Saturday, January 25, 2020

"The Lady in Red" by Chris De Burgh

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3023
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  3
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Irish singer/songwriter De Burgh had been recording albums since 1974, but it wasn't until his 1982 album The Getaway that he began to breakthrough in the US. The LP featured the #29 Rock/#34 Pop single "Don't Pay the Ferryman." His next album, Man on the Line, gave him is second US chart track with "High on Emotion" (#3 Rock/#43 Pop). But this ballad from his next album, Into the Light, would end up being the biggest hit of his career. It would reach #1 in several countries including the UK. It would also do very well in the US getting to #3 on the Pop chart while making it to #2 at AC. The hit would drive his album up to #25. Unfortunately, De Burgh wasn't able to follow-up the song in the US. His next single, "Fatal Hesitation," would get to #20 at AC, but failed to make the Pop chart. His next album, 1988's Flying Colours, generated a couple of minor AC entries, but nothing reached the Pop chart. His fortunes dwindled after that, which made "The Lady in Red" his last song to reach the US Pop chart. De Burgh did better back at home in the UK where Flying Colors hit #1. He would continue to record over the years with several of his album making the UK Top 10. Back in the US, he just became the guy who hit it big with "The Lady in Red."

ReduxReview:  This became one of those love it or loath it songs. Some people found it endearing and romantic while others thought it was just a big piece of schmaltz soaked in sickly sweet syrup. I fell a bit in between the two sides. I preferred the contemporary rock tunes on his previous two albums, so this gooey ballad wasn't what I expected or wanted from De Burgh. However, I did recognize that the song had a sappy, universal appeal that was a little hard to resist if you were in the right mood. I'm not a fan of the tune and I grew tired of it real quick back in the day, but I don't hate it either. It's one of those songs that when it comes on I think "oh," But then by the end of it I find myself swaying back 'n' forth a bit with a moony look on my face.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Into the Light album also contained the ballad "For Rosanna." De Burgh wrote the song for his then two-year-old daughter. Rosanna Davison (Davison was Chris De Burgh's real last name, he adopted his mother's family name for his stage name) entered and won the title of Miss Ireland in 2003. That allowed her to complete at the Miss World pageant later in December, 2003. She ended up winning the pageant becoming the first contestant from Ireland to ever take the title.


Friday, January 24, 2020

"Dominoes" by Robbie Nevil

Song#:  3022
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  14
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Nevil scored his first Pop Top 10 solo hit with "C'est la Vie," the lead single from his self-titled debut album. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It appeared like the tune might follow "C'est la Vie" into the Top 10, but then it stopped just a bit short. It was also a minor entry on the Dance chart at #22. While it wasn't a major hit, it did well enough to extend sales of the album, which had already peaked at #37.

ReduxReview:  I think this song was a bit of a risky follow-up. "C'est la Vie" was a fun and bouncy tune that introduced folks to Nevil. It set the tone for his career and it seemed like a logical follow-up might keep him going down that path. Instead, we got this dark track that leaned a bit towards rock. It could have easily tanked because it was nothing like "C'est la Vie," but luckily it was strong enough to hold its own and it ended up doing quite well. At the time I was certainly tired of "C'est la Vie," so when "Dominoes" came out it sounded fresh and different. I didn't buy "C'est la Vie," but I bought this single. I still like it and would actually prefer to hear it over "C'est la Vie."

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After his solo career waned in the early 90s, Nevil continued in the business writing songs for other artists. Connections led him over to the Disney studios in 2005 where he began to co-write songs for a new TV movie musical project. To be aired on the Disney Channel, High School Musical starred newcomers Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale and was directed by Kenny Ortega. Nevil would co-write five songs for the musical. It debuted in January of 2016 and became an instant smash. The soundtrack would follow suit hitting #1 and selling over four million copies. The movie would spawn two sequels and Nevil would co-write songs for both soundtracks.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

"Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You" by Glenn Medeiros

Song#:  3021
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  12
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This Hawaiian-born artist first started singing as a kid entertaining people on his dad's tour bus in Kauai. By the age of 16, his voice was strong enough to win a statewide talent competition. One of the prizes that came with being a winner was the opportunity to go into the studio and record a song. Medeiros then recorded the song he sang in the competition, "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You." It became a local hit and then started to spread to the mainland thanks to a visiting DJ who was introduced to the single while in Hawaii. The tune began picking up airplay and it wasn't long before Medeiros was in the studio recording a full-length debut album. The song's popularity slowly spread from coast to coast and it eventually did well enough to nearly crack the Pop Top 10. It would do even better at AC getting to #4. The tune expanded further over to Europe and it became a #1 hit in the UK and a few other countries. His self-titled debut album would then sell a few copies and reach #83.

