Wednesday, December 29, 2021

"Don't Rush Me" by Taylor Dayne

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3714
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  81
Peak:  2
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Dance-Pop


Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Taylor Dayne's debut album Tell It to My Heart had become a platinum success that spawned three Top 10 hits including the #3 ballad "I'll Always Love You." It was the third single from the LP and with that result the label chose to issue out a fourth single. "Don't Rush Me" was pushed out and after a bit of a slow start, the song climbed the chart and surprisingly became Dayne's highest peaking hit at Pop reaching #2. It also did well at Dance (#6) and AC (#3). The hit helped spur some more albums sales and eventually it would go double-platinum. It was decided not to release a fifth single from the LP so Dayne didn't get the opportunity to try and join the minor handful of artists who got five Pop Top 10 hits from one album. However, she did join the club of those who did get four from one album, which at the time included Cyndi Lauper, Wham!, Madonna, Debbie Gibson, Richard Marx, Prince, Lionel Richie, The Pointer Sisters, Heart, Huey Lewis & the News, and a few others.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure if anyone expected Dayne's album to generate four Top 10s in a row, but it happened. In addition to Dayne being a great singer with a recognizable voice, it helped that she was able to secure several top-notch, radio-ready tracks for the LP. The key to it all was making sure that the album's title track single would be a hit. After that happened, I bet both Dayne and the label were like, "yeah...we got this." Then boom. Three more excellent singles followed. This fourth single was another hook-laden dance-pop track that was taken to the next level by Dayne's performance. It was a great way to wrap up the string of hits.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Taylor Dayne played a small, but important part in the career of a rising stand-up comic. Tig Notaro had been running her own company in the early 90s that managed bands, but by the late 90s she turned into a performer herself and started a career in stand-up. Her reputation grew over the years and in 2004 she got the chance to do her own Comedy Central special. Some film and TV role came her way including a recurring role on The Sarah Silverman Show, but Notaro seemed to still be flying under the radar. In 2011, she recorded her first comedy album Good One. On it was a monologue about how many times she unexpectedly met Taylor Dayne. Each time she saw Dayne, Notaro would approach her and say "Excuse me. I'm sorry to bother you, but I have to tell you. I love your voice." Each time it elicited a different reaction from Dayne. Oddly, Notaro ran into Dayne several times over the years and it became fodder for her true-life monologue. In 2012, Notaro was able to secure a spot on the Ira Glass NPR program This American Life in a live show setting and she performed the Taylor Dayne monologue. Notaro nailed the performance, which was a coup, but then Glass had a surprise for her. After Notaro finished, Glass introduced Taylor Dayne and she came out and performed "I Will Always Love You" to a surprised, and slightly peeved (but ultimately into it) Notaro. The segment became hugely popular and helped push Notaro's career. Unfortunately, right around the same time, Notaro was diagnosed with breast cancer. She addressed the cancer and its difficulties in one of her live shows just a few days after her diagnosis, which had been taped. Comedian Louis C.K. wanted to release the performance as a download on his website, but Notaro was reluctant. Finally realizing that perhaps it could help someone, she allowed for the show to be released. It became a success that eventually earned Notaro a Grammy nod for Best Comedy Recording. The Dayne segment along with the Live album helped Notaro break through in a bigger way. Her 2-16 album/TV special Boyish Girl Interrupted would earn her another Grammy nod along with an Emmy nomination. (Note: I highly recommend looking up her This American Life Dayne performance. It is hilarious.)

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

"Ghost Town" by Cheap Trick

Song#:  3713
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  83
Peak:  33
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock


Pop Bits:  After a mid-80s slump, Cheap Trick roared back with their album Lap of Luxury. In addition to its first single, "The Flame," hitting #1, its follow-up "Don't Be Cruel" also found its way into the Pop Top 10 (#4). The pair of hits basically demanded that a third single be released from the LP and this track was selected. It couldn't keep up with the pace set by the other two hits and ended up locked outside of the Pop Top 30 while only reaching #32 Rock. While it didn't do all that well, it did mark the first time that the band earned three Pop Top 40 entries from one album.

ReduxReview:  While I don't think this song was destined to be a major hit, it was a standout track on the album and was a good choice for a third single. The power ballad featured a hooky chorus along with Robin Zander's yearning vocals. It was a solid pop/rock track that did about as well as it could on the charts.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was initially written and demoed by the band's lead guitarist Rick Nielsen in 1981. It was developed as a potential song for the band's 1982 One on One (#39, gold), but it got set aside in favor of other tunes. When gathering songs for Lap of Luxury, Nielsen revived the tune. Around that time, the label convinced the band to allow outside writers either contribute songs or help in their songwriting. One ringer that was brought in was Diane Warren. She assisted Nielsen in making "Ghost Town" a viable track for the album. In doing so, Warren earned a writing credit. The momentary partnership seemed to work as the song would end up becoming a Pop Top 40 single.  2) During the Lap of Luxury sessions, the band recorded several songs that didn't make the cut. A minor few of them would end up on film soundtracks or would be included on a Cheap Trick retrospective box. Several others remained on the shelf. However, one tune written by Rick Nielsen along with Journey's Jonathan Cain would end up getting picked up by another artist. The Japanese all-female hard rock/glam metal band Show-Ya would record "We'll Still Be Hangin' On" for their 1988 album Glamour. The band had been successful in Japan and with the advent of glam metal in the States in the late 80s, they began to gear some of their material towards a more international audience. They would perform in the US and their 1990 album Hard Way would be produced by Beau Hill (Ratt, Warrant, Winger) and Paul Winger, brother of Winger leader Kip Winger. While Show-Ya would never really gain a big US audience, they remained successful and influential at home.

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Monday, December 27, 2021

"Baby Can I Hold You" by Tracy Chapman

Song#:  3712
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  84
Peak:  48
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Contemporary Folk, Singer/Songwriter


Pop Bits:  Chapman's self-titled debut album was an unexpected smash that earned her three Grammy awards including one for Best New Artist. It all came about thanks to her #6 single "Fast Car." She followed it up with "Talkin' bout a Revolution," but that tune just didn't resonate as well and stalled at #75. Looking for a better result, this third single from the album was released. It did indeed do better, but it still wasn't able to put Chapman back into the Pop Top 40. However, it did do a bit better at AC where it reached #19. It would be the last single released from the album.

