Tuesday, June 16, 2020

"These Times Are Hard for Lovers" by John Waite

Song#:  3166
Date:  06/20/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  53
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Waite's third album Mask of Smiles made it to #36, but that was a bit of a disappointment coming on the heels of his 1984 gold-selling #10 LP No Brakes that featured the #1 hit "Missing You." Waite needed to turn things around so for his next effort, Rover's Return, he sought help from a few top songwriters including Diane Warren, Dan Hartman, and Desmond Child, who co-wrote and co-produced this first single. The track got a positive reaction on rock radio and it ended up reaching #6 on the Rock chart. At Pop, the news wasn't so great. The tune spent quite a bit of time on the chart, but it just couldn't break through in a big way and it stalled before reaching the Top 50. The result had an effect on sales of the album. It would fizzle out at #77 making it the lowest peaking of his four solo discs.

ReduxReview:  You can practically see Desmond Child's fingerprints all over this song. The near-chanting chorus with those high-pitched background vocals were a direct reflection of songs Child had written/produced for artists like Bonnie Tyler and Bon Jovi. Having Child on board did give Waite a much needed boost, but it wasn't quite enough to secure him a hit. The tune did well at Rock, but for some reason it just couldn't catch fire at Pop, although it certainly tried spending 16 weeks on the chart. My guess is that Waite just couldn't get passed the legacy of "Missing You." He was best known for that MOR ballad, but at heart he was a rocker and he just wasn't able to come up with the right song to bridge that 80s classic and his tougher tunes. This was a good attempt and appropriate for a time when Bon Jovi was scoring hits, yet it seemed that a mainstream audience wanted the softer version of Waite, not the glam rocker.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The album was co-produced by Frank Filipetti. Filipetti was mainly an engineer/mixer who worked with many top artists including Foreigner, the Bangles, Carly Simon, and James Taylor. He would also take a spin in the producer's chair once in a while as he did for John Waite. It would be his production work for James Taylor that would earn Filipetti his first two Grammy awards. He co-produced Taylor's 1997 album Hourglass, which went on to win for Best Pop Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. Filipetti would then get involved in the recording of cast albums for Broadway shows. His work on those recordings would earn him five more Grammys. The shows he won for were Aida, Wicked, Monty Python's Spamalot, The Book of Mormon, and The Color Purple. He would get further nominations for three other shows, Newsies, Motown the Musical, and Aladdin.


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