Saturday, June 13, 2020

"Good Times" by INXS and Jimmy Barnes

Song#:  3163
Date:  06/20/1987
Debut:  95
Peak:  47
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  INXS's fifth album, 1985's Listen Like Thieves, gained them a bigger audience thanks to its #5 lead single "What You Need." Follow-up singles didn't make much of an impression on the Pop chart, but the lone hit was enough to send the album to #11 and eventually it would be a double-platinum seller. While the band prepped their next LP, they got an opportunity to record a song for a film soundtrack. They got in the studio with fellow Aussie music star Jimmy Barnes and recorded this song for the 1987 comedy-horror vampire flick The Lost Boys starring Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric. The track would be released as a single and it did well at Rock reaching #3. The tune crossed over to the Pop chart, but it was unable to crack the Top 40. Still, with the film being a summer hit, the soundtrack became a cult-ish favorite and sold well enough to reach #15.

ReduxReview:  This blast of 60s rock was a solid fit for INXS and the pairing of Barnes was a good choice. This was a big hit in Australia (#2) and New Zealand (#1), but it didn't quite get the same love on the US Pop chart. It was a rip-roarin' track and it certainly sounded like everyone involved was indeed having a good time. It's too bad it didn't do a little better and at least make the Top 40.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of song originally recorded by the Australian rock band The Easybeats. Written by band members George Young and Harry Vanda, their 1968 version was a modest hit in Australia reaching #22. The Easybeats were very successful at home scoring seven Top 10 hits including two #1s. Their only charting song in the US was 1966's "Friday on My Mind," which got to #16.  2) In addition to this song, INXS and Barnes co-wrote another track that appeared on the b-side of this single and on the soundtrack album titled "Laying Down the Law." Both songs and a video for "Good Times" were completed by the artists in a quick day-and-a-half period that was apparently sleepless and enhanced by whiskey and a few drugs. When the artists got together to do the work, their goal was to just have fun and apparently they did. In an interview with Goldmine, Barnes shared that "by the time we had finished, we’d had a lot of fun, we’d made a great record and we’d drank our weight in whiskey. I think we’d just about destroyed the studio, but we were young and foolish — what can I say?"


Friday, June 12, 2020

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2

#1 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3162
Date:  06/13/1987
Debut:  51
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  U2 scored their first #1 hit with "With or Without You," the first single from their fifth studio album The Joshua Tree. As the LP was spending its eighth week of a nine week run at #1, this second single debuted on the Pop chart. It would quickly make its way up the chart and become the band's second #1. The track would also get to #2 at Rock and #16 at AC. The gospel-influenced song would end up getting Grammy nominations for both Record and Song of the Year. While it was considered a heavy favorite to win both categories, it got aced out by "Graceland" by Paul Simon (Record of the Year) and "Somewhere Out There" by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram (Song of the Year). However, the band didn't go home empty handed. They won for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group and Album of the Year.

ReduxReview:  This gospel flavored track was the exact right song to release after "With or Without You." Its memorable chorus, universal message, and mainstream appeal made it an easy contender to top the chart. There must have been a bit of divine intervention in getting this song out as it wasn't supposed to be the second single (see below). While I liked "Red Hill Mining Town," it really wasn't a single-worthy track and it could have easily affected the album's momentum. Plus, the video was awful. Luckily for them, fate intervened and the right song got released. It not only became a signature song for the band, but a lasting classic of the era. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed the song at #93 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was their second highest ranking song on the list. Their 1991 hit "One" would come in at #36.


