Saturday, February 5, 2022

"Posse on Broadway" by Sir Mix-a-Lot

Song#:  3747
Date:  12/17/1988
Debut:  97
Peak:  70
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  Anthony Ray grew up in the Seattle area and latched on to the hip-hop scene in the early 80s. After high school, he began to DJ at parties and events and along the way met local radio DJ Nasty Nez and businessman Ed Locke. Together, the trio would form an indie record label called Nastymix. It gave Ray a chance to write and record his own music who by this point was going by his stage name Sir Mix-a-Lot. One of the first singles Sir did for the new label had the track "Square Dance Rap." It became locally popular and then picked up traction in some other cities. Then in '88, Sir started to prep a debut album. It would be titled Swass and its first single would be "Posse on Broadway." The indie single did fairly well getting to #44 R&B and #21 Dance. It even crossed over to the Pop chart where it peaked at #70. Another single, a rap/metal remake of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" featuring the band Metal Church would reach #17 on the Rap chart. That attention along with word of mouth pushed the album to #20 R&B and #82 Pop. By February of '89, the album would go gold. In the summer of '90, it would turn platinum. It was quite the win for Sir Mix-a-Lot and the indie Nastymix label.

ReduxReview:  This was definitely a cruisin' song about cruisin' around. While my small town didn't have a Broadway, we did have Michigan Ave. and that's were most of the younger crowd would go on Friday/Saturday nights. They'd cruise up n' down the Ave looking for friends, parties, pickups, etc. There was a shopping center parking lot at the far end of the Ave where people would gather to talk, drink, or whatever, but every now and then a cop car would enter the lot and everyone got in their cars and quickly left the lot...temporarily. This track reminds me of those days and it would have been great to have it playing while cruisin'. But it really didn't fit me and my white-bread set of friends in our power blue Maverick and Merry-Go-Round fashions killin' time out on the Ave.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In '89, Sir Mix-a-Lot would release his second album Seminar. Two singles from it would make the Rap Top 10 with "Beepers" hitting #2. The album would be a gold seller. With two hot selling albums to his credit, Sir Mix-a-Lot attracted interest from larger labels. He ended up signing with Def American and would then record his third album 1992's Mack Daddy. It would feature Sir's biggest hit, the #1 Pop/#1 Dance/#7 Rap/#27 R&B double-platinum hit "Baby Got Back." The smash would send the album to #9 Pop/#19 R&B. It would become his second platinum-selling LP. The song would earn Sir a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. After making that major mainstream mark, Sir's career began to wane. His next two albums failed to sell and so with little support coming his way from Def American, he left the label. He would release on indie album later in 2003 and a few singles after that. However, thanks to the success of "Baby Got Back," Sir has been able to keep busy working with other artists, doing promotions, and making TV appearances such as headlining the 2018 DIY network special Sir Mix-a-Lot's House Remix.


Friday, February 4, 2022

"Wild Again" by Starship

Song#:  3746
Date:  12/17/1988
Debut:  98
Peak:  73
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After the #12 gold success of the band's second album No Protection, they got back into the studio in '88 to begin working on a follow-up. As that process began, the band got the opportunity to contribute a song to a film soundtrack. It worked well for them before with "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" from Mannequin got to #1 early in '87, so why not try again? Unfortunately, the results didn't pay off nearly as well. The track would be the fifth song from the soundtrack to be a single and it would stall low on the Pop chart after a few weeks. It did slightly better at Rock getting to #30. Although it would be considered a one-off single from the soundtrack, the tune would later be included on the band's '89 album Love Among the Cannibals.

ReduxReview:  This song sounded like it was written for a soundtrack. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it sounded like something that would play over the opening credits of a comedy flick and indeed that is where this song was placed in Cocktail. The song was fine and well done by the band, but it was kind of an average pop song that didn't really stand out. It was a pleasant listen and appropriate for the soundtrack, yet it wasn't destined to be a memorable hit.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This song was written by John Bettis and Michael Clark. Bettis began writing songs as a teen, but it was an association with another aspiring musician that truly kicked of his career. Bettis met Richard Carpenter when both were attending Long Beach State College. The pair hit it off and began writing together. In 1967, Carpenter and Bettis, along with Richard's sister Karen, formed a band called Spectrum. Although they performed at several clubs, the MOR sound of the band wasn't fitting in well with the rock sounds of the day and it became difficult for them to secure gigs. The lack of getting work basically led to Spectrum splitting up. However, Carpenter and Bettis kept up their partnership and it would eventually pay off big time when Richard and Karen became the Carpenters and signed on with A&M Records. In the early 70s, four songs by Richard Carpenter and Bettis would reach the Pop Top 10 including the 1973 #3 "Top of the World." Bettis would go on to work with other writers and score hits like the '81 #2 "Slow Hand" for the Pointer Sisters, Michael Jackson's #7 "Human Nature," and Madonna's #1 "Crazy for You."


