Saturday, March 21, 2020

"I'm No Angel" by Gregg Allman

Song#:  3079
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  49
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Southern Rock

Pop Bits:  As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman amassed three platinum and three gold studio albums. Their biggest hit came in 1973 with the #2 "Ramblin' Man." Over the years the band was plagued by internal struggles along with drug and alcohol abuse. There were deaths along the way including Gregg's brother and bandmate Duane who died in a motorcycle crash in 1971. The band would break up and reform several times over the years but they persevered and in 1995 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On occasion, Gregg would record solo albums. His first came with 1973's Laid Back, which was a gold seller thanks to the #19 hit "Midnight Rider." He released another less successful effort in 1977 and that same year he also pushed out a misguided duet album with his then-wife Cher. It would be a decade before Allman would issue out another solo effort. He signed with Epic Records and recorded his third solo disc I'm No Angel. This title track single would be released and it became a surprise hit at Rock reaching #1. That success spilled over to Pop and the song would just crack the Top 50. Two other songs from the LP would make the Rock chart and that helped it reach #30 and go gold. Allman would release a few more solo albums over the years including 2011's Low Country Blues, which reached #5. Allman would recover from his addictions in the mid-90s, but the usage took a toll on him and he ended up having a lot of health issues. He succumbed to liver cancer in 2017.

ReduxReview:  I'm not the biggest fan of Southern rock and I especially don't care for jam bands. The Allman Brothers were both, so I definitely didn't hook into them even though, thanks to classic rock radio, I knew and liked a few of their songs. I certainly didn't care for Gregg Allman, especially when he married one of my idols, Cher. What the hell was she thinking marrying that drugged-out hippie? It was all so weird - and yet so very Cher. I had zero interest in Gregg Allman before, during or after Cher, but then along came this song. I so hated to admit it, but I liked the dang tune. Allman gave the pop tune a little Southern rock flare and it was probably the most commercial leaning thing he had ever recorded. He even sounded really good. While it didn't make me a fan of Allman, I did enjoy the track and the album was a pretty good stab at 80s commercial rock.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While Allman was a songwriter who wrote some of the Allman Brothers' most famous tracks, he did not write this one. In fact, it is a remake. Written by Tony Colton and Phil Palmer, it was originally recorded by Bill Medley for his 1982 Richard Perry-produced solo album Right Here and Now. The song was not issued out as a single. Somehow, Allman discovered the tune and recorded a demo of it in the mid-80s. It was that demo that got him signed to Epic for a new solo album. Also on the album was a track by a future music superstar. Michael Bolton co-wrote "Can't Keep Running" with Martin Briley. Unlike some songs Bolton wrote early in his career for other artists, it seems he has never done a released version of the song himself. Same for Briley. Also of note, TV star Don Johnson supplied vocals for the track "Evidence of Love." He was friends with Allman and fellow Allman Brother bandmate Dickey Betts. Johnson had even co-written a tune that appeared on the Alllman Brothers' 1979 album Enlightened Rogues.


Friday, March 20, 2020

"One Simple Thing" by The Stabilizers

Spotlight Alert!

Song#:  3078
Date:  04/04/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  93
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This band from Erie, Pennsylvania, mainly consisted of lead singer Dave Christenson and guitarist/keyboardist Rich Nevens. The pair met up in 1984 after their respective previous bands had broken up. They hit it off musically and began working on songs. A couple of tunes they had recorded as demos made the local airwaves and became popular. They then hired in some side musicians and began to play the clubs. A friend of theirs hawked their tape to labels in New York and it caught the ear of Denny Diante, a producer at CBS Records. Diante caught one of the band's shows and liked what he saw. Christenson and Nevens eventually got signed to CBS and work began on a debut album titled Tyranny with Diante producing. The title track served as the first single, but it got nowhere. However, this second single made some waves and it picked up enough airplay to reach #21 on the Rock chart. The song was then able to cross over to Pop, but it could only manage a few short weeks near the bottom of the chart. Further singles didn't do anything and the album failed to chart. When CBS was scooped up by Sony, the duo got released from their contract and moved over to MCA Records. They recorded an album that was to be titled "Teasing Enrico," but after the LP was finished, changes at the label left the LP shelved and the band without a contract. Only one track saw the light of day. "Maybe This Time" ended up on the soundtrack to the 1991 Richard Grieco action-comedy flick If Looks Could Kill. The duo dissolved not long after their association with MCA ended. Sadly, Christenson died in 2017 from lung cancer.

