Saturday, March 26, 2022

"Got It Made" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Song#:  3788
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  96
Peak:  69
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Soft Rock, Folk-Rock

Pop Bits:  The 1969 self-titled debut album by Crosby, Stills & Nash was highly successful, but when they added Neil Young for 1970's Déjà Vu, the quartet became legendary. The #1 album would eventually go on to be the best selling album of any of the member's careers at over seven million copies. Unfortunately, after a tumultuous tour, the quartet would break up. There was an attempt to regroup and record a new album, but that ultimately failed. They were finally able to reunite for a '74 tour, which led to a second attempt at a new album, but it didn't happen. Finally in '76, the original CSN reunited and the following year released CSN. It would get to #2 and spawn the band's most successful single, the #7 "Just a Song Before I Go." It would take another five years before the trio would get another album out, the platinum #8 Daylight Again. The group would be sidelined again with the legal and health/addiction issues surrounding David Crosby. At some point in time, Neil Young told Crosby that if he got clean he would rejoin the group. After Crosby got through rehab and a prison stint, Young kept his word and the quartet got back together to record a new album. American Dream would be ready near the end of  '88 and the title track song would be issued out as the first single. Despite making it to #4 at Rock, the song failed to reach the Pop chart. A second single, "Night Time for the Generals," would do far worse only getting to #39 Rock. Still, it was decided that a third single would be pushed out and "Got It Made" was selected. It ended up reaching #1 at Rock while also getting to #11 AC. Despite those positive results, the tune couldn't make much of a dent in the Pop chart. The album, which had not been critically well-received, peaked at #16. It would eventually be certified platinum. This song would be the last one from either the trio or quartet to make the Pop chart. CSN would continue on and record three more albums with their last one coming in 1999. None of them were big sellers. They would continue to tour and occasionally Neil Young would join them.
ReduxReview:  Well, the lovely harmonies were still there, but other than that, this was a bit of a disappointment. The song was not that engaging and it sounded like they were going for a more modern, radio-ready production sheen that didn't quite fit well with the band's folk-rock sound. Even worse was the title track that seemed to be reaching for a Motown feel. Being the quartet's first effort since 1970, no one should have expected a return to the Déjà Vu days, but one would think that the quality of the writing would still be pretty solid. It wasn't and the more "hip" 80s production didn't help.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In 1997, Crosby, Stills & Nash would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It would just be the trio version of the band that would be inducted. Neil Young was not included, which was a bit controversial and irksome to some folks. Although Young appeared on two studio albums with CSN including the classic Déjà Vu the RRHoF most likely considered the quartet a different band apart from CSN, who had six studio albums to their name. To-date, CSN has been the only group where all members have been inducted twice. David Crosby got in as a member of The Byrds in 1991. Graham Nash would go in with The Hollies in 2001. In an odd turn, Stephen Stills would get both of his inductions on the same night. Along with CSN, Stills would go in as a member of Buffalo Springfield. Had Neil Young been inducted with CSN, he would have been the first to be a three-time member. Young had been inducted as a solo artist in 1996, and then, oddly, in 1997 he got in as a member of Buffalo Springfield (the same year as CSN). He didn't get the opportunity to set that record, but another artist would be a three-time member in 2000. Eric Clapton would go in with The Yardbirds in '92, then Cream in '93. Finally, he would go in as a solo artist in 2000. To-date, Clapton remains the only three-time member of the Hall of Fame.


Friday, March 25, 2022

"She Won't Talk to Me" by Luther Vandross

Song#:  3787
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  73
Peak:  30
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Vandross' sixth studio album Any Love would be his sixth to go platinum and sixth to reach #1 R&B. Yet despite consistent sales and fifteen R&B Top 10s, Vandross still had yet to get a song into the Pop Top 10. The title track and first single to Any Love seemed like it might do the trick since it got to #1 R&B and #12 AC, but it stalled at a minor #44 on the Pop chart. Hopes were then pinned on this follow-up. It would do only slightly better making it to the Pop Top 30 while getting to #3 R&B, #17 AC, and #18 Dance. Although the results still had Vandross seeking a Pop Top 10, he finally did break one barrier. The album did well enough to become his first to make the Pop Top 10 hitting #9. It was a testament to Vandross' growing popularity beyond the R&B market and showed that he could still move product without the benefit of a major crossover hit.