Thursday, February 3, 2022

"Dial My Heart" by The Boys

Song#:  3745
Date:  12/10/1988
Debut:  78
Peak:  13
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  This boy band consisted of the four Abdulsamad brothers (Khiry, Hakeem, Tajh, and Bilal). Hailing fro Carson, California, sometime around '84 the brothers (ages 5 to 10) formed their own vocal group and basically turned to street performing in Venice Beach in order to get money for a Father's Day present. They earned their goal in one day, but then with their father's help turned the performing into a regular weekend gig. In '86, the brothers decided that they wanted to give the music business a shot. They branched out to talent shows and then started to get hired for private events. As word spread about the brothers, their father sent out a homemade demo tape to a some labels. It attracted a few of them and in the end the brothers chose MCA. However, when the head of R&B at MCA moved over to Motown, he took The Boys with him. With everything in place, The Boys began to record their debut album Messages from the Boys. They were working with several writers and producers, but then a connection got them hooked up with hitmakers L.A. Reid and Babyface. The pair would co-write and produce three tracks with The Boys including this first single. The song would first take hold at R&B and it would eventually become a #1 hit. It would also get on the Dance chart at #18 while nearly making the Pop Top 10. A second single, "Lucky Charm," would become their second single to top the R&B chart, but unfortunately it didn't reach the Pop chart. Still, the double R&B #1's sent the album to #3 R&B and #33 Pop. It would eventually go platinum.

ReduxReview:  These youngsters were kind of tapped to be a Jackson 5 or New Edition. I think they had talent, but not enough to reach the heights of those stars. You could hear some potential on their first LP, but only when they worked with Reid and Babyface. The rest of the album was not nearly as good and a couple of tracks were practically unlistenable. They were still just so green and they needed some pros to really hone their talent. Reid and Babyface were able to do that and gave them some tracks that were age appropriate and catchy. Their production also suited the kids and the end results were not too bad. This single was fun and had a hooky chorus. It was a solid piece of bubblegum R&B and served as a good introduction. The jury was out on if they would last, but then The Boys basically took themselves out of the game after their third LP (see below).

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  In 1990, The Boys would release a self-titled second album. This time around, the brothers took on more control and wrote nearly every song on the LP. It would be produced by Daryl Simmons and Kayo (of the Reid/Babyface stable). Its first single, "Crazy," would become their third R&B #1. It would also get to #29 Pop. A second R&B Top 10 would follow as would a track they recorded with Earth, Wind & Fire for their album Heritage. Their second album would be a gold seller. Their fortunes waned with their 1992 third album The Saga Continues..., which they mainly wrote and produced themselves. The title track would reach #15 at R&B and that would do it for the brothers. All of a sudden, they were gone. While many folks assume they just got dumped by Motown, it seems that was not the case. During their journey the brothers began to discover more about their heritage and the more they knew and learned, the less attractive the whole Hollywood/music biz thing looked. So after their third album, they decided to pack up and leave. They would moved to Gambia in West Africa to learn more and would eventually pick back up on their music. Two of the brothers moved back to the States, but Hakeem and Bilal stayed and became Suns of Light. They opened their own recording studio where they worked on their own music along with other local artists.


Wednesday, February 2, 2022

"Shake for the Sheik" by The Escape Club

Song#:  3744
Date:  12/10/1988
Debut:  81
Peak:  28
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This UK band made a big splash with their single "Wild, Wild West." It was the first single from their second LP of the same name and it would reach #1 at Pop and go gold. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. It wouldn't do nearly as well, but at least it did crack the Pop Top 30. The album had already reached its peak of #42 and just a few days prior to this song debuting on the Pop chart, the album would be certified gold.

