Saturday, July 4, 2020

"Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3184
Date:  07/04/1987
Debut:  80
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  28
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  Whitesnake's self-titled seventh album quickly found its way to #2 thanks to a lot of MTV exposure via the video for the LP's first single "Still of the Night" (#18 Rock/#79 Pop). The epic track may not have been the best fit for pop radio, but the more mainstream appeal of this next single ended up being just right. Once again boosted by a popular MTV video that featured actress/model Tawny Kitaen, the song steadily climbed the chart and finally reached the #1 spot in its fifteenth week. Typically, once a song has peaked it doesn't take long for it to descend the chart and end its run. However, this song took a leisurely exit spending an additional thirteen weeks on the chart. By the time the song was off the chart at the end of the year, the album had been certified for sales of over 4 million copies.

ReduxReview:  Lead singer and band founder David Coverdale wrote this song with Bernie Marsden, who had been a member of Whitesnake back in '82. Coverdale must have really believed in this song and its potential. It was an unusual move to completely redo a song a few years later for a new studio album (see below). But with the band's profile raised in the US and a chance to perhaps break through in a bigger way, my guess is that Coverdale thought it was time to give the song another chance. While I prefer the album version with its quiet opening and bigger sound, the new single version was well done. It had a more radio-friendly Survivor/Journey feel and it did help in making the song a hit. Either way, it was a strong song that finally got its day on the charts.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This was kind of a "third time's the charm" type of song. It was originally recorded by the band for their 1982 album Saints & Sinners. It was released as the LP's lead single in several countries and even charted in the UK at #34. While the album saw release in the US, it seems that the single was not released. With little to promote it, the album didn't chart in the US. After personnel changes in 1986, lead singer David Coverdale decided to re-record a couple of tracks from Saints & Sinners for the band's upcoming self-titled effort. New versions of "Here I Go Again" and "Crying in the Rain" were done for the album. When it was thought that "Here I Go Again" would be the second single, it was decided that yet a third version of the tune was in order to help its pop radio prospects in the US. Although listed as a remix, it was basically a new recording in a shorter, altered arrangement featuring different personnel. It would later be known as the USA Single Remix. Not only was this third version of the song a #1 hit in the US, but it would also get to #9 in the UK besting the original version's #34 peak. While the '87 version of the song was a radio hit, it would be the album track that would be used for the highly popular associated MTV video.


Friday, July 3, 2020

"In Love with Love" by Debbie Harry

Song#:  3183
Date:  07/04/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  70
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Harry's second solo disc, Rockbird, didn't get off to a great start with its first single, "French Kissin'," stalling at #57. A second single was attempted with "Free to Fall," but it failed to reach any chart. To try and turn things around, this next track was pushed out as a third single. The remix version would be a big hit in clubs with the song reaching #1 on the Dance chart. It would be Harry's only solo #1 on any US chart. The tune then crossed over to Pop, but it couldn't make much headway peaking at a minor #70. It would end up being Harry's last solo single to make the Pop chart. Her third album, 1989's Def, Dumb & Blonde (credited to Deborah Harry), featured the #2 Rock track "I Want That Man." Solo albums released in '93 and 2007 would each spawn one Dance Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  The remix of this song, done by the Stock Aitken Waterman team, helped to make this a Dance hit. The trio perked up the tune by adding their signature sound to an album track that was kind of meh to begin with. It may have packed dance floors, but the update wasn't enough to make it click at pop radio. The tune was bland to begin with, so SAW's adds certainly gave it a boost. Still, it didn't make it any more memorable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although this would be Harry's last solo single to reach the Pop chart, she would get one more as a member of Blondie. That band hadn't released anything since they split after 1982's The Hunter. Seventeen years later, the band got back together and recorded the LP No Exit. Its lead single, "Maria," would hit #9 at Dance and would briefly cross over to the Pop chart where it stopped at a low #82. Although the single didn't do all that well on the Pop chart, it did get a lot of attention as did the band's reunion, which helped the album get to #18. In the UK "Maria" would hit #1 while the album would get to #3 and go gold.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

"When Smokey Sings" by ABC

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3182
Date:  07/04/1987
Debut:  86
Peak:  5
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  The UK band scored their first US Pop Top 10 with 1985's "Be Near Me" (#9), a track from their third album How to Be a...Zillionaire! After things with the album wrapped up, lead singer Martin Fry had to take time off for treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Following his recovery, Fry picked back up with ABC, which had been reduced to the duo of Fry and Mark White. The pair would then co-produce their next LP, Alphabet City, with Bernard Edwards. This first single would be released and it would end up becoming the band's biggest hit in the US reaching #1 Dance, #2 AC, and #5 Pop. A follow-up single, "The Night You Murdered Love," would be another Dance hit getting to #3, but it would fail to make the Pop chart. A third single failed at Pop as well. Without more to promote it, the album stopped at a minor #48. Unfortunately, this song would end up being the band's last to reach the Pop chart. Fry and White would release two more albums as ABC in '89 and '91, but neither charted in the US. The pair split after that. Fry would comeback on his own under the ABC moniker for albums in '97 and 2008. In 2016, Fry would record The Lexicon of Love II, a sequel to ABC's gold-selling 1982 debut album.

