Friday, April 29, 2022

"Heaven Help Me" by Deon Estus

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  3819
Date:  02/25/1989
Debut:  67
Peak:  5
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  This singer/bassist from Detroit, Michigan, got his first real taste of the music business when he became the bass player for Brainstorm, a local disco/funk outfit. After the group broke up he took off for Europe and started to get gigs in recording sessions and on tour with artists like Marvin Gaye. His career took an upward swing when he met a couple of guys in England who were recording their first album - Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael of Wham! Estus would be hired on to play bass on their first album and also accompany them on tour. He stayed on with the duo through to their breakup in '86 and then continued on working with George Michael as his solo career took off. Following the huge success of Michael's Faith album, Estus was given the opportunity to record his own solo album. Working with a variety of producers, Estus wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on his debut LP Spell. In late '88, the first single from the album, "Me or the Rumours," was issued out. It was able to reach #15 on the US Dance chart. Next up for release was this track that was co-written and produced by George Michael and featured him on backing vocals. It would do far better reaching #3 R&B, #3 AC, and #5 Pop. That result helped the album get to #89. The LP's title track would be the third single, but it could only reach #11 AC/#74 R&B while failing to make the Pop chart. It was a pretty good start to a solo career, but then a second album never came. Because of this lone Top 10 hit on the Pop chart, Estus was tagged as a one-hit wonder. Estus returned to being a musician for hire and got to work with artists like Tina Turner, Annie Lennox, and Elton John. He also remained working with George Michael until Michael's death in 2016. Estus himself would pass away in 2021.

ReduxReview:  This was certainly a flashback. I haven't heard this track since its original chart run and had completely forgotten about it. The tune got a boost from George Michael via writing, production, and vocals. With him being so hot at the time, that promo angle helped to shine a brighter light on the single. It was a quietly groovy tune that set a nice mood. Both the chorus and production were excellent. Estus didn't have a distinctive voice, but his delivery was perfect for the song. Unfortunately, there wasn't another track on the album as enticing and single-worthy as this one and it left Estus as one-hit wonder.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Estus would spend a couple of years with Brainstorm, a Detroit-based disco/funk outfit that had gotten signed to Tabu Records. Their first album, 1977's Stormin', would feature their biggest hit, the #14R&B/#14 Dance track "Lovin' Is Really My Game." The album would get to #31 R&B/#145 Pop. It was after that success that Estus joined the band. They would record two more albums in '78 and '79 with their best single effort during that time being the #21 Dance/#65 R&B entry "Hot for You." It seems that when disco went bust, so did Brainstorm. Various members of the group continued their music careers joining up with other artists like Cameo, The Sounds of Blackness, the Funk Brothers, and others. Estus would be the only former member to earn a solo Pop Top 10 hit.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

"It's Only Love" by Simply Red

Song#:  3818
Date:  02/25/1989
Debut:  77
Peak:  57
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  The UK band made a splash with their 1985 debut album Picture Book. It would be a platinum seller thanks to the #1 hit "Holding Back the Years." Their second LP, 1987's Men and Women, would be another success in the UK and other countries, but in the US it didn't get the same attention. The LP wouldn't produce a significant hit single and failed to even reach gold level sales. As '89 began, the band was ready to release their third album, A New Flame. This first single was pushed out and in the UK it did fine reaching #13. However, in the US the tune got a little action at AC (#19) and R&B (#22), but at Pop it couldn't find an audience and stopped in the bottom half of the chart. With that result, the album hit an initial peak of #55. It seemed like the album was going to continue the band's downward trend, but then a second single would turn things around in a big way.

