Saturday, August 14, 2021

"Heart Turns to Stone" by Foreigner

Song#:  3582
Date:  07/16/1988
Debut:  89
Peak:  56
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Foreigner's sixth studio album, Inside Information, had spawned a pair of Pop Top 10 hits including the #5 "I Don't Want to Live Without You." It was a great way to get things started, but oddly it wasn't enough to drive the album into the Top 10 (#15) and it became their first studio LP to miss that mark. The label tried to keep interest in and sales of the album going by releasing this third single, but it wasn't to be. The track stalled short of the halfway mark. It probably didn't help that rock radio had already spun the tune months earlier with it getting to #7 in February on the Rock chart. It would be the last official single released from the album in the US, however the track "Can't Wait" would get airplay and make it to #18 at Rock. The LP would go platinum, but that was quite a drop since all their previous studio LPs were multi-platinum sellers.

ReduxReview:  As an album opener, this was a good track for the band. It had a bit of the classic Foreigner sound with Lou Gramm's unmistakable voice leading the way. It was a good song to spin over on rock radio, but it just wasn't hooky or strong enough for pop, which had gotten used to a more soft rock sound from the band. I also thought the production was a bit muddled. It was awash in keyboards and echo effects that made the tune heavy and dense. It wasn't necessarily out of step for the time period, but it paled in comparison to the crisp production of earlier albums like 4. The LP would close out the main hit making era of Foreigner.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Following a second solo album in 1989, lead singer Lou Gramm decided to leave Foreigner. The band would replace him with Johnny Edwards. A new lineup of Foreigner would then release the 1991 album Unusual Heat. It fared poorly only getting to #117, although the track "Lowdown and Dirty" did get to #4 at Rock. The following year, Gramm and his old bandmate Mick Jones started to work together again. Gramm rejoined Foreigner and the band recorded three new tracks for the compilation The Very Best...and Beyond. The new song "Soul Doctor" would get to #5 at Rock. In 1995, they released what was to be the band's full comeback album Mr. Moonlight. Unfortunately it failed to generate any interest and tanked at #136.  The lead single, "Until the End of Time," got to #42 Pop/#8 AC. Foreigner then continued on mainly as a touring act. Gramm would once again leave in 2003. With new lead singer Kelly Hansen, the band would release Can't Slow Down in 2009. Thanks to a pair of Top 20 AC entries, the album got to #29. Foreigner continued to tour over the years, but the only original member still in the band was Mick Jones.


Friday, August 13, 2021

"What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)" by Information Society

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3581
Date:  07/16/1988
Debut:  90
Peak:  3
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance

Pop Bits:  This band headed up by Kurt Harland and Paul Robb got started on the campus of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1982. The group worked on an electro/techno/freestyle sound and pushed out an indie EP in 1983. It helped get them signed to Minneapolis' Twin/Tone Records and a second EP, Creatures of Influence, was released in '84. The following year one of the tracks from the EP, "Running" was released as a single and it started to get some club action. It eventually led to the group getting signed by Tommy Boy who reissued the single. In the summer of '86, the track would get to #10 on the Dance chart. Happy with those results, the label then wanted a full album from the group. They would assemble a self-titled full-length debut and this track would be the first single issued out. The song became popular in clubs and would quickly hit #1 at Dance. The week it reached the top spot on that chart, it debuted on the Pop chart. It took a little while for the song to catch on, but once it did it carved a path up to the #3 spot. With the single slowly catching fire, sales were steady and it would end up being a gold seller. The hit would help the album make it to #25.

ReduxReview:  The basics of this track were great to begin with. It had a nice melody in the verse, a hooky chorus, and terrific production. However, that "pure energy" vocal sample is what took the song over the top. Its use was inspired and it basically created a very memorable secondary hook. The tune was absolutely infectious and it still is. I can't imagine an 80s playlist without the track. It is essential synthpop from the decade.


