Saturday, December 4, 2021

"Early in the Morning" by Robert Palmer

Song#:  3691
Date:  10/22/1988
Debut:  71
Peak:  19
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  Palmer's ninth album Heavy Nova got a significant boost when its first single, "Simply Irresistible" nearly topped the Pop chart peaking at #2. It was an original tune written by Palmer as was "Addicted to Love" (#1 Pop), the first single from his previous album, the double-platinum Riptide. Also like Riptide, Heavy Nova included a couple of cover tunes. Riptide's second single was the Cherrelle cover "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" (#2 Pop). Since that sequence worked out for Riptide, Palmer chose to follow suit with the new album and for a second single pushed out this R&B cover tune. Unfortunately it didn't do as well on the Pop chart stalling just inside the Top 20. It also made a brief appearance on the Rock chart at #40. Still, without a second major hit the album performed well getting to #17 and going platinum.

ReduxReview:  Palmer attempted to replicate the success of his "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" cover with this early-80s gem. He did an admirable job of transforming The Gap Band's electro-funk groove into an R&B-influenced synth-rock jam, however in the end it just wasn't quite as strong or memorable as his Cherrelle cover. The single's Top 20 showing was appropriate. It was a good listen, but the song quickly faded after its chart run and is rarely heard these days. It quickly got overshadowed by Palmer's other big hits.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Gap Band. Their 1982 single would be a big hit at R&B reaching #1. It also crossed over to the Pop chart where it became the band's best effort peaking at #24.  2) In 2021, former Nirvana drummer and front man of Foo Fighters Dave Grohl began a free-form interview series called From Cradle to Stage. For the show, Grohl would interview a prominent musician along with their mother. The show's second episode had Grohl meeting up with Pharrell and his mother Carolyn. During a solo interview segment with Pharrell, Grohl brought up that when he started drumming, his influences were the disco and R&B sounds of the late-70s/early-80. He pointed out The Gap Band as being a particular influence and stated that his drumming in Nirvana, such as on the classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit," was basically lifted from The Gap Band. As an example, he said that the big 1-2 drum beats at the beginning of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was akin to the ones that started The Gap Band's "Early in the Morning."


Friday, December 3, 2021

"My Prerogative" by Bobby Brown

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3690
Date:  10/22/1988
Debut:  78
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  24
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  Brown's lead single and title track to his second album Don't Be Cruel made it to #8 Pop and #6 R&B. It was the song that broke the singer into the mainstream as a solo artist. This next single would then make him a major star. "My Prerogative," written by Terry Riley and Aaron Hall along with Brown, would take off at R&B and reach #1. The week after the song hit the top spot at R&B, it debuted on the Pop chart. It would steadily climb until finally peaking at #1. The tune would also reach #7 at Dance. The single would sell well enough to go gold. It would end up as the #2 single for the 1989 charting year. The hit would then send the album to #1 on the Pop chart in January of '89. It would spend six non-consecutive weeks at the top.

ReduxReview:  Defiant and full of attitude, this grinding new jack classic became Brown's signature song and rightly so. The tune's beat was fierce and there were hooks a-plenty. I wasn't really into Brown at the time, but I did recognize that this was a terrific song and I bought the single. It really should have spent more time at #1, but it got blocked from the top spot by Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." It was easily Brown's best moment and was his biggest hit on the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This was one of the last songs recorded for the LP. After initial sessions with L.A. Reid and Babyface were finished, Brown felt that he needed a tougher song to help set the tone of the album. At the time he was still trying to distance himself from the teen idol/bubblegum R&B of New Edition and he was looking for something that would move him in a more hip and mature direction. He met up with Teddy Riley in New York who had already been working on this track with Aaron Hall. It was what Brown was looking for and he came on board to finish the song. In addition to the tune's aggressive new jack sound, the lyrics were a statement of independence. It addressed Brown's detractors who thought he was crazy to leave New Edition and others who dumped on him for his personal choices. It was sort of a companion piece to Janet Jackson's "Control." The song did its job certifying Brown as a solo star and as a leader in the new jack swing sound.


Thursday, December 2, 2021

"I Remember Holding You" by Boys Club

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  3689
Date:  10/22/1988
Debut:  79
Peak:  8
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  This Minneapolis duo was made up of vocalist Gene Hunt and songwriter/producer Joe Pasquale. Both already had an association with MCA Records and knew each other, so when the idea came about for them to form a duo, they jumped at the chance and were immediately signed by the label. The pair worked up a self-titled debut album and this lead single was issued out. It did a slow climb up the Pop chart until it finally cracked the Top 10. It also did well at AC where the tune made it to #4. A second single, "The Loneliest Heart," was able to make the AC chart at #39, but it failed to make the Pop chart. The album would make it to #93. It was a good start for the duo, but for some reason they chose to part ways. Since their only Pop chart entry was this Top 10, it made them a true one-hit wonder. Hunt would return to his previous group (see below) while Pasquale would attempt a solo career. He released P-R-E-Y on MCA in 1991, but it failed to do anything.

