Saturday, September 5, 2020

"Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3248
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  66
Peak:  4
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  The Mac's Tango in the Night LP started off with a pair of Pop Top 20 hits. The Lindsey Buckingham's "Big Love" got to #5 while the Stevie Nick-led "Seven Wonders" made it to #19. The latter track got to #2 at Rock so it was a bit of a surprise when it failed to make the Pop Top 10. Hoping for better results, this Christine McVie track was issued out as the third single. It was a good choice as it became the album's biggest single reaching #4 Pop, #1 AC (for four weeks), and #14 Rock. The album had already peaked at #7 back in May, but the hit helped sell more albums and by January of '88 it would go double-platinum. Eventually it would sell over 3 million copies. This song would end up being Fleetwood Mac's last to reach the Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  This was a solid track from McVie and it helped revive the album. Yet I'm not sure why this song was a bigger hit that "Seven Wonders." The tracks had a similar soft rock feel and I thought were equally memorable. The only slight difference is that "Seven Wonders" leaned towards rock with Nicks' aggressive voice while "Little Lies" had a more adult/AC feel featuring McVie's calming vocal. I guess it played better at AC and Pop, but to me "Seven Wonders" should have done just as well.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Christine McVie and her then-husband Eddy Quintela. The pair were married in 1986 and divorced in 2003. Quintela was McVie's second husband. Her first was Fleetwood Mac member John McVie. They were married in 1969 and divorced in 1976, not long after the Buckingham/Nicks era of Fleetwood Mac kicked off with their multi-platinum 1975 self-titled album. Despite the divorce, the former couple still remained in the band together. Prior to their marriage, Christine Perfect (her name prior to marrying McVie) was in an English blues-rock band called Chicken Shack. They were a popular band that scored a #14 UK hit in 1969 with "I'd Rather Go Blind," on which Perfect sang the lead vocals. She would leave Chicken Shack after marrying McVie and in 1970 would become a member of Fleetwood Mac.


Friday, September 4, 2020

"Don't Make Me Wait for Love" by Kenny G with Lenny Williams

Song#:  3247
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  79
Peak:  15
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Kenny G's third album, Duotones, took off when its third single, "Songbird," became an unexpected mainstream hit getting to #4 Pop/#3 AC/#23 R&B. Kenny G was signed to Clive Davis' Arista Records and to help sell the instrumentalist to the masses, Davis hooked the sax player up with top-notch songwriters/producers and also encouraged the inclusion of vocal tracks figuring those would be more welcome at radio as singles than an instrumental. Surprisingly, the LP's first two singles, both vocal tracks, each made the R&B chart, but failed to go mainstream. Then the instrumental "Songbird" was released and oddly that smooth jazz track truly kickstarted Kenny G's career. For a follow-up, the label decided to re-release the album's first single "Don't Make Me Wait for Love." On its first go-round, the song could only manage a #77 showing at R&B. As a follow-up to "Songbird," it got a lot more attention and it ended up  in the Pop Top 20 while peaking at #2 AC and #17 R&B. The two hits certainly drew folks to the album and Duotones would eventually sell over five million copies.

ReduxReview:  This is a very good AC/pop song, but it could have been done by any artist. Kenny G didn't write or produce the track so it was basically a song picked for him to record and he just added his sax flourishes. It was like recent hits by instrumentalists like Herb Alpert ("Diamonds") and Jeff Lorber ("Facts of Love"). It was a marketing ploy that was meant to bring attention to instrumental artists whose albums wouldn't normally sell in big quantities. In other words, adding commercial elements to sell singles and albums. It worked well for a few artists and it did provide Kenny G with a entry point with singles from his first three albums, but then he proved that he could get a mainstream instrumental hit on his own without Clive Davis' pop vocal push. Frankly, I think this song would have been better without Kenny G. His sax gets in the way of what is a nicely written tune. His playing becomes especially annoying at the end of the song where he goes off the rails repeating a lick. It was inappropriate and it nearly killed the song. Lenny Williams' vocals are quite good, but one could only imagine what someone like James Ingram or Luther Vandross could have done with the song minus Kenny G's honking.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song featured soul singer Lenny Williams. In the early 70s, Williams took on the lead vocalist role in the funk band Tower of Power. Williams would supply the vocals on what would become the band's biggest single, 1973's "So Very Hard to Go" (#11 R&B/#17 Pop). He would record three albums with Tower of Power while also kicking off a solo career. His biggest solo hit came in 1977 with "Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!," which got to #10 Dance/#31 R&B. He would have several other mid-charting singles at R&B over the years, but was unable to get on the Pop chart as a solo artist. His only appearance came when he did the vocals for this Kenny G track.