Trivia:  Most people quickly figured out that the male voice on the track that says "pure energy" was that of Leonard Nimoy's Spock character on the original Star Trek TV series. The sample of Nimoy's voice came from the 1967 episode "Errand of Mercy." Also heard on the track are the voices of Nimoy's co-star DeForrest Kelly (Dr. McCoy) and Richard Tatro, who played the android Norman on the episode "I, Mudd." So how on earth did the band get permission to use the Star Trek samples? Turns out they got a lot of help from Nimoy's son Adam. Apparently, Adam Nimoy was an attorney who specialized in entertainment law. He also just happened to know and be a fan of the band. That connect help InSoc get the clearance to use the snippets.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

"Summergirls" by Dino

Song#:  3580
Date:  07/16/1988
Debut:  92
Peak:  50
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  Dean Esposito, aka Dino, first got into the music business as a DJ for a Las Vegas radio station. He eventually became a program director for another Vegas station while also DJ-ing in clubs. He began to sing as well and performed with a local band for a while before starting to write and record his own songs. He released a couple of indie singles including 1987's "Summergirls," which got the attention of 4th & B'way Records. Dino signed on with them and the label issued out a new mix of the song. With a more national push from the label, the track slowly caught on and it ended up making it to the halfway point on the Pop chart. While not a huge success, it was enough for the label to call for a full album, which wouldn't be released until early '89 along with a second single.

ReduxReview:  Dino was basically a one-man show doing most everything himself including writing, arranging, and performing. In general, he didn't too bad of a job. The tracks sounded good and a couple of them were catchy. While his voice was a bit lackluster, it seemed like he could carry a tune. He also had pinup looks with his long mane of hair, which never hurts. The label took a chance on him and it ended up working out; at least for a few years. This track got things kicked off. It was kind of a goofy song with the stuttering title sections, the "owwwww," stabbing synths, and insipid lyrics. It was nothing that would attract my ears, but thanks to Dino's production it was kind of a fun, engaging track for a minute or two. So not great, but not totally awful either. I'm surprised that it didn't get on the Dance chart.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After grabbing a significant hit with his third single in 1989, Dino got the opportunity to do some tour appearances. Late in '89 he appeared as an opening act on certain dates for the New Kids on the Block tour. Also on the same bill was The Cover Girls who had recently scored their first Pop Top 10 hit. It seems like Dino and a member of The Cover Girls, Caroline Jackson, hit it off quite well. The pair began to date and by 1991 they were living together in Las Vegas. They would eventually get married. It seems they have weathered all the ups and downs of the business and are still together.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

"K.I.S.S.I.N.G." by Siedah Garrett

Song#:  3579
Date:  07/16/1988
Debut:  97
Peak:  97
Weeks:  1
Genre:  R&B, Funk, Dance

Pop Bits:  This singer/songwriter started to gain experience in the music business in the early 80s. Her initial break came when she joined the funk group Plush, who released a self-titled debut album in '82. It didn't get very far only generating minor entries on the R&B and Dance charts. She then worked mainly as a background vocalist, but in '84 unexpectedly became Dennis Edwards' duet partner on the #2 R&B hit "Don't Look Any Further" (#72 Pop). Her career took a swing upward when she got hooked up with Quincy Jones and his label Qwest. She sang the song "Do You Want It Right Now" for the soundtrack to the dance/drama flick Fast Forward. The single got to #3 Dance/#63 R&B. Garrett's biggest breakthrough came when she became Michael Jackson's duet partner on the #1 single "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." She also co-wrote Jackson's #1 hit "Man in the Mirror." With her name and talent getting recognized, it was time for Garrett to record her own solo album. She would record Kiss of Life for the Qwest label with producers Rod Temperton and Dick Rudolph. This first single was issued out and it did well on the Dance chart getting to #1. It became a medium hit at R&B reaching #16, but it barely crossed over to the Pop chart where it spent one lone week near the bottom. Two other singles would be released, but neither charted. The album could only manage a #41 showing at R&B. With those results, Garrett took a step back and then mainly sang and wrote for other artists.

