Tuesday, August 16, 2022

"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel

Song#:  3903
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  87
Peak:  41
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock,  Soundtrack


Pop Bits:  In '86, Gabriel hit #1 with "Sledgehammer," the first single from his album So. For a follow-up, the track "In Your Eyes" was issued out. It would perform fairly well at Pop reaching #26. It would do far better at Rock where it got to #1. That might have been it for the song, but then filmmaker Cameron Crowe sought Gabriel's permission to use the tune for his teen rom-com Say Anything... The movie starred John Cusack and Ione Skye and Gabriel's song was to be used for a pivotal scene. Following the film's mid-April of '89 release, it received mixed-to-positive reviews and did just okay at the box office. However, the scene that used Gabriel's song got a lot of attention and it sparked new interest in the track. The single got reissued and it would end up back on the Pop chart. On its second run, the song nearly made the Top 40 for a second time, but halted just shy at the dreaded #41 spot. The film's soundtrack album would end up getting to #62. Say Anything... would gain a bigger audience after its initial theater run and the Romeo and Juliet-style balcony scene where Cusack's character holds a boombox over his head that is blasting Gabriel's song has become an iconic film moment. The song has remained popular enough over the years that in 2005 the digital version of it would earn Gabriel a gold record.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song when it first came out, but it didn't quite catch on in a big way. So when the tune got attention due to its use in Say Anything..., I was happy that it was getting a new lease on life. But who could have predicted that it and the scene would become so iconic? The two will be tied together forever and that's not a bad thing. The song continues to be popular and has become one of Gabriel's most recognizable tunes. Just the fact that in the new digital age it would go gold says quite a bit. To-date, no other songs from Gabriel has achieved that feat. Props have to go to Cameron Crowe for selecting the song and making it work so well in the film.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Gabriel's song wasn't Cameron's first choice for the scene. Initially he had wanted to use Billy Idol's 1986 #6 hit "To Be a Lover." But after pairing the song with the scene, Cameron realized that it didn't really work. Needing a new tune, Cameron just happened to be listening to a tape from his wedding and Gabriel's song popped up. That spurred him to reach out to Gabriel for permission to use it in the film. Apparently, folklore has it that Gabriel wanted to see a cut of the film before giving the go-ahead. He was sent a copy and after seeing the rough cut, thought it would be fine, but in talking with Crowe he was concerned about the main character's overdose at the end. It was then that they discovered Gabriel was sent a copy of the John Belushi biopic Wired instead of Say Anything...  2)  After a six-year absence, Gabriel returned in 1992 with his follow-up to So, the equally short titled Us. It would reach #2 and go platinum despite not having a significant Pop chart hit. The best result from the LP was the #32 "Steam" (#2 Rock, #1 Modern Rock). It also featured the #1 Rock/#1 Modern Rock hit "Digging in the Dirt," which could only get to #52 Pop. It would be a decade before Gabriel would release a new studio album (2002's Up, #9).

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Monday, August 15, 2022

"Yo Ne Sé" by Pajama Party

Song#:  3902
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  91
Peak:  75
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Latin Freestyle


Pop Bits:  This Brooklyn-based female vocal trio was assembled by producer/songwriter Jim Klein along with his co-writer Peggy Sendars. Klein got involved in the new Latin freestyle sound and decided to put together a female vocal group to front his productions; not unlike producers/writers behind groups like Exposé. He and Sendars wrote a set of songs and hired on Jennifer McQuilkin, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Suzi Ranta to provide the vocals. The new trio would get signed to Atlantic Records and to test the waters out, this debut single would get issued out early in '89. It would peak at #34 on the Dance chart the last week of March. That interest led Atlantic to push the single further at pop stations and it was finally able to crack the Pop chart in mid-May. Although it would spend two-and-a-half months on the chart, it couldn't quite get out of the bottom quarter. Still, that seemed to be enough for Atlantic to green light a full album, which would be released later in the fall along with a second single.

ReduxReview:  This tune wasn't all that different from other freestyle singles of the day. It was nicely produced and had a catchy chorus. The trio's voices were a bit stronger than some of their competition, which gave them a boost. And although it was only the title, it was nice to have some Spanish lyrics included in the Latin freestyle. This song should have been able to crack the Top 40, but a bit of a lengthy rollout kept it floundering near the bottom of the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Although she had some success with Pajama Party, group member Daphne Rubin-Vega would have better success on the Broadway stage. She would originate the role of Mimi in the 1996 Tony-winning musical Rent. Rubin-Vega was one of only two cast members who had their roles in the 1994 workshop version of the musical and was able to keep their roles when the show moved to Broadway. The role would earn Rubin-Vega a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. She would stay with the show for a year. She would earn a second Tony nod in 2004 for her work in the Broadway play Anna in the Tropics. Rubin-Vega would go on to do more stage work along with appearing in films and on TV. She would appear in the 2021 film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winning musical In the Heights.

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Friday, August 12, 2022

"So Alive" by Love and Rockets

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3901
Date:  05/20/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  3
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Alternative Rock


Pop Bits:  This English outfit consisted of three former members of the cult goth rock band Bauhaus. After Bauhaus split in '83, its members worked on other projects including solo efforts and a short-lived band called Tones on Tail. Then in '85, Bauhaus members Daniel Ash, David J, and Kevin Haskins got together and formed Love and Rockets. They were quickly signed to Beggars Banquet and that same year issued out a debut album. It didn't get much attention, but their next two LPs found their way to the US Album chart thanks to a couple of Rock chart entries including '87's "No New Tale to Tell" (#18). Then in '89 they would issue out a self-titled album that found the band moving in a more radio-ready, alt rock direction. Its first single, "Motorcycle," would reach #20 at Modern Rock, but then this next single would quickly shove the band into the limelight. "So Alive" would take off and reach #1 at Modern Rock and #9 Rock. That attention helped the song get on the Pop chart and eventually it would make it all the way up to #3. The tune also got to #20 Dance. That unexpected success spurred album sales and it would get to #14 and go gold.

ReduxReview:  This was a dark, cool, sexy, groovy tune that was catchy and hard to ignore. Daniel Ash's suave and slightly naughty vocal delivery did a lot to sell the tune. The subdued arrangement with the "Walk on the Wild Side"-style background vocals was spot on for the track. It was definitely the band's most commercially viable single and it certainly made a mark.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  While Love and Rockets scored a big hit and were popular in their heyday, Bauhaus were arguably more influential and had a longer lasting impact. Formed in 1978, the band consisted of the three Love and Rocket members along with lead singer Peter Murphy. Their dark, industrial, gloomy, post-punk sound would make them pioneers in what would become known as goth rock. The roots of the genre stretched back to artists like David Bowie and The Velvet Underground, but it wouldn't be until the late 70s that goth rock would start to carve out its own place in music. Although artists like Siouxsie & the Banshees and Joy Division had works that contained the building blocks of goth rock, the 1979 debut single by Bauhaus, "Bela Lugosi's Dead," has widely been considered ground zero of the genre with the band's 1980 album In the Flat Field considered the first true goth LP. Bauhaus would do well in their native UK and even grab a #4 album with 1982's The Sky's Gone Out. After a 1983 album, Bauhaus would break up. During their initial run, none of the band's albums charted in the US. They remained a cult group with only one song reaching any chart; 1981's "Kick in the Eye" got to #29 Dance. Bauhaus would gain a bit of recognition in 1983 when they appeared as a band in a nightclub scene in the horror film The Hunger. They would perform "Bela Lugosi's Dead." The movie, which starred Susan Sarandon and David Bowie would do okay at the box office, but would later become a cult flick, especially within the goth community. Peter Murphy would have a successful solo career after Bauhaus. He would even score a #55 US Pop/#1 Modern Rock/#10 Rock hit in 1990 with "Cuts You Up." It was taken from his album Deep (#44).

