Saturday, December 12, 2020

"You're All I Need" by Mötley Crüe

Song#:  3345
Date:  11/28/1987
Debut:  93
Peak:  83
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  Mötley Crüe's fourth album, Girls, Girls, Girls, would be their highest peaking yet (#2) thanks to the title track also becoming their biggest hit to-date (#12 Pop/#2 Rock). Next up for the band was this track from the album. The power ballad couldn't really catch on and stalled early at Pop while not even making the Rock chart. However, it hardly mattered because the album had already reached double-platinum status and would eventually sell over 4 million copies.

ReduxReview:  This album closing track was a good power ballad from the band. It had nice chord progressions and melodies that took the band in a mainstream rock direction. I'm not sure if it was a great single contender, especially considering the lyrics (see below), but it showed that the band, despite their off-stage antics, were maturing.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Apparently, this song was inspired by a bit of infidelity a member of Mötley Crüe had experienced. Nikki Sixx, bassist and main songwriter for the band, had been dating a woman for a while prior to recording the Girls, Girls, Girls album. It seems Sixx though the two were an exclusive couple, but then he found out she was seeing another guy as well. It turned out to be actor/singer Jack Wagner of General Hospital and "All I Need" fame. Instead of fully confronting his girlfriend about it all, Sixx instead went in to the studio and with Tommy Lee wrote "You're All I Need," a sort of toss back to Wagner's 1984 #2 hit. The song's dark lyrics are about a guy who loves a girl and she may not necessarily love him back. He kills her so she won't love anyone else. Sixx took the demo of the song over to his girlfriend's place, walked in, said nothing, and played the tape. Apparently realizing the jig was up, she left in tears. By most accounts, that's where the story ends. However, it seems Sixx had plans for Wagner and supposedly hired some goons to jump Wagner and break his knee caps. While the plan was never hatched, the former girlfriend got wind of the threat. Then coincidentally, Wagner took a fall during a shoot and fractured his knee. Of course, everyone then though Sixx made good on his threat, but that wasn't the case. The song's associated video pretty much followed the lyrics with a guy killing his girlfriend (off screen). Although there was only implied violence in the video, MTV initially rejected it due to violent content.


Friday, December 11, 2020

"Because of You" by The Cover Girls

Song#:  3344
Date:  11/28/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  27
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, this NYC vocal trio had released two singles from their debut album Show Me. Neither were able to crack the Pop Top 40 with only their title-track first single doing anything of note getting to #4 Dance. Hoping that the third time would be the charm, this third single was issued out. This time around, they got a bit more traction at Pop and the song was able to get inside the Top 30. It also got to #16 Dance while reaching #47 R&B. While it wasn't a major hit, it did raise the trio's profile and helped their album get to #64 Pop/#74 R&B.

ReduxReview:  This track is better than their previous two and I think that has to do with the songwriter/producers. It was written by David Cole and produced by Cole along with Robert Clivillés, who would both go on to have hits under the C+C Music Factory name. The pair were perfecting their craft and did well with this song. It was a catchy tune with good freestyle production. However, the problem I have is with the lead singer's voice. I'm just not a fan. It sounds so whiny, thin, and occasionally not fully in tune (or at least It kind of grates on me. Overall, it was a good effort from Cole and Clivillés, but it still didn't quite have that extra oomph needed to secure a bigger mainstream hit.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After the trio's second single, "Spring Love" (#80 Pop), was released, original member Sunshine Wright decided to leave the group. It seems that move ended her music career, but her name would hit the papers in 1991 due to events that put her then-husband in prison. Isaac Wright, Jr. was arrested in New Jersey for being a drug kingpin and sentenced to life in prison. Unfortunately, the charges were false. Wright had somehow been framed for the crime with illegally planted evidence. Unable to prove his innocence, Wright ended up in prison. While serving time, he studied law and worked as a paralegal. With his help, several of his fellow inmates got their convictions overturned. Wright also worked on his own case and was eventually able to reveal the corruption that led to his arrest. Wright was freed from prison in 1998. He studied law and passed the bar in 2008. If any of this sounds familiar, it may be because ABC took Wright's story and turned it into the TV drama For Life, which starred Nicholas Pinnock as Wright (for the show the character's name became Aaron Wallace). The first season aired early in 2020 and it did well enough for a second season to be ordered, which began late in 2020.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

