Saturday, June 19, 2021

"Wait on Love" by Michael Bolton

Song#:  3529
Date:  05/28/1988
Debut:  96
Peak:  79
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After two albums with his hard rock band Blackjack and four solo efforts, Bolton finally broke through with his fifth album The Hunger. Its first two singles cracked the Pop Top 20, which included his version of the Otis Redding classic "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" (#11 Pop/#19 AC). The hits helped the album get to #46. Bolton tried to keep the momentum going with this third single, which was co-written and produced by Journey's Jonathan Cain, but it didn't catch on as well only spending a few weeks in the bottom quarter of the Pop chart. In the wake of the success of his fifth album, 1989's Soul Provider, The Hunger would finally reach gold status. As Bolton's star continued to rise, the album kept selling and eventually it would be certified double platinum.

ReduxReview:  This track had a slight rock edge, which was a change from Bolton's previous two hits. Thanks to those songs, he was on the road to becoming associated with big pop/AC ballads and this single might have been an attempt to make sure he didn't get pigeonholed as a crooner. It might have worked had the song been stronger. This song certainly wasn't bad. It was a good effort by Bolton and Cain. In fact, it could have easily fit on Journey's Raised on Radio album. However, it just wasn't all that memorable. I listened to it three times in a row and fifteen minutes later I couldn't remember a lick of it. The song was a good track for an album, but it just didn't have the right goods to make it sell at pop radio. Still, it was far better than the awful "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" and I do prefer when Bolton sings rock-oriented tunes.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  A fourth single from the album would be released. "Walk Away" would not make the Pop chart, but it did get to #14 at AC. After that Top 20, Bolton would start a major streak of AC Top 10s beginning with 1989's "Soul Provider," which topped out at #3. Between '89 and '94, Bolton would have a run of fourteen AC Top 10s. Eight of those would reach #1. In the late 90s, he would add another Top 10 along with a ninth #1. The streak made him one of the most successful artists on the AC chart in the 90s. "Walk Away" was co-written by Bolton along with Diane Warren, who was on a streak herself of writing hits. Unfortunately, this is one that didn't add to her total.


Friday, June 18, 2021

"Little Walter" by Tony! Toni! Toné!

Song#:  3528
Date:  05/28/1988
Debut:  98
Peak:  47
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  This family-based trio out of Oakland, California, consisted of half-brothers D'wayne and Raphael Wiggins and their cousin Timothy Riley. All three had been musicians performing in bands, but Raphael got some big time experience when he was selected to join Sheila E's touring band during Prince's Parade Tour. After he returned home, the trio got together to tinker around with music. It didn't take long for them gel and realize they had something. In 1987, the trio recorded and released the indie single "One Night Stand" under the name Tony Tone Toni. It ended up getting the attention of the Polygram off-shoot label Wing Records, who signed the guys. By the spring of '88, they had finished recording their debut LP Who? with producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy. This first single, with their band name updated, was issued out and it became a major hit at R&B reaching #1. As it was approaching that peak, the song crossed over to the Pop chart. It would end up stopping short of the Top 40 mark. It also got to #43 at Dance. Three more singles would be released from the album and all would reach the R&B Top 10. However, none would make the Pop chart. The LP would get to #14 R&B and #69 Pop. Eventually it would be a gold seller.

ReduxReview:  This story song is pretty cool as it combines something old with something new. The melody of the chorus was adapted from the main melody in the old spiritual standard "Wade in the Water" (originally published in 1901). In the modern rock era, a version by Ramsey Lewis made the Pop chart in 1966 (#19) and Herb Alpert took the tune to #37 in 1967. The Wiggins brothers took that melody and the song's message of trouble and turned it into a modern new jack swing tune. I liked the cautionary tale and thought it was an interesting single. It stood out and made an impression. It really should have done better on the Pop chart. Hearing it now, I think the track could have benefited from a better production. It could have been cleaner and harder hitting. It is kind of a lost track these days.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) So what's up with the name? According to an interview with D'wayne Wiggins, it stemmed from a "cap session," which is basically when playful insults are tossed around within a small group of people. Apparently, Wiggins threw out the triple Tony at a roommate during a cap session. Something about it stayed with Wiggins and his bandmates and they started using to describe themselves after they got dressed up to go out on the town. It sort of stuck as a nickname and after adjusting the spelling of each Tony, it soon became the trio's band name.  2) Over the next eight years following their debut, the trio had some solid success. Their next three albums would all be platinum sellers (one 2x platinum) that generated eight R&B Top 10's (including four #1s) and three Pop Top 10s with those three hits going gold. Their two biggest hits would be 1990's "Feels Good" (#1 R&B/#9 Pop) and 1993's "If I Had No Loot" (#8 R&B/#7 Pop). They would also earn two Grammy nominations for their 1993 hit "Anniversary" (#2 R&B/#10 Pop). After four albums, the trio decided to split and do their own projects. Raphael, who would change his last name to Saadiq, would form another trio, Lucy Pearl. Their 1999 self-titled debut album would go gold and generate the #5 R&B/#36 Grammy-nominated hit "Dance Tonight." However, after one album the trio split. Saadiq would head off on a solo career beginning in 2002. He would also collaborate with a big list of artists as a songwriter and producer. Between his solo efforts and work with others, Saadiq would earn fifteen Grammy nominations and one win. D'wayne Wiggins would start his own entertainment company and built a recording studio. Among his first clients was a former Star Search vocal group competitor called Girl's Tyme, who had changed their name to Destiny's Child. Wiggins recorded several tracks with the group, which then helped them get signed to Columbia Records. Wiggins would co-write and produce tracks that would appear on the superstar group's first three albums.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

