Saturday, July 24, 2021

"Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert! 
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3561
Date:  06/25/1988
Debut:  76
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  This metal band formed in early 1985 and initially consisted of members from two other Sunset Strip-playing acts, Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. The singular constant between the two bands was lead singer Axl Rose, who headed up Hollywood Rose and then for a short time sang with L.A. Guns. After the manager for L.A. Guns canned Rose, he and three members of the band decided to form a new group and invited along Hollywood Rose member. Izzy Stradlin. Looking for a name, they settled on one that represented the two groups the members had previously been in and became Guns N' Roses. Their first performance was in March of '85, but not long after the three L.A. Guns members were gone. Rose and Stradlin hired in Duff McKagen and two former Hollywood Rose members Slash and Steven Adler. This lineup started performing in the summer of '85 and it wasn't long before they were gaining fans. By the summer of '86, they had signed a contract with Geffen Records. Work began on a debut album, but it was taking quite a bit of time so the label pushed out a tide-over EP late in '86 titled Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, which oddly was not a live recording, but studio tracks with crowd noise added. Eventually, the album got finished with producer Mike Clink and Appetite for Destruction was released in July of '87. Initially, the album and its first single, "Welcome to the Jungle," floundered. Neither were getting anywhere and the label was ready to give up, but then after some lobbying, the label decided to give it another shot and worked with MTV to get the video for "Welcome to the Jungle" in rotation. MTV decided to lend a helping hand and soon the tune started to get some attention. It finally got on the Rock chart and by April '88 it made it to #37. Encouraged by that, the label then pushed out this second single. The video was soon in heavy rotation on MTV and the song began climbing the Rock chart where it would peak at #7. Then the song exploded in a more mainstream way and it would end up topping the Pop chart. The hit sent the album to #1 for a week in August of '88. It was the first of five non-consecutive weeks at the top spot for the LP. GN'R were on their way.

ReduxReview:  Once in a while a song comes along that just changes everything. I think this was one of them. Up to this point, glam metal was certainly on the rise thanks to hits by the likes of Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Poison, and others. However, this song was like a shot over the bow. Both it and the album were landmarks that made the genre explode. Soon there would be bands like Warrant, Skid Row, and Slaughter along with the continued success of acts like Mötley Crüe. Glam metal would reign supreme for a few years, but then another landmark song and album would come along in 1991 that would change the face of rock again (Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Nevermind). I distinctly remember hearing this song for the first time. It was on MTV and I was kind of blown away by the sweetness of the song and melody mixed with the ferocity of the band, the guitar solo, and Axl Rose's vocals. It felt different from the party-ish glam metal songs and power ballads other bands were doing. I didn't waste time and immediately got the album. It was chock full of great songs with very little filler. Needless to say, I played it a lot and this song along with "Welcome to the Jungle" were the stars. Just even hearing the opening guitar riff of this song can still give me chills. It was a great moment in rock music.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) At the time the band was creating this song, Axl Rose was dating Erin Everly. She was the daughter of Don Everly, one half of the famous brother duo The Everly Brothers. With nine Pop Top 10 hits and four #1s, the Everlys were the most successful duo of the rock era until Daryl Hall & John Oates bested the with ten Top 10 and six #1s. Rose wrote the lyrics to "Sweet Child O' Mine" with Erin in mind. She would also appear in the song's video. After being together for four years, the pair would be married in 1990, however their union would be annulled nine months later.  2) In 1999, singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow would cover this tune for the soundtrack to the Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy. The film was a big hit with Crow's cover tune being used in a scene while the Guns N' Roses original played over the closing credits. Although Crow's version would not be released as a single, it did help in getting the soundtrack album to #55. A revised edition of Crow's 1998 #5 LP The Globe Sessions released in '99 would include the track. It would also earn Crow a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. It was her sixth Grammy.


Friday, July 23, 2021

"Here with Me" by REO Speedwagon

Song#:  3560
Date:  06/25/1988
Debut:  80
Peak:  20
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  After four consecutive multi-platinum studio albums, the band stumbled a bit with their 1987 effort Life As We Know It. It would go gold thanks to a pair of Pop Top 20 entries including "In My Dreams" (#19), but that was a steep drop in sales from their previous LPs. The band was also having some inner turmoil so it seemed like a good time to take a step back and reassess everything. In the meantime, a compilation would be assembled and pushed out simply titled The Hits. In addition to featuring most of their biggest singles, the album would include two newly recorded songs including this one which was pushed out to help promote the collection. It would be a hit at AC reaching #9 while just barely cracking the Pop Top 20. It would end up being the band's last single to make the Pop Top 40. Upon release, The Hits would only get to #56, but like many compilations it would continue to be a consistent seller in the band's catalog and eventually it would sell over four million copies.