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Thursday, August 11, 2022

"Send Me an Angel '89" by Real Life

Song#:  3900
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  72
Peak:  26
Weeks:  16
Genre:  New Wave, Synthpop


Pop Bits:  This Aussie band scored an international hit in 1983 with "Send Me an Angel," the first single from their debut album Heartland. It would reach the Top 10 in several countries including Germany where it got to #1. In the US, the tune was just able to make the Top 30 (#29) while getting to #18 Rock. The album sold a few copies and got to #58. Their next album, '85's Flame, would fizzle even at home in Australia. Finding themselves at a bit of a crossroads, the band signed on with Curb Records in the US and recorded a few new tracks that would be combined with some previous recordings for '86's Down Comes the Hammer. Singles from the LP failed to chart and it left Real Life in limbo. Then thanks to the recent resurgence of older songs getting back on the chart at the time, Curb decided to push out a new mix of the band's first hit. With the updated title "Send Me an Angel '89," the song caught on in clubs and it would end up hitting #5 on the Dance chart. That action helped get the song on the Pop chart and it ended up peaking three notches higher than the original single. Curb quickly assembled a compilation by the same name as the new mix of the single, but it wouldn't chart.

ReduxReview:  This was a song that was just right for a revival. It wasn't a huge hit on its initial run and with bands like Depeche Mode making waves, this dark synthpop track fit right in. The new mix gave the right amount of boost to make the song sound more current and modern. Again, it really should have done better on the chart, but the fact that it made the Top 30 for a second time was a cool accomplishment.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The renewed interest in Real Life prompted Curb to order a new album from the band. In 1990, they would release Lifetime. It's first single, "God Tonight," would be another hit at Dance reaching #9. It also was able to get to #15 at Modern Rock. A second single, "Kiss the Ground," would get to #27 Dance. Neither of them would make the Pop chart and the album would also fail to chart. After that, the band would go on an extended break. Various lineups would later get together to record and do tours.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

"Crazy About Her" by Rod Stewart

Song#:  3899
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  74
Peak:  11
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock


Pop Bits:  Stewart's fifteenth studio album Out of Order would be his best selling of the 80s reaching the double-platinum mark. It got there thanks to a pair of #12 Pop singles along with the #4 "My Heart Can't Tell Me No." To keep up momentum, this fourth single was lifted from the LP. It would nearly crack the Top 10 stopping at the dreaded #11 spot. With that result, Out of Order became Stewart's first and only album to generate four Pop Top 20 hits. A fifth single was not released, however the album track "Dynamite" did get enough airplay to reach #16 at Rock.

ReduxReview:  After "My Heart Can't Tell Me No," the label kind of needed to release a follow up and this track was selected. There wasn't much left on the LP that made for a good single candidate and this one was probably the right pick. It had a sort of Stones "Miss You" meets The Power Station kind of groove and a hooky chorus. Still, I didn't think it would even crack the Top 40. It just didn't sound like a hit to me, yet it nearly made the Top 10. However, the song certainly didn't have lasting impact. It kind of came and went and then stayed away. A lot of Stewart hits have continued to get airplay, but this is one you just never hear, which is kind of appropriate as it wouldn't get close to being on a list of Stewart's best singles.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  For Out of Order, Stewart would record a version of the old blues standard "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Composed by Jimmie Cox in 1923, the song would later become most associated with singer Bessie Smith. Her 1929 version would be a major hit. Oddly, the record was released just a few weeks prior to the Wall Street market crash of 1929, which was a catalyst of The Great Depression. The only artist to reach the Pop chart with a version of the song was in 1960 when Nina Simone got to #93 (#23 R&B). Stewart had covered several rock, soul, and blues tunes for his albums over the years, but in 2002 he would go all-in on recording a full album of oldies. It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook would be an unexpected game changer for Stewart. His previous two albums had sold poorly and it seemed like Stewart's career as a viable recording artist might be over after 33 years. But then he signed on with J Records, Clive Davis' new label after being pushed out from Arista. Davis had great success helping to revive Santana's career with 1999's Grammy-winning Supernatural and had thoughts about getting Stewart back on track. Yet instead of pairing Stewart with young, hip singers and writers, Davis suggested a covers album. Instead of doing something like a 60s throwback, Stewart wanted to sing the old standards he knew via his parents. He worked with producers Phil Ramone and Richard Perry and came up with It Had to Be You. The album became an unexpected hit reaching #4 and going triple-platinum. Stewart would also received a Grammy nod for the work. The success kicked of a string of cover albums for Stewart that would all make the Top 10. He would release five volumes of The Great American Standards along with an album of soul covers and one of rock covers. His 2004 LP Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III would hit #1, go platinum, and earn Stewart his first and to-date only Grammy win. The LP would win for Best Traditional Pop Album. The other four LP's in Stewart's standards series would be nominated in the same category.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

"Fascination Street" by The Cure

Song#:  3898
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  77
Peak:  46
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Alternative Rock


Pop Bits:  This English band headed up by Robert Smith broke through in a bigger way in the US with their seventh studio album, 1987's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. It would be a #35 platinum seller that featured their first Pop Top 40 single, the #40 "Just Like Heaven." Following a supporting tour and a small lineup change, Smith and the band got back in the studio to record their next album Disintegration. While other territories including the UK would see the track "Lullaby" as the LP's first single, in the US the label chose to release "Fascination Street" instead. It would become the band's first and only song to hit #1 on the Modern Rock chart. It would stay in that spot for seven weeks. The song would also get to #7 Dance and #24 Rock. On the Pop chart, the song performed fairly well, but stopped shy of the Top 40 mark. Although the album would quickly reach its peak of #12 and go gold, it would be a steady long-long tail seller thanks to a second single that would be the band's peak moment on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This is a rare single where the opening is quite long. Smith's vocal doesn't start until about 1:20 into the tune for the single mix (2:24 on the album version). For the majority of pop singles, by that point in the record you've usually already heard the first verse and the chorus. Prior to this, I think one of the longest intros on a single in the 80s was Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin" (#9 Pop) which at 45 seconds seems short compared to this Cure tune. I'm sort of surprised the record label didn't do more editing to shorten the intro for the single mix. I thought it was kind of an odd choice for a single, but it actually did okay nearly cracking the Pop Top 40. Smith was in a depressed state during the writing and making of Disintegration and it showed with the tunes reaching back to the darker sounds of The Cure's earlier albums. It think it came along at the right time and alt rock folks along with others ate it up. This grooving, droning track was certainly a highlight.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  It seems that this song getting selected by the band's US representative label Elektra might have been two-fold. One story told is that the folks at Elektra didn't like the song "Lullaby," which was chosen for the first single in the UK and other territories (it would prove to be the band's biggest hit at home reaching #5). Also a factor was that "Fascination Street" was included on the soundtrack to a US indie film that was being released around the same time. The song was used in the film Lost Angels. The drama starred Donald Sutherland along with Beastie Boys member Adam Horovitz (aka Ad-Rock). The movie didn't do much business at the box office and the soundtrack album failed to chart.

