Saturday, April 2, 2022

"Eternal Flame" by The Bangles

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3795
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  56
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The first single from the band's third album Everything, "In Your Room," would become their fourth Pop Top 10 hit reaching #5. While the song did well, it didn't necessarily push the album up the chart. Although it would quickly go gold, the LP would initially peak at a disappointing #33. However, that would change with the release of this second single. The power ballad quickly took off and in a short nine weeks it would become The Bangles' second Pop #1. It would also spend two weeks atop the AC chart. The single would become a gold seller and help the album rebound to a new peak of #15. It would then be certified platinum. It was a big, winning moment for the band, but behind the scenes the hit furthered the divisive feelings that were already at play with the members.

ReduxReview:  This was a big ol' bowl of corn pudding and I gladly ate it up. From the music box-style opening through to the big splashy ending, the song was a lovely piece of chamber pop that checked all the boxes for me. I knew this was going to be a big hit after the first listen. There seemed to be a lot of talk at the time from critics and even with the band and their management that this song wasn't representative of the Bangles' sound. That is kind of true, but save for the retro feel, I didn't think "Manic Monday" did either. I think it is great for artists to draw outside of the lines. It keeps things fresh and gives them opportunity to explore and learn. Hoffs, Steinberg, and Kelly came up with a terrific pop ballad that most any artist would have loved to have recorded. Yet why give it away just because it didn't fit a certain mold? Hoffs lobbied hard for the tune and in the end it gave The Bangles a major #1 hit, which they needed to keep the album afloat. Sadly, the tune further drove the wedge that had developed between Hoffs and the band.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by band member Susanna Hoffs along with the writing team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. Like many pop songs, this one stemmed from a title idea. It seems that Hoffs was talking with Steinberg about a private tour the band did of Elvis Presley's home Graceland. When they visited the garden, they spotted a little box and asked what it was. They were told it was the eternal flame, but because of the rain that day it was off. The phrase "eternal flame" reminded Steinberg of something he had seen as a child and that led to him suggesting it as a song title. Steinberg and Hoffs worked up some lyrics and then took them to Kelly who began composing the music. The demo was recorded with an acoustic guitar, but then producer Davitt Sigerson decided to give it a more Beatle-esqe, torch song arrangement that was different from the band's normal guitar/drums-driven sound.  2) In a 2012 interview on a BBC program, Hoffs revealed that she performed the lead vocal for the song in the nude. Apparently, producer Sigerson decided to play a practical joke on Hoffs and told her that he had just come from a studio session with Olivia Newton-John. He said that she recorded all her vocals in the nude as he gets her best performances in that way. Hoff said she had her own routine for recording vocals that included wearing the same outfit and so to try and break that and do something different, she decided to follow the apparent Olivia method. It seems she recorded in a darkened studio and there was also a post or partition in front of her so no one could see. It ended up working quite well. It wasn't until some time had passed after the sessions that Sigerson told her about the ruse.


Friday, April 1, 2022

"Thinking of You" by Sa-Fire

Song#:  3794
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  80
Peak:  12
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Singer Wilma Cosmé, aka Sa-Fire, got her first Pop chart entry with the Latin freestyle track "Boy, I've Been Told," the first single lifted from her self-titled debut album. It performed fairly well reaching #48 Pop and #13 Dance. A second freestyle single failed to chart at Pop, so the label took a different tactic and decided to push out this ballad as the third single. It ended up being a good decision with the song nearly cracking the Pop Top 10 while getting to #4 AC. It would prove to be Sa-Fire's biggest hit on the Pop chart. The single would then help the album get to #79 Pop/#84 R&B.