ReduxReview:  It certainly wasn't surprising that the band released another power ballad as a single. Of their previous four Pop Top 20 entries, three of them were ballads. It seemed like they were making that transition from being a big arena rock band into a more hit-oriented AC staple much in the way that Journey, Chicago, and Foreigner had been doing. It's not a bad thing to do if it keeps sales up and fans coming back, but there was no mistaking that their best rockin' days were, for the most part, behind them. This last gasp mild hit wasn't too bad, but the problem was that it had no legs. I'd completely forgotten this song and even back in the day I barely heard it. While the song was fine, it just wasn't strong enough to leave a lasting impression like their earlier hits. Frankly, all I need to hear from REO is Hi-Infidelity and a few of their 70s tracks. 

ReduxRating:  5/10

TriviaThe Hits ended up being an album that signaled the end of REO's most successful period. After two members left the band, lead singer/songwriter Kevin Cronin, original member Neal Doughty, and long-time member Bruce Hall hired in replacements and decided to soldier on. The new lineup's first effort, 1990's The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken, was not successful. It featured the band's last single to reach the Pop chart, the #65 "Love Is a Rock" (#31 AC) along with the #6 AC hit "Live It Up," which failed to make the Pop chart. The results pushed REO off of the Epic Records roster after being with the label for nearly 20 years. The band would continue to be a successful touring act and record the occasional indie LP, but their hit making days had come to an end.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

"Forever Yours" by Tony Terry

Song#:  3559
Date:  06/25/1988
Debut:  89
Peak:  80
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Doo Wop

Pop Bits:  Terry's debut album Forever Yours was doing well. It featured a pair of R&B Top 10 hits including "She's Fly." Both were early new jack swing tunes, but neither made an impression at pop radio with only "She's Fly" making the Pop chart (#80). For a third single, Terry's label, Epic, decided to take a chance on this retro-leaning ballad. The song became his third hit at R&B reaching #16. While the tune did get Terry back on the Pop chart, it stalled at the same #80 as his previous entry. With little to support the LP in a more mainstream way, the album only got to #151 at Pop. A fourth single, "Young Love," would just be a blip on the R&B chart at #88.

ReduxReview:  After a pair of NJS tunes, this was not what I was expecting as a follow up. It was so retro that I had to look it up to see if it was a remake of a 50s song. Alas, it was not. It was written by Gary Henry and Ted Currier. Both were remixers who also wrote and produced songs. Each had some success in the 80s with Henry co-writing "No Frills Love" for Jennifer Holliday (#1 Dance)  and Currier co-writing "Fly Girl" for The Boogie Boys (1986, #6 R&B). With New Edition having some success with their "Earth Angel" remake a couple years previous, it probably seemed like a good idea to push this track out. It did fairly well at R&B, but pop radio just wasn't interested. The song itself was fine and a good attempt at recreating a 50s doo wop ballad, but there was nothing special about it that would warrant a single release.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Terry's second album wouldn't arrive until 1990. The self-titled effort started off a bit slow, but its second single, "Everlasing Love," earned Terry his third R&B Top 10 (#6). It also cracked the Pop chart at #81. A third single barely made the R&B Top 40, but then the fourth single "With You" would become Terry's biggest crossover single. The song got to #6 R&B and #14 Pop thanks to a little intervention from another music star. According to Terry, his label didn't even want the song on the album, but Terry fought to get it on. Feeling it was special, Terry then was able to get it out as a fourth single. However, the label wouldn't promote it. Then Terry got a surprise call from singer Anita Baker, who was saying how much she loved the tune. She wondered about the video, but then Terry informed her there was none because the label would not support the song. Well, Baker wasn't having that. She felt it was a hit so she fronted the money to film a video. Baker also put Terry in touch with L.A. Law star Blair Underwood who would direct the video and make a cameo. It would be pushed out when completed and it quickly made a difference. The song began to climb not only the R&B chart, but the Pop chart as well. Perhaps due to the lack of support from Epic, Terry would move over to Virgin Records for his 1994 third album. Unfortunately, it fared poorly and Terry wouldn't record another LP until 2001. Although his charting days were over, Terry continued to record and perform while also branching out to acting. He has appeared in several stage musicals including national tours of shows like The Wiz.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