ReduxReview:  Here's another saccharine ballad courtesy of songwriter Michael Masser (see below). He was an expert at crafting these treacly tunes that had mass appeal. Masser knew how to write memorable, easy to digest pop melodies that featured big, hooky choruses. Extra sugar was added in via lyricists he worked with like Gerry Goffin, Carol Bayer Sager, and Cynthia Weil. Sometimes his tunes were a bit too sickly sweet, but other times the songs were nicely balanced. This tune was one that worked pretty well. I was particularly attracted to the chorus, which was deceptively difficult. There was quite a bit of melody to sing and it hopped around with even an octave jump tossed in. The tune especially got tricky the second time around with a couple of key changes added for effect. Medeiros earnestly handles it well. He didn't have the most forceful or unique voice, but for a teenager he did well in capturing the nuances of the song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by George Benson. Benson recorded the track for his 1985 gold-selling 20/20 album. It was not released as a single in the US. Apparently, Medeiros was a Benson fan and chose to sing the song in the talent competition. When it came time to record a song after his win, it was suggested he just record his winning tune. Michael Masser had co-written the song with Gerry Goffin and it was picked up by Benson. Masser had also co-written (with Linda Creed) another song that Benson had first recorded, but was then turned into a hit by another artist, "Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston. It was thought that perhaps Medeiros could also take a Benson album track and turn it into a hit. He did and it put Medeiros' career in high gear.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

"Serious" by Donna Allen

Song#:  3020
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  21
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Floridian Donna Allen was first put in the spotlight as a cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it was her time with the Tampa-based funk/soul group Trama that kickstarted her music career. The band would release one self-titled album in 1977 that featured Allen on lead vocals. After Trama split, Allen continued to sing with various bands before getting the opportunity to sign a record deal as a solo artist. She signed on with 21 Records and began work on a debut album that would be titled Perfect Timing. This track would be the LP's first single and it would take off to become a solid hit at R&B getting to #5. Its popularity would spread over to the Pop chart where it just missed out on the Top 20. A second single, "Satisfied," would do well at R&B reaching #14, but it failed to make the Pop chart. Her second album, 1988's Heaven on Earth, would do pretty well with three of its singles getting on the R&B chart including the #3 "Joy and Pain," a remake of a 1980 Maze track from their album of the same name. After that, her career cooled off and she spent time doing background vocals for other artist including Miami Sound Machine.

ReduxReview:  This slammin' track was a surprise for me back in the day. On occasion, there would be a song that made the Top 40 that for one reason or another I didn't get to hear. When that would happen, I would sometimes go to the record store and buy the single just to hear it. Sometimes I wouldn't like the tune, but other times I would. That's what happened with this one. I bought the 45 without knowing what it was and ended up liking it. Allen, who was a co-writer on the song, had some good attitude going and the production was solid. It sounded great on my stereo. This little jam has kind of gotten lost over the years. It was fun to hear it again.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  NBC's hit reality competition show The Voice is open to nearly everyone and that even includes former hit makers trying to revive their careers. Donna Allen was one of those hopefuls in the show's fifth season in 2013. Allen went on the show billed as just "Donna" and her past career wasn't initially a discussion point. She got a two-chair turn and ended up on Adam Levine's team. Unfortunately, in her first knock-out round she was defeated. However, she could at least take solace that the person who knocked her off the show, Tessanne Chin, would end up being that season's winner. An even more popular former hitmaker would nearly win the show. Country singer Billy Gilman, whose 2000 debut album sold over two million copies (and he was eleven years old at the time), would try out for the show in 2016. He got a four-chair turn and ended up on Adam Levine's team. Gilman would make it to the finals, but in the end was edged out by Sundance Head (son of another former hitmaker, Roy Head) for the win.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

"Power" by Kansas

Song#:  3019
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  84
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Kansas scored their first Pop Top 20 hit since 1982 with "All I Wanted," the first single from their album Power. The song also did well at Rock (#10) and AC (#14). To follow it up, this next track was selected for release. It didn't catch on nearly as well peaking at #38 on the Rock chart while not able to get out of the basement at Pop. It would end up being the band's final song to reach the Pop chart. Their next album, 1988's In the Spirit of Things, failed to do much of anything with only "Stand Beside Me" getting to #13 at Rock. The LP would be their last for a major label. The band would continue to record and tour over the years with the lineup constantly changing over time.

ReduxReview:  This song is kind of like two different ones stitched together. The verse has a softer rock feel and nearly sounds like Survivor while the chorus moves into arena rock territory and infringes on John Parr territory. Then there is a little prog rock bridge for no real reason. The individual parts aren't too bad, but I don't think they go together and the song never gels into something that feels consistent and complete. They probably wanted to appeal to their rock audience after the AC-leaning "All I Wanted," but this wasn't the right song for the job.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  A third single, "Can't Cry Anymore," was released from the album, but it failed to chart. The power ballad was a cover of a song originally recorded by the new wave/power pop band The Producers. It appeared on their 1985 third album Run for Your Life. The Atlanta-based band got signed to Portrait Records and released a couple of albums for them in 1981 and 1982. After their debut album had a promising start with the #61 "What She Does to Me," their second album tanked and Portrait dropped them. Three years later, the indie release Run for Your Life was pushed out. It didn't do much business, but the track "Can't Cry Anymore" ended up over in the Kansas camp. A video that featured comedian Richard Belzer was shot for the Kansas version of the song, but it didn't help sell the tune.


