Saturday, May 7, 2022

"Close My Eyes Forever" by Lita Ford (Duet with Ozzy Osbourne)

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3825
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  81
Peak:  8
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  After a pair of albums for Mercury that did not sell well, Ford moved over to MCA for her third album Lita. The change paid off when the LP's first single, "Kiss Me Deadly," became a #12 Pop/#40 Rock hit. A second single, "Back to the Cave," got to #22 Rock, but it failed to make the Pop chart. However, Ford was not done. For a third single, a remixed version of this duet with Ozzy Osbourne was pushed out. The power ballad began to catch on and eventually it would find its way into the Pop Top 10 while reaching #25 Rock. It would also sell well enough to go gold. The hit would help the album rebound and get to a new peak of #29. By June, it would be certified platinum. A fourth single, "Falling in and Out of Love," would only get to #37 Rock and fail to make the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  Ford wrote this song with Osbourne. The two had a connection because Ozzy's wife Sharon had become Ford's manager. I'm guessing Ford was trying to keep her rock cred intact and therefore released "Back to the Cave" as the second single. This power ballad really should have been the follow up to "Kiss Me Deadly." At a time when glam rock was at its peak, the song was an obvious hit and having Ozzy as a duet partner only added to its strength.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Ford's third album, Stiletto, would not do nearly as well. It featured only one charting single, the #14 Rock/#98 Pop track "Hungry." With that result the album stalled at #52. Her third and final album for MCA, '91's Dangerous Curves, would halt at a minor #132. However, the lead single,"Shot of Poison," would earn Ford her second Grammy nod for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. The song would reach #21 Rock/#45 Pop. Both the single and the album would be her last ones to chart. After an album in '96, Ford would take an extended break from music to raise a family. She would return to recording and touring in 2009.


Friday, May 6, 2022

"I'll Be There for You" by Bon Jovi

#1 Alert!
Song#:  3824
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  82
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  Bon Jovi's fourth album, New Jersey, got started on the right foot with its first two singles making the Pop Top 3 including the #3 "Born to Be My Baby." After pushing out a pair of rockers, the band changed tactics for their next single and issued out this big power ballad. It surprisingly debuted a bit low on the Pop chart, but within two weeks it flew up into the Top 40. Eventually, the tune would wind its way up to the top of the chart becoming the band's fourth #1. It would end up being their last song to reach that position. The tune would also get to #5 Rock. By this point in time the album had been certified for selling over four million copies. This hit would help increase that to five million by the end of May '89.

ReduxReview:  This sentimental power ballad hit the airways at just the right time. Glam rock was pretty much at its peak and it seemed the bigger the power ballad, the better. Bon Jovi and producer Bruce Fairbairn cranked this ditty up to 11 and it paid off. The tune was a lighter-waving, swoon-worthy track that was destined to top the Pop chart. I thought it was one of the better tracks from New Jersey and it probably should have been the second single. It wasn't in the same category as classics like "Wanted Dead or Alive," but it was a solid tune that gave them a final #1 Pop hit.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Bon Jovi's hard rock sound was not something that was going to be heard on country radio. A few of their songs, if rearranged, could pass for country tunes, but at the height of late 80s glam rock era, the band didn't need to shill their wares to a whole other audience. Plus it probably would have been difficult to get country stations at the time to accept the band especially since at the time the format was going through changes and returning to a more traditional sound following the country-pop explosion of the early 80s. However, by the 2000s, country music was again going through changes and some artists that would become stars were influenced by rock. Bon Jovi picked up on this and so for their 2005 album Have a Nice Day, the band recorded the song "Who Says You Can't Go Home" as both a rocker in their standard sound and then as a country-influenced duet with Jennifer Nettles, lead singer of the popular country duo Sugarland. It would be the third single released from the LP. The rock version would get to #23 Pop. The country version would end up reaching #1 on the Country chart. After that success, Bon Jovi then worked with on a more country-styled album with Nashville producer Dann Huff. Lost Highway would be released in 2007 and feature guest appearances by country stars Big & Rich and LeAnn Rimes. The band's duet with Rimes, "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore," would be released as a single and get to #47 Country.


