Saturday, May 23, 2020

"Girls, Girls, Girls" by Mötley Crüe

Song#:  3142
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  68
Peak:  12
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Glam Metal, Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  Over the course of three albums, Mötley Crüe's popularity increased significantly. Their third LP, Theater of Pain, was their biggest success to-date hitting #6 and going double-platinum (it would eventually sell over 4 million copies). It also generated their first hit single with a remake of "Smokin' in the Boys Room" (#16 Pop/#7 Rock). After a major worldwide tour came to an end, the band got back to business in the studio with producer Tom Werman to record their fourth album Girls, Girls, Girls. The title track would be issued out as the first single. It would end up being an even bigger breakthrough for the band reaching #2 at Rock and nearly cracking the Pop Top 10. This was thanks in part to the tune's associated video, which made a big splash on MTV. The album would reach #2 and by mid-July it would already be a platinum seller. The era of 80s glam/hair metal was reaching new heights and the Crüe had positioned themselves at the top of the heap. However, others were on their way up and were ready to battle for that spot.

ReduxReview:  I can't tell you how much I hated this song back in the day. The whole wild Mötley Crüe partying motif just didn't jibe with my standards. Granted, I wasn't a prude and definitely wasn't all that innocent, but that whole lifestyle they portrayed and lived was too much for me. So a song and video about strip clubs didn't get my attention. Of course I grew up and now I can look back at the band and their music differently. This song in particular was very smartly done. It really captured the essence of the band in one fell swoop. The motorcycles, the bawdy lyrics, the guitar licks, and the crunchy production were all on point as was its memorable chorus. If you took it down to the bare bones, this was really just a good pop song dressed up in leather and smelling like booze and cigarettes. It easily became a strip club and partying classic. I may not have been a Mötley Crüe fan, but when they hit the mark like this, I gotta give them credit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:   This song is basically about the band's visits to various strip clubs and the girls that work in them and the "romances" the might have had with a few. The tune mentions several clubs by name including ones in the US, Canada, and France. The video for the song was to originally be shot in an L.A. club called The Body Shop. The club was an all-nude venue, which was fine with the band, but place was dry - they didn't serve alcohol. Of course the heavy-partying Crüe wasn't up for that so the shoot was switched over to the Sunset Strip club The Seventh Veil. Video music director Wayne Isham, who had worked with the band on two previous videos, got everything filmed, but knew a video about guys in a strip club might not sit well with MTV. So he employed an old-time strategy when it came to touchy stuff like this. His initial edit of the video included topless dancers, which he knew would not be acceptable to MTV. He sent it along anyway and sure enough, they balked. This then allowed Isham to re-edit the video to meet MTV's guidelines and suddenly what might have been a bit too much if first show seemed mild compared to the more outrageous first edit. The ol' switcheroo worked with MTV accepting the new version. It quickly became one of their top videos. (Both versions are available on YouTube these days, but you have to have a verified adult account to see the original version.)


Friday, May 22, 2020

"Wot's It to Ya" by Robbie Nevil

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3141
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  76
Peak:  10
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Nevil's solo career got kicked off with the #2 hit "C'est la Vie," the first single from his self-titled debut album. A second single, "Dominoes," would also do well but miss out on the Pop Top 10 (#14). This third single would end up reversing the trend. It would be able to crack the Top 10 while also reaching #10 at Dance and #69 R&B.

ReduxReview:  I preferred Nevil's previous two singles over this reggae-influenced one, but it really was a solid follow-up. Between his three singles, Nevil showed off different styles that didn't paint him in a specific corner. If he had a radio-ready ballad on the album, that would have the icing on the cake, but one wasn't there and no further singles from the LP were released. Still, the three hits set his career in motion. Out of the three singles, I don't hear this one anymore. It has kind of disappeared over the years.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was co-written by Nevil and Brock Walsh. Like Nevil, Walsh's career in the music biz began as a songwriter. He started to gain attention in the early 80s with artists like Barry Manilow, Marty Balin, and James Ingram recording his songs. Walsh's career got a significant boost when a track he wrote with Mark Goldenberg titled "Automatic" became a #5 Pop hit in 1984 for The Pointer Sisters. Other artists like Bette Midler and Earth, Wind & Fire then came knocking for tunes. Nevil and Walsh ran in the same songwriting circles and the pair ended up working together and co-writing with Melissa Manchester her 1985 track "Mathematics" (#74 Pop). When Nevil got his recording contract, he hooked up with Walsh and the pair co-wrote three songs for Nevil's debut album including this hit. Walsh did attempt a solo career a couple of times over the years. He recorded a promo single for Arista in 1979, but nothing came from it. In 1983, he signed with WEA and recorded the album Dateline: Tokyo. The LP was only released in Japan. Again, it didn't do much to kickstart a solo career. Walsh would continue to write songs for other artists including ones for Christina Aguilera and Celine Dion.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