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Monday, August 8, 2022

"We Can Last Forever" by Chicago

Song#:  3897
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  84
Peak:  55
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Soft Rock


Pop Bits:  The band's Chicago 19 album would reach #37 and go platinum thanks to a trio of Pop Top 10 hits including the #10 Pop/#9 AC "You're Not Alone." All three songs were written by outside writers as was their first post-Peter Cetera Top 10, the #3 "Will You Still Love Me." For the fourth single from 19, a tune co-written by one of the band members, Jason Scheff (with John Dixon), would be selected for release. Scheff would also handle lead vocal duties. The ballad didn't catch on as well as the band's three previous hits and it stalled short of the halfway point at Pop while missing the AC Top 10 at #12.

ReduxReview:  This power ballad sat just fine alongside their others that became hits, but it just wasn't as memorable. It was hard to keep up with a pro songwriter like Diane Warren who penned two of the previous ballad hits including the #1 "Look Away." Her tunes had choruses that invaded your brain and were hard to shake. Whether you liked the songs or not, you knew them. Scheff and Dixon gave it the ol' college try with this song, but fell short. It was not a bad tune; it just didn't have staying power. After listening it to it several times in a row, an hour later I couldn't remember a bar of it. The production was a bit overwhelming too. High harmonies, crashing guitars, horns, and lots of echo nearly buried the song. By this point in time, I was done with the power ballads continually pushed out by Chicago. Those tunes became their bread 'n' butter at the time so I can understand why they kept sloggin' them out, but I had grown weary of them. The band had one more left in the tank, which thankfully brought a close to this odd era of Chicago.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Apparently, the band had intended to record a version of the Otis Redding song "I Can't Turn You Loose" for the album, but ultimately that didn't happen. However, they did perform the song as part of their encores during their supporting tour at the time. Redding wrote the song and his original recording of it was issued out in 1965 as the b-side to "Just One More Day" (#15 R&B/#85 Pop). However, the tune did well enough to make the R&B chart where it topped out at #11. The opening riff of the song would later become famous as the opening theme for The Blues Brothers (John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd) during their concerts and on their 1978 #1 live album Briefcase Full of Blues. In 1968, the psychedelic soul group The Chambers Brothers would record the song and their version would reach #37 on the Pop chart. It was the follow up to their biggest hit, the #11 "Time Has Come Today."

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Saturday, August 6, 2022

"I Like It" by Dino

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3896
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  7
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Dance-Pop, New Jack Swing


Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Dino's debut album, 24/7, had hit an initial peak of #127 on the Pop chart. It got there thanks to the title track second single getting to #42 Pop/#12 R&B. The results were not bad, but they were not great either. Dino needed a bigger hit to turn the album around and the label ended up giving this third single a try. It ended up being the right choice. After a slow three month climb up the Pop chart, the song finally cracked the Top 10. It would also do well at Dance getting to #3 while getting to #25 R&B. The single's lengthy run boosted sales and it would eventually go gold. The hit helped the album rebound and by the end of August it would reach a new peak of #34. By the fall it would be certified gold.

ReduxReview:  While I preferred the more sultry "24/7," this new jack track was quite well done and was even more radio friendly. It had a memorable chorus and the production was nice and punchy. With new jack catching on more, this tune was bound to be a hit. There's not a lot of depth or uniqueness to Dino's voice, but he carries the song just fine. It was lucky he came up with this track for the album, otherwise it might have disappeared after the second single and he might not have been able to record a follow-up.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Dino, aka Dino Esposito, would later have a song he wrote appear in a hit film and on its soundtrack album. Dino would write, produce, and play nearly all the instruments on the song "Watch Me Shine." However, he did not do the vocals. That job went to singer Joanna Pacitti. Pacitti began to pursue a career in pop music in her teens. She had some pro experience already under her belt when she starred in the 20th anniversary touring revival of the Broadway show Annie. A few years later, she got the attention of A&M Records who signed her on. One of her first tasks was to record "Watch Me Shine" for the soundtrack to the film Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon. It would not released as a single, but thanks to the film becoming a hit, the soundtrack would squeak onto the chart at #171. Pacetti would do a few more soundtrack songs, but was never able to record an album for A&M. She would then sign on with Geffen and finally record her 2006 debut album This Crazy Life. Its first single, "Let It Slide," would not chart. The album failed to make the Pop chart, but it did get on the Heatseekers Album chart at #31. She ended up off the Geffen roster the following year. In 2009, Pacetti would audition for American Idol. She would pass the initial audition and make it through three rounds of the Hollywood auditions. However, after passing the third round, Pacetti was disqualified and left the show. It seems that the person who helped get her signed to A&M became an exec at 19 Entertainment, the company that produced American Idol. Pacetti's relationship with the exec and another at 19 was against the rules and she was disqualified. In 2010, Pacetti would be the lead singer for the short-lived alternative rock band City (Comma) State.

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Friday, August 5, 2022

"I Want It All" by Queen

Song#:  3895
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  50
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rock


Pop Bits:  After Queen's 1986 gold-selling LP A Kind of Magic, the band took a little break to do other projects. During that time, members Brian May and Freddie Mercury were experience personal issues. For May it was a divorce. For Mercury, it was his AIDS diagnosis, which was kept private at the time. Despite everything, the band continued on and in '88 got back into the studio to work up their next album The Miracle. It would take a year to record and in the spring of '89 this first single would be issued out. It would become a hit in the UK (#3) and make the Top 10 in many countries. In the US, the track would do well at Rock getting to #3, but it didn't fully catch fire in a more mainstream way and the single stopped at the halfway point on the Pop chart. Further singles would not reach any US chart. With those results, the album would get to #24 and fail to reach the gold level sales mark. It was their first regular studio album to miss going at least gold since their 1974 second album Queen II. This single would also be the band's final regular release to make the Pop chart (barring a pair of charting reissues and a live track - see below).