Thursday, May 5, 2022

"Iko Iko" by The Belle Stars

Song#:  3823
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  14
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  This all-female British band hit their peak in 1983 with their song "Sign of the Times." It would hit #3 in the UK while making a minor indent in the US Pop chart at #75. The band's self-titled debut album would also do well at home getting to #15 (#191 US). But just as their career was taking off, things began to unravel. They recorded a few one-off singles that didn't do well at home and didn't chart in the US. Tracks for second album produced by Anne Dudley (of Art of Noise fame) were shelved. Then their label, Stiff, was having financial issues and got bought by Island Records. By that point, The Belle Stars had been reduced to a trio. They recorded one more song in '86, "World Domination," which did get to #2 on the US Dance chart, but it seems that wasn't enough for the label or the band and the Belle Stars came to an end. Flash forward a couple years later when a movie titled Rain Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise was released. The future Best Picture Oscar winner happened to include a song that was a particular favorite of Hoffman's, "Iko Iko." The version picked for the film was one recorded by The Belle Stars in 1982. The single of that song became the band's first to make the UK chart getting to #35 (it did not make the US Pop chart, but did get to #41 AC). As Rain Man grew into a major hit, folks were getting interested in "Iko Iko." Just a few weeks prior to the film winning four Oscars and while it was still doing well in theaters, the song was issued out as a single. It would become a surprise hit making the Pop Top 20 while also getting to #7 Dance. Of course, the band was no longer and it seems the sudden resurgence in the song's popularity didn't entice them to get back together.

ReduxReview:  This song had been around for decades, but I believe the first time I heard it was when Cyndi Lapuer covered it on her 1986 True Colors album. I wasn't a big fan of the song and this Belle Stars version didn't change my mind. Lauper's take on the tune stayed in a similar vein as The Dixie Cups' hit. The Belle Stars added more rhythms, percussion, effects, and voices. I think it is a better version, but it didn't make me like the song any more. It is kind of a fun party tune and a New Orleans standard and if I were visiting there I'd probably enjoy the tune after a hurricane cocktail or two. Yet it is not a song I'd call up at any point elsewhere to hear.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded as "Jock-A-Mo" in 1953 by James "Sugar Boy" Crawford and his Cane Cutters. Written by Crawford, the single failed to chart. More than a decade later in '65, the girl group The Dixie Cups were in a studio and just happened to break into tune singing "Iko Iko." Apparently, the two sisters in the group had learned it from their grandmother, but had no idea where the song actually came from. As they sang, they used drumsticks on various things to accompany themselves. Their little improv session had gotten recorded and after producers fiddled with it and added some other instruments, the tune was issued out as a single. It would turn into a hit reaching #20. Because no one knew where the song came from, the three Dixie Cup members were given songwriting credit. Once it became a hit, Crawford heard it and filed a lawsuit claiming it was his tune. In the end, he wouldn't get ownership of the song, but would reach a royalty agreement and is often credited as composer on the track with the Dixie Cups. In the 90s, the Dixie Cups' former manager Joe Jones would file a copyright on the song claiming authorship with his family. He was somehow granted the copyright and started to license the song. The Dixie Cups found out and filed a lawsuit, While it seems Jones lost the suit and the Dixie Cups were compensated, he and his family members can sometimes be seen credited as composers on the song. Beside The Belle Stars, the only other artist to-date who has made the US Pop chart with a version is one by Dr. John. His 1972 single got to #71.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

"Good Life" by Inner City

Song#:  3822
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  73
Weeks:  11
Genre:  House, Techno, Dance

Pop Bits:  This Detroit-based group was headed up by electronic music producer/songwriter Kevin Saunderson. Sanderson had been working on some tunes, but needed some lyrics and a vocalist. Through a friend he met Chicago singer/songwriter Paris Grey and got her to provide the vocals for tracks he had recorded. She would also help supply lyrics. One of the songs, "Big Fun," got picked up and featured on a Virgin Records compilation of Detroit techno music and not long after the track started to shape up into a hit in the UK. It to got #8 and then found in audience in the US where it got to #1 on the Dance chart in the fall of '88 (#50 Dance). With those results, Virgin wanted more and Inner City supplied this next single. It would also be a big hit at Dance reaching #1. It wouldn't make the R&B chart, but it got enough attention to spend nearly three months in the bottom half of the Pop chart. By the time summer came along, a debut album titled Big Fun was released (outside of North America the LP was titled Paradise). Two more singles would be released from the album and both went to #1 Dance making them four-for-four on that chart. Neither would reach the Pop or R&B charts. Despite the success on the Dance chart, the album would only be able to reach #162. However, the group continued their mainstream success in the UK with two more singles making the Top 10 and the album hitting #3 and going platinum.

