Saturday, August 1, 2020

"Watching Over You" by Glenn Medeiros

Song#:  3212
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  80
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Thanks to winning a talent contest in his home state of Hawaii, Medeiros would become a new pop star with his single "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You" reaching #12 Pop/#4 AC. The song would be included on his self-titled debut, which would get to #83. Up next was this second single from the album. The tune couldn't replicate the success of his first hit petering out low on the chart after a couple of months.

ReduxReview:  Since "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You" was a bit of an unexpected hit, Medeiros and his label had a couple of choices to follow it up. They could have gone with an upbeat track that would play to a younger audience (Medeiros was still a teen and becoming a pin-up boy), or they could try to maintain the same AC audience from his first hit and push out another ballad. Frankly, they should have done the former. Grab that teen audience with a fun, upbeat track. Instead they chose to do the latter and it didn't work. I think part of the reason for that was the song itself. While it's a very nice well-written ballad, it was just way too mature for Medeiros. The tune sounded like it should have been on a Dionne Warwick or Jeffery Osborne album. It skewed more adult and it just didn't suit the teenage vocalist. A case of a good song going to the wrong artist.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Paul Gordon. Gordon had been supplying songs to artists since the late 70s. Those that have recorded his tunes include The Pointer Sisters, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Dionne Warwick, and Olivia Newton-John. While none of those recordings would be charting singles, Gordon would score a pair of major hits in 1986. He co-wrote "Friends and Lovers," which was a #2 Pop/#1 AC hit for Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson (also a #1 Country hit for Juice Newton and Eddie Rabbitt the same year). Gordon would also co-write the Peter Cetera/Amy Grant duet "The Next Time I Fall." That song would top both the Pop and AC charts. He continued to sell songs to artists over the years, but he moved over to writing musicals in the 90s. Gordon would write the music and lyrics to a musical version of Jane Eyre. The show would reach Broadway in 2000. While it wasn't a major success, it did well enough to secure five Tony nominations including Best Musical and Best Original Score (for Gordon). Gordon would go on to write the music and lyrics for three Jane Austen novels, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. None would make it to Broadway. Gordon would have some success with the show Daddy Long Legs, which would have a good off-Broadway run in 2015 and would win a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical (for book writer John Caird).


Friday, July 31, 2020

"Holiday" by The Other Ones

Song#:  3211
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  29
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Alternative Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  This Germany-based band formed by three Australian siblings reached the US Pop chart with their second single "We Are What We Are" (#53 Pop/#38 Rock). It was from their self-titled debut as was this follow-up single. While the track wouldn't make the Rock chart, it received more attention at Pop than their previous single and it ended up cracking the Top 30. The hit helped to sell a few more albums, but not enough to push it passed its June peak of #139. The results were good enough to call for a second album and the band released Learning to Walk in 1988. Unfortunately, none of its singles were able to reach any chart and the album quickly disappeared. The band would part ways two years later.

ReduxReview:  This bouncy track was certainly different from the darker new wave of "We Are What We Are." The hooky tune got them a bigger audience and a Top 30 hit. I like the song just as well as "We Are What We Are," but it's like two different bands recorded the tracks. The balance of the album stays along the lines of "We Are." There isn't another quirky pop-leaning track like this one. The band was talented and should have had a longer career, but from what I've read it seems they kind of got in their own way when recording the second album and it just didn't work. It happens. At least they left behind a couple of good tunes that will hopefully be discovered by fans of 80s music.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The Other Ones' siblings Alf, Jayney, and Johnny Klimek were not the only musicians in the family to have chart success. Their younger cousins Nic and Chris Cester would form the hard rock Australian band Jet in 2001. In 2003, Jet would issue out their full-length debut album Get Born. Its first single, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," would be a hit at Rock reaching #7. Another single, "Cold Hard Bitch," would hit #1 at Rock. Both songs were certified gold for digital sales. The album would make it to #26 and become a platinum seller. Oddly, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" would be the band's biggest hit at Pop reaching #29, the same peak as "Holiday," which was The Other Ones' biggest hit.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

"Misfit" by Curiosity Killed the Cat

Song#:  3210
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  42
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop

Pop Bits:  This British quartet headed up by lead vocalist Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot formed in 1984 and a year later found themselves signed to Mercury Records. They began recording tracks for a debut album with producers Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, but the sessions didn't go as well as expected and after trying to record with a couple of other producers, the label then brought in Stewart Levine to get things done. Levine was a successful American producer who recently had great success with Simply Red. With progress finally being made, this first single was released in the fall of '86. Unfortunately, it didn't get far topping out at #76 in the UK. The label was reluctant to release another single, but the band convinced them to issue out "Down to Earth" near the end of the year. The song steadily caught on and eventually reached #3. With a major hit under their belt, their self-titled debut album was released in April of '87. It would reach #1. After another Top 20 hit, the label then reissued "Misfit" and it got to #7. By that point, the label then tried to break the band in the US with "Misfit." The single would get a little attention and eventually peak just outside of the Top 40 (and #43 Dance). It would end up being the band's only charting song in the US. They would return in '89 with their second album Getahead. It failed to replicate the success of their debut and that left them off the Mercury roster. After a line-up change and a name alteration to just Curiosity, the band signed with RCA Records. Their first single for the label was a remake of the 1974 #8 US/#3 hit "Hang On in There Baby" by US soul singer/songwriter Johnny Bristol. It became a big #3 hit in the UK. Unfortunately, further singles didn't fare well and that left their album Back to Front getting a minimal release. The band would split afterwards.

ReduxReview:  These guys came along at a good time when British sophisti-pop/blue-eyed soul groups were hitting the charts (Simply Red, Level 42, Swing Out Sister, Wet Wet Wet, etc.). Why this song didn't hit the first time around in the UK is a mystery. It was a groovy tune that was better than the song that eventually broke them, "Down to Earth." Luckily, the tune got a second chance and it turned into a hit. However, US listeners preferred their pop with big hooks and this track didn't necessarily have them. I like the song just fine, but it's one that goes in one ear and out the other and leaves virtually no trace in between.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  When the band's debut album was coming together, they found out through their label that Andy Warhol was in London for an exhibition. They finagled their way into the event and ended up meeting Warhol who took a liking to the four guys. Warhol then asked them to attend the banquet following the exhibition. Apparently it was there that Warhol requested to hear the band's music. A cassette tape of the song "Misfit" got to Warhol the next day. He liked it well enough to want to make a music video for the tune. With their label's blessing, the band flew to New York and spent a week filming with Warhol, who even made an appearance in the video. When the single was released, the video grabbed some attention in part due to the Warhol connection, but it wasn't enough to push the single up the chart the first time around.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

"Don't Look Down - The Sequel" by Go West

Song#:  3209
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  39
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Pop, Synthpop, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This English duo's self-titled debut album did fairly well in the US. It reached #60 and spawned three Pop chart entries including "We Close Our Eyes," which did the best getting to #41 (#5 Dance). Their second studio LP, Dancing on the Couch, got released earlier in '87 in the UK, but it was failing to generate a significant hit single. When the album was prepped for US release, it featured an altered track listing, which included this first single. While the song wasn't a major hit, it did become the duo's first to crack the US Pop Top 40. Further singles failed to chart and with little to promote the album it stalled at a very low #172.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song when it came out. Go West had a knack at creating hooky synth lines and this song was no exception. The chorus was also catchy and memorable. The original album version was a solid, well-written track, but this "sequel" version far outshines it. They made the synth lines sing better and the whole production was beefier and more exciting. I spun this track a lot and thought for sure it would go Top 10. I was very disappointed it just barely made the Top 40. I still keep this song spinning in a few of my playlists. It was easily their best song and it should have done far better.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) There is a reason that "The Sequel" was added to the title of the song. Originally, the tune was a track on the duo's debut album, which had spawned three hits in the UK. It was decided to issue out a fourth single, but instead of pushing out the album track as-is, a remix was done to help the song's commercial potential. To distinguish it from the album track, the single got tagged as "The Sequel." The ploy worked and the song got to #13 in the UK. However, in the US it didn't get scheduled for release following three lower charting singles. With singles from the second album not doing well in the UK, the label then decided to replace a track on the US version of the LP with the remix and then release it as a single. It worked out fairly well with the duo scoring their first US Top 40 entry.  2) The duo would not get back on the US charts in the 80s. However, in 1990 they would get their biggest hit with a soundtrack song. Go West recorded "King of Wishful Thinking" for the soundtrack to the hit film Pretty Woman. Release as a single, it would get to #8 Pop and #7 AC. They would follow it up "Faithful," a song from their third album Indian Summer. That song would get to #13 Pop/#3 AC. A follow-up single, a remake of Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do for Love" (#9, 1978), would hit #3 AC/#55 Pop. It would end up being their last charting single as they split not long after.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