Thursday, September 3, 2020

"I Don't Think Man Should Sleep Alone" by Ray Parker, Jr.

Song#:  3246
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  68
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After hitting #1 with his "Ghostbusters" theme song, Parker had difficulty trying to get back into the Top 10 at both R&B and Pop. A hits package, studio album, and another soundtrack song all failed in getting the job done. Parker then switched labels to Geffen and gave it another go with his fourth solo effort After Dark. This first single was released and the news was half 'n' half. The song was embraced by R&B and became Parker's fifth Top 10 getting to #5. Unfortunately, it didn't click as well at Pop and the song failed to even crack the Top 50. It was also a minor entry at AC at #42. A follow-up single, "Over You, a duet with Natalie Cole, was able to get to #10 at R&B and #38 AC, but it failed to chart at Pop. While the pair of R&B Top 10s helped to sell a few albums, After Dark couldn't get near the gold-level sales of his 1982 debut LP The Other Woman (#1 R&B/#11 Pop). This track would be Parker's last solo single to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Signing up with Geffen seemed to have afforded Parker with the chance to record without having the commercial ghost of "Ghostbusters" haunting him. So for After Dark Parker attempted to get back to the adult-leaning soul of his Raydio days and it worked out pretty well with this track returning him to the R&B Top 10. However, the silky soul track didn't get much support from pop radio and it just wasn't able to catch on. The track was one of Parker's better post-"Ghostbusters" efforts and it probably should have at least cracked the Top 40. Since it didn't, then his duet with Natalie Cole, "Over You," was completely overlooked (Parker co-wrote that tune with Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager). What was nice about After Dark was that it didn't sound forced. I'm sure Parker was pressured for a while after "Ghostbusters" to make another hit and that resulted in some b-grade attempts that pretty much failed. With a new label and some of the pressure relieved, Parker proved here that he could still pen a pretty good soul track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although he wouldn't have another solo song reach the Pop chart, Parker did get a final Top 40 entry in a "featuring" role. Parker would co-write, produce, and perform on the song "All I'm Missing Is You" for singer Glenn Medeiros. The song would appear on Medeiros' 1990 self-titled album and it would be released as the LP's second single. It would reach #32 on the Pop chart. Parker would get one more single on the R&B chart in 1991 and that closed out his charting career. He wouldn't record another album until 2006 when he issued out the indie effort I'm Free.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

"Let's Dance" by Chris Rea

Song#:  3245
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  81
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  This English singer/songwriter's career started off well when his 1978 debut LP Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? went gold and generated the #1 AC/#12 Pop hit "Fool (If You Think It's Over)." After that, his career cooled in the US, but despite not being able to score a major hit, Rea had a loyal following that kept his albums charting in the UK. He got an uptick in popularity with his 1985 album Shamrock Diaries, which was then followed by the platinum On the Beach. His ninth album, Dancing with Strangers, would become his first Top 10 in the UK (#2) and his second platinum seller thanks to this first single that ended up being his biggest non-Holiday hit in the UK getting to #12. While his career was soaring at home, not much happened for him in the US. This single was his fifth to reach the US Pop chart, but it just couldn't make it out of the basement. That result didn't help the album, which failed to chart.

