Saturday, February 15, 2020

"Boy Toy" by Tia

Song#:  3044
Date:  03/07/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  97
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This singer from Long Island was supposedly discovered while dancing in a club by a local NYC DJ and his wife. The DJ, Jim "Chopper" Cohn, had some music business and studio experience and thought that the teenager could be a viable dance-pop artist and convinced her to sign with his production company. Their first effort was this single that was co-written and co-produced by Cohn. The tune was pitched around and RCA Records decided to bite and release the record. It took off in the clubs and by February of '87 it had reached #6 on the Dance chart. That gave it momentum to cross over to Pop, but it would only be for a very brief two-week stay. It was enough for RCA to call for an album and while that was being readied, Tia released two more singles, a remake of Alisha's #1 Dance hit "Baby Talk" and "Cupid." Neither charted and due to those results, the associated album Sugar-N-Spice got shelved and that ended Tia's major label days.

ReduxReview:  You can pretty much lump Tia in with all the other Madonna-wannabes from the time period. I mean, it's pretty obvious when you record a song titled after an iconic Like a Virgin era piece of fashion and the song has a similar dance-pop feel of Madonna's True Blue album. At least Tia's voice was different from Madonna's, although there were a few inflections on this track that are certainly reminiscent of Madge. It got doubly crazy when Tia covered a song ("Baby Talk") from another Madonna-a-like Alisha. Weirdly, Alisha ended up on RCA just about the same time Tia was leaving. I think the label was starved for a Madonna of their own and took a chance on several. For what it is, this song is not all that bad (it's not all that good either). Tia's voice seems a bit stronger than the average Madonna-wannabe and the chorus is hooky. Still, it all seemed just a bit too manufactured and while it may have drawn folks to the dance floor, it wasn't nearly strong enough to claw its way up the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) It seems that Tia had some success in France. Her singles were released there and apparently she was popular enough that two other records were released as well. "Sugar Baby" came out in 1988 while "Dance to the Music" came out in 1992. Later in 2010, her singles and material that was to be included on her debut album were gathered and released on a collection titled Absolutely.  2) After her days as a dance-pop diva, Tia turned to rock music and began fronting a few bands. Since 2010 she has been with the New Jersey hard rock band Sinsanity. They released an album in 2012 titled The Machine.


Friday, February 14, 2020

"Hold Me" by Colin James Hay

Song#:  3043
Date:  03/07/1987
Debut:  99
Peak:  99
Weeks:  1
Genre:  Pop, Rock, World

Pop Bits:  The Australian band Men at Work hit it big in 1981 with their #1 debut album Business As Usual. The multi-platinum LP would be followed by a second one, Cargo. However, they experienced a sharp decline with their gold third effort Two Hearts and turmoil within the band didn't help. By 1986, the band was done. Lead singer Colin Hay decided to step out on his own for a solo career. He signed with the band's home label of Columbia and put together a debut solo album titled Looking for Jack. This first single was released, but it didn't do much to establish Hay's career. The song topped out at #41 at Rock while only hitting a very minor #99 on the Pop chart for one week. Further singles failed to chart and that left the album peaking at #126. This song would end up being Hay's only one to reach any US chart. Hay would continue to record solo works over the years and for a period of time beginning in 1996, Hay and his former bandmate Greg Ham would tour with a new version of Men at Work. Hay's thirteenth solo album Fierce Mercy was released in 2017.

ReduxReview:  Hay was Men at Work's main songwriter, so going solo was a challenge because he had to create an identity of his own without sounding like the LP was just an extension of Men at Work. He certainly gave it a good try with this first single. Instead of the concise pop he wrote for Men at Work, he went big with this worldbeat influenced track. It sounded as if Paul Simon (in Graceland mode) met up with Phil Collins. The track took a minute or so to get warmed up, but by the time the chorus hit, the song was in full gear. It ended up being quite a nice song. Unfortunately, it was one that just wasn't going to be a major Pop chart contender. Despite that, it really should have done better than a measly week at #99.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Hay's music would appear in several films and TV shows. He has even appeared in a few of them including four appearances on the hit TV show Scrubs. It was there that Hay met actor Zach Braff. In 2004, Braff would include a song by Hay, "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You," on the soundtrack to Braff's film, Garden State. Braff wrote, directed and starred in the movie. The soundtrack would end up being a platinum seller that would go on to win the Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

"Come As You Are" by Peter Wolf

Song#:  3042
Date:  02/29/1987
Debut:  71
Peak:  15
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This former J. Geils Band lead singer started off his solo career on a good note with his 1984 debut LP Lights Out going to #24 and generating the #12 title track (#6 Rock). Three years later he returned with his follow-up effort Come As You Are. The title track would be issued out as the lead single and it did excellent at Rock reaching the #1 spot. It also did well on the Pop chart becoming his second Top 20 entry. Yet despite the hit, the album didn't sell as well as his debut and it stalled at a low #53.

