Saturday, December 26, 2020

"Never Thought (That I Could Love)" by Dan Hill

Song#:  3358
Date:  12/12/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  43
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  After being absent from the US Pop chart for nearly a decade, Canadian singer/songwriter Dan Hill returned in a big way with the #6 "Can't We Try," a duet with Vonda Shepard. It would do even better at AC reaching #2. The song was taken from Hill's second self-titled effort (his first was his 1975 debut LP) as was this follow-up single. The track would be another winner at AC reaching #2. Over on the Pop chart, it didn't perform as well stopping short of the Top 40. A third single from the album, "Carmelia," would reach #8 at AC, but fail to make the Pop chart. The album sold a few copies and was able to hit #90. Hill's 1989 follow-up album, Real Love, would be less successful only generating the #3 AC track "Unborn Heart." Hill would continue to record and would get three more songs on the AC chart including the 1991 #7 "I Fall All Over Again."

ReduxReview:  This was a good follow up to "Can't We Try." I thought it would have at least made the Top 40, but it stopped short. While it was quite a nice ballad, I think it just leaned a little too much towards the AC crowd in a Manilow/Air Supply kind of way, which wasn't necessarily gonna work for the pop crowd. "Can't We Try" was a grander song that appealed to a wider audience. Still, this was a lovely tune that continued Hill's streak of romantic ballads.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Hill's biggest Pop chart hit was 1977's "Sometimes When We Touch." The ballad was co-written by Hill with Barry Mann. The single got to #3 Pop/#10 AC. While many artists have recorded the song including Barry Manilow, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, and Bonnie Tyler, none have been able to get the song on the Pop chart. However, in 1985 the song became a Country hit. Mark Gray and country superstar Tammy Wynette turned the tune into a duet and took it to #6 on the Country chart. It wouldn't be Hill's only song to make the Country chart. In the 90s, Hill hooked up with country singer/songwriter Keith Stegall and the pair wrote songs for several country artists. Five of their songs reached the Country chart with three of them making the Top 10 including a pair of #2 hits, "Love of My Life" by Sammy Kershaw (1997) and "I Do (Cherish You)" by Mark Wills (1998). The latter song was later covered by the boy band 98 Degrees. Their version was released as a single in 1999 and got to #4 AC/#13 Pop.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

"Hot Hot Hot" by Buster Poindexter

Song#:  3357
Date:  12/12/1987
Debut:  95
Peak:  45
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Soca, Calypso, Pop

Pop Bits:  In the 70s, David Johansen was the lead singer/songwriter of the hard rock band New York Dolls. With their androgynous look and glam/punk sound, which predated the existence of those two genres, the band proved to be highly influential. They were able to record two albums in '73 and '74 that were critically acclaimed, but sold very little. Inner struggles led to the band breaking up 1976. Johansen then set out for a solo career and issued out a well-reviewed self-titled debut in 1978, but like the LPs from the Dolls, it hardly sold. Still, he'd continue to record and perform with his band over the next several years. At some point following his 1984 album Sweet Revenge, Johansen started listening to early rock 'n' roll and jump blues records. He also frequented a New York club called Tramps where many blues artists performed. It wasn't long before Johansen got the itch to perform some of the old tunes he had been hearing. However, he didn't want to perform them in his own shows because it wasn't what people would want to hear if they bought a ticket to see David Johansen. Therefore, he developed a show around a new persona named Buster Poindexter, a pompadour sporting, joke telling, martini swilling bandleader. Johansan's regular band would join in as the Banshees of Blues. Johansen booked a few nights at Tramps and debuted his new creation. The show was a success and it eventually led to a contract with RCA. A self-titled debut album was recorded and this first single released. Thanks in part to promo appearances and a popular MTV video, the song started to catch on. It got to #11 on the Dance chart and nearly cracked the Pop Top 40. The album would sell well and reach #40. The song and album would end up being Johansen's biggest chart successes. Johansen would record three more albums under the Buster Poindexter name and has continued to perform shows as the character. In 2004, the New York Dolls reformed and recorded a new album that was well received. Two more LPs would follow.

ReduxReview:  I just didn't get the whole Buster Poindexter thing back in the day. I found the character annoying, the video goofy, and the song a bit ridiculous. Yet the tune attracted people to the dance floor and soon it was being played at about every wedding reception. A friend of mine bought the album and I had to endure listing to the whole thing for a period of time as they loved it. These days I have a better appreciation for what Johnasen was trying to do. Spurred on by his love of these songs, he developed a way to perform them and yet keep it separate from his day job, so to speak. He actually did do a nice job with the songs and I kind of dig the records now. This tune still kind of remains a party classic and I don't mind joining a conga line if the song come on.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by soca/calypso artist Arrow (aka Alphonsus Cassell). Born on the island of Montserrat, Arrow became a major soca music star following his 1972 debut album. His profile was raised in 1983 when he recorded "Hot Hot Hot." The single did well enough to reach #59 on the UK chart. He would then score a #30 UK hit the following year with "Long Time." While Arrow wouldn't be able to reach the US Pop chart, after the success of Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot," Arrow placed a couple of song on the US Dance chart including the 1988 #23 "Groove Master." Arrow would pass away in 2010 from cerebral cancer.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

