Saturday, March 13, 2021

"Don't Make a Fool of Yourself" by Stacey Q

Song#:  3431
Date:  02/27/1988
Debut:  85
Peak:  66
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Stacey Q's debut album, Better Than Heaven, performed well (#59) thanks to the #3 synthpop hit "Two of Hearts." A second single, "We Connect," was able to crack the Top 40 (#35). With those results, her label, Atlantic Records, ordered a follow-up LP. Stacey Q and her co-writer/producer Jon St. James headed back into the studio and emerged with Hard Machine. For the album, the pair chose to expand on the percolating synthpop from Stacey Q's debut and incorporate other styles, as evidenced by this R&B-influenced this first single. While the original version appeared on the album, for single release the song was given the remix treatment by Shep Pettibone, which added Madonna-ish style elements that jazzed it up for pop radio. The track would do well in the clubs and get to #4 on the Dance chart. Unfortunately, the change didn't connect with pop fans and the song stalled in the lower half of the Pop chart. A second single, "I Love You" which was more inline with Stacey Q's earlier sound could only manage a #45 showing at Dance while not even hitting the Pop chart. The album would then only reach a minor #115. Despite the results, Atlantic gave Stacey Q the opportunity to do a third album and in 1989 she released Nights Like This. She shifted gears once again and pushed the album in a more house/freestyle direction. It's first single, "Give You All My Love," could only get to #16 Dance. A second single flopped and the album failed to chart. That result brought an end to her major label days. After a break from music, she returned in 1997 with Boomerang and then in 2010 with Color Me Cinnamon.

ReduxReview:  This was a good track, but anyone who was looking for the robotic synthpop of Stacey Q's first album wasn't gonna find it here and that was both good and bad. It was good because it showed Stacey Q was trying to keep relevant and the freestyle-ish sound of the remix fit in with what was happening on the Pop chart at the time. However, it was a bit bad because it was something completely different from her previous two hits and I think fans were looking for an updated version of her original quirky sound. She also dyed her hair red and took on a more glamorous look. I think the changes were just too much and it threw people off. However, the song was a dancefloor hit and it deserved to be. While the original album version is good, Pettibone's remix amped it up and made the track sound much better and more in-step with the times. It was one of the rare cases where a remix surpassed the original. While Jon St. James was a good producer, I think it would have been beneficial for him to turned the reins over to someone else for the second album. At least on a few of the tracks. It might have helped out Stacy Q and the album.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  During the run of her first album, Stacey Q famously made a couple of appearances as the singer "Cinnamon" on the hit NBC sitcom The Facts of Life. Those appearances really stuck with folks who would often still identify her by that character. She played homage to the role with her 2010 album Color Me Cinnamon, which featured the original track "Cinnamon Girl." During the run of her second album, Stacey Q made another TV appearance. This time it was in the ABC sitcom Full House. In the episode, she played herself instead of a character. She also had a role in the b-grade cop/action movie titled One Man Force, which starred pro football player John Matuszak and Ronny Cox. Two songs from Stacey Q's album Hard Machine were featured in the cult film. Weirdly, Matuszak's first film appearance came in the 1981 comedy Caveman, while Stacey Q's film debut was in the 1985 sex comedy Cavegirl.


Friday, March 12, 2021

"Two Occasions" by The Deele

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3430
Date:  02/27/1988
Debut:  86
Peak:  10
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This group's 1983 debut album Street Beat performed well thanks to the #3 R&B hit "Body Talk" (#77 Pop). It set them up well for their next album, 1985's Material Thangz, but it was less successful with only the title track able to do anything (#14 R&B). Still, it was enough to call for a third album and the band recorded Eyes of a Stranger. Its first single, "Can U-Dance," nearly dealt a crippling blow to the LP by stalling at a minor #48 on the R&B chart. Luckily, this second single was strong enough to overcome that result with the song getting to #4 at R&B. It then crossed over to the Pop chart and became the band's first and only Top 10 hit. The tune also got to #21 AC. Overall, it would end up being The Deele's biggest hit and would help their album get to #5 R&B/#54 Pop. In June of '88 it would be certified gold. A follow-up single, "Shoot 'Em Up Movies," would be their third and final R&B Top 10 (#10), however, it would fail to make the Pop chart. Following the success of the album, two members of the band would leave (see below) and that would bring an end to The Deele. A different lineup of the band would attempt a comeback in 1993, but their lone album, An Invitation to Love, wouldn't generate any hits and would fail to chart.

