Saturday, October 17, 2020

"I Don't Mind at All" by Bourgeois Tagg

Song#:  3290
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  38
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This band formed by Brent Bourgeois and Larry Tagg first got on the Pop chart with the #62 "Mutual Surrender (What a Wonderful World)," a track from their 1986 self-titled debut album. A second single failed to reach the chart, however the results were encouraging enough for their label, Island, to let the band record a second album. Titled Yoyo, the new effort was produced by Todd Rundgren and this first single was released. It would do well at Rock (#8) and AC (#5), but for some reason it didn't get quite the same reception at Pop where it topped out just inside the Top 40. Like their debut album, a second single failed to chart. The lone hit helped the album get to #84. The band would then set out to record a third album and along the way would also be the backing band for Todd Rundgren's 1989 solo album Nearly Human. Unfortunately, a rift between Bourgeois and Tagg developed and it caused the band to split. Bourgeois would go on to start a solo career and in 1990 would release a self-titled album. A single from the LP, "Dare to Fall in Love," would crack the Pop Top 40 at #32 (#11 AC). It would be his only solo song to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This was a wonderful tune that should have done much better on the Pop chart. It was Top 10 at Rock and AC, but for some reason it didn't fully catch fire on pop radio. It certainly had a Beatle-esque flavor, but it didn't sound like an imitation. Rundgren's production was just perfect framing the song in acoustic guitars and strings. I immediately bought the single. The song has kind of disappeared over the years. I hadn't heard it in ages and it was nice to bring it back to my ears. It sounds just as lovely now as it did back then.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  As the band's career was taking off, Brent Bourgeois was struggling with addiction. Following the release of the band's debut album, Bourgeois began to clean up his act and along the way became a born-again Christian. Because of that, some of his lyrics started to reflect his religious side, which was not well-received by band co-leader Larry Tagg. It began to divide the two musicians and it eventually led to the band splitting during the recording of their third album. Bourgeois would set out on a solo career, which resulted in one minor mainstream hit (see above). By the time it came for him to record a third effort, Bourgeois had signed on with a Contemporary Christian label. His 1995 LP Come Join the Living World was well-received and it would lead to Bourgeois writing and producing for major Christian artists like Michael W. Smith and Jars of Clay. For a time he would also run A&R for Word Records.


Friday, October 16, 2020

"Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" by Samantha Fox

Song#:  3289
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  80
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  The Brit singer's debut album, Touch Me, became a gold seller thanks to the #4 hit "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)." Those results gave Fox the opportunity to record a couple of tracks with top producers for her self-titled second album. One of those track was this lead single, which was written and produced by the Stock Aitken Waterman team (Bananarama, Dead or Alive). The trio had been perfecting their signature dance sound and this song earned them and Fox another Top 10 hit back home in the UK. Across the pond in the US, the tune couldn't get anywhere. It peaked low on the Pop chart while only scraping the Dance chart at #40. The failed single did not set the album up for success and it left Fox and her label scrambling to try and secure a hit. Luckily, the LP's second single would do the trick.

ReduxReview:  I'm not really sure what happened with this single. It was a solid, hooky SAW product and it seemed like a good vehicle to get Fox back in the upper reaches of the Pop chart. Yet it failed big time. My only guess is that Fox kind of established herself as a tougher, sexy, sassy, rock-oriented dance artist with "Touch Me" and this tune was a polite little pop tune with a chugging production. In other words, it was "cute" and it didn't reflect the personality Fox had initially portrayed. Maybe because of that, stations and listeners tuned out. If so, then that was too bad. While it wasn't a fantastic song, it was a good SAW dance-pop tune that should have done much better.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Fox's self-titled second album contained an unexpected remake. She tackled the Rolling Stones classic 1965 #1 "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Her synth-rock take on the tune wouldn't be released as a single, but she was one of the first dance-pop artist to attempt the cover. Besides the Stones' original, only one other artist has reached the Pop chart with a version of the song. R&B star Otis Redding's soul take on the track made it to #31 in 1966 (#4 R&B). However, there have been many memorable remakes of the song including ones by Devo, Vanilla Ice, Britney Spears, and Aretha Franklin. The list of artists that have covered the song is wide and varied and includes people like Phyllis Diller, José Feliciano, The Chipmunks, and The Shirelles.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