"Tunnel of Love" by Bruce Springsteen

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3356
Date:  12/05/1987
Debut:  57
Peak:  9
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Springsteen's Tunnel of Love album, his follow-up to 1984's massively successful Born in the U.S.A., was highly anticipated, but unlike his 1986 box set Live/1975-1985, it didn't make a major splash by debuting in the #1 spot. It started off at #16 and two weeks later landed at the top, but remained there for one lone week. Although the more personal LP's first single, "Brilliant Disguise," would make it to #5, it didn't draw people to the album in the way that "Dancing in the Dark" did for Born in the U.S.A. Springsteen's label probably realized quickly that the new album wasn't going to get close to the sales mark set by Born, but that didn't mean it still couldn't do well and it was hoped this title track single would help album sales. The song would be another bit hit at Rock reaching #1. Over on the Pop chart the tune managed to make the Top 10, which ended up being good for the album. By April of '88, the LP would go triple-platinum.

ReduxReview:  This song gets near the top of my list of favorite Springsteen songs. I just think everything about it is perfect. The lyrics, the arrangement, the production, the background vocals, and even the crowd noises (see below) were just spot on. There was some strange, other worldly feel about the song and at the time it was quite a different sound for Springsteen. I've heard it countless times and I still adore the track. I nearly get chills whenever I hear the song start. If it happens to come up on one of my playlists, I'll usually hit the repeat button because just one time through isn't enough for me. Classic and brilliant.


Trivia:  Some effects that contain noises and screams can be heard slightly at the beginning of the song, but more prominently at the end. The sounds heard were captured by engineer Toby Scott. He recorded actual amusement park noises to go with the song's metaphorical tunnel of love/fun house theme. Scott recorded the sounds at Herman's Amusements on Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, which in 1987 became part of Jenkinson's Boardwalk. The clanking roar and screams Scott recorded apparently came from a roller coaster at the park, which at the time was owned by the Schiffer family. According to a newspaper article written by a former employee at the park, the coaster was called the Dragon. The history of the ride isn't well documented, but it seems that at some point in time after it was taken over by Jenkinson's, the coaster was closed and perhaps even moved. A refurbished version of the ride then became the Tornado, which is still in operation as of this posting date. The Tornado is an example of a railed powered roller coaster. This means that the single car that traverses the track is powered throughout the ride. This is different from most coasters that rely on large hills to propel the coaster around the track. The advantage of a powered coaster is that it can be designed for small areas where large hills couldn't be constructed. In the liner notes for Tunnel of Love, the Schiffer family is given credit for the park noises.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

"Say You Will" by Foreigner

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3355
Date:  12/05/1987
Debut:  59
Peak:  6
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After the band's #4 triple-platinum LP Agent Provocateur, lead singer Lou Gramm decided it was time to do a solo album and pushed out Ready or Not early in '87, which resulted in the #5 hit "Midnight Blue." After the success of the album, it seemed Gramm's tenure in the band was in question as commitments to his solo work interrupted progress of Foreigner's next effort. Luckily, everything got worked out and a full compliment of Foreigner finally finished off their sixth album Inside Information. This first single was released and it shot to the top of the Rock chart where it stayed for four weeks. It also ended up doing well on the Pop chart becoming their eighth Top 10 hit. The tune was also able to scratch the AC chart at #41. It seemed the hit would easily push the album into the Top 10, but in late February of '88, it stalled at #15. It would be Foreigner's first album to miss the Top 10.

ReduxReview:  While this kind of sounded like a Foreigner track thanks mainly to Lou Gramm's voice, it certain was one of their most pop-oriented singles. It seemed like they were following Journey's journey towards attracting a more adult soft rock audience. Foreigner was never really cutting edge rock, but they did well in balancing their guitar-driven rock with radio friendly hooks. It just seemed that by this time they had really toned down the guitars in favor of 80s keyboards, perhaps in an attempt to secure a pop hit. It certainly wasn't the Foreigner of "Hot Blooded" or even "Urgent." Still, this wasn't a bad song at all. It was a credible pop tune that played well on the radio and got the band back into the Top 10.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Prior to forming Foreigner, guitarist and co-songwriter Mick Jones had been a member of a couple of other bands that had some limited success. As an 18-year-old, Jones spent about a year playing in the British rock 'n' roll instrumental band Nero and the Gladiators, who lived up to their name by sporting togas and gladiator costumes. The band had scored a couple of minor UK single entries in 1961, which brought them attention. They even opened some shows for The Beatles in their early Cavern Club days. While the band wouldn't chart again, they continued to tour and in 1963 Jones joined them when the band's guitarist left. He'd stay on for a while, but would eventually leave. The band called it quits in 1964. Jones would then mainly be a session musician until he began working with Gary Wright, leader of the British rock band Spooky Tooth. The pair became the duo Wonderwall in 1971, but then in 1972, Wright decided to reform Spooky Tooth and took Jones with him. The band recorded three albums before disbanding again in 1974. Two years later, Jones started to form Foreigner.