ReduxReview:  Here is another track I haven't heard in ages. I'm not the biggest fan of house music, but this one caught my attention. I liked the staccato, syncopated chorus and the production was crisp and uncluttered. I think this song and the album would influence a lot of other house/dance tracks to come. With four Dance #1s in a row, Inner City was definitely the real deal when it came to house music and Detroit techno.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Following their four straight #1s on the US Dance chart, the group then released the one-off single "Whatcha Gonna Do with My Lovin'." It was a remake of a song originally recorded by Stephanie Mills. Her 1979 version was released as a single and got to #8 R&B/#22 Pop. The Inner City version would stop their streak of #1s on the Dance chart, but it still made it to #8. It was also able to cross over to R&B (#30) and Pop (#76). The track would then be added to a new pressing of the Big Fun album replacing another song, but the adjustment didn't do much to boost sales of the LP. Their next effort, 1990's Fire did not do well. It could only manage to spawn a #15 Dance single and the LP failed to chart. However, their third album, 1992's Praise, did contain two Dance hits including the #1 "Pennies from Heaven" (not a remake of the old standard). Unfortunately, the hits didn't do much for the album, which failed to chart. It seems after that Inner City was left off of the Virgin roster. Since then, the group has released several indie singles with one, 1994's "Do Ya," becoming their final Dance Top 10 (#5).


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

"Let the River Run" by Carly Simon

Oscar Alert!
Song#:  3821
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  95
Peak:  49
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Following the success of her '87 album Coming Around Again and its #18 Pop/#5 AC title-track hit, Simon was given the opportunity to write a theme song for an upcoming comedy-drama film titled Working Girl that was to star Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, and Harrison Ford. The movie was set in New York City, so Simon took inspiration from the city and the film's script and came up with "Let the River Run." In addition to the theme, Simon would write a few other songs/instrumentals that would be used in the film and appear on the soundtrack album. The film would be released late in '88 to good reviews and in time for the Oscar cycle. It would be nominated for six awards including one for Simon for Best Original Song. A few weeks before the awards show, "Let the River Run" was issued out as a single. Thanks to the Oscar nod and the film being a hit, the song started to get some attention. A few weeks later, Simon would end up winning the Oscar for Best Original Song and that helped the single crack the top half of the Pop chart while getting to #11 AC. The soundtrack album would then be able to get to #45. While the tune wasn't a huge hit for Simon, it became a very recognizable tune in her catalog. Unfortunately, it would end up being Simon's final solo effort to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  I remember hearing this for the first time thinking that I liked the rolling rhythm under the tune along with the chorus/bridge sections, yet I felt like it was all trying to lead somewhere, but it didn't quite make it. I wanted a bigger payoff by the end and it didn't come. I also thought that while it was perfect for the film, it wasn't necessarily a good single. It was a very weak year for Best Original Song nominees at the Oscars. There were only two other songs competing, Phil Collins' "Two Hearts" and "Calling You" from the film Bagdad Cafe sung by Jevetta Steele. Collins and Simon tied for the Golden Globe so either one could win, but I think because Working Girl was up for Best Picture and four other awards, Simon edged out Collins (he'd get his Oscar later for the gooey 1999 Tarzan tune "You'll Be in My Heart"). I think it was the right call as Simon's song has been more impactful than Collins' Motown throwback. I've become more fond of Simon's tune over the years, but even now I'm still missing a big splashy finale. The song deserved one and I think it would have really taken it to the next level.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) In addition to winning the Oscar, Simon and her song would also win a Golden Globe and a Grammy in their respective film song categories. In doing so, Simon became the first artist to have solely written and performed a song that won all three awards. To-date, the only other artist to do that has been Bruce Springsteen with "Streets of Philadelphia" (from Philadelphia in '93). There have been other artists that have won all three awards, but they co-wrote their songs with other composers whereas Simon and Springsteen were the sole composers.  2)  Around the same time that this single was released, Simon issued out a new album titled My Romance. It was an album of standards and therefore did not include "Let the River Run." There were no singles pushed out from the album, but it still did fairly well reaching #46. Her return to doing pop originals that she wrote came in the fall of '90 with Have You Seen Me Lately. Its first single "Better Not Tell Her" would be a #4 AC hit, but it would fail to make the Pop chart. The album would top out at #60. Simon would have one final appearance on the Pop chart. She would be a guest performer on Janet Jackson's 2001 track "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)." Originally, Jackson had asked to sample Simon's 1972 #1 "You're So Vain," but then Simon offered to do a new vocal and even some new lyrics. Simon recorded vocals that included some spoken word sections at her studio and forwarded them to Jackson to use. Jackson liked what Simon sent and incorporated most of it into the track. Later on, Jackson wanted to do a remix of the song for single release and got Missy Elliott to provide a rap. The remix would be pushed out as the third single from Jackson's All for You album. It would peak at #28 Pop/#26 R&B/#7 Dance. In 2005, Simon would grab her first Top 10 album since 1978 with her fourth standards album "Moonlight Serenade." It would reach #7.


