Saturday, May 16, 2020

"Shakedown" by Bob Seger

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3135
Date:  05/23/1987
Debut:  52
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Seger and his Silver Bullet Band scored a triple-platinum album with 1986's Like a Rock, which featured four charting singles including the #12 Pop/#1 Rock title-track hit. Following that success, Seger was given the opportunity to record a song for a movie soundtrack. The sequel to the big 1984 box office hit Beverly Hills Cop was set to be released in May of '87 with Eddie Murphy reprising the role of Axel Foley. The first film was accompanied by an equally successful soundtrack album that reached #1, won a Grammy, and generated five Pop chart hits including the #1 instrumental "Axel F" by Harold Faltermeyer. Obviously, the movie sequel needed a soundtrack sequel and some of the artists and producers who contributed the first soundtrack were asked back including The Pointer Sisters and Faltermeyer. Faltermeyer and Keith Forsey, who had written and produced the #2 "The Heat Is On" performed by Glenn Frey, wrote "Shakedown" for the sequel. While not their first choice to sing the tune (see below), Faltermeyer and Forsey secured Seger for the job. The song would be the first single lifted from the soundtrack album and it was issued out to coincide with the film's release. After a high debut, the single took off and would reach #1. In doing so, it would become Seger's first and only song to hit the top spot on the Pop chart. The hit would help the soundtrack album get to #8 and by the fall it would be certified platinum. The song would later get an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

ReduxReview:  This song, specifically the production, was certainly different for Seger. After years of maintaining his rock 'n' roll sound with the Silver Bullet Band and not necessarily giving in to trends, Seger found himself smack dab in the middle of late 80s-oriented rock with this track. Synths led the way and it kind of resembled a Billy Idol track thanks to Forsey who produced Idol's first three albums. I think there were minor attempts to try and keep Seger's rock sound around with some synth horn/brass line incorporated. It all worked out fine with Seger getting to #1, but I do think it was better suited for the original intended artist (see below). Seger most likely enjoyed having a chart topper, but I don't think he ever considered it one of his best or representative of his sound/career. When his first Greatest Hits collection came out in 1994, the song was left off in favor of lesser hits and two minor unreleased tracks. To be fair, this single was credited as a Bob Seger solo effort and the Greatest Hits LP was credited to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band and featured their hits, so excluding the track was technically legit. But it finally made the cut when Greatest Hits 2 came out in 2003. I'm kind of with Seger on this. It was an interesting, fun track, but it didn't really reflect Seger as an artist or even fit well in his catalog. He just stepped in and helped out and walked away with a #1.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  When Faltermeyer and Forsey wrote this song, they had intended it for Glenn Frey, with whom they had worked with on "The Heat Is On." Frey signed up for the job, but prior to the recording session for the track, Frey came down with a bad case of laryngitis. With little time to find a big name replacement, Frey suggested asking his friend Bob Seger (Frey was a fellow Detroiter who played with Seger's band in the early days). Seger agreed and came on board. However, Seger didn't like the verse lyrics. He decided to rewrite them while keeping the words to the chorus, which then gave Seger a writing credit. Oddly, hitting #1 with the song seemed to be a bit of a curse for Seger. He would have only one more song reach the Pop chart after this - 1991's "The Real Love" (#24 Pop/#4 AC/#4 Rock) from the album The Fire Inside (#7, platinum). Over the years, Seger's albums would continue to sell well and he would remain a top concert draw through to his 2018 tour, which Seger said would be his final one.


Friday, May 15, 2020

"The Pleasure Principle" by Janet Jackson

Song#:  3134
Date:  05/23/1987
Debut:  78
Peak:  14
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Jackson's Control album had just been certified 4x platinum and had become only the second album in history to generate five Pop Top 5 singles (her brother Michael's Thriller would be the first). The question then became - could she best her brother and get a sixth Top 5 entry? It seems she and her label decided to roll the dice and pushed out this track. Results were positive when the song hit #1 at both R&B and Dance, but over at Pop it seemed airplay and sales lagged behind the other formats and it stopped outside of the Top 10. Still, it was an amazing run of singles for Jackson that turned her into a superstar. The LP would keep selling and in less than two years it would sell another million copies.