"Tell It to My Heart" by Taylor Dayne

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3288
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  92
Peak:  7
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  Singer Leslie Wunderman started working the clubs with various bands while attending college. After graduating, she sought a solo career and ended up recording a couple of singles for the indie Mega Bolt label in 1985 under the name Les Lee. Neither did much to promote her career, but then a friend who worked at a publishing house sent her a few songs for consideration including "Tell It to My Heart." The tune grabbed her attention and she got it recorded. A copy of her demo made it over to Clive Davis at Arista Records, who then decided to sign the singer and release the single to see how it would go over. Released in Europe under the new moniker of Taylor Dayne, the song began to catch on. It wasn't long before the tune was getting played in US clubs. The track would make the Dance chart and peak at #4. It crossed over to Pop and began a slow climb. Eventually it would make the Top 10. Since this was pretty much a "test" single to see how it would fare, Dayne and Arista were caught off guard by the unexpected hit and Dayne had to quickly get in the studio to record an album. Since it wouldn't be released until early '88, folks had to buy the single in order to hear the song and that helped the record go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was a very good pop song to begin with, but two things made it stand out as a hit. First, the brash 80s production. It was loaded with screaming synths that were full of hooks along with big beats. Second was Dayne's voice. You could tell she wasn't just a little ingénue who had been hired by a producer or was just having fun trying to be a star. Dayne had chops. She was a helluva singer (still is) and it showed on this song. Her big voice certainly helped to sell this song. It was an exciting track and although steeped in 80s production, the tune is still a bit of a thrill when it comes on.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Dayne's first two singles under the Les Lee name were produced by Ric Wake. He would also produce "Tell It to My Heart" and the balance of Dayne's debut solo album. The hits with Dayne quickly raised Wake's profile and afforded him the opportunity to work with other artists like Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, Mariah Carey, Sheena Easton, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, and Celine Dion. Wake would later win Grammys for his work including one for producing two tracks on Dion's Album of the Year Grammy winner, 1996's Falling into You. He would also work on the soundtrack to the Oscar winning 2002 Best Picture Chicago.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

"Just Like Heaven" by The Cure

Song#:  3287
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  40
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  The Cure's US audience had been growing over their previous couple of albums, but they were still looking for a bigger breakthrough. Their seventh effort, the double-LP Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me would do a lot to meet that goal. Its first single, "Why Can't I Be You?," got them near the top half of the Pop chart (#54). Then this next single nabbed the band their first Pop Top 40 hit (if just barely). It would also reach #28 at Dance. Before this single even came out, the album had already reached gold status. Later in '88 it would become their first to go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This should have been a much bigger hit. With alt rock starting to meld into the mainstream, this was an excellent pop-leaning tune that should have done just as well as R.E.M.'s Top 10 "The One I Love." The way the song built from the beginning by adding instruments and memorable riffs was terrific and it was capped off by Robert Smith blurting out "show me show me show me!" Just that first minute of the song should have made it a hit. The rest of the tune is just icing on the cake. For the pop world, maybe the only drawback to the song was that it didn't have a definitive chorus or hook. However, this dreamy track didn't need it. The whole thing was one giant swirling hook that took you to that dizzying cliff overlooking the sea.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This was mainly written by the band's lead singer/songwriter Robert Smith with other band members contributing during the recording session. Smith has said that it was the best song he'd ever written and would most likely never write anything better. The lyrics painted a portrait of two lovers enjoying a day by the seaside, which may or may not have been a dream. It was inspired by Smith's girlfriend at the time Mary Poole. Poole would then appear in the song's video as a ghostly apparition. Smith and Poole would later marry in '88. They are still together.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

"Brilliant Disguise" by Bruce Springsteen

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3286
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  40
Peak:  5
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Springsteen's 1984 LP Born in the U.S.A. turned him into a rock mega star. Spawning seven Top 10 singles, the album would go on to sell over 15 million copies in the US (30 million worldwide). He would follow it up with 5-LP set Live/1975-95, which would debut at #1. After a whirlwind three years, Springsteen then had the task of recording a proper studio follow-up to Born in the U.S.A. That album was recorded with the E Street Band, but when he started recording the new album, Springsteen made it a more personal affair and did most of the work himself with members of the band lending a hand on a few tracks. The completed album, Tunnel of Love, would be a dark, more introspective effort and this first single got things kicked off. It would immediately head towards #1 on the Rock chart. Over on the Pop chart, the song debuted in the Top 40 and then made its way to #5 becoming Springsteen's tenth Top 10 hit. While the album wouldn't debut at #1, it would only take three weeks for it to hit #1. Although it would only stay there for a week, it would continue to ride high on the chart into '88 and eventually sell over 3 million copies.

