. It was decided to issue out a fourth single, but instead of pushing out the album track as-is, a remix was done to help the song's commercial potential. To distinguish it from the album track, the single got tagged as "The Sequel." The ploy worked and the song got to #13 in the UK. However, in the US it didn't get scheduled for release following three lower charting singles. With singles from the second album not doing well in the UK, the label then decided to replace a track on the US version of the LP with the remix and then release it as a single. It worked out fairly well with the duo scoring their first US Top 40 entry.  2) The duo would not get back on the US charts in the 80s. However, in 1990 they would get their biggest hit with a soundtrack song. Go West recorded "King of Wishful Thinking" for the soundtrack to the hit film Pretty Woman. Release as a single, it would get to #8 Pop and #7 AC. They would follow it up "Faithful," a song from their third album Indian Summer. That song would get to #13 Pop/#3 AC. A follow-up single, a remake of Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do for Love" (#9, 1978), would hit #3 AC/#55 Pop. It would end up being their last charting single as they split not long after.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

"Spring Love" by The Cover Girls

Song#:  3208
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  98
Peak:  98
Weeks:  1
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  This assembled NYC-based vocal trio's first single, "Show Me," was a hit in clubs and reached #4 on the Dance chart. The indie single didn't do too bad on the Pop chart nearly cracking the Top 40 (#44). Although they established themselves as a freestyle outfit with that first song, for their next single they took a different path and released this mid-tempo pop tune. It wasn't as well received and had a hard time breaking through. It scratched the R&B chart at #82 and spent one lone week on the Pop chart. If the trio was going to catch on in a bigger way, they were going to need something better than this, which did happen with their next single.

ReduxReview:  This song has a young teen feel to it and I would have though it a bit too juvenile for trio of women in their 20s to sing, but thanks to their thin, high-pitched voices, it ended up working okay for them. However, anyone who was a fan of "Show Me" wasn't going to have interest in this single. It was nice that they changed things up with their second single, but as an indie artist trying to get established, it would have been better if they stuck with what got them noticed in the first place. This is a cute little tune, but nothing that was going to further their career. They were lucky that folks gave them a second chance with their next single, which returned them to their freestyle sound.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Pete Warner and Rainy Davis. Davis was a singer/songwriter from Brooklyn that began singing with a few NY groups. Her songwriting skills came in handy when through a friend she got the opportunity to write and submit a song to Janet Jackson. Davis and her husband/writing partner Warner came up with "Sweetheart." Unfortunately, by the time it was ready to send over to Jackson, she was already deep in her session for her album Control with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. However, that disappointment led to something better. Davis was encouraged to record the song herself. She did and issued it out in '86 on the indie Supertronics label. It ended up doing fairly well reaching #24 R&B/#42 Dance. Its success led to a contract with Columbia Records. Davis recorded her debut album Sweetheart and its second single, "Lowdown So & So" would be her biggest hit reaching #9 Dance and #14 R&B. Her second album yielded only one minor charting single and that result left her off the Columbia roster. However, her original hit "Sweetheart" would later be recorded in 1998 by Mariah Carey and rapper/producer Jermaine Dupri. The song would appear on Dupri's debut album Life in 1472 while also being included on Carey's #1's album, both released in the fall in '98. While the track wasn't officially released in the US as a single, it did garner enough airplay for it to reach #53 on the R&B chart.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

"Touch of Grey" by The Grateful Dead

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3207
Date:  07/25/1987
Debut:  77
Peak:  9
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  By 1986, this storied band's future was a bit uncertain. Although they were still relentlessly touring, the Dead hadn't recorded a new studio album since 1980's Go to Heaven. In addition, the health of Jerry Garcia, who was often viewed as the leader of the band, was in decline due to years of drug usage, weight gain, and other issues. It began to affect his stage presence and the band's consistency. Ultimately, the toll of all his issues would push Garcia into a diabetic coma in July of '86. Everything with the band came to a sudden halt. Luckily, Garcia would come out of the coma five days later. His recovery was slow, but with a new lease on life, Garcia was determined to clean up his act and get the band back on track, which included recording a new album. A year after Garcia's coma, the band's twelfth studio album, In the Dark, was released. To promote the album and return of the band, this first single was pushed out. Surprisingly, the song took off and it reached #1 at Rock. It then crossed over to the Pop chart to not only become the band's first Top 40 entry, but their first (and only) Top 10 hit. The tune also did well at AC getting to #15. The hit would help make the album their first to reach the Top 10 (#6). It would eventually sell over two million copies. While this track would be the Dead's last to get on the Pop chart, its popularity helped to introduce the band to a whole new generation.

ReduxReview:  A lot of folks were surprised by this hit including me. I wasn't even remotely a fan of the band. I just didn't connect with their songs and jam bands were definitely not my thing. So when their return was starting to get touted, I just shrugged my shoulders in a "so what" manner. I mean, what could they possible do that would appeal to me? And then this track came out. Whether they were aiming to do something more commercial or not, they came up with one of their most appealing radio-friendly songs of their career. It didn't take me long to hook into the tune. The genial track with its comfortable, lived-in groove and lyrics about aging gracefully sort of swayed me into their corner. Even the production was just right with the muted cowbell and tinkling keyboard adding some sweetness. The video was pretty cool too. While I liked the song, it didn't turn me into a Deadhead. I still can't get into a lot of their music, but at least I can say that I do like something of theirs. It also provided an opening for me to listen to some of their most regarded recordings.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The Dead weren't what you'd call an MTV-ready band. Their eclectic style, merging of various genres, and lengthy jams certainly didn't fit within the era of Madonna and Bon Jovi. They never even made themselves necessarily radio-ready either by trying to write a hit. So it was a bit of a surprise when the more concise, straightforward "Touch of Grey" appeared. Then it was an even bigger surprise when the band shot an actual music video for the tune - their first done specifically for MTV. But the biggest surprise of all was that both the song and the video caught on. The video, directed by Justin Kreutzmann (son of Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann), featured a stage performance by the band, but the members were portrayed by life-sized marionette skeletons. About two-thirds of the way through the skeletons were replaced with the actual band members. It got viewers' attention and became a hit on MTV, which helped the song reach the Pop Top 10.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