ReduxReview:  This really should have been the LP's second single. If it had been, I think it would have easily made the Top 40. However, I think the label wanted something more upbeat for a second single instead of another ballad and chose "Revolution," which was a good song, but not as single-worthy as "Baby Can I Hold You." It was a missed opportunity. This was a lovely track that had a different feel and mood from "Fast Car" and was truly the only other track on the album that had a chance at becoming a hit. Sadly it got relegated to the third single and with a little momentum lost, the tune wasn't quite strong enough (or promoted well enough) to get Chapman higher up on the charts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In 1997, this song was remade by the Irish boy band Boyzone. The assembled group of five male vocalists kicked off their career in a big way when their first single, a remake of The Four Seasons #9 1966 hit "Working My Way Back to You," got to #3 in the UK. From then on, Boyzone mania hit. Between 1994 and 2010, the group would amass nineteen UK Top 10s with nine of those hitting #1. Four of the five associated albums during that time frame would reach #1 while the fifth would peak at #2. Among their hits was their remake of Chapman's song. It would be issued out as a double-sided "a" single in 1997 along with the track "Shooting Star." It would be a #2 hit. Boyzone had become superstars in the UK and parts of Europe, but in the US they remained virtually unknown. Attempts were made to break them in the US, but the only song that did anything was their 1988 single "No Matter What" (#1 UK). It was able to reach #12 AC while bubbling under the Pop chart at a very minor #116. Maybe because during that time frame the US already had a glut of popular boy bands that there just wasn't space for one coming in from the UK. Another hugely successful boy band from the UK in the 90s, Take That, also had difficulty breaking in the US. However, they at least became a one-hit wonder in the States thanks to one lone single making the Pop chart, 1995's "Back for Good," which got to #7 (#2 AC/#1 UK). Other UK boy bands that were successful in the UK but were barely blips in the US were Westlife, East 17, and 5ive.  2) This song was the subject of a lawsuit. In 2018, rapper Nicki Minaj used an interpolation of Chapman's song for her track "Sorry." At the time Minaj was recording the tune, she apparently thought the sample of the song she was using was from reggae artist Shelly Thunder's version of Chapman's tune titled "Sorry." However, it was actually Chapman's original. Minaj's team sought to get clearance for the sample, but Chapman denied the request on more than one occasion. Minaj was then forced to leave the song off of her album. However, the song got leaked and that was when Chapman sued for copyright infringement. After all the court proceedings, Minaj agreed to pay Chapman $450,000 to settle the case.

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Sunday, December 26, 2021

"It's the Money That Matters" by Randy Newman

Song#:  3711
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  85
Peak:  60
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock


Pop Bits:  The last time Newman was on the Pop chart was back in 1983 when his duet with Paul Simon, "The Blues," got to #51.  It was taken from his LP Trouble in Paradise (#64), an album that would end up being his last one for nearly six years. Yet during that hiatus of sorts, Newman was not idle. He began focusing more on film music, which led to a score for 1984's The Natural and songs for the 1986 comedy Three Amigos. By 1988, he was ready to return to being a singer/songwriter and assembled a new album titled Land of Dreams. This single would be issued out from the album and it made a big splash at Rock reaching #1 on that chart. It would end up being Newman's first and only #1 on any chart. The tune then crossed over to Pop, but it couldn't even crack the top half of the chart. With that result, the album then stopped at #80. Land of Dreams would be Newman's last solo album for eleven years.

ReduxReview:  I remember this song, but had no idea it was a #1 Rock track. Odd to think of a Newman track fending off the likes of R.E.M. and U2 for the top spot while artists like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were also in the Top 10. It was quite the accomplishment for Newman, but sadly the song didn't translate as well to pop radio. The guitar-driven track was certainly one of Newman's most radio-friendly efforts. It's wry lyrics may have been lost on some, but its catchy chorus kept folks listening. Despite only having one significant Pop hit with 1977's #2 "Short People," Newman ranks among America's greatest composers/songwriters. Many artists have covered his songs over the years and he even got a #1 Pop hit as a writer when his "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" became a chart topper for Three Dog Night in 1970. Singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson loved Newman's work so much that he did a full covers album in 1970 titled Nilsson Sings Newman. While he may not have been a huge pop star, Newman remains a highly respected composer and songwriter who has won seven Grammys, three Emmys, and two Oscars. All he needs it that Tony for the EGOT!

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After Land of Dreams, Newman basically threw himself fully into writing songs and scores for films. Arguably his most well-known and successful effort came in 1995 when he did the music for the Pixar megahit Toy Story. That soundtrack featured the Oscar nominated song "You've Got a Friend in Me." While he would not with the award that year, he would later win the Best Original Song Oscar twice. First in 2001 for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. Then again in again in 2010 for "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3. Between 1981 and 2019, Newman's scores and songs would earn him twenty-two Oscar nominations that resulted in the two wins. While film music became his primary focus, Newman didn't forget to drop a solo album on occasion. He would have new studio efforts come out in 1999, 2008, and 2017. He also released three Storybook albums where he remade various songs from his back catalog.

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Thursday, December 23, 2021

"You Make Me Work" by Cameo

Song#:  3710
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  89
Peak:  85
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Electro-Funk


Pop Bits:  Cameo had been highly successful in the R&B market since the late 70s. Between 1979 and 1985, the band amassed seven gold selling albums that spawned six R&B Top 10 hits. Yet during that time period, the only song of theirs to reach the Pop chart was the #47 "She's Strange." Finally, they had a major mainstream breakthrough with "Word Up," the first single from their '86 album of the same name. It would get to #6 Pop/#1 R&B/#1 Dance while the album would be a #8 Pop/#1 R&B platinum seller. That success set the band up well for their next album, Machismo. Looking to replicate or even best the results of their previous LP, they kicked things off with this lead single. The song would do well at R&B reaching #4, but it failed to retain the mainstream audience gained from their previous album and stalled low on the Pop chart. It would also get to a minor #45 at Dance. With that result, the LP would scrape the R&B Top 10 at #10 while only reaching #56 Pop. A second single, "Skin I'm In," would get to #5 R&B, but fail to reach the Pop chart. The pair of R&B Top 10s would help the album go gold, but it was a definite decline from their previous platinum success.

ReduxReview:  The problem here is that lead singer/songwriter Larry Blackmon just basically dished out "Word Up, Pt. 2." The opening with its beat and horn line immediately recalled "Word Up" and it didn't help that Blackmon's vocal delivery was nearly the same. It was as if Blackmon thought - hey, it worked once, why not try it again? Unfortunately, it didn't really work out the second time around. A more mainstream audience wasn't looking for a "Word Up" copy and the single was nearly a non-starter at Pop. Whether it was pressure from the label or from having a huge hit, Blackmon didn't really bring his A-game to Machismo. In fact, the third single "Pretty Girls" (#52 R&B) was another "Word Up" close with a nearly identical verse, which certainly didn't help its prospects. The LP had a couple of good tunes, but none were going to keep Cameo in the Pop limelight.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After Machismo, the band's fortunes quickly dwindled. They would earn one last R&B Top 10 with the 1990 #5 "I Want It Now" with their next three albums missing the R&B Top 10 and failing to go gold. They would then go on hiatus for a few years before returning with a new album in 2000. A little exposure came their way in 2001 when a sample of their 1986 hit "Candy" was used for the Mariah Carey song "Loverboy." In addition to the sample, Cameo would also provide some backing vocals on the track. It would be released as the first single from Carey's soundtrack to her movie Glitter. The tune would make it to #2 Pop/#1 R&B. While their appearance on the track gave the band a little boost, they didn't capitalize on it and found themselves back on hiatus. Later in 2016, they would spend a year performing in Vegas and have done tours since then.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

"All This Time" by Tiffany

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3709
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  90
Peak:  6
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop


Pop Bits:  Having a multi-platinum #1 debut album along with a pair of #1 hits could certainly be a lot for an artist to handle. Instant success along with all the publicity and fame can be a lot to take in for anyone, but for a teenager like Tiffany, it was even more difficult since she was not quite an of-age adult and had others in charge of her career. Between her manager/producer George Tobin and her own mother, Tiffany had plenty of behind-the-scenes issues that perhaps negated some of her success. Despite those problems, Tiffany had to soldier on and she got back into the studio with Tobin to work on a second album. Titled Hold an Old Friend's Hand, the LP would get kicked off with this first single. The mid-tempo ballad got off to a bit of a slow start, but eventually it would do well enough to become her fourth Pop Top 10 single. It also reached #10 AC.  While it wasn't a huge hit, it was enough to draw fans to the album and it would reach #17 and quickly go platinum. Unfortunately, this single would prove to be her last to reach the Pop Top 10.