"Pump Up the Jam" by M/A/R/R/S

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3343
Date:  11/28/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  13
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Dance, House

Pop Bits:  The British label 4AD was known for featuring eclectic artists on its roster including ones that dabbled in electronic/experimental music along with post-punk and dream pop bands. In 1987, label head Ivo-Watts Russell thought it would be a good idea for two acts on the label, the duo A.R. Kane and the band Colourbox, to collaborate on a project. The members decided to give it a go with each side working up a track and then trading so the other group could make their contributions. Somewhere along the way, they got the idea to expand the world of sampling from rap into dance music, so they brought along DJs Chris "C.J." Mackintoch and Dave Dorrell to help with sample procurement and construction. In the end, two tracks were created, "Pump Up the Volume" and "Anitina." The songs were assembled into a single and released under the moniker M/A/R/R/S, which was an acronym made up from the first letters of the first names of the collective members. Of the two, "Pump Up the Volume" got the most attention and it took off in the UK eventually hitting #1. That success led to a release in the US where it would top the Dance chart. It then crossed over to R&B (#8) and Pop, where it just stopped short of the Top 10. It would end up being a gold seller and would earn the collective a Grammy nod for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. A big spotlight was put on the creators of the track and it was hoped they would continue the project. Alas, they all chose to keep it as a one-off project and the two tracks would be the only ones to come from the collaboration. A.R. Kane would go on to record their debut album 69, which received critical acclaim. However, it seems everything that came with having a hit took a toll on members of Colourbox and they chose to call it quits.

ReduxReview:  When I learned back in the day that this song was mostly made of samples, it kind of blew my mind. Obviously, sampling had been around for a while but most tracks utilized a very small amount. The fact that someone sat down, found the snippets, and sewed them together in a way that created a catchy, mainstream dance track amazed me. The song was just so cool and of course I bought the single. The infectious track was highly influential and it really should have made the Pop Top 10. All versions of this track are interesting, but the US version (see below) was the one I got used to so it stands out to me. It is hard to find in the digital world, but at least someone put it up on YouTube (above). I still have the vinyl single. I should transfer that to digital for my playlists.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) "Pump Up the Volume" is considered one of the first hits that was nearly all created from samples. It has been said that over 250 various samples were used to make the track. Perhaps the most prominent of these is the vocal part that states the title. That was a sample from the a cappella version of "I Know You Got Soul," a track from the 1987 platinum debut album by hip-hop duo Eric B & Rakim. It also served as the LP's third single reaching #39 Dance/#64 R&B. The amount of samples used in the song eventually caused issues regarding permission/clearance for use, which at one point for a few days halted distribution of the single in the UK while it was high on the chart. The legal issues also became a problem for the planned US release, which would be pushed out on the 4th & B'way label. Some samples used in the UK version would be removed while others from 4th & B'way would be inserted. Needless to say, the headaches caused by the samples certainly didn't make the members of M/A/R/R/S excited to do another track.  2) This song was picked up for use in the 1988 film Bright Lights, Big City, which starred Michael J. Fox. By the time the movie was released at the beginning of April 1988, "Pump Up the Volume" had already peaked on the Pop chart a few weeks earlier. That timing didn't help when it came to the soundtrack album, which peaked at #67. It also didn't help that the film received mixed reviews and did not do well at the box office.