"Back to Paradise" by 38 Special

Song#:  3206
Date:  07/25/1987
Debut:  81
Peak:  41
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Southern Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  After seven studio albums (three platinum, one gold) and seven Pop Top 40 entries, 38 Special and their label decided it was time to issue out a hits compilation. Titled Flashback: The Best of 38 Special, the album featured nine previously released songs, three live tracks, and two new tunes including this song, which had been used in the comedy film Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. It was released as a single to help promote both the movie and the hits package. The tune easily made it to #4 on the Rock chart while just missing out on the Pop Top 40 at the dreaded #41. The compilation would end up reaching #35 and would go platinum. Following its release, there would be personnel changes in the band and the new lineup would return with an album in '88.

ReduxReview:  Here is another track from the Vallance/Adams assembly line (see below) and like many of their other collaborations for other artists, it wasn't a major hit. It did get to #4 at Rock, but the tune just wasn't in the same league as some of the band's earlier hits. There was also a certain smell that made it seem like a soundtrack song; a kind of hooky commercialism that made it sound like a promo tune and something that the band wouldn't necessarily have recorded for one of their albums. Still, the band rallied and made it into something palatable for their fans. Just not enough of them showed up to make it a bigger hit.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise was the sequel to the hit 1984 teen/frat comedy Revenge of the Nerds, which starred Anthony Andrews and Robert Carradine. That film wasn't necessarily a critical favorite, but audiences loved it and the flick ended up being a solid box office hit. Of course the smell of money resulted in the decision to do a sequel and Nerds in Paradise was made. Critics hated it, but audiences showed up and the film ended up making money. The original film had a soundtrack album, but none of the songs from the LP hit the charts. The sequel featured several new tunes, but a soundtrack was not officially culled and released. However, this 38 Special song was considered the film's theme and was released as a single. There would be two more Nerds movies to follow, but both were made for TV and not released theatrically.  2) With their 1986 album Strength in Numbers, 38 Special began working with Jim Vallance, the songwriting partner of Bryan Adams. The association began after the band recorded the Vallance/Adams tune "Teacher, Teacher" (#25 Pop/#4 Rock) for the movie Teachers. The collaboration seemed to work out well, so when a theme was needed for the Nerds sequel, Vallance and Adams had "Back to Paradise" ready for 38 Special to record.

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Saturday, July 25, 2020

"Fake" by Alexander O'Neal

Song#:  3205
Date:  07/25/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  25
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Electro-Funk



Pop Bits:  Originally from Mississippi, O'Neal made the move to Minneapolis in the early 70s and began performing with several local bands. After nearly being part of a Prince-signed band (see below), he ended up getting signed as a solo artist with Tabu Records. The writing/production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who had already been writing and producing for other Tabu artists like The S.O.S. Band and Cherrelle, were brought in along with Monte Moir to write and produce O'Neal's 1985 self-titled debut album. It would do well spawning a pair of R&B Top 20s and reaching #21 on the R&B chart. Then O'Neal got an extra boost when he recorded "Saturday Love," a duet with Cherrelle that was from her second solo disc High Priority. That song got to #2 R&B and #26 Pop. This setup O'Neal well for his second LP, Hearsay. All tracks save for one were written by Jam and Lewis with the duo producing the whole album. This first single was released and it became O'Neal's first and only song to top the R&B chart. It also hit #7 at Dance. The song then crossed over to Pop where it got to #25, which would end up being his best effort on that chart. The album would become O'Neal's biggest hit reaching #2 R&B/#29 Pop. It would also reach gold-level sales.

ReduxReview:  This definitely had Jam and Lewis' hands all over it. The funky Minneapolis groove, staccato keyboards, synth sweeps, and crisp production were telltale signs of their work. It was also quite reminiscent of work they did as members of The Time. It was another hit for the team and it didn't hurt that their former Flyte Tyme lead singer O'Neal was up front. The trio's history together certainly worked in O'Neal's favor as he sounded perfectly at home on this track. While Jam and Lewis would have far bigger crossover hits, this was still a tasty single from the earlier part of their career. Unfortunately, it has kind of gotten lost over time. Also, I think O'Neal's album may be the first headed up by Jam and Lewis to incorporate interludes between songs. They would apply that technique to great effect on their second LP with Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation 1814.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In the late 70s, O'Neal would become the lead singer of Flyte Tyme, a popular Minneapolis funk band that included future superstar songwriters/producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. O'Neal got the job after original lead singer, Cynthia Johnson, left the band (she would go on to sing the lead vocals on "Funkytown," the 1979 #1 hit by Lipps Inc.). When Prince was looking to expand his footprint and form a band that would basically be the face for his own songs and productions, he found Flyte Tyme. He would get the band signed but there would be changes. O'Neal would be out as lead singer and replaced by Morris Day and the band's name would change to The Time. That band would go on to have some solid success, but by 1983 Jam and Lewis had been fired from the band. They had already been writing/producing for other artists, so being free of The Time gave them the opportunity to expand their new business, which included working for Tabu artists The S.O.S. Band and Cherrelle. With O'Neal now on the label, that gave the old Flyte Tyme members the opportunity to work together again.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

"Jump Start" by Natalie Cole

Song#:  3204
Date:  07/25/1987
Debut:  87
Peak:  13
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B



