Saturday, April 18, 2020

"Heart and Soul" by T'Pau

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Rated 10 Alert
Song#:  3107
Date:  05/02/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  4
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This English band headed up by singer Carol Decker and guitarist Ronnie Rogers came together in 1985. Decker and Rogers had already been writing music and performing for a few years, but then decided to officially get a band together and seek a record deal. A demo tape ended up in the hands of producer Roy Thomas Baker and after seeing the band perform live, he helped get them signed to the Virgin Records offshoot label Siren. Baker would end up producing the band's debut LP that would eventually be titled Bridge of Spies. This first single was released earlier in '87 in the UK, but it went nowhere. Luckily, the song got picked up for use in a TV ad for Pepe Jeans that aired in both the UK and the US. Thanks to the exposure from the ad, interest in the song picked up. The single was reissued in the UK and released in the US. In the UK, the song would take off and reach #4. In the US, the tune debuted near the bottom of the chart and made a long, slow climb eventually hitting #4 in its fifteenth week. It also got to #13 at Dance. Thanks to the hit, the album (retitled as just T'Pau) would sell fairly well in the US getting to #31. Unfortunately, further singles from the band failed to make any US chart and that would leave their legacy here as a true one-hit wonder. However, the story was quite different for them back in the UK (see below).

ReduxReview:  Pure, classic 80s. Anchored by that opening bass line riff, this song was awash in everything 80s including synths, heavy production, rap, a hooky chorus, near nonsensical lyrics, and big vocals by Decker, who had equally big hair. The tune had everything going for it so it was quite surprising that it didn't take off on initial release. Fortunately, the advert brought it to the masses. I bought the single and played it over and over. I just loved it and I still do. It was one of those songs that I never got tired of hearing. It's a shame "China in Your Hand" (see below) didn't catch on here. At least the band was able to grab this big hit that has remained popular for decades.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Following the success of "Heart and Soul" in the UK, the band re-recorded a track from the album, "China in Your Hand," for single release. The power ballad would storm the charts in Europe and hit #1 in at least six countries including the UK where it stayed at the top of the chart for five weeks. A third single, "Valentine," would reach #9 while a fourth track make the Top 20. The Bridge of Spies album would make it to #1 and go 4x platinum in the UK. The band's second album, 1988's Rage, would be a #4 platinum seller. A third album would get to #10. The band would then split up. Decker would revive the band throughout the years for performances and a couple of albums.  2) When the band initially formed, they used the name Talking America. Then one day Carol Decker was watching a rerun of Star Trek when the character T'Pau appeared. T'Pau was a Vulcan high priestess and first appeared on the second season premiere of the show. The episode is famous for introducing the Vulcan reproductive condition known as pon farr and for a battle to the death between Spock and Captain Kirk overseen by T'Pau. Although the T'Pau character would not be in any further episodes of the original series, she would appear in episodes of Voyager and Enterprise.

Friday, April 17, 2020

"In Too Deep" by Genesis

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3106
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  51
Peak:  3
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Genesis' album Invisible Touch would be their commercial peak reaching #3 and eventually selling over six million copies in the US alone. It was boosted by four singles that all reached the Pop Top 5. With the LP still selling well, they decided to roll the dice and issue out this fifth single. The ballad would become their second chart topper at AC while getting to #34 at Rock. The big news came via the Pop chart where the tune became the fifth Top 5 hit from the album. That result made them the first band and the first foreign artist to get five Pop Top 5 hits from one album in the US. Overall, they were the third artist to accomplish that feat following Michael Jackson (singles from 1982's Thriller) and his sister Janet. Genesis nearly could have been the second act to reach that goal and the first to do it consecutively, but Janet Jackson beat them to the punch when "Let's Wait Awhile" became the fifth Top 5 single from her Control album just a few weeks earlier. Genesis would take a break after everything from Invisible Touch wrapped up making this song the band's final one to reach the charts in the 80s. They would return in 1991 with We Can't Dance. The album would reach #4 and eventually go 4x platinum. It would feature five Pop Top 30 hits including the #7 "I Can't Dance," which would be the band's final US Top 10 hit. Phil Collins would leave the band afterwards. Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks would continue on with new lead singer Ray Wilson and issue out Calling All Stations in 1997. It was not a success in the US only reaching #54 and failing to generate any Pop chart singles. Collins would rejoin Rutherford and Banks for a tour in 2007 and made plans for another tour in 2020, although a new studio album from the core trio has yet to be recorded.