ReduxReview:  I remember hearing this when it came out and liking it, but not enough to buy the single or invest in the album. I hooked into it a bit more later on when diving into the band's Greatest Hits series. It was a good arena rocker with a strong, demanding chorus. I also liked the dreamy pop bridge that provided a cool break in between all the cascading guitars. Then all hell breaks loose when it goes into double-time later in the song. It really should have done a lot better on the chart, but with glam metal being the rock flavor of the day on pop radio, this more intense track didn't attract the kids. I did buy the band's next LP Innuendo and enjoyed it quite a bit. There were some gems on it including the dramatic "The Show Must Go On," which was the album's last track and and emotional one following Mercury's death.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although Freddie Mercury's health was in severe decline, the band was able to record their fourteenth studio album Innuendo. It would be released in February of '91. Although no singles made the Pop chart, four made the Rock Top 40 including the #3 "Headlong" and that helped the album get to #30 and go gold. In late November of '91, Freddie Mercury would pass away. A few years later, the remaining band members would collaborate on a new album where they were able to take previously recorded vocals by Mercury and rework them into new tracks. The resulting LP, Made in Heaven, would be issued out in 1995. It would get to #58 in the US and go gold. In the UK, it became a #1 multi-platinum hit. No other studio album of new material has been released under the singular Queen name since.  2) Queen had an unexpected resurgence in 1992 thanks to a film. The Mike Myers/Dana Carvey SNL skit based comedy flick Wayne's World became a major success and Queen's 1975 #9 hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" gained a new generation of fans thanks to its prominent use in the film. It got so much attention that the single was reissued and it would chart again. This time around, the song would best its original peak and get to #2. Thanks to the song's success, 1977's "We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions" would also get a reissue, but it would only get to #52. Queen would make the US Pop chart one last time via a live track. At a Freddie Mercury tribute concert held in 1992, Queen would perform "Somebody to Love" (#13, 1976) with George Michael taking on the lead vocal. It would be released as a single and make it to #30.

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Thursday, August 4, 2022

"Now You're in Heaven" by Julian Lennon

Song#:  3894
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  93
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock


Pop Bits:  Lennon made a mark for himself with his 1984 debut album Valotte. It would be a #17 platinum seller thanks to a pair of Pop Top 10 hits including the #5 "Too Late for Goodbyes." His second album, '86's The Secret Value of Daydreaming, wouldn't do as well, but it was able to reach #32 and go gold. It would take Lennon three years to release his third album Mr. Jordan. The effort would be produced by Patrick Leonard (Madonna) and this first single would be issued out. The track would do well at Rock becoming his second #1 on that chart. It also got to #12 Dance and #27 Modern Rock. However, the tune just couldn't catch a break at Pop and it fizzled at the same position that it debuted. A second single, "Listen," would only get to #31 Rock. With those results, the album would halt at #87 and fail to reach the gold mark. The album and singles would mark the last time that Lennon would be on the US charts.

ReduxReview:  On Lennon's first album, his voice bore a striking resemblance to his father's and some of the songwriting leaned that way as well. Lennon sort of continued that on his second album, but I guess by the time he was ready to do the third he wanted to make an effort to step away from those comparisons. So instead of sounding like his dad, Lennon oddly chose to pattern his voice after David Bowie. He sang in a lower register, added inflections, and altered his delivery. The change is very evident on this first single. Right from the opening phrase, Lennon's new adapted voice sounded like a Bowie imitation. The song itself was very Bowie-esque. I actually don't mind the song, but my question is...why? Lennon it seems wasn't all that happy being constantly compared to his father, so instead of finding his own style/voice, he chooses to imitate another artist. That doesn't make sense to me. He just traded one comparison for another. It was a very strange change of direction and besides this song hitting #1 at Rock, it didn't really work. I completely understand that it is very difficult to crawl out from the shadows of a legendary parent, but others found their own voice and did it. Even Lennon's half-brother Sean did well in establishing his own sound in solo works and bands like Cibo Matto. Julian, however, just couldn't fully find the sun.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song contains a vocal snippet taken from a classic film. The voice of actor Robert Montgomery can be heard saying "I've never seen anything as beautiful as that, even in heaven." The dialog was from the 1941 fantasy rom-com Here Comes Mr. Jordan and the item of beauty he was describing was actress Evelyn Keyes. The film was a success and would receive seven Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture. It would win two awards for Best Screenplay and Best Original Story. The script was based on the 1938 play Heaven Can Wait. That play would also serve as the basis for another Oscar nominated film of the same name. Warren Beatty and Elaine May would adapt the story for 1978's Heaven Can Wait. That film was also a hit and would be nominated for nine Oscars including Best Picture. It would only win won for Best Art Direction. Obviously, Lennon's album was named after the 1941 film.  2) Lennon's next album, 1991's Help Yourself, would flop in the US. However, it would be Lennon's biggest success in Australia. It would be a #5 gold seller thanks to the #1 platinum selling hit "Saltwater." That single would also do well in the UK reaching #6 with the album topping out at #42. To-date, Lennon has only released two other solo albums neither of which sold well. In between time Lennon has kept himself busy working on films, photography, and books. He has had success in each medium including a trio of children's books that were all New York Times best-sellers.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

"Once Bitten, Twice Shy" by Great White

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3893
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  5
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal


Pop Bits:  The band's 1987 third album Once Bitten became a #23 platinum seller thanks mainly to a pair of #9 Rock hits including the power ballad "Save Your Love" (#57 Pop). For their follow-up, ...Twice Shy, the band stayed the course with band members producing all the tracks and writing all but two of them. One of those exceptions was this cover tune, which served as the LP's first single. It would catch on at Rock getting to #6. The song would cross over to the Pop chart where it would debut near the bottom. The tune then clawed its way up the chart until finally cracking the Top 10 three months later. It hung around for a long while and that longevity helped sell record and the single would eventually go gold. The album would then reach #9 and quickly go gold. By the time this song peaked, the LP would be platinum. By the fall, it would be double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  With the title of their first album Once Bitten, it was kind of obvious that ...Twice Shy would follow and this song would be covered. It was actually a great decision. With the original not charting in the US (however, it was a rock radio staple of sorts), Great White had the opportunity to introduce the song to a larger audience. The band does a nice job with the song nailing Hunter's boogie rock feel while boosting up the arrangement with charging guitars and big drums. It was a solid glam metal cover and it eventually hooked a big audience. It would end up being Great White's peak moment..

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song written and originally recorded by former Mott the Hoople lead singer Ian Hunter. His version was the first single from his 1975 self-titled debut solo album. It was a #14 hit in the UK. Although the song would not reach a US chart, the LP itself would get to #50. As a solo artist, Hunter would only get one single on the US Pop chart. In 1979, Hunter would reach #68 with "Just Another Night." The associated album You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic would reach #49. That album featured two Hunter compositions that would later become famous. First, the track "Ships" would get covered in '79 by Barry Manilow. It would be released as a single and get to #9 Pop and #4 AC. Second, the track "Cleveland Rocks" would get covered by the band The Presidents of the United States in 1997. Their version would be used as the opening theme song to the hit TV sitcom The Drew Carey Show when it entered its third season.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

"(Between A) Rock and a Hard Place" by Cutting Crew

Song#:  3892
Date:  05/13/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  77
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Pop, Rock


Pop Bits:  This English band's debut album, 1986's Broadcast, ended up being a #16 gold seller thanks to a pair of Pop Top 10 hits including the #1 "(I Just) Died in Your Arms." They would also earn a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. That set them up quite well for their second album, which normally follows quickly after a major success, but then...crickets. It seems the band had done their job and recorded tracks, but for whatever reason the label and its A&R department kept stalling on working up the album and getting it released. By the time the label decided to push out their new album The Scattering, nearly two and a half years had gone by since "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" became a hit. This first single would be pushed out from The Scattering, but it failed to catch on. It would stall at #41 Rock while not able to get out of the basement of the Pop chart. A second single, "Everything but My Pride," would do well at AC getting to #4, but it failed to make the Pop chart. The track "The Last Thing" would make it to #17 AC and become the band's last song to make a US chart. The results left the album halting at a disappointing #150. The band would push a third album in '92 titled Compus Mentus, but it failed to do anything and quickly disappeared along with their recording contract. Cutting Crew would call it a day in '93.

