Saturday, October 3, 2020

"Catch Me (I'm Falling)" by Pretty Poison

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  3276
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  8
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Dance, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  This Philly group mainly consisted of lead singer Jade Starling and keyboardist/guitarist Whey Cooler. They got together early in the 80s and formed a band that had a more rock oriented sound, but soon changed over to the dance/synth sounds that were popular at the time. They released an indie EP and a few singles with their 1984 track "Nightime" getting enough attention to reach #14 on the Dance chart. Then they wrote and recorded "Catch Me (I'm Falling)." As an indie release, the song became a big success in Philly. Around that time a rep from Virgin Records happened to hear the song while in town and that led to the group signing with the label. Virgin then released the song nationally and it started to take off. The week that the song hit #1 on the Dance chart, it would debut on the Pop chart. Eventually it would break into the Top 10 and peak at #8. With an album yet to be released by the group, the single sold well enough to go gold. Despite a minor Top 40 follow-up single, this would be the group's only major hit and it would get them tagged as a one-hit wonder (#46 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s). Their full-length debut album would then be ready for release in May of '88, but by then the glow of this hit had waned and the LP could only get to #104. Pretty Poison would then leave Virgin Records and return to their independent roots.

ReduxReview:  Many of the freestyle hits around this time were by assembled female vocal groups formed by producers who usually wrote the songs. This is one that was done by a band who wrote their own material and because of that I think it had a more mature, cohesive sound. It was a catchy, well-written tune with terrific production. I especially like the dramatic opening. There was certainly talent behind this track and it's too bad that they couldn't go further than this on the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although this song had already been released for months and had reached #1 at Dance, Virgin Records got the song placed on the soundtrack to the 1987 comedy-drama flick Hiding Out. The film starred Jon Cryer as a guy who poses as a high school student in order to avoid being killed by the mob. It received a lukewarm reception from critics and just barely made its budget back at the box office.  2) The band got its name after watching the 1968 black comedy film Pretty Poison. The movie starred Anthony Perkins as an ex-con and Tuesday Weld as a high school cheerleader who go on a crime spree that involved a couple of murders. While some critics loved it (Gene Siskel included it on his Top 10 list for the year) others didn't including the film's own studio, Fox, which didn't do much to support it. Not surprisingly, the movie didn't do well at the box office. However, it later became a cult film.


Friday, October 2, 2020

"Don't Lose Any Sleep" by John Waite

Song#:  3275
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  85
Peak:  81
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  Waite's fourth solo album, Rover's Return, didn't get off to a great start with its first single, "These Times Are Hard for Lovers," stalling at #53 on the Pop chart (#6 Rock). Waite then pegged his hopes on this second single that was written by star composer Diane Warren. This time around the track failed to reach the Rock chart while only spending a short month at Pop. With little to help promote it, the album stopped at a minor #77, which was the lowest peaking of his solo discs. It would be eight years before Waite would release another solo effort.

ReduxReview:  I can understand why Waite and his record company were drawn to this song. It has a bit of the ol' "Missing You" feeling while not sounding like a copy or pale imitation. The tune is actually better than a good chunk of his previous singles, but it kind of came too late. It probably should have been the album's first single, but I suspect that Waite wanted to keep his rock cred intact and opted to push out the Desmond Child co-write "These Times Are Hard for Lovers" first. I think that was a bit of a mistake. If this song had been released first with good promo/backing from the label, I think it could have easily got inside the Top 40. But after the first single failed at Pop, no one was interested in the second one.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Following the tepid results of Rover's Return, Waite decided on a new strategy. He formed a band with his old Babys bandmate Jonathan Cain along with Cain's Journey bandmate Neal Schon that would be called Bad English. The lineup would be filled out with Ricky Phillips (who had played with the Babys) and Deen Castronovo. The band's 1989 self-titled debut album would be a platinum hit thanks to the #1 hit "When I See You Smile." After recording their second album, 1991's Backlash, the band parted ways.  2) After Bad English dissolved, Waite returned to solo work. He contributed a couple of songs to soundtracks and then issued out his fifth album, 1995's Temple Bar. The LP's first single, "How Did I Get By Without You?," didn't do well at Pop (#85), but it did reach #20 at AC. His next two albums each featured singles that reached the AC Top 30. In 2006, Waite would record an album on which he re-recorded some of his hit songs along with a couple of covers and originals. Titled Downtown: Journey of a Heart, the album would feature Waite remaking his #1 his "Missing You" with country/bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss. It was released as a single and got to #34 on the Country chart.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

"Heart and Soul" by The Monkees

Song#:  3274
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  87
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The Monkees had been riding a second wave of Monkeemania thanks to MTV airing episodes of the band's '67-'68 TV show. They further capitalized on their resurgence and recorded a few new tracks for a compilation, which included the surprise #20 hit "That Was Then, This Is Now." With that success, it was then decided the band would get together for a new album, which would be the first under The Monkees moniker since 1970. Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones would move forward with the project with the fourth Monkee, Mike Nesmith, declining to participate. Like their early recordings, most songs for the album were by outside writers and session musicians were used. The LP would be titled Pool It! and this first single was released. Unfortunately, it seemed that the MTV generation's sudden love affair with The Monkees was over with the song disappearing after a month on the chart. That result along with negative reviews caused the album to stop at #78.

