Saturday, April 11, 2020

"Something in My House" by Dead or Alive

Song#:  3100
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  85
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  The band's third album Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know started off fairly well with the #1 Dance/#15 Pop single "Brand New Lover." It wasn't quite enough to really spur sales of the album, which had peaked at #52. It was hoped this second single would keep sales going. While it was a hit in clubs reaching #3 on the Dance chart, it failed to attract a Pop audience and the tune stopped way early on the chart. Further singles were unable to chart and that ended the run of the album. In the band's UK homeland, this song would be the best charting from the album reaching #12.

ReduxReview:  This is a case where brevity is better. The album version of this song is over seven minutes. It just drags on and plays more like an instrumental with occasional vocals. Frankly, it gets boring real quick. The single version, which I posted above, is far better. It cuts out all the fat and gets to the meat of the tune. It featured a classic Stock Aitken Waterman dance production that wasn't unlike "Brand New Lover." It's a good track, but it's not quite as hooky or alluring as their previous hit singles.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The video for this song was based on the influential 1946 French film La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast). Written and directed by Jean Cocteau, it was the first film adaptation of the 1757 story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Cocteau was a poet and playwright and La Belle et la Bête was his second film. It was widely praised at the time for its inventive visuals and magical story. It has also been included on many greatest films of all-time lists including one by critic Roger Ebert. The film has provided inspiration for other artists including Stevie Nicks who wrote the song "Beauty and the Beast" for her 1983 album The Wild Heart after a viewing. In her concerts from that era, Nicks would often present images of the film behind her while performing the song.

Friday, April 10, 2020

"Dirty Water" by Rock and Hyde

Song#:  3099
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  61
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This Canadian duo of Paul Hyde and Bob Rock had been working together since 1978 when they formed the band the Payloas. They were signed to A&M Records and had some success at home with a couple of Top 10s. The band and their label wanted to crack the US charts and with some prodding from A&M the band changed their name to Paul Hyde and the Payloas and recorded an album with superstar producer David Foster. The results were not as good as expected and they ended up being dropped from A&M despite getting their first single on the US Pop chart with the #84 "Your the Only Love." The core duo then went out on their own and struck a deal with Capitol Records. With the new moniker of Rock and Hyde, they recorded the album Under the Volcano. This first single was issued out and it became a hit at Rock reaching #6. It then crossed over to Pop where it floated around the bottom half of the chart for two and a half month. It helped the album get to #94. The lackluster results didn't do them any favors with Capitol and the duo went their own ways. They would reunite for a five-year period beginning in 2003.

ReduxReview:  This is another one where I might have heard it on MTV first as I don't remember hearing it on the radio. I ended up buying the single. The shuffling rock beat attracted me along with its solid, sing-a-long chorus, its excellent production (by Bruce Fairbairn), and the scruffy vocals of Paul Hyde. It was a terrific track and I was rooting for it to go higher on the chart. Rock radio responded well, but it just didn't catch on in a more mainstream way. The album also contained a nice pop confection called "I Will" that didn't chart in the US but made it to #40 in Canada. These guys had the right stuff to make hits, but it just never fully gelled for them.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Even while in the Payloas and Rock and Hyde, Bob Rock started a side career as an engineer for other artists. He worked with rock bands like Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite. His behind-the-boards career got a major boost when he worked on Bon Jovi's mega hit album Slippery When Wet. Rock continued to work as an engineer but also moved over to the producer's chair. Over the years he would produce hit albums by Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Bryan Adams, The Offspring, Bush, and even Michael Bublé. It would end up being his work on Bublé's 2013 album To Be Loved that would earn Rock his first Grammy. That LP would win for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album and as producer Rock received a Grammy along with Bublé.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

"Wild Horses" by Gino Vannelli

Song#:  3098
Date:  04/18/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  55
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Vannelli's first album for Polydor, 1984's Black Cars, was a hit at home in Canada becoming a platinum seller, but it didn't do as well in the US where its #62 peak was his lowest since 1975. The title track was a #4 hit in Canada, but it faltered in the US and stopped shy of the Top 40 at #42. It would then take about two and a half years for him to come up with the follow-up album Big Dreamers Never Sleep. Like Black Cars, Vannelli co-produced the LP with his brothers Joe and Ross. This first single was issued out and it was another success at home reaching #7 on the Canadian chart. Unfortunately, that results wasn't replicated in the US where the song fizzled at #55 Pop and #33 AC. It would end up being Vannelli's last single to reach the US Pop chart. In turn, the album tanked at a low #160. His next LP, 1990's Inconsolable Man, wouldn't chart in the US and would be his last to chart in Canada. Three tracks would make the Canadian chart, but none would do anything in the US except for the #49 AC entry "If I Should Lose This Love." Vannelli would continue to record over the years in various styles including a pair of acoustic-jazz albums in the mid-90s.