"Black and Blue" by Van Halen

Song#:  3527
Date:  05/21/1988
Debut:  66
Peak:  34
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  With their new lead singer, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen roared back with their seventh studio album, 1986's 5150. It would be VH's first #1 album thanks to three Pop Top 30 hits including the #3 "Why Can't This Be Love?" Over time, the LP would sell over six million copies. As soon as the album's supporting tour was finished, the band got back into the studio to record a follow up. They would adopt a sort of ad hoc approach to production with the band directing themselves along with engineer Donn Landee. In the end, they came up with the jokingly titled OU812. This first single would be issued out and it was an immediate hit at Rock becoming their fourth chart topper. It didn't take long for the song to cross over to the Pop chart, but its heavier rock-blues sound ended up being a tougher sell. The best it could do was a Top 40 showing. Despite the single not doing well at Pop, the album exploded on the chart and quickly went to #1 where it stayed for four weeks. The day after it reached that peak, the LP would be certified double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  The band had a bit of a balance issue by this time. With their previous two LPs generating a Pop Top 10 hit each, there were expectations of having something commercial to release, however, they also needed to keep their core rock fans happy too. They navigated the waters pretty well with 5150, but that just applied pressure for the second go-round of "Van Hagar" and that led to OU812 being a mixed bag. It showcased various styles that while firmly planted in rock including shades of pop, country and as in the case of this first single, blues. I understand why the band would want to kick off the LP with a big rock single, but this one certainly didn't have the same commercial appeal as "Why Can't This Be Love?" The tune's plodding, stomping blues-rock and wink-wink sex joke lyrics wasn't something that could competed on the Pop airwaves alongside the sleek rock/glam rock tracks that were gaining favor at the time. In other words, it was a little rough for pop radio and that played out on the chart with a very mild Top 40 peak. However, it seemed to keep rock fans happy and it was enough to reach #1 at Rock and send the LP to the top. Despite the silly lyrics, I actually liked the song. I thought it was a good, swaggerin' track that fit well into the new world order of the Hagar-led VH.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Apparently the working titled for the album was Bone and that was what the band was going to go with despite Alex Van Halen hating it. Then just as the album was ready to be sent off for final artwork and pressing, Sammy Hagar found a bit of inspiration via a delivery truck. Hagar was driving on the highway and happened to see that the actual serial number on a truck was OU812. He thought it was hilarious because when said aloud it comes off as "oh, you ate one too." Hagar took the jokey code back to the band and suggested it for the LP title. Since Bone wasn't necessarily a favorite, they agreed. After the album's release, rumors started that the title was sort of a jab or response to David Lee Roth's first full-length solo album Eat 'Em and Smile, but that wasn't the case (although kind of convenient). That combo of numbers and letters had been around for a long time even being seen in Cheech and Chong's Next Movie and the hit TV show Taxi, but for Hagar, he just happened to see it on the side of a truck.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"Hold On to the Nights" by Richard Marx

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3526
Date:  05/21/1988
Debut:  69
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  The first three singles from Richard Marx's self-titled debut album all got close to the top spot on the Pop chart, but peaked just shy with two reaching #3 and his third one, "Endless Summer Nights," getting to #2. Could a fourth single finally grab that top spot? Marx gave it a go with this ballad and indeed it would earn him his first Pop #1. The song also did well enough to reach #3 at AC. The hit would push the LP to a new peak of #8 in September. By that point, it had already reached the double-platinum sales level. Eventually it would go triple-platinum. This single would end up being the final one released from the album.