ReduxReview:  These guys were highly influenced by George Michael and Wham! and they certainly wore that love on their sleeves with this song. It really could be called "Careless Whisper, Pt. 2." From the Spanish guitar to the sax solo to the rolling groove to the lyrics, it just seemed to pick up where "Careless Whisper" ended. While it wasn't plagiarism, it was definitely a rip off of Wham!/George Michael's song and sound. Since Wham! was long gone and Michael was doing different things with his solo career, this song sort of filled a void and it paid off in a Top 10 hit. Frankly, I don't remember this song at all. It's rare that I don't remember a Top 10 from the 80s, but this is one. I'm sure I heard it on American Top 40, however it obviously didn't catch my ear. I appreciate that the track was well done, but it sounds too much like an imitation and the real thing was much better.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The Minneapolis family band The Jets was made up of the Wolfgramm siblings. One of the adopted kids into the family, Eugene, sang and played percussion and sax with the band. He would stay with them for their 1985 platinum debut album along with an '86 Christmas LP. Yet it seemed Eugene wanted to be more in the spotlight and not necessarily part of a large family band, so he left the group prior to their second studio album. Having a love for George Michael and Wham!, Eugene thought he wanted to be part of a male pop duo. He changed his name to Gene Hunt and then got teamed up with Joe Pascquale to for Boys Club. After the duo folded, he went back to The Jets and participated in the recording of four new songs for the band's 1990 compilation The Best of The Jets. He left the band once again after that release. These days it seems he resides in Utah and runs his own music consultant business.  2) Boys Club was the first musical guest on a new kids TV show. The All-New Mickey Mouse Club was the second reboot of the original show from the 50s. It began to air in '89 on The Disney Channel and the Boys Club were tapped to be the musical guest on the very first episode. The show would run for five years and it became famous for being the launching pad for three future superstars. Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera were all cast members in the last two seasons of the show. Other famous folks from the cast were Keri Russell and *NSYNC member JC Chasez.


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

"Dancing Under a Latin Moon" by Candi

Song#:  3688
Date:  10/22/1988
Debut:  85
Peak:  68
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Latin Freestyle, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Despite the singular female moniker, Candi was actually a band. The Canadian outfit first started out as a band-for-hire called Sensation with lead singer Candita Pennella. Wanting to be more than just a wedding/event band, they began working up some original material and that along with their live performance experience helped them to get signed to I.R.S. Records. A name change was in order so since Pennella's nickname was Candy, they chose to go by Candi. Work began on a self-titled debut album with songwriter/producer David Shaw. Their first single was the Latin freestyle-tinged "Dancing Under a Latin Moon." It would spend a few weeks in the lower reaches of the Pop chart while also getting to #46 at Dance. A follow-up single, "Under Your Spell," would only manage to reach #39 Dance. With those results, the album would fail to chart. I.R.S. gave them a second opportunity and in 1990 they issued out World Keeps on Turning. For that effort, the band updated their name to Candi & the Backbeat as the singular Candi made it seem like Pennella was a solo artist and they wanted to be recognized as a band. The LP came and went to little notice with only the track "Friends Forever" getting to #38 at Dance. Following the album, the band decided to call it quits. Pennella and the band's drummer, Paul Russo, would later get married. Pennella would then move from the music business to education. It seems she became a high school music teacher in the Toronto area.

ReduxReview:  This song sounds as if DeBarge had recorded a freestyle song with Miami Sound Machine that was produced by Lionel Richie. It has a "Rhythm of the Night"/"Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" feel mixed with a little "All Night Long." The good news is that it worked. The track is fun, nicely produced, and Pennella's voice was a nice fit for it. The bad news is that it got nowhere. It should have easily cracked the Pop Top 40 and even seen some AC action. It makes me wonder if I.R.S. just didn't promote it well enough in the States. The band was on to something with their catchy dance-pop/freestyle songs, but I'm not sure they got a fair shake in the US. Their second album was more sophisticated with "Friends Forever" kind of sounding like a Lisa Stansfield track. While they didn't quite have the right songs to be significant chart contenders, their singles should have done much better and they should have been able to have a longer, better career.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While Candi's success in the US was quite limited, they did much better in their Canadian homeland. They would end up with six Top 40 entries including their only Top 10, the ballad "Love Makes No Promises" (#9). Their songs would end up earning them five Juno nominations as well. Two of those nods went to Pennella for Female Vocalist of the Year. On her second go at the award, Pennella lost the award to a singer that had been a star in Canada for several years, but was just starting to break out in the US and other countries - Celine Dion. It was Dion's first Juno win in that category and the first of a four in a row for her. She would go on to win the award two more times.