"If I Was Your Girlfriend" by Prince

Song#:  3140
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  67
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Prince scored his tenth Pop Top 10 hit with "Sign o' the Times," the first single from his double album of the same name. The song would also be his fifth #1 at R&B. While Prince wrote that tune specifically for the album, most of the other tracks were taken from three other unreleased projects including Dream Factory and the triple-disc Crystal Ball. This second single from the LP was originally intended for a Prince alter ego project titled Camille. It featured a sparse arrangement along with a vocal from Prince that was processed to make his voice sound higher and more androgynous. The tune wasn't quite as mainstream as his previous singles and that was certainly reflected on the Pop chart where it stalled early and disappeared after a few weeks. It was actually his worst result on the Pop chart since 1981's #70 "Controversy." It did better at R&B, but it stopped shy of the Top 10 at #12. The album was still selling well, but it really needed another hit to boost interest. That would come with the LP's third single.

ReduxReview:  The lingering question I've always had is why in the hell was this released as a single? Talk about a momentum killer. This tune had no business being a single. It picked up enough airplay to do okay at R&B, but I think that was just mainly driven by Prince's name and it being a follow-up to a big #1 hit. There was just no way this was going to do anything beyond that. It was too odd and esoteric with Prince's adjusted vocals and nary a memorable chorus to be heard. Now, is it a bad song? Not at all. It is actually a pretty cool track and it worked well on the album. I just thought it was silly to push it as a single when there were other more radio-friendly tracks available. It could have easily killed the run of the album along with sales, but Prince was lucky that further singles were strong enough to overcome this blip of bad judgement.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Prince's recording engineer for this album and others from this era was Susan Rogers. Rogers was not a musician herself, but fell in love with the technical aspects of recording music. After learning about sound equipment and the process of recording, Rogers secured a job as a technician for an audio company in L.A. A few years later she was working at Rudy Records studio, which was run by David Crosby and Graham Nash. When 1983 rolled around, through a connection she learned that Prince was looking for a new technician for his Minneapolis studio. Rogers got the job and made the move. Upon arrival, Prince informed Rogers that he didn't want her for the tech position, but wanted her to be the house engineer. She agreed and her first big project with Prince ended up being the classic Purple Rain soundtrack. Rogers stayed with Prince for the next five years through to the Sign o' the Times album. She would then go on to work with other artists as an engineer, but then also branched out to the producer's chair. Rogers would co-produce the 4x platinum selling 1998 album Stunt by the Barenaked Ladies, which included the #1 hit "One Week." Rogers would end up leaving the music business to pursue a Ph.D, which would lead to her being on the faculty at Boston's Berklee College of Music.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

"Back in the High Life Again" by Steve Winwood

Song#:  3139
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  13
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Winwood's fourth solo album Back in the High Life would be the best selling of his career. It would go triple platinum thanks to three hit singles including the #8 Pop/#1 AC "The Finer Things." To cap off the successful run of the album, this title track single was released as its final single. It would be a hit at AC becoming Winwood's second song to top that chart. While it wouldn't do as well at Pop or Rock, it still made an impact on each chart getting inside the Top 20 at #13 and #19, respectively.

ReduxReview:  This mandolin-driven track came along at the right time. Bruce Hornsby & the Range were scoring hits with their Americana sound and this song had a similar feel, so it fit right in on both pop and AC radio. I thought it was strong enough to reach the Pop Top 10, but it ended up stopping just short of that mark. It was my second favorite track from the LP following "Higher Love." The tune's relaxed, breezy feel and message about turning things back around to the positive was always a joy to hear. I don't know if Winwood was ever approached by the Miller Corporation, but it seemed like a no-brainer that they would secure this song for use in an ad campaign for Miller High Life beer. If Miller did indeed drop the ball on this, it had to be doubly painful when their competition Anheuser-Busch picked up Winwood's "Don't You Know What the Night Can Do" from his next LP for use in their commercials for Michelob beer. Ya snooze, ya lose.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Winwood's album had been released earlier in '86, which made it eligible for the '87 Grammy awards. It would generate six nominations and would win three including Record of the Year for the single "Higher Love." Since "Back in the High Life Again" was released in '87, it then became eligible for Grammy consideration for the '88 awards and it would receive a nomination for Record of the Year (it lost to Paul Simon's "Graceland").  2) The album featured appearances by several famous singers and musicians including Chaka Khan, James Ingram, Dan Hartman, Joe Walsh, Nile Rodgers, and Jocelyn Brown. This title-track tune also had a big name attached to it. Superstar James Taylor provided background vocals on the track.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"Moonlighting (Theme)" by Al Jarreau