Monday, May 2, 2022

"Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3820
Date:  03/04/1989
Debut:  97
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  29
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Midler started the decade with a bang and ended it with an even bigger one. In 1980, Midler scored her second Pop Top 10 hit with "The Rose" (#3). It was a song from the movie of the same name that starred Midler. She would receive an Oscar nod for Best Actress and win a Grammy for her performance of the song. Her career was at a new high, but then things went a little awry. Her next film was a major flop and her 1983 album No Frills was a modest seller. She even tried her hand at stand-up comedy with the '85 album Mud Will Be Flung Tonight. Nothing was really gelling, but then she got a multi-film deal with Disney and began starring in a streak of hits that started with '86's Down and Out in Beverly Hills. By '88 her star had reclaimed its spot in the sky, yet she hadn't recorded any new music since No Frills. She would get an opportunity to do that when she took on her next role in the comedy-drama Beaches. Cast alongside Barbara Hershey, the film has Midler as an aspiring entertainer and that gave her the chance to record songs for the film. The soundtrack to Beaches would be released prior to the movie's opening along with a first single "Under the Boardwalk," Midler's take on the 1964 #4 hit by The Drifters, which was used to promote the film. The single didn't get anywhere, but then the movie hit theater's soon after and began to do well. This next single was then released and as the film grew into a hit, the song gained attention. It debuted low on the Pop chart, but steadily climbed until it reached the top spot becoming Midler's first #1. It would also reach #2 AC. The hit helped the soundtrack get to #2 and eventually it would become Midler's best selling album going triple-platinum. A third single from the LP, "I Know You By Heart," a duet with David Pack, would not chart. While Midler would not receive an Oscar nod for her performance in the film, "Wind Beneath My Wings" would net her a third Grammy when it won for Record of the Year (it also won Song of the Year for its writers Larry Henley and Jeff Sibar. Midler also got a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. It was a grand way for Midler to end the decade.

ReduxReview:  Okay, yes, this song has more sap in it than a gallon of Log Cabin. It's been both adored and derided (at the record store I worked at we called it "The Wind Between My Cheeks"). Previous versions may have been admirable, but were unable to truly capture the spirit of the song. Leave it to Midler to wring every ounce of emotion out of the tune. She has always been a world-class interpreter of songs and this one became one of her best. The arrangement, which sounds a tad karaoke-ish now, was just right for the time period as well. Add to that its use in Beaches and a hit was born. The song was all over the place. I even had to sing it at a wedding. It was a well-deserved and long overdue hit for Midler. These days, it's not a song that I need to hear or would voluntarily call up, but if it happens to come on it does bring on bursts of nostalgia and maybe even a tear or two. Other artists will cover this song, but no one will ever top this version by Midler.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This was a remake of a song first recorded and released in '82 by British singer/songwriter Roger Whittaker. It served as the title track to a 1982 album, but it was not released as a single. Sheena Easton would also record it in '82 for an album and country singer Lee Greenwood would put it on one of his in '83. Neither artist released it as a single. The tune's first chart appearance anywhere appears to have been in Australia by singer Colleen Hewett. Her '83 version got to #52. In the US, the first artist to reach the Pop chart with the song was Lou Rawls in 1983. His take went to #65 Pop/#60 R&B/#10 AC.  The same year, Gladys Knight & the Pips would chart with the song (#64 R&B/#23 AC, titled just "Hero") and singer Gary Morris would get to #4 on the Country chart. Other artists would cover the song, but it took Bette Midler to finally make it a #1 hit. It has been reported that Australian singer Kamahl was the first artist to actually record the song, but then it didn't fit the country and western theme of the album he was working on, so he did not release it. Whittaker is then credited as the first artist to record and release the tune.  2) After the success of this song, Midler chose to keep her music career going and in 1990 release the album Some People's Lives. It's first single, "From a Distance," became another platinum single reaching #2. Written by Julie Gold and originally recorded by Nanci Griffith, Midler's version came out during the Gulf War and it resonated with many folks. The song and Midler would be nominated for Grammys in the same categories as "Wind Beneath My Wings" and would end up winning one for Song of the Year. Some People's Lives would get to #6 and go double-platinum. Four of her next five albums would go platinum or gold including another soundtrack, 1991's For the Boys (#22 Pop). She also earned a further four Grammy nominations.