ReduxReview:  Vandross was way overdue for a Pop Top 10, but this was not going to be the one to do it. Nothing against the tune, it's an enjoyable piece of R&B/dance-pop, but it just didn't have the hooky snap of something like "Stop to Love," which should have been a Top 10'er. However, Vandross' Pop chart luck would change before the decade would come to a close.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Vandross and Hubert Eaves III. Eaves had been a session player/songwriter since the early 70s. He mainly worked in the jazz field but as the decade wore on he branched out to R&B. He released is one and only solo album in 1977, the jazz fusion effort Esoteric Funk. Right after that, Eaves joined the band Mtume and recorded two albums with them. However, he left before the band scored their 1983 gold record "Juicy Fruit." After his stint in Mtume, Eaves began working with his old high school friend and collaborator James "D-Train" Williams. The pair would begin to record and perform as D-Train. They would have some good success in '82 and '83. Two fo their songs would reach the Dance Top 10 including the #1 "You're the One for Me." They also got four R&B Top 20s including the #5 hit "Something's on Your Mind," which also made the Pop chart at #79. After the duo split in '85, Eaves would mainly concentrate on songwriting/production work for other artists. This song by Vandross would be Eaves' biggest multi-chart hit following his D-Train days.


Thursday, March 24, 2022

"Walk the Dinosaur" by Was (Not Was)

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3786
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  74
Peak:  7
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Funk

Pop Bits:  After this Detroit band's third album What Up, Dog? did well in the UK, their new label Chrysalis then issued it out in their home country. The first single, "Spy in the House of Love," became the group's first to make the US Pop chart reaching #16 (#1 Dance, #77 R&B). For a follow-up, this next track was selected. The song had already been a hit in the UK reaching #10 late in '87. It would end up doing better on home turf making it to #7 while also getting to #11 Dance and #30 Modern Rock. That result helped the album reach #43. It would be the peak moment for the band, which featured future Grammy-winning producer Don Was.

ReduxReview:  Whether you loved it or hated it, there was no getting around this song back in the day. It was all over the radio and MTV. Local bar bands would fill the dance floors with versions of the tune. For a time it was a party staple with people imitating the video's dance. I admit that I found the whole thing silly, but I do have to hand it to writers David Was, Don Was, and Randy Jacobs. They somehow managed to make a song about a nuclear apocalypse into something incredibly catchy (and kitschy). I think most folks ignored the lyrics and went right for the "boom-boom-acka-lacka-lacka-boom" and the chorus. The goofy factor still reigns supreme with the song, yet it is hard to not get caught up in the earworm-worthy tune for a couple of minutes. However, a couple minutes once in a long while will suffice.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  The video for this song quickly became an MTV staple and most likely helped it reach the Pop Top 10. Filmed in a Flintstone-esque setting and featuring scantily clad "cave girls," the video also included people doing a specific dance to the chorus, which sort of caught on with viewers. The video's stone age setting and talk of dinosaurs didn't go unnoticed when it came time for a live action film version of the 60s hit animated TV show The Flintstones. The song would be used in the 1994 flick that starred John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, and Rosie O'Donnell as the Flintstones and the Rubbles. Other big names would make appearances such as Halle Berry, Elizabeth Taylor, Jay Leno, Jonathan Winters, and The B-52s. It was set to be one of the blockbusters of the summer and while it ended up doing quite well at the box office, the reviews were terrible. It made several "worst of the year" lists and would win two Golden Raspberry Awards, one for Worst Supporting Actress (Rosie O'Donnell) and Worst Screenplay. Yet despite the critical drubbing, the film, which had a budget of $46 million, would earn $130 million in the US and another $211 million overseas. The soundtrack featured several new tunes along with a few previously released tracks that fit the film's theme including "Walk the Dinosaur." The B-52's, who appeared in the film as the B.C. 52's, recorded a version of the TV show's theme "(Meet) The Flintstones)." It would be issued out as a single and get to #33 Pop/#3 Dance. The soundtrack album would get to #73.