"Spring Love" by The Cover Girls

Song#:  3208
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  98
Peak:  98
Weeks:  1
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This assembled NYC-based vocal trio's first single, "Show Me," was a hit in clubs and reached #4 on the Dance chart. The indie single didn't do too bad on the Pop chart nearly cracking the Top 40 (#44). Although they established themselves as a freestyle outfit with that first song, for their next single they took a different path and released this mid-tempo pop tune. It wasn't as well received and had a hard time breaking through. It scratched the R&B chart at #82 and spent one lone week on the Pop chart. If the trio was going to catch on in a bigger way, they were going to need something better than this, which did happen with their next single.

ReduxReview:  This song has a young teen feel to it and I would have though it a bit too juvenile for trio of women in their 20s to sing, but thanks to their thin, high-pitched voices, it ended up working okay for them. However, anyone who was a fan of "Show Me" wasn't going to have interest in this single. It was nice that they changed things up with their second single, but as an indie artist trying to get established, it would have been better if they stuck with what got them noticed in the first place. This is a cute little tune, but nothing that was going to further their career. They were lucky that folks gave them a second chance with their next single, which returned them to their freestyle sound.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Pete Warner and Rainy Davis. Davis was a singer/songwriter from Brooklyn that began singing with a few NY groups. Her songwriting skills came in handy when through a friend she got the opportunity to write and submit a song to Janet Jackson. Davis and her husband/writing partner Warner came up with "Sweetheart." Unfortunately, by the time it was ready to send over to Jackson, she was already deep in her session for her album Control with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. However, that disappointment led to something better. Davis was encouraged to record the song herself. She did and issued it out in '86 on the indie Supertronics label. It ended up doing fairly well reaching #24 R&B/#42 Dance. Its success led to a contract with Columbia Records. Davis recorded her debut album Sweetheart and its second single, "Lowdown So & So" would be her biggest hit reaching #9 Dance and #14 R&B. Her second album yielded only one minor charting single and that result left her off the Columbia roster. However, her original hit "Sweetheart" would later be recorded in 1998 by Mariah Carey and rapper/producer Jermaine Dupri. The song would appear on Dupri's debut album Life in 1472 while also being included on Carey's #1's album, both released in the fall in '98. While the track wasn't officially released in the US as a single, it did garner enough airplay for it to reach #53 on the R&B chart.


Monday, July 27, 2020

"Touch of Grey" by The Grateful Dead

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3207
Date:  07/25/1987
Debut:  77
Peak:  9
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  By 1986, this storied band's future was a bit uncertain. Although they were still relentlessly touring, the Dead hadn't recorded a new studio album since 1980's Go to Heaven. In addition, the health of Jerry Garcia, who was often viewed as the leader of the band, was in decline due to years of drug usage, weight gain, and other issues. It began to affect his stage presence and the band's consistency. Ultimately, the toll of all his issues would push Garcia into a diabetic coma in July of '86. Everything with the band came to a sudden halt. Luckily, Garcia would come out of the coma five days later. His recovery was slow, but with a new lease on life, Garcia was determined to clean up his act and get the band back on track, which included recording a new album. A year after Garcia's coma, the band's twelfth studio album, In the Dark, was released. To promote the album and return of the band, this first single was pushed out. Surprisingly, the song took off and it reached #1 at Rock. It then crossed over to the Pop chart to not only become the band's first Top 40 entry, but their first (and only) Top 10 hit. The tune also did well at AC getting to #15. The hit would help make the album their first to reach the Top 10 (#6). It would eventually sell over two million copies. While this track would be the Dead's last to get on the Pop chart, its popularity helped to introduce the band to a whole new generation.

