Saturday, September 25, 2021

"True Love" by Glenn Frey

Song#:  3624
Date:  08/20/1988
Debut:  63
Peak:  13
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Soft Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Ex-Eagle Frey's two biggest solo hits came via soundtrack albums. Both "The Heat Is On" (from Beverly Hills Cop) and "You Belong to the City" (from Miami Vice) would reach the #2 spot in 1985. After those successes, Frey was still looking to score a Pop Top 10 hit from one of his own solo albums (by this point he had released two solo LPs, which generated three Pop Top 20s).  His next attempt would be this lead single from his third solo album Soul Searchin'. While the song would do well at AC (#2) and Rock (#15), it wasn't enough to help the single break into the Pop Top 10. Once again, Frey would be trapped in the Top 20. Unfortunately, it would also be his last time in the Pop Top 40. While the song would help sell some albums, it fared less well than his two previous gold efforts. It would stop at #36 and miss going gold.

ReduxReview:  For his third album, Frey didn't stray from the sounds he established on his first two LPs and that probably didn't do him any favors. It was business as usual and with some fans that was probably fine. However, it seemed that more casual listeners were getting a little tired of the same ol' same ol' and didn't show up to buy the album. This Memphis soul-ish single did little to change up Frey's sound and for the most part it didn't seem to bother a lot of folks with the tune hitting #2 AC and cracking the Pop Top 20. However, it wasn't a smash hit and did little to bring new fans aboard. Frankly, if there existed such a thing, I'd call it a lazy hit. Frey basically cooked up the same dish in the same pan and served it out for yet another dinner. He turned into the musical equivalent of a diner cook slingin' the same hash day after day. That doesn't mean the track is bad; it just didn't bring anything new or different to the table and for the Pop chart in the late 80s, that was not going to satisfy folks for long. I certainly went "meh" and didn't pay much attention to Frey after this.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In '89, a Frey song would once again find its way to a soundtrack album. The tune "Flip City" would be used in the comedy sequel Ghostbusters II. While it was not officially released as a single, it seems a promo was pushed out to rock radio for airplay, but it didn't generate interest and therefore did not chart. The soundtrack (#14, gold) became more known for Bobby Brown's #1 R&B/#2 Pop hit "On Our Own." The film did not perform to expectations. The original Ghostbusters had become the biggest grossing comedy film up to that point and Columbia Pictures was betting on the sequel to do as well or surpass that result. It did not. While not an actual bomb at the box office (in the US it did half the business as the original), critics panned the flick and the studio considered it a failure.


Friday, September 24, 2021

"Another Lover" by Giant Steps

Song#:  3623
Date:  08/20/1988
Debut:  89
Peak:  13
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  This English duo consisted of Colin Campsie and George McFarlane. The pair had actually met in California in 1978 and decided to work together once they returned to England. They formed the band Grand Hotel and got signed to CBS Records in the UK. They released the album Do Not Disturb in 1979, but it didn't get anywhere. The pair then went out as a duo called The Quick and signed with Epic. They would release three albums for the label between '81 and '84, but the only thing that came from them were two Top 20 hits in Australia and three US Dance chart entries including the 1981 #1 "Zulu" (#60 R&B). A fourth LP for A&M tanked. Still looking for bigger success, the duo maintained their relationship with A&M, returned to California, changed up their sound, and began recording as Giant Steps. Working with producer Gardner Cole, they completed the LP The Book of Pride. This first single was released and it ended up doing quite well making it to #10 Dance and #25 AC while getting close to the Pop Top 10. It was a modest hit that sold well, but it didn't do much for sales of the album, which stopped at a very minor 184.

ReduxReview:  Here is one that I completely forgot about even though I own the single! This was another imported British group with a soulful pop sound that wasn't all that different from others like Go West or Breathe. Their sound was in fashion at the time and this sweet sounding single was just right for the US Pop chart. I thought it might scratch the Top 10, but it peaked just short of it. The tune was catchy and groovy enough for me to go out and buy the single. While I did remember the song, it was just one that I hadn't thought about or even seen/heard anywhere in decades, which makes it sort of a lost little gem.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  During their time recording as The Quick, Campsie and McFarlane decided they also wanted to write and produce for other artists. They ended up forming an all-female vocal group that would front their tracks. The subsequent trio would be called Girls Can't Help It and their first single in 1982 was titled "Baby Doll." It didn't get anywhere at home in the UK, but it did become a #7 Dance hit in the US. With that success, a second single and an EP followed. Unfortunately, neither would get anywhere and the trio went their own ways.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