ReduxReviewPool It! is definitely not a good Monkees album. The production wasn't great and the song selections were subpar. They had an opportunity to come up with something cool that would take their 60s pop into the late 80s, but most of the songs that they chose (or were chosen for them) were mediocre pop tracks that any artist could have recorded. In other words, there was little that actually made the Monkees sound like the Monkees including this power pop-lite single. It was one of the better tracks on the LP, but it wasn't something that was going to fly up the chart. It just fell flat, mainly thanks to the arrangement and production. Justus (see below) was better, but they found their groove again with 2016's Good Times!, which featured some terrific songs, both new and old, and spot-on production. They hadn't sounded that Monkee-ish since the 60s. As for 80s Monkees, you may wanna skip it.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After the failure of Pool It!, the trio that participated in the reunion would go on to do special performances and tours, some with and some without Mike Nesmith. In 1996, all four Monkees got together to do a proper album. Titled Justus, it featured new and revived material written by the band members and was performed and produced by the quartet. Neither the album nor any of its promoted singles reached the charts. The band would then tour on occasion in various iterations. Davy Jones would pass away later in 2012. Then in 2016, the surviving members of the band decided to get together to celebrate their 50th anniversary. A new album, Good Times!, produced by Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains of Wayne), was recorded and released. It would do well reaching #14. Two years later, they would get together for the holiday album Christmas Party. A few months after its release, Peter Tork would pass away. Since then, Dolenz and Nesmith have reunited and performed via The Monkees name as "The Mike & Mikey Show."


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

"Follow You" by Glen Burtnick

Song#:  3273
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  65
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Jersey-born Burtnick hooked into music at an early age and began performing in his teens. In the late 70s, Burtnick starred in the west coast version of the Broadway musical Beatlemania in the role of Paul McCartney (alongside Marshall Crenshaw who played John Lennon). While in the show, Burtnick met up with composer/producer Jan Hammer who happened to be looking for a lead vocalist for his band Hammer. Burtnick signed up and Hammer's self-titled album was released in 1979 to little notice. Another Beatlemania cast member's band, Helmet Boy, got a major label deal and Burtnick was asked to front the band. Their self-titled debut came out in 1980, but quickly disappeared. Burtnick then returned to Jersey and performed with several bands before recording a demo song that got the attention of A&M Records. He got signed to a solo deal and a 1986 debut album Talking in Code was released to little notice, save for one track, "Little Red House," that was a minor entry on the Rock chart at #40. The label gave Burtnick a second chance and Heroes & Zeros was released in 1987. This first single was issued out and it did okay at Rock getting to #23. It crossed over to Pop where it spent a couple of months in the bottom half of the chart. The results combined with Burnick's dissatisfaction with A&M ended his major label solo days.

ReduxReview:  This song falls right in Bryan Adams/Richard Marx territory and I'm surprised it didn't do better on the charts. It's a hooky, melodic tune that was well-produced, exciting, and perfect for the time it was released. Burtnick sounded great as well. It was much better than anything found on Adams' Into the Fire album, yet for some reason the tune didn't get a fair shake and it stalled early. Had I heard this song back in the day, I would have bought the single. I think it may have needed an extra promotional push, but it seems A&M didn't get behind the track as well as they should have. Burtnick would grab hits as part of a group and as a songwriter later (see below), but he should have had his own solo hit with this one.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While at A&M, Burtnick got the attention of another band on the label, Styx. That band had broken up in 1984, but by the end of the decade they were plotting a reunion. The only stickler was that original member Tommy Shaw was already committed to another band he helped form in 1989, Damn Yankees. With a spot open, Styx auditioned Burtnick as Shaw's replacement and he got the job. The band then recorded the album Edge of the Century and released it in 1990. A single from the LP, "Show Me the Way," would be an unexpected hit that would reach #3 Pop and #3 AC. A follow-up single, "Love at First Sight," which was co-written by Burtnick, would get to #25 Pop/#13 AC. The band would split again in 1991. Another reunion would take place in 1996, but after Dennis DeYoung left the band in 1999, Burtnick once again stepped in rejoined Styx. He would remain with them until 2003 following the release of the album Cyclorama.  2) As a songwriter, Burtnick would score a couple of major hits. He co-wrote "Sometimes Love Ain't Enough" with Patty Smyth. She would record it as a duet with Don Henley and it would be the first single released from her self-titled second album in 1992. The song woud get to #2 at Pop and #1 AC. A song Burtnick co-wrote and that he recorded for his 1996 indie LP Palookaville titled "Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man" would get picked up and recorded by country superstar Randy Travis. It would be released as a single in 1998 and get to #2 Country and #42 Pop. (Note: Along the way, Burtnick would change the spelling of his last name. He would drop the "c" and become Burtnik. However, when this single/album came out, he was still using his original last name.)