ReduxReview:  This is a good soft rock ballad from the band that played well on the radio. Does it rank among their best songs? No. To me it plays like an outtake from a Phil Collins solo album. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that the tune isn't all that special or unique. It inoffensively plods along and sounds lovely when it is on, but in the end I find it a bit forgetful. The tune is just not in the same league as some of the band's other classic tracks.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In addition to appearing on Invisible Touch, this song was also used in the 1986 British film Mona Lisa. In the UK, the song was released as the LP's second single a couple of months following the release of the film. The fact that the song was in the film was printed on the physical UK version of the single. This fact was left off of the US version of the single. Apparently, Phil Collins had been approached to write a song for the movie and he came up with the lyrics. The song was finished off in the studio with the balance of Genesis, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks. While a soundtrack featuring the score and a couple other songs from the film was released, the Genesis track was not included. Mona Lisa starred Bob Hoskins and Cathy Tyson. It was critically well-received with Hoskins winning the BAFTA (the British equivalent of an Oscar) award for Best Actor. Hoskins was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

"Why Can't This Night Go on Forever" by Journey

Song#:  3105
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  60
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  It had been nearly a year since the first single from Journey's Raised on Radio album had been released. "Be Good to Yourself" was a #2 Rock hit that became the band's last Top 10 at Pop reaching #9. Three more Pop Top 20 entries would follow capped off by the #14 "I'll Be Alright Without You." That song typically would have wrapped up the run of singles from the LP, but the label thought they could eke out one more and decided to push out this fifth track. The ballad got a tepid response peaking in the bottom half of the Pop chart while only reaching #24 at AC. It was unable to crack the Rock chart. It would end up being the band's final song to reach the charts in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  This power ballad was the final track on the album and was in the same vein as "Open Arms" and "Faithfully." Unfortunately, it wasn't as successful. The tune was one of the better tracks on the album, but as a single it just wasn't as memorable as their other power ballad hits. Plus, the album was long-in-the-tooth having been around for nearly a year and I think folks were Journey'd out by this point. The song was a good album closer, but it wasn't exactly single-worthy.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Later in 1987, the band stopped working together. Some said it was an extended hiatus while others called it a breakup. Either way, the band members took off and did other projects. Steve Perry attempted a second solo album, but then set it aside. He would finally come out with one in 1994. Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain would form the band Bad English and score a couple of hits in 1989. Finally in 1995, Perry, Schon, and Cain along with former members Ross Valory and Steve Smith reformed Journey. They recorded the album Trial By Fire. It would be a #3 platinum seller thanks to the #12 Pop/#1 AC hit "When You Love a Woman." Unfortunately, health issues forced Perry to not tour and eventually he quit the band for good. Perry and Schon decided to keep going with Journey and hired Steve Augeri as their new lead vocalist. They released Arrival in 2000, but it got a tepid response. 2005's Generations did even worse. Augeri was then dropped from the band and was replaced by Arnel Pineda, whom Perry and Schon discovered via YouTube. The 2008 album Revelation followed and thanks to the hype surrounding Pineda and the #9 AC hit "After All These Years," the LP was a big success reaching #5 and going platinum. A follow-up album Eclipse would reach #13 in 2011. As of this posting date, Schon, Cain, and Pineda are still touring as Journey, but have yet to release a new album.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

"Jammin' Me" by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Song#:  3104
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  18
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Petty's 1985 #7 platinum album Southern Accents was a heavier produced project that included the Dave Stewart-produced #13 "Don't Come Around Here No More." After a stop-gap live album, Petty and his band went back into the studio to record their seventh album. Instead of keeping on with the modern 80s production style, Petty chose to record tracks in a manner that made them sound like live performances. With Petty and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell producing, the LP Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) was completed. This lead single was released and it was a hit at Rock becoming their third #1 on that chart. At Pop it would do well reaching the Top 20, their sixth single to do so. Unfortunately, it would be the only song from the album to make the Pop chart and that left the album stalling at #20. It was a slight disappointment following four Top 10 studio LPs in a row, but the album still kept up their streak of platinum discs.