ReduxReview:  Garrett is a very good vocalist, however I don't think she has a distinctive voice. While that is great for a background vocalist, for a lead singer it's a detriment unless you are paired with can't-miss hit songs and the problem with Garrett's debut LP is that she didn't find (or compose) the right material. With Quincy Jones on her side and Rod Temperton in the producer's seat, it would seem that Garrett had pick-o-tha-litter when it came to songs, yet she ended up with a lot of bland material that wasn't going to elevate her beyond "that person who sang on Michael Jackson's song." There were some good folks involved including L.A. Reid and Babyface, but no one was really bringing their A-game including a usually reliable Temperton who supplied three tunes including "Groove of Midnight," a track Michael Jackson demoed and then rejected from Bad. Frankly, I think this lead single was a bit of a mess. Garrett's voice was lost behind a cacophony of production and there was little in the way of a memorable melody or hook. I can't even understand what she is singing half the time. It also seems like Temperton was trying to make the song sound like a Michael Jackson track and directed Garrett to do a Jackson impersonation. None of it worked and any hope of Garrett having a successful solo career was lost. It somehow got to #1 at Dance, but even that did little for Garrett or the album. Her voice and writing skills served her better behind the scenes and it seems like she carved out a nice career after this disappointing debut.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Garrett's writing skills would later earn her two Oscar nominations in the Best Original Song category. For the 2006 film version of the Broadway hit Dreamgirls, Garrent would co-write a new song with the show's original composer Henry Krieger. "Love You I Do" would be sung in the film by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. Then for the 2012 animated film Rio, Garrett would co-write "Real in Rio." Neither would win the Oscar, but "Love You I Do" would win a Grammy for Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

"Monkey" by George Michael

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3578
Date:  07/09/1988
Debut:  42
Peak:  1 (2 week)
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Dance

Pop Bits:  The ballad "One More Try" was the fourth single from George Michael's debut solo album Faith. Like the two singles that preceded it, the tune would reach #1 on the Pop chart. A follow-up was definitely called for, so this dance-oriented tune was issued out as the LP's fifth single. It was the right choice with the song debuting near the Top 40 and then making its way to #1. It was Michael's fourth consecutive #1 and his ninth overall, which including his chart toppers with Wham! and a duet with Aretha Franklin. The track would become Michael's first to reach #1 on the Dance chart and his fourth Top 10 at R&B (#8). The week after this song first hit the chart, the album would be certified for five million in sales. Two months later it would hit the 6 million mark.

ReduxReview:  This was certainly a solid album track, but I wasn't sure if it was worthy of being a single and had doubts it could even make the Top 10. But then Jam & Lewis came on board (see below) and I think their remix was what took the song to the top of the chart. Not only did they beef up the track to make it more radio friendly and exciting, but because the new version was not on the album it prompted fans to run out and buy the single. I did like the remix, but I like it now more as an extra track. The new mix/production by Jam & Lewis doesn't fit alongside the original album track that Michael produced, which makes it sound a little out of place. So if I'm listening to the album, I want the original. If not, the remix is pretty cool to bring up.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) For the single release, Michael asked Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to do a remix. Apparently, Michael loved what the team did for the remix of Janet Jackson's hit "Nasty" and wanted something similar. Jam & Lewis revamped the tune adding some of their signature flourishes and even got Michael to record a new vocal. The full mix was available on 12" vinyl while for the 45 RPM release it was edited down. Jam & Lewis' update did the trick with the song making it to #1 at both Pop and Dance.  2) This song put Michael in an elite group. He became one of only three artists to achieve four #1 songs from one album. The two others were Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. What is odd about the feat is that all three artists did it in 1988. Jackson accomplished it first when "Man in the Mirror" reached the top on March 26. Then Houston joined the club just a few weeks later on April 23 with "Where Do Broken Hearts Go." Mickael soon followed with "Monkey." Over the next two years, two other artists would join the club; Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson. However, they would all be left behind by Michael Jackson when "Dirty Diana" became the fifth #1 from "Bad." He still holds the record for most #1s from one album, but in 2011 Katy Perry tied him with singles from her it album Teenage Dream.


Monday, August 9, 2021

"Nobody's Fool" by Kenny Loggins

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3577
Date:  07/09/1988
Debut:  68
Peak:  8
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Loggins was the king of soundtrack songs in the 80s. Up to this point he had put six movie tunes on the Pop chart with three of them hitting the Top 10 including the #1 "Footloose." In '86 and '87, his only charting songs (three of them) would come from movie soundtracks. He would make it four in a row with this song, which was his first Pop chart appearance of '88. The tune served as the theme to the comedy sequel Caddyshack II. Loggins had supplied the theme song to the original Caddyshack movie in 1980 with "I'm Alright" becoming his second Pop Top 10 solo hit. Naturally, when the sequel came about the producers sought out Loggins for another theme song. At first Loggins was hesitant in trying to replicate the success of "I'm Alright," but acquiesced and wrote this tune with Michael Towers. It was released as a single a few weeks before the film's debut and it would become Loggins' seventh charting movie theme and fifth overall Top 10 hit. It also got to #30 Rock and #42 AC. Loggins had succeeded in writing a hit for the movie, however in the long run it would end up being his last song to reach the Pop Top 40. Despite the song being a hit, the soundtrack album, which featured the track plus others by Patty Smyth, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Cheap Trick, and The Pointer Sisters, failed to make the album chart.