Song#:  3138
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  86
Peak:  23
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  In March of '85 a new comedy/drama series called Moonlighting debuted. The show starred Cybill Shepherd and a then-unknown Bruce Willis. Composer Lee Holdridge was in charge of the music and when it came time to write a theme song, Holdridge worked on one with singer/songwriter Al Jarreau. The tune was recorded and it served as the show's opening theme beginning with the second episode (the first episode was actually presented as a TV movie with the Jarreau song playing over the end credits). Had the show failed, the theme song might have been a lost track or a sought out rarity in Jarreau's catalog, but the show did become a success and music became a key element in several episodes with Shepherd and Willis even showing off their pipes on occasion. When the show reached its peak audience in its third season, producers wanted to capitalize on the moment and decided to toss together a soundtrack album of songs used in the program. The LP consisted of a few songs by Shepherd and Willis along with some classic tracks that were used on the show. And of course, this theme song would be included. It would get a little bit of a makeover courtesy of producer Nile Rodgers and then be released as a single. The tune was a perfect fit for AC and it ended up reaching #1 on that chart. Helped by the popularity of the show, the tune would cross over to the Pop chart and peak just outside of the Top 20. It would also reach #32 at R&B. The album would then sell pretty well getting to #50. This song would end up being Jarreau's last to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I loved Moonlighting and most anyone who watched the show liked its theme song. It was kind of a no-brainer to get it out as a single during the shows peak, but it was a pretty good call to get a related soundtrack album out as well. It wasn't necessarily a great album, but it was released just at the right time. I ended up buying it due to the show and this hit. It wasn't surprising that this song did well at AC, but even at the time I was surprised it got so far up the Pop chart. I'm pretty sure the show's popularity and single sales boosted it that far as I don't remember ever hearing it on the radio. It's still a good adult-oriented smooth jazz tune and brings back good memories of a TV show I loved.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Another song that was featured in the show's debut episode was Jarreau's interpretation of the standard "Since I Fell for You." Jarreau had recorded the tune with jazz artists Bob James and David Sanborn for their 1986 album Double Vision. That album would win the Grammy for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental while "Since I Fell for You" would earn Jarreau a nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. The song would then be included on the Moonlighting soundtrack and would be issued out as its second single. It would miss the Pop chart, but would be a hit at AC getting to #10. Jarreau would get two more Grammy nods with the theme song. It would be nominated for Best Song Specifically Written for a Motion Picture or Television (nods for both Jarreau and Holdridge). Jarreau would get a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.  2) Although Jarreau's time on the Pop chart would come to an end with this song, over the next few years he would still grab some entries at R&B and AC. His best effort after this was 1988's "So Good," the lead single from his album Hearts Horizon. It would reach #2 R&B and #27 AC. While it didn't generate any major hits, his 1992 album Heaven and Earth would win Jarreau the Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. After one more major label album, Jarreau would record for various jazz labels over the years and earn a sixth Grammy in 2007. Just two days after announcing his retirement from performing in 2017, Jarreau passed away from respiratory failure.


Monday, May 18, 2020

"She Don't Look Back" by Dan Fogelberg

Song#:  3137
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  84
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Between 1972 and 1985, Fogelberg released ten albums. Eight solo, one duet (with Tim Weisberg), and one hits collection. All of them would be certified gold or platinum with four of them going double-platinum. During that time he would also amass eleven Pop Top 40 entries with four of them hitting the Top 10. His 1985 album High Country Snows would take a turn towards country and although it didn't featured any major pop hits, the LP would still be a gold seller. Two years later, Fogelberg would return to his soft rock sound for Exiles. The musical landscape of the late 80s had significantly changed since Fogelberg's chart heydays earlier in the decade and the question was if his style of music was still viable on pop radio and the Pop chart. The question was answered when this first single was released. While the tune did surprisingly well on the Rock chart getting to #13, it was pretty much a non-starter at Pop. It dropped off the chart after circling the bottom for a few weeks. Further singles then failed to reach the Pop chart. On the bright side, Fogelberg's soft rock was in-step with AC radio and two tracks from the LP would be hits there including the #2 "Lonely in Love." With the mixed results, album sales sagged a bit. It could only get to #48 and would be his first to not be certified gold. In the end, this would be Fogelberg's last song to reach the Pop chart. Over the years, he would release three more studio albums plus a Christmas disc and another duet effort with Tim Weisberg. Fogelberg would die of prostate cancer in 2007. In 2009, a posthumous album titled Love in Time would be released. It would reach #117 becoming his first album to chart since 1993. A 1979 concert by Fogelberg would be issued out in 2017 as Live at Carnegie Hall and it would reach #71.