ReduxReview:  A simple, but effective guitar lick starts this rock raver. It's a party song with a hooky chorus that even includes some "woo-woo" background vocals. The production is nice-n-beefy with a great band and hot sax solo. This is a song you can hear on a cruddy day and it will immediately perk you up. I liked this tune when it first came out, but for some reason I didn't pick up the single or the album, which was a mistake. I really liked his previous LP Lights Out so it's weird I didn't grab this one. Might have been finance limitations at the time, as was often the case back in my college days. The video for this song is awesome (see below) and between that and this song, if you don't wanna hop around and party, you just don't have this cranked up enough.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:   The video for this song pay homage to a scene from an old movie musical. The 1953 film Small Town Girl starred Jane Powell, Farley Granger, and Ann Miller. It featured several musical numbers including "My Flaming Heart," which was sung by Nat King Cole in a guest appearance. That song would be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Two other staged musical numbers would actually outlive the film. Ann Miller tapped her way across a stage in "I've Gotta Hear That Beat" where the floor was full of disembodied arms/hands playing various musical instrument. It became one of Miller's most famous routines. The second one had co-star Bobby Van literally hoping around town during an instrumental version of the film's song "Take Me to Broadway." In the scene, Van emerges from a house and proceeds to hop to the beat of the music. He hops all about the town encountering traffic, hedges, dogs, and various people. He also hops by a billboard advertising the 1952 Lana Turner film The Merry Widow. For the video of "Come As You Are," Wolf recreates the scene and hops around a 1950's town. He also happens to hop past a billboard poster of a movie, but this time around it was an ad for the film he was paying homage to, Small Town Girl.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"I Will Be There" by Glass Tiger

Song#:  3041
Date:  02/28/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  34
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  With a pair of Top 10 hits and a gold album, Glass Tiger made a splashy debut that earned them a Grammy nod for Best New Artist. Just as this third single from the album was being released, the band would end up losing that award to Bruce Hornsby and the Range. Regardless, this song made its way up the Pop chart and was able to get inside the Top 40. It also made it to #21 at Rock. In their homeland of Canada, the song would be the last single from the LP and would reach #29. The band certainly made their mark and now had to get back into the studio to record a follow-up.

ReduxReview:  After the shuffle-pop of "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" (#2) and the mid-tempo balladry of "Someday" (#7), the band chose to release this straight-ahead arena rock tune. As with "Don't Forget Me," it featured an assist on vocals from Bryan Adams. The track has a nice, urgent feel with a solid chorus. It was a good choice for a single, but it wasn't one that was going to get much further than it did.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  While Glass Tiger's debut album The Thin Red Line would be a #27 gold seller in the US, back in their homeland of Canada it became a major hit. It would reach #3 and go 4x platinum (which equates to over 400,000 copies) and spend over a year on the chart. The LP would spawn five charting singles, three of which made the US Pop chart. The two other songs to make the Canadian chart were "Thin Red Line" and "You're What I Look For." They reached #19 and #11, respectively. It would also go on to win four Juno Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) including Album of the Year. The album quickly made them major stars in Canada.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

"Sexappeal" by Georgio

Song#:  3040
Date:  02/28/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  58
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  This singer/songwriter was born in San Francisco as Georgio Allentini, but grew up in Minneapolis. He was heavily influenced by Prince and Minneapolis sound and eventually wrote and produced his own demo and submitted it to Prince hoping to get on his Paisley Park label. While it seems there was interest from the Prince camp, it ended up not working out. Georgio then took off to L.A. and while there took his demo tape to L.A.'s KJLH radio station in order to get it played on their local amateur music day lineup. His song "Sexappeal" got played and phones lit up. He then financed and properly recorded the song to be issued out as a 12" single. It got distributed by Macola Records and ended up selling well enough to capture the attention of Motown Records. They basically let Georgio write, produce, arrange, and pretty much play everything on his debut album titled Sexappeal. The title track was formally issued on Motown as the LP's first single. It did well enough to reach #16 at R&B. It crossed over to Pop where it got near the Top 50 mark. A remix of the song would make it to #8 on the Dance chart.

ReduxReview:  I guess back in the day folks thought this was a new Prince single. Indeed, it certainly did have a lot of Princely references, but I think it was a little too dance oriented to really be a total knock off of the Purple One. Still, the Minneapolis sound is apparent with even the "whaaatt!" yell in the song referencing The Time and Jam & Lewis. Overall it's not too bad of a tune. I think I'm more impressed that Georgio pretty much did everything on this track with the production sounding pretty good and detailed. There's not much depth to Georgio's voice, but it works just fine for this style of song. I'm not surprised it didn't do all that well at Pop. I'm sure the title along with all the female moans and such turned off a few radio programmers.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  It's not fully clear what happened with Georgio and Prince's Paisley Park label. The more common story is that the label was interested in Georgio, but only as a singer. That meant that he would probably be the face/voice for more music from Prince and wouldn't have the opportunity to record his own music. Since that wasn't what Georgio was looking for, he declined any invitations to join the label and remained on his own. Another little blurb stated that the label made an offer, but that Georgio wanted more money to sign on. When he didn't get it, he split. The first story is more likely, but it could also be a combo of the two. Whatever happened, it took a few years but Georgio was able to sign with a major label and secure a hit.