ReduxReview:  The inspiration for this song came from the death of Sa-Fire's uncle Mario Santiago from AIDS in 1984. The Spanish adaptation of the song (see below) was used in AIDS awareness PSAs in the US and throughout Latin America. It was a lovely way to honor her uncle and it was effective in getting information across about HIV. I had totally forgotten about this song and at first it didn't sound familiar, but when the chorus kicked in I knew it right away. It was a heartfelt tune and you could tell from Sa-Fire's performance that it was personal. It should have gone Top 10, but I think since it was slow in catching on in certain markets, by the time it got near the Top 10 it had already peaked in key areas and the lost of momentum slowed its climb. She may have been more known for her freestyle sounds, but this song was really when she had her moment.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  While originally written (by Sa-Fire, Russ DeSalvo, and Bob Steele) and performed in English, for the Latin market along with AIDS PSAs a Spanish translation was commissioned. Actor/musician Ruben Blades would handle the work for the Spanish version of the song title "El Recuerdo De Ti." It would appear on the 12" vinyl version of the "Thinking of You" single. Originally from Panama, Blades moved to Miami after college and ended up working for the Fania label as a songwriter. He was then able to start a solo recording career in 1970. By 1983, his works began garnering Grammy nominations and he started to branch out into acting. Through to 2020, Blades would win nine Grammys over eighteen nominations along with winning ten Latin Grammys. He has appeared in many films and TV shows over the years including being a regular cast member on the zombie-themed show Fear of the Walking Dead. He also starred in the ill-fated 1998 Paul Simon Broadway musical Capeman. In 2020, Blades would be honored at the Latin Grammys as their Person of the Year.


Thursday, March 31, 2022

"Tell Her" by Kenny Loggins

Song#:  3793
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  85
Peak:  76
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Loggins' sixth solo studio album Back to Avalon was not performing all that well. Although it got a boost by containing two previously released movie hits, "Meet Me Halfway" (#11 Pop) and "Nobody's Fool" (#8 Pop), the LP's first true single, "I'm Gonna Miss You," ended up being a miss stopping at a low #82. To try and right the ship, this next single was issued out. Unfortunately, it would only do marginally better peaking just a few notches higher. Back to Avalon would halt at #69 and be Loggins' first solo effort to not at least reach the gold level sales mark. This single would be the last one issued out from the album and Loggins' last to reach the Pop chart in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  So just a random guess here, but it seems like Loggins might have thought - hey, why don't I take an oldie hit and give it the ol' "Footloose" treatment! That's what this sounds like to me. It could have also been something the label asked for because there wasn't a surefire hit among the other new cuts on the album. While it wasn't that bad of an idea, the results were not all that great. It just sounded overdone and a bit strange. I'm sure Loggins knew the song and liked it, but I highly doubt it was one of his all-time favorite songs that he'd been dying to cover. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it. The track is kind of odd and it didn't do Loggins any favors.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song written by Bert Berns and first recorded by Johnny Thunder in 1962. Neither his version nor one by singer Ed Townsend that same year were able to chart. However, in 1963 a version by the female-led vocal group The Exciters (and recorded as "Tell Him") reached #4 Pop/#5 R&B. Several other artists have recorded the song, but besides The Exciters and Loggins, the only other artist to reach the Pop chart with a version was one by singer Dean Parrish in 1966 (#97).  2) Loggins would have a bit of a rebound with his next album, 1991's Leap of Faith. Despite the track "Conviction of the Heart" only getting to #65 at Pop (and becoming Loggins' last single to reach that chart), the song along with two others from the LP would crack the AC Top 10. That generated enough interest in the LP for it to reach #71 and go gold. For his next album, Loggins chose to do one that was geared towards adults and children. 1994's Return to Pooh Corner featured a set of thematic cover tunes along with a couple updated versions of songs Loggins had written. Although it featured no significant charting single (the title track got to #25 AC), the album caught on and made it to #65 Pop. It was soon certified gold, but a few years later it was bumped up to platinum. It was also nominiated for a Grammy in the Children's category. In 1996, Loggins would score his first #1 AC song with yet another movie theme, "For the First Time," which was from the Michelle Pfeiffer/George Clooney rom-com One Fine Day. Loggins' chart fortunes waned after that, but he continue to record albums and tour. He would earn another Grammy nomination in 2010 in the Best New Age album category for his LP In a Dream.