ReduxReview:  Of course anticipation for this song and the album was extremely high at the time. When I heard this song for the first time, I think I was a bit underwhelmed. Probably like many others, I was expecting something more explosive. Perhaps another big anthem that would spark up the airwaves. So when this subdued, chugging pop tune came out it wasn't what I expected. However, the tune then began to settle in the more I heard it and I developed an appreciation for it. It was easily going to make the Top 10. The question was if it could top the chart. It settled for a #5 showing, which was probably a sign that folks might have felt the same way I did. The song didn't have "smash hit" written all over it, but it was a very good song that introduced the album quite well. In retrospect, I did like how Springsteen didn't force a Born in the U.S.A., Pt. 2 and wrote the album he wanted to at the time.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song earned Springsteen a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. It was one of three nods he received in that Grammy year (he would win one, which will be covered in another post). Up to that point, Springsteen had received seven nominations with one win.  2) The video for this song was directed by Meiert Avis, who had previously directed several videos for U2 including two award winners, "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "With or Without You." The video for Springsteen's song was unusual in that it was all done in one continuous take. It featured Springsteen performing the song in a kitchen setting. Although the video features the recorded backing track of the song, Springsteen actually sang the vocal part live as the camera slowly zoomed in on his face making the performance quite intimate and nearly uncomfortable.


Monday, October 12, 2020

"Love Will Find a Way" by Yes

Song#:  3285
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  76
Peak:  30
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Prog Rock

Pop Bits:  Following their 1980 album Drama, Yes decided to split. Not long after, two band members got together to work on a project and eventually, at the urging of their label, it became a Yes album titled 90125. The 1984 LP would be a #5 multi-platinum hit thanks to the #1 single "Owner of a Lonely Heart." After an extensive world tour, the band reconvened in the studio in 1985 with producer Trevor Horn to record a follow-up. Right off the bat there were issues among the band members and with Horn that led to numerous delays. After two years of recording at a reported cost of $2 million, the band's twelfth studio album, Big Generator, was completed. To kick off the band's return, this first single was issued out. It would be an instant hit at Rock spending three weeks at #1. The song crossed over to the Pop chart, but the best it could do was to just barely make the Top 30. Despite not boasting a major mainstream hit, the support from rock radio along with the band's fan base helped the album reach #15 and go platinum.

ReduxReview:  What I remember most about this song is the line "I eat at chez nous." It was a bizarre line that made zero sense to me. The French phrase "chez nous" translates as "with us." How that fits in with "I eat at" is a mystery to me. However, I did see mentioned that somewhere around where part of the album was recorded was a restaurant called Chez Nous, which would seem to make more sense, but the lines before it don't help:  "here is my heart, waiting for you, here is my soul, I eat at chez nous." I don't get it. The line is so weird, silly, and strange that it nearly ruins the song for me. Well, at least I remember something about the tune. In general, this is a fairly good track that did attempt to keep the band relevant in the mainstream. It wasn't quite as hooky as their 90215 hits, but I think it performed as well as it could.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by band member Trevor Rabin. He had intended for this song to be recorded by Stevie Nicks, but after his bandmate Alan White heard the tune, he convinced Rabin to save it for Yes to record.  2) The album would earn the band a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. The previous year, the band grabbed a Grammy nod for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. It was for the song "Amazing Grace," which was taken from the live LP 9021Live/The Solos. Release in 1985, the album contained five tracks of solos done by each band member during the 90125 tour plus two full-band live tracks from the album. Bassist Chris Squire was featured on "Amazing Grace." The album would reach #81 on the US Pop chart.


Sunday, October 11, 2020

"Shake Your Love" by Debbie Gibson

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3284
Date:  10/03/1987
Debut:  77
Peak:  4
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  With her debut single, "Only in My Dreams," hitting #4 and going gold, the teenager set herself up for pop stardom. As that single was beginning to wrap up its run on the chart, her debut album, Out of the Blue, was released and it was quickly followed by this follow-up single. It would match the success of her first single by hitting #4 at Pop and also going gold. It also became her first Top 10 at Dance reaching #6. The album would soon make its way into the Top 10 peaking at #7. It would go gold by December and eventually sell over three million copies.

ReduxReview:  "Only in My Dreams" was a delicious pop confection that gave Gibson her first hit. She could have easily been a one-hit wonder, but then this single laid that thought to rest. The tune was a good, solid vehicle for the teenager and it played well to her fans. For me, I didn't like it nearly as much as "Only in My Dreams." I thought it was just a cute little tune that wore its Madonna influences on its sleeves. I'm not sure I would have picked this for single release, but it ended up working out well for Gibson.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Six tracks on Gibson's debut album were produced or co-produced (with Gibson) by Fred Zarr. The Brooklyn-born musician started to get session work early in the 80s with several artists, but his work on one song in particular certainly raised his profile. Zarr worked on Madonna's "Holiday," her first charting single (#16, 1983). He would help arrange the song, do the drum programming, and perform the keyboard/synth parts. From there, Zarr got more work with artists like Jellybean, Eartha Kitt, Carly Simon, and The Four Tops. Along the way he would also do some work in the producer's chair, but it would be Zarr's work on Gibson's Out of the Blue that would help further his career. He would then work with many popular artists including Pretty Poison, Samantha Fox, Jody Watley, and Tina Turner.