ReduxReview:  A lot of folks were surprised by this hit including me. I wasn't even remotely a fan of the band. I just didn't connect with their songs and jam bands were definitely not my thing. So when their return was starting to get touted, I just shrugged my shoulders in a "so what" manner. I mean, what could they possible do that would appeal to me? And then this track came out. Whether they were aiming to do something more commercial or not, they came up with one of their most appealing radio-friendly songs of their career. It didn't take me long to hook into the tune. The genial track with its comfortable, lived-in groove and lyrics about aging gracefully sort of swayed me into their corner. Even the production was just right with the muted cowbell and tinkling keyboard adding some sweetness. The video was pretty cool too. While I liked the song, it didn't turn me into a Deadhead. I still can't get into a lot of their music, but at least I can say that I do like something of theirs. It also provided an opening for me to listen to some of their most regarded recordings.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The Dead weren't what you'd call an MTV-ready band. Their eclectic style, merging of various genres, and lengthy jams certainly didn't fit within the era of Madonna and Bon Jovi. They never even made themselves necessarily radio-ready either by trying to write a hit. So it was a bit of a surprise when the more concise, straightforward "Touch of Grey" appeared. Then it was an even bigger surprise when the band shot an actual music video for the tune - their first done specifically for MTV. But the biggest surprise of all was that both the song and the video caught on. The video, directed by Justin Kreutzmann (son of Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann), featured a stage performance by the band, but the members were portrayed by life-sized marionette skeletons. About two-thirds of the way through the skeletons were replaced with the actual band members. It got viewers' attention and became a hit on MTV, which helped the song reach the Pop Top 10.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

"Back to Paradise" by 38 Special

Song#:  3206
Date:  07/25/1987
Debut:  81
Peak:  41
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Southern Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After seven studio albums (three platinum, one gold) and seven Pop Top 40 entries, 38 Special and their label decided it was time to issue out a hits compilation. Titled Flashback: The Best of 38 Special, the album featured nine previously released songs, three live tracks, and two new tunes including this song, which had been used in the comedy film Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. It was released as a single to help promote both the movie and the hits package. The tune easily made it to #4 on the Rock chart while just missing out on the Pop Top 40 at the dreaded #41. The compilation would end up reaching #35 and would go platinum. Following its release, there would be personnel changes in the band and the new lineup would return with an album in '88.

ReduxReview:  Here is another track from the Vallance/Adams assembly line (see below) and like many of their other collaborations for other artists, it wasn't a major hit. It did get to #4 at Rock, but the tune just wasn't in the same league as some of the band's earlier hits. There was also a certain smell that made it seem like a soundtrack song; a kind of hooky commercialism that made it sound like a promo tune and something that the band wouldn't necessarily have recorded for one of their albums. Still, the band rallied and made it into something palatable for their fans. Just not enough of them showed up to make it a bigger hit.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise was the sequel to the hit 1984 teen/frat comedy Revenge of the Nerds, which starred Anthony Andrews and Robert Carradine. That film wasn't necessarily a critical favorite, but audiences loved it and the flick ended up being a solid box office hit. Of course the smell of money resulted in the decision to do a sequel and Nerds in Paradise was made. Critics hated it, but audiences showed up and the film ended up making money. The original film had a soundtrack album, but none of the songs from the LP hit the charts. The sequel featured several new tunes, but a soundtrack was not officially culled and released. However, this 38 Special song was considered the film's theme and was released as a single. There would be two more Nerds movies to follow, but both were made for TV and not released theatrically.  2) With their 1986 album Strength in Numbers, 38 Special began working with Jim Vallance, the songwriting partner of Bryan Adams. The association began after the band recorded the Vallance/Adams tune "Teacher, Teacher" (#25 Pop/#4 Rock) for the movie Teachers. The collaboration seemed to work out well, so when a theme was needed for the Nerds sequel, Vallance and Adams had "Back to Paradise" ready for 38 Special to record.