Pop Bits:  Cole's career in the 70s was red hot. She accumulated five gold and two platinum albums, had five R&B #1 hits and three Pop Top 10s. She also had three Grammys to her credit. But then came the 80s. She recorded four albums for three different labels and none of them yielded anything close to a significant hit with the exception of "Someone That I Used to Know" (#21 Pop/#21 R&B/#3 AC) from her 1980 album Don't Look Back, which was her first LP to not go gold. To make matters worse, Cole had been struggling with drug addiction for years and it was taking a toll personally and professionally. She began to get cleaned up in 1983, but was still having a difficult time reestablishing her career. She signed on with Manhattan Records in '86 and they brought in some hit makers to help create an album that would put her back on the charts. This cast included brothers Reggie and Vincent Calloway who had been having solid success with their own group Midnight Star along with producing/writing hits for Klymaxx and The Whispers. They recorded a couple of tracks with Cole including this first single that they wrote. The song was well received at R&B where it became Cole's first Top 10 (#2) since 1979. That success then bled over to the Pop chart where it nearly made the Top 10. It also got to #28 at Dance. It was a significant comeback for Cole, but it would only be the start to a highly successful second act.

ReduxReview:  This was a good vehicle for the return of Cole. The Calloways had the right song for her and their production reflected the day's trends. It was a fun, catchy tune that was made all the better by Cole's voice. Of course, she was far better than this song, but the tune was what she needed to get back on the charts and on that level it succeeded. The track has lost its luster over the years and has nearly become a forgotten hit in her catalog. Still, it went a long way in reestablishing Cole's career.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The album would secure Cole her first Grammy nomination in eight years. She would get a nod for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. The winner that year would be Aretha Franklin for her Aretha album, which for Franklin could have been interpreted as a revenge win. Back in 1967 and 1968, the Grammy organization made changes to the R&B categories and created separate male, female, and duo/group awards. Franklin won the very first award for her hit "Respect." Then amazingly, she kept winning the award for the next seven years. Then in 1976 along came Natalie Cole. Cole's debut album, Inseparable, included songs written by the team of Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy that had originally been turned down by Franklin. Still needing a hit for LP, Jackson and Yancy came up with "This Will Be." It did the trick reaching #1 R&B/#6 Pop. The single put Cole on the map and also got her compared to Aretha, who was none to pleased with that. At the 1976 Grammys, Cole would be the singer to end Franklin's streak of wins. In that competition year Franklin wasn't nominated as she didn't secure a sizable hit. However, for the '77 Grammys, both Cole and Franklin were nominated. Cole won for her #1 R&B hit "Sophisticated Lady (She's a Different Lady)." Apparently that win along with the attention given to Cole and some possible miscommunication/gossip being tossed around about Cole was enough for Franklin to basically dismiss Cole and the pair were never friendly after that Grammy show. Cole wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last singer that Aretha would either feud or have issues with (lists can be found online...). So it was probably a sweet victory for Franklin to win over Cole following Cole's comeback. However, in 1992 Cole would win in a Grammy category that Franklin would never get a nomination in, Album of the Year. Cole's Unforgettable...With Love would snag that top award.

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

"Strangelove" by Depeche Mode

Song#:  3203
Date:  07/25/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  76
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Synthpop, Alternative Rock



Pop Bits:  The UK band broke through on the US charts with their fourth album Some Great Reward. It would be a gold seller (later going platinum) thanks to the #13 hit "People Are People." Their follow-up studio LP, Black Celebration, was a bit of a setback only reaching #90 with none of its singles making the US Pop chart (it would eventually go gold by the end of the decade). For their next effort, Music for the Masses, the band decided to change producers and work with David Bascombe, who recorded/engineered two major hit albums, Tears for Fears' Songs from the Big Chair and Peter Gabriel's So. The tone of the album remained dark and didn't pander to commercialism despite the jokey title of being accessible to everyone. Despite that, it ended up being the band's biggest success in the US to-date. This first single was pushed out and it became their first to reach #1 on the Dance chart. It was then able to crossover to Pop, but its stay was short-lived. Thanks to the single and a rabid college campus/radio fan base, the LP got to #35 and it would go gold early in '88 and eventually become a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  While not as hooky as "People Are People," this was still a solid single for the band. Not only does the chorus grab you, but the keyboard line is even catchier. This single version (see below) has its merits and still works well, but I'm a bit partial to the LP version. It sounds meatier to me and the remix gave the song a chance to breathe. The band was inching their way towards a sound that was distinctly theirs while still pulling in some mainstream sensibilities that would help to gain a bigger audience. It would culminate for them with their next LP, 1990's Violator.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a case where the song heard on the single was different from the one heard on the album. When first recorded, the song had an upbeat pop feel, which seemed appropriate for radio. That version was the one released as a single. However, it just didn't fit with the darker tone set by the other tracks recorded for the album. Instead of trying to force it on the record or even leave it off, a slightly slower, more sparse remix of the tune was created in order for it to gel with the balance of the album. These two version were not the end of the road for this song. In '88, a new remix of the track would be created and released as a single. It would end up doing better on the US Pop chart than the original reaching #50.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

"Montego Bay" by Amazulu

Song#:  3202
Date:  07/25/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  90
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Calypso



Pop Bits:  This British band was initially an all-female outfit, but after personnel changes the lineup consisted of five women and one man. They recorded a couple of singles for the indie label Towerbell in 1983 with their first effort, "Cairo," making a brief appearance on the UK chart at #86. That result attracted the attention of Island Records who decided to give the band a shot. More singles would follow including a pair of Top 20s. Then their remake of The Chi-Lites' 1974 song "Too Good to Be Forgotten" (a #10 hit in the UK) put them in the UK Top 10 at #5. A self-titled debut album was finally assembled, but by the time it was released in '86, the band had been reduced to a trio. Their next single was "Montego Bay" and it got to #16 in the UK. It took a long while, but Island then tried to break the band in the US on their affiliated Mango label. "Montego Bay" was released and it got just a minor bit of attention spending a month near the bottom of the Pop chart. However, it did far better in Canada where it got to #6. The band then fizzled out soon after. Their 1987 follow-up album Spellbound failed to gain an audience anywhere and by 1988 the band was done.