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

"The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3342
Date:  11/21/1987
Debut:  44
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Pop

Pop BitsBad, Jackson's follow-up to his massive hit album Thriller, was off to a solid start with its first two singles, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and the title track, both hitting #1 at Pop. Next up for release was this track. Like the previous two singles, it debuted high on the chart near the Top 40 and then proceeded to make its way to the top of the chart. It also got to #1 at R&B, #3 Dance, and #9 AC. While the album would only spend six weeks at #1 and sell only a third as much as Thriller, it would still have its own accomplishments, such as with this song. With the tune going to the top of the chart, Bad quickly bested Thriller in Pop #1s. Throughout Thriller's run of seven singles, only two of them, "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," reached #1. "The Way You Make Me Feel" would be the third #1 in a row from Bad, and it wouldn't be the last.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't a fan of this shufflin' track when it first came out. I thought it was a little goofy and didn't like all of Jackson's little ad libs and hiccups. Plus it annoyed me that it sounded like he sang in the chorus "my lonely days are good," instead of the real word "gone." I was disappointed that it was released as a single over better tracks, but in the end it worked out for Jackson. These days I appreciate the song more. It is still not one of my favorites from MJ, but I do like what Quincy Jones did with the arrangement and production. It was his work that really made the song. I still think Jackson overdid the vocals a bit, but the hooky chorus is still memorable and effective.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While this song reached #1 and sold well at the time, it did not reach gold level sales for the physical 45 RPM single. However, in 2018 Jackson's catalog was reevaluated by RIAA for certifications. Twenty-one of Jackson's singles received gold or platinum awards based on the RIAA's new rules for digital sales and streaming. "The Way You Make Me Feel" was certified at the double-platinum level.  2) According to a book about Jackson's #1 songs, this tune came about via Jackson's mom. Katherine Jackson had asked Michael to write something with a shuffle rhythm for his next album. Michael took on the challenge and wrote this tune. Originally, Jackson had intended to assemble a triple album and had recorded about 30 songs, including this one. His producer, Quincy Jones, talked him into making it just a single LP. After whittling down the tracks, "The Way You Make Me Feel" made the final cut.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

"Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa

Platinum Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3341
Date:  11/21/1987
Debut:  76
Peak:  19
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  New Yorkers Cheryl James and Sandra Denton were nursing students who earned money working at Sears. It seemed they had their career paths set, but then one of their Sears co-workers (and boyfriend of James), Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor ended up altering their lives forever. Azor was a music production student who needed some vocals done on one of his class projects. He asked James and Denton to join him in the studio and the three collaborated on a track titled "The Show Stoppa (Is Stupid Fresh)." They released the song under the name Super Nature on a small indie label in 1985 and it started to get some airplay around New York. It did well enough to crack the R&B chart and get to #46. With that success, the three chose to pursue music full-time and develop an act. Azor decided to add a DJ alongside James and Denton and hired on Latoya Hanson. The trio were then renamed Salt-N-Pepa and they signed on with New Plateau Entertainment. Work began on an album with Azor writing/producing the bulk of the tracks. The LP, titled Hot, Cool & Vicious, was released late in '86. Not long after its release, Hanson was replaced by teenager Deidra Roper, aka DJ Spinderella. The album got a little bit of attention with its first two singles, "My Mic Sounds Nice" and "Tramp," peaking at #41 and #21 on the R&B chart, respectively. However, it would be a b-side track that would prove to be the breakthrough for the trio. "Push It" appeared it its original form on the b-side to the 12" single of "Tramp," but on the 7" single a remix version was used. That remix started to turn some ears and it quickly became obvious that the tune had potential. Although it wasn't on the trio's debut album, the "Push It" remix was issued out as a single late in '87. It reached #28 at R&B and #18 Dance. It then crossed over to the Pop chart where it slowly caught on. The track would eventually crack the Top 20. It would end up being a platinum seller, a first for a female rap act. As the song was shaping up to be a hit, Hot, Cool & Vicious (still with Hanson pictured on the cover) was reissued with the "Push It" remix and the remix versions of two other tracks. The hit helped send the album to #7 R&B and #26 Pop. It would end up going platinum, which like the single was a first for a female rap act. "Push It" would also earn them a Grammy nod for Best Rap Performance.