ReduxReview:  I like the casual, sensual feel of this track. The minimal production is perfect for the song. Vannelli and his brothers were really good at crafting arrangements and productions that enhanced Vannelli's songs. The style reminds me of a less-rocky "To Be a Lover" by Billy Idol and the upcoming hit by Belinda Carlisle "Circle in the Sand." It's a shame this didn't do better. Vannelli had a knack for writing interesting pop tunes and this was another good one in his catalog.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In addition to his jazz outings, Vannelli also dabbled in contemporary classical music. In 2001, Vannelli produced the album Haitek Haiku for Danish jazz pianist Niels Lan Doky. For the disc, Vannelli co-wrote the Franz Schubert-influenced "Parole Per Mio Padre," a song he dedicated to his father. Vannelli sang the lead vocals on the track. Somehow, the song made waves at the Vatican and Vannelli was invited to sing the song for Pope John Paul II for a televised event. After the show aired, Vannelli got a call from BMG Records asking him to do a full disc of AC-classical songs. Vannelli signed on with the label and issued out 2003's Canto. The songs on the LP were all written or co-written by Vannelli and it was mainly released in Europe and Canada. After that he would return to pop music and would also write an autobiography titled Stardust in the Sand.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

"We Are What We Are" by The Other Ones

Song#:  3097
Date:  04/18/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  53
Weeks:  9
Genre:  New Wave, Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  Although this band was developed by Australians Alf Klimek and his siblings Jayney and Johnny (twins), their home base was Berlin, Germany. They padded out the band with three other German musicians and became The Other Ones in 1984. A couple of years later they signed on with Virgin Records and recorded a self-titled debut album. Their first single, "All the Love," failed to make an impression, but this second single caught on in a few countries including the US where it nearly cracked the top half of the Pop chart while getting to #38 at Rock. A third single would end up doing even better in the summer of '87.

ReduxReview:  This is like the Pretenders meets The Fixx and I kinda dig it. Jayney Klimek's voice recalls Chrissie Hynde while the new wave vibe of the track reminds me of The Fixx and 'til tuesday. The mysterious opening is cool and the chorus is memorable and hooky. If it had a bit more of a promotional push behind it, the track might have done better and at least cracked the Top 40. It's an unexpected, cool find.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia: Co-lead singer Alf Klimek had an interesting career path before The Other Ones. In the late 70s, he was a member of comedy/puppet troop Stuffed Puppets. It was with them that he had opportunity to travel to Europe. After a couple of years, he left and joined the cabaret act The Busby Berkeleys. But it wasn't until 1980 that he got more involved with rock music. He became lead singer and songwriter for Spliff. They had previously been Nina Hagen's band, but both acts parted way due to internal issues. They recorded a debut album in 1980 titled The Spliff Radio Show. Klimek left after that album and returned to Australia. He then convinced his siblings to move to Germany and start a band, which ultimately became The Other Ones.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

"Black Dog" by Newcity Rockers

Song#:  3096
Date:  04/18/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  80
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Hard Rock, Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  Radio DJ Bob Rivers got his start with several stations in Connecticut, but it was his move to station WAAF in Worcester, Massachusetts (Boston area) that turned him into a morning radio personality. His show Bob & Zip (with Peter Zipfel) was a success and it was there that Rivers started to record parody and novelty tunes that would be used on his show and other radio programs across the country via Rivers' American Comedy Network. One of his first efforts was "Breaking Up Is Hard on You," a send-up of the Bell Telephone breakup set to Neil Sedaka's hit "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do." It was so popular that it got released as a single in 1984 and made it to #70 on the Pop chart. Many other parodies would follow, but then it seemed Rivers wanted to do some legit music and with three other Boston-area musicians formed the Newcity Rockers. The band wrote the majority of the songs for their self-titled debut album, but it would also include three cover tunes including this first single. While many folks thought that it was a sin to remake a Led Zeppelin track, others liked the band's take on the song and their support got the single on the Pop chart for a few weeks.

ReduxReview:  The band took Zep's gritty, stop/start bluesy jam and turned it into something a bit more steady and ready for 80s rock radio. In addition to the huge crashing drums and other 80s-ish effects, the band added in horns and even a piano with vocalist Ken Kozdra channeling Robert Plant fairly well. They nearly turn the Led Zeppelin tune into a Mutt Lange-produced Def Leppard track. I kinda want to hate it because goosing up a Zep song for the 80s was a terrible thing to do, but oddly I don't dislike it. It's a bit bombastic and overdone, yet not so much so that it kills the tune. The sexy, swaggering feel of the original isn't there so that got lost in translation, but overall I think they did a fairly good job. It was better than what I expected.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Led Zeppelin in 1971. It was the first single taken from the band's classic Led Zeppelin IV album, which included what is perhaps their most famous song "Stairway to Heaven." Their original version of "Black Dog" would end up becoming their second biggest hit on the Pop chart reaching #15. It was surpassed only by the #4 placement of their 1969 hit "Whole Lotta Love." The title "Black Dog" is interesting because it doesn't appear in the song's lyrics and has nothing to do with them either. Apparently, the band was having a bit of a hard time naming the song, which didn't really have a standout phrase or hook that would be appropriate for a title. While the band was recording the album at a studio on a country estate, there was a black Labrador retriever hanging around the grounds that they would pay attention to and feed. So instead of forcing a title from the lyrics, the band just decided to name it after their stray friend, "Black Dog."


