Friday, November 26, 2021

"I Don't Want Your Love" by Duran Duran

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3685
Date:  10/15/1988
Debut:  49
Peak:  4
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance-Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  After their second album, 1983's #8 double-platinum Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Duran Duran took a break with members doing other projects. When they got back together for '86's Notorious, the band was pared to a trio. It was sort of a transition effort that got to #12 and went platinum mainly thanks to the title track's #7 showing. For their next LP, the band wanted to keep up with trends and chose to create a work that was a bit more experimental and had dance-pop sounds of the day. It was also an effort to move beyond their teen idol image and make something more mature. Big Thing would be ready by the fall of '88 and this first single would get pushed out. It would do very well in clubs and reach #1 on the Dance chart. The song would debut in the top half of the Pop chart and then proceed to #5 becoming the band's ninth Top 10 hit. Although the single did well, it didn't fully spark sales of the album, which peaked at #24 and only went gold. It was Duran Duran's first album to miss the platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  Prior to this song coming out, I wasn't much of a Duran Duran fan. They sort of lost me with Seven and the Ragged Tiger and I virtually ignored Notorious. However, this single caught my ear and it brought me back on board with the band, if briefly. I thought it was a fun, funky, catchy track and was the best thing they had done since "The Reflex." I think it was the exact tune they needed at the time and it paid off with another Top 10 hit. I liked the song well enough to buy the album. While overall it wasn't a great LP, there were several tracks I enjoyed and I think it is one that is underrated in their catalog and this song still ranks alongside their best singles.

ReduxRating:  8/10

TriviaBig Thing was co-produced by Duran Duran along with Daniel Abraham and Jonathan Elias. Elias had been working as a composer of movie trailer music and advertisements while also writing the scores to a few films. One movie Elias worked on (with score composer John Barry) was the James Bond entry A View to a Kill. Duran Duran would end up supplying that film's theme song, which turned into a #1 hit. It was around that time when Elias befriended the band. During their little hiatus, Elias would work with Duran Duran's John Taylor on a song for the film 9 1/2 Weeks. "I Do What I Do" was co-written by Elias, Taylor, and Michael Des Barres and recorded by Taylor. It would be a #23 Pop single. That led to Elias working on Big Thing. Elias then used his Duran Duran connection for his own 1989 album, Requiem for the Americas: Songs from the Lost World. The concept piece featured members of Duran Duran on several tracks including Simon LeBon writing the lyrics and singing "Follow in My Footsteps." The LP featured other guests including Susanna Hoffs, Toni Childs, Grace Jones, and Michael Bolton. Elias' second solo compositional effort, 1999's The Prayer Cycle, would also featured a list of guest stars including James Taylor, Alanis Morissette, Perry Ferrell, and Linda Ronstadt. His 2004 work, American River, would earn a Grammy nod for Best New Age Album.


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

"In Your Room" by The Bangles

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3684
Date:  10/15/1988
Debut:  73
Peak:  5
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Psychedelic Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The Bangles had been on a roll since releasing their second album, 1986's Different Light. That triple-platinum #2 effort spawned a pair of Pop Top 10 hits including the #1 "Walk Like an Egyptian." They followed the album up with a one-off single from the Less Than Zero soundtrack, "Hazy Shade of Winter," which became their third Pop Top 10 getting to #2. After that hit, the band went back into the studio to record their third LP. For Everything, they chose to work with producer Davitt Sigerson and when completed, this first single was issued out. Written by band member Susanna Hoffs along with hit makers Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, the song took a leisurely climb up the Pop chart finally peaking at #5. The tune would also reach #5 on the Alt Rock chart. It was a good way to kick off the album.