"I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3558
Date:  06/25/1988
Debut:  91
Peak:  8
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  Jett and her band really smashed through in 1982 with the #1 hit "I Love Rock n' Roll." The associated album of the same name would be a #2 platinum seller. Her next album would go gold, but then things went a bit downhill after that with her next two efforts not selling nearly as well. Things began to turn around a bit when she won a leading role in the 1987 flick Light of Day alongside Michael J. Fox. While the film wasn't a massive hit, Jett got some good notices and her version of the title track got her back into the Pop Top 40. The time was then right for Jett to make a big splash with her next album. She got hooked up with hit songwriter/producer Desmond Child and the pair set out to make a few tracks that could compete with hits being scored by other hard rock/glam metal bands. One of those songs was this first single from what would be Jett's sixth album Up Your Alley. While the song would do fairly well at Rock getting to #20, over on the Pop chart it slowly took off until it finally became Jett's third Pop Top 10. In turn, the album would get to #19 and go platinum. This song also earned Jett and her band a Grammy nod for Best Rock Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  This song with its huge hook and massive sound just blasted through speakers like a stick of dynamite. It was absolutely the perfect song for Jett at the time. Child's face melting production gave Jett a slick contemporary arena rock sound that had been missing on her previous albums. It reinvigorated the rocker and her career. Glam metal was on the rise and that also played a part in Jett's career resurgence. While she would never see the Pop Top 10 again, it didn't matter because between this hit and "I Love Rock n' Roll," Jett claimed her throne on the court of rock royalty.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Apparently, Jett originally had a different title in mind. When she first wrote the hook, she had it as "I Hate Myself Because I Can't Get Laid." When she began to work on the song with Desmond Child, he nixed that title because he though no one would play it. He suggested to use the word "love" somewhere in the title and when the song was done it became "I Hate Myself for Loving You." The change was appropriate for pop stations who would have never made a hit out of the song with its original title.  2) In 2006, this song would get picked up for use as the theme to NBC's Sunday Night Football program. The lyrics were altered to fit the theme and it was performed by superstar singer/songwriter P!nk. The next year, Faith Hill took over with a more country-rock version. Then in 2013, Carrie Underwood became the new theme vocalist. In all versions, the chorus says "waiting all day for Sunday night" instead of "I Hate Myself for Loving You."


Monday, July 19, 2021

"Please Don't Go Girl" by New Kids on the Block

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3557
Date:  06/25/1988
Debut:  92
Peak:  10
Weeks:  28
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  In 1982,  songwriter/producer Maurice Starr discovered the Boston teen vocal group New Edition. Following the success of their '83 debut album, New Edition decided to part ways with Starr due to financial issues that arose following their first tour. Perhaps feeling jilted by the teens he discovered, Starr then set out to form another teen group that would perhaps eclipse New Edition in popularity. His idea was to basically recast New Edition with white teens. Starr first found rapper Donnie Wahlberg who then brought along his brother Mark along with a couple of school friends. Mark would drop out along with another potential member, but they were replaced with the final addition being lead singer Joey McIntyre. Starr initially named the group Nynuk and got them signed to Columbia Records, who insisted on a name change. Re-dubbed New Kids on the Block, the group set out to record a debut album with Starr producing and mostly writing all the tracks. Unfortunately, the LP tanked with no singles reaching the Pop chart. Starr asked Columbia for another chance and they reluctantly green-lit a second album that would be titled Hangin' Tough. While Starr would write and produce the LP, the teens had more input and got Starr to move away from bubblegum pop. For a lead single, this soul-leaning ballad was selected. Upon release it pretty much died and Columbia was ready to oust the boys, but then a radio station in Florida started to spin the tune and it quickly started to gain fans. Columbia caught wind of the sudden uptick and decided to put forth a better promo effort. The song then entered the Pop chart and slowly crept up as it picked up airplay across the US. Finally in its sixteenth week, the single cracked the Top 10. It also got to #55 R&B. It took a long while, but NKOTB finally got their breakthrough.