ReduxReview:  Well, it's not like he didn't try. Fogelberg and his co-producer Russ Kunkel did their best to frame this song in a modern way. In fact, it nearly sounds like they used "Footloose" and other Kenny Loggins songs as their inspiration. I thought it turned out quite well. The song had a hooky chorus with a nice transitional bridge, solid 80s production, and Fogelberg even put more of a rock edge to his voice. In addition to Loggins, this is a song that perhaps even Journey might have done at the time. The song was embraced by rock stations and nearly cracked the Rock Top 10, but for some reason it just wasn't clicking at Pop. I'm not sure, but I always thought the song got ignored because it was Fogelberg. He kind of got tagged as a soft rock AC artist and he wasn't necessarily welcomed back with open arms especially after a country album. And frankly, much of the younger MTV crowd had no idea who he was and were not interested in someone their parents liked. Had this been released a few years earlier, it probably would have done much better.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Including 1984's Windows and Walls, Fogelberg wrote every single song for his solo albums save for one co-write. It wasn't until High Country Snows that Fogelberg began to toss in a couple of cover tunes. Exiles contained one, a remake of the Stephen Stills/Manassas song "It Doesn't Matter." That track from the 1972 debut album by Manassas was released as their first single and it got to #61. Fogelberg's next album, 1990's The Wild Places would featured two cover tunes including "Rhythm of the Rain." That song was originally recorded by the vocal group The Cascades and released as a single in 1962. It would reach #3 on the Pop chart and would be the group's only major hit. Although uncredited, Fogelberg's version utilized a bit of The Beatles' song "Rain," which was the b-side to their 1966 #1 hit "Paperback Writer." Fogelberg's "Rhythm of the Rain" would be released as the first single from The Wild Places. It would be his last charting song reaching #3 at AC.


Sunday, May 17, 2020

"Why You Treat Me So Bad" by Club Nouveau

Song#:  3136
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  39
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This group headed up by Jay King scored an across the board smash hit with their remake of Bill Withers' 1972 #1 "Lean on Me." In addition to reaching #1 on the Pop and Dance charts and #2 R&B, Club Nouveau's version would go gold and win a Grammy. The song was the third single lifted from their debut album Life, Love & Pain. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It would become their fourth Top 10 at R&B reaching #2. However, the song didn't have the same mainstream appeal as "Lean on Me" and it stalled just inside the Top 40 mark at Pop while getting to #22 at Dance. The album would end up being a platinum seller that got to #2 R&B/#6 Pop. Unfortunately,, the group's luck quickly ran out. Their next two albums failed to generate any major hits with none of their singles reaching the Pop chart and only 1989's "No Friend of Mine" doing anything at R&B (#12). Those results left them off the Warner Bros. roster and it seems that after a couple of indie LPs, the group stopped recording. A version of the group with Jay King still exists and continues to tour as of this posting date.

ReduxReview:  There is a lot to like about this song. The dramatic opening is really interesting along with the bassline and groove. The production is spot-on as well. It's a cool track that was miles ahead of their cheezy "Lean on Me" remake. It's a shame it didn't do better on the Pop chart. At least it made the Top 40. Of course following up a big mainstream hit like "Lean on Me" was going to be difficult with folks expecting another Pop-leaning single from the group. When this one showed up, it didn't really fit the bill. Its slinky R&B groove just wasn't what Joe middle-America was looking for after the band's goofy people-pleasing remake of a classic. I was never a fan of Club Nouveau, but they did have a couple of good tracks on their debut album including this one.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song has been sampled several times over the years. In 1995, hip hop duo Luniz sampled the tune on their track "I Got 5 on It." The song was the duo's debut single and it became a platinum #2 Rap/#4 R&B/#8 Pop hit. Unfortunately like Club Nouveau, Luniz became a one-hit wonder. It seems that Puff Daddy was a fan of the Luniz track and used the bassline and beats from that song, which included the Club Nouveau sample, in his 1999 hit "Satisfy You" (#1 Rap/#1 R&B/#2 Pop). Jennifer Lopez and Ashanti would also sample Club Nouveau's song for tracks they recorded.  2) This song served as inspiration for a rock diva's debut solo album. Gwen Stefani was having massive success with her band No Doubt. While on tour in support of their 2001 double-platinum album Rock Steady, Stefani happened to hear this song, which was one of her favorite tracks from the 80s. A light went off in her head and she told band member Tony Kanal that she wanted to record the song. Not truly do a remake, but capture the 80s sound of the track and then make it more modern. The inspiration kickstarted her solo project which would culminate in her 2004 debut solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. The disc would feature songs inspired by several 80s artists including The Cure, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Depeche Mode. The album would be highly successful hitting #5 and going triple-platinum. It would generate six Pop chart singles including the #1 hit "Hollaback Girl."