ReduxReview:  The band could have really spun this in a very 80s way, but for the most part they stayed grounded in the original (see below). The horn lines are a nice add and the layered background vocals contribute depth. All in all, it wasn't a bad remake. I just think it wasn't the right style of song at the time for US pop radio. Had it been promoted better at AC where the nostalgia factor of the older hit might have kicked in, the song might have done well there. It was a good attempt to revive a 70s hit, but it didn't stand out enough to get noticed.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of song originally co-written (with Jeff Barry) and recorded by US singer/songwriter Bobby Bloom. His version would reach #8 in 1970. Bloom would not be able to follow-up that Top 10 success and would end up getting tagged as a one-hit wonder. Prior to his solo career, Bloom scored a hit as a songwriter when he co-wrote "Mony, Mony" for Tommy James & the Shondells (#3, 1968). The tune would also be a #1 hit for Billy Idol in 1987. He remained a successful songwriter penning tunes for The Archies and The Monkees. Sadly, Bloom died in 1974 from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

"Doing It All for My Baby" by Huey Lewis & the News

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3201
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  63
Peak:  6
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Four was a good number for Lewis and the band. Their fourth album, titled Fore!, had spawned four Top 10 hits with two of them hitting #1 spending a combined four weeks at the top of the Pop chart. But I guess stopping at four wasn't enough and it was decided to push out this fifth single from the LP. The tune ended up doing very well reaching #2 at AC while hitting #6 at Pop. With that last result, Lewis and the band became only the second group to achieve five Pop Top 10 hits from one album (Genesis was the first earlier in the year). The album would eventually be a triple-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This tune drags us back to the retro rock/doo wop style of song that they had previously hit with like "Stuck with You." It's a good little tune, but by this point they had practically beaten this formula to death. Yeah, it was kind of their signature sound, but you can only take it so far before people start to get bored. When this record came out, I was really bored with it. I preferred their rock-leaning tracks or more adventurous fare like "Jacob's Ladder." I still get tired of Lewis' shufflin' old-school tunes, but it is hard to rank this one too low because it actually is a nice song.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Mike Duke and Phil Cody. Duke was a struggling musician and songwriter who in 1974 joined up with the Southern rock band Wet Willie. His first album with the band, Keep on Smilin', produced the #10 title-track hit. Later on in 1977, the band would reach #30 with a song Duke co-wrote called "Street Corner Serenade." After Wet Willie faded in the early 80s, Duke started his own band called Mike and the Maximums (which referred to that statures of its members). They sought to get a record deal, but with the advent of MTV, the band was basically deemed not camera-ready and no one would sign them. Luckily, in the meantime a demo of a song Duke wrote made it over to the Huey Lewis camp. Lewis recorded "Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do" for the band's second album Picture This. It was released as a single and it made the Pop Top 40. Duke then co-wrote this song for the band. They would also record Duke's "Let Her Go and Start Over," which appeared on their 2001 album Plan B. That song would make it to #23 on the AC chart.

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Monday, July 20, 2020

"I Heard a Rumour" by Bananarama

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3200
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  74
Peak:  4
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Synthpop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The trio's third album, 1986's True Confessions, would be their best selling studio album in the US reaching #15 and going gold. That was mainly due to their #1 cover tune "Venus," which was their first track produced by the Stock Aitken Waterman team. That success then led Bananarama to hiring on SAW to head up their next album Wow! Both trios would co-write nearly all the songs with SAW producing all tracks. This first single continued in the tradition of the SAW Hi-NRG synthpop formula and it proved to be a good fit for pop radio. It would become the trio's third US Top 10 hit. The track also got to #3 at Dance and #32 AC. Oddly, it didn't really do much for sales of the album, which topped out at #44. In addition to being the first song from the trio's album, the track also served as the second single lifted from the soundtrack to the comedy film Disorderlies.

ReduxReview:  This was one of the trio's catchiest songs and is one of SAW's best productions. The keyboard line at the top of the song was memorable and set up the song well. The instrumental and vocal arrangements were top-notch. The producers were really perfecting their trademark sound with this track, which would then lead to their work with Rick Astley. Their productions would get a bit samey and monotonous by the end of the decade, but this single showed growth and sounded great on the radio.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song borrowed heavily from the 1986 Eurobeat hit "Give Me Up" performed by Italian music star Michael Fortunati. That song was written by Michel Jean Machtergaele (aka M. De San Antonio), Mario Nigro, and Pierre Nigro, and produced by Machtergaele. While the song did well in a few European countries, it was a major hit in Japan. Several Japanese music artists would later cover the tune. According to a couple of sites, it seems that SAW may have contributed or worked on a remix version of "Give Me Up" and then decided to transfer some of the work they did over to the Bananarama song. However, the original writers were not credited on the Bananarama track. The sites also say that the writers were eventually compensated by SAW.

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Sunday, July 19, 2020

"In My Dreams" by REO Speedwagon

Song#:  3199
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  19
Weeks:  30
Genre:  Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  REO grabbed their seventh Pop Top 20 hit with "That Ain't Love," the first single from their album Life As We Know It. It was a good, but not great, start to the LP. Looking for something better, they issued out the second single "Variety Tonight." Unfortunately, the single tanked at a low #60 putting the album in danger of quickly disappearing. Desperately needing a turn around, the band then issued out this third single. The pop-leaning ballad had more mainstream appeal and it caught on at AC reaching #6 on that chart. It also got them back in the Top 20 on the Pop chart. The hit did extend sales of the album, which ended up going gold. However, that was a significant drop from their three previous studio albums that all went multi-platinum. It seemed to signal that the Speedwagon was running out of gas.