ReduxReview:  This track with its retro-ish feel, subdued smooth groove, and relaxed vocal by Rea should have done better. It was a good listen and I'm surprised that it didn't get any attention at Rock and AC. In addition to his singing and songwriting, Rea is known for his guitar work, which is on display here. He's also a multi-instrumentalist and he played everything on this track except for drums and bass. He's even credited for doing the "brass instruments," but I can't quite tell if all or some are the real deal or from a synth/keyboard. Either way, I like the little brass lines in the song. I like the subtle nature of the track, but that could have been the reason it didn't do so well in the US. It just wasn't punchy enough to push by other songs on the chart. Still, it is too bad it didn't get more exposure.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Rea initially recorded a version of this song (which he wrote) during the sessions for his 1986 album On the Beach. The track didn't make it on the album, but that initial take was included on an EP version of that album's first single "It's All Gone" (subtitled Mini Album - Volume III). It seems that Rea thought the song had more potential and decided to re-record it for his next album Dancing with Strangers. It was a good decision as it became a hit for him in the UK and several other countries.  2) This was the fourth different song (and thus far last)  with the title "Let's Dance" to reach the Pop chart. Singer Chris Montez was the first to have a song titled "Let's Dance" make the chart. His 1962 track got to #4. Next up was 1981's "Let's Dance (Make Your Body Move)" by West Street Mob. Their single got to #88 in 1981. Then David Bowie's "Let's Dance" topped the chart in 1983. Finally, Chris Rea made the chart with his own "Let's Dance." One other artist did make the chart with a "Let's Dance," but it was a remake of the Chris Montez hit. Ola & the Janglers got to #92 in 1969 with their remake.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

"Happy Together" by The Nylons

Song#:  3244
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  75
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop, Vocal

Pop Bits:  The a cappella quartet (with some added synth percussion) came close to cracking the Pop Top 10 with their remake of Steam's 1969 #1 hit "Kiss Him Goodbye" (#12). The song was from their fourth album Happy Together. For their follow-up single, the title track was selected for release. It did fairly well at AC reaching #16, but at Pop the song just couldn't make much headway. The guys would return in 1989 with a new album titled Rockapella that, like their previous LPs, contained remakes and a few originals. Unfortunately, singles from the album failed to chart and the album quickly disappeared. The quartet would continue to record albums over the years and remain very popular in their homeland of Canada. Of the four members that made up The Nylons in their 80s heydays (which included three founding members), three would pass away over the years leaving only original tenor Claude Morrison to carry on with new members. In 2016, the group decided to retire and set out on a final tour of Canada.

ReduxReview:  Their lone hit was a bit of a fluke that did wonders in raising the quartet's profile. It helped to give them name recognition that reached far beyond their Canadian home. However, even they had to know that they were gonna land in one-hit wonder territory. A cappella is a very cool and difficult style of music, but it is one that has a very short shelf life when it comes to pop radio and the charts. Every now and then someone will reach the Pop chart with an a cappella track and it will typically earn them a large audience that they can entertain for a long while. Bobby McFerrin certainly did well after his 1988 #1 hit "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and more recently the group Pentatonix has been quite successful after a couple of charting songs. Still, a string of Top 10s by an a cappella artist will most likely never happen and for The Nylons their luck ran out quickly after "Kiss Him Goodbye." This remake was another nice effort from them, but it just didn't have that extra zing that made "Kiss Him Goodbye" fun. They needed something better than this to overcome the one-hit wonder stigma. In the end it didn't really matter as the lone hit was enough to keep them a popular act over the years.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This was a remake of a song originally recorded by The Turtles. That band's original take hit #1 for three weeks in 1967. Written by Alan Gordon and Garry Bonner, the tune has been covered by many artists over the years. In addition to The Turtles and The Nylons, two other artists have reached the Pop chart with a version. Tony Orlando and Dawn got to #72 in 1972 with their take while the Captain & Tennille hit #53 in 1980 with a fantasy-styled version. The Turtles' classic track has been used or referenced in numerous TV shows, films, video games, and books.


Monday, August 31, 2020

"Tina Cherry" by Georgio

Song#:  3243
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  96
Weeks:   2
Genre:  R&B, Dance, Funk