ReduxReview:  Back in the day this track was jammin' me. Actually I should say I was jammin' to it. I liked that Petty got back to a more traditional rock band sound. As much as I liked the band's bizarre detour into 80s produced pop with "Don't Come Around Here No More," getting the guitar-driven Petty back was certainly welcome. The album itself was a mixed back, but this track was certainly the highlight. The grittier track wasn't as hooky or commercial as some of their past charters and I was a little surprised it got in the Top 20. It was more suited to Rock radio. I still like this track, but it is one that rarely gets played anymore.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although no further singles would make the Pop chart, three other tracks from the album got on the Rock chart including the #8 "Runaway Trains" and the #19 "All Mixed Up." It would be the first time that a Petty album generated four Rock charting songs.  2) This song was co-written by Petty, Campbell, and Bob Dylan. Petty and Dylan became closer friends and musical partners when Petty and the Heartbreakers supported Dylan on his 1986 True Confessions tour. According to Campbell, he had written the music for this song and passed it on to Petty, who ended up sitting on the track. At some point during the True Confessions tour, Petty and Dylan were toying with lyrics and Petty remembered Campbell's music track and suggested they put their words to the tune. Petty and Dylan finished the song and the band later got it recorded for the album. During a break from the tour, Dylan recorded his twenty-fourth studio album Knocked Out Loaded. It included another Petty/Dylan collaboration "Got My Mind Made Up." The track was released as a single and got to #23 at Rock, but failed to chart at Pop. At the time, the album was considered one of Dylan's worst efforts. Reviews were negative and it became the lowest charting studio album of his career up to that point tanking at #54. The only exception being his 1962 self-titled debut LP, which did not chart.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

"Back and Forth" by Cameo

Song#:  3103
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  86
Peak:  50
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Electro-Funk

Pop Bits:  The band's twelfth album Word Up! became their biggest seller going platinum and hitting #1 R&B and #8 Pop. It boasted two major hits that both hit #1 at R&B, "Word Up" (#3 Pop) and "Candy" (#21 Pop). To keep the ball rollin', they released this third single. It would be their twelfth Top 10 at R&B reaching #3. It would also hit #6 at Dance, but at Pop it could only crack the top half of the chart. A fourth single, "She's Mine," would be released, but it failed to chart.

ReduxReview:  This song leaned more towards R&B than the hooky dance-pop of "Word Up" and that didn't do it any favors at Pop. However, it was another solid track from the group and it really should have done better. Once again, the production was stellar and the "our love goes" line was quite memorable. It also featured a nice guitar solo. Larry Blackmon and his crew were certainly at the top of their game with the Word Up! album.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Cameo originated in New York City as a ten member unit. Following the #2 R&B success of their seventh album, 1981's Knights of the Sound Table, Blackmon reduced the band to five members and moved them to Atlanta. The new outfit recorded 1982's Alligator Woman, which was another gold record (#6 R&B). With the success came clout with the band's home label Polygram and that allowed Blackmon to start his own vanity label Atlanta Artists. The first album released under the new label was Cameo's 1983 LP Style. It wasn't a big success, but they rallied back in 1984 with the gold album She's Strange. Cameo would release four more studio albums under the Atlanta Artists name, but had to stop when they left Polygram for Reprise in the early 90s. While Atlanta Artists was mainly for Cameo recordings, Blackmon did sign two other artists to the label, R&B band Ca$hflow and singer Barbara Mitchell. Ca$hflow had some initial success with a pair of hits from their 1986 self-titled debut album including the #8 R&B single "Party Freak." A second album failed to do much and the band split. Mitchell was the former lead singer of High Inergy ("He's a Pretender," 1983, #82 Pop). She signed on with Atlanta Artists for her second solo effort High on Love. Unfortunately, the album failed to generate any charting singles and it quietly disappeared.