Monday, April 6, 2020

"Go See the Doctor" by Kool Moe Dee

Song#:  3095
Date:  04/18/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  89
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  Kool Moe Dee (given name Mohandas Dewese) was a member of the pioneering rap group The Treacherous Three. After they broke up in 1985, he headed out on a solo career. He signed up with Jive Records and began work on a self-titled debut album. This first single was released and surprisingly it was unable to chart at R&B. Yet it somehow got some attention at Pop and ended up floating around the bottom of the chart for a few weeks. While no other singles from the album would chart, it would end up selling well enough to reach #20 at R&B and #83 Pop.

ReduxReview:  This was when rap was fun. Not that there aren't some quirky, enjoyable rap tracks now, but they just aren't as sly and funky as this. Along with being hilarious, the tune is nearly a PSA about safe sex. It's funny that back in the day they had to offer a clean version of this song. These days it doesn't even warrant an explicit tag on streaming services. Funny how times change. Maybe I'm just an ol' fuddy duddy, but I prefer clever lyrics like the ones on this song as opposed to the profanity laced, sexually explicit rap tracks of today. Ol' skool rap like this is just far more entertaining and fun.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The Treacherous Three were really a foursome featuring Kool Moe Dee, L.A. Sunshine, and Special K, along with DJ Easy Lee. They formed in the late 70s and got signed to the small NYC label Enjoy. They issued out several singles including "Body Rock," which has been cited as one of the first rap songs to incorporate rock-edged guitars. The singles helped them get signed to Sugar Hill Records. More singles for that label would follow and eventually they would released a self-titled debut album in 1984. While popular, the album didn't chart. Soon after, internal issues arose and the following year they split. Their career may have been short-lived, but their influence continued on for years. One of their main contributions to rap was that they were the first to introduce a style called fast rapping. Their 1980 single "The New Rap Language" featured the group rapping at a high rate of speed. Other rappers took note and the style would evolve into double-time rapping and chopper style.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

"Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3094
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  62
Peak:  7
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Bon Jovi proved that it only takes the right album at the right time to push a career from middling success to massive stardom. The band's third LP, Slippery When Wet, was the one to do it for them. It would spend eight weeks at #1 thanks to a pair of #1's including their biggest hit "Livin' on a Prayer." They kept things going with this third single. It would do well at Rock reaching #13, but would do even better at Pop cracking the Top 10. The three songs certainly sold the album and just a couple of weeks after this song was released, the LP would be certified for sales of over 7 million. In 1995, it reached 12 million in sales. While this single sold well at the time, it didn't do well enough to reach gold level sales. Over the years it became one of Bon Jovi's signature hits and in the digital age the song became a consistent seller. In 2015, it would be certified 4x platinum for digital sales.

ReduxReview:  I figured this song would make the Top 10, but I thought it would actually go higher. Maybe even #1. It was an awesome road song that was different from their first two singles. The video was all over MTV and I would have expected that exposure to give the single a bigger boost. But then again, the album had nearly sold 7 million copies by this point, so with a ton of folks already owning the album, sales were probably slow for the single and its Top 10 placement might have been mainly due to airplay. Still, it is a classic from the decade and another signature song for the band. It still sounds awesome and easily ranks high on the list of their best tracks.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  With three songs becoming big hits from the album, it would seem that a fourth one would be issued out. Yet there was no official single released as product. Therefore, on the Pop chart it was three-and-done. They wouldn't return to the chart until the fall of '88. However, another track from the album, "Never Say Goodbye," was circulated for airplay. It did well at Rock reaching #11. It also picked up airplay on pop stations and on the Pop Airplay chart the song got to #28. However, because no actual product was issued out, it made the song ineligible for the Pop chart. The same thing happened with a track that was recorded for the album, but was ultimately not used. "Edge of a Broken Heart" was shelved, but then got picked up for the soundtrack to the 1987 comedy flick Disorderlies. Again, the track was not given an official single release, but airplay on pop stations helped the song get to #38 on the Pop Airplay chart. (Note that "Edge of a Broken Heart" was not the same song as the 1988 #26 hit by Vixen.)