Monday, January 20, 2020

"Walking Down Your Street" by The Bangles

Song#:  3018
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  95
Peak:  11
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The third single from the band's album Different Light, "Walk Like an Egyptian," was a surprise #1 hit that ended up being the top charting single of 1986. A follow-up single was needed and this next track was selected. It nearly became their third Pop Top 10, but it stopped just short at the dreaded #11 spot. The song also made a minor #33 showing at AC. It would be the last single released from the album, which would eventually be a triple-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This was the last track available on the LP that hadn't been released as a single where Susanna Hoffs sang the lead vocal, so it was inevitable that the label was going to push this out as a single as they were beginning to promote her as the face/leader of the group. Yet despite being a label ploy, the tune was the proper choice for a follow-up. None of the remaining tracks with other members handling the lead vocals were single contenders, so this jaunty, fun tune had to get the job done. It indeed did by nearly cracking the Top 10. Was it as memorable as their other hits? Nope. But it helped extend the life of the album for a bit longer.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by band member Susanna Hoffs along with Louis Gutierrez and producer David Keane. It was the first Bangles song to hit the Pop chart where at least one member was credited as a writer. Hoffs and Gutierrez had been in a relationship and both had bands that were considered part of the Paisley Underground genre of music. Hoffs was in The Bangs (later The Bangles) while Gutierrez was in The Three O'Clock, whose lead singer/songwriter Michael Quercio actually coined the term Paisley Underground. Just as The Bangles' career was taking off, The Three O'Clock signed with I.R.S. Records and issued out their 1985 album Arrived Without Traveling. The well-received disc included a song that Querico co-wrote called "The Girl with the Guitar (Says Oh Yeah)." It was inspired by Susanna Hoffs. After a second I.R.S. album failed to gain an audience, Hoffs then recommended the band to Prince, who signed them to his Paisley Park label (Guitierrez was no longer in the band by this point). A 1988 album was released that included a Prince composition, but nothing much came from the disc and the band split.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

"Ship of Fools (Save Me from Tomorrow)" by World Party

Song#:  3017
Date:  02/14/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  27
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  World Party wasn't really a band since it mainly consisted of just one member, Wales-born musician Karl Wallinger. Wallinger was a keyboardist who was in and out of several bands before being asked to join up with the Scottish folk-rock outfit The Waterboys. He stayed with them for a couple of albums including their UK breakthrough, 1985's This Is the Sea, which included the #26 UK hit "The Whole of the Moon." Feeling creatively restricted by being in a band that he didn't help create, Wallinger decided to leave The Waterboys and strike out on his own. He inked a deal with the same label The Waterboys were on, Chrysalis, and began recording songs at his home studio. With the exception of a few guest musicians, Wallinger played all the instruments himself and wrote all the songs (save for one co-write and a Bob Dylan cover). The finished product was titled Private Revolution and the title track was initially released as a first single in the UK in 1986. It didn't get anywhere, but this second single got some attention and it nearly cracked the UK Top 40 (#42). The song was also promoted in the US and it ended up getting to #5 on the Rock chart. That led to the tune crossing over to the Pop chart where it broke into the Top 30. The single helped the album get to #39. A follow-up album, 1990's Goodbye Jumbo would do very well with critics, but none of its singles would make the Pop chart (two would be minor entries at Rock). A third disc, 1993's Bang!, would be his biggest hit in the UK getting to #2, but it failed to make an impression in the US. Wallinger would continue to perform and record as World Party over the years, but this song would remain his only one to crack the US Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This is one I haven't heard in a long time. It starts off with a cool blues-rock piano riff and then moves into a more straight-ahead, memorable chorus complete with "woo-hoo-hoo's." The production is meaty and Wallinger's voice fits is all very well. It was a terrific alt-rock track that had enough commercial appeal to send it into the Pop Top 30.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) A couple of songs on Private Revolution would feature a soon-to-be famous singer/songwriter. The title track and "Hawaiian Island World" would include vocals by an unknown Irish artist by the name of SinĂ©ad O'Connor. O'Connor and Wallinger were on the same label and O'Connor was also beginning to prep her debut album, The Lion and the Cobra,, on which Wallinger would lend a hand. O'Connor would also do some background vocal work on Goodbye Jumbo before bursting into stardom with her 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got.  2) For World Party's 1997 album Egyptology, Wallinger wrote and recorded the song "She's the One." It wasn't issued out as a single, but it ended up getting recorded by UK star Robbie Williams for his second album, 1998's I've Been Expecting You. It was pushed out as the LP's fourth single and it would be Williams' second UK #1.