ReduxReview:  Kelly's pop touch could certainly be felt on this song and most likely helped to turn it into a hit. However, it sounded nothing like an REO song. Even the sweet production that framed the tune was far from REO's brand of guitar-driven radio-ready rock. I think some older fans of REO were hanging on by a thread at this point in the band's career and I think this song may have been the last straw for a lot of them. They wanted to rock, not sway along to a pretty little pop tune. The band had been revving up to jump the shark for a while, but with this song they gave it the gas and took off. It ended up being a middling, forgettable hit for them that somewhat helped to salvage an album that was on the verge of tanking. If I'm being honest, this is a nice pop tune. The lyrics aren't the best, but the lovely melodies make up for it. The problem was that this came from REO and it just about erased any rock credibility they had.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  For their previous album, Wheels Are Turnin', the band got a little boost on a couple of tracks from hit songwriter Tom Kelly ("True Colors," "Alone"). For Life As We Know It, the band kept up the association and also brought along Kelly's songwriting partner Billy Steinberg. Kelly and Steinberg would co-write three of the LP's tracks with a couple of REO members while Kelly would co-write "In My Dreams" with the band's lead singer Kevin Cronin. It seems that Kelly's hitmaking ability helped as the song was able to crack the Pop Top 20 and AC Top 10.

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

"Twistin' the Night Away" by Rod Stewart

Song#:  3198
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  80
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  The soundtrack for the sci-fi comedy flick Innerspace, starring Martin Short and Dennis Quaid, had already spawned a Pop Top 40 single with the #36 "Hypnotize Me" by Wang Chung. Even though that single was just a minor hit and the film not meeting expectations at the box office, it was decided that this second single from the soundtrack would be released. Rod Stewart's cover tune (see below) didn't make much of an impression and it fell off the Pop chart after a quick month. Stewart was in between albums in 1987 so the timing of the single was certainly good to keep his charting career going, but it just didn't catch on. Stewart would return in 1988 with an album that would become his biggest selling of the 80s.

ReduxReview:  Stewart doing a remake of his own remake was kind of odd in that he didn't do much to improve on his first version except to put it in a big 80s rock arrangement. While there was nothing really wrong with the track, it just seemed to be more glamorous and polished than his first version, which had a true organic rock feel. It was like his '72 version stemmed from a love of Cooke's music along with the song whereas the '87 soundtrack version came off as "you wanna pay me how much to do this?" Because of that, the tune came off as cheezy shtick meant to promote a movie  Even the associated video featured Martin Short. I'd stick with Stewart's '72 cover or, obviously, the classic original by Cooke.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally written and performed by soul singer Sam Cooke. His 1962 version became a #1 R&B/#9 Pop hit. The song would be performed by many artists, but the first one to make the Pop chart with a version was Rod Stewart. However, it wasn't this soundtrack version. Back in 1972, Stewart recorded the song for his album Never a Dull Moment. That LP was mainly famous for its #13 single "You Wear It Well." A second single, "Angel," just barely made the Top 40 at #40. Stewart's remake of the Cooke song was then issued out as the third single. It got to #59. Flash forward to 1987 where in the movie Innerspace there was a scene where Martin Short and Dennis Quaid get a bit drunk and Short does a goofy dance to Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away." It was a memorable scene so apparently someone thought it was a good idea to have an artist cover the track for the closing credits. Stewart, who had already recorded the tune, was then recruited to re-record it for the soundtrack.

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Friday, July 17, 2020

"One Heartbeat" by Smokey Robinson

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3197
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  86
Peak:  10
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Robinson grabbed his third Top 10 on the Pop chart with "Just to See Her" (#8), the lead single from his LP One Heartbeat. The song would also get to #1 at AC and #2 R&B. For a follow-up, this title track would be released. It would easily become a hit at both AC (#2) and R&B (#3). At Pop, the tune would get to #10 making it the first time in his solo career that Robinson scored back-to-back Top 10s on that chart. The album would hit #1 at R&B and #27 Pop. It would be Robinson's second gold selling solo LP.

ReduxReview:  Robinson co-wrote all the songs on One Heartbeat except for "Just to See Her" and this title track. Whether he or someone else picked them, both were good choices that led to a career revival. While this song wasn't quite as good as the breezy "Just to See Her," it was still a solid track that had wide appeal. It kind of harked back to the sexier side of Robinson found in songs like "Cruisin'" and "Being with You." It fit him well and gave him one last Pop Top 10.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The b-side to this single was not a track from the album. Instead, an obscure theme to a 1986 movie was used. Robinson co-wrote and performed "Love Will Set You Free," a song that was used as the theme to the sci-fi flick Solarbabies. The movie was executive produced by Mel Brooks and directed by Alan Johnson, a choreographer who had worked with Brooks on several of his films. Johnson's directorial debut was the 1983 war-comedy To Be or Not to Be, which starred Brooks. It received mixed reviews and mediocre box office. Brooks was pitched the idea of Solarbabies and he thought it had a lot of potential. He decided that his Brooksfilms production company would finance the flick about a group of orphans trying to overthrow the organization that basically lorded over a post-apocalyptic Earth. The production was a mess from the get-go. As the film's budget and ambition grew, the original director, co-writer Douglas Metrov, was replaced by Johnson. The film's cast, which included fresh new faces like Jami Gertz, Peter DeLuise, and Jason Patrik, didn't get along with Johnson. Bad weather delayed filming. Scenes were shot that didn't really make sense. The budget kept increasing with Brooks having to put his own money into the film (it nearly bankrupted him). To top things off, it was decided to release the film on the same day as another sci-fi flick, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Critics savaged the film with Gene Siskel even calling it "trash." It ended up a box office bomb. Brooks would rebound the following year with the hit Spaceballs. For Johnson, it would be the last film he would direct. The Smokey Robinson tune was released as a single in Canada only, but it did not chart. It got a wider release when used as the b-side to "One Heartbeat."