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

"Crazy, Crazy Nights" by Kiss

Song#:  3272
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  65
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Kiss' track record in the 80s was a bit up and down. They had personnel changes, went "unmasked," changed up their sound, and did a concept album. Despite not securing a major hit on the Pop chart (and only three Rock Top 20s), the band remained popular enough to still get all of their albums, except for one, to go gold or platinum. Their 1985 LP, Asylum, would get to #20 and go gold, but it did little to expand their core audience. For their next effort, Crazy Nights, the band decided to take a detour into slick modern 80s radio-ready rock. The heavier guitar-driven sound of their glam rock was reshaped with keyboards and synths courtesy of producer Ron Nevison (who successfully guided Heart into the 80s). This first single was issued out and it got to #37 at Rock while missing the top half of the Pop chart. Regardless of those results, the associated video did well on MTV and people bought the album. It would get to #18, which would end up being the band's highest peaking LP of the 80s. It would also become their eighth studio album to go platinum.

ReduxReview:  While this track wasn't awash in big keyboard sounds, it also wasn't the heavier, glam rock sound of the Kiss of yore. With bands like Heart, Bon Jovi, and even Poison burning up the charts with accessible mainstream rock, Kiss it seems didn't want to get left behind and attempted to make catchy, radio-ready tracks that would result in hits. It sort of worked. The band got lots of exposure on MTV, ended up with a hit overseas (see below), and got another platinum album, but critics and long-time fans were not happy with the walk down Mainstream St. Indeed, it just didn't sound right. Kiss wasn't meant to sound, well, pop-ish. We already had a Survivor, why did we need another? I thought some of their previous arena rock tracks like "Tears Are Falling" were doing well at keeping Kiss current while still maintaining some of their hard rock cred. But tracks like this single were blatant stabs at getting hits. Worse yet were keyboard-driven tracks like "My Way" and "Turn on the Night," which was a co-write with pop hit songwriter Diane Warren. The tunes sounded like desperate hail Mary passes from a band that was losing their relevancy.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  While the band was still striking out on hit singles in the US, this song became a hit in other countries. Particularly in the UK where it reached #4 and received a silver certification for sales. It would end up being Kiss' highest charting single in the UK. The album would also be their best effort there reaching #7. The song was also a Top 10 hit in other countries like Norway and Ireland.


Monday, September 28, 2020

"Bad" by Michael Jackson

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3271
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  40
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  Jackson's follow-up to his massive Thriller album, Bad, got off to a good start with the #1 "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." Since it was released a few weeks prior to the album, the single sold well and reached gold level sales. The LP would finally reach the public on September 1st and not long after this second title-track single would be issued out. Just like his previous single, this song debuted in the Top 40. It took a short 6-weeks for it to reach the top of the Pop chart. It also reached #1 at R&B and Dance while getting to #33 at AC. Although it would only stay at #1 for a couple weeks and quickly descend (14 weeks on the chart is fairly short for a #1), it was still another major hit for the King of Pop. The single was unable to reach gold-level sales at the time, but in 2018, the digital version of the song was certified for platinum sales.