ReduxReview:  I really don't know how I found this song. It was a low charter and I doubt I heard it on a local radio station. My guess is that I might have caught the video (directed by David Fincher before his movie career kicked in) on MTV. Somehow somewhere this song made an impression on me and I bought the single. I just loved it. The production was meaty, Christenson's vocal take was excellent, and the chorus was just explosive. It was always one of my favorite lost tunes from the decade. I still can't believe this wasn't a hit. Top 40 at minimum. I just wonder if it didn't get the push it deserved by CBS. After one failed single, they probably didn't put their best effort towards this one even though it was getting attention on Rock radio. While the balance of their album doesn't necessarily reach the levels of this track, it was a good LP with some worthwhile moments. I have to spotlight this song because it is a lost gem from the time.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The band got its name from a previous band that Rich Nevens had been in. During his college years at Penn State, Nevens was in a band called The Stabilizers. That band was able to record and issue out an indie self-titled debut in 1982. The band broke up when Nevens graduated and moved to Erie for a job. It was while he was in Erie that he met and began hanging out with Dave Christenson. When the pair decided to form a band, Nevens was able to reuse his former band's name.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

"Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3077
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  52
Peak:  5
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The last time Fleetwood Mac was on the Pop chart was 1982, the year they released their LP Mirage. A hiatus would follow that saw most band members pursuing solo projects. The break lasted so long that Stevie Nicks would record two solo discs. Lindsey Buckingham had released his second solo effort in 1984 and the following year was back in the studio working on more solo material including a song for the soundtrack to the hit film Back to the Future. Around the same time the rest of the Mac started to reconvene and it wasn't long before work began on a new Mac album. Buckingham tried to juggle recording a solo disc and a Mac album at the same time, but eventually he had to let the solo work go in order to concentrate on creating Mac's new album, Tango in the Night. The sessions lasted a grueling eighteen months and it all took a toll on the band. When the LP was finally finished, this first single was issued out. It became a multi-chart hit reaching #2 Rock, #5 Pop, #7 Dance, and #23 AC. The album would be their fifth Top 10 reaching #7.

ReduxReview:  I remember when this song came out and how strange and almost exotic it was. I loved the rolling drums, the big chorus, and the build up to the end. At the time it was quite different and sounded technologically advanced. It put Fleetwood Mac in the future. It certainly wasn't "Go Your Own Way" or "Don't Stop." Apparently this was originally meant for Buckingham's solo disc and it certainly sounds like his own effort rather than one by the band. It would have been interesting to see how this single would have done if recorded and released as a Buckingham solo track. Would it have gone Top 10?  I'd like to think so, but doing it under the Fleetwood Mac name where they are returning from a six-year absence certainly helped it along. I thought it was a really cool track and it prompted me to buy the album. It is still a great track although it doesn't sound quite as adventurous now as it did at the time.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Lindsey Buckingham was a fan of new recording technology and he put it to good use on his Go Insane solo album and then again with Tango in the Night. "Big Love" was certainly a song that pushed Fleetwood Mac into the future. During sections of the song, "uh/ah" vocal grunts are heard by what sounded like a male with a female answering. Many folks thought the female response voice belonged to Stevie Nicks, yet it wasn't. Both voices were actually Buckingham. Using studio trickery, Buckingham altered his voice to make it sound like a female. So he was just really "uh/ah"-ing himself.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

"Heat of the Night" by Bryan Adams

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3076
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  54
Peak:  6
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Adams' fourth album, Reckless, was a major hit reaching #1 and spawning three Top 10 singles along with three other Top 20s. It would eventually sell over five million copies in the US alone. After everything for the album was wrapped up, Adams and his writing partner Jim Vallance went back into the studio to start on a follow-up. They collaborated on all ten tracks that made up Adams' fifth effort Into the Fire. This first single got things kicked off and it did well reaching #2 at Rock while becoming his fifth Pop Top 10. The hit would help the LP reach #7. Adams was very lucky with Reckless in that it had long legs with six singles doing well. Only time would tell if Into the Fire had similar legs. (Spoiler alert - it didn't.)