ReduxReview:  The band does an admirable job with this soul track, but it wasn't one that was going to burn up the chart. It was a bit of an obscure album track remake that perhaps the band thought they could turn into a hit. While it may not have been as sexy or sultry as the original, Simply Red set a nice groove and gave the song a second life. The problem was that it didn't have the strength to cut through the other clutter on pop radio and it got lost in the cacophony of hooky glam rock, freestyle, dance-pop, new jack swing, etc., that was crowding the chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by soul superstar Barry White. His 1978 version recorded under the title "It's Only Love Doing Its Thing" was included on the #1 R&B/#36 Pop platinum album The Man. Written by brother/sister duo Jimmie and Vella Camron, the track was not issued out as a single. However, it did serve as the b-side to the album's biggest single, the #1 R&B/#60 Pop hit "You're Sweetness Is My Weakness." Simply Red's version would cut the title in half. Elements of White's recording would be used in the 2003 50 Cent hit "21 Questions," which got to #1 Pop/#1 R&B.


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

"Seventeen" by Winger

Song#:  3817
Date:  02/25/1989
Debut:  78
Peak:  26
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:   In 1970, an eight-year-old from Denver, Colorado, Kip Winger, began a band with his two brothers and a friend that would eventually be called Blackwood Creek. The band gained experience and over the next ten years would perform around the Denver area. By 1980, the various members had other ambitions and so they called it a day before trying to make a record. Kip Winger chose to leave Denver and spent the bulk of the 80s writing songs, working as a session musician, and was even a member of Alice Cooper's backing band for a couple of years (and played on the albums Constrictor and Raise Your Fist and Yell). In '87, Winger decided to shift his focus to creating his own band. With three other musicians he formed Sahara. They were able to get signed by Atlantic Records and work began on a debut album with producer Beau Hill. By the time it was ready, the band changed its name to Winger and a first single, "Madalaine," was released. It picked up some airplay and got to #27 Rock. Next up for release was this track. It would help break the band in a bigger way with the tune getting to #19 Rock and cracking the Pop Top 30. A highly requested video for the song helped it along. The album would peak at #21, but thanks to another hit, it would be a long-tail seller for the next year and eventually go platinum.

ReduxReview:  I bought the Winger album back in the day, but I think only partially for the music. I believe the CD came with a poster of Kip Winger, which I immediately hung on my wall. He was definite eye candy. However, I will say that I did like the album. The band was solid and Winger's voice was quite good. They were able to mix some commercial-leaning tunes like this one along with some that bordered on prog rock. I got the feeling the listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin. This single seems to have a few references in it. Despite the jailbait-ish lyrics, I thought this was a good arena/glam rock tune that had terrific production for Beau Hill.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although Blackwood Creek never got the chance to make a record during their 70s heydays, they finally did decades later. Kip Winger, his brother Nate, and original guitarist Peter Fletcher, got back together as a trio and in 2009 recorded a self-titled debut album. Although they wrote new songs for the album instead of using their old originals, the band 70s rock roots were still apparent.  2) For some, this song's lyrics didn't necessarily sit well with them.  Lines like "she's only seventeen - daddy say's she's too young, but she's old enough for me" seemed a little creepy especially when coming from a 27-year-old Kip Winger. It seems Winger got inspiration from the the Beatles' 1964 #14 "I Saw Her Standing There," which had the opening line of "well, she was just seventeen and you know what I mean." While Winger's song doesn't explicitly state that the guy is having sex with a seventeen-year-old, some folks read between the lines and figured that was the gist. At the time he wrote it, the age of consent varied from state to state and in Colorado it was seventeen (still appears to be). Apparently, Winger didn't realize most states had their set at eighteen and so he wrote the song based on his limited knowledge along with what the Beatles had sang. Kip Winger and the band got a fair amount of flack for the song, including a reference on MTV's Beavis and Butt-Head that said the song was Joey Buttafuoco's theme (if you don't know what that means, look it up), but it wasn't so controversial that it got banned.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