ReduxReview:  This has never been one of my favorite Jackson songs, but I do appreciate it. The track had a tougher sound than anything he had done before and being the first track on the album it really set a tone. The production was excellent with the opening beat and keyboard/bass lick quickly becoming indelible. It was kind of an extension of "Beat It," but the song wasn't nearly as captivating. I wasn't a big fan of the video either. It was just a bit overblown and I didn't buy Jackson in a tough guy role. It's not a Jackson song that I ever long to hear, but I don't mind listening to it.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Jackson originally intended this song to be a duet with Prince. But when he asked Prince to join him on the track, the Purple One declined. Later on in a 1997 interview conducted by comedian Chris Rock, Prince talked about turning down "Bad." Prince said that he would have been the character in the video that was eventually played by Wesley Snipes and the role didn't fit him. Then there was the first line of the song, "you're butt is mine." Prince said the lyrics were a big problem because he wasn't going to say that to Jackson, and Jackson certainly wasn't going to say that to him. In other words, it just wasn't the right song/vibe for Prince and he bowed out.  2) With the new album came expectations for another epic video a la "Thriller." Jackson chose "Bad" to be the song that would get the mini-movie treatment. The video was shot over a six-week period with the legendary Martin Scorsese in the director's seat. The storyline basically follows the lyrics of the song in which a kid from a rough neighborhood returns after attending an expensive private school. He encounters his old friends and things seem fine at first, but after they sense the kid has changed, things take a turn with the "leader" of his friends calling him out and a sort of dance duel ensues. That leader was played by a then-unknown Wesley Snipes. The video ends with Jackson and Snipes coming to mutual ground and shaking hands. Jackson's inspiration for the song came from an article he read that had a similar story, however in the real story the kid was killed. Of course, Jackson didn't want that for the video and altered it in a more positive way. The final 18-minute film was a hit on MTV and it really kicked off the promotion of Bad. However, unlike "Thriller," the video didn't snare a bunch of awards or nominations. It only received one MTV Music Video award nomination and that was for Best Choreography. He was beaten out in that category by his sister Janet (for "The Pleasure Principle").


Sunday, September 27, 2020

"Waterfall" by Wendy & Lisa

Song#:  3270
Date:  09/19/1987
Debut:  80
Peak:  56
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin had known each other since childhood. Their fathers, both musicians, were good friends and the families spent a lot of time together. Their relationship changed in their late teens from friends to girlfriends and both had picked up the music bug from their fathers. Through a friend, Coleman landed an audition to be in Prince's backing band for the tour supporting his album Dirty Mind. She got the job and continued to work with Prince over the next few years. When sessions started for Purple Rain, Prince's guitarist left the band. Melvoin was able to step in. Wendy & Lisa then became official members of the Revolution. In addition to singing and playing instruments for Prince's projects, the pair would also co-write a few songs and do arrangements. However, after three albums with Prince, the duo were feeling like they were not getting the proper credit for their contributions and after the sessions for Prince's shelved Dream Factory album, they decided to leave the Revolution. After their departure, Prince then fully disbanded the backing band. Having already been working on their own material, Wendy & Lisa signed on with Columbia Records and recorded a self-titled debut album. This first single was issued out and it started to get a little attention, but it ended up fizzling out before it could reach the top half of the Pop chart. The album would make it to #88. The song would be the duo's only one solely credited to them to reach the Pop chart. Their follow-up album, 1989's Fruit at the Bottom, would featured the song "Are You My Baby?," which made it to #26 on the R&B chart. A third album, 1990's Eroica, failed to generate any charting songs in the US. Over in the UK, the duo's three albums would generate nine singles that reached the chart, but only one of them would crack the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  What I liked about Wendy & Lisa is that they took things they learned with Prince and applied some of it to their own tunes. They didn't overwhelm their songs with Prince-isms or the Minneapolis sound like other ex-Prince stable artists. They had their own sound and I really dug it on their debut album. I immediately loved this single and bought it followed by the album. I was disappointed that both didn't do better. I still listen to the album quite a bit. I think it has grown in esteem over the years and is appreciated more now. It's just too bad it didn't get the recognition it deserved back in the day.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While their personal relationship would come to an end, Wendy & Lisa would continue to be musical partners. In addition to working as session musicians and songwriters for many artists, the pair branched out into the world of scoring. Their first major job was writing the score for the hit 1995 movie Dangerous Minds. While their score would not be issued out, songs featured in the film were assembled into a soundtrack album and it would hit #1 thanks to Coolio's #1 hit "Gangsta's Paradise." A track from Lisa & Wendy's debut album, "The Life," would be re-recorded and included on the soundtrack. The pair would go on to do more score work and also write themes to several TV shows including Crossing Jordan, Heroes, and Nurse Jackie, for which they won an Emmy.  2) While this song would be Wendy & Lisa's only Pop charting song credited just to them, they would reach the Pop chart again in a more featured role. They would perform on the theme to the 1992 Robin Williams flick Toys. The song was called "The Closing of the Year (Main Theme)" and it would be credited to The Musical Cast of Toys featuring Wendy & Lisa. The tune was released as a single and it would get to #53. The fantasy-comedy film directed and co-written (with Valerie Curtain) by Barry Levinson was a critical failure and a box office bomb. It cost $50 million to make and only grossed $23 million. (Note: I'm the rare person who really liked the film along with the soundtrack.)