ReduxReview:  Much of the blame for Cutting Crew's demise is placed squarely on the shoulders of the label and their lack of support and decision to keep delaying the release of the album causing a loss of momentum for the band. While that was definitely valid, I don't think it was the only reason. For me the biggest issue was that the band just didn't have a surefire hit like "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" on the LP. There were some good tracks, but none that were pop radio ready. Whether it was two years or two days between albums, I think the results would have been the same. This single, while a good song, just didn't grab your attention like "Died" or even their overlooked single "One for the Mockingbird" (#38) and it pretty much brought the band's progress to a screeching halt. 

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  In 1996, Cutting Crew's lead singer and songwriter Nick Van Eede got an opportunity to possibly front a legendary band. Van Eede auditioned to be the lead singer for Genesis following the departure of Phil Collins. A handful of vocalists were giving a shot and Eede was one of them. Ultimately, the remaining two members of Genesis selected Ray Wilson for the spot. The new trio would make one album, 1997's Calling All Stations. It would do well in the UK getting to #2, but in the US it was a flop stopping at #54 with no singles making the Pop chart. It would end up being the last studio album put out under the Genesis name.

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Monday, August 1, 2022

"Satisfied" by Richard Marx

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3891
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  39
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock


Pop Bits:  Marx's 1987 self-titled debut album became a triple-platinum #8 hit thanks to four Top 3 hits including the #1 "Hold on to the Nights." With such a success came the pressure to record a follow-up that would do just as well. After a lengthy tour, Max went into the studio and came out with Repeat Offender. It not only performed well, but would end up surpassing his debut in both peak position and sales. To help kick off the LP, this first single was issued out. It would debut inside the Pop Top 40 and eight weeks later would hit #1. It would also get to #5 at Rock. With that result, Marx was definitely on his way to beating the dreaded sophomore slump.

ReduxReview:  It was odd that the fourth single from Marx's debut album became his biggest hit to-date hitting #1. Usually, the label will try to follow it up with another single, but I think they realized that there wasn't another surefire hit on the LP and decided to call it good. It was a smart move and it set Marx up for success with this single. People were anxious for a new tune from Marx and having this rocker come on the heels of a hit ballad was the right choice. It was an exciting intro to the new album. The song had solid hooks and it played well on radio. Honestly, I had kind of forgotten about this track. It is one you rarely hear. Marx's ballad hits seem to be the ones getting the most attention, but he was able to pen some good commercial rockers along the way and this was one.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although Marx was a solo recording star now, that didn't mean he wasn't still writing tunes for other artists. As a composer, Marx would earn a couple of hits in between his two albums. In '88, he would supply (with Fee Waybill) "Edge of a Broken Heart" for Vixen (#26 Pop). Then in '89, his co-write with Ross Vanelli, "Surrender to Me" would become a #6 hit for Ann Wilson and Robin Zander. Marx would also co-write a couple of songs with Paul Anka that Anka would record. Marx would also co-write a song with his wife Cynthia Rhodes that would be recorded by her group Animotion for their '89 self-titled album (the second line-up of Animotion, not the original group who hit with "Obsession").

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Saturday, July 30, 2022

"I Drove All Night" by Cyndi Lauper

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3890
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  60
Peak:  6
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop


Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Lauper had two multi-platinum albums to her credit along with seven Pop Top 10 hits. Everyone was waiting to hear what the mistress of quirk would do with her next album and in the spring of '89 Lauper gave them A Night to Remember. This first single kicked things off and it would go on to become her eighth Pop Top 10. It also made a brief appearance at AC getting to #43. While the song would prove to be a memorable hit for her, it didn't really do the job in promoting sales of the album. A week before this song would make the Top 10, the album would hit its peak of #37. It was also not approaching the gold level sales mark, which was a big disappointment coming off of two albums that quickly went gold and eventually multi-platinum.Unfortunately, this single would end up being Lauper's last to reach the Pop Top 40. On the bright side, the song would earn Lauper a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  I loved this song when it came out. I thought it was a more mature song for Lauper and it fit her well. The arrangement and production were great and the build up bridge to the chorus was so good (and very Orbison-like, which was intended - see below). I also like Lauper's vocal delivery. It showcased her voice in a new way and she gave a more restrained performance that really fit the tune. It was a song that was perfect for a windows rolled down night time summer country drive. It really should have made it to #1. A Night to Remember was maligned by critics and it wasn't a favorite of Lauper's either as she later dubbed it A Night to Forget. However, I was one who really like it. I thought the majority of the tracks were quite strong and it helped move Lauper away from some of the goofiness found on her previous effort. The album got a little sluggish in the last few tracks, but I still count it as one of my favorite Lauper works. It deserved a better fate.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) While Lauper was the first artist to release this song, she was not the first to record it. Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the tune was originally pegged for Roy Orbison. When Orbison began working with ELO leader Jeff Lynne in 1987, this song was one they recorded for a new Orbison solo LP. However, work on the album got interrupted when The Traveling Wilburys project suddenly came up. Lynn and Orbison would finally finish the album Mystery Girl late in '88, but "I Drove All Night" was not included. Whether or not that was due to Lauper picking up the tune is unknown, but it seems likely. Orbison would unexpectedly pass away near the end of '88 and Mystery Girl would receive a posthumous release (#5, platinum). Orbison's version of "I Drove All Night" would first get released on a 1991 compilation titled Nintendo: White Knuckle Scorin'. Then in '92, an album of demos and other recordings by Orbison was put together and titled King of Hearts. "I Drove All Night" would be included on the LP and would be issued out as a single. It wouldn't chart, but King of Hearts would get to a minor #179. A decade later, Celine Dion would cover the tune for her 2003 album One Heart. It would be released as a single and get to #45 Pop/#7 AC/#2 Dance. Dion recorded the tune for a Chrysler car ad campaign and she also appeared in a commercial. However, with the song not doing well on the Pop chart and the ad not seeming to spur sales, Chrysler put a halt to the campaign.  2) A Night to Remember was actually Lauper's second attempt at a third album. Originally, she had prepared an album titled Kindred Spirit. It featured ten tracks including "Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)," which was done for Lauper's 1988 film Vibes and released as a single. However, after that single tanked (#54) and the film became a box office bomb, Kindred Spirits was put on hold. It would then be reworked into A Night to Remember. Eight tracks from Kindred would be remixed for the new album with two songs being dropped including "Hole in My Heart." Three new tracks would then get added. The finished LP would get released nearly a year after Lauper's unfortunate misstep with Vibes.