ReduxReview:  This was another solid jam from the Control album and while it may not have been as catchy or as sing-a-long worthy as her previous hits, it seemed destined for the Top 10 thanks to the popularity of the song's video. Oddly, it just didn't get the support needed at Pop to crack the Top 10. I'm thinking that the tune might have leaned a bit too far into R&B territory for pop radio stations and that perhaps Control fatigue was also setting in. Whatever it was, it really should have at least hit #10 especially when it topped both the R&B and Dance charts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While it was a bit of a bummer that this song stopped Jackson's run of Top 10 singles, her next run of Top 10's would be even more impressive. Beginning with 1989's #1 "Miss You Much," every single released by Jackson as the main artist that made the Pop chart would crack the Top 10 through to 2001. Over that twelve year span, Jackson would amass nineteen consecutive Pop Top 10s with nine of them hitting #1. The stopper of that run was "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)," the third single from her 2001 album All for You. Sadly, it would prove to be a big stopper because as of this posting date Jackson has yet to return to the Pop Top 10.  2) The video for this song has become one of Jackson's most iconic. It featured Jackson alone in a warehouse apartment/studio seemingly doing an impromptu dance rehearsal to this song. While Jackson was obviously the star of the video, the choreography by Barry Lather certainly had a lot to do with the video's success. Portions of the choreography and the video itself would be imitated later by many artists. The video would be nominated for two MTV Music Video Awards and would win for Best Choreography.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

"Why Should I Cry?" by Nona Hendryx

Song#:  3133
Date:  05/23/1987
Debut:  80
Peak:  58
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This former Labelle member scored her first significant hit in 1983 with "Keep It Confidential" (#22 R&B/#25 Dance/#91 Pop), a track from her second album Nona. The following year, "I Sweat (Going Through the Motions)" a single from her third LP The Art of Defense (also used in the Jamie Lee Curtis/John Travolta flick Perfect) got to #28 R&B/#40 Dance, but failed to make the Pop chart. Still searching for a bigger breakthrough, Hendryx recorded her next LP, 1985's The Heat. While The Art of Defense was a bit of a diversion into post-disco/dance territory, The Heat found Hendryx going back to the rock-leaning funk of her 1977 self-titled debut. The change in sound wasn't necessarily welcome with only a couple of singles making the lower reaches of the R&B chart. On the bright side, the track "Rock This House" featuring Keith Richards did secure Hendryx a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. For her next effort, Female Trouble, Hendryx mostly stuck with her rock/funk sound while keeping an ear towards the mainstream. The LP's first single only got minor attention (see below), but this follow-up struck the right balance and it became Hendryx's biggest hit reaching #5 R&B and #6 Dance. The song then crossed over to the Pop chart and got close to the Top 50. The album would then get to #30 R&B/#96 Pop, which was her best showing since 1983's Nona. This single would end up being Hendryx's last to chart. After five albums for three major labels and this lone R&B Top 10, Hendryx left behind mainstream ambitions and set out to make music on her own terms.

ReduxReview:  While Patti LaBelle's career took off after Labelle split, Hendryx's kind of floundered despite her writing a good chunk of the trio's tracks. But let's face it. LaBelle's massive voice and performing abilities set her apart and she got hooked up with quality songs and producers while Hendryx marched to her own drummer and wasn't necessarily a major label darling. She had the tougher road and it was unfortunate her career didn't produce better results. It wasn't like she didn't try. Her rock-edged debut album was excellent and along the way she had solid tracks with potential like this one, which could have also been a hit for someone like Teena Marie. She was just never able to secure that one big crossover hit that might have made her a bigger star. Still, her catalog has a lot of forgotten gems that are worth seeking out.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Female Trouble's first single was "Baby Go-Go." The composer listed for the song was Joey Coco, aka Prince. Apparently, the tune was initially recorded by Prince in 1986 and then handed over to Hendryx for her use. In many cases when Prince recorded a song and passed it along to another artist, the recipient would usually use Prince's backing track or at least a portion of it. However, Hendryx decided to nix all of Prince's work and record it in her own way. She co-produced the track with Dan Hartman. When released as a single, the song didn't make a big impression. It only got to #44 at Dance and #60 at R&B.  2) Two years after Female Trouble, Hendryx returned with the album Skin Diver. Fully written by Hendryx and co-produced with Tangerine Dream's Peter Baumann, the LP was a more ambient/new age affair. Critics were positive about the project. Over the years, Hendryx would collaborate with other artists for a couple of albums, but she would not released a full-on solo album again until 2012. The politically charged neo-soul disc Mutatis Mutandis would also be a critical success.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