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

"Feels So Good" by Van Halen

Song#:  3785
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  79
Peak:  35
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Van Halen's second album with new member Sammy Hagar, OU812, would become their second to reach #1. It would also be another multi-platinum success thanks to a pair of Pop Top 20 hits including the #13 "Finish What Ya Started" (#2 Rock). Yet before the LP would wrap up its run, this fourth single was selected for release. The song had already been a hit at Rock reaching #6 back in November of '88, but now it was time for the tune to get a chance on pop radio. It might have been just a little bit too late as the single would stall just inside the Pop Top 40. By this point in time, sales of the LP had started to slow after hitting the three million mark. However, in 2004 that total would be bumped up to four million.

ReduxReview:  This keyboard-driven track should have been a much bigger hit. The title of the song was perfect for the feeling it emitted. Although it certainly had a VH rock edge thanks to Eddie's guitar solo, the tune was quite happy and giddy with Hagar's loose vocals swooping over the top of a bubbly wave of rhythm. It was all summer sun and good vibes. I think because it had been a hit on rock stations months earlier, the exposure there hurt its chances at Pop once released. In other words, it had sort of run its course already. That was too bad because it definitely had more potential than a #35 showing. After this album, the band's output became spotty. They eked out a few good songs over the next couple of albums before the travesty that was Van Halen III. The band's final album was more of a return to form with Roth back on board and was enjoyable, but it still couldn't compete with their earlier classics.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The band's next two studio albums pretty much stayed the course. Both For Unlawful Common Knowledge (1991) and Balance (1995) would hit #1 and go triple platinum. While each LP would only featured one Pop Top 30 entry, the two works would spawn eight Rock Top 10s with four of them hitting #1. Then in '96 the relationship between Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar broke down, which led to Hagar either being fired from the band or leaving on his own accord (depending who tells the story). For a very short time, Van Halen reunited with former lead singer David Lee Roth, which resulted in two new tracks for a compilation album. But once again, Roth's antics left him out of the band for a second time. VH then tested singer/songwriter Mitch Malloy for the lead spot, but he eventually bowed out. The band then brought on board former Extreme leader Gary Cherone. He would front VH for the 1998 album Van Halen III. While it got to #4 and spawned a #1 Rock hit, the album only went gold and reviews of the LP and Cherone were not favorable. Therefore, VH and Cherone parted ways. After a break, VH brought back Hagar for a tour, but he was gone again afterwards. In 2006, two major changes happened. Long time bassist and key background vocalist Michael Anthony was out of the band and replaced by Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang. Then Roth was once again at the mic. The new lineup would record 2012's A Different Kind of Truth. The LP was well-received and would reach #2. It would be VH's last studio album as they would dissolve following the death of Eddie Van Halen in 2020.


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

"Bring Down the Moon" by Boy Meets Girl

Song#:  3784
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  82
Peak:  49
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, aka Boy Meets Girl, achieved their second Pop Top 40 entry and first Top 10 hit with the #5 "Waiting for a Star to Fall." The song, which also got to #1AC, served as the lead single from their second album Reel Life. For a follow up, this next track was selected. It didn't catch on nearly as well stopping short of the Pop Top 40 while only reaching #28 AC. Due to the initial hit, by this point in time the album had already peaked at #76. A third single, "Stormy Love," would be issued out, but it would fail to reach the charts.