ReduxReview:  The band changed things up with this single and it paid off. Prior to this, all of their singles were upbeat affairs. A couple did well, most did not. So after "Can U-Dance" (which had a section that sounded like Prince's "Kiss") failed, they tried out this ballad. It made all the difference in the world. It was a good, memorable composition with solid production from Reid and Babyface. The more retro-soul follow-up "Shoot 'Em Up Movies" was a good track as well, but is wasn't as good of a fit at pop radio as "Two Occasions." The two hits could have set the band off in a different direction that might have made them even more popular, but then Reid and Babyface decided to do their own thing (see below). With the band essentially done, it left this song as their only significant hit on the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After the release of the band's second album, two of its members, Kenny "Babyface" Edmunds and Antonio "L.A." Reid, began to branch out and work with other artists. One of their first ventures was writing and producing a couple of tracks for The Whispers' 1987 album Just Gets Better with Time. One of those track, "Rock Steady," became a major hit (#1 R&B/#7 Pop). They then worked on the debut album of Reid's girlfriend, Pebbles, which resulted in the hit "Girlfriend" (#1 R&B/#5 Pop). The pair also produced and co-wrote the majority of Babyface's debut album, 1986's Lover, which spawned the #8 R&B hit "I Love You Babe." With these successes under their belts, the pair decided it was time that they formed their own label, LaFace Records, which would be in association with Arista Records. Due to their new venture, the pair decided to depart from The Deele. They would be highly successful throughout the '90 introducing top acts like TLC, Toni Braxton, P!nk, and Outkast. By 2001, the label would be dissolved due to Babyface focusing on his own music career and Reid being appointed CEO of Arista following the departure of Clive Davis.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

"Savin' Myself" by Eria Fachin

Song#:  3429
Date:  02/27/1988
Debut:  87
Peak:  50
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This singer from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, started performing in her teens. Her experience ran the gamut from being in bands to performing in musicals to jingle singing. She later took time to hone in on a solo career and in 1986 she signed on with Power Records in Canada and released the dance track "Savin' Myself." The song saw some club action in the area that spread across the border into the US. It got the attention of the Maine-based indie label Critique, who signed Fachin for US distribution. Released early in '88, the song got some traction in clubs and on pop radio. It would eventually get to #33 Dance while hitting the halfway mark at Pop. That action helped push the song in Canada and it would reach #22 there. An album was then quickly recorded titled My Name Is Eria Fachin. Unfortunately, by the time her follow-up single, "Your Love Just Came Too Late," came out, some momentum was lost and the song failed to chart. The same with a third single, a remake of the Supremes' 1965 #1 hit "I Hear a Symphony." With those results, the album came and went to little notice. Later on it seems that Fachin had a minor single entry on the Canadian AC chart in 1991 with "Hug You Hold You," but a second album had yet to be released. A few years later, she finally began work on a new album, but was then diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, she succumbed to cancer in 1996 at the young age of 36.

ReduxReview:  I remember Fachin's name because it was unusual, but I never got to hear any of her tracks. I went ahead and listened to her whole album and I have to say that this single really didn't do her justice. From what I've read, she had previously been a vocalist with a jazz band and that experience came through on a couple of the album's tracks on which she sounded quite good. However, this single is just a lite trifle of a pop ditty and is below her skill level. To me, it sounded like she was holding back. Probably for two reasons. One, because the material itself is weak, and two, the production is slight and nearly fragile. It had that percolating early 80s, indie synthpop sound that by this point in time sounded a bit amateurish. Fachin tried to inject some of herself near the end, but it didn't do much to save the track. Fachin had plenty of ability. I just think that she didn't get hooked up with the right label/producer that could show off her capabilities. Unfortunately, she never got the chance to advance her career.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although she did not write this song (it was composed by David Lodge), Fachin and her husband Lou Bartolomucci did co-write four songs for her debut LP. Fachin would also co-write the second single "Your Love Just Came Too Late." It has been reported that sometime before her death Fachin recorded a title song for the Kiefer Sutherland 1999 drama Woman Wanted, however that seems a bit unlikely. The film was made in Canada in 1998, two years after Fachin's death, and a song by Fachin does not seem to be in the film and is not credited at the end. The film, directed by Sutherland and co-starring Holly Hunter, was a box office bomb. It was also one that Sutherland decided to distance himself from. After its initial release, Sutherland opted to remove his name as director. In these cases, the fallback name used by the Directors Guild of America defaults to Alan Smithee. The Guild apparently decided to stop using the default name in 2000, which made Woman Wanted the last film to officially receive an Alan Smithee credit from the Guild.  2) A couple of years after her debut album, Fachin and Bartolomucci would welcome their only child, Emma. When Fachin lost her battle with cancer, Emma was only six years old. Emma would go on to be a dancer in the Toronto area and form her own dance company that was titled in honor of her mother, Dance Fachin.