ReduxReview:  This track was just cool as shit back in the day. The beat and the "ahh, push it" grabbed your attention and after that the song was loaded with hooks galore along with a rap that everyone had memorized. From what I've read, Salt-N-Pepa considered this a toss-away track that didn't show off their skills. Therefore, it got pushed to the b-side of a single. Oh how they were wrong. The remix of this tune had just the right elements to catch on in a mainstream way. Rap was still slowly breaking through to a larger audience at the time and still trying to prove it was here to stay and not a fad. It was tracks like "Push It" that helped rap gain another foothold in popularity and acceptance. It really should have gone Top 10 at Pop - really #1 - but not all Pop stations were on board with rap yet. I certainly didn't hear it on our local stations so like a lot of folks (platinum sales), I bought the single. I loved it then and I think I appreciate it even more these days. Classic.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When James and Denton released their first single, it seemed that their name, Super Nature, was not catching on or getting remembered. Apparently, when folks would call in to NYC radio stations to request "The Show Stoppa," they would ask for the song by Salt and Pepa. That stemmed from a line in the song that stated "Right now I'm gonna show you how it's supposed to be, 'cause we, the Salt and Pepa MCs." That name statement stuck in listener's minds more than Super Nature, so when it came time for the debut album, they rechristened themselves Salt-N-Pepa.  2) When "Push It" was originally released, Azor was solely credited as the composer. These days another composer is also listed, Ray Davies (of The Kinks). Davies was later added as composer because a line in the track uses lyrics from a Kinks hit that Davies wrote. Salt-N-Pepa rap "Boy you really got me goin', you got me so I don't know what I'm doin'" near the end of the song. If you replace "boy" with "girl," that is the opening lyric to The Kinks' 1964 #7 hit "You Really Got Me." It seems some legal wrangling took place and the result was the added credit and, most likely, some financial settlement.  3) The famous whispered "ahh, push it" in the track was a sped up sample taken from the song "Keep on Pushin'" by the funk/rock group Coalkitchen. It appeared on their 1977 album Thirsty or Not...Choose Your Flavor. The Illinois band formed in the early 70s and signed on with Full Moon/Epic Records a few years later. Their debut album came and went to little notice and they broke up. However, the "ahh, push it" sample from their song still lives on with Salt-N-Pepa's hit.


Sunday, December 6, 2020

"I Can't Help It" by Bananarama

Song#:  3340
Date:  11/21/1987
Debut:  78
Peak:  47
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Synthpop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  The British vocal trio got their third US Pop Top 10 with the #4 "I Heard a Rumor." It was from their album Wow!, which mostly co-written and fully produced by the Stock Aitken Waterman team. Next up from the album was this single. While it would do well on the Dance chart getting to #7, the song fizzled on the Pop chart stopping short of the Top 40. Without a second major hit, the album halted at #44 and failed to reach the gold level sales mark that they had hit with their previous LP, 1986's True Confessions.

ReduxReview:  While this sleek dance track still had the SAW stamp, it leaned towards sophisti-pop. It was as if Level 42 or Swing Out Sister decided to boost their tunes with a little Hi-NRG. The tune wasn't quite as catchy as Bananarama's top hits, but it was a pretty good track. The SAW production was apt for the time period, but frankly I think the song would have been much better done in a more subtle, string-laden lite jazz arrangement. The honking synth line that plays through the chorus overwhelms and even drowns out the vocals. It gets rather annoying. The tune probably should have dipped into the Top 40, but it wasn't destined for greater glory.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Two members of Bananarama had long term relationships with famous musicians. Siobhan Fahey married Dave Stewart of Eurythmics in 1987. They would have two sons that would follow in their parents' footsteps in the music business. The two boys would form their own band in 2010 named Nightmare and the Cat. The band would last until 2015. Fahey and Stewart would divorce in 1996. Keren Woodward would start a relationship with former Wham! member Andrew Ridgeley sometime around '85. They would live together until 2017, but the reunite in 2019. While the pair never had kids, Woodward did have a son from a prior relationship that lived with the couple.