ReduxReview:  With Alphabet City, the band returned to the sophisticated pop sound of their '82 debut album that spawned hits like "The Look of Love" and it paid off. This was the album that they should have released as a follow-up instead of the darker, rock-leaning Beauty Stab. It took them five years to get back to basics, but it was worth it. This track was such a pleasurable listen. Its retro Motown sound updated for the 80s was just the right combination for the time. Add on to that the Smokey Robinson connection, who was back on the charts again (see below), and there was little doubt that this would go Top 10. It's still a great track. It's a shame "The Night You Murdered Love" didn't chart. It was a worthy follow-up. It was also a shock that ABC never made the Pop chart again especially after scoring their biggest hit. Some of their songs stay in rotation on my playlists and every so often I revisit their first four albums. They were a bit underrated in my opinion.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song, written by Fry and White, was a tribute to R&B/soul superstar Smokey Robinson. Robinson would have a long string of hits as a solo artist and as lead singer/songwriter of The Miracles, whose first major hit came in 1960 with the #1 R&B/#2 Pop "Shop Around." The bass line of "When Smokey Sings" was created as an homage to The Miracles' 1970 #1 "Tears of a Clown." When ABC's song came out, Robinson was experiencing a comeback. Earlier in the year he scored a #1 AC/#2 R&B/#8 Pop hit with "Just to See Her," his first major crossover hit since 1981. It's follow-up, "One Heartbeat," would debut on the Pop chart just two weeks after "When Smokey Sings." For a week in October, both songs would hold positions in the Pop Top 10.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

"Shattered Glass" by Laura Branigan

Song#:  3181
Date:  07/04/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  48
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  Branigan's fourth LP, Hold Me, didn't perform as well as her previous platinum seller, 1984's Self Control. The album lacked a major hit with only "Spanish Eddie" making the Pop Top 40 (#40). Afterwards, Branigan decided to take more control of her career. She hired on new management and parted ways with her long-time producer Jack White. For her next album, Touch, Branigan worked with producer David Kershenbaum. When the tracks were finished, Branigan still thought it lacked a more powerful hit. To address this, she reached out to the Stock Aitken Waterman production team who had been doing well with artists like Bananarama and Dead or Alive. Branigan went to London to work with the team and came back home with two new recordings. This first single was one of those tracks. The song got her back near the Top 10 on the dance chart peaking at #13. It was also a minor entry at AC reaching #27. At Pop, the song would be her first lead single from an album to miss the Top 40. She would rebound a bit with her follow-up single, but it didn't do much to help sell the album, which became her lowest peaking to-date at #87.

ReduxReview:  Like Branigan, I thought this would be a hit. The SAW team put their stamp on a good pop tune with Branigan selling it to the hilt. It should have at least been a Top 20 entry. I'm even surprised it didn't make the Dance Top 10. It easily ranks right alongside Branigan's big hits. Why it didn't do better is a mystery. Maybe it wasn't promoted well enough or perhaps Branigan was just getting overlooked due to the advent of newer pop/dance divas taking over the scene like Madonna and Janet Jackson, both of whom were hitting with strong songs that they had a hand in writing. Whatever it was, listeners missed out on a very good dance-pop tune.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Bob Mitchell and Steve Coe and was first recorded by singer Ellie Warren in 1980. Warren had been singing background vocals for other artists in the studio and on tours before seeking the limelight herself. She signed on with Precision Records and recorded "Shattered Glass." Despite positive responses from DJs and good airplay, the song didn't chart. Warren released several other singles for Precision and a couple of other labels, but nothing took. Apparently, Warren later married and moved to Zimbabwe where she still sings and performs.  2) Branigan performed this song on the last episode of American Bandstand that aired on ABC. The music show featuring host Dick Clark had been on the air since 1952 and on ABC since 1957. As the 80s wore on and MTV began taking over the musical airwaves, Bandstand's audience began to dwindle. In the fall of '86, ABC cut the length of the show to half an hour, but it still wasn't working. Clark then asked for the show to end its ABC run and on September 7, 1987, the last Bandstand featuring Laura Branigan aired on ABC. Clark moved the show to syndication and restored its hour run time, but it didn't last long. The last Bandstand show aired on October 7, 1989.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

"Hearts Away" by Night Ranger

Song#:  3180
Date:  07/04/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  90
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Night Ranger had a lot of ground to make up. The first single from their fourth album Big Life, the movie theme "The Secret of My Success," stalled at a low #64 on the Pop chart (#12 Rock). It was a disappointment coming off of three Top 20 hits, including one Top 10, from their platinum-selling previous LP 7 Wishes. To try and get thing back on track, this next single was released. Unfortunately, it was virtually a non-starter. After three short weeks it dropped off the Pop chart while not even making the Rock chart. Still, the album managed to make it to #28 and go gold, but it was considered a misstep and the band's career trajectory started to head south.

