Saturday, December 17, 2022

"Ain't Too Proud to Beg" by Rick Astley

Song#:  4004
Date:  08/19/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  89
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Astley's second album, Hold Me in Your Arms, was not matching the success of his #10 double-platinum debut. The LP peaked at #19 thanks mainly to the #6 single "She Wants to Dance with Me," but after a second single just barely scraped the Top 40, the label was looking for a third single that would breathe life back into the album This cover tune was selected for release, but it did not get the job done. While the tune would do okay at AC getting to #16, it was a dud on the Pop chart disappearing after a quick three weeks. The results didn't spark album sales and it would only be able to go gold.

ReduxReview:  In the UK, the Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting/production era was in full swing and remaining popular. In the US, audiences were getting tired of the trio's cookie cutter tracks so instead of releasing the SAW song "Take Me to Your Heart" in the US (#8 UK) the label perhaps thought that this cover tune would suit tastes better. It wasn't a bad tactic, but the problem was this mid-tempo take on the Motown hit was a bit sleepy, especially for a single. Astley sounded like he put his all into the tune and luckily he didn't desecrate the classic. However, there was just nothing exciting or engaging about the track.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The Temptations. Written by Norman Whitfield and Eddie Holland (produced by Whitefield), the 1966 single would be the group's fourth R&B #1 while also getting to #13 Pop. The only other artist besides Astley to reach the Pop chart with a version of the song was The Rolling Stones. They covered the tune for their 1974 album It's Only Rock and Roll. It was released as the second single from the LP and it would get to #17 Pop.  2) After his second album didn't meet expectations, Astley decided to move in a new direction. First, he chose not to work with the Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting/production team, who had supplied tracks for Astley's first two albums including his first #1 Pop hit "Never Gonna Give You Up." Then he chose to change his image and update his sound focusing on a more mature soul-leaning direction. In 1991, Astley would release his third album Free. He would write/co-write the majority of songs on the album and produce them all with Gary Stevenson. The LP's first single was the ballad "Cry for Help." It would be a success reaching #7 Pop and #1 AC. It would also get to #7 in the UK. While the hit would provide a bit of validation for Astley's new approach, other singles failed to ignite and that left the LP peaking at #31. Astley's fourth album, 1993's Body and Soul, would supply him with one last Pop Top 40 entry with the #28 "Hopelessly" (#4 AC). Unfortunately, the album didn't sell and it stalled at a very minor #185. After that result, Astley would take an extended break from music. He would return to the biz starting in 2001 with an album only released in Germany, followed by a 2005 covers album that got wider distribution. However, he would make a big splash in the UK in 2016 with his album 50. It was released to coincide with Astley's 50th birthday. The LP was a surprise hit reaching #1 in the UK. Follow-up albums in 2018 and 2019 would both crack the UK Top 10.


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