"Happy" by Surface

Song#:  3132
Date:  05/23/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  20
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Quiet Storm

Pop Bits:  This New Jersey trio first formed in 1983. They signed with Salsoul Records and that same year issued out their first single "Falling in Love." It reached #84 on the R&B chart. A second single, "When Your X Wants You Back," got some attention but was unable to chart. After changes within the group (see below), they ended up getting the attention of Columbia Records. A deal was struck and their first single "Let's Try Again" was released in 1986. It performed well getting to #22 at R&B. A full album was then called for and the group quickly assembled a self-titled debut. This next single would then be issued out and it became a major hit at R&B getting to #2. The song then crossed over to the Pop chart where it just barely made the Top 20. It also made it to #24 at AC. Another single, "Lately," would hit #8 at R&B, but missed the other chart. The two hits helped sell the album, which got to #11 R&B and #55 Pop.

ReduxReview:  I don't remember this song at all, but that's not terribly surprising. My hometown didn't have an R&B radio station so unless a song made a big enough impression to get on pop radio, I tended to miss out on tracks like this one. This track is a slick, slinky jam that kind of bridges the gap between the teen sounds of New Edition and the more adult leaning grooves of Freddie Jackson. I could do without the little phone call section, but over all it is hard not to be seduced by the tune.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In their early days, the group consisted of David Conley, David Townsend, and lead vocalist Karen Copeland. It was this lineup that recorded the Salsoul singles, which were more in the dance/post-Disco vein. Copeland was Conley's girlfriend at the time, but after a breakup, she took off leaving Conley and Townsend on their own and still under contract with Salsoul. Around this time they met singer/musician Bernard Jackson and the three began to write songs together. Their work led them to being staff writers at EMI, which in turn helped Conley and Townsend get out of their Salsoul contract. A few songs the trio wrote ended up being recorded by artists like New Edition, Sister Sledge, and Gwen Guthrie. They might have just continued to be writers, but then one of their demos made an impression at Columbia Records not only for the song, but for the group behind it. Columbia wanted to give the trio a shot at being artists and they signed on keeping their original name of Surface


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

"Give Me All Night" by Carly Simon

Song#:  3131
Date:  05/23/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  61
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Simon had diminishing returns with each successive album she had released in the 80s. After her 1985 album Spoiled Girl became her worst charting studio effort (#88), Simon hooked up with Clive Davis' Arista Records and began work on a new LP to be titled Coming Around Again. The collection was a more relaxed affair that put Simon back in singer/songwriter mode. The title track first single became a surprise hit reaching #18 Pop and #5 AC. To follow it up, this next song was issued out. It would do well at AC getting to #5. At Pop, the song didn't quite have the impact as the first single and it stalled in the bottom half of the chart. Regardless, the first hit along with support at AC made the album sell. It would reach #25 and become her first platinum album since 1978.

ReduxReview:  This adult-leaning pop track was a perfect fit for AC radio so it was no surprise it did well on that chart. The chorus was strong as was the production. I thought it was a worthy follow-up to "Coming Around Again" and had Pop Top 40 potential, so I was a bit surprised it stopped short of that mark. Had this song been released earlier in the 80s, I believe it might have been a Top 10 contender. For the late 80s, it did play better for an AC audience, but the Pop potential was still there. The track still sounds good today.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Simon co-wrote this song with Gerard McMahon. The British singer/songwriter had been trying to get a solo career going since the mid-70s, but after five albums for various labels the best McMahon could do was the #85 "Count on Me" in 1983. However, along the way his songs got picked up by other artists including Kiss, who made McMahon's song "Is It You?" the opening track on their 1980 album Unmasked. He also began to supply songs to film soundtracks, which included tunes for Defiance, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and All the Right Moves. A chunk of these tracks were sung by McMahon while some would be performed by other artists. None became hits, but McMahon made an impression with one tune. For the 1987 horror flick The Lost Boys, McMahon co-wrote and recorded the song "Cry Little Sister" (under the name Gerard McMann). It would server as the theme to the film and was released as a single. While the song didn't chart, it was a popular track from the film's #15 peaking soundtrack album and became a sort of cult song that would be covered by many artists over the years. One fan of the song was the band Marilyn Manson. They covered the tune for the soundtrack to the 2018 horror film The New Mutants. It would reach #5 on the Rock Digital Songs chart (sales based) and #15 on Hot Rock Songs (sales, airplay, streaming).