ReduxReview:  This was an interesting choice to kick off the album. Since their first two singles didn't hit the Pop chart, this sort of acted as their debut. It was a nice way to introduce the group. The Motown/soul inspired tune had a bit of a Jackson 5 feel without seeming like a copy. It also was a slight step ahead of the bubblegum pop of their debut and of New Edition's first effort. It gets a little cheezy with the spoken word parts and the muttered "I love you's," but overall it was a sweet, refreshing first hit for a teen group.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Nearly ten years after this song was released, it was covered by a boy band-related artist. Eleven-year-old Aaron Carter, brother of Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, kicked off a music career with a 1997 self-titled debut album. Carter would cover this NKOTB tune for the album, however it was not released as a single. The LP was originally released in Europe were it did fairly well cracking the Top 10 in a couple of countries and getting to #12 in the UK thanks to a pair of Top 10 hits. However, when issued out in the US it failed to chart or produce any charting singles. Three years later, he would release his second LP Aaron's Party (Come Get It). Thanks to the title track cracking the US Pop Top 40 and a lot of promotion via Radio Disney, the album got to #4 and would eventually go triple platinum. A third LP would be a platinum seller, while a fourth did not perform as well. After that, Carter's career went in several directions and he would not record another album until 2018. Over the years, Carter would have legal problems, financial issues, health scares, and stints in rehab. It all was certainly a far cry from the Disney-esque pre-teen who crooned "Please Don't Go Girl."


Sunday, July 18, 2021

"When Will I Be Famous?" by Bros

Song#:  3556
Date:  06/25/1988
Debut:  96
Peak:  83
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG

Pop Bits:  This British trio consisted of twins Luke and Matt Goss along with schoolmate Craig Logan. The Goss' and Logan were in separate bands while in school, but then left those groups to form their own trio called Gloss. They ended up meeting songwriters/producers Nicky Graham and Tom Watkins, who were not necessarily impressed with what the trio was doing. However, Watkins thought the guys would be perfect to develop as a boy band and as soon as all three turned 18, he got them signed to CBS. Graham and Watkins would write all the songs and Graham would serve as producer. They all got to work and in the summer of '88 the first single by the newly named Bros, "I Owe You Nothing," was released in the UK. It pretty much flopped stopping at #80. They had another track ready to go and so the label went ahead and pushed out "When Will I Be Famous?" in November. That song did the trick getting the trio to #2. With that success, a debut album titled Push was quickly finished off. It was released in March of '88 along with a third single "Drop the Boy," which also got to #2. In turn, the album would quickly get to #2. That success sparked a deal for US distribution and "When Will I Be Famous?" would be released in the summer of '88. It would do well at Dance getting to #10, but it didn't really connect with a more mainstream pop audience and it stalled on the Pop chart after a few weeks. Then "I Owe You Nothing," which was reissued in the UK and ended up at #1, was pushed out in the US. Again, it got to #10 Dance, but it failed to reach the Pop chart. The album would fizzle at #171. Meanwhile, back in the UK, the album would spawn two more Top 10 hits and would go quad-platinum. This single would be the only one from the trio to reach the US Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  While Bros was successfully marketed as a teen idol boy band in the UK, it didn't work in the US. I think that was because of the material. Their sound made them more of a dance/club act rather that a teen pop group. At the time, boy bands hadn't really taken off in the US yet. New Edition were around, but it wouldn't be until Boys II Men and New Kids on the Block hit it big that the boy band craze of the 90s would take off. (Oddly, the same week this song debuted on the Pop chart, so did NKOTB's first charting single "Please Don't Go Girl.") Those US groups were more pop/R&B leaning and had a more mainstream sound than what Bros was doing. This Hi-NRG dance track got them attention in the clubs, but it just wasn't quite right for pop radio. The odd thing here is that they became hugely successful with a song questioning "When Will I Be Famous?" In the UK, it was right now! In the US it, never.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The trio became so famous in UK that the fervor surrounding them got tagged as "Bromania." Unfortunately, by early '89 all the pressure and fame took its toll on Craig Logan. His health suffered and because of that he chose to leave the group. Instead of trying to replace him, the Goss brothers just decided to move forward on their own. Their first album as a duo, 1998's The Time would do well reaching #4 and going gold, but it wasn't nearly as successful as their debut. Their 1991 third album Changing Faces would stall at #18. The following year the Goss' would bring an end to Bros. Matt Goss would go solo and grab four UK Top 40 entries. Luke Goss would make a move to the US to start an acting career. He has appeared in several films and TV shows. Craig Logan would work behind the scenes and become an exec at EMI and SonyBMG.