ReduxReview:  This swirling piece of psychedelic pop complete with sitar, tympani, and Middle Eastern-influenced synth-string fills that cascade at the end, was right up my alley. I loved it from the first listen and thought it was their best song to-date. While I'm not sure I'd rank it #1 now, I still absolutely adore the tune. It is a lot of fun and the retro 60s feel to it still rings true. I also like the original video for the song, which played up the tune's psychedelic mood. It was well-written and slickly produced and deserved its Top 10 status.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  One song on Everything was titled "Glitter Years." It was written by band member Michael Steele and David White. It has been mentioned that Steele's inspiration for the song was her days with the all-female band the Runaways. That band was originally formed as a trio in 1975 with Steele, Joan Jett, and Sandy West. Unfortunately, Steele's time in the band was short as she ended up getting fired. Later in '75, the classic lineup of Jett, West, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, and lead singer Cherie Currie was solidified. Since Steele's time in the Runaways was quite brief, it is a little doubtful that "Glitter Years" was about being in the band. The more likely scenario is that the song was a paean to the glitter/glam rock of the late-60s and early-70s, which was typified by such artists as David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and Roxy Music. The song even references some of the fashion from glam rock including the main character Denny being "dressed like a working girl from outer space." Then to top it off, near the end is someone who sounds like Bowie, which points to Steele being inspired by him and other artists of that glam period.


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

"The Way You Love Me" by Karyn White

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3683
Date:  10/15/1988
Debut:  83
Peak:  7
Weeks:  25
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  With her father a musician and her mother a church choir director, it was inevitable that White would pick up on their talents. She started singing in the church choir and then later branched out from there doing talent shows, pageants, and even performing with a local band. In 1984, she secured a backing vocal gig on R&B singer O'Bryan's tour ("The Gigolo," #5 R&B/#57 Pop, 1982). In 1986, she got a significant break when she was hired on to do vocals on three tracks for contemporary jazz artist Jeff Lorber's Private Passion. One of those songs, "Facts of Love," was released as a single and it got to #9 Dance/#17 R&B/#27 Pop. Lorber's label Warner Bros. then decided to give White a shot at a solo career and signed her on. For her self-titled debut LP, White was teamed up with the songwriting/production team of L.A. Reid and Babyface. They would write and produce six tracks for the album including this first single, which was also co-written by Daryl Simmons. The song became a hit at R&B reaching #1. As the tune made its way to the top of that chart, it crossed over to Dance and Pop. Eventually it would peak at #5 Dance while cracking the Pop Top 10. It would also be a minor entry at AC getting to #38. The tune's success on the various charts helped the single sell well and eventually it would go gold. The song would also earn White a Grammy nod for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. It was quite the start for the newly minted solo star.

ReduxReview:  In some ways, L.A. Reid and Babyface took their first steps with Pebbles ("Girlfriend," #1 R&B/#5 Pop) and then took a significant leap forward with Bobby Brown and Karyn White. The pair were quickly perfecting their new jack/dance-pop formula and it paid off well with this first single from White. Not only was it impeccably produced, it was a solid song to boot. It was groovy and catchy with White providing a nice vocal. In addition to the chorus, there were other memorable hooks like the "oh-oh, oh-oh" lines and the halting synth stabs. It probably should have topped the Pop chart, but a Top 10 showing was certainly a win.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After White provided vocals for a few of Jeff Lorber's tracks, he returned the favor when she got to do her own album. Lorber would co-produce two tracks for White's debut album. One track he co-produced with Ian Prince, the other with White herself. The track she co-produced, "Tell Me Tomorrow," White also co-wrote with Evan Rogers and Arnie Roman. White also got a little bit of an assist from her former boss O'Bryan. He would show up to do some backing vocals for the LP.