ReduxReview:  It was going to be difficult to follow-up "Wild, Wild West" since it was so quirky and memorable. However, this track was a good attempt. I think the title may have confused some in the US (see below), but it still had a catchy chorus and was a fun listen. I thought it might go a little higher on the chart, yet a Top 30 showing wasn't too bad.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  For a US audience, looking at the title of this song, one would most likely pronounce "sheik" like "sheek" (rhymes with "sleek"). However, in the song lead singer Trevor Steel pronounces it the same as the title's first word "shake." So what's the deal here? Seems it is one of those British English vs. American English pronunciation things. In England, "sheik" is pronounced as "shake." That most likely stems from the original Arabic word "shaihk" (or any of its variations), which is pronounced (minus any vocal inflections) as "shake." So it seems the British have it correct. The American "sheek"pronunciation may have come about do to the spelling. Visually looking at "sheik," it seems Americans just assumed that with the "e" leading the vowels, it would be pronounced with the long "e" and therefore be "sheek." Steel has mentioned that the humor found in the title with the way the British say the word was lost on American audiences. Regardless of the pronunciation, enough folks showed up to make it a Top 30 hit in the US.


Tuesday, February 1, 2022

"A Little Respect" by Erasure

Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3743
Date:  12/10/1988
Debut:  84
Peak:  14
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This UK duo had major success on the US Dance chart with songs from their first two albums. They would earn six Top 10 hits on the chart including the #1 "Victims of Love." But the tunes didn't translate to the mainstream and as a result the albums failed to sell. That changed with their third album The Innocents. Its first single, "Chains of Love," would nearly crack the Pop Top 10 at #12 while reaching #4 Dance. Next up was this single that did just as well getting to #14 Pop and #2 Dance. The one-two punch of hits helped album sales and even though it would only peak at #49, sales were steady and eventually it would go platinum. By this point in time, the duo had already issued out a new EP in the UK and a track from it was gaining a lot of attention. Therefore, instead of releasing a third single in the US from The Innocents (as the US was slow to catch on to the LP), the label decided to wait and follow it up with the EP track in early '89.

ReduxReview:  The build of the whole front part of this song was just so brilliant. The instantly memorable synth line got things kicked off and then came the beats followed by the vocals with other sounds being added to the driving rhythm. It finally culminated in Andy Bell's glorious chorus ending falsetto. It was such a great way to start a song and it continued from there with background vocals and a bridge section with a synth piano riff. I also loved how the song reached a fever pitch release and then softens back in a "whew!" relief way with the main synth riff quietly taking the song out. While the song wasn't about sex, the arrangement certainly leaned that, climax, relax. Perfect! It was another big winner from the duo that should have easily made the Top 10.


Trivia:  In 2001, this song became a hit again in the UK by an unlikely artist. The American alt rock band Wheatus covered the song for their 2000 self-titled debut album. That LP contained the song "Teenage Dirtbag," which was released as the first single. It would reach #2 in the UK. They followed it up with their remake of Erausre's "A Little Respect." It would do nearly as well reaching #3. The two hits would send their album to #7 and it would go platinum. Their subsequent LPs would not chart in the UK, but at least they made a mark with their debut album. In the US, the Long Island, New York, band didn't get the same attention. "Teenage Dirtbag" would peak at #7 on the Modern Rock chart with the album stalling at #76. As in Britain, their follow-up LP's would not chart. Despite not having major success in the US, Wheatus, headed up by vocalist/songwriter Brendan B. Brown, has maintained a solid following and has continued to record and tour over the years.


Monday, January 31, 2022

"A New Day for You" by Basia

Song#:  3742
Date:  12/10/1988
Debut:  86
Peak:  53
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Jazz-Pop, Sophisti-Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Basia broke through in the US with her single "Time and Tide." While it wasn't a huge hit (#26 Pop/#19 AC), it definitely brought attention her way and folks started to buy her debut album of the same name. To keep things going, this second single was pushed out. It didn't quite catch on at Pop stopping short of the Top 50, but it did very well at AC where it became Basia's first Top 10 (#5). A third single, "Promises," would also make the AC Top 10 at #8, but it would fail to reach the Pop chart. Despite the dwindling support at pop radio, the album became a success reaching #36 and going platinum.