"Driven Out" by The Fixx

Song#:  3816
Date:  02/25/1989
Debut:  81
Peak:  55
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  Following two certified albums (one platinum, one gold), the band's fourth album, Walkabout, didn't sell as well and stopped at #30. It featured only one Pop chart entry with the #19 "Secret Separation" (#1 Rock). They would follow up the album with 1987's React, which combined live performances with three new studio tracks. A lone single would fail to make the Pop chart and the album would stall at #110. Prior to recording their fifth studio album, Calm Animals, the band would switch labels from MCA to RCA. It was perhaps hoped the change would invigorate the band's career, but this lead single from the album dashed those hopes a bit. While it would become the band's third #1 at Rock and get to #11 at Modern Rock, it faltered on the Pop chart and wasn't even able crack the Top 50. A second single failed to make the Pop chart. With those results, the album stopped at #72.

ReduxReview:  With a vague R.E.M./U2/alt rock sound, The Fixx returned. They were welcomed at rock radio with this song, but it wasn't quite right for mainstream pop. The tune just didn't have the appeal or hooks of their other Pop Top 20 hits. They rallied back a little bit with 1991's "How Much Is Enough" (#35 Pop), which was more memorable and radio friendly, but it didn't fully revive their career and their major label days came to an end.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After one album with RCA, the band went back to MCA for their next album Ink. The first single "How Much Is Enough" would become their last to reach any of the charts (#35 Pop, #10 Modern Rock, #11 Rock). Unfortunately, the album didn't sell (#111) and that left them off the MCA roster. The band would continue to record and release indie albums while also touring. Lead singer Cy Curnin would also have a solo career on the side. Since 2005, he has release several albums and EPs although none have charted


Monday, April 25, 2022

"Radio Romance" by Tiffany

Song#:  3815
Date:  02/25/1989
Debut:  84
Peak:  35
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Tiffany kicked off her second album Hold an Old Friend's Hand with the single "All This Time." It would do well reaching #6 Pop and #10 AC. However, since her #1 debut album featured a pair of #1 Pop hits and another Top 10, this single's performance was a bit disappointing. Tiffany needed something better to help sales of the album, which at this point was not on track to replicate her debut's success. This next single was pushed out with hopes that it would at least maintain some momentum. Unfortunately, it did not. The song stalled just inside the Pop Top 40. A third single, the album's title track, would get to #37 AC, but fail to make the Pop chart. With those results, the album couldn't get any higher than #17. It would go platinum, but that was a significant drop from the multi-platinum success of her debut LP. This song would end up being Tiffany's last solo effort to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This song sounded like a disco tune from the late 70s enhanced with a little late 80s production. In other words, it really wasn't a good single for the time period. It's not an awful song. I guess I'd call it cute, but cute was not going to cut it on the chart and indeed it stalled early. It all comes down to material and manager/producer George Tobin just didn't secure the right songs that would keep Tiffany relevant. She could sing and entertain. She just needed good tunes and her second album fell way short of that mark. By the time she got away from Tobin, the music landscape had changed and most of her original fans had moved on. She tried to keep up but it was just a little too late.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  After Tiffany turned 18 in the fall of '89, she was able to leave her manager/producer George Tobin. She signed on with New Kids on the Block management team and a year later her third album, New Inside, was issued out. The LP had Tiffany moving into a more contemporary pop/R&B sound. The change wasn't well received and neither the album nor any of its singles charted. She reunited briefly with producer George Tobin for 1993's Dreams Never Die, but it failed to get her back on the charts. It would be her last album for MCA Records. Over the years Tiffany would record more albums for indie labels including one in the country genre (2011's Rose Tattoo). She would also dabble in acting making appearances on a few TV shows, but it would be a pair of sci-fi/comedy/horror flicks that would get her name circulated again. First was 2010's Mega Piranha, which became an unexpected success on the SyFy channel. Then in a bit of stunt casting, Tiffany would appear alongside her old chart rival Debbie Gibson in 2011's Mega Python vs. Gatoroid. Tiffany would also appear in several reality TV programs including Celebrity Wife Swap and What Not to Wear.