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Friday, July 29, 2022

"Into the Night" by Benny Mardones

Song#:  3889
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  65
Peak:  20
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock


Pop Bits:  In 1980, singer/songwriter Mardones issued out his second album Never Run, Never Hide. Its first single was the power ballad "Into the Night." It would become a hit just missing out on cracking the Pop Top 10 peaking at the dreaded #11 spot. No further singles from the LP charted and after a third album quickly came and went, Mardones' career took a major tumble. He would be dropped by his label and fall into substance abuse, which he would eventually overcome. Mardones would continue to write and perform and in '86 would even release an indie album credited to Benny Mardones & the Hurricanes. It seemed like his days on the charts were over, but then in '89 a radio station in Phoenix aired a "Where Are They Now"-style segment that featured Mardones and "Into the Night." The song gained some attention thanks to a new generation of listeners who hadn't heard it before. The buzz about the tune made it over to L.A. DJ/Program Director Scott Shannon who then added the old hit to his station's playlist. The song quickly picked up steam with other stations putting it into their rotations. With the tune generating a lot of new interest, Mardones' former label, Polydor, reissued the single. The song reentered the Pop chart and began to take off. It would eventually peak at the Top 20 mark while also getting to #20 at AC. The song's revival would be a big boost to Mardones' career and give him a second shot at the big time.

ReduxReview:  My original review was kinda short, but it still stands. This was a well-written song that was made even more memorable by Mardones emotive vocal. To find out more about the song and Mardones' vocal take, I highly suggest watching the Professor of Rock interview with Mardones. More insight into the song is given in the interview than can really be found elsewhere and it is worth watching (as is anything by Prof of Rock).

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  As "Into the Night" scaled the chart for a second time, it gave Mardones an opportunity to seek a new record deal. He would sign on with the Warner Bros. distributed label Curb Records. Curb, which was founded by composer/musician Mike Curb in 1964, was mainly known as a country music label. Pop/rock artists were not necessarily in their wheelhouse, but they wanted to give it a go with Mardones. A self-titled album that featured a newly recorded version of "Into the Night" was quickly recorded and released. A couple of singles were issued out, but neither charted and the album quietly went away along with Mardones' contract with Curb. Mardones would not reach the Pop chart again, which oddly made him a one-hit wonder twice. Despite not making the Pop chart again, Mardones would reach the AC chart three times. In 2002, Mardones would release the indie album A Journey Through Time. Two songs from the LP would end up making the AC chart. "I Need a Miracle" would get to #30 while "I Want It All" would reach #25. Then in 2003, Mardones would be a duet partner on the song "I Know You By Heart" by singer/songwriter Katrina Carlson. The track was from her second album Untucked. The song would reach #25 on the AC chart. Mardones would continue to record and perform over the years even after getting a diagnosis for Parkinson's disease in 2000. By the late 2010s, he would be sidelined by continuing health issues. Mardones would die in 2020 due to complications from Parkinson's.

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Thursday, July 28, 2022

"Good Thing" by Fine Young Cannibals

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3888
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  69
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Soul


Pop Bits:  This Brit trio picked up their first #1 Pop hit in the States with "She Drives Me Crazy." The single, which was taken from their second album The Raw and the Cooked, would sell well enough to go gold and help the album reach the platinum level. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It would catch on and eventually become their second #1 at Pop. It would also get to #2 Modern Rock, #12 AC, #20 Dance, and #39 Rock. The success of the single helped push the album to #1 at the beginning of June and it would remain at the top spot for seven weeks. The boost in sales would send it to the double-platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  While I liked the groovy "She Drives Me Crazy," this next single failed to draw me in. Its punchy, retro Motown sound didn't thrill me and I ended up ignoring the tune and losing interest in FYC. I still don't connect with the song even now, but I don't dislike it. I was actually surprised it did so well on the Pop chart. The tune was so different from "She Drives Me Crazy" and usually a big shift in sound or style following a major hit will not be greeted well by pop listeners. However, the song was strong enough to stand on its own and keep folks rollin' with FYC.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Four tracks on The Raw and the Cooked made their debuts in films prior to be included on the album. The song "Ever Fallen in Love" would be picked up for use in the 1986 Jonathan Demme comedy flick Something Wild, which starred Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels. It would appear on the film's soundtrack and be issued out as a single. In the US, the song would not chart at Pop but would make it to #11 Dance. The tune would get to #9 in the UK. Then for the 1987 Barry Levinson comedy Tin Men that starred Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, the band would not only supply four songs for the film, but would appear as the house band of a night club. Three of the songs used in the movie would then be placed on The Raw and the Cooked including "Good Thing." It would be the first appearance of the songs on a record because there was no soundtrack album released for the film. Both Something Wild and Tin Men would receive positive notices from critics and do moderately well at the box office. However, Something Wild later turned into a sort of cult film especially after Griffin hit it big with 1988's Working Girl and after Demme's 1992 Oscar-winner The Silence of the Lambs.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

"Be with You" by The Bangles

Song#:  3887
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  73
Peak:  30
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock


Pop Bits:  The Bangles earned their second #1 Pop hit with "Eternal Flame," the second single from their third album Everything. It would also become their second gold seller and it helped the album get to #15 and go platinum. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. Whereas the first two singles from the album featured Suzanna Hoffs on lead vocals, this track had drummer Debbi Peterson taking over the duties. The song ended up peaking right at the Top 30 mark, which was a bit of a disappointment. A fourth single would not follow. Then in September of '89, the band shocked fans by announcing their breakup. The Bangles had always functioned as a collaborative group with each member writing songs and performing lead vocals. Then after the Prince-written "Manic Monday" hit #2 in '86, dynamics in the group changed. Since Hoffs had performed the lead vocal on the track, many folk including from the press began to consider her the leader and voice of the band, which wasn't actually true. Yet Hoffs kept getting a push out front and when it came time to assemble Everything, it seems a lot of time was spent trying to make sure each member was represented equally, which caused friction as it was not done in the same collaborative way as in the past. Then, of course, the label pushed out the first two singles that were both co-written and sung by Hoffs, which just added fuel to the fire. After this Peterson-led track didn't get very far on the heels of the #1 "Eternal Flame," the fate of the band was nearly sealed. The band met and chose to go their own ways less that six months after earning a #1 gold single.