Monday, April 13, 2020

"Somebody Save Me" by Cinderella

Song#:  3102
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  66
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  The second single from Cinderella's debut album Night Songs, "Nobody's Fool," was a major breakthrough hitting #13 Pop and #25 Rock. That result plus exposure on MTV sent the album to #3. To keep sales of the LP going, this third single was issued out. The more raucous track didn't attract the same audience who liked the power balladry of "Nobody's Fool" and the song stayed in the bottom half of the Pop chart while only reaching #37 at Rock.

ReduxReview:  This song got the band back to the same territory that was already occupied by bands like Ratt and AC/DC. The groove and guitar riff is solid, but I find it a bit too repetitive. The verse and chorus are the same with just a bit more melody in the verse. A bridge and a solo section breaks it up, but not quite enough. Luckily, it is not a long track so it doesn't necessarily outstay its welcome. It wasn't a bad track, just one that was a better album jam than a single.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  When Cinderella got signed to Mercury Records, their drummer was Jim Drnec. He had replaced original drummer Tony Destra, who had jumped ship to join Britny Fox. However, for the recording of the band's debut album session musician Joey Cortez stepped in to play drums. When the album was done, Drnec was then replaced briefly by Al Barker. Finally, just prior to the album's release and the filming of its videos, Fred Coury became the band's permanent drummer. He stayed on until 1991, but ended up rejoining them in 1996. As a side gig, Coury began writing themes and background music for sports teams and TV shows. He ended up writing the theme to the NBC prime time game show The Wall as well as scoring music for shows like the NBC medical drama The Night Shift and the reality show Gene Simmons: Family Jewels.


Sunday, April 12, 2020

"Sweet Sixteen" by Billy Idol

Song#:  3101
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  20
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Idol's album Whiplash Smile started out with a bang with the lead single "To Be a Lover" reaching #6 Pop/#2 Rock. However, its follow-up, "Don't Need a Gun," was less successful only being able to duck inside the Pop Top 40 at #37 (#10 Rock). Still, it was enough to call for a third single and this track was issued out. While it could only get to #26 at Rock, it did much better at Pop than the previous single reaching the Top 20. In Idol's UK homeland, the song would be the highest charting single from the LP getting to #17. US sales of the album would top the one million mark making it Idol's second platinum disc in a row.

ReduxReview:  This low-key, haunting track was certainly different from the LP's previous two singles. It almost comes off like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." Radio liked the track and it became one of his bigger hits on the Pop chart, yet the song didn't have much of a life after its initial run. I hear other Idol songs on occasion these days including the ballad "Eyes Without a Face," but this one has all but disappeared. It's a bit more subtle, which doesn't necessarily go with Idol's persona, so I think over time it just had a hard time competing with his more hooky rock tracks. It's still a quality track and should be included among his best efforts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Idol wrote this song after catching an episode of the Leonard Nimoy-hosted TV show In Search Of... The program Idol saw was about the Coral Castle located near Homestead, Florida. The castle was built by Latvian √©migr√© Edward Leedskalnin over a nearly 30 years period starting around 1923. Leedskalnin supposedly built the castle mainly for a woman back in Latvia whom he was to marry, but she backed out of the impending union a day before the wedding. Leedskalnin apparently called her his "sweet sixteen," which ended up being used for the title of Idol's song. The mystery surrounding Coral Castle was how Leedskalnin build it all. The entire fortress is built out of limestone including the furniture. Many portions of the castle were crafted from huge sections of limestone weighing tons. Legend has it that Leedskalnin carved and assembled the castle and its contents by himself and would not allow anyone to view him or his methods during construction. It has been speculated by some that he used reverse magnetism to build the place while others think he was working with supernatural forces or even a perpetual motion mechanism. Leedskalnin worked on Coral Castle for decades and made money by letting tourists in during the days to view his work. He died in 1951. The Coral Castle remains a popular tourist attraction. In addition to being an inspiration for his song, Idol filmed the video for "Sweet Sixteen" at the castle.