Friday, March 4, 2022

"Stand" by R.E.M.

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3769
Date:  01/21/1989
Debut:  97
Peak:  6
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's first four albums consistently did better on the chart, which signified a growing audience. Yet they still were looking for a bigger breakthrough and it finally came with their 1987 album Document. It would reach #10 and go platinum thanks in part to their first Pop Top 10 hit "The One I Love" (#9). After that success, R.E.M. were not happy with the promotional skills of their label, I.R.S. Records. After their obligations to the label were finished, the band packed up and moved over to Warner Bros. After finishing their sixth album, Green, the band released  the lead-off single "Orange Crush.". It would do very well on the Rock and Modern Rock charts hitting #1 on both. Unfortunately, the song failed to reach the pop chart. The label then released this follow up single. Like the first single, it would hit #1 at Rock and Modern Rock. The song would then debut low on the Pop chart, but eventually wound its way up the positions until it finally got to #6. It was their second Pop Top 10 hit and their highest peaking at the time. Although the album would just miss out on the Top 10 (#12), it would become the band's second platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  I read somewhere that this song comes off as a bubblegum pop with comparisons to material by The Archies and The Banana Splits. I'm not totally sure I agree with that, but the quirky tune was one of R.E.M.'s most commercially viable at the time. It did have a power pop feel that was supported by a memorable chorus and shouts of "stand!" It was a bit different from the typical R.E.M. fare and I think that helped its charting chances.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song would later serve as the theme to a TV sitcom. Get a Life was a 1990 comedy/farce co-createded by and starring comedian Chris Elliott. R.E.M. was approached about using "Stand" for the show and they agreed. The show, which was quirky and odd, didn't fully catch fire and was cancelled after its second season. Elliott had been spent six years as a writer on the David Letterman Show before breaking out on his own and developing Get a Life. After the show ended, Elliott would get small roles in various TV shows and films. In 1994, he co-wrote and starred in the film Cabin Boy. It was a box office bomb that made several "worst of" lists. Elliott's starring role earned him a Razzie nomination for Worst New Star. On a better note, Elliott was part of the ensemble cast of the hit TV show Schitt's Creek. The Emmy-winning series would last for six seasons.


Thursday, March 3, 2022

"(Believe You Were) Lucky" by 'til Tuesday

Song#:  3768
Date:  01/21/1989
Debut:  98
Peak:  95
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  The Boston band's second album Welcome Home (#49) became their second to go gold. It got there mainly on the strength of the single "What About Love," which got to #26 Pop/#9 Rock. After everything was wrapped up with that album, the band went back into the studio to record their third effort. Everything's Different Now would be ready by the beginning of '89 and this first single kicked things off. Unfortunately, it barely got any attention. The tune got to #30 at Modern Rock while making to #32 AC. On the Pop chart it would spend a very minor three weeks near the bottom. Further singles failed to chart and that left the LP peaking at #124. The results were disappointing and not long after the LP was released, the band would call it quits.

