Tuesday, June 23, 2020

"Jane's Getting Serious" by Jon Astley

Song#:  3173
Date:  06/20/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  77
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  This UK engineer/producer made a name for himself when he co-produced The Who's classic 1978 album Who Are You. More work followed with The Who and for artists like Eric Clapton, Corey Hart, Marilyn Martin, and Roger Daltrey. In 1987, he got an offer from Atlantic Records to sign on as a solo artist. Astley took the chance and began work on a debut album titled Everyone Loves the Pilot (Except the Crew). Astley would write/co-write all the tracks and program much of the music via the Fairlight sampler, at which Astley had become adept. However, he deferred production duties to Andy MacPherson and Phil Chapman. This first single was released and it found a home on Rock radio and got to #7 on that chart. The song crossed over to Pop, but it didn't fully catch on remaining in the bottom quarter of the chart for several weeks. The album would top out at #135.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure where I heard this song, but I'm guessing it was MTV as I remember the video, which featured Astley as a pilot who crashed in the jungle. It also had a trio of background dancers dressed as apes. Oh yeah. It worked. I loved the song and bought the single. The arrangement was cool, the production was hot and I really liked Astley's quirky, rough voice, which was similar to that of another producer/artist Rupert Hine. It was also catchy and memorable. I was highly disappointed at the time that the song petered out early. It really should have been a bigger hit. Now it is kind of a lost gem of the decade. For someone who didn't include being a recording artist as part of their goals (see below), Astley certainly tossed out a pretty cool debut single. It was also one that was featured in a Heinz ketchup commercial that starred a pre-Friends Matt LeBlanc.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) By the end of the year another Astley from the UK, Rick, would begin his streak of hits. However, the two Astley's were not related. Oddly, the two artists with the same last name just happened to kick off their solo careers in the same year. Although Jon was not related to Rick, Jon was for a while related to another famous musician. Jon's sister Karen was married to Who guitarist Pete Townshend. They wed in 1968 and separated in 1994. The connection to Townshend came in handy later when Jon got the chance to work with The Who.  2) Astley didn't have his sites set on being a recording artist himself. He was happy with his career behind-the-scenes and didn't seek the limelight. That changed one day when after finishing off his work on Marilyn Martin's debut album he was called in to the Atlantic Records office by its president. Astley was fearful that he had really messed something up, but instead he was asked if he'd like to record a solo album. It seems that the label head was impressed with Astley's work and thought there was a chance to turn the tech guy into a recording star. Astley ran with the offer and his first single became a #7 Rock hit.

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