"The Rumour" by Olivia Newton-John

Song#:  3622
Date:  08/20/1988
Debut:  90
Peak:  62
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Newton-John's 1985 album Soul Kiss was a disappointing follow-up to her 1982 #6 double-platinum hit Physical. The LP could only manage to spawn one charting single, the #20 title track, and therefore stalled at #29. It still managed to be certified gold, but that was a big drop from her previous effort. It was a signal that perhaps her hit making days were waning. After a hiatus in which she gave birth to her daughter Chloe, Newton-John got back to the studio to hopefully revive her chart presence. For her fourteenth album, Netwon-John decided not to work with producer John Farrar, who she had been working with since her 1971 debut album. Instead she worked with several producer and the result was The Rumour. The title track would be the first single yet despite a prominent guest vocalist/writer (see below), the song failed to impress. It peaked in the bottom half of the Pop chart while only getting to #33 at AC. A second single didn't chart at all. With those results, the album halted at #67 and didn't get close to gold level sales. While "The Rumour" wouldn't be Newton-John's last time on the Pop chart, it did bring a close to her hit making years, which began in 1971 and consisted of fifteen Pop Top 10 hits including five #1s.

ReduxReview:  Although I kinda liked the Soul Kiss album including its sultry title track, it was a major misstep. She took the whole good-girl-gone-bad thing a step too far and it just didn't work. It was time to get her image back in order and she made an attempt with The Rumour. While the LP had highlights and overall wasn't a bad effort (in fact, I think it is a little underrated), it just didn't have the right material for the Pop chart in '88. I liked this bouncy title track and it had a fun video as well, yet I knew it wasn't going to be a hit. The pairing of the Johns (see below) was a great idea, but the resulting song wasn't going to revive Newton-John's career. I think she needed to go all-in with a hot production/writing team or completely change things up by doing an album of country classics or pop standards. She may not have secured a hit by doing covers, but I think the album would have sold far better. Sadly, The Rumour ended Netwon-John's time in the pop sunshine.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) "The Rumour" came about when Newton-John asked another superstar, Elton John, to write a song for her. Not expecting that he actually would, Elton along with his writing partner Bernie Taupin surprised Newton-John by writing "The Rumour" for her. She liked the song and wanted to record it for her next album. As it happened, Elton thought the song was quite good and offered to produce the track. Newton-John jumped at the chance to work with Elton and they got in the studio right away. In the end, Elton would co-produce the track (with James Newton Howard), play piano, and do background vocals. On paper it seemed like a can't-miss hit, but sadly it was a tune that just couldn't complete with the Whitneys, the Tiffanys, or the Debbies of the day.  2) After The Rumour, Newton-John would leave her long-time label MCA for Geffen. Her 1989 LP Warm and Tender was a concept album that focused on children's lullabies mixed with a few pop standards. It only got to #124 and was her sole LP for Geffen. Then a 1992 hits package titled Back to Basics was released. It featured four new tracks including the singles "I Need Love" (#96 Pop) and "Deeper Than a River" (#20 AC). Her last Pop chart single came in 1998 when she remade her own 1974 #1 hit "I Honestly Love You" for her more country oriented LP Back with a Heart. The remake featured background vocals by Babyface and it would get to #67 Pop and #18 AC. She would continue to record various concept LPs over the years including two of duets with other artists and three Christmas collections (one of them with her ol' Grease pal John Travolta). She also recorded several LPs with themes of hope, healing, and gratitude. These came after her diagnosis and battle with breast cancer in 1992 with several of them benefiting cancer related charities.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

"Indestructable" by The Four Tops

Song#:  3621
Date:  08/20/1988
Debut:  91
Peak:  35
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This superstar R&B vocal quartet had a solid decade of success. From '64 to '74 the group scored twenty-one R&B Top 10s and seven Pop Top 10s, but by the mid-seventies things began to cool down. They had switched labels from their home of Motown to ABC/Dunhill, then to Casablanca, then back to Motown. While they had bright spots along the way like the 1981 #1 R&B/#11 hit "When She Was My Girl," for the most part they floundered. They would leave Motown again after their 1986 LP Hot Nights failed to chart or generate a charting single and sign up with Arista. With label head Clive Davis helping out, the quartet got paired with top-notch songwriters and producers such as Narada Michael Walden. Davis even got other hot artists to lend a hand including Phil Collins and Huey Lewis. While it wasn't fully an all-star affair, the group's album Indestructible certainly had its share of significant assists. This first title track single got a little boost with Smokey Robinson joining in on vocals. While it would be their first single in five years to reach three of the major charts, it didn't become a major hit. The song got to #57 R&B and #20 AC while becoming their last single to crack the Pop Top 40. In fact, it would be their final single to reach the Pop chart. A second single, "If Ever a Love There Was" featuring Aretha Franklin would be their final single at R&B (#31) and AC (#26). A third single, "Change of Heart," failed to chart. The album would top out at #66 R&B/#149 Pop. With those results, the group found themselves off of Arista and without a label. At that point, the quartet chose to focus on live performances and the only other album they would record would be a Christmas effort for Motown in 1995.

