Sunday, May 3, 2020

"Right Next Door (Because of Me)" by Robert Cray Band

Song#:  3122
Date:  05/16/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  80
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  The blues guitarist and his band scored a left-field hit with the #22 "Smoking Gun." The success of the song made the associated album Strong Persuader a Grammy-winning #13 platinum seller. To follow up that song, this second single was issued out. It didn't catch on as well and could only get to #27 at Rock and #80 Pop. Regardless of the results, the fact that the first single was a hit and that a blues album went platinum in the 80s was a big deal. It didn't necessarily pave the way for other blues artists to have hits, but it did get a younger generation interested in the genre, which helped put a spotlight on other blues musicians.

ReduxReview:  This is a good track and perhaps the best one to follow up "Smoking Gun," but it just wasn't as catchy or memorable as that hit. It was highly unlikely that Cray or even his label thought the album would do so well and even generate a hit, so I'm sure when the LP was assembled the focus wasn't on creating tracks with mainstream chart appeal, so this song not doing well was probably not a huge surprise. In the long run, it didn't matter. The first hit was enough to establish Cray's career and make the album sell over a million copies.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Before "Smoking Gun" became a hit, Cray was already a well-respected Grammy-winning musician. In the fall of '86, Cray was given the opportunity to perform in a film. Director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman) was heading up a concert documentary about the legendary Chuck Berry. For the film, two concerts given by Chuck Berry to celebrate his 60th birthday were set up in St. Louis, Berry's hometown. Backing Berry would be a sort of all-star band assembled by The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards. The main band was made up of Berry, Richards, Eric Clapton, and Berry's former piano player/collaborator Johnnie Johnson. Others would be invited to perform alongside Berry and the band including Etta James, Julian Lennon, and Linda Ronstadt. Richards reached out to Cray and asked him to play as well. Cray would supply guitar and vocals on several songs during the concerts. The documentary also featured commentary from contemporaries like Bo Diddley and Little Richard. Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll was released in the fall of '87. It received good notices, but it didn't do all that well at the box office even taking into account it was a documentary. The film is famous for spotlighting Berry's off stage prickly personality.


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