ReduxReview:  I liked Adams and enjoyed Restless, so I was looking forward to the new album. Unfortunately, my interest in Adams quickly faded when this song came out. It wasn't in the same commercial-friendly rock league as his hits from Restless. It wasn't as catchy or memorable either. I didn't connect with it and was quite surprised it made the Pop Top 10. I'm sure his popularity at the time helped it along. I appreciated that Adams was trying to stretch beyond the walls of radio ready rock, but he needed something far stronger than this to maintain the audience he gained with Restless.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Cassettes of albums had been around for a long while, but at the beginning of the 80s, vinyl was still king. That applied to singles as well, but in 1982, IRS Records thought that with the market for cassettes growing, that a cassette version of a single might be of interest. They called their version a "cassingle" and pushed out the first commercially available product in the US in 1982 with The Go-Go's hit "Vacation." The format didn't take off. RCA gave it a whirl too, but it seemed buyers were not ready for a cassette single. As the 80s wore on, the demand for vinyl singles was quickly tanking. Sony's mini cassette player, the Walkman, quickly became the go-to item for playing music and cassette album sales began to boom. As 1987 came along, the record companies decided to get together and see if the cassette single would now be a more viable product, especially with the demise of the vinyl single. The first cassette single released in this renewed effort was this Bryan Adams song. Others would follow and the market responded favorably. While cassette singles would never attain the same level of sales that vinyl singles previously had, they remained popular throughout the remainder of the 80s and into the 90s. But like other formats, they would be phased out, along with cassette albums, with the advent of CDs.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

"Se La" by Lionel Richie

Song#:  3075
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  72
Peak:  20
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Reggae

Pop Bits:  Richie's album Dancing on the Ceiling had already generated four Top 10 hits by this point. A fifth song, "Deep River Woman," was a b-side that ended up making the Pop chart at #71 and ended Richie's streak of thirteen consecutive Top 10s. Since that tune wasn't officially meant to be a Pop chart contender, the label then went ahead with releasing another single to wrap up the run of the album. This track was selected and it did fairly well getting to #5 AC and #12 R&B while just barely cracking the Pop Top 20. Not only would it be the last single released from the album, but it would be Richie's final one to reach the charts in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  I always thought Dancing on the Ceiling was just a mishmash of styles (Pop, AC, R&B, Country, etc.), which made it odd and inconsistent. For this song, Richie attempted to write a reggae tune. It didn't work for me. It sounded like a straight-laced artist imitating a genre/style that wasn't in their wheelhouse. Richie even affects some kind of accent too, which is bizarre. Not only was I surprised that this was released as a single, I was also a little shocked that it did as well as it did on the charts. I'm sure his popularity at the time was a big factor and got him some extra airplay. This is certainly one of his hits that has been long forgotten. And for good reason as it wasn't even close to being in the same league as his top-notch hits.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  After wrapping up the tour and promotional stuff for the Dancing on the Ceiling album, Richie decided to take a break. He had been constantly working for years as a solo artist and as a member of The Commodores and the rigors of his superstar schedule finally took a toll. In addition to needing some time away, Richie's father was in failing health and Richie wanted to help take care of him. During this time his marriage was on the verge of imploding due to his affair with another woman (whom he would eventually marry in 1996). All of that along with the changes in musical tastes at the time played into Richie's decision to step away from the music biz. He wouldn't return with any new material until 1992 when his first hits compilation, Back to Front, was released. It featured three new songs including "Do It to Me," which was pushed out as a single. It got to #1 at R&B and #3 AC, but stalled at #21 on the Pop chart. He fully returned with a new album, Louder than Words, in 1996. It contained his last Pop Top 40 entry "Don't Wanna Lose You" (#39 Pop/#17 R&B/#5 AC). Since then his recording career has been up and down. One of the major highlights came in 2012 when he released the album Tuskegee. The LP had Richie remaking several of his hits in duet form with country artists like Shania Twain, Rascal Flats, and Darius Rucker. It was an unexpected hit reaching #1 on the Pop and Country charts. It would also be his first platinum studio LP since Dancing on the Ceiling.