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

"Johnny B" by The Hooters

Song#:  3196
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  87
Peak:  61
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock, Folk-Rock



Pop Bits:  The band's second album, 1985's Nervous Night, was an unexpected double-platinum #12 success thanks to three Pop Top 40 hits including the #18 "Day By Day." After spending a couple of years on the road, the band returned to the studio to record their follow-up album One Way Home. This track would serve as the first single and it did well at Rock reaching #3. However, it wasn't able to gain an audience at Pop and the tune stalled before it could even get into the top half of the chart. It wasn't a great start, but a good chunk of the audience who bought their previous LP showed up and helped the new album reach #27 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  This one was a head scratcher for me. After gaining a big mainstream audience with their own brand of catchy pop/rock, the band amped up the folk-rock part of their sound to create an album that was meatier and darker. There were shades of Americana along with British Isles folk on huge sounding rock tunes like this one. It seemed the band was out to make some kind of statement rather than making a palatable follow-up to a mainstream hit record. It was like they were trying to be the American U2. While that is commendable with the album having some solid, mature tracks, the thing they forgot about was to add a little something that would keep pop fans who loved their previous hits interested. I mean, even U2 had a knack of tossing some hooky tunes. This song was able to get good airplay at Rock, but this was just not gonna make it at Pop. It was dark, brooding, folky, and nothing like quirky upbeat Hooters of "Day by Day" or "And We Danced." Why they chose to make this a single is a mystery. There was just no way this was going to be a hit. They probably didn't care, but it certainly wasn't the way to maintain a successful, long career.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Rap group Down Low recorded a version of this song for their 1997 album It Ain't Over. Down Low was formed in Germany in 1995. Although considered a German group, it was fronted by two Americans, Joe Thompson and Darren Tucker. Their first album, Visions, arrived in 1996 with its first single, "Visions of Life," hitting #19 in Germany and #10 in France. Their second album would be their most successful thanks to their remake of "Johnny B." The track would reach #4 in Germany and go Top 10 in a few other countries.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

"Show Me the Way" by Regina Belle

Song#:  3195
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  68
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B



Pop Bits:  New Jersey-born Belle began singing in church as a child and her love of music grew throughout her school years. After graduating high school, Belle decided to study opera for a while before attending Rutgers where she began singing jazz. It was while singing with the college's jazz ensemble that she impressed a local DJ who then got her in touch with the manager of the R&B group The Manhattans. It seems they were looking for a female vocalist and Belle fit the bill. She began to tour with them and that led to her being featured on two of the group's tracks on their 1986 album Back to Basics, including the #42 R&B single "Where Did We Go Wrong." Her own recording contract followed and in 1987 she released her debut album All By Myself. This song was the LP's first single and it became a big hit at R&B reaching #2. It did well enough to cross over to the pop chart where it hung around for a couple of months. A second single, "So Many Tears," would get to #11 R&B, but miss the Pop chart. The album would sell well getting to #14 R&B/#85 Pop. It was a solid start to Belle's career.

ReduxReview:  Belle came along at the right time. Anita Baker had broken through with her more sophisticated jazz/R&B/pop hybrid sound and I think it helped give Belle and this track a chance. Indeed it made its way up to #2 at R&B and Belle was tagged as a rising star. The song was quite good and Belle sold it well with her remarkable voice. I'm guessing it leaned a little to much towards R&B for pop radio, but those that were able to discover it certainly got a treat.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  By the time Belle hooked up with The Manhattans, their career on the charts was in decline. They hadn't scored a Top 10 at R&B since 1983's #4 "Crazy" and their last big crossover hit was 1980's "Shining Star" (#4 R&B/#5 Pop). Following their Back to Basics album, which featured Belle, lead singer Gerald Alston left for a solo career. The group then found themselves off the Columbia Records roster. They would stay together and return with a new lead singer and an indie album three years later, but it didn't make much of an impression. The Manhattans would continue to tour over the years in various forms and line-ups including one with Alston. Alston's solo career was brief, but successful. Over the course of four albums between '88 and '94, he scored three R&B Top 10 hits.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

"Say You Really Want Me" by Kim Wilde

Song#:  3194
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  44
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Wilde scored her first and only US #1 hit with a cover of The Supremes' 1966 #1 "You Keep Me Hangin' On." The single was from her fifth album Another Step. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The tune seemed to be shaping up as another Top 40 entry for Wilde, but then it suddenly stopped short of that mark. By this point in time the album had already peaked at #40 and this single didn't do much to further sales. A third single, "Another Step (Closer to You)", a duet with British R&B singer Junior ("Mama Used to Say"), was released but it failed to chart.

ReduxReview:  It wasn't necessarily a bad idea to give this song a second chance (see below) mainly because there wasn't another surefire hit on the album and it followed in the dance-pop footsteps of "You Keep Me Hangin' On." However, it still wasn't a very strong single contender. I think what might have helped would have been to get a big name remixer to step in and overhaul the track. That might have pushed the tune further up the chart. While I liked the track, it was a little weak for a single. I actually thought the title track was a far better contender, but as a third single it didn't get any consideration.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was originally recorded for the 1986 film Running Scared starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. The movie's soundtrack had already generated two hit singles, "Sweet Freedom" by Michael McDonald (#7) and "Man Size Love" by Klymaxx (#15), and this Wilde song was selected to be a third single. On initial release, the track was able to reach #32 on the Dance chart, but failed to reach the Pop chart. When it came time to follow-up "You Keep Me Hangin' On," this song was given a second chance. It did much better getting close to the Top 40, but it still failed to become a significant hit.