ReduxReview:  I had totally forgotten about this song. I actually didn't even remember that it made the Top 10. I don't think I've heard this song since way back when it was on the chart. It kind of hit and then disappeared. Hearing it now, it's not a bad little tune. It was an age appropriate ballad that fit in with Tiffany's bubblepop sound. The album also tried to move Tiffany in a slightly more mature direction and in some ways it succeeded. Where it failed was that it didn't contain any surefire hits. Producer Tobin just didn't secure the right tracks to keep Tiffany going on the charts. After the success of her debut LP, it seems like he'd have access to a pool of better songs and songwriters, but perhaps that wasn't the case. What we were left with was this lone Top 10 from the album that was quickly forgotten.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The last track on Hold and Old Friend's Hand was a bit odd. Titled "Overture," it was an instrumental guitar tune that was made of melodies from songs on the album. It was performed by Grant Geissman. The jazz guitarist had been a member of Chuck Mangione's band in the late 70s and it is his guitar solo that is heard on Mangione's 1978 #4 instrumental hit "Feels So Good."  Geissman worked with other jazz artists while also maintaining his own solo career. He also did session work and one of those jobs was to perform "Overture" for Tiffany's album. There were couple of things that made the track odd (besides being titled "Overture" yet appearing at the end of the album). First, it was an acoustic instrumental appearing on a bubblegum pop album. It just didn't fit. Second, and perhaps most importantly, Tiffany had nothing to do with the tune. It seems like producer Tobin thought the LP needed an extra short track of some kind to close the album and got the instrumental assembled and recorded.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

"When the Children Cry" by White Lion

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3708
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  92
Peak:  3
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock


Pop Bits:  This NYC-based band's second album, Pride, would reach #11 and go platinum thanks to its breakthrough lead single, the #8 "Wait." A second single, "Tell Me," didn't do much to further promote the LP when it stopped at #58. However, things would turn around in a big way with this third single. The power ballad got off to a slow start, but it kept gaining in popularity and eventually found its way to #3 on the Pop chart (#7 Rock). The hit sparked sales of the album and by May of '89 it would reach the double-platinum mark. A fourth single, "All You Need Is Rock 'N' Roll," would be released, but it would fail to reach the charts.

ReduxReview:  This sentimental and somewhat political track was different from the typical power ballad fare pushed out by glam bands. Lead singer and co-writer Mike Tramp had something to say and it all came out in this song. Even though the lyrics were a bit on the treacly side, it was all quite effective with the finger picking guitar, the quietly dramatic arrangement, and Tramp's emotive vocal. It took a little while, but it caught on and became a hit and a big lighter-waving moment at their concerts. 

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  White Lion's Pride album was produced by Michael Wagener. The German producer/engineer began his career behind the board in the early 70s. When the 80s arrived, his career began to take off in a bigger way after he produced the debut album by Dokken. He then worked with other hard rock/metal band including Great White, Skid Row, Stryper, Warrant, and of course White Lion. He would also produce two albums by the Finnish hard rock/metal band Lordi. Lordi was headed up by lead singer/songwriter Mr Lordi (Tomi Petteri Putaansuu). The band first began to form around 1992 and not long after, Mr Lordi got the idea to have all members of the group perform as monsters. They would don specially made masks and costumes mainly designed by Mr Lordi and would incorporate horror elements and effects in their shows. The 90s were tough for Lordi as they weren't finding their way to bigger success and an album they recorded never saw the light of day due to label issues. They finally got a break in 2002 when they were signed to BMG. Their first single, "Would You Love a Monsterman?," would hit #1 in Finland with their debut album Get Heavy reaching #3. The band was finally off and running. Then in 2006, something unusual happened that garnered the band more worldwide exposure. They entered their song "Hard Rock Hallelujah" into the Eurovision Song Contest and it ended up winning. The win was the first for an act from Finland and the first hard rock/metal song to win. The track was featured on their third album The Arockalypse, which would top the Finnish chart. It would also go Top 10 in several other countries and would even reach #17 on the US Heatseekers chart. Since Lordi's 2006 Eurovision win, no other band or rock act would win the contest until 2021 when German rock band Måneskin took home the trophy with their song "Zitti e buoni."

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Monday, December 20, 2021

"Put a Little Love in Your Heart" by Annie Lennox & Al Green

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3707
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  96
Peak:  9
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack


Pop Bits:  Following the release of their 1987 album Savage, Eurythmics got the opportunity to provide a song for a movie soundtrack. A&M Records got the task of creating a soundtrack album for the '88 Bill Murray holiday comedy Scrooged. Of course they wanted to promote their own artists and among their stable was R&B/gospel singer Al Green. Green had recorded a pair of gospel albums for the label and his second one, '87's Soul Survivor, ended up doing fairly well reaching #1 Gospel/#25 R&B/#131 Pop. Perhaps looking to boost his career, A&M wanted to get Green on the soundtrack, but pair him with a more current, successful singer for a duet. Although she was on a different label, the idea of hiring Eurythmics' Annie Lennox was brought up. When the dust settled, Green and Lennox would do a cover version of "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" with Eurythmics' Dave Stewart producing. The finished song would then be issued out as a single a couple of weeks before the film hit theaters. The tune didn't click out of the box, but after the movie did fairly well and the song's associated MTV video became popular, it climbed the Pop chart and was able to crack the Top 10. It also got to #2 AC and #29 Dance. The hit helped the soundtrack get to #93. For Green, it was his first Pop Top 10 hit since 1974's #7 "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)." Unfortunately, it didn't do enough to really spark Green's career. His next album in '89 which tried to mix gospel with more mainstream songs didn't quite pay off and he parted ways with A&M.

ReduxReview:  This fluffy cover tune joined together a pair of great voices and it came out just at the right time with the holiday season approaching. With an updated, modern arrangement and production by Dave Stewart, the tune was radio ready for the late 80s. Still, I was surprised this chestnut made the Pop Top 10. As much as I adored Annie Lennox and appreciated Al Green, the song came off as one of those "hey, this would be fun" things; a sort of lark or detour that would draw attention for a minute and perhaps become a hit. For example, the one-off Bowie/Jagger duet of "Dancing in the Streets." While this song is nowhere near as bad as that duet was, it still wasn't great or inspired. It was a quick ditty done for a film and it luckily paid off. These days it comes off as a nearly forgotten oddity in each artist's catalog.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally co-written and recorded by Jackie DeShannon. It would be issued out as a single and would get to #4 Pop in 1969. It would end up being DeShannon's biggest hit. Although many artists have covered the tune, the version by Lennox/Green would be the only other one to make the Pop chart. However, country singer Susan Raye would record a version in '69 that would get to #30 on the Country chart.  2) Lennox and Green had not met prior to the recording of the song. They also didn't meet during or even after. According to an Apple Music interview with Lennox, a track was produced of the song and agreements were made on which parts of the song Lennox and Green would sing. Lennox added her vocal to the track in the UK, then the track was sent to Green in the US for his vocal. The same technique was then applied to the song's associated video. Although it sort of appears as if the two singers are performing together, their video portions were also taped separately and stitched together. Without ever meeting, the pair ended up with a Top 10 hit. Apparently, Lennox didn't actually meet Al Green until years later.