Trivia:  This song was not originally scheduled to be released as the album's second single. The track "Red Hill Mining Town" was to be pushed out, but ended up getting set aside and ultimately was not issued out as a single. There were a couple of reasons for the this. First, the band ended up not liking the video that was filmed for the song, which had been directed by Neil Jordan (Mona Lisa, The Crying Game). Second, it ended up that Bono just couldn't sing the song in a live setting. The chorus hit the very upper register of Bono's range, which is apparent on the recording. When he tried to sing it in rehearsals for the band's tour, he just wasn't hitting the notes. The band then decided to not play the song on tour. Because the band couldn't really perform or promote the song in a live setting, it wasn't very smart to release it as a single. Therefore, plans were scrapped and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was quickly pushed out instead. It turned out to be a wise choice with the song hitting #1 and garnering two Grammy nods. The associated video for the song also became a big hit on MTV and would later be nominated for four MTV Music Video Awards. U2 wouldn't perform "Red Hill Mining Town" in concert until 2017 when they did a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree. they wanted to play the full album from beginning to end and therefore had to include the track.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

"Hearts on Fire" by Bryan Adams

Song#:  3161
Date:  06/13/1987
Debut:  71
Peak:  26
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The lead single from Adams' fifth album Into the Fire, "Heat of the Night," performed well reaching #2 on the Rock chart and #6 Pop. It wasn't necessarily a huge hit, but it did match the #6 peak of "Run to You," the first single from his previous album Reckless, which ended up selling over 5 million copies. For the new album to even get close to that sales figure, Adams was going to need another solid Top 10 hit to keep things going. This next track was selected to try and accomplish that goal, but it just didn't do the job. The tune did well at Rock getting to #3, but the song didn't have the same appeal as his previous hits and it stalled after reaching the Top 30. It was a disappointment coming on the heels of an album that spawned five Top 15 hits.

ReduxReview:  This tune isn't all that bad. It has a good Springsteen-esque arena rock chorus and is overall engaging. I think the problem was that it sounded too much like his previous songs and didn't offer anything new or interesting. While Reckless contained a nice variety of A-level material, this song played like a B-level reject from those sessions. It also didn't help that Adams and songwriting partner Jim Vallance had been cranking out material and selling it to other artists for a few years and while that probably made them some good money, I think it took away from concentrating on creating better material for Adams' album. Basically, their songwriting was becoming color-by-the-numbers and this track was a good example of that. We'd heard it before, but better, and the formula was wearing thin. I think Adams realized that too as their writing partnership disintegrated after this album. It would prove to be a good thing with Adams' next LP getting him back near Restless level sales.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1990 prior to releasing his next album, Adams was tapped to make a guest appearance at a massive outdoor concert. Pink Floyd's Roger Waters decided to do a live concert version of his band's classic 1979 album The Wall. It was to be performed outdoors in Berlin. The Berlin Wall had fallen in November of '89 and the unoccupied space between East and West Berlin provide the space to put out a huge show for a massive crowd. After the logistics were set, Waters then set out to secure top names to perform various songs. Several artists that he wanted like Bruce Springsteen either had conflicts or didn't want to do the show. Others who said yes ended up dropping out due to conflicts once the concert date was set. Still, Waters prevailed and he got a few major artists to perform including Joni Mitchell, The Scorpions, Cyndi Lauper, and Van Morrison. Bryan Adams ended up performing the song "Young Lust." Originally, Rod Stewart was to sing the tune, but he bailed due to a scheduling conflict and Adams filled in. The sold out concert had 350,000 ticketed attendees with another 100,000 later able to join in on the fringe edges of the main crowd. The event was filmed and recorded for release. While Adams' song was not issue as a single from the concert album, it did get enough airplay to reach #7 on the Rock chart.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

"Don't Mean Nothing" by Richard Marx

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3160
Date:  06/13/1987
Debut:  78
Peak:  3
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  In his late teens, Marx was already an accomplished musician and songwriter who had aspirations to be in the music business. By age 17, he already had a demo tape that he sent around to various people. Somehow, one of those tapes ended up with Lionel Richie. Richie was impressed with what he heard and actually called Marx. Richie encouraged Marx to move out to L.A. and offered to help him along, but with no guarantees that anything would happen for the young musician. Marx took off and soon found himself supplying background vocals on Lionel Richie's 1982 self-titled debut solo album. Two years later, two songs that he co-wrote ended up on Kenny Rogers' What About Me album including the #1 AC/#15 title track. More vocal work and songwriting credits came his way and it wasn't long before Marx was able to parlay all that into his own recording contract with EMI Manhattan Records. By the summer of '87, his self-titled debut album was ready to go. This first single was released and it became a big hit at Rock reaching #1. The tune also did well on the Pop chart hitting #3. The song would end up earning Marx and Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance. Marx's career was off and running.