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Monday, July 13, 2020

"Making Love in the Rain" by Herb Alpert

Song#:  3193
Date:  07/18/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  35
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Quiet Storm



Pop Bits:  Alpert's second single from his album Keep Your Eye on Me, "Diamonds," became his first Pop Top 10 hit since his 1979 #1 instrumental "Rise." The song also got to #1 at both R&B and Dance. It helped that he had a bit of star power behind it with Jam & Lewis writing/producing and Janet Jackson supplying vocals along with Lisa Keith. For a follow-up, this quiet storm ballad was released. Like the previous single, it was a Jam & Lewis creation that also featured Jackson and Keith (this time around Keith took on lead vocals while Jackson did background vocals). While the track would do well at R&B reaching #7, it did only medium business at AC (#21) and Pop where it just eked out a Top 40 showing. Still, it helped sell a few more copies of the album, which had just reached the gold mark a month earlier. The song would be Alpert's last to reach the Pop and AC chart.

ReduxReview:  I think this quiet storm track was just a little too sleepy for pop radio, but it flourished at R&B where the moody tune was a fit for the format. Jam & Lewis created a nice 80s vibe with their production and Keith's vocals fit the song well. Of course all that Alpert had to do was put some tooting noises around in places and provide a solo section. He got sole top billing, but then again it was his project and his label (A&M). I like the track, but almost wish it would have gone to another Jam & Lewis produced artist. It might have turned out better. Still, this was a good selection for Alpert's foray into modern 80s music; however, I prefer Alpert's 60s LPs with his Tijuana Brass.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Alpert would continue to release albums over the years experimenting with various styles. His 1988 album Under a Spanish Moon would lean towards Latin music and even featured a trumpet concerto he commissioned. He returned to pop/R&B with 1989's My Abstract Heart and got a #59 R&B entry with the instrumental "3 O'Clock Jump." Hip-hop and techno was explored on 1991's North on South St., which generated another R&B chart instrumental with the Grammy-nominated title track (#40). In 1992, he recorded a jazz album called Midnight Sun. It was his last album on his own A&M label, which he had sold and finally left soon after releasing the LP. Alpert continued to push out albums and along the way added five more Grammy nominations to his total. He would win his eighth Grammy in 2013 for his album Steppin' Out, on which he collaborated with his wife, Brazil '66 vocalist Lani Hall. The LP won for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

"Who's That Girl" by Madonna

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3192
Date:  07/11/1987
Debut:  43
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Soundtrack



Pop Bits:  Right on the heels of three #1s and two Top 10s from her third album True Blue, Madonna was ready with new music for consumption. This time it was in the form of songs from a movie soundtrack. The screwball comedy Who's That Girl would be Madonna's third starring role in a film and of course it provided an opportunity to make more money for Madonna, the movie studio, and her label via a soundtrack album. Madonna would record four songs for the film, two co-written and co-produced with Stephen Bray and two with Patrick Leonard, which included this first single. The song debuted just outside the Pop Top 40 and then headed straight to #1. It would be Madonna's sixth single to top the chart and in doing so she took the lead in the 80s for most #1s in the decade. She also became the first female artist to score six #1s. Even though the album had five tracks by other artists, including Scritti Politti and Club Nouveau, the soundtrack was credited to Madonna. It reached #7 and would be a platinum seller. The song would get a Grammy nod for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.

ReduxReview:  Madonna's previous single, "La Isla Bonita," had a bit of a Spanish influence to it, so it was a bit surprising that she would continue that on this next single, especially when it had nothing to do with the movie. I guess it was just one of the many phases that Madonna went through. I wasn't the biggest fan of "La Isla Bonita," but it was far better than this track. I'd easily put this last on a list that ranked Madonna's #1s. It would most likely be last for Top 10s as well. It is definitely one of her most forgettable hits. It played like an extension of "Bonita," but less interesting or even committed. It sounded like a tossed together one-off track, which it basically was - "hey, I need a couple songs for a movie, bring something to the studio and we'll figure it out." It ended up being a hit thanks to Madonna's star power at the time and associated tour (and most likely not due to the film...), but when was the last time you heard this song? Or even wanted to? Musically, it was a dip in the road for Madonna and it would take her over two years before she would set aside all the movie and other fame crap and return with music that was profound and passionate.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Madonna's film track record was 50/50 with 1985's Desperately Seeking Susan being a hit and 1986's Shanghai Surprise tanking. She needed to rebound with something good to help better establish her viability as a box office draw. Who's That Girl seemed like the ticket with Madonna capitalizing on her comedic acting skills. Unfortunately, both critics and film goers weren't impressed and the movie became Madonna's second bomb in a row. She would end up "winning" the Golden Raspberry award for Worst Actress. Madonna's next film was in the 1989 ensemble comedy Bloodhounds of Broadway. It barely eked out any money at the box office. However, she would finally dig herself out of the acting hole with 1990's Dick Tracy.