ReduxReview:  This was a band that got better after their debut. While I liked that debut, it wasn't until their second album when Aimee Mann really took over the writing that I really started to hook into them. Everything Is Different Now was their peak. It was full of excellent tunes including this first single, which Mann wrote with her former boyfriend Jules Shear. I thought the song had a chance to do well, but I'm not sure the style/sound of the song was what folks were looking for from 'til Tuesday. The band was no longer slinging out new wave confections like their #8 "Voices Carry" and it was becoming a struggle to win over fans with their newer (and better) alt rock sound. That was too bad as the band was really hitting their stride. However, you could see that it was becoming Aimee Mann's show and it was inevitable that she was going to go solo at some point, which was a good thing. It was going to give her an opportunity to get out from under of the 'til Tuesday umbrella. Unfortunately, she had roadblocks, but luckily those didn't stop her. Mann's solo debut is one of my favorite LPs and she's been able to have a long and varied career that I've enjoyed and followed.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Lead singer/songwriter Aimee Mann decided to head out on a solo career after the band split. Unfortunately, obstacles would end up blocking the release of her first two efforts. After the band broke up, Mann had contractual commitments to Epic Records which kept her from beginning a solo career. Once free from Epic, she signed on with the indie label Imago and was able to record her debut solo LP Whatever. Released in '93, it was a critical success but it failed to gain a large audience. It peaked at a #127 with the track "I Should've Known" reaching #16 at Modern Rock. Mann then set out to record her second album and prior to its scheduled release a track from it that was part of the Melrose Place TV show soundtrack, "That's Just What You Are," was pushed out as a single and got to #93 Pop/#24 Modern Rock. It created some anticipation for the album, but then Imago suddenly went out of business and the LP was put in limbo. Luckily, Geffen Records picked up the album and I'm With Stupid was finally released in '95. The loss of momentum due to the delay took a toll and the album failed to chart despite positive reviews. Her career was on the verge of collapsing, but then she got a major boost. Film director Paul Thomas Anderson was a fan of Mann's music and had written a script inspired by some of her songs. Anderson would write and direct the film Magnolia, an ensemble drama that featured Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Of course, he would ask Mann to contribute songs to the film's soundtrack. She would provide nine tracks including "Save Me," which would go on to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. The soundtrack would reach #58 and would be a gold seller. That exposure gave Mann's solo career a new lease on life. But the once again, she got blocked by a label. Mann recorded her third solo disc Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo. Geffen felt that there were no commercially viable tracks to promote it and refused to release it. She got out of her contract with Geffen and started selling it independently. A distribution contract came later and despite a low peak (#134), the album sold over 200k copies based on Mann's own indie efforts and was critically hailed. Mann would go on to release more albums and along the way would win two Grammys including one in 2018 for Best Folk Album for Mental Illness.


Tuesday, March 1, 2022

"Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3767
Date:  01/14/1989
Debut:  85
Peak:  5
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  Upon release, the band's debut album Appetite for Destruction was having little success and was on the verge of disappearing. Their label, Geffen, finally stepped in and got MTV to start pushing one of the band's videos. That did the trick and a year and a half later the band would be one of the hottest in the country. The album would spend four weeks at #1 and generate a pair of Pop hits including the #1 "Sweet Child O' Mine" and the #7 "Welcome to the Jungle." To keep the momentum going, this follow up single was issued out. It would reach #14 at Rock while becoming the band's third Pop Top 10. The hit would ignite sales of the album and it would reach #1 for a fifth week in mid-February. By that point in time it would also be certified for sales of over 7 million.

ReduxReview:  Here's another winner from the band's excellent debut album. The opening of this song had "epic" written all over it. What followed were charging verses and an arena-ready chorus. It also featured the only keyboard part found on the album. The guitar licks/hooks were aplenty with Axl Rose's voice soaring above them all. The double-time finale threw the song into overdrive and by the time it ended you were spent, out of breath, and on glam metal cloud nine.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  As far as actual product moved, Appetite for Destruction is still the biggest selling debut album of all time in the US. However, it took a while to get there. At the time of its release, the biggest selling debut LP was Boston's 1977 self-titled effort. It stood at the 9 million mark. Sales continued over the years and eventually it would be at the 17 million mark in 2003. Appetite for Destruction would also continue to sell over the years and in 2008 it would reach 18 million in sales surpassing Boston's debut. Based on product sold, no other artist's debut album has surpassed that mark and it still holds the record. Yet that's not fully the end of the story. In 2016, the RIAA changed its rules on certifications due to the growing popularity of streaming and music services. Instead of being based solely on product, new rules pad the numbers with audio and video streams along with track-based album equivalent numbers. With those new rules, certifications for another debut album shot up. Cracked Rear View, the 1994 debut LP by Hootie & the Blowfish reached the 16 million certification in 1999. After the RIAA rule changes in 2018, the LP was suddenly certified at 21x platinum. That was 5 certification levels above the Guns N' Roses debut. However, those extra certifications were mainly all due to streaming and not actual physical sales. Therefore, if you look at what debut album actually sold the most physical copies, Guns N' Roses still rule. If you want to consider just certification level (sales plus streaming), then Hootie rules the day as of 2022.