ReduxReview:  Releasing a power ballad after the failure of "Secret" was a good move. After all, their two biggest hits were power ballads, so it seemed like a no-brainer to push this one out and expect a sizable hit. It didn't happen. I'm not exactly sure why. It was a pretty good tune, even if it wasn't quite as memorable as their previous hits. I would have expected at least a Top 40 showing from the tune, but it flopped even worse than "Secret." I think there was a bit of backlash against the band for going the Hollywood/David Foster route and that may have played a part. Fans were less supportive and radio decided they had had enough of the same power ballad sound from the band. The album really wasn't very good, but this track stood out from the rest and deserved a bit more attention.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The band gave it one more go with a third single from the album. "Color of Your Smile" would be pushed out, but with "Hearts Away" stalling quickly, there was little to support the song and it failed to make any chart. After seven consecutive Top 20 entries at Rock, five Pop Top 20 hits, and two platinum albums, the band hit a big stumbling block. It seemed their brand of mainstream rock was on the outs while the beefier glam rock sounds of bands like Bon Jovi were picking up the mantle.


Monday, June 29, 2020

"Stand Back" by The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Song#:  3179
Date:  07/04/1987
Debut:  95
Peak:  76
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Blues-Rock, Soul

Pop Bits:  The blues-rock band from Texas scored an unexpected hit in '86 with the #10 "Tuff Enuff" (#4 Rock). The associated Dave Edmunds-produced album of the same name would reach #13 and go platinum. For a follow-up, the band went back into the studio with Edmunds and came out with their sixth studio LP Hot Number. This first single was released and it did well at Rock reaching #8. It then crossed over to Pop, but it really couldn't get a leg up and stumbled around the bottom quarter of the chart for a few weeks. Without a bigger hit to support it, the album stopped at #49.

ReduxReview:  This was a good rockin' soul song written by band leader Kim Wilson. The chorus is reminiscent of the 1966 #1 R&B/#21 Pop hit "Hold On, I'm Comin'" by Sam & Dave. Edmund's production was spot-on as was the arrangement. I think the reason it didn't do so well at Pop was due to it being a retro soul-styled song. "Tuff Enuff" had more of a rock edge along the lines of ZZ Top and a catchier chorus. It just played better to a more mainstream audience. However, this is still a solid tune from the band and it should have done a bit better.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  With their profile raised thanks to "Tuff Enuff" going Top 10, the band had more opportunities come their way. One was the chance to appear in a movie. They were tapped to provide a song for the Paul Schrader music/drama flick Light of Day that starred Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett. The band then wrote "Twist It Off" for the soundtrack and then performed it in the movie. The song then appeared on the soundtrack album. It wasn't issued out as a single. The title track song written by Bruce Springsteen and recorded by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts would become a Top 40 entry at #33 (#13 Rock).


Sunday, June 28, 2020

"It's Not Over ('Til It's Over)" by Starship

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3178
Date:  06/27/1987
Debut:  67
Peak:  9
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Earlier in '87, Starship released the single "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," a song they recorded for the rom-com flick Mannequin. It would be the band's third #1 hit. While that song was making its way up the chart, Starship put the finishing touches on the follow-up to their 1985 platinum-selling album Knee Deep in the Hoopla. Titled No Protection, the LP would include the soundtrack hit along with this next single. It would do well at Rock and Pop hitting #9 on both charts. A week after this song debuted on the Pop chart, the album would be released. It would nearly crack the Top 10 reaching #12.

ReduxReview:  Like their previous album, Starship mainly relied on outside material for No Protection. Some of it came from top songwriters like Diane Warren, Martin Page, and as in the case of this track, Robbie Nevil. Nevil, whose own career was on the rise in '87, co-wrote this son with John Van Tongeren and Phil Gladston. Although this tune leans more towards rock than the blissful pop of "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," it is still flavored with mainstream appeal. It was a good follow-up track, but in the long run it wasn't one of the band's most memorable hits. In fact, it has pretty much disappeared these days. In essence, it was a disposable track. It arrived, did it's job, and then got tossed away.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Grace Slick had been a member in all three iterations of the band: Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship. Each group had their own hits, but it was Starship that scored the biggest hits. However, that came at a bit of a cost as a larger chunk of their material was composed by songwriters outside of the band and their sound had become even more mainstream. Apparently, this ended up not sitting well with Slick and she finally threw in the towel and left the band not long after the No Protection album was released. A couple of years later, Slick joined a reunited Jefferson Airplane for an album and a tour. After that, Slick decided to retire from music. She would make occasional one-off appearances over the years, but her main focus became painting, mainly images of rock icons. She also published an autobiography in 1998 titled Somebody to Love? A Rock and Roll Memoir.