Monday, May 11, 2020

"Primitive Love Rights" by Mondo Rock

Song#:  3130
Date:  05/23/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  71
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  This Australian band was headed up by lead vocalist/songwriter Ross Wilson. After a couple of singles in the late 70s, the band signed with EMI and released their 1979 debut album Primal Park. It didn't make much of an impression and the band then moved over to Atlantic for 1981's Chemistry. It proved to be their breakthrough at home reaching #2 and going double platinum thanks to a pair of Top 10 hits. Over the next few years the band would continue to do well with two more Top 10 albums and what would be their biggest hit, "Come Said the Boy" (#2, 1983). While Mondo Rock became big in Australia, they were virtually unknown in the rest of the world including the US. In 1986, the band signed on with Polydor Records and made a plan to expand beyond their home borders. They recorded their fifth studio LP, Boom Baby Boom, but the effort fizzled a bit at home stalling at #27. However, this single from the album, which got to #34 in Australia, was issued in the US and it made the Rock chart at #31. It then crossed over to the Pop chart for a few weeks. A second single failed to chart and those results made the album come and go quickly. The band would record one more album in 1990 before calling it a day.

ReduxReview:  With this song, Mondo Rock kind of reminds me of an Australian version of Oingo Boingo. It's a quirky new wave-ish rock track with a bit of a party edge. There's a bit of INXS in there as well. The charging track is a fun listen with production that was top-notch for the time period. It may not have been the right track to use as a potential breakthrough in the States, but it was still a good song that probably should have gained them a bigger audience on the alt-rock scene.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This was not Mondo Rock's first attempt to break into the US market. They tried with their 1981 album Chemistry, which would end up being their biggest album at home. The LP's first single, "State of the Heart," would be a #6 hit in Australia, but it failed to chart in the US and therefore the album was a non-starter. However, the song would end up being a bit of a hit later on in the US by another artist. Rick Springfield would pick up the tune (written by Mondo Rock member Eric McCusker), make some revisions, and record it for his 1985 album Tao. It would be the LP's second single and it would reach #22 on the Pop chart.  2) Lead singer Ross Wilson had already experienced success in Australia with his previous band Daddy Cool. That band began in 1970 and the following year their first single, "Eagle Rock," would become a #1 hit in Australia. Their debut album Daddy Who? Daddy Cool would also get to #1. Another Top 10 hit would follow along with a few other chart singles and two more albums, but by 1975, they were done. Ross would then move on to form Mondo Rock.


Sunday, May 10, 2020

"Can't Get Started" by Peter Wolf

Song#:  3129
Date:  05/23/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  75
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Wolf scored a second Pop Top 20 solo hit with "Come As You Are," the lead single from his second album of the of the same name. The tune would be his first and only to reach #1 on the Rock chart. For a follow-up, this album opening track was selected. While it would get to #16 at Rock, it couldn't quite cut it on Pop radio and the song stalled in the lower quarter of the chart. The album wouldn't be a major seller, but it did well enough to hit #53.

ReduxReview:  This rave-up was an exciting rock 'n' roll track that could liven up any party. It played pretty well on rock radio, but it just wasn't the kind of song that was gonna burn up the Pop chart. I think it is a great track. I can't help but smile and jam along with it. In a way it kind plays like Buddy Holly meets the Rolling Stones. The whole album is really good, but sadly it has kind of gotten lost because it's never been reissued and has never made it to the streaming services. Luckily, you can hear the whole thing on YouTube and it is worth it.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Following the Come As You Are album, Wolf took a bit of a break. He also left his home label of EMI, which he had been with since 1978 with the J. Geils Band. By the end of the decade, he signed on with MCA and in 1990 released his third album Up to No Good. The album featured the #9 Rock/#77 Pop track "99 Worlds," but it wasn't enough to really boost sales of the album (#111). Issues arose between Wolf and MCA and that led to a lawsuit the kept Wolf from recording any new music for several years. Beginning in 1996, Wolf returned to recording and would issue out several albums for various labels. Most would be critically well-received with 2002's Sleepless even making Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (#427). He would also join back up with the J. Geils Band several times for performances and tours, however the band would never record any new music.