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Sunday, December 19, 2021

"I Believe in You" by Stryper

Song#:  3706
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  97
Peak:  88
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Contemporary Christian, Glam Rock


Pop Bits:  The band's fourth album, In God We Trust, would end up being a #32 gold seller that reached #5 on the Christian Albums chart. It got a boost from MTV where the video for its first single "Always There for You" got some heavy airplay. Unfortunately, that didn't necessarily translate into a mainstream hit with the single only reaching #71 on the Pop chart. Hoping for a better result, this next single was released. It couldn't get a leg up and stalled even lower on the chart. Still, a gold record by a CCM glam rock band was quite the accomplishment even though it was a drop from the platinum status of their previous LP To Hell with the Devil.

ReduxReview:  With the pop/rock tune "Always There for You" stalling early, Stryper then sent out this power ballad to get them back in the Pop Top 40, but it didn't work out. This really isn't a bad song. I just think it couldn't compete with tougher power ballads coming from the likes of Poison and others. In fact, this one sounds like a leftover track from an early 80s Styx album. Michael Sweet's vocals were even reminiscent of ones by Styx's Dennis DeYoung. Overall it kind of sounded old-fashioned for the glam late 80s and it just didn't click with mainstream listeners.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  After In God We Trust, the band was having a hard time trying to navigate the treacherous waters between CCM and mainstream pop/rock. Their next effort, 1990's Against the Law, had them floating more away from CCM themes and even changing their looks and logo. The LP also had an usual first single with the band covering Earth, Wind & Fire's 1975 #1 hit "Shining Star." Needless to say, none of it worked. The single failed to make the Pop chart and the album stalled at #39 Pop and #25 Christian. The results and struggles within the band led to them splitting up in '93. Lead singer Michael Sweet would start a solo career and his 1994 self-titled debut LP would do well reaching #4 on the Christian chart. Of course, Stryper would later reunite and beginning in 2005 would release a series of albums that all save one made the Christian Top 10. All of them also reached the Pop Albums chart. Sweet would continue to maintain a solo career as well with a few of his LPs reaching the Christian Top 10 along with the Pop chart.

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Saturday, December 18, 2021

"Nobody's Perfect" by Mike + the Mechanics

Song#:  3705
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  98
Peak:  63
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Soft Rock


Pop Bits:  This side project from Genesis member Mike Rutherford did well out of the gate with their 1985 self-titled debut album going gold thanks to a pair of Pop Top 10 hits including the #5 "All I Need Is a Miracle." Afterwards, Rutherford returned to Genesis for their #3 LP Invisible Hands and its associated tour. Once everything was wrapped up with Genesis, Rutherford then chose to focus on a second Mike + the Mechanics disc. Bringing back the same lineup from the first album, which included vocalists Paul Carrack and Paul Young, the group finished off their second effort Living Years. This first single was issued out and it would be a hit at Rock getting to #3. However, that success didn't translate to the mainstream with the tune unable to reach the top half of the Pop chart. The result didn't bode well for the album, but a second single would change things around in a big way.

ReduxReview:  For me, this was like two different songs smashed together. First there was the dark, prog-rock style verse. Then there was the more pop-friendly, optimistic chorus. I liked both parts and they melded together fairly well, but really I wanted a more mysterious chorus that would go along with the terrific verse. I loved the feel of that opening verse and I wanted that to continue in some way. Instead, a happier sounding chorus came in that changed the direction of the tune. It all played well on rock radio, but it didn't have the same mainstream pop appeal along the lines of their previous hit "All I Need Is a Miracle" and therefore stalled early on the Pop chart. I'm guessing the band and their label wanted to maintain their rock cred and pushed this single first over the obvious choice, the title track. Luckily, that tune was strong enough to overcome this tepid result.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For his non-Genesis work, Rutherford struck up a writing partnership with BA Robertson. Robertson would co-write four tracks for the band's debut album and five for Living Years including this first single. In the late 70s/early 80s, Robertson had a successful recording career of his own. Robertson had recorded a couple of albums earlier in the 70s that failed to gain attention, but things began to change when he signed with Asylum Records in '79. His second single for the label, "Bang Bang," took off and became a #2 hit in the UK, He followed it up with the #8 "Knocked It Off." An album titled Initial Success would follow in 1980 with another single, "To Be or Not to Be," getting to #9. The album would reach #32. Unfortunately, his success as a solo artist would prove to be short-lived with his next two albums doing far less business. His last significant hit came in 1981 with the #11 "Hold Me," a duet with Scottish rock vocalist Maggie Bell. After his days at Asylum were over, Robertson continued to write songs for other artists including Cliff Richard. In the mid-80s, he met up with Mike Rutherford and the two began to write songs for Rutherford's Mike + the Mechanics project. Rutherford and Robertson would co-write songs that would appear on the band's first six albums.

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Friday, December 17, 2021

"The Lover in Me" by Sheena Easton

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3704
Date:  11/5/1988
Debut:  99
Peak:  2
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Dance-Pop


Pop Bits:  Late in '86, Sheena Easton began a collaborative relationship with Prince that first resulted in the duet "U Got the Look," a track for Prince's Sign 'O' the Times album. Released as a single, it would be a big #2 Pop hit. Prince then provided a song for Easton's '87 LP No Sound But a Heart titled "Eternity." Around the time that Easton was finishing up the LP, her label EMI America was going through changes and the new folks in charge didn't seem all that vested in Easton's career. "Eternity" was released as a single, but without much support it failed to chart. Then after a couple of scheduled release dates came and went, the LP was essentially shelved and not released in the US (it did see release in a few other territories, but failed to chart anywhere). After the shakeup, Easton took off from EMI and moved over to MCA. The label gave Easton a fresh start and she took advantage of that by collaborating with hot songwriters/producers like L.A. Reid and Babyface. Setting aside her typical pop/AC-leaning sound for a more dance-pop/R&B flavor, Easton recorded her ninth studio album The Lover in Me. The Reid/Babyface title track would be pushed out as the first single and it got off to a slow start debuting almost at the very bottom of the Pop chart. That is usually not a good sign, but the song slowly caught on and eventually it would become Easton's second biggest single following her #1 1981 single "Morning Train (Nine to Five)." It also reached #2 Dance/#5 R&B/#43 AC. The hit was large enough to propel her album to #44 Pop/#29 R&B and it would eventually become a gold seller. It might have inched towards platinum status had the next two singles made the Pop chart, but follow-ups "Days Like This" and the Prince-penned "101" would only get to #35 R&B and #2 Dance, respectively.

ReduxReview:  Easton's career was on the fence due to label issues and she needed something current and hip to return her to the chart. She found the right song/sound with this Reid/Babyface track. The dance-pop tune placed her right smack dab in the late 80s and in the company of new hit makers like Pebbles, Paula Abdul, Jody Watley, and Karyn White, who showed up to supply backing vocals on this track. It paid off well with a big #2 hit and gold album. Her liaison with Prince boosted the R&B side of her voice as well with Easton sounding quite comfortable on the tune. The track had a bunch of hooks including the chorus, the repetitive synth line, and the "shoo-doo-wop" background vocals. It took a while to find an audience, but once it did the tune took off and deservedly made it to #2. Unfortunately, I think they chose the wrong second single and the album's progress came to a screeching halt. It was too bad because The Lover in Me was one of Easton's best albums. Regardless, enough folks showed up to make it a gold album - her last to reach that sales level.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  With No Sound But a Heart getting no release in the US and other countries, it seems that the writers/publishers who contributed songs to the LP went ahead and re-shopped their songs and made them available to other artists. If the tunes would good enough to make a Sheena Easton album, then they should be good enough for another artist. Three songs would get picked up and recorded by other artists following Easton's album. In 1989, Patti LaBelle would record a version of "Still in Love," which Easton had recorded with Steve Perry. It was for LaBelle's album Be Yourself. It was not issued as a single. Also in '89, singer/actress Pia Zadora would record "Floating Hearts" for her album Pia Z. It was not released as a single. Then in '90, Celine Dion would record the tune "The Last to Know" for her first English language album Unison. It would serve as the LP's fourth single and get to #22 on the US AC chart. Around the same time Easton was recording her LP, Country stars Crystal Gayle and Gary Morris would also record two tracks that would end up on Easton's album as well. "Wanna Give My Love" and "What If We Fall in Love" were included on their 1986 duets album What If We Fall in Love? Neither were released as singles. No Sound But a Heart would finally see released in the US in 1999.