ReduxReview:  I liked the slightly dark, mysterious opening of this tune, but when the chorus came along it didn't seem to quite fit the mood that had been set and in comparison sounded weak. There were also a couple of other little bridge sections that came out of nowhere and seemed out of place. Overall it was a good, interesting track, but it wasn't as immediately memorable or endearing as "Waiting for a Star to Fall." I think "Stormy Love" had a better chance to make the Top 40, but for some reason it ended up as the third single and with little promotion it tanked. Then sadly as their career was at its peak, the rug was pulled out from under them. Ah well. That's the music business.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although the album wasn't a big seller, the hit single along with the husband and wife's track record at writing hits for Whitney Houston kept them in good graces with their label RCA Records and a third album was ordered up from the pair. In 1990, their next effort, New Dream, was set to go. Unfortunately, before it could be released, RCA went through a shakeup. With new management came housecleaning and after a review of their roster and upcoming releases, it was decided that the new Boy Meets Girl album would be shelved. Along with the album went the duo's recording contract. They continued to write songs for other artists during the 90s and even after their divorce in 2000. In 2003, they self-released their fourth album The Wonderground and in 2004 they got RCA Records to not only reissue Reel Life, but to also release the long-shelved New Dream.


Monday, March 21, 2022

"Cryin'" by Vixen

Song#:  3783
Date:  01/28/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  22
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  This all-female band kicked off their career with the Top 30 hit "Edge of a Broken Heart." The tune was co-written (with Fee Waybill) and produced by newly minted star Richard Marx. The rockin' tune was a good introduction to the band and they would follow it up with this mid-tempo track. It would do just slightly better hitting #22 on both the Pop and Rock charts. The two songs helped their self-titled debut album reach #41. A third single would be released, but it failed to reach the charts.

ReduxReview:  Although this song did slightly better on the chart, it seems that "Edge of a Broken Heart" is the one that most folks remember from Vixen. I haven't heard this song since it was on the chart. The track was another good pop/rock tune from the band that sort of sounded like an outtake from Heart's 1985 comeback album. It wasn't quite as hooky or memorable as "Edge of a Broken Heart," but it was definitely good enough for a Top 30 showing.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1)  This is a remake of a song originally co-written (with Gregg Tripp) and recorded by guitarist Jeff Paris. He got his first break in the late 70s with the disco/soul/pop band Pieces (then under his real name Geoffrey Lieb), who recorded one album in '79. That band evolved into L.A.X. They would record a pair of albums that yielded three Dance chart entries including the 1980 #4 "All My Love." After that band dissolved, Paris would leave behind disco and soul for hard rock. He began to write songs that got picked up by artists like Lita Ford and Y&T. Paris then secured a solo record deal and in '86 released a debut album titled Race to Paradise. However, it was his second LP, 1987's Wired Up that got the attention of Vixen. They would end up recording three songs from Wired Up for their debut album including "Cryin'." In addition, Vixen would record a track from Paris' debut album as well, but it was only included as a bonus track on the Japanese release of the CD.  2) On the band's first album, half of the tracks had members co-writing the songs. When it came time to record their follow up LP, 1990's Rev It Up, band members would co-write all but one of the tracks. The only one they did not compose was the Diane Warren tune "It Wouldn't Be Love." With Warren's track record as a hit maker, one might assume that the band recorded the song with an eye toward releasing it as a single. However, that didn't happen. The LP's first single was "How Much Love," which got to ##11 Rock and #44 Pop. The follow up "Love Is a Killer" would stall at a low #71 Pop. The album would top out at #52. That apparently wasn't a good enough result for the band's label, EMI, and it seems Vixen was left off their roster. That along with internal struggles led to Vixen's demise. Like many bands from the 80s who split up, there would be several reunions with various members, a lawsuit, and a couple of indie albums recorded. Yet nothing could match the success of their debut LP and its two Pop Top 30 hits.