Monday, November 22, 2021

"Jealous Guy" by John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band

Song#:  3682
Date:  10/15/1988
Debut:  84
Peak:  80
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Six years after John Lennon's death, Yoko Ono sought to get a documentary done about her famed Beatle husband. With producer David L. Wolper and director Andrew Solt, Ono helped to create the 1988 film Imagine: John Lennon. Although others such as Ono and Lennon's children would be interviewed for the film, it was mainly narrated by John Lennon himself through archival footage and interviews. Of course a soundtrack album would be culled and released in conjunction with the film. Using the same title as the movie, the double-LP spanned the career of Lennon from the Beatles through to songs from his Grammy-winning 1980 album with Yoko Ono Double Fantasy. In addition to hits and key album tracks, the LP also included a pair of previously unreleased recordings, however neither of them would be used to promote the album. Instead, this song from Lennon's 1971 album Imagine would be pushed out as a single. It would make it to #22 on the AC chart, but on the Pop chart it could only manage a month near the bottom. The soundtrack album would get to #31 and go gold. The film was well-received and for a documentary performed modestly well at the box office. This single would be Lennon's last solo effort to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  While this song is certainly a classic in Lennon's catalog, it wasn't necessarily the best single candidate, especially in '88. The seventeen-year-old track didn't really sit well next to other pop hits of the day. It kind of sounded like an oldie, which in a way it was. Releasing a well known song that had been out for nearly two decades probably wasn't the best choice, but there was little new, unearthed material coming from the documentary save for a guitar/vocal demo of "Real Love," which was not single material. (Another demo of that tune would be spruced up and released in '96 in conjunction with The Beatles' Anthology 2. The single would reach #11 Pop.) Still, this is a great song that might have done fairly well on the chart back when Imagine first came out, yet it wasn't selected for single release.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While the Beatles were in India in 1968, they heard a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi where he talked about a "son of mother nature." Both Lennon and Paul McCartney were taken by the talk and it inspired each to compose a song. McCartney would come up with "Mother Nature's Son," which would be recorded and placed on The Beatles (aka the White Album). Lennon would write a tune called "Child of Nature." Although he would demo it in '68, he did not pursue it in the sessions for The Beatles. Lennon would record a couple more demos of the song in January of '69, but nothing further happened with the tune. Then when recording songs for his '71 album Imagine, Lennon decided to revive the track. This time around he kept the music, but scrapped the lyrics in favor of new ones. The resulting song became "Jealous Guy" and in the long run it became one of his most covered songs with nearly 100 artists recording their own version of the tune.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

"Yeah Yeah Yeah" by Judson Spence

Song#:  3681
Date:  10/15/1988
Debut:  86
Peak:  32
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Born in Mississippi, this singer/songwriter gave L.A. a try, but it wasn't working for him. He then moved to Nashville and ended up getting paired with Monroe Jones, a songwriter who had some success with a few Christian music artists. It took a bit for the two writers to click, but they soon had a set of pop songs ready to go. A series of showcases were setup for them in the fall of '87 with Spence taking on the lead vocal duties. Several record companies then came calling and after the dust settled, Spence signed on as a solo artist with Atlantic Records. All but one of the songs on the LP would be written by Spence and Jones and produced by the pair with David Tickle (Split Endz, Toni Childs). This first single was released and it would do fairly well nearly cracking the Pop Top 30. A second single didn't chart and that left the LP peaking at a minor #168. An unimpressed Atlantic Records would then take Spence off of their roster.

ReduxReview:  This was a fun pop track with a bluesy/gospel side that was definitely a candidate for the Pop Top 40. The chorus was catchy and was amped up by the call to say "yeah yeah yeah," which was an element that could spruce up any live performance of the tune. It was energetic and Spence certainly gave all in his nearly unhinged vocal. His follow-up single, "Love Dies in Slow Motion" was also a good song, but it really wasn't a good single candidate. He needed something more memorable and better than "Yeah Yeah Yeah" to really break through, but the LP just didn't have that special track and afterward Atlantic lost interest.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although his major label career had come to an end, Spence continued to write and was able to get songs recorded by a few artists. One song that he co-wrote with Tommy Sims was titled "The Power." That tune would get picked up and recorded by two superstar artists. First, Amy Grant recorded the song for her 1994 #13 double-platinum album House of Love. Then later in 1998, Cher would put the song on her #4 quad-platinum album Believe. Neither artist would release the song as a single, but having it appear on a pair of albums that combined sold over six million copies in the US alone most likely made it Spence's most financially successful song.