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3703
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  60
Peak:  1 (3 weeks)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Glam Rock


Pop Bits:  Poison's second album, Open Up and Say...Ahh! was shaping up to be a bigger hit than their 1986 #3 triple-platinum debut with its first two singles making the Pop Top 20 with "Nothin' But a Good Time" reaching #6. The hits helped the LP go double-platinum, but they were not done yet. For a third single, the band selected to release this ballad. The tune went against their party-hard glam metal sound, but they were confident it was a hit. Indeed they were right with the single climbing to #1 on the Pop chart. It would stay there for three weeks and would sell enough to go gold. It would end up being the #3 song on the year-end singles list for '89. It would also get to #11 Rock. The hit would really push album sales and by January of '89 it would reach the 4 million mark.

ReduxReview:  Since I really didn't care for Poison back in the day, I didn't give this ballad much of a chance. I tried to ignore it, but that was hard to do since it got played to death on the radio. While I'm still not a fan of the band, I can now listen more objectively and I do recognized that this is arguably their best song. Michaels based it on a personal experience and that feeling certainly shows through the song. It showed a more sensitive side of the band, but the song was good enough to not take away from their ruff 'n' tumble rock sound and image. There was heart to it without being too sentimental and sappy. That was kind of a hard thing to pull off for a glam metal band but Poison was able to do it well.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Lead singer Bret Michaels came up with the lyrics to this song while out on tour with the band. It seems he called up his then girlfriend Tracy Lewis and heard another guy's voice in the background. Apparently, their relationship was already rocky and the call pretty much killed off anything they had left. Michaels finished the song with the rest of the band. They all knew they had a great song on their hands and it seems their label, Capitol, didn't disagree. However, the label balked at releasing it as a single thinking it was too pop-leaning and that it might go too much against the band's established glam metal sound, which could cause some backlash. However, Michaels and the band pestered the label enough that they finally relented and allowed it out as the third single. It became the band's signature tune and their only #1 Pop hit. Michaels would later re-record the song twice. In 2010, he would do a country-leaning version for his solo album Custom Built. The track would feature country stars Chris Cagle and Mark Wills along with 3 Doors Down lead singer Brad Arnold. Three years later, he would remake the tune once again for his next solo effort Jammin' with Friends. This time around he recorded it as a duet with country superstar Loretta Lynn.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

"Silhouette" by Kenny G

Song#:  3702
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  70
Peak:  13
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, Smooth Jazz


Pop Bits:  To many folks, Kenny Gorelick, aka Kenny G, suddenly burst on the Pop scene with his smooth jazz instrumental "Songbird," which made it to #4 on the Pop chart. However, Kenny G had already developed a jazz and R&B fan base via three albums that included a pair of R&B Top 30 singles. His fourth LP, Duotones, began to gain more fans with its second single making the R&B Top 20. But then "Songbird"was released and it turned Kenny G into an unlikely pop star. Duotones would reach #6 Pop/#8 R&B and eventually sell over five million copies. Typically when an artist from a more specialized genre gets an unexpected pop hit, it is usually one and done. Listeners glom on to one song/album and then quickly lose interest. Yet it seemed that Kenny G was determined to not go that route. He wanted his star to continue to rise and with the guidance of Arista Records head Clive Davis, Kenny G recorded his fifth effort Silhouette. Keeping an eye towards the Pop chart, Kenny G wrote and recorded this title track instrumental that would serve as the LP's first single. It was like a carrot dangling in front of those who loved "Songbird" and a good number of folks followed with the song nearly cracking the Pop Top 10. It would do even better at AC reaching #2 while also getting to #35 R&B. The album would then easily make it to #8 Pop/#10 R&B while making it to top the Contemporary Jazz chart. It would eventually sell over four million copies. Kenny G was able to maintain his mainstream popularity, but in '92 he would put out an album that would skyrocket him to superstar status.

ReduxReview:  Like many folks, I thought Kenny G was a flash in the pan. He got his one big Pop hit and that would pretty much be it. He'd then be able to go on and just be a successful contemporary jazz artist and rely on "Songbird" to pull in folks to his shows. Then this single came along and I think it's success was a surprise to people. It was to me. How could another smooth jazz sax ballad be a hit on the Pop chart? Yet there was something about Kenny G and his tooting soprano sax that appealed to a wide swath of listeners. That age group skewed older than the average pop listener, but they came along in big numbers and were ready for more from Kenny G. They showed up for this single and the album making surprising hits out of both. I'm sure it didn't hurt to have the Clive Davis publicity machine along for the ride as well. While I didn't necessarily mind this tune, it didn't really offer anything new. It was just an extension of "Songbird" and it kind of bored me. "Songbird" is one that I can always remember. This one goes in one ear and out the other, but it's a pleasant listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although Kenny G was maintaining a successful solo career, he still continued to support other artists. From '87 to '89, he would make guest appearances on tracks by Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, Kashif, Jennifer Holliday, Aretha Franklin, and Patti LaBelle. While none of those tracks would be issued out as singles, in the early 90s two songs that featured Kenny G would become hits. In '91, he would be a guest on Michael Bolton's "Missing You Now." That single would get to #12 Pop/#1 AC. Then in '92 he would perform on Babyface's "Every Time I Close My Eyes," which got to #6 Pop/#5 R&B/#17 AC. As the years went on, Kenny G would continue to be a featured artist on tracks by stars like Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Train, and even Kanye West.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

"Little Liar" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Song#:  3701
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  75
Peak:  19
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Hard Rock


Pop Bits:  With her recording career a bit on the ropes, Jett rebounded in a big way with her sixth album Up Your Alley. Jett got hooked up with songwriter/producer Desmond Child and pair collaborated on three tracks for the album, two of which would be pushed out as singles. The first was the roaring "I Hate Myself for Loving You," which became Jett's third Pop Top 10 (#8) and first since 1982. The second was this follow-up single. While it wouldn't do quite as well, it still was able to crack the Pop Top 20 while getting to #13 on the Rock chart. The hit would help boost sales of the album, which peaked at #19 and went platinum. The LP and hits reignited Jett's career, but only for a short time.