Pop Bits:  Georgio came close to being a part of the Prince stable of artists, but ended up out on his own. Still, he retained his own Prince-like Minneapolis sound and it helped his first single, "Sexappeal," get to #16 R&B/#58 Pop/#8 Dance. The song was from his Motown debut album of the same name as was this follow-up single. Overall, it would be his best effort at R&B and Dance reaching #5 and #1, respectively. However, it just didn't excite a more mainstream audience and it spent a very brief two weeks near the bottom of the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  C'mon. This is just cribbing from Prince. The title sounds like a name Prince would have used in a song or anointed one of his "discoveries" while some of the arrangement and Georgio's vocal delivery are out of the Purple One's playbook. Of course I'm only basing this on what I've read, but I think Georgio had a pretty major ego and after whatever went down with the Prince camp, he decided to try and out-Prince Prince. It kinda worked with "Sexappeal" and this track making some waves, but imitation can only take you so far and indeed Georgio's career was short-lived. Many artists would latch on to the Minneapolis sound and push out some good tunes with their own flair, but this track, even more so than "Sexappeal," tread on Prince's territory a bit too much. It got very close to the rip-off stage that I just discussed on the previous post for Force M.D.'s "Love Is a House," but is somewhat saved because Georgio didn't try to rewrite a Prince tune. He just created something that sounded like one. It's kind of too bad because I think Georgio was talented. He wrote, played and produced most all of his LP (like Prince), but I don't think he ever really found his own style.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Georgio would later marry actress Kelly Jo Minter in 1992. Minter has steadily worked on TV and film since her first guest role in a 1983 episode of the show Fame. Two years later, she appeared in the hit film Mask with Cher and Eric Stoltz. She got the role of Lorrie, the prostitute hired by Cher's character for her son (Stoltz). Minter also appeared in other hit films like The Lost Boys, New Jack City, Doc Hollywood, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. The couple had four children and as of this posting they are still married.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

"Love Is a House" by Force M.D.'s

Song#:  3242
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  97
Peak:  78
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This vocal quartet broke through to the mainstream with their hit "Tender Love," which was featured on their second album Chillin'. The song was written and produced by the Jam & Lewis team and it became the group's second R&B Top 10 reaching #4 while getting to #2 AC and #10 Pop. A couple of follow-up singles made the R&B Top 30, but didn't reach the other charts. The group then set out to record their third album, Touch and Go. This first single was released from the LP and it became their first (and only) #1 at R&B. Like "Tender Love," the tune crossed over to the Pop and AC charts, but it didn't do as well topping out at #79 and #38, respectively. The title track would serve as the second single and get to #10 at R&B, but it failed to chart elsewhere. The LP would just barely do better than Chillin' hitting #12 R&B and #67 Pop (Chillin' got to #14 R&B/#69 Pop).

ReduxReview:  This song kind of irks me. The group really broke through with "Tender Love," which was written and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. It was the only song Jam & Lewis did with them. By the time the Force M.D.'s were ready to do a new album, I'm guessing they wanted Jam & Lewis back on board, but that team was so in-demand at the time they probably couldn't do it. So if they couldn't get the real deal, it seemed the next best thing was to imitate them. Geoff Gurd and Martin Lascelles wrote this song (with Gina Foster) and produced it for the group and it came off like a weak sequel to Human League's "Human," which was a Jam & Lewis track. This song had similar chords, structure, sounds (that synth swoop), spoken work part, and arrangement as "Human" and other Jam & Lewis tracks. This was no homage to Jam & Lewis. It was blatant rip off, in my opinion. I think they changed it up enough to avoid copyright infringement, but there is no mistaking that this was meant to sound like a Jam & Lewis track. The ploy worked at R&B resulting in a #1 hit, but the mainstream didn't buy it. The song is actually not a bad one, but what grinds my gears is that the writers/producers set out to emulate the other team's work. It's one thing to set a song in a certain style or genre. Around this time many writers/producers were wanting to do their own versions of freestyle or new jack. That's fine. But to imitate the trademark sound and style of another artist (without being a type of tribute) is different. To top it off, the lead singer seems to be doing an impression of Smokey Robinson. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case I think it was more like - we're going to imitate Jam & Lewis in order to get a hit and make money. Sad.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  After Chillin', the group's fortunes started to dwindle. Their fourth album for the Tommy Boy label, Step to Me, did not perform well and it seems the results left them off of the label's roster. A fifth album on an indie label failed to right the ship. Membership changes would take place over the years and oddly in a short span the group would have three members pass away including Antoine "T.C.D." Lundy, who sang lead on "Tender Love" and "Love Is a House." Still, the group soldiered on adding new members and released an album in 2000 titled The Reunion.