ReduxReview:  This urgent tune was an acceptable single, but it wasn't going to get the band back into the Pop Top 10. Really, the two best single candidates had already been released and the balance didn't necessarily have another immediate smash, so it was a crap shoot as to what to push out. If I were to guess, I bet the label wanted the Hoffs-led "I'll Set You Free" (which was issued out in the UK) to be third, but some talks led to Peterson's "Be with You" getting out. Either way, another Top 10 was just not in the cards and in the end the band split. It was really too bad as the quartet were best when they collaborated and shared songwriting/vocal duties. Hoffs' first two solo albums were meh, but her 2012 LP Someday was excellent and I liked her collaborations with Matthew Sweet. Meanwhile, Vicki Peterson did some fine work with the Continental Drifters. I also liked the Bangles' second post-breakup LP Sweethearts of the Sun. In 2014 a really fun compilation titled Ladies and Gentlemen...The Bangles! was issued out. It consisted of their pre-fame/pre-Columbia Records indie tracks most with original bassist Annette Zilinskas, who would actually rejoin the band in 2018.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The only Bangle to seek out a solo career was Suzanna Hoffs. Her 1991 debut effort, When You're a Boy, would be an underwhelming effort peaking at #83. Its only charting single was the #30 "My Side of the Bed," which was written by Hoffs with Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (the same trio wrote "Eternal Flame" and the #5 "In Your Room"). Her self-titled 1996 LP would not chart, but it did feature the minor #77 Pop entry "All I Want." Since then, Hoffs has had a few more releases and also collaborated with singer/songwriter Matthew Sweet for a series of decade-oriented remake albums title Under the Covers.  2) The Bangles would end up getting back together thanks to a film. In 1998, Hoffs' husband at the time Jay Roach was directing Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the sequel to the 1997 Mike Myers hit Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Roach kind of poked and prodded the members into recording a song for the film. Vicki and Debbi Peterson along with Hoffs would write "Get the Girl" and the full compliment of The Bangles, which included Michael Steele, would record the tune. The reunited band would then set out on a tour in 2000. That was followed by their first album since their split, 2003's Doll Revolution. Steele would leave the band in 2005, but the remaining members continued on and would record the 2011 album Sweethearts of the Sun.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

"If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Simply Red

#1 Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3886
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  81
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul


Pop Bits:  The English group's third album A New Flame was not burning up the chart when initially released. Its first single, "It's Only Love," would be a bit of a dud only reaching #57 Pop. They needed something much stronger to prompt album sales and they gave it a go with this cover tune second single. It took a minute for the song to catch on, but it was able to scale the Pop chart and eventually become the band's second #1 hit. It would also top the AC chart while peaking at a minor #38 at R&B. Thanks to the success of the single, the album rebounded and was able to reach #22. It would then be certified gold. Follow up singles would fail to chart at Pop, but the track "You've Got It" would get to #7 at AC. This single would earn the band a Grammy nod for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group. The song, despite being a remake of a previous hit, would win the Grammy for Best R&B Song.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't a fan of Simply Red. While I appreciated their other #1 "Holding Back the Years," little else from them grabbed my ear. When this single came out, I thought it might be a good fit for the band and in general it was with the tune becoming their second #1. However, their take on the classic didn't do much for me. While I liked the stripped back approach of the arrangement, I thought the tune just dragged. Frankly, it bored me. Mick Hucknall's restrained vocal was good and appropriate for the way the song was performed, but I feel he could have added some minor fireworks to keep the song interesting. Obviously no one is going to beat the original version with Teddy Pendergrass' incredible, yearning vocal, but I expected something a bit better than this sleepy take from Simply Red.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Their 1972 version would reach #1 R&B/#3 Pop and go gold. Taken from the group's debut album I Miss You, it would be their breakthrough single. Over the next few years, the group would earn three more R&B #1s and one more Pop Top 10. The lead singer for the track was Teddy Pendergrass, who would later go on to have a successful solo career. Written by the famous team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the tune was originally written for the R&B vocal trio Labelle, but they did not record it. The song was then pushed over to Melvin and his group. To-date, Simply Red has been the only other artist to reach the Pop chart with a version of the song. In 2009, a cover by Seal would get to #8 AC.  2) Simply Red's next album, 1991's Stars, would prove to be the biggest selling of their career. It was a massive hit in many countries including the UK where it reached #1 and was certified 12x platinum. In the US, the album would featured the band's last Pop Top 40 single, the #23 "Something Got Me Started," and that was enough for the LP to go gold despite its low #76 peak. While Simply Red continued to have success at home in the UK and in Europe, their fortunes quickly dwindled in the US. However, they would earn three #1s at Dance and a pair of AC Top 10s over the years.

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Monday, July 25, 2022

"I Like" by Guy

Song#:  3885
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  82
Peak:  70
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing


Pop Bits:  This trio consisted of Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall, and Timmy Gatling. They got together when Gatling noticed the vocal talent of Hall when they both worked together at a Brooklyn department store. Gatling then introduced Hall to Riley, Gatling and Riley were friends and had worked together previously in a group. The three then decided to form a group and dubbed themselves Guy. Thanks to a management connection Riley and Hall had due to their previous group, the newly formed trio got signed to the MCA distributed label Uptown Records. Work began on a self-titled debut album with all songs written by members of the group. Riley and their manager Gene Griffin would handle production duties on the new jack swing flavored tracks. A first single, "Groove Me," would be issued out in May of '88. It would get to #4 R&B/#33 Dance. A second single made the R&B Top 30, but then the third single "Teddy's Jam" would put them back in the R&B Top 10 at #5 (#25 Dance). It would then be this fourth single that would finally get them on the Pop chart. Although it would only spend a few weeks near the bottom, it became their biggest hit at R&B getting to #2 (#36 Dance). The three R&B Top 10s helped the album reach #1 at R&B. It also got enough crossover attention to reach #27 Pop. Eventually it would be a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  The trio's debut album came out in the summer of '88 just as new jack swing was beginning to catch on with Teddy Riley one of the pioneers of the genre. Even before forming Guy, Riley already had a new jack hit to is credit with Keith Sweat's #5 Pop/#1 R&B "I Want Her." Riley also scored with Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" (#1 Pop/#1 R&B). So it was only natural that he'd want to try for his own career in the spotlight and he did that via Guy. Their debut album became a watershed moment in the new jack swing era and has since been hailed as a classic of the genre. Weirdly, this was the only single from the album to reach the Pop chart. Not sure the reason, but I'm guessing that it may have been that pop radio might have been a bit resistant in playing and promoting new jack swing and that the R&B hits from the album may not have been quite as immediately hooky and catchy as something like "My Prerogative." Still, songs like "Teddy's Jam" and "Groove Me" were expertly crafted and should have had a wider audience. This single was another solid jam from the trio and was a bit more pop radio friendly, but it still couldn't make much headway on the chart. Despite the lack of mainstream support, the album deservedly went double-platinum. Had at least one single gotten near the upper reaches of the Pop chart, the LP would have easily gotten to the triple-platinum mark.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After the album was completed, group member Timmy Gatling found himself at odds with management over contracts. That along with some inner turmoil within the trio led to Gatling leaving the group. He would be replaced by Aaron Hall's brother Damion. The trio's next album, 1990's The Future would be a #1 R&B/#16 platinum seller thanks to four R&B Top 10 hits. Guy would split after the LP's supporting tour was over.  2) Earlier in the 80s, Teddy Riley and Timmy Gatling along with Clurel Henderson were members of a short-lived trio called Kids At Work. Assembled by producer Gene Griffin, the trio were sort of modeled after other R&B boy groups like New Edition. They recorded and released a 1984 self-titled debut album on Griffin's Sound of New York label. Two singles from the album would be mid-charters at R&B. A 1986 single for Rooftop Records would fail to chart and the group would disband. A couple years later, Gatling would hook back up with Riley to form Guy.