ReduxReview:  "Time and Tide" was a bit unusual and it stood out on pop radio. This follow up wasn't quite as quirky, but it was another good song from the album and a worthy single. The charging rhythm, the jazzy feel, and Basia's voice all worked together to make something interesting and easy to digest. It was apparently perfect for AC radio where it made the Top 10. It really should have made an appearance in the Pop Top 40, but it wasn't destined to be a big hit. However, it helped draw more people to the album. I remember when the LP came out. There was a buzz about it so I picked it up. Then others heard it through me and got the album as well. It was one that had a lot of good word of mouth and it resulted in platinum sales.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1990, Basia would release her second LP London Warsaw New York. It would match the platinum success of her debut while becoming her highest peaking LP on the chart at #20. It got a boost from the single "Cruising for Bruising," which made it to #29 Pop and #5 AC. A third album, The Sweetest Illusion, would come out in 1994. Despite not featuring any charting singles, the LP got to #27 and went gold. Then, Basia sort of disappeared. It seems that due to some personal and family issues, she stepped away from the music business after three solid selling albums, not to mention the success she had with her former band Matt Bianco. Finally in 2004, she was coaxed into rejoining Matt Bianco. They would release Matt's Mood, which did well in several countries and got to #15 on the US Jazz chart. With that reintroduction to music, Basia then picked back up on her solo career and in 2009 she released It's That Girl Again. She would follow it up in 2018 with Butterflies.


Sunday, January 30, 2022

"It's No Secret" by Kylie Minogue

Song#:  3741
Date:  12/10/1988
Debut:  90
Peak:  37
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Minogue's remake of "The Loco-Motion" was the second single released in the US from her debut album and it became a #3 gold selling hit. For a follow-up, this next track was selected. Originally, this was scheduled to be the fifth single from the LP in territories like the UK where Minogue had already broke through beginning in '87 (and scored four Top 10s). But then a duet Minogue did with Australian actor/singer Jason Donovan for his debut LP became a big hit (#1 UK) and so plans were scraped to push out "It's No Secret" as Minogue was nearly set to release her next LP in April of '89. However, since the US market just boarded the Minogue "Loco-Motion" train, the label went ahead and released "It's No Secret." The tune, written and produced by the Stock Aitken Waterman team, would crack the US Pop Top 40, but would go no further. Despite the single not matching the success of "The Loco-Motion," it seemed that Minogue had done well enough to set herself up for further success. But then something strange happened. She disappeared from the US charts and record stores. It seemed her legacy would be the lone Top 10 hit, but out of nowhere she got back on the US charts in 2002 - nearly 13 years after "It's No Secret" made the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  This song wasn't the standard Hi-NRG piece from the SAW team, which was a nice change of pace. It was a good pop tune that probably should have cracked the Top 20, but it just wasn't quite as immediately catchy as "The Loco-Motion" and therefore stalled a bit early. I remember looking forward to hearing the first single from her next album, but then it seemed like it never arrived. And just like that, no more Minogue. Frankly, the next time I heard her was in 1995 when she appeared on two tracks on Nick Cave & the Bad Seed's album Murder Ballads. The pairing of Cave and Minogue was both weird and inspired. The song "Where the Wild Roses Grow" would actually get to #2 in the UK. Then finally in 2001 the brilliant "Can't Get You Out of My Head" arrived and the world righted itself with Minogue finally getting long overdue attention in the US.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  So what happened to Kylie Minogue? She was in a position to be a pop star in the US, but just as quickly as she arrived, she was gone. It seems there was a couple of reasons for this. When her second LP, Enjoy Yourself, found its way to the States, it landed with a thud. Singles from the album failed to chart and that left the LP disappearing quickly. The result was unexpected considering the LP's first four singles went Top 10 in the UK and in several other countries. Minogue's US label, Geffen, then threw in the towel and dropped Minogue. Although left without US representation, Minogue continued her career since she had become a star in many other countries. Between '89 and 2000, she would score 15 Top 10 UK hits including three #1s. She would do nearly as well at home in Australia. Yet in all that time, it seemed like no US label was willing to give her a second chance in the US. Then in 2001, Minogue recorded her eighth album Fever. Its first single, "Can't Get You Out of My Head," became a massive #1 in many countries. The hit was too big to be ignored and so Capitol Records took a chance and finally gave Minogue that second shot in the US. It paid off with the song reaching #7 Pop/#1 Dance and the album hitting #3 and going platinum. While her US Pop chart fortunes would quickly dwindle again, this time around she was able to keep a US distribution contract. In addition to all of her studio albums from 2002 through 2020 reaching the US chart, she earned seven #1s on the US Dance chart. She would also earn a Grammy for Best Dance Recording in 2004 for the song "Come into My World." Her 2020 album Disco would be critically well-received and reach #1 UK/#26 US (and it was my favorite album for that year).