Wednesday, April 28, 2021

"Hands to Heaven" by Breathe

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3477
Date:  04/16/1988
Debut:  90
Peak:  2
Weeks:  29
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  In 1982, five British teenagers formed a band they called Catch 22. They spent a couple of years honing their skills and trying to figure out their sound. By 1984 they were reduced to a quartet and they settled on a pop style that was tinted with shades of jazz and soul. With their new name, Breathe, they secured a deal with the Virgin Records offshoot Siren and the following year released their first single, "Don't Tell Me Why." It scraped the UK chart at #77. A second single failed to chart, but it seems the label had faith in the band and sent them off with a different producer to finish off a debut album that would be titled All That Jazz. Two singles from the LP were released n '87, but neither charted. In the US, the band already had a deal in place for distribution with A&M Records and the track "Jonah," which failed in the UK, was released as the first single. It got nowhere. Finally, in the fall of '87, "Hands to Heaven" was given a shot as a single in the UK. It clicked and made it to #4. The song was then released in the US in January of '88. It took off first at AC before crossing over to the Pop chart. The song would take its time climbing each chart, but it would eventually peak at #2 on both. On the Pop chart, the song would linger for a lengthy 29 weeks, which helped it finish as the ninth biggest Pop chart song of the year (and the only one in the year-end Top 15 to have not peaked at #1). It took nearly two years, but the band finally secured their first Top 10 hit.

ReduxReview:  This was just a gorgeous pop ballad with a memorable chorus and lovely, soaring vocals from lead singer Davis Glasper. The song had mass appeal and it was easily the best track on the album. Why the record company didn't see that from day one is a mystery. I certainly wasn't a music business pro, but even I could have told you that this song had #1 potential. It's odd that I haven't heard this song in ages. I think the band has been somewhat forgotten. They had three Top 10s in a row, yet I never hear the tunes anywhere and in all the compilations I have, they are not included. It's a shame as their hits were quite good.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The band's label seemed adamant in trying to break them on radio in the conventional music business way. Industry standards usually dictated that the first single from a new artist, or even a new album, was something upbeat and catchy. A tune that would grab attention from the get-go. While not unheard of, it was slightly unusual for a label to push out a ballad as a debut or lead single. Siren decided to follow the unwritten rule and tried to break Breathe with the uptempo "Don't Tell Me Why." It didn't really work. They tried another one. Nope. As the band's debut LP took shape, the label thought "Hands to Heaven" would be a good single, but for whatever reason they didn't think the band could break through with a ballad and released another upbeat tune, "Jonah," instead. It flopped in both the UK and the US. After four failed singles in the UK, the label finally gave "Hands to Heaven" a try. It would go on to become a major hit. Sticking with convention doesn't always work and in the case of Breathe it could have been a career killer as many labels would have given up after a couple of non-charting singles.. Luckily, Siren (and A&M in the US) didn't give up and they finally got the right single out.


1 comment:

  1. 8/10 for me as well, oddly when I was little I used to think they were singing "Tonight I'll just eat grass instead of tonight I need a sweet caress" LOL

    Overall a very good song but I slightly prefer How Can I Fall and Don't Tell Me Lies more, shame they are kind of forgotten and you never hear their music on the radio anymore, I also enjoyed their final Top 40 hit "Say A Prayer".