ReduxReview:  This power ballad was an excellent choice for a follow-up. Glam rock power ballads were hot at the time and Jett's song fit right in. The timing and the tune were both right and it resulted in a solid hit for her. The pairing of Jett with Desmond was inspired. The three tracks they worked on together for the album were easily the best. They were big, meaty, and just cascaded out of your speakers. Jett would collaborate again with Child for her 1991 album Notorious, but by that time grunge was taking over and hard rock artists like Jett were struggling to get anything on the radio. It's a shame they only did the three tracks for Up Your Alley. Had they done a few more songs or even a full album, it could have been and even bigger hit. Still, it did well enough to go platinum and to spawn this growling power ballad.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After Up Your Alley, Jett chose to take a bit of a detour. Her next LP, 1990's The Hit List, was an album of cover songs. It would also be the first since her 1980 debut album to be solely credited solely to Joan Jett despite her Blackhearts band performing on the tracks. The LP's first single was "Dirty Deeds," a cover of AC/DC's 1976 track "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." The tune was a middling hit reaching #23 Rock/#36 Pop. The album would reach #36, but fail to reach the gold level sales mark. Joan and her band would then issue out a couple more albums in the 90s, but neither charted. Despite the lack of chart success, Jett remained a popular touring act and would also write/produce for other artists. In 2014, Jett fronted the two remaining members of Nirvana for a performance of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The collaboration was for Nirvana's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following year, Jett and the Blackhearts would become members.  2) In 1996, Jett did an unusual cover. She recorded "Love Is All Around," a song written and performed by Sonny Curtis. Most folks know the song as the theme to the hit 70s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Curtis's first crack at the song would be used in the show's first season and had questioning lyrics that began "how will you make it on your own" and ending with "you might just make it on our own." But then starting with the second season, Curtis rewrote the lyrics putting a more confident spin on them. The tune then began with the famous line "who can turn the world on with her smile" and ended with "you're gonna make it after all." Curtis would record the song in 1970 with a different arrangement and release it as a single, but it didn't chart. In 1980, he would include a new version of the song on an album title Love Is All Around. The song had more of a country feel and it would be released as a single and get to #29. While Curtis would put a few solo songs on the charts, none would do as well as some of the other songs he wrote for other artists including Leo Sayer's "More Than I Can Say (#2, 1980), The Everly Brothers' "Walk Right Back" (#7, 1961), and Bobby Fuller's "I Fought the Law" (#9, 1966). Jett's take on "Love Is All Around" wasn't the first rock version of the tune. In 1985, punk band Hüsker Dü recorded the tune and put it on the b-side to their single "Makes No Sense At All." The band was from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, which was the setting for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. They would film a video for the track that included sites seen in the TV show's opening.

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Monday, December 13, 2021

"Rock & Roll Strategy" by 38 Special

Song#:  3700
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  80
Peak:  67
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rock


Pop Bits:  Following a 1987 compilation album titled Flashback: The Best of 38 Special, a major change took place in the band. Founding member, lead singer, and songwriting collaborator Don Barnes decided to leave the band. Citing burnout as the main factor, Barnes took off and was replaced by Max Carl. Another original member, drummer Steve Brookins also departed. With the shift in personnel done, the band went into the studio with producer Rodney Mills to record their eighth studio album Rock & Roll Strategy. In addition to the personnel changes, the band also chose to update their name from 38 Special to the spelled-out Thirty Eight Special (it would be their one and only album under that moniker). The title track would be issued out as the lead single and it would do well at Rock reaching #5. However, the tune couldn't get a leg up with pop listeners and it stalled in the bottom third of the Pop chart. It wasn't a great way to kick of the LP, but a second single would help turn things around.

ReduxReview:  The days of the band's guitar-driven Southern-style rock sound had been waning over the past few years, but Rock & Roll Strategy pretty much brought it to a halt. Synths and slick production along with bland pop/rock tunes nearly buried the memories of hits like "Caught Up in You." This lead single wanted to try and recapture the feel of the old days, but it didn't get close. It was unmemorable and a bit faceless. Thirty Eight Special sounded like a band struggling to find their way in the late 80s and they nearly limped away bruised and battered, but they would have one more sunset hit to go out on with their next single.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  When Barnes decided to leave 38 Special due to burnout, the band's label, A&M, wasn't quite ready to let him go. They thought Barnes had the ability to be a solo artist and offered him a deal to stay with the label and work on an album of his own. Barnes could select who he wanted to work with and (reasonably) take his time without the hassle and pressure of being in a band or having to be on tour. Barnes took the label up on their offer and began to work on a solo debut titled Ride the Storm. For the majority of the album, Barnes worked with Mike and Jeff Porcaro of Toto along with songwriter/producer Martin Briley. The LP was finished in '89 and handed in to the label. Unfortunately, around the same time A&M Records was purchased by Polygram and along with that major change came the review of artists and product on A&M. In the upheaval, Barnes' album was shelved and it seems that Barnes was also left off the new label's roster. Barnes would eventually return to 38 Special in 1992 and has remained with them since. As of this posting he is actually the only original member left in the band. Barnes' solo album would finally see the light of day in 2017.

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Sunday, December 12, 2021

"Handle with Care" by The Traveling Wilburys

Song#:  3699
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  83
Peak:  45
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Folk-Rock


Pop Bits:  This supergroup was made up of five legendary musicians; George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison. Although the formation of the band came about from a spontaneous moment, the roots of it came about when Lynne was producing Harrison's '87 #8 platinum album Cloud Nine and Harrison suggested that he and Lynne start a band and both making suggestions of who they would include. After Cloud Nine was finished, Harrison's label asked for another new song that they could use as the b-side to the planned single "This Is Love." While dining with Lynne and Orbison (Lynne was producing a few tracks Orbison's '89 LP Mystery Girl), Harrison asked if Lynne would help with recording a tune. Lynne said he could the next day if they could find a studio and Orbison added that he wanted to go along to watch. Dylan's home studio was available, so the trio went over and hooked up with Dylan. Lynne had also been working with Tom Petty at the time, so Petty came by as well. It didn't take long for all five stars to start collaborating on a song that Harrison had already sketched out. The resulting song "Handle with Care" was finished and handed over to Harrison's label. After hearing the tune, the label heads thought it was way too good to be relegated to the back of a single and wanted to do something else with it. They pitched the idea of doing a full album to Harrison who bit and went off to see if the other four would be interested. In the spring of '88, the quintet assembled and collaborated on a project that would be titled The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1. When completed, the song that brought them together, "Handle with Care," was selected as the first single. It would do well at Rock reaching #2. The tune would cross over to Pop, but it stalled short of the Top 40. Still, the collaboration of the five music stars was irresistible to many and the album would become an immediate hit reaching #3. It would also go on to with the Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

ReduxReview:  This is one of those songs that I thought for sure was at minimum at Top 20 hit. I just remember the tune being a lot bigger than a minor #45 entry. Maybe I thought that because I heard it a lot on rock radio at the time. When the song first came out, I liked it but didn't really give it a lot of attention. Its retro folk-rock sound wasn't in my wheelhouse then so I kind of listened in an appreciative way and moved on. These days I love the tune along with the album. The five superstars really did collaborate and make something special. You can hear the guys having a ball and not taking anything too seriously. Although Lynne's production gives it a high sheen polish, it all still feels organic with the guys writing and playing as if they were from a different era. Of course "Handle with Care" is a standout with my favorite part being when Orbison comes in. It peaked at #45, but it really should have been a Top 10'er.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  When trying to come up with a name for the band, Harrison and Lynne decided to adopt a term they had been using in the studio. Referring to problems from some studio equipment, they began to say "we'll bury 'em in the mix." Using the phrase often, they just decided to call the issues "wilburys." From there, Harrison came up with The Trembling Wilburys, but the Lynne adjusted it to The Traveling Wilburys. Following that family-styled name, the band then went on to create a sort of fake story/persona in which the Wilburys were half-brothers. Each person then got a name such as George Harrison becoming Nelson Wilbury. Basically, the superstars hit behind the names, even though it was obvious who they were, with the credits in the album under their new pseudonyms. All being fans of Monty Python, they even got Michael Palin to write a fictional story about the Wilbury brothers.