ReduxReview:  After three upbeat rock/pop singles, Marx finished his debut album hit streak with a ballad. It was a good choice to do that and this one certainly fit the bill. It kind of sounded like a theme from some romantic/drama film. There was a bit of Phil Collins running underneath it all. It was a good tune and I liked it when it really started to take off with the guitar kicking in at the end of the bridge. It all kind of explodes and comes together after that. However, I did find the tune a bit plodding on its way to get there. In my head I kind of think, "yeah, yeah, yeah, let's get on with it."

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  With this song hitting #1, Marx became only the second artist to have gotten four Top 3 hits from a debut album. He nearly became the first, but George Michael beat him to the punch by a couple months when the fourth single from his Faith album (his solo debut), "One More Try," got to #1. In fact, Michael would end up with five Top 3 hits from the album. For female artists, Paula Abdul's 1989 debut album would generate five Top 3 hits. For duos or groups, it seems that Milli Vanilli's debut LP got them four Top 3 hits just two months before New Kids on the Block's debut would do the same. It's strange that all of these hit-generating debuts were all released within about a two-year span. The artist whose debut album generated the most Top 10 hits was George Michael's Faith with six. Then debut albums by Paula Abdul, Milli Vanilli, New Kids on the Block, and Fergie (2006's The Dutchess) would all featured five Top 10s.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

"Parents Just Don't Understand" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3525
Date:  05/21/1988
Debut:  75
Peak:  12
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  This DJ/rapper duo from Philadelphia first got together in 1985. They would record a track called "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble" that got released on the local Philly hip-hop label Word Records (not to be confused with the Christian-based Word label). The song did well enough to crack the R&B chart at #81 and a debut album, Rock the House, would follow. It got the attention of Jive Records who signed the duo, reissued the LP on the new label and got them promoted in a larger way. Two more singles from the album would be middling entries on the R&B chart, which helped the album get to #24 R&B. The pair then went back into the studio to record a follow-up and came out with He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper. A first single, "Brand New Funk," was simply issued as a promo, but a bit of airplay got it to #76 at R&B. Then this second single was officially released. It started to catch on at R&B first where it finally got to #10. As it neared that peak, the song crossed over to Pop. Aided by a video that got a lot of attention on MTV, the track nearly cracked the Pop Top 10. The crossover hit would sell well enough to become a gold record. It would also go on to win the inaugural Grammy for Best Rap Performance. The album would become a hit as well getting to #4 Pop/#5 R&B. Eventually, it would go triple-platinum.

ReduxReview:  The duo's brand of inoffensive, sometimes humorous rap was perfect for mainstream audiences. I'd venture to guess that parents who were either terrified of or didn't get rap/hip-hop and tried to keep their kids away from it most likely approved of Jeff and Fresh Prince. How bad could these two cute guys whining about their parents in an "aw shucks" kind of way be? I guess if there existed a genre called "wholesome rap," these guys would have been the epitome. Obviously they were skilled and genuine entertainers, but even my straitlaced, Wonder Bread at the time self thought they were a bit on the milquetoast side of things. It worked for them and I think they did help in breaking down some barriers at pop radio, but I just never really got into their brand of rap.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In the rap/hip-hop world, during live performance some artists would have an emcee or "hype man," a rapper/singer would would work in the background and do various vocal interjections and other things to enhance the main performer and to get the audience going. In 1985, DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jeff Townes) had a scheduled performance at a Philly house party, but his hype man had yet to show up. A teenager in the neighborhood, Will Smith (aka The Fresh Prince), who had been performing with another DJ by the name of Lord Supreme (Mark Forrest) happened to show up and offered to fill in. The pair hit it off immediately and not long after the chance meeting, they formed a partnership that would yield two Grammys and five platinum/gold certified albums (one multi-platinum, one platinum, three gold).


Monday, June 14, 2021

"Make Me Lose Control" by Eric Carmen

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3524
Date:  05/21/1988
Debut:  78
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Twelve years after his last Pop Top 10 hit, Carmen finally got back into the upper reaches of the chart with "Hungry Eyes," a song he did for the soundtrack to the hit film Dirty Dancing. The single would get to #4 Pop/#2 AC. With Carmen back on the charts, his label Arista decided to capitalize on the moment and quickly put together the compilation The Best of Eric Carmen. It was rushed out, but they probably should have waited because Carmen had returned to the studio following the success of "Hungry Eyes" to record a new song. "Make Me Lose Control" was written with Dean Pitchford (the pair had written "Almost Paradise" for Footloose) and it was decided that perhaps the song would make a good follow-up to his Dirty Dancing hit. It was issued out and it ended up performing better than "Hungry Eyes" peaking at #3 Pop and #1 AC. With the song exploding all over pop radio during the summer, Arista quickly did a reissue of The Best of Eric Carmen that included the track. With that boost, the LP was able to reach #59. It might have done better had Arista waited and included the track to begin with and then promote the single and album together. Still, the single went on to become Carmen's second biggest hit after his 1975 #2 "All By Myself."