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

"Hippy Hippy Shake" by Georgia Satellites

Song#:  3687
Date:  10/22/1988
Debut:  88
Peak:  45
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Southern Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The Satellites made a big splash with their 1986 self-titled debut LP. It hit #5 and went platinum thanks to the #2 Pop/#2 Rock hit "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." By the summer of '88, they were ready to release their second LP Open All Night. The title track would be the lead single and it would do well at Rock getting to #6. Unfortunately, it failed to crack the Pop chart. A second single didn't fare as well and that left the album peaking at #77, which was a far cry from the success of their debut. While recording that follow up LP, the band got the opportunity to contribute a song to a movie soundtrack. For the Tom Cruise vehicle Cocktail, the band recorded "Hippy Hippy Shake." It would end up being the third song from the soundtrack to be issued out as a single following a pair of #1s, Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and The Beach Boys' "Kokomo." The tune would get to #13 on the Rock chart, but stopped just short of the Pop Top 40. By this point in time, the soundtrack album had already gone platinum. By January of '89, it would peak at #2 and reach the 4 million sales mark. This song would end up being the band's last one to reach the Pop chart. They would release a third album in '89 titled In the Land of Salvation and Sin, but it would only get to #130 with its lead single "All Over but the Cryin'" only making the Rock chart at #27. After that result, lead singer/songwriter Dan Baird would depart and the band went on hiatus. They would reunite without Baird in '93 and issued out an indie album in '97.

ReduxReview:  The band's beefy take on the old 50s tune (see below) was a good fit for them and also for the movie. It was a quick blast of sound that was a lot of fun and was perfect to fill in short spots of time on the radio. With the success of the movie and its soundtrack, I was quite surprised this song didn't do better on the Pop chart. It should have easily bounded up into the Top 20, but for some reason it stalled before it could even make the Top 40. It probably didn't help that their second album had come out and pretty much tanked. They lost a lot of casual fans with that result and maybe this one-off track wasn't enough to gain back that audience. Their Southern rock sound wasn't going to keep them on the Pop chart for long anyway, but they should have had a better result with this song.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded in 1959 by Chan (Robert Lee) Romero.  The Montana-born teen wrote the song in L.A. in '58 and got it recorded and released the following year. While the song didn't reach the US or UK Pop chart, it did hit #3 in Australia. The Beatles were fans of the song and they performed it live several times in their early days including once on the BBC in '63. The UK band The Swinging Blue Jeans recorded and released the song late in '63. It would hit #2 in the UK while making it to #24 in the US. Although several other artists covered the song over the years, the version by The Swinging Blue Jeans had been the only one to chart until the Georgia Satellites released their take.  2) After leaving the band, lead singer/songwriter Dan Baird headed out on a solo career. His debut album, Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired, would be released in '92. A song from the LP, "The One I Am," would get to #13 on the Rock chart. Baird would continue to tour and release albums over the years both as a solo artist and with his various bands.


Monday, November 29, 2021

"Got a New Love" by Good Question

Song#:  3686
Date:  10/22/1988
Debut:  94
Peak:  86
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This duo from Philly consisted of brothers Marc and Sean Douglas. Their dance-pop sounds along with their fashionable looks got the attention of Prince's Paisley Park Records who ended up signing the brothers. Typically, Prince would have some involvement with the albums/artists on his label. He would either write/produce tracks or at minimum hand a song over to the artists. However, it seems like the Good Question album was the first on Paisley Park that Prince had no involvement. The duo basically worked up a self-titled debut album themselves along with songwriter/producer Rick Neigher. This first single was issued out and it would catch on in the clubs and reach #1 on the Dance chart. The attention there helped the song cross over to Pop where it hung around the bottom of the chart for just over a month. It also got to #51 R&B. A second singled failed to chart. With those results, the album came and went to little notice and that left the duo off the Paisley Park roster.

ReduxReview:  These guys were like Milli Vanilli before Milli Vanilli came along. Good Question's debut came out just a few months before MV's first single hit it big early in '89. The artists were similar in that each was made up of a duo of good looking guys who were slinging out catchy dance-pop tunes. Of course there was one obvious difference in that Good Question actually wrote and sang their songs. This chugging first single was a pretty good tune that did well in clubs, but for some reason it didn't catch on in a more mainstream way. It wasn't going to be a Top 10 hit, but it could have done better on the chart. In a way, it would have been really interesting if this song became a big hit as it could have set up a rivalry with Milli Vanilli. Alas, I don't think the duo got a lot of promo from Paisley Park and with Prince not having any involvement, the project sort of floundered and flopped. The LP had some hooky, fun tracks, but the lyrics certainly left a lot to be desired. The potential was there, I just think they needed better direction.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Just before the release of their second single "Listen to Your Heart," Good Question made one of their first national TV appearances on the debut episode of a new late night talk/comedy show. Camp Midnite first aired on the USA Network on January 6, 1989. The show, which combined sketches with interviews and musical guests, was a product of Dick Clark Productions and was hosted by Dick Wilson, a radio personality from Kansas City, Missouri. Guests on the first show were John Stamos, Dick Clark, Richard Belzer, Walter Koenig and Cyndi Lapuer (via phone). The musical guest was Good Question. In the brief interview following their performance of "Listen to Your Heart," it was alluded to that the brothers grew up separately and didn't have much contact until after their teen years. Their love of music brought them closer together and they eventually decided to up and leave Philly for L.A. in search of stardom. They got hooked up with Rick Neigher who helped them write songs and get demos together. When those tapes were shopped around, Paisley Park bit and the duo secured a record deal. Camp Midnite did about as well as Good Question. After 26 episodes, the show was cancelled and pretty much faded into obscurity.