Monday, February 28, 2022

"The Love in Your Eyes" by Eddie Money

Song#:  3766
Date:  01/14/1989
Debut:  88
Peak:  24
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Money's seventh studio album Nothing to Lose got a boost from its first single "Walk on Water." The tune would get to #2 Rock while becoming Money's third Pop Top 10 hit. For a follow up, this next track was selected. It would end up becoming Money's third and final #1 on the Rock chart. Over on the Pop chart, it wouldn't do as well. The song stopped short of the Top 20. Without the extra push from a second big mainstream hit, the album halted at #49 and would fail to reach the gold level sales mark.

ReduxReview:  While this song wasn't quite as strong as his previous big hits, it was still a nice, quality track that I thought might get closer to the Top 10, especially since it got to #1 at Rock. What really stood out to me on the track was the "nothing but blue skies" sections with the background vocalists. The chord changes injected the track with a different feel. It was almost like a cool distraction from the regular verse/chorus hooks. A bit of a forgotten track now, but a worthwhile listen.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Adrian Gurvitz, David Paul Bryant, and Steve Dubin. It was the first US hit for English singer/songwriter Gurvitz. He had previously reached the UK Top 10 twice; once in a band and once as a solo artist. Gurvitz's first band, Gun, got to #8 in 1968 with their rock track "Race with the Devil." After two albums, the band split. Gurvitz would go on to form Three Man Army and then the Baker Gurvitz Army. Each band had limited success. By 1979, Gurvitz was a solo act. He would released two albums for Jet Records, but neither made a big splash. He moved over to RAK for the 1982 LP titled Classic. The title track would reach #8 in the UK. The LP was distributed in the US by Geffen, but it failed to generate interest. Gurvitz would then turn mainly to writing songs for other artists. After a move to the US, Gurvitz would have his first success on the US chart with this track from Eddie Money. A few years later, one of his compositions would get placed on one of the biggest selling albums of all time. With Franne Golde, Gurvitz wrote "Even If My Heart Would Break." The song, recorded by Kenny G and Aaron Neville, would be included on the soundtrack to the Whitney Houston movie The Bodyguard. The album was a massive hit becoming the biggest selling soundtrack in history with 45 million copies sold worldwide. It would also with the Grammy for Album of the Year. Gurvitz's song would not be released as a single from the soundtrack. However, Kenny G would put the tune on his 1992 album Breathless and later in '94 it would be the LP's fourth single. It would only reach #28 at AC. Gurvitz would go on to write songs for other artists like Steve Perry and REO Speedwagon. In 2015, he would co-write the majority of songs on the debut album of R&B singer/songwriter Andra Day Cheers to the Fall (#6 R&B/#48 Pop).


Sunday, February 27, 2022

"Don't Tell Me Lies" by Breathe

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3765
Date:  01/14/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  10
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Pop, Sophisti-Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  The UK band's debut album All That Jazz would turn into a gold seller thanks to a pair of Pop Top 10 hits including the #2 "Hands to Heaven." To keep the momentum going, this next single was issued out. The original version of this song had been released in January of 1986 as the band's debut single in the UK. At the time it would reach #77. Two years later after a pair of hits, this remixed version would become the band's third single in the US. The tune would once again do well for the band and reach the Pop Top 10 while also making it to #5 at AC. The remix would also be pushed out in the UK and on the song's second run, it would do a little better reaching #45. A fourth single, "All This I Should Have Known," would be released in the US, but it could only get to #34 AC.

ReduxReview:  After a pair of ballads, this upbeat tune was a nice change of pace from the band. The tune was easy to digest with its shuffling beat, hooky chorus, and David Glasper's soaring vocals. Hearing it now it just seems so odd that it failed the first time (and kinda the second time too) in the UK. It was a pleasant, memorable, radio-ready track.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After the success of their first LP, the band went back into the studio to record a follow-up. Peace of Mind would be ready by the fall of 1990 and its first single, "Say a Prayer," would be issued out. It was a dud in the UK only getting to #92. The tune did better in the US where it got to #3 AC and #21 Pop. A second single, "Does She Love That Man?," would fare less well reaching #17 AC/#34 Pop. Those results left the album peaking at a minor #116. The music biz seemed to get the best of the band and by 1992, they decided to call it quits. Members of the band went off to pursue other careers with a couple of them dabbling in their own music projects along the way.