ReduxReview:  This fun rocker came out at the right time. Besides Bryan Adams, Bob Seger, and a couple of other artists, there wasn't a lot of straight-forward commercial rock on the Pop chart and it seemed that there was a market for it. This tune fit the bill with its hooky guitar licks, bluesy feel, and a big chorus featuring a nice falsetto turn by Marx. It kind of has a late-70s Eagles feel to it, but updated for the late 80s. Having three members from the Eagles guest on the track certainly helped the song gain that feel. It was a nice radio-ready blast of rock that established Marx's career. The tune is still a fun listen.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Richard's father, Dick Marx, was a successful musician himself. He was a jazz pianist and arranger who worked with several jazz and pop stars over the years. He also had his own career as a recording artist and released a few albums for a couple of labels in the late 50s. But perhaps his biggest successes came in the 60s and 70s when he ran his own jingle company. His jingles were heard by millions of people and were done for high profile companies like Kellogg, Dial, and Wrigley. Anyone alive during those decades will probably remember Marx's jingle "Ask any mermaid you happen to see, what's the best Tuna? Chicken of the Sea!" He also did scoring and arranging for TV shows and films such as the 1992 hit A League of Their Own. Both Richard and his mother would occasionally help out in the family business by singing on some of the jingles. Richard would help out on kid-related commercials including a 1976 ad for Peter Pan peanut butter ("If you believe in peanut butter, clap your hands!").


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

"Since You've Been Gone" by The Outfield

Song#:  3159
Date:  06/13/1987
Debut:  80
Peak:  31
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock, Power Pop

Pop Bits:  This UK band's first album, Play Deep, was a triple-platinum #9 success thanks to a pair of Top 20 hits including the #6 "Your Love." When it came time for a follow-up, the band stayed with the same formula of their debut with member John Spinks writing the songs and producer William Whitman guiding it all. As the summer of '87 began, they released the LP Bangin' and this first single got things kicked off. The track did pretty well at Rock just missing out on the Top 10 at #11. Over on the Pop chart, the tune seemed to be making good strides, but not long after it reached the Top 40, it stalled. It was a disappointing result that had an effect on album sales. The same week this song peaked at #31, the album reached its peak of #18. It would eventually go gold, but that was a far cry from the 3 million copies the band's debut sold.

ReduxReview:  This song sounded like, well, The Outfield. For anyone that liked their previous hits, this one should have satisfied them as well. Oddly, it stopped earlier than expected on the Pop chart. It was another solid slice of power pop led by Tony Lewis' unique voice. While it may not have been as catchy as "Your Love," I thought for sure it would make the Top 20. Still, they needed something a bit stronger to kick off the new album. Really, this song sounds like it might have been the fifth single from their debut and that may have been the issue. Although a good song, it just didn't advance the band in any way.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although this band is from the UK, their sound was more inline with American rock and that played well in the US with the band scoring several hits. However, it wasn't as well received back at home. Two songs from their debut album barely scraped the UK chart while the album didn't even make the chart. That followed through with their second album as neither it or any of its singles hit the UK charts. Their third album would produced one low charting single in the UK and that would be it for the band. The US was their primary market and they remained popular for many years while back home they couldn't gain an audience.