ReduxReview:  This nostalgic track with its big sing-a-long chorus was a perfect follow-up for "Hungry Eyes" and even for the whole Dirty Dancing phenomenon. Oddly, I find that the verse part has teeny shades of Bruce Springsteen, which I kinda dig. The Beach Boys-inspired background vocals and vocal break were a highlight as well (note - although a few folks attribute the vocals to the actual Beach Boys, they did not appear on the song, it was studio vocalists including singer/songwriter/producer Mark Hudson). Overall, it was just a terrific pop song and one of Carmen's best. I liked it far more than "Hungry Eyes." It's a shame he didn't pursue a full album at the time. Carmen was on a roll and it might have been a terrific LP. This song would end up being Carmen's last major hit, but what a way to go out.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Since this was a one-off single, Carmen needed a b-side. Instead of trying to get a new song together, he reached into his back catalog and grabbed another nolstalgic tune, "That's Rock 'n' Roll," a track from his 1975 self-titled debut album. That #21 gold LP included "All By Myself" and Carmen's #11 hit "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again." While not issued out in the US, in some countries "That's Rock 'n' Roll" would be the LP's third single (#7 Denmark). Two years later, the song would end up being a #3 hit for Shaun Cassidy. It appeared on his 1976 self-titled debut album and was Cassidy's second Top 10 hit following his #1 remake of "Da Doo Ron Ron." For Cassidy's second album, the Carmen-penned track "Hey Deanie" would be recorded. It would be the LP's first single and it would get to #7. Carmen's own version of the tune would make it on his 1978 album Change of Heart.


Sunday, June 13, 2021

"My Love" by Julio Iglesias with Stevie Wonder

Song#:  3523
Date:  05/21/1988
Debut:  94
Peak:  80
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This Latin music superstar broke through to the mainstream with his first English-language album 1100 Bel Air Place. It featured his first major hit, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," a duet with Willie Nelson that reached #5 Pop/#3 AC/#1 Country and went platinum. A second single, "All of You," another duet song this time with Diana Ross, also did well getting to #19 Pop/#2 AC. The album would be his biggest crossover success getting to #5 Pop and eventually selling over four million copies. After that big success, Iglesias could have chosen to do another English album, but instead returned to Latin music for 1985's Libra, which thanks to the success of his previous LP made it to #92 on the US Pop chart. Next up was 1987's Un hombre solo, an album that finally earned Iglesias his first Grammy award (Best Latin Pop Album). Not wanting to neglect his mainstream audience, Iglesias then recorded his second English-language album, Non Stop. For the LP, he'd go the duet route again this time with Stevie Wonder, who would write, produce, and sing on the first single "My Love." The tune would do well at AC getting to #14, but it didn't fully click at Pop where it stalled low on the chart. It also scratched the R&B chart at #88. Still, the album would sell well and get to #52. It would take about three years, but the LP would eventually go gold. The single would be Iglesias' last one to reach the US Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I want to call this tune awful, but I can't because it isn't really all that bad. It is just not my thing. It is, however, a vat of cheez whiz. It sounds like one of those songs that is sung at the end of a telethon. The song probably played well on AC, which really was Iglesias' main audience, but this bit o' treacle wasn't gonna get anywhere at Pop. I'm even surprised it got on the chart. Stevie Wonder can be a master of sap when he wants to be and he certainly was here. His presence, complete with the obligatory harmonica solo, probably helped the song along (and let it squeak on R&B chart), but it was definitely not one of Wonder's best efforts. While matching up Iglesias with Wonder was a good idea, this just wasn't the right song. Also, Iglesias was a huge star at the time and on CBS, so he could have worked with most any songwriter/producer. Why he didn't get paired with someone like Burt Bacharach is beyond me. Luther Vandross would have been really interesting as well. Anything/anyone would have been better than this gooey schmaltz.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  While Iglesias would mainly continue to record Latin albums, once in a while he would push out an English-language effort. In 1990, he released the pop standards album Starry Night. It would be a #37 gold seller. Then in 1994, he recorded a covers album titled Crazy, which featured duets with Dolly Parton, Dave Koz, and Art Garfunkel. It would get to #30 and also go gold. His last album to make the Pop chart was the 1996 Spanish-language concept LP Tango. It got to #81 and would go gold. While Iglesias would be recognized as the best selling Latin artist worldwide in history, his son would certainly surpass his achievements on the US charts. Enrique Iglesias would become a major crossover star that to-date has scored five Pop Top 10 hits, including two #1's, along with three Top 10 albums.