Monday, February 10, 2020

"Show Me" by The Cover Girls

Song#:  3039
Date:  02/28/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  44
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Latin Freestyle

Pop Bits:  This NYC female vocal trio was formed by producer/songwriter Andy "Panda" Tripoli along with dance club and record label owner Sal Abbatiello. With dance-oriented female vocal groups on the rise and finding success, the pair thought they could create their own. They hired on Caroline Jackson, Sunshine Wright, and Louise "Angel" Sabater. The trio's first effort was this track that was released as a 12" single on Abbatiello's Fever Records late in '86. It began to get attention and was soon climbing the Dance chart. Sensing that interest was growing, Fever quickly created a 7" single and started to promote it at radio. A week before the song peaked at #4 on the Dance chart, it debuted on the Pop chart. The indie release slowly caught on in various markets and it eventually peaked just outside the Top 40. However, it stayed on the chart for a lengthy eighteen weeks, which was something normally reserved for Top 10's and #1's. The trio went back into the studio to record a self-titled debut album that would be released later in '87.

ReduxReview:  Had this record been released and promoted by a major label, chances are it would have done much better on the Pop chart. Possibly even Top 10. However, since it was on an indie label with limited funds and connections, it got exposure in various cities at different times and that kept it lower on the chart while remaining on it for a long time. For me, the song didn't make that much of an impression. The vocals were not great. They were high-pitched and thin. Compared to voices in other female vocal groups at the time (several of which had very good vocalists), these three nearly sounded like teen girls at karaoke. The song itself was good, but I didn't find it very catchy. I think the draw here was the freestyle production, which was just beginning to hit the mainstream. It was lively and fun. You couldn't help but groove to it. Other than that, the song didn't impress me much.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Angel Sabater later married Carlos Clivillés, the brother of future C+C Music Factory member and hitmaker Robert Clivillés (note that Robert Clivillés and his C+C partner David Cole worked with The Cover Girls on their debut album). Sabater then went by Angel Clivillés. She left The Cover Girls in 1990 for a solo career. She finally got it kicked off with a non-charting single in 1998. The following year, her second single, "One More Chance," became a hit on the Dance chart getting to #7. She was then able to record a debut album titled Angel, which featured her next single, a remake of "Show Me." Her new cover would end up topping the Dance chart. The album didn't sell well and that pretty much ended her solo recording career.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

"Never Enough" by Patty Smyth

Song#:  3038
Date:  02/28/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  61
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After finding success in 1984 with "The Warrior" (#7 Pop), Patty Smyth's band Scandal dissolved amid inner turmoil. When that happened, Smyth was already working towards the next Scandal album, so she took that work and made it the basis for a debut solo album instead. The LP, titled Never Enough, would be preceded by this title-track first single. The song was a hit at Rock reaching #4, but it couldn't gain an audience at Pop and it stalled in the bottom half of the chart. In turn, the album would only get to #66. It was a bit of a disappointment following the platinum level success of Scandal's The Warrior album.

ReduxReview:  Here is a case where the remake (see below) far outshines the original. The original was an okay mid-70s pop/rock track that seemed to have good bones, but it just didn't soar. It was like crossing very early Styx with Bob Dylan and trying to make it commercially appealing. Years later after the writers and producer refined their crafts, they were able to revisit this track and make it much more appealing. The new lyrics are better, the altered bridge keeps the track more modern, and the beefy production and new arrangement gave it a radio-ready rock edge. The track was a hit at Rock, but I'm not sure why it didn't catch on at Pop. I would have pegged this for at least a Top 20 showing. It was a strong song with solid vocals by Smyth. Actually, this would have been a good fit for Cyndi Lauper as well (who Chertoff had produced). It's a bit of a lost gem.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This is an altered version of another song that was originally recorded by the band Baby Grand. It was written by band members David Kagan and Rob Hyman. The track appeared on the band's self-titled debut album in 1977. It was issued out as their first single, but it failed to chart. Baby Grand would put out one more album in 1978 before breaking up. Band members Rob Hyman and Eric Bazillian would then go on to greater success as member of The Hooters. They brought along with them their producer Rich Chertoff, who would later serve as the producer for Patty Smyth's debut album. Through Chertoff, Hyman and Bazillian came over to help on Smyth's album and it was suggested that she cover the Baby Grand tune "Never Enough." Chertoff, Hyman, Bazillian, and Smyth reworked the song and gave it new lyrics (all plus Kagan received songwriting credit). Smyth then recorded the song and it became her LP's title and lead single.