Monday, June 8, 2020

"Boy Blue" by Cyndi Lauper

Song#:  3158
Date:  06/13/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  71
Weeks:  4
Genre:   Pop

Pop Bits:  Lauper's second album, True Colors, was doing well. It had matched the #4 peak of her debut LP She's So Unusual and sales were good thanks to a pair of Top 10 hits. But then the third single, a remake of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," stopped shy of the Top 10 and interest in the album started to wane. Lauper needed a solid hit to get things back on track and she attempted to do that with this fourth single. Unfortunately, it wasn't what pop radio or listeners were looking for from her and the song stalled low on the chart and disappeared after a month. The result halted momentum on the album and sales would top out at the double-platinum level, which was only a third of what her debut sold. Certainly not a bad outcome, but overall it didn't meet expectations. This song would be the final single released from the album. It was also Lauper's first to not crack the Pop Top 40.

ReduxReview:  I really liked this song and the sentiment behind it (see below). Lauper's vocal was impassioned and impressive. You could tell that she put her all into the tune. Although the track is a highlight from the album, it wasn't necessarily the best one to release for a single. The chorus is memorable, but the tune as a whole wasn't as commercially viable as her previous quirky or sentimental singles. Because of that, folks basically ignored the song and therefore missed out on its meaning and background. It would have been nice if it had at least cracked the Top 40, but it just didn't have enough radio-ready appeal to break through.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Lauper along with Stephen Broughton Lunt and Jeff Bova. Lauper wrote it for her friend Gregory Natal. Natal hadn't had the easiest life. He was kicked out of his house when he was 12 and also spent time living on the streets. His life started to come together in his mid-20s, but then he was diagnosed with AIDS. Around the time that Lauper shot the video for "She Bop," in which Natal and his partner Carl can be seen as a robotic customers at a fast food joint, Natal told Lauper of his condition. During his last days in the hospital, Natal told Lauper that he'd love for her to write a song for him that would be in the tradition of something like "That's What Friends Are For." Of course that Burt Bacharach style of songwriting wasn't in Lauper's wheelhouse, so after Natal's passing at the age of 27, she just decided to write what she felt in her heart and soul and came up with "Boy Blue" (apparently Natal's deep blue eyes got him nicknamed "Blue"). Proceeds from the single went to help various AIDS organizations.


Sunday, June 7, 2020

"Under the Boardwalk" by Bruce Willis

Song#:  3157
Date:  06/13/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  59
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The Moonlighting actor capitalized on his sudden fame from the hit TV show by recording an album that mainly consisted of cover tunes. The LP, titled The Return of Bruno, got released by Motown Records and its first single, "Respect Yourself," became a surprise #5 Pop hit. Its follow-up, "Young Blood," didn't fare as well only reaching #68. Despite the lower result, this third single was issued out. It did only slightly better than "Young Blood" while making it to #72 at R&B. It did much better at AC where the tune topped out at #20. Over in the UK, the song fared far better and ended up being a significant hit reaching #2. Back in the US, the album would top out at #14 and would be a gold seller.

ReduxReview:  Oh my. This is like amateur night at the local beachside hotel tiki bar. It starts off bad with the beach noises and little setup dialog and gets worse from there. You'd think that perhaps a relaxed song like this might fit in with Willis' weak vocals, but he still gets swallowed up by the classic. Just like his other singles, he sucked the soul right out of it. The arrangement is quite bland and adds nothing to the tune. The whole thing is like a can of spray cheese - a poor substitute for the original.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Drifters in 1964. Their version would reach #4 at Pop and would be their last Top 10 hit on that chart. The song has been covered by many artists, but besides The Drifters and Willis, only one other artist has reached the Pop chart with a version. Billy Joe Royal took the song to #82 in 1978.  2) Since Willis' album proved to be a success, of course there had to be a follow up. He returned in 1989 with If It Don't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger. Once again produced by Robert Kraft for Motown Records, the album still contained cover tunes, but this time around half the tracks were co-written by Willis. The first single was a remake of another Drifters song, their 1960 #1 "Save the Last Dance for Me." It did not chart. A second single, "Turn It Up (A Little Louder)," which was written by Willis and Kraft, also failed to chart. With little to promote it, the album quickly disappeared as did Willis' recording career. While he'd later sing a few songs for soundtracks, he basically kept to his day job as an actor and in 1988 became a major film star with the hit action flick Die Hard.