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

"Rooms on Fire" by Stevie Nicks

Song#:  3884
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  85
Peak:  16
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock


Pop Bits:  After working and touring with Fleetwood Mac for the 1987 album Tango in the Night and 1988's Greatest Hits, Nicks returned to solo work and began recording her fourth solo album with producer Rupert Hine. Titled The Other Side of the Mirror, it was a work that had themes loosely based on the Lewis Carroll classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This first single was released and it shot straight to #1 at Rock becoming her second solo chart topper. Over on the Pop chart, the tune made a steady climb, but ended up stopping inside the Top 20. It marked the first time a lead single from one of Nick's solo albums failed to make the Pop Top 10. A second single, "Long Way to Go," which featured Bruce Hornsby, was able to get to #11 Rock, but it failed to make the Pop chart. Despite not spawning a more robust hit, the album still made it to #10 and became a platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  Nicks' solo career wasn't quite as well received in the UK despite Fleetwood Mac doing well there (three main members were from England). Up to this point she was unable to get a Top 40 hit. This song would end up being her biggest solo hit in the UK reaching #16 and the album her best effort at #3. I'm not sure what made this song catch on in the UK over her other classics. Perhaps having Brit producer Hine drew attention. When this single came out, I wasn't blown away by it. While the chorus was catchy, the tune as a whole sounded more like a third single candidate instead of a lead single. The album was a bit underwhelming as well. There were only a couple of tracks that stuck with me including the rocker "Whole Lotta Love," which earned Nicks a Grammy nod for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. Her next album Street Angel was a total snoozer and I nearly gave up on Nicks. But then she came roaring back with Trouble In Shangri-La and has done some good work since.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Nicks would release the compilation Timespace: The Best of Stevie Nicks in 1991. The album included three new tracks including "Sometimes It's a Bitch," a song written by Jon Bon Jovi with Billy Falcon. It would be issued out as a single and get to #7 Rock and #56 Pop. The LP would be a #30 platinum seller. She would hit a bump in the road with 1994's Street Angel. Although it went gold, the LP wasn't received well and became her lowest peaking at #45. It featured what is to-date her last song to make the Pop chart, the #57 "Maybe Love Will Change Your Mind" (#17 AC/#36 Rock). Nicks would rebound with 2001's Trouble in Shangri-La. It would get to #5 and go gold. The LP featured a pair of AC Top 20 hits along with her first and only #1 on the Dance chart "Planets of the Universe." To-date, Nicks has released two more studio albums and both have made the Top 10. In 1998, Nicks would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Fleetwood Mac. In 2019, she would be inducted again as a solo artist. That honor made her the first female to be inducted into the Hall twice.

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Friday, July 22, 2022

"Anything Can Happen" by Was (Not Was)

Song#:  3883
Date:  05/06/1989
Debut:  89
Peak:  75
Weeks:  6
Genre:  Sophisti-Pop, Soul


Pop Bits:  This oddball dance-funk group headed up by Don and David Was got their first and only Pop Top 10 hit with the quirky "Walk the Dinosaur" (#6). It was the second single from their third album What Up, Dog? For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It did saw some action at Dance (#19) and AC (#36), but it didn't get far at Pop where it peaked right at the bottom quarter point on the chart. It didn't do much to help further sales of the album, which had already peaked at #43. This single would be the group's last one to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  After the wacky "Walk the Dinosaur," I'm not sure folks were expecting or wanting this classier sophisti-pop tune. I can't say it was a bad choice for a single as I think an artist like Breathe or Johnny Hates Jazz could have ridden this into the Top 40. But as a follow-up to "Dinoaur" it wasn't quite right for Was (Not Was).

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The group would return in 1990 with their fourth album Are You Okay? As they did with their previous LPs, the Was "brothers" recruited some interesting artists for cameos. The tracks included appearances by Leonard Cohen, The Roches, Jeff Lorber, Iggy Pop, Doug Fieger (of The Knack), and MTV VJ Downtown Julie Brown. The LP's first single was a remake of the 1972 #1 Pop/#5 R&B classic by the Temptations "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." The song would make it to #10 at Dance, but would only reach #60 R&B while not even cracking the Pop chart. A second single would be a minor entry on the Dance chart. With those results, the album halted at #99. In 1992, the group would issue out the compilation LP Hello Dad...I'm in Jail. It featured the single "Shake Your Head," which reached #4 in the UK. The track featured the odd vocal pairing of Ozzy Osbourne and actress Kim Basinger. Following the compilation, Don and David Was quietly put the band on hiatus. David Was would go on to produce albums by artists like Rickie Lee Jones and branch out into film and TV music. Don Was would have a prolific career as a producer and would go on to win five Grammys including one for Producer of the Year. The pair would reunite for the 2008 album Boo!

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

"Pop Singer" by John Cougar Mellencamp

Song#:  3882
Date:  04/29/1989
Debut:  54
Peak:  15
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Folk-Rock, Americana


Pop Bits:  Mellencamp's 1987 album The Lonesome Jubilee was a #6 triple-platinum seller that added two more Pop Top 10 hits to his credits including the #8 "Cherry Bomb" (#1 Rock/#12 AC). Hoping to secure another Top 10, Mellencamp released this first single from his tenth album Big Daddy. The song would do well at Rock getting to #2, but after a fairly high debut on the Pop chart, the song stopped short of the Top 10. It was the first time since 1980 that a lead single from a Mellencamp album failed to crack the Top 10. Despite that, the album still sold well reaching #7 and going platinum.

ReduxReviewBig Daddy wrapped up a few things for Mellencamp. It was his last studio LP of the 80s, it was the last to have "Cougar" appear in his name credit, and it was the third and last in a sort of trilogy of albums where Mellencamp had a more Americana approach in his songs and using instruments like fiddle and accordion. He'd return to a harder edged rock 'n' roll sound with 1991's Whenever We Wanted To. I really liked this song when it came out. I thought it was hooky and memorable and I liked how Mellencamp was addressing what he had been going through in the music business, especially in the early days when his career was basically being directed by others. However, I wasn't sure it was going to be a hit single. It wasn't as relatable as some of his other hits and it wasn't quite sitting well next to the new jack swing and glam rock of the day. But I think Mellencamp had enough fans show up that helped to get this song up the chart. Big Daddy was another winner for me from Mellencamp. It may not have been as immediately likeable as his previous LPs (in general it was a rather dark collection), but on repeated listens the songs shine. While I wouldn't perhaps consider it underrated in his catalog, I do think it didn't quite get its due back in the day or even now.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The cover of Big Daddy featureed a photo of Mellencamp hugging/holding a young girl. That girl was Mellencamp's daughter Teddi Jo. Her mother was Mellencamp's second wife Victoria Granucci. The couple had one other daughter named Justice. Apparently, Justice was originally to be on the cover. She was three at the time and on the day of the shoot she was fussy and crying and not wanting to participate. Teddi, who was seven, then stepped in and got the job done. It was during the writing and recording of the album that Mellencamp was going through the split/divorce with Granucci. In 2011, Teddi would marry securities CEO Edwin Arroyave. They would have three kids. In 2017, Teddi would join the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She would be on the show for three seasons. She also appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2022. She would be the first person evicted from the house.

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