ReduxReview:  I'm guessing that the group knew they had one more shot at a significant comeback and put all their eggs in the Arista/Clive Davis basket. At the time I probably would have as well since his track record at reviving careers was going quite well. Unfortunately, Davis didn't hook the group up with a surefire hit. This single was an interesting listen and was appropriate for its Olympic use (see below), but it just wasn't the right material for a big mainstream hit. It sounded a little old-fashioned and even the production was a bit weak for the time. They needed something more along the lines of "Freeway of Love," Aretha Franklin's big breakthrough on Arista. yet they didn't get anything close to that. Still, the track made the Pop Top 40, which was better than what I thought it would do.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The Four Tops were a bit unusual in that they never had a single personnel change for 44 years. Formed by four high school friends in 1953, they remained together throughout their entire recording career and beyond. Unfortunately, in 1997 Lawrence Payton died of cancer. The remaining members moved on performing as just The Tops, but then they brought in a fourth person and became The Four Tops again. More personnel changes would take place over the years, but their initial 44 years of staying together was certainly an impressive accomplishment.  2)  This song was also used as a theme for the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul, South Korea. It one one of several songs used during the US broadcast of the games and it was featured on the soundtrack album, which also contained the #5 Whitney Houston hit "One Moment in Time."  3) Another track on the Indestructible album was "Loco in Acapulco." The song was written and produced by Phil Collins and Lamont Dozier, and was originally recorded for the soundtrack to Collins' crime caper/comedy Buster. While the tune did not get released as a single in the US (although it was the flip side to the non-charting "Change of Heart"), it was issued out in Europe late in '88. The tune ended up doing quite well making the Top 10 in several countries including the UK (#7). Collins also played drums on the track.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

"It Takes Two" by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock

Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  3620
Date:  08/20/1988
Debut:  92
Peak:  36
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Hip-Hop

Pop Bits:  Robert Ginyard, aka Rob Base, and Rodney Bryce, aka DJ E-Z Rock, first began performing in a band when in school together in Harlem. Following graduation, band members went their own ways, but Base and Rock decided to stick together and shoot for a career in music. Their first effort together was a track called "DJ Interview." It appeared on a 1986 indie compilation LP titled Fast Money. The song was credited only to Rob Base, but Rock and Chill Will were credited as co-producers. Next up was a 1987 indie single on the World to World label titled "Make It Hot." Once again it was credit solely to Rob Base with Rock co-producing. The two tracks were enough to get the larger Profile Records interested and they signed on Base and Rock as a duo. The first song they recorded for the label was "It Takes Two." The tune was issued out as a single and it made the R&B chart earlier in '88. By July it had peaked at #17. It would then become popular in clubs and in early September it would peak at #3 Dance. Just before reaching that peak.the single got on the Pop chart and eventually made the Top 40. Although the tune would complete its chart run by the end of the year, the song remained popular and folks kept buying up the single. In February of '89 it would go gold. By the end of '89 it would be platinum. Due to the success of the single, the duo had to quickly get into the studio and record a debut album. Titled after the song, it would be released in the late summer of '88. The LP would peak at #4 R&B and #31 Pop. It would end up being a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  This was a big party tune back in the day. Base and Rock assembled a funky groove through samples adding a couple that were extremely memorable (see below). Frankly, the sampled parts were so strong that they nearly overpower the rap sections. It was expertly done and has been considered one of the best hip-hop tracks of all time. For me it was one of those songs that caused me to awkwardly dance after a couple of cocktails, but it wasn't one that I wanted to hear a lot. For certain times and places, the song works perfectly. Outside of that, I'm okay not hearing it.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Arguably the most memorable parts of this song are the "Whoa!...Yeah!" shouts and the female voice singing "It takes two to make a thing go right, it takes two to make it outta sight." Both were samples take from the 1972 funk tune "Think (About It)" recorded by soul singer Lyn Collins. That song was written and produced by James Brown. It was released as a single and got to #9 R&B/#66 Pop. It would be Collins' biggest hit. The "whoa" (voice of James Brown) and the "yeah" (voice of Bobby Byrd) along with Collins singing the "it takes two" lyric were parts of the drum break within the song. That break helped to make "Think (About It)" one of the most sampled songs in music with reportedly over three thousand tracks featuring portions of the tune. Artists who have used samples from the song include Salt-N-Pepa ("Push It"), Kid Rock ("The Upside"), Janet Jackson ("Alright"), N.W.A., Kanye West, TLC, Snoop Dogg, and Fergie. Collins would only see the R&B Top 10 once and would only release two albums, both produced by James Brown. Her second album in 1975, Check Me Out If You Don't Know Me By Now would feature the #53 R&B single "Rock Me Again & Again &Again & Again & Again & Again (Six Times)" That tune, written by James Brown and Lee Austin, would be covered by the Human League for their 1984 album Hysteria. It was not released as a single.