Monday, December 21, 2020

"In God's Country" by U2

Song#:  3354
Date:  12/05/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  44
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, U2's The Joshua Tree had already spent 9 weeks at #1 and had sold over 4 million copies. Two of its singles hit #1 while a third, "Where the Streets Have No Name," just missed the Top 10 peaking at #13. For most markets, the three singles would be it. However, for the US and Canada, the band's label decided to take a chance on a fourth single and released this track. The song would do well at Rock reaching #6, but it couldn't fully catch on at Pop and missed making the Top 40. The results didn't really matter as the album had already sold millions and in March of '88 it would win the Grammy for Album of the Year, which boosted sales. By the fall of '88 it would go 5x platinum. The LP would continue to sell over the years and in 1995 it would reach the diamond mark (10+million). Worldwide sales stand at 25 million making one of the best-selling albums of all-time.

ReduxReview:  This jangly upbeat track was probably the best choice for a fourth single, but it didn't have the same mainstream/pop appeal as the band's previous singles. With the band's popularity sky high at the time, it wasn't a bad choice to push this out as a single. Odds were 50/50 that it would do anything. The fact it nearly made the Top 40 wasn't too bad. Apparently, a video for the song was made but it wasn't serviced to MTV. An assist there might have helped get the single a bit further up the chart, but it still wasn't destined to be a hit. The song still works best as an album track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In addition to the four singles released from the album, two other tracks from The Joshua Tree album and sessions would reach the Rock chart. The caustic LP track "Bullet the Blue Sky" received enough airplay to reach #14 at Rock. Another song from the recording sessions, "Spanish Eyes," also made the Rock chart at #11. "Spanish Eyes" was initially developed during The Joshua Tree sessions and a cassette tape of the idea/song was created. Somehow the tape got set aside and lost, so the song was not revisited. As the recording of the album was coming to a close, the cassette was found. The band thought the tune had potential, but by that point it was too late to get it done in time to be a possible candidate for the LP and had to set it aside. Later, they picked back up on the song and got it recorded with a couple of other leftover tracks. These would be used for b-sides to upcoming singles. "Spanish Eyes" was used for the b-side to "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Not long after that song peaked at #1, "Spanish Eyes" began to pickup some airplay on rock radio stations. By the first week in August of '87, it would nearly make the Rock Top 10 stopping at #11.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

"Lover's Lane" by Georgio

Song#:  3353
Date:  12/05/1987
Debut:  86
Peak:  59
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Dance, R&B

Pop Bits:  Georgio's debut LP for Motown, Sex Appeal, sold a few copies and ended up reaching #27 R&B and #117 Pop thanks to a pair of singles that included the #1 Dance/#5 R&B hit "Tina Cherry" (#96 Pop). Hoping to keep up some momentum, this third single from the LP was released. Like his previous two singles, it would make the Dance Top 10 reaching #2. It did less well at R&B getting to #26 while missing the top half of the Pop chart. A fourth single, "Bedrock," would make it to #5 Dance and #37 R&B. It would fail to make the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Just like his other singles, this one leaned heavy on the Prince/Minneapolis sound. It wasn't quite as Prince-ly as "Tina Cherry," where it sounded like he was trying to beat Prince at his own game, but elements of the Purple One were still evident. It also wasn't quite as bad as "Tina Cherry." The groove was solid while the production was crisp and clean. It got a bit repetitive and didn't have enough hooks to lure in pop radio, but overall it was a fairly good dance track.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song would end up being Georgio's last to reach the Pop chart. His second Motown album was a self-titled effort that came out in 1988. It seems for the most part, Georgio was still chasing after Prince. The LP's first single, "I Don't Want 2 Be Alone," which used the "2" instead of "to" in the same way Prince had started to do years earlier, was a ballad that didn't create any distance between Georgio and the Prince sound. The single got to #37 R&B. Another track on the album, "Romantic Love," only got to #39 at Dance. With those results, the album topped out at #55 R&B while not making the Pop chart. Georgio then left Motown and signed on with RCA for his third album, 1991's Rollin'. The title track got to #35 R&B while a second single only got to #70. The album failed to make any chart and with that, Georgio's music career came to a close. He would later attempt a career in film by writing, directing, and starring in the 2003 music biz crime drama Tapped Out, which featured an appearance by rapper Coolio. After that, Georgio seemingly disappeared from the entertainment business.