Monday, March 16, 2020

"Get That Love" by Thompson Twins

Song#:  3074
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  78
Peak:  31
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This trio was whittled down to the duo of Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie following the departure of Joe Leeway earlier in '86. The pair's first effort was a one-off title track single (#54 Pop) done for the Tom Hanks flick Nothing in Common and it was expected that a new album would quickly follow. But behind the scenes, Currie had suffered through a couple of personal tragedies and the pair decided that a break was in order. After some time away, they regrouped and began to write songs for a new album, which would be the Twins' first as a duo. Working with producer Rupert Hine, they came up with their sixth studio album Closer to the Bone. This first single was issued out and while it almost cracked the Pop Top 30, it didn't perform nearly as well as the first singles from their previous two LPs, both of which were Top 10 hits. In turn, the album stalled at a minor #76.

ReduxReview:  With the new album it seemed the Twins were moving away from their catchy, quirky new wave synthpop and trying to do something a bit more mature and current. Hine was a good choice for a producer and he gave the LP a nice, glossy pop sheen. Elements of the Twins' writing was still apparent, but the problem was that they didn't come up with a couple of hooky, memorable tracks that could be real single contenders. This one was the best bet, yet it wasn't nearly as fun or as memorable as their previous hits.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After the somewhat tepid reception of Close to the Bone, the Twins decided to leave their home label of Arista and move to Warner Bros. However, before making the move it seemed like they owed Arista one more LP and a compilation of remixes of their hits was assembled. The Best of Thompson Twins: Greatest Mixes was issued out in the summer of '88. To promote the album, a new remix of their 1982 song "In the Name of Love" (#1 Dance) was put together by Shep Pettibone. It was released as a single with the altered title of "In the Name of Love '88." It ended up replicating the success of the original by hitting #1 on the Dance chart. And also like the original, it failed to reach the Pop chart. In the UK, the original single got to #79 while the new remix made it to #46.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

"Always" by Atlantic Starr

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3073
Date:  03/28/1987
Debut:  79
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This band's first five albums did well thanks to several hits on the R&B chart. Their 1982 album Brilliance was even a gold seller. However, success on the Pop chart eluded them. They finally broke through with the #3 hit (#4 R&B/#1 AC) "Secret Lovers," which was from their sixth LP As the Band Turns. It helped secure them a second gold album. With their profile significantly raised, the band got back in the studio to record their seventh album All in the Name of Love. For its first single, this ballad was selected. It ended up being the right choice with the song hitting #1 at Pop, R&B and AC. The mainstream appeal of the tune helped the album sell and it would become their first platinum disc reaching #4 R&B and #18 Pop.

ReduxReview:  You can practically hear the saccharine sap oozing out of this confection. Whether it was written to be a wedding/prom staple or not, it was certainly crafted to be one of those gooey love songs that would appeal to a very broad audience. The melody is easy to sing along with while the lyrics hit all the typical romantic phrases. The arrangement is simple and breezy with unadorned vocals that keep things easy and pleasant. They actually sound like a moon-eyed couple professing their undying love...for always. I'm not the biggest fan of sap like this, but I will say that this one was well-crafted and it was an excellent move for the band capitalizing on the success of "Secret Lovers."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For the As the Band Turns and All in the Name of Love albums, Barbara Weathers served as the lead female vocalist. Following the success of the LPs, Weathers decided to leave Atlantic Starr and try for a solo career. It took her a couple of years to get a contract, but she finally signed on with Reprise Records and then released a self-titled debut album in 1990. It was modestly successful reaching #79 R&B and spawning the #13 R&B single "The Master Key." However, it seems the results weren't what Reprise was looking for and Weathers didn't get the opportunity to record a follow up.