Monday, September 20, 2021

"Wild, Wild West" by The Escape Club

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3619
Date:  08/20/1988
Debut:  94
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  27
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This British quartet first got together in London in 1983 when members of another band evolved into what became The Escape Club. Not long after solidifying the band, they recorded a one-off indie single titled "Breathing" and then spend the next year or so performing and developing their sound. In 1985 they secured a contract with EMI and recorded a debut album titled White Fields. It went nowhere upon release in '86, but it seems EMI gave them another shot and they recorded a second album. However, EMI didn't like it and it seemed like the album was going to get shelved. But then Atlantic Records scooped up the quartet and their album. Wild Wild West, recorded with producer Chris Kimsey, would be pushed out and the title track was selected to be the first single. It debuted near the bottom of the US Pop chart and slowly started to climb thanks in part to the increasing popularity of the song's video on MTV. It finally reached the #1 spot in its thirteenth week. The tune then remained popular enough to spend an additional fourteen weeks on the chart. It would also get to #3 Alt Rock, #36 Dance, and #45 Rock. Sales were strong for the hit and it would become a gold record. The album would also do well reaching #27 and going gold.

ReduxReview:  I don't mean to be so harsh, but the only word that comes to mind when I think of this song is "stupid." Yet I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. It was a stupid, silly, and annoying ditty that was so damn kooky and catchy that it was really hard to resist. It was different from other pop chart fare, which made it stand out (and the MTV video certainly helped too). I ended up buying the single. The tune was so quirky that I thought for sure the band would be a one-hit wonder, but low-n-behold they would find their way back to the Top 10 later in 1991. This tune with its very dated references is still a fun lark to listen to on occasion. I still find it stupid, but sometimes a little bit o' stupidity can be fun.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Back home in the UK, this single failed to chart. Follow-up singles didn't make any impressions either and therefore the album tanked. The same thing happened with their next albums as well. Because of that, The Escape Club holds a bit of an odd chart record. The are the only British group to have a #1 hit in the US, yet have zero chart entries at home in the UK. While it certainly is an interesting and odd distinction, it was one that the band would probably rather not have.


Sunday, September 19, 2021

"She's on the Left" by Jeffrey Osborne

Song#:  3618
Date:  08/20/1988
Debut:  95
Peak:  48
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Osborne had collected up three consecutive gold albums that generated eight R&B Top 10 hits. His singles would do less well on the Pop chart, but he did manage to earn seven Pop Top 40 entries including his best solo effort, 1986's "You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song)," which reached #13 (#2 R&B/#2 AC). Then in between albums in 1987, Osborne was chosen as Dionne Warwick's duet partner for her single "Love Power." That song would reach #12 at Pop to become Osborne's biggest overall hit on that chart (#5 R&B/#1 AC). Hoping to finally crack the Pop Top 10, Osborne released this first single from his fifth album One Love - One Dream. The song would end up becoming Osborne's first and only #1 on the R&B chart and his third Top 10 at Dance (#6). Unfortunately, the tune stalled on the Pop chart shy of the Top 40. It would end up being Osborne's final single to reach the Pop chart. Despite the song's success at R&B and Dance, the album would stall at #12 R&B (#86 Pop) to become his first to miss the Top 10. It would also fail to reach gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  It was a shame that Osborne wasn't able to crack the Pop Top 10. He had a few singles that should have, such as "Stay with Me Tonight," but for some reason he just couldn't secure enough of a mainstream audience to get him over the line. This was another good tune from Osborne and it got him to the top of the R&B chart, but once again he got overlooked at Pop. The tune may not exactly have been Pop Top 10 material (it needed a stronger, more forceful hook), but it should have easily made the Top 40, if not the Top 20. Osborne's brand of pop/AC soul would lose favor as the 90s, so this really was his last gasp at getting that one big crossover hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After five albums with A&M Records, Osborn would move over to Arista for his sixth effort, 1990's Only Human. It would return him to the R&B Top 10 (#9) thanks to the #3 R&B title track along with another Top 20 entry. However, that apparently wasn't enough for Arista and is seems Osborne was left without a contract. Save for a 1997 Christmas album, Osborne wouldn't put out a new studio album until 2000. He would continue to record and tour over the years and in 2018 would release his eleventh studio album Worth It All. The LP featured the #12 AC title track.