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

"24/7" by Dino

Song#:  3792
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  42
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  This singer/songwriter's single "Summergirls" got an extra push when picked up by 4th & B'way Records in 1988. It would do fairly well reaching the halfway mark on the Pop chart. That seemed to be enough for the label to ask for a full album and Dino then worked up his debut effort 24/7 writing, arranging, and producing all of the tracks. Once finished, this title track single would be issued out as a single. The song would nearly crack the Pop Top 40 while getting to #43 Dance. However, it was at R&B that the song did best peaking at #12. That success set Dino up well for his next single.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't a big fan of the freestyle workout "Summergirls," but this next single certainly showed Dino in a much better light. The chilled out, soulful groove was a totally different feel and the production was on-point for the time period. Dino even sounded much better on the tune, which had a memorable chorus. The lyrics have a whiff of cheez-whiz to them, but the rest of the track is good enough to overcome that. I remember this song from back in the day and was always surprised that it didn't do better on the Pop chart. It sounded like an easy Top 20 to me.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Later on in his career, Dino would write or co-write songs for other artists. In 1995, a song he co-wrote with Rebecca Byram, "My Promise to You," would get picked up and recorded by the male vocal trio No Mercy. Consisting of Americans Marty Cintron and twin brothers Ariel and Gabriel Hernández, No Mercy was assembled in Germany by producer Frank Farian (of Milli Vanilli fame). Their first single, a remake of Everything But the Girl's #2 hit "Missing," didn't fare that well, but a second single from their debut album My Promise (self-titled for US release), "Where Do You Go," would be a worldwide hit. It would make the Top 10 in several countries including the US where it reached #5. Follow up singles didn't perform quite as well, but the hit was enough to get albums sold. In the US, the LP would only reach #104, but touring, fans, and other promotion helped get it certified gold in 1997. Dino's "My Promise to You" would be on that album, but it was not issued out as a single. No Mercy would release a far less successful LP in 1998 and an indie effort in 2007.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

"Fading Away" by Will to Power

Song#:  3791
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  65
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  After a couple of Dance hits that failed to fully ignite on the Pop chart, this group headed up by Bob Rosenberg struck gold with the #1 "Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley" (#2 AC). The dual covers hit would help the group's self-titled debut album get to #68. For a follow up, they would retreat back to their dance-pop formula and push out "Fading Away." It would do well at Dance where it became their second chart topper. However, it seems that pop radio and listeners were not as enthralled by the group's more club oriented original material and that left this single stalling way outside of the Pop Top 40. It would be the fourth and final single from the LP.

ReduxReview:  Yeah, this wasn't going to cut it for pop radio especially after the group got established with a covers ballad. They really needed a less club-oriented track in order to keep their pop audience. However, that really wasn't what the group was about. They were a freestyle/dance outfit that just happened to land a major hit with a covers medley. I don't think having that track as a hit was in the plan, so there wasn't much else to release afterwards besides another dance track. This one was a capable, average freestyle track that seemed to heat up dance floors, but received a chilly reception elsewhere. They rebounded with another ballad cover (see below), which I found just as unappetizing as their medley, and then promptly disappeared. Still, Rosenberg came out of it with two major Pop hits and a pair of Dance #1s.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The success of their #1 medley and debut album allowed Rosenberg and his Will to Power project the opportunity to record a follow up effort. As sessions geared up for the album, Rosenberg replaced his original lead singer Suzi Carr with Elin Michaels. Michaels had been a background singer on the first album. Rosenberg would then produce the new LP titled Journey Home and write all but two tracks, which were cover tunes. One of those remakes was of the 1975 #2 10cc hit "I'm Not in Love." Released as the LP's first single in 1990, it would do well getting to #7 Pop and #4 AC. Then instead of issuing out one of Rosenberg's originals as a follow-up, it seems the label chose to push out the second cover tune "Boogie Nights," which had originally be a hit in 1977 by Heatwave (#2 Pop/#5 R&B). It failed to reach any chart. With that result, the LP could only manage to reach #178. After that, Rosenberg and Will to Power seemed to disappear. One could only surmise that after the second album failed to sell, Epic Records left them off their roster. It seems Rosenberg used the Will to Power name for a one-off 1994 indie single, a cover of the Daryl Hall & John Oates 1976 #4 hit "Sara Smile" (although the WtP version had it oddly spelled as "Sarah Smile) along with a 2002 single. Then in 2004, Rosenberg would put out a new Will to Power album titled Spirit Warrior.