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Saturday, December 11, 2021

"Thanks for My Child" by Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley

Song#:  3698
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  86
Peak:  32
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B


Pop Bits:  Brooklyn-born Cheryl Riley had music instilled in her from an early age with both of her parents members of successful gospel groups. She had her sights set on a music career, but her parents pushed her to get an education and Riley would graduate from Clara Barton High School with a nursing degree. While working as a nurse for handicapped children, Riley chose to also pursue a music career and ended up fronting a local band called Stargaze. In 1982, Stargaze recorded and released the indie single "You Can't Have It," which Riley co-wrote. While the song got some local attention, it didn't do much to further the band's career and so for the next few years Riley continued with Stargaze while picking up other music work along the way. Another Brooklyn-based group, Full Force, had started to make waves and were familiar with Riley. They had written a song they thought was perfect for Riley and offered it to her. Feeling a sense of loyalty to her band, Riley turned the offer down. Full Force then got the song recorded with a new singer named Lisa Lisa and "I Wonder If I Take You Home" became a gold-selling hit. Riley thought she had completely messed up and missed her opportunity. However, after Stargaze broke up, Full Force lured Riley into their fold and offered her a deal to work with them. This time she didn't hesitate and signed on. Full Force got her signed to Columbia and work began on a debut album titled Me Myself and I. Full Force would write and produce all the tracks including this first single. The ballad was an unusual choice for a debut/lead single, but it ended up being the right choice with the song hitting #1 at R&B. It then crossed over to the Pop chart where it was able to make the Top 40. The hit sent the album to #9 R&B/#128 Pop. It would end up being Riley's only R&B Top 10 and her only Pop chart entry. A second single would get to #18 at R&B. Although Riley would record one more album for Columbia and one for Reprise, neither replicated the success of her debut and after issues with both labels and family responsibilities mounting, Riley stepped away from her solo career and began working as a supporting singer for other artists like Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliot.

ReduxReview:  This song about a single mother raising her child after the father took off really struck a chord with many folks. What was beautiful about it was that the song celebrated the mom's love of her child and being thankful for the blessing. It only mentions in passing the father's abandonment. The tune could have easily been about the father leaving and the hardships that can follow when being single and raising a child, but instead Full Force focused on the simple joy of being a parent and loving your child regardless of circumstances. It basically said - so what dad left - it's you and me kid and I'm so happy we are here together! It was a lovely sentiment and it was expertly delivered by Riley. She has an amazing and powerful voice and it could have easily overrun this sweet tale, but she kept things in check and gave a lovely, emotional performance. Riley should have been a much bigger star, but label and music biz issues hampered her progress. Regardless, she will always be remembered for this ode to parenthood.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) So where did the "Pepsii" moniker come from? It seems that after Riley signed on with Full Force, they said she needed a new name since she had become a part of their family. At the time there just happened to be a can of Pepsi cola sitting on the console of the recording studio. Noting the can of cola and thinking about Riley's bubbly personality, Full Force member Bowlegged Lou tossed out the name of the cola as a possibility, but adding an extra "i" on the end. It seemed to suit everyone and Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley was born.  2) Following her recording career and her work with other artists, Riley got an opportunity to do stage work and was featured in several productions. It was then that a young playwright by the name of Tyler Perry spotted Riley and brought her on to star in one of his stage productions. The pairing worked out well and Riley would go on to star in nine of Perry's stage shows. When Perry's works made the transition to film, Riley would get the opportunity to make appearances in a few of them.

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Friday, December 10, 2021

"Best of Times" by Peter Cetera

Song#:  3697
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  88
Peak:  59
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop


Pop Bits:  Cetera's third solo album One More Story got kicked off in a good way with its first single, "One Good Woman," reaching #4 Pop/#1 AC. Despite the hit, sales of the LP were slow from the start and Cetera needed another solid single to help it along. This next track was selected, but unfortunately it couldn't do the job. It stalled at #22 AC while not even cracking the top half of the Pop chart. With those results, the LP stopped at #58 and failed to go gold. It was a disappointment coming on the heels of his second solo album Solitude/Solitaire, which had gone platinum. No other singles from the album would reach the Pop/AC charts, however the track "You Never Listen to Me" would make an appearance on the Rock chart at #32.

ReduxReview:  I really liked the opening of this track as it set a cool, dark, energetic mood, but then as soon as the verse hit, the tone changed and the song totally lost momentum. The chorus tried to rally the tune back, but by then it was too late. It wasn't all that memorable either. As an album-opening track it wasn't too bad. As a single, it wasn't going to get anywhere and there was little else on the album that was going to do any better. Cetera just wasn't coming up with the hits needed to keep him high on the charts.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Included on the One More Story album was the track "Save Me." It featured backing vocals by Richard Sterban, the bass vocalist from the Oak Ridge Boys, along with Bonnie Raitt on guitar and backing vocals. The song was selected to be the theme song to the NBC action drama Baywatch, which starred David Hasselhoff. The show premiered in '89 and lasted for one season on NBC. "Save Me" would be the theme for that initial season. Due to high production costs, low ratings, and other issues, NBC axed the show after one season. However, Hasselhoff believed the show still had potential and he helped to get it revived as a first-run syndicated series in '91. Baywatch became a hit not only in the US, but all over the world and would run for nine more seasons with the show relocating to Hawaii in its last two seasons. When the show went to syndication, Cetera's song was dropped as the theme song and replaced by a new song from Survivor's Jimi Jamison that he co-wrote title "I'm Always Here."

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Thursday, December 9, 2021

"Forever Young" by Alphaville

Song#:  3696
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  91
Peak:  65
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Synthpop


Pop Bits:  This German trio's first US single, 1984's "Big in Japan," would be a #1 Dance hit, but it could only manage to reach #66 at Pop. Their next charting single would be the title track to their debut album Forever Young. Upon initial release it didn't get very far peaking at a very minor #93 at Pop and #32 Dance. Their second album, 1986's Afternoons in Utopia, would feature three tracks that reached the Dance chart, but none were able to make the Pop chart. Still looking for a US breakthrough, their label, Atlantic, decided to toss a compilation album together of songs that made the US dance chart in hopes of generating more interest in the trio. The LP consisted of four songs with each one presented in two different remixes or versions. One of the songs selected for the project, titled Alphaville: The Singles Collection, was "Forever Young." Both the special extended remix would be on the LP along with the original album version. To help promote the package, "Forever Young" was reissued out as a single. It was able to get back on the Pop chart and on its second run the tune hung on the chart for a good length of time, but it still couldn't break through in a bigger way. The Collection LP was then unable to chart. It would be the trio's last single to make a US chart.

ReduxReview:  There's not much I can add to what I originally posted when it first hit the chart. Although it never became a big hit in the US, it certainly has had a long shelf life. It has been remade by several artists including Laura Branigan and more recently in a live version by Grammy winner Brandi Carlile. It was even the basis of the Jay-Z rap track "Young Forever," which was from his 2009 LP The Blueprint 3. It would be released as a single and get to #10 Pop/#86 R&B/#16 Rap. Alphaville's original track would be featured in a few movies as well like 2004's Napoleon Dynamite. It should have been a much bigger hit back in the day, but at least it certainly wasn't forgotten.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While the band's fortunes dipped heavily with their third LP, 1989's The Breathtaking Blue, they continued to perform over the years and drop the occasional album. They had a bit of a comeback in their homeland of Germany in 2010 when they issued out the LP Catching Rays on Giant. It would end up getting to #9 thanks to a pair of charting singles including the #15 "I Die for You Today." By that point, the only original member left in the band was lead singer Marian Gold.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

"Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

Song#:  3695
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  93
Peak:  57
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rap


Pop Bits:  This duo broke through to the mainstream with their second album He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper. It would be a #4 triple-platinum seller thanks to a pair of Pop Top 20 hits; the Grammy winning "Parents Just Don't Understand" (#10 R&B) and "A Nightmare on My Street" (#9 R&B). A follow-up single was in order, but instead of releasing another track from the album, the duo went back into the studio and re-recorded "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble," a song from their indie-based debut '87 debut album Rock the House. The song had been released as the duo's first single back in '86 and at that time it reached #81 on the R&B chart. The new version of the tune was pushed out as a stand-alone single. It would get on the Pop chart, but would stop short of the halfway mark. It would not return to the R&B chart. The pair would then move forward to record their third LP, which would be released later in '89.