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Saturday, July 11, 2020

"Love Power" by Dionne Warwick & Jeffrey Osborne

Song#:  3191
Date:  07/11/1987
Debut:  66
Peak:  12
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary



Pop Bits:  Warwick's 1985 album Friends was a gold-selling #12 hit mainly thanks to the Grammy-winning #1 charity single "That's What Friends Are For." The album helped to repair and reignite her working relationship with Burt Bacharach, who (along with Hal David) wrote and produced many of her earlier hits. This time around Bacharach was working with his wife Carole Bayer Sager and they wrote/produced half of Warwick's Friends album. The trio then decided to continue their work together on Warwick's next LP Reservations for Two. Bacharach and Sager would contribute three songs to the album including this first single. The duet with Jeffrey Osborne hit all the right notes at AC and it easily topped that chart. It also got to #5 at R&B while just missing out on the Pop Top 10. While it was a solid hit, it didn't necessarily translate to sales of the album, which topped out at #32 R&B/#56 Pop. Unfortunately, it would prove to be Warwick's last single to make the Pop Top 40 and last album to crack the Pop Top 100. Oddly, this song would also be Osborne's last to hit the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  Even though I liked this song when it came out, I was quite surprised it did so well on the Pop chart. It was a sophisticated track that was perfect for AC radio, but I didn't think it was current or "hip" enough to lure in younger listeners at pop radio. Let's face it; Bacharach wrote hits in the 50s, Warwick had her big streak of hits in the 60s, and Osborne's music attracted a more mature crowd. How the heck were they gonna get airtime next to Madonna and Bon Jovi? But sometimes a good song is a good song and if it was meant to be, it will break through. This one has a lot of latter-day Bacharach touches with the odd phrasing and added measures, but he always seemed to make it work. I always kind of chuckled at the first line of this song, "Saw s psychic in L.A.," because only a couple years later Warwick would be hawking the Psychic Friends Network. I'm guessing Bacharach/Bayer Sager wrote that line with Warwick in mind since Warwick had been seeking advice/readings from psychics and astrologists since at least the early 70s.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While not necessarily a concept album, several tracks on Warwick's Reservations for Two did feature a second vocalist. In addition to Jeffrey Osborne on this single, Warwick recorded tracks with Kashif, Smokey Robinson, Howard Hewitt, and June Pointer. There would be three singles released from the album and all three were duet tracks. Also on the album was the song "No One in the World." Warwick had originally recorded the track for her 1985 album Finder of Lost Loves. Although it was the lead off track on the LP, it was not issued out as a single. The following year the song was picked up by Anita Baker. She recorded it for her LP Rapture. Perhaps seeing that Baker's album was shaping up to be a major hit, Warwick chose to include her version of the song on Reservations for Two. Whether or not she had intentions of trying to release it as a single is unknown, but she was beaten to the punch anyway by Baker who released it in August of '87. It would #5 R&B/#9 AC/#44 Pop.

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Friday, July 10, 2020

"Wipeout!" by The Fat Boys and The Beach Boys

Song#:  3190
Date:  07/11/1987
Debut:  72
Peak:  12
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rap



Pop Bits:  This trio of Prince Markie Dee (Mark Morales), Kook Rock-Ski (Damon Wimbley), and Buff Love (Darren Robinson) first got together while attending the same junior high school in Brooklyn. Calling themselves The Disco 3, the trio sharpened their skills for a couple of years before entering into a big Coca-Cola-sponsored hip hop talent contest. The finals were held at Radio City Music Hall and The Disco 3 became the winners. The contest organizer ended up managing the teens and later on due to their physical statures renamed them The Fat Boys. The guys got hooked up with rapper Kurtis Blow who ended up producing their 1984 self-titled debut album. It ended up being a gold-selling success that got to #6 R&B/#48 Pop. A follow-up album, The Fat Boys Are Back, would be another gold record, but their third disc Big & Beautiful wasn't quite as well-received. Their manager thought the group could break through in a bigger way like Run-D.M.C. and came up with an idea to push them into the mainstream. He took a cue from Run-D.M.C.'s collaborative effort with Aerosmith, "Walk This Way," and got the Boys in the studio with the legendary Beach Boys. The two groups settled on doing a vocal version of the old instrumental hit "Wipe Out." It would be included on The Fat Boys' fourth album, Crushin'. The LP's first single, "Falling in Love," became their biggest entry at R&B to-date hitting #16. It was then that they decided to unleash their "Wipeout!" collaboration. It quickly became their first (and only) R&B Top 10 (#10). The tune then crossed over to the Pop chart where it nearly made the Top 10. The album would make it to #4 R&B/#8 Pop and reach platinum level sales. The hit was the major breakthrough the trio was looking for.

ReduxReview:  The Fat Boys were influential and always had a bit of a comedic side to their work, as did a lot of early hip hop artists. But at a time when other rappers were raising the stakes with stronger, more potent material, it seemed the Fat Boys got left behind and started to get tagged as a novelty rap act, thanks in part to this track and the Disorderlies film (see below). On the good side, they ended up with a big hit that brought them other opportunities. On the bad side, they got stuck repeating the formula, which pigeonholed them even further. Frankly, I hated this track when it came out. It was a goofy mashup of old school rap with an old school rock group (who's career was clinging to life at the time) on an old school surf song. I thought it was messy and unnecessary. I think perhaps they thought it would be a natural extension of "Walk This Way," but the problem was that Run-D.M.C.'s track was such a strong, inspired piece of work that it made this one seem like a parody. While others thought this was just a fun little lark to party to, I nearly considered it a step back for rap.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The basis for this song was the 1963 instrumental hit "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris. Their original version got to #2 on the Pop chart. The tune became popular again in 1966 and returned to the Pop chart where it got to #16.  2) Earlier in '87, The Fat Boys were hired on to star in a screwball comedy called Disorderlies, which would co-starred Oscar and Tony nominated actor Ralph Bellamy. The Boys had previously appeared in a couple of films, but this was the first one where they had the lead roles. Also hired in for a cameo appearance was The Beach Boys. It was on the set of the movie that The Fat Boys' manager introduced them to the other legendary Boys and planted the idea of a collaboration. The movie would be released in August of '87 and would be a modest hit.

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