ReduxReview:  The only thing good to come out of the debacle that was Caddyshack II was this song. Besides including the phrase "still alright," the song didn't have much in common with "I'm Alright," which was a good thing. We didn't need an "I'm Alright, Pt. II." (We didn't need a Caddyshack II either...) Still, it wasn't one of Loggins' strongest movie songs. There were some good passages such as the back half of the chorus and the bridge, but it didn't demand your attention in the way that "Footloose" or "Danger Zone" did. I'm glad it earned him a final Pop Top 10, but it is one that rarely, if ever, heard any longer.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  As mentioned above, this song was written specifically for the comedy film Caddyshack II. The original 1980 movie that starred Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ted Knight was a hit with audiences, but critics were not as impressed. It then achieved a sort of cult status when issued out on home video. Several years later, someone at Warner Bros. thought that a sequel would be a good idea and coaxed original director and co-writer Harold Ramis into writing a sequel. Also on board was Rodney Dangerfield and director Alan Metter, who just had success with Dangerfield in Back to School. Unfortunately, Dangerfield got in a battle with the studio and dropped out. With him gone, Ramis then washed his hands of it and then the director got fired. The movie ended up getting made with only one cast member from the original, Chevy Chase. Upon release, critics hated it and audiences stayed away. It was bad enough to secure four Golden Raspberry award nominations including Worst Picture. It would win two; one for Dan Aykroyd for Worst Supporting Actor and one for Worst Original Song. No, not for the Kenny Loggins hit, but for the tune "Jack Fresh" by Full Force.


Sunday, August 8, 2021

"Missed Opportunity" by Daryl Hall & John Oates

Song#:  3576
Date:  07/09/1988
Debut:  75
Peak:  29
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  The duo's first album for Arista Records, Ooh Yeah!, didn't perform quite as well as their previous two studio efforts, but it was able to go platinum despite being their first LP to not make the Top 10 since 1980 (#24). It was boosted by the #3 Pop single "Everything Your Heart Desires." This follow-up tried to keep the momentum going, but it faltered after getting inside the Pop Top 30. It would do better at AC reaching #8 while making a #68 appearance at R&B. The duo's past five albums, including their 1983 compilation Rock 'n Soul Part 1, all generated at least two Top 10 singles. Their Arista debut would fail to keep that streak going and it signaled that perhaps their popularity was beginning to wane.
ReduxReview:  The soul-influenced sound of this track was typical for Hall & Oates. It grooved along just fine with a good chorus and hints of Marvin Gaye. However, it wasn't nearly as strong as the songs that H&O previously took to the Top 10. It sounded more like a fourth single rather than a follow-up to a Top 3 lead-off hit. On an album that didn't have a lot of highlights, this was one of them. However, that was not necessarily a good thing because if a weaker track like this one is one of the stronger ones on the album, then the LP is most likely in a bit of trouble. Indeed, critics were meh about the album and it only got to #24. It did go platinum, but that was based off of shipments, not actual sales. I have a feeling it actually sold quite a bit less with copies returned to the label or sent to cut out bins. It was easily the duo's weakest studio album of the decade.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  One song on the album, "I'm in Pieces," was co-written by Daryl Hall and Janna Allen. Hall and Janna's sister, Sara, had a relationship that lasted nearly 30 years. She was the inspiration for the duo's first Pop Top 10 hit, the 1976 #4 "Sara Smile." It was around that time that Sara began to co-write some songs with the duo. Then later in 1980, Janna began to work with them. Her first co-write with Daryl Hall became the duo's second #1 hit, 1981's "Kiss on My List." Three more of her co-writes would go Top 10 for Hall & Oates including the #1 "Private Eyes." Sadly, her contributions to Ooh Yeah! would be her last. Janna had leukemia and would pass away in 1993. Sara and Daryl would never marry and would end their relationship in 2001.