ReduxReview:  Ugh. This is just not my thing. It's just so goofy that it borders on novelty. In fact, the Billboard book of singles actually tags this as a novelty song. I don't think the duo's intent was to make a novelty tune, especially since it originally served as their debut single, so I'm not listing it as such. Either way, it doesn't work for me. Coming along at a time when rap was really undergoing a transformation, it made the duo sound as if they were a comedy act rather than legit rap musicians. It wasn't like they had to record serious political or cultural hardcore rap tracks, but I don't think they needed to be so corny either. Maybe that's what they wanted though; a rap alternative that would appeal to kids and be parent approved. In that scenario, then this probably worked fine. It just didn't do anything for me at all.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  This song was created around a sample from the theme song to the 60s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. The show, which starred Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman, began in 1965 and ran for five seasons. In its first season, a theme song composed by Richard Wess was used. For the second season when the show was updated to color from black and white, a new theme, titled "Jeannie," was written by Hugo Montenegro. It was highly memorable and quickly gained in popularity. Lyrics were added by Buddy Kaye and in 1966 Montenegro would record the tune with his orchestra and chorus. It was released as a single, but did not chart. However, Montenegro would have a big hit two years later when his version of the theme song to the Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (composed by Ennio Morricone) would reach #2 Pop/#1 AC.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

"Wild World" by Maxi Priest

Song#:  3694
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  95
Peak:  25
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Reggae, R&B


Pop Bits:  Max Elliott was born in England after his parents made the move there from Jamaica. He was exposed to many of the great Jamaican artists along with current pop/R&B hitmakers. Elliott began singing in church and as a teen performed with Saxon Studio International, a reggae sound system that performed around London (a "sound system" is rooted in Jamaican culture and is a group of DJs/MCs that typically play reggae and ska music for street parties/events). As he developed his musical skills, Elliott thought that perhaps he'd give it a go as a solo artist. He got the attention of the Virgin Records offshoot label 10 Records and signed up with them. By that time he had changed his name to Maxi Priest and in 1985 he would release his first solo effort, You're Safe. Nothing much came of it, but his next effort, '86's Intentions, did better. With the LP, Priest started to do a fusion of reggae and R&B and it resulted in four lower-charting singles in the UK. The attention gained from the singles helped to set up Priest for what would be his breakthrough third album Maxi. Released in the UK in '87, its first single, "Some Guys Have All the Luck," which had been a #10 hit for Rod Stewart in '84, reached #15. A second single didn't do as well, but then this third single would help his star rise. It would get to #5 in the UK and in-turn would then prompt a release of the single and the album (under the title Maxi Priest) in the US. The track would end up doing well hitting #10 at AC and making the Pop Top 30. The album would then get to #108.

ReduxReview:  If you were a reggae-based artist and wanted to break through in the US in the 80s/90s, it seems doing a cover tune was the way to go. UB40 had success doing that and the formula would also benefit Maxi Priest. Reggae was not a genre that a mainstream US audience gravitated to, but if someone covered an old hit in a reggae style, then that was somehow more palatable. I wasn't necessarily a fan of these remakes and tended to ignore them, but this one by Maxi Priest wasn't too bad. The song was a good fit for the reggae rhythms and it was delivered in a pleasant, unadorned way by Priest. It definitely wasn't amazing and inspired, but it was listenable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam). It was a track on Stevens' 1970 breakthrough fourth album Tea for the Tillerman. Released as a single in '71, "Wild World" would be Stevens' first single to chart in the US. It got to #11, which then helped the LP get to #2. Eventually, it would sell over three million copies. Many artists would cover the song, but only two others besides Maxi Priest would reach the Pop chart with the song. Garage rock band The Gentrys would cover the tune and release it as a single in '71. It would only get to #97. Later in '93, the rock band Mr. Big would take their version to #27 Pop/#33 Rock.  2) Maxi Priests' fourth LP, 1990's Bonafide, would be his most successful release. Its first single, "Close to You," would be a gold seller that reached #1 Pop/#2 R&B/#12 Dance/#15 AC. The hit would helped the album get to #47 and go gold. Priest would hit the Pop Top 10 one more time. In '91, Roberta Flack would record "Set the Night to Music," a Diane Warren-penned song that was originally recorded by Starship in '87 (#9 AC). The track would be turned into a duet and Priest brought on board to sing with Flack. The single would become a hit getting to #6 Pop/#2 AC/#45 R&B. Priest's last significant hit in the US was the 1996 "That Girl," which featured reggae artist Shaggy. It got to #20 Pop/#34 R&B.

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Monday, December 6, 2021

"Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3693
Date:  10/22/1988
Debut:  58
Peak:  7
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal


Pop Bits:  Guns N' Roses broke through in a huge way with the #1 gold-selling hit "Sweet Child O' Mine." It was the second single from their debut album Appetite for Destruction. For a follow-up, the band's label chose to reissue the album opener "Welcome to the Jungle." That track was originally the first single from the LP, but it only got to #37 at Rock while failing to make the Pop chart. Since it didn't seem to get a fair shake the first time around, the song was pushed out again after the success of "Sweet Child O' Mine." The second time around it would fare far better and make the Pop Top 10. Meanwhile, the album was selling like hotcakes and by the end of '89 it would already be at the 6 million mark.

ReduxReview:  This swaggering track is perhaps one of the most aggressive and brutal Top 10 hits of the era. Save for the brilliant breakdown that provided a bit of a respite from all the menace, the tune was unrelenting. It not only grabbed you, it shook the shit out of you. Then following Axl Rose declaring "you're in the jungle, baby - and you're gonna die!," a key change pushes the song into maximum overdrive. It's exhausting and thrilling. It is also one of the best metal songs of all time.

ReduxRating10/10

Trivia:  Just after the release of "Sweet Child O' Mine," Guns N' Roses would make an uncredited cameo appearance in a film. Both the band and "Welcome to the Jungle" would be featured in the fifth and final installment of the Dirty Harry franchise The Dead Pool. The movie had Clint Eastwood returning as Detective Harry Callahan. This time around he and his partner investigate the murder of rock singer Johnny Squares (played by a pre-fame Jim Carrey). Guns N' Roses appear in a couple of scenes. Once performing "Welcome to the Jungle" at Squares' funeral and then again in a dream sequence. Not long after the film was released in July of '88, "Sweet Child O' Mine" would become a huge #1 hit. The movie would received mixed reviews and its box office take wouldn't meet expectations. Still, it would generate another memorable quote from the series, which had spawned such pop culture references as "make my day" and "You've gotta ask yourself a question - do I feel lucky? Well do ya punk?" The memorable quote from The Dead Pool was a bit cruder than previous ones with Dirty Harry saying "Opinions are like assholes - everybody has one."

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