Tuesday, September 20, 2022

"Angel Eyes" by The Jeff Healey Band

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  3933
Date:  06/17/1989
Debut:  85
Peak:  5
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  This Canadian musician began to play a few years following the loss of his eyes at the age of one due to a rare cancer. He developed his own unique way of playing guitar, which had Healey playing it flat on top of his lap. He increased his skills over the years until finally forming his own band, Blue Direction, when he was fifteen. In 1985, he would start the Jeff Healey Band with bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephen. They quickly picked up club work around the Toronto area along with a sizable following. In 1986, they would record the indie single "Adrianna / See the Light." That single along with a video for "See the Light" finally caught the attention of Arista Records and in 1988 the trio was signed to the label. Work began on a debut album titled See the Light and the first single released from it was the John Hiatt-penned "Confidence Man." While it would do well at Rock and get to #11, it would failed to make the Pop chart. The album's title track would be next and it would reach #33 Rock. By this point in time, the album had sold a few copies and initially peaked at #68. Still believing the album could do better, Arista went ahead and released this third single, which was co-written by John Hiatt and Fred Koller. The soulful ballad would catch on and become the trio's breakthrough. The single would be able to crack the Pop Top 10 while also getting to #7 AC and #24 Rock. The hit helped the album rebound and it would end up reaching #22. Eventually it would become a platinum seller. Unfortunately, beside a very minor #91 single in 1993, this would be the band's only significant entry on the Pop chart. Although they would go on to have hits at Rock, this lone Pop hit often got them tagged as a one-hit wonder.

ReduxReview:  This was a song that sounded like it should have been included in some romantic comedy or drama. It just has that feel. Of course it was well-crafted by one of my favorite artists John Hiatt. I'm sure Hiatt wasn't sad that Healey got the song into the Top 10, but it was a bummer that it couldn't have been Hiatt accomplishing that. He was never able to get a song on the Pop chart. However, in '88 he did take "Slow Turning" to #8 on the Rock chart. Three songs that Hiatt had written also became Top 10 Country hits including Rosanne Cash's 1987 #1 "This Is the Way We Make a Broken Heart." Healey did a fine job with Hiatt's song and it was a well deserved Top 10. Healey was an excellent musician. I got to see him once when he opened up for Bonnie Raitt back in the day. While he never had another major Pop hit, this one was enough to keep him popular with audiences for many years.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Included on See the Light was a cover of the blues standard "Hideaway." The instrumental was recorded by Freddie King in 1960 and issued out as a single. In 1961, it would reach #5 R&B and become King's biggest hit on the Pop chart getting to #25. King and Sonny Thompson were credited as composers. The song would be on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It would also be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Healey's instrumental version would end up receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. It would be the first of two nominations for Healey and the band in that category. The other came when they did an instrumental version of The Yardbird's "Shapes of Things" for their 1995 album Cover to Cover.  2) Of course any artist in an offshoot genre like blues rock was going to have a hard time having hits on the Pop chart and Healey hit that wall with his second album 1990's Hell to Pay. While it would featured a pair of Rock Top 10s, none if its singles made the Pop chart. Still, the rock radio action along with a loyal audience helped the LP get to #27 and go gold. The band would do two more albums for Arista that performed less well. Over the years Healey would continue to record with his band and also as a solo artist. For much of his solo work he moved from the blues to jazz. Unfortunately, Healey would die from cancer in 2008 at the age of 41.


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