Monday, March 28, 2022

"We've Saved the Best for Last" by Kenny G with Smokey Robinson

Song#:  3790
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  47
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Adult Contemporary, R&B

Pop Bits:  Kenny G's fifth album Silhouette would nearly replicate the success of his previous LP, 1986's multi-platinum #6 Duotones. It would get to #8 and would eventually sell over 4 million copies. That success was due in part to the #13 Pop/#2 AC/#35 R&B title track hit. Also helping things along was this next single that featured vocals by the legendary Smokey Robinson. While it would miss out on the Pop Top 40, the song would get to #4 AC and #18 R&B. A third single, the instrumental "Against Doctor's Orders," would miss both the Pop and AC charts, but was able to eke out a #65 appearance at R&B.

ReduxReview:  Although this song heavily leaned towards AC, I was a little surprised it didn't get inside the Pop Top 40. Written by Dennis Matkosky, Lou Pardini, and Paul Gordon, it was a well-written tune that I assume was sent over to Kenny G by label head Clive Davis. Having Smokey Robinson stop by for the vocals was also a good call. That perhaps could have come about because Pardini and Robinson had history. Pardini wrote (with Jimmy George) Robinson's #8 Pop/#1 AC/#2 R&B hit "Just to See Her," which netted Robinson his first Grammy. However it all came about, it was one of the better pop collaborations that Kenny G recorded. He kept his noodling to a minimum and let Robinson take the wheel for the most part, which was a smart choice.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The Silhouette album would earn Kenny G his second Grammy nomination. The LP was up for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the '89 awards. He would receive a third nomination the following year in the same category. However, it was for a song that did not appear on any of his studio albums. In the fall of '89, the jazz label GRP would issue out an album that celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. The LP featured several artists (mainly from the jazz world) covering music and songs that had appeared in the Peanuts TV specials. Famous jazz artists including Chick Corea and Gerry Mulligan would perform on tracks along with stars such as B.B. King and Patti Austin. Kenny G would be invited to record a track and he would do a version of "Breadline Blues," a song written by Dave Grusin that first appeared in the 1988 TV miniseries This Is America, Charlie Brown. It would appear in the episode "The Smithsonian and the Presidency." Oddly, the Kenny G version that appeared on the Anniversary album would be released before the episode would air on TV on April 19, 1989.


Sunday, March 27, 2022

"Sincerely Yours" by Sweet Sensation (with Romeo J.D.)

Song#:  3789
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  93
Peak:  14
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Freestyle, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This female trio was four singles deep into their debut album Take It While It's Hot and still hadn't scored a significant Pop chart hit. The fourth single, "Never Let You Go," peaked one notch lower that its predecessor at #58. Normally, the label would call it quits by this point, however "Never Let You Go" ended up peaking at #1 on the Dance chart and do to that success it was decided to give it a go with a fifth single. "Sincerely Yours" was selected and it ended up being the right choice. Although the tune wouldn't due all that well at Dance topping out at #30, it would finally break the trio into the upper reaches of the Pop chart getting inside the Top 20. Thanks to the hit, the album would rebound and make it to a new peak of #63.

ReduxReview:  I wasn't necessarily a fan of the trio's first two singles and this one didn't really blow me away either. However, it was a little more hooky and pop oriented that their previous efforts and that helped it on the Pop chart. The addition of Romeo J.D. was a good choice as well. Frankly, it kind of sounded like something that Debbie Gibson might have come up with had she been toying more with freestyle. Perhaps it was that feeling that finally grabbed listener's attention.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song featured a rap/vocal by Romeo J.D. (real name Joe Malloy). Romeo had some success in '85 as part of the hip-hop trio Boogie Boys. Their debut album City Life reached #10 R&B thanks in part to the #6 R&B hit "A Fly Girl." The Boogie Boys would record two more albums that didn't do as well. It was while The Boogie Boys were recording in the studio that two members of the soon-to-be Sweet Sensation came in. The chance meeting led to Romeo writing or co-writing five tracks for Sweet Sensation's debut album including the #1 Dance hit "Never Let You Go" along with "Sincerely Yours," on which he got to perform.