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

"Wait" by White Lion

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3428
Date:  02/27/1988
Debut:  88
Peak:  8
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  This band certainly had its share of ups and downs trying to get established. Formed in 1983 by Danish singer/songwriter Mike Tramp and Staten Island-born guitarist Vito Bratta, the first lineup of White Lion got signed to Elektra Records in '84 and then recorded a debut album titled Fight to Survive. Unfortunately, it seems that Elektra didn't like the LP and proceeded to shelve it and dump the band. Luckily, the band's manager was somehow able to finagle a deal to get the album released on the Victor label in Japan, where it got some attention. Some areas in Europe then got wind of the album and it even made the UK chart at #72. Then the Philly-based label Grand Slamm secured the rights to release the album in the US. Besides the band performing shows, there was little to promote the LP, but it still cracked the Album chart at #151. Yet just when things looked promising, Grand Slamm went out of business and the band was left on their own again. The band would go through some lineup changes, record more demos, and continue to perform shows for a couple of years before getting an opportunity to sign with Atlantic Records. They would then be able to record their second album, Pride. It would be released, along with this first single, in June of '87 to...crickets. Nothing. The LP languished while the band did their best to promote it doing shows with bands like Aerosmith and Kiss. Pride would then make the Album chart in September of '87 and spend the next few months slowly moving up. Then finally, over six months after it was first released, MTV was goaded into playing the video for "Wait." It wasn't long before the song started to catch on. The single would make the Pop chart and eventually crash the Top 10 while getting to #18 at Rock. The album would continue to climb and crack the Top 20. By the time April rolled around, it would turn gold.

ReduxReview:  With its dramatic opening and hooky chorus, I'm shocked that the record company didn't push the hell out of this when first released. It sounded like a classic rock song from the 70s in the Sweet vein updated for the glam 80s. I loved it right off the bat and immediately got the album. When it comes down to it, you can't keep a good song down and luckily this one found its way through the muck and emerged as a winner.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Prior to signing on with Atlantic Records, the band got hired to appear in a film. For the 1986 Tom Hanks comedy The Money Pit, the band performed their song "Web of Desire" in the background during a scene. However, for some reason it was decided that the band should be fronted by a woman and Robey (aka Louise Robey) was hired for the part. Robey had her own minor hit back in '84 with a dance version of "One Night in Bangkok" (#77 Pop/#9 Dance). It seems there might have been plans for an official soundtrack album to be released, but it was not. Perhaps because a song from the movie pushed out as a single, Stephen Bishop's "The Heart Is So Willing," only got to #31 AC and failed to make the Pop chart. The film itself was a modest hit although reviews were very mixed.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

"Winter Games" by David Foster

Song#:  3427
Date:  02/27/1988
Debut:  89
Peak:  85
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Classical Crossover, Instrumental

Pop Bits:  This busy, hitmaking songwriter/producer occasionally took time to do his own projects, which included a self-titled 1986 album that spawned the #6 AC hit "The Best of Me" (#80 Pop) which was sung by Olivia Newton-John. A year or so later, Foster, who was from Canada, was asked to provide a theme song for the 1988 Winter Olympics that were to be held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The song would not only be used during broadcasts, but Foster would also perform it during the opening ceremonies. Foster then came up with the rousing anthem "Winter Games." In addition to the instrumental version, lyrics were also put to the song specifically for the opening ceremonies (held on February 13, 1988) with that portion titled "Can't You Feel It." Foster's theme proved to be popular enough for it to be released as a single. In Canada, the song would do well and reach #21. In the US, the track would get to #28 AC, but it couldn't make any headway on the Pop chart were it had a short three-week stay. The success of the composition then pushed Foster to record a third solo album. Instead of being a pop-oriented effort, Foster decided to write orchestral pieces in the vein of "Winter Games." Titled The Symphony Sessions, Foster would record the album live at the Orpheum Theater in Vancouver with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra over several dates in late June '88. Foster would also ask a few of his famous musician friends to join including guitarist Lee Ritenour and pianist David Paich. The LP would be released later in the summer and in the US it would reach #111. A TV special would also be filmed and released on video. Foster's work would earn him two Grammy nods, one for Best Instrumental Composition (for "Winter Games") and one for Best Performance Music Video. This would be Foster's last single to reach the US charts. He would go on to record more solo albums and continue to write/produce hits for other artists. These days he seems to be more famous for being the husband of American Idol 5th season runner-up Katharine McPhee.

ReduxReview:  Okay, I admit it. I'm a figure skating fan. I pretty much have been since I saw Dorothy Hamill in the mid-70s, but I really got into it later in the 80s, especially with the Battle of the Brians (Orser vs. Boitano) at the '88 Olympics. Of course Foster's theme was all over the place at the time due to the Olympics and that association led to it being the theme song for professional figure skating shows and tours for many years. In' 89, Boitano had turned pro and competed in the World Professional Championships. His technical program was stunning and set to a piece of music that was just so beautiful. It ended up being a track from Foster's The Symphony Sessions titled "Just Out of Reach." Because of that, I ended up buying the CD. It was actually quite a nice album that also featured "Winter Games." That theme was certainly memorable and perfect for the Olympics. Foster hit the mark when he composed it. However, it didn't really work as a single. It just wasn't geared to be a pop song. It was meant to be an introductory theme like an overture so it lacked the consistent hooks needed to reel in pop radio listeners. Still, it was a wonderful piece of music that continues to get used.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  All of the tracks on The Symphony Sessions are instrumentals save for one. The composition "Firedance" featured a small vocal section. For that job, Foster brought in Danny Peck, a singer/songwriter/guitarist that Foster had worked with for years. The pair had crossed paths as early as 1977 when Peck got a solo deal with Arista Records. He recorded a debut album, Heart and Soul, that was produced by Foster. The LP didn't get anywhere and Peck lost his record deal. However, the two seemed to keep in touch and in 1987, Foster, who was writing the music for the film The Secret of My Success, brought Peck in to supply vocals for the song "I Burn for You." It was done as a duet with singer Nancy Shanks. Foster then tapped Peck again for "Firedance." Peck would get another chance at a solo career in 1994 on RCA Records. He would record a self-titled album, but for that effort he worked with another famous producer, Desmond Child. Once again, the album didn't get anywhere. Peck would continue to work on his own recording a couple of indie albums while also working for other artists.


Sunday, March 7, 2021

"Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)" by Samantha Fox

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3426
Date:  02/27/1988
Debut:  90
Peak:  3
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Fox's second album was a self-titled effort that did well back in her UK home, but arrived to little notice in the US. Its first single, the Stock-Aitken-Waterman team track "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" was a dud that stalled at a minor #80. With that result, the album initially peaked at #128 and then fell off the chart. If the LP was to get even close to #24/gold results of her debut album Touch Me, a rescue single was needed pronto. This track, which was headed up by the Full Force production team, was selected for the job. It debuted low on the Pop chart, but gained traction as the weeks went on. It finally peaked at #3 in its 15th week on the chart. Unusually, the song descended slowly and spent another 12 weeks on the chart. The hit did help the album, which re-entered the chart and got to #51. Although its peak was on the low side, it would be a consistent seller and it would receive gold-level certification in August of '88. With the song being a hit, it would seem logical that the label would release a follow-up, but it appears they did not. That could have been due to the fact that her next album was already in the works and a new single from that would be released in the fall.

ReduxReview:  Having Full Force (of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam fame) go in and write/product a track for Fox was a good idea. Their brand of pop/R&B/dance that they perfected for Lisa Lisa was a good fit for Fox. It seemed they tailored the song just for Fox with its suggestive title and gave it plenty of hooks and a solid production. While the SAW track "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" was a good one that got overlooked in the US, this song gave US audiences what they wanted from Fox and it paid off in a hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Several music artists, especially it seems in the 80s, made appearances on TV sitcoms. Some would appear as themselves while others played fictionalized music stars. Perhaps among the more famous appearances was Stacey Q who played Cinnamon in two episodes of The Facts of Life. Samantha Fox got in on the act as well. She ended up on the Scott Baio sitcom Charles in Charge. The show was in its last season and Fox guested on a 1990 episode as rock star "Samantha Steele." Her appearance didn't really kick off an acting career as she would only guest on a minor few shows after. In the UK, she later appeared in